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.

Sunday 8 May 2022

Mother's Day

I skipped over Easter for some reason this year--that defining day in the life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, when he atoned for our sins and rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life and earn the privileged of returning to his presence one day. I love him with all my heart and am so thankful for the gift he gave to all mankind regardless of their life circumstances or what they choose to do. His supreme gift is one that should never be forgotten. But in a way I feel even closer to him than I did in April on this particular Mother's Day. Perhaps that's because I've read a little more about his mother, Mary, the past few Weeks.

What an extraordinary, spiritual and amazing woman she was to have been chosen to be his earthly mother. We don't know much about her from the scriptures but she had to have known how remarkable he would be from from the very beginning and what an incredible responsibility she had to help prepare him for such a divine and important mission. Tears fill my eye just as they do when I think of our mother, Eve, and the choice she made between staying in the Garden of Eden where life would remain perfect and bringing life and death into the world so all of God's children would have the chance to come here.

It breaks my heart to see all the people protesting Mother's Day in front of churches in our country on this special day. I never thought I would live to see such selfish, blatant and hateful disregard for the sanctity of life and religious freedom. Each person on earth has a mother who was willing to go through the perils of carrying a child, not knowing how he or she would turn out, but hopeful each one would bring love, acceptance and joy into the lives of so many others. 

And regardless of what some would-be comics on television say to get a laugh, not one woman I have ever known has not mourned for a child lost through miscarriage. These little ones were loved, wanted and cherished from the moment of conception and the hurt never goes away. I know this from losing every baby I ever tried to carry. Motherhood is the supreme gift of being a woman and our bodies were specifically designed for such a glorious challenge.

Mine was not a happy, peaceful home growing up. There was little laughter, nurturing or guidance, and I've had a hard time over the years trying to understand why I never felt like my own mother loved me. I know it began when I was five and she blamed me for the farm accident that nearly cost my three-year old brother his life. Her very words were. "If you had been watching him the way I told you to this never would have happened." He was in a coma for six weeks and when he came out of it the right side of his body was paralyzed. He demanded constant attention and care as he struggled to survive and began learning how to do even the most basic things again. I became his guardian and would sleep on the floor by the side of his crib. Needless to say, our home was never the same again. The constant stress and tension could be felt by every one of us.

When I was nine, I was confined to bed for six months with Rheumatic Fever. My mother had joined the work force to help pay all the medical bills and I was left on my own on a chair and footstool combination during the long hours of the day with only my father to check on me at irregular times when he came in from the fields. I was only allowed to stand up when I needed to go to the bathroom or went to my weekly doctor's appointments. At ten, I had sufficiently recovered and was given violin lessons, even though I knew we couldn't afford them. I wanted to play the piano, but that wasn't the worst thing about that experience. My teacher, an old man with white, pulp hands, began to molest me. I was too young to understand what was going on but the horror I felt grew to the point that I was pulling out all my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I told my mother, she said he had never touched her so he couldn't be doing anything to me. Things were very different then.

After my father died when I was thirteen, leaving seven children ages fifteen to one, my mother had a mental breakdown but never missed a day of work. Our home life was horrible and she began to do some very uncharacteristic things that impacted a few of us siblings so much that we have never recovered from them. At one point she came after me with a butcher knife because I wouldn't go along with something she was doing that I knew was wrong. I ended up running away from home a few months later never to return. 

I saw her occasionally after that, but it cost lots of money to make long distance phone calls in those days and traveling more than a few miles from home was seldom done for the same reason. She would remember Christmas and birthdays but I could never talk to her about anything that was important, especially the decision to marry a man I somehow knew would not be good for me. I think one of the reasons I married him was simply because he didn't like her because of the way she treated me. When I finally left him after 22 years of similar emotional abuse all she said was. "Maybe you should reconsider. You're not attractive to find anyone else."

And when she got cancer and had only few months to live, I was told I could only see her for twenty to thirty minutes once a week. My job was to type up all my grandmother's short stories and readings and put them into binders so all my siblings could have one. I didn't even get to tell her goodbye the day she died, even though I was at her house when it happened. It was a rather bitter pill to take.

I don't write these things for any other reason than to let you know that even though life with my mother was not at all I wished it could have been, she was trying to do her best in some very trying circumstances that were too painful for her to even talk about. I guess I better understand now because of all the mistakes I've made with my own children. Not that I didn't love and nature them with every fiber of being. If anything, I was too protective because I had to work so hard to have them in my life and knew that one day they would each find their biologicals mothers and I would have to decide how I was going to react to that. 

That's happened now, and it's been hard. But I have come to realize that every child needs many good women for support throughout their lives. Perhaps that's why teaching has always been such a passion for me. I've always felt like my students were part of my family and treated them as such, even when they least deserved it. My grandmother--who died when I was nineteen--an older neighbor and several teachers who took me under their wings provided that stability, hope and encouragement for me. I would never have survived without them.

So on this special day I really am thankful that my mother did not decide to get rid of me because I was an inconvenience or she may not have wanted me as much as she could have. Life has not been easy but the opportunities for refinement and growth have taught me more than I thought possible. I just hope we'll have time to really talk when I get to heaven. I think we'll both be in a better, more understanding, place then. Without mothers mankind would be lost. They bring life, purpose and hope into the world. May God bless each one of them with added wisdom, understanding, patience and love.


Sunday 10 April 2022

Last month I was asked by a dear friend, Andre Gensberger, who is both owner and publisher of Books 'N Pieces online magazine to write an article for his April issue titled: Why the World  Needs Clean Fiction and Characters With Value. At first I thought he was baiting me because that's not a popular type of book being written today, so I asked if I could think about it overnight. But when I said my prayer, I knew this was an opportunity to address why I write books that are suitable for the entire family. I feel like God has given me a gift that can be used to bless the lives of others by expressing my love an devotion to Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a sacred responsibility I take seriously, even though I know few people will read what I've written. I decided to share it with you since I sense that many of you feel the same way I do about the eroding moral fabric in society today. 

Those of us who believe need to stay true to our convictions and not allow the woke agenda's being promoted today to take away the peace and safety we feel when we are free to express our religious beliefs. If you would like to read the many other good articles and short stories in his magazine you can access it at Here's what I wrote in answer to his most thought provoking questions.

Why the World Needs Clean Fiction and Characters with Values

I see the need with most of the books my 13 year-old granddaughter reads because her obsession with the macabre, violent and unreal frightens me. Fortunately, she's not into the really graphic sexual stuff yet, but I see the handwriting on the wall. No one wants to write about normal people with regular problems anymore because it's much too tame and doesn't appeal to the masses who have been conditioned to accept things as being routine that caused people to gasp even a generation ago. I feel a great need and responsibility to help fill the gap between people who have decided that God no longer exists, and ones who still believe in him, with stories that cause people to get in touch with their inner selves and hopefully find the strength to fight their own problems without giving in to all the negative influences that are so prevalent in our me-centered society.  

Brylee Hawkin's Virtue

Brylee is a character of the twenty-first century. She knows what it's like to feel rejection, regret, betrayal, anger and loneliness. Watching her grow from a frightened young woman with no real sense of self into a confident adult who can run a ranch and give emotional support to a family she doesn't know helped me to identify my own strengths. She has no answers when she arrives in Australia to face her estranged father, but she has the faith necessary to keep moving forward when her beliefs threaten to destroy everything she is trying to build--even a new romance. She learns how to fight through the hardships and pain without turning her back on God, like most everyone else in her family has done, because she understands that without her faith she has nothing left to cling to. Her journey parallels that of most anyone who has ever lived, not in exact experiences, but in the throbbing disappointment, excruciating heartache and loss of dreams that few mortals escape. Brylee's story is not for readers who prefer fantasy to reality, but it is for those who want a thought-provoking and exciting read that is full of twists and turns they will not see coming.

An Author's Values


I am in the minority and can only speak to the values I've set for myself, and they are ones I cannot violate even though I know I would garner far more success if I did. I was raised in a very strict home where our mouths were washed out with soap if we said even the mildest swear word and our behinds felt the pain coming from a razor strap if we back-talked to our mother or stepped out of line in any other way. I'm not saying that's any way to raise kids, but we knew what it was like to respect God, country and adults--something that is sorely lacking in today's permissive and self-indulgent society. I also grew up reading books where the authors could tell a riveting story without lacing it with profanity, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, explicit sex and many other things I feel are unnecessary but still show up on nearly every page in the books that are coming off the press today. I feel accountable for every word I write because it defines who I am as a person. I'm proud of being a Christian in a very unChristian world. I want people to know I believe in God and in my Savior who died for each of us since I know I will have to account to them one day. That stance offends a lot of people who can say some very unkind things, but I try to let their comments roll off my back because we have the right of choice and should never condemn someone else for their personal beliefs.

Creating Women of Substance 

In the past seven years, I have published sixteen books--two series and four standalones. Each lead comes from a place of true individuality underscoring diverse problems that could happen to most anyone. I write in first person because it feels more authentic to me, and I cast women as my lead characters because I really have no idea how men think and want my stories to be believably real. I also feel that the genres of family life, romance and mystery are more likely to be read by women who want to identify with the lead character. 

In Indecision's Flame, Brylee is searching for forgiveness and family as she tries to make peace with a very disturbing past while trying to build a future where she can thrive. Reagan Sinclair, as  a new FBI agent, finds out through some very desperate experiences that perhaps her parents were right in saying that a career exposing her to the seediest underbelly of life isn't the right place for a girl who attends church every Sunday and believes in God. Maya lost her husband in an unexpected avalanche and is left with two children to raise. Rani has a chip on her shoulder as big as the state of Colorado and cannot stand weakness in anyone, but then she discovers some of her own. Andrea just wants to be married but falls in love with a guy who is all wrong for her. And Jada goes back to her old college as an adjunct professor hoping to find answers as to why her professional life is flourishing while her personal life stinks. The series I'm working on now is about a middle-aged divorced woman who finds herself alone with no one to cling to for help, but she is willing to risk everything she has left to become part of a family she has never known and isn't sure still exists. 

Indie vs Mainstream Publishing


I'm not sure I've ever really broken into mainstream publishing. That's pretty hard to do without some serious cash backing, and I'm afraid to push too hard because I don't want anyone telling me I have to change my characters values and beliefs just so the general public will be more interested in their stories. I guess I have to say that I value my integrity over potential dollars earned. Whatever I make goes directly into an account for my grandchildren, and I like having people tell me how much they appreciated one of my books because it gave them direction, courage and hope. I appreciate being able to connect with other writers of faith-filled books who are going through the same struggles I am in finding the right audience. It gives me the courage to stand by my beliefs because the work we're doing is helping people, if only one by one. For me, that's what my writing is all about.

Personal Growth Through My Writing


I think I realized how much I've grown as both a person and an author when I started my latest series. While each of my books contain reflections of an incident or feelings I've had somewhere throughout my life, I was able to truly let go with these. I no longer care what someone else might think about the storyline or how my characters react to personal problems. We live in a very diversified world and have to accept both the good and the bad in others if we want to be happy. That doesn't mean we have to embrace a lifestyle that isn't right for us or accept any kind of abuse, but we do need to show compassion and understanding. That's something I've always believed but have managed to let judgmentalness, jealousy and anger cloud many of my dealings with people. I don't feel that way anymore. I know who I am and would like for my faith to embrace everyone who is struggling and fill them with the same peace I've managed to find. I would still like to find that golden niche every author dreams of, but I'll keep on writing until I do.

There you have it. I hope it makes a little sense and would love to hear how you feel about the books being written today. I can only say that in these times of turmoil and strife I only read things that will build and uplift because I get enough of everything else from the news. People need to know about all the good there still is in the world and how kind and loving most of the people are. Maybe I just choose to look for the positive because that's how I'm trying to live my own life. May safety follow your footsteps and may you find joy in the little beauties you find along the way. 

Books by Author JS Ririe found at:


Crossfire at Bentley

Kismet finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Agent Reagan Sinclair series:

Final Allegiance


Safe Haven


Welcome Redemption

Indecision’s Flame – Book One

Lost – Book Two

Exposed – Book Three

Betrayal – Book Four

Reawakening – Book Five

Unraveling – Book Six

Destiny – Book Seven



Wednesday 9 February 2022


This won't be as long as usual since I'm still in pain. After having such a great January, as I explained in my last post that talked about doing something creatively exciting instead of writing down my usual list of goals, I was simply waiting for the next shoe to drop. But I didn't expect such an uncomfortable blow. I've been doing a little updating in my home so it would feel more like me and take away some of the eyesores I've hated since moving in nearly seven years ago. The granite countertops went in without too much of a hitch right before Christmas. Then I spent most of January waiting for the flooring I wanted throughout most of the main level to arrive. 

There was plenty of carpet available, but I wanted laminate floors because I knew they would never grow ugly and have to be replaced as long as I took care of them. Besides, with all my allergies it just made more sense. It took three months for my backorder to arrive, but by the first of February the installers were ready to go. With no one to help me, I began boxing things up and moving them into places where they wouldn't get ruined by dust or be in anyone's way. I wasn't the least bit sorry to see the old carpet being tossed. It was being held down by a hundred little nails in all the places it had buckled anyway. 

But with the prep work done by noon the first day, I was told that they wouldn't be able to start laying the new floor until morning because they had another job to finish first. That was irritating, but I let it go and swept all the floors again and settled in on the sofa for the night. I'd had to take my bed apart so its parts could be moved. Sleep was intermittent at best, as it always seems to be when I'm going through any kind of mess, but I was ready for another late arrival as soon as the sun came up. This time I was told that the boss wouldn't be coming to help. He was spending the day with his pregnant wife. 

"Goody," I thought. But the twenty-one year old young man seemed to know what he was doing. So I went into my office to work since it was the only place I would be out of the way. He got most of the great room finished, but said it would take him until the early morning hours to finish and he would do better work if he came back in the morning. I agreed since my nerves were pretty much shot. I cleaned up everything I could find after he left and then spent another night on the sofa. He managed to finish by three the next afternoon, but I was unaware of just how extensive the silicone mess he left behind was. I could see large smudges of it when the overhead lights were on and raised bumps seemingly everywhere, but research on the internet told me some of it might come up with alcohol. I spent a couple of hours scrubbing but it didn't work.

So before I went to my volunteer job the next morning, I picked up some goo-remover at Lowe's. I spent a couple more hours on my knees that night trying to get it up and started putting a few things back together. I'll omit the rest of my ordeal since I know many of you have experienced it, but by Saturday night I had the floors polished and was ready to sleep in my bed. Unfortunately, I was also starting to develop a rash in an embarrassing place I won't mention. By the next morning all I wanted to do was scream, but I figured I could live with anything until Monday when urgent care centers were open. I really didn't want to go to an emergency room.

Much to my surprise, the doctor told me I had shingles and a UTI. I'd had the first shot and hadn't thought much about ever getting it because I try very hard not to get overly stressed. But when it hits it is ruthless, and I must have taken on more than my body could handle during my renovation projects. I picked up some meds and lidocaine patches at the pharmacy but knew there was nothing I could do to spend up the recovery process, although the doctor felt we had caught it early enough that it shouldn't get too much worse. 

I spent forty-eight hours in horrid pain, but I was able to sleep last night and feel like I will be able to return to my volunteer work tomorrow. I've always believed in the power of prayer, but my quick recovery from something that could have lasted so much longer has certainly increased my gratitude for God's love and protection, along with the marvel of modern medication that can treat so many rough things. I still have four days of meds left to take and they cause some uncomfortable nausea, but when I get on my knees it is with complete gratitude in my heart.

I don't know what this has to do with making new year's resolutions, but I thought it rather ironic that such a low could so immediately follow my jubilant high. Nonetheless, it's all part of the unavoidable things that happen just because we are part of the human race. I suppose all I can really say is that it is so important to cherish the beautiful moments of fulfillment and joy because the bad will always slip in. At least that's been my experience. And it's a good reminder that there is always someone above who is there to listen and offer encouragement and hope. For so many of us, we don't have anyone in our homes to fill that very basic need. 

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day. Don't know that I'll get another post out by then.

Books by JS Ririe:

Crossfire at Bentley

Kismet finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Agent Reagan Sinclair series:

Final Allegiance


Safe Haven


Welcome Redemption

Indecision’s Flame – Book One

Lost – Book Two

Exposed – Book Three

Betrayal – Book Four

Reawakening – Book Five

Unraveling – Book Six

Destiny – Book Seven


Book by Viola Ririe:

So Long, Bishop

All Books available on Amazon at