Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LDStorymakers Conference

I was fortunate enough to attend the LDStorymakers conference over the weekend. We took some of our kids and my wonderful husband played with the kids while I attended the conference.

What a fantastic experience. The conference was so professional. The classes were helpful and well-prepared. The atmosphere was fun and invigorating. People were willing to help one another. It was well worth the drive and effort for me to attend. I loved seeing friends and making new ones. I enjoyed the presentations and meeting my publisher, Lyle Mortimer.

You could feel the excitement in the air even though most of us were completely exhausted. I thoroughly enjoyed talking about writing for two days instead of Barbies, Legos, what to cook for dinner, and who didn't load the dishwasher. It was refreshing to be around people who don't think you're crazy because characters have conversations in your head (and sometimes you get involved in the conversation).

It was so much fun. If you are at all interested in writing and are able to attend the next conference, I highly recommend it. It's growing every year and each year it gets even better with more opportunities available.

Now it's time to come back to reality and wash 10,000 loads of laundry, taxi my kids from one activity to another, and figure out that age old question, "What's for dinner?"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Wanna Be a Bestseller by LDStorymakers

I'm still trying to recover from being out of town attending the LDStorymakers conference, but thought you might enjoy this video. Are they funny or what?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Great Family Home Evening Book

Famous Family Nights
Anne Bradshaw

Definitely put this book on your list. I know I am. I can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Son is a Life Scout

Woo hoo! My son is a Life Scout. My oldest son earned his Eagle about 7 years ago and I remember vividly the work that goes into going from a Life to an Eagle, but I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel for this son. Wahooooo!

He attended Scout camp last summer and earned many badges, most of which were electives (shocking, I know). So now all he has left to earn are 5 required ones (i.e. the ones that aren't very fun according to the boys). He's actually started all of them but needs to finish them up. Now we're in the home stretch, thankfully.

Scouting is defiintely beneficial to the boys. Not only do they learn valuable skills, but there's something to following through with the Scouting program and finishing it up through the Eagle rank, you know, a stick-to-itiveness quality. I think it helps them feel a sense of accomplishment and teaches them that hard work is a good thing and worth it in the end. Of course, my husband and I have pushed our boys to do Scouting and I'm not sure they would've pursued it without our gentle encouragement (i.e. "No computer time until you've finished this badge."). I know, as a mom, that they'll be glad they earned their Eagles (at least that's what I tell myself).

So we're one step closer now--and to think I only have two more sons after this one :).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Modern-day Revelation

The idea of modern-day revelation seems to ruffle feathers. Many people believe that God no longer speaks to us, and that once the Bible was finished, He had no further interest in dealing with mankind.

Does that mean that those born during Biblical times were more deserving of God’s word and His love? Are we, during this time, not entitled to heavenly revelation? This sentiment seems to indicate that God is something other than a loving father who cares for every one of His children.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that He is our Heavenly Father and that He loves each of us. It makes sense to me that He would then want to communicate with us. He’s stated that desire specifically in 2 Nephi 29:9, “ . . . And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man . . . .” Heavenly Father plans to continue communicating with us and teaching us.

Many claim that the Bible is all we need and that anything else, specifically the Book of Mormon, is false doctrine, or the doctrine of the devil, because we have no more need of God’s word than what is contained in the Bible. It’s similar to the idea that since I taught everything I thought was important to my older kids, I don’t need to teach anything to my younger kids—they can get all the information they need from their older siblings. After all, I’ve already said everything I needed to when I was raising my older kids, why would I need to keep teaching the younger ones?

Fortunately, we have the scriptures to teach us, “Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written” (2 Nephi 29:10).

Heavenly Father isn’t done teaching us. He continues to communicate with us personally through prayer and personal revelation, and as a people through his prophets and apostles. General Conference allows Heavenly Father to communicate to all of us as He teaches us through His servants.

Though He said and taught much in the Bible, that doesn’t mean he’s finished speaking to us. We have been blessed with modern-day revelation to help guide us in these confusing latter-days. To think He has abandoned us, or doesn’t care, simply because weren’t born during biblical times seems ludicrous to me.

He loves each one of us as much as anyone who came before us. He wants each of us to return to Him. His purpose is clear in Moses 1:39, “For this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” What better way to do that than to continually teach us through modern-day revelation?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle and Erroneous Assumptions

You've probably heard the buzz about the 47-year-old woman who wowed the judges on a British TV show similar to American Idol. Her name is Susan Boyle.

The video clip is posted at YouTube but it wouldn't let me embed it so here's the url if you'd like to view it. Or go to YouTube and input Susan Boyle--there are several versions.

She's amazing. Her voice is so clear and so gorgeous. Breath-taking really. Inspiring. Brought me to tears. It was obvious that no one expected that voice to come out of her. Why? Because we're all so shallow to think that only "beautiful" people can have such a voice.

What a shame that we miss out on so many people and their talents simply because they don't fit into our definition of pretty or beautiful or cool or ________ . We judge others by the way they look. We make assumptions about intelligence, social ranking, economic status, and talents based on how we perceive someone else's physical beauty or, in our opinion, lack of it.

For example, a large, multi-level marketing company, advises its salespeople to buy a Cadillac and make sure to drive the Cadillac to appointments so potential customers will assume they make a lot of money selling their products and will want to sell the products as well. After all, it's the appearance that matters.

We are a visually stimulated people and because of that we make erroneous assumptions. Susan Boyle proved it perfectly when she sang. The looks on the judges faces was priceless as they realized their mistaken judgment of this woman's talent.

I hope Susan Boyle will become super successful. Even more, I hope people will realize that you can't judge a book by its cover. Bravo, Susan Boyle.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Faith of Jesus Christ

I love General Conference weekend. It’s a wonderful opportunity to snuggle with the family and listen to the messages. We eat plenty of popcorn and other treats while we relax. It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite talk because I enjoy all of them. Each of the talks has something for me. Even through the television broadcast, I can feel the strong testimonies of those speaking and the Spirit fills my home.

At the last conference, I believe, Elder Wirthlin struggled a bit with keeping steady during his talk. Russell M. Nelson stood up behind him and gave him the extra support he needed to finish his talk. That simple gesture brought tears to my eyes and communicated the great love and respect the brethren have for each other.

One of the talks that especially struck me during this conference was Jeffrey R. Holland's talk on the atonement. Though there was some chattering going on at my house, the Spirit enveloped us as he spoke about the Savior’s last days of mortality.

I listened to his talk through tears because I felt completely wrapped in the Spirit. He recounted the time in the Garden of Gethsemane. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea how the Savior physically endured such sorrow and agony. I know how painful it is to lose someone I love to death or, worse, lose them to sin. I cannot imagine the depth of the pain he suffered, or how he did it.

I don’t know that I’ll ever fully comprehend His sacrifice for me. I have thought about it over the years as I’ve struggled through my own trials. Knowing that He experienced all the feelings that I have has helped me. One thing I’ve never considered, though, until Elder Holland's talk was His faith.

Since Jesus communicated regularly with Heavenly Father and lead a perfect life in which He was entitled to the constant companionship of the Father, I never thought about what it must have felt like when the Father withdrew as Jesus hung on the cross and uttered, “ . . . My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? “ (Matthew 27:46). During that period of time, Jesus had to rely on His own faith that though He couldn’t feel the Father’s presence, He was still there. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Isn’t that how it is for us? I have felt Heavenly Father’s influence more strongly at certain times of my life. I have experienced undeniable answers to prayers, but as time passes and memory dims, I have to rely on my faith that He’s still there, that He still hears and answers prayers, that He is real.

During that critical time on the cross, Jesus did, in fact, experience what it is like to be mortal without that constant connection to Heavenly Father. Not only does the Savior know every emotion that we can have, He also knows what it’s like to experience mortality without the direct influence of Heavenly Father.

Jesus has experienced the range of emotions that we have. He knows what it’s like to feel the Spirit depart—just like we do when we break a commandment. He understands each of us because he’s experienced it, including relying on faith. That’s why the atonement works and why we must allow it to work in our own lives. He is the Redeemer of the world.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Admit It--I'm a Sap

Yep, I am. I cried when Scott MacIntyre was voted off American Idol last night. I knew the judges wouldn't save him. I'm so sad he was voted off. He's such an amazing musician. I was blown away each week when he learned a new song on the piano--maybe because it'd take me months to learn a song. I really liked his voice, too.

The judges are so hypocritical. They are always advising the contestants to take a risk, go out of their comfort zone, do something new. Yet, when Scott did exactly that, they all criticized him for it. Makes you wonder if the judges even know what they want to see from contestants.

I think he did a great job. I'm so impressed that he didn't let his visual impairment slow him down. He owns that impairment, it doesn't own him. He's showed America that no matter what your dream is, you can go for it despite obstacles that stand in your way.

I know the show is about the best singer, but I think Scott showed us another side of a true American Idol--one that doesn't let anything prevent him from pursuing his dream.

I will miss him and his personality and wish him the very best in all he chooses to do because I'm sure there's no stopping him.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Confessions of a Completely (In)sane Mother by Kersten Campbell

Warning: do not read this book while drinking milk because the milk will definitely come shooting out your nose while you laugh at these stories (and who needs another mess to clean up?).

This book is filled with hilarious stories. I'm sure, I think, that Kersten Campbell isn't actually insane--though I did wonder a few times. I laughed out loud at her stories, probably because I could relate to them so well (I still think she planted a video camera at my house and recorded the antics of my family).

I read the chapter, Older but Dimmer, out loud to my kids because it starts off, "It's a proven fact that once a child turns thirteen years old, a parent's IQ score suddenly drops ten points. It's true . . . just ask them." My kids totally believe that my IQ drops at least 50 points when they become teenagers. Oh, and I become very old-fashioned, too, doing everything the old way.

I loved the chapter about the Cub Scouts tying everyone up in knots. She hit the nail on the head when she described having a den meeting with a bunch of boys.

This book is a perfect gift for any mother, even for those who have "normal" families. (I personally don't know what it's like to have a normal family).

Buy this book for your mom, grandma, mother-in-law or any other woman who needs a good laugh. Laughter is the best medicine and for me, after all the things my kids do to me, if I don't laugh, I cry.

Fun and funny book--I recommend it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Think . . . .

it might be spring at my house--finally. But, shhh don't say anything, I wouldn't want to jinx it and send spring scampering away with Mr. Frosty Winter taking its place.

I love this kind of weather. I love the warm, but not hot, sunshine and the breeze that still has a little bite in it, but not enough to make it cold.

We planted our garden seeds last night in these little peat pods. I'm not much of a gardener, actually I have a black thumb, but we'll see if these little doodads work or not. We have a shorter growing season here in CO--not quite enough time to get so many tomatoes I get sick of them. We usually get enough tomatoes to whet our appetites for garden produce and then it freezes. Or the goats eat them. Or the dog digs them up.

I'm so looking forward to warm weather after a long and cold winter. I can almost taste fresh tomatoes . . . almost.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Service Brings Happiness

One of my favorite movies is First Knight with Sean Connery, Richard Gere, and Julia Ormond. It makes me cry every time because it’s such a tragic love story. I love King Arthur and want him to be happy, but also want Guinevere and Lancelot to be together because they are obviously in love.

One of the things I love most about this presentation of King Arthur is his love for his people and his desire to teach them to love one another through service to each other. Though it comes wrapped in a Hollywood movie, this is a true doctrine.

Malagant, played by Ben Cross, wants to “liberate” King Arthur’s subjects from having to serve each other. He tells the subjects that they should live for themselves and not have to serve anyone else. What Malagant fails to understand is that selfishness does not bring happiness or peace, while service to one another does.

As I watched this movie recently, I was struck by the similarities to King Benjamin. In Mosiah 2 King Benjamin teaches his people a crucial doctrine, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).

Serving others is an integral part of the gospel. Heavenly Father knows that we love those whom we serve. In order to learn true charity, we must learn to serve. Serving others benefits all involved. Often times, we are providing something that someone cannot provide for himself. This is especially true when we do temple work. Serving others allows us to become more like the Savior.

Selfishness is a cancer that continues to spread across our society. Too many people focus on serving their own needs and ignore the needs of others. Parents fail to teach their children the concept of helping others. Society’s message is to please ourselves, to focus on meeting our own needs, and not worry about others. Is it any wonder that more than half of all marriages end in divorce? We are far too self-absorbed.

Schools, and even our government, in recognition of society’s focus on selfishness, try to institute programs forcing students/people to serve others. Of course, we know it doesn’t work that way. Service should not be coerced, but rather the principles of service should be taught in a loving way.

We need to teach those around us that when we serve others, we are serving God. When we take a meal to someone who is ill, sit with someone who is lonely, change our baby’s diapers, do the laundry, send a birthday card, paint someone’s home, thank our spouse, or offer to babysit for a neighbor we are actually serving God. Opportunities for service continually surround us and each time we take the opportunity to serve, we are blessed with peace and joy.

King Benjamin understood the importance of serving and he taught his people to serve by example. We must do the same. “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

American Idol

Some of the performances on Tuesday night were amazing. I loved Danny Gokey's performance. Rascal Flatts is one of my very favorite groups and I love the song, What Hurts the Most. It's such an emotional song anyway, but even more so knowing Danny recently lost his wife. As soon as he started the song I had tears rolling down my cheeks. He did an excellent job.

I also loved Kris Allen's performance. He blew me away. He's consistently performed well the last few weeks. I really like his voice.

Scott MacIntyre also did very well. "Just the Way You Are" is an all-time favorite song of mine and he did a great job on it. He's so talented on the the piano.

I wasn't surprised that Megan Joy was sent home last night. She has a unique voice and she's beautiful, except I hate that huge tattoo all over her arm, but I didn't care for her performances over the last few weeks.

I wish Lil Rounds would choose a Mariah Carey song. She has such a powerful and beautiful voice but she keeps choosing songs that seem to hide her voice. I keep hoping she'll choose a song that will really showcase her voice.

I also like Matt Giraud. I think he has a great voice and he's an amazing pianist.

As you can tell, I'm addicted to American Idol. I love to watch people share their talents and then watch them improve each week. I'm always a sucker for a talent show.

And, it's always interesting to see what outfit Paula will come up with next. Will it have a feather or just look like a tutu? Oh, and it's fun to see if Simon can be even more arrogant than the week before.