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 www.BooksNPieces.com. 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: https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv

 

Crossfire at Bentley

Kismet finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Agent Reagan Sinclair series:

Final Allegiance

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

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

Confessions

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

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

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 https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv  




Wednesday, 26 January 2022

The Goals Not Set

Here it is, almost the end of January and I have finally decided to make an accounting of the goals I didn't even bother to set this year. Like many of you, I spent a lot of time deciding what I thought would be attainable in areas like physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. I included things like eating less, moving more, doing something unselfish for someone else each day, counting my blessings with more intent and doing better at staying on top of things that needed to be done around the house. I'm sure each of you could add a hundred more items to that list, but by this time each year my enthusiasm always wanes. I was more intent on being like everyone else who wanted to look like Barbie or Ken instead of a real person who had been created by an Eternal Father who knew what he was doing by making each of his children just a little different than all the rest.

I really didn't want to exercise more or give up my addictions to chocolate, ice cream or chip dips. Nor was I happy about spending more time doing things for other people if it meant getting dressed up and leaving the safety of my home. I am a complete introvert and social interactions are very difficult and draining to me. I can't even get excited about going out to lunch with one of my female friends because I can't think of anything to say. And when one of my sisters, who use exercise more like a religion than an attempt to stay healthy, drones on and on about the hours she spends each day lifting weights  and twisting her body into uncomfortable positions I want to gag. Nothing sounds more boring that doing repetitious movements that require no intellectual thought. 

I'm not saying that goals like that aren't honorable and worth the effort, but they are just too hackneyed and unrealistic for me. I have been setting similar ones my entire adulthood and have never been able to stick with them for more than a few weeks. Perhaps that is why I am carrying around more weight than I should. But I simply can't believe that staying 10 to 20 pounds under what the, supposed, experts say is the weight a person should be at for a specific height is any healthier than being that much over it. I would starve to death if I only ate a bowl of cereal and some fruit for lunch and a salad at night. Besides being boring, it would take all the joy out of living. 

So I purposely didn't write down any goals this year. All the really important ones pertaining to my eternal wellbeing had already been set, and adhered to on a daily basis, like praying daily, studying God's word, being honest in my dealing with others, actively participating in church assignments, supporting members of my family and taking time for personal introspection. Of course, I miss doing one of those things occasionally because I get tired and distracted like everyone else. But the minute I recognize my error, I do something about it. 

I didn't even commit any new resolutions to mind, except for trying to get my blood sugar under better control. I figured if I could do that one thing everything else would automatically fall into place. I would have no other choice than to eat more responsibly and get on my exercise bike more so I wouldn't feel sluggish at night and have every muscle in my body sore from sitting in one place for too long. Arthritis has become an unwanted friend, but there really isn't a whole lot that can be done to reverse it.

I don't know what my A1C is doing right now and won't have it checked by the doctor until May, but I do know that some of the stress I felt over the holidays is gone. I decided that what I really wanted to do with the month of January was write for as long as I could each day, without getting eye strain or a headache, and not feel guilty about doing it. Other retired people could make time for the gym, plan activities with friends, go on a cruise, learn to knit or spend hours in front of the television set if they wanted to. But for once in my life I was going to concentrate on what made me feel most creative, even if no one else understood or appreciated it. 

I had no idea how quickly my life was changing until a few days ago when I realized that I was waking up between five and six every morning--during the winter, no less--excited about turning my computer on so I could see what my characters had to tell me in the new book I was writing. Even when I was having the accurately-named writer's block, I wouldn't stop working. If it took me two hours to type a page, instead of the one that I usually averaged, I felt more invigorated than frustrated because I understood that my abilities were growing as I took the time to unravel what had caused the blockage.

I was thrilled a few minutes ago when I saw that I had written over 150 pages of a novel in less than four weeks, doing a great deal of editing as I went. I'm not saying that giving into one's passions is always wise. Some of them are more detrimental than useful, but I have found that concentrating on something I love, rather than the things other people think I should be doing, has made me happier than I've been in a long time. And I am seeing lower numbers when I prick my finger more days during the week than I have for months.

I still spend two days a week volunteering with work I consider important  and am always available when someone needs my help. But I'm no longer going to chastise myself for being so unlike most everyone else because I want to do something I feel I am good at instead of torturing myself because I'm not stick thin. God made me to appreciate the printed word for a reason, and I would be doing myself a real disservice if chose to ignore it. Other people can do what they like, but I feel more liberated than ever because I no longer care what anyone else thinks. 

Perhaps a little wisdom does come with age, or maybe I'm simply deluding myself. But it sure feels good no longer feeling the pressure of conformity. Even if no reads a word I've written, it really doesn't matter. I like what I'm doing and am learning more about myself in the process. After all, isn't that one of the purposes for life? Learning who we are when no one else is watching? 

Anyway, I can't wait for February. My creative juices are flowing, and I don't want them to stop. Hopefully, you'll be able to spend a little time thinking about what makes you really happy. There may be a season for everything, but there are perfect moments each day. May each of us find and cherish them.




Books By JS Ririe:

Crossfire at Benley

Kismet Finds a Way

Rivers of Rage

Beyond the Glass Doors

Reagan Sinclair FBI series:

Final Allegiance

Resilience

Safe Haven

Unsheltered

Welcome Redemption

Indecision's Flame series:

Book 2 - Lost

Book 3 - Exposed

Book 4 - Betrayal

Book 5 - Reawakening

Book 6 - Unraveling

Book 7 - Destiny

Book by Viola Ririe:

So Long, Bishop

All books available in print and eBook formats on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv