Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

By Claire Enos

There's something about the new year. It makes you think you really can do anything. But it's not just the new year when I have this feeling of being able to accomplish anything! It's any time I'm about to embark on something new. The beginning of a new semester, the beginning of the day, week, month, etc. I have this feeling that part of it is the idea of new beginnings. The idea that something new and different is going to happen makes us think we can do anything.

Of course, the second this new day, week, month, semester, or year starts I no longer have this feeling. I no longer feel like I can do anything. I suddenly feel like I'm being swept away by life, rather than forging my life on my own. My question the last few years has been how I can change this phenomenon. How can I keep this feeling as the days, weeks, and months go on?

I still haven't figured this out, but I'd love your thoughts on this. However, that's not all I wanted to talk about. This time of year is the time when most people make new year's resolutions. I have a whole list started, but I'm doing something slightly different this year. All my resolutions are carefully planned out, down to the last detail. I know exactly what I need to do in order to accomplish them. Of course, stuff is always going to happen that could mess those plans up, which is why the second part of my plan is to not worry if things don't work out the way I planned. In fact, if I realize a resolution isn't going to work out, I will just let it go. No point in holding onto a resolution that's just going to stress me out.

So, without further ado, I've decided that for this next year I will focus solely on things that will make me a better person. I want to create a healthier lifestyle that includes exercise, and a healthy diet. I want to work on my spirituality, which will include getting into the habit of reading my scriptures daily, praying at least twice a day, and preparing for a mission. I also want to focus on me, on not being so stressed out, learning to let myself have fun while not going overboard, especially working on my self-esteem because I've realized I could use the work. Grades are an obvious resolution, but I really want to get all A's and B's (this last semester I got all A's and B's except one C.) My last resolution involves service. I will be spending more time serving others than I usually do.

So, what are some of your New Year's Resolutions? I'd love to hear some of them! Also, I'd love to hear how you keep that feeling of being able to accomplish anything that comes from a new beginning, if you've figured out the secret I'd love to hear it! 

Have a good year! I am certainly planning on it!

<3Claire

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last Sunday of 2012

By Jennifer Debenham

Does anyone else feel like life is FLYING by? And besides that, I was getting REALLY good at typing 2012. I don't even have to look at the keyboard. My finger memory has that one down.


Our family in Washington at the beginning of 2012
It's pretty hard not to become a bit contemplative when the year draws to a close. The death of the old year and the birth of the new carries with it memories of the past and thoughts of new beginnings.

What do I want to accomplish this year? Whom do I want to be? And how do I become that person?

Where will the new year take me? Or, perhaps better, where will I decide to go this year?

2012 moved me and my family across three states, leaving cherished friends behind, but allowing me to strengthen bonds with family members that we now live closer to. It was painful to see my two teens and a tween struggle with the harsh adjustments of moving (which was the hardest part of the move for me). Yet we have grown closer as a family, and that's a blessing that could only come from that particular trial. So no go-backs!

I wonder if I'll feel the same about the changes 2013 will bring (that's soooo not as easy to type!).

In 2013, I'll mark three major milestones in my life. In April, I'll celebrate 20 years of marriage with my soulmate. Hard to imagine when I still feel like a newlywed at times. In June, I'll say "good-bye" to my first child as he graduates high school and prepares to serve a mission. (Can't hardly think of it.) In November, I'll turn 40. (Don't want to think of it!)

Our family in Nevada at the end of 2012
All these milestones make me think of what I want to accomplish too. When I was that girl of nineteen, planning my future with my soon-to-be hubby, did I imagine my 20-year-older self to be the way I am now? Not hardly. I don't think my imagination was that good. And my vision certainly wasn't. While some things have fallen short of my plans, my Father in Heaven has had plans for me I didn't anticipate. And just like the move to Nevada brought unexpected blessings, so has my unexpected life. In those areas that I am better than I imagined, I thank my Heavenly Father for his numerous lessons. In those areas where I still fall short, I recognize my need to improve and make some of those nineteen-year-old girl dreams a reality!

In keeping with that thought, last Sunday, the second-to-last Sunday of 2012, we revisited President Uchtdorf's talk "Of Regrets and Resolutions" in our Relief Society lesson. I'm linking it here as a little Last-Sunday-of-2012 treat.

Happy Reading. Happy Writing. And . . . I'll talk to you NEXT year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Year in Review

By Bonnie Harris

This post almost didn't happen. I attempted to do this a few days ago and found that my blog "didn't exist." News to me. After doing some research, I found that my blog had been hijacked. It took a lot longer than I would have liked to recover everything, and it got me thinking about time. It's such a precious commodity, and I know I'm not the only one who wishes for more. So, why would someone spend time hijacking other people's blogs or hacking into accounts or any of that other stuff? I'm not sure I see the benifit in any of that. Then again, I'm not the one spending the time on it.

Time led to thinking about the past year. Have I/Did I use my time in the wisest way possible?
Answer: I definitely didn't spend my time taking over other people's accounts, but I think I did all right. Overall, I think I did well. I think everyone does well, but we can always do better.


  • How did you do with your time this year?
  • Did you accomplish what you wanted to?
  • Did those priorities change?
  • Do you feel good about what was done this year?


These are all questions I'm sure most people think about around this time (or variations of the same questions). So, to give you a jump start—in other words, confession time.

I got close to accomplishing my goals this year. Did they change? Yes. Was I able to keep up with the changes? No. Do I wish I got more done? Yes, but I learned a lot.


  • I learned that it's OK to change directions.
  • I learned it's OK to decide that a particular goal just isn't going to happen and to let it go.
  • I learned how to prioritize better. Sort of. :)
  • I learned that life is short, and sometimes you have to put the keyboard away and say, "Oh well. It's not what's important today."
  • I learned that just because I started doing it well at the beginning of the year doesn't mean that I will be able to finish it as strong as I'd like
Who knows if any of this makes sense to anyone. Hopefully, you get the idea. But as I look forward to the next year and it's challenges, I'm able to do so with new understanding and strategies and purpose. I wish I could say I knew what was going to happen and that I would accomplish everything, but I can't. That's something I've had a very difficult time admitting. Now that I have, though, it sure makes things easier to take in bite size pieces.

So as you take a look at the year, remember that it's OK if things didn't get finished. Look at what was accomplished. Remember you are strong and can overcome anything placed in your way. Remember that you are not alone.

Happy New Year! Happy Year-in-review! Happy Writing!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Miracles

by Kari Diane Pike

Happy Christmas week to all of you...

It's getting late. After an 11 hour drive and a hot dinner, I parked my body at Maui Chill in Highland/Lehi, Utah to write this post. The owners were very kind and loaned me the security key since they don't technically have their WiFi set up yet. I am grateful for their kindness and generosity. I am grateful for wet, but not icy roads and tempered weather so that we arrived to our destination safely. And I am grateful for Christmas miracles of all kinds.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my mother is ill with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.. Last week, the surgeon removed her spleen, where the cancer seemed to be concentrated. It has been a tough road for her. Being diagnosed for the third time with this disease really took the fight out of my mom. After the surgery, she seemed to sink even deeper into a void of depression. And then an angel named Larry appeared.

Larry volunteers at the hospital every Wednesday. He is an old friend from when we lived in Arizona before. He chatted with my mom for a bit, and sensing her struggles, he shared a story. About 13 years ago, Larry died. He had a massive heart attack and passed to the other side...for a short period of time. He remembers two things from that experience. Larry was shown how he chose the many challenges he was facing at that time because of what he would learn from them and he was told to never forget that love is the key. He shared his testimony of eternal life and of the Savior and the plan of salvation. We laughed and we cried as we chatted.Every day since Larry's visit, I've watched my mom's countenance brighten. That very night she decided she needed to get out of bed and sit in a chair to eat dinner.

I am grateful for answered prayers and for angels, both those from heaven and those on earth. There are miracles all around us every day. Thank you for being a part of the miracles in my life...

Have a happy and blessed New Year!
hugs~

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Lights

by Jill Burgoyne

My post is late and short. But it's all due to the wonderful adventures of birthdays, Disneyland, moving, Christmas and Doctor's Appointments.

As I reflect on the Christmas season, I think about what traditions are my favorite part, and it's not hard for me to pick it out. I like looking at Christmas Lights. We went driving for Christmas lights at least 7 times this month. And most of them successfully put the babies in the back to sleep.

The first time was the first Monday in December. We went for family night and we talked the entire time about the Savior and how lights symbolize our Savior. I think our 3 year old got more than we thought she did.

My tree got put up three days before Christmas this year... it's because we moved and then had to find the boxes and then find the living room floor, but when the lights finally got put, up, my small children sat and watched that tree for long periods of time.

On Christmas morning, I had gone to bed about three hours before my husband did ( I blame the baby in my tummy) but I will have you know that I woke up about 2 and a half hours before he did. I was so very excited! I calmed myself down enough to read for a minute. Then I tried to go back to sleep, took a shower, read some more and finally began to doze off... just as my littlest baby cooed. I jumped out of the bed and my husband and a sleepy smile on his face. He then asked me to wait. WAIT! I sat with the girls and waited. He spent about five minutes setting up the lights and starting a fire in the fire place. When we walked out into the living room to see what Santa had brought us, it had only been light outside for about 15 minutes. And with the sun coming in and the Christmas tree lit up, adding to the glow of the fire, I just took away from that moment, the light.

Monday, December 24, 2012

By Tracy Astle

It's Christmas Eve! If you're here reading this today, I hope this is what's filling your mind and heart. (If you read this later, that's all good, too. This can warm our hearts anytime.)



No matter how near we are to or far we are from our loved ones this Christmas season, we are never too far for the love of Christ to reach us and encircle us with love.


MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALL!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In God's Hands You Go - Original Song



By Cindy R. Williams

This is incredible. The young lady in this video is one of my guitar students. In her lesson last week I asked her to write a Christmas song, and then the horrible tragedy happened at the Elementary School Friday, December 14, 2012. Lacee wrote this. She is just that amazing.

Her mother told me Lacee's heart was aching for the children and their families. Her little brother is in kindergarten so it hit home. This song can bring great comfort. I hope it reaches those left behind with broken hearts.

This is really worth three minutes to have your heart strings played.

May we all be a little more kind and hold our loved ones close this Season.

Merry Christmas to all and peace to your hearts.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Smokin Twinkies




My dad says he doesn't remember this story, but I do. We were moving from my birth town of Winslow, to an even smaller (if possible) town called Joseph City. It was pretty much a straight shot down the road. We just followed the railroad tracks. It was always fun to see the railroad tracks back then because both of my grandfathers were caboose engineers. We would watch the trains snake by, just so we could see the end and  wave our arms,   hoping by some miracle Grandpa or Grandad was there and could actually see us waving. It made us, or at least me, feel like I was part of some thing special. Then they got rid of the cabooses on trains. Seriously, they have to get rid of everything special in the world. First cabooses and now Hostess. Is nothing sacred?
Back to my story. We had loaded up a UHaul with all of our treasures in the back and bodies in the front. (family, not dead ones.....sicko!) It was a sunny day, as usual in Arizona. The drive wasn't very long, only about 45 minutes if I remember correctly. We were buzzing along when we passed a lone hitch hiker walking along the side of the road with a cigarette in his mouth and his thumb stuck out to traffic. My dad suddenly waxed poetic when he said, "you smoke, I choke, you walk, I ride." Maybe it was because something like that was so out of character for my dad that it has stayed in my head for...well...LOTS of years, or maybe it was the simplicity in making a decision. I don't think my dad would ever had picked up a hitch hiker when he had a car/truck full of kids, but because of the man's carcinogen filled exhales, the choice was very easy for him. Maybe it was my dad's statement that made me never want to smoke myself. I wanted to always be welcome in my dad's truck. I like my dad a lot.
I wish my kids still had their dad around. Brad wasn't perfect, but he was their dad. Nobody can ever really fill the place of your dad. There is a couple of boys at my school who lost their dad last summer. It was from a long illness and they were expecting it, but I can't help tear up almost every day when I see them. I see my own kids when I look at them. I see the hurt in their eyes that they try so hard to keep at bay. I wonder if the people at the schools where my kids are see that in my kids eyes?  
Tomorrow is the last day of school before winter break. I found myself tearing up as I looked at the many many kids running around on the playground. I am going to miss them. It's funny, when I'm home I think of school, and when I'm at school I think of home. So many wonderful kids in my life. I am so blessed. I wish I was better for all of them. I wish I taught them wonderful things that made a difference in their lives. I want all these children to be better than me, and the best they can be. I want happiness, kindness, understanding, strength and success for all of them. I think about the horrors of last week in the news and I can't imagine it. I really can't. One of my teachers told me she thinks the man was possessed by a demon. Maybe he was. I can't imagine a human being doing something so awful. 
I do the best I can. I teach my kids the importance of service, compassion, education, morals, and personal hygiene. I listen to them and talk to them and try to spend time with them. I treat the kids at school the way I pray my kids are treated at their schools. I hope that by some universal balancing act my efforts at my school actually make a difference in my kids lives. It's a mom thing...
If nothing else, I did teach the kids at school how to keep their hands warm on a cold day. They came to me flapping their long sleeves.....crying that they were freezing. I did what any kind hearted, loving, concerned person would do. I carefully tied their sleeves together in a big knot so they would be warm....and stop flapping me with them. They thought it was a great game and I soon had a line of kids waiting to be tied up in their jackets. Ah, simple pleasures....life is just a wonder when kids are in it....cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=smoking+twinkies&start=180&hl=en&client=safari&sa=X&tbo=d&rls=en&biw=1366&bih=595&tbm=isch&tbnid=dWI9EXnJbWFd2M:&imgrefurl=http://www.freeenterprise.com/labor/sugar-low-union-kills-twinkie&docid=IB8hqFCz7aq9rM&imgurl=http://www.freeenterprise.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/media/00_LABOR_RIPTwinkies_659x439px.jpg&w=659&h=439&ei=baLSUNa6CaaOiAK5-YCgCA&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=898&vpy=40&dur=201&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=157&ty=113&sig=113066672481944259300&page=8&tbnh=137&tbnw=212&ndsp=27&ved=1t:429,r:85,s:100,i:259

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Greetings


By Susan Knight

 

While recuperating from this blasted flu, I was able to lift my head up for awhile to sit at my table and ready my Christmas cards. Thank goodness I ordered them weeks prior.

In years past, these greeting cards were my gifts to friends, neighbors and family. I handmade them, or created a design and had it printed. I am told they were turned into tree ornaments by my wonderful recipients.

Since I’ve been working full-time for the last few years, I haven’t sent Christmas cards. I emailed a Christmas newsletter instead.

Two years ago, when I fled to Utah and lived with my generous best friend and her husband for six months, I was so beyond delighted to receive Christmas cards from my friends and family back home. I missed everyone tremendously. Knowing they were thinking of me with each stroke of the pen to address that envelope and add a signature made me feel so special, so loved.

This year, as I did the same, I strolled down memory lane remembering each and every person to whom I sent a card. With each name on my list, I paused and pondered about the many kindnesses shown me, gracious friendships and loving compassion.

I never have and never will look upon Christmas cards as a stressful use of my precious time. With carols playing in the background, and colorful pens to doodle addresses, my joy was full. It lifted my spirits.
 
I wish I had made more Christmas cards for there are oh, so many more people to remember and thank. Next year I will.

Dear readers, be grateful for family and friends. “Make merry” with them this Christmas season. Keep a smile on your face and a carol in your heart. Let love waft and flow like a simmering pot of cinnamon potpourri.

Remember to thank our Heavenly Father for all He has bestowed upon you, for His tender mercies are endless. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and am humbled by His huge sacrifice on my behalf. I can never repay Him. His life was a gift.

Merry Christmas and much love to all who might read this little thought.
 
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What to do?

by Kami Cornwall

Finals are over, Christmas is upon us, and I have a little time on my hands. The problem is...what do I do with it? I want to read this fabulous book about Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents, but I also want to get a little last minute Christmas shopping done, but I need to stay home to do some serious laundry (because little-man spent the whole night praying to the porcelain god and leaving vomity sacrifices all over his bedding and clothing) and I also want to talk to friends on the phone. Oh...and I need to pay some bills.

Sound familiar? Well...except for the vomitousness. I hate vomit. But my love for my little man out-measures my disdain for the stomach bile. So it works.

BUT FIRST I WILL BLOG!

Oh yes. Because I also have a little time to write for the next few weeks and don't think I haven't been dwelling on THAT little nugget of joy! I have been lying in bed thinking up ways to make my story better. I also think of new stories to write and then some stories that people shared with me at the conference and how excited I am that they are writing such fabulous things that I want to READ!

Here's to having a little time to ourselves during the Christmas Season! Cheers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Birthdays

by Terri Wagner



There's something magical about being born in December. Just ask Joseph Smith, I'm sure he'd agree. Our family has an overabundance of birthdays in December crossing at least four generations. Why? Don't ask, I don't know (wink wink nudge nudge). But I remain the first birthday for the season...so far. In my immediate family that meant Christmas season had officially arrived. We celebrated Thanksgiving as that and nothing else happened until the 5th. Then the tree went up, decorations came out, and Christmas music filled the air. And funnily enough I still stick to that tradition...no matter that the stores now start Christmas at Halloween. I hate the fact that Thanksgiving seems to get lost in the "holiday" train that starts with Halloween and ends around here with Mardi Gras.

We continue onward all the way to the 28th with birthdays. One had the honor of the 25th which means all his gifts were given on one day. And one who had the dubious honor of the 26th. Have you ever tried to throw a birthday party on that day??!! Don't bother...only those who feel intensely obligated will show up...lol. We did a half birthday celebration once on June 26 with half a cake, half a present...you get the idea. Cute and went over big until the teens then we were back to oh well you know who really loves you if they show up on the 26th. Outside my family I have one friend with two children born in December...it just never ends!

Whether the Savior was born in December or May or April or summer or whatever...we celebrate it December 25th, which always meant to me that "we" share something special. Every child born in December knows exactly what I mean when I say that. Although my parents were extremely careful to make sure I never "suffered" from joint birthday/Christmas gifts, nonetheless, all my gifts came around the same month. That never bothered me. Who doesn't want to be born when the entire world (ok most of the world) is celebrating an extraordinary day. Everything associated with Christmas is a part of my birthday celebration. People always smile a bit brighter and wish me a Happy Birthday and a Merry Christmas as if they were envious. I love it!

So don't feel sorry for us December babies...we have a special unique birthday moment every year (btw most people will remember December birthdays lol). And, so, Happy Birthday dear Alex...she's 27 today. That's a terrific age. I loved my 20s!

Happy Birthday to every December baby out there!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Holidays!

By Claire Enos

Sorry I'm so late in posting this. I just got home from school yesterday, and it totally spaced my mind until just now. Lucky for me I can set the post date and time for the time and day I meant to post it!

I would have named this post "Merry Christmas!" but it's not quite close enough yet, in my opinion.

In Family Foundations this last semester, we studied The Family: A Proclamation to the World, especially family traditions and teaching the Gospel in the home. It is almost Christmas time so I thought I'd share a few family traditions my family has had for as long as I can remember.

1. Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree 2011

Around Halloween, my dad starts pressuring my mom to allow us to put the Christmas tree up. My mom always says no, but he keeps bugging her, so she usually gives in around Thanksgiving. I usually put the tree up myself (a fake one, because my mom is allergic to real ones), then my dad puts the lights on, and then we pull out all the other decorations we've made or bought throughout the years. Last we put up the star. On Christmas Eve we put all the presents we bought for each other under the tree before we do our Christmas Eve traditions. Later that night, Santa puts candy canes on the tree as well (don't ask me why, I don't know!)

2. Nativity Set


My mom's Nativity Set Christmas 2011
My Nativity Set Christmas 2011
At the same time we put up the Christmas Tree, we also put up my mom's Nativity set. She's had it since before she met my dad, and we've put it up every year as long as I can remember. It goes on a shelf by the tree, or on whatever surface we can find. A couple years ago my mom bought me my own Nativity set for Christmas, and now that goes up along with hers. Last year we put them side by side. I just got home from school yesterday, so I haven't got around to putting mine up yet, but it will go up as soon as I get around to it, hopefully tomorrow!



3. Stockings!

Nativity Sets and Stockings before Christmas Eve. Christmas 2011

My mom started buying plain red stockings when I was around nine or ten. She bought glitter glue and we wrote our names on ours. We had to get new ones when we moved into our new house, but now we have a stocking for all seven of us, as well as all of our pets. As you can see, that's quite a lot. On Christmas Eve, Santa fills our stockings with oranges, apples, nuts, and chocolate.

Stockings filled for Christmas morning. Christmas 2011

Stockings filled for Christmas morning. Christmas 2011 pt. 2


4. Advent Calendar

We used to use the one my mom made when we were younger, but that one got lost. Now we have a binder full of stories we can read each night of December up until Christmas Eve, and songs that go along with those stories. This is one of our favorite things to do. We used to get candy every night as well, but we don't always get them any more.

5. 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

My mom always reads us 'Twas The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve night, right before we go to bed. My sisters and I recite it along with her now, because we know it so well. It is my favorite tradition ever! And it is definitely the one I'll treasure the most from my childhood.

6. Christ's Birth

We always read about Christ's birth either Christmas Eve, or before we open presents on Christmas morning. I think this is one of the best parts of Christmas, though I didn't agree as a kid.

It's always important to remember what Christmas is really about, and to remember why we spend this time as a family.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hope Amongst Heartache

By Jennifer Debenham

Yesterday I effectively ignored the news--not out of disinterest, but because I was so heavily occupied with working with my sisters to put on a dance recital for our family's dance studio. It has been all-encompassing work and has offered us little free-time for several days. Our theme was Winter Wonderland, and, as is so often the case this time of year, the music was upbeat and the dances were joyful. It really was a celebration of life.

Still the tragic Connecticut news could not escape my attention. Heartbroken women pondered it in the halls at church today as well as in our Relief Society lesson. I was grateful, however, that in most cases a feeling of hope and love prevailed amidst such a horrible tragedy.

This afternoon, when I finally had a moment to turn on my computer and catch up with some of the sad news, I was touched by the stories of teachers and administrators who exhibited great heroism in protecting their students and of parents of victims who forgave and reached out in sympathy to the family of the shooter.

In the face of tragedy or other trials, it is so comforting to me to witness the goodness within the human heart. And how comforting also to know that our Father in Heaven is mindful of us at these times as well. Of course, He is always mindful of us, but sometimes it takes horrible tragedies like this to make us equally mindful of Him. As one sister in church said today (summarized): "Heavenly Father's Spirit will be poured out upon that community for a long time to come, and those people will be able to come together in love and understanding in ways that would not otherwise be possible. They will be blessed through this, and healing will come to those who seek it."

My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones. I have felt a little ashamed that I have not been more aware of their sadness and heartache because my own life has been so encompassed in happy busyness. But upon further reflection, I realized that perhaps having a celebration of life, featuring children, might be just the thing after all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tis the Season

By Bonnie Harris

I had several things run through my head and I was figuring out what to post today. In light of the tradegy that happened yesterday, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those victims, as well as those who have been effected by the shooting.

Tis the season for decorations, stress, shopping, lights, wrapping, cooking, cards, more stress, deals, family, and more. The Christmas season is being commericalized earlier and earlier each year. I was shocked, but shouldn't have been, when stores began putting out Christmas stuff before Halloween. But that's only part of it. I feel like, in a way, we get so caught up in the hustle and the bustle that we forget the true meaning of Christmas.

It's not meant to be so crazy. President Thomas S Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, recently talked about Christmas being love. Remembering those around us. Slowing down and taking the time to remember the Savior. It's a wonderful talk you can view here.

Personally, as a family we've decided to focus more on teh Savior. My son has loved all the Christmas lights that appear this time of year. It wasn't until I really began looking and listening to what he sees that I realized all that he's talking about are the snowmen, Christmas trees, and Santa Clause's. There are hardly any nativities around. So, I tried to only put our nativities out in the house, and any chance I get, I talk to him about baby Jesus.

I just think during this time of craziness, that we can take a step back and remember others. Remember the Savior and his sacrifice. Remember to love each other.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Mom

by Kari Diane Pike

The transfusion pump is quiet right now. Yesterday, every single time Mom closed her eyes, that stupid alarm went off. She's finally sleeping. I think that evil machine is waiting for the charge nurse to leave the room so that it can ambush our ears again with its piercing alarm bell -- and wake Mom up for the umpteenth time (yep, there it goes...heavy sigh).

I don't mean to sound ungrateful. Just the opposite! Mom wouldn't be with us today if it wasn't for all the amazing advances in medical research and technology. I would much rather have the annoyance of buzzers and beepers and yes, even the headaches of dealing with insurance companies than not have my mom here.

We just finished writing out the rest of her Christmas cards. I am savoring every moment I get to spend time with my mom. She has always been there for me -- giving me life; saving me from drowning as a toddler; teaching me to love the Savior and have faith in Him; typing my term papers; planning my wedding; tending me after each childbirth. I owe my mother everything.

 Now it's my turn to be here for her -- to be her advocate; to run her errands; to tell funny stories that make her smile; and to hold her hand when it takes three hours to insert a new I.V. When I grow up I want to be just like my mom: faithful, charitable, classy, full of grace, beautiful (inside and out), and intelligent. Mom has always had the gift of discernment and that has kept me out of touble on more than one occasion.

She's sleeping again, finally. Gathering clouds outside the window difuse the sunlight, leaving a soft glow in the room. As I write this post, muffled sounds of tending to the ill and afflicted pass through the heavy door of the room.  Looking over the parking lot filled beyond capacity causes me to wonder about all the stories being lived within the walls of this hospital and reminds me that the Lord needs all of us to be His hands and serve our brothers and sisters.

I pray that all of you have a marvelous and beautiful Christmas and feel the love of the Savior.
hugs~


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Oops, too!

by Marsha Ward

As the founder of this blog, I should know better than to let my turn slip by. However, it was just one more thing, and 24 hours in each day simply didn't stretch enough the past week for me to get a post, well,  posted. Mea culpa, and all that.

I think this was the third time I've missed since we began in January of 2007, and I feel pretty awful about it. I'll try to do better in two weeks.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oops!

by Cindy R. Williams

Oops is a super word. It can be used for almost anything you bungle.

 My day to post was December 8, and thanks to everyday crazy busy stuff, like decorating, and prepping for Christmas, hosting 160 people at a Pigs Feet Christmas party in my home, making tons of fudge, caramels, kettle corn, cinnamon rolls, hosting a guitar, piano and harp recital, directing and acting in a major play, feeding a family of five-not just once, but three times a day-writing for a newspaper, finishing a MG fantasy, running a music studio, preparing for a son leaving home for BYU. Preparing an 18 year old son to leave home for his mission, preparing for my new granddaughter, and generally feeling like I'm a human energizer bunny, my blogging day slipped by. Oops!

A cool thing about blogger is that you can write your post early and schedule it ahead of time, or . . . you can write your post late and back post it. This is one of those back post times. I am too much of a perfectionist to just let it go.

So the kernel of wisdom here is . . . "Oops" is one of the best words in the human language.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Layered Socks





I sat down to write this post last night but I go interrupted. Then I sat down to write it this morning but had to deal with other things. I took my laptop to work with me and attempted to write on my breaks. Alas, instead of my normal lonely breaks, I had tons of people dying to talk to me. So here I am, at three thirty....trying again. I have a hair appointment at four, so listen fast.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to write something incredibly witty about life, love and the pursuit of casual Friday or if I wanted to expound on the frustrations I and my sister have experienced this week. Then I thought about writing on the wonderment of being a new grandmother. The problem with that one is whenever I think about my grandson all I want to do is hold him. He is adorable and sweet and goes to his mommy when he cries.
Inspite of all these wonderful topics I had rolling around in my head vying for my attention, I choose to write about singing monkeys and the smell of human.
I can't help it. School is where I am most of my waking hours during the week. I play with, teach, clean up after,chase, discipline, and run from children for almost eight hours a day. It is truly the dream job. Well, right after mom-to-toddlers. I do actually love my job. I have a ball talking to these kids and hearing all the interesting things they say. I can honestly say that I learn something new almost every day I am in kindergarten.
This week we were talking about our five senses. The day we covered smell was my favorite. I think it started when the teacher asked the children to tell her what they smelled. Hello....she had this coming. There were good answers....flowers, cookies, my feet, Colton, and somebody's fart. We changed strategies at that point. The teacher passed around envelopes with 'smelly items' in them for the kids to smell. After they smelled all the packets, she asked them what kinds of things they thought they smelled. They were pretty bright. Lemon, peppermint, pepper, 'pepper-corn', and "human." The teacher nodded her head enthusiastically at that one. Yes, she knew what smell the boy was referring to. She started to snicker and look at me with a funny look. I had no idea how she got the human smell in an envelope. I imagined her slicing a thin strip off her arm, or maybe cutting bit off her dead husbands corpse in the basement....I was starting to edge towards the door when she explained. "It is the smell of onion."
Hmm. I didn't know humans smelled like onions. I mean, I know we are like ogres in that we all have many layers, but....onion? I wonder what kind of people this child and the teacher both live with. Onion people? I'm gonna have to go smell my kids. I always thought they smelled more like bananas, snicker bars, and dirty socks.  Cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/thom-moores-hilarious-ode_n_1761986.html

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Richard Paul Evans


By Susan Knight

 

I had the privilege of attending a fireside with Richard Paul Evans last month. I knew he was going to be an awesome speaker. He was keynote speaker at a writer’s conference and a friend related a story about him at our ANWA meeting.

He did not disappoint.

Evans spoke, not in the context of a writer, but as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a caring, teaching human being. 

Right after publishing “The Christmas Box,” he was invited to speak to a group of junior high students in Georgia. The principal told him to prepare for a “few” minutes with the classes. He said, “I can do that,” and made it a side trip after a radio interview to promote his book.

When Evans arrived, school buses lined the curb of the junior high. He realized kids were bused in from surrounding schools to hear him. The principal greeted him with the news that he had an hour-and-a-half to speak to the students—in the jam-packed auditorium.

I chuckled along with everyone else in the audience. Everyone knows kids that age don't have the attention span to be attentive for ninety minutes.

Evans asked himself, “What can I tell these kids that will take up that much time?” They weren't LDS so he couldn't conduct it like a “fireside.” During his introduction, he hurried and jotted down five things he wished he knew while in junior high. He said he let the spirit tell him what to say.
 
I believe these five things can serve us all well, no matter our age.

1. We are Born of Divinity. There is a reason why you are here. You are not a mistake.

2. Live Free. Do not live in a cage of “victimhood.” Embrace freedom. Let it go. Forgive.

3. Magnify Your Life. Are we living the lives we should be? “All successes in life are built on stairways of failure.” Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t fail by default.

4. Embrace Adversity. “We do not succeed despite our challenges but precisely because of them.” Evans has Tourette Syndrome and spent some time talking about his challenges.

5. Love. Love is a choice. Service is love made visible. We love the people we serve.

He spent at least fifteen minutes elaborating on each “pearl.”

Richard Paul Evans (he referred to himself as “Rick”) is an amazing speaker. The chapel and the cultural hall were filled to overflowing, like a Stake Conference back in Philadelphia. Even so, the spirit was palpable. You could hear a pin drop. The woman next to me cried all through the closing hymn and prayer, as did I.

I went home spiritually fed.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Use Charlatan in a Sentence

by Kami Cornwall

Today I had an experience that caused me to pause. Actually I was reeling. I was in an ethics class for Graduate students working toward a Master's or PhD in Counseling Psychology. My professor used the word, "charlatan" in a sentence.

I overheard the following whispered conversation:
"I love that word - Charlatan."
"What does that mean?"
"It means...like...fake. You know...like...Joseph Smith was a charlatan."
"Who?"
"Joseph Smith. You know...the Mormons."
*snickering*
"I know, right? Soooo weird."
*more snickering and phrases down on a notepad to each other.*

I felt a wave of anger/shock/frustration sweep over me. A million words piled up behind my lips but I fought, instead, to focus on what my professor was saying. I wanted to explain thing, but then I didn't. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion and she didn't know much about the subject.

But here, now two hours later, is the big question and especially for those who are supposed to be culturally sensitive to people of all races, cultures, and religions - couldn't she have thought of a better sentence to use the word in? I looked up "charlatan in a sentence" online and the example they gave was, "the magician was so bad, everyone knew he was a charlatan." Simple enough, right?

Would her comment have had the same impact if she had said, "you know...like...the Pope is a charlatan?" or, "you know...like Muhammed was a charlatan?" Is it still funny if we choose a Jewish prophet? Then why is it funny to poke fun of the Mormons? Are we really that "weird?" Considering she didn't even know there was one in the room...I'm thinking maybe my "weirdness vibe" might not be very strong. But then again, maybe I'm just a charlatan.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Blessings of the Lord

By Claire
"Remember there's a Heavenly Father there, and when we do what He has asked us to do, He will bless us. Let's not deny Him the opportunity to fulfill his promises by taking it all upon us as if we had to do it all by ourselves." -Elder Oaks

I love this quote, mostly because it reminds me that I don't need to be so independent that I never allow God to bless me. If I'm constantly thinking about fixing everything on my own, I'm never turning to God for help so that He can bless me. However, there is a thin line there between pure laziness and just recognizing that I'm weak and turning to Him for strength.

Recently, I've been thinking seriously about serving a mission. I'm about 85 percent sure I want to serve a mission at this point. I've been thinking about it for over a year, since I turned 20 last October. I would already be gone, but my biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to afford it, Another problem is that I don't have dental insurance, which I need in order to pay to fix my teeth so that I can serve a full-time mission. However, my mom told me (a week or two ago), that I should focus on whether or not I want to go for right now. Once I've decided for sure that I want to go, I can start praying to God for help in the money department and about getting my teeth fixed.

I just need to learn to trust in the Lord to guide me where I need to go. Whether that's finishing out school, or serving a mission, I don't know right now. But I know wherever I'm led, it's for a purpose and that God wants to bless me, I just need to give him the chance.

And so, ending on this thought: How can each of you allow God the opportunity to bless you, like I'm learning to do? I'm convinced this is a learned thing, not something that comes naturally, because I know I struggle with it myself!

Have a good week everybody!

<3Claire

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I'm Late. I'm Late, for a VERY Important Date!

By Jennifer Debenham

Two weeks can seem like such a long time until you realize at midnight that your post is due in a few hours. "Wasn't it just LAST Sunday I posted?" Apparently not.

I know I don't hold the corner on busyness, but since my last post I have:

* Helped plan and implement a Ward Thanksgiving Party
* Helped deliver Thanksgiving dinners to needy families.
* Hosted Thanksgiving dinner for 54 people, including purchasing most of the food, making some of it, and baking most of the nearly 30 pies (with the help of my mom and 3 of my sisters, thank goodness).
* Hosted a 40-year Anniversary Party and dinner for my parents
* Held a Birthday party for my husband (and did all the shopping necessary)
* Worked extra hours at work to get ready for our Winter dance recital as well as our new semester of dance classes
* Traveled 4 hours to Utah to:
       * Spend one full day picking out furniture for our new house AND
       * Spend one full day trying to get all my Christmas shopping done since shopping in my small Nevada town is "mucho lame-o" as my children like to inform me.

Of course, all of this was in addition to the regular jobs of a mom.

These past several days I have taken on the persona of the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland--constantly looking at my watch (well, cell phone) with a frantic look on my face as I race off to the next "very important date."

It probably isn't surprising to anyone that I haven't done an ounce of writing that didn't pertain to my work or church calling until now. Thank you ANWA blog assignment!

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

What do you do to make sure, in all the craziness of life, that you have time for following your dreams?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Courage

By Bonnie Harris

I recently attended the Northwest Writers Retreat in Washington. Heather Moore was the guest speaker there and I loved what I learned from her. Her closing remarks had to do with the courage to follow our dreams. You know how notes can be, not always as complete as we'd like them, but here are mine. Basically what I took from it is that we have to try. We have to have the courage to try, even if we're told we can't. It was wonderful to hear her personal story. So keep dreaming, keep trying, and Happy Writing!

Courage to follow dreams--heather Moore

Resistance
Related to procrastination, is universal, it never sleeps, plays for keeps, fueled by fear, fed by fear, most powerful @ finish line, recruits alies

Rejection
Can come from people you know and love
Don't compare your worst self to someone's best self
Begin with a prayer- use writing time wisely, do I need to be doing sketching else
I'd you wan it you'll make time for it

Be supportive of other writers and their successes

Embracing your calling
Love 
We are told as a child our dreams are impossible
Fear of the defeats on the paths
Fear of realizing the dreams we've worked so hard for

What I took from it is that we have to try. We have to have the courage to try, even if we're told we can't. It was wonderful to hear her personal story. So . . .

Keep dreaming

Keep trying 

and 

Happy Writing!