Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Struggle is Real

By Lisa Rector

I’ve been dealing with several different health problems this year, and I’m about crushed with exhaustion. Having health issues is very isolating and often people don’t understand. But I do. I haven’t really been questioning why, but more really, how much longer can I endure? 

I have many moments when I have felt God’s help, and it has been humbling. I don’t blame him, and I’m not angry at him, but I’m frustrated. I’m putting forth so much effort every day just to stay mobile, and it’s tiring. I have felt the spirit guiding me with things I need to do to help myself. There are some areas where I had to give up things, and this leaves a lot of guilt, so I am trying not to be too hard on myself. 

A sister missionary said in church one Sunday that she always says the phrase, “The struggle is real,” but conference helped her see it in a new light. Now she says, “The struggle is really good for us.” I wanted to get up and leave the meeting, but I mostly choked back tears. I have had many struggles in my life. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and now physically, which I think is the hardest one for me to bear. I try to look at how my struggles might help me grow, and I wonder what I agreed to in the spirit realm when I said, “Yeah, I will tackle that trial.” 

What was I thinking? 

I’m questioning my strength to endure. But I was reminded today through a song called “King of the World” by Natalie Grant that God is in control. I at least know that he will multiply whatever little effort we can put forth.

And so here I am, slugging along for another day. Whatever I have to give will be enough, because it has to be, because it’s all I have.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Writers' Preparedness

No matter where we live, we’ve been told to prepare for natural disasters whether hurricane, flood, fire, earthquake, blizzard or something else. Most often having a 72 hour kit and with the necessities for 3 days on top of the list. We don’t usually think about being prepared with our writing in mind.
            I’m sure you know the first rule. Backup. Backup. Backup. But do you backup consistently?
My preferred method is using the cloud if you can afford it. It isn’t that expensive. I have several reasons why it works for me. First of all, it’s automatic. Every time I make changes—boom it’s there. Secondly, it’s not in my house. An external hard drive, won’t do you any good if it’s near the computer when disaster strikes and you aren’t home, or don’t have time to take anything but the clothes on your back.
Another method is sending your writing to an out of town/state/country contact. I did this in 2003 when the Cedar Fire hit our area. We self-evacuated because we lived a couple of blocks south and west of the cross roads for the evacuation area. I sent all of my writing to a writing buddy in England who happened to be on-line at the time. This became valuable a few years later when I couldn’t find the most current outline for the semi-autobiography I dabble in between novels. He salvaged it out of his old computer.
You can also use thumb drives, re-writable CD’s & DVD’s. Whatever you do, backup often, and have it somewhere besides in your house.
Also, keep your favorite books on writing with your grab and go items in case you have a few minutes to gather important papers, pictures and such. Especially if they are out of print, marked, or hard to find. Keep a list of the books you have and the authors so you can replace them if needed. This can be on paper with the important books, or on your chosen backup device.
In short, a clear safe backup plan can save you tears and that hollow feeling of losing hours of work. You may attempt to re-write what you have, after all those are your stories, but they will never be the same. I know about that too. In the long ago days BC (before computer) I had several hand written chapters of a speculative fiction novel that was tossed out. I’ve tried to re-write it, and have done some of it, but it isn’t the same. The characters aren’t the same. I may or may not ever finish it. It’s especially true for non-fiction and research.
So my friends protect your work. Have a plan in case Murphy takes his hand at your work. Foil him with preparedness.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Because I’m Happy

by Lisa Rector

When I was a young single adult, I had a friend who constantly told me I wasn’t happy. This shocked me. I couldn’t comprehend, for one, how he could determine this in me, and two, I didn’t see how I wasn’t happy. Maybe, because I was a big flirt, he thought I was seeking for happiness in all the wrong places. The truth was, when I was single, I was living it up and enjoying life. I had so many pressures and stressors while I went through nursing school that on the weekends, I was a hopeless flirtatious bomb.

I didn’t care.

Then I married. Then I had children. I became a hostage to hormones running amuck in my body. I hated my daughter for the first six months of her life. I resented my husband for some unknown reason. All because chemicals told me I was unhappy. Until I experienced seven years in a mix of chemical and postpartum depression, I didn’t know what happiness truly was.

From the darkest abyss and wishing for death, to indescribable, the-only-way-to-understand-would-be-to-plug-your-spirit-into-mine-with-some-sort-of-mind-meld happiness. It’s not something you can express. When you’re happy, you feel it throughout your whole soul.

What’s my secret? I can explain it in a few phrases that will make you want to throw your tablet across the room, because you will say, “Duh. I’ve heard all this, but it’s not working for me.” Well, until the moment when you experience the change from unhappiness to bliss, you won’t really know what it means to be inexplicably happy.

Ready to throw your device?

The Light of Christ
The Atonement
The Plan of Salvation
Effort
Enjoy the moment
Find your purpose
Let it go
Count your blessings
If my God is with me, whom then shall I fear?

The formula is different for every single soul. But I will tell you. Because of the atonement, I conquered chemical depression. Because of my testimony in the Savior, I live each day with hope and peace. Because of the atonement, I am clean and light and free. Because I work my butt off every day to be still and let peace and beauty soak through me, I can breathe. I don’t fear evil. I rejoice in all that is good in life. I have purpose, even if it is only to get up every morning and hug my daughters. Even if it is just to lay beside my snoring husband and listen to his heartbeat.

My soul—my heart and spirit—want to rupture on occasion. The feeling is so hard to contain.

My daughters scream in embarrassment when I crank the music loud and dance in my kitchen, when I roll the window down and wave at everyone who drives by. When I make silly faces or when I start in on a lecture about how amazing the sunrise looks or how the rain makes everything look like a fairyland. Or how the squirrels and the rabbits bounce through the yard. I tell them to look at every good thing, look at every small moment, SEE what God has given us.

My only regret is that not everyone sees and not everyone feels this happiness.

The world would be so different if they did.

“Men are that they might have joy.” Be in that joy.

Now watch this.


Monday, September 25, 2017

A Well Worth Read...

Valerie Steimle

I don't normally put book reviews here but I have had the pleasure of reviewing a book from a friend that I absolutely adore!  The name of this marvelous book is: 

The Efficiency Playbook: Your tactical Game Plan to Getting More for Less

This book is a phenomenon in of itself.  With over 25 years of experience, Michael Andrew has pinpointed a plan for anyone wanting to improve their personal life as well as their employed life by leaps and bounds. I was blown away at how much information was packed into this book. A jewel of a find if you are interested in how to make accurate decisions in seconds, measuring your own personal time value, cutting through clutter and even measuring your own thought processes and much more. There are written assignments after many of the chapters where we can write our own thoughts about the ideas presented in the book which gives this book an air of classroom learning.

With a football playbook set up, there are countless great quotes and ideas to help everyone improve their life exponentially. One of my favorite lessons taught is the idea of consolidating two or more problems into a single course of action called using the double-edged sword in solving our problems.

This should be required reading for every business manager as there are so many great ideas and opportunities to create more efficient experiences for ourselves through the experiences and thoughts in this book from running our own companies to improving our own habits. Well worth the time to read a great gift for any CEO or business manager.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

God's Hand: The Nonflat Tire

by Lisa Rector

Let me see if I can sum up this highly emotional day. While on 15 north, heading toward Gettysburg, my low tire-pressure light comes on. I’m not driving bumpy so I proceed to the next exit and get off. There’s no gas station so I pull into an RV place to check my tires.

Right away I see a screw in my rear tire. It doesn’t even look low so I am baffled as to why my tire light came on. I consider driving on or using the can of air in the back (but the tire wasn’t really flat), but decide to call AAA, feeling slightly stupid.

The AAA lady sends someone anyway, which was fine. Better safe than sorry. Guy comes, changes the tire, and tells me how to get to a tire place so they can patch my tire so I don’t have to drive like a turtle on a donut. Great.

Get to car place. Dude removes screw. Tire is not flat. Screw didn’t go all the way through.

What? What the heck?

I’m beyond tired, so I’m like, whatever. They put the tire back on, check the air in all the tires and send me on my way.

I have no idea why the strange detour in my life today happened. I do know that after being away from home for a week, traveling, and having jet lag that I was beyond my limits emotionally and physically. I probably shouldn’t have undertaken the short 40-minute trip I had planned today. I do know that in our family prayers this morning, my daughter asked that we be safe in all our travels today. So even though I have no idea why things played out the way they did, I know God was watching over me. I had an hour less to spend with my cousin, but as I reflected on things on my way home, I’m just so grateful that, once again, Heavenly Father was mindful of me. He kept me safe as I followed the promptings to exit where I did. Everyone was super helpful and efficient. Even though I was a mess and cried, everything was okay.


The mysterious nonflat tire could have been a way of avoiding further calamity up the road or it could have been to remind me of God’s hand in my life. Either way, I know He’s there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Seventeen is Just the Beginning

Valerie J. Steimle

Six years ago, I wrote this little piece for what is no longer online.  It was an early form of a blog and there were many contributors.  My youngest and also a son is now 17 so these thoughts could be helpful but for a boy it's different. Nevertheless, here is what I thought six years ago. It seems like a life time because so much has happened but it's only been 6 years.

Seventeen is Just the Beginning:

            My youngest daughter turned seventeen this week and I thought it would be advantageous for her and fun for me to listen to the song sung by Janis Ian: At Seventeen. As we listened, I was teleported back to when the song first played on the radio. I was sixteen at the time and thought it described my life so completely.

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired….

But after listening, I realized the whole song was a pity party for anyone thinking they fit those words.  I could just imagine teen girls thinking: “there is no use trying to be better, it’s all over at seventeen”.

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone….

 There were comments posted by other listeners and the remarks opened with “woe is me... my life is terrible” like the song and ended with “these words don’t mean anything in the real life, it’s so much better.”  Those who agreed with the song didn’t really have a clue to what was in store for them. Those who didn’t agree with the song knew there was more to life than a pity party and encouraged all teen girls that they will enjoy a wonderful life ahead of them regardless of what they looked like.

It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
When dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me…..

Lives filled with abuse, poverty, racism or crime can climb out of the hole they find themselves and be successful.  It is difficult but with determination, anyone can do it.  I didn’t live through most of those social ills, although I considered myself an ugly duckling, I didn’t have the confidence to do some of those goals I set out to accomplish.  Since those folly days of youth, I have become more determined to follow my dream and keep plugging away.

So what happened to all those “beauty queens” and “high school girls with clear skinned smiles” as Janis Ian assumed to be so successful? Thirty years later, they are ordinary people living their ordinary lives. That’s just great if you want ordinary, but for those who want more, like me, you can have more.

At the age of 20, 30, 40, 50, and beyond, we can still pick up a goal and work towards success. We don’t have to have the perfect body, the perfect face, or the perfect lifestyle to accomplish great feats. We can do this with our own inner strength and determination.

I have given birth to nine children and home schooled them all, suffered through an early death of my husband at 46, written and published four books, I’m writing my own newspaper column and now tackling the remodel of a 6,000 square foot 1920 hotel.  We can do anything.

So the next time I hear Janis Ian’s song, I will listen to those words with a grain of salt.  At seventeen or fifty, we can work towards whatever life we want and be happy that we accomplished so much.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Writing Through the Pain

by Lisa Rector

Last night my restless leg syndrome was so bad that my left arm was also antsy. Anyone who suffers from RLS knows that the unstoppable desire to move your legs and arms is neither pleasant nor to be ignored. My legs thrashed on my sheets, and my arm ached with ferocity so much so that I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night and started dancing around my bedroom, trying to give my legs and arm the relief they sought.

I felt as if I had ants marching one-by-one, up and down, inside my veins. The feeling was more unpleasant than you could imagine. I also wondered what I had done wrong with my day that resulted in such an attack. Did I sit too long because of the epic board game I played with my children, or did I eat too much sugar because my daughters insisted on eating s’mores before bedtime and I had already indulged in sweets earlier in the day?

I eventually exhausted my spastic limbs enough so that I could sleep, but vowed, as I drifted off, to take better care of my body. Starting with exercise the next day.

The following morning, after being prompted by the Spirit to rise early, after breakfast and an hour of scripture study, I put in a 10 minute DVD of body sculpting. I became so weary and my hips throbbed so horribly after my work out that I crumbled in tears. (This after I learned my daughter left my flexible, rice ice pack out of the freezer last night, so I didn’t have it to apply to my hips.) I choked down a protein bar while pulling out my church magazine; I could think of nothing else to do in my run-down state.

As I read I prayed. I couldn’t deal with my hip pain anymore. I couldn’t deal with the weakness in my body anymore. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I poured out my sorrows to my Father in Heaven.

And of course, the words from one of God’s chosen spoke to me and comforted me.

Even the Savior asked for relief as He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

It is okay to ask for relief (even if the relief doesn’t come) and then submit to God’s will (whether we are healed).

The Spirit also whispered that though I ask for relief, I must do all in my power to take care of myself. Which I had vowed to do the night before, which I had vowed in the past. But I needed to revamp my efforts because I was failing.

I also learned that I could still receive spiritual refinement despite my suffering, and because of my suffering—because it will humble me and draw me closer to the Lord.

I even had a crazy thought that I would still carry on through my suffering. An image of me crawling to the dishwasher to unload the dishes came to my mind. As odd as that seemed, it gave me comfort to know that I wouldn’t give up, and I knew that God would help me do the seemingly impossible.

And I could ask for help as I needed; I don’t have to struggle on my own.

I haven’t been able to write steadily because of my declining health, but I haven’t completely given up. I do what I can. I know God knows me and my struggles. He doesn’t have to prove these things, but He shows me daily as He answers my prayers and sends peace to my heart.