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Me and You against the world

My husband is the most stubborn male on the planet.

And I'm the most stubborn female.

Of course when we were dating we fooled each other into thinking we were the coolest, funniest, most chill people. We were both in shock when we found out how headstrong and deadset the other was.

There have been times when I've thrown my hands out, looked up at the sky and said, "WHAT were you thinking?" Because this had to be the most fiesty, fiery matchup ever made. But I never questioned if it was right. I knew what I'd felt when we were talking about marriage and I trusted that God knew what was best for me.

So yesterday Husband and I decided to go running. It was so nice to throw on our running shoes, leave the kids playing outside and never have to leave our own land. I slipped in my earbuds and he did the same (only because I can't talk when I'm running. I can't even breathe). He looked over at me, smiled and tipped his head to signal we should start.

Here's the thing about Husband. He can up and run six miles even if the last time he ran was a year ago. I'm lucky to push out two miles with occasional breaks, no matter if I went yesterday. Proven fact: His lungs are twice the size of a normal guy. Mine are average, but one quarter of mine traps air in, which means I can't push the air back out so that I can take another deep breathe. It's kind of hilarious. I spend half the 'run' with my head between my knees.

I'd pushed shuffle on my phone, not feeling too picky and wanting to see what song the universe chose for me. You have to know that my phone is full of church music, country, and teeny bopper tunes. It's hard to find a pump it up song in the mix.

So this song from the Nickelodeon made for tv movie Rags came on. And I let it stay. And then I fell in step behind husband and told myself I wasn't going to think about every breathe I took. I listened to the song and before I knew it we'd run half a mile. When we got to our 'track'—a huge field with a swath of grass cut out around the edge—I told myself to just keep watching his feet. If I could keep up with those feet then I could do this.

As I'm running, watching his feet move up and down, I had this montage of memories flood me. The song I was listening to is sorta cheesy in the movie, but it was perfect for me at that moment.

Put your heart in it.
You can go the distance.
Me And You Against The World.
Sky is the limit.
Push to the finish.
Me And You Against The World.
We did it for love.
We tried and we won.
We'll never give up.
It's Me And You Against The World.

We fight together.
We're down forever.
Me And You Against The World.
We stick together and it gets better.
Me And You Against The World.


And I was thinking about all the times our stubborness pulled us through something really hard.

A miscarriage. Two healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Getting Husband a job as a firefighter. Him working full-time and going to school full-time. Another baby. Packing it up and leaving the farm so we could go to vet school. Vet school itself. Me lying on the bathroom floor hemorraging as he says, "Don't you dare pass out on me." Giving birth to our sixteen-week-old baby and hemorraging again at the hospital. Waking up from emergency surgery to see a hose of blood being pumped into my arm and then looking up to see him standing over me. He talked the nurses into sneaking him into the operating room so he could be there when I woke. Him digging the grave to bury the baby with tears streaming down his face. A year later Him standing by my bed as I suffered eleven hours of epidural free labor delivering a gorgeous baby girl. His graduation. Crying on the phone with me when I told him my dad has passed away. Him being a pall-bearer at the funeral. Packing our house in Christiansburg and unpacking in Buckingham. It was a day from Hell. No electricity in one hundred degree weather. And yesterday as he and I jammed to music while we painted his vet clinic.

The thing is, those two stubborn, headstrong kids that got married? They don't exist anymore. What's left in their place are two much more mellow, kind, easy going people. I like who we are now. No. I LOVE who we are now. 

Sometimes I go on farm calls with Husband just for fun. Or we take a walk or a four-wheeler ride. Or I get my pants beat in Ticket to Ride. I'm his secretary and I've resigned myself to that. And I'm actually finding joy in doing this job that will further his career. My heart is overflowing as I finally learn that serving the man who has never left my side, even when things were downright ugly, brings me the best kind of peace.

He doesn't give up on me, no matter what. And I can't give up on him either. God could see that in us even when I couldn't.

So Bry—as long as your feet move up and down, I'll be right there with you.






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The Little Things

Oldest Daughter and I have sort of fallen in love with One Direction. Those boys are charming, and cute, and funny and most importantly they can sing. Boy can they sing.

They have this song called Little Things.

It starts like this:

Your hand fits in mine like it's made just for me 
But bear this mind it was meant to be 
And I'm joining up the dots with the freckles on your cheeks
And it all makes sense to me...

And then it goes on talking about how she doesn't like the crinkles around her eyes, or her stomach or her thighs... It's meant to be a love song, and I love that about it, but it makes me think about life too. All the little things that make life good.

Like catching Husband on a day when he's shaved, and he lets me rub my cheek against his.

Or when Oldest Son is describing something he's really into, and I can admire his handsome face without making him too uncomfortable.

Or When Oldest Daughter smiles at me with that dimple that I want to poke my finger in, or stares up at me with her vulnerable clear blue eyes.

Or when Youngest Son does his goofy dance where he shakes his rear and points up and then down over and over again.

Gordon B. Hinckley left behind one of my favorite quotes...


“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

Tonight I took Oldest Daughter and two of her friends to see Wreck It Ralph at the dollar theater. She and her friends sat in a three seat row, while Big Girl (4 years old) and I sat in front of them. OD and her friends were chatting and eating their popcorn while the previews rolled. And BG looked over at me with a huge smile and said, "Mommy, you're my best friend." And then she laid her head on my shoulder. My heart was a puddle in my lap.

We have these huge, amazing moments like getting our first book published, or graduating with a graduate degree. We live, dream and work for those moments. But they're over so fast and then we're back to the grind. 

So in between we have to remember...it's all about the little things.


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Handwritten

I ran across something yesterday that had my dad's name on it, written in his own handwriting. And it hit me right in my chest. One of my friends whose dad passed away a couple of years ago warned me that I would have these kinds of moments—where'd I see something in the most random place that reminded me of him and it would stop me in my tracks.

I think the strangest thing to grasp about death is how life goes on. Nothing really changes when someone you love dies. The house still gets dirty, the kids still have homework, dinner still needs to be made, and the dust has to be wiped up. It seems so wrong. Wrong that somebody who lived eighty-five years is now nothing more than a memory. He takes up no space anymore. He's just gone.

I think that's why his name, written in his own personal crooked cursive, made me pause. It was like he was waving his hand from the other side, saying, "Hey, remember me? Remember how important I was in your life?"

Handwriting is one of those things that is personal and no else has the same style as anyone else. I kind of love that now that my dad is gone. It reminds me that he was unique, special, hard-headed, soft-hearted, worry-warted. He really lived and loved us. And his name is left behind so we'll never forget.

He was.

He is Carl Mitchell Henshaw.

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The movies I've watched in the last week.


I promised myself that my kids and I were going to watch tons of movie this break and we have.

Here's a lump-list review of everything I've seen in the last week:

HERE COMES THE BOOM: I typically hate stupid/funny movies, but I wouldn't mind owning this one. It was the perfect amount of funny, and had a pretty dang good plot (as far as comedies go), plus my kids loved it and we couldn't stop laughing. The acting was good and the script too. We were quoting lines and giggling on the way out of the theater. Definitely two thumbs up.

SWAN PRINCESS CHRISTMAS: No, no and no. And no some more. Even my daughter who loves the other Swan Princess movies hated this one. She said it was boring, plotless and they changed the appearances of the characters and not for the better. Pass.

TINKERBELL: SECRET OF THE WINGS:  I'm not even a fan of these movies but I really thought this was cute. Good plot. And I'm always a sucker for a sibling relationship movie, even if it is fairies. Definitely worth watching with your daughter. My girls LOVE this movie.

RED TAILS: I was so disappointed with this. I've been wanting to see it for a looonnnnggggggg time and had even heard good things about it. Granted, I heard good things about it from my teenage nephew, but still. The acting was bad, the lines were cheesy and did I mention the acting was bad? Oh, and way too much unnecessary swearing. It just felt thrown together, which is sad. It had so much potential.

SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT: So this is a really old movie. Like I think it was made the same year I graduated from high school. So, yeah, really old. I have loved this movie since the first time I saw it, back in college. And all these years I've been waiting to find it for cheap. It happened to be in Walmart right before Christmas for five bucks. Score! Finally. I was worried that now that I owned it, it wouldn't be as awesome. But it totally is. Awesome soundtrack, Whoopi Goldberg is hilarious, and it has an underdog defeats all plot, which I always love. So glad I finally have a copy for keeps. I'm going to wear it out!

And last but not least: LES MISERABLES: Do I really need to review this? I'm pretty sure every person in America saw this before me. Anyhow...I liked it. I won't buy it, and I wouldn't say it's one of my favorites, but I'm a sucker for the music and I thought all the actors/actresses did a fabulous job. Seriously, I'll be shocked if it doesn't win some Academy Awards. Also, up until last night I held no love in my heart for Hugh Jackman. I think it's probably because I've never liked any of the characters he's portrayed. And opposite of every other woman I know, I do not find him attractive. But I thought he was AMAZING in this movie. Seriously. Perfectly cast. Which is very shocking to me. I also thought Russell Crowe was impressive, as was Anne Hathaway (but I've known that for a while.) I have to say, though I like Amanda Seyfried a lot, her voice was kind of shrill.  Like Snow White in the Disney cartoon that my sister-in-law pawned off on me because it grated on her nerves shrill. And I hate to say that because I thought she was adorable as Cosette. And I really like her as an actress and even enjoyed her singing in Dear John. A lot. I'm just not sure she's a soprano. Anyway, Husband hated this movie. I tried to tell him to let me go with the girls but he would not relent. As we were walking out, he was like, "What was the point of that?" And I was like, "The main character changed. He took a journey and came out better than he started." And Husband was all, "I could have told you that story in fifteen minutes. Plus everybody died. Depressing."

And I shrugged and said, "That's Les Miserables." I mean, the title tells you everything you need to know.

What movies have you seen this lately?

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The Parable of the Hussy

And it came to pass that a bony, ugly yet innocent hunting dog showed up at the farm. All the children  jumped up and down joyfully, begging to keep the dog. But the mean, hideous parents tried to talk them out of it.  The male chocolate lab agreed wholeheartedly that the girl should stay. So much so that he and his new love took off for a midnight rendevous and weren't back when the sun came up.

And there was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of the teeth by the children on the farm. For they loved Max the chocolate lab. His floppy ears, big goofy feet and stick fetching abilities. All day they prayed. Through Math, Language Arts and Social Studies they prayed. Through lunch and recess too. And when they got home there he was! Their hearts were full and they rejoiced exceedingly. For God had heard their prayers and answered their pleas.

But then the evil harlot Lucy returned, looking as innocent and sweet as ever. And the naive children again fell for her charms, begging the beastly parents if she could stay. Again she led Max, the Lab away, to be gone for hours, his family never knowing if he would return. Participating in unthinkable behavior.

And the beastly mother had had enough. She called the Beast of all Beasts: The Animal Control guy. He carted off the innocent, yet evil Hussy to doggy jail. Good riddance, Hussy we yelled as she rode off whining through the bars! (There were a few tears from the children and great sadness in Max's eyes). The evil temptress was gone and life could get back to normal.

Only, it didn't. Because Max was not repentant in his heart and wandered over the county whenever he got the urge. What was he looking for, you ask? Possibly a new Hussy, or a better bowl of food. Having no care for the heart palpitations he was causing his owners, or the worried brows of the children on the farm. Yet their Heavenly Father never let them down, for one owner found the wandering Max just this morning tied up in someone's yard on Route 60.

Oh will the teenage boy dog never learn?
Will the evil influence of the Hussy ever fade into the past?
Will the children ever realize the Hussy is to blame?
Will the owners ever get off their butts and get dog tags?

That is for you to interpret.

And for me to get off here before I get struck down.


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What and why I write

September 6, 2012


What I write: Young adult, coming of age, bittersweet romances that will make you laugh, cry, swoon and fall in love with fictional people.


Why I write: Because I have to. I love it too much not to. And honestly, because I never knew how happy I could be until I found writing.

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Like Rachel--Short Story

Jerusalem-600 B.C.

My sister, Miriam, linked her arm in the crook of mine and sighed. Nephi was running through the market, headed in our direction.

“Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” I giggled. She elbowed me in the ribs and whispered, “Do not embarrass me, Abigail.”

Nephi halted in front of us, his face red and his breath shallow. “Your father said you must come quickly! The baby is almost here.”

“Oh, thank you, Nephi,” I said. 

“Yes, thank you,” Miri replied, her voice shaky.

“You are most welcome.” He grinned at her. As we stepped past him to start home, he reached out and gave both our braids a nice tug.

“Ouch!” Miri and I yelped.

Nephi chuckled as he ran the other direction.

“See, I told you he liked you,” I said to my sister as we hurried through the crowded street.

“Why? Because he pulled my braid?” She scowled.

I nodded, smirking.

“How does that mean that he likes me?” Her eyes had turned hopeful.

“Thirteen year old boys are thick.” I tapped my forehead. “Believe me, in a few years he’ll be dropping flowers at your feet. He doesn’t know how to handle those feelings yet and he’s probably as mortified of you knowing how he feels as you are. So he pulls your braid.” I shrugged.

Her forehead furrowed. “But he pulled your braid, too.” Her eyes went wide. “Maybe he likes you.”

I laughed and shook my head. “No, he pulls my braid because he does not want to single you out. If he only pulled your braid when I was standing next to you that would be almost like admitting his feelings for you.”

“Oh.” She sighed again and lost herself in thought for a moment.

"Which boy do you wish would pull your braid?” she asked, studying my face.

"No one,” I said a little too fast. “I’m too old for that.”

“You’re only thirteen, like Nephi. Only a year older than me."

My face turned red, but I said nothing.

“I see you looking at Sam. I know how you feel."

“Sam who?” I laughed, my voice shaking.

She threw a hand to her forehead and swooned. “Oh, Sam, will you please tug my braid."

Now I elbowed her in the ribs. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

We were finally home and not a moment too soon. A baby’s cry rang through the air. Miri and I ran through the door to see Father pacing, with our little sister, Isabel, urging him to sit down. Two of our older sisters, Leah and Rachel—named after Jacob’s wives—were helping mother in the birthing room. Hannah was working on the evening meal.

“The baby is here, Father. Everything is fine. Sit down,” I coaxed. He looked into my eyes, his face softening and nodded. He sat down on the chair. He leaned his head into his hands and began muttering.

The bedroom door burst open and Leah rushed out. “It’s a girl!” 

I glanced at Father, waiting. He threw his head back, thrust his arms toward the ceiling. “Why do you keep sending me daughters? No more daughters!” He leapt to his feet and ran to the bedchamber.

Miri looked dejected. I giggled. Her eyes shot to mine. “What are you laughing about?” she hissed. “He doesn’t want us.”

I laughed harder. “Of course he wants us. He does not love us more or less than our brothers. Didn’t you see? He ran in there to meet his new daughter. It only took him a moment to gather his wits.”

“Why does God keep sending girls to this family?” Miri asked.

“Yes, why? Girls are not important,” Isabel, my seven year old sister asked.

I sat down beside her and put my arm around her. “Why ever would you think such a thing?”

“Because the scriptures only talk of men,” she said.

I threw my head back and laughed. “That’s because men wrote the scriptures. If females had written them, they would have been so much more interesting.”

Miri’s face turned ashen. “You blaspheme, Abigail!”

I rolled my eyes. “Have a little fun with me. How would the scriptures be different if women had the choice of what to include?”

Isa bounced on her knees.  “Less war and more romance.”

I clapped. “Yes, it would be every girl’s favorite book. Instead, the only romance we get is poor Jacob who had to work seven years and then is tricked into marrying Leah. Then he has to work seven more years for Rachel’s hand.”

“Don’t forget Queen Esther,” Isa said.

“True, Isa. And you see, those are our favorite stories,” I said smugly.

“But God told the prophets to include what He thought was important,” Miri added, probably trying to protect us from being struck down.

“I agree, Miriam.” I smiled. “But I think we girls sometimes feel like God doesn’t love us as much and I can’t believe that’s true.”

Isabel looked at me with her trusting eyes, waiting for more.

I crouched in front of her and said, as if I was telling a great secret, “I think girls have miracles every day, they just aren’t written in the scriptures.”

“Really?” Isa replied.

I nodded.

“Have you had any miracles?” she asked.

“No, but I will.”

I had to. I just had to.

* * * * *

“What are we naming her?” I asked, as I stared into my new sister’s sleeping face. I nudged her soft cheek with my nose and inhaled.

“Sarah,” Mother replied from the bed.

“We are running out of girl names,” Father said.

“No, we’re not, Ishmael. It is fine.” 

Sarah stretched in my arms and let out an ear-piercing cry.

“Bring her to me,” Father urged. I placed the baby in his arms. He leaned down and pressed his lips to her cheek. I could imagine how it must feel—his beard brushing up against her skin. She calmed instantly.

“Abigail, I want you to walk out to Lehi’s house and let Sariah know that the baby is
here,” Mother said.

“Can’t Miriam do it?” I asked. She would enjoy the task so much more than I would.

“No, Miri is helping Hannah prepare the evening meal. I want you to go now, please.”

“Yes, Mother.” I leaned down and kissed her forehead, sending a silent prayer
to God for preserving her through one more childbirth.

As I walked toward Lehi’s house, my stomach tensed and my heart thudded against my ribs. It was this way every time I knew I was going to see Sam. I always wondered—Will today be the day? Has my time come? Will he finally notice me?

By the time I reached their vineyard my hands had turned clammy. My calves burned as I climbed the hill toward their house.

I was at the last row of trees, almost to their yard when I heard a snarly voice.

“Well, if it isn’t Gabby, Abby!” Shana ben Levi said. I groaned inside.

Everyone knew Shana had eyes for Sam, and any girl who threatened that was destined to be humiliated.

I glanced over to see her and Sam standing next to a tree. I must have interrupted their time together. I felt the dread rise in my throat.

Sam leaned away from her, embarrassed at her words. “Shalom, Abigail.” I hated the way he was always so formal with me. I glanced into his dark brown eyes, looking for something. But there was nothing.

“Shalom, Sam.” 

“What brings you all the way out here?” Shana asked, eyeing me up and down like she wanted to devour me for dinner.

“I…I’m…” I couldn’t remember why I’d come. I could feel my face flushing.

“Did your mother have the baby?” Sam prodded.

“Yes, could you please tell your parents?” 

“Of course,” he said with a smile. A tiny dimple appeared beside his mouth and my heart jumped. I felt my face turning even redder. Shana was smirking now, a knowing look in her eyes. I needed to get out of there before the dog attacked.

“I have to go,” I said to them. I turned and started down the road, trying to escape Shana’s steely glare.

“Isn’t that cute? She’s got a crush on you, Sam!” she said when I was still well within hearing range.

“Leave her alone!” he hissed. "She's just a little girl."


I sped up, the tears burning at the back of my eyelids. A little girl? I was only two years younger than him.

Shana again. “She could hardly look at you. Did you see the color of her face?” I could barely hear her now. “It was the color of a beet!” she laughed. 


I broke into a run. I flew down the road, lifting my robe so I wouldn’t trip over the hem. Mother would be horrified if she saw how much leg I was showing, but I didn’t care. I ran harder than I ever had in my life. When I got to the road that would take me back home I didn’t turn. Instead, I kept running straight, out of town.

Once I reached old Aharona’s olive grove on the fringes of the countryside, I turned, losing myself between the branches of the trees. My legs flew, brushing over and over against the cloth I was wearing. I was almost there. Finally, I found the tree I was looking for. It had a twist in it, perfect for me to sit and get lost from the view of any passersby. I crawled up the trunk until I was tucked into the crook of the branch. I tucked my knees up against my chest and began to cry as the breeze swirled my dark hair around my face. I sat that way until long after the dinner hour. Then I began to talk to myself.

“Why do I feel this way inside?” I whispered. “I hate that I’ve always cared for Sam. He only hurts me.” I sobbed. Sam ben Lehi was not the type of boy who would hurt any one knowingly, yet my heart broke every time I saw him because he did not see me the way I saw him. I’d tried everything to get rid of these feelings, feelings I’d had for as long as I could remember, but they seemed to be stuck.

“Dear Heavenly Father, the God of all Miracles, please help me. Please free me from these feelings,” I cried, tears now dripping off my chin. “I want it to stop!”

The breeze died suddenly.

“Be still,” I heard a voice whisper. 


My head jerked up and I looked around to see who’d said it. But there was no one in the grove. I leaned my head back against the rough bark and closed my eyes. It came again.

“Be still, Abigail. These feelings are for a wise purpose.” I squeezed my eyes tighter, disbelieving this was happening to me. “One day Sam will love you and you will be his wife.”


My eyes flew open; searching one more time to be sure this voice wasn’t being spoken by someone playing a cruel trick on me. But I already knew from where the voice had come, because no mere human could place in my chest the peace that was now burning inside of me.

I sat in the tree for a while longer, my tears now drying up; my sorrow turned to happiness, waiting to be sure the miracle was over. When I was sure, I jumped down out of the tree and took off running for home.

God spoke to me!

* * * * *

When I neared my home, I heard my mother’s voice break out into a wail through the open window. My stomach tensed. Something was wrong!

I rounded the corner of the house and almost ran into Sam, sitting on the doorstep, blocking my path. He jumped up.

“Oh, sorry! Abigail, I…” he started. When he looked into my face—I’m sure still red from my crying—his expression turned ashamed.

“Not now, Sam.” I had to get to my mother. I brushed past him.

He followed me through the door, my heart racing from the fact that he was actually trying to talk me and from the fact that something inside wasn’t right.

“Abby! Where have you been?” Miri cried. Her expression was panicked.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. She grabbed my hand and led me to the room where we greeted guests. Sam was right behind me.

“This is foolishness!” my father bellowed to Lehi.

“No, it is not,” Lehi said. “For many years I have felt that Jerusalem will be destroyed. The Lord has told me that my family must leave or we will be killed.”

“They are leaving?” I whispered to Miri. She nodded as she wiped her cheeks with her sleeve.

“For good. They are never to return,” she whispered.

“Where are they going?” I asked.

She shrugged. “To some promised land that God has saved for them. It means that we will never see them again!”

I slid my arm around her waist. She leaned her head on my shoulder. I glanced over at Nephi, who was watching her. He glanced away. He did not look happy, but he did look resolved.

What did this mean? How could I marry Sam when he was leaving, never to return? Had the feeling I just had really been from God?

For over an hour, Lehi tried to persuade my Father to go with them. But Father would not agree. “My wife just had a baby." ”We have no provisions! We can’t leave all of our possessions!” On and on it went.

“Then it is time for goodbyes,” Lehi said, defeated.

Mother stood first, pulling Sariah against her. They began to sob. I felt a tear slide out of the corner of my lid. I brushed it away.

Nephi stepped in front of Miri and I. “Goodbye,” was all he said. His forehead was creased, and I could tell he was holding back the tears.

Miri grabbed him and pulled him into a fierce hug. His eyes flew open but his arms slid around her. He hugged her tightly for just a second. Then he stepped back.

I hugged him, too. Nephi had always been one of my favorite people, and I would never see him again. Another tear trickled down my cheek.

We hugged them all, one by one.

Finally, Sam stood in front of me. He grabbed me by the elbow and led me to a corner of the room.

“Abigail, I wanted to apologize for earlier, for what Shana said,” he whispered.

I held my hand up to stop him. “It’s fine. Really, I’m alright. You shouldn’t waste your time worrying about me,” I nodded.

He gazed into my eyes for a second, and I knew what he was doing. He was trying to figure out if Shana knew what she was talking about, to find out if I did have a crush on him. I kept my expression as neutral as possible. Finally, he nodded too.

I held out my hand. He grabbed it tightly and we shook.

“Good luck…with everything,” I said, fighting the tears that were determined to fall.

“You too." Then he turned and walked out the door.

So much for miracles.

* * * * *

One Year, One Month and 6 days later

“Can you girls hear me?” I heard a soft, deep voice calling from the edge of my dreams.

I sat up in my bed with a jolt and leaned my head toward the window.

“Girls, are you up there?” it called again.

It sounded oddly familiar, but I couldn’t place the voice.

I heard the person mutter to someone else. “I’ll try one more time.” It sounded too normal to belong to someone menacing.

“Miriam! Abigail!”

My curiosity got the best of me. I ran to the window and stuck my head out. My hair cascaded down to my waist. I looked down, thankful that it was a full moon, so I could see.

Two figures stood below me. My eyes narrowed, trying to focus.

“Nephi? Is that you?’ I whispered.

He nodded, craning his neck to look at me. He was grinning wide. My eyes darted to his left.

“Sam?” I cried too loud. They chuckled.

“Hello,” he said. He was staring at me with this odd look on his face, like I was someone he’d never met.

“Are you back for good?” I asked them.

Nephi shook his head. “No, we came to obtain the plates of brass from Laban. Father wants to have those records before we go any further in our journey. Sam and I only have a few moments before we have to go.” He smiled.

“Let me wake, Miriam. She will be so happy to see you."

A few moments later, I returned with a groggy Miri.

“Nephi?” she laughed softly.

“Hello.” His voice floated up.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” she laughed again.

“They’re not staying,” I whispered.

“Oh.” Her voice was disappointed and I knew that for one second, she had hoped.

“I brought you something, from the sea,” Nephi said. He reached out, showing us an object in his hand. He lobbed it toward us. Miri missed it, but I caught it.

I held out my hand and gave it to Miri. It was a starfish.

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” she said.

“You’re by the ocean?” I asked, looking at Sam. I figured I might as well take this opportunity lest I never get the chance again.

He nodded, still staring at me with that strange look on his face.

“Do you see many people there?” I asked, wondering if he was betrothed. 

“Sometimes, but usually it’s just us."

“You look different,” Miri said to Nephi. “Hairier.” She laughed. They both needed a haircut.

“So do you. You look…really good,” Nephi said, and even in the muted light I could see Miri’s cheeks flush.

“We better go,” Nephi said.

“Will you be back again?” Miri asked.

Nephi shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. Don’t forget me.”

“I could never forget you, Nephi,” Miri’s voice shook.

I glanced at Sam once more. “Go with God.”

“We will. Shalom, Abigail.”

Then they darted into the night. I could feel Miri sobbing silently next to me. I guided her back to her bed.

“He must think of you, often,” I tried to comfort her. “He brought you a starfish.”

“It was for both of us.” She sniffled.

“No, it was for you."

“Did you see the way Sam was looking at you? I think he fell in love on the spot.” She laughed through her tears.

But I didn’t laugh. “He’s delirious from the journey.”

She reached for me. I gripped her hand as she cried herself back to sleep.

Miri had only hoped for a short moment, but it took her months to shake the despair she felt from losing Nephi after she thought he might have returned. As for me, I was more confused than ever.

The next year was full of the same old things; baking, cleaning, prayers. Nothing was happening, and I was beginning to believe it had all been in my mind. I prayed everyday to understand God’s will, wishing to feel that same peace I’d felt so long ago. Then, when I’d almost given up hope, I came home from the market one day to find Sam standing in my house, along with Nephi, Laman, Lemuel and Zoram.

“What can I say to convince you?” Lemuel pled with my father, eyeing Leah.

“Nothing! We are not coming!” my father bellowed.

“We must have wives.” Laman's voice was earnest. “And your family is full of daughters.”

“Then you will have to find some where you are going,” Father said.

“There are no women where we are going,” Zoram said.

“Why would God tell you to go somewhere where there are no people?” Father asked.

Lemuel’s face turned rigid, angry. Nephi held up a hand to stop him.

He spoke calmly, looking my father in the eye. “This is what God wants you to do, Ishmael. Can’t you feel that? He wants your family to come with us. To be a part of this new, promised land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, saved for this purpose and you are supposed to be a part of it. Will you deny that peace that you are feeling right now?”

Father opened his mouth to respond but Mother cut him off. “I feel it, Ishmael. Nephi is right. We are supposed to do this,” she said.

“But you love Jerusalem!”

“And what good will that do me when it is destroyed? My family and my God are the most important things to me. Listen to your heart.”

Father stared at her for a moment before he stormed out of the room, muttering the whole way about how we had all lost our minds.

Miri looked exuberant, her eyes sparkling like all her dreams had come true. Nephi grabbed her by the hands, pulling her to the corner so they could talk.

Lemuel too began talking to Leah. They began breaking off in pairs, couples. The men had already worked this out in their minds—who they would end up with. Sam glanced at me nervously and took one step toward me, but I turned away. I ran to my room and shut the door. I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling.

I didn’t like this. Not one bit! Was this the only way God could assure me as Sam’s wife? It was like I was Sam’s…Leah. I wasn’t what he wanted, I was just what he was going to get because he had no other choice. Well, I wouldn’t do it! I would rather never marry at all.

A few minutes later Miri came and told me that Father had ‘come to his senses’ and we were leaving as soon as we gathered provisions. Zoram and the sons of Lehi stayed with us all day, helping us prepare. Every time Sam approached me, I turned away from him. That night we stood in the courtyard securing our pack animals.

“What will we do with Sarah?” Mother asked Father. Sarah was still too little to walk very fast, and Mother was again with child. Father was getting old, and I worried for his health.

“I will carry her,” I said.

“Are you sure? I can do it,” Sam said, watching me carefully.

“No, she’s my sister. I’ll do it."

Father hefted Sarah on my back. I turned to look at my home for the last time. I wiped my tears quickly and fell in step behind Miri.

Sam stayed by my side, glancing at me every few moments. A few times, he tried to talk to me, but I was short with him. I did not want his hand because he lacked someone better to marry.

“Why don’t you let me take Sarah for a while?” he asked at least four times the first night.

“No, I’m fine.” I said even though I was exhausted. By mid-day most of the other couples were holding hands. I’d even seen Nephi give Miri a kiss on the cheek. Of course she was beaming. I felt the jealousy rise up.

Each day it went this way; everyone getting closer as Sam and I stayed an arms length apart. Everyday Sarah rode on my back while I refused any help. And then there was the matter of an uprising against Nephi, where certain people who will remain nameless, decided to bind him only to be humbled when he broke the bands. But that’s a story some man will include in the record.

After weeks of walking, we reached their camp.

* * * * *

“I won’t do it and you can’t make me!” I said to my Father.

Sam looked like I’d slapped him.

“Why not?” my father said.

“Think of what this means for you, Abby,” Mother tried. “You will remain single your whole life. You will never have children. You don’t want that.”

“I have thought of that. I will be a wonderful Aunt.”

“What is wrong that you will not take Sam as your husband?” Lehi said, looking frustrated and confused. “He is the logical choice for you. He is a good man! Everyone else has already chosen. You are the only two left. He’s two years older than you. It’s perfect.” That was exactly my problem. None of those reasons were good enough.

“He can wait for Isabel to grow up,” I said. Sam’s faced turned white at this.

“I have made my choice, and I know the consequences.” Then I turned on my heel and walked out of the tent.

I dashed past Miriam and Nephi who had been standing outside, listening to the conversation.

“Abby! What is going on? I don’t understand!” Miri called after me. But I did not stop. I ran down to the shore and took a long walk, talking to God the whole way. I don’t want Sam unless he loves me, I told Him.

I knew my parents were embarrassed by my behavior. They found me foolish; wanting love when I’d been born into a society of arranged marriages. But I couldn’t bear the thought of a lifetime with Sam if he didn’t love me. To love him so dearly while he felt nothing in return…it was too much.

When the sun started to set, I turned back for camp.

I came up over a hill to see Sam standing there skipping stones into the water. I spun around to leave.

“Abigail, I’ve been looking for you. I want to talk to you.” He grabbed me by the hand. I yanked it away and glared at him. “Please? We’re old enough to talk this out. We don’t need our parents to figure it out for us.” His eyes were soft.

I walked to a rock only big enough for myself and sat.

He knelt down next to me, his eyes tortured and confused. “Am I so awful that you can not marry me?”

I looked away. “Sam, it’s not like that.”

He grabbed my chin and pulled it back so I had to look him in the eye. “Then tell me what it’s like, because I don’t want to marry Isabel. She’s cute, but she’s nine.” It softened my heart and I laughed. His eyes lit up and he smiled.

But it didn’t change things.

“I just…I don’t….I don’t want to be Leah,” I stuttered.

His forehead furrowed. “What’s wrong with your sister?”

I shook my head. “No, Leah from the Bible.”

He stared at me for a moment. His face lit up with understanding. “Ah, you want to be Rachel.”

My face flushed, and I nodded. I jerked my chin away and laid my forehead into the palm of my hand.

“You want a love story,” he whispered. I nodded again.

“You’re expecting a lot from a wilderness expedition where you’ve only got one man to choose from.” He chuckled.

I shot my eyes back to him. “I don’t care if I’m expecting a lot. That’s what I want and if I don’t get that, then I don’t want anything.”

I looked away again, my arms folded across my chest as I stared into the distance.

“What if I told you that I’ve thought about you every day since Nephi and I came to see you last year?”


My heart thudded crazily. I looked back at him. “It’s probably just because you haven’t been around a girl in so long."

He laughed for a second before he exhaled. “That might be true, I don’t know. But I don’t think so.” He reached out and ran his thumb across my cheek. “I think it’s because you’re so beautiful, in every way. I just never noticed it before that night.”

Now I could feel my blood pounding in the back of my neck. I looked into his eyes as he continued.

“And when we found out that we were coming back for your family, I chose you first before any of my brothers had a chance to. Laman was talking about you, and I put a stop to that,” he said, gazing into my eyes.

“You did?” He nodded.

I stared at him for a long moment.

He cleared his throat. “Aren’t you going to say something back? Like how you’re madly in love with me?” His eyes were hopeful.

“I’m madly in love with you,” I whispered staring right into his eyes.

“I know, Miriam already told me." I smacked him in the arm, and he laughed, his eyes twinkling.

Then his face turned serious. “I’ve been watching you these weeks, and I’m certain of one thing. I like you more than I’ve ever liked any other girl. A lot more. I don’t know exactly how Jacob felt about Rachel, but I’m sure it must have started something like this.”

I nodded. It was good enough for me.

He stood and offered me his hand. “Should we find out together?”

I took his hand in mine. And squeezed.

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Wet Cement

I blipped right off your radar, didn't I? Sorry about that, but there's been a lot going on. Between moving, starting Husband's business and simply settling in, I've hardly had time to think about blogging.

But then this cool thing happened.

Remember how I grew up on this farm, and then when I got married, I convinced Husband that we should move back here—and we stayed for seven and a half years? Well, in all that time, I didn't spend as much time actually out on the farm as I wanted too. I was too busy changing diapers back then. So when I found out we were moving back again, I made a resolution to take a walk around the farm in the mornings. I mean, I live on this awesome piece of land, I may as well get out and use/enjoy it, right?

And that's what I've been doing. Most weekday mornings, I've been taking a walk around the farm. Partly for exercise and partly just to relax and have a few minutes to myself. But I've also been doing something else. I've been praying. And I've found out that my prayers are so much more heartfelt when my legs are moving and my eyes are open.

The thing I've noticed since moving back to the farm are that tender mercies are everywhere around us. And rather than look at all that's going wrong (fighting VDOT to okay the sight distance on the business driveway, broken tractors and four-wheelers, humidity, mosquito bites...) I'm choosing to look at the tender mercies Heavenly Father leaves lying everywhere.


Hay bales perfect for jumping, hiding, and pretending you're a medieval knight defending the castle.





















A dog that will sit for an hour letting Big Girl cover him in sand, join me on my morning walk, and share his food with the cat.






A mouser whose legs are so powerful she jumps up and hangs on the doorknob, trying to get into the house. Not kidding. (So I may struggle a bit with this one. She's been exiled to the outdoors for missing the litter box one too many times!)





Fields of yellow flowers, that will in a few weeks be so saturated with buds that we won't be able to see any of the green.


A plantation home that makes the perfect backdrop for any Halloween party we might want to throw and is so rich with history that I feel honored to share the same piece of land.
The view from the top of the old house hill. 

Evening dirt bike dates with this cutie. 

Cows. Mooooooooo





Boys who are acting more like best friends than I've ever seen before.

And wet cement.

Let me explain this one. My dad's headstone came in a few weeks ago. My brother and I happened to show up soon after, when the cement was still wet. What are the chances? We don't stop there every day. Usually just Sundays. But that day we pulled in to show our cousin and his fiance who were visitingand the headstone had just been placed. It turned out beautiful but as I stood there looking at my mom's name next to my dad's, the words in the middle, Families Are Forever, seemed to call for something more. So we called Mom on the phone and got her permission first. And then Tres, his daughter (seen right) and I proceeded to carve the name of all the Carl Henshaw family members—sons, daughter, in-laws and grandchildren, into the cement.

We haven't gone anywhere this summer. Not a single trip. But it's been one of the best summer's I've ever had. And when someone asks us what our calendar looks like, I tell them it's wide open. We've had plenty of time to work, play and enjoy each other. And that is a tender mercy in and of itself.

What tender mercies have you enjoyed this summer?

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FAQ

1. Can I buy Becoming Bayley as a print book?

Not yet. But if there's enough interest and my e-book sells well, Deseret Book will consider doing a print run. If you'd like to hold an actual paper copy in your hot little hands I would ask you to send a kind letter to Heidi Taylor, DB Product Director at htaylor@deseretbook.com, expressing your interest.

2. Where can I buy Becoming Bayley for my Apple or Android device?

You can get it Amazon on your kindle app, or you if you have the Deseret Bookshelf App downloaded, you can buy it here.

2. Can I download Becoming Bayley off the Deseret Book website for my kindle or nook?

No.

The Deseret Bookshelf only words on Apple and Android devices.

3. Where can I get Becoming Bayley for my kindle?

     —Get Becoming Bayley for your kindle at Amazon.

4. Where can I get Becoming Bayley for my Nook?

     —Get Becoming Bayley for your nook at Barnesandnoble.com
5. Where can I post a review of Becoming Bayley?

Amazon, B and N, Goodreads, Deseret Book all have a place for you to review. I would so appreciate anyone who would like to review the book to do so.

6. Since Becoming Bayley is e-book only, what can I do help promote?

Word of mouth will—via your actual mouth, Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or any other tool will be the best way to get the word out about the book.

7. Where can I contact you?

susanlauten@gmail.com

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An author for an author

My e-friend Jolene Perry read my book (of her own free will. Not because I asked her to.) And today she has blogged about it, here. I kinda love her review because it's very short, but then she lists some of her favorite quotes from my book. It's always fun to see the lines other people love, but it's doubly fun when they are my lines.

Also, you need to know, Jolene is a published author herself. And a dang good one at that. Contemporary, YA, Romances. Right up my alley. Because of the nature of who I write for, I have to give you this disclaimer though—some of her works are clean and some are—for lack of a better word—steamy. Either way, they're very engaging. Very. As in I read her books in one day (and I don't do that very often anymore.) Seriously good stories.

If you're interested in reading her stuff—

Clean (your teenage daughter could read):

The Next Door Boys

Left to Love

For a more mature audience (swear words (including the F bomb), scenes that might make you squirm, and boys so hot I wouldn't want my teenage daughter reading this (because I'm a prude)):

Knee Deep

Night Sky (haven't read but has gotten great reviews)

and My Heart for Yours (haven't read but has gotten great reviews)

If you're looking for a new author, Jolene might just be your girl.

Thanks, Jolene!

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Confessions of a Middle-Aged Teen at Heart

I know, I know. One day I'm blogging about my book, the next about daily struggles and today it's helpful beauty/household tips. Don't try to understand me, just roll with me.

All right *rubs hands together*, here we go.

I'm starting off with a confession. I dye my hair. Because I'm at least forty percent gray. Pick your jaw up off the floor! Henshaw's go white early. But I'm not growing old gracefully at the age of 37, so I dye. 

Here's the problem I've had with that though—my hair looks fabulous when I step out of the salon, or step away from the box, but within a couple of weeks, it goes reddish. Which makes my already reddish skin, look even more reddish. Not pretty. I especially hate my overall appearance in pictures. I've tried every shade of brown in every brand it seems like (salon or store bought) and still I get comments on how pretty my red hair is. It's not supposed to be red, people!

And then my friend E moved into our ward.

She just happens to be a hair stylist. She told me the secret. Permanent hair dye has peroxide in it. (Shoot! Is that right, E?) So it will always pull the red out of your hair. From Clairol, to Feria, to Aveda to Goldwell. It is a truth, not universally acknowledged. But it is a truth nonetheless.

The solution: Dye your roots with the permanent stuff and immediately cover all your hair with semi-permanent in the same color. That way you're covering your bases—hiding the gray for time and eternity, and staying a solid brunette. It works, guys. My sis-in-law, who was disenchanted with her dye job, asked what my secret was. I shared and the next time I saw her, she was a gorgeous chesnut brown.

Next confession...My name is Susan and I am addicted to Stridex. I would cower in shame, but I can't do that to my newfound love. It took me 37 years to humble myself enough to try them but I finally did it. So I now throw my shoulders back and say it with pride. I. Love. Stridex!

I told you guys that I went to the doc and got a prescription for Retin-A. It worked pretty well. I had a terrible, terrible love affair with acne going on and nothing was touching it. The Retin-A calmed things down but it didn't completely wipe out the problem. So I picked up a container of Stridex and now I swipe my face, neck and upper back once in the morning and once at night, along with a light caking of Retin-A right before bed, and guys? I finally have the skin I've wanted all these years. My complexion is a lot less oily now too. Who knew? 

Next up...whoopie pies. I have these neighbors. They're members of my ward, and over the years we  occassionally have a Sunday evening get-together where we play board games and moan over the desserts everybody made. The husband is the dessert maker. I have always liked whatever he brought, but the past few times he's been bringing homemade whoopie pies. Guys, I don't even like whoopie pies. Not Oreo Cakesters, or the ones you can make from the kits. But when he walks in the door with these bad boys, I'm defenseless. Of all the food I've eaten while I've been here (and this probably tells you a lot about me) the one recipe I knew I could not leave without, was the whoopie pies. And they gave it to me. My life is now complete. And it's so easy. You know you want to try it.


HOMEMADE OREOS
                                                                                                               Frosting:
1 Devils Food cake mix (We like Pillsbury the best)                    3 oz cream cheese
2 eggs                                                                                                   2 cups powdered sugar
3/4c margarine, softened                                                                  1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                milk
Mix cake mix, eggs and margarine.  Roll into marble sized balls (or use small cookie scoop).  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Mix frosting ingredients with enough milk to make spreadable.  Spread between two cookies.

I'm making them today for the YW at girls camp. I'm sure I'll snitch a few for myself.

Last confession: I've always wanted to be one of those women/girls who can pull off eye-shadow. Whether it be dramatic or natural-looking, some people can just rock it. All these years I thought I didn't have the right shaped lids or something because I never liked the way it looked on me. But now I know I just hadn't found the right shade yet. 

Enter Clinique Colour Surge Eye Duo. Shade: Beach plum. 




I know, right. Purple eye shadow? Chill. When it goes on, it's subtle, yet elegant.  I sound like a commercial but I don't care! I'm in love. Everyday. Try it if you're looking for a new something to spice things up. 

Okay. I'm done. Stepping down off the soapbox.

Do you guys have any tips for me? If I get some good ones, I'd love to share them in another blog post. And let me know if you try any of these and they work for you. I love it when someone shares something with me that displaces some myth up in my head.








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Six Years

Six years ago, we closed the door of our U-haul truck and turned to take one last look at our little house. My dad was in tears, barely able to speak, but happy that we were going to pursue a new dream. Husband hopped in the moving truck, his firefighter buddies were waiting in a truck behind us, I was in our green jalopy of a van with our three kids eating the ham sandwiches on homemade bread that my mom had packed for us. And we were off. We knew exactly where life was going and how we were going to get there.

Bahahahaha.

Little did we know that life never, ever goes how you plan. But one thing you can be certain of? Wherever you end up, you'll learn some things in the process of getting there.

If you don't mind, I thought I'd share some of what I, Susan Auten, have learned along the way.

1. Heavenly Father knows what your talents are and the best way to use them, even if you have no idea  you posess such talents.

2. Priesthood power is real, not just something we hear about in church, or read about in the Ensign. Real. As in a force that you can feel. A force that can save your life, or protect you from imminent danger. And I believe Heavenly Father and Jesus use it on a daily basis to keep us safe, physically and spiritually. Without it, I think we'd each be dead a hundred times over. I can't comprehend how many times we are protected that we don't know about.

3. The Holy Ghost exists. I'm not talking about His influence (yes, that exists too), I'm talking about Him. I knew it in theory. But now I know for real.

4. Heavenly Father and Jesus's powers are limitless.

5. Miracles still happen. Everyday. Full blown, God-Can-Make-Anything-Happen miracles. I will never doubt again. He is in complete control and we are fools to think otherwise.

6. A gift of homemade bread doesn't just fill your stomach, it fills your soul. The same with lasagna.

7. God always keeps his promises. It may take longer than you'd like. But if you stay worthy, He always delivers.

8. When He tells you you can have something, he expects you to work to for it. He won't hand it to you. You have to get in there and toil, sweat, push through when you think you have nothing left, never lose faith, fall down, get back up and try harder. But if you will do that, He will give you that thing He told you you could have.

9. If you are willing, He will mold and shape you in ways you never imagined. It's a painful process. Hurts worse than anything physical you could possibly experience (except maybe 11 hours of epidural-free labor), but you will be something new and wonderful when He's done.

10. Life isn't about me. It's about everybody else.

11. Prayer calls down the powers of Heaven and changes everything. He's listening to every single word. He wants to hear what you need, what you're thankful for and what you've learned. Prayer will change you.

12. There are certain people He puts into our lives to teach us something specific. We need to pay attention so we don't overlook the thing we're supposed to learn.

I learned a bunch of other stuff too, but these are the important ones.

We're headed back to the place we began— the same house (but not for long), the same farm, the same school system, the same branch. But none of it looks the same to me. This time my dad won't be there, my mom will be a widow, we'll build a new house and start a new business. My kids aren't little anymore. In two years I'll have a seminary-attending high schooler. Mind-blowing.

I had to move away to learn what I learned. I had to watch my kids struggle, play single mom, lose my dad, stand on death's door and have my heart smashed to the point that I didn't know how I'd ever feel whole again.

But now I stand strong, ready for the next Six Years. Ready for whatever He sends me.

And all I can say is...bring it.




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Mullets Are Never Cool

You've heard me say that Becoming Bayley was inspired by my youngest daughter's brush with hair loss. It was a scary time—thinking about whether this could be permanent and what her life would be like. I was afraid for her. For the way people would look at her. The way her peers would treat her. I told Husband she was going to have a wig, even if I had to get a job to support her 'habit.' No way was I going to let her be the laughing stock of the town. No way was I going to let her be teased and ridiculed because she was different.

A lot of our friends said they couldn't tell that she'd lost any hair. I think it was because it happened gradually, and because she had very light blonde hair. But I could tell. When I would take her to the pool and her head got wet, I could really tell. You could see straight to her scalp.

And friends, when it grew back in, she had a mullet.

(One year post hair loss)


I didn't realize it at the time. I don't know how that reality didn't hit me square between the eyes. I let it go on way too long. Until one day when my friend, who happens to be a hairdresser, mentioned that she thought Big Girl's hair would blossom if we cut off all the old stringy stuff. So I let her, and she was right. It had life again.

Anyway. This tiny month long bout with traction alopecia (the insurance company didn't like that word by the way. They said alopecia wasn't a disease and refused to cover the doctor's visit) was what I had to go on when I wrote the book. Of course I researched and asked a friend who I watched go through the process, but still I wondered, "Have I really captured the experience?"

The other night I got an email from someone who has alopecia and here is what she said:

"I was diagnosed with it about 7 years ago. I was lucky...I only had a couple quarter sized spots. I also found out around the same time that I was highly intolerant to Gluten.  The stress on my body from eating gluten was causing all sorts of auto immune problems.  I went on a gluten free diet and all my hair grew back.  One other time another quarter size spot went bald.  I tightened up my diet and it grew back so I am very thankful for my hair now. (Interesting side note...when my hair grew back, it grew in darker and super curly...just in those spots.  The rest of my hair is lighter and straight.  Crazy!  I have to flat iron the heck out of it to make it match now! )  I was married at the time, and was afraid to tell my husband.  I was so scared and devastated.  I was shocked at how much it affected me and I felt so vain.  I identify with Bayley feelings completely.  Just wanted to let you know how much I love it."


One word describes my feelings. "Waaaahhhhhhooooooo!"


I have a close friend who read the book and this is what she said:


"When I first read the premise of the book, I kind of thought, big deal, there are teens out there dealing with death and rape and incest and all sorts of horrible things, how much drama can you really drum up about a vain little girl who's sad because she doesn't have hair anymore. But as I read it, I thought about it and realized how hard it would be for me, as much as I like to think I don't care much about appearance, my blonde hair is about the only thing that makes me feel beautiful. I can't imagine losing it. Even people who have cancer and lose it to chemotherapy know it will grow back (if they live) when it's all over, but this girl has to face it being gone for probably the 
rest of her life. That would be hard, for anyone I think."




You know how guy's can get sympathy pregnancy symptoms? Well, when I was writing BB, I think I got sympathy hair loss anxiety. I'd look at the strings of hair that came off my head when I washed it. I'd freak out if I thought I was losing too much. Because I had really understood what it would be like to lose my hair.


Which brings me to my point. 


I know you guys are sick, sick, sick, of BB reviews. BUT. My the wonderful Becca Wilhite, (author of two delightful books—Bright Blue Miracle and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions) reviewed BB on her blog. And it's hilarious just like Becca. But my favorite part of her review is this:

Please, Lord, if you are listening right now, I’m going to repeat my oft-repeated prayer: Even though it’s not great, this is the best hair I’ve got. Please don’t take it away from me. Amen.
Those three lines, say it all. Becca got the point.
So, if you have a minute, head over to her blog and read her awesome review. www.beccawilhite.com
And just so you don't worry, this is what B.G. looks like this now.


Lots of crazy, curly wondrous hair!
  

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The Author of Invaluable Reviews Becoming Bayley

One of the coolest parts of being published is the opportunity to rub shoulders with other authors. Especially those who write what you write. Enter Holly J. Wood, the author of this book.


I approached her about reviewing my book because we have the same target audience. I've never met her but after reading her book and corresponding via email, I imagine Holly to be the kind of person who always has a smile on her face. She's super cheerful and immediately said yes. And boy am I glad.

To see her review head on over to www.hollyjwood.blogspot.com.


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Fire and Ice Review of Becoming Bayley

I've gotten so many emails from family and friends, or friends of friends telling me that they LOVED Becoming Bayley. It always makes me smile and do a big fist pump. But I've been waiting to see how the rest of the world felt.

This morning I woke up to my first review from a book blogger that I don't know and doesn't have some kind of attachment to me. They wouldn't lose one minute of sleep if they slammed me into the ground. It feels a little bit like sitting on the top of the hill on your favorite roller coaster, waiting to drop. Will you shoot back up the other side and feel the thrill of the swoop, or will this be the time the roller coaster breaks and you go shooting off the track into oblivion.

Either way you gotta throw your hands up in the air and go out screaming.

If you want to find out how I fared, head on over and read for yourselves.

www.fireandicephoto.blogspot.com


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Slice of life

I'm supposed to be packing/cleaning/painting so of course I got the urge to blog.

Take a look around. Don't you love the new look? Cristina finally finished everything and I love it. Very fun and hip. And once her kids grow up a bit and she's ready for more business I'll shamelessly plug her on this website.

In other news, I took a small drive around part of the farm yesterday with this handsome devil angel.


I guess I've taught him to dream big because he wanted to drive up to where we're going to build our house and map out his future paintball field. I took some pictures along the way and thought you all might like to see where we've moving and just how lucky we are. 


The driveway to grandma's house. I have a feeling this will be walked often. My kids know where the ice cream's at.


Our house will be in those woods you see on the left side of this field. Can I just say there is nothing prettier than a field with freshly bailed hay?

Dos and his wife were at the farm for Memorial Day. Sis-in-law and I took the kiddos for a ride on the Polaris. We drove down to the river bottom, where the Indian Mound is, and the coolest mist was resting on the ground. (Sis-in-law—why didn't we take a picture?) It happens a lot, but it never stops amazing me with it's coolness. My dad always used to say Utah might be Zion, but Virginia is God's country. True dat, Dad. Sis-in-law told me the first time she met Uncle Alvin he told her God made the earth for us, but he made this place for Himself. 

Again, true. 

Anyway, I better get back to work so all this cool future stuff can happen. 

What's going on with you guys this summer?




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Tribute to our Little School

Six years ago when I was looking for a house to buy here, I was a bit shell-shocked. Not that this is a big city or anything, but compared to where I was coming from, it felt quite overwhelming. The traffic, the cost of housing...it was freaking me out. But not as much as the fact that someone made the mistake of telling me that at Christiansburg Primary there were eight kindergarten classes. Eight. In the school we were coming from, there were two. I may have pulled a paper bag to my face and started breathing in and out. In and out. IN and OUT!

I remember the first time I saw Belview Elementary. I was with my realtor, driving away from a possibility. We passed the little brick school and I pointed, "Could my kids go there?" It reminded me of the school we were leaving--little, intimate, underwhelming. Nope, the realtor told me. The house I'd just looked at was in the 8 Kindgarten School's district.

Cutting to the chase. We ended up in Belviews boundaries wtihout even knowing it. I could call it a happy coincidence, but I've seen too many miracles to believe in those. When I found out, I was thrilled. Until someone told me they were having accredidation problems. The school we'd left had just jumped that hurdle and it felt burdensome to be back in that situation. But I prayed. A lot. And God whispered to stay and give them a chance. To see if we couldn't help turn things around. Man, am I ever glad I listened.

From go, when I walked in Mrs. Baker's office to hash over some issues I had with the school, I knew this was a principal I could work with. Within two hours, she'd implemented my first suggestion: having the kids in the car rider line wait inside the cafeteria and be called out via walkie talkie, rather than all of them sitting out in the cold. And I never stopped seeing improvements the entire time I was there. From turning the old basketball court into a new parking lot to accomodate the overcrowded parking situation at school functions, to smartboards in every class room, to updated playground equipment, all the way to full accredidation (which actually came by the end of that very first year) to winning the Panasonic National School Change Award. It was like The Little Engine that Could, climbing up, Up, UP.

But none of that compared to the people inside the school.

Mrs. Wasky and her deep love for all three of my kids. And her love for dogs. Mrs. Gilliams video playing skills. Mrs. Stafford's patience with a child who works at her own pace. Mrs. Rettig's amazing ability to lasso in twenty kindergartners without ever losing her cool, Mrs. Kathy's nuturing skills. Mrs. Jenny's light-the-room-up smile. Mrs. Bibb? You must be doing something right. To this day Will still says you were his favorite in fourth grade. Mrs. Furrow's amazing green car and genuine kindness. Mrs. Buck? Hats off to you after going to Jamestown. I have no idea how you didn't lose it half a dozen times. I am in awe. Nurse Robin, with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I will always love you for not calling CPS on me and hate you a little for turning my knees to jello for a good two minutes. Mrs. Newcomb for never letting my kids fall behind in reading, for cheering on their successes and for telling me over and over, 'your kid is doing so fine.' Mrs. Phillips for her fashion sense and general coolness. Mrs Novy and Mrs. Amy's ability to put up with more drama than any daytime t.v. can dish out. I do not envy you. Mrs. McNeill's friendliness and constant interest in our lives. Mrs. Taylor who has now moved on. There are not words. Your never-ending enthusiasm for teaching blows my mind. Mr. Cook for thanking me for bowling every year. My pleasure. The ladies in the office who are so welcoming and the cafeteria chicks who never tell me I should've ordered ahead. Each student teacher from Radford. Emma cried at the end of every semester when you left. And all the other people not on this list.

And finally Mrs. Baker who always made me feel like my opinion was important and valued. Belview rocks because you are amazing.

My cup runneth over. We will miss you. Every single one. And we will never forget the way you nutured, loved and changed our family. If only every kid was blessed enough to have a school like yours.

You really are the B.E.S.T.


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