Monday, October 6, 2008

A Future for Tomorrow

Many do not know this about me but when I was 15, I got mono and lost sooo much weight I got down to 96 pounds. It was the first time anyone told me how thin I looked and it made me feel 'noticed' and accepted - like I'd finally done something outstanding. Even my mom noticed that my jeans bagged on me.

I was determined to not gain it back and thus started a cycle of binging and purging that lasted until I was 21 when I lost my fist baby through miscarriage at four and half months. And even though the pregnancy was doomed from the start (something was wrong and it was apparent that the mass of cells had never developed), I harbored the guilt and blamed my twisted eating habits and fear of gaining weight for the loss of a precious child. The ipecac and laxatives went into a drawer and were never used for purging again.

From there my weight problems went to the other extreme as I ballooned upwards hoping to disappear behind rolls of fat in order to become unnoticed.

After years of trial, family counseling, finally understanding my own self worth and gastric bypass surgery, the weight is coming off and I am using food in a healthy manner as I reclaim who I am.

Since bulimia and anorexia at that time were not commonly talked about (this was before Callista Flockheart and Kate Moss), I thought no one else dealt with issues of self esteem and body dismorphia like I did and treatment certainly wasn't openly discussed either. I thought I was unique in a very sick sort of way. And so when my dear friend Tristi Pinkston asked me to review a book called A Future for Tomorrow about a young woman who struggled with Anorexia Nervosa, I have to admit that I was intrigued.

Haley Hatch Freeman is extremely candid as she opens her mind to readers who witness the struggles of a young woman struggling with anorexia. The thought processes, the self depreciating talk, the distorted views of self, it all becomes clear and evident to the sickness that rages on behind the eyes of one who struggles with an eating disorder.

And for me, it was healing. I cried and I laughed as I cheered Haley on, recognizing the thought processes of self-disgust and guilt and the desire to feel loved and accepted. I understood the battle that goes on in one's mind for control of the number on the scale and as I read her account of that struggle, I battled right along with her remembering my 25 year process and cheered at her triumph.

Up to this point I have hated full length mirrors and cameras (so why I bought a house full of mirrored closet doors is beyond me!!). But after reading the last page of A Future for Tomorrow, I proudly stood before my full length mirror and looked past the dry erase marker to-do list and looked into my own eyes and saw something I'd never seen before.

It was me,.... and despite the fact that I have another 80 pounds to go, I could honestly say that I was happy with myself and that I have a pretty smile and clear blue eyes that sparkle with the knowledge that I am okay.

I haven't been able to do that my whole life. But after reading Haley's book, I had the desire to look at myself through a Heavenly Father's eyes and see the good in His child. And I have Haley to thank for that.....

I had a desire to get to understand this young woman a little bit more and so I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions. Here is that conversation:

Me - Haley, you were very candid about your experiences in A Future for Tomorrow. How hard was it for you and your family to relive that period and were they okay
with the honesty with which you painted yourself and them?

Haley -It was painful for me to relive the experience. There is a quote I read that I think applies to my situation: “Better that one heart be broken a thousand times
in the retelling, if it means that a thousand others hearts need not be broken at all”
(quote by Robert MCAfee Brown)
My parents tell me when they read my book it brings everything back to them vividly, as if they are there again since I was able to describe it as accurately as I did. So
it does bring back some of their pain as well. However, they are amongst my biggest fans and supporters of the book, and of me telling our story.
My parents, other family members, and friends are pleased with their portrayals since they admit it is completely factual and accurate. My dad’s depiction was the hardest
for me, with showing his negative side of his inherited “fat-phobia”. He is one of the greatest men I know with deep spirituality and love for others. He would do anything
for anyone and is truly an amazing man and father. He does admit he has this problem with judgment over weight issues and he tries to work on it. I hope the
reader is able to see his positive attributes over his weaknesses.

Me - You have a passion to share your experiences to help others avoid or overcome the pitfalls that consumed you. What single factor drives you the most?
Haley -There are two factors that drive my passion to share my experience. First of all, I feel it to be part of my mission, my purpose in this life.  We each have a
sacred duty and reason we are on this journey of life, a purpose only you can accomplish. I know sharing my story is part of mine.
Secondly, I know the heartache of this disease. I can offer something unique to those who are suffering. I don’t know many people who would choose not to help
someone if they knew they had the potential to do so. It sounds cliché but it is sincerely how I feel: “If I can help just one person avoid or get through this
disorder it will be worth it.”
Me - I'm sure it was very difficult to talk about your experience with being overcome by dark influences. How did you come to peace with that in such a way that you
were able to share it with others without causing more trauma to yourself and those around you?
Haley  - This particular incident was without a doubt the hardest for me to write about and edit. It was something I did with great prayer and guidance. I feel it was
suppose to be a part of my book and the Lord guided me through representing what truly did occur in a respectful manner in my book. I never felt writing about it would
bring trauma to me or others around me, which it didn’t.
Me - What is the best advice you could give to those who struggle with eating disorders and self esteem issues on a whole? How can they overcome them or avoid
them altogether?
Haley - I could write an entire other book answering this question alone. In short, the main thing I would like a person who is suffering with an eating disorder to know
is they CAN NOT get over it alone. They DO need to get professional help. 20% of people with eating disorders and 25% of people with anorexia nervosa die without
treatment. That number goes down to 2-3% with treatment. The key to recovery is to get help, be honest with your counselor and with yourself with the issues that
caused the eating disorder and the eating part will take care of itself. Find a passion and use your energy to focus on that instead of the disorder.
Self-esteem is a difficult one too, if it is low enough that there is destructive behaviors, again treatment is necessary. This is one of my favorite quotes, “All of you need to
drink in deeply the gospel truths about the eternal nature of your individual identity and the uniqueness of your personality. You need, more and more, to feel the perfect
love which our Father in Heaven has for you and to sense the value he places upon you as an individual. Ponder upon these great truths, especially in those moments
when (in the stillness of such anxiety as you may experience as an individual) you might otherwise wonder and be perplexed" (President Spencer W. Kimball) I would
like to share with those mentioned the letter in the back of my book titled “To Those Who Are Suffering.”
Prevention again encompasses so much. Causes of eating disorders can span from their parents raising style, to life situations such as abuse, to being overly influenced
by media and much more. (Usually a person with a serious disorder has multiple triggers, maybe all of the above and more.) A powerful prevention tool is awareness
and education. Something I hope my book can provide more of.
A large responsibility does fall on parents. A child with a mother who diets or who has an eating disorder is 12 times more likely to have one too. A parent should NEVER
put themselves down in front of their child. They not only model this behavior but it leads the child to believe, “If Mom, who is perfect in my eyes, thinks she is fat
and ugly then how much worse am I?”
Me - What is the single most important lesson you learned through your whole experience? 
Haley - The importance of self worth, and faith.
Haley’s book is published through Granite Publishing. For more information, you can
go to her website and to read more of her thoughts and
wisdom, go to her blogsite at

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sometimes the best noise is no noise at all

With four boys and a husband that acts like one at times, I have to admit that boisterous noise is a part of everyday life.

This morning when I woke up, I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed by life in general and was wondering how I was going to get a bit of peace back into my daily routine. And then I noticed something....

After having gotten the boys off to school and saying good-bye to a husband who had an early morning appointment and confirming that I didn't have to rush to be anywhere, I couldn't help but smile as I realized there was not a sound to be heard,...that is except for the raindrops on the roof if I strained to hear them.

It was soooo quiet, I wasn't quite sure what to do so I sat back down on my bed, pulled my fuzzy blanket up over me,closed my eyes and listened to the silence.

An interesting thing happened. I could envision happy times I'd had, things I wanted to do and hear clearly some voices that I was afraid I'd forget. In listening to the silence, I reconnected with my world and was rejuvenated to make it through the rest of the week.

I'm not sure if the noise of life has gotten to me or if I'm just growing up. Either way, this morning I consider myself blessed to have not heard a thing....

Monday, August 25, 2008

What do you want to leave behind?

This past month has been an interesting one as we’ve parched through my parents’ possessions.
It’s been a lot of tears as we’ve remembered the good times, and laughter as we relived the adventures, There was stuff to throw away and stuff that we took into our homes cherishing it for the next generations.

But mostly for me, it was a time of learning and understanding.

One neighbor kiddingly came over to ask if we’d found anything shocking or of noted interest as we went through their things.

“No”, we responded, “They were pretty much who we had always believed them to be.”

We found love letters to each other and journals that expressed their thoughts and feelings. We found boxes and boxes of pictures that captured every worthwhile memory and some that we wish hadn’t been captured. We found temple clothes and patriarchal blessings, notes and letters from each of us and pictures we’d drawn – all stuff that would have been boring to the outside world (no novels to write here) but all things that gave us comfort nonetheless knowing that our parents had loved and cherished us and given us a good life based on eternal principles.

It wasn’t until I got home, though, along with all of my mothers papers that I did find something shocking – something that I’d never known about her. As I opened one of her boxes, I found her most cherished collection – one none of us had ever known she’d even had.

We’d known about her Santa collection and about dad’s book collection but this was something that was near and dear to her heart that in the quiet of her room dictated her loves and desires.

For years in her nightstand I’d seen a highlighter and a small pair of scissors and had wondered why she kept them there because I’d never seen her use them. Of no great consequence,….until I had opened this box.

Inside, placed lovingly were hundreds of clippings out of the Church News of a feature called ‘Applying the Scriptures’.

For the better part of 20 years, my mother had carefully cut these little features out, highlighted the things that stood out to her and had then gone to the scripture referenced and used that as a study guide as she studied. More notes had been made in the margins of her scriptures as she gained further insight.

Suddenly this box full of what at first appeared to be nothing more than a collection of recyclable goods, took on whole new meaning and gave me insight into a part of my mother’s life that I had not know before.

She had not made it a public practice of showing that she had done the right things but had simply and quietly just done them. And I, nor any of my siblings, had ever known the deep commitment and faithfulness with which she had lived her everyday life in this one area until after her death when I so fortuitously had stumbled upon her most prized collection.

The whole experience made me really think about what I want to leave behind. What do I want those who come after me to find that will dictate my life, passions and desires? And furthermore, what do I want to collect for my own personal enjoyment rather than for the sake of the world?

I also have to admit though, that I can’t wait to see my mom’s neighbor again so that I can tell him that I did find something shocking that gave me new insight into who my mother really was.
I will also gladly share with him that her heart, passions and desires were more than I ever could’ve dreamed of and that I can only hope to follow in her footsteps one day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Room for Two

Think of the most heart-wrenching tragedy a person could suffer and then mix it with a dose of honesty, healing, understanding and a happy ending and that's what you will find in Abel Koegh's book Room for Two.I was admittedly a little bit hesitant to read this one since I am a self avowed sucker for fictional stories that I know are going to end up with a happy ending. Abel's story is anything but happy but I can honestly say it is inspirational and once I picked it up, I could not put it down (much to the dismay of my 14 year old so whose triple I missed at the ballpark since the book was blocking my view)!

It cannot be easy to write about your wife's suicide while she's 7 months pregnant and the resultant death of your daughter but what caught me about Abel's story is the raw emotion and the honesty with which he told his story. As a reader, one cannot help but connect with him on his journey of healing and moving on. I could only marvel at his strength and wish to be more like him as I face my own challenges in life.

Ever being the journalist I am though, there were a few questions that I had to ask. I share those along with his responses with you now;

Me - For many men, it is hard to be brutally honest about their feelings and yet in Room for Two, you are so honest, it makes one stand back in awe and admiration especially about the feelings you had over the guilt in not listening to the promptings before your wife's death. How did you find the courage to be so honest and why did you choose that route?

Abel - I tried to read several books about losing a spouse in the months following Krista’s death. I found them to be preachy, boring, and full of self-pity. They rang less than true with me. When I decided to write a book, I vowed not to make same mistake.

I couldn’t write a lie or leave out certain details or scenes just to make myself look good. I had to be able to live with the final product. If anything came of my honesty, I hoped that if people read about my own mistakes, readers would be less inclined to make the same mistakes in theirs.

Me - Many of us unfortunately have lost children - myself included - and a day does not go by that I do not think about her. Do you ever find yourself looking at other children and wondering what your daughter would be like, what her interests would be and counting milestones as if she were there? What helps you get through those days?

Abel - Sometimes I think about what Hope would be doing, but not nearly as often as I used to. It’s probably down to just a handful of moments each year. It helps is that I have three children – two sons and a daughter – with Julie. I fully concentrate on watching them grow and develop. They are the joy of my life.

Me - In your healing process, anger had a big role to play. How would you advise others to handle the grieving process in such horrific tragedies?

Abel - Find a healthy way to deal with your grief. For me it was getting up at 5:00 a.m. and going for a four mile run. I could force all my anger and issues out during that time so when I was done, I could concentrate on simply making it through another day. I tried not to let my grief, anger, or other issues not spill out into my work, friends, or family.

Me - You had known about Krista's genetic background with mental illness. For others who fight depression or other forms of mental ailments, what is the best advise you could give them?

Abel - Don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Whether it’s a family member, doctor, or other mental health professional, if something is not right, let someone know and try to figure out a solution to the problem.

Me - For quite a while you fought with the demons that overcame Krista. Did you ever have that moment where you came to truly understand what it was that tormented her and the meaning of her cryptic message on the answering machine?

Abel - I have no idea what her answering message was trying to communicate. I simply chalk it up to her frenzied mind and that she saw no point in hanging around this world.

Me - Despite all the heartache, you have been blessed with another good woman who has helped heal your heart and shown you what it is to love fiercely again and shared with you the joys of raising a family. For those who are having a hard time seeing that there may be a brighter day ahead, what advice can you give them?

Abel - Life is about making the most of the hand we’ve been dealt. Each morning we have a choice to be either a victim or a hero. Victims let things beyond their control rule their life. Heroes make the best of their circumstances and try to improve them.

I firmly believe that most of our “living” takes place in the gray matter between our ears. Whether we’re happy or sad, miserable or at peace though most of our life is a direct result of how we choose to view the world and the choices we consciously make.

Me - And do you still run? Who is winning now? ;-)

Abel - We still run but having three young kids have forced us, for the most part, to keep separate exercise schedules. Julie works out in the morning. I do it during my lunch break at work. We still try to make time to run on Saturday mornings. Julie still wins – even when she’s pushing a kid or two in our running stroller. She’s a very gifted athlete.

Me - This last one is for your wife if she doesn't mind,....Abel wrote of a bit of hesitation in getting involved with a man with such a unique past. How did you overcome those trepidations and what advice would you give to other women who want to love a widower but are afraid they might get stuck 'competing' with memories? You are a remarkable woman and I thank you for allowing your story to be shared with us.

Julianna - A lot of it had to do with the way Abel treated me. He always makes me feel like the number one woman in his life. I really don’t have to worry about competing with a ghost because Abel never makes me feel that way. For other women who are dating widowers, my advice would be not to settle for someone who’s having a hard time treating you like number one. If you feel like you’re always being compared to a dead woman, get out of the relationship.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to find inspiration

For those of you who would like to get your own copy of Abel's book Room for Two click here .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The 'Stuffing' of Life

This past weekend, my siblings and I had the daunting task of clearing out my mother and father's home since my mother passed away three months ago at age 63 and my father passed away four years ago at age 61 - both from cancer.

Since no who is really living - and my parents were ALIVE - plans on leaving this life at such a young age, unimportant things tended to get put off. The closets had not been cleaned out and the shed was a mess. There was an accumulation of papers and stuff under her bed that would have been a rat's nesting utopia. Her files were outdated and there were even crumbs behind the appliances.

But as we went through the stuff, we also found love letters from my dad to my mom and journal entries written by my mom about how much she had missed and loved him. We found pictures of family gatherings and our prize winning art pieces and papers from school. There were clothes from special occasions and dried flowers that my dad had given her on their first date.

Bottom line, we found a life of memories amongst that stuff in a household that had been a child's haven from the world and a jumping off point for our aspiring dreams and personal growth.

The whole experience made me stop and think about what truly is important and what the definition of stuff actually is.

Webster's first definition defines 'stuff' as the material or substance out of which anything is or can be made. Looking at my mom's 8 drawer collection of ribbons, tissue paper, paper scraps and gift bags, string and yarn, paper punches, glue and pipe cleaners, I decided that this would certainly constitute as stuff. But so would her collection of books that she read to the grandkids and acted out scenes from. Or dad's camping gear that made many a forest site look like the Hilton.

My uncle once said that he's yet to see a hearse followed by a U-Haul filled with stuff on the way to the cemetery but I have to admit, as I went through all of my parents' stuff I learned another one of life's great lessons.It's the 'stuff' that dreams are made of.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Caught in the Headlights

Two years olds are fascinating.Many years ago when my oldest son was about two, I watched with a mixture of horror and keen interest as he jumped from our split entry landing onto our basement couch, bounced onto my mini-tramp and then flew across the room and hit the wall.

Undeterred, he adjusted the tramp and tried the whole process over again until he was able to cling to our TV hutch, gain a firm hold and then shimmy up the rest of the way to the top shelf where I had previously kept a jar of butter mints that he didn’t much care for. He said they tasted like toothpaste.

Finding them gone, however, he dejectedly slid down the hutch only to find out that he was eye level w
ith my stash of Hershey’s miniature candy bars I’d set between the side of the hutch and the TV. He’d been so focused on getting the butter mints, he completely missed something that he liked much better and that had been easily within his reach the whole time.
I thought about that experience this week as I read Barry K. Phillips book Caught in the Headlights – 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way. Too bad this book hadn’t been around then. My son could’ve used a lesson or two from it.
Although billed as a self-help book, I would more classify it as a self-evaluation book because it really makes one sit down and take stock of where they are and where they should be going.

He hits tough subjects like the pursuit of everlasting happiness, self-esteem versus self–worth, humility instead of pride, giving up control in order to embrace faith, freedom knowing you obey the rules, tolerance while having opinions, forgiveness for your own sake and peace of mind, obtaining true success, enjoying the day to day journey and the myth of physical ‘perfection’.

He uses humor, cartons, poetry, anecdotes and his own experiences to help his readers understand that the brass ring they’ve previously been chasing is not what brings true happiness.Many of us have been Caught in the Headlights for way too long, and it’s time for a course correction. He then gives the road-map to navigate the ten things we all think we want out of life only to find out that there is something that makes us happier – the butter mint versus chocolate theory.
Being the journalist that I am, I was so intrigued with Phillips insight and thoughtful wisdom, that I could not resist the urge to find out more and ask a few more questions. Here are his responses;

1 - How did you narrow your scope of experience to only 10? Were there other lessons you wanted to write about but chose not to? Why or are we talking sequel?

Well, these 10 were the most common. We all seem to do well the top 10 lists, so it seemed like a good number. There are others, but I thought I'd see how well this book does before I worry about a sequel.

2 - Of all the lessons you wrote about, which one for you was personally the hardest to learn and why?

The lesson about Control took some time, but the one about the Big Event was the hardest. I suppose that's because of my entrepreneurial nature. Big dreams can easily cloud day to day pleasures.

3 - Why the title Caught in the Headlights? Was this the original working title? If not, what was and why was it changed?

The original title of "the book" wasn't real catchy. "Caught in the Headlights" was actually the working title, but I had written a fair amount of the book before I finally came up with it.

4 - You use an almost conversational tone throughout the book - like friend talking to another friend. Is this how you always write or was that just the style of this book? What would you say is your normal style of writing and your normal genre?

I've written everything from marketing hype to training courses to contracts. The conversational style I used for this is probably my favorite style. It's more true to my personality than any other style, but I'm comfortable in writing in nearly any style. By far, my favorite type of writing is humor based, no matter the style.

5 - You do not shy away from your religious beliefs. Is this because those convictions are such an integral part of the lessons you've learned. For someone who does not have the same religious beliefs, how can this book help them?

I don't think you need to share my beliefs to gain perspective from the book. But you do need to come to terms with what your core beliefs are. Too many people try to replace religious belief with other things. It just never works. Faith is key to being fulfilled in your life.

6 - Who are the three people you'd most like to meet here on earth? In heaven?

On earth, I'll pick one from three categories: Religious: Henry B. Eyring a top leader in my Faith. In business, Chip Foose (leading car designer) and in sports, Tiger Woods. No longer on the earth (in different categories), Joseph Smith, George Washington and Leonardo DaVinci.

7 - If there was one trait about yourself that you could market knowing people would buy and that it would help the world, what would it be and why? (And don't tell me your wife - we already would love to have that saint in our lives...;-))

Wow! I've never even thought of this concept before. Probably perspective on priorities. I've struggled with that a lot, but I finally think I'm starting to get it. Relationships are top on that list, my relationship with God, my family, and with many others. If everyone cared more about that, most things would take care of themselves.

Although this book is only 104 pages, it contains a lifetime of wisdom and lessons learned that we all should take to heart.

I would highly recommend it to anyone who is proverbially flinging themselves against a wall for butter mints that taste like toothpaste instead of going after eye-level Hershey’s chocolate! You’ll save yourself scads of pain, a less than sweet taste in your mouth and the mortification of having your mother tell embarrassing stories about you on her blog years later…..

If you’d like your own copy, you can order the book here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Learning the art of Now and Later...

I was given a bloggers award by Tristi Pinkston for the last blog I did called "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World". A deep and humble thank you, Tristi....

This past week I had a friend ask me the question, “Why do you sacrifice so much of the good stuff now for the hope of something later?”

I couldn’t help but think of a lesson I’d given a class almost a decade earlier and a discussion I’d had with my sons more recently than that.

Church at that time was 1-4 so, half-way through the block, rumbling stomachs were a frequent part of the auditory backdrop in our classroom.

Using this to my advantage, I brought in a pan of small, dry, unfrosted cupcakes that I’d also ‘forgotten’ to put all of the required sugar in. I set them on a table and noted with interest that many of the members of the class were so drawn to the cupcakes that they did not notice the unobtrusive box sitting on the table behind them. The others, however, were drawn to the box and waited to see what it housed.

I asked those particular students if they were hungry and lured them into accepting a cupcake. When they were done and still left wanting, I then pulled out of my bag plates, cups, forks, glasses, a jug of milk and the most decadent looking chocolate cake I could find. I set the table in front of the chalk board with a portrait of Christ and invited the students who had refrained to come sit at the table and enjoy a big piece of that cake.

The others sat on looking miserable wishing that they too had had the sense to see beyond the first offering of sad cupcakes.

I explained that our Savior has personally invited each and everyone of us to dine with Him and partake of His feast. It means giving up a bit of pleasure here in this world for that hope of something better.

This is true of so many things in our lives whether it be morality, honesty, tithing, service or any other thing that can bring us eternal joy.

After explaining this lesson to my friend and talking more in depth about the subject, she had another question, “What ever happened to the kids in that class?”

I told her proudly, “Every single one of them is on track, made it through high school and is on missions or married in the temple. They have told me that that lesson made an impression on them they will not soon forget and then added with a big smile, "And I can honestly say that to this day, I know for a fact none of them are starving.” ;-)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One of the most beautiful women in the world....

Take a good long look at this face. She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever had the fortune to come across....
Her name is Yvette Cade and she currently is about 34 years old. She has a small pixie voice with words that are deliberate and a high pitched giggle that perfectly matches her small pixie stature. She has one daughter and an ex-husband who is in jail for setting her on fire in 2005.

When she was 31, Yvette married Roger Hargrave falling in love with his wit and the gentle manners in which he treated his son from a previous marriage. Soon after their wedding, he began drinking a lot and became volatile, demanding, possessive, suspicious and abusive.

Yvette eventually had the courage to walk away wanting safety for her daughter but Hargrave was not willing to let her go. On the day Yvette's life was thrown into chaos, Hargrave had called her about 14 times in order to tell her he loved her. When he finally did get through to her, he told her, "he wanted to fry her like Crisco".

Six hours later, he showed up at her place of employment - a T-mobile store in Clinton, Maryland - and poured gasoline from a two liter bottle all over her and then chased her until she fell down. While she was down, he lit a match, dropped it on her and then walked away while 60% of her body sizzled.

He later told the judge that what he did was insane and he was sorry that he'd behaved that way. To date, he has never apologized or shown any remorse to his wife for the pain and suffering he has caused her .

One month before this happened, she had been to court to plead with a judge to enforce and injunction against Hargrave. After telling the judge that she was afraid for herself and her daughter and wanted an immediate divorce, the judge callously said, "Well I'd like to be 6'5" but I don't get that either. You'll have to go to divorce court for that" and then dismissed Yvette and the injunction with a bang of his gavel.

Later on the judge said that it was a clerical error that caused her injunction to be dismissed. Yeah, right...

Yvette has been through close to 20 surgeries, has had to wear a pressure suit and masks up to 23 hours a day to minimize scar tissue and do excruciating exercises and slather down in creams to keep her skin as supple as she can. She wears bandages on the back of her head where her hair was burnt into her scalp. She works her hands so she can maintain a bit of mobility to take care of her daughter, and hopefully one day, some grandchildren.

Hers is not a beauty regimen - but a life saving one. And yet, the struggle she goes through every day has made her more beautiful than most people I know.

Why? Because as part of that regimen, she also recites all of her blessings and the things that she is grateful for everyday.

And when she finally did have the courage to go out in public, although many were struck by awe at her appearance, that beauty came out at she said that she was there to plead with women in abusive situations to GET OUT and SEEK HELP. She put her own pride aside to encourage others to get help before it was too late.

(Yvette's five signs that you are in an abusive situation and should seek help are;
  1. Jealousy and possessiveness
  2. Controlling behavior
  3. Verbal abuse
  4. Threats to harm you, your family or your pet
  5. Isolation from friends and family)
And on Oprah, when she was asked by the talk show queen what her thoughts were about Roger Hargrave, Yvette pursed her scarred lips, remained silent for a moment and then smiled slightly as she said, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all."

The world may disagree with me thinking that Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta Jones, or Angelina Jolie define beauty but I will proudly stand and hail that it's people like Yvette Cade who are some of the most beautiful people in the world.
I hope I can aspire to be that pretty one day....

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Republic's Legacy and Oath

This time of year always inspires me as I think about what I am truly grateful for and the liberties which I cherish. But I do also recognize that liberty is not free - it has always had a high price tag.

To that means, I wrote this poem putting into prose the feelings of my heart. I hope you enjoy it...

From the birth of our nation
Til the final show of pride.
I thank Thee, the Almighty
For the sacrifices of those who’ve died.
The brave hearts and courage of those
Who knew not how to fight
But marched to a Nation’s glory
Through cloaking darkness or day’s light.
Praise the young and the old
Who have carried little more
Than the burning faith and desire
To fight their freedom’s war.

A march throughout the centuries
Upon the shoulders of a few,
We owe a reverent gratitude
For the blood that was their due.
For the men with ages of youth
Who carried the dreams of a Nation
And women and children at home
Awaiting any words with patience.
There are but a few names listed
Within our books of learning
But let us not forget the masses
Who gave life for unity burning.

Alas, may they not regret
The benefit of one nation under God
And may we, their benefactors
Remember for which they fought.
There is a picturesque struggle
To raise our banner once more
After a defeat of freedom’s enemy
Upon a beach’s quiet shore.
There are numerous green acres
That bear far as the eye can see
Masses of alabaster white crosses
Of those who gave life for you and me.

We shall preserve this Nation!
This is now our cross to bear!
So that we in truth and glory
May our ensign proudly wear!
To keep our heritage of independence
This land we shall not disgrace
But preserve our freedom, their legacy
Of every soldier’s watchful face.
We shall raise high Liberty’s Title
“In memory”, we hail most sacredly
“For beliefs in God, freedom, family, peace
That built a Nation for their posterity.”

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

If only we could be that focused:

My youngest son has a bit of a competitive nature.

Okay, who am I kidding? That’s like saying the
Grand Canyon is a small flaw in the Earth’s crust.

Anyway, last week he was playing at a friend’s so we stopped by after picking up his brother from baseball practice to tell him to scoot on home. He needed to wash up for dinner. He’d had a hard day battling it out with the dirt on the mountain at Cub Scout camp and by looking at him, one could be fairly sure that the mountain had won.

With a blaze of youthful energy (how after two full days at Cub Country?), he sped off on his bike hollering over his shoulder, “I’ll beat you home!”

As he made his way around the corner of Glider onto 17th and was about to head off on to Cameo, I decided that I’d go straight and then turn onto Richard backing in on Cameo since my son liked to gain an edge by darting out in front of me. It’s good to know that he trusts me and knows I’d never run him over in a battle to the finish line but it still, nonetheless, makes me rather nervous.

When I was almost to the corner of Richard, I looked back and to my horror, my son was a hundred or so yards back in the middle of the road pedaling as fast as he possibly could cars coming straight at him. I watched with a prayer in my heart as they swerved to avoid hitting him.

When he got home, I laid into him verbally for his carelessness as he tried to win the race. His response?

“I didn’t care about winning, Mom. I knew I couldn’t since you were so far ahead but as long as I can see you, I know I’ll be alright. I didn’t even see the other cars – only yours.”

I still had to lecture him on bicycle safety but I also thanked him for keeping his focus on staying with his family.

Later that night, I thought about the lesson my son had taught me; if we could all be so focused that we kept our eye singular to our parents’ heavenly domain, so much so that we didn’t see the danger trying to sideswipe us, how much better would we be and how much brighter would this world seem on a day to day basis?

I’m still trying to figure that one out but I can say this; it’s made me quit thinking about winning the race so much and focus more on my destination.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Something fun and new for me to try

Okay all, since the stress as of late has just about done me in, I decided to get back to doing some fun things. One of those things is using my journalism background to write features on really cool people who inspire me and uplift me as they live their everyday lives. Some of them you will know and some of them you will not. But I can say this about each and every one of them, they have touched my life in some way.

I'd like to do a couple a week so I'll be looking for volunteers (or maybe I should say guinea pigs) to write features on. All I ask is this, if I come knocking at your virtual door, consider opening it up and letting me pick your brain to find the story in you......

A Woman Without Guile

Websters defines guile as "slyness and cunning in dealing with others - craftiness."

And although the world seems to be full of it at the moment, I can honestly say that I have met at least one woman without guile. She is a mother, a wife and a historical fiction author. And she has a great sense of humor, a radiant smile and is an amazing friend. But most of all, she is so pure in spirit and intent that I'm certain you can see the glow popping out from all around her.

She is Tristi Pinkston.

"The most beautiful thing I've ever read in an obituary is 'she was a woman without guile'," said Pinkston. "That's what I aspire to. I don't want to live a life of pretense. What you see is what you get - I may not be all roses and sunshine but I'm honest with my feelings. Someday, I want someone to be able to truthfully say that I was without guile."

That day has come.

Part of Pinkston's charm is her bipolarity like when she says that she loves my motherhood motto (Motherhood is like being pecked to death by a duck) or another she heard (Good mother's let their children lick the beaters but REALLY good moms turn the mixer off first) but subscribes to the one which states simply, "It's harder than you ever imagined , and yet, more joyful than you ever thought possible."

Or when she freely admits that she's judgmental (but trying to change) and would like to physically change her girth but in the same breath admits that she wound not change places with anyone since she believes with all her heart that Heavenly Father sent us to Earth to be exactly who we are and to face our specific challenges so we can gain th greatest blessings. She knows that if she traded paces , she might miss out on all the blessings in store for her.

She would not be a good candidate for Wife Swap. Although the other guy would be getting a gem for a week, she would never accomplish much since she'd be in her room missing her family too darn much.

The dichotomy that is Tristi Pinkston is clearly defined when she admits that the thing she most wants to keep from the world is how vulnerable she is but yet, when asked to give a synopsis of her life in three sentences or less says, "Charming vivacious girl wows and astonishes all with her wit and intelligence, leaving them jealous of her incredible ability to win friends, influence people, and amass large gifts of jewelry."

Here's the kicker,....she doesn't really mean it - but she does accomplish it.

Humor for Pinkston is a way to connect with others and to hide her truth, that she really does feel vulnerable and yet she will never, ever put her own needs ahead of anyone else's even if it does mean getting ahead.

And this is why I say she truly is a woman without guile. Anyone who knows her well also knows that she doesn't care about the jewelry unless it's treasures in terms of her family (her dear husband and four precious children) and her friends. And for the record, she does influence people as she inspires them to be better.

Even in her writing, she is giving. She made a commitment long ago that all of her books in some way would point to Christ and the hope He offers since she believes that is what art is for - to remind us of the creation and the Creator of all. And literature after all, is art.

She writes historical novels because she learns while she researches and wants to shed light on those things that modern day history books have forgotten. She also wants to give her readers that same experience - to be entertained while learning.

And she has managed her goals beautifully in the two novels that I have read ; Nothing to Regret set during WWII and Season of Sacrifice set in the early pioneer days.

She also masterfully weaves hope and faith into her stories. Even her first foray into novelization Sue the Dog was about overcoming the odds. "In the end, Sue reaches her dreams of becoming a ballerina," Pinkston said. "That's really hard for a dog to do, you know, the toe shoes and all, so there really was quite the dramatic triumph."

Yes, I can honestly say that Tristi Pinkston is a woman without guile. In all the conversations I've had with her, she amuses, and inspires. And guile nor any other negative element has ever been a part of them.

We should all aspire to be as such - but not necessarily become Tristi since, first of all she'd not swap places and let someone else steal her blessings and secondly, the world would be a much sadder place without Tristi to spread her magic and brand of good cheer.

You can get to know Tristi Pinkston better by linking to her blogsite at

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Journey took me on a journey I won't soon forget

I just got done reading Jewel Adams' book The Journey and all I can say is,!

Talk about making a person think about things from and eternal perspective. Although it is written in the vein of the fantasy genre, she draws concepts and truths from an eternal perspective of not only this life but of that before and makes one think about where they are headed.

We all ask those perpetual questions; where am I from, what am I doing here and where am I going? Adams' with her gifted writers mind takes those questions and puts them into a story form that makes the reader explore them on a deeper level.

She also made me personally think about my own divinity and purpose here amongst mortals. Can I too be of such import that not only do I live up to a regal birthright, but have an integral part in the future as defined before this life?

Kinda makes you stop and say hummmm...........

I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore their own meaning in life or just needs a good story to sit down and read while escaping the heat of summer.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A temporary Etch-a-Sketch gave me a permanent resolve

Since both of my parents are gone, last weekend we decided to get together at my mom and dad's house before we sell it and celebrate the family's June birthdays and and the fathers in our lives - both living and dead. My sister (who is still living at the house) however, ended up with a nasty case of MRSA (staff infection on steroids) and we couldn't do it there.

Some of the family wanted to just bypass the occasion and look to another weekend while others wanted to hold onto familial togetherness - me included. If we didn't fight to keep our small family circle together, who would?

But where to gather?

Mom and dad's pace had always been the gathering place. The rest of our homes were just a bit too small for the whole crew.

I looked around at mine and was overwhelmed. My mother's funeral and recent surgery had left me so far behind, the dust bunnies under the front entryway table had had enough time to colonize and I was confident that they were on their fourth generation! After thinking about what was really important though, I put my pride aside and told everyone, "It's not perfect but at least we can be together here."

They came, and one of the first things that happened is that the cake of dust on my living room table captured the interest of my young nephews. I was turning purple with embarrassment as they started drawing and writing their names in the dust but my embarrassment quickly dissipated when I saw how their eyes sparkled as they used their little fingers to make their imprints on the world.

My brother came in and chastised his son for his rudeness. Since it was my home, I figured I could overrule him and told the children to draw whatever they pleased. "Ashes to Ashes and dust to dust, Play as you please - sometimes fun is a must!" I said.

My brother laughed and the children continued in their wonder as they decorated my table with their artwork. We laughed and enjoyed being together as a family the rest of the night and I learned another valuable lesson as I woke up the next morning to clean up and looked at their temporary hieroglyphics,......

"Building family bridges is not about perfection. Sometimes it is just about gathering and finding flaws to laugh about."

I haven't dusted that table since.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No Zits! Ah, have the life!

I just got done reading Anne Bradshaw's Please, No Zits! And other stories for young LDS readers and it was delightful!

Her British humor mixed with her uncanny ability to get inside the minds of young people helped me take a sunny road trip as I journeyed through a few pot hole laden roads in life along with her characters.

Tackling subjects like finding purpose in life, dealing with self esteem, connecting with that something higher in each of us and making good decisions, Bradshaw has her readers from America and the US believing that when it comes to navigating certain roads, the world is indeed a very small place after all.

I especially liked her word guide in the back which helps the reader navigate British words for American things i.e lift versus elevator. And this is why....

My seven year old this past year came home especially pleased with himself because he was learning a third language (he'd been learning Spanish also) from his new friend Ian. The conversation went something like this;

Me - "Oh and what language are you now learning?"

Him - "English but not fake American English - real English like the speak in London where Ian is from."

Me - "Hummmm, and what are the differences between American English and real English?"

Him - "Well, instead of saying 'waw-tur', you say 'waw-tah' and instead of saying 'aw-ther' you say 'awe-thor'. And instead of watching a TV you watch a telly. It sounds much better huh, mom?"

Me - "Much, now run along so mommy can get her writing done. There's two cookies - oophs - I mean biscuits on a plate for you downstairs. I love you..."

So thanks to Anne Bradshaw, I now have an official guide I can reference so I can communicate with my child as he becomes trilingual.

But I digress.....

Bradshaw has a wonderful way of capturing the character's voice whether using internal or external dialogue and pulling the reader into the angst of youthful thought processes. And since it is a compilation of short stories, I was not overwhelmed by a taxing schedule that bit into my reading time. I just took it with me and read a story here and a story there as I waited for my teenage sons to run their errands while I leisurely waited in the car nibbling on shortbread and sipping on English Grey herbal tea.

And for me, that was quite enjoyable!

I would recommend this book to anyone of youthful mind or body who especially enjoys things with a British flair or wants to take a step towards becoming multilingual themselves!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Everyone Can Enjoy the Journey - Even Me

It has been a long month with my mom's passing due to cancer and a scheduled surgery a week past that.

But I am now back to blogging and for my return, it is my great pleasure to tell you about a book I read while recovering from my procedure called Enjoying the Journey - Steps to Finding Joy Now by Jaime Theler with Deborah Talmadge.

When the book was sent to me, I admittedly was hesitant to open it up. With my insides scrambled and my emotions even more so, I did not feel any joy at the moment nor did I think that it was possible for me to find any on the horizons close at hand.

But something happened to my aching heart as I forced myself to read the pages contained therein. I found peace and hope and joy in knowing that my circumstances were only temporary and that my mother whom I missed so terribly had found her eternal joy with my dad and for the first time in close to a month, I was able to smile and understand what I was striving for.

I found purpose again.

The poignant words written "In speaking to his apostles, the Savior reassured them that he would not leave them comfortless when He left them (John 14:18). He promised that he would send them 'the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost' (John 14:26). Not only does the spirit enlighten our minds, but it also fills our souls with joy and comfort. As Sheri L. Dew stated, 'No mortal comforter can duplicate that of the Comforter'. In times of great hardship and pain, we know that we can turn to the Holy Ghost for comfort....We are much stronger in this life when we are walking with God than when we are walking alone. Together, there will be nothing you cannot endure, be it cancer, the loss of a loved one, depression, a wayward family or financial hardship," helped me to remember where I needed to turn for solace.

I had forgotten to apply His spiritual salve to my heart. It was then that I "cast my burdens upon the Lord", and true to the promises made, He did sustain me! (Psalms 55:22).

The next day seemed a little brighter, the physical pains seemed more bearable and most of all, I was able to look at my parents picture and rejoice in the the life they'd given me and the life for which I was striving instead of feeling the immense amount of responsibility they'd left upon my shoulders taking care of a brother on a mission and keeping my family together.

Later on in the book, the author reminds the reader through the analogies of the Battle of Little Round Top at Gettysburg (which changed the tide of the war) and the battles of Captain Moroni and his Title of Liberty (which inspired and fortified his people) that great things can be accomplished by small numbers giving me hope that maybe I could make a difference in keeping my family together.

Since reading this book, I have slept a bit better, had clarity of thought and been able to find the small things in life to smile about. And even thought I cannot yet quite say that my joy is full, I do have hope that I can make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed me.

I highly recommend it to anyone who is dealing with overwhelming stress, loss, or simply feeling down and not knowing where to turn so that you too can find a path to eternal joy and happiness.

For more information on Jaime Theler and Deborah Talmadge, you can go to Jaime's website and blogspot at and

Monday, May 12, 2008

Laurel,,....Mother, Teacher and Friend

My mom,... mother, teacher and friend

Almost two weeks ago, I sent out a call in desperation.

My mother had just asked me to do her life's tribute and for the first time in my life,...I was at a loss for words despite having written many public, some even award winning, tributes. Although as a journalist I always carried the heavy burden of doing a person justice, for this tribute I looked in the mirror and asked, "How do I do her justice and let everyone know exactly what she meant to me and so many others?"

Many good, talented and wonderful people came to my aid though and if nothing more, helped me pull it together so that I could get through it and paint her life in a way her friends and family wanted to remember her.

And for that I thank you all and hope that I did justice to all of you as well.......

Tribute For Laurel Stapley Gooch

Almost exactly a year ago I stood in my mom’s upstairs office and cried after she’d gotten the grim news about the state of her cancer. I told her that she had to stick around – I wasn’t prepared to be the matriarch of this family and take on the responsibilities that entailed.

“Mom, that is a mantle I am so under qualified and so thoroughly unprepared for – you have to beat this.”

I was expecting comfort and words of wisdom but in her classic way, she put her arms around me, smiled and said, “Oh Sis, that title is more of a yoke rather than a mantle,….have you looked at this bunch lately?”

Despite what she personally thought of her abilities, she always knew how to be strong when we found ourselves crumbling and she did it with grace, dignity, and when the situations warranted it – a dose of humor.

I had always been so independent and self assured that my mom and dad used to kid me that God gave me to them so I could raise her. And then Becky had been given to them so they felt like they had had a hand in raising a daughter. But that night when faced with the possibilities of losing my mom, she saw a new side of me – one that needed her in the worst way and felt completely inadequate at the prospects of following in her footsteps.

I remember one night about five years ago when dad was sick and looking back through his hospital room door as she gently cradled his hand. I looked at my mom and saw something I’d been remiss to see before. Or more accurately, maybe I just hadn’t needed to see it before.

She’d been the woman I watched as a ten year old trying to corral the dog into the back yard before he could have an accident. When the dog ended up on the couch trying to escape the loony woman waving her arms in arcs and whooping at him, she hadn’t skipped a beat. She fetched the vacuum, put it on the couch and turned it on. The dog, who was more scared of the vacuum than the crazy lady, jumped off the couch onto her new carpet and urinated in fear.

I got a scrub brush and helped her until there wasn’t a dribble left.

At twelve, I watched as she cried because a mother bird who’d built a nest in the air conditioning vent that spring had pushed her babies into taking their first shaky steps and watched as they had failed. She cried even harder when the mother bird pushed them to keep trying until they finally succeeded and flew away that fall.

That moment, for her, had defined the true nature of motherhood – putting ones biggest fears aside for the betterment and ultimate joy of knowing that you’ve done your job and your children are succeeding on their own. Every fall as the kids returned back to school, she would remember the birds and the role of a mother and she would cry mixed tears of joy and sadness.

Back then I had put my arm around her and tried to give her comfort by telling her that I’d never be far away.

At thirteen, I had watched her secretly act out a scene from ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ in her old blue polka dot bikini in front of her dresser mirror. I sat down on the edge of her bed and told her that she looked great for an older lady.

I watched as sadness mixed with a hint of wistfulness churned in her eyes when she recognized the disappearance of her youth.

At seventeen I watched her with a bit of disdain as she sat at the table one Sunday afternoon looking at five of us and said with the shock and utter amazement of someone who’d just won the ten million dollar lotto, “I’m a mother!”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Duuhhh…” I figured she had become a bird brain.

At nineteen, I’d fought with her because she’d tried to force her dreams for my wedding upon me. She’d put her foot down when I’d asked for a miniature waterfall under the cake with rose colored water matching the decorated fondant tiers. She said it made it look trashy. I ordered the fountain anyway yelling at her to get out of my life. I was sure I completely understood why the baby birds had flown away never to return home again.

I did not see her cry that time but hoped that she had.

Throughout my twenties as I had my children, I watched her wring her hands and fret over my brothers and their choices in mates hoping that these young women would support them through their educations. She had wanted my brothers and their families to be able to live out their dreams. Education afforded better jobs and better jobs afforded dreams. Only when those diplomas were obtained could she rest peacefully knowing that they’d be okay. And she fretted over Becky hoping that Josh could give her the life my mother felt she deserved. She later told me that she had never needed to worry. Jen, Syd, Josh and Shiloh were the best things that could’ve ever happened to my brothers and to Becky.

I finally understood why, when looking at my siblings through a mother’s eyes, she had cried over the baby birds.

I was thirty-seven, that night at the hospital when I watched her at my father’s bedside having patience, adding strength and holding onto faith believing that all would be well. She was fighting for him with a determination that only someone in that situation could understand. I also remembered smiling as I headed around the corner. I knew I didn’t need to be there to catch her if she fell. She was bravely moving forward into unchartered territory and handling it with the grace I wish I had.

But when I got home I cried because somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew she had taught me to be the mother bird. And I could not have had a more qualified and magnificent teacher.

She lost her dad when she was 29 to cancer, and on the day of his funeral, she had cried but told me that she had thanked God for giving her such a wonderful man as a father.

She lost her father-in-law to cancer when she was 37, and I watched as she took on the house, five children, the yard and scrimp on a budget so dad could fly back and forth between Denver and Phoenix spending what precious time there was left with his father. At grandpa’s funeral she shed tears and thanked God that she’d been blessed with another good man who’d raised a fine son – the one she had grown to love more than life its self.

And when dad developed a limp that would not go away, at 57 she chauffeured him from doctor to doctor in a fervent quest hoping to find the cause. She once again faced cancer and bravely took my dad’s hand saying, “We’ll fight this together.”

He was 61 when mom wept as she rested her head upon his knee knowing he was steadily growing closer to taking his last breath. And although most of her married life she had been afraid to give voice to her darkest trepidations, we children knew that her biggest fear had always been to be left alone. Yet, she lifted her head and whispered so those in the room could barely hear, “I love you, Bill, but I can do this. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore. Go, my love, go….”

Moments later, dad took his last breath. Mom kissed him gently on the forehead and left the room to make the arrangements.

On the day of his funeral when every cell in my body wanted to scream at the injustice of it all, my mom put her hand on my shaking arm and said, “I thank God for having such a wonderful man to share my life with,” and she sadly but tenderly watched as the love of her life was being put to rest.

Her doctors told us that mom’s case was a complex one and quite frankly, that was fitting since she was a complex woman. Although her emotions were clearly defined, her words often were not. She loved fiercely and fought to keep her family close but sometimes we as children just heard the fight part and not the love behind them.

But on the evening of her death, there was no mistake as to her feelings. We wondered why she did not just give up and go. Her body was racked with pain and as much as it was excruciating to let her go, she held on with a fierce determination proving once and for all that she was indeed more stubborn than my brother David.

Although she had not been responsive for more than 24 hours, right before her passing her breathing calmed, hers eyes barely opened and she looked at her children. As testimony to our mother’s love and complex ways, tears of joy and anguish ran down her face before we had the opportunity to usher her into my dad’s waiting arms.

She loved the scripture in Proverbs which reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thy own understanding “ but she also lived by the creed question everything.

She said she was never good with words but she gave amazing talks and loved to learn new and unusual words in the dictionary and engage in word play.

She could cry and laugh at the same time.

She was every bit a lady but was also a tomboy as a little girl who ran through fields, played in mud and with snakes and even once wore her boy cousin’s underwear.

She always praised others and marveled at their talents but had a hard time recognizing her own as true gifts and as marvelous works.

She said she couldn’t die – she had not found her purpose in life and yet she gave everything to her family and friends.

She sometimes questioned her own faith and yet she had the uncanny ability to teach faith, perseverance, strength and forgiveness by example through the things she did on a daily basis.

Over the course of the last year as we drove to and from appointments, I had many opportunities to talk with her and understand the true nature of her heart and the tenderness she had for her children, her grandchildren, her other family members and her friends. And if there was a word that could define those conversations besides love, it was gratitude.

She was grateful for the blessings in her life. She would have given her life for anyone of her children or grandchildren, and gone to the ends of the Earth for any one of her friends. She could not live without her siblings or her mother. And of them all, she was fiercely protective and passionate.

I’ve also watched many times over the last four years as she’s forlornly gazed at daddy’s picture and harbored insecurities that she couldn’t do it as well as he had – couldn’t laugh as much, couldn’t live as well or love as perfectly as he did. But everyday, she faced the day and did it as best she could hoping to make proud those who meant most to her in this life as she found moments to laugh and love perfectly – just like she had taught daddy to do.

And she did make us proud.

And then I remember the night when she talked one last time of the birds. It was the night she asked me to be the mother bird. She told me that although my brothers held the priesthood keys to the family, she was counting on me to be the heart of it. She told me to be there for Becky and do all those things she’d need another woman’s touch for like shopping and advice on raising two active little boys and to help her keep her panic under control. She told me to make sure the boys played nice; don’t let Rex take himself too seriously, give Tim free reign on his emotions and to remind David to take care of himself as well as others. She also wanted them all to know that she knew their hearts and that they had made her extremely proud. She then gave me the charge to make sure I all feathers were kept unruffled and when they were, to make sure they did not stay that way.

As far as she was concerned, she had done seven great things in her life – married my father and raised six children that any parent could be proud of.

And then she spoke of Taylor – her one last great success - and told me that I’d been a surrogate mother to him since the day he was born. She was counting on me to make sure that he felt a mother’s love every day for the rest of his life. And Taylor, you will because we have a mother who taught us all the importance of bonding together as a family. No one can take her place but we as a collaborative whole can lead, guide and direct you,….and each other, as our parents would have done. And that is my promise to you - my family, including mom – that I will be here for you whenever you need me and live my life in such a way that our parents will live on and can rejoice in our accomplishments.

It is now time for a new generation to pick up her baton of hope and strength. I do not know what the future holds but I am assured – thanks to the example of our mother – that we will have the courage to face whatever is asked of us. And I am grateful that God has given us a mother to teach us how to face our fears with faith and with dignity. We love you, mom.


“Hey there, Goochie, I’ve waited a while….”

He welcomed her warmly with his lopsided smile.

“I know it’s hard but you too, will see,

How strongly and united is our family.”

“But the kids, Bill…” and she shed a tear.

“They need my love, they need a parent near.”

“Have you forgotten the mercy of our Father here?

We WILL be close,…there’s no need to fear.”

“I am so conflicted between here and Earth

Because God gave us stewardship the day of their births.

I have loved them as only a mother could

And fought for them, and beside them stood.”

Ah, Goochie,” he nodded as he took her hand,

“That’s exactly why you can know how strong they’ll stand

Together united as we taught them to be

And we’ll still be watching over them - you and me.”

She then looked back at her mortal form

And at all of their children as they lovingly mourned,

And she knew he was right as she drew close to death.

Their family would be fine, they had already been lead.

But she would still miss them if for only a short time.

And a tear from her mortal eye was their final sign

That their mother knew joy but also felt pain

Over missing her children until they were untied again.

“They are a good bunch, those kids of ours,

And I do know God won’t keep us far.”

She smiled up at him with her big blue eyes

And then looked back one last time to whisper goodbye.

He then twirled her round and did a dippy-doo

“It seems like forever since I could dance with you.”

She couldn’t help laugh as she did a two-step with her love

While watching over their family from God’s kingdom above.

Written by Stacy Gooch Anderson

April 30, 2008