REVIEW - Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears

I've been fortunate to read some really outstanding books lately and this is definitely one of them.

First let me say that Gale Sears is a lovely woman. Last year, as I read all the books that were Whitney finalists, I was captivated by her book, Letters in the Jade Dragon Box. I was thrilled when it won the Historical Fiction category and had the honor of meeting Gale after the awards. She was a gracious, inspiring woman.

In all honesty, Belonging to Heaven, took me a little longer to lose myself in. It likely had more to do with everything that's going on in my life than the actual book, but the first few chapters took me several days to get through. And then something clicked and I didn't want to put it down. I completely fell in love with Jonathan Napela. While I admired the faith and courage of the early Hawaiian missionaries, Jonathan's faith and determination, and later his patience, and endurance, completely captivated me and brought me to tears several times. I so admired him.

Gale writes with lovely prose. The Hawaiian phrases slowed me down and made me more impressed by George Cannon and the other missionaries, but Gale's imagery transported me to the islands and made me long for another trip there.

This book is absolutely worth reading. I'll be thinking about it for a long time as I try to be a little more like Jonathan.


Advice from Thumper's Mother

Thumper's mother gave him some good advice. "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all."

I had an interesting conversation with my son awhile back. I've thought about sharing it several times, but haven't because of two things. 1. It's humbling for me (you'll see why if you keep reading), and 2. I didn't want to ruin my son's friendship with this boy if he found out I'd shared.

A couple of things have happened since this conversation took place and while I still don't want the friend to get in trouble because I'm sharing the story, he's since decided to abandon his friendship with my son, so this won't affect my boy one way or the other.

My son Joe had a friend named Dan (not his real name). They got together often and he seemed like a nice enough boy, so I was surprised when suddenly Joe didn't want to play with him. Dan would call and invite Joe to do something and Joe would cover the phone and whisper, "I don't think I want to," or "I'd better do my homework." When Joe wanted to invite a friend over, he didn't want to call Dan.

I asked him why he didn't want to hang out with Dan and he'd just shrug or say something vague like, "I just don't feel like it." I knew there had to be more to it so after several of these exchanges, I sat Joe down and demanded an explanation.

"I don't want to say, Mom," Joe said.

"I want to know. He seems like a nice kid and he comes from a good family so I want to know why you don't want to hang out with him anymore. Did he do something we wouldn't approve of?"

"He said something mean."

Of course, at that point I wanted to protect my son from the mean things that might have been said to him.

"What did he say?" I asked. Joe shrugged. "Tell me what he said. I want to know."

After several minutes of coaxing and cajoling, Joe looked defeated. With a catch in his throat, he said, "He told me he felt sorry for me."

I was confused. "Why did he feel sorry for you?" I asked him.

Very softly Joe said, "He felt sorry for me because he said it must be embarrassing to have a fat mom."

I was stunned and hurt and humiliated. Stunned because Dan had always been nice to my face and I'd always been very nice to Dan. Hurt and humiliated because no one knows more than I do what a struggle my weight has been and the lengths I've gone to (unsuccessfully) to do something about it.

And then I felt proud of Joe, who when he had to choose between friends or loyalty to his mom, he chose me.

I told him he needed to forgive Dan, that kids say insensitive things sometimes but we shouldn't hold a grudge. I told him how thankful I was to have a son who cared so much about my feelings.

Joe and Dan renewed their friendship for several months before Dan's rudeness moved into treating Joe badly. At that point I told him he could be finished and he wasn't obligated to keep inviting the meanness back into his life every time Dan needed a punching bag.

I don't know if attitudes like Dan's are taught in families or learned out in the big, mean world. It's unfortunate wherever it's learned. All I know is that I'm super thankful that Joe is my son and that he's a thoughtful, loving boy.

A Bright Spot

It was a difficult week--a terrible terrorist act in Boston, a horrible explosion in Texas, most of my family was gone for part of the week, I got almost no writing done but did a lot of reading about the scary future that is Common Core, etc.

But in all of that, my kids wrote a song. And it's pretty good. (I'm not biased at all.)

I hope it brightens up your week a little, too.

Scraps of Life - A Random Post

Isn't Spring great? These are the tulips we planted at our last house. I miss them and wish we could grow tulips here. We planted about a hundred of them our first fall here, but only one made it to be an actual flower before the deer ate them. Sadly, that one only lasted a day before it was chomped off at the ground. The deer are lovely, but I'd sure like some tulips.

Today my oldest son, Bruce, is going up to the University of Utah for a math placement test. This will prevent him from sitting bored through a class that is beneath his ability. It will also keep him from struggling or failing through a class that he's unprepared for. This morning as I was looking at my list of things to do, I realized I want a life placement test. Do you think it could keep me from spinning my wheels on mundane things? or prevent me from drowning in the things I'm not so good at? Hmm. Wouldn't that be nice?

49 days. 55 days. The first is how many days are left until we're freed from the shackles of school and can enjoy our summer. The second is how long we have until we send Veronica out to serve the Lord for 18 months. I find myself in a conundrum. I can't want the one to get here as quickly as possible and have the other one stay far away.

Saturday, Savannah and Joe's guitar teacher is performing at the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival with her band. She invited Savannah and Joe to each perform a number. They've been working hard. Joe is confident and excited. Savannah is scared out of her mind. Perhaps you could join me in praying that it's a good experience for both of them. I can't wait to hear them.

We're once again watching The Voice. I love it and I think the show has been greatly improved by bringing on Shakira and Usher. I'll admit I miss some of the entertaining antics of CeeLo, but I miss nothing about Christina Aguilara. Nothing. Not her arrogance, her costumes, her it's-all-about-me attitude, and not her giant fake ones. There are a few singers I really like, too. It should be a fun season. Oh, and Carson Daly is the nicest, goofiest, sincerest, charmingest host ever. (I know charmingest isn't a word, but I had a nice rhythm going and I'm a creative writer, so I decided to create a word.)

The Utah Jazz are killing me as we wrap up the season. They're trying to make it to the playoffs. They don't have a chance to do much if they get there so I've heard some say it doesn't really matter. But to me it does! And not for the reason you might think. I can't stand the Lakers and of all the Lakers, Kobe Bryant heads the list of Lakers I don't like. Just after the all-star break, he made a guarantee that the Lakers (who were stinking it up pretty bad) would make it to the playoffs.  The Jazz are the only thing standing between Kobe delivering on his guarantee with a smirk and his tongue sticking out or Kobe skulking off with his head hung in shame. Go Jazz!

Yes, I guess I'm just that petty.

I've read a couple of GREAT books lately. I'll be reviewing them soon so watch for that. I'll help you build your summer reading list.

Two Perfect Days

What constitutes a perfect weekend? I'll tell you.

Eight hours (ten for the guys) of spiritual uplift and council from prophets and apostles.

A feeling of comfort and reassurance from almost every speaker.

Bagels and cream cheese, grilled sandwiches, soup, pancakes, curry chicken and rice, ice cream, and pumpkin chocolate chip bread.

A colorful 1000 piece puzzle of donuts (see picture). 

A box of craft paper to draw and create.

Paints and canvas to paint.

Cute journals to take notes in.

A shopping trip for the girls to buy missionary things and underwear things while the boys went to their meeting.

Our own copy of Les Miserables so we can fast forward to all our favorite songs.

Having the women of the Tabernacle Choir wear ruffly, pepto-bismol pink muumuus that make me feel like I look pretty good.

My entire family at home together in the same room doing the same thing for hours and hours.

I paid for it today with hours and hours of housework, but it was totally worth it. We won't have everyone together for another conference for at least two years. I loved it and wish it were Saturday morning all over again.