Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween

I LOVE HALLOWEEN!!
I always have. I love to dress up! I love to make up characters, and I admit it they are usually on the dark side this time of year. I can't help it. Why be a cute thing when you can be a monster! I know my crazy silliness.
When I was 12 or 13 I decided I wanted to be dead, as in wear a white dress, white wig, paint my face white. But I couldn't just leave it there.  I had to be someone. So I came up with Filvia Flay. And I painted her a tombstone to put up in my yard. She of course died in a tragic way, and her story even if it was only in my head made halloween even more fun. I am usually a vampire or frankenstines girlfriend, or an evil queen, you get the idea. I love to do crazy make up and funny things with my hair. Its just to much fun!Those who know me are usually a little shocked because I am not a wicked person, by any means, I just love looking wicked one day a year.
When I was in 7th grade I came up with my vampire queen who (spoiler: who is in my nanowrimo book this year) So even if you end up being some crazy thing for halloween you never know when that idea can sneak into your writing. It might be a few years, and there might be a few tweaks but these fun characters can add to your skills.
I will admit it, usually every october I think of a scary story but I haven't attempted writing one yet. I just don't know if I could handle it. Its not my kind of writing. This year I even thought up a whole murder mystery, ohhhh, maybe I will write it one day. We will just have to see.
With my tinny kids I have ventured into the nice characters, a fairy or a nice queen… But this year they are being witches and they might as well be escorted by their vampire mother!  Right? Lets just say I am excited we can all have epic makeup!
Happy Halloween! I hope you all enjoy it and have fun coming up with some creepy characters!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pondering Charity

by Kari Diane Pike

One of my favorite children's hymns is "Love One Another." The topic of charity has been on my mind a great deal lately. Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said,
"Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down,...It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.”1
After I read this message, I followed a delightful scripture chain that gave me new insights into that divine attribute that the Savior exemplified so perfectly.

John 13: 34-35  "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

With the sound of children's voices singing those tender words echoing in my mind, I began to read 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 where the Apostle Paul expounds on charity. I don't think these passages have spoken to me so powerfully before. Charity - that pure love "exceeds and excels almost all else." Paul teaches me that I can have faith to move mountains, all knowledge and understanding of all mysteries - BUT - if I lack charity - none of that matters. Even the act of giving everything I own to "feed the poor" or "give my body to be burned"..."it profiteth me nothing."

Charity is more than spending hours preparing lessons or donating quilts to the homeless. Charity goes beyond fancy galas and fundraisers and Eagle Scout projects. Charity is more than taking a loaf of bread to a neighbor. Charity is the why - the motivation behind why I prepare the lesson, deliver the bread, ladle the soup or sew the quilt. Charity is the way I greet someone new and my decision to get to know them without judging their appearance. Charity is smiling at someone even though they are making choices I don't agree with. Charity is choosing to not be offended and to choose to be happy for others and with others in their success. Charity is helping others succeed and allowing them to choose their own path. Charity is to look for the best in myself and others and to encourage that best to come forward. Charity involves humility and faith and hope and most of all love. Charity requires self-mastery, temperance, and righteousness.

Romans 13:10 teaches that "love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The Lord told the Pharisee lawyer that the greatest commandment in the law (meaning the Law of Moses) was to "love the Lord thy God with all thine heart" and to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses - through His great love for us. Making and keeping my covenants and showing my love for Him - by loving others around me fulfills my part.

1 Nephi 11: 21-23 describes the love of God as the most desirable "fruit" of all and the most joyous to the soul.

Alma 32: 41-43 shows me how to develop charity. Look forward with faith. Be diligent. Be patient. "Look forward to the fruit." FOCUS ON ETERNITY!

Everything else may fail, but Christ's love endures forever. He will always love me and always be there for me. People will let me down. Science will continue to change its mind about what is true and what is not true. Seasons change. Disappointments come - and so does joy! Charity will always get me through tight spots and shine light on dark days and make joyful moments even brighter. Being kind and giving the benefit of the doubt may not always result in "butterflies and rainbows" but it will never be the wrong thing to do.

There are so many things I don't know. I can see but a small part of the "big picture." But I am learning that as long as I exercise faith and hope and practice charity I can be assured that everything will work out.

Life is magnificent.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trust the Process

by Marsha Ward @MarshaWard

For several years, I've been worried that I was not doing something all the books on writing said I was supposed to do in the process of writing my novels, but it seemed to work out okay anyway. Recently, I read a book about writing. Suddenly, lights flashed, bells and whistles blew, and I got a huge confirmation that I'm really okay with what I do. The book is Writing Into the Dark: How to Write a Novel Without an Outline, by Dean Wesley Smith. I'm a pantser, so I never outline anyway, but the truth is, I don't do extensive edits and rewrites, either. That latter fact is what had me so worried.

Smith explains the difference between Creative Voice and Critical Voice, and says we should not give in to the prompting to use the Critical Voice (editing) during our writing process. The job of our Critical Voice is to stop us cold from engaging in risky business, and writing is very risky business!

Instead, he holds to Heinlein's Business Rules:

Rule #1: You must write.
Rule #2: You must finish what you write.
Rule #3: You must refrain from rewriting unless to editorial demand.
Rule #4: You must put your work on the market.
Rule #5: You must keep your work on the market until it sells.

Smith gives tweaks of the rules if you are indie publishing. He also writes strange words like "practice," and "trust your process." That last one set off the bells and whistles for me.

I will say the book rambles a bit and could have been tightened, but despite its structural flaws, I found it very affirming to me. There is a bonus section in the back from another book, Killing the Top 10 Sacred Cows of Publishing. The chapter about rewriting was the whipped cream on top of the milkshake for me: his process is exactly what I've been doing all along. I write the first draft. The second draft is spell checking, then I send it to beta readers. For the third draft, I touch up the things the readers found. Then I'm done.

I know you're all crying "Heresy!" but it works for me.

Thoughts?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Should I Write a Book?

by Cindy R. Williams

Have your friends ever said, "You're a great story teller, you should write a book."?  So should you write a book?

If you have a great passion for writing, and are willing to learn the rules, you bet. If you are doing it because others think you should, don't.

Writing is like cleaning your house. Hard work, tedious at times, but what a great feeling when it is all done.

Writing is WORK. HARD WORK! You can't even do a decent job of writing well if you are too tired. It also takes a ton of stamina to stick with it long enough to finish the book. Then, the real work begins, the many drafts and editing. Don't forget the beta readers and critique groups. You best learn how to turn your thin skin into thick skin or let some of the suggestions just roll off your back as your baby is attacked. You, alone, have to put the hours and even days, weeks and months doing more work on your book. Is it ever done? Are you ever done?

Plus, what are you going to do with your little story that is now a book?

Do you want to publish? If so, are you going traditional or indie? Each has pros and cons. You can be successful at each, you can be a failure at each. You have to continue to work hard with marketing no matter which way you go.

This writing stuff . . . I don't know. My passion must be somewhere on my pillow, because I have run out of steam writing about writing. I think I shall retire to said pillow and consider this whole strange world of writing another day.

Hmmmmmm, should I write a book?


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Living it up at the Northwest Retreat

Credit: WallaWalla.edu
I'm here! I'm finally here! It's been a solid year of planning, one month of organizing all my family's schedules, seven and a half hours of driving, and one all-nighter filled with preparations to make it happen, but I'm here!

I'm at Rosario Beach in Anacortes, Washington with sixteen amazingly wonderful women who share my love of writing and are equally driven to tell the story that's inside them. And you know what's even better? Tomorrow our numbers will more than double.

We're surrounded by lush greenery, a fog-covered eddie lapping onto a river rock shore, and just enough mist to make the retreat feel magical. Oh, wait. That's because it is!

Tomorrow we will listen to Lisa Mangum, Managing editor of Shadow Mountain followed by a variety of breakout sessions put on by some incredibly talented women who are kind enough to inspire and enlighten us on how to improve our craft, and to make it in the publishing world.

Oh how blessed we are to live in this day and age where we can come together, share our talents, and become better together. How blessed we are to have such a wonderful group of ladies to learn and grow with, while encouraging and celebrating their individual goals and accomplishments.

This is my second retreat at Rosario Beach. Last year I was a tag-along with almost no writing experience. I came, I observed, I cowered in the corner, and in spite of it all, I made friends, memories, and came home inspired to do and be more. This year, I come alone, determined to overcome my fear of not being good enough, and prepared to absorb everything I can from this experience.


For me, ANWA has been Heaven sent. I cannot imagine any other organization who is more focused on helping each other succeed. I look forward to a weekend without my children, gleaning from those who are further in the process than I am, and making a whole other group of life-long friends! Thank you, ladies, for welcoming me with open arms. I am truly blessed to be a part of this group.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

My Ponderizing for the Day

by Terri Wagner

After plowing through Isaiah I decided to change my scripture study to something more pondering than researching. If you have ever studied Isaiah you will totally understand that statement. I had a strong feeling to study the latter-day prophet teachings so I began with October 2015's conference and am working my way backwards reading what President Monson (and then Hinckley, etc) said as I go. I also decided since I'm so distracted these days to write down the conference and the gist of the talk in a short phrase. Eventually I plan to tape that list to my mirror or wall or somewhere I can see it. I also take advantage of the "Notes" section on lds.org to write out my thoughts for that particular talk.

In the beginning, I actually considered the opening and closing remarks as separate talks. For October 2013, I read all the remarks our prophet made and saw a thread in them. This is a new way to study our day. So if I may, here's what I have so far. Enjoy!

April 2015 • Go to the temple to find peace (Sunday am) • Angels can be our companions (Priesthood)

October 2014 • Chart a course of righteousness (Priesthood) • Walk as Jesus walked (Sunday am) • Invoked blessings on us (closing)

April 2014 • Be courageous in the face of ridicule (Priesthood) • Love is the essence of the gospel (Sunday am) • Fill your home with love, kindness, and courtesy (closing)

October 2013 • Support the missionary fund (opening) • Be a shepherd to those you home teach (Priesthood) • Trust in God when bad times come and accept they will come (Sunday am)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Challenge yourself

By Cassie Shiels

Challenges can be scary. Do we attempt to push ourselves when we are so comfortable as we are? The answer is we should. Why? Because that is how we grow. For writers challenging ourselves could take many forms, like going to a conference, taking a writing course, blogging, entering a contest, working on our weakest writing skill. It could even be something like increasing our daily or weekly word count. We are all in different places in our writing, so we all may need different things to challenge ourselves.

Well I am going to put it publicly out there and admit I am going to do something that scares me. Something that is a major challenge, something that I have never done or even really thought about attempting before. I am going to accept the challenge of doing Nanowrimo. WOW! It took me 15 years to write my first book, and now I am saying I will do it in a month. Crazy sounding to me, but if I do it, it will be so worth it, because of the growth. Thats why do we do it right? To grow stronger, to learn to be better, to prove to ourselves that we can do hard things. So that is my challenge coming up next month. I will let you know if I am successful.

My challenge to you all is to find something that will push you a little bit to grow. It doesn't have to be huge. It can be simple. It could just be to write 5 more minutes this week then I did last week, but accept a challenge for yourself you feel you can do, but will also push you a little. I know you can do it! And I bet you will be so glad that you did.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Angel Friend

by Kari Diane Pike

Consider yourself forewarned. Despite the 4:30 a.m. showers, wearing church clothes and make up on weekdays, and doing everything except standing on my head and gargling bb's to keep sixteen teenagers awake, I have fallen in love with  teaching seminary.

The next couple of weeks we will be studying the book of Exodus. The symbolism found in these chapters fascinates me. I feel like I'm on a treasure hunt as I discover types and shadows of Christ throughout these accounts. I get so excited and I can't wait to share what I've learned with the students.

One of next week's lessons teaches about how the children of Israel prayed to be delivered from their bondage to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. The Lord had prepared Moses and called him to lead those Israelites. One of the principles we will discuss is that "the Lord often answers our prayers through other people."

I gained my own testimony of that principle during an epic mom fail. I don't remember all the details (I'm sure that's in part because it was so embarrassing). I do remember returning home from church and totally losing it. The house was a mess, dinner needed to be made, kids were cranky, and I flipped out. I ranted and raved and carried on, slamming pots and pans and probably a cupboard door or three. I don't know how long I threw my fit. What I do remember is a sensation of waking up from a very bad dream. The world seemed to stop. There I stood, alone in the kitchen. The rest of the family had scattered. I heard a sniffle around the corner. I took a step forward and saw my youngest child, two-year-old Levi, huddled under the dining room table, his eyes squeezed shut and his hands over his ears. What had I done?

All of the unkind words I had spoken rushed back to my mind. Guilt crushed my heart. I felt the Spirit chastise me for the way I had been treating my family. I wanted curl up and die. How could I possibly be forgiven? Tears started flowing and I didn't think they would ever stop. I fell to my knees and begged and pleaded for the Lord to take me away and give my family the mom they needed and deserved.

I felt these words: "They need you. You need them. Pick up your son and tell him you love him."

I stood up and walked into the dining room where Levi still hid under the table. I sat down next to him and he crawled into my lap. We sat there for a long time. I rocked him back and forth, my face buried in his blond hair.

"I'm so sorry Levi. Mommy loves you so much. I was wrong to yell like that."

I could feel the tension start to leave his body. His hiccoughing stopped and pretty soon his head drooped against my chest.

How could I ever be forgiven? I'm the worst mom in the world. Heavenly Father, what do I do now? Will I ever be worthy to be called your daughter again? Can you ever forgive me? 

That prayer echoed in my mind the rest of the day. I apologized to the rest of the family and we went about the rest of our regular Sunday rituals. I tossed and turned and prayed all night. Just after I got kids off to school the next morning, the doorbell rang.  I opened the door and there stood Heather, a sweet friend from church. She held up a loaf of homemade bread and some strawberry freezer jam.

"Hi Kari! Okay, so this is awkward. I don't usually show up unannounced at people's doors at eight in the morning, but I had such a strong impression that you needed this right away. I don't know why...but here. This is for you."

I stood frozen in the doorway, gaping at my sweet angel friend--and burst into tears.

"Kari, are you okay?"

"I am now! Thank you so much." I reached out to give Heather a hug and accepted her yummy gifts. "You are my angel today. Really, truly an angel sent by the Lord. You have no idea. I know the Lord sent you as an answer to my prayers."

It took several weeks for me to get up the courage to tell Heather what had lead to her being prompted to show up at my door. It wasn't my finest mom moment after all. I still cringe when I think about my behavior. But I also know that was the morning I came to know in a way I had never known before that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. He hears and answers my prayers - often through other people. I gained a testimony of the power of the Atonement - that I can repent and be forgiven and move forward with faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. I needed to change. Sometimes change hurts - a lot. But the growth that comes as a result brings joy beyond anything I could ever comprehend.

Life is magnificent.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Dreaded Passive Voice

by Marsha Ward

Since I defended the use of WAS last time, and referred to the fear among writers that using it might bring on a wave of Passive Voice, I thought I'd better explain

  • what passive voice is
  • why it is so dreaded
  • when to avoid it
  • and when it is appropriate to use it.

So what is passive voice?


Does it occur when we use any form of the verb to be in our work? I'm afraid that's what many people think, hence the counsel not to use was. (See my previous post about was here.)

Nope, but the worry about using was perhaps has a little bit of justification, because passive voice usages will always include some form of the verb be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been. However, their presence does not mean every usage is passive voice.

To explain correctly, I need to digress into a bit of talk about the construction of sentences, which you may not have learned about in school.

Sentences have at least two parts, whether they are present or implied. These parts are the subject and the predicate, or the verb. The word or words in the predicate make a statement about the subject.
  • I live.
That is a very simple sentence. The subject is I. The verb is live. The word live makes a statement about I. I know that's a very abbreviated explanation, but let's move on.

A verb often speaks of action. It's when you switch things up and make the object of the action into the subject of a sentence that you have passive voice. Let me illustrate.
  • Why was the road crossed by the chicken?
Weird, huh? Also passive voice. And yes, it uses was.

The reason this seems so odd is that the chicken is the one doing the action, but it is not in the spot you'd expect the subject to be. The normal joke (why did the chicken cross the road?) puts the actor or agent in the subject position. The chicken is doing the deed, crossing the road, so it is the actor/agent. Note the more active verb--cross--in place of the verb was.

And right there is the suggestion to use stronger verbs to avoid passive voice, but the verb cross isn't the determining factor in whether or not the sentence is passive. It's the sentence structure that makes the difference.
  • Here's a little tip: passive sentences may include the phrase by the after the verb. Check out the passive example.

Why is passive voice so dreaded?


I think we build up fear because we're unsure about how to use grammatical structure. We don't want to be wrong or appear stupid. Plus, there are myths or misunderstandings to contend with. The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina has a great list of myths and refutations:
Myth 1: Use of the passive voice constitutes a grammatical error.

Use of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. It's a stylistic issue that pertains to clarity--that is, there are times when using the passive voice can prevent a reader from understanding what you mean.

Myth 2: Any use of "to be" (in any form) constitutes the passive voice.

The passive voice entails more than just using a being verb. Using "to be" can weaken the impact of your writing, but it is occasionally necessary and does not by itself constitute the passive voice.

Myth 3: The passive voice always avoids the first person; if something is in first person ("I" or "we") it's also in the active voice.

On the contrary, you can very easily use the passive voice in the first person. Here's an example: "I was hit by the dodgeball."

Myth 4: You should never use the passive voice.

While the passive voice can weaken the clarity of your writing, there are times when the passive voice is OK and even preferable.

Myth 5: I can rely on my grammar checker to catch the passive voice.

See Myth 1. Since the passive voice isn't a grammar error, it's not always caught. Typically, grammar checkers catch only a fraction of passive voice usage.
Once we sort through the myths and understand why they are false, we can use was in active sentences that move things along, totally without anxiety.

When should we avoid using passive voice?


The other thing about using passive voice is that it isn't as clear a method of communication as active voice. Try this on for size:
  • The brakes were slammed on by her as the car sped downhill.
Huh? How about using active voice like this:
  • She slammed on the brakes as the car sped downhill.
Notice the phrase by her in the first version? Clear tip-off of passive voice.

Active voice keeps sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy. It's used in most non-scientific writing, like, you know, novels, and stuff. Creative efforts.

When is it appropriate to use passive voice?


Guess what? There are valid times to choose passive voice. Writers in the sciences use passive voice more frequently than creative writers. When it's unimportant or unknown who is performing the action, or when that is obvious, passive voice is effective.

Passive voice highlights the action and what is acted upon (the object of a sentence) rather than the agent performing the action.
  • Police are being notified that three prisoners have escaped.
  • 100 votes are required to pass the bill.
It de-emphasizes an unknown subject or actor. Thus, it's useful in news reporting, minutes of meetings, and yes, when you don't want the reader to know who is responsible for the action. Use that one with great care!

What are your thoughts?


What do you think about passive voice? If you use it, explain why. If you avoid using a "to be" verb to keep away from it, how has this post helped ease your fears?



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just When

by Terri Wagner

Just when I think I have got things where I can concentrate on what I need most to do, life takes an abrupt turn. This time it is a number of medical situations, none of my own. But all of them shout get into shape NOW at me.

Dad has an on and off again fluid filling knee issue. The last time was about 3 years ago. Saturday night his knee aches, Sunday night he is in the ER and getting admitted. From a medical standpoint, they cannot drain the knee until his INR (blood thin/thick levels) is at or below 3.5. His was 7, which means his blood was like water. Trouble is he has only one stent working so he needs his blood to be like water to keep pumping without too much difficulty. As of yesterday, the INR was down to 5.8. So we are heading in the right direction. He's in a great deal of pain but not as bad as before he was admitted. It's hard to watch a loved one in pain. And he's just so darn cute when the meds kick in and he does or says silly things.

Then there's my stepmom's daughter who has scoliosis. The rod they put in years ago has separated from her spine so major surgery was required to take out the old rod and fuse using bones from her hip and rib. Scary stuff. She is now in an extended care unit until November and then gets physical therapy. To top off that she lives in New Orleans, so my stepmom has been camping out in hospitals now for several weeks.

My mom has RA. She is in constant pain, but for the most part it's manageable, until she does something unexpected with her neck and it flares up. She is also prone to diverticulitis attacks. Both of my parents will attest to the fact that getting old is not for sissies

Which brings me to me. I have (knock on wood here) enjoyed excellent health so far. I get allergies and the yearly sinus infection, but generally I am really very healthy. And for years I exercised regularly. Past four years not so much, and I'm feeling it. But darn it every time I get a routine going (and trust me on this you have to change it up), I get sidelined by ER visits, hospital stays, sitdown work on a computer job, I'm drowning here. Any ideas? I'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

General Conference

by Cassie Shiels

General Conference is a wonderful time. It's a time of reflection, learning, ah ha moments, growth, and peaceful feelings. For us with young kids, its also a time of trying to get our kids to listen, with often treats, little games, crayons, etc.  But it's worth it, even if we only get to hear a talk or two. Many of us look forward to this weekend and are very well spiritually fed. I know for me, it's a bit of a challenge with my young kids, but I look forward to it every 6 months, too.

I hope you all had a great time with conference!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Healing Relationships

by Kari Diane Pike

What would I do without the Lord's tender mercies? I would be utterly and completely lost. About a month ago I wrote about the blessing of being called to teach early morning seminary and how the Lord always knows exactly what I need. That blessing continues to expand.

The account of Jacob and Esau taught me to pray hard and work hard to repair relationships and to show love, respect, humility, courtesy, forgiveness and acceptance as I try to solve problems the Lord's way. Revenge, anger grudges, hatred, and lust can only result in regret and heartache. I love the way Jacob and Esau show us how resolution and repair to their relationship took effort on both sides. Both men acted with humility, courtesy, love and respect. Jacob prayed hard and did everything he could think of to make amends with Esau. 
"And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." (Genesis 33:4)
I always ask the students, "What do 4000-year-old stories have to do with living in the 21st century? How can they apply to you today?" In this case, I asked them to think about their own relationships with family members and friends. Is there someone whom they need to forgive? Of course, this applies to my life as well. While I prepared the lessons I had thoughts come to me that perhaps I still harbored bad feelings toward a couple of people and that I needed to completely forgive them...and myself.

When I peeled back the layers of time covering that memory I was surprised by the depth of the wound and the pain that still remained. I truly thought I had forgiven those past offenses. Fortunately, my earlier efforts of prayer and fasting had not been in vain. While the wound hadn't healed, it was at least free of infection. There existed no hate or malice. But neither was there gratitude or love. I replayed the offense over and over again in my head. In just a few short minutes, resentment started to bubble in the wound. It would be so easy to let it fester. After all, what they did was wrong. Right?

That's when the Spirit whispered, "Pray. Pray as hard as you've ever prayed. Ask for strength to let it go. Ask for the ability to forgive and to be kind. Ask for love to fill the empty space. You can't heal this on your own. Have faith. Believe Christ. Trust in His Atonement. Ask Him to heal your broken heart. It's time to heal that wound completely, once and for all."

I began to pray right there and then - standing in the kitchen - and begged Heavenly Father to please help me let go and forgive. To please take away my resentment and blame placing. I couldn't heal the wound myself. I begged for the power of the Atonement and the Savior's healing grace to heal the wound for me.

Within moments, the most wonderful feeling washed over me. Memories of the people we've met, the places we've seen and the lessons we've learned came flooding back. My mind opened up to an entirely new perspective. Gratitude filled that wound and spilled out and washed over my heart. If I had never experienced that challenge, I would have missed out on amazing new friendships and life events. The Lord placed those individuals in my life to help my testimony grow stronger and to help me gain wisdom. I wouldn't trade any of the blessings that have ensued as a result of the very actions that created my wound. The only thing I would change, given the chance at a re-do, would be my attitude and the energy I wasted being angry and frightened and resentful. I would trust and love more. But that's okay. I can do that starting right now.

An even bigger challenge stares us down right now. I don't know what the outcome is going to be exactly. But I do know this: It is going to be magnificent because if I am faithful, God can direct my life and help me make trials become blessings for myself and others. Challenges make me stronger and peace always follows turmoil because of what the Savior did for me.