From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul


The majority of stories in this book were submitted by our readers’ response to our call-out for stories. If you would like to contact any of the contributors for information about their writing or would like to invite them to speak in your community, look for their contact information included in their biographies.

Heather Abbott received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Nebraska in 1997, and worked as a pediatric intensive-care unit nurse for four years. She is currently serving as a Primary teacher in her northern Virginia ward; she and her husband, James, have two young sons.

Robert Allen is the author of some of the most popular financial books of all time. His New York Times bestsellers include Nothing Down, Creating Wealth, Multiple Streams of Income, The One Minute Millionaire and the forthcoming Cracking the Millionaire Code. He and wife Daryl have been married for twenty-eight years and have three children.

A lifelong member of the Church, Lori Amavisca was born and raised in California; she spent twelve years in Prescott, Arizona. She has worked in many fields, including the aerospace industry, and is now a stay-at-home mom in Hilo, Hawaii. She is active in the Honomu Branch, where she teaches the young single adult gospel doctrine class; she and her husband, Mark, have one son, five daughters and three grandchildren.

Charlotte Andersen is an associate professor of computer information systems and writes novels in her spare time (between one and two in the morning). Currently she serves with her husband as activities chair in the Edmonds Ward, Shoreline Washington Stake. They are the parents of two boys under the age of three.

Originally a western New Yorker, Shelley Ball Andrus now lives in east Idaho, where she works from home as an educator for Idaho Virtual Academy. She is active in the Church, and serves her community as a city councilwoman. Shelley and her husband, Jason, are the parents of three children.

Julio Arciniega is a convert from Mexico City; he served a mission in Mexico and graduated from BYU. He has been a translator for the Church for more than thirty years; he also teaches (and loves to) dance. Active in the Edgemont 8th Ward of the Provo Utah Edgemont Stake, he has one daughter and three sons; he recently added four more daughters through marriage.

A lifelong member of the Church, Sue Ayres was born in Utah—but as a military dependent, she has lived all over the world, including Japan. She attended BYU and currently works as a secretary/receptionist. She enjoys creating woodcrafts and spending time at the family cabin. She serves on the Relief Society enrichment committee of the Kaysville 10th Ward, Kaysville Utah Crestwood Stake and is the mother of two sons.

Pat Bagley is a graduate of Brigham Young University, and for twenty-seven years has been the editorial cartoonist at The Salt Lake Tribune. He is famous for his cartoons that skillfully deflate the pompous and poke gentle fun at his own Mormon culture, nine of which appear in this book. His previous books include I Spy a Nephite and Mormons: History, Culture, Beliefs.

A native of Salt Lake City, Tom Baker graduated from Stevens-Henager Business College in Ogden, Utah, with degrees in accounting and business management. He moved to Seattle in 1986. He is married to Kathryn, with whom he shares a yours-mine-and-ours family of eight children and six grandchildren. Tom is the ward mission leader in his Des Moines Ward, Seattle Washington Stake.

Valerie Baker grew up in Boulder, Colorado, and attended Utah State University. She has been married for twenty-seven years and is the mother of three grown children. She has served in the Primary, Sunday school, Relief Society and Young Women’s organizations. For the past fifteen years, she has facilitated a pediatric brain-tumor support group.

Betty Bayne was born and raised in Chicago and joined the Church at age twenty-five. She attended ECC and is currently the cafeteria manager of two middle schools. She and her husband, Rick, have five children and seventeen grandchildren. Betty produces the ward bulletin in the Schaumburg 2nd Ward, Schaumburg Illinois Stake.

SummerDale Beckstrand was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She just returned to the Long Beach 10th Ward, Long Beach East Stake, from a Spanish-speaking mission in Houston, Texas. She is single and is majoring in physics and astronomy at Brigham Young University, where she is a teacher’s assistant.

Ann Best’s writing has appeared in numerous publications and she has won numerous awards. She recently wrote a young-adult novel. She lives in Salt Lake City, is the caretaker of a brain-injured daughter, and is a visiting teaching supervisor in the Cottonwood 1st Ward, Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake.

Valaree Brough serves as Relief Society education counselor in the Grants Pass Oregon Stake and as advancement chairman for the Grants Pass 3rd Ward Scout Committee.

Douglas Brown has been writing since sixth grade and has been published in the New Era and Friend magazines. Doug currently serves as ward clerk for the River 2nd Ward, West Jordan River Stake. He and wife JuVene live in West Jordan, Utah, and have seven children.

Heidi Butters has been making up and writing stories and plays since she was a little girl. Some of her poetry has been published by and some of her stories have been published by Short Stuff Magazine and The Storyteller. She also self-publishes on her Web site. Heidi is a visiting teaching supervisor in the Wallsburg 2nd Ward, Midway Utah Stake.

Meli Cardullo was born and raised in Pennsylvania and joined the Church at the age of forty-four. She graduated from MCC with four AAS degrees, and now works for the college assisting disabled students. Most recently, she was editor of the Relief Society newsletter in her ward in Mesa, Arizona. She has four children and three grandchildren.

Esmeralda Carter has been a retired United States Navy veteran of the Persian Gulf War since 1996. She serves as a Sunday school teacher for youth in the Mount Pleasant Ward, Chesapeake Virginia Stake. She lives in Chesapeake with her hero and husband, Bry—a naval officer—and their daughter.

Sandy Christensen was born and raised in Ephraim, Utah, and married her husband, Carl, right after high school. She earned an associate degree from Snow College, a bachelor’s degree from University of Utah and a master’s degree from Utah State University. She worked for ten years as a technical writer while teaching English at Columbia College. She is now a full-time mom with nine children ranging in age from eighteen months to twenty years.

Michael Clifton, a lawyer for condominium developers, boards and managers, has a master’s degree in philosophy and is a freelance writer. He is currently the high priest group leader in the Waterloo Ward, Kitchener Ontario Stake. Michael’s wife, Marhee, is Young Women’s president; they are the parents of two children.

Susan Watts Coon was raised in Provo, Utah, where she met husband Richard while they were still in high school. Susan received a degree in nursing from Brigham Young University (where her father, Stan Watts, was the basketball coach). She enjoys sewing, cooking and reading. She volunteers for LDS Family Services and serves with her husband in a singles ward.

Pamela Coyle is a twenty-eight-year-old wife and mother of two. She currently serves as a ward adult Sunday school teacher and as a Relief Society teacher in the Irvine Ward, Paisley Scotland Stake.

Laura Craner was born and raised in Utah and now lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter. She enjoys being a full-time mother and uses her spare time to write. Laura is currently serving in the Primary presidency of the Longmont 4th Ward, Longmont Colorado Stake.

A lifelong member of the Church, Laura Denhalter was born in Orange, California, but was raised primarily in Utah. Currently in the tenth grade, she is trying to get a job as a recording artist. She has one sister and two brothers.

Alexandra Domingues immigrated to the United States and studied at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. She teaches English classes and does translation work. She currently serves as a visiting teacher, adult Sunday school teacher, seminary teacher and Relief Society music leader in the Set bal Ward 1, Portugal Set bal Stake (near Lisbon). She and her husband, who joined the Church in 1983, are the parents of three boys.

Susan Durgin was born in historical Charlestown, Massachusetts, where she lived until she married at the age of twenty-four. She joined the Church at age thirty-one. She works as an accountant and teaches Relief Society in the Revere 2nd Ward, Cambridge Massachusetts Stake.Widowed at age forty-one, she has one son and one daughter.

Susan Eliason was born in Utah and raised throughout the world. Baptized at age eight, she holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University, is an instructional design consultant and teaches part-time at the Marriott School of Management. Susan serves as ward music chair in the Orem 5th Ward, Orem Utah Stake.

Annaliese Enderle was born and raised in the Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is currently serving as the Relief Society second counselor in her Vista, California, ward. She and husband Vance were married in 1996. She is a stay-at-home mom of three children.

Kirsten Fitzgerald was born in Ohio, and raised in many different states. Her parents joined the Church while expecting her. Shortly after high school she married her husband, Kurt, in Utah; they have four children. Kirsten volunteers for her community, and serves as the enrichment leader in the Tallmadge Ward, Akron Ohio Stake.

Heather Ford grew up in Cody, Wyoming, and graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University with a degree in business management. While at BYU, she was a Hinckley Scholar and studied abroad in Southeast Asia. After graduation, she worked in human resources and corporate training. Heather currently serves as the Young Women’s music director in the Lehi 26th Ward, Lehi Utah North Stake, stays at home with her two daughters and aspires to write as much as possible.

Kathy Frandsen, a writer and editor by profession (she helped edit this book), also loves genealogy and family history work. She and her ex-husband adopted five children, and she has one granddaughter. She is currently the Relief Society pianist and ward choir pianist in the Lakeridge 13th Ward, Orem Utah Lakeridge North Stake; the assistant webmaster and newsletter editor in the Genesis Branch; and is a worker at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple.

Lisa Freeman was born and raised in Idaho. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brigham Young University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia. She lives in Illinois with her husband, Robert, and her five stepchildren. She is the Primary Activity Days leader in her ward.

Melinda Gardner has served as the gospel doctrine teacher for the past four years in the Banbury Ward, Northampton Stake in England. She and her husband, Ian, have three children and two grandchildren. Her oldest son is currently serving in the Salt Lake City Utah Mission.

Kimberlee Garrett served a mission in the Brazil São Paulo Interlagos Mission and attended Brigham Young University and Utah State University, where she majored in English. She currently serves as the marriage and family relations teacher in the American Fork 21st Ward, American Fork Utah East Stake. Kimberlee and her husband, Layne, have three children.

Britnee Gilbert was born and raised in Brigham City, Utah. She has been an active member of the LDS Church her whole life. After graduation she had the opportunity to be a nanny in New York. She has since moved home to Utah to pursue an education in computer science.

Jennifer Gowans was born in Bountiful, Utah, and was raised in the Salt Lake Valley, where she joined the Church at the age of nine. She has an EMT Certification through Utah State University, works for UBMC and is a volunteer firefighter. She and her husband, Andrew, have three young children and serve as a home teaching couple.

Nancy Reynard Gunn was born in Orlando, Florida, was raised as an Air Force “brat” and attended Brigham Young University. She later returned to BYU to earn her master’s degree in English; she currently teaches part-time at BYU. Nancy teaches Primary in the Lakeview 7th Ward, Orem Utah Lakeview Stake. She and husband DeVerl have six children and eleven grandchildren.

Kirsty Hale is a seventh-generation member of the Church; she lives in the South Shields Ward, Sunderland England Stake, where she currently serves as the first counselor in the Young Women’s presidency and as the gospel principles teacher.

Loralee Hartje and her husband were already married when two LDS missionaries came to their door; they joined the Church in January 1979. They have a daughter and two returned missionary sons at Brigham Young University. Lori has served in all auxiliaries in the Church and belongs to the Crystal Lake 2nd Ward, Buffalo Grove Illinois Stake.

Jody Hastey was born and raised in California and joined the Church at age forty-three. She worked in office management and childcare until she moved to Utah after the death of her husband, Michael. She has two daughters and seven grandchildren. Jody is the visiting teacher coordinator in her Utah ward.

Barbara Hausen was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. She earned a master’s degree from Louisiana Tech University. Barbara enjoys being a full-time mother. She is currently the ward employment specialist in the San Antonio 6th Ward, San Antonio Stake. Barbara married in December 1976 and joined the Church three months later; she and Marty have eight children and seven grandchildren.

April Homer is a young mother of three children, who loves teaching preschool, decorating her home, scrapbooking on the computer and playing the piano. She currently serves as a Relief Society instructor in the Kennewick East 1st Ward, Kennewick Washington East Stake.

Leslie Householder, a wife and mother of six young children, is the author of The Jackrabbit Factor and Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters. She currently serves as the family preparedness specialist in the Lindsay Ward, Mesa Arizona Citrus Heights Stake.

A fifth-generation member of the Church, Lester Ann Jensen was born, raised and educated in southern Alberta. She and her husband have visited many nations through their work in the travel/hotel business. Lester Ann also loves to sew, craft and write. The mother of three and grandmother of five, she serves as second counselor in the Relief Society presidency in the Lethbridge Fairmont Ward.

Rochelle Johnson was born and raised in Ohio, and joined the Church at the age of twenty-two. She earned a master’s degree in special education at George Washington University, and currently teaches special needs children in an urban Washington, D.C., elementary school. Rochelle is single and serves on the compassionate service committee in her Virginia ward.

A convert to the LDS Church, Sammie Justesen lives on Rooster Ranch with her husband, Dee, in the Sunnyside Ward, Sandpoint Idaho Stake. She is a registered nurse, a writer and a professional editor. Sammie has served in three Relief Society presidencies and is currently a literacy and genealogy specialist.

Barbara Keller was born and reared in New Jersey. She joined the Church at age thirteen, graduated from BYU, and earned a doctorate at Bowling Green State University. She spent her career in higher education and retired as dean of students at Weber State College. Barbara is a family history consultant in her Utah ward.

Marie Kirkeiner was born and raised in Indiana. She and her husband joined the Church in 1989 while her husband was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany. She graduated from Indiana State University with a degree in music education. She currently serves as the Beehive adviser in the Fisher’s Ward, Muncie Indiana Stake. Marie and her husband are the parents of three children.

Vickie Mattson is a lifelong member of the Church, born in Logan, Utah and reared in Washington state. She and her husband, Gary, of forty-one years have four children and eight grandchildren. She continues her chosen career as mother and homemaker while serving as the stake Young Women’s president.

Lisa May enjoys writing short stories and poetry; she has been published in local and city papers and ward publications. She also enjoys photography and is currently teaching piano. Lisa is the Primary and choir pianist in the Meadowview Ward. She lives in the southern California countryside of Temecula with her husband, son, daughter and yellow Lab.

Deborah McIff works as a grants administrator for nine charter schools in Arizona. She was previously Young Women’s president and is now serving as the Cubmaster in the Vineyard Ward of the Mesa Arizona Maricopa Stake. She and her husband have three children.

Patricia McKenna-Leu was born and raised in Liverpool, England, where she joined the Church at the age of twenty-two. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Patricia went back to school when Martin was disabled in a traffic accident; she is now a graduate midwife working in Melbourne, Australia. She currently serves in the Blackburn Ward, Maroondah Australia Stake as a Primary teacher, temple preparation instructor, ward missionary, family history worker and visiting teacher. She and her husband, Martin, have four daughters.

Stan Miller was born in Arizona, attended Brigham Young University and spent his career in Utah as a business consultant. He is the originator of the bestselling Especially for Mormons books. He and his wife, Sharon, have five children, many grandchildren, and live in Lindon, Utah.

Ruth Moore was born in Massachusetts, raised in Maine and joined the Church in 2004. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and is both a teacher and an athlete. She and her husband, Alfred, have one daughter. They are members of the Ellsworth Branch, where she is an enrichment co-leader.

Diane Moss is currently finishing her master’s degree in nursing science and teaches part-time in the nursing program at Salt Lake Community College. In order of importance, she is a mother of three children and six stepchildren, a grandmother of six, a wife, a sister and a daughter. Her mother is still alive, enjoying her forty grandchildren and thirty-seven great-grandchildren. Diane is currently a Webelos den leader and a visiting teacher in the Pleasant Grove 4th Ward, Pleasant Grove Utah Stake.

Professor emeritus of religious education/ancient scripture, past administrative assistant to President Jeffrey R. Holland, and former Assistant Vice-President and Dean of Student Life at Brigham Young University, Maren Mouritsen earned her degrees at Northwestern and Columbia Universities, with additional studies at The Chicago Art Institute. A popular speaker and writer, Maren is a contributor to The Mormon Encyclopedia and The Book of Mormon Reference Companion. She served in the Northern Far East Mission and on the Young Women’s General Board, helped produce the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, and currently teaches gospel doctrine at Utah State Prison.

A lifelong member of the Church, John Nield was born in Montpelier, Idaho. He earned a doctorate from Idaho State University, retired from college teaching and currently serves as the ward mission leader in the Spanish Fork 12th Ward, Spanish Fork Utah South Stake. John and wife Sally have five children and sixteen grandchildren.

Silvana Norat was born in Argentina in 1970, raised in Buenos Aires and joined the Church in the United States at the age of twenty-five. She graduated from University of Córdoba and is currently the Primary president in her San Antonio, Texas, ward. Silvana and her husband, Sergio, have two children.

Cheryl Panisiak was born and raised in Manitoba and joined the Church at age twenty-four. She has taken early childhood education courses. She is single but has many special “children of the heart” from all her years of working with little ones. She is a nursery teacher in her Edmonton ward.

A lifelong member of the Church, Nadja Pettitt was born and raised in Switzerland. She graduated from Brigham Young University and is currently a SAHM and a freelance translator. Nadja serves in the Primary presidency in the Cergy Paris France Stake. She and her husband, Hugh, are the parents of five daughters and two sons.

Joyce Moseley Pierce was born and raised in Missouri and joined the Church in Oklahoma in 1978. She owns a publishing company and does freelance work. Joyce is the information specialist in her Houston, Texas, ward. She and her husband, Ed, have three children and six grandchildren.

Bridget Rees is an editor and writer with LDS Living magazine. She currently serves on her ward’s Relief Society enrichment committee. She and her husband, Ryan, live in Draper, Utah, with their pug dog, Slim.

A native of Utah, Chrystine Reynolds has a bachelor’s degree in English and history from Utah State University, and loves writing, singing, historical reenacting and doing family history. She participated in three LDS wagon trains and in Seatrek 2001. Chrystine is the Relief Society compassionate service leader in the Ames Ward, Ames Iowa Stake. She and her husband, James, are the parents of six children.

Rich Rogers is a Utah-based freelance writer specializing in arts and entertainment. He is also a literary and theater critic. Rich is the Service Committee cochairman in the Union Fort 9th Singles Branch, Midvale Utah Union Fort Stake. He is permanently single and enjoys being a bachelor uncle.

A lifelong member of the Church, Larisa Schumann was born in Utah and spent her childhood in California. She has degrees from Brigham Young University and BYU-Hawaii, and she currently teaches at Utah Valley State College. She teaches family history and is a visiting teacher in her Utah ward; she is also a temple worker and extraction coordinator.

Douglas Scofield, a retired military police officer, was raised in northern California and joined the Church at the age of fifteen. He is an Oakland Temple coordinator and member of a bishopric in the Gridley California Stake. Doug and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters, a son and a grandson.

Born in Sacramento, California, Kenneth Stinchfield is a retired navy commander who gave twenty-seven years of active duty and six years of reserve duty. He is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who was a naval flight officer early in his military career. Kenneth is a high priest who currently serves as the Young Men’s president in the Salmon Creek Ward, Vancouver Washington West Stake. He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for thirty-five years and are the parents of seven children.

Terry Tippets lived in Utah during most of his school years, served in the U.S. Air Force after graduation from high school, and then served a two-year Church mission in Scotland. Married for thirty-two years and a father of five, he is currently the financial clerk, chorister and assistant organist for his Omaha, Nebraska, ward.

Lehi Yanez was born in Muzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico, and is currently serving as a full-time missionary in the Mexico Oaxaca Mission.

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