Monday, September 29, 2008

Reaching Higher

Saturday's LDS Women's conference provided much to think about. Julie Beck encouraged women to reach higher and do better. It seems that every time Sister Beck speaks some people take offense, but I found her remarks thoughtful and appropriate. In spite of what some critics say I don't think she was telling us to run faster or take on more projects. The message I received is one of encouragement to be the best we can be, to put spiritual goals ahead of worldly goals, choose to spend our time doing that which has the most lasting meaning, to appreciate beauty more, put in the time and effort to build better family relationships, and take time to refresh our own souls. I felt she understands the rushed, multi-tasking world we live in and chose to encourage us to reach higher and do better in those areas that matter most eternally.

Perhaps because of my own calling to work in the temple, I was particularly touched by Sister Allred's talk concerning temples and the importance of building temples, worshipping in temples, and honoring the covenants we make there. Barbara Thompson is a dear friend; we lived in the same ward for years, and she taught my daughters in Young Woman. I was thrilled with her message concerning the privilege which we have of being women, of being LDS women, and of belonging to Relief Society. President Uchtdorf rounded out the conference with a timely speech, encouraging women not to undervalue themselves or their efforts.

Perhaps it was the messages given at the conference or perhaps the fact that more than a year has passed since my family was last all together in one place, but I found myself feeling a little introspective as we got together for a "birthday party" honoring all of our August, September, October birthdays. We've gotten pretty good at quarterly birthday parties--no presents, just lots of food and fun. Talk turned to how much all of the grandchildren have grown, changes in our lives, and a bit of silliness. I found it a little difficult to think our oldest grandson is a senior this year and busy making plans for a mission and college. My daughters and I glanced out the window and saw that the teenage boys had discovered a little blue car in their much younger counsins' backyard that had been theirs when they were little. Perhaps they were feeling a little nostaligic for the past too because the twelve-year-old climbed in first and nearly got stuck trying to get back out. The fourteen-year-old said, "no way." He's the tallest of the three and has the lankiest build. The seventeen-year-old couldn't resist. He squeezed himself inside, then came the problem of getting out.

By the time he got out we were all laughing and instead of looking back we started making plans for our next family vacation. I think maybe that was the overall message I gained from the Women's conference; the past is full of pleasant memories, but it's the future I need to look forward to. There are more truths to learn, more service to perform, golden days with family ahead, and a few more books to write. The future is for reaching higher and doing more.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Whew! After being gone a week, there's been so much catching up to do, I've really been busy. Then too I managed to catch a cold as soon as I got back. I tackled laundrey first, but the weeds in my garden seemed to think they had a free rein to go wild while I was gone, so I'll be doing yard work tomorrow. I also came back to a couple hundred e-mails. Two days were spent at the temple. (I'm "on line" now which means I'm no longer a trainee). It's been fun to discover how many of my dear friends come to the temple. Unfortunately I don't have time to visit while there, but I love seeing you. Having my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson staying with us for a while consumes a lot of time too, but in a fun way.

Just one more week until The Ruby will be on bookstore shelves. I'll be doing a lot of signings too on conference weekend and on up to Christmas. I hope you'll come see me. The Ruby isn't my only book coming out next month. The Spirit of Christmas, co-authored by Michele Bell and Betsy Green will come out a week later.

A group of writers who became close friends formed a small group some years ago and have been a source of inspiration and support to each other ever since. We named ourselves after the V-formation made famous by wild geese who fly tremendous distances by taking turns being on the point and honking wildly to offer the leader support. If a goose is injured and unable to fly another goose will stay with it to offer support and comfort until it can fly again. Recently we decided to start a group blog named after our group. The first blog was posted today by Nancy Campbell Allen. I'll be next with a post tomorrow. Take a peek and tell us what you think.

Friday, September 19, 2008


We returned yesterday from the Washington DC area. We went there to help our daughter and son-in-law get ready for their move back to Utah and to bring our grandson back with us on the plane. While there we did a little sight-seeing. These first two pictures were taken at the Mary Serratt house where Mary's husband ran a tavern and she ran a boarding house. She was the first woman found guilty and executed in America. There's plenty of evidence to suggest she was a conspirator in Abraham Lincoln's death, but there are discrepencies too, which were not fully explored at the time. Defendants weren't even allowed to speak in their defense at that trial. Since this year is a year of female firsts with Hillary Clinton being the first real female contender for President and Sarah Pallin the first female Republican contender for VP, I found something sad in Mary's dubious honor as a "first" female.
George and Martha Washington had no children together, but Martha had children from an earlier marriage. This statue at Mount Vernon shows the first president and his wife with two of her grandchildren. Mount Vernon is more than a grand mansion; it's practically a village with all of the shops, housing, and businesses attached to the plantation. I especially liked the view from the back porch of the Potomoc River. My grandson posed with the Washington family statues. Though Washington was a slaveholder, he housed his slaves in comfortable quarters, kept families together, then freed them in his will. He even kept a nice house for the slaves of visitors so that his slaves wouldn't be inconvenienced.

Much is said about the devestation New York faced when the Twin Towers were hit by terrorists on nine-eleven. We even hear about the heroes who fought back and were lost in Pennsylvania, but not as much attention seems to be given to the passengers on the flight that struck the Pentagon or those who were at work in that busy military complex that day. We visited the recently completed memorial at the Pentagon and were deeply touched. Not all who lost their lives that day were military officers. There were children and families aboard the plane as well as the soldiers in the Pentagon of all ranks who were spending their lives defending freedom and liberty. In the background behind the memorial benches can be seen the Airforce memorial.
Our son-in-law, a hero of this generation, was injured by enemy action in Iraq and has spent two years recuperating. We're thrilled he's coming home, but hurt for the pain and memories he'll carry with him for the remainder of his life. Their little family will also carry with them painful memories of separation and fear, but they'll also have warm and wonderful memories of their two years in Washington and the generosity of the many Americans who arranged outings and special events for the wounded and their families. I want to thank you, all my friends, who have sent him good wishes, cheered me when I was down, and expressed your love and support for our family and our country.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Chapter Posted

Over on the Six LDS Writers and a Frog Blog, David Woolley expressed how difficult he finds plugging his own book to be. He went on to very cleverly paint an intriguing picture of Day of Remembrance. I share his sentiments about self-advertising, only I don't know any cute and clever way to overcome my reluctance to urge people to go out and buy The Ruby. Those of you who have been following this series are aware that the first book, The Bracelet, told the story of a young Regency era woman who sought to overcome betrayal and fear by stealing gems that she used to make up a priceless bracelet, only to discover her greatest treasure and source of protection didn't lie in glittering jewels. The second book, The Emerald, told the story of an emigrant fleeing injustice with her two small children, the discovery of a fortune in jewels, and the sacrifices she must make to reach the Rocky Mountain stronghold of the Saints. The Topaz picks up the story of one gem and a woman who didn't go West. The Ruby will finish the story as viewed by the daughter of one of the mobsters who attacked and murdered the Nauvoo Saints. Charlie Mae begins the story as an eleven-year-old child, a little girl who lives a hard life, and becomes a woman on a mule-drawn freight train headed for the California gold fields. This is a story of personal strength and a will to find a better life. It's a story of courage, back-breaking work, compassion, and more than one kind of love.
If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ruby, it is now posted on my web page at The book is scheduled to be released early in October and will be available at most LDS bookstores, some mainstream bookstores, and is available for advance orders through Deseret Book.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More About the Wedding

Pictures of the happy couple are below since I don't seem to be very good, or maybe I'm too tired, to get them in the right order. The first are of Ralph and Jean reciting their vows, then of them dancing. They were born to dance together. The wedding was beautiful followed by a catered dinner. Many friends and family members were there to support and congratulate them.

The drive home today started out in the rain, then the rain turned to snow. Lost Trail pass was beautiful, but a little worrisome in the snow, but we arrived home safely.

Montana Wedding

We had a beautiful drive to Montana on Friday, then on Saturday we visited the houses we once lived in then took a tour of the Daly Mansion, Marcus Daly's (Mining, timber, and horse racing giant) fabulous mansion built in the late 1800's or early 1900's. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but it was sort of an old wish come true. When we were children we frequently passed the mansion and dreamed of seeing the inside which is just as fabulous as we once imagined.