Saturday, November 15, 2014

Continuing in Christ


You’ve been baptized. You made a commitment to die to yourself and live for Christ. It is an exciting time. Recent conversations with inactive members have convinced me of one thing. A commitment to Christ will not survive if it is only made at baptism. It is easy to be strong in the newness of the gospel. You’re excited. You see all the possibilities of a new life before you. But that light will fade if you don’t cling to it.

Your life in Christ will last only if you make a commitment to die to yourself a thousand times every day. You must continually make that commitment to Christ over and over.

Sometimes it is with big decisions. You must give up an addictive habit or learn to live within the bounds of moral purity. Those are important. But, to be frank, most of the decisions we make that lead to a righteous life are in the little decisions. Being diligent with our time. Spending time in prayer and scripture. Putting others before ourselves, without acting like a martyr for doing so.  These myriad of mini commitments we make are what keep us in the atonement of Christ.

Sometimes it is in making a commitment to just hang on in suffering. When your pain is beyond the aid of words or music, to cling to Christ. To say “I believe You. I will not forsake you, though I feel forsaken.”

Those decisions will change your life. Those will help you to grow to be more like the Savior. These will keep you on the path to salvation.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Church Cannot Raise Your Children


It doesn’t matter whether you’re protestant, catholic, or LDS. It is up to you to raise and instruct your children. Yes, the church is fantastic and has lots of opportunities for learning the gospel.  In the LDS church we have primary, Sunday School, the Young Men and Young Women programs, and high school seminary. They are all good things. It’s important your child goes, but at best they are basic. Even the seminary program, which I highly recommend, is just four years of survey courses. Our children need more.

The general authorities (leadership in the LDS church) know this too. They’ve counseled parents on multiple occasions to have daily scripture study, prayer, and fun time together as important aspects of child rearing.

If you’ve ever taught primary you know the lessons can be….um…repetitive. I believe I taught a lesson on “Choose the Right” more times than I can count. That repetition is good and there probably isn’t an LDS child around that couldn’t tell you how important it is to make right choices. However, our children need doctrine too. They need to go through the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price (Whew! We have a lot of Scriptures) thoroughly before they leave your home.


I think the answer to that is twofold. 

1. That our children may know who god is and what he expects of them

The Book of Mormon puts it this way: 

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” 2 Nephi 25:26

2. that they may grow in godliness

I love this passage in the New Testament:

“And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

So where do you start?

First, in your everyday life.

You must live the gospel yourself. You must also talk about it.  Listen to what Moses taught the Israelites as they were about to enter the promised land.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Duet. 6: 6.

It should just be a natural part of living- a regular and comfortable part of your daily conversations. Our children need us to engage with them about real life and how it fits in with the gospel.  Discuss current events with your children. Discuss politics. Help them learn to think for themselves and not just accept what the talking heads on television are telling them. Challenge them to look at the world in light of what we know about God’s instructions to us.

Make sure they understand that everyone is biased—yes even your favorite news anchor.  I’ve got news for you, you’re biased as well. When you can face that, it will help you be more honest with your children about exploring world views. Help them to take what they’re hearing and compare it with the word of God. Teach them to pray and ask the Spirit what is true and what they should do about it.

Second, in formal instruction.

This is where daily scripture study comes in.

For young children, teach them the stories of the Scriptures. They should know about Abraham, Moses, Christ, Paul’s life and Martyrdom, Nephi, King Benjamin, etc…

LDS parents need to be careful not to just focus on the Book of Mormon. Your future missionary is a lot less effective in ministering to protestants when they have a remedial understanding of the Old and New Testament. Believe me, as a former protestant who was an investigator for three years, I was often appalled at the lack of knowledge some missionaries had. It made me less likely to take them seriously.  Plus, they are missing out on a large portion of God’s instruction to us.

For older children, take the time to do an additional more in depth study. Our classes at church do not (to my complete exasperation at times). Do a weekly study with them on a book of scripture. Give them assignments that teach them how to study the words of God for themselves.

I know you’re probably thinking when you’re going to find the time to fit all this in. Believe me, if I can do it ANYONE can.

Most parents love their children. Most want to do what is the best for their children. Just don’t be tempted to think just sending them to church is enough. It’s good, but it’s not enough.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

For Those That Are Discouraged

storm wheel

Sometimes you can do everything right and things can still go wrong.  When that happens, it is easy to get discouraged. I was feeling that way last week. I was undergoing difficult medical treatments.  Then, what was supposed to be three days of isolation (because of some radioactive treatments), turned into a week. Then they added painful injections. Then, in the midst of my isolation I received a letter from someone that brought up horrible memories. Then, I got super sick. Then a tree fell on my house. Seriously—a tree. My landlord has pictures. Can you believe that week?

You can see where I might get discouraged. That is until I came across a passage in the book of Ether.

The Jaredites were about to go on a trip—a long trip.  They had made all the preparations. (see Ether 6:4) They did everything right. They even “commended themselves unto the Lord.” Then the storm came.

“And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.” Ether 6:6

They knew the Lord brought the storm, but it doesn’t make weathering it any easier.  Storms are frightening. Storms can be painful. But, here is the helpful part. Storms have purpose.

“And it came to pass that the  wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.” Ether 6:8

When I read those words, the Spirit brought me instantaneous comfort. I was reminded that the Lord has purpose and direction for the things He’s bringing into my path.  Each storm He brings my way is designed to bring me closer to the goal.

You may be wondering what’s the goal? For me, it is conformity to Christ. I want to be like my Savior.

“And we know that all thing work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIs purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son…” Romans 8:28-29

That is the beauty of commending yourself into the hand of the Lord. Peace. At that moment, in the midst of the turmoil swirling around me, the Lord reminded me I was not forgotten. He had my back. I felt like I could do anything.

I’m grateful for a Savior who is patient with me when I grow frightened and weary. But, more than that, I’m grateful for a God who is bigger than storms.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Why I’m Not “Repentant”

There is a large group of people waiting for me to renounce Mormonism.  They pray for my repentance. They occasionally mention my need for it.  I’m sure they wonder what is taking me so long.  They think of me and shake their heads. Today I’d like to explain why I’ve not “repented”.

I have found Christ.  While I did love and worship Him before, it’s deeper now because I understand Him more.  It’s like when you first meet someone and have an instant bond with. You like them. After a time, however, as you really get to know them, it’s different. You know THEM and it makes you love them even more. 

That is how I feel about my faith. I know Christ and my Heavenly Father more than I ever have. When I was a reformed protestant, I loved my Savior. I truly did. Yet, if I’m being honest, I felt something was missing. I’d read my scriptures, which I loved and felt somehow I was missing something. The only thing I can liken it to is reading a literary passage where I know there is a deeper meaning I should be grasping. I can kind of see it, but it’s blurry and just out of reach. 

Other times, the problem was more obvious. I had the distinct feeling that we, like the Pharisees during the life of the Savior, were missing the point. There were also aspects of Scripture we seemed to be ignoring.

In all my life, I’ve never felt closer to my God. I finally know what that passage means when it says “My sheep hear my voice.” I know what it means to be led by the Spirit of God. I know my God and He knows me. I know what it means to have the Savior call you friend. I know what it means to have Him beside me. Really beside me.

Here are the things Mormonism has added to my life:

  • A much deeper knowledge of the Godhead and communion with them.
  • Real peace that comes from knowing I am in His will.
  • The constant companionship of the Holy Spirit, including His whispered guidance.
  • Priesthood ordinances that do things I couldn’t even begin to delineate here.
  • The FULLNESS of the gospel.  I no longer have to read my scriptures and wonder why something is not a part of gospel living anymore, because it is a part of it. After all, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Why would I give that up?

So, that is why I am not willing to “repent”. Can those of you who think I am going to hell still pray for me? Of course! But, while you do, take a moment to sincerely pray and ask your Father in Heaven if maybe you’re  not missing the point.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Habits of Wisdom

I had a mild breakdown tonight. So much stress. So much to do. So much I want to accomplish, and so little time. So, I went to my knees and cried out to my Father in Heaven. I asked Him to help me, to give me wisdom for what I have to accomplish. I asked to be aware of the things He wanted me to do and to make them a priority.

The information that followed was not new, but it was a good reminder.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7

The key, for me, is to remember to put first things first. Instead of stressing over everything that has to be done and rushing from responsibility to responsibility in a frenzy, I need to slow down. That doesn’t mean drop any responsibilities. Instead, it means to put my Savior first. But not only that, but to do each responsibility peacefully--remembering it is my Savior I am serving, no matter how mundane a task may seem. I can take the time to do them with beauty.

I’m writing this to remind myself and keep myself accountable.  I love my Savior and I love my family. I want to serve both of them to the best of my ability.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Problem with Priesthood Protests

I have been frustrated and confused by the members who are protesting the fact that women aren't in the priesthood. I believe they are putting themselves in a dangerous position. When we joined the church, we made covenants to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. That includes the running of His church.  Do we really believe a bunch of dissatisfied women running around complaining is going to change the Lord's mind?  Do you think He will sit in heaven and say, "Oh, look, most of the women wore purple to the women's session in protest tonight, we should completely change the plan of salvation and eternity to satisfy them?"

Here's the danger. Their problem isn't with the brethren. It's with the Lord. They are rejecting the design of God, not Thomas S. Monson.  There are many passages on the Priesthood in our scriptures. I want to draw your attention to one. Doctrine & Covenants 84. Joseph Smith had just delineated the importance of the men receiving the priesthood, but then he says something very interesting.  Remember he has always taught that women receive the same spiritual blessings as men.

"And also all they who receive the priesthood, receive me, saith the Lord; for he that receiveth my servants receiveth me." vs. 35-36
We, who are not a part of the priesthood, are called  to receive them, meaning to believe in and accept their authority.  In so doing, we acknowledging the authority of the Savior. To do otherwise, is to say we know better than God.

Here is my advice (such as it is) to women who desire the priesthood. First, go to your Heavenly Father. Tell Him you are willing to honor your covenants and follow Him. Ask Him to give you a testimony of the priesthood. If you go with a sincere heart, it will come. Secondly, ask Him to show you His plan for women. I will tell you, it is beautiful. It is fulfilling. It is authoritative (in case you're still worried about that). Thirdly, get busy doing what He has truly called you to. I firmly believe if the women in the church were busy doing the callings they've already received, they'd have little desire for the priesthood. Ladies, let's serve where we're planted, and support our brethren in the callings they've received. Those of you who have been mothers know how hard it is to do what is best for your children when they are fighting you. Though they are not our parents, how hard we make it for the brethren to serve us, when we spend all our time fighting them.

I do not ignore the fact that some men, not the majority by any means, have abused their roles. Ladies, the verses condemning these men are some of the strongest in scripture. No one has a higher regard for women than the Lord does. Trust Him.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seek Ye Diligently....My Dream

Do you love the word of God?  Do you hunger for it?  I do. If I had the time, I could spend all day learning it.  This leads me to tell you about something that has been on my heart for a while.

Latter Day Saints have the opportunity, once in a lifetime, to receive something called a Patriarchal Blessing. Through it, we receive instruction, encouragement, guidance for our lives, and sometimes even correction. There have been many things written about patriarchal blessings, so I won't repeat them here.  Apostles have given talks on them, many people (myself included) have published articles about them.  If interested, you can easily find information about it online.

I'm going to tell you a little about mine. Not much, because they are private, but enough for this dream I am about to share to make sense.  Mine gave me one warning, lots of encouragement, and lots of direction. It specifically told me I am to teach the word of God. First and foremost to my children, and then to the church  as a whole.  Though I know the Old and New Testaments very well, I didn't feel qualified in my knowledge of the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants (yet). But, I filed away that instruction to teach, which planted a seed in my mind.

One of the weaknesses I see in the modern LDS church is a general lack of Scriptural knowledge. Granted, we have WAY more scriptures than other faiths, but that should fill us with more information, not less. My longsuffering friend, Vicki, has listened to me moan about not only the lack of knowledge in the general poplulation of the church, but also the lack of materials for deep study available. I've moaned about it quite a bit. She's such a patient woman. Before I am misunderstood,  there ARE  some materials available, but they're not in abundance and they are expensive.  I can't afford most of them. That lead to a dream I have. I want to make in depth scripture studies available to the general church population--for free. I do realize we have all Sunday School, Relief Society, and Seminary and Institute materials available free of charge, for which I am very grateful. I'm not overlooking those. However, these are survey studies and not in depth.

Last year, I ran a test group to see how an in-depth inductive study would be received.  I only did the very beginning part of King Benjamin's address. I received loads of useful feedback. Some found it very helpful. Others found it too difficult.  I settled on doing something in between. I'll have something that is a less "do it all yourself", but fully plan on making the more difficult one available in the future for those who want to dig a little deeper.

My next thoughts were about how to fund it. I'm not made of money--any money, actually. I could let Deseret Book publish the studies, but don't want to go that route.  I feel very strongly about the verse in Proverbs that instructs us to "Buy the truth and sell it not".  I didn't want to charge any money for the materials. If I went through Deseret, the products would cost money, even if I took no royalties. (No offense, Sheri. I know you're running a business and have to make a profit). However, I don't need to make a profit. I'm not running a business. This is something I want to do out of sheer love for the words of God. But, I do have a family to feed, so most of my time is taken up by that endeavor.

My plans, currently, are to continue working to feed my family and slowly produce the works that are on my heart.  I've written a secular novel that I am currently shopping to agents. My hope is that I can sell enough secular books (which I have no problem charging for) to fund my scripture studies.  I want to do them well, which takes time.  I also want them to look professional, which takes money.

Here is what you can do. I would like you to pray with me that the Lord would give me enough time to complete these. I'd also like you to pray that I will have wisdom in funding. That might mean I have to sell three different secular novels in order to fund one study, but I am fine with that.  I love writing anyway.

I'm going to start with the Book of John, while I continue to study Mosiah. Why John? Because I know the Book of John well, while Mosiah I need another year with to feel like I have it down. For now, when it is completed, I will offer it for free electronically.  I still have to work out graphics, which is not my area of expertise.  Until I can fund that, it will be completely graphic free, which makes me sad.  I need maps and other graphics to do it well.  Then, when the funding is there, I will make a hard copy available. I want all of it to be free.

Those of you who would like the Book of John study, contact me by email ( I will put you on a list.  In the meantime....let me give you something to do while you're waiting.

The purpose of the Book of John

Mark in your scriptures John 20:30-31 

 "And mnay other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciplies, which are not written in this book.: But, these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." 
This tells us the purpose of the gospel of John. So, here is a project for you. Read through the book of John.  When you come to a miracle that Jesus did, such as changing water to wine in John 2 mark that in a distinctive way.  You could put a big "S" out to the side for sign, or you could highlight the verses a certain color throughout the entire book.  For instance, you could highlight John 2:11 in yellow. It reads, 

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him." or, you could highlight the entire passage (John 2: 1-11).  

Something else you could look for, while you're reading through the book. Put a "W" out to the side of every verse where someone (or something) bares witness of Christ as the Savior. For instance, you could put a "W" outside of John 1:15 that reads, 

"John bare witness of Him and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me." 

Well, now you know more about me than you probably wanted to.  This is my dream. If you're willing, will you pray with me that I will be faithful in completing it?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Take Back Our Children

This may be a post that some people find difficult. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not.  Why not? Because this is important. Little by little we are selling our children. In our country, there are three viable options for your children’s education: Government (public) Schools, Private Schools, and Home Schools.
It is the parents to whom God has given stewardship of their children, so those parents must pray about which option is best for their family. Each family’s reasons are personal for why they choose them. We have no right to interfere with their decisions.

That being said, there is something insidious going on in our country and many parents seem pretty complacent about it.  The schools are taking over the role of the parents, in many cases overriding parental standards and choices. This isn’t just happening in the United States. Germany hasn’t allowed parents the right to pull their children out of school since the Third Reich. In the United Kingdom, there was recently a story about a family whose child was suspended because the parents packed a lunch that violated school lunch standards. The rotten parents allowed their child to have some cheesy crisps. Can you believe the negligence?

While I was outraged on behalf of the British parents and my heart weeps for German families that have their children taken away for teaching subversive ( ie. different from what the government wants) ideas, there is something happening right on our doorsteps in the U.S. and many are complacent. I’m talking about common core.

It is being touted as an elevation of standards and college readiness. At the risk of sounding like Dolores Umbridge (who still makes me shiver), this is  a lie.  Even a cursory look at the standards shows they are not raising them, but in many cases lowering them. Instead, it is creating a generation (or more if it continues) of children who will be indoctrinated in a certain ideology.

On top of that, the instruction that is taking place is flawed, especially in the elementary years.  What may have been a well intentioned attempt at teaching children to think outside the box, is going to cause our elementary aged students to grow up feeling confused and stupid, especially in math.  They’re trying to force young children to grasp the abstract.

As any proponent of classical education can tell you, that is not how young children learn.  They need to start with the concrete. Then, when they are developmentally ready move on to the abstract. This usually takes place in their Junior High School years.  You know those years…when they start arguing about everything. Then, the High School years they are ready to communicate the new concepts and ideas they have formed.  To learn more about this see Dorothy Sayers' essay The Lost Tools of Learning.

But, let’s get back to the main point. There are reasons not to give a central government control over the education of our children. It’s just plain dangerous. The blatant indoctrination in these standards will end up shaping the minds of our children. The danger won’t be obvious at first, but I see the direction this is heading. 

So, here is what I’m asking, I would like you to watch the video below. Then I would like you to pray about what the Lord would have you do. I firmly believe we need to stop Common Core.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren,

        if ye have experienced a change of heart, and

        if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love,

I  would ask, can ye feel so now?” Alma 5:26

We buried my father this week. One of my brothers was late for the funeral due to circumstances outside of his control. I didn’t want to start the service without him, so to try to keep those in attendance from awkwardness I spoke about my father and some of the many changes that he has gone through in his lifetime until my brother could get there. That got me to thinking about why people change. Some for good and some for bad.

How many times have you seen someone glowing from their recent baptism? Their whole being is different and they are excited about the new life ahead of them. Some go their whole lives with this glow and desire to love and serve their God. Others grow dull. For some it only takes a few months and they’ve disappeared. For others it is years later before they give up. What is the difference? Why do some endure to the end and others can’t endure through the month?

The passage above gives a glimpse of what it is like to experience the change that comes on those who make covenants with their God and Savior. How do those feelings get lost?

The verses that follow give some insight. Look at the questions it gives for self-reflection.

Have ye  walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God?

There is a need for regular repentance. Keeping oneself spotless from the world takes work. It takes a willingness to think eternally instead of temporally. Now, no one is perfect, but let’s face it, if we were we wouldn’t need the atonement anyway. That its one of the wonderful things I love about the sacrament. Each week we get to renew our covenants in our hearts.

“Could ye say,  if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that you have been sufficiently humble…”

Often, this is what keeps people from real repentance. We all like to be thought well of. It is hard admitting when we’ve failed. I recently had a friend that told me about a night that they blew it. This friend told me because they felt like a hypocrite not telling me. I was never more proud of my friend than when they came to me in humbleness and told me. This person also has the humility to take the appropriate steps and face the bishop. Despite the sin, I admire this person because they didn’t stay there. They didn’t try to hide it or make excuses for it. That is repentance. That is humility.

“…that your garments have been cleansed, made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem His people from their sins?”

This is a big one.  Evangelicals often accuse Latter-day Saints (Mormons) of a works based righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth.  We are made perfect through Christ by placing our faith and covenants with Him. Sometimes, though we lose that faith. Maybe we been disenchanted because of some perceived wrong in our lives. Maybe we feel our Savior is ignoring our needs. Maybe we put our faith in ourselves and forget the need for His sacrifice. We feel like a failure and forget about the beauty of repentance. We forget we can be made whole, because we’re so caught up in our sin.

“Behold are ye stripped of pride?”

I know someone who needs to be worshipped. He’d never call it that. He’d call it being a righteous example. But, he derives his sense of worth from being looked up to and admired. This has hindered his repentance at times. He has a hard time forming healthy relationships, because he has to be completely respected. When they don’t admire him, he accuses them of being prideful and sometimes worse things.

It matters to everyone what others think, so in some ways I understand the internal struggle this man must go through. However, this is one of the most destructive forms of pride. It robs you of honesty. It robs you of accountability. And worst of all it robs you of real repentance.

We sometimes cause this problem in others with judgment. I love how President Uchtdorf once said it. We shouldn’t judge others because they sin differently than us. When we do this we make it difficult for others to repent. They need to feel a sense of love and acceptance.  I’m not saying accept their sin. I’m saying accept that they are human and will struggle with things we don’t. Before we get too cocky, let’s remember we struggle with things they don’t too.

The next time you catch someone “blowing it” ask yourself how you would feel if someone saw you in the midst of failure. How would you want them to respond to you? Once you know, do that.

Be an example of righteousness and love people to repentance. Then, maybe, we can help the faltering saints gain the glow and joy of their salvation again. Then, maybe, their changes will be great ones.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Waiting on Repentance


This week I communicated with two extremely wounded women. Both have been hurt. One by someone outside of the church, the other by someone in the church. My advice to both of them was pretty much the same.

Their stories are private, but I can tell  you the first woman had a crime commit against her and the man got away with it.  She was angry. She was bitter. If God was good, why did he not only let this happen, but let the man get away with it? The second woman felt the same way. Someone in the church had taken advantage of her and as a result she lost her testimony. She too wondered where God was.

Both women are unhappy. Both have trouble forming relationships. They’ve put their lives on hold waiting for justice. This is a mistake. 

All of us have been hurt by people. Some of us have had real harm done to them. I understood how these women felt. There have been times in my life that I’ve wondered where God was. I have since learned that He was there all along. He sees the harm that others do and He weeps. These things aren’t forgotten. Even if  “justice” never happens during our earthly existence, it will come in our eternal existence.

But, that wasn’t the most important point that I wanted these women to understand. I wanted them to live. I wanted them to feel joy again. I wanted them to stop waiting for someone else’s repentance. It may never come.

I’m not callous to their feelings. I have wanted people to repent before. I desperately wanted a dishonest person, who brought great harm to me and my family, to finally tell the truth and stop hiding behind their charm and deceitful nature. For a while that paralyzed me.  How could I have joy when he continues the lies? How could I trust anyone ever again? I waited and waited, hoping for his repentance.

Then one day, while feeling particularly sad I asked myself “What if he never repents?” Which was looking very likely.  Would I want to live out the rest of my life sad and afraid to engage with others? Would I let him take my future from me too? No way.

It is foolish to deny yourself a fulfilled existence waiting on someone else’s repentance. A repentance that, in the majority of circumstances, will never come. That may be fine to say, but what is the solution? The solution is simple. Find joy.  Don’t live in the darkness. This world is full of good and beauty. It’s filled with people who have remarkable potential, but just need a little boost to help them recognize that. Be that boost. Bring them hope. When you live to bring love and beauty to others, you find joy.

Let me illustrate this with a science lesson I did with my youngest children.  Pure light has all the colors of the spectrum. The colors we see are the pieces of the spectrum that get reflected back to our eyes.  The color white is a reflection of all the colors bouncing back. The color black is all the colors absorbed leaving nothing but darkness.

We took two pieces of paper, one black and one white, as well as a magnifying glass into the sun.  We started with the white paper and aimed the magnifying glass so that a small concentrated circle from the sun shined on the paper. It took a LONG time for that paper to catch fire.  In fact, they got bored and I had to promise flames would come several times to keep them attentive. As promised, eventually the white paper caught fire.

Next, we did the same thing with the black paper. Almost instantaneously the black paper caught fire. Why? Because, instead of reflecting the light, it absorbed it along with all the heat light contains.

We can do the same thing with our lives.  We can either continue to internalize all our injuries, pulling the light away and leaving nothing but darkness, or we can reflect the light and beauty around us.  Not only will we be useful and bring hope to others, but we’ll find joy in our own lives too.

One other lesson from light. Notice, when you reflect light it is harder for you to be burned. But, when you just absorb it all you are consumed in flame rather quickly.

Don’t wait on someone else’s repentance. Live. Love. Enjoy.

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Sneak Peak…and a Rotten Excuse

I love the notes I get from you making sure I am still on the planet. I cherish the emails where you ask where I’ve been and tell me I’ve made a difference in your life. 

Here is the blunt truth. I. am. overwhelmed.

When you’re a single mom who works and homeschools, life isn’t easy.  Add to that Lyme disease treatments, which I am convinced are not only worse than the disease, but invented by Satan himself, and it gets hard to fit in things you love sometimes. I can’t remember the last time I played my violin….oh, I feel a tear coming…where is my tissue?

However, I have managed my life and regularly blogged before, so why haven’t I kept up?  It’s because I have been taking my spare moments to write a middle grade novel, as well as an inductive Scripture study.  The novel has been a life long dream for me. What better time to try to live your dreams than when you’re drowning?

Would you like a sneak peak at my book to see what I’ve been up to?  Please say yes.

And yes, my protagonist is a brainy boy.  What else could I write?  Well, here it is…..


By Annmarie Worthington

Chapter One

Jaden Andreist sat at his lunch table for as long as he could get away with it, but no sudden illness had overtaken him. It was time for battle class. Reluctantly, he put his elements book away and made his way out the castle doors.

He’d been practicing for months with Klevi, one of the top battle students, in exchange for tutoring him in runes. A week ago he felt confident. He’d been sparring better than ever. He’d even beaten Klevi twice in their mock duels. But, today was different. Today was his duel, and the knots in his stomach gave him doubt.

The other boys in his class loved sparring. It was the best part of turning twelve. No longer were they trapped doing nothing but endless boring drills in battle training. Now they got to show off their skill going head to head in real duels, even if they were using dummy swords. For the other boys it was a dream come true. For Jaden, it felt more like a nightmare. He preferred books to battles. If you made a mistake with a book, no one died.

“Jaden, wait up!”

He looked behind him and saw his friend Brandon running, his wavy brown hair bouncing. Jaden laughed. If there were any girls around he was pretty sure they’d be sighing. The girls loved Brandon—and his hair. Jaden ran his hands through his own shaggy blond hair. He doubted the girls sighed when he walked by.

“I thought I was the last one to head to battle training,” Jaden said when he caught up.

“Well, I was busy getting lectured by my father about not taking school seriously enough. You’d think being one of the top battle students would be enough for him, but nooo, apparently I have to have your brains too.”

“What are you failing this year?”

“Runes, elements, and agriculture. Though my dad doesn’t care about the last one. He thinks because we’re nobles, we’ll always have people to do that for us.” Brandon rolled his eyes.

“You know I’ve offered to tutor you.”

“I’d let you, if I cared, but let’s face it, no matter what I do, it’s not going to be enough. At least not for him.”

By the time they reached the armory beside the practice field, most of the other boys were already suited up. A group of them were talking excitedly. A large boy in the back noticed Jaden walk in.

“I didn’t think you’d have the guts to show up today,” he said as he pushed through the crowd, his chainmail clinking. Most of the boys used the practice armor, but Berach outgrew those last year. His father had his specially made for him. He stood in front of Jaden.

“Couldn’t think of an excuse to stay with Daddy and avoid your beating in the sparring circle?”

“Shut it, Berach,” Brandon said stepping between them.

“Your body guard is not going to be in the sparing circle. Remember that Andreist.”

Berach pushed past them and went out to the field. The rest of the group followed. Jaden’s face grew warm as he grabbed some gear and a practice sword and started out the door.

Brandon grabbed his arm. “Don’t worry about that loser. You’ll do fine. He just does that because he can’t stand the fact that your dad’s more important than his.”

“Yeah, it’s great when your dad’s the national hero and you’re the flunky of battle class,” Jaden replied.

He had to win today.

Brandon draped an arm over his shoulder. “Oh, the joys of not meeting expectations.”

Sir Robert, their combat instructor, was already on the field barking orders to older boys heading out for an assignment. With rolls of fat on his stomach and a beefy neck, it would be easy to assume Sir Robert wouldn’t be much of a threat in a duel, but Jaden knew better. He’d heard his father’s tales about the last war.

“We’ll have a short drill today. We’ll be using the new parry we practiced yesterday,” Sir Robert barked once his youngest class lined up. “I want to see you blocking your opponents swing with perfect technique. If not, you’ll be drilling after class until your arms fall off. You’ve got fifteen minutes and then we’ll have our sparring demonstration.”

Jaden felt his stomach lurch.

“Partner up and go,” Sir Robert shouted.

Jaden grabbed Brandon. They took turns with their new technique, while Sir Robert walked around observing and correcting each pair.

Brandon brought his sword down overhand. Jaden blocked the strike with an upward stroke, turned around quickly to the side, flipped his sword, and slashed down on Brandon’s arm. A perfect execution! He looked around hoping Sir Robert had seen it, but he’d already moved onto another pair.

“All right everyone, swords down,” Sir Robert shouted over the din. “It’s time for our spar.”

Sweat dripped down Jaden’s face. He felt good about how well he had drilled. Maybe today would finally be his day. He stepped toward the center of the sparring circle to face Berach. The rest of the students stood just outside the boundaries, cheering for their favorite.

Jaden kept his head down and took deep, steady breaths. He could do this. The cheering stopped and students began mumbling excitedly. Jaden looked up. Through a gap in the circle, he saw his father and the king’s historian walking onto the field. Jaden’s heart began to pound even faster. Not today, he thought. Any day but today. He glanced at Brandon who looked at him with sympathy.

“Hello boys,” greeted his father smiling at everyone.

“Hello, sir,” they replied in unison.

Everyone stood a little straighter when Matthew Andreist was around, even Sir Robert. He should have known his father would find out today was his duel. He knew everything that went on in Sudner.

“Please continue what you were doing,” Matthew said. “Sir Drandurling and I just came here to enjoy watching Sudner’s military future.”

Slowly, the cheering began again, though now everyone seemed to be cheering for Jaden. Berach scowled, a look of angry determination on his face. Sir Robert stepped up.

“OK, each of you is to spar using free form. Berach, I want to see more swiftness in your turns. Jaden, show us you’re an Andreist. You’ve got the bloodline, act like it. At some point I want to see each of you using your new technique.” Both boys faced each other and bowed.