Sep 28, 2013

Make Pudding With Puzzle Pieces

By Cindy R. Williams

I get a kick out of "talk radio." While driving the other day to play the piano for the baptism of a dear little 8 year-old friend, I heard a boxer talk about his upcoming bout. He mixed two different analogies, but it made total sense. While in the Church, I pondered what he said. I realized it totally works for writing.

Let me paraphrase the interview with the boxer.

Talk Host:  Usually you have at least three months to prepare for a bout. This one, you only have 30 days. What are you going to do?

Boxer:  I have been boxing for a long time. I'm in good shape and ready. 

Talk Host:  Yes, but how will you train specifically for this bout. You don't really have the time to hone your skills to take advantage of your opponent. 

Boxer:  Yes, each opponent has different strengths, and it does help to prepare for each fight, but, no worries. The things I do well are like puzzle pieces. I take all the things I know how to do and then I make a pudding out of them. I have a good pudding. I will be ready. 

Hummmmm . . . . the boxer takes his best skills and makes the best pudding that he can. Can't we do this with our writing. We may not know everything about grammar and writing, but we each have some writing skills and strengths. These are our ingredients/puzzle pieces.

How about if we don't worry that we aren't as great a writer as ____ or ____. Let's not think, "Surely this or that agent or publisher wouldn't want my meager story."

How about if we take all that we know and do and then make our best pudding? How about if we take the leap and believe in ourselves enough to submit our puddings?

If not now . . . when?

I love a good pudding. I can do this. Can you? Will you?

Sep 27, 2013

Un Veiled

By Beckie Carlson
three dogs

I've seen a lot of comic-strips and humorous books that make fun of women. Or rather, they make fun of men who are trying to understand women. These books or movies or what have you imply that women are just too complicated to be understood. It almost seems like there is some underhanded man mojo agenda at work here to give men an excuse not to try. Think about it. Every woman knows that men (in general) purposely do things wrong so they won't be asked to do them again. I think I read an article back in the nineties that said 70% of men actually admitted to that being the case for them. That was back in the nineties so I am sure with all the technology and brain growth the world has experienced...the percentage has gone up. Guys are sneaky...But, today I am here to burst your bubble. I'm gonna tell you our secret.
Yes, women, we have a secret. I know many of you are probably thinking frantically to yourself..."what is my secret??" That's because our secret is SO secret, we don't even know what it is. We are the Queens of keeping things hidden from everyone, even ourselves. I myself have a virtual warehouse full of things in my head that I completely ignore the existence of. It's a gift that comes with girl parts. We can't explain it, nor do we want to.
Anyway, back to our secret. Men are always wondering what women want. Mel Gibson thought he had it figured out but, he's a weirdo. Some men may think it is jewelry or candy (seriously?!), or flowers, or sappy poems. Yes, these things are all nice and I will gladly take them all, (minus the candy cuz I'm on a diet....), but those things really aren't the point.
As far as I can figure it out, this is what we women want.
We want a man that takes care of himself as much as we take care of ourselves, without being a vain jerk. (why would we want a sloppy Jo?)
We want a man that is big and strong, without being in love with his own body. (or having boobs bigger than ours)
We want a man that will laugh at our jokes but NEVER at us. (so not cool...)
We want a man that is smart and educated but simple enough to let us tell him how things work.
In a nutshell, we want a man that makes us feel like we are the queen of Sheeba while still looking like a prince themselves.
Tell us we look nice, compliment our hair and make up and nails and all, but don't show up in your cutoffs and a dirty shirt. Put some effort into it guys. Would you want us to look like we just rolled off the back of a prize pig? If you do....there are certain women out there for you. I just don't know them.
It comes down to giving what you want back. If you want someone that looks good and acts like a civilized person, do the same for them.
(This post was inspired by my friend that is on a single's website and is always getting hit on by guys that look like they are sons of their cousins mothers' brothers. If you know what I mean. Bearded hobbits that have grass in their teeth and all that. It isn't attractive. Take a shower.)
Cause I said so.
Photo credit:

Sep 26, 2013

Twin Living

By Susan Knight

Sometimes I like to have a good cry. If a movie really touches me, I want to let loose and sob, really make a lot of noise so my throat doesn't hurt by keeping it in. I don’t want to hold back. But I have to, because I live in a twin house and my kids live in the basement.

I’d love to be able to play my folky, oldies music at a high decibel level and sing while I’m cleaning. I want to prance and dance, flail my arms around, and turn the music up even louder. But I’d disturb a lot of people, because I live in a twin house and my kids live in the basement.

I’d love to sing in the shower at the top of my lungs, off-key or on, but it would be wrong to do, because I live in a twin house and my kids live in the basement.

I’d like to play the piano with gusto and pound nails in the walls to hang up my pictures and decorations—all late at night, as my circadian rhythm dictates. But, alas, it’s only a dream I have, because I live in a twin house and my kids live in the basement.

Sometimes, at night, I panic if I hear noises outside, but I don't have sleepless nights about it. I know if something happens people will be right on the scene with me to quell my fears. There is a lot of comfort in “living close.”

I love my house. It is the right size for me. It’s not too big and not too small. Though the walls and floors be thin, I know I’m blessed, and there are good neighbors and family I can count on if I’m in distress.

One day, if the kids are away, and the red truck is not in the driveway next door, I might do all these things I long to do. Right now I’ll just count my blessings and be glad I live in a twin house and my kids live in the basement.

Sep 25, 2013

Time is of the essence...

by Bunny Miner

If you've ever had a a deadline, these words have probably rattled around in your head as that deadline looms larger each day.  As the deadline grows closer, everything takes on a more urgent meaning and all the pressure can lead to the dreaded WRITER's BLOCK.  So, how does one avoid the pressure of deadlines when they are unavoidable?

Well, the simple answer is don't procrastinate and plan out your schedule.  Often times this is easier said than done.  It's amazing how many 'emergencies' pop up when you have a deadline.  I think a lot of that has to do with avoidance because it's easier to blame the 'emergency' for not getting what you need to done. (or I like to think this happens to people other than myself...)

Having a plan and a schedule, though, is really a necessity weather you have a deadline or not.  The old adage of how you eat an elephant is one bite at a time is true for writing and all projects.  Some may worry that if you 'force' yourself to write, you won't be creative but I submit if you wait for your muse, you'll never get your project finished!

Some examples of eating the elephant include picking a specific time to write everyday.  Set aside, say an hour every day.  That is your writing time.  Nothing else can happen during that time except your writing.  An hour may not be enough for your project or it may not be something you can't fit into your schedule because of little ones but whatever the amount of time you have, commit to it and do it every day.  Okay, you can take Sundays off ;)

Another possible way to eat the elephant is to have a specific word count or page count that you require yourself to met everyday.  Again, the time required to do this cannot be sacrificed for anything, it has to be your priority.  That means turning off your cell phone, unplugging from the internet, ignoring the house work (I'm always looking for an excuse to do that!) and doing nothing but your writing.  If it coms to your normal bed time and you haven't reached your designated goal for the day, guess what?  You're not going to bed until it's done!

I can hear the whining.  "But I'm too tired to write.  I have to get up early.  Blah, blah, blah"  Well guess what, you will learn your lesson and plan to do your writing earlier!  Even if what you write is crap.  It'll be better than not writing (this article may be a case in point...)

Finally, you can't do this alone.  I know we think we can do everything by ourselves but we tend to lie to ourselves...You need an accountability partner.  Not your best friend who wants you to go shopping anyway, but someone who'll hold your feet to the flame and, well, keep you accountable.  Look for someone in your critique group or someone who knows how badly you want to reach your goal and will do whatever it takes to help you reach it.

I'm sure there are other ways to meet deadlines and organize your writing life but alas, I procrastinated and even though time was of the essence with this article/blog, I missed my deadline...Sorry Marsha!

Happy writing!

Sep 24, 2013

The Eldest Daugher in the Prodigal Son?

by Terri Wagner

I hesitated to run this post with the seriousness of the other posts. I don't want to take away from the need to fast for sick friends, to guardian watch your children's education, and to bring us to remembrance of how the small things we do make a difference.

This post is about me feeling like the eldest in the famous prodigal son story. I always related to that son. Without going into great detail, let's just say that recently I discovered a certain sense of self righteousness and I never knew I had. I was the kid that "had" little and wanted it that way. However, faced with a decision to share with the less selfless, I found myself unwilling. Feelings I never expected to have surfaced. And I felt totally justified. Not so much as time has gone on.

Now I'm faced with a decision I never thought I'd have to make. And not feeling very well about having to make it. Do I lean toward the eldest son or the father?

Right now I'm asking the same question albeit in a different way. At what point do you stop giving? Is there such a point? Sibling to Sibling that is.

Sep 23, 2013

Having The Time of My Life

By Claire Enos

If there is one thing I have learned, and learned well, from this summer, it's the following:
“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.” -Thomas S. Monson
I have a lot of fond memories from this past summer. I also have a few memories I could have done without. But, throughout it all, I noticed one thing: If I focused on what was going on at that moment, rather than worrying about what happened in the past, or what my life was going to end up being in the future I was a lot less likely to allow myself to fall into a state of depression. When I focused on what was going on at any given moment, I was usually fine (relatively).

I think sometimes we rely on ourselves too much, and take for granted our friends and family who love us no matter what we do. We try to control things we have no right to control. It is in these times that I need to tell myself to let go and let life run its course. My life won't get better if I don't control what I can control and allow the rest to fall into place on its own.

With that, I leave with you this thought: Sometimes the best policy in life is to just let go and allow things to happen the way God wants them to happen, because no matter how hard we fight it, what He allows to happen will happen and in the end what He has chosen for us is probably better than what we have planned for ourselves.

Keep working hard at what you want, and pray a lot, and maybe what you want for yourself will be exactly what God has in store for you. Or perhaps what He has in store for you is better than anything you could have imagined for yourself!

We are all children of our God and King. We are destined for Greatness.


PS: I am back at my beloved school! I am having so much fun! Just had to share! And thank you Kari for always finding something nice to say about my blog posts! You're awesome!

Sep 21, 2013

Anonymous Gifts of Kindness

By Christy Monson

My husband and I are part of a group that has been called to work at the local hospital in Pastoral Care. Every Sunday we help provide a short Sacrament Meeting for staff and patients and then visit the rooms. The Priesthood takes the Sacrament to all those who can't come to Sacrament Meeting, and the sisters visit the women as members of the Relief Society.
It is a wonderful experience to glance briefly into the lives of these people in crises. There are stories of caring and kindness associated with each visit we make.

In one room, we found an elderly widow who had fallen and broken her hip. When she fell, her little dog ran next door to get the widow's best friend and brought her hurrying to help. The friend got her to the emergency room and sat day after day by the hospital bed to cheer and bless the life of the elderly widow. Very few will ever know about that gift of love.

In another bed, a young African girl, here on a Study Abroad program, had sickle cell anemia. Her family back home prayed for her, but they were too poor to come to her. A college professor helped the girl arrange her classes and found her a place to live while she was ill. The girl and her family were so grateful. Very few will ever know of the professor's actions.

In an isolated part of the hospital, we found a woman whose immune system had been compromised. She was in danger of contracting an infection. Her husband of fifty years sat by  her bed day and night. Only friends and family know of his goodness.

The service rendered was not given for the praise of men, nor to gain power. It was given out of the pure love of Christ.
Elder Richard G. Scott has said, "When we serve [God's] children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God--power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, and our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord."(May Ensign, 30)
 What a beautiful promise for all of us who serve. I always want to be better than I am. I would love to have my talents and abilities expanded.
We all serve daily, and we need not look for noticeable moments of service, like helping with a funeral luncheon, organizing a youth temple trip, or setting up a ward activity. Observe the small instances in your life--the many hours of caring you give to your husband, children, extended family, and friends.
Every time you pray with a child, tie his shoes, or wash his grubby hands, you are giving comfort. 

Now I know that fixing macaroni and cheese doesn't seem like a gift of charity. It's one of those anonymous favors that no one ever thinks about.
The many hours of unremarkable service we give make us who we are--help us become more than we can be on our own.
Notice the unnoticed this week. You'll find you are already better than your best.

Sep 20, 2013

"For All Intensive Purposes"

by Marsha Ward

I came across a misused English language phrase that had me figuratively rolling on the floor with laughter, so I didn't even have to worry about the Curmudgeon escaping to write about it. I could handle this one myself.

A letter was sent by a corporation to someone who had suggested fixes to an error-laden roll-out of an "improved version" of a mega-huge service used by millions of disappointed people across the globe.

The letter stated that the old service was broken, for all intensive purposes, which necessitated the new version (even though it was not working correctly in many areas, nor was functioning for many people, due to software usage that wasn't compatible for visually impaired persons, and the like). They refused to beta test it, you see, claiming it wouldn't be "new" if folks saw it beforehand.

While the letter writer was right that the old system had been cobbled together from various other services purchased over the years, and a re-do was several years overdue, the phrase that set me off, howling with laughter, was "for all intensive purposes."

Oh my gosh! That is a rare one. Hoo ha! Ha ha ha ha ha! "For all intensive purposes". Ho ho, ha, ha, hahahahahahahahahaha! HA! Hahaha!

[pausing to wipe eyes and attempt to get control of self]

Hee-hee, um, ho-ho, hahahahahaha!

"For all intents and purposes."

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh my gosh. Don't send out a corporate letter to hundreds of people, maybe millions, if you don't use the language correctly. Ha ha ha ha ha!

Sep 19, 2013

A Testimony of the Power of Prayer

by Kari Diane Pike

When I noticed that there was already a post for today, I figured I was off the hook. I've been in Tucson all week helping a daughter with her busy family while she recovers from the birth of her sixth child. I forget just how physically demanding it is to be the mother of young children. I looked forward to getting to bed early tonight after a busy day of laundry, dishes, cooking, wiping noses and behinds, walking kids to the bus, walking kids home from the bus, distracting toddlers from destroying an older sibling's homework, cooking, wiping more noses, playing at the park, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, family scriptures and prayers, and finally getting everyone tucked into bed. Thank goodness all the hugs and kisses and "I wuv you's" inspire more energy than a bottle of Red Bull!

But something happened last week that has me reflecting on life challenges and how grateful I am for knowing who I am, why I am here and that everything I experience has a purpose. I mentioned four weeks ago that I have a close friend who is battling acute myelogenous leukemia. I was with this friend when she got the diagnosis. I could tell the situation was serious by the look on the doctor's face and the tone of his voice as he said, "Good luck" when we headed out of his office. Last week, "Sarah" developed a complication that became an immediate threat to her life. While the medical professionals worked out a plan and procedure to help her, I packed up my computer and prepared to camp out in Sarah's room. The one thing I could do to help her was to go fasting and praying. This was definitely in the Lord's hands now. When I arrived, Sarah seemed a little more calm. She told me that her doctor had knelt by her bed and said a prayer, asking God to help him know how to fix the problem so that she could get better and go back home and be a grandma to her little granddaughters. She said it helped her feel more comfortable.

A few hours later, Sarah told me I should go get some lunch. I told her I was fine. I was working on my research paper and I didn't want to leave her alone. She wouldn't take no for an answer. I finally explained the concept of fasting and prayer. She said, "You would do that, just for me?" as if she was saying she wasn't worth the effort.

Fast forward through a long day of waiting -- the procedure went "perfectly." The doctor said it couldn't have gone any better. We laughed and I did the happy dance as I walked beside Sarah's gurney on the trip from recovery back to Sarah's room. She was still loopy from the anesthesia, which made us laugh all the more. Sarah sat up on the gurney to move over to her bed. Her silence caught my attention first. Then the look of utter despair on her face lead me to look at the pillow beneath her hand. Not five minutes earlier, that pillow was clean. Now, it was covered with Sarah's beautiful ebony hair. Sarah avoided my gaze. She kept touching the pillow and then reaching up and running her fingers through her hair and watching hundreds of strands stick to her fingers. She reached out and watched the hair float to the floor.Tears rolled down her cheeks. I said, "I'm sorry." She looked at me finally, and said, "I don't want to talk about it. I just want to get some sleep."

After I left the room and drove home, the look on Sarah's face haunted me all night. When my cell phone showed her calling me early the next morning, I braced myself. I prayed I would know the right things to say to help bring her comfort and peace of mind. When I said hello, Sarah surprised me with an energetic,"Good morning, Sunshine! I had to call and tell you I feel soooo much better! And I have to tell you about the break through I had in the mirror."

"You broke the mirror?"

"Ha ha! No! I had a break through. I was looking in the mirror and then the weirdest thing happened. It felt so weird...but it was a good weird. And then in the mirror, all I could see was the doctor kneeling by my bed and praying for me and I remembered the strange feeling in the room all day while you were here and how it was a good weird feeling. Did I say I felt weird? But I remembered how it felt good, too, and all of a sudden I really felt for the first time in my entire life -- something I have never, ever felt before -- and that is that God really did put me here for a reason. He put me here for something and even if that reason is to just be a grandma to my granddaughters, then that is worth fighting for. I am going to kick cancer's butt and get out of here. God put me here for a reason. I have never known that at any time in my life before.I feel the strength to keep fighting - and that I have a reason to fight."

A few week's ago, I complained a bit about how I'm all for lifelong learning, but that there are things I wished I didn't have to know -- like what it means when the doctor tells your friend she has A.M.L. Now, while I would rather these kinds of things didn't happen, I have a renewed gratitude for many things I now realize I have been taking for granted -- like knowing that God put me on this earth for a purpose; that I am a daughter of a Heavenly Father who knows me, individually, and loves me and wants me to return to Him someday. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He suffered, bled and died for me. I also know that He was resurrected and lives again and that He paved the way for all mankind to do the same. I know that I am part of an eternal family unit and that I am never alone in my trials. The Holy Spirit guides and protects me and angels watch over me. I have more gratitude for the power of prayer and knowing that Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers. Along with more gratitude, my prayers have become more meaningful and more fervent. And I know that because of the Atonement of Christ, no matter what happens, everything will be okay.

Sep 18, 2013

R is for Raunchy, Rotten, Repulsive, and wRong

by H. Linn Murphy

I realize I'm a day late and a dollar short, but hopefully this will be worth the time.[Edited to adjust appearance date]

Recently I went up against my son's history teacher because she insists on showing R-rated movies. So after her intransigence on the subject, I decide my son would benefit by a sane teacher and switched him.

This morning my son brought me a new syllabus to sign. On it was a list of movies this new history teacher insists on showing. They were the same movies. Shindler's List, The Patriot, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, and a slew of others. I politely asked that the teacher desist from showing my son R-rated movies and please provide alternative assignments. I don't care if my kid has to write fifteen page papers.

So I want to ask, "What the crud?" Why do these people who already hog most of my son's waking hours think it's fine to fill my son's head with vicious garbage?

Why? Because not enough parents are standing up and yelling "Stop!"

"These movies," they contend, "are cross sections of the times. They provide a vivid account of the happenings of the day."
I say "Wrong!" These movies are full of violence, sex, bad language, and hideousness for a reason. Hollywood wants to titillate audiences into spending their $12 for a movie ticket. They add salaciousness to the mix for the express purpose of selling movies.

Such trash has no business being pushed in a school setting. Teens are already trying desperately to find what is real and what is fiction. At that age, it is often difficult to navigate through the shoals. If we send them to school to see these movies, we are agreeing that what their teachers are providing is the truth, real, and unvarnished.

We are telling our sons and daughters that it is alright by us if they solve their problems the same way as the fictional character in the movie. Only kids don't see them as fictional. Movies are so real-looking that the lines are completely blurred. We should give our kids the means to know that what they are seeing may not be how it really is/was. We need to equip them with a knowledge of how to get to the truth and dig beneath the slimy coating.

I include a huge cross section of today's books in this mash-up. Books can be every bit as vivid as a movie.

I recently read an article taken from a speech given by Meghan Cox Gurdon. She is a children's book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal since 2005 and has also appeared in several other prestigious publications. She was verbally flayed for writing " the four decades since Young Adult became a distinct category in fiction, (it has) become increasingly lurid, grotesque, profane, sexual, and ugly."  Several hundred people complained that she was advocating a return to book-burning. She suffered a hailstorm of complaint tweets. Don't even get me started on the duality of the detractors' mindsets on the second amendment.

But it's true. Some of the most popular books for Young Adults today feature rape, drug usage, self-inflicted violence, teen pregnancy, mucky language, and/or gore. Hunger Games featured children being forced to kill each other for the salacious viewing of the rest of society. Scars is about a cutter whose father hopes she'll cut herself to death. Fifty Shades of Gray features S&M. I'd go on with loads of other titles, but I'd rather not tout the rawness of these negative books.

How can we bring well-adjusted children to adulthood complete with coping mechanisms when they have no examples to follow? Where are the real heroes for them to follow? Why do teachers go straight to the gore and bypass those who have worked tirelessly to do what is right?

Later Ms. Gurdon goes on to quote Emily Bazelon's book about bullying: "When kids understand that cruelty isn't the norm, they're less likely to be cruel themselves."

That's an interesting statement. At my son's school, there are sometimes nine (9) fights a day! Perhaps it is because their teachers insist on filling their waking hours with horror, bloodshed, and mayhem instead of teaching them the real lessons history has for them. I can only think that the truth is not their intent.

Children learn history so that they won't make the mistakes of those who went before. To learn those lessons, they don't have to have the vision of full frontal nudity crammed into their eyes. They don't have to hear the heart-wrenching shrieks of people being tortured to death. What we're doing to our kids is akin to clamping them to a chair with arms and legs bound and toothpicks in their eyelids so they must see every detail of brutality and ugliness.

We need teachers to teach a child how to lift himself out of the mire instead of wallowing in it. Where are the teachers who can illuminate in such a way as to catch a child's imagination and spur them on to transcending the laziness and apathy of their childhood? We need them to pair up with the parents to give children coping skills for the violence they already witness around them, not add more. We've got to fill our offspring so full of beauty and light that they can't help but look up. I know this can happen, because the other side is winning by being captivating, challenging, and fun. It can be done.

It is possible to spark a child's interest in history. We just have to do it so that the students know it's real and truthful and poignant. A great teacher brings those people to life. We have to care about bringing up intelligent, well-adjusted children. If a person simply wants a paycheck for babysitting, they should try an after-school job. Or better yet, get a job as a dock worker.

I suggest you read or listen to the rest of Ms. Gurdon's speech. It's well-thought out and eye-opening.

We need torch-bearers, not torch slingers.

Sep 17, 2013

Do Not Be Discouraged

"Do not allow yourselves to be made to feel inadequate or frustrated because you cannot do everything others seem to be accomplishing. Only you and your Father in Heaven know your needs, strengths, and desires. Around this knowledge your personal course must be charted and your choices made."
~Marvin. J. Ashton
This simple quote, really struck home to me today. In our busy world, I find it so easy to feel inadequate. There are so many things that need my attention. There are so many good things worth doing. Somehow, I don't have the time or the energy to keep up. This includes the moments that I need and want to spend writing. In my life, I have discovered that my choices are not so much between good and bad, rather they are between good and good. Like Mary and Martha, I am constantly struggling to choose the good part, the best part, the part that my Heavenly Father would have me choose.

Thank goodness that facts and the truth can be vastly different realities. While the facts of life may be saying you're too short, too heavy, too far in debt, your house is too small and your kids don't even like you, the truth is our adequacy, worth and value are never, ever, never determined by anything external.

I challenge you to tear down the lies that say you aren't good enough, smart enough or gifted enough to do what your Heavenly Father is asking you to do. He knows who you are, and what you are capable of. No matter what the world appears to be saying of you or no matter what your situation appears to be, remember that you are a child of God and He loves you. 

Sep 16, 2013

I Blinked

By Stacy Johnson

I remember writing my very first Christmas card and enclosing a picture of just the three of us and I stated "Only 18 more years till he leaves on his mission." If I looked hard enough in my boxes of old photos and memories I'm sure I can find it.

I'm sure it is there underneath elementary school report cards and Mother's Day gifts made in art class. I am sifting through photos of our family as it grew from three to four, to five, then all the way to eight. When he got baptized he didn't want to wear church clothes for his picture so he's wearing navy shorts and a white t-shirt and desperately needed a haircut, in spite of that he was such a cute little boy. There must be two dozen photos of Little League baseball and Pop Warner football teams he was on, he sure enjoyed playing sports. Oh look! There is his certificate of ordination to the office of deacon, teacher and then priest along with his completion of the Duty to God program. I remember prodding him along every free chance he had to get that done. There's a cutout from the local newspaper when they reported  his cross country team winning the state championship and then later, the track team did the same thing. I remember sitting in the athletic director's office when he signed his letter of intent to run on a cross country scholarship when he graduated.

Just the other day I found his class ring in my jewelry box along with my "Eagle Mother" pin he gave me when he finally finished that procrastinated eagle project. He must have put a few things in there for safe keeping because I found his Quiznos name badge from his very first job after high school.

My Mondays have been spent in anticipation of my weekly briefing on the work and a picture or two. He has grown and changed in ways I couldn't even imagine. He left my teenage boy and is coming home a man.

Every time I open the computer, my home screen is his beautiful face as if he is reaching out to hug me. In my mind I can feel it even now as his arms close in on mine in the most dramatic of homecomings I can imagine. I've shopped for waterproof mascara because I can already tell you the tears are building as I write this.

Pardon my dramatics and cliches but he will be home in ten days and it's about all I can think about right now.

Sep 14, 2013

The Tortoise and the Hare

by Cindy R. Williams

We are cautioned to not run faster than is needful.

The story of the Tortoise and the Hare fit my husband and I. He is the even keeled tortoise, accomplishing things a good steady pace. Willing to set aside his work and rest when needed.

I am the frantic hare running as fast as I can to fit in a million things I have scheduled then finally after a few weeks crashing with exhaustion or illness.

The other night I was counseling with the wise tortoise admitting that I am overwhelmed and feeling a burn out coming on.  He looked at me a moment thinking, then with a twinkle in his eye he said . . .

"You can't efficient yourself out of overwhelmness."   (Sure overwhelmness isn't a word, but it sure works here.)

He added one more important point, "You are doing too much and need to let some things go."

I also received counsel that it is okay to take a few minutes to ponder things before saying "yes" to a new commitment and sometimes the right answer is "No."

And just like that, the Tortoise revealed the big secret of sanity.

Sep 12, 2013

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Susan Knight
It seems like, when you’re a mom with small kids, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s dark, lonely, hard, exhausting.
Raising young children is physically grueling. There’s the lifting—into the high chair, the car seat, the crib, our laps . . . then there’s the sleep deprivation.
Coming up with activities for short attention spans uses a lot of brain cells, and sometimes reading that same book for the millionth time takes every ounce of patience—and overworks our own attention spans.
Temper tantrums, crying tantrums, pouting, whining, tattling. . . the worry during illnesses, diaper rash, and poison control calls.
Many a night is spent on our knees pouring out our aching hearts to H.F.
Did I do that right?
Was I too strict? Too lenient?
Am I a good mom?
Are You listening?
Older mothers who know tell us raising babies and running ragged chasing toddlers around the house was the best time of their lives.
I scoff. . .
A pen light glimmers far away at the end of the tunnel as first steps and first words take our breath away. Our hearts soar.
Finally, potty training is a success. . . . a little flicker of light, as from a match, appears. It’s something.
Kindergarten registration causes our knees to buckle and we look for the nearest landing pad. Tears flow.
Homemade Mother’s Day cards, fingerprint mementos, and pressed weeds adorn walls and fill dresser drawers and scrapbooks.
How does a mom’s mind grasp the idea of not volunteering at elementary school anymore when the youngest moves on? A flashlight in the distance guides us. We warily follow.
Piano lessons, karate lessons, ballet lessons, band practice, soccer practice, musical rehearsals, football games, competitions—all put endless miles on the car, and may create a little time for reading and writing of our own. The light at the tunnel’s end appears larger, shining like a beacon from a lighthouse, beckoning, warning, cajoling. We want to go there, but . . . it's a little scary, yet enticing.
High school graduations dot the calendar for a number of years, followed by missions, college graduations, weddings . . .
It’s so overly bright as we walk out of the tunnel. We shield our eyes from our new identity and this vivid, new world we find ourselves in. It's exciting . . . but still . . .
Now that I am one of those mothers who know, I tell my younger counterparts, “I’d give anything to be in that tunnel again.”

Sep 10, 2013

From PCs to MACs

by Terri Wagner

I never cared too much for electronic wars. My first computer was a PC, and that was that! I knew other people had something called Apple, and I knew that Apple people were a lot more loyal to their computer. But who cared. As long as you were comfortable with what you had, your e-life should have sailed along smoothly.

Then I got a job using a Mac Air. No hard can it be, right? I cannot believe how different they are in operation. And this is not a dissertation on which is better, because I am not geek enough to know. What this is is a dissertation on how hard it is to switch back and forth. Just a little thing like where's the backspace button on a MAC? It's right there on the keyboard with the PC. I had to google to find out how it works. Little button called the fn has to be held down and the delete button. It's ok, I'm getting used to it.

Another small change that took some getting used to: it's Command, not Control. You'd be amazed how habitual we can be and especially with our electronics. At our small branch, we sometimes have to use CDs in Relief Society for music. We only have two pianists, and they usually not in RS. I got used to the old one, someone kind bought a new one...I'm searching frantically five minutes before schedule to figure out how to work the new one. Gave up! We've been singing A cappella for the past few Sundays. Truth tell, we are pretty good, and our Spanish sisters singing in Spanish make us sound like an international choir. But yes I know I have to sit down early Sunday and figure it out.

Don't even get me started on the difference between trackpad and mouse. It took me several google tries to find out how to personalize my trackpad. Frankly, I prefer the mouse, but feel in the interest of my job I should figure out how to use the trackpad. My spelling which was never that great is worse now. I end up googling instead of spellcheck because I can't figure how spellcheck works on a MAC yet.

When I get home and fire up my dinosaur, I breathe a sigh of relief. I hope it never gives up the ghost. I guess I'm just not that into the next best thing. Oh, and one thing more, my new BFF is google, seconded by youtube!

Sep 9, 2013

The Life Journey

By Claire Enos

As an English major, I have to study a lot of different stories and figure out the journey that the characters go through. I have to analyze everything that happens and then write essays on the topic. A lot of this I complain about, because it's so much work, but in reality I love that aspect of my major. I love analyzing characters and their actions and the parts of a story. I love everything about my major. In the course of my years as an English major I have noticed one thing: each trial a character goes through leads them to another and another, which leads to the end of the story.

Imagine that each of us has trials, and each of these trials lead to more, as well as gifts and talents, our personalities, everything that makes each of us, us. Thought of that way, how can we ever hope our lives could be different? If we didn't have everything, good and bad, that has happened to us how could we be who we are now?

I am proud of who I am, and I have just now begun to let that idea sink into my being. So, with that thought, I will continue to change, develop, into the woman I can become with God's help. I am slowly working toward my divine destiny, and I pray that all of you do as well. Whether you are young or old, everyone is learning something. Why else would we be down here?


Sep 7, 2013

A Time of Revelation

There is a space beteen sleep and wake where I feel new, fresh, and open to the Spirit. It is that magical hour in the morning before I'm fully awake. My mind isn't racing over thoughts for the new day yet. It's perfectly clean and free from clutter--able to accept thoughts the Spirit will give me. It's a great time to listen. It's wonderful time for prayer and reflection.

One morning during that time of reflection, the Spirit whispered to me that I needed to check on my neighbor. I'm her visiting teacher and had already seen her for the month, but I knew I needed to go back. Later in the morning when I got to her house, I found her still in bed with a throbbing headache. Her blood pressure medication wasn't working. I was grateful for the prompting.

During those early morning hours, revelation comes to me in several ways, the same way the Lord talked with the Brother of Jared. (Ether2)
1.         Sometimes He tells me what to do like He did with my sweet neighbor. (Ether 2:20)
2.         On other occasions, He asks me how I will solve my problem. Then He guides me through the process. (Ether 2:23) This happens often when I'm preparing a lesson, a blog post, or a writing project. As I begin work, the Spirit is front and center, helping me.
3.         There have been times I just have to trust in God that He'll care for me. Once in my darkest hour, I had no idea what to do. All I could focus on was getting from one day to the next with no thought or plan in front of me. In that situation, the Lord just asked me to give my will to Him, and He took care of me. (Ether 2:24)

I can differentiate the thoughts that come from the Spirit and the thoughts that belong to me. The Spiritual thoughts are not quite the same as mine. They are more intelligent, concise, and to the point. They have a wisdom about them that I don't have. They have an elegance about them that isn't me.
My own thoughts are the work horse of my writing, but the finesse comes from the Spirit. It is usually there while I am writing. It doesn't happen if I sit back and wait for inspiration to jump into my head. It presents itself while I'm busy. 

I love this quote by Elder Oaks. It fits for me. "We get promptings of the Spirit when we have done everything we can, when we are out in the sun working rather than sitting back in the shade praying for direction on the first step to take." "In His Own Time, In His Own Way," Ensign, 24. 

How does revelation work for you? What are your experiences?

I have a small journal that I write the times I see the hand of God in my life daily. President Eyring's talk, "O Remember, Remember," Ensign, November, 2007 guided me to do this. He said that before he would write in this daily journal, he would ask himself the question, "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?" As he kept the journal, he said, "I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance--even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened." Now that I keep this journal I look for revelation in my daily life, and I always find it.

I love this statement by President Monson." I am always humbled and grateful when my Heavenly Father communicates with me through His inspiration. I have learned to recognize it, to trust it, and to follow it. Time and time again I have been the recipient of such inspiration." Thomas S. Monson, "Stand in Holy Places," Ensign, Nov. 2011, 84.

So whether during my early morning meditation or during my busy day, I look for the Spirit to guide me, and am grateful I can always find it.

Look for Christy Monson's books on line or in the book stores today.
Love, Hugs, and Hope When Scary Things Happen
Becoming Free, A Woman's Guide to Internal Strength