Jul 31, 2013

Evesdropping and spying

A major part of being a writer is observation. Until recently I was an elementary school librarian so I had a plethora of material to use daily! Since I left my job, though, I've found that its not as easy to find ideas.

Ideas are all around us but we have to actually put ourselves out there to find them.  Currently I'm sitting in a surgery center waiting for my dad's surgery to be over (don't worry, it's very minor) and I'm eavesdropping. Rude? No, research! 

The voiced in your head will always sound like you unless you get out and hear other voices, other conversations. That makes for flat characters that are hard to distinguish from each other.  Also, you'll hear other people's stories that may give you plot ideas as well. Be sure to change some of the details and definitely the names! Protect the innocent (or guilty)!

There are several different conversations going on around me. One man is on the phone talking someone though an electrical problem with a lamp. One group is laughing about something that I didn't hear (me? Hopefully not...) but they all have different types of laughs. Even this is writer's gold. I peeked at their faces but tried not to stare and thought of ways to describe their expressions.

Today was an easy day to people watch because I had to sit in the waiting room but some days it's hard to find the time. Often I find myself stuck in my car all day carting kids around. Sometimes we forget that even our own kids can be eavesdropped on. It's especially fun to do when they have friends in the car with them. Not only can you get story ideas but you may actually learn something about your own kids.

Even though you may not find yourself around kids all the time, maybe yours have grown up and moved out, maybe you haven't had any, you can still find story ideas all around you. Get in the habit of truly watching people. Start eavesdropping on conversations and don't forget to take notes! Your next best seller might be someone else's conversation! 

Happy writing!

Jul 30, 2013

Just Cuz



Until our branch calls someone to the position of RS music person, they are stuck with my contribution. Since I cannot sing that well, or play any instrument, I download videos and play them during what would be "special music" time. So far the sisters love it. We have a theme each month. August (and perhaps September) will be Mormon composers (new and old). So you if you have a suggestion, please let me know.

This Sunday will be this one. A long time favorite forgotten, but resurrected courtesy of youtube. Hope you enjoy.

Look for the Little Light

Jul 29, 2013

Things Learned

By Claire Enos

Remember all those years ago, when you'd go back to school and your teacher would have you write an essay about your summer break? Some kids would write about their vacations in exotic places, and others would write about some tragedy that happened while they were on break, or about relatives they met, etc. Most of the time, I would have no idea what to write. My family never had time or money to go to cool new places, or to visit family, and other than a couple grandparents and a cousin I didn't really grow up around death. I guess you could say I lived a sheltered life, in fact I never did much but play with my friends outside, ride my bike, or read books all day.

This is the first summer I've ever had anything to write about, and the summer isn't even over yet. I've learned quite a bit about myself and about those around me. I've learned some of what is important to me, I've learned what I will and won't put up with, and that I can do hard things even if they hurt.

Maybe one day I'll write a creative non-fiction book on what I've learned, but until then suffice it to say that this summer has changed me for the good. I am a different person now than I was four months ago. I know more about what I want out of life, even though I still don't have all the answers, but I am learning. Sometimes I wish I hadn't decided to come to Oregon for the summer, but then I think of all the good times and all the bad times and I realize I wouldn't give any of it up, because they've all shaped me, brought me closer to who I want to be. There are still five weeks left here in Oregon, and I plan to make them count.

There's a reason for everything God sets in our path. We may not know all the answers right now, but there is always a reason and we are always changing because of our experiences. So, keep learning and growing. Don't pass up opportunities for growth, welcome them, no matter how much it hurts. As Kelly Clarkson says: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Keep reaching for the stars and for that far off distant dream of yours. One day you'll be grateful you did.

<3Claire

Jul 27, 2013

A Virtual Vacation!

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I love summer time when the kids are home. It’s such great to be together.

Here’s an idea for the end of summer when everything gets kind of blaaa. How about a virtual tour of a major European city?
Let’s plan a fantastic holiday in London.
1.              To learn about the city, check out a travel video or DVD from your local library and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. You’ll see the ceremony better on screen than if you were there in person. 

2.              Christopher Robin and Pooh even watched the changing of the guard (When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, A.A. Milne.) Check out the book from the library.
3.              Add a Pooh DVD to your evening’s fun.
4.              Discover Buckingham palace itself and the royal family (www.royal.gov.uk).  I love to look at picture of the palace rooms.
5.              See the beautiful London Eye (www.londoneye.com). Click on river cruises and watch the video.
6.              Find the history of Big Ben, the great clock tower (http://www.whitechapelbellfoundry.co.uk/bigben/htm).
London has wonderful museums.
1.              Locate books in the library about the British Museum, or go to the web site (www.britishmuseum.org) and have your children explore the online museum tours of Africa, Asia, Egypt, the Americas, and many other exhibitions in the museum. Everything is there from ancient pottery to quirky science gadgets.
2.              The Science Museum in London has a newsletter (www.sciencemuseum.ork.uk). Sign up.
Design activities with a British flare.
1.              Take the family to a local Shakespearean play in the park. I love going to concerts and plays in the park because we sit on the grass and relax so the kids aren’t as confined as they are in a theater.
2.              Lawn bowling is a pastime of the English. Since you’ll probably have trouble finding that sport in the United States, have fun at the local bowling alley.
3.              Let your young cooks create some English food like Fish n’ Chips or maybe some of Paddington Bear’s marmalade sandwiches. Have them find out what ‘Bangers and mash’ are. Make some for dinner.

Have a movie night.
1.              101 Dalmatians
2.              Mary Poppins,
3.              Sherlock Holmes.
Or better still, the family can enjoy reading these books together. Harry Potter is everyone’s favorite.
Well, you get the idea. With a little research, you can create your own virtual tour of anywhere in the world. Grab your kids and have a great August vacation at home!

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

Jul 26, 2013

The Curmudgeon Escaped!

by Marsha Ward

Dagnabbit, the Curmudgeon escaped from my cellar, and he's really ticked off. Sorry, I'm trying to round him up, but I fear the damage may already be done!

Heh heh heh, She left the lock on the door unfastened, and I slipped out to make a posting to Her blog.

I'm seeing a lot of misuse of the English language on my Internet feed in the basement. Yes, She lets me see what's going on in cyberspace, but I can't interface unless I get out of here and steal a moment on Her laptop. I've got to make this quick.

The misuse of this phrase has me riled up: flushed out.

I'm tearing my hair out!

"Flushed out" has a proper meaning. Anyone who has done a Cleanse knows what that can do. Auto mechanics "flush out" the occasional radiator. Any physical system bearing liquid can have it done.

But YOU CAN'T FLUSH OUT A CHARACTER, or a scene, or an idea. Unless you're trying to dispose of the object or idea, I would not recommend it.

FLESH OUT, people, flesh out!

Oh yikes! She has a rope. Let me hit PUBLISH quick, and she won't be able to retrieve this rant. Farewell, fellow curmudgeons. Doggone lasso!

Jul 25, 2013

The Power of the Internet

by Kari Pike

Today was supposed to be my writing day. Earlier this week I put in long hours for work and school projects specifically so that I could justify focusing my energy on my personal writing. Just as we finished family prayer and scriptures, my sweet husband looked at me and asked, "When is the last day for Levi to pick up his school schedule?"

Guess what. It's today. And since we have not moved into our own home yet, but moved forward and enrolled Levi in the school district where we plan to live, it's an hour drive each way. Yesterday's post on procrastination -- yeah, I totally get it. I'm just grateful that dear hubby is in tune and acted on the thought he was given to check on the schedule.

So...really quick, (and please forgive me in advance for not having time to edit this post) I need to share a couple of thoughts on the power of the Internet and how far our words can go. For the past couple of months, Tristi Pinkston has been training me to take her spot as the managing editor for Gospel Ideals International - a website created to generate SEO articles on gospel related topics. The goal is to direct traffic to Mormon.org and share the light of the gospel with our brothers and sisters around the world (most of these people have no idea that mormon.org exists). Right now the stats tell us that about 10 people a day actually click over to Mormon.org. Where they go from there, we have no way of knowing. We just pray that the seed has been planted and that they feel the love of our Savior.

Last week, something extraordinary happened. A couple in Kenya ( yeah...that Kenya...the one in Africa on the other side of the world!) directly contacted the founder of Gospel Ideals. They had seen the website. They felt the power of the truth. They wanted to know more. Emails were exchanged and contact information obtained. There was some trouble getting in touch with the mission president (turns out he was brand new that week and very busy), so phone calls were made to Salt Lake and the first discussion was taught over the phone. The last message shared with me was that not only had the couple expressed a desire to be baptized, but they want to share the message with the little congregation of 46 other people who meet in their home every week to worship the Lord. And...they want to take the message to other friends and family in Tanzania.

I've read the emails over and over. I cry and get goosebumps every single time. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. At baptism, I made a covenant to stand as a witness for Christ at all times and in all places. This includes social media. Now I know why our Church leaders have been encouraging us to create profiles and to speak up for truth and righteousness on our blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else we can. We have the key to joy and happiness and peace in this life -- even in the face of adversity. Why would we not want to share it?

When Tristi approached me about this project, I questioned my qualifications and abilities. But I prayed about it. During that time of reflection, I attended a book signing by James Owen. He signed my book with "I believe in you." I realize that he probably signs the same thing for everyone...but to write me that message on that day...I knew the Lord was reminding me that I have access to power beyond my own. Through Christ I can do hard things -- especially when it comes to sharing the gospel. I accepted Tristi's challenge and haven't looked back!

so...I have a favor to ask: I need a  couple more editors...and we can always use more articles (based on a keyword list). If you would like the opportunity to share your gift of writing and spreading the good news at the same time, contact me!

hugs~

Jul 24, 2013

How Not to Get Any Writing Done

By H. Linn Murphy

I am a whiz at not getting things done. I could be Princess Procrastinatrix of the Put-off. If you'd like to join me, here's how:

1. You actually sit down to type and notice: an old Band-aid, a leftover leaking candy bar, a laundry mountain teetering on the brink of the couch, the questionable sock you found in said couch, the list of women you were supposed to call for food donations, a stack of bills, another pile of stuff to go through, your scriptures, your son's merit badge patch you were supposed to sew onto his scout shirt, random fuzz or crumbs on the floor, and the fact that your son has just written with purple crayon on the wall, entertainment center, and TV.
All of these things niggle at you until you simply can't last another second without dealing with them (son first).  Anything else is clearly more important than writing. Just let your ADHD flag fly on this one.

2. The phone rings and it's your sister, who is not having the melt down everyone thinks she is. Sisters are, of course, going to need your undivided attention way more than crashing space ships or the Duke of Amherst's luscious lips. You don't want to turn the phone off in case you win a sweepstakes or someone offers you a new car.

3. You have to clear your mind of obstructions, so you first play twenty-seven or so games of Solitaire. Then you move on to Sudoku. Then Beleaguered Castles. After that you're about ready to go.

4. Then you open your mail and take care of about a hundred emails, blog entries and comments to friends' blogs, and pleas from various charities. Most of this stuff you just cram back in your email for the nebulous time in the future when you go through all your in-box and delete the 8,943 emails about stuff you should have done and forgot to. There are a few guilt emails from your mom in there that you've stuffed down so deep you won't find them until your hard drive fails. But you look anyway.

5. Next you have to hit Facebook and run through all your business there. There are angry cats just waiting for you to share them. And about forty-six pokes. And comments up the wazoo. People want to be your friend and tell you about their books (always a good thing, right?). Networking is a fantastic tool in the right hands. In the procrastinator's hands, it's like plastic bags and butter tubs to a hoarder.

6. There will be several of your friends' books you will want to buy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or you book site of choice. Plus you remember you needed to do about twenty-three book reviews. Then you check the standing of your own book and commiserate with yourself by going to the fridge for a quart of Rocky Road.

7. Goodreads is next because you have reviews for that site as well. Then you have to check off all the books you've read since last time, make a new shelf (figure out how to make that shelf), deal with a few emails, examine the new releases, and write to a friend.

8. Hit Twitter next and tweet about what you had for dinner and all the cute cat photos you shared on Facebook.

9. Next in line is Pinterest. You have a bazillion friends on there and all of their stuff is cute! Besides, you need ideas for craft projects and this is a gold mine. You like their books and check to see if any of them have liked yours. You return to the fridge to eat the rest of the Rocky Road.

10. By this time it's the witching hour when everybody comes home from where ever it was they were hiding from chores. You have to keep right on them or nothing gets done. And that's in summer. If it's school time, you have to add another eight hours of homework and school projects, for some of which you'll have to run to the store for glitter or Popsicle sticks.

11. The man comes home and you realize you've got to hop right on making dinner. You keep the computer on in case you suddenly have a minute to write, but who are you kidding? Between the kissing and talking about where you moved his camera cable/keys/papers/Sunday socks/D&D dice/lucky beanie/or whatever, there'll be no time for typing or thinking.

12. After dinner, forget it. The TV is on or music is playing. People are going to be doing all kinds of things. They'll alert you to the fact that you forgot to bake them two dozen cookies for a seven o'clock camp meeting, insist you take them to Becky's/David's/the store/church/a ball game, insist you play games/read stories/listen to them play/rub their back, etc. Seriously, you'll never see your computer until bedtime.

Voila. You've done it. A whole day is down the tubes and you've written nothing. It's a tried and tested method.
Now.
I have to go to the store for more Rocky Road.

Jul 23, 2013

Learning To Love The Past



This is one of my favorite childhood memories.  
I am working on writing about the things of my past.  I want to learn from the things that happened to me and to remember the good times and not only the rough ones. 

I can still see the blue of the sky from the top of the tree.  The wind rushes through my hair and rocks me softly in the branches.  I smell the leaves and the branches, holding on tightly ands soaking it all in.  The warm spring day feels like pure bliss to a small girl in bare feet clinging like a monkey to the branches.  I am so far from the ground that my little brother can't find me.  He is looking and calling.  I ignore him (not wanting him to try and climb up to reach me).  I smile and relax, safe, alone and, at last, free; feeling close to heaven's grasp in the leafy treetop.  
I make a perch for myself high enough up that the branches sway beneath my weight.  I imagine myself far away, somewhere, anywhere else.  A deserted island with fruit trees in abundace and a new best friend to share it with me;  a stream in the forest that whispers and sings as it continues on it's journey.  I laugh and splash in the waters of my imagination.  My favorite dreams always involve speaking to animals and flying.  In my dreams, I am leaving everything and everyone behind.  I see all the other children at school feeling envy for me and for my "special" abilities.  
I am a lonely child usually, with very few that I can call my friends.  But my imagination is a big, huge world, filled with wonders and all the friends that I could wish for.  I pull the book out of my pocket and make myself comfortable by wedging deeper into the branches.  With my feet wrapped around the branch and my back against the trunck, I start to read.  Lost in the world of the author's imagination.  Lost from my own life and struggles.  Deep within the comforts of my imagination I become the hero or heroine.  I am Tom Sawyer, Huckelberry Finn and Becky.  I am Heidi in the Swiss Alps.  I am Billy from Where the Red Fern Grows.  I am Travis from Old Yeller.  I am even Meg or Charles Wallace from my favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time.  
The day passes, the breeze stills, and all too soon it is time to leave my comfortable, imaginary world and climb down this wonderful tree.  Down to earth, down to reality, down to dinner.  I leave it reluctantly, but with the assurance that my place of refuge is there for me to use again.  Welcoming me home, like a long lost friend.  

I have learned throughout my life that I am still happiest if I have a place to escape every once in a while.  A place that is close to nature.  A place that is quiet and serene.  I love to go out into the forest along a creek and sit and listen to the water flowing over the rocks and the birds chirping in the trees.  There is just something in me that craves the peace that nature brings.  I find that I still need a place of refuge.  A place to call my own.  A place in which I can hope and dream and imagine, but most of all, a place that I can feel free to talk with my Heavenly Father in.  It is a time for me to share with Him my hopes and dreams.    
Today, I don't read quite the same books as that young girl did.  Today, I have found new friends within the pages of my old, worn Scriptures.  They have become like old friends to me.  
I have found many heroes and heroines, wars and rumors of wars, weath and poverty, sickness and pain, health and strength.  They are all waiting to be studied within the wonderful pages of these books.  Records of the way life used to be.  Of the mistakes and the obedience of men.  
Today I seek to have the faith of Abraham, the strength of Rachel, the love of Ruth, the obedience of Naaman.  I seek to learn more of the prophets and the saints.  I seek to know those who have gone before; to take their lessons into my heart and learn from them.  Today, I seek to follow the path of a loving Savior whose grace has given me everything.  Today, I yearn to follow Him.  Today, I yearn to feel His Spirit in my life and in my heart.  I yearn, that when the time comes, and I have done all that I have been commanded to do, He will welcome me home like a long lost friend.  

We live in the present,
We dream of the future,
But we learn eternal truths
From the past. 


Jul 22, 2013

Birthdays

By Stacy Johnson

My birthday was last week, I turned 42 years old. Some friends offered condolences while others suggested that it was downhill from here, none of which was news to me; I've been getting that since my fabulous 40th surprise birthday party my husband and best friend gave me two years ago. I wouldn't say that all my birthday wishes were sour, many of my fabulous ANWA sisters and other friends and family wished me a happy day on Facebook and for those I am truly grateful.

Me, celebrating my birthday doing a catering job at Sunsplash.
It saddens me that people look at getting older as a bad thing. I'm excited to get older and watch the blossoms come from the seeds I planted so many years ago in my life. I'm thrilled that my oldest will be home from his mission in a few short weeks and my daughter is starting her second semester of college. You know what that means? I have the potential to have a daughter or son in law in the near future and then GRANDCHILDREN! I'm not seriously hoping it is soon, but how cool will that be when it happens?

I'm also not saying that I don't have anxiety about my kids making wrong choices and messing up but I just don't have time to worry about that stuff while I'm busy celebrating the awesomeness that they are right now and their potential for the future!

It thrills me each time my kids ask one of my parents how it was in the old days "You know Grandpa, like before they had computers, microwaves or DVDs?" because I can pipe up and tell them how it was from my own point of view. I like that I can remember how my mom looked in her 40's just by looking in the mirror. I am excited each time the hubs and I talk about starting our own Johnson Family Reunion with just our kids (it's starting next year people!!)

I appreciate the fact that I'm not so attached to the television or magazines like I was when I was younger. I'm more contemplative and reserved (those of you who know me may not believe that). I'm more thoughtful about my actions and concerned about others. I have developed a deeper testimony of the gospel and have a greater desire as well as time to develop the talents the Lord gave me. All of this because I'm aging.

I'm not wishing away my youth waiting for my kids to get out of the house or anything but I'm loving getting older. While I do have two adult children, I still have more kids down to my two preschoolers who keep me feeling young. My wrinkles came from all the smiles and laughs I've had over the years and I never want a tummy tuck cause I earned all those stretch marks and my flabby stomach skin in childbearing. I'll still work out at the gym or run a few miles each week to take care of my heart but I'm here to say that I'm getting older and I LOVE IT!!


Jul 20, 2013

Write & Swim Saturday

by Cindy R. Williams

We had a great SWIM & WRITE Saturday at my home in July. Members from the youth group, Tale Tellers attended as did ladies from the former Writers of the Sage.

It was like a mini Retreat!

We all wrote and ate chocolate, wrote and swam, wrote and had chicken tortilla soup, and enjoyed each others' company.

I recommend this to all writing chapters.


Jul 19, 2013

Monsoon Lagoon



 By Beckie Carlson

It's raining. Not a big deal to some people in some parts of the world, but here in Arizona...it's a big deal. We don't get a lot of rain. We get a lot of sun, wind, dust, scorpions, and cactus, but not a lot of rain.
I miss the rain. Living in Florida spoiled me. It rained every afternoon at 2:30. I know this because that is the time I headed out to meet the school bus. Umbrellas are important in Florida. In Arizona, we use umbrellas to provide shade from the sun. I prefer rain.
Everything looks better on a rainy day. I remember WAAAYYY BACK in a previous life, looking for houses in Arizona. We looked at a lot of different houses but nothing really clicked until that one house. I  fell in love with it. I loved everything about it. I dreamed about this house. Then, I went back and looked at it again. I hated it. What was the difference? I had looked at it on a cloudy, rainy day. For me, rain is like rose colored glasses. It puts a shine on everything. Someone could totally use this against me....
It was raining yesterday as I flew home from Utah. The plane bounced and creaked and rolled over the clouds. It was awesome. I wasn't afraid, even though my kids have been watching Lost for weeks now....I can't be afraid to fly. I have tried. It just doesn't scare me. I don't think I'm smart enough to be scared. I think that my mind can't wrap itself around the fact that I am in a metal tube, screaming through the air WAY above the ground, with nothing holding me up but air. Nope, doesn't scare me. Put me on a parking garage and tell me to look over the side and I'm freaked. Go figure.
As much as I love water falling from the sky, I hate water falling from my face. Or rather, I hate to cry. I have a good life, not many reasons to cry, but sometimes the urge comes. I don't like it. I feel like if I really let it go, all my memories, thoughts, fears, doubts, etc. will come rushing out my eyeballs and I will drown in it all. Its like that poem about the girl that cried a river that carried her away. Okay, maybe there isn't a poem about that, but there should be. Crying makes me feel vulnerable and broken. It also makes my face all red and splotchy and my eyes all runny. It's not a pretty sight.
Just like those clouds that get all full and leaky, my tears sometimes have to come. I fight it, I hide, I run, but I can't escape them. I usually feel better after its over, but in a drained, spent sort of way. Only a special few have seen me cry. Many have asked for the privilege but have been denied (after I punched them in the face for asking).  If you get to see me cry...you are lucky...and probably scarred for life...cause I said so.


Photo credit: http://www.fubiz.net/2013/01/06/rain-sculpting/rain-sculpting4/
for the record, google 'images of rain' and you will not be disappointed. I loved every picture...well, except that one of Obama and the one of Bieber...seriously.....

Jul 18, 2013

Bad Girl Connie


By Susan Knight



I just had the pleasure of recounting one of our many family tales to my youngest daughter, Jewely. I can’t believe she never heard it before, or has forgotten it, as she was a newborn when it happened. It involves her older sister, Zannah.
 
Since I am a storyteller, I’ll tell it to you.

When Zannah was four years old, I carpooled to nursery school with my neighbor up the street who had twin girls Zannah’s age. One day, as I drove to school, I heard the girls chattering in the back seat about one “Bad Girl Connie.”

“Bad Girl Connie wouldn’t let me use the crayons.”

“Bad Girl Connie wouldn’t even sing during music time yesterday.”

“Bad Girl Connie pushed me off the swing.”

It went on and on like that, telling each other how much they disliked one of their classmates.

Finally, when I could take no more, I pulled the car over to the curb and stopped. I turned around to look at them. “I don’t want to hear any more gossip about this poor girl Connie,” I said.

“No, it’s Bad Girl Connie,” Zannah corrected me.

“No, her name is Connie. Period,” I said and gave her the evil eye. “Listen to me. It sounds like Connie needs a friend. She needs three friends.” Evil eye all around.

All three of them rolled their eyes at me, as if four years old going on sixteen. They talked all at once about this girl who had a sharing problem and, well, as an adult, I could see what was happening.

 I settled them down. “You three are probably the most popular girls in the whole nursery school,” I said, as an assumption, but to use to my benefit. “I bet if you were all nice to Connie, she would change and be nice to everyone, too.”

“No way! She’s mean!” they all said at once.

“If everyone sees that you are Connie’s friend, your whole class will want to be her friend, too."

More eye rolling and a lot of harrumphing.

 “I am not going one foot further in this car until you promise me that you will each try to be a friend to Connie.”

They looked at each other, then at me. They folded their arms and frowned.

 “Promise me," I said. "And I bet you will see a big change.”

They hemmed and hawed, but finally made the promise. “Oh, all right." They sighed and huffed collectively.

One day, about a month later, Zannah brought home a beautiful, China doll.

I gasped. “Where did that come from?”

Zannah petted the (expensive!!) doll and said, “Bad Girl Connie brought it in today for show-and-tell and she said I could borrow it and give it back to her next week.”

“Oh, no. That doll goes back tomorrow,” I said, fearful it might break.

“But mo-om, she said I could have it ‘til next week. She trusted me with it.” 

 “Wait a minute. What did you say? Bad Girl Connie gave it to you?”

“Yeah.” She hugged and rocked the doll.

After explaining that what Connie did was a huge step in friendship, I persuaded Zannah the doll was too dear to “play” with. I took it and put it on top of my hutch in the dining room so it wouldn’t get broken. Although I was sure Connie’s mom must have been having a conniption, I marveled that the little girl would entrust her treasure to Zannah.
 
As the weeks went on, I heard a different type of chatter on our morning ride to school.

“Bad Girl Connie shared the crayons yesterday.”

“Bad Girl Connie let me go down the sliding board first.”

“Bad Girl Connie loves to sing.”

The last day of school was a picnic at a nearby park where moms could go and watch their cherubs cavort about with each other. I saw Zannah and the twins playing with a diminutive, beautiful, smiling girl with long, blonde curls.

I later asked, “Zannah, who’s that little girl?” when she came to the picnic table for a drink. I thought it was someone's little sister and wondered how the girls knew her.

“Oh, her? That’s Used-to-Be Bad Girl Connie,” she said, as a matter-of-fact.

I watched her run back to her three friends as they formed their own little huddle, with hands in front of their mouths, whispering in each others’ ears, telling jokes and laughing. They ran to the swings and the tiniest one, Connie, pushed Zannah higher and higher.

Used-to-be Bad Girl Connie had a distinguishable twinkle in her eye. The other three were oblivious to it.

Jul 17, 2013

Never give up, never surrender!

By Bunny Miner

Before I get on with my 'real' post, I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself.  I'm Bunny Miner and I'm a children's book author.  I've just had my first picture book manuscript accepted and I'm now stepping way outside my comfort zone and trying my hand at a mid-grade fantasy.  I've been writing forever but seriously for about 10 years now.  I took a bit of a break (about six years!) when my father got sick and I just got back to writing about two years ago.  I've been married to my best friend for 23 years and we have four awesome kids.  Two of my kids are in college and two are still at home.  Until about three days ago I was an elementary school librarian and now I'm working on obtaining my substitute certificate because I never want to stray too far from the schools.  I always want to be around kids so I don't have to grow up too much (not to mention that's my audience!)  I'll be blogging for ANWA Founder and Friends every other Wednesday so stay tuned or tune out depending on how you like my style.

Ok, if you're still awake let's get on with this!  Have you ever felt like giving up on your writing?  Took a step back, re-read your stuff with a less subjective eye and thought, 'this is crap'?  Or how about this old classic 'I'm too old to write'?  I submit that if you've been in this writing game for any significant amount of time, you've probably said one or all of these things to yourself at some point.  To that I say, it's all crap!  Don't believe any of it! Writing takes time, commitment and persistence.  You can 'Never give up, never surrender!'

In the beginning of my post I told you that I just had my first picture book manuscript accepted.  That literally happened just yesterday!  I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember.  I actually chose my profession based on my desire to write.  I became a teacher so I could have my summers free to write.  Pretty ballsy, huh?  I had no guarantee this day would ever come.  I had a teacher who believed in my in middle school then just sheer ignorance and hope after that point.

At first I wrote in secret.  Nobody knew I was a writer.  Why would I tell people?  Then they might want to read something.  What if they didn't like it?  Did that mean they didn't like me?  My tender ego couldn't take that.  After doing that for awhile, though, my characters were crying to be heard.  They could only talk in my head for so long before they got lonely I guess.  So, slowly I started to show my stuff to people and guess what?  They liked it.  Or at least they said they did!  They were my family and friends so they were kind of obligated to be nice but it gave me courage.  So I wrote more and showed more people.  It was addictive!  Then I thought well so much of what I read is garbage so I'm sure I could get published no problem.  And that is where the fairy tale ended.

I started submitting things to magazines and book publishers and couldn't get past the form rejections.  Looking back at that early stuff, it was a joke.  I'm actually embarrassed by most of it and can't believe that I littered the slush pile with it.  To the poor junior editors who had to read it, I apologize! 

After enough of those form rejections to wallpaper a small room, I got a little smarter and joined a writing group and started to, of all things, read about writing!  I'm a little slow sometimes but I finally 'got it'.  I started to work on my craft and even started to have a little success.  I wrote book reviews online and had authors actually send me their books to review.  I submitted some samples of my writing to a local paper and started writing some human interest pieces for them.  With each piece I learned a little more but then it occurred to me that I really would rather lie for a living so I began writing fiction again.  As a busy mother of four and the primary care giver for my disabled father I didn't have the time to do both so I stopped doing the writing that I got paid for and started doing the writing I enjoyed.

Again, I got a bunch of form rejections but then I started to get personal rejections!  As any writer knows, there's a big difference between the two.  One of my happiest days as a writer was when I got my first personal rejection.  I knew I wasn't delusional at that point.  I really could write!  Unfortunately I couldn't get any editor to believe enough in me to take the leap and publish me for about two more years.  I persisted, though!  Finally I got that letter that all writers dream about.  Someone wanted to publish my words.  I was shocked and elated and overwhelmed all at once but I did it.  I became a published author (well, an almost published author!).  Ironically, last week I thought about giving up.  I'm glad I didn't.  So to you I say, 'Never give up, never surrender!' Your turn could be just around the corner.

Jul 16, 2013

Just Had to Pass Along

by Terri Wagner

‘The Lord Provided a Way’ Eight Liberian Missionaries Flee War-Torn Nation
Elizabeth Maki 25 April 2013

The LDS Church was still in its infancy in Liberia when civil war erupted in the West African nation, threatening members and branches and devastating an entire country.

When the war broke out in late 1989, eight native Liberian missionaries were serving in the country. By July 1990, conditions were so bad that those missionaries were shuttered inside their homes, unable to preach the gospel and forced to risk possible death just to meet with members. There was little food to eat, and it was difficult and very costly to obtain fuel for cars.

With their work grinding nearly to a complete halt, Elders Marcus Menti and Joseph Myers, zone leaders in Monrovia, determined to go wherever they had to in order to complete their missions and serve as they had been called to do. That meant leaving Liberia, so together with the other four missionaries serving in Monrovia—Taylor Selli, Joseph Forkpah, Roverto Chanipo, and Dave Gonquoi—they devised a plan. With the help of Philip Abubakar, a counselor in the local branch presidency and the missionaries' driver, the elders planned to travel north to Sierra Leone, cross the border, then continue on to Freetown, where their mission presidency—not being native Liberians—had already been compelled to flee.1

With gasoline scarce and dozens of checkpoints between Monrovia and the border, the plan seemed like a long shot.

“Our driver himself was not really convinced we would make it,” Menti remembered. “He almost at the time said ‘We can’t make it.’ We encouraged and soften his heart over and over again and he finally realized that we are missionaries and that we were inspired to do what we had prayed and fasted about. We again recited 1 Ne. 3:7 and were convinced afterwards that we could make our journey.”

Before they could leave, however, there was a crucial order of business to attend to: Find and bring in the last set of elders in Liberia, Elders John Gaye and Prince Nyanforh, who were serving just outside Monrovia, in Paynesville.

Delivered from Death

The Liberian Civil War that erupted in late 1989 was fueled by a desire to oust a president whose preferential treatment of his own tribe, the Krahns, had fueled ethnic tensions and prompted unrest in the country. The rebels thus targeted members of the Krahn tribe and regularly killed civilians belonging to that group.

For Elder John Gaye, a Krahn, the threat was a very real one. He and Nyanforh were trapped in their home for some time when rebels descended on Paynesville, and Gaye didn't dare leave, instead coaxing Nyanforh out to find food.

“They were killing people, so I ask him, I say, ‘When I get out there and I die then you will let the ward know that this missionary die for this cause,’” Nyanforh later said. He managed to get the missionaries some sustenance and return home safely—but only just.

“I told him that I would not go out there again because they killed two or three men, and I’m afraid to go out so I can die,” he said. “Rebels were walking around, and people were in doom.”3

After several days, the missionaries' neighbors planned their exodus. They called for the elders to join them, and Gaye and Nyanforh did. But as the group was making its way out of the area, they were apprehended by the rebels.

“They came interrogating us—to know where we’re from,” Nyanforh said.4

Gaye remembered that the rebels appeared “as fierce as famished wolves” as they interrogated each person to determine their ethnic origin and other information. But before they had made it to the missionaries, darkness had fallen and the rebels decided to wait until daylight to continue their investigation.

“All night long I had been in communion with my Heavenly Father,” Gaye later wrote. “Though I was in an inextricable plight, I was confident of the Lord’s help.”

When morning came, the soldiers resumed their questioning. With just one more person to question before it would be Gaye's turn, the missionary remembered he “nodded [his] head and began to imagine paradise.”

With his companion urging him to “trust God,” Gaye waited for his fate. But before he was questioned, a familiar face arrived.

“It was a Saint who the Lord has sent to rescue me and my companion,” Gaye remembered. “He is a member of the church who is fighting for the rebels. He knew that I was one of those been sought for, but he concealed my identity to his colleagues.”

Nyanforh said the rebel soldier was a clerk in their branch and recognized the missionaries. The LDS rebel told the soldiers that the men were brethren in his church, and without further question, the missionaries were released.5

The elders were taken to a refugee camp thirteen miles from Monrovia, and it was during their brief stay there that the other missionaries in Monrovia were planning their escape. The elders sent someone in search of Gaye and Nyanforh, but by the time the searchers made it to Paynesville, the missionaries were already gone.

Fleeing Monrovia The six missionaries and their driver began searching for gasoline to make their journey and eventually traded half a bag of rice for four gallons—all the while knowing it would not be sufficient for the 370-mile journey on bad roads.

On July 15, 1990, the seven men prepared for their journey. They held a sacrament meeting first thing in the morning, then planned to leave for Freetown. But small delays kept pushing back the start of their journey.

It was after noon before they made it to the mission home to inform their acting mission president of their plans and bid farewell, and it was 2 p.m. before they left the mission home for Freetown. The timing turned out to be fortuitous.

“As soon as we were on our way down from the upstairs at the mission home we met our two missing elders on the steps,” Abubakar remembered.

After a week in the refugee camp, Gaye and Nyanforh—after many days of fasting and prayer—had felt prompted that morning to leave for Monrovia. After eight hours on foot, they arrived at the mission home just in time to join their fellow missionaries in their escape to Sierra Leone.

With nothing but a five-seat Toyota Corolla—which Abubakar had preserved from theft by removing the wheels and battery during the fighting—the eight missionaries and their driver set off on their journey. With the addition of the four gallons of gasoline they had bargained for, the tank held a total of five and a half gallons as they began their trip.

Menti recalled that most everyone—including their acting mission president—expressed reservations about the missionaries setting off with so little fuel and such dismal prospects of getting more along the way.

“Some said we would end up pushing the car many miles toward the border,” he wrote. “We did acknowledge their concerns and quoted 1 Ne. 3:7 and all of them were reasonable.”

It was less than a hundred miles to the border, but with nine adult men in a small sedan and more than fifty checkpoints at which they would be stopped along the way, the odds were solidly against them. However, they set off believing that “God [would] provide for His saints.”

“En route,” Menti recalled, “brother Philip our driver observed with amazement the gas gauge making no change at all after having travelled 14-18 miles. He was very much astonished. We were not for we knew the Lord would provide a way.”

The missionaries made it to Sierra Leone that evening with gasoline to spare, and were able to buy five more gallons at the border at the much-reduced price of $25 (Liberian) per gallon; the going rate then was $85 (Liberian) per gallon, when any gasoline could be found.

When they arrived at the border, the immigration checkpoint had already shut down for the night, so the missionaries spent the night taking turns sleeping in the car. The following morning, yet another obstacle arose.

Of the nine men in the Corolla, only three had passports. Of the remaining six, only two had national ID cards that would enable them to cross the border. After initially being told they would have to return to the embassy in Monrovia, they were later called in and told the immigration officers would help them, because they were missionaries.

Once across the border, the journey in some ways became more difficult, as the roads in Sierra Leone were far inferior to those in Liberia. At one checkpoint, the men were told that the next 14 miles of road were so bad that many cars had wrecked and were stranded along the way. At some points, there were gaps in the road that the car had to be pushed across or lifted over.

“In some places where the road is very bad I will order the elders to get down and run after me while I drive through the rough part of the road,” Abubakar wrote. “I was very careful with the exhaust pipe and the tyres.”

Menti recalled having to run after the car for stretches as long as two miles. Along the way, they passed several cars stuck on the road, including several models much more expensive than their Toyota. Thanks to Abubakar's care, the missionaries made it through without getting stuck. Later, as the faster, less-loaded cars freed themselves and passed the elders, they expressed their amazement.

“When the road got smoother later they passed by us at a certain checkpoint,” Menti said. “We think they were amazed to see a Toyota sedan going through the bad roads when the Mercedes could not. They then told us ‘you have a good driver' and they clapped for him.”

Late that night, after thirty-four hours on the road, the eight missionaries and Abubakar arrived at the home of mission president Miles Cunningham in Freetown.

“After feeding the starved, dirty, tired corps of Liberian elders, they were taken to sleep their first safe, peaceful night in well over two months,” wrote Walter Stewart, a senior missionary from the United States who was also living in the Freetown mission home.

For the missionaries, the move was a monumental one. Most had never left Liberia before, but the desire to continue their work where they could was a powerful one. A month later, it was evident why: With the missionaries assigned to the three branches in Sierra Leone, the rate of baptisms rose and the number of branches quickly doubled.

“All that was seriously needed to open the branches was more priesthood,” recalled Stewart, who also credited the missionaries with being better able to communicate with the locals than the American couples had been, as well as better equipped to relate to members and investigators.

They “brought a powerful spirit of faith and devotion to this part of the mission, certainly bred out of the agonizing they have suffered in their beloved homeland,” Stewart said. “They are first to recognize the hand of the Lord in this modern miraculous exodus.”

“We know that the Lord [had] more work for us here in Sierra Leone,” Menti said. “Many areas have been opened to the preaching of the gospel. Our journey, though as difficult as it was, the Lord provided a way.”

Jul 15, 2013

Try New Things

 By Claire Enos

I'm so sorry I haven't been posting! I forgot last time and then got off track. But I'm back, and better than ever! (I hope). Today, my YSA Branch went shotgun shooting out in the middle of nowhere here in Oregon at a gun range one of the members in our stake has. I wasn't planning on shooting on of them, because I've done it before when I was 12, but one of my favorite leaders in the branch made me do at least two rounds so I did.

I was really scared to begin with because I knew that it had a kick. This was a long shotgun (no idea if any of you know what kind of a gun that is, because I don't, but I believe that's what it's called). They have a really big kick and I'd heard that it could hurt and I don't like pain at all. When I got up there I was wishing I didn't have to, but I was excited at the same time! In the picture below you'll barely see me on the platform, and the guy standing next to me was showing me how to load the gun and correctly hold it.



At one point I was about to shoot and then a guy yelled from behind me (probably one of the ones in the picture) to widen my stance. I realized later that if I hadn't, I would have fallen over on my backside, however since I was prepared for the kick and was in the correct stance I was able to do alright. I didn't hit anything, but I did get to shoot two rounds and I felt wonderful afterward-- a little shaky but otherwise great!

My point here is: Always try new things, because the more experiences you have, the more you can write about. And that's what we're all here to do, right? Write, write, write!

<3Claire

Jul 13, 2013

The Price of Testimony

by Christy Monson



In the early 1800s Nathaniel Thomas was a wealthy farmer, living on the Fox Islands off the coast of Maine. Wiford Woodruff preached the gospel to the people of the islands, and Nathaniel and Susanna Thomas were baptized. Nathaniel sold his land and home, and he committed to lead the little band of Saints from the Fox Islands to Missouri, outfitting his family and others for the arduous journey.

Nathaniel and Susanna, daughter, Clara, age 5, son, Martin, age 2, and a new baby left their beloved island home on October 3rd,, 1838. Snow storms and bitter winds raged, hampering their journey. Little Clara became ill and died on the way. Can you imagine how Susanna felt, leaving her child’s grave and knowing she would never return to it?

By the time they reached Portage Ohio on November 21st., they were spent—Clara was dead, Susanna and the baby were ill, and Martin had a cold. The family and many of the company stopped for the winter.

By the time they reached Illinois the next spring, the Saints had begun to settle Nauvoo. Nathaniel died during the persecution in Nauvoo. Susanna and her widowed mother, Ruth Grant Luce, trekked westward to the valleys of the mountains alone.

What a price they paid for their testimonies!

Several years ago we took our six children and their families to visit the Fox Island homeland the Thomas family left when they joined the church. It was truly a life-changing experience for us all.


The old luxurious family home—brought from the mainland in the 1700s—has been refurbished. 



They well they dug is green with moss and unused, but still a landmark.



The old graveyard, decayed over the years, haunts one with visions of life before ours.

Testimony? They knew the truth because the Spirit bore witness to them—the sacrifice they paid was not too great.

I ask myself, “What am I willing to pay for my testimony?”

The Holy Ghost bears fervent affirmation of the Truth for me today. No offering is too great—whether it’s temple attendance, church callings, raising a righteous family, connecting with my ancestors, or battling the evil influences of today’s society.

My contributions are different, but no less valid. My price is before me, and I will pay it willingly—a thousand times over because I love the Lord.

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


Jul 12, 2013

Welcome to Our New Bloggers

by Marsha Ward

It's that magic time of year when I have offered members of our Blog Team the option to stick around or to move on with their busy lives. Sometimes no one wants to leave; sometimes life has thrown some of the Team Members curve balls, and they have to make adjustments.

This time, four of our Team Members have opted to leave us. Thank you, Tracy Astle, Jill Burgoyne, Kami Cornwall, and Leesa Ostrander, for your insightful posts and cheerful presence.

We welcome our new Team Members, Stacy Johnson, Bunny Miner, Christy Monson, H. Linn Murphy, and Patty Pitterle, some of whom you have already met. We're looking forward to the posts they will share with us during their stay on the Team.

In case you're wondering why it took five people to fill the places of four departing bloggers, we have had a Saturday slot open for a while. I decided it was time to fill it. We will continue to take a break on Sundays.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and be safe out there!

Jul 11, 2013

I'm Happy Because...

by Kari Diane Pike


One of the universal laws of raising a family goes something like: The amount of time it takes to prepare a meal is inversely related to the amount of time it takes for said meal to be consumed -- particularly if there are children in the home. (This law also applies to doing laundry, cleaning up legos, and earning paychecks.)

After several fun-filled days playing with and preparing meals for our 18 grandchildren and their parents, I have far greater empathy for the early pioneers and their challenge with Mormon crickets.  Seriously. Where do kids pack it away? I witnessed this same phenomena as their parents were growing up. And I still wonder. Fortunately, unlike the pioneers, I don't have to wait for another season of crops to replenish my pantry. I have at least 5 grocery stores within a mile-and-a-half radius from our home. In less than 30 minutes I can restock my fridge and ensure that there is plenty for all come time for the next feeding.Which is why I found myself at the local Safeway market at 7:00am last Friday.

I don't know about you, but 18 children, 13 and under --  and no milk or juice in the house -- constitutes an emergency of serious proportions. This means forgetting about changing out of sweaty work-out clothes, let alone taking a shower, and jumping into the car sans make-up or even combing one's hair. I did remember to grab my dark sunglasses, you know, just because odds are when you don't want anyone to see you, they will appear out of nowhere (another law to discuss at another time). I pulled into the parking lot and gave myself a quick pep talk. Just walk in, grab the juice and milk, pay the cashier and leave. Don't look anyone in the eye, and for heaven's sake, stay down wind and don't stand too close to anyone!

All went well until I approached the dairy case at the exact same time as this gorgeous woman dressed in fashionable business attire. Her perfect hair and make-up screamed high-end salon, as did her well manicured nails. I didn't look her in the eye. I felt so "less" than her. I wanted to be invisible. I looked down at the floor and then pretended to be interested in the display of Cerreta's chocolates on the end isle (like I wouldn't be interested in chocolate!). As soon as she finished her selections of  half-and-half and assorted creamers (she was obviously buying coffee condiments for her office), I grabbed a couple three gallons of milk and darted for the check-out counter. There was only one person ahead of me and I allowed myself to relax a bit.

The cashier recognized me from my milk run two days before and I assured her that I really didn't drink that much milk by myself. We shared a couple of thoughts on the joys of children and grandchildren. A customer behind me laughed and exclaimed how much she loved children too. I turned to smile at the person with the friendly voice and discovered it belonged to coffee creamer lady. She smiled back. I ducked my head and rushed out with my purchases.

As I started the engine, that "perfect" woman walked by. I watched her get into her car and as I drove away, a feeling of regret washed over me.The Spirit whispered in my heart that I had missed a great opportunity to reach out and accept a hand of friendship and a chance to share the gospel. I had let my own fears and  feelings of inadequacy get in the way. What was my problem? I love to tell people I'm happy. Why would I only want to share my joy when I "looked my best?"

My new goal is to develop my own personal "tag line", so to speak. Why I am happy -- even though terrible things are happening in the world. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon describes the sorrow he feels because of the terrible wickedness and perversions he witnesses. Then he says, "...nevertheless, I know I shall be lifted up at the last day" (Mormon 2: 19). Mormon knew that because of his faith and his efforts to follow Christ, no matter what else happened around him -- he would be okay.

I'm happy because, like Mormon, I know who I am - a daughter of a loving Father in Heaven - and I understand God's plan. As long as I remain steadfast and immovable on the solid foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I will be okay. I know that I was put here for a purpose. God did not send me here to fail. With the Savior beside me, I can do hard things. In fact, through the power the Savior brings, I can do all things Heavenly Father asks of me.

I hope I never let another opportunity pass by to share the light and joy of the gospel. Sharing light and love is another one of those magnificent phenomena that blows my mind. Unlike the milk in my refrigerator, each time I share light and love, it grows brighter -- the same way the light grows when one candle becomes two and two become four. Sharing never diminishes light -- it expands exponentially.

How is fear holding you back? What do you do to get past it?

hugs~




Jul 10, 2013

Amish Bread Ambush

By H. Linn Murphy

Let's talk about Amish Friendship Bread. A few years ago a friend of mine (at least they were until they saddled me with this gig) came to me and offered me what turned out to be the Trojan Horse of friendship gifts: Amish Friendship Bread.

What it really turned out to be a bag of goop that, when opened, smelled like a beer distillery (I've smelled a distillery before. Don't ask me why. I've never tasted any, though). The yeast-y stuff in there was fermented enough to make a person drunk just smelling it. I wondered what kind of a church-going friend would give me something so disgusting-smelling. It was the consistency of that green glop they sell kids to play with (snot--not play dough).

I smiled like I'd just found out I was pregnant at 50 and shut the door. I'm positive I heard snickering as she bolted for her car. I stood there examining my bag of slop, wondering what the crud I was going to do with that stuff. As an art teacher, a mom of six hooligans, and a Cub Scout leader, I was up to my eyeballs in busy.

Luckily the slop came with a card which told me exactly how to take care of my bag of plague culture. It involved a complex set of things to do (complex to a person who has a rough time keeping air ferns alive) every day from then until the earth turned to glass. I have the recipe here, should you wish to try this insane experiment:

Starter:
1 (.25 oz) package of dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F or 45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 cups white sugar, divided
3 cups milk 

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Let it stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart glass, plastic, or ceramic container, combine 1 cup flour and one cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will lump when you add the milk. Slowly stir in 1 cup milk and the dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely or put in a zip lock bag and let stand until it's bubbly. This is your day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave it loosely covered at room temperature.

2. On days 2 through 4 stir the starter with a spoon. Or if it's in a bag, mush the bag a few times. On day 5 stir in one cup of flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. On days 6 through 9 stir or mush the bag only.

3. On day 10, stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup milk. Remove 1 cup to make your first bread, give 2 cups to friends in zip-lock bags that WON'T come open, along with this recipe and your favorite Amish Bread recipe. Store the remaining 1 cup of starter in a container in the refrigerator or begin the 10 day process all over again beginning with step number 2.

To make the bread mix the cup of starter plus:
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
In a separate bowl combine the following dry ingredients and mix well:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 - (5.1 oz) box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup nuts
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix and pour into two well greased and sugared bread pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

So I industriously started in on the whole Amish Friendship Bread debacle. They don't tell you that that zip lock bag comes with its own miniature sweat shop. You have to keep the whole thing going. It's worse than a chain letter or a pyramid scheme. You have to find more and more friends to ambush who have never heard of this trap.

The thing is, the bread tastes great! If it were a once in a while thing, or if you had mounds and mounds of time to dedicate to it, the stuff would be golden. I didn't.

I mixed up my first batch of give-away goop and oozed it into zip lock bags. My particular recipe called for giving away six (6) VI bags of this gunk. Yeah. So since I was on the way to Cub Scouts,I thought I'd just dump the lot on my cub parents. Captive audience, right?

Then I got a phone call from a mom asking me to give her boy a ride. Normally I wouldn't, but she was my best friend. So I slung the stuff in the back seat on a tray, thinking that the boy would sit in the front. No dice. He wanted to sit in the back. I thought nothing much of it until I heard the fateful words, "Oh no!"

I slammed to a stop as the stench of fake booze wafted through the car. I looked back and beheld a horrible sight. The boy sat there with a shell-shocked look on his face. He must have poked the bag. Or something. The goop was all over the whole back seat, my seat, the boy, the floor, the roof, and probably that whole sector of city. I wanted to die and slowly was. I should have gotten a gas mask along with that first baggy. And a toxic emergency notice.

The stench hadn't left that car even after we sold it.

I carried on with this experiment for a couple more cycles and then bailed. The bread was fantastic, but the dedication wasn't there. Plus the cleaning bill for the car was prohibitive.

Good luck! If you want to get off the merry-go-round, the starter will freeze in 1 cup measures. Allow 3 hours at room temperature for it to thaw first.

Jul 9, 2013

You Are Not Nothing


You Are Not Nothing
by Patricia A Pitterle

I am nothing, and I know it,
In this dark place, I'm alone.
The walls close themselves around me
And the light I knew is gone.

I can't see how I came here.
I can't find the pathway out.
Darkness is all I know now,
I breathe it in and breathe it out.

In my mind I see more clearly,
And I recognize my sins
I turn my thoughts toward Jesus
And my heart invites Him in.

Into my soul that's aching,
Into my troubled mind,
Into the past that holds me
Into chains that tightly bind.

The past that holds me captive
To the person I have been
And whispers I'm not good enough
To return, once more, to Him.

A light pierces the darkness
It chases night away from me,
Reminds me I'm a child of God
A light that sets me free.  

His grace is there before me
And His redeeming love,
He pulls me from the darkness
His spirit like a dove.

He reminds me I am holy.
He reminds me I have worth.
He reminds me He has died for sin
So when I leave this earth,

I will see His glory.
I will see His face.
I will walk beside Him,
As He leads me from this place.

The past is now behind me.
I have repented of my sins.
I've changed my life for Jesus.
Opened my heart and let Him in.

He cast out all the darkness.
He changed my night to day.
His path is one of mercy, 
As I follow in His ways.

Now, I look up in times of trial,
My eyes searching for His light.
I know He removes the darkness
And restores eternal sight.

When the darkness falls too quickly
And you don't know what to do,
Invite Him right into your heart
And He will make you new.

New in faith and understanding,
New in hope and strength from above,
New in His tender mercies,
New in His eternal love. 

So, now you know, you are not nothing
You are a child of royal birth.
He welcomes you into His arms
And reminds you of your worth.