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