Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Book of Mormon in a Month

by Terri Wagner

For some years now I take this challenge. I like the idea of reading the BOM in a month (any month with 30 days will do). Somehow reading the entire book in really one setting paints a picture of a family, a land, and lessons passed down. It's tough, because if you miss a day, you are seriously behind. Take the challenge. Share your thoughts on FB. Read 8 chapters a day. Simple right? Remember you can listen to the scriptures, read them online, in your hand and enjoy the experience. The FB page to check in with your progress and enjoy others is Read the Book of Mormon Challenge.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fun ways to be thankful

I like to think of ways to make November all about being thankful and helping my kids even thought they are young to think about behind thankful too. So I am sharing some of the fun things I try to do to keep thankfulness the theme for November at our house. If you like any of theses feel free to give them a try, they would be good for some older kids too!
1. Make a paper turkey and write things we are thankful for on the feathers. You could do this in one night or slowly add feathers throughout the month.
2. Thankful tree same basic idea as the turkey but with leaves on the tree instead of feathers on the turkey.
3. Take up the challenge of sharing on social media something you are thankful for everyday of November.
4. Start a gratitude journal.
5. Play the I am thankful for… game. Kind of like I spy with my little eye.
etc. Theses are just some of the fun ways we have tried keeping the spirit of thanksgiving all month long. What else have you all tried?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Kari Diane Pike

Gratitude - Dictionary definition: "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness." 

"Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us" (https://www.lds.org/topics/gratitude?lang=eng). 

Gratitude is more than saying thank you. Gratitude requires me to be humble, to notice things, and to be patient. Gratitude shows me how to appreciate each moment and live in the present. Gratitude reminds me to never take anyone for granted. Gratitude motivates me to look for ways to serve and lift others. Gratitude brings me closer to the Lord. 

Gratitude gives me the strength I need to get through the hard times and reminds me from whom all blessings flow all of the time. My gratitude list could fill volumes. Today I want to say how grateful I am for you - the person reading this blog - yes, YOU! You are phenomenal. I hope you know that. There's no one else just like you. You were created to be where you are at this specific time for a particular reason. Thank you for being who you are and for touching my life. I am better because you are here. 
Happy Thanksgiving.
Life is magnificent.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Helpful Writing Blogs

by Marsha Ward

I believe in life-long learning. Most of my learning, of necessity, deals with writing and the skills I need to forward my indie writing and publishing career.

I read a lot of helpful writing blogs so that I can learn new things. Then I  gauge how or whether to adopt them into my life.

One of the most useful sites for me is The Passive Voice, an aggregated blog with partial articles and links to the complete articles. The host of the site is an attorney with an interest in authors, self-publishing, and traditional publishing.

Sometimes I will link to a suggested article and start delving into other articles on the site. That is how I found this post by author Toby Neal about writing a multi-book love story in any genre. Since I face challenges in writing a saga involving my fictional Owen Family, I thought I should have a look. I came away enlightened.

When I find a blog that offers sound advice, I usually subscribe to it so a heads-up on new posts will arrive in my inbox. I finally decided reading through emails was better than trying to chase down each and every blog by finding my bookmark for it. If I'm on the wrong computer, I might be out of luck.

Some of the blogs I follow are listed on this page at my blog under Indie Writer Resources. I have a couple more I need to add, though, such as Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog, which I read every Thursday for her Business Musings. I usually focus on the Monday post at The Write Conversation, as it contains tips about effective blogging.

Go ahead, click on the page at my blog and try out a couple of new sites to increase your writing and/or business knowledge.

Then come back here and let us know what you learned in the comments.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Books That Help Me Write

by Cindy R. Williams

If your a writer, you have books on your shelf about writing. Some may be crisp and almost new, covered with a light layer of dust, others may be dog-eared and marked with tons of post-its.

Here are some books, just some--or this blog would be tooooooooo long--that I have on my shelf for reference.

Beginning Writer's Answer Book, edited by Jane Friedman.  The entire book is a list of questions about writing, followed by answers. Good stuff, here.

Thanks, But This Isn't For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected, by Jessica Page Morrell  To quote the book, "This book . . . written by a Demon of Harsh Reality and meant as a hefty dose of reality along with encouragement to keep trying, to keep learning. Because writing is a craft and it can be learned." It is just that. It tells it like it is, and sometimes a bit crudely.

Writing Tools--50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark. This book has sections like NUTS AND BOLTS, with chapters like;  Begin sentences with subjects and verbs, Order words for emphasis, Activate your verbs, Be passive-aggressive, Watch those adverbs. Take it easy on the -ings, Feat not the long sentence, Cut big, then small.  It is a great study.

I saved my favorite, well worn book on writing, for last.  Stephen King On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Whether your a Stephen King fan or not, he knows how to tell a compelling story on paper that translates to the big screen. I had heard about the book from a number of accomplished writers so decided I better buy it. It lives up to its reputation. He shares his writing journey and knowledge with forthright honesty. Yes, he has a bit of challenge thinking of words to replace swear words, but the book is a goldmine in what works. Even the picture on the front cover gives me hope. You see Stephen King, writing by hand, rocking back in a rolling chair, feet on his desk, dog under his legs, papers, reference books, notebooks and memorabilia scattered all around. A wall with various clippings and pictures etc. The picture alone tells so much. He has a dedicated writing space. He must spend a great amount of time there if his dog likes to lay there. You can tell he has is deep in thought, and working hard in-spite of his lounging position. For an author as famous as he is, his writing place is normal. For an author as successful as he is, he still puts in the long hours.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Coming Together in the Midst of Disaster

It's been a crazy couple of weeks over here in Spokane, Washington.  And I'm sure some of it has trickled down through much of Washington and Idaho.

We had a major wind storm on Tuesdays, which resulted in more than 180,000 homes being without power.  Even now, more than two days later, around 100,000 people are still without electricity.  My husband, an employee for the utility company, came home this evening after working a 36-hour shift.  He was nearly comatose with exhaustion.  He told me of 200-foot trees with trunks too large for him to hug falling over, splitting homes in half. He spoke of streets where nearly a dozen power-poles were decimated, splintering into millions of pieces, leaving power lines strewn across lawns, cars, and debris-filled yards.  The linemen scrambled to keep people away from live wires while installing new poles, clearing streets, and repairing millions upon millions of dollars in damage.
Credit: AvistaUtilities.com

While my husband was on task helping to fix the immediate needs of the community, I decided to roll up my sleeves and work on the individuals.  I was one of the lucky ones who witnessed her lights flickering only once, and lost a single shingle off her roof. My neighbor across the street lost nearly half his shingles, another 2 blocks down had a 100 year-old pine tree rupture half-way up the trunk and topple onto the street. Every single one of our schools lost power.  Entire sections of town were pitch-dark and eerily quiet.

I washed all the sheets on all our beds, ran to the store bright and early to stock our shelves for extra mouths to feed, filled the Suburban with gas to drive around town, then called my Relief Society President, the Bishop, and one of our Elders Quorum Presidency to see who needed help.

Next I got onto Facebook, messaged several friends, called nearby family, visited my neighbors, and texted anyone else I could think of.

I'd like to say that I was able to help dozens of families by offering them a warm place to stay, and a home-cooked meal.  I wish I could tell tales of wonderful deeds I'd done to touch the lives of those temporarily in need. But you know what? I do not have a single story to tell.  Instead, I can say I tried.  I was willing to help, but apparently 7:00 am the day after a storm is too long to wait.  Not a single person needed a warm place to stay.  They already had arrangements made, or were prepared in their own way.  No one needed a home cooked meal, or someplace to bring their kiddos to stave off boredom.

Our area was good. I was not the only person to chip in and offer assistance.  Our ward members all pitched in, called everyone on their home teaching and visiting teaching lists to make sure each family was cared for.

Although I do not have any heart-tugging humanitarian stories to announce, I am happy to report that there are also no heart-wrenching stories of people forgotten, or left to freeze and starve.

It warms my heart to see us come together in the midst of chaos, and to care for those who need it. All too often we read of the tragedies that befall us or of the evil of those around us.  But today I offer up happiness and relief.  Maybe last week's lesson on caring for the poor an needy was heeded after all.  Well done, Spokanites.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Is there a third alternative?

by Terri Wagner

Like everyone, I was appalled, horrified, and angry at what happened in Paris. For some reason I was especially bothered by the poor wheelchair victims. I have read several eye witness accounts of how they felt so powerless.

As information comes out, it seems at least one or two [of the terrorists] were pretend refugees, and one was, as they term it, a "home grown" terrorist.

I remember some years ago a documentary on France's growing Muslim population. One scene showed a major road where they gathered to pray, thus blocking all traffic, and there were places where the police did not bother to come. Apparently Sharia law was administered and French officials looked the other way.

Now it's our turn. Do we take in the refugees or do we protect our home? Will we be Paris in just a few years or even less time? Can the president force a governor to take in the refugees? How have other refugees worked out here? I also remember a documentary on a place in Tennessee where a group of Somalian refugees were placed. It has not worked out well. The Somalians are not fitting in or trying to, and the natives were getting restless. Could that happen again?

The First Presidency has asked us to assist the humanitarian crisis going on. And there is a crisis. So what do we do? Open our doors? I just keep wondering about what Stephen Covey always said, there is usually always a third alternative. So what would it be here? How can we both protect our home and yet reach out to help others? Would a history lesson help? What would history tell us about this area of the world other than Syrians have been around since Moses. It is really stretching my brain to come up with an equitable situation. Any ideas out there?