Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm a Liar--meme

Jenna at Cranberry Corner tagged me with this one. The game is that I'm going to list 4 things about me, one of which is a lie. You're job is to guess which one is a lie. I'm gunna make a contest out of it and offer a free book (Earning Eternity or Tempest Tossed) to one of those that are correct. I'll enter all the names of winners into a drawing and have my 5 year old pick a winner. So be sure to make a guess.

I should warn you that I'm a very very good liar, it's why I write fiction :-)

1) I once met Harrison Ford--well, met might be a strong word since he didn't tell me who he was and I didn't tell him who I was. He has his own plane and sometimes stops as the airport in a little town called Milford Utah where my parent's used to live. It's really a podunk airport, but it was a good mid-stop for small planes leaving California and celebrities liked to stop there because they didn't get mobbed (John Travolta stops there sometimes too). My brother's friend's dad owned the airport and called my brother to give a guy a ride--he'd just radioed in--to the Chinese restaurant in town. There is nothing to do in Milford Utah, so I went with my brother and we picked up this guy. The sad part--my brother didn't know who he was at all and I was unsure enough that I didn't say anything--he looks a lot older in real life--later that day the whole town was buzzing about it. I couldn't believe I didn't trust my gut.

2) Ten years ago, my husband and I had never had a real vacation and we finally decided to go on one cause this travel agency by our house was giving a great deal. We used our credit cards now and again, but never for purchases we couldn't pay off in 30 days. But we were desperate to go on this trip so we charged the whole thing and had a good time in Mazatlan. The next month, I get the bill and it shows the charge AND a credit for the exact same amount. I called the credit card company and it turns out they had this program where every transaction made goes into a monthly drawing and then they pull out a few charges to credit back to the person. Somehow, our charge for the entire vacation package was drawn. We went to Mexico for free.

3) My husband and I went to Costa Rica on vacation about five years ago, and one night took a taxi to this little casino--little means about 4 tables. We're the only people there and figured we'd either lose or make $40 before we left--we are both great blackjack players, though we don't do it very much. We ended up winning over $800--enough to pay for the hotel stay for the entire six days we were there. They actually made us leave, telling us they closed an hour before they really did. We stayed in Costa Rica for free.

4) I once babysat for a woman who had a ten year old son named Mike. He was named after her first husband, Mike, but they divorced and she'd married another man by the name of Mike. Her second husband had a tradition that the first son is always named after the father, hence, this man was named after his father and grandfather--all named Mike. The woman I babysat for was pregnant and scared to death that it would be a boy; her husband was insisting that they would name it Mike, even though she already had a son with that name. Sure enough, she had a boy, and they named him Mike. So she had an ex-husband, a husband, a father-in-law, a grandfather-in-law and two sons named Mike. I think she also had a brother named Mike, but I can't remember for sure. Incidentally, I have a brother named Mike as well.

So, what do you think? Which one is a lie? I'll wait one week for the answers to file in. AMENDMENT: Because I got such fast responses, I'll answer it on Friday, November 2 :-) Thanks for playing.

As to who I'm gunna tag--let's tag Kathleen, Julie Wright, Traci Abramson & Carole Thayne Warburton.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Sucks and Other Inspiration for your Friday Pleasures

Inspiration #1)

One of the most positive things that will come from my children leaving home (in, oh, fifteen years) is that I can come out of the closet and put a big sign in my yard that says "No Tricken or Treaten you greedy little Monsters" I'm sure my own kids will find that hilarious by then.

It's not the candy--I'm all about candy--it's all the other crap. The cheap costumes, the freaky movies and TV shows, and the horrible decorations that just muck up my house. I hate carving pumpkins, I hate candy corn, and I hate being scared. My city does Trunk or Treat because the houses are so spread out it takes hours for kids to get a decent sized haul, so instead we have 40 cars that stick there back ends into a horseshoe shape and then 300 kids cycle through like the zombies--oh wait, they ARE zombies, and other creatures of death--they don't even say trick or treat. And it's cold out there. A couple years ago it was snowing and there we are serpentining through cars so we can get candy--much of which is nasty and will end up in my carpet or my child's hair.

I liked it when I was a kid--it was lots of fun--but I also bathed once a week back then whether I needed it or not and I thought Micheal Jackson was super cute. My opinions from that time can not therefore be trusted.

So, I'm having dinner with a friend last night and she hates Halloween too--there are few things better than holiday bashing with a kindred spirit--so a few years ago she says in her nephew's presence that she hates Halloween. He looks up at her with these big doe eyes and says "But you go to church. You can't hate Halloween."

Inspiration #2)

Allyson Condie left a comment on my blog the other day. She wrote a book that it getting all kinds of great reviews called The Yearbook, and she reads MY blog. Is that not awesome? Kinda freaks me out with people I know of, but don't really know, turn up on this place. I mean, it's awesome, but then I wonder who else is reading my blog. We know my mother isn't (else she'd have claimed her $100), so that's probably a good thing, and I don't think any of my neighbors do, also a good thing, but if Allyson Condie reads it--who knows. Very cool thing to consider. She doesn't have a blog though, so I can't respond in kind, so I'm doing it here--assuming she'll come back. However, if she's a Halloween lover she might not have made it this far. Bummer.

Inspiration #3)

I broke my Mighty Mouse which is the best mouse every invented. It goes with my mac and I love it, or at least I did. I only dropped it four feet onto a tile floor--you'd think it could have a bit more forgiveness in it's heart after all the months we've been together. I'm rather dispondent about it, and disappointed, dismayed, disgusted, disheartened, disllusioned, distraught, discombobulated, discommoded, and disharmonious about it, which only goes to prove that I put far too much affection into material things. I'm also rather dishabille today, especially when one considers I ought to try and be a bit more diseuse than I am, but perhaps that's to be expected when one is as disonant as I am this morning. The reason there are typos in this blog is because without my mighty mouse I don't know how to access my spell check and I'm a really nasty speller. I did try and fix a few but if I don't know how to spell them, how do I fix them? It's a quandry.

Come to think of it, two out of three of the "inspiration" of this blog are rather dis-inspriational, so I suppose you can consider yourself tricked. Tis the season.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whitney Awards to offer Cash Prizes!




The Whitney Awards Committee announced today that they will be offering seven large cash awards to be presented at the upcoming Whitney Awards banquet in March 2008. These cash prizes are due to the generosity of the Whitney Awards' marquis sponsor, ExclusivelyLDS.com.

Founded earlier this year, the Whitney Awards program is a non-profit organization dedicated to rewarding excellence among LDS authors. With the new sponsorship of ExclusivelyLDS.com, winning authors will receive up to $1000 along with their trophy.

The Whitneys offer a total of seven awards. The five genre awards (Best Romance/Women's Fiction, Best Mystery/Suspense, Best YA/Children's, Best Speculative Fiction, Best Historical) will each be accompanied by a $500 cash prize. The two overall winners, Best Novel by a New Author and Best Novel of the Year, will each receive $1000.

"We're very excited about the sponsorship with ExclusivelyLDS.com," Robison Wells, president of the Whitney Awards Committee, explains. "There is enormous talent among LDS authors, and every year seems to produce better and better novels. This is an exciting
time to be part of the LDS fiction industry. Our hope is that these awards will raise awareness about the high quality fiction available from LDS authors, and to draw in new readers."

Over a hundred years ago, Latter-Day Saint Apostle Orson F. Whitney declared "We shall yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. . . . In God's name and by His help we will build up a literature whose tops will touch the heaven, though its foundation may now be low on the earth."

Anyone can nominate a novel published during the previous calendar year in any of seven categories, and a final academy of industry professionals will vote on the final ballot. Nominations are being taken for books published in 2007 by LDS authors at the Whitney
Awards website: www.whitneyawards.com

Josi's notes: Remember that novels can be entered into more than one catigory--for example, mystery/suspense and best novel of the year (hint, hint)

This is so incredibly exciting for me and all other writers and readers of LDS fiction. Please blog about this today, spread the word, nominate your favorite books and be a part of this amazing opportunity to be heard and sing the praises of the Milton's and Shakespeares among us.

PS--I think I'm the first to post! Go me!

Robison Wells
Whitney Awards President
(801) 691-9115

Whitney Awards Committee
13 West Center
Oak City, UT 84649

Monday, October 22, 2007

YOU wrote a book?

My first book had been out about six months and now it was Christmas--i.e. Christmas parties. We were having dinner at Black Angus in Salt Lake with my husband's business partners--i.e. no kids! I was looking forward to it. A good meal, no noses to wipe. I'm there.

I was still coming to terms with the fact that I was indeed, a writer. I was excited to have a published book out, don't get me wrong, but I didn't know how to present myself. I didn't want to downplay it, but neither did I want to come across as arrogant and full of myself. In the six months since my book had come out, my life hadn't really changed at all and I'd gotten mixed feedback. While some people were excited about it and congratulatory, other's seemed almost annoyed by it--I'm not sure why exactly, but there were several people--friends and family--that didn't want to hear anything about my book. It was a limbo time as I was trying to decide what it meant that was a published author.

So we're at dinner and there is a woman there that I'd never met before, the wife of one of my husband's business partners. I can't remember her name (well, I can, but I'm not gunna say it) so for the sake of the story lets just call her Jezebel--or Jezzy for short.

I ask about her kids, Jezzy asks about mine. I ask about where they live, she asks where we're at. We make small talk around the table as we wait for our meal and then my husband throws in "Josi had her first book published a few months ago."

Jezzy turns to me and leans across the table. "You wrote a book?" this is said in the tone of "You're a nuclear scientist that will save the world from utter destruction? I don't believe it."

I smile, embarrassed and kind of ducked my head. "Yeah, I did."

"You?" Jezzy said incredulously (I love this word, incredulously, but I wasn't a big fan of the tone that night). "You wrote a book?"


"A children's book?" she asks, as if any half baked chicken hawk can sit down and write a children's book. Having known a few children's authors in my time I can say without argument that the process is grueling. But people assume that children's books are easy to write and therefore she seemed to only believe I was capable of something simple.

"No, a novel. For adults."

This completely confused her. "Not a children's book?"


"Did you write it yourself?"

I try to laugh at this, but my eyes are shifting around the table, a blatant "help me" lurking in their depths. Keep in mind this woman has known me for exactly one appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. I'm wondering what it is about me that makes her think I am a) incapable of writing a novel or b) someone that would lie about it. "Yeah, I wrote it myself."

Someone breaks in and tries to save me, but Jezzy cuts them off and leans across the table. "A novel?"

"Yes," I say for the sixth time. "I wrote a novel."

"And it's published?"

"Yes," I'm getting annoyed now, but my dinner hasn't even come yet and I don't want to make a scene. "I wrote an adult novel all by myself and it's published."

At this point my husband proceeds to tell her how much some of our friends had liked it, how he'd finally read it when my friend's husbands said how great it was. She's still glancing at me over her drink, as if still trying to compute it and wondering if she's on candid camera.

"And you wrote it by yourself?" she repeated after Lee's attempts to redeem us all. About this time our dinner arrived and no one let her talk about this anymore--thank heavens.

*Case in point. When you achieve your dreams, not everyone is happy about it. In fact, some people are just plain ticked off. If you have passion and you're working toward a goal, prepare yourself for the backlash. I don't think I'm 'in your face' about my writing, in fact I rarely it up on my own, only talking about it when other people ask. I expected something different.

Of my family, including siblings, parents, cousins, in laws etc, less than half have read any of my books--I'm aware of only three that have read them all. None of them read my blog--ever. In fact, if a family member is reading this I will pay you $100. (No worries, my money is very safe, I assure you) Very few people I know outside of writing circles ask me what I'm working on, when my next book is coming out or how things are going. I have no doubt that there are some people that are hoping my career will come to an end one way or another.

Sad huh? But true as well. However, I also have wonderful cheerleaders--some family, friends, other writers, fans--that cheer me on and lift me up. There are days when they are my saving grace. As you work toward your own passions, your own dreams, hold on to the cheerleaders tightly, and be that person for someone else when they realize something BIG in their life. It's a priceless gift.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October Artsy Essay Contest~My Ideal Day

Judith over at Heartsong has apparently been sponsoring these contests for a few months, but I was just made aware of it through Daizie's profile at Cre8buzz--apparently Judith is a friend of hers and Daizie wanted to spread the love. Basically the contest is for bloggers who submit a poem, prose, photo or other blog-postable medium that fits the theme of "My Ideal Day". Posts can be posted between the 15th and 31st of October, and then she'll have another contest next month. Once you've posted, link your entry to her website and then wait for the judging. I was in serious need for something different with my writing, and this fit the bill for a wonderful creative exercise. Anyone can enter, so ponder on your own ideal day and put it out to the Universe--who knows what will happen. Also, let me know if you enter so I can read your day as well. You can find full contest details here.

Anyway, here goes . . .

My Ideal Day
By Josi S. Kilpack

Seawater clings to my skin and the tropical flora seem intent to convince me nothing in the world exists but this—right here, right now. Somewhere up the beach fish is grilling while beans boil in a covered pot. Mangos are in season and their ripening scent competes with that of the flowers all around me.

Can you smell it?

The call of a thousand sea birds fills the sky and my hammock creaks amid it’s swaying. The Ocean breeze creates a whispered symphony as it travels through the palm leaves above, behind, beside me. His footsteps approach while the waves crash and crash and crash upon the shore. They keep rhythm with my breathing until he whispers in my ear and breath deserts me entirely.

Can you hear it?

The air is thick and salty, each wave sending a tribute of itself toward the heavens when it breaks upon the beach. The sand is soft and supple on my feet and the world is moving back and forth as the hammock sways. Back and forth, back and forth. His hand lingers on my cheek, my neck, my shoulder and we try and see if it's a hammock built for two.

Can you feel it?

Sky as big as it’s ever been, the flat and flawless countenance broken only by the constant motion of sea. His eyes are as blue as the ocean surrounding us and the grasses and ferns are so green it's as if the color was invented just for them. The sun is made brighter by the reflection of whitened sand as his footprints are sucked back into the sea with every wave that rolls upon the beach.

Can you see it?

I am late for nothing and no one depends on me to be fed, or cleaned, or delivered. I have no deadlines, no appointments, no bills to pay, or calls to make. There are no excuses to fill my mind. There is no distraction from our course. And he is here too, as free as me. We have nothing to do but find us again; the us that sometimes gets lost in the laundry and board meetings, the carpools and lawn mowing.

With a little luck, the journey back to us will take all day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Blog Action day--the Environment

Hey all, did you know yesterday was Blog Action Day? Well, me neither, and now I'm a day late but I've actually been wanting to post about this topic and so I'm gunna take the chance now.

I'm not a huge environmentalist--I don't want to get hate mail, but I've been to rain forests and they seem to go on forever. I 'm not convinced global warming is a result of pollution or if it's a natural cycle of the earth. I can see the stars at night and contaminants don't keep me up at night. I know that in some ways that's horrible, and someone somewhere is putting me on their prayer roll, but I think I'm like most people in the world--because I'm okay I don't look to far beyond my own backyard. That said, I definitely want to do what I can (short of devoting my life to it) and I want to teach my kids to do the same. I hate waste--be it a shirt that doesn't fit but will fit someone else, or six pounds of packaging for a cracker sized electronic divice. So I try and make wise choices and live certain principles but I'm far from perfect. Here's what I do.

Compost: I don't throw food away. Table scraps and uneaten leftover usually goes to the chickens, who eat it and love it and save me from having to buy chicken feed. I get better and healthier eggs when they eat a good variety of food. They even eat egg shells and chicken. The only thing they don't like to eat is lettuce and banana peels--they love watermelon rinds and pasta. The goats eat a lot of leftover too--they don't like anything with vinegar.
or, if the chickens and goats are overfed, leftover food goes to the compost. Because it's fall and my garden isn't in season, I dump left over food in my grow beds. Over the winter the scraps break down to give me great soil for the plants I'll grow next year. When my garden is growing, I put compost in a different pile that I haven't quite figured out how to work yet. It's supposed to create heat and break down into great fertilizer, but I haven't got the mixture right yet so it's kind of a mess . . . okay, not kind of about it, it IS a mess--but I'm working on it. Not only does composting reuse my leftovers, but it keeps me from needing to buy commercial fertilizer and put the chemicals in my plants. (see photo of chicken eating dumped compost--this adds even more fertilizer to my garden as said chicken processes what it eats--ain't nature beautiful?)

Home Canning: I love to bottle tomatoes, pickles, peaches, pears and anything else people will give me. This no only preserves the best quality produce for later in the eyar, but I don't buy the canned derivatives as much which cuts down on the use of cans and bottles bought from the store.

I reuse the canning bottles each year. This is economical and highly rewarding. I absolutely love home canning. there is a magnificence about looking at quarts of peaches and knowing they'd have gone to rot if not for me saving them. And come January, there is nothing like peach cobbler made from home canned peach pie filling.

Recycling: I keep a garbage can under the sink and it's child #3's daily chore to divide it into the slots in an old laundry hamper in the garage.

We live in a rural area and don't have curbside, so about once a week I load the bags and boxes into my car when I'm going to drive into town for other errands. Once I got the system down it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and it really only takes me a couple extra minutes a week. Not only does it feel good to be "A Good Citizen of the Earth" but we went from two garbage cans to one--which is awesome.

So there you have it, what I do. could I do more? yes. could I do less? Absolutely. I'm comfortable where I am right now with it and foresee that I will continue to improve as time goes on. Every little bit helps, right?

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I did this Weekend . . .

Do you remember the HUD commercial from a few years ago where the woman with the Spanish accent says "I luff my keetchen." Well, I'm right there with her. I have a fabulous kitchen--including these beautiful Corian countertops:

No, that brown ring is not a chocolate cake stain (though I nearly ate one in mourning). See, I had put a pan on the stove to heat up for scrambled eggs--Friday night dinner at the Kilpack's, something to be anticipated. I'm not picky, but very particular, and I don't like putting eggs in a warm pan, I want them in a hot pan so they cook fast and in nice big clumps. Well, I forgot about the pan for about . . . oh, ten minutes--it was smoking. So I moved it to the counter to cool down. For eight years I have put hot pans on the counter and had no ill effects because Corian is not supposed to scorch. WRONG! It totally burned, and totally stunk. Did you ever light a Barbie doll on fire? Yeah, it smelled like that. And no, it's not on warranty anymore because it was the original owners of the house that put in the counter tops and the warranty was for the length of their ownership. No worries though, new counter tops will only cost $10,000.00! I'll just take it out of next month's spa budget and call it a draw (if you missed the sarcasm . . . I have no idea what to say to you)

But the weekend was not a total loss:

Like many women--maybe men too, I don't know--I play favorites when it comes to things like brands of mayo, neighbors, and clothing.

These are my two favorite pairs of pants. The blue hospital scrubs I have owned for 15 years. I put the elastic waistband in them myself about nine years ago. They are reversable and anyone that has worn good, shapeless, cotton scrubs knows that they are pure comfort. I have likely worn these pants over 2000 times. I love them so much.

The Jeans cost me $60 five years ago after I lost my baby weight from child #4--I've since gained back ten pounds and they have been kind. They are from Buckle and are perfection in denim. They are stretched in all the right places, washed so many times they are soft as a shammy and I just love em, love em, love em.

However, within days I tore both of them on the fence of my chicken coop while making repairs. I was more upset about these pants than I was about the counter top--you can buy new countertops, or at least stratigically place a vase or something--but perfect jeans and comfy scrubs? Priceless. BUT, all was not lost.

With my masterful skill with a needle (It is called a needle, right?) I managed to mend them both. I know, I know, not everyone is as talented as me, and it really does look quite professional, but I did do this myself, I swear.

So, I lost a counter top but I regained two wonderful friends that have not let me down! Long live small pleasures!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

All Good Things Come to end--Then you can own the Whole Series!

H.B. Moore--or to her close and personal friends (like myself) Heather Moor--has just come out with the last of her Out of Jerusalem series; Land of Inheritance.

She actually asked me to write up a blurb about it, so I got an advanced copy. I was crazy busy the week it arrived and put it on my kitchen counter. For three days every time I looked at it my stomach would sink. No way was I going to have time to read this. And since I hadn't read book 2 and 3 of the series, I wasn't sure I'd get into it--not to mention it was not on my summer reading 07' list and I had five titles that I hadn't gotten to.

Finally I decided I would read two chapters, then I could write something up. I hate doing it that way, because I feel that if I'm going to give an endorsement I should read the whole book--I mean, what if I base my blurb on the first chapters and then it sucks, or the author shows in some nasty scene I wouldn't have endorsed? However, I justified that by reminding myself that the book was based on the Book of Mormon, and I'd heard of her progress as she wrote it (back to that close personal friend thing), and she's not big on nasty scenes. So, I sat down after my kids went to bed and I started reading.

There was a time when I was afraid of reading at night. Not because of nightmares, but because if a story was good I couldn't put it down, which is real pain in the tail when the kids are up the next morning whether your a zombie or not. I haven' t had this problem so much in the last few years because I am so dang critical of what I read that I'm usually more than happy to put it down--for the night or forever depending on the book. Land of Inheritance, however, did not get put down. I read it straight through--not finishing until about 3:00 a.m. Truly, I was shocked. Now, anyone who has read my Summer Reading posts knows that I read Twilight and Peace like a River really fast too--but I put them down at night. No so with this one.

Talk about making stories come alive. Wow. This book was incredible. the writing was phenomenal, the characterization was so real, and the overall story was gripping and heart wrenching and faith affirming. I am so dang proud of Heather, the research on these books alone makes me cry Uncle, and she not only researched like a mad woman, but she wrote a story that I could not tear myself away from--EVEN THOUGH I KNEW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. This is a true gift, and the book was excellent. She put flesh on the bones of the time when the Nephites became the Nephites and the Lamanites became the Lamanites. You see how it happened, you feel the regret and grief when Lehi died and no longer held his sons together in a common purpose. This book was powerful and profound and beautifully done.

If you haven't read this series, please do. You'll thank yourself for making the time for them, you'll be reminded that the stories we read in the BOM were real, they really happened to real people.

Did I mention that I really really liked it?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Being the BEST

About 15 years ago I got married at the ripe old age of 18. Having been raised in a family of 11, I thought I knew how to cook and clean and take care of a home and a husband. My husband was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs and kept a good supply of frozen burritos, hence he thought Hamburger Helper was the bomb. I couldn't make much else. I also didn't know how to match my clothes or mop a floor. Cleaning my house was a weekly thing I should probably do if I didn't have anything better going on. I'd been taught how do do all these things that went into a home, but they got lost somewhere between learning to drive a car and trying to figure out what CD's were and if I really should give up on cassettes all togther. I was raising my nine year old niece within a few months. When school started she got herself up, ready, fed and to school cause there was no way I was getting out of bed before 9:00. None of this seemed like a problem to me. When confronted with moments of knowing I needed to do better, I took offense at the implication that I wasn't good enough and justified that I was being the BEST I could be. However, I continued to make small improvements that at the time didn't seem to make much of a difference.

About 10 years ago I was a mother of two. The niece was no longer with us, and we were buying our first home. I had learned how to cook--especially desserts--and I actually washed dishes every day. I woke up at 8:00 and did laundry once a week, content with dirty clothes if we ran out come Saturday. I didn't always open all my mail, putting it in piles for a few weeks and then throwing it all away when it got overwhelming. I frequently bounced checks and bought milk too close to the expiration date. When I spilled on the carpet, I chose the path of least effort and just left it there. My kids ate hot dogs at least once a day and I didn't know what a baseboard was let alone how to clean one. I'd grown a lot in those five years, but I was still overwhelmed. Now and then I'd come up against something that would challenge me to do better, and I'd justify that I was being the BEST I could be. But I continued to make small changes, small goals meant to do just a little bit better.

Five years ago I had just had my fourth child and our niece was living with us again. I cleaned baseboards once a year whether I needed to or not. I'd finally accepted that one day for laundry was not enough in a household of seven. I had learned to cook even more foods and no longer served hot dogs on a daily basis (I now traded off with mac and cheese) I sometimes cleaned up spills immediately and I had learned how to match not only my own clothes but those of my children. I had learned to do a French braid that would make it through church. I read my scriptures now and then, and opened all my mail even when I knew it was a stupid ad just in case it was important. I washed windows and moped floors on a semi-regular basis. I wore shoes when I went outside and read to my kids now and then. I was on the PTA and running a girl scout troop. I was writing on a regular basis, which meant my kids watched ten hours of TV a day, and I was finally beginning to feel as if I were really coming to know myself. I left yard tools in the yard for months on end and overcharged my credit cards because "I deserved it". I frequently forgot to brush my children's teeth and my flower beds were overrun with weeds. I'd improved, but now and then would come upon yet more moments than ever that would question if I was good enough. I would look at myself, see how far I had come and take pride in that, but wish I were doing a little bit better.

Two weeks ago I was challenged directly--to be the best mother, the best wife, and the best homemaker I could be. I came home and vented at my husband. He wisely said nothing and told me I'm doing a great job.

And you know what? He's absolutely right. I am doing a great job and my family and myself are very blessed by that. I had a week to ponder this, and then the challenge was reissued when I was in a better place to accept it.

What if I'd accepted that my BEST was the Josi of fifteen years ago, or even ten? What if I'd never accepted the challenges that came my way? Would I feel the satisfaction I feel now? And if I ignore a challenge I'm given now, am I missing out on even more satisfaction later on?

I'm not going to be a better cook than my sister-in-law, and I'm not going to be a better scrapbooker than my friend Marci. I'm not going to be a better gardener than Roxie, or a better home canner than Joan. But can I find MORE joy in being the best Josi I can be? Can I find greater satisfaction in rising to a challenge given? All in the name of blessing my family?

It is said in the scriptures that the Lord chastens those whom he loves. I have been chastened. It also says in the scriptures not to run faster than you have strength, but it does tell us to run. And, in the scriptures we are told that nothing is impossible in the Lord. Do I want to question that? Admitting we can do better doesn't negate what we have done, it simply reminds us that this life is given to us as a time to grow and improve and bless the lives of those entrusted to us. Sometimes we get mixed up and think "Do Better" really means "Not Good Enough" but I think that's the other guys way of trying to make it harder for us.

I won't be at my best tomorrow, it will be a very slow process as all other processes in my life have been, but if we have faith in ourselves the size of a mustard seed, we can become a tree in which our families will find refuge from a heavy world. And wouldn't it feel good? To be a force such as that in not only our own life, but those of our husband and children?

What say ye, shall we rise?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

General Conference--the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

*Disclaimer: For those blog-readers that are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, General Conference is a bi-annual conference for all members of our church. At this time the leaders of our church give talks about doctrine, current issues, scriptures etc. It is broken up into two hour segments, with two segments on Saturday and two on Sunday. The conferences are televised world wide. The fall conference is this weekend, October 6 & 7 and because of that we don't attend our regular church meetings.

I hate a lot of things (like PTA, Disneyland & most meetings in general) however, I absolutely love General Conference.

As a child, this was not the case. I preferred just about anything to being forced to sit in front of the TV and be bored out of my mind. As a teenager I was very outspoken of my supreme dislike of conference. It was my opinion that conference was rather blatent brainwashing by a bunch of old geezers--no worries, I have repented of that and all else my teenage years were rampant with.

And then, around the age of 17, after a lifetime of religion, I really found Jesus for myself, and through Him I finally understood what conference was about. I no longer watched the two sessions dictated by my parents, I watched them all and I took notes. I realized that these men and women, who had dedicated their lives to the gospel, were talking to ME, and they were imparting those things that my Father in Heaven wanted me to know. It was, for lack of a better word, and awesome realization.

In the last 16 years of my life I have missed exactly one weekend of conference, and my sister was supposed to record it, so it wasn't my fault. I committed to never go out of town for conference again (which is tricky because my wedding anniversary is the same week as Spring conference).

When I had kids I wanted to do all I could to keep them from having the same negative impressions I had of it as a child. And I am pleased to admit that so far, it's worked. Here's how we do it:

*WATCHING: They are only required to watch two sessions. Any two they want, I don't make them chose one or the other. We try to make sure they see the closing comments because they are usually given by President Hinckley, but the rest is totally up to them.

*GAMES: I printed off bingo cards from lds.about.com and have little candies I give out when they complete a line. We'll also let the kids put together a puzzle if they want to--something that can be done silently.

*FOOD: Everything in life is better with food. For confernece we have all of our favorites: A shrimp ring, 7 layer dip, 2-6 varieties of cookies, easy cheese, wontons. I prepare a lot of it during the morning session on Saturday, but everything only comes out when conference is on and you can only eat it if you're watching conference--they can't take a plate and disappear downstairs. The kids are so excited about the smorgasborg that they are more than happy to take their plate into the living room and pig out in front of the TV. It's also the only Sunday of the year we can stay in our jammies all day.

*OPTIMISM: My husband and I are very positive about conference. If something is said that gets our back up, we discuss it ourselves later and seek for our own answers. If we aren't in the mood for it, we are not allowed to say so. I'll crochet or do something with my hands because it's impossible for me to sit still these days, but we are there for every session.

My kids are 5-13 and they were all ecstatic when they realized conference was this weekend. We've been talking about what treats to have, they've been planning their weekend around the sessions they will be watching.

Are they getting anything out of it? Yeah, they are--I don't doubt this. They are listening to the prophet and his counselors. Much of what's said isn't really pertinent to them yet, but they are listening, they are learning, and they are making it a habit. Better than that, they have positive feelings about conference and they look forward to it.

Now, my oldest is just barely a teenager, so I know the real test is yet to come, but for us, this is working and fulfilling my goal to have my kids feel better about conference than I do.

Do you guys have any tricks? I'm all about adding more tools to my box-of-tricks.