Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Perspective

I hope you are all having a great Thanksgiving Day. There is so much to be thankful for, even in these difficult times. I’ve seen countless people step up to help those who have been hard hit by the financial downslide our country is experiencing and it touches my heart. In my own life the Lord has so richly blessed me with a wonderful heritage, a loving husband and sweet, dear children and grandchildren and His eternal plan of happiness. There are the blessings of friends, a great ward and a close and comfortable neighborhood. My husband and I both have good and meaningful jobs. The list goes on and on so I thought I would share a couple of things that have happened lately that I am grateful for.

Last Sunday our RS president gave a wonderful lesson and shared some Thanksgiving traditions in their family. One was a featherless (magnetic) turkey that hung on their fridge and the colorful (magnetic) feathers that they added as each one expressed something they were thankful for. Then she put the turkey up on the white board and said the sisters could come up and say something they were thankful for and she would add a feather to the turkey. We got many of the typical (albeit marvelous) blessings that people say about family, friends, home, church, etc. and I threw in my gratitude for the electronic advancements of the computer and Internet which allows me to keep in touch instantly with dear friends and family members via email and blogs.

Then a sweet sister came up. I have known and loved her mother for nearly 30 years (quite the mentor ~ fabulous scripturian with such insight) and this daughter has been the source of considerable heartache for her over the years although I never knew any details. Then one day, about a year ago, the daughter started coming to church with her mom and even coming when her mom (who is getting on in years) couldn’t make it. She has the same clear understanding of the scriptures as her mother and I always enjoy her comments. I’ve tried to speak to her each week and tell her how nice it is to see her. I've noticed several others always greet her. She stood at the front of the room and in tears said how thankful she was for forgiveness and the atonement allowing someone like her to come back to church after 25 years and feel so welcome. That pretty much says it all… what greater gift could we have gotten from our Father, than the opportunity to come back into His presence even if we have gotten off the path from time to time. I’m also thankful for this sweet blessing.

The other thing that I keep remembering is the gift of “perspective.” I was going to use this experience for its own blog but I think it goes here quite nicely. It is so easy to see why only the Lord can judge because only He has the proper and complete perspective of what is REALLY going on in someone’s life. Case in point: I went to the Desert Rose RWA writer’s conference a couple of Saturdays ago and in the second break-out group I was in I could hear this very annoying tapping coming from the row behind me, off to the left. I quickly glanced over my shoulder and spotted the woman tapping. When I saw the source of the noise, my feelings about it changed instantly. In fact, as the class went on and I heard the tapping, it made me smile and brought me such a peaceful, comforting feeling. There were two women on the front row, directly in front of her (but she was several rows behind them) and when they tried to turn around to see the source of this annoying tapping, they could not see her at all. I watched them as they whispered back and forth to each other, wondering how anyone could be so rude and they were so distracted by it that I doubt if they got much out of the session.

Why did the tapping cease to bother me? Because when I looked over my shoulder I saw that the woman was blind and she had a brail slate and stylus and was taking notes. That tiny revelation changed my feelings about the noise instantly. I was very thankful that I was able to see her and I truly found the sound of this sweet blind daughter of God taking notes along with the rest of us to be very touching.

I think perspective is a blessing that we should remember throughout our lives. We have no idea why someone does what they do, what brought them to that point or what their life experiences have been giving them their particular perspective and motivation so how can we ever completely understand their actions? What we can do, is completely love them as the Lord loves us. So, I leave you my dear friends with the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless Us, Every One!”
AND HE DOES!!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Eight Years and Still Growing


Growing Pains ~ interesting concept. Growth is inevitable, but not always easy. I looked in the scriptures and the people grew in strength and wisdom as well as in iniquity… kind of depended where their heart was.

I have a wonderful reminder of the constancy, hope and joy of growth on my kitchen table. Last Saturday was the eight anniversary of the passing of our sweet BJ from this life to the next. The tables at his funeral luncheon had little potted flowers on them and one of my dear friends, Kathy Thompson, took some home and planted them. Like me, Kathy doesn’t have much luck in growing plants, but these little flowers have continued to flourish. She calls them “BJ’s flowers.” They were planted in November and blossom each year in time for her to bring me a bouquet of them on November 8th. It’s a tradition I have cherished and appreciated.

Loving all kinds of flowers, but knowing only the names of a few, I had no idea the name of this flower. Last night we had our ANWA (writer's group) chapter meeting at my home and Ceil commented on the beautiful “Black-eyed Susans” I had on my table. Oh, wow, now I know… so this morning I looked them up on the Internet and sure enough, that is exactly what my little plant looks like.

Here’s the interesting part (and it’s pretty cool ~ just a reminder that Heavenly Father knows his children and does the most amazing things to show it) ~ these plants are supposed to bloom from June to August each year and yet BJ’s flowers bloom in November (of course, here in Arizona, November can still be rather warm). Then, the research nut that I am, I kept looking and you won’t believe what I found out about the ‘healing” properties of BJ’s flowers:

The Black-Eyed Susan helps to bring painful memories to light allowing inner healing to begin. In “flower essence therapy” this flower assists individuals in shedding deep burdens that are weighing them down emotionally.

Well, this is about all I can share right now as I have to leave for school soon ~ but I hope you can get the gist of all I wanted to share in how his plant continues to bloom each year and how a dear friend thought of doing that for us and what a sweet reminder it is of a very special young man who has changed our lives forever.

Have a blessed day!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Desperately Seeking Heaven

Well, I’m STILL sick and I’ve been resting all week during Fall Break because I have to be well to go back to teaching on Monday… so, hopefully, by the end of the week, I will be better.

As a result of my “lounging around” I have been watching a little too much TV. I should be reading, I know, but TV is just easier. And I think there is always something to learn in every moment of our lives, even watching TV ~ yep, and I’m here to share with you my observations.

You know me, this might be a little lengthy as I set this up, but I hope you take the time to read it, because it really made me think on this “desperately seeking heaven” idea quite a bit.

I got hooked last Spring on “Eli Stone.” (It actually started midseason). I was over at my daughter’s house (Shannon), holding my then new little grandson so she could get something done and she said, “Mom, you would really love this new show. I’ve been tapping it. Why don’t you watch it while you hold Steven?” I protested that I didn’t want to get involved with another show and that it probably wasn’t that good anyway. She handed me the baby and turned the first episode of “Eli Stone.” When it was over, I sat there and watched the next two episodes.

She was right. I LOVED it. “Eli Stone” is sharp, funny, well-written and well-acted. I never miss an episode. Well, it started up again this week and I watched the season premiere and was not disappointed. It was fabulous. If you are unaware of this show, the premise is a San Francisco lawyer has a brain aneurysm and it causes him to have “visions” (of the heavenly kind) but they are so random and goofy ~ they are often like little mini musicals that can range from solo performances by George Michael to elaborate production numbers by the entire cast ~ you would have to watch it to see what I mean. He gets messages that are important to him or his loved ones or even total strangers like when he predicted an earthquake and fought to get some people evacuated ahead of time. And during that vision, the song playing was “I Felt the Earth Move Under My Feet.” Getting anyone to believe him is his biggest challenge because they say he is hallucinating from the aneurysm (despite a pretty good track record) and in this week's episode his boss was in a building that collapsed. Eli knew he was trapped in the stairwell but rescuers were looking elsewhere saying he would have taken the elevator and must be on the main floor. Eli even tried to get a court order to force them to look there (they wouldn’t because they said that area was unstable and the boss wouldn’t be there anyway). I won’t spoil it in case you get to see it sometime but all’s well that end’s well.

But it got me thinking that the world is desperately seeking heaven. I mean, just look at all the TV shows and movies over the years that pertain to some heavenly connection: Touched by an Angel, Highway to Heaven, Joan of Arcadia, Heaven Can Wait, Just Like Heaven, Angels in the Outfield, Unlikely Angel, For Heaven’s Sake, The Preacher’s Wife (& The Bishop’s Wife), It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol (& all its variations), and the list could go on and on.

Why? I think a lot of our brothers and sisters are seeking some confirmation that God is in His heaven and all is well with the world. Sadly, some don’t know where to find such comfort. Maybe we can share what we know with people who are desperately seeking heaven. I do believe that by the choices we make and the service we give, it is possible to have heaven on earth.

I want to thank all those in my life who have been there for me and I hope I’ve been able to be there for someone else when they needed that reassurance that Heavenly Father is in charge of this world and that He loves us and no one needs to feel desperate. (But I do hope they keep making those kinds of movies and TV shows, because they are some of my favorites).

And I think you might want to check out "Eli Stone" ~ love it, love it.



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Young @ Heart


Well, I'm home sick today and feeling pretty terrible (running a fever and chills, swollen glands, coughing, the whole bit). I toyed with the idea of writing a blog today but I'm just not up but I did want to recommend a WONDERFUL DVD that you all should rent (in fact, I think you should BUY it). It's an independent film that I saw months ago at a premiere and then it never really opened. I've been waiting for it to come out on DVD and it did a couple of weeks ago.

It's called "Young @ Heart" and is a delightful documentary of a senior citizen chorus (average age is around 80) that sings ROCK MUSIC and it is just plain fun. It shows them rehearsing and interviews them, etc. and shows several music videos in the making. I thought I would pee my pants when they were all in their wheelchairs cruising down the hospital corridor singing, "I want to be sedated." This group is TRULY young at heart. It will touch you in ways you never expected. I kept telling my husband about it and he was acting like it couldn't be that great. But when it came out and I bought it and brought it home, he LOVED it. I must warn you, in case it would bother you: one word from one line of lyrics said that word that starts with a "b" for a female dog ~ once ~ otherwise it is clean as a whistle and when they get a standing ovation from a group of prisoners, it brings tears to your eyes.


This sweet little chorus brightens the day for many and this DVD will brighten yours as well. I'm feeling so icky that I'm done ~ headed back to bed.

Take care. Love to all.
Blessings,
Stephanie

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Great Stuff to Check Out!!


Hi all ~

In a rush, as usual, these days. But wanted to make mention of a couple of things and head you in the direction for some fun and interesting stuff ~ at least, it was to me ~ ~ ~

Today (9-24-08) is NATIONAL PUNCTUATION DAY ~ Bet you didn't even know ... and here's a great website that explains everything you ever wanted to know about punctuation! When you get to the site, you'll see a menu of various punctuation marks. Click on any one to find out what it is, and how to use it properly: http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/playtimerap.html ~ actually, you never know when it might come in handy ~ better bookmark it!! (P.S. added on Thursday ~ So many people went there on Wed. that it overloaded the site's bandwith and temporarially shut it down ~ try back later). Here's another good site: http://www.surfnetkids.com/punctuation.htm

YOU WILL LOVE THIS!!!!! Well, I did and I think you will ~ today I went to a blog recommended on a friend's blog (something I do for "fun" and "curiosity" every now and then and I find some of the coolest things). So, my next-door neighbor, Leigh, has a lot of cooking blogs and homemaking blogs listed and one caught my eye today ~ "Not Quite June Cleaver" ~ I went there and it was GREAT ~ fun lady with lots of great recipes and homemaking ideas and her entry today featured the video clip of a couple dancing at their wedding ~ you may have seen it, but it was the first I had seen it and it was darling ~ so, if you get there after she has added addtional posts, be sure to scroll down to the one titled: "Wedded Bliss" and watch the short clip. Cute, cute, cute and then browse around because she has a TON of great stuff there. http://notquitejunecleaver.com/

By the way, I sent out an email this morning, but for those who don't get my emails, I wanted everyone to know how grateful and proud I am of Jordin Sparks for standing up for chastity ~ I have loved Jordin Sparks (sweet Glendale, ARIZONA gal) since she first sang on American Idol and was so happy she won, but she really is high on my list with her stance on wearing a promise ring that she would not have sex before marriage. In order to watch this clip from "Hannity & Colmes" you have to ENDURE the obnoxious British MC making his own political commentary but that part only lasts seconds and then it goes on to the interview with Jordin. Below is the link to a YouTube video of Jordin on FOX News' Hannity and Colmes show. She talks about the comments she made in favor of chastity before marriage at the Video Music Awards on Sunday which have created a massive buzz around her. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OS4QfqdFk4

Meridian (online) Magazine article as well:
http://www.ldsmag.com/ideas/080924sparks.html

Also, this Friday is Johnny Appleseed's birthday ~ we have been studying him all week at school and today we sampled 5 different varieties of apples as part of our lesson (I threw in some simple fraction lessons as well) and it was such fun. The kids LOVED it. Just do a search on "Johnny Appleseed" and you can find a bunch of stuff you can use for your family - your kids will love learning about him and tasting apples - so why not "celebrate" his birthday on Friday. Make an apple pie or something.

OK, I've got stuff to do so that's all for now.

Love and Blessings,
Stephanie

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Brain is Full


You know how sometimes your stomach is just as "full" as it can be? That's how my brain has been feeling lately. It is just plain OVERLOADED ... too much going on, too much reading for preparing for class, too many Internet searches for just the right worksheet for school, too much thinking, if that's even possible and this, from someone who LOVES to think, study, read and learn.

So, a couple of random things (are we surprised I would be random?? ~ nope). This is Constitution Week and I hope you are all aware of it and doing things with your family to remember what a treasure this country is to us and at what a cost to the founders we enjoy it today. If you live locally and read this before Saturday evening, there is a very cool Constitution Fair that starts at 6 PM at Highland High School ~ fun for the whole family: http://www.constitutionweekusa.com/

Anyway, I'm disturbed by all the stress I see my little 7 year old students having over their school work. I want them to love learning and they are just plain stressing over the littlest thing. I gave an unannounced spelling pre-test on a list I passed out on Monday and I had 3 meltdowns... despite the fact that I said it wasn't for a grade, that it wasn't going home and that it was only for ME to see how they were doing so I would know which words we needed to go over. Good grief. I can't say much because that would be inappropriate to mention if any school parent tracks down what I ever have to say on the web, so I'll just say I could not believe how upset a few of them got.

The other thing that has been going on is that Mandy (in Nevada) is about to do battle with some school officials over what they have done to the math program in Clark County because the district was scoring poorly in math. So, "they" wrote a new, very ridiculous, math program with problems that resemble the ones found on the annual test. Well, if the problems she read to me over the phone are indicative of what is found on the test, NO WONDER they are scoring poorly, because they are the most confusing math questions you would ever imagine. When a mom (Mandy) who aced College Algebra is unable to help her son with his 3rd grade math, something is wrong. This "teaching to the test" nonsense is ruining the real education of our future generations. OK, I better not go there or I'll be up all night.

So, where does any of this lead? Probably not to a good night's sleep, which I could really use about now. But perhaps to a delightful new "hero" I found just two days ago when looking for something in reference to my classroom. I happened across his material and read and read it. I picked up his book at the library today (although I haven't had two minutes to even look at it yet) but you will LOVE the title: Discipline without Stress, Punishments or Rewards by Dr. Marvin Marshall. (The subtitle is "How Teachers and Parents Promote Responsibility & Learning"). It teaches how internal motivation is far more powerful and effective in changing behavior than punishments or rewards. I can't wait to read it and implement it. But even more than that, I loved what he had to say about testing and grades. What do you think?

Here's the website about the book: www.disciplinewithoutstress.com ~ check out the sample chapters, especially Collaboration for Quality Learning ~ WOW, does that ever make sense ~ instead of this we are creating "competetion" and that promotes cheating and kids asking questions like: "Is it going to be on the test?" ~ they no longer want to learn for the sake of learning, but only care about what they are going to be tested on (sounds like some districts we know of, hmmm). It's really fascinating. Also, I think you'd really love going to HIS website and watching a minute and a half video of one of his presentations ~ http://www.marvinmarshall.com/ ~ I can't stop thinking of his perspective and how much sense it makes in nearly all aspects of life.

Well, I need to get to bed. But this is the stuff that has been rattling around in my brain lately. See how it does in yours!! Take care!

Blessings,
Stephanie

Monday, September 8, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: The Santa Letters


The Santa Letters by Stacy Anderson

~ NO, it’s NOT too early to review a Christmas book!!! ~
I’m a sucker for Christmas stories. I collect them, in all their varieties. I have an entire bookcase and DVD case full of Christmas stories and movies. Some are individual stories and others are compilations of Christmas stories, either store-bought or homemade with precious holiday tales that have been copied over and over again. I also collect nativities. I’m kind of a Christmas junkie, so I was pretty pleased to discover a new Christmas book this year. It’s called The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch Anderson and it’s destined to become a Christmas classic, possibly a best-seller.

Having been raised by a remarkable woman of great service and joy who loved everything about Christmas I don’t think anything could take away the happiness of the season for me. As a child, every inch of our home was decorated, including the bathrooms. Christmas music is played at my house from November 1st until the New Year. Even though my precious mother passed away one week before Christmas ten years ago, I have not lost my love of the season when we celebrate the best gift we could ever receive, the birth of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christmas movies are playing most of the time during the holidays at the Abney home and my children love to tease me about my “B” movies because many well-intended Christmas movies are made on a shoestring budget and lack some of the glamour and finesse of Hollywood, but they still find a home in my heart, year after year. I can be very forgiving when it comes to a good Christmas story. And although I found some things that took me away from the story in this first novel of journalist Stacy Anderson, by the time I finished reading it, I could hardly remember what they were… except for the fact that I’m such a goofball note taker that I even take notes when I read. And since I have so many good things to say about this story, let’s just get this part over with: I found it to be frequently melodramatic, particularly the foreshadowing in the first chapter. Some of the dialogue seemed very contrived; as if Stacy was trying too hard. And the image of this line especially took me right out of the story: “… as tears streamed down her face, making zebra stripes out of her mascara.” (Sorry, Stacy, because I think you are charming and wonderful, but that was just plain odd for me). Some other things distracted me, but as I said, by the time I closed the book, they no longer mattered.

This book is not just for the Christian audience ~ it’s for those that believe ~ altruistic people everywhere will enjoy it. It’s a story to help everyone remember how blessed they truly are and the importance of family and being there for each other, especially when sorrow visits your doorstep.

For Emma, tragedy occurs on Christmas Eve when her husband is hit and killed by a drunken driver, leaving Emma to pick up the pieces and raise her four children alone. However, she soon realizes she isn’t really alone as grandparents and neighbors pitch in. Even the loving help of others can’t fill the hole in her heart. It’s nearly Christmas again and Emma has neither the Christmas spirit nor the funds to give her children the holiday they deserve … and then twelve days before Christmas, letters and packages begin to appear on her doorstep. Each letter is lovingly crafted by a sweet long-winded (something I know plenty about) Santa and day by day he leads Emma and her children on a journey of self-discovery that you will not soon forget.

I didn’t interview Stacy for this book tour stop but I have read many emails from her and spoken to her on the phone and she is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to talk to. She is coming to Mesa for book signings in November and we can’t wait and I will have all the details about her schedule when she is in town on this blog so be sure to check back often.

DayStar Media (they do religious programming for cable and network TV) contacted Stacy and invited her to fly to Tennessee for a talk show featuring her new book. And here’s something totally awesome ~ Stacy sent a copy to the First Lady, Laura Bush, and recently received a lovely thank you letter from the White House on official stationary with the Presidential Seal signed personally by Laura Bush thanking Stacy for her sweet words of support and for sending her a signed copy of The Santa Letters which has now become one of Mrs. Bush’s Christmas favorites! How cool is that? You go, girl!!! This is such an amazing ride for a deserving new author. I wish her the best of everything.

You can purchase The Santa Letters here:
http://deseretbook.com/store/search?search=the+santa+letters&x=14&y=6

Visit Stacy's blog here: http://www.stayinalivewithstacy.blogspot.com/
or her website:http://www.thesantaletters.org/


Enjoy!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

In My Heart Forever


This is a tender time to be blogging ~ tomorrow would have been BJ's 24th birthday and I know he would have grown up to be such a fine man. I miss him all the time. Some times are harder than others... but I had the sweetest experience that I would like to share. If you've read anything anywhere that I've posted lately: on this blog, ANWA's blog or via email, then you know I'm teaching full-time this year (after many years of substitute teaching). I'm 57 years old and a little nuts to boot. But I do love it. The kids are great and they crack me up... not that there haven't been a few "moments" when I wondered why I wanted to do this. But, mostly, it's been truly gratifying... but also, OVERWHELMING as I have such varied abilities in my class of 6, 7, 8 and even a 9 year old. I've tried so many approaches to reach all of them from where they are at so we can build on it and keep on going. Some things have worked out well and others, well... not so much.

Seems no matter how hard I've tried (and no matter how many HOURS I've spent preparing, or how much $$$$ I've spent) I have felt frustrated that I just am not getting there yet... so on Sunday, I asked Jim for a priesthood blessing. He gave me one after church and although he was the only other person in the room and the only one with his hands on my head as he pronounced the blessing, he continually said, "WE bless you... and WE bless you..." (with this and that...). I felt like someone else was there but no one was physically. When he was done (and the blessing was very sweet and helpful - but I'm still trying to figure a lot of stuff out), anyway, I asked him about saying "we" throughout the blessing" and he simply said, "None of it was my own words, Stephanie... I just said what the Lord told me to." And then I realized, that it was BJ who was helping him give me the blessing and I asked him what he thought. Jim agreed; it must have been BJ. I felt even more comforted by the blessing and Monday was quite good... but I'm still figuring things out.

At any rate, we usually have a family party on BJ's birthday and even get a cake that says, "Happy Heavenly Birthday" or something like that... however, tomorrow night is the 50's dance at school and I guess that's where we are headed and Saturday is our ward talent show... maybe Sunday we can do something special for his birthday.

So, tomorrow, I'll think of BJ but I'll be at school most of his birthday. I thought I would share a little cinquain poem I wrote a year before BJ passed away and then I'll head to bed. Take care.


Children
A gift from God
Grace our lives for a time
Remain in our hearts forever
Precious
Stephanie Abney ~ © 1999

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jaci Turns 5 and Starts School on the Same Day!!


Yesterday was our granddaughter Jaci's 5th birthday and also her first day at school in Henderson, Nevada. She is the very delightful daughter of our daughter, Mandy and son-in-law, Jason Leavitt. Her older brother, Eli is nine.

Jaci is such a "girlie girl" and so adorable. So, for her birthday, Mandy took her to Libby Lu's in the Mall and here are the pictures and captions Mandy sent to document it:
This store is sooooo cute! It is every little girls' dream come true. Basically it is a beauty salon for little girls. The first thing they do is let them dress up. Jaci chose this sparkle dress.
Next they take them to a little stool with a heart shaped mirror. Then they get to choose eyeshadow and lip gloss. Pink for Jaci! Next, a manicure is in order followed by the child's choice of hair style:
Jaci chose the "Royal."
The accessory Jaci chose was the Diva hair piece while Eli supported the whole thing. What a good brother.

They followed it up with a trip to Dairy Queen!! Jaci's words: "This was the best b-day ever." (which she says every b-day) It was a fun little pamper session. Happy Birthday Jaci!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Still Alive

Hey, friends and family ~ I'm still alive!! But SWAMPED... love teaching these little guys, but tired and I never get to laze around writing or reading blogs much these last couple of weeks ~ I think I only watched about 45 minutes TOTAL (over several days) of the Olympics!! Oh well. So, if you happen to be kind enough to be checking now and then to see if I wrote anything... nah. But I did put up a post on the ANWA Founder and Friends blog (since it was my turn) and it's one you may be familiar with if you know me well: "Recipe for Disaster." People tell me they never tire of hearing/reading that story so if you want to see it again OR if you have never heard it, head on over there and take a look. I'll get my schedule down one of these days and start paying more attention to my blog and all the other ones I used to frequent. Catch ya' later ~ got school stuff to do... bye!!

HERE'S THE LINK: http://anwafounder.blogspot.com/2008/08/recipe-for-disaster.html

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Meet Your Teacher Night

Well, everyone ~

I have been so busy, especially the last two weeks, getting ready for school to start that I have missed blogging about a ton of stuff. But I'll have to try to play catch up later. For now, I'm just going to make a few changes to the blog I just wrote for my writer's group blog, ANWA Founder and Friends... I keep trying to get off to bed, but then I thought it would be great to just copy and paste, fix whatever won't make sense to those who don't know any of my writer friends and such in order to get something on my blog. So.... here it is:

My feet hurt. I’m exhausted, but it’s that good, satisfying exhausted feeling. It’s my turn to blog (for my writer's group) and it’s getting pretty late so I figured I’d tell you some sweet moments I had with my first official “Meet Your Teacher” ~ well, certainly I’ve GONE to plenty of them, but this is the first time that I was the teacher and the students and parents came to meet me, in the rain no less. It was awesome. I’m pretty much in heaven; tired heaven, but heaven.

In case you are not aware, I am teaching full time this year after 13 years of substitute teaching (including 10-11 years at the school I’m now at). I’m at Eagle’s Aerie School (K-12) in Gilbert, AZ and Lorna Hale (who is also the general president of ANWA ~ American Night Writer's Association ~ I'm the vice-president) is the Assistant Director (and as such, she pretty much runs the show ~ there is a Director, Tim Peak, and a board and all... but Tim and Lorna’s husband, Rob, are pretty busy with the L.E.A.D.S. center and that’s another blog all on it’s own), so Lorna hired me and Lorna has done the most training these last two weeks (although her hubby, Rob, did some and Tim has given us some excellent information) and here I go again… running off at the mouth (or the keyboard keys) and not telling you about the school or my evening. However, I should mention, that Lorna is a dream to work with because she is so supportive and follows through on everything she says she will do ~ she’s been there every night until after midnight for days now just getting ready for the new school year.

The focus at Eagle’s Aerie is on citizenship, leadership, patriotism and excellence. They embrace what is known as a “Thomas Jefferson Education” (you should get the book: A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century by Oliver Van DeMille). You will be enthralled with the principles. They use a “mentoring” program for the upper grades (7-12) – those students are referred to as the “American Leadership School.” (And another ANWA member, Kaleen Polakoff, teaches the upper grades). Eagle’s Aerie has a rural feel to it and maintains a barn with horses, goats, chickens and other animals as well as garden patches. Working with the animals is part of the curriculum for all grade levels. It’s pretty cool. It’s not uncommon to open the door and have to wait for a mother hen and her chicks to walk past before you can continue on outside. This school also sets aside “reading days” and “writing days” every Monday (switching between the two subjects) and their reading and writing scores have shot through the roof (in the top 5% for the entire state of Arizona). The school also has a brief “opening” and “closing” ceremony each day where the pledge for the flag is done, patriotic and character building songs are sung, announcements given, etc. American Leadership Scholars take turns leading these ceremonies and gain leadership training and so much more.

Anyway, now that I’ve thoroughly impressed you with all of that when I said I was tired and it is late, I’ll confess I just copied and pasted that (NO, not plagiarized) it from the answers I gave to a question in my EDU class that I took this summer (with a few little added tidbits). So, on to tonight… Every day after training and staff meetings for the last two weeks, we have been given time to work on our rooms ~ the room I inherited was in pretty bad shape ~ but with lots of help from the school maintenance staff and my husband, Jim, we whipped it into shape.

A couple of days ago I was in the office when a cute little boy was standing there waiting for his mom. I spoke to him and found out he was new to the school and would be in the second grade and I told him I was the second grade teacher. So, tonight after his mom filled out the forms in my room, she said that he told her he really hoped I would be his teacher because he met me in the office and I was so nice. Sweet. (Maybe he missed the fact that I am the ONLY 2nd grade teacher). Then, one of the moms walked in, took one look at me and said, “Oh it’s you!!! I’m so thrilled.” And she gave me a big hug (she remembered me from substitute teaching). She was bringing in her daughter this year. And then, a cute little girl that met me earlier in the evening and then went to some other places on campus brought her mother back to my room because she “wanted to say good-bye” to me.

Everyone there is so marvelous… very much a servant leadership situation… which is awesome. I was running behind getting my room set up because I was starting from scratch and they had to paint it, etc. My husband was very helpful, coming out two nights to paint a bookcase apple red for me and to help out otherwise. And then tonight, it was getting close and I still hadn’t had a chance to set up the desks and they were all bunched together at one side of the room. In walks Lorna (just 30 minutes before she had to be meeting parents), and Angel (she teaches horsemanship and riding) and then, Cody (Tim Peak’s son who works on the grounds during the summer and after school) and with all of us, and a brainstorm from Cody ~ we got it all to fit beautifully and then, I was ready.

Towards the end, it started to pour and I still had a couple of families show up. Once it was over, that sweet Cody (whom I remember well from years ago and throughout the years when I would substitute for whatever class he was in). He's a great young man and I enjoyed him then as a little boy and I have loved getting to know him all over again. He is so friendly and helpful. We had to park our cars out on the field to free up parking space for the parents. When it was time to go home, Cody came in my room with an umbrella and said, “Come on; let’s get your car off that field.” He handed me the umbrella and walked me to my car. I drove it to my classroom door, went in my room, gathered up my things, turned off the A/C and the lights, locked the door and slid in behind the wheel of my car, thinking, “When you come to the end of a perfect day…”

More later ~ I actually have a combined class of 18 children, ages six, seven, and eight … makes me feel like “Little House on the Prairie” ~ but the school offers individualized education ~ whatever that child needs, is what that child gets so it doesn’t really matter which class they are in.

Good night ~ I’m going to bed!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Pioneer in You


Bet you can guess what my topic is today. Actually, there is something inherently wrong in my mind to write about anything else on Pioneer Day. I’m a life-long member of the church and come from what is fondly referred to as “pioneer stock.” All eight of my great-grandparents walked across the plains to get to the Salt Lake Valley. Most of them did so in their youth so my great-great grandparents also crossed the plains with them. Even my grandfather walked across as a child. (He was an older gentleman when he married my grandmother, both of them widowed and then they had 3 more children, including my mother, in case you were wondering how I could possibly have a grandfather that was a pioneer). In fact, I remember being told the story of when he was sick and his mother told him to get into the wagon and he refused. He said he wanted to be able to tell his children and grandchildren that he walked every step of the way. Three of my great-grandparents (and the grandfather mentioned above) were born in Europe so you can add that long sea-voyage into the mix as well. It is thrilling and amazing how the love of the gospel and a desire to conquer new territory can sustain someone through the most difficult of experiences.

I’m actually half Danish and half English. My maternal grandfather was English and my maternal grandmother was Danish, while my fraternal grandfather was Danish and my fraternal grandmother was English; making each of my parents “half and half” and when you add up all the fourths (one from each grandparent), my sister and I still come out “half and half.” Sounds kind of like cream. Well, that’s a good analogy because cream rises to the top!

The human spirit fascinates me and I marvel at what drives people to accomplish such remarkable tasks. Today marks the anniversary of the arrival of a weary group of Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. President Young told the saints that it was enough, saying, “This is the place.” For 20 more years another 70,000 Mormons traveled by wagons and handcarts to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. After the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, overland wagon travel declined and emigrants began arriving by rail. In the end, it didn’t matter how they came, only that they arrived.

Thus it is with each of us. It doesn’t matter what struggles we have to face to get where we are going; it only matters that we get there. The obstacles along the way shape us; they reveal our true character and prepare us for eternal life with our Heavenly Father and our loved ones. By its very definition every one of us is a pioneer: to be the first to prepare the way, to take part in the beginning of something, to initiate, to lead the way… so, to this I say, “Go forth and be bold!” Happy Pioneer Day, all you wonderful pioneers!!

Being the research queen that I am, I’ll leave you a couple of great links to help you celebrate:

Special treat ~ Pioneer Coloring Book: The Prayer Quilt ~ here is a pdf file of a coloring book about the pioneers that you can download and print off for any little ones in your family:
http://lds.about.com/od/visualmusicalaids/a/pionneer_book.htm


Excellent site for tracing your Mormon Pioneer ancestry from Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, and South Africa to Salt Lake City, Utah: http://www.xmission.com/~nelsonb/pioneer.htm


Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “Come, Come Ye Saints”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_9_uQiMmyQ


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tiny Tots at the Computer


Payton and Taylor love to play on Grandma's computer all the time!!

So I just now got this picture off my camera but it was taken a couple of months ago, Payton (then 15 months) and Taylor (who was 3 in April) were playing on the computer. Payton picked up the mouse, held it to her ear and said, "Hello? Hello?"

Pretty cute!!

But Taylor wins the prize for computer ingenuity when she was busily playing an ABC game at the Fisher Price site. The child hits "any" key and letter by letter, they pop up on the screen, nice and big and you hear the name of the letter spoken. Taylor was happily going through the alphabet when she hit several keys at once and "froze" my screen. It seemed that no matter which key she tried nothing would work. I was amused as I watched her try to figure this out. Finally, she looked up at me and said, "Grandma, do you have any batteries?"

Priceless!!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marriage is a gift to make us holy


The Lord is always ready and willing to teach us something... are we just as ready and willing to learn? Sometimes the lessons come in the most unexpected places. For example:

Jim and I went to a wedding on Saturday ~ Troy and Lynda ~ They are not of our faith.
It was held in a Lutheran Church. As a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, I always find non-temple, non-LDS wedding ceremonies interesting; many I have observed are very sweet - not the same as the eternal blessings pronounced in the temple, but sweet, nonetheless. This was such a wedding. I sat there enjoying the ceremony and the priest said a couple of rather profound things. One thing he said was that marriage was not given to us to make us happy. Rather, marriage is a gift from God to make us holy… and that would make us happy.

A typical definition of holy is “dedicated or devoted to the service of God.” I really like that. In marriage, if we strive to become holy, then happiness is a natural progression. It makes sense. We are told in scripture that “Men [and women] are, that they might have joy.” It also says in Mosiah 2:41 (one of my favorite scriptures): “… consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

I can’t think of a better “gift” than one that would make us holy and prepare us for an eternity of happiness with our eternal companions. And marriage is a pretty good place to get the prickles and rough spots rubbed right off of ya’. Just something to ponder on. Take care.



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cinderella's Cat


Jaci Leavitt, age 4

I have the most adorable grandkids... it's true and they are so funny!!!

So my daughter, Mandy, asked her 4-year-old daughter, Jaci, what she learned in Primary.

Our sweet little Jaci is very precocious and full of drama and fun.

Their conversation went basically like this:

Mom: What did you learn in primary today?
Jaci: I don’t really know, Mom… the teacher talked the whole time about the cat in Cinderella.
Mom: Do you mean Lucifer?
Jaci: Yeah, Lucifer.

Mom: Well, honey, that’s just another name for Satan.
Jaci: Yeah, well, that makes sense because he’s a really mean cat!

Too funny!! [Now all my precious writer friends out there... this little exchange is mine - please don't go adding it to you next book]. LOL

Have a GREAT DAY!!!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Heaven Scent ~ Worth Checking Out


Hey Everyone ~

Life is busy, crazy and wonderful but I really should be doing homework for my summer school class so I can't spend much time on this right now. However, I was so drawn to the storyline of this new book and the author interview I just read that I felt it deserved a bit of my time. (I was taking a "break" when I happened upon it).

The book is an LDS young adult novel (which means any age LDS lady is going to love it) called, Heaven Scent. Just take my word for it and click on the link below to read about the book and an interview with the author, Rebecca Talley, mother of ten!!

I have added this title to my Summer Reading Thing 2008 list (see a couple of blogs below this one). Take care - I've got to get back to my homework!!

Enjoy!!
http://inksplasher.blogspot.com/2008/06/heaven-scent-by-rebecca-talley-and-give.html

Blessings,
Stephanie

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I've Joined Karlene's "Summer Reading Thing"

Ok, so I have also Joined Karlene's "Summer Reading Thing" ~ the rules are pretty much the same as the LDS Summer Book Trek and Karlene says you can even use the same list, which I did ~ except for adding: "The Writing Life" which is non-fiction and not by an LDS author.

So, here is my list for the Summer Reading Thing ~ I hope I'm doing this correctly... after I post this then I think I link it to Karlene's sign up page for the Summer Reading Thing ~

1. The Santa Letters ~ by Stacy Gooch-Anderson (I have an advance reader’s copy)
2. Keeping Keller ~ by Tracy Winegar
3. A Modest Proposal ~ by Michele Bell
4. After Goliath ~ by Liz Adair
5. The Host ~ by Stephenie Meyer
6. The Writing Life ~ by Annie Dillard (non-fiction)
7. A Banner is Unfurled ~ Vol III “Glory From on High” ~ LOVED THE FIRST TWO!! (Historical

Fiction) by Marcie Gallacher & Kerri Robinson
8. How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend ~ by Janette Rallison

9. ADDED 6/26/08 Heaven Scent ~ by Rebecca Talley
10. ADDED 7/05/08 The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size ~ by Julia Cameron

This should keep me busy, as if I wasn't already busy enough... but it sounded like fun, so I'm trying it and you should try it to. If I figure out how to link BACK to Karlene's site, then you can go there and sign up... her blog is: http://inksplasher.blogspot.com/ ~ if you go there, you should be able to find her summer book contest. Have fun!!

Blessings,
Stephanie




HELD OVER in Mesa ~ Emma Smith: My Story

Emma Smith: My Story has been held over a FOURTH week here in Mesa at the Riverview Cinemark 16. That will make it a month-long run when they were wondering if they could get a week or two from it. How exciting is that??? I SUGGEST YOU GO AGAIN and if you haven't gone yet... good grief!!! Get going!!!!!

This movie is LIFE-CHANGING! So, go see it (even if you've already been) before it leaves town. I have to tell you that all three times I’ve gone (and I’m planning on going at least once more)… the theater was quite full (even in the middle of the day) and each time everyone remained silent until the very end of the credits, just like the first time I saw it. No one moved, no one spoke. It was truly a wonderful experience… the good feeling it gives you lasts a very long time… go get another “fix” of excellence.

So, PLEASE GO... FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!!! I wouldn't lead you astray... this is one of the finest movies I have ever seen.

This post cross-posted at my wholesome movie blog: http://wholesomemoviemaven.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Transferable Skills"


A post from ANWA Founder and Friends
by Stephanie Abney

I’ve gone back to school in order to complete a degree in Education and to become certified so I can start teaching full-time and not just substitute teach. I have a summer school class called, “Introduction to Education.” I’m really loving this class, not just because the information is so useful but because I think I managed to sign up for a class taught by a “master” teacher, Mr. Ted Telepak, at M.C.C., Mesa, AZ. Just observing him I’m getting great insights about the kind of teacher I want to be.

Today our instructor said we need make good use of our “transferable skills" on our resumes and during the interview process. Just the sound of it intrigued me and I’ve been thinking about it a great deal this evening. “Transferable Skills” are non-job specific skills which can be used in different occupations. We generally develop them through our educational course work, jobs or internships, church service, volunteering, extra-curricular activities or just plain life experiences.

Most of us posses many of the skills considered valuable just as a result of the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences we’ve had throughout our lives. Emma Smith said, “Life is a good teacher.” It occurs to me that this is even more apparent in the case of women because we wear so many different hats. Before I continue and suggest some of the abilities many of us have acquired, I can’t help but wonder ~ eventually, transferable to where? In the end, just where is it that we expect these skills to benefit us and those around us? Ponder that, while I continue:

As women, particularly LDS women, we have mastered many managerial and/or administrative skills. We’re pretty good at planning, arranging, budgeting, delegating, guiding, directing, organizing, evaluating, and multi-tasking, to name the most obvious. We’re very likely to possess more than adequate communication skills as we deal with those around us (and for many that would include dealing with a spouse and children). We shine in our ability to listen, provide answers, accept input, write correspondence (even if most of it is via email these days), speak in front of groups, lead discussions, teach lessons, persuade, negotiate, read and perhaps we speak a foreign language. We have learned to investigate, research and present information (and do so with a lovely little centerpiece, which leads us into our decorating, scrapbooking, and hospitality expertise, not to mention our culinary and transportation abilities). Our human relation and problem-solving skills have become daily occurrences as we encourage and motivate others, teach and train children, and keep the peace.

You can see how, with just a little brainstorming, that you are far more accomplished than you give yourself credit for. So, now I want to go back to the question I posed earlier ~ where do we hope these skills will be transferable to? Despite the fact that such abilities and talents will enhance our earthly sojourn and bless the lives of those we deal with on a daily basis, I do hope that along the way, I am acquiring skills that will be of value to my Heavenly Father and the hosts of heaven. When I show up with my little resume and recommendation letters in hand, I pray He finds my “transferable skills” acceptable and that they will include compassion, humility, Christ-like love and faith.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Belated Memorial Day

Reposted here from a blog I wrote at ANWA Founder and Friends (a writer's group blog)

"Memorial ~ remembrance of a person or an event”

For whatever strange reason, Memorial Day was difficult for me this year. My love and admiration for those passed on never ceases but my moods do tend to come and go, without the slightest warning. For the first time in over 30 years, I did not join the rest of the extended family in decorating the graves and these days, we have a lot of graves to go to. We meet at row 5 of the Mesa Cemetery (dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles and children and grandchildren ~ we are quite a large crowd when we show up) and moving across each row like this giant wave of humanity, stopping at grave after grave to clean up the headstone and leave flowers, we end up at row 12 where our precious BJ is. (And although we can visit Jim’s parents’ graves, mine are both buried at Forest Lawn in Hollywood, CA and I’ve only been able to visit their graves once since they passed away 8 and 10 years ago).

I haven’t been to the Mesa cemetery for a few months, but I hope to make it tomorrow. I think I just need to sit by my son's grave, alone… and I haven't been able to go yet. Odd... it's been almost eight years and I've always gone to decorate the graves but this year I wasn't up to it and I’ve been in a “mood” ever since. My work has suffered; totally missed a deadline for 2 articles. All the interviewing was done, the photos acquired and yet I sat at the computer and just nothing came.

I think part of it is going to so many of BJ’s friends' wedding receptions or missionary talks when they return over the last couple of years. I don't know. I wouldn’t miss being there for any of them and am grateful their families always remember to invite us, but sometimes I just get sad that it’s never BJ striding up the airport walkway, grinning from ear to ear, and that he’s not the one at the pulpit telling of his remarkable experiences (although I don’t doubt for a minute that he has been serving a mission all these years and has many marvelous stories to tell). He would be 24 years old this September. He was our youngest, our baby and 2 months after his sixteenth birthday, he was gone. And I miss him every moment of every day.

My daughter, Kaci, needed me to drive my 3 oldest granddaughters (ages 10, 12, & 14) halfway to her house in Coolidge (her husband left this afternoon for scout camp and the girls are going to help her with her two little toddlers). On the way we played silly word games, like “I’m going on a trip to Alaska and I packed…” each of us taking turns over and over, always repeating all the previous items, adding to the list alphabetically. It was such fun and I remembered how blessed I am to have these wonderful grandchildren in my life (I have 14 total so far).

We met Kaci halfway and she presented me with a belated Mother’s Day gift… a framed picture of each of her little girls and one of their sweet family with a word under each photo: “Live, Laugh, Love” and I remembered how lucky I am.

Then I did some errands (should have gotten out of the house more this week) and just getting things done for Jim that he didn’t have time to do made me remember the partnership we have shared (and built with such effort) for nearly 38 years and I remembered how loved I am.

And lastly, I attended Liz Adair’s workshop tonight ~ “Using Family History in Fiction.” It was awesome and so helpful and as she taught us, I remembered my honorable heritage.

So, today was my day for remembrance, not Sunday night when our family decorated the graves or even Monday when we had the family over to dinner (which was fun but I still felt ‘lost’ even with everyone there). No, today, I remembered; it was my belated Memorial Day and for me, it was just what I needed. The Lord is merciful (and patient) indeed. Today, I found myself again. I’m feeling much better and tomorrow I will go and take my blanket and my Native American Flute that BJ loved so much and I’ll tell him about stuff that I’m sure he already knows and I’ll play my flute and I’ll remember… and be glad.

Happy Belated Memorial Day!!

P.S. Since I'm posting this to my blog (a few days later) from another blog for writers that I write on twice a month, I can add this P.S. I did go to the cemetary and sat by BJ's grave and talked to him and played my flute. It was very hot out but I didn't notice; the warmth felt good... I'm doing fine now.

this may show few it any comments since most of the comments were made at its original location:
http://anwafounder.blogspot.com/2008/05/my-belated-memorial-day.html

Join the LDS Summer Book Trek

This will be fun and I bet those who participate will get more reading done than those who don't. You can see my list at the left. (You get to create your own book list ~ only requirement is that it is a fiction book by an LDS author ~ you can make changes whenever you need to). Go to http://ldsfiction2.blogspot.com/ to sign up and just follow the instructions! Happy Reading!!

While I’ve Been Away

Well, I never meant to wait this long before posting another blog but, hey, life happens. Or, I had the best of intentions or who knows what I might use to explain away my absence? So, I won’t do that now… I’ll just note some of things that I missed telling you all about because… well… I didn’t do it:

· Our Media Fast ended. It’s amazing what you “hear” when it is quiet. It’s also revealing how many other things you can get done when you’re not preoccupied with media. I think the thing that surprised us the most was how early we ended up going to bed when there was no TV or DVD’s to watch, etc. However, I’ll save “media fast revelations” for another post, another time (sounds like more procrastination to me!! But I am trying to be brief here ~ which is one more thing I’m not very good at).
· We had a bunch of birthdays from March to the end of May in our family ~ too many to mention but all of them fun!
· I had a hilarious visitor, LDS fiction author, Susan Corpany, from Hawaii. We mostly have been in touch via email although we met a few years ago at an ANWA writer’s conference. This time she was in town for a wedding and stayed with us. We laughed a lot, found some common ground and complementary abilities and made plans to collaborate on a screenplay and we became fast friends.
· The Mesa Arizona Temple held the Easter Pageant… it just keeps getting better and better ~ took Susan to it as she had never been before! We also were privileged to see the breathtaking photographic display in the Visitor’s Center: Reflections of Christ.
· Went to a delightful screening of the documentary Young @ Heart, about a singing group of senior citizens who perform rock songs… when it showed them in wheelchairs racing down a hospital corridor singing, “I Just Want to Be Sedated” I thought I would pee my pants. Sadly, I haven’t been able to find it playing anywhere since. That’s what happens with Indy films sometimes. Can’t wait for it to come out on DVD.
· Our Stake had a fabulous Youth Trek – focused on the Old Testament this time rather than the pioneers, complete with tribes, captains, and various simulated MOSES-type experiences.
· I substituted most days until the last couple of weeks of school, went to a bunch of wedding receptions, received a ton of graduation announcements including our own Becky Temp’s announcement of her graduation from Dental School!! Way to go ~ ceremony is in 2 weeks.
· Had General Conference and our traditional extended family meal after all the sessions at Jim’s sister’s house.
· Went to Nevada to tend grandkids while Mandy and Jason were in Wyoming.
· Our precious new grandson, Steven Ronnie Shiflett was blessed.
· Wrote articles for the Arizona Beehive and the ANWA newsletter.
· Found out Jim has a small Basal Cell Carcinoma on his forehead that needs surgery. Not a big deal though. He also repelled down a mountain and rode on several long scout bike rides (up to 50 miles at a time, more than once)!! He’s my he-man!!!
· Have seen a ton of great movies these couple of months and started a movie review blog:
http://wholesomemoviemaven.blogspot.com/ ~ stop by and chat with us there.
· Jim has been swamped with Scouting activities and planning for Aaronic Priesthood camp that starts on Tuesday. He also has made a bunch of Mormon Battalion presentations for Eagle Scouts that earned the patch and neckerchief slide.
· Saturday, Mar 31, we went to the baptism of Jim’s high school girlfriend… Jim’s been out of high school for over 40 years but it was so sweet to see her baptized… such a lovely lady. I didn’t go to high school around here so I had never met her before.

Wow, I can’t believe I summed up nearly 3 months in so few words… there may be hope yet!! Thanks for stopping by. I need to continue on because there are some very cool things coming up… like the LDS Summer Book Trek ~ post to follow!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Eclectic Word Lover


This is from a blog I posted at ANWA Founder and Friends to introduce myself and since I thought that there may be a few visitors to my blog who do not know me well, it might be fun to post it here as well.

For those who do not know, ANWA stands for American Night Writers Association and I have been a member for many years. It is a network for LDS women writers. So, here is how I introduced myself on that blog:

I am a lover of words… I love the sounds of words, the various definitions and often hidden meanings of words. I enjoy delightful and funny alliterations and the way certain words just roll right off your tongue while others are like a gentle breeze, soothing and relaxing. Some words are as meaningful as a hug or sadly, as hurtful as a knife.

Everything about words fascinates me… the etymology of words, their power and their magic. I’m grateful for a mother who knew just the right words to use when one of us had a difficult day or when she wanted to share the beauties of this world with us. I’m also thankful that on many occasions I have been prompted to do the same. Words are just the configuration of letters on a page and yet they can bring you to tears, warm your entire being with hope and love or cause joyful and often hysterical laughter. Words can mend relationships and heal hearts. They can also cause harm and even start wars. This line of thinking really intrigues me. I guess it is because of my love of words that I am a writer. However, a writer is only one small facet of who I am.

My favorite word is “eclectic.” If I had a middle name, it would have to be “eclectic.” Sounds strange, I know. But it is the most all-inclusive word I can think of to describe me. I love “picking and choosing the very best” from a wide range of options, etc. I am so random sometimes; I can be quite the paradox and I just love the sound of the word “eclectic.” I guess that’s why I use it so often.

I figured I’d just give you a quick “run-down” of some of the other facets that make up Stephanie Peterson Abney:

I was born in 1951 (doing the math?) in Burbank, CA in a hospital across the street from Walt Disney Studios and raised in Studio City, CA (in the foothills about a quarter mile from Universal Studios). My parents, Steve and Geneal Peterson, were both from Utah and I have one sister, Camille. I gradated from Hollywood High School (I drove past the famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign every day on my way to school) and met my husband, Jim, in a snowball fight at B.Y.U. We will celebrate 38 years of marriage this August and are the parents of 5 children (3 girls and 2 boys). We currently have 14 grandchildren.

We have lived in Mesa, AZ for the past 31 years where Jim works for the church taking care of many of our local LDS buildings and I am a substitute school teacher (and part-time writer who dabbles in network marketing because I love the business model of helping those on your team).

Like everyone, we’ve seen our share of heartaches. The hardest thing Heavenly Father has ever required of us was to watch our healthy and bright 10 year old son battle leukemia for 5½ years and then say goodbye until the next life just 2 months after his 16th birthday. He was an incredible kid and it was a year of great loss. My mom passed away nearly ten years ago and then eighteen months later, my dad died suddenly; six weeks after that, Jim’s dad died from an accident in the home; five weeks later Jim’s mother died due to (preventable) complications of surgery and just three weeks later, with all of his grandparents awaiting him, our sweet son, BJ, passed away. In a four month period we buried 4 immediate family members. We are grateful for the gospel, a strong faith in the Lord’s plan of happiness and wonderful family and friends who loved us and blessed us during those trying times.

My life is also one of great joy. I am an eternal optimist and truly feel I lead a charmed life. All I need do is sit back when I’m surrounded by my family, watching them interact together, look around at our modest yet welcoming home and know that I am indeed a very blessed daughter of God.

Some of the things I enjoy are reading, writing, doing research (my personal choice for relaxation… I love to hunt up facts and stories), being in nature, hanging out with family and friends, playing the Native American Flute and watching great movies.

I have been a member of ANWA for about 19 years and it has been one of my greatest joys. I have developed sweet friendships, learned much and am a better person for it. This year I am the General Vice-president. I look forward to taking my turn on this *blog (that would be *ANWA Founder and Friends) and getting to know many of you better.

Blessings,
Stephanie

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You've Got to Start Sometime!!

Friends and family ~

Well, now I've gone and done it... jumped feet first into blogging!! This is new territory for me, but I think it will be fun. I always have dozens of thoughts racing through my mind and yet, they never seem to make it into a book (have lots of ideas for those too!!) or even a journal, so maybe this will be a good starting point... for me to just take a few moments every day or so and share what's on my mind and you are totally free to read it or do something else and I'll never know the difference... unless you post a comment, I guess.

Today was a lovely day. Quiet. Sundays usually are. It's going to be a lot quieter around here as the week progresses as we are having a "media fast" in our ward (our church congregation)... oops!! So, what am I doing on the Internet if we are having a "media fast?" Good question for which I can probably come up with a lame answer... I have agreed with Jim that the TV will remain off (thank goodness for DVR taping all of my favorites to view NEXT week) and the radio is off but I need the computer for my "work," such as it is... whether as a writer or a networker, I need access to my email and at least limited access to the Internet... so that's it... I'm tiptoeing on the edge of my "limited access" right now. Actually, I'm working on a couple of articles... one for my writer's group newsletter ANWA - American Night Writers Association and one for the Arizona Beehive newspaper that I'll finish in the morning.

So, I'll keep this first entry brief... but dang, it's not very interesting... will you ever drop by again? I hope so... this is mainly just to get SET UP and looks like I managed that... so, I probably won't notify everyone of this blog yet (at least not those involved in the "media fast") hee hee... So how do I do that anyway? Send out announcements and links or whatever... have a party??? to announce that I now have a blogging site? I may tell a few friends or family that are NOT following the "media fast" now. Then on Sat. night after the "fast" is over and I have recorded some of my impressions from the "media fast" and whatever else is happening at the time, I'll clue them in as well. So, I guess that's all for now!!

Blessings,
Stephanie