Aug 31, 2013

Wise Words by James A. Owen

The following post by James A. Owen revealed truth. So much truth that I asked his permission to post this on ANWA Founder & Friends. He granted it by saying, "Of course," followed by a smiley face. Many of you know James A. Owen. I hope you find this illuminating.

Cindy R. Williams


Your time and energy are finite; the former is irreplaceable, and must be used moment by moment as they occur. The latter is renewable, but only if you allow it to happen. It’s very much like one of the early design obstacles the Tesla electric car company had to deal with: the car operated on a block of hundreds of lithium batteries that could be recharged — UNLESS you ran it all the way down to empty. Then it died completely, and could not be recharged AT ALL. That’s a pretty good metaphor for the proper use and allotment of one’s personal energy: you can always renew it, but only IF you don’t drain it all the way to the bone.
Sometimes our commitments and obligations seem to require more of both our time and energy that we have — but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, we use our precious time and deplete our valuable energy in the service of people and presumed or inferred obligations that don’t really merit that level of commitment. It’s possible for people to want to simply drain everything you have to give, and then demand MORE. And in trying to service them — whether out of a feeling of obligation or simply because you want to be seen as the honorable guy — you lose the use of that time and energy you could be, you WANT to be, using for the things that are not merely obligations, but which renew you rather than drain you. In short, to do those things which keep you in the FLOW.
The Wikipedia definition of Flow says: “Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does…flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand…Colloquial terms for this or similar mental states include: to be in the moment, present, in the zone, on a roll, wired in, in the groove, on fire, in tune, centered, or singularly focused.”
Living in the Flow does not mean overcommitting; it means committing wisely to the things that not only drain you less, but actually RENEW you in the doing. Spending time with my family is living in the Flow. Working on projects I love is living in the Flow. Drawing for friends in living in the Flow.
We aren’t meant to live our lives only giving. We’re also meant to receive. And if the things you spend your irreplaceable time doing are only draining you to the point of turning you into a dead Tesla, and are doing nothing to renew your energy, then something is amiss.
I’m speaking from recent experience — and I’m trying to refocus everything I’m doing to align with being in the Flow. This will make some people uncomfortable, and some people unhappy — and that’s okay, because those people are also the ones who hadn’t cared whether or not the battery was drained as long as they got all they could get, and people like that are just obstacles to living in the Flow. The people who will understand and accept the changes I’m making I don’t worry about, because they already do. And once you’ve begun making those kinds of changes in your life, you can’t imagine why you ever thought living otherwise was acceptable to you.
Still, it’s a hard thing to choose, and everyone’s mileage varies. But it is a choice, and one I’m making with all the renewable energy I have. Go thou and do so likewise.
DOTDmeditation spendDays 300x300 Living In The Flow

Copyright © 2013 James A. Owen and Coppervale International, All rights reserved.,,, or at a signing event/public appearance with James A. Owen.

Our mailing address is:
James A. Owen and Coppervale International
313 East Center St.
P.O. Box 1459
Taylor, AZ 85939

Add us to your address book
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp
Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

Aug 30, 2013

Off we go....

By Beckie Carlson

Today is the day I double post. I put the same blog entry on my blog here on the ANWA blog.  I always look forward to it. It makes me feel a bit special to be on the bloggin board here at  ANWA. I usually post early in the morning or the night before, but I was busy learning me some math last night so...I didn't.
I am glad I waited, as I have big news! It isn't about the awesome day I had teaching 6th grade math and social studies. Or even about the drama at work. No, the real excitement came when I picked up the mail on the way home. There was a BIG white envelope in there....addressed to my son.
As soon as I saw it, I knew it was his mission call. I know I've been working for this and praying for this and planning for this his entire life time, but when I saw that big old envelope I admit I dissolved into a puddle of tears. What if they send my boy to Africa? Or India? Or Italy? Well, honestly, if they sent him to Italy I would stow away in his suitcase! I started to panic. My little boy was about to leave me for two whole years?
How am I supposed to let him go? Man, all kinds of thoughts were going through my head, but mostly I was terrified of opening that envelope.
My son is a lot like me, we don't get real excited about things. We like to keep it cool and just flow with it. I could tell he was a bit excited though because he kept changing chairs in the family room. He finally said, "I could open it now..." instead of waiting for family and such. I said, "you could...." and we both just kind of let that hang in the air. Next thing I knew, he went upstairs to change into a nicer t-shirt for the pictures he was SURE I was going to take. Smart boy.
I was forbidden from taking video, and I wish I had not listened to that, but I did.
We had thrown some guesses out and both felt like Canada would be a good place. Not too far, but still a foreign-ish country.
It was intense watching him cut that envelope open.....
My dear son is going to be serving in the Anchorage, Alaska mission. Two years, out serving the Lord and the people in that cold, cold area. I can't put into words how proud of him I am. He doesn't leave until November, but I have a feeling I am going to be emotional for many months.
Every now and then, your kids do something that make you think, just for a second, that you aren't a complete failure as a parent.
Today is a good day. He did it all on his own, but...I'm feeling good. At least I didn't mess him up!
Cause I said so.

Photo credit:

Aug 29, 2013

What is a day of your life worth?

By Susan Knight

     August 29th?
     As in the end of August?
     Wait a minute.
     Didn’t I just plant my annuals?
     Wasn’t it just the longest day of the year?
     Didn’t I just watch fireworks on the Fourth of July?
     But what else did I do?
     Ever since I moved to Utah, I vowed I would live in the present—be present to all around me. But, considering how quickly time flies, and not seeing much to show for its passing, I’m wondering if I might be flittering away my life, not filling my moments with memories as I should.
     I used to have a tagline with my emails:
“What I do today is important because I am paying a day of my life for it.
        What I accomplish must be worthwhile because the price is high.”
        Author Unknown
     I think Author Unknown is one of the most profound human beings that ever lived. This person has made me realize that minutes and seconds are precious. Instead of spending time watching television, how about a meaningful conversation with a loved one? A book in hand is worth more than two video games. Pen a thank-you note rather than an email.
     I have to re-commit to make each day meaningful in some way. What must I do before I lay my head on my pillow that will help me feel fulfilled?
     For most of us in ANWA, it’s writing; for others it might be reading, giving service, playing with our kids, appreciating nature.
     What is important to you?
     What is worth paying a day of your life for?

Aug 28, 2013

I forgot to post!

So it's 10 pm and I was supposed to post on the blog today...I forgot.

To those who know me, that won't be a surprise revelation.  I forget things a lot.  I used to blame it on having too many kids but 2 of them are in college now so I only have 2 at home (well, Cody's home but he does his own thing).  Then I blamed it on not being able to find a good program on my phone or on my computer to keep track of things so I went back to a regular calendar.  I found a great one that has 6 spaces for each day to keep track of every person in my house's schedules.  It's a great tool and it's a nice looking calendar but it doesn't help if you don't actually write on it!  So, I'm going to write my blogging assignments on my cute little calendar and try to be better and imparting my words of wisdom (haha) in a more timely manner!

With that said, I don't actually have any words of wisdom this week!  It's been way busy and I can't actually focus on anything fun to write about tonight so I'm going to end this and put you all out of your misery!

This would probably be a good example of free flow writing except, believe it or not, I actually stopped and tried to think about this post!  Maybe I should have done some free writing before I tried to write this and this may have been a better post!

Sorry all!  It'll be better next time!

Aug 27, 2013

Why Do I Go to Church?

by Terri Wagner

Oddly I get asked that question a lot lately. I suspect it is because I am in a calling that requires a lot of meetings, phone calls, and activities. I even get that question from members. The latest one who asked me is what I guess is considered less active these days. I have a stock answer, but stock only because it is the answer for me!

I go to prove my loyalty to my Heavenly Father, and to renew my covenants with Him. The rest is extra. If I'm in a good ward/branch, and the talks are great, the other meetings are fun, well to me that's icing on the cake. And believe me when I tell you I have endured some bizarre Sacrament meetings, and Fast-n-Testimony meetings. My personal favorite is my very first FNT as a new member. As an investigator, I did not go; somehow I knew that wasn't going to be my favorite meeting. I was right!!! First person gets up and starts talking about people in the ward accusing her of having an affair. She was not. Her and her husband who was the bishop were having problems. Then nearly everyone else got up and either said I'm sorry or it wasn't me spreading rumors. It's funny now; it wasn't then. It kinda soured me on the whole concept. But in fairness I must say, I've been to some FNT that were awe inspiring.

My less favorite meeting is Relief Society. I honestly think it's solely because I never married or had children and just felt I couldn't relate. The lessons by design are centered on the family, eternal relations, and raising righteous children. I completely agree with that. Totally see the need for it. But can't really relate. I still go; I still listen; I try to find a way to make it relate to me. I'm better now than I used to be.

So what is my most favorite church meeting...Primary or Young Women's. You just can't beat a young person talking about the church. I love the trust they put in me as a teacher or leader. The sweetness of their spirits (yes even when they are tiring) are soothing to my own spirit. Their questioning poses no problem for me. I was a convert and my testimony is an adventure I haven't gotten to the end of yet. So I seem to relate to their wonderings that echo mine.

So why do I go to church? So Heavenly Father knows I know why I go. Everything else is icing. Sometimes it's chocolate icing with nuts; and sometimes it's bland vanilla. But it's still just the icing.

Aug 26, 2013

"Go Forward? Only Thing To Do!"

By Claire Enos
“Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” 
-- JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit
Interesting factoid I've picked up over the years, through experience: Music has a property of sorts that allows you to remember things you would otherwise forget. For instance, there is one specific CD I listened to a lot while reading Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara; now whenever I read the book or listen to the music I am reminded of the other. They are forever connected in my mind, even though they have nothing to do with each other. Music is special, however that is for another post. My point in sharing this interesting fact is that yesterday I had an experience involving it.

I was sitting in the living room watching Bones, and the episode had just ended, the final music was just playing and immediately my mind flew back in time. It flew most directly to something I've been trying to forget for quite some time, but it wasn't the negative feelings I noticed. In fact, I noticed the positive feelings I had toward an old friend.

When I told another friend about this, his first thought, and response, was to point this very important lesson that Bilbo Baggins realizes in The Hobbit. Which is this: It is impossible to move on while still looking to the past. You can't move backwards, you have to keep moving forward. Staying in one place is impossible.

So, that is my new motto: "Keep moving forward, looking toward a bright future rather than wasting a perfectly alright past." My past may not have been the best. I made mistakes, just like everyone else, but those mistakes have led me to where I am now, and will continue to guide who I become in the future. It happened. So, I will get over it and move forward, focusing on becoming the best person I can possibly be.

One day, I hope to be able to put to the page what I have been through to help future generations through the written word. Until then, I will just have to accept what I have and work toward what I want.

So, with that, keep working toward something greater. Keep working toward being the best person you can possibly be, and remember who you are.


Aug 24, 2013

Practicing for Heaven

We just finished our family reunion. It was fun and crazy and busy and enjoyed by all. Children came from Pennsylvania, California, and many places in between.

All of our six children have their own families now, and every child and grandchild has his or her own personality. Some are talkative. Others are quiet. A few like to be in the middle of the action. Several sit on the fringes of the fray.

Our activities were varied.

Delicious meals
Fun in the hot tub

 A break on the trampoline

 It seems to me that our task while we are here on earth is to learn to love each individual, including those who are like us and those who are different. Love means to accept them with their strengths and weakness, appreciating them just the way they are.

Heavenly Father has set the example for us. He loves us with our best qualities and our short comings. He accepts us foibles and all.

Family gatherings are a microcosm of Heaven. If we can learn to  get along with our eternal family here, we'll be able to love each other when we meet the angels. Every time we gather we are practicing for Heaven.

Christy's books, Love Hugs, and Hope and Becoming Free will be available September 1, 2013.

Aug 23, 2013

Echoes in Writing

by Marsha Ward

In writing, there are two kinds of echoes. One is clumsy writing, but the other is awesome.

The "frowned on" kind of echoes are repeated words or phrases. Sometimes they are clich├ęs. Sometimes they are simply overused. Do you refer to a "wild woman" or a "just recompense" too many times in your work? How about that word "just"? Is it a pet? Can you eliminate it three-quarters of the time?

Like that.

The other echo is a more ghostly and resonant kind, something that is spread out a lot farther, perhaps over a body of work, like a novel series. It is a sometimes unintentional, but uncanny bit of writing that reminds me of my very closely-held theory of the origin of ideas.

I have come to agree with the saying, "there are no coincidences," especially when I make discoveries of echoes in my body of work. Yesterday I was editing a scene in my current work-in-progress, Gone For a Soldier, when I realized that Rulon Owen had acquired a certain skill set in that time that was echoed in Spinster's Folly. Was I led to choose a certain odd job for him to perform when he needed to earn a couple of bucks? Perhaps.

Continuing my editing brought me to the discovery of a second echo. Does anyone remember the name of Hannah Bingham's husband in Trail of Storms? Yeah, Robert Fletcher. As I wrote a scene a few months ago, I needed a throw-away name for a tavern. What did I use? Fletcher's. I didn't even realize I had written down that name until I edited the scene.

Coincidence? I think not.

We can lay echoes in deliberately, of course. A line or two in Gone For a Soldier establishes the root of the reputation James Owen enjoys as a good horseman in later novels. It's a very little thing, but it adds depth to the overall story.

Whether this type of echo in writing comes from pure inspiration, happenstance, or deliberation, it can resonate with the reader and bring them back for more rich writing.

Aug 22, 2013

What Real People Think About

by Kari Pike

The human brain fascinates me. Genetics intrigues me. The fact that life exists at all is miraculous. Sometimes I just have to sit back and say Wow. Just Wow.

As spiritual beings going through a mortal experience, we have the capacity to develop some pretty amazing coping skills. I teach all of my birth education clients how powerful their minds are in the birthing process. When the body is under extreme stress, the brain will do some interesting things to try to protect itself from that stress. Our brains work in similar ways when everyday stress gets to be overwhelming.

Take today for instance. My friend called late yesterday to tell me that her oncologist found some funny stuff going on and he moved her bone marrow biopsy up a week because he said, "We don't want to waste any time." A few hours later, our son offered to help us buy our own home and said that we needed to do it "yesterday" because interest rates are going to sky rocket in the next few months. My brain went into survival mode: focus on the most important things and throw everything overboard that is not essential to survival. In other words, I forgot I was supposed to blog today.

So -- here I am. As far as writing goes -- I have been pouring hours and hours into research for a narrative history of my step-father's family. We have a book about the Collamer ancestors who crossed into England from Normandy with William the Conqueror and then to North America from England in the early 1600s. The book ends in the mid to late 1800s. My project is to bring that narrative history up-to-date. I've learned how to do oral interviews, find and create maps, search through census records, city directories, and vital records. I've learned that nothing is free (particularly if you need it from a government agency), but the information is priceless and is always there if I dig hard and long enough.

It's been fun discovering historical facts about the time periods and the communities these people lived in. Did you know, for instance, that there was a flood in Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1900s? Over 2 million gallons of molasses spilled from collapsed tanks and 21 people drowned. (Gives a whole new meaning to being slower than molasses....groan.) Another interesting occurrence: On November 11, 1911, an F2 tornado ripped through Owosso, Michigan at 11:11 pm. Two people died and 9 others were injured (9+2=11). Incredible!

Of course I will include important events having to do with stuff like military service, what it was like to live during the depression(s) and the first radio broadcasts for baseball and prizefights -- because that's what real people thought about every day. Yes, their lives were affected and touched by world events, but I think it's important to learn about what they experienced first hand.

What do you like to read about when studying the lives of your ancestors?

Aug 20, 2013

My Friend

My Friend
by Patricia A Pitterle

Sometimes, I feel so lonely
On this journey we call life.
The road is rough
And full of ruts
And toil and pain and strife.

It’s hard to keep my focus,
When tears fall from my eyes.
I hear whispers
That I’m all alone,
My heart within me cries.

Sometimes the voice would have me think
I am not worth His fight.
Not good enough
To feel His love.
Please hide me from His sight.

And though I seem to listen
And fear those words are true.
A part of me
Holds fast to faith
That He will guide me through.

Slowly, my eyes are opened,
I come to see His grace.
He walks with me
He talks with me
He leads me through this place.

In ways I don’t yet understand
He took my sins from me
And suffered that
I might now know,
He lived and died for me.

And safe at last, in His embrace
My heart will finally mend
As I gaze into
His loving face,
My Savior and my friend.

Aug 17, 2013


by Cindy R. Williams
  • Floating on the sparkling clear water and with a few clouds billowing by in a sun shining out of an endless deep blue sky.
  • Chicken Tortilla soup with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkled with shredded cheese and cilantro.
  • Ice cream sundaes and chocolate covered vanilla ice cream popsicles followed by chocolate truffles while floating in the crystal clear blue water.
  • Thirteen writers quietly stepping in and out of their stories.
  • Grandma's homemade cookies, Christy's homemade salsa and veggie pizza, watermelon, fresh veggies in spinach dip and M & M's.
  • All of this at our first ANWA "Swim & Write Saturday" for our ANWA chapter and the ANWA youth chapter.

Summer is great for writers!

Aug 15, 2013

Push the Rock

By Susan Knight

I heard a very nice story on Sunday from our speaker in church. I'll see if I can paraphrase what he said.

There was a man who was asked by the Savior to give service. The man accepted the Savior's request wholeheartedly because he wanted to serve the Lord more than anything else.
The Savior showed him a large boulder and told the man his service would be to push against the rock with all his might.
The young man did as he was asked. He spent many hours pushing the rock, but it didn't move an inch. He toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulder set squarely against the huge, hard surface, pushing with all his might. After many weeks of trying to move the stone, the man became forlorn, thinking he was wasting his time. He wasn't strong enough.
Because he seemed discouraged, the adversary put negative thoughts in his mind, such as, "Why are you killing yourself trying to move this rock? What's the purpose? You should just give up."
The man began to believe the task was impossible and was sad, thinking he must be an unworthy servant. He couldn't move the massive stone.
He cried out, "Lord, you asked me to move this rock, but it is impossible. I'm not strong enough. I'm sorry. I failed you."
The Savior replied, "My son, I never asked you to move the rock. I only asked you to push it. When I asked you to serve Me, you accepted and have been an obedient servant. You have not failed. Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are calloused from constant pressure and your legs have become hard and strong."
The man learned, through opposition, he became stronger than he could have had he not pushed the rock. He was glad he served the Lord.
The Savior said, "I will move the rock."

I needed this lesson.
How many times have I been asked to give service and have passed the buck or declined? Yet, I know there are others who serve me and I am grateful for their service.
I need to be more diligent when I feel prompted by the Lord to serve someone. After all, He doesn't ask us to move the rock, only to push it. By proving our obedience, we not only become wise servants, but strong in our testimony.

Aug 14, 2013


Well, I'm not a technological idiot but I am a little tech-challenged and my goal for the past couple of weeks has been to get my website up and running.  Ugh!  It's taking me forever!  Part of it is because I always seem to find something else to do (anything else to do!), another part of it is that I want it to be great but most of it is because, honestly, I just don't know what I'm doing!  I know, they have videos and whatnot to show you how to do it but who has the time??  I'm rather impatient and just want it done.  I'M A WRITER, NOT A WEBSITE DESIGNER!

You may not care about me and my website woes but you do need to care about having a website if you become a published writer.  Everyday I learn of more things I need to do to promote myself and my books and everyday I feel like I'm more and more behind.  What happened to writer's write?

Well, I think part of it is that the world wide web has made the world a much smaller place and as such, publishing houses don't have to bare the sole burden of publicizing their authors.  So, if you want to make money in this business, you have to learn about publicity and marketing and you can't be afraid to talk to people.  Besides figuring out this website stuff, I'm putting together a marketing plan for my publisher.  They want to know what I'm willing to do.  I think the more effort I'm willing to put in, the more money they're willing to put behind it.  However, I feel like I missed the boat in college and should have earned a business or marketing degree.  Does anyone else feel like this?

I'm not complaining, well, not really.  I love to learn new things so I'm having fun but I wish I would have known this earlier in my career so I could be more up to speed now.  This is my cautionary tale don't think once you've sold your book your work is done and the publisher's starts.  Really, it's where your work will start to morph into something else and you'll long for the lonely days of writing and spending time with the people who talk in your head.  My suggestion: start seeing what you have to do after your book is sold now so you won't feel behind like me!

Happy writing!

Aug 13, 2013

It's your modem, no that modem isn't right either

by Terri Wagner

I love the Internet. I like social media, although I don't really post a lot, I like to see what other people post. I like researching things. I like learning things, I like staying in touch with the church.

That said, I do not like the hardware and completely mystifying operating systems. All I know is that on Friday night while in the middle of a conversation actually two conversations, my FB went wonky. So I refreshed it, and lost it. Oddly though, the other conversation was still going fine. Afraid to do anything, touch anything out of the keyboard, I continued until we said that's it, said enough.

I signed out of that chat and never was able to raise up the Internet beast again. Had no clue what had happened. I called my tech support 24/7 team and got a very nice young man who tried to help me. He finally admitted my modem was ancient, and had probably died. Since my Internet access company has changed hands, and I still had equipment from the old one, I bought that line. Seemed logical.

So on Monday my dad (since I am finally working permanently yahoo) went and got a brand spanking new modem. It had bells and whistles. We plugged in everything and......yep you guessed it....still no Internet. So I called tech support. Got a very nice young man. He put me through the drills, consulted his supervisor...came back and finally said, "I hate to tell you this, but I think the modem is bad even though it's new." Ok fair enough. Lemons happen. I'm not happy but it's reasonable. And frankly entirely in keeping with my luck in life. And of course 10 minutes before the store closes and we are not within 10 minutes to reasonably get there. Another long night of no Internet.

So Tuesday we swamp out the new modems, it lights up like a Christmas tree. But I still can't get on the Internet. We check our two laptops and additional desktop...nothing, nada, zero. So I call tech support. A very nice young man begins to help me. Now I have to give Mr. Las Vegas credit, he hung in there for almost two hours. And when we said goodbye having become bosom buddies well at least it felt that way, all of our computers were up and running and on the Internet.

Still I have to tell ya, my computer is running slower. Is that something serious? Is my computer now too old for the modem?

I hate hardware and operating systems. Can't wait until I can just tell the darn computer to do something like on Star Trek. How about you?

Aug 12, 2013

A Time to Write

By Claire Enos

I am so sorry I am posting this so late! I was busy all day Monday, and just barely got online since Monday (it is now midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning). For those of you who aren't friends with me on facebook and haven't heard, my uncle died a little over a week ago, last monday. This monday we had his memorial service, so my life has been pretty hectic the last week or so. My days seem to be going by so fast!

During this past week and a half I have written more than I have all summer, that is to say: I've done a lot of writing since my Uncle died. I wrote the obituary for the newspaper and the Eulogy my Aunt read for her husband's memorial service. While I've been doing all this writing, I realized one thing: Writing is my life. It's what I live for and it will always be a part of my life, no matter what anyone says.

Not too long ago, an ex-friend of mine told me that my major was a waste of time and I should switch majors and do something that makes sense. At the time I was devastated, because all I could think was: "If this isn't important, what is? Why should I be miserable just because of what someone else thinks? And, if not writing, then what? I'm not really good at anything else, and my other interests are less reliable than writing is."

However, over the course of the last week and a half I came to realize, first: It didn't matter what he thought about my major, since it doesn't affect him at all; and second: writing is important, and I'm good at it. Why should I change who I am for someone who doesn't matter?

So, this is what I have to say: If writing makes you happy, pursue it. It will always be useful for one reason or another. And as long as you're writing, what else matters?

Keep Writing!


PS: I know a lot of you live in Arizona. I'll be flying down in a couple weeks, on the 27th. If you'd like to meet up with me or something while I'm in Mesa/Phoenix area let me know! Thanks!w

Aug 10, 2013

Preparing Our Children For The Trials That May Come


Two little cousins having a lipstick moment—just for fun.

I came across this picture the other day. These four-year-olds are now almost sixteen. Who was to know the trials that would await them?

One of them has just been through a deadly cancer battle—and won, for the moment. The other has a father who decided to follow an alternative life style and leave his family. What heartache and trials these two kids have been through.

Both of them are faithful in the gospel—preparing for missions. Even as I write, one of them is in Kirtland, Ohio at EFY, and the other is at girls’ camp, as a youth leader.

How do we prepare our children for the challenges that may come their way? We cannot protect them against illness, nor can we prevent the ravages of society from claiming loved ones around them. How do we lead them to find strength through their faith?

They both have strong mothers who love their Father in Heaven. These kids have watched their moms serve the Lord, attend the temple regularly, pay their tithing, hold family home evenings and pray with them often. Testimony shines through these two faithful women in all they do.

When trials come, these youth know their names are on the temple rolls, and extended family are fasting and praying for them. They hear the testimonies of those around them—family, ward leaders, and seminary friends.

I love this quote by President Hinkley:

“You need more than your own wisdom in rearing [your children]. You need the help of the Lord. Pray for that help and follow the inspiration which you receive” (“The Fabric and Faith of Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 89).

Prepare your children with strong testimonies for the trials that may come their way. These little ones belonged to Heavenly Father before they became ours. He will love and bless their lives with faith and hope—through us. 

Love, Hugs and Hope, When Scary Things Happen will be out in  hard copy Sep. 1, 2013

Becoming Free, A Woman's Guide to Internal Strength will be available in Ebook form Sep. 1, 2013

Aug 9, 2013

Pending project raises its head

by Marsha Ward

Sometimes in life, and especially in writing, opportunities arise when they are not convenient. One then has to decide whether or not one has the time to take advantage of the opportunity that comes along.

I was in just such a position a couple of weeks ago. I received a solicitation in my email inbox to sign up for a newsletter by a couple of writing coaches I know about, in exchange for which I would be able to attend a free webinar on recording audiobooks.

The problem is, I'm engaged in writing a novel, which is a pursuit that takes up to ten hours a day, every day--or until I'm mentally exhausted. Distractions are my great enemy. Getting out of the groove is detrimental to my creative flow. It could be dangerous to forward progress to get sidetracked.

Since producing audiobook editions of my novels is somewhere among the pots and pans on a back burner of my extremely large, wood-fired mental kitchen stove, I had to give this decision some thought. Finally, I chose to sign up for the newsletter and attend the webinar. I figured taking 90 minutes out wouldn't hurt, and I could gather important facts to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the hows and wherefores.

Although much of the information was pretty much a rehash of other information I already have on hand, I'm glad I attended, if only to hear the experiences and opinions of the hosts. The time-out was refreshing, and I now have moved the audiobook pot a little closer to the front of the stove.

What choice would you make in a similar situation?

Aug 8, 2013

And the rest is history!

by Kari Pike

What do you do when you get notified that the final academic class you were scheduled to take has been cancelled and that you have to choose an entirely different subject -- one that will fulfill a general ed credit? If you're a writer, majoring in family studies, you decide to take History 433 -- writing narrative biographies. It is turning out to be one of my favorite classes -- and that says a lot because up to this point, my favorite class was organic chemistry.

Learning to write a narrative biography has as much or more to do with the research process as anything else. I've learned how to do oral interviews, transcribe recorded interviews, read and translate maps, and dig up facts. I had no idea how much information could be pulled up from one document. For example, one of the assignments required looking up a homestead application and then writing a one paragraph history of the person in the document, based solely on those application pages. (There were two pages to the document.)

Here is what I wrote:

It's hard to imagine raising 5 children in an 18ft x 20ft log cabin at the same time you are building corrals and fences, digging water ditches, and cultivating  thirty acres. But that's what John Christensen and his wife did. After making an estimated $1000 in improvements, John Christensen, a naturalized citizen of the United States of America, filed a Homestead application  and described that log house, complete with a door,  windows, and a wood floor. He even mentioned building the outhouses. John must have been a very industrious man as he claimed that he built the house on his land in 1876 and established actual residence that same year. By the time he filed his application he had raised six crops and shown that the land was valuable for agriculture. A long time acquaintance, John Pine, confirmed that John Christensen and his family had indeed continuously resided on that homestead from the time the claim was made.

Another assignment involved researching and gleaning information from military records and pension applications. Here's a little historical bit from just one pension application:

Lieutenant Captain "Col" J.H. Harpster of the 148 RN didn't expect Private Jackson Hartley to live beyond his service in the Civil War. In a letter to the Commissioner of Pensions, dated August 10th, 1885, J.H. Harpster described the twenty-something-year-old private he worked with from 1862 - 1865 as a "used up man" who suffered from asthma and a lung affliction and who was frequently unfit for duty because of coughing, shortness of breath and the inability to keep up with the column. Despite being assigned detached duty to care for the Lieutenant's horses, Jackson Hartley appeared to be marked for death. I wonder if Lieutenant Harpster ever knew that Jackson Hartley did more than just survive.
Born June 24th, 1841, in Snyder County, Pennsylvania, Jackson Hartley turned twenty-one two months before he enlisted in the military in Harrisburgh, Canter County, Pennsylvania on August 4, 1862. He was assigned to Company G, 148 Regiment in Bowlsbrug, Pa. Just two short months later, the young Hartley contracted diphtheria and spent 5 days in the regimental hospital. He returned to duty October 14, 1862, but based on Lieutenant Harpster's description, suffered the effects of his illness for his entire period of enlistment. Jackson was granted an honorable discharge in Alexandria, Pa on June 1, 1865 and had no further military employment.
After his discharge, Jackson ventured west and settled in Ohio in 1866. Sarah Ann Swalley fell in love with the 5ft 7in tall shoemaker with dark hair, black eyes, and a fair complexion. They were married on January 18, 1868 and in July of that same year, Sarah gave birth to their first child -- a daughter they named Joanna. Seven more children  followed in quick succession: Mary Catherine (November 26, 1870), Cora (July 23, 1872), William Henry (May 10, 1874), Mamie Alice (Sept. 19, 1876), Lettie Alice (Nov. 27, 1878), Charles Alton (June 19, 1881), and Effie Ione (August 13th, 1883).
In 1890, Jackson and Sarah moved to Nebraska. Seven years later, in 1897, they returned to Indiana where they would spend the rest of their lives. Sarah Ann passed away in 1900 in Wabash, Indiana. Her oldest daughter Cora and son William spoke of attending Sarah's funeral in an affidavit sent to the Bureau of Pensions in 1926.
Several years later, the widow Catherine Keller Rupe caught Jackson's eye and on June, 14, 1909, the couple were married in Warsaw, Kosciusko County, Indiana, by Rev. Beaton. In 1912, Jackson applied for his military pension. Two of his friends of more than a decade, James Showalter and W.G. Gardner,  attested to his identity and witnessed the signing of the application. In January of 1926, Catherine applied for Jackson's pension as his widow, so one can assume Jackson passed away sometime in late 1925. Despite the odds, he lived a full life for 85 years.
Catherine lived for another five years, passing away October 8, 1931.
That one document carries enough information to sketch an outline for an entire historical-fiction novel! Can't you just see how to fill in the blanks and show the way each of these events transpired? 

 Following old city directories and reading Sanborne fire insurance maps, I discovered that a couple of sets of great-grandparents not only knew each other well, but lived next door to each other. I found where they worked, where they worshipped, where they bought their groceries and even where they got drunk. 

The next lesson presents a giant hurdle for me. I have to call a couple of government agencies and locate records for members of my own family about whom I am writing. Calling people I don't know and having to ask them for something absolutely terrifies me. I would rather drive across the country, walk up to them in person, smile, shake their hand and start a conversation. But I can't get to Michigan right now. So phone, I must.

The final hurdle is organizing all the information and creating a beautiful story out of it. Actually, that sounds like a lot  more fun than making that phone call. Maybe I can pay one of my kids to make the call for me...or bribe my husband with chocolate chip cookies. Regardless, when all is said and done, not only will I have improved my writing skills, but I will have a written family history that would have otherwise been lost.

Maybe that phone call won't be so bad after all!


Aug 7, 2013

Lawn Gnomes and Other Terrors

By H. Linn Murphy
Our family has a love affair with lawn gnomes. Mostly it's because they terrorize my youngest son. I know. We're warped. We all take great pleasure in moving those little ceramic guys around so B. will think they've moved.

We've even thrown a rope loop around the neck of the most 'active' gnome and knotted it around B's window ledge. You should have seen his face when he saw it. For a long time that little chubby guy in the pointy red hat disappeared. I finally found it in our broken van wrapped up in an old shirt. B. was trying to make sure he didn't get out and make trouble.

I don't know what it is about those kitschy little things that tickles our fancy. It must be the loon in us. There's just something so fun about putting him in wacky situations. In fact, I think we'll do a family night where we take pictures with the gnome all over the city. B., of course, won't want to play. He thinks those things are creepy.

When you really think about it, lawn gnomes are utterly dorky.
Curious Bystander at your school reunion: So, what do you do for a living?
Mr. Crazyman: I make lawn gnomes.
C B: Blink. Blink. Blink. What?
Mr. C: I make completely useless statues of mythical characters for people to adorn their property. I used to be a rocket scientist. Now I am an award-winning plastic moldsman. I also make giant frogs and those little boy fountains with the continence problem.
C B: Clearly putting that high school education to work.
Mr. C: I know, right? Who knew all that Calculus would come in handy?

So now I'm thinking back to all the other weird stuff we have clogging up our abode and its environs. How about a rowboat with one broken oar? How about an ancient playhouse which is more termite trail than house? How about our useless-hulk-car collection? Check out our Christmas lights that haven't come off the house in three years. The girls cleaned their room once and stuck all their crud on the back porch under a tarp. That stuff is probably a foul nest of spiders and rattlesnakes now. Thanks, girls.

One of these days we need to call in those dudes from those house make-over shows. We're trying to refinance our house and I doubt the aforementioned goodies plus the peeling stucco and dry-rotted beams will add favorably to the ambiance. A lovely make-over could be what we need. Especially if we tell them we LOVE castles and have always wanted to live in one.

Clearly we'll need to hide all the lawn gnomes first.

Aug 5, 2013

First Day of School

By Stacy Johnson

Dear Diary,

The kids went back to school today. I was so excited for this day to come, I even planned a more delicious than normal Sunday dinner in anticipation of this day. The BBQ ribs, baked potatoes and green salad were a hit but the most delicious part of it was the watermelon, honeydew and canteloupe salad. We ate enough to satisfy an army, that fruit was so sweet and juicy; it was the perfect summer dinner.

When I awoke this morning earlier than my alarm clock, I was delighted to have a few minutes to myself. I answered some e-mails, paid some bills and gave each child already awake a huge hug. I woke up everyone else for scriptures and nobody fussed or argued. We discussed our chapter and had our morning prayer all together as a family for the first time in many years since we no longer have early morning seminary to contend with (waking at 5am for scriptures was just out of the question back then).

I snapped first day of school photos of the kids, got the babies dressed and ready for the day, worked on some of my booster club responsibilities, did some editing for a friend, had "preschool" with the babies, showered, took the missionaries to the library, ran an errand to WalMart and enjoyed lunch made by my fabulous daughter Marly the 18 year old while catching up on returning some phone calls.

I was so glad I got all of that done so I could sit down and blog right after lunch but then the large amount of fresh fruit came back to haunt the three year old who has been potty trained for 6 months...

Will write more next time I catch up on laundry.

Love, Stacy

Aug 3, 2013

Writing Is My Job

Cindy R. Williams

Writing IS a real job.

This statement doesn't seem to make sense to civilians --civilians being those who don't have the writing gene. Those that haven't been bitten by some kind of bug that contaminates brains and turns everyday normal people into alien beings known as writers.

I'm frustrated with others and myself about my writing.

Have you had any of the following things happen to you?

Sitting in my room at my small corner desk, flying on the back of one of my dragons, one of my almost grown children enters my room and says, "Mom, since your not doing anything, can you _____? (fill in the blank.)

How about this scenario: I'm in a writing frenzy. The words are flowing out in a most wonderful way . . . when the phone rings. Do I answer it? I'll just check the number to make sure it's not one of my kids or hubby. They could be in trouble. No, it's not one of their numbers. Oh, I better answer it. It could be important.


"Hi Cindy. Are you busy?"

"Um who is this?"

"It's Bonnie, silly girl."

"Uh . . . Bonnie who?" It amazes me when people don't identify themselves on the phone, aside from family and close friends.

"Bonnie _______." She sounds quite annoyed at this point and I think, how would I know your voice? I see you at Church, but I've only spoken to you once or twice on the phone in the past five years.

"Oh hi. Yes, I'm busy trying to finish a scene I'm writing." I take a stab at showing myself and my writing some respect.

"Oh, that's nice. Listen, I'm at work. I know you don't work and since you're home, I need you to run over to my house and get the key to the Church from under my front mat and return it to the RS President. I forgot to do it and she may need it."

Thoughts run through my mind like, can't you return it after work tonight? Can't you call the RS President and let her know the key is under your mat if she needs it today? I'm happy to help others, but this doesn't sound like an emergency that has to be done right this minute so I answer, "Sure, I would be happy to after I finish this scene." At least I'm trying to act like a real writer and balance helping others.

"On no. I want you to do it now. That way she won't be inconvenienced. She's awfully busy you know."

At this point, I give up. I don't have the back bone to assert that I am also busy, that "writing" IS my work, and that I will be "off work" in an hour and would be more than happy to take care of it then.

A writing teacher once cautioned me to treat writing like a job. Set my hours and stick to it. If I worked in an office for a boss, I certainly wouldn't cheat on my hours, take personal calls, surf the internet, change the wash, vacuum, weed, do the dishes, re-arrange the furniture or any number of things that I'm temped to do as I write. She suggested that it's important to have enough discipline and respect for myself to treat my writing like a professional. If I believe in myself, others will follow.

I read Stephen Kings book on writing. He goes to his desk early in the morning to work on his WIP, then eats lunch, often takes a short nap, then edits and does other things related to writing until around 5 PM. He works at his writing everyday. It's his job.

Now as I write this, I realize, shame on me. Writing is IMPORTANT and I have not acted like a professional.

10 notes to self:
1. It is up to me set my writing hours and be disciplined.
2. I need to take control of those things I can and not get worked up by the things I can't so that I don't become bitter.
3. It is up to me to explain to my family what writing means to me. To let them know I need two hours a day for my writing which means I'm there for them 22/7. Unless they have broken an arm or sprouted tentacles, please don't disturb me during my writing time. Then STICK to this myself. It will probably take a few times of asking them to wait until my writing time is over, but they will soon realize I am serious about my writing.
4. Go the to library or even Starbucks for my two hour write time. (By the way, Starbucks has a divine vanilla bean, , zero coffee, zero caffeine, frappuccino.)
5. Ask family and friends not to call during writing time.
6. Then stop answering the phone during writing time.
7. Choose to not check emails during writing time.
8. Choose to leave house and yard work alone for those two hours.
9. Focus on my writing and be my own best boss and work hard for two hours.
10. Take a break on Sunday's.

I'll let you know in a couple of weeks how it's going, that is after my two hours a day writing is done.

Aug 2, 2013


bruno mars 2

By Beckie Carlson

I took my daughter to a concert last night. It was not her first, darn her grandmother..... She took her to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra last fall. That was cool...I guess, but this was real rock and roll last night!
Okay, maybe it wasn't Rock and Roll in the Rolling Stone or Aerosmith way of thinking, but it was a big deal. We saw Bruno Mars. Many of you may know who that is. I am a bit embarrassed to say I didn't really know until last night. I mean, I had heard his name, heard his music, possibly even seen his picture, but I had never put all those clues together.
I remember when I was a teenager, I 'KNEW' my bands. I knew all their songs, all their lyrics, and every dimple on their shaggy headed faces. Okay, maybe I wasn't that obsessed as a teenager, but I did have my closet doors plastered with teen 'rock star' pictures for a time. Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Depeche Mode....yeah, I was a teen in the 80's. Good times. Good memories. Good songs. I don't remember having to sensor the lyrics of my favorite songs before I let my mom listen to them. Heck, I didn't know what half the songs were even about back then. The 80's was a time of confusion in a lot of ways. Did those song writers even know what they were talking about? Or were they all high on glue and white out fumes? One has to wonder....
Last night, I felt like I touched the sky at the concert. I was really high. Before you think I started smoking funny things, let me explain a bit. My daughter's friend had the idea of going to this concert as a mommy-daughter kind of date. They picked the seats and we paid our share. I had never been to a concert at this arena so, I didn't have a clue what I was seeing when I clicked on those tiny little circles on the 'map.' The good news is we were able to get away from the massive crowds and find our seats in peace. The 'bad' news was that our seats were on the second to highest row in the arena. I don't know exactly how many rows of seats there were, but I'm thinking it was close to 80,000. Yes, I would bet our row was somewhere around 78-79,000. It was in the 20 floor for sure. My nose started to bleed as we made our way up the last flight of stairs before we reached our floor. By the time we reached our seats, I was being hefted over the back of a bouncer. They had to strap us into our seats to keep us from falling to our deaths. We signed a waiver naming the stage crew as our next of kin and left our car keys in a bowl at the end of the row.
Okay none of that really happened, but it felt like it should have. I seriously felt like I was going to burst into a storm cloud. I was smashed between feeling the vastness of the fall below me and the crushing of the ceiling only a few feet above my head. It was a crazy feeling
The music was pretty good. I decided I liked Elli Goulding pretty well and that Mr. Mars had a slightly less extreme Prince complex in regards to his male-ness. They walked the line with a few of the songs, but I can't help but enjoy watching musicians have a great time on stage. They were dressed classy, smiling, laughing, dancing like pros, and really good at what they did.
The people that go to concerts are interesting. There were all types there last night. People with shaved heads, mohawks, bowler hats, and Dechanel bangs. There were old people,  kids, teenagers, and the ageless people that annoy us all. Some people dressed up with their sequins and feathers, while others had they pajamas on minus the bunny feet.  I guess that is the thing about music. We all enjoy it our own way.
I especially enjoyed seeing the myriad of shoes on the women. Now I know where to wear all those amazing prop shoes I see! They are way too uncomfortable and high to actually walk any distance in, but they are apparently perfect for sitting in a rock concert. I think I need to go shopping. I am going to a Train concert next week...I need my prop shoes! Cause I said so!