Say Thank You

"Oh Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness." ~William Shakespeare

Recently I've been annoyed. I've let something really get under my skin. Not too long ago, I was asked to do a favor for someone. It wasn't a small thing. It was a sacrifice and an inconvenience to do it, but I thought it would be a good thing to help out. I performed the service and did a good job. I felt glad that I could help out.

That gladness has gradually changed to irritation. I've seen the person I helped on several occasions now, and not once have I received a thank you. Not even a mention of what I did. Not one word.

Nothing! Nada! Zip!

Now I realize that I shouldn't have to have a thank you to make what I did feel worthwhile. But I wanted one. Just a little one would have been enough. Just a teeny, tiny mention of my good deed would have sufficed.

So Thursday I was driving home from taking the kids to school and I was thinking about how ungrateful this person was. I've heard it said that lack of gratitude is a sign of arrogance, of pride. How proud must they be to think that they shouldn't offer even a token little acknowledgement for what I'd done for them.

Then a thought crossed my mind. How many blessings do I have that I don't express gratitude for? How many times have I disappointed (even annoyed) Heavenly Father by not telling Him how thankful I am for all I have and all He's done for me? Way too many times, I'm sure.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still bugged. But it was humbling to remember that I need to do better at showing my gratitude. Tomorrow is the first day of November, the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. Next to Christmas, it's my favorite holiday. I love spending time with loved ones and contemplating the many things I have to be grateful for.

In honor of this month, and because I want to cast the beam out of my own eye, I want to share a few things I'm thankful for. These aren't necessarily in order. They're just a few things I feel profoundly grateful for right now.

I'm thankful for family--immediate and extended. Amazing parents, a hard-working husband, wonderful children, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews and more. I'm incredibly blessed with amazing family.

I'm thankful for comforts--a home, a comfortable bed, and good food and heat.

I'm thankful for all those who've helped me on my book, past and present--family who read the first very-rough draft, those who've encouraged me and suggested a publisher I might want to try, those who are helping me revise and improve it and the designer who created the beautiful cover. This is not mine alone.

My Heavenly Father and my Savior--I'm thankful for their hand in my life, the blessings they've given me, the challenges they've helped me endure and the beautiful plan they've provided to give direction to my life.

What are you grateful for?

GIFTED Has a Cover

Gifted has a cover. And I think it's beautiful. Thank you Cedar Fort and Bonneville Books for this beautiful cover that will be the first impression many people have of my book.

What do you think?

Most Romantic Movies and Scenes

Over the weekend, we watched the movie Say Anything. I hadn't seen it for many years and was a little worried it would be like some other 80's movies I used to love that now disappoint me. I wasn't disappointed. It is still sweet and romantic and full of good lines. And my girls loved John Cusack as much as I did.

You'll soon discover from my list that I'm not talking about kissing or more than that. I'm talking romance. There's a difference. The most romantic scenes I can think of involve emotions. They make you smile, catch your breath, and maybe even swoon. So here are my favorites.

7. A Walk to Remember - The whole movie is pretty romantic, but Landon's face when Jamie is singing "Only Hope" is great. You can actually see him falling in love with her. (This one is for my girls.)

6. Fiddler on the Roof -- I love the scene where Motel has just learned that Tseitel is to be his wife after he'd thought it was impossible. He sings "Miracle of Miracles" while they run and frolick through the woods. You can feel their joy.

5. Flipped - This is the most recent movie I've included in my list. The whole movie is sweet and charming and romantic, but the scene where they plant the tree together is a perfect depiction of young love.

4. The Last of the Mohicans - One of the most romantic scenes doesn't involve Hawkeye (Lewis) and Cora (Stowe). Uncas is killed by Magua and and thrown over the cliff. Alice, who loved Uncas, steps over the edge to join him. It was beautiful.

There are almost too many scenes involving Hawkeye and Cora to list, but a few of my favorites are when he stares at her in the kitchen, when he's looking for her in the fort and then simply takes her hand and leads her away and when he sends her away, promising to find her. This is such a good movie.

3. Say Anything -- Diane Court is nice and likeable in this movie, but Lloyd Dobler charms his way into your heart.

Diane's father asks Lloyd what his plans are (referring to his life and career) and Lloyd answers, "To spend as much time with your daughter as possible."

When Diane breaks his heart, he calls his sister and says, "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen."

Of course, no Say Anything list would be complete without mentioning the scene where Lloyd stands outside her window and plays "In Your Eyes" on his boombox. How she resisted that, I'll never know.

At the end of the movie, speaking of their relationship, Diane says, "Nobody really thinks this will work, do they?" Lloyd says, "No, but you just described every great success story."

2. The Sound of Music -- When I was younger, I thought Liesl and Rolf were so romantic. Now I recognize the real romance in The Sound of Music. When Captain Von Trapp cuts in on Kurt to demonstrate the Laendler (folk dance), you can see on their faces when they realize their feelings. No wonder the Baroness freaked out a little.

1. Pride and Prejudice -- I ranked this number one because it has romance all the way through it.

The dance, where the rest of the world disappears and they're all alone.

When she rejects his proposal. I don't think there's ever been a more romantic rejection.

When she accidentally sees him at Pemberley and he follows her out to the terrace, where they're both a bit tongue-tied.

And of course, when he walks across the meadow and tells her he loves her. The 40+ seconds of meadow leaves you breathless and then he speaks and it only gets better. "You must know... surely, you must know it was all for you. You are too generous to trifle with me. I believe you spoke with my aunt last night, and it has taught me to hope as I'd scarcely allowed myself before. If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you and never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

So there you have it. My favorite romantic scenes from the movies. What is yours?

Not Just for Youth

Almost five years ago, I was called to be the Young Women's president in our ward. It was a daunting calling and I felt completely overwhelmed. I'd never served in Young Women's before and the busy schedule, the number of work and meetings, as well as the responsibility of teaching these girls what they needed to know scared me to death.

The Bishop gave me a special blessing to help me fulfill my calling and in that blessing, he advised me to take advantage of my resources, including the For the Strength of Youth booklet. I'd seen one of those when Bruce brought it home from church, but I'd never read it. It became one of my most valued tools.

The booklet is filled with commandments and counsel that, if followed, will help our kids make wise choices. We used it regularly in Young Women's activities--studying and discussing it together. We've used it at home, doing a series of family night lessons, using the booklet as our manual. It has been a valuable tool in teaching appropriate behavior in many areas of life.

The great thing about this book is that even though it's directed to our youth, it's great for all ages. I've benefited from the counsel in it and so have my pre-teen kids.

I'd encourage everyone to pick up a copy for everyone in your family. (They're free.) Use it for teaching gospel standards to your kids. Use it to remind yourself of appropriate standards. Become familiar with it. It's inspired and if we'll let it, it can be a huge blessing in our lives.

Feel free to share any tools you've found useful in teaching our kids! There's always room for improvement.

What About Karma?

After a week at home for fall break, Bruce left for school again on Sunday morning. He forgot his dorm key, so in the late afternoon, Savannah and I drove to Salt Lake to meet him and give him his key. Just as we got back on the freeway, he called my cell phone. He had a flat tire. We got off at the next exit and returned to help him change his tire.

This made it so we were a half an hour later driving home and happened to put us getting off our exit right behind an old, green Chevrolet pickup. Immediately I could tell there was a problem. We were driving down a six-mile stretch of two-lane highway that is torn apart with construction and heavily-traveled. It's a mess and now, right in front of us, was a man swerving out of control. He hit a big construction pylon, causing it to spin into the road. Then he hit another one, throwing it twenty feet into the air before it landed just off the road.

Then my heart stopped. He headed directly into on-coming traffic and almost hit a mini-van before he swerved back into our lane. I called 9-1-1 and spent the next ten minutes on the phone with the dispatcher, updating her of our location and his movements. I was scared. I vividly remembered being hit head-on by a drunk driver several years ago in Colorado, an accident that changed our lives. As the driver in front of me swerved and veered into oncoming traffic time and again, my daughter and I feared we were going to see someone killed before the man was pulled over.

Eventually he was pulled over, admitted to being wasted, and was arrested. An officer met with me and I filed a police report. It was scary, stressful and I still have a tension headache I haven't been able to shake. But we did our civic duty, right? Of course right.

So why have we been punished since then? Monday night, my headache raging, Travis took the kids for ice cream for our family night treat. On the way home, he got a speeding ticket. The ridiculous thing about that is that Travis doesn't speed. He hasn't had a speeding ticket since he sold his prized muscle car to make a down payment on a house sixteen years ago. I'm the one that drives too fast. I'm the one with a new speeding ticket every couple of years. But Travis was cited for driving five miles over the speed limit. FIVE MILES! Couldn't they have given him a warning?

Then Tuesday morning, as I drove the kids to school, my heart sank. There was Travis, pulled over. I later found out he'd rolled through a stop sign--and they gave him another ticket. TWO TICKETS IN LESS THAN TWELVE HOURS? Right after I'd done my stressful civic duty.

Now I know there are no rules about karma--about when it comes and if families can share it's good vibes. But really? Would it have been so hard for karma to give us a break?

Please just let the same traffic school work for both tickets!

I Confess!

(Ford's store, where I bought my stash of goodies.)

My sister, Lisa, recently sent me to a blog posting here because a couple of the confessions reminded her of me. I enjoyed the posting and was prompted to clear my conscience of a few of my own past misdeeds. So here goes:

1. I confess to cheating in 9th grade English. I sat next to the cutest blonde boy in the school and I had a terrible crush on him. When we were supposed to be diagramming sentences, he leaned over and whispered, "Can I see yours?" I slid my paper over to the edge of my desk and he copied my diagrams. The smile he gave me when he got a perfect score completely made up for the damnation to my soul. Unfortunately, he didn't fall in love with me because of my diagramming abilities, as I'd hoped he would. I've left out the handsome blonde's name to spare him the humiliation of the world knowing he can't diagram sentences.

2. I confess to getting completely addicted to General Hospital the summer I babysat the Nielsen kids. I had to put the kids to bed for a nap at 12:30, so that gave me time to run up the hill behind their house and adjust the giant television antenna that sat on top of the hill (it was a decent-sized hill, too) and get back in time to watch the Luke and Laura hour in peace before the kids got back up.

3. I confess to throwing away an awful shirt with pandas and buddhas on it that my husband really liked. He actually bought it for an ugly-shirt party and it was appropriate for that purpose, but every so often he'd drag it out and wear it around the house because it was "so comfortable" (or just to annoy me). I not only got rid of it against his wishes, I pretended to look for it when he couldn't find it to help convince him I wasn't responsible for its disappearance.

4. I confess to taking credit for a gift I didn't give. My friend, Lisa, thanked me for the flowers she'd received for her birthday. I didn't give them to her, but I was confused about what she was talking about and not very quick on my feet, so I just said, "You're welcome." What 12-year-old girl gives her friend flowers? The tag said "Love, Kari." Not my spelling of Karey, but strangely, it's the way her aunt spelled it.

5. I confess to being so sad that I could only have four kids that I let my youngest sleep with us way, way, way too long. I won't give an exact age, but let's just say he sleeps in his own bed now, is smart and well-adjusted and so even though I met with much disapproval, I don't regret it.

6. I confess to putting a thermometer under hot water or against the lightbulb on my lamp to prove (falsely) that I was sick enough to stay home from school. Dad had a rule that we had to go to school unless we had a fever. I'm pretty sure Mom had me figured out though. What else would explain not rushing your daughter to the hospital when she had a fever over 105 degrees?

7. I confess to trying Vicki Gappmeyer's makeup when I babysat. Her bathroom was filled with eyeshadows in beautiful colors, blushes and eyeliners. I wasn't allowed to wear makeup yet and her array of beauty products were too much of a temptation. I always washed my face thoroughly before they got home.

8. I confess to taking some of my babysitting money to Ford's Store in Wallsburg and buying my own bag of Cheeto's and my own M&Ms that I hid in my drawer and enjoyed all by myself. Okay, on occasion I'd give some to one of my sisters if they'd help me clean my room or some other unpleasant task.

9. I confess to telling my husband we won a night at Anniversary Inn on a radio contest. (I have fairly good luck at radio contests, so he believed me.) We'd been married four years and I wanted us to have a little getaway, but I knew he'd say we couldn't afford it. We had a great time and I confessed to him that I hadn't won it about a year later.

10. I confess to riding a motorcycle while I was in college. My Grandpa Higginson hated motorcycles and called them murdercycles because of the number of people he knew who had either died or been seriously hurt while riding them. His dying request was that his posterity not ride motorcycles. When I was invited to go up the canyon for a picnic with a funny, charming and good-looking guy from my college writing class, I hesitated only briefly before saying yes. I felt my grandpa watching me the whole trip and wondered what I'd say to him when I greeted him on the other side if my life ended in a violent crash on this little picnic. I've never ridden a motorcycle again. Sorry Grandpa.

Feel free to share any confessions you'd like. I'm sure you'll feel a lot better.

Congratulations Stephanie!

Congratulations to Stephanie. You're the winner of the Cold-weather reading giveaway.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway. I'm so excited by how many of you entered to win. Be sure to keep checking back for hopefully more entertaining posts, more opportunities to win prizes and more information on my upcoming book, Gifted.

The winner was selected using the custom random number generator on

Cold-Weather Reader's Giveaway

Sure, there's a lot of talk about summer reading--sitting on the beach or in a hammock with a good book. But let's talk about cold-weather reading. The reading that happens while you're wrapped up in a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa or snuggled up by a nice fire with your favorite book.

I love cold-weather reading. It gets dark earlier, there aren't as many distractions from outdoor activities and it's easy to get lost in another place and time.

This giveaway is for a cold-weather reading kit--a $25.00 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble to get whatever you want to read, a bookmark, and a container of Stephen's hot cocoa. Pictured is Stephens Wassail. You can choose if you want wassail or hot cocoa.

The deadline is Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. At that point, a random selector will choose the winner from all entries. Here are ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me what book you'd like to read this winter.

2. Become a follower and leave me a comment.

3. Post a link to this giveaway on your blog, facebook or twitter and leave me a comment with the link.

4. Post a link to one of my blog postings that you enjoyed to your facebook, twitter or blog and leave me a comment here. (You can post as many links as you want.)

5. If you are responsible for someone becoming a follower of my blog, leave me a comment telling me who you recruited to follow me.

So you can see there are lots of ways to win. I'm excited to have more people checking out the blog as I get closer to the release date of my book. Your help to share my blog with others is really appreciated. That's why I hope you win!

Have a great day and enter, enter, enter!

Time Passes but Love Doesn't

Heather Christensen

A year ago today, a band trip to Idaho ended in tragedy. The bus driver lost consciousness and the bus full of American Fork High School band students went off the road in a remote part of Idaho. Heather, a brave and quick-thinking band teacher, dashed to the bus driver and took over the wheel. Her quick thinking saved many students' lives, but unfortunately, as the bus came to a violent stop, Heather, unprotected by the seats of the bus and exposed at the front, was thrown from the bus and killed.

Heather was my sister-in-law's sister. Heather was a frequent and welcome addition to many family gatherings. She was funny, energetic and friendly. She's missed by her band students, by all of us that knew her, but mostly by her family.

When someone is taken from this life, we have to rely on our faith in the Savior and in our Heavenly Father's plan for each of us. That faith can give us comfort and help us through the difficult, lonely days. But it doesn't stop those difficult, lonely days from coming.

Heather is survived by parents, a brother, sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws, cousins, friends, and students who miss her. I hope they all feel comfort and peace today and I hope she knows how much she's missed.

It isn't What I Hoped For... It was Better

Every once in awhile, an object becomes symbolic in our lives. My yoyo dress has been one of those things in my life. It has come to represent much more than just an interesting and beautiful piece of clothing that I designed and made. It has come to mean much more than that.

When I began making the yoyo dress, I had certain expectations of what it would be like and how much I'd earn for it once it was completed. As the materials and time invested grew, I realized it was unlikely that I was going to get out of the dress what it would be worth, but by this point, I loved the dress. I loved the idea of it and I loved the beauty of it. I finished it because it was important that I finish it and because I loved it.

The picture above is Sara and her new husband, Andreas. The dress was worn for their wedding in Switzerland, high in the mountains. It perfectly fits their personalities, the location and the spirit of their wedding. I made almost nothing on that dress, and yet I feel incredible joy and satisfaction about it. I'm thrilled that a sweet and interesting girl wore that dress for the most important day in her life. I'm thrilled that she got compliments and praise for her unique dress. I'm thrilled that she felt special wearing it. I couldn't be happier with the outcome.

I think there are so many things in life that are like that dress. We put our whole heart and soul into something, expecting a certain outcome. We dream about that outcome, we hope for it, we work toward it. And then somehow it doesn't work out the way we wanted it to. Sometimes that's a big disappointment, but sometimes the reality ends up being even better.

For What It's Worth is a book I'm finishing. It's a story of a young lady who opens a wedding cake bakery and because of her lack of experience and reputation, isn't sure what she should charge for her cakes. She conducts an experiment to determine the worth of the wedding cakes and finds that things don't go quite like she expected, and that ends up being okay.

Very often our expectations don't become our reality. But if we're lucky, those realities--like the yoyo dress--become much more satisfying than our expectations.

Congratulations Sara and Andreas! I'm honored that I had a small part in your special day!

What's In A Sigh?

A few years ago I took one of my daughters to the doctor. I was concerned that she was having difficulty breathing. She would take long, ragged breaths and then slowly let them out. It happened so frequently that I thought maybe she had asthma.

The doctor listened to her breathing, asked her some questions and then asked me to step out in the hall with him. "There's nothing wrong with her lungs. I believe what we have here is sadness and stress. We often hear of sighing with relief. Just as often, sighing is a sign of sadness, stress and loneliness."

I was blown away. She was only in the 4th grade. We weren't dealing with any extraordinary family issues. She was a good student. Her teacher loved her. What could be so bad that my sweet daughter was actually suffering this physical symptom? I became a detective, determined to find out.

When my sleuthing was completed, I'd learned a lot about my little girl. I'd learned that she sat on the curb at recess and watched other kids play. I learned that she was afraid to invite herself to do things with others, so if they didn't invite her, she spent recess alone. I learned that she was so lonely at school that she thought of little else when she was at home.

She'd never told me these things before. When I'd asked how school was, she'd say it was fine and then tell me about her teacher or a good score on a paper. When I'd asked who her friends were, she'd named a couple of girls in our neighborhood, because she was embarrassed to admit she didn't have any real friends.

I was heartbroken. What kind of mother can't intuit this kind of pain in her daughter? How had I spent so much time with her and not known of her suffering? I went to work immediately. Working with her teacher, we helped her find a good friend. And the sighing stopped.

At times I've been guilty of minimizing the struggles of our children. I think, lucky them, they don't have to pay bills. They don't have to work a crummy job. They don't have to deal with demanding church callings or mortgages or a bad economy. Their lives are so easy.

Not so. In their limited experience, the social struggles, the homework, the sometimes not-so-nice teachers and even their parents' stresses weigh on them, causing them to worry, to stress and sometimes to sigh. Sighing means something. I watch for it now and when I see it, I try to help my kids cope and resolve the problem.

The Sum of Its Parts

I saw this movie over the weekend. It was sweet, charming and entertaining and I highly recommend it. In addition to being one of the sweetest movies I've seen in a very long time, it had a couple of very positive messages in it. With regard to honesty, the boy's grandfather tells him, "A little discomfort in the beginning can save a lot of pain down the road." In speaking of people, he describes us all as being dipped in paint--some of us are dipped in flat, some in semi-gloss, some in super-gloss. But once in awhile you find someone dipped in irredescent. Those are hard to forget.

The message that seemed to be the theme of the movie, however was the old saying, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Juli describes Bryce, the boy of her dreams as having incredible eyes and an amazing smile, to which her father, a painter of landscapes, asks, but what about him? He then teaches her that a person isn't just a bunch of parts. Is he greater or less than the sum of his parts?

This causes her to step back from the beautiful eyes and dazzling smile and really examine if the whole person is greater or less than the sum of his parts.

This is a wonderful lesson for all of us. I was in a ward once with a woman who prompted sadness in me. She was so homely. Her features were so unattractive that I instantly felt sorry for her. How awful and difficult it would be to go through life looking like that? But then I had the opportunity to get to know her. She was funny, energetic, kind, and good-hearted. Before long, I hardly noticed her physical appearance. She was a beautiful person. She was definitely greater than the sum of her parts.

Conversely, I've known some really beautiful people in my life who become less attractive as time goes on. They're self-centered, vain and condescending. The more you get to know them, the less their attractive features save them. They become significantly less than the sum of their parts.

What am I? What are you? Are we more or less than the sum of our parts?