Tuesday, September 29, 2009

He's Married

What an incredible day filled with great happiness and joy. My son was sealed in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple on Friday to his sweet, beautiful bride. I have never seen him smile so big and be so happy. I was very grateful to witness his marriage and so thankful he was sealed in the temple.

Parenting isn't always easy. It's fraught with plenty of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, mistakes. Of course, happy times are sprinkled throughout as well. As parents, we sacrifice our time, talents, and energy in raising our children. We teach them, pray for them, and suffer with them. They occupy our thoughts, spend our money, and teach us patience. Every once in a while, we have a "parent payday." The first time I went through the temple with my son, the day he went into the MTC, and the day he returned home from serving an honorable mission were all "parent paydays." However, Friday was the biggest payday yet. To see him kneel across the altar, pledging his life, love, and eternity to his wonderful bride and make covenants with her and the Lord made me realize how truly blessed I am. How truly blessed we all are to have the gospel and the opportunity to seal our families together for all of eternity.

Friday overshadowed all the begging and pleading to turn in homework, to keep curfew, and to clean his room. Friday overshadowed the dirty underwear he'd leave in the bathroom regularly, the damage done to the cars when he was learning to drive, and the times he'd spring things on me with no warning. Friday overshadowed all of it. The potty training, the arguing while he was in middle school, the parent-teacher conferences when I learned he hadn't turned in assignments, and all the time I spent driving him back and forth for school activities. Friday trumped everything. It was a glorious day wherein I saw the fruits of my labor. Parenting certainly isn't easy, but it's definitely worth it, especially when you can sit in a sealing room holding the hand of your child, knowing that he's in the right place, at the right time, being sealed by the right authority.

In a world where morality is belittled and religion is mocked, where messages on every side urge us to to break commandments, where the world delights in ridiculing standards, it is no small feat for a young couple to enter the temple worthily and make covenants with the Lord. Friday, Satan had to admit defeat as my son and his new bride exited the temple, sealed for time and all eternity as husband and wife. Though Satan will continue to work on my son, as he will work on me and everyone else, he did not prevent this sealing. That is definitely cause for celebration.

Yes, Friday was a payday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Taking Chance" starring Kevin Bacon

We've signed up for Netflix so we've been able to watch some movies that we hadn't been aware were even available. One of those was Taking Chance with Kevin Bacon.

I was not prepared for the emotional depth of this movie. It's an HBO movie so I'm not sure it was ever in theaters, and I'd never heard of it. But, wow, what a powerful movie.

Bacon is a Marine Corps officer who has a desk job. He analyzes statistics and then presents reports. He's safe. He's not in battle. His life is not on the line. He goes home to his family every night. And it bothers him. So he obsessively checks the lists of soldiers killed in battle. He discovers that a kid from his hometown, who he doesn't personally know, has been killed in action in Iraq and his body needs an escort. Bacon's character volunteers to escort the fallen soldier back to his grieving family.

Thus begins a journey that not only changes Bacon's character, but anyone who watches the movie. I was touched by the respect given to this young man as his body traveled across country. I was touched by the care with which the military personnel prepared his body and made sure his uniform was perfect. It stirred within me a deep reverence for those who willingly put their lives on the line and face combat each day. This fallen soldier had a family, friends, a life, a past. He affected so many people in life and in death.

What makes this story even more powerful is that it's true. At the end of the movie when Bacon's character wonders what good he's done, another character tells him that he's Chance's witness. If he doesn't tell the world about Chance then Chance will be forgotten. He's the witness that Chance lived and gave his life to serve our country.

I'll warn you, make sure you have plenty of tissues because you'll need them. This is an emotionally wrenching movie, but definitely worth watching. I think I've been too detached from those serving in the military and haven't realized what the soldiers and their families have to endure. I'm sure I don't know the half of it, but Taking Chance has helped me think about those in the military, and their families, in a more profound and grateful way.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Thoughts after Stake Conference

We attended stake conference this last weekend. Elder Spencer J. Condie was our visiting General Authority. He's a great speaker and has some extremely funny stories. I really enjoyed his talks.

I always enjoy the evening session for the adults because I don't have to wrangle kids and can actually listen to the messages.

Our stake president is a very inspired man. He shared a story about when Elder Condie arrived for the conference and they had some time before the meetings began. Elder Condie wanted to make a visit to someone in the stake and our stake president thought for a moment. He felt like it was important to visit a previous stake president who'd been ill. While they were there visiting, he quietly passed away. That's inspiration.

We are also preparing for a new temple presidency so members of the current temple presidency spoke at our conference. One of the sisters, who I just love, shared some stories about how serving in the temple presidency has blessed their lives, including seeing their non-member son-in-law finally embrace the gospel and join the Church. She then shared a story about her daughter whose unborn child was diagnosed as having either Turner's syndrome or Down syndrome. She said they all prayed that the baby wouldn't be born with either one of these syndromes and when the baby was born she did not have either one. She related what a blessing that was for their family. Of course, I had a different reaction to that story.

I realize that no one wants to have a child with a genetic abnormality. We all want healthy babies and there's nothing wrong with that. But, wonderfully amazing blessings also await families of children who are born with Turner's syndrome or Down syndrome. I cannot begin to explain how my son has blessed my life in ways he could never have blessed it otherwise. I cannot begin to explain the closeness that our family feels to each other and to my youngest son. I cannot begin to explain how his birth was a testament to me of Heavenly Father's plan for each one of us.

Yes, the world will look at my son differently and, most likely, treat him differently. But, for all of his challenges in mortality none of them will keep him out of the celestial kingdom. Mine will. In the eternal scheme of things, he is not the one that has a disability, it is me.

This sister's comments reinforced my extreme gratitude for my son. I am in awe that Heavenly Father would entrust such a child as this to me. I am thankful every day that He sent my son to me and only hope I can be the mother He wants me to be.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Route by Gale Sears

The Route
Gale Sears

From the back cover:

Zipping along life¹s highway . . .

Fifty makes you think. Thirty makes you morose, and forty makes you
panic, but fifty makes you think. Half a century, and what is my life?
Does it resemble anything I dreamed at sixteen, or expected at twenty,
or hoped at twenty-five? What am I doing here? . . . I thought of
climbing to the top of a high mountain in Tibet to consult a wise man,
but I like vacations where there ís indoor plumbing and vegetation.
Since I already attended church, I thought perhaps I could pay closer
attention. Maybe I¹d been missing a great fundamental truth. Well,
come to find out, I had been missing something. . . . (excerpt from The

Carol, a middle-aged wife and mother, is pondering the meaning
of life. On a trip to the grocery store to find some energizing dark
chocolate, she sees a sign asking for volunteers to deliver meals to
the elderly. When Carol decides to take a chance and help out, she¹s
in for a life-changing‹and route-altering‹experience.

I recently read this book and, wow, what a delightful, inspiring, and thought-provoking book. I LOVED it. The voice of the main character, Carol, is humorous and insightful. She discovers truths about herself while she freely gives service to the elderly people on her lunch route.

I grew up with my grandparents so I spent time with seniors. This book took me back to the time I spent with older people and made me feel nostalgic for that time in my life. Older people have so much wisdom and we seem, as a society, to forget that. The Route reminds us to value those who have lived life longer than we have.

I loved the characters and how Sears was able to make each one unique. I loved that she included death as part of the reality of living with, and serving, the elderly but didn't make that the focus of the story. Instead, the focus is on the individual characters and their personalities and their value to Carol, the main character, and to society in general.

I highly recommend this book. It's an easy read with lots of introspection and humor sprinkled throughout. Do yourself a favor and read it. You'll love it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Hello, Pants, Good to See You Again"

I seem to have fallen into the "wedding planning vat" and can't get out. I never knew how much there was to do in getting ready for a wedding, and this is my son--can't imagine when it's a daughter. Whew! Things seem to be coming along (if they'd stop making changes that'd help). I've been sewing dresses, calling to make plans, making reservations, finding addresses, figuring out the Open House, etc. It's a bit mind-boggling.

At this point, I've lost 29 lbs. I still have 7 lbs to go to meet my goal weight and think I may try for a few more after that just to cushion myself in case I gain some back. I've been able to pull clothes, even pants, out of my closet that I haven't seen in ages. My kids tell me not to wear them because they're all outdated now, but I reply that the fact that I can wear them again completely overshadows their fashionability.

After so many years trying to lose that baby weight, I'm really excited to have found a way that works for me. Since it isn't too radically different from how I was eating before, I think I can stick with it. Mostly, I've cut out the nightly bowls of ice cream, Oreos (we had two bags of Oreos the other day and I was sorely tempted to eat some but I refrained), brownies, and other junk food. I have replaced the junk food with sugar-free fudgesicles and ice cream bars so I don't feel deprived.

I exercise about 45 minutes a day to my DVDs, but have knocked that back to 30 minutes because I have so many things to do at the moment (sometimes I even count painting or other physical projects in place of my regular exercise).

I'm still hoping to reach my goal before my son's wedding, but since it's now less than 3 weeks away I'm not sure I can lose another 7 lbs. However, any more weight I can lose will be good and as long as I can fit into the dress my daughters talked me into buying I'll be happy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Altared Plans, Chapter 1, Part 5

Several hours later, Caitlyn awoke to her mom standing in the doorway with a tray in her hands. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you. I wanted to leave you a little something to eat.” She placed the tray on the nightstand next to the bed.

Caitlyn wiped at her swollen eyes and sat up. She cleared her throat, “I’m not hungry.”

“Maybe later.”

Caitlyn shrugged.

“How are you feeling?”

“Sad. Confused”

“I’m so, so sorry, sweetheart.”

Caitlyn nodded. She toppled back down on her bed and her mother snuggled up next to her.

“I can’t believe he dumped me for another girl. Why didn’t he tell me he didn’t want to get married?”

“Maybe he was afraid.”

“He fell in love with a girl on his mission. Who does that?”

“I don’t know.” Her mom brushed her hand against Caitlyn’s cheek.

“What will I do now?”

“Go back to BYU.”

“I can’t. I told everyone about the wedding. Every time I have to answer why I’m not married, I’ll have to relive the pain all over again. I can’t do that. My heart hurts too much.”

“People will understand.”

“Will they? I don’t even understand it.” Tears snaked down her cheeks.

“In time you’ll find someone else.”

“No way. I never want to be hurt like this again. I’m done with marriage. Forever.” She used her sleeve to wipe her eyes.

“You’re still—“

“I trusted him. I believed him when he said we’d get married. Even though we couldn’t see much of each other because I was at school when he got home from his mission, we talked on the phone and texted each other. He never said a word. When I came home to see him in October, he acted like we were still a couple. How could he change his mind like that? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t know, honey, but you life will go on. I promise.” Her mom stroked Caitlyn’s hair. “I called your apartment office and your contract hasn’t sold so you still have a place there.”

“Mom, I can’t go back. Not like this.”

“You can, Cait. You can pick yourself up and go back.”

“No. I can’t.”

“Even though this is something none of us expected, it will be a blessing.”


“Really. You’ll see. Heavenly Father knows better than we do. It’s far better that this happened now instead of after the marriage.”

Caitlyn said nothing.

“You still have more than a week before school starts again. Your dad said he’d take some time off work. We can all go to Provo and spend time together as a family before we drop you off.”

Caitlyn closed her eyes. She desperately wished she’d wake up in the Bahamas enjoying her honeymoon.

I hope you've enjoyed reading the first chapter of Altared Plans. I had a lot of fun writing it. If you're interested in reading the rest of the novel you can purchase it at Amazon, Seagull Books, and independent LDS bookstores. Thanks for your support!

P.S. I love the last line of the book.

P.S.S. I included some real events that happened when I met my husband at BYU. We met in the FHE group where I was serving as the "mom" and he was serving as the "dad." He tried to feed me one of his steers named Frank which completely freaked me out since I'm a certified city-girl (and he's a country boy). I met my future mother-in-law for the first time while I was dressed as a clown because I'd been volunteering at Special Olympics. I won't tell you any more secrets--you'll have to read the book :).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Altared Plans, Chapter 1, Part 4

Suddenly, Caitlyn couldn’t breathe. She felt like someone was gripping her neck so tight she couldn’t swallow. She eked out, “Is something wrong?”

The Haggertys both nodded.

Caitlyn clapped her hand to her mouth. Terrifying thoughts swirled in her mind. “What is it?”

Brother Haggerty began, “You know Justin came down here to spend time with Troy.”

Caitlyn nodded. Tears formed in her eyes while her imagination exploded.

“He . . . well . . .”

“Is he okay?” Caitlyn’s voice cracked.

“In a manner of speaking,” his mother said. She shook her head.

“Please, tell us what’s wrong,” Caitlyn’s mother said.

“We were supposed to meet for breakfast early this morning.” His dad kicked at the ground. “Justin didn’t show up on time. After almost half an hour, Troy came to the restaurant.”

“And?” Caitlyn’s head pounded.

“I don’t quite know how to tell you,” Justin’s dad said.

“Just say it.” Caitlyn wasn’t sure she wanted to hear what he had to say, but she needed to know.

His mother blurted out, “Justin is on a plane for New York.”

“A plane?”

“We rushed to LAX and tried to stop him. Really, we did. But, he wouldn’t listen to reason,” his dad said, anxiety evident in his voice.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying. Why would Justin fly to New York on the day of our wedding?” Her heart thumped in her ears. She felt her mother’s arm around her shoulder.

Justin’s mom let out a long sigh. “Caitlyn, Justin has gone to be with a girl he met while he was on his mission.”

“A girl he met on his mission?” Caitlyn blinked her eyes several times and her mother’s grip tightened.

“He’s not coming back. He said to tell you he’s sorry, but he couldn’t go through with the wedding when he’s . . .” her sentence trailed off.


“In love with someone else,” his father said.

The words sliced through her. She dropped the garment bag to the ground in a heap. Her perfect life was unraveling right before her. Intense sadness grasped her heart and squeezed it so tight she thought she might die on the spot.

“I’m sorry, Caitlyn.” His mom embraced her for a few moments.

“We didn’t raise him to act this way. I don’t know what’s gotten into him. He has a lot of explaining to do,” his father said.

Caitlyn stared at the ground. She’d been left at the altar, or as close to that as possible at the temple. How could he? Why didn’t he say anything? He led her to believe he loved her and would marry her today. Now, she was standing in front of the temple, deserted. Her life was shattered. All of her planning, her dreaming, and her love, was for nothing. She’d been abandoned on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.

“We’ll take care of everything. We’ll go in and speak with someone in the temple and call the caterer. We’ll let the bishop know and we’ll make sure everyone gets the word before the reception was supposed to start. Don’t worry about anything,” Justin’s father said. “It’s the least we can do.”

Caitlyn could hear Justin’s mom crying.

“Thank you,” Caitlyn’s mom said. She whispered into Caitlyn’s ear, “Let’s get you back to the car.”

Caitlyn sat in the backseat. She wasn’t sure how she got there. She was numb, floating somewhere between dreaming and awakening.

“What kind of a young man does this?” her father said from the front seat.

“Robert, don’t make her feel any worse. We don’t need to discuss it right now,” her mom said. “Let her work through this.”

Lindsay reached over and caressed Caitlyn’s hand. Caitlyn rested her head against the seat and stared out the window as they drove the freeway back toward Santa Barbara.

Today had not turned out at all like she had planned. She’d played it over and over again in her mind. How could Justin have fallen in love with another girl while he was supposed to be serving the Lord, and while knowing that Caitlyn was home waiting for him? She wrapped her arms around herself, amazed at the physical pain she felt deep within her chest.

When they arrived home, Caitlyn went directly to her bedroom. She closed the door behind her and collapsed on her bed. She never wanted to leave her room. She’d cried so many tears on the way home, she didn’t have any left. Her heart was smashed into a million pieces and her dreams were crushed. What about their apartment, their house on the Mesa, their four children?

In the blink or an eye, or the takeoff of a plane, it was gone.

Read Part 5 of Chapter One.

You can purchase Altared Plans at independent LDS bookstores.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Altared Plans, Chapter 1, Part 3

“Cait, you’re being way too dramatic. Get a hold of yourself. We’ll work something out, and it will be fine.”

“Mom, this is my one and only wedding day. I wanted it to be perfect, and now my veil is missing.”

Her mother checked her watch. “We need to get inside the temple. Your endowment session will begin in less than an hour and you need to prepare. You don’t need your veil until you leave the temple after the ceremony. I’ll make some calls and see if someone can go to the house and find it and then bring it down here.” She cupped Caitlyn’s chin in her hand. “Your day will be perfect and you will be a beautiful bride.”

Caitlyn closed her eyes and contained her breathing. She opened her eyes and said, “Thanks, Mom. And, thanks for coming with me. I know it’s hard for you to go to the temple without Dad, but I’m so happy you’ll be with me.”

“Me, too. I wouldn’t miss my baby getting married for anything.” Her mom wiped at her eyes.

“Mom, don’t get me started. I’m emotional enough.”

Caitlyn and her mom embraced.

Lindsay approached them. “I’ll take Dad over to the visitor’s center. Maybe he’ll like it. Or not.”

Caitlyn and her mother walked to the entrance of the temple and opened the large door. Caitlyn noticed the sign that said, “Members Only,” and wished her Dad could accompany them. She stepped inside, toward the desk.

She and her mom waited behind another couple and their parents, while a different couple stood in the waiting area holding garment bags. It was a busy day for the temple. She held her bag tightly. “I wonder if Justin is here yet. I can’t wait to see him.”

“I assume they’re here.” Her mom reached over and adjusted Caitlyn’s necklace.

After a few minutes, the outside door opened and Caitlyn turned to see Justin’s parents. She grinned.

Justin’s father motioned for her to come out to him. She looked at her mom and they both exited the temple.

“Hello, Caitlyn,” he said in a strained voice. He seemed distracted. Caitlyn figured it was due to the impending events of the day.

“Hi.” She craned her neck to see if she could catch a glimpse of her way hot, soon-to-be groom. Excitement welled up inside.

“I . . . we . . . well . . .,” Justin’s dad stammered.

“Where’s Justin?” Caitlyn said with a smile.

Justin’s mom stepped forward. Her eyes were bloodshot. “We have some . . . bad news.”

Read Part 4 of Chapter One.You can purchase Altared Plans at Seagull Books.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Altared Plans, Chapter 1, Part 2

“Looks like the weather will cooperate,” her mom offered. Caitlyn recognized it as her mom’s usual attempt at peacemaking.

Caitlyn gazed out of the window of her parents’ silver Jaguar. “I sure miss California weather. I can’t wait until Justin and I both graduate and we can move back to Santa Barbara and start our family. We’ll have two boys and two girls.”

“Sounds like you have it all planned out,” her mom said. She laughed.


“Not everything goes as planned, you know. You may end up with all boys or all girls.”

“Four children? Do you have any idea how expensive it is to raise kids these days? Especially in Santa Barbara. You need to be realistic,” her dad said.

“Don’t worry. I have it all figured out. Justin thinks I’m obsessed with planning everything, but that’s just his way of saying he appreciates me taking charge.” Caitlyn nodded her head.

“Where will you work?” her father asked.

“Me? I’m not going to work. I plan to stay home and raise the kids.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I want to be at home and take care of our house and the kids while Justin works and eventually takes over his dad’s business.”

“You’re going to waste your education raising kids?” her dad said.

Her mom cut in, “We’ll be at the temple in less than fifteen minutes. Robert, you charged the video camera and brought extra batteries for the digital camera, correct?”

“The batteries are in the camera bag.”

“I want to make sure we get plenty of footage. Maybe you can record them while Lindsay takes photos.”

“What about the photographer?” her dad asked.

“He’ll get plenty of shots, but I want my own, especially of the family and everyone who will be waiting outside the temple.”

Caitlyn’s parents continued to discuss taking pictures. She was grateful that her mom had sidetracked her dad. She laid her head back against the seat and shut her eyes. In a few hours, she’d start eternity with the guy she’d loved since high school.

“I can see the temple,” Lindsay said.

Caitlyn bent down so she could see the temple from Lindsay’s window. “I’ve always thought it looked a little out of place. I mean, L.A. is city everywhere, and all you can see is pavement and then, boom, the temple sitting on that big grassy hill. It looks so heavenly.”

She smoothed her hair again and took several breaths to calm her nerves as she gazed at the white building set against the clear blue sky. This was it.

They pulled into the parking lot and Caitlyn’s heart felt like it might jump out of her throat. Since the temple was only open this one day during Christmas break, she had to go through the endowment session right before her wedding ceremony. She worried it might be too overwhelming, but it was the only option if they wanted to be married before winter semester at BYU.

Caitlyn walked around to the back of the car and opened the trunk. She rummaged through the contents. “Mom, I can’t find my veil.”

Her mom stepped over to the car. “I thought you said everything was in there.”

“I put it in here. I’m sure of it. Where did it go?”
“Could it be in with your dress?”

Caitlyn unzipped the garment bag and searched through it. “I don’t see it.” Her face heated. Stress clamped down on her chest. “I can’t have pictures without my veil.”

“Calm down. We’ll figure it out.”

“How can it not be here? This will ruin my wedding.”

Read Part 3 of Chapter One.

If you'd like to purchase Altared Plans click here.