Going "There"

It's no secret:

I definitely don't hide that fact, but I try not to inundate my blog readers with doctrinal concepts or persuasive nudgings to look into it themselves. I just want to be me and share it with whoever wants to know about it and if they want more, I'm happy to give them more. So when someone from a college in Boston emailed me saying they are doing a study on Mormon parents raising children with special needs and wondered if I would be interested in participating, I gladly accepted the invitation.

Then I hesitated a bit. I mean, I'm not a perfect Mormon by any stretch of the imagination! One of my co-workers calls me Jack (for Jack Mormon). I don't say that to brag at all, but it's just true. He thinks because I swear on occasion (gasp!) and am not afraid to go to venues where there is drinking (gasp!) and drink Diet Mtn. Dew (gasp!) that surely I cannot claim to be a "real" Mormon. Whatevs, dude. Do I have room for improvement? Yes! Infinite room! But let me tell you what, I have truly questioned, studied, and looked at the LDS doctrine. I have been through the depths of my own personal hell trying to figure out what and who I believe in. And time after time, experience after experience, I have learned and gained knowledge of and faith in an eternal Father in Heaven who loves His children immeasurably and speaks to them through prophets, scriptures, and personal revelation.... just as is taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I cannot deny my experiences and am forever grateful for them so I have a compass in the days ahead. So I dusted off my insecurities and am going forward with the process, trying to give my perspective as an imperfect person's understanding of infallible, infinite truths.

So far, our interview has been via email, but she is coming to Salt Lake next week for an in-person meeting and to see some of the sites. It has been fun digging a little deeper into my personal beliefs and put them into words for someone else to read. Anne is not Mormon, but has been very respectful and I appreciate that. I'm actually grateful this study will be done by someone not of the LDS faith to give a non-biased perspective. I thought I'd share things we've discussed so far, mostly to keep my own record. Many answers are links, either my own or others, that do a good job of summing up my feelings on the matter(s).

1. Can you give me an introduction to Chloe and your entrance into the special needs community?

2. I've heard many LDS women speak of their children as "special souls" who are on this earth for a particular reason. I've also read many talks given by people in positions of authority in the church that lay out specific theological responses to disability. What do you think of all this? Does it impact how you see your daughter and feel about her purpose in this world?

First and foremost, let me start by saying I believe every single person is/has a unique and “special soul.” Chloe is no exception! I believe her spirit is bursting with joy and unconditional love for everyone. She has a special ability to see only the good in people, and to uplift people’s spirits just by being her. Friends and families going through difficult times ache to be around her, they beg to come over for a visit or for us to bring Chloe to them because there is no greater medicine for sadness than a dose of Chloe’s big, happy spirit! You will probably only understand this when you meet her. Do I think she would have been the same soul in a “typical” body? Yes. But I think it would have been more easily overlooked. I also think the fact that she was given and chose to accept this life encourages those who know Chloe to choose service and gratitude a lot more often than they otherwise would have. Being Chloe’s mother is a profound privilege that is nearly impossible to put into words. Also, I’m writing this with Sesame Street in the background, so I’m not sure how clear it is, but this is the best I can do for now.

Who Chloe Is Vs What Chloe Has
Wait and See
Fragile Life
Who We Are
Heavenly Story
Meeting Life's Challenges
Works of God
The Young Women Values, specifically Divine nature & Individual Worth

3. What made you start Kidz?

4. What do you think of the special needs blogging community in general? Have there been moments when it's really helped you out?

5. How do you feel about doctors? Do you tend to trust them? I know one mother said that she trusted doctors but that they were "just doctors" and not privy to divine workings. What do you think of that?

For some reason, this is the hardest for me to answer. I know exactly how I feel about it, but I don’t know exactly how to communicate it. I’ll do my best, though.

I feel inclined, first of all, to let you know that I think the profound miracle that is the human body is actual proof that there is a God. The inner workings of the body, the way it is created, the way it grows, the way it presents pain, the way it fights disease, etc., etc., etc…. AMAZING! I just cannot see how anyone could understand these things at any level and not believe in a divine Creator.

That being said, I have absolute respect in those who choose to understand the human body to the best of their ability, and learn to treat different ailments. I have a brother-in-law in medical school and I do and have worked in the healthcare industry for many years. Also, given our situation with Chloe’s physical condition, I have put my most prized possession, my fragile, vulnerable, precious daughter, in the hands of medical professionals more times than I can count! Without question, they have my admiration and trust.

However, (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) my respect and trust for medical professionals goes full circle back to the beginning of my answer. I believe medical doctor’s knowledge is limited, whereas the wisdom and love of our Heavenly Father is infinite. My favorite and most trusted doctors are those who are humble and freely admit that they don’t know everything, might need to study more, consult with other doctors, etc., before being able to determine the best plan of action. I don’t know or care, really, if our doctors are Mormon or atheist. I don’t expect them to seek divine intervention, that is something I do and my family does as we take different steps in regard to Chloe’s health. I gather as much information and knowledge from doctors as I can possibly take in, then my husband and I discuss the information, make a decision together, and take that decision to our Heavenly Father in prayer. If, after sincere prayer, we feel peaceful about our decision(s), we go forward. If not, we keep asking questions, we get more opinions, we dig deeper. More often than not, we feel good about the direction doctors give and go with their advice.

6. Did you serve a mission or attend a BYU school?

I did not serve a mission or go to BYU. My husband did go on a mission, though, to the Kennewick, Washington area. I went to Utah State, University of Utah, and University of Phoenix. I have a Bachelor's in Business Management and am working on a Master's in Healthcare Administration. (Just 3 classes to go!)


If any of you in the Salt Lake area are LDS, have a special needs child(ren) and would like to meet Anne this upcoming week and/or participate in the study, just let me know. I know she would welcome any takers!


Team Carter Jay said...

This sounds like a very interesting study. I can't wait to hear more about your visit with her :)

Shannon said...

What a great opportunity to share your beiefs Tara! It's amazing how much you learn when you have to articulate it for others! Thanks for sharing!

jocalyn said...

i really enjoyed reading this post. you are amazing, and inspiring, and your beautiful family has touched so many people! (including me!)

Jennifer said...

You articulated your answers so well! I'm glad you're choosing to do this study. Like many, I am intrigued by religion and other people's belief systems. I hope your story reaches and changes lives through this study.

Cynthia said...

Thank you for being willing to stand and represent both for Special Needs Moms and Mormons in general. I'm a bit of a 'Jack' myself but it doesn't mean our voices and experiences aren't valid too. It's a big church with lots of room!

April said...

Beautiful post Tara! You are amazing!! Let me know if you need my help!

Jenny said...

I love that you did this...and I love that you got me involved too! I've been so impressed with Anne. She's the real deal -- good good person. And you, my dear, well...you're just stellar, dont' we all think so?:) Love you Tara! Hope to see you in March!