Tuesday 15 December 2020

Gifts for Christmas

There's nothing I can say about the past few months except that they've been hard and my heart hurts, not only for my own family but for the families of so many others throughout the world who have experienced pain and suffering in so many ways during 2020. This has been an unprecedented year of losses that few of us saw coming, and yet we've been expected to roll with the punches and do what we're told instead of being able to make many of our own decisions like we have in the past. This isn't about casting blame for things that cannot be changed. It's about acceptance and moving on with hope and love for others despite many setbacks and challenges.

My brother died the day after Thanksgiving. He was diagnosed with Covid on Sunday and left us on Friday morning right after the nurse at Good Samaritan read him the messages one of my sisters and I had sent to him a couple of days before. He didn't have a cell phone, and it wasn't always easy to reach someone at the nursing home who could get one to him, but we did the best we could to keep in touch. He'd been isolated from the other residents for months because he left the center three times a week for wound care. While his death was listed among those of dying with the virus, I believe it was simply his time to go return to his heavenly home and be with our parents and others who had watched over him throughout his life. In that respect, I can't be sorry because he is no longer in pain, but I will miss him so very much.

Many of you will remember seeing the picture of my family that I posted a few weeks ago. He's the happy, smiling boy in front with the withered right arm who has taught me more about overcoming adversity and living with joy than any other person I have ever known. I think I've mentioned his story a few times in the past, but I do believe that recalling a few of the things he's lived through is appropriate at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior who died while hanging on a cross for each of us so that we could repent of the things we do that our wrong and still return home to him.

Sandon was run over by a tandem disk when he was three. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a piece of farm equipment that loosens the soul so it can be planted in the spring. I was five and supposed to be watching him, but he somehow slipped away and tried to climb on the tractor behind daddy without being seen. The unthinkable happened, and when our father looked behind him after thinking he had run over a rock, he saw my brother's body wrapped in and out between the monstrous blades. With superhuman strength, he lifted the disk in one hand and pulled Sandon's lifeless body out with the other. 

My brother was in a coma for six weeks. When he came out of it, he was left with complete paralysis on the right side of his body and the accompanying brain damage that controlled many of his motor skills. He had to learn how to breath and talk again and spent his entire life trying to walk and do things like other kids did. He endured a dozen surgeries the doctors hoped would help, but it was the 1950s and 60s. He was the only person who had survived such an accident and physical therapy wasn't even a career choice back then. So my father, the doctors and other people they knew did the best they could to help him. I won't go into any of the details because it's a long, complicated story with so much pain and suffering. 

But my brother never gave up hope, and he never blamed anyone for what had happened. Even when our father died when he was 10, he tried to become the man of the house and did everything he could to make sure the rest of us were okay. He graduated from high school and eventually married and became the father of six beautiful children. But like so many of us, he lost his way for a time and ended up getting divorced. That led to some poor choices where he eventually fell into a fire pit and couldn't get out. The people he was with dropped him off in front of the emergency room doors and disappeared.  When I saw him in the burn center at the University of Utah hospital a few days later, his body was swollen to twice its normal size. (It took time for the police to figure out who he was because he had no identity with him.)  No one believed he would survive, but he did. He spent the last 12 years of his life in nursing home and eventually lost the ability to move around on his own. But what he didn't lose was an indomitable spirit that kept right on fighting until the end. He never complained and he brightened the days of other residents with his ready smile, quick wit and ability to love, even after all he had suffered by the hands of people who didn't understand that he was just like everyone else inside. He wanted to feel important and capable of doing things on his own. I wish I had even half of his courage.

I guess the real beauty of this season for me is knowing that God and my Savior live and death isn't the end for anyone. It's just the beginning of the next part of living. Although I'm not ready to start that part of my journey yet, I do look forward to seeing people who have gone before and made such an impact on my life. It will be a glorious reunion for all of us when we get to that point. That knowledge gives me hope for a much brighter future, even though the world is in extreme chaos right now.

I want to conclude with something I read this morning that brought home how important it is for each of us to look out for our neighbors even when going through tough times ourselves. I love thinking of ways to brighten other people's days. It makes mine feel a little less dark when the clouds appear and the sun is hidden from view for a few hours or days. My hope is that everyone is having a glorious Christmas season despite personal struggles. It is a glorious time to be alive.

I saw a cashier hand a little boy his money back at the mall, the boy couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 years old. The Cashier said, 'I'm sorry, but you don't have enough money to buy this doll.'' The little boy turned to the old woman next to him, ''Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?'' She replied, ''You know that you don't have enough money to buy this doll, my dear.'' Then she asked him to stay there for just 5 minutes while she went to look around. She left quickly. The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand. Finally, I walked toward him and I asked him who he wished to give this doll to. 'It's the doll that my sister loved most and wanted so much for Christmas. She was sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her.' I replied to him that maybe Santa Claus would bring it to her after all, and not to worry. But he replied to me sadly. 'No, Santa Claus can't bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mommy so that she can give it to my sister when she goes there.' His eyes were so sad while saying this, 'My Sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mommy is going to see God very soon too, so I thought that she could take the doll with her to give it to my sister.'' My heart nearly stopped. The little boy looked up at me and said, 'I told daddy to tell mommy not to go yet. I need her to wait until I come back from the mall.' Then he showed me a very nice photo of himself. He was laughing. He then told me 'I want mommy to take my picture with her so she won't forget me.' 'I love my mommy and I wish she didn't have to leave me, but daddy says that she has to go to be with my little sister.' Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes, very quietly. I quickly reached for my wallet and said to the boy. 'Suppose we check again, just in case you do have enough money for the doll!'' OK' he said, 'I hope I do have enough.' I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll and even some spare money. The little boy said, 'Thank you God for giving me enough money!' Then he looked at me and added, 'I asked last night before I went to sleep for God to make sure I had enough money to buy this doll, so that mommy could give it to my sister. He heard me!'' 'I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God for too much. But He gave me enough to buy the doll and a white rose.'' 'My mommy loves white roses.' A few minutes later, the old lady returned and I left with my basket. I finished my shopping in a totally different state of mind from when I started. I couldn't get the little boy out of my mind. Then I remembered a local newspaper article two days ago, which mentioned a drunk man in a truck, who hit a car occupied by a young woman and a little girl. The little girl died right away and the mother was left in a critical state. The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on the life-sustaining machine because the young woman would not be able to recover from the coma. Was this the family of the little boy? Two days after this encounter with the little boy I read in the newspaper that the young woman had passed away. I couldn't stop myself as I bought a bunch of white roses and I went to the funeral home where the body of the young woman was for people to see and make last wishes before her burial. She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest. I left the place, teary-eyed, feeling that my life had been changed forever. The love that the little boy had for his mother and his sister is still, to this day, hard to imagine, and in a fraction of a second, a drunk driver had taken all this away from him.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Give Thanks

It's been a hard year, and I believe most of us are ready to see it end. But it would be a shame to rush past one of the most important days of the year just because we're tired of the Coronavirus, wearing masks and social distancing, the election, riots and civil unrest and unprecedented fears for the future. That's why I really took to heart that challenge to spend the seven days before Thanksgiving flooding social media with some of things I am thankful for. Despite trials none of us want, our hearts should be filled with gratitude for the things we still have. That's why I'm going to share what I wrote with you. It took a couple of days to get the hang of it, but within 72 hours I was no longer viewing the world through such dim glasses. I felt hope return and my heart lighten. Maybe doing something similar will help you view life a little differently too. 

So glad people are taking the prophet's challenge to heart. Can't seem to get away from my computer even though there's plenty to do around the house. Love looking at pictures of family and friends I haven't seen for such a long time. Moving around is fun but has its drawbacks. Thanks for being such great examples and compassionate friends. #givethanks


Even though summer is gone until next year, I'm grateful for the love of gardening. I have 8 flowerbeds and a small vegetable garden in my yard and while my knees don't work as well as they used to I love digging in the soil and seeing the fruits of my labors. God has given us so much beauty to enjoy in the world. Each flower petal is an expression of his great love for us. #givethanks


Far too many miscarriages could have kept me from being a mother. But in his kindness and mercy, God gave me two precious children who would teach me about love, understanding and acceptance. They have become strong, compassionate adults who have survived some of life's greatest heartaches and biggest setbacks with courage and grace. I love reflecting on simpler times, like in this picture, when their faces were filled with nothing but smiles, hope and peace. I think most of us could use a little of that right now. I am so blessed to be their mother. #givethanks


This is the last picture I have of my father. He died a few days later from a massive heart attack leaving seven children alone. Not a day goes by when I do not feel the loss and often ponder how my life would have different had he not been called home. But I’ve come to the conclusion that blessings arise from even the worst life experiences. I’ve felt his arms around me offering support and comfort during times so painful I wasn’t sure the sun would ever shine again. And knowing he was watching over me kept me from making even more debilitating choices than I did. His death forced me to my knees so often that I began to understand my Heavenly Father’s existence and love more than I imaged possible. I didn’t have to see or feel a person to know he or she was there. Increased faith, hope, charity, understanding and love came because I lost my father as a child. Although I know he is waiting for me when my mortal journey is over, I’m not quite ready for that reunion yet. I feel there is still much for me to accomplish before I hear his deep, melodious voice again. #givethanks


What can I say about my two precious grandchildren except they are loved beyond anything else this life has to offer and the answer to so many prayers? Not being able to give life to a child was hard enough, but watching my daughter and daughter-in-law struggle with similar issue nearly broke my heart. I am so grateful for their perseverance in the face of so much heartache and so many tears. Their children are absolutely perfect, and the greatest gift God could have sent into our lives. I cherish each moment I get to spend with them. #givethanks


Strong, faithful, Christian women who sacrificed all they had for their families and what they believed in is the way I view my line of maternal grandmothers. I like looking into their faces and seeing certain physical characteristics emerge as I age. I also like contemplating what other things I inherited from each of them – my love of all things beautiful, my ability to bake edible bread, certain health issues, my abiding in faith in my Savior and my Heavenly Father, my strong allegiance to my country, my commitment to my family and my desire to be in the right place when my time on earth ends. I want all who come after me to feel the same way about our marvelous ancestors who helped make us who we are. #givethanks


It was often hard for me to rejoice in the talents that seemed to come so easily to others. I wanted to sing, dance, play sports, paint beautiful pictures, be outgoing and charismatic and do something truly meaningful with my life too. But I was an introverted child with a bad heart who seemed to lack many natural abilities. That’s why my Grandma Ririe became such an important part of my life. She saw something in me that was very easy to overlook – my love for the written word. She nurtured and guided me through my difficult teenage years, showing by example that it was okay to be different. She was a writer who only had one story published in the London Mystery Magazine, but she gave me the desire to pursue my fondest dream. She’s been gone since I was nineteen, but her outpouring of love helped me publish 14 books in the past five years. Those stories are snapshots of my life as I’ve come to see trials as blessings and tried to help others as she helped me. My greatest reward is seeing my own granddaughter follow in our footsteps. She has the ability to become truly great and wants to publish her own book before she turns thirteen. I am so proud of her. #givethanks 

Hope you have a truly beautiful Thanksgiving, even if you can't be with your families. I will be watching my son's two dogs so he can fix dinner for his father, his step-mother and her grandchildren who are afraid of them. I will fix dinner for us the day after. Stay safe and know you are loved.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Times of Uncertainty

Like so many Americans, I'm feeling a little unsettled today. Elections have a way of doing that, but the stakes have never been higher. In many ways, I feel like we're fighting for more than just the continued safety of our great nation that was founded on Christian principles with God at the helm. I feel like we're fighting for everything I've ever held dear, family, the right to express how I feel, worship the way I desire, work to build my own part of the American dream, protect the lives of the innocent, have the money I need to survive on as a senior citizen with a less than substantial income, not have history be rewritten or repeated and feel truly at peace in a world that seems to have lost any semblance of sanity. I applaud those who have been able to speak out in defense of the things they value and love in the face of severe criticism and even the loss of their lives. My tears are real as I feel the need to say goodbye to so much of what I remember about daily living. I never thought I would live to see so many prophesies being fulfilled at such a rapid rate.

But I know I can't give way to fear, regardless of what happens. The outcome of this election is not going to change who I am inside, how I feel about the things I value or the positive way I chose to conduct my life. I will still smile and talk to people I don't know, spend time with family and friends and pursue interests I find challenging and meaningful. I will listen to uplifting music, pray for those who need help and remember that we're all brothers and sisters created by the same loving God who cares for each of us equally. And I will find a way to be happy when I'm feeling down because I know who will win this war against good and evil, even if a few major battles are lost. 

There is a stone sitting on my deck. A craftsman cut an image of a father holding his son's hand onto the smoothly, polished surface.  Three simple words stand beside it - Expect a miracle. I still believe in them, regardless of the fact that so many of the ones I hoped for throughout my life never happened. For example, I kept believing that one of the babies I was trying to carry would survive until I was forced to have an emergency hysterectomy just weeks after having another miscarriage that now numbered in the teens. The doctor found eight tumors in my uterus that were in different stages towards malignancy. I never considered all of the ramifications back then. I was in too much pain. But sitting here today, I realize that had I carried that last baby it may have been too late to save my life from all the cancer that was growing inside. Maybe that tragic event had to happen so I could raise the two, beautiful children God had already sent to me in a different way. After all, I just wanted to be a mother, and that gift had not been denied. 

So you see, we don't always understand what miracles really are, or how each challenge we face will help us grow. I never thought I would survive after my mother blamed me for the accident that nearly claimed my brother's life. I was five and he was three. I was supposed to be watching him, but he still made it to the field and tried to climb on the tractor behind our father. He wasn't seen, and when the tractor lunged forward, the blades of the tandem disk ran over his body, pinning him to the ground. With superhuman strength, my father lifted the disk with one hand and pulled him out with the other. My little brother spent six weeks in a coma, and an entire life in pain because he remained partially paralyzed and could never do the things other people took for granted. But the positive influence, and the help he has given others, cannot be measured. I often wonder about the real miracle that was set in motion that heart-wrenching day. Maybe the accident could have been avoided, but at what cost to all the lives of the people involved? Not one of us has ever been bitter or angry enough to take out our frustrations or agony on anyone else.

We will survive the coming days, regardless of how hard and painful they might be, as long as we never lose sight of who is really in charge. God will not be mocked, and everything he has proclaimed will come to pass. If we want to remain on his side, we can't allow ourselves to be led away from what we believe. Nor can we stoop to some of the actions of others who think it's okay to harm, destroy or blame others simply because they have different opinions. We are in this together as a nation, and we will rise or fall together. I just hope we can all keep that in mind during the coming days when tempers flare, and we need to decide how we're going to react. Personally, I don't want to become anyone different than the woman I am today - unless it's learning how to be more like my Savior.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Second Thoughts

Like many of you, I've spent the past six months wondering how long this pandemic is going to last. So many lives have been disrupted by job loss, illness, depression, home schooling, lack of vacation time with families, trying to sort our priorities and yes, even the death of someone close. It's been a time of uncertainty for everyone, almost worldwide, and in many ways has brought us closer together as a human family because we are going through similar experiences at the same time. 

I keep reflecting on what it is I should be learning during this difficult and often frustrating time when so much of our lives have changed or come to a standstill. Being semi-retired, my daily routine has not changed as drastically as many. I get up each morning at the appointed time, check my blood sugar and then begin my day by reading from the scriptures and kneeling in prayer to ask for blessing upon the ill, the downtrodden, the sorrowful and unhappy and those making decisions that affect the quality of of our lives during the coming months and years. Then I try to find something constructive to do that will keep me away from so much of what is being broadcast on the news. Much of the time it is our most detrimental source of information because the facts reported are often less-than accurate and slanted in a way that purposefully misleads us into believing something that isn't true.

Since the weather has been nice, and there's been plenty of yard work and gardening to do, I haven't felt quite as oppressed by many of the imposed restrictions as some of my friends who, for various reasons, are not able to spend time outdoors on their own property where someone isn't telling them what they can and cannot do. I've had bumper crops of tomatoes, squash and pumpkins this year that I've been able to share with family and friends, and the flowers have been lovely. I thoroughly enjoy my morning hours outside before the temperature gets too hot. And regardless of the fact that I'm usually too exhausted to do much the rest of the day once I come inside, I  have the satisfaction of knowing that my yard will look good for a few days before I have to start the process of weeding and pruning again. 

That said, I still have hours when I feel unrest, uncertainty and a lack of motivation to do anything other than watch reruns of old television shows, eat junk food or stare at puzzle pieces for hours while trying to figure out how any of them go together. I take care of my granddaughter and her puppy as often as I can, make an occasional trip to the store and take care of personal business. But living alone, I often find myself starved for human interactions that can't really be felt through a text, and email or even a phone call. I long for the day when I can return to my two-day a week job serving others who are not able to do certain things for themselves.

I've looked at the numbers of Covid-19 cases and supposed deaths around the United States, especially in the state where I live, on a daily basis the past few months. I've even tried to understand the CDC's report where it was made abundantly clear that the numbers have been inflated and most people who get the virus will recover with little cause for concern. In my own state, 42 percent of the people who have died from the virus have been over the age of 85 and living in longterm care facility. Of the remaining 58 percent, most of those were still older than 65 with underlying health conditions. That's given me a lot to consider, while still following social distancing and mask regulations because I want to be a good citizen. 

I'm not overly fond of the idea of getting sick with anything. I have a number of underlying conditions and am over the age of 65. That puts me in a high risk category to begin with. But I still took a vacation to see my sister in Missouri and spend all the time with family that I can. I was thrilled when the restrictions were lifted enough that my granddaughter was able to go back to school 4 days a week - masks and social distancing rules still being applied. I hope that will happen for all of our children soon. So many of them are living in horrid conditions and school is the only place where they get enough to eat, feel safe and have someone they can talk to. But with the regular cold and flu season just beginning, I have my doubts about how long that will last. I may be trying to help my granddaughter navigate on-line learning again before much longer.

That's why I decided to share an open letter a doctor in Utah wrote a few days ago. I like to believe our country will soon be  healing from more than just a health pandemic, but it helped me realize that now is not the time to become less vigilant in keeping ourselves and those around us free from illness of every kind. I'm including it simply because it's food for thought and it helped clarify my perspective on what the next few months could be like for a great many of us. Hope your day is filled with sunshine and love.


A letter from Jon Darin Willardson (one of the ED physicians at American Fork Hospital ) he wrote this today for his neighbors and friends and is fine with it being shared if it will help spread awareness...

Hello Neighbors,

I don’t know if many of you know me. I am an emergency medicine physician at American Fork Hospital. I have tried to avoid getting on facebook for my own mental health during this Pandemic. I feel now obligated as one of your neighbors to say something. I am scared and don’t want you to get sick. Things are getting worse in our hospital. Last night I admitted a patient to the last available bed on the med/surg floor and another patient to the last available bed in the ICU. I had to transfer another patient to Utah Valley Hospital and the accepting physician wasn’t sure if he could accept my patient to the med/surg floor at first because there were no ICU beds available there. My patient was close to needing escalation to an ICU bed. The other doctor working with me had to transfer a patient to Timpanogos hospital which is our “competitor” hospital which we have only done previously for very rare unique circumstances. Our other option was to transfer the patient to St. George “Dixie” hospital.

Most of the patients that we are seeing in the ER do not have COVID-19 but a lot do. This illness is not a hoax. If you have not seen its adverse effects on someone personally yet, you will. One of our co-workers that also works as a paramedic and close to retirement is hospitalized now. His doctors are preparing the family as he likely is not going to survive. My patient last night was a previously very healthy 42 year old male that works as a contractor. He was not obese and didn’t have any significant comorbidities. He was swabbed for COVID-19 when I saw him 2 days ago for milder symptoms. It came back negative. Yesterday, he returned looking much worse with low oxygen levels and shortness of breath crying in agony from the other symptoms of body aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. I obtained a CT scan of his lungs and it showed the typical appearance of COVID-19 with the scattered patchiness throughout his whole lungs despite the negative test. Thankfully the illness does not make everyone this ill.

Recently our ER has had longer wait times that are not typical at all for this time of year. Yesterday the ER was full to capacity from 10 am to 1 am. The nurses and other staff members were overwhelmed. That is not a good time to be a patient. The quality of care is not the same despite all we can do.

I know that masks decrease the risk of infection. There has not been any staff that I am aware of that has become sick from contact with a patient in our ER since wearing regular masks for every patient and N-95 masks for known or suspected cases. I am so frustrated to see people blatantly ignore the recommendations to wear masks in public. I respect many of you in the neighborhood for who you are and what you do. I know there are some of you who think a lot of this pandemic is a hoax or not as severe as many in the medical community portray it to be. I do not want to make enemies in trying to correct misinformation. Nor do I have the time to compete with the amount of crazy ideas that come up in trying to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic. There is no valid excuse to not wear a mask in public to protect yourself and others. To do otherwise is selfish and irresponsible. I will refrain to use other words that accurately describe how uninformed and incorrect that belief is.

I hope you do not feel that what I am writing is for political reasons. To be transparent I like President Trump but strongly disagree with his attitude towards this pandemic. I do not want to shut down the country again. I want our kids to be able to go to school and to go trick-or-treating. I do not want to go to work and not have resources or room to treat people. Please try to do something more to help us decrease the spread of this virus.


Dr. J. Darin Willardson

Monday 28 September 2020

New Book and Other Things

Get ready to meet Rani Wade – a girl with an unenviable past who is about to embark on an unexpected journey in the mountains of Colorado. Due out as soon as the cover is ready, it joins Brylee, Reagan and Maya as a story of family, adventure, mystery, self-exploration and romance. All book are available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdvMembers of Kindle Unlimited can read all thirteen books already available for free.

I just wanted to tell everyone about what I've been doing the past few weeks to keep busy while most of us are still staying close to home. I did, however, take a trip back to Missouri to see family and friends the first two weeks in September. My brother-in-law will be having quadruple bypass surgery on Friday. It's going to be a rough operation since he also has leukemia and diabetes. But we're hopeful everything will be okay. If anyone feels like adding an extra prayer, it would be much appreciated. 

I saw my friend who is going trough Chemo. She was down to 78 pounds but was able to attend two shows with us and even go out to eat a couple of times. I marvel at her strength and optimism. I also learned that another friend, who just happens to be an incredibly talented performer, has been in the hospital for the past four months. His injuries were so severe that the doctor talked to his wife numerous times about pulling the plug. I want to share part of what she wrote as a way to let everyone know what was going on because it is such an example of love, hope and faith to me. 

I guess it mostly just helped me realize that no matter how down I sometimes feel, there are always people going through far more than I am. Maybe it will offer you some encouragement too. He's a remarkable man who made everyone in his audience feel important. That doesn't happen too often today. I'm leaving his name out of the narrative to help protect their privacy but felt the message was too powerful not to share.

"This year has been very challenging for our family, to say the least. I haven’t yet spoken out publicly about this but I am sharing this experience with you now, with my husband's blessing.

He has been in the hospital for 4 months and still has a very long way to go. He had a devastating fall in May while exiting the passenger side of someone’s vehicle and hitting his head on the road. He has endured so much, I almost don’t know where or how to begin, so here goes. From the fall he suffered his 2nd TBI, a brain bleed, acute subdural hematoma, which required brain surgery. A few days after, he became very ill with infection and required laparotomy surgery for ruptured colon and sepsis infection. About a week later they then discovered he had hydrocephalus which required a lumbar drain to relieve the pressure from fluid on his brain. 

Just when I couldn’t imagine it getting any worse for him, it did. He contracted Klebsiella pneumoniae meningitis - a rare bacterial meningitis acquired post neurosurgery, a deadly brain infection. 24 hours after this diagnosis the surgeons told me he would never wake up. He scored a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is the lowest and indicates brain death. I wouldn’t accept this, I insisted every day they give him more time to heal. His poor body had been through so much. Someone who has gone through so much, needed time to heal. I bought him time, as much as I could, and every day the surgeons would take me in the little private room across the hall and ask me again and again if I understood his prognosis. I did understand, but I was not letting him go. Something inside me told me that he was still in there somewhere. He has too many angels looking after him, and I knew they were there with him. So I waited and waited, and 2 1/2 weeks later he opened his eyes. 

He proved them wrong, all of them...the trauma team, the neuro team, the infectious disease team and palliative team. He is a fighter, he made it, he survived the worst! He was in a semiconscious state for a while, just a few wakeful moments each day. But gradually those wakeful moments became longer and longer. He was making progress, slow progress, but great progress. He finally was able to breath on his own without the ventilator, and they eventually capped his trach, and then removed it. 

A few weeks later they transferred him to a brain injury rehabilitation hospital. He is several hours away from home now which has been difficult, but he is in the best place for his psychological, cognitive and physical recovery. He was making progress and then recently had a big setback. He fell out of the hospital bed a week ago and has broken his hip/femur and needed another surgery. He has suffered so much, I can’t even comprehend all his body has endured. He has many challenges ahead of him. Learning basic life skills again. He is having great difficulty with his memory. He gets confused and cannot recall many memories or life events. He is working hard on this but the doctors aren’t certain how much it will improve. 

I’ve needed to stay strong and focus solely on his care and recovery, help our children cope and just try to make it through each day myself. My entire world has revolved around my husband, his medical care and advocating for him because he cannot. I’ve honored his wishes to maintain his privacy and our family’s privacy throughout. I took a break from social media the last several months and by doing this, some of my husband's fan base have criticized me for “not giving updates”. Well, what can I say, that is just sad. I can only endure so much, my family comes first and that has been my only focus. So posting on FB was not my priority, I hope you understand. I will fight to the end for my family. I’m doing my very best I can to care for and support my husband and our little family, to keep us together and keep us afloat. None of this has been an easy task. And to add to it, the burden of all the medical bills are piling up and we don't have medical insurance for a long term care facility which he will need next. So we are also facing this now.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who continue to pray for him and our family. I have gotten so many beautiful phone calls, voicemails and messages from friends, family and people who love and care for him and our family. I may not be able to return every call but please know I love and appreciate everyone’s prayers and support, and I also appreciate you all respecting our privacy as well. Thank you again to everyone who has reached out personally throughout this crisis. I am very grateful for your love for my husband and for our family. Please continue praying for him, your prayers are working.🏻

Love and thanks ..."

That's it, simple and heartfelt. It brought tears to my eyes just reading it and made me realize how little I really sacrifice for anyone else. It also made me more aware of the people around me and how much more I'm capable of doing if I just take the time. My prayers go out to anyone who is feeling sad, overwhelmed or simply stressed. Life isn't easy for any of us, but we can make it if we stick together and pay attention to others. That's what Christ would do if he was here.

Friday 7 August 2020

Teacher Fails Entire Class

 I just read this post on Facebook and felt it needed to be shared. It hit me hard and gave such an accurate account of what we will be facing if we don't fight a whole lot harder for all the freedoms that are being taken away from us as a Christian nation. 


An economics professor at a local college made a statement that she had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on this plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.
As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.
These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Something to Think About

Like so many people I have talked to the past few weeks, I am no loner able to sit through a newscast on television or listen to much the media has to say. The violence, unrest, destruction, hatred, mud-slinging, unreasonable demands and lack of truth has caused the tears to flow more than once. It makes me long for the days of my youth when children were taught to respect God, country and family. When a trip to the Five and Dime for a piece of penny candy was the highlight of the month and children could go to school where they said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, were not afraid to say a prayer before a ballgame or activity and learned about history so they would be less likely to repeat any of the bad stuff. And at home, they learned how to honor parents, work hard for what they wanted and respect everyone regardless of race, religion, social position, monetary assets or disabilities.

It seems like most everyone featured on the news today is in a free-fall state where rational thought has vanished and it's all about personal wants, civil disobedience and the desire to blame others instead of taking personal responsibility for anything. Every time I hear about another Christian value being threatened or taken away it make me feel great pain. I can't understand why anyone would harm someone else or destroy something of value that an individual, congregation or other group has sacrificed to build. And where in the world did all the taking offense to everything come from?

When I get on my knees and talk to my Heavenly Father about my blessings, my desires and my fears, I know he is in charge and things are progressing as prophesy has told from the beginning of this earth's creation. I try to understand how he feels as he watches the children he created go to such lengths to harm and destroy people they have never even met and who are not responsible for what happened in the past. And when I see a church in flames, a family whose business has been destroyed or a dead child being held his or her parent's arms because of some drive-by or intended shooting, I want to rent the air with sobs like people in some cultures do.

I look at the increasing number of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and plagues of every kind and realize just how close we are to the Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious time it will be to have Christ reign personally on the earth and have peace restored while Satan and all of his followers are in chains. I look forward to being part of that marvelous experience but am no longer sure I have what it takes experience everything that is coming from the mortal sphere without falling apart myself. My heart is too sensitive, but I have faith in God and know that the silent majority, who believe in the same truths  I do, will let their voices be heard and we will not lose everything of value.

That's why I try to look for and remember all the kind acts of love, heroism, unity, courage and faith that have influenced how I want to view life. I'm including one below because it still brings tears whenever I think about it.

My son and daughter-in-law had been through a very trying year. Her diagnosis of Melanoma Lymphoma, the surgery and treatment, along with the loss of the child they hoped to adopt had hit them hard. That was followed by continual worry about how they were going to pay the escalating medical bills on one income. Then my son lost the tip of his finger when it was slammed into the tool box of his truck at work. And there was the diagnosis that my young, adopted granddaughter - the one they hoped would not grow up as an only child - might need hip surgery to correct a genetic condition.

The week before Christmas, my daughter-in-law suffered a rare setback with her cancer treatment that caused her to forget how to read. Tests finally confirmed that it wasn't a stroke or the Melanoma traveling to her brain, but a disconnect commonly known as cancer brain. With proper care, it was believed it would correct itself and not happen again. But life was determined to throw another irritation at them, followed by an unexpected blessing.

The early winter of 2014 began with a news report of an altercation with a white police officer in St. Louis that caused the unfortunate death of a young, blank man. The incident, not unlike what happened a few weeks ago, was fueled by politicians and the media into a scene of carnage and death instead of taking time for the justice system to do its job. Demonstrators took to the streets and left in their path burning, looting, death and destruction of every kind around the community. The fallout headlined the news for months, leaving many people to wonder if the Christmas season would still bring out the Christlike love that was supposed to exist.

The night following my daughter-in-last most recent setback was spent at her parents celebrating a nephew's birthday. When they they returned to their home a few hours later, they discovered that their snowblower had been stolen from their carport. My son's call to the police station brought a lovely, black, female officer to their front door to take their statement. She was more than sympathetic, but assured them that the snowblower would most likely never be recovered. They lived in a poorer section of Layton, Utah where thefts were common due to the number of drug addicts wanting a fix but not having the money to get one.

It was a setback since a major snow storm was expected to hit the area on Christmas Eve, but my son was determined not to let the loss upset the holidays because of the outpouring of love, help and support they had already received from family and friends during the previous months. He knew their resources were limited but decided he was going to do something special anyway. So when he went to the grocery store after work to pick up a few of the things they needed, he purchased a twenty-five dollar gift card and handed it to the person standing behind him, along the wish for a very special Christmas. He didn't immediately tell his wife what he had done, fearing her initial reaction. But he needn't have worried for she had her own story to tell.

The police officer who had taken their statement had returned while he was gone to see if they had been able to find the serial number of the snowblower in case one was recovered. They hadn't, but my daughter-in-law proceeded to tell her that they could live without it because her husband was healthy and strong and could continue shoveling their driveway and sidewalk, along with many of their neighbors on the street, as he had always done. But she'd wanted him to have it because he'd taken over almost every responsibility at home, along with working fulltime, during the months of her recovery. Due to the location of the cancer, her arm wouldn't allow her to do much.

In due time, both of their stories were told, but they were unprepared for what happened the morning before Christmas Day. When my son opened the front door to run a few last minute errands, he saw a different snowblower sitting on the front step with a note attached to it. In part, it said that the giver hoped this gift would add to their day, but to make sure they locked it up security where no one else could steal it.

What tears of joy this Christmas gift from a loving, protector of people's rights brought. This caring police officer who belonged to a profession that had been blasted as undertrained, racists and deserving of whatever they got had chosen to live by a higher law that proclaimed all men, women and children were equal. Her Christlike love, compassion and service will never be forgotten by the family and friends her selfless gift has honored. May her joy be great, her life long, and her thoughtfulness remembered by God above who will always know what is in her heart. And may we be as compassionate and understanding through these unprecedented days of sorrow and unrest as she was back them. That's what living in this country and this world should be all about.

Sunday 12 July 2020

Nature of Adversity

I doubt anyone appreciates how extensively human life has been thrown in turmoil, uncertainty and a sense of loss the past few months. I've certainly spent my share of days in a sort of numb awareness that has left me with little incentive, or even desire, to push forward with the zeal of the past. Energy has been at an all-time low and anxiety has been hard to suppress. My heart goes out to anyone who is feeling the same emotional stressors. I especially feel compassion and sorrow for all the children who have not been able to attend school where they can grow mentally, psychologically, socially or perhaps even physically during these days when most everyone is just waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I understand that no home life is perfect, many children are in more danger there than anyplace else. What happens to them will not even magnify itself until life gets back to a normalcy they can relate to. My biggest fear is that not all of them will be able to readjust because they were in such a fragile place when the chaos started.

My granddaughter, who will be 12 in September, spent the weekend with me. She's no longer interested in playing simple board games or watching Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake movies. She's also moved passed being able to spend hours playing with the dolls I've so painstaking created entire wardrobes for, or even the Shopkins' village and dolls that used to get me through hours of delightful time spent doing the things she loved. She no longer feels the need to snuggle up by my side while we read stories or watch movies designed for teens. She's even grown past the need to sleep with me at night. All that's perfectly normal and healthy for a preteen who is now more into friends, a cell phone, (And yes, I think she is way too young for internet access given what can be found on it.) writing stories, fixing her hair, playing games like Mindcraft, listening to her kind of music, spending time with her puppy and generally being a little moody.

But she still loves to talk, and I love to listen because I know she will tell me what is really bothering her if I don't shut her down too soon. She's very confused because she doesn't understand what happened to her usual life with school, church, specialized activities and the freedom to come and go as she wants without being afraid. In many ways, she's not like other children. She has social anxiety, along with several other disorders, that makes it hard for her to relate to other people, keep friends for an extended period of time, wear certain types of clothing, eat various kinds of foods, keep her emotions in check or even feel success at school because she can't sit still. Nonetheless, she wants to return to the classroom but knows she can't study and be around other people if she has to wear a mask. And  her parents can't homeschool, even if they felt they had the skills, because they both have to work to provide the necessities of life. It's quite a dilemma for a child to face.

That said, she's stuck in a place she doesn't want to be and is afraid Covid-19 and all the protesting, looting, destruction and murders of innocent people in the name of justice will never end. She's afraid of dying and not being able to accomplish the things she'd like to do. I can't say that I blame her. The effects of what has been happening the past few months will take years to mend and bring to the forefront issues we haven't even considered yet. I've gotten to a point where I can no longer listen to, or watch, mainline media news programming. It is completely slanted and takes away the spirit of peace, love for others and hope that makes my life worth living. While I doubt we will lose everything we value, so many of our freedoms have already been erased. I stand for God, country, family, peace, liberty and all the virtues and principles the Savior taught. I want to do my part in furthering his work. His second coming will be a glorious experience for those who survive the final destruction of a world that had chosen to forget who created it, and us, in the first place.

Along with general anxiety and not knowing what to do to help improve the situation because each word or action can be taken wrong, I have been going through a few minor difficulties of my own. I gave myself a mild concussion while gardening a few weeks ago. Talk about a massive headache that wouldn't go away! I had been working outside for over 4 hours and had just finished mowing the lawn. As I often do, I was spreading the cut clippings around my plants in the garden. It helps fertilize and keep the weeds down. Well, I had my arms filled and wasn't watching where I was going. My toe caught on something, and I reached for the closest object to keep from falling - a wire tomato cage. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened next because those cages cannot support a human's weight. With my arms flailing in the air and the grass clippings flying, I went down, and it wasn't a soft fall. I broke off part of the tomato plant and bent the round cage into almost parallel lines. But it didn't stop there. The side of my face struck the upright boards that separated the strawberries from the rest of my garden. The crack was hard, the pain dizzying, but I didn't lose consciousness. Fortunately, I didn't mess up my eye or break my jaw as could so easily have happened.

When I finally got to my feet, there wasn't a part of my head that didn't hurt and the goose egg on my cheekbone quadrupled during the next few hours. It took several days for all the bruises to appear and several weeks before I could think straight again. I was just starting to feel like myself when I got up on Thursday morning of this past week and couldn't stand up without pain. I don't know what I did to my left knee, but I still can't lift my foot over two inches off the floor without incredible agony. But I'm determined to get through this latest setback, like I did with my head, without seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, the fun just keeps coming. When I woke up this morning, both of my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was having a sever allergic reaction to something. They look like two, tiny slits in my face. On the bright side, my garden is flourishing.  I've been given summer squash and cucumbers away, and it looks like I'll have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year. I'll be picking beans and peas in the next couple of weeks.

But even with the minor adversities I've had to endure recently, I know I've been blessed. I have a dear friend in Branson, Missouri who couldn't go back to work because of the virus, and then her boss decided to shut down his entire theater. The place where she was living was part of her salary, so she lost both her home and her job in one day. She has no family, no reserve income, no insurance and no prospects for work. She finally found a friend who would let her live in a room in the motel she ran. So my friend boxed up what she most treasured and put it in storage. She left everything else for whomever decided to take it. The week she moved into the motel room, she ended up in the hospital hardly able to breathe. It wasn't Covid-19, but she had fluid in her lungs among other things.

Once the doctor got enough fluid out, he found a huge, inoperable lump in her chest - not breast cancer - but cancer nonetheless. When she called me from the hospital, where she was still trying to recover from the first illness, to tell me what she'd just learned she was rightfully distressed. She felt she had nothing left to live for. I gave her what encouragement I could from a distance and she started chemo therapy. (I haven't been through that, but I have family members and friends who have.) When I talked to her a couple of day ago, her hair was falling out and the doctor wanted to add something more to the cocktail she was getting. She's back in her motel room now with a few friends around who are willing to bring her food. The manager took out one of the beds and put in a couch so it would feel more like home, and one of her friends took her to church last Sunday. She said it was where she needed to be. She has an uphill battle ahead, but for now, she's still fighting.

The above are just three examples of adversity that may, or may not, relate to what you are going through right now. The challenges we'll have put in our paths will be different, but with God's help we'll make it through, regardless of the outcome. I trust my Heavenly Father. I always have, even during times when I thought I couldn't go on. But I have to believe that no matter the difficulty, there is a way to survive and even thrive. There is definitely something to learn. My heart is filled with gratitude for people who do so many unselfish things for me and who allow me to do what I can in return. We are all God's children. There should be no division between us. When we meet our maker again, whether or not we believe we have one, there will be an accountability. I want to be standing where I should be when that time comes.

Thursday 11 June 2020

Still Struggling

Like most everyone I know, I'm still trying to come to terms with all that's been happening throughout the world the past few months. I may not be very outgoing, but I'm generally an upbeat and positive person who feels peaceful inside because I know who I am, why I am here, and where I will be going when this mortal experience is over. I feel calm and basically in charge of my own destiny because I know how to make difficult decisions, stand by myself if necessary and move on after debilitating experiences. I like to look for the good in others, praise accomplishments and mourn with those who are in pain.

But I'm beginning to see life through a different color of lens and that frightens me. I listen to a few minutes of local news, but I'm tired of letting the national media, that is owned and operated by powerful entities with their own agendas, tell me what to think about and how I should react to what is being covered. I taught journalism and radio and television production for twenty years and know the power of the media when it comes to influencing the daily lives of the people it's supposed to represent. While I believe that most of the newscasters are trying to do their jobs in an honorable way, I also know that they are being told which stories to air and which ones to avid. That gives the public a very slanted view of what is really going on in our world. As consumers of information, we shouldn't be afraid to look at alternate sources of enlightenment. Violence, unrest, injustice and everything reprehensible will always propel the news, but that's only because society has become so desensitized that only something truly awful will capture our interest.

That said, I feel genuine sorrow for all people have lost through illness, death, livelihoods, injustice and the downright diabolical intents of people who believe they can get away with anything. But mostly, I remain silent because far too many individuals are blasting out, protesting, and rioting against people and situations before the entire story is known. We do have a right to be heard, but we also have the responsibility to do so lawfully and with all the facts. Too much damage is being done to the masses who have yet to make their wishes and desires known.  My belief is that a hatred, violence and demands made in moments of heated arousal will not solve anything. Only linking arms and moving forward in unity and love for everyone will bring about the the kind of change that will help our planet survive for a few more years. That takes time, the ability to listen and sort through information and the resolve to stay the course of liberty and justice for ALL when things get tough.

I finally got to attend church for the first time in almost three months on Sunday. In some ways, it was a very different experience because things were done differently to help protect others. It was hard wearing a mask and not being able to sit by, or converse more openly with, people I've known and loved for a number of years. But I needed the strength that came from worshiping with others and renewing covenants I had made with my Savior. What a tragedy it would be if we allowed any more of the freedoms our founding fathers worked so hard to protect to be lost. That's so important during an election year when the public will decided which of the men and women running for local, state and federal offices will best represent personal beliefs, wants and desires.

America has always been the land of the free, but I have no doubt that forces are at work to destroy what most of us have always taken for granted. I've been watching the latest developments of the DayBell and Vallow case that has unfolded the past few days just two houses away from where I raised my children in Salem, Idaho. How two people could be responsible for the deaths of a brother, a former husband, a wife and two innocent children is beyond my ability to comprehend, but it is just another proof that evil is rampant everywhere and we need to remember that our country was founded under God's direction. Without his guidance and protection, we will lose what others have given their all to protect. My message right now is for each of us to decide where we stand, how much of what we're being told we're willing accept, and what we're willing to do to preserve the freedoms we love. Someday, each of us will account for the part we played in what was going on around us.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Down Days

I was having one of those days yesterday when introspection became too much. I've been having a lot of those lately. I suppose many of you have been feeling the same way. Listening to the news and feeling so helpless and out-of-control can have a negative effect on most anyone. So I decided to try a technique I have not used for a long time to see if I could get the root of my troubles. They include no energy, inability to focus, lack of interest in much of anything besides chocolate, the need to berate myself for everything I do and the desire to take a nap most every day. That's not like me, but times are different right now, and as members of a global society we've been forced to think about things that have never been part of our lives before. I decided to share what I learned because I don't have what it takes to do anything more useful than that right now.

I went to the dentist this morning with a toothache. After an hour in the chair trying to do a root canal, the dentist figured out that the tooth had cracked close to the roots and would have to be removed. After close to thirty shots in my very sensitive mouth because my tooth refused to deaden, he finally got it out two hours later. Since I can't afford implants it's another partial bridge for me. Maybe this will help with the diet I've been considering for the past five years because now I will have one bridge on each side and they make eating many foods impossible. I just took my first pain pill and will start taking the antibiotic when I can drink something more than water.

We all have fun experiences like that make us glad we have dentists who can help, even if it's one of the last places we ever want to be. Anyway, back to why I decided to write something today. I think I've mentioned a type of therapy where a person writes what the problem is with the dominant hand and then answers it with the non-dominant one. Any part of the inner self can be addressed: spiritual self, inner child, childhood friend. You just need to figure out who might have the answer because everything we need to now about ourselves is there. We just have to learn how to access the information. If you think it all sounds silly, that's okay. I'm only sharing because it works for me. It's a little tricky to read what I've written with my left hand, but it's manageable and has taught me a lot.

Here's how I began. Sometime I have to be a little blunt to get the process going: Dear Inner Self, I don't know where all the anger, self-loathing and lack of focus is coming from. I've tried so hard to stay closer to God, but I seem to have hit a roadblock that is dragging all the life and energy out of me. I can't write. I'm tired all the time. I have nothing to look forward to, and I have no idea what value I am to anyone. I need clarity to move forward. What is driving me to hate myself so much and not be able to see any good? I can't even rejoice over other's success or open my heart to anyone in pain. I seem to have forgotten who I am, and I'm scared of never feeling peace again. What is wrong with me and what can I do to change?

My answer, and it was very difficult to read: Stop punishing yourself for things beyond your control. Most everyone is feeling the same right now. Satan's forces are moving around at lightening speed, and they want you to feel helpless, alone and afraid. They know all your thoughts are turned inward and you won't have the energy to oppose their subtle suggestions. Nor will you have the strength to do any good. Few people produce real change or become truly extraordinary. They only live and let live and do all the positive they can. They feel content with the small beauties God has provided - sun, flowers, family and a few loyal friends. They feel all the raw emotions that come with being human, and most of them aren't noble or endearing to the masses. Pain is real and so is self-doubt. The adventure is to work through it and regroup when you get to the other side. Triggers to negative thoughts can't always be determined, but the pain can be eased if acknowledged and accepted. It doesn't mean a person is bad, just human. 

Accept God's love, mercy and compassion. Know he is real. Let him help shoulder your burdens when  you no longer have the strength left. In another week, month or year you will be on track again and perhaps even understand. But don't beat yourself up if you don't. Just try to do one thing each day that helps you serve or connect to others. Love yourself, and even if you are feeling really down make yourself smile and then listen to or do something that makes you happy. Count your blessings and not your flaws. Understand that this experience isn't the real you. It is just something that is happening to you and will go away if you allow yourself to grieve, scream, cry or even throw something invaluable if you have to. But never give up. Brighter days will come. Anger will recede. You'll start moving around with more purpose, peace will fill your soul and you will feel happy and worthwhile again.

That's it. Some of the thoughts are disjoined but they make sense to me, and the exercise helped. I feel much more positive today. That said, I'm no therapist. I'm simply a suffering member of the human race and know that everyone needs a little help at times. That's why I try to stay connected to all the parts of me. I especially enjoy getting to know the little girl inside. She's quite delightful with a witty edge who isn't afraid to tell me what she really thinks. I wish she would come out to play more often. I miss her and want to be more like she is again.

But it's time to start another disagreeable project. I have a leak in the water facet inside the wall in my basement and have to find a plumber who won't try to overcharge me. I may be a woman alone who isn't supposed to know anything, but I have learned a few things over the years. Hope you've had a tranquil and productive day. The pain killer I took for my tooth a couple of hours ago is really doing its job. I'm not feeling much of anything. Maybe I'll close my eyes for a few minutes before finding something nutritious to drink. No solids for the next day or two.

Thursday 21 May 2020

My way to say Thank You

Need a break from your new reality? Three FREE books from family, adventure and romance author JS Ririe available Thursday, Friday and Saturday - May 21, 22 and 23 at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv.

     I know these past few months have been hard for all of us. I've certainly gone through my own share of feeling unable to move forward, but it's nice to know that life is staring to feel more normal again, and I wanted to do something to celebrate. That's why I'm hosting my biggest giveaway yet. Join Brylee Hawkins in Indecision’s FlameLost and Exposed (Kindle version) as she returns to her childhood home in the wild Australian Outback to confront her estranged father about the part he played in destroying her life. Standing face to face, she soon discovers that the painful truth she has clung to was not an actual depiction of events as they transpired. Her story will provide hours of relaxation, rejuvenation and a little soulful insight.
     And don’t forget that the conclusion to the Reagan Sinclair, FBI saga - Welcome Redemption - is now available. It was quite a challenge to write, but I'm happy with the results and the beautiful cover. You'll have to check it out on my website and let me know what you think. I'd also love to hear any stories you may have about true heroism during this strange time. I know I've seen some awe inspiring examples.
     All my books are suitable for teens and available for free to members of Kindle Unlimited. Happy reading everyone and may the joy return to your hearts!

Tuesday 12 May 2020

New Beginnings

I've been leaving my home the past couple of weeks. I haven't gone far - but it's been enough to see how much the world I've become accustomed to has changed the past few months. I planned carefully for my first excursion into what seemed like a great abyss beyond the four walls of my home and the yard I have been so carefully tending. I've been watching the news like everyone else, trying to weigh what I was being told, and promising myself that I would do whatever the people in charge thought was prudent so I wouldn't become part of the problem. I counted down the days until my prescriptions ran out, sewed a number of masks from heavy flannel left over from baby quilts and doll clothes I had been making for my granddaughter, and then got up before dawn the last Tuesday morning in April so I could make it to Walmart during the time specified for seniors. The sun was just starting to rise beyond the horizon when I pulled into the parking lot and put on the uncomfortable and unaccustomed mask we had been told to wear.  I wanted to be brave enough to enter the building without it, but after seven weeks of staying at home because of age and underlying health conditions, I decided to remain cautious.

I was met at the entrance to the building by a young man in a similar mask who asked if I was over sixty. When I told him I was, he stepped aside and let me enter. Few people were in the store, but I still hurried to the pharmacy and picked up what I had come for. Then I walked up and down a few of the aisles, often missing the arrows that told me which way I was supposed to be going, and began filling my cart with some of the things I had run out of during the weeks I had refrained from shopping. I felt moments of alarm when some of the items I needed were already gone and felt as if I was part of some horror movie when others looked away or ducked their heads instead of saying something welcoming and friendly like they usually did. I kept asking myself why something we were supposed to be in together was pulling us so far apart. By the time I left, I was nearly in tears. This wasn't the world I had known before, and I didn't want to live like this.

I know many of you have felt the same way as you've struggled to make sense of an almost unbelievable situation that has brought so much sorrow, concern and near terror and has plunged the economy of numerous countries into a downward spiral that won't be easy to stop or restore. It isn't fun to step from the known and acceptable into the turmoil we now face as members of the human race, but it can be done once step at a time. I discovered that for myself as I went to Walmart for a second time last week and then branched out by going to a local market. I spoke to everyone who would look at me, even though I could scarcely breathe through the cumbersome mask and my glasses were a little foggy. I knew I couldn't do anything to stop what was happening, but I couldn't let fear, doubt and uncertainty control me any longer. I could still brighten someone's day by being kind and cheerful and letting them know that I appreciated the service they were willing to give.

Perplexing questions still fill my mind, but I feel more confident about getting on with my life now. The valves underneath the sink in my guest bathroom began to leak - saturating every towel and roll of toilet paper I had stored underneath the cabinet - before I realized what was happening. I took pictures of the the problem and went to Lowe's to get what I needed so my son could fix the problem last Friday. I even went back the next day to get a cap so the pipe in the basement wall would quit dripping, and today I went to see the doctor for my semi-annual checkup. Those may sound like simple things, but sometimes baby steps are all we can take when trying to move into a new reality.  It isn't easy to be interrogated upon entering a building, have your temperature taken, or be given a mask to wear if you don't already have one, but most of the people making the rules are simply doing the best they can to help protect others. I believe everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions, but I choose to look out for the people around me. I know I'm not contagious, but the severity of my allergies can raise a few eyebrows when I cough, sneeze or blow my nose. I don't want anyone feeling unsafe around me.

But through all of this, the greatest changes for me have come from within as I've spent additional time reflecting on what is most important in my life: family, faith, friends, a work to do that has value, discovering more about my posterity and listening with real intent to others. I've learned to rely on God and my Savior to give clarity to unanswerable questions.  I've experienced the solace and peace of mind that comes with additional prayer, scripture study and filling my home with uplifting music. I've spent more time working in my yard, putting scrapbook pages together and taking care of mending that never gets done. I've looked for ways I can reach out to others who might need someone to lean on. I've baked treats for others, made it a point to speak to every neighbor when I see them and try to reflect on what Christ would do if he was walking in my shoes.

I don't know what the future is going to bring. It might be different from anything we have known before, but that shouldn't stop us from loving and caring for each other. Even if it is awkward and uncomfortable since we're supposed to be practicing social distancing, we still need to be friendly, kind, patient and accommodating when we can. The part I play in this world may be small, but I intend to do what I can to make it a better place. I can hardly wait until congregations can worship together again, children can return to school and so many people no longer have to worry about going hungry, losing their homes or their lives or being afraid. I know God is with those of us who turn to him. His arms are ever open to help and guide us, and he will bring peace of mind and daily protection from things that will bring us harm. A little soulful reflection can be a very good thing.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Welcome Redemption

WELCOME REDEMPTION!!! After months of intense work, I am more than thrilled to announce the conclusion of Reagan Sinclair’s story in both print and digital format at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv It’s probably been the hardest book I’ve ever written but also the most insightful. I’m sure part of that has to do with the struggles we’ve all been having the past few weeks worrying about things that have never been considered before. I hope this story helps you feel less alone and more hopeful as you read about one woman’s struggle to overcome hardships she never anticipated. I feel rather odd releasing it during such a troubling time but can only say that it's been my lifeline the past few weeks spending hours each day rewriting, modifying and editing the story so it would be a fitting conclusion to her story about life, loss, joy, decisions and moving forward during times of trials and overwhelming feelings of helplessness. 

I’ve felt that way so often the past few weeks as I've been homebound with too much time to think. I finally had to limit my watching the news to an hour or less a day. It's too easy to get caught up in things that only God can control right now, and it's made me value my trust and faith in his goodness, protection and love more than ever. Despite being physically separated from the people I love, it's made me think more about them and how I can reach out with words of encouragement and support. I was cleaning a closet yesterday - something I really have to be down to do - and came across a box of photos and other assorted things that caused me to reflect on people who have been gone for many years. I searched my mind for everything I could remember about them, even something so silly as the color of the house they lived in, what they liked to eat or the fact that one of them drove down a busy San Francisco street on Sunday on her way to a card game with two of her grand-nieces in the back seat. I was young and one of them.

I decided I would take a little time to put together a sort of scrapbook with pictures and what I could remember about the people in them written  down. I'm not artistic that way, but I know that once I'm gone no one in my family will know anything about them. What I remember is limited, but it's the only thing I have left to offer them. I'm so grateful for the gifts they gave to me about being strong in the face of adversity and committing with all they had to what they valued most. My great grandparent's on my mother's, mother's side were sent to eastern Idaho to help colonize the area. They lived in a dugout in the side of the mountain with only a heavy tarp hung in front of the entrance to keep the cold, wind, rain and snow out for many months until they were able to construct a log home with no electricity or plumbing. I'm not sure I could have done it.

Perhaps part of the sadness I feel comes from losing a very dear friend to Covid-19 last month. We might all be in this together, but we have very different parts to play. Mine might only be to stay at home so I won't become part of the problem, but I can use that time more wisely. I'm so glad the weather has finally warmed up. I've spent over 4 hours each of the past 4 days working in my yard edging flowerbeds, pulling weeds, mowing lawn and all the other things that have to do with helping the world reawaken in the spring. There's tons more to do, but I love to see new growth as I greet each day. It helps me remember that we are not alone. Our lives are meant to be filled with purpose, joy and hope. I want mine to reflect something more than being upset over things I cannot change. I pray for everyone throughout the world who is struggling right now and give daily thanks for those who are sacrificing so much in keeping commitments they have made to careers that put them in a place of danger. May God bless each of you and your precious families as you meet each new day with the courage, faith and determination to make it count. And if you'd like to read something that will help you forget about your struggles for a few minutes, I'd love to read your comments about any of the books I've written. They may not be perfect, but they are from my heart. Those with Kindle Unlimited can read anything I've written for free. Stay safe today and know you are loved.

Friday 27 March 2020

A New Nomal

I haven’t written anything the past few weeks. Like so many of you with age and health-related conditions that plunge me right into the highest risk group, I’ve felt completely inadequate, and even a little selfish, just staying in my home so I won’t become part of the problem. I listen to the news and pray for others who have medical knowledge and are putting their lives on the line to help those who have become infected. I marvel at the bravery and selflessness of first responders, truck drivers, government officials, church leaders and people still working in stores, restaurants, pharmacies and industry so our lives can go on in what has been termed a new kind of normal. They are providing the necessities of life to those who are trying to follow the rules and guidelines so this terrible virus can reach its peak and subside. I look in awe at others who are finding creative ways to help and keep in contact with family, neighbors and friends and wish I was more of an extrovert who had invited additional people into my life before this whole thing began. I feel sorrow and concern for those who are unemployed or have lost loved ones.

It is a scary and depressing situation. People are going through an unprecedented range of emotions, but there is no one person to blame. I keep praying for insight and the ability to know what I can do to help as I paint walls, polish floors and clean out cupboards as a way to keep my mind from wandering or spending too much time glued to one of our many forms of technology. Nothing happened until a few minutes ago when I was working on the last few chapters of my next book. As I was trying to set my main characters up for the grand finale of the entire series, I began to see that what I was writing had direct relevance for me. Maybe right now isn’t my time to shine or become anyone’s hero. Maybe I’m supposed to be taking these days and weeks to discover who I am at present and what it will take for me to become the woman God intended for me to be all along. I’ve always resisted moving out of my comfort zone unless something forced me to do so.

We are just seeing the first wave of the destruction this pandemic is going to bring. But becoming overly discouraged, fearing the future or shouting out our beliefs about injustice and who is making what mistakes isn’t going to help. It’s time to face both our strengths and our weaknesses and decide what we’re able and willing to do once all the bans have been lifted. Who will require our help then, and what can we be doing now to prepare to meet those needs? It will be an individual decision for each of us. But regardless of what others may be lacking, and our inability to help others - even then - we can always offer hope, love and friendship.

And when we are feeling weak, we can look into the faultless, blue sky when it isn’t raining and know that we are not alone. God will bring us through this a stronger and more compassionate people if we put our trust in Him. Quiet acts of kindness, and the willingness to put our own needs aside as we look into someone else’s heart, will get us through the difficult days that still lay ahead. I hope I will be ready when the time for the kind of service I can give comes again. What about you?