The move was hard. It was hard to leave family and friends. But the move was harder on us financially. We moved during the summer to get settled before I started school. I also had to start over with a new job. We watched our small savings dwindle. Jennifer and I looked over our finances when school started and I needed to buy textbooks. We decided we would need to drop our cell phone, internet and cable service. We would barely have enough money for food and diapers. We knew we were in the right place doing the right thing, it was just going to be tight.
A few weeks before Christmas my company downsized and I lost my job. I went home to tell my wife. She was putting in a pizza when the phone rang. I watched Jennifer paint Jordan's hand red and press it to a paper wreath while I listened to her end the conversation.
"Yes, I had heard the Wallace's baby was still in NICU." She painted Jordan's other hand green and pressed it to the paper. "We'll be happy to bring in a dinner." She hung up and looked at me. I nodded. Jennifer packed up our pizza, garlic bread and salad and left. We ate Jordan's favorite dinner when she got back: PB&J. Over dinner, Jennifer told of the Wallace's bare apartment.
I looked at our own little tree. We bought it when we were first married. It had one present under it. At Enrichment, Jennifer had made an etching on glass of the temple we were sealed in. I looked at Jordan. I knew he wouldn't know if he got anything for Christmas. But at two-years-old he made the best car sounds a father could hope for.
I looked around our little one room apartment. Jennifer and Jordan had colored Christmas and Nativity scenes and hung them around the living room. Paper snowflakes adorned the windows. I went to the kitchen and opened the fridge. It looked like we had a choice of PB&J or tomato soup for Christmas dinner. If the food lasted that long.
That night, I decided it was time to swallow my pride and talk to our bishop. Jennifer had loving suggested I make an appointment with him but I said no, we are fine. I called the bishop's secretary. He told me the bishop could see me tonight.
"Welcome, Brother Whitlock!" Bishop Draper shook my hand and motioned for me to sit in the chair across from him at his desk. "What can I do for you? Or sometimes I like to ask, what can the Lord do for you?"
"Well, Bishop, I came today because there is too much month at the end of my money. Our cupboards are bare and I have no job." I tried to smile.
Bishop Draper sat back in his chair, steepled his fingers under his chin and looked at me. He asked about Jordan and our medical bills. He asked me about school, my skills and previous jobs. His next question surprised me.
"Have you been paying your tithing?" he asked, quietly.
"Yes!" I replied, emphatically. It was always the first check written after I got paid.
He nodded and smiled.
"Then all will be well, Brother Whitlock. All will be well." He stood and walked around the desk to me. "Do you have enough faith?"
I hesitated while I thought about his question. I slowly nodded.
Bishop Draper extended his hand to me and I stood up to shake it.
He put a hand on my shoulder. "The Lord knows your needs. He loves you."
As I drove home, I wondered what I would tell my wife over another PB&J dinner. There was a knock on the door. One of the local youth held out a manila envelope, requesting a small donation to help a local family who lost their husband and baby to a house fire. The rest of the family were living with grandparents until they could get on their own feet again. I put all the money in the envelope I had on me: $1. Now I had no money for a toy car, but I knew I had given the widows mite.
The next day, I grabbed the mail. I had sent my resume to several organizations and was waiting for a phone call or a letter. All I found was the usual credit card applications and last minute Christmas shopping ads. I threw the mail on the table. A red envelope caught my eye. I picked it up and looked at the return address. "Santa Claus, North Pole." I looked at the postmark. "North Pole."
"Jennifer! We got a letter from Santa!" I opened the letter with Jennifer looking over my shoulder. The letter told us that Santa has helpers around the world who gave to those in need. One such helper wanted to help us. Jennifer and I looked at the gift card in her hand with big eyes. Arms around each other and tears flowing down our cheeks, we knelt in humble prayer to thank our Heavenly Father for his tender mercies.
We bundled Jordan up and went Christmas shopping. We bought Jordan a ball and a toy car. I bought Jennifer perfume and she bought me a robe. She said she was tired of seeing my holey pajamas. We also bought food for our cupboards and Christmas dinner.
When we checked out we were surprised to see the amount of money left on the card. Our Santa Helper had given us enough money to cover our purchases and more. Jennifer and I looked at each other and smiled. We took our purchases to the car and went back inside.
We went to the card aisle and found a big card with Santa on it. We went home and found the address of a family who needed a Santa Helper. We put the gift card inside the card and mailed it the next day. Now we were one of Santa's Helpers.
The feeling of this Christmas are indescribable on all levels. The joy of giving and receiving this season will not be forgotten.
There are 24 stories you can vote on. 15 stories are from published authors and 9 are from unpublished authors.
My story is under the 'unpublished' author section! So make sure to read and vote on those stories! :)
I can't tell you which one is mine, but it will still be fun to read some new Christmas stories.
The rules for voting are on her blog but I'll also post them here:
VOTE any time from 12:01 a.m. on December 14th through 11:59 p.m. on December 20th. Time stamp on the voting comment determines whether or not your vote will count.
Anyone who visits this blog may vote.
You may make all the comments you like, but VOTING COMMENTS must clearly indicate that it is a vote. (Ex: I'm voting for this one...)
You may vote twice in each category: Published and Unpublished. You may only vote once per story. We're on the honor system here.
You MAY vote for yourself.
You can vote by whatever criteria you want, just don't make it a popularity contest.
All stories have been posted anonymously. You may take credit for your story after the winners have been announced.
Twas the last good nights sleep
by Kim Golling
Twas the Night before inauguration, when all through the White House
Not a President or an Elect was sleeping, not even a gray haired mouse.
The Speeches were done, laid by the chimney with care
In hopes that ‘St. Nick’s Proofreading & Editing’ soon would be there
The Cabinet Members were nestled all snug with the Feds
While visions of Grandeur danced in their heads
And Mrs. “O” in her Armani and Mr. “O” with his cigs
Had just settled back to enjoy more Bush digs
When somewhere between the West Wing and the East
There arouse such a clatter, a big bang at the least
Away went the Secret Service to see what’s the buzz
Called out the National Guard and woke up the fuzz
The Moon shimmered somewhat, but dimmed by the smog
That’s what the environmentalists said, but it was really just fog
When what to the wondering eye should appear
But a van driving up, lights off and in low gear
With a little old driver so sly and so slick
I knew it was the editing services of little old St. Nick’s
More wicked and evil their courses they came
Mr. “O” whistled and chortled then called them by name
Reverend Wright, good to see you, help Miss Streisand from the van
Mayor Daley, Good Ol’ Tony, please help if you can
There was Ayer and George Clooney, even Oprah joined the crew
“Quick, down the tunnel, Whoopi, hurry, you too!”
The raucous that was caused earlier was just a sly scheme
To distract the police squads and the whole Secret Service Team
And then in a pounding, you could hear them all run
Down the corridor, up the passageway, happy he’d won
They made their way past the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room and West Wing
Past many other rooms of Blue, Red, even Green
A stack full of papers they clutched tight to their breast
They must get this done there was no time to rest
Mr. “O”’s eyes how they crinkled, his smirk ever so daring
His cheeks how they raised as he smiled, his teeth baring
His dull little mouth was drawn tight in a kink
As the cigarette butts in the ashtray were starting to stink
The end of a cigarette held tight in his lips
And the smoke it encircled him as he stood hands on hips
He had an announcement “I’m in quite a pinch”
For a moment he looked stunningly like the Grinch
A wink of his eye and a nod of his head
Soon gave me that sinking, horrible feeling of dread
They spoke many words as they shuffled his speech to eliminate all flaw
Many promises, lower taxes, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah
And reaching to shake hands to all who helped out
Giving a nod, he thanked all and slept well, no doubt
But to those who stand stunned at the majority of the nation
Don’t be glum, don’t turn the dial, don’t change the station
It’s only four years to endure the pain and to suffer
We’ve had harder times, really much tougher
But as we bid farewell to President George W. Bush
Store your food, save your money, buy more guns, save your own tush
As we exclaim ere we hide in our cellar
Merry Christmas to all, 2012 will be stellar!
Here is a link to her blog if you want to win Amazon $$ (and who doesn't want to buy a book?)
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month 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.
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.
In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 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.
I wrote 50,497 words from November 4-30!
I did it! Yeah! I did it!
It was fun and hard and exasperating but I buckled down and wrote a novel! :)
The first preview that is shown before the "Twilight" is called... I don't want to give the movie any free publicity but it is rated 'R' and it is SCARY!! It is about a girl who had a twin brother. You'll know the preview when a little boy hits the babysitter hard in the face with a book or something.
The young teenagers I was with all screamed during the preview and talked about how scary it was at least 3-4 that night. Many wished they would have covered their eyes. It did lead to a good discussion on the topic of why the prophets counsel us not to watch rated 'R' shows and being careful with 'PG13' movies as well. The images that are in the girls heads from the preview left an lasting impression. A few even voiced concerns about having nightmares.
If you are taking a young teenager BEWARE! I don't know how to avoid the previews except to get to the movie late or cover your eyes. We saw 5 previews before "Twilight" started. 3 of the 5 are rated 'R' movies! It's getting harder to protect ourselves and our children. I am going to talk to the manager of our theater. I would urge everyone with young teens to talk to the managers of theaters about the previews. It may not change Hollywood, but it we can change our neighborhoods!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Contest Time! I need your help!
This is part of an email I'll be sending out to my friends. Since we're all friends here, please consider yourself invited to spread the word and win prizes! Send a message to five friends, or post something on your blog, and I'll enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Just copy me or send the link to: contest @ suzannevreese.com. Even bigger prizes are available if you actually read the book and recommend it! Finally, one last favor to take note of: if you've decided to buy the book (just cause you love me or whatever) please do it ON DECEMBER 11 FROM AMAZON!
See my website for a preview or more info!
I spent large chunks of my Saturday hobnobbing with some of Utah's author. Local authors. One from Orem, one from Lehi, another from Sandy, all close enough to be my friend. Not that I am lacking in friends; they probably aren't either. But after I talked to a few of them I felt I could be friends with them. Besides being down-to-earth, fun and helpful, they didn't laugh when I said I wrote a book.So this is a plug for all the authors today who didn't laugh at me!
Buy their books!
Michele Bell Ashman
A Modest Proposal
The Spirit of Christmas
A Candle in the Window
Heather B. Moore (or H.B. Moore)
The Out of Jerusalem series (4 books)
Season of Sacrifice
Strength to Endure
Nothing to Regret
And I will put a plug in for the store because they didn't boot me out when they saw me again. And again. And again. I know the owners/managers at Provident Book would love for you to buy ALL these books at their bookstore. Don't forget to look at the toys and games.Go on! Go look!
Here are some links:
"Dollmage" by Martine Leavitt
I love to write. It may not be good or change the world but I get such a lift from writing! When I turn off my computer for the day I feel recharged. The mommy juice is full again! My family should be grateful I take time to write. Alas, it also means many things fall by the wayside like a clean house. But who cares when mommy is happy!
The road was littered with debris- a brown shoe, pair of glasses, road map, backpack, a white sheet.
I turned my head away when my eyes fell on the white sheet.
I heard no noise except my labor breathing.
No one came for me.
I was alone.
I wanted mom.
I pulled my legs in closer to my chest and wrapped my arms around them.
I rested my head on my knees and watched drops ripple on the pavement.
The glare of the lights didn’t touch me but I saw their reflection in the rain: blue, white, red, blue, white, red.
The word suddenly exploded with all the noise and pain I had been holding away.
“Mom?” I screamed hysterically.
“Cassidy?” Mom’s hysteria climbed. “Where’s my daughter?”
“We’ve accounted for everyone,” was the answer.
“My daughter was in the car with her dad!” Mom screamed.
I watched long inhuman shadows fall across me and move on. I heard my name again and again.
I screamed in answer.
“Cassidy?” I filtered Mom’s voice through the chaos.
“Here! I found her!”
I closed my eyes and let go.
I was safe.
I am not sure how I want to run this blog so I'm just going to write pieces of my first book and see how it looks in print!