Thursday, June 26, 2014

Serving in the Mormon Church

I started serving in my church when I was 13. I was asked to play the piano for primary (the organization for children under the age of 13.) I said yes because it meant I didn’t have to attend Sunday School, and because saying yes was what I was taught to do.

Serving in the church is one of my favorite things about being a Mormon. I don’t know if very many other religions have as many service opportunities as the Mormon Church provides. My best friend and my high school boyfriend were both devout Catholics and I know they weren’t given assignments. My running partner for ten years was a practicing Lutheran and president of her congregation’s council (I believe that was her official title) and I know her involvement in her church required less time than I put into mine. In fact, I often told my husband that I was going to convert to the Lutheran faith so that I could go to church on just Sundays, listen to a choir and eat donuts after services. I’m not bragging, and I’m not disparaging any faith including my own, I’m just trying to state my own, admittedly limited, experience.

 Because we have a lay ministry, “callings” in the Mormon Church come and go. We’re asked to serve in all sorts of various capacities by our local leaders. Each calling has a beginning and ending, and its own unique set of challenges. As I said, I started playing the piano in church when I was a girl. I did this off and on for years. (In fact, my stepmother had a music calling for 70 years.) And I was okay with it.
Until I hit middle age and my eye sight began to go.
Playing the piano or organ requires that I look at the music, the music director and, sometimes—only don’t tell Sister Baird, my first piano teacher—the instrument. And, not to state the obvious, all of those are at different distances. Which meant that I had focus on one to the other…which meant that when I hit middle age I needed to buy a hymnal with REALLY LARGE print. So I went to the church book store with my friend and debated on whether to buy a paper or hard back hymnal.
“Get the hardback,” my friend said. “You’re going to use it for the rest of your life.”
“Really? The rest of my life?”
“The rest of your life,” my friend assured me.
And so I bought the hardback edition. And two days later I was asked to be the relief society president.
Fast forward about ten years and once again I’m playing the piano in primary. I meet a friend at the library who asks what calling I currently have and I tell her. She tells me that she hates serving in primary. I tell her why I love it and that I plan to be there for years. I know that a primary pianist is a difficult calling to fill, and since the last primary pianist had been there for seven years, I thought I would be there for at least five.

The next day I was released and asked to serve in the stake relief society presidency.

Here’s what I’ve learned after serving in the church for xxx years. Service is a blessing. Staying at home, thinking about yourself and your problems is a path to depression. Nothing builds your confidence or inflates your sense of self as much as service. Helping someone else feels good. It just does. I believe that when Jesus asked us to follow Him, he wasn’t doing it because He needed our help. I believe that he asked for our discipleship because he loves us and knows that we’ll be happier if we’re serving. It’s like the primary song,
“When we’re helping we’re happy and we sing as we go—”

And here’ s the really best part of service. We don’t have to have a “calling” to serve. Every day we can pray for the chance to serve—and if we do—opportunities will come. Observe and Serve. You don’t have to have a calling to be like Jesus and “go about doing good.”(Acts 10:38)

And you don’t have to be ordained to the priesthood. You don’t have to sit in the front or stand behind a pulpit. You don’t have to be a president of anything. You don’t even have to know how to play the piano.
As the Apostle Paul said in Corinthians:
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12: 4-27

It’s been more than ten years since I bought the hardback hymnal. I haven’t really had the chance to use it. And I’m okay with that. Because I know that serving—no matter what I’m asked to do—is a blessing.

Disclaimer. I really didn’t want to write this blog post. And no one asked me to do it, but I'm posting it anyway. I know there will be lots of people who think I’m simplifying a difficult, complex and red-hot topic, but I don’t think I am. Trust me, I am just as happy, fulfilled and challenged serving in one calling as I am in another. True, most of my callings have required that I sit on a bench, shut up and play, but I’ve also had a number of leadership callings. I don’t think that God, my Heavenly Father, thinks any more or less of me because of what position in the church I happen to hold at the time. People might think of me differently, but I’m still the same person, and whatever anyone else thinks of me—well, that’s not any of my business. (I think Mark Twain said that.)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Win a Kindle Fire!

I've joined forces with a group of authors, The Kindle Book Review, and Digital Book Today to create an awesome giveaway. We're giving away a KINDLE FIRE 7" HD and $200 in Amazon Gift Cards; a great way to start your summer! Here's the Link to the Giveaway ~>

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Twelve Steps of Intimacy. Step One, The First Glance

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to hear Linda Howard talk on the twelve steps of intimacy, a talk she based on the works and studies of Desmond Morris, author of The Naked Ape. I found it fascinating. I began watching for intimate “tells” in the people around me. (Yeah, I’m an avid people watcher and eavesdropper, unless I’m thinking about a story I’m writing, then I’m pretty much oblivious. It’s a toss-up as to whether I’m dialed in and taking mental notes or I’m in my own stratosphere. I’m a risk.)

Today I want to talk about that first step of intimacy—the first glance. How many of us can recall the first instance we saw our spouse? I can, although it was more than 31 years ago. He sat on a nubby green, ugly sofa, friends on either side of him. He wore blue corduroy pants that matched his eyes. I didn’t know I had reached at a life changing moment, but I had. I also didn’t know that after he left, he told his friends that he had first dibs on asking me out. I don’t remember what we said to each other—knowing me, not much. But voice to voice is step three on the intimacy ladder, and we’re talking about step one— the first glance.

Dr. James Dobson, author of  Love for a Lifetime: Building a Marriage that Will Go the Distance, also recounts the 12 steps of intimacy. He wrote:

 A glance reveals much about a person — sex, size, shape, age, personality, and status. The importance people place on these criteria determines whether or not they will be attracted to each other.
When the man and woman who are strangers to each other exchange glances, their most natural reaction is to look away, usually with embarrassment. If their eyes meet again, they may smile, which signals that they might like to become better acquainted.

Here are the first glance moments in a few of my novels.
Andie looked up from her camera’s display screen and saw Grayson Dodd leaning against the back wall, wearing a pair of khaki shorts, a Camp Pendleton Mud Run T-shirt and a pair of leather flip flops. Where were the pinpoint Oxford shirt and wingtip shoes? She nodded at him and pushed the elevator button.
“Hey,” he said as the doors closed.
“Hi.” She smiled and hoped it looked sincere and not as forced as it felt. “I just shot your condo.”
“That seems harsh.” He grinned. “Did it bleed?”
“Huh, no. Do you want to see? I got some pretty good shots of Catalina.”
“So—you’re not only a condo killer, but an island assassin.”
A mean wind blew the clouds shrouding the moon and a beam of light landed on a lone figure near the bow.  She fought the wind for her hat and her hair, a tangle of dark honey, swirled around her head. The hat, pinched between her fingers, caught another gust, set sail and skittered across the deck.
The woman managed to capture her hair into twist, and she looked over the deck in his direction. Her eyes widened when she saw him and she backed up against the rail.
The intruder flipped on the switch in the kitchen—her kitchen—and flooded the dark with yellow light. Penny pressed herself up against a tree, hiding and watching. Tall, thin, blond, dressed in faded jeans and a button down white shirt that offset his tan skin and startling blue eyes—he didn’t look like a Lurk. His gaze peered into the dark, looking past her and focusing on Wolfgang. “Shoo!” he called. “Go home!”
Blinded by fear mingled with rain, Blair ran into a large, warm expanse of flannel. For a small moment a slicker engulfed her, and then she tangled with an umbrella. She slipped on the wet pavement and fell hard on her hands and knees. The creel landed beside her and the cat cried in protest. Rain and embarrassment washed over her. She pulled the creel onto her lap and checked its strap.
  “Are you all right?” A tall man with wavy, honey colored hair gazed at her with kind green eyes.
Stooping to pull her upright, his large hand swallowed hers. “You’re shaking.”
Please feel free to share your own, either real life moments, or story moments…they’re all good.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Bundle of Weddings!

The Authors of Main Street have released their second boxed set! Who doesn’t love a wedding? All the stories were written just for the set. Each is complete. And each is a full novella length. Some are sweet (like mine with a scattering of a few chaste kisses) and some are sexy, (so if you don't like the heat, don't take this book into the kitchen!) but nothing is too much. They are all are perfect for Main Street! Now available on Amazon and most online retailers.

11 novellas for only $2.99

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stuck With You

Stuck With You, one of the novellas featured in the Weddings on Main Street boxed set is now available on Amazon for only .99 cents. (The anthology will be available on June 9th.)

Andie, real estate photographer, wanna-be philanthropist and blogger, is saving her pennies and dimes until she can afford to travel and shine a bright light on the world’s poor and needy. 

Whit, an investment banker and adventure travel magazine writer, wants nothing more than to escape his mother’s match-making schemes. 

When Andie breaks Whit’s glasses, he offers to forgive her debt if she’ll pose as his date to his brother’s wedding. It's the perfect mixture of business and pleasure, until business threatens to get in the way of a happily-ever-after neither Andie nor Whit could have ever imagined.