I am a Mormon.

My name is Laura Barlow Leavitt and I am a Mormon, who willfully and joyfully married an ex-Mormon atheist. We were both orthodox and rebellious about the way we did it. After two months of virtuous dating (and 13 years of friendship), we eloped to the Manhattan courthouse, til death do us part. We called our parents and friends and families to let them know the next day. (The pic is of him with my nieces and nephew a few weeks after we got married.)

I think many have wondered how dedicated I could possibly be to my faith after such a drastic move toward a lifetime of seeking middle ground. Some of the most outspoken criticism I've heard was from a good friend who's a non-denominational Christian. He couldn't imagine waking up to someone who didn't believe in God everyday. Maybe my reasons for marrying Wayne sound like excuses to some, but I'd like to emphasize that I in no way intend to leave or even slowly slink away from the church. I make efforts to attend church weekly, the temple monthly, and read the Book of Mormon daily. I am grateful for the gospel in my life and try to live in a way that demonstrates that gratitude. Wayne knows how I feel and offers support. He's willing to give feedback on the flyers I'm designing for the upcoming primary activity, holds my hand in a moment of silence before each meal while I bow my head and silently pray, holds me while I'm kneeling to say bedtime prayers, and never complains about the 10% of each of my paychecks that goes straight to tithing even when we're short in other areas. He listens carefully and empathetically when I'm bawling over spiritual experiences and even once hugged me and let me cry on his shoulder when I discovered that a dear Mormon friend had become an atheist. When I stopped to laugh at the irony he said, "Laura, it's ok. I get it."

The most difficult part of being married to an atheist, is that I believe he's my one and only, my soulmate, that we were meant to be, that God has somehow stamped our civil marriage certificate with his seal of divine approval although that makes no sense to some. And Wayne, conversely, by default of his atheist belief system, cannot believe in such a romantic idea...sigh. But I should also clarify that his expressions of love never feel cold or limited and that our affections feel quite balanced.

I think it's important to view things from his angle too, to acknowledge the sacrifices of what it means to be married to someone who's a believing Mormon. I cannot describe or explain the reasons why he opted to leave the church; I'd never want to force words in his mouth about something so personal; but I know that it came sincerely for him and that it was very difficult. He's been met not only with disapproval from many close around him, but is now viewed as an outsider by the culture that brought him up. And unlike many who take such departures from their native cultures and beliefs, he's made efforts to continue relationships with those still on the inside loop. Our marriage solidifies that familiar role as outsider and sinner when he comes in contact with the community through me. Every time the home teachers or visiting teachers come over, every time I invite the missionaries over for a meal, every time someone in the ward invites us over for Sunday dinner, every time we attend a ward party together. I watch in admiration as he handles these individual scenarios with grace, friendliness, and respect.

I just don't see how I could have shut him out of my life. He makes me breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. He tells me he loves me in his sleep. When I couldn't go to an art museum with him, he texted me the titles of the paintings so I could google them. He gets teary-eyed just reading about the steps of childbirth because he's so excited about the family we're going to start.

Is this not the point of the gospel of Jesus Christ? To love others as he has loved us? To overcome difference? I don't believe in a God who would simply shun someone who brings so many blessings and so much love to my life. I believe that through the atonement, all are granted mercy and that everyone will have a chance to return to live with Him. To those who would dismiss Wayne as having already blown his chance, I say, "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

I don't think it will always be so easy because nothing ever is. But I feel no dichotomy that the two things I am most grateful for in my life are Wayne and the gospel of Jesus Christ. 


pregnancy brain.

Guys, I keep having nothing to write cuz I am in pre-baby bliss. Sometimes I think about writing something on this blog and all I can think of is how Wayne is so funny and wonderful and how work is ok and I'm so glad to be healthy and have a healthy little fetus (knock on wood) and a cute little apartment in a cute neighborhood with funny old Italian people downstairs and how I'm seriously so blessed.

Not much fun to read.

So, I thought it might be more fun to document my various pregnancy obsessions because for me, pregnancy hormones create obsessions.


It was over this trippy film depicting the most horrifying parenting story ever that I first realized I was pregnant. Before I knew what it was about at all (because it takes a while to get what's going on) I turned to Wayne and said, "Hun. I seriously think I'm pregnant. For reals."
"Babe, at one point you were convinced you had a brain tumor." (This is not really true.)
Of course I was RIGHT (about the pregnancy). And this film with all of its grotesque imagery stuck with me forever since the hormones were already flowing. And some parts are so quotable: (Who doesn't love David Lynch?):
"Just cut it up like a regular chicken?"
"Yup. Just like a regular chicken."

2. TWIN PEAKS (Phase 2)

I'll probably never get over Twin Peaks. It's the best TV show ever. Wayne and I first kissed over an episode of TP when I was dressed like Audrey and that sealed it in my heart forever. It was during my first trimester that we rewatched most of seasons 1 and 2.


I know that musicals aren't for everyone, but I'm willing to argue the timelessness here. Did you know that this premiered in 1879? If you think that something like an old musical about pirates is lame, then you won't be surprised. But the humor is fresh.

It is either a funny fact or pure destiny that both Wayne and I grew up on the genius movie version of this play. We celebrate it by sometimes singing passages in the morning over breakfast. (Yes, we allow singing at our table.) Wayne's family still celebrates Frederick's birthday when it pops up every leap year.


So, we watch a lot of Italian shiz in our house, but this one is my favorite so far. So freaking funny. Better than What about Bob (which i think is pretty amazing). I even learned some Italian so I could quote it. I don't know how to spell what learned how to say, so you'll just have to hear me in person if you want proof.


Gregory Orr wrote the most beautiful poem by this title. It makes poetry feel easy and Greek myth seem valid. Please read it.


Jason Taylor is the best friend I've ever had during my subway commute. I still miss him all of the time. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed reading fiction so thoroughly.


Our baby wouldn't stop kicking when we watched this because of all of the pumping adrenaline. Scary stuff. I got really into all of the conspiracy theories about what Stanley Kubrick is trying to say through subtle symbols throughout the film and we even went to see Room 237 for our last NYC dinner/date. I check under the bed every night to make sure Wayne hasn't got an axe.

The End.