Am I in Business with God or Satan?

Today I run the risk of sounding like I might be a little crazy, but a couple of weeks ago, after a sobering conversation with a friend of mine, I was hit with an epiphany that has sat perched on the edge of my mind ever since. At the time I thought I should write about it, but as I pondered how I'd address the topic, and realized how hard it would be to explain, and how much I'd have to reveal about some of my beliefs, I put it off. But the epiphany still sits there, swinging its legs back and forth and refusing to be ignored. So at the peril of sounding like I'm crazy or nonsensical, I'm going to do my best to share the thoughts I've had.

To preface this, I need to explain a few of my core beliefs. I believe in God and I believe He knows each of us. I also believe He loves each of us. Evidence of that can be found in the instructions He's given us--love your neighbor, don't bear false witness, bridle our tongues, blessed are the peacemakers... I could go on and on sharing the instructions I believe He's given to encourage us to be kind, loving, peaceable, respectful.

I also believe in an adversary. I believe in Satan. I believe he's a miserable creature who tempts us and desires our destruction. I believe he wants us to be miserable like he is. I believe that he cheers at our failures and wants us to hate and hurt each other.

All my life, I've been taught that God knows our hearts and minds. He's omniscient, all knowing. But Satan isn't. He doesn't know our thoughts unless we vocalize them. He didn't know Job's heart and he doesn't know mine. He wouldn't know about my insecurities or the places I'm vulnerable unless I vocalize them. He wouldn't know of my heartaches, pain, or inappropriate thoughts, unless I vocalize them. If I'm strong and turn to God, He'll give me power over Satan and I'll be able to avoid his temptations and dark and depressing thoughts. God said Satan would have power to bruise my heel, but I'd have power to crush his head.

I hate gossip. I'm not going to say I haven't been involved in gossipy situations before because I have. I can think of specific instances where I've been annoyed, frustrated, or hurt and my reaction has been to have a full-fledged gossip-fest. Every time I do, I feel like garbage. I'm ashamed of myself and I feel dirty and disappointed.

I was talking to a friend the other day and she told me about a hurtful situation that had broken her heart and had been the pivotal event that caused her to relocate her family.She'd been the target of unkind gossip--some true, some misunderstood and some completely false. My heart ached for the suffering that had been inflicted on her and her family and I hoped her new neighbors would treat her and her family with more kindness. 

I remember a few years ago being at the heart of a similar situation. A disagreement with a neighbor I'd considered a friend, escalated into an ugliness that shocked me and I soon discovered that while I'd considered it a disagreement between the two of us and thought it could and should be remedied with an apology on both sides, turned into a feeding frenzy. Suddenly people I hardly knew were looking at me strangely or asking me questions that proved that the version they'd heard was full of exaggerations and hatefulness. I was shocked and hurt and soon discovered that apologies on my part would never heal the wound because once she'd entrenched herself in her hateful spreading of the story to others, there was no turning back for her.

As I thought over the experiences my friend had with gossip and my own experience, I had a realization. I believe Heavenly Father has instructed us not to bear false witness, (I interpret that as spreading hatefulness, rumors and GOSSIP) because it not only destroys the love he wants us to have for each other, it also arms Satan with ammunition to use on our neighbors. If I talk about So-and-So and spread around what I see as their shortcomings, I'm giving Satan the tools to know how to work on So-and-So. I might say to my friend, "She's so lazy. Have you seen her house? She must spend all day sitting around wasting time," or "She's such a slut. Have you seen the way she dresses and carries herself?" or "He has no business talking to her like that when he's married. Is he looking to have an affair?" but I'm not just being a horrible friend and neighbor. I'm aiding and abetting Satan as he tries to destroy people.

I might get my gossipy kicks by sharing a juicy tidbit with a friend and I'm done. But Satan won't stop there. He'll take my hurtful little dagger and he'll patiently and cruelly, dig and twist and carve with that little dagger in an effort to destroy someone.

I don't want to help Satan in his cunning plan. I'm pretty sure none of us do.

So how do we avoid being his unwitting partner? We love each other. We give people the benefit of the doubt. We walk away when others are gossiping or better yet, if we have the courage, we speak up and put an end to it. We follow Thumper's mother's advice and if we can't say somethin' nice, we don't say nothin' at all. We shut up when we're tempted to sully someone's name or reputation and we speak up when someone needs a kind word.

We become more like our Savior. I'd rather be partners with Him.

The Ripples Go On - Book 2 Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she have to sell her house to pay for her mother’s medical expenses, but she had to drop out of school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she spends most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Assisted Living. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, she reaches out to offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.

My Review:

I loved this story. Kaylee has written a beautiful book about responsibility, sacrifice, friendship and love and I loved it. The two main characters are good people. Drew is stumbling around trying to figure out what he should do with his life now that he took a stand and did the right thing, a choice that left him with no inheritance and no direction. Eden is so focused on doing the right thing for everyone else that she doesn't even consider what's right for her. Thank goodness for all the meddling, adorable old folks at Silver Linings Assisted Living facility. They were awesome and hilarious.

This is a wonderful book. And it's available today. Enjoy!


Book Review - Power to Become by David A. Bednar


Power to Become by David A. Bednar

I LOVED this book!

The stories and examples and doctrine were wonderful and life-affirming. They made you feel like you could accomplish great things and they gave me a new perspective. The layout of the book is perfect for personal study and goal-setting. There is room in the margins for taking notes as well as room at the end of each chapter to set your own goals and fine-tune the steps you'll take to reach them. I liked the layout of the book so much.

Elder Bednar took simple principles like compassion, obedience to commandments and the role the family can play in our own personally progression and presented them in a way that made me want to do better, to be better. I planned to read ten or so pages each day, but there were a few days I found myself reading twenty or thirty pages.

I'd highly recommend this book for its inspirational quality as well as its readability. It's a profound and uplifting book.

The Ripple Effect Romance Series Begins - Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

Let me tell you a little bit about how this series came about. Before my first novel (Gifted) was published, I attended a writer's group that included Rachael Anderson. I knew who she was because my daughters and I had read her books. Little did I know that she hadn't attended the group for long and wouldn't attend it again after that first meeting I attended. I went three more times, hoping she'd be there again. Unfortunately, we never attended another of those meetings together. But it was enough to get acquainted and when she started another writer's group (that was equally short-lived), she invited me to attend.
 
None of these groups were meant to be, but luckily they were enough for a friendship to form. We've been bouncing ideas off each other, reading each other's work and helping each other for awhile now and I'm grateful we've become friends.
 
At a writer's conference last year, I met Kaylee Baldwin, another author I'd read and enjoyed. We hit it off and had a nice visit.
 
Rachael, Kaylee and I have the same goal in mind--to provide people with wholesome, fun, romantic romances that are free of graphic content. It was because of this goal that we decided to write this series. We knew we wanted it to be longer than three books, so we reached out to three other authors who also write clean romance. And that's how I ended up with the privilege of working with Julie Ford, Donna Weaver and Jennifer Griffith.
 
I am so excited about what we've come up with. I've read all of the books and I love them all. The first, Home Matters by Julie N. Ford comes out today. The others will be released every two weeks until all six are out. Julie really starts it out with a bang.
 
 
 

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.

My Review:

I love Julie Ford's writing. I first learned of her when her book Countdown to Love  was nominated for a Whitney award. I thoroughly enjoyed that book. As she has before, Julie creates strong characters and a great storyline. I love a book where the main character grows and gets to know herself and Olivia certainly does. It's a fun book and a great way to start our series. Enjoy!

Review - One Little Match by Thomas S. Monson Illustrated by Dan Burr

A new, illustrated picture book with an invaluable lesson for children. Thomas S. Monson told the story about his time as a young boy spending the summer at his family's cabin in Vivian Park. He and his best friend, Danny, decided to clear a field so they could gather with their friends and have a
campfire. The tall, stubborn weeds would not pull out easily. So Tommy had the idea of using one little match to burn the weeds. He knew he shouldn't use matches without permission from his parents. But he ignored the prompting warning him of the danger and set the parched June
grass ablaze. The consequence of his disobedience nearly endangered the entire forest and almost burned down neighboring cabins.

I learned several difficult but important lessons that day. Perhaps the biggest lesson was the need for obedience. Rules and laws are created to keep us safe. When we obey those rules, we can avoid the dangers that can come from something as small as one little match.


MY REVIEW:

I loved the story in this book when President Monson gave it in conference and I love it even more in this format. I could hear President Monson's voice and when that's combined with the gorgeous illustrations, it gets even better.

This is a wonderful book for everyone. I plan to use it for Family Home Evening. I read it to my little nieces that were staying with us. It's messages is profound and important and it's told in such a beautiful, simple way.

I have a children's Christmas book that at some point will need an illustrator and after seeing the pictures in this book, I've decided I'd be lucky to have the talents of Dan Burr.

I highly recommend this book. It's beautiful.

Restless

I'm restless.

After five pleasant days in Hawaii with my husband, I should feel settled and ready to write, clean house, return to my routine.

I don't. And it's not that I want to return to the sunshine and water and good food.

I don't. I'm glad to be home. I'm happy to be back with my kids, back to the mountains. I want to be motivated and productive and focused.

I'm not. My arthritis hurts. I'm stiffer than I've ever been. Sometimes I feel like an old woman, but I'm not. If I were an old woman, my children would be through with school.

They're not. And I hate school more as a mother than I did as a child and I'd never have imagined that was possible. But I'm torn because as much as I'd like school to be over, I don't want my children to keep growing up. I'd put up with another dozen years of school to have my little kids again.

But I can't. And I really don't want to because as they grow up, they're becoming people I'm proud of, people I admire, and people who are good friends.

Sometimes I think I want to move. I'd like to live closer to my extended family and a house with less stairs would be heavenly. But I like the north part of Provo a lot. And I like some parts of Salt Lake. And every time I drive home, I can't believe how beautiful it is where I live and I like looking out my back windows. I have a really nice view. And sometimes when I take the stairs and it really hurts, I get to the top and I feel proud of myself.

I miss Veronica. I sat in the Seattle airport Saturday morning and wanted to walk outside, rent a car, and go searching for a beautiful sister missionary in Carkeek Park.

But I didn't. I sat there and said a prayer for her and then got on the plane.

Sometimes I miss Bruce and Savannah and Joe even though they live with me right now. Because I know in the blink of an eye, they won't.

I have so many stories in my head. I think of a new idea and I write it down. Some of them are ideas I want to run with, but I have stories I'm working on and if I ran with it every time I have a new idea, I'd have a dozen works-in-progress. Sometimes finishing what I start stinks. Why does it take so long to write a book?

Why is laundry never finished?

It's not, you know. I can focus and move the loads through and fold them and even put them away and then I look down and see that my jeans are dirty.