Thursday, July 31, 2014

$175 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

To celebrate my 200th post and 100,000+ page views, I'm participating in a giveaway with eleven other  clean authors! Here are the details:

What would you do with a 
$175 Amazon Gift Card?

11 authors have come together
to give you some SUMMER FUN READING
and a $175 AMAZON GIFT CARD!

Click on the image to read a summary of each book :)

GIVEAWAY ends 8/31/14 

No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older and legally able to receive and use an Gift Code. This giveaway is not associated with Rafflecopter, Facebook, Twitter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway was organized by I Love to Read and Review Books :) 
and sponsored by the participating authors.
A.L. Sowards
Christy Monson
Ashley Lavering
In This Together Media
J. C. Whyte
Debbie Peterson
Rebecca Belliston
Rebecca H Jamison
Rachelle J. Christensen
Alivia Anderson
Julie Coulter Bellon

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Never Too Old

"It's never too late to be who you might have been."-- George Eliot

My husband's grandma passed away last week. She was 100 years old. Today, I wanted to share a few of the many things I learned from Grandma Ruth Jamison.

Teaching Herself to Read
About eight years ago, Grandma had a severe case of pneumonia and almost died. Because of the trauma, she suffered some brain damage and lost her ability to read. The weird thing was, though, that she still remembered how to teach people to read because, in her younger years, she'd been a teacher. Being the persistent woman she was, she got some phonics materials from her daughter and taught herself to read again (even though she was about ninety-two at the time.) By the time my first book came out, she was reading at an adult level and could read my book. She also read my second book and planned to read my third. She always read the paper, church materials, and other good books.

Her husband died forty-six years before she did. That meant she spent most of her adult life as a widow. She always told me that bad things were going to happen anyway, she might as well be as happy as she could about the good things.

Grandma taught herself to do just about everything. She cut hair, sewed , wielded power tools, and gardened. If she wanted to do something, she just jumped in and learned how. When she wanted a bathroom off her master bedroom, she built one. When she needed a better way to crack walnuts, she built herself this tool:

She wasn't afraid of failure. She tried things and if they didn't work, she tried again. She had this saying about a bad haircut: "I do not mind it for I am behind it. It's the folks in front that get the jar."

She had a strong testimony of our church and of God's love for everyone. She stayed close to the spirit and often gave us the exact advice we needed to hear. A few years ago, I was having a hard time with my role as the bishop's wife because my husband is a secret-keeper extraordinaire--as in he doesn't even tell me things he should. I kept talking to other bishops' wives I knew, trying to get advice. No one understood. Then I drove down to Provo for a field trip for one of my kids and stopped in to visit Grandma Jamison. Within minutes of my arrival, she told me some stories that made me feel so much better. I hadn't even asked for her help. She answered my prayers without knowing what was bothering me.

I know this makes it sound like Grandma Jamison was perfect. We all knew she wasn't. She accepted her imperfections, even laughed at them sometimes, but she never let them defeat her.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cub Scout Leader Awards

I work with some great cub scout leaders, who have served for many years. I volunteered to put together some awards to recognize them for many years of service, but I couldn't find any award ideas online that really suited the occasion. (I didn't want to do candy, and I am not a really crafty person. Seriously, I even mess up the crafts meant for 8-year-old cub scouts.) After thinking, thinking, thinking, I came up with two ideas--one for women and one for men. I'm sharing in case some other cub leaders need ideas.

For the woman's award, I found a bunch of fleur de lis charms at my local Michaels craft store. They had quite a few to choose from, even though they were hard to find at first. I attached the charm to a piece of cardstock that says, "Thank you for charming us with your skills for ___ years."

Michaels also had notebooks in the dollar section with fleur de lis designs and also some fleur de lis pendants in the jewelry section. Another idea would be to do some sort of blue and gold jewelry item.

For the man's award, I found some Krazy Glue and made certificates that recognize the men for "being crazy enough to stick with cub scouts for __ years." Not quite as cute as the woman's award, but what man doesn't love Krazy Glue?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Are Church-Goers Judgmental?

Lately, I've read a lot of posts on Facebook accusing Christians of being judgmental. These posts seem to imply that people who go to church every week are more judgmental than, say, a tattooed biker or an auditor from the IRS. First of all, accusing an entire group of being judgmental is, well, judgmental. Setting that aside, being a person who goes to church every Sunday, I've worried about this. Am I more judgmental because I go to church?

I've known judgmental church-goers. Heck, I've been judgmental myself sometimes.  I suppose the reason Christians get more blame for being judgmental is because Jesus Christ has taught us not to judge. A judgmental Christian is also a hypocritical Christian. Frankly, since no one is perfect, every Christian is bound to be hypocritical every once in a while, even if they are striving to show Christlike love to everyone. 

So why bother to go to church every week? 

I've thought about this a lot, and I've decided that for me, it comes down to the way I feel.

In the last few months, I have spent several hours at my local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Though I have, at times, witnessed courtesy there, I haven’t lately—customers tend to be in a hurry and employees don’t smile. If you make a mistake—like forgetting a social security card—you might be rewarded with an eye roll. It saps my energy to go there and reminds me of how it feels to be in middle school.

On one occasion, a DMV employee instructed my son and me to go stand at the head of a different line--not the end of the line, the head of the line--so my son could get his picture taken before his scheduled appointment. This caused a big controversy among the people who were already standing in line. Though they heard the employee's instructions, they refused to let us stand in front of them. I figured it was better to disobey instructions and go to the end of the line than to get in a fight. It was no big deal, but it made us feel terrible.

A week later, I took my twelve-year-old son to our temple. As we waited in the chapel for our turn to come, someone noticed that one young man hadn’t moved up in line with the others. A temple worker then escorted the young man, who had special needs, to sit on the front row in the correct space. No one complained. I couldn’t help comparing my temple experience to my DMV experience. I would much rather spend time with the people I met in the temple that day than with the people I'd met at the DMV.

The feelings I get from going to the temple and going to church are different from the feeling I get from going shopping or to a movie. I feel uplifted and inspired by the messages I hear. I have friends there who encourage me. Certainly, I have had my feelings hurt occasionally, but on the whole, I feel that I am better off for attending church regularly. I know this isn't the case with everyone, and I'm sorry if you have had a bad experience. 

My church friends are an extension of my family, and I love them. So, even though we are not perfect, we keep going. I'm not exaggerating when I say that some of the least judgmental people I know are people who attend church with me. Coincidentally, a few of them also have tattooes, a few are bikers, and a couple work for the IRS.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reading and Canning at the Same Time

Yep! I am superwoman. I read and can simultaneously. So far this summer, I have pitted about twenty pounds of cherries, made rhubarb-strawberry jam, and canned apricot jam. I listened to audiobooks the whole time. Here's what I've read that I can recommend:

Midnight in Austenland. I liked this one. In my opinion, it was better than Austenland. It was funny, mysterious, and romantic.

I also read The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. This book has been out for a while, and I don't know why I've never read it, considering it takes place in Africa and I love all things African. It was the perfect book for audiobook listening--a little slow sometimes, but very interesting.

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. I'd never read a book by Georgette Heyer before. (I know--shame on me!) This was my first, and I enjoyed it a lot. Again, this was perfect for an audiobook listen. I think it might have been a little too slow sometimes to be a sit-down read. My husband was with me for the ending, and he is still making fun of it. (Yes, it was a bit cheesy, but the rest of the story wasn't at all. That's what made the ending good.)

What books can you recommend?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Guest Post: Homework and the Child Abuse Hotline

Today I have a guest post over at Kersten Campbell's Blog: Life on the Funny Farm. Click here to read my humorous essay about how my son used the child abuse hotline to try to get out of doing his homework.

Kersten is a mom with a great sense of humor.

She has written this really funny book, Confessions of a Completely Insane Mother: