Tuesday, December 16, 2014

WIP RUN Updates and First Reviews

I just wanted to take a minute to mention the progress of my first novel RUN. It went to press just before Thanksgiving and I was told that copies of the book arrived at the publisher last week. Hopefully I will see my first published novel in paperback soon! It is now up for sale online only at Deseret Book. If you want it for Christmas, that is your best option, though you'd probably need to order it soon. I'm not sure when it will be available in stores, but if you see it, I'd love if you'd pass on the information. As much as I'd love to spend all my spare time in DB, I don't think that's going to happen. ;)

I sent out reader copies of the book as well and the first reviews have been popping up on the usual sites. If you are interested, check them out at Amazon, Goodreads, or Deseret Book. A couple reviews have also appeared on blogs, which you can check out as well.

Stand and Shine Magazine

Rachelle's Writing Spot

I will be doing a launch party and maybe a signing sometime in January, so keep an eye out for that and some giveaways. Finally, we added a little bit to the front cover of RUN so here is the new version.


When Supermom joins Dad on his latest project, sixteen-year-old Morgan is left with her aunt. Instead of dating the cute boy from her high school track team, Morgan will spend the summer in a small town near Kanab, Utah, five hours from home and all of her friends. Her plan is to keep a sane distance between herself and her aunt’s six boys. What Morgan doesn't expect is being attracted to the neighbor kid who hangs out with her cousins. How can she like two guys at the same time?
Just when her life couldn't get more messed up, Morgan stumbles across an abandoned house and learns she lived there when she was small. The house and its secrets haunt her—it turns out she’s been dreaming about the place for years. All she wants is to hold onto what she loves. But as the summer passes, she wonders if she’s going to lose everything. 



I hope you are having a great Christmas season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Gift of Nothing


I visited my mom on Sunday. Every December she pulls out her Christmas book library. It's several boxes big. No matter what your mood, she's got the Christmas book for you. She lines them up in baskets and puts them out for people to read.

And there it was, seemingly waiting for me.

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell.

I was a teenager when I first read it. I can't remember where I was or how I ended up with it, but I remember reading it that first time and crying. Though I hadn't seen it in nearly ten or more years, it felt like a bit of me.

I freed it from the other books and showed my mom. Even just holding it brought back an wave of emotion. "Do you remember this book?" I asked her, certain it had to be somehow as etched on her mind as my own. She did. She remembered me reading it that first time. It must have been hiding all these years and in hind sight I'm pretty sure it ended up there by Divine Aid. I didn't get a chance to reread it as the kids needed attention, but when Mom offered to let me have it, I didn't protest. I felt a little guilty taking it, but only because I wanted it. Which is selfish. I felt selfish over this book.

I hoped to read it to my son before bed, but he announced that he'd already read it, without any emotional reaction aside from mild bewilderment that I got so excited about it, and, no, he wasn't interested in reading it again with me. The Gift of Nothing was placed somewhat regretfully in my own stack of Christmas stories and forgotten by the time my husband and I got halfway though The Desolation of Smaug and went to bed.

Yesterday, I contacted a friend who has cancer. Since finding out about her cancer I've been emotional. I've wanted to visit her, but holidays and sickness made it impossible until this week. Last night I poured over the planned visit and wondered if there was something I could bring my friend that would ease her suffering. What do you give someone who might be dying?

My little one brought me the book at some point and I ended up on the couch with my kids reading The Gift of Nothing. If you haven't read this book, a sweet little cat wants to give his friend a gift but doesn't know what to give someone who has everything. He decides to give "nothing" and the book is about his search for nothing and what happens when his friend opens a big box of nothing. I was crying by the time I reached the last page. For the first time all evening, I felt peace.

Sometimes our best gifts are nothing. Sometimes they are silent, empty spaces that don't need to be filled. Or fixed. Or changed at all.

My son didn't understand. I pulled him under my arm and we sat on the couch and talked about nothing. Then we shared a little bit of nothing, just for ten seconds or so, the prefect amount of nothing for a seven-year-old.

I can't quite vocalize the sadness I've felt thinking about my friend, her cancer and how much I wanted her to say "I have cancer, but things are looking better, the treatment is working." I wanted that because I can't see my life without her, not since day one almost fifteen years ago. Sometimes I find bits of her words and views, her loves and stories inside myself, permanent parts of the person that is me, little things still working on me, changing me, making me into a better someone, telling me to dream big. I want to hold on to her. Because I am selfish like that, too.

Last night, I remembered another gift, equally as empty as nothing might seem at first glance. It was the reason the first Christmas gift was given. The reason a Creator of Worlds descended to Earth as a humble baby. That gift didn't come until many years later, but it came. Quietly, with a dawning morning, a rolling stone, and an empty tomb.

Emptiness. A gift of nothing.

When I go to my friend's house, I won't bring anything. I don't have something that can fix what she's going through. I can't change her pain or make anything right. All I have is my time and the reflection of a Savior's gift in my empty hands.

But what a gift nothing can be!

I hope you find a lot of nothing this season. I hope you enjoy it with someone. And when all of the craziness dies down and is past; when you see empty boxes and an empty tree skirt; I hope you see one last gift lingering there. In all the emptiness you encounter, in all the nothing you share, I hope you always find your Savior is there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reading Corner: Hailey's Comments by Kristy Tate

I picked up Hailey's Comments as an e-book because I loved Kristy's other book "Stealing Mercy." She did a great job with this one, too. It's a clean read, which I love. Though it is definitely a Romance, it doesn't read like your typical "girl meets boy and falls in love" story. I find it refreshing that it keeps that aspect from compelely taking over, alowing Emma a chance to grow and change. One thing I love about Kristy is her ability to write deep characters. Yes, this is about a girl and a boy, but the characters are real and well developed and the setting on a insulated island is like a character in itself. To add to the charm, there are great secondary characters and you've got to love Emma's huge ugly dog. I also enjoyed the addition of a mystery and a bit of suspense. Everything comes together in a great finish that was totally satisfying. This is one I'll read again.


No one knows that sassy but shy Emma Clements is the voice of her grandmother’s advice column, Hailey’s Comments, until handsome Ryan Everett discovers the truth. To avoid his teasing questions and his you-can’t-fool-me remarks, Emma and her ugly dog Wyeth flee to sparsely populated Lister Island in the Puget Sound, where Emma intends to devote the summer to her painting and art.

On Lister Island, Emma encounters a pistol packing priest, a pair of greedy organic food farmers, an octogenarian jail keeper and Ryan Everett. Soon, Emma is much more concerned about her heart than her art. After a series of disturbing coincidences, Emma suspects that the life of Helen Dunsmuir, Lister Island’s recently deceased grande dame, is tied to her own. As she unravels the secrets of Helen’s life—and untimely death—Emma learns that problems are rarely solved with a quip or platitude, and that it’s better to love than to comment.

Monday, December 1, 2014

My Life: Getting Ready for Christmas

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving Break. I broke out Christmas decorations on Saturday and even had a enough energy to put all the decorations on this year. Of course, now our tree is starting to look like it's going to tip over with all the stuff weighing it down. My son was really excited when I pulled out the giant fluffy Christmas dog. Unfortunately, this is the first year when he has competition for it. We are having some of our first disagreements over who gets to smash their face in it and use it like a pillow. The baby carrying a dog the same size as her around is hilarious.

I got my son to pose for a photo in front of the tree.
Yes, that is the baby's feet and the Grinch over on the right. She wouldn't hold still. She wanted to roll around with the dog and kept stealing it from my son. The Grinch just isn't as cool. Finally we resorted to selfies with her in my lap in front of the tree. 

I hope you are all getting into the Christmas Spirit! If not, check out this video from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of my Savior, I am surrounded by my beautiful family. I'm so grateful for the first Gift of Christmas.
#ShareTheGift

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Have to Give You

I read your blog. All three posts.
And then the one the next week.
I wanted to say something,
To ask you where you've been keeping all those words.
Brave, raw, powerful, honest words.
Have I never heard you speak?
We might have spent years of our lives in silence,
Looking at the same people.
Talking about everything that doesn't matter,
Too afraid that we'll be judged. Too busy judging to stop being afraid.
And last week I was too afraid I'd say the wrong thing.
But God is not a God of fear.
He is a God of love.
Casting aside my fear
leaves me with a reality more solid than
any silence,
any pain,
and anything you or I have ever done
or could ever do.
Love.
Like warmth reaching through every dark night,
crying alone, hurting alone,
penetrating every angry, cutting thought,
"you're not good enough," "you can't fix this."
Illuminating all for what it is:
Lies
Because with love we are so strong,
so powerful, so unstoppable
that Satan can't afford to let us get there.
No matter what you do.
No matter what you've done.
No matter how many times we've not known what to say,
or how many times we wished we were better or
could make right the things falling around us,
I love you.
Like soul deep, you better keep on fighting, don't you dare give up,
love.
It's in the silence.
It's in the words we cannot speak.
It's in the tears I cried for you.
It's absolute. It's permanent.
And that's as close as I can get to God.
And the only thing real I can give you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP: RUN

I signed a contract for my first YA contemporary novel! It's coming out sometime in the next few months and will be available through Deseret Book distributors. I'm so excited to finally be getting this book out. It's been in the works for a really long time. As in maybe I might have written a version of the opening when I was in high school.

So ten-ish years later, I got this in my email:

I could do a happy dance about this cover. Perfect.

Here's a bit about the book:

When Supermom joins Dad on his latest project, sixteen-year-old Morgan is left with her aunt. Instead of dating the cute boy from her high school track team, Morgan will spend the summer in a small town near Kanab, Utah, five hours from home and all of her friends. Her plan is to keep a sane distance between herself and her aunt’s six boys. What Morgan doesn’t expect is being attracted to the neighbor kid who hangs out with her cousins. How can she like two guys at the same time?
Just when her life couldn’t get more messed up, Morgan stumbles across an abandoned house and learns she lived there when she was small. The house and its secrets haunt her—it turns out she’s been dreaming about the place for years. All she wants is to hold onto what she loves. But as the summer passes, she wonders if she’s going to lose everything. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

To Everything a Season, To Everything a Purpose

I'm pretty sure the light in this picture is
God sending rays of love right onto my family.
How cool is that?

I've been on break for summer break. If you count summer break as a break. I did attempt around four posts, none of which made it to the blog. And if I'm totally honest, I also stopped writing, pretty much completely.

Instead I took a road trip to Idaho, where I managed to take the wrong way in the only two possible places to take the wrong way between Utah and Boise. (No, thank you, Pocatello, I will not be visiting you this summer.)

I spent a great afternoon with my aunt talking about family stories. Later, I read a story she wrote about my grandma and cried. How amazing, how alike our feelings and experiences can be, even through three generations.

I went hiking several times, and lost my cool homemade baby carrier somewhere near a river. If you found it, I hope it went to doing some good. I've been imagining someone being blessed by it somehow. ('Cause there's got to be a reason I'm so spacey sometimes. I mean other than genetics and not sleeping through the night for over a year.)

My baby got her first ear infections. For a month. I hate ear infections. She also went on a breastfeeding strike. She's over that. My son still hasn't learned to ride a bike without training wheels, but he can do the monkey bars like a true monkey.

I went to the library, to an evening of girls camp, and to writer's groups (even though I hadn't written anything.) I made things out of cardboard boxes and plastic containers, played in the sprinklers, did a lot of laundry and procrastinated a lot of dishes.

My in-laws came and we went swimming. And on a nature walk. We caught up with each other and did family history work. Some of my husband's lines go back to Adam. WHAT?

My son spent the last month with Lego's over his entire floor, and I didn't make him pick them up, not until his dad said he needed to, um, maybe last weekend because school was starting.

I sewed some pajamas for the kids using free fabric and my old t-shirts. I've struggled through grocery stores with my baby screaming and my son hiding like a ninja behind every display. I've gone on walks, been to parks, visited the new Bean Museum, the BYU Art Museum, had family reunions, and a girl's night at my mom's.

That scripture "To everything there is a season." often comes to my mind.

I stood in my kitchen listening to Micheal Buble singing someday he'll met that girl worth working for, Taylor Swift beginning again, and Adele setting fire to the rain.  My baby threw something from her high chair and the sink gurgled down the last of the dirty dishwater. I didn't have on any make-up and I'm sure my shirt was wet.

Suddenly I realized I had it. That thing people are looking for. The man worth working for, the love that lasts, the family I'll never have to let go. My dreams were sitting in a high-chair covered in soggy crackers, making Lego creations on the floor of his bedroom, and driving home to me from another day of work.

I'll just soak it up a little longer. God's love is shinning right down on these people He's given me.

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, May 9, 2014

WIP: Writing Donuts and Other Guilty Pleasures Of An Author


Sometimes the pressure of writing for someone ELSE makes writing loose it shine.
Last week I spent many glorious hours writing junk.

I'm serious. No one must ever see the majority of what I wrote.

Ah, but that was fun.

Like eating donuts even though I know they are bad for me.

This week, I've been telling myself to get back to the real writing. Like the stuff I have to send to my critique group in just a week or so.
Instead, I read all the wonderfully fun junk I've written in that book.

Maybe I should have edited while I was reading. Or something. Oh, and then I told myself to find out the real truth about all those medical issues I happily wrote junk about.

I'm so good at making up stuff! It doesn't even have to be true!

But researching is fun, too.

But not as fun as finding photos of things from your book. Like the characters. And the character's doing what they love. And what the character would look like starved on a deserted island vs when they return and put on a little weight. Or if they were, hypothetically speaking, to be filmed in a movie. (Can I cast Meryl Streep and Dakota Fanning in my next novel, please?)

Then when you have files of photos, and lists of all the terrible true things that happen to persons who have said medical issues, then you feel obligated to make files with titles. Something like: Character Sketches, Story Outline,  Medical Information, Magic System, 2nd Story Outline, Pictures to Use In Other Book, Pictures to Make a Book About, Medical Issues to Use Later, and my ever favorite Snippets, which happens to be bits of everything I take out of my book because it's junk, and I won't let anyone see it, but I spent so much time writing it in oblivious enjoyment, I can't bare to part with it.

So the truth is, when something is hard, sometimes you need a donut. And you don't eat the donuts necessarily because you don't like salads (I've had some really good salads.) The truth is whole wheat pancakes make you really happy, and you love all those fresh fruits coming back in season. So you aren't entirely giving yourself over to ruin and gluttony.

You're just enjoying the donuts. And sometimes we need donuts. Because they are good.  And because they remind you to stop being so crazy about being perfect all the time. And also because they remind you that while good, a donut isn't going to get you were you need to be.

So you do the serious stuff again. And you like that too, because you realize you just really like food.

And writing.

Which is good.

Because you need a little bit every day.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Current Crafts: Baby Clothes

I've been experimenting with reusing old clothing items to make new outfits for the baby. I've done a dress from an old camp t-shirt, and a romper from an old knit shirt. The dress turned out better than the romper. Probably because I made up the romper pattern and the knit fabric was more stretchy than I expected. Sorry, no photos of that mess. But she will wear it this summer. Even if the neck line is wacky and the sleeves gathered uneven.

I also tried out using a dress shirt for a dress. That turned out better. Unfortunately, she out grew it pretty fast.

Two weeks ago I finished an Easter Dress for her that I bought new fabric and a pattern for. I've decided I like reusing old clothing items, but everything turns out better when I use a regular pattern and new fabric.

 Gotta love huge bows and ruffle socks, even if the dress is still a little big for her!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Women I Admire: My Poem Over the Pulpit and Other Ways You Help Me

I was the little girl watching everything you did.
The one that still remembers the day Daddy called her up to the pulpit during his talk,
To tell the poem about Melinda Mae and her giant whale.
I shook so hard, I almost fainted.
I wanted to be up there, to make him proud.
But it scared me more than I knew it would.
I looked out in the audience
And I saw your face,
A lifeline imprinted in my mind.
My older cousin, smiling at me.
I don't remember looking away,
not until I sped through that final word,
and the monstrous whale was eaten*.

There was a distance, a pulpit I watched you from for all those years.
I'll tell you now,
When I was depressed in high school.
It was your name that gave me hope when my parents told me I wasn't alone.
You'd been there.
And somehow you were still amazingly you.

I was the long legged pre-teen sitting in the back seat
When Daddy told how he set you up on date with a boy you liked.
And I was the acne covered teenager in your backyard
The day you and that same boy came back from the temple.
An outdoor reception around the pool, cool lights of night,
You madly in love, family everywhere like a sea of comfort.
I brought my own dark haired boy to your parents backyard.
Fresh from the temple, we stood by the outdoor pool in the cool night,
Madly in love, family everywhere, you sweeping up to tell me congratulations.

When I returned home later,
A babe in my arms, a husband at my side,
Age didn't matter any more.
Everywhere I looked, I saw more and more
that we were not so different.
Like bits of our lives where mirrors of each other.
I sometimes felt like angels from the other side
were nudging me toward you, again and again.
Until at a relief society retreat, struggling with depression I thought I'd shook,
You told me that you still hit that dark place, too.
"I know what I need to do, now," you told me, "I need to hold my girls."

Like flash forward, I'm in another place
and winter ate at my joy with cold fingers.
I prayed and prayed for help.
It came,
Your voice, like the face of comfort over the pulpit
returning to me.
I scooped my babies up. I held them close.
And life straightened out again.

*Melinda Mae by Shel Silverstein 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#BecauseOfHim

http://easter.mormon.org/
Click photo to see #BecauseofHim video
I'm tracing the Savior through my life.
My Savior.
My Lord.
I'm finding Him.
I'm thinking of what I have because of Him.
It's bringing me to my knees.
My heart longs for Him.
Because of Him
Darkness can not hold me.
Death will not part.
Peace is left with me.
My wounds are bound up.
Promises can be kept.
Covenants are real.
Words will stand.
Truth will last.
Forgiveness will heal.
Because of Him
Fear flees.
Sorrow turns to joy.
Because of Him
Because of Him
Death is not the end.
This life is not all there is.
Love never ends.
Because of Him
I will live again.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Life: Finding My Words


It feels like my words have dried up.
Not the ones I write for my characters.
They have finally woke again.
They'd been silent for so long, I welcomed them back.
And my time spent writing turned to pages of fantasy.
And yes, I might have found myself writing romance.
I wouldn't admit it before,
but I have to now.
I like a good romance.

But my other words,
the ones I use here,
the ones I use to explore my life and understand me,
they shriveled up and stopped.
I throw my hands up and sigh.
I'm too tired
and nothing I think to say here matters that much.
Who wants to hear about moving bedrooms,
being up all night with babies,
cleaning the house,
shopping.
or the weird obsession I've developed for shirt dresses
(none of which are ever long enough for me . . .)?

But then I remember that blog I follow avidly
and it's all about babies
and decorating
and loving life
and enjoying life.

And maybe even sometimes about dresses.

Because that's what life is.
It's one day and another day
and not so much fantasy romance,
but a tired husband who's been gone all Sunday
and several nights during the week
while still working all day,
just to make ends meet
and to serve a God we both love.
It's the baby who wakes every two hours,
but smiles and makes everything right again.


It's the neighbor who lost her job and started walking at the park,
just when I got winter depressed and started walking too.
It's how we now walk together every morning.
And I tell her about being up all night.
And she tells me about getting back her job.
And my son is brave and actually pets her dog.
And then waits every day for her to come so he can pet it again.

Life is reading a book my mom gave me fifteen years ago
to my son,
and crying at the same places she did,
and laughing at myself and telling my son to ignore me.
I'm just like her.
But I don't mind.

Life is being too tired or busy with baby
to say anything in Relief Society anymore,
but still going.
Life is the sisters who rescued me that night at
the Relief Society birthday party
when they held my baby and she didn't cry.
I didn't even know I needed rescuing until they came.

And that is life
and why I write here
and why I read what others write.
Because life is good
and bad
and sentimental
and somehow bittersweet and beautiful.
Life is a story written by God.
And my words are traces of living.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Give-Away Winners

Since we only had two participants in the giveaway, I decided to give both of them a copy of A Circle of Sisters. We can say it's two gifts, one for the Relief Society birthday and one for my birthday. Happy Birthday! Congratulations and a big thank you to Marissa and Sara. I'll be contacting you with your books!

Monday, March 3, 2014

WIP: Happy Birthday and Finding Myself (Yes, also a give-away)

The last two weeks, I haven't written. I haven't opened my stories or even blogged. Maybe the cold weather is eating at me. It does sometimes. Or maybe the reality of baby and no sleep is finally setting in. Or maybe I need to do something different.

I'm admiting that I've been sort of depressed the last few weeks.
Ugh. It's out. Don't judge me. Life can't always be lollipops. Right? This time of year feels so sad to me.

I'm trying to decide what I need. For my life. For writing. I learned some things yesterday at church.

One, the wife of the bishop bore her testimony. She mentioned how as mothers we start to feel exhausted with all our little ones and everything else we want and need to do. (I mentally perked up. Exhausted? Check! Large to do list? Check!) Then she said "Jesus Christ is in-exhaustible."

What?!! How profound is that?

I'm thankful for my Savior. In-exhaustible. Never failing.

It might be too much for me, but it's never too much for Him.

Two, we sang "Come unto Jesus." Verse 3 goes:

"Come unto Jesus; He'll surely hear you,
If you in meekness plead for his love.

Oh, know you not that angels are near you

From brightest mansions above?"
I was warmed with the thought of angels near me, right then, but also in the past two weeks while I've struggled to find myself and to be myself. "Oh know you not that angels are near you?" They are near me. In reality. Seen and unseen.

Then, I went to Relief Society and rubbed elbows with a few angels.

March is the birthday of the Relief Society.  It's also my birthday. So I'm celebrating my birthday and the birthday of an organization that I love by giving away a copy of A CIRCLE OF SISTERS.  To enter the drawing, just share a favorite scripture or conference quote. Share it on your Facebook page, twitter, or your blog. Then let me know in the comment section or in an email or Facebook message what you shared and where. Here is my quote. It's from Of Things that Matter Most by President Uchdorf, in the October 2010 General Conference.
"May I suggest that you reduce the rush and take a little extra time to get to know yourself better. Walk in nature, watch a sunrise, enjoy God’s creations, ponder the truths of the restored gospel, and find out what they mean for you personally. Learn to see yourself as Heavenly Father sees you—as His precious daughter or son with divine potential."
I'm a literal work in progress myself, and my writing is struggling. But I'm going to get back up. Writing sets everything mixed up straight again. It always has. I can't stop. My two week writing drought proves that. In the meantime, I'm going to spend some more time getting to know myself better.

I can't wait to hear from you! The drawing will end on March 14, 2014. Spread the word!

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Life: Remembering Little Things Matter

My first semester at BYU, I ended up in one of the Tuesday devotionals. I can't remember what the talk was about or who spoke. After it ended, I joined the flood of students making their way back from the Marriott Center. Rain spilled down on us as we threaded our way over the twisting crosswalks that arched over the main roads. Wiser students than me, popped open umbrellas they'd carried with them.  A girl who I didn't know, and who I've never seen since, held her umbrella over my head until we got to the main campus. Its been more than eight years, but I still remember her.

A month or so after my baby was born, I went to the grocery store. I carried her in one of those baby slings and I loaded all the groceries on the belt by reaching over and around her. I was pretty worn down and starting to realize I wasn't as far healed from the birthing process as I thought I was. I still had to bag everything myself. As I struggled to pack up my purchases, an older gentleman reached across the bagging center and began to help, leaving his own groceries waiting.

I saw this video on Facebook today. I needed it. Little things do matter. There are so many good things in the world around me. Even in the middle of winter, there is love in the simplest acts. When has someone done something unexpected or small for you? Did it make a difference?


Monday, February 3, 2014

A Story from A Circle of Sisters In Honor of Clint

Today is the anniversary of my cousin, Clint's death. As I was reading a post on Facebook from my aunt, I realized how powerful her story is. She wrote about some of her experiences after his death for A Circle of Sisters. With her permission, I would like to share that story with you today, along with a few photos of my cousin. There is so much power in love. I'm a lucky girl to have both fond memories of my cousin and a wonderful aunt who is brave enough to share her story, even when it is hard. I love you Aunt Dana.





Love Is

By Dana DiGrolamo


For about six weeks I had served in a Relief Society calling at the prison. I loved the women. You could tell who really wanted to be there, the ones who attended meetings just to get out of their cells, and the ones who wanted to be there to sit with their friends.
Little did I know I would have an experience that week that would turn my world upside down. My beautiful oldest son, who was thirty years old, died unexpectedly. I received much-needed help, love, and support from my own ward. I didn’t even know many of the women who helped. It was the hardest day in my life. He passed away on a Thursday, and I went to the prison the week after. I was asked to talk that day about my son, whose death had partly been caused by a drug overdose. Many of the women were in prison for drug-related crimes, and the Relief Society president thought perhaps I could reach some of them.
As I stood at the front of the class, I had the biggest lump in my throat. I talked very openly and candidly about my son. I told the women if they didn’t turn their lives around, it would affect the people that loved them so very much. I was old enough to be many of the inmates’ mother. After a very tearful lesson where the Spirit was there in abundance, every one of the inmates got into a line and came and hugged me. It was a feeling and a moment I will never forget.
People who serve at the prison are told not to take anything from the inmates. The prisoners in Relief Society had wanted to make me a card, they said, but had been unable to. I told them it was okay.  But I guess my husband didn’t get the same memo. When we got home that day, he said an inmate had given him a card for me. I called the Relief Society president, who called the bishop. He told her I could keep the card. It was beautifully handmade and printed. It is so special to me it is glued inside my scriptures. It reads as follows:
“I heard a woman speak about love today. She said nothing in this world is perfect. Her son had just died. She loved him very much, and to her, although he had human frailties, love had made him perfect.
“It was wonderful to hear—to feel—her love for him. ‘He was perfect to me,’ she said in tears.
“Love, I believe, teaches to overlook faults, to be patient. To forbear and understand. It teaches forgiveness. Love is a strong desire to help others. No matter the price. Love is a crucible where those who throw themselves into the flame come out more pure. More alive and rich and whole.
“It’s the reason we are, our purpose and promise in life.
“Love is . . .
“Mary loved her Son as much as you love yours. He’s smiling on you and he is proud of you. Remember to laugh. Keep teaching your lessons. Don’t ever lose your light. Let it shine. It’s real. Your family is lucky to have you. Smile—today is a good day. Look at Easter this year in a new light.
“Sincerely,
“The Artist, aka ‘Pastel’”
I had met this awesome sister on a Friday night as we had an art class for enrichment. I was so stunned and humbled. I fell to my knees and thanked my Father in Heaven. That letter is one of my most precious possessions.
Yes, keep teaching. You never know whom you might touch.

Monday, January 27, 2014

WIP: Revamping Goals

Where do you put everything you want to do?
I keep thinking about free time, and that saying, "Good, Better, Best."
And I know what the best things are.
My kids. My husband. God.
I had this seminary teacher in high school.
He always drew lines on the board like a scale. We need both sides to be level, to find that point of balance.

Men and Women.
Good experiences and Bad.
Sadness and Happiness.
Rest and Work.
Study and Action.
Everything has its opposite.

I think my job is to find a way to keep things level. Sometimes one side is higher than the other. Sometimes what worked once doesn't work now.
Sometimes you have time to write books and keep lofty word count goals.
Sometimes you want to hold a baby.
It's okay.
My motto over the past few years has become, "To everything there is a season." I've entered a different season.

I still need to write. It's my balance, the weight I put on the opposite side of the scale to even myself out.
So I'm making new goals for writing. I'm ready to shift the focus a little and re-adjust the weights.

My goal is to write at least five days a week for one hour. I'm hoping consistency is better than rare burst of marathon-like writing.

My second writing goal is to summit something to my critique group, no matter how small, every month.

I guess that's why I like the saying "Work in Progress." It implies imperfection and leaves room for change. It carries us up from "good" until we find "best."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Women I Admire: My Daughter and Messages on a Wall

Several years ago, I was at a Relief Society mid-week activity that my cousin spoke at. She is married to one of my older cousins and actually was one of my Young Women's leaders growing up. She talked about body image and the way we see ourselves. She told us to close our eyes and imagine walking along a road. I imagined the road, long and empty, cutting through an expanse of yellow and orange dust. Then she said to imagine we came to a wall. We can't get around this wall. Our Savior is standing there. He reaches out and writes something on the wall. What does he write?

She never told us what the Savior would write. In my self-destructive way, I'd been harboring feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Up to that point, I'd only berated myself for falling short of the ideals she'd spoke of. To my surprise, when I imagined what my Savior would write on my wall, it wasn't chastisement.

He wrote, "I Love You."

My baby is three months now. The messages she gets are mostly from me. I try so hard to write "I love you" on her wall. I see another Young Women's leader and hear her voice as she spoke of her four young daughters. "I try to never criticize myself in front of them. I don't want them see themselves like that." Its hard, but that is what I'm trying to do as well.

I recently reconnected with another leader from my teenage years. It got me to thinking about these women God put in my life and the messages they wrote on my walls. I didn't always believe them, but they never gave up.

At girls camp one year, a leader came for only a day. Before she left that night, she sang to us. She wrote "You are a daughter of God." across my wall. I believed it then, but doubts slipped in. Months later, at another event, she sang again. Tears spilled down my face as she looked in my eyes and re-etched her message. "Walk tall, you're a daughter, a child of God."

My leaders wrote other messages.

"You're important." When she tracked me down when I didn't show up to one of my very first young women's activities when I was only twelve.

"I trust you." When she let me watch her babies for the entire summer, five years in row.

"You have something to give." When she asked me to sing a solo, even though I wasn't very good at singing.

"God Loves You." Over and over again. "You are his daughter."

The world was writing their own messages. Messages about how tall I was, how wide I was, the size of my feet, the number of pimples on my face. Messages about the times I failed, lost, or came up short. Messages that screamed across my wall.

But when I came to that imaginary wall all those years later and faced my Savior, the messages that stayed were the messages that mattered. The ones that were the truth.

He wrote, "I love you."

And now the messages of these leaders are being written in my daughter's life. "You are beautiful," I tell her. "I love you." "I want you." The women I admired as a young girl are changing my baby's life.

Others will write across my daughter's wall. Some will try to destroy her with lies. But then she will go to Young Women's. She will go to girls camp. She will meet beautiful women God has placed there just for her. They will tell her the truth. They will re-etch across her wall. I pray between us, we will be enough. I pray that when she reaches her own walls, she will also find her Savior, and, with faith burning in her heart, she will already know what He will write.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Current Crafts: From Pinterest to Reality

I didn't realize how unsure I'd be about sharing my sewing projects online. But I've been doing more sewing than writing lately, so here is the latest round of projects that came about because of Pinterest. Happy me. There's nothing quite like finishing a project.


Baby Shoes! (Okay they didn't fit my little one. She inherited my big feet. But I made a different pair later that did fit.)

Changing pad! Which is actually useful. Not all my projects turned out that way.

 Baby Quilt.

Carseat canopy.

Christmas Projects. The shoes that do fit, fleece gloves, and a few of the many rice heating pads I made as gifts. The snake and chick heating pads were for the kids. My son sleeps with his every night and it's already starting to look worn. Bummer. At least he likes it. . .

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013


I blinked and the year was over.
I had changed, but like the seconds it takes to spin a circle I barely had time to enjoy the rotation before January was back and everything was different.
I published a book.
I met three of the best boys in the world and their equally incredible parents.
I moved. Twice.
I feel in love with a ward. Twice.
And twice I said goodbye to people I love.
I learned to walk slower, wait better, and love deeper.
I met heroes and heroines.
I danced in the living room while snow fell outside.
I sewed so many projects I can't count them, learned to crochet better, and make my own patterns.
I learned how to grind and use my own wheat.
I took my baby boy to first grade.
I gave birth to a red haired angel with the most beautiful smile.
I'm in love. I'm surrounded by love.
God touched my life with divine gifts.
He stands as a constant friend and help. 
He takes my burdens and makes them light.
He is the light that leads me through every dark road.
Thanks be to Him for the gift that was 2013.