Monday, September 28, 2009

God Bless America ... and God Bless Our Soldiers

Those of you who know me or who have read this blog more than once know that I dearly love our veterans. Those brave men and women went out and faced things we will never have to face, endured things we can't even imagine enduring, and suffered unspeakable horrors so we might raise our children in safety. I can't even explain the way I feel when I leave my house on Veteran's Day and see the men in their green hats, selling poppies outside the store. I buy one every year and I wear it proudly. Thank you, men and women of the Armed Forces, for doing what you knew was right and standing up in defense of our country.

Now, President Obama has done this.

I am so appalled, I can't even offer a coherent comment.

Will America rectify this horrible mistake and vote that man out of office next go-round, or is this nation going to allow him to continue on as he started?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Code of Honor - Betsy Brannon Green

Savannah McLaughlin is not your typical mommy. She has a daughter whom she loves more than life itself, and she would be completely happy to spend her time reading bedtime stories and making peanut butter sandwiches, but this mommy hasn't been able to share these simple childhood traditions with her daughter - she's been too busy saving her from kidnappers and moving her from one safe house to another. The first two books of Betsy Brannon Green's series tell how Savannah became involved with mob boss Mario Ferrante and the dangerous games he plays to get what he wants, and now, in the third installment titled "Code of Honor," we see it all come to an end ... but who will be the victor?

Mario has always known how to pull Savannah's strings. By taking her daughter, he placed her in a situation of absolute desperation, and she became part of an elite military group, highly trained in weapons, technology, and tactics of stealth. When Mario takes Savannah herself, she uses her training to escape his clutches, but then the man she loves, Major Christopher Dane, is taken, and she must fight even harder to get him back. But perhaps even more difficult than fighting Mario is fighting her feelings for Dane - their pasts are so intertwined, their shared experiences such a mixture of good and bad, it's hard to know where her heart truly lies. The action is quick in this suspense novel that keeps you guessing from page to page, and the climax will catch you completely by surprise.

Betsy Brannon Green has been one of my favorite LDS authors since I read her first release, "Hearts in Hiding." She has a way of creating characters that seem real, and this series is no exception - you come away wishing that you, too, could be on an elite military squad and hang out with snipers - they're all so cool.

(This book was published in 2009 by Covenant Communications.)

Visit the archives of Tristi's Takes for more reviews of LDS fiction and other worthwhile literature.

Sunday Soliloquy - Making the Decision

Welcome to Sunday Soliloquy, a new feature on this blog, a place for me to share whatever spiritual thoughts I've had throughout the day.

Today I've been thinking about choices. Some of our choices are small (what should I have for lunch?). Some of our choices are forever, eternal, soul-shaping (should I marry my honey-bunny?). Each choice takes us further down our path, and sometimes those paths wind and intersect, and sometimes they separate at crossroads and we know we must make a choice as to which way we will go. Thankfully, there's always repentance if we discover we've made the wrong choice, and we are able to veer back to the path we should have taken in the first place, sometimes a little road-weary but always wiser.

Each of us, at some point and time, will be called upon to make a choice about our religious beliefs. And once that choice is made, we will then be asked to decide how we want to demonstrate those beliefs. We must each determine for ourselves what we believe, what god we worship, and to what extent we want that worship to influence our lives. Once these decisions are made, they are often tested, and we are given the chance to reevaluate and decide if we're happy with our first choice, or if we'd like to try something else for a time. In each instance, the choice is left to us. There's no forcing or pushing - we choose for ourselves.

Today I'm thinking about my decision to belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Am I happy with my choice? Absolutely. I can't imagine my life without this church, this gospel, knowledge of a modern prophet and all that brings to me. Am I happy with the level of involvement I have in the Church? No, I'm not. I want to serve more, be more in tune, learn more, study more. No one can make this determination for me - I make it for myself, and no one can do the studying or the serving for me - I must do that for myself. I'm making a decision to more fully commit. I'm making a decision to be what I know I can be and to live how I know I should live.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

And the Winner is ...

Mary Campbell!!

Mary, you are the winner of Josi Kilpack's new novel, English Trifle. I will be in touch to get your mailing address.

Thanks for playing, everyone!! And for those of you who didn't win, why, nothing is stopping you from running out to your local bookstore right this very second ... well, except for the fact that it's eleven at night and your store is probably closed. But there's always online shopping. It never sleeps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

English Trifle - Josi S. Kilpack

Sadie Hoffmiller and her daughter, Breanna, have gone to England to visit Liam, Breanna's boyfriend. He's been living in the States but family obligations have led him back to the country of his birth. On the day Sadie and Breanna are scheduled to fly back to America, they make a most interesting discovery - a man stabbed through the chest with a fireplace poker.

The police - such as they are - ask Sadie and Breanna to delay their flight home. While Sadie is a little put out by the delay, she can't deny her excitement over another mystery to solve. Armed with a cell phone and a notebook, she begins asking questions of the family and staff - oh, and taking over the estate kitchen, too. And if she happens to help along her daughter's budding romance, well, that's just icing on the cake.

I'm not sure whether to keep Josi's books on my fiction shelf or my cookbook shelf. Each of the recipes sound wonderful, while also being down to earth - you don't have to hunt down strange ingredients to make them, or buy unusual appliances and kitchen gizmos. And when they come along with a fun and interesting story, you really can't go wrong.

Contest - Josi sent me an extra copy of English Trifle for a giveaway, and you can enter to win. Visit Josi's website and find out the name of her first published book. Then e-mail me that title at All correct answers will be entered in a drawing, and on Thursday night at 6 pm MST, I will announce the winner. Good luck - and happy eating - er, reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poking the Creative Ashes

When you build a fire, it burns hot and fast, and then the embers create a long, slow roast that can go on for hours. You add wood, and you stay warm for as long as you need to. When you don't add wood, slowly the fire dies down, but the embers stay good and hot. It takes quite a while for them to die by themselves, and often, campers pour water on their fires to make sure nothing is left that could start a forest fire. The great thing about those embers, though, is that if you don't want to put out your fire, you can stir them up with a stick and throw a little kindling on there, and before you know it, you've got a raging flame again.

That's what I've been doing tonight - poking a stick into my creative ashes and bringing them back to life.

I've been really busy the last few months and I haven't had the time to write. In fact, I've even been too tired to write and haven't had the desire, and that's pretty rare for me. But tonight, I sat down and pulled up the file, and after a few minutes of inane conversation between my characters, we were off and running again, the story bursting to life just like I never left. I cranked out 1200 words before deciding it was bedtime. It felt good.

Creativity never dies out. Sometimes you've got to let it simmer, sometimes you've got to walk away from the firepit for a while, but come back and poke it. Then stand back or it will take your eyebrows off.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


This summer, my daughter went to girls' camp. The stake leaders asked each ward to be a tribe, and to choose a name for their tribe that most fit their goals. Our ward chose to be "The Tribe of the Unashamed," taken from this quote:

"I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tinted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am lifted up in prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed, will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table with the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the case of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me and when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me”. - Author Unknown, quoted by Elder Henry B. Eyring

When I first heard this quote, a thrill shot through me and enlivened me. We live in a time where it's so easy to ride the fence, to keep our beliefs a little quiet, to not call attention to ourselves. Peer pressure is stronger than ever before, and where we used to think of it as a teenage thing, it's something we face no matter what age we are. I was so glad that my daughter got to spend a whole week learning what it means to believe fully, whole-heartedly, and then to not be ashamed of those beliefs.

Today I had the opportunity to do some reading about the Prophet Joseph Smith. It absolutely never fails - the Spirit always testifies to me that he was truly a prophet of God, that the words he taught us are true, and that he died as a martyr to seal up his testimony of Heavenly Father's plan. I've had the chance to walk the streets of Nauvoo and sense what it would have been like to be there during Joseph's time, and felt the incredible power associated with a group of Saints, living together in harmony under the leadership of an inspired prophet. I dearly love the Prophet Joseph Smith, and I can't express enough how grateful I am to have the testimony of him that I have.

I'm so grateful to be led by a modern prophet today. Thomas S. Monson is a very familiar face to me, having held many key church positions throughout my lifetime. I know he comes to us at this time having been prepared by God for many years for this role, and I look at him with absolute faith and confidence that he will lead us in the ways God wants us led.

I am also deeply grateful for the knowledge I have that our Heavenly Father is truly watching over us with love and concern, and that He wants us to return to Him in His kingdom someday. I can't measure the gratitude I feel when I think about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the sacrifices made by both Father and Son to bring about that incredible blessing in our lives, if we will but just accept it. I have felt the comfort and the forgiveness and the assurance of the Lord in my life so many times, and I depend on it like nothing else.

I echo the sentiment expressed above: "The decision has been made; I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still." I also echo the scripture found in Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."

How could I ever be ashamed of something I believe with all my heart?

Saturday, September 05, 2009


I remember so clearly the day my daughter was born. I held her in my arms and absolutely could not believe that this little bundle really belonged to me, but she did. She was my daughter, my responsibility, and with her daddy, we would form a unit. The first few days were spent trying to sleep between feedings and recover from the long labor and delivery process, and it was probably three days before my brain clicked into focus. I remember very clearly when it happened. I was changing her diaper in the middle of the night, hoping she'd go back to sleep after her feeding, and the strongest feeling came over me. The mantle of motherhood had been placed on my shoulders. This child had been sent to me by God as a precious gift, and it was my duty to care for her. I knew with every fiber of my being that I was being told by God to do my best by her. I was not to let up on the fulfilling of my duties, but I was to remain absolutely vigilant in her care, her keeping, and her protection.

Since then, I've had three sons, and with each, I've felt the same bestowal of authority, only not as strongly. I think it was felt most strongly the first time because such a charge had never been given to me before, and with the boys, it was a renewal of something I already had. But I have never doubted that these children belong to me, not just physically but in a spiritual sense, and that if I do not do everything in my power to care for them, I will be accountable to my God for that oversight.

This feeling of responsibility has affected me on many different levels. Some have seen me as being overprotective. Some think my decisions are a little strange. Others have questioned my methods. But in each case, I simply tell them that I know I've done what I needed to do for these particular children. I don't force my choices on other people - I'm a firm believer in free agency and the rights we all have to choose our own paths and to explore our own options. But I have made some decisions that are off the beaten path for most people, and that's okay. Their feelings of responsibility are leading them to do different things because every child is different and needs different things, and every parent knows what their own child needs.

This is why I'm looking at our current administration with a great deal of skepticism. Some of the programs that are being discussed will be of great benefit, but others are too rigid and will not allow parents to have the freedom to decide if that will or will not work for their own children. I'm concerned that the things that are currently being passed in as law will effectually bind us up rather than support the freedom we've always enjoyed in this nation. I want to continue to choose what I feel is right for my family.

There are those who support Obama 100% and there are those who believe he's the Anti-Christ. We've certainly seen a lot of division when it comes to the beliefs of the people regarding him. I've always believed that by their fruits ye shall know them, and I'm watching those fruits. I'm watching them very, very carefully.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I Like to Read It, Read It ...

Hey, how would it be to get an e-mail announcing book releases that might be of interest to you, targeted to your own preferences, free? Sounds a little too good to be true?

Nay! Nay, it is not too good to be true! Such a thing can happen!

I just registered for Book Whirl. I selected my favorite genres, and they will send me e-mails whenever a participating book in that genre is released. How cool is that - I can read a blurb about the book and decide whether or not it sounds interesting to me. I'm all about making my life easier, and few things annoy me more than picking up a book at random to have to throw it away ten minutes later. I think this might be an awesome tool in my search for All Things Readable.

Anyway, if this sounds good to you, go check it out ... and it's free. I enjoy free.
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