Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Would I do with all my Time?

If I didn't have children, didn't get to be a mother, here are some of the things I wouldn't have gotten to do over the weekend:


7:30am: Let Dylan stay home from school because he just didn't feel "all that good", and I figured the kid's got straight A's and next week is Spring Break, so let him bum it at home with me. We bought him some iPod downloads from Amazon, and then he took a shower and decided he felt much better, so would I drive him to school? I could take that a number of ways, but I'm sticking with "he's just so responsible," rather than, "Mom's so boring school is a better option."

10:30am: Drive Dylan to school.

11:00am: Take Conor to speech therapy with Miss Lacey. Sit in the incredibly boring, restrictive waiting room and read Vogue and wonder what the point is.

12:00pm: Drive home, put Conor down for a nap. Begin work on Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls. My stepson Sean's favorite, and yesterday was his birthday, so I made a batch just for him. That took most of the afternoon, in between lots of other things.

1:30pm: Help Lyndsay finish packing for her backpacking/camping trip with the Stake to pass off a Girls Camp requirement. Good thing I precooked her foil dinner the night before!

3:00pm: Laugh at how tiny Lyns looks under the hugeness of her pack, when she's only going to be gone for 20 hours. Wonder if she'll make it.

3:20pm: Drive Lyns over to the drop-off spot. Stop at the grocery store on the way home to buy disposable baking pans to put the cinnamon rolls in.

4:30pm: Dylan meets with the Boy Scouts to go golf 9 holes for his Golf merit badge.

5:00pm: Try to get some studying done for my exam in the morning, when I suddenly realize that Aiden is supposed to prepare and lead two games for the kids at the Primary Activity Day in the morning to pass off a requirement for his Cub Scouting Religious Knot. Darn. Comb internet idea sites. Decide on two.

6:30pm: Cinnamon rolls are baked and frosted. Card is signed. Load up Aiden and Conor in the car and drive over to Sean's mom's house to surprise him with his birthday treat. Give hugs and kisses and "I can't believe you're 12!" and load up boys back into car.

7:00pm: Stop at Rite Aid to buy plastic eggs and spoons for Aiden's games.

7:30pm: Feed boys cinnamon rolls and milk for dinner. Not really care. Type up directions for Aiden's games in case I don't make it back from my class in time.

8:30pm: Put boys to bed. Think about Lyndsay and wonder if her foil dinner was delicious, if she has blisters, and if she is freezing. Can she put up a tent in the dark?


5:15am: Wake up and shower. Do some last minute studying over a bowl of oatmeal while kids still sleep.

6:30am: Head out to Pasadena for class and my exam.

10:30am: Finish exam, rush back home to make it to the Primary Easter Activity. This is Conor's first one. I told him it was a "Sunbeam party", and he was only marginally confused when there were no balloons or cake. Hang around and chat with moms in between helping/refereeing/telling one of my boys to behave. Help Aiden (but not too much, he did great) lead two games with the kids.

12:30pm: Get home. Lyndsay's in the shower. When she gets out, I listen to all the fun details of her hike and camping trip. Wish I could have gone. She's terrific.

1:00pm: Put Conor down for a nap. Put in a load of dishes, wash counters, sweep floor. Put in a load of laundry. Change cat litter. Water bunny. Water garden. Read funny book. Fall asleep for about 30 minutes.

LAZY HOURS!!! I should be studying, but NO! NOTHING!

And in an hour, I take Lyns to the Stake Center for the General YW Broadcast and dinner. That will be nice. They always are.

Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is Sunday! A day of. . .ha ha ha. . .rest? Yeah, right!

Monday, March 15, 2010

FHE: Sacrifice. It's all just Peanuts!

You know how I love Family Home Evening. For those who are not LDS, Family Home Evening is a tradition where we set Monday nights aside to gather our families together and teach values, virtues, scripture, life skills, gospel principles, or whatever else might help to build character, testimonies, and family togetherness. The 'standard' format is an opening song, an opening prayer, family business, a lesson/activity, a closing song, closing prayer, and refreshments. Obviously, it's the family togetherness and a formal opportunity for teaching children values that is important (you know, we can't leave everything to the public school system!), not so much what religion you are, so please don't think that this can only be a "Mormon thing". It's awesome, it makes a difference, and you should try it too, even if it means you gather your family around you and read from a great book aloud and talk about it, or you bring out a board game from the closet and play it together. Go from there.

I wanted to highlight some Family Home Evening ideas that we have had fun with in our family, but I do not wish to take credit for how clever the lessons might be. Some I've created, but most I've found from other people. Some I've used in my calling in Young Women and then loved them so much I did them again for FHE. (sorry, Lyns. Act surprised.) I share because sometimes all it takes is a good idea to get you excited about doing the work. We all know that consistent FHE takes work. But we also know that the work works, so it's worth it.

For this lesson, you need:

peanuts in their shell, 3 for each family member

a full-size (or King size would be better!) Snickers bar for each family member

*The Snickers bars should be hidden and out of sight. It's okay if people see the peanuts and know they will be part of the lesson, but the Snickers bar will bring the idea home, so it has to come as a surprise.

We began by talking about what sacrifice is. The general definitions will be things like, "giving up something you want for something better" and "giving up something you want/love without expectation of receiving anything in return." Ask the kids what they think of when they think of sacrifice.

Talk very briefly about sacrifice as it is contained in the Bible, like how animals were slain on altars to represent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Talk for just a second about other scripture stories where people were asked to make great sacrifices. (Abraham asked to sacrifice Isaac, Lehi asked to sacrifice his worldly possessions and flee his home, etc.)

Ask what sacrifices we are asked to make today. (They may say things like giving Sunday up for church things, tithing, Word of Wisdom, staying morally clean, etc.)

Now talk a little about how when there is something that we want to work toward in our lives, we often have to give up things along the way to achieve it. Things that require us to sacrifice will usually be the most rewarding because we will have paid a price for them. Ask the family members to list some worthy goals. You can list these on a chalkboard, or sheet of paper, or not at all and just say them out loud to get them thinking. Ideas may include getting an A in a particular class, getting healthy, graduating from college, going on a mission, getting married in the temple, etc.

Now that they get it, hand each person three peanuts in their shell. Tell them that these peanuts represent things they will have to sacrifice. Tell them each to think of a worthy goal that is important to them. Now go to each person and ask them what they will have to sacrifice to obtain that goal. They might give answers like, "giving up time with my friends," "saving money that I want to spend," or "not dating until I'm 16," depending on what their goal is. But they must think of three sacrifices they will have to make, and with each one, they give you back a peanut.

When they are out of peanuts, you place a Snickers bar in their hands and tell them that they have achieved their goal. Tell them that after all that hard work they finally have their reward. Now ask them, looking at the Snickers bar in their hands, was it worth it to make all those sacrifices? Of course! Make the point that at the time we're sacrificing, it seems like a lot to give up, but when you finally have the reward at the end, all of those sacrifices are just peanuts!

Get it? Just peanuts! (They love it.)

Bonus: You didn't even have to bake refreshments. Snickers really satisfies.

And so does sacrifice.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Like My Blood

This week in Anatomy lab we did blood experiments. Having learned all about red blood cell antigens and plasma antibodies, producing blood types, we set out to see for ourselves. Blood cells have little "markers" on them, which we call A, B, AB, or O--O being the absence of any markers. If you put B blood in with A blood, it knows things don't quite match up, and something called agglutination happens. That's where the red blood cells all clump together, and you are left with a pool of what looks like water (which is really plasma) and clumps of red grainy lumps scattered throughout. (Did I make that understandable? I really tried.)

So, we did a lot of fingerpricking. My hands were freezing and we had been sitting for two hours of lecture prior to the lab, so my first prick didn't yield much of anything. I left the room and ran up and down a flight of stairs and came back to try again. Much better. We each had little blood typing dishes, which had three wells in them. Drops of blood were placed in each well. Then we took sera that contained Anti-A and Anti-B and Anti-D (to test Rh factor, otherwise known as whether you're positive or negative in your blood type...trying to keep this simple to make my point.) and mixed a drop or two into each well with the blood. Stirred it around. Watched. Reactions happen very quickly, and you could easily imagine how transfusing a person with the wrong blood would not bode so well. I watched my A friend's A blood react to the B serum. I watched my B friend's blood react to the A serum. I watched as every single person's blood reacted to the D serum, because they all were positive blood types.

My blood just sat there. Totally nonreactive.

My blood type is O negative. I have no antigens, or markers, on my blood cells, and I lack the "Rh factor". So my blood didn't do any agglutination. It just sat there, happily being red. (Which, by the way, is why O negative blood type is the true universal donor.)

I said to my lab partner, "Wow. I wish I could be like my blood and be so nonreactive in my life." Just kind of 'go with the flow,' if you will.

She's only known me since last semester, but she said, "Somehow I have a feeling you're not."


Lyndsay is embroiled in her first real high school Girl-Drama, if you know what I mean. (Can't high school girls just be the worst?) I know she's dealing with anxiety and even some fear as she has to face these girls in school each day, who have even threatened her, but she holds her head high. It's hard for me, as her mother and fiercest protector, to not react. I hate that Lyndsay hasn't even done anything wrong and has nothing to hide, but all because of some girl that started a rumor and riled up another girl, and then a third girl who wasn't loyal to her friendship with Lyndsay, Lyns has to deal with this ridiculous, hateful drama. The kind of drama where one girl keeps changing her Facebook status to all caps lock and saying threatening things to my daughter.

I want to get in there. I want to explain to these girls what they don't know. I want to say something. I want to do something!

But Lyndsay just changes her status to "Life is Good", and keeps on smiling. I give her all kinds of good ideas to set the record straight, to shut these girls down, but she just says, "I'm not going to feed their fire, Mom. I didn't do anything wrong, so I'm not going to act like I did. It will blow over. It's kind of funny that they have nothing better going on in life than to sit and think about me." Who is this girl? And man, why can't I be like that? I mean, a few days ago, I called up the grandmother of Aiden's friend and told her off! A grandmother! (But she seriously had it coming.)

So, I watch in wonder as my blood, and as my blood, just sit there not reacting to serious threats. Put whatever you want in the mix, and the two of them just keep on floating through life. Happy and calm.

A lesson.

(Although I'm still having Dylan walk her home from school. I can't change all in one day, you know.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the Garden

Remember when the yard looked like this, and all I had was a whole bunch of dreams?

Well, now they're all coming true! I have my garden beds functioning now, and grass growing! (I still do plan to put down weed mat and bark chips in between the garden beds, but that hasn't happened yet. And the bikes shouldn't be there. Sorry.)

As I mentioned, I'm doing Square Foot Gardening, so I have my grids on the beds, dividing each square foot, which is planted with various spacings. There are four lettuce plants in a square, but nine spinach plants, and sixteen carrots to a square, for example. Each square that has been planted is labeled.

I planted everything from seed. Some I started indoors and transplanted, and others I planted right in the beds once it warmed up. Here is a transplanted Lolla Rossa lettuce plant. So purty! I have five varieties of lettuce planted in the garden. So far.

Here's a square of Parris Island Cos lettuce. Three were seeds that I planted, and the other was a leftover transplant. I have spaced my plantings so everything isn't ready to be harvested at the same time.

Here is a cute little tomato plant. This one is a Gardener's Delight, cherry tomato. I have five other varieties of tomatoes growing as well. I started them all indoors and moved them to the beds a few weeks ago.

Here is a row of cauliflower plants. Snowball cauliflower. These were started indoors. I have other cauliflowers that have just germinated.

Here is a row of broccoli plants. We love broccoli! The broccoli, the cauliflower, and the peppers get one plant to a square.

Here is a square of Italian parsley. I started these three inside, and since four plants go to a square, I planted a seed in the empty spot. It should be showing up any day now. I have cilantro a few squares down.

Baby carrots! Just starting to grow, all lined up neat and pretty. I have many squares, planted at different times, of carrots. And whenever a seed doesn't germinate, I just go back and fill that spot in with a new seed.

Here are the peas! I'm so excited for these peas. These are peas that will have to be shelled, but I hope to plant edible pod peas as well. They will grow up the nylon netting that is covering the frame behind them.

And my blueberries have blossoms! This is exceptional news. I have three varieties of blueberries, and four plants. (Two of one kind.) I put them in large pots, with Azalea mix since they like acidic soil. As they grow I will repot them, but I wanted to be able to have them forever, and since we rent here I didn't want them in the ground.

Stay tuned! It's only getting better!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Laughter Uncensored

I'd been feeling really sad most of Friday. Nothing specific, just a general blah. When evening came, I drove out to Glendale where I'd be picking up Lyndsay and her friend in a few hours. I craved solitude and distraction, so I headed over to Barnes and Noble, and relished feeling anonymous, even in the crowd.

I stopped at the tables just inside the door and perused the new releases. First, those in fiction. Then, the books about the brain for National Brain Awareness Month (did you know?). I picked one up, This is Your Brain on Music. Did you know that science now believes that to become a virtuoso, you don't need talent, only 10,000 hours of practice? I had to quickly read that chapter. (Maybe someday I'll have 10,000 extra hours and can finally play the piano like I want to!) Then I moved to the nonfiction releases. And one book in particular stood out to me: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn. Its subtitle was "A Love Story". I was intrigued after reading the book's jacket. Something about after being married for a few years they realized they just "weren't that into us", and yet they stayed married anyway, in large part because they had a son with disabilities and they needed to work together to care for him. I love romantic, idealistic love stories like the next girl, but I also like more raw, nontraditional tales of marriage because, sadly, I can relate to them. I like to read about how not everyone except me has blissfully perfect unions, and better yet, when they can take those things that nobody ever talks about, and talk about them with honesty and humor. In my funk, I tucked the book under my arm and trudged upstairs to sit in a chair and read.

The only chair available was a chair next to a middle-aged Asian woman who was engrossed in a Harlequin romance novel. I asked if I could sit next to her and she nodded without looking up. (Must have been a good part.) I scooted my chair over just a bit for some courtesy space. Plus, I've been recovering from some bronchial infection for the last three weeks and I cough like a smoker, which can put people off.

You Say Tomato is written in He-said, She-said format, beginning at the first time the two of them met. In the very first scene I laughed out loud. Not many things make me laugh out loud. Some make me smile, or maybe chuckle, but reading this book gave me much-needed therapy in laughter. Now, I wouldn't say that I heartily recommend the book because it is raw, rude, and irreverent. I admit that I do have an irreverent side. I save it for when I'm with Amber, because she never thinks less of me, and we have some good belly-laughs, but I keep it reined in when I'm with my children, who frankly don't need any encouragement. I cringed at some of the honest recollections of past sexual exploits, but the dealings between the two of them are so funny to me because I understand what it's like to be married to someone so completely different from me. I understand the not-so-perfect marriage. And I loved that not only were they honest about how they are each perceiving things, I love that they did the project together! I couldn't stop laughing, on practically every page, and with every fit of laughter came a fit of coughing that wasn't so fun, and impeded my joy just a bit. When Lyndsay and her friend came to meet me, they found me sitting next to the Asian woman, who was still engrossed in her Harlequin romance, laughing and coughing. Which made them start to laugh.

"Have you just been sitting here laughing by yourself?"


"Why don't you just buy the book, Mom?" Lyns asked.

"I can't, I said. There's too much bad language and it's terribly inappropriate, but it's just so funny!"

So they stood there while I finished the chapter, and wiped tears from my eyes. That felt good.

Then, to top it off, we stopped in Tiffany because I have a bracelet given to me by my sister that is just a touch too big and makes me worry that it will fall off whenever I wear it, so I wanted to have it adjusted. As we walked in, the most beautiful man ever--seriously, ever--approached us and asked how he could help. I apologized for being underdressed for Tiffany, and he smiled. I explained the situation, showed him the bracelet, and stared into his eyes. Crazy beautiful eyes. And just a scruff of facial hair, immaculately groomed, and perfect bone structure, and probably gay--but what a delight to be looked at by him, my goodness. Turns out, that particular Tiffany didn't have a customer service department, so no luck. Except that we walked out of there and I said to the girls, "Was that not the most beautiful man you've ever seen?" And they completely agreed.

I walked back to the car with just a bit of a bounce in my step. And now? I can't stop thinking about that book! I'm dying to read the rest! A little irreverent humor does my heart good sometimes.

Don't think less of me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Firmness and Fluidity

My approach to parenting is to use both firmness and fluidity. Not an easy mix to balance, for me at least. Some things are an easy 'no'. Like, "Mom, can I go to so-and-so's house?" "Is his mother home?" "She's at work, but his brother is home." "Then, no." That sort of thing. And a host of others. Some things have been 'no' for a very long time, and slowly (here's where the fluidity part comes in) as maturity increases, 'yes' has come along instead.

For instance, for most of my parenting life, talking to friends of the opposite sex on the phone was a big fat no. They could develop friendships with boys/girls at school, but not on the phone. When the bigger kids reached the age of 14, then that privilege has been allowed, with a curfew time, and they have handled it responsibly.

I'm also an anti-hanging-out-at-the mall kind of mom. Well, really, an anti hanging-out-period kind of mom. I think there should be a purpose, something to do. I know what happens when kids have nothing to do and the whole big world in front of them.

A few weeks ago, Lyndsay wanted to go to the movies with some friends. All girls, although she tried to test the waters with the accompaniment of one 'special' male friend. That one went down fast. I had never before let her just go to the movies alone, and I wasn't sure I was ready. So, I told her she could go, but I would drive, and I would stay. I just wouldn't sit with them. I like all of her friends, and that was okay. It was a movie I wanted to see anyway. So, we went and I walked in separately, paid separately, and sat separately. (Although I did buy them treats and walk them over. You gotta have treats!) I sat well in front of them, so I couldn't even watch them. It was fine.

But last night Lyndsay came and asked if she and her best friend could go to the Americana (an outdoor mall) in Glendale today, with her best friend's mom dropping off and me picking up. My first response was, "How about I drive, and I stay? I'll just go to Barnes and Noble and you girls can do your thing?" She didn't really expect me to say yes to her original plan, but she said she was just hoping for some 'freedom'. I told her that I trust her, just not everyone else, and would feel better if I was at least close by. She accepted that. But afterwards, my heart felt unsettled. So, I asked her to let me think about it.

I ran through the pros and cons in my mind. She is almost 16. She is a sophomore. I do trust her. It would only be her and her best friend, whom I also love and trust. She would be shopping and not just hanging out. It may be time to give her additional responsibility and privileges. I mean she can drive soon. And date. Oy vey. In two years she won't even live here anymore. Maybe the Americana is a good first step.

So, I went back to her.

"Lyndsay, you know I love you."

"I know, Mom."

"You know it's just really hard for me to accept sometimes that you are growing up and don't need me all the time." (oh great, tears. Stay back!)

"Oh, Mommy."

"I think it will be okay for you to go alone. Her mom can drop off, I'll pick up. I think that will be okay."

Huge grins, and a whole lot of love. Both ways.

So, today I allowed my oldest child a new privilege, never before allowed. Today I took a step back and gave her little itty-bitty wings. Of course, that brings with it all kinds of new worries, but I'll survive.

Sometimes fluidity is hard.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Sometimes, even though I live in a bustling area of the country, I still feel very isolated. I don't have any immediate family nearby, and all of my friends here are "new" friends. You know, great friends, but not "old" friends. These friends here, while I love them and have had some great times with them, they have only known me in this life, my second-marriage California life. And there's just so much more.

Fortunately, because I live in a bustling area of the country, people come and visit, and that fills my heart like nothing else. It reconnects me to other parts of myself and my life my history. And sometimes I just need that. I had two very fortunate weeks last month.

Sara called me on a Wednesday. Her daughters were competing in the Cheer Nationals competition in Anaheim and she would be in town for the weekend. Could I swing a visit? I had to! I'd never driven to Anaheim (yes, yes, I know.) but I now have a GPS unit in my van which has decreased my aimless, tearful driving considerably. I took Conor and Aiden with me and we headed down to the Anaheim Convention Center on that Saturday morning.

Sara is one of the greatest blessings that has ever been given to me. Truly. We met when we were both newly married and about-to-burst pregnant with our first daughters. Our husbands were both in school. We talked every single day on the phone. Every day! About everything from gardening, to Homemaking crafts, to marriage, to what-to-do when the babies (fill in the blank). We also went walking many nights at the school track, sometimes with other ladies, and talked some more.

Over the years our friendship deepened. We each had more babies. My husband graduated, hers went out of state for medical school (taking her with him, gasp!), and I moved to another town too. But still we talked, not so much every day, but often enough, and intensely. With Sara, I rarely chit-chat. We like to get to the heart of the matter. I hang up the phone with Sara and have things to think about. Sometimes for days.

When my first marriage was in trouble, it was to Sara's house (she was now back in Mesa) I fled for a week with my children to sort things out. And Sara doesn't just take me in whenever, she takes me into her heart. There's no lip service with Sara. When my husband did leave, and I embarked on four difficult years of limbo, the phone calls picked back up. So did the prayers. Sara is that kind of friend. She knows every detail of my adult life, I think. And I derive great comfort from her being a second witness. She has great insights and I trust her completely. Being with her, as with other "old" friends is like coming home. So, of course I was driving to Anaheim.

We had about three hours together, in between cheer competitions (her girls did great!) and since we don't talk as often these days due to hectic lives, we got right to the heart of things. All the meaty issues. Of course, I didn't want to leave, but even when I had to, I left feeling full and reconnected. And loved. I know that girl loves me. And love her I do.

And then, as if I wasn't already the luckiest girl on earth, my sister-in-law, Sarah, called me to tell me that they were coming (to Anaheim!) to Disneyland for a family vacation and wanted to work out a time to come over and spend a day with us. Yes! I couldn't wait! Sarah is married to my brother Josiah and they have four of the most adorable children ever. I am the oldest of nine children, Josiah is number three. I miss my siblings and I regret that life has scattered us across the country so that we don't all have the opportunity to raise our families together.

I had started school that week and looking forward to their visit calmed my first-week nerves. I cleaned and I planned and re-planned our dinner menu over and over again. When I saw them walk up to the house, it was as if I had just seen them, even though it had been more than a year, but that's what I love about familiar people. When I hugged Josiah and Sarah, they don't know, but I choked back tears, because it just felt so good to be with family. To have them in my home, to have them in my arms.

We had a great time eating (Josiah picking every last vegetable out of his dinner and scooting it to the side of his plate), playing Wii, talking, laughing, telling stories from our youth (apparently just when Josiah was about to get off for stealing a bunch of fire extinguishers from our elementary school because his friend took the heat, I came home and manipulated a confession from him and turned him in. Darn it. That sounds just like me), more laughing. Adam played card games with the kids, Sarah played the piano and sang. The house was full of cousins. I just soaked it all in and tried to store it away. I never wanted them to leave, but the late hour demanded our fun come to an end.
The moral of the story is, I love visits! Please visit!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Review: The Cleansing of America

Even as a young child, I had a spiritual longing in my heart to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. I learned about the signs of His coming, and I watched for them. I remember learning that the moon would be blood-red, and sometimes, in my innocence and eager youth, I would see the orange-red moons of autumn and hopefully think, "Is it red enough? Is this the time?"

As I have grown and studied scripture, I have learned much more, but I still know with a certainty that Jesus Christ will indeed come to earth again, that He will rule and reign, and there will be peace. I no longer watch for blood-red moons, except with nostalgia for my youthful anticipation, but I do watch the world for the fulfillment of prophecy that will lead up to the Savior's return.

I believe in prophecy.

I have studied scripture carefully enough to recognize that when a prophet speaks in the name of God, that prophecy is always fulfilled. Always. I am grateful for that testimony and record in the Bible, and I am grateful for the additional clarification and prophecy contained in the Book of Mormon.

And because I know God loves His children, I believe that He has once again put prophets on the earth to guide us in these wrapping-up days of the history of this world. I listen to a prophet.

As such, it makes sense to me that God continues to speak to His children not only through His prophet, but also through revelation to worthy individuals who seek Him. I have experienced that revelation in my life, in issues pertaining to my life. I believe in visions and dreams and visitations of heavenly beings. You should know all of this about me, before you read on.

I was given the privilege and opportunity to read a copy of the first of W. Cleon Skousen's about-to-be posthumously published books, The Cleansing of America. Dr. Skousen spent most of his life researching and writing about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Constitution of America, specifically the divine Founding of this country and the prophecies that have been written about its future. He was a devoted defender of this country and its Constitution. He passed away in 2006, but left several unpublished books in the care of his sons with the direction that they would know when the time was right that they be published. His heirs have decided that time is now, and Valor Publishing will be honored with the release of The Cleansing of America on April 1, 2010.

Scripture records that in the earth's last days, there will be a great erosion of moral values. Society will abandon God's laws in favor of pop culture. Also, calamities and catastrophes will sweep the earth, and we will be afflicted with famine, disease, earthquake, fire, and flood. There will be a cleansing of America in preparation for a Zion society to be built up before Jesus once again returns to the earth.

Skousen's Cleansing gathers the prophecies from scripture and puts them in order, easy to understand and recognize for the reader. He explains the meaning of difficult-to-understand passages and includes modern-day prophets' visions to shed further light on ancient prophecies regarding our day.

Admittedly, some of what will surely come is hard to process. That the world can become, rather is becoming, so wicked, is easy enough to see. The loss of morality and the increase of corruption in our governments and societies are having an erosive effect that will only continue to escalate. It does incite at least a small amount of fear to recognize that the impending (and occurring) natural disasters and sweeping judgments of the wrath of a displeasured God are not just stories and fairy tales, but that, just as every other prophecy recorded, they will surely come to pass.

When I began reading Cleansing, I had gotten about 30 pages in, which had set up the scene for the beginning stages of this great purging of the wickedness and corruption that will inevitably happen in America. Detailed were the list of evidences that such a cleansing is indeed necessary. That night, I went to see the Oscar-nominated film Avatar, and was impressed with the correlation of the movie's message to this book I'd begun reading. In Avatar, as in our country, people and especially people in power, have desecrated that which is sacred. And when people think that they can redefine sacred, great calamity is sure to follow.

But while God is just, and while He will not be mocked, He is also loving and protective of those who love Him and serve Him. Those who follow Jesus Christ need not fear. Those who are followers of Jesus Christ will instead be prepared. They will fortify themselves and their families. They will know the signs. They will know the recorded scripture and they will be heeding His living prophet on the earth today. (And lest you think I am implying otherwise, they will not all be Latter-day Saints.) Skousen's ultimate message is one of peace and encouragement. His detailed research on the coming Kingdom of God or Zion societies makes me excited. To live under God's law, with a once-again pure Constitution, with no poor among us, no war among us, having an economic system under God's law that was once clearly seen and proscribed by our Founding Fathers sounds almost heavenly to me. To read and begin to understand what is possible, surely what the future of this country holds, even after hovering near the brink of ruin, only strengthens my faith in God and in His plan.

In the meantime, I consider every prompting to gather my children and read to them from the scriptures, and every yearning in my soul to store up supplies for my family against a time of need, and even every longing to get out in the dirt and tend my garden crop to be my own personal revelation, guiding me to that which is most important, that which will ready me and make me a wise steward. A heavenly nudge, if you will. I believe in heavenly nudges.

Skousen's The Cleansing of America will be available for purchase on April 1, and there is a discount offered for pre-ordering a copy from Valor Publishing. I think it is appropriate reading for those who A) love God and want to serve Him; B) those who love this great country and care about her future, or C) those who are students of the scriptures and want the tutelage of a great scholar to help them understand prophecies concerning our day.

I am better for having read it.