Recent Reviews of Haunts Haven and Missing

Christmas is just around the corner and who doesn't need a great book to curl up with after the busyness of the holidays dies down.

Two of our recent novels, Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen and Haunts Haven by Joan Sowards, would make a great gift for someone on your Christmas list--or for yourself. :)

Below are small snippets of what's being said about these two novels. For full reviews check out the sites.

Why Not? Because I Said So


Missing is a fantastic first novel. . . . You will find a little bit of everything in this book: Some romance, loads of mystery, humor thrown in throughout the pages and of course the heartbreak associated with Stacie's past experiences and the utter turmoil shown by the parents of the missing girl. . . . I highly recommend this book for readers that love a good mystery, those that enjoy angst in their stories and those that are also looking for a light romance that could/should/may probably does...happen.

Random-Ish by Nichole

Haunts Haven
This is a sweet story written in a similar style to old-fashioned ghost stories told around a campfire. Haunts Haven differs from your average every-day LDS story in that it includes ghosts, which is something I’m not sure has ever been done in the LDS market. Or, at least, not that I’ve seen. . . . Even though I’ve had tons of stuff going on, I finished [it] quickly. Haunts Haven is a short, quick, read through in one sitting type book, and I enjoyed my time spent with Callie, Lizzie, James and Clay.

The fast paced story kept me reading from beginning to end, and even though I’ve had about a hundred other things to do this past week, I zipped through the entire book because I just had to know what happened next. . . .
Great book, thrilling read all the way to the end. And yes, it was worth taking a break from Dan Brown for a couple days. Missing was much more romantic, less gruesome, and easier to read and understand. I can’t wait to see what Ronda writes next.

My Musical Advent Calendar

I stayed up way too late reading Missing. I know I should have just used a bookmark and put it down, but I got so involved with the story and the characters. I just had to know what happened. I was reading late at night because I made the mistake of telling my teenage daughter how good the book was before I had a chance to finish reading it. She started reading it after school, while I was still working, and I had to wait until I could get her to stop reading and go to bed before I could get it back again. She couldn't put it down either without some parental intervention.

Ali Cross

Haunts Haven
I don't read a lot of LDS fiction, because it used to be that much of what was out there was, well, less than stellar. But I love ghost stories, and when I saw Haunts Have: An LDS Ghost Story, I just had to check it out.

It's a debut novel by Joan Sowards, and I have to say, Joan? You did great girl!

And not only is this a fine ghost story, but it's a lovely romance too. I'm not sure what I expected, but I definitely got more than I was bargaining for in this wonderful story.

I enjoyed the characters, especially Sid the teenage clerk at the hardware store (he has a lot of silly jokes which I got a kick out of.) The character development was excellent; I was really impressed with Joan's ability to build the characters so well, even those that had smaller "walk-on" roles. Well done!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys LDS stories, and is looking for something a little different.
Haunts Haven

If you like paranormal you should give Joan Soward and this book a try. She will not disappoint you.

Rebecca Talley Writes

Haunts Haven

If you like ghost stories and mysteries mixed with romance, you['ll] enjoy this book.

Queen of the Clan

Missing is a gripping novel that kept me plastered to my coach, eyes reading as fast as I could, and swatting my kids away to go make PB&J for dinner. I just couldn't put the book down. This is an excellent first book by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen. I hope she'll have another book out soon!

The Christmas Spirit

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, but it can be busy time.

I love these two video messages from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that remind all of us to slow down, to enjoy the simple things, to act more more like the Savior, and to offer him the gift of discipleship.

And isn't that a wonderful Christmas message when the stress and the worry can overshadow the real reason why we celebrate?

New Book and Author Signing

Brooke Parker, R.D., author of Love Your Body: A Diet-Free Balanced Approach to Eating will be signing copies of her book Tonight, December 4th, from 6-10 p.m. at The Book Table, 29 South Main Street, Logan, UT as part of The Book Table's midnight shopping sale.

Feel Good About the Way You Look!

Are you tired of dieting and feeling unsatisfied with your appearance? In this book, registered dietitian Brooke Parker shares secrets for developing a positive body image and creating your own customized eating plan. You’ll also learn how to replace negative thoughts about yourself with positive, motivating thoughts.

With the tools you master in Love Your Body, the scale, the media, and your “skinny jeans” will no longer have the power to determine your mood or your life!

Topics include:
• Finding a New Relationship with Food
• Honoring Your Hunger and Fullness
• Finding Your Own Healthy Balance
• Creating Healthy Expectations
• The Inner Dialogue
• Put an End to Worry
• Your Body Is a Gift
• Eliminating the Physical Triggers
• Destructive Thinking Styles
• Pampering Activities
. . . and many more.

Brooke is a registered dietitian with a degree from Utah State University. Brooke currently works for Utah State University as their dietitian and is considered one of the best body-image counselor in the state of Utah.

What makes Love Your Body different from diet and body-image books out there?

  1. In Love Your Body, Brooke enlightens readers as to the reason why deprivation doesn't work by showing that when we focus on foods that we can't have, it actually makes dieting harder. Instead of focusing on what we can't have, Love Your Body shows how to add new and healthy foods to our diet and by doing so increasing our success.
  2. Love Your Body teaches the reader to recognize their relationship to food while exploring the emotional reasons for why we eat. Brooke coaches readers on how to recognize the destructive inner voices that sabotage their effort and provides them the tools to overcome them.
  3. Many of us overeat because we haven't learned how to recognize the fullness signs that our body is sending. In Love Your Body, Brooke guides readers on how to find balance so that they never lets their body become too hungry or too full.
  4. For many, food brings anxiety and guilt. Brooke guides one through tackling that anxiety and guilt and shows them how to set realistic expectations and to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  5. Lastly, Love Your Body provides an LDS perspective that reminds them that their body is a gift and we should treat it as such. Love Your Body provides ways to express gratitude for our body, and reminds us to be happy with the things we can not change, i.e. height, eye color, shoe size, etc.

Radio Interview and Book Signing

Alan and Renita Cassidy, authors of Behind the Smiling Faces: An LDS Perspective on Marriage and Divorce will be doing a Radio interview Thursday, December 10, 2009, on KTMP (Heber City, Utah), from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. Following their radio interview, the Cassidys will be signing copies of their book from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Apple a Day Natural Foods & Bookstore, 464 North Main Street, Heber City, Utah.

Tune in or stop by on December 10 because you'll be in for a real treat if you do!

Contests and Giveaways

Want to win a copy of Missing by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen? Well you are in luck because THREE sites, Anne, Heather , and are sponsoring giveaways this week.

The giveaway on Anne Bradshaw ends TOMORROW, December 2nd, so start tweeting, blogging and facebooking away.

Heather Justesen is giving away Missing as part of "A week filled with Giveaways." Which gives you ALL week to enter with multiple ways to enter and win.

Missing is the December LDSFiction sponsor which gives you the WHOLE of December to enter. Full details here.

I love it when books can be the catalyst for change

One of the things I love about November is the refocusing on stories of service, gratitude and Christ-like principles.

Author Jason Brigs spent seven straight day flying 6,548 miles to seven different cities living, never leaving the airport and observing human nature. Jason wanted to know what our airport experiences can teach us our everyday lives. Step Back From the Baggage Claim emerged. A book based on the way small moments can impact our lives. It's a book that reminds everybody to step back, be compassionate, live gratefully and travel gracefully along your path.

I'm heading to the bookstore tonight, this sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving read.

Signings Photos

Joyce DiPastena, Victoria Gunter, and Ronda Gibbs Hinrichsen have been busy at signings lately and we have the pictures to prove it.

Joyce at AZ Costco's

Ronda's Book Launch Party at Reflections of Utah LDS Book and Gift

Josi Kilpack, Ronda, Jody Durfee, Becki Clayson

Victoria's Signing at Ensign Book Stores, CA

Victoria, Josi Kilpack, Julie Wright

If you've never been a part of a book signing, checkout what Joyce and Ronda had to say about their experiencs and what they did to make them successful.

Book signings are an interesting thing. They can be a lesson in humility--I didn't know that many people didn't like me and will do everything they can to avoid me. They are lesson in marketing and advertising--some tools works, some don't. I've also found that signings bring out true friends.

And while signings aren't an everyday occurrence for most people what have you done to make them successful. We've done fliers, postcards, emails, drawings, and facebook/blog/twitter updates. We've hung signs, posted it in the newspaper, provided food, and begged/gave guilt trips to/encouraged our family and friends to attend. What have you done that's been successful?

Victoria will be "The Girl in the Whirl" tomorrow--in a good way!

For those who haven't had the opportunity to meet Victoria Gunther, author of The Girl in a Whirl, yet--well you are in luck. Tomorrow you will have 3 chances to meet her, as she will be doing 3 book signings at 3 different Ensign Book stores in California.

She will be at the Ensign Books-Temecula from 9:30-11:30 AM
28910 Ranch California Road
Temecula, CA 92590-1868
(951) 308-1679

Ensign Book-Riverside from 12:15-2:15 PM
10115 Hole Avenue
Riverside, CA 92503-3442

And Ensign Books-Upland from 3-5 PM
1037 West Foothill Blvd
Upland, CA 91786-3731
(909) 949-8676

With Julie Wright and Josi Kilpack also doing signings it is sure to be three big parties!

I want to be like Ida

Photo: Tom Smart, Deseret News.

Just reading about Ida Hoggan on Mormon Times makes me tired. :) But on the other hand, I hope that I can be like her one day. Her total embodiment of service, compassion, gratitude and Christlike attributes all year long is inspiring. After reading Ida's story, I want to redouble my efforts not only during this holiday season, but all year long.

GRANTSVILLE, Utah -- Ida Hoggan can't be bothered with the typical things that go along with being 90.

She's too busy taking care of her friends in the Senior Care Center who need rides to the doctor or the store.

She has too many Christmas gifts and slippers to crochet and to knit. There are too many places to go.

"I just don't sit and do nothing," says the lively Grantsville woman who has to do deliveries of fresh apples and banana squash before she can sit down for an interview. "I have to have my hands busy."

Hoggan is currently the Relief Society president for the Cooley Lane Branch, Grantsville Utah West Stake, which means she has 41 elderly women to look after.

She serves in the local Daughters of Utah Pioneers chapter.

She gets those who need rides to appointments in the Grantsville City Center.

(She's comfortable driving around Grantsville, but she doesn't do freeways or drives into Salt Lake City. She can, but she doesn't like it.)

She's always making a little something for a grandchild or great-grandchild or great-great-grandchild. She has four children, 15 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren with another great-grandchild due in December.

This year for Christmas she made 20 reversible, denim-lined tote bags that she stocked with games, crayons and toys for church meetings.
The great-grandchildren are each getting a little hand-crocheted Christmas ornament that pops out a chocolate Hershey's kiss.

Last year she made 70 pairs of slippers from a stock of yarn her son bought her.

"I make hats all the time," Hoggan said, "every size and color. I make dish rags and potato bags." (Potato bags are 10-by-10-inch padded pockets that insulate a potato in the microwave and make it come out fluffy.)

For a granddaughter on an LDS mission in Germany and another in college, she's putting together a cookbook of simple family recipes.

"She is amazing, making (her Relief Society sisters) emergency kits with first aid supplies, doing service projects for humanitarian services and everything," said her daughter, Marla Jones. "She is an inspiration to her family."

Two years ago, Hoggan made gift calendars with pictures on the pages of herself, her family and her many trips because she's quite the traveler.

After her husband died in 1983, the opportunities just came, Hoggan said.
She started traveling and visiting family and friends.

She's been to Hawaii numerous times, to Europe, Alaska, New Zealand, Mexico and the Panama Canal.

"I really have been on over 20 beautiful trips," she said, "including several church history tours. I never did get down to South America yet, but it doesn't matter. I've been plenty of places."

She realizes she's been blessed with excellent health, which makes it possible to live a busy life.

"I guess I've just got good genes," she said, which is likely since her mother lived to be 105 and Hoggan has three living siblings who are 87, 92 and 95 and going strong as well. (One plays piano in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building although he's now legally blind.)

She's also careful about her lifestyle choices.

"I'm just kind (of) careful about what I eat and I sure thank my Heavenly Father for my good health," she said.

Review of Missing

It's always fun to send a book to be reviewed and the reviewer is so excited to read the book that they start it as soon as they get their hands on it.

Connie praised missing Missing saying it was "one of the best books I’ve read this year. . . After each chapter, I had to keep going. This story kept my attention until the very end. Yes, I would buy this book for my teenage granddaughters and other people on my Christmas list. . . .The characters in the book were real and I could picture each scene. I would recommend this book to everyone who likes a good mystery and romance. This is an amazing book, and I give it a big 10."

National Writing Month

Did you know that November is NaNoWriMo or National Writing Month? But what is NaNoWriMo you ask? According to the official NaNoWriMo site NaNoWriMo is a "is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2008, we had over 120,000 participants. More than 20,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists."

Doesn't that sound like fun? If you haven't started yet, you are only four days behind.

And if you come up with something really brilliant during NaNoWriMo we'd love for you to send it our way. :)

Happy Writing!

P.S. The NaNoWriMo has some great resources: interviews with famous authors, writing tools, blogs, widgets, etc. and is worth a look.

Haunts Haven

Recently, popular LDS writer Kerry Blair, reviewed Haunts Haven by Joan Sowards at SixLDSWriters.

Kerry did a lovely review that praised both Joan Sowards and her first novel, Haunts Haven which shouldn't be missed. I'm just giving a teaser here . . . I'm sure it will make you want to read the whole review.

"When Callie Wilford inherits a century-old inn (hacienda) in southern Arizona, locals tell her of a ghost who guards the inn. But Callie doesn’t believe in ghosts, and she plans to turn the inn into a bed and breakfast. Then things start to happen—strange, spooky things—and she begins to wonder if there is some truth to the ghost stories. If that weren’t bad enough, Callie discovers a mysterious grave in the cellar. As she confronts the inn’s tragic secrets, she also faces her lonely past and learns to embrace her heritage. But it takes a handsome cowboy and a charming rancher to prove that Callie’s long-guarded heart can love again.

Don't you just love it already? If Haunts Haven isn’t exactly what the market needs –an LDS ghost story!—I don’t know what is. It is the perfect book to read before Halloween. Or Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or New Year. Or . . . you get the idea. I can’t say it better than the person who wrote the blurb for the back cover (me): Haunts Haven grabs your attention from the first chapter and holds it into the wee hours . . . a love story you will never forget in a tale of suspense you will want to read again and again!

"I can't Believe It's Food Storage" takes out the fear

(Pumpkin waffles from I Can't Believe It's Food Storage)

The idea of food storage can be a daunting one, especially if you are like me and your food storage consists of a 10lb bag of chocolate chips and some additional packages of pasta. Tristi Pinkston felt much the same way, but after reviewing and following the advice in I Can't Believe It's Food Storage, she tells that liked this book because it took the fear away as it was set up so that "The process is broken down into chunks and made manageable. It's not, "run out and buy everything today," but rather, go at it with wisdom and planning."

Which is the greatest praise an author of a food storage cookbook can be given. To remove the fear and make it easy for people to follow the counsel we've been given. Check out the full review here.

Review of "The Route" and Author Interview with Gale Sears

As we head into the holiday season and the closing of a new year, I find myself taking time to reflect on the events of the past year and the lessons I did and did not learn. Which is one of the things that makes the The Route by Gale Sears so wonderful as it is full of little bits of wisdom that make you pause and reflect about where you've been and where you are going.

In the recent review by Sheila at Why Not? Because I Said So , she highlights some of the lessons she learned from reading this book such as "Don't compare yourself to others because you'll always come out better or behind," "The route hasn't changed, only the walkers, and "Take care of your own lawn before you mow the neighbor's lawn." Don't forget to check out her full review for all of the lessons learned.

And an added bonus to the review, you will find an author interview.

Signings, Signings, Signings

Excited to announce author signings for Joyce DiPastena and Ronda Hinrichsen.

Ronda will be signing copies of Missing, TOMORROW, Thursday October 22 at Reflections of Utah from 5-7 p.m.
The address for Reflections of Utah is 47 S Main St., Brigham City, Ut.

Joyce will be signing copies of Illuminations of the Heart THURSDAY, FRIDAY, and SATURDAY from 1-5 p.m. at the following Arizona Costco's.
Thursday, October 22 at the Gilbert Costco 1415 N. Arizona Ave, Gilbert, AZ 85233
Friday, October 23 at the Tempe Costco 1445 S. Elliot Road, Tempe, AZ 85284
Saturday, October 24 at the Chandler Costco 595 S. Galleria Way, Chandler, AZ

If you are in the area stop by because I know they would love to see you!

Food Storage is Hip

Crystal Godfrey was on Studio 5 on Wednesday showing that cooking with food storage is tasty and hip with her Gingerbread Whole Wheat Pancakes

The following text is from the Studio 5 website.

Crystal Godfrey is a master in the kitchen-- but her methods are a bit outside the norm.

She showed us how to bake a cake made with food storage items --- and she claims it's delicious. Claim being the key word.

"Food storage has come so far, in the last 10-15 years that if you haven't tried it since you were little, they have come huge strides and it's a lot easier to use now," she said.

Crystal hasn't always loved food storage, in fact, she used to despise it.

"My mom cooked a lot with food storage and she hates when I say this, but I grew up promising myself that I would never make my family eat food storage because I felt like it was so bad," she admitted.

She says she started collecting food storage out of obligation-- she felt like she "had" to.

But her attitude has changed a lot over the last couple of years.

"Now I can get a new recipe or if I want to use a new recipe, then I have everything on hand," she said. "I'm making it from scratch and I have more control over the ingredients I'm putting in. I can make it tailored just how I like it."

Crystal says her husband, a picky eater, can't tell a difference when she cooks with food storage.

"You'd think my husband would know by now that when I'm really excited for him to try a recipe, there's something hidden in it, but he hasn't caught on," she said.

Crystal says she loves swapping out traditional ingredients for food storage items-- and not only do the finished products fill you up, she says they're better for you.

She says cooking and baking with food storage is easy, affordable, and like this cake, good for you-- or so I justified.

So you can have your cake-- and "like" eating it too.

"It's things that you can do as a normal person with kids and still be hip and cool and like your life for using food storage." she said.

Loyalty's Web

There has been a lot written about Illuminations of the Heart, but many don't know that it was based on some minor characters from her first novel, Loyalty's Web. With the release of Illuminations of the Heart, Loyalty's Web is once again back in the news. Here is a recent review of Loyalty's Web from Marthasbookself.

This is a superbly written, action packed, “classic” medieval romance! I say “classic” as I see this in the tradition of the top historical romances I have read – rich in authentic details, descriptions, characters and plot!

I love Heléne’s character! She is smart, brave, humble, resourceful, and caring without being hysterically emotional. . . . The romance is sweet and balanced well with the action elements of the book. This book is a page turner that keeps you anxious to know what happens, but then I was sorry to come to the end!! I will definitely be looking forward to more wonderful books from Ms. DiPastena! Thanks for a great read!

from MarthaE

If you liked, or loved, Illuminations and haven't read Loyalty's Web, you should.

And here is a new Illuminations review from Bella Online

I am not a romance reader. I'd like to say "Never have been, never will be." But that wouldn't be true. When I was in junior high . . . I devoured them. Hundreds. All. (At the time.) But it's been decades since I've desired to read another one. . . .

I couldn't put [
Illuminations] book down.

I admit it. Me. A non-romance-novel-lover.

Call me silly for not liking romances, but there you have it. Yet Joyce's book I could not put down. Not because it was a romance, but because simply . . . well, it just was so well crafted in the art of storytelling

C.S. Bezas

Mormons Made Simple

If you haven't checked out, you should. This site provides simple two-or-three minute videos on different subjects and are are really great to share with people who don't know anything about the Church. Below is the most recent video on temples.

Haunts Haven

Haunts Haven
By Joan Sowards


Haunts Haven
grabs your attention from the first page and holds it into the wee hours. . . . Joan Sowards combines the supernatural with mystery, romance, and suspense—and does it amazingly well!

I started reading Haunts Haven for its charm, was soon hooked on the love story, and found myself perched on the edge of my seat as the suspense kept me delightfully up past midnight.

A love story you will never forget in a tale of suspense you will want to read again and again!

--Kerry Blair, best-selling LDS author

When Callie Wilford inherits a century-old inn in southern Arizona, locals tell her of a ghost who “guards” the inn. But Callie doesn’t believe in ghosts, and she plans to turn the inn into a bed and breakfast. Then things start to happen—strange, spooky things—and she begins to wonder if there is some truth to the ghost stories. If that weren’t bad enough, Callie discovers a mysterious grave in the cellar. As she confronts the inn’s tragic secrets, she also faces her lonely past and learns to embrace her heritage. But it takes a handsome cowboy and a charming rancher to prove that Callie’s long-guarded heart can love again.

Buy: Amazon


Callie wilford peered past the wrought-iron bars into the boarded-up window of the old hacienda-style hotel. She saw nothing but darkness.

Stepping back, she checked the time on her cell phone, then looked down the sun-beaten gravel driveway to the road that ran through the tiny southern Arizona town of Cassady Springs. Where was the town manager, a Mr.—Callie looked at the name on the wrinkled paper in her hand—Bob Collier? She had already waited fifteen minutes for him, walking once around the cat’s-claw-covered structure to pass the time.

Although it was over one hundred years old, the building looked mostly sound. In a few places the plaster had crumbled, exposing the adobe brick beneath, and to Callie it appeared as though a forgotten past was peeking out at the present.

She impatiently wiggled the large, ornate doorknob one more time, then looked at the paper again, took out her cell phone, and dialed the number below the name. Busy.

“Howdy, ma’am.” She heard a voice behind her and spun to look into the face of a tall, twenty-something man, impeccably dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, western shirt, and boot-cut pants. He was one of the most striking men she had ever seen.

Could this rugged young man be the town manager?

“Bob Collier?” Callie asked, catching her breath and putting the phone back into her purse. When the young man smiled, her heart accelerated.

“No, I’m not Collier, but he’s on his way. He got a call from a niece in distress. She’s having man trouble.” He let out a short laugh. “I was curious about the new owner of the hotel, so I dropped by.” His teeth were white and perfectly straight.

Callie tried not to stare. “Hi. I’m Callie Wilford.” It seemed only proper to offer to shake his hand.

“Just call me James,” he said, but didn’t take her hand. “I assume you are the grandniece of Carl Wilford.”

“Yes.” She lifted her ignored hand and pretended to return a strand of hair to its place behind her ear. Feeling her cheeks glow with embarrassment, she forced herself to look up at the wide
balcony of the inn. “His only living heir,” she added quietly, then hoped James hadn’t heard her.

“Are you planning to stay a while in Cassady Springs?”

“Yes.” Callie tightened the stretchy band that held her long, dark hair into a ponytail. Self-conscious, she suspected that she looked as much the old-maid schoolteacher as she felt, dressed in jeans and a plain, lime green t-shirt. I would’ve dressed better, she assured herself, if I’d known I'd meet Mr. Perfect. “I’ve taught school for five years, and I’m ready for a change,” she explained.

“I decided to come down here to live, you know, for a new start. My mother inherited this place years ago but was never well enough to come.”

“Good luck making it livable,” James said. “You’ll need more than luck now that scorpions and termites have moved into those adobe walls. Just the other day I saw a tarantula traipsing across
the patio.”

Callie smiled, though the thought made her cringe. “Do you come here often?” she asked.

“I’ve taken an interest in the place.” James turned as if to leave, then faced her again. “So, Callie, where have you been living?”


He looked relieved. “Then the wildlife won’t surprise you.”

“Well, I . . .”

“I assume you’re Mormon,” James continued, “as was Mr. Wilford. My family is too.”

She raised an eyebrow. “But not you?”

He thought a moment, then smiled wryly. “I am, in a way. Baptized.” He looked toward the road. “I hear Collier coming, so I’ll be moving on.” James tipped his felt hat. “Nice meeting you.”

“Nice to meet you too. Come again—soon.”

Darn! Callie thought. I probably sounded too eager. As good looking as he is, women probably throw themselves at him.

When James stepped off the end of the porch and disappeared around the side of the building, Callie sighed. Guys only break hearts, so don’t even think about liking him, advised the little
voice in her head. “Well, it won’t hurt to notice how attractive he is,” she mumbled, glancing to the end of the porch where she had last seen him.

Just then an old, green pick-up truck rattled around the circular gravel drive and stopped before the front porch of the hotel. A middle-aged gentleman, dressed in a worn suit and narrow tie,
climbed from the truck. He slammed the door, and the truck shook as if it would fall apart.

“Hello,” he called as he puffed his way toward Callie. Long strands of faded red hair had been combed over the top of his head to hide his obvious balding, and they fluttered in the breeze.
“I’m sorry I’m so late. My niece Elizabeth called just as I was leaving and—”

Mr. Collier was a short man with a busy walk and a nononsense air about him. He pulled a large skeleton key from his suit pocket as he finished his apology and squinted at its dangling tag. “This is the one,” he declared, then inserted the key into the lock and looked at Callie. His nose twitched as he looked at her more closely. “I was expecting someone older. I assume you are
Miss Wilford.”

Callie nodded, and as Mr. Collier turned the key, her knees felt weak and her heart thumped. “I’ve looked forward to seeing this place all my life,” she croaked, surprised at her own emotion.

“I’ve always wanted to take a look inside too,” Mr. Collier said, pushing on the door. Callie stepped closer.

“This grand old hacienda has stood empty too long,” he commented as the door opened wide and finally stopped with a thud against the wall. They both stood peering into the darkness for a moment. Particles of loose dust filtered through the sunlight that illuminated the silt-covered Spanish-tile floor. “Yep, empty for well over fifty years—ever since 1955 when the mines around
these parts started closing down. Other businesses failed, and everybody moved out except the ranchers. That’s when your uncle boarded up this place and went to Utah to retire. He’s long
dead, I figure.”

“He died when I was ten,” Callie answered, still staring into the dark lobby. “He lived to be a hundred, though.”

Collier whistled. “Just goes to show you.” He glanced cautiously over his shoulder, then almost whispered, “Did he tell you stories about this place?”

“Stories? No. He had dementia by the time I met him, but the one time we visited him he found his memory long enough to remind my mother to take care of his hotel. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that she’d never come to look at it.”

“I see you brought a flashlight.” Mr. Collier motioned toward the one Callie had left by her purse near the door. “Sorry I didn’t get the electricity turned on. The power company said a worker
would be here Friday to do that.”

“But today is only Wednesday!” Callie protested, thinking that three days without electricity wouldn’t be pleasant. She picked up her purse, slid the strap over her shoulder, and turned on the flashlight.

Despite the fact that it was late summer, a cold gust of musty air rushed past them, causing Callie to shudder. She noticed Mr. Collier’s eyes widen as he took a step backward. “Anything
wrong?” she asked.

“No, I—”

Callie brushed it off and peered inside again, then took a deep breath and stepped through the doorway. On the other side of the room, a light glowed, but when Callie looked more closely,
she realized it wasn’t a light but rather the reflection of the open door in a dusty mirror behind a saloon-style bar. Above it hung a chandelier. “It’s beautiful!” she gasped as her eyes cut to the right where the darkness dispersed enough to reveal an ornate grand staircase.

“Wow!” Callie took a few steps into the room. “Even covered in cobwebs, this place is gorgeous.”

Mr. Collier followed her inside and looked around. “Yes, and to think that Wilford just boarded it up and left the key at the office.” He stepped back into the sunlight. “The whole thing
has been a mystery, but I figure he didn’t want to spend money renovating the place.”

“Why didn’t he just sell it?”

Mr. Collier coughed on the dust in the air.

“Well,” Callie said finally, “maybe for me it is a good thing he didn’t sell. I’ve dreamed of opening my own bed and breakfast. This looks like the perfect place for it.”

“This house has been neglected for so long that it might not be worth the money to restore it,” Mr. Collier said.

“No, no. I think it has been boarded up long enough. It is time to bring it to life again.”

“I admire your courage, Miss Wilford. Something needs to be done with the house and about . . .”

Callie waited for him to finish but he didn’t. “About what?”

“No, no, never mind. Didn’t mean a thing by that.” Collier chuckled nervously and handed Callie the keys. “It’s all yours. I’d walk through it with you, but my niece is pretty upset. The young man she thought she was going to marry just jilted her and she needs a shoulder to cry on. She’s waiting for me to call back and solve her problem.” He gave a short laugh. “That poor girl.
Since her parents are away on one of those Mormon missions, I’m supposed to look after her.”

The way he had said “one of those” led Callie to believe the man himself was not a member of the LDS Church, but she didn’t ask. Instead she said, “I’ll be fine,” and held up the oversized
flashlight as evidence.

He smiled. “You’re a brave young woman, Miss Wilford.” He took a few steps away. “I think I need to warn you. There is— well, I don’t believe it for a moment, but they say there is a ghost
in there. You know how people embellish perfectly explainable happenings.”

“Ghost?” Callie laughed. “I think I can handle a ghost.”

He hesitated. “Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Good day, Miss Wilford.” With that, Mr. Collier turned and headed back toward his truck.

Callie left the door open and took another step inside the inn as the truck’s motor rumbled and the vehicle rattled toward the main road. “Ghosts. Humph!” she muttered. Then a chill ran through her and goose bumps rose on her arms. “I don’t believe in ghosts,” she said loudly to muster her courage.
Malicious haunters in old mansions? Nonsense! “There’s no such thing as a ghost,” she declared firmly.

If the ghost heard her, it didn’t answer.

The only footprints in the dust on the floor were hers and Mr. Collier’s. How strange, she thought, that no one had touched this place in fifty years, not even vandals. Perhaps she should be grateful that people thought it was haunted.

Despite herself, Callie felt her hand tremble as she directed the beam from the flashlight around the room. She tightened her grip on the torch. Everything was perfectly still except the sunlit specks of dust drifting through the air. Small, round tables and bentwood chairs had been pushed against the wall near the bar, with red tablecloths still covering the tables. Clearly, Callie
surmised, this had been a café or saloon. She shined the beam across the room. Between the bar and the staircase was a reception desk, and on the wall behind it were cubbyholes. In each hole
was a dust-covered lump. Keys, probably.

Callie moved the beam of light toward the staircase. The steps were carpeted in turquoise, and balusters of ornate brass held handrails that appeared to be rich, smooth wood under the thick
layer of dust.

At first glance, she thought she saw someone standing on the landing. Her heart took a leap and she directed the beam toward the top of the stairs, but she saw no one. You’re all alone, she
assured herself, breathing deeply. No ghosts here. As she took a step toward the stairway, another cold chill went through her, but she ignored it and crossed the floor to the banister. She ran her hand along it and got a handful of dust, so she shook most of the fine powder off and wiped the rest on her jeans.

Just then, Callie felt something rush past her, and the chandelier above her began swaying slightly. Cold fear ran through her, and she turned and headed toward the door with the feeling that something was at her heels. She burst through the door into the sunlight, and then turned to see nothing behind her but the silent old inn. She walked quickly to her car and stood beside it for a few minutes, waiting for her heart to stop pounding.

Chicken! Callie scolded herself. She took several deep breaths to calm her nerves, and then opened the trunk of her Prius. She glanced over her shoulder before pulling out a box of cleansers, a bag of rags, and another bag filled with an assortment of paper goods. “Courage,” she repeated under her breath while taking the boxes to the entrance of the inn and placing them just inside the door. The chandelier still swayed, but she saw no one.

Callie returned to the car and after rummaging in the trunk again, she took out a crowbar. Even though she didn’t believe in ghosts, she would keep the thing nearby at all times.

Friday was still two days away, and if she was going to get any work done on the inn before then, she’d better get started while the sun was shining. She would start by removing the boards from
the large window by the front door. First, she cautiously pulled away the clinging vines. Then she pushed the crowbar through the wrought iron, and was surprised at how easily she could pry
the old, splintered plywood from the window frame.

She dropped a board on the porch, then shrieked when a large scorpion scurried out from under it. Jumping away from the poisonous insect, she felt as if her skin were crawling. Ghosts
and bugs! Was James right? Just how many more surprises hid in the crevices of this old place?

At last Callie went back inside, this time keeping her eyes alert for scorpions—and nearly transparent figures. She took a cloth from the bag and looked up the stairs, then reminded herself that she didn’t believe in ghosts. And even if they did exist, she had never seen one, and she didn’t plan to!

With the crowbar and rag in one hand and the flashlight in the other, Callie shined the beam toward the top step and listened. Dead quiet. She put the rag on the handrail and took the first step, then the second. Each step squeaked under her foot, but she fixed her eye at the top of the curving staircase and kept climbing. At the top she shined the beam down the dark hallway. No ghosts there either.

One, two, three . . . . She counted seven doors, one of which stood open, letting in a steady beam of light at the end of the hall.


Callie caught her breath, then whirled toward the voice and saw the silhouette of a man standing in the front doorway. She stared several seconds until she recognized him. Overcome with
relief, Callie sank onto the landing to catch her breath. James came to the stairs—looking even more handsome than he had earlier—and pushed his hat farther back, revealing a full head of dark hair.

He smiled as if laughing at her. “Having fun exploring?”

She felt her cheeks burn. “I guess I let my imagination get the best of me. Mr. Collier said there were stories of ghosts haunting this place.”

He put one foot on the first stair and looked up at her. “Did he tell you any of those stories?”
“No, but he did say that he doesn’t believe them either. I guess any building that stands empty for decades is apt to gather a few ghost stories in its dust.”

“They’re all true,” James said. “Every one of them.” Despite his words, his deep laugh calmed Callie’s nerves.

“You’re probably the one who’s spreading the stories,” she chided.

James nodded toward the crowbar in her hand. “Are you planning to clobber a ghost with that?”
She lifted it. “It’s better than nothing.”

“A crowbar is no defense against a spirit.”

Callie held tight to it anyway.

He stepped on the next stair. “Do you want me to walk through the upstairs with you? There is safety in numbers.”

She looked at him doubtfully. “Are you trustworthy? How do I know you’re not a serial killer or something?”

James chuckled. “Do I look like a killer? I’m just a nosy neighbor.” At her doubtful look he added, “I promise to stay several feet away from you if it will make you feel better.”

Callie stood and brushed the dirt from her jeans. “All right.”

He was technically a stranger, yet for some reason, she felt she could trust him, but she would keep that information to herself.

“You go first,” James said. “I’m right behind you.”

Aiming the flashlight down the hallway, Callie went to the first door and turned the knob, hoping James didn’t notice that her hand trembled. The door creaked as it swung open, and enough
light filtered through the boarded-up French doors on the other side to reveal an empty room with peeling yellow wallpaper.

“This room is big enough for my entire collection of furniture.”

She thought of adding that her longtime friend, Adam, would come in a few days, bringing her furniture and kitchen supplies in a rental truck, but she didn’t. After all, she didn’t want James
to think she was taken.

She walked across the wood floor to the French doors, then tucked the flashlight under her arm so she could turn the knob. It was locked.

“Funny. French doors in a Spanish hacienda,” James commented from the doorway. Even in the dim light, his eyes twinkled.

Callie looked away, feeling her heart flutter, and wondered if what she felt with this stranger was love at first sight. She had never been in love and had never allowed even a crush to flourish. Her warning voice said, Don’t you start thinking you can trust him!

She wiped the dust from her hand onto the rag. “It will take some work to get rid of all this honest-to-goodness American dust.” Then she stepped past James into the hallway, went to the
next door, and pushed it open. Like the first room, this room had boarded-up French doors that led to a balcony, and a bare bed stood in the center of the room.

“Beautiful!” Callie walked over to touch the brass headboard. “This is probably worth a pretty penny.” Her fingers were now covered with dust, so she wiped them on her jeans. “I’ll probably
be covered with this stuff by the end of the day.”

“From dust to dust,” James quipped.

She turned to look at him. “What do you mean by that?” He only shrugged, so she let it go and left the room. “Why do you think treasure hunters haven’t robbed this place?” she asked as
James followed her into the hallway.

“The ghost has done his job well,” James answered matterof-factly.

“Uh-huh. If there were such a thing,” Callie said with a half smile. “But there isn’t, so there’s got to be a logical explanation.”

She opened the door to the last bedroom that faced the front of the house. In the dim light, she saw a large wardrobe standing against the far wall. She aimed the beam of light toward the piece.

“How pretty!”

“It’s been waiting for you,” James said lightly.

Callie leaned the crowbar against the wall and opened the mahogany chest’s double doors. “To think it’s been here all these years.” She ran her hand over the inlay work and brass knobs. She turned to find James right behind her. Her stomach leapt into her chest and she slowly turned her gaze toward the crowbar.

Seemingly unaware of her flustered state, James pointed out, “You still have three more rooms to explore.”

“Oh, are you in a hurry?” Callie laughed nervously, trying to keep her composure as she retrieved the crowbar. “Because if you are, I could finish looking around alone. I’ll be fine.” She gripped the bar in front of her with both hands.

“I’ve got a few more minutes,” he said with a big smile.

Her knees went weak. How could she be so infatuated with a man she’d just met—a stranger that she should be afraid of? Once he left, she decided, she’d be able to think this through logically. But that didn’t necessarily mean she wanted him to go.

James led the way out of the room. Callie followed with the crowbar. The door across the hallway stood partially open, and James stood back as she pushed it open wider. Here the window
shade had fallen and lay in a dusty heap on the floor next to a bare bed frame identical to the first. The wallpaper was streaked with water stains.

James walked over to examine the damaged ceiling. “Looks like you’ve got a leak in the roof.”

“Yeah,” Callie sighed, “and just the thought of pulling down all this peeling wallpaper wears me out.” She went to the window and looked out. “There’s a nice view of the cliffs from here.”

Keeping his distance, James looked out the window. “There is, and you have a great view of my family’s homestead.”

“Really?” She looked again and noticed the green fields. “How long has your family lived in this area?”

“About a hundred and twenty years.”

Callie turned from the window as he led the way out of the room.

“We’re still ranching and still not getting rich,” he said. “The soil is poor and full of rocks, and the wind exhausts even the cattle.”

She stopped, crossed her arms, and scrutinized his fine cowboy clothes. “You don’t look poor to me.”

James chuckled and stepped aside to allow her to open the next door. “And now behind door number 5,” he said in a deep, rich voice.

“Hey, you’re good. Maybe you could moonlight as an announcer.” She wanted to add, You’re good looking enough to be in movies, too, but decided against it.

In this room, a chest of drawers stood in the corner. Callie put down the crowbar and tried to open the window shade, but when she pulled on it gently, it fell. She gasped, jumped aside,
and turned her back on the billowing dust as the shade crashed to the floor.

“Old as the days.” James stepped out of the dust’s path. “What do you plan to do with this old place anyway?”

Callie coughed and waved away the flying particles. “I’m going to live here.” It had come across with forced confidence, and before she had turned her attention to the dresser, she caught
the amusement that danced in James’s eyes.

As she opened the top drawer, Callie held her breath, waiting for James to oppose the idea, but he said only, “This piece has seen better days. It’s ready for the fireplace.”

The drawer collapsed in her hand and fell to the floor. Holding only the front panel, she asked,
“Oh? How can you tell?” She dropped the piece to the floor with the rest and brushed her palms

“Making this place livable will take a lot of work. Are you up to it?”

“I think so,” Callie said. For a brief moment, his dark blue eyes seemed to look right through her. She felt uncomfortable under his gaze and feigned another cough. “Let’s get away from
this dust.”

He held out his hand toward the door. “Lead the way.”

“You are such a gentleman. It’s always ladies first.”

“My mama taught me well.”

She went to the next door, turned the knob, and pushed the door open. The room was furnished with a bed and mattress, a dresser, and a smaller wardrobe. The window was dressed with
white lace curtains and a drawn shade.

“Another closet. And to think I own such beautiful antiques!” She went to the window. “Do I dare open the shade?”

James cocked his head to one side. “Try it.”

Callie carefully tugged on the shade, which recoiled easily but then fell, brackets and all, to the floor. A puff of dust rose from the heap, and Callie turned away and coughed, then stepped to
the door to get a breath. “I’ll have to buy shades next time I’m in

“Or order them on the Internet. We get UPS delivery here.”

Callie’s jaw dropped. “Really? Way out here?”

“We may be far from civilization, but it figured out a way to find us anyway.” He chuckled. “You can use the Internet at the courthouse until you get your own service.”

“Great. With these gas prices I should order everything I need to fix up this place.”

James raised an eyebrow. “I take it you struck it rich teaching school.”

“No. Well, yes. My Uncle Carl had no children and left everything to my mother. But she died, so naturally I inherited it.”

“Sorry you lost your mother.”

“Thank you,” Callie said, suddenly melancholy. “She’s been gone two years. I—I hardly knew my dad.”

“He died too?” James’s voice had taken on a serious tone.

Her throat tightened, but she finally said, “No. He abandoned us.” As Callie walked out of the room ahead of James, she wondered why this stranger could bring out feelings she had stuffed away long ago. He solemnly followed her into the hall, and the little voice in Callie’s head practically shouted, Don’t tell him too much. You’re setting yourself up to get hurt. So, she laughed and said lightly, “I guess that now makes me a bona fide orphan.”

“Yes. I think Uncle Carl felt responsible for the way his brother’s only son, my father, had treated her. Uncle Carl also left a sizable bank account. What’s left of it will pay to fix up this house.”

“How lucky. But is this rundown place worth it?”

“Why not? It looks sturdy enough.”

They had come full circle and stood again at the top of the stairs. Hanging crooked on the last door was a hand-painted sign that read BATH. Callie opened the door and it squeaked. “I
suspect oiling hinges will be one of the easier jobs.”

The bath had a toilet, a sink, and a fancy, footed tub. “Guests will have to share this bathroom, I guess” Callie said, shining her beam of light around the room.

“Isn’t that the way it works with older bed-and-breakfast establishments?” James asked.
“And this one is older.” Without thinking, she stepped up to the sink and turned on the faucet. No water. “I can imagine what the pipes are like after all these years.”

James smiled. “Hope for the best.”

After leading him back into the hall, Callie paused at the top of the stairs. “Thank you for going with me through the rooms. I felt much better knowing that I didn’t have to meet the ghosts all by myself. I already met one of those scorpions you told me about.”

Callie started down the stairs and James followed. “Believe me, you’ll find them everywhere—hiding under the carpet, in the crevices, around corners.”

“Just like the ghosts?”

He picked up his hat. “That’s a given.” James led her out the front door, then turned to face her. “If ever there was a ghost, it’s the one who lives here. Too many people have seen him to
dispute it.”

“Him?” Callie stopped in her tracks. “It’s only one?”

“That’s what the stories claim. Do you need me to stick around and defend you from him?”

Though she liked the idea, a fuzzy memory flashed in her mind. It was the last time she saw her father waving from an open door. She had loved him dearly, as every toddler loves her father. She had lifted her tiny hand to wave, but he hadn’t seen and had promptly closed the door behind him. It was years before she gave up hope that the door would open and her father would
be standing there.

Pushing aside the memory, Callie kept her composure and lifted her chin. “No, I’ll be fine. I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Ghosts are real to those who fear them,” James said, placing his hat on his head.

“I have plenty to do to keep my mind off ghosts. I’ve got to call the phone company for service and get the water running and . . .”

“I’ll be by tomorrow to see how you’re doing.” James looked past the front yard to the few buildings that made up the town.

“You’ll be fine here, but since you don’t have running water yet, or electricity, you might find that staying in the motel will be more comfortable than this dust box.”

Callie looked at the buildings across the street. There weren’t many, but the sight of a long building with uniform windows and a sign that read MOTEL was a big relief.

“I left my horse grazing down by the gully.” James grinned, then tipped his hat. “By the way, you left your crowbar upstairs.”

Callie laughed. “You’re right.”

“Good day, ma’am. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He never looked back as he stepped off the porch and headed around the side of the house.

The Girl in a Whirl by "Dr.Sue"

The Girl in a Whirl by "Dr. Sue," & Other Things that Women Do
By Victoria Gunther with foreword by Merrilee Boyack


Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life? Is your to-do list long enough to reach to the moon and back? Do you think you REALLY have to be the perfect daughter-friend-sister-wife-mother in this life? If so, this book is just the break you need. It’s full of humorous insights about being an LDS woman, family stuff, and this & that about life. And it’s not just funny—it’s encouraging too, so you won’t feel like sitting in front of the TV and watching old re-runs of Gilligan’s Island until your eyes glaze over . . .

Reading The Girl in Whirl is like making your way through a gift box of dark chocolates. You’re having so much fun enjoying it that you forget that it’s also good for you. Delightful witty poems,
humorous artwork, and helpful advice make this a real treat for any LDS woman.
—Jack Weyland

LDS women everywhere need The Girl in a Whirl to help us remember that we do not have to be perfect right now. The main thing we DO need is the gospel of Jesus Christ to help keep us on track. Victoria has given us a humorous look at life and taught us how to laugh at the stress that inevitably keeps knocking at our door.
—Sheila Windley Staley

There are so many pearls of wisdom and simple yet important truths taught here with love and great humor. . . . Along with the joy of humor, this book will also touch your heart as it moves you from tears of laughter to tears of understanding. I give The Girl in a Whirl two thumbs up! Well, my hubby loved it too, so that’s FOUR thumbs up!! --Merrilee Boyack (from foreword)

I LOVED this amazing book! Victoria sounds like someone who I would love to have as my next door neighbor and friend. So down to earth, so funny, so on target with gospel principals, and such a testimony! This book made me weep, it made me laugh and it set me to pondering my life. Most of all, it made me want to do a better job at being a daughter of our Heavenly Father. --Judi

You've never read a book like this. It will make you laugh out loud, give you idea after idea to jot down, and will elevate your spirit and send you on your way singing. You'll want to share it with everyone you know, and keep it on your nightstand for a daily jolt of joy. I wish I lived next door to Victoria Gunther!
--Joni Hilton

This is a book that every woman can relate to, with a message that everyone needs to hear. Victoria's writings are humorous, sensitive, and insightful, intermingled with deep, spiritual conviction. The Savior’s love is deeply felt within the pages of this book.
--Heather Denhalter

A delightful book that leaves you wanting more. The writer uses her personal experiences and wit to take you on your own trip down memory lane. We each have had experiences with day to day tasks that leave us at times wondering if it is all worth it. Victoria Gunther teaches that it is worth it and why. There were tears and laughter as I read this book but as I came to the end I was left with the feeling that I can do it! The journey through this book is time invested in becoming a better you.
--Lori Gilbertson

Vickie has an uncanny ability to combine her delightful sense of humor with wisdom and truth. Readers will likely see themselves throughout this book. But Vickie not only takes an amusing look at our foibles, she helps us to “higher ground” by providing guidance from the scriptures and modern-day prophets.
--Carolyn J. Rasmus

Like an LDS Erma Bombeck in rhyme, Vickie cuts straight to the truth in a humorous and loving way. There are great lessons contained in her poetry! Also, "Kid Gloves" makes me laugh so hard I *snort* every time I read it.
--Whitney Larson

I really loved this book. I love the pictures. They go so well with the stories and poems, which are great too. I can see myself in them and they make me laugh. . . . I will suggest this book to all the women in my Stake. It is a great book. I really could feel the Spirit as I read it. I didn't want to put this book down once I started reading it. Thanks Victoria for a wonderful, terrific, great and awesome book. I really loved it.
--Sandra Stone

The Girl in a Whirl
by “Dr. Sue”

“Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do if you only knew how.

I study the scriptures one hour each day.
I bake and I garden. I scrub and I pray.

I always keep all the commandments completely.

I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms! I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice! I cut all their hair!

I memorize talks by the General Authorities.

I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I keep our home organized, clean, and attractive.

I drop by with goodies and see the less active.

I play the piano! I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle! My checkbooks all balance!

Each week every child gets a one-on-one date.

I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)

I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all . . .

I track my bad habits ’til each is abolished.
I floss every day! And my toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful.

The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.

I do genealogy faithfully, too.

It’s easy to do all the things that I do!

I rise each day early, refreshed, and awake.

I’ve learned all the names of the youth in my stake!

I read to my children! I help all my neighbors!

I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I write in my journal! I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write “thank you’s” to those I admire.

I exercise and I cook menus gourmet.

My visiting teaching is done the first day!

(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
I love filling in for my cherished ward sisters.)

I chart resolutions and check off each goal.
I seek each “lost lamb” on my Primary roll.

I bottle our produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all . . .

I went back to school to update my degree.

My studying earned me a new Ph.D.

I split with the sisters who cover our ward

To spread the glad truth that the gospel’s restored.

I go to the temple at least once a week.

I make my girls’ prom dresses—modest, yet chic.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A’s! And their bedrooms are clean!

I have my own business to help earn some money.

I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.

I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread.

I plan our nutritious meals six months ahead.

I make sure I rotate our two-year’s supply.
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
(It’s out of the way early on for a reason.

I then can prepare for the real Christmas season.)

These things are not hard. It is good if you do them.

You can if you try! Set goals and pursue them!
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!

If you plan and work smart, you can do them all too!

It’s easy!” she said.
And then . . .

. . . she dropped dead.

Yep. Sadly, she kicked the bucket. Well, she probably kicked the mop bucket. I guess we can’t say she bit the dust, because you know that wherever she’s been, there wouldn’t be one single speck
of dust left for her to bite, right? But whether she kicked or bit or what, she’s gone. And you know why? Because it’s impossible for anyone to do all those things at one time, and that includes the Girl in a Whirl!

We just think it probably should be possible. And even though we aren’t quite able to do all that yet, deep down, we seem to believe that somewhere out there, other women somehow are. Well, I have an important news flash for you: Any woman like the Girl in a Whirl ONLY exists on the unreality TV shows of the Pamela Perfect Utopia Channel. I know you’ve probably heard highly reliable rumors of a not-too-distant ward where she actually lives and breathes, working organizational miracles on a daily basis. But the woman is just a myth, despite your firsthand
knowledge that your visiting teacher’s sister-in-law’s manicurist knows her well, and can vouch for her ongoing perfectitude.

Okay, hopefully, that takes care of her, then. But here’s the real question. Oh, sisters, why do we feel like we need to be like that, anyway? Why do we feel guilty, or second-rate, or like we’re just
not good enough despite what we do, because of everything we don’t manage to do? It’s like we have this demented little alarm system in the back of our brains screaming, “In order to be good enough, I need to do and be everything that anyone might possibly expect of me, plus work on every single one of life’s vitally important issues and purposes—all TODAY!”

Well, I have another news flash for you, and it’s a real one this time. In fact, it’s the good news—the best news in all of eternity. Because of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness (isn’t it so sweet how Alma calls it that?), and what our Savior did for us, He can make sure we are definitely good enough. Perfect, in fact. Sounds hard to believe, doesn’t it? But that IS what it says right here in Moroni 10:32:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

When we break this down, it’s an invitation for us to come to Christ and let His grace make us PERFECT in Him, which, by the way, is way different than the kind of “perfect” some of us
think of when we hear the word. This one is something we can actually do! When we really look at the things Moroni talks about there, we realize that they’re so completely doable—nothing like
all the crazy stuff that goes on in our heads about what all we think we supposedly have to be and do.

Okay, so here’s what Moroni counsels us to do:
1. Come to Christ: Not hard. Just learning about what He’s truly like is enough to make you want to do that anyway.

2. Deny yourself of all ungodliness: Well, that might take a little bit of trying, depending on
the circumstances. But who wants all that crud, anyway? Really, once you start to pull away from
things that are ungodly, unholy, unclean, and all, it feels soooooo much better. It’s sort of like you were having what you thought was a nice, little swim, but when someone helps you out and you look back, you see that you were actually swimming in the sewer. Eeew! Once you’ve climbed out and are far enough away to really see it, you recognize that it’s nothing worth going back to.

3. Love God: This one is easy. Heavenly Father is kind, good, merciful, just, powerful, loves you
more than anything, and is Someone you can trust completely, since He will make all things
work together for your good. (And no, that doesn’t mean nothing hard or “bad” ever happens. It just means He will use it to bless your life in one way or another.)

4. Number 4? What’s number 4? Is there SUPPOSED to be a number 4? Oh. I guess not.
Well, that’s it then. Just three little items on the list and that’s all!

Now, here’s the point I’d like to make about all this. It’s that you can stop worrying or being stressed or depressed or demotivated or fearful or whatever it is you get, over how much you can’t do. You can come to Christ. He is so loving and kind. He just wants you to start right where you are and come, as it says so simply in this part of one of my favorite scriptures: “Whosoever will come, may come” (Alma 42:27; emphasis added). You don’t need to worry about whether or not He’ll accept you. He will. The only question is if you will go to Him.

Once you do, He’ll even help you work on the next part, which is denying yourself of all ungodliness. That’s also something you can do. And you’ll be so glad once you do! That will open up all kinds of possibilities to you that you don’t have now, mainly through the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And if that doesn’t sound very exciting, that’s okay, because just wait until you try out how it feels. Incredible. The best thing ever. Seriously. And one day pretty soon here, you’re going to think back on this and say, “Wow! That was really the truth! I had no idea this was so amazing.” So yes, you can deny yourself all ungodliness and you will want to.

If you need help understanding what any ungodliness in your life might be, you could check out some simple standards in For the Strength of Youth. Although it is written for the youth, in our stake, our leaders spent a year discussing it with the stake. They called it For the Strength of YOU, meaning all of us, since it contains basic standards for those who desire to be pure in heart and in action. If you need more help, or maybe even better help, ask your Heavenly Father. If you really want to know what you should do about your life right now and where you should start, He’s the best one to ask. He not only knows you perfectly, but He’s so wonderful to
work with. He won’t overwhelm you with 387 things you need to do right now. Typically, if you ask Him that question, you will most likely feel a gentle “pressing” within your heart or have a
thought that will make you consider something you should stop doing, that you already knew anyway, at which point, you will say, “So, how do I know this isn’t just me?” Well, it probably isn’t just you, because when you ask Heavenly Father sincerely, He is glad that you want to repent, and He is happy to answer you. However, sometimes when you already clearly know something, that is the answer, and you really do need to start working on that. You know
it and He knows it. So start there and stick with it. It will be so worth it! You can do this!

Lastly, loving God is also something we can do. One way we show Him that is by doing our best to live His commandments (see John 14:15). And by the way, when we say we are “keeping
His commandments,” that doesn’t mean we are perfectly and completely doing every single thing He has ever asked us to do. I believe, though, that it does mean we won’t weigh out whether or not we want to do something the Lord has asked of us, and deliberately decide to break that particular commandment just because we really want to.

Other ways we can show our love for God include being kind, loving, and helpful to others, and learning about Him through the things He’s given us to do that, like the scriptures and the
testimonies and counsel of living prophets. We also show Him by telling Him we love Him when we pray, and by spending time with Him as we pray. The thing is, when we do any of these things, He blesses us and usually makes us feel good to let us know we’re doing good. And it helps us want to do good even more.

So does all this sound hard? It really isn’t. Truthfully, though, sometimes some things about our lives will be hard, because that’s just part of the process. Something our Father in Heaven wants
us to learn is that regardless of how things look, we can still trust Him—trust that He knows what He’s doing with our lives, and that He knows how we need to grow to become who we’re meant to be. We need to come to the point where we have so much faith in Him, that we will always choose Him, so matter what. So if something really hard happens in our lives, will we still love God and choose Him, or not? Will we still love Him even if—well, even if anything? What He wants is for us to give Him our hearts. He’ll still want them even if they’re broken, you know. Actually, especially if they’re broken. But the good thing is, He’ll fix them for us, too—and not because we’ll be mad at Him if He doesn’t do it quick enough, or if it looks like He might not do it at all, but because we’ll love Him forever, whether He does it or not, and come what may. Oh, but don’t worry. He will eventually heal your heart. That’s one of His specialties!

But those three little steps back there to becoming perfect in Christ? They really aren’t that hard, especially not with everything we receive in exchange. The most marvelous thing of all is that
after you’ve done that for a while, heaven itself is going to tell you that you’re doing a great job, and that you are loved. And then you’re probably going to look around at everything you didn’t get done, or could have done, or at least maybe should have done and say, “Is this being addressed to me? How could it be? I’m trying, but in my opinion, I just barely get by. I’m nowhere near good enough!”

Yet, somehow, through the beautiful plan of happiness, if you’ve come to the Savior and repented and given Him your heart, if you love your Heavenly Father and love and bless His children, and if you are pure in heart because you have denied yourself all ungodliness, you really and truly are good enough for “his grace [to be] sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in
Christ” (Moroni 10:32).

Suddenly, you will actually feel good enough (in a humble sort of way, of course), because in a bigger way than anything that’s ever happened to you before, you will know and feel how loved
you are. That will make you want to treat everyone else the way this incredible love inside you makes you feel. That’s what charity is. It’s the love Heavenly Father gives to all those who are true followers of His Son (see Moroni 7:48). And once you feel that tremendous, incredible love from Him, then you have it inside you to give to others. Plus, you will know how, and you will want to.

Then you just stick with it. As you do, you’ll find that living the gospel and loving people is much easier than it used to be. You’ll have changed so much that you’ll be more like Christ, because
that’s just what being His faithful follower does to a person. Plus, you’ll have the companionship of the Holy Ghost—that incredible feeling of warmth and comfort—on an ongoing basis. That will be your reward for sticking with it. Of course, there will always be things to deal with of one kind or another. That’s life. But knowing how loved you are, and having the Holy Ghost with you makes life very sweet. It is worth it! And it is something we actually CAN do (unlike all that overwhelming, depressing, unrealistic stuff we sometimes think we have to do). So, let’s all do this! Let’s all come unto Christ, and have all this good stuff happen to us. What a great plan!