12 Mar

Spirituality Outside Religion

Posted by Jenna, Under Religious


“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies.
My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”
Dalai Lama XIV

My religious label used to be a really important part of my identity. Mormon. My sense of self was defined by that distinction, and much of my time was devoted to making sure I was living my life in a way that felt worthy of that title. Disentangling my Self from my Mormonism has been a painful experience over the past year.

The things I was taught about God were wrapped up with the things I was taught about Joseph Smith and the temple and the hundred other facets that make up the Mormon belief system. I was told to pray and listen to the Spirit for confirmation that I was learning truth. I prayed as directed, and felt a warm comforting feeling when I thought about the Book of Mormon. I wrote in detail about that feeling when I was a believer, which you can revisit here. I had that same feeling when I thought about the temple ordinances, Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, Jesus as Christ, and God as my Heavenly Father. All of the times I felt I had learned the truth about something, that “confirming feeling” I had felt the same to me.

Quotes like this one were reiterated in a variety of ways –

“Finally, the Book of Mormon is the keystone of testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. … But in like manner, if the Book of Mormon be true … then one must accept the claims of the Restoration and all that accompanies it.” source

Imagine a basket, filled with dozens and dozens of papers. Each paper has a statement or belief written on it, and all are ideas that came from authority figures in the belief system. One might say “God has a body like us” and another might say ”There was no death before the Fall of Adam” and then “Millions of Nephites/Lamanites lived, fought, and died in Ancient America.” Each of these things are presented as unimpeachable truth by the authorities who lead and taught as fact by kind people who are doing the best they can. I took it all in and did my best to read from LDS sources to learn more, praying and pondering along the way to decide if I felt I was heading in the right direction. And then one day I started to read things not directly produced by the LDS Church and I realized that some of the things written on the papers in my basket were patently false. The more I read, the more I realized that my basket was full of lies, guesses, half-truth, hyperbole, and nice ideas that can never be substantiated*. I could never sort through everything and figure out what was right and what was wrong.

I left it all behind and decided to start over.  Read more →

11 Mar

One Quick Take

Posted by Jenna, Under Personal

Or four quick takes.


Me with my chiclets, in the Presidio.

07 Mar

One Quick Take

Posted by Jenna, Under Personal

Our friend came over on Sunday and I told him he should bring his dog, so the kids could play with a pet. I had forgotten just how big his dog is though. From T2′s perspective he must look as big as a horse!

05 Mar

Taking Pictures in Small Wildflower Patches

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

I’m currently writing articles for the New York Institute of Photography and my first post went live this week! I used some photos from a portrait session in the bluebonnets of Texas a few years ago to talk about how you can maximize the wildflower patches you are able to scout this spring.


When you click through my links to the post they track the referrals and pay me for the traffic I send their way. Thanks for your support (please help me by sharing the post with your friends!) and I hope to write posts that help you improve your photography skills as well.

taking pictures in small wildflower patches

How to Take Portraits in Patches of Wildflowers

03 Mar

One Quick Take

Posted by Jenna, Under family

My brother-in-law from Poland was in town on business for a few days and we all loved having him stay with us. Uncles are a wonderful thing, aren’t they? T2 liked using him as a lounging spot for drinking her bottle, and T1 couldn’t get enough of the wrestling and tickling. My favorite part was having another adult in the house in the mornings and evenings. He’s planning to come back again in a few months, and we hope he will stay with us again. And I’m hearing rumors that my sister-in-law might be able to come too. It will be her first trip to the US and I’m so excited to experience new things with her.

Have you ever shown someone around your country/locale for the first time? What did you show them and did it help you see your surroundings in a new light?

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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