Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Iron Rod

After descending 444 steps into the depths of the earth to see the beauty of Minetonka Cave in Idaho, we had the wonderful experience of finding out what Lehi experienced in his dream of the Iron Rod in The Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi.
Our tour guide was a recently returned missionary and we went on the first tour of the day with young women and their leaders from Kaysville, UT. Jessica asked us if we would like to have the Iron Rod tour since we were all Latter-day Saints. Everyone agreed. She explained that she would turn off the lights and then stand at the back at the bridge with her flashlight shining like the Tree of Life for us to see. It will be very dark. Then gave us these simple instructions:

No talking.
Hold to the railing and don't let go. It is the Iron Rod.
Move toward the light.

When the lights were off, everything was pitch black. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face and didn't know where it was until it touched my nose. At first, I thought this is pretty cool. I held my arm out so that I could feel my daughter in front of me. But as we continued to move forward, not being able to see where we were going, it was kind of scary--especially when I no longer felt my daughter in front of me when I held out my arm. That was when I put both hands on the railing "Iron Rod" and held on tighter--slowly moving forward. The path was slippery because of the moisture inside the cave and I couldn't afford to fall. The railing was damp and very cold so a couple of times I had to stop and wipe off one hand while I held on with the other. Suddenly the chorus of the hymn we sing in church flooded my mind.

"Hold to the rod, the iron rod. 'Tis strong and straight and true.
The iron rod is the word of God. 'Twill safely guide us through"

As I got closer to where Jessica stood, I could see the glow of her flashlight through the darkness. I felt relief and at the same time accomplishment. What an wonderful feeling to know that if we hold to the rod - God's word, read and follow the counsel given in the scriptures and from our prophet, keep our covenants and live as the Savior would, we can reach the Tree of Life.

Can you imagine the joy that will abound? I know the story I've read is true and I have a testimony of it, but before now I couldn't quite grasp the reality of it. Now I know with certainty that Lehi's dream was given to him to help us stay safe as we journey through this life and the reward that will be ours if we hold to the iron rod us eternal life. God has given us all the tools we need to be successful and return to live with Him. He loves us more than anything! We are His children.

When I reached the place where the railing ended in the cave, my youngest son and youngest daughter were there waiting for me and when I turned around my husband, middle son and my nephew were close behind me. What an incredible feeling to have them there with me! At the same time, however, I longed to have my oldest daughter, my oldest son and his family there as well. They were unable to attend due to work and living out of the country.

The Iron Rod

  1. 1. To Nephi, seer of olden time,
    A vision came from God,
    Wherein the holy word sublime
    Was shown an iron rod.
    Hold to the rod, the iron rod;
    'Tis strong, and bright, and true.
    The iron rod is the word of God;
    'Twill safely guide us through.
  2. While on our journey here below,
    Beneath temptation's pow'r,
    Through mists of darkness we must go,
    In peril ev'ry hour.
  3. And when temptation's pow'r is nigh,
    Our pathway clouded o'er,
    Upon the rod we can rely,
    And heaven's aid implore.
  4. And, hand o'er hand, the rod along,
    Through each succeeding day,
    With earnest prayer and hopeful song,
    We'll still pursue our way.
  5. Afar we see the golden rest
    To which the rod will guide,
    Where, with the angels bright and blest,
    Forever we'll abide.
    Text: Joseph L. Townsend, 1849-1942
    Music: William Clayson, 1840-1887

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Small and Simple Things

I was asked to write a guest post in conjunction with JoLyn Brown's announcement of the A Circle of Sisters winner!

Small and Simple Things by Sharee Wanner

As I thought about what I could write my mind was flooded with all of the little things that have meant so much to me over the years. Sometimes the small and simple things are overlooked but I am reminded of the story of the Widow's Mite in the new testament. It seemed insignificant compared to the offerings of some but she gave all she had. I know the times I was given tiny handfuls of dandelions, my heart was filled with love. Take a few minutes everyday to enjoy the small and simple things in your life.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sir Princess Petra's Talent by Diane Mae Robinson

Sir Princess Petra's Talent is written with brilliant imagination intertwined with wonderful humor! Diane masterfully involves readers as they go exploring the road of adventure with Princess Petra as she travels to Talent School. Along the way she meets new friends, earns a certificate for her talent and then returns home to share her new talent with the entire kingdom. Young and old alike are sure to enjoy every word.

Diane's blog
To purchase Sir Princess Petra's Talent

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Becoming Free by Christy Monson~Author Interview

Becoming Free
I see you have another book coming out for electronic book format. How is writing for eBook different from a regular "paper" book?

Writing an eBook is the same as writing a paper book. In fact, I didn't know that Becoming Free would be an eBook at first. But I'm excited for the new experience. I'm looking forward to promoting it.
What gave you the idea for this women's self-help book?

My clients were the ones who inspired me to write Becoming Free. I learned so much from them and was so impressed by their hard work in therapy, I wanted to share their stories and their healing process with everyone.
How do you envision women use this book?
Understanding the concepts in this book can benefit all of us. The discussion on motivation and work ethic (First Section) is something I think we all need to review often. The chapters on understanding of self and communication (Second and Third Sections) are skills everyone uses daily. I love the last part (Fourth Section) on healing techniques. It a compilation of the most effective concepts and procedures I have gathered together over the years--methods that will lead us all to live a life full of peace and positive energy.

You can read the book straight through, but it's really designed to create change by being used slowly over time to alter your habits and establish positive thinking skills. Enjoy! Happy Reading!

Here is the link to purchase from Amazon
Here is the link to purchase from Barnes and Noble

Monday, September 9, 2013

Christy Monson ~ Please join me in an interview with the author.

Love, Hugs and Hope

How did you meet Lori? How did your collaboration work?

Lori Nawyn did the art and I wrote the script for this picture book, Love Hugs and Hope, and we are both very happy about it. However, we didn't start out to work together. Lori and I knew each other from a couple of SCBWI Conferences. We had formed a picture book critique group that met each month so we were friends. But it was the publisher that teamed us up. Lori is a darling, and I love her art. We never collaborated on the book at all. I turned in the manuscript and Lori and the publishers did the rest.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing about 7 years and loving every minute of it.

Do you have children? If so, did you draw on your own experience as a mother in writing this book?

My experience as a mom has really helped me in writing this book. Children just need to talk things out a lot of times. They want love and reassurance.

You're a retired family counselor. How did your training and/or years of practice help you with this book?

I kind of had a sense about how to process with kids from being a mom, but my training as a therapist really gave me the knowledge I needed to help children heal. In my practice I saw a lot of kids that were dealing with tragedy of some kind or another. Talk therapy is good for kids, but art is a wonderful way for them to release feelings.

How long did this book take to create?

It took me about a week to write the first draft of this manuscript. I felt so sad for those who had experienced loss in the school shooting at Sandy Hook. Shortly after that a gunman shot up the Clackamas Towne Center in Oregon. Our daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters live about three miles from the center. The parents monitored the events carefully, but turned off all media to protect the kids from knowing about it. However, the next day at school the children were all talking about it, so you can't protect children from knowing about tragedies like this.
As I thought about these two catastrophes, I felt something needed to be written to help parents and children look at disasters like these, be able to share their feelings, and find hope in the world around them.

Do you have other book ideas along the lines of children's self-help/picture books?

I love writing picture books. I have many other book ideas I'm thinking about, but right now I'm focused on a series about children's feelings.

How did you find a publisher for the book?

I am so fortunate to have found my publisher, Christopher Robbins, and Familius. At LDS Storymakers Boot Camp, Rick Walton was conducting our picture book section. He began talking about Familius and what a great new company it was. When he found out I was a retired therapist, he suggested I contact Familius, and I'm so happy I did.

eBook available at Amazon

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Love Hugs and Hope by Christy Monson & Lori Nawyn

There are scary things that happen to all of us-young and old. I love the way that Lori's illustrations bring added insight to Christy's words. When we express our feelings with words and art, it helps us learn to deal with the hard times we go through. By focusing on the love, hugs and hope we can feel peace that we can be happy again. 

Join me tomorrow for an interview with the author - Christy Monson!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Published on Mormon Mommy Blogs

Exciting news! My article To Be? Or Not To Be? That Is The Question was published on Mormon Mommy Blogs August 20, 2013. Read it here

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Right Words

Oh, No!
It's a Girl!
It's a Boy!
That's creepy....
I got the job!
We regret to inform you...

Some words are wonderful, stirring and meaningful to hear. Others are terrible, sad, and scary. We use different words throughout the day to describe what we are feeling, tasks that need to be accomplished, small and large personal triumphs, frustrations, and communicating with family, friends and co-workers. They can be used to describe our character, our skills and our talents. We speak them, write them, read them, listen to them on the radio and CD, and we occasionally misuse them. None of us are perfect, but there are words that are better left unsaid, unwritten and unread and unheard.

“Put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
~Colossians 3:8

“And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking.” ~Doctrine and Covenants 20:54
Let us choose carefully the words we use. You never know who may be listening. The words we think, say, hear, listen to, write and read can have an impact on our future choices and the people we interact with.
William Edward Norris said:

“If your lips can keep from slips,
Five things observe with care:
To whom you speak; of whom you speak;
And how, and when, and where."
"How forcible are right words." ~Job 6:25

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Awakening - The Dragon Valley by Nadja Spath

Book Review 
Awakening—The Dragon Valley by Nadja Spath

The Awakening is full of adventure, magic, elves, dragons, visions, time travel and a hero/heroine combination that you’d never expect! Kathy and Aaronn didn't plan on running into each other at the Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention. In fact, they’d met only one time before and she knew that he definitely didn't remember her. Becoming separated from her friends she wandered around the booths. One of them in particular sparked her interest. The banner above said that there was an artifact on display. As she made her way through the crowd, she heard a man describing an artifact made of an unknown piece of bone. Looking up to see what he was talking about, she was surprised to see Aaronn.  He was listening to the man and holding the artifact.  Then Aaronn noticed Kathy standing there looking at him. When she realized he was looking at her she tried to back up. The man behind her pushed her forward and into Aaronn. Touching the artifact with her outstretched arms was the least of her worries as they were suddenly transported to another place in time—another world. Danger, supernatural abilities, and finding out they were brought to this strange place to save it were not things they had anticipated. All they wanted to do was find a way back home. When that didn't happen they decided to immerse themselves in their quest. Fighting evil, deception, help from unexpected allies, and finding out who they could trust kept me engaged as a reader. I loved it!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

John Wayne and the Pledge of Allegiance - presented by William J. Elling...

I am thankful for all the people throughout the history of America that made it possible for me to have the freedoms that I have today. But most I am thankful to God for all of the blessings that I enjoy because I am free to choose.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Developing Trust in Our Children Is Essential

Here is the my most recent blog published by

Developing Trust in Our Children Is Essential 

Submitted by Sharee Wanner on 10 Jun,2013
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Why do we have such a difficult time allowing children to do what they have agreed to do? We second guess them and create in our mind scenarios of what if this happens or what if so and so says or does this. Because we don’t want them to get hurt or have a difficult situation arise; we make the decision to take matters into our own hands. That decision can come from pressure of family and close friends or our own mind being too creative with ‘what if’ scenarios and thinking of all the things that can go wrong.
Instead we need to turn those negative ‘what if’ scenarios to positive ones. We need to think of all the things that can go right and have faith the desired result will actually be the outcome. By having a positive ‘what if’ in our mind, even when the outcome is not always as we’ve hoped, we can develop trust in their abilities and empower our children as they go through the reasoning process of making choices on their own.
If we continually make decisions for them, they will lose out on all of the opportunities to make mistakes and by so doing, figure out they’ve done so and how to fix those mistakes. We will also deprive them of all the triumphs of making the right choice and building confidence in their reasoning abilities.
Children are very intelligent, they get good grades in school, they have good friends, they have desires to serve others and they are hard workers. As parents we need to let them continue on that path and build a higher level of trust. It’s not easy however, to take this step as our children reach adulthood. By letting go, we can strengthen the relationships that we have with them. They will know that we believe in them and trust them to do what they’ve agree to do.
We can find joy together in their accomplishments and offer support as they make mistakes and learn how to fix them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Set Fire to the Rain concert with Alex Boye and Maggie Nawyn at the Christensen Academy of Music in Brigham City

This article was in the Box Elder News Journal Wednesday June 19, 2013 about my friend and an amazing young woman, Maggie Nawyn. I had the opportunity to be a part of the video she made with Alex Boye and will be performing at the concert tomorrow night - June 22, 2013 at the Christensen Academy in Brigham City.

Set Fire to the Rain video

Calling in a favor

Singer Alex Boye is performing for a Christensen Academy of Music and Dancing fundraiser because of the efforts of Maggie Nawyn, a 13-year-old classical pianist and founder of the Silver Slipper Symphony.
Four years ago, at age nine, Maggie listened to her older sister play the piano and “thought it sounded kind of cool” and that she wanted to “make that kind of noise.” The talent came quite naturally to her and she excelled quickly. Consequently, her mother decided it would be a good idea to have their piano tuned.
The piano tuner heard Maggie play Phantom of the Opera, which she had taught herself, and suggested that she try out for a program taught by Gary Amano, a classical piano instructor at Utah State University.
After she had played only a few bars of her audition piece, Amano stopped her. Feeling dejected and knowing she had just “blown it,” she prepared to leave when Amano congratulated her and welcomed her into his program.
When Maggie was eleven, she went with her mother Lori Nawyn, an author for Covenant Books, to Salt Lake City on a promotional book tour. A true 11-year-old, Maggie quickly got bored, and Mary Nichols from CBS News offered to walk her around the studio.
On their walk, they ran into Alex Boye. He and Maggie talked at length about her interests and ambitions in music and dance. She had a picture taken with him and, as they parted, he said, “If there is ever anything I can ever do for you, let me know.”
Maggie wanted to be part of a symphonic orchestra and finding there were no opportunities for her, she decided to form her own. Largely by word of mouth and simply asking people if they wanted to join, she founded The Silver Slipper Symphony which she named after the Silver Slipper Ballroom. The 1930’s Bluebird Ballroom (where Maggie’s great-great grandparents met) became the Silver Slipper Ballroom which later became the Academy of Music and Dancing in downtown Brigham City.
Because there has been no venue specific for artistic performances within the community, Maggie became actively involved in fundraising for the Academy. She envisions the restored building as the perfect place to showcase music and dance and enhance cultural experiences for the community.
When the Silver Slipper Symphony was preparing for its first concert, she realized they needed an MC. Maggie thought of Alex Boye and his offer. He was contacted and agreed. Boye didn’t remember his visit with eleven-year-old Maggie until she showed him the picture. She said, “The next time you tell an eleven-year-old, ‘if there’s ever anything I can ever do for you,’ you might want to rethink that question.”
Maggie and Boye have become fast friends and he is very supportive of her musical efforts. As part of her involvement with the Academy, she wanted to make a music video and ran the idea by Boye. She got an email from him on April 30 that told her to get ready . . . they would shoot the video the next week.
Miracles do happen according to Maggie. She was able to pull a choir together over a weekend to perform with the orchestra. Choir and orchestra got the music two days in advance. The result is an incredibly moving and reflective “Set Fire to the Rain” which can be viewed on YouTube.
She hopes the video will raise awareness of the Academy. “The Utah art’s industry doesn’t know about the Academy. Even the community doesn’t know about this historical building.”
Maggie will continue to study at USU, while completing high school. She doesn’t think she will need to go out of state to pursue her musical training because many of her instructors are world-renowned and have been educated in places like Julliard. She can get the benefit of their experience without having to be so far from home.
Maggie says, “People look at me and think I’m crazy. But not enough people are willing to do something different and follow their dreams. I’m not special or different from other people, I was just willing to take the step.”
Taking control of your destiny and creating a reality from your dreams knows no age restrictions. A truth that is exemplified by classical pianist and Silver Slipper Symphony founder Maggie Nawyn.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Circle of Sisters

I was also very excited to meet JoLyn Brown in person! (She is the author who has compiled visiting teaching stories from various authors ~ including one of mine ~ in a book titled A Circle of Sisters). I came into the Grand Ballroom at the Provo Marriott after I checked in with the conference people and sat down with a couple of ladies I didn't know. I introduced myself and we chatted for a few minutes and exchanged business cards. I saw a friend from my children's book group come in, so I excused myself and went to visit with her for a few minutes. While I was talking to Robyn, I met Sharee. They invited me to come sit with them. I went back to get my things from the other table and saw a new face. Simultaneously we spoke. I saw that her name badge said JoLyn Brown and she'd seen my name on my business card. I said, "JoLyn! I was going to look for you today and here you are at the first table I sat at." She said she sat down with the two women at this table because they are in her book group and recognized my name as A Circle of Sisters author. We talked for a few minutes and then said that she'd chosen the cover and asked if I wanted to see it. Here it is!

She is featuring various authors that have stories in the book on her blog and asked me to write a guest blog! But wait, there is more good news:
I just found out that A Circle of Sisters is now on Goodreads and Walnut Springs is giving away three copies of the book. Go here to get all the details.

LDS Storymakers Conference

What an enlightening adventure! I am so glad that I was able to attend this year's conference - the Saturday session anyway. I learned from some of the best about how to develop and hone my skills as an author:
"Bait and Hook" by Josi S. Kilpack
"Getting Inside the Head of a Middle Grade Kid" by Peggy Eddleman
"Making Your Fantasy Writing Fantastic" by Julie Wright
"The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow: It's High Time" by Alyssa Henkin
"To Be or Not To Be - Reasons for Using a Pen Name" by Janette Rallison
"Story Turns" by John Brown
You know that you've learned the right stuff when you find yourself thinking as you watch a movie with your kids and think there's a 'story turn'. Then you realize you've said it out loud and they laugh and say what?
Thanks to all of the authors who took the time to present and help fill my head with the knowledge I need to make my delusions of grandeur a reality. And to the new friends I made...Sharee C. especially. It's not very often that you meet someone who has your same name in spelling and pronunciation. Everyone I've ever met that spells their name the same as I do pronounces it Sherry. And she used to work with my sister-in-law. What a small world!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Article published in the Box Elder News Journal

Wednesday, January 23, 2013                                                                                                             Pg.18
 State’s new teacher evaluation system promising but time consuming
By Sharee Wanner
Staff writer

According to Box Elder School District officials, the new Utah State Office of Education’s educa­tor and administrator evaluation system being tested in the district has potential, but some changes would need to be made for it to be truly effective.
District Superintendent Ron Wolff said the new evaluation sys­tem “will make a difference if the program is implemented correctly and with fidelity,” however, while the new system provides bet­ter feedback for teachers and ad­ministrators, and will help imple­ment goals to improve education throughout all of Utah’s schools, it takes a significant amount of time.
“I believe that we’ll need to take a ‘wait and see’ approach regard­ing the value in relationship to ef­fort, while working hard to provide the USOE with the input they need to make adjustments,” Wolff said, adding, “It is much better than what we’re currently using.”
Assistant Superintendent Terry Jackson said it is premature to say what the effects will be long term for the teachers, but for the ad­ministrators it’s a lot of work so far.
Given the in-depth and labor-intensive nature of the new pro­gram, it has the potential to be nearly another full-time job for school principals. New teachers must receive full evaluations for the first three years of their em­ployments, and teachers with four or more years need to have partial evaluations every other year. Eval­uations are done by the adminis­tration personally. They document each observation—which means extra time to fill out the necessary paperwork and input data gath­ered on each teacher.
For teachers, the new pro­gram is divided into ten standards: learner development, learning dif­ferences, learning environments, content knowledge, assessment, instructional planning, instruc­tional strategies, reflection and continuous growth, leadership and collaboration, and profession­al and ethical behavior.
On the administrative level, there are six dispositions or stan­dards: visionary leadership, teach­ing and learning, management for learning, community collabora­tion, ethical leadership and sys­tem leadership.
The new evaluation system is one part of a three-part system to hold teachers and administrators accountable for the education stu­dent’s receive. The evaluation will affect not only salaries, but could hold implications for their em­ployment as well.
The district will also start pi­loting the second aspect of the evaluation program this spring. The second elements are surveys given to students and parents re­garding educator effectiveness. A third element, a new system to judge student progress, will be de­veloped and implemented before the spring of 2015. The process for evaluating student progress is es­sential to the total package, Wolff said.
Box Elder School District is one of six districts in the state to be a part of the new Utah Education­al Leadership Standards and the Utah Effective Teaching Standards program. Within the district, all but four schools have volunteered to be part of the two year pilot pro­gram that will evaluate and assess teacher and administrator perfor­mance.
Those involved will provide the state with input of what’s working and what’s not so the program can be more effective.
The state will then make chang­es based on the input. Some of them are simple, such as format­ting changes in the rubric. Content won’t be changed as much as edit­ing details and bugs in the system. The input received by the state is being reviewed and evaluated, and may be adjusted by the individual school as time progresses.
Box Elder Middle School Prin­cipal Jason Sparks said most of the problems he’s seen with the pro­gram are editing issues. Others are issues with the computer pro­gram. He said the program itself is fairly user friendly. He can use his iPad to take notes on the teacher as he observes and with the touch of an icon, he can refer back to the standards, and even load evalua­tions to state servers from the tab­let.
“The extra work of learning the new system is worth the effort, however,” Sparks said. “It gives teacher’s concrete expectations. Their current level of teaching is assessed and they have higher lev­els to aspire to.” Not every teacher will be expected to be at the high­est level at first. They will continue to learn.
As the program is developed within the district, the teachers will become more familiar with what it entails. There are just a few that have been selected for this first year of the program.
Evaluations take place twice each school year; November through December and January through February. During each period, administrators observe the teachers in formal and infor­mal visits to their classrooms. The evaluation standards are uniform. Because of the impact an evalua­tion has on the salary and employ­ment of each individual; accurate documentation is of utmost im­portance.
Superintendent Wolff said the evaluations have two primary pur­poses, the first, and most impor­tant, is to identify areas where edu­cators can grow and then monitor their development. The second is to place each educator into one of four categories that could impact his/her continued employment, as well as potential increases in pay.
There is also self-assessment that is taken by each teacher and administrator. Combined with the administrative evaluation, the self-assessment determines whether or not they will get a raise and if their employment will continue.
The evaluation process pro­vides opportunities for individu­als to assess where they are, look at what they’re doing well and set goals to help them improve.
Jackson said, “Look at it as an opportunity for growth and pro­fessional development, not a hoop to check off.”
Superintendent Wolff, Jackson and MaryKay Kirkland are working with administrators and teachers throughout Box Elder School Dis­trict to implement the new state requirements by the 2014-2015 school year

Miss Wilton's Waltz By Josi S. Kilpack ~ Book Review

Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack Josi's ability to bring stories to life is magic! I was drawn into Miss Wilton...