Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Motherhood: What did I do to deserve this?

Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve my kids. 

And I don't mean that facetiously. With utmost humility, I honestly catch myself wondering what I did to deserve to mother these amazing people. For reasons I don't fully comprehend, God has entrusted me with four of his most precious children, and honestly, the responsibility is at times overwhelming.  While they are colored with individual weaknesses (aren't we all?), I believe that some of our Heavenly Father's most amazing spirits dwell within the walls of my home. 

I know many of you feel the same about your kids. If you don't, I hope you take the chance to see your children for who they really are. They are more than tax-write-offs, obligations, or pawns. Your children are your future... and our world's future, too.

With Mother's Day on the horizon, I am so grateful to be a mom. I'm honored to not just rub shoulders with my children, but to actually know them - not just for who they are becoming, but for who they are today! I'm humbled by their love for me and hope they never question my love for them.    

Boo-Bear, Liv-Lu, Tal-Rai (aka: Awesome One), and Wing-Nut, I'm honored to be your mother!  

Jinky is Reading and So Simply Sara - Two fantastic blog tour hosts

Two fabulous tour stops:

"Wow, I was surprised at how alive the story was presented... I really was captivated."

"Hope's Journey is a wonderful book that gives an honest look at the power of carnal appetites and its consequences. But of course, also the greater power of God's influence. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and I think you will too."

To read Jinky's full review, visit her blog:  Jinky is Reading

"Wow!  This book is what good contemporary fiction is all about."

"Every teenager, and their parent should read this book.  We are all of a belief that something like this could not happen to us.  I love how Sydney makes reference in the book that she was well informed and knew better, but just let her emotions take control - it was not lack of knowledge / education.  I think this happens more times than not."

Visit So Simply Sara to read more. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Week of Reviews

I'm a bit behind this week. Perhaps its because I've had my nose in a book (or three) or because I've been anxiously preparing to discuss Hope's Journey at the Tooele Journey Utah Authors Book Group (Saturday, April 21, 1:00, 392 West 200 South, Tooele - PLEASE STOP BY!), but the real reason I'm behind is because my children are home from school. I've always said, "I'm a mother first," and even if my book is on tour, that mantra still applies.
Escapades with my children aside, Hope's Journey continues its Spring Tour and I am so grateful for the generous hosts this past week. Please swing by their sites, read their kind words and endorsements for Hope's Journey,and check out the other fun reviews and post that they share.

"Hope's Journey is an emotional rollercoaster told from both perspectives, which was refreshing and gave more light to the situation and the thoughts going through both of their heads. Not only the changes in their life journey, but the changes in those closest to them as well is depicted without any sugar-coating."

"I ended up reading this book in a day: I could not put it down and had to know how Alex and Sydney's stories ended. . . I would recommend Hope's Journey to fans of YA and fans of Christian fiction. It was a beautifully written book and I will definitely read more from Stephanie Worlton."

An interview including: What are five things I wished I'd known when I was younger?
What are my favorite ways to procrastinate?  
What Hope's Journey character would I most like to have dinner with? 
And... what are my top 5 favorite books, tv shows, and PET PEEVES? 

"While this book is told from the viewpoint of an LDS couple. Any family that teaches abstinence or wants to realistically deal with the issues of teen pregnancy will find this book to of great value."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Independence or Helicoptering?

Any parent of a teenager knows what I'm talking about: It's that tight-wire walk between allowing your kid enough space to make his/her own choices (even if they aren't good ones!) or being that ever-present, over-baring, stockerish, helicopter parent.

I'd like to believe that no parent wants to just throw their child out to the sharks (though, sadly, it happens far too often), but I'd also like to think that parents understand that need for independence and learning. How do you strike the balance? How do you support independence without giving up your parental responsibilities? How do you love, support, and teach without being overbearing? How do you teach your child to make good choices without ramming those choices down their throat?

Where is the balance?

I'm a big promoter of "raising adults." I don't want my children to be TAKERS of society, rather I have visions of them being CONTRIBUTORS. And, I don't think it's ever too early to start teaching natural consequences and skills that will further independence. It starts when my children enter kindergarten and they learn how to make their own lunch. Each year they gain new skills, including money management, nutrition, chores, personal laundry, etc.  By the time they hit highschool they're on to DRIVING, dating, and maybe even a job!

UGH, driving! The ultimate test of independence!

As much as I love raising independent, enabled children, I will admit I've reached a stage that has been hard for me. While I am grateful for a teenager that is responsible (most of the time, anyway), self-starting, and hardworking, his level of independence is hitting me hard. Giving him the freedom (aka trust) to make his own choices is at times excruciating. Watching him fall is even harder.

But is holding his hand the right solution? Should I be in his face and up in his "business" every minute of every day?  - I don't think so... but sometimes I just wanna do it anyway!

The hard fact is that at some point, every child needs their independence. I suppose that magic age is different for every child. For my son, it's been a slow progression starting when he was about 12. For one of my daughters it started when she was fresh out of the womb. Each child is different and I don't believe a single set of guidelines would sufficiently cover all four of my children's needs. What is right for one may not be right for another. And, thus we progress - parent's and children alike - towards their independence. Hopefully towards a future that finds them prepared and capable contributors.

And, more importantly, towards a future that finds them successfully hitting their personal targets... without mommy and daddy hovering over them, directing their aim, and pulling the trigger. Why? Because I cherish my independence and I love my children enough to want them to have it too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring tour stop updates - 3 Great Reviews!

Okay, I know I've gotten a bit behind with my updates for the Hope's Journey Spring Tour. This has been a busy week on the tour and I am so honored to be featured by each of the bloggers who've participated.

Monday, April 9, we were highlighted on Renae's Writespot"There is so much to be gained by reading this interesting, heartrending yet hopeful book," Renae wrote.

Tuesday, April 10, I was honored by a critique by a non-LDS reader in Canada. Thank you Kat at I write I read I review for sharing your point of view. "This is where [talking about the characters] Hope's Journey most vividly shined, the thing that gave it that "I can't put this down!" factor that made me stay up until the wee hours of the morning in order to finish it. (Seriously, I read the book in a day. I didn't just not want to stop, I *couldn't* stop. It drew me in that strongly.)"

Wed, April 11, our stop was: Why Not Because I Said So. "Hope's Journey is a book that I would happily share with any teenager within my circle of friends and family. The message of hope and forgiveness is something that all of us need to be reminded of."

A huge thanks to all the readers and reviewers for your support of Hope's Journey. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finding Hope Through the Atonement

Today I am honored to participate in the third annual LDS Writer Blogfest, and in doing so, to share a piece of my testimony with you. As the parameters of this opportunity are undefined, I've spent a lot of time trying to decide what topic to share, but time and time again, I find myself drawn to my testimony of the Savior and His Atonement.

Those of you who know me on a personal level, know that I'm a very independent person. The power to do things on my own is something I cherish to a fault. Because of this stubbornness, it took falling flat on my face before I realized my daily need for the Savior. Honestly, though those were some dark times in my life, I am grateful for the mistakes that forced me to humility. I am grateful for a Savior - a brother and friend - who advocates to the Father for me! This life is tough, we all have trials, temptations, and weakness, but because we have a Savior, we also have hope, purpose, and strength. Everything He did was to enrich our lives - not hinder them. I am grateful for my relationship with the Savior. I am especially grateful for His nonjudgmental, unconditional love. I'm honored to know Him and credit every success I have to that very real and enriching relationship. He suffered in Gethsemane - bled in excruciating pain from every pore - for me... and for you too! It is only through His atoning sacrifice that we can be whole.

If you've not already done so, I invite you to reach out and take His hand. He will not lead you astray, but instead, through Him you will find peace, acceptance, and joy! 

If you'd like to read the beautiful thoughts and testimonies of some of my fellow authors, please visit their blogs. 

Amanda Sowards (Easter Traditions), Angie Lofthouse (Avoiding Envy), Ben Spendlove (A Little Child Shall Lead Them), Britanny Larsen (Only Upon Principles of Righteousness), Cami Checketts (Service),
Charity Bradford ("Stop It"), Danyelle FergusonGiselle Abreu (Our Savior), Julia KeaniniJulie Coulter Bellon (Time to Prepare), Kasey Tross (Revelation and Inspiration), Kayeleen Hamblin (Laborers in the Vineyard), Kelly Bryson (Prophets, it takes one to know one), Krista Van Dolzer (How Grace Works), Laura Johnston (conference highlights), Melanie Standord (The Merciful Obtain Mercy), Rachelle ChristensenRebecca BellistonSierra Gardner

Friday, April 6, 2012

Maria Hoagland and a Review that "Gets It"!

"Now in case you're wondering, even though these two teenagers make one decision, I don't think that the author is saying that's the only correct decision to make in every situation.... Just as we shouldn’t judge Sydney for her choice, we shouldn’t judge those who offer their baby for adoption, either.... And that's what I liked about this book. It is about doing the best that we can, righting our wrongs, forgiveness, and above all, hope." Maria Hoagland, LDS Novelist

Today Hope's Journey is featured on the blog of Maria Hoagland, LDS Novelist, YW President, and mother of three teenagers. I appreciate her feedback from all three of these points of view... Visit Maria's blog to read her review, and while you're there take advantage of her knowledge about running and diabetes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Prom - A Chance for Teens (and, uh-hum, parents) to Exercise True Maturity

It's that time of year that every high school student anticipates - either with excitement or dread. I'm not talking about graduation, though I'm sure there is much joy and angst over that too - I'm talking about PROM.

Where we live our high schools host Junior Prom but you don't necessarily have to be a junior to partake of all the excitement. I know of seniors and even sophomores who attended our local Prom this past weekend. For me, the experience signified a few different emotions:

Pride: It was the first time I got to see my son in a tux! For those of you have yet to cross this bridge, I recommend you prepare yourself with some tissue. I'm not a crier, but in all honesty, it stirred some very real emotions in my heart to see my "baby boy" all dressed up. There's nothing that says "grown up" like a classy tuxedo!

Nostalgia:  By reason of obvious correlation, Prom makes me wax a bit nostalgic. Of course I remember my own Prom. In only my wildest dreams did I dare imagine that the handsome young man who escorted me to the Prom would actually become the handsome man who escorts me through every event in my life.

Fear: Okay, maybe fear is a bit strong, but honestly, I can't think of a better emotion. Let me explain...

A handful of years ago my husband and I took a little trip to Baltimore, MD. We arrived in the city late in the evening, exhausted from a long day of travel but excited for the adventures that lay ahead of us. Among other things, our agenda included a visit to the historical Fort McHenry (where the Star Spangled Banner was written!) and a tour of Washington DC. Unbeknownst to the both of us, however, we were about to have a Prom experience!  

A chill blew off the bay and onto my arms as I exited the rental car. As I rubbed warmth into my  extremities, I noticed several groups of teenagers lingering around the downtown hotel entrance - the boys in tuxedos the girls barely clad with small slices of fabric. How were they not freezing? Most of their shoulders were bare and many of their dresses were barely long enough to cover their back-ends. We didn't pay much mind to them as we rolled our luggage into the lobby, but the reality of the situation hit as soon as we tried to check-in. 

Though we had a reservation, the hotel had to scramble to find us a room. "It's Prom," the desk attendant shrugged as if that explained everything. Maybe it was the look of confusion on our faces or perhaps even our conservative looking attire, but she explained further. "Parent's rent their kids hotel rooms for Prom. We are overbooked." She may have even attached a "duh" to the end of her statement but I was too busy picking my chin up off the marble floor to have heard her.

So, here is were my fear comes in... Regardless of where we live, what religion we subscribe to, or our socioeconomic class, Prom seams to have earned the reputation as an event that excuses virtue, modesty, and ultimately chastity. It doesn't matter if you live in downtown Baltimore or rural Utah, to one extent or another, Prom is seen as an opportunity to exercise perceived maturity through drinking, drug use, or sexual activity.

I guess the big question is, WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT? Okay, this would be a "parent" question, because honestly, teens probably aren't asking that.  The question for teens is more likely, WHY DOES IT MATTER?... aka WHO CARES?

Let me attempt to answer both questions:

For Teens:  
Why does virtue, modesty, chastity, or physical cleanliness (uh-hum, drinking or drugs) matter? 

  • Let's start with drugs and alcohol. Would you hop in the passenger seat and give the Devil the keys to your car? Facetiousness aside, I think the honest answer is NO. So, why then, would you give him the "keys" to your body, your mind, and your actions? Why would you willingly hand over your independence to someone who's primary mission is to destroy you? Drugs and alcohol impede your independence.  
  • We hear the words "recreational use" thrown around a lot, but lets be honest here: Why would you want to surrender your control for even a minute? And, where do you draw the line between "recreation" and "addiction?" I've never met an addict who's life goal was to be an addict. I've also never met an addict who is happy with the state of his/her life. A couple quick examples: I knew a  kid who "recreationally" used various drugs. One night he thought he'd give Oxy a try... you know, just to see what it was like. Long story short, after a single dose, his body went into cardiac arrest and a 15 year old's body was lay to rest. I had a very close friend use, at first prescription, then eventually harder drugs to escape the stress of his home life. Eventually that crutch turned into recreational use, then addiction, and ultimately onto the death of a fun, smart, potential-filled person. He was only 19. I also know an adult who started "recreationally" using in high school. For a number of years her life went okay. She had a successful carrier, a happy marriage, and beautiful children... until, her addiction took over. Even though she was able to have a degree of success, it was short lived. Her drug use landed her in prison, took away her job and her family, and left her alone. These are just a few examples from my own personal experience. Unfortunately, I could list one example after the other of how drugs or alcohol have RUINED the lives of people I know and love! Ask yourself this: IS RECREATIONAL USE WORTH THE RISK?  

Lets move on.... 

  • Modesty - Let's face it, if you dress to draw attention to your body, you will draw attention to your body! Duh, right? But, maybe you should ask yourself what purpose that serves. Do you really think enticing someone to notice your body will actually make them notice the person inside? You are more than just a pretty face or an exposed neckline. You have purpose and value despite the physical appetites your body might induce. The way you dress actually serves as a means of advertising who you are. What does the way you dress say about you? And, what does it say about how you value yourself and what you are willing to do?   
  • Sex is not a RIGHT of adulthood. In fact, it's not a right at all. It is a PRIVILEGE reserved for the purpose of creating families and is an unselfish expression of love within marriage. When practiced outside of marriage, it serves one of three purposes: (1) fulfillment of your own selfish desire or (2) surrender to someone else's selfish desires, or (3) the temporary satisfaction of a craving for validation. There are very few times in life when SELFISHNESS, SURRENDER, and TEMPORARY FULFILLMENT aren't traits of weakness.  VIRTUE is a desired trait. It is, essentially, the pinnacle of moral excellence. As the parent to modesty and chastity, our virtue defines the type of person we are, the type of person we want to be, and the quality of the relationships we have with others.
  • Sex is more than physical pleasure. I recently read an article defending the "right" to casual sex. I'm not going to post a link to it, because, frankly, it made smoke shoot out my ears! The argument was, "Sex is nothing more than physical pleasure."  Why then, if it's nothing more than physical, do hearts get so easily broken by infidelity? If there is no emotional connection, then the purpose of sex is purely selfish, and we've already defined that selfishness is weakness.
  • So, what if I truly love someone? What if there is an emotional element?... To put it bluntly: If you love them, you will respect their virtue and they will respect yours. Sex is akin to letting a caged dog run free. Once you open the gate, you're going to have a heck of a time closing it again. Once you've surrendered your virginity, you cannot get it back. And, once you've experienced those pleasures, you will crave them. A dog who has run free is hard to put back in his cage. Keep those desires caged until you have a safe and appropriate "yard" for them to run in. The only "safe" place for sex - emotionally, physically (to avoid STDs, unplanned pregnancy, etc), and spiritually - is within the bonds of a healthy, loving marriage. 

The bottom line: If you really want to exercise your independence and maturity, you will not surrender your control to anyone or anything! 

For Parents: 
What can I do about it?... Or, perhaps: How do I keep my kid from being a statistic? 

  • Aside from ballgowns, tuxedos, corsages, boutineers, and limos, we need to make sure that our teens have a healthy supply of self-worth when they walk out the door. Self-worth can't be purchased for any price. It comes primarily from supportive, attentive, expectant parents. It is nurtured in a loving home. Respect your children, have open, honest conversations with them, and - no matter what they do - love them! It's a really simple recipe, but it works. Validate your children and they won't have to look elsewhere for it.
  • Be clear with what your guidelines are. Set your expectations and be prepared to explain your "whys." If you need suggestions for how to talk to your kids, click here for some tips. The LDS church puts out a fabulous pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth, that discusses drugs and alcohol, dating, dress, sexual purity, and a plethora of other topics. Whether you are Mormon or not, the information contained in this pamphlet may help you more clearly define what your personal guidelines and standards are. 

Here's to a happy and successful Prom season of being mature, responsible, and above all: exercising self-respect! If you don't do anything you might regret, hey, you just saved yourself a lot of regret!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Two fabulous reviews

This Spring Tour has been so much fun, I can't believe that I forgot to post yesterday's stop! Must be the sunshine and warm air - or the lack of sleep, but I'm sticking with the sunshine theory.

Yesterday Hope's Journey was featured by Aimee at 

And today I'm pleased to be hosted by Kat at

 To read their reviews and check out the other great books that have been featured there, please visit:
Getting Your Read On and Books and Sensibility.

And, if you haven't entered the giveaway yet, it takes just a minute and doesn't cost a dime! Just click here.

Thank you Aimee and Kat for reading Hope's Journey and featuring it on your wonderful blogs!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preserving the Past - A Review from Amber Packer

I am so excited about today's tour stop. If you're a scrapbooker or one of those crafty-types, it is likely you've heard of Amber Packer - and if her name doesn't ring a bell for you, perhaps the little company she's a part of, My Minds Eye, will.

Besides being an amazing designer and a regular feature on the TV show Good Things Utah, she recently joined my bookclub and has quickly become a dear friend of mine. I am honored that she took the time to read Hope's Journey and share her thoughts on it with all of her readers. Thank you Amber!

To learn more about Amber's projects and to read her take on Hope's Journey, visit her blog Preserving the Past.
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