Sunday, December 09, 2007


Today, I’m selfishly going to ask that if you are reading my blog, to pray for a dear friend of mine, Kristy Dykes. On Monday at 3:30, she will be having radiation for a stage 4 brain tumor. Unless God intervenes with a miracle, she only has a few weeks to live. Kristy is a multi-published author and speaker. She is a lively, vivacious red head with a willing heart to help others, and a member of the ACFW, (American Christian Fiction Writers). Her husband is asking for special prayer for her around the world, through many people networking in prayer at the time of her treatment which is Eastern Standard time. We will be praying for a miracle, but if God chooses not to heal her and take her home to Heaven, then Kristy is ready. But we are selfish and don’t want to lose her.

If you’d like to read Milton’s post about their journey, here is the link to Kristy’s blog. They’ve already had one healing last week when they prayed that she would be able to read or write after her surgery when they took out the mother tumor. It’s an incredible story.
Tonight I watched the Sanctuary Choir at my church perform the Christmas Festival and for the first time in 12 years, Idid not sing with them. While I did miss singing, I allowed myself to be bathed in the music of over 200 beautiful voices and the orchestra sharing the truth of God's love and the birth of Christ. The fact is, the Christmas story is a miracle that God's son would be born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit, to take on the sin of the world so that when we die we wouldn't be separated from God. No greater price was ever paid. Folks, God still does miracles in the world today, though we may not be aware of them. Monday, I will be praying for a miracle in Kristy's body, along with many others. Join me if you will, and I hope that soon I'll be able to post about her healing.
What does Christmas really mean to you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today we hiked at Kennesaw Battlefield on this spectacular fall day. On the drive home we passed the Confederate cemetary and then Marietta's Town Square where the military had just ended their tribute to our Armed Forces. Seeing the military band and men in uniform brought tears to my eyes as I comtemplated all those who served our country well. I thought of my brother Orville, known as OK to some and Ken to others. He passed away 4 years ago, one year almost to the day as my brother, Jerry (Gary). He was the most cheerful, out-going guy you'd ever want to meet, ready with a smile and ready to lend a hand. I remember when I was a little girl my mama cried every day because he was in Korea tucked into a fox hole at the tender age of 17. He lied and told them he was 18. I really didn't understand then, but later realized the danger he was in. There was much happiness when he returned. Years later, he suffered from post traumatic stress as a result of the war and confided to me about this one day after my mother died while driving to her apartment in his truck to go through her things. He told me that he would never get closure on that part of his life and was having terrible nightmares. I felt so sorry for him, but not nearly as bad as I did when he contracted lung cancer. Seeing him in the hospital, and me massaging his swollen feet, made the little girl in me want to crawl up in his arms and tell him everything would be all right, but I knew better.

So, I guess today, I'm remembering the dedication of our men in uniform. My other brother, Sam was in the National Guard. My father-in-law, Clarence, was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. My brother-in-law Michael MacIver, served in Viet Nam, my brother-in-law Garland Hardison, served in the US Air Force, and my son-in-law, Bobby Christine, served in Iraq and is a Jag with the Guard and was, at one time, a Green Beret. His father, Alex, came home gravely wounded from Viet Nam after serving 2 tours retiring as a Colonel with 3 Purple Hearts. He lost and arm and leg and suffers from a muscle disease presently.

Suffering, pain, heartache, separation of loved ones and so much more scars our nation and hearts today. But because of brave, willing men, we have freedom in this great United States today. I bow my head in prayer to honor each and every one. War is so terrible, but God's word says "That there will be wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end..." Matthew 24:6. These are merely the beginning of birth pangs...

If you've read this far, indulge me with the post of OK's obiturary that describes his military service with honor. One of the finest to have served our country well. What a hero!!

Orville Kenneth O’Neal
Funeral: 10 a.m. Monday at St. Ann Catholic Church, HWY 53, Gulfport

Orville Kenneth O’Neal, 70 of Gulfport, born March 1, 1933, died Thursday, March 27, 2003 in Meridian, MS.

Mr. O’Neal was a native and except for the 22 years of service in the United States Army was a life-long resident of the Coast. He was a loving husband, supportive father, an avid golfer, a great friend to many and a valuable community member. After retiring as a Master Sergeant from the Army, he worked in data management at Litton in Pascagoula. From there, he was drawn to the sea and earned his Captains License and worked on assignment to private yacht owners. He was an active member of St. Ann Catholic Church in Lizana.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Samuel and Maggie O’Neal; By a sister, Gail Hardison; and by a granddaughter, Michelle Williamson.
Survivors include his wife, Helen Fayard O’Neal; his three sons, Kenneth K. O’Neal, John J. O’Neal and his wife Arlene, and Joseph M. O’Neal and his wife Ronna; his two daughters, Louvine Williamson and her husband Michael, and Elizabeth Weiss and her husband William; his brothers Samuel O’Neal Jr from Gulfport, Jerry O’Neal and Sylvia from West Glacier, Montana, his sisters Doris P. Swarnowicz and her husband John from Gulfport, Dianne MacIver and her husband Mike, from Mobile, Ala, and Brenda Lott and her husband Bruce from Marietta, Georgia; and Ken’s thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Visitation will begin at 10 am St. Ann’s with a Recitation of the Rosary at 10:30 am with the Reverend Peter Mockler officiating. Celebration of the Funeral Mass will be at 11 am. Burial will be in Long Beach Cemetery.
Active pallbearers will be Kenneth O’Neal, Michael Williamson, John O’Neal, Joe O’Neal, William Weiss, and Jerry O’Neal.
The family prefers contributions to St. Ann’s Building Fund, 23529 Highway 53, Gulfport, MS, 39503.

Master Sergeant Orville K. O’Neal
United States Army Retired
January 15, 1950 to May 31, 1973

Master Sergeant Orville K. O’Neal had the privilege to serve with the following units throughout his distinguished military career:

1st Cavalry Division
2nd Infantry Division
2nd Armored Division
31st Infantry Division
United States Army Air Defense/Missile School

While assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea from 1950-1951, Sergeant O’Neal earned the “Combat Infantry Badge” for Courage, Valor and Duty. He served as an Army “Sniper” and “Platoon Sergeant” during the Korean War. Afterwards, he attended various schools within the Army. He specialized in electronics, ground radar and guidance systems. This training enabled him to become an instructor at the headquarters of the United States Army Air Defense School in Fort Bliss, Texas, from 1966-1973.

During his distinguished military career, Sgt. O’Neal earned the following medals and awards:

Two Army Commendations Medals with gold Leaf Clusters
National Defense Service Ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster
Five Good Conduct Medals
Korean Service Medal with Two Bronze Stars
United Nations Peace Keeping Service Medal for Korea
Korean War Service Medal
Two Presidential Unit Citations for 2nd Infantry Division

Sergeant O’Neal also received the following badges: expert rifle, AA artillery, Missile and Drivers badge.

He retired at the rank of Master Sergeant in May 1973.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Review of Sancturary


I really enjoyed this book! It was a page turner from the beginning which surprised me for a historical. It had just the right blend of suspense and romance to keep me reading well past by bedtime. It’s a story of heartbreak for Rachael Levin, a Jew during the 1740’s, when her family is murdered and her home burned to the ground by the French, who despises Jews and Huguenots. She escapes her village with Huguenot Pierre Dupree, her murdered fiancé’s brother. Pierre looses his heart to Rachael and vows to protect her from further harm and suffering, so he attempts to hide his feelings. The two of them find a safe place to stay called the Sanctuary but in order for them to repress suspicions, they must become man and wife.

The French Captain is hot on their trail and vows to have Rachael for himself and won’t stop at anything to get her.

Molly’s book held my interest to the very end and I’m sure that the second one in the series of Faith of Our Fathers will be equally compelling

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autumn Arrives

It's high time that Autumn arrived in Atlanta! It felt wonderful with 50 degrees this morning, especially after being in Alabama, Mississippi and New York with so much heat and humidity.

This is my front door wreath that I hung the first week in September while I waited for signs of fall. It's my favorite time of year.

Our leaves have barely started to change but with the cool nights ahead it won't be long now, and I will be inspired once again on my morning walks. These are the days of homemade soup, sweathers, caramels and candy corn, and great coffee on the patio, while listening to the wind blowing through my trees and the sweet birds singing their lovely music for my enjoyment and of course, a good book to read.

It's also a time of rememberence for me. My mother loved fall and she often visited me in October. I would take her to Garden Ridge and she would snap up as much fall foliage that our cart would hold to take back to her tiny apartment for floral arrangements. I can almost smell her chicken and dumplings that we insisted she make and her tea cakes, our family favorite. Mama had a sweet tooth and when we made afternoon coffee, she had to had a sweet roll or slice of pie to go with it. Later she would iron clothes on my screened porch until supper, surrounded by a pot of yellow mums that she always bought for me.

One of the things I look back on was being out of school for the day to go gather pecans at my brother Sam's farm. We worked hard all day to harvest them and it would be a little added income for our struggling household. This weekend I saw my brother Sam who is the oldest of mama's eight children. He's not in good health after a stroke and congestive heart failure and can barely talk. It was hard to see him this way, so small and weak. I remember him as my big, handsome brother who would pick me up and run with me if I was in trouble or mama was threatening a whippin'. He cried when I surprised him this past Saturday and I cried with him. Sad now to think life had come to this, where he has lots of time to ponder his life and the past, unable to speak.

Plants and trees go into their dormant stage, and I watch as squirrels gather nuts for the winter. We too, draw inward during the fall and winter staying inside our homes for the most part, as we pass the winter and nurture our souls with food, family and friendship, remembering.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Romance thrives once again like the star of Christmas shining in the East when two childhood lives are reunited many years later. Zach Kahler rekindles his friendship with Chloe Weaver after returning from NY to live in Kahlerville.

Zach is looking forward to leaving NY to run a newspaper in his hometown after big city life. Implusively, he adopts 6 year old twins after they pick his pocket. Once they arrive in Kahlerville, they reside in a boardinghouse where Chole is working until he can find a proper house to purchase. The children become a handful to manange, however, but he is endeared to them despite their antics. He remembers Chloe as he little girl whom he used to give his lunch to back in his school days and the affect she has on Zack, now that she is all grown-up, takes his breath away. He must first provide a stable home for the twins before getting involved with love.

Chloe was an abandoned, poor girl and grew up with a wounded heart. Jacob Barton is a demanding employer who is totally smitten with Chole and confesses his love to her. Her response is not what he wants to hear so he refuses to give up. He knows that she is attracted to Zach and makes it difficult for her to see him while working at the boardinghouse. She needs her job desparately and works hard, so she she does not upset his continual advances to court her.

A miracle of love awaits you in the festive Christmas story along with well developed subplots and compelling characters from other Texas Legacy series. This is a wonderful romance to put you in the mood for the holidays. DiAnn Mills creates another memorable love story that will warm your heart like a cup of hot chocolate. This would make a perfect gift to those on your list who love a historical told with vivid imagery as only DiAnn can do!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


A sure way to know that fall is on the way, is when the children return to school, and the commute to work is slowed by the volumes of school buses on the major streets of the city or county, depending on where you live. Even though I don’t have children at home, my grandchildren are returning to school. I love walking down the supply isle at the store to smell the crayons, glue and pencils then gaze at all the new notebooks and lunch boxes. Maggie is in the 3rd grade, Angelina is in the 1st and Peter is in preschool. Their backpacks are almost as large as they are. But aren’t they so cute?

There is something so magical about returning to school that I can still remember how I felt as a child. Maybe in a new dress and armed with my new supplies, we’d walk to school, (it was safe back then), meet our new classmates, and hopefully find a new best friend or keep an old one. Then we would be assigned a desk. How I loved that! A place for just my things made me so happy.

New books that the teacher would write our names in, brightly colored cut-outs on the walls and a clean slated blackboard with the teacher’s name written in big letters greeted us, making the atmosphere our “home away from home” comfortable and friendly. Our minds were filled with the bright hope of learning and reading time that took us to faraway places. Lunchtime was fun and they had the best yeast rolls ever in MS, and we would return to our rooms with full tummies but just a little bit sleepy. Recess was a blast, jumping rope, playing kick ball or swinging on the playground or hopscotch.
I was one of the odd children that loved walking home at 3:30 taking my time on the sidewalk, chatting with friends or my sister, Dianne, enjoying the slant of the afternoon sun and the smell of my mama’s sweet potatoes frying, and her standing at the door with the proverbial apron on, wearing brown pointed glasses with fake rhinestones, and her arms folded across her ample bosom. She was a lovely, steadfast vision of what it meant to be come back home at the end of the day for this little girl, and sweet memories of going back to school.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Staying Out of the Kitchen

I'm over this summer heat! Enough of the 103 degee Hotlanta temperatures. To prove it, here's my nice and tidy kitchen that I don't cook in when it's this hot. Oh's salads and more salads for me. But actually a Chic-fil-la milkshake sounds even better on a hot day! Since my power bill is outrageous already, I try to find ways not to turn the oven on, (and I have 2 of them). Now this doesn't mean that I don't like to cook. Sometimes I actually like to. For instance, on a fall day, I love to have sweet potatoes baking and a homemade chicken pot pie bubbling or a delicious chuck roast complete with potatoes and carrots cooking slowly. I make delicious spahetti sauce, but not with meatballs. I'll give that award to Kathy Christine of Augusta, GA, who was kind enough to send some with my daughter for my freezer. Can't wait to take that out and have it one night when I'm too busy to cook. One of my quick meals is chicken burritos topped with chilies and cheese and sour cream. Don't worry, I cook this almost entirely fat-free. It can be done and tastes great. I make wonderful grits for breakfast. They must be slowly and gently cooked with butter, so you yankees out there don't compare the grits with what you might find at a resturant to the real southern dish. By the way, never could master biscuits like my mama so I buy Pillisbury's frozen ones and they are so good.
I love to cook red beans and rice with sausage and cornbread on a cold winter day or big white lima beans ladened with ham. My sweet mother taught me how to make cornbread and chicken n' dumplings. Speaking of chicken, my homemade chicken noodle soup is my son's favorite and I also make Green Chili chicken soup. Kept for special occasions, because of the high-fat, is my fried chicken. No one makes it better, just ask my kids. That's really living it up to me. I make a simple meatloaf that taste even better the next day as a sandwich. No southerner would be complete without crowder peas with okra swimming on top and sweet iced tea. My favorite. Banana bread is especially good with morning or afternoon coffee or Oatmeal Raisin cookies. For company I like to make Banana pudding from scratch--not the instant pudding you mix that you buy at the store. That stuff is disgusting. I taught my daughter, Sheri, how to bake and decorate sour cream sugar cookies trimmed in beautiful icing for Christmas and how to decorate cakes as well. Now she is better at it than me.
Uh oh--I think this is making me hungry! I can't end this without telling you (more info than you ever wanted) that my sister-in-law, Sylvia makes the best jambalaya that you ever put in your mouth. She & my brother Gary made fabulous jumbo! We used to have it on Christmas Eve when they lived here. How I miss that....Now... that Sil is an awesome cook, whipping up gourmet meals in a flash. Just get out of her way! My sister Dianne makes the best cole-slaw in the world, and her hubby makes the best wings that I've ever put in my mouth! My sister Doris? Well, there's nothing she can't cook, but she's had a lot more practice than me. My son, Jared grills wonderful steaks and his wife Amy has introduced us to some good and healthy California cooking.
Am I boring you to death yet? I just want to add that I quit buying cook-books sometime ago. I have about 20 presently. I gave a lot away 2 yrs. ago. I do occasionally find a receipe that I want to try.
So now I've made up all these excuses for not cooking because I'd much rather be reading or writing or singing or dancing. I need a cook! Wait a minute--I need a housekeeper too. LOL! By the way, if you haven't seen the movie, No Reservations, check it out. It's all about love and cooking. Great movie!
If anyone would like to send me their favorite summertime receipe, I'd love to have it. Guess I'll go fix my salad for dinner...boring huh?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Starting Over

As of two weeks ago, this is where my everyday job will be. I resigned from the realtor world, with a gut-load of sadness. I was lucky enough to work with three of the most wonderful ladies that I could have ever wished for in a work place. They were my family away from home. I miss seeing them everyday and their friendship, their different moods and the days of stress, smooth sailing days, the fast paced days, the pull-your hair out days, the fun, the laughter, the bubble gun we consumed, the constant ringing phone, FMLS uploads, GMLS glitches, and the tears when we supported each other through difficult phases of our lives. I still want to answer my home phone with Thank you for calling Weichert Preferred...

This is a picture of my home office. It has a wonderful view of the trees outside, along with chipmunks, birds, bunnies and lately three wild kittens. It's right off the breakfast room, so we are planning on some French doors for privacy and walling off the arches that lead into the dining room eventually. The TV is too distracting for me. But it's hard not listening to The O'Reilly Factor or Shaun Hannity on Fox. The paintings on the side of my desk are a few that I've painted.
Since quitting my job I have finished a chapter on my second book, done a review, submitted an proposal to an agent, and had my laptop repaired, including more memory installed. Now if I can just get it to recognize the other computer to retrieve my documents, I'll be happy. Not bad for just getting back into the groove and a fresh start. Once school begins, I'll start my critique group back up again since my writing buds have school age children. We took a month off because of summer conflicts, but I really look forward to reading their submissions, not to mention their feedback and support for me.
I had a nice distraction this weekend with a visit from my daughter and grandchildren, but now, if I can quit watching the hummingbirds, I'll get back to writing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Review of Bygones

This is the first in the Sommerfeld trilogy and a wonderful story of widow Marie Koeppler, the rediscovery of her Mennonite faith that she abandon long ago, with the awakening love of her ex-beau, Henry Braun. When her Aunt dies, Henry brings news that Marie’s daughter, Beth, has inherited her Aunt’s home and café, but she can only claim it if Beth lives there for six months.

Her daughter bristle’s at the thought of going to Sommerfeld for six months to live in what she considers a backward lifestyle with no modern conveniences. However, her fiancé convinces her that she should go and stay in order to buy their antiques, then use the money from the sale of her Aunt’s home and café to start their own business.

Marie is not so keen to go because of her tearful past, and the way in which her family disowned her when she left the Sommerfeld community to marry her first husband. Marie decides that she will do whatever it takes to help her daughter start her life with a good future, including hiding the truth.

Will the community still shun Marie, or will her family see her true heart and mend the distance between them? This compelling story, written in Kim’s beautiful style of the gentle Mennonite community with a Kansas backdrop, gave me new insight to the Mennonite faith and customs.
This is an engaging romance and I look forward to the 2nd in the trilogy. Kim’s stories just keep getting better!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

International Christian Retailers Show in Atlanta

All this week, the ICRS is having their vendor show in Atlanta at the GA World Congress Center. I didn’t have a badge to get into the show since I’m not published and I do not own a bookstore, but I did have the privilege to meet up with some of my writer friends that did attend for book signings and we had dinner on Monday night at Steak and Ale. The picture of me was taken with Tamela Hancock Murray, agent for Hartline Literary Agency and Kim Vogel Sawyer, whose books I have reviewed. It was a very enjoyable visit over dinner, once we were finally seated. I met with Tamela at my agent interview at the Denver Conference a few years ago, but this was my first time to actually met Kim, though I had seen her from a distance at other conferences. Both ladies are so warm and friendly. Brandilyn was my mentor for the Denver conference. Others that were at the dinner, Chip McGregor, Terry Burns, Brandilyn Collins, Amy Wallace, Tricia Goyer and Sharon Hinck. There were many others, but I didn’t know everyone there, so I won’t even attempt to list them all. What is so cool is that only other writers understand a writer’s mind, so there is a great commonality among us. Chip McGregor who has his own literary agency, stood up and gave a toast to those that had book signings,and to those that have a new book coming out soon. They were antics at my table once Brandilyn joined us. She never takes herself too seriously, which makes it fun for everyone to poke fun at her and she likewise. Maybe that’s why she makes a good MC at the ACFW conferences. Brandilyn gave me her latest suspense book, Coral Moon of the Kanner Lake Series. I can’t wait to read it. Tricia gave me her latest book about the Spanish Civil War, Valley of Betrayal and you know I love historicals. It was a fabulous start for my week to be among these folks and get encouragement and support that they so freely give. When we got ready to leave I asked if anyone needed a lift to their hotel and met a lovely young woman, Julie Dearyan. We enjoyed her short visit in the car with us and made a new friend.
Thanks Amy for taking care of the details and making this all possible! :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Real Freedom

I saw on the Foxnews that the last survivor of the flag raising at Iwo Jima died and was given a nice memorial. Such a price so many paid for our freedom and the privilege to live in the USA. I am sooo grateful. I’ll write more about that kind of freedom another day, but tonight I am thinking of freedom in another way altogether.

My beautiful sister, Gail Kathleen, died 12 years ago today, and we buried her on the 4th of July. I spent all afternoon today looking at family photos trying to find the perfect one of her, and decided this was my favorite even though she was just 17. Though only 58 when she died from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, she accomplished what she was placed on this earth for. She raised 3 beautiful, intelligent children, and took great care of my dear mother. She had a green thumb and grew beautiful flowers and she taught me to sew. I was crazy about her and thought she was incredibly beautiful with her green eyes and black hair. She made the best cup of coffee and pot of red beans and rice this side of the Mississippi, as well as sweet ice tea and cold slaw. Her pecan pie was this side of Heaven. She was fun to shop with and chat with about the days events over coffee on a wintry afternoon while stew simmered on her stovetop. Her home was warm and inviting, and she always had her stereo on playing gospel music or Tijuana Brass. She loved music and that loved was passed down to her daughter.

The best gift Gail ever gave me was the gift of Jesus Christ. My mother taught me about God, how he cared for me and read the Bible, so I believed in Christ when I was 9 yrs. old. But it was only when I was 17, did I realize while spending time with Gail that I came to understand what that really meant. Gail loved the Lord and told me that Christ died for me, and that when I died, if I believed in what He had done on the cross, then I would live eternally with Him and my loved ones in Heaven and never die. I was attending a little country church during that time, and after reading much scripture for myself, a great joy burst in my heart when I read, “For God so Loved the World that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in Him, would have everlasting life.” That’s it! The truth was very simple. Soon I was baptized and started on this wonderful journey of being a believer, or Christian, as some would say. Gail was the one that lead me to my faith.

Now, I was incredibly sad when she died so quickly after receiving the “cancer” news and surgery, but I believe it was the gift of peace from the Holy Spirit that kept me from crumbling at that gravesite and of course, the prayers of my praying friends. Her Freedom came in the wee morning hours of a terrible thunderstorm of which she had feared all her life. How ironic that God would send his Angels to carry her home to Heaven at that exact time, exemplifying to her that she would never have to fear anything again with no more suffering, but one day a new body! We celebrated that 4th of July after her funeral by doing what she loved—going down to the beach on Hwy 90 in Gulfport to watch the fireworks. How appropriate to celebrate her life and freedom with the freedom that we cherish today as fireworks exploded against the inky black sky!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Searching For a Rainbow

Have you ever had a time when you weren’t sure of your place in the world? Ever want to be some place other than your job, or feel lonely when surrounded by people? Have you ever felt like you really were not number one is someone else’ eyes? For certain, I am not unique in feeling this way. It’s like someone looking outside their den window, and seeing the same tree everyday, but then one day they don’t see the tree at all because they are so use to it being there. Too consumed with their own job, and demands of life, people miss out on relationships all the time with spouses, friends and family, because of self-centeredness.

Maybe it’s because we focus on ourselves, and loose sight of what’s right in front of us, being offered, rather than make a effort to genuinely care about another’s dreams, hopes and desires. How often do we dare yield a large part of ourselves to show someone that they matter more than anything else? Far too often we assume we know what the other person is thinking, and we believe we know more than they do about what was said in a conversation or an email taken the wrong way.

There’s a yield sign for traffic that I face every day to turn into our office parking lot. I have the right of way because the sign clearly states other drivers are to yield to U-turn traffic and it is the only way into our office park. Several times in the last few weeks, a man in a black Mercedes would not yield to me, almost hitting me. One day last week, he yelled--I blew my horn, but he proceeded to turn in front of me, then jerking his car over into my lane nearly coming to a complete stop as it if to scare me, all the while, shooting me the bird. Really nice man, I thought sarcastically. Quickly, I pointed in the direction of the yield sign that he had. Let me tell you, it unnerved me, and I was shaking by the time I got to my desk. Road Rage, nothing more, very real. Who knows, he may have made good his threats, because he was yelling and gesturing expletives at me. This was the same man who had done this to me several times this year.

This past Thursday morning, I couldn’t believe that we wound up at the intersection again at the same time. I shivered, he was moving fast, but apparently he had decided to acquiesce to let me turn into the office park, for whatever reason, barely giving me a second thought. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Life is about yielding to others, like it or not, especially if you have taken offense at something you thought someone meant, and you were entirely wrong. I have yielded all my life to almost everyone, but today I want to take care of me and my heart, and not be in constant worry about how someone perceives who I am. I’m longing to be held close to someone’s heart, that genuinely cares about my needs and dreams. I suggest you listen to your heart. As for me, I’m looking for a Rainbow…..

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Where Willows Grow

My favorite book this summer so far, without doubt! Kim, I simply loved this book!

First of all, I loved this setting, drought stricken Kansas, (much like Atlanta right now) but in 1936. Genuine and good-hearted characters made me care about Anna Mae and Harley who are trying to survive the drought and pay for taxes, but just barely scrapping by to hold their farm together. With a baby on the way and their 5 yr. old Marjorie to feed, Harley leaves in hopes of finding work to send money back to Anna Mae, despite her strong protests. My heart swelled with love for these "salt of the earth" people. Anna's strong faith and God's continual provision gave her hope in their helpless situation, regardless of the outcome. When months go by and Anna doesn't hear from Harley, she remains steadfast, even though her heart is breaking. Complicating matters further, her childhood friend, Jack fancies himself in love with her, and sets out to convince her that Harley will never return.
It was hard for me to put this book down, and turn out the light because I wanted to find out how Anna would handle each turn of events that plagued her. Very convincing plot and well crafted, real characters made this book so appealing. Don't miss it!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Summer Reading

I have finally taken the time to review Lightning and Lace, by DiAnn Mills, though I read the book well over a month ago. Shame on me, but that’s what happens when you have several books you’re reading, along with my writing buds manuscripts. Throw in work, choir, family and everyday things that clutter our lives and it’s hard to find time. Sorry, DiAnn. Enough said.

This is the third book in the Texas Legacy series and a most enjoyable one. After meeting the characters in books One and Two, I felt like I knew them personally, and couldn’t wait to see how the final book compared. Not surprising to me at all, was a marvelous story of grief, faith, love and mystery as DiAnn wove the threads neatly together focusing on struggling widow, Bonnie Kahler, and her angry, troubled son, Zach. Travis Whitmore, the new preacher hiding his own past, becomes a pivotal force in helping Bonnie’s son find direction after his father’s death.

Mills has written a fast-paced, and another exciting adventure, full of emotion and surprises. I suggest this one as a very pleasant summer read for your vacation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


This past weekend was a family celebration as our granddaughter, Maggie (Mary Magdalene Christine), celebrated her First Communion at St. Teresa’s in Grovetown, GA. Maggie is eight years old and the first child of our daughter, Sheri and our son-in-law, Bobby, who watched with pride. Maggie was named after my mother, and what a joy in our life she has become!

Looking quiet grown up but with childhood innocence, she walked down the church aisle in her beautiful dress and veil, representing the bride of Christ, with small her hands prayerfully folded in reverence. What a precious picture she made with her wonderment of taking communion and what it represented. Children are so wonderful and Jesus had a special love in his heart for them. “But Jesus called for them (children) saying, “Permit the children to come to Me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16 NASB

Afterward, the grandparents, Godparents, priests, aunts, uncles and friends filled their beautiful home with love, laughter and chatter to enjoy a delicious Italian lunch of baked ziti from Mimo’s restaurant, topped off with dessert of a very large white cross cake trimmed with white roses. Everything was delicious! Later, Maggie excitedly unwrapped her gifts then appreciatively passed them around the den, so we could all ooh and ahh.

Everyday throughout our lives, we are making memories for our children and grandchildren, either good or bad. It is certainly better to remember all the good events in our lives that we have celebrated. Like this one that Maggie will always hold dear in her heart and memory.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Rev. 19:7 NASB

Monday, April 30, 2007


Sunday afternoon I enjoyed lying in my chaise lounge for hours reading a sweet romance book. There was a stiff breeze stirring the leaves around, and I watched a variety of birds nibble at the birdfeeder. The humidity was less than 35% and for Atlanta, that is spectacular with the temperature of about 76 degrees. An awful lot was on my heart, so being able to totally abandon myself selfishly to reading a good book, and mindless wandering of the mind, I discovered, is good for the soul and for healing the body.
I wondered as I return back to my sweet romance book, whatever happened to the popularity of that genre of writing?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it is alive and well on planet earth. Despite the racy novels of sex, language and violence that cover the shelves at the bookstores, women especially enjoy a good read of sweet, old fashioned romance, where sex is insinuated but not spelled out graphically, be it modern day, or transported back in time to another era. Like my novel, for instance. It’s sweet, and romantic without gratuitive sex. I leave that for the imagination. Which brings me back to the book that I am reading, At Odds With Love, by Betty Neels. A divine love story of a damsel in distress. The pure warmth of the crackling fire, scones and hot tea, place me slap in the middle of the England, and I feel that I’ve come home. The author uses description in such a way that every page is vivid and leaps off the page. This book was written in 1993 and it’s a simple little Harlequin paperback, probably out of print. All I can say is, that is delightful, heart-warming, and don’t we all sometimes just want to read a good sweet romance, much like the Hallmark movies? Well, I do, and my writing buddy, Kelly, said that I must read some of Betty Neel’s books, because I write much like her, she loaned one to me. I’m not even finished with it and I’m singing her praises!
The Mayo Clinic said that one of the top ten ways to reduce stress, is reading a good book, or a good movie which will redirect our thoughts from unproductive worry. Now who can argue with that? If you’d like to learn more about Betty Neels and her 130 popular books visit this website,

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Columbine Trail

A long time ago, my brother, Jess who wrote novels, said to be careful who I allow to read my manuscript. In fact, only a few should have that privilege. Pretty much, I've only let my critique partners read my first unpublished book. It has been written into a screenplay, and I have signed an option to that effect. Last week once again, it was requested by a well known producer for a TV movie. That's requested, folks, not sold. You bet I was excited, but in the long run, it may not be optioned. Where am I going with this? Well, back to the warning--I let someone outside of my critique group read the script, and before they were even a few pages into it, they told me that my story was predictable! Death to a writer's ego and hopes!! I asked the person, how could you know? There are a couple of sub-plots and a surprise, but you haven't read them yet. Predictable to me, means the guy's gonna get the girl, maybe a cat and mouse game, but what separates different love stories from being the same ole thing, is what goes on in between, and what challegenes they will face to reach their ultimate goal. Well, I've learned my lesson, Jess, and I won't do that again. But if anyone has read this far and would like to read what my novel is about, keep reading. I refuse to lose hope, and my second book is half-way completed, with my third idea and title simmering. After all, if a screenwrite saw much promise and it has been requested twice for submission, how far off can I be? See what you think below.

There’s a saying in the Old West that “A Man don’t have thoughts about women till he’s 35. A’fore then, all he’s got is feelin’s.” For me, the wit and wisdom of the Old West provide an endless treasure store of great story potential. My story, Columbine Trail, is unique because it chronicles the hardships of the first attempt by a female of a working ranch to move cattle from the Yampa Valley to Denver, Colorado. The main character relies on her faith in God for strength and guidance, which ultimately shapes her character and her future. Here's a brief synopsis:

In 1892, a cattle drive is no place for a
woman. Yet delicate southern belle,
Crystal Clark, is forced out of her
comfort zone. She will brave the dangers
of the Colorado Yampa Valley with the
strength of her faith and her determination
to succeed. Crystal is not the perfect Christian,
but God ultimately shapes and refines her
character as she battles the harsh realities
of managing a ranch, personal tragedies, and
her growing feelings of her engaged handsome

Luke Weber is used to managing drovers,
cattle, and his own time. He thinks
Crystal is beautiful, but green as a spring leaf
on an aspen tree. He has never given
God free rein in his life and has no place
for a tenderfoot, no matter how much
she occupies his thoughts. But suddenly,
the tenderfoot is his boss, and he must
choose between the cattle baron’s daughter
and the spunky southerner.

Columbine Trail is the romantic story of a
female’s first attempt to move cattle from the
Yampa Valley to Denver. This story reveals
God’s refining touch on the lives of two
headstrong people in everyday challenges,
from managing big life issues to controlling
tempers, will and desire.

I'd enjoy any and all comments. You can do that anonymously if you choose to; it's not hard to do. I'm tougher that you think-a regular Steele Magnolia!

Monday, March 26, 2007


I am happy to host a blog tour for a great writer whose newest book is out.
Tricia Goyer has written Valley of Betrayal about the Spanish Civil War.
I was priveledged to read her novel, Dawn of a Thousand Nights, last year and the newest novel is book one of the Chronicles of The Spanish Civil War series. Tricia lives in MT, a place near and dear to my heart.

The Story Behind the Novel:

A few years ago when I was researching for my fourth World War II novel, Arms of Deliverance, I came across a unique autobiography. One B-17 crewmember I read about claimed to make it out of German-occupied Belgium after a plane crash due, in part, to his skills he picked up as a veteran of The Spanish Civil War. Reading that bit of information, I had to scratch my head. First of all, I had never heard of the war. And second, what was an American doing fighting in Spain in the late 1930s? Before I knew it, I uncovered a fascinating time in history—one that I soon discovered many people know little about. This is what I learned:
Nazi tanks rolled across the hillsides and German bombers roared overhead, dropping bombs on helpless citizens. Italian troops fought alongside the Germans, and their opponents attempted to stand strong—Americans, British, Irishmen, and others—in unison with other volunteers from many countries. And their battleground? The beautiful Spanish countryside.
From July 17, 1936-April 1, 1939, well before America was involved in World War II, another battle was fought on the hillsides of Spain. On one side were the Spanish Republicans, joined by the Soviet Union and The International Brigade—men and women from all over the world who have volunteered to fight Fascism. Opposing them, Franco and his Fascist military leaders, supported with troops, machinery, and weapons from Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish Civil War, considered the “training ground” for the war to come, boasted of thousands of American volunteers who joined to fight on the Republican side, half of which never returned home.
Unlike World War II, there is no clear line between white and black, good and evil. Both sides committed atrocities. Both sides had deep convictions they felt worth fighting and dying for.
Loyalists—also know as the Republicans were aided by the Soviet Union, the Communist movement, and the International Brigades. If not for the weapons and volunteers from these sources their fight would have ended in weeks rather than years. While many men fought side by side, their political views included that of liberal democracy, communism and socialism. The Catholic Basque Country also sided with the Republic, mainly because it sought independence from the central government and was promised this by Republican leaders in Madrid.
Nationalists—or Francoists were aided mainly by Germany and Italy. The Nationalist opposed an independent Basque state. Their main supporters were those who believed in a monarchist state and fascist interests. The Nationalist wished for Spain to continue on as it had for years, with rich landowners, the military, and the church running the country. Most of the Roman Catholic clergy supported the Nationalists, except those in the Basque region.
During the Spanish Civil war, terror tactics against civilians were common. And while history books discuss the estimated one million people who lost their lives during the conflict, we must not forget that each of those who fought, who died, had their own tales. From visitors to Spain who found themselves caught in the conflict, to the communist supporters, Basque priests, and Nazi airmen . . . each saw this war in a different light. These are the stories behind A Valley of Betrayal.

If you'd like to read to read the first chapter click on the link below.

For Tricia's website, click here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Step Into Spring

Don’t you just love springtime? Atlanta has been experiencing a taste of spring with cold nights but gradual warming during the day. Daffodils are nodding their yellow faces in the gusty breezes, and redbud trees have just started to pop out with pink blossoms, while the Bradford pear struts her white finery like a bride waiting for her groom. The South is a magnificent place to be this time of year with bright yellow forsythia bushes as bright as the sun, however, the best is yet to come –delicate dogwood and the many varieties of azaleas. This painting is one that I did a while back, but it makes me think of my mama. She loved flowers, and always had a small patch of brilliant red and yellow cannas and a myriad of other flowers in front of her tiny apartment in Gulfport, MS. She taught me a lot about nature, flowers and trees. She also loved growing vegetables in earlier years. My mama was a strong influence in my life, and was keenly intelligent. She could spot a fraud a mile away. She had little education but was able to express a deep sense of her love of nature, and was grateful that God had created such a beautiful world for us to live in. She inspired this painting. Since spring is Tuesday, I wanted to share it. This particular one hung in the gallery at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church along with the caption below. You can read more about the gallery, and view another of my paintings at this website.

TITLE: My Peaceful Garden-As a child of an alcoholic father there were many times when my brothers, sisters and I weren’t sure of our future or even our next meal. My mother would open her Bible and read to us the scripture, Matthew 6:28, “…see the lilies of the field…” That verse has stayed with me throughout my life to trust our Heavenly Father for our needs, when we stay obedient to him.

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 6:28- “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all His splendor was dressed like one of these.”

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Deb Raney’s latest romance is aptly named for a heroine who must forget her previous life, and a hero’s struggle with the haunted memory of his wife and child. In true romantic style, Deb has written a sweet love story surrounded by delightful characters set in a small fictional town, but so very believable that you long to live there.
The town of Clayburn is filled with such comfortable peace and likeable citzens so strong in their faith, that Maggie glimpses what real happiness could be like, and is desperate to have. With a taste of suspense and mystery, Maggie stretches beyond herself to embrace faith, and a second chance at life and love. A touching story that will surely capture your heart, and you’ll find hard to forget that.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gift of Love

My life has never been busier, and in the midst of it all, Sarah Beth Lott entered our world on January 18th. She came a few days before my birthday and was indeed a gift of love between my son, Jared and his wife, Amy. As always, I am awed by a new baby and consider it one of the greatest miracles that God has created. What could be more delicate and infinitely made? What grandparent would not love this tiny 5 lb. 6 oz. baby that decided to arrive 3 wks. early? What dreams and desires must her parents have for her already? What tenderness pulls on the hearstrings when I hold her close and breathe in her sweet baby smell? Sweet Sarah is what I call her and she has captivated my heart. This is the baby of my baby--what an odd feeling...flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.
This is the 4th grandchild for us and I was so excited when I first saw her, that the nurse thought it was our first grandchild. No! Each one is uniquely and divinely made. God knew each one before they were born. That's incredible enough to bring tears to my eyes. So here's to Sweet Sarah and to my other equally precious grandchildren, Maggie, Angelina, and Peter. I love you all! Mimi --Isaiah 44:24

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Review of The Winter Pearl

If you enjoy reading historical novels, you will want to read Molly Bull’s The Winter Pearl. It’s a wonderful story of a girl, Honor McCall, on the run in Colorado 1888 from her cruel Uncle. This is a sweet story of love and forgiveness. I had never written to a publisher about a book before, but I wrote them about this book last year after reading it. I never expected this book to have such a strong effect on me! At one point into the story, I had to lay the book aside because I couldn’t read through my tears. This took me completely off guard! Molly allowed me to see inside the head, and heart of an alcoholic, through a secondary character named Lucas. To be quiet honest, I have never had a lot of sympathy for people who abuse alcohol or drugs, or even food. I knew that this was a fault of mine because I was a child of an alcoholic father. In the past, I had prayed that God would give me more compassion for these people. Who knew that it would be through this book?

I could tell that something in my heart was slowly changing, after the first couple of chapters. Lucas was on his third drinking binge. The reader is able to see deep into his heart for what he truly is, ashamed, and feeling worthless. He knew that he did not live up to his parent’s or sister’s standards. Lucas figured that he didn’t really matter to anyone, and no one cared what he did with his life. The story began to make me understand what it must feel like to be in his shoes. Something I never thought about before with my own father. Molly made me care about the Lucas, and taught me something about having compassion for people who are addicts, through Pastor Kline, his wife, and Lucas’s sister, Regina. My contempt for these kind of people was replaced with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.

Kudos to you, Molly, as your book hits the bookshelf in mass market this month. Put this on your definite read list!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Here's a picture of my brother, sitting with his dog, Cliff. Many times he would meet his wife there for lunch. He loved Glacier Na'tl Park and couldn't wait to show it to me. Because of the terrrible fires, I had to cancel a trip to Glacier that summer. After his death, and a writer's conference that I attended in Denver, I traveled on to MT to see where he lived, his writing cabin and his wife, Slyvia. It was so beautiful that I could hardly stand it, and his presence seemed so strong. He was Deputy Superintendent of the park with a huge responsibility, especially during one of the worst fires in Glacier history. I met the Superintendent, his boss and close friend, Mick. It was very evident that they were close working partners that dealt with a lot of stress during that fires. They were responsible, for the park, surrounding homes, and many lives. The experience changed them both forever. While it was still beautiful, the evidence of the fire on the park was everywhere. We were escorted by two park biologist to a remote area near the Canadian border to collect Ponderosa Pine seeds that they were planted. When mature enough, they will be transplanted to the grove near the river in his memory.

I wish everyone could have known Jess. He had great wit that shown through in his 7 books, and in everyday conversation. He impacted my life as a steady father figure, never shirking responsibility to his family. He constantly read my writing, and showed me how to improve it, and encouraged me to never give up. I feel so lucky to have had a brother like him! I hope that I continue to write, but to also be the kind of encourager to my writer friends, especially to the ones that meet here in my home.
This year will mark the 5th year of my critique group. I plan to post a picture of his last book on a future blog.

His death was caused by the Hantavirus. A deadly disease contracted from the deer mice and, incidentally, is more prominent in MT and New Mexico. A very tragic and sudden death. I'll save that for another time perhaps. You can look up his titles on under the pen name of Jess McCreede.

Whether you or a writer or not, make everyday count for something. Pursue your life with enthusiasim and each day as a gift from God. Our life is as a vapor and will soon disapear...James 4:14

Monday, January 01, 2007


I’ve been sick for 4 days with a stomach virus, and had to endure a New Year’s feast of tea, rice and toast, instead of the usual delicious southern meal of ham, black-eyed peas, and of course, collard greens for prosperity! Though this is not how I would choose to spend my last 4 days of vacation for the year, it did give me plenty of time for quiet reflection.

But what was uppermost in my mind was today, was that today would have been my brother, Jerry’s 64th birthday, had he not tragically died over 2 years ago. Every New Year’s Eve, a few minutes past midnight, I’d call and wish him happy birthday. Seems so odd now not to be able to do that. Several nights ago, I dreamed that I was making him a batch of cornbread when he walked in looking so healthy and happy.

To say that I loved him would be an understatement. He was funny, smart, gentle, and a great writer, as well as my mentor and friend. When he died suddenly, my world, as I knew it stopped, and so did my breathing…I could tell you all about him, but instead I'll post a copy of the fellowship that was established by the National Park Service, in his honor below. You can read about what an incredible person he was and how he touched many lives. You might even decide to donate to this fellowship fund. Maybe you know a student that can apply for this Fellowship. His memory will live on in my heart, and through his work
others will eventually benefit.

Announcing the Jerry O’Neal
National Park Service
Student Fellowship
2007 Call—
Applications due
January 15, 2007
Applications are now being accepted for the Jerry O’Neal
National Park Service Student Fellowship. Jerry O’Neal was
a scientist, poet, and writer. He had a deep love of nature and was an outspoken proponent for the need to have sound science to support resource management decisions.
Jerry began his nearly 30 years of public service as an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service and was the regional toxicologist for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service in Atlanta. He joined the National Park Service in 1998 as chief of science and resources management at Mammoth Cave National Park and later served as chief of the resource management program for 64 parks in the Southeast. He became deputy superintendent of Glacier National Park in 2002 where he was actively engaged in a range of environmental management projects and was a key park official during the wildfires of 2003. Jerry grew up in a poor family from the south and was the first to attend college. Education cultivated his commitment to preserving the natural world. In keeping with his model of learning as a way of improving one’s life situation and fostering environmental stewardship, the fellowship aims to provide educational assistance for students seeking to understand natural and cultural resource issues and how these intersect with human values. Special consideration will be given to proposals that address the following:
1) natural resource issues such as aquatic ecology, fire ecology, invasive plants, and other landscape processes
2) cultural and historic resource studies, including the integration of cultural and natural landscapes
3) social science that informs resource management about one of the natural or cultural topics listed above or that addresses visitor impacts to park resources Eligibility: Graduate students or superior upper division undergraduate students (3.5 GPA or above) in fields applicable to understanding and management of Glacier National Park, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Historic Site. The fellowship is available to students at universities and colleges within the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem
Studies Unit (RM-CESU): University of Montana, Montana State University, Salish Kootenai College, University of Calgary, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and at Denver, University of Northern Colorado, University of Idaho, Utah State University, Washington State University, and University of Wyoming.
Jerry O’Neal National Park Service Student Fellowship Application Procedure:
Applications for 2007 must be postmarked by January 15, 2007
All applications must include:
• 2-page resume (with current contact information; name of major professor or academic advisor, program, and institution)
• Photocopies of all college transcripts
• Project proposal (15 pp. maximum) including statement of need; objectives; study area; methods and relevant literature summary; proposed timeline; relevance to resource conservation in one of the three eligible parks; and anticipated research and educational product(s) (e.g., thesis, publication(s), report to park, presentation to park managers, CD, public lecture)
• Project budget including salary; equipment; supplies; travel; laboratory analyses; and any other budget categories. Include written justification for each budget item and state any other funding sources available, if any
• List of cited references
• Additional support requested from park (s), if any (e.g., housing and dates needed, transportation, assistance with equipment or park access)
• Statement(s) of support (email messages ok) from appropriate park personnel addressing the relevance of the research to park management
Applications will be judged on the relevance, technical soundness, and feasibility of the proposed study; qualifications of the student; and clarity and completeness of the application. Proposals may cover a one-time
survey or project or a clearly defined portion of an existing research project. Projects may be completed in one or more field season(s). Studies may occur in one or more of the parks’ ecosystems and adjoining lands.
Projects must comply with appropriate agency regulations and permits (separately administered from this fellowship). Fellowships will be awarded in the range of $1,000-$5,000 per project. Awards may also include housing if available. Students are expected to provide a final project report and copies of any publications as a result of the research. In addition, they will prepare a one-page, illustrated project summary, suitable for the general public and an additional educational product to facilitate information transfer beyond the scientific audience (e.g. a presentation to site managers, a public seminar, CD, or non-technical article).
Send to: Jerry O’Neal NPS Student Fellowship
c/o Lisa Gerloff
Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit
College of Forestry and Conservation
32 Campus Drive
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
For more information contact:
Lisa Gerloff, Executive Coordinator, RM-CESU,
406-243-5346 or
Leigh Welling, Director, Crown of the Continent
Research Learning Center, Glacier National Park,