Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Words of One Man CAN Make a Difference

A few years ago, I had the privilege of attending a stake Relief Society gathering where the guest speaker was Janice Kapp Perry and her husband Douglas. The theme of the day was to surround yourself with the good things in life. Children. Joy. Love. Friends. And of course, music. After both Janice and Douglas spoke about their lives and shared humorous and spiritually uplifting stories about their family and relationship, there was a musical medley performance of Janice's most popular songs and then we were dismissed for the luncheon.

While Janice was having her picture taken with the presidency and anyone else who wanted to take advantage of the photo op, Douglas stood back and watched. He had a glint in his eye and a smile on his face as he watched his loving wife and her many fans swarm around her. I just happened to be standing near him and asked him if he ever got tired of being Mr. Janice Kapp Perry. He laughed and said that he didn't. That seeing her achieve her dream of being a song writer was more fulfilling to him than anything else in the world.

Then he turned his attention on me. At first I felt uncomfortable, fidgeting with my napkin and paper plate and acting way too shy for my own good. But after only a few seconds, he put me at ease with his mere presence. And then he asked me if I liked music. I told him yes, that I played the guitar and even liked to write a song now and then, but wasn't very good at it. I also told him that the problem I had was that I love to do so many things, that I had a hard time concentrating on doing just one thing really well. I couldn't seem to choose what single talent defined me or what thing I could do better than all the rest.

He thought for a moment and then said something that has changed my life. He told me I should choose one thing, give it everything I could for one year. Eat it. Drink it. Breathe it in everyday and make it part of my life. Learn everything about it and if after doing that, if I'm not in love, then leave it behind and move on to another one.

I couldn't imagine devoting an entire year to just one thing, but I took his advice and began to take my writing seriously. A few days later at a Relief Society board meeting, the sisters were asked to share one thing about themselves that no one knew. I said I liked to write.

Afterwards, a new sister in the ward, Angie Schultz, came up to me and said she and some other women had started an online magazine called Segullah and she invited me to send in some of my work. I was so excited, I went home that night and looked it up online. It was there that I found out about the LDStorymakers Conference and the rest is pretty much history. I was hooked. It didn't take me a year to figure out I was in love. I still play the guitar occasionally, scrapbook, crochet, paint, draw and do so many other things, but writing is my passion. Writing is what defines me as a person, a woman and as a daughter of God.

I've since thought about writing Brother Perry and thanking him for his great advice, but as yet, have not done so. That one man's words can affect a person's life in such a way is unbelievable. Someday soon, I will write that letter or email and let him know how grateful I am for him taking a few minutes to care about what mattered to me. In the meantime, I'm off to write the next best seller. Thanks for letting me share my story. Has anyone inspired you like this. I'd love to hear about it.


  1. I have an old college roomate who did the same for me. I let her read the 1st draft of my first novel. I felt very insecure and it showed in how I spoke of it. She told me to knock it off, stop looking at it that way. She said it was good enough to be published and I should try. I'm on my 4th draft now and when I find a publisher, I'm dedicating the book to her. :)
    Michelle Teacress

  2. What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing! And what awesome advice too! I love your posts.


  3. That's a great story!

    Does anyone know if there is a biography of Janice Kapp Perry? I would like to read it. If there isn't one, I'd like to write it. She definitely has a calling to write simple, beautiful, inspiring music for the church.

  4. This is a beautiful story Chris. Thanks so much for sharing it with us! We might never know where our words have taken someone. Guess that's why we should always choose them carefully, right?

  5. That's funny. I had a similar experience with Bro. Perry at a similar event.

  6. I am not sure if it is the case for many writers, that they find themselves interested in many of the arts. I love to writer, sing, act, decorate, and play music. Brother Perry's words have much wisdom for those of us who are uncertain which talents to develop.

    Christine, I am glad that focused on your writing and that you love it so much. You have a gift with words.

  7. Thanks for all your wonderful comments everyone. I hope you don't think I gave up my other talents. I just hopped around so much it was impossible to make one stand out more than the rest and be really good at it. I still do all the other things, just not as often as I used to and writing is my passion.

    And....WELCOME!!! Amber. Glad to have you on board.

  8. Awesome story! I'm going on my third year of taking my writing seriously and I can say that I'm still in love. What awesome advice.

  9. That's sooo true for me too. I sometimes feel I'm a jack of all trades but master of none!! I think his advice is so true. I have spent almost two years focused on writing now, and though sometimes it's more of a love-hate relationship, I could never put it behind me and move on. Thanks for sharing his sweet advice!



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