Monday, March 27, 2017

Being Steadfast and Immovable

by Lisa Rector

I’m a firm believer in being able to find a lesson or reason for every chapter of scripture in the Book of Mormon, even the war chapters. It’s the same with fiction; only write the parts people want to read, so there must be a reason God wanted some parts included in the scriptures, even if we think they are boring. If we prayerfully seek, we can find hidden meanings.

I had to look carefully to find the meaning for me in Alma 1. The chapter is about Nehor, who goes about teaching false doctrine. His teachings led many in the church astray, and they started persecuting their own brethren of the gospel because of their pride. The hearts of many saints hardened, and they withdrew from the church. 

Did the trial of their persecution cause their hearts to harden because they were unable to bear their afflictions? What could have been done to prevent this?

Many saints remained steadfast in the faith. How?

Alma 1:25 says, “They were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.” The rest of the chapter goes on to tell how the saints were blessed for their selflessness and obedience.

We can have peace, despite persecution. Our steadfastness will lead to blessings and prosperity, but our persecutions can harden our hearts if we are not careful and don’t humble ourselves.

The key is being steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments. The saints also worked hard, laboring to have the necessities of life. And through their efforts, they were blessed.

I feel comfort in knowing that, though trials in life may come, my determination and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord gives me peace. Everything I do is an extra buffer of protection; my heart is less likely to harden when faced with overwhelming adversity. And patience with persecution is not something to frown upon. It is a blessing beyond measure.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Even as I Am

by Lisa Rector

While struggling with my own shortcomings, and feeling as if I fall short of the mark every day, I was touched by a video I recently watched in church.

The video begins with this scripture.

“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 3 Nephi 27:27

The video goes on to list the attributes of Christ.

Humble                      Obedient                       Healer                 Kind                 Teacher            Courageous            Servant               Submissive                Selfless                       Full of love

 As I watched the Savior in all these roles, which the video portrayed, one thought crossed my mind. He’s genuine. In every role, in displaying whichever attribute, the Savior was Himself. He always expressed His true feelings, which were based on true motivations and love—Christlike love, which is charity.

And I realized that in my life, I only ever want to be genuine, even when I fall short and despite my shortcomings. I want to exhibit these Christlike behaviors with all my soul. I don’t want to grumble through life. I don’t want to complain when asked to do something. I don’t want to wallow in my sins. I want to be happy when I serve.

I want [to] “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [myself] of all ungodliness; and if [I] shall deny [myself] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [my] might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for [me], that by his grace [I] may be perfect in Christ . . .” Moroni 10:32

I might have shortcomings, but perhaps the good in me can outshine the bad as I “come unto Christ” and be “even as [He is].”




Thursday, February 23, 2017

Writing Life

Writing is something we do alone, at least most of the time. The Internet has changed that a bit. We have writing groups, UTube videos, research options, and other helps earlier writers couldn’t imagine.

Gone are the days when publishers picked up stories they liked or loved then cleaned them up for the author. Today we are expected to have “beta readers” those lovely writers that look over our work and suggest changes, correct grammar or spelling, and improve our work immensely. A word of caution here, we can’t make all changes anybody suggests. That came into clear focus in a short story writing class I took. We had seventeen in that class and everyone critiqued each others’ three stories. More often than not, what one person liked, another one disliked. Yet when taken as a whole, when the author saw a majority agree on some point or the other, he or she needed to take notice.

I can’t speak about UTube writing videos, I haven’t used them very much, but I’ve heard some mentioned from time to time, and I’m sure some are helpful, and others not so much.

I’m not going to delve into the glories of researching on the Internet, except to say—be cautious. It may come as a surprise to some people, but not everything on the Internet is true. There is as much misinformation as good information out there. Cross reference, and double check.

I’m especially sold on writing groups on-line or in person. I still have a few friends I’ve never met from the old days of AOL’s Writers’ Club. That was a well oiled machine with many controlled weekly chats. I’ll admit I went to too many of them and they did steal writing time, but I got good information that helped me in various aspects of writing.

I currently belong to a fantastic writing organization. We have monthly meetings. I belong to an on-line chapter, but there are live chapters also. This organization has an annual writing conference where writers of all types get to learn from those who have gone before.

In short, today’s writers have it both harder and easier than ever before. Harder because we have to perfect our work more before being published, but easier because we have the tools to do so.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Working Resolutions Your Way

by Lisa Rector

I’m pretty sure the root of all my problems is lack of sleep.


Actually, I am absolutely sure.





I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). If you have it, you know exactly what I mean. My legs run in my sleep, wearing holes in my sheets; I go through two sets of sheets a year. My legs spasm during the day if I don’t get enough movement or if I overwork my legs. I have to have the perfect amount of exercise. My legs will “tweak out” on long car rides. How do I describe that? Because car space is so tight, even in the front passenger seat, if my legs can’t move how they want, they freak out. The sensation is much like ants using my blood vessels as a highway. Sometimes the sensation is like mild electric jolts.

And don’t get me started on plane flights. I take nerve medication to dull the pain.
Even though I take medication at night, getting a restful night’s sleep is still a miracle.


What does this have to do with my resolutions? 

Number one resolution is to get enough sleep. Why? Because if I don’t, I am a serious disaster, and my brain is foggy. I was worried I was suffering from short-term memory loss. I leave notes right in the middle of the counter so I can remember things for the next day. Sometimes the next hour.
Yeah, it’s that bad.

But once I made the connection of my irritability and my poor memory to my lack of sleep, I felt hope.

I can work with this.

Number one is to take my medication regularly. I don’t like taking prescription pills, but I have to suck it up and just do it for my sanity.

Number two to counter my foggy memory, make a lovely graphic of the things I want to accomplish every day, but also realize that I don’t have to do all of the things on the list every day. With the list, then in those moments when I stand there thinking I should be doing something but I can’t remember, I can consult the list.

Many of the things on my list are non-fiction books I want to read, mostly pertaining to my spirituality. I was getting discouraged with my scriptural reading and with keeping up with Sunday school lessons. I feel more power with a list. Plus, instead of feeling as if I need to do a marathon sprint with any particular book of scripture or other religious material, I can read a little of each every day.

I’m doing this with my writing education as well. I really want to read Chicago’s Manual of Style and my Emotional Thesaurus and Character Traits books, but just a few pages each day. That way I feel like I am moving forward.

Another thing about my resolutions. A few years ago I ran a half-marathon. The marathon destroyed my body and triggered an all over inflammatory response where my body attacks itself. My body still is and, I’m pretty sure, will always be messed up. An excess of anything, including inflammatory foods and too much exercise makes me swell, and my body shuts down. What? Yeah. How do I overcome that?

It sucks. I feel like I have an autoimmune disease. And who knows, maybe I do. I don’t plan on going to the doctor to find out. But I have noticed that tasks I could accomplish are growing more difficult. My husband has to dig the holes in our hard clay soil for me now when I garden. I can’t walk as an exercise for more than twenty minutes. Thirty minutes pushes it big time, and by the end of the day, I am nonfunctional. I can’t go clothing shopping or grocery shopping for more than two hours. And I have to come home and rest for half the day when that’s over.

But at least I know my limits.

What does this have to do with resolutions?

I discovered what works for me. I sit a lot, but I have to get up and move because of my nerve pain in my lower back and neck and my lymphedema in my ankles. But movement relieves all of these. Whenever I know I am going to be sitting for a while, I set a timer for forty-two minutes. Why forty-two minutes? That’s the length of a TV show or that’s how long it takes me to pluck out a scene. That’s also how I break up my reading tasks. Read Chicago for forty-two minutes or read my church materials for forty-two minutes. It’s a perfect amount of time. I read just a few pages, an article, or a whole chapter if it’s short, but I break things up if sections are too long. That way I don’t feel overloaded by spending too much time in one particular area.

And then I jump up and either tackle a chore like vacuuming or

I crank some music in my kitchen and dance like a crazy fool (while incorporating some hand weights). The dancing is my preferred form of movement. The Lindsey Sterling tracks I listen to are anywhere from three to five minutes and get my heart pumping. Plus the music inspires my writing, and I sit down ready to dive back in.

So, in the end, what matters is that you set up your resolutions so they work for you.

I have a mantra I like to follow. It’s posted on my blog side bar. “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

50th Anniversary

Moderators often ask senior couples, “How did your marriage last 50 years?” I ask myself that same question, but for a different reason. 50th anniversaries are for old people sitting in wheel chairs or using walkers. I don’t need either one, so how can I be so close to mine? I’m still doing things like hiking Kanarraville Falls.
 I can’t be old enough. Yet today is January 23, 2017, and I was married January 27, 1967. It’ll only be a few more days. Even I can do the math.
            Was it easy? Not always. We had the normal ups and downs all couples do. Today I’m going to write about a few subjects that cause marital stress, and point out solutions I see.
            Most important to me is our joint belief in God, and the Savior Jesus Christ. However, as important as it is, it isn’t a success/fail item. One of our sons left the church. Our daughter-in-law still believes. They have a solid marriage. I’m not privy to, nor should I be, how they make it work.
            Another major sore spot in marriages: in-laws. The couple is married now. They have started a family of your own. Even if they need to live with parents for a time they and their spouse set the family rules, especially when it comes to raising children. They probably have spent a lifetime honoring and obeying parents, but as hard as it may be facing them, their new loyalty is with their spouse. Never bad-mouth the spouse in front of parents no matter how upset you are at the moment. Stick with him or her, standing up to parents if necessary. Work it out with your spouse privately.
            Another point, traditions are not laws or even rules. There is no right or wrong. The other spouse also has strong feelings about how their family did things. I’ll use Christmas as an example. Perhaps family A always baked Christmas cookies together. Maybe family B thought buying special ingredients and baking cookies was a waste of money and time. Perhaps family B bought Christmas cards for each person in the family. That was a waste of money for family A.  Cards were for friends and family that lived far away. The new family they should take some of his and some of hers, even more important create new ones all their own.
            Next is a big one—finances. Work out the details together—situations vary: Do both of you work? Is one better at math? Is one thriftier than the other? Most often, one spouse takes care of the finances; however, the other spouse must know what’s going on. I had a friend who kept the books. One night, she didn’t come home from K-mart. Her body was found in the trunk of her car. He had no idea what bills they had. In the first few weeks fake bills came in. It took him months and professional help to get things straightened out. You must go over finances together.
            Couples need to put each other and their relationship before children. Children grow up and leave the nest. If a couple has been living in 2 different worlds, they won’t know each other. We hear about couples that divorce after 30 years or more of marriage and we ask why. Often, one big reason is they have grown apart. That doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. You may never agree on the best type of movie or book. Look for things you both like to do, and concentrate on those. Learn a little about your spouse’s interests. If it’s sports, learn the rules. If it’s dancing, take lessons. Set aside pride and the “I am always right” attitude. By the way, gravity works just as well no matter whether the most-important-paper-in-the-world is over or under. Don’t sweat the stuff.
            We’ve made it for 50 years, and you can too. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Doors and Windows


Image result for closed doors, open windows

I love the line in the musical The Sound of Music when Maria says, "When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." 

Earlier this month, I had a week just like that. 

My novella, 12 Days to Love, had been accepted into an anthology and was slated to publish later this spring. Unfortunately, that project was cancelled due to some of Amazon's terms of service. The past anthologies were taken down (I'd enjoyed reading them all). All future projects were terminated. 

Understandably many past and present authors were sad about the news. While I was certainly disappointed, I believed that meant this novella was meant for another purpose. 

The next day, a window opened regarding my novella. I can't yet disclose the details, but I'm very excited about the new opportunity and to put this tale into reader's hands.  

It's a good comparison to life. Sometimes opportunities fall through. Most likely, HE has another purpose for you and your work, whatever it it. And HIS way is always better. 

I'd love for you to share in the comments below when doors have closed and windows have opened in your life. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

It is of God

Good morning. Happy bloated-after-the-holidays day!

Queen of procrastination here. I promised myself I would have the Book of Mormon at the top of my read list this year on my lovely book-packed Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge. Guess what. A week ago, with only two weeks left in the year, I realized I better get started with reading the Book of Mormon. Don’t get me wrong, I read sporadically during the year, but not the whole thing. So I popped in the BOM on CD and got started. I am up to Mosiah. But it will be at the top of my challenge by the New Year.

As I listened to Joseph Smith’s testimony of how the angel Moroni appeared to him, I reached the part where Joseph tries to work after a night of interviews with the angel. Joseph collapses in the field and receives another vision where the angel tells him to go back and tell his father about his heavenly visitations.

I’m cleaning in my kitchen, and before the next paragraph starts, I mutter to myself, “It is of God,” meaning the whole thing, the heavenly visits and the testimony of Joseph and the subsequent translation of the Book of Mormon. As soon as I said those words, on the CD, Joseph’s father tells Joseph the same thing. “That it (the heavenly message) was of God.”

A warmth flooded my body then as the Holy Spirit washed over me, confirming the truth of the words I whispered aloud and the words of Joseph’s Father. Even with all my procrastination of my goals, I will always know the Book of Mormon is of God and that it is true.