Monday, June 27, 2011

Francesca Battistelli - Beautiful, Beautiful (Official Video)

I have really enjoyed listening to this song the last few months. It has been a beautiful description of the push and pull I have (and maybe you do too) with my inner and outer person.

How many times have I felt loved and secure and beautiful? I love it when I am in that place and I am comfortable and HAPPY!
Then life and my own choices (and the choices of others) lead me to where I question myself, my worth, my strength, God's strength...

But when I remember, when I can recall the love, the warmth, the 'sunlight burning at midnight' that he has brought into my life over, and over, and over again...then I can smile through the tears. I can feel that warm despite the cold place I may be in at the moment. I can remember his love, even when I feel unlovable.

One Family Home Evening, I was desperate for a lesson and came up with a quick spiritual thought to go along with our treat for the evening. I think it was when I was on my own and Mark was in Arkansas. I had picked up some OREO's at the store that day (needing my chocolate fix) and I used the cookies for our object lesson in FHE. I described our dual nature to the boys-our good, creamy, sweet inner spirit that is within a crunchy, dark and sometimes not as sweet outside.

We had had some conflict over the days preceding that lesson and I wanted to make sure my sons knew that I loved them and Heavenly Father loved them, even while feeling regret for their misbehavior and naughtiness. I even was able to quote the scripture about the 'natural man is an enemy to God and has been forever.' But reassured them that God wanted the sweet nature that was inside each of them to overcome the 'dark side' that gave into temptation. The mention of conflict was good. The boys went off on various versions they had seen of good vs. evil they were familiar with.

The half hour of talk and slurping milk with OREO's seemed to work that night.

But just yesterday, Joseph came up to me and started talking about something that he had done that wasn't so good. He didn't want to get in trouble, and he was trying to paint himself in the best light. He said with a wry twist of his mouth, "It was just my dark, crunchy side doing it. I didn't really want to."


"Your dark crunchy side, huh?"

"Yeah, sometimes I get kinda dark and crunchy like the cookies. But I like the yummy middle part too. Can we have some of those cookies again?"

Yep, that was him changing the subject. I wondered if it was artful contrivance or just a short attention span. Probably the latter, but needless to say, he wasn't in nearly as much trouble as he was going to be.

So, the moral of my ramblings? Remember that you are a delightful, sweet and creamy, darling child of God, even when you feel like the waterlogged piano in the music video or a dark, crunchy OREO with not a glass of milk in sight. He loves you so much and he thinks you are BEAUTIFUL. And you are.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Other Side of the Story: What's it About? Better Queries Through Movie Trai...

The Other Side of the Story: What's it About? Better Queries Through Movie Trai...: "I'm a huge movie buff, so I see a lot of trailers. Even when I watch a DVD I've had for years, I still watch the trailers. There's somethin..."

I LOVED this post on Janice Hardy's blog.

For those that are not in the writing biz, "Queries" are the letters a hopeful writer sends to an agent/publisher, telling them what the book is about and asking for representation/a chance to publish it.

I have trolled through the sites on queries from "Miss Snark" to "QueryShark". I have learned a lot from them in how to craft the letter. But THIS...was the illustration that many writers need. Using movie trailers to show (not tell) how queries and trailers work...and don't work.

Great post, Janice, as always!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Michael Bublé - "Save The Last Dance For Me" Official Music Video

I have been thinking about DANCE the last few days. Our new ward had a service auction on Saturday. I thought it would be fun to put up dance lessons ... taught by Mark and I for someone to bid on. I got a call in the afternoon before, asking if we would be willing to give a 'demonstration'.


I realized that it had been six months since Mark and I had done any real dancing. Hoo Boy! So the hour before the dinner/auction, I was a huge ball of stress. We were still trying to pick the music and figure out which dance to perform.

Waltz or Cha-Cha? Or maybe a Foxtrot?

Well, it all went fine. And all seemed to like what we did. There was bidding that ended in $55. (Pretty Cool!) So we will be teaching a lucky couple to dance.

So it got me thinking, and I remembered this fun music video by Michael Buble. (I hope you enjoy it!)

But that got me thinking on another tangent.

I heard the story behind this song one time. The man who wrote it was partially paralyzed by Polio. He had to use crutches to get around and was unable to dance to any real degree. But his wife loved to dance. In fact, I understand that she was a Broadway actress and dancer. So in the song, the husband encourages his sweetheart to go have fun dancing; enjoy the evening. However, he would be sitting there on the sidelines (as I imagine). He tells her, asks her, to save the last dance for him. That special last dance that one saves for your someone special, he wants to claim.

"Don't go home with anyone else, don't fall in love with anyone else."

"I'm still the man you married. I'm still the man who loves you. Enjoy the night, but come back home with me."

It made me think about something Marjorie Hinckley said about her husband, Gordon. She said that he always gave her wings to fly.

I am grateful for my husband who gives me wings... freedom. There are nights when I'm just about ready for bed, but I can't settle down because there is something that I just need to write down, or I'm going to forget. Or when the day was just too full to do anything for me and I just need some time alone with my writing or art or whatever project I'm working on.

My husband is not a nightowl. So he gives me a kiss and asks that I come to bed soon. And I do...if midnight is considered 'soon'. Usually its midnight. Once in a while, when the creative juices are really flowing, I finish my project and realize its 1:30, 2 or even 3 in the morning. But I rarely hear a 'I told you so' when I wake up groggy in the morning.

What a sweetie! What a man among men! Boy, am I glad he's mine.

And yes, Darling, I'll save my last dance...and all the rest of them... for you!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mindy Gledhill - All About Your Heart [LYRICS]

This has been a hard parenting weekend. I feel like I'm a great mom for about five minutes and then, I 'blow it' as I discover a new crazy mess or someone has a tantrum (and I join right in) or I totally lose the spirit of a wonderful Stake Conference as I wrestle (literally) with my children.

Oh, do I need Grace! Oh, do I need help! Oh, I need a God who understands my failures and weaknesses.

I can feel the depression trying to sneak up on me again. I can't let it over take me now. Things are WAY too hard. There is just not any room on my worry list for one more thing...especially not that.

So, the job will eventually not be so stressful.
The paycheck will eventually be more.
The boys will eventually learn how to behave in public, and maybe at home too!
The house will eventually look inviting and beautiful.
My creativity will eventually be published in a tangible, hardcover that others will read.
I will eventually learn the art of turning a blind eye and counting to ten.
I will eventually be able to fully trust that my God has me in his hand and is guiding me on...
on to a better place.
And hopefully sometime soon, I can fully trust that he truly does love me, despite my weaknesses and imperfections.

I want to trust that, no matter what, He REALLY loves me.

"I don't mind your odd behavior,
it's the very thing I savor.
If you were an ice cream flavor,
You would be my favorite one."

If I can feel this way about my kids (on a good day, I must admit) then surely God must feel that way towards me...even when I throw a tantrum and want to hand in my Mommy license.

"I have loved you from the start.
Believe me when I say,
It's not about your scars....
It's all about your heart."

My heart is here. It's open and it's hurting. I want so badly to do better; to do more.
In my heart, I am all those things I am trying to be-all the things I pretend to be.
I'm just not fully there yet.

"You're a butterfly held captive
small and safe inside your cocoon
Go on, you can take your time;
Time is said to heal all wounds."

Now is the time of our mortality, to go through a metamorphosis of growth (including failure, repentance, forgiveness and correction). Someday, this caterpillar that I see within will unfurl its beautiful wings and soar.

God, give me the strength to keep going. Give me the will to keep trying. Give me patience with myself and others. And give me the miracle of metamorphosis...that I can become what you have envisioned, even though, when I'm having a hard time, all I see is the lowly worm.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Amazing Miracle of Trees

I just  started reading a book last night that has as secondary characters...trees. Now they aren't talking, moving trees like the Ents in Lord of the Rings. Nor are they foul, haunted creatures like in the Wizard of Oz. But the opening scene has the main character swinging from a tree branch, trying to get up enough momentum to swing across to the tree beside it, nearly five feet away. It is his fourth attempt. He's failed in various ways three times before. As he is doing so, the caretaker of the grove finds him and tries to smack him with a stick to get down. The boy is actually successful, despited the caretaker's abuse. Pleased with his attempt, the boy later uses this new skill to climb the nearby towering cliff, where he knows something precious is hidden.

As the story continues, we see the importance of the trees and the grove. They provide food, fuel and livelihood to the community. They have cultural significance in the greater world they live in; one single fruit is worth much when taken to other communities that don't have groves such as theirs.

I started thinking about trees and all they provide. Food, of course, we receive from trees such as Apple, Pear, Cherry, Orange and other citrus varieties. But we also receive spices from the bark of Cinnamon. Vanilla comes from seed pods on a tree. The Nutmeg tree provides both nutmeg and mace. And of course the most important (*wink*) the Cocoa tree providing the source of chocolate.

They provide shelter, both in building materials as well as being great wind breaks and shading our houses and neighborhoods.Even if our houses do not have a wood exterior, most likely some or all of the framing is made of wooden trusses. And when there is a home improvement or repair project, we usually find ourselves in the lumberyard, picking out the lengths we need to finish the project.

Trees provide us with so many things, we often forget them all. We use branches, pine cones and cut pieces of wood for fire, a basic necessity since the first people on earth. Various kinds of paper were invented using the bark or pulp of trees. Around the world, people have harvested oil from the Olive tree, rubber from the Rubber tree and collected silk from mulberry leaves and silkworms . We harvest many varieties of nuts from trees in all corners of the world.

We have used trees to provide us with means of travel since the earliest dug-out canoe and simple chariot. Basic wagons and elaborate carriages have developed from thence. Watercraft advanced throughout the ages concluding with immense ships holding hundreds of men, carrying vast amounts of cargo and even circumnavigating the globe.

But this morning, I was reading in my scriptures a few verses in the Book of Mormon, when the prophet Lehi had a night vision in which he saw the love and mercy of God symbolized in the form of a tree. It represented the Savior himself.
"...I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof: and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable about all other fruit."
(1 Nephi 8:10-12)

With all that God and Jesus have given us on this beautiful world they created, they knew that it could not provide us with everything. True, we can harvest food, shelter, warmth and even clothing from trees and other growing things. They can help us to stay alive, but they cannot give us Life. Only through Jesus Christ can we receive Everlasting Life. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," he said. (John 14:6)

But we cannot receive the joy, the Life, he intends for us, if we just walk aimlessly beneath his spreading branches. But if we come into his loving embrace and grasp the fruit he has provided, partake of it, feast on its sweetness and then turn to share it with others, we are promised Joy.

Joy! Wow, I could always use more of that.

So today, I've been reflecting on the amazing miracle of trees, all they provide and offer us. And I'm remembering the invitation to come, follow, partake, drink, choose, love and enjoy. I think I'll accept that invitation. How about you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A really great Apology

I was upset this afternoon.
Mark was working in the attic on a repair/improvement project for several hours. When I ran to Wal-mart at midday, I came home to find all the electricity off. Mark explained as I put the milk in the still-cold fridge that he was almost done with that part of the project. The electricity was turned on again five minutes later and all seemed fine.

EXCEPT.... I had spent three hours that morning writing a new chapter. And I hadn't saved it before I went to Walmart. And it was gone.

I tried to get it back. But I'm no techno-whiz, and by the time Mark came to help out. It was irretrievably gone. Gone!

I tried to write it again before I picked the boys up from school. I sat back down when I got home. I tried to get into the flow. But the mood, the voice, the ideas kept slipping from my fingers.

Mark's response was "Oh, wow, sorry about that. Gosh I didn't think about checking the computer before I shut everything off. I was just trying to get this project done. It has take hours longer than it should have. This is my only day off before Summer School starts." He wasn't snotty or anything. But it was like 'Oops!'

That was it.

So what did I do. I tried to be a good person and forgive and forget. But it didn't work. I was crabby while I made dinner. I was crabby getting everyone to the table. I was crabby for much of the meal. Finally when the boys wandered away and the long table separated Mark and I, I was able to say how unhappy and upset I was. I didn't even get emotional (which surprised me-and probably him). I told him that this loss was quite real to me. I didn't want to lash out at everyone. I needed him to know that he was the one I was angry with. He responded with understanding, but was a little defensive along the lines of..."I thought you'd rather have me alive than electrocuted."

Yeah, yeah, I would. But a sincere apology would be nice.

After I got home from the pool with the boys this evening and they were settled down for the night. Mark came and gave me a hug and told me he had gotten a frozen treat for me. It was in the freezer for whenever I wanted it. I was curious. I went down to the kitchen. And there in the plastic bag from the local supermarket was a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.

Mark has never done that before. I have never even eaten Ben & Jerry's before. It's way too expensive for our budget. Breyers (when its on sale) is as Ritzy as I ever get. He sheepishly said it was an "I'm Really Sorry" gift. He knew I would like chocolate. And it wasn't just any chocolate, he said quickly, it had extra chocolate in it. I gave him a hug and a kiss and told him, "Thank you."

Then I sat with a book and the pint of frozen yummyness and contemplated the nature of apologies. I have to say this is just about as good as it gets.

True, I didn't like losing my writing - and I hope it won't happen again anytime soon - and I didn't like feeling crabby and irritated for half of the day.

But in the end, I received validation, that yes, it was a loss. And yes, it hurt. And yes, he really was sorry that his mistake had caused me pain.

And the chocolate ice cream just put me in a good mood too.

So, for all you men out there who are in the dog house. Listen up! Chocolate and sincerity works just about every time.

Mindy Gledhill - Whole Wide World (Official Music Video)

This is just a "Happy-Making", Girl-Power song...and I love it.

It's not a harsh, 'hear me roar', song with an attitude. But it has a steady truthfulness...

I CAN do anything I put my mind to doing. If I need to take a break, I will, but I will still achieve my goal. Just you watch me.

I love how it showed girls, young women, women and more mature women. All beautiful and none fake.

It warmed me to see Stephanie Nielsen, who was featured in Mormon Messages about her recovery from being burned in an airplane crash, in the video. It has a few shots of her playing with her children. Also the girls on either side of the singer Mindy Gledhill, are Stephanie's daughters; the brunette with earmuffs and an mustard colored scarf and the redhead with a pink and grey striped scarf.

Don't we just need to hear that we are beautiful and strong and lovely and powerful.

I know I do.

So go on sister, run right up that hill, hold the whole wide world, take a chance, make your dreams come true! And do it with grace and a smile.

I will rest in you

I love this song, performed here by Mindy Gledhill.
It is a heartfelt plea at the beginning, asking for help, asking to be saved. But by the end, it is a quiet but firm declaration that whatever happens, I will depend upon my Savior. He has promised me safety. He has promised me peace.

We can rely on that assurance.

“For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Giving ALL to the Lord

This Past year, I thought I could give the Lord my All. He asked Mark & I to trust him. We did. He asked us to walk into the dark. We did.

We were sure that employment was just around the corner. If a corner is nine months, then yes, it was.

I went to the Lord when the savings was just about gone. He showed me where to go for assistance.

I calmly trusted when I only had a week's worth of food in the house. He brought a sister to my door with an abundance that fed us comfortably until we could obtain more.

I told the Lord the money was gone and there was a mortgage and bills to pay. And money would be put in my hand or Mark would have more work so that the meager paycheck was a little more. Just enough to pay the bills.

I told the Lord that the little part-time job Mark had wasn't going to pay for the winter bills. So, I received a call asking if I could work nights. Yes, I could.

I told the Lord that I was grateful and though Christmas was less than ever before, it really was enough. I was so glad to have a job and so many blessings. So he blessed us some more. Four deliveries were made to our doorstep Christmas Eve night. My family was overwhelmed to tears of gratitude. God's abundance was amazing. Another delivery of food was made by perfect strangers on Christmas morning. I was speechless at the goodness among my friends and community.

I was settling into the night job and beginning to get used to the routine when the Lord sent us an employment opportunity. It was a straw to grasp. It was hardly anything. But we reached out. Mark was overqualified. But another job was created for him, without interview or visit. Just on the strength of his resume, recommendations and a phone call.

I told the Lord how grateful I was for employment, even though it might mean moving.

It did mean moving.

I told the Lord I loved my house. Could he help me get it ready to sell?

Before I could put it on the market, there was an interested buyer.

I asked the Lord if he could help me get everything ready. I was so over whelmed with my husband out of state and my children in a state of emotional stress. What progress I made on the home seemed to be negated within hours or days. Quirky things kept happening, like sudden leaks two days before the home inspection. But somehow, it all worked out or got fixed, just in time.

Then we tried to find the right house in the new city. We looked and looked. Each house we found would have something wrong with it. When we settled on the house that had everything except charm, I was reluctant. When the home inspection came back with bad news, I felt relief to get out of it. But the Lord whispered that this was the right place. Darn!

When it was time to move, my heart was heavy. I told the Lord how sad I was to leave my precious, wonderful friends. I told him I hadn't had so many close friends in my life all at one time. It was so very hard.

So, when I moved into my new home, I was introduced to new neighbors of the same faith who met every day after school at the nearby park. I had friends that I felt comfortable with in less than a week.

Last week, I had a hard time. I kept looking at the un-beautiful exterior of my home and areas of unattractiveness inside of it. I held crying boys in my arms and yelled at ornery, naughty boys. I chased run-away boys at Walmart and searched for wandering boys in the park seven times. I stared at my manuscript on the computer and wondered why I wasn't feeling excited about writing as usual. I went to the temple and broke up fights for nearly six hours in the car. I asked the Lord why my life was so HARD.

I found a couple of scriptures this morning that helped remind me that I shouldn't run faster than I had strength and to pray always so I could come off conquerer. That was good and helped me get centered again.

But I was still feeling a little overwhelmed. I wondered what I could write about that was uplifting on my blog, when I felt so...powerless and burdened. Then, I remembered this scene from the movie, "Facing the Giants".

Yep, this has been my year of Death Crawling. I am carrying a seven-person family on my back. I never thought it would last for so long or be so hard.

I thought it would magically be over by now. I thought I could write, "Been there, Done that, Bought the T-Shirt." But its not finished. Maybe I've only reached the 50-yard line. I hope I've gotten farther than that. I hope this trial is closer to the 100-yard line. I want a little calm and rest in my life.

But I am learning, as I look back over my shoulder, that whatever task the Lord has asked me to do, he has made it possible to accomplish it and poured out blessings all along the way.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."

"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded me. For I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

"Trust in the Lord thy God and lean not unto thine own understanding."


Now, all I have to do is remember this tomorrow. :)