Friday, October 23, 2015

Directors Notes - The story behind the story - All the Finer Things

The Story Behind the Story

I sat up with a shock. The morning sun had yet to pierce my room, yet as my eyes flung open I could feel the sweat forming on the back of my neck. Hyperventilation squeezed at my chest. I could see her face. Feel her pain. And, as the rain pelted her windshield, I could feel the love she had for her child.

What I wondered about was her love for herself.

I sat in the darkness of my room processing it all for a minute. Eventually my heartbeat slowed to a normal pace but not before I’d logged onto my laptop. Furiously my fingers began to rap at the keyboard.

Before sunrise, the character of Megan Hamilton was given life.

The abuse Megan suffered was only the start of her problem. Mistakenly she’d calculated the riches and possessions in her life as the measure of her worth. She defined her value by the price-tag on her jeans, the car she owned, and even the number of shoes in her closet.

It didn’t take long to realize that I’d met Megan. She’s the trendy girl at the mall, the beautiful young mother at the park, the perfect lady at church. Maybe you’ve met her a time or two too. Maybe she’s your neighbor. Maybe she’s your best friend. Maybe she’s you. From the outside Megan had everything. With a perfect husband, a flawless figure, and seemingly everything money could buy, how could her life be anything but rosy?

The truth of the matter is, I think every woman - to one degree or another – has a little bit of Megan inside her. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that money, or fame, or whatever our personal vice is will bring happiness. Sadly we often set our sights on things that we think will make us happy when, in fact, real peace and joy have nothing to do with the quantity or quality of “things” we manage to gather.

And that’s why I had to tell Megan’s story.

I’ve witnessed the horror of physical and mental abuse in the lives of women that I love. And it’s not always a spouse or a loved-one that deals that abuse. Often women are their own biggest oppressors. But I’ve also witnessed the strength and the beauty in those women as they’ve conquered their fears and moved past the oppression.

I couldn’t wait to introduce Megan to the people that would help her get to that place of peace, joy, and self-love. I wrote All the Finer Things for me, for you… and for every woman out there fighting to find the beauty within herself and the value of the simplest joys in life.

Stephanie Worlton is the author of All the Finer Things and Hope's Journey. She lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where she enjoys frequent opportunities to observe nature and feed her creative spirit. She spends her days designing, building, painting, drawing, landscaping, and snuggling with her dogs. She has her own collection of power tools, a plethora of camera equipment, and a passion for shoes. All the Finer Things is her third published work.To learn more about Stephanie and her other books, please visit her website.

Friday, September 25, 2015

You know, just building furniture, and stuff ;)

This is where a take a moment to brag about my awesome daughter. Most 18 year olds would never think of picking up a saw, but mine went one step further.... she helped me design and build a whole new custom piece of furniture. Like, the real-deal kind! 

We started with some wood and ended up with the perfect entertainment center for our room. And here's the photographic evidence :) 


Thursday, September 24, 2015

But it's Just a Little Sand... What a little hike taught me about life.

There is a beauty in nature that no human - regardless of his/her skill set or talents - can mimic or recreate. It is this beauty, coupled with the promise of adventure, that make us an outdoor kind of family. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, you will find us choosing fresh air and sunshine over pretty much any other activity. 

Needless to say, with so much experience and exposure, we are familiar with nature and very comfortable in many different terrains. Even so, every time we venture out, we needfully prepare for obstacles and challenges that might come our way. 

On a recent outing, we packed plenty of water, snacks, a whistle, rope, and a small first aid kit into our packs and headed to one of our favorite corners of the world. Though familiar with the area, we were going to hike a new trail, so before we left, we took time to familiarize ourselves with the map and made sure we had a functioning GPS. 

With our supplies in our pack and my camera charged and ready, we started on our journey, full of hope and wonder at what we might find on our way. 

Not far up the trail, the path turned very sandy. The sand was soft and fun to walk in. Our feet slid around a little and we all shared some laughs about it. Sure, a little sand got in our shoes, but not enough to be bothersome or to slow down our pace. 

As the ascent continued, so did the sand. I chose not to be overly bothered by it and simply adjusted my stride to accommodate. And, as one might expect, with each sinking step, my shoes filled more and more. 

Several minutes passed and the sand in my shoes settled into the tip of my sock. It felt a bit like "sand pillows" under my toes. Soft. Squishy even. But still not bothersome enough to stop our progress so I could do a clean out. I simply adjusted my stride and kept moving. 

Eventually, however, the nuance of the sand pillows started to become a nuisance. It wiggled away from my toes and began to rub at the side of my foot. Irritating. Chaffing. But, I reasoned, it'd be pointless to stop and clean it out, because surely around the next corner, there is going to be another sand hill and my shoes will just get full again
So, I ignored the problem and just kept hiking.

By the time I made it back to the bottom of the trailhead, my shoes and socks were completely loaded down with sand. And, my feet were sore.

With great relief, I slid my tired feet out of my shoes, grateful to at long last be free from the irritation, but perhaps too late to avoid some long term effects. 

- Like the sand in my shoes, we often have little things in our life that at first don't seem to be a big deal. Sometimes, in fact, they may seem to be amusing or entertaining. But, after long periods of dragging those little grits along with us, they can build. And, as they build, they start to move "deeper" into our soul. Because of the Savior's Atonement, we are free to stop at any time to dump that sand out and start fresh. So, why don't we? Why do feel like we need to carry that sand all the way to the end of the trail?

As with me on the mountain, I simply didn't want stop because it seemed unnecessary and even pointless. As soon as I'd clean them, my shoes would surely fill up again, so why bother? 

Part of human nature tells us that it's pointless to try to be better because, surely around the next corner, we will mess up again. But, we know that our Savior has provided a way for us to be clean - not just one time, but as many times as we need it. Just as there is no reason to walk around with sand in our shoes, there is no reason to carry around our burdens, our sins, our frustrations, our shortcomings, or our heartaches. We don't need to reach the end of the trail, chaffed and sore. He has provided a way for us to be clean, if only we will take the time.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole

We hosted a brunch a couple of weeks ago, serving upwards of 70 people. A crowd that size demanded a quick, easy main dish that could be prepared before hand. This Casserole was perfect. Make it the night before and simply bake in the morning.

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Casserole  (*Sugar free if your bread is sugar free)

8 slices of bread
1 1/2 lbs ground sausage, browned and drained
2 cups mild cheddar cheese, grated
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1. Butter bread. Remove crusts and cut into cubes.
2. Place bread in bottom of greased 9x13 pan.
3. Cover with cooked sausage, then top with grated cheese.
4. Beat eggs, milk, salt and dry mustard together. Pour over sausage/cheese.
5. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for additional 15 minutes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Call to Arms; Nations Fall - by Randy Lindsay

Joining the military had seemed like the right thing to do, but when war breaks out in Europe Robert wonders if he

hasn’t made the biggest mistake of his life. The Russian juggernaut grinds its way toward Italy, the country Robert has grown to love. As one of a handful of American soldiers in the area, he must find a way to help the ragged remnants of NATO’s forces to prevent any more European nations from falling.

While back home, the rest of the Williams family struggles to protect themselves in the face of an impending civil war. The very fabric of society continues to unravel, threatening the destruction of the Constitution and the American way of life.

As Vice President, Calvin McCord continues to defy both sides of the political divide in order to find a solution to the war in Europe, the ravaging of the United States,
and an espionage ring within the White House. 

Purchase your copy here: 

RANDY LINDSAY is a native of Arizona. He lives in Mesa with his wife, five of his nine children, and a hyper-active imagination. His wife calls him the “Storyman” because he sees everything as material for a good story. Randy’s first novel, The Gathering: End’s Beginning, was published in 2014. He has also been published in several anthologies during 2013-2014. If you want to find out more you can check him out at

I haven't had a lot of time for what I like to call "recreational" reading lately, but when I heard that the follow up to Randy Lindsay's The Gathering; End's Beginning  was complete, I gave it high enough priority to neglect some other needful things and take a day to kick back and read. 

And it was a day well spent. 

Once I picked  Call to Arms up, I couldn't put it down. Page after riveting page, Lindsay didn't miss a beat. Picking up the stories of the Williams family and Secretary of State/Vice President Calvin McCord right were the first book left off, it was fun to discover how the lives and imposing events were so intertwined with each other. The world as we know it continues to fall apart in such a believable way it will leave readers with much to think about: Political debauchery, global unrest, indeterminable weather patterns, and the hearts of man growing colder and colder by the minute. 

I am grateful I made time to read Call to Arms; Nations Fall and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves thought provoking entertainment subtly hidden in a smoothly written, easily believable story. 

If you're interested in my review of The Gathering; End's Beginining, you can find it here. And don't forget to check out the fun interview I did with Randy a while back while you are at it. 

Make sure to enter the Give Away below then swing on by Amazon and grab yourself a copy! 

August 12

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Four years. Four books. For the love of writing. - Happy Book Anniversary!

Four years ago today a door I never imagined existed swung open. At the time it seemed like a surreal dream... a dream I'd never dreamed to dream nor imagined to imagine. But it was real. Print on paper. Tangible. Real.

On July 11, 2011 my debut novel, Hope's Journey, was officially released to the world.

I remember agonizing over the details of my publishing contract. Writing wasn't something I'd ever pictured myself doing. I knew nothing of the business. But there I was, contract in hand. And, before I knew it, production was under way. A magical whirlwind blew through that open door and "poof" there was a book. My book.

Though words are my thing and I seem to have millions of them continuously fighting for stage time, there are no words to describe what its like seeing your name on the cover of a book for the very first time. Unbelievable doesn't begin to cover the range of emotions.  In fact, when I got my proof copy, I sat alone in my living room, gripping the binding tenderly. It was mine. And it was beautiful.

Little did I know that Hope's Journey would be the beginning of a life journey I never anticipated or planned for. Doors have been opened. Friendships have been made. Much learning has taken place. And, somehow I managed to add three other titles to my portfolio.

Four books in four years. Are you kidding me?
No, seriously, are you kidding me? Some days it still seems unreal. But if this is a dream, please don't pinch me. I'm just barely getting my feet wet. I've still got much to learn, many more friends to make, and a whole bunch of words still waiting for prime real-estate on a page.

Happy Anniversary, Sydney and Alex and Hope.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Diary of a Missionary Mom - T-minus 20

An interesting thing happened today. After weeks and weeks of counting up on his mission, today is the day we switched into COUNTDOWN mode.  

T-minus 20 weeks. 

And, with the change in counting, came an emotional surge I wasn't expecting. After those first few weeks and months of adjustment when he left, things settled into a state of normalcy around our house. Not that we didn't miss our missionary, but we settled into the realization that he is doing what he should be doing and it's okay for us to move forward while he's gone.

For us, there has been plenty of moving forward. 

We sold our swingset/playfort, tore up our garden boxes, then built new ones. We got a few new pieces of furniture and even temporarily converted our missionary's bedroom into a work office for my husband. We constructed built-ins around our fireplace. And we purchased not one but three new vehicles. (Okay, in fairness, only one of them is an "official" vehicle. We've gotten a new truck, a new fifth-wheel trailer, and a new side-by-side off-road vehicle, known as a RZR.)

And that doesn't include all the movies we've seen, the trips we've taken, or the family game nights we've shared. It also doesn't account for the weight we've gained or the weight we've lost. 

The fact is - life moves forward. It's a beautiful reality. The hands of time don't stop moving forward and neither should we. 

But, then it happens. You open the mailbox (or in my case, my email folder) and find a lovely letter from the Mission President. It is apparent that this man - who has served as a surrogate father to our son for the last several months - loves my boy. He knows him well. And, he will be sad to part ways with him on the scheduled date. And there it is. In black and white. The official date when I will get to see my boy again. 

And, honestly, that's where it gets real. All the missing and anticipating and looking forward, suddenly have a date attached. And all the motherly emotions that have been on reserve start to surface. 

In twenty weeks, I'm going to be reunited with my boy. 
I'm going to get to see him, and talk to him, and - oh my goodness! - embrace him. 

How great is my joy. And how tender is my heart. I am not a crier, but the anticipation has me near tears. 

T-minus 20 weeks. 

Let the countdown begin. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Moment of Clarity

It was dark and cold when I slid into the driver's seat with a million thoughts rushing through my mind. The first thought, of course, was that I needed to get some toasty back into my frozen fingers. I popped my key into the ignition, gave it a turn, then reached for the heater control. After cranking it up to it's highest setting, I realized that there was a quiet in my car that I wasn't used to. A quick glance at the dash confirmed that, indeed, my stereo was powered off. 

 Wierd, I thought, before remembering that I'd turned it off to make a call before exiting my car some four hours earlier. Intent to remedy the situation, I reached for the power button before having the very distinct - and uncharacteristic - thought to leave it off. 

No music in the car? The very idea was baffling. I love music. And my car is the only stage from which I can sing (ok, and the kitchen, but I wasn't in the kitchen, I was in the car!).

Reluctantly, I followed the feeling and began driving home with only my thoughts to keep me company. 

And that's when it happened. 

I had the most humbling, heart touching, moment of clarity that I've had in a very long time. It was as if the Lord stilled all the other crazy thoughts that continually cycle through my mind and gave me a brief window where I could focus on the one thing I needed to know... the one thing I've been searching for for several months. In that brief moment of clarity, I was shown the purpose behind what I'd been tasked to do and, even more than that, I was given the clarity on how to make it all come together. In that rare, quiet moment alone in my car, months of research and pondering, suddenly merged seamlessly into one, concise, specific idea. 

By the time I pulled into my driveway, droves of minions were wresting in my brain again, cramming my frontal lobe with more chaos than should be humanly possible. But even amongst the noise, my "moment" still lingered. 

And so it is, that in the coming days and weeks I will roll my plan into action. I will redefine my purpose, restate my motto, and move forward with the faith that I am headed in a fantastic direction. And, maybe, just maybe, I'll remember to keep seeking out more of those quiet moments. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Imagine. Plan. Execute. Conquer!

Once upon a time, somebody accused me of being bull-headed. While I am many things, obstinate is not one of them (*cough) ... unless of course you consider the little project the "experts" told me was impossible. 

Then I'm just plain DETERMINED.

If someone tells you that something can't be done, do it anyway.
It all started a few years ago when we were plotting out how to finish our game room. I had a lot of ideas - some admittedly crazier than others. We played around with the idea of a 50's retro decor then decided that a mountain rustic theme better fit the plethora of family heirlooms (ie: cowboy hats, riding gloves, vintage photos, etc.)  that we wanted to display. And so, the building began. 

We started with a fireplace, but we didn't want it to eat up too much space, so we only made it poke out from the wall 17". Next we added a built in bench that, while providing seating, also nicely hides the concrete foundation lip that pokes out from the framed wall.  - Then, we called the "experts." 

Not one, but two. And they both told me the same thing. 

"Lady, there ain't no way we can build built ins like you want."  

They threw around excuses like, "cabinets don't come in 17" depths" and "there's no way to use the space over the bench. It's just dead space." 

Clearly, the cabinet "experts" don't know how to think out of their pre-fab boxes. (Pun intended!) So, I decided to do it myself. But, because I hate to start a project I can't finish, it got put off and for a couple of years, we've been left staring at the empty space. 

And then it happened. At Christmas the staring game just got old. I told that wall I was going to finish it once and for all. I took my trusty 17 year old daughter (who is a brilliant design consultant!) to the hardware store and we picked up all the supplies we needed. 

We started with 2 unfinished pre-fab cabinets and with the help of a skill saw, some wood glue, and a hammer, we modified them from their original 24" depth to a new, perfectly fitting, 16". 

Then we added some decorative trim pieces to give it a more custom look. And built counter tops to match the mantel.

And then came the hard part. We tore apart 3 old, weathered pallets and lined the back of the book shelves with the boards.

Added more trim up on top. (FYI - Crown molding is my arch nemesis!)

Then gave it a good coat of primer and paint and distressing.  Last came the hardware.

And then, the thing that was impossible, not only became possible, it became complete!

Was it easy? No, but it wasn't terribly difficult either. Lesson learned: DON'T EVER LET SOMEONE TELL YOU THAT YOUR DREAMS AREN'T ACHIEVABLE! If you believe enough in your ideas, you can make them realities. Don't give up. Ever. 

Imagine. Plan. Execute. Conquer! 

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