Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spotlight: The Magnificent World of Spirits by Marlene Bateman Sullivan

Life. Death. Life.

Not everyone who visits the spirit world stays there. The Magnificent World of Spirits: Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die, gives fascinating glimpses of life beyond the veil by people who visited the spirit world during the early years of the LDS Church.

Filled with stories of insight and inspiration, The Magnificent World of Spirits is a stirring book that combines documented personal experiences with scripture, commentary, and quotes from latter-day prophets and other leaders. This book will bring you peace as you come to understand what awaits on the other side of the veil. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way.

Author Marlene Bateman Sullivan paid a visit to my blog today to talk about her new release and share with me how she got the idea to write this book. 

"Years ago, as I was doing research for another book, LDS Heroes and Heroines, I came across some touching stories in early Church history about people who had visited the spirit world. I found so many personal accounts in journals and other personal records, and in old newspapers and magazines, that I divided the material into two books. 

"The first book was Gaze Into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, which contains over 50 accounts of people who had near-death experiences. Writing that book encouraged me to write The Magnificent World of Spirits: Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die, which is about people who also visited the spirit world, through dreams, visions, and other means. Their experiences are almost identical to those who had near-death experiences.

"Each one of these experiences is a comforting testimony that God lives, that He loves us and that when we die, life will continue on in a beautiful place where we will be reunited with our departed loved ones, be freed from earthly trials and disabilities, and experience great joy and happiness."

This book sounds fantastic, Marlene! It can be purchased online at and also at Deseret Book and other LDS store locations.  

Reading these experiences can bless us with a better understanding of this life and increase our knowledge of the life to come. We can benefit from the insights people gained when they entered the spirit world and use that to reevaluate our lives and use our time on earth more productively.


Monday, February 22, 2016

New Book Release - The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He'd fill the hours playing with Jimmy—his canine best buddy—going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they'd do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck. And it was before Vicki. This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn't truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.

An enormously touching, richly textured, deeply moving novel of new adulthood, The Changing Season is an experience to savor—with special appeal to dog lovers. 

Steven Manchester is the author of four #1 bestsellers: Twelve Months, The Rockin' Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island. His long-anticipated novel, The Changing Season, is now available. Steve is also the author of the award-winning novel Goodnight, Brian. He has written A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), Wilbur Avenue (novelette), Just in Time (novelette) and The Thursday Night Club (novella), while his work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and he is the produced playwright of Three Shoeboxes. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit him at his website or on Facebook.
From the book:  

          The beach was nearly deserted. After erecting their tent and establishing a cozy campsite, Jimmy trotted to the water. As Billy looked on, the silver-faced mutt walked in slowly—like an old man easing himself into a warm bath—the reckless abandon he’d once been known for completely gone.
Jimmy swam for a bit before sitting in the shallows with the water line at his chest.
Billy waded in and took a seat beside him where they sat for a long while, looking out onto the horizon. While the tide gently lapped at their chests, Billy wrapped his arm around Jimmy’s shoulder. “This is the life,” he whispered.
A seagull landed on the sand a few feet from them. Jimmy just sat there, watching the squawking bird with mild interest. “You must be tired, Jimmy. Back in the day, you would have chased that vulture until you collapsed.”
Jimmy stood and took chase, but it was a haphazard effort.
“Half-stepper,” Billy teased the dog and stood to go for a walk and dry off.
As they strolled along the coastline, Jimmy shook the salt water from his coat. He also took breaks, long breaks, acting like he was exploring.
“I know you’re stalling,” Billy told him, “and it’s okay.” At least your spirit’s still willing, Billy thought, getting choked up.
When Jimmy slowed even more, Billy headed for the campsite. The sea grasses had lost their summer hue and were now brittle, snapping in half as Billy and Jimmy walked through the abandoned dunes.
They reached camp and sat together again where Billy discovered that the pads on Jimmy’s paws were dry and cracked. One was even bleeding, which Jimmy licked for some time. Billy pulled the big moose into his lap. “Too many miles on those old tires, huh?” he whispered, before noticing the patch of missing fur on the mutt’s hind quarter—a souvenir from a vicious fight he’d won in his glory days. A mean stray had swaggered into the backyard looking for trouble. Unwilling to let it go, Jimmy gave the growling stranger all the trouble he could handle. That one battle scar had been rubbed and patted thousands of times throughout the years, the family being forever grateful for Jimmy’s sacrificial love and fearless devotion. As they sat side-by-side, Billy rubbed it again.
Resting his head in Billy’s lap, Jimmy’s eyes squinted while he enjoyed the heavy scratching.
Billy worked his hand up the old dog’s body, stroking Jimmy’s head and kneading the scruff of his neck. “I love you, buddy,” he said. “You know that, right?”
Jimmy licked Billy’s hand.
“And I need to go away pretty soon…to college.”
Jimmy licked him again.
“The last thing in the world I want is to leave you, but I…” Billy stopped from going any further. A wave of tears was waiting to break on the shore just behind his eyes.
As though Jimmy understood, he nestled deeper into Billy’s lap and began giving Billy’s hand a thorough bath.
With his free hand, Billy rubbed Jimmy’s chest up and down—fast and hard—exactly the way the old mutt liked it. As he did, he looked up and noticed a bank of even darker clouds had gathered above. “Looks like rain,” he told Jimmy. “Hopefully, there’s no thunder.”
They napped in the tent, Jimmy appearing much less worried about his nails on the air mattress than Billy. They curled up together, the rain pitter-pattering on the light canvas above. “It’s just a shower,” Billy told him. As good a guess as any meteorologist would make, Billy thought, though it doesn’t matter either way. As they began to nod off in each other’s arms, Jimmy snored peacefully. Billy stared at his best friend’s face, studying every nook and cranny—memorizing every crease and line. But it was silly. He knew Jimmy’s face better than his own. And I’m going to miss it something awful, he thought, swallowing back the lump in his throat. While the rain picked up and began thumping on the tent’s roof, Billy closed his eyes.

You can purchase The Changing Season by clicking here.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Amazon Prime Music Free Trial

So, I didn't know that Amazon Prime had a music section . . . well, it does. :) And they're doing a thirty-day free trial. If you want to check it out, here are the details. Join Amazon Prime Music - The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping - 30-day Free Trial

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book Review: Latter-day Warriors by Brock Lance Richardson

Every mother gazes down into her new baby's eyes and wonders what their lives will be like, who they will grow up to be, and makes plans for brilliant futures. When I held each of my children for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility that came along with being given the care of these precious souls, and I was overwhelmed by something else, too - a sense of the strength they each carried within them. These were warriors sent into my home to continue the fight they began in the premortal realm - a fight against the lies of Satan.

I've spoken with several other mothers who have expressed feeling the same way, and it's no surprise. We know that as we draw closer to the end times of the world, God will be sending His most choice spirits, His warrior spirits, to lead this last charge and carry us on to victory at the time of the Second Coming. We are now raising those warriors in our homes to stand up and fight against the evil ploys of the adversary.

When Brock Richardson first contacted me to review his new release, Latter-day Warriors: Stepping into Your Spiritual Strength, I said yes primarily because I'm trying to read a little more inspirational nonfiction. What I didn't realize was that this book was going to be a tool for me to teach my children what I already know about them - that they have incredible missions here on this earth, and to help prepare them for those missions. We've had long discussions about it before, but as I read, I said to my husband, "I need to read this out loud to the kids." There are stories in here I believe will really inspire them.

Brock starts out by relating the story of his father, who was so ill during most of Brock's childhood that he'd go straight from school to the hospital so they could spend time together. His father would sometimes sneak away from the hospital to attend Brock's sporting events during high school, always in great pain, but willing to make that sacrifice. This man stood as a big example to Brock of everything he wanted to be, and when his father passed while Brock was serving his mission, Brock was devastated, but took great heart from something his mission president said - that now Brock's father could teach the ancestors of the people Brock was teaching in Uruguay. As Brock stayed close to the Spirit, he felt his father there, teaching with him.

The remainder of the book is broken up into ten chapters, each chapter being an interview with a member of the BYU football team. This may seem like an abrupt change of subject, but it's not - Brock uses football as an analogy for the battles we're all facing, and he learned during his own time on the BYU football team that the strength of the players came from their belief in God. Each interview not only discusses physical strength, but spiritual strength, and there are statements not only from the players, but their wives, making this book perfect for anyone to read. Us girls are warriors in this battle too, more powerfully than we even realize!

What I appreciated most about this book is the fact that it brings the truth to the forefront and makes it very real and very pertinent for our time, right now - the battle is real, we must be prepared, this isn't something that we need to worry about ten or fifteen years from now. We must be working diligently every day to ensure that our testimonies are in place and that we are seeking the Spirit in all we do so that when it's our turn to go onto the battlefield - when we have a missionary opportunity or someone is challenging our faith - we know what to say and we are able to be guided by the Holy Ghost in what other things we should say. A key point made in the book is that the power of our words and the force of our testimonies are the true weapons we will use. We may feel as though we aren't mighty in speaking, but if we're living our lives in accordance with the commandments, the Spirit will guide us in what to say when we need to say it.

I'm eager to start reading this book with my kids and to use it as a discussion point in our family home evenings. I feel very blessed to be raising four warriors, and my husband and I need to up our game and make sure that we're the best warrior trainers we can be.
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