Tag: inspirational quote

Safe House by Shannon Symonds ~ Chapter 1 & 2

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Hello from the beach!

Welcome to the first free video reading of Safe House, published by Cedar Fort Publishers. I thought it would be fun to read my first book to you while sharing the beauty of the Pacific coast or the settings for Safe House, Finding Hope, and my upcoming novels. I made this video down the street from my home.

I will add a few chapters to my Tuesday and Thursday newsletters.  I promise not to spam you!

After I read the chapters, I will tell you a little about what inspired them. Feel free to end the video before the chat. I know how busy life can be!

Safe House Chapter 1 & 2 by Shannon Symonds

Special thanks to Cedar Fort Publishers–Safe House can be purchased at Cedar Fort & Amazon.
Safe House-Paperback Edition

National Domestic Violence Hotline Phone Number

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Weather the Storm~ Pandemic Blessings shared by Readers

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In 2017, a beloved friend and I created a series of photos you can copy, print or share from this link.  Special thanks to Haley Miller of Captures photography.

This photo, “Sometimes He answers prayers with a storm,” has been on my mind lately.

We are in a storm. Within the storm, our world and lives are changing.

I chose these words because this has been my experience. After publishing a few poems and having five children, my entire life changed in a day. It was the storm of storms. At the time I could not imagine the end from the beginning. All I knew was the list of things I was losing in a day. I lost a marriage, a new home, a father for my children, income, everything in a one day life-altering storm of events.

Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, all I could do was hang on while the world spun around us.

When the storm began, I sat on the side of the road in a VW Van with my babies and turned it all over to my Heaven Father.

When the storm was over, I found myself living by the sea near my childhood home, just as I had always wanted. I had the love of my life and he had adopted my children. We had a sixth child who survived a life threatening illness, All was well (messy and chaotic but happy). We were safe in a place that became a haven for us and for our extended family. My prayers were answered.

God’s plans for me are always better than my own. But Sometimes while he was rearranging my life to make space for more blessings, the unknown was challenging. It took all of my faith for me to wait patiently, like a child waiting for Christmas morning. Patience is a virtue on my “To Do” list.

Two things bring me peace when storms are raging. 

Faith: 
We may not always understand why we have the challenges we do or why some prayers seem to go unanswered, but the scriptures tell us:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
New Testament, Romans 8:28

#HearHim
We can pray and to ask the Lord for comfort and to help us understand what is happening to us or for help with decision. He is waiting to talk to us, even if it is just a feeling, a thought, or warmth in our heart. (Learn how to Hear Him here)

We are not alone in the storm. Hang on. I believe you can find your personal growth and happy ending even if the middle is messy.

Last week I asked how you were doing and what was on your Pandemic Blessing Card. Here are some of the beautiful things you shared with me.

Wessel shared: 
“I firmly believe God has a purpose for all of us and equip us with talents and resources throughout our lives we need to fulfil that purpose. I’m not saying that in vain because I was born with a born defect that means I am bound to a wheelchair for life. It would be easy to blame whatever but why would I survive for nearly 50 years if doctors bluntly told my mom there was no medical way for me to survive past 48 hours. So whenever circumstances threaten to overwhelm me (as it does with all humans) I try and remember that I have an undisclosed purpose.”

Kathy said:

“…I have spent the last 4 months in a rehab facility following a really bad fall.  With this quarantine I have not been able to see my family and I truly miss the hugs from my son…I am reminded of how much I have to be thankful for even midst this horrible time. I had forgotten. But not now. Thank you!

  • My leg will heal.
  • I will walk normally again.
  • I will give my son the biggest and best hug ever.
  • I have made many new friends.
  • I have been able to read as much as I like.
  • I have been shown once more that God always opens a window when he closes a door.
  • I realize that others are so much worse off than I am.
  • And so much more.
  • My faith has been restored.”

Kim said: 
“Some of us were able to travel to see friends who have a lodge away from internet and WiFi and cell service. We ate good food, went hiking and enjoyed nature.”

I would love to hear how you find faith or if it is a struggle. I would also love to hear ways you, #HearHim during our storm.

LINK TO CHRISTIAN FICTION

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World Changer! Lauraine Henderson #WaitByTheGate #ChooseLight

Thursdays, I like to feature authors committed to writing clean or inspirational books like Lauraine Henderson, author of highly rated clean romances like her recent release, Rock My World. I asked Lauraine why she is committed to writing clean novels and she said:"I love romance and happily-ever-afters. I was never comfortable with ...

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World Changer- Michael Grant, Author of Bible Verses Every Successful LDS Missionary Needs to Know!

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#WaitbytheGate #ChooseLight

When I asked Michael Grant why he writes clean or inspirational non-fiction, he answered in a sentence that resonates with me and I am betting a few other authors I know. Michael’s one complete sentence:

“Because for me there is no other way.”

Well said, Michael.

Michael Grant is a fascinating author with an interesting history. He was preparing to become a Catholic priest when he was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Book of Mormon. Initially, the Mormon missionaries got nowhere with him because they did not know the Bible scriptures that substantiated their doctrine. Once the missionaries found a member who knew the Bible, Michael learned that their doctrine was true.

I am always fascinated by conversion stories. Michael’s story is meaningful to me, because I recognize that he had to walk away from everything he knew and planned to do, like many converts. But in Michael’s case he also had to end a commitment to a job and culture that would have filled all of his days for the rest of his life.  And yet, he had the courage to walk away from the safety of the familiar, for something he believed in. Once again, he has committed himself to his belief and the Lord.

On September 17, 1966, Michael was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

He served a two-year Stake mission, taught Gospel Principles and Gospel Doctrine classes, served in the Stake Sunday School Presidency and High Priest Group Leadership, and since 2009 has served as an Ordinance Worker in the San Diego California Temple.

Since his conversion to the LDS Church, he has regularly taught with the full-time missionaries and witnessed the same pattern over and over – investigators wanting support from the Bible and missionaries that only knew the Book of Mormon. It has since been Michael’s goal to help the missionaries learn and teach LDS doctrine from the Bible.

Michael’s professional life has been one of an entrepreneur and business owner. He has started and owned five businesses in the fields of aviation, electronics, and finance.

Michael and his wife live in Murrieta California. They have six children and twelve grandchildren, and a fan in Seaside, Oregon – me.

So! If you are preparing your teen for a mission or you are thinking about going yourself, here is the scoop on what people think about the book and where to find it!

Based on the testimonials received about Bible Verses; every full-time missionary, every ward missionary, every mission prep student, every mission prep instructor, every stake and ward mission leader, …. every member of the LDS Church needs to read and use this book.

“Brother Grant, we have had tremendous success with the Bible Verses Book.  We have been using it for about 5 months, or more now and it has helped to increase our missionaries confidence in their ability to teach and relate to the people of the South.
Most of our missionaries come out with very little knowledge or understanding of the Bible and it has been very hard to get new contacts to listen to them, if they can’t show them where the Bible supports the Doctrine, that we are teaching. PMG has several of these scripture references as well, but the Bible Verses Book has them organized in a way that allows the missionary to access the information on the spot.

As I mentioned earlier, it has helped the missionaries with their confidence, which in turn has helped them to teach better.  It has been a valuable resource and contribution to our huge increase in finding new people.

I hope this helps and thanks for putting it together for our missionaries.”

Norman E Hansen

President, Arkansas Little Rock Mission

Additional testimonials from missionaries, mission presidents, stake presidents, bishops, and other members of the church can be read on Brother Grant’s website.

Michael Grant’s book is found at Deseret Book and on his website.

All books purchased from the author’s website come with a 100% money-back guarantee! If you don’t think you have learned anything from Bible Verses, If you don’t believe Bible Verses has helped you in any way at all, If you don’t think Bible Verses has helped you on your mission, just let the author know and you will get your purchases price back!

www.BooksByMichaelGrant.Com

 

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New Testament Conversations with a Survivor – Healing after Cleansing the Temple

This year my church released, Come Follow Me, a new study guide or resource for learning the gospel. Each week, as I read and study, I have been struck by how much of the New Testament holds little gems of hope and healing for survivors. For example...Are there times in your life when you have felt the Savior clear the way on your behalf? Is there something keeping you from healing? Is there something you would like cleared out of the way? Have you asked for help?

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Wait By the Gate With Me

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“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

-Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Not long ago I found myself crying alone on a bridge. As there are many bridges in Seaside, that isn’t as odd as it sounds. I still haven’t decided if I was crying because I was heartbroken, betrayed by my own people, or just plain furious. You see, writers make a grand joke of rejection. We are experts at querying agents and publishers and being told our stories are, “Not what we are looking for,” or “you don’t have a large enough following,” or even, “your work needs more work.” But this rejection was personal.

I was told by an editor that my work contained characters who were members of my religion, and no one buys books with characters of my religion. They just don’t sell. And so, they’d voted and wouldn’t take any more novels that weren’t secular or contained characters who were members of my church.

In a knee jerk reaction, I offered to obliterate my religion from my story and thankfully they declined. You see, they said, my followers already know what church I belong too, and it was too late to go back in the closet. So, I countered, I read Anne Frank’s Diary, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and would have read 7 years in Tibet, except Brad Pitt starred in the Move, so I watched it 2 or 3 times. People read novels with religions in them.  But, apparently, they don’t sell.

So, channeling Brene Brown, and in the spirit of authenticity and vulnerability, I am perhaps one of the few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be rejected by an unnamed publisher for writing about characters that belong to the aforementioned church.

Most authors would just counter, oh well! That’s rejection number 666. Then they would either take out their religion or keep submitting. But, not the very successful authors and members of my critique group. Sometime in the evening, wearing pajamas and reading our work to each other over Google Hangouts and chatting over Facebook Messenger, I confessed – rejected because some of my characters went to The Church.

Immediately, I got the best advice of my life, “Wait by the gate.”

I replied, “Wait by the gate?”

The reply was a quote from a song.

“They came to a place which was named, Gethsemane

And Jesus saith unto his disciples, sit ye here while I pray…”

Lamb of God, Gethsemane by Rob Gardner, London Symphony Orchestra, Spire Chorus

In those few lines, I experienced greatness. You see, these lines came from a fellow author who also writes about characters in The Church who navigate the challenges of life, are regularly misunderstood for their beliefs, and yet cling to them. She waits by the gate, true to her beliefs, authentic, honest, hilarious, and a true friend. We write about what we know.

I decided to join her and wait by the gate. I will be true to my beliefs, to who I am and I will keep the strange little bishop who interferes with the love interest in my book and the funny lady who has never had a cup of coffee, but… well you’ll just have to read the book.

I don’t know what you believe in, but I hope whatever gate you choose to camp out at,  you are faithful to it. I hope you are brave, honest and honorable about who you are and what you believe. If you write a book, I will read it.

As for me and my friend? We will be waiting by our gate, with laptops, good books, good friends, family, laughter, and tears of joy. Because it isn’t about how many books we sell (Okay, we keep score and compete a little) as much as it is telling a great story. Not the greatest story ever told, yet. But then, you’ll just have to read the book.

 

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I was Never a Mormon

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I was never a Mormon. Mormon was an ancient prophet in the Book of Mormon* who has been dead for many years. To top it off, someone once bought a handwritten manuscript of Mormon’s abridgment for 35 million dollars!** Trust me… I have not come close to making that kind of money as an author and no one wants to buy my messy original word doc for ten cents.

I have always been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Recently our Prophet announced we were no longer to be called or call ourselves, “Mormon,” or “LDS.” This was major news to the world. We were being “rebranded.”

This was not major news to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had been hearing this for years! Here is a little history behind the shortened or slang term or name, “Mormon.”

In the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, according to Deseret News *** and everything I have been taught, “The church has had a complicated relationship with the term Mormon since its restoration in 1830. Church leaders long chafed at antagonists calling them Mormons and, early on, Mormonites, but in recent decades they have been more accepting of the nickname.”

Let me tell you what I think this means. In early history, there was an Extermination Order allowing people to legally kill “Mormons.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were burned out of their homes, run out into the snow and driven across state lines, massacred, and generally misunderstood. “Mormon” was a slang term used in derision that we adopted ourselves and used.

However, I have speculated, as others have, that it created confusion around whether or not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were Christians. We are.

Here are a few facts about me and some of my friends who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We are not perfect. We are human. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I go to church in an effort to become more Christlike and grow.  At church, I have been taught we can all return to live with our Heavenly Father, and I know from many church meetings, that we want everyone to be together as one big happy family again.  We are taught to love everyone, no exceptions, unconditionally. We only ask the same in return. Love us as we are and let us work towards the next life as we choose. If you have questions just ask, and I will find someone who knows more than I do to answer them.

I personally don’t need rebranding. I do need people to stop calling me “Mormon.” He is a dead but respected prophet. I also need people to ask me questions, instead of guessing what I believe or telling me what they think I believe.

In all honesty, not much has changed in history, except we have stepped into the light, stopped hiding, and want you to know we hold firm to our belief in the Savior. I want my friends, co-workers, and neighbors to know I was never a Mormon, but I was always a Christian and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

*https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/explanation?lang=eng

**https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/sep/26/book-of-mormon-sets-new-record-for-most-expensive-manuscript-ever-sold

*** https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900028401/the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints-issues-new-name-guidelines-dropping-term-mormon-in-most-uses.html

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Forward. I Choose Forward

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Life is one continuous trust fall.
Laughing or crying,
Eyes closed falling back,
Or leaping in faith
Into the Savior’s waiting arms.

By Shannon Symonds, 4/2018

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Change, Line Upon Line

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“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? …For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little… ”
Isaiah 28: 9-10

My Grandmother, my father, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, and I all walked on this wall along the sea, and now my children’s children walk the same wall. Each one of us learned to walk the wall holding a grown-up’s hand until we all insisted on letting go. Step by step, starting with our first baby steps we learned and grew.

Seaside summer evenings were often spent walking as a family to the ice-cream shop. Twenty or more of us strung out along the promenade or Prom on the beach laughing, chasing children, holding our lover’s hands, pushing baby strollers, or watching our parents, aunts, and uncles smile and talk.

We learned about more than how to balance on a cement wall by the sea. We learned trusted loved ones had rules because they cared about us. We learned through quiet conversations on the mile-long walk to town for ice-cream. We learned by watching the grown-ups hold hands and treat each other with respect. The journey was so much more than a walk on the wall. We were building little people and a large family.

Life is a lot like our walks by the sea. It looks like you are doing dishes, going on a diet, teaching your children how to plant a garden, but you are actually doing something much deeper and wider, you are building love, trust, identity, connection, and a family.

A month ago, I committed to making some health changes. I was going on a cleanse. It absolutely made me giggle. For the first time in my life, I joined a group, bought some shakes, and began a sugar fast. All the laughter covered my terror. Remember, I am the girl on the prom wall. All our major childhood accomplishments were followed by dessert or sweet reward, and family gatherings always had food.

I set a goal. One month without refined sugar, caffeine (Diet coke which always led to needing Hot Tamales and a bucket of popcorn), as well as a TON of other foods like corn, honey, potatoes, and soy that I wouldn’t eat.

A few days ago, I finished the month! I was changed. Did I look different? Was I thinner and prettier? No. Was I changed? Absolutely. But the change was on the inside. I felt healthier. I had gained the strength that comes from setting out to accomplish something, anything, and finishing it. The sense of self-worth that comes from seeing something through, especially when it is difficult. I had endured with honor.

Just like the walk on the Prom, it looked simple, fun and easy but the results I hope will be much deeper than improved health today. Years down the road, I hope I look back and find I am grateful for the things I chose to change, the lessons I learned along the way, and the blessing of inner strength that comes from striving to be just a tiny bit better each day.

Every step we take is a choice.  Even when we try to take random road trips through life, we are making a choice. But when we choose a direction and take one small step after another toward our goal we just might find we reach not only reach our destination, we have changed along the way.

Special thanks to Hilary and the group at Designing Health. I may stumble and I may fall, but I have a new network of friends headed the same direction. See you all at the Salad Bar!

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All things work for my good? A rainy day perspective on change

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“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

If you have a pulse, it is highly likely that you have experienced challenges, loss, and even trauma at some point between the day you left the womb and now. If you haven’t there is a high likelihood that you are in a coma.

Howard W. Hunter, an international religious leader once explained, “There must be opposition in all things,” but why? Why, when most of us work diligently to do good things do we encounter barriers and how can they possibly be for our own good?

Many years ago I faced a challenge in a lifetime illness. At age 12, I was diagnosed with an inherited autoimmune disease, likely triggered by stress. The doctor explained that a simple daily medication would help me get through life. What he didn’t explain was the disease would cause weight gain, loss of energy, depression, hair loss, problems with my skin and nails. Those may not be big things to you, but to a young woman, they were massive. All I knew was that I struggled with symptoms no one else had. I didn’t understand why.

Later in life, the additional stress of being a survivor and a move back to my beloved coast triggered a downward spiral in my health. I began my wrestling match with a myriad of symptoms, which included gaining 40 pounds in a very few months while eating fewer and fewer calories and exercising more and more.

I began my wrestle. I had an invisible challenge like so many of us do. I recently became friends with a group of wonderful woman. We support each other’s effort to write and publish. As time passed we began to talk more honestly. Then one day, one of us confessed our lives weren’t perfect. We realized none of our lives were perfect, but they were also perfectly beautiful.

Guess what? No one has a perfect life. Some of us have serious struggles but spend our days caring for others, often with a smile on our face. If you think you are the only person who struggles with diet, addiction, or other invisible challenges you are not alone.

Sherry Dew, in her book, “Worth the Wrestle,” put it best when she said:

“Are you willing to engage in the wrestle? In an ongoing spiritual wrestle? If we want to grow spiritually, the Lord expects us to ask questions and seek answers.

We live in a sound-bite world where “tweets,” “likes,” “posts,” and “shares” have become the way we keep informed and share ideas. We are accustomed to expecting instant answers. But the most compelling questions in our lives rarely have quick, easy, Google answers. That is because receiving revelation and gaining knowledge, particularly divine knowledge, takes time.

It takes a wrestle.”

Nothing is ever a straight path. My life so far has been a series of hills with hidden valleys containing some pretty hefty challenges. The difference is, I know now, I am not alone. I am entitled to drop to my knees and get the answers I would never have come to on my own. And in my wrestle with survivorship, health, healing, family, love, finances, jobs, and the weeds in my garden I will be building muscle, spiritual and personal muscles.

I am not done wrestling and I don’t ever expect to be done. What I am done doing, is looking for an easy answer. I hope to continue to build my spiritual and physical muscles daily. The face you see in the video above is a full fifty or more pounds lighter, and healthier than before the struggle began. I wouldn’t trade the journey, the knowledge, my new friends, or my time on my knees for anything, even sugar and diet coke. I hope I can keep it up! But if I fail, I will wrestle some more.

Just remember, my answers will not be your answers. I am an author and feel compelled to write my feelings, what I learn, and ideas. The direction you choose and the mountains you climb are all yours. The good news is, you don’t have to go it alone.

So when all else fails, drop to your knees and wrestle.

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