Saturday, November 30, 2013

Be Part of the Magic



There is a magic that takes place when a parent pulls a child close to read to him. I always love that time of wonder with my own children and grandchildren when you watch a child's eyes as the book opens up the world to him, giving him new concepts and fresh ideas. There are three participants in the time of transformation: the child, the parent, and the book.


I want to be part of that magic--to invite myself into that relationship between parent and child--to tread lightly on that sacred ground. I want to be part of those memories, part of that mind-expansive time with the books I write. 
For now I am content to experience the magic moments with my own children and grandchildren. And, after all, that's the time that will last through eternity.

Take a minute and read a book to a little person this week. It will add magic to your life.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Life

by Marsha Ward

In my lifetime, I've seen a lot of Thanksgiving Days roll by. Sometimes they were spent with family members, whether a few or hoards of them; sometimes they were spent with friends; a few times they were spent alone. This year was a family time, and I enjoyed the company of my daughter and one of my sons. Unfortunately, the other children had other obligations, and couldn't attend the celebration. Be that as it may, we had a wonderful time together.

A new kind of celebration has come along in more recent years, maybe the last twenty or so. It's a "shop until you drop" merchant-driven frenzy called Black Friday, fueled by greed and conspicuous consumerism. It has replace a lot of families' tradition of putting up the Christmas decorations on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. I avoid Black Friday's crowds with a passion. I don't recall a time I have ever ventured out of my home to be bashed and battered by other shoppers in pursuit of a bargain.

Now in the last couple of years, we have another "shopping day" when one can find great bargains, but this one is a little different. You needn't leave your home to indulge in a Cyber Monday spending spree, which takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving. This is the day to surf the Internet in search of bargains both electronic and everyday. Select, click, and your gift or new acquisition is on its way to you or your giftee. I like the lack of crowds, so this is a shopping day that suits me.

I don't have any grand conclusion, just my observations. Let me pitch you a question instead. Which do you prefer: Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Embracing Change

By Kari Diane Pike

It's 2:14 a.m. and counting...The turkey is cooked and the triple chocolate pumpkin pie is cooling on the counter. The potatoes are ready to be mashed and everything else is set out to bake fresh rolls, caramel apple cheesecake bars, and banana caramel cream trifle. Oh..and I can't forget the ham and the sweet potato casserole - with marshmallows on one half and brown sugar topping on the other.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What can I say that you haven't already read a bajillion times over in your social media? Did you know that when you post a comment on Facebook it will be seen by more than 150,000 people in less than a week?

With so many people sharing status' about what they are grateful for every day, I've been poundering on what to share with you today. I'm thankful I have access to the Internet again. I missed my last post because we moved into a brand new house and it took a couple of weeks to get everything set up. (I'm thankful the new house, too!)

Moving into our new home signals the beginning of a new start in our lives. As many of you know, we spent the last 15 months living with our oldest son and his family. We lived in a tent trailer in my sister-in-laws driveway for a couple of months before that. My husband loves his job and our youngest son, the last fledgling in the nest, is doing well in his new school. It's a time of change...and a prelude to the bigger changes I see looming on the horizon.

Change is an interesting word. We can change our clothes, our address, our jobs and our minds. Parents change diapers, tellers make change, and if you don't like the weather in Utah, wait 10 minutes and that will change too. The scriptures teach us that the most wonderful kind of change is a change of heart.

 I used to be afraid of change. There are still days when I wish I lived in a bubble. But I also recognize that staying in that bubble means I'll miss opportunities to learn and grow. And what if bad things never came to an end? Heavenly Father's plan requires opposition in all things for a reason.

As I sit here in the middle of the night, listening to the gentle snoring of my adult children home for the holiday, and think about the years gone by and all the changes I have experienced, the future feels a lot less scary. I'm not completely comfortable with the idea of being an empty-nester in less than 2 years. I'm certainly less than thrilled to think about my parents' mortality. But I have the constancy of the gospel to guide me through these new challenges. I guess that is what I am most grateful for: a knowledge of God and who He is and who I am. I am grateful for the Savior's atonement that makes it possible for me to change my heart and my life.
 

 hugs~


Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm a Loser at NaNoWriMo...Again

By Stacy Johnson

I'm slowly learning that I can't do everything I want to do. November is just not my month for adding one more thing to my to do list. It is the end of football season (playoffs, banquets, senior night, homecoming, and other booster club demands), competitive cheer season kicks in, Pop Warner cheer competitions finish, the beginning of basketball season and let's not forget parenting my eight children and supporting my husband as a football and basketball coach. I'm swamped in November.

Yet each year I dedicate myself to writing 50,000 words in one month. Let's be real people, I have a hard time writing a blog post every other week and it is usually less than 500 words. It is also the fourth month of the school year for my kids and I'm already so sick of signing papers that I tell them to tell me what it is for and sign it for me. I know, bad mom.

So, why is it that I feel compelled to try every single year?

Because I love to have something that forces me to write every day, that's why. I'm not a novelist, I've come to realize that. I just hope that the one time I did win will be good enough to carry me until I win again someday. I've participated in poetry month activities and I know I'm not a poet. I've tried my hand at marketing articles for a local real estate agent's newsletter and I never thought I understood marketing concepts very well. Each time I try something new, I gain valuable skills and become a more rounded writer.

When I do something out of my comfort zone, I feel a greater sense of my talent as a writer and my confidence level goes up. So, in between booster club meetings, football and basketball games, cheer competitions, youth activities, activity days, scout calling responsibilities, making dinner, cleaning up messes, grocery shopping and date nights, I carve away at something I love even though it takes me away from the things I'm comfortable at.

Someday it will be my season to write a novel again, even if it is just to win the coveted NaNo award...until then I will keep starting even though it means I ultimately will not finish. Some writing is better than no writing, right? In the meantime, maybe I'll work on the edits for the NaNo novel I did finish a few years ago...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving

by Cindy R. Williams

What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

We each have our own traditions for various holidays, and Thanksgiving is one of the biggies.

As a child, Thanksgiving meant learning in school about the Pilgrims and Indians and their celebration feast together. Making turkeys from our hand prints. The smell of stuffing wafting through our home from the kitchen the night before, and that mouth watering aroma blended the next day with the tantalizing smell of turkey roasting in the oven. Arguing with my sister as we set the table for the family. Eating until I practically had to roll away from the table, then somehow stuffing in some pumpkin pie with a dalop or ten of real whipped cream.

Now as a grown-up, Thanksgiving means planning the menu, guests and food preparation several weeks in advance. It means inviting neighbors and/or ward members who would otherwise be alone to join us. It means cheering for my men-folk at the ward Football Turkey Bowl and nursing their sprains or breaks afterword. It means a long blessing on the food to thank our Heavenly Father for his tender mercies and bounteous blessings. It means yummy food with those I love dearly. It means taking turns around the table giving everyone an opportunity to say what they are truly thankful for. It means hard work and happily dragging myself to bed at the end of the day.

What does Thanksgiving mean to YOU?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Family

My mom and I and all my siblings at my niece's wedding. From left: Christine (#8); Jeff (#7); Kathy (#5), mother of the bride; Andrew (#3); Mom; Henry (#2); me (#1); Warren (#4); John (#6). My mom had eight kids--the last six in seven years. Number 6 just turned 50 last month. Number 1 will turn 60 in a few months.
♫♪ I have a family here on earth ♫♪
♫♪ They are so good to me ♫♪
♫♪ I want to share my life with them through all eternity ♫♪
 
 
I just got back from a 10-day vacation to Florida for my niece's wedding. It was a rare time that all my siblings were together and I insisted on a photo with my mom, who just turned 80 this year.
It was great to be with them all and I even had some one-on-one time with some of them.
Most of us live in Pennsylvania, within five miles of where we grew up. My mom, then my brother Henry, then my sister Kathy moved to Florida. I moved to Utah and traveled the farthest of anyone at the whole wedding. I wish it was like olden times where families lived together, as neighbors do, and if one moved, they all moved.
I miss them but feel so blessed I got to spend a little time with them.
I arrived home without my luggage, had an early day at work the very next morning at 6:30 a.m., and have not recovered from the trip (meaning the excitement and the harried pace at work). I am still in Florida.
 
And that's my post for tonight :-)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Wisdom of the Word of Wisdom

by Terri Wagner

Lately, I keep getting the same message and yes I have finally reached a spiritual age where I know this is a message I need to pay attention to. In the past, I might have filed it under interesting things about the gospel. Now, I'm more inclined to say aha listen up, this is a message from Heavenly Father to you.

My sister has been non-insulin dependent diabetic for about a year. She struggles to eat properly and take her meds on time because she's an ER nurse. That means her schedule is crazy, and her shifts can be busy or slow, mostly busy. For instance, yesterday she got home, put her hand in her pocket and found all her pills. Hadn't even had time to think to take them. And she suffers when it's not regulated well. She wants to try to overcome this and not be insulin dependent. Only other person in our family tree to have diabetics was also a nurse...just sayin'. We discovered that the solution to ending non-insulin dependent diabetics is tada whole grains, fresh fruit, and fresh veges.

Now my dad is back in the hospital with diverticulitis. He's quite sick and hopefully will be out in time for Thanksgiving. He can't leave the hospital until he can eat solid foods and is infection free. I checked out the situation and found on the Mayo Clinic site the suggested diet for this chronic condition, and tada whole grains, fresh fruit, and fresh veges. See a pattern here?

Last but not least, I was also checking out a diet plan for a friend who also has a chronic condition. She just wants to have more energy to battle the problem. And yep you guessed it whole grains, fresh fruit, fresh veges.

All I can say is I too will be changing my diet although thank goodness for now my health is pretty good, and I can slip in that chocolate every now and again. But there is deep wisdom in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants. A wisdom I sometimes forget to incorporate into my life. Like rising early and going to bed early. Hmmmm shall I think of it as a challenge? I do this, and see what happens to my own health and that of my family? Don't really think I can lose do you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rain is a Good Thing

By Claire Enos

For those country music fans out there, I'm sure you got the reference to Luke Bryan's song. I love country music, it expresses my thoughts so well! Lately I've been thinking a lot about my home: Oregon! Country music is the theme music of my times spent in this state. My aunt Jackie would always listen to the country station on the radio, introducing me to the genre. At one point I had every lyric to all the popular country songs memorized and car rides would become singing as loudly as you can sessions.

Those were the good days, although it rained a lot (it was Oregon after all!) and I had a lot of fun dancing in the rain. In a way, those were the best times and the worst times (at the time). Now, I've had more than my fair share of disappointments and I've learned lessons I never dreamed I would ever need to learn. Even now, I can say with all honesty that the worst times were also some of the best times and that is what this song is all about.

To this day, I lift my face to the heavens when it starts to rain. I always have a prayer in my heart, but I think my prayers are the strongest in the rain, when God blesses me with the water and life. I am grateful to be alive and well at this time in my life. These will be the best days of my life and they will be the worst and they will be wonderful and glorious.

"Life is too short to sit and wait for love to come [my] way" (Big Time Rush, "We Are"). Instead I will spread the love in my heart, the love that God shows me each and every day, to all those around me. Life is love. Life is sacrifice. Life is Glorious and Miraculous.

With all the love in my being,

<3Claire

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Resilience




This fall we had an early snow. Some of my roses were still blooming, so I captured this picture of newly fallen snow on this beautiful flower.

The weather warmed up the next day, the snow melted, and I expected to see the rose drooping. Here it is, just as pretty as the day before the storm.

It got me thinking about resilience. I wonder how I am at facing trials in my life?  
My mother has been ill with cancer this past year, and I cared for her until her death. We found out last December that she had stage 4 cancer, and the doctor referred us to hospice. At that time she lived in her own home and wanted to remain there, so I visited her every day, taking her shopping and helping with the yard and cleaning.
She was fairly independent until the first of June when she became violently ill, unable to hold any food down at all. We both felt the end was probably near so I moved into her house to give her the 24 hour care she needed during the last few days of her life.
My husband was very supportive. He remained in our home and came over for dinner and an evening walk every night so we at least go to see each other. I am so grateful for his love and support.
It was difficult to see Mother sick to her stomach all hours of the day and night--very stressful for me to see her go day after day and week after week without food and not to be able to help her at all. It took the hospice doctors two months to find some medication that calmed her stomach enough so she could eat a little bit.
She continued to deteriorate for four and a half months before she died. Many times the elderly become senile and aren't aware of the things going on around them. Mother knew everything and that made her decline even worse because she hated having me clean her up and change her, etc.
She died the 10th of October, as angelically as she had lived. I had my own grief, but I was so happy for her that she didn't have to suffer any more I felt almost elated.
What did she and I learn about resilience from this experience?
1.         We looked for the good in this difficult situation. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to spend this last time of her life together.
2.         We were flexible as her health deteriorated to vary her routine with a wheel chair and walker, etc. so she was comfortable and able to care for herself as much as possible.
3.         We were both optimistic about the outcome of her illness. She was anxious to join my father who had died 65 years earlier, and I was excited for them to be together again.
4.         We persevered through the difficult times. We could have put her in a care facility, but that would have killed me to let someone else care for her.
5.         I managed the stress of it all by walking every night and visiting with my sweet husband.
I don't know if I'm as resilient as this rose, but my mother was, and I will try to follow her example of Christ-like living in all that I do.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Now I Know Why

by Marsha Ward

All day I've been sitting here feeling a little bit guilty because I did not write and schedule a post for today. I tried to tell myself that it's because my eyes are still recovering from cataract surgery, but they are getting better every day, so that didn't stand up to scrutiny.

Now I know why I didn't write a post. Today held surprises for me.

It is a day that has been quite outstanding in terms of my writing career.

First of all, I was invited to contribute a novella to a popular anthology series. That was way cool.

Then I came across an announcement in my email that my last novel, Spinster's Folly, won the Western Fiction category of the 2013 USA Best Books Awards competition!

Wow!

I told myself this would be a kick-back-and-relax kind of a day, but now I'm so excited that the blood is pumping and I have to get up and do something. See you later!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Walking the Torch--the Journey Continues

 by H. Linn Murphy


I recently wrote a post about my experiences in the park. At the time I thought I was in for the long haul. Valya wasn't ready. I'd had my bid for that blazing moment where the Gospel bursts forth in a brilliant sunrise to bless the dark and weary world and thought I'd blown it.

Turns out, not so much. And it's crazy how the tapestry gets woven despite my fumbling attempts to mess with the threads which often only cause snarls.

I messed up my knee sometime between the last run and the day of this story. I'd had an old PCL injury that I'm determined to ignore. On this day it rears its ugly head and I'm forced to walk. So as is my wont in such times, I take something to read while walking. I instinctively know every pothole in that place, so it works.

Since I'm doing NANOWRIMO and have little time, I decide to take my scriptures instead of my Kindle. Two birds with one rock, as they say (although killing any bird with a rock seems counter-productive).

So I'm lugging my quad around the park, trying to read and walk at the same time. In the near distance I see my friend, Valya, alone and hobbling as fast as she can, listing a little to the right like a beached fishing boat. I hike up to her and she gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. That's encouraging since it seems before like she was avoiding me somehow.

She looks down at the quad and asks, "Is that the Bible?"
I grin and say, "Yes it is. It's the Bible and the Book of Mormon and some other scriptures."
She says, "What does your church believe?"
Inside I'm jumping around like a Mexican Jumping Bean and screaming a bunch. It takes me fully ten seconds to calm down enough to say, "We believe in Jesus Christ and in God the Eternal Father and in the Holy Ghost."
"Three separate people?" she asks.
"Yes," I say. I get ready to show her my recently assembled scripture strings dealing with the Father talking to His Son so I can prove it.
But she preempts me and says, "I believe that too. They separate peoples. I like that."

And then I launch into a halting version of the first discussion. She has little understanding of English, but I work with it. I find out she's Baptist and she thinks we have too many cars in our parking lot sometimes. (She lives right by the stake center.) I hope she won't think it's too busy for her to find a home there.

I have plans for Tuesday because she isn't the only missionary experience I have had recently.

The other story is just as interesting.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

By Stacy Johnson

I remember the day my husband came home to me and our 9 month old son and said he was thinking about joining the Air Force. My heart stopped and I thought of what I knew about people currently in the military...which was absolutely nothing. Many of my family members had been in the military but it had been many years since they were active duty.

We did our research by talking to the different recruiters from the different branches of government, speaking to our families and reaching out to friends of friends who served currently or were released from duty recently.

The truth is that I was against it pretty much from the get go, not in a defiant way but more reluctant. I didn't know anything about military life and I really did not want to leave my hometown and my family but I was excited about traveling and having a little adventure. One summer weekend, we drove to northern New Mexico, where his parents lived so we could visit with a couple who had recently separated from the Air Force. They told us of their personal struggles with, as well as some good things that the military offered their family.

When they left that night, we felt good about our research and knew that it was something that might work for our family. We knelt down before going to bed that night and told Heavenly Father our wishes; 1) that my husband would be able to finish his college degree and gain some valuable work experience, 2) that I would be able to be a stay home mom to our little boy and future children, and 3) that we wanted to do the Lord's will. We explained to our Father in Heaven that in researching the Air Force, we felt it would do all those things for us.

What happened since that day will forever be in my heart as the event that defined our marriage direction and our little family. We stood up from that prayer and it was very clear that joining the Air Force was the thing to do. A few months later, I stood at the airport telling him goodbye as he left for boot camp.  Those may have been the longest weeks of my life.

AFC Ben Johnson and Vance age 14 months 
We spent just under four years in the Air Force stationed the entire time at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM. (So much for my dream of traveling, ha ha.) I can't even  go into detail about all the great things that happened during those years, because there are so many. I still remember doing our taxes after that first year and wondering how it could be that after one year of military service, we made half the income we had when we were both working almost full time and going to school as civilians. In the military I was able to be a stay at home mom while taking a few classes and Ben worked and went to school full time. We struggled. Really struggled financially but at the same time learned to lean on each other for our emotional, physical and mental needs. It was a time of great growth for our marriage.

We were surrounded by some of the most wonderful and giving people I have ever been associated with. It didn't matter if they were civilian contractors Ben worked with, neighbors, friends or those we went to church with, we were always watched over. Our family never went without even if it didn't seem like we had much. The people serving in the military are some of the most giving and self-less people I have ever associated with.

My husband never served in a time of war, he never traveled outside the US and we weren't in for very long but I am forever grateful we took the leap of faith in joining the Air Force. It was an experience that changed my life forever.

My sincere gratitude goes out to those serving currently and those who have served in the past. Your efforts do not go unnoticed by our family; we love you, we pray for you, we are proud of you. Thank you from the Johnson Family.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rhyming

by Cindy R. Williams

Are you a poet? or maybe interested in writing a children's book using rhymes?

Here's a great tool for you.

Scholastic's RHYMING DICTIONARY. I purchased a copy from my son's elementary school book fair years ago. It's wonderful. I just checked, and it's available on Amazon.com.

Words in the book are alphabetized by the beginning vowel of the rhyming sound. A large part of the book is divided into six sections, one each for A, E, I O, U, and even Y.

You probably already know that the word "orange" doesn't have a rhyme, but, did you know that "pint" doesn't rhyme with anything either?

When I do elementary school presentations with my children's picture book, a big part of the presentation is about encouraging the children to write their own stories. We practice finding rhymes to go with their names. Not just any word, but an adjective that could be used in a story, such as "Fancy Nancy,"  "Silly Billy," or "Sticky Vicky".

With many of the names being used today, it soon becomes obvious that their aren't any "real" word adjuctive rhymes that would work. So . . . we do the next best thing, and have a quick chat about the king of making up writing words, Theodore Suess Geisel, better known as . . .Dr. Suess, Now there's a whole new world of creativity. The children love it. It's a blast to think outside the box and create funny rhymes.  We get rhymes like; "Cole Shmowl", "Claudia Dottia", "Tara Mon Fraira".

We play the "Alphabet Rhyming Game". If the first letter of the name or word is a consonant, drop it and insert letters of the alphabet until you come up with either a real word that works, or a fun word you have now created.  A good example of how it works is to use the word "Cat". Drop the "c" and start inserting the alphabet. You already have "at", then "bat", "cat" your original word, then "dat" (not a real word, but if you're Dr. Suess, the skies the limit, which means you can create your own words too right? And on it goes until you arrive at "zat".

With these new tools in your word tool belt, you now have rhymes for all times. (Yeah, I meant to do that, corny, but point taken right?)






Friday, November 8, 2013

Serendipopolis

By Beckie Carlson


serendipity

I have never been one of those people that looks to the stars for guidance. I don't believe in horoscopes and I don't know my sign. I do believe things happen for a reason, and sometimes we even get to find out what that reason is. But not always.
I remember when I met my husband. I had just broken up with an on and off boyfriend of three years. I was crushed when he moved on and wrote long, pathetic entries in my journal about how 'over' my life was. Two days later, my room mate talked me into going dancing. I met Brad and we were together for the next twenty years. My heart break opened the path to happiness for me. It has happened more than once. I can't help but think about the scriptures that talk about the importance of having a broken heart and contrite spirit. I always thought that meant humility, and it probably does, but maybe when we have our heart broken we are able to see a path we might not have seen when it was full. Maybe that is when and how the Lord can guide us to where He wants us. Maybe it is where we get where WE want to be. We just can't see it.
I have made a lot of plans in my life and had a lot of plans not work out. I would venture to say that the majority of my plans have gone awry. I've started changing how I make plans. Instead of getting out my mental stone and chiseling my plan into it, I write my plan in the sandy beach of my mind and see what happens. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about goals. Life without goals is a winding path to nowhere. But, goals should be flexible, alterable, and open to serendipity. I have found that the plans I have made that have gone awry tend to lead me to places that are happier in the end. Not always, and sometimes not for a very long time, but mostly my life has been a happy path.
It takes some practice and a lot of faith, but living a serendipitous life can be pretty great. I've learned to take a step back when road blocks pop up in my life, and to think about the blessings I have. What could the Lord be trying to teach me by this road block? Did I cause my own road block? Is there another path?
Usually, if I just relax and accept and leave my heart and mind open to divine guidance, my life changes for the better. I have had some really great changes and additions to my life lately. Things I could not have planned for or expected. My life is full. I am very blessed. I look forward to the next glitch....cause I said so.

Photo credit: www.thefutureworkplace.com

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Toy Poodle Tale

Tobey, 10 weeks old

This is why I can't write anything.
Nothing.
Not even an email or a Facebook "like."
This consumes me when I come home from work.
This will be the ruin of my carpets and be the impetus of a Stanley Steamer empire.
This will grow into a great companion in a few months, so I need to spend time with him.
Thus, not much writing for awhile.
Meet cute, little, monster, Tobey.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nothing lost, nothing gained...

So, I've been over weight since I had my last child.  That was over 11 years ago and I have just steadily gained until I finally became sick of it this past year.  I've tried most diets out there and have had some limited success on them but have always relapsed back into my old ways of eating.  I never had an issue with weight growing up and really never even worried about it until last Thanksgiving when we went on our annual Thanksgiving Day hike.  I was so disgusted with myself that I could even make the climb with my family because I was so winded.  I had to sit down and wait while the rest of my family got to complete the hike.  It was a long wait with a lot of time to think about my situation.

I had never learned moderation in my eating habits or had to 'stick to a plan'.  I just ate when I wanted, what I wanted, how much I wanted.  There were no limits.  I pretty much raised my kids like that as well (well, with food, not everything) so their eating habits were pretty miserable as well!  Of course I didn't go right home and do anything about it.  I actually just whined about not being happy with myself for another 6 months or so THEN I decided to do something about it.  I kept hearing ads on the radio about weight-loss and kept thinking I really need to do something.  Finally in June I talked to my husband about finances (he was REALLY tired of hearing me whine so he was willing to pay!) and we researched a few places and found one we liked.  I'm happy to say I joined the program in July and as of yesterday I'm down over 28lbs.  I've still got a bit to go (about 15 more lbs) and I won't likely make it before my daughter's wedding in Dec but I'll be close!

Now what does this have to do with writing?  Well, discipline.  Everything worth achieving in life takes discipline and writing is no different.  Whether you want to get down your life story, publish a masterpiece or just write as a de-stress option, you have to discipline yourself.  And guess what, it can't be once a month or once a week, it has to be everyday.  Otherwise it doesn't become part of your normal routine.  Even just 5 minutes in the morning or 5 minutes in the evening will help you reach your goals.  I promise you!

Does that mean you'll never be able to miss?  If you do miss will all be lost?  No, of course not!  Last week I had a huge set back in my food eating lifestyle change.  I got sick, my husband was in China and I was just completely overwhelmed so I turned to food for comfort.  I ate 1/2 gallon of ice cream in 2 days.  Pigged out on cookies at a party and basically felt too sick to do much of anything else for about 3 days.  I was again disgusted with myself and thought briefly about giving up but you know what, I looked back and saw how far I'd come and knew I had made huge strides and changes and that giving up now would just be silly!  So I just got back on my plan and now I'm moving forward again.  When I weighed myself this week I was expecting to have gained weight but it was nothing lost, nothing gained.  Well, a lot was gained, just not weight!

Happy writing!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Woman Shows Usually End Badly

by Terri Wagner

Maybe you know what I mean. In small wards/branches, we often find ourselves doing it all...and in my opinion not doing it well. This past Sunday as part of the Relief Society presidency, I conducted, lead the music, the special number, and gave the lesson. I did it all except for play the piano, and give the prayers. I felt like the sisters were cheated. And I certainly felt that my being so distracted would result in a very poorly given lesson.

As it turned, I didn't give the lesson I planned at any rate. I had this vague idea of addressing visiting teaching concerns, a challenge at any time, but more so in a small branch with lots of inactives. I went over and over in my mind what I felt needed to be said. VT'ing even after all these years in church is an alien concept to me. I myself have been lousy at it, and "my" visiting teachers have rarely appeared. And that never really bothered me for many reasons.

I wasn't very good at it myself so how can I judge? When I needed something, I had plenty of LDS friends to turn to, life gets busy and you just don't have time, things are changing, it's hard to do...the list is endless. As a member of the RS presidency though, I felt a great burden to at least do my visits. I have no partner and about 5 sisters. At first, it was great. I had a mixture of active and inactive...I knew most of them fairly well, and I tried to do something different for the sisters much younger than me. I found myself actually enjoying it.

Then our little branch's boundaries got changed. More sisters were added to our rolls, and we had to change up the lists. This time the emphasis is on what our prophet has been telling us to do...go and rescue. Now I have a list of sisters I don't know, no one knows. So far the more part of them are not even living at the addresses we have for them. One turned out to be a sad and extremely difficult situation I had to turn over to the branch president. Bottom line: Not that I ever really liked this program, but less so now than ever before.

Armed with my own reluctance, I decided to give a lesson on what to do. My goal was to assure the sisters that any effort is helpful, that social media can be a godsend. That sort of lesson. A how to without losing your religion over it. I intended to explain why the rules have to adapted for small branches. Describe some of my good and bad experiences, and share my own hesitancy. That was my plan. With the distractions of announcements, music, and finding someone to translate for our Spanish sisters, I stood before them and what came out of my mouth shocked me.

Sisters, like everything in the gospel, we do better when we have a testimony of what we are doing or about to do. If you do not have a testimony of visiting teaching, seek for it. Ask for it. Why did the Lord institute this program? What was His purpose?

It is rare that the Spirit just takes over like that. And of course you can guess who this lesson was really for, right? Me! I left feeling like I'd been reprimanded. At first, in honesty, my I-don't-like-doing-this-any-way smartly answered the invitation, then my He-did-so-much-and-asks-so-little reminded me that sometimes the Lord asks a hard thing of us.

I thought we needed a lesson in the mechanics of how to make visiting teaching more comfortable...instead the Spirit reminded me of Joseph Smith's words: I don't govern. I give them correct principles and they govern themselves. Once each one of us, especially me, receives a testimony in this case of visiting teaching, then the mechanics can be worked out, and the results shared. I'm glad I was distracted, and grateful the Spirit gave the right lesson!

Monday, November 4, 2013

In Which I Apologize

By Claire Enos

I am so sorry I missed writing my post! I have been so busy! So I thought I'd write a post, and let you know I'll write something epic for the monday following Thanksgiving to make up for writing two late posts! It will be great! In the meantime, I hope you are all doing well and I look forward to writing more later!

Have a great day,

<3Claire

Saturday, November 2, 2013

One Parent or Two?

by Christy Monson

My father was killed in a car accident when I was six and my brother was two. For many years I thought my mother raised us alone, but through the years I came to know she didn't. My father was always there to enjoy the good times with us and help us through our trials.

 He came for the joyful occasions. I could feel his presence at my marriage in the temple, when our son left on his mission, when my husband was made bishop.

He  also guided me through hard times when we had difficulties in our marriage. I could feel his presence when our last baby was born at one pound twelve ounces, and when some of our children had problems in their teen years.

He is still there for me today. Through the Spirit, my father leads me to scriptures I can rely on and guides me as I learn and study. Along with prayer and inspiration, he has always been there for me to share my troubles with. It's wonderful to have a confidant willing to listen and help me to solve situations to the best of my ability.

In the summers I walk in the forest near the homestead where he grew up, and I can feel his presence. The tops of lodge pole pines whisper to each other, sending blessings down from above. Sometimes I find a spindly tree with the top bent clear to the ground in a complete arch, and I know that heaven and earth are connected.


My mother was a widow for 65 years before she died, and I know I had the best rearing from both sides of the veil--a wise, hard-working mother on earth and a loving, spiritual father from heaven. 

As I look back on my life I can see that they worked together as a team. The best of heaven and earth.