Sunday, March 30, 2008

Prayer - 3 Nephi 19:14-18

14 And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.
16 And it came to pass that he spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.
17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.
18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 19:14 - 18)

The disciples are encircled by fire as angels minister to them. As this is happening, Jesus also comes and stands in the midst of them and ministers to them. The last few verses appear to show that Jesus is building up His disciples. The experiences in the preceding verses appear to apply to only the 12 disciples of Jesus and not the masses as a whole.

Only after the disciples have been baptized with water and fire, and ministered to by angels and the Savior Himself, does Jesus turn to the multitude and speak to them.
Jesus commands the multitude to kneel and begin praying. The people kneel down and begin to pray to Jesus. Typically, we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, but in this instance, the people are praying directly to Jesus. Why? I think that the answer can be found in John 9:5 where it states, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When Jesus is present it is appropriate to pray to Him directly. Also in verse 22 Jesus states, “Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.”

We should direct our prayers to our Father in Heaven. Elder Bruce R. McConkie was very plain on this subject when he said, “Another peril is that those so involved often begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this connection a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence:

Because the Savior is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his Son.

This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only.”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Because God couldn't be everywhere...

Because God can’t be everywhere…

He created women. Even though He can only be in one physical location at any given time, His love, and influence can be felt everywhere. I often feel His love when I look into the eyes of my wife. In her eyes I see a love that fills the vastness of space and chases away any doubts or fears I harbor in a troubled world, and I am left dumbfounded as to why I should deserve it. She spends her strength, time, and energy giving of herself to those around her.

It can be said that most relationships are based on give and take. Having broken both of my elbows less than two weeks ago, and having become as dependent as a one year old for my basic needs, that concept is true in my life. At the moment, my wife gives and I take. That thought on give and take probably describes most of my marriage, but it is greatly magnified right now.

I eat because she feeds me. I wear clothes because she puts them on me. I would smell much worse than I do, except for the fact she bathes me. There are other hygiene related issues that take place because of her.

The day of my injury I was draining our pool, as the water level receded, I power-washed the pool walls. Our pool has a diving board and the deep end is ten feet deep. With about 5 inches of water left at the bottom, I walked into the deep end to power-spray the back wall. Walking down the steep decline I stumbled. Despite trying to slow down, my speed increased until I made contact with the far wall. Smacking the far wall my body exploded in pain and crumbled into a fetal position in 5 inches of water.

Here’s one of the miracles that occurred. Wendy stood there when it happened. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She speaks ASL, not because she or anyone in her family is deaf, she just thought that it would have value to be able to do so.

Anyway, she works one Saturday a month as an interpreter at the LDS Mesa temple. It was a slow Saturday without much for her to do. Almost always in these situations, she will stick around and go through the ASL endowment session. This time she didn’t. This time she came home, and accordingly got me the help I needed immediately.

For the week I spent in the hospital she always stayed by my side. Briefly she would go home to check on the boys, but always quickly returned. She slept in my hospital room on a pull out couch that wasn’t quite long enough to stretch out on, so she slept in the fetal position for the short moments when she could actually drift off to sleep.

Due to the accident, I was put on several different medications; one is to lower my blood pressure. We subsequently learned that one of the possible side affects of this medicine is that it induces nightmares and anxiety attacks.

I’m not sure how well it decreases my blood pressure, but the side affects work just fine… The first day I took the medicine I went to bed about midnight. I woke up about an hour later drenched in sweat. I sleep with a CPAP machine (a mask that goes over my nose as I sleep that keeps me breathing.) When I woke up it felt like it was full of water as well. I thought that I was drowning and I started to panic.

With my right arm, the slightly better one, I ripped off my mask and screamed for Wendy. She materialized at my bedside and immediately began to stroke my face with her hand to calm me down. She then walked up and down the hospital hallway with me as I tried to calm down from my irrational delusions.

I am not typically subject to anxiety attacks, but I now have a lot more compassion for those that are. I battled anxiety attacks for a few days after taking the meds. Wendy, being at my side through all of it, was the calming influence that always brought me back to reality.

Now when I go to sleep she places my laptop next to the bed and plays church hymns from my i-tunes account. It helps me go to sleep with peaceful thoughts. However, what grounds me in the middle of the night when I wake up is knowing that she is mere inches away from me. She makes me feel safe with her presence. She is the calm in the storm of life swirling around. She gives meaning to the following words from James Allen’s book, As a Man Thinketh:

“Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought. As he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of him and rely upon him. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.

The strong calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold - yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life - a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm.”

When I was 26 my oldest brother asked me to go to a dance with him. It was a dance for the older single adults. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, but after much persuasion I finally agreed to do this favor for him. The dance was at some person’s home. After paying the entry fee, I turned to go inside and got run into by a pretty girl. We both stammered our apologies for not looking where we walked and headed in different directions. I felt a moment’s guilt for thinking that was the girl I wanted to spend the evening with, but I was pretty sure that she had to be the homeowner’s daughter because she clearly wasn’t old enough to be at this event.

As we stood in the living room I gave my brother several better options of what we could be doing that evening. Just then, I felt a tap on my shoulder and knew that one of the older women wanted to dance. I slowly turned hoping for the best, and there stood the teenager, as I had come to think of her. She asked if I wanted to dance, and I was curious if her mom would mind. Throwing caution to the wind I accepted and we started dancing. Within two minutes I learned that the teenager had previously been married for nine years and had three children. I started doing some quick math in my head, and came to the conclusion that she must be a bit older than I had guessed.

At that moment, resisting the urge to run, was the best decision I ever made. We talked for the rest of the evening and I quickly became quite enamored with her. 17 years later, she is still my best friend and the love of my life. On the flip side, she also came to the dance unwillingly, having been dragged there by one of her friends. Her friend told her that she needed to meet some older, more established men, and that she would be looking for doctors and lawyers, or CPA’s. Somehow my wife resisted the urge to run when she discovered that I was only a student. Even now, she just smiles when I tell people how she robbed the cradle and that I’m her trophy husband.

President Hinckley once stated, “Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work announced complete and good.”

Joseph F. Smith stated, “The love of a true mother comes near to being like the love of God. No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. … I have felt sometimes, how could even the Father love his children more than my mother loved her children? It was life to me; it was strength; it was encouragement; it was love that begat love or liking in myself. I knew she loved me with all her heart.”

The importance of women can not be overstated. When the Savior Himself was resurrected to whom did he appear first? His apostles? No. I would think that His first stop would’ve been to see His Father, but it wasn’t. The first person He visited was Mary.

Likewise, when I am resurrected some day, Wendy will be the first person I go looking for. She is my rock and my compass. She knows my strengths and likewise my weaknesses and stands by my side. Any success I achieve in life is in large part due to her. She has always supported me in whatever task I choose to undertake.

Unfortunately, I can not adequately articulate what she means to me. Mere words lack the ability to express my feelings.

Wendy, I will love you through the eternities and always wonder what I did to deserve someone as wonderful as you to be part of my life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Warning - Graphic Image

A word of advice and counsel. Don't mess up your elbow. I have torn the ACL in my left knee, the meniscus in my right knee. I have broken the vertebra in my back...twice. I have broken my left hand, and even taken the nose of my surfboard in my right eye in a horrific accident so bad that now my right pupil doesn't dilate.

Every time I have done something like this, I have always thought it was the most painful thing I have ever done to myself

If I sit back and analyze each situation based on how much pain meds I needed to use afterwards to cope, my elbow injury is definitely the most painful thing I have ever done.

As an example, the second time I broke my back, three compression fractures, I took pain meds for three days and then stopped.

I broke both of my elbows a week and a half ago. The right elbow is just a hairline fracture, but the left elbow needed to be reconstructed with a metal radial ball, pins, and plates to hold everything together.

I didn't take all of my pain meds yesterday because I want to cut back on them as quickly as possible. I hardly slept last night because of the pain.

On the bright side of things, with heavy therapy the left arm is improving. This morning I was actually able to touch my nose with my left thumb. I was quite excited when I did it, and have continued doing so all morning just to make sure I can.

My next big challenge will be to turn my left hand palm side up. Many friends and family members have told me that I am in their prayers. Thank you. Through this ordeal I have felt the reassuring hand of the Lord several times. I'll share some of those experiences soon.

Here's my left elbow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Sky was Blue

The sky was blue and the pool water was green. Dan was empting our pool to kill the algae that was growing and getting the pool ready for summer usage. He had been working all morning and was walking down the incline from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end of the pool when he lost his balance and careened with a great deal of force into the far wall of the pool. He has shattered his left elbow, has a hairline fracture in the right elbow and injured his knee.
The doctors were able to rebuild the shattered elbow, cast the right elbow and will rehab the knee.
Dan would like each of his readers to know how much he appreciated their coming to his blog and to let you know that he will be bloging again as soon as he can. One of us will be his typists and will get him back to writing as soon as we can.

Wendy Olsen

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A light in the darkness 3 Nephi 18: 15-16

15 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.
16 And as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church, among my people who do repent and are baptized in my name. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 18:15 - 16)

It is imperative that we constantly rely on the Lord for our strength. Satan will stay as close by us as we let him, always looking for a way to sneak into our lives and to get us to act foolishly. If we are not vigilant in our efforts to stay close to the Lord, we can be led away captive by our adversary. I see that as giving away a portion of my agency to my enemy. If I am captive, I no longer have the freedom to choose what I will do. I am subject to the whims of someone else.

We are to pray as Jesus has taught us. We are to repent and be baptized in His name. He is the light that shines brightly in an ever increasingly dark world. He is like a lighthouse on a stormy night. Following His light will always bring us safely home.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Are there any sick among you? 3 Nephi 17: 4-10

4 But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.
5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
8 For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
9 And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
10 And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 17:4 - 10)

The people were sad when Jesus said that he needed to leave. Sensing their needs, and having compassion on them, he asked if they had any sick among them, and that he would heal them.

I like how he lists several possible illnesses that they might have, and then leaves open the caveat, “or that are afflicted in any manner?” Who isn’t carrying at one point or another in their life some burden that they would like to get rid of, where the burden is either physical or spiritual?

He heals all maladies, including broken hearts, emotional distresses, spiritual weaknesses and doubts, as well as the obvious physical limitations of being blind or lame.

It is interesting that he notes that their faith is sufficient for Him to heal them. The faith of the one being healed is an integral component of the process. Point being, Jesus has the power to heal everyone, but we need to develop the faith sufficient to make His power efficacious in our lives.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Seek to know 3 Nephi 17:1-3

1 BEHOLD, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand.
2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 17:1 - 3)

Jesus gives a brief discussion on prayer, or rather, how to obtain an understanding of spiritual things. I think that it is significant that Jesus doesn’t tell the people to accept what He is saying simply because He said it. He wants them to understand what He has taught, and that the way for that to happen is for the people to “think” for themselves. There is no blind loyalty being requested here. The people are to study His words out for themselves. Then they are to go to the giver of all truth, Heavenly Father, and ask for His help in understanding what they have been taught.

If I am going to seek spiritual learning I need to prepare my mind and my heart to communicate with the Holy Ghost. That can be accomplished through prayer, fasting, and meditation.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Colin's E-mail 3-6-08

Yup, Sorry to say it, but my p-day moved again this week. Unfortunately, I didnt get any emails again but for sure I will next week. My p-day should permanently be on fridays, but just for today, it had to switch.

What an eventful week! I cant beleive all the stuff that happened this week, Ill do my best to tell you everything before my time is up here.

Saturday I had 4 baptisms set up in my last area so I got permission from President Hoggan to go watch them. There were 3 little girls, 2 of them twins whos parents are members that were reactivated recently and the other who is the daughter of a woman that wants to be baptized but has a problem with marriage that probably wont be resolved soon. The othr was supposd to be Euvira, a woman that me and Elder Corob found and stuggled to get baptized. When I got to the chapel that night, Euvira wasnt there but sitting down waiting to be baptized was Eliana, a woman who has been wanting to be baptized for 2 years but who has been living with her paralized, vegetable husband. He died a few weeks ago, enabling her to finally be baptized. She wasnt sure if sh was ready yet when I left an I didnt know if I would ever be able to see her get baptizd. That night was really special and really spiritual for me to be able to see her enter into the baptismal font after waiting so long. There we so many people at the baptism that we had to hold the opening meeting in the sacrament room and do the baptisms seperately to be able to fit everyone in the room with the font to watch. It was a great night.
This week has been really hectic in the office. The transfer meeting was yesterday so preparing everything for the meeting made vrything rush. Added on top of all that, The mission baptized a huge numbr of people this last week and all the baptismal documents are coming in to me to be entered in the computer and sent to church headquarters. Its a lot of work an I hope I can get my way out of the pile of papers on my desk that seems to be growing more every day.
It has been quite interesting working here in the office with the other staff. I STILL havent actually worked with my companion, Elder Rufino. I have been out every night with either the APs or the Zone Leader working in my area. Maybe this week we will be able to work together one night.
Elder Fernando, my 2nd comp, went home this week. It was sad to see him go. Everyone lovd him so much. The new AP isnt announced until the tensfer meeting so everyone keeps guessing until then. It was funny because everyone thought it was me since I was called into the office a week early to be trained. I keep getting people asking me things like "Hey, how was the call with the President to be the new AP?" Some people told me thy were surprised to see me take the place as secretary.
Every day, I learn that I have more and more responsibilities than I thought. Yesterday at the transfer meeting with about half the missionaries in the mission, I was announced as the new secretary and I had to announce the transfers. It was hard because its kinda like an improv stand up act that you have to keep everyone excited, laughing, and clapping... It went pretty well though and I had the privilege to announce Casey Taylor who is my good friend from school that got into the field yesterday.
This morning I had to go to the Mission Council which is a meeting with the President, the APs and all the Zone leaders in the whole mission, and tell the zone leaders what they can be doing differently to help the work run a little more smoothly. Its pretty nerve racking to have to stand up in front of all the best elders in the mission and tell them what they can be doing better, but it went pretty well. After Im done here, I will be returning to the meeting and eating lunch with them all too.
Like I said, the staff is pretty nicely treated with some things other elders dont get like AC and catered lunches and other nice bonuses. Recently we went to Pizza Hut again for all-you-can-eat. I didnt manage to get 17 slices down like last time but I still ate 12. I think I will be gaining a lot of weight in this area, eating so much and sitting down all day.
Hey dad, I forgot to tell you last week, The man that fixed the ipod was reactivatd before I left Entroncamento and recieved a calling in the ward 2 weeks ago. Elder Reynolds, a great friend of mine here on the mission, finished this week and went home. He got home yesterday with a package from me to everyone. I wrote a note inside explain what goes to who. He should be calling you soon to see when he can get it over to you.
Well I love you all and Ill talk to you next week (Friday this time). Tchau!

Elder Childs

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Lord's Covenant People - 3 Nephi 16:8-15

8 But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;
9 And because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the house of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the house of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—
10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 16:8 - 10)

My comments:
The gospel will be brought to the Gentiles. The Lord will be merciful to them. The house of Israel will be smitten, afflicted, and slain. We’ve seen that happen through the ages. Israel only became a country again recognized by the Untied States and the United Nations in May of 1948. Prior to that they suffered through the holocaust where millions were brutally treated and put to death in concentration camps set up by the Nazi Regime.

On the very day that Israel gained its independence, May 14th, it was attacked by several Arab nations including: Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. That war lasted a little over a year with Egypt signing a peace treaty in February 1949, and Lebanon, Jordan and Syria signed one in July of 1949.

All that one has to do to realize that part of the world is still a powder keg, with a very short fuse, is to turn on the evening news, or pick up a newspaper.

If the Gentiles turn their backs on the light and truth they have received through the gospel, then the fullness of the gospel will be taken from them as well.
On a slightly unrelated side note…

If you want to read a good historical fiction novel dealing with the holocaust, and faith, and hope, I strongly recommend The Strength to Endure by Tristi Pinkston. From her website, “Strength To Endure by Tristi Pinkston
Anneliese Klein was just a small girl when Hitler came into power in her home country of Germany. Fear and uncertainty were as much as part of her childhood as dolls and tea parties. As she grew up, the war crept even closer to home, taking first her two brothers and then her father. Eventually it claims the man she loves. How will she survive these horrors? And what will become of her unborn child?

A historically rich tale, Strength To Endure expertly portrays the consequences of war and the ability of the human spirit to conquer all.”

I finished the book last night, and it was amazing. Tristi, if you see this, you’ll have to ask me about the time that I corrected my French professor’s French in his class. When I read a very similar experience in your book, I couldn’t stop laughing. The irony is that my professor was from Paris.

11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.
12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.
14 And I will not suffer my people, who are of the house of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.
15 But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O house of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O house of Israel.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 16:11 - 15)

Though much of the world may despise Israel, the Lord will not forget His ancient covenant people. The house of Israel will come to know the fullness of the gospel. Gentiles and Israelites alike that accept the message of the gospel into their lives will be gathered together.

The Gentiles that accept the gospel will not be trodden down at the last day. These verses should give us all pause to consider how we view Israel and how we view the Lord’s covenant people. Clearly, we don’t want to be on the wrong side.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

ANWA Part 2

ANWA Part 2:
The second presentation I went to was led by Jon Lewis. His impressive bio states in part, “Jon (J.S.) Lewis and Derek Benz are co-authors of Scholastic, Inc.'s GREY GRIFFINS, a YA fantasy series that has captivated readers with fast-paced tales steeped in archaeology, linguistics, mythology, and cosmology. Since publication of their first book in Spring 2006, the authors have teamed with legendary game developers, WizKids® to produce a ground breaking Trading Card Game based a game played by the characters in their books. They are also working with Hollywood Executive Producer, Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow) on a film property based on their exciting series. The authors are also in development on a series of graphic novels based on their books, as well as an animated series. Both authors grew up in the heartland of America, and currently reside with their families in a Phoenix suburb.”

Jon geared his remarks to those that want to make a living by being a writer. He said, “Writing is a business, not an art.” He stressed the need to understand trends in books, and commented that marketing was as important as writing. When Jon started writing, he sent out 300 queries and got back 3 that wanted to represent him. He encouraged us to never pay for an agent’s services and to stick with agents based in NY. Jon is not an advocate of self-publishing.

In his books, he creates character sheets that describe his characters. The sheet will contain such pertinent information as the characters height, weight, hair color, skills, weaknesses, etc. before he writes the story.

He pointed out the importance of starting your story strong. If the agent or publisher isn’t interested quickly, the manuscript will land in the slush pile. He recommended that we obtain a copy of The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman.

Jon explained that we should make, “outrageous statements in Query Letters to grab the reader’s attention immediately.” He stated that the synopsis of the book needs to be as exciting as the book itself.

Jon gave us helpful hints for book signings to get to know the book buyers at the stores. “At every store, take everyone’s business cards and send them a thank you note later.”

Finally, Jon encouraged us to have a presence on the web.

Kathryn Jenkins, the Managing Editor for Covenant Communications, was the keynote speaker and addressed us after lunch. She addressed the concept of “Line upon Line,” which is a play on words between the process of writing and scriptures found in Isaiah and 2nd Nephi. She walked over to a piano and played the first line to, If You Could Hie to Kolob, an excellent song by the way.

She then explained that the 1st line of writing was to understand that writing is a gift from God.

Kathryn then walked back to the piano and played the 2nd line from If You Could Hie to Kolob. She asserted that the 2nd line for us to learn is that “Every life has lines. Some lines are expected, and some aren’t. Life is the stuff of fiction.”

The 3rd line she stated is, Imagination. How we see life in a unique way. “Sad is the child that never had an imaginary friend,” she counseled.

The 4th line is Process, the process that we use to put our imagination into words. She said that we needed to read a lot. She asked us to develop a process that works for us. She was very emphatic that we need to write every day. “If you want to write, work at it,” she taught.

5th – Dare to take risks. Write what hurts. Dare to write beyond the lines.

And finally, 6th – Love what you write.

She then went back to the piano and played a beautiful rendition of If You Could Hie to Kolob from start to end. She was gracious in her encouragement, and believed that if we wanted to write, that we could.

As a final note, if you’re ever sitting down with her, ask her about the trip she made to Disneyland with her friend Peggy.

The next presenter that I was privileged to listen to was Heather Madder. I thought that she was going to speak about Marketing, but since Jon had already covered that in his discussion about writing YA books, I was pleased that she spent a fair amount of time going in a different direction.

Her bio states: “Heather Madder is the author of Walking on the Ceiling: The Practice of Overcoming Barriers and Creating a Life of Freedom, along with several audio CDs.
She was the creator and co-host of the internet radio show, "On the High Road" that provided spiritual solutions for everyday problems weekly to 100,000 listeners worldwide. She has also been a regular guest and contributor to various other stations.

Heather's work is dedicated to the spread of truth, however, the majority of her time is spent figuring out what to make for dinner and getting her children to do their chores. Her favorite hobbies are biking in the early mornings, staring at her handsome husband, and talking about how her children are the most awe-inspiring people on the planet.”

Seriously Heather, if you know how to get your children to do their chores, any tips you want to throw my way would be greatly appreciated.

She explained that our limitations as a writer are self-imposed. She had us write: I am a writer because… and then we had to fill in the blanks. She then discussed stumbling blocks we sometimes run into as writers. Responses included lack of time, inability to be analytical at work and then flip the switch to be creative at home, to the typical doubts and fears of, “What if my writing isn’t good enough?”

Speaking of spiritual genetics, Heather commented, “God is a creator, as his daughter or son, then so am we.”

She asked us what we hoped to accomplish with our writing. Reponses were varied from, “I want to offer hope to those that don’t have any,” to, “I want to entertain through writing.” She said that all reasons to write good material was a positive thing. She said that our stumbling blocks, like doubts and fears about our abilities are lies whispered into our ears by the adversary.

She continued with, “For every lie that creates suffering and bondage, there is an opposite truth that creates peace and hope.”

Heather was very motivational and sure that everyone in class, like me, left her discussion feeling better about our desire to put pen to paper, or fingers on a keyboard as the case may be.

Before I discuss the last presentation I went to, I need to comment that Kerry Blair was also a presenter. I was unable to attend her class, but I did hear others speak very positively about her presentation, and I hope to have the chance to hear from her some time in the future. On her website she discussed scents and oils that Tristi Pinkston sells. She described them as, “Chocolate for the skin.” That is amazing imagery, and I have no doubt that she is a fantastic writer and presenter.

The last discussion of the day that I went to was “The Slush Pile is for Sissies,” by Kathryn Jenkins. As mentioned earlier, she is the Managing Editor of Covenant Communications. She is warm, funny, and very engaging as she speaks. She gave us several helpful hints to avoid the slush piles of publishers.
1. Know who your publisher is, and what they are looking for. She shared how some obvious didn’t understand that Covenant Communications was an LDS publisher, and they sent in rather un-LDS material.
2. Understand what the submission guidelines are and then follow them.
3. Know how soon the publisher responds. There are fewer faster ways to get into the slush pile, than by incessantly hounding a publisher about whether or not they have looked at your manuscript.
4. The submissions editor has about 10-15 minutes to look at your manuscript. It needs to really want to make them read more from the get go. Otherwise, into the slush pile it goes.
5. For electronically submitted manuscripts, we need to know what formats the publisher uses. If they can’t open our file, it doesn’t matter how good it is.
6. Write an effective Cover Letter. Tell why your book is first or best. Take as much time on the cover letter as you would on a chapter. If you’re in a writing group, let others read your cover letter before you submit it.
7. Number your pages.
8. If sent electronically, send it all in one file.
9. Write something fresh and new.
10. End each chapter with a hook that forces the reader to want to start the next chapter.
11. Write compelling characters.
12. Don’t reuse the same adverb too frequently. It frequently can become a frequent irritant if you do…
13. If you are using a regional dialect, use it sparingly.
14. Control your exclamation points! About one for every one hundred thousand words is probably sufficient.

She then discussed with us how to write a better book. “Broaden your horizons. Experience different aspects of life, and pay attention to the life that is going on around you,” she said.

Kathryn explained the importance of writing exercises. “Some times you need to write without the expectation of getting published.” She then went through several writing exercises with us. She gave us a starter sentence of, “As soon as he walked into the room he knew that his life was changed forever.” We then had to finish that thought. I wrote, “He almost heard a wicked witch cackle, ‘You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.’ Mold covered the walls in a hideous display…” That’s as far as I got before it was time to go on to the next writing exercise.

She gave us scenes that we needed to write including writing about coming to this conference from the perspective of our briefcase or purse. Those responses were all very humorous.

The ANWA Writers’ Conference was a wonderful experience. My thanks to all those that took of their time, tremendous talent, and patience to guide and instruct us. I was richly blessed by attending. I made new friends, and am looking forward already to attending next year’s conference.

Come unto Christ

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has created a new website to share our views and beliefs of Him. The website can be found here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


ANWA Writers’ Conference – Line upon line

ANWA, which stands for American Night Writers Association, held their annual writers’ conference in Gilbert, AZ on Saturday March 1st.

ANWA is a LDS based writing organization for women. Thankfully for me, the conference was open to everyone, and I was relieved to see three other men besides myself attend, though even if I had to be the only man in a sea of women, it would've been worth it. Initially I felt a bit like a round peg trying to hide in a square hole, but all of the sisters there were very friendly, and not in the least bit dismayed by my presence. Quite to the contrary, every sister that I sat next to went out of her way to engage me in conversation as we shared our joy of writing with each other.

The first class that I attended was about Finding Your Voice, the presenter was Tristi Pinkston. Tristi is way cool. She is eloquent, funny, sincere, and inspirational, and she has the unique ability to be all of those things at the same time. Some of my notes from her class include:

A writer’s voice is not characters or style alone. It is your thumbprint that distinguishes your writing as truly yours. It is the words I choose to use; how I choose to string words together in sentences, the message that I want to get across; and my personality, that infuses everything I write.

To find your voice she asked, “Who are you when no one is looking?”

A theme that ran through the entire conference, and cited by Tristi, can be found in D&C 93:29, “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.”

The core of our soul is eternal. Before coming to sojourn in mortality we developed aptitudes, talents, and abilities. We learned to write before we came here. The ability to write is a gift of the spirit.

She explained that the gift of tongues is the power of persuasion, and that writing is a part of the gift of tongues.

Some of my favorite quotes/paraphrases from Tristi include:

“When we feel the need to write it is our pre-mortal experiences and urges pulling us on.”

“If you have a righteous desire to write it is inspiration from Heavenly Father.”

She asked the group, “What keeps us from finding our voice?” Responses included, fear, anxiety, and doubts about our ability (or inability) to write.

She reminded us of the story in Moses 1 where the Lord gives Moses his marching orders and then Satan appears to Moses and tries to persuade Moses to follow him. However, Moses knew who he was, and whom he should follow. She emphasized that it is the adversary that whispers into our ears that we can’t write, or that we’re fat, ugly, and stupid. He will tell any lie he can to stunt our spiritual growth, and to deny us becoming who our Heavenly Father wants us to become.

Tristi confirmed that writing is hard and that rejection is a part of it. She admonished us though, “Don’t listen to those that will drag you down.” Quoting from Robert D. Hales she said, “God would approve and encourage us to use our talents.”

She also read to us a wonderful quote from Orson F. Whitney speaking to Zion:

[08] But what has all this to do with literature? you ask. More, perhaps, than is at first apparent. It is by means of literature that much of this great work will have to be accomplished: a literature of power and purity, worthy of such a work. And a pure and powerful literature can only proceed from a pure and powerful people. Grapes are not gathered of thorns. nor figs of thistles.
[09] I am not here, my friends, to tickle your ears with tinkling phrases, to deliver a learned lecture on Greek and Roman mythology: to quote Hebrew and Latin. and stun you with sound, and bewilder you with a pedantic display of erudition. No! Experience has taught me that it is the heart. not simply the head, we must appeal to, if we wish to stir the soul. The intellect may shine, but it is the bosom that burns, and warms into life every movement that is born to bless humanity. l, therefore, speak to your hearts, and I would rather say three words by the power of the Holy Ghost than lecture here for three hours on the fables of Greece and Rome.
[10] Wake up! ye sons and daughters of God! Trim your lamps and go forth to meet your distiny [sic]. A world awaits you: rich and poor, high and low, learned and unlearned. All must be preached to; all must be sought after; all must be left without excuse. And whither we cannot go, we must send; where we cannot speak we must write; and in order to win men with our writings we must know how and what to write. If the learned will only listen to the learned, God will send them learned men, to meet them on their own ground, and show them that "Mormonism," the Gospel of Christ, is not only the gospel of truth, but the gospel of intelligence and culture. The Lord is not above doing this. He is merciful to all men, not willing that any should perish. or have it to say they were unfairly dealt with. For over fifty years the gospel has been preached to the poor and lowly. It will yet go to the high and mighty, even to kings and nobles, and penetrate and climb to places hitherto deemed inaccessible. Our literature will help to take it there; for this, like all else with which we have to do, must be made subservient to the building up of Zion.
[11] But remember this, ye writers and orators of the future! It is for God's glory. not man's. Let not vanity and pride possess you. Without humility there is no power. You must be in earnest. You must feel what you write, if you wish it to be felt by others. If the words you speak are not as red-hot embers from the flaming forge of a sincere and earnest soul, they will never set on fire the souls of your hearers…
"Seek learning, even by study and also by faith."
The formation of a home literature is directly in the line and spirit of this injunction. Literature means learning, and it is from the "best books" we are told to seek it. This does not merely mean the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, Church works and religious writings--though these indeed are "the best books," and will ever be included in and lie at the very basis of our literature. But it also means history, poetry, philosophy, art and science, languages, government--all truth in fact, wherever found. either local or general, and relating to times past, present or to come.

[16] It is from the warp and woof of all learning, so far as we are able to master it and make it ours, that the fabric of our literature must be woven. We must read, and think, and feel, and pray, and then bring forth our thoughts, and polish and preserve them. This will make literature.
[17] Above all things, we must be original. The Holy Ghost is the genius of "Mormon" literature. Not Jupiter, nor Mars, Minerva, nor Mercury. No fabled gods and goddesses; no Mount Olympus; no "sisters nine," no "blue-eyed maid of heaven"; no invoking of mythical muses that "did never yet one mortal song inspire." No pouring of new wine into old bottles. No patterning after the dead forms of antiquity. Our literature must live and breathe for itself. Our mission is diverse from all others; our literature must also be. The odes of Anacreon, the satires of Horace and Juvenal, the epics of Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton; the sublime tragedies of Shakspeare [sic]; these are all excellent, all well enough in their way; but we must not attempt to copy them. They cannot be reproduced. We may read, we may gather sweets from all these flowers, but we must build our own hive and honeycomb after God's supreme design.
[18] We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own. God's ammunition is not exhausted. His brightest spirits are held in reserve for the latter times. In God's name and by his help we will build up a literature whose top shall touch heaven, though its foundations may now be low in earth. Let the smile of derision wreathe the face of scorn; let the frown of hatred darken the brow of bigotry. Small things are the seeds of great things, and, like the acorn that brings forth the oak, or the snowflake that forms the avalanche, God's kingdom will grow, and on wings of light and power soar to the summit of its destiny.

Tristi continued with, “Writing is a spiritual endeavor. Creation is spiritual, and writing is no exception.”

Discussing how to unleash our writer’s voice she said, “Your experience is the lens that you see life through…learn to write from your inner core of strength…Write from your places of pain. Write about a difficult and emotionally painful experience. Write everything, and then write how you got through it. Put your fear and joy into your writing…You need to be willing to say, ‘I don’t care if others laugh at my pain.’ When you put honesty into your writing the reader will sense it. When you write with honesty your words have power.”

I will continue writing my experiences from this amazing conference in future posts. At the moment however, I have to stop so I can go shower and then take my son out to collect fast offerings. Stay tuned.

Dispensation of the Gentiles 3 Nephi 16:4-7

4 And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.
5 And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.
6 And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.
7 Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.

(Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 16:4 - 7)

My comments:
The Nephites are to keep their records, scriptures, which will be given to the Gentiles, and the Gentiles will bring them forth, and be brought to the Savior by these writings.

After these records, the Book of Mormon, has come forth, the Lord will gather in the lost tribes of Israel from the four quarters of the earth. Then will the Lord fulfill the covenant which He made to Abraham.
The Abrahamic Covenant can be found in the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 2: 6-11:

6 But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother's son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice.
7 For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly.
8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

Through Abraham’s seed, which the Nephites and Lamanites are definitely a part of, all nations of the earth will be blessed. We are blessed through the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

These books of scripture bless all those that read and follow their teachings.