One morning, when I was four-years-old, I awoke earlier than usual and said goodbye to my daddy when he left for work. It was six days before Christmas and that was the last time I ever saw him. He died in a car accident that night. A few years later, I went to bed and woke up the next morning to find that my mother had passed away during the night. My sister and I went to live with my mother's parents who raised us to adulthood..
As a young child, I was left with some very deep questions. "Where were my parents?" "Would I ever see them again?" "What happens when we die?"
Before my mother's death, she'd investigated many religions looking for her own answers including the Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and Unity Church. While at Unity Church one Sunday, I asked about Jesus. I wanted to know more about him and who he was. I was told he was everywhere. "In my hair," I asked.
"Oh, yes," the lady said.
"What about in my fingernail?"
"Yes, he's there too."
Well, I looked at my fingernails and clearly, Jesus was not in them.. Her answer made no sense to me. Though I'd had very little religious training at this point, I did pray. And when I prayed at night in my room, I envisioned a man with a white robe with bare feet, listening to me. In fact, when I concluded my prayers, I quickly opened my eyes each time because I was sure I'd catch Jesus in the room with me. I was certain that Jesus and God, were separate people, real people with bodies. Like I said, I had no real religious teachings. My parents were not religious at all. We'd never gone to church before my father's death that I can remember. Yet, I was certain that the answers to my questions from the lady at the Unity Church didn't jive with what I knew in my heart.
Thus began my search. I wanted to know where my deceased parents were. I knew their bodies were in the cemetery that overlooks the ocean in Santa Barbara, but I didn't think that was it. I felt like they were actually somewhere else. Somewhere that I couldn't see.
One day, we drove past a large white building and I asked my grandmother about the building. She told me it was a Mormon Church and that she was a Mormon. I'd been living with her for some time and we hadn't ever been to church so I asked her if we could go.
The next Sunday, my sister, my grandma, and I all attended church at that big white building.
And you know what? When I asked the hard questions about my parents, these people had answers. Real answers. Answers that felt right in my little-girl heart. Answers that made sense to me.
My parents' mortal bodies are in that cemetery, but their spirits are not. Spirits do not die. Of this, I am sure. Many experiences in my life have proven this. There have been times when I knew my mother was so close, I could almost reach out and touch her. Times when others who have died have been near enough for me to feel their presence. Life does not end with death. And if it does not end with death, it cannot begin with birth. We are eternal beings.
For every hard question I've posed over the years, I can find answers. The teachings and beliefs, based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make sense to me. They resonate with me. And, most importantly, I've prayed and received my own answers from God.
I have a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. That he once lived on this earth with a mortal body and took upon himself my sins and suffered for them before he was crucified on a cross. I know that he rose that third day and was resurrected. And because he was, so will my parents. Just as Jesus saw his disciples and those he loved after he was resurrected, I will see my parents and those I've loved and lost over the years. Because Jesus then returned to live with His Father, I may also return to live with Him.
I am Mormon because in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have found the answers. I have found peace and joy in living the gospel. My life has had its share of trials, but through them all, I have had comfort and peace from my Heavenly Father who knows me, loves me, and cares what happens to me.
That's why I am Mormon.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Loud shrieks sliced the air, followed by the smell of burning cloth. Conner looked over in time to see Geoffrey jumping up and down, yelling and shrieking. Smoke poured from the seat of his shorts while blue and yellow sparks snap-crackle-and-popped all around the heater.
All thirteen-year-old Connor Dell wants to do is pass pre-algebra, play lacrosse, and possibly kiss Melanie Stephens. He didn’t mean to set anyone’s gym shorts on fire or make school lunches explode. But now that the strange powers inside him have been ignited, Connor’s normal teenage life is about to go up in flames!
Homework? Of course. Crushes? Sure. But who knew seventh grade included superpowers?
LOVE this book! Great story filled with plenty of humor, realistic characters, and a great battle scene. Bell has an incredible imagination that he's used to create an unforgettable story about three friends who discover they have powers. Powers they will need to use to defeat some pretty nasty bad guys.
The story is entertaining from start to finish and Bell's beautiful writing style makes for a smooth read. I highly recommend this book to anyone, kids and adults. It's funny, poignant, clean, imaginative. I really enjoyed the characters, all of them. They each have distinctive voices. I love the relationships between them as well.
And I love the message that good truimphs over evil. It's subtly and naturally woven into the story.
You can watch book trailers here: http://youtu.be/2_tokouvPUM, http://youtu.be/JznT4wGkfUc, http://youtu.be/cDNxWvZua7Q
You can learn more about the author at www.bradenbell.com.
You can purchase The Kindling at Amazon.
Friday, September 14, 2012
My 13-year-old daughter loves theater. She also loves basketball. She's played basketball through the years, but opted to do theater last year. During the summer she decided she wanted to play basketball this year. Her best friends also play basketball and they hoped to make the same team. We moms had already talked about sharing rides and doing the basketball season together. Last week, she went to open gym at our local elementary school to practice. She hadn't played for a while and wanted to get in some practice. Another mom very kindly offered to feed her dinner and take her to open gym with her daughter. When my daughter got home I asked her how open gym was. She said a father that was there with his daughter and his daughter both told her she should stick with theater and forget about basketball. The result? She decided she won't be playing basketball this year. Why do parents say things like this? To a 13-year-old. Even if it's true, keep your mouth shut. Comments like this only serve to hurt a kid's self-confidence. Being 13 is hard enough. Listening to rude comments from peers is hard enough. But from an adult? She was already self-conscious about playing and this comment shredded her. She's actually a pretty good player. She's tall and was often the high scorer when she played two years ago. And she loves to play. But now, even though I've told her that father was wrong and she shouldn't listen to him, it doesn't matter. She's not going to play.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
When my son was born and then diagnosed with Down syndrome I was worried he'd be a blob. So wrong. So, so wrong. Last week he decided it would be fun to shove a toy in the drain of the bathroom sink. And then turn the water on. Yep, water overflowed the sink and there was about an inch of water on the floor. We ended up removing the entire drain to take the toy out and replacing it with a new drain. While we were at our speech therapy appointment, the therapist left her phone on the table. My son quickly got into her text messaging and sent texts to her friends. I'd meant to warn her not to ever leave her phone within his grasp because he's an electronics whiz. (His favorite is to call 911, so I was relieved he hadn't done that). Yesterday, I took some leftovers out to our dog. When I came back to the house, my son had locked me out of our glass door (and all the other doors were locked). He stood there, grinning and laughing. I asked him to open the door. No way. Begged him. Not a chance. Bribed him with a treat. No dice. Told him he was in trouble. He simply laughed and left me fuming on the front porch. Thankfully, one of my other kids was inside and finally let me in after about ten minutes of standing there. Last night, I had to go to town to take my older son to repair his braces. We stopped at Walmart to get a few things. I called home. Who picked up the phone? My youngest son. He proceeded to "talk" to me. I asked him to take the phone to someone else. He said no. I begged him. Not a chance. Bribed him with a treat. No dice. Told him he was in trouble. Again, he laughed and kept going on and on in gibberish. I finally hung up. A blob? Not even close. Just a day in the life with my son.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Tonight is our high school's first football game and my daughter's first game as a cheerleader. She's very excited. She's wanted to be a cheerleader since she was a little girl. Some years ago, she made outfits for her sister and her and made up cheers when one of my sons was in soccer and they'd cheer at all of his games. She even initiated a cheerleading club at her elementary school. I'm thrilled she's now a cheerleader because she's always wanted to do it. She started practices during the summer. She was sure to ask the coach what days they'd practice when school started so I could make her orthodontist appointment and it wouldn't conflict with practice. The coach said Wednesdays and Thursdays, although that wasn't set in stone. Since our orthodontist lives in Mexico for one week each month, and he's very busy, we have to schedule out appointments 6-8 weeks in advance. I scheduled her appointment (and my older son's) on a Monday as well as a speech therapy evaluation for my youngest son (I like to schedule as much as I can on the same day so I don't have to go to town as often since it's 30 minutes away). What happened? The coach decided to change practices to Mondays and Thursdays. A huge conflict with the orthodontist appointment. My daughter let the coach know she'd miss that practice and why. The coach seemed fine with it. Yesterday, my daughter found out she'll be benched for a quarter tonight because she missed that practice. Color me not happy. I don't think it's fair that she asked in advance about the practice schedule, I scheduled her appointment so it wouldn't conflict, and then the coach changed the practice days and now my daughter will be benched. I'm still very excited about the game, well, not the game exactly, but watching my daughter do her cheers. She wore her uniform to school today and looked so cute. I can't wait to see her tonight.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
My three published novels have been for the LDS market with LDS characters and LDS story lines. My current book, Aura, is not targeted at the LDS market. No LDS characters, no LDS situations. Nothing at all LDS. The story is clean, but it is not LDS. It is about a teenage girl who discovers she has the power to fight demons. That power is directly related to virtuous choices she's made (not cheating, not lying to her parents, doing things for others, etc) including being a virgin. Because she's made these choices, she has a great deal of Light. Enough Light to pose a threat to a nasty demon. The story has demons, explores evil, but does not glorify it, and examines the effect of good vs evil. Since my other books are for the LDS market and this one is a young adult urban fantasy targeted to the national market, I wonder if I should use a pen name for publication? Pros: A pen name would allow me to separate my LDS books from this one, would make it so readers wouldn't be confused and expect an LDS story but get something very different, and would allow me to write more stories for the national market under the new name and establish a new presence. Cons: I've worked hard to establish an online presence as Rebecca Talley. All of my online networks are through Rebecca Talley. I don't want to ignore the fact that I've published other books. It might seem like I'm trying to hide who I am, which I'm not. Trying to establish an online presence for the pen name would take a lot of time and take time away from writing. What do you think? Do you expect an LDS-themed story from me? Would it bother you to see that I'm writing an urban fantasy? Please, let me know what you think. Thank you for your help!