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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A New Life: Discovering My New Life Path



Valerie J. Steimle

My life has changed drastically over the last nine months and I am happy to say that I am doing well.  I haven’t written any kind of blog post since September but I am working on discovering my new life path. 

I live on the opposite side of the country now in the Phoenix area, working a new job and I am with my last child living in an apartment.  Quite the change from the last 24 years where I lived in my own home on half an acre of green grass and trees in Alabama. 

Now I look out the window to the desert of Arizona with cactus and palm trees. It's really a good life and I'm happy to be closer to my first born with her family close by. My new ward opened their life to me and I can visit more of my children, my brother and his family and my 91 year old Dad on this side of the country. 

Image result for sunriseMajor life changes causes one to ponder their life path and what accomplishments are most important.  I have been doing this for the past six months and have come to the conclusion that I should finish something I started a long time ago: my bachelor's degree at Brigham Young University. 

I graduated from Ricks College (Now Brigham Young University Idaho Campus) with an Associated Degree in 1979, intending to finish in Communicative Disorders and Special Education at Brigham Young University Provo campus, but I got the worst case of "senioritis" in my 4th year of classes, was engaged to be married and just didn't have the drive to accomplish what I set out to do.  My mother was livid and I don't blame her. I should have finished but hind sight is everything and now as I am helping my youngest get on his mission and I will have the time and the funds to finish what I started.  It's exciting to think about. What's more, I am switching gears from educating children to writing for a living.  

My goal is to finish my degree in English/Journalism online since I have enough "on campus" credit to do the work without having to travel back to Provo. I will then start searching for a writing job so I can write until I cannot use my hands to type any longer.  This will be what I do for the rest of my life and that is so very thrilling for me.  It's what I love to do.

I have been writing journal entries since I was 12 years old, the idea coming from a lesson I learned at church and I now have 10 volumes of journals plus other notebooks filled with my thoughts and dreams. Writing is so therapeutic; not typing in a computer but actual writing by hand. There is something to be said about hand writing in a journal that helps sooth the soul.

Image result for writingFrom the website, Self Growth it states that we can improve ourselves in confidence by just practicing our handwriting. This really makes a difference and I know from reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, writing in a journal by hand every day helps clear the mind of junk from the day before. It's really amazing. Julia Cameron calls it her "Morning Pages" and for several years I wrote at least 4 times a week in my morning pages journal which now are close to twenty notebooks.

My life goal is developing into something I am really excited about and this will help me become a better person in expressing myself to the world. I see more published books on the horizon as well and time to travel. Life is really great for me now with new perspectives and choices to make. Of course more grandchildren adding to the adorable ones I have already which makes me very happy. 
God is good.









Monday, June 26, 2017

Having the Power of God with Us


by Lisa Rector

It is paramount that we draw near to the Spirit each and every day. Our lives become drowned with the noises of the world. Satan whispers every second into our minds and hearts. If we don't remind ourselves of our eternal perspective and the blessings that come when we are obedient, slipping into worldly ways becomes too easy. Contention will spring forth like a caustic fountain.

We can have access to the Priesthood power, which is God's power. "Personal righteousness is imperative to having priesthood power." (Linda K. Burton) Don't let life distract you in your righteous pursuits. Keep reading your scriptures and other religious articles to bring light into your life. We must remember our divine nature and our birthright. And we must stand with our personal standards branded on our souls so we do not falter and always have the power of God with us.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Writing Delima

A potter finishes his/her pot, paints it, and puts it in a kiln. Once fired, it’s done. Once an artist applies the last stroke to a painting, it’s finished. When I create counted cross stitch or Swedish weaving projects, after working the pattern, it’s complete. Not so with writing. Writing is never finished. There simply comes a time the author sends it out. There are always improvements to be made. That brings me to my current novel.
            I’m at a crossroads with my Latter-day Saint romance, Hidden Heritage. Do I send it out next month, or wait until I go to Time Out for Writers conference in September and make even more changes? Either way I’ll work on something else this summer.
That presents another dilemma. Do I edit the completed Escape from Fire, or fill in the partial Car Crash? Maybe I could even dig out Divine Love and its sequel Diane’s Story. Then there’s always my semi-autobiography.
            But I digress, back to the topic. With writing, like in music, there’s always room for improvement: This sentence might be better if I use a fancier word. Perhaps that sentence sounds too pompous. A paragraph may need more description. Another one slows down the narrative with too much description. Would this scene work better later in the story? Does that dialogue sound realistic? The list goes on without end.
            Beta readers are valuable with their opinions, but they’re just that—opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the improvements made when I have beta readers.
Whether novel, or note I find better ways to say things nearly every time I go over stuff, even my Face Book posts. One of my college professors said, “Writing is never finished. Just send it out there.” He told us about a famous poet that had 2 or 3 versions of the same poem in print. How do I know if it’s time for Hidden Heritage?
            I don’t expect the reader of this post to tell me. You haven’t read it. I’ll decide when I finish this time going through it. I already have the dreaded Synopsis, query letter, and such because I’ve sent it out before. Naturally I made changes in those as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to Stay Underwhelmed in an Overwhelming Author World.


by Lisa Rector

I haven’t been able to write steady for about six months. Too many author voices are in my head and bogging me down. It’s not that they are telling me I can’t measure up; it’s just that everything seems too much. Social media has added demands to my author life that I never thought possible. How do I get back to writing and not letting the world overwhelm me?

I’ve considered quitting Facebook and Twitter altogether, but don’t want to abandon them. I don’t mind retweeting. I’m in a Facebook book club, so I want enjoy that. But suddenly I’m finding my beta-reading group and other writing groups too exhausting. My Facebook feed and Twitter feed will never stop. I’m also in charge of setting up blog posts for an up-and-coming LDS beta reader group, so I have to stay connected for that.

Here’s what I’ve been doing, other than taking a break from the world and hiding in a corner.

I’ve unfollowed many friends and family on Facebook. I follow those who don’t share every. single. thing. I stay away from people who post recipes. I follow those who offer great interaction and posts that help me as an author. What’s great about FB is that you don’t have to unfriend people. Just unfollow them for a time. You can always hop over to their profile if you want to catch up.

I don’t scroll my Twitter feed. Often porn pops up, despite my attempts to block it. I created lists of people who I want to engage with and who I want to retweet and scroll those. I click on followers to see who else I want to follow, and I post maybe once a day.

I just don’t have time for anything else in the social media world.

About the author voices in my head. Every author I’ve engaged with seems to have their own opinion about how to do things as an author, and they seem to think they are right. I just stopped listening for a while. Yes, I surface for critiques and feedback, but when I start scrolling posts about other authors and what they are doing, I get overwhelmed, thinking I have to do what they are doing now or learn what they are learning now. I had to stop and tell myself I’m in a different place. And that’s ok.

There’s a time for engagement and a time to work things out on your own. When I’m drafting, I have to turn everything off. I can’t focus if someone is spouting story structure over here and character arcs over there. Write the story first, without the other voices. Revisions are the time to get opinions.


As always, write for yourself, and only write the parts people want to read. That is the best writing advice above all.