Thursday, November 17, 2016

Be of Good Cheer


In a few weeks I'll be giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting. The topic I'll be speaking on is the story of Peter Walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). I've always loved this account because there are so many life applications in it, and I especially love the insights we get of the Savior. When the disciples saw Jesus coming toward them on the water, they were afraid. He told them, "Be of Good Cheer; it is I; be not afraid."

Don't you love that? Do you ever feel afraid or worried about what the future holds? I definitely do sometimes. 2016 has been a rough year for my family. In June, my nine-year-old was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We were totally blind-sided by this and are still learning how to find our "new normal" as a family. Then, in September my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He passed away in October and there's a piece of me that won't ever be whole until I see him again. We've also have had some major family struggles with my extended family this year, and when you add the commotion going on in the world it can seem like everything is falling apart. I sometimes feel like Peter standing on the water as wave after wave comes crashing in on me.

So how can we "be of good cheer" when we're being slammed by the waves of the world? Is it even possible to find joy when our circumstances seem bleak? The answer comes in Peter's story. It was only after he lost focus of the Savior and turned his attention to the fierce winds that he began to sink.

We can be of good cheer by keeping our eyes on the Savior.

By keeping my focus on Him, I am able to find the blessings in the midst of my trials. When my son was diagnosed with Diabetes, I focused on being grateful that there was treatment for him. I'm so grateful for modern medicine!

When my dad passed away, I focused on being grateful that he wasn't suffering or in pain anymore. When I miss him, I think about all of the wonderful memories we had together and the sacred moment when he passed through the veil. I know my dad is where he needs to be, and because of the Savior, I know I'll see him again.

When my family members choose paths that are heartbreaking, it's hard to accept that I can't force them to see the mistakes they're making. But as I focus on the Savior, I realize that I can love and pray for them, and hope that eventually it will all work out.

Keeping our eyes on the Savior leads to gratitude, and gratitude leads to cheerfulness. Which is one of the reasons I love Thanksgiving. When my kids start to whine and complain, I encourage them to find at least one thing to be thankful for. It's amazing how many blessings we have when we stop to think about it.

So keep your focus on the Savior, and be of good cheer. If you find yourself sinking into the waves (as we all do at some point), call out to Him and He will reach out and pull you up again. Always.

Thanks for letting me get some thoughts down for my talk. For another resource on finding joy in trials, here is President Nelson's last conference message:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Signing Alert

I'll be at the BYU Bookstore doing signings tomorrow, April 29th from noon-2pm for Women's Conference. This is likely my only book signing for the year, so if you can stop by I'd love to see you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Day My Story Flatlined

I don't usually get very authorly with my posts (meaning, I don't write much about writing), because I feel like becoming a writer is such a personal journey. When people ask me for writing advice, I typically give them a blank stare and mutter something like, "Um . . . don't give up?" I certainly don't claim to be an expert, but today I made a discovery I felt I needed to share. What I discovered is this: your words are living, breathing things.

A few years ago, I embarked on a project that ended in a 99k manuscript that really wasn't publishable. It was a discovery write, because for the life of me I can't seem to outline, and in this case it was a massive fail.

Not wanting to give up on the story and my characters, I decided I would perform surgery on it. For the past several weeks I have been taking pieces of the old story, and carefully grafting them in to the new manuscript, and things were going quite well. The pulse was good and I was on a writing high---certain that I had the next New York Times bestseller.

And then my story flatlined.

I got over 100 pages in and had no idea what to do next. The monitors were going off in my brain, screaming that this thing was going to die and I had no idea how to resuscitate it. I panicked that the original story was better, and now I was going to have not one, but TWO Frankenstein projects running around, terrorizing my brain with their disjointed savagery. So, as any desperate writer would do, I turned to my writing group for some much needed support. I'm confident that with their encouragement, I can at least revive my conviction to stick with one of the stories and see it through to the end. In an exercise of taking my own advice, I refuse to give up!

The point to all of this, is that I had thought I could take one story and drastically change it, still ending up with some version of that story. But what I learned is that as soon as you begin a project, it takes on a life all its own. It is, in essence, alive as soon as you pour the words into it. We can't fully predict what a story will do once we begin its creation, nor should we try to, or else it might die. Words and characters can have a will of their own and it's up to us to learn how to orchestrate them into a tale worth telling.

Some may diagnose my situation as a case of writer's block, but I don't think so. I think it's just my story telling me that it doesn't plan to conform to whatever mold I was trying to force it into, and that's kind of exciting. So enough with my blog post, it's back to the operating table. Wish me luck!     

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas!

My goal for this year was to have all of the commercial things about Christmas done before December, so that my family and I could better focus on the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn't meet the goal of getting all of the shopping done early (there's ALWAYS something I forget!), but I do feel that I've tried harder to take moments to think about the Savior.

Twice in the second chapter of Luke, we learn that, "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." Pondering is a practice that's sometimes hard to do in our busy world, but it's never been more important to take those still moments. I read an article in this month's Ensign by Elder Christofferson that really brought this point home:

So here's wishing you a beautiful Christmas season filled with hope, joy, and most of all, peace.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hello, Brighamites

We'll be presenting a workshop on motherhood on Nov. 7th in Brigham City. There will be many other wonderful classes offered that day, so please join us!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Brother Richards

I just listened to a talk by Brother Eric D. Richards, and I can't stop thinking about it. He is a motivational speaker who has some CD's out with Deseret Book. I've communicated with him through email and can tell you he is one of the nicest (and funniest) guys you'll meet. If you're looking for a fireside speaker, or want something uplifting to listen to on a Sunday, or while driving, or while trying to destroy the evil weeds taking over your yard (please say I'm not the only one with this problem), then THIS is the man for you:

He's also on Facebook:
and Instagram: @brotherichards

Monday, August 24, 2015

Exceptional is Now Available in Stores!

The full Invaluable series is now available in LDS bookstores! It makes me so happy to see all three books on the shelf together. :)