August 23, 2014

Fiddle's for Republicans

The kids had the chance to play at a
Republican Fundraiser this week.
I can hardly believe how big they are getting.
As much as I am looking forward to the new school year,
I don't like thinking about them getting older.
I'm lucky to have such great kids.
 I love it that they are playing the violin like their dad.
There are a lot of battles fought over practice time,
intonation and lessons, but they always love performing.
And I get so much pleasure watching them share their talents.
 
 
 
 

August 22, 2014

My Soul Grew Two Sizes Reading Survivng Hitler

Every once in a while you get the chance to read a book that moves you to the core, a book that illuminates truth, displays life's best virtues amidst its worth flaws, and feeds your soul to the point of growth. Surviving Hitler is that book.

Surviving Hitler is the true story of Agnes and Gustav, both victims of a terrible war on humanity. One a Jew, and the other an SS Soldier, this book delivers a beautiful mixture of God's hand at work, incredible mortal courage, unthinkable human sacrifice and uplifting spiritual triumph, even amidst the ugliest reality of pride, greed, power, and death. Through the hand of the Lord, and unlikely situations, both survive the war, meet, marry and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During her stay in one of many concentration camps Agnes records,

"I was overwhelmed with gratitude that such greatness and nobility survived in the most degraded situation. I felt that the eternal spirit, which exist is in all people, could be accessible despite the circumstances. Maybe there was still hope for the world, if some could remain untouched and pure in the midst of all the insanity. I learned that the hope that the world will be a place where all people will love their neighbors and themselves is alive as long as there is one person alive practicing it on the earth."

Another of my favorite accounts is a story that Agnes shares towards the end of the war.

"From inside the fence, lots of men still begged for water, and we continued to help them as best we could. Once while running from the hole in the fence back to the truck, I stepped on an arm by a ditch. At first I thought I had stepped on a dead man but then heard moaning. I looked down and saw the man looking at me, stirring something in side me to the marrow. I fell down to my knees, lifted his head, and poured a few drops of water into his mouth. He mumbled in Hungarian, "May Abraham, our Father, bless you." I saw that he was close to death and shouted in his ear that we were liberated, to which he nodded and said, "Thank God!" He looked at me and took one last breath. My last favor to him was to close his eyes so he wouldn't have to stare out into nothing like so many other corpses did. In wet clothes, I continued to alternately walk and run between the tanker and the hole in the fence. Suddenly I thought I heard a voice saying, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Mathew 25:40). I looked around to see who had quoted the Bible but saw no one."


Photo Courtesy of LDSliving

I think the thing that I loved most about this book was the way that while reading it you could actually see the Lord guiding their lives, protecting them from harms way, and strengthening them through their journey. My heart is forever changed thanks to these two brave humans. Two individuals that lit up all of their surroundings, on their very darkest journey, with their faith and humanity. The aftermath of the war was not easy for Agnes and Gustav, and after fighting for so many years to Survive Hitler it definitely took its toll on these two. But the miracle is in the choice that they both deliberately decided not to harbor hate, but to spread love.

To Agnes and Gustav: It is a privilege to know your story. If I could I would hug you both so tight and tell you thank you for blessing my life through sharing yours.

Available at Deseret Book.com


July 29, 2014

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen

This summer took an unexpected twist when the 5-year old broke his femur. I didn't have much time to read and I had already agreed to write a book review on this book. My friend Rachel Hanson agreed to read it and write it for me. The following is her review of the book.

~ ~ ~

*Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a nice easy read for someone looking for a simple, get out of life kind of book. It had intrigue and a bit of romance. It was a bit predictable in some ways, but it also ended with a twist, making it more fascinating. To be honest, I had a hard time getting into the book, it felt a little slow going, but about 1/3 of the way through  I was ready to finish it and wanted to know how it ended. I also wanted more information about Dallas’ cut off finger. I have a hunch as to why it’s in there, but I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone reading this review. Although I would have liked a conclusion to that detail instead of bringing it up like it’s something important, but never wrapping it up. I would recommend Diamond Rings are Deadly Things as a simple book that doesn’t take much thought to read if you’re looking for a relaxing time.

~ ~ ~

Thank you Rachel for helping me out. I'm glad you liked the book.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she is especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adris world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adris impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success--that is, until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. The race is to uncover a secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before Adri becomes the next victim. With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills. Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a romantic suspense novel that will keep you turning pages long into the night.


Purchase your copy paper copy HERE or eBook copy HERE.

July 6, 2014

The Standard Of Truth / El Estandar De La Verdad ~ Free Printable



One of my favorite memorized quotes is this one by the prophet Joseph Smith. As a missionary I found great power, strength and faith reciting it daily. I love it dearly and feel strongly that knowing it by heart has greatly blessed my life.

I've made some simply subway art to help you memorize it too.

Free Printables.





May 16, 2014

Discover America: From Sea to Shining Sea


I think this new children's book is so sweet and patriotic.  

"Follow the patriotic journey of a little red balloon as it makes its way from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States. Accompanied by the words of one of Americas most beloved anthems America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea shows the diversity and beauty of our great country through the eyes of our nations children. To add an interactive experience, kids all across the United States will be able to go online to send their own balloons on their own journey." 
 (From the Press Release) 

I found Julie Olson's illustrations magical. I love water color (wish I was more talented, but my last attempt scarred me for life). Parts of Katharine Lee Bates poem "America the Beautiful" is recited on each page as this little red balloon makes it's way across our great America. My kids loved this book. Especially the little ones.


 Make sure to visit her educational interactive website for free printable and free lesson plans.


  • Send your own virtual balloon to friends or family members, who can then send it on.
  • Discover and track on the website your balloon's progress as it floats across the United States.
  • Discover facts for fun or for school reports by clicking on each state.
  • Print out coloring pages from the website for each state's flag,flower, and bird.
  • Discover what you know about the book and other places in the United States by taking the online quiz.
  • Discover on the website a video of the illustrator, Julie Olson, painting and talking about the book.





May 5, 2014

Read This Book: Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons



You've read the title, and now you're scratching your head, wondering if this book is for real, right?

It is. Yes, the authors are bona fide Mormons. And hilarious, too! They call themselves Sistas in Zion.  (Ensign Peak Press Release)

FACEBOOK / WEBSITE / TWITTER

Stop scratching your head and read this book. I'm totally serious. Whether you are white or black, Catholic or Presbyterian, this book is for you.

I was laughing out loud from the very first page. These women are hilarious, clever, witty and smart. They are confident in themselves and in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Don't be surprised if you can't put the book down once you have started. It is made up of short, sweet and poignant journal entries which can be devoured one or twenty at a time. I loved their "urban dictionary" which came in handy. I also loved their honesty about life and its choices and consequences. These women are real. They tell it how it is. They don't hold anything back...they are 100% legit. 

If I had to chose my favorite story they shared it would either have to be the one about Mrs. Platt, the shoplifter, or the Prayer Warrior. I really loved them all. 

Here is a selfie of me, a perfect stranger  and my copy of Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons. I almost read the entire book on my flight last weekend. And I would have if I read faster than my 4th grader ;), but I also had to stop and ponder the new incites I received while reading this book.



Make sure to pick up your own copy!

Deseret Book / Amazon

And here is a snipped from their website on their About Us page. Enjoy!

"Are Mormons funny? Oh, Heavens Yes!  We’re just two Sistas with testimonies in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We love to laugh and we think Mormons are hilarious, if we do say so ourselves. We don’t always agree with one another, but we always “Love One Another.” We are truly blessed to have one another as sisters, friends and SISTAS IN ZION."

April 22, 2014

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Tops Two Billboard Music Charts

PRESS RELEASE: The latest album by the celebrated Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square hit #1 in two categories on the Billboard Top 100 Charts this week. He Is Risen topped the Classical Traditional and Current Classical Total charts.

The album, which released April 1, is the most recent from the Choir and Orchestra and features heartwarming and uplifting hymns like “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “In The Garden” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

He Is Risen is available in both digital and CD formats in Deseret Book stores, on iTunes and desertbook.com and in other retailers.



###
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is comprised of 360 volunteer voices and serves as a musical ambassador for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Orchestra at Temple Square is a 150-member, all-volunteer symphony orchestra organized in 1999 as a companion ensemble.   The Choir’s work has garnered a Grammy award, 2 Emmy awards plus 5 gold and 2 platinum albums.  Its music transcends cultural and generational boundaries to unite people through music around the world.  Follow the Choir on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

The Billboard charts are the American music industry standard popularity charts issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play, streaming online, and sales; new charts are compiled and officially released to the public by Billboard on Thursday.

April 10, 2014

Getting Kids (and Adults) to Focus During the Sacrament



I can't possibly be the only one that has become distracted during the sacrament.

You know, all of a sudden you notice the Priests stand up and the Deacons start walking forward to return their sacrament trays and you scratch your head trying to remember if you ever even once thought about Jesus Christ during that special Ordinance.

I mean sometimes I really am bouncing a crying child, or trying to keep a kid from spitting on the kids in front of us...but sometimes there is no one to blame for my distractions but myself.

Taking the sacrament requires preparation and concentration, and it isn't always the children that are having a hard time focusing on Jesus Christ and what the sacrament is really about. It is the adults too.

I found myself getting just as much as my kids out of John Bytheway's new Children's book.

The Sacrament, tells the story of a young boy who travels to visit his Grandpa's house for the weekend and how his experience changes the way he thinks about the importance of the sacrament. His Grandpa shares his experience as a youth when he noticed the complacent behavior of others gathered in the chapel to partake of the sacrament.

There were hundreds in the chapel but the worshipers were few, 

And I couldn't help but wonder what the Lord Himself would do-

Yes, I couldn't help but wonder what the Lord Himself would say

Should He walk into the chapel  while His Saints behaved this way;

Would His loving eyes be saddened; would His countenance be grim

While He there observed and listened to a service meant for Him?


I've read this book to my children several times and they love the illustrations and the message. The pages seem familiar as they also weekly sit through sacrament meeting. I've discussed the Symbols of the Sacrament with them. This can be easily done using the resource in the back of the book. It discusses the symbols associated with the table, the cloth, the hymn, the bread, the water, kneeling to pray, and the right hand. This book is a great way to deepen your children's understanding of the sacrament, its sacredness and its cleansing power.






John Bytheway is an instructor at the Brigham Young University Salt Lake Center. He served his mission in the Philippines and earned a master’s degree in Religious Education at BYU. He has published dozens of books and audio programs and lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Kimberly, and their six children.
Nathan Pinnock studied at Utah State University, the University of Utah, and Atelier LeSueur in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at Brigham Young University. Between years of school, Nate served a mission in Frankfurt, Germany. He illustrated books and magazines for fifteen years and now spreads his time between his illustration, sculpture, fine art, and teaching. He is a creator. His paintings and books can be found in galleries, businesses, and homes across America. Nate lives in Holladay with his wife, Alison, and kids.



April 1, 2014

Fantasy General Conference - Free Printable

This was a huge hit last year so we are going to play this game again as a family for this weekends General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The last time the winner was Dylan and he got a Super Date with Scott.

I was hoping to win;)

But seriously the kids loved it and so did Scott!

I lost big time so I'm due.



Let me know if you guys have fun playing this game.

There is a list of current General Authorities Here.

Curious about General Conference?  Watch this video.


March 19, 2014

Basketball Skillz

Dylan is growing so fast. He is turning into such a cute, handsome and happy young man. (Well except for when he doesn't feel like practicing his violin, and then I assure you he is NOT happy.)

Dylan is so passionate about Basketball. I can't believe how far he has come. 18 months ago he couldn't even dribble, and now he is the leading scorer in 95% of his games. He has worked so hard. It is amazing to see what hard work, discipline and practice can do. He went from being the worst player on his team and not contributing anything, to being the best player on his team. He played in two leagues over the Winter. One was a local Blackfoot League and one was a traveling team that he was recruited for.  We have so much fun attending his basketball games and cheering for him.

This team was almost undefeated in the Idaho Falls League. They only lost 1 game and it was when they were missing 2 players and it was to a team that they had previously beat.

Dylan loves his Red Nike's that Santa Claus brought him and he is really into long black socks. Dylan was the tallest player on his 4th grade team. Dylan shot about 50% for free throws this year.

This shot kills me. I'm so nervous that there is going to be hair growing from that armpit in the near future.
His best record this season was scoring 25 points in a game... but he made the most money when his papa came to town and promised to give him $10.00 if he scored 10 points. Dylan didn't miss a shot that game and scored 22 points and walked away with $20.00. That was pretty fun, especially because it was the day of Kate's baptism and all four of his grandparents were there to see him play.

A picture taken right after Dylan won $20.00 off of papa.

It is pretty fun watching your kids get bigger. I love you Dylan and I'm so proud of you.


March 18, 2014

Power To Become by David A. Bednar

Finally, the 3rd book in David A. Bednar's Trilogy is now available.

Power To Become: Spiritual patterns for pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ. 

Have you had a chance to read his other two books?

Increase In Learning: Spiritual patterns for obtaining your own answers.
Act In Doctrine: Spiritual patterns for turning from self to the Savior.

Are you are like my husband who loves these books so much he reads them slowly, digesting each little section a bite at a time? If you haven't had the chance to read these books I strongly suggest you do. They are also available as e-books which might work better financially for you.

Power To Become helps us discover how we can press forward towards Christ in a modern world. It offers necessary tools that we can use to invite the eternal blessings of the Atonement, personal peace, and priesthood ordinances into our lives.

Elder Bednar teaches us that,

Each of us can invite the Holy Ghost to help us assess "things as they really are" (Jacob 4:13) about our progress along the pathway of covenants, obedience, and service. He will teach us plainly and directly about the honesty of our hearts, about the contrite nature of our spirits, and about our willingness to observe our covenants by sacrifice, even every sacrifice which the Lord shall command. Being accepted of the Lord certainly is a key element in the affirmation that the course we are pursuing in this life is in accordance with God's holy mind and will. And such assurance can be received as we press forward in our mortal journey on the pathway to perfection. 
Oh, isn't that wonderful. Having the gift of the Holy Ghost is so important.


I recommend this book. I strongly recommend all of these books. If I had to choose one, I would start with the first in the Trilogy, but you can not go wrong with any of them. These books make an excellent addition to any library and would be a great gift for a friend.

Purchase at Deseret BookAmazon

March 5, 2014

Longing for Home: Hope Springs, by Sarah M. Eden

  *The following book review is written by my dear cousin Lisa McCarthur . A huge thank you to Lisa for helping me out!.



Longing for Home: Hope Springs is the anticipated sequel to Sarah Eden's Longing for Home.  As we read, we see Katie continue to struggle between her feelings for Tavish and Joseph.  Should she choose Tavish, who makes her feel carefree, or should she choose Joseph, who listens to her and gives her the courage to face life's difficulties? Not only is Katie torn by her feelings for both men, she is caught in the middle of the conflict between the Irish Road and the Red Road, when she goes to work for Mr. Johnson at the mercantile in an effort to stabilize prices for the Irish residents of Hope Springs.   All the while, Katie grows closer to Joseph and his two daughters.  As her love for them grows, she realizes she will do anything to protect Hope Springs and her future. Tensions reach their boiling point and lives are lost on both sides of the conflict.  It is only through all the heartache that Katie finally comes to a decision, heals the hurt of the past, and brokers the peace essential to her future in Hope Springs. 

Longing for Home: Hope Springs is a must read that will leave the reader cheering Katie on in her fight for her future.

Displaying Hope Springs tour banner.jpg


Displaying LongingforHome_HopeSprings.jpg

February 28, 2014

Living in the Eleventh Hour by Robert L. Millet

It is no secret that Robert Millet is my very favorite Gospel Scholar. I love the way he writes, I love the way he teaches, I love the way he engages the reader and makes very difficult topics easy to comprehend and understand. I love how much study he has done in his lifetime and how he encourages others to study the Scriptures and the Gospel for themselves.

This book focuses on what we can do to prepare for the return of the Savior. Our Savior. I know at times this can seem scary and the unknown can make us feel uncertain. This book helps remind us that if we are prepared and ready we have no need to fear, we can truly anticipate the signs of his coming and his arrival.

I loved the chapter Men and Women of Destiny. He reminds us that we have personal responsibilities in preparing. We are living in the Eleventh Hour. "There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. After reading this book I feel so inspired to do my part.

"Living in the Eleventh Hour Clearly teaches us what the scriptures as well as Latter-day prophets tell us about the future. It will not only help Latter-day Saints read the signs of the times concerning the last days but also remind us of our personal responsibilities as we prepare ourselves and the world for the much-anticipated return of Christ. Filled with encouraging quotes from Church leaders, insightful scriptures, and personal stories from the author, this timely book will inspire readers to live today as if He were coming tomorrow."

I strongly recommend this book.

Leave a comment here and one lucky reader will get their own copy of Living in the Eleventh Hour.

You can purchase your own copy Here / Here

February 21, 2014

In Tune by Gerald N. Lund & Giveaway

For any parent raising a budding musician, the word's "In Tune" are probably used very frequently. 

I know at my house they are.

When the kids are out of tune, everybody in the house knows it. And it can be pretty uncomfortable.

I thought about this analogy as I was reading Gerald N. Lund's new book In Tune.

Scott practicing with Dylan & Kate.

This new book focuses on the Role that the Spirit plays in Teaching and Learning.

As someone who has spent countless hours in church meetings being taught gospel principles, I can appreciate a teacher who follows the spirits direction when presenting a message. I also know that when I am doing my part to be a willing participant and learning by the spirit, I am able to be taught the things that the Lord would have me know. It definitely takes two willing participants for the spirit to convey the messages that the Lord would have us hear.

Lund is an experienced author has written another wonderful book. I found this book to be organized perfectly. It really helps you gain an idea of what the Lord expects of us when we are teaching and how the Holy Ghost functions in teaching the message.

I strongly recommend this book. I think this book is a wonderful resource for everyone. I feel that many of the lessons will actually help me be a better parent. And teaching my children is my most important responsibility.

From the Book Jacket:
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are all teachers. Not only do we have a glorious mandate to "teach all nations" the gospel (Matthew 28:19), we also have numerous charges to "teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom" (D&C 88:77). In formal and informal settings, as parents or leaders or friends, we are constantly teaching and learning.
"The Lord has given the responsibility to save His children to teachers," writes Elder Lund. "The charge is clear. It is specific. It is inspiring. And, gratefully, the Lord blesses us greatly when we strive to carry out His will."

Elder Gerald N. Lund received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in sociology from Brigham Young University. He also did extensive graduate work in New Testament studies at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, California, and studies Hebrew at the University of Judaism in Hollywood, California.

During his thirty-five years in the Church Educational System, the author served as a seminary teacher, an institute teacher and director, a curriculum writer, director of college curriculum, and zone administrator. His Church callings have included serving as stake president, bishop, and teacher. Elder Lund served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 2002 to 2008.

Elder Lund is a prolific author; his novels include the Work and the Glory series, the Kingdom and the Crown trilogy, Fire of the Covenant, and The Undaunted. He has also written several books on gospel topics, including Hearing the Voice of the Lord and Divine Signatures.

Purchase at Deseret Book / Amazon
Visit my FACEBOOK PAGE to win a Free Copy!

February 17, 2014

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard & Giveaway!

*GIVEAWAY!!! Visit my Facebook page and leave a comment to enter to win a signed copy of Porcelain Keys. Thanks Sarah! And for more chances to win this book you can enter Sarah's giveaway over here!!!

Finally, a squeaky clean Young Adult Romance Novel!

I don't even want to pick up a book anymore if I don't know for certain that it isn't filled with trash. Like swearing, pornographic imagery, sex, murder, evil. It can be pretty hard to find anything decent to read with my strict personal policy. This book really passed my test.

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned.

My Review: Using beautiful imagery through music, Beard crafts this sad tale of broken hearts healing. This book, like notes written out on a page one by one, starts out a melody and crescendo's into this incredibly orchestrated love story, with sadness and hurt pounding through the characters as love and forgiveness ring through in the end.

I really liked this book. It was charming, interesting, sad, sweet and unpredictable. The writing was flawless and fresh, I was able to completely lose myself in the pages. I couldn't believe that this was Sarah Beards first novel. I found myself torn by the characters, rooting for each of them for different reasons. I thought that Beard was able to really bring out the human flaws and honesty in each of the characters which can be really hard to do.

Here is the book trailer if you want to watch it.



About Sarah Beard: Sarah Beard has a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor, a hopeless romantic and an amateur musician. She lives with her husband and children in Salt Lake CityUtah. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @authorsarahb, or at facebook.com/authorsarahbeard. Her website is sarahbeard.com.