I'll be the first to say, I couldn't be objective about this book if I tried. Dr. G and I knew Braden and his family when we were at BYU in the mid-90s. We had his two oldest kids in our nursery class at church. This was when we wanted our own babies and couldn't have them, and D and S were kind of our special favorites. We committed all their funny little sayings to memory, and I can still picture their earnest and funny little toddler and preschool faces. I understand from Braden's family blog that as big teenagers they don't particularly like to be blogged about, so I won't relate their amusing pasts, I guess.
Anyway, when we first knew Braden, he was sick. Dr. G was one of the home teachers who helped bring the sacrament to him each week when he was bedridden. We participated with church members, friends and family in the massive fast that helped turn his illness around. A couple of very special times I have shared what I know of his story in lessons about fasting or miracles at church and felt the Spirit witness what an absolute miracle it is that he went on, after that debilitating battle, to complete a graduate degree, excel in a career he loves, and serve as a bishop (similar in some ways to a pastor or priest in other faiths).
So when Braden writes about pain and sadness, I know he's not imagining. When he writes about healing and miracles, it comes from a real place.
But I've read fiction by other dear friends before, friends whose experiences I know something of and with whom I sympathize. I don't always like their work, even when I like them a lot.
Braden's book, I liked. His writing doesn't call attention to itself, a quality I love. Instead of being show-offish, it's a vehicle for story. The characters felt natural and honest. Every one of them, I thought, seemed to have a little bit of the author's heart in him or her. (And maybe a little bit of me, too.) The experiences were forthrightly told, nothing hidden, nothing shied away from. There's humor that appeals to someone like me who was brought up to be a little bit of a snob when it comes to the arts, and there's sincerity that reminds me it's much more important to be a disciple of Christ.
The story brings together the members of a diverse congregation who have a range of spiritual problems: Depression, pride, illness, addiction, even just feeling like an outsider. The book presents all its characters unvarnished and yet all lovable. And the balm for every wound - in this book as in life - is the Atonement of Christ.
Wholeheartedly recommended. Thanks for your work, Braden.
Monday, July 19, 2010
As of last Thursday, we have a new six-year-old in the house. With new river gear (goggles, inner tube and fishing pole) and a special quilt from Grandma, he was spoiled in the morning.
That night he played his first ever soccer game. (I am his coach. Yeah, scary.) We lost 2-0 but K played with gusto. I think he will have fun with this.
The following evening we had a party at the local pizza/arcade/blow your money type place. It actually turns out to be a good deal and very easy to do. So grateful our wonderful new Montana friends came out to wish K a happy birthday! He had an awesome time!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The National Folk Festival enjoyed its third year in Butte. I was a volunteer for Friday and Saturday nights, taking around a big bucket and asking people for money. Never thought of myself as a fundraiser but it turns out I am not too shabby at "The Ask." Helped that I got to listen to some amazing zydeco from Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie while I bopped around saying, "Would you like to help support the festival tonight?"
We took the kids back the next day to dance to this band. Because I really wanted to, and it was hard to dance with the big red bucket in hand!
I also got to hear some bluegrass and honky tonk, but honestly Geno is my new hero.
You can check him out on Amazon. Yes, indeedy.