Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Book Review: Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Children to Go and Do

Welcome to Day Two of the Blog Tour for Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do by Sharla Goettl. Today also happens to be the release day for the paperback and eBook, so happy Release Day!

I feel like we should have cupcakes. 

Instead, you can celebrate by earning free stuff like eBooks and online courses! You can enter the contest through the Rafflecopter in my sidebar, and go to www.SharlaGoettl.com for a free gift. I love free stuff. 

When my youngest daughter was just two years old, I lost her at Fry's. One second she and her siblings were right there next to me, looking at tables of books, and then I looked up and she was gone. 

Panic flooded my heart. 

We searched all around, up and down the aisles, backtracking the way we had come. Just when I thought my heart would burst with all the fear and worry building inside, a woman walked toward me, holding my daughter's tiny hand. I gathered my daughter in my arms, spouting my thanks to her rescuer, who pinned me with a haughty, judgmental look and told me she had gone all the way outside. 

As heart-rending as it is for me to think of ever losing my children, this is not my greatest fear. My greatest fear is losing my children spiritually. I fear failing as a mother, failing to teach my children to turn to their Savior for guidance and strength and help. I fear them slipping beyond my reach, choosing to cut me out of their lives, no longer speaking to me. I fear failing my children. 

I have found many resources to guide me in my motherhood, first and foremost being my Savior and His Spirit, the scriptures and the words of living prophets. But I was also fortunate to be able to read Spiritual Resilience: Leading our Youth to Go and Do. Even though I don't yet have teenage children, the counsel in this book can apply to parents with children of any age. 

Sharla's insights on teaching our children by first fortifying our own strength are empowering without being overwhelming. The whole book is designed to help parents set goals and receive their own direction for teaching their children, complete with blank pages to take notes. But she emphasizes that the revelation we need for our children does not have to be huge. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book was her describing her experiences with small, simple guidance from the Spirit. I have experienced this same guidance with my children, sometimes receiving promptings as simple as giving my children a hug. But every followed prompting, no matter how small, empowers us and enables us to follow just a little bit easier the next time. 

Sharla points out, "It is very difficult to feel empowered through the Holy Ghost when we are constantly reminding ourselves we are not good enough. If you need reassurance on whether your efforts are acceptable for today, ask in prayer and write down the response you receive."

The Lord wants to help us in our parenting. We are good enough, mistakes and all. The Lord knows that we are imperfect, and He still entrusted us with His precious children.

Quoting some of my favorite words from President Gordon B. Hinckley, Sharla reminds us, "Please don't nag yourself with thoughts of failure. Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know, and the Lord will accept of your effort."

Spiritual Resilience is a wonderful resource for any parent who desires a little more direction in helping their children become resilient, to be able to weather the storms of life and keep their faith in Jesus Christ. That is certainly what I want for my children. And Spiritual Resilience reminded me that, with heavenly help and abiding love, I don't have to fear losing my children. 

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour! Here's the schedule in case you need it. 

And here's a cupcake. 


The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, April 5, 2021


I have never been a dog person.

Growing up, we always had cats. They basked in the sunshine outside our front door and curled around our ankles when we walked outside. In the spring, there was always at least one litter of brand new kittens to name and snuggle and love.

We had a few dogs growing up, one that died on my birthday and another that followed me to school and then escaped our yard again never to return. My brother's dog was a mean Keeshond who chased all my friends away.

So, you see, I've never had much luck with dogs.

When Mr. Brown Eyes first talked about getting a dog, we got a horse instead. Then talk turned to getting a puppy, which sounded like way too much work when we had our own human babies to take care of. But now and then the topic continued to come up. 

I conceded that I wanted a dog that would 1) live outdoors 2) scare unwanted strangers away and 3) go running with me. Mr. Brown Eyes wanted a dog to kill gophers. The kids just wanted a dog.

Ohana does not live outside, she usually plays with the gophers instead of killing them, and she occasionally rolls in roadkill. Otherwise, she is perfect. 

She puts up with all the kids' shenanigans. And trust me, there are a lot of them. 

Such as, 

Ohana the Reindeer:

And Gangster Ohana:

And let's not forget when the youngest Brown Eyed Girl went through her phase of never being able to go to the bathroom by herself. Lucky Ohana got to sit in the bathroom with her every time. 

Ohana is also a practically tireless running companion and she loves to come camping with us. 

She dreams of catching a deer. Or at least a squirrel. 

Oh, and she thinks all the babies are her puppies. 

The only one who doesn't love Ohana is the cat.

One afternoon Ohana rode in the car with us to pick the kids up from school. On the way home, she was enjoying sitting on top of my son's backpack, sticking her head out the window. My son decided he wanted his backpack, and as he tried to pull it out from under her, I suddenly heard a cry from the back of the car.

"Mom! Ohana jumped out the window!"

In my disbelief I glanced in the rearview mirror and there she was, standing bewildered in the middle of the road. 

I muttered a few choice words as I pulled the car onto a side street and leapt out onto the sidewalk, running full-tilt. As I ran I panicked, worrying that Ohana had been hit by a car or had run off and that we might never see her again. 

I can still remember the relief that flooded through me the moment I spotted her through the bushes, surrounded by some good Samaritans trying to find who she belonged to. And I knew the moment she saw me because her whole body shook with joy. She bolted down the sidewalk and hurled herself into my waiting arms. 

"Oh," the good Samaritans said. "She's obviously your dog."

It was then that I kind of understood the whole dog-person thing. It's kind of amazing to find an animal that can love so much. 

Even after you just accidently abandoned her in the middle of the road. 

Ohana is part of our family. She proved it last summer when, all on her own, she joined our family pictures. 

No wonder the cat doesn't like her. 

I'm still not sure I can say I'm a dog-person, but I'm definitely an our dog-person.

Still can't handle that dog breath, though,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, March 29, 2021

How to Finish What You Start

I have no idea.

The end.

No, seriously, I just found this post in my drafts and it consisted entirely of those six words. I laughed, ruefully. 

I am of the personality that leaving something unfinished--be it a novel, our remodel-in-progress dining room, or a bag of M&Ms--makes me cringe and gives me fits of anxiety. I often ensure that things are finished just for that reason. 

This neglected blog? Sky-rocketing, cringing anxiety. 

My dad used to tell me, to my utter annoyance, "If it's something you want to do, you'll make time for it."

I hate this because it's true. I've discovered that if I make up excuses not to do something, it's because, deep down, I don't want to do it. Maybe it's hard or overwhelming, or I don't know where to start.  

When I had my first cranky, needy, wonderful child, writing just fell by the wayside. There wasn't time for it. But somehow, now, with four cranky, needy, wonderful children, I'm writing more than ever. I find the time, whether it's late at night when everyone's asleep, or a handful of minutes during the day when the kids are entertained by something else. I want to write, so I make time for it. 

Maybe the trick to finishing what you start is loving what you started. Otherwise, what's the point?

I love this blog I started over TEN years ago, and even though I've taken a hiatus, I'm going to finish (or continue, whatever) what I started. 

Sticking with it,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, January 6, 2020

One Sure Thing

Hello little blog. I am so sorry for neglecting you. 

Has it really been two years since I’ve posted? TWO YEARS?

At first I stopped posting so I could have time to write. And then I stopped posting because I was pregnant with baby #4. And then I stopped posting because my computer crashed. And then I just stopped posting.

But the one sure thing about our years apart is that everything changes. 

I lost my mom unexpectedly to cancer about nine months ago. I say unexpectedly because when she was diagnosed we were told she had six to nine months without treatment, two years with. 

But it turned out she only had six weeks. 
I miss my mom with an ache I don’t think will ever go away. On good days I can remember her with smiles and joy, looking forward to the day I see her again. On bad days the reminders are sharp and painful. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this, it’s that a Mother’s love is UNBREAKABLE. She may be gone from this earth but my mother’s love is all around me. She is more than a memory; she is a living presence. She loves her children too much to ever truly leave us. And that truth has filled me with comfort and peace every single day. 

As we start a new year, I know that one sure thing in life is that everything changes. Awesome changes, sad changes, challenging changes. No matter how we resist, change comes.

I have lived in fear of change before. Sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me again. But then I remember that the OTHER sure thing in life is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He who “changest not” can sustain us through any change. 
As we sang at my mom’s funeral, “when change and tears are past, all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

Thursday, December 14, 2017

My Super Power

After 30+ days of writing at least 2,000 words a day, I now have a real-life first draft that I can rip apart and completely change. 

It seems a little unreasonable that I'm so happy about that, but that's the writing life. 

I had a lot of wonderful people help watch my kids so I could have writing time, but a big chunk of my writing was done late at night, after the kids were in bed, fueled by caffeine and the natural high that writing gives me. 

I thought that, after a month, I would be exhausted, ready to throw my computer into a wall and never look at my draft again. But, you know, the first night after I finished, as I got the kids to bed, I found myself looking forward to those quiet, thrilling hours of writing. And then I remembered, with disappointment, "Oh, I'm done."

Writing every day has become a habit, and when I told Mr. Brown Eyes that I wanted to keep up with it, he said, "I think you should. I've noticed you've been happier since you started."

It reminded me of the Grisha from Leigh Bardugo's amazing Shadow and Bone trilogy (if you haven't read it, I seriously recommend it. So good). They're born with these unnatural abilities--super powers, if you will--but if they don't use them, they become sickly and weak, a shell of their true selves. 

I've discovered that writing is my super power. When I'm not writing on a regular basis, I don't feel completely me. And when I write, I feel strong. Maybe not lift-a-train-over-my-head strong, but capable, happy, and overjoyed with the chance I have to make writing my life. 

What's your super power?

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

National Novel Writing Month and a Giveaway!

So against my better judgment I decided to join the ranks of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and hopefully get a kick-start on Book Two of my Unicorn Hunter series.

The funny thing is, six months ago Book Two was done. Complete. Just waiting to be published. (Ha ha).

Three months ago, Book Two was halfway done and just needed a new beginning.

Now Book Two is trash and I need to completely rewrite it.

My computer and I are going to be getting very cozy during November.

To celebrate the beauty of writing a novel in a month (and the insane amount of Netflix my kids will be watching to keep them out of my hair), I'm giving away a copy of The Unicorn Hunter! It's part of an awesome giveaway on one of my favorite book sites, New LDS Fiction. Go here for all the details and to enter!

I will see you in a month!

Kissy kissy,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


While ransacking my closet looking for I-don't-remember-what, I unearthed stacks of folders stuffed to their capacity with printed pages, and notebooks filled from beginning to end with my scurried handwriting.

Yes, this is my collection of writing from over the years. Or part of it, at least.

Who knew I was so prolific?

My husband laughed when I showed him and asked what they were all about. I'd definitely say the bulk of them are about horses or unicorns in some form. But there are also a couple Titanic retellings (with happy twists so Leonardo Dicaprio doesn't die at the end), some attempts at historical fiction, and many stories paying homage to my youthful obsession with Greek mythology.

I suppose, judging from this stack, I've never really struggled with having something to write about.

But for any writer who does, take heart. There are stories inside of you, just waiting to be discovered.

One awesome way I've gotten my creative juices flowing is using writing prompts. There are some great ones online, some even offering a prompt a day to get you inspired. I have seriously filled notebooks with writing prompts, and it's amazing how just a sentence or two can be the start of something awesome.

If you don't like prompts, try free-writing. Time yourself and put your pen to paper (or your fingers to the keyboard). Write for the full time, no stopping allowed. You'll be amazed at what comes out of your mind. And well, maybe a little concerned, too, but that's a topic for another day.

I will be posting more writing prompts here in the future, so stay tuned! I've got some fun ones.

And next week I'll give you some suggestions on finishing what you start. For some of us, that's the real hard part.

Happy Writing!
The Brown-Eyed Girl