Goodbye 2014 & My Word of the Year for 2015

A Few Highlights (and lowlights) of 2014:

  • A trip to Maui with my husband.
  • A trip to San Francisco with my family. Sadly, this is both a highlight and a lowlight because of a big mistake I made. My husband had business in San Francisco and I wanted to do some research for The Husband Maker series, so the family took off by car. My oldest son couldn't miss a couple of days of classes, so we booked him a ticket on Priceline. It was cheaper for him to get a flight to Portland via San Francisco and then just not finish the trip, so that's what I booked. He rode the train from school to the airport and entered his ticket information in the kiosk. It wouldn't accept it so he got in line and told the agent that his ticket wasn't working. The very rude agent informed him (very rudely) that his ticket was for the following week. Priceline wouldn't work with us, so Bruce didn't get to join us. We still had fun, and Travis managed to arrange some work in Portland the next week and took part of the family to meet Bruce, who was now flying to Oregon for no other reason than to keep from totally wasting my mistakenly purchased ticket. They had a good time, but I cried bitter tears that he didn't get to join us in San Francisco and had to spend the weekend at home alone.
  • I published Lost and Found (part of the Ripple Effect Romance Series), Maggie's Song (found in the Timeless Romance Anthology - Love Letters), The Husband Maker and The Match Maker.
  • Bruce spent three months studying in China and traveling around Asia. It was fun for me, too, as he Facetimed with me from just about everywhere he went.
  • I was graced with kidney stones several times but none were large enough to need surgery!
  • Veronica came home from her successful and wonderful mission.
  • I attended two writer's conferences.
  • We had everyone home for Christmas for the first time since 2010.
  • Savannah got her driver's license and relieved me of some of the running around.
  • Joe made both the Lone Peak and CMBA basketball teams.
  • Savannah had a sledding accident and suffered a concussion and memory loss. It was really troubling and scary.
  • Bruce took his heaviest load at school yet and spent the entire semester sick.
  • Travis and I were the chairmen of our ward Christmas party.
  • We started eating differently which meant I did A LOT of cooking from scratch.
  • Veronica started working at Great Harvest again.
  • Joe passed all the girls in the family in height.


For the past few years, I've chosen a word to focus on during the year. This year, my word is inspired by the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I just finished reading it this month and it was excellent. I highly recommend it. My word this year is:

ELIMINATE

I want to eliminate nonessential things so I can give essential things the time and energy they deserve. A few of the things I want to eliminate are wasted time, clutter, unnecessary spending, and judging and unkindness.

To quote the book, I hope to "do less, but better."

Happy 2015!

Yes Friends! It's Time for a Giveaway!

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Review of Christopher Columbus: A Man Among the Gentiles by Clark B. Hinckley


It was my intention to have this read so I could review it on Columbus Day. As is the case with many intentions, I didn't get it done. Life got crazy and rather than just do a spotlight about the book, I decided to wait for my review until I'd had a chance to finish it. So here we are, more than a month late. Sorry.

I loved this book. This time in history is fascinating and there was so much to learn and discover. I enjoyed reading the ways that Columbus fulfilled prophesy and desired to serve God instead of all the negativity that has surrounded him in recent years. Some schools refused to celebrate Columbus for his accomplishments, instead calling him a murderer and crazy. Instead of celebrating Columbus's accomplishments, they decided to celebrate Indigenous People Day. While I have no problem with celebrating a day that honors Native Americans (Ronald Reagan declared such a day in California in 1968) I think it's wrong to refuse to celebrate Columbus Day because Columbus wasn't perfect. If we were going by that criteria, the only holidays we'd celebrate would be a very different version of Christmas and Easter. Gone would be Martin Luther King Day, President's Day or Veteran's Day. None of these people we celebrate are perfect.

As a society, it seems we're so willing to paint everyone with broad strokes--if there's any failing (or if it's a failing we particularly dislike), a person is bad and all their good is discounted. If we like where they stand on an issue or their personality, we ignore or excuse any failings they might have. This way of looking at things is wrong and causes us problems. Looking at people this way hurts us. On the one hand, it causes us to become too harsh in our judgments of people, refusing to see the good in them or acknowledge their accomplishments. On the other hand, giving someone a pass or whitewashing someone's sins because we like them, instead of seeing things clearly, causes us to lose our discernment, something desperately needed and in short supply in the world today.

Columbus was a man. Certainly not perfect, but with a strong feeling that he was to do something important in the service of God. What he did was important to the history of the world and the restoration of the gospel. It's important that we try to see his life and his contributions clearly and in the context of the time he lived instead of jumping on the popular bandwagon of demonizing him and judging him by our current politically correct climate.

Review: How Do I Know if I Know by John Bytheway


I cannot say enough about this book. Seriously I can't.

I read this book with my two teenagers. It was a really good experience as we were able to read and talk about testimony and how we know if we have one and how to recognize the parts of a testimony. There are so many easy-to-understand analogies that help make testimony an understandable thing instead of something abstract that we hear about but often can't define except in more abstracts.

I was also able to share a couple of things with my missionary daughter that are helpful to investigators who aren't sure where they're at on their road to conversion.

There is some humor and sarcasm, although it's a little cheesy, but that isn't what makes this book so readable. I love that it took abstract ideas and gave them concrete ways to understand them. A couple of my favorites involved the lights of a Christmas tree and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. When you read the book, you'll see what I mean. LOVED those two analogies and they're so pertinent today.

This is a book I think every family with teenagers should read together. It opens up conversation about testimony and it's a great launching pad for more gospel study as each chapter ends with suggested reading that includes conference talks and excerpts from other books. I also think this would be a great book for anyone who is having doubts or questions about their faith and who wonder if they still have a testimony.

I really loved this book and recommend it as enthusiastically as possible.

Review: Crucible of Doubt by Terryl and Fiona Givens

I must admit I'm really struggling with this review and even debated not doing a review at all, but I think it deals with an important subject and the book was full of good information, so I'm going to share it with you and hope I don't turn anyone away from the book that could use it.

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I've had personal experiences that anchor me in the gospel and and make me a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I've experienced the joy that comes from sharing the good news of the gospel with others, both on my mission and in my regular life. I'm always so excited when I see someone have their life blessed and improved by gaining faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've also experienced the sadness and frustration that comes with people I care about leaving the church because their questions aren't answered in a way that satisfies them.

This book was written for those people who have questions that test their faith and for that, I applaud the authors. I found the way they addressed some of those questions fascinating. BUT maybe I'm just not as bright as I like to think I am, and maybe this book is written for people far more intellectual than I am, because I felt like it was hard to read. I found myself having to re-read things just to understand what the authors were saying. My fear is that it might be too difficult for many people to get through. On the other hand, it might be perfect for intellectual, deep thinkers, who pore over what they read in a different way than me. So maybe it's exactly what some questioners need. I just struggled.

I do feel there's a place for a book like this, I just wish it would have felt more accessible to little old me. In spite of that, I'd absolutely recommend it to my super-smart friends and family who struggle with faith. You know who you are.

Review: Focused by Noelle Pikus-Pace

I'm a huge fan of the Olympics. If you want to know where I am during the two+ weeks of both the summer and the winter games, you'll most likely find me in front of the television watching whatever I can. During the winter games, you'll find me rabidly caring about biathlon, cross-country skiing, figure skating, ski jumping, snowboarding, curling, and yes, skeleton.

I was thrilled this last winter to discover that one of our leading skeleton athletes was a bright, happy woman who's practically my neighbor. I'd have been cheering for her no matter what, but that fact made me even more excited. And then I saw her YW medallion and I was even more excited.

Noelle Pikus Pace didn't let us down in any regard. I cried as she climbed into the stands to celebrate her accomplishment with her family.

This book reads part memoir, part inspirational speaker, and all heart. I loved it. Really, really loved it. Each chapter was made up of lessons she learned and it read like an exciting novel. I have to admit, I cried again as I read and experienced vicariously her disappointments, her insecurities, her courage, and her successes.

This is great reading for anyone, but if you've got a daughter, especially a teenage daughter, I'd absolutely recommend this book.

What a blessing it is to have good, solid, strong, courageous, REAL women to look up to.

What Does This Mean?

Tonight I went to my friend's blog and found THIS POST.

In Missy's post she tells about her dissatisfaction with where the lived and how a turtle crossing the road made her happy and triggered renewed feelings of satisfaction with where she lived.

So here's my comparison for you.

Because of how vertical our house is (three floors with high ceilings makes for a lot of stairs), we spent most of the last year contemplating a move to something that would be a little easier on my knees. We found a few things we liked a lot, but even though we tried hard to get them, they slipped through our fingers.

I like where we live--beautiful views, mountains out my back door, nice neighbors and a location right between my two college students' universities--but because I was excited about a couple of the places we found and the prospect of less stairs, I was ready to move.

So when nothing worked out, I realized I had to adjust my thinking and learn to be satisfied with where we are, in spite of all the stairs. I had to give myself a pep talk to be okay with all the stairs I'll have to climb over the next few years. (We'd decided if nothing worked out this summer, we'd stay put for awhile because of the timing with kids and school.)

Well, Friday morning, as I left with Bruce and Mehmet to go visit my family, I saw something in the road.

"Did you guys see that?" I asked. Neither of them had seen it, so I turned the car around and we drove back to see this.
It's hard to see in this picture, but it was huge. Seriously big. Big enough that I saw it as I drove.

I'm not a fan of spiders of any kind, but one that's as big as my hand? Huh uh. No thank you.

Bruce and Mehmet got out and took a couple of pictures and then got back in the car. I was sort of afraid it might get squashed. I don't think I wanted that to happen since it was minding it's own business, but on the other hand... well... it's a big, freaking spider within easy walking distance of my house, so... I'm conflicted.

The spider was spared because a woman that might be part spider saint part crazy lunatic stopped in the middle of the road, hopped out and with just a thin napkin between her fingers and the tarantula, lifted it to safety. Good news for the spider.

But if a turtle made Missy happy to stay where she lives, how is a big, hairy, sickening spider supposed to make me feel?

Character Blog Hop


Thanks to my good friend, Rachael Anderson, who tagged me in this character blog hop!

For the character blog hop, readers get to jump around to discover characters we have recently written about or are currently writing about. You can find Annette's character post HERE

First, a little about Rachael:

Rachael Anderson is the author of five novels and two novellas. She's the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can't sing, doesn't dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

Some other random things about me...

I have serious decision-making issues. I hate making them. Be it where to go for dinner or what movie to rent (unless there is a new romantic comedy available), my typical response is, "I don't care." The worst part is that I married someone with the same problem. Sometimes we drive around for an hour before one of us finally decides.

I love peanut butter. I couldn't live without it. One of my favorite treats is a spoon full of peanut butter dipped in milk chocolate chips. Yum!

I really don't like to empty the dishwasher. It has to be one of my least favorite jobs. But I don't mind loading it. Why is that?  

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite movies (second only to Pride and Prejudice). I still have daydreams of living on Prince Edward Island. I hope that is what heaven is like. What a perfectly gorgeous place to live.

I bite my fingernails. It's a disgustingly bad habit, but one I have failed to break over the years. Maybe someday.

I wither when the temperature rises above 90 degrees.

I am an obsessive reader. Mainly novels. My favorite are romantic comedies, followed by suspense, then fantasy.

I love to drive fast. My speeding ticket history proves that.

Embarrassingly enough, there was one year of my life that I received 4 W-2's. I had a hard time finding a job that didn't bore me to death after the first month. Thankfully, I've taken to motherhood. Although, there are some days . . . :)

I absolutely HATE shaving my legs.

I am incredibly afraid of bees. You'd think I'd be allergic, but I'm not. I act like a complete fool anytime one flies near me. It's embarrassing.

I love British and Australian accents. Who doesn't?

New Zealand is at the top of my travel wish list. It used to be Australia, but thanks to my sweet hubby, I've been able to go there.

Whenever I have to speak in front of a crowd, whatever is left of my brain freezes and I turn into a blooming idiot. Seriously. I was asked to say the prayer in church a few months ago, and I said, "We're grateful to be here this Saturday," instead of Sunday. I told my husband, who was saying the closing prayer, that he needed to say Friday so I wouldn't feel so dumb. He didn't. Where's the love?

I do NOT have the patience of Job.

My dream mom vehicle is a Toyota Sequoia. But I think I will always drive a mini-van. I'm far too practical and would rather spend the extra money on a fun vacation. Maybe to New Zealand.

I have an intense fear of heights, yet I love extreme roller coasters. Explain that one.

I LOVE playing games. Ticket to Ride and Yahtzee Free for All are my current favorites.

One of the lights on our entryway chandelier has this large paint blotch on it, compliments of me. I have yet to figure out a way to get it off. I'm praying the light bulbs never burn out because then we'll have a very dark foyer.

I love watching my children while they sleep. Like perfect little angels. I'd be like that mother in the book I'll Love You Forever, and pick them up to snuggle if I wasn't

Website
Twitter
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Amazon


Now to share my character with you:

What is the name of your character? 
I chose Charlotte. She's the main character in The Husband Maker, The Match Maker, and The Wife Maker.


When and where is the story set?
The series takes place in the San Francisco bay area with a little jaunt to Scotland.

What should we know about your character?
Charlotte is smart, cute, and talented, but she just can't seem to hang on to a guy. Everyone she dates goes on to marry the next girl they date, which has caused some to give her an unkind nickname--the husband maker. 

What is the main conflict?
Each book has it's own conflict as Charlotte struggles with bad dates, heartbreaks, and career challenges.

What is your character's personal goal?
Charlotte hopes to find her own true love, the one who chooses her instead of the next girl.

Is there a working title, and where can we find out more about it?
The Husband Maker has been released. The Match Maker is available for pre-order. The Wife Maker is coming out in February 2015.

When can we expect the book to be published?
The entire boxed set will be available in February, 2015. If you can't wait, start with The Husband Maker.


***

And now I'm tagging Shannon Guymon.

Shannon is the author of over 20 books. WOW! That in and of itself is super impressive. She's a super-nice lady with a whole house full of cute kids that she loves to spend time with.

Find out more about Shannon and her books HERE.

The Match Maker is Coming!

The wait is almost over!


  • Do you want to find out about Kyle's engagement?
  • Do you want to see what happens when Charlotte tries her hand at match making?
  • Do you want to see if sparks fly with the handsome Scot?
  • Do you want to see if Charlotte can find love?

The Match Maker is coming on November 1!

Pre-order your copy here today!

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Karey,

It's been awhile. I turned fifty this year. Can you believe that? I'm sure you think you'll never get here, but I assure you, it will come before you know it and when you arrive, you'll be stunned because you'll still feel young. The biggest reminder that you're no longer young will be your creaking joints and your adult and nearly adult children. I guess that's not entirely true. The older you get, the more you learn and there are a few things I'd like to tell you so you can avoid some of the pitfalls I've fallen into.

You need to relax about your future. You worry about more than you need to. You don't need to wonder if you'll ever find a good guy. You will. It will take you a little longer than you thought, so don't stress. Enjoy meeting people and maybe take a couple of good vacations while you wait to meet him. You're going to like him a lot. You don't need to worry when you don't get pregnant immediately. You'll get to have four amazing kids, so don't panic.

Don't help your kids practice their musical instruments. It's stressful and sometimes you're too much of a control freak. Encourage them, but don't get annoyed or frustrated when they act like kids. You have good kids so worry about them a little less and enjoy them a little more. I promise you're going to be thrilled when you see how they're turning out and you're going to like them a lot. Sometimes they're going to blow your mind with how smart, funny, talented and clever they are.

Remember when your parents said the most important friends you'll ever have will be your family? How friends come and go but family is eternal? They're right. You'll find as you get older that your parents and your siblings are some of the funniest, most amazing people you'll ever meet, so love them, love their spouses, and love your nieces and nephews.

Do more walking and yoga and less stair-stepping and step aerobics. Your joints are going to turn crackly and painful, so be kinder to them when you're younger and maybe they'll bother you less when you get older.

The American Medical Association says to start getting colonoscopies when you're fifty. That won't work for you. You'll be dead if you wait that long. Schedule one when you're forty-three and not a day later. Seriously!

Speaking of your body, eat healthy but don't do Atkins, Body for Life, Weight Watchers or any other "program." Your doctor will explain to you later that your body doesn't react like most and that as long as you have healthy habits, you don't need to worry about the scale. (You probably won't do it, but I think you'd be a happier person if you just threw the scale away.) When you're tempted to do Weight Watchers, let me just warn you that a woman who doesn't smile will tell you that you're not being honest in your food record and that you must be taking in more calories than you're reporting. She's not very nice and she'll make you feel horrible even though you know she's wrong. Just ignore her.

If you do something wrong, apologize for it and then move on. There will be a couple of times when you'll try to make amends with someone who picked a fight with you and then refused to forgive you, even when you apologize and make cookies. Move on. Don't stew over it. Sometimes people just aren't nice. Sometimes they're miserable and they want you to feel bad. Fill your life with people who forgive and don't hold grudges. There are a lot of really nice, positive people out there. There won't even be time to build friendships with all the nice ones, so don't worry about pleasing the negative ones.

Watch less news. It's good to know what's going on, but don't get caught up in the sensational, constant barrage of bad stuff. Right now you like to have the radio or tv on as background noise. I've learned that quiet is much better than background noise, so turn it off most of the time.

Don't cut the toenails on your big toes. File them instead. It will save you about a thousand painful, ingrown toenails.

Accept your curly hair and don't waste so much of your life trying to straighten it. You'll be a lot happier when you stop fighting it.

Don't try Sees candies. Ever. If someone offers to share theirs with you, say no. If someone brings you a box as a gift, re-gift it. If you never taste them, you won't know what you're missing and you'll be able to drive on I-15 without hearing marzipan, California brittle, and butterscotch squares calling your name. They're like a drug. Just say no.

When your husband comes home and he's spent good money on rims for the car (or a new stereo, or having a sunroof installed in a pickup), just smile. It's a guy thing and he'll outgrow it and it's not worth all night fights. I promise.

Don't worry that your mother-in-law doesn't like you. It's okay. She's probably just sad to be losing her son to you. She gets over it and eventually you win her over.

Go ahead and sign a contract with a publisher for Gifted. It will be good experience and you'll learn a lot about the publishing business. But don't give them For What It's Worth. You'll regret that a lot.

And finally, I want to thank you. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for developing faith when you were young and for putting yourself in places where you could have spiritual experiences that would stay with you for decades. Thank you for serving a mission and for learning how to pray. You've made it a lot easier for me to get through the hard times.

I know you probably don't give the fifty-year-old you much thought, but thanks for helping me get where I am today. I'm super blessed.

Have a great life.

Karey

Movie Review - Saints and Soldiers - The Void


Last month I received an invitation to go to the world premier of Saints and Soldiers - The Void. I was told I could bring a guest. I ignored the invitation because I was worried I might not like it. I thought the first Saints and Soldiers was really well done. It was touching and gritty and emotional. So when the second one came out (Saints and Soldiers - Airborne Creed), I bought the DVD and we watched it as a family. We really didn't like it much. The whole romance angle felt contrived and I never felt emotionally connected to the movie. That's why at first I ignored the invitation.

Then I told my family about it and my teenage son wanted to go and everyone thought I was crazy to not take the chance to go to a world premier for free. So I RSVPed and Joe and I attended the premier.

I've never been to a premier before. The director said a few words and then the movie started. When the character Sgt. Jesse Owens came on the screen, Joe leaned over and whispered, "I think that's him sitting right there." Sure enough, K. Danor Gerald was sitting just a few seats away from us on our row.

And much to my relief, I really liked the movie. A lot. The characters were interesting and there was emotion and great conflict and a satisfying resolution. I was so glad it was so well done so I could encourage all of you to to go to it and I'd know I wouldn't be encouraging you to waste your time or money.

After the movie, the actors, the director, and the producer took questions. I enjoyed that part a lot. The movie is quite serious and it was fun to see the actors joking and teasing each other and it was interesting to learn some of the logistics of filming the movie. I found out it was filmed in the foothills just a couple of miles from where I live. Crazy.

Joe and I both liked the movie a lot and I feel confident that most moviegoers will enjoy it. When a new movie comes out, the first weekend is crucial. Fair or not, that first weekend determines how long the movie will be in theaters. So if you're going to go, I'd encourage you to go this weekend to help it get off to a good start.



Two Book Reviews (I loved them both!)

I signed up for the blog tour for The Peter Potential, but there was some complication and it didn't come in time for the blog tour. But I have it now and have had a chance to read it and I have to say, it really, REALLY touched me.
The Peter Potential by David Butler and Emily Belle Freeman is a smaller, gift-sized book. It took me about half an hour to read it because I read it slowly. On purpose. It felt loaded and I didn't want to miss anything.

I have long loved Peter, the apostle. I relate to him. I often feel his insecurities and I often feel filled with great faith. But then I mess up and feel like a failure.

This book is so beautiful, so full of faith, so hopeful and so affirming that it brought tears to my eyes. I loved it. I loved the way it described Peter and his potential and how that relates to me and my potential. This is a wonderful book to give a as a gift or to keep for yourself. Or both. I know I'll be reading it again and again.

The other book I read is a children's book, mostly aimed at girls, but with valuable lessons for all of us, no matter our gender or age. It's called Girls Who Choose God: Stories of Courageous Women from the Bible by McArthur Krishna and Bethany Brady Spalding, with illustrations by Kathleen Peterson.

I loved the format of this book. It began a story of a woman from the Bible, then explained her choice. Then it finished the story, telling us what she chose. Finally, it posed a question to the reader to prompt us to think about what we would choose to do in similar situations.

I'll admit that when I first saw the book, I wasn't completely sold on the illustrations. Don't get me wrong. It isn't that I think I can do better because I certainly can't. I just didn't love the style of the artwork. But as I read the stories and looked at the pictures in the context of the stories, it really grew on me.

This is a wonderful book and I look forward to sharing it with my children and eventually, my grandchildren.