Monthly Archives: May 2013

* NO SUCH WORD AS CAN’T by Lois W. Stern

It’s easy to recognize dramatic acts of heroism, acts of great courage and selflessness. But what about the unsung heroes amongst us – the ones who think of themselves as absolutely ordinary while quietly living their lives with worthy acts of purpose. Enter Gerald and Sharon Bricker, for it is through them that their daughter Jennifer Bricker has reached unfathomable heights.

In 1987, Gerald and Sharon Bricker adopted their baby daughter Jennifer. Although they already had three biological sons, Sharon yearned for a daughter, a little girl she could dress in pink ruffles with trailing ribbons and bows. They adopted Jen, sight unseen, when she was 3 months old. She was a tiny baby, only 13 ½ inches long, but to Gerald and Sharon she was perfect.

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Jen as a baby

Luck shone down on this infant from the moment she entered the Bricker household. She felt the unconditional love of her parents and three older brothers, all with solid values that helped her grow into the remarkable person she is today. As a young woman reflecting back on her childhood, Jen says with admiration:

They are amazing and they don’t even realize it, they are just good people. I don’t know how, but they always managed to handle each situation exactly the right way.

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Jen with her parents, Mr. an Mrs. Bricker and friend Dave

From early on the Brickers told Jen that there was no such word as “can’t.” Instead they taught her how to go after the things she really wanted. With their guidance, Jen’s indomitable spirit and confidence soared. She vigorously dove into sports, meeting each challenge head on with confidence and the expectation of success. More often than not, she realized her dreams. Jen led a happy, rewarding life, playing softball, basketball and volleyball. But her passion was gymnastics. When she was 10, she won fourth place in the Amateur Athletic Union’s Junior Olympics in Hampton, Va., and was Illinois state power tumbling champion in her division.

Jen grew up idolizing popular gymnast Dominique Moceanu. It wasn’t just that the two girls shared a common Romanian heritage. They shared the same good looks: dark hair, sparkling eyes. ready smiles. Jen felt a magnetic attraction to Dominique, becoming her biggest fan. At fifteen years of age, Dominique was catapulted into the limelight as the youngest member of the “Magnificent Seven”, the U.S. gymnastics team that won gold at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. As she stood in line to receive her gold, the name Moceanu rang a distant bell. The Brickers quietly reopened the adoption papers they had signed years earlier. What it had taken them nine years to realize was that Dominique wasn’t just Jen’s idol — she was also her biological sister.

This story continues in Tales2Inspire™ ~

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The Emerald Collection

* THE GIFT OF FAMILY by Donna Surface

When I was introduced to Pat Surface he was sitting down. Then he stood up to shake my hand, and it seemed like he just kept going . . . up. I am only 5′ tall and at nearly 6’8″ Pat’s stature, and his story, both really impressed me.

Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’

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Pat and his beloved guitar

 Pat’s future didn’t look very promising in 1957. He was abandoned as a newborn infant and brought to an orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota. Little Pat was placed in a series of foster homes, where, he later learned, he was treated pretty badly. After the last family brought him back to the orphanage, he was completely traumatized. As a result, he ‘acted out’ in ways that made him, well, less than ‘adoptable.’

But in every happy ending story there is a turning point, and in this story it started with a phone call from the orphanage to Lillian and A.J. Surface, a couple who had already adopted two children from their agency. ”Would they consider adopting one child more?” Well, they honestly couldn’t afford a third child, so this was not an easy decision for them. But an inner voice whispered to them and, fortunately for Pat, they listened. Pat says he was ‘rescued’ instead of adopted when he was brought to Grand Rapids, MN to live with his new family. He thinks of his adoption date as the day he was born.

A surprise for Pat’s parents – he grew tall. Very tall. They struggled to keep him in clothing that fit. Pat didn’t stop growing until he reached nearly 6’8″, a natural basketball star in the making. Actually he did become a college all-star, a MVP of the largest amateur basketball team in the country, a member of a semi-pro exhibition team, and eventually a college basketball coach. But he yearned for more.

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Pat, center, with his sister, Linda and brother, Jim

Pat grew up with his brother, Jim, of Korean and Hispanic heritage, and his Native American sister, Linda. The gift of being included in this blended family fueled his appreciation of diversity. It never occurred to him to view anyone as ‘different.’

Another gift from his family was his love of music. His mom was born a LaPlant, a family with a strong musical heritage. Her mother, Bessie LaPlant, was related to William Boyd, known as Hopalong Cassidy, The Singing Cowboy. She passed her musical legacy on to her eleven children. Years later, Pat wrote the song, “Belle of the Ball”, to honor her.

The LaPlants have been fiddle champions for decades, best known for their gospel and bluegrass music. They are also well-recognized for their instrument building skills with LaPlant crafted instruments, described by The Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “exquisite guitars and flawless mandolins of national note”. Pat remembers the day he received his first LaPlant guitar – he was 19, it was Christmas, and the gift changed his life. To this day, Pat plays the guitars hand-built by his eighty-two year old Uncle Lloyd LaPlant – the master builder whose amazing guitars and mandolins are used by famous bluegrass performers even today.

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Uncle Lloyd, Pat, his mom, and Uncle String

Music was calling Pat, and in 1987 it became his full-time commitment.

This story continues in the Tales2Inspire™  

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Emerald Collection

COVER IDEAS FOR THE TALES2INSPIRE EMERALD COLLECTION

 

 

 

 

I have asked Sean Somics, the terrific fellow who designed the T2I logo, if he would work with me on the cover. Below you can find three prototypes that we are working from and if you have an artistic eye, would appreciate your input.

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SAMPLE A WHAT I WANT TO KEEP: THE SHADES OF GREEN ON THIS SAMPLE

MY CONCERN: DOES  THE WHITE BOX AROUND THE EMERALD LOOKS TOO MUCH LIKE THE DESIGN TAKEN FROM A TEMPLATE? YOUR THOUGHTS?

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SAMPLE B – WHAT I LIKE: THE GREEN CURVED LINES CONTINUING DOWN THE COVER.

WHAT I WANT CHANGED:  THE GREENS NEED TO BE SHARPER AS IN SAMPLE A.  I DO NOT LIKE THE INTRODUCTION OF THE COLOR PURPLE TO THE TITLE AND MY NAME.

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SAMPLE CWHAT I LIKE: AGAIN, I LIKE THE GREEN CURVED LINES CONTINUING DOWN THE COVER

I ALSO LIKE THE BOLD BLACK COLOR USED FOR THE TITLE AND AM INCLINED TO ASK SEAN TO USE IT FOR THE “BEYOND COINCIDENCE ” and “CREATED BY . . . ” PARTS AS WELL WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WHAT I WANT CHANGED: NEED THE GREENS TO BE SHARPER AS IN SAMPLE A. I DO LIKE

WHAT I’M ALSO CONSIDERING:  ASKING FOR A LIGHT HALO AROUND THE EMERALD LOGO TO BREAK ALL THE GREEN.

ANY OTHER IDEAS? PLEASE SEND THEM TO ME AT: tales2inspire@optimum.net OR POST THEM IN A COMMENT BOX ON THIS BLOG. TO AVOID CONFUSION, PLEASE REFER TO EACH COVER YOU DISCUSS BY LETTER (SAMPLE A, B OR C)

MANY THANK

LOIS

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