Friday, March 1, 2013

The Knight of Dreams

This past weekend I was at a writer's conference. I entered the BOB (Beginning of Book) Contest. I was excited when my non-fiction entry won 2nd place in that category! But I was in complete shock when my Young Adult fantasy book won the grand prize having received the most points out of all the entries! (Check out MMW to hear more!) So many people have asked to read my entries so I have put them below. Though "The Knight of Dreams" has already gone through revisions since the draft below!

If I am a Temple, Why do I Feel Like a Condemned Building?

In this day and age we hear a lot about finding oneself. Many women go on trips, or start new careers, or end careers, or even leave their families in search of themselves. Some women, after spending thousands of dollars and finally finding themselves, still want a refund!  Why are we so hard to find?
Women in the church are not immune to these feelings that lead us to wonder who we really are. You may be saying: But I know who I am. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father. Well of course we are, but what does it mean? I used to think if I just repeated it in my head over and over I might actually start to believe and understand it, but it didn’t work for me.
Here's the thing: God is our loving Heavenly Father. He is the architect of our lives and the Father of our spirits. But, and this is a big but, we are the contractors of our lives.
A few years ago, my step father and his brother and sister decided to build a new house on their parent's property. They had an architect draw up some beautiful plans. Then they had a contractor who said he could do it. He took a big chunk of money and then left. This was devastating to our family and to the project. We thought this person was going to help build a dream house but instead the whole project became a nightmare. The designs were wonderful, but without people committed to build it, it would remain a fantasy.
Likewise, we often walk away from the whole project of building ourselves into temples. We often want the payoff without the work. This is when we need to fire our old contractor (yes, ourselves) and hire a new contractor (again, ourselves, but with a new attitude).
As women and young women in the church we are told the gospel brings happiness. However, if we don’t feel happy we blame ourselves. We sit in General Conference and our church meetings armed with a pen and a “to do” list that includes things like pray, read scriptures, attend all our meetings, fulfill our callings, visit the sick or lonely, start our family history, be a good example, learn self-reliance, start our food storage, and the list goes on and on.
Is it any wonder some women find the gospel exhausting? We do everything on the list expecting to be happy. It’s easy to blame our empty feelings on the church, turn our backs on the gospel.
So what is the real problem and does it have an answer? Satan doesn't want us to be happy and he will lead us from one extreme to the other in no time at all.  We have a loving Heavenly Father who gave us both a body and a spirit and He wants us to find the balance between them. This balance will bring the happiness and peace we seek.

The Knight of Dreams
It didn't matter that it was almost midnight--the heat of the Arizona sun, trapped in the asphalt, still radiated under Joe's feet as he trudged through the trailer park.  He wanted to be angry with his mom for forgetting his game...again. But he’d learned not to show it after awhile. This wasn’t the first time he’d walked home, and it wouldn’t be the last.
He let himself into the trailer and turned on the single lamp. On the couch, illuminated by the sickly yellow light, lay his sleeping mother. Her rumpled hospital uniform smelled of disinfectant and floor cleaner. Callused hands clutched car keys. He hated that she worked two jobs to keep them afloat. Seeing her worn out always reminded him of his fatherless status. The jerk didn't even pay child support.
Joe sighed and slowly pulled off her shoes. She stirred, "You and me," she mumbled. Joe smiled. That had always been their motto. As a child, whenever he asked about his father, she would rumple his hair and say, "It's just you and me kiddo, but together we can slay any dragon, defeat any enemy."
He'd believed her.
He shook his head at his naivety. Looking around the tiny trailer and its meager furnishings he just snorted. Dragons? They couldn’t even pay their bills. She wouldn’t let him get a job. Said he should be a normal teenager. Fat chance! A normal teenager had a father. He pushed down his resentment.
"You and me and Joe of course," his mom's slurred words caused him to freeze. "He looks like you."
She was dreaming of his father. How could she still love the man who abandoned them at his birth?
"Should tell him...truth," her words were getting harder to understand, "He'll never…your world." Joe bent over her, waiting to hear more. She never spoke of his father and he wanted – no needed – to know more.
She stopped talking and Joe became desperate. "What world?" he whispered in her ear.
"Tell me the truth." His voice rose.
She stretched and her eyes blinked open. "Joe? You're home?" Her eyes went wide, and she sat up.  “Is the game over?  Did I miss it?” 
Joe nodded, not sure what else to say.  He suddenly didn’t care about the game anymore.
“I sat down to change and...”  She looked up, her eyes big and watery.  “I messed up again.” 
Joe didn't reply. She took his silence for anger. "Please forgive me, Joe."
He looked up and blurted, "Do I look like him?"
She looked confused. "Like who?"
"My father."
Her face went white. "What do you mean?" She was trying to avoid the question, like always. But he couldn't let it go this time.
"Just answer the question!" He hadn't meant to yell.
She sighed, then answered, "It was so long ago, Joe. I really can't remember."
She wouldn’t meet his eyes, and he finally knew the truth. She’d lied.


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