Monday, 29 May 2023

Broken Heart, Moodiness and Self-reflection

I'm finally sitting at my kitchen table with my computer open in front of me again. It's been a strange four months of abstinence when it comes to writing and not at all what I intended after sending my twentieth book, in seven and one-half years, to be published in January of 2023. That series (The Trouble With Strangers, The Hearts of Strangers and The Truth About Strangers) had forced me to open thirty year-old wounds and reexamine a very painful and debilitating part of my past. While the storyline was fiction, the trauma, self-doubt and hope that life could become better was very real because it was based on my own marriage of emotional and mental abuse that caused my body to start shutting down and the doctor to tell me that I would be dead in six months if I didn't do something to relieve some of the stress. That wasn't easy when the source of that undermining anxiety was coming from the very person who has vowed to be there to love, protect and support me.

Walking away, and losing nearly everything in the process--home, friends, family, financial security, my standing in the community and even my own children until they were able to see beyond the lies and coverups he immediately began spreading--wasn't easy. But the man I had married twenty-two years earlier knew how to manipulate and coerce and make me look like I was a crazy person only fit for being committed because I had the audacity to leave him. But taking my life back and fighting for what I knew was right, despite all it cost, soon brought some of the peace I so desperately needed as I continued to pray for help, understanding and guidance while continuing with my education. I went back to my teaching position at our small local high school that fall with only a couple of teachers and the principal in my corner. He called me into his office the first day and told me to watch my back because the good people of the community were out to crucify me and would stop at nothing to make sure it happened. That was a bitter pill to swallow after serving them in so many ways for nearly two decades, but people believe what they want and can become very vocal and almost obsessively cruel about it. 

I suppose one of the worst days was when a so-called good woman I had known for many years came to my small, dark and drafty basement apartment where I was trying to put my life together again to tell me that I could never return to Heavenly Father unless I went back to my husband, made things right with him and then stood in front of the congregation at church and apologized for disappointing everyone. They had looked up to me and I had failed them. That came just days after my one any only confrontation in the parking lot with my husband where he told me that if I would just come home I could have my own bedroom and come and go as I liked as long as we could be seen together in public so everyone would think my leaving had been a huge misunderstanding and we were doing great. My answer was a resounding "NO" even when he told me that he had grown to love me but just hadn't bothered to tell me. 

The heart-felt series I had just completed was a way of bringing closure to a very traumatic experience--where I truly had come frighteningly close to losing myself completely--by letting people I would never meet know what had really happened during some awful years of betrayal and psychological torture. You see, I had promised God before leaving the house I had helped to build with my own hands, the flowers I had so loving planted and the beautiful memories I had created with my children when we were alone that I would never say anything negative about my husband to them or anyone else who knew us as a couple because Heavenly Father had witnessed what went on inside our home and was the only one who could fairly judge since no life was sin or error free. I just wanted to keep on living so I could be there for my children should they ever want me as part of their lives again. 

But I digress. What I really want to talk about was what happened during February, March, April and May. It put me in a tailspin of emotional upheaval that I'm just beginning to work through since I still believe in happy endings, even though I have yet to find one for myself. You see, I based one of the characters in that series on a man I met several years ago. He was handsome, charismatic, talented and involved with someone else. But there was a definite spark between us that only grew stronger during the brief moments we saw each other when I went to visit my sister twice each year. Believing in the sanctity of relationships, I didn't think much about him until a year and a half ago when he became unexpectedly available and during one of my visits really kissed me. For a girl who has not opened her heart to anyone for over twenty years that was a very heady experience. 

We began texting and talking on the phone occasionally but I was leery of any real involvement because we were so different and lived far enough away from each other that it was unlikely we would ever spend much time together. But having a writer's imagination when I started this series he unintentionally became part of it. Our friendship seemed to be growing in the right direction and I even send him a homemade quilt for Christmas because he was always saying that he needed me to keep him warm. I loved how he made me feel desirable, playful and so unlike the very reserved and cautious person the world saw. During one of our lengthy --3 to 4 hour-- telephone conversations I let it slip that I had based a character in my latest book on him. He said the honor was all his and would love a copy. I sent The Trouble With Strangers knowing he would never read it because he'd never read an entire book in his life. He'd floated through school on cliff notes and the movie version of most everything. But even if he did, he would learn more about me and perhaps even see in himself the possibilities I did.

I was excited and yet filled with a certain amount of apprehension to see him in April because I knew at least one of my peculiarities would have to be dealt with eventually. But ten days before my flight his mother died unexpectedly. He'd lost a brother in November which made this death doubly hard. Even though I tried to be there for him he pulled away somewhat--a very natural thing to do in times of grief--and I wasn't sure what would happen when I got there. One of the safety provisions my sister and I had set in place for when we traveled was to stick together like glue so we wouldn't end up in a situation we couldn't handle. She was married and I was single, and we both had strong religious beliefs that kept us from being party girls like most every other woman we met. 

He took us out on his pontoon boat for a lovely afternoon soon after we arrived, but when we got back to his house he caught me alone and asked me to sneak him into my condo room late that night so we could be alone. Here I was a senior citizen who had been alone for twenty years facing a moral decision I thought had been left behind for decades. My heart screamed out to know what it was like to make love to a man where the sexual tension was causing my whole body to shake. I had only had sex during my marriage. Any hope for love was destroyed on my wedding night when my husband told me I had married him under false pretenses because my breasts were not as big as he thought they were. But as I looked into this amazing man's hopeful eyes and watched his full, inviting lips move sensually back and forth I knew I could never betray God by giving in to physical desires. I believed God meant it when he said that physical intimacies were sacred and not to be shared with anyone other than a spouse. The man standing in front of me had had many lovers and I couldn't become just another conquest to him.

To say that I handled the situation poorly is an understatement. I tried to get my beliefs across through the tears. He said he understood as he kissed my forehead and would never be the man to persuade me to stray from anything that was truly important. But as my sister and I pulled away from the curb I knew that while he might understand my desire to do what I felt was right he wanted more than a plutonic relationship. It was all or nothing with him just as it had been with every other man I had dated after my divorce. I cried most of the night and the rest of the week was nearly intolerable. He avoided eye contact whenever he saw me and made sure he wasn't available to talk. He disregarded every text but one and that was only to say that he didn't know he was acting cold and that he always wanted me to be his friend and know that he loved me. We barbecued before I left but there was no hand holding or snuggling, just a few quick pecks on the lips that let me know we were at an impasse that would never be crossed until he was willing to talk. 

That hasn't happened yet and I've been home for almost two months. I've received two brief texts. One with smiley faces only and the other saying that he's just moody and knows he pushed a wrong button that made me have to put him in his place in front of my sister. He figured we laughed about it all the way home. 

I will spare you the rest of the sad details, but I've been nursing a bruised spirit along with a broken heart while trying to understand how I could have been so wrong about someone's intentions and desires. He opened his heart to me about so many things and shared parts of his life that I knew were painful for him to discuss. I also know that I never should have expected a relationship to continue when I wasn't willing to bend to the desires of the flesh like most everyone in today's world of promiscuity and satisfying every desire does. I even know I would have been dumped eventually anyway because I'm not exactly experienced in that area and have set eternal goals that will only be realized if I stay true to my beliefs. But even that knowledge doesn't stop the pain, the tears, and the wondering what I could have done differently that might have saved what I thought was a worthwhile friendship.

But I am glad that I'm finally able to articulate my feelings in what I know is a safe environment. No one out there in cyberspace knows who I am or who I am talking about, but every one of my readers knows what it's like to be hurt by someone he or she loves. And yes, I did love that guy and still do, but I'm ready to let him go and try to get on with my life. That means focusing on what's truly important to me--family, work, church, community, service, starting to write again and becoming closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. Through all the heartache of the past few months there has been no one for me to talk to other than God and I know He will always listen to and answer any prayer in the way that will be most beneficial. 

I haven't been able to talk to my sister about what happened even though she was there. She believes his only motivation in pursuing me was to have sex and when that didn't happen he was no longer interested. Maybe she's right since I'm way past my prime and there are plenty of willing women, but I'm not quite ready to believe someone over sixty is still that shallow, even if he is moody. I think he saw something different in me that he liked but didn't know how to pursue a relationship that wasn't based on instantaneous physical gratification.

Anyway, that's something that may never be known and full recoveries from anything out of the ordinary take time. But unless something drastic changes, come the end of September I will be seeing him again and have no idea of the reception I'll get. It could be a very cold and tearful one. That's why hope that God will make everything right in the end is so important. It helps me find fulfillment and happiness in what I have now, and I have a lot. Not just the one thing I've wanted my entire life. Meeting the right man while still in mortality is looking more doubtful each day, but perhaps by the time I pass through the veil I will have learned what I need to about loving and being loved. After all this life is a test, not just a place for self-indulgence and taking risks. And when we need answers to our most pressing problems we need to quit filling all our moments with unnecessary distractions so we can hear what God has to tell us. 

That's what I'm trying to do now. It's quiet and peaceful where I'm at, and there's  plenty of time for reflection.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

A New Kind Of New Year

I had been giving 2023 a lot of thought even before the new year began. Our world is in so much turmoil and people are so intent on getting what they want, without any regard for human life and the unbelievable consequences their decisions cost, that I was unable to see how any goals I set would help relieve much of the suffering. I am an older woman, who has only managed to make it because I don't believe in debt or credit cards since they can so easily become traps that require doing something unethical or even illegal to get out of. I was raised by parents who grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930's and we were taught not to spend money on anything we didn't need and to save every dime possible for the rainy days that would always come.

While those principles often seemed harsh, they have been one of the biggest blessings of my life. But they have also been a stumbling block because I never learned how to do special things for myself or purchase the niceties that most everyone else considers necessities, even my own children. I have hated watching them struggle over the years, and have helped whenever I could, but I know that we only learn by paying the debt our actions bring. At least that's the way it's always been for me, and I'm learning as much now as I ever have because I finally understand how much I can benefit from the wisdom of others.

Perhaps that's why I was so deeply touched during a talk given a couple of Sundays ago by a man young enough to be my son. His topic was how to make positive changes in the right way--very applicable for a new year. He began by saying he doesn't believe in setting goals because they never work for long. The enthusiasm of committing to lose weight, exercise more, spend less money or whatever else it might be soon dwindles as life goes back to normal after the holidays end and old patterns seem to come back like warm and comfortable friends. Even if those twenty pounds are lost, the satisfaction is soon gone because it simply means that another goal needs to be set.

He said he equated a new year with deciding what minor changes could make his overall life better. They didn't have to be anything noteworthy, and preferably not, because that would make them too hard to fit into an already busy life. Perhaps it resonated so completely with me because I have been thinking along similar lines for weeks. I was conditioned from early childhood not to believe I was worth much. It stemmed from my mother blaming me for the accident that nearly cost my younger brother his life and condemned him to a lifetime of disabilities, surgeries and the inability to do most of the things he really wanted. I was five and he was three when my father accidentally ran over him with a tandem disc while getting ready for spring planting on our farm.

Guilt is a horrid taskmaster and I wasn't the only one to suffer. But that experience was soon followed by many others that stripped what was left of my fragile self esteem. After recovering from six months in bed with rheumatic fever at the age of nine, I was molested by my violin teacher. When I approached my mother about it, I was told it never happened because he had been her violin teacher too and had never touched her. Two years later my father died and soon after that I went through two more bouts of Rheumatic Fever. One of them caused significant hair loss which was one of the worst things that could happen to a teenage girl because I became so self-conscious I could hardly look at anyone.

I ran away from home during my senior year after my mother came after me with a butcher knife but was lucky enough to get an academic scholarship to college--good for one year and more if I kept my grades up. Unfortunately, I found that boys could like me and I was so desperate for approval I let my grades slip and had to work even more outside jobs to complete my education.

In other posts I've talked about my marriage and how destructive it was to my soul. I won't rehash those things here, but like everyone else, I am a composite of everything that has happened to me in this life. And I would imagine what I learned in the life before we came here, because I have always believe in God and my Savior and that we have a specific reason for being here during this age of our world. I might not understand how everything is connected, but I do know I can turn to them regardless of what I am going through at any given minute.

That's why I'm taking a very different approach to what I want to accomplish during 2023. It took several weeks of praying to even know where to start before I was led back to an old therapy I found in a series of books that have helped me find clarity when everything around me was a jumbled up mass of confusion. It's the easiest exercise I've ever encountered, along with being the most beneficial and productive. It can only be done when a person has at least a half hour of silent aloneness when thoughts and feelings can run unobstructed. I begin by writing down the question I wanted answered with my dominant hand on a sheet of clean paper, and then answering with my non-dominant one. It often takes time to decipher what I've written, but is so worth it I try to tell everyone I meet about the process. 

I have always believed that we have the answers to our most puzzling difficulties inside, we just don't know how to access them. I also know that there are many different dimensions to me--most of them children who just want to be heard. I've accessed my playful child, my soulful child, my frightened child, my spiritual child, my tempestuous child and many others as the need arose. They each have a very specific reason for addressing me; some with censure, some with information and some with nothing but love. This time, I approached them all and waited to see which one was ready to address me. 

Here's what I said in my request: "I don't know how to move forward from where I am right now--not spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally. I have no idea about what goals to set or what changes will be the most beneficial. But mostly I don't know how to focus and figure out where to start. What's standing in my way against the changes I need to make and how do I move past it so I can love and nurture myself like I want to do with others?"

Then I switched hands with my pencil and allowed the ideas to come. I was quite amazed at the response. I won't duplicate everything I wrote but will share the highlights in bullet points. I'm hoping that what I learned about change will help someone else because it came from a place where I was obviously ready to accept the deepest truths.Yours may be quite different, and much less disjoined, but my personal response seemed to be linked to learning to accept and love myself just as I am.

    ~ Stop acting like there is something horribly wrong with you 

    ~ Your challenges are hard and life-altering, but not impossible to overcome

    ~ You're different than other women, but that doesn't make you bad

    ~ You feel for the less fortunate because you are one of them. Embrace that and keep trying to include the misfits that will never become one of the beautiful people because they hurt inside just like you do. Love them like you want to love yourself

    ~ Start looking for the things you do well, write them down and find ways to build on your strengths

    ~ Forget about all your sister's beauty and how many people love them. God looks on the heart and you want yours pure, not weighted down by how you look. That only breeds discontent and self-absorption

    ~ Keep trying to reach out to others. Succor the lonely misfits who, like you, have never felt they belonged

    ~ Look in the mirror and see with your heart instead of your eyes. Your body will continue to deteriorate, but your heart is just learning how to soar

    ~ Keep working on things you can leave behind to build and bring joy to others

It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was definitely what I needed to hear. Since then I've been turning off the television after dinner so I can work on other things.  I've been riding my stationary bike for at least 20 minutes while reading an edifying book. Then I work on some stitchery project for an hour or so while listening to some of my favorite music. I had stopped making things by hand because everyone seems to be more impressed by what can be purchased at a store, but I've already decided what projects I can do for family and friends for birthdays and other holidays

The love and time involved never seems to cross their minds, but I no longer care. I'm doing this because it gives me time to really think about the individual I am creating something unique for. I also do fifty reps with five pound weights, read my scriptures, say my nightly prayer and even tried out a face mask I was going to give someone else. They're not huge changes, but they're ones I can live with and hopefully I will see some positive results by tweaking a few points in my nightly routine--like lowering my blood sugar and blood pressure and adding relief when it comes to aching joints and swollen ankles. There really is nothing uplifting about being glued to an entertainment source for four to six hours when there is no positive interaction. The only plus was bodily rest and feeling a little less lonely.

When I look in the mirror now, I am trying to study my face like God would if he was gazing at me. There would be no more despicable self-talk about being old, fat, wrinkly, ugly or unloveable. Someday I will be at my best again because my spirit body has never aged, and I want my insides to match what can be seen on the outside. I won't say that it's changed my life yet because I've only been viewing myself differently for a week, but my heart does feel lighter. And with that, I know the real changes I need to make will come eventually because I deserve being treated with kindness and love. 

I wish all of you an epiphany of your own that will help you see the parts of yourself that could use a little tenderness. The best change comes gradually and is not rushed before its time. I will never be young again, nor will I be as fit and trim as I was when everything was working as it should. I want to be one of those older ladies who radiates beauty because she is kind, thoughtful, forgiving, patient and wise. After all, old age is a blessings if used the right way. It's a time for reviewing a life well spent and preparing for a glorious future.   

If you like to read, you might enjoy my new series about one woman's journey from abuse to truly living and loving again. The last book in the series came out this week. THE TRUTH ABOUT STRANGERS in print and eBook formats is on Amazon at   As always, those with Kindle Unlimited can read any of my books for free.  

We all have so much we can offer others, we just need to be brave enough to do it.

Monday, 12 December 2022

What's on Your Christmas List?

I have been awake for the last hour and a half watching the day come alive through my bedroom window. It's peaceful, calm and beautiful outside with the white, pristine snow covering the grass, trees, road, sidewalk and roofs of my neighbor's houses. No one on my street has ventured outdoors yet and I can walk onto my front stoop in my pajamas and breath deeply of the crisp, invigorating air and twirl around with joy without fear of anyone seeing me. I would love to jump into the nearest pile of snow or form an angel with my body like I did as a child. But common sense tells me that a woman my age would not be able to get back on my feet as easily as I did sixty-five years ago.

Still those quiet moments free from all the confusion of the world today give me time to reflect on the pure joy of the Christmas season and the miraculous gift of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught his brothers and sisters the way to return home to God and gave his life freely as a ransom for every sin that would ever be committed, regardless of how heinous it might be. As I watch the atrocities being committed throughout our world today and the gross and unjust pain inflicted on the innocent, I have to admit that my finite mind cannot begin to understand the infinite love that allowed him to make such a selfless sacrifice. He knew that the majority of people who arrived on earth would not take his message seriously and would do everything in their power to stop others from using the gifts of faith, obedience, selfless love, overcoming temptations and trials, and going through the steps of true repentance when something was amiss that would enable his glorious gift to work for them.

But he did it because we needed a Savior--someone truly worthy of that role--for our Heavenly Father's great Plan of Redemption and Happiness to work. Without him, our bodies would simply decay in the ground and our spirits would have no place to go when our hearts quit beating. He won the victory over both physical and spiritual death that would allow us to live on through all eternity, and the only way I can show my gratitude is by trying to live as he taught. It's an overwhelming responsibility because humanness so often keeps me distracted from doing what is most valuable. Even in a very fallen world, there is so much beauty and numerous worthwhile ways to spend my time that it is often difficult to decide between the good, the better and the best.

I love the beautiful Christmas hymns that are sung this time of year in church meetings, by carolers, over the radio or at devotionals or special social gatherings. They reflect what my heart knows is true, and I feel great sorrow when I hear of a church being defiled, Christmas trees not being allowed in public libraries or people being ridicules for believing in the greatest miracle this world has ever known. I know I was watching from my vantage point in the premortal life that night when Mary and Joseph arrived at the inn and found no place for them to stay. And even though I was not given an even relatively pleasant singing voice, I know I was part of that heavenly choir praising God and proclaiming our Savior's birth because I knew my journey to earth would come. And when it did I would need the gift he freely gave as he prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane that blood seeped from every pour.   

While Christ's birth and resurrection are indelibly linked, I love the time spent thinking about him as a newborn baby laying in the arms of his earthly parents. How overwhelmed and excited they must have been not fully understanding the critical role they would play, but trusting that God would help them and he did. My Christmas list this year is short, and there is nothing of a material nature on it. I simply want to share the light I have inside with others who appear to be stumbling around in the dark because they don't know where to find what they most need. I'll do that by baking goodies to take to my neighbors, sending off Christmas cards and texts, listening the the beautiful music of the season, wrapping meaningful gifts for family and close friends and offering service wherever I can. 

I've always had what I needed most, regardless of my financial situation. It's the gift of knowing about and loving my Savior that was instilled by imperfect parents when I was a child. We never had much in the way of material possessions but there was always food on our table and a roof over our heads. And the small gifts we got were treasured. I still have my lady doll and the head of my baby doll that I finally put on a body I made myself, and the books I loved back them are still on my shelves. I tried to create the same atmosphere when my children were young. They didn't get a whole lot of expensive gifts either, but they could recite the story of the Savior's birth by heart.

Perhaps my most memorable Christmas was when my son was three. We were at his grandparents and there had been a gift exchange. All the little boy cousins his age got matchbook cars but his grandmother gave him crocheted chicken she had purchased at a church bazaar that pooped jelly beans. I watched as the excitement in his eyes went out as he unwrapped his gift. But instead of throwing a fit like others of his cousins had done because they didn't get what someone else did, he put his little arms around his grandmother's neck and told he loved his gift. I still get teary-eyed just thinking about that because he is that same wonderful, compassionate and loving man today. What greater gift could I be given as a mother?

Since the sun is now coming up and my mind is drifting to the activities of the day, I want to end by sharing three poems. The first is my reflections on my Savior, the second a letter my grandfather once sent when I was alone at Christmas, and the third about Christmas at my house when I was a child. I hope each of you reading this will think about the true meaning of the season and feel the peace and joy our Savior wants us to experience the year round as we remember who we are and from where all our blessings come.  

My Savior

In this world of modern marvels,

one seldom takes time to think

of the creator of both heaven and earth,

Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind.


But who is this man?

A babe,

born in a stable in the village of Bethlehem. 

A boy,

reared as a carpenter in Nazareth. 

A citizen,

of a conquered and subdued nation. 

A man,

whose mortal footsteps never went beyond a 150 mile radius. 

A scholar,

who never received a school degree. 

A preacher,

who never spoke from a great pulpit.

A citizen,

who never owned a home.

A traveler,

who moved about on foot, without money. 


He is Jesus Christ,

author of our salvation.

His life, brought light and understanding

of things eternal and divine. 


His teachings, influenced the behavior 

of unaccounted millions.


His matchless example became the greatest power 

for goodness and peace in all the world. 

Grandpa's Christmas Letter

I am not yearning for a white Christmas

as well you may have guessed.

The white stuff that so delights you

can stay in the mountains in drifts.


Christmas, as other holiday, is just another day.

My parents who were not into gift exchange,

but gave more to the needy than anyone else in the valley,

being liberal with us when they sensed the need.


I understand their viewpoint now that I am older.

Too much money is wasted on throwaway gift giving.

So, granddaughter dear, do not send me things

I do not need or have any particular desire for.


The things people need more of 

in this country of ours are

worthy compliments,

appreciation, and just plain love.

Childhood Christmas


When I was a child, Christmas meant anticipation,

taking our pennies and dimes 

to Kresses or Woolworths

to buy simple, well thought-out presents.


We were poor, and the six of us children shared 

one basement bedroom and a couple of cots in the hall.

We didn’t know just how poor we really were until we 

went to church or school and saw what others wore.


We’d read the story of our Savior’s birth

from the book of Luke on Christmas Eve,

then open one specific present,

homemade flannel pajamas from our parents.

We would hurry off to bed as soon as we were wearing them,

all thoughts of sleep gone until we knew Santa had been there.

That meant creeping up the stairs as many times as we dared

tiptoeing on the edges so they wouldn’t crackle or creak.


But we never saw if the jolly old elf had arrived.

An old Army blanket, suspended in the living room doorway 

was too formidable an object to either push aside or crawl under

when we knew what would happen if our parents found out. 


At five in the morning, Daddy hurried out to the barn,

Mom called Grandma and Uncle Douglas, saying it was time.

We would warm ourselves by the old coal stove trying to keep 

our excitement down so we wouldn’t explode.

The morning would still be dark when the magical barrier

came down and we kids rushed to find our pile of presents.

There was never much to look at, for money was not,

a doll, a book, plastic animals for the boys.


A new pair of shoes and a homemade dress or shirt, 

an orange, peanuts and hard candy for our stockings.

They were simple holidays, but happy ones.

Dad played with us and Mom fixed the traditional meal.

After Daddy died, leaving seven little children alone,

the real joy of the Christmas season was gone.

We still got gifts and kept the blanket in front of the door,

and Grandma and Uncle Douglas came to spend the day.


But Daddy wasn’t there to make the holiday special, 

to play with us or to hold us tight in his protective arms.

The hole in our family was so immense we went through

motions but were never really happy and smiling again.


That was also the time when the real meaning of Christmas 

made more sense for death is part of life just as birth is.

Christ walked the earth, by example showing the way,

atoning for sins, dying so we can be a complete family again.


I have seen many Christmas’ since I was a child but 

none have been more meaningful than those of early days,

except for the Christmas’ I shared with my own children

when they were young and starry-eyed and still believed.


I played the magical elf, and my son and daughter 

climbed the stairs to see if Santa had been there.

There were more gifts purchased from stores but homemade ones

still played a significant part along with a festive meal.


They were glorious times, but life moves on, children grow, 

have children of their own, and our part in the celebration changes.

But the meaning for the day is always clear, and the gift Christ gave 

can only be repaid by faithful, humble and complete devotion.


Saturday, 19 November 2022

A different Kind of Gratitude

No real excuses for almost two months absence from this site, except for situational depression and anxiety over mid-term elections that haven't been completely decided yet. It was certainly a worry for many American Christians, along with members of other denominations, who hold religious views sacred and want desperately to protect their family values. There were also well-founded concerns for those who believe our country--that was once a beacon of hope to every struggling nation--is in the biggest trouble ever since its conception. 

The founders fathers did everything they could to ensure equality and protect the lives of legal immigrants who came here for freedom to pursue their individual dreams of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the threat of government overreach and infringment on their God-given rights. While portions of their own lives may come into question, what they created was a God-inspired masterpiece that countless nations have tried to replicate without success because faith in something greater than what could be seen with mortal eyes was left out. 

While I am not naive enough to believe our country came to the awful state it's in during the last two years alone, the personal climate has certainly turned from one of building mutual respect and prosperity to one of hatred, division, pointing fingers, unlawful accusations and dependence on enemy nations for survival. The southern border has been opened to the cartels so they can traffic in drugs, weapons and humans with little fear of retribution. Single men from the age of 18 to 30 are coming in masses from places like Venezuela where prison populations have been freed, from Mexico and Central and South Africa to join MS-3 or any of the other Latino gangs that wreck havoc in many of the larger cities, and from middle Eastern countries to help strengthen terrorist cells that are already operating here.

That has been enough to keep me awake at night, but the media never talks about any of that or the devastating amount of fentanyl coming into our country that has already killed more people than Covid and is being made enticing to children because it looks like candy. Nor do they acknowledge the plight of the people in Texas and Arizona who are having their crops, their homes and their way of life destroyed by people whose only desire is to escape capture and have no intention of becoming legal citizens who work, pay taxes and become contributing members of their communities. 

Not that my heart doesn't ache for the families and abandoned children who are coming here in hopes of escaping dreadful situations. Human suffering should not be tolerated, but they are a very small minority of the invasion coming across the Southern border now and humanitarian efforts, along with massive government assistance programs, cannot take care of the needs of millions of people if there is no order in the process. Our country is already overwhelmed by homelessness, drug addiction, violence and crime, social unrest and a recession that is causing people who have worked hard their entire lives just to scrape by to have to decide whether to buy food or prescribed medication. It's gotten so bad that many honest, tax-paying citizens are afraid of losing their livelihoods altogether or having them reduced to a point where survival is no longer possible. They even fear their homes being seized and given to someone the governing body deems more important.

It shouldn't be that way for people who were born here, who honor their country and stand for the flag, and who have done nothing but work hard, pay their bills and try to be compassionate and give something back. But now that the Covid crisis is over there are too many people who refuse to go back to work or comply with their employer's requests. Businesses have been forced to close at an alarming rate while theft, vandalism and unprovoked attacks on those unable to defend themselves is skyrocketing.

I am literally horrified by the trend of intentionally indoctrinating small children into sexual practices they are too young to understand and allowing persons of the opposite sex in school bathrooms just because they identify as a different gender without having to prove it. But the person who no longer feels safe while undressing is punished for stating any objection. It's the same with Critical Race Theory that teaches white kids to be ashamed of who they are, and the cancel culture mentality that is rewriting what was being taught in history classes and removing long-revered artifacts of our founding fathers and other influential Americans just because nor one dares stop them. The idea of canceling people has become so engrained in the social media platform that suicide deaths among the youth has become an epidemic few people want to discuss.

I could go on for pages about how I feel regarding the absurdity of the unrealistic push to go green when we're not ready and the fact that it's failed in every industrialized nation that has tried it. There's also the need be energy independent as a country because we have unlimited oil and other resources of our own, and the dire necessity to reduce our national debt because it just doesn't make sense to have China own us when they're a communist nation and our greatest world enemy. The problems with voting, hypocrisy among the different government entities, wasteful spending of tax-payer dollars and the fact that we're already in a recession that could easily go on indefinitely, or turn into something worse, are as baffling as the people who want to make our free nation a socialist country and are very outspoken about it.  

The very fact that the founding fathers wrote a constitution and added a Bill of Rights that limited the federal government to specific duties, disapproved of a party system because it could be too easily manipulated by people who used emotions over logic, and left most of the matters directly related to specific populations to the states who knew their needs better, should be food for a great deal of thought.  

I add that to the the mind-boggling belief that it's okay to castrate our children and kill our babies up to the day they're born--with legislation now being passed that makes it unlawful for doctors to save the lives of those who happen to survive a most gruesome abortion-- because a woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. Even the definition of what constitutes being a woman is being hotly debated, as are pronouns for newly invented genders. I can only say I'm glad not to be part of the public education community any longer because I wouldn't last more than a day in a classroom where using the right pronouns for newly invented genders is more important than actually teaching marketable and life-enriching skills. 

But my rantings and observations are not the main reason for this blog. I feel a very different kind of gratitude this Thanksgiving because after looking at a map of the United States once the majority of the votes for this election were tabulated almost all I could see was red. It filled my heart with joy and hope because I felt I was no longer alone in my sorrow over what is happening to the country I love. No one's rights are any greater than anyone else's, and the people who were afraid to speak out in defense of their beliefs for fear of ridicule or outright violence against them, their homes and property or someone they love, have revealed their heart's wishes through voting.  

Perhaps my logic is too sentimental and a little lopsided because there are wonderful, moderate-minded people on both sides of the political fence. But mainline media--who is both financially and content-controlled by the liberal left--has a habit of distorting the truth so no one ever knows what is really going on. Still, tears came to my eyes when I saw a bust of Abraham Lincoln being returned to its rightful place in one of our country's top university libraries and read where the pro-life movement felt encouraged because they now knew how to use their far more limited resources in getting people to see the value of an unborn child's life. 

I know there will be many dark days ahead when I feel discouraged and want to stay locked inside my home because it's one of the few places where I feel completely safe, but my heart feels so much lighter just knowing I do not stand alone in my moral convictions. There are thousands of like-minded people in every state in the union who have not bought into what is being preached by people with agendas that make the angels in heaven weep. We are all God's children and he doesn't play favorites, but the day of reckoning will come for each of us where we will be judged according to the lives we've lived and the desires of our hearts.  I want to be standing firmly on his side when my Savior comes to reign forever. What a glorious day that will be, but I have to make it through all the trials first.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones and take peace in the knowledge that God will prevail and everything is going according to his plan.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Overcoming Abuse

There is a great deal I could say on this subject since I've spent the majority of my life suffering under the hands of people much stronger, and better able to vocally express themselves, than I will ever be. My years of tears, torment, self-doubt, apology, and never feeling good enough have stripped me of most everything. But through all the unrelenting difficulties, God has been by my side lifting and encouraging me not to give up because his ways are not my ways and what will never be understood in this life will be compensated for in the next.

I believe I have mentioned in past posts my mother blaming me for the farming accident, that instead of taking my younger brother's life, committed him to an existence of mental and physical disability. She also never believed me when I told her that my violin teacher was molesting me and even came after me with a butcher knife because I wouldn't condone a relationship she was having. The trauma I experienced under her hands is better understood now, and I hope complete healing occurs when I get to the other side. But her attitude and behaviors towards me led me to marry a man who also needed to be in control. He blamed me for everything that went wrong in our marriage, including the inability my body had in carrying an already conceived child. 

I have spent years trying to come to terms with the divorce I had to pursue to save my life and the trials that came as a result. It was very easy to blame myself for not being stronger, but I believe now that my strength lay in getting away. The months I've been silent in my blogging were spent writing a trilogy about abuse and how one woman survived its unknown consequences and blessings. Much of what she suffered came from my own marital experience, but I have tried to make the story universal in its appeal since all abuse comes from a place of anger and need to control. I was lucky in many respects but still have trouble trusting. That's probably why I've remained single for the past twenty-five years, but the past few months have seen a release of some of the pain. I find myself wanting to be held, loved and cherished by a man I can love with my whole heart and who does not bring so much fear. I believe healing is possible for anyone, but it doesn't come without work and a willingness to let go. 

I'm including a brief summary of the first book, and directions for obtaining it, in case anyone reading this post knows someone who might benefit from a fictional story based on fact. Book two is also available in print, e-Book and Kindle Unlimited formats. And the last in the series should be out before the end of the year. My characters have yet to tell me how they want it to end. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who suffers the affects of abuse. It is never deserved.

When the abuse in her marriage nearly costs Everly Todd Holt her life, she makes a bold and drastic move. But she is unprepared for all the loss. On her own after twenty-two years, with even her children turned against her, she sets off to find the biological family she has never known. There are only two memories to guide her—the name of a town in England where her father was supposedly born and a never-seen image of a family crest with three animals on it. With nothing left to keep her grounded, Everly sets off on a voyage that has every chance of turning out as badly as her loveless and destructive marriage. Will strangers help her find her way, or will they only add to her heartache?  It’s a risky journey, but she has nothing left to lose.

All books available in both print and eBook formats at 


Let God Prevail

Like many of you, my heart and soul have been deeply troubled these past months by all the turmoil, distress, unrest, division and animosity that has plagued the world and much of our country for nearly two years now. l have cried into my pillow at night for the lost hopes and dreams of people everywhere as their voices are silenced and evil is promoted as being good, justifiable and the voice of the people instead of the wants of a few who have certain political agendas in mind. I have found myself longing for the simpler days of my youth. While they were not without struggles, the world was not in such complete commotion as it is today, and I've struggled to find my equilibrium in times that test my patience and understanding but not my beliefs.

I know that God lives. That his son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, rules and reigns with the complete devotion, gentle caring and eternal truths that will not change. While the world around us may be in complete chaos, the work preceding Christ's return to this earth is proceeding as it should. I believe the main reason for my own tired soul and weary body has been my forgetting my place in God's eternal plan. I am not in charge. I am merely one of his children who has been blessed to come to earth in a day when my inner peace and brightness of hope can bless the lives of others who are struggling with things I might never truly understand.

My sister and I just got back from a trip to Branson, Missouri. We try to go there twice each year to reconnect with friends and enjoy time together. We love being in a place where God, country and family are honored and everyone recognizes the bravery and sacrifice of our veterans who have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms so many today seem almost eager to give away. I love knowing I can walk down the streets in safety and express my innermost feelings without fear of being mocked, targeted or even punished for having them. It is a place where everyone is equal and no judgments are made.

While Christian beliefs may vary when it comes to certain doctrine, I always feel among friends. We attended a worship service on Sunday morning, not knowing beforehand that it was being conducted in Spanish. Neither of us understood a word, but following along in the hymnal I felt as if my poor attempt at singing the words was acceptable to my Savior as my voice tried to blend in songs of praise and devotion. The people were welcoming, kind and appreciative of us being willing to spend time worshipping with them. I came away feeling an even greater gratitude for the universal message of our Savior.

Since then, I have been trying to find the peace that seemed to be missing from my life for much too long. I have taken more time to enjoy quiet moments in nature, additional time on my knees not just asking for blessings and giving thanks but listening for whatever counsel might be placed in my heart and contemplating what in my own life needs to change so I will feel less stressed. 

I've come to the conclusion that being too tuned in to what is happening in the nation and world isn't really in my best interest. In most every way I can think of, I am as prepared for the future as I can possibly be. But I can't do anything about what other people think or how they act. I can only control my own little spot in the universe. I can decide which music I listen to, which programs or movies I watch, which books I read, the kind of nourishment I take into my body, and even how much exercise I will force myself into doing each day. I will quit beating myself up because I  don't have the energy I used to and my entire body aches most of the time. I will pace myself better when doing strenuous tasks so I don't have to spend two or three days in recovery after a mad day of digging, weeding, pruning and cleaning things up outside. 

I will set aside more time for family and friends and doing something I enjoy. I will quit judging myself by what I see others my age capable of doing. I will search for whatever talents I might possess that may bring a moment of peace, understanding or love to someone else. I will pray more fervently, study the scriptures with a more clear purpose and render service wherever I can. But most importantly, I will LET GOD PREVAIL. He knows exactly what he's doing. And if I'm too afraid to trust him, he will find someone else who might be even better than I am in fulfilling my reason for being here. 

This is a challenging time, but it is also a glorious time to be alive. Anyone familiar with the scriptures knows that prophesy is being fulfilled at an exponentially expanding rate and Satan is rejoicing in the actions of the rich and powerful and those who care nothing about anyone but themselves. If I want to make it and not be deceived, I must remain strong in my convictions and ready to bend my will to that of my eternal Father. I want to be with him again. I want to be like the servant in the scriptures who was called good and faithful and invited into his rest.  

Whether I'm looking into a clear blue sky, the clouds of stormy weather or the stars at night, I know my Savior and my Heavenly Father are watching over me. They know my sorrows, my pain, my concerns, my weaknesses, my strengths and my often misguided thoughts and actions. But they are always there to help if I but turn to them. With that in mind, I know I can make it. And I know you can make it too. 

Monday, 13 June 2022

Father's Day

I've been thinking a great deal about fathers the last few weeks. Not just the father I have missed for more than sixty years but all the fathers throughout the generations that were responsible for giving me life and a great many inherited traits - both good and bad. For some reason I have been drawn to Family Search, one of the largest genealogical databases in the world, with quiet regularity and have found the information available literally addicting and riveting with family trees, stories, picture and detailed data about how I am related to everyone who appears in anywhere in my family tree. 

Some of those lines can be traced back to the 400s, and I literally marvel at how records can be found that go back that far. I've even met people who can trace their ancestry back before Christ's birth. I love looking at names, many of which I have no idea how to pronounce, and thinking about the struggles those wonderful people must have had just to survive the difficulties of their days. Most of them were completely illiterate and would have to pay someone to write down any information they didn't want lost. However, many of those scribes were basically illiterate as well and names were spelled the way they sounded. That's why there are so many discrepancies in older records that must be triple-checked for accuracy. 

My mind cannot even comprehend what must be done to find and verify family members. If a job has more than three or four steps I forget what I'm doing and trying to figure out relationships when it comes to anything more than the obvious is almost impossible for me. I was lucky to pass the Praxis test so I could get into graduate school because it asked every question this way. If this is related to this then how is something else related to something else. It made absolutely no sense to me and still doesn't. I guess my brain just wasn't wired for that kind of logic. But oh how I love tracing family lines from one generation to another. It helps me see just how inconsequential my life is in the great scheme of themes but how very important it is to me.

My paternal grandfather died from lead poisoning when my father was barely a year old. In those days there were no painkillers and he sought relief in the only place he could, alcohol. My grandmother never had much in the way of kindness to say about him, although he gave her four children. That always bothered me because I felt a real closeness to my grandfather the moment I first saw his picture. I suppose part of that had to do with the fact that I looked great deal like both him and my father. I just wish I could find a living relative who knew that side of my family. What a joy it would be to learn everything I could from him or her, but there were too many early deaths and small families. I'm hoping I will get to meet all of them when I get to the other side.

But for now, I want to concentrate on my own father, just as I hope everyone else will do come Father's Day 2022. I really don't remember much about him. I was thirteen when he died. That should have been old enough to recall a great many things but the trauma I suffered when I was five by having my mother tell me I was responsible for the farm accident that nearly cost my little brother his life caused a sort of amnesia when it comes to anything other than a few highlights throughout my entire life. I suppose it's been a safeguard to keep me from having a complete mental breakdown, but it's also hard not being able to recall events my children or siblings remember with great clarity. 

I often wish I had been able to talk to my father about that life-altering day. He must have gone through even more agony than I did because he was driving the tractor when the blades of the tandem disk ran over my little brother's body. He didn't see the little three year-old coming and the noise from the old tractor was deafening. When he turned around, thinking he had run over a rock, seeing Sandon laying there under such monstrous blades must have broken his heart. With superhuman strength, he lifted the disc with one hand and pulled my little brother out with the other. He raced towards the house saying Sandon was dead but also calling for the keys to the jeep. That's when mother turned to me and said. "If you had been watching him the way I told you to this never would have happened." Oh, how careless words can hurt and destroy.

But the accident couldn't be reversed and we had to get on as best we could. All I really remember about my father was him being  a six foot, four-inch gangly cowboy who loved to ride horses and bulls in rodeos, play the part of a clown or announce events from high up in the stands. He worked incredibly hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table and just wanted to work the ground and raise a herd of beautiful red Hereford cattle. But he had to leave part of that dream behind so he could manage the garden department of The Mart in a nearby town because he had seven children and Sandon's doctor bills continued to come as new operations were necessary to keep him alive.

My father's voice was deep and melodious but we knew better than to get in trouble with our mother because he always supported her and he wasn't afraid to use his thick, leather belt on our soft behinds. It was called discipline, not abuse, in those days and I can't help but feel the children of today would be more responsible, better-mannered and not so me-oriented if they knew where a few boundaries lay. 

Three main events stick out in my mind from those brief years and they all happened not long before his death. He thought I should know how to drive a car so he put me behind the wheel of one Sunday afternoon when we went to get my older sister from a friend's house. I was terrified and immediately drove off the road. He wasn't any happier about that than he had been when I was nine and ten years old and driving the tractor to help him feed cattle each morning before dawn and I tipped the wagon into the ditch. I must have been a very slow learner in some areas. The next was him building an addition onto our home so six children would not have to sleep in one bedroom and a short hallway in the basement without any windows. He did all the work himself, with us kids helping as best we could. It was finished less than a year before his death.

The last was the day he died. He had come home from work early claiming he wasn't feeling well. When the bus arrived from school and I learned he was there, I had an awful feeling inside because he was never sick. My mother took my older sister to town to get something she hoped would help settle his stomach and I was left in charge of my five younger siblings. It was Friday night and daddy loved the cowboy show, Rawhide. I tried to get him to come out of his bedroom to watch it with us but he said he didn't feel up to it. I kept running down the hall to check on him every few minutes. Then about five-thirty I heard a crash. I raced to the back of the house to find him out of bed and in the bathroom. I tried to push the door open to get to him but his body was blocking it.

I suppose you can easily guess the rest. He'd had a massive heart attack and was gone. When my mother got home she sent all of us kids to the neighbor's house. I'll never forget walking down that country rode with my baby sister in my arms, crying and pleading with Heavenly Father to let my father be okay. No one was home, but we knew better than to disobey our mother so we stayed where we were until our grandmother and uncle came to get us a couple of hours later. My father's body had already been taken to the mortuary and my life was never the same after that.

I have missed him dreadfully over the years but have known moments when I knew he was there protecting and guiding me. Those are precious, spiritual experiencs that have only been shared with a few people but they helped me to see just how close those who have gone before really are to the ones who have been left behind. Still I can't help wondering why he had to be taken when seven little chicken needed him so much. That's when I remember the old saying that goes something like God didn't promise life would be easy, only that I would be worth it one day.

I'm not the best poet, but I wanted to share one I wrote about my father. I'm hoping my feeble attempt will encourage others to write down a few thoughts of their own. Posterity relies on the written or recorded word and any efforts will be greatly appreciated by those who come after we are gone.  


Did you know that perfect spring morn when the flowers

first started to bloom, that you would be leaving 

your family to return to your heavenly home?

Did you know that the loss, abandonment and grief

your little ones felt would bring sorrow and tears 

and lifetimes of questions, regrets and feeling alone?

Did you know that the wife you had loved above all

would lose her way, struggle with fear, temptation, grief, and

the harsh responsibility of doing a job meant for two? 

Did you know your sons and daughters would become

divided, holding all pain inside, trusting no one,

no longer even remembering having you in our lives?

Did you know that the emptiness we felt would keep 

some of us from ever knowing love, acceptance, fulfillment,

true intimacy with others, especially with our spouse?

Did you know that far too many of us would fight

to stop the abuse in our own homes, the kind of abuse

that became so commonplace once you were gone?

Did you know that after a near lifetime of living most of us 

would still not understand why we had to be left alone

when other fathers got to watch their children grow up?

Did you know that all of us would want to be with you again,

to see your smile, to hold your hand, to let you know that

we had done our best through some very difficult times?

I doubt any of those thoughts crossed your mind that day,

but they must have later on as we navigated through our own trials.

Perhaps strength, acceptance and compassion could be learned no other way.