Thursday, July 23, 2015

Faith, Patience, and Love Come at a Price

There have been a few things going on in my life lately that I am not at liberty to really discuss or reveal. They have been of an interpersonal relationship, miscommunications, accusations, and short temper nature. And it has really started to take its toll on me.
I feel like I spend much of my time walking on eggshells around certain people. I have to be on constant guard regarding what I say or do. And I have to be hyper-vigilant that I don't do anything that someone could take out of context to use against me.
It has been an uncomfortable and unhappy period in my life. Just to add salt to the wound, it is happening during what I had expected to be a fairly happy and enjoyable period. I never could have seen this coming or have been prepared for it. It's just one of those unexpected life twists that come and rock your entire world, possibly changing your course forever.
I wish I could explain more or give details. But I have no doubt that the person it involves would find the details and somehow use it against me, even if I only spoke straight facts with no emotion or bias.
I have had to work harder than I ever have before in my life to control my emotions and not react to a situation. It breaks my heart that we are all having to go through this. It all seems so unnecessary. I have learned I have levels of patience I never before imagined I had. And I have had to rely on faith in a way I never have needed to before.
I was struck this week with a new thought. In 2 Nephi 2:11 it reads, "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things..." This current period in my life I had expected to be easy and full of love for everyone involved. But now we are all forced to think twice, learn, and rely on faith. If it had been easy for all of us, we would not have grown from the experience. But with this unexpected force of opposition, we must find our own strength and will grow to be better people as we struggle to get through it.
I am trying to take this thought and be grateful for the difficulty, and rely on my faith and knowledge of the scriptures to get me through. I believe it has helped me immensely to find the patience and love I need to get through this, to know that there must needs be opposition in all things.
If all things have a reason or purpose for happening, and there must be opposition in all things, then I can endure this experience and be better for it in the end.
Love, faith, and patience don't come easy. They often come at a price and take a toll on a person. But that doesn't mean they aren't worth it in the end. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Haiti On My Mind

Haiti is on my mind tonight and has been a lot lately. Between releasing the Haley and Cam "Special Report" short story, which is loosely based on my experiences in Haiti, and this news story about busting child traffickers in Haiti and the Mardy family, many of my old memories of Haiti have surfaced. (Not to mention, a lot of conversations with my parents about the shots they need to get to serve their mission in Samoa, which are the same shots I had to get to go to Haiti and Cambodia.)

The news story today really struck a sad chord with me. I have met the Mardy family. I have heard Guesno Mardy speak first-hand about how his son was kidnapped out of the church building, and who he (correctly) suspected did it and why. I have been to one of his orphanages in Port-au-Prince, and helped work on a new, under construction, orphanage outside of town. (The picture above is of the orphanage. The picture below is of me making concrete to build an outside kitchen the orphanage could use until the inside one was functional.)

All of these memories are still emotional and tough to process. The things we saw and did were so far outside the realm of expected and normal that I know I'll never experience it all again. And with the exception of the friends I served with, there is no one who can relate to what we did there. (Unless another civilian knows what it feels like to disembark a plane in the dark and be told that there may or may not be snipers dialed in on you, even though you are only there to bring medical aid.)

I truly wish and pray that I could work in the field of anti-trafficking. My time as a volunteer in Haiti and Cambodia opened my eyes to a world I never could have imagined. I truly believe if people want to "strengthen the family" and "protect" the family, fighting trafficking and helping those the most at-risk for trafficking, is the best way to do that. I wish more people would investigate and educate themselves about where, why, and how often trafficking happens. You might be surprised to learn how close to home it happens. You don't have to be like me and fly off to developing countries to fight trafficking. You can fight it in your own neighborhoods. Because I can guarantee it happens in your town, regardless of how big or small it is.

I miss being of service to the world in such a measurable way. I often wonder if I am just a huge waste of space (single, unemployed, etc). I know I made the right choices when I chose not to serve in the Peace Corps, and I indefinitely postponed moving to China. But my desire to serve in those types of capacities has not lessened.

Now, to just figure out how to be of service again.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eating with the Pharisees

There is an interesting misconception prevalent throughout the world that we should love the sinner, but hate the sin. There is no place in the scriptures that this is written. In fact, the person who said it was the Catholic saint, St. Augustine. His Letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to "With love for mankind and hatred of sins." The phrase has become more famous as "love the sinner but hate the sin" or "hate the sin and not the sinner" (the latter appearing in Mohandas Gandhi’s 1929 autobiography).
In fact, Christ had an interesting way of handling the sinners. He ate with them, and never called them out as being sinners.
For instance, in Mark 2:15-17.
Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
Christ never said, “Hey look at me over here eating with the sinners.” He didn’t put out a sign or segregate the room saying “sinners eat here.” He never said there was anything wrong with knowing or eating with sinners.
It was the Pharisees who had a problem with the sinners. What Christ said was, “A healthy person doesn’t need a doctor. Likewise, a perfect person doesn’t need a Savior.”
Which makes me wonder – am I a sinner or a Pharisee?
In the story of the ten lepers we learn of the ten that were sent to cleanse themselves and be healed, and how only one returned to show thanks. Have you ever noticed that Christ didn’t condemn or punish or say something negative about the other nine? They were still healed. He didn’t take the blessings back when they failed to live up to expectations.
When the woman found Jesus eating in the Pharisee’s house, and washed his feet with her tears and hair, it wasn’t Christ that called her out as a sinner. It was the Pharisee. In fact the Pharisee said, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”
Some people take away from that story that Christ let the sinner woman serve him. That part is easy for me to accept. Christ set the example over and over again of loving the sinner.
What I find it interesting he was eating in the home of a Pharisee. Jesus was eating with one of his worst critics. One of the very people that would ultimately lead to His crucifixion.
That’s another interesting point. The Pharisees thought they knew everything and believed themselves to be righteous people. But they were the ones who crucified and condemned the son of God. Not the so-called sinners.
Again, I wonder, am I a sinner or a Pharisee?
We are all sinners. The Church is full of people who make mistakes. People will offend us daily. We will each sin today, yesterday, and tomorrow. And so will the person sitting next to us. It’s just a fact of life that no one is perfect. Alice in Wonderland may have believed six impossible things before breakfast, but the truth is, I sinned six times before breakfast. Probably. I wasn’t counting.
Knowing that someone is imperfect is no reason to withhold our love from our fellow Saints, neighbors, family, or friends. If Christ can eat with the Pharisees, and other sinners, we can surely show kindness to the sinners and offenders in our lives.
In our ranks, every day, there is someone who doesn’t come to church on Sunday, because they don’t feel loved by someone there. Whether or not the offense was ever intentional, doesn’t mean it wasn’t felt. Someone who believes in the gospel is afraid to come to church because they don’t feel loved.
How sad is that?
Are you showing enough love and forgiveness to everyone around you that every sinner can feel welcome in a house of worship?
In October 2006, Elder Bednar rather famously gave a General Conference talk entitled, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them.” In it he said, “When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”
He went on to say, “we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.”
There is a popular meme going around the internet right now that says, “Not going to church because there are hypocrites there is like not going to the gym because there are out of shape people there.” The church and the world are filled with imperfect people. Actually, that’s not true. The church isn’t full of imperfect people. There is always room for one more.
I can’t help but think of a line from a Billy Joel song, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners, than cry with the saints.” And while I know that line is meant to be flippant, he accidentally got it right. I’d rather laugh with the sinners, and let them know they are loved, than cry with the saints over the fact that there are sinners in this world. After all, there is no record of Jesus gathering his disciples around him to cry for the sinners*. 
Back over Easter I saw another interesting meme on Facebook. It was regarding the Holy Week leading up to Easter. It was a bit tongue in cheek, and yet very on point. It said, “If you really want to live like Christ did leading up to Easter, remember he spent that week overthrowing tables in the temple.”
Let’s go back to this concept of how to love sinners.
Matthew 21:12
 12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Christ ate and communed and walked and talked with sinners. But he did not let anyone make a mockery of the temple, the house of the Lord and prayer.
What I take away from this is that we all make mistakes, and the Lord will love us, and help heal us. But there is a line that you cannot cross, and that line is making a mockery of the word and house of the Lord.
Do you love and laugh with the sinners? Do you “cry with the saints?” Or are you a Pharisee that points out the sinners and sins of the world? Do you eat with the Pharisees in your life?
I’m going to make a more concerted effort to be Christ-like by loving the sinners and eating with (and forgiving) the Pharisees. If Jesus could eat in the home of his critics and condemners, I can learn to be more tolerant, forgiving, and accepting as well.

*I respectfully exclude the Garden of Gethsemane, which was a very different cry and prayer.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

My new site(s)!

I have been working on my other websites lately and would love your feedback. The above image is part of the front page of, my more professional site. It includes my writing samples and resume. I'm not completely crazy about the layout, but I've been messing with it for so long I'm not sure how else to do it!

I've also started to write again at This is where I share my political views and commentary, both biased and unbiased at times. I hope to revamp the overall appearance of the site very soon. (Right after I finish writing a book, going to girls camp, my brother's wedding, etc.)

Visit my sites and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Haley and Cam Prequel Story Now Available!

Finally! A new installment in the Haley and Cam series!
This 50 page prequel starts before "You Heard It Here First" and is a look into Haley's life before she met Cam. It's based on my personal experiences in Haiti, with a lot of truth, and a lot of fiction thrown in. Any characters with similarities to real persons living or dead are merely coincidental. Although I did name many of the characters after my real life cohorts that I served with.
The book cover is of me with one of the little "Haitian Princesses" I met in the pediatrics tent at Generale Hospital.
It was cathartic for me to use this short story as a way to tell my experiences in Haiti in a personal, yet objective and unemotional way. The story definitely comes from a special place in my heart and is an experience I've long wanted to share.
I hope you enjoy this standalone prequel. (You don't need to have read the other 2 books for this one to make sense.) And I hope it holds you over and gets you excited for the next book, "Coming Up Next" to be finished and released in the fall.

Get it for just 99 cents on Amazon today!
"Special Report: Prequel to the Haley & Cam Series" 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trekking On

The summer is flying by all too quickly for me. Last week was the youth pioneer trek reenactment. We took 61 teenagers out into the mountains and woods and pushed handcarts through the rain, heat, bugs, and mud. Trust me when I say we don't do this for the fun. It's all about the "experience."
It's hard work and it's hard on the body. But it is good for the soul.
I've always loved camping and hiking, so it isn't the worst thing in the world for me. I prepared myself physically by walking nearly 5 miles almost every day for 6 weeks in advance. I never suffered from a lack of stamina. (I was so proud of myself!) And my body held up pretty well. After the fact though, oh my word!, it hurts. The stiffness and soreness of walking 18 miles, and sleeping on the ground under a tarp in the rain does take some recovery. (So sore!!)
"Before" with 3 of my 4 Baby Ducks that went 
After - much stinkier, much dirtier, but still smiling
 About 2 weeks ago I had to make the very tough, very adult decision to not go to Europe with Clog America. If I had gone, I would have left today to fly to Zurich. It is breaking my heart to not be there. And it kills me a little inside each time I see a picture one of them posts from their trip.
It was a tough decision to make. I'm still trying to convince myself it was the right call. I couldn't justify going to Europe for 20 days and spending what money I have, when I don't know how long it will be until I have reliable income again. I'm heartbroken, but what can you do?

Settling into my life in Roanoke has been rough ride. Learning to live with my parents for the first time in 20 years has its ups and downs. Living with sister missionaries again has had its ups and downs. Learning to be someone's child, while also being the YW president, start my own business, write a book, and be the unofficial "third companion" to the missionaries has not been easy for me. Just learning how to balance being myself (an adult woman used to living on her own) and being someone's child has been tough. Juggling so many roles, not one of which I asked for or wanted, has really taken its toll on me.

But I'm happy enough. Things are okay. I could still really use a job, or for my business to come together and take off. Just having a routine and semblance of a normal life would be welcome at this point.

Bear with me. (Bare? Bear? I can never remember.) It's going to be a rocky road before it's a smooth one.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

My favorite picture from Awesome Con. This was the "Debate 2015: Which Superhero would Make the Best US President?" panel.

The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me. And it all came to a full stop 2 days ago.
I've been writing like a madwoman, getting books ready for Awesome Con. Then I went to Florida with girlfriends for a few days (where I was introduced to Escape Rooms, and fell in love with the concept, and you'll hear more about that in the future I think). And then came home, turned around, and went straight to DC for Awesome Con. Got through that, came home, did some work for a client, and BOOM, it's all done.
No more work.
No more jobs.
No more clients.
Now I just live in Roanoke with nothing to do.
Well, for a few days or weeks anyway. I may not have a paying job, but I'm still busy enough on my own. (I'd much rather have a paying job though!)
Me at Awesome Con. My shirt had a cape on it. I went straight from Awesome Con back to Roanoke without changing clothes. I wore this shirt for about 18 hours. There was a massive thunderstorm that caused me to pull off at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere southern VA for a while. Next thing I know people are pointing at me, and bringing their kids over to look at me, and one lady asked to take a selfie with me. I completely forgot I was wearing a cape. It caused quite the scene. 

I was "called" as the Young Women's President at church this week. If there are non-Mormons reading this, that means I am now the volunteer in charge of the 12-18 year old girls. I am responsible for making sure there is a teacher for the Sunday lessons, and an activity every week. And for getting the girls to youth conference and girls camp this summer. Among other things. And getting called in mid-June means hitting the ground running. We have youth conference in 2 weeks. I will come home from that, shower, nap, and get in a plane to fly to Europe for a few weeks. I come from Europe, where I will possibly have to go from the airport to girls camp. If I'm lucky I'll get to come home and sleep in my own bed for a day.
(It's going to be madness!)
I'm very excited and humbled for the chance to work with my Baby Ducks again. I've watched these girls grow up and love being a part of their lives. It's different this time because I'm the organization president, and not just one of the advisers. That's the intimidating part! When I think about how influential my YW leaders, particularly the presidents, were in my life, it humbles and overwhelms me that I now play that role in someone (15 someones) else's life. I suppose in many ways I was already playing that role for them, since I've been around since many of these girls were 12. But it's hitting me harder now that I'm the president.

So here I am...
Back in Roanoke, serving the Baby Ducks, and looking for a job.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? 

Friday, May 15, 2015

My latest love

Introducing the Squatty Potty

Yes, it's a little stool you put in front of your toilet and rest your feet on.
I'm not saying you  need it.
I'm just saying once you've used one, you will never want to go back.
Especially if you have lower gut issues.
Just saying.
Carry on. 

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Mother's Day! We love you, Mom!

Happy Mother's Day to Our Mom!!

Love, Erin Ann, Natalie, (Scott), and Steph

The following blog post is a mix of thoughts and pictures contributed by my sisters. Not all of the pictures are family pictures, but just images to represent some of our memories. These are not all my words or thoughts.

Mom never went to medical school but she is one darn good Witch Doctor.  What ever ailment you may have mom knows how to fix you right, and 9 times out of 10 it works.  Thank you, Mom, for always taking the time to keep us healthy.

She scored when she married the handsome Naval officer!

My mother might not realize this but she gave me a gift by teaching me to always see the gentle beauty and humor in little children.  She always gets a kick out of the cute things children do and say and she also points out the sweet innocent faces that might have gone unnoticed.
Baby Scotty

Baby Porter

Baby Dallin

Not so baby Dallin


Handsome Tell

Who doesn't love a nekkid toddler? 

First grandbaby - Tell

A fun memory I have of you is that if you saw a strange fruit you would always buy it and bring it home for us all to try together.  I always enjoyed that and I now continue that same fun tradition with my own kids. (From Natalie, pictures by Erin.) 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walmart Bestseller!

Take a good look, friends! There on the bottom row! Do you see it? It's small, but it's there! MY BOOK IS ON A WAL-MART BESTSELLER SHELF!

For an author it's a pretty big deal just to get into a Wal-Mart, because they don't sell all books, just bestsellers. But to be a bestseller of the bestsellers? I'll take it!

And it's coming just in time when I could use some promising good news.

I am moving this week back to Roanoke. The plan is to "make it as a writer." I'm scared. Completely terrified of how this will all go. Can I really make enough money to get by just writing? We're about to find out. 


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