Autumn evening, lying on the grass,
The distance between me and God
is miles.
Miles and miles of air, wind, clouds,
and beyond that, miles and miles of
galaxies and stars,
mind-bendingly enormous
expansive and complex;
worlds without number.
I know I am small then.
Me, this blanket, the grass under me,
my baby's feet propped over my stomach,
her fingers in my hair.
The leaves in the trees are falling,
tiny drops of orange spinning downward
on spirals of wind.
And my baby wants to gather each one in a pile between us.
Tiny, tiny leaves
One at a time.
The sky is gray today
and I can't see those stars at all.
Beyond the heaviness in the air,
there is so much I want to touch;
to fly between; my fingers trailing over nebulas.
I want to see the handiwork of God
laid out before me in the farthest reaches of forever.
But whether I look out, or in, or up, or down;
tiny leaves in my palm,
my baby's galaxy-like eyes,
or falling now, a mist of rain,
my soul cannot fandom the vastness of it all
nor dream of anything less.
Endless cycles of life, endless depths and heights.
My voice traveling the distance of a multitude of lifetimes
to a God who sees and hears
and answers now.
Me, infinitely His,
The capacity to create worlds without numbers
an ember in my heart.
Eternity stamped upon me with a permanent mark.
The things of space and time brought to this place
this lawn, this old house
this baby,
these leaves,
His, though I sin.
His, though I fail.
His when I am majestically beautiful and good.
Though I die.
Though I live.
God, my Savior
reaching out, down, down
through galaxies and stars,
through the atmosphere and wind
past clouds and air
to me.
One leaf. One test. One lifetime.
Plucked from decent, spiraling toward death,
By the Creator of it all.
Variable Stars in a Distant Spiral Galaxy
Variable Stars in a Distant Spiral Galaxy, NASA on the Commons

Women I Admire: Thoughts on Swimming Pools and Butterflies


This post has been a long time in the making. Stirring up inside me all summer. Waiting for that time when it's ready. When I'm ready.

It started at the swimming park. Week after week, I took our passes, my two kids, a black and white bag, and hung out a few hours there.

I wore a swimsuit. I went swimming. I like swimming.

And my children had so much fun, that I didn't care one bit what anyone else thought of me as I walked around in all my mommy wonder.

But sometimes I think about that. I think about my sisters. Not just my blood relations, but the women around me. The grandmas, and the mothers, and the aunts, and the daughters. I think about what we are all seeing, plastered around us: mean, and ugly, and fake, and hurtful.


It's being shouted at us. Belted out with so many voices we can't find our own sometimes.

This is the way you have to live.
This is the only right thing to love, to do, the only way you can make anything good of yourself.

And I want to tell it all to shut up.

I probably shouldn't use those words.

But I will. Shut up.

And one day at the pool, I did just that. For few seconds, I shut up. I shut down all the voices. I stopped thinking about the roundness of bodies, the marks on our skins, the tans, the white glare, everything.

I just looked.

And in that moment, I saw a bit of what God was seeing. Grandmas, mothers, aunts, and daughters, all watching children too small to be on their own. Giving of all the best parts of themselves for someone else, to keep someone safe. The children with us were surrounded by love, splashing about in this miracle we call water.

And I felt love; pleasure.

It didn't matter what a single woman there had on. God loved them. In that insant, I realized that it wasn't about the swimming suits we wore, or the shape of our bodies, or the style of our hair. God, The father of all my sisters, the maker of bodies round, thin, big and small, the creator of writers, singers, painters, sewers, crafters, builders, wonderers, seekers, helpers, and lovers, was pleased with us for giving what we could. He enjoyed seeing us happy. Seeing our little ones with us. Seeing us playing in the water He created.

Can I tell you one more story? I know this is getting long. And I'm starting to talk to much. But it's my gift; talking too much.

My in-laws came in town for a week and one day we all went on a hike. I stopped with the kids by the river. There was this gorgeous yellow butterfly sprawled out over the water, wings floating on top like some reminder of it's last fight against death. I was sad about that butterfly drowning. But I couldn't do anything about it and walked on.

An hour later, we returned to that same spot on the way back to our car. My mother-in-law noticed, for the first time, that single dead butterfly. We were hot and tired and ready to be done, but instead of walking on, she bent over to fish it out of the water.

It was a production. My father-in-law had to catch her by the back of her pants so she didn't fall in. I had a moment of thinking "why on earth is she risking falling in that river for a dead butterfly?"

"It's still alive," she told me.

I didn't quite believe her.

She carried it cupped in her hand to a tree and laid it on a branch. "It's wings got wet. It just needs to dry them out."

My son and I worked our way up beside the tree and sure enough, the beautiful butterfly was slowly fanning it's wings up and down.


She knew something I didn't.

Remember that scripture? About the different parts of the body and how all are needed?
Remember how God made us different for a reason?
Remember how what I do well, doesn't make what you do well any less amazing? Or vice-versa?

I remember that now. I remember how my children are both different. How one does one thing and the other something else. It doesn't make them bad or wrong, just different. And when they do good with what they are, where they are, who they are; from the depths of their little bodies, with all they have; then I am happy. I am so pleased.

So shut up. Shut all the voices up and listen to yourself. Stop reading the next book, post (okay, finish mine), or latest medical finding. Stop listening to all that advice. Some of it's good. Some of it is the answer you are looking for. But just for a minute stop and think about you.

You are loved! Not because you are fat or thin, or healthy or sick. But because you are you. What do you do best? What makes you unique? Find that. And when you take what you have, the tiny specks of incredible-ness that are still blossoming inside you, and use them to help someone else, you can change the world!

Or save one butterfly.

God wants us to do both.

Reading Corner: Summer Reading

Are you looking for something to read this summer? Here are a few of my favorite books I've read lately and my take on them.

Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon:

"When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy, crashes headlong into new kid Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music, and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young mentor behind. Many years go by, and Samuel returns to find his old friend in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go.

Deeply romantic and poignant, 'Running Barefoot' is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind us to our homes and families, and the love that gives us wings. "

This book was part of a boxed set of romance eBooks I picked up a while ago. I went into it expecting another quick romance book, but wow. This isn't your usual romance. It turned into one of those books that you think about for a long time after you've read it. I was touched by Josie and the people of the small town. They were real and vibrant with believable problems and shortcomings. A clean read with a lot of power.

Rising by Holly Kelly:
"In a war between the humans and the inhabitants of the sea-humans will lose. Xanthus Dimitriou-the most lethal Dagonian to rise from the ocean-is on a mission to save mankind from annihilation. But first there's one small thing he needs to do... kill a beautiful young woman in a wheelchair. Killing her doesn't start out as part of his plan. He entrenches himself deep in the human world. Aligning himself with his enemies, he prepares to send them to Triton to face their punishment. Then Sara Taylor rolls onto the scene. Xanthus knows at once she's a criminal. And her crime? Being born. She's a human/Dagonian half-breed, an abomination. Killing her should be an easy job. All he has to do is break into her apartment, slit her throat, and feed her body to the sharks. Simple, right? Wrong. If only she weren't so beautiful, so innocent, so sweet... Saving the world may have to wait. It appears Xanthus has a woman to save. But protecting her may cost him his own life."

This was my first time reading a mermaid book. I enjoyed it. It was a fun read with plenty of action and a good dose of romance. My favorite parts were the ocean details when the characters were underwater and the way Triton is portrayed. It was cool to watch Sara rise above her challenges and realize who she was. And a hansom Dagonian is  always a good addition. ;)

I also read the second book in this series, DescendingIt was another romance, but didn't feel like a copy of the first book. It took a whole new approach. The story is told from Sara's and Xanthus's best friend's view points, and Kyros and Gretchen stand on their own as unique characters. The reveal of Gretchen's past was done well. I liked the included mythology that creates the background for the character's lives and the story's plot. I also enjoyed the story twists and how each character's part ended up being wove together. It sets things up well for the third book, which I'm looking forward to reading.

Prank Wars by Stephanie Fowers

"All war. No love. Madeleine’s been hurt too many times in the dating scene to let Byron beat her in some huge prank war. They’ve had their deserters, their POWS, their casualties, but no one can risk losing the battle of the sexes.
Except now something strange is happening at the college...and it’s not just the students. Buried deep beneath the pranks is real danger, and the only other person who suspects is Byron. Should Mad join sides with him or does that mean forfeiting her heart to the enemy?"

This book was awesomely funny. I love Stephanie Fowers' sense of humor and the real way she portrays Mormon college life. So great. And I can promise you, you won't be expecting the ending. Well, I wasn't at least. It blew me away. This is a fun, fast read with a lot of laughs and some great twists. 

Betrayed by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

"1851: Niagara Falls, New York The evidence has been well hidden—the Thayers were confident that it was safe from the clutches of the ruthless Murphy Gang. But it has all been in vain. The lawless group is closing in on the family homestead, and seven-year-old Penny is given only one instruction: Run. After two long years eagerly anticipating her fiancé’s return, twenty-year-old Julia Barrett is ready to make a fresh start with Adam Wolcott—even if it means putting her dream of traveling west with the Mormons on hold. But when Adam’s return is overshadowed by the unexpected arrival of a young orphan girl in desperate need of help, Julia is drawn into a dangerous mystery that will threaten all she holds dear. Charged with the protection of little Penny, Julia quickly finds herself relying on the help of Tom Harrison, an endearing young man who has long admired her from afar. Torn between two suitors, Julia soon uncovers a shocking trail of corruption and deceit—a discovery that pulls her inescapably into the race to locate telling evidence that Penny’s family gave their lives to protect . . ." 

If you like historical fiction, this is a action packed read with a sweet message about love and courage. Ronda does a good job of portraying both the good and bad of her characters. It left me wondering just how things were going to work out. This is a romance, but it's more than that. Its also about faith and trusting yourself and your family. Its about doing the right thing, even when it hurts. 

Crown Duel by Sherwoood Smith

"Young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king. That promise leads them into a war for which they are ill-prepared, which threatens the very people they are trying to protect. But war is simple compared to what follows, in peacetime. Meliara is summoned to live at the royal palace, where friends and enemies look alike, and intrigue fills the dance halls and the drawing rooms. If she is to survive, Meliara must learn a whole new way of fighting-with wits and words and secret alliances.

In war, at least, she knew in whom she could trust. Now she can trust no one."

This book was given to me by a friend who thought it would help me with me own writing. It's actually an older book and was originally published as two separate novels. The copy I read was an edition that had been published with both books in one. I stayed up late to read both books. Its was really great. It's one of those great fantasy books with deep world building, incredible characters, and profound messages. The plot twists were both unexpected, and at times understated, yet they wove together wonderfully. It you like Robin McKinley (Author of Hero and the Crown) you will most likely enjoy this book. 

Current Crafts: My TV Stand and Love It or List It

So Netflix has this house show called Love It or List It. There are two "experts." One to fix the old house and one to find a new house. In the end, the owners decide if they stay or sell.

I ALWAYS want them to stay. Okay, so maybe once or twice I might have seen that leaving was the "smart" choice, but I always have high hopes for the old house. That might explain why I don't like this show as much as ones where the house gets a total remodel. To up the drama, they always have to "drop" several remodeling projects off the list in favor of some problem being fixed. That really irritates me. (They need those high-end appliances at the expense of a second bathroom? Hello! Give them the bathroom.) Anyway, to get back to the point, I've discovered that I'm very invested in seeing old things get a new life.

Maybe it's a religious parallel thing, like the poem about the old violin or something. I'm not exactly a DIY person myself. I try a lot. And make a lot of messes.

So anyway, we've been rearranging our furniture to fit a second couch in our tiny living room. The old entertainment center was moved to a corner, but it juts out into the room and takes up too much space. We've just dealt with the old entertainment center for about a month.

The other day I was in Savers and came across this ugly, sad little corner TV stand. I took a photo and sent it to my husband, partially in jest, informing him it was a mere ten dollars. I then left it there. I didn't have a large enough vehicle to get it home anyway, right?

But days later I was still thinking about it. And all those pins on Pinterest and the binge watching of Love It or List It worked together to bring me around to the idea that I didn't want to "just deal" with the old entertainment center.

Back at Savers, I found the sad little TV stand still unsold, dirty, with two VHS movies forgotten in the cupboards. I bought it. I drove around to the pick-up doors and asked them if they could work some magic, and get the stand in my car somehow. Thank you nice, helpful man from Savers who crawled under my car to attach a rope to a ten dollar entertainment center and then tied all the knots so all I had to do was pull to get them loose. You are truly amazing. With the trunk open and the stand held down by the rope, I bounced slowly between Savers and the few blocks to my house.

I moved it multiple times from my back porch to the lawn to get it in and out of the rain. I went to Lowe's three times. I ran out of paint and the inside isn't nearly as pretty as the outside. My daughter drew on the newly dried second coat of pain and scattered the hardware on the porch and in the house. She also got a little painted herself. I put one door on slightly crooked. And I painted over laminate. (Gasp!) I'm not sure how long this is going to last, but I got it all finished this weekend. I like it. It's pretty now. Or at least better than before. And in reality, that's what I always want from Love It or List It.

Reading Corner: Dalton and Dalton Mysteries by Kathleen Marks

I got the first book in this series, a novella, in a group of eBooks purchased all at the same time. I loved it so much I tracked down the second and read it a couple weeks ago. Here are my reviews for both books. If you like those cozy mystery books or a little bit of a ghost story (I'm not really into super scary, but I like a fun ghost story), you might like this series.

To Sleep No More by Kathleen Marks

To Sleep No More (A Dalton & Dalton Preternatural Mystery Novella #1)

I was pleasantly surprised by this novella. I had no idea what I was getting into, but it was a part of a group of books I picked up at the same time so I just started reading.  Of all the books, this one grabbed my attention and stuck. I loved the characters, the mystery, and the surprising elements, like glowing cats and ghosts. It was like one of my mother’s little cozy mystery books she loves and mixed up with the adventure and magic that I love. A fast read, and so much unexpected fun!

A Fearful Thing by Kathleen Marks

A Fearful Thing: (A Dalton & Dalton Mystery) (Dalton & Dalton Paranormal Mysteries Book 2)

I couldn’t stop thinking about the first book in this series, so I tracked down the second when I realized it was out. It was even better than the first! I loved the developing relationship between Alex and Rick. Their pain is real, and their interactions compelling. I was enjoying the love story from the start, but then when all the ghosts, mystery and treasuring hunting showed up, I couldn’t put it down. It was fun, sad, suspenseful and even a little scary. A great and quick read.  My only question is where is the next book?

Cover Revel for Home Evenings for Newlyweds

Check out the cover for my newest book! It's gone to press so expect to see it in stores soon. Its just in time for wedding season, so if you are looking for a unique gift for that special couple, this might work!

With this easy-to-use book, newlyweds can establish a tradition of family night, starting with just the two of them. Centered around the life, character, and works of Jesus Christ, each of these 52 lessons contains a gospel message and an activity, as well as technology and internet resources and links. Lesson topics include the Atonement, covenants, gratitude, and prayer, as well as setting goals, developing talents, doing family history, planning meals, and many, many more.  Activities vary from stargazing, service projects, and playing basketball, to taking photos, holding a scripture chase, and writing time-capsule letters to each other. In addition, six of the lessons are specially designed to help couples focus their holiday celebrations on Christ. 

As newlyweds come to know each other and the Savior better, they can develop confidence in regularly holding family home evening. They will also find strength and lasting hope in the power of Jesus Christ and His role in their marriage.

WIP To the Press and Drafting Discovery

Yesterday, the Birthday of Doctor Seuss, also marked a couple of milestones for me in writing. I guess I was celebrating in writing style. 

First, my YA novel, Run is now available as an eBook. I'm really excited about this as I've been waiting for a while. Here is the link where you can find the eBook and also read the first three chapters for free if you're interested. 

In other news my newest non-fiction book, Home Evenings for Newlyweds went to press. I'm super excited to have this new book coming out. It was an unexpected blessing in my life and I'm glad I got the opportunity to write it. 

It seems like a couple months into the new year is the perfect time to reevaluate my goals. I feel pretty good about them. Home Evenings for Newlyweds has gone to press. We are having a giveaway for Run on Goodreads, and now we have Run in eBook form. My short story about my miscarriage was also published.

I've made some strides with my draft of my fantasy novel. For a long time I've been struggling to get my characters right and realized I was so worried about writing "wrong" that I wasn't getting those details I need to make my characters better. This morning I was planning on writing a certain scene and ended up writing a back story that may or may not even show up in the book. It can be frustrating to see all those word count numbers shooting up when you know you're going to have to cut so much! But I had fun and I feel like I'm starting to understand my characters better. 

So we are having info dump sessions and tangents. And it sometimes feels like I'm getting about as much done and we used to get done in ninth grade geometry (which is not much, at least not much math related). But I'm writing. I'm telling myself to let go and just have fun with this part. Honestly, I'm sort of wishing I was writing that right now instead of a blog. Its really nice to rediscover the fun part of drafting. Even if I won't be letting you see any of it. :)

New Release Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope After Miscarriage

I know that miscarriage can be a very private, personal struggle. It is often difficult to talk about and lonely. I felt that way at times after my own miscarriage. The stories I heard from others at that time strengthened me and helped me recognize that I was not alone. That is why I'm so excited to share this new book with you. Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope After Miscarriage is a compilation of stories about women who have experienced miscarriage. It documents their pain as well as their hope, faith, and healing. The book was compiled and edited by Tristi Pinkston who was inspired to share these stories in hopes of helping others.

I came across the call for stories last December and knew I needed to share my story. Even though I was in the midst of Christmas plans and edits for my other book, I couldn't deny the feeling. The spirit reassured me that I would find the time I needed. Some how I was able to. My story is just one of many in this wonderful, hopeful compilation. I know this book is inspired. I'm so grateful to be a part of it and amazed by the other women who also shared their stories.

Tristi has set up both a facebook page at and a blog at where she hopes to continue to provide a place for healing conversations and stories to be shared.

Little Boy Blue: Finding Hope After Miscarriage is available in both print and eBook format at

All proceeds made on this book will be donated to The Christmas Box International.

Run Goodreads Giveaway!

I just wanted to let you know that we are giving away 5 copies of Run on Goodreads. Head on over to enter if you are interested. I'll have a link on my blog to the giveaway until it is closed. Spread the word!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Run by JoLyn Brown


by JoLyn Brown

Giveaway ends March 09, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Women I Admire: LuAnn Staheli

Spider web

I read Charlotte's Web to my son not long ago.
I cried.
I've cried before, but honestly this time was different.
I didn't quite want to believe time was winding up for you,
but I couldn't stop seeing you in Charlotte.

Some writers have that one book
that turned them into dreamers.
Some have songs, or images
or experiences,
or classes.

I have you.

You are written inside me.
So familiar is the sound of you reading aloud,
that you are the voice I know anywhere,
You are in the traces of the stuff I still haven't written.
that soul deep
peach farm,
family loving
story that you always wanted me to write.

I kinda figured you be around to see it.

I count the times I've been with you.
The hours spent in your class.
I still see you in a red silk shirt
waiting for me in the hallway
the day after my uncle died.

Years later,
you still knew my name.
You mentored me.
You invited me to lunch with you.
Let me hang out with the real authors
when all I saw was unattainable stars.

Only now, when it's too late
I realize I barely knew you at all.

I was busy growing up.
Wrapped up in myself.
Grappling with all the awkward insecure parts of me.
And you let me.
You said the right things.
You smiled at the right times.
You did the things I needed.

If I could do anything different.
I wouldn't be so afraid.
I wouldn't take so long to start writing again.
I'd come and visit you more often.
And I'd talk less about myself.
I'd ask you more about your life.

It might not be much.
A small speck in the multitude of lives you touched,
but I want to you know
you made a difference to me.

And that book you believed I could write
is in pieces on my computer.
I don't know if I ever told you I started it.
That story was what got me writing again.
It's haunted me a long time and someday I'll finish.

"Do it soon." I think you'd tell me.

I'll miss you. I'll think of you.
I hope you are having a joyful reunion
with all those waiting for you there.
Free from pain. Strong. Happy.
I hope you know I love you.

I hope you know.

And so I'm here with these little moments running through my mind.
Your life intersecting with mine.
You have children, husband, family,
and so little time here to share.
But God gave a few precious minutes of you to me.

I cannot end it better than E.B. White.
"Its not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and good writer. Charlotte was both."

WIP: Writing Goals for 2015

Here are some updates on what is happening with my writing, at least as far as the foreseeable future goes.

RUN: My first novel is now in Deseret Book Stores and online at Deseret Book and Amazon! Here's a photo my mom took of it in Twin Falls, Idaho Deseret Book. Coolness.

RUN has also been reviewed on a few more awesome blogs. Here are the links if you are interested. 

LDS Women's Book Review by Mindy Holt
Say This Write By Stacy Coles

There will be some giveaways this month, and probably a Book Blast Tour. Hopefully you'll see New Release information popping up on a few more blogs in the next little while too.

THE USURPER'S DAUGHTER: This is my occasionally mentioned romantic fantasy novel in the works. Meaning it's in various stages of first draft, second draft, or in-head-floating-ness. Goal? To get the in-head stuff to first draft form by the end of the month. Following that, editing and hopefully finding beta readers and then beginning the publisher search by the end of the year. If you want to be a beta reader, let me know. Maybe it will spur me on to getting this done. 

COMPANION NOVELS TO RUN: Hmm. First chapter stages here with a lot of character building going on. And the in-head stuff again. But I'm getting there. Goals? To get one of them through the first draft by the end of the year. I've never written a first draft in one year. This is a huge goal. But I can do this!

HOME EVENING FOR THE NEWLY MARRIED: This is a collection of 52 lessons for newlyweds. Focused on Jesus Christ, the lessons are designed to help you get to know each other better and invite the Savior into your marriage though gospel learning combined with lots of fun activities for two. 

This will be published through Walnut Springs at a date to be determined later. I'm planning on finishing the lessons by the end of the month, first of February. One cheer for big goals all squished into January! Fun fact: if you see quotes from conference talks on Facebook or twitter, they are likely part of my study for this book. 

OTHER: I also have a short story/essay about my miscarriage that will be a part of a collection of stories that is being put together by Tristi Pinkston. I'll post more about it as it comes together.

So there's the foreseeable future for you. It's going to be a big year. Thanks for everyone who has been supporting me through my writing journey! I couldn't do it without you! 

My Life: 2014 In Reveiw

A snail my son and I found on a walk. I love God's little miracles.
2014 has taught me a lot about timing and personal revelation. I still am working on most of this stuff, but here are a few things I learned in 2014:

  • Sleep is over rated.
  • God still hears you at one, two, or three o'clock in the morning.
  • I don't spend nearly as much time writing as I think I do.
  • The stuff that worked for my son, doesn't always work with my daughter.
  • Don't wait to do what you need to do. Avoiding things because they are hard, scary, difficult, or new doesn't make them go away. And I just spend a lot of time worrying about them.
  • I am stronger that I thought I was.
  • I am more capable than I thought I was.
  • My son is more like his dad than I realized.
  • Everything good has an opposite. It's the way life is and the reason we are here. Focusing on the good is like focusing on God. Everything good comes from Him. The bad just makes the good sweeter.
  • God will help me be a missionary.
  • God will help me do family history work
  • There is a time and season for everything.
  • God can use imperfect people to do his work. My mistakes can be turned to good. My weaknesses can still be a part of his plan. I don't need to freeze up just because I might mess things up. Trust Him.
  • Take time to be with people. Go to the things that matter to them. Show them you love them by giving your time. Don't wait. 
  • And sometimes, when God tells you to, Just Wait.