A V-formation flock of geese seems to have one member of the group as the leader, but each member takes its turn at the point of the V, leading the way as the others in the formation honk in encouragement. The geese stay together, even when one becomes sick or injured; the group stays with it until it is well enough to continue the journey at its regular pace.
(This was supposed to run Thursday, but I guess I didn't schedule it right. We were away on a short vacation so I didn't catch it sooner.)
"Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain." I
don't remember a July with such lovely long rainstorms as we've had this past
week or so.July storms in my experience
are usually more boom and flash than substance. It's been wonderful to have
deep soaking rain during the hottest part of the summer.It hardly seems fair that the rain I'm loving
is creating havoc in other parts of the world. Some places are getting too much
rain, causing flooding, and other places are so dry, water is restricted and horrible
fires are destroying every dry morsel before them.
Have you noticed that books are like rain?Some are cool and refreshing.They soakin giving rise to knowledge, pleasure, and personal growth. Often they
inspire the reader to be a better person, to stand up for beliefs and
principles, to think deeper thoughts, and set loftier goals. Some are light
sprinkles; they entertain for a moment, then are forgotten.Then there are those like a severe drought,
devoid of anything of worth. They appeal to those who care only about their own
whims and pleasures.They waste precious
time and leave minds barren and discouraged.
We don't all have the same taste in reading material and
that's a good thing, but within almost every genre lurks both refreshing rain
and dismal drought. I've always read a wide range of genres and my favorites
have varied from time to time, but always I enjoy books that uplift over those
which leave me depressed.(If I want to
be depressed I just turn on the TV and watch world news!) In my weekly review
column I try to give readers a preview of one uplifting new book each week.
As a reviewer for an LDS magazine, I don't often get to pick
which books I read, but I'm seldom disappointed with the books that fall within
the parameters set for my column and which are sent to me by LDS publishers and
authors.I read books that appeal
primarily to LDS adults and older teens.They don't always have a direct reference to the Church, but they do portray
values compatible with Church teachings.Of course I don't review every book I receive, but I try to read all of
them. My reasons for reviewing some and not others depends on a number of factors.
It's not dependant entirely on the book being the best book, but on the overall
impression it gave me, whether it's something fresh and new, whether I've
recently reviewed a book that dealt with the same subject matter or was written
by the same author, how well it was researched, and sometimes if the errors and
format made reading the book more chore than pleasure. I don't review teen
books unless there's a strong adult interest cross over and I don't review
books that use crude language. Lately there has been a flurry of excellent novellas
printed and I don't review those either except as part of my annual Christmas
Hmm!What shall I
read next?Should it be a romantic
suspense by one of my favorite authors who never disappoints me?Or the new author with an intriguing world
view premise?There's nothing else quite
like curling up with a good book while the rain beats a rhythmic tune on the
Today is my birthday, and though I'm not admitting to any age, I will admit it's a joy to have a day set aside to celebrate your showing up on the planet. The presents are nice too.
As a youngster, growing up in Lake Tahoe, California, it was fun having a summer birthday. There were trips to the beach, water skiing, hiking, horseback riding, and barbeques. I thought it couldn't get any better. Then, after becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, graduating from high school, and being accepted to Brigham Young University, I learned that in Utah my birthday is celebrated with a parade, rodeo, and fireworks! Well, the hoopla is not just for my birthday. You see, in Utah, July 24th 1847, is the date when the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley after their long trek across the country. The parade contains the usual assortment of flags, bands, horses, and floats, but often the floats contain pioneers, covered wagons, seagulls & crickets, temples, and an assortment of Bible and Book of Mormon characters. It's delightful.
I look forward to my birthday every year for a variety of reasons, and one of the highlights is being able to share the day with the Mormon pioneers. It is a grand celebration of the Latter-day Saint's veracity in trekking across the country in search of religious freedom. It makes for a very good day...and the fireworks are sparkles on the cake!
Periodically I am asked to review books on my blog. Most of the time it's something I enjoy, since I love to read. This time around, I absolutely loved the book I was asked to review. A middle-grade read, The Rebel Princess is a fun story for all ages. The author, Janice Sperry, has created a clever, new-age twist on fairy tales that will entertain anyone who has the chance to read it.
The main character is an anti-heroine, Raven, who is determined to never become a princess like her mother. Set on becoming as evil as possible, Raven barely tolerates her twin brother: Edgar; a wannabe best friend: Amy; and she absolutely shuns the new kid on the block: Eric Charming, convinced he is a total rat.
The storyline contains a great deal of tongue-in-cheek humor, and as Raven finds herself lost in the horrors of the Enchanted Forest, the plot-line thickens. Interesting characters, like the one Raven labels Princess Loathsome, also known as Pansy; a young girl named Ella, who seems destined to face a wicked step-mother; a confused dragon who finds himself wearing an orange tutu; and the Muffin Man who is tired of dwelling on Drury Lane, surface throughout Raven's quest to find her way back to reality. It doesn't help that she has to rely on people who formerly annoyed her: her twin brother, Edgar, Amy, the wannabe best friend, and Eric Charmingto survive.
The ending was as delightful as the entire story, and it left me hoping there will be future adventures for Raven and her friends.
I give this book a huge thumbs-up recommendation and I plan to buy copies for my granddaughters, knowing they will enjoy this story as much as I did.
I was once asked to describe my lifestyle.At the time I thought that was a dumb
question so I flippantly responded "crisis to crisis." How true that
turned out to be.
After losing both a brother and a sister to cancer and
almost two years of fighting my way through two knee replacement surgeries, a
pancreas surgery, followed by a fourth surgery to completely remove my luck.Or maybe this is the new normal. Four weeks ago my husband stood on a
platform sawhorse to boost a sheet of plywood onto the roof of the shed he's
building.There was a sudden strong gust
of wind that sent him and the plywood crashing to the cement below. Though no
bones were broken his back, hip, and knee were seriously sprained. He's getting
around on crutches now and will begin physical therapy next week. That put an
end to most of the travel plans we had for this month and kept me so busy I
didn't get much writing done.
And about the book I'm working on.I finally reached the point where I could do
between 500 and 1000 words a day and both of my computers died. Fortunately the
chapters I've written are saved on a thumb drive.I bought a new laptop, a DELL with all the
bells and whistles, but I'm convinced the new Windows 8.1 was designed by a
sadist! Also it connects to the internet just fine at Best Buy, but back home
it won't run without an ethernet cable connection.I really need my oldest grandson to come for
I've mentioned before that I'm a news junkie.That's what comes of years of being a news
reporter and editor; it never quite gets out of your blood.However today's newsis so depressing and scary it makes my
personal problems look like nothing in comparison.
I'm not a naturally pessimistic person so I keep telling
myself to think of good and happy things.Well, let's see.My insulin pump
saves me four to six shots a day.That's
definitely good. We're enjoying peppers, onions, potatoes, beets, and chard from
our garden and they're very good. My flowers have been beautiful this
summer.I've had a good supply of
excellent books to read and review this summer. I'll have a story called Santa Loves Me in my publisher's Christmas
anthology called Christmas Treasureswhich will be released in October. A
grandson has kept our lawn mowed since his grandpa was injured. And though I'm
a day late my new computer will let me post this blog.
I found Rebecca of
Sunnybrook Farm a tiresome book when I was a kid, but I have to admit, if
we really try we can find an up side to most discouraging events.
My peach tree has out-done itself this year! Though I thinned it as much as I could stand to do it, the branches are draping all over themselves, heavy laden with delicious-looking fruit. We've watered the tree and fed it and made sure it had plenty of sun. Now to wait for those luscious peaches to ripen! But the birds are anxious too, and they are pecking away at them even though they are still hard as rocks. Will I manage to get the harvest I've anticipated or will the birds get the best of them before they are ready to pick?
If we harvest what we sow, it would stand to reason that living the commandments will bring us happiness; likewise, not keeping those commandments will deprive us of the peace and happiness we want to experience.
I have a friend who is terribly depressed - again. She has not been living the laws she believes in; she has not been keeping the commandments. I don't know why she can't figure out that wickedness never was happiness --- she has learned and lived with that truth all her life.We cannot expect to reap a harvest of beautiful peace-filled days with a clear conscience if we have not been living up to the covenants we've made.
The world has gone mad because we are being taught it's okay to do your own thing---whatever feels good. It's okay. But it's not okay and it won't be fine. We have to pay the price for our transgressions, whether they be of co-mission or omission. She is learning that truth - all over again.
And I need to go tend to my peaches lest by omission of my duty to keep the birds away, I will not reap the harvest I'm so looking forward to!
From time to time most of us have probably heard snatches of the theme song from the Rocky Balboa movies inside our hearts and heads. Perhaps we've envisioned favorite scenes from these movies. The first two films in this particular series were released when I was a teenager. (Yes, gasp, I'm that old . . . sigh . . .)
They were so popular, that is possibly why I've occasionally borrowed strength from the storyline(s).
Many of us love underdog stories. We love it when the beleaguered protagonist manages to overcome tremendous obstacles to succeed. Cheering the hero on gives us hope that we will be able to do likewise when we face challenges of our own.
There have been numerous days when I have felt very much like the character, Rocky, after a fierce battle in the ring. My body and I have gone the rounds on many occasions, thanks in part to the Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis that I deal with on a daily basis. One lovely day, I actually resembled Rocky after a nasty fight when I experienced an extremely bad episode with hives. My face looked so awful, little children cried. Fortunately this adventure took place when I was out of town, so the only people who witnessed this event were close family members. They were so alarmed, they didn't mock me until much later, after I survived that hazardous incident.
Emotionally, there have been days when I have very much felt like I have hit the mat inside Rocky's turbulent ring. Heartbreaking trials, like the death of a loved one, rip you apart like nothing else. It is tempting to not move, to remain face-down on the mat and ignore the audience that is trying to cheer you on. After all, they're not the ones dealing with overwhelming pain. They don't understand how hard and horrible it is--or so we reason with ourselves as we delve into self-pity mode. We convince ourselves that if we stand back up, life is just going to knock us down again. Then that annoying little theme song resurfaces. We've all heard it. Dadada . . . dadada . . . dadada . . . dadada.
I will admit there are times when I've tried to block that silly song, but to no avail. Eventually, one of my toes takes on a life of its own and begins to tap in time to the silent music. When that happens, I know it's only a matter of time before the rest of my body will begin to join in. Suddenly, I'm up on my knees. Then I stagger to my feet . . . and often get hit so hard, I find myself back in a prone position on the mat, whimpering.
The process of rising to meet my challenger head on often takes a long time. But there is something inside of me that usually doesn't let me give up. Like Rocky, I slowly rise to my feet, and beg for more. "C'mon, Life! Is that that best you can do? Is that all you've got? Bring it! You heard me . . . c'mon . . . take your best shot! That didn't hurt . . . okay . . . maybe it did . . . but I'm not giving up! Do you hear me? I'm not going away! No matter how many times you knock me down, I'll get back up! Because that's the kind of person I am! I wasn't sent to this earth to fail!!! I will eventually win this match!
That is my hope in mortal mode--that I will continue to be as stubborn as Rocky. It is my prayer that I will always remember how important it is to never give up. Our Elder Brother is the supreme example of how to face difficult times. He has given us all of the hope in the world--but it is up to us how we fight our individual battles. May we always rise to the occasion. ;)
Even with all of the problems
our country currently faces, I'm proud to be an American. Those words have resonated with me ever since
I attended a convention a few years back and the man seated behind me suddenly
stood and began singing those words. He
was nearly down the aisle, striding toward the podium before I realized he was
Lee Greenwood. It was an exhilarating experience, but I've always been glad I
was born in the USA. I take great pride
in knowing someone in my family took part in the Revolutionary War, the Civil
War, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, both World Wars, the Korean
War, Vietnam, and Iraq. My family has been represented in all four branches of
the military. I come from a long line of patriots who fought for freedom.
Even more important than
military service is the way my family, like our country, is built from a
conglomeration of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. My mother is a descendant of
some of our country's earliest European settlers. My father grew up in Canada and his
grandmother was a runaway wife of an English nobleman. She joined the Mormon
Church and was disowned by her husband. She then stole her children and fled to
America. Another of my great
grandmothers, a native American, grew up on an Indian reservation in the
eastern part of this country. One of my
brothers-in-law is part Shoshone and another is a descendant of the Trail of
Tears Choctaws. My husband's great grandfather was a Danish fisherman, a
descendant of the fierce Vikings. One of
our nieces married a Japanese-Hawaiian man, a nephew and his wife adopted three
African children, our daughter-in-law's father is Puerto Rican and her mother,
Hispanic, and another niece adopted five Russian children. Our oldest grandson's wife is from Russia. Throw
in a few kings, queens, pirates, outlaws, bootleggers, preachers, farmers,
cowboys, a cobbler, an express rider, and a Mountie to complete the family
When I hear of the limits on
education, particularly for girls, in some countries, I want to weep. I'm grateful for the public education and the
choice of colleges I attended here in America.
I feel great gratitude for those who taught me to read and write. I'm
thankful for the freedom to attend the church of my choice. My life has been richly blessed with the
family I grew up in and the family I parented as an equal partner with the man
I chose to marry. America is a land of
great beauty and I appreciate my upbringing in the mountains and along the
streams of the west, but many of the cities from Seattle to San Antonio from
Salt Lake to Washington DC hold special places in my heart as well. I love the freedom this country affords me to
work and play, the choices it gives me, and the expectation of fairness.
Of course, there aren't
always happy outcomes, even in the land of the free. Though this country's
constitution is based on justice and freedom for all, I can think of many
injustices that have occurred throughout our nation's history. Many of those injustices touched my family. The Trail of Tears was a horrible example of
injustice as native families were forced off their rich tribal lands into a
long march to barren Oklahoma land with many suffering and dying along the way. One of my ancestors, a young man from Wales
lacked the means to build a handcart to travel west in the 1850s so he
indentured himself to raise the money for a later trip. He disappeared and the rumor persists that
because he was a dark skinned Welshman, he was sold south as a slave. Just recently a family member who has risked
his life numerous times to save others and who has been awarded two Purple
Hearts for wounds he suffered in our nation's armed forces, was the victim of a
court case based on a lie and the liar won.
Immigration, jobs, freedom of
religion, medical care, racial animosity, war, bullying, education, politics,
energy development, biased journalism, judicial activism, homosexual rights,
and the list could continue of those issues that divide our country. Some of
the solutions proposed by both the left and right are absurd. (I heard one opinionated man propose a law
that for every illegal alien who crosses our Southern border we deport a
liberal democrat to wherever the illegal came from.) We won't solve anything with absurd one-sided
nonsense. We're not going to solve these problems by not getting involved. We won't solve them by shifting responsibility
to a bigger and more powerful central government anymore than we'll resolve
these problems by tossing out the rule of law and becoming a bunch of vigilantes.
On this Fourth of July, our nation's birthday, it might be well to remember
this country has a constitution, one many of us believe was inspired by
God. It is our own unique set of laws by
which this country is to be governed and by no other. Real solutions come
through open discussion, compromise, respect for others, and turning to God.
America isn't perfect. Our history has its share of heroic events,
dark tragedies, idealistic splendor, and cruel injustice. It isn't enough to say "but it's better
than any other country in spite of its faults." It's up to us to be aware and be involved, to
make it the best. Though I respect and admire all the many lands my family derived
from and wish them well, even cheer for them in sporting events unless they're
playing America, the USA is my native land and I'm proud to be an American.
It's customary on birthdays
to wish the one celebrating a birthday many more birthdays. On this birthday of America it is my fervent
wish that all we Americans in our various shades of red, white, and blue get
our act together and make sure we have many more birthdays to celebrate in the
future. Let's ensure many more Fourth of July celebrations by standing up for
what is right, getting involved, and appreciating what we have.
I love the 4th of July and what it symbolizes for Americans. Independence Day, a day when a tenuously organized coalition of states, with little money or central powers, and only a rag-tag army for defense, declared a separation from England--at the time, one of the mightiest countries on earth.
When the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, John Adams wrote this historic letter to his wife: "I am apt to believe that this day will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forevermore."
For most Americans the 4th is a day when families get together and enjoy parades, picnics, and fireworks. It's also a time when we should be talking about the wonder that is America. What a grand idea for the grown-ups to find a copy of the Declaration of Independence, read through it, and share its meaning with the younger generation of patriots.
Certainly prepare for the 4th of July by making that favorite family potato salad and buying fireworks, but also remember to share stories of the courage of the Founders as they brought forth this wondrous document.
"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."