Archive | June 2016

A Tribute to a Remarkable Woman: My Mom

My mother went to be with the Lord last Saturday. She will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Having  a kind heart, she thought of others before herself. Even in death she donated her body to science. As a remarkable woman, she taught her children the value of many things, not the least among them were courage, resolve and integrity.1949 ~ Mom about age 20

When I was seven, our family went to the fair. I walked alone with my brother and watched as he played carnival games. The attendant wondered why I wasn’t playing. “I have no money,” I said but promised to come back. As we approached mom and dad, I told them what I had vowed. My father was furious because we were dirt poor farmers and even a quarter was a lot of money. But my mom knew I had given my word. “A person’s word is their bond,” she protested. So we promptly went back, I gave the man a quarter and quickly lost it on a stupid game. But the lesson I learned stayed with me. She taught me integrity. When one says they’re going to do something, follow through.

In life, she overcame many personal challenges. She was born in Brooklyn, NY, yet never saw the top of the Empire State Building. She had a fear of heights. That fear was rectified when she earned her pilot’s license. In 1976 she viewed that top of the Empire State Building as she piloted her grandchildren and me to JFK to reconnect  with my husband in Germany. “Can’t means won’t try!” still resounds in my memory!

My mom grew up as the daughter and granddaughter of ministers dating back to Jonathan Edwards. But when she married, she converted to my father’s religion. That violent, abusive man wouldn’t know love/charity if it bit him. She stayed for us but when I was 13 he deserted the family. It was the only good gift he ever gave. Mom was never a quitter. Adjusting to her circumstances, she taught us to make the best of ours. My brother and two sisters are all successful because of this determined, faithful, Godly mother.

Our mother worked three jobs to keep us together and off welfare. I resented that at the time; feeling abandoned once again. I didn’t know until much later why she did it; she and her siblings were separated after her father died. Families stayed together! With determination and a knack for turning challenges into opportunities, three jobs became one when she eventually became a Broker/Realtor and practically owned that small town. She patiently took challenges one step at a time.

When asked why God allows such horrible events to happen to the innocent, it concerns me. Why not us? God didn’t even spare His own Son. Jesus endured pain, betrayal, heartache and everything we experience on Earth to be a Savior for us. If our father hadn’t abandoned us, mom wouldn’t have come back to her Christian roots and we wouldn’t have been saved. Lastly, we can either endure/overcome trials, crumble or develop a sense of humor. (Boy could our mom tell a joke! In fact she wore an Energizer Bunny costume for a variety show.) I prefer humor.

My mother is at peace now after facing one challenge she couldn’t conquer, dementia. But I rejoice that she is having the best reunion with the saints in Heaven! And when I see her again, it’ll be as the young beautiful spirit she once was. God is Good.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”  (Proverbs 31:25)

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Run An Individual Race

running a race“You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?” (Galatians 5:7)

We are each unique. Isn’t that wonderful? However there are always people who want to live someone else’s life: desiring a larger home, more income, even a smaller waistline. Truth is, many will get sidetracked and run a meaningless rat-race to win a worldly prize which turns to dust! Goals are beneficial but should always fit into God’s plans for our life. It’s only what we do for our Lord that lasts.

Embarrassing Confession: When I was in high school I was downright ugly. How I had wished I had been born pretty. Even my son once, after he found my yearbook photo joked, “Mom, did you like yourself back then?” So believe me, I was quite plain. I figured since I was never going to a beauty I better develop a personality to be noticed. So that’s what I worked on.

My favorite book during my teenage years was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I kept striving to be friendlier, kinder, interested in others, etc. and eventually succeeded when I was elected VP and then president of my school. That  book’s basic principles, along with The Bible, became my learning tools throughout life. God taught me that if I ran my own race, I’d never want to be anyone but me. That produced a happier life.

People who are never satisfied with the bounty God has given them are not joyful, contented residents on Earth. They rush around striving for what they’ll never achieve and even when reaching a goal, are never satisfied with the final result. They are like spoiled children at Christmas who open present after present and after opening them all ask, “Is that everything?”  They were happy for a moment and then looked around, wishing for even more.

Trying to be someone else enslaves us to another’s opinion. Remember God looks at our spirit! A grateful, contented smile is the most beautiful asset you’ll ever own.

“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)

True freedom is powerful! Even a prisoner will find freedom within his confines if he has godly peace within. For in his chains, his repentant Christian testimony will inspire others. What imprisons you? Are you imprisoned by smoking, weight gain, drug use or other harmful habit? Look for godly ways to conquer these addictions, taking it one step at a time. There is no instant gratification.

Yes, it’ll take time. Therefore make your goals realistic. For example, if someone is large-boned, they will never be a size 2 without looking emaciated. Second, develop discipline. If one is small in stature, eating smaller portions and creating a workout to keep that physique is essential. Everything in life has a cost but remember, you are the only one who lives inside your body. Choose wisely.

Allowing God to be your Coach will get you past the Finish Line. Overcoming an addictive habit for some might be a sprint, for others a marathon. Run your own race. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start finding success in small personal goals because accomplishing a goal builds confidence! A confident attitude will draw others to you; for by conquering addiction, you have conquered the chains of a sinful nature. You’ve become a New Creation in Christ!

If We Want to Be Great at Anything . . .

Recently I read an exceptional article by author/blogger Anne R. Allen entitled: “Don’t derail your writing career before it starts” found at http://annerallen.com.  Totally inspirational! I trust it will inspire you too!

Seeing life through a Spiritual lens, I instantly recognized a correlation between writing successfully to our Christian walk and/or healthier lifestyle.writing a novel photo

Anne R. Allen began: “We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn. But some mistakes have the potential to end a writing career before it starts. Today I’m talking about the things a lot of writers do that can keep them from having a career—or derail it for a long time. How do I know about them? I did a lot of this stuff myself.”

Ms. Allen, a brilliant, accomplished author, is humble regarding her successful career. She didn’t brag about being the best novelist since Charlotte Bronte; rather she gives credit to those around her who encouraged and assisted her toward that success. She infers how we don’t live in a vacuum; it truly takes a team to create a well-rounded work. I also acknowledge that without other friend’s expertize advising and cheering me on, my most recent work, Casey’s Journey, would have been a struggle.

Have you seen the movie, Becoming Jane or Little Women? Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott weren’t successful overnight were they? They had plenty of rejections, tossed away pages and rewritten manuscripts. Thankfully however, they never quit. But what if they had given up, discouraged by those rejection letters? We never would have the masterpieces we have today!

Compare this with any lifestyle endeavor. Please don’t derail any healthy lifestyle quest by giving up, feeling defeated or quit out of fear. As a nutritional counselor, one remark I often heard was, “Why did I wait so long to do this?!” Expecting perfection, fear of failure or even fear of success holds us back. (After all, if I’m successful in this, they’ll expect more from me!)

That victorious feeling after conquering challenges and insecurities is worth the struggle. (Which coincidentally is one theme in my first novel, Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime, shameless plug.) We’ll continually make mistakes so learn from them and move on, strive for excellence not perfection.

It takes practice to write well. Don’t expect perfection right away or ever. My first manuscript took forever to finish because I was afraid of embarrassing imperfections and grammar mistakes. It’s been decades since I’ve attended school and punctuation has changed over the years. If we want to succeed, we must keep working at it! As a Christian, I’ll never be perfect so please don’t look at me, look to Christ.

We’ll make mistakes in our lifestyle challenges too. Regarding physical and spiritual health: Always look for Truth. Notice all the fad diets over the years? And yet if you compare those with sensible physiology, (truth) we can disregard 99% of them as fads (untruths!) It was extremely satisfying recently to discover health “experts” declaring the Mediterranean Diet as the Best of the Best. Really? I’ve been saying that for twenty-five years. It’s the Biblical Diet from Genesis 9:3 which God gave us first; Physiological Truth!

Last but not least, Anne proposed: in order to be a great writer, we need to be avid readers. If I want to write intelligent works I must read intelligent novelists. Likewise, if we desire a healthier lifestyle, we must compare current health claims to the Great Physician’s Manuscript, The Bible.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Colossians 3:23)

 

 

My Book Launch: “Casey’s Journey”

Casey's Story Cover photo for CanvaEvery author who devotes their entire heart and soul to writing realizes how exciting it is to see a finished work come to life. For me writing will always be a labor of love. Therefore I am pleased to announce that my sequel to Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime, entitled Casey’s Journey, has debuted.

Isn’t writing a novel similar to birthing a child? At first you’re excited about the prospect, happily announcing it to relatives and friends, then a little nervous wondering if you’ll even be good at parenting (or in this case, writing.)

As you discover your characters coming to life amidst an emerging plot, you can’t wait to see what the finished project will look like! But along the way, perhaps constantly editing, you’re wondering why you ever thought it’d be a good idea and simply want it over with! Did I really think I’d be the next Harper Lee, Sidney Sheldon or Jodi Picoult? (Come on, I’m sure all writers felt the same at one point.)

Casey’s Journey is classified as Women’s Fiction, Christian Fiction, YA and is a perfect beach read! It’s a coming of age, nostalgic story, partly based in Europe, mostly based in the low country of the Carolinas. As in the first novel, this one has a built-in sequel, so while reading, look for hidden clues. I hope you’ll enjoy and publicize it. I’d love to hear from you if you do.  In appreciation, Ellie

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Why does God allow bad things to happen to the innocent? The second novel in the Katherine LeVay series, follows not only Katherine’s life after the death of her philandering husband, but answers the question as to what happened to her abducted child.

When Richard and Katherine LeVay Madison’s five-year-old daughter is kidnapped in New York City on a family outing, we discover that even the evil events in our life can be molded into beauty if God is the Potter.

Katherine’s resentment toward her husband’s indiscretion is but one of several events which ultimately leads to the downfall of her marriage. Years of living with the hopelessness that her daughter will never be found, Katherine leaves the States for a new life in picturesque Sorrento, Italy. But even her flourishing Bed & Breakfast set in a renovated Renaissance Inn won’t quell her heartache and longing to discover what really happened to her beloved daughter.

Casey is told her parents, aunt and uncle are dead and she must remain at the “orphanage” until someone adopts her. A year and a half later the child feels unloved, unwanted and rebellious. There is one couple however who sees the child’s potential and brings her into their gypsy military lifestyle. As we follow Casey’s journey through the twists and turns of life into adulthood, she sees how those who now love and protect her format her thoughts and dreams for a more promising future.

Stationed in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, golf comes calling and Casey exhibits many of her birth parents athletic characteristics. She discovers a talent and a competitive atmosphere she thrives in. That is until a family tragedy occurs, challenging her beliefs and enticing her into a scandalous situation. If it’s true that tribulation builds character, then Casey has an abundance of it.

Throughout the novel we question which shapes us more, our heritage or environment? Will Casey discover the truth regarding her past and is it possible that God meant all these tribulations for good?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”  (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Now available on Amazon Kindle:

Casey’s Journey available for $2.99

Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime reduced to 99 cents.

 

Pulling Those Pesky Spiritual Weeds!

In my last post I expounded upon how easily sin can spread like flowering weeds throughout our lives. Pretty to look at but deadly to Spiritual growth. We’re aware that sin is destructive and shouldn’t flower in a Christ-filled life but how do we rid ourselves of them?pulling weeds

We must recognize that sin’s unhealthy habits drag us down, destroying our Christian testimony. I hate to admit when I was younger, someone asked me once, “If you’re a Christian why do you do such bad things in your life?”  I had no answer except a flippant, “Well Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I don’t know why God is so patient with me but I’m grateful!

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11)  NLT

When it comes to sin we can’t be kind, even allowing a little bit of it to grow in our Spiritual garden.  This means going along with injustice, being peer pressured or overlooking sin in our friends lives. “Bad company corrupts good character.”  (1 Corinthians 15:33) Yes it’s true that sometimes we can win others by displaying good Christian character amidst challenging social situations. But more times then not, those “weeds” overpower us and we fall into sin rather than allow our testimony to thrive. Scripture urges us to flee youthful lusts, (2 Timothy 2:22) not dabble in it.

It’s similar to obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Every sin has consequences. If you always consume fattening, chemically laden foods you’ll risk diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cancers. Risk? Do you feel “lucky?” I’d prefer not play Russian Roulette with my life but rather trust God to keep me healthy because I want to honor that vibrant life gift He has given me.

Until one gets strong enough to withstand the temptation of donuts and sugary carbs, we shouldn’t go into a donut shop! Or attend a Buffet if you’re a curious person and consume a little of everything the tables offer. Nine times out of ten we will fall to the “Feast of The Eyes!”

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16) NLT

So we need to overcome the weeds in our Spiritual garden by first recognizing that they are even there. And how do we do that?  Well, how do we feel after we’ve done something totally against our godly beliefs? Pretty bad right? If not, maybe we better question if we really are God’s child for apathy is the opposite of love. If we love someone we truly want to please them, not cause them pain.

What about toxic relationships? Following a raucous, sinful crowd is being like a sheep who plunges to his death because he followed the leader over a cliff. Sheep are dumb animals! You shouldn’t be! As painful as it is to say goodbye to a close but unrepentant friend, if they are dragging you into a pit, for your own safety, let go and fervently pray for them.

And the best advice: don’t allow temptation to grow in the first place! If you prevent pesky weeds from growing, you won’t have to pull them later. Use the best Spiritual Weed Killer there is: Scripture! Cultivate appropriate Bible verses deep inside your mind and soul and it will absolutely act as weed preventer!