Careful The Things You Say….. Children Will Listen

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the story by Elizabeth Thompson Ballard, called Three Letters From Teddy.  I’m always touched every time I hear or read it.

In a nut shell…. it’s a story about a teacher , Miss Thompson, who at first isn’t very fond of Teddy because he does’t seem to be a good student.  She then learns about his home life and that his Mother had passed away a few years ago.  She starts to take interest in Teddy by showing concern, etc.  Teddy school work begins to turn around and as Teddy grows, he continues to write to Miss Thompson over the years about his progress.  Of course, he goes on to become more than he ever thought he could  and gives Miss Thompson so much of the credit.  If you don’t know the story, google it or watch this wonderful video link.  (But be sure to come back to finish reading my blog!)

The other night, I heard a real life ‘Teddy’ story.  I’ve heard it before.  This ‘Teddy’ has been a friend of my husband and I for a long time.  For some reason the story struck me a little more than usual.  Perhaps it’s because I’m more aware of things and how they affect me…. how I can be grateful for them.  I hope you don’t mind if I summarize my friend Ernie’s story and share my thoughts.

Ernie grew up being told he was stupid and dumb, not very bright.  He was a shy kid.  Standing up in front of people was something you wouldn’t catch him doing.  One day he was sitting on some steps at Dixie College, feeling lonely, when Roene DiFiore, music teacher and director of Dixie College Program Bureau,  came by and said: “You look like you could use a friend.  Why don’t you come with me.”  Which he did.  And his life was never the same because of the influence of this wonderful woman.  I payed tribute to Roene back in August.  Check my archives to read about her.  She was amazing.

Because Roenen loved and encouraged Ernie…. he became one of the best performers that Roene ever had in Program Bureau.  In fact…. he still represents that group more often than anyone else.  He loves to be onstage, but particularly loves to encourage young people to develop their talents.  Talents they may not know they have.  Roene not only instilled in him a feeling of self worth, but a love for the arts.

Ernie has just purchased a large estate home in St.George that he is planning on turning into the Roene B. DiFiore Center for the Arts.  That may not be the exact name they settle on… but the point is… he is trying to provide a place where young people can be encouraged to develop their talents.  I have a suspicion that he will be very interested in the shy ones.  I think you might call it ‘Paying it Forward’.

The point I want to make here, between Ernie’s story and the story of Teddy is, children listen to the things we say…. good and bad!  In both of these stories, these young men were made to feel like they weren’t very bright or wouldn’t amount to much.  That came from people being careless about what was said to them or even how they were treated.  Luckily, in both cases, someone came along who took interest in them, made them feel good about themselves and was instrumental in helping them become more than they ever thought they could be.

Ernie Doose

I’m grateful for Ernie’s example.  I’m grateful Mrs. DiFiore took him under her wing and helped him to become what he is today.  I’m grateful that Ernie has a desire to pass what he learned on.  I’m grateful for teachers like Miss Thompson in the story of Teddy.  And there are many out there.

But there are many others who use the name calling and labels which have a detrimental effect on people.  Very often we don’t really know all the circumstances behind what makes a person act the way they do.  It’s important to not be judgmental toward them.  How many times have people mis-judged you?  I know it’s happened to me.

Be the person who encourages people…. all people…. but particularly the young!  It can have such an impact on them!  As the song from the Stephen Sondeim musical,  Into the Woods says:  “Careful the things you say, Children will Listen!”  Let them listen to words of encouragement and love!

I am Grateful!  How are You?



This post reminded me of this old movie “Cipher in the Snow”.  It’s not just adults that can have an effect on kids…. but fellow students too!




Dixie Days

Do you have memories of good times and friends from long ago?  Most of us probably do.  High School friends, college friends or even friends from any group of people that you were around a lot.

I have great friends from High School and College that still mean the world to me.  So does my husband.  However…. because of the circumstances…. I’ve had the opportunity over the years to get to know his friends from Dixie College really well.  They were a part of a group at Dixie known as Program Bureau which was directed by Roene DiFore.  I blogged about Roene a while back.  She was an amazing lady and brought together students from the college by giving them a class where they learned standard and fun songs with many of the lyrics changed to fit the Dixie Spirit.  Actually….. Program Bureau really became the Dixie Spirit!

These classes traveled around a little to perform for others.  Through those travels and also just getting to be good friends in class… they all became very close to each other.  Close enough that they wanted to maintain contact with each other.  Part of the success in that was Roene always inviting former students back every Spring and Fall during D-week and Homecoming to come to what she called ‘Midnight PB’ and sing all the old songs they sang when they were there.  It was a good excuse to get together a few times a year.

However, this group of friends has made an effort to meet together a little more often when they can.  We’ve spent New Year’s Eve with several of them that live in the Salt Lake area several times.  They are a fun group and I really enjoy being with them.  They’ve always made me feel a part of them, even though I never attended Dixie.

This weekend….  Dixie was celebrating their 100 year Anniversary.  So there were a few more activities and more effort made by many to come participate in them.  Luckily… we were on our way back from Phoenix and it fit right to stop for another day and ‘meet with the old gang’.

Though we didn’t attend everything…. we were able to attend the activities that were important to us, including last night at the BBQ at the Alumni house with the friends from the years John was there.  We had a great time.   Many had brought some old pictures they’d taken while they were in college.  Unfortunately…..  John never took any….. so it was fun to see the pictures others had taken.  And there were many with him in it.  It was fun to see him in those shots.  I didn’t meet John till several years after he attended Dixie…. so it was fun to see how cute he was!  (And still is of course!)  No wonder all the girls had a crush on him!

Then, this afternoon, we had another get together with many of those same people by having a luncheon at the home of Rick and Sheri Nielson’s home.  Rick and Sheri were at Dixie with the rest of the gang, and they opened up their beautiful home over in the Green Springs area to us for the luncheon.  Again…. we had a great time.  Got to hear Lou, Sue and Sharon sing and recorded my husband singing “Long Tall Texan/ Short Fat Utahn”  that he used to sing with PB.   We also played a little trivia by asking questions about things that happened during those Dixie days to see who knew the answers.  They were a crazy bunch back then…. did some pretty crazy things.  You’d think they must have been young back then or something!

I’m so grateful that John had the experiences he had in college and made such marvelous friends and that we can get together often and have such fun.  I love these great people!  It makes me wish that I made more of an effort to get together with some of my old college friends!

Though we’ll miss the activities this evening…… including Midnight PB…(which starts at 9pm now!)….  I’m thankful for Dixie celebrations that bring us all together and I’m grateful to his friends for making me feel like such a big part of them!  Love those Dixie Days!

I am Grateful!  How are you?