Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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      A-ZE is for Evil Parents and Rotten KidsI present you Jimmy Kimmel's annual "I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy" video montage. It's an artful mixture of cruelty, humor, and ghastly awe. My favorite is Drawer Boy. Now there's an ax murderer in the making.Which is your favorite?
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      Welcome Diane! Is there a story behind your book Winter Wonderland?I grew up in Michigan and we’d often go to Detroit for special events; the Tiger ball games, plays at the Fisher Theatre and to shop at Hudson’s Department Store. I wanted to capture some of the past, as Detroit has had a lot of hard knocks lately. I decided on the year 1951when so much was h […]
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      On October 22, 2014, A Miracle of Hope won Clash of the Titles' Laurel Award. During a six-week period, the novel's first 3,500 words were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined it to be the worthiest to receive the 2014 Laurel Award.Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt congratulations to author Ruth Reid for her com […]
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      As I stated last week, November is NANOWRIMO. I'm working on the next Stones Creek novel. It's the story of Chloe, Noah Preston's sister. She comes to Stones Creek with her two children. If you would like to read her pre-story simply subscribe to Sophie's Special Emails. No more than twice a month will you receive an email with special co […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Author Archive

Final Frodo Farewell

Posted by elainemcooper on December 21, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

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With so many farewells this last week at Reflections In Hindsight, it’s beginning to feel like the ending of The Lord of the Rings trilogy movie.

Remember the multiple finales? I’ll recap for you:

• Frodo recovers and is reunited with his friends.

• Arwen comes back from the brink of death and is reunited with Aragorn just as he is crowned king.

• Sam is reunited with Rosie and—voila!—they have a family!

• Frodo finishes his book (a HUGE accomplishment as any writer knows!).

• And just when you think you couldn’t go through one more tissue…Frodo and Bilbo both sail away into eternity.

Oh my word, I couldn’t take any more sadness! I looked like I’d been to a funeral when that third movie ended.

Well, I am also saddened by this, the last post, at Reflections. It has been an amazing journey for several writers as we’ve come together from various backgrounds to reflect on so many aspects of writing and life. It has been a joy.

But, alas, it is time to move on as our writing paths have been drawn into numerous lanes of opportunity at other blogs and in other ventures. It is time to bid a final farewell to Reflections In Hindsight. Just as Frodo finally sailed into the Havens, we are doing our last journey together today.

Unlike Frodo, however, you can still find us in other venues to follow our writing. Please keep in touch.

You can reach me at several group blogs:

http://authorculture.blogspot.com

http://colonialquills.blogspot.com

http://www.novelpastimes.com

I’ll be there at least once a month at each blog.

You can also follow me on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/elainemariecooper

http://www.facebook.com/ElaineMarieCooperAuthor

At the end of the book The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein, Frodo prepares to leave with Gandalf into eternity (the “Havens”). Gandalf speaks to the three friends left behind: “Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

Posted in Authors | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The Sunday Book Review: It Really IS a Wonderful Life, Linda Rondeau

Posted by elainemcooper on December 16, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Dorie Fitzgerald’s life is a whirlwind of grief, and there seems to be no end to the downpour of discouragement. Widowed a year ago when her husband was killed at war, Dorie not only has to cope with his loss, but has moved back to small town Midville where the only thing deeper than the snow is her troubles. Raising two youngsters on her own is the frosting on her fear of failure.

The young widow is determined to stay in this Adirondack community where her parents live. But after four months of living in the frozen small town without finding work, she is feeling hopeless.

A small blurb in the local paper, however, draws her attention: The Midville players are putting out a casting call for their upcoming production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Perhaps circulating with new townsfolk would open up opportunities for employment, Dorie hopes. Little does she know the real drama that will ensue.

It Really IS a Wonderful Life is so rich with believable dialogue, family dynamics, and interesting characters, that I was quickly drawn into this appealing tale of the woman in mourning who struggles to survive in a new life not of her choosing. Dorie is such a sympathetic and appealing character who, more than once, brought me to tears.

Author Linda Rondeau’s prose was so descriptive and pleasant: “…pretense fouling the air like over-sprayed perfume;” “the frigid air biting like a hundred mosquitoes:” and my favorite line of all, “Perhaps that’s where trust was born, in the belly of the storm.” Rondeau’s words draw you in like the smell of cider on a chilly afternoon. Lovely.

I highly recommend this romantic novel at Christmastime, or any time of year.

I give this book, 5 out of 5 Reflections

Author Bio:
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight), LINDA RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community. Readers may visit her web site at http://www.lindarondeau.com.

Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, Trestle Press, the first in a dystopian trilogy, is a futuristic political now available in ebook on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Also with Trestle Press is her serial story, Rains of Terror which can be found on Amazon.Com. A Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is now available through Amazon.com, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Available at Amazon here.

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Joy In The Mourning

Posted by elainemcooper on December 14, 2012

(I wrote this for our church’s Advent book of Devotions, with the focus on “Joy”)

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Christmas Joy - Christmas Wallpaper

There is a section of Psalm 30, verse 5 that reads, “… weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (KJV)

Well, the morning of October 20, 2003, there was much weeping as I sat by my dying daughter’s bedside, but there was little joy in my heart. And as she took her last breath, the weeping continued despite that fact that it was dawn.

So where was my joy? Our family had endured the heartache of her illness for nearly two years, praying for healing, hoping against hope that the brain tumor would leave my daughter’s body. Instead, it took her life. I doubted that I would ever feel joy again.

Following her death, I mostly felt numb. There were times when I was angry, times when I shouted at God or others. I understood in my head that my daughter’s life was in His hands—after all, He was her Creator—but my heart rebelled against the loss.

On my drive home from work months later, crying the whole way, I yelled at God. “This is just too hard!” I did not hear an audible voice, but it might as well have been. The voice of the Holy Spirit enveloped my heart and soul with His message to me: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I felt as if a spiritual two-by-four had hit me between the eyes. It was not painful, but powerful in its impact. I suddenly knew that God’s promise was true: His grace was sufficient for me. I never questioned Him again.

Was I suddenly giddy and happy, bursting into “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart…” like my children sang when they were little? Hardly. Forgive my bluntness, but I find that song so annoying! Mostly because it equates God’s joy into a sort of fake, upbeat happiness with a smile plastered on one’s face. Is that what joy is?

When I read God’s Word, joy takes on a whole new meaning. It is not the absence of heartache and difficulty but the assurance of God’s love and grace. Surprisingly, it is often connected with grief, mourning, and trials.

King David wrote these words right after pleading for deliverance from the enemies who were seeking to kill him:

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.” (Psalm 5:11 NIV)

Salvation through Jesus Christ brings true joy, as was experienced by Paul’s jailer after he had accepted Christ:

“The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them. He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.” (Acts 16: 34 NIV)

Trusting in God’s strength and comfort brings joy:

“That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)

The Lord’s presence fills us with His eternal view:

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalms 16:11 NIV)

The most difficult of circumstances can lead to greater joy:

“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126: 5-6 NIV)

Terrible trials can lead to an outpouring of compassion for others:

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV)

And finally, His Word promises renewed laughter, filled with the joy of the Lord.

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21 NIV)

So did my daughter’s death bring a giddy happiness to my heart? No. But despite the pain, the trials, the loss, I have learned that there is joy in the mourning.

May your Christmas be Blessed with HIS JOY!

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Christmas Cotton Balls

Posted by elainemcooper on December 7, 2012

Note from Author Elaine Marie Cooper: This is a re-post from last year. I received so many positive responses, I wanted to share it with you again. I hope this story blesses you.

DSCN1154

When I was little, my favorite Christmas tradition was the cotton balls. Now these fluffy white puffs might not seem significant in and of themselves. But my mother wisely used them to represent a tangible that you could not see: doing kind deeds for others.

Our instructions were simple enough. During Advent, each of us six children was advised to take a cotton ball every time we did something nice for someone else. Without anyone else’s knowledge, we were instructed to put one cotton ball into a jar. But it was very important that no one see us, Mom said. Only God would know.

I still remember looking over my shoulder more than once to see if anyone was looking. With five older siblings, that was not an easy task. Someone was usually hanging around, spying!

As the days leading up to Christmas slipped by, the jar of cotton balls slowly began to fill up. I would stare in wonder at the growing mound, amazed that my ornery siblings and I had managed to do that many kind deeds! It was probably a good thing there were so many of us. :)

But grow it did and by Christmas Eve, the jar was usually quite full.

DSCN1147

And then came the best part. Mom removed all the cotton balls that evening and set them in our manger. Then, with eyes wide with wonder, we watched her place the ceramic baby Jesus right on top of the cotton mound. We now had given our gift to Him so that he would be warm in the cold stable.

Recalling this scene brings tears to my eyes as I think of the wisdom my Mom had in showing that what we do out of love, we are doing for Christ. Our sacrifice for others is a warm gift to His heart.

This Christmas season, give a gift of the heart to someone, and share His love. He is the ultimate gift.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted in Encouragment, Family | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Power Steering, God’s Way

Posted by elainemcooper on November 30, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

“It’s going to cost HOW MUCH?”

The poor mechanic on the other end of the phone must have trembled at my shrill voice.

His hesitantly-spoken, high-priced answer left me speechless.

So much for Christmas shopping plans.

It was bad enough that the power steering on my six-year-old car needed a major repair, but this same vehicle had been in the shop for big repairs three previous times in the last two months. Of course, my computer laptop battery decided to quit at the same time as the steering mechanism in my car broke down. My outlook on dealing with mechanical disasters was edging toward despair.

When would the repairs end? Not likely any time soon since we live in such an imperfect world.

I admit, I was depressed. I had plans to shop.

But God soon reminded me Who exactly is in control. I had to give up my will to His because, not only do I not have a choice, but it is foolish to dwell on my desires when He clearly had another plan for this Christmas.

And was this Christmas really going to be empty of gifts? Going through the checklist for the grandkids, are things really that bad?

Jammies? Check.

Jackets?  Check.

Books? Check.

Toys? Check.

Still working on the afghans…Check.

There are kids in this country and around the world that may receive nothing this Christmas.

Reality…check.

Putting aside my manic desire to shop for so much more—well-intentioned as it may be—I submitted to God’s Power. I rested in His plans.

I’m so glad HE controls my steering.

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Posted in Encouragment | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Colonial American Thanksgiving

Posted by elainemcooper on November 23, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

(This Thanksgiving blog ran last year at Reflections; HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all!)

When we sit down at our Thanksgiving meal this month, we’ll be recreating a celebration that is as old as our country: sharing food with loved ones while thanking the God Who has provided the abundance.

While we understand that the First Thanksgiving was celebrated here by the Mayflower survivors along with the Indians that had helped them, the first official proclamation that was decreed to celebrate such a holiday was in 1777. It was a recommendation to the thirteen states by the Continental Congress to set aside December 18th that year as a “solemn thanksgiving” to celebrate the first major victory for the Continental troops in the American Revolution: the Battle of Saratoga.

The Battle of Saratoga has significant interest for my own family since one of my ancestors was a soldier there. But he was not on the American side—he was a British Redcoat. After surrendering to the Americans, he escaped the line of prisoners and somehow made his way to Massachusetts and into the life and heart of my fourth great-grandmother. *SIGH* L’amour!

This family story was the inspiration for my Deer Run Saga that begins in 1777 with The Road to Deer Run. There is an elaborate Thanksgiving meal scene in this novel as well as in the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run. An 1800 Thanksgiving dinner makes an appearance in Book 3, The Legacy of Deer Run.

Some may wonder why such detail was afforded this holiday in my novels set in Massachusetts, while Christmas is barely mentioned. The reason is simple: Thanksgiving was the major holiday in the northern colonies, with Christmas considered nothing more special than a workday. According to Jack Larkin in his book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, “The Puritan founders of New England and the Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania had deliberately abolished (holidays) as unscriptural.”

But Thanksgiving was begun as a way to give thanks to God for His provision. It usually began with attending church services in the morning, followed by an elaborate feast in the afternoon. The food for this meal was prepared for weeks in advance.

Since the individual state governors chose their own date to celebrate the holiday, it was theoretically possible for some family members—if they lived in close proximity—to celebrate multiple Thanksgiving meals with family and friends across state borders. The dates chosen could be anywhere from October to December, according to Dennis Picard, Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Chicken was most commonly served, said Picard, as it was readily available in the barnyard. And the oldest woman in the home had the honor of slicing the fowl for dinner.

Pies were made well in advance of the holiday and stored and became frozen in dresser drawers in unheated rooms.

“I like the idea of pulling out a dresser drawer for, say, a clean pair of socks, and finding mince pies,” said Picard, tongue in cheek.

Indeed!

Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving!

Posted in History - American Revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour with Elaine Marie Cooper

Posted by elainemcooper on November 12, 2012

Merry Christmas, dear readers! I am thrilled to be a part of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, where we promote the books that we hope will bless you.

This blog post will tell you about my Deer Run Saga, a historical romance series that focuses on two generations of a family in New England, beginning in the American Revolution. The first two books in this series have received numerous awards, including the nomination of The Road to Deer Run as Finalist in the 2011 Grace Awards contest. I am delighted and honored to introduce you to my three books:

The Road to Deer Run (Book 1)
British soldier Daniel Lowe has been captured after being wounded at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. He escapes from his captors and hides in the woods to die, only to be rescued by Mary Thomsen, an American farmwoman.

As his festering wound heals, his gratitude to the woman who saved him transforms into love. But as an enemy soldier, he is endangering Mary, as well as her widowed mother and little sister.

As he desperately tries to hide his identity, he is faced with numerous obstacles: exposure by the local Patriots, an attack by a British deserter intent on assaulting Mary; and his worst nemesis, the American soldier who loves Mary and figures out who Daniel really is.

The Road to Deer Run won Honorable Mention in Romance at the 2011 Los Angeles Book Festival, Finalist in Religious Fiction at the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and won Best Romantic Excerpt in the online contest, Clash of the Titles.

What makes The Road to Deer Run perfect for Christmas reading and gifting?
For readers looking for well-researched historical fiction, they should consider this novel filled with romance as well as action and adventure. As the first book of the saga, it sets the scene for the series, which readers repeatedly tell me keeps them up late at night with the intensity of the plot. And the love story amidst the spiritual growth in the characters will draw readers into the tale of Daniel and Mary. A perfect read while cuddling with your Christmas sweetheart—or dreaming of finding a sweetheart under your tree!

The Promise of Deer Run (Book 2)

America’s war for freedom from England has been over for seven years, but the wounds of that conflict still plague the minds and hearts of the residents of Deer Run.

Young American veteran Nathaniel Stearns, suffering from the memories of war that haunt him in the night, has withdrawn to a life of isolation. He still awaits his father who never returned from the war—a mystery that haunts him.

He is brought out of his self-imposed exile by a near-tragedy in the woods that brings him face-to-face with nineteen-year-old Sarah Thomsen, someone he had long admired but he assumed had eyes for another. This chance encounter opens a crack into the door of his heart as mutual affection quickly blooms.

But slander and lies soon mar the budding romance, rendering both Sarah and Nathaniel wounded and untrusting as their faith in both their God and each other is shattered. Set in 1790 and filled with rich detail of the era, this book continues the story of the Thomsen and Lowe families as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the war that birthed the United States.

The Promise of Deer Run won Best Romance at the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival, and was a Finalist in Religious Fiction for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year contest.

What makes The Promise of Deer Run perfect for Christmas reading and gifting?
This is the perfect book for anyone that has a loved one that suffers from war-related post-traumatic stress. The healing and spiritual growth that occurs in the characters of Nathaniel and Sarah will bring inspiration to those seeking hope when the world seems dark. And the romance? It will set the heart fluttering! There is a surprise Christmas story in this book as well. Be sure to have your tissues handy. :)

The Legacy of Deer Run (Book 3)

In the year 1800, Danny Lowe makes weapons for the defense of America, still a fledgling nation. He also protects his heart from the allure of Susannah, a young woman who seems so far above his station in life that he cannot win her.

She fights her own war against loneliness and grief. Despite her finery and airs, Susannah is drawn to the young armory worker, who is distant yet disarming.

Love is the not the only entanglement. The nation’s enemies are afoot. They creep within the very walls where America’s defenses are being forged. Who are they? When will they strike? Who will survive their terrorism?

Intrigue of the heart and intrigue of the times are only part of this compelling story. This series finale is a gripping mix of romance and deception, faith and forgiveness, transgression and trial.

Janet Perez Eckles, author of Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta, says, “Each scene and episode sings with heart-tugging emotion, thought-provoking insights and lasting messages of hardship and pain turned to healing, forgiveness and triumph.”

What makes The Legacy of Deer Run perfect for Christmas reading and gifting? This novel focusing on the next generation of the Lowe family is the perfect conclusion for the series. But don’t assume that only romance is found in between these pages. This tale is filled with intrigue and tension, as well as unresolved situations in the Lowe family that lead to unexpected events for the family. This story is filled with forgiveness and redemption when it seems that none can be found. And my readers describe the romance as “sizzling!” I hope that this entire series can find it’s way to your Christmas wish list as you learn so much about the early days of America.

* * * * *

The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour runs through to December 22nd. Don’t forget to check out all the other authors on the tour. Below is a link telling you who all the authors on the tour are and what dates they will be on their own blog sharing about their novels.

http://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/grace-filled-christmas-blog-tour-2012/

Praying for a blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year to all my readers!!!

Elaine Marie Cooper is a writer of historical fiction as well as devotions and freelance stories for magazines. You can read one of her devotions in Edie Melson’s Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home. Look for her upcoming historical romance story called “The Tea Set” in I Choose You, a Christmas anthology releasing in Dec. 2012 through OakTara Publishers.

Posted in Author Marketing, History - American Revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Writing Challenge: Group Anthology

Posted by elainemcooper on November 9, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

I have done all kinds of writing—novels, short stories, magazine and newspaper articles, poetry, blogging, devotions—you name it and my pen has likely visited that format. But this week, I participated in a brand new venture: A group anthology.

As a writer of Colonial American fiction, I belong to a group known as Colonial American Christian Writers. About two dozen writers interested in Early America participate in this group, where we share research, support, and enthusiasm for each other’s work. Our fearless leader, Carrie Fancett Pagels, has also started a blog called Colonial Quills, which features a variety of posts including virtual tea parties for book launches (sorry, you must provide your own tea!), research info, and other pieces of interesting facts with that consistent theme of Early America. I love participating with this great group of ladies. You may have even read some of their novels. ;-)

This year our creative Carrie came up with an idea that has apparently been her dream for sometime: An anthology of chapters from several different authors who are following the same central story line with recurring characters. Talk about both intriguing and challenging. At first I thought, “How fun!” but then I panicked.

How was I going to do this?

The first thing that had to be established was the year and location. It turned out to be in the South (I write about New England) and set in 1753 (a year I had not yet researched).

Gulp! What did I get myself into??

Well, it turned out to be a challenge but really enjoyable. I was already used to researching history, so I just had to search out information about the particular time and place. In doing so, I found some treasure chests of information. I, personally, learned more about the important role (then) Major George Washington had in the initiation of the French and Indian War. He was all of twenty-one years old at the time.

With Carrie setting up the central location in a fort called “Providence,” she introduced her characters that would be recurring in the chapters that each of us writers would add to the anthology. It has been a cooperative and amazing effort and I hope that this innovative work blesses our readers!

The first segment written by Carrie ran on Monday, November 5, and subsequent chapters will run every Monday through the holidays. If you’d like to read the first segment, here is the link: Part One of “A Forted Frontier Holiday.”

If you sign up for the Colonial Quills blog, the chapters will be e-mailed directly to your in-box and you will not miss a single episode.

Click here for the page at Colonial Quills with the schedule, including titles of chapters and the authors.

Hope you enjoy our group’s effort to produce Colonial Quills’ first ever Christmas anthology!

Posted in Authors, History - American Revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Laughter—God’s Gift

Posted by elainemcooper on November 2, 2012

By Elaine Marie Cooper

Author’s Note: This blog posted over a year ago on another site. With all the stress of elections and storms, I pray that you can take a breather and find a moment to smile. Perhaps even laugh. :)

When I was a little girl (but old enough to read) my brothers, sisters, and I looked at a wedding invitation sent to our parents. As each of us read the beautiful font announcing the happy occasion, we each fell on the floor laughing. So what did we find so funny? It read:

Announcing the marriage of Onessima Boelke to Valentine Putz.

We looked at each other through our jovial tears, and said, “She’s going to become Onessima Putz!” Peals of laughter ensued. We even managed to draw my mom into the humor of it. That, in and of itself, was the best part since Mom was not easily humored. It was a moment of pure hilarity that I have never forgotten, mostly because Mom did not often laugh.

But that memory always reminds me of the importance of having a sense of humor—even when circumstances are difficult.

Anyone who has read any of my posts or interviews before knows that my husband Steve and I have endured major stress in our lives. Yet somehow, laughter has become a welcome friend even in the most dire of circumstances.

I will never forget an evening at home when my daughter was ill with a brain tumor. While the setting was not funny in the slightest, what ensued still makes us laugh.

We often read chapters from James Herriott’s books to our daughter Bethany since she really enjoyed the tales of the Yorkshire veterinarian. His stories described his large animal practice during the 1930’s through the ‘60’s. This one particular evening, my elderly mom was reading a chapter to Bethany and the story concerned artificial insemination in cows. So picture a woman in her 80’s reading to a cancer patient about a sensitive topic not often discussed in such detail. I think we all nearly landed on the floor, weak from laughter, listening to my very proper mother trying to get through the reading. And yes, even Mom ended up laughing!

It was a moment of joy that relieved our stress.

So isn’t that what humor is? The opposite side of pain that relieves the tension in our everyday lives?

Consider some of the physical benefits of laughing (courtesy of http://www.humor-laughter.com):

- Lowers the levels of cortisol in our body. Cortisol suppresses our immune system

- Acts like exercise in stimulating our hearts and lungs. Improves our breathing capacity

- 15 minutes of laughter equals the benefit of 2 hours of sleep

- Laughing for 15 seconds adds two days to your life span (I have NO idea how they figured that one out)

- Laughter causes endorphins to release into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise (I, personally, would prefer to laugh than exercise—but that’s another topic).

A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore states that laughter along with an active sense of humor may help protect you against a heart attack. They quote the old saying of “laughter being the best medicine.”

So what does the Bible say about laughter? Well, it first appears in Genesis. Both Abraham and Sarah are caught laughing when God promises them a child in their old age.

Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself. “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17 NIV)

Then the Lord appears in a visible form to Abraham and, within earshot of Sarah, promises that by next year at this time, Sarah will give birth to a son.

“Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of child bearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:10-12 NIV)

Notice that this particular laughter was at the irony of the situation. It was also rooted in pain, as both Abraham and Sarah had long hoped and prayed for a child. I suppose they laughed so they wouldn’t cry.

But as God is in the business of keeping His promises, Sarah did give birth to a son in her old age. The laughter this time was joyful.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”(Genesis 21:6 NIV)

It was a release of heartfelt happiness born after so many years of barrenness. I’m sure if she was able, she would have rolled on the floor laughing. But you never know—any 90-year-old woman who could give birth may have been doing an out-and-out belly laugh!

Laughter in the Bible is often described in its contrast to painful situations. In Psalms126:2, it describes former captives who are now released, returning to their home and filled with mirth:

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”(NIV)

Again in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, laughter is side-by-side with pain:

- “Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” (Proverbs 14:13 NIV)

- “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:2 NIV)

- “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)

I cannot imagine getting through the difficulties in life without the comfort of humor. It can be found in even the most desperate of situations, if we pray for the eyes to see it. I thank God for His joy.

So when was the last time you were consumed with laughter? Life is filled with stress and certainly there are times when laughing is inappropriate. (Think of a certain candidate in a recent vice-presidential debate…) But could it be that humor is a gift to us when times are tough? When we are beset with financial worries, concerns about our children, fears over a loved ones’ health—maybe God’s remedy to help us cope is as close as a giggle, a smile, a laugh-filled moment.

If anyone wants to borrow the hilarious movie, “While You Were Sleeping,” you can. I own two copies. I have watched the first one so often, I was afraid I’d wear the DVD out so I bought another when it was on sale. I know I can always count on a good laugh when I watch it.

May your life be filled with joyful laughter.

photo credit: maureen_sill via photopin cc

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On This Day in 1774—The Formation of the Minute Men

Posted by elainemcooper on October 26, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Statue memorializing the Minute Men in Concord, MA

On this day in 1774, the patriot group known as the Minute Men was formed in Massachusetts. It was a desperate move by a group of determined colonists. By joining this fighting force, these Americans knew they risked their lives. If they did not join, they risked losing their freedoms.

War was coming in 1774 and most of the citizens of Massachusetts knew it.

The Sons of Liberty, a radical group of rebels conspiring against British authority in Boston, had tossed tax-laden tea into the harbor the previous December. Patriot leaders were holding secret meetings throughout the Bay Colony. Rumors were rampant that the British were seeking out supplies of armaments and gunpowder. Tension was everywhere.

There was already a trained militia in Massachusetts, but some of their officers were British sympathizers known as Tories. That would never do if patriots were pushed to insurrection. And the pushing was dangerously close to a political precipice.

So on October 26, 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts formed their own unit—a band of fighting men that would be prepared. These Minute Men were established with known patriot leaders throughout the colony.

Every town gathered their able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 to meet three times a week to practice drills in preparation for war. Each town—and there were dozens of small towns around Massachusetts—trained on their own, but there was a network of communication from Charlestown to the west of Boston throughout the countryside. The towns were ready for war—and that battle cry came on April 19, 1775 when Paul Revere came racing on his horse down Concord Road from Charlestown with that famous message: “To arms! The regulars are coming!”

The mighty British Army (a thousand strong) marched through the night from Boston to Concord. Their mission? Find and confiscate a supply of arms and gunpowder that intelligence had told them were hidden in Concord.

Church bells tolled the news to awaken slumbering soldiers that had not already heard the cry of Paul Revere. It was what the Minute Men had prepared for. By the end of that day, a band of some 2,000 strong patriots had turned out to show the British that the Americans were serious about wanting freedom from British tyranny.

As the bleary-eyed Minute Man oiled their muskets and bid their families farewell, no one knew the full ramifications of this midnight call. It was the beginning of the eight-year-long American Revolution.

In a letter to General Harvey in London dated April 20, 1775, Lord Hugh Percy, British Brigadier General involved in the attack against the Minute Men on April 19, wrote this:

“Whoever looks upon them (the colonists) as an irregular mob will find himself much mistaken. They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers against the Indians and Canadians;…You may depend upon it that as the Rebels have now had time to prepare, they are determined to go through with it, nor will the insurrection turn out so despicable as it is perhaps imagined at home. For my part, I never believed, I confess, that they would have attacked the King’s troops, or have had the perseverance I found in them yesterday.” (History of the Town of Arlington, Massachusetts by Benjamin and William Butter)

It was preparation that made all the difference; seeing the potential danger ahead and being ready to defend against the enemy.

The same is true in our spiritual walk—anticipating battles and always being ready to defend our faith. Being Minute Men (and women!), ready to arm ourselves with the sword of the spirit, His Holy Word.

“In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1Peter 3:15-16 NIV)

Posted in History - American Revolution | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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