My book has a due date!

book born

Some people have asked what it’s like to write a book. Well, it’s kind of like having a baby. Twice. And I’m not just saying that because it’s a book about motherhood.

Let me tell you a little about birth #1. I had a nagging feeling for a couple of years that this was a book I was supposed to write. I had pitched the idea with an editor in May 2011 and received a little bit of encouragement, but I just could not figure out when a mother of young children was supposed to write. At the beginning of 2012, when that feeling became more intense and a little more urgent, I knew I needed to figure it out. Matt was key because he helped me make a schedule and took over all childcare (in his own dad-kind of way, I might add) for those few hours a week we blocked out. And I began to write.

I wrote an email, attached the manuscript, and pushed the Gmail send button on Friday, April 27th, 2012, at 11:59 p.m.

I honestly felt like I had given birth. I felt this huge rush of relief that it was over. I felt proud, and happy, and scared, and absolutely exhausted. I was physically tired and mentally spent. I had no idea if anything would ever come of that experience, but I did feel really proud that I had set a goal, worked hard, and finished it.

Or so I thought. I hadn’t finished yet. Enter gestation period #2.

On August 13, 2012, I got the news that the book would be published (!!!) in March 2013. Seven months, and there was a lot of work still to do. Preparing the book for publication was much more time-consuming than I had anticipated. At one point my editor told me that people don’t usually write more than one non-fiction book once they realize how much work it is to get it ready. Anyway, months were spent on source checking and copyright clearance and editing and reorganizing and tweaking. Some weeks were very intense and some weeks went by where everything was in the editor’s hands and I would just await my next assignment. In November, the final edits were complete, and I got to see the first proofs of the book in January. After a few last-minute tweaks, my editor and I handed it over to the printers–my little almost-book.

I’m happy to announce that the book has a real due date now.

Starting next week, Covenant Motherhood should start appearing on shelves in LDS bookstores and become available in their online marketplaces. I understand that it should also show up on Amazon around the same time, and I believe there will also be a Kindle version. For anyone who is interested, you are cordially invited to the book launch party:

Friday, March 15, 2013, 6:00-8:00 pm (open-house style)
Seagull Book, 218 NW. State Road (next to Hobby Lobby), American Fork, UT.

Here is the event page on Facebook with more details, and you can RSVP there as well (optional).

Like any expectant parent, I have so many mixed emotions. Am I excited? Yes, but I’m also terrified. The whole thing feels a little bit like running for student council in junior high. I hope they like me. It feels vulnerable. It was such a thrill to find out it was going to be published, but that feeling was immediately followed by a flash of terror: What if it’s a total flop? What if people read it and judge me as a mother? (They will.) What if it makes me sound like an expert on motherhood when I’m really just figuring it out like every one else? And failing often, I might add. I have spent most of my life with the gift of confidence. Honestly, other than becoming a mother and feeling totally inadequate in that job, I have usually been quite self-assured. But publishing a book and having other experiences and opportunities appear that all seem so much bigger than me? I know it seems like it should build confidence, but it mostly makes me feel insecure. Seriously, I am a forty year old woman, and I’m having an adolescent crisis. 🙂 But I also feel blessed, and in moments where I don’t panic or worry about it, I think to myself, Stephanie, even if the book only sells ten copies, but those ten copies help ten women to gain a greater testimony of the power and importance of their role as mothers, then you have succeeded. And then I breathe deeper and relax and try not to think about it. I keep trying to surrender it all to God and hope for the best.

So all this rambling is basically an early birth announcement: Behold, my book is born. If anyone out there dares to read it, I really hope you like it.

If you’d like to get announcements about upcoming book signings and silly events like that (that I seriously can’t really wrap my mind around at the moment), just “Like” my Facebook Author Page, and then updates should appear in your Page feed. [You can do that right over on my sidebar too —>]

The book is available for pre-order at Deseret Book’s website, and you can read a quick summary there as well.

And finally, if you have a Goodreads account and want to add Covenant Motherhood to your To-Read list, you can do that here.

There you have it. Welcome to the world, little book.

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Table talk.

dinner[image credit here] Image discredit: This looks nothing like my family at dinner.

Plates spinning.

Balls juggling.

Irons in the fire.

Call it what you want, but life has just felt BUSY. And even when it’s not busy, my mind is so busy. (Why must my mind constantly to-do list? Why?) My children are still relatively young, and I try desperately not to overbook them, but the calendar still makes me dizzy some weeks. Cub scouts, parent-teacher conference, homeowners meetings, visiting teaching, etc.

President Uchtdorf said:

Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Ugh. I don’t think it’s a badge. If it were, I could take it off, and I would. Oh, I would. And I know it’s not a superior life, because my idea of a superior life has something more to do with beaches, books, and not a calendar to be found. But I’m not blameless, and I know I can always use a little prioritizing and my to-do list would benefit from some erasing. The quote continues…

I think of our Lord and Exemplar, Jesus Christ, and His short life among the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.

I can’t see it.

Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.

People. Time. Purpose. One of the things I cling to during the busy seasons is dinnertime. At least we can sit down together and all look at each other in the face and remember we belong to each other. We do scripture study early in the morning too, but sometimes people don’t look at each other, on account of their eyes being swollen shut with sleep and all. But at dinnertime, we can finally breathe a little and try to talk over a meal. I am still light years away from making those meals much to brag about (tonight was mac&cheese), but we set the table and sit down and eat. My children are just young enough that a lot of their table talk makes me wonder why family dinner was a good idea in the first place (farts and boogers, anyone?), but at least it’s entertaining.

[I recently received a copy of book called “Table Talk” by John and Tina Bushman, and it’s full of ideas of NORMAL and halfway intelligent questions to discuss with your kids over the dinner table. Some of them are a tad advanced for my little ones, but some can lead in to cool conversations, like after Matt’s grandma died, we could talk about stuff like “What do you believe happens to a person’s soul when they die?” Anyway, you can find it here if you’re interested.]

In my fantasy world, someday my children will look back with nostalgia at our time sitting around the table together. And I’m sure they will all be successful, happy, and glowing because of it.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks cautioned,

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.

I think what my children really want for dinner is cinnamon rolls and orange soda, but I’m hoping Elder Oaks is right and I will suffice.
So sit down with your kids and have a nice dinner conversation. If you’re craving mac&cheese, come on over.
(Feel free to leave one of your favorite fast/easy dinner recipes in the comments.)

GCBC Week 20: “Learning with Our Hearts” by Elder Walter F. González and “One Step Closer to the Savior” by Russell T. Osguthorpe

Whoa. Week 20 already? This week we will look at two talks because they go nicely together and because we need to pick up speed a little to cover everything before the next conference sneaks up on us again. These two talks are a nice fit because they address how learning and teaching both play a role in conversion.

Learning with Our Hearts By Elder Walter F. González

Walter-Gonzalez

One Step Closer to the Savior By Russell T. Osguthorpe

russell-osguthorpe

What are some of your thoughts after studying these talks? What kind of learning has affected your own conversion? In what ways have the teaching of others helped your testimony to grow? And how does this affect your own teaching, whether in a classroom setting or with your own children? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

You’re not as boring as you think.

woman-book

Everyone has a story.

Everyone.

And the longer I live, the more I realize that those stories are fascinating. Yep. All of them. I went through a phase when I loved watching TV shows like StoryTrek, Who Do You Think You Are?, and The Generations Project because it turns out that regular, run-of-the-mill people like you and like me have stories inside of them that make me awe, wonder, cry, and think. Why aren’t we all telling more of our own stories? One of the reasons I blog is because someday when my children are grown and have children of their own, I want them to know the real me. I know a blog is selective and doesn’t reflect every aspect of my life, but I try hard to keep it real, and if nothing else, I have recorded some stories.  I hope those stories will make them feel close to me and maybe even learn a few life lessons.

This spring, I am participating in a conference that is all about telling, finding, and recording real stories– your own and your ancestors’. I’m even teaching a class about “Recording Life Authentically,” but that’s only one of many, many workshops and resources available to help you learn how to write your own life story, do genealogy, discover the stories of generations past, and use all the cool technology that’s available to fuel and find our stories.

I think you should come.

Here are the details: March 21-23 in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace Events Center.  (If you’re old like me, you used to go to Jazz games there.)  Guess what organizations are involved? Well, it was originally called the Story @ Home conference, a team effort with Cherish Bound and FamilySearch, and that conference has a specific track for bloggers. THEN, they merged with RootsTech conference, which is sponsored by a few organizations you might be familiar with: BYU, Ancestry.com, and National Genealogical Society to name a few. Basically, it’s going to be big and awesome.

slpalace

Go here to learn a lot more about it and to get pricing. There are options as low as $19/day, with full-conference passes ranging from $39 to $149, depending on how much of the conference offerings you want access to. Notice that there’s a full-conference Story@Home track available (which includes the blogging classes) for $79.

For any of you photographer types–amateur or otherwise– check out this Instagram contest:

Prize: Full-conference Story@Home pass ($79 value)
Dates: February 20th-24th
 
To participate in the contest:
  • Snap a picture you think tells a story. Examples include family, friends, places, events, mementos–anything that has meaning for you.
  • Upload the photo to Instagram and share with us what story your photo tells. Include the hashtags #tellyourstory and #storyathome.
Winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on the Story@Home Facebook page Monday, February 25th. “Like” the Story@Home Facebook page to find out if you’ve won.

So, listen. You have a story. And it’s a lot more interesting than you think it is. Come learn how to tell it and record it and save it so that someday, your stories will be alive even when you’re not. Your children and grandchildren will love that. I promise.

GCBC Week 19: ” First Observe, Then Serve” by Linda K. Burton

This week’s talk was a memorable message by sister Linda K. Burton, our recently called general Relief Society president. It goes along so nicely with some of the lessons we have been studying lately in the Doctrine and Covenants about following and acting upon personal revelation.

First Observe, Then Serve By Linda K. Burton

linda-burton

I have felt myself being a little stressed out and maybe snippy lately. Today it dawned on me that maybe I have allowed my life to get too busy and therefore have not left room for things like spontaneous or purposeful service to others. President Hinckley often taught that work/service were a way to get over your own problems, and President Monson has been such a great example of acting upon charitable thoughts and feelings.

What are some of your thoughts after studying this talk? How does it affect your goals? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

GCBC Week 18: “The Atonement” by President Boyd K. Packer

Already at week 18. Crazy. This week’s talk is President Packer’s powerful testimony from the Saturday a.m. session of conference. “My message is directed to those among us who are suffering, burdened down with guilt and weakness and failure, sorrow, and despair.” The knowledge of Jesus Christ, His plan, and the Atonement can help us cope with the challenges of life and overcome them.

The Atonement by President Boyd K. Packer

boyd-packer

What are some of your thoughts after studying this talk? How has your own testimony of Jesus Christ been a strength to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)

Weighed down by wimpy trials…

Do you ever feel that way? Like you live a semi-charmed life (no major tragedies or heavy trials to bear), but some days still just feel … hard?

I don’t know if it’s just my general aversion to January (see here for a refresher that may make you feel a little better about yourself if you suffer from the same winter-hating malady that I do), but this has been a rough week.  I admit that it’s totally a first-world-problems kind of rough, but it has still felt hard.

Anyway, when I was mulling over my own thoughts this morning, I remembered a quote from a novel I read recently, so I went and looked it up.  It renewed my hope a little bit and made me feel up to the task–however silly it might be–of just surviving a series of bad days. Thought I’d pass it along in case it feels helpful to anyone else.

quote

Goodbye, January, and good riddance!