Monday, September 29, 2008
Then I invite you to come on over to the neighborhood and enjoy interaction with like-minded friends. Click here to see what it's all about. There’s a new social network called Neighborhood and Friends which is sponsored by yourLDSneighborhood.com
It’s easy to join and you can automatically have your own page and a blog linked to that page. You can post comments, pictures, video, and have all kinds of fun with this new venue.
There are currently 25 different groups with topics as varied as Books, Books and More Books, Autism Spectrum Families and those that love them, Sports & Recreation, Great Gospel Music
You can easily join any group and jump in on a discussion or start a thread of your own. You can invite lots of your friends to join and also send requests to be a friend to other members in the forum. I’ve only been a part of this for about a week and already have met several new friends.
Being a member of a few writer’s and critique groups is actually what got me started on blogging and other fun web activities which have brought me so many rewards. I have made some of the best friends and met such awesome people through the internet. And because I have a blog, I have actually been able to re-connect with some old friends who “found” me on the internet.
I wouldn’t call myself an avid blogger because I just don’t have tons of time to spend on that, but I can tell you that the time I have allotted is well-spent and enjoyable.
I’ve learned things that have helped me with my family, to be a better mother, to be a better friend, even recipes to try for dinner.
So you don’t need to be on the internet every day, all day long to be a part of social networking. Some people may only check their email once a week, but still remain an active part of their group. Also don’t be worried that because this is sponsored by yourLDSneighborhood that you can only talk about LDS stuff. There are so many topics open to everyone, that I’m sure you’ll find your niche and feel comfortable as a part of the group.
If you’re trying out a new hobby and need an expert or maybe learning to share a new interest with a spouse or friend, you’re sure to find a source of information at the neighborhood. I hope that you can come visit and join a group. If you do, drop by and say hello! Click here to visit my neighborhood page.
Return to the NeighborhoodAnd while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletterbrings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDSinterviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Humans need social interaction. In fact, when we have healthy social interactions we are healthier. It goes beyond emotional health because the way we feel emotionally affects our physical beings as well. When we are regularly engaged in healthy social interaction, every aspect of our lives is affected positively. Strong social ties help us to deal with stress.
I believe we were created to be social creatures, to interact with others because we can each affect one another for good. Think of your own family, your spouse, your best friend and the interactions you have with them—be it good or bad. How do those social interactions affect aspects of your life?
It’s true that we gain our self-identity at a very young age because of the interaction we have with those who are closest to us. Strong families with a healthy atmosphere of love and kindness help create good self-confidence.
What about those who grow up in fractured families or hostile social situations? It doesn’t automatically mean they are doomed, it usually means that a person will have to look elsewhere to get the healthy social relationships they need to thrive.
This is a topic that I would like to cover over time on my blog. How we can have healthy social interactions to find joy and confidence in life.
We can nurture family relationships and also find ways to build new friendships. I will explore some ways that we can do this.
As a stay at home mom of young children, there are many times when I crave social interaction. When my husband gets home, it’s hard to have much of a conversation with the kids clamoring for our attention. Going on dates definitely helps, but we don’t get to go every night.
Females need a lot more talk time than males and so there are many ways I fulfill this need. I’m looking forward to sharing those with you.
In the mean time, I hope that you will remember the affect a kind word can have on someone. It may affect them for a day or a lifetime.
I noticed this quote in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom.
“The best way to improve a child’s hearing is through praise.”
I agree with this quote and I think it extends beyond childhood. We are social beings and we have the ability to positively influence others. Let’s start today to make a difference.
Return to the Neighborhood
And while you're there, subscribe to our fantastic newsletter. In addition to being able to shop in the new virtual neighborhood, the LDS newsletterbrings you LDS articles, LDS products, LDS services, LDS resources and LDSinterviews from around the world-all with an LDS focus. Look for issues delivered to your email inbox every week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I thought I’d share a few tips which may help you—call this a course in blog etiquette. I’m not touting myself as a professional; you can definitely look up plenty of posts on this very topic, but wanted to share a few tips which I’ve found to be helpful.
Remember that two people can read the same sentence and often “hear” a different tone of voice. Try to be as clear as possible in your writing.
For example, sometimes I’ll use an exclamation point when I’m excited about something! But to someone else, that symbol may mean that I’m angry or upset. If you’re not sure how your punctuation will be construed, stick to a period or you could add a smiley face :)
It may be wise to avoid sarcasm unless your reader will definitely recognize your satirical form of communication. Remember that your tone of voice can either be highly amplified or vaguely distant when two people read the same sentence depending on the background information/social relationship they have.
Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to share your opinion, but keep in mind that we all have differing views.
Be true to your readers. If you promise them a post, results to a contest, a review, whatever; be sure to deliver.
Remember that what you write may be read by people from all over the world, different cultures, different age groups, etc.
Give credit where credit’s due. Link to your source, provide websites, etc. where you gathered your information.
What you put on the internet will likely be available forever and ever and ever. Think before you post. Ten years from now, are you going to want to claim the post you are writing today?
Think before you speak, or in other words “think before you type” would apply to blogland.
Remember that anonymity is no excuse to be rude and just because you can be anonymous doesn’t mean you should be nasty.
Sometimes it’s better to just nod your head in agreement in the privacy of your own home than to post epic-length comments about every topic you come across.
It’s nice to have visitors and comments, so when you’re surfing don’t be afraid to leave a friendly comment. In the same breath, don’t leave lengthy personal comments, instead send those via email. Also don’t do blatant self-promotion and advertising through your comments either. This is a friendly social network, act like one.
You don’t have to know someone to leave a comment, so don’t be afraid. You may end up making a good friend by visiting a blog and commenting.
If you choose to read something, don’t ridicule the author about forcing their opinion on you. You read it didn’t you? Remember that we have free speech. Go ahead and disagree with them if you like but don’t insinuate that they made you read their blog.
Have fun in blogland. I’ve met some great people and learned a ton about them and in-depth information on some interesting topics while being a blogger for the past year. I’ve won free books and a couple other contests too. I've discovered details about writing conferences and other social gatherings that I might've missed otherwise.
There’s so much to do in blogland. I hope you remember your manners and have fun!
LDS Newsletter Subscriptions are FREE, and joining is easy.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
After attending a reunion, my family came home to discover our garden hose had broken and water had sprayed into our basement for several hours. The basement was partially flooded and as we surveyed the damage, I noticed several places where the paint was sagging off the walls revealing the sheetrock behind it. In one place, the wall seemed particularly weak.
“Look,” I said to my husband and I extended my foot towards the base of the wall where the weak spot was. I touched the wall with my toe and it collapsed. In surprise we knelt down together to look at the hole in the wall. It seemed to be filled with dirt. The next day when professionals came to survey the damage they took one look and said, “You have termites.”
“Termites! But we don’t have termites in Utah!” was our reply.
Now we know that there are actually termites in 49 of the 50 states (only Alaska is not plagued by termites). This knowledge amazed us and every person that we told. Everyone would say, “I didn’t know we had termites around here.”
My husband and I talked a lot about the termites and how insidious they are. If it hadn’t been for flood damage we wouldn’t have discovered them within our walls. We continued to find more affected areas and as the costs of repairs rose, I said, “I’m afraid to look anywhere else because of what additional damage I might find.”
It was a very stressful time as we tried to restore our basement to its proper form. Every day, different people would come in and out to work on repairs. My schedule was disrupted and the quiet time I was used to having to read scriptures, meditate, and write in my journal was constantly interrupted. Soon, I felt the effects of the stressful situation manifested in how I was treating my family. I had a difficult time communicating with my husband and maintaining enough patience to sustain me throughout the day as I cared for my two toddlers. A simple weakness in a garden hose had unleashed all kinds of problems on our home.
I learned something very important from those termites. Termites are very much like Satan: subtle, insidious, and crafty. They find an area of weakness and descend upon it with a whole colony of workers to support their destruction. Satan finds small ways to disrupt our lives and upset the balance of our homes. Once Satan finds a way in, he too can cause horrible damage.
Satan’s ultimate plan of action is to destroy the family. If he can destroy the family he will have succeeded in destroying our Heavenly Father’s plan and our divine mission on earth.
Satan’s first mission is to destroy the marriage that started a happy home. The staggering divorce rates evident testify that he is indeed working at this goal and many homes are falling to his devices.
Satan uses termites of many different forms to eat away at our marriages. Slowly they break down the walls we have against the outside influences of the world. They eat at the ties that bind and with subtlety destroy the crossbeams that our marriage covenants stand on. If these termites are not checked, the marriage will become an empty shell and lose the hallowed purpose and divine nature that Heavenly Father bestows upon all sacred unions between a man and wife.
To treat for the termites, we had to have a team of people come into our home and drill holes every twelve inches into the foundation. They drilled hundreds of these holes on the inside and the outside of our home and then pumped a substance into the holes that would permeate the surrounding areas and kill any termites that come in contact with it.
We must be just as vigilant with our own homes. We need to make sure our homes are permeated with the Spirit.
To keep strength in our marriage we have to enter a place that has walls that are impermeable— the temple. Within the walls of the temple we are reminded of the sacred covenants we have made and what we need to do to keep the walls in place. The most peaceful moments I had during the many weeks of disruption were when my husband and I sat in the temple.
Just as Steve and I knelt to discover the first signs of the termites, I was reminded that the best way to discover signs of weakening in our home in the future would be through kneeling in prayer often together as a family, couple, and individuals.
All Satan needs to enter our homes is a very tiny crack, a weak spot, a chink in our armor. We always have to be on our guard against his destroying powers. Often, Satan has a direct course into our home through the television, radio, or other media influences that are so heavily disguised as “normal” in our world. Satan’s termites are found in all 50 states and all nations worldwide; his termites are building colonies around every home and family and making plans to destroy them. Just as you would crush a termite that you find in your home, so should we all crush Satan’s attempts to enter and destroy our homes.
Return to the Neighborhood
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
This pregnancy has been difficult for me—yeah I know—what pregnancy isn’t? The thing that has been nagging at my mind is a comment one of my friends made several weeks ago. But I want to give you a tiny bit of background first.
My pregnancies aren’t a cup of tea because I have a condition called meralgia paresthetica. Think I’m making it up ?—click here to read about it.
Don’t worry I’d never heard of it until I was pregnant with my first child. I’ve been to oodles of doctors and specialists, had an MRI, and physical therapy over the course of my pregnancies. I didn’t go to any special doctors besides my chiropractor for this pregnancy because the sad truth of the matter is the pain will not go away until a few months after I have my baby. This is because my babies lie on my psoas muscle and pinch a nerve that runs down the FRONT of my right leg. No it is not sciatica, thankfully I don’t have that. Here are a few of the symptoms of this condition. I found a list on the internet and it is pretty accurate because I’ve experienced them.
Pain on the outer side of the thigh, occasionally extending to the outer side of the knee, usually constant.
- A burning sensation, tingling, or numbness in the same area
- Multiple bee-sting like pains in the affected area
- Occasionally, aching in the groin area or pain spreading across the buttocks
- Usually more sensitive to light touch than to firm pressure
- Hyper sensitivity to heat (warm water from shower feels like it is burning the area)
Now, don’t take this just as a complaining session. I told you I needed to give you a little bit of background because I’m going to ask you an important question in a minute.
From about month 4 of my pregnancy I cannot stand for more than 3-5 minutes without excruciating burning pain going up and down my leg. And those bee-sting like pains—try sleeping when you feel like you’re lying in a hornet’s nest.
So I think I’ve given you a tiny picture into what my pregnancies are like. Here’s the question one of my friends asked me after I told her I needed to go because I couldn’t stand very long. I didn’t explain anything in detail, just that I had a problem with my leg during pregnancies.
She has one child from a difficult pregnancy and she has told me that she’s done having kids. She said, “I don’t understand why people have more kids when their pregnancies are so difficult.”
I smiled at her and shrugged my shoulders and hurried back to my car. At first the comment stung just a little because I’m pregnant so obviously I have a few emotional ties going on to this baby. But over the last few weeks, I’ve continued to ponder what she said and I think I’ve come up with something I’d like to share.
Yes, my pregnancies are very hard and at times it is difficult not to feel depressed and downtrodden because there are so many things that I cannot do without pain. I have to sit down to put on my make-up, but guess what—I’m not on bed rest and I know plenty of ladies who have to endure that. I really don’t think any woman would say that pregnancy is easy.
Bearing children is probably one of the most difficult things we as women will do on this earth. So why do we do it?
Because it’s worth it. Because I never knew how full of love my heart could be until I held my sweet baby in my arms, and then until I held my second baby, and then until I cuddled my girls close and felt my third child moving inside of me. My husband and I find it difficult to remember what life was like before our struggle to have children finally was overcome with the birth of our first daughter.
Last summer I ran four different 5K races and placed in the top ten in a few of them. I had a great garden and canned my heart out. I felt physically fit and enjoyed going on long walks with my family.
This summer, I haven’t been able to run at all. I’ve bottled some green beans, but I can’t go on long walks with my family. But what I’ve decided in answer to that question/statement is that I’m willing to give up a year of my life to have a baby so that I can love and nurture that child for the rest of our lives together on this earth. I love being a mother so much that I am willing to put my life on hold for a year to suffer through nausea, sickness, pain, and the agony of trying to get it all back together afterwards just so that I can hold that precious baby in my arms and tell him how much I love him and how glad I am that Heavenly Father gave me a chance to have him in my life.
Incidentally, yesterday someone was asking me when I was going to have my baby and I told her how close I was to my due date and then she said, “And then you’re done?”
I shrugged my shoulders again, but said, “That’s definitely not a question to ask someone in this stage of their pregnancy.” And I laughed and so did she.
So why do we have children when it’s so difficult? It certainly doesn’t get any easier after they’re here. I’d love to hear your answers, but I’ll tell you mine once more.
I want to have more children because the painful incidences of one year will soon be forgotten, but the memories we will make together over a lifetime will fill my life with joy and make me the person I want to be—a mother.
Monday, September 8, 2008
I have always loved reading and I think it’ because my mom read to me so much growing up. She also paid for a library card since we weren’t in the city limits and drove us into town to check out books. We filled an old blue milk crate with hundreds of books over the years and I never grew tired of reading. She let us participate in the summer reading program at the library and was always involved in the reading programs at school too.
When I went to college, I found that I enjoyed reading textbooks! Note, this would only be for some of my classes, but still I loved learning. During my years of college, I didn’t get to read much for pleasure and so it was a treat to rediscover books of fiction again once I graduated.
As I mentioned, my first child started kindergarten this year. It has been fabulous so far, she is loving every minute of it and I love seeing her enthusiasm. Then, last week she brought home something that made me squeal with delight. A book order!
Suddenly, I remembered all of the times I had perused those thin colored-newspaper pages wishing for books. I remembered when the book orders would come in and the teacher would pass out our orders. I always felt sad when I didn’t get a book and then of course, like a kid on Christmas when I did get to order.
I know I’m weird, but that’s okay—I’m also very nostalgic and sentimental if you haven’t noticed.
So anyway, I was excited and looked over the book order with Gracie. We talked about books and I could’ve easily spent a hundred dollars, but we narrowed down the list to just a few for now. I sent her with the order form today so I hope she remembers to take it out of her backpack. I can’t wait to see her reaction when she brings home her first order of books.
I’m so glad that my mom instilled in me a love of reading and that my daughters have already caught the bug. They love for me to read to them and I do every day. It’s fun to watch how their minds work as they think about the simple plots and ask me what certain words mean or why a character has a certain facial expression in a picture.
There is so much to learn and enjoy from books and reading. I encourage you all to take 20 minutes today to read to someone: yourself, your children, a spouse, an elderly friend. Take the time to enjoy the recreational retreat of reading!
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
I love blog tours! It's so fun to get in touch with a book that I enjoy and share it with you. I especially enjoy talking to the authors of these books too.
The Santa Letters is a must-have for this holiday season. Here's a little teaser about the book:
One year ago on Christmas Eve, William died.
For Emma, the hit-and-run driver killed more than her husband - he killed her joy in life itself.
Now, as Christmas again approaches, Emma Jensen finds herself sinking into a depression that nothing can breach; not her job, not her love for her children, and certainly not the season!
Money is tight, emotions taut, and those realities are magnified tenfold by knowing that this year Christmas will be a meager, empty, and painful experience. Only six-year-old McKenna believes in miracles and the magic of Christmas. The rest of the family knows that Christmas can never be the same.
But when a mysterious package and an ornate letter arrive on the doorstep, things begin to change.
Each day, a package and a letter signed “Santa” arrive for the family, and together they come to understand that the joy of Christmas does not have to be lost forever and that God’s love can heal any wound,…no matter how deep.
The Santa Letters will take the Jensens on a journey through a Christmas experience that will have the power to heal them all.
This is a beautiful story about life, love, and enjoying our blessings. I enjoyed the emotion of the story and the window it provided into those who struggle with grief.
Once you read the book, I'm pretty sure you'll agree that The Santa Letters are a great idea and I think it’s neat that Stacy put several ideas of how to give Santa Letters to others in need.
Stacy was kind enough to answer some questions for a great author interview. Read on to learn more about her experiences.Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
It was something I did for my own family on a limited budget (due to legal and counseling bills) hoping to help them heal after I'd found out that two of my sons had been in a sexually abusive situation. I was desperate to find a way to remember all the gifts we'd been given throughout our lives and hang onto those.
I have taken part in the 12 days of Christmas before and other fun "secret" acts for the holidays. It seems natural to do these kinds of things during the holidays, but then there isn't as much emphasis once the new year rolls around. What do you recommend we do to keep the spirit of service alive all year round?
To remember with a grateful heart the true gifts of the season that affect our lives year round and to follow in the footsteps of the Savior. It's easy to forget such things during our day to day activities but they are the things that matter, that bring peace and true joy. Once you understand that, you then have the desire to help others find that kind of peace and joy especially as you watch them struggle. When you are grateful and follow the Savior, your capacity to love is increased and service and making a difference becomes integral to your own happiness as you share with others.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
I have different ones for different reasons. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for laughter, A Muppet's Christmas Carol for entertainment, A Christmas Story for nostalgia but the best Christmas movies for me are those of my own family enjoying the season together. Commercially, I don't think the ultimate Christmas movie has yet been made.
What is your favorite Christmas book/story?
I'm a self proclaimed Christmas junkie so I have a grand collection of stories both short and novel length. My favorite short story is about a group of animals that proclaim their own great traits being somewhat snide and condescending to the little humble donkey who did nothing more than carry the mother of a king. My favorite novel length Christmas story up to this point has been The Christmas Box.
Was it difficult to write and sell this story?
It was very difficult for a couple of reasons. First because it was intensely personal and I had doubts that anyone would be really interested in a story about a family who found a way to heal and secondly because that family found healing through understanding the life and mission of the Savior. Ultimately, I decided to write it because in a day and age where so many people are publicly trying to take Christ out of this nation, I felt it important to write a story that put Him back into the holiday that is named after Him and give the silent majority a story with hope and healing.
What advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Follow your dream and when a story chooses you, put your fears aside and write to your passions and what's in your heart. And practice, practice, practice! Hone your skills in whatever way you can whether that be classes, a job or self evaluation and writing groups. Just write!!!
What other writing projects are you working on that you'd like to share with us?
I have a book coming out for Mother's Day called Life is Tough - I Doubt I'll Make it Out Alive and another one coming out for Christmas of 2009 called The Legend of the Star. But the project I am excited about right now is the companion book to The Santa Letters called The Inmate Letters which picks up with Guillermo's story. The first chapter is posted on my website http://www.thesantaletters.org/. All of the other projects I've got in the works are listed on http://www.stacyganderson.com/.
Anything else you'd like to share with us?
I just appreciate all who have embraced this little story and am overwhelmed by the response it's gotten. It's not really my story though, it's just one I was blessed enough to be a part of. And I hope that people take from it this - the understanding of where true peace and happiness come from and to remember that those who cannot first find Christmas in their hearts will never find it in prettily wrapped packages under a tree. Thanks, Rachelle, It's been an honor!
Purchase The Santa Letters at Amazon.com, click here or at Deseret Book
To find out more info and see other great reviews visit Stacy’s blog at http://www.stayinalivewithstacy.blogspot.com/ or her website at http://www.thesantaletters.org/
Monday, September 1, 2008
Now fast forward quite a few years. I live in Utah County and Labor Day is definitely a fun day here because of Payson Onion Days. My husband grew up in Payson and so he always got to celebrate the holiday.
The preparation starts early with my in-laws setting up chairs by the Payson park on Saturday night so they can get their coveted spot! Then a great parade starts at 10:00am with all kinds of floats, bands, people throwing candy, even a bagpipe band. My kids especially like the people throwing candy and the “princesses” which are the royalty from different cities waving from their floats. My three-year old even has the wave down.
Then after the parade, if you’re lucky you may get to hit a few of the carnival rides in the park. Or you might just enjoy walking around all of the different vendor booths or eating some delicious food from one of the food booths. You can’t beat a hot scone with melting honey butter dripping in sugary rivulets down your hands, can you?
For the Christensen’s, we all head over to Mom and Dad’s house and get ready for a barbeque with all kinds of salads, desserts, and you can’t forget the homemade peach ice cream. The cousins all love playing together and the adults enjoy some great conversations, maybe even a few political debates.
It really is a fun holiday, filled with family, food, and friends.
Today I’m writing this blog during the parade while my husband takes my two little girls to see the festivities. Since I’m very pregnant, it’s very uncomfortable to do a lot of things—including sitting in a little folding chair on the sidewalk. I helped get the girls ready and it was funny to dress them in Levis and jackets because it’s only about 60 degrees right now. They were very excited to go and I was a little sad I had to miss the fun, but don’t worry, I won’t miss out on all the fun. I’m heading over to the picnic afterwards. And maybe I won’t be missing as much as I thought since a huge rainstorm is supposed to be coming over the area very soon. Usually if you take an umbrella on Labor Day it’s for the sunshine, not the rain.
I hope whether your Labor day involves festivities and parades or some good hard labor that you enjoy it. Even though my Labor Days are a bit more fun now, I don’t begrudge the memories I have of working together with my family. Any time spent with family is a good time—spend it wisely!
* Guess I better update here and report what happened. Shortly after I posted this on Labor Day, my husband called and said it was pouring buckets of rain and then hailing and they all needed a change of clothes. So they didn't get to see much of the parade and everyone escaped to Grandma's house to dry off. Pretty crazy day!
Return to the Neighborhood