Archive for February, 2010

22
Feb

Alex and Briggie Fan Fiction Contest!

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff    in contest

Dear fans,

You have until April 15 to produce a work of fan fiction! The topic? The weddings of Alex and Briggie. The length? Anything over 8 pp. You can also make your fiction more interesting by casting all the characters (how many can you get in there?) as movie people. Am particularly interested to see whom you cast as Charles! Be sure to include a guest list! (You may increase your chances of winning if you have read all the books and know who should be invited!) You are free to make the weddings separate or together, design wedding invitations, clothing, etc. Remember that Briggie is already sealed to her Ned, so she can’t be sealed to Richard.

If you want to throw a mystery in there, feel free. But Alex and Briggie have to solve it.

Submit to my e-mail ggvan1@gmail.com as an attachment with your name, e-mail address, and page number on each page.

The prize: The top three entries will receive a $20.00 gift card from Deseret Book.

So try your wings at some fiction with these well-beloved characters! I look forward to your entries!

Both Heather Moore and Michele Ashman Bell have posted great reviews of David’s recently published book, I Need Thee Every Hour: Applying the Atonement in our Daily Lives, on LDSReaders.com and micheleabell.blogspot.com  In case you think that this is “just another book on the atonement,” you might be interested in Jeffrey Needle’s review that appeared today on the Association of Mormon Letters list today.  I have copied it here, for those who don’t belong to the list:

Reviewed by Jeffrey Needle
A case can be made that we have enough books about the atonement. We
can easily figure it all out with what we have. We need no more. But
is this really true? When you have a subject as all-encompassing as the
atonement of Jesus Christ, when do we really exhaust ways of
understanding this central event in human history? As the author quotes
on page 25:
"The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center
of revealed religion." (Bruce R. McConkie)
Using many personal experiences as models for his understanding of
Christ and of the Church, the author projects from these experiences and
extrapolates teachings which, if learned and lived, will surely bring a
person closer to Christ. Sometimes this means giving up old, outmoded
models. There are as many wrong notions about salvation and acceptance
with God as there are right models. Vandagriff provides a much needed
corrective to the schemes of Gospel understanding that so typified a
generation of young Christians — schemes that were heavy on guilt and
perfectionism, and light on the dynamic power of the atonement to lead
and guide Christians in living their daily lives.
But let’s not confuse the author’s thesis with easy-believism. He
retains a certainty that obedience and growth are necessary in your
journey back to God. He doesn’t want lazy Christians who see the
Atonement as Jesus having done all the work for them. Instead, we all
must "work out our own salvation in fear and trembling." But along the
way, we can be assured that Christ’s atoning life and death are with us
as fellow-travelers.
Some readers will recognize the name Vandagriff. G.G. Vandagriff writes
LDS fiction that has been read by many here. G.G. is the author’s wife.
She plays a prominent role in this book. References to the popular
writer will delight fans of G.G.’s writing.
The author sums up his thesis with this healing thought:
"Whether we are wounded by terrible trials or scarred by vile sins,
Christ takes our wounds and makes them His. He lifts them off us if we
will allow Him to do so and enables us to heal and find peace. If we
can learn and never forget this fundamental and most important truth, if
we can get it into the deepest parts of our soul, we can enjoy the
excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We will truly know Him and
the power of His redemption through the intimate fellowship that we gain
through His and our shared sufferings." (p. 111)
Perhaps some have moved past the point where they can feel within
themselves the healing nature of the presence of God in our lives. But
many who fill the pews each Sunday go away feeling a bit more religious,
but not even a bit more spiritual. It takes a willing heart, and an
open mind, to allow the love of God to embrace us and encompass our lives.
And this, according to Vandagriff, is where a knowledge, and an
internalization, of the atonement becomes a vital necessity.
Vandagriff has penned a deeply personal, and often moving, account of
how he has discovered in his own life the power of the atonement to
bring meaning to life. This is not a profound doctrinal book, neither
was it designed to be so. This is a pastoral work that many readers
will find comforting and informative

5
Feb

The Crossroads

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff    in Spiritual Musings

When I think of crossroads, I see a rural landscape with two country roads dividing the picture into four equal squares.  In the middle is a puzzled man, looking down all the emptiness, wondering which way to turn to reach his goal.

However, in my experience, when we come to a crossroads in mortality—a decision that will change our whole direction and way of life, we usually don’t see it marked.  We might be in the midst of stress, illness, despair, infatuation, or blinded by happiness.  There are people all around us, usually making demands or requiring our attention.  In short, we are not alone in a field with a clear-cut view of our direction. 

The way we choose to go is determined by the character we have spent our lives developing.  Because of this, no choices we make at our crossroads are accidental.  We won’t miss the right turning if we have prepared ourselves by putting the Lord first in our lives, by consistently praying to know His will, and by learning to recognize the Spirit.  The fact is, if we’re on the right road to begin with, holding on to the Iron Rod, we will usually make the right choice without realizing it.

I have been thinking about crossroads a lot in the past couple of days because I have been given a new perspective on a crossroad that my husband and I faced nearly six years ago.  The turn we took changed our lives out of all recognition and led us down the path we never dreamed we would find.

I was slogging along, doing the best that I could with my 22 year old illness–depression.  David was doing his best to support me and growing very weary, but remaining faithful.  Out of the blue, David and I were asked to speak with the Stake Presidency of the 9th BYU Stake.  President Griffith eased our natural anxiety by telling us this was just a “get acquainted visit,” but they were searching for a new Bishop for the BYU 28th ward.  I shrank into myself.  David had been a Bishop before.  He had given himself to the task 24/7, and that time coincided with the beginning of my illness.  It was one of the hardest periods in my life.

David informed the Stake President of this fact, and we thought that would be the end of the matter.  However, a few weeks later, we were called back in.  David was issued a formal call to be Bishop.  I reminded the leader frantically of my depression.  He said, “That’s one of the reasons the Lord wants David in this calling.”  (We have just recently learned that the Stake President, in following the Spirit, was going against our home bishop’s advice.  Our bishop was sure that I was too ill for David to leave me for long periods of time.) 

It was only because of our temple covenants that we accepted the call.  However, because of that weary decision, our lives were changed forever.  President Griffith told us that the Stake Agenda was to preach the Atonement in every talk and every lesson in our new ward.

Many of the rewards of this new calling came immediately.  Working with the BYU students was so uplifting that even I could feel the Spirit. (During depression, it is very uncommon for the person who is ill to be able to feel the Spirit.)  Studying the atonement in all its amazing complexity and applications was a completely new experience, and offered hope to us that perhaps our lives could be changed through the enabling power of our Savior’s sacrifice for us.

The third year David was in this calling, I finally knew enough about the divine subject to trust the Lord completely.  I laid my burden at his feet with some trepidation.  However, after this act of supreme faith on my part, I was given the medications to cure my illness not even a week later.  I have told that story many times in this space.

My life changed directions from down to up.  So did David’s.  He learned the skills of applying the atonement in his daily life to the extent that he was also given the inspiration and guidance to take an entirely different direction professionally.  This has proven to be a tremendous miracle in our lives.

We would still be on that sad and lonely trail if President Griffith hadn’t persisted and followed the Spirit in forcing us to choose at that crossroads.  Past experience dictated that we were in for a rough time.  However, our choice was rewarded by blessings unnumbered.  We are on a different road, a road that could only have been accessed by faith during a dark time in our lives.

I am so grateful for the choice that we made, simply because we had learned to sacrifice.  It was an “invisible crossroad” and we never had any idea that it would change us forever