Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Of Butterflies and Bracelets...

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful infant. This infant was longed for, prayed for, hoped for, and loved. So much excitement filled the air at the news “We’re going to have a baby!”

And then, as sometimes happens, tragedy struck. The doctors assured the mother that she did nothing wrong. Nothing could have been done to prevent the miscarriage. “These things just happen. Especially in the first trimester,” they told her. At seven weeks, the infant was delivered into the loving arms of her Heavenly Father, to hold and to keep until the mother could be with her again.

Deep wounds were torn into the mother’s heart. It’d be so long before eternity happened and she could hold her infant again. And then, a butterfly came… A beautiful blue iridescent butterfly. It came and and landed on her hand, caressing the skin with its wings. At this moment, the flutterings from within were felt and the mother knew. She knew she carried another life, not to replace the one that was lost but to help her heal from the loss. This butterfly, Kimana, seemed to kiss the mother’s hand before it fluttered away into the sky - knowing it’s beautiful message had been delivered.

After the butterfly disappeared from sight, the mother went into the nearby gift shop and was amazed to find a beautiful bracelet - one with a butterfly with wings made from abalone. The beautiful blue wings seemed to flutter much like the wings that had just moments before caressed her heart and soul. The bracelet was purchased and treasured. Worn when the mother needed comfort from her unseen angel.

It is amazing how much sentiment is collected into one, seemingly small, piece of jewelry.

On this day, my rainbow baby, the one who came to us after the loss of our Kimana, climbed up onto the high shelf and retrieved the beautiful bracelet. She wore it proudly. I’m sure she wanted to be pretty “like mama”. She kissed the iridescent wings as she danced around. And somewhere, somehow, in the hands of the little mischief-maker, the bracelet was broken. The silver band straightened. The butterfly charm became detached. Unsure of what metals were used, jewelers are unable to reattach the charm. And so, the butterfly bracelet sits - broken.

Now, on this day, the mother’s heart aches for the treasure, the tangible piece of reality that tied her to her infant. In her heart, she knows that the ties to eternity are not tangible. They are felt as the strings are woven together into a blanket that wraps around one’s soul and brings comfort to the aching hearts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Writing Wednesday

I have been writing quite a bit lately. My house has been much neglected because of it, but it seems my mind just won’t shut off. Scenes replay over and over through my mind until I get them on paper. Thankfully, most of my characters understand when it’s dinner time or time to feed the creatures or milk my cow (twice per day). Sometimes, they don’t and they carry on conversations in my mind.

“Gee, I wish she’d hurry.”
“Come on! I’m waiting here!”
“This idea is GOLD! Just forget the cow and get on with the book.”
“You should put this into that scene you just wrote.”

Helpful, aren’t they? My imaginary friends are ever-so-entertaining most days. My imaginary friends are quiet today. I’m thinking they’re exhausted from keeping me up at night. At any rate, I’ll be cleaning my woefully neglected house until ‘something happens’ - whether it be the imaginary friends start talking, my house gets clean, someone pops into the writing chat room, or my kids decide they’re on strike again. Until then, I’ll leave you with this little snippet to enjoy…

Kiara’s teeth chattered as she staggered through the snow. It seemed to be getting deeper the further she went.

“Am I even on the road?”

Tears slid down her cheeks and almost instantly froze in place. Dark clouds obscured the moon as the sleet beat down on her. She pulled her jacket closer around herself, trying to keep the cold at bay.

Her teeth chattered and her body shook as she trudged a meandering path. She glanced up and blinked, almost wondering if the smoke rising from the trees was a mirage. As if drawn toward the oasis like a thirsty desert traveler, she switched directions and headed toward the trickle of smoke. Soon, the scent of it teased her nostrils and tempted her forward with it’s promised warmth.

Walking, or rather, stumbling became easier beneath the pines. Her eyes widened as a tiny cabin came into view. Lights beckoned through the windows. “Come inside,” they seemed to beg.

She fell to her knees when her legs refused to climb the stairs. She clawed her way onto the porch and reached for the doorknob, praying she could open it. Hope fled as she crumpled into a heap, unable to move, unable to open the door, unable to go any further. She curled into a ball, wishing a tiny bit of warmth would seep out from the crack near the floor.

“Please help me,” she uttered.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Medical Update (I know it's not Monday)

Some of you know this story, but not all of you do. We were at State Wrestling at the end of February. The kids started getting sick. We didn’t think much of it, kids get sick all the time. Most of the kids recovered within three days. But not Jaydon. Jaydon got worse. I’d been dealing with barf and fevers and barf and whiny and did I mention barf? For well over a week. I decided the younger kids and I would go to PeeWee Wrestling while Jaydon stayed home.

We got in late and he was asleep so I went to bed. In the morning, I went in to wake him up. Everyone else was awake but him. I walked into his room and he laid there, gray pallor, sunken eyes, lips pulled back from dried out teeth. My eyes went wide. My heart almost stopped. “Jaydon, it’s time to get up.”

He didn’t respond. There was no discernible rise and fall to his chest.

“Jaydon. Come on. Get up.”


So I screamed. “Jaydon! GET UP!”

He finally stirred. “What?”

Relief washed over me and I sent him to the tub.

“Mom. I’m done. I’m so tired.”

I wanted to scream. “What do you mean?!?!” But I didn’t. “You’ll be okay. I’m calling the doctor.”

Trying for as much normalcy as possible, I sent the younger boys to swim school and came back to the house. He’d curled into a ball, barely dressed.

A call to the doctor was less than productive. I hauled the kids to my mother’s as I packed a bag, knowing we were going to a hospital but not knowing which one. The doctor finally called back. The instructions were simple. “Go to your favorite hospital.”

Our wonderful home teacher came and gave my son a wonderful blessing. One I would hold onto throughout the coming weeks and months. He would get better. It would be a struggle. BUT he WOULD get better.

We drove. I’ll never know how I didn’t get pulled over. I know I had angels with me. My husband met us in Evanston and we drove, and Jaydon barfed and screamed and barfed. He was almost catatonic when we got to Primary Children’s Hospital. I almost had to carry him inside.

Multiple tests and xrays later it was determined that because of the illness and dehydration, he was in renal failure. He had so many diagnosis that all revolved around his dehydration. We spent a week in the hospital and finally were released.

Two hours. Two hours was how long it took for him to become exhausted. He went to school for those two hours, working as hard as he could until he couldn’t. They’d call and I’d go get him. He’d last a little longer every day until he was back to school full time.

Then, we had to petition the school for credit for his entire freshman year. It was granted - we have the best SPED adviser and principal. There were several other disagreements and arguments along the way. Momzilla made her appearance on occasion.

Yesterday’s appointment was EXCELLENT! My son has gained weight! SEVEN pounds! He went from being below the 1st percentile on the growth charts to being close to the 10th percentile! IN THREE MONTHS!! We’ve discussed the use of growth hormones and steroids to aid in his growth. We have several groups working with us at the insurance and hospital to find the best way to bill so we get the least expensive option.

The prognosis is good. The labs have stabilized. My son has so much energy and is teasing his brothers and sisters mercilessly - much to my chagrin. He’s getting better, slowly. He’s my superman!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wyoming Writers Conference

As I drove across the gray-green sagebrush flats, heading for South Pass, I looked in the back where my clothes hung. I’d packed in the dark, afraid to wake my husband and toddler. “Wow, did I really pack the brown pants instead of the black ones?”

I pulled over at the rest area and consulted the schedule, happily discovering that I did indeed have time to buy new pants as well as check into the hotel before the activities started.

I changed from my jeans, stained with slobber from cattle, goats and kids into the new jeans, brushed my hair and set out, unsure what experiences I’d find, but determined to draw something from the wealth that was being offered.

The fiction table was entertaining. So much talent flowed from the pages that were read and critiqued. I am constantly amazed at the caliber of writers we have in our state. After dinner, we filtered into the room, passing around a sign up list for the Open Mic session.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Come on. The winners are reading their works first. They’ll never get to the list.”

“Fine,” I hedged as I scrawled my name on the tablet.

And the list moved on, jumping from table to table as writers added their names to it. I was sorely tempted to cross my name off and add it to the end of the list, but it wouldn’t have done any good. They made it through and beyond.

My name was called and I took the mic, heart thumping in my chest so hard that I was certain everyone could see it even through my clothing. I read an excerpt from my novel, Saving Grace. It didn’t take the full five minutes, but it was long enough, especially for my stage-frightened self. “The Bear Excerpt,” as it soon became known, was quite popular. I was stopped numerous times on Saturday and Sunday by people praising and asking questions about me and my work.

I thought, “Wow. People really do like my stuff. It’s not just my friends and family telling me.”

Then the pitch session… There was a scheduling snafu somewhere. I was put on two lists at overlapping times. As such, I pitched to Ms. Wales, who very politely declined my manuscripts - all of them - but she did give me several tidbits of treasured advice. I missed the pitch to Ms. Turner and almost cried. Chris was very accommodating, and after some discussion, rescheduled the pitch.

Ms. Turner, with High Hill Press, was very interested in my novel, Bid For Freedom. So much so, that she requested a full! I’m so excited! I have my work cut out for me over the next month, polishing before I press send, coming up with marketing schemes and updating my woefully neglected blog.

For classes, I attended Pamela Fagan Hutchins’ classes on self-publishing. I am almost overwhelmed with the knowledge that she shared. After the classes, we had a great discussion about marketing and she gave me several hints along the lines of what to include in the marketing plan I’ll be sending to High Hill Press. She also put me in contact with an author that lives in Star Valley, only an hour north of me. We’ve chatted via email and are in the process of reviewing our schedules to see not if but when we can get together.

I met several amazing authors and I’m in awe of their willingness to help me. Their willingness to share their knowledge so that others can and will be successful. Their joy FOR me as I shared my wonderful news. I’ve met several friends and have already connected with them on social media, discussing what we learned and the experiences that we had.

This conference was everything I wanted and needed and was so much more than I even dreamed. As a mom of six, I arrived, frazzled and nervous - almost broken - having misplaced my creativity somewhere along the line. When I left, I was revitalized and overjoyed. Who knew I’d left my creativity in Riverton?

To the BearLodge Writers, thank you so much for sponsoring me. This opportunity will always be treasured. You’ll never know exactly how much I needed this. The phone call telling me I’d been chosen as the scholarship recipient came the day we got home from the week-long hospital stay as my son fought yet another battle for his life. THIS battle with his kidney disease was successful. He won’t need a transplant yet. We’re hoping for at least another two years before that event.

Thank you so much for allowing me to take a much-needed break and revitalize myself, to gain such a love for my fellow writers, for the opportunity to rub shoulders with greatness, and above all, to instill a confidence in myself that I didn’t have before. As a result, I am a much better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better writer. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Writing and Photo Shoots

The past six months have been FULL of writing and kids and photo shoots. It's been such a fun learning experience! I've learned so many things about myself and some of my talents. I've completed four books since October. I'm learning how to use my camera so that I can use some of the pictures I've taken for the covers (or at least parts of my pictures)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

An Open Letter to the Young Man Who Introduced my Son to Porn...

An Open Letter to the Young Man Who Introduced my Son to Porn…

I know who you are. I know the circumstances. You viewed them as an initiation into high school. You thought it was funny to see the looks on all those “Mormon boys’ faces”. You thought it was funny to talk about women as property, as sex objects, as items to be “had”. You had your entertainment.

You weren’t there to see the private struggles my son has gone through. You weren’t there as he bared his soul and bore the shame of discovery at school. You weren’t there as he sat in the principal’s office as I – his mother – was called, again. You weren’t there, seeing this broken young man sobbing the words “Mom, I think I’m addicted. I think I need help.”

I’ll admit, two years ago, I failed my son in not getting him the help he so richly deserved and desperately needed. I failed my son in my teachings and examples. I failed my son in so many ways. I thought if he went to the bishop, he could be directed through this. Sometimes, it’s not that easy. I should have been more involved, more concerned and as such, I failed. But, I’m here now and he is an amazing young man.

I’ve struggled with forgiving you. I even laughed and got a perverse satisfaction in your struggles and failures. How could I forgive you?

I almost immediately forgave my son. He’s a great person. He is, after all, my child. But you? I’ve struggled to find a way to forgive you. How can I? You put filth in front of my son! You convinced him it was “just a picture. You can look. Once won’t hurt.” But you were wrong; it did. You were the instrument that brought about my son’s addiction. He made the choice, but you put it there for him to grasp.

I fought with myself and finally went to my best friend and cried on her shoulder. How can I forgive someone who has hurt my son so badly. In her immense wisdom she asked me how much I loved my son. “I’d die for him. You know that.”

“And you love him so much that you’re willing to drive over 100 miles every week to take him to the Addiction Recovery Classes.”



“Because he’s worth it.”

“Exactly. And the other boy is too. He is worth your forgiveness. You don’t know what his circumstances are and were. You have no clue what his family life is. You don’t know if HIS mother loves him enough to help him through his addictions. Be grateful that this happened to your son at this juncture. He will be so much stronger. He will be able to reach people that no one else can because he’s been there. He’s struggled down the path of addiction.”

I sat in shock - dumbfounded as she continued.

“If you were sitting in the Celestial Kingdom with your family and you saw this boy walk in, what would you think?”

“He shouldn’t be there.”

“You’re wrong. YOU shouldn’t be there. If he has walked into that room, that means he has repented, made amends for the wrongs he’s committed. If he’s there, Christ has paid the price for his sins as well as yours. If you feel he shouldn’t be there, then you haven’t dealt with your issues. You have failed to forgive.”

At this point, I was sobbing. My family is worth any sacrifice, any price. “How?”

“Pray, honey. Give it to God. He’ll figure it out and soften your heart.”

I have worked very hard at forgiving you. Some days are so much better than others. Sometimes, my forgiveness train totally derails and I cry as I pick up the pieces and put myself back on the right track. I’m not a perfect person and neither are you. I pray you find someone who loves you enough to help you find peace and direction. I pray you find someone who loves you as much as I love my own son. Then I remember, God loves you more than that. HE will help you through everything you need help with. He will put people in your path to direct your steps, soften your heart. I pray for you as I struggle through this with my son. I hope beyond hope that you find peace, love and success.

With all my heart,

My son’s mom

Struggling with Inner Demons

I've really struggled with this post. It affects so many people. I don't wanna step on toes. I don't wanna put anyone under the microscope. I don't wanna upset anyone. Finally, last night after much prayer and discussions, I decided to share at least a small part of my journey as I struggle with the Inner Demons of my soul.

It's been almost a year since this leg of the journey began in earnest. We had been unknowingly spiraling downward until there was a rock bottom - or at least a ledge that we landed on.

I got the dreaded phone call from the school. My son was in trouble - again. We had battled with this issue for two years. And I was blissfully unaware of just how deep the crevasse was. Completely blindsided by the depths we would need to crawl out of, inch by inch. My son, crushed and broken, uttered these simple words. "Mom. I think I need help. I think I'm addicted. I've tried. I can't stop. Please...."

He broke off and we both cried. That look of utter despair is never one I want to see on one of my children's faces ever again. We discussed options. We prayed together. I finally saw a ray of hope brighten his young face.

I've never been so proud of this young soul as I was that night. I knew he had character. I knew he had charisma. I knew he had compassion. But this issue... this addiction almost broke my soul apart, and his. He thought of himself as a failure. He thought of himself AS his addiction. He is NOT his addiction. Yes, it is a part of him. He, as a young teenager, admitted to a problem that most grown men will never allow themselves to admit is a problem. This young man, my son, is so much bigger than most grown men. This young man is a superhero.

He has stepped up and taken ownership for his problems, his addictions. He has willingly and happily attended the LDS Addiction Recovery Classes with me almost every week for a year.

As I prayed for guidance in how to handle this situation, I was prompted to send a text. "Call me when you get a minute. I need your help." Those simple words broke a dam within myself. I had asked for help and I received it. I received a list of LDSARCs in the area. None of which felt right. So we expanded our search. Overwhelmingly, Preston became our focus. Preston was where we needed to be.

I was able to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate the class. I was able to discuss options for my son with his coaches who wholeheartedly agreed that his mental and spiritual well being was so much more important than sports. So, one night each week, he is dismissed and we drive.

We talk, we laugh, we eat sandwiches, we sing along with the radio, we discuss future plans and goals, we learn about each other, we have grown so much closer. I LOVE my son! I'm so thankful for what this challenge has given me - and him. This challenge, this addiction, has brought me my son. It has brought me closer to Christ. It has given me so much MORE! More blessings than I could ever have hoped to receive. I'm posting a letter I wrote (in a separate blogpost) that has helped me with my recovery. I pray it will help others who may find themselves struggling. Hugs and Prayers Always & Forever.