Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Be Grateful For What We Have

Last Thursday, our electricity was out for most of the morning. Apparently, a switch from a substation went down and we were without power for over three hours. Everything I needed to do that day took electricity: checking email, sewing something, and watching a movie. My crock-pot dinner was even put on hold. We are so accustomed to electricity that it was hard to fill the time while I was waiting for it to come back on.

It's amazing how grateful you become when something is taken away from you that you take for granted. In case you haven't been forced into gratitude as I have been, this might help to put your life in perspective. These are statistics from the internet:

If you you have food in the refriderator, clothes on your back, roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than a million people.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the worlds' wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the panges of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them, or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer a healing touch.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

Thanksgiving is this week and I'm reminded by force what I am truly thankful for in my life. I need to remember this all year round. Besides being grateful for electricity, I live in my own home in a nice neighborhood, drive a "paid-for" car and live a healthy, active life. My children are good citizens and keep active with school, work and church. I have food on the table, money in the bank and extended family I can count on any time. I am truly blessed and grateful for what I have. I hope you are too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Lesson Learned In Life

It’s difficult in our modern times to listen to the nightly news without getting totally disgusted. There are so many negative reports of all the crime, corruption and destruction of our great nation, it can really weigh you down.

I received an email from an old friend last week telling me that her father passed away at the age of 78. A rush of memories had filled my head. I loved her father. He was a very giving person. He used to drive us around to church activities, singing songs and telling stories and we all had such a great time together. We were teenagers during the 70’s too. No generation gap there. I googled his name to find the obituary because he had accomplished so much when I knew him, I wanted to see what else he had done after I went off to college and their family moved away.

It was amazing to see. He already had a PhD in nuclear chemistry and helped Bell Labs in New Jersey get a satellite up in orbit. After moving away, he then became the head of the department of physics at the State University of New York in Albany. He did Research in X-ray optics and then eventually did research on the effects of metal in the human brain helping to find how to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Besides all the work he accomplished in his career, he was very active in his church and spent a lot of time with his family making his life very full right up until the end.

Another friend of mine wrote this week about a speech she heard Sunday night at a church fireside of a woman who spent time in a concentration camp as a child in Indonesia during WWII. Her name is Kitty De Ruyer Bon and she wrote all about her experiences in a book called As I Have Loved You. The amazing thing about this woman is that in the face of the most humiliating of circumstances and inhumane physical treatment, she kept faith, courage, strength and dignity. With no hope of any earthly reward or return for the good she gave, she still gave even to her captors.

The lives of these two people have touched my life and gave me such a great example to never give up when life seems so overwhelming. At times life does get overwhelming and discouraging and the temptation to throw it all away is sometimes very great. Even to give up on mankind, but that would accomplish nothing. The wisdom to give to others is much better than always thinking: What’s in it for me?

As time moves on and we are blasted with tribulations or hear what our government is doing to our country, we shouldn’t give up on what we believe to be right in our hearts. We should move forward and think clearly. It is a good lesson learned in life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Defending True Liberty

As this Saturday is our nation’s independence day, we are reminded of the sacrifices of those who came before us. We are reminded of what our true liberties are and that we are free to take care of our families, live in our own home, work at a place of employment without harm and spend time with friends and our families.

I read The Declaration of Independence this morning and as I did, it reminded me of how those earlier delegates felt about the true liberty of our budding nation at the time. One of the world’s best-known statements declared was that “all men are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” We need to remember the words of our forefathers.

The news of what our government wants to accomplish in the next few years is devastating because slowly but surely we are being stripped of these Rights. When all is said and done, the privileges we have been enjoying in the past will be gone, true Liberty will no longer exist and our Happiness will be gone forever.

From one of our ecclesiastical leaders in the past, David O. McKay said: “True liberty in individuals consist of the enjoying of every right that will contribute to one’s peace and happiness, so long as the exercise of such a privilege does not interfere with the same privilege in others. It consists not in doing what one likes to do but in doing what one ought to do. It is the right of each individual to be master of his own time and actions consistent with fairness and justice to his fellow men and with harmony with the laws of God. It is freedom of choice, a divine gift, an essential virtue in a peaceful society.”

The fight to keep our liberties is going to be a strong one in the coming months and we have to be vigilant in watching what national leaders’ intend to do with our freedoms. We need to watch what bills are passed. We need to make our voice known to Congress that we will not accept any laws passed which are unconstitutional and take our liberties away. This is what we ought do.

We have so much to fight for living in this free nation. We owe it to those who came before us. Just as Thomas Jefferson wrote in his closing statement of our Declaration, I leave you these words: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Remember these words and have a happy, healthy and safe Fourth of July.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Overcoming The Weeds of Life

I had the chance to get outside and do some yard-work last week. After some weeding in the front flower bed and edging with the weed eater on the side of the house, I had to tackle the weeding of a rose bush I had planted a few years ago.

I hadn’t realized the time had gotten away from me and those weeds had grown so fast over my low growing bush that I could barely see the bush itself. With the blossom season upon us, I didn’t want to miss those beautiful pink blooms popping everywhere. Now the weeds had over taken it and I had to save it from the invasion.

After pulling the weeds away, it was amazing to find how well my rose bush did. I was very pleasantly surprised how my struggling rose bush was growing so well even with those quick growing weeds all around and over it. It was just growing like crazy. I thought all those weeds would hinder the growth. The bush looked as if it wouldn’t have grown at all. It looked as if it would have been smothered. But it flourished and grew anyway. New shoots had grown all over and I actually had to cut it back.

I had to reflect on this idea because humans are so very vulnerable to trials and challenges. We meet bumps in the road or rapidly growing weeds and it discourages us from going any farther. How many times have we had the weeds of life come upon us and try to smother us and we just keep growing? How many times do we let those challenges in our life overtake our great attitude and we flounder with the thought of “I can’t get through this” and then realize months down the road that it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. Many times we let unimportant setbacks ruin our day of other wonderful accomplishments. I’m guilty as well and need to take a lesson from my own rose bush.

Louis L’Amour said it best: “The one law that does not change is that everything changes, and the hardship I was bearing today was only a breath away from the pleasures I would have tomorrow, and those pleasures would be all the richer because of the memories of this I was enduring.”

Don’t let the weeds of life pull you down so much you don’t follow through on your goals in life. Don’t let the weeds of life over come your good attitude and worthwhile life of family and friends. You come from a godly heritage and enduring to the end with courage and dignity will in the end come back around to lift you up. Have a great day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Success is fleeting,... unless.....

This past weekend, I had the honor of attending the LDS Storymakers Writing Conference. It was a wonderful experience being surrounded by so many talented people who made me realize the importance of working hard and never being complacent.

There are a few times in life when I amaze myself. Today is one of those days.

Not because I am so wonderful and creative, but because I simply have the most incredible dumb luck at times! Once again I digress as I get off on one of my ADD tangents. I’ll begin at the beginning….

After getting home and mulling over all that I learned and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the gratitude of being able to help, meet and learn from so many wonderful people, I finally remembered that I needed to do my blog posting .Since I had arranged the tour over a month ago, there was no way that I could have foreshadowed my thoughts and feeling on this particular day. I looked at today’s Life Saver and smiled. It read;

“Unless you’re the lead dog, the view is always the same.”

Publishing is an interesting business. As authors we are always trying to step up one more rung on the ladder. If you are unpublished, you want to get a contract. If you are published, you want an agent, a bigger contract and a national audience. If you have a national audience and an agent, you want to be on the best seller lists. And once, you’re there, you want to stay there and do it better and better and better…..

I’ve been lucky and had an amazing amount of success – success that others merely dream of. I’ve hit the national market, done TV, radio and hit the charts high on Amazon. I’ve seen my name in print in prestigious publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Content and big papers across the nation. I’ve seen my name go as far as England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. But I look at J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyers and Richard Paul Evans and even some of my closer acquaintances like James Dashner, Josi Kilpack and Janette Rallison and think, “Man, I have a LONG way to go!” Adn i look at even closer friends like Candace Salima, Tristi Pinkston, Annette Lyon and Michele Bell who have more knowledge in their little pinkies than I have in my entire noggin and think, "There is NO way I can ever catch up!"

Discouragement sets in and before I know it, success is out the window and I’m a failure. Thankfully, God knows me well and slaps me up the side of the head every once in a while and places opportunities in front of me that get me outside of myself and focused on others in a positive way. It’s when I have the ability to serve and follow in the footsteps of the only lead dog who matters – the Savior.

And when I do that, the level of success suddenly does not matter but the route in which we get there – flowing in His footsteps following His lead – does.

I came out of Storymakers so incredibly grateful that I have been placed in positions where I could help fulfill the dreams of others, learn from others, teach others and spur the hope of others. But mainly, I am grateful for the opportunity to be used as an instrument in His hands for blessing the lives of others.

It’s true; success is fleeting -- unless you look at it as an eternal proposition. And if you do, not only your success, but that of others, becomes an eternal gift that is satisfying where ever you may be on the success spectrum.

Monday, April 13, 2009

There are many reasons I have become a part of the Stayin' Alive With Stacy Virtual Tour and Life Saver Challenge. I'll share just one:

November of 2008 found me brooding and ill-tempered. The struggling building industry made it necessary for my self-employed husband to seek employment in another state. The eight hundred plus miles between home and work meant that for most of each month I was alone in "The Parent Zone." I had little time for such frivolous activities as sleeping or showering, let alone going to lunch with friends. When a notice came through my writer's group that Stacy Gooch-Anderson would be in town and that we were all invited to meet for lunch the following Saturday, I sighed heavily and prayed that I could survive long enough to just get to the weekend. Amazingly, the week flew by as I did my best to meet the needs of my active children, my aging parents and the demands of my church callings. As I knelt by my bed Saturday morning, praying for peace and assistance to accomplish the many tasks ahead of me, I felt a strong desire to attend that lunch. When I tried to dismiss the "temptation," I felt loving arms surround me and a voice whisper in my heart. "Fill your well."

Attending lunch in Tempe that day changed my life. Not only did I reconnect with old friends from ANWA, but I met Stacy Gooch-Anderson. How many people do you know would, upon meeting you less than ten minutes before, excitedly announce that the house next door was for sale and she would love to have you as a next-door neighbor? Stacy relfected the Light that has accompanied her throughout the many challenges she has faced in her life. Of course, I had to get a copy of her book, The Santa Letters. I loved that book even more because nowI knew the author.

Stacy has a unique flair for finding flecks of humor in even the most bleak situations. Her newest book, Life is Tough, I Doubt I'll Make It Out Alive is full of laugh-until-you-cry, life-saving wisdom. Just as easily as she invited me, a relative stranger, to live next door, Stacy invites the reader into her home and her heart as she recounts "A Mother's Life Lessons Learned Through Laughter." Each chapter offers a unique life lesson learned during her journey through marriage and motherhood. Can you imagine having to call your husband to discuss your child's misdeeds so many times that the office starts a betting pool about the nature of the call? And just how do you cope when multiple generations of your family are struck with cancer? Stacy does it with a frankly honest style and humor and just enough tears to soften any heart.

And the fun continues! Stacy is posting a daily "Lifesaver" on her blog. Today's Lifesaver is:
"If you want to be a leader with a large following, go slow on a two-way street." I highly recommend you pick up the challenge. You never know when you ar going to need your own lifesaver!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There is only one path to follow...

I am a slow learner and I have a problem with feeling very inadequate at times.

I remember when my dad (who was Bishop of his ward at the time) passed away and looking at the hundreds of people waiting in a line, which snaked out of the cultural hall, through the lobby and out into the rain as they waited for an opportunity to bid adieu to him and lend support to his family.

Since he was loved by so many more than just his family, I also remember thinking that I did not envy the man who would have to step into his shoes.

Neither did that man.

He came to my mother’s door soon after he’d been set apart and cried as he expressed his ache over losing such a good friend and concern over having to fill my father’s shoes.

I remember clearly my mother placing her hand on his arm and telling him ever so sweetly that he did not have to fill my father’s shoes but simply use his own to walk in the Savior’s footsteps.

When President Hinckley passed away, I shamefully but admittedly thought again that I did not envy the man who had to try and fill his shoes. But since this church is one of perpetual order, progression and consistency, another was called to fill the position.

Soon after, my family and I got to meet and listen to that man. And as I shook President Monson’s hand, I could not help but remember the words of my mother and feel with all of my heart that this man too had probably cried over losing such a dear friend as well as facing the imposing task of following behind such a beloved prophet as President Hinckley. Nonetheless, he would serve and follow in the footstep of his Savior doing as He would have him do.

Amongst laughter from the personal stories and memories he regaled us with was the permeating feeling that this was a man called of God to take care of His business, minister to the members of His church and be His mouthpiece as we are ushered into the next period of worldly change and ecclesiastical growth.

I did not see an elderly man so very different from the last but saw and felt the spirit of a man who has been prepared and cultivated all of his life to bless the lives of all he may.

I did not see an untouchable man but one who took the time to shake the hands of those who were there, listen to them and love them.

I heard a man who made us laugh, allowed us to cry and encouraged us to stand a little taller and believe a little more.

In short, I met and shook hands with a man who emanated the spirit and qualities of the one whom he has promised to serve,…. and it gave me hope. Hope that I too don’t need to worry about filling anyone else’s shoes but that I simply need to walk in my own as I follow in the footsteps of my Savior.

Friday, March 20, 2009

PVC and Me

By Sarah Albrecht

Last Friday I bought four five-foot lengths of 2-inch diameter PVC pipe, three connectors, and one set of PVC primer and glue at Lowe’s. It sounds simple but that was also the day I had about 1,543 other things to do, plus all my kids were with me and my ten-year-old found a great hideout under the shelves and my four-year-old kept screaming at the (innocent, of course) older kids.

That night while everyone watched Spongebob I opened the family room window for ventilation, brought in the pipe and primed it with noxious purple primer, then glued on the connectors with a cute little pompom of a brush. Never having primed or glued pipe before, I felt quite proud.

The job had to be done Friday, you see, because Saturday was Nature Trail Work Day at my son’s elementary school, and, lack of knowledge and experience aside, I sort of chair the nature trail committee. During the work day we planned to dig an arroyo to channel water from the bus bay to the pollinating garden we’re planting. We would dig one retention basin on each side of the garden to hold the redirected water. We would dig a narrow trench between the basins, into which we would lay my pipe so the water could flow from one basin to the next, as a water harvesting expert had advised.

Saturday morning I arrived early, tools and plants and wheelbarrow and pipe rattling around the back of our 1996 Ford pickup. I had to glue the pipe lengths together so the pipe would be ready when needed. Turns out three lengths fit between the basins, so we had one pipe left over. Not a bad error. Could have been worse, I thought.

I finished gluing and left my pipe lying between the projected basins. About that time a volunteer family arrived with a landscape-savvy dad. I told him our extensive digging plans, then pointed out my lovely pipe. “Thing’s gonna be full of silt in a year,” he said. “Now don’t get fancy. Just dig another arroyo over to the other basin.” My face carefully bland, I said, “Sure, that makes sense, we can do that,” while in my head I screamed, “Do you know what I went through for that pipe laying right there?”

Fortunately I was in the midst of reading Three Cups of Tea, a book about former mountaineer Greg Mortenson’s efforts to build schools in Pakistan. Due to trial and error, it took him three years to build the first school. Subsequent schools took three months. My little pipe was nothing like building a whole school, but the reminder was the same: mistakes, often time-consuming ones, are essential to learning. In fact, they function like springs, drawing one back in compressed discouragement, yet, if released, able to launch one forward further than was possible before.

I’ll take a deep, cleansing breath and keep that in mind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Medicine

By Sarah Albrecht

The other night my four-year-old sat giggling on my lap as we watched our grey tabby kitten on the opposite couch. He lounged on his side with one paw raised, then swiped at our golden retriever’s plumed tail when it splayed into the air.

This scene of pet felicity might imply a family of long-standing feline and canine ownership. Not so.

About two-and-a-half years ago my husband and I first considered letting our younger son pick a cat from the humane society. He wanted one so badly, you see. We checked out books from the library, talked to cat lovers (and haters) and weighed the pros and cons. Pros won, and one hot July day we trundled down to the pound and our son chose an orange tabby he named Sparky. A couple of months later our neighbors had retriever puppies and we repeated the process. A year later our other son longed for his own cat. We repeated the process. Then the first cat punched out a screen and sneaked out the window one night to have a fatal rendezvous with a coyote. We repeated the process.

So we have a grand total of two cats and a dog, and when the boys forget to clean the litter box or the dog chews the rug or sneaks into the library, the only part of the house she considers “outside,”or we spend an astonishing amount at the vet, I still feel drawbacks to pet ownership.

The fact is, though, at least one of the pets makes us laugh every day. And after a stressful day at school, the first thing my teenager does is look for a cat to hug. When my preschooler is lonely while the other kids are at school, ditto (well, she might tuck the kitten under a blanket instead). As I sit reading in the quiet of the morning before the rest of the house awakens, I’ll look up and see the mature cat sitting squarely in front of me, squinting her eyes in welcome. If my ten-year-old son has too much energy, well, he’d better find the dog.

The pets have become good medicine with a few side effects.

Applying the pets to life in general, I find that the pros and cons in many of my choices morph into “medicine” and “side effects” after the decision has been made and the new lifestyle begins. Over time, if the benefits of the medicine continue to outweigh the detriments of its side effects, I can live with, and even enjoy, the situation. If negative side effects eclipse the benefits of the medicine, then it’s time to make a change.

Waxing philosophical about cats and dogs—medicine or side effect? I’m not sure!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Healing in a Jar

After a major loss in my life, I attended a grieving class. One concept I learned is that it's normal to be forgetful and distracted when you've experienced grief, even when you're not thinking about your loss. And that gave me hope that sooner or later ordinary aspects of my life would settle down.

And they did.
Then I happened to read a magazine article about a woman who gave her mother, "the woman who has everything" a unique gift. She took 365 small slips of paper and wrote memories of her mother on each. Then she put them in a pretty jar with a ribbon and presented it to her mother.

"Read one each day," she told her mother, who promptly reached in, took out one slip, read it, and smiled. They reminisced about the event on the paper.
Then, after the daughter left, the mother read each of the remaining 364 papers! She just couldn't ration herself to one a day, she enjoyed them so much.

I returned to my grieving class the next evening and one member said that her familiy was gathering in a couple of months to honor the life of her brother, who had taken his own life. They couldn't afford to do anything expensive or elaborate, but they wanted to do something significant that would bring them closer and help them heal. I thought of the "memory jar" in the magazine article, and told her about it.

Her face lit up. She said it was a great idea; she would ask family members to write favorite memories of her brother and bring them. They'd put them in a jar and take turns reading them.

I later heard that it was a great success. They pulled the memories out of the jar and they laughed and they cried and they began to heal. From simple ideas great things can happen. And in this case, I had the privilege of passing on a story, one that helped a family deal with their grief.

Monday, January 26, 2009

If Thou Could'st Empty All Thyself of Self

by Sarah Albrecht

As a teenager, I first found this poem by Sir Robert Browne quoted in Madeleine l'Engle's young adult novel, A Ring of Endless Light. The poem resonated then and still does. It has helped me catch myself when I am "replete with very me"--full of myself?--and has served as the catalyst over and over for a needed shift in perspective.

If Thou Could'st Empty All Thyself of Self

If thou could`st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, `This is not dead`,
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes, He says,
`This is enow
Unto itself - `twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.`

--Sir Thomas Browne

Friday, January 23, 2009

Culture Charm

by Stephanie Abney
Mesa, AZ

We have been hosting a teacher from China in our home this week. She teaches at a high school in Beijing. Her name is Sun, Mei and she is 27 years old.

We really had no idea what to expect. She and nine of her students are here for 10 days visiting our school, Eagle’s Aerie, in Gilbert, AZ, a K-12 Charter School. Each of the students is being hosted by a family from the school except for one who is staying with friends of a family from the school. They are all extremely polite and sweet, eager to participate in typical American high school life.

It has been so delightful to have Sun, Mei stay here with us. She is very charming and her English is extremely good. We have not had any trouble communicating. A few times we each had to try a few other ways to explain something but in the end we understood each other. She teaches Chinese. At first I thought that was odd and then I instantly remembered all the English classes I have taken in high school and college and it made perfect sense.

Sun, Mei chose an American name to go by, Karen, but I enjoy using her Chinese name. She arrived Sunday night, visited briefly with us and being very tired from her journey, went to bed early. She has been riding to and from school with me and spends her day either with her students or visiting other classes and answering numerous questions from our students. Since Monday was a holiday, a field trip to the Science Museum and the Diamondback Stadium was planned for the Chinese students. I picked her up afterwards and she attended her first “family picnic” at the park. Some of our family members got together for fun and ham sandwiches and all that goes with it. Sun Mei got sandwiched out that day as she also ate her first peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I packed for her field trip and then ham sandwiches at the picnic. She and all of her students are “only” children, as is the current custom of China because the government is concerned about their large population. She seems to enjoy seeing photos of and hearing about our large family.

We have had lots of laughs while she has been here. Wednesday was the “All-School Hike” up South Mountain at Fat Man’s Pass. We also went to a “Teacher’s Party” at our local Barnes and Noble Wednesday after school. I won 3 prizes, including a globe of the world, by being the first to answer questions about children’s literature. Sun, Mei won one of the free raffle prizes and when we got home, she told Jim, “I didn’t have to answer any questions for my prize. I’m lucky.” Afterwards we went to Ocean Blue and tasted almost every flavor of frozen yogurt they offer. She had never tasted any before. She graciously treated me to a cup of yogurt once we decided on our favorites.

Tuesday night we stopped at “Moki’s Hawaiian Grill” for dinner and she seemed to like the food and last night we picked up take-out at “Panda’s Express”. She laughed when she told me how one of our students asked one of her students if they ate at “Panda’s.” The Chinese student misunderstood the question to be: “Do you eat Pandas?” He answered, rather alarmed, “No! We do not eat Pandas. They are protected.”

Last night I fixed a typical American meal (well, a typical ARIZONA American meal ~ it was tostadas) which she liked. She will have several more opportunities to eat what we eat while she is here and she will also cook for us one night. There are several things I have thought would be fun to do with her here but she is still struggling with jet lag and we were told not to do things that were very different from our normal routine so they can experience life in America.

When Sun, Wei and I got home on Wed. night, Jim was already home and the door was locked. She went to open the door, (always so anxious to "help" me so she opens doors and carries packages) and she found the front door locked and looked a little surprised at me. I couldn’t resist and as I unlocked the door, I said, “Jim is scared.” She got my joke and laughed. In fact, we have made several jokes together and have understood them well.

After dinner we watched “American Idol.” Sun, Wei was familiar with it and enjoyed watching it with us. She has been very respectful of us, our home, our belongings and has been the perfect guest. She has bowed her head with us when we have prayed over our food. The first time I prayed over a meal, she looked at me and said, “You are thankful.”

Last night we attended a benefit concert at our school, put on by staff and students but the star of the concert was Mr. Gary Gjersted, one of our music teachers, who happens to be blind. When I asked her prior to the concert if she noticed one of our teachers was blind, she said she had. I went on to say that he plays the piano beautifully to which she responded thoughtfully, “Oh, yes, God is fair. He takes his sight but gives him the piano.”

We have found, which I think is always the case with people meeting for the first time (no matter where they are from), that we are more alike than we are different. I thought of several things to call this blog entry from “Culture Shock” to “Cultures Collide” but none of those would have been accurate. Yes, I think “Culture Charm” is the best title. I know she has enjoyed her stay thus far; she is always taking pictures and we have enjoyed her. We have become good friends and how charming is that? Very!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rockrollers and Pancakes - - and Hope

Last fall I met Marilyn Brown, an award winning novelist who is well-known in the west. She and her husband are multi-talented, I discovered, when I visited their gallery in Springville, Utah. Both are accomplished artists. And Bill Brown has a long history of theater credits to his name as theater owner, actor, producer and director, and, in the case of Rockrollers and Pancakes, writer and director. He gave my sister and me free tickets to that night's performance. Loving regional theater as I do, I wasn't going to miss it.

Rockrollers and Pancakes is a touching drama based on real events Bill experienced as he was growing up. His father suffered a serious injury on the job, and the family lost their home as a result. They lived for several months in a tent in a nearby canyon. I hope this actually happened in the spring or summer, as Utah winters can be brutal. Bill told us that for him and his brothers, it was great to camp in the canyon, as they could fish and hike to their hearts' content. He didn't realize the dire situation his parents faced until he was older.

(I should add that I'm not exactly sure what rockrollers are, but I think they're worm-like creatures that live on the underside of rocks in the river. I looked up the term on the web, but all I found were references to rock collectors' clubs and rock and roll, and I'm sure those two elements weren't mentioned in the play. Well, there was a brief reference to Elvis, now that I think about it.)

As the play unfolded there were chuckles and tears from the audience, and appreciative, enthusiastic applause at the end. The best part of the evening, however, was glancing at Bill now and then to watch the expressions that crossed his face. I imagine he was pleased to see his drama produced again, and that he was justifiably proud of his cast. I also think he reflected with a tender heart on those days when his parents made a good life for their family despite very difficult circumstances the children couldn't fully understand at the time.

I hope Rockrollers and Pancakes is produced again and again. It's a play about hope, never giving up, and unbreakable family ties.

Isn't that a great message for us today?