Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Joy of Light

As I was transporting a busload of kids to school this morning, I could see a wall of fog approaching from the north. I looked to the west and had a breathtaking view of the Stansbury Mountains. A bank of clouds obscured the snow-capped tips and the glittering snow on the peaks below were tinged pink above a bank of silver gray fog. That view of light reflected on the peaks brought a surge of joy and gratitude to my soul, and I pointed out the scene to the kids in the van. I wasn't sure they were as impressed as I was, but I was grateful for the vision of beauty to start my day.
As I drove into the fog, I pondered about what it was I found beautiful. Was it the patterns? Was it the contrast? What was it that gave me joy at that moment? I realized I found beauty in knowing the sun is still as warm and clean and bright as ever somewhere beyond the rolling wave of fog I was driving into.
Then I thought about all the people who have reflected the light of a living God in my life. When I meet someone who is reflecting the light of Christ in their lives, the same spark of joy I felt when I saw the sun on the mountains brightens my soul. Mother Teresa was like that. So was Ghandi. Many of my personal friends and family reflect that same light. We can find great happiness in simply serving those around us. Isn't that what the light of Christ is? His light is reflected in us by our actions.
During this holiday season, someone somewhere may be needing just a moment of reflected light to find the courage to head into their own wall of fog. May we be aware of the God that gave us light and be the reflectors of his love to those around us.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hell Minus One

A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied my son's Bear Den in their tour of the Tooele Transcript Bulletin office. While I was there, I picked up a copy of Hell Minus One, the memoir of Anne Johnson Davis. She was the survivor of Satanic Ritual Abuse, something most of us don't like to think about. I spent a few minutes this morning with David Bern, Editor-in-Chief of Transcript Bulletin Publishing. The book touched me in such a powerful way that I wanted him to know what it meant to me. I was saddened to hear of Anne Johnson Davis's death, but the legacy of her life will live on in the lives of those she has blessed with her story. If you want to understand the power in forgiveness, please pick up a copy of her book.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Regarding Freedom

As we approach the 4th of July, I thought it would be a good time to post a couple of poems by Steven G. O'Dell, a fellow writer. 

Little Miss Liberty
Little Miss Liberty sat on her tuffet, with not in the world a care. Along came a spider and sat down beside her; she thought it no reason for scare.
"I see," said the spider, "that you have no silk to adorn yourself and look grand. If you wish, I could loan you some of my own. I suggest that we start with one strand."
Miss Liberty saw how it shone in the sun, how it glistened and glimmered so bright. She thought, "There's no harm, as he says it's a loan, and I'm not sure that now I look right."
So, accepting his offer, she willingly wound the strand about herself. Indeed it glistened and glimmered and shone, but she thought that a few more might help.
And putting aside all her conscience and pride, she asked if he'd spare her some more. The spider exclaimed, "It would be such a shame to hoard what I have in store."
And being a kind and giving soul, he gladly did bestow, one shining silk thread after another-- row after brilliant row.
How grand she looked, how glorious, how marvelous indeed; but then she noticed her arms were bound and she could not move her feet.
"Just one thing more," the spider said, "to add the crowning glory." Then tightly he wrapped her face and her head and ended her life's story.
Perhaps you see a moral here, that you could learn from, too. A man from the bank or the government may one day approach you.
An offer may be made to help; a loan, a gift or grant. Your liberties required in turn, but you should say, "I can't.
"The cost for what you give is high; your gift is one I fear. I will not sell to anyone--my freedom is too dear."
Believe life's struggle keeps us free--take not the easy road. Resist dependence on another, make freedom your abode.

A Letter to America, In Verse – © Steven G. O'Dell 2008
Goodbye, America; goodbye--'tis bittersweet to see thee die;
yet, it seems, there is no choice. You no longer hear the pleading voice
that cries for justice, sure and true, as once so long ago did you—
when tyrants' hand upon you heavy, did a burdensome weight so levy
and patriots were traitors called, who more than man by God were awed
and loved their land and freedom so, as only God above could know.
And valued was the right to fail, for honest effort was no jail.
We were not spared of consequence and learned how daily to repent.
Yea, truth was cherished most of all—we reveled in its hallowed hall;
Yet, along the path we somewhere strayed and step-by-step we left the grade
That led to peace and happiness and taught the humble soul to bless
A land of opportunity with no promise, but to be free.

We traded for 'entitlements', 'til all our freedom is near spent
and find we still are not secure as when uncertainty endured,
for we gave our feathers to make our nest and now we find we heavily rest
in sorrow that we made ourselves—we shall not fly without God's help.
We must return to our first love—remember Him that sees above.

Oh, follow tenets tried and true; to freedom, America—I pray you do.

For only repentance can remove this blight, replacing darkness with full light.
In the end, the choice is yours; God will not force through any doors.
He only begs that you give heed—the choice was always yours indeed.
Oh, do not say He doesn't care, has forgotten us or isn't there;
The proof is easy as can be--a humble heart and bended knee.
No disposition to do wrong, but only filled with joyous song.
If Justice has a mighty claim, know, too, that Mercy can have the same.
Will you not tire of eating crumbs? Think back on what you have become,
and how you came to be so low; by inch and step you wandered so.
If happiness is to endure, it only springs from souls so pure;
the righteous only know true peace, when hatred, strife and malice cease.
And God's true city will arise to banish all deceit and lies.

Deep down, I think you've always known that mankind reaps what man has sown.

For all things have their opposites; both good and evil do exist.
And so, my friend, I'll pray for you. There's little else that I can do,
'til you desire to make true change and institute a Godly age,
when you care for neighbor, too, as much as you have cared for you.

I only pray you change your fate--before it's lastingly too late. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thanks, Mom

I just wanted to be on record as appreciating my mom. There isn't anyone else on this planet who knows me like she does.

From my first skinned knee to my sorrow as a parent, Mom has been there for me.

My earliest memories are of Mom stopping to point out simple things: the magic of shapes inside clouds, the delicate wings of butterflies, the fascination of watching a pill bug roll into a ball.

My mother also introduced me to the magic of the written word. I remember lazy afternoons where I was glued to the floor next to her knee while she read from Freckles by Jean Stratton Porter. I lived those moments in the forest with the characters. Or Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I mourned with Heidi when she missed her grandfather. I listened with fascination as Mom's voice changed in pitch or tone according to who the character was.

Mom also shared with me her love of good music. I might not have been able to pronounce Tchaikovsky, but I knew how to dance to "The Nutcracker."

Like me, Mom didn't have a college degree, but she taught me the value of constant learning. We had a library in our home that we were expected to use. Bored wasn't even a word in our house. If any of us said we were "that word," there were always plenty of activities to fill the time. Not only did we deliver the local paper, we devoured it - cover to cover. The funnies always came first. I'm not talented at writing humor, but I know where I can find it; and I lived in a home where there was always laughter.

I know I've been able to find joy in the moments of life from the example of my mother. When I find joy in driving my kids to school, joy in having a house despite the piles of laundry and dishes, joy in watching an ant carry a leftover crumb my kids have left on the sidewalk, I know I can thank a mother who took those moments to stop and find joy too.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Book Tour for A Royal Elf of Abalon

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of Anna del C. Dye's blog tour. The best part was, of course, getting to read an advanced copy of her new book, A Royal Elf of Abalon. I have read several of Anna's elf books. I love her portrayal of the valiant and protective Elf men. I enjoy reading stories where the men are genuinely good people who love their wives. You can follow Anna on Twitter. She loves to hear from her readers. If you love the book like I do, you can show your appreciation by nominating her book for this year's Whitney Awards.

If you look at this year's movie line up, it's a year for fairy tales. "A Royal Elf of Abalon" is no exception. I felt liked I'd wandered into a fairy tale when I picked up the book. The story started off with secret meetings and references to a wicked queen. When I first started reading it, I could see from both the title and the details included at the beginning of the book where the story was headed, and I was intrigued about how all the pieces would fit together. I confess to having stayed up very late to finish the book. Like all good fairy tales, there's a happily-ever-after ending, but I ached for the characters as they went through their trials to get there. It's a story I enjoyed and its also one I feel comfortable handing to my children. The romance and action will interest both the young audience and an older one. Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

With Craig travelling so much, we've missed Easter with him for the past several years. This year was no exception. As during the previous years, we rearranged the visit from the Easter Bunny to coincide with his trip home (in this case, a week early). As I was preparing for church this Easter morning, it was so nice to relax and think about the real reason for the season. There were no chocolates. No kids hyperactive from too much candy. No broken hard boiled eggs. It was just a typical Sunday where we struggled to find shoes (matched and put aside yesterday, but somehow managed to be lost this morning) and get everyone ready to head out. Even though we had a typical Sunday-morning rush to get ready, it somehow seemed more relaxing and less stressful to not have the secular Easter celebration items to mar the morning. It was just us and a humble recognition that our lives would be in vain without Christ's willing sacrifice for us.

Sister Wendy Heder taught the Easter lesson in Relief Society this morning. I was in nursery with the twins, but she was kind enough to make sure the nursery leaders and adult attendees received the handout. I took an extra to give to a sister recovering from surgery, and I liked it well enough that I wanted to share it with you. She found the lesson on SugarDoodle. I'm going to share this with my children later today. Even if you don't get to it this Easter, I think it's a lesson that can work any time to teach the significance of Christ's sacrifice.


Easter Egg Lesson

For a unique presentation of the often heard Easter story, cut apart the following scriptures and put them correspondingly numbered plastic eggs. Add the appropriate item (in parentheses) except for the 12th egg, which should remain empty.

Serve the eggs in a decorated basket, from an egg carton, or at each place setting at the dinner table. This adds a nice touch to a church lesson, family home evening, or as a gift. Or play a game of “scrambled eggs” by having players match the scriptures to the items, or putting the story in sequence.

1. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39; (Sacrament Cup)

2. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,, And said unto them, what will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-15 This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah 11: 12-14 that Jesus would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. (3 dimes)

3. When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: And when they had bound him, they led him away and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Matthew 27: 1-2; (knotted twine)

4. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Matthew 27: 24-26; Do we also wash our hands? (chunk of hand soap)

5. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews and they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. Matthew 27: 28-30 (square of red velvet)



6. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. Matthew 27: 31-32 And He was crucified… nailed to the cross. (Press this nail into your hand … feel how it must have hurt.) (toothpick cross, tiny nail)

7. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet… And sitting down they watch him there: Matthew 27: 35-36 (small pair of dice)

8. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent:. . . Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. Matthew 27: 50-51 & 54 (tiny bag of crushed rock or potting soil)

9. Then Joseph, a rich man) went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, the wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock. Matthew 27: 57-60; (strip of white cloth)

10. And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. Pilate said unto them (the chief priests and Pharisees), Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. Matthew 27: 60, 65-66; (a stone)

11. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. / And, behold, there was a great earthquake; for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And the angel . . . said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. Mark 16:1, Matthew 28: 2 and 5; (bay leaf, cloves or other herb)

12. Then the angels said unto the women, “Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen.” Matthew 28:6; (empty)

Monday, March 12, 2012

THE ALIAS by Mandi Slack

When I heard about Mandi's blog tour for THE ALIAS, I was excited to join it. Her book is exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading. I'm also familiar with Mona, so it was fun to read a book that used the little town as a setting.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thoughts from Philadelphia



Normally on a Sabbath morning, I would be hunting down lost pairs of shoes and missing ties for my many little ones in preparation for attending church meetings. This Sunday finds me two time zones away from my kids with my thoughts on Beth, who is somewhat relieved from the necessity of dressing all my little ones since most of them are sick today. I was horrified at the thought of leaving my sick ones behind, but the tickets were non-refundable and non-transferrable, so I left my little ones behind and continued my planned trip to Philadelphia.

In the past couple of days where I’ve checked in with Beth, I’ve decided having them sick was probably a blessing in disguise. My normally very active twins have been sleeping most of the time. That certainly makes them easier to watch.

I never thought I’d be able to visit the place where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and signed. What a thrilling couple of days it’s been. When I entered Independence Hall, I could feel the power in the place. Truly, the guiding hand of a loving God helped guide the creation of our great land. I know God helped create this land of freedom. I pray we don’t destroy what He so carefully created for us.

I also shed some tears at the Constitution Center.

After the presentation in the main hall, I had the opportunity to roam through the displays and came across one that caught my attention. There were several columns of law books stacked to the ceiling to demonstrate how many law books there are to define the laws of the land. It seems silly when the Constitution itself isn’t a very lengthy document.

In a waist –high display around the many law books was a hand-written note from an inmate in Florida. He wasn’t a wealthy man and had been denied a court-appointed attorney. He’d had to represent himself and lost the trial. He was sentenced to several years in jail. Rather than accept his fate, he sat down and wrote a letter to the Florida Supreme Court, which went on to the Supreme Court of the land. This simple letter from one ordinary citizen changed the whole way the United States handles court-appointed attorneys. Before this case was decided, it was up to each state to decide how they would handle attorneys. I didn’t realize until I read the display that a simple right guaranteed by the Constitution wasn’t being treated equally throughout the United States.

 The law books aren’t there to re-write the Constitution. They are there because of how we have defined the Constitution. Words mean many things to many people, and how we interpret them in a court of law varies widely. So sad that a document which should be so clear is muddied by so many different interpretations.

The scriptures, too, have been muddied by very many interpretations. It is so wonderful to know that we have a living prophet on the earth today who can clarify those interpretations and tell us what the meanings are in light of today’s information. Knowing that God is still very much involved with his earthly children brings peace in a world full of confusion.

As you know, my husband travels a lot. He’s been gone for several weeks. It was nice to be able to fly out on points so I could spend some time with him. We had enough points to fly out two of the older kids as well. Katrina is 15 and Aaron is 13. We thought they’d enjoy the historical significance of the tours.

My kids are very much accustomed to a Mom who can do it all. I often do. I take care of all the family while Craig is out of state making money to support us. I do this without complaining and very grateful that he has a good job. I know he’s thinking of us while he’s working and traveling.

During this short time we’ve had together, I’ve stopped in front of doors so Craig can open them for me. Yes, it would be easier to just step ahead and open the doors myself. In the same way that it’s easier to grab the cash and buy my own birthday and Christmas gifts. I could get them myself, but then I’d be denying him the pleasure of doing something for me. When I take that moment to stop and let him open the door for me, I’m letting him take a moment to show me his love for me. I know he shows me his love every day he’s away, but when he’s right there with me, by stopping at a door that would admittedly be easier for me to just open myself, I’m making a statement that I value his care.

To my astonishment, my 15 year old daughter would often barge right up and open the door instead of waiting for her dad to do it. I realized my daughter hasn’t been raised in a world where any thought at all is given to the “protective male” role. She plays soccer in the Tooele League with the guys and gets mowed down in the process. The guys don’t care if she’s a girl or not. She’s an obstacle to be ran through if she’s in the way.

When I was little and I played “cops and robbers” with my cousins or the boys in the neighborhood, I was the beautiful girl who was kidnapped and the boys were fighting over me. I wasn’t in there fighting with the boys. Now when my girls play, they’re one of the cops or the robbers and no one is trying to protect them. We can thank the move to Equal Rights for that fundamental change in play. Our kids have it drilled into them from practically the moment they can talk that girls are equal to boys in all ways. Sounds great. Only there really are fundamental differences between girls and boys and men and women. Science is slowly catching up with something God has known forever. Our brains are wired different. Our bodies run differently. Women don’t have the upper body strength men do. Just recently, I applauded Rick Santorum on his stance in women in the military. They don’t belong on the front lines. We are blind and stupid if we think they do.

The same God who inspired our wonderful Constitution also inspired the document THE PROCLAMATION ON THE FAMILY. The protective male is a divine mandate. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” In a time when the world sees things through unclear lenses, the Lord has seen fit to give us a clearer vision. It behooves us as mothers , sisters, and daughters, to allow the men in our lives to serve us. So take that moment to step back and let them open the door.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

CHANGE OF HEART Coming Soon!!

Takeshi Yukiko, his white jacket pristine, stared through the bars of the small cage. The rabbit crawled to the feeding tray and started to nibble on the fresh lettuce, unaffected by the heavy panting of its companion.
Takeshi looked up as Yasanari Yokichi joined him in observing the rabbits. She glanced at the face of her gold watch. The diamonds flashed as she moved. “The antidote was administered 60 minutes ago?” Her words were clipped and assured.
Takeshi nodded, unable to hide the pleased smile that spread across his face. “One hour. Look at the difference.”
They both watched the two rabbits. The first was happily nibbling on the lettuce, her open wounds quickly sealing shut. The other lay prone on the floor, her skin gaping awkwardly in various stages of sloughing. The wounds did not bleed. They merely continued to open, eaten alive by the yeast that devoured her living body.
Yasanari nodded then picked up her phone. “The first subject shows excellent results. How do you want to proceed?” She listened briefly and shut her phone. “You are to administer the antidote to the remaining rabbits, except for this one.” She thrust her chin at the ailing animal panting in the cage. “I need a full write up on the results on my desk in the morning.”
Takeshi was filling a needle as she spoke. “You can count on it.” His voice was a pleased purr.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Fruitful Tree Giveaway Winners

There were 675 requests for the book. Congrats to the winners: Zachary Cuttitta, Megan Burnett, and Kayla Cook. If you didn't win and are interested, the book is available on Kindle and Nook and also available as a paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also request a copy from your local library. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan

As I was sitting down to spend some time with my Kindergartener and the twins, I picked up my favorite books to share with them. Along with Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle and Maurice Sendak, my stack included my absolute all-time favorite, All the Places to Love. If I had my way, every children's library would carry a couple of copies of this book. The paintings by Mike Wimmer are beautiful renditions of a family's love for their land. It's a story about multi-generational ties to the world they can touch and see and smell. Even if I didn't have any children in my home, I would keep a copy as a reminder of "All the Places to Love." Our world is a divine gift from a loving Father. My prayer is that 2012 will bring all of us closer to our friends, family, and our world. And, if you haven't had the pleasure to dive into a picture book, Patricia MachLachlan's book is a perfect place to start.