Sunday, November 8, 2015

I’m in Awe of You

After a week of being sick and nights of no sleep, I had firmly resolved not to go to church this morning despite some mild congestion, which would have been no big deal. I really wanted just to sleep. So, still wanting to keep the Sabbath day holy, I set myself up in the recliner with The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos queued up in the DVD player. I turned on my favorite segment called I am the Bread of Life, which is taken from a section of scripture in John 6.

The Savior taught his disciples some doctrine that was difficult for them to understand. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”
The Savior’s teachings were so incomprehensible to some that “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”

The Spirit hit me powerfully with Peter’s words. “Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

In light of the recent events and new policies and the uproar in the LDS faith, I had my answer. Even though I didn’t question the brethren’s decision, I still prayed for the confirmation of the Spirit that this was correct, that this was doctrine from our Father in Heaven.

“Thou hast the words of eternal life” Where else would I go? Nowhere. Not ever.

With this confirmation, I rolled myself out of the recliner and dressed for church. No tired exhausted body would keep me from filling my cup today.

And boy did it run over.

Every single lesson and talk and comment strengthened my testimony and imbued in me a desire to want to do better. To be better.

Sunday school’s lesson was on obedience.

I thought, how timely. Many of our confused brothers and sisters need to hear this so they can fortify their testimonies. The brethren have declared something that is difficult for many to understand, so this stood out to me as a great example.

The Book of Mormon tells us that Nephi and his older brothers received a very difficult assignment from the Lord (see 1 Nephi 3:1–6). Nephi’s brothers complained, saying that the Lord required a hard thing of them. But Nephi said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). When we find it difficult to obey a commandment of the Lord, we should remember Nephi’s words.

The scriptures tell us over and over again what we must do. That’s why we should never put them down. I resolved in this moment to increase my gospel study and reading of the scriptures. How important it is to fill our minds with the truth of these words. How much confusion could slip away if we just turned to the Lord instead of complaining or outright exclaiming our vehemence! Make our matters, matters of prayer.

But my thoughts were, how great that we have a way prepared. How amazing that we have a Father in Heaven who will not leave us alone!

I must include the blessings of obedience.

The Lord counsels us, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).

The Lord has described other blessings that will come to those who obey Him in righteousness and truth until the end:

“Thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

“Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

“And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.

“Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.

“And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven. …

“For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will—yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (D&C 76:5–10).

I’ll repeat what Peter said, “Thou hast the words of eternal life.”

Now I must comment on the Women’s Sunday School class. The topic was pride, from a famous talk by President Ezra Taft Benson.

We talked about ways to overcome pride. Humility is the antidote to pride. We can be humble by doing service, loving others as Christ loves them, and showing gratitude. They all go hand in hand. The Savior is our perfect example of these things.

Every night when I go to bed, I fall to my knees and thank my Father in Heaven for my many blessings. I do this because I love him. I do this because I recognize his hand in all things. I serve my family and others because I love them. My Savior is my foundation, my motivation. He is who I build my faith on.

If we hold to this, our testimonies will remain strong.

I praised God the whole way home. I am so thankful for my solid foundation. The words of a radio song helped me raise my voice in gratitude.

“At The Cross”

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
and my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down


Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

Truly I am in awe of my Savior. I owe all to Him.

So that’s why I go to church every Sunday. To feast upon the words of eternal life.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Regarding New Church Policies.

Okay, I can’t just say, “Follow the Prophet” and leave it at that.
I am downright appalled when I hear members of the church complain about new church policies. I’m sorry, if you stand and raise your arm to the square and sustain our prophet, you agree that he is the mouthpiece of God on earth.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord, just as Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures. We sustain the President of the Church as our prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel. They make known God’s will and true character. They speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. At times, they may be inspired to prophesy of future events for our benefit.

You can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

Your greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see D&C 1:14–16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church:

“Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:4–6).

“Raising our right arm to the square when we sustain people is a physical demonstration that we promise to honor, respect, and support them as they seek to magnify their callings. Following the counsel of our leaders is one way we can sustain them. Leaders have wisdom and perspective, and their instruction is meant to help us live the gospel. By being obedient to their counsel, we will increase in faith and strengthen our testimony.”

President Wilford Woodruff declared that we can have full confidence in the direction the prophet is leading the Church: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty” (Official Declaration 1, “Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto”; emphasis added).

President Harold B. Lee taught this same principle: “You keep your eye upon him whom the Lord called, and I say to you now, knowing that I stand in this position, you don’t need to worry about the President of the Church ever leading people astray, because the Lord would remove him out of his place before He would ever allow that to happen” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 533).

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave similar assurance to Church members: “The Church is true. Those who lead it have only one desire, and that is to do the will of the Lord. They seek his direction in all things. There is not a decision of significance affecting the Church and its people that is made without prayerful consideration, going to the fount of all wisdom for direction. Follow the leadership of the Church. God will not let his work be led astray” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 68–69; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 46; emphasis added).

We also do not know the mind of our Father in Heaven nor can we see with his eternal perspective.

“Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

“For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.” D&C 58:2-4

We also have this promise:

“As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” Preach My Gospel, 52.

God WILL make everything right in the next life. This life is meant to try us, to teach us. Remember who you are. You are a child of God. Those who have to wait to receive their blessings, will receive them. That’s why we have temples to do the work. That’s why we have a whole millennium when Christ comes again to set every jot and tittle in order.

As for me, I will not be moved by man, nor will I be shaken by those who oppose God. My testimony is sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blog Tour for "VOCAL CRUSH" by Lisa Swinton

Welcome to the Vocal Crush Blog Tour! Now for the fun!
Can you ever out run a broken heart?
Lexi Court spent seven years traveling the world, living the nomadic Broadway life, in an attempt to outrun the broken heart Nick Rivers gave her. Now, there’s nowhere left to go.
When she accepted a position as a high school drama teacher in Las Vegas, Lexi hoped to get over Nick, find a nice guy, and settle down. But what should be a quiet summer gets turned upside down when Lexi's best friend, Taffy, drafts her to be an emergency replacement coach on a televised vocal competition.
Feeling out of her league among the other three celebrity coaches, Lexi fights for the most promising contestants to be on her team. One note from a single voice shatters her summer. Nick unexpectedly auditions and joins Lexi's team. With her vocal crush on him raging as strong as ever, she has nowhere to run from Nick’s dreamy looks or siren voice.
Lexi has no doubt that Nick can win the competition. The question is does he want to win her heart as well or will he damage it beyond repair? 
GET IT ON AMAZON! Get her other books. Ring on Her Finger and Fallen Angel, are also discounted for a limited time. Grab those too! Ring on Her Finger on Amazon Fallen Angel on Amazon Find me on Goodreads Be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY!!! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Review an Author’s Book, the Correct and Non-Trolling Way

Image result for public domain book images

Authors love reviews. Please, once you read a book, by all means, write that review. Especially if Amazon is kind enough to prompt you. It takes 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

This helps indie authors. By leaving a review, it says, this book is worth the time to read. This author didn’t spent months or even years writing this for your pleasure, only to have you devour their creative masterpiece in a few short hours and leave it forever in the dust. Let them know you appreciated their hard work.

Authors also need reviews so they can promote their books on various websites. It’s a pain that, in order to get the word out, you have to have at least ten reviews on some sites. (Sometime thirty, sometimes fifty!) But if you can’t get the word out, you can’t get the reviews. See what I’m saying? It’s an endless circle of annoyance for a newly released book’s author. If you happen to stumble upon a new release, or even an old release, write that review. The author will love you for it.

Now, how to do it without stabbing the author in the back.

Amazon and Goodreads have a one to five star rating system. I’m not going to hash out what each of their stars mean. I’m going to hash out my system. A kind system. A non-trolling system. Nobody has the right to make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. Yet, this happens to authors all the time.

They get that one star review, and it’s mean.

Why? What vendetta did this reader have against the author? And if you took personal offense at something the author wrote, maybe you should stop reading—like altogether.

Okay, so back to my method. Anything you write should be constructive.

Five stars is easy to rate. You’ll know it when you read it. You might find yourself exclaiming, “I loved this book! It changed me. Oh baby, I can’t stop thinking about it. Oh, wow! I became the characters. I felt every twinge of emotion. I want to read all the author’s books. Give them all to me—now, now, now!”

Let that expression show. Review this everywhere. Proclaim it on Facebook. Write a blog post. Recommend the book to all your friends. Give them as Christmas gifts.

Four stars. “This was a good book. There are a few things I wished were done differently. Maybe the writing could have flowed better. But it was still awesome. The story was amazing. Great idea. Amazing concept, but it just didn’t make me scream. I didn’t quite connect with the characters. I might check out the rest of the author’s novels since the ending left me wanting more.”

So the book wasn’t perfect. It doesn’t have to be to find enjoyment in it. Very rarely will a book end the way we want it to, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t laugh or cry or want to throw the book across the room during a dramatic moment. Share the love regardless.

Three stars. “I can tell the author really tried with this book, but it just wasn’t for me. I got bored halfway through, but someone out there might like it because it was a well-written story. Or, the story had merit, but there were too many structural errors. If the author made a revision and took a few writing classes, this could be fantastic, because the story is there, it’s just lacking in execution.”

Three stars means, just because you didn’t stay up all night finishing it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Everyone has different tastes. (And reading levels. Someone might not notice those glaring errors that a seasoned author would. Gulp. Yes. Indie books come in all experience ranges. It’s a learn-as-you-go thing. The more you write, the more you learn. Duh. That’s how life is.) Recommend the novel to someone who would love it.

Now the touchy two and one star ratings. Be kind if you have to use these, because sometimes a book does call for it. But it’s rare. If you must rate this way, try holding off and sending the author a kind personal message, saying how they could fix their novel instead of rating it one star. Use encouraging words. Tell them what they did do well. We are in this world to help and uplift.

Two stars. This story made no sense. It was well written grammatically, but I had no idea what was going on. Or, this novel had too many errors that distracted from the story, making it impossible to enjoy. (Don’t go here unless you actually didn’t know what you read, and believe me, I’ve been there. I said that, once, after reading a novel.)

One Star. This novel is an abomination. It’s unreadable. It made no sense and clearly had no editing. It reads like a first draft. This author has no business writing. (Notice, I did not put these words in quotes. You may think this in your head, but you are not typing it out. Please, just don’t. Only rate this way if that is absolutely true, or better yet, don’t rate it. Send the author that personal message. OR, just because you didn’t enjoy an expertly crafted novel and took offense over it, doesn’t mean it’s crap. And rating it one star is just rude.)

There you have it. I’m sure I didn’t cover all the bases, but this is a good jumping off point. The more you rate, the more you tweak to your own style. I even found myself saying, that if I can’t get into a novel in the first few chapters, I’m putting the book down. And I don’t bother rating it. For the love of everything—don’t rate a book it you don’t finish it!

Any questions? Now go out there and review.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do Our Words Have Power?

Don't only practice your Art,
But force your way into its Secrets,
For it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.
Ludwig van Beethoven

Our words express what is deep in our souls. If our words don’t convey appropriate ideas and emotions, then we need to take a step back and evaluate our language.

I have a nasty habit. When my daughters push my buttons, and they do so frequently, a slew of swear words flies from my mouth. This ugly habit began a long time ago when I first struggled with postpartum depression and had uncontrollable rage. The rage has been subdued but the tongue is still unbridled.

As a writer, my words are my craft. They express who I am. I would never dream of writing vile, filthy words. So why would I speak them?

We know of the power of words. Words have raised nations. Words have freed the tormented and oppressed. Words can destroy souls. One tiny word spoken in malice can crumble a person and leave a mark forever.

Does what you write define who you are? When you are practicing your art and forcing your way into its secrets, does it raise you to the divine, or does it clamp shackles on your wrists and ankles and cut into your soul as much as your flesh?

When I started out as an author I promised my work would be clean. I should do the same for my spoken words as well.

As it happens, a great lesson at church spoke directly to me.

All my quotes are taken from a General Conference talk by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke these words in The Tongue of Angels:

The Prophet Joseph Smith deepened our understanding of the power of speech when he taught, “It is by words … [that] every being works when he works by faith. God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain. … All this was done by faith. … Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed.” Like all gifts “which cometh from above,” words are “sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit.”

It is with this realization of the power and sanctity of words that I wish to caution us, if caution is needed, regarding how we speak to each other and how we speak of ourselves.

Words are sacred and must be spoken with care! Great men and women know this. How we must realize this too! Elder Holland continues:

There is a line from the Apocrypha which puts the seriousness of this issue better than I can. It reads, “The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.” With that stinging image in mind, I was particularly impressed to read in the book of James that there was a way I could be “a perfect man.”

Said James: “For in many things we offend all. [But] if any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”

Continuing the imagery of the bridle, he writes: “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

“Behold also … ships, which though they be … great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm.”

Then James makes his point: “The tongue is [also] a little member. … [But] behold, how great a [forest (Greek)] a little fire [can burn].

If we bridle our tongues, we can control our whole body. And though that might be a small thing, it can have everlasting results.

A Book of Mormon prophet learned about the actual power of words. Helaman 10:3–10

And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.

Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.

 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.

 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.

You could consider the same true for Moses in the Old Testament. Did he not call down the ten plagues? With his words did he not part the red sea?

Oh, how sacred are the things which fall from our mouths!

Elder Holland continues:

What of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? . . . Words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined . . . There is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of  . . . [us] that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity . . . [burning] . . .”

We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. 

Paul put it candidly, but very hopefully. He said to all of us: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good … [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God. …

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. …

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

How do you value your words as a writer? I’ve committed from this point on to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous in my words. I’ve decided, because I feel my inspiration has come from God, that if I want to start my writing off on a positive and intuitive note for the day, I should start my mornings with a daily devotional to realign myself with my purpose and goals—start with spiritual and physical preparation so the words I write have power.

And hopefully, if I can excel in this habit, it will translate into my verbal language also.

How about you? What do you do to give your words power?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Premonitions are Real

I have to document what happened last night because the prior time I had a real, fear-inducing dream, it foreshadowed an inescapable, debilitating event in my life. So here is the account to the best of my memory.

I woke roughly around 1 a.m. I am not one hundred percent sure, because as the usual case, I drift out into the kitchen and get a drink and look at the clock. If it is earlier than 1 a.m. then I’m like, okay, I have plenty of time to fall back to sleep. I don’t need a sleep aid, just yet. But it is hard to remember things when you are blurry with waking. I was pretty confident though.

In this case, when I woke, a helicopter was flying over my house, shaking the entire structure. The commotion was so terrible, I fully expected to see a spotlight gleaming through my curtains or see flashlight beams creeping through my yard from sneaking snipers looking for a fugitive.

It was possible. We’ve had helicopters do this before, looking for people. I prayed that my house and my family would be safe from whatever the crazy heck was going on outside and rolled out of bed. I’m not sure at what point the ruckus from the helicopter stopped. (Maybe while I was praying?)

After drinking my water, I walked to the patio door as was the typical habit when I woke (’cause often hubby forgets to lock the doors or flick on the motion detector lights). All was well in this respect. As I turned, I distinctly thought I heard something rustle in the corner of the family room. I didn’t turn on the lights. I assumed it was my imagination or the computer doing its regular scan. So I passed by the front door to check its locks and lights, peaked into my sleeping daughters rooms, and slipped back under my covers.

All was well. But did I imagine the helicopter? Why didn’t my husband wake up? He’d be insane not to.

Now if the helicopter was a dream, then how do I know that for sure? And if it was, at what point did I wake up from visions of men in black suits, slinking through my yard, to the reality that the house was actually shaking, and transition to me walking into the kitchen? I couldn’t distinguish the line because I thought it was really going on. I didn’t think part of it could be a dream.

Even so, that little scenario didn’t faze me.

Here comes the terrifying fantasy. I think this next dream was spurred by the noise in my living room and the recent Elizabeth Smart story that came out. I’m not going to go into the specifics, but in a nutshell, my children were “kidnapped” but it was by someone we knew, who was trying to do something as a surprise, and they “borrowed” my children without asking. But in my dream, I went into their bedrooms and found their beds empty and their windows wide open. A panic gripped me, and I thought for sure they were really gone.

I woke, absolutely horrified. I checked their rooms to find them still asleep. When I was certain the house was secure, I crawled back into bed, now thinking I need to read Elizabeth’s Smart’s story and reprimand the person who took my children (in my dream) for being so stupid. But I also laid down with the sure feeling that I loved my daughter’s more than I could possibly comprehend, and this dream filled me with a knowledge that I would do anything to get them back, if such a horrible thing were to happen. (Think Taken) I also felt really bad for not paying enough attention to them lately. So I thought this dream was a reprimand. I vowed to give them more hugs every day and pay more attention to them. I asked Heavenly Father to forgive me, and I fell uneasily back to sleep.

Sometime around 3 a.m. (and I only know the time, because I checked afterward) I woke when someone in the hallway said, “Hello?” It was an unfamiliar voice and I jolted awake. I was so petrified that someone could be in my house. My husband next to me stirred, and I thought he would get up and investigate and grab his police baton shoved under the mattress on his bedside. He only rolled over and resumed sleep. I tried to say that I heard someone say hello and elbow him in the ribs, but my mouth couldn’t move. I couldn’t move, so I laid in bed as still as a rock and waited. If someone had broken in, they would eventually come into the room. But nothing happened. When my powers of mobility returned, I stumbled out of bed and grabbed a baby blanket, as if that would help, (maybe I could snap them like a wet towel. IDK. I was out of my mind.) But the blanket was a comfort as I clutched it to my chest. I checked the whole house over, now thoroughly terror-stricken. Everything was in order, the kids were asleep. A fleeting thought was that one of the kids had spoken in their sleep. But I know I distinctly heard the voice in the hallway. I also thought this could have been a case of sleep paralysis, which two of my friends both recently confessed to me that they have experienced.

I prayed for a long time until I felt peace and drifted into my final slumber before the morning rush of school lunch packing and whiny kid hair brushing.

This morning I am wondering, what was all this trying to show me? I don’t take these things lightly, not anymore.

I had a dream back on 2010 that was a premonition, showing me I was going to slip into my last and worst depression cycle. I didn’t know the meaning of the dream at the time, but after I recovered from my depression, I came upon it scrawled in a notebook, and knew it exactly for what it was. So needless to say, I write all these things down now.
So what could this one mean?

I shudder when I think of the movie Sandra Bullock stars in. Premonition. She was unable to change the course of her fate. Her husband still died. I was unable to keep my depression cycle from coming on. Why the warnings? So we can be more prepared? So these events don’t slam us in the face?

I'm not blind to the truth that the other side guides us and protects us and gives us warnings. I have had many impressions from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the impressions come as dreams. Sometimes they are warnings. They can also come to us in the whisper of a still small voice or a warm, comforting feeling. But they always come as truth.

I am still walking around the house in unease, hoping the meaning will manifest. I don’t have dreams like this without purpose. The best thing I can do is be vigilant and open my scriptures and pray. Especially pray for peace and understanding.

Scared yet. I keep hearing helicopters.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cut It All Down! Spring Garden Cleanup.

Dead stalks.

Leveling day in my garden. I pull out my edge trimmer and raze everything, except shrubs, to the ground.
Today's tools. Hedge trimmer, my friend.

I leave the dead stalks of my flowers up over the winter so the kids can see where the plants are and don't fall on the razor sharp spines in the snow. I mean, have you ever speared your ankle with the stubs of a mum? Ouch.

In twenty minutes I had the front garden beds sheared off. Quick and easy. Then I rake the brush off the plants and at the same time remove any remaining fall leaves. I was careful to not rake to hard and rip my tender plants right out of the water sodden ground.
                            Ta da!

Once every thing is removed, I rake up the piles and wheel them to my compost bins. Four wheelbarrow loads full. The clean up took an hour, so today's garden task was a little more labor intensive, but the wind was blowing so I was in my element.

Tulip coming up.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lenten Roses: Uncover their Beauty

Hello! It's spring out there! The birds are singing and the sun is shining. What snow remains are the piles the plow pushed up. The ground is soggy and the garden looks like a dead mess.

But wait.

I see green.

Blue bells are the first sign of spring at my Maryland home. But they are not the only ones. Hidden Lenten Roses are covered under ugly, gnarled leaves flopped over and buried under brown leaves. They are trying to make their presence known.

Every spring, I cut the old foliage back from my nine Lenten Roses. I don't want to miss the gradual unfurling of the leaves followed by their nodding pale green and mauve petals.

I gathered my trusty tools. My Foxgloves gardening gloves and my clippers (which I sharpen with every use by running a whetstone over them).

Twenty minutes later and my beauties can see the light of this lovely 65 degree day. All those dead leaves fill a wheel barrow. In two more weeks they should be in bloom.


New Foliage

Cleared Lenten Rose patch.

First in my series of spring gardening tasks. Watch me tactical my garden this spring, one day at a time, one section at a time. A few minutes a day is all it will take to make my garden amazing and save my ailing body from keeling over.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Coming to know my type: Energy profiling with Dressing Your Truth

I am an Aquarius. I hate water. I almost drowned as a child. For the longest time I refused to put my face under water without holding my nose, almost believing that if I didn’t hold my nose, I would immediately suck water in and drown. Washing my face in the shower was always a very quick thing.

Last summer I finally learned how to swim without holding my nose. I’m 35. But that still doesn’t change how I feel about water with its soft and flowing and subtle—fluid—qualities. Not words that I use to describe my personality, which is what a type 2, water element, individual should be. As I child I cried a lot. I was labeled by my parents as sensitive. My father was sensitive, and I thought I was exactly like him. Now, I’d say, maybe just a little like him, but not exactly. Growing up, I was just misunderstood because I didn’t know how to express myself.

So my whole life I have been living as an introvert. Shy, afraid to speak up, doubting my self-worth and most definitely my beauty. My mother had no fashion sense and could not school me on such matters. She cut my hair until I was old enough to cut it myself and bought all my clothes at the thrift store in sizes that never fit.

Fast forward to becoming a grownup. I think I look like a mutant. I mean seriously. My face is ridiculous. Laughable. So goofy looking. Not a dynamic beauty.

Over the years, I learned to embrace my sensitivity, but as more opportunities came to me, such as being called to teach for over two years as a woman’s teacher for my church, I realized I was something else. And to top it off, after being cured of my depression (yes, cured) I now realized I have anxiety. Why? I have too much restless energy. That would be the best way to describe it. RESTLESS. I even have restless leg syndrome, and when my body is extremely stressed or fatigued will actually manifest throughout my whole body.

So how did I learn that I am a type one—air?

I have a constant, ever changing, perpetual interest in gardening. When I am sweating out in the sun, and then pause, there would be a moment—a moment when the wind rustles and breaks the sweltering intensity of the heat on my skin, or the gentle rustle of the leaves would speak to me. Those are the times I feel true peace. Wind is my favorite thing to feel, to hear, to experience. God answers my prayers through the wind. He tells me that he created this world, that moment for me.

My element is air.

So when I first listened to the energy profiling course, I immediately thought, I’m air! I’m type one!

But it took a while. After listening to all of them, and this is a type one thing, I thought, I could be all of them! I most certainly see where I manifest my personality in all of them. Especially my sensitive two nature, and my critical four nature.

It took a while to see my type in my face. After reading through the descriptions in the book and watching the videos online, I thought, Carol is bonkers. Everything that she was pointing out looked the same across the different types. My head was spinning.

Finally, and it took a while, I could see that my goofy face is actually cute and youthful. Actually a type one. Twice in one week, I was told that I looked in my twenties! My nose turns up, and I have apple cheeks. A random, crooked nose. Nothing soft, subtle, bold, angular, elegant, exotic, or stunning. People have remarked that I am cute.

I can own that.

But I was waiting for the one moment, the ah-ha. The warm confirmation. And I got it.
While reading type one’s description in Discover Your Personal Type of Beauty I came across this paragraph about Carol’s daughter, Jenny.

Jenny once again committed to be herself—her Type 1 animated, fresh, light self. At the end of our walk, she had an impulse of an idea to run into the ocean with all her clothes on and just go for a swim right then and there. She told me before she took off, “I need to follow this impulse just to honor myself right now.”

A warm feeling flooded my body. The impulse to honor myself in the moment is exactly how I feel all the time. I have so many impulses that are being squashed, and I want my energy to be free. I’m finally coming to embrace who I am, even if that includes, dancing like a crazy fool in my kitchen. Do you ever have an urge to drive down the wrong way on a one way street? Oh my gosh, I always want to do that. One time I did, by accident. But it was the greatest rush!

My energy is upward and light, and moves outward. It is the expression of an extrovert. So many people tell me I am an extrovert because of my bubbling energy. (But that’s once you get to know me.) One friend of mine once told me I was random! And I always loved that. I am random. Apparently I have too many thoughts going on in my head at once, and things pop out and don’t always make sense. And I have a hard time completing a thought because once I’ve already thought it, it’s gone. If I don’t write it down, I forget it! I stumble over my words when I speak because I am too impatient to get to the end of a sentence. That has been a challenge for writing, and often makes my words look dyslexic.

So I can stand up and no longer be a closet extrovert.

I am an extrovert!

But I also realized something else. I am an introvert too. Ooo, double-edged. And I knew I always was an introvert because I need to be alone to recharge my energy. This leads me to my secondary. Type 4.

Type fours are constant and still—the lowest energy movement. The element is earth. Type four energy is an introvert expression. I actually felt relief as I read through type four’s description. It picked up where my personality didn’t hit with all my type oneness. I was glad I didn’t have to hide the fact that I needed time to recharge my batteries. The big thing for me was their tendency toward perfection. Yeesh. That’s me to a T. And I am very CRITICAL! Oh and I love things simple. I would live the life style of a minimalist if I could. Bare rooms, with mattress on the floor. That is my secret dream—to live alone with nothing to smother and encumber me. I need freedom!

And air. I see how they fit. Two polar opposites. Hmmm, I wonder if this is where bipolar disorders come from. JK.

The next step: add some air to my life.

I look forward to a new me.