Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Day Doug Died

By Susan Knight


I have a dear friend who is a widow.

Have you ever heard of Stephanie Nielson? She is the woman who went down in a plane crash in 2008 and was burned over 80% of her body (and her husband was burned, too). She has fought her way back—and even had a baby recently. She was one of the original Mommy Bloggers (NieNie Dialogues) before it was even popular. ABC’s “2020” and Glenn Beck, among others, did interviews with her and her husband.

My friend’s husband, Doug Kinneard, died in that crash. You never hear about him. He was Christian Nielson’s flight instructor and flew with them that day.

After the plane crash, on August 16, 2008, Doug lived for a day—just long enough for his family to make it to the hospital room to say good-bye to him. He was forty-eight years old.

I spoke with Roslyn a few months after the crash. I received a long letter in a Christmas card and, shocked and saddened, called her. She told me the whole sad, but spiritual, story of his death.

Every year, on the anniversary of Doug’s death, the Nielson’s send Roslyn a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and Roslyn and her children and grandchildren visit Doug’s grave. Sometimes, like this year, she went to the temple with family and did sealings.

Roslyn is one of the most spiritual people I know. She and her family lived in our ward in Pennsylvania when Doug, Canadian-born but American military, worked for Boeing, until he got transferred. Our kids were the same age. I remember babysitting for them when Roslyn went to the hospital to have her fourth and last child, who is now serving a mission.

I honor Roslyn.
 
 
For some reason, I couldn't upload my pictures. I'll try to do this at a later date.
 
 

 

Freckles

by Andilyn Jenkins

One of our ANWA sisters, Allison Barton, has a blog, Ideas for Writing Your Personal History, and it's marvelous for writing prompts.  So tonight I went to Allison’s blog for some help. Today’s prompt, “Not Good Enough As You Are?”, launched me into a clear but distant (and terribly embarrassing) memory. In college, we called these kinds of memories River Teeth (a creative non-fiction, short-story book worth the read; disclaimer: adult content).

I’ll spare the boy in my memory by eliminating his name. Not that it should matter—we were six, people. We’ll rename him Scott. His dog’s name will be Scooter. And I don’t remember the other girl’s name, so let’s call her Raegan. I also wish to qualify, everything is true to the best of my twenty-year memory. Forgive my creative liberties.

FRECKLES

I was six nearing seven, and I had a boyfriend. I would chase him around the playground and try to kiss him on the cheek—kissing tag, we called it—our inventive abilities much keener than our relationship skills.

I would go to his house after school and play, and when I got to his house, I always took off my shoes. His mom would tell me I was such a sweet girl for removing my shoes. So, while I did it out of courtesy the first time, after that I did it because I had set a standard at my future in-laws’ house, and I wasn’t going to disappoint. As I sat to take off my laced-up sneakers, the dog Scooter would race to me and lick my face. I’d rub him down, covering myself in blonde dog hair. Scooter loved me.

Scott and I played Donkey Kong on Super Nintendo religiously. And he would show me his list of “favorite girls” that he kept hidden under his mattress. The paper was torn out of a notebook, folded and crumpled, and still had the spiral edges that my teacher loathed and called “paper hair.” My name was on the top with a star next to it, and I knew that meant we would always be together.

But my life was disrupted when our mutual but older friend broke the news. “Andi,” he said, “you’re not Scott’s girlfriend anymore.”

“Sure I am; I’m on the top of his list.”

“Do you know where his list is?”

“Yes. It’s under his mattress,” I countered, determined to be the one with the right information.

“Nope. His mom found it, now he keeps it in the couch cushion. He didn't want you to know he moved it. I’ll show you."

And there it was—under the couch cushion. A dark graphite “X” through my name and a new number 1 scribbled over the old number 2, next to “Raegan.” I felt jealousy’s hot pang in my lungs.  I knew Raegan. She had golden-blonde hair and pretty bangs that were always curled perfectly at her forehead. My dirty-blonde hair was often slicked back and braided, and I didn’t have bangs. But I was pretty sure I was the only girl in our grade that was a decent rival at Donkey Kong.

“Why did he cross out my name?”

“He wanted me to tell you that his mom says he’s too young to have a girlfriend. But he didn’t want me to tell you that really it’s because you have freckles.”

My face turned red. I remember that my face turned red because I was embarrassed that it magnified my ghastly freckles. At home, I went into the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror: two buck teeth, red face, slicked-back hair, and freckles. Everywhere, I saw freckles—on my nose, around my eyes, dusted on my cheeks. I thought back to the grocery store at the checkout with my mom. The cashier told me how he knew I must be wonderful because the angels loved me enough to give me so many kisses. It made me blush then, and I had to ask my mom how he knew the angels kissed me. When she explained, I felt so proud of my freckles, my angel kisses. But now, at almost-seven, staring at my red-faced reflection, I promised myself that as soon as I turned thirteen, when I was allowed to wear makeup, I would paint over my freckles and hide them forever.

I went to my bedroom and held my stuffed bear and pretended to cry. I gasped for air and sobbed like I had seen in movies when a girl’s heart was broken. I pressed my hand on my heart to hold it together, but it didn’t work. I was humiliated and alone—no longer someone’s favorite girl. I wrote in my diary, my purple, sparkly diary, with a lock on the outside, and I told my diary how sad I was and how mean Scott was, and I finished off the entry with a few forced tears making the ink smear and the paper bubble.

Life would go on. Scott would turn out to be a life-long friend, despite this inept six-year-old break-up (who says break-ups ruin friendships?). And I grew to really love my freckles. In fact, my acceptance and love of my freckles always finds its way back to this River Tooth. Because from this point on I understood that, for better or worse, my freckles mattered. So I made a choice. I, maybe even defiantly, always defended my freckles as angel kisses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I did not forget

by Terri Wagner

I have been busy deploying computers at school. Forty one of them are unsuable...that is a problem. And it appears I am the last man standing in the field trying to explain why this happened. Which brings me to my biggest gripe about myself...why can't I be like people who just smilingly say the obvious...I am not in charge, and I feel badly about this, and maybe it will get better soon. Let's hope so.

Instead I'm the idiot who really does feel the pain, and tries to fix it asap. I am not alone in this craziness I'm willing to bet.

How many of us over promise, thinking, well hoping, we really can make it right? And for what? Because I can assure you my motive is not to make me look like a hero. I just honestly feel bad about it.

I'm going to work on that, just as soon as I figure out how to get 41 computers working even though I'm not the geek, LOL. Then I'm going to work on this character failing.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Carpe Diem!

By Claire Enos

Wow! I can't believe I've missed so many weeks! The last few weeks have just melted together in that way that the last few weeks of summer tend to do. Apparently, my siblings in Las Vegas started school today, and here in Oregon the kids start school next week! For those of you who didn't see on facebook, there is a new addition to my family these days, his name is Rocky and he's the most adorable guinea pig ever! Here is a picture of him the day I got him. He will be one this September! I am so lucky to have him, and I'm looking forward to many more weeks and months with the little guy!

On a totally different note: I was talking with one of my best friends about her recent break up. She was talking about why she broke up with him, and I saw some similarities between this guy and who I was a year or two ago. And who I still am to some extent. And again, a similar subject came up when I texted another old friend of mine and he enthusiastically responded, genuinely happy to hear from me, and then when I said he could text me whenever he said: "Yeah, I have just been working 14 hours a day 7 days a week and always think 'next time I have spare time'" Which of course never happens because there is no such thing. So, what am I talking about?! Well, Carpe Diem!

I'm sure we all know this old phrase meaning "Seize the Day." Nothing is going to happen if we don't start now. We aren't going to become authors if we don't write right now. We aren't going to travel and see the world if we don't start planning and saving. We aren't going to make a new friend or meet someone and fall in love if we don't get out there and meet new people! And another thing: Do stuff! Try something out you've always wanted to do! Maybe learn how to fence, or try archery! Or maybe, if you're like me, wander into a Wiccan store or test Buddhist customs in the name of research. Or even try something you don't think you'll like that everyone keeps telling you to try, just so that you can say you've done it!

Sometimes, our problem is that we're too afraid of failing that we keep thinking we'll fail and so we never try! What's the harm in trying? What's the worst that can happen? We fail? Aren't we just back to square one then? Just get out and DO! I promise, it will be well worth your while! And, you may even get some cool stories out of it!

<3Claire

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Surrounding Ourselves with Good Works Keeps Us Afloat


Here is a wonderful object lesson for Family Home Evening.

At our Zone Conference our mission president's wife shared this. It's easy, effective and fun.

Materials: 2 oranges, one with the rind on and the other peeled. (Save the peelings)

Notice the blemishes on the orange. None of us are perfect.

Premise: Surrounding ourselves with good works - like this orange peel - will keep us close to Heavenly Father

            Personal prayer
            Family prayer
            Blessings on the food
            Family Home Evenings
            Fun with kids and grandkids
            Reading scriptures daily
            Allowing only G rated media into our homes.


            Write the list according to you and your family. Each piece of the peeling represents acts things we do each day to keep ourselves close to the Spirit.

If we wrap ourselves in righteousness, we will find joy, positive energy as we live close to the Spirit.



If we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to the things of the world, we can drowned in negative energy, depression, and lose closeness to our Heavenly Father.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Method in my Madness

by Marsha Ward

I'm up to my waist in details for launching my newest novel, Gone for a Soldier. They say the devil is in the details. I've never been sure exactly what that means, but I interpret it as saying if you don't take care of all the details, they will bite you.


One such detail is the actual availability of the book for purchase. One would think that a book should become available on its release date, which I previously designated as September 18. One might be wrong in that assumption. It becomes complicated when at least two formats are involved: ebook and print book.

I have decided that, for reasons of my own I won't divulge here, I would go live with the Smashwords edition of the ebook this week, and so I did. (Click on the link to view and purchase it.)

The Amazon Kindle edition is available for pre-order, and will be delivered on September 10.

The print edition will be available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and other online retailers sometime after I check over the printed proof copy and give the go-ahead for production. That could be before the official date of September 18, on which I will celebrate the birth of Gone for a Soldier with a grand Launch Party via Facebook's Events. A Blog Book Tour will follow, during the week of October 6 through 12.

I learned a lot about book launch parties and blog tours when I released Spinster's Folly in 2012. The biggest lesson for me was don't ever do this by yourself again! To that end, I hired a party and tour planner, and they're doing a good job for me. I've had to provide them with information and images, but that has gone pretty smoothly.

Just a few more details to take care of, and I can return to writing. That makes me as happy as attending a party I don't have to host!
~~~

In case you've never heard of Gone for a Soldier, here's the book description:

Rulon Owen loves two things more than life--his country and Mary Hilbrands.
When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it home to his wife and the son he's never seen.

Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won't come home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness and the unknown future ahead.

Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not all enemies wear the Union blue.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ponderings on Gratitude

by Kari Diane Pike
A tangled garland of emerald green and "Tardis" blue ribbon trails across the bed in the spare room - the last vestige of the mountain of wedding decorations that once spilled out the door and took over the living room and kitchen. Plastic bins filled with laundered chair covers, table cloths, sashes and table-runners rest in the back of my van, and wait their turn to be reunited with their rightful owners. Another bin of book page flowers and silk carnations sits in the corner until I find the courage to shut it behind closet doors.
As I untangle the knotted ribbons, memories dance around me - their ghost-like images accompanied by the echoes of my daughter's giggles, cheering at soccer games, screams of delight during epic rounds of hand-and-foot and Risk, her father's laughter as he holds her in each of her three white dresses, and whispers of "I'll love you forever, all the way around the world and back again to infinity and beyond."
I expected to feel the after-wedding-let-down, but I wasn't prepared for this emotional flood. I didn't know it would be so difficult breathe. I didn't know it would be a challenge to get up in the morning to the quiet of just three of us in the house. The thought that in less than a year, my once crowded, noisy, happy, cranky, spirited, cluttered, peanut-butter-and-jam-smeared, joyful nest will be empty of all but myself and my eternal companion triggers memories of nearly drowning. 
From my journal: I realize that part of my problem is that I don't have a specific goal or plan in mind. Another challenge is my tendency to "borrow a jack" - or in other words - worry and fret about things that haven't happened yet, and most likely won't ever happen. Too often I let those concerns stop me from moving forward. The thing is - I know the path I want to be on - and I am on it. I have a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As long as I stay true to my covenants and remain steadfast in Christ - everything will turn out okay. If I want to write a book, I can write a book. If I want to sell _______, I can sell ________. I just need to do it prayerfully and listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit. 
Lehi saw in his vision (1 Nephi 8:21) that people all over the world are searching for the sweet fruit of the gospel. I have the opportunity to help share that message through my editing for Gospel Ideals International. D&C 123:12 teaches that many people are searching for truth and are deceived because they don't know where to look. I can help them find it! It's time to buckle down and devote time to writing, to editing and to family history.
Then I came across this quote: "Thankfulness is measured by words. Gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions." ~David O. McKay
Part of my dilemma as an almost empty-nester is whether or not I need to find employment outside of my home or start a  business or....maybe, possibly, use my time to write the things of my heart. My priority is to strengthen home and family and keep my covenants and serve the Lord. I've been promised through priesthood blessings that as long as I stay true to my covenants, there will be enough and to spare in my home. The Scriptures teach me that the Lord knows all things from the beginning. He prepares me and prepares the way to accomplish "all his works among the children of men." If the Lord guides me to make writing my "business", He will help me.
The Lord has given me many gifts and while I can verbally thank Him in my prayers, I don't really show gratitude until I use those gifts to praise and honor Him. True conversion comes through the Holy Ghost and is demonstrated through "doing" and "becoming." Gratitude is shown through respect and care and proper use of the gift. I can show gratitude for my physical body by caring for it properly, for my family and friends by serving them and for the gospel by sharing its divine message with others. Gratitude, like forgiveness, is a spiritual gift - a gift available to all who seek it. 
My gratitude for God's gifts - particularly the gift of His Son - and my desire to share this message is a gift. It is a good gift and since all good gifts come from God (James 1:17), I have my answer. Write. Serve God through writing and song. Use these gifts to serve and strengthen my family and others.By doing that, I will be living a life of gratitude to God for His magnificent gifts.
Hugs~