Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reflect, plan and rest

As a part of "Speakers Group" on, a discussion was begun with the question - "In your expert opinion, what do we need to be doing during this last week of 2010 to make ourselves the best we can be in 2011?" I liked the question enough to respond, and I liked my answer enough to share it here with you all.

Reflect, plan and rest. I believe we all need to take time to reflect about 2010 - a) what went well, b) what didn't go well, c) what do I want to improve, d) what dreams do I have - am I dreaming. All these are great things to think about so we can be ready to change in 2011.

Then a) write down your successes and put them somewhere you can remember them for days when you feel like I want to give up; b) forgive yourself for what didn't go right and see if there is something you can change to make it better, c) make a specific plan on how to improve what didn't go well, d) take some time to sit and dream and maybe write the dreams down. But for right now keep the dream(s) tucked in your heart to take out and look over, be strengthened and smile; and, when the time is right, share it and begin to work on it.

Rest - get your body and mind and spirit ready for next year to work. Let it rest. Meditate and spend time with God - preparing your faith for the next fights. 2011 will look better and you'll be ready.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas continues....

I've declared it the second day of Christmas!! :) With all this snow, it's beautiful, but I pray no one is going out. Can't wait to get outside and make a snow angel (this time I will have assistance getting up - LOL), and I have to encourage my Dad to make snowcream. Merry Christmas....continued.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Traveling Story

Today I presented "The Ragged King" again and afterwards I pondered how far this story has come and gone and continues. The story I told comes from a parable written by Soren Kierkegaard in his book, "Philosphical Fragments." (You can read the whole parable and thoughts at This parable was put into another book, which David Jeremiah referenced in his book, "Why the Nativity?"

Donna Thomas, Associate Minister of Music at First Baptist Norfolk, wanted to add a dramatic monologue to a program that our Young at Heart choir was doing. She asked friend, Sarah Brady. Sarah was unavailable and suggested me. Donna also talked to Courtnery and Courtney suggested me and obtained my contact information from Stephanie Freeman, who I went to Malawi with. Donna and I connect and she shows me the parable and asks to make it more of a story. So I come up with 6 mins. that becomes "The Ragged King." I send her the copy of the story (revised slightly just for telling) and she recognizes it matches the pastor's sermon coming up the week after next. She shares with the worship planning team and they ask if I can share this the week after the "Young at Heart choir program" to all 4 services in church.

So, Dec. 5 - I present "The Ragged King" at Young at Heart choir Christmas program for the assisted living/nursing homes. On Dec. 12 - I present "The Ragged King" right before the sermon at all 4 services at First Baptist Norfolk (my home church). On Dec. 13 - Burt Reed calls Mr. Rosser and tells him about the presentation. Mr. Rosser calls my Dad and requests that I come and present at their weekly men's prayer breakfast. So, Dec. 22 - I present "The Ragged King" at the Men's Prayer Breakfast (in Hampton, VA). Today, I was requested by the Sr. Pastor at First Presbyterian Church to present "The Ragged King" at the 5 pm Christmas Eve program.

From the heart of Kierkegaard (1800's) to the ears of those in the 21st century, and it still rings with the same conviction, same revelation about the depth of Christ's love, and is unmistakably the work of God's hand. What we do can have lasting results! Interesting to see where a story travels and how a good story never loses its power. Merry Christmas, Sheila

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stories and Songs

Yesterday I went to Cuffee Center, Chesapeake, VA and presented a Christmas story. It's one that had been working its way through my mind and I presented my version of "The Little Drummer Boy." It was well-received and I saw areas of improvment I could make. However, it begun me thinking more about the stories behind songs.

It's an area I haven't looked at, but there are so many good stories BEHIND the songs that are written or about the authors themselves. I have been reading the words to "I'm Satisfied with Jesus" by B.B. McKinney as part of my Quiet Time over the last few weeks and I have enjoyed learning about B.B. McKinney along the way. He was considered a gentle man, but wrote voraciously and helped edit some of the Southern Baptist Hymnals. His famed words, which he says came from his mother, "When you sing a song, make sure you believe in the words." Oh, what a story his life or even moments in his life could make.

The stories behind "Great is Thy Faithfulness", "It is Well With my Soul" and "Jesus Paid it all" - all powerful stories and worthy of telling, as well as singing. There are also many non-Christian songs that could made into, or might already be stories, but we only see the song side. "Pappa was a rolling stone" - hmmmm - what could we do with that. Maybe we can't use "Shake your groove thing" or "Baby, got back" - LOL - but there is a whole 'nother area of stories just waiting for us to share in the world of music.

Have a great day. It's snowing here and snowing hard and fast, we're expecting 3 inches and it's been steady and heavy for the last hour and a half. Then to turn to rain and freeze over tonight. You can imagine it's going to be a challenge; so if you're going out be safe, and if you're in - stay in. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Perspective

I just did a presentation of "The Ragged King", which is based on a parable that is included in David Jeremiah's book, What is Navtivity? (See Lesson 9). It's a beautiful parable about looking into the heart of a king who falls in love with a humble woman - a peasant. In the end the king realizes the only way he can ensure that this woman can love him for himself and can even see his glory, is when he becomes a peasant himself. It is the story of Christ to humanity.

As I was practicing this piece (and I often have to be careful with practice, because sometimes it leaves the world of storytelling and becomes a script), I reversed the perspective. Using almost the same words I looked at the story through the eyes of the humble woman. It was an amazing and startling change of view, and, helped me remember the piece better, particularly better as a story.

I often encourage teachers to have students write or debate from an opposite perspective. However, I hadn't done that for myself. There is a lot of storywriting happening from the other perspective - "The Three Little Pigs" and "Red Riding Hood" from the point of the wolf is the most common example. However, what if I changed perspective on even my most basic stories. "Possum and the snake" - from the point of view of the snake. "Tigertail Soup" from the point of view of the tiger. These stories become fresh and knew and give wonderful insight.

I don't think I will ever "tell" the story from these perspectives, but having at least told the perspective to myself, gives me more depth with each character. This is actually what Buck Creacy had me do when looking at each of my characters in the story, however, this is just a bit deeper in that each person is given the same story to tell.

Why not try a different perspective with your next story? or even when debating with someone or trying to figure them out? or maybe I should pass this on from Congress? Oh, but that's a whole different story. Peace.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Being Led

Hello, Friends. Yesterday I was performing at Beacon House, a place in Virginia Beach that helps teach and reinforce life skills for folks who have suffered a brain injury from a variety of things, i.e., stroke, victim of crime, car accidents, birth, etc. It was so much fun. I told the story "The Tree Called Beatrice" - a favorite of mine for Christmas. It was the perfect story because Adam in the story is "different" and treated that way by other folks, but he had such good qualities. The group seemed to really relate to Adam. I had not chosen the story for that purpose, but regonized the moment I started what a wonderful choice it was.

Later that evening while at my friend, Vicki Blett's, house, I shared this with her and her husband. Her husband, Larry (a fine actor in his own right :), said, "You know that wasn't you, it was the Holy Spirit - you were led." And that I believe is true. There are times when the story is perfect and I wasn't going to tell it, or I didn't have it originally on my mind, but it suddenly comes out. While I'm telling it, I can see "this is the one" and I do feel, and know that I am, led. Listening to the inner spirit, and I know this Spirit as one from God - can be difficult in my regular every day life, however in my life of performance, I find it much easier to hear. I think it's because I give over my performances each and every time and don't actively do that every day. (Was that conviction I heard, Sheila?)

Well, off I go, another "led" opportunity this morning. Presenting "The Ragged King", which is based on a parable shared with me from David Jeremiah's book - "Why the Nativity?" Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Tomorrow I head out to Mississippi where I will be doing two presentations at the Mississippi State Reading Association Conference. This is the second time I've been at this conference. Since starting my business I have presented at several different Reading and Social Studies conferences in New York, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia. (I think more, but I can't remember them right now.)

Usually for conferences of this type one must make a proposal, have it accepted and then pay for their transportation, room and board. It's great when you can combine your workshop with a paid presnetation, but how? Well, here's one idea. Check with conference organizers and see if they have someone performing for their large breakfast, lunch and/or dinner gathering with attendees. If they don't, find out their theme, and develop the "perfect" program to meet their needs at one of these meals, and set the price (ensure you put in expenses). Then offer them one to two FREE workshop presentations during the conference. The conference will get excellent entertainment/education during one its meals as well as a quality workshop they can offer members. You will get your expenses paid, the exposure, a well-needed brush up on teaching others and upgrading what you do, as well as more intimate time with folks that can lead to other programming. Make sure you have a sign in sheet (or two) for folks that gets their name and e-mail address. Always, send a thank you e-mail to workshop participants, more information about the topic and let them know you will remain in contact with them about programming and about the topic you presented.

Another idea is to get your proposal for workshopping accepted first and then start cold calling all the surrounding area schools, churches and other organizations about being in the area. Try to get 5 programs during the time you are in the area, and you will certainly cover the cost of your expenses. Make sure in your workshop to share where you have been in the area during this visit. This helps participants see that you are available for further programming, and gives them immediate referrals.

Good luck for your next conferences, or your first! Peace and belief, Sheila

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Hello, Friends. I have been doing a lot of reading and getting through some of the things to be filed and "to do's", as I call them, that have piled up around my desk. I'm beginning to feel a little clutter free. Okay, so I have a long way to go, but I'm excited that it has begun. Here is my other recent book review on "East of the Sun, West of the Moon".

Before I go there, this is what I've learned about Storytelling - we need to a) share our personal stories - this keeps "us" and our families alive for generations; b) share historical stories - for this keeps even the small things of history alive and shared and we can gain so much encouragement and learning from them; and, c) share old stories - fairytales, moral stories, folktales, cultural stories - because they explain how it used to be, they give us dreams, they teach us and are universal in their story, oh, and d) share "new" stories that we have developed, because that charges our creativity, innovation and imagination and brings relevance to people.

I think we are doing "a" and "b" pretty well, however, the old stories are getting so lost - we need to go back to old stories and remember and learn them. That means old books, like "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." We also need to develop more "new" stories, not just personal, but fun and great fiction stories that are relevant to people today and encourage them in the world of storytelling. Okay, so I've lectured a bit. Now here's the book review. Peace and belief, and Happy Thanksgiving!

East of the Sun and West of the Moon:
Old Tales from the North
Written by Peter Christen Asbjornsen & Jorgen Engebretsen Moe. Illustrated by Kay Nielsen

Published 1976 by Hodder & Stoughton Children’s Books, London, England
Published 1977 by Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY
ISBN: 0-385-13213-1
LCCN: 77-74791

My Thoughts
This is a classic in the world of storytelling and stories, which I know only because the book keeps coming up in bibliographies done by storytellers. If you ever heard that storytellers also use the number 3 in stories, i.e., The Three Pigs, The Three Bears, etc., then these stories are the true testament to the use of 3. Also, with the use of repetition. It was one of those times I never wanted anything repeated again. The pictures are pre-anime (Japanese) and I would love to see some of them in large posters, however, the stories, are mostly so-so, with little glimmers of light, and lots of bright spotlight on other fairy tales that are better written with the same general plot.

“Another theme is the maturing of love through a hazardous search such as in East of the Sun and West of the Moon in which we recognize a version of the Greek legend of Cupid and Psyche.”

Kay Neilsen
“A school mistress at Emerson relates how a small Mexican boy used to come often to the studio to watch him paint “The Canticle”. One day the boy said he would like the mural better if there was a cat in it. Did he have a cat? Yes, so Kay told him to bring it to the studio and he’d paint it into the mural. Later Kay confessed he would have wished for a more photogenic cat but had not wanted to disappoint his young friend. And there it sits, an all-white puss on a red brick paving.”

East of the Sun and West of the Moon – I like this story. However, I just read Edith Pattou’s book, East. She does a great job of taking this story and developing characters and location – it was truly magical! (See yesterday's post)

The Blue Belt – a variation of “Simon and Susannah”, Negro love story and folk-tale found in The Last Tales of Uncle Remus by Julius Lester.

Lassie and the Godmother – the moral is “you reap what you sow”, and really powerfully done. This one is going to be included in my list of stories. P. 53-60.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Quickie

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am posting my latest book review. It is the book "East" by Edith Pattou. I hope you'll pick up this book even over this holiday and enjoy a great adventure. Peace, Sheila.

By Edith Pattou
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books; 1 edition (September 1, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0152045635
ISBN-13: 978-0152045630

My ThoughtsI LOVED THIS BOOK!! What a great read and I will never forget my trip with Rose and the White Bear. I learned about mapmaking and cartography (never read a book where that was an active part of the story ) I read the fairytale, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” AFTER I read “East” and, wow!, what a great job Ms. Pattou did in enhancing the lives of the fairy tale characters. However, she was also so very, very true to the original story. I would like to learn to write AND tell a story like this, particularly expanding a fairy tale without losing the essence of the story.

If you have some SciFi readers – send them this way. I do believe your girls will be the ones most appreciative of this book – the romance and the fairy tale are a girls’ dream. Understand, though, Rose is no “wimp” or “prissy” or “milktoast” young lady – she is grit, determination, smart, adventurous and amazing. I think it will be a while until I read a young adult science fiction story that makes me fall in love and want to read it again and again and again and again and…

Author Information

I love to hear from readers and read every single letter and email I receive, but the truth is that in general I am worse than pathetic at responding. I am trying to turn over a new leaf, but sincerely hope that ninety-nine percent of your questions will be answered in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this website. On the off chance that they are not, I will do my best to respond, or will make sure your question is added to my FAQ's section.
Send your emails to: You can also join me on Facebook.
I do a limited number of school visits per year so if you are a teacher or librarian, email me at the above address and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
If you prefer snail mail, my address is:
Edith Pattou (author)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116

If you have a book that you would like me to autograph, the very nice folks at Cover to Cover Bookstore in Columbus, Ohio will be happy to arrange for me to come in and sign, and then send it along to you.

Review From School Library JournalGrade 6 Up-A compelling novelization of the folktale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." Rose's story-from her birth as a replacement for a dead sister to her eventual happy marriage to Charles VI's fifth child-is recounted from the kaleidoscopic viewpoints of her father, her brother, the troll queen who bewitched the Dauphin, the White Bear whom the Dauphin became until Rose's rescue, and Rose herself. Each character's unique perspective and voice adds texture and tension to the plot, which is imbued with Nordic mythology and unfolds in a unique story line. Numerous interpersonal tensions are examined, including those between a comparatively "modern" man and his superstitious wife, between the bewitched bear and the women who want to claim him as a mate, and between Rose and the neighbors she meets in each of her worlds. Pattou's writing pitches readers gracefully between myth and fantasy, inviting those unaccustomed to either genre to explore the frozen world of questing that she has so vividly created.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Charnel Ship

Okay, we're trying a video again. Here's my version of "Charnel Ship" which I just finished writing so I can review before programming. Oh, fyi, that's usually what I do. I try - now at least - to read over whatever stories I'm going to present. Doesn't mean I actually perform them just like that, but I do get a good sense of what to remember. Peace, Sheila. (p.s. My upload didn't work and my beautiful formatting of the story was lost as well. - any suggestions?)

The Charnel Ship
As told by Sheila Arnold

The waters of Virginia can sometimes be bitter cold and there are many reasons for that. While working at the tavern, I met men that come from all sorts of walks of life, and there was Jack, he was a sailing man, he actually worked on whaling ships. He would often come into the tavern on cold evens and he would tell the story, the story of Captain Webb. Captain Webb was a kindly captain, but he was a captain that was caught with a curiosity. He told of how Captain Webb loved to travel and visit and see new places. Although, he was the Captain of a whaling ship, he loved to go to places where others had not gone before. One day he decided to sail north and he sailed further north than he had sailed before. And he soon found himself, he and his men, surrounded by icebergs. Now I have never seen an iceberg, but I have heard they are as tall as a mountain and underneath the water, as long as the very whales they seek, and cold, a cold that would make the dead shiver. There was naught they could do but sit and wait. There was an old sailor, and there not be many of these, and he told stories about how the icebergs would surround a ship and crush it, crashing it in the water, making a watery grave for supplies and men together. Yeah, there was naught they could do except sit, wait…and pray. Jack was called to look out through the even, high above in the sails. Come morning, Captain Webb rose and his eyes were as red as if he had not slept a thousand years. And then Captain Webb heard Jack yell, “Open route, sir, open route for sea, sir.” Now Captain Webb called all hands on deck, the sails were raised and they made their way to the open route with great haste and they passed from the iceberg just as it closed. As the sailed to slightly warmer waters, the sun rose in the sky. When the sun rose straight above them, Captain Webb looked onto the horizon and thought he had seen a ship. But his eyes were bleary, and he called to Jack. “Do you see a ship, Jack?” “Yes, sir.” “Bring me the glass.” And Jack handed the Captain the spyglass and looking through the Captain did see a ship and it was in seemed in sore disrepair. He called for the ship to come close to the one on the horizon. As they came close they saw the ship was in great disrepair. The sails were tattered and in rags. The rigging was rusted and mildewed, torn and strewn about. The hull was worn and looked like it should have floated on the water. Then Captain Webb’s “cat ways” took the best of him and he called for Jack and some of the sailors to join him in the long boat, the very boat they use to chase and kill the whales, and they sailed to the other ship. They came abreast of the ship and Captain Webb stood and shouted the greeting, “Ahoy there.” There was no answer. “Ahoy there.” Again, nothing. “Ahoy there.” And they were greeted only with silence. Then Jack looked into the porthole and saw, “Sir, there’s someone sitting at a desk.” Captain Webb called for the longboat to come close and he, and the sailor climbed aboard. Then went below stairs and walked the corridor looking for the room of the porthole. When they found it, Captain Webb saw the main, he put out his hand to shake and…….. …he stopped. The man before him was covered with a dark, green mold. A slickness covered the mold dripping ever so lightly. The man’s was holding a pen and his hand was raised. His flesh hung in tatters off the arm. The men backed out of the room in fear, but the Captain could not resist but to read the man’s last words. There is no more food. There is no more warmth. The iceberg still hems us in. We have no…. And with the pen raised the hope of the man froze. “Captain, Captain”, yelled his sailors, and the Captain picked up the log book and went into the hall. The sailors stood in front of room. Captain Webb looked and there he saw a beautiful woman. A woman, sleeping. A woman, pale and at peace, looking as if she only wanted a man to ask for her hand to dance. And as the Captain bent over her to smile….he saw that the only dance she would ever have would be the dance of the dead. Then over in the corner, they saw a young man with flint and steel in hand. The young man looked as if he was striking for warmth, but…the…ice…stopped…him…. Captain and sailors, along with Jack backed out of the room, and as they did they saw appearing before them more and more bodies. All of the covered with the same green mold. All of them with the slick slime of puss. All of them with same scent of death. And then they heard it – grinding, crashing, moving – the iceberg. The Captain and the sailors ran above deck towards the long boat, and all climbed in, but Jack was last. And Jack said that he turned a moment, and when he did he looked under the gang plank and he could see…..the cabin boy. The cabin boy sat with knees to chin and arms around knees and Jack swore, yes, he swore, he could feel the cabin boy….shiver…in death! “Jack, come aboard.” And the grinding came again and they looked as the iceberg came closer and faster. Jack hopped into the longboat and they rowed quickly back to their ship, watching as the iceberg surrounded the one in disrepair. But the iceberg did not take the ship, surround it and crash it into the ocean….no, it seemed to surround the ship and hold onto it like was a treasure to be possessed. When the crew had returned to England’s shores, Captain Webb took the log book and searched for answers. And he found it. That ship has sailed some 15 years before into cold waters and had never been heard of again. And Jack would say, if you were near our waters and they were bitterly cold – if you looked toward the horizon you could see a ship – filled with the meat of flesh. And Jack would say, yes, he would even swear, that if you looked close enough you could even see the….shiver….of the cabin boy. Written September 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scary Tales

So tonight I will be doing Scary Tales at Crowne Plaza, Williamsburg, VA, 8:30 - 9:30 pm. This is a program done as a trade. Quick sidenote for business: Sometimes trade is good. You and whom you trade with get exposure from audiences you may not regularly meet. Meeting an new audience has great marketing potential. Trade also means saving money for both sides. Make sure your trade has a real market value. For instance, I am trading the cost of the meeting room for the cost of my performance. They actually get the better deal, however, keeping extra money in my pocket is great as well.

Telling Scary Stories is not my thing. I don't really like doing it and it doesn't feel comfortable to me. I get too carried away trying to make the "effect" of the story happen, rather than telling the story. This is actually a crazy thought, since I really don't like movies that focus more on the "effects" and "gore" than on the substance of the story, which, if done well, makes you think it "could" happen.

Tonight I'll be telling "Little Johnny Eight" (see Virginia Hamiliton's "And the People Could Fly"), "The Potato Story, or Voices in the Graveyard (see Zora Neale Hurston's "Mules and Men"), "Mr. Fox" (I have forgotten who wrote that, but I think it's Grimms) and "The Charnel Ship" (which I learned years ago at Colonial Williamsburg and although it was approved for telling, I still can't find documentation of it being told in the 18th-century.)

What are your favorite scary stories to tell? and to hear?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ol' Bess

Tonight I do another performance of "Ol' Bess Speaks at a Gathering" for a Worldstrides, Inc. student group. It is my most popular program for the incoming school groups and I love being Ol' Bess. She is still the most requested of all the Persons of the Past that I portry. But who is Ol' Bess and where did she come from?

In 1999, while working at Colonial Williamsburg, I was asked by Diane Elliott (oh, how I miss her) to be a part of a new program, "Dueling: Point of Honor." It was to be a program with three 20-minute sections, ending with a Duel at the end. I was to be section one to portray Ol' Bess (a fictional slave that worked at the Raleigh Tavern, where our program took place) who relates the documented tale of a couple of men who blustered about having a duel but their times were crossed so it never happened. I was excited about the role, but couldn't quite wrap my head around how to present it. Diane Elliott, a great Director, gave me specific instructions, while helped make Ol' Bess very real.

Well, I must have been good. People fell in love with Ol' Bess. Soon people began to stay after my presentation time and ask Ol' Bess questions about her family. "Do you have a husband?" Because I was in costume and character I couldn't say, "Hey, this is a made up person.", so I said, "Yes." Then "What's his name?" "Caesar." And so my husband was born. People seem satisfied. Later people asked if Ol' Bess had children. So I made up children. I was alredy using the name "Julius" as a son in another program, because that was the way I included my son. I had told him whenever I refer to "Julius" that is really you. So Ol'Bess had a Julius (who always ages at the same rate as my real son, Kriss) and other children. Then people began to come back to the Raleigh Tavern in the day and ask our Mr. Southall about Ol' Bess. Aw, comes the confusion!

That was when it became advantageous to learn about the real slaves that were in the Raleigh Tavern. So, Ol' Bess incorporated some of their lives into her stories. Once the program ended, I started using the Ol' Bess moniker in my Storytelling performances with "Legends."

When I started my own business, Ol' Bess came along with me, because the "Dueling" program had become defunk and because she had grown to be a part of me. I have learned far more about taverns, about the lives of slaves and indentured servants, and about the Revolutionary War since that time in 1999 and it all comes into play.

So where is Ol' Bess in life now? Well, she's about 50 years old (5 years older than my real age); married to Caesar, the gardener for Master Wythe; has 4 living children - Julius, 24 (who has run off to fight with Dunmore), Roma, 21 (who is married to Paul who is at Carter's Grove and watches Mistress Southall's children), Nera, 20 (who was most recently sold at the Raleigh Tavern auction to a man in Fredericksburg) and Mary, 10 - 14 (her age changes dependent on the the audience I have). Finally, I have the daughter who died, between Nera and Mary - her naem was Claudia and she lived 3 days and is buried on the floor of the Raleigh Tavern Kitchen (no, not for real).

So when you see Ol' Bess know that she is a wise woman, with great dignity, who has accepted her role as a slave as she is called, but is not enslaved in her mind. Peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Elaina's Birthday Dance - How it Came to Be

I received the evaluations from the Moonshell Storytelling Festival 2010. The feedback was very positive for my performances and I'm thrilled to see what worked, and deduce what I can improve on. Many people liked the story, "Elaina's Birthday Dance" and the way it was presented. Here are the comments:
Sheila's story of Elaina Dancing - Sheila's actions
Elana – Because Sheila incorporated music and dance
Dancing Elena – fun and poignant
Dancing Elena – very much part of life
Elaina’s birthday party – Shows mother’s love and girl’s dream
Elena – Sheila Arnold – Song and Dance and Story!!
Little girl who danced – because it was fun and had a lot of expression

This story is also on my CD, "Hands Wide Open", and I have surprised and delighted about how many adults have spoken so highly of this story, along with kids. I think the comment above, "shows mother's love and girl's dream" is a common thread I have heard from people.

This is an original story and I'd like to share how it came to be. I was performing in the public schools of Zuni, New Mexico. My contact person had planned an evening program for parents where I would speak about storytelling. She had a large cake, soft drinks, cookies, the works and only 2 parents and 5 kids came. I never worry about turnout because I truly believe that God has those come who need to be there, and my job is to serve and love them. The parents, contact person and I sat and I shared a story or two, but then we talked about how they could share stories with their kids. One of the parents asked me how she could make up a story for her child. I said, "well, you can start with her name. What's her name?" "Elaina." "What does she like to do?" "Dance." "Well, you could start with something about Elaina loving to dance and..." - And the Story JUST CAME! I gave that story to the Mom to share with her daughter, having noted that the daughter was entranced.

I didn't present that story for almost 2 years. Then as I was preparing stories to tell at Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, VA) "Tickle My Ear" Pre-School Storytelling Series, I realized I needed another story with the theme, and "Elaina's Birthday Dance" came to mind. I knew this was a longer story for the little ones, but I thought I'd give it a try. I was stunned to see the little ones, and their parents, completely entranced. The children didn't move. So, the story became a staple - with many changes, additions and deletions to make it a stronger story and presentation along the way.

Now, it's your turn. Take the name and description of a person, combine it with something they like (or maybe don't like) and see what fictional story you can come up with. I hope you'll share it with me, Peace and belief,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival 2010

Today is the Colonial Williamsburg Storytelling Festival. Actually it started last night with Dovie Thompson. She's amazing and so incredibly kind and sweet. Today we have an afternoon program which includes her, Donald Davis, Shel Browder (?) and Megan Hicks. Looking forward to meeting Megan. Then in the evening is Donald Davis - I think by himself - we'll see.

This morning the Williamsburg Storytelling Collaborative is having a Storytelling Concert at the Kimball Theatre. Myself, Sharon Rogers, Anthony Boucher and Gillian Dawson are performing. It should be fun. The money raised this morning will go to National Storytelling Network. This is a wonderful organization which has the focus to help preserve and disseminate the art of storytelling. Check out the website. Well, I have to go and press my caftan - yes, another one. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Marketing Opportunitites

Yesterday was a productive day - lots of work completed. I am realizing I will always have more work to do, particularly in the area of marketing. I have found a few more areas to check for programming possibilities: a) Performing Arts Centers at Universities/Colleges; b) Youth Education Programs at Museums and c)County Arts Councils and Societies.

As a self-employed person one of the most important things I can continue to do is market my services. I continue to talk and communicate with my regular Teacher Friends around the country. However, I do some "cold" calls as well. I send out a brochure or envelope of information and then follow-up that mailing with a phone call. Okay, let me be honest, that is a Mary Kay, Inc., technique. I will say again, as I have said often, the best Marketing class I ever had was my training as a Mary Kay Consultant. These marketing skills are still an active part of my life. Thanks, Mary Kay. The other place I find marketing opportunities is finding out where other performers and storytellers have gone; not so I can directly compete in that area, but it gives me ideas of similiar areas to approach. For instance, Pippa White (an amazing performer) has programs about nurses and has been able to access lots of Nursing Conferences. In reading that, I realized I needed to make more of a focus in talking with "African-American" and "Busines Women" organizations for my Character Presentations.

Finally, the other opportunity for Marketing that has been great, has been working with Virginia Storytelling Association (VASA). Being a member of an organization in my field gives me opportunities I didn't have before. Since joining VASA I have increased my Virginia performances because they list all their members and the website. I'm not certain that Linkedin and Facebook have helped, but I'm trying to utilize them more. I am a member of NSN, but that hasn't help me see an increase in programming, but does give me ideas through their very good "Storytelling Magazine" and provides a backing as a non-profit, if I want to access other funds. Bottom line, each group I join in my field, has potential to be very helpful.

That's the end of my Marketing Lesson today. :) Peace, Ms. Sheila

Friday, September 10, 2010

Omaha, NE

Good morning, Friends. Well, I arrived yesterday evening in Omaha, NE. I am staying in the home of Verne and Joan Haselwood - a delightful couple with a large family and even larger hearts of love. I could sit around and listen to their stories and share with them all day.

I will be performing this morning at Benson High School, presenting Zora Neale Hurston. This afternoon at Fontenelle Elementary School I'll be doing a General Storytelling Program. Looking forward to returning to Fontenelle, what a blessing to be asked back.

I brought 200 CD's with me to sell between today at the schools and at the Festival tomorrow. What I learned though is that the CD's are heavy, even if they are not jewel cases, so I need to make sure I try hard to ship them. Very excited to be here. Have a great day everyone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

History's Alive! Fourth Annual Edutainment Winner

Good morning, everyone. The Edutainment Drawing was yesterday and the winner was picked by Gloria, one of my bank tellers. :) No one else was around and they know all about my travels in and out of town. And the winner is (drum roll, please)....

St. John Neumann Academy, Blacksburg, VA.

St. John will be the first Virginia school chosen and the first private school. It will also be the first time I get to work with 6th - 8th graders. All great and good things. They wil receive 6 programs throughout the school year for students, faculty and parents. Basically, I become an "artist-in-residence" at no cost to them.

The one day program winner is - Federal Hill Elementary/Prepartory School, Baltimore, MD. They will get 2 one hour programs, plus an evening program for parents if they like, again completely for free.

Thanks to everyone who did participate in the Drawing. They will get the consolation prize of discounted price of programming if they'd like me to still come to their school. If you don't know this is my absolute passion and favorite thing during the school year. The relationships I get a chance to establish with students and teachers through the year I spend with a school are long-lasting and I watch God at work through them all the time. You will hear more about these schools in the future. And, hopefully, I figure out how to post pictures (since the video didn't work last week).

Tomorrow I leave for the Moonshell Storytelling Festival, Omaha, NE and am eagerly looking forward to that. Peace and much love, Sheila.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A New Month

Hello, Everyone. September has come and my month of relaxtion and rest is coming to a close, but it was nice. My e-mails came down to a workable number (under 100). I have confirmed programming for various dates in October, January, February and April. I am working on the boxes that are laying about my house - even finding books and tapes I'd forgotten I had. I've been getting through some of my computer search items regarding books, articles and general curiousities, as well as adding new videos to my queue on I'm working on my taxes - yes, late, but finally, getting done. I've been preparing for my upcoming programs. It's been good.

Today I perform at Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, VA) as part of the "Tickle My Ears" program - 4 years for me with the museum. I will do 2 storytelling programs for pre-schoolers, based on the theme "One Bowl for You, Two Bowls for Me." The focus is dishes. And, yes, it was a challenge to figure out what to tell. However, I put together some stories: "In a People House" by Theo LeSeig; "Teaching Mr. Wolf Manners" - an original story; some counting songs: "5 LIttle Monkeys" & "The Ants Come Marching one by one"; we are in the Indian/Islamic Gallery - so an Indian Story - I think I'm doing "The young Reader" (Margaret McDonald), but possibly "Ali Baba and the 39 theives", and finish with the child's point of view of the Grimms Tale, "The Old Man and the Bowl." We have singing, short stories, longer stories, books, a classic story - all should make for a great program (hopefully).

The CD is selling very slowly right now, in spite of the fact that I'm in the midst of a Back-to-School Sale. I've only sold 3 during this sale. Hopefully, when I go to next week's Moonshell Storytelling Festival (Omaha, NE), I will sell a lot more. I'm going to try and paste on a video of me telling "Teaching Mr. Wolf Manners" - done at home as a practice session. Here goes:Okay, it's supposedly uploading.

So we'll see. I'll end with the words that are so close to me at the moment, "Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee." That's what I want most in my life is to have my life be an imitation and an example of Christ's. Love you all. Take care.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The CD is Complete

Good morning, everyone. I hope you all are doing well on this Memorial Day and taking time to remember our troops. In a little bit I will do my annual "thank you for your service" call to my Dad, followed by one to my Mom - who served this country by faithfully supporting my father. Amen!

As most of you know my first Storytelling CD, "Hands Wide Open", is complete. I am thrilled to hear some of the comments. Let me share some with you.

Thank you very much for the CD. I received it last night and I've been listening to it and loving it! You are a truly talented person. - Kimberley McBryar, West Sunbury, PA (Teacher)
I LOVE the CD; got it last night in the mail and listened to it....Great Job! – Denise Creasman, Williamsburg, VA (Hospitality)
"Your new CD is marvelous! Listened to it the whole way home last night! Great to see you again." – Jane Crouse, Richmond, VA (Storyteller)

This is very exciting for me. Also, exciting is that last week I (along with my love, Lamont - ah, that's another story), sold over $630 worth of CD's after programming I did for Worldstrides and in various meetings I attended. Can I just say, "WOW" ?

I never knew how this experience was going to so move my life and how much God would be able to teach me through this process. I am learning to speak dreams as victories already given. Learning that setbacks and obstacles are only that way in my mind, and do not stop God's ability to do amazing things. Learning that prosperity is a wonderful thing, but doesn't mean more than a relationship with God - and keeping that focus will keep me humble. I will not be a DIVA (in spite of the fact that sometimes I want to be. ;)

Thanks to all who have purchased and listened. Thanks for the feedback. Oh, my favorite feedback was from a wonderful performer, a great friend, an awesome mother, and my assistant, LaQuita. She said the CD has been banned from her home, after her daughter answered her by mimicing Elaina's line, "But, Mom, I'm dancing." LOL. I'm thrilled to know that children and adults are enjoying it so much, that it's coming into their speech.

Makes me want to do another - ah, but that would be November 2010. Love ya.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Working at Home

Hello, Everyone. It's nice to be working at home, and I have so much to get done. I have sort of thrown my hands up in the air about getting a lot done because I still have so much travel left. However, when the last of May comes and I'm home almost all summer and certainly having my days available in summer - I can imagine my house turning into a place to live.

You all well know that the CD is recorded and has been mastered, and now re-mastered. We decided to add just a bit more space between the stories - so people could breathe and pause and enjoy, before the next story was to come. Neil Kesterson, the Sound Engineer, has been wonderful to work with on this project. I am astounded how he was able to e-mail the "Pauses" to me, which my parents and I delighted in. The sales of the CD continue to rise for pre-sale, but once the CD is in my hand, I expect that it will sell quite well. I can't wait to sell them for the Worldstrides groups. It will be such a pleasure.

I clinched (through God's direction) another new program to start in June. June, in spite of being easier and at home, will also have the challenge of being the time I have new programming beginning for Worldstrides and for Crowne Plaza. However, nothing like new developments to get the blood and mind continuing to flow. Take care everyone, sorry for just chatting today. Peace and remember "He is Risen."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recording Day!

Good morning, everyone. Yesterday was RECORDING DAY! And it was awesome. A special, special thank you to Don P. "Buck" Creacy (Georgetown, KY) for being an amazing producer before, during and after this recording. I had a blast. We recorded at Dynamix Productions in Lexington, KY (Neil Kesterman - he's the man!)

It was fun. Very low key, although very high quality. I was introduced to the little dog (maybe a pug of some sort), Miley, who kept a smile on my face as he interacted with us throughout the day. I was able to wear microphones and hear my own voice - and that was really exciting to me - because I could hear my voice telling the story and I enjoyed what I was hearing.

Buck, and Neil, were always kind and respectful when I needed to repeat something. There is something about a Southern Gentleman that just makes you feel like you are a Queen. It was fun to hear Neil laugh after a story or song was done - he seemed to enjoy what I was doing as well. And, Buck, still got choked up on "A Good Stick."

Here's the truth folks. Buck said in the beginning as we were prepping for this CD, "I hope through all of this that somehow I will help you to be an even better storyteller." He has done that. I think about my stories more intensely - not just the ones on the CD, but while on the road. I evaluate myself and the characters I present with more scrutiny - is the voice right? Is it clear? Is there a theme? Does the order make sense? I'm actually a better "thinking" storyteller. He has also helped me write a better story. I took his advice on every story, except "Simon and Susannah" - that story is so ingrained in me, that changing it even further is very difficult. His advice has taught me so much. Thank you so much, Buck.

Okay, so pass this on to friends to want (or need) to record their CD's. Buck Creacy, Aslan Productions,, He's a Storyteller-Producer - and you can't beat that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Day of Little Ones

Yesterday I was at my adopted school for the 2009-2010 school year - Roosevelt Elementary School, Sioux City, IA. I love coming here, as I have loved each of my past adopted schools. The fun of being a "artist-in-residence" for the year is the relationships I get to foster with students and teachers. Teachers are more at ease with me, students look forward to me coming and even the secretarial, custodial and cafeteria staff smile and accommadate on my arrival. It's a lot of fun.

My focus yesterday was a program for the Kindergarteners. A note had gone home with each Kindergartener inviting their parents to come, as well as their younger siblings. Also, each person who had already registered their child for Kindergarten for the next school year, was also invited. No, not many came, but we had a great time with all who were there. The goals were met: a) make the upcoming Kindergarteners feel welcome and excited about school; b) encourage literacy amongst the students and encourage the parents in this area; and, c) encourage exercise and eating well as a constant lifestyle. Plus, the Kindergarteners loved having me all to themselves. This time, they were the "big" kids and the program was just for them!

Earlier in the day, I visited other classrooms:
Bigbee (5th grade) - reviewed my travel schedule since Jan. 11 (identifying states on the map and discussing state abbreviations) & learned a way to remember the 13 colonies. 2 students - Patrick and Tyler F. - had read a poem by Eloise Greenfield, "Way down in the music" from the book, Honey, I love you!, and put it to music so they could share it with me. It was great!!
Moriarty (2nd grade) - focus was respecting others and not tattling. I told "Anansi and the Yam Hills" and we processed. Then they went into pairs and shared something nice about each other, and then pairs did the mirror game - learning to be the leader and the follower. Also, to understand that they were to take care of their classmates and respect them, because each one was/is special.
Faulk (1st grade, w/ a smattering of 2nd grade) - Told "Aunt Kat" and processed
Boettinger (2nd/3rd grade) - Reviewed story elements, and told "Uncle is Toad of Heaven" and then reviewed story elements and how to summarize from that story.
Lamareoux - focus was learning to read aloud with expression, but no too loud. We did emotions and how the emotions sounded in our voice, and then used a book to focus on how the emotions sound as we read. Then we made up a story using a picture - just for fun.
Vander Schaff (4th/5th grade) - We did the same as Ms. Bigbee's Class, however, we added "The Bumblebee Song." Loads of fun, because Ms. Carlson, the Principal, sang a couple of her childhood songs as well.

Great time had by all. Peace,

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Other Side of Virginia

So yesterday I was in another part of Virginia I was unfamiliar with - the Northern Neck area. There is lots of history in that part of Virginia. I placed the birthplace of George Washington and Stratford Hall is there. The highways are named after famous, and not so famous, people. And I enjoyed the wine. (Try Ingleside Winery - wonderful place!)

I felt like I was driving in Southwest Missouri - the little towns that kept cropping up. Names I was completely unfamiliar with - Kilmarnock, being one of them - but it was fun to learn about so much. I am always amazed about how diverse Virginia is. It may not be as large as California, but there is still so much to see and do and each area of Virginia has its own flavor. Virginia is definitely a great state.

I performed at Chesapeake Academy in Irvington, VA. They have an organization called PALS - Performing Arts (something, something). Also, the Wylie Foundation and Target provide grants for the programs they bring in. I was blessed yesterday to be doing "My Piano" storytelling program, because God made sure that I kept everything in the car that I needed, since I was running like the wind, and didn't even know until two days before, what program I was doing for them. Chesapeake Academy kindly invited other schools as well parents with children to come. It was a delight. And, I must say, one of the best sound systems I have ever used - and much needed.

Okay, the countdown continues - 4 days until recording!! God, to you be the glory! Amen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rapt 4th Graders

Wow, what a day yesterday! It was long and by the end I was more exhausted physically than I have been in many, many months, even a couple of years. I am presently in Jessup, MD (again I had to ask the front desk person - "where am I?" - LOL). Had time to share and vent and cry to God, and He used His word to help revive my soul. Amen.

Now, the 4th graders! What a great time I had at General Wayne Elementary School, Malvern, PA with the 4th graders. Every year I had gone before I was with the 5th graders and with my buddy, Barbara Masters (who I didn't get to see - Sorry!) The teacher asked me for the full two hours of my time with these students.

I presented Betsy Costner Historic Character Presentation (pre- and post-Civil War). It's one of the most powerful presentations I do. For 45 mins. the students traveled with me through the life of Betsy Costner. Then for 15 mins. we had Q&A. After that we did a little "Juba" just to move a bit, and then it was Q&A and giving facts about the War, about the life of the slave, etc. for the next 45 mins. One student even asked, "Where did the slaves come from?" Ahhh, my favorite lesson. So I had the chance to teach it - my way - and then review it. I'm so proud of those kids and they way they learned, and I love teaching that particular topic. It was great!!

So at 3 pm I say, "It's time to go" and there are groans from the students. I say, "Really, you have to go." And I get a standing ovation from some of the 4th graders. We spent so much time learning, learning, learning and they wanted more. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? I even gave the teachers a chance to ask questions and each of them did - what great examples. Had a great time, Amy. Hope to do it again.

Joy and Pain - don't they always seem to come at the same time? But God is the God of both!! Amen.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Coming Home

Yesterday I gave an African-American Storytelling Presentation at First Baptist Church Warrenton (Fauquier County), VA. It was a coming home of sorts for me. My father was raised in this county and so many people came out in support, not necessarily of me, but of the relationship that my parents have had with the community. I had lots of my Dad's side of the family there and it was a joy to see them. (Thanks, Whit and Betty, for coming all the way from North Carolina!)

It was an amazing experience to present in the church. African-American Baptist folk like to respond and interact and there was lots of that. I also had the joy to have an "out of body experience" as I watched myself tell a story (one I don't do often) and said to myself, "Wow! She's good." :) I really saw God at work - in choosing what stories to tell, in which order and how long to go!

Bottom line - I had a blast! And it was very, very well-received. Yesterday I believe I realized I will do well at Storytelling Festivals, with my reliance on God. I cannot thank Mabel Joynes and Cousin Virginia White enough for their belief in me, and how they treated me like a superstar.

I'm in Pennsylvania right now, in a place called Mountville (?), just stopped to sleep at the hotel before I head to Malvern. I leave today on a great high from yesterday, but also much humility - I must share the gift and it's not really mine. Amen!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Day in Hampton

Good morning. Well, yesterday I had the opportunity to perform in my home city, Hampton, VA. I get very few requests for performances in Hampton, and it saddens me. I am doing more in Hampton than I have ever done, but I wish I could do more.

I was thrilled to be at A.W. Bassette Elementary School yesterday and had a blast with the teachers and staff. They will also have a booth at the Hampton History Museum for the program on Mar. 6, where I will be at as well. It will be great to see them. If you are around time, come and see me for any of the four 1/2 hour programs - 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 2 pm.

On a CD note, I believe I have told the name of the CD - "Hands Wide Open." And I have attached what will possibly be the cover picture. Buck is going to California for a little bit to work, and we are working on the graphics. I have to finish some of this work - for an hour - each day. Needs to get done, so he can do the mockup of the CD. We are scheduled to start the recording on Mon., Mar. 13, 2010. Please keep myself and Buck (my producer) in prayer - as I believe we are about to hit some spiritual warfare regarding the CD. I have my armor from God on, and am ready for a battle, and need your prayers through this busy time. Let me know what I can pray for you. Peace.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Virginia Bound

Hello, everyone. I have spent this past week going up and down the roads of Virginia. I had a day off on Monday - and I remember very little of it, except working at the computer and trying to finish my schedule for the days I'd be in Virginia.

All my programs were through Young Audiences of Virginia. On Tuesday I had three programs - Portsmouth, Virginia Beach (for College students at TCC) and in Warsaw, VA at Rappahannock Community College. I ended the night by driving to Franklin, VA,where I was performing on Wednesday at S.P. Morton Elementary - wonderful time there - thanks Bonnie and Frank, especially. Then I spent Wednesday afternoon driving up to Northern Virginia. I missed most of the traffic by driving Route 1 and that was pleasant. I stayed with my Aunt Marion and Uncle Selby - thank you both, and met my little cousin - Maciah. (I may be spelling that wrong. :(

Then on Thursday I was at Rose Hill Elementary School, which was the school my cousins attended when they were young. It was good. I also recognized that the only home that is still in the family from the time I was young, is the home of this Aunt and Uncle. It was wonderful to visit, but also bittersweet seeing how time had moved each of us up and away and we only had one "homestead" left. I will treasure this time.

I left that afternoon - again with the joy of Metro traffic - to get home and performed yesterday at Strawbridge Elementary in Virginia Beach. Had a wonderful time with the students and staff, and other visitors who kept stopping by. :) If you haven't heard of Young Audiences, then google them and see them across the country providing affordable programming for students. It's a non-profit organization and if you'd like to contribute to them, they would love it!! Glad for a day off and still have much work today.

Thought for the day: When we ask God to know us - do we really mean it? Peace,

Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Wallop

Hello, Everyone. It has been a long time since I have written. I have been busy on the road since Jan. 13. Now here it is Jan. 29 and I am ensconced warmly in the Rice household in Tulsa, OK, watching out of the breakfast nook window as the "Winter Wallop" (consisting of ice, sleet and snow) takes place in front of my eyes.

Yesterday I had my 5th performance at Jenks East Intermediate. The day before I conducted my first Professional Development at the school. Both went great. However, yesterday was a particular high for me because of the connection made with some of the special needs students. Last year I had learned through some inadvertent events that when I met special needs students before the program they were able to be a part of my program longer, be participatory and I had the mindset to include them more, purposefully. So, I had requested this to happen yesterday. It was marvelous! I met the students and their paraprofessionals. We learned courtesies, introduced ourselves, talked about clothing and then sat up front.

I watched how God led me to think and include these students throughout the program. I usually call one student forward to help me with an activity and I called one young man, who is nonverbal. This activity usually requires the verbal, but I led the verbal part and held the item. (Great smile on his face.) During the Q&A portion of the program - OH, I was doing my Ol' Bess HIstoric Character Presentation - 2 of the students also asked questions. Afterwards, one student came to me and informed me that I did not answer the question she was asking and we talked again and I listened better, and I answered the right question. :) Also, another student had a picture with me and signed to me "thank you." I will tell you, I fairly floated throughout the day. It was my learning moment - how can I make sure all students are included, and encourage them, and make their experience as they participate positive for themselves and for other students. I will add this to my "talk" (which I haven't developed yet) about presenting to students (for professionals).

Also, had an opportunity to present in Christa Rice's classroom (amazing teacher, who works with amazing teachers - thank you all at JEI), while a parent was present. The parent, part of the PTAG, was so engaged she actively asked her own questions!! It was fun to teach to students again as well.

Thanks again, JEI, for a great day. Oh, I spent time sharing my pictures with Christa and Syd Rice last night and think I might have a title for CD - "Hands Wide Open" (Hands Wide Open: Written-from-the-Heart Stories of Ms. Sheila). I'm still working on it. Love ya'll.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year! 2010

Hello, Everyone. Happy New Year. I had a wonderful holiday season and am thrilled to see another year and, as the old folks would say, "I'm still in my right mind. :)

I had a great time yesterday in Williamsburg. First, I told stories at Mauna Community Church, a Korean Methodist Church, in Williamsburg. I had friends, Young and Claudia Kim, who I had not intersected with for almost 3 years, invite me to their new church. When I arrived I saw Lydia, their daughter, and their nephew, Samuel. It was great to see them again. I told 3 stories: "Toad is Called Uncle", Vietnamese folktale; "Anansi and the Quail", African folktale; and, a 21st century version of "The Good Samaritan" (Biblical parable). The stories were well-received by the kids (and the parents who stayed).

What was neat to see how each of the folktales had a biblical lesson or insight as well. In "Toad" I was able to compare THE king of heaven (God) to the story's "king of heaven" - God cares about us and we never have to worry about him not wanting to hear our requests and it doesn't take so long to talk to him - all opposites of the story's "king of heaven." And the kids got that point. In "Anansi" we talked about controlling our anger, how to deal with people when we are angry, and learning to love people even when they are working hard to trick you. I also shared with the kids about my mission trips to Vietnam and Malawi. (In prayer to go back to Malawi this July.)

Then I met with Darci and we reveiwed items for this weekend, and she told her story. It's interesting that as I'm learning from my Producer (Thanks, Buck) about my stories, he is right that I hear others' stories so differently. I know Darci will do great and I can see the differences in the way I hear and give feedback with stories. Well, the day needs to continue. Have a great week everyone. Peace and belief,