Send me your favorite lines from ANY of the books and I’ll send you a new bookmark (eventually)

What are you favorite lines from the Forest at the Edge book series? I need them! To meme them!

Now that I’m teaching high school full-time again, I don’t have the luxury of blogging to draw attention to my book series. Then I had an idea: Let the books sell themselves. Why not just publish lines or segments of dialogue a couple times a week on social media?

So in my spare time I’ve been glancing through my books trying to find lines that I think are intriguing or memorable, but honestly I don’t know what is intriguing or memorable.

That’s where I’d appreciate your help: Send me lines from ANY of the books that YOU like, and I’ll put them in a meme. I figure: you’re a reader, so you’ll know what will draw in other readers and get them interested. (I’m a genius, I know.)

So respond to this posting, or go to my Contact Me page and send me an email of lines I should meme. If I get organized, I’m going to make new bookmarks and send you one as a thank you by Christmas. (That’s the dream–it may be spring, who knows.)

I might post memes in order of the books–what do you think? For example, below is the first meme I’ve made. Should I go in order? Or should I throw out memes from all the books in any old order?

King Oren killing squad name change

I’d also like to thank you for your reviews of Book 8, The Last Day. Your reviews are helping the series get more exposure, and I really appreciate that!

So send me your lines, your opinions, your ideas, and (eventually) I’ll send you a bookmark as a thank you!

How to stop hating the opposition in 7 short steps

You despise that person (you know the one), and all that they stand for. Their face is on everything and everywhere, and why they’re famous or even admired baffles you to nausea. If they would just die (and everyone else in their little groups) the world would be a better place.

But that’s not going to happen, nor is wishing someone to die a mature attitude that anyone over the age of nine should still possess. Our rhetoric about people and public figures has degenerated to level of grade school recess fights, and it’s time to reverse that. Not just to teach the rising generation how to handle those who they don’t like, but for us adults to have some peace of mind, and some peace in heart.

As I’ve tried to find ways to get along in my mind with those people whose very existence rankle my ire, I’ve devised this list:

  1. Acknowledge that every person—EVERY person—has some good qualities. No one is ever wholly “evil” or “bad,” no matter what the memes say about them.
  2. Find that good quality. Identify it, and not in a sarcastic manner. Recognize that even the “worst” politician, athlete, Hollywood type, or even next-door neighbor has some worthy ability. Maybe they’re very tenacious, or are devoted to their kids, or aren’t fazed by criticism, or have a unique way of looking at the world.
  3. Next, grab hold of that quality, and admire Yes, you heard me right: admire that ability to do whatever, and isolate it in your mind as their redeeming factor.
  4. Do NOT add a “Yes, but,” after that, the words which negate that admirable quality you just identified. There is no room for “Yes, buts.” At least, not at this step.
  5. Now, whenever you see or read something about that person, and you feel your blood pressure rising with rancor, recall that quality, and say to yourself (and here’s where the “Yes, but” comes into play), “Yes, but she seems very skilled in applying eyeliner.” (See, it doesn’t have to be an exceptionally noble trait, but something you can admire.) “Yes, but he genuinely seems to like his current wife,” might be another. Or, if you’ve got nothing else, you could think, “Yes, but I’ve never heard of that person sending rabid gorillas to the international space station.” Repeat this line in your head about the person, over and over if necessary.
  6. And move on. Do NOT continue to read or listen to or watch that person who you so despise. Change the channel, turn off the device, click past them, and find something more settling for your ulcer.
  7. Finally, repeat to yourself: “I do NOT have to get angry about someone. I do not have to spout off in social media, or repost that snarky meme, or comment below the article about why that person should die. I can MOVE ON” (remember step 6?).

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Repeat as necessary, and revel in your new-found peace.

You have very little time in life; don’t waste any of it being angry at a public figure who will never care what you think, and will never know.

Go pour some love on someone instead. Valentine’s Day is coming, after all.

 

Mahrree rarely thought about the twenty-three Administrators who now ruled, and likewise those Administrators thought nothing of her at the northern edge of the world.

~Book 1, The Forest at the Edge of the World

gorillas-and-iss

3 ways in which parents are like God (and 3 ways we aren’t–yet)

I’ve always known that parenthood is how God teaches us to be like Him, but now that I’ve been at it for 25 years, I feel like I’m finally understanding some of those aspects. For example:

1) God WANTS to hear from us. Wherever, whenever. I know this, because currently our family is spread over the country. Five of my nine children are at home, one’s serving an LDS mission, and three are away at college. My husband also works out of state, so connecting with everyone doesn’t always happen. But on some Mondays (the day my missionary son can email home) I find that I’ve chatted, emailed, skyped, texted, or messaged everyone in my family. Those are successful days when I feel as if everyone’s still connected.

BUT, how I am not like God is that by the evening, I AM DONE! My kids will tell you that there comes a point when I loudly announce, “I do NOT want to TALK or even SEE any more children! I NEED QUIET TIME!”

Invariably this occurs after these children have already been read and prayed away to bed, and they sneak into my room while I’m trying to work on my computer to annoy me with something irrelevant. After my explosion, and they retreat to their rooms, sure enough, that’s when one of my away-children will  pop up to chat online, or my husband will skype about something.

You should see the look I give my poor husband when he skypes at those moments. “Ah,” he’ll say, “one of those pecked-to-death-by-ducks days. I’ll make this brief—”

Sometimes (ok, often) I lose it.

But God never runs out of patience, or wants time to Himself, because He doesn’t deal with time. (That still boggles my mind.) He’s got all the non-existent time in the world, and there’s never a queue for those waiting on Him.

I know this, because I’ve prayed at all hours of the day and night, and have never heard celestial bellows of, “I Have Had It With These Children—Today, I Am Done!”

Nope, He’s never going to do that.

2) When you truly love God, you just want to be with Him. I know this, because when I have been patient and kind with my kids (something I pray for every single day—“PLEASE help me be patient and kind!”) they actually want to be with me.

This occurred to me on Sunday as my youngest children squished me on the pew at church. My preschooler is getting too heavy to be on my lap, but since he’s the last, I tolerate it even as my legs lose feeling. My nine-year-old tries to lean on me at the same time because she’s too big for my lap, and my thirteen-year-old will lean on the other side because I’m convenient for when he falls asleep five minutes into the service.

And so I sit, squashed and growing numb.

For a naturally claustrophobic person, this has taken a few years to get used to, but I discovered some time ago that if my kids didn’t like me—or even tolerate me—they’d be sitting much further away. On days like that I think, “I may be doing something right.”

Or I’m just convenient, but I’ll take that.

It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. When we truly know Him and understand His nature, we want to be closer to Him. We read the scriptures more, we pray more, we include Him more in our daily mental conversations. We do all we can to feel closer to Him, and He in turn draws closer to us.

We discover He’s an ally, a friend, a confidante, and while sometimes He needs to chasten us because He loves us, His arms are outstretched still, waiting for us to come back into them.

Image result for painting of jesus with man on bench(I love this painting, “Lost and Found,” by Greg Olsen.)

As a mother, I’m not always successful in this. There are times when my children have done something so heinous (i.e. ruined an appliance/electronic device/toilet) that I have to step away in fury, or my child might be permanently wounded; not physically, but emotionally.

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To be fair, this child had permission to destroy the light fixture . . .

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. . . only because she wouldn’t let go of the hammer, and I feared for the rest of the house.

There have been moments when I’ve wanted to throw a flood at an “evil” child and wash it far away, but then I remember that God had been warning and pleading with and trying to save His truly evil children before The Flood for 120 years while Noah labored on the ark.

But after 120 seconds, sometimes I’m ready to call down hail-fire and brimstone. (See why I’m always praying to be “patient and kind”?)

3) Heavenly Father wants to be our Father. Before I get into this, allow me backtrack—children need parents. I think this should be obvious, but almost daily I read philosophies that try to downplay the importance of parents, claiming they can be replaced by exceptional schools (I haven’t found any truly exceptional yet), well-structured day-care centers which can care for your child from before breakfast to after dinner, and a socialistic state which “serves” to alleviate the burdens of parenthood, so that adults can do what really matters—work for the betterment of the state.

Parenting, in some socialist theories, is a purely physical function, with those functions ending as soon as the child is delivered.

This isn’t how God sees parenthood. In fact, the title this all-powerful Creator of Heaven and Earth has chosen for himself is Heavenly Father. I’ve referred to Him here frequently as God which, while accurate, I think downplays His role in our lives. “God” is often seen as a distant figure, full of power and anger, ready to trick and punish His subjects in Zeus-like ways. The gods love to mess with us puny mortals.

The problem is, much of the world regards the Supreme Being of the cosmos this way. But that’s not a true image. Rather, it’s one Satan tries to promote in his effort to keeps us as far away from our Father as he can.

Our Father is an all-loving, ever-patient, ever-tender Father—to all of us. No matter our race, religion, political background, or any other potentially divisive measure, He wants to parent us, as a Perfect Parent would: solely concerned about our well-being.

Our Heavenly Father has no other agenda, no other pressing concerns, other than our eternal happiness. There’s nothing He wants more than to bring us home again with our souls intact from this life-long test we told Him we wanted to take.

Think about the best dad you know—maybe yours, maybe a friend’s. (Interestingly, a lot of people’s perceptions of God are based upon their relationships with their own fathers.) What made that dad so great? His every thought was for his kids, wasn’t it?

Just like our Heavenly Father.

But we puny mortals usually aren’t as wholly devoted to parenthood. Certainly not me, unfortunately. Sure, I’m concerned about my kids, put aside my own plans to help them with theirs, and often forsake sleep, food, and sanity to help them when they’re troubled.

But even as I type this morning, I’m interrupted by my daughter getting ready for school, my son splashing in his bath, my other son  failing again to wake up . . . and here I sit typing. (Notice how I said they’re interrupting me—how I come first, instead of them?) I’m not 24-hours-a-day focused on my children.

“Helicopter parenting,” on the other hand, is not God-like parenting, either, because it’s not done out of concern for children, but out of anxiety of what society may think of us as parents.

While wholly attentive, Heavenly Father is not a helicopter parent. He allows us to make mistakes, to skin our knees, even to punch our siblings, because He knows this life is a test, and no one ever learns from a test if they’re not allowed to actually take it. He allows us to fail so that we can begin to improve.

However, I admit there are times I probably should be more attentive than I am, so that the above-mentioned ruined appliances/devices/toilets don’t get ruined.

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Or so that this, for example, doesn’t happen.

That’s not a problem Heavenly Father faces. A nearly-ruined earth, maybe, but nothing that His Son cannot heal. No, Heavenly Father is far more focused and far more in the details of our lives than we’ll ever understand while in mortality.

Only when we get to the other side and review our existence will we see how often He nudged a situation for us, or diverted a disaster, or steadied us, much like we steady our own children as they learn to ride a bike. Rarely do they know, in their excitement that first time without training wheels, how closely we’re running behind them and straightening their bikes until they can do it themselves.

Likewise, we’ll be surprised to see how often our Heavenly Dad’s hand was touching our lives to make sure we stayed on course.

People occasionally ask me why I have so many kids, and I give my usual, flippant answer of “My husband and I really don’t know. What keeps causing this? Can you explain it to me? Draw diagrams?”

But once another answer came to my mind, when my Heavenly Father was gently nudging me to not be so trivial.

The answer was, So that I can learn to be more like my Heavenly Parents.

Because yes, there is a Heavenly Mother, too, but my theory is that She’s dealing with the children not yet born, or who have already died and gone back, so Heavenly Father is dealing with those of us on “away missions” while She focuses on those “back home.” Even Heavenly Parents have a division of labor.

I also have a lot of children because I’m a very slow learner (no, we figured out how they’re conceived a few years ago—glad we got that cleared up). Each child has taught me a different aspect of how my Heavenly Father wishes me to be, and I’m needing lots of years of practice to start getting close to His vision for me.

But, fortunately, I have Perfect Examples to follow.

Mahrree often felt as if she were looking into the eyes of the Creator Himself as Gleace listened earnestly to Peto’s description of kickball, offered advice to Deck on selecting cattle to start his herd, chuckled at Jaytsy’s explanation of her mother’s first attempt to garden, and laughed at hearing how Perrin became a cat owner. He paid full attention to each of them, as if no one else existed, and what they had to say was the most important thing ever.

Mahrree knew there were some people who envisioned the Creator as a great and terrible Being, full of impatient vengeance for the fallibility of His creations.

But Mahrree had always pictured someone else: a perfect Father who wanted to make sure His children knew they were loved and cared about. ~Book 5, Safety Assured Leaving East of Medicetti

High Polish Tatra mountains