Tuesday, December 18, 2012


One of my fondest Christmas memories take me back to chilly nights with my father driving my brother and me around town to look at the lights. Our town had a yearly contest, and some of the houses were adorned with so many lights it took my breath away and lit up my eyes with wonder.

One year we had a snowy jaunt through the forest while searching for the perfect Christmas tree. It took a while because we each had a distinctly different idea on what the best tree should look like, but we finally agreed on one. The tree, so beautiful and just the right size in the forest, was too tall for our small home and needed far too much trimming. It never stood straight underneath our eight-foot ceiling after that, but leaned just a little to the left.

I remember decorating our tree each year with the same colored lights and our traditional ornaments, and hanging long strings of silver tinsel until it shone like a disco ball. When we were done, I’d sneak behind it and play with my Barbies—but I remember so few of the gifts that Santa brought on Christmas morning.

In our home, there was always hot chocolate to warm our insides, homemade cookies to satisfy our sweet tooth, and carols to bring the Christmas spirit. These are the things I remember with fondness. While it’s true that I don’t remember many of my gifts, I shamefully remember the childish yearning for gifts that I never obtained—things so important to a girl’s happiness for only a moment, and then forgotten.

Now that I’m a parent, I understand. Sometimes the object my child wants more than anything else isn’t something that will hold his interest. Even still, I can’t stand to see the longing in his eyes, and I give in to his pleading. Then true to my intuition, a month after Christmas morning the toy is stuffed to the back of the closet and seldom looked at again.

In our world of commercialism, the television often dictates what we, or our children want—the newest, the brightest, and the most technologically advanced. Wouldn’t it be great if the gifts we asked for at Christmastime were really the things we needed? Today I realize that the gifts I received as a child are not remembered because they weren’t needed. They were unimportant to the spirit of Christmas and unimportant to my life.

Each year, Santa is there wearing his red suit and drawing children to him with his bags of peppermint candy. He’s known around the world and instantly recognized by his full, white beard. Why, he’s the man who makes Christmas fun. Naughty or  nice, he brings children gifts, and his smiling, friendly eyes reassure them as they stand in long lines while waiting to sit on his lap—but he isn’t real.

However, there is someone else robed in red whose gifts we recognize at Christmas. He is also bearded with friendly eyes—and yes, he is real. His garments, crimson from the blood of the Atonement, brought us the gift of eternal life. Naughty or nice, he came bearing gifts for us all.

On the cold nights of my despair when all seems hopeless, the gift of prayer warms my troubled soul. His unconditional love takes my breath away and fills me with wonder.

When I am tempted to be petty and unforgiving, I need never lean to the left or right, but only to follow his example which helps me stand straight and walk the narrow path.

His holy word lights my mind and teaches me the way. It is through the scriptures that I am taught things that I wouldn’t otherwise know. A favorite hymn brings his spirit during times of hardship and reminds me that he is always near.

When my childish soul fills with yearning, the gifts that are the Savior’s to give are mine for the asking. I need not be wealthy or famous to enjoy, for his gospel is obtainable to even the lowliest of heart. His offering is momentous and remembered throughout all eternity.

“Come unto me.” The Savior pleads for us to follow. With his arms outstretched, he’s desirous that we partake of his bread and his water. He brings us his gospel, his spirit, his sacrifice. They are free to all who want them because he has already paid the price; and the Savior’s gifts, once accepted, bring a lifetime of happiness.

This is an article published by Desert Saints Magazine, December 2011.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Pull out your blanket, warm a cup of chocolate, get your e-reader and open to The Timeless Romance Anthology. I've mentioned the Timeless Romance Anthology before, and critiqued Joyce DiPastena's story, Caroles On The Green. Since then, I've read Donna Hatch's story, A Winter's Knight, and Sarah Eden's, The Road To Cavan Town, and enjoyed them all. I had the day off today, and took a moment to read the story by Heidi Ashworth. I've never met her, nor have I read any of her books, but, I decided to give it a try. I was very pleasantly rewarded.

It Happened Twelfth Night, by Heidi Ashworth, is a delightful romance. Once I started reading it, I had to put everything else on hold. Laundry can always wait for another day, and who needs clean dishes? Here's a little bit about her story:

Louisa grew up as friends with Percy even though her family worked for his. As they grew, their friendship turned to love. He made her promise to wait for him while he joined his family on business, which she happily did.

Unfortunately, in regency England, reputations were slippery, and since Louisa was the daughter of a gatekeeper, she had never been on solid footing among the wealthy. During Percy’s absence, her reputation had been damaged further by the scandalous act of a friend.

Even still, it came as a heartbreaking shock when, upon his return, Percy never thought to call on her, and she ended up spending Christmas alone. Louisa felt redeemed upon receiving an invitation to the annual Twelfth Night celebration, and hoped that things would return to normal.

I’ll not give away any more of the story than this, and to say: It would be a heartbreaking thing to realize that the man you put all your hopes and dreams into was nothing more than a cad, a womanizer. Add to that, the realization that you would still have to see him every day because your family has worked for his family since the beginning of time, and that you have no money or any way of making a living in any other way—it makes for a very compelling story.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


A once in the history of mankind kind of thing. The Best Day Of Fishing Ever!
Some fishing stories are a little hard to believe, but this guy has pictures to prove his story...
I've heard of salmon jumping into boats, but never anything quite like this...
Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out with a charter group on his 62-foot fishing vessel
when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat.

"Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at us.
We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed. I opened up my back gate
and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat.
In all my years fishing, I've never seen anything quite like it!

Once onboard, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering."

This is a picture I took of the rescued bucks on the back of my boat, the Alaska Quest.
We headed for Taku Harbour. Once we reached the dock, the first buck that we had
pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back as if to say 'thank you' and
disappeared into the forest. After a bit of prodding and assistance, two more followed,
but the smallest deer needed a little more help.

This is me carrying the little guy.

My daughter, Anna, and son, Tim, helped the last buck to its feet. We didn't know how
long they had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive.

My daughter later told me that the experience was something that she would never forget,
and I suspect the deer felt the same way as well!"

"Kindness is the language the blind can see and the deaf can hear." - Mark Twain