Saturday, May 31, 2008
The greatest honor I have had with my writing was when she read my book, gushed about how she had loved it, and then asked me to sign it for her. I don't think that I would have been more humbled if it had been the president himself asking for my signature.
Friday, May 30, 2008
It generates crossword puzzles—free. You make up the clues, like so:
Expected/ Sister Hinckley: It turned out better than I _____
Zoramites/ Holy, holy, holy hypocrites
Mooch/ Cat who showed up on Aunt Nikki’s birthday
You push “go.” POOF!—instant FHE lesson/activity. We’ve done family-specific puzzles, a puzzle that commemorated President Hinckley, Book of Mormon puzzles.
Most recently, we read through the Proclamation on the Family, then searched for puzzle clues in the text. Halfway through, my 9-year-old looked up and said, “This is fun!” Cha-ching!
If you try this, it works best “open-book,” with text containing the answers available for everyone. Sometimes I have to draw in a couple of lines that the printer left off the printed copy.
It’s fun, it’s easy, my family stays engaged with the material long enough to learn a thing or two. Jackpot!
My first son turned 13 yesterday. For each of our children's birthdays we give them a new responsiblity and a new privilege. This time, the privilege and the responsiblity came in the same package, a cell phone. While many of his friends (and many younger kids as well) have been toting cell phones for months now, we made our son wait. My husband and I love to share milestones with our kids by having them look forward to something and making it very special. We gave him the cell phone, but he must wait a year to receive "texting." He was fine with it because he knows he must "earn" the next privilege. Another privilege he received this year was a nice dinner out with just his parents. We went to a fine dining steakhouse where he ordered an appetizer, steak dinner and dessert. He sat with us and shared his first year middle school stories, challenges and struggles. As I listened, I decided that I was the privileged one at his birthday dinner because I got to listen to my now-teenage son share his desires, dreams and thoughts. I also got a new responsibility, raising my son to be a fine young man!
Woo hoo! School is out for the summer.
We've spent the first week of summer break building fences for our goats. We've already built 600 feet and still have 700 feet more to go. When we bought our property it had no fences so we've slowly tried to fence off fields. It's a long process, but in the end will be beneficial to our goats and their protector, Tina the llama.
To celebrate the end of the school year, my husband and I watched, Indiana Jones and the City of the Crystal Skull. I love the Indiana Jones movies (mostly because Harrison Ford is so cool). My teenage daughters remarked that they thought Harrison Ford was too old. Excuse me? He is Harrison Ford. Besides, if he's aged, that means I have, too. I enjoyed the movie, though it does call for a very large suspension of disbelief. Some of the stunts are somewhat unbelievable, but, after all, he is Harrison Ford, right? And the whole story is sci-fi. It was a fun way to start off the summer.
The rest of the summer looks to be very busy with theater camp, Scout camp, MTC camp, Youth Conference, summer jobs for my kids, and Wood Badge. Oh, and my son will be home from his mission in 11 weeks (but who's counting?).
Woo hoo for summer break!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
As we drove down Main Street in our historic little town of Ephraim, Utah, my 8-year-old son pointed to a sandblasted rock sign in a front yard and asked, "What does 'House of Seven Gables' mean?"
I shifted in my seat. "Do you see those little pointy roofs?" I asked, aiming my finger at a gable jutting from the old house's roof line. He nodded. "Those are called gables," I explained. "That house has seven of them."
"Big deal," my husband said from the driver's seat. "I think we should make a sign for our house and stick it in our yard."
My interest piqued, I straightened in my seat and looked at him. "What would our sign say?" I asked.
"House of Two Toilets," he intoned.
He shrugged while our son giggled in the back seat. "That's every bit as important as seven gables, if no moreso."
What else could I say? He was absolutely right.
If I did not know better, I would think that airline seats come from manufacturing facilities that make chairs for torturing people. Perhaps their objective is to add just enough padding to keep the passengers from screaming in pain the moment they take a seat. The flimsy padding allows the intense pain to be delayed just long enough for the main door to be closed and the seat-belt-fasten sign illuminated before really kicking in. Seriously, I have found something that decreases the discomfort these “chairs” a little. This past month I was on a flight and there happened to be a blanket and pillow on my seat. I decided to put each one on the arms of the chair to pad my elbows. It made a positive difference in the comfort level. For those of you who also suffer while flying try getting some elbow pads to see if it helps you.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
A couple of weeks ago my husband, Travis, and I attended the funeral of our friend’s dad. A very sweet moment occurred just after the first talk.
Travis and I were able to sit by Ben. Ben attended high school with us and he is mentally handicapped. Although not autistic, physically and emotionally, Ben reminds me of "Rain Man". At times he has difficulty speaking clearly and sometimes, no matter how hard you try, he just won’t answer you at all. He can also be a bit aggressive.
Ben is very close to the family of the man's funeral we were attending. This family often invited Ben over to their house and they also took him on family outings with them. They were especially kind to Ben when he lost his mother seven years ago.
While we were waiting for the funeral to begin, Ben kept asking me and Travis to help him find a pen so he could write down our telephone number. Nobody had one, which seemed to agitate Ben.
After the first talk, Ben stood up and walked towards the door. He was motioning and saying very loudly and urgently, “Travis! Come here, Travis! Travis, come here!” Everyone around was staring at Ben, and then Travis, and then back at Ben. Travis looked at me and I shrugged. He then stood up and followed Ben out the door and into the hallway.
After a few moments Travis returned alone. “What did he need—a pen?” I asked. “No,” Travis answered, “he needed a hug.”
Thank you, Travis. For reminding me that sometimes we need to take the time to follow when someone is beckoning for us to come.
By Kimberly Jensen
It rained all day on Memorial Day and spoiled our plans of planting flowers in my parent's flowerbeds. The rain also thwarted plans to drive downtown and visit the graves of my grandparents and Uncle Craig. Instead, we sat inside and made homemade bread while my youngest grabbed an umbrella and squatted on the back patio for a good part of an hour, mezmerized by the raindrops. As I watched the rain it reminded me of our makeshift "memorial day" earlier this year. I had driven with my kids and parents to St. George for a week. On our return home, we were driving the backroads of Fillmore, when my dad asked me to drive him by his childhood home and the graveyard where his grandparents were buried. It was raining that day as we pulled into the cemetary and my dad got out of the car and walked briskly to the back of the cemetary. At this stage in my father's Parkinson's Disease we often wonder where my dad is going and what he is doing. His actions don't always make sense and he often makes unreasonable requests and nonsensical comments. I followed my dad as he led me right to his grandfather's headstone, as if he had walked there a hundred times before. My dad stood there and told me how he would stay overnight at his grandparent's home and wake up to bowl of bread and milk and drizzle it with honey. The rain drizzled down on us as my father shared with me many fond memories of his grandfather. I held his hand and watched my three children stepping gingerly over the headstones and held onto the moment that would soon become just a memory.
My sister’s name is Estella Rose.We call her Stella which means Star. She has brilliantly shone with example, beauty and a beckoning spirit. To everyone she radiates invitation to partake of her Christ-given love. She, the oldest child of eight, was sixteen years old when I was born and has held my hand ever since. A few days ago doctors discovered that a melanoma in her eye which was treated two years ago with laser, has returned. Prognosis is now pending.
On Monday we met as a great clan at our parents’ graveside. We siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and cousins gathered to honor and hold in our memory the lives of those who once breathed every breath for our good and happiness. But I could not think of Mom or Dad. I could only watch my beautiful sister with her unfoiled grace, greet and tenderly minister love to each family member. There she was again our “Star,” still brilliant, still beckoning.
There at the cemetery, there in the middle of silenced mortality with headstones, lilacs and peonies, there with wringing sadness in our hearts, the sweet grace of Jesus Christ was our gift, and the two of us held three babies—the latest grandchildren—on our laps. They were absolutely breathtaking moments when we were able to feel strange happiness during our sorrow.
The power of His grace flows warmly over all the cracks and seeps into the wounds of mortality.
The power of His grace beams brightly through the realizations of love; it pulses with memory, true and sure of hope.
The power of His grace seals love, brings birth, stretches years, and softly leads to Heaven.
The power of His grace owns the future with its strung out questions and frightening speed.
This is my happiness still.
This weekend my family and I went camping at Tower Rock in Washington. It was a beautiful three days filled with silly songs, roasted marshmallows and glorious views. Since we were gone over Sunday, my husband got permission from the Bishop for our family to have our own sacrament meeting. I think Greg went a little overboard, asking most of the children to give talks, his sisters and brother and his wife to do songs and prayers and me to teach the Sunday School lesson. It was almost a three hour service by the end.
My topic for the Sunday School lesson was on how the Book of Mormon prepares us for the last days. While my children played a variation of "monkey in the middle" with a soccer ball in the field beside me, I opened the scriptures feeling quite confident that there was nothing new that would impress me. When we lived in Missouri near Adam-ondi-Ahman, there was such fervor over the second coming that I had studied it pretty intensely so that I wasn't sucked into common misconceptions. (Just so you know, there will NOT suddenly come a day when you get a phone call that says you need to be in Missouri by 5pm with your 72 hour kit. In 3 Nephi 21:29 it is pretty clear that if that type of gathering comes, it will "not be in haste, nor by flight.")
Anyway, so as I was once again reading about our day as prophecied by the Savior where he said that the Gentiles would be given the gospel and then dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity, I nodded at the decreased baptismal rate in the states and felt relieved that those who believe in Christ will not be cut off but then came the most fascinating verses of all in 3 Nephi 21: 12-14.
Verse 12 says that the remnant of the house of Jacob (or Lamanites) shall be among the Gentiles (us) as a lion among sheep and will tear them in pieces. I wrote in my margin when I was in high school that this could be in reference to the French and Indian War but given the increased issues with illegal immigration and gang activity, there may be a far more current fulfillment of this prophecy in ways I have never even considered. In Missouri and Oregon I have been amazed by the numbers of immigrants pouring in. According to http://www.immigrationcounters.com/, the total number is estimated at over 21 million and the cost to us as a country is in the billions. Over one million crimes are committed per year by these non-citizens, 2,000 of those crimes being murder and they make up over 25% of our prison population. (See http://www.usillegalaliens.com/impacts_of_illegal_immigration_crime_summary.html)
But the next verse is just as telling when it says "Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off their horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy their chariots." What hit me as I read those words was that I never would have considered their fulfillment to come by increasing oil prices. But when you think about it, what are our horses and chariots? Our cars and trucks. It says the horses are going to be cut off but the trucking industry (or chariots) may be destroyed. (Have you looked at the cost of deisil lately?) Food prices have gone up something like 18% in the last two months. This is scary stuff.
So now that I've worked myself into a tizzy, I quickly flipped back to section 38 of the Doctrine and Covenants where it says "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear." The only problem is that we moved last year and I gave away about a thousand of pounds of grain and canned goods. Well, I'm running to Costco to spend our incentive check right now.
by Shirley Bahlmann
On Memorial Day, my husband asked if we should do our duty and visit my dad's grave. You may think I'm strange, but I've never felt a compelling need to visit the graves of loved ones. We went to Daddy Dell's grave anyway, and washed off his headstone with a water bottle and an old receipt I found on the floor of my car. (Stupid birds!)
It's possible that my non-compelling desire to visit gravesites may stem from the time I first lost someone close to me. I was thirty three, and felt pretty miserable at Grandma's funeral. She had taken me in after I had my first baby in order to watch over my infant son while I rested. (Said infant son, Andy, is in this picture with me at my dad's funeral. Needless to say, he's no longer an infant.) My sister Rebecca, seeing my sorrow at Grandma's death, said, "Hey, Shirley, isn't it nice to know that Grandma will be there to greet you when it's your turn to die?"
All at once, my view of death did a one-eighty. Having funny, loving Grandma there to help me transition into the next life brought me great comfort indeed. That was something I could live with.
I have nothing against visiting graves. I'm fine with anyone who does it. Live and let live, I say. I just have no need to go there when that's not where my loved one is. They're in a brighter, busier place, but hopefully not too busy to meet the bus when I cross over, leaving my mortal body luggage behind.
Monday, May 26, 2008
When I was sixteen, I earned money for a brand new Mac Plus computer. At the time, that was a huge thing. I loved that computer--it was the joy of my life. That was when it all started. I began writing a novel. I actually thought I had invented LDS literature. I had never heard of Jack Weyland or Dean Hughes. I had only been a member of the LDS Church for two years and still knew very little. I really did not think that books about Mormon characters existed.
I threw myself into writing and could really imagine being published some day. Then, I went to college and had no time for writing. My Mac Plus was used for research papers and my novel was put to the side. Then came marriage, career, and children. There was no time at all for writing, and I rarely thought about that half-done novel from so many years before. I'd since discovered that there was already such a thing as LDS lit, but I didn't read any.
Then, in the summer of 2003, we were in Utah for a summer vacation. We only had a few minutes at the BYU bookstore before we had to hit the road, and I wanted something to read. I quickly scanned the shelves and grabbed a Jack Weyland book. That's what started it all. I was eager to read more and more and more. Later that summer, I was at a friend's house, and she offered to lend me two LDS novels. One of them was by Betsy Brannon Green. That book hooked me. All I wanted was LDS novels. I couldn't get enough.
I searched the LDS publisher websites, spent hours on Amazon and e-bay to get more books. Many late nights ensued as I devoured book after book. Unfortunately, I didn't know about Interlibrary Loan back then, so I bought most of the books on Amazon or e-bay and then sold them back so I could buy more.
Then, I just knew it. I knew I had to pull my old novel out and finish the thing. After more than 10 years of computer technology, my Mac Plus was so outdated, so after many days spent at Kinkos on their computers and after much frustration, I was able to transfer it to a Word document. I spent the next few months finishing it. It was quite awful, actually, but completing it made me realize that I could do it. I could write a novel. I spent months researching the business and read books about how to correctly write a novel. And, that is how I got here.
By Sidne O'Reilly
O.K, so I have twenty pounds to loose. Ugh! At my stage in life it takes more effort to accomplish what I thought was difficult before. Actually it is not as much the pounds that are a problem but what they are made of and where they are located. In doing research for my Spiritually Based Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle Program, I have come to learn that the biggest danger is not how much you tip the scales. Rather the size of your waistline is the greater indicator of health or the lack there of. A large waistline can put you in increased danger of getting:
High blood pressure
Colorectal cancer “
By Mayo Clinic Staff, Apr 16, 2007, Mayo Clinic.com, Women’s Health, Belly Fat How to Keep it Off. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/belly-fat/WO00128, (Accessed 05/22/08)
Even knowing that is sometimes not enough motivation to make the necessary changes. People are stopped from change by two scenarios:
1. The reasons for change are not important to them
2. They don’t have the confidence, knowledge or skill it takes to make the change.
So in the interest of self-motivation, what is important to me about making the necessary changes to create a spiritually based, sustainable healthy lifestyle?
In D&C 138, it talks about the spirits in paradise waiting to reunite their spirits and their bodies.How they seemed to long to have their bodies back. Do you get the same impression I did? D&C 138:15-17
15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
16 They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
17 Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fullness of joy. That they might receive a fullness of joy! So a fullness of joy is possible when the body and the spirit are united? How interesting. Yes, I believe that is true. It is with a healthy body I can complete my purpose here. How I long to do that. How I desire to be with my children and grandchildren as long as possible. How I want to be an influence for good and not a burden because of my poor health habits. I wish to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord as long as I possibly can.
I guess the real question is, “Lovest thou me more than these?” More than enticing food, more than the desire not to exercise? Do I love the Lord more than my lack of desire to figure out how to live the Word or Wisdom more completely? Can I live counter to the culture and eat foods that will promote my health even in public? Do I desire for my life to end on the Lord’s timetable or on the premature timetable that I set by going with the flow?
Is my desire to fulfill my purpose here on earth strong enough to make the needed changes? I have to answer with an unequivocal yes! A resounding yes! Will it be easy? Will I be perfect at it? Certainly not. I will need all the support I can get from my Heavenly Father. One thing I do know, I must prove by my actions that I love the Lord and what he has given me to do more than all of “these.”
I am cheering for you!
This past weekend was the annual Scandinavian Festival hosted in little old Ephraim, Utah, under cloudy skies. It didn't rain all the time, but enough that I didn't set up my book booth on Friday. On Saturday, there were sunny spots scattered around the skies, so up went my booth. I spread out my books and greeted passersby and handed out some book marks. By early afternoon, I'd sold about half a dozen books.
Then it was time to go do my storytelling stint, so I recruited my 8-year-old son to watch the booth for me. (This took place at the Ephraim Co-op craft store, so there was a cash register nearby for him to send customers to.) While I was at my storytelling station, my sister surprised me. She'd driven an hour and a half to visit, so when I was done with stories, we walked among the craft booths and finally worked our way back to mine a couple of hours after I put my son in charge. To my surprise, he had sold six books in my absence!
So I left again.
No, not really. My sister took my son down the street for something to eat from one of the vendors, and I stayed in my booth, listening to several people tell me what a good salesman my son was.
He actually started out as a preschooler in a cow costume handing out flyers for my pioneer books. Come to think of it, no one ever refused to take one from him.
From now on, he's coming to all my literary events. That boy has some sales magic in him.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Thursday night my son loaded our dishwasher and started the wash cycle. My husband and I were upstairs when a daughter rushed into our bedroom and shouted, "The dishwasher is on fire."
We thought she was mistaking steam for smoke, but decided to check it out. Sure enough, the dishwasher was in fact on fire. We hurried to disconnect power to the unit and found that the control panel had caught fire and had even melted in places. We have no idea why.
This dishwasher was a Kenmore with a stainless steel tub that we purchased in late 2003 from our local Sears store. If you happen to own a Kenmore, you may want to be careful when you run it, in case it catches fire.
Not too long ago, a house in our area burned to the ground. The cause was a faulty dishwasher. I shudder to think what might have happened had we not been home.
Be careful when running electrical appliances because you never know when something might malfunction and put your home, or worse, your family, at risk.
Friday, May 23, 2008
You can go to the Irreantum Contest page on the AML website for more information:http://www.mormonletters.org/irreantum/contest.htmlor you can scroll down and read the information below.
2008 Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay ContestAny personal essay up to 5000 words will be considered. The first-place author will be awarded $200, second-place $150, and third-place $100 (unless judges determine that no entries are of sufficient quality to merit awards). Winners agree to give Irreantum first publication rights. Deadline: May 31, 2008
Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please email your entry as an MS Word, WordPerfect, or RTF file attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org In the subject line, please write "2008 Personal Essay Contest." Include your name, the title of your submission, and your contact information, including address and phone number, in the body of the email. To facilitate blind judging, no identifying information should appear in the essay itself other than the title of the manuscript, which should appear as a header on each page. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2008.
The Charlotte and Eugene England Personal Essay Contest is funded through the estate of Eugene England. 2008 Irreantum Fiction ContestAny fictional form up to 8,500 words will be considered, including short stories and excerpts from novels.The first-place author will be awarded $250, second place $175, and third place $100 (unless judges determine that no entries are of sufficient quality to merit awards). Winners agree to give Irreantum the option to first publication rights. Deadline: May 31, 2008
Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please email your entry as an MS Word, WordPerfect, or RTF file attachment to email@example.com In the subject line, please write "2008 Fiction Contest." Include your name, the title of your submission, and your contact information, including address and phone number, in the body of the email. To facilitate blind judging, no identifying information should appear in the story itself other than the title of the manuscript, which should appear as a header on each page. Winners will be announced by August 31, 2008.
The Irreantum Fiction Contest is funded through a grant from the Utah Arts Council. With no official connection to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Irreantum and the Irreantum Fiction Contest are supported by a grant from the Utah Arts Council.
The line in the grocery store stood five deep as each mother waited her turn to place her purchases on the belt that carried them to the checker. Children of all various shapes, sizes, ages and races hung precariously over the side of the carts, under the carts and over the carts. I stood and smiled as I reveled in my freedom and thought of my precious darlings old enough to be left at home. The harried women tried to contain their brood, their groceries and their sanity among the bright lights and crowded aisles. Kids screamed, spit, bawled and begged. Then something two carts back caught my eye. An older mother was quietly talking to her preteen son as he held onto the cart with both hands. I watched as I saw her speak quiet words to the young man. "Stay right here. I'll be right back." She left him with the cart and walked away to get that last minute item that she forgot to put on her list. He stood there silently but with a smile on his face. The mother returned with two tubs of cotton candy and put them in the cart. "There I've got you your cotton candy," she said as she patted him on the back. She looked up and caught my eye. "He loves this stuff. He'll eat two of them in one sitting," she said smiling not worried about calories or sugar content or the latest news is on childhood nutrition. This mother was just bringing a bit of cotton candy joy to her blind son. He didn't ask for it but she knew the things that brought him joy. Do you know what brings real joy to those around you?
The Church style guide says to "set references to the standard works in roman type, and capitalize them" (6.14). Therefore, we write the Book of Mormon like so. Also, the is not capitalized when writing the Bible or the Book of Mormon, for example. Writers should also note that other sacred works, such as the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita for example, follow the same principles (7.49).
When writing the names of books within the standard works, capitalize the name itself, but lowercase the word book (7.44). As an example, one might write, "I read a few chapters of the book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon yesterday," or, "I love the stories in the book of Ruth."
And just as a sidenote for all of us who like to argue this point: the Church prefers we use "copies of the Book of Mormon" instead of trying to figure out if it's "Books of Mormon" or "Book of Mormons" (6.14).
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Today is the last day of school. I have been counting down the days. During the school year, it's a constant battle to see if I will get to the end of my driveway before the school bus. In years past, if we weren't actually at the end of the driveway, the bus driver would pass us by (even if we were only a few feet away). From late August until mid-May the school schedule dictates much of our lives.
Although we will be free from the established schedule for the next few months, we will still be busy with theater camp, Scout camp, MTC camp, Wood Badge, Youth Conference, mutual and ward activities, Scouts, Activity Days, gardening, and building fence for our goats (and writing, of course).
I often think of the primary song, "Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?" and wonder just when we can sit by a stream and lazily dream as we watch the clouds go by? Seems like life gets busier and busier and time disappears so rapidly. But, I have to remind myself, I need to take the time right now to enjoy my life and my kids who are growing up way too fast. Amidst all the activities, I need to take time to savor the little things like my kids splashing in a kiddie pool, ooey-gooey mud pies all over the walkway, silly stories made up on the spot, s'mores over an open campfire, or watching the stars twinkle overhead. Time slips by so fast.
So take time today to hug your spouse, call your mom, tell your child you love him or her, watch a butterfly flit from flower to flower, and squeeze mud through your toes. These are the things that make life worthwhile and these are the memories that will keep us company when time becomes a curse instead of a luxury.
We sold our house and are moving. I am packing up our home and 5 kids and renting for 6 months while we build a house. It is crazy around here, but I always know that there is a wonderful home-made meal in the freezer. All I do is pop it in the oven and we are able to sit down together for a nice meal.
Creamy Bacon Chicken
5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-3 oz pkg pre-cooked bacon pieces (not artificial)
1 can roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour
If freezing, see directions below. Otherwise, place chicken in slow-cooker. Mix all remaining ingredients together and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over egg noodles.
Freezing directions: Place chicken in a gallon size freezer bag. Pour sauce mixture over chicken. Seal and freeze.
You can see this recipe and more in my book "Girlfriends on the Go". Save yourself time, money and stress!
They are the ugliest edible creation in the world, but once I get one between my teeth, I want more, and more, and more! My sons think they're so ugly, they call them "dog food cookies," or worse. (Yeah, what biological process happens after a dog eats? If you've ever been around boys, you won't even shudder at the thought.)
I baked some dog food cookies yesterday. The recipe is simple. Mix two boxes of spice cake mix and one 28 oz. can of pumpkin. Toss in chocolate chips, nuts, or whatever else you want to try. (I once threw in some trail mix with delicious results.) Bake cookie-shaped lumps at 350 for about 20 minutes. (Adjust time to individual ovens.)
Once my delectable vegetable food group delights were done, I sat down with about six of them, a glass of cold milk, and a good book. While I was eating, my 14-year-old brought our dog, Bibs, in from her dog run. I was so lost in my book and my taste bud party that I didn't pay attention to much else. When I was through, I carried my plate back into the kitchen. Hey, the cooling rack was empty. I was sure I'd left half a dozen cookies on it. "Did you eat any cookies?" I asked Brian.
He called back, "No, they're disgusting. Why would I eat your disgusting cookies?"
Bibs came trotting into the kitchen, her brown eyes looking up at me with adoration. That's when I noticed the cookie sheet on the stove top, minus the fresh batch of cookies that had been cooling there. Only two sat in the far corner, huddled there as though afraid of something big and toothy.
"Bibs!" I cried. "Did you eat my cookies?"
She did not deny it.
I plucked one of the remaining cookies from the cookie sheet and opened the door. Bibs raced to her dog run and looked hopefully at me from between the bars.
"Yeah, you did it," I grumbled, slipping the cookie between the bars before latching the dog run door.
I couldn't really blame her. For all I know, she heard me call them "dog food cookies." At least she got her vegetables, but I'm not going to tell her that I have a bowl full of delicious dog food cookie dough chilling in the refrigerator.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
By Kimberly Jensen
Last night my dad got up to get a drink of water and fell in the hallway bashing his head through the wall, leaving a Woody-sized hole in the drywall. Woody is my dad's name. "That really hurt," he said to my mom as she struggled to help him to his feet again. She had sleep in her eyes and has not had a good night's sleep for months now. This was just another night episode in which she dreads. Last week he walked into her room in the middle of the night and told her, "Get up. It's time to go to church." She tells him its only Tuesday and he'll have to wait five more days. Last Sunday, he walked up to the church alone with his shirt half-buttoned and his tie askew causing concern for members as they tried to get a hold of my mom who had run her brother to the airport, thinking my dad would be asleep when she got home. Obviously, he didn't stay asleep. Parkinson's showed up on my dad's doorstep when his was 49 years old. First it took my dad's hands, then his nervous system, then his job, then his balance, his smile, his swallow, and today it is taking his brain. Yesterday the doctors confirmed that in addition to Parkinson's, Dementia is settling in. There are moments of lucidity where I can sit and have a two-sided conversation with my dad. There are other times when his look is far-off and I can't get a response from him. Today my mom took me to visit a rest home. My mom is a strong woman who has stood by his side, dried his tears, picked him up off the floor and wiped his face for many many years. But the question still remains as we explore the options that will help both my dad and my mom. What do we do with dad?
The baby is my only granddaughter so far. She is my stepdaughter Tara's baby.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
This isn’t a book review, because I can’t remember the name of the book. Or what it was about. Chances are the genre was fantasy or science fiction…but maybe not. It wasn’t life-changing or profound. But it was a wonderful read—engaging, uplifting, and fun.
I went around all evening with that just-read-a-good-book feeling, and when I said my prayers, here’s what popped out: “Thank You so much for the wonderful feeling of having read a really good book!”
A skeptical corner of my mind hadn’t ever bought into fiction-writing as a legitimate job/hobby, but this experience helped put the skeptic to rest. The just-read-a-good-book feeling is a real blessing, and it’s a gift authors are blessed to share.
Saturday Night I went to a Fountain Valley California Stake reunion in American Fork, UT. It was really fun. It was a reminder of how old I really am though. I saw friends that my sons and daughters use to hang out with when they were about 14 and 15 years old. Some of them now have children that same age. In spite of that it was a shear joy to see them after all these years.
I must share something very special I learned about one of my son’s friend’s daughter. She is only 13 years old and has been making a difference for others for over a year. Part of the Twelve Week Challenge is Purple, Service. What a great example this young girl is of someone who decided that she could do something for someone else. Her name is Meagan Hilmo. Her mother confided in me that at one time Meagan was feeling that because she was not interested in sports, did not excel at music or some other traditional form of talent that she somehow did not measure up. Meagan is a very talented and gifted person. Her talents are just not as obvious as some who perform on stage or field.
She was expressing her feelings of inadequacy to her mother one day. Her mother suggested that she look outside herself to see if she could make a difference for someone else. Meagan came up with an ingenious idea. When she was twelve she did a master project about Florence Nightingale. She was inspired by the fact that Ms. Nightingale gave a doll to a sick child. Meagan took that idea a couple of steps further and improved on it. She sews dolls and fashions kits that can be put together and assembled by other youth or service organizations. The dolls are then distributed to hospitals and shelters. But these are not ordinary dolls. These dolls come without a face, a washable marker and a poem that she wrote herself. The poem says it all:
A doll for you from a special place
Take the marker and draw a face
Happy, sad - whatever you feel
Then wash it - change it - as you heal.
With love from, A child who cares
What an inspiration for all of us. She is a great example of what we can do when we plumb the depths and strive to go beyond ourselves.
Thank you Meagan for sharing your gifts and talents in such a special way!
I am cheering for you!
You can find out more about Meagan and her project at: http://www.nightingaledolls.blogspot.com/
In the national market, the lifetime average sales for a book is 3300. This takes in to consideration the books that sell over a million copies. That is very surprising to a lot of people.
In the LDS market, the average book lifetime will sell 3100.
You have to remember, that lifetime means from the moment it comes out until the moment it is not longer printed. This could be 40 or 50 years.
Monday, May 19, 2008
My publicist just told me that I hit 1250 sales today on my book "The Crayon Messages." Now I suppose that is better than zero but I do have mixed feelings. I wanted it to take the world by storm. Considering the size of the Mormon market, it is a good start. I am happy but the number seems somewhat sterile.
In contrast, my sister emailed me yesterday and I danced around the room. Here's what she said, "Both my husband and I read your book while we were on vacation. We LOVED it. In fact, DH started it first. He kept saying, "Wow, Christine is a really good writer. She's able to say so much in a few words." Then the next time he read he'd say, "I'm so impressed with Christine, she is really excellent writer." SO that that was it, I took the book and finished it, before I gave it back and then he finished it. I have to tell you, I laughed out loud and I cried. I totally enjoyed it. Anyway, I'm totally impressed and so happy for you. Love you and Congratulations again!"
Now for me that was exciting. My other friend gave her mother-in-law one for Mother's Day. She ran up to me at church and said she loved it and laughed and cried and couldn't wait for the next one. That made me thrilled too.
My first novel is more than entertainment. It is a celebration of the role of women and their ability to touch the lives of those around them. I hope it is both empowering and eye-opening, making mothers realize the joy of their callings and the great force they can be for good. If you haven't read it yet, I'd be grateful if you'd give it a try- you might like it.
By Kimberly Jensen
The water tingled as I stepped into the cold current. Within minutes my ankles were bright red but I kept walking downstream, gingerly stepping on each rock, gaining my footing and then moving on. I heard a splash and then a thud and turned around to find my sun-kisssed sister on her bottom, laughing as the water lapped over her shorts. The fall had splashed droplets of water onto her face and her slightly wet bangs hung over her deep set blue eyes. Those eyes were the color of the summer sky and they sparkled as she laughed. I went to her and gave her a hand and a hoist and we laughed together as we continued our journey down the creekbed. The sound of the rippling water brought me back to the present as I watched my own sun-kissed daughter walk down the creek and fall onto the rocks, scraping her elbow. She laughed as she stood back up, showing me her newly acquired injury. I stood on the bridge watching her play with her middle school friends. I had walked down to the creek just to check out the water level and make sure it wasn't running too quickly. There may be video games, ipods, dvds and cell phones in today's middle school years, but for today, there is just the sun, the water, good friends, giggles and the call of the creek.
A few years ago if I suggested we all google ourselves, some well-meaning person might have called my bishop and demanded he speak with me. In today's techno-world, though, most people understand that Googling our names and book titles is essential.
Not too long ago LDSPublisher challenged her readers to google themselves. She said each author should have a web presence and if you found your website or blog listed on the first results page of Google you were successfully creating/maintaining an internet presence.
I've taken her advice and regularly Google my name. I sometimes find interesting and unexpected results. Today I found the Salt Lake Library System site and learned that it has 22 copies of my book, Heaven Scent, in their system. Of those, only 1 copy is currently available. That means 21 copies are out or in the process of being checked out and people are reading my book. Woo hoo! People are reading my words and the story that's played out in my mind so many times. This may not be earth-shattering news to many, or even most people, but it's thrilling to me.
(And, if you go to the above site and click on the LDS Authors Blog to the right, guess where it takes you? Right here to our blog. Cool, huh?)
Go ahead, Google your name and see what happens. You might just find something that'll make your day!
When I was at work the other day, one of the students challenged another student to eat six small saltine cracker squares in one minute. The rules were: you can drink as much water as you want to before the minute and after the minute, but not during the minute. You can eat them however you want to (one at a time, all at once) but you must have them chewed and swallowed by the time the minute is up.
The student crunched and chewed and swallowed and swallowed. Crumbs spewed as he anxiously stuffed more crackers in his mouth. His eyes darted to the clock and the speeding second hand. By the time it reached the one minute mark, he still had crackers in his mouth.
It sounds so simple, yet appeared so difficult. I haven't tried this myself, but it would be interesting to hear if any of you or anyone in your family can do it. If you're of an adventurous nature and in the mood for saltines, then let me know what happens. See if you, or someone you love, can be the first six-saltines-in-a-minute champions of blogspot!
Then I'll tell you about the marshmallow cheek stuffer...
Mormon 9:15–17 The mighty power of our God. If people have "imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles," Moroni asks them, "have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles" (v. 15). Everything God has created is "marvelous in our eyes" and "who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?"(v. 16). God is more knowledgeable than all of us, and by the glance of His eye can move and shape worlds, let alone mountains. "By his word the heaven and the earth [were created]," and "by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and "by the power of his word have miracles been wrought" (v. 17).
Moroni’s words here are reminiscent of the words to the famous Christian hymn "How Great Thou Art," which celebrates God’s marvelous creations as well as the atonement. The first two verses are particularly in tune with the words of Moroni.
O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
I will never forget the experience of laying in the fields south of Levan, Utah, with my father one summer. As a "dry farmer," he was allowed only a few watering turns each year, and on this occasion he took me, his young son, with him. At night, we would eat a picnic supper on spread-out blankets in those fields and the bed down for the night under the vast star-filled skies. My appreciation for the power and majesty of God was born in those fields as my father explained to me that all of those thousands of stars were made by a mighty being who was also my Heavenly Father, and by His Son Jesus Christ, and that they knew me by name. The feeling I felt then still fills my heart with awe and gratitude.
The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke of similar feelings he had as a young boy: "I looked upon the sun, the glorious luminary of the earth, and also the moon, rolling in their majesty through the heavens; also the stars, shining in their courses, and the earth upon which I stood; and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters; and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in majesty, and in the strength of beauty, whose power and intelligence in governing...things [is] so exceedingly great and marvelous, even in the likeness of Him who created them. When I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed, ‘Well hath the wise man said it is a fool that saith in his heart ‘there is no God.’ My heart exclaimed, ‘All these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power.’" (A History of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr.. Joseph Smith's first and, so far as it is known, only attempt to record the events of his first vision in his own hand. Original is housed in the archives of the Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also in Scott H. Faulring, The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, 5.)
As I have grown older and more educated, my respect for the majesty of God and his knowledge has increased a thousand-fold. I find it incredible that anyone would rather believe the statistically-impossible yarn that all things "just happened" by chance. I suppose that if one does not want to believe in a Being of higher intelligence than their own, then they must come up with some kind of blind faith in something, however untenable it might be. And so, they buy into the myth of happenstance. I choose to believe in something more rational—that a being by His intelligence and advanced knowledge has mastered the creation of life and of worlds, and that I am a child of that same being. And so are you.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
I drove an hour and a half to the Cedar Fort author talk yesterday evening. (I went with a writer friend and my writer son, who is 14 and has great ideas but spends very little time actually writing.) When Deen Kemsley got up to speak, I was impressed with his great smile and easy presence. Then he began to tell the spiritual experiences from his book, which were interesting, but I had expected to find the amazing secret to his success of selling 1,000 books before they were even published.
Nice talk, wrong mindset.
Then, in the Q&A portion of the event, I discovered I was not the only one who wondered about his pre-sales success when someone asked, "How did you sell 1,000 books before it was even published?"
Deen gave us a sheepish grin, then said, "I asked a sponsor to buy a thousand books and he agreed."
At first it seemed so deceptively simple, I felt almost cheated. I chewed on his words while he answered some other attendees.
Then, when Deen asked if there were any more questions, I raised my hand and asked, "Will you endorse my next book?"
He laughed, then said maybe, then said he'd have to read it first. When I spoke to him afterward, he asked me what my book was about. I told him about Detours: When life throws you a curve just follow the road, and he said, "You've got me hooked. Send it along."
Well, whattaya know... just ask!
He spoke on how he spent three years writing the book. He also explained how he sold 1000 copies of the book to one man when it came out and how the man gave him back all of the books to give to leaders of Christian churches to give away. That is what I call Play It Forward.
If you want to get to know Christ better, you can purchase this national book, by clicking here.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
They were big, they were beautiful, and they were in the dumpster. Two huge boxes, big enough to reach from my head to my ankles, sat unappreciated, waiting for their final journey to the dump. How could I let these building blocks of imagination meet such an awful fate? There were castles and rocket ships and secret clubhouses just waiting to be built!
I recruited my big fourteen-year-old son for project "Save-a-Box." We each hoisted one up, up, and over our heads, upside down, so we were looking through little peep holes that were torn along the bottom. Walking with a big box on your head takes some getting used to. By the time we reached Main Street, we were moving at a reasonable pace, and were glad to find the crossing guard willing to hold up his STOP sign so we could cross without worrying about being blindsided by a turkey truck. I thought the most dangerous part of our journey was over, but that was before I decided to take a shortcut through the elementary school yard. That was real danger.
Curious children started squealing and pushing on our boxes, making me stagger to catch my balance. I don't know about you, but falling down is not one of my top ten favorite things to do, and falling down inside a box where I had no option of putting out my hands to catch myself is an even worse prospect.
"Hey, stop pushing us!" I yelled.
There was a moment of silence, then a small voice asked, "Are you Michael's mom?"
"Yes," I answered, claiming parentage of my third grader. Since I'm a minor celebrity at the school, working with producing social skill skits every month, most students know me. Once they knew who the alien box monster really was, the pushing stopped and we survived crossing a street on our own.
A block from home, a stream of wolf cub scouts flowed toward us, parting around the boxes like rocks in a river. Then I saw my son, Michael's, face through my peephole.
"Mom, what are you doing?" he asked, his cheeks turning red.
"Taking these boxes home," I answered.
"What for?" He tried to sound exasperated.
"To play with," I said.
"Whatever," he answered, and walked on to join his den.
When my son got home from scouts, he spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the boxes. I grinned, remembering all my cardboard box adventures, and marked double time on my walking exercise chart.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Emily, you posted a question on my blog but I couldn't find a way to contact you other than posting here. Were you asking how to link your blog to your web page? If you go to the blog's dashboard and then to settings, you will see a menu of options. Adding a link is one of them. Select that, enter the URL of your web page in the space provided, and then add a title at the top. I hope that helps. There are some very savvy bloggers on this site as well if that didn't address your question. Good luck!
2820 E University Dr # 102
Mesa, Arizona 85213
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Tell eveyone you know in the Phoenix area about it! :-)
By Kimberly Jensen
"Kill Your Darlings" is a piece of writing advice given by horror writer Stephen King in his book "On Writing-a memoir of the craft." I devoured this book and found it as entertaining as I did useful. I have read many books "on writing" that give sound advice on sentence structure, adjectives, character development and such, but none have the "in your face truth" that Stephen King gives on the craft. He says he has never once written a word with the intention of making money. That's easy for a guy to say who recieved over $600,000 for his first novel. But he does give good and entertaining advice, morbid as it may sound. By "Killing Your Darlings" he means you may love your work, be passionate about your story, but it really is a sticker, if you look close enough at it and from an objective point of view. You can still love your "darling" (story) but it's time to kill it and move on. Do you have any darlings?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
In my book Heaven Scent my main character's mother wears a certain fragrance. This perfume plays a pivotal role in the story so with the help of Karlene Browning at Urban Botanics I designed this fragrance to tie into my book.
Hope (Heaven's Scent)
Meet Liza, a lovely and talented young woman from the book Heaven Scent by Rebecca Talley. As Liza proves herself a basketball star, everyone—from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds—seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father, who has buried himself in his law practice.
When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn't know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has hope.
Hope is the name of the perfume worn by Liza’s mother in Heaven Scent. It’s a soft floral blend of jasmine, freesia and mimosa. This fragrance is pivotal in convincing Liza that despite her new reality, her mother is never far from her. Hope reminds us that families are forever and we are constantly encircled by their love.
Full bath and body package includes pre-mixed Urban Botanic product—an 8 oz. shower gel or bubble bath (select option below), 8 oz. body lotion, 2 oz. parfum spray, lotion pump lid, and puff scrubby (color dependent upon stock at time of order).
If you're interested in learning more you can go here.
We are often counseled in the scriptures not to “trust in the arm of flesh.” (Philip. 3:3) What does this mean to you as far as your health goes? Certainly it doesn’t mean to never go to the Doctor or listen to his advice. No, I don’t think this is what was intended.
As I reflect back on my own life, there have been many instances when we first had a priesthood blessing and were then given reassurance and direction concerning how to proceed. Often there were miraculous healings without the benefit or assistance of the medical profession. Sometimes direction was given to seek medical help. There were times in my life when going to the doctor was not an option. We were dependant upon the Lord and our own resources. How grateful I am for his tender mercies at times such as this. Perhaps this is one reason I might have a different view of what it means to have a spiritually based, sustainable healthy lifestyle. (This is my next book, based on the second priority of the “Twelve Week Challenge,” Orange, Health, Mental and Physical.)
I love the word of wisdom. After all it was given for, “the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days.” (D&C 89:2) In D&C 29:34 it says, “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.” Does this mean that the Word of Wisdom is a spiritual commandment? I think so. It is as much for the benefit of our spirits as it is our bodies. Isn’t it our desire to have a healthy body so that our spirit can shine through unfettered?
When is the last time you took a close look at the Word of Wisdom? Maybe this is a good time. Summer fruits will soon be available. What a great opportunity in this time of plenty to eat “every fruit in the season thereof.” (D&C 89:11)
How about all the wonderful promises that are made in the Word of Wisdom. Did you know that there are eight positive admonitions, three don’ts and five promises made in those twenty-one verses?
Can you find them?
On top of all this, if that weren’t enough, scientific evidence and the latest weight loss systems have a lot in common with the concepts given in the Word of Wisdom. If we adhered to the concepts in this revelation, the LDS Utah population would not have the following claim to fame. According to a BYU/Idaho professor, “The LDS culture in Utah is 14 percent more likely than those of another faith to be obese.” (Roy Merrill -- http://www.byui.edu/Scroll/archive/20060606/news3.html)
Knowing that this is a spiritual as well as a temporal commandment, maybe it would be a good idea to read it again, this time prayerfully seeking for your own personal Word of Wisdom to find the best way to apply it to yourself.
I am cheering for you!
It’s easy to remember to always capitalize someone’s name, but what about when you are referring to your mom and dad or grandma and grandpa? Kinship names are lowercased except for direct address, when they come directly before a personal name, or are used instead of a personal name. Terms of endearment are always lowercased. Here are some examples:
Why couldn’t Mom pick me up after school today?
You have got to be kidding me, Dad.
I went to see Grandpa Scott today.
I love Aunt Tabitha.
I love my aunt Tabitha.
My mom and dad enjoy hiking.
His grandpa is a great guy.
I love you, sugarplum.
If you’re still having trouble, here’s a quick trick: pick a name to substitute in place of the personal name or title. If it can be replaced (except in the case of a term of endearment), it is usually capitalized. I like to use the name Billy.
Why couldn’t Billy pick me up after school today?
Because you can substitute Billy for Mom, you know it is capitalized. But try it in this sentence.
His Billy is a great guy.
It doesn’t work, so you know to lowercase it.
You can use the same rules for other titles as well.
We saw President Bush at the store today.
We saw the president at the store today.
What did Bishop King talk about?
What did the bishop talk about?
My daughter Lisa is expecting her seventh child. Above the varied comments of her friends and neighbors, ranging from congratulations to condolences, is her joyful acknowledgment of Heaven’s consideration and blessings. Lisa concisely chose motherhood over medical school. Admittedly her life is not exactly what she thought it would be. Surprisingly she lives not with regrets over what she might have missed, but with awe over her circumstances and opportunities.
Living with fullness is the art of loving the life with which we have been blessed, including its restraints and requirements. Living with fullness is a plan that begs us to build upon lasting values instead of pleasure and to live with a thirst to drink in every moment with appreciation. Living with fullness is having the testimony that the same God who created the world, who filled the ark with animals, who parted the sea for Moses, who restored the gospel to the world is the same God who answers our individual prayers and presents the perfect opportunity for growth to each of his children in each of their needs in each of their details.
It is a testimony of appreciation. This appreciation is not limiting, but empowering. It fosters individuality instead of jealousy. It teaches us patience instead of annoyance and mercy instead of unrealistic expectations. Through this basic yet beautiful paradigm we are able to develop an eye for the art of a beautiful, important life.
The church in Italy began in 1965 when Italy became part of the Swiss mission. Some elders were sent to teach and baptize referrals that had gathered over the years of people interested in the church. In 1967 it became a separate mission with the mission home in Florence. Several cities were opened and soon after the first branches began to appear. My wife Fernanda first heard the missionaries and started to attend church in 1969, and there were already several members baptized at that time.
One of the first members at Padova was a lady named Alba who exemplifies the church in Italy. She and her husband are Sicilian, born and raised near Catania in the 1920’s. At that time in Sicily marriages were arranged by the families. As she explains young women and young men were not allowed to date to be with each other and even after engagement there had to be a chaperon with them at all times. In their small village to meet with the opposite sex they girls in the evening would walk around the piazza in one direction with their eyes downcast, and the boys would walk in opposite circles and they would eye each other. This was the only sight she had of her husband until the day they married. The woman’s role was absolute obedience and subjugation to her husband. They moved to Padova with their three children due to his work with the Italian railroad system. At that time Alba rarely left home. Her place was at home taking care of the children. Her husband would do the shopping and controlled all the money, because he didn’t believe it proper for her to meet other people and be seen without her husband. One day her oldest son met the missionaries and was impressed by their message. He invited them home and Alba was almost immediately converted. She and her son were baptized and from that point on nothing could stop Alba.
Not only did her husband disapprove but he tried to coerce her mentally and physically to obey and stay at home. She would have none of it. From the submissive wife who never left home she became a dynamo of energy for the Lord. She never missed a meeting, she became Relief Society president and she would take her daughter’s bicycle and ride all over the city visiting with the sisters. She developed her musical talents and became music director, director of the branch choir and later of the stake choir. She would sing in all the branch talent shows. She was a constant support of the missionaries and called every day to make sure they were all right. When I was a missionary and there was a postal strike that lasted more than a month and we were without any money she organized lunch and dinner for the missionaries among the sisters, so that I eat at her house almost every night for a month. When I fell in love with my wife the first person I went to was Alba who rejoiced with me.
Her whole family joined the church. Her husband eventually became branch president and spent most of his time in retirement supervising the missionary apartments in Northern Italy and her youngest son is now stake president in the Alessandria stake. She taught all three of my children in primary and I can’t think of a time that she didn’t have at least three or four callings. She was still riding her bicycle into her seventies, and has been the backbone of the Padova branch for 40 years. Now, as her health wanes her spirit never wavers.
by Shirley Bahlmann
Hey, it's out! My newest book, titled "The Pioneers - A Course in Miracles" is now available! Even though it doesn't have "Odd" in the title, it is the same format as my "Odds" true pioneer stories. Why the title change? Well, when the publisher first suggested taking "odd" out of the title, it was like they were asking me to cut off all my hair and dye my head chartreuse. That would be so odd! But when I thought about it, I realized how many people told me they had some of my books, but they couldn't remember which ones because they all said "odd." So then it seemed like a good tradition to let go, like birthday spankings. (I mean, what's the point of that?)
I'm very excited about this new book. It's slender enough to slip in your handbag and take anywhere to read, and contains uplifting and sometimes amusing stories of miraculous events from the olden days. You can read a sample story and order autographed copies from me at www.shirleybahlmann.com.
Well, I'm off to write another great book! Happy reading.
Monday, May 12, 2008
So, we’re reading and discussing the Proclamation on the Family for FHE. So far, so good. At the end, my son gets excited about the “disintegration of the family.” He pulls out his invisible blaster gun and gets right to work, disintegrating ours!
The only thing she wanted to do is to come home so she could see her two poodles. So for three hours, she sat and played with her poodles. She let them drink out of her cup, she fed them, and they slept with her. When it was time to go back, she wanted to go eat. I told her we could go anywhere she wanted. She only wanted Wendy's and we got her Wendy's. When we got there, she told us to go through the drive up. I thought she wanted to go in, so I asked her why she wanted the drive up. She said Leslie, her roommate, wanted a Wendy's salad, so she needed to hurry back and because it was lunch time.
Just like my mom, she ALWAYS has put other people before her. Even when she doesn't know what day it is, or who people are some days, she still looks out for others. And I am blessed to have her as my mother, now and always.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Today I taught the seniors in YW about heritage. It was a fascinating experience. We talked about inheritances and asked what spiritual gifts each girl felt they had inherited from their mothers. The girls responded with the gospel and then drew a complete blank. I was shocked because each had such incredible traits, values and perspectives that they had received at the hands of their mothers- so I told them what I had seen.
One girl had a mother who taught music for twelve years. April is a wonderful musician and is one of the most cast actresses in our high school. Another girl has a gift for beauty from her mother, not just in her clothing, hair and makeup, but the way she writes a page, expresses herself and in the gifts she gives to others. Everything she does is physically gorgeous. She recently did a modesty fashion show and the decorations down to the refreshments could have been catered by Martha Stewart. It was incredible!
Another girl is quiet and reserved as is her mother. Her tenderness allows her to see things and touch people that the rest of us may forget about. She is thoughtful and gentle in the way she words things. For someone who is boisterous and often unwittingly steps on people's toes, I sometimes wish I had that gift.
Finally the last girl in the class is down to earth and fearless in both social situations and in her choices. She has a confidence that totally detaches her emotionally from the approval of any group, which gives her the power to listen to her own voice. She loves to ride horses and works at a vet clinic, enjoying every moment of life. Her mother is the same way, but spends her time sewing, supporting her children and serving like a crazy lady. I love them both.
I brought a bouquet of flowers and asked each girl to pick the flower that reminded them of their mothers and to enjoy the uniqueness of each one. As they left, I thought of my mother who loved ideas and language. She encouraged open debate on topics of politics and social issues during dinner between the family and stayed current on all the latest Broadway plays and NY times bestsellers. She was a woman of brilliance and accomplishment who raised twelve children which were always her primary focus and enjoyed a strong writing career.
But I also had to admit that as a teenager I didn't quite appreciate her as much as I do now. Yup, I might have been one of those girls that drew a complete blank but now, I thank the Lord for the gift of my incredible mother.
Okay, we've all heard it, mothers are entrusted with the care and nurturing of children. That means in good times when they're performing and we watch and cheer, even if they're pulling their shirt over their head or hitting fouls or squeaking on the high notes. We're also in it for the bad times when they're running noses all over the house and coughing on the jello.
My 14-year-old just got over a bad case of the flu. One night when he was getting ready to sleep, I told him to take some Nyquil so he could rest. (Isn't that what they say in the commercial?) He said he couldn't take it because the warning label said not to if you'd been coughing for more than two days.
"Hey," I said, "We've talked to a doctor, it's fine!" But he still refused, until I called my doctor brother and had him tell my son over the phone that yes, he should take some Nyquil so his body could rest and heal.
After I hung up the phone, my son had poured medicine into the little plastic cup that comes with the bottle. He looked up at me and said, "Okay, Mom, I'm ready to take my shot of Mormon whiskey."
All I can say is, we mothers do the best we can. Really, we do.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Her name is Lidia Corina, but her family and friends call her Cory. She is my mother and her sacrifices have brought to pass my successes.
My mother came to this country in her early 20's, leaving behind her home, her country, her family--her life. Leaving Guatemala was difficult for her, and she missed it. The U.S was a strange land with a language she didn't understand. Her sister and many of her friends came here as well in search of opportunities not found back home. My mother didn't adapt easily and longed for home. However, she stayed to build a life--she got married and had my sister.
Her home still called to her, and she went back to her beloved Guatemala for a time. That's when I was born--in Guatemala. I didn't live there long before she moved back here, this time, leaving her home for good. I wonder if she always thought she'd go back for that is where her heart is, but she didn't. She stayed here for me, for my family because she knew we would have opportunities that may not be found back home.
She made the sacrifice to stay here in the United States to raise her family, and it was a sacrifice for her because she loved her family and country. For that selfless act, I will always be grateful for the U.S. is my home, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. She gave up her home so that I could have mine.
Every sacrifice that my mother has made in her life has provided an opportunity of success for me. She never finished school; she gave that up to help provide for our family. She cleaned other people's houses so that one day I could have a home of my own. Where I am today, what I have in my life is all due to her and my father.
It was she who led the way for our family to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If it hadn't been for her courageous step into the waters of baptism many years ago with no family by her side in support, I would never have joined this church.
All that I have--an American citizenship, a college degree, a writing career, an eternal family-- would not have been possible without her numerous sacrifices through the years. Those sacrifices, along with her continuous love have made my happiness possible. I know that there is not a possible way that I could ever show her how fortunate and grateful I am that I was born her daughter. And, I can only hope that one day I could be a fraction of the mother she has been and continues to be to me.
Friday, May 9, 2008
“I know you do.”
These are the last words my mom and I exchanged before she died. I had willingly helped to take care of my parents for several years while they struggled with various illnesses. Two years after my dad passed away, my mom lay very ill for several months. I had to leave town for five days. After the trip, as I drove home alone from the airport, I had a feeling that my mom had passed away while I was gone. I passed the mortuary where her body was to be taken if she died. For some reason, I stopped and went inside. They confirmed that my mom had died earlier that morning and that her body was there. My best childhood friend, Stevie, who had made arrangements to do my mom’s hair, arrived a few minutes later. While Stevie cut and styled her hair, I lovingly held my mom’s hand. She looked so beautiful and I knew she was finally at peace. The above words came to my mind. I was so grateful that I had been able to express my love to my mom before she passed away. I was even more grateful that she already knew.
Faye, Age 57, Utah, USA
I was nearing the end of my half mile walk home when I felt a tiny bit of something tumble gently into my hand. It was too dark to see what it was, but it just smaller than a green pea, was hard and had rough edges. When I got home I examined my windfall in the light. It was a piece of white gravel.
Where had it come from? I was walking under a tree when it landed in my hand. What would a piece of gravel be doing in a tree? Also, there wasn't much hand for it to fit into. I had a tape player looped around my wrist, and my fingers were cupped around the strap. My sons wondered if it had been kicked up while I was walking, but I was on smooth sidewalk.
"It's a magic rock," one son said.
"It's a meteorite," said another.
"You could write a book about it," they both agreed.
So there you go. Ideas for books come from everywhere, even falling rocks.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I was so touched by these simple witnesses, and realized how much more pure they were than the many sermons and travelogues that the adults in our wards sometimes give. It might be tempting to think that these children are simply saying their words and do not really know what they mean. But I learned early on in my life, and continue to believe, that little children can definitely feel the Spirit and that they respond to those promptings (sometimes even more readily than the adults do).
Adult members of the Church who have received the Gift of the Holy Ghost are so accustomed to having these and the many other blessings of the Holy Ghost with them that they may tend to take them for granted—that is, until they lose this gift by some means. When the gift is gone it becomes very clear to them that they are missing a great blessing. But little children who are touched with the feelings of the Spirit are immediately aware that they feel differently in a very special way.
My earliest memory of life is lying on a wooden pew with my head in my mother’s lap during a sacrament meeting in the mid-1950s. I was then only five or six years old. As I lay there listening to her sing the sacrament hymn, I looked up at my father sitting on the stand as a counselor to the bishop of that ward. I was filled with a wonderful warm glow that penetrated every part of my little body. It was years later that I realized what it was—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. We make a mistake if we think that little children do not feel the Holy Spirit, even at a very young age, because I felt it very distinctly, and I remember the feeling to this day.
Boyd K. Packer said, “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a ‘still small voice.’ And while we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling.’ Revelation comes as words we feel more than hear.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 77).
No person in these latter days has received more revelation through the Spirit than the Prophet
Joseph Smith. His words on this subject are interesting and instructive:
“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, sel. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 151).
We learn over the course of time to discern when these whisperings to our minds are of God, in particular when they are accompanied by the manifestations of the Spirit to our hearts (D&C 8:2). And little children are particularly pure and therefore particularly adept at feeling such promptings.
I have to share with the you the synopsis of my new book so that when it comes out I hope you will want to know more.
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Feladelphia was the only relative Etcheon had, as far as he knew. The little village of the Meadows was the only place he had ever lived. But in his seventeenth year, his Granna Fella (as he called her) died, leaving him alone in the world, or so he thought.
The people of the village were very kind to him, that day, as they were every day, and wished to take care of him, but the little cottage he called home, waited for his return.
It was on his return to his cottage that a soft light and a gentle voice drew him to the forest near the road. It was there he first met Tarainisafari and her family which consisted of an owl, a panther, a horse, an eagle, two large Danes, and a two-headed lamb.
It was like a dream and he considered it a dream when he found himself suddenly in front of the cottage without knowing how he got there.
Then came the visit from a stranger, dressed in an odd apparel of suited clothes, and carrying a satchel at his side. From his mouth came the most unbelievable story, though it was true. From inside his satchel, came letters and documents that would reveal Etcheon’s true identity and direct the rest of his life.
Soon Etcheon found himself swept into another world inside the world he knew, and another time, not knowing if it was the future of things yet to come or the past of what already was. Or was he entwined in both? Whatever it was, Trainisafari and her family of animals would prepare him for the true beginning of his life and his destiny.
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Oh, how I hope that stirs your imagination and makes you want to know the whole story.
What is our responsibilty to our readers? Should we write profane, vulgar, sexual, or violent scenes if it rings true with our story and characters? Where do we draw the line?
An e-mail list to which I subscribe has recently had a discussion about this topic. Strong feelings exist on both sides.
For me, I can only write what I'm comfortable writing, which may be different for someone else. We can argue back and forth as long as we want, but it comes down to this: we must be true to ourselves in our art. We must be comfortable with what we create within the context of our own personal values and morals.
If I find something offensive in a movie or a book, I have the right to walk out or throw the book away. I do not have the right to dictate to others what they create. What is offensive to me may not be offensive to the next artist because art is so subjective.
At the end of the day, I have to feel that what I've produced doesn't conflict with my own personal values. That is my right and my responsibility.
What do you think?