Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Genres and Pen Names

I'm often asked what genre I write in. Hmm. Let me see...

  • Haven and its sequel A World Away might best be described as gentle women's fiction
  • Easterfield was a religious historical novel
  • Honeymoon Heist was a comic romantic thriller
  • No Escape was a romantic thriller
  • The Saved Saint was a religious novel based on a true story.
It gets even more complicated when I factor in my current projects:
  • Emon and the Emperor is YA science fiction
  • Finders Keepers is chick-lit
  • The White Queen is fantasy
  • Random Ramblings is a collection of short stories and poems in a variety of genres, including dystopian.
I write in many different genres because I love many different books. My favourite books ever include The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy, Pride and Prejudice, Wool, Twilight, The Hunger Games, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Bill Bryson's Notes from a Big Country. If you asked me to read books in just one genre for the rest of my life I'd be pretty miserable about it. 

I don't want to write in just one genre either.

Problem is, my poor beleaguered "fans" (I have just one that I know of, hello Sarah) are going to be a bit confused when they love, say, Honeymoon Heist and expect my next book to be similar, only to discover that it's a totally different genre and style.

I recently heard an interview with Sophie Kinsella, author of Confessions of a Shopaholic and many other successful chick-lit books. Turns out her name is actually Madeleine Wickham and she wrote several books under her real name before reinventing herself as Sophie Kinsella in order to change to writing chick-lit. (The cool part is that she submitted a manuscript to her own publishers under her new name without telling them it was her. She wanted to see whether they'd accept it. They did.) 

Naturally that has led to me thinking about whether I need to use a pen name when writing in a different genre. I haven't yet had my sci-fi book published; maybe I should use a pseudonym for that and my fantasy novel. I just used this random name generator (very useful for writers) and it told me that my pen-name should be....

Janie Chester Ellison

So, what do you think? Should I publish in different genres under different names?

Monday, April 29, 2013

This Is My Quest . . .

It seems that we all get bitten by the genealogy bug at some point in our lives. (Note: My mother will deny this fact. She purposely assigned out the 4 main branches of our family tree to her four children in the hopes that we would take care of this "tedious task.")

I'll admit that I didn't really get into the family history adventure for several years. Being a wife, a mother of three active boys, a frequent YW leader, camp director, etc. not to mention the tendency to dabble a bit in the writing world occupied most of my time. Then one night I experienced a vivid dream--something that would draw me deep inside the realm of genealogy.

In this dream, my mother led me to a building and indicated that I needed to venture inside. When I did, I met a woman who was dressed in the traditional pilgrim attire. She was tall, slender, blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful. She told me her name (Mercy Young) and shared that she was one of my ancestors. I stood there in a slight state of shock, wondering why I hadn't taken after her side of the family. (My sense of humor often carries over into my dreams. Yeah, I'm weird like that.)

As the dream continued, she told me some things I needed to know concerning a situation I had been praying about. Then she gestured to several people who were hidden in the shadows and told me that I needed to find them.

When I woke up, I was filled with a burning desire to discover if this dream was on the mark. I called my mother and asked if there was a Mercy Young on her side of the family tree. She replied that she had never heard this name before and didn't think so. A bit discouraged, I continued my research  . . . and eventually discovered that Ida Mercy Young was my fifth great-grandmother. I also found that she was on the branch of the family tree that I had been assigned to tackle.

I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by this discovery. Mercy Young was real . . . she truly was one of my ancestors. After that, I began thinking about the advice she had given me in the dream. I took it to heart and did exactly as she had instructed--and things fell into place, just as she had promised. After that, I began trying to return the favor by researching her family lines, desperately seeking those who were in the shadows.

Several years have passed. I have two large files filled with information, pedigree charts, family group records, and a 15-generation chart that begins with Mercy Young. Through the research that I have completed on her line, I have discovered several pilgrim ancestors, and a few Native Americans from the Wampanoag tribe. Yep, we had ancestors sitting on both sides of that first Thanksgiving table.

It has been a fascinating journey discovering who these people are. I have found stories of courage, devotion, and humor. (Yes, one of my ancestors [John Howland] had the misfortune of falling off the Mayflower. This explains my lack of grace upon occasion. It seems to be a family trait.)

I found out that one of my ancestors was a gypsy, sent from England to the New World as a punishment for some minor infraction of the law. Because of who he was, he wasn't allowed to date any of the pilgrim daughters. Instead, he spent time with the Wampanoag tribe and eventually married Mary (Little Dove) Hyanno, the granddaughter of the chief.

William Brewster, one of the religious leaders of the Plymouth Colony, is also one of my beloved ancestors. His example of perseverance and courage has touched my heart in many ways. He stood firmly for what he believed throughout his life, and though he often paid a high price for his convictions, he never shied away from what he knew was right. 

I could go on and on . . . but I will spare you further details of my ancestral "peeps." Instead, I will challenge you to seek out your own--if you aren't already doing so. I can promise that it will be one of the most fascinating journeys through history that you will ever experience. And weird things will happen, like the book one of my cousins happened to mention to me during a family reunion last year. This awesome book contains biographies of several of my ancestors, and I didn't even know it existed until last summer. It has helped fill in some of the missing pieces to the family puzzle I'm still trying to assemble.

The other perk I've noticed is a love that develops between yourself, and your ancestors. I will always be grateful to Mercy Young for the "boot to the head" moment we shared during that brief, but unforgettable dream. And I hope someday, when my adventure of a lifetime is finished, I can meet some of these people, knowing I have done my best to bring honor to our family name.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

An Update Instead of a Blog

This was supposed to be my day to blog here on the V-formation. I didn't get it done. Instead I did two rounds of rehab exercises, spent four hours on the CPM machine, had a few dozen staples removed from my knee, spent untold hours strapped to an ice machine, took a lot of pills, fought to stay awake, and never managed to get dressed. I read Esther by Heather Moore while on the CPM machine. It's a great book and I look forward to reviewing it. I caught one little error (and believe me only one error is fantastically good). You really have to look hard to find a typo or misused word in her books. I also cast my Whitney votes--I didn't do all of the categories this year and I regret that I won't be able to attend the gala.

All in all, I'm doing well and I see a slight improvement each day. I'm not allowed to go down the stairs from my bedroom to my office yet, so I'm stuck using my old clunker laptop instead of my desk top computer. My husband rigged up a board to go across my armchair to set it on because I can't hold it on my lap and I can't twist far enough on the bed to set it beside me there. If I don't get an okay to wander down those four stairs to my office by Monday, I'll have to recruit one of my daughters to post my review for Meridian for me. It's written, I just can't access it to send in from this computer. With some cooperation from my editors at Meridian I was able to post today's review. By the way thanks to all the great authors who have helped me through some long CPM sessions, especially Abramson, Sowards, and Moore!

Hopefully this will be my last surgery. Two knees and a pancreas in six months has been rough, but I've been the recipient of a lot of love and kindness. My husband has made so many trips up and down the stairs to take care of me, keep our home running smoothly, cook meals, etc. I'm convinced that the most romantic gestures are not flowers and candy, but putting on Ted hose, doing the laundry, brushing hair, helping in and out of the shower, keeping track of which pills and when, and serving as an exercise coach. My kids have all been great to help and even my two-year-old granddaughter has been helpful. A few days ago she tried to cover me with a blankie because "Grandma has big owie."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Roads to Peace

I have a file filled with clippings and articles and pages saved from newspapers, magazines, and my Dad's file of thoughts. As I was flipping through it, I discovered this one that I thought particularly insightful. It was written by someone named Masferrer and in view of the broadcasters who tried to fill up the silence with inane chatter instead of facts, I submmit this for them (as well as for me): Silence is remembering that I would be free today if I had not said yesterday's word, and that today's word will be my chain tomorrow. Silence is remembering that if just one more hour had passed before I judged a certain person or event, in that hour I would have discovered something new to soften my cruel and hasty judgment. Silence is remembering that the simple act of repeating what others say forms an avalanche to destroy tranquility and reputation. Silence is refraining from complaint in order not to worsen the grief of others. Silence is devotion that knows its direction. Silence is being oneself, not a drum that sounds under the fingers of the crowd. Silence is having one's own heart, one's own brain, and not changing sentiments or opinions because others wish it. Silence is speaking with God before speaking with men, in order not to have to repent after having spoken. Silence is speaking quietly with one's own sadness and holding it within until it becomes a smile, a prayer, or a song. When someone said, "Silence is Golden," they definitely spoke a truism.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Virtue and Government

For many Americans, the shift in our present government's approach to the Constitution is alarming. As the Progressive leaders lean away from the founding principles, they feel it's their job to legislate morality (or lack of morality), legislate away 1st and 2nd amendment rights, and even legislate what type of car we should drive and how much soda we should drink. They want the federal government to grow...and grow. They want to be the Big Brother who will bail out failing banks and businesses, and take over health care. They improperly use executive orders, misuse the people's money, and show contempt for the people's trust.

The founders recognized that in order for a Republic to survive, the people must exhibit public virtue. It is then their responsibility to elect leaders cut of the same cloth.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

If we are just now waking up to the fact that our country is languishing, we have only our complacency to blame. There is no judgement here. Five years ago, I took a good look in the mirror. I had been calling myself an American without really putting in much effort to wear that title. I put very little time into studying the issues, or searching out the most virtuous (industrious, frugal, honest) individuals to represent me in the halls of government.

After the self-evaluation, I got busy. I knew that first I needed to work on my own virtue, and then encourage virtue in my family, neighborhood, and larger community. I also realized that I needed to be more diligent in evaluating the character of those desiring to be my elected leaders.

John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

One of my favorite quotes is from Confucius. I feel it sums up what's wrong with America and the world, and where we need to start if we want to improve things.

"If there be rightness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just Keep Running

I've just woken up to the news about the explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon. Whatever I was going to blog about today is forgotten, because, to be honest, when this sort of senselessly horrendous thing happens everything else seems really trivial and petty.

So I'm stuck with having to write a blog about this traumatic atrocity but for all my writing credentials really having no words to make it better. That's because there are no words to make it better. There are no platitudes or soundbytes which can make any sense of this terrible tragedy, or explain away the evil which is evident in events like this.

However, one of the marathon participants who was there inadvertently gave what I think constitutes the best advice to those of us reeling over the shock of this event. She told of how she had come to the finish line to find it full of carnage and horror, and race officials told her to "Just keep running".

Imagine it for a moment. You have trained for months, even years, towards a goal many people would consider impossible. You have planned and prepared. You have carefully studied the course, worked out your pacing strategy, and put all your mental and physical energies not only into running and running and running however exhausted you might be, but into reaching that final goal of crossing the finish line.

But the finish line is gone. Having just run for at least two hours, you somehow have to keep running. You have to run past the despair, destruction and death. You have to find reserves of energy you didn't know you had and somehow keep going. You have to just keep running to get past it all.

If you have the voice of Dory from Finding Nemo in your head, don't try to silence it. Her catchy little line, "just keep swimming" has been something of a personal mantra to me for some time. It's good advice. Sometimes all you can do is just keep going. Whether you just keep swimming or just keep running, the message is the same. Like those runners we have to keep running. We have to find reserves of energy we didn't know we had and get past the despair and destruction and death.

Why? Because the alternative is to stop. If we stop to dwell on it we become overwhelmed by the horrors of the world. If we stop we lose our personal dignity by playing into the hands of those who wanted us to do just that so that we might be overcome by their power over us. If we stop we forget about all the good there is in the world (many of the people who just kept running ran to the hospital to donate blood) and about our own duty to add to the good and fight the evil. If we stop we let this impact on our families, our loved ones and our lives, often to their detriment.

Naturally we spare time, prayers, thoughts and love for those who are suffering and those who have lost loved ones. Of course we pause to offer them our support and care and to lift them up. But we don't let this beat us. We can't stop and let it destroy us. We don't let it destroy more lives than it already has.

Like the runners who had to just keep running even though they were at the end of the course, we who are struggling with this horror have to find the mental and physical strength to just keep running.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Steering Past the Iceberg

A few months shy of twenty-five years ago, I was sitting in a doctor's office trying to keep my emotions under control. I had just been informed that I was expecting our third child, and things were going horribly wrong. I was told it was a combination of health issues: the fact that I was a Type 1 diabetic--which can cause all kinds of complications, and I had suffered through a miscarriage two months before. Still hemorrhaging from that heartbreaking adventure, it looked as though I would be facing a similar outcome this time as well. The specialist who had handled my previous two pregnancies smiled kindly and said, "It would be a blessing if you miscarried this child--he or she will never be normal. There will be severe birth defects and your life will be on the line." He went on to say that if I didn't miscarry, I should consider having an abortion since my life was at risk.

Understandably, my heart shattered over this verdict. I was sent home to think about the situation, and I'll admit, I cried during most of the trip back to Idaho. (The specialist was in Utah.) After prayerful consideration, my husband and I decided that regardless of the outcome, I would see this pregnancy through to the end. I had been given a priesthood blessing and I was promised that this child would be born healthy and strong, according to my faith. Wow . . . no pressure. ;)

The following months proved to be extremely challenging. I learned to take each day as it came, and did my best to keep blood sugar levels under control, something that is a challenge during any pregnancy. I saw the specialist nearly once a week for the next couple of months. Each time his opinion was grave--he was convinced I was a human Titanic, heading directly toward a massive iceberg. He made it a point to list every possible thing that he was convinced would go wrong with my baby, and me. We fought a battle of wills as I stubbornly held my ground and refused to budge. I would not terminate this child--by then I had received a strong spiritual witness that I needed to trust in the Lord and see this situation through.

I suspect we all face trials of this nature. The situations differ, the heartaches vary, but we are stretched beyond what we think we can survive. And just when we think we can't take one more thing, if we'll open our hearts, we can receive added strength from a heavenly source. I testify this is a real blessing that can come into our lives compliments of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We've all probably heard the story of the small child who desired a bicycle. He worked very hard and saved every penny earned, but he was only able to come up with a small portion of the actual cost. The story goes on to say that the father of this child made up the difference, making the purchase of the bicycle possible. So it is with the Atonement. Not only did the Savior suffer for our mistakes in the Garden of Gethsemane, but He also endured every pain and heartache we would face. (See Alma 7:11) As such, He knows best how to help us heal, and how to make up the difference when we have given all that we can, and still face an overwhelming cost.

I will stress that sometimes, despite our best efforts and heaven's help, the answer is simply "no." We are limited in knowing why that is on occasion, but we are promised that someday, all that was lost will be restored in a better setting. It is once again a test of faith and endurance, but we are never left alone to face those agonizing moments of growth. Even when the answer is "yes," it can be an uphill battle against challenging odds.

This past weekend, I tearfully sat through a graduation ceremony at BYU-Idaho as my third son accepted his diploma for a Bachelor degree in biology. He is planning on going onto medical school to become a physician. As he walked across the stage with his beautiful wife, Emily, who also received her bachelor degree that night, I marveled over the morning he was born, twenty-five years ago in April of 1988.

It had been an extremely rough pregnancy, just as my doctor predicted. I spent the final two weeks pretty much bed-ridden since my blood pressure plummeted each time I stood up. It dropped dangerously low just before the c-section, nearly taking my life. The operating table had to be tipped sideways for the c-section so that my blood flow wasn't hampered during the surgery. It was all very scary, but so worth it in the end. I'll never forget the look on my doctor's face when Devin was delivered and he held up my son for me to see. "He is healthy," he said repeatedly, the tears rolling down his face. "I don't know how this happened, but you have delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy!" I knew how it had happened, and I've always known Who to thank for that miraculous outcome. Not only had this Titanic been carefully steered past the giant iceberg, but I had been drawn into a safe harbor, and given a precious gift I've always treasured--a wonderful son, and the knowledge that no matter what I face in this world, I will never do so alone.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wisdom Gained Far from Walden's Pond

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded unto a velvet cushion.          Thoreau
Above are two quotes I put up prominently in my room as a youth. Since my “Henry David Thoreau period” stretched through a long summer, into the fall and winter—and perhaps never really ended—I have gone through life with these musings permanently stuck in my brain. Only now that I have passed middle-age do I realized how significant an effect they have had on me.

Obviously (or not) mine is a cautionary tale illustrating the importance of taking care what you read every single day for a year or more. You might suppose that since I did not become an anarchist, nor even a tax-evader, my over-immersion in Thoreau at a highly impressionable age did me no lasting harm. You would be wrong. My fingernails are ragged and broken, most of my muscles ache, I have a welt on my arm where I was bitten yesterday by an angry mother duck, the sweet fragrance of spring (manure) wafts into my room as I write—and I have Henry to thank for it all!

I am finally living the life I’ve spent my whole life craving. Before moving to my “airy castle” here in rural Dewey, Arizona, I built its foundation by reading dozens (hundreds?) of books on homesteading, self-reliance, beekeeping, goat-raising, square-foot gardening, horse training, chicken farming, water reclamation, cheese-making, soil testing, heritage seeds, heritage poultry . . . the list goes on and on. (And on!) I’ve subscribed to Urban Farming, Small Farm, Mother Earth News, Mary Jane’s Farm, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and am a member-in-good-standing of backyardchickens.com and similar sites.  If I were to lay out, side-by-side, the books and periodicals I’ve perused of a homespun variety, they would almost certainly cover our entire acre—two volumes deep. (Hmm. This gives me an idea how to decrease the weeds in the paddock this year.)

Thus, armed with way too much information and not nearly enough common sense, this aging city girl (with MS) convinced her husband to buy a farmlette where I could pass blissful days sitting on pumpkins with contented critters gamboling around me. Thus, this is me, living the dream: I have a dozen chickens who think I’m their mother; I can’t walk to the water faucet without tripping over an Americauna and/or bending down to pick up a needy Rhode Island Red. I have been bitten, kicked and bumped by a moody filly with more attitude than manners. I have retrieved goats from the laundry room, the top of my brother’s car, and the roof of the house. I have taken a goose to a perplexed veterinarian, and turkeys on walks in an attempt to decrease their weight and improve their cardiovascular function. (Yes, really.) I acquire half my food through a co-op and pick it up in a park very early every Saturday morning. (Okay, my husband does. It’s so fast and furtive in nature he feels like a desperate vegan making a score.) I live across the highway from a working farm and farmers’ market. I sell eggs. I quilt. I get my water from a well. I keep a gerbil cage set up as a nursery for abandoned hatchlings. I grow more zucchini in a season than is legal in 48 states. I sun-dry my own tomatoes. I bake my own bread, and sometimes make my own cheese. I know the name of the bird my home teacher recently ate for Sunday dinner.

Sound romantic? Then you, too, have read too much Thoreau. Much of it is fulfilling, some of it is fun, but all of it is work.  This last fact is conspicuous only in its absence from all the books, journals, and Pinterest boards I’ve consulted. Either I’m doing it all wrong, or here in the real world weeds grow better than broccoli, animals aren’t half as endearing as Disney would have us believe, and people who routinely spend all day turning goat milk into stuff they can get at Family Dollar for four or five quarters have way too much time on their hands.

Today my husband has a rare day off. Movie? Day trip to Jerome? Relaxing around the picnic table and benches we built ourselves out of old wood pallets? Nope. We’re spending a fun day making firewood from the massive tree branch that recently took out our front fence, and then clearing tumbleweeds out of the quarter-acre I have not yet put to any good use.
Turns out this “sitting on private a private pumpkin” thing is so much fun some days that all you really, really want is a week or two on a crowded velvet cushion.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blatant Advertising

Today's blog might be considered blatant advertising because I want to tell readers about a new book that has just been released, one that would make a great Mothers' Day gift. Hint! Hint! Remember Mother's Day is just four weeks away!  The book is titled The Art of Motherhood and contains thirty true short stories by different LDS writers, seven of whom are bloggers on this V-Formation blog and we're all also LDS fiction authors:  Jennie Hansen, Jeri Gilchrist, Betsy Brannon Green, Gale Sears, Michele Ashman Bell, Kerry Blair, and Nancy Campbell Allen.  There are also stories by many other favorites such as Traci Hunter Abramson, Anita Stansfield, Josi Kilpack, Toni Sorenson, Sarah Eden, Annette Lyon, Melanie Jacobson, Heather Moore, Julie Wright, Jeffrey Savage,  Joni Hilton and many others.  There are even stories by loved writers we haven't heard from for awhile like Kitty De Ruyter-Bons, Lucille Johnson, and Alma Yates.

 I am thoroughly impressed by this book.  I laughed at Sara Eden's story.  I wanted to hug Kerry Blair when she wrote of her soldier son. I ached for Traci Abramson and her forever daughter. I felt an urge to applaud those like Annette Lyon, Michele Bell, and Jeri Gilchrist who handled parenting's tough moments with reliance on the Spirit. And there were tears for those who remembered mothers or children who have passed away. There are also loving stories of women who were "like mothers." My own story is about my two precious miracle granddaughters and my daughter and daughter-in-law who are their mothers.

The stories are great, but so is the art work.  The lovely paintings that grace this book are by notable artists such as Greg Olsen, Mary Cassatt, Robert Duncan, Liz Lemon Swindle, and many other notable artists.

The book is in hardback and available at any store that sells LDS books, on Amazon, and at many  chain bookstores.  Though the back of the book is marked $19.99, it is discounted at some stores.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Whole New Way of Life

I have just embarked on a new chapter in my life. I have thrown off the shackles of editors and evaluators....and what in the last months has become a nightmare of edits and cutting parts from the story that I wanted to tell. I decided I'm too old not to enjoy every remaining day of my life to the fullest, so I made the decision to turn the page on my writing career and write "The End." I am not finishing edits on Too Many Ghosts. I've withdrawn it from submission. I'm free! Free to play golf with my husband and walk on the beach anytime we feel like it. I'm free to swim and play with grandchildren at every opportunity without feeling guilty that I'm not at the computer writing. Free to go visit children in far off states. Free to spend my hours on family history and doing their temple work. Free to finish organizing my pictures and life story and write Mom's life story. I'm free to spend my hours cleaning out closets and repainting my home. In fact, just yesterday, some of our Young Women needed money to pay for camp this year so I had them come over and scrub my walls. Today, as soon as our daughter picks up our youngest grandchildren, I'm already to paint - to change colors and moods and my whole outlook on life! I'm now free to go help plan the wedding of our first granddaughter to get married. What fun we will have in South Dakota planning this Utah wedding! Free to explore venues for next year's family reunion. Free to spend extra days in Idaho next month with my three sisters on our annual retreat. Can't wait. I can't tell you how incredible this freedom feels! And I'm happy to say, I don't have even a tinge of regret that this book and the unfinished sequel will probably never see the light of day or reach the readers who have been asking when it will be available. I am sorry to disappoint my faithful followers, but not sorry enough to keep making changes to make evaluators happy. Not sorry at all that the story they wanted me to tell - instead of the story that I wanted to tell - will never be printed. Now, as soon as my grandchildren get up and have breakfast, we're off to hike the Prime Desert Woodlands Trail and just hope that four-year-old Julian doesn't give out before trail's end. Violet at his age hiked to the bottom of Bryce Canyon and back up without any assist from Grandpa who kept offering a ride on his shoulders. She's a born hiker. Julian is not. But the promise of visiting our neighbor with new baby chicks and bunnies, a llama, numerous goats, exotic chickens, and whatever else she has added to her menagerie should help him keep going! Freedom tastes SOOO sweet!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Making the Journey

About two weeks ago I was asked to speak and provide a musical number for a Relief Society celebration in a ward in our stake. As the day approached some thoughts came to mind and I was able to polish a little ditty I had written about four years ago. Feeling I was somewhat prepared, I didn't stress over this event. Then the day in question arrived, and everything seemed to hit the fan.

I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. (Yes, that is a mouthful to say.) This lovely disease tends to attack my lower spine and hips with a fury, making life entertaining. As with most people who endure arthritis, I've noticed that barometric pressure changes inspire flare-ups. This was one of the whammys I experienced that day.

When an arthritic moment from hades tries to disrupt my life, I usually do my best to push forward. For me it helps to keep moving. As such, I went on with my day, striving to accomplish the list of errands I needed to complete.

I managed to keep up fairly well until about an hour before the speaking engagement. Then my body decided to show me who was boss yet again. My blood sugar plummeted to 54, something that often happens when I'm in a bit of pain. As a Type 1 diabetic, this is not an unusual occurrence. However, unlike most insulin reactions that I endure on a regular basis, this one didn't want to go away. Thirty minutes later, despite my attempts to bring that level back to a normal range, it refused to budge. So I brought out the big guns, since I was supposed to head to town for the Relief Society dinner in a few minutes. This time I guzzled Gatorade, which usually helps to balance things out. As my blood sugar level ricocheted the other direction, I felt ever so lovely. Ignoring the nausea, I changed clothes, grabbed my guitar, and headed out to the car to drive to town.

By the time I arrived at the church house, my blood sugar was in the high 300's and I felt like the last chapter, so to speak. I punched in a dose of insulin on my insulin pump to bring my blood sugar down to a normal level for me (I try to keep it around 120-150) and I hoped for the best.

Since that level was so high, I just sipped water while the other women ate their dinner. I sat by a good friend who happens to be in that ward and she offered sympathy over my plight. We walk together quite often and she understood why I couldn't eat the delicious looking chicken salad with a tempting raspberry sauce. A few minutes before I was supposed to provide the program, I slipped out to do a final check on my blood sugar. It was now in the low 400 range--adding to my discomfort. I punched in more insulin, offered a quick but sincere prayer for help, and returned to the Relief Society party.

As I've seen in the past, when something is important, and I've done all I can to prepare, heavenly help is provided to get me through. It was the case that night. I stood before those women, feeling quite horrible, then the quiet peace of the Spirit slipped inside my heart, and I knew I wasn't facing this challenge alone. During the time I spoke and performed the musical number, I was sustained in a heavenly fashion. I was granted strength beyond my own and was able to convey the inspired message our Father desired his daughters to hear that night.

When it was over, I was amazed by the help I had received, and I knew who it was I needed to thank for that divine intervention. The nausea, headache, and arthritic pain returned, but an inner glow softened their impact as I gathered my things and drove home.

It was a nice reminder that no matter what we're facing, we are never as alone as we sometimes think we are. And despite overwhelming odds, we can rise above the obstacles in our way to become instruments in our Father's hands. The extra help we need is provided as long as we are willing to humbly ask for it, and possess the faith to make good things happen. It isn't always easy, and I will admit that there are times when I feel like curling up in a corner, refusing to take one more step because it hurts too much. Those are the moments when I need to push the pain aside and rely on the healing power of peace that is available for anyone who desires to keep moving forward on life's journey.