Reflections In Hindsight

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

  • Ephesians 4:29

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    • Cinema Saturday-- The 41 Most Unexpected Cat Jumps of All Time
      Why do jumping cats freak us out so much? And why do we laugh so hard at people who are freaking out?I'm one of those awkward laughers--someone who laughs at inappropriate times, such as when my husband does the splits on an icy sidewalk or when my child runs smack-dab into a doorpost. Unfortunately, compassion is not my go-to emotion. I do eventually f […]
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    • Iowa Author D M Webb
      Welcome to the Book Loft, Daphne! Is there a story behind your novel, Mississippi Nights?Mississippi Nights actually began as a story titled One Big Happy Family that I started writing when I was 14. Of course, I was too young to understand life. So the story sat in a box for a long time. Then one day, after many years and many life trials, I remembered the […]
    • Mississippi Nights by D M Webb
      Two brothers, one death—the bond of brotherhood faces its greatest challenge against resentment and guilt.Can the love between two brothers eventually win against pain and guilt?When Firefighter David Boyette’s fiancée perishes in a car fire, he blames his brother, Sgt. Jeremy Boyette, for her death.Three years later, David returns home with a dark and devas […]
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      I'm thrilled to welcome mult-published authors David & Diane Munson to the Barn Door Book Loft! I've read their books and enjoy the plots and their talent! David, Diane: Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?It’s interesting that you ask that question. Facing Justice was our debut novel and the publisher as […]
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    • July New Releases Clash
      Here at Clash of the Titles, the end of another month calls for the beginning of another Clash.We present to you five brand new novels for your perusing pleasure. Which would you pick up first? Let us know by casting your vote below! Check back here on Thursday, September 4th for the contest results.Big secrets never stay hidden, and it’s the darkest ones th […]
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      Author Ann Gaylia O'Barr visits today!She brings with her, in the form of her latest novel, all her experience as a Foreign Service officer in the turbulent Middle East. Tender Shadows is one of seven such novels and will appeal to lovers of foreign lands, culture, adventure, and romance.PURCHASEAmazonAbout Tender Shadows:When Beth Wilhite’s U.S. State […]
    • "A Place in His Heart," a New World Romance!
      Today's featured novel,A PLACE IN HIS HEART is a historical romance authored by Rebecca DeMarino. It's her debut novel and book one of The Southold Chronicles."I hope my readers find pure entertainment! I hope they enjoy the love story, with all of the ups and downs of Mary and Barnabas. I hope they get lost in a time period that was so far di […]
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    • Taking A Break
      If you are a regular reader you'll know I didn't post last week. We had just gotten home from vacation. Yellowstone National Park is fantastic. You know how things go when you get back. Well, that was the way it was for me. Add in an unplanned dental event and an 8 hour round trip to Chicago for a TV interview about Seeing The Life and you can prob […]
    • Sin Still Makes You Stupid and Your Stupidity  Ripples, Floods, or Tsunamis  
      A couple of years ago I wrote posts entitled Sin Makes You Stupid and The Ripple Effect. It's one of those truths that seem to be forgotten or glossed over. It's a truth we should be aware of and watch for within ourselves and others. The stupidity of sinning overflows into the lives of others. The consequences to ourselves is often increased expon […]
    • What's Next?
      Seeing The Life is off to a great start. It is garnering 5 star reviews and good publicity. Rhubarb Fest this year was good, even though I don't eat rhubarb. I left at noon on Saturday when the radar showed rain coming. I didn't want the books I had to get wet.So, what's next? I keep getting asked that question. When's your next book comi […]
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    • Lindsey Paley's new book, The Wish List Addiction
      Now, how can you not stop and ask about this intriguing title?Lisa: Lindsey, tell us about the book.Lindsey: Lots of us make lists - some of us, like Rebecca, draw up lots of different lists. There's the daily 'To Do' list, the carefully researched 'Wish List' and the 'Bucket List'. They are a safety net for our overloaded […]
    • Susan Rush's Just Over the Horizon - great story!
      Just Over the HorizonSusan Rush c. July, 2014 Astrea PressInspirational fiction e-book, 250 pp $3.99 Buy on Amazonalso on Kobo From the Publisher: While grieving the death of her eccentric nana, Sarah discovers an unexpected gift. She soon grows dependent on the heirloom, a little box, for comfort and guidance. Feeling restless and needing a change, Sarah ac […]
    • Get on Board and Stay on Board by Pearl Nsiah-Kumi
      My friend Pearl Nsiah-Kumi, who is a multi-published Christian Author, has put together an inspiring book for us, Get On Board and Stay On Board. It is a collection of poems, short articles and short Bible studies based on scripture, to encourage non-Christians to place their faith in Jesus, and also to support Christians to have a closer relationship with G […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: FLABBERGASTED BY RAY BLACKSTON
      From the moment I started this book by Ray Blackston I couldn’t put it down. I can’t attribute it to one particular thing but to a gift of combined talents that hooked me. These include his superb writing, keen observations, ability for humor, and a unique story telling style, all from a single man’s perspective.The main character, Jay, an investment broker […]
    • Book Review: Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel
      When Grace Runyan experiences the loss of her husband, she moves to escape her pain and her past. She rents a home in a small Michigan town next door to a seriously  ill man with a young son. Grace’s personal tragedy and hurts run deep. The  more we get to know her, the more secrets we learn about her. As she begins to care for the little boy, and finds hers […]
    • Book Giveaway: Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship
      Here's your chance to win a print or electronic copy of my book, Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained RelationshipHere's a bit more about the book.Mothers and daughters. In perhaps no other relationship are our hopes so high, and the dysfunction so disappointing. You feel locked into a hurtful relationship that you must deal with, and it' […]
  • BLOG NEWS

    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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Posts Tagged ‘Elaine Marie Cooper’

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 »

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 »

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)

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Tuesday Promotion in Motion with Eddie Jones: Dead Man’s Hand

Posted by elainemcooper on October 23, 2012

Today we welcome Eddie Jones to feature his Zonderkidz release, Dead Man’s Hand, the first book in the Caden Chronicles Series for kids ages 9-13. Welcome, Eddie!

Tell us about your upcoming release, Dead Man’s Hand, with Zondervan.

First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys, but we’re also getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.

Zonderkidz is a Christian publisher, so the paranormal aspect is surprising.

I added the paranormal aspect because I want parents and youth to struggle with eternal questions. We’ve created such a culture of blood-letting through books and movies involving vampires, zombies and survival contests, that the reality of death doesn’t carry the sting it once did. In high school my youngest son lost several friends to driving accidents. When another friend recently died, we asked how he felt and he replied, “I’m numb to it.” I fear that’s what we’re doing with our youth: desensitizing them to the horrors of death. In Dead Man’s Hand, Nick and his family discuss spirits and ghosts and the afterlife because I think it’s important for teens to wrestle with these questions before they’re tossed from a car and found dead on a slab of wet pavement.

You’re passionate about getting boys interested in books. Why do you feel it’s so important to get boys reading fiction at an early age?

I fear we’re on the verge of losing the male reader. I don’t mean men and boys won’t learn to read: they will. But the percentage male who read for leisure continues to shrink and this could be devastating for our country. We can’t lose half our population and expect America to compete on a global level. Reading forces the mind to create. With video the scene and characters are received passively by the brain. There is very little interaction; it’s all virtual stimulation, which is different from creation. When you read, you add your furniture to the scene, dress the characters, add elements not mentioned by the author. This is why readers so often complain, “the movie was nothing like the book.” It’s not, because the book is your book. The author crafted the outline of the set but each reader brings their emotions and expectations to that book, changing it forever.

In general, boys would rather get their information and entertainment visually. This is one reason books have such a tough time competing for male readers. It can take weeks to read a book, even one as short as Dead Man’s Hand. Meantime, that same story can be shown as a movie in under two hours. So in one sense the allure of visual gratification is robbing future generations of our ability to solve problems. I believe Americans only posses one true gift, creativity, and it’s a gift from God. Other nations build things cheaper and with fewer flaws. They work longer hours for less pay. But the thing that has always set America apart is our Yankee ingenuity. We have always been able to solve our way out of problems. That comes directly from our ability to create solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate. If we lose male readers and fail to develop that creative connections necessary for the brain to conceive of alternatives, then we will lose our position as the world’s leader.

What advice would you offer to parents to get their children interested in reading at a young age?

Watch for clues. If your child shows any interest in reading, reward the activity with trips to book fairs. I remember in grade school how excited I got when we were allowed to order books. All we had to do was check a box, (or so I thought), and wham! A few weeks later boxes of books showed up and the teacher began dealing them to the students. I didn’t learn until later my parents had mailed the school money for those books. I still have most of them.

But not all children like reading and you can create an anti-reading environment if you push too hard. An alternative for boys are comic books, graphic novels, or simply cartoon books. I read a lot of Charlie Brown cartoon books and still remember the plot: Lucy has the football. Charlie wants to kick the ball. Lucy promises she will hold the ball in place but at the last moment… We know this story because it’s repeated, not in a novel, but in a cartoon.

You’re writing for children right now with Zondervan. Besides the upcoming Cadence Chronicles Series, what are your dreams for your writing future?

Each day I walk around my yard reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This is my conversational time with God. Part of that prayer time is me putting on the armor of God. When I’m about halfway fitted out I say, “Lord place across my chest your breastplate of righteousness that my thought may be pure, honorable and good and my dreams secure: my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, writing a best selling novel and surfing reef breaks.” Beyond that I don’t have any grand writing goals.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write devotions, don’t focus on the praise, book sales and reviews. Forget about trying to find an agent and editor. Once you’re successful, they’ll find you. Explore the wounds in your life and minister to others through your writing. If God allowed you to be hurt, you can speak to that with authority. The rest of us, cannot. Ask yourself where your passions lie. I love surfing. If I could do anything, be anywhere, I’d be in a hut on a beach surfing a point break alone. I love playing and hate work. This is reflected in the types of books I write. I love pulling for the underdog, this comes out in the ministry God gave me. Only you can write the stories God dropped in your lap and if you do not, they will die.

Where can we find out more about you?

Please come find me on http://www.Eddiejones.org.

Author Bio:
Eddie Jones is the author of eleven books and over 100 articles. He also serves as Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Christian Writers’ Conference, and his YA novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult Fiction. He is also a writing instructor and cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. His He Said, She Said devotional column appears on ChristianDevotions.US. His humorous romantic suspense, Bahama Breeze remains a “blessed seller.” When he’s not writing or teaching at writers’ conferences, Eddie can be found surfing in Costa Rica or some other tropical locale.

Posted in Author Spotlight | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hero With A Hook

Posted by elainemcooper on October 19, 2012

Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper

Kellie Doffin, Foundation Assistant and Volunteer Coordinator at CFI, with just a few of Janet’s afghans.

Some heroes carry weapons of protection. Others may wield tools to put out fires or bring healing to the sick. But heroes like Janet Sandberg wield another kind of implement—a crochet hook to produce comfort for those in need.

There’s no Olympic gold medallion for heroes like Janet. There’s just the gratitude of the dozens of frightened children in foster care and domestic shelters that have received one of her beautifully wrought afghans. When they cuddle up in the warmth of her blankets, her little recipients can feel the love of a woman who reaches out to them anonymously with God’s love. And they can know that they have been prayed for.

I first met Janet several years ago at church. A quiet, unassuming lady, her sweet spirit is reflected in a quick smile that lights up a conversation. We met in response to my request to start a “Crochet and Pray” group, where we could gather once a month to crochet for those in need, while praying for the future recipients of the crafted items. Janet was a little shy about doing a ministry that she enjoyed so much—she felt it shouldn’t be so much fun! I laughed.

What better way to serve the Lord than with joyful hands and hearts?

Through the years we occasionally cancelled our get-together. Sometimes it was bad weather, or sometimes I was traveling out-of-state to help with grandkids. But whether the group met formally or just chatted on the phone, Janet kept on with her ministry. If the women and I couldn’t meet, I could always count on a finished supply from Janet. I’d arrange to go pick up her gorgeous afghans and deliver them to Children and Families of Iowa (CFI), an organization to help families in distress.

A few years ago, Janet faced a scare with lung cancer. After she recovered her strength, she returned to her crocheting and provided countless blankets to frightened foster kids.

I recently delivered twelve afghans for children to CFI; a few of these homemade gifts are displayed in the photo above. I had picked them up from Janet and enjoyed a sweet visit with her and a cup of coffee. She looks so great…but she is battling cancer again.

Despite her exhaustion from treatments, she keeps wielding her tool of ministry—that crochet hook that keeps weaving strands of comfort. Janet doesn’t complain about her own discomfort. And she still has a room-brightening smile.

I guess heroes don’t focus on themselves. They keep looking for ways to serve others.

Maybe that’s the definition of a real hero.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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