In a series of interviews, many of the authors reflect on their lives and offer ideas in dealing with grief.
My first guest is Brenda F. Stoehr who is not only my best friend, but my sister. Brenda has served the Lord many years in churches with her musical talents as Minister of Music, Choir Director, and as a professional singer and musician in Gospel groups. She is also the Owner and Founder, and an Instructor at her place of employment, The Academy of Fine Arts.
Examiner: Brenda, you've enjoyed a career of music, how did you get your start as an author?
Brenda: It all started when I started playing for weddings at different churches. Some of them I played and sang, but most of them I played the organ and piano. After I had played for quite a few weddings, I would come home and tell my mom and dad the funny things that happened during the wedding and reception. Of course each incident was both unexpected and sometimes embarrassing. It seemed like each wedding had its own funny moments.
Examiner: How did you get the idea for the title, Wacky Weddings?
Brenda: My dad liked the funny memories so much that he suggested that I write a book and title it, Wacky Weddings. I mentioned that this was his idea in the book.
Examiner: Do you have a favorite moment from the book?
Brenda: As I recollect the stories, each episode has its own unique humor which brings back special memories to me. I have a few favorites I use for examples when I'm discussing the book, such as the one that mentions the mother of the Groom who didn't agree with her son's choice for a wife.
Examiner: You are a co-author for the anthology, Loving Hearts Live Forever. You knew many of the ones mentioned in the book. What words of comfort would you give our readers who have lost a loved one?
Brenda: Many times we think we have to say words of comfort by saying, "I know how you feel, I lost my best friend too." What the grieving person really needs is a squeeze of the hand, an arm around the shoulder and a hug. That makes the person feel like you care about their time of need instead of minimizing their feelings of grief by talking about your own. The non-verbal touch speaks volumes.
Examiner: Besides books, you have also written other pieces, including plays, skits and songs. Can you tell us about the songs you wrote and a little background on your music career?
Brenda: In high school, there was one teacher, Ron Bowers who inspired me to move forward in my music education. I studied music at the Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. When I returned to Maryland, I started working in private schools in the classroom, as well as music and theater. Through the years, I was Minister of Music in several churches.
At one of my places of employment where I was Minister of Music for a church, I would cross over the Frances Scott Key Bridge in the morning and evening. Usually, going home I would see the most beautiful sunsets from the top of the bridge. One of the evenings, the sunset was breath-taking and inspired me to write a song. Another time my dad told me to "finish a song I had started titled, America, the Land I Love." My mom and dad were both in the Army and at age seventy, my dad said, "Right now if they needed me to go to the front lines of the war with a truck load of ammunition, I would be right there." What dedication! That gave me the determination to finish the song.
Examiner: You are the Founder, Director and an Instructor for the Academy of Fine Arts. In the Spring of 2011, your academy will celebrate its twentieth year anniversary. Can you share a little of your experiences through the years?
Brenda: It was very unique that the Academy of Fine Arts included music, art, dance and drama at one location. This enabled the families to have more than one child or family member engaged in their choice of the arts at the same time. We also offer instruction in modeling and we specialize in pageants. The Academy taught ages three through senior adult, individual and group sessions. (Beginners through Advanced)
It was always a joy at each recital to see the accomplishments and productivity of each student. I like to encourage confidence and help them to enhance their talents.
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