Mission Accomplished - The Book of Mormon in Under a Month

On July 1, I asked my kids if they wanted to join me in the Book of Mormon in a month challenge. They did and so we started reading.

And then we realized that since Veronica had Especially for Youth at the end of the month, we didn't have a month to read it. We had 24 days. So we added a few chapters to each of our days. We read at home. We read in the car. Each Sunday, during the sacrament, we all read the same chapter individually, but at the same time.

We read in the morning, we read in the middle of the day and we read before we went to bed. 

We stopped and talked as we read--about Nephi and Abinidi and Ammon and the stripling warriors. We were probably a little too happy when King Noah died by fire just like had been prophesied and just like he'd put Abinidi to death.

We felt bad for Mormon and Moroni who didn't lose faith and hope when they had every excuse to give up.

We understood the war chapters and the strategies and politics better than we had before. We admired Captain Moroni and Teancum.

It was a great way to get in hours and hours of summer reading and as it turned out, it was a great way to foster our love of the Book of Mormon.

On Sunday, July 24, we read the last four chapters and reached our goal.

What a great book. If you haven't read it and would like to, let me know. I'd be happy to send you a copy.

A Gifted Giveaway on Goodreads



Goodreads Book Giveaway





Gifted by Karey White



Gifted


by Karey White



Giveaway ends August 19, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.




Enter to win


Go to Goodreads and enter to win a copy of Gifted. Of course I'll sign it for you, too. And don't worry if you've already read it. You can give it as a gift.

After all, what better gift could there be than Gifted? All right, leave me alone. I know it was cheesy.

Amy Winehouse and a Sleepless Night

Last night I saw a brief story on the news about a memorial service held for Amy Winehouse. During the story a young man from Serbia was interviewed. Amy had been booed off the stage at that performance because she was high and unable to really perform. The young man said that at first they were really upset that they'd paid money for such a terrible show, but now he doesn't mind so much because it's cool that he got to see her last performance.

I was curious so I checked youtube to see if there were any videos of that last concert.

I wish I hadn't.

I watched about six different songs from that concert and what I saw was tragic. I can't even think of a word that conveys the horror and heartbreak I watched.

And I wasn't a fan. I didn't know her. I'm not her parent or her sibling. I'm not her friend. But it was incredibly sad.

And I wondered, if it made me that sad, how does her Heavenly Father feel?

I've always been someone who thought people should stand up and be accountable for their actions, but as I watched her I realized she no longer had free will. Her life was governed by her addictions and she was at their mercy. Of course she had control of her actions in the beginning, but watching that concert, I didn't see a person who had any choice in the matter. Addiction had robbed her of her choices.

She slurred and staggered. She was behind most of the time on the words and often just quit singing. She picked at her arms like there was something there. She looked like she was going to throw up several times. A few times she laughed and tried to dance and then other times she looked completely disoriented. She couldn't figure out what to do with her hair. A few times she looked like she was in dreadful pain and her face would contort like she would start to cry.

As I felt sad for her pain, I felt frustration with those around her. The people on that stage with her or watching from the wings--her managers, her band, her backup singers--what were they thinking? Was it just about picking up their paycheck? She shouldn't have been out there. Someone should have picked up that 90 pound lost soul and carried her off that stage and to a hospital. Had everyone given up?

People say she was talented. I don't really know enough about her music to agree or disagree with any confidence. But she was one of God's children who lost her way.

I hope she's feeling some peace.

A Good Quote and a Daunting Goal



A few weeks ago I was reading a posting from my blog-friend and she had a quote I loved.

A year from now, you'll wish you'd started today.

How true is this? How many times have I been disappointed in myself that I've put off something because it was hard and uncomfortable?

And so instead of a year going by and then me wishing I'd done that big, scary, uncomfortable, daunting thing, I'm going to have accomplished it. Or I'll have died trying.

Wish me luck. 

A Little Ancestral Name-Dropping

July is a special month to me. We celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on earth and we celebrate our pioneer ancestors. I find it fitting that these two celebrations fall just twenty days apart. Our nation was founded on principles of freedom and liberty (yes, there is a subtle difference between the two) and my pioneer ancestors traveled across the United States with others in a massive exodus to take advantage of that freedom and liberty.

I am a proud American. Not just because I love her and what she stands for. Not just because I get chills when someone sings a stirring version of a patriotic song. Not just because I find it hard to keep tears out of my eyes when I see our flag waving or our servicemen coming home. Not just because of the sacrifice and inspiration of those great Americans who paved the way.

I'm proud to be an American because America runs through my veins. William Bradford (Plymouth's first governor) and William Brewster (Plymouth's minister) are my direct ancestors. They both came to our country on the Mayflower. They came here to be a part of establishing something special, something extraordinary. And they succeeded.

Meltiar Hatch is my maternal great-great-great-grandfather. He is a descendant of both William Bradford and William Brewster. He was a friend to the prophet Joseph Smith and carried messages back and forth to him while the prophet was imprisoned in Liberty Jail. He and his family crossed the Plains with some of the first pioneers. He was a member of the Mormon Battalion. He was called to help settle Southern Utah and helped establish Santa Clara, Utah.

William Thomas Higginson is my paternal great-great-grandfather. As a young man in England, he was groom and a jockey in the king's stables. He joined the church in England and with his sweetheart came to the United States. She died just three and a half months after their marriage. He continued on to Salt Lake. After a time, he was called to go back to Nebraska to help other immigrants who were traveling to Salt Lake. On that trip, he met the woman who would become his wife and would become my great-great-grandmother, Christina Young. Ironically, they eventually settled in Hatch, Idaho, a town founded by my mother's ancestors.

I'm grateful for the work and sacrifice and determination that came before me.

I'm proud and grateful for my heritage. I hope I live to make my ancestors proud of me.

Pin It

Have You Had a Red Bull This Morning?


This morning I took my girls to have their annual physicals. They've both been dreading the experience. They were afraid they might have to get naked and they were afraid they might have to have a shot. 

Savannah, my 13-year-old, had herself worked into a frenzy this morning. She was completely stressed out. They called us out of the waiting room and the first thing the nurse did was put the oxygen/pulse monitor on their fingers. Savannah was nearly in tears. 

"Are you okay?" the nurse asked?
"No," she said.
"Have you had a Red Bull this morning?"
"No," Savannah said.
"Her heart is really racing," the nurse told me. Then she turned to Savannah. "Your pulse is 140. Is something wrong?"
"I don't want to have a shot."
"Oooohhhh. Honey, you won't have to have a shot. Don't worry."
"Really?" The relief was completely overwhelming. The tension drained out of her and she smiled.
"Let's try this again," the nurse said several seconds later and put the monitor back on Savannah's finger.

Now her pulse was down to a normal 65. She was so relieved that she wasn't going to have a shot.

Then we went into the examination room and the nurse looked through her paperwork.

Savannah had to have a shot after all.

Blog Sweepstakes Idea - Oh What Do You Do in the Summertime

On my blog ideas giveaway, one of the suggestions for a blog post was "Oh What Do You Do in the Sumertime?" I like this idea and decided it might be nice to do a posting for each of the seasons, but since it's summer, we'll start there. Thanks for the idea, Aimee.

First let me say I'm tired of the schools whittling off a few days at the beginning and ending of the summer. When I was a kid, we always finished school at the end of May and started back the last week of August. Every year they rob us of a few extra days and I resent it. Those are OUR days, not theirs. And I want them all.

When I was a kid, my dad was a schoolteacher. Every school year he'd finish work the same day we got out of school. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but until I was about twelve years old, I thought all parents had summers off. I didn't realize we were so lucky.

What do we do in the summertime?

We go to family reunions.
We swim.
We have a family vacation.
My kids cook and bake.
We read, sometimes together, sometimes alone.
We hurry with chores so we can play.
We visit Grandpa and Grandma.
We play with cousins.
We dance.
We watch movies at home.
We sit in cold matinee theaters.
We dread going back to school.
We worry about what teachers the kids will get.
The kids go to girl's camp, youth conference, high adventure, scout camp, trek and Especially for Youth.
We watch fireworks.
I beg Travis not to waste money on personal fireworks.
He ignores me.
We cook hotdogs and s'mores at our firepit.
We enjoy the cool evening air.
We go to the library.
We eat ice cream.
We go to Salt Lake and eat baguette and butter at the park.
We wish Utah had a Motsumoto's Shave Ice stand.
We settle for an occasional snowcone.
We have friends over almost every day.
We play night games.
We stay up too late.
We sleep in.
We feed the ducks old bread.
We wish it could last twice as long.

Hard Choices

Last year I shared the story of my dad's brief foray into the world of politics. In that story, my mom single-handedly changed the course of Dad's political future. It was a move that I'm sure she thought about and didn't take lightly.

Last Friday was the deadline to file paperwork to run for city council. Because we have a lot at stake in our neighborhood and a few people who were running are outspoken in their opposition to the needs of our neighborhood, several discussions took place to try to find people to run who would work to protect our needs. It looked desperate for awhile and so I offered to run and went to the city offices to file my paperwork.

As I waited in the car for a friend who was meeting me there, I got sick to my stomach. It felt important--someone needed to do it--but I didn't want it to be me. I called my husband and told him I didn't want to do it. I'm finally writing, something I've wanted to do for years and years and I worried that this would derail my writing. I was also worried about the finances. We have a missionary out and I was concerned about spending money on a campaign that could end up amounting to a failure. And I worried about losing valuable time with my kids if I ended up being spread too thin.

My husband gave me a pep talk, told me how great I'd be and even offered to make omelettes on days that were extra busy. I still felt sick, but I went in and filled out the paperwork.

The next day, I learned that twelve people were running for the three seats. TWELVE!!! Surely of those twelve, there were some I could support who would feel the way I did about important issues.

So Saturday I spent hours contacting candidates and talking about the issues. I discovered there were others who feel like me.

So I did what my mom did. I single-handedly ended someone's political future.

Mine.

How do I feel? Sad that I disappointed some people, but immensely relieved. I'm not sure I'd make a good politician anyway. I just proved I waffle too much.

Book of Mormon in a Month Report

At the beginning of the month, I invited you to join my kids and me for a month-long Book of Mormon challenge. We're just past the halfway mark and I wanted to report on our progress and the experience.

I don't even know how many times I've read The Book of Mormon. If you consider times with my family as I grew up, the family I'm in now, my year in seminary, my religion class at BYU, my personal study, individually and with my Sunday School class when President Hinckley gave his challenge a few years ago, and my mission, I'd have to say it's over a dozen. But I've never read it at this pace before.

A couple of days after we started reading, we realized that my daughter would be gone for six days to Especially for Youth, leaving us with 25 days to read it together instead of the 31 we'd been planning on. This forced us to kick it into a new gear. We completed Alma today and plan to have a big week of reading this next week. We're on track to make it!

And we really have no excuse. A man my son is teaching on his mission was in Ether after eight days. Amazing. 

A real benefit to reading at this pace is a better understanding of the war chapters throughout Alma. When you're reading a chapter a day or a chapter every few days, it's really easy to get lost. I'm understanding the strategies and who's doing what much better this time through.

It's a heavy time commitment to read between five and ten chapters per day, but it will give you a whole new perspective.

IF YOU'D LIKE A COPY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON, CONTACT ME AND I'LL BE HAPPY TO SEND ONE TO YOU AT NO COST. IT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

(Image found at http://www.mormonmemorabilia.com/images/Merchandise/Books/Book%20of%20Mormon%201906%20Pulpit.jpg)

My Review of Tree of Life


My husband called today and asked if the kids and I wanted to meet him after work and go to "The Tree of Life." He'd read a review of it and it sounded like something we'd like. The review said it was filled with symbolism that LDS people would enjoy. I foolishly invited my parents to come along.

Well, I'm LDS. I appreciate symbolism. I enjoy artistic, thought-provoking and beautiful things. And I thought it was a random, convoluted mess. 

Sure, there were a few bright spots. At the beginning of the movie, in a soft, whispered, almost impossible to hear and understand voice over, the mother talks about the difference between grace and nature. I'm paraphrasing because I've only seen the movie once and I'll never see it again, but if I remember correctly, it was something like grace tolerates insult and pain, loves, and forgives. Nature on the other hand, takes what it wants and thinks of itself. I allowed myself to be a little excited by those opening words. I thought they were beautiful and I thought maybe it meant we were in for a treat.

Instead we were in for random, meaningless mini-scenes that were trying so hard to be meaningful that they were often laughable. The creation is shown. It was pretty for the first few minutes. But then it dragged on so long that it lost its impact. We saw clouds, volcanoes, jellyfish and other sea creatures. And then we saw dinosaurs. And not very good ones. And we saw one laying by the water and then we saw another one come and step on its head for no reason and then bound off through the water. Hmm. If there was some deep and profound meaning here, I missed it.

The movie starred a mumbling Sean Penn and a brooding and dysfunctional Brad Pitt. Pitt avoided his pretty boy persona by jutting out his jaw and lower lip in a strange way for much of the movie. I found it distracting.

There were so many odd and random scenes that we kept thinking of different ones all the way home. And that was an hour. There was the dad playing poker for no reason. The mother washed her feet in the hose after hanging up the laundry. At one point, for only a second, she spun around, floating through the air by a large tree. The oldest son spied on the neighbor. He sneaked into a neighbor's house and stole a slip and for a second hid it under a plank and then sent it floating down the river. Several times, for no reason that furthered the story, we saw Brad Pitt walking through his place of business. He went to China and Germany but we have no idea why, only that the children and his wife were thrilled to have him gone and jumped on the beds together.

I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Hopefully you get my point. We thought it might never end.

The best part of the movie is that Jessica Chastain was beautiful--sometimes stunningly beautiful. And she wore great clothes.

One comment left on the above review was critical and condescending to anyone who didn't love the movie, giving the impression that if we were a little smarter we'd have understood it. 

I went with my smart parents, my smart husband, and my smart children. And I don't consider myself an intellectual half-wit either. All of us left the theater laughing and shaking our heads at the pomposity of the entire thing.

(Image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4e/Thetreeoflifeposter.jpg)

Things I Wonder About Tattoos

Last weekend we took the family to see Blues Traveler and Chris Isaak in concert. Blues Traveler just about did us in with the harmonica/guitar jams. We've definitely had our harmonica fix for the next couple of years. They jammed for so long that our eleven-year-old was begging us to go home. He'd had enough. Finally they finished and Chris Isaak took the stage in his red suit with flames and his fantastic voice and we were all fine. He's really good.

The entire evening gave us lots of time to watch people. And there were definitely some interesting ones. I found myself wondering about tattoos. And there was a lot to wonder about. Tattoos were all around us.

If you have any answers to my questions, please let me know. I'm genuinely curious.

What happens to a tattoo when a person gains or loses weight? Is it like a picture on a balloon that stretches out as the balloon is blown up? When a person loses weight, does the tattoo hang there all softy and wrinkly?

Should people color-coordinate their clothing with their tattoos? I saw a few pretty stylish women whose clothing clashed badly with the colors of their tattoos. I also saw one woman whose sundress coordinated with her tattoo so perfectly that I think it had to be intentional.

Why on skin? Some tattoos are pretty impressive works of art. One woman had her entire right arm and onto her back (and most of her back was visible) tattooed in a really beautiful graphic design of curlicues and flowers. I wished I had a bedspread or a throw pillow in that pattern. It would even look great on wallpaper if it was the right kind of room. But on your skin? Forever?

I wondered if some guys were aware that tattoos can only do so much to hide back and shoulder acne. There were a few guys in wife-beaters with tattoos, but I could still see their back acne. It wasn't a good combination and they'd have been better off wearing a shirt.

I don't understand tattooed words. Some words have different meanings now than they did years ago. Language evolves and little quotes often mean different things to us at different times in our lives. It seems a little risky to write words on the canvas of your body that might not mean the same thing to us (or anyone else) ten years down the road.

I marvel at the level of commitment these people have to words or a design. Styles change. Most of us aren't wearing the same clothes we wore ten years ago. Some of our tastes and attitudes change. We often change the homes we live in. Some even change spouses. And yet, they are totally and completely committed to a phrase, a design or a picture. Aren't they worried they'll get tired of it?

And finally, skin (an appropriate amount of it) is beautiful. Some of the uncluttered skin I saw after looking at so many tattoos, looked so pretty. And it matched everything.

Congratulations Manda!


This was a fun giveaway! 

Congratulations to Manda. Enjoy!

There were some fantastic suggestions for blog postings and I'm going to do my best to use every single one of them.

I had to make a special note to Melissa, who surprised me with the picture above. I love it.

Thanks to all of you who come and read the things I write. Thanks to all of you who have read my book. I appreciate the support, the followers and the comments. 

HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Time for a BIG Giveaway!

This is how I've been feeling--a little depleted, a little overwhelmed, and a lot tired. My creative blog juices are running a little low. I'm sick of the non-stop construction on my street. I want a good treat and can't have one for ten more days. I want to be finished with the revisions on "For What It's Worth" and I want to start working on my next book (it's a love triangle). Summer is going by too fast, but Bruce's mission could go a little bit faster.

I'm in a bit of a slump and I need your help.

I heard of someone who asked her readers what she should write about, so that's what I'm doing. 

WHAT SHOULD I WRITE ABOUT?

In exchange for your ideas, I'm going to give away a great prize. 

A $25.00 Barnes and Noble gift card to buy a great summer read or two (or three or four if you shop the bargain tables).

AND

A chocolate chip cookie pie from Cookie Heaven. (worth $25.00)

So, help a sister out. 

Leave a comment with your idea for a blog posting and you'll be entered to win.
If you want extra entries, follow me, tweet this, post it on your facebook or fly an airplane banner with my blog address. Be sure to leave me a comment about each of these (and a picture of the banner).

I'll be randomly choosing a winner at midnight on July 11.

BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR COMMENTS.

Happy Birthday U.S.A.

Today we celebrate America. 

There is much to be concerned about in our country. Things are far from perfect and there are problems that need addressed or we may lose the country we love.

But today is about celebrating the things that are right about America. 

Imagine the courage of those that signed the Declaration of Independence. Those 56 men pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They were essentially committing treason. They were risking everything to establish something they believed was better. And they were right. Up until this time in their lives, they'd lived quietly as lawyers and jurists, merchants and tradesmen, and farmers. They were educated men with a vision of what could be and they were willing to risk everything for that vision.

That vision was freedom. 

I love the United States of America. From sea to shining sea. And even over the sea to Hawaii and Alaska.

I love the Judeo Christian values at the core of America. These traditions created the greatest country in the world. The loss of these traditions will spell the end of that country. We have to be as courageous as those men who signed The Declaration of Independence.

I love that so many Americans are patriotic. People stand, put their hands over their hearts. We sing along to the songs of America. We recite the pledge--every word of it. And we feel a surge of pride when we see and hear the symbols of America.

I love "The Star Spangled Banner." Some have said we should change the national anthem to something more peaceful, that doesn't sing of war and is easier to sing. I say no way. Sure it's a hard song, but when it's done right, there are few things that give me goosebumps or tears in my eyes quite like "The Star Spangled Banner." Long may she wave!

I love Old Glory. At the Stadium of Fire, the parachuter bringing in the flag, took out a barricade and crash-landed on the stadium grass, the flag landing in a heap on the ground. Our men in uniform, rushed to the flag and quickly and respectfully, picked it up and carried it off the field. It was very touching.

I love fireworks--the kind the professionals shoot off. And I like sparklers.

Happy birthday, U.S.A. I love you!

You're Invited!

Two days ago I was reading a posting from here and decided to join her Book of Mormon Challenge. The challenge is to read the Book of Mormon in a short time. She tells of someone who did it in twenty days. She's picked 31 days (the month of July) for her challenge. It's a day late, but you're invited.

You can choose how you do it--8 chapters a day, approximately 17 pages per day, or whatever works best for you. My kids and I are doing a minimum of 17 pages per day but on Sundays we're planning a marathon, where we do two or three times that (that's because my oldest daughter will be at Especially for Youth the last week of July, so we need to be ahead of the game).

Anyone can join us, whether you're LDS or not. If you don't have a copy, you can get it on kindle for free here or you can get a phone app here or you can read it online here

I hope you'll join us. It's a wonderful book. This is the real thing, not a couple of hours of entertainment written by people who don't understand it. It's a book that can change your life. I promise.

I'll post a mid-month report and I'd love to hear from any of you who take the challenge.

Now let's read!