Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Terrific Tool for Teaching Teens about Social Networking

Rachelle’s Book Club: Sheep's Clothing
by Josi Kilpack

I love books—that’s pretty obvious and because of this adoration, I have burgeoning bookshelves. I tend to categorize my books by those I could never part with, those I want to read again, books which contain lessons for my kids, etc. Any excuse I can come up with to tell my bookshelf, “Just one more, we’ll squeeze it in right here!”

I do part with some books by donating them to my library which makes me feel a little bit better, almost like an open adoption in which case I may see them again. I cannot part with any of Josi Kilpack’s books.

Sheep’s Clothing fits the bill for all of my excuses to keep a book, but I specifically put a note to have my daughters read it when they reach adolescence. Kilpack covers the extremely timely and important issue of socializing on the internet and some of the consequences which do happen with internet predators.

Every parent should read this and talk to their kids about social networking, chatting, internet stalking, and how easy it is to assume a false identity on the internet. I especially liked Sheep’s Clothing because Kilpack took a good girl, Jess, and showed how she got into trouble. It wasn’t because Jess was necessarily rebellious or acting out, the internet predator found an opportunity and capitalized on it.

If you have a teenager, I would suggest having them read the book as it is appropriate for the young adult age group as well and would give them a first hand experience into the dangers which can lurk on the internet. Sometimes we can tell our kids something a hundred-thousand times, but until they can get a taste for what we’re talking about they won’t take us seriously. This is why Sheep's Clothing
is a great book to keep on your shelves for the whole family.

Not only is it a great teaching tool, but this is a riveting story which will keep you turning the pages as fast you can!

Sheep’s Clothing also won the prestigious Whitney Award for books published in 2007. Kilpack is an excellent writer and she has covered some interesting topics in her books. Check her out at Josiskilpack.com

You can purchase Sheep’s Clothing at Amazon.com here.Sheep's Clothing


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One Line of Scripture


Several years ago, I owned a small business in which I cleaned the homes of several clients each week. Since money was tight, my husband and I both had more than one job as we struggled to pay bills and prepare for our future family. I worked hard physically cleaning the homes and began contemplating raising my prices. I had cleaned most of the homes for over a year and felt my experience could warrant an increase in pay. I also researched and found that I was charging much less than most cleaning companies.

Each time I considered how I would go about asking for more money, I felt unsettled and uncertain as to what I should do. I spoke with my husband, Steve, many times about my feelings and he agreed that my services were valuable and I had proved my worth to my clients, but he didn’t know how to approach the delicate subject either.

I prayed to know what I should do. I asked for guidance as I struggled to find a way to raise my prices. I remember one night in particular because I spent extra time on my knees pleading with my Father in Heaven to help me make the right decision. After praying, my husband and I began our scripture study together.
We were reading in the New Testament in the book of Luke and as I read aloud a verse caught my attention. Chapter 3 verse 14 reads, “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”

The last line of this verse seemed to speak right to me and my heart warmed with the prompting of the Spirit. I was surprised at the direct and specific revelation that I had been given. Although this wasn’t the answer I thought I would receive, I decided to heed the counsel. It seemed such a simple and direct command to “be content with your wages.” I continued working and the anxiety and worry I had experienced dissipated as I was content with my wages. Money still remained tight, but our jobs were steady and we knew the Lord would help us.

A few months later, one of my clients gave me a raise because she was pleased with my work. I was thrilled and then overcome with joy and gratitude when two more of my clients followed suit. I had not mentioned anything about desiring a raise and yet had received one. Because of this experience, I was assured that my Heavenly Father is aware of my needs. Not only had he helped me find the answer to my question but then he sent a solution to my problem as well.

I know the scriptures have been given to us to guide us through our problems and help us find answers to our questions. I have continued to turn to my scriptures whenever I need help in solving a problem or making a difficult decision. Each time I read the scriptures, different verses seem to stand out which apply to my current situation. I know the Book of Mormon and Bible are true scripture and a gift from our Heavenly Father to help us through this mortal life.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rachelle’s Book Club-The First Book Review of 2009: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Rachelle’s Take on this book: Me, no likey!

Here is another book which has been denoted a classic and has left me wondering yet again, what makes a book a classic? Is it just because it’s old and the author had a neat backstory? Emily Bronte was very young when she wrote this, about 30 years of age, and died not long after.


Does a book become a classic because in order to be considered well-read you must have digested a certain amount of atrocious literature? Do we need to read certain books to say that we have read them? I guess that’s why I checked Wuthering Heights out from the library, because I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about which had been carried on for 150 years.


Wuthering Heights is probably another favorite torturous essay project for English students the world over. It definitely has topics for discussion and multi-layered characters, but I’m going to share my opinion because I can. I was so annoyed with Heathcliff that if I had been a character in Wuthering Heights, I would have found a way to commit him to an insane asylum or push him off a cliff.


I also think it was ridiculous that the whole book is told from the point of view of the housekeeper who tells “the story” to the new tenant of The Grange, Mr. Lockwood, and then he writes it all down in a journal. I guess they had a lot more time in the 1800s but I’ve never written a journal account so detailed and it wasn’t believable for me. Why not just tell the story from the point of view of the housekeeper instead of switching back and forth between her and Mr. Lockwood? Those switching points were so contrived as to also be annoying because it seemed Bronte was just connecting pieces in an effort to keep up the monologue.


I know that there are many people who like this novel as a classic literary work. There were some wonderful, quotable lines included in this novel and some beautiful description. I admit I liked the last paragraph and the ephemeral mood it put off as I pictured the heath and the shadows of three graves.


Overall, I didn’t like Wuthering Heights because the negativity of the story was carried too far and then wrapped up so nicely and suddenly in the end as to hardly be believable. Catherine Linton Heathcliff went from bubbling innocent happiness to ‘Heathcliff’ attitudes of brooding animosity toward all mankind and then back to bubbling innocent happiness just like switching gears.


But because Emily Bronte was so young and this novel is so old I can see why there is some great interest. I realize I probably will not enjoy all of the classics because sometimes I’m not in the mood to delve into the deep literary characteristics of the story. Sometimes I just want to read a book for a great story, other times it’s fun to be analytical. You can probably guess what kind of mood I was in during this reading of Wuthering Heights.


Here is some more information from one of my favorite sources: Wikipedia.org


Wuthering Heights is Emily Brontë's only novel. It was first published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, and a posthumous second edition was edited by her sister Charlotte.

The name of the novel comes from the Yorkshire manor on the moors on which the story centres (as an adjective, wuthering is a Yorkshire word referring to turbulent weather). The narrative tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.

Now considered a classic of English literature, Wuthering Heights' met with mixed reviews by critics when it first appeared, with many horrified by the stark depictions of mental and physical cruelty.[1][2] Though Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre was originally considered the best of the Brontë sisters' works, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that its originality and achievement made it superior.[3] Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor and songs (notably the hit "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush), ballet and opera.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Do you like my new photo?

If you read my blog regularly, you might’ve noticed I recently changed my header photo. I thought it’d be fun to let you know that the photo I just took down and the new one were both taken by my mom. She is an excellent photographer—not professional by trade, but pretty darn good if you ask me!





This previous photo was of my dad and my brother about ten years ago. We were out south of Burley, Idaho on Mt. Harrison and could see all the farmlands for miles and miles with the exact shape of the fields outlined. Those round circles are from pivots, or circulars--the great hulking irrigation systems which have replaced most wheel and handlines , for all you non-farming types.





The new picture was taken recently and I love it, not only because it’s gorgeous but because it is where I grew up. Those locust trees are approaching 100 years old and some of the wood used to make our ramshackle horse corral is about that old as well. I think my mom caught a perfect moment of quiet beauty on our farm which makes me happy, but also gives me a lump in my throat because I loved growing up in Idaho and I still miss it.

Hope you enjoy my mom’s talent as much as I do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rachelle’s Book Club 2009 and How to Win a Free Book!

Welcome to one of my favorite types of social networking---that is book clubs! I love reading all types of different books and then having the opportunity to talk with others about those books. It’s great to hear different takes on the same books, to learn people’s favorite or least favorite characters or scenes, and best of all to get recommendations for great books to add to my reading list.

If you’ll look at my sidebar, I’ve listed several reviews on different books. Just click on the title and read my thoughts. This has been fun for me because unlike a review given for an English literature class, I can say what I want and also choose to review which books I want.

So what part can you play in Rachelle’s book club? Well, you can say what you want too and I’d love to hear your comments (as long as they are clean and suitable for this blog). Often, a book discussion can help us to look at a different aspect of a book and enjoy it even more. Sometimes in my speed-reading I’ll get caught up easily in one theme of a book and miss out another hidden theme. When I have the opportunity to discuss a book with someone, I’m able to revisit as well as discover some aspects of the book that I might have liked or disliked.

Please feel free to offer any suggestions for my reading list. Is there a book that you would like to read and have questions about? Ask me and I’ll do my best to find information on that particular book. I’m a member of Goodreads.com and am very grateful for the feedback I find on books which helps me choose what to read.

How can you win a free book? Stay tuned throughout the year and take part in Rachelle’s Book Club by reading reviews and posting comments. On certain reviews, I will be offering a contest (which may vary in style) for a free book. Now on with the show…my first review of the year is right around the corner!

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Social Networking Warning

In the past week, I have heard several different stories about something which I found very disturbing. Three different people are getting a divorce and in each case, someone in the marriage was involved and addicted to Facebook. At the risk of sounding like a worrywart, I decided to discuss this today.

Social Networking can either be harmless or harmful and there is a very fine line between the two. If you are married, you need to be extra careful about the way in which you social network. If you are just socializing, then I recommend doing so with friends of your same gender and social situation. A married woman talking to a single male or even a married man talking to a married woman several times a week through social networking can lead to disaster. If you are your spouse is involved in a ‘friendship’ like this, you need to ask a few questions.

First, would you feel comfortable having your spouse read over your shoulder or reading your backlogs of conversation? If this question makes you squirm a little, then you need to disconnect the friendship and spend the time with your spouse or if they aren’t there—writing letters to your spouse. It’s too easy to flirt across the internet whether it is intentional or not. Many times messages get mixed because you obviously can’t hear the person’s tone of voice, catch sarcasm, or other inflections which might help you deduce the meaning of a conversation.

In one of the cases of divorce mentioned above, a woman was spending hours each day on Facebook chatting with people. She even got up in the middle of the night to “work” on the computer. Her husband found several males giving out their phone numbers and discovered that she had met up with someone she met online. A family with four children has been torn apart by something as “innocent” as social networking.

I’ve stated many times in previous posts that you need to decide what your purpose is when you start social networking, follow safety guidelines, and set rules for yourself. I would like to add that you need to also be aware of your family’s activity on the computer. You and your spouse should be completely open as to what you are doing on the internet. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you don’t want to be nosy when your spouse is acting suspicious. Ask questions and get answers.

I’ve also talked about installing an internet filter called K-9, click here for more info, which will give you a history of what has been accessed and allows you to block social networking altogether if you feel the need to do so.

Talk to your spouse about what you both feel is appropriate activity online and what you are comfortable with. Set boundaries and don’t go beyond those. Don’t ignore this warning and think that it could never happen to you.

It makes me very sad to hear about families falling apart, about kids being torn between parents. I know there are always many circumstances which contribute to divorce, but there are also many things we can do to prevent problems. If you are doing something that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your spouse, ask yourself why that is and then ask yourself what you can do to strengthen your marriage.

Remember, social networking can be useful and entertaining if you follow the rules. I’ve had very positive experiences so far with Facebook, but I also just don’t have very much time to spend there and I only allow my friends to see my wall. I’ve reported my experience with a few other social networks I’ve checked out, you can go to my archive list to see some of those. In nearly all forms of recreation I can think of, there are rules and safety guidelines, including equipment to help you enjoy and be safe. So before you social network, put on your helmet and make sure you know how to swim.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Service on Four Wheels

Have any of you ever looked around your neighborhood and thought, “I really need to get out and get to know my neighbors”? But it’s hard because life is so busy and there’s always something to keep you from being as social as you’d like. Or maybe you can’t find the opportunity aside from just going up and knocking on their door and it’s difficult to be that outgoing. So how can you get to know your neighbors? How can you build that bond of friendship with your neighbor which hails back to the types you saw in the little town of Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show or I Love Lucy?
Service. This is how you can get to know and love your neighbors.

As many of you know, I recently gave birth to my third child. Our first little boy brought much excitement to our home and the biggest appetite I’d ever seen—compared to his two sisters. For the first two months of his life I felt like an Egyptian mom, that is a Mummy or the ‘walking dead’. I was also known as “Franken-mom” for Halloween and delirious was the best way to describe me if you wanted to be descriptive. Dawson slept and ate in one hour intervals and I loved cuddling with him and taking care of that darling baby—but boy, was it difficult!

In fact, on Halloween, we were eating lunch with my husband and I told him that I was “Franken-mom” and to look at my eyes. He said, “Yeah, they look pretty bad.” Our five-year-old, Gracie, looked at me and said, “What? They’re just green and red.”
So I was pretty tired and all that other stuff that comes with being a new mom. But I want to tell you about a few of my neighbors who went out of their way to serve me and who I feel have built a lasting friendship because of this.

Several neighbors brought meals into our home to help us after Dawson was born. Several also had my girls come and play at their house for a few hours. I especially feel close to one of my neighbors who called me one day when Dawson was about 8 weeks old and asked if my girls could come and play at her house for the afternoon. She also had a new baby just one month older than mine and at first I thought I should refuse because of this, but then the backs of my eyes started to burn from lack of sleep and I thought about how you’re supposed to let others serve and gladly agreed.

When she came to pick my girls up, I thought I might cry because I was so, so exhausted, yet so grateful. Even though they were only gone for two hours—it was enough time to lay down with my baby and get a much needed nap and it let me know that someone cared about me and knew what I was going through.

Two of my neighbors took over the carpool for our little kindergartners for almost three months. For some people it may be hard to imagine just how wonderful an act of service this is. For others, you know exactly how wonderful it is. It’s hard for anyone to get the kids ready and out the door on time for school, but adding a newborn baby to the mix in freezing temperatures made me greatly appreciate how kind my neighbors were to pick up and drop off my daughter to school. They didn’t ask for anything in return, and maybe they didn’t feel like it was even that big of a deal since they were taking their kids already. But it was a big deal to me.

I love my neighbors and I love them more because they showed their love to me by serving. It was service of many kinds—on four wheels, with two hands, and loving hearts.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Network with Writers at the LDStorymakers Conference

I wanted to tell you about the most amazing writer’s conference coming up in April. The LDStorymakers conference is what I credit for getting me on the right track to becoming a successful author. I attended my first writer’s conference with LDStorymakers three years ago in 2006 and found the most amazing and professional insight into my writing. Even though I had read writing books and owned a few copies of the coveted, “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market” I decided I didn’t know beans about writing and soaked up every last tip and detail.

Each year, the conference has improved and I have learned more and more to help me on my writing path. I’ve met some incredible authors and aspiring authors and everyone is so helpful and encouraging.

I love entering the first chapter contest in conjunction with this writer’s conference because it’s a great way to get a detailed critique on my writing and a chance to win some awesome awards! I have my beautiful certificate from 2007 with my 2nd place award hanging right above my computer. It’s helpful to look at this after opening those special little self-addressed-stamped envelopes with form letter rejections. And on the topic of rejection, it sure helps to have a network of friends to encourage you in the face of rejection. Writing or specifically submitting should be listed as an alternate definition for REJECTION in the dictionary or at least a synonym. If you are serious about writing and publishing a book, then you must be ready to open many notices of rejection—hey at least you get some mail once in a while! But back to what I was saying—attending a writer’s conference is important because you can find a network of support.
This year, my first book will be published and my goal is to get publishing contracts for two more. I am still learning and honing my writing skills and look forward to many years of successful writing.

I’ve already had some friends ask me about writing and how to write a book and I’ve told them I’m not an expert, but I think you should attend a writer’s conference—specifically LDStorymakers.

I believe that attending writer’s conferences have made all the difference in helping me to achieve my goals. So if you’re in Utah on April 24-25 and you would like to attend a premier writer’s conference, check out www.ldstorymakers.com and register.
There is an early bird registration discount until January 31, 2009.
It’s a wonderful way to network with other writers, editors, publishers, agents and have an amazing time too!

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Why Social Network?

Social Networking has become a huge force in the world today for many different reasons. One of the most important reasons is business related—word of mouth is what creates business. With the internet we are able to send and receive more and more information to help us make good decisions in our purchases.

If you’ve ever tried to research an important purchase, you’ve probably found comments from other people helpful in making your decision. Now with forums such as Amazon.com reviews and comments you can find information about almost any item—books, electronic equipment, clothing, kid’s toys—you name it (or rather google it) and the internet will find it and a list of people who have commented or posted something about it on their website.

As an author, I’ve been told that a web presence is a must. Social Networking is important to me for business reasons and recreational reasons. I’ve met so many wonderful people through social networking and I enjoy putting out a good word for those books and items which I have found enjoyable.

Another perk I’ve really enjoyed through social networking is the products I’ve been able to receive and then review. I received about 10 free books last year because I was part of a blog tour or review team on those books. Free books= fun in my world!

If you’ve been thinking about joining a social network, I’d encourage you to start now. Decide what your purpose is—why do you want to network? And then search out an area that fits. Starting a blog is incredibly easy, especially if you do that through blogger.com. It’s like your own personal website which you can make private or public.

Now before I sign off, I’d like to give you the link to my previous post where I shared information about a very talented artist, David Bowman.

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Incredible New Art of the Savior by David Bowman

I'm so grateful to my friend Ali over at Girl in a Whirl who shared this beautiful art with me.

I wanted to share these beautiful pictures and what the artist has to say about each one of them!
David Bowman: has had a passion for art ever since he could pick up a pencil. He loves creating images of the Savior that inspire and uplift. Along with his Christian fine art, David has also written and illustrated a series of scripture storybooks for children titled "Who's Your Hero". Check out his website at www.bowman-art.com to see more of his precious art.



"Innocence"
The Savior tells us we need to become as little children to inherit the kingdom of God. I've often wondered what it is about little children Jesus loves most, and I think its their innocence. They are clean slates, seeing the world and others through untarnished eyes. Their hearts are pure, without the baggage of cynicism and self-doubt. In this piece, I've tried to imagine how a child would act upon meeting the Master for the first time. Without reservation or inhibition, I think he would simply want to play with Him. He would be at complete ease, allowing his pure little heart to soak in the love and laughter of His pure, infinite heart. It's no wonder Christ delights in these little ones and sets them up to be our examples.



"Security"
One of the greatest human needs is a sense of security. In all aspects of life, we naturally gravitate towards anything that makes us feel safe. In this piece, I wanted to convey a sense of complete peace and calm like only the Savior can provide. It's a security that allows us to rest assured, without fear or worry, when we put ourselves trustingly in His arms. Little children have that inherent kind of trust in their parents, so it's fitting that the man and girl who modeled for "Security" are actually father and daughter. They generated
the exact feel I was looking for.



"My Child"
This piece conveys an intimate, up-close-and-personal feeling of the Savior's love. Notice how all the lines draw your attention and point towards Jesus' face in the center. I chose the name "My Child" because the only thing that could compare (even remotely) to Christ's compassion for us is the love of a parent for his/her child. This image is also intended to put things in perspective. Above all, we are God's children first. He allows us the privelege of experiencing parenthood for ourselves and we are entrusted to be the mothers and fathers of His children here on earth.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Social Seniors

Part of my blog’s focus is to discuss different avenues of social networking. I am enjoying this assignment because there are so many varied and interesting areas of socializing in our world inside and outside of the internet. Social Networking has no age limits. No matter what your age, there is still something you can do to be a part of your community.

My Grandma is 79 years old and despite back problems and other difficulties she is still an integral part of her community, reaching out to help others. She has served as a member of the guardian ad litem, a program or group of people which meets to help individuals in the community, for many years.

It’s hard to transition to a different period of your life no matter what age grouping that puts you in. But for many seniors, feelings of isolation and loneliness are familiar as more and more of their family members move away or physical challenges limit the activities they’ve been involved in throughout their lifetime.

My previous blog is a great starting point for the senior who wants to learn how to be connected to friends on the internet. I also wanted to discuss a few ideas to look for in your own community.

Everyone wants to feel loved and needed. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t claim they are extremely busy with life, and so it’s hard to make as many visits as we’d like. Everyone and Senior Citizens in particular, thrive on their interaction with others. But that’s not the topic I want to discuss here. I want to share one important point: We can either wait for someone to come and visit us or we can reach out to others.

Here are a few ideas of how seniors can get in on social networking.
Follow the link to learn how to connect on the internet with a group of like-minded friends through yourLDSneighborhood's social networking group.

Join a book group—I love to hear about people’s favorite books and I might have missed out on some of my most favorite reads if I hadn’t talked to other people about reading. You can join Rachelle’s book club here! I’m going to be doing some fun things this year with my book club.

Tutor or mentor a student—ask around your neighborhood and either volunteer or charge a small fee to tutor a student in an area you are knowledgeable in.

Volunteer at elementary schools—many schools have programs geared toward reading. You can volunteer for just an hour a week or 30 minutes a day to read with a child in the school setting.

Teaching a class in your community—Don’t underestimate your talents and skills, many people are interested in learning new skills whatever that may be. I have learned many skills from interacting with the older (and wiser) generation. One of my most favorite learning experiences is when I learned the art of making hand-dipped chocolates with flavored centers from a lady who had made chocolates for nearly 50 years!

Take a class to learn a new skill—most cities have a senior citizen program which offers classes, but there are also other classes offered for anyone through your local school district. You’re never too old to learn something new.

All of these ideas provide a way for seniors to meet new people, enrich their lives and others, and become fun social seniors.

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