Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Glee of Sharing Horror Stories

by Cindy R. Williams

There are three events in life that are somewhat common for LDS women that cause those around us to tell stories. Stories of horror. The first is your wedding. The second is when you're pregnant, and the third is when you send a son out for two years on a mission for the Lord.

WEDDING HORROR STORIES:

When I was getting married, male and female, young and old, had a story to tell about how the groom got sick, or the bride threw up at the altar, or the bride/groom fainted, or they forgot their marriage lisence, or left their shoes at home . . . I am not even going to get into the horror stories of the honeymoon. Well maybe just a few. One husband was propostitioned by both a lady and a man upon the first day of a Honeymoon in Mazatlan. (I was there for that one, and watched my new husband squirm.) Another husband was so homesick he had to call his parents on the third night. (I witnessed that one first hand also---sorry Honey.) And yet another story, the wife was so frightened she locked herself in the bathroom and would not come out all night long. Even then, the mother of the new wife had to talk her out of the bathroom. (This one is not a first hand story. ;o)

PREGNANCY HORROR STORIES:

The pregnancy stories are even worse. Once you're pregnant, you know you must either push, prod, squeeze, carve or pop that baby out. Sorry about the "carve" thing, but my first of five was a C-section. Why can't we share stories of wonder and amazement as we first look into the bright, clear eyes of the new little angel. How about a story of how we bonded the instant the new baby was placed in our arms. No, that's not what we share. We like to scare while we share.

We tell about how we were prepped for a C-Section and the doctor left us on the table to change the flat tire on his wife's car.

We tell about how baby number two took three long--very long--did I mention l-o-n-g days of hard labor. The teller of this very chilling story then adds that the next baby was only two days of hard labor. The next baby was a day and half of very hard labor, and the last baby took only 24 hours of excrutiatingly painful labor. At least the story goes from three days of labor to 24 hours. That is somewhat postitive isn't it?

We share how a sweet husband rubbed his wife's back during labor, but fell asleep between the labor pains. The next pain started and the soon to be mother cried out in pain as she reached to wake her husband. He sat up so fast her arm and his nose met in the air and her arm won. His nose was broken.

We share that the baby's umbillical chord wrapped three times around his neck and we almost lost him.

We share how the doctor almost dropped the baby as it slid out.

We share how the epidural didn't take effect until five minutes before the delivery and oh, the pain---worse than being cut in half. And yes, these are some of my own personal stories, and I do enjoy telling them and seeing eyes go big in awe or fear. Why is that? 

MISSION HORROR STORIES: 

Now the stories for soon to be missionary mothers. Wow! This one took me by surprise. I had no idea this was going to be a free for all in the horror story department.  My first son has been called to Brazil and scheduled to fly October 13, 2009 directly to the Brazilion MTC instead of Provo. His visa didn't arrive in time. It didn't matter anyway because he broke his leg playing Men's Church Basketball just six days before he was scheduled to leave.  Even if the visa had arrived in time, his broken leg insured his start in Provo until he healed.  Now I have the beginnings of a story. But it's truley a minor story compared to the stories that have been shared with me recently by well meaning friends and relatives.

One missionary stepped off the plane with the Spirit burning so strong, he jumped onto the bus and saw "The One".  The man he was meant to baptize in his first few minutes in Korea. Within two mintues, he used every Korean word he knew, then jumped out of his seat, leaned out a window and threw up. Naturally, the Korean gentleman thought he was a crazy American, and got off the bus at the next stop.

Have you heard the monkey stories? Missionairies are either attacked by monkeys or they eat monkey brains raw at a special table with a hole in the middle where the monkey's head pokes up through it and they crack . . . never mind. I can't even finish that story.

Then there's the one about the bugs that bite while the missionary is asleep, and they're lucky to wake up with all ten toes. Or the story about being shot at on the first day walking down the street. Or the vicious dog that chased the missionaries.  One Elder held out his Book of Mormon and the dog stopped, turned and walked away. Okay, so that one is actually faith building, but it still riles a mother up.

How about the mothers that share the horror stories their son's waited to tell them until they returned home because they didn't want to worry their parents. Take the one about the missionary who woke up to see a head hunter leaning over him with glazed eyes and a knife. That would stop the old ticker.  Have you heard the story about the missionaries eating dinner at a members house, and the dog went missing? (Yes, it was on their plate.). Just what a mother wants to hear. Now these are doozies, and I ask you, why don't these women keep them to themselves instead of scaring the newbie missionary mother?

Please, anyone tell me why we feel we must share the most outrageous, horror filled, crazy, strange stories we know with others that are entering these new phases of life? Do we inherit some gene that makes this manditory to try to scare others to initiate them into some special club? Is it a way of celebrating that we have survived such horrors so we should get some kind of reward or at least recognition? I am not yet sure of the answer, but as you can see I too am guilty of this perplexing fact of human nature. We feel compelled to share the worst. After all, we are story tellers, and these horror stories are certainly whoppers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lacunae: The Right Word for the Audience

by Sarah Albrecht

“The researcher said he needed to check for lacunae in the data,” I told my thirteen-year-old son who will discuss just about anything with me. “I had no idea what ‘lacunae’ meant, so I had to look it up.”

I told him the results of my search: lacunae comes from Latin for gap or ditch and is also the root for lake and lagoon. Interesting. But, as I continued the conversation, “Why couldn’t the guy just say ‘gap’?” (?!!)

“I know what you mean,” my son said. “My science teacher does the same thing. He always says, ‘y sub two over y sub one over x sub two over x sub one’ for the slope formula. Why can’t he just say rise over run?”

I think the answer to our lamentations is in audience. The lacunae guy was writing for academia; he needed to sound academic. The science teacher was teaching a class with varying levels of understanding; he needed to be specific. Even though simplicity is usually the rule of thumb, sometimes audience dictates otherwise.

Unlike in my son’s science class, in writing the audience isn’t there—so in that sense the author is dealing in an abstraction. Finding the right word for the audience can be hard without the instant feedback of word or expression.

I like my Children’s Writer’s Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner & Tayopa Mogilner. It’s a thesaurus of sorts, but for each word, it lists the grade in which most children become familiar with the word. What a great resource to help children’s writers find the right word for the audience—and it’s fun to peruse “just because,” too.

Now I can hope my word choice has been appropriate for the ANWA audience (yes, I see the be verbs, but they’re going to have to stay for now)—I wouldn’t want any lacunae in consistency.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Disclaimer

by Marielle Carlisle

Two weeks ago I made dinner for a lady friend in my ward who had just gone through her final surgery for cancer. This last Sunday we were chatting about the meal, and she mentioned that sometimes when people had dropped dinners off for her, she would thank them for their kindness, and they would said something like "I'm not a very good cook, and my kids always gag when they eat my food, but here you go."

What is she supposed to do with that? Say thank you? Or throw it away?

I've noticed that I too offer a 'disclaimer' for things.

After I cut my daughter's hair, people would comment on her haircut, and I would say, "yeah, well, it's crooked in the back." Even I have to admit that you can't really tell that it's uneven.

Or one time I threw a multi-pool party in our backyard for all my daughter's little friends, and as people were arriving and getting settled, I apologized for the mud tracked onto the concrete. People hadn't even noticed until I pointed it out.

It's like I know I'm not perfect, and I'm letting people know before hand so they don't think I have a superiority complex or something.

Or maybe I do know I'm perfect, but I don't want people to feel bad, so I try and find a mistake or flaw in something that has been complimented.

Why do we do this to ourselves? What I should really do is say "thank you," and move on.

And if you're making dinner for people, for goodness sake just drop it off with love, not an apology.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Hate Being Sick

When I was little and got sick on a semi regular basis, my mother would bring me a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with crackers and a glass of ice tea (we obviously weren't Mormons at that time) and to this day when I'm sick I want soup, crackers and yes even the tea, ha.

I got sick on Sunday, moped around on Monday and drug myself to work today. I tried having some soup but it wasn't homemade and it wasn't good; somehow water just isn't the same; and dads aren't nearly as understanding as mom's. He just told me that if I wasn't in the hospital, I could have gone to work.

Most people who are sick like me (usually sinus) are sick for a day or two and then take a week to recover. So for a week I'll be a bit sluggish. I can feel that kicking in right now. I have a ton of emails at work to go through and can't find the energy to even scroll through them for any "biggies."

I miss being pampered. But even more than that I miss bouncing back. As a kid, I might have been quite sick but once I felt better, it was back to 100% better. Now it's back to about 85% and working up.

I would say I look forward to a quiet weekend, but atlas there's a singles conference in Pensacola and my lesson to teach, not to mention the move into the camper trailer should be coming up soon, maybe in the next two weeks although we still haven't heard officially from the bank.

Suddenly, I just want to pull the covers over my head and go back to bed. Anyone with me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Costco Book Signings

by Joyce DiPastena

Sorry this post is so late on "my day"! I just finished blogging about my first week of book signings at Costco over on my JDP NEWS blog. I was going to post it here, too, but decided it was too long, so if you're interested in reading about how my first week went, hop over to JDP NEWS and read away!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

by Kari Pike

A dear friend sent me a link to the cutest Thanksgiving Advent Calendar I have ever seen.

Actually, it is the only Thanksgiving advent calendar I have ever seen, but it is totally cute! I have several advent calendars for Christmas, but it never occurred to me to do a countdown to Thanksgiving. Once I thought about it, however, I wondered why. What better way to prepare for Thanksgiving than by recognizing the many things we are thankful for? Especially this year.

With all the challenges everyone is facing, I realize how important it is to focus on the many ways we are blessed in our lives. My Dad and his wife just spent the weekend with us. They are on their way home from serving a two-year family history mission. My Dad is the eternal optimist. If you gave him a pile of manure, he would dig all day, knowing that somewhere in that pile there is a pony. He reminded me the other day that, "Every day is a good day. Some days are just better than others!"

I looked out my living room window at the patchwork blanket of fall colors on Mount Timpanogas. The sun was just setting behind me and the last rays reflected off the snow capped peaks. (If I find the box with the camera cord, I'll add the picture I took.) I thought about the solidness of those granite hills. I remembered that we have a solid foundation in the gospel. A foundation even more firm than the granite of that mountain, if I choose. The stresses of the move seemed to melt away as I stood in front of that window. I decided that every morning before I get out of bed, I will stop a moment and be grateful. This morning I realized how blessed I am to have a family to get up for and serve. I have a new calling. My husband and I are Family History consultants...a completely new area in which I have not yet served. What a great learning opportunity!

I could spend hours relating to you all the things for which I am grateful...like the delete button that allows me to fix my dyslexic typing errors...and my lovely ANWA friends! Most of all I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who knows exactly what I need, when I need it...and loves me no matter what!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh Where, Oh Where did You Go???

by Kirsten Millsap

As mentioned in my previous post, I am in charge of our stake's Christmas concert event. I also mentioned that when I work on these concerts, my fingers seem to fly over my keyboard in a magical dance of inspired writing. This year...not so much. Instead of dancing over the keys like a prima ballerina, my hands seem to have two left feet...or...all thumbs.

What's the deal? Where did my guide go? I pray every morning for help and inspiration, and to my knowledge there are no unresolved issues, or...a-hem...sins to confess (whether commission or omission) So why am I suddenly alone? I feel like everything I pull out of me is a tug-o-war, and it's getting frustrating. I am no longer having fun. So I had a little "Chat" the other day while in the car (the best prayer place I know) and I think I have finally figured out what is going on...

I have not been left alone--no--the spirit is still there. What has changed, is Heavenly Father wants me to now walk on my own, and trust in the gifts He has given me. Wow. He trusts me!What a concept! I use the skills He blessed me with, and He gets to run around the universe fixing everything that needs fixing. I guess if He trusts me...I can trust me too.

Now, if only I knew for sure that He will stop me before I do something stupid...like say...misquote scripture. But with my luck, it may just be the biggest lesson I would ever be forced to learn...too bad it would be in front of 2000 people in my stake.

Ok. Now that I have sufficiently psyched myself out, I think I miss the days of hand-holding...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A New Scene

By Marsha Ward

Here's part of a scene from Chapter 2 of my work-in-progress. I'd appreciate your feedback, suggestions, etc.

He's gone and done it, Bill Henry thought as he saddled his horse the next morning. Defied his pa and gone off. He's got more gumption than I thought he did.

Bill swung into the saddle, gathered the reins, and clucked to his mount, a frisky dun mustang Rod Owen had bought in Texas. The animal frog-jumped and bucked for a few minutes, but Bill stuck tight and waited out the horse's temper tantrum. The dun would settle down soon and carry him through the morning without further complaint.

Yes, James Owen had sand, he had to give him that. Who else around here was willing to go toe-to-toe and have it out with Rod Owen? Nobody he knew, including himself right now. Not that Bill thought himself a coward. No, he didn't want to leave Colorado Territory and return to Texas just yet. It suited him fine to be in the employ of the older man.

If I head home now, I'll never see Miss Marie again.

There it was, finally, the hitherto unspoken reason for staying, even though the Owen boys were catching on to every cattle-handling trick he'd taught them faster than he'd supposed it would happen. I don't want to leave here without her.

Now the truth was in the open, so to speak. He'd never yet--until now--admitted to himself the fact that he'd grown very fond of the dark-tressed daughter of his boss--the sprightly miss who rode out each morning to exercise her horse, even earlier than he got out and about.

Yes, Marie was the major reason he'd stayed here in this green land beneath the mountain. Marie.

Bill smiled at the thought of the music in her name. He tugged on the handkerchief he'd knotted around his neck this morning. It was a bright red bandana, and he hoped she would see it--and him--when she returned from her ride. He imagined her picking him out of the other cowhands who would be riding up the mountain with him, off to tend the cattle in the pasture on the slope of the mountain. The kerchief would set him apart, catch her eye, draw it to him. After his encounter with her at the wedding meal, she would surely be thinking of him, kindly, he hoped.

He wondered if the girl had a middle name. Not that it mattered. Marrying him would add another name to her own, anyway. She'd be Marie Owen Henry. Ah, didn't that sound fine? Marie Henry. Wouldn't the boys back home be jealous at his luck, bringing back a wife who was as pretty as any girl he'd even seen. No. Prettier.

Her dark eyes reminded him of the deep black pool of water that he'd found on the mountain, shaded by trees and surrounded by protective boulders. He, the cowhands, and the Owen men had stopped there briefly on the way back from rescuing Marie and the Bates girl--Carl Owen's new bride. Marie had rested beside the pool, anxious to be home, but enjoying the beauty of the spot. He'd brought her a tin cup to dip into the water, and she'd looked up with such a depth of gratitude in her eyes as she thanked him for being one of her rescuers. He knew that was when she had captured his interest. Even bedraggled as she was, with her shoulders and sleeves covered with dirt and her hair tangled and bedecked with twigs and leaves, she was the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen.

Rapid hoof beats brought him out of his reverie. Who was riding a horse hard this early in the morning? Was James Owen coming back?

As his eyes sorted out the approaching shape, he saw a skirt billowing behind the horse and knew it was Marie. Irritation washed over him. She knew better than to treat horseflesh so harshly. Then anxiety for her welfare crowded out the negative feelings. Had the horse run away with her? Was someone chasing her? He didn't know the state of affairs with the Indian tribes in the area. Maybe she'd had a run in with a party of hostiles.

Bill rode toward the girl, gigging the dun into a gallop, his heart beating as fast as the hooves on the earth. Then he was choking, trying to swallow his fear as he saw her terrified face. Something was horribly wrong.

The usual disclaimers apply: first draft work subject to change, my copyright, comments very welcome.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Writing Soul to Soul

Writing Soul to Soul
by Cindy R. Williams


I loved the blogs posted this last couple of weeks. Some made me think, while others made me giggle. I appreciate these blogs that touch me. I believe the sign of a good writer is one that can write words that reach deep into the reader, or better yet, talk to the soul.

Talking to the soul, now that is a worthy goal for a writer. If we can reach the point in our writing where we can write so clear, and with such deep honesty, that we touch souls, just think of the power for good our writing would be.

"The pen is mightier than the sword," has been taught by every English and Journalism teacher/professor I have ever taken classes from. Although I have no desire to use a sword and slay anyone, I do have a great desire to perfect my writing. I want to write heart to heart, or soul to soul.

I don't believe we have to use big words, great flowery descriptions, fancy dialog etc. to write to the soul. Simple and clean seems to work the best. Some of Robert Frost's poems are written with simple words, but they strike deep into the soul. Another favorite poet, Shel Silverstein uses simple words so well that he tickles the funny bone of adults and children alike. Consider Dr. Suess, now that is writing soul to soul.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Give a Little Whistle

by Sarah Albrecht

I’m getting whistle wrinkles—fine lines around my mouth that exactly match my pucker. In a plastic-surgery culture, it has occurred to me that stopping whistling might forestall the wrinkles for a few years or possibly moderate their length or depth.

My mom says I started whistling as a toddler, trooping around in a cloth diaper with a tuneless wind blowing through my few front teeth. The tune evolved through the years, but it never stopped. Which would explain the wrinkles.

I have to confess I’ve let the tendency towards music slip in my life. I never learned a string instrument like I wanted to, never trained my voice like I should have, don’t make time between housecleaning and school and running to football and swim to play the piano. I don’t even have an i-pod to listen to the music I love. But whistling is always there, a pucker away—the opera my dad listened to on Sunday afternoons, his feet twitching on the recliner’s footrest; the Little Mermaid tunes my daughters have sung through early childhood; the violin my sons practice upstairs; the Primary songs and hymns ingrained in my soul.

Whistling is like wildflowers blooming in a fallow field.

I don’t think I’ll stop.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pen to paper

by Marielle Carlisle

Two weeks ago I was researching minivans online. We were in the market for a new car, preferable a bigger one, and I saw one that intrigued me. While I was scouring the internet, my three year old and one year old raced in from the outside, clamoring for my attention and a drink of water. My three year old took a big swig from my waterglass, and as she set it back on the table it toppled over, spilling water and ice all over the keyboard of my laptop.

Suddenly I wasn't as worried about finding a minivan.

I did everything you're supposed to do when water is spilled on a laptop, but the poor sucker was fried. The PC Posse told me I'd be better off buying a new computer. Luckily I had backed up the harddrive two days before, so all our files were safe.

Alas, life moves on. I would not be detered from my daily goal of working on my story, so I grabbed a pen and paper and set to it.

It's been a while since I've handwritten so much. Probably not since college. I even got a hand cramp one morning, I'm that out of shape. And it was so SLOW. I kept thinking how much faster I would've been writing if I had my computer (sniff).

But what surprised me was that a lot of good ideas came out. Maybe because I had to slow down, take my time, use each motion to craft the words forming in my mind. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

My husband now lets me use his laptop, as long as no liquids are within five feet of it, but I'll always remember to change things up in the future. Not to rely so much on typing, and go back to the days of ink and smudges.

And we bought a car last weekend. I am now officially a MAV driver.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Resources

by Terri Wagner

Isn't it amazing how just one zig can make a difference to you? My niece joined the ANWA group and has decided to major in English so she can teach. The unexpected bonus of this was the jolt it gave me to renew my efforts in my novel.

I had given up as I recorded here before for many reasons but mostly was the thought that heck I'm a techie writer and just let that be. I've been reading church books which while not techie are certainly not fiction so I just figured my lot in life was to be a great techie writer and just let it go.

Then my writing partner made chirpping noises about our novel. And my niece expressed an interest in joining ANWA and out of the blue a friend said to me how's the writing. You are so good at it I sure hope you are pursuing it.

What could I say? While I'm not a big believer in signs this certainly gave me pause for thought. I was still mulling all this over when I started my commute this morning. It's one of those dark, foggy days when you feel all alone in the universe and on the road. Just you and Heavenly Father. And I thought ok I'm at a crossroads here what do I do?

A song came on the radio that for some reason "made" me think of my blessing which distinctly says I have many talents and should pursue them. I think writing would fall in that category.

So I've taken a long time to say that I'm taking the advice of my ANWA sisters, including my niece Alex King, and taking up my pen and continue writing my novel. So "go forth and do the same."

Monday, October 12, 2009

And Let That Be a Lesson to Myself!

by Joyce DiPastena

So on Monday, I didn't want to write. I mean, I really didn't want to write! But I had just finished being interviewed by Cindy R Williams for The Writer's Mirror where she'd asked me (basically) how I got past writers block, and I replied that the only way to get past it was to "write anyway". With my own words ringing in my ears, I said to myself on Monday, "If you don't sit down and write tonight, you'll be a hypocrite, Joyce! Telling other writers to 'write anyway' and then you don't do it yourself?" So I set my little timer, plunked myself down on the couch for an hour with my laptop, and whined my way through a writing session. And yes, at the end of that hour, I hated every word I had written.

So tonight, with only slightly less reluctance, I set my timer and plunked myself down on the couch again. (I'd known in advance I wouldn't have any writing time on Tuesday.) This time, the words not only came easier, but you know what? That stuff I wrote on Monday wasn't nearly as bad as it looked on Monday night! I mean, I'm not saying it was spot-on perfect, by any means. But it wasn't horrible, and I'll probably end up keeping almost all of it in one form or another. Time wasted Monday night? Definitely not! It might have been painful (it certainly felt so at the time) and my perspective wasn't what I would have liked (some of those words I hated actually made me laugh when I read them back...and I mean laugh in a good way). But was it worth it to "write anyway" when I didn't want to? Looking back on it from where I sit tonight, I'd have to answer with a resounding "Yes!"

(cross-posted from my JDP NEWS blog, Oct 7, 2009)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ANWA of the North


By Christine Thackeray

I just spent a fabulous weekend surrounded by the ANWA sisters of the Northwest. Liz Adair set up an incredible retreat at Silver Lake in Whatcom County, Washington where about thirty of us spent our time writing, laughing and generally enjoying the comraderie of realizing we aren't the only crazy women in the world that love to play with words and storylines.

Marsha Ward began the festivities as the keynote speaker. She gave us a test to see how efficient we were with our time. Out of a possible 32, I got -4. I think I was the only negative.

We ended the first night stretching with Lara which turned out to be a fun and relaxing. The next day Julia Wagner spoke about "Ninja Writing"- using your environment in your narrative. We all began with the same sentence "Michael sat in the road and cried." After adding sight, sound, smell, taste and feel, each story had taken a life of its own. Anna Arnet had Micheal as a little toddler with a soggy diaper, while another writer (I'm embarrassed I don't remember who) had Micheal smelling and crying and suddenly tasting a tinge of copper because he bit his lip.

At the end of our Ninja experience, we put on Ninja masks and took a picture which I'm sure you will see soon enough.

Next we had a mock critique group which I led. The only bummer was every selection was so clean most of our comments were praise. Still, it was a great exercise. Unfortunately we were having such a good time we weren't able to cover everyone, and I still owe Kami and Terry complete critiques. I've also got to say that Connie Wolf's writing is vivid and, well, pretty! Wendy Jones had a children's book called "A Cat Called Mom" which totally got me. It was adorable!

That night ended with Kersten Campbell, author of "Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother" who spoke to us about humor. She used great examples, such as defining "trim tram" with was everything from "public transportation which takes one to the gym" to "a conveyence for hedge clippings."

We topped off the night screening Anna Arnett's son's latest documentary of "Baby Boomerang." I was hesitant to watch it because I'm not that hip on war and don't care for documentaries that much either, but it had me clutching my sides with laughter. Her son is so insightful and witty. It really twisted the concept to more of a comedy about a son trying to make fun of his father and ending up admiring him tremendously. I'm going to force all my boys to watch it the first time but I bet they'll watch it many times after that on their own. I LOVED IT!!!!

The last morning ended with Liz presenting an overview of creating a media presence. She did an incredible job. After a group picture, sans masks, we reluctantly bid all our dear friends good-bye until next year and began the six hour drive home.

I need to thank Terry for her great grammar classes and Ann Acton for the tremendous job she did of picking the door prizes (a very important job.) My roommate Wendy Kraus, who organized the kitchen food, is one of the hardest working women I know. AND Monique joined us Friday with a three week old baby who is the spitting image of her mother... or is that splitting image? Anyway, it was glorious and I'm jazzed to get back at it and finish my WIP so that next year I can go back with bragging rights.

THANK YOU ANWA for being here!!!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Grandma

By Kristine JohnDear Grandma,
You'd be surprised how many times a day I think of you.
You influence me today, much more than I ever thought you would.
Growing up near you as a child was full of warm and loving memories and you were a much needed stabilizer in my life.
Do you remember:
*Sleeping outside on warm summer nights, on the outside bedsprings, watching the stars until we fell asleep?
*Teaching me to cook, first cookies, then cakes, and later, your delicious bread? I lost the recipe and kick myself every time I make bread that I didn't plan better and hang on to your recipe.
*Cooking so many meals for our family? I know you were a godsend to my mother...who struggled to have the sanity and the energy to do much after working all day to provide for her kids. Every meal was delicious...(you always said you had put "love" into it...and I believe it still!) *Telling us stories at "naptime"? I was far too old for naps, but I would come and lay down just to hear your stories. I think I even fell asleep sometimes too.
*Picking up our mail every day? It was so fun to come check the piano top for our mail...it saved Mom an errand, and you and Grandpa were always so excited when I got letters from my penpals.
*Hanging clothes on the clothesline?
*Your swing?
*Your home? It became my second home too. It always was full of love and laughter. You welcomed everyone...and sent them away a little better.
It was hard to watch you as your memory faded...but you didn't forget Mom until shortly before you passed away.
I knew that you would know that we loved you and cared for you, even if you couldn't remember my name.
I wish my children could have had the chance to know you as I did.
It is one of the things I am anxious to see in the eternities...my children, with you...learning so many of the Christlike skills you possess.
I named my daughter after you, Grandma.
Her middle name is Olivia.
I hope she chooses the paths you did, leading her to righteousness.
I want to know that I know you are watching me and my family.
I think of you often.
As I do dishes, fold laundry, and the other chores that seem mudane.
When I remember you...your smile still warms my heart, and I resolve again to be with you someday.
Thank you, for all you have been and all you are to me.
Your granddaughter,
Kristine


Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Lesson in Response-ability

by Kari Diane Pike

During our move from Arizona to Utah, I decided that one of the advantages of moving to an area with a high concentration of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be the ability to "hide out" for awhile and rest from the many responsibilities that filled my life before. Perhaps if we had moved to more transient area, where members are almost overwhelmed by newbies, that would have been possible. However, we moved into a ward that hadn't seen more than two or three new families in a couple of years. Ward members flocked to our home, laden with smiles, hugs, and yummy treats. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel comfortable...and useful. In a matter of a couple of weeks, I found myself fully participating in Relief Society activities, ward choir, stake choir, a new calling in Family History, and agreeing to substitute teach a Sunday lesson. When a member of the Bishopric called and asked me to speak in Sacrament meeting the same day I had agreed to teach, I accepted the responsibility, and then went to my room and cried. Then I prayed.

Responsibility is an interesting word. Bishop H. David Burton recently spoke in Conference about -ity words and how many of the personal traits we call "virtues" end in -ity. The suffix -ity refers to a quality, state, or degree of being. I am fascinated by the way the meaning of a word changes when you look at it from a different angle...responsibility as an adjective, rather than a noun. I looked at the word "responsibility" and pondered on my recent degree of response. Yes, on the surface, I responded politely and quickly to the call to serve and speak, but what about on the inside? What quality of "response" did I really make? I agreed to speak, but did I agree happily, or did I agree grudgingly?

I looked up responsibility in the Bible dictionary and found myself directed to "accountability" and "stewardship." Luke 12: 35 -48 stood out in the references. Here is an account of the Savior teaching a parable of a faithful and wise steward. Verse 35 begins by telling us, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;" Then verse 36 tells us "and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, [this part sounds like active members of the Church] when he will return form the wedding; [Remember the ten virgins?] that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." I turned to Matthew 25 and reviewed the parable of the ten virgins. Men and women, with lights and lamps, waiting for the Savior's return. They all know what is expected of them. They know what their responsibilities are, but some of the virgins neglect their responsibility and some of the men "beat the menservants and maidens" and become drunken. What if we compare their lights and lamps to our temple recommends? The responsibilities we carry out to qualify us for a temple recommend are the oil that fill those lamps, and keep our lights burning. We know what is expected of us. Our "response-ability" takes on new meaning here. Are we responsive to the things asked of us or are we becoming complacent and "hiding out?"

Verse 39 gives us a warning: "And if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through." By watching over and caring for our responsibilities, we can defend not only ourselves, but our homes and everyone and everything in it. The Lord promises the good and faithful steward that he will be made "ruler over all that he hath." There is another -ity word that comes into play here: dependability. If we are dependable, we will respond (give response) to the needs of others. The Lord depends on us to fulfill our responsibility to love and serve others, to keep the commandments and endure to the end --when He comes again and holds us accountable for our stewardships.

I no longer desire to "hide out." I'm excited about the learning process I am going through as I study to teach that Sunday lesson and I look forward to the opportunity to express my gratitude and my testimony about the new insights that are given to me as I prepare that Sacrament meeting talk. I will continue to explore more -ity word, too. Come visit me once in awhile at www.mamapikesez.blogspot.com and see how I am progressing...just so I can be held to a degree of accountability!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Lessons from the bottom of the pool"

by Kirsten Millsap

I'm taking a scuba diving course. I thought it would help draw my husband and I closer together and give us a something in common, something outside of our daughter. I believe it will, too...provided I live through the training.

For three weeks I have gone each Monday night to the dive instructor's home for classes. I sat on a dog hair covered couch, and smelled doggy-doo; it smelled fresh...and close. Maybe under the couch. I was not in a good place for remembering everything I was to know before going in the water (remember I am slightly germ-a-phobic) and I think my brain froze. This past Monday was our first time actually getting in the water; a class I was both looking forward to and dreading. Standing in the rapidly cooling night air, I stared in horror at the green pool and saw bits of plant life floating by. And bugs. Lots of dead bugs. My dive instructor loaned me one of his many wetsuits...a skin tight affair that would cover me head-to-toe in a previously-peed-in-nightmare. I eased myself into the freezing, green, murky water and tried not to scream. I put on my vest with the air tanks, the weights and all the various tubes and gauges...I looked like a space octopus. Breathing under water is not something I guessed would come easily. Turns out I was correct. Not only did I feel a bit of panic each time my head went beneath the surface, but my goggles kept filling up with water as well as my nose. I surfaced in terror and tried securing the goggles tighter to my face, while trying desparately to find the floor with my feet. Oddly enough I found a clump of dog hair stuck to the outside of my goggles. Well, why not. Needless to say...I was not having a good time.

We did several underwater drills, one of which was shared "Buddy-breathing" (which is seriously the wrong thing to call it--the strange smelling man that I was forced to share my breathing regulator with was not my buddy) and we had to go under the water and sign that we were out of oxygen and needed air. Your "Buddy" is then to take his regulator from his mouth and give it to you. Now, it was bad enough taking the mouthpiece from him and placing it in MY mouth (curiously enough, I lost a bit of my germaphobishness underwater...I guess my brain's constant shrieking for air was louder than my insanity's scream for Lysol) but when it came time for him to signal for my air...well...let's just say Kirsten had a bit of an issue giving up her precious oxygen. He kept signaling, and I kept shaking my head, "NO!! Never!!" He finally tapped the instructor on the back of his head and tattled on me in under-water sign language. I got in trouble.

The biggest surprise was that I could not control myself underwater. I looked like a giant crab scrabbling and bobbing around. Every time we were instructed to descend the bottom of the pool (twelve feet--which may as well have been fifty feet) and place our fins securely on the pool's bottom, I would flail around with my butt floating up and my head pointing down. No matter what I did, I always up-ended. I felt like an idiot, and I was pretty sure I was becoming insane.

After three looooong and freezing hours in the pool, the class was over. I lugged my exhausted body out of the water and peeled off my scuba suit...and the top of my swimming suit. Oops. Thankfully, the guys were huddled around each other basking in the glory of their supreme manly dives, and they did not notice the half-naked, shivering girl with green tinged hair in the corner.

I learned some things that night: Never wear a bikini top that ties in the back under your scuba suit. Breathing is something God wants us to do on dry land. It's nice to help someone who is in need of oxygen. Green water doesn't kill you, and neither will the dead bug tangled in your hair. And most importantly...I really, REALLY am grateful to be a human and not a fish.

My bonus at the end of the night? A private chat with the dive instructor who told me I needed extra pool time...yea! So tonight I get to go and have more time in the green pool, wearing a peed-in wetsuit and trying not to die. Perhaps my saving grace will come in the form of, "How will I describe this in my memoirs?" As I bob around, trying desperately to understand the commands of my dive instructor, I will be taking mental notes...and will think of the amusing anecdotes I will write after I have become officially certified. If nothing else...they will be good for a laugh.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

While You Were Watching TV I Wrote a Book

by Valerie Ipson


I am lost when it comes to Lost. I'm fuzzy about Grey's Anatomy. House is just a structure I live in. I have an office, but I've never seen The Office. I don't idolize American Idol. I've had my fill of Dr. Phil. So You Think You Can Dance? No, I don't. And Oprah? Hmmm...can't come up with something snappy for that one, so I'll stop now!

In life there are choices and many of these choices are not compatible. For example, lots of TV-viewing is not compatible with writing a finished novel. Neither is reading stacks upon stacks of other people's books, for that matter, so I'm not picking on TV-watchers. (I just thought it was a clever title. And you know me, I'm all about the cleverness. :])

Anyway, I guess I'm just lamenting again my own lack of finishing. I was asked to do a book review on my blog for a book other than the ones I'm doing for Walnut Springs Publishing. I was thrilled to be asked. I explained to my husband how I review for them, then they remember me and review for me someday, but he was unfazed. "They review what?" he asks. "Well...my book," I meekly reply because I know what he is getting at. "Ah, the book you're not writing because you are reading and reviewing for them."

Point taken.

Whatever is keeping you (and me) from accomplishing our goals and dreams--in whatever area of life, we should let those things go. No, I am not advocating cutting out personal hygiene and the proper care and feeding of your children, and I'm still going to blog book reviews, but I'm not going to find out How I Met Your Mother or spend time with Two and a Half Men. I'm really not bothered that the new Fall schedule passes me by yet another year because I already have Heroes. I'm dedicating my book to one of them...when it's finished.

[Disclaimer: I am glued to the tube when a season of Amazing Race is on. I'm not totally TV-challenged.]

Monday, October 5, 2009

I am not myself lately

I am an incubator and I'm running out of room.

I can’t tie my tennis shoes and my sandals don’t fit anymore. Why is it that the maternity pants that I loved two weeks ago are so ugly this week? I can’t reach down and pick up anything left on the floor because I fear I won’t get back up again if I tried. I can’t sleep on my back, but I can’t sleep on my side and I definitely can’t sleep on my stomach (although, I slept well on the recliner today during the afternoon session of conference.) I had the 3 hour glucose test this week and I looked like a drug user after four consecutive blood draws. I’m constantly being kicked or poked, and I don’t stray far from the restroom either.

I am a freakshow for female emotions.


While catching up on some blogs today, I found a new one created for the missionary son of my friend who left last week. You have never seen me cry so hard as I did this afternoon. I already miss my son and he doesn’t leave for 18 months. OK, maybe you did yesterday when someone said I looked “manish” because of my short hair. (Did they really say that?) I’m sure I took that comment the wrong way, I had to, right? Then again, I cry when I find out how much weight people are losing on that Biggest Loser show, Hallmark commercials, made for t.v. movies, and kisses from my 15 month baby.

I am a voice recorder with no OFF button.

Please pick up your toys. You are grounded to your room until it is clean. Did your teacher really assign you Chopsticks this week for your piano lesson? You’re hungry again? I fed you like an hour ago. Money? Do I look like a bank? Didn’t I tell you to go to bed already? What were you thinking? And my favorite…I don’t understand what you don’t understand about the word NO!

In 12 short weeks, I will be back to myself and I'll probably re-write this post. But for now, I’m wondering…Who are you?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Peaceful Sabbath Day

by Marsha Ward

From the first moment that the Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City began to sing "I Need Thee Every Hour" this morning, to the final talk on service from President Monson, I was given peace and comfort on a glorious, crisp fall day. I love General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

The message of the choir's hymn brought a lump to my throat. Indeed, I need my Savior every hour of every day. "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," quoted President Eyring, and again my throat tightened in that inimitable way by which I feel the Spirit's testimony to me that a thing is good and true.

Because I have spent most of my time this last week doing service for others, I felt the sweet peace that living the Gospel to the best of my ability brings. As I work on finalizing my presentation to a group of writers later this week, President Monson's words about time management and making choices spoke to me.

One last conference session remains. I hope you can enjoy watching it and receive the peace I have felt.

Addendum:
Peace wasn't the feeling I got from the Afternoon Session. It was ENERGY! and RESOLVE! and a call to REPENTANCE!

My reaction to Elder Holland's talk: WOW!!!

And from Elder Cook, a tidbit I love:

"What happens in Sevier County...you can share with your friends."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hats






by Cindy R. Williams



I am up late tonight with too much on my mind to sleep. As humans on this planet, we all wear many hats. Tonight I had to wear the hat of a leader in a writers group. It was a strange evening. I chose to bring a real hat, my very beautiful pheasant feathered, plum witches hat with black netting to cover my face. I was at the meeting to divide the group into two and hoped the hat might bring a little levity to the situation or at least block the tomatoes and boos that may come my way. It went very well with the general population and very poorly with a few. It might have been wise if I'd also taken my witches broom to fly out of there fast.


The division is done, and the witches hat is back on my bookcase where I can enjoy it. Strange, some might think, but then doesn't everyone collect beautiful things? You know, things like; decorative witches hats, dragons, fairies, fairy wings, fairy doors, castles, swords, knights in shining armor, banners, and leprachan catchers? How about tapestries and harps? If you are a collector of shiny, shimmery things, I can garentee these are a whole lot cheaper than collecting sparkly jewelry which I do love as well.


The older I get, the more excentric I become. And, dear family, you will not use this admission as any type of declaration regarding my sanity for the use of commiting me. 
I realize it's time to take off my "Insane Writer's Hat", and put on my "Mom is done for the day hat," and float up to bed. Nice image, floating up to bed. It really will be more like carrying a glass of water in one hand, with a cloths basket on my hip, as I trudge up the stairs to tidy the wing of the house with the bedrooms, then read my scriptures, say my prayers and climb into my feather bed.


Wing of the house, and feather bed. Two more lofty images that make me feel blessed in my own home no matter how small the wing is or how many feathers escape the bed and need to be vacuumed up.


Tomorrow will be a wonderful day. I will finish some edits on my Thundertail dragon MS and print out the entire thing. My husband has edited the first half already and so has my very own nine year son who just happens to be the most incredible editor. He's found many typos and homonyms. Things in the story either work, and delight him, or they confuse him and don't work. I owe them both tons of hugs and kisses and many home made old fashioned oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from my families secret recipe handed down from my great grandmother. Everyone's favorites. Move over Debbie Fields.


Okay, I'm ending now for reals as my kids would say. The dryer just called, so it is time to trudge, I mean float upstairs.


May each of you find the right hat to wear at the right time in your life and may you find the right time to write the right words. I think I wrote that right, maybe not tight, but at least right.


Friday, October 2, 2009

On Yellow

by Sarah Albrecht

My perceptions of yellow have evolved over time. I remember sitting on my mom’s bed, tracing triangles in the quilt my grandmother had made, noticing the butter-colored triangles filling in between the printed blocks. I remember my shock as my mom told me my grandmother’s favorite color was yellow. Yellow?

I remember spending an inordinate amount of time in high school sifting through Frank Herbert’s Dune, looking for references to yellow because they were supposed to function as harbingers of doom. At that time yellow meant sickness, like jaundice and yellow fever.

I remember later road trips, with golden aspen leaves fluttering in clear mountain air, and fields of sunflowers turned to the sky in the San Joaquin Valley, and steep meadows spangled with goldenrod. I remember closing my eyes on warm winter afternoons in Arizona and feeling the gentle heat seep into my face—the touch of yellow. The pungent, vibrant scent of yellow leaps from a lemon in the refrigerator; the taste of yellow melts into the mouth in a bite of pie; the sound of yellow rustles in the trees in October.

Ah, yellow.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Never confuse motion with action" - Benjamin Franklin

by Stephanie Abney

Sorry I’m so late in posting this. I thought about it this morning, but this is the second week I’ve been home sick and I’m a little spacey!!!!

My students are studying Benjamin Franklin (without me, darn - he’s a favorite of mine). One of his many wise quotes is "Never confuse motion with action." I find I am frequently guilty of this. I tend to spend too much time “getting ready” to write than I do actually writing. I love to do research and one thing leads to another, especially with the Internet, and before you know it, hours have gone by and I have tons of fascinating facts, many of which have nothing to do with what I thought I would write about because as you go from link to link… you soon have gone in another direction. Was that sentence LONG enough for you? Wow. Sixty-one words… just one more way for me to get distracted!! LOL!!

Some people like to “set up their area.” Picture the new employee who puts all kinds of cute and useful things on her desk, and sharpens a huge package of pencils, etc. but never actually goes to work. Some people find other urgent things to take care of. I have been know to say things like “life got in the way today.” So, now, my illness is getting in the way of my accomplishing much of anything. How convenient. (Or inconvenient, I guess, depending on what you are looking at). I guess this post is mainly a reminder for myself, to stop letting things that matter least get in the way of doing things that matter most.

Just some random thoughts of mine for the day for you to consider. Take care ... I’m back to the couch, nursing my Streptococcus pneumoniae, yep, that’s what the lab tests say that I’ve been battling for the last couple of weeks. It’s a precursor to pneumonia, not strep throat; in fact, my throat does not hurt and isn’t even red, making it harder for the doctor to give me a diagnosis until the test results were in. Now I am finally on some antibiotics but it is slow to respond. I missed 4 out of 5 days last week and the same for this week. (No more sick days - 2 days without pay so far).

I guess the reason I bring all of this up, other than to gain your sympathy (is it working?) is that the doctor stressed that I probably got this because my immune system is low. Duh, what a surprise. I stay up late, figuring out the best possible worksheet to use, the best way to present my lesson, gathering background material, grading papers, writing up lesson plans, staying in constant contact with the parents via email, I get up early and race to school hoping to bet others to the copy machine and on and on. Not to mention that I still have a family, the church, my interests (which I seldom do any of, other than check out who said what on FaceBook). See? I am too busy to be productive. Somewhere in the back of my mind I have confused motion with action. It is action that gets things done. I’m looking for a way to be more productive in less time. Always hard for me, because I’m seldom brief (as you can see because I said I was headed back to the couch 283 words ago).

So, it’s a dilemma that I struggle with. How about the rest of you? Just wondering.