My favorite readers

 I am sure you have all been waiting all month for my write-up about
my two favorite reader. Please don’t feel chided, 
you could be my favorite too if you would just comment 
on almost every single post I write, no matter how bad.

I believe Holly beat Sheila by one in June’s contest,
but I decided that I should write about Sheila too.


If you want to make a new online friendship with someone who will always give you comment love, head on over to see Sheila. She is the greatest friend I have ever made online.



Holly has been my friend since the 80’s. She is the kind of person that you could sit and talk to for hours. Not only is she sweet, she is so wise. 


I asked both ladies the same questions for this write-up. I thought you would like to see their similarities and differences. I rediscovered that I have friends from all backgrounds, but the one thing I seem to esteem the highest in people is their ability to love others. Both Holly and Sheila, have that ability. I aspire to make my heart as big as each of these two. They are such beautiful people with an amazing ability to love. That’s what they share in common and I am the lucky recipient of their friendships. They also both happen to have a pretty great hubby. Wow, I think I have a lot in common with them too.


Anyhow, I promised a post about them so enough about me.
It’s my honor to tell you more about two of my favorite people.

What is your favorite book of all time and why? 
Sheila – First is this really a fair question… of ALL time? I will just pick the first one that came to my mind. Go Toward the Light by Chris Oyler. I remember reading this book in one night… staying up all night… I had 4 young kids and I paid for it the next day. I love that this book reinforces my belief that ‘families are forever’. As a Mother I can only imagine the pain anyone would experience after losing a child. I was especially touched by helping that child go toward the light.

Holly – I am so NOT an all time kind of person. My favorite book changes from year to year, depending, most likely on the stages of my life and the challenges I am facing. That being said, here are a couple that have stood the test of time. For non-fiction, The Book of Mormon and The Bible are in a tie for first. I am sure this is very cliché to most, but, these books ground me– they remind me of what really matters most, and what will truly make me happy in life.

As for fiction, my ALL TIME favorite is Pride and Prejudice. Yes, nearly every girl I know loves the movie, but it is the book that makes me weak in the knees. I admit that part of me is a bit in AWE of Jane Austen. I have such a desire to write, and write well, and she seems to pull it off flawlessly. But, the main reason I love it is because it is such an amazing character study on how people are quick to judge, and how quick judgement is usually DEAD WRONG. It is in coming to know a person more intimately that we see them for who they truly are.

My latest favorite fiction work is currently Sotah by Naomi Ragen. I read it a couple of years ago, but whenever someone asks for a good book to read, it is usually this book that is the first off the tip of my tongue. It is set in Jewish culture—which I admit to having a bit of a fascination with—and is a story of a girl who struggles to deal with the challenges that life brings. I don’t think I have ever read a book with such a beautiful story of the power of forgiveness, mercy, and love.

Of course, if you need something light that will make you laugh and keep you engaged during a six hour car ride (which I have had way too many of lately), my audible pick is The Actor and The Housewife by Shannon Hale. It must be listened to–the reader MAKES the book come alive. She is a fabulous storyteller. Six hours have never gone by so quickly!

(Alice—sorry that is so long. Never, ever get me started on the topic of books. It is one of my favorite topics:)


What is your favorite storybook character of all time and why? 
Sheila – Pinocchio. I like to collect the messages inside fortune cookies… and one of my all time favorites is: A Half Truth is a Whole Lie. I believe in telling the truth… I would want others to tell me the truth. I love that Geppetto would easily know if Pinocchio was in fact telling the truth. If only real life was that transparent.
Holly – Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. She is everything I want to be—strong, brave, able to stand up to the pressures around her, and someone who sees through appearances and into the heart. Yup, Belle is my girl!!


If you could only leave your children with one life lesson that you have learned so far, what would it be? 
Sheila – The Golden Rule… always treat others the way you want to be treated.
Holly – We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves. When we spend our energy loving others and praying for them, they will either have the desire to change for the better, or we will have learned to love them so very much, that those weaknesses that we thought were so HORRIBLE don’t really bother us anymore.


What has been your hardest trial in life and what has it taught you? 
Sheila – I would say it has been losing my Mother. I didn’t have to lose my Mother to realize that no matter how you get… you always need your Mother. But knowing that I can’t run to her with all of the things I would like, wanting to, have made that truth more evident in my life.

Holly – The hardest trial in my life was the day that I sat across from the doctors who told me that my 2 ½ year old (and only) son would never talk and would likely never be able to have any kind of a normal life. They recommended that I begin to search for adult group homes and put his name on a waiting list.


I bawled for about two days. And then a small voice said to me, “Holly, they are doctors. They only know how to fix things with medicine and surgery. Who knows more about your child, them or God? Have a bit more faith.” And from that day, I learned to change my prayers from “God, please cure my child” to “God, please help me know how to help my child rise to the measure of his creation.” Miracles have happened along the way. The biggest one being that my heart has learned how to love in bigger, stronger ways than I could have ever thought possible.


If you could pick 5 words to describe yourself what would they be?

Sheila – Friendly. Kind. Understanding. Considerate. Tolerant.
Holly – Happy, Devoted, Faithful, Magnanimous (Those four are from my husband, but I won’t repeat the fifth), so I’ll add Contemplative


If you could have one week and a disposable amount of money, what would you do?  
Sheila- Take a cross country Amtrak train trip.

Holly – I have always wanted to tour Europe, in a leisurely fashion. I long to see Paris, Rome, London, Greece, Switzerland, Norway, Madrid (a longer stop in Spain, of course, since I can speak the language), and just because I would be close, a jaunt over to Israel would be fabulous!

What are your simple pleasures in life?

Sheila –   I love watching a sunrise or sunset.  I enjoy spending time with my family.  Taking the time to look at old photos.

Holly – Hugs and kisses from Jericho and the girls
Homemade, right out of the oven, soft and gooey chocolate chip cookies
Early morning bike rides with the cool breeze blowing in my face (not a cold breeze, mind you. . . )
Curling up with a warm cup of herbal tea, and a soft blanket after the kids are asleep, and reading a good book
Snuggling up with my husband in bed as he tells me stories of hospital life
Laughing with friends

What are three moments in life that took your breathe away?
Sheila – Marrying my sweetheart.  The joy of giving birth to my children. Watching my children’s successes.
Holly – 1. The first time my husband told me he loved me. He had just come home from his mission, and we were at the airport. I was headed on a walkway that lead toward my car, and he was headed down the escalator with his family to get his bags, and he turned around and saw me and mouthed the words “I love you”. (of course, he doesn’t remember this at all . . . )


2. I remember playing in a concert at BYU—I was a flautist—and we were playing a piece by Wagner. I can’t remember which piece it was—I am known for my complete lack of memory—but suddenly, the notes ceased to be just notes, and the emotion and beauty of the music swept around me and through me, and it was all I could do to not just BAWL right there in the middle of the concert from the beauty of it all. This has happened to me a few times while performing. I can’t force the feeling to come back again, but I ACHE for it.

3. I suppose this isn’t really the kind of “breath away” you are talking about, but I will never forget the night that I received a phone call from the NICU about my newborn daughter, Capri. She was born with numerous complications (see http://casosfamily.blogspot.com/2007/11/tuesday-tell-all-seasons-of-giving.html ), and was on the most powerful ventilator possible to help her breathe. The phone rang, and Steve answered it. The hospital
had called to tell us that Capri was not breathing well, and may not make it through the night. Needless to say, I could barely breathe. All I could do was pray—I had just come home from the hospital that day, and was very sore from the emergency C-section, and extraordinarily exhausted from the stress of the situation. We woke up the next morning, having received no more phone calls. She had survived the night. And has survived every night since. What a blessing!

What are the things you have taught your kids that you are proud of? 

Sheila –  When asked for anything… don’t ask questions… just give it to them. All of my children are extremely thoughtful and aware of persons with less than they… or homeless.
Holly – I believe that I have managed to instill in them a love of music, and a love of God. I hope that I have taught them to be women of action, instead of inaction (whining, and pouting).


What is something that your kids have inherited from you that you wish you take back? 
Sheila – My temper.
Holly – I think I have unfortunately managed to pass along my inability to stay focused on a task for more than five minutes, and my incurable sweet tooth. . .


What is your favorite healthy meal? 
Sheila – Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and corn.
Holly – I simply adore salad. One of my favorites is BBQ chicken spinach salad—Spinach, shredded BBQ chicken, crumbled blue corn chips, fresh corn, black beans, chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes and cilantro, with some Marie’s Ranch Dressing on top. Mmmmm. . .

What do you love about the most about each season of the year? 
Sheila – Winter:  brisk mornings Spring: budding leavesSummer: air conditioning Fall: knowing the summer is ending
Holly – Each Spring, I thrill at the sight of daffodils and tulips popping out in brilliant hues of yellow and red. Such a feast of color after a season of grey. There is NOTHING better in the summer than the beach—the smell, the sound, the feel of waves crashing over me and sand squishing between my toes. Of course, I usually make it to the beach about once every 6 years, or so. . . Fall brings smells of apple cider and a feast of color for the eyes. There is nothing more beautiful than fall in Kentucky. Colors EVERYWHERE in such vibrant hues of yellow and red and orange. Winter means that Christmas is coming. My house comes alive at Christmas time—full of magic and love. A feast for the heart!

What is your favorite scripture?
Sheila – Doctrine and Covenants82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.
Holly – This question made me laugh because every time we read scriptures together as a family, we will come across a scripture, and I will tell the girls, “This is one of my favorite scriptures” and they LAUGH, because, I mean really, how many favorite scriptures can one mom have?!

But, one (of many) which I have always loved is Proverbs 3:5-6
5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
 6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
There have been many, many times that I have had to trust the Lord, and let him lead me. I have never
regretted the paths that he has taken me on, even if they have not been easy. I have grown stronger as
I have learned that He will not fail me.

What is your greatest personal experience with the phrase love one another? 
Sheila – I was blessed by driving my friend Lena to dialysis over and over in the last couple of years of her life.

Holly – I remember once when I was in charge of overseeing the organization of monthly meetings for the women of our church. There was another woman who was assigned to work with me, and a conflict arose. Within a few days many feelings had been hurt, and I wanted to crawl in a hole and just run away from the world and from the drama(I do not do conflict well). Around 11pm one night, I had the strongest impression that I needed to go over to her home. I really DID NOT want to do this. It was late, I was tired, and I had NO IDEA what I was going to do when I got there. But, I could not shake this impression. So, off I went. When I arrived, she was still up, and we went into a room to talk. As soon as I entered the room, the impression came to me that I needed to ask her to pray with me. Having no idea what ELSE I was supposed to do, I did exactly that. We knelt down (as far away from each other as we could, as I recall), and I began praying. And as I prayed, I felt the strongest love for this woman, who was one of God’s children, and whom he loved. My heart nearly burst with love for this woman, which thing I could have never conceived of even five minutes earlier. And all of a sudden, nothing else really mattered. The things that seemed so burdensome and irritating suddenly seemed of little importance compared to the love that filled the room. After the prayer was over, all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her I loved her. And so I did. And all was well again.


My 2 cents
How can anyone not love these ladies? I wonder if you found similarities with them too? Proverbs 3:5-6 is my favorite scripture. I love watching the sunrise and sunset. And I also share many more of their favorites.

I love you both Holly and Sheila. Thanks for being my most loyal commenters and two of my most favorite people. Now, when should we all get together for lunch so we can laugh for a good hour or three?

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6 comments

  1. I loved reading about Holly and Sheila — you have so many interesting and inspiring friends Alice.

    Great questions asked and some great answers given. Enjoyed getting to know you a bit ladies! 🙂

  2. Sheila! You rock! And Oh, how I wish that I could answer questions a bit more succinctly. I am the QUEEN of longwindedness!! (A trait I may never overcome in this lifetime. . . )

  3. what a gift you have given these ladies and your other friends. These women are remarkable, inspiring, and must be smart (since they are your friend)!! Thank you for sharing.

  4. what a gift you have given these ladies and your other friends. These women are remarkable, inspiring, and must be smart (since they are your friend)!! Thank you for sharing.

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