Thursday, April 29, 2010


As I looked over the list of Whitney Winners I was pleased to see so many really well written books on the list of winners. There are a few disappointments too, but I won't go into that. For those who don't know, Whitney Awards are presented to LDS authors, supposedly for their outstanding contributions to LDS fiction, but actually to any LDS author who garners enough votes for a particular piece of fiction published in the previous year whether it espouses LDS standards or not. Ironically, only one award this year went to a novel with any reference to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though all of the winning authors are LDS and the majority are books compatible with LDS standards. The one work that actually mentions the Church is In The Company of Angels by David Farland (Wolverton), the story of the handcart company that became stranded on the Wyoming plains. Though not his usual genre, Wolverton certainly deserves recognition for this remarkable book.

There are a number of definitions of what constitutes an LDS novel and the Whitney Academy takes the broadest view, merely requiring that the author be LDS. Other definitions are more narrow, requiring some positive reference to the LDS culture, faith, or values, the use of clean language, and being neither excessively violent nor sexually explicit. My personal definition leans toward the latter, but doesn't exclude any novel that promotes ideals in keeping with the moral values set by the tenets of my faith. I'm always conscious, too, of that well known phrase "virtuous, lovely, or of good report." I'm not sure if some of what passes for LDS fiction today could pass this last test.

Orson Scott Card was recently honored by the Washington DC Chapter of the BYU Management Society. He spoke of the important role of storytelling in maintaining the core values of our country and our culture. He spoke of how the failure of a society results from the failure to tell stories based on the values of that society. As cultural stories deviate from core values, those values are replaced by lesser, negative, or destructive values. Several comments he made during his speech impressed me a great deal as he spoke about what he knows best, writing fiction. He said, "I've watched an increasing number of fiction writers turn away from the old values and use their fiction to advocate the inefficient or destructive replacement of values." He went on to advise that individuals "tell a better story, stand up for values, even if they invite ridicule from the intellectual elite." This is advice it would be well for LDS writers to take to heart. If we don't create literature that exemplifies our standards, we will be among those who invite rot and corruption into our culture from the inside. And just as our faith isn't for Sunday only, our adherence to Church standards in our writing shouldn't be for only those books we write for LDS audiences.

I'm certainly not advocating trite conversion stories, sugary sweet simplifications, fiction that is thinly veiled preaching, or more magical/miracle solution stories, but I wonder if we're trying hard enough to write stories within the framework of our beliefs. Perhaps it's enough to point out our memberships or involvement in various fields of endeavor such as politics, law enforcement, science, education, etc. We can show the effects of good parenting. We can unabashedly send our characters to church. We can create characters of sound moral fiber. And we can avoid glamorizing negative, immoral behavior. Of course, our characters will make mistakes, but we can show their realization and repentance of those wrongs. We don't need to whitewash our villains, but we don't need to wallow in their evil; our emphasis should be on the efforts to prevent or stop evil.

I have a lot of faith in LDS writers. We are blessed to have some superb writers at this time with testimonies of the Gospel. Whether we write for members of our own faith or for the general market reader, it is my belief that we should stand firm for those core beliefs we know to be true. I teach six-year-olds in Primary and there's one thing, above all else, I strive to instill in these children and that is that choosing the right, God's right, supersedes all else. If we remember that, we can write the powerful stories that will ensure the continuance of faith and hope among our people.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Parent's Payday = Bragging Rights, Right?

Twenty-four years ago my husband graduated from BYU with his MBA. We graduated with a 3 year-old son, a 6 month-old daughter, and absolutely no money. In fact, towards the end we were stealing pennies from my son's piggy bank and rolling them to buy milk.

Last Friday both of those children graduated from BYU. My son, Wes, graduated with his Masters of Accountancy (totally got it from my husband), and my daughter graduated with her Bachelors of Communications (probably from my husband also).

What a wonderful celebration and milestone for both of them. It was impossible not to reflect upon that moment so many years ago when my husband received his diploma and feel that we had come full circle.

The circle continues for my son and his lovely wife (also a BYU graduate) as they teach and prepare their daughter to learn and grow and find her path in life.

Yes, it was a good day. Of course I was emotional, and so very proud. It wasn't an easy road. It was long and frustrating. But they didn't give up.

I know there are many parents out there feeling this same "burst your buttons" kind of feeling. You have my permission to share your joy. These moments don't come often and when they do we definitely need to celebrate them.

Monday, April 26, 2010

God Is the Gardener

I wonder if we all have little sayings or stories that drift into our life every so often and touch our lives, and each time we remember that a particular story touched us and we feel better for having heard it. But as we go along in life, the thought or story slips off to the side and in the background and after so many years, it comes into our life again.

This weekend I heard once again Elder Hugh B. Brown's story of the currant bush. I don't remember when I first heard it but thought it was wonderful, capturing so well what I've felt when I didn't get what I wanted. This is the version that appears "The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown: An Abundant Life," edited by his grandson Edwin R. Firmage. For those who are younger, Elder Brown served in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the 1960s and was known as a man of great compassion.

As a young father Hugh B. Brown and his family moved to a farm outside of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, which was "badly run down and overrun with weeds. The shrubs and trees, too, had been badly neglected. One morning, as I went out, I saw a currant bush and noticed that it had grown up all out of proportion. In fact, it had gone to wood; there was no sign of either blossom or fruit. Having had some experience on my father's fruit farm in Salt Lake City, I knew a little about pruning. So I decided to prune this currant bush. As if to set the bush's mind at ease, I said to it, as I took the shears in hand, 'Someday, when you are laden with currants you will thank me for cutting you down so that you could grow properly and develop the fruit that you were created to produce."

Elder Brown entered the military some years before World War I and served in England and France. Over time was promoted again and again until he was very near to a particularly high-ranking office. When he was called to meet with the commanding officer of all the Canadian forces in Europe, he received the disheartening news that he would not be given that position. The commanding officer did not explain, only said he could, not recommend Elder Brown for the post, then left the room to take a phone call and Elder Brown saw his file on the desk and the words at the bottom "THIS MAN IS A MORMON."

When he returned to his post, Elder Brown said he "challenged the Lord for having denied me what I thought was my right. I asked him, "How could you do this to me? When I have been true and faithful all the way through my military career, why do you now cut me down?" I was young, ambitious, vigorous, and would have accepted the post had it been offered to me. Then I heard the voice, my voice, talking to the currant bush back home three years earlier... "I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be...Someday, when you are laden with fruit, yhou will thank me for cutting you down, for not submitting to your wish and not appointing you to what you wanted to have."

Elder Brown concludes the story humbly with "I now realize, more than fifty years later, that God is truly the gardener. He knows what he wants each of us to be. I have not amounted to very mcuh in this life as it is, but I believe I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go."

It's finally spring and as we're out in the beautiful sunshine, digging and pruning and planting and weeding, it's easy to be grateful for the many wonderful things in our lives. It's also a good time to prune and fertilize our attitudes (picking up on what Lynn said in her post on Friday) and remember that God is our gardener and he knows where he wants us and what he wants us to be.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's All About Attitude

I've decided attitude is everything. I've come to believe that if we have a good one, life will be good no matter what happens to us. If we have a bad one, life will always be filled with disappointments and probably a lot of heartache and headache.

I loved Elder Neal A. Maxwell and his incredible use of the English language. He said things so beautifully - and profound. This was his take on attitude:

"At the center of our agency is our freedom to form a healthy attitude toward whatever circumstances we are placed in! Those, for instance, who stretch themselves in service - though laced with limiting disease - are often the healthiest among us. The Spirit can drive the flesh beyond where the body first agrees to go!" (Deposition pp 30-31)

Isn't that great! And he uses dashes and exclamation points and italics to make his points. I loved that man!

I'm thinking along these lines because yesterday I took a sister to the temple - the nearly blind Hawaiian friend I've been helping care for the last several years. I take care of her medical problems and another friend takes care of her finances. (We finally convinced her that she couldn't live alone anymore when she fell and broke her ankle.) She has to have a walker to get around and we reserve a wheelchair when we go to the temple as she can't walk through a whole session. (In the huge LA temple, we progress from room to room.)

But nothing deters this sister when she wants to do something. Her attitude of "I want to do this and serve the Lord" enables her to graciously accept help at every turn. She gives ample opportunity to others for blessings by way of serving her and never apologizes, but gives profuse thanks for the assistance. She needs help dressing, and before, during and after, then we carry her meal tray for lunch. I have to position everything in front of her and show her where it is, and make sure her plate or bowl is close enough so she doesn't dribble in her lap.

A lesser soul would decide it was much easier just to stay home and watch TV, but not Margaret. She listens to her scriptures and conference on CD or the MP3 player the bishop and his wife gave her for Christmas. Since she can't read, we print things for her in great black bold print so she can study. She is now memorizing the Articles of Faith, The books of the Old and New Testaments in order, and some hymns. She is filling her time and her mind with good things. She has a great attitude - and NO family support. In fact, - well, that is another very sad story.

As Elder Maxwell said, "The Spirit can drive the flesh beyond where the body first agrees to go!"

I believe attitude is a deciding factor in people being able to do things well beyond their capacity, whether it be strength, age, or means. If we have a good attitude, we'll find a way to do whatever needs to be done. We have a retirement center in our ward and several of our sisters are years younger than I am, but about age 60 they decided they were old and so they are. Whether it seemed a good idea at the time to just quit trying, or whatever their reason, they became old. It was a matter of attitude.

I have a granddaughter who accompanies many musicians for musical contests in high school, (and competes herself in many) and was just called to be the choir accompanist. Some of the pieces are incredibly difficult - never in a million years of practicing could I master them - but she has the attitude: If it was written, I will play it. And she does.

When my daughter (her mother) was in high school, the band director would send her home each summer with a couple of new musical instruments for her to learn because he didn't have anyone to play them. She spent the summer mastering those instruments because she had the attitude that the Lord had given her musical talent and intended for her to use it. She passed that on to her children who all play instruments.

Helen Keller's "I will do this" attitude and insatiable thirst to know everything despite her blindness brought her incredible results and great fame. Winston Churchill's "Never give up!" attitude won the war for England and helped bring the free world into the conflict to win the war for everyone.

In today's politics, we can't just shrug our shoulders and say, "I'm just one. I can't change the corruption in the government." We must have a positive attitude and go forth and do whatever we can, small though it may be. It will make a difference in the long run - and attitude is the difference.

In today's wicked world, it would be nice to move to an isolated mountain top and not have to put up with the filth and depravity that is seeping into music, TV, literature, entertainment and advertising of every kind. We can hardly avoid it. But we are told to let our light shine. Someone needs that little spark, that example of attitude that says, "I can make a difference, if only to my own family and circle of friends. I can make a difference because the Lord promised that I could."

So today, no matter what goes wrong, we need to say: "I can handle this. The Lord is on my side. Together we can do this." With that attitude, we truly can do ALL things!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Souls of Valor

Today I'm delighted to review a newly released book published by Granite Publishing, "Souls of Valor." This book touches my heart for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that it was written by my baby sister, Trudi Jackson. =) I happen to know the work she put into this novel, something she has worked on for over three years. She has done a great job of capturing a challenging time during the era that includes World War I and the Flu Epidemic of 1918.

There are two main characters: Elizabeth Randall, and Alex Cannigan. Elizabeth is a young woman from Boston who travels west to a small Idaho community known as Grays Lake. A schoolteacher, she will face the challenge of teaching students in a one-room schoolhouse. While she struggles to adapt to this foreign environment, Alex Cannigan, is recovering in an army hospital from wounds he received while fighting in the war. Elizabeth's doctor brother links the two of them as pen pals, hoping to draw Alex out of a state of depression.

Initially, Elizabeth and Alex clash. Elizabeth is a newly baptized member of the LDS Church, and she is full of hope for the future. Alex is jaded by the war and the destruction he has witnessed. A passionate debate ensues as they share what is in their hearts. In time they become friends, but as their relationship develops, a flu pandemic turns Elizabeth's world upside down. The tables are turned as it falls to Alex to help Elizabeth regain her fervor for life.

Filled with intrigue, historic flavor, and a touch of romance, this is a book that most will enjoy. You can find Trudi's book on this link: "Souls of Valor" to learn more details.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



Politics is something I generally avoid when blogging, but there are several factors in today's political climate that bother me. I'm not a novice to the political scene and over the years I've seen a lot of regrettable actions on both sides of the aisle and usually even more from those who claim to be independent, but who usually have a single issue they wish to force down everyone's throat, or who are simply too lazy to get involved and seem to think a self-righteous claim of independence gives them a license to complain without doing any of the work.

Politics fascinate me; I've served on a town council and filled two terms on the Salt Palace Advisory Board of Directors, worked for two sessions of the State Legislature, served as voting district, precinct, and legislative district chairs, voting district registration agent, been a candidate campaign co-chairman, and a polling place judge. I've also been a delegate to both county and state political conventions multiple times. For what it's worth, I also worked many years as a journalist, a member of that fourth estate that supposedly keeps politicians and government honest.

First let me express my ambivalent thoughts concerning the large turnout of young voters during the last election. I think it's great that young voters get involved in the political process, but there's a terrible tendency for eighteen year-olds to be woefully unrealistic voters. They also tend to be suckers for candidates that promise the moon in idealistic terms. Like sheep, they follow charisma rather than taking a hard look at the world in which they'll soon be working and raising families. This is nothing new and goes in cycles. It's not necessary to be terribly old to remember the disastrous results of previous elections where the "youth vote" was courted and extolled while their hero turned out to be a dud. I wouldn't want to discourage idealism and I definitely don't want to discourage young voters. In fact I'd like to see more adherence to ideals in today's society, but in a representative government, informed voters should look not only at the ideals a candidate espouses but at his/her life experience and abilities. A successful farmer, race car driver, accountant, or MacDonald's manager impresses me more than someone who merely talks a good line and looks good in a suit.

I'm sick of race being an issue. Race should neither exempt anyone from political office nor should it be used as an excuse for incompetence. Disagreeing with someone of a different race is not racism. Racism is granting special privileges to those of one race over another or excusing someone from responsibility for their actions because of race.

I'm tired of extremism on both the right and left. One is as damaging to our country as the other.

I don't buy the argument we should get rid of all the incumbents either. That's lazy talk. There are some good decent people currently in many political positions. Granted there are some real losers too, but let's make certain we know what our representatives, senators, and other office holders have and haven't done. Let's study voting records. We should go to the source and not buy into the poisonous hype coming out of the mouths of those itching to take the places of those already in office. And we should weigh carefully whether we want to toss out seniority on committee assignments in favor of a junior untried, no clout newbie. Maybe we do, but let's be sure of the value we're losing compared to what we'll get.

It's time to get rid of caucuses or mass meetings. They tend to bring out the crazies and accomplish nothing but give a disproportionate number of delegates to anyone with a talent for inciting radicals. Theoretically it would be a great system if more people got involved, but with the constant barrage of political rhetoric bouncing from so many electronic devices in our modern world, far too many people pay little attention to any of it any more. That leaves a handful of people (in my district twenty-two) to make the decisions concerning candidates and philosophy that affect us all. With modern electronic voting, there's no reason the Primary can't list a dozen candidates if that many file to run for an office.

It's time to hang up on phony pollsters with carefully loaded questions. It's time to drop the insults and innuendos. I want candidates who run on their own records, their own goals and accomplishments, their own ideals and standards. A candidate who begins insulting his/her opponent instead of telling me his/her own ideas loses my vote.

I'm all for getting out the vote, but perhaps I'm one of those dreaded elitists. I object to dragging people to the polls who haven't bothered to study the issues. As an election judge I saw too many instances where some group loaded up a busload of people who merely wanted an outing and told them who to vote for as the price of the ride. I saw a severely mentally handicapped young man hand his ballot to his mother, who filled it out, then dropped it in the ballot box along with her own. If you really don't care who is elected or what the issues are, stay home and let those who do care do the voting. I don't want uninformed, do what they're told, or lazy voters deciding issues affecting my life.

Okay, I'll sit down and be quiet now. It's just that I care about this country and I'm fed up with lies, with fourth estate complicity, people who don't value freedom, the lack of character in public office holders, people who are more concerned with being on the winning side than on the right side, politicians and causes that fragment our society, and the willingness of the majority to fold in the face of a strident minority. I want to see more patriotism, more voters who make their own decisions, and more Americans who demand accountability from their elected officials. I want Americans who take pride in being Americans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Random Thoughts

Do you ever go back and read the books you've written years before and wonder "where on earth did that come from?" When I've needed to refresh my memory about something in one of my books or one of my characters, I've always been surprised at what I found there. I really don't remember writing that! Of course, it may have something to do with my increase in years, but, good grief, I wrote it! Why shouldn't I remember agonizing over those words and phrases and inventions?

Do you "take time to smell the flowers" when an opportunity arises? Especially when it is a short term opportunity? I missed an incredible one once. Christo had done one of his "world wonders" within driving distance of our home. Instead of wrapping a famous bridge in France with a million yards of pink silk or a famous building with flags, or whatever other wonderful, preposterous work of live, visual art he does, he had installed huge bright yellow umbrellas on a hillside 30 minutes from our home on I-5 by Gorman, California. They were going to be there for months, so I by-passed the beautiful spring days when I could have seen them all, and even taken my friends from the retirement center to see them. They get out so little to do something fun and exciting.

But the genius didn't take into account our California winds, especially near the pass, and though he had designed them to withstand a goodly wind by planting them in cement, one deadly gust uprooted one umbrella and either killed or injured a woman who had been photographing it. Thus they were condemned and removed. I did manage to see them on the day before they were to be taken down - a very gray, drizzly, foggy day - when only half a dozen were visible. I wanted to cry at the missed opportunity. I've kicked myself ever since.

This week, I decided I would not miss the da Vinci exhibit at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, even if I had to go by myself. As luck would have it, my daughter was working from home and able to bring 14 month old Julian to view it with me. It was a glorious day, sunny, warm, absolutely perfect. We saw the exhibit - marveling at da Vinci's incredible and varied talent, had lunch where Julian experienced his first dill pickle and loved it, and then wandered through the Illuminated Manuscripts in Architecture exhibit. That was even more awesome than the da Vinci exhibit. And upstairs in the North gallery, we were astonished at the wealth of art that survived from the 1300 and 1400's!

Unfortunately, Julian gave out before we did, and we ended our tour there. I turned around and drove the 1 1/2 hours home again. (It only took Shelley 15 minutes to get there!) But what a fun day. I really had two dozen things at home that needed fairly immediate attention, but I figured I could burn the midnight oil preparing the RS lesson for Sunday, and put off until next week polishing the presentation on organization I've been asked to give in Relief Society. How often is the air so clear in Los Angeles that you can see the ocean from the Getty, even though it is only a few miles and the Getty is on a hill overlooking Santa Monica?

On another, but related note, when we visit our kids in Louisiana, we usually drive directly there, not dawdling along the way, spend a few days, then hurry home again. This year because of an unexpected book signing in Arizona, Glenn said we could just go early and make it into a trip. I took that to mean a TRIP and I've been planning to stop and see all the things we've hurried by on past trips.

A day long jeep ride with the Navajos on their reservation deep into Canyon de Chelly; a ride on the Silverton-Durango train; photograph Arches National Park again and Dead Horse Point; explore Mesa Verde again - we haven't been there since Shelley was eight months old. She is now 36. Santa Fe turns 400 years old this year. I haven't been there since I did the research for Turquoise, published in 1998. Then on to Vicksburg, two nights and Natchez for two nights to drink in the Civil War and antebellum sites before we head south to Lafayette, our daughter's home and Jessica's high school graduation. But we'll also take our three granddaughters to Evangaline points of interest. I've never been in previous trips and am anxious to follow the Longfellow-Evangaline thread through Louisiana.

I'm determined not to pass up opportunities when they present themselves now. Fortunately, I have a friend from the Midwest who wants to come and visit her two sons here so she will house sit for us the three weeks we'll be gone. Everyone wins! She doesn't have to disrupt their lives by moving in with them and I don't have to leave my house empty for three weeks! Don't you love serendipity?

And I have a confession to make: I vowed no more fiction, but I have a ghost story I've started and restarted several times over the last 15 years, but never finished as I knew Covenant wouldn't want it and had no idea what to do with it. Now that Michele has pointed the way, I'm going to finish that a story and do the research for it on this trip. You are the first to know. How about that for random!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bread Making

I can't make bread. No, really. It's not that I don't like to make bread, or don't want to make bread, it's that I can't make bread. I've tried off and on for 40 years and each time--disaster.

As a new bride I felt it a duty to take on the domestic skills of housecleaning, laundry, quilting, canning, and bread making. I had a mom who taught me the skills of housecleaning and laundry, but as for the rest of those duties...not so much, in fact...nada. Besides, we had moved across the country from my hometown, so it was not feasible to call my mom and have her pop over for us to experiment with bread making together. Luckily a woman in the church we attended was the bomb at bread making. Everyone extolled her crescent rolls, sunflower bread, and french baguettes. I was excited to learn at the hands of a master.

I showed up at Dorthy's house, the arranged morning of the lesson, eager to learn a skill that would forever fix me in my husband's esteem. She placed me in a lovely white apron and handed me a packet of yeast. She instructed that I place the granules in some warm water so they would come to life. That freaked me out. I didn't know there were live things in bread. Yes, I know, leaven...bread rising, but I thought it was some sort of chemical thing, not some sort of biological thing. Anyway, the first packet the water was too hot and I singed the little microbes into oblivion. Second packet the water was too cold and the little bugs went into cryonic sleep. Third packet Dorthy did it and all was well.

For me, it went from bad to worse. I added too much flour. I kneaded the dough with too hot of hands. I put the rising bread in too warm an area and when it got to be the size of a beige beach ball I panicked and punched it down too forcefully. I don't remember what else went wrong. I do remember Dorthy's red face and scowl. I probably was the only pupil that completely failed under her expert tutelage.

My french bread loaf was as hard as a piece of cement.

On my was home from Dorthy's I stopped at the day-old bread store and picked up a lovely crusty loaf of french bread for $.99. I vowed never to try again.

Well, I have tried a few more attempts over the years, but have had (at best) only meager successes. I think that geneticist will one day discover a bread making gene which, alas, they will find I am totally lacking. No worries, I can always try my hand at quilting. Does that require a knowledge of sewing?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I felt limited. Perhaps they were limits I had set upon myself, limits that my circumstances had placed upon me, and maybe even limits that were of my imagination because I had become too sensitive to everything that was going on around me. But nonetheless, I felt the burden of my limited state and it was causing such an intense feeling of frustration and I guess, even fear.

I needed a new job. That sounds pretty simple, but there were so many facets to that one main problem. I no longer work at the Jordan River Temple. I still work within the church but I was transferred to a new place of employment almost nine months ago and for far too many reasons to go into, circumstances had led for me to look for employment once again elsewhere. But after over thirteen years of working in food service—and needing to get into a new type of work—I was limited on what I was qualified to do. I needed something that didn’t require me to constantly be on my feet and legs, (yes, limited to the length of time I could stand) so maybe an office job of some sort? Here’s the kicker, I am a horrible typist and I don’t know several of the computer programs…limited, again. I do have over ten years of experience in that line of work—before my Temple days, that I thought at least that could give me some sort of credit on my resume, but the few applications I sent in, hoping for an interview, sent me a rejection before I even got my foot in the door. Limited—and insulted—and now discouraged.

Things haven’t changed. At least job hunting hasn’t, but I have come across something that has changed me.

I didn’t think that asking for a new job under the circumstances was so much to ask my Heavenly Father for. In my situation, I felt like it was a righteous desire. I realize how petty that sounds, even as I type it. I am really putting myself out there to admit that. I hate flaunting my weaknesses. But I needed my job—Heavenly Father knows all the reasons why. After all, I’ve moaned and groaned often enough to Him about it. He knows I have this job but He knows I can no longer work at this one. He knows all the reasons why. Again, I have explained all this to Him. I petitioned my Heavenly Father so many times for better days, for better jobs, for better health, for better anything that I got to the point that I didn’t even know what to petition Him for anymore.

I fasted and I prayed and then received a blessing. Then I went to some of my closest friends. Within minutes they were all there offering me comfort, advice, and support. As I pondered all that had been said, I started taking a closer look at my situation.

My eyes went directly to my son. He too was going through some of his own challenges at this time with seizures. Taking a closer look I was once again amazed by him. He too has limits, but he has such a tremendous spirit that refuses to give up. He is constantly finding ways to work around his barriers so that he can achieve all that he sets out to accomplish. He lives his life to the fullest and he does so with faith and hope and even laughter. He is as carefree as he can possibly be and when he does have limits, he only lets them bring him to a halt for a second before he figures out another way to work around them.

It made me stop and ponder. All those times I wondered if my prayers were heard, (yes, I know they were—I was just having a pity party and getting tired of being told no—but really, was I being told no? I don’t think so.) I now think of something my Bishop asked, am I forcing my will on the Lord’s? Yes, in many ways. I was. I wanted to get out of Dodge right then and there. Before going to that job, I had prayed and fasted about going there and I know with all my heart, I was meant to go there for whatever reason. Every time I felt it was time to leave, in my heart I felt it wasn’t time but my head and my knees and my feet said it was. I applied for jobs I knew I wasn’t qualified for thinking that if I had an interview I could beg for a job and tell them I’d go back to school and learn whatever they wanted me to. It doesn’t work that way; I know that. But I was desperate.

Well, with renewed hope I have undergone a real attitude adjustment. This is in thanks to some people I love dearly- namely my son, my husband, my dad, my friends, Bishop and of course, my Heavenly Father.

I know the things I cannot do, and in the things I need to try. I want to have the kind of spirit that my son has. To love and live life with the joy and attitude that he does and not be so hard and cynical on myself. It doesn’t matter what limits we may have, it’s how we work around them and what we do to work with them that matters and especially to have a thankful spirit for the bounteous blessings we enjoy. I have a job. For now, until I can find what it is I need, I am so thankful that in these troubled times I do indeed have a good job for a really wonderful company. I should have been more thankful to begin with. I have learned that valuable lesson as well.

I did find a quote in a talk I read once though the person who said it is not listed so I am unsure if the speaker wrote it or what but the talk was given by Stephen Jason Hall.

The quote says,
“ The greater man is not the one with a hundred blessings which he takes for granted, but the man with one blessing who praises his God for his bounty.”

I still pray for the things I need, but more so, I pray for a grateful heart and the strength in spirit to keep the faith and refuse to give up. My son taught me that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Conference in General mode =)

Living in a mountain valley as we do, we've come to realize it's important to prepare for those pesky surprise storms that come into our lives on an all too frequent basis. So even though it's April, and in most areas that means spring has sprung, we're still dealing with winter storms. Like the one that descended today.

When today's storm was predicted last night on the news, we figured we would receive 1-2 inches of snow at the most. WRONG!!! In our little town it was closer to 5-6 inches of fresh snow. This made driving into town early this morning quite the adventure. I followed a snowplow down the road that leads from our house to the main road. Then I tried very hard to stay inside the tracks made by the large semi-trucks that pass through our valley. It was still a bit tricky to keep the car on the road. I finally took a detour into nearby Montpelier, thinking it would provide better traction. Au contraire. I slid more on what we call the "8th Street Exit," than I had on the main road. I was nearly 5 minutes late for an appointment, but I did eventually arrive safely.

We do our best to prepare for these surprise storms. The trunk of my car still contains my winter boots, gloves, and earmuffs just in case I get stranded. When I travel a great distance, I also add a blanket, small shovel, and a handy plastic container of kitty litter that provides great traction. I drive slower when the roads are a mess, and allow extra time to arrive at the intended destination.

At home, we make sure we keep plenty of food on hand in case we can't make it into town to pick up groceries. We also keep items like "Snow-melt," and snow shovels handy in case we need to treat icy build up on our sidewalk, porch, and driveway. In short, we try to be prepared, knowing that wintry storms tend to linger in our neck of the woods until closer to June.

This past weekend provided a wonderful opportunity for us to prepare for the physical, emotional, and spiritual storms that may arrive in our lives, unannounced. We never know when a trial lies around the corner. As such, it behooves us to do those things that will fill our spiritual cupboards.

During the past couple of years, I've made it a habit to take notes during stake, and general conference sessions. I write down scriptural references, topics, and anything that stands out to me as important counsel to follow. Then on bad days, when storms descend, I dig out those small notebooks and flip through my notes. I always find solace in those pages, that I tend to keep inside my scripture bag for easy retrieval.

This past weekend we were given a chance to drink deeply from the living waters. How blessed we are to have access to these inspired talks by the leaders of our church online, and soon in magazine form. These messages of hope, love, and guidance can be accessed in a multitude of ways whenever we feel the need. It is my prayer that we will take advantage of this convenience often, preparing ourselves for the times when storms spring into our lives.