Community, From the News, Uncategorized

Refugee Relief — No More Stranger

Just reading and watching stories about the millions of refugees makes my heart hurt.

So when I heard our Church leaders focus on it in our General Conference recently, my heart rejoiced.

A friend texted me during Elder Patrick Kearon’s talk and said, “I just LOVE this new emphasis on refugees in the church! So much need. So Christian. Makes me proud of my church!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Sixty million refugees is unfathomable. 



It’s one thing to watch the news and read the stories about groups of people fleeing a country because of war or persecution. It’s another to know and try to understand their individual stories.

My Mormon history is full of stories of my ancestors being driven out of their homes by people who opposed their religious views. 

For me, personally, I can hear references to the persecution experienced by the Mormons in the 1800s and feel quite removed from it, but it becomes a lot more real when I consider the impact that persecution had on my family.

In 1844, Mormons built the city of Nauvoo, Illinois into a prosperous and beautiful city. But, people worried about the political and economic power being amassed by this growing group of people.

This led to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, and his brother, Hyrum being wrongly accused of treason and sent to jail.

Both were murdered by angry mobs that stormed the jail.

Hyrum was my great, great, great grandfather.

Hyrum and Joseph Smith

He was shot in the face and killed by a bullet that was fired through the door of the jail.

I cannot forget the stories of how his wife, Mary Fielding, took the news or how his three-year-old daughter, Martha Ann, my great, great grandmother remembered being wrapped in a blanket and carried to see her dead father and uncle.

Because of the continued violence, Mary and her children were forced to leave Nauvoo.

Martha Ann said, “We left our home just as it was, our furniture, and the fruit trees hanging full of rosy cheeked peaches and apples. We bid good-bye to the loved home that reminded us of our beloved father everywhere we turned.”

This is not unlike what is happening across the world.

Depiction of Mary Fielding crossing the Plains

Mary Fielding and her children crossed the Mississippi River and huddled around a campfire on the bank of the river as they listened to the bombardment of the city of Nauvoo.

Maybe it’s that heritage that makes me so sympathetic to the plight of today’s refugees.


One of our leaders, Linda K. Burton, recited the history of the LDS women’s organization, called The Relief Society, saying it was organized “to do something extraordinary.” She conveyed the message that we are expected, as members of the Church, to do the extraordinary by answering the pressing calls to help.

Refugee Camp

In response to that reminder, church members immediately searched for ways to help.

This week, in my role as a public affairs representative for the Church, I met with local leaders of Catholic Charities, an organization that is doing amazing work to help the refugees.

They told us they were a bit overwhelmed with the calls from Mormons, asking what they could do to help. “A good problem to have,” they agreed.

I think we were all moved by Linda Burton’s question, “What if their story were my story?”

In many ways, the stories of today’s refugees are our stories. Many of us have stories in our families and our cultures of people fleeing their homes to escape war and religious persecution.

And, we all have a responsibility to help.

I loved Elder Patrick Kearon’s comment, “This moment does not define the refugees, but our response will help define us.”

I hope this moment will help define me in a positive and powerful way as a disciple of Jesus Christ who responds to the call to serve.

How will it define you?

In the Washington, D.C. area, you can find out how to help here and here.

To listen to Elder Kearon’s talk click here.




Friendship 101

Meet my friend, Trina.

Don’t go stealing her away though.

Just meet her and appreciate her like I do.

I am perhaps the most blessed woman in the world in many ways.

One of them is that I have terrific friends.

Trina is one of them.

How do I love her?

Let me count the ways:

1. She is my flower fairy.


It started when I was labeled with the dreaded “C” word. She came over and planted pansies in my flowerbed so that I could see them every day and be reminded that I could be like the pretty pansies — strong and resilient. They helped me make it through the worst winter of my life.

I love flowers but I’m not much of a gardener. So I rely on Trina to help me. It is a treat to go flower shopping with her because she comes alive in a garden shop or nursery. I mean, really comes alive. Her pulse quickens, She squeals with delight. The array of colors and varieties of flowers and plants are the candy store to the kid in her. You know, the Christmas morning to her inner child.

I’m overwhelmed with all the choices and all the labels about sun, part-sun, shade, annual, perennial, border plant, etc. While shopping for flowers for a big pot on my porch, she says, “Think thrill, spill and fill. That’s all you need to know.”

Okay, so something that is beautiful and thrilling, something that spills over the edge and something that fills up the pot.

Got it.

I mistakenly went without her to get some mums and pansies for fall though.

Mums thrill. Pansies fill. What spills? No time to search for spilling plants so I went with only mums and pansies.

Trina to the rescue.

While visiting her daughter in North Carolina she visited a nursery and discovered — you won’t believe it — spilling pansies.

Yep, in North Carolina they have trailing pansies or “cool wave” pansies.

She was so excited she had to buy some and bring them home. And guess what lucky friend got some of these plentiful pansies?

Not only did she bring some home to me, she planted them. And they are spilling out all over the place in my pot on the porch.

Thrill, spill, fill?


She even added some spring thrill with some daffodil bulbs to delight me when the mums are gone.

2. She knows how to celebrate.


Nobody entertains, decorates, crafts or celebrates like Trina.

See a beautiful wreath made of hydrangeas on Pinterest? Call Trina. She’ll get excited to make it, track down the supplies and make it with you.

Hosting a baby shower? Call Trina. She’ll rush over and help you make an enormous diaper cake.

Have a chronic illness? Call Trina and she’ll find a way to make it funny. We once had a party to celebrate diabetes so that we could learn how to entertain using diabetic-friendly food.

Daughter gets elected senior class president? Trina will show up at your house to wait for the results with you. Then, she’ll rush to the store to buy balloons and party supplies with you for an impromptu party in the school parking lot to celebrate.

Hosting a big party? Trina will come early and get to work helping set up.

Trina is so fun and ready to party that when my kids and their friends (including her daughter) once wanted waffles at midnight, they called her to ask her to bring them some. And, she did! (This might put her in the crazy category but that fits too.)

My daughter Sara once said to me, “Mom, why have you been hiding Trina from me?” It wasn’t that I’d hidden her, but Sara had to lose her teenage blinders to discover the gem that is Trina. Now, she says, “It’s not a party without Trina.”

3. Nobody loves to help people more than Trina.

A day is not complete without Trina helping someone. Last week she went to the bakery and found a round loaf of orange bread with a jack-o-lantern face on it. She bought it and said, “I have to give this to just the right person — somebody who really needs something special today.”

This is not an anomaly. This is how she lives.

The motor that makes her run is fueled with the question, “Who needs me today?” She genuinely wants to cheer people up and make them happy.

She takes care of her elderly neighbors, always searching for how she can help them. She takes care of so many people.

And there is not a better mother, grandmother, sister, wife, aunt, cousin, friend in the world than Trina.

When her kids are discouraged, she tells them to forget about their troubles by serving others. And, it works!

Trina is happy when I’m happy; sad when I’m sad; and mad when I’m mad. And she can change the sad and mad with a little silly.

Aren’t you glad to know my friend, Trina?

I’ll share her, but don’t steal her away.

She’s the real deal of a friend that everyone needs.





Personal, Uncategorized

A few things you’ve gotta try

Bloggers love lists.

So, I decided to join the list craze.

Here are five things you gotta try:


Pinterest!  :-)

Sara introduced me to this website this summer and my life has never been the same.

Okay, that’s an overstatement.

But, saying it’s my go-to place for great ideas is 100 percent right.


It’s a lot more fun than Facebook because you can search for what interests you.

Fair warning:  it is addictive.

I told my niece about it and she called me one night

and said her family stayed up until 2 a.m. looking at Pinterest boards.

“I’m never buying a magazine again!” she said.  “Pinterest is so much better.”

Need to discover some great entertaining ideas? Pinterest.


Want to find a great new outfit? Pinterest.

How about a holiday craft or ideas for decorating your home?  Pinterest.

 Imagine thumbing through a colorful magazine full of beautiful pictures to inspire you.

Instead of tearing out the pages

and pinning them on your bulletin board at home,

you pin them on virtual boards and give each board a theme.

Give it a try.

Just go there with a purpose and then get out

or you’ll be stuck forever in the pinterest land of cuteness.

Number 2 –A Visit to the Newseum

Sara and I went before she returned to college.

It’s probably because I’m a journalist at heart but it’s my favorite museum.

It’s expensive, but worth it.

If you want to see the impact of news in our lives, this is the place to visit.

Critics complain that it glorifies the press too much, but I love the stories behind the stories.

The 9-11 Exhibit is powerful, and moving.

I loved seeing Tim Russert’s office in all its messiness and character.

USA Today photo

It’s worth a trip.  If you’re clever and thrifty, you can go one day,

then hand off your ticket to your friend for the next day and split the cost.

(Each ticket is a two-day pass but I doubt anybody spends two entire days there.)

Wear your professional clothes for your live shot in front of the Capitol!

3. The Beach in October.

The locals at the Outer Banks say it’s their best kept secret.  October is delightful at the beach.

The hurricanes have settled down.  Tourists have gone home.  Kids are back in school.

And the beach is tranquil, and the weather divine.

I went to the beach alone last fall to get some writing done.

I’d love to do it again.  And the bonus?  The snow cone shack is still open!

4. Modern Family

I don’t know what it is about this sitcom, but it is laugh-out-loud funny to me.

Gloria is my favorite character, and this clip cracks me up.

Check it out on ABC.

5. Feed the Hungry

It surprised me to find out how many people in our community need food.

My friend, Keary, helped organize a “snack pack” program at Clearview Elementary School

to send food home with children for the weekend.

They noticed that on Fridays, some of the children didn’t eat their lunches.

They saved their food and put it in their backpacks for the weekend.

Apparently this is a problem in many of the schools in the area.

According to the principal, thirty percent of the students at Clearview live in poverty.

The school counselor noticed that students were showing up to school on Mondays

having had only two meals over the weekend.

Their primary meals come from breakfast and lunch at the school.

Keary organized members of our church to donate food and assemble “snack packs”

to slip discreetly into their backpacks for the weekend.


We also recently volunteered for the LINK food pantry run by a community of local churches.

I loved carrying bags of groceries into a family with five hungry children waiting on the porch,

all eager to see what food they’d been given to fill their empty cupboards.

Who knew we were surrounded by such need?

One afternoon when I came out of the public library,

there was a long line in front of the building and a police officer directing people.

I asked one of the women why they were waiting in line.

“Free food!” she said.

Here we are in one of the most affluent areas of the country,

and we have people starving.

We are probably one of the least hit areas of the country in terms of the recession.

Yet we have families in our communities without food.

If you can help, do it.

Don’t wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Find a food pantry, a school, a family in need, and share your abundance.

Service Sign

These are just a few things I love.  Stay tuned.  I’m sure I’ll share more.