Thursday, June 27, 2013


One of my favorite holidays is right around the corner! Yep, I love the Fourth of July. When I was young I loved it for the picnics and fireworks. As a teen I loved it for hanging out with my friends and watching fireworks. As a young parent I loved it for the parade and the fireworks which delighted my children, which in turn, delighted me. As a mature person I have found the heart of the Fourth. It is a turning of the heart to the celebration of the founding of this remarkable nation. Yes, remarkable. A turning of the heart to the struggle engaged by the founding patriots to forge this nation in the fires of freedom from tyranny.
 A turning of the heart to the ideas and principles that make the United States of America unique. A nation of laws, and of lawmakers willing to listen to the voice of the people. Of late, this greatness of the American spirit and pride has been surging in some hearts and dwindling in others. The price of the great liberty we are blessed with in this country can not be maintained without vigilance.
Perhaps we could all get out our copies of the Declaration of Independence this Fourth of July and read it through with our families. Perhaps we could read at least the first part of our inspired Constitution. I'm not saying to do without picnics, parades, and fireworks, but perhaps reading these amazing documents would put the heart back into the celebration of this great holiday. 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Comes First

Wow, is anyone else amazed that we're already at the end of June? I can't believe how fast the summer months fly by these days. I suspect it's because we're so busy running to varied events, making the most of the warmer weather (we're pretending it's warm in Bear Lake) that the days pass in a hurry.

So far this summer, we've enjoyed spending a lot of time with family members. We've already savored a couple of cookouts, a wedding, and the first in a series of reunions. This past weekend found us up in Wyoming, attending a reunion on my mother's side of the family tree. Held near Cottonwood Lake in Star Valley, it was a fun time of catching up on the latest adventures with beloved family members, sharing awesome food, and playing silly games, like guessing the number of candy pieces inside varied containers.

To me it's also a way of keeping in touch with those who should matter the most. As my mother sat posing for pictures with her siblings, it hit me how fast life tends to slip away. One of these days, these choice people will pass through to another realm and our time spent with them here in mortal mode will be over. How important it is to take the time to enjoy them while they are here.

In this world of hustle and bustle, it can become easy to get bogged down in items that don't really matter. I know in my own life I have had to re-examine priorities. I experienced a little heart glitch a few months ago and have been told to slow down. This is a challenge when life is crazy busy and you find yourself involved in numerous things that are good--but time-consuming none-the-less. So I've been trying to focus on those items that matter most, like family. This means I've had to weed out a few activities that are important, too, but not nearly as crucial as spending time with loved ones. 

When it comes down to it, is it really going to matter how many committees we served on, or how many hours we spent volunteering in the community if we ignore the people in our lives who should be first priority? Don't get me wrong, I know it's important to serve in our communities--I've done so in varied capacities, like the county diabetic support group I helped run for years. But if we're so involved in civic responsibilities that there isn't time to spend with loved ones, something is wrong--especially when time,  energy, and health are at stake.

So this summer, I choose to spend the time at weddings, reunions, cookouts, and enjoying family members while I can, savoring moments that cannot be recaptured. I suspect that when this life is over, and it's all said and done, that is what will matter most of all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Remembered Moments

A long time ago I taught a genealogy class that focused on writing personal histories.  I remember advising the various classes I taught to write about those little memories that keep coming to mind , not just the big, significant events.  It's important to include in a personal history facts such as when you were born, baptized, married, schools attended, etc., but it's also important to include memories of smaller events and occasions.  If a memory keeps rising to the surface, even if it seems unimportant, there's a reason and it should be written down.  Last night I had trouble falling asleep and half forgotten memories of some of those long ago minor happenings kept playing through my mind. Today I'm writing them down.

Mama had a black box camera and because developing film was expensive, she didn't use it a lot.  But I remember one occasion when she lined up me, my sisters, and a little brother beside the house to take our picture.  It took too long and I wet my pants. It was a tragedy then, but I laugh every time I see that picture now.

The farmer who lived on one farm before we did, raised radish seed.  My older sister and I found radishes growing along the ditches, in the hay field, and in other unexpected places that spring. Our play house, mud pies, and even the dinner table was well supplied with radishes. I'm not sure why I think of those radishes at odd times all these years later, but perhaps it's a reminder that seeds scattered to the wind will grow in unexpected places. 

My older brothers teased me a lot and one day one of them pinned me to a clothesline.  I was stuck until Mama noticed and came to my rescue.

Colleen, my cousin, and I were crazy about horses.  Riding double on Flicka one day, we had a difference of opinion with the horse when she decided to evade a flock of sheep being herded through the barnyard by going inside the milk parlor.  A low hanging wire over the door that separated the milk parlor from the main part of the barn caught us under our chins, scraping us off the horse and onto the cement floor.  Colleen was scraped up, but I was knocked unconscious.  When I woke up I was in my bed and my cousin and her family had gone home.  I didn't even get to tell her it wouldn't have  happened if she hadn't insisted on holding the reins and steering the horse! 

When I was thirteen I became the owner of a huge Harley Davidson motorcycle.  Someone owed my dad money and couldn't pay him, so he gave him the bike as payment. Daddy didn't want the bike, but he knew it was the only payment he would get, and since I was impressed by the huge bike, he said I could have it.  I never rode it; I couldn't even stand it up, but it was mine--until we moved again and Daddy left it behind in a shed. 

It was the first year my husband and I had a full size Christmas tree instead of a small table top tree.  My brother cut the tree on his in-laws' farm.  We appreciated the gift, but we didn't have enough ornaments for it and no money to buy any.  Thinking I was being practical, I baked sugar cookies and my small daughter helped me decorate them.  We hung them on the tree and thought our tree was beautiful.  The next day we had to be gone all day and when we returned home we found the tree lying on its side with the cookies smashed beneath it and all over the room.  I was never sure if the weight of the cookies toppled the tree or if the cat had something to do with the tipped over tree. 

One summer day a Monarch butterfly adopted me.  Each time I stepped outside the door the butterfly would land on my arm and stay perched there until I went back inside the house.  My children and the neighbor children playing with them were so thrilled they begged me to stay outside, so I took a holiday from cleaning house, writing, and cooking to stay outside and play with the children--me and the butterfly. 

My son-in-law, Rich, and I like to fish.  Our family had journeyed to a favorite reunion ranch near Challis, Idaho, when one evening the two of us set out for a nearby stream for a little fishing without the kids.  We stopped at a bridge and cast in our lines.  He had a bite, then I had a bite.  Soon we were reeling in trout as fast as we could release and rebait. In twenty minutes or so we caught fourteen fish, most of which we released.  (We usually only keep the ones from which we can't remove the hook without injuring the fish.) Those fish barely let our lines hit the water before they bit. It was a fisherman's dream and struck us as funny.  We laughed and joked about those fish wanting so badly to be caught we could hardly stand up. 

I awoke in a strange bed in a motel room in another state to the whimpering cry of a baby.  My exhausted daughter slept through his cries, so I crept out of bed to gather him up from the crib the motel had provided for us.  My husband and I and our daughter had been up most of the night before frantically arranging early morning flights to an unfamiliar city to collect the infant our daughter and her military husband had been waiting for for ten long years.  Her husband was deployed so it was my husband and I who accompanied our daughter on that momentous trip. I took the baby back to my bed where I cuddled him and fed him a bottle, letting his new mommy sleep. Something happened as I held that baby and watched his little face in the dim light.  He became my grandson, not through shared blood, but through an invisible link from my heart to his that I knew was destined to last forever. 

Though it's the big occasions that are immortalized in photos and noted on diplomas, certificates, and news clippings, it is the little moments that make up a life.  It isn't the names, places, and dates with which we fill in the blanks on forms that sum up who we are as much as it is the memories, the unplanned moments, and the small things that string our days and years together.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Buck McEwan, our congressman, sent this out today. I liked it. On this Flag Day, let us take a moment to reflect on what Old Glory really means. Just think about all the places the stars and stripes have flown since the first flag was made on this day back in 1777. Our flag flew proudly over a newly free nation and again over a newly united nation. It has been planted on the moon. Our flag has been hoisted on the hallowed grounds of Iwo Jima and draped on the caskets of all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Our flag flies daily over the White House, our Capitol, and at schools, churches and offices across the country. From coast to coast American families fly their flags proudly from their front porches. In our darkest times, after the deadliest of storms, before we begin to sort through the rubble- we raise Old Glory as the ultimate sign of our strength, resolve and determination, because our flag represents everything we are: the land of the free and the home of the brave. On this Flag Day we have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be proud of. Sure we have tremendous challenges facing our nation, both here at home and abroad, but one thing remains certain- the United States is up to the task. Happy Flag Day America! And I came across this that had to do with patriotism and had to share what Russ Cutler posted: I submit to anyone who thinks our Founding Fathers were "Bad" men, that they have been indoctrinated by revisionist history... - Russ George Washington declared, “The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.” Washington openly acknowledged that the hand of God had often protected him. He also recorded numerous spiritual experiences. One of these occurred while in his most desperate moment at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777. While George Washington was quartering his troops, the situation was desperate and food was scarce. There was great agitation among the colonists against the continued, seemingly futile effort to secure freedom from England. The Continental Congress did not send adequate supplies. Many of the troops did not even have shoes to wear in the deep snow. At least 2500 men died of disease at Valley Forge, more than Washington lost to enemy action during the entire Pennsylvania campaign. Morale at Valley Forge was at an all-time low. George Washington was in a desperate situation but he was determined to see the struggle through. It was at this moment that he chose to be alone in prayer. An angel appeared to him and a vision was opened up to him. This vision gave him the conviction that the Revolutionary War would end much in the favor of the united colonies. The experience charged Washington's morale and gave him the confidence and resolve to continue fighting-in spite of the desperate circumstances. On July 4, 1854, Apostle Orson Hyde addressed those in attendance in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City, Utah. He offered some interesting insight into the vision that George Washington had received at Valley Forge: “It was . . . that same angel [Moroni] of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones, and remains of towns, cities, and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and by an invisible hand, led our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world.” George Washington lived for 22 years after receiving his vision at Valley Forge. During that time, he told of this experience many times to many people. While Washington was yet alive, an account of his vision was printed numerous times in books, in magazines, and in pamphlet form. It was originally published by Wesley Bradshaw. Although there are minor variations in the circumstances, the various accounts of this prophecy all agree in content. The following account is taken from a reprint published in the National Tribune, Volume 4, No. 12, December, 1880. (The National Tribune is now The Stars and Stripes. The Stars reprinted the vision, December 21, 1950.) George Washington's Remarkable Vision: Anthony Sherman was an officer who served under General Washington at Valley Forge. On July 4, 1859, he was 99 years old, and becoming very feeble. He recalled the description as best he could after the many intervening years. “Let us go into the hall," he said. "I want to tell you an incident of Washington's life---one which no one alive knows of except myself; and, if you live, you will before long, see it verified. From the opening of the Revolution we experienced all phases of fortune, now good and now ill; one time victorious and another conquered. The darkest period we had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to spend the winter of 1777. Ah! I have seen the tears coursing down our dear commander's care-worn cheeks, as he would be conversing with a confidential officer about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington's going to the thicket to pray. Well, it was not only true, but he used often to pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the interposition of whose Divine Providence brought us safely through the darkest days of tribulation. “One day, I remember well, the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly, he remained in his quarters nearly all the afternoon alone. When he came out, I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mention who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone could command said to the latter: ‘I do not know whether it is owing to anxiety of my mind, or what, but this afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful being. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of the visit. A second, a third, and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of the eyes. By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen, but the rivet gaze of that being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to speak, but my tongue had become useless as if paralyzed. A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed to fill with sensations and grew luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious visitor also becoming more airy and, yea, more distinct to my sight than before. I began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensation which I had sometimes imagined accompanying death. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move. All were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my companion. 'Presently I heard a voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn,” while at the same time my visitor extended an arm eastward. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Laying before me spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world-Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. I saw rolling and tossing, between Europe and America, the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific. “Son of the Republic,” said the same mysterious voice as before, “look and learn.” At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing, or rather floating, in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand while with his left hand he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people. ‘A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows it sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was dotted with them. Again I heard the mysterious voice say, “Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.” 'At this time the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened specter approaching our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued looking, I saw a bright angel, on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word “Union.” He was bearing the American flag which he placed between the divided nation, and said, “Remember ye are brethren.” Instantly, the inhabitants casting down their weapons became friends once more, and united around the National Standard. ‘And again I heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” At this, the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia, and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene. From each of these continents arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. And through this mass, there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America, which country was enveloped in the volume of cloud. I dimly saw these vast armies devastate the whole country, and burn the villages, towns and cities which I had seen springing up. 'As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I again heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” When the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast. ‘Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word “Union,” and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, and I perceived were well-nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle. Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” ‘As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious. ‘Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities, springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, plating the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: “While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.” And taking from his brow the crown on which was blazoned the word “Union,” he placed it upon the Standard, while the people, kneeling down, said “Amen.” ‘The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I had first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who in the same voice I had heard before, said, “Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted. Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful for her is the third, but the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and Union.” ‘With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.’ “Such, my friends,” concluded the venerable narrator, “were the words I heard from Washington's own lips, and America will do well to profit by them.” Washington, of course, went on to lead his armies to final victory. He later presided over the Constitutional Convention. When the new Constitution was ratified, he became the first President of the United States of America on April 6, 1789. President Ezra Taft Benson declared: Following the drafting, the Constitution awaited ratification by the states. In 1787 three states ratified it. In the next year, eight more followed; and on April 6, 1789, the Constitution of the United States went into operation as the basic law of the United States when the electoral college unanimously elected George Washington as the first president of the nation. This date, I believe, was not accidental.” In 1877, while Wilford Woodruff was serving as an Apostle, he was called to preside over the temple at St. George, Utah. While serving there, Wilford Woodruff experienced a glorious vision. He was visited by the Founding Fathers, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and several other faithful men and women who had already passed away. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were among those Founding Fathers who appeared and requested that temple ordinances be performed in their behalf. President Woodruff records: The spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them . . . . I straightway went into the baptismal font [in the temple] and called upon Brother McAllister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others. President Woodruff continues: I am going to bear my testimony ... that those men who laid the foundation of this American government ... were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord . . . . Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them . . . . Brother McAllister baptized me for all those men, and then I told those brethren that it was their duty to go into the Temple and labor until they had got endowments for all of them. They did it. Would those spirits have called upon me, as an Elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? They would not.” On that same day, “Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was Baptized for Martha Washington and her family and seventy (70) of the Eminent women of the world.” The appearance of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence surely included John Hancock. After all, his was the largest signature on that inspired document! However, his temple work had already been done by his family members. Records show that his ordinances were performed by relatives at the St. George Temple on May 30, 1877, a few months before Wilford Woodruff's vision. Apparently, Patrick Henry was not in attendance at this appearance to President Woodruff. His temple work had already been done at least five months before Wilford Woodruff's vision. Thomas Jefferson paid a tremendous compliment to the faithful patriot Patrick Henry when he said, “After all, it must be allowed that he was our leader in the measures of the Revolution in Virginia, and in that respect more is due to him than to any other person . . . . He left all of us far behind.” It appears he also left them all behind in obtaining the blessing of the temple ordinances. President Ezra Taft Benson adds a few thoughts to President Woodruff's wondrous vision: The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was President of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. Also, according to Wilford Woodruff's journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were ordained high priests at that time. Benson continues: “When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln I say: To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.” Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were all incredible men. Their God-given talents and abilities were amazing. They were the right people, in the right place, at the right time. And they were “honest and wise men,” raised up for the very purpose of bringing about this land of liberty. Their mission was to form this country into a new nation, governed by a new constitution, which would provide the needed environment for the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. And this, in turn, would prepare the world for the return of the Savior. It was a heroic undertaking. It was accomplished by heroes . . . uncommon heroes. (From the book - Founding Fathers – Uncommon Heroes – Epilogue - Steven W. Allen) Sorry if it was way too long, but it was an important post, I thought.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Christmas in June

I'm thinking about Christmas this morning. Sorry. I'm not trying to rush the holiday forward, it's just that I have some good news about the season that I'd like to share.

Several years ago I wrote a Christmas story entitled, Christmas for a Dollar. It was first done as a pamphlet book and then turned into a children's picture book. It centers around my dad, his siblings, and my Grandpa William, (tenderly known as Willy Bear). This particular Christmas 1931, came during the Great Depression when things were tough and money was spent only on needful items. Several years before this Christmas, my Grandmother Mary Margaret had passed away and my dad, Norman, had contracted polio. His legs were impacted and his left arm was completely crippled. The story tells of the gifts of kindness and service the family shared on very little money. The gift my dad made for his little sister is a remarkable expression of love and sacrifice. I don't want to give the story away, because I'm excited to announce that in November 2013, Christmas for a Dollar will be coming out as a movie! It will definitely be out in DVD form, and may also be a movie for television. In magical Christmas dreams it may even hit the big screen. I'm not usually into promoting my work, but I'm very excited about this project. Since it's about my family, and a very tender topic, I suppose I can be forgiven.

The trailer for the film just came out (hence Christmas in June). If you'd like to view the trailer, just go to youtube videos, and type in Christmas for a Dollar. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dramatic Openings

If you want to grab your reader (or agent, or publisher) you need to have a really amazing and dramatic opening line. And you can't get more dramatic than the death of your main character.

Here's a selection:

"I had never given much thought to how I would die." (Twilight by Stephenie Meyer)
"The children were playing while Holsten climbed to his death." (Wool by Hugh Howey)
"Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup." (Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - the backliner shows that Elspeth is a major character)
"This is the story of how I died." (Disney's Tangled and Rose's opening line in a climactic episode of Doctor Who)

So I'm delighted to say that even before I discovered this fact I had written the opening line of Emon and the Emperor: "I had drowned before."

What other dramatic opening lines can you recall? Have you read any other books which kill off the main character on the first page?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Enjoying the Journey

Yesterday I spoke in our ward with my husband.I thought for today's blog I would draw upon some of what I shared during that adventure.

After we were asked to speak, and were told that we could tackle whatever topic came to mind, I began praying to know what to touch on. I shouldn't have been surprised when I found myself wide awake early one morning with a multitude of thoughts running around inside my scrambled brain.

All of them had to do with finding joy as we journey along in this mortal life. I suspect this came to mind because so many of us are dealing with heart-wrenching trials during these interesting latter-days.

So, here's a snippet of what surfaced inside my head that morning: It is actually a commandment from our Savior to find joy in this life. In essence he has said: " . . . verily, I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst and have not forsaken you;" (D. & C. 61:36)

I was reminded that there have always been challenging times, beginning with Adam & Eve. Think about what they went through--going from a heavenly setting full of bliss and peace in the Garden of Eden, to a place where they had to work for every mouthful of food, create their own shelter, and basically, fend for themselves. It definitely could've been a time for self-pity and depression. Instead, both Adam and Eve celebrated this chance to learn and grow and have a family. (See Moses 5:10-11)

I was guided toward the wisdom of King Benjamin found in Mosiah 4:20. I found the humor in his wording of how we tend to "beg" for help when things hit the fan in our lives, and how our Father is always willing to listen to us and help us find peace and joy, regardless of what it is we're struggling through.

We've all been blessed with character-building moments--and since we're all very unique, they are all very different. These are the things that help us learn and grow, stretching us spiritually in our quest to become more like our Heavenly Parents. But it's seldom a "fun" process, gaining the education we came to find in this mortal world. And there are times when we wonder if we'll survive the curriculum. But there is always hope. I often find peace of mind by searching the scriptures.

Mosiah 7:33 basically tells us to do the following:
1-Turn to the Lord.
2-Trust in Him.
3- Serve Him--with a good attitude.
4-And if we are willing to do all of that, we will be delivered from the trial we are enduring, or receive the strength to hang in there.

Alma 36:3 states:
1-We must trust in God.
2- And if we are willing to do that, we'll be supported in our trials.

Proverbs 3:5 shares:
1- We must trust in the Lord with all of our heart (not just a tiny portion)
2- Realize that we are not always going to understand 'why' some things happen.

D. & C. 19:23 instructs:
1- We need to learn about our Savior.
2- We need to listen to His words.
3- Be meek enough to feel the Spirit.
4- We will be given peace.

So on and so forth. If you look through the topical guide under the word, "JOY," you will be amazed by how many references there are to this emotion. I was told once that if you find something mentioned in the scriptures 3 times or more, we need to pay attention. From what I have found, "JOY" is mentioned way more than 3 times. This means it's important. 

To sum things up: we're in mortal mode to learn and grow. This is not always a fun quest. We seem to grow the most from those soul-stretching adventures that come into all of our lives. Despite these challenges, we can find peace and happiness--if we'll seek a cheerful attitude. It's not easy--but things of worth seldom are.

As Lehi so eloquently phrased it: "Adam fell that men (and women) might be; and men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:24)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

E-Books Need Editors

With the increased use of e-readers more and more of the books I review come to me electronically instead of as paper books.  I love to read and I'm not too fussy about which way I  read a book.  I've always loved the look and feel of a real book in my hands and because I've always depended on a partially photographic memory, paper books hold some definite advantages for me as a reviewer.  I can easily turn to a page or section I wish to quote or paraphrase without making copious notes.  Unfortunately my poor brain thinks all pages look the same on the e-reader.  Still I like the convenience and the portability of the e-reader. 

I'm fairly tolerant of the occasional error in the books I read for possible reviews.  Usually I'm more concerned with content, story structure, character development, and overall appeal than with typos.  Even paper books from really good publishing houses often have a few errors, but in recent years I've seen an increase in the number of typos, misspelled words, and even grammar errors in books from even the top publishers, but this is a drop in the bucket compared to what I find in the novels I read on my e-reader. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder if the author even went to school.  I've grown accustomed to seeing this problem on Face Book, but it seems to me that books someone pays money to obtain on their e-readers should be proofread better. 
Too many e-books are self-edited.  Being your own editor is a lot like being your own attorney; you have a fool for a client.  That's not to say a writer shouldn't go through his/her manuscripts and at each stage of the editing process with extreme care, but going it alone isn't wise.  Another set of eyes is needed to produce a quality product. At this point many writers hire the cheapest freelance editor they can find.  Some freelance editors do a great job, but some don't.  I've read books edited by one well known freelance editor who repeats the same word usage mistakes in multiple books by different authors.  As soon as I see pour for pore, tenant for tenet, or muscle for mussel, I can guess who the author used for an independent editor. 

I just finished reading a book which had a great story, sympathetic characters, and in a genre I enjoy, but on the second page was and were were interchanged.  As I got further into the story I found other grammar errors, several instances where a main character's name was changed, messy formatting, and an instance where a word was used that is similar sounding to the one meant but entirely different in meaning.  

I thoroughly recommend that writers go with a reputable publisher with real editors, but with the shortage of qualified copy editors these days smart writers need to go back to Grammar 101 and learn to proofread.  Those who decide to self publish in the e-reader market, keep in mind that you need two kinds of editors; one that analyzes content and knows how to help you produce the best story possible and one who understands the grammar, spelling, and typos maze.  Errors tend to stop the action and spoil otherwise perfectly good stories. 

Twenty years ago a writer told me her editor at a national publishing house went through her manuscripts with a purple pen, marking every misspelled word or grammar error, then a set amount was deducted from her royalties for each purple mark. I was careful to never submit anything to her publisher, but with some of the error riddled and badly formatted e-books I've read in the past two years since I got an e-reader, I've developed a great deal of sympathy for the publishing house.  Sadly I don't see the situation improving until we insist our schools do a better job of teaching grammar and spelling, until writers take the initiative to clean up their own work, and until readers refuse to pay for shoddy work.