You’re Invited! Hilary Weeks Performs her new CD “Love Your Life!”

Click here to play:

 “LOVE YOUR LIFE” MUSIC SAMPLE! ❤

in-the-woods

Trish and I have tickets to see Hilary Weeks perform at Time Out for Women in Portland November 4th!

Since I once wrote for her blog, Hilary sent me a sample of her music and asked me to pass it on to you. “Love Your Life” was released September 16th and is already #7 on the Christian Billboard Charts! It is her 11th CD and the 3rd to make the top ten. I hope you love it as much as I do!

cd-cover

See you there!  road-trip

 

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Link

Resolved!

http://www.billionclicks.org/blog/2013-12-31/resolve-to-have-a-good-day-day-by-day/

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Stones, Storms and Atonement

Mark 4:39

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind,

and said unto the sea,aPeace, be still.

And the wind ceased, and there was a great bcalm.”

Today when I rose to run, I was running into the wind. I thought how like my life this storm was. Some days are blue sky and soft breezes and others I am running into the wind and rain. The storms feel like they will push me to my knees.

On days like this when I run, I try to remember that I never run alone. Sometimes I catch myself looking to my left and smiling. I hope I am always on the right side of the Lord. I know he knows my heart and cares for it. When life is the perfect storm I know I never run alone.

One of my favorite stories begins when the Savior walks into the perfect storm. In John Chapter 8.

 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

 5 Now Moses in the alaw commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger awrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without asin among you, let him bfirstcast a cstone at her.

 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

 9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their ownaconscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do Iacondemn thee: go, and bsin no cmore.

 12 ¶Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the alight of the world: he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life.

I choose the light. 

Only one person knew the woman who lay on the ground. Only one person knew her heart and he stood between her and the stones. He loved her, he protected her and invited her to go and sin no more. He didn’t say the sin or whatever was happening in her life was acceptable. He forgave her, loved her, protected her and later atoned for her sins.

He is the great example.

The question I asked myself this morning is what will I do with the stones that come into my life. When all my world is a storm. When I find myself laying on the ground will I remember the Savior is beside me? Will I remember, when anger is blowing my way that I need not cover my head, because he will stand between me and the stones?

What will I do with the stones that are meant for me? Will I pick them up, the angry words, the gossip, the hurt and carry them with me, heavy on my soul? Or will I hurl them back at those I believe threw them? I hope I can hand them to the Savior who offers to carry all the burdens I cannot.

I hope I remember to be thankful. He stands between me and all the storms and stones of life.

I ran six miles today. At the half way point I turned around and tried to see the storm and the story from the other side.

What if I am like the Pharisees? Am I the one carrying stones and waiting for my chance to storm, to throw them and the hurl accusations at others? Do I create a heavier burden for the Savior? If I had a rock in my hand right now would someone’s name be written on it?

I ran home on the beach and thought about all the stones I needed to leave in the sand. I realized that in my life there are stones that I will never fully understand and I can only let them rest in the Savior’s wounded hand.

Storms come and go in my life. This one will pass. I will run and you will see me. Watch as every once in a while I look over my left shoulder hoping I am still on the right side of the Lord.

Miracles and Clickers for All

me

It has been a long time since I have posted on my own blog page. So to catch you up, I have been busy writing for Billionclicks.org and Familyshare.com. Stacy is helping me with a project rewrite. (Yup Stacy I am working!)

This month Hilary Weeks gave me a special opportunity to share a passion with my friends and family. She is letting me give you a coupon for a free clicker, wristband and sticker when you buy a clicker kit. (Just in time for Christmas!) Pass it on. The free clicker offer is good from November 1st to the 30th of this year.

Clicker Kit Coupon

Order you Clicker Kit HERE

Use the code: SHANNON445 and receive a free clicker, wristband and sticker, a $4.99 value

Let me tell you how I learned about clickers. I have a very special family. I have been blessed with cousins, aunts and uncles who are dear to me. My cousins, Kristi,  Jamie and my Aunt Joann and I went to Time Out for Women in Portland Oregon.

Joann Sappenfield, Jami Kelly, Kristi Johnson-James and Me!

Joann Sappenfield, Jami Kelly, Kristi Johnson-James and Me!

While we were there we heard Hilary Weeks talk about clicking.

I loved her story! We all went home with clickers. It didn’t take me long to become a believer. Life can be tough. This year, as you know has been the worst. On those days that I don’t think I can make it another minute, when I feel like I can’t run, write, paint or even breathe you will find my clicker on my wrist or in my pocket.

A few months after Time Out for Women, I began writing for Familyshare.com. I wrote a piece called “Life is Hard, How are you Coping.” I used one of Hilary’s videos,  Beautiful Heartbreak.

Just to prove that miracles happen, she found me and asked me to write for her. The universe is small and we never know where we will find our friends and opportunities to serve. How grateful I have been. During one of the toughest years of my life writing and clicking have given me something positive and uplifting to focus on.

Here is just one of the many reasons Hilary is a hero and changes hearts every day.

And so in the spirit of “Say Love” I want to share Billion Clicks with you. Clickers take my days from survival to growth.

Life doesn’t get easier, but the view from the end will be amazing. Today, I choose to find joy in my journey no matter where it takes me.

The view from my world

The view from my world

  • So…Help us reach a BILLION clicks!  We are on a mission to change the world for good…one click at a time.  We have almost 3.5 millions clicks and hope to reach a billion!  Think of the difference one positive thought makes, then multiply that by a billion and watch the world become a better place.
  • Get a Free Digital Kit.  When people enter their clicks at BillionClicks.org, they can receive a free digital kit with downloadable quotes, wallpaper and more.
  • Stocking stuffers, etc.  The Clicker Kits make great stocking stuffers, neighbor gifts, employee gifts,  teacher’s Christmas gifts.  Also, clicking is a great way to prepare for Thanksgiving.  Last November Hilary Week’s family placed a community clicker in the kitchen.  They clicked over 5,000 times for things we were grateful for!  Clicking is a great way to achieve New Year’s resolutions too!

Last year I gave Joann Johnson a Clicker Kit for her 29th plus xx years birthday. She and Kristi shared their clickers with Anthony and Jackson their Great and Grandchildren. The boys learned to click. Kristi said that one day after a near traffic accident and a little “Holy Cow” from her, the boys wanted to know if there was a way to minus numbers. Nope, no negative here!

So, to Anthony, Jackson and all of you – Stay focused on the positive. Count your blessings, happy thoughts and be grateful for one more day to do a little better, be a little better and love a little more.

The Symonds Family First Christmas Memory

Many Many years ago I found myself a twenty seven year old single mother with five children. I moved to a tiny house, and met the boy next door. Luckily for him or for me, he thought I was amazing and we fell in love. We hoped that our first Christmas together would be special. He took a job at the local steel mill and immediately worked his way up to an excellent salary. We were even able to put a motor in our old Volkswagen Van.

2011 christmas tree

It was two weeks until Christmas when we learned that the mill annually laid all the new employees off for a month, beginning two weeks before Christmas. There we were, and no packages for the family. The mill adopted us and the other men promised a sub for Santa we wouldn’t forget. I would like to say that we were grateful, but in truth, we just wanted to be able to buy our own Christmas. And never mind Christmas, how were we going to pay the rent.  I worked and earned top dollar for the year, four dollars and twenty nine cents an hour. The rent and bills added up to more than that.

Christmas Eve arrived and our community was having the coldest winter on record. Snow was piled so deep around our house it was meeting the first story eves. Roofs were collapsing around town, and a local mall roof collapsed. The pity party was on! We loaded up the van to go to my parents to watch my wealthy siblings and their children unwrap gifts and to watch my children get coats from Grandma because they needed them so badly.

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On the way to my mother’s we passed a woman and a man under a freeway overpass, with an open suite case, snow blowing all around. We should go back, I thought.  And then I though, It’s not safe. I wrestled with myself the whole way there. The kids ungratefully unwrapped their new Walmart coats and removed their little leather bomber jackets they had outgrown long ago and their beautiful coats I had purchased in wealthier times. They were less than grateful.  We thanked my mother and loaded the van to go into Salt Lake City to see the lights on temple square.

As we were driving into Salt Lake and listening to joyful carols on the radio, the kids complained about their new coats. Then over the radio came a special announcement. It was so cold outside people on the streets were dying. The shelters were over flowing. It was plea for coats and blankets at the shelter and an address to drop them off at. I realized that as pathetic and needy as we were that Christmas there was still something we could do for someone else.

I turned around and announced to the kids that we were going to take their old coats to the shelter. “Not my leather bomber jacket!” my son cried out and then tears ran down his face. My oldest daughter just folded her arms, looked down her nose and hated me. The old van chugged along until we pulled off the freeway. Amidst piles of snow higher than our van we finally found a street sign and stumbled on the shelter.

We pulled into the solid sheet of ice called a parking lot and parked in front of the old grocery store turned shelter.  I realized my kids needed to learn that their lives were actually pretty good. I told them to get out of the Van and get their coats. They complained and grumbled loudly. Finally I had them all lined up, wearing new coats, hats and gloves and carrying their old coats. We headed form the double glass doors.

The Shelter door opened and a man without a coat came out pushing a shopping cart full of newspapers. He was very very thin.  He stopped me, “The shelter is all full up.” He told me. “But don’t worry they are serving a hot meal under the freeway. I am on my way there now. I can take you.” I realized that even though this man had nothing he had stopped to take care of me. He had looked at my old van and thought I was homeless. He hadn’t hesitated to help someone else in need when he had nothing.

“No,” I said, “we just came to bring coats to the shelter.” My kids held up the coats and looked at him silently and in shock.

“Coats!” he exclaimed, “Look kids’ coats!” The newspapers parted and a tiny boy and girl sat up. They were both in dirty short sleeved tee shirts and so very thin and cold. My kids threw their coats into the basket and watched as the small children joyfully put them on. Then they threw in their new hats and gloves and I watched with pride as they learned the most valuable lesson of their lives. They learned that no matter how poor you are and no matter how bad your world is or seems you always have something to give to someone else.  You always have something to offer, even if it is simply being a good receiver.

Many years have passed and every time one of my children were assigned to write a Christmas story at school, this is the story they wrote. They have grown up to be nurses, scout master, police officers, park rangers, social workers, soldiers and to serve in every capacity possible in their community.

I guess I share this story with you because it is my pleasure to be able to share whatever I can with you this Christmas. We are still not rich. My husband runs a business, teaches a class and we both work full time and still every month is house payment countdown, but we are rich. We are rich in love and rich in family. We are rich because God blesses us tenfold for every act of service and everything we offer in absolute love and in his name.

Image

My husband adopted my five children and we had a sixth. We moved out of the snow and to the seaside where we live in a drafty hundred year old house and have a loving family that includes people like Jeff. We have a strong testimony of God’s love for us and this country and we believe the way to make it great is by changing one heart at a time. We hope you have the best Christmas in your memory and do something every day in the following year as you already do to go above and beyond your duty to serve.

December 2012 Image

Because Joel Symonds went away….

Because Joel Symonds went away…..

Tsunami – in Perspective

Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise AKA Jana and Shannon

This morning, the morning after, I knelt and prayed. I thanked my Father in Heaven for preserving all my loved ones and beloved friends. In my heart I reviewed each and every one, my daughter a nurse in the Newport Hospital and her husband, my son a police officer in Astoria, my pregnant daughter in law and grandchild to be in Warrenton, my son and his wife in Anchorage Alaska, my ward friends, my seaside friends, the Chapmans, the Farmers, my work family and ward family. All the people the Lord has blessed me with in my life. I thanked him because yesterday I thought I might lose them all.

I also asked Heavenly Father to bless all of the people in Japan, all of the souls sent home to Heaven and all of their loved ones left behind. I told him that I hoped that when those lost in the Earthquake and Tsunami came home to his waiting arms they didn’t remember the fear of the approaching water or the terror of the last minutes of their life. Even though I knew their sweet reunion with Heaven and family would make that short moment bearable, I hoped it would be forgotten and lost. Because I know I have once again been changed forever and I will never forget.

Thursday, March tenth, when I fell exhausted into bed early, it followed a three-day crying jag. My job had been demanding, exhausting and often less than kind. People I loved at work had said things that had ripped my heart out and made me question why I was still working there. Income taxes loomed on the horizon like Mount Everest, an insurmountable job that would take my tiny savings account, once again I felt like the house was an unacceptable mess and the next day I had to make the dangerous winter drive over the mountain again to get what most assuredly would be bad news at OHSU. I felt like my life was careening out of control. It all seemed so important as I struggled to shut my mind down and snatch a few moments of blissful unconsciousness.

The small fireplace in my bedroom was burning warm and soft, the room was warm, the blanket thick and my pillows soft as I dreamed of nothing. Across the ocean nameless faceless mothers sent children to school, went to work, and thought it was just another day. They wondered what they would make for dinner and why their husband was always late. They worried about important things like bills, sickness and old age. Then the world rocked.

Can the whole world feel the collective cry of a thousand souls in anguish? Are we spiritually connected across time and space to the souls of our earthly brothers and sisters? When the Japanese Island moved eight miles to the east, the earth’s rotation changed by ten centimeters and tipped on its axis, did I feel it? Did I feel the world change or was I part of the change? When the earth shifted, something in me shifted, and I was definitely tipped on my axis.

My cell phone ripped me from my dreams at about 11:30 PM. My nephew Nathan told Scott and I that there had been an 8.8 (numbers that changed hour by hour) earthquake in Japan and a Tsunami was headed out way. My heart jumped and I went into auto pilot while Scott tried to get more information. Nathan said he was watching the news right now on KGW, and that a Tsunami watch was in effect. He asked if we could we go up and sandbag the family beach house. Scott said no, and hung up. He turned to me, and we silently agreed, people before houses.

We don’t have cable and so we couldn’t just turn on the news and check. I do have a smart phone, but I didn’t want to wrestle with it, while the wave rolled our direction. We didn’t know how long ago the earthquake had happened, we didn’t know what time the wave would get here, we didn’t know if it would be so small you wouldn’t notice, or if this would be the last time we would stand in our sanctuary, our home. But we both knew how we felt. We felt the jolt. The world had rocked. There was a collective cry vibrating in our bones. We opted to get up the hill while the roads weren’t choked with cars, like the last Tsunami warning, and check the phone there.

We quickly dressed, grabbed the seventy-two hour kits we have been meaning to repack, wondered how rotten the food was, and sprinted out the door. Scott ran back in for the portable Tsunami radio, which was scrolling the words, “Tsunami watch”, and I turned the car around. In less than five minutes we were parked on the top of Cooper looking back over the sleeping city. Scott lamented not having a hand-held Ham Radio, while I searched channel KGW on my smart phone and watched the quake for the first time. My heart dropped as I watched the Japanese and knew that hundreds must be dead. Tsunami’s were most assuredly happening and families were torn asunder as workers were stranded in cities hours from home without trains, roads or cars.

As our hearts beat, we reviewed the situation and wondered what to do. We opted for better safe than sorry. I had the appointment in Portland, we could just go over the hill now, and be safe, or we could go to Saddle Mountain, sleep in the car and I could bring Scott home in the morning if all was clear and go to Portland then. At least, we were still in the right direction for OHSU. Heaven forbid you miss an appointment with a specialist.

We decided to call our son in Warrenton and the bishop while we drove. We headed to the Highway twenty-six junction and called Joseph in Warrenton. He and Lindsay talked and decided to stay in bed, they were well away from the coast and two hundred feet up out of the tsunami zone. My head knew they were right, but my heart worried for them. We called the bishop. The tsunami, we now knew wasn’t destined to get here until probably seven in the morning. He opted to wait and watch for now. I told him about the last Tsunami warning before his time in Seaside. As Scott and I approached the junction, grateful that there was no traffic yet, I wanted gum, and realized I had left my purse and medicine at home. Who cares about the meds that keep me standing, I wanted my charge cards! I wanted my family.

Over five years ago there was another large Tsunami warning. I was home alone with the kids, Scott was working in the locked Juvenile facility. My daughter Jamie was living in the Seaside Aquarium, as a night watchman and employee. Her boss Keith, called her. There had been an earthquake and a tsunami was headed our way. Once again, I grabbed the three children living at home with the dog, my visiting parents, sister and her kids and raced up the hill. We went to a friend’s house that perched on the highest point in Seaside and parked. They were awake and watching cable news (something I didn’t have then either). My son Joel, a high schooler, got out of the car with his Dads pistol in one hand and the dog and asked me, “Should I go back for the seventy-two hour kits?”

Later that night, after the entire county had already evacuated, we had called all our friends and were waiting in the summer night. Seaside finally gave in and turned on the Tsunami alarms. With a view to die for, we watched the city come awake. Car lights turned all over town, and from the water line up, headed our direction. People drove for what looked like a few blocks and then the headlights stopped moving. The street and long driveway at our location filled like a parking lot, and people got out of their cars and ran in our direction. Helicopters swooped, police lights spun and loud speakers blared. It was like a bizarre science fiction movie. We had called the nineteen-year-old Mormon Missionaries who lived on the cove. They called my cell back and said they weren’t allowed to come to us. The Police had turned their car onto Highway 26. The police were closing roads and routing traffic. They were too young and excited to know they should be scared.

The wave was supposed to be here. I watched in horror as people on foot were still running up the hill. Luckily for our little town, it never came, and all we lost was a nights sleep. But it was a good warning and for years I drove around with my seventy-two hour kit strapped in my car taking up all kinds of good room. The kits are in back pack form, so we can carry them if we can’t drive.  We keep the tires pumped up on enough bicycles for everyone in the house.

No once again I have had another wake up call. Nathan’s call tonight reminded me that life is precious and that at any moment it can change.

We parked up an empty gated driveway near the Saddle Mountain junction. I got to nature potty, and then snuggle in without a blanket in a cold car. Our temperature sensor said it was thirty-one degrees outside. We watched Japan on my tiny smart phone screen and wondered if we had done the right thing by leaving. Should we go back for my purse? Should we go back to Joe’s to wait with Lindsay, as he would have to go to work? If we went back, would traffic choke like before, and would we get stuck someplace worse? Finally we dropped off to light sleep for a few minutes.

Once again I woke to bad news. An Oregon State Trooper pulled up and asked if we had seen the crash a half mile up the road. I told him, we were just sleeping here. He didn’t even blink or ask why. He told us that a man had run his car into the guard rail and they had reason to believe it was on purpose. He was suicidal and mentally ill, and if he walked by we should call nine one one. “No time to talk,” he said and sped away. Scott and I looked at each other. When his lights left, the night got very dark. “Lets move.” We said together. Nervously laughing at the ridiculous night, we started the car, while we wondered where to go.

We decided to go back down to the fifty-three junction.  We parked in the little gas station parking lot and turned the car off again and tried to sleep. Then the cars began to come. At first they came slowly, one, then another, then two at a time and finally in a pretty steady stream. We wondered what to do. We talked to our six kids, making sure everyone was in a safe place and that they all knew we were safe.

Nathan had been keeping us updated. Then we got a call from our son Joel. Joel had been watching online, as he lives in a bay area. He said Hawaii had an earthquake.  Hawaii was bracing for a Tsunami. There were thirty minute gas lines in Seaside and traffic was starting to pick up. That decided it. We headed over the hill to Portland. Scott would go to the doctor with me. He wanted to hear what they had to say anyway. We would go to my cousins. My cousin and I are three months apart. and a matched set. She is my Thelma and I am her Louise. Take us apart and we are anxious, serious, driven and depressed. Put us together and you have instant giggles, adventures and fun. Apart and she’s afraid of heights, together and we leave for the grocery store, make the split second decision to take a small plane out over the ocean, and talk the pilot into breaking FAA rules by flying closer to the light house so we can get better pictures.

We joined the line of traffic and headed up the hill. The temperature had dropped to twenty-nine and traffic was moving at about thirty miles an hour. By the time I reached the rest area I HAD to stop. When we entered the parking lot our four-wheel drive slid for the first time. The parking lot was full. It was about two-thirty in the morning. The pavement was slick enough to skate on. I walked up to a group of serious looking people who were pointing at the road. “What’s going on?” I asked. They pointed at the line of tail lights going up the mountain. “Traffic, and ice,” a man offered laughing. I smiled. “Everyone wants to leave town,” I said. Nervous laughter made it sound like the joke of the year. We were strangers and new best friends for a split second. They were deciding where to wait things out. Camp 18, a restaurant on mile marker eighteen was filling up and there was definitely traffic on icy roads. There was a funny sense of party in the strange heightened energy.

We pulled out of the rest stop, and saw a car turned over on its top to the right of the road, alone. We also saw three or four other cars off the road almost immediately, and realized how bad the roads where. This is why everyone on the mild-mannered coast wants a four-wheel drive.

We made our way over the mountain carefully, stopping to fill the tank in North Plains at the Minimart. It was after three-thirty and the place was hopping. Three women were in the bathroom. “Are you evacuated?” a woman about my age asked. We had a lovely laughing chat, introduced ourselves, and I when I see her again in our small town, we will be connected, friends. Isn’t trauma funny? It bonds us, allows us to break all our boundaries and serve each other in a way we should every single day, without trauma. Why does it take a shake from the hand of Heaven to bring us together?

We finally arrived at my cousin’s home. Close to Thelma, I slept peacefully in her driveway, not wanting to wake her household to a new and different world. A few hours later I woke to a cell call. It was Thelma, wanting to know where I was. “In your driveway!” I laughingly replied.

Thelma tucked me in an overstuffed chair, with a homemade quilt, and while Scotts and my bones warmed she made us ham and eggs. Then we turned on the news and watched. We ate eggs and watched people race for safety. away from a tsunami on country roads, only to find it coming right at them. To see them leap from cars and run a losing race across fields. We joined the helicopters view of death and loss while drinking fresh orange juice and helping her daughter get ready for school. Our world went on.

As we watched the news, our friend and bishop called. He had brought thirty people with him to Portland, always taking care of others. They were on their way to Pat Tanners Temple wedding. Scotty borrowed a white shirt and tie from Thelma’s husband, and while we went to my doctor’s appointment, he went to a temple wedding with our dear friends.  Life went on. Or did it?

Life went on, but not the same.  Thelma’s son called. He is a rescue diver and was packing to go to Japan to do humanitarian work. They were leaving tonight. He is an amazing young man, and we reassured ourselves that he would be fine, but we also knew he would be changed, changed forever.

Later that day, we sat in PF Changs giggling like school girls until our gluten-free meal was over. As we finally wound down, I looked around the restaurant and thought, isn’t amazing that the world goes on? The waitress brought fortune cookies, but because I eat gluten-free, I passed. “No,” Thelma said, “It’s tradition.”  I opened it. It read, “You will soon be going on a fun road trip with friends or family.” I laughed out loud.

“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?” I asked Thelma. She laughed, because we always do. Then in a serious moment I asked her, “Would you do it all again?”

“You mean have seven children, struggle, and watch them struggle?” she said. “Yes. Absolutely.”

“Me too,” I said laughing, because I always do. And I thought, each moment with those we love is precious, and this was a good one.

Later that night we celebrated our friends’ new life together and we got to lay in our own bed and snuggle by our fire. Somehow it was sweeter, warmer, softer and all the serious problems I had been struggling with were smaller and put in perspective.

The next day our little Seaside Ward had a preparedness fair. I know… ironic isn’t it? But it was planned long ago.

My friend Amber was there. I asked her what she thought about yesterday’s events. Being a wise woman, she shrugged and said, “Well, all you can do is prepare. If you’re prepared you don’t need to be afraid.” I smiled and laughed, because I always do. Looked around the room full of friends and enjoyed one more great moment in this wonderful life.

Family - precious moments

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