Monday, August 21, 2017

Today the Frog Swallows the Sun


Today I am going to try to catch the solar eclipse. I was interested to read in a work email that for many Native Americans, an eclipse has sacred significance requiring them to observe the day by remaining indoors and refraining from their daily activities.

A co-worker confirmed, writing, "In my tribe they tell a story of how a Big Frog swallowed the Sun. It was an old man who discovered the Big Frog. He asked the people to come outside and make as much noise as possible, until the Sun returned. The women shook our turtle rattles and our men sang our songs on the water drum. Some shot arrows into the sky until the Big Frog spit out the Sun. Soon our Grandmother Sun returned to show the light and the way to the people. "

James Adair, in the History of the American Indians, notes: "The first lunar eclipse I saw after I lived with the Indians was among the Cherokee (in about 1736), and during the continuance of it their conduct appeared very surprising to one who had not seen the like before. They all ran wild, this way and that way, like lunatics, firing their guns, whooping and hallooing, beating of kettles, ringing horse bells, and making the most horrid noises that human beings possibly could. This was the effect of their natural philosophy and done to assist the suffering moon."

How grateful I am for such interesting cultures and stories. They make life all the more interesting! You can read about additional cultural interpretations of the eclipse here.
The path of the moon’s umbral shadow-in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon-during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017. The lunar shadow enters the United States near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins in Lincoln City, Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PDT. The total eclipse will end in Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 p.m.. EDT. Outside the path, a partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout the continental U.S. – Courtesy of NASA

Monday, August 14, 2017

Using a Soft Tone

Communication has three components: verbal, nonverbal, and nonlexical. This third component, nonlexical, consists of the vocal, but nonverbal, aspects of speaking, including intonation, pitch and speed of speaking, hesitation noises, etc.

One of the nonlexical areas I struggle with is using a soft tone of voice when I get irritated or upset. Using the right tone of voice is critical because many studies show it directly correlates with how interpersonal interactions turn out. One study has shown it takes five positive interactions to make up for one instance where a negative tone of voice was used. That's a hard ratio to keep up with if you struggle like me.

Researchers have also proven individuals tend to mimic back communication styles used. If I whisper to you, you are likely to whisper back. (Although you might ask, “Why are we whispering?”) And if I speak with a snark, my kids might get snarky back. So an adverse tone of voice may result in an escalation of nonconstructive conversation at home or elsewhere simply because of this mimic effect.

So what can you do to help ensure you use the right tone of voice? Here are three tips:

1. Be mindful.
Just being aware is half the battle. It’s when I am distracted and not thinking about what I am saying I end up using the wrong tone of voice and in trouble. I try to slow down and actively think about the purpose of my conversations and to remind myself of the need for positive outcomes. Relationships are always more important than resources or things, so keeping this in mind helps me to stay focused and use a positive tone.

2. Try whispering.
Because people often mimic back tone of voice, and because emotion is contagious, I have found speaking softly by literally whispering works well. Whispering is less reactive because it doesn’t usually carry a strong threat. And often it gets the other person to listen more closely. If you don't want to whisper, just lowering your volume to soft helps too.

3.  Take a time out.
For me, losing control of my tone of voice is a symptom that my emotions are running high. And it is generally not a good idea to communicate with others when emotions are out of control. To get myself some time to gain control I will tell the other person I need to think about things and ask if we can talk more about it later. Then I can come back later using a reasonable and assertive communication style.

Hopefully as we practice being mindful, and using other strategies to keep our tone soft we can have greater success in our families. May your positive communication build great relationships!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gospel Solutions for Families

I recently noticed a series of videos on the Mormon Channel on YouTube called Gospel Solutions for Families. The series addresses relationship, communication, and gospel living issues faced by families and tries to offer practical solutions from experienced professionals. Each episode is about 20-30 minutes in length. Here is one of their episodes about how maintaining the marriage relationship helps benefit parenting. I think this discussion would benefit so many families. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August Isn't as Boring as You Think

August has always seemed kind of boring to me. It's incredibly hot, students have to head back to school, and there are no real holidays. Aside from the fun of back-to-school shopping (which is not all that fun with two high school girls who don't want their mom to accompany them anymore), August really lacks charisma.

In an effort to find something to look forward to I Googled holidays in August to see if there was anything I was overlooking. Here are three days in August you can have fun celebrating:

August 1: National Girlfriends Day
"National Girlfriends Day is recognized annually on August 1, as girlfriends get together around the United States and celebrate their special bond of friendship. Girlfriends can often be our sisters or mothers, classmates or co-workers."

I know it is past the first day of the month, but really any day is great for getting together with your favorite girlfriends. Celebrate belatedly just for fun!

August 6: International Friendship Day
"In 1998 Winnie the Pooh was named the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations, and in April 2011 the UN officially recognized July 30th as International Friendship Day; however, most countries celebrate it on the first Sunday of August!

"According to the Friendship Day declaration, we are invited to “observe this day in an appropriate manner, in accordance with the culture and other appropriate circumstances or customs of their local, national and regional communities, including through education and public awareness-raising activities."

Friendship Day is a great opportunity to teach kids how to be a good friend, to get together with friends you haven't seen for a while, or to be try and make a new friend.

August 26: National Dog Day
National Dog Day, which was instituted in 2005, serves to raise awareness of the thousands of dogs that need to be rescued. It encourages appreciation for family dogs and working dogs, such as bomb dogs, service dogs, rescue dogs and law enforcement dogs. Dogs are owned by many families in the US, however many other dogs are homeless and or have been abandoned.

Although I don't have any pets (too many allergies in our family), dogs would be my favorite. Maybe I will take my parent's dogs for a walk this day, to go and visit the puppies at the pet store. 

In addition to these, August 31 is the birthday of a favorite friend. Happy early birthday Raylene Brunner Gull!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Favorite Authors: Agatha Christie

I don't recall how old I was when I first read a mystery by Agatha Christie. But I do remember going through a phase of checking each book out of the Mesa Public Library. It was summer and I would ride my bike twice a week the three miles to the library to get a new batch of books. I remember loving Christie's books because it was almost impossible to guess who was the murderer.

Agatha Christie is a British author born in Devon in 1890. Unusual for the time, Agatha was homeschooled by her father. She loved to read and had a vivid imagination. She started writing in her later teen years, first experimenting with short stories. In 1910 her family moved to Cairo to benefit her mother's health. Cairo became the setting of several of her books later in life.

In 1912 Agatha met Archie Christie, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. Their courtship progressed quickly, but was interrupted by WWI. They were not able to marry until Christmas Eve of 1914. Just three days later Archie had to return to the war. It was not until after the war ended their married life truly began.

Agatha began writing more in earnest at this time. Her sister, Madge, bet her she could not write a good detective story. Additionally, Agatha found her day job at a local hospital to be extremely boring. When the hospital opened a dispensary, she took the exam to become an apothecary and changed jobs. This knowledge of medicine and poisons became invaluable to her writing. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which uses her knowledge as an apothecary, took a while to get published, but resulted in a publisher asking for five more manuscripts. Agatha had won her bet with Madge.

Agatha is actually known for a real-life personal mystery. In December 1925, possibly concussed, she disappeared. Her car was found abandoned the next morning. She was eventually discovered in a hotel in London suffering from amnesia. She did not recognize her husband when he came to get her. Her marriage began to fail after this and she never spoke of this time to others. By 1928 she and Archie were divorced. About five years later she met and married Max Mallowan, an archaeologist and language specialist.

Christie's career as an author was most prolific during her later years. She is known for several famous detective characters, including Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Poirot is a Belgian retired detective who is known for his methodical, precise work, as well as his mustache. Miss Jane Marple is an elderly, charming British woman who blends into the background, but has intuitive listening and observation skills.

I don't own all that many Agatha Christie books, since I read most of them from the library. I did notice, however, that Project Gutenberg has two of Agatha Christie's books available as free ebook downloads. You can find them here. I downloaded The Mysterious Affair at Styles to re-read (I could not remember the plot having read it so long ago) and enjoyed once again Christie's writing ability. If you have not read any of Agatha Christie's works, this is a great place to start!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ask the Editor: Doozy

I had no idea doozy and daisy had a linked background. Love learning new things! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Six Fun Activities to Celebrate Pioneer Day

Not living in Utah makes celebrating Pioneer Day a lot more difficult. No parades really to attend (unless the ward opts to do one). No decorations about town. No fireworks shows. About the only thing that happens is mention of it at church. :-(

So what's a mom to do to celebrate Pioneer Day under these circumstances? Well, here are six easy activities to try:

1. Cook Dinner Over a Fire
This does not have to be super difficult--no Dutch ovens required! You have permission to go the hot-dog-on-a-stick route if you want. Or you could take it up a notch to Hobo dinners (tinfoil dinners). Here is a link to 21 tinfoil recipes you could try. To make it extra pioneer-like, have your children gather sticks and pine cones to use to help with the fire.

If you are brave, you might try to make some of these more authentic pioneer recipes. The buttermilk donuts sound yummy!

2. Play a pioneer game
Pulling sticks is probably the most famous Mormon pioneer game and can easily be played with a broom handle. Sit face to face and foot to foot with your opponent. One person's hands are on the outside of the other's. Both players pull as hard as they can. The stronger player will remain seated, while the weaker (losing) player gets pulled upward.

Additionally, this article in the 1989 July Friend Magazine describes some fun games pioneers played. One easy game (NO equipment required!) is Shadow Tag. It is played like regular tag, except instead of touching the other person to tag, the It Person only has to step on the shadow of one of the other players.

3. Go for a Hike
Crossing the plains was a lot like hiking. Add some cowboy hats, bandanas, or boots and it becomes even a little more authentic. While hiking, sing some songs about pioneers, or talk about how hard it would have been to be outdoors all day and to not have enough water or supplies. Of course, if you live anywhere near a pioneer trail, be sure to use it!

4. Read About Pioneer Ancestors
There is something about hearing true stories of real pioneers that helps to bring the whole purpose of Pioneer Day into perspective. The sacrifice and endurance the pioneers experienced can help us to have a higher level of appreciation. If you are not sure if any of your ancestors were pioneers, log onto this website on and it can help you search. In lieu of that, there are plenty of pioneer stories in the Church magazines and other books (I Walked to Zion is a favorite of mine).

5. Learn About Farm Animals
Pioneers relied heavily on animals to live and thrive. Oxen and horses helped to pull wagons across the plains, but other animals were essential to living on the frontier and to farm. If you live near a petting zoo, have a neighbor with farm animals, or can attend a local rodeo, take time to learn and appreciate this aspect of pioneer life.

Alternatively, you might choose to learn about animals pioneers would have seen while crossing the plains (i.e., bison, rattlesnakes, bear, prairie dogs, etc.).

6. Make a Pioneer Day Craft
This website has some darling craft ideas for Pioneer Day. There are ideas for a wide variety of age ranges and skill levels to consider. I think I will let my daughters each choose one to do this upcoming week!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Three of My Favorite Pioneer Stories

Next week is Pioneer Day! I love hearing pioneer stories and sharing them with my family. This year Pioneer Day is on Monday, so that's the perfect time to get together and share the experiences of these amazing Saints. Here are three of my favorite:

1. From my husband's line: One day while crossing the plains Hans Olsen Magleby noticed a large leather valise half buried in the dust along the trail. He picked it up and laid it in his handcart. After he had made camp that night, Hans opened the bag and found it was full of gold! Hans gave the bag to the head of the handcart company, Captain Rowley, and said nothing about it. A group of men from the gold fields of California came into camp a few days later. They told how they had lost a bag and wondered if anyone had seen it. Hans immediately spoke up and said he had found it. Captain Rowley gave the bag to the men. Because Hans had been honest, the men gave him $5 and a bag of salt. The gold miners said that the valise contained about $8000 in gold. But for Hans, being honest was more important than money. (Adapted from The Life History of Hans Olsen Magleby [1958], 13)

2. From my own ancestral line:Alice Cherrington’s father was very sick with mountain fever, which added to the hardships of crossing the plains. When they reached Green River (Wyoming), there being so many of the family sick, Captain Smith decided to leave the family behind to give them a chance to heal. The station master had a good sized room which he let the family have to stay in while there.There were acres and acres of wild native currents grew there. Alice’s father gathered them, her mother stewed them, and the family ate so many of them the mountain fever was cured.

Still the family had few provisions--a small portion of flour and a ham bone. The station master was very good to the Cherringtons. One day he was going to a place called Wood River. Alice’s father had a watch he brought from England, which he asked the station master to take and trade or sell for provisions. The station master took the watch and brought the provisions her father sent for, but also the watch back. Within a few months the Cherringtons were able to continue their journey, making it safely to Salt Lake. (Adapted from Our Darton Ancestors).

3.  And this last one because I love the miracle that happens here: Ann Jewell Rowley and her family were converts of Church from England. A widow left with seven children, Sister Rowley decided to head to Zion. One of the more challenging parts of their journey was finding enough food to feed all of them. Sometimes Ann would see her children pull rawhide strips off the wagon to chew on because they were so hungry. Worried about their lack of supplies, she went to the Lord in prayer, seeking His guidance. Soon she remembered saving two, small, hard sea biscuits from their passage over the Atlantic. Sister Rowley wrote in her journal: “Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible.  I found the biscuits and put them in a Dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God's blessing. Then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness. That night my family had sufficient.” (Adapted from Furnace of Affliction)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: When We Don't See Eye to Eye

I picked this book up off of the clearance table at Seagull Book a six weeks ago, interested to see what it had to say about conflict. The topic fits right in with what I teach in my communication classes, and I was eager to read a more detailed LDS perspective on the subject. Plus, I have not felt the textbooks I teach from offer students enough tools to use in this area.

When We Don't See Eye to Eye turned out to be enlightening and helpful.

Pulsipher's writing style is easy to follow and engaging considering the nonfiction topic. He has several good personal stories he tells, as well as a great one I had never heard about from one of the apostles. I never found myself bored while reading--but I did need to take time to really digest. In fact, there are some parts of this book I want to re-read to make sure I've really grasped the concepts.

I particularly liked Pulsipher's cyclical model for conflict and his relation of it to gospel principles. Basically, he says there are three ways to respond to conflict: the first way is to give in (telestial response), the second is to try and strike back (terrestrial), and the third is to assertively, lovingly point out the problem (celestial). Pulsipher cites several stories from the New Testament showing Christ's utilization of assertive love, and provides great insight I was unaware of previously.

If you are a communication nerd like me, I highly recommend this book. There is a lot to learn. I would love to find a way to teach some of these concepts to my teens... maybe I will have to come up with a FHE lesson I can post here in the future.

Book Blurb:
"We may find ourselves at the center of the turbulence or watching from the sidelines. But regardless of the consistency, intensity, or proximity of anger and aggression in our lives, most of us share a common handicap—our greatest resource, the weapon of love, remains either sheathed or only timidly employed . . . Conflict and contention are among the more undesirable—and unavoidable—characteristics of human nature. While it is within our power to control our own actions and attitudes, how can we encourage those around us to break the cycle of anger and negativity? Learn to limit others’ negative power by wielding a weapon stronger than hate or greed or fear or malice—the weapon of love. Author J. David Pulsipher encourages readers to take a Christ-centered approach to negativity with a comprehensive look at how conflict arises, how human nature distorts conflict, and how to use love as a force against anger."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Favorite Authors: Emilie Loring

As a junior high student I read everything I got my hands on, especially historical romance books. After working my way through the recommendations of my English teacher, I asked the school librarian for ideas. I'll never forget him leading me to a shelf of books by author Emilie Loring, each of the hardback spines showing the wear of numerous readers. And after I read my first chosen Loring book (With this Ring--I read the whole book that day after school) I was so excited to return and get a new one the next day.

If you're not familiar with Emilie Loring's books, here is a good description: "Loring's books are highly formulaic and focus on the 'wholesome love' and independent spirit of women who still value homemaking and motherhood. There are no sexual situations in her novels, and most are tinged with action-adventure plots that stimulate the main characters' emotions and provide drama. . . Beyond romance, her books also explore a selection of topics including, but not limited to marriage, love, American patriotism, freedom, and optimism" (source: Wikipedia). Most of her books take place in the 1930s and 1940s, many during WWII.

About ten years ago I stumbled across an Emilie Loring book for sale at a garage sale. After re-reading it and re-discovering my enjoyment of Loring's works, I started collecting her books. Mostly I bought them on E-bay three at a time. I think now I own all but three or four. And I still re-read them on occasion. One of my favorites is The Trail of Conflict, which is actually available for Kindle for FREE on Amazon here.

As I have been collecting Loring books I have learned a little about this favorite author. She didn't start writing until she was in her 50s. During the height of her career she was selling more books than Agatha Christie and her publisher (Little, Brown Company) was running full page ads for her new releases in the New York Times. She died in her 90s, after publishing about 20 books. Her sons found parts of numerous manuscripts among her things after her death and worked with a ghostwriter to finish these additional novels.

If you are interested in reading an historical romance, try an Emilie Loring book. Or, if you are interested in learning more about this favorite author, check out Patti Bender's website and blog The Emilie Loring Collection.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

It's hard to be in high heat on a traditionally outdoors holiday. Still, we are able to have fun together as a family. Here's what we are doing today:

Hanging out our flag.
(Love this 2008 pic of my Kitty!)

Swimming at the pool.
Smoking ribs.
Making a flag cake with Sweetie Peach.

Lighting a few fireworks with neighbors.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!!


Thursday, June 29, 2017

5 Tips for Developing a Synergized Family

I wrote this article for Deseret News back in 2011. I thought I'd re-post it here as a backup. Enjoy!

In 2008 the New York Giants were not supposed to win the Super Bowl. The undefeated New England Patriots were considered the favorite team. But after the dust settled, the Giants were the first wild card team to take home the trophy. What happened to tip the scales in their favor? Some analysts feel the Giants were able to synergize their determination and talents to beat the odds.

In today’s society, families appear to face odds similar to the New York Giants. Drugs, pornography, and numerous other hurdles make raising children particularly difficult. How can parents lead their family to the same kind of success? Here are five practical ideas to help parents overcome the odds and develop a synergized family.

1. Increase Family Interaction: Communication is essential for family success because it enables family members to share thoughts and opinions, make decisions, solve problems, and develop interpersonal relationships. And the best way to heighten communication is to increase family interaction. Cutting back on individual activities in favor of family time, eating meals together as a family, having a family night, and scheduling regular family vacations are some of the best ways to increase interaction.

2. Establish a Common Goal: Unity in any group is usually based on the desire for a shared purpose. Whether it is called a goal, objective, purpose, or vision, parents can increase family synergy and unity by frequently discussing what it is they want their family to achieve in life. Making a family goal board, for example, is one way the Neujhar family has worked to instill greater unity and purpose.  (Find instructions for making your own family goal board here – link to

3. Recognize Interdependence: Family members are affected and influenced by the actions of each other. A successful, cohesive family teaches every member to be responsible for doing his or her part. And that failure for doing one’s part can adversely impact the rest of the family.

One of the best ways to help family members to recognize interdependence is to teach cooperation and teamwork by playing together. Jeff Spiers, father of four from Englewood, Colorado, expresses it this way: “My boys learn it on their baseball teams. When a throw is bad from short to first, the first baseman offers encouragement. In this way, the boys help coach each other and learn their reliance on each other.”

4. Work Together: Physical and mental efforts required to work together to accomplish something can be one of the more rewarding ways to synergize a family. As a child growing up I remember many family work projects that brought our family closer together. One of my favorites was an annual service project setting up luminarias on our street on Christmas Eve. The sense of accomplishment we felt as a family when all the candles were lit was incredibly rewarding.

5. Demonstrate Love and Compassion: Unity and synergy in the family rely heavily on individual members feeling as though they are understood and loved despite their personal flaws. Use kind words, caring tones, and a gentle touch. Look for opportunities to praise one another, even when behavior is not exemplary. And, if children are whiny and complaining, take time to actively listen to them and restate back their reasons for feeling frustrated. Acting with love, patience, and compassion toward each other builds the long-lasting positive atmosphere required for successful family life.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Home Again

It's good to be home again after my three week vacation to Amsterdam and England. If you were not aware, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary recently. As part of their celebration we went to Europe. It was a great experience! Here are some of the pictures of the trip.
There really are a lot of canals in Amsterdam. We stayed in Osdorp, on the west side of the city. This canal was right behind our hotel.

Here are the girls taking a selfie in Dam Square.

It was cool enough to enjoy hot chocolate. This darling café, Small Talk, was right near the museum district. We liked the café so much we went back a few days later for lunch with the whole family (see below).

One day we took a visit out to see these windmills. It was super windy and cold this day, but the tourist village where these windmills were was darling. So much to see and do all in one place. I wish the weather had been more conducive to staying longer.

Another one of our favorite activities in Amsterdam was renting bikes. The bike shop had a special one for my nephew Harrison, who is in a wheelchair. He LOVED that. We had three hours to go around the city. Vondelpark was beautiful. We also accidentally went through the red light district. Oops.

After a week in Amsterdam we flew to England. I served a mission in England, so it was amazing to get to go back. We stayed near the London temple and enjoyed the countryside of Southern England.
One of the things we did in England was to visit Redmarley, a small town where the some of the Spiers heritage is from. Near Redmarley is the Gadfield Elm Chapel, which is where John Spiers was converted and baptized by Wilford Woodruff.

Of course, we did lots of touristy things too. Above left shows us at Hever Castle. Center, at Buckingham. And right, at Harrod's to go shopping.
We also spent a day seeing the White Cliffs of Dover. The castle and the military tunnels there were really fun. And I think this was really the first time in my four times in England seeing the ocean.

After a week in London, we had to fly back to Amsterdam to catch our flight back to the US. In total we had four flights to get us home. The jet lag was not fun, but I think my sleep schedule is finally back on track. This really was a trip of a lifetime, especially for my girls. Such an amazing visit! I can't wait to go back some day!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ask the Editor, Okay?

It's been a while since I posted an Ask the Editor video. And since I am still out of town, I thought this would be an easy (but enjoyable) post to tide you over. Have fun learning about the etymology of word 'okay/OK'!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

FHE: Christlike Attributes #3

Note: This month I am highlighting some of the Christlike Attributes lessons from my book MTC at Home. Although this book is primarily designed to help prepare future missionaries for service, the lessons--all based on Preach My Gospel (PMG)--work really well for FHE. Earlier lessons can be seen here. Want to receive notification of future lessons to be posted in this series? Like my Facebook page.

Christlike Attribute #3: Charity and Love

Purpose: To illustrate the importance of developing charity and love for all.

Scripture: “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Hymns: “Have I Done Any Good” (Hymns no. 223), “As I Have Loved You” (Hymns no. 308)

PMG Quote: “When you are filled with charity, you obey God’s commandments and do all you can to serve others and help them receive the restored gospel” (p. 118).

Key Term: Charity – “The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ” (BD).

Lesson: The “first and great commandment” is to love God, while loving our neighbor is the second (see Matt 22:36-39). From these commandments it is clear the importance of developing love and charity is one of the highest priorities of life on earth. In fact, the prophet Moroni taught that without charity we “are nothing” (see Moroni 7:46).

We can gain love for God and charity for mankind through prayer and service to others. Latter-day prophet George Albert Smith was born to a family devoted to loving God and others. From his youth he was an extraordinary example of love and charity. President J. Reuben Clark, said of President Smith: “His real name was Love. … He gave his love to everyone he met.”[1] Once, George A. arrived at home in winter without his coat. His wife, noticing he was chilled and shivering, asked him why he did not wear his coat, only to learn he had given it to a man in need.

“Let us evidence by our conduct,” President George A. Smith encouraged, “By our gentleness, by our love, by our faith, that we do keep that great commandment that the Savior said was like unto the first great commandment, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’”[2]

Exercises: Prayerfully select one or more of the following exercises to supplement the lesson.

Ñ Teach: Explain virtue in your own words why it is important to pray for and develop charity.

˜ Testify: Describe a personal experience or feelings you have about the importance of loving and serving others.

? Invite: Practice inviting those you teach to make commitments related to exercising charity (i.e., giving service, expressing love, etc.).

® Role Play: Use the following question to role play a gospel discussion with a friend or family member. “What are some good ways to show love to strangers?” 

Open Your Mouth: In the upcoming week, start a gospel conversation with someone by asking them, “How would you define virtue?” Probe to learn what specific behaviors they feel are necessary to lead a virtuous life.

Activities: Arrange a simple service project for FHE. Help weed a neighbor’s yard, take a treat to someone new, write a letter to a missionary, or visit someone who is ill or lonely.
Additional Resources: 1. Visit the website for LDS Charities ( and read the page describing “Why We Help”. Watch a few of the short videos on Mormon Channel about service given through LDS Charities. 2. President Monson’s speech in the 2010 General Relief Society meeting, “Charity Never Faileth”, discusses the importance of not judging others. 3. “The Coat: A Story of Charity” is a children’s story taken from the life of Heber J. Grant. A beautiful cartoon version (2:08 min.) of the story can be viewed on

[1] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, 2010, 11
[2] In Conference Report, Apr. 1949, 10

Friday, June 2, 2017

Book Review: The Devil in Beauty

One of my favorite authors, Heidi Ashworth, has released a new book! And she is braving new territory in this work, The Devil in Beauty: A Lord Trevelin Mystery. If you are not familiar with Heidi's work, she is known for writing regency romance. Her writing style is more period authentic than modern (I truly envy her extensive vocabulary); more Austen or Heyer than the vast majority of other contemporary authors writing regency. The Devil in Beauty is still a regency era story, but is mystery instead of romance.

I have to admit it had been a while since I had read mystery. I grew up loving Agatha Christie and some other well known mystery writers, but for the past ten years have not kept up on the genre. So I am pleased to report I really enjoyed the change of pace. Although it was definitely darker than what I have been reading, it was not overly scary or gratuitously morbid. And I was really excited to see Heidi is already working on another Lord Trevelin book. I am hoping she has it well under way, because I am interested to see what happens next with the main character, Lord Trevelin.

Lord Trevelin, who's mouth is scarred after a duel over a married woman, has had his reputation damaged in the eyes of the ton. However, the murder of a neighbor's son results in several members of the (everlastingly hypocritical) ton asking Trevelin to look into the matter. He does so, aided by Rey, a short of stature Spaniard visiting London. Trevelin and Rey methodically interview a number of key witnesses, gradually discovering a gruesome scheme afoot.

I particularly enjoyed Trevelin's character. He has many strengths, but his flaws offer many layers of insight into his personality. His flashbacks to his injury and the devastation he feels at the loss of a close friend are particularly well written. Additionally, the up and down relationship with Rey was a nice addition to the overall plot (I would like to see Rey in the next book too, as he almost serves as the Watson to Trevelin's Holmes).

Heidi's years of research into regency era society shine in this book. She knows her stuff and gives fascinating glimpses into Newgate prison (so sad) and a workhouse of the day. Without giving away too much of the plot, I also enjoyed the motive/back story of the murderer. Very interesting and fun to read.

If you are looking for a great summer read, I highly recommend The Devil in Beauty. And right now it is only $4.99 on Amazon -- a great deal!

Book Blurb: "Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime." 

Julian "Trev" Silvester, the Marquis of Trevelin, once had everything a gentleman could want--fortune, good looks, and enough charm to seduce the beautiful young ladies of the ton.But after a duel with a jealous duke leaves him disfigured, Trev is ostracized by those who once celebrated him. Though his life is irrevocably changed, Trev is still loyal to his friends. When Willy Gilbert is accused of murder and Lady Vawdrey's diamond necklace is stolen, he jumps at the chance to help them.

As the two cases merge, however, Trev finds an unlikely ally in Miss Desdemona Woodmansey. She's the only young lady who doesn't seem put off by his scar and the scandal of the duel. But as their investigation into the murder reveals just how treacherous the mask of polite society can be, both Trev and Desdemona are placed in grave danger. Trev has already lived through the disgrace of a scandal, but can he survive a murderer who will do anything to protect a sinister secret?

Other books by Heidi Ashworth, all of which are linked here:
Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
Miss Delacourt Has Her Day
Lord Haversham Takes Command
Lady Crenshaw's Christmas
O'er the River Liffey

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Benedictine Mesa: Congrats Grads!

A year ago this fall I started teaching Communication Law at Benedictine University in Mesa, which is an extension of the main campus in Illinois. Several of my students were seniors in that 300 level class. They are part of the first graduating class of the campus, as shown in this fun graduation video. I love teaching and it is exciting to see these great students start out in life. I can't wait to see all they accomplish!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Get Your Kids to Listen

I have been blessed with three amazing kids. They are certainly not perfect, but they do a great job in school, at home, and at church. There are times I have to repeat myself because they are distracted, or because they may not like what I am asking, but getting them to listen and follow through works better with a few tips and tricks. Maybe they will work for you, too.

1. Limit What You Say

Sometimes as a mom I find myself getting into long diatribes or lectures explaining over and over again why something needs to be done. If there is a chore or activity that needs to happen on a regular basis, this can be an easy trap for parents to fall into. Kids know what is needed and will tune out parents who go on and on. Instead of diving into another full on explanation of what needs to be done, just give one reminder word or phrase. For example, instead of saying, "It's time for scripture study. Get in here now so we don't make your brother late for school," just say, "Scripture time!"

2. Explain the Consequences

Because the human brain is not fully developed until the early 20's, often kids do not foresee consequences of their actions. As the parent, explaining what can happen as a result of poor behavior can help kids to listen--especially if you have firsthand experience. For even littler kids, you may need to show consequences. For example, when my oldest repeatedly climbed up on the kitchen table (despite my repeated, "No!"), I gave up talking and put him in the play pen (which he disliked) to show him a consequence. After five or six times of being removed from the table and placed straight into the play pen, he stopped his climbing.

3. Let Them Be Part of the Decision

Agency is such an important part of growing up. If you take away too much of it, kids will sneak and cheat. The better way is to let you kids participate in some of the decision process. My middle child is getting older and we are needing to let her have some more freedoms. Now that school is out she wants to stay out late nearly every night of the week, which really does not work for me or her dad. We had a discussion with her explaining how her late hours was impacting us as parents. After listening to her side of things, we have set new summer guidelines, which she has supported. Involving her has helped get her cooperation.

4. Name Feelings

When kids are crying or throwing a tantrum they are trying to draw attention to their needs. I have found when I take the time to listen and state back what is being expressed, my kids calm down faster. For example, when my youngest complains to me, crying, about not getting a turn on the iPad, it is easy to fall into the trap of telling her not to cry or to yell at the sibling. But over the years I have learned it is better to say, "You seem sad and frustrated," and then follow up with, "What would you like to do?" This way they feel heard and have a choice about what to do about their feelings.

5. Eye Contact

Sometimes I act pretty distracted as a mom, which makes my kids think they can slide things by me pretty easily. However, when I can get their full attention--pause the movie, put down the phone, turn down the music--and speak to them with direct eye contact, then I get better results. At times a written list or note may have to suffice, but eye contact works well.