A V-formation flock of geese seems to have one member of the group as the leader, but each member takes its turn at the point of the V, leading the way as the others in the formation honk in encouragement. The geese stay together, even when one becomes sick or injured; the group stays with it until it is well enough to continue the journey at its regular pace.
Think back.What was
the best book by an LDS author you read this year?Did you nominate it for a Whitney Award?Perhaps you read more than one book that made
a lasting impression on you.If you
haven't already done it, nominate them all for Whitney Awards.
For a novel to be nominated for a 2013 Whitney Award, it
must receive five nominations before the end of the current year and be
copyrighted in 2013.It must also be a
full length novel, not a short story or novella. The author must be LDS, but
anyone can nominate---except those who profit from the sale of the book.That means I can nominate books by other
writers, but I can't nominate my own book.You can also nominate more than one book per category. Every year there
are great books that don't get enough nominations because readers assume lots
of people already nominated them or because readers aren't aware they are the
ones who should be nominating.I
nominate lots of books and many other authors and reviewers do as well, which
is great, but for the awards to have real significance more nominations are
needed from the general reading public. It's kind of sad when nominations come
only from fellow writers. The book doesn't need tohave an LDS theme, only be written by an LDS
Award categories are General, Historical, Romance,
Mystery/Suspense, Speculative, Youth Speculative, Youth General Fiction, Best
Novel by a New Author, and Best Novel of the Year. Historical usually includes
Westerns and Speculative includes Horror.If you don't remember the titles or authors of the books you'd like to
nominate go to Meridian Magazine's book reviews or to any other LDS fiction
reviewer's web or blog page to refresh your memory.You can also go to a bookstore's online
catalog and scan the book jacket blurbs.
Nominating a favorite book is easy.Go here.A form will pop up.Fill in your name and email address, then add
the book or books you wish to nominate along with the name of the author(s) and
publisher(s), then submit.You'll get
back an acknowledgement that your nomination has been received by the contest
chairman.So get going! Nominate away!
This is the big award for LDS authors and I assure you it means a lot to all of
us to have our readers show their appreciation for our efforts to provide
quality, clean books by nominating your favorites for these awards.
This has to be my very favorite time of year! Wonderful Thanksgiving Day with kids and grand kids here and more good food than we could possibly eat. Time to just sit and visit and catch up. No TV. Of course the grand kids were on their devices, but that left the grownup to contemplate the past year, dream and plan for the future and just generally talk about what was on our minds.
My son even convinced his youngest that we should do a little family history - though he didn't call it that. (He is aware of our advancing age and he wants the kids to know more about our history and what we've done in our lives so if we die next year, they will have something to remember besides Gramma always in the kitchen.) So they asked about what countries we've traveled to and which ones we liked best. In past years they have asked what airplanes Grandpa flew, and what cars he's had through the years(a lot!!)
Now that holiday is over, I'm about finished with Christmas shopping - hooray for on line shopping and Amazon.com wish lists!! I'm sure my mail lady would much rather I buy at the store and carry them home myself instead of her having to deliver them to my mailbox, but I'm happy to stay out of the stores and do it the easy way.
I've pulled out my Christmas music for piano and organ, sorted through some Christmas albums to put in the car so I can have Christmas music at the push of a button, and am making menus and gathering recipes for when another set of my kids come from South Dakota for Christmas! That will be a joyous time! We don't get to see them that often any more. Then two more families will join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - so we'll get to see all but our Louisiana daughter and her girls.
Next on the agenda is putting up the tree. Can't wait!! We'd do it today except I have something else to do this afternoon. After the tree goes up, the nativity sets get displayed...as soon as I get them back from the creche festival next weekend. We have a fake tree but hubby cuts greenery from our shrubs so the house smells of pine and juniper. Sparkling lights both sooth and excite me. Christmas music does the same.
Watching the kids open their presents is a joy. Then we all have to decide what our gift to the Christ child will be next year. I need to start thinking about that now so I'll have the best possible gift to give Him who has given His all for me. I love Christmas because it helps me remember fully and completely how blessed I am because of His love, humility and obedience. There is so much to anticipate in the next four week! I can't wait!
Thanks, dear Lord for all the blessings of life that have shaped me--the outrageously beautiful and the seriously painful. Thanks for the poignant messages that have come to me through sunrises and sunsets, through good people and bad, through funny experiences that made me laugh so hard my sides ached for day, and for the stunningly difficult challenges that have opened my heart to compassion. Thanks for my family members who are most times so wonderful that I cry with joy, and sometimes so pig-headed that I weep with frustration. Thanks for my friends who accept me with all my foibles. Thanks for the times I worked hard for very little money. Thanks for the times I worked hard raising my kids and never received a paycheck. Thanks for giving me a spirit that doesn't see success in terms of money, power, or prestige. Thanks for giving me the ability to make amends when I've messed up, and to accept apologies from others. Thanks for dogs, the many colors of green, and snowflakes. Thanks for you, dear Lord. Without your love, teachings, and Atonement I wouldn't appreciate the wonders of this life, or have the hope of the wondrous eternal life to come. So, thanks.
I really don't like to shop.I know the stereotype is that women live to shop, but that isn't
me.I'm not good at picking out gifts
for others and I can never find anything I like for me.Still, this time of year, shopping is
inevitable unless you're the bah humbug type who skips Christmas giving.I love everything else about Christmas; the
music, the decorations, the food, the nativity story, the heart-warming stories
of generosity, the giving, Christmas books, getting and sending cards, the general
good will, Santa, and even the Salvation Army bell ringer . I don't even mind
the hustle and bustle of wandering through overly decorated malls. I just don't
like traipsing through stores or scrolling through e-catalogs.
I did a little Christmas shopping before my surgery and in
the past few weeks since I've been a little stronger one of my daughters and my
husband have taken me for a few quick shopping forays.I tire too easily to leave it until December.
I even ordered a couple of things online.I've got a good start.In fact it
has been kind of fun to shop for my two littlest granddaughters.At one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half, they
don't already have every toy I can think of and they're easy to please.My biggest challenges this year are the five
eight-to-ten-year-old boys. Then there are the teenagers and the young married
couple. I love them with all my heart, but shopping for the perfect gifts for
them is something else.
I seldom shop for wedding or birthday gifts anymore; a check
or gift card is usually met with enthusiasm and easier for me to handle.Gift cards are usually welcome for Christmas
too, but I think everyone, especially the younger children should have the
thrill of tearing into at least one wrapped present. Our family spends
Christmas Eve together and that's when we exchange family presents. So I shop.
But no matter how many door buster sales begin on Thanksgiving Day or how great
the bargains, I won't be shopping that day.
Shop early or shop late, but let's keep Thanksgiving a day for family, food, and gratitude and allow as many others as possible to have the day with their families too.
It's been interesting to read the postings on facebook about what people are thankful for. I'm not that public a person so I'm simply recording in my daily journal those things that I'm most thankful at the moment or what has struck me as a particular blessing that day.
Besides all the obvious blessings in my life of family, the gospel, abundance, freedom and good health, one thing struck me this week that I've decided I take for granted. They replaced a power pole in our back yard - it was one of those very tall utility poles that brings electricity to the homes on our street. We were "fortunate" enough to have it in our back yard for the last 28 years we've lived in this house. You can see it when you look out our big glass doors in the living room that overlook the pool and gardens unless your eyes are drawn to something more beautiful - then it is sort of invisible, snuggled against the 9 foot back fence. Of course, we see it. Glenn even painted it a redwood color up to the fence line hoping that would be less conspicuous.
But it had been there since the house was built in 1974 so it needed to be replaced. They brought in a huge crane - big enough to lift that 50 or 60 foot pole over our tall trees in the front yard (think two story house or taller) and over our house. They took the old one out, replace it with a new one (the pole man called it a beautiful new pole) and restored our power. This all took from 8:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon so we were without power all that time.
What to do while we had no power? Couldn't vacuum - could dust and clean bathrooms. Couldn't get on the computer. Couldn't have phone calls on our land line. Could wash windows. Couldn't do laundry. Decided to just go to the Family History Center and work on Glenn's family tree. We met for lunch when he finished golfing and came home - to a very cool house and still not able to do anything.....but read! Thank heaven for books!!
But I realized how much we take for granted those things that are so important in our lives. Fortunately it was a beautiful day so we opened the sliding doors and let the sun shine in and warm us up. Basically we had no heat, no communication (thank heaven for cell phones!) no power to cook with, no lights if it got dark before they finished. We are so dependent on these modern conveniences.
Then I thought of hospitals with their dependency on power, and streets with stop lights, and schools with the teaching innovations of today. Our society depends so much on this wonderful convenience! So this week I added that to my list of things I'm thankful for, and every time I flip on a light or turn up the heat, or open the refrigerator or freezer, or sit down at my computer, or pick up the phone to call someone,I acknowledge what an incredible time we live in! My Great-grandmother would have delighted in all my everyday conveniences!
One of my dear friends just joined the Peace Corps and is now in Uganda where she will serve the people for two years. Peace Corps volunteers not only work hard to better the lives of the people, but are also ambassadors of peace. It is ennobling work, and my friend will do it well. Her leaving has prompted an evaluation of life: what's important, what's superfluous, how's the best way to spend my time?
My mental evaluating has brought me to the realization that there are many good ways to spend those precious minutes given us on this planet--as many ways as there are people, and they don't need to be huge commitments, like joining the Peace Corps, but can be precious small acts of thoughtfulness. Each person has the opportunity (many times a day) to overcome selfishness and choose these small acts of service. It can be as seemingly inconsequential as opening a door for someone, or responding to a cranky person with patience, or putting a few coins in someone's ready-to-expire parking meter.
As I think of my friend in far away Uganda, I will try and do my little bit to make the world a better place.
This past week has caused most in my family a bit of stress. One of my sister's daughters is currently serving a mission in the Philippines. If you've seen some of the news stories that the media has presented since Typhoon Haiyan made an appearance, you will probably understand our concern. Although we have been told comforting things like most of the missionaries serving in the Philippine Islands have been accounted for, there is still a tiny fearful nudge that afflicts us all from time to time. We believe she is fine, but we want sure knowledge. We want to know where she is, if she's all right, and to hear her voice . . . or at least read an e-mail typed by her hand. The continued silence on her end is a source of worry.
I suspect that times like these are tests. Do we possess enough faith to continue on, even when the way isn't sure? It is a difficult trial.
Years ago, after I spoke at a fireside for a group of girls attending an annual YW girls' camp, I was presented with a necklace that contained a mustard seed encased in resin. It was the first time I had ever seen an actual mustard seed. This necklace became one of my treasures . . . a reminder that we can do great things if we possess faith the size of this very small seed.
In the New Testament, Matthew tells us the following story: a troubled man had brought his son to be healed by Christ's disciples. They tried--but were not successful. The man then approached our Savior and begged for His help. He healed this man's son in an instant. Later, when his disciples asked Him why they had not been able to heal this boy, Jesus told them it was because of their lack of faith. He went on to say,
" . . . if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." He then adds the following counsel: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." (See Matt. 17:14-21) In other words, yes, if we possess a tiny bit of faith, great things are possible . . . but it requires effort on our part--belief, prayer, and fasting."
I believe this to be true. I have seen miraculous things take place when faith, prayer, and fasting are combined. I've been told as a Type 1 diabetic that fasting is not my friend, and to be honest, I don't attempt it very often, but when the need is great, and I've done everything else I can think of to make a positive difference, I fast. I go without food and water for as many hours as my body will tolerate. Eventually, my blood sugar level crashes, and I have to wrap things up fast, but to me, these sacred opportunities are great blessings in my life--a way to show my Father in heaven that I have done everything I can possibly do to survive a difficult trial, or on behalf of someone else who is suffering through a heart-rending test.
Things don't always turn out the way I hope or pray for--but I am usually blessed with the gift of peace and an assurance that while I may not understand why the outcome wasn't what I had desired--someday I will. Someday it will become clear why things happened the way that they did.
Periodically, I may still wish for a magic wand that makes everything better for everyone--but then again, perhaps that would defeat the purpose of this life. Without trials, we wouldn't grow into who our Father hopes we will someday become. And with faith, we can survive whatever this mortal journey brings our way.