Dec 31, 2014

The Not-Sleeping Cycle

by Andilyn Jenkins

I do not possess healthy sleeping habits. And I would love to take a moment and blame that on my parents, who taught by example. We always pull through, which is a virtue, but at the sacrifice of a precious gift many people fail to value—myself included. Some claim the title "night owl" which I've discovered to be an acceptable euphemism for I-stayed-up-so-ridiculously-late-working-on-the-stuff-I-didn't/couldn't-do-during-the-day-that-now-I-physically-can't-get-out-of-bed. In high school, my French class (first hour), lunch, and sometimes choir (fifth hour) were the times I would inevitably crash. Now it's after I give the kids breakfast and when I turn cartoons on for them around three or four in the afternoon. In college, when Aaron wanted to propose, he came to pick me up an hour before I had to be at play practice, and I was napping on my couch. I begged him, "I'm so tired. Just, snuggle with me for a minute. I just want to sleep. Please...? No, Aaron, don't make me get up. I'm so tired." It took him a good fifteen minutes to convince me that we really needed to get going. Of course I had no idea why and pretty much thought he was the spawn of Satan for making me unwrap myself from my warm blanket burrito to go outside in December in Rexburg, Idaho. But once I did, I realized what Aaron had in store more than made up for pulling me out of my coma. Boy, am I glad I woke up.

And the thing is, I never wake up from a nap and think, "Man, I wish I had just slept through my entire day. Waking up is such a waste." In fact, I usually reprimand myself for falling asleep and end up feeling guilty for neglecting the kids and letting them have too much screen time. Or for not doing my chores or failing to make the complicated dinner I had planned and was excited about trying. And then I'm rested. So when bedtime comes for Aaron, I think, "Well, I took a nap today. I'll just finish these dishes, start the laundry, paint my nails, write my blog post, solve world hunger, and then skip off to bed." And the cycle continues. And on the rare occasion I go to bed before midnight, I can't fall asleep. So my motivation to develop that healthy habit skips off to my neighbor's house where it encourages her to make hot breakfast for her family before driving them to school.

So here I am. 1:23 a.m. on the very last day of 2014, wishing I had done that puzzle with my daughter today (technically yesterday), but also sooo satisfied that I made fondant centers for homemade chocolates and danced in my kitchen for an hour while I waited for the candies to cool. But the reality is, making that candy was challenging and fulfilling, but I could have started it earlier. Dancing to "All About That Bass" with my new noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones was fun but it could have been a treasured memory if music blasted through the house while I had a dance party with the kids. And my quiet time is rare and coveted but so are the fleeting faces of my four- and one-year-old.

So goodnight. I can't afford to miss out on any more proposals. Consider this my New Year's Resolution: Sundays through Thursdays, I will go to bed before 11:30. That gives me 8 hours of sleep on a normal/good day for my kids. Because this year, I don't want to hear a whiny, "No, Mommy, please don't fall asleep." This year, I'm going to be awake.

Dec 30, 2014

My New Year's Resolution

by Terri Wagner

I'm not much on New Year's resolutions, because I never keep them. But when I ran across this, I knew I had found one I could grow into believing.

So short and sweet here it is. Happy New Year everyone.

Dec 29, 2014

Have Faith

By Claire Enos

"Have faith that everything will turn out how it is meant to." That's the thought that popped into my head the other day as I was praying to God that I could attend school in the Spring and graduate in December 2015 instead of April 2016. I don't know what God has in store for me, but whatever it is I know that it will be better than anything I could plan for myself.

Unfortunately, this is the end of my time on this blog. I have enjoyed my time here, but with school and my personal blogging, and everything else going on in my life right now I can't commit to this blog. I was talking to one of my best friends the other day, and I said: "Whatever happens, just know that God has a hand in it. God knows what you need, and he'll provide it." I believe this with all my heart, and I know that because of this blog and writing alongside so many wonderful women, I have learned so much about myself and my writing.

So, although this is an end and this door is closing (for now) I will continue to hone my gift. I am starting a new journey of self-discovery, which I will be documenting on my personal blog. The link to it is on the side under blogs we like: Between the Lines of Life. I hope to see you all there as I post about what I am learning and what I am passionate about.

Have A Very Happy New Year!


Dec 27, 2014

Gratitude Gifts

by Christy Monson

We have a family tradition of giving a little 'thank you' to someone who has done something nice and didn't even know it. Now all of us have written gratitude notes before, but this is a little different. We like to surprise the people who don't know they were spreading good will.

Maybe someone gave you an extra big smile when you were feeling down so you wrote a note. Maybe an elderly lady walked down the street and stopped to talk. That cheered you up so you took her a flower. Maybe the produce man at the grocery store found you the ginger root you'd been looking for so you gave him an extra big smile. The postman always waved as he drove down the street and for Christmas you gave him candy or cookies.

This is a nice tradition you can do all year long. It's especially fun for the kids to take their little craft projects to cheer those around them. It also helps the kids look for the good around them and  find things to be grateful for.

Have fun spreading cheer all year long.

Dec 26, 2014

Merry Christmas to All

by Marsha Ward


and a very


Our blog team will look different next year, and we will change the frequency of blog postings, but we'll post a schedule so you can keep up.

Thank you for your loyal readership. May you have all the blessings and joys of close relationships and satisfying work to accomplish throughout this Holy Season and the coming year.

The Founder and Friends Blog Team

Dec 25, 2014

God Bless Us Every One!

by Kari Diane Pike

What do you call a bunny wearing a kilt?

Some of you probably already read that on Facebook. But just in case, I'll give you the punch line at the end of this post - which may be two or three sentences from now...or several pages. My cup runneth over. The music, the symbols, the opportunity this time of year presents to think of others and find ways to bring them joy - I don't even know where or how to begin expressing the gratitude I feel today as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the gift that He gave all mankind.

I think that's where I need to start - I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I am grateful for Heavenly Father's gift of sending His only begotten Son to pave the way for me to return to Him someday. Christ suffered, bled and died, and rose again. He healed the sick - physically, emotionally, and spiritually - while He walked on this earth, and after - as He continues to do so to this day. I know that my salvation comes through Jesus Christ and no other.

I wanted to write a post thanking all the people who have blessed my life - but that would take pages and pages and I don't want to risk leaving anyone out! I can honestly say that every person I've met has taught me something and helped me grow. I'm grateful for the plethora of gifts you have all shared with me - Which kind of segues into how much I have come to appreciate the unique personalities and abilities of the people in my life. I love knowing that I was created to become a creator. One granddaughter showed her parents this morning that she has a great understanding of her own uniqueness and purpose:

After building the princess castle, four-year-old Gwendolyn says, "now can I break it and build whatever I want?" Answer: of course! Thank goodness for pink princess Legos! 
This makes me smile on so many levels. First we learn...then we move on and put that knowledge to creating the life we want.

Another take on uniqueness came from one of the conversations during this week's family time. Our son Kenny complimented his sister Brittany on the "Arizona" necklace she wore. But then he commented on how it didn't fit the way his brain was connected to have one of his father's children be so connected to one state [I suppose this has something to do with our family moving 23 times in 35 years - although only 4 different states]. My husband  replied that even though our children had so many similarities to him, there were still a lot of differences among them.

Kenny replied: "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but when the tree is in the back of a truck..."

So there you go. I've also learned that what's most important is that we are united as a family in our testimonies of Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and yours throughout the coming new year and beyond.

Merry Christmas to all!

oh, I almost forgot...What do you call a bunny wearing a kilt? A hopscotch.

You're welcome.


Dec 20, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

From the Williams Family to yours.

Dec 17, 2014

At Least "Meltdown" Was on My To-do List

by Andilyn Jenkins

I write everything in my day planner (although I call it an assignment calendar because I'm still in fifth grade, apparently). Call me old-fashioned, but there's something I get from a hard calendar and scribbles that I can't accomplish on my iPhone. And this week, I have my time calculated to the minute. Today was chores-day and writing night. I spent my entire day vacuuming, tidying, scrubbing, dusting, and washing. And after finishing the laundry at 10:00, I began writing. Tomorrow is errands-day, mutual, ANWA, and freelance work. Thursday is baking-for-neighbor-gifts-day and temple-night. And Friday is deliver-neighbor-gifts day and Christmas party/date night. I think you see where I'm headed as far as my schedule this week goes. In fact, it probably looks a lot like yours. It's that time of year.

Well, three hours ago I started working on a poem for my post tonight--a beautiful poem I'm trying to write for my dad for Christmas that I've put off far too long. Two hours ago, my computer started telling me it needed to shut off in fifteen minutes to do updates. I declined. It postponed for fifteen more minutes. I was almost finished with my first draft of them poem, then I was going to post it here and request feedback from our readers to help me get it ready for Christmas. And then the fly flew into my ointment. An hour-and-a-half ago, my daughter woke up with various ailments ranging from sore limbs to an upset stomach. So between squatting on the bathroom floor holding her as she tried to use the bathroom to make her stomach feel better and rubbing her arms/legs/feet while telling her happy stories and singing her lullabies in bed, my computer restarted without my consent. And when I came back in my room for a brief moment before being called back into my daughter's bedroom, I discovered a blank computer screen and nothing recoverable in Word.

And you know what? I have no idea when I'm going to be able to sit down again and rewrite that poem, assuming I can recapture the spirit I had put into it. But it won't be tonight because every three sentences I get down here, Evelyn calls, "Mom!" from her bedroom. And my mommy-brain is kicked in and my muse is kicked out as I listen for whimpering or rustling from down the hall muffled beneath the clicks of my keyboard.

So, just to make myself feel better, I add "comfort sick Evelyn" to Wednesday and cross it off my list.

Merry Christmas. May your preparations go smoothly and may you always cut your wrapping paper the correct size on your first try. (Wrapping day was Sunday.)

EDITED NOTE: Immediately after posting this, I found a recoverable version of my poem in Word! Tender mercies :). Look for it Wednesday night on Andilyn Thinks and come give me your feedback so I can get this Christmas poem sent on its merry way.

Dec 16, 2014

Striking a Blow for the First Amendment

by Terri Wagner

Things are still crazy around here. Mobile home, or manufactured home, or trailer, I've always thought it funny to have 3 different names when it is the same thing has finally arrived. Today I have to bring to the table all the information they need for the loan to go through. I must be unaverage because I passionately resent giving them all that information. Do they really need to know all this? And further more why does my employer have to verify my employment? Really it is any of my employer's business what I am doing on the homefront? And why we are at it why does anyone have to know what I am doing with the house I own outright?

And another beef while I'm at it...what is this infernal onslaught when it comes to FB? If a person offers up a personal opinion about something that happened at work to several hundred friends at one time, why can that be used against that person? Who made up that rule while I wasn't looking?! And no I am not talking about extremes here. And why should we all be concerned about this attack on free speech? Because as the German people once learned, if they come after the one guy, eventually they will come after you.

My best example is the attacks for your own good. Lookit, I'm LDS right? Never smoked a day in my life. Can't stand the stuff. BUT if you choose to smoke, and accept the consequences (which may or may not include cancer but certainly causes you serious health issues), and pay extra for your health care for it, then so be it. But no one really stood up for the smoker, so now they can hardly smoke in the streets. Then they went after the fat people. Using the same tactics. And again I was appalled at the lack of response to the fat police. Now they are after your free speech on something as simple as blogs, and FB. Don't be fooled, they are waiting for the opportunity to pounce. Just ask Canadian preachers who can't speak from the pulpit about homosexuality (that may now be toned down but the framework for it is in place), and it's not just Canada. Recently the lesbian mayor of Houston wanted to check out the speeches of several city pastors before they gave them. For now, the pastors' protest was successful enough that the mayor backed down. However, the law that preceded the demand is still in place.

I just wonder where it will end? I'm still mad about all these intrusive things I have to answer. Makes me wish I could just pay cash in hand. Hmmmm, maybe this is yet another reason for the emphasis on being debt free.

Dec 13, 2014

Fairy Fun

When our children were little, a fairy family would come to our house right after Thanksgiving to stay until Christmas day. They came for fun adventures and to be Santa's helpers in spreading Christmas happiness.

Our kids built elaborate houses for them each year - sometimes out of graham crackers, other times we made homemade gingerbread, and when they wanted a really fancy design, cardboard covered with vanilla wafers. They decorated the yards with candy cane toboggan runs, gumdrop trees and silver sprinkle skating rinks.

The fairies wrote notes to the children to tell of their escapades. One year Tom broke his leg because he got going too fast on the toboggan run and crashed into the gumdrop forest. Another year Melinda and her winged horse needed a high dive to practice jumping into a swimming pool. Aunt Matilda got a cold. Uncle Henry needed honey candy  to cure a tooth ache. 

The children watched for the tiny foot prints and little wings. Each night before bed our little ones wrote a letter to the fairies.

The best part was having the fairies help with holiday service projects. Everyone made cards and cookies for older people in the ward. Tiny foot prints magically appeared on the envelopes. Everyone sang for neighbors. We were all sure we could hear the fairy voices. The winged creatures were very good to scout out a house to see if it was safe to door-bell ditch.

We had lots of good times with this over the years, and now the grandkids are in on the fun.  Here is one that should be interesting. Sharks on this roof. Wonder how the shark/fairy story will turn out. We'll just have to wait and see.

Try this in your family. Magic is part of Christmas.

Dec 12, 2014

Indie Author? Go read the linked article

by Marsha Ward

I'm a confirmed Indie Author, which many of you already know. I ran across a link on The Passive Voice Blog leading to a blog post by M.C.A. Hogarth that all indie (and probably lots of traditionally published and hybrid) authors should read, oh, maybe every three months or so. It's very affirming. I recommend you read the comments at The Passive Voice, and also, when you click his link to the article, the comments on the blog post, too.

I Am an Indie Midlister (and That's Okay!)

I think the big take-away quote for me is the following:

I do not begrudge my peers their better sales, because they don’t need to fail for me to succeed. This revelation is deeply freeing, because it means I can be thrilled for their successes, and fine with my own more modest accomplishments.

What a great outlook!

Dec 11, 2014

If You Give a Writer Chocolate...

By Kari Diane Pike

I intended to have today's post published before nine a.m. I forgot about the contractor coming at eight. No worries. I finished cleaning the kitchen while he painted the drywall repair in the entryway. I wanted to be nearby in case Martin's hip gave out on him again. Sixty-something-year-old guys with bad hips and climbing up ladders scare me. Besides, he shares funny stories about his life in England and his accent makes everything he says fascinating. Why is that?

Anyway - after Martin left, I planted myself in front of the computer. The moment I opened my Gmail account this crazy vortex opened up and sucked me into a Facebook conversation started by Tristi Pinkston. I couldn't pull myself out! Fortunately, my visiting teacher and her two adorable daughters dropped by and rescued me. The girls bounced all over the porch vying to show me the reindeer food they made in preschool and how they planned to sprinkle the sparkling oats on their lawn so Rudolph could find them. They begged their mom to let them stay and play with my doll house with me. But their mom told them we have to wait until after Christmas.

When I sat back down to write, my bangs kept falling in my eyes so I had to run up stairs and find the  right scissors. I didn't want to get hair all over the sink which meant I had to go back downstairs for a paper towel. I solved the bang problem with just a couple of snips. Since Christmas pictures are still two weeks away, I think I'll be okay.

Upon returning to the office, my tummy grumbled and woke up the chocolate covered cherries, raspberries and Oreo truffles from their hibernation in the refrigerator. They shouldn't have called out to me. I wouldn't have eaten them if they had just stayed quiet. It's not my fault! Now I'm going to have to make more to hide the evidence. Do you think if I add some Cookie Dough Buckeyes to the plates and wear a long sweater over the popped button on my jeans I can keep anyone from noticing?


Dec 6, 2014

Christmas Thoughts

by Cindy R. Williams

We all know that Christ's real birthday was in April. I have this theory that Christmas is celebrated after Thanksgiving for a  good reason. The need for gratitude and thanksgiving, for our Savior and the many wonderful gifts we all have but often forget.

Here are some thoughts of the season.

"The United States Post Office dead-letter department receives annually thousands and thousands of children's pre-Christmas letters addressed to Santa Claus asking for things.  After it was all over one year, a single, solitary letter thanking Santa Clause was received. Could this be on of the problems of this troubled world; that people thing only of getting -- not giving?  Of receiving -- and not even expressing their gratitude for that which they do receive?
-- President Thomas S. Monson, Pathway to Perfection, pp. 254-255

"Don't be mad if you don't get the things  you want . . . just think of the things that you don't get that you don't want."
"People who complain that they don't get all they deserve should congratulate themselves." 
--The Irish Digest

--"And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him.  Doctrine & Covenants 78:19

"Cultivate a spirit of thanskgiving for the blessing of life."  --Gordon B, Hinckley

"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls"--Aesop

"The depth of our gratitude is the depth of our understanding." 

"The best things in life are yours, if you can appreciate yourself." --Dale Carnegie

I wish you all a warm and happy Christmas full of a heart of gratitude to our Savior!

Dec 3, 2014

Getting Ready for Bed in Three Short Hours

by Andilyn Jenkins

A mom gets ready for bed. A dad goes to sleep. "Why don't you go get ready for bed, dear. I'll be in in a minute," Aaron subtly suggests because he knows. He knows that even if he gives me a head-start, he'll still fall asleep long (often hours) before I do.

* * *

Aaron walks in the room for bed after I've put on my salmon-colored pajama pants and an old t-shirt that says, "Anything war can do, peace can do better," in a rainbow font. I just placed my day-time t-shirt in the previously empty hamper and thought, "The laundry is never done."

Aaron digs through his dresser drawer. "What are you looking for, honey?"

"My black basketball shorts I wore to play football last week."

And in the time it takes him to check under another pair of jeans my brain takes me to the dinner-table a week previously and plays out this conversation in full color and detail.

"Oh, are these new basketball shorts?" I asked pointing to an insignia on the knee I hadn't noticed before.

"No, just old. They're reversible. I usually wear the white side," he explains, flipping the hem over at the knee to show me the reverse.


"I don't like wearing the white side to play football 'cause they get grass stains."

"Smart man."

So, now I know what shorts he's talking about. And my brain ticka-tick-ticks. Nightstand drawer? No, those are his pajama basketball shorts. Did I fold them in my last load of colors? No, that load had the blues, mints, and grays I washed first to deal with Evelyn's grass stains. I saved the darker load for after in case the stains didn't come out and I wanted to wash them again. And I just folded that load, so his shorts must be in the dryer.

"They're not in there, hon. They're in the dryer," I answer as he looks between his third pair of pants.

No! They're in the wash. I took the dryer load out early so I could fold it before I went to bed. Don't forget to check Evelyn's pants.

"Oh, I mean they're in the wash. I'll put them in the dryer before I go to bed so you can have them in the morning." Don't forget to put those in the dryer. And check Evelyn's pants.

I snap my hair into a ponytail and slip on my headband. As I squeeze the tube of Clean N Clear, Aaron asks, "Did you call your mom?" as he goes into the closet and comes out with his old running shoes, placing them in front of his dresser to remind himself to get the shorts out of the dryer before work.

"No . . ." So tomorrow I need to return that call, oh, and return my dad's call. He wanted to know about Christmas gifts for the kids. So think about ideas to give him. And he asked about work. I need to go over my notes before I call him so I have something progressive to say. Man, I can't believe it's been so long since I worked on his project for work. I don't know how time slips away from me. I've just been so busy lately with family visiting and sisters having babies and getting Christmas started and recovering the house from Thanksgiving. Oh, don't forget to turn on the dishwasher tomorrow. " . . . I'll call her tomorrow."

I turn on the water and scrub off my makeup then grope half-blinded for my bath towel and dry my face. And the thinking continues. I reach for Kleenex and my brain jumps to the grocery list. I pull my hair out of the ponytail and remind myself to text Cami, a friend who happens to be my hairdresser, about our plans this weekend. I walk from the master bath to the bedroom and see empty water bottles, dusty dressers, Walmart items to return. Mental note, mental note, mental note. My toe hits the full laundry basket--don't forget to switch out that load. And check Evelyn's pants.

Aaron and I read a few verses from our scriptures and say our couple's prayer. Then he falls asleep. I get out of bed to get my day planner from the kitchen and open the door to thousands of mental notes. Notes that I know I can't grip. I see the preschool bag, but I won't remember that Evelyn has homework to do until I see it again tomorrow, ten minutes before school starts. I see my laptop sitting on the table, but I already forgot today is blogging day. I grab my planner and keep my eyes on the floor so I won't see the bottle I meant to wash, the macaroni I wanted to put away, and the socks that escaped laundry day.

Because in seconds, my brain tells me 357 things I forgot, misplaced, over-scheduled, and neglected. But tonight, I remembered to hide Dash, our elf-on-the-shelf. And because I checked my planner before bed, I’m writing my blog post. And I’m really going to try and remember to put that load in the dryer after I’m done here. But the reality is I’m human. And being a mom is a super-human job. So, sometimes, we have grass stains on our pants.

Dec 2, 2014

BOM's Jacob's delimna is also mine

by Terri Wagner

I had the dubious honor of giving the FHE lesson for our little singles group. We are small in number, and mostly older women. After a few years, we decided to actually study the scriptures instead of pick-your-own lessons. I got Genesis Chapter 6 which is the big build up to the Flood. In preparing for the lesson, I learned a lot more than I guess I really wanted to. According to the LDS Old Testament Institute Manual, the wickedness front and center was the "sons of God marrying the daughters of men" and "the daughters of sons of God marrying the sons of men" and visa versa. In a nutshell no one was marrying in the covenant, and the children born from these marriages were not being raised in the gospel. President Joseph Felding Smith and President Spencer W. Kimball were very straight forward about this being a problem in our time as well.

This relates to Jacob from the Book of Mormon because he says in effect I don't wanna have to say this, but I'm gonna have to say this, and you aren't gonna like it, but here I go.

The reason I felt that way is because well frankly here in our little corner of the LDS world, the ratio of single men to single women is about 8 to 1. And most of the women in this group would prefer to be married. There are a few exceptions. So do they accept a lonely life in exchange for not marrying out of the covenant or do they accept a son of man to at least have companionship with??? It's tougher to figure out than you might think. I know of three women who married outside the church and three who married men who were baptized. All six are currently in very difficult circumstances. The two of the three who married non members are now less active with children who either are not or were not raised in the church. And those children lead the world's way of life. One married a non member much later in life, and has to make choices regarding callings and church meetings based on his requests. The other three married men who were baptized but apparently not converted as all three have left the church and yes took their families with them so to speak. One comes faithfully to church but is not allowed to participate much nor can her children participate beyond coming now and again. The heartache is huge. And I lost two friends that were my pillars of support in my early church years.

The Lord saw the torment of His children making unwise choices in marriage and how deeply it affected generations to come. The wickedness increased until eventually of course there was only Noah and his family. It was a hard lesson to give, because I know many of these single sisters, their story, and their loneliness. And I myself can be terribly lonely at times. None of us really want to be alone at times. I only could end on a positive note that while these things are true, it is also true that the Spirit can guide us in our choices about companionship. And sometimes a son of man can become with a bit of support a son of God. I've seen that happen too!!!

Dec 1, 2014

Everything For A Reason

By Claire Enos

Recently, it came to my attention, that the saying/belief that everything happens for a reason is as true as it can get. I could write a novel on decisions I made and how they led me to where I am right now, all happening within the last three years or so. This all really struck home as I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer last night. It was part one of the season 2 finale and I was distracted emailing people and trying to write blog posts. All of a sudden, these words penetrated my concentration and I ended up looking them up.

"Bottom line is even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what, are we helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come, can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean."

You know, it really is these moments that show us who we are. What we choose to do with what we are handed in life really shows who we are and who we want to be.

With that, have an amazing week.


Nov 28, 2014

Black Friday and Christmas Decor

by Marsha Ward

Today is supposed to be the day when merchants finally get into the black on their financial books.

You may have noticed that many stores started their Black Friday sales a week early. I'm told that is because the economy has been so bad that desperate times call for early sales to attract customers . . . and money, to make Black Friday really mean businesses are "in the black."

I say good luck to them all. I'm just glad I'm not out in the mess.

I don't pretend to have any fashion sense or decorating skills. However, I've felt for a while that I should make some attempt to decorate my outdoors for Christmas. Here is my attempt. It took me two hours to get two strings of lights attached to my porch railing, and although I had thought to put lights on my deck railing, my muscles and I have thought better of that plan. Therefore, this is all it is, folks. I have a wreath for the door, which I will put up when I'm less racked with pain.

Speaking of pain, I'm nursing a sore left arm. I was given a medicine that I was not told could have a side affect of tendons snapping! This earned the medication a "black box warning" due to having a potential complication so dire that the next step up would be an FDA-mandated pulling from the market.

Of course I didn't know any of this until AFTER I took the medicine, and AFTER I hefted several heavy boxes full of books at an event at the end of October, and AFTER I saw a newscast that mentioned the "black box warning." My left arm has been sore ever since the event.

Whether my tendons actually snapped or stretched, or what, I'm not sure. The upshot is that I have suffered quite a lot of pain in my left arm, which restricts my ability to type. I hope to get help for the problem this coming week. Enough is enough, but I'm hoping to be told "the body will heal itself with this or that assistance," not an "oooo, immediate surgery is indicated" sort of diagnosis. Please wish me luck!

Nov 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I can't decide what triggers more feelings of coziness and delight and sweet memories - the heavenly scent of fresh bread and rolls just out of the oven or the savory aroma of a stuffed turkey roasting in a bed of onions and garlic and all the other stuff that makes it so yummy. Of course, if I were to open a debate, I would feel negligent if I left out the sweet fragrance of cakes and pies and puddings cooling on the counter, tempting fingers young and old to snitch a little taste. What I do know for certain - I am blessed beyond measure.

Last week presented me with a number of challenges - you know, stuff like our cars and appliances joining some kind of "modern conveniences union" and going on strike all at the same time. The week ended with both my husband and son going out of town and leaving me home alone with our psycho cat and a phone that only now and then charged enough to turn on and check for messages. Feeling sorry for myself, I sat in front of my computer - which did work, thank goodness - and consoled myself with a dinner of left over pizza and Lindt chocolate. Scrolling through Facebook, my thoughts turned to friends and how they have blessed my life. My first world problems transformed into opportunities to feel and express gratitude.

When my husband returned home Sunday evening, he gave me a new bag for my scriptures and journal and all the other writing stuff I tend to carry around. As I cleaned out my old bag, I came across several personal notes and cards from friends and family -  sweet words of comfort and thanksgiving that lifted my spirits yet again as I read them and thought about the angels who wrote them. So, here is the purpose of this post today: Never hesitate to say "thank you" or speak or write a kind word. It doesn't take a lot of time, just a moment or two - but the affect can be eternal.

Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for letting me share my little thoughts with you every other Thursday for the past seven (eight?) years. Thank you for always being there when I've needed encouragement and love. I hope this holiday season brings you lots and lots of everything that fills your heart with joy.


Nov 22, 2014

A Fun Writing Lesson - Deepening Your Character

by Cindy R. Williams

"You must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you.  --Ray Bradberry
'riting is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia --I.L. Doctorow

These two quotes have nothing to do with what this post is about other than as a writer, I think they are fun.

In my last ANWA Chapter meeting, Joyce Horstmann, had us fill in a "Deepen Your Character" sheet. Many of us have done numerous character lists in order to flesh out our characters. This list had two questions that I hadn't seen before; What is a "Known secret?" and what is an "Unknown secret?"

Hummmmm . . . interesting. I loved these two questions!

In my case, my dragon's known secret is that he is remarkable because he is the youngest dragon to earn his "Winders Warrant" which is akin to a human getting his drivers license. He is also great ancient dragon magic, something that is no longer common in dragons. This is not generally known, but I do make sure the reader knows this.

The unknown secret is one that I cannot share here. Not that it is racy or anything-- since I choose to write wholesome things--but if I share it, it will be like telling you the end of the movie and ruining it all.

There was a beauty to these two questions.They are not simple. I found that by being asked to think about the answers helped me clarify the entire plot of my book.

Give it a try.

What is your character's known secret?

What is your character's unknown secret?

Nov 19, 2014

The Wet-Sponge-Headed Marionette Rears Its Ugly Wet Head

by Andilyn Jenkins

Sometimes my brain feels like a saturated sponge. Tasks, conversations, reminders, text messages, ideas pour over it and then pool around it until they start dripping on the floor.

Sometimes my eyes close when I ask them not to, like the mall.

Drip. Drip.

Sometimes I feel like a string connects my jaw, neck, and shoulders and throughout the day, the rope cinches tighter and tighter until I can’t open my mouth and my shoulders are touching my ears.

Sometimes I feel like my hands can handle any abuse. They endure washing, scraping, pulling, tickling, patting, carrying, typing, texting, stirring, drumming, cracking, scratching, cleaning, clapping . . .

Sometimes my knees drip. feel like drop. achy knees.

. . . rubbing, wiping, sealing, folding, zipping, fixing, pushing, holding . . .

Sometimes my feet feel like cold Slinkys—the further I stretched them, the more knotted the muscles became.

* * *

Sometimes I feel like a wet-sponge-headed marionette with diamonds for hands and a wonky spring in my step trying to go shopping at 9:01 p.m. in slippers.

My mom says some days are just like that. Even in Australia.


Nov 18, 2014

Life can change in an instant

by Terri Wagner

Big changes are in store for my family and me. Not sure just yet how they will affect my blogging time, we will have to see. Over 15 years ago, my father divorced his second wife in what must have been the most amicable divorce of all time excepting Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. We were all a bit sad as we loved her, and felt their divorce was more about stepping up to take care of children/grandchildren than a lessening of affection for one another. They both had children from first marriages that were stumbling into dark places that took their time and efforts away from each other. I was much older when they married, and soon moved off to Virginia. So I really did not know my stepmom as well as my other siblings.

Fast forward 15 years, and you have a great grandchild without a responsible mom or dad, and absentee grandparents. Epitomizing their generation, my father and this wife are stepping up to the plate, remarrying, and adopting this three year old. They will move into the house dad and I have been living in for the past three years. I will be moving out to the trailer on the property. So my Internet access may be limited. We live in a spotty access area, with an only and at best third-rate provider. Getting access through a long-range router from the house to the trailer has never worked well. Suffice it to say, I may only have access when I walk on over to the "big" house, LOL.

It will be a culture shock for me. I've been taking care of dad for so long now, I just assumed it would end when he moved on the "big" house in the sky. I salute this 81 and 78 year old for stepping up to care for this beautiful little girl. I hope she remains a part of my life for many years to come.

I should probably add this is proof no one should give up on marriage. It does mean I will be freer in different ways than before, and limited in other ways. I am grateful we have been frugal (that's thanks to my dad more than me), and can afford to not only provide assistance, but have extra to decorate. Finally, a place of my own that I can decorate totally and only for me. Well not so fast, to make this transition as financially painless as possible, we settled for a small trailer without any custom additions. So I'm kinda stuck with light brown walls, brown fake wood floors, brown/blue countertops made I'm sure out of some sort of plastic. So my cream and blue beachy decor may have to wait until I again take possession of the "big" house.

It hasn't all happened yet, but by next year, I will be in really weird place I never saw coming. Not to mention the dogs. Wonder how they will take to the pack sorta breaking up as it were. Still I am really excited to see my dad happy. Wives provide a companionship a daughter just can't. I'm happy for her because she needed help building a future for her little great granddaughter. And again they are providing a sterling example of what family does and is.

Nov 17, 2014

Writing and Beach Trips with Besties

By Claire Enos

The coast from behind the suites we were staying in. Those
buildings are the other buildings at our resort.
Ahhhh the life of a young single adult! This weekend, I got to visit the Oregon Coast with a couple of my best friends. They are writers as well and we got to hang out and write and just be together which rarely happens. We didn't get much actual writing done (which was the whole reason for the weekend at the coast) but we did get to talk about writing, and get inspiration from the ocean, and do some role playing to help us get into writing again.

Top left: Katie, Kiara, and I
Top right: Kiara and I pose on the beach
Bottom left: Kiara and I kissing the whale statue!
Bottom right: Kiara, Katie, and I on the beach
Because of this weekend, I now have a new goal for myself. My goal is to get into the habit of writing every single day no matter what. I read this quote somewhere: "Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until not writing makes you anxious." I plan to use that as my inspiration for writing every day. It doesn't matter if I'm working on a blog or on a manuscript, as long as I write for at least twenty minutes a day.

I am so glad I got to spend this time with my besties and that we were able to have so much fun. And who knows, maybe one day we'll write the story we started together. If you might be interested in reading some awesome blog posts by the three of us, I will hopefully soon be debuting a new blog I call "Operation Tiger Stripes" featuring the creative and awe inspiring writings of Katie, Kiara, and ME!

Love you all!


This is my favorite from the weekend!

Nov 15, 2014

November, My Thankful Month

November has always been a thankful month for me. This year is no different. I have so many things to be grateful for I can't count them. (And I won't bore you with all of them.)

The gratitude feelings I want to share today are for my writer and blogger friends. I remember going to a writing workshop a few years ago and hearing the presenter say she had made so many great friends on line. I thought to myself, that may work for others but not for me. I'm older than most of the writers here, and I'm not very good on my computer. And the younger women will make good friends, but there's no one 'more mature' like me out there.

Well, several years later, I have come to find out I was wrong on both counts. I have gotten a lot better on the computer (because my kids and dear friends teach me how to get around in this electronic world.) But more importantly, I have made some wonderful friends—friends I will have for life. 

Some of them work in the temple just like me.
Some of them get discouraged just like me.
Some of them take a break once in a while just like me.
Some of them change genre's just like me.
Some of them are in my weekly critique group, and we will love each other to the end.
Some of them like to go to lunch just like me.
Some of them enjoy book signings just like me.
Some of them are dedicated wonderful bloggers, and I admire them a lot.
Some of them are just ordinary people like me.

In short, all of them are friends, and I will love them to the end. All of you have opened up a new world of friendship and caring that I never expected to find. Thanks for enriching my life and making it better than I ever dreamed it could be.

Happy Thankful November to each of you. Lots of love, Christy

Nov 14, 2014

Downtime Decompression

by Marsha Ward

I recently released a novel, one that took me two years to write and publish. Of course I wasn't writing solidly for two years, but with intensive research and several drafts, not to mention the publishing side of the equation, traveling to conferences and workshops, and life in general, it was a long two years.

Now I'm in a sort of downtime lull before I begin another work of long-form fiction. I need time to decompress from the stress and focus of the completed task before I begin another like process.

I've had people ask me what I do between writing novels. The first thing I do is take a couple of weeks to recover. No writing. Plenty of recreational reading. Sleeping in.

But that can't last forever. When I'm tired of being a lazy lout, what do I do?

I write shorter fiction. Much shorter, like six thousand words or fewer. I have three stories in the works right now.

Or I write poetry. It's a totally different discipline of writing.

Or I think. I collect my thoughts. I let ideas swirl around in my mind, mulling over grand "what if's" for a new work.

Or I analyze and plan. What methods of publicity for my works are best? Should I up my quarterly e-newsletter to six times a year? Should I learn more about using Goodreads? Spend less time on Facebook? More?

Since my books typically come out in the last part of calendar years, a new year is right around the bend, so another thing I do is try to figure out my calendar of projects and travel for the following year: How can I juggle writing and production with traveling to events? What conferences will I attend? Should I make a box set of my novels? What awards will I seek? Will I make the deadlines? How can I make my website more useful? What did I leave undone this year that should be put on next year's list of projects? Do I have enough inventory of books? Too much? Should I consider cutting back on travel and/or memberships in writing associations? What is my most effective time of day to write? Why am I not on Wikipedia?

Whoa! Enough with the questions. They could take over my life. It may be time to start writing a new novel.

What do you do with your downtime?

Nov 13, 2014

Be Enthusiastic!

by Kari Diane Pike

A couple of years ago, I set a goal to increase my physical health. Our daughter Kati encouraged me to train and participate in her neighborhood 10K as part of my fitness goal. My initial response was "Ummm..NO." Why would a fifty-something, overweight grandma wog, sweat, and crawl for six-and-a-half miles? Not to mention suffer public humiliation. I blogged about my decision to sign up here. Despite my fears, I ran and finished that race standing on both feet and I will never forget the smile on my grandson's face as he cheered,
Yay, Grandma! You did it...and you didn't even come in last!
Last week, my husband and I made a trip to Marana to help tend grandkids while Kati and her husband Chris hosted this year's Gladden Farms 10K and Half Marathon. I missed the start of the race, but I stood at the finish line as the runners started coming in. Memories of my own race flooded back. I remembered the heat, sweat, thirst, fatigue, pain, numbness, despair, hope, and jubilation. I could relate to the effort these runners had put into achieving their goal and I rejoiced for and with them. They inspired me to renew not only my fitness goals, but my life goals. And I wondered - why had I let my enthusiasm for those goals slip away in the first place?

If you spend any time on Facebook, you've seen at least one or two or a half-million video clips of free-spirited little tykes dancing and singing just for the pure joy in it.

Little children love life. They are filled with enthusiasm. Did you know that the Greek and Latin origins of the word enthusiasm mean "Inspired from God," "Having God within," or "Divinely inspired"? Children's hearts are filled with pure love and the way they so freely share  that joy is demonstrated by their guileless expressions. 

Sometime during my growing up years, I let the fear of what others might think crowd out my passions - the things I feel most inspired by and enthusiastic about...the things I love.  I realize now that I've been letting that fear hold me back from writing and sharing the things of my heart.

Yesterday, I came across an essay in LDS Living magazine that tells about the author's experience in a church congregation where one member sang the hymns very loudly - and very badly. While it bothered her at first, the author described how she grew in understanding. The closing lines of her essay read: time his voice inspired others to sing out. Instead of spending more time worrying that others might hear our less-than-perfect voices, we focused on raising our voices in praise to Him. Thanks to this brother who was unafraid to share his voice, in turn, many others found theirs. ~Erin Hallstrom, LDSLiving, Nov/Dec 2014, pg14
 When someone asks me, "How are you?", I usually respond with "I'm happy." I'm going to change that. Next time, I'm going to say, "I'm enthusiastic!" And I'm going to use that enthusiasm, that inspiration from God, to share my voice and hopefully help others do the same.

What are you enthusiastic about?


Nov 8, 2014

Miracles of Missions

by Cindy R. Williams

We are told share our talents. We seek after things of good report. In an attempt to do both, allow me to share with you two mission miracles.

Four years ago, our oldest son served a mission in Cuiaba Brazil. While he was away, we had a flood on the main floor of our home. Long story short, there was enough money in the insurance settlement to buy enough tile to cover the entire main floor, even though the only about 1/3 of the floor was damaged--that is if we provided all the labor ourselves.

We did, and now have some lovely tile. We have often referred to this as the "Tile Trial" because at the time, the carpet was about 15 years old and in need of replacing, but with the recession, there wasn't a penny to rub together, yet we were blessed with this lovely new tile floor.

Our second son is now serving in the Texas Dallas Mission. About two months ago, the big 100 year storm hit us hard. Oddly enough, the upstairs of our home, the master bedroom in particular, flooded. The insurance settlement this time was enough to install top of the line hardwood flooring not only in the damaged bedroom, but the other two bedrooms, walk-in closets, landing, staircase and even the formal front room. That is if we provided the labor ourselves.

I visited with our oldest son, now attending BYU-Provo, about how interesting it was that we had two floods, one while each boy was out on their missions that has resulted in all new flooring through-out the entire house. He thought we were pretty clever to figure out how to have floods just where we needed new carpet.

Of course,  we could not even have begun to make something like this happen on purpose. But as we talked more about both situations, we came to the realization that with the cost of the flooring, plus what it would have cost to pay for the labor for installation the total for the new flooring each time would have equaled $12,000. The cost to equip and send out a missionary for two years is the same amount.

Our Heavenly Father blessed by giving us back all the money spent on our sons for their missions.

We are so humbled. How our Father knows and loves us.

I wonder what blessings the Lord has in store for us when our third son goes on his mission?

Nov 5, 2014

Aaron, I Miss You When You're Gone Because . . .

by Andilyn Jenkins

We’ve been there. The girls are together, and one person mentions a negative quality about her husband and three other women laugh and rush in on their personal anecdotes, describing the smell, habit, or argument in colorful detail. We’ve tried laughing so we don’t look haughty but not adding to the conversation. We’ve tried changing the subject. We’ve tried negating their comments with a positive anecdote about our husbands. And sometimes we fall into the fun and add our (or should I say, “his”) story. All attempts leave us feeling like we’re a) chicken, b) unsympathetic, c) a show-off, or d) cheap.

No more.

Tonight, I want to brag, brag, brag about my husband. I’m going to leave out all smelly habits, pet peeves, and annoyances. Aaron and I have them. Just like you. But our relationship gains nothing by putting our most recent arguments on display for others’ amusement or critique.

After I’m done, I want you to add to it. Take advantage of this opportunity and the month of gratitude by posting here or on Facebook or in a text to your spouse five things (at LEAST) about your honey that you miss when he/she is gone. I look forward to reading yours.

  • You kill the spiders. (This made the list first because you’re sleeping, and a little bug just tried to cozy up next to me on the couch.)
  • Your jokes never get old.
  • You work hard for our family.
  • Our kids get crazy happy when you come home.
  • Evelyn thinks you can fix anything—and she’s usually right.
  • You clean the toilets.
  • You go to the store ten minutes before dinner because I forgot to buy cheese.
  • You love my chocolate chip cookies.
  • You encourage and support me in everything I want to take on.
  • You actually look at my fingernails after I paint them and conjure up an opinion on them because you know I care, even if you don’t.
  • Same goes for hairstyles, clothing choices, jewelry selections, etc.
  • You don’t care about my fingernails, hairstyles, clothing choices, jewelry selections, etc. because the subtle differences don’t change the “me” you’re in love with.
  • (Awe man, the little bug came back after I flicked it away. And it WAS a spider. Right now, you’re grateful for your loving wife who didn’t wake you up. I squished it with my bare hands. I'm going to have nightmares.)
  • You make the best salmon, ribs, steak, roast, and hamburgers I’ve ever tasted. Remind me why we eat at restaurants?
  • You cook dinner every Sunday.
  • You pinch my bum when I'm cooking.
  • You call your parents at least once a week.
  • You listen to me talk and talk and talk and talk AND TAAALK (anyone else singing “Pioneer Children”?)
  • You value my advice and counsel.
  • You introduce me to all the new, awesome music.
  • You update me on world news because I can’t be bothered to turn it on.
  • You tiptoe around the bathroom getting ready in the morning so you don’t wake me.
  • You let me sleep in 99.9% of the time (and I’m going to continue holding you to this statistic.)
  • You’re my sounding board.
  • We support each other’s faith and devotion to serving God.
  • When I’m not killing spiders with my bare hands and wrestling babies, you make me feel dainty.
  • You’re my tech support.
  • You tell me I’m great when I get zero kills but only die twice in Call of Duty.
  • You love spending time with my family.
  • No matter the space or time, you’re there for me and the kids.
  • You’re proud of me.
  • You’re my children’s super hero.
  • You’re my best friend.
  • I love you.