Wednesday, November 1, 2017

So, I'm actually doing it this year. National Novel Writing Month. 50,00 words in November, 1667+ words per day. I've joined the online hive mind at, and am inspired by the daily Pep Talks. 

I'm also beyond excited at the reviving of our local writing group filled with amazing, talented writers! 

We are better together when pursuing our collective, creative dreams!

I'm hoping to write 50K words for the same novel, which has a working title of: "Music to Watch a Girl By", taken from the Andy Williams Song and its first line. But in my book (pardon the pun) ANY 50K words will do! For me it's about getting into the habit of writing, getting into the "flow". Feel free to join me!

The girl I picture in the first scene looks similar to the girl below. (I SO wish a brain could take a snapshot, and shoot it to the cloud where download it for you, but, alas, not yet...)

I am posting a sample to prove that I'm doing what I say I'm doing. 

The Word: Skittish

They called her many things, her wild red curls like a strawberry dust devil trying to keep up with her endless bounding, her sudden stops, and her turn-on-a-dime twirling. She was indeed fiddle-footed, fluttery, skittish, even high-strung. But she was also free-wheeling, wild and fearless. She was at once brave and terrified, joyful and broken. She would have owned  it all had she cared enough to think it through. But she didn’t. She let the others: the watchers, the observers, the gossips and yes, the artists, do that for her.

Often she wore dresses, unlike the identically jean-clad peers who either ignored her, or pointed in giggle/whisper cruelty. She was unaware of either reaction, loving the way her circle skirts fluttered around her calves, even though sometimes her long, thin legs got so entangled in the fabric, that she stumbled and tripped. It was rare her freckles didn’t frame some scrape or bruise, but earthy, autumn-kissed beauty held its ground: ginger, and stubborn.

She laughed for no reason, and sang too, making up songs with breathy tones and poetic lyrics. Sometimes she’d fold in her Cervidaen limbs and snuggle up to a tree with a rhyming dictionary, or it could just as easily be a book on Quantum Physics, or Pippi Longstocking. No one could really put a finger on her, on who she really was. And that was her preference, although an afternoon of hugging wasn’t out of the question…but then neither was an afternoon of feeling jumpy every time a human was spotted.

She cried over fallen birds’ nests, tricked out trucks whose roaring engines burned her ears, and she cried for the pleasure of tears running down her cheeks and leaving her eyes watery and washed clean .

There was no question hers was an Irish temperament, but there were many questions about why she was angry, or at what, as often there was no explanation at the ready. She’d never had to ask herself, like many of us had, “Girl, where’s your fire?” It was her element. But then so were earth, wind and water.

I’d choose her for my own if she was an unbroken colt, a Barbary stag, a Setter, or an errant teen. I’d pick her first for any team, although I doubt she’d join one. I’d vote for her, polish her cowboy boots, kiss her hand and yes, even lay my coat across a mud puddle for her. I know she’d never need any of those things, and in fact, prefers a good stomp through a mud puddle. But whatever it is she wants? I’ll give her. You would too, if you really knew her. I’m not worried though. You probably never will…

The Word: Bunting

He leaned against the pavilion railing, oblivious of the carefully placed, and fragile, striped paper bunting now wrinkling and tearing under the heat and sweat of his less-than-toned buttocks. He was shadowy, though he wore a light-colored suit and a straw fedora. He stood in a section where the sun could only dapple his calves as it moved like quick-silver through the leafy maples, oaks, and towering pines. He was less than noticeable, which was fine with him. He was there to notice other things.

The band played through its repertoire of rousing marches, country dance tunes, and patriotic anthems, and then started through them a second time as people wandered through the booths, bought lemonades and sandwiches and sat in rickety folding chairs to listen as they ate. The man watched them, and he also scanned the vendors, the carnies who were watching the giggling, crying, squealing urchins vying for a spot on the merry-go-round. He watched children tossing dimes trying to win leftover glassware as though it were the richest of treasures, and men throwing darts at under-filled balloons trying to win their girl a stuffed animal, the bigger the better when status was involved.

He watched the teenage boys throwing footballs and wrestling, and clowning for the attention of nearby girls pretending to ignore them while they adored them. He watched men seriously competing at horseshoes, the throwing arm thrown behind them as they stepped forward with slightly bended knees, swung, then released. He heard the clinks and the absence of clinks as the scores rose, and leads changed hands. He watched the foot races, and the apple-bobbing. He saw snow cones melt down chubby fists, and now and then, an impatient mother spanking a dangling son.

He participated in nothing but making small talk with the men who passed the time in the shade with him because, though he didn’t want to be noticed, he didn’t want to stand out either. He knew them all, of course, but then again, he didn’t really. He’d lived among them all his days, and yet never really connected in any significant way. He was a watcher, mostly. He might someday put pen to paper with all the information gleaned from these encounters. Maybe a novel…maybe an exposé. He hadn’t decided, though he knew whose wives were wanton, and whose husbands were cuckold. He knew what child belonged to what father even if the father wasn’t honestly aware.

He knew the ticks and tells of the card-players, the gamblers who gathered in the dark shadows that were his preference. He knew when to push, and when to cash out and walk away. He rarely took the punches, and rarely gave them, when a cheater was accused. He was never the cheater, even if it came easy to him. The win didn’t interest him as much as the watching.

But right now, in this lemony summer sunlit scene, he only watched the red-haired girl swirling her skirts through the weeping willows, her eyes squinted against the summer sky. He watched her bare feet, nimble as a deer, move from rock to rock across the stream, and dance with intricate grace through the newly mown grass. He could see her green toes, scratched and bruised from whatever grassy trail she’d travelled. He saw her red-hair shining in the July sun like a cloud afire. He saw her mouthing the words to the song the band was playing. He saw her smiling, and detached from every other human around her, though she did stop to pet a dog or two.

He watched her disappear between the vendor booths and did not wonder where she was off to. He knew, from watching her for weeks.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Peace and Contentment Through Spiritual Self Reliance

July 9, 2017   Oak City 2nd Ward Relief Society Lesson
“Teachings of the Prophet”: Gordon B. Hinckley Lesson # 13
“Peace and Contentment Through Spiritual Self-Reliance”


Video: “Master, the Tempest is Raging”

"North of Jerusalem about eighty miles or so lies a beautiful body of water known earlier in biblical times as the Sea of Chinneroth and the Lake of Gennesaret, but known best to us today as the Sea of Galilee. It is a freshwater inland lake a little over twelve miles long and seven miles wide. The River Jordan flows through it, from north to south, on its journey toward the Dead Sea.

"This was the lake Jesus knew as a child and as a young man, its western shores lying just twelve or fifteen miles from his boyhood home of Nazareth. It was to this lake and the neighboring Galilean hills that Jesus returned so often during those demanding years of his public ministry.

"On one journey to Galilee, the Savior taught the multitudes crowded near the water’s edge. With the people pressing ever closer, Jesus sought a better teaching circumstance by stepping into a boat and pushing out a few yards into the sea. There, a short distance from the eager crowd, he could be seen and heard by those straining for sight and words of the Master.

"Following his discourse, the Savior invited his disciples to join him, and they set out together for the other side of the lake. The Sea of Galilee is quite low, about 680 feet below sea level, and the heat becomes quite great. The hills surrounding the water rise up very sharply and to considerable height. The cold air rushing down from the hills meets the warm air rising from the lake in such a way that sudden and temporarily violent storms can occur on the surface of that inland sea. It was just such a storm as this that Jesus and his disciples found as they crossed the lake at evening time. This is the way Mark described it:

“And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

“And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

“And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:36–41.)

"All of us have seen some sudden storms in our lives. A few of them, though temporary like these on the Sea of Galilee, can be violent and frightening and potentially destructive. As individuals, as families, as communities, as nations, even as a church, we have had sudden squalls arise which have made us ask one way or another, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” And one way or another we always hear in the stillness after the storm, “Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”

None of us would like to think we have no faith, but I suppose the Lord’s gentle rebuke here is largely deserved. This great Jehovah, in whom we say we trust and whose name we have taken upon us, is he who said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” (Gen. 1:6.) And he is also the one who said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.” (Gen. 1:9.) Furthermore, it was he who parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry ground. (See Ex. 14:21–22.) Certainly it should be no surprise that he could command a few elements acting up on the Sea of Galilee. And our faith should remind us that he can calm the troubled waters of our lives.” Excertp from: Howard W. Hunter’s talk:  “Master, the Tempest is Raging”

This lesson was given in October General Conference in 1984. While the world has changed a great deal since then, the truth of the principles President Hunter testified of have not.

President Hinckley, in our lesson today, shares these divine truths and principles that will help to anchor us in times of trial, so that we will not shift and sway with every rising storm be it weather, worldly views, controversy, declining morals, wolves in sheep’s clothing preaching their own skewed versions of truth, or whether it is earthquakes, or tempest, or fires. It may be our own small thorns in the flesh, or crises that threaten home and hearth. Whatever stormy sea we find ourselves upon, whatever the size and strength of our boat, our Savior can still the seas for us today, as in times past, if we follow the map he has given us. He is our captain, and the wind in our sails. He is our compass and He is our anchor.

An anchor is a device attached to a ship or boat by a cable and cast overboard to hold it in a particular place by means of a fluke that digs into the bottom.  It is also defined as a reliable or principal mainstay. What better analogy could our Savior, and his servant President Hinckley, have provided us with in the truths we will be discussing today.
In this lesson, President Hinckley talks about several specific ways we can become more self-reliant. 

He says: “We teach self-reliance as a principle of life, that we ought to provide for ourselves and take care of our own needs.” He knows that if we adhere to these truths and practice them in our lives, that when the tempest is raging, we can have, as the lesson’s title suggests, “peace and contentment”.

As a kind of object lesson, I am going to ask each of us to exercise some self-reliance in the way we experience this lesson today. President Hinckley’s lesson is divided into four main sections. I would like to divide each of you into four groups.

Group GREEN: Use Time Wisely Principle #2
Group BLUE: Manage Money Principle #4
Group YELLOW: Work: Take Responsibility Principle #5
Group RED: Become One/Serve Together #7

In each folder is the relevant section of today’s lesson, and also a few resources pages from the “My Foundation” self-reliance manual from the church’s new program.

Have each group review and discuss the materials both in the manual and in the section of President Hinckley’s lesson. Have them be prepared to share their principle, why it is important and ways we can practice these in our lives. Each group will have about 10 minutes, and can take 3-5 minutes to present their principle. Encourage them to begin with prayer and seek the Spirit in their assignment.



Summary:  I would like to bear my fervent testimony of the things we have discussed today.  

The scripture: “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”  from D&C 38:30 has been a constant on my mind these last weeks as I’ve known I’d be giving this lesson. I’ve been amazed as I’ve noticed how many times I’ve felt fear and stress navigating my everyday life because I didn’t do the things to prepare for things as simple as getting ready for work in the morning, or having missing ingredients for a meal mid-preparation. I found myself feeling overwhelmed and scared about a family member’s choices until I remembered to sit in the quiet, say a fervent prayer and then pay close attention to my own spiritual self-preparation in order to help them.

I also remember the sheer terror I felt as a young student when I remembered an upcoming test that I had procrastinated study for, or when I felt totally unprepared for the onset of sudden illness, financial or work challenges.

If I’m honest, I was pretty scared about today’s lesson as it is pretty far outside my comfort zone, and the demands of family and work during the busy summer had teased me into procrastinating it’s preparation for too long.

I know that if we follow the counsel of our leaders, preparing ahead of time for whatever we might ask to endure, we can have peace and comfort in times of trial. I know that if we prepare, in whatever small ways we are capable of, the Lord will bless us. He will multiply our efforts and bless us in miraculous ways to do what He has asked us. I have to often remind myself that Nephi felt unprepared to hunt with out his bow, to obtain the brass plates, and  to build a boat. But he did as the Lord commanded, and was blessed in profound and unexpected ways. Heavenly Father doesn’t love Nephi more than He loves us. If we will do the things that Nephi did, that our prophet and leaders teach us to do, He will help us as well.

I know that to be true. I know our prophet is called of God to help us in our journey through mortality and back to our Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ, our Savior is our advocate, our strength, our captain and our anchor in every storm we face. I say these things it the name of Jesus Christ amen.