Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hope as a Rope


By Susan Knight
 
I just had the best blessing tonight from my new home teacher. I felt like I was getting a patriarchal blessing. I’m sure he was totally influenced by the Spirit and I said to myself, as his hands were on my head, “This is the way I want to live. I want to be worthy to receive all these blessings that are mine.”

He spoke of “Hope as a Rope.” He said to use the rope of hope to lift myself out of the low places and to climb up high to the sunshine.
 

I could picture myself being inspired to do it. I also need to have faith in our Savior. He will lead me and guide me. He should be Number One in my life.
 
I know my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me each time I receive a Priesthood Blessing. It becomes even more powerful when I pray ahead of time to ask the Lord to tell me, in the blessing, what He thinks I should be hearing, learning, then doing.

I implore everyone to get these blessings as much as possible. What is the priesthood for, if not to help us in our struggles and times of need and comfort? My home teacher spoke, not only of the reason why I asked for a blessing, but of all that could be mine if I have patience and hope, and have faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ.
 
I feel better already.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Eternal Families

by Terri Wagner

When I took the church discussions in..er..long time ago LOL, the missionaries came to the eternal family discussion. Looking back, I am quite sure they were quite sure this one would go over well. So far, I had fought them (as in prove it to me) on nearly everything. I was 17, my sister was 13, ripe ages to daydream about forever families. That was not my reaction...it is still not my favorite gospel teaching.

It nearly drove me screaming into the night. They never knew just how dysfunctional my family was or how I felt about it deep down. I could hardly stand to be around any of them for any length of time, and just how often I counted the days until I could get away from them. To tell me I could be with my family forever was akin to a death penalty to me. And as for loving some guy for forever, nope, passing on that one. I mean really how would I possibly know at say 20 this is the guy I wanted for eternity. Are you kidding me?!

Fast forward a few years, my reaction had not changed in the slightest. If anything, it had grown much stronger. I was miles and miles away from family, surrounded by the best of friends, and happy. Even being single. As my friends made their choices, I found myself thinking, you know I envy her the chance to get married, but I wouldn't want him.

For a long time, I decided to just get married and have kids, and then some time later down the road get sealed. That seemed a much better prospect. And there are times when I wonder why I didn't just go for that one. I lost out on having children, and that pains more than I can ever say. I can only hope Heavenly Father will somehow make that right for me. He did assure once years ago when I was depressed about it, that He knew I would have accepted children and so it was counted as if I did.

Course that brought us back to the whole companion thing. Years went by, guys went by, friends got married, had children, family remained miles away, and although I was lonely, it was not lonely enough to change the status quo. I asked for a blessing, received one assuring me I would marry. And I just tucked it away and never bothered finding out what I needed to do. I just didn't want to make that kind of decision. It seemed so well final.

Fast forward to today. I was asked to teach a lesson on eternal families. I thought to myself totally wrong person. Don't know, don't want to, never got over that feeling of gasp eternity. But when I prayed about the lesson, and pondered its message, I began to see something I really never bothered seeing...that we don't "get" eternal families, we "make" them. I truly wish I had accepted and understood this concept long before now. Somehow it feels exactly right.

It is starting to ice up, and school has been closed for today and tomorrow. Guess I'd better get this out while I can. Another day I will write about I am learning to "make" an eternal family with the family I have. Share your experiences.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bring On the Rain

By Claire Enos

"Tomorrow's another day,
And I'm thirsty anyway...
So bring on the rain!" (Jo Dee Messina, Country Singer)
I know I've talked about rain before. It's the best feeling in the world, especially after the heat of summer. When it's been hot, and then a cool rain comes and you can literally taste it in your mouth, smell it with your nose. That's the best feeling. Seeing the rainbow that is God's promise after that long awaited rain storm. Rain is a glorious thing.

What is your favorite thing about the rain? Literally and metaphorically?

Have an amazing day,

<3Claire

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Forgiveness


by Christy Monson



My mother's cancer grew worse--her pain continued round the clock. The hospice nurse wanted to prescribe medication that would last more than four hours so she could sleep through the night. The doctor was on vacation so the nurse had to check with the on-call doctor. Medication was delivered by the pharmacy the next day--a heavy narcotic. Mother took the pills for a day and a half, but they made her so sick she had to quit taking them.  The nausea and dry heaves from the pills continued after she stopped the medication--one week, two weeks, three weeks, and then a month.
I felt frantic. She couldn't eat anything without throwing up. Now confined to her bed, she grew weaker and weaker. Helpless, I sat by her bed day after day and night after night, watching her throw up bile, unable to do anything for her.

I was angry. Who could I blame? The doctor on vacation? No. It wasn't his fault. The on call doctor? No. He didn't know that my mother was opiate naive. The hospice nurse? He was just trying to do his job. Who then?
"Let it go," my mother urged.
"I can't stand to see you suffer like this," I said.
When the doctor returned from vacation, he tried everything he knew to relieve the nausea. He finally found a topical medication that eased the sickness a little. I sat by my mother's side to spread the cream the minute she felt queasy.
I was still angry.
I got a cold. I ran across a magazine article that cited a study that reported that forgiveness leads to better health. I needed to let go. I already knew that spiritual peace and blessings come from forgiving others.
Joseph Smith forgave others. George Q. Cannon said of him, "Joseph was ever merciful to the weak and the erring . . . he acted with so much tenderness and justice that he won the love of all." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Joseph Smith, 392)
President Kimball said, "If there be misunderstandings, clear them up. forgive and forget." (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball, 91)
"Let it go," my mother said again in the middle of an intense dry-heave session.
How could I do that? I began with:
1.      Prayer
2.      Humility
3.      Scripture study
4.      Journaling
These things eased my feelings some, but the most helpful thing I did was go back to keeping a gratitude journal. 

That had helped me in the past, and it was my salvation in this situation. As I wrote each day, I could see the hand of the Lord blessing me and my mother in her final months. I was filled with peace. I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation for my blessings. As I let go, I realized the amount of negative energy I had allowed into my life.
I want to say I'll never be angry like that again, but I can never be sure about myself. It could happen down the road, but I know the path out now and will not forget it. If I find myself in the situation again, I can walk beyond it. This is my greatest gift
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, January 24, 2014

Yes, Now is a Great Time to be a Writer

by Marsha Ward

Today has been an odd day. I finally got enough sleep, but it has delayed significantly other parts of my existence.

However, one thing I came across struck me as quite profound, and with which I agree wholeheartedly.

That is this blog post from Kristen Lamb's insightful blog, We Are Not Alone: Why Now is the Best Time to be a Writer. It's a guest post by Jessica Baverstock, and addresses five areas that have affected the rise of self-publishing.

Those are Community, Common Goals, New Methods to Get Our Writing Out There, Ergonomics, and Online Research.

The Community cited in the post is WANA, or MyWANA, an organization Kristen founded to bring writers together. The initials stand for We Are Not Alone. Substitute your own awesome writing community.

What are other conditions that have brought about the rise of self-, indie-, or whatever you want to call the DIY publishing movement?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Greater Vision

by Kari Diane Pike

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about learning how to see life experiences in different ways - remember: Change your words, change your world! Pondering on those concepts opened my eyes to even greater vision.

My mom developed a high fever and rigors - not a good sign when you are in the middle of chemo treatments - and ended up in the hospital. My dad needed transportation and someone with hearing ears to accompany him to consult with his eye doctor about his need for cataract surgery. A close friend started preparing for her upcoming stem cell transplant. Spending hours driving back and forth gave me lots of time to worry.

Fortunately, all that driving also gave me lots of time to talk to Heavenly Father. I do a great deal of praying while I'm driving (for reasons on multiple levels, of course). On one of those trips taking Dad back to the hospital to visit mom, the Spirit opened my eyes once again. As we exited the freeway and drove up the incline onto the overpass, my field of vision changed from being blocked by concrete walls to being able to see for miles.

I thought about how being raised up enabled me to see a bigger picture. I could see the grid work of streets and avenues. I could see "the city plan." My perspective of where I was abruptly changed. Then I thought about the Savior and how He judges us based on who and where we really are. He can see the whole picture. Heavenly Father sent us to live on earth because He sees the whole. He knows all and He knows us and He loves us. He sent His Son to atone for us and to redeem us. Jesus Christ showed us how to pattern our lives. The Holy Ghost guides us and shows us the higher road and lifts us enough to give us glimpses of that "bigger picture."

I want to live my life in such a way that I can always be on that higher ground and see "the great plan." I came across a quote last week that has been life altering:

Are my actions today moving me closer to where I want to be tomorrow?

With all the stress, I struggled to take care of myself the way I needed to in order to maintain my health. I turned to sugar and processed foods for comfort. I didn't drink enough water and I didn't get enough sleep. As a result, I started feeling miserable. I wrote that quote on an index card and taped it to the front of my computer. I told Heavenly Father about how I was feeling and what I needed spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I asked Him to help me get to where I needed to be in order to serve and care for my family and friends. 

Pondering that question has affected every area in my life. When I started to complain that my husband hung a picture crooked, I realized that complaining wouldn't add strength to our relationship tomorrow. When I stood in line at the grocery store and stared at those yummy bags of Reese's Minis, I thought about my goal to be physically stronger tomorrow. When Netflix tempted me with another episode of my current favorite show, I understood that less than five hours of sleep would not leave me with enough energy to make the best choices the next day.

Questioning my actions in this manner enables me to let go of what doesn't matter and motivates me to pursue the things that do!

I suppose my next question should be: What am I writing today that will help me be the kind of writer I want to be tomorrow?

hugs~
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rejecting Rejection

by H. Linn Murphy

I just got a rejection slip for FIRETHORN, one of my YA books I have out in the "Pubosphere." When I first saw the email, I thought, Outstanding! They finally wrote to tell me they love my book.

But that wasn't the case. For a reason undisclosed, my poor Karry stands in the grove of trees near her house, reading the letter which tells her she is still a partial orphan. I wonder if it's just not well enough written, or if the timing is off. Possibly the planets are out of alignment. Maybe the slush pile lady had low blood sugar that day. For whatever it's worth, I still have someone who wants to look at it, but the poignant sting is still there. I feel like that pimply-faced wall-hugger from my youth who got picked last at the stake dance.


The thing is, there is no hard and fast rule about how to get someone to fall in love with your book, beyond a few helpful hints which I am here re-telling myself:
1. You need an outstanding story and a fresh way of telling it. Why not make Little Red Riding Hood a gun-toting midget? A lycanthrope (or however you spell it since my spell check isn't playing ball)? What if she actually gets eaten by the wolf and in the process gets shot into an alternate universe? The possibilities boggle.
2. Use editors and Beta readers who will be brave enough to tell you if you're making stupid mistakes and where to fix them.
3. Hone your craft to as close to sharp-edged brilliance as you can get it. Don't let yourself settle for dregs. You're better than that and you don't have the time to throw down trash, just as those poor denizens of the slush pile don't have time to read it.
4. Ask a question. It may not be necessary to answer it. Perhaps the reader will need to do that. But to be really good you have to tell the truth of the story. No cheap fakes. The quest for that truth will lead you to a story worth having.
5. Pay attention to the trends but not become a slave to them. I suppose it's like surfing. You need to find a great wave and have the great good luck to stay on your feet as you "shoot the tube", but trying to ride it into the sand will only get you a sand burn. (I am here remembering a whole panel of editors and agents admonishing, "No more dead girls!")

6. Remember that L. Frank Baum got something like 36 rejection slips before he got someone who would publish THE WIZARD OF OZ. I believe it was James Patterson who had slips in the fifties for his first. Suicide or gorging on massive amounts of ice cream aren't options for one or two measly dump papers. They can actually be a badge of honor if you work it right.
7. Chin up. There is always the Self-pub route. You may even like it better than traditional publishing for various reasons including control.

So I'm going to bite the bullet and send my baby out into the glaring light of the cold, hard world once more, like taking my daughter to the airport as she left for college and the Great Beyond. Someone will love a half-wooden girl named Karyatis. It'll be interesting to see who the book marries.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Life Motto's With a Smile

by Cindy R. Williams
I didn't write this thought or make this cute ketchki or whatever you call it, but it sure explains a lot.
This is my new 2014 motto.
Happy New Year!
 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What Would You Do?


By Susan Knight

 

I have some of my best ideas while I’m in the shower. I think of 10 things to write about for this post. When I sit down to write, magically, they are gone from my memory, like a dream that flashes and fades.

Some of my better thoughts happen while I’m driving. I tell myself I know I will think of them again because they are too good to forget. When I sit down to write, tragically, they cannot be found.

Luckily, when I’m at work, I can send myself an email with thoughts I have during payroll deadline or calendar scheduling. My right brain makes leaps and bounds into the territory of my left brain at random times at work. I let it come, if I’m not in a meeting taking minutes and have to concentrate.

This post is something I’ve been thinking about for quite awhile and I’m not sure how to iterate it.

At the end of the year, or during the Academy Awards, there is always a memorial section to fete those who have crossed through the veil. I think to myself, what would they have done differently if they knew they were going to die this year?

I ask myself that question, too, but it seems futile to think about. I have to work to support myself. I can’t not work.

We were born to work. Adam and Eve were given instructions to labor. I’m not afraid to figuratively sweat and I’m good at what I do at the office. But my job makes me totally reside in my left-brain. It’s completely different from when I was a reporter and spent my whole day and night in my right mind (s.m.i.l.e.y.), with brief forays into research, which I later applied to writing. I admit, I do miss that feeling. It takes me hours to be able to sit down to write in the evening, and then it’s time to go to bed.

(FYI, newspaper reporting would not support me now, nor would my teaching Community Ed as I did part-time before I moved to Utah. My job as an office coordinator is just enough to pay my bills, and I’m thankful to have it.)

I came across a poll at AdminProToday and thought I would put it out there.

What would you do if you won, or were given, or inherited enough money to stop working?

Would you quit your job entirely (assuming, like me, you work for a living)?

Would you quit your current job and do something else entirely?

Would you quit working for pay and volunteer your time?

Would you stay status quo?

What do you think?
 
I realize most of the readers here aren't office workers or outside-of-home workers as I am, so this might be a vain musing. Maybe I'm just helping myself think about it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Consider

by Terri Wagner

A friend suggested I read Philippians 4:6-7 with all the LDS footnotes available and answer this question: Is this why the church continues to admonish us to be happy, don't worry, plow forward?

Interesting isn't it? How many of us are truly well and happy?! In some ways, yes I am. But when I contemplate the state of the world, and my country in particular, I'm not feeling the joy. I feel more like Mormon. He saw the end of his people, the literal end and the spiritual end, and could do nothing much but try to defend them knowing it was not going to work. I want to be like him. Strong, courageous, fight-to-the-end kind of person. And fortunately I am wired that way. But I also keep thinking, we are better than this. We have so much to help us get and stay on track. How can we be so blind? Collectively speaking now.

I keep cringing thinking one day someone will say to me: you had the wisdom of the ages, the fullness of the gospel, all at your fingertips, and still you could not get it right?! And I can only hang my head in shame. Again collectively not individually.

This past December when I read the Book of Mormon in a month, I started thinking about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis also known as the Ammonities. If I read it correctly, they never strayed once they had accepted the gospel. So even though the Nephities fell, they didn't. In fact at one point it mentions they even prospered. So it can be done!

So I present the challenge to you. How do we stay upbeat and positive watching our world fall apart? Any ideas?

Monday, January 13, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now...

By Claire Enos

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. It's gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day!"

If you haven't heard the above song, I must insist you listen to it before you read on. Or maybe while you read this blog post! Go look it up, it's called: I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash.

As you all know, it's a brand new year! Life is moving forward and things are getting crazy hectic, but it's wonderful. This year my new year's resolution (I just decided) is to write a blog post a week using a song to express my feelings and my life at that moment in time. I will switch off every other week between this blog and my personal blog, so on the weeks I don't post on this blog I will post on my personal blog which you can find on the right side of the page. Just click on "Between the Lines of Life" under Team Member's Blogs and it'll take you there!

So, this week I clearly chose to use "I Can See Clearly Now" for my theme song. I chose this song because it clearly expresses my thoughts. This song is important to me because it's a song my friend loves to sing when she is feeling happy and renewed. I love the song because it conveys so well the feeling we have when we've just gone through a big trial and we are working on becoming better and learning from our past mistakes.

This is my thought for the next year: I am going to try to be a better person. Grow more spiritually. Learn more about myself. Learn to think for myself and not let others push their thoughts and feelings on me. Learn to stand up for myself. I know that this is a lot to accomplish in 12 short months, but I hope by addressing them in myself I will be more observant to my actions throughout the next year and focus more on being an all around better person to those around me and to myself.

My challenge to each of you this year is to focus more on yourselves. We all know what we need to change in ourselves to be better people, but it takes work. So rather than focusing on little things, focus on being a better person to yourself and to those around you and by doing that you will in turn get rid of other little habits of yours and create new better habits that will help you further yourself.

I love you all!

<3Claire

PS: I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. I'm working on doing better. I won't try to make up all my December posts, just the last one since it was around New Years Eve I posted pictures from my New Years Eve and a short thought. Hope you enjoy! Here it is.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Failure




I hate failure! It's the worst thing that can happen to me. I say this to myself when I haven't heard from the ten agents I queried about my latest picture book.

I love failure! It's the best thing that can happen to me. I say this to myself after the agents have ignored me because they don't want to represent my manuscript, and I've found five small presses that publish self-help books for children.

 Why does it take a negative like this to motivate me to further action? Diann Thomas has said No only means next. I keep this in mind and muddle on through the writing which I love to do and the marketing which I hate to do.

How do I get from the hate feelings to the love feelings?
lds.org

1.         I am not content with failure.
            My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with    your failure. Abraham Lincoln

2.         I will continue to try even though I fail.
            Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. Ben Franklin.

3.         Failure tells me know I'm going somewhere.
            Failures are the fingerposts on the road to achievement. C.S. Lewis

4.         I know I am getting closer to my goal, and I don't want to give up.
            Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success   then they gave up. Thomas A. Edison

5.         I must act successful even if I don't feel successful if I'm going to get anywhere.
            You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure. Zig Ziglar

6.         Finally, it isn't about failure and success at all, but the value of the concepts I write about.
            Try not to become a man of success, but try to become a man of value. A. Einstein.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bye Bye, 46 Cent Stamps

by Marsha Ward

The cost of postage stamps for letters is about to rise--again--but it's supposed to be a temporary price increase unless the rate of inflation catches up with it at the end of the two-year extension. The price will increase from the 2013 rate of $0.46 to $0.49 on January 26, 2014. The post card rate will also go up another cent. Highlights of the increased prices for single-piece First Class Mail include:
  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces — 1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents
An interesting feature of the new prices is that a 20-cent surcharge will be levied on packages that do not have an Intelligent Mail Package Barcode on the shipping label. In addition, a new First Class Letter rate called "Metered Mail" will cost one cent less than the regular price. This applies to letters and postcards imprinted from postage meters or online postage services.  

While I don't use a huge number of stamps except for Christmas card mailings (which I did not do last year), I like to keep a stock of stamps on hand for unforeseen needs. Therefore, I got myself to the post office to purchase a supply of Forever Stamps while they were still 46 cents.
 
My colorful stash
I was informed that all stamps are now Forever stamps, something I had not realized previously. Nice to know.  

Do you plan to purchase postage stamps before the price jump?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

That I Might See

By Kari Diane Pike

I came across a video posted by a friend on Face Book that blew me away.  A blind man sits on a piece of cardboard in a busy city square. Next to him is a hand written, cardboard sign. It says, "I'm blind. Please help." Once in awhile, a passerby will toss a coin or two at him. They don't even stop long enough to make sure the coins make it into the man's can. Eventually, a young woman stops in front of the blind man. She doesn't say anything. He reaches out and touches her shoes to try to identify her. She picks up his tattered sign, turns it over, and writes on it. Then she places the sign back next to the blind man and walks away without saying a word.

Now it seems that everyone who walks by the blind man tosses coins into his can. You can see the wonder and amazement on his face. Some time later, the young woman returns. Once again, she stands silently in front of the blind man. He reaches out and touches her shoes, as he did the first time she stopped. He recognizes who she is and asks, "What did you do to my sign?"

The young woman answers, "I wrote the same, but different words."

The blind man thanks the young woman, and as she walks away, the camera pans over to the sign which now says,

 "It's a beautiful day and I can't see it."

The very end of the video reads "Change your words. Change your world."

I could go on so many tangents dissecting the messages in that video! I searched scriptures on blind, blindness, and sight. And then there are words like enlighten, behold, callousness, obscurity, etc. I'll save you from a long discourse and just share a couple of quick thoughts that came to me as I studied.

The opposite of "blind" is "to see." Different ways to "see" include:
  • discover
  • understand or perceive with the mind
  •  to look at from a different perspective
  • to imagine as a possibility
  • to perceive with the eye
Doctrine and Covenants 123:12 teaches that many are kept from the truth "because they know not where to find it."  But there are answers all around me, if I will but open my eyes and my heart to them.

Isaiah prophesied that part of the Savior's mission included "recovering of sight to the blind" (Luke 4: 16-20). The Savior healed the blind as a way of showing His power to help me overcome spiritual blindness and "see" spiritual truths. When I murmur or complain about having to experience this or that, I am showing that I am blind to the purpose of the challenge. Just like Laman or Lemuel, I often don't understand the mind of the Lord. I need to open my spiritual eyes and recognize the Lord's hand in all things.

I know the Lord continues to help open our eyes. I have witnessed through the power of prayer how the Lord will send His Holy Spirit and awaken us to new perspectives. As a teenager, I struggled to communicate with my new step-father. Most of the time, it was my own short sightedness and pride. Sometimes it was more a matter of different perspectives of what really happened. Without boring you with details, I remember pouring my heart out to my Bishop one night as he took me home from babysitting his young children. When he stopped the car, he looked me in the eye and asked, "Have you prayed about this? Have you asked Heavenly Father to help you and your dad? I think you will find that as you ask the Lord for help, things will get better." I don't even remember the specifics of the problem, but I do remember that I prayed a good portion of the rest of the night. And I remember that the very next morning, my step-father's perspective had shifted 180 degrees. The Spirit testified to me that my dad not only heard, but heeded the message he was sent. His eyes, and mine, had been opened to great love and truth.

I love the scripture in Isaiah 11: 3-4 (2 Nephi 21: 3-4) where we learn that the Savior "shall not judge after the sight of His eyes...but with righteousness." The Lord  knows the intent and desires of my heart. He doesn't judge based on the way I appear, but on who I really am.

As someone who has made covenants at baptism to "always remember Him," I have the responsibility to open my eyes to the needs of others around me. I want to see others the way the Savior sees them, with love and kindness and a desire to uplift and enlighten.

I love Rob Gardner's "Lamb of God." In that production, Martha sings a song called "Make Me Whole." Here are the lyrics...but go listen to it, too. While you're at it...listen to the whole production. It opened my eyes, and I know it will touch your heart.

Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, which should come,
The Son of God,
But I do not understand…
Touch my eyes and bid them see
That my gaze might pierce the veil,
And behold the wondrous scene
That, in dreams, I’ve long beheld.
Oh, touch my heart and bid it know
That ev’ry sorrow here
Is but a moment’s tear,
And Thou wilt make me whole again.
Touch my ears and bid them hear
All the glory of Thy truth,
That my hope might come of faith
And no more require proof.
Oh, touch my heart and bid it know
That, while in darkness here,
The Light is ever near,
And Thou wilt make me whole again.
Then touch my lips and bid them sing
Songs of everlasting praise,
That my soul might then believe
And give thanks through all my days!
Oh touch my heart and bid it know
That ev’ry breath I take
Is by Thy tender grace,
And Thou wilt make me whole,
And Thou wilt make me whole,
Oh, Thou wilt make me whole again.

As writers, let's get out there and use our words to change the world!



hugs~



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Burning the Man

by H. Linn Murphy

There's something both a little sad and a bit exciting about Three Kings Day.

For us it heralds the last of the holidays. It's time to take down the tinder-dry tree we've been barely able to enjoy from all the busyness, and tuck away all the decorations. It's time to sweep up the needles and bits of wrapping paper which have clung to shoes and gotten tracked around. The groaning table with all its now-stale goodies is being steadfastly ignored because it contributed to too much tonnage.
We've had one of two yearly calls from our missionary in Russia. We've seen that he looks healthy and is in good spirits and still seems to be frostbite-free. 
The kids have gone home to Texas, taking their children with them. No more playing board games until 1 or 2am. No more figuring out meals for eleven or trying to decide what to do to entertain them all. The well-chewed doorstops are now safely back on the doors. The sticks can go back to being sticks instead of whacking swords.
The groaning school kids went back to Seminary and school today, dragging their backpacks behind them. 
Today is sort of a let-down. The silence is potent. I keep looking over my shoulder to see if someone is getting into something and hiding under the table to eat it. There's probably still part of a chewed candy cane under there somewhere that'll need to be chipped off with a chisel.

But Three Kings Day also stands as a gatekeeper for the future. I haven't had time to write much more than a couple of emails to our missionary. I haven't had two minutes to think for a month. It's a time to contemplate the follies and mistakes of the past year, and re-commit myself to goals for 2014.

This has traditionally also been a day when we Burn the Man. Someone makes a man out of (usually) a brown paper bag stuffed with scraps. Then we write on pieces of paper those faults and shortcomings and bad habits we'd like to abandon this year. We either tape the papers to the man's body or stuff them inside. Then we go out to our fire pit (or fireplace if we have one) and toss the man into the flames, watching all our faults go up in sparks.
It's a time of contemplation and commitment to that upward path which leads back to Christ.
So it's time, now, to abandon those roughnesses and mistakes which have tarnished us. It's time to clean the cobwebs out of the corners and make bright the temple of the Lord. It's time to re-commit to the habits of reading the scriptures daily and to quiet contemplation while I walk off those sticky holiday tons.
(And now it's time to figure out why I can't add a picture to this post.)


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Soundtrack to my Life

By Stacy Johnson

I can't think of a single genre that I don't appreciate with the exception of "screamo." If you don't know what that is, you aren't missing one single thing. My kids say they like it but I think they play it really loud around me just to irritate me. But I digress...

My most favorite app on my phone and website on my computer is my Pandora radio station. If you're not familiar, try it out at www.pandora.com  Because music surrounds almost everything I do; cleaning, writing, showering, driving, relaxing, exercising and even hanging out with the kids, there is always a soundtrack on in my head.

On the days I start with a shower, I crank up The Carpenters or Captain and Tenille on my Pandora radio station. I can sing along to their melodious harmonies to get my day started and put me in a good mood.

While I'm busy cleaning up after the kids leave for school, it's time for some classic rock including some hair bands from the 80's, Neil Diamond, Queen, and pop tunes from the 90's.

Driving in the car is a tricky one.  When I'm not driving, the music is much more punk rock or modern music that my husband and family enjoy. I can usually put up with it or at least pull out a book to read and try and ignore it. When I drive the kids around, we are usually listening to country music because we all can agree to that, even my teens. But when I'm alone in the car, there is no music. I enjoy the silence to ponder on things, make to do lists with my good friend Siri or even pray. Yep, that might be the one time in my day when there is no soundtrack.

Exercising requires some more upbeat and motivational music. It's Rocky Balboa type of music which includes theme songs from several super hero movies and other random pump up music to keep me motivated.

I like to work on my writing while listening to classical music. It doesn't distract me with words that I feel inclined to sing along with and allows me to focus on working.

Sunday's music includes the hymns and popular church music from Hilary Weeks, The Piano Guys and Michael McLean. It is soothing and invites me to feel the spirit as I try to keep this day different from the rest of the week. Of course, I do use this music to get me ready to go to the temple or other church activities throughout the week.

There is music that reminds me of my childhood like the Saturday's Warrior and Star Child soundtracks and it isn't a perfect summer outing at the water park unless we hear specific songs on the speaker system. Organ music or fiddle tunes remind me of my late grandmother's plea to always have good music in my life. I think she would be proud, I am truly surrounded by good music.

Do you have a soundtrack? What is in yours?

Clutter

By Stacy Johnson

I read an interesting article this last week out of More magazine. I don't even know how I got this subscription, but I like some of the articles. It was written by Lisa Schwarzbaum and titled Clearing Space for the Real Me. It hit me that maybe some of my struggles with having time to do what I want to do, let alone what I need to do, are because of the clutter that distracts me from who I really want to be.

Lisa's article talks about the fact that she has 12 t-shirts in her closet and she doesn't even wear 7 of them. (Let's not talk about how many I have and how many of them I wear way too often, but that is beside the point.) She describes the lovely heirloom pate' spreaders that she has held onto for two decades...that she's never even used and how she knows she will never use them. Once she purged a few things, she felt satisfied about the things she did leave on the closet shelf and thrilled to let go of things that no longer reflect her real self. 

So, in an effort to purge things out of my life that I don't need anymore, I am making an effort every month to purge an aspect of my life. January was designated to purge excess clothes hanging in my closet. 

The first week of January, I turned all the hangers in my closet backwards. As I wear them and return them to the closet, they get put back the correct way. At the end of a designated period (probably about 6 months), I donate or get rid of anything still hanging the "wrong" way.

I pulled a few things off the hangers knowing they will never be worn in the next six months and purged quite a few of my ginormous t-shirt collection. I already feel more satisfied about the things I have left in the closet. In fact, I have spent more time in my bedroom lately because it is inviting and slightly less cluttered. It has become more of a retreat for me where I can read or check Facebook on my phone without interruption from my kids. With February underway, I have begun the detox of my office space because it feels OH SO GOOD!! Maybe I will want to spend more time in here doing what I love to do and that is write...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sleepless Nights and How to Save Christmas


by Cindy R. Williams

My posting this time is in two parts.

This first section is about Sleepless Nights.

I often wake in the night and have to start all over with my "go to sleep" routine which often includes writing and/or reading a little before nodding off. It is 2:40 in the morning and this time I chose to read some ANWA Founder and Friend blogs. I'm a fan of Kari Pike's messages. Somehow she always leaves me with a feeling of love. Thank you Kari. I also read a comment posted by Terry Montague regarding my last posting on December 21. What Terry said was brilliant! If you have about a minute and half, scroll down to the post titled "Showing Emotions In Your Writing" and read her comments. She explains and gives examples of how to get emotions down tight in your story. THANK YOU TERRY!

Now on to part two:  How to Save Christmas.
Back to Kari Pikes most recent blog about Christmas. I read about how Christmas day changed for her and what she did about it. I realized that Kari made the mental and emotional shift and recognized the real Spirit of Christmas. Good example once again Kari.

A similar thing happened to me a year ago, since my children were doing that pesky thing of growing up and leaving their loving parents, the house becoming less of a little kid zone. My two daughters are now married and busy creating their own family traditions. I also realized how tired I was of running around on Christmas day to my extended family's homes to take gifts. Yes, Christmas was changing.

If I didn't like these changes--and I don't--I decided to brainstorm. I came up with this solution. Start a new family tradition. Christmas Dinner at my home. Okay, I know many of you already do this, but this has never been done in our family before. I figured if the adage that "the way to a man is through his stomach" is valid, then why not the way to a family is the same. Also, "If you build it, they will come," is akin to "If you cook it, they will come." I have to admit that the opportunity to visit with Mission Boy via Skype would be a big draw.

I invited all my children (except Mission Boy) to come hungry to my home in the early afternoon. I invited my mother and sister and her family. I planned and cooked some yummies the day before Christmas, then put a ham in the oven around 10:00 AM Christmas Day.

Success! Christmas was family once again. With all the couches and chairs full. Toys for grand babies scattered on the floor. Giggles, wrestling, heart to heart talks, and a whole lot of love. The blessing on the food was a heart felt thank you to our Savior for his birth, life of example, and finally his gift of resurrection.

Now if I can just figure out a solution to getting my Christmas cards out on time!

Happy New Year to all!






Friday, January 3, 2014

Sweetness

Chocolate-Obsessed
By Beckie Carlson

Many, many moons ago, back when I used to make it to my ANWA meetings regularly, one of my fellow authors recommended a book to me. The book was called "Writing Down the Bones." It's one of those books that I got all fired up about, bought, looked through, and then placed gently on a shelf. I haven't looked at it for probably a year. Today, while trying to find the top of my desk, I found the book. The book cover was tucked into a spot, like a book mark, so I read it. huh. Funny that I don't remember ever reading that before, but it was definitely something I should read often.
The place marked in the  book was called "A Little Sweet." It talks about the joy and peace that writing can bring to a writer. It refers to a Jewish tradition of giving sweets to a child when they learn something so they will 'associate learning with sweetness.' I don't think this has anything to do with the chocolate I like to eat when I write, but maybe..... No, the point is that the sweetness we feel as writers when we write is due to the exercise our soul is getting. It's kind of like when a runner gets a second wind, I think. I don't run, unless I'm being chased by a big dog, the IRS, or zombies. I've  heard stories of runners, and other athletes, that get a high from doing their 'thing.'  I get a high from writing.
I started a new book last week. I finally had a break from school, work, drama, and the gym. Well, okay, I did actually hit the gym twice, but it was all because my daughter made me, and it was a good thing. Anyway, my brain was relatively free from pressing issues, so I wrote. It was beautiful. My mind felt free to latch onto a story that was drifting through the back windows of my mind and I wrote it down. Not only did I write several chapters, I also wrote an outline and the climax. That's pretty stinking amazing for me.
Truth be told, characters don't always (rarely) stick to the outline you give them. Many a time I have pushed my chair back and said (to no one in particular), "Well, I didn't see that coming...." as my character has taken an unexpected turn. Frustrating? Oh no, that my friend, is what we writers live for. When our characters take on a life of their own and lead us along, feeding us bits of their life....that is when the high comes and the words flow and we are what we call, "in the groove." It's magical.
Cause I said so.
Photo credit: www.theknow.ask.com