Friday, April 29, 2011

Still-Standing Stars


I loved a comment my friend, Laura, made at our book study last Tuesday. We're both writers, and we discussed the motives for publishing. "I'm just not a competitive person," I said. "So many writers are struggling to get on the Best Seller List, but even those that do, their book is a flash in the pan. Most end up in remainders the next year, forgotten. And so the top authors have to produce a book just about every year to maintain their status and paychecks.

"What if," I suggested, "instead of writing horizontally--for strangers currently living across the globe--we write for a vertical audience--for our children, and their children, and their children, going deep through time. Look how many children Abraham has! Families are eternal, and so in just a matter of generations we'll be on our loved ones' Best Seller List. Wouldn't that be true success?

Laura then said, "It's like the difference between shooting stars that streaks across the sky and are burned up in an instant, and the stars that are always in the sky shining for us. One is brilliant and eye-catching, but the other is steady, constant."

Her comment is especially significant to me because my name is Connie, which is derived from the Latin word Constant (faithful, devoted, enduring). One of my favorite lines from a hymn, "Reverently and Meekly Now," says, ". . . . and be constant unto me that thy Savior I may be."

As I've considered her comment, I've thought of the countless mariners and travelers who've depended on the constant stars to guide them.

So we can enjoy the flash in the pan (or across the sky) events, books, movies, technologies . . . but I wonder if it isn't the "common" people and moments that are the light of our lives. And if, like light pollution that prevents us from seeing the full glory of the steady stars, we fail to see each other, our own loved ones,  for all the celebrity glare and entertainment streaking around us.

Remember Abraham, (unto whom I saidst), I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
Best Seller List or  no, we are all stars in Heavenly Father's book. We were made to shine.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Character Study of God

Laura and I went to the Mountain of Authors conference yesterday. Reflecting this morning on the writing craft and specifically character development, I confess I prayed, "Father, in character study Thou would be flat."

OK, in my defense, in order to create "rounded" and in-depth characters an author must build in personality traits, histories, strengths and weaknesses, and so forth. In a poem I wrote thirty years ago I penned the thought, "What do I know of Thee except Thou art a God?"

But no sooner did this reoccurring thought escape my mind this morning than a humbling realization took its place. Didn't the Savior say, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father"? He made it crystal clear that He did nothing but what the Father told Him to do and say.

So in a figurative but also a literal sense, didn't Heavenly Father unmask Himself in the person of His Son? Wouldn't the study of the life of the Savior  also be a study of the Father?  And if we went one step further in this supposition, if we did a character study of the Savior wouldn't we see ourselves as His daughters, and thus be doing and saying the things He would have us do? Wouldn't following the Savior mean literally following Him into the Father's very arms?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Diamonds in the Dust

It's said that a person can be a diamond in the rough, but I've also found that diamonds can be discovered in everyday dust. The scriptures tell us that:
  . . . the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Well, it doesn't take long before books begin to smell like dust, and sometimes, between the common paper pages, I find something that catches my eye; that sparkles and sparks something inside me; something that makes me want to shine. (And these are the books I buy, and I call them my book "treasures.")

For me, the gems are nearly always gospel related. Am I a fanatic? No. I'm homesick.  I long for every glimpse of every facet of my Beloved Father, and I find Him in everything around me.

I thought I share yesterday's "find" with you:

"The Heart's Code" --Paul Pearsall

(This nonfiction book asserts the possibility that ". . . the heart thinks and feels, that our cells remember, and that there is a subtle yet very powerful and pervasive form of energy that connects every thing and every person." My take is that this is a generic, scientific approach to the soul, or spirit of man--the part that wasn't formed out of the dust; the part that is the literal son and daughter of God. I find the premise fascinating and worth musing upon. But here a few of the gems I really liked.)

pg. 4, ". . . I have little doubt that the heart is the major energy center of my body and a conveyor of a code that represents my soul."

pg. 25, ". . . The brain seems to want to 'have a blast' while the heart needs to 'have a bond.'"

pg. 30, ". . . By reflecting on the nature of the energy the heart seems to be sending through us and resonating out to other hearts, we can tap the force that bonds us as the created with the Creator."

pg. 35, 36, ". . . The brain tends to consider itself a very powerful and clever controller of other brains and very 'self-effective.' The heart knows 'you can't change people, but you can change how you think about people.'" (The character of Atticus in the book To Kill a Mockingbird embodies this very statement.)

There is a fantastic, scientific take on what he calls the myth of casual sex. It's on page 177-179, and everyone against the wait-until-you're-married discipline should read it. I'd include it here, but I'm afraid I've already included too much--authors ought to be very respectful of other authors' rights.

Please post any diamonds you discover. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love "sparklies" (to quote the raven in The Secret of NIMH).

In an very darkening world, now is the time for every one of us to shine!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still Laughing

I love my CTR 5 class! Those little five year old kids are such a hoot! I am so grateful the things they teach me. Like Art Linkletter who wrote "Children Say the Darnedest Things," I am going to start compiling my own book of the precious and hilarious things that come out of their mouths.

   During Sharing Time, poor little Faith was bored. She had a very miniature book of scriptures which she thumbed through using her nose. Up and down, up and down, she fanned those pages over the tip of her nose. Suddenly she stopped, sat bolt upright, looked at me with utter astonishment, and whispered, "Teacher! The scriptures smell like bacon!"

   For their lesson on baptism, I took the class on a field trip to the bishop's office. They walked like little cadets through the chapel and to his office, where they no longer acted like cadets. Even so, the bishop, who's so adorable with children, brightened his face and started teaching them about baptism.
      "When you're baptized, your daddies will take you down all the way under the water, and then bring you up again. Do you know why we do this?"
      Faith leaped up and shouted, "So we can breathe!"

 From little Max who loves to take off his shoes and run his fingers through my necklaces, to Christian who loves the number 99 ("I'm having a birthday in 99 days! . . . We're going to the mountains in 99 from now! . . . I have 99 at home!"), to adorable Zhenja who's the prettiest-in-pink girl I've ever seen and has better manners than most adults (including myself), and to little Faith's wit, I've learned more from these little people than I have from years of talks. They have taught me what my Savior meant when he said,

 Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Letters Home

Over the course of my forty-nine years, I have written many stories, published two, and have three more manuscripts with an agent. And yet they are not my most prized words. If my house were burning down (and my family was safe--including the guinea pigs) what would I grab and take with me? My journals, my letters "Home." I wish for everyone to have such a Sinai, such a sacred grove, such a meeting place as I have had with my Father in the pages of my journal, which have become, as it were, the very tissues of my heart.

If you choose to venture here, please ". . . put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5).

(This blog is really intended for a mother to stay connected with her daughters who are far away, for a sister who sorely misses her all-but-twin, and to some choice friends.)