Thursday, August 25, 2016

Men are, that they might have joy.

by Lisa Rector
Men are, that they might have joy

 As I looked around my house, at the remnant of our family’s cookie-frosting activity, as I switched laundry from the washer to the dryer and then loaded the dishwasher and wiped down the kitchen counter and took the trash out, my purpose in life spoke to me. I didn’t think that such mundane tasks would have such meaning, but I’ve been blessed lately and my heart was full as I cleaned up, so it was open to the Spirit.

For a long time I’ve struggled with being a mother and embracing it. Even before my daughter smashed screaming from my womb, breaking my tailbone in the process. I resented motherhood for what it did to me. I became a prisoner to my hormones, fighting a depression so dark, only those who’ve been there could understand.

I celebrated my freedom from depression once again, on its five-year anniversary, August 4th. All day my heart sang praises for all my blessings, while still wondering about my purpose. Even after studying and learning that true greatness is in all the small things we do every day to serve others, I still didn’t feel what that meant.

But as I tackled my chores, with the Piano Guys playing at top volume, soaking up the beauty of what it means to be in the moment, even while wiping down floors, the Spirit whispered to me.

Men are, that they might have joy.

Heavenly Father wants us to experience joy in life and share it with others. He wants me to raise my children to grow up and feel joy and see beauty. Because of this, God made the earth for us.
Heavenly Father wants us to experience joy in life and share it with others. He wants me to raise my children to grow up and feel joy and see beauty. Because of this, God made the earth for us.

I even shared in the spirit of two woman not of my faith, who came to my door. I didn’t turn them away, but I invited them to sit on the chairs outside, and I listened to their message. They were happy people, feeling the joy of this life.

God gave me my ears to hear, my eyes to see, and my soul to feel. He gave me my life. And I can find joy in each day, even when my body is lacking energy. But His strength buoys me up and helps me feel joy in the suffering too.

I began a new book this summer, a novella. I had great plans for working on my Lost Emrys trilogy, but it wasn’t coming to me. My brain kept whispering scenes to me about this other novel I planned to start next year. The storyline is about a woman who loses everything to a selfish sister who steals her life. In the end, the main character loses so many things, but she’s able to see her purpose in life and the things that are most important, despite her tragedy. I think I was meant to discover my character and her story along with the discoveries I am making about myself. My character’s story is far from finished, and I look forward to the continued insight it will give me.

Other good things lately. I feel empowered by my weight loss. I took control back into my life. I found comfy clothes I love so I can be happy in my own body. I feel beautiful. My skin is clearer. I have much to be thankful for.

Truly, my purpose is to have joy. To embrace every moment. I am a mother. I see and know the beauty in this world. And the great secret? God made it for me.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I's Over

As the Olympic flame died, my feelings were mixed. It was a bit sad to see them end. It was so enjoyable to watch the world’s best athletes. On the other hand, maybe I can get some writing and housework done. No more a couch potato, not until February 2018 anyway. (I did sneak away and get my novel edited. I won’t touch that one until after a writing conference coming up in September.)

My thoughts turned to life, and how things come and go. Wasn’t it last year we were worried about Y2K?

In this life, everything has an end. We write “the end” when we finish writing a novel. Sure there is still editing to be done, beta readers, revisions and such, but eventually even those parts are finished, and we send our baby out.

Next I thought about how fast life is moving. I had 22 years of diapers. That ended long ago. In fact my youngest had her first baby last month.

With both good things and bad, it’s like Mom used to say, “The scriptures often repeat ‘and it came to pass….’”

We can look forward to the good things, not with wishing them to come faster. Enjoy the anticipation. Feel it. Taste it. Know how wonderful it’s going to be.

Dreading difficult or even bad things only makes them worse. Look for the good around you. Ponder how you can use this experience for your betterment, or when it’s over, and it will be over, how you can help other people who tread that path.

Look forward to things, but don’t waste time that could be put to a good use while you do so.

Strengthen yourself when you see bad things coming, and know that only eternity is forever, and nothing in this life is forever. 

Had to come back and read this almost a week after I posted it. Sent for my DNA test that won't be here until late October or early November. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Life’s Lessons Learned: Enjoy the Ride

Valerie J. Steimle

With all the craziness of an unexpected divorce, selling my house and moving across country from Alabama to Arizona, I have had some wacky experiences here lately.  From starting a temporary, part time job to moving furniture and cars around.  It’s been totally insane and I hadn’t had a lot of time to write about it. Here is a sampling of some of my “stranger than fiction” experiences.

You never know who your friends are: My new boss left me in charge of the ice cream shop where I just started working  to take a friend home and he let her drive around. I was told they would be back in ten minutes. An hour later, he didn’t show so I just sat outside in the dark watching the cars go by with a few customers stopping in every so often.  Well, the woman friend driving him back to work did not use her turn signal when turning. This attracted a local policeman watching and waiting, who stopped them to investigate. Low and behold this driver had no driver’s license and not only that, she had skipped her court date for her probation so she was arrested right there on the spot and thrown in jail. My boss was a little shaken up thinking he knew this woman pretty well. Whew. You never know.

Never walk to the edge: Husbands can be pretty silly sometimes but I know of one who had left his wife unexpectedly to move in with his mother. (ie. my former husband) He started working with his brother in remodeling and stucco.  Well, walking on a 12-foot high deck to measure for the job wasn’t enough he had to look over the edge. There had been rain and thinking he could just to see what was down there, he slipped on the water and fell off the deck falling 12 feet onto concrete. Smack. After being revived from death by his brother, he was taken to the emergency room with a concussion, broken bones around his left eye, broken left wrist, 8 cracked and broken ribs on left side, and punctured left lung. His recovery will be at least two months and a lot of pain. Don’t ever walk to the edge to look down.  It will get you every time.

Roller Coaster in Takabisha (Largest in the world) Google Images
Sometimes the wait is worth it: I had been listing some great tools, saws, 16 foot open trailer, old 1989 Ford truck along with other items on Craig’s list to sell before I move.  Two months of many calls and emails asking about the items and several “almost” sales was totally frustrating for me as I wanted to find people who could really use the equipment and make some money on the side. There were even some no shows after I spent my time waiting for them to come.  Until one day a young man of 19 called me to ask about the truck.  He really wanted it and said that he would be there to pick it up on Saturday. After my experience, I was leery and really wondered if he was going to actually make it. The awaited day came and he showed up with his whole family. Cousins, Uncles, Aunts and parents all were supporting him in his truck purchase. It was fantastic! It took an hour for them to pull the truck on the trailer (it needed engine work) but his step-dad was interested in what else I had for sale. So I showed him all those tools, saws and other items and he bought them all.  He was happy and I was happy. The trailer also went that day to a neighbor.  The wait is certainly worth the pay off. Now all I have to do is find a buyer for my house.

Life definitely takes you where no man has gone before and sometimes you find yourself in unexpected places. Just go with it and enjoy the ride. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Olympic Medals

It's Olympic Season. The time of year when we drop everything, and possibly let our kids stay up late, to watch amazing athletes give it their all in the hopes of winning a medal and being adored by the world for their physical prowess, perserverance, and strength. 

It is exciting and awe inspiring. 

So, why do all the silver medalists look so grumpy when they the event is over and they discover they've medaled, but not gold? Whereas, the bronze medalists are cheerful. They are on the podium! They get a medal! If you've given it your all, why should you be grumpy? 

When did coming in second in the Olympics become a disappointment? It's still much more than billions of people throughout the world will ever acheive. What does that say about our society/culture? What does that teach our children? 

My favorite example of an ecstatic Silver Medalist is Noelle Pikus Pace who won silver in the Winter Olympics 2014. She'd been through several setbacks before getting her medal. And I have no doubt, she could've cared less that it wasn't gold. It was all about achieving a goal, not gold. 

Watch her jump in the stands here:

That's the kind of example I'd like my kids to follow. There's another reason why I'm such a fan of her story. The famous Red Dress. You can read the article here:

She stayed true to herself and her beliefs even in the midst of Olympic pandemonium and stood out as a star. That's what I want my daughter to learn. Being you is the all you ever need to be. For YOU are BeYOUtiful in every way. 

I hope you've enjoyed cheering on many athletes. Take a moment to reflect on all the ones whose names didn't come blaring out at you over the T.V., radio, media, etc. They worked hard and have every right to be just as proud as the household names of athletes we've learned. Here's to the unsung athletes and heroes on and off the podium!

What was your favorite Olympic moment this summer? Or ever?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Goodbye, Horsegirl

Raffiki and Sierra (aka Horsegirl) in 2014, before she left on her mission
Next week, Horsegirl is leaving for college.

Horsegirl is my oldest daughter Sierra. She is 20 and just recently  returned from an LDS church mission. When she goes to college, she will board her 12 year old palomino quarter horse, Raffiki, fifteen minutes away from her apartment.

I haven’t called her Horsegirl in a long time, probably not since she was eight or so. And today, I am thinking of her and her horse craziness from long ago, and how much I’m gonna miss her.

That’s because I am staring at the beaming, happy faces of two eight year old girls who are enrolled in a horse camp that Sierra’s younger sister is putting on as a service trip fundraiser. They are best buddies, these girls, both horse crazy as they come. One of them says, “I have been wanting to ride on a horse by myself since I was four.”

I can believe that hyperbole, because I have seen that same devotion in Sierra who loved horses since she was old enough to read and collect chapter books. Her closet is a testament to her obsession. She owns an impressive amount of Breyer horse models and horse books – bought, bartered, gifted – collected over the years.

This craziness  probably would have peaked and dissipated had we not moved to Grantsville, a small town where icy patches form on irrigated alfalfa fields on cool spring mornings, where horses graze on property at the outer edges of town and where horse-crazy girls can still live their dreams.

= = =

Sierra wanted a horse riding party for her eighth birthday. We had just moved to Grantsville and didn’t know anyone who could oblige. Somehow, through someone who knew someone, I tracked down a lady fittingly named Susan Bale.

Like a parent looking for a rare toy around Christmas, I was desperate, ready to pay anything for this experience. She normally didn’t do this, she said, and rattled off a generously low amount, twenty-five dollars. I told her she had a deal. Giddily, I took Sierra and seven of her girlfriends to Susan’s property west of town. Susan lived on a sprawling place with several pens and a huge barn where she led Sierra and her friends past cats and old machinery to get the horses ready.

Susan turned to me, a complete novice at horses – well, I rode one once as a child, led around for fifteen minutes – and asked if I could help her. A relative who was supposed to come couldn’t.

So there I was helping get four horses get tacked up by girls who equally didn’t know what they were doing.  Susan, unfazed, explained what we needed to do, and somehow, none of the chattering, hyper girls got hurt. The girls rode two by two on each horse and it all came together without a hitch.

And then, Susan said the words that would forever change our lives, and is the reason I am now staring at the faces of the eight year olds on six acres of horse property – “Would you like to borrow a horse for 4-H?”

= = =

We thought Sierra's obsession would go the way of most obsessions of girls that age. Especially since borrowing a horse for a year wasn’t convenient nor easy. At shows, Sierra occasionally missed gate calls since Susan’s granddaughter needed the horse for another event. It took me a long highway ride  to take  Sierra down to practice on Susan’s property. But none of these fazed Sierra. She braided her hair and wore her jaunty thrift store cowgirl hat and jeans, took her place among kids most of whom wore fancy show clothes, and rode on.

It’s been quite a trail ride since.

Without the hubby who was out of town, I took her to look at the first horse we ended up buying. Wixie was a high-strung mare who was a handful for a novice, but somehow, we survived that first year. The next year, Sierra wrote an essay and won a two year old palomino colt. Which was super cool, except no one warned us how much work training a colt would be. A point driven home when this colt, Raffiki, bucked her off on the street, the impact of which broke her arm and tore her nerves.

But there were also lots of good memories.

Of Sierra getting back on Raffiki after a heart wrenching and painful recovery. Of Sierra winning more than a white ribbon in 4-H on temperamental Wixie and even winning blue, bareback on Raffiki. Of me accompanying Sierra in Kentucky for her 14th birthday  to attend Breyerfest. Of practices at the place where we boarded our growing herd of horses, with me watching horse and rider, thinking, they are beautiful.

= = =

Wixie died the year we finally took the leap and bought these six acres of horse property, where we are now hosting a horse camp. Sadly, we were still building then and she didn’t make it to our new place except on a Bobcat, so we could bury her in a grave in the back. We have buried two other horses since, imperfect horses who taxed our patience yet stole our hearts in the end.

That’s what horses do, if you let them.

I once believed, when Sierra was older, that she had gotten over her love of horses. She never once mentioned Raffiki in her letters home on her mission. But when she came home, she announced she would take Raffiki with her to college.

I’m glad. Sierra without a horse is like having a saddle without stirrups, incomplete. Horses formed Sierra’s character. I believe she is who she is today because she had to have the grit, courage,  mental toughness, and resilience  to work with horses over the years. Her heart expanded, learning  love from these gentle giants.

My own heart feels like an old, beat up lead rope – sad and frayed that Horsegirl is leaving. Luckily, she’s just a phone call away, a two-hour drive to a home-cooked meal, if she so chooses. But it’s not the same as having her home. I just realized, however, looking at these campers and their beaming faces, that Horsegirl’s legacy lives on.

I will feel her presence when I feed the horses these upcoming autumn evenings and smell that sharp sweet scent of hay. I will remember watching her ride for hours on end when her younger sister takes to the arena with her own young horse. I will understand when our campers grin from ear to ear as they ride.

I’m grateful that in college, Horsegirl will have Raffiki to keep her company after a hard day. She could burrow for comfort in the smoothness of his supple neck. And, in a valley surrounded by mountains, tinged a lovely blue in the deepening twilight, she could ride her cares away.

Jewel Allen is an award-winning journalist, author and ghostwriter. Visit her at