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Writing and Arts

Pirates, Outlaws, and Civic Leaders! Oh My!

Why are pirates and outlaws an intriguing subject in stories? What grabs everyone’s attention about these people? Whether the person is a pirate upon the sea or a river pirate roaming the Mississippi River… whether he’s an outlaw robbing a bank or a highwayman robbing a stagecoach, he is robbing and plundering. I have a question. What if a civic leader, a respected man in the community, decided to become an outlaw or river pirate? Would he have the same appeal? Or is this different? Very interesting question to think about!

I love adding true events that are part of history to historical fiction. Not only does it make the setting feel real, but it’s also fun to learn historical facts. I have a few more questions to ask.

Can an outlaw, highwayman, or pirate change his lifestyle and become an upright citizen? Do you believe a person can change, repent from his lawless ways and make amends? Matt Warner was an infamous outlaw who joined Butch Cassidy’s gang. He was a bank robber, cattle rustler, and bootlegger. But as time passed, Warner decided to change his life and settle down. He was elected deputy sheriff and later on as a county judge. In fact, knowing he was a former outlaw helped him gain votes. He was noted for being a great lawman because he knew the mindset of the outlaws. I wonder what happened in his life to make him change and become a law-abiding citizen in the community?

Is it possible that an upright citizen can secretly be a pirate, outlaw, or highwayman? Why would a distinguished and upstanding citizen want to rob others? Was it because of the adventure or the money? Or both? What was his motivation? If he were caught, the community would be shocked. I actually found that some civic leaders and merchants led a double life as a River Pirate, which their family knew nothing about. There was a justice of the peace in Kentucky who was a Highwayman and River Pirate. He and his fellow pirates would hijack a flatboat full of valuable cargo along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and meet at the Cave-In-Rock hideout along the Mississippi River to distribute the goods. (Taken from Angel’s Serenade: A Willow Valley Historical Romance)

Civic leaders weren’t the only people who chose to be outlaws. I learned that a governor and a president of the United States acted like outlaws, even though they weren’t considered as one. They stole people’s property without any remorse.

Did you know thousands of people were forced off their land by the government in 1839? Have you heard of The Trail of Tears? I wept as I learned what had happened to the Native Americans. The Indian Removal Act signed by Andrew Jackson gave the government the right to remove the Native Americans from their own land because it just happened to be in the “Cotton Kingdom.” When Van Buren became president, he put the Removal Act into effect. It was heartbreaking to learn what he had done to the Cherokee Nation. Even though Van Buren paid them five million dollars for their property and agreed to relocate them, the Cherokee didn’t want to leave their homeland. During the freezing winter, they were forced to leave. Sadly, young children and the elderly became very ill and died from exposure along the trek. It ended March of 1839.

Did you know another group of people were forced off their land because of their views about slavery? Jackson and Van Buren weren’t the only ones who pushed thousands of people off their land in 1839. Governor Boggs did the same thing.

The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints did not believe in slavery and let their views be known. The slave owners were afraid of an uprising from their servants and saw the members as a threat to their way of life. So Governor Boggs gave the order to kick them out of Missouri or be exterminated. He sent the militia to drive them off their land and imprison their church leaders.

During February and March of 1839, these Christians made their way across the prairie to Illinois as refugees through knee-deep snow. Many only had the clothes on their backs because the militia had stolen their belongings. Some wrapped rags around their feet to keep them warm. When they arrived in Illinois, the kind citizens allowed the refugees to live in their homes and barns until they could get back on their feet.

Outlaws come in different forms. I wonder if Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, and Governor Boggs ever got their “comeuppance?” (Taken from A Pleasant Rivalry: A Willow Valley Historical Romance)

What came out of this research? Angel’s Serenade is a historical mystery romance. By adding some true facts to this story, you will discover the leader of the River Pirates who has been eluding the law for several years. You may be surprised! But that’s not all. What secret is the man running for Mayor hiding? Lucas and Emmeline are intrigued by their neighbor’s mysterious behavior. Is he friend or foe? Should they stop him from winning the votes or encourage him?

In A Pleasant Rivalry, Angelica Davis is a journalist and writes controversial articles for the Chronicle. When she writes about the removal of the Native Americans from their land, Angelica is appalled by Van Buren’s decision. To her, he is a cruel man. But that’s not all she writes about. When she discovers what Governor Boggs did to the Christians in Missouri, Angelica tells the public what is going on, getting her information first hand from someone who was kicked off her land. Her sister! Thank goodness the kind Illinois citizens took pity on the refugees and helped them find places to live. But that’s not all she writes about. Who is the notorious jewel thief and who is the arsonist wreaking havoc in Willow Valley?

Writing and Arts

Outlaws, Grizzly Bears, and Lake Monsters! Oh my!

The Bear Lake Monster

Research is so interesting and intriguing. It’s fun learning the details of something I’ve heard about for years but didn’t know all the facts or details. While writing a historical fiction series, I put some amazing incidents from history in each of my stories.

I found that Butch Cassidy robbed the bank in Montpelier, Idaho in 1896, the same place and time period that one of my stories was set. Butch Cassidy referred to himself as the Robin Hood of the West. He wrote: “The best way to hurt them is through their pocket book. They will holler louder than if you cut off both legs. I steal their money just to hear them holler. Then I pass it out among those who really need it.” Cassidy never acted without a well staked-out plan. That was why he never got caught. Did you know that Montpelier puts on a reenactment of the robbery for the public every year? (Taken from Melinda and the Wild West: A Bear Lake Family Saga)

In one of my stories, the heroine is a nurse. I wanted her experiences to be authentic so I took an experience from my great grandmother from the late 1800s. Frances Davies saved a man’s life who had been gored by a bull. Since the doctor was out of town, her neighbor went to her for help. Every detail was recorded in her biography and I was amazed at her courage. Finding that his abdomen was torn open, she washed away the blood, cleansed the wound, and relocated the man’s protruding intestines. Then she soaked a violin gut string in hot water to soften it. After sewing him up with the violin string, Frances fixed a liniment of arnica burrs steeped in alcohol and applied some sterilized cloths to his wound, which was saturated with the liniment. The man lived for over 20 years after his accident. I knew that my heroine had to have this experience as a young nurse in my story. (Taken from Edith and the Mysterious Stranger: A Bear Lake Family Saga)

In the history of Cache Valley, there have been many bears that roam the Rocky Mountains, but none so famous as Old Ephraim. He roamed the mountains from Soda Springs, Idaho to the Logan Utah Canyon from 1911 to 1923. They called him Old Ephraim or Old Three Toes since he only had three toes on one foot. He measured at exactly nine feet and eleven inches tall, and weighed 1100 pounds. The evidence of the strength and power of this grizzly bear was frightening. At one point, he bit a thirteen-foot log, twelve inches in diameter, into eleven lengths as though they had been chopped. He also bit off a six-inch aspen limb in just one bite, which was nine feet and eleven inches above the ground. Many of the sheepherders refused to stay on the job for fear he would appear. They set trap after trap at all his lairs and wallows. But it was all in vain. Many times his tracks were all around the trap as if avoiding it. Other times the bear trap was flung many yards away. He was the smartest grizzly anyone had ever encountered. (Taken from Jenny’s Dream: A Bear Lake Family Saga)

Scotland has the Loch Ness Monster and Bear Lake Valley has one just as formidable. Bear Lake is a natural freshwater lake on the Idaho-Utah border. The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Bear Lake history since 1863 and beyond. Many people claimed to have seen the monster and gave descriptions of it. One summer day in 1868, S. M. Johnson was riding his horse alongside the shoreline when he saw an object floating in the water. At first glance, it looked like a man’s body. He was shocked and thought someone had drowned so he trotted his horse closer. He was shocked when the large brown lump opened a gigantic mouth and blew water toward him. All the reports have the same description. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. It had small legs and a huge mouth.

Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists figured it was a gigantic codfish that was shipped in from the East. Is the monster fact or legend? It was such fun to add the accounts of those who claimed to have seen it in my story. (Taken from Sarah’s Special Gift: A Bear Lake Family Saga)

Did you know there was a woman who got her medical degree in the 1800s? Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate with a doctor’s degree in 1849. It was a miracle that she was accepted into college. Why? Women were not allowed to attend a medical university. So how did Elizabeth get in? She hounded them until the faculty gave in and admitted her as a joke. They figured she would fail miserably. But she fooled the professors and graduated at the top of her class. After her graduation, she found that no hospital would hire her because she was a woman. But this did not stop her. Elizabeth organized her own clinic in New York and helped many people. She also opened a medical college for women where they could have the opportunity to get an education. By 1899, women were finally allowed to attend a medical university.

Realizing this was a perfect subject for my next book, I set my story during the 1920s, a time of independent women who fought for what they got. (Taken from Elena Woman of Courage: A Bear Lake Family Saga)

Check out my Audible Audiobooks.

Writing and Arts

Dreams are a Part of Life

Dreams can come true, no matter what age you are. Dreams are a part of life and they come straight from the heart. Mack David (1912 – 1993) wrote: “A dream is a wish your heart makes.”

In fact, dreams eventually become our goals. If you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. It’s all a state of mind. If you believe in yourself, then nothing else matters. You have to first decide if it’s worth it and then put your whole heart and soul into it.

Remember: if you don’t do your best, a job that’s half done isn’t worth the effort. It’s all up to you to make a difference in the world, whether it is large or small. Perhaps your contribution won’t be as dramatic as Alexander Graham Bell and his invention of the telephone, but still, your contribution to society is important. It’s up to you how hard you must work for your dream. Edgar A. Guest said it best in his poem:

You are the one who has to decide

Whether you’ll do it or toss it aside.

You are the one who makes up your mind

Whether you’ll lead or linger behind.

Kindly or selfish, gentle or strong,

Keeping the right or taking the wrong.

Careless of honor or guarding your pride,

All these are things you must decide.

~ Edgar A. Guest (1881 – 1959)

Dreams can come true. It’s up to you. A few years ago, I decided it was about time to finish something I had begun when I was young. I decided to go back to college and get a degree. It was one of the most difficult challenges I had ever come upon. Here I was, forty-eight years old, and I was going back to college.

On the first day of school, I had butterflies in my stomach, I was feeling nausea from the stress, and I was wondering if I had made the right decision in my life. Was I crazy to take upon myself this feat at my age? My memory wasn’t at all like it used to be. And what were scantrons, for heaven’s sake? Computers? Oh heaven, forbid! I didn’t know one thing about computers, but to graduate I had to take a computer class.

This decision was becoming bigger than I realized. I was feeling overwhelmed. Then I realized that I wasn’t alone. My family supported my decision. In fact, my daughter, Diana, was going to college at the same time and encouraged me. She even asked me to take a class with her. I knew she could help me. So I said to myself, “I can do this. If I need help, I’ll just ask Diana.”

After getting through the first month, I realized it wasn’t so bad after all. The only thing I struggled with was algebra and studying for tests. I just took one day at a time, knowing that I had committed myself to this task of getting a degree. I trekked across campus as fast as I could, trying to get to class on time. The young college students were sweet and let me know they were happy to have me in class, making me feel accepted. Soon, I realized that everything was going to be okay after all.

After four long years, I received my Bachelor of Arts degree and the Outstanding Non-Traditional Student Award for the College of Performing Arts in 2002. All six of my children were at my graduation and watched me walk to get my diploma. I had tears in my eyes…and so did they. I had accomplished something that I thought I was too old to do.

A few years later I became an author. All of this happened because I believed in myself, because I worked hard, because I had a dream. I knew that if I didn’t believe in myself, then no one else would. Yes, dreams can come true if you work hard and never give up.

Each of us has something to contribute to in this world and hopefully uplift others. We can do this by educating and improving ourselves.

James E. Faust said, “The Lord has a great work for each of us to do. You may wonder how this can be. You may feel that there is nothing special or superior about you or your ability… The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself.” (James E. Faust, “On the Edge”, New Era, Feb. 1997, p. 4)

What is the secret of success? You have to believe in yourself. Have faith in your dreams and they’ll come true. That’s the secret!

Reflections of the Heart has inspirational advice for all ages. You will learn the secret of happiness and how to deal with the trials in your life. Does music really soothe the soul and help you when you’re frustrated? Does it matter what kind of music you listen to? Is laughter really the best medicine? If so, how does it make a difference in your life? How important is it to develop your spirituality? Equal partners in marriage is a subject that can help a marriage grow stronger. These are the subjects discussed in this book.

Writing and Arts

Friendship, The Footprints In Your Heart

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin (1903-1977)

Best Friends

Friendship is a most precious gift that will endure the eternities. Cicero (106-43 BC) said, “Life is nothing without friendship.” To have a friend that you can share your innermost thoughts with is worth more than wealth or material objects. To have a friend that you can laugh and cry with, to have someone make us feel wanted and accepted for who we are…this makes life worth living.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962) expressed her feelings about friendship in a completely differently way when she said: “Many people will walk in and out of your life. But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

Friends can cheer us on when we need encouragement and help us when we’re depressed. They can embrace us when we weep and laugh at a lame joke that we’ve told. We should uplift one another. We should be able to say that, because of our association with one another, “I’m a better person having known you.”

Elizabeth Mauske told a story about an unusual and sweet friendship between her mother and an old native Indian woman from Central America. The Indian woman would visit their home often. With each visit, she would give her mother some partridge eggs and berries as a gift. The lovely colorful clothing and coin necklaces the woman wore fascinated Elizabeth. She noticed her copper bracelets as they softly jingled on her arm and her sweet sincere smile.

The Indian woman only spoke Araucanian and her mother only spoke Spanish. Their conversation was minimal, but they would sit at the table, drinking tea and eating cake together with a smile and a laugh. They enjoyed one another’s company.

Elizabeth noticed each time the Indian woman would rise to leave that she would say the exact same words. With great curiosity, Elizabeth and her sisters memorized the phrase and quickly found someone who could translate Araucanian for them. When she found out what the Indian woman had said, she was greatly touched and said it was one of the nicest compliments anyone could have given her mother.

The Indian woman would rise from the table with a smile and say: “I shall come again, for I like myself when I am near you.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could say this about our friendships? After spending the day with a dear friend, we could actually say, “I can’t wait until our next visit because you make me feel good about myself.”

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) said, “Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love, and to be loved, is the greatest happiness of existence.”

Have you had a friend that made a difference in your life? Have you had a friend who left footprints in your heart? Remember one thing! Friendships last longer when you are kind and understanding. One does not criticize a friend but has a listening ear whenever it is needed.

 Austrian poet Erich Fried, wrote a poem titled Ich liebe Dich (I Love You) that I really love.

I love you, not only for what you are,

But for what I am when I am with you.

I love you, not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what you are making of me.

I love you because you have done

More than any creed could have done

To make me good, and more than any fate

Could have done to make me happy.

You have done it without a touch,

Without a word, without a sign.

You have done it by being yourself.

Perhaps that is what being a friend means,

After all.

Reflections of the Heart has inspirational advice for all ages. You will learn the secret of happiness and how to deal with the trials in your life. Does music really soothe the soul and help you when you’re frustrated? Does it matter what kind of music you listen to? Is laughter really the best medicine? If so, how does it make a difference in your life? How important is it to develop your spirituality? Equal partners in marriage is a subject that can help a marriage grow stronger. These are the subjects discussed in this book.

Writing and Arts

The Secret of Happiness

The secret of happiness is a great mystery to many people, constantly searching for joy in everyday life. Do we believe the grass is greener on the other side of the hill? I’ve heard people say: When I finally graduate from college, then my life will be better and I’ll be happier. I’ll truly be happy when I get a better job. As soon as my new home is built, I know I’ll be more content. I know I’ll be happier if I move and have new experiences.

When we’re feeling discontent, we tend to think a change in our lives is the answer to happiness. But after landing that new job or moving into a new home, are we truly happy? That may not be the answer we hoped for. We need to make our own happiness and enjoy what we have.

Does “love” have anything to do with joy? Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885) seems to think so. He said, “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

Our lifestyle can also be a factor, whether we’re content or miserable. If we live a good and righteous life, chances are that our lives will be happier and we’ll feel more satisfaction.

What is the secret of happiness? Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941) wrote, “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I acted, and behold—Duty was joy.”

Royden G. Derrick said it differently: “Happiness is a by-product of helping others. No man ever finds happiness by thinking of himself. True happiness comes when we lose ourselves in the service of others—when we are merciful to our fellowmen.” (Royden G. Derrick, “The Beatitudes and Our Perfection”, Ensign, May 1977, 57)

Is joy all about duty? Are we happier when we help others? “To find real happiness,” said Thomas S. Monson. “We must seek for it in a focus outside ourselves. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy.” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Joy of Service,” New Era, Oct. 2009, p. 4)

Is true joy thinking of others and their happiness? How about a simple and sincere smile or greeting? I’ve noticed it’s quite effective. I suspect it’s because friendliness uplifts us, makes us feel warm inside. When someone goes out of his way to greet us, it feels good. Smiles are contagious. They tend to spread from person to person. If you smile at a baby, he automatically smiles back. Did you know that a frown uses eighty-seven muscles? To smile, we use thirteen muscles. With those thirteen muscles we can uplift others.

The secret of happiness has puzzled many people. Whether joy can be found in righteous living, a belief that we are loved, or a by-product of serving others, you can’t deny the fact that a simple smile or greeting can make a difference in our lives. Perhaps one of the secrets of happiness is smiling.

Remember: “Those who bring sunshine into the life of others cannot keep it from themselves.” ~ James Matthew Barrie (1860 – 1937)

David O. McKay (1873 – 1970) said: “Seek to share joy with others, or to make somebody else happy, and you will find your own soul radiant with the joy you wished for another.”

Man’s search for happiness is part of life. We not only want it but we have an inner need to spread joy to others. I notice that when I tell a funny story and make someone laugh, I wish I could tell another one. Laughter and smiles are contagious and spread from person to person.

I’ve always heard that laughter is the best medicine. Is it really true? The Reader’s Digest wrote, “Scientific evidence has shown that laughter helps people breathe easier and it massages the heart and other vital organs.” (The Healing Power of Laughter, Reader’s Digest, 2010)

Some scientists believe that it can even guard against illness. If this is true, then laughter is definitely the best medicine. The Reader’s Digest went on to say, “In experiments, students who watched funny movies were found to have an increased flow of infection-fighting proteins in their saliva.”

Isn’t this amazing? Scientists have found that positive thinking is the secret. They did some research and found that optimistic people have less health problems and live longer compared to pessimistic people.

Kersten Campbell, author of Confessions of a Completely InSane Mother, told me when I interviewed her, “It has always been my belief that we, as women, need to laugh more. Mothers experience some of the most stressful working conditions on the planet, and stress can be dangerous to women’s overall health and longevity. Humor can reduce stress.”

The secret to happiness has puzzled many people. Perhaps the real secret of happiness is a bit of laughter. Think about it. Isn’t that the time that you feel on top of the world…when someone is making you laugh? So is laughter the best medicine after all? I believe it is!

Reflections of the Heart has inspirational advice for all ages. You will learn the secret of happiness and how to deal with the trials in your life. Does music really soothe the soul and help you when you’re frustrated? Does it matter what kind of music you listen to? Is laughter really the best medicine? If so, how does it make a difference in your life? How important is it to develop your spirituality? Equal partners in marriage is a subject that can help a marriage grow stronger. These are the subjects discussed in this book.

Writing and Arts

Why We Celebrate Independence Day

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776 and it was approved on July 4. When General George Washington read the Declaration, he knew it was inspired of God and was willing to lead his men into battle to fight for their liberty.

One day when George Washington stood before the Continental Army, he realized his men were weary and discouraged. They had not eaten a decent meal for months. Knowing his men needed to be encouraged, Washington read the Declaration of Independence to his men. Not a sound was heard as the men listened to every word.

With soberness, he read, “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

That was exactly what they needed to hear. The Declaration of Independence inspired every patriot to fight for his freedom. The fire inside them grew and no one could stop the need they felt to fight against the tyranny placed upon them by the King of England.

Many of these patriots were willing to die for their freedom. Nathan Hale, a 23-year-old artist and schoolteacher, felt the conviction of his beliefs so strongly that he agreed to go on a dangerous mission for George Washington. He was caught with sketches of British gun emplacements and the penalty for being a spy was to be hanged. As he marched up the steps of the gallows, he held his head high. Turning to face the people standing before him, he declared boldly, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

The Continental Army consisted of farmers and merchants, not learned in the ways of combat. Many were barefoot and in tattered clothes. They went hungry several times but yet fought for what they believed in. The patriots knew the value of freedom and were willing to pay the price.

Seeing the sad condition of the army, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls… Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered… Heaven knows how to set a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”

They lost many battles but the battle that made a difference was the “Crossing of the Delaware.” George Washington knew they were outnumbered, but he felt inspired by God to take his army across the Delaware in a terrible blizzard. In the early hours of the morning, the surprise attack was a never-forgotten battle of victory that shocked the Hessians, who were German mercenaries paid by the British to cut down the patriots. After a count was taken, it was discovered that not one patriot had been killed in that battle. This victory turned the war around.

The Revolutionary War began in 1775 and ended in 1783. After eight long years, the patriots beat the greatest military power in the world. Without God’s help, we would never have won the war. Have you ever thought about the tremendous price these men paid for our freedom? The next time you see our flag, remember the cost they paid. Remember that we are “one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

When was the first Independence Day celebration? In 1777, the following year after the Declaration of Independence was written and six years before the Revolutionary War ended, the first celebration was held. It soon became tradition to fire off a cannon, have a parade, and read the Declaration of Independence aloud. In 1870, Independence Day became an official holiday. In 1938, it became a paid federal holiday.

Check out my book of short stories. Each story is about a different holiday and has an intriguing theme with a surprise ending.

Holiday Stories

A Collection of Six Holiday Stories: When Emmeline is invited to a Valentine’s Ball, she and Charlotte wonder if they will have an opportunity to meet the Valentine Bandit? When it’s St. Patrick’s Day, what three wishes will Josie make if she finds a leprechaun? Is it common to play jokes on one another on April Fools Day? Nicholas and Lucas find out first hand and are surprised who the culprits are. On Independence Day, Angelica’s eyes are opened when she is challenged. She believes in independence for all people. When the Scottish came to America, they brought their Halloween traditions with them. Will Charlotte find her true love on Halloween? When it’s time for Christmas, Angelica learns what the gift of giving is all about. This book is full of surprises.

This book is available on Amazon and Audible!

Writing and Arts

Courageous Women Throughout History

The women of the past were brave and spirited ladies who knew what they wanted in life and wanted to make a difference. In the late 1700s, Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, was the first woman to stand up for women’s rights but America wasn’t ready for equality at that time.

Elizabeth Stanton

There were many who spoke out on women’s rights. Elizabeth Stanton was one of them. She stood up and said that women should have the right to vote and receive equal education. She also was an abolitionist and fought adamantly against slavery, prejudice, and inequality but it was not readily accepted.

When she gave lectures on the subject, it was frowned upon. A pastoral letter from a minister in Massachusetts said a woman who speaks publicly is “unwomanly and unchristian.” The pastor also mentioned that it would “threaten the female character with widespread and permanent injury.” Was this how the men really felt back then? Why were women being held back? Even though it was not proper, women still gave their opinions.

Susan B. Anthony was another. When she defied the laws and voted illegally on November 5, 1872 in a presidential election, she was arrested and fined $100. But she refused to pay it. She said, “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”

These courageous women made a difference in history. They fought for equal education and wanted the right to vote. Did you know the first four states to give women the right to vote were Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho? It did not take long until women began running for office in each of these states.

Photo was colorized

Do you have some courageous ancestors that were an influence on you? I had a great grandmother who stood up for her rights and would not allow anyone to intimidate her. She was told by a group of men that if she denounced her religion then they would not burn down her home. The leader of the mob was a large burly man and she had every right to be frightened. But Martha would not give in to fear. She was a devout Christian and would not deny her Faith. With strength and courage, she stomped her foot and said: “You may burn it and be damned.”

Frances Davies

I had another great grandmother who was an influence on my life. When she saw some thieves stealing her grapes, she knew they would not be afraid of her if she tried to chase them off. An idea came to her. Frances put on her husband’s cavalry uniform, tucked her hair inside his hat, and grasped his sword from its scabbard. Bravely marching outside onto the porch, she brandished the weapon in a threatening manner and demanded in a loud voice “Leave or perish!” I’m sure she smiled inside when she saw them take off like scared rabbits.

It touched my heart when I read about another great grandmother’s experience, which was written by her daughter. Her courage and difficulties touched my heart.

Hannah and her husband came here to America in the mid-1800s for a better life. On the ship from England, Hannah’s one-year-old daughter became very ill, which resulted in deafness. One year after arriving in America, Hannah gave birth to a baby boy but she was not meant to have him long. He died six weeks later. A year later, the sheriff came to her door and announced that her husband had been murdered on the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. Realizing she had to make a living for her children, Hannah took a job as a maid at the largest hotel in St. Louis, hoping to earn enough money to move on.

What a courageous woman! Would I have been that brave if I were Hannah? Would I have turned around and headed back to my family in England? Her family volunteered to pay her passage if she returned. But she chose to stay instead.

“No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf

This was Hannah’s attitude as she tried to search for the “light at the end of the tunnel.” How many times do we search for that light, wondering where it is and hoping that our trials will soon end? Is God watching over us? Is He there when we need some comfort? In our darkest moment, does He know how we feel? I believe He does.

Five years later, Hannah earned enough money to board a riverboat and head northward, far away from St. Louis. That was when she met a wonderful man who fell in love with her. My great grandmothers were an example to me. If I were in their shoes, I wonder if I would have had that much courage. After reading their biographies, I took their stories and created a series of novellas called Women of Courage. Hannah was the inspiration for the first novella. Using her experiences, I created a historical romance called The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

In The Light at the End of the Tunnel, Hannah is a young single mother who has had some hardships since arriving in America. But the trials in her life only make her stronger. Wanting to be independent, she opens a hot chocolate shop. At first, it’s a struggle. But she will not give up.

In A Lady of Refinement, Serenity is an educated young woman from Wales. After arriving in America, she decides to teach adults how to read and write. She is determined to help the citizens learn the enjoyment of reading. One of her favorite books is Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. No one seems to measure up to this valiant knight until Jonathan comes along.

In A Mississippi Sunset, Laura gives lectures regularly, encouraging women to fight for their beliefs and be heard. Equality is her message. But she soon finds out that women who speak publicly are looked down upon and criticized, saying it is unwomanly and unchristian to speak publicly. But she has faith in God and knows He will help her in the cause for justice.

Women of Courage Series

The Light at the end of the Tunnel: When Thomas finds out that Hannah’s shop is struggling, he comes to the rescue with a clever plan. Will she agree to such an unconventional idea? Can he convince her to find room in her heart for one more person?

Listen to this audio book at Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Light-at-the-End-of-the-Tunnel-Audiobook/B0B4F65DGY or buy the book from Amazon below.

A Lady of Refinement: When Jonathan meets Serenity, an educated and courageous woman from Wales, he becomes intrigued with her and wonders how he can win her heart. Her brother gives him some advice, but Jonathan begins to question his wisdom. Should he trust his friend or is he leading him astray?

A Mississippi Sunset: When Deputy Davies meets Laura, he is intrigued with her independent nature. He admires her spunk and wonders if such a woman would be interested in a small town deputy like himself.

Writing and Arts

Why We Celebrate Father’s Day

A Time to Remember Our Fathers

Did you know that Father’s Day isn’t that old? It wasn’t until 1972 when it was proclaimed a federal holiday. I have always wondered who inspired this celebration.

The idea came about when 361 men died in a coalmine explosion in Monongah, West Virginia on December 6, 1907. It was the worst disaster in history. Six months later on July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored a Father’s Day event in memory of the men who died in the explosion and in honor of all fathers.

The following year in Washington State, Sonora Dodd campaigned to have Father’s Day as an official celebration. She went to local churches, shops, and government officials in Spokane, campaigning for Father’s Day. Her father was a widower and had raised his children on his own, so she felt that fathers should be honored. On June 19, 1910, Washington State celebrated the first official Father’s Day.

Soon the idea began to spread from state to state. By 1924, President Calvin Coolidge was encouraging everyone to celebrate Father’s Day. But it wasn’t until 1972 when President Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday.

Not all countries celebrate Father’s Day in June like the United States. In Italy, they celebrate on March 19th, which is the Feast of St. Joseph. It is a religious holiday, honoring Joseph of Nazareth who was the guardian of Jesus Christ. National Today wrote: “Since Joseph was a father to Jesus, his life is considered an example of what a father figure should be.” With this in mind, they celebrate by honoring all fathers on this day. They have parades and bonfires and attend church services. Some towns hold a donkey race, which symbolizes Joseph taking Mary to Bethlehem on a donkey.

In Mexico, Fathers’ Day is not a federal public holiday and is celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Their festivities consist of music, dancing, food, and gift giving. Fathers aren’t the only ones they honor. They include any “father figure” in the celebration such as uncles, older brothers, and grandfathers. In Mexico City, they have a race called “Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan,” which means “Father’s Race Day.” It is a 13-mile half-marathon.

In Canada, they wear roses to express gratitude for their father. If they wear a red rose, it means their father is alive. But if they wear a white rose, it means their father has passed on. Canadians honor all father figures at this time. Even though Father’s Day is on a Sunday, it’s not a public holiday so restaurants, cafes, and places of entertainment like the zoo will stay open to celebrate Father’s Day.

In Thailand, Father’s Day is an elaborate celebration and is considered a national holiday. Schools and businesses close down so they can celebrate and honor their fathers. During the day, they celebrate with a parade. In the evening, everyone gathers together so they can light a yellow candle for luck and watch fireworks.

Father’s Day is on December 5th, on the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was the father of Thailand. Each day of the week represents a color and yellow represents Monday. Since the king was born on a Monday and was considered a role model for all fathers, it is tradition to wear yellow shirts in honor of their king.

No matter what country we’re from, we realize that a “father” is very important in our life. I remember my father with fond memories and miss his cheerful and loving ways. He was a righteous man who taught me correct principles. My father was a great example to me and I love him dearly.

How are you going to celebrate this special day? Have you thought about it?

Writing and Arts

Tips for Writing a Biography

Part 4

Editing & Publishing Your Biography

First thing to do before publishing your book is to edit your story a few times to make sure there are no mistakes or spelling errors. As you edit your story, watch for repetition.

  1. Delete clarifying details. You want to keep the reader’s interest. The reader is smart, so you don’t need to re-emphasize a situation.
  2. Learn to recognize repetition. Most readers will skip over a paragraph that is repeated. Even though it’s said differently, it’s still repetitive.

Next on the list! Don’t forget the Title Page and don’t forget the Copyright Page! Some people are worried about copyrights. The United States backs up the “Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works,” which means your work is protected from the moment you create it. You own the copyright to any work you create when you put it in a readable form. By placing the copyright symbol © on your work, you are saying that you own the rights.

Give a date of the original publication with your name, such as: Copyright © YEAR, Your Name. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission in writing from the author.

You want your book to look professional. Check every page and make sure the “chapter page,” which says Chapter One, etc., is on the right side. The right side is always the odd numbered pages. If you need to, you can have a blank page or a photo on the left side.

Example

Add photos! They help in telling a story. Remember to scan your pictures at 300 dpi for the best resolution. You don’t need to scan it any higher. When inserting your photo, I wouldn’t choose “wrap around” because the photo tends to move about. I would click “insert” at the top of the Word Document and insert it either above or below your paragraph. Or you can put them on the left side of the page, separate from your writing, like the example above.

There are many places to publish your book but my favorite is KDP. Kindle Direct Publishing is an “Independent Publisher” and the quality is excellent. You don’t have to pay anything upfront or buy a certain amount of books. It is absolutely free. All you have to do is upload your manuscript in the correct size you prefer. If you need any help with a book cover, they have a place on the KDP website where you can create your own book cover.

KDP will make your book available on Amazon and at Barnes and Nobles. Also, you get to set the retail price. Remember! You only have to pay the printing cost when ordering your books. Not the retail price. You can buy them on the KDP website where you uploaded your book. You are not limited to how many books you can buy. You can buy as many as you want at any time and as many times as you like.

Here are some examples. For a 5.25 X 8 inch black and white paperback, 241 pages, I pay $3.79. For an 8X10 paperback in color, 72 pages, I pay $3.44. The quality is excellent. KDP allows you to publish your book as a paperback, an eBook, and as a hard copy.

If you have any questions, let me know your concerns and I’ll try to answer them.

Here are some examples of book covers that my husband created for the biographies that I published.

Writing and Arts

Tips For Writing a Biography

Part 3

Putting Yourself in Your Ancestor’s Shoes

Adding emotion to your story is very important. If you don’t weep while telling a tragic story, then begin again. If you don’t laugh during a hilarious incident, then write it again. You need to touch the hearts of your readers. How do you do that? By adding emotion and describing how you or your ancestors must have felt. It’s important to add feelings of fear, frustration, anger, etc. If you’re writing your own story, tell how you felt.

Fear: My knees shook, my heart beat rapidly, I trembled.

Anger: My face turned red, I clenched my jaw, I stomped my foot.

Frustration: I threw my hands in the air, I shook my head with frustration and said…

Love: Your children would love to find out how you felt about their father when you first met.

 Here is an example of showing fear in my father’s biography. “Once Marcus came up with a terrific idea. His sisters, Frances and Edith, stayed home from church one evening because they were feeling sick. Around 9:00 pm, he snuck home, pulled a silk stocking over his face, and peered through the window at his sisters. When they saw the most grotesque looking face staring back at them, the girls screamed at the top of their voices and hid under the kitchen table. They were frightened and were trembling as tears ran down their face. When Marcus heard them, he opened the door and walked into the house with the stocking still over his head and gently said, “Don’t cry little girls. I won’t hurt you.” When they recognized his voice, they became angry and told their parents what he had done. Needless to say, he got into trouble over this little incident.”

When I asked my aunt about this experience, she said it was the most “grotesque looking face” she had ever seen, so I used her very words. She said they were scared and began crying. Instead of saying they were scared, I wrote: They were frightened and were trembling as tears ran down their face. By describing fear, it brings the reader into the story and they understand how the girls felt. You must put yourself in your ancestor’s shoes.

When my grandmother wrote about some experiences she had in her journal, I was impressed with how she described fear. This is what she wrote:

“I knocked at the door of a wealthy home. The man came out, took my tract, tore it into bits and called his large dog out of the house. I left with that dog pursuing me. With my hair rising and a terrible fear attacking me, I silently prayed and something told me to whirl about and thrust my open umbrella at him. I did so and that huge dog retreated. Then I told his inhuman master a few things.”

It was easy to feel what my grandmother felt when I read: “with my hair rising and a terrible fear attacking me.” That was a perfect description. Here’s another example from her journal.

“I took to the center of the road as it was darker on the walks and I didn’t like to get too near those weird looking factory buildings and alleys on both sides of the silent streets. Presently I heard footsteps. I saw a man following me. As I hurried, he also did. My tongue became dry and fear seized me. I prayed as I ran. I not only ran but I flew. How I crossed that tiny footbridge, I never knew! But I couldn’t feel the touch of the ground under my feet as I sped onward. With my Bible clutched tightly under my arm, I had left the man, downs, and everything behind, and was soon on the lighted highway and home.”

That was a great description of fear. If you have written your own autobiography or an ancestor’s account of a fearful experience, read it again and notice if you added “emotion” to your story. It will be hard for the reader to put down the book.

How would you describe feelings of love? My parents had been writing to one another for about a year before they met one another. When I asked my mother what it was like when they first met, this is what she told me. “When our eyes met, my heart leapt within me and a warm glow filled my soul, telling me that he was the man I was going to marry.”

I am so grateful that she told me how she felt. It was the perfect description. But how did my father feel? This is my father’s account: “All I remember is a wonderful perfect dream that goes through my mind like a marathon night and day. I dreamed I met a girl Saturday night, a perfect girl whom I had been thinking of, who far surpassed my imagination. As we swept over the floor to the rhythm of the music I was in love with her from that moment.”

It really touched my heart to read his description. As I was writing my own autobiography for my children, I thought about my feelings for my husband. We were good friends in college and we hung out together with our friends. When he invited me on a date, I thought nothing of it. But as we got to know one another, my feelings for him began to change. This is how I described how I felt in my autobiography:

“Looking into his eyes, I knew I’d fallen in love with my friend. I couldn’t deny it. My heart fluttered each time he held my hand or smiled at me. If that wasn’t love, I was fooling myself.”

Remember! Emotions, feelings, moods, and describing how you felt are very important. It brings a story to life. It helps the reader to become part of the story and want to read on. What is the secret? You must put yourself in your ancestor’s shoes.

Next week, I’ll post Part 4: Editing & Publishing Your Biography.

Writing and Arts

Tips For Writing a Biography

Part 2

Writing Your First Story

 Your Research is done. You are now going to write your first short story. How do you organize your story to make it interesting? First thing to do is divide it into four sections.

1. The Hook: Introduce your ancestor. Tell something interesting about him or her. If you’re writing your autobiography, introduce yourself. I will use my great grandmother’s biography as an example:

“Sarah Eckersley was a little over a year old when her parents left England on the ship Palmyra. They were six weeks crossing the ocean. On the trip, Sarah was taken ill and her fever was so high that she lost her hearing. When they noticed something was wrong with Sarah, her father shot off a gun and she did not respond. Sarah was deaf.”

2. Develop your Ancestor: Describe your relative’s personality. What does he or she look like? I will now continue to give an example of Sarah.

  1. Sarah’s mother taught her sign language and she soon was able to communicate with others.
  2. Sarah grew to be a beautiful young woman with black hair and blue eyes, five foot and five inches tall.    
  3. Sarah could tell when the train was coming when it was three miles away because she could feel the vibrations of the train.
  4. Sarah was a very good swimmer and would dive into the water with such poise and grace that passersby would throw coins in the creek to watch her dive after them. 
  5. She enjoyed dancing. Even though she was deaf, Sarah could feel the beat and vibrations of the music and she danced with such grace that most every gentleman wanted to dance with her.

3. Construct Events: It sets the stage for what you’re about to tell your reader, leading up to the purpose of the story. Continuing Sarah’s story, here is another example:

“Sarah had to rely on women’s intuition to raise her family. She knew when her baby was awake and needed her. Her husband never had to tell her. She sensed it. At night, she would wake up even before her baby cried. When the neighbors were visiting, they were amazed when Sarah excused herself to get her baby who had just awakened from a nap.”

4. Present the Theme of Your Story: You are now ready to narrate your story. Your character should be faced with a decision to make or a problem to solve. This is the plot of the story. In this biography, Sarah senses that someone is in her home. What is she going to do about it? She has a decision to make and a problem to solve. Sarah’s story continues.

“After returning from town, she sensed the presence of someone in the house. Acting quickly, she grabbed her broom and began searching her home. She had a feeling to check her bedroom. But when she entered the room, no one was in sight.

 “Quietly stepping to her bed, she looked under it. There she found an evil man crouched and waiting for Sarah. But he was not prepared for a strong and determined woman with a weapon in her hands.

“With all the strength she had, Sarah whacked him out from under the bed with the broom. Hitting him over the head again and again, she chased him from the house and down the street. Sarah had spirit. This man thought he could take advantage of her since she was deaf, but he did not expect such courage and fled.”

By narrating Sarah’s experience, her story comes to life. How would it have sounded with just the facts and no narration? Here is an example: Sarah sensed the presence of someone in the house. She grabbed her broom and began searching. When she looked under her bed, she found a man crouched and waiting for her. Sarah whacked him out from under the bed with her broom and chased him out of the house.

Did you feel part of the story with just the facts? Write your story in narrative style. Keep it interesting. Add description.

Here is another example from my father’s biography with the facts only: The skunks were always trying to get into the chicken coop. So Marcus was asked to bury the skunks his father had shot. Before burying them, he would drain their scent into a bottle. When he took the “skunk oil” to school to show his friends, he accidentally dropped it and it splattered all over the floor. It smelled so bad that the teacher excused school for the rest of the day. His friends considered him a hero because he had gotten everyone out of school.

Now… taking these facts, I narrated this story and added description. This is how my father’s story turned out.

“When Marcus was thirteen, one day he closed down the school. It wasn’t on purpose, but his friends thought he was a hero. Marcus was asked to bury the skunks that his father had shot. Before he buried these skunks, he went to his bedroom and got his glass jar. Then he drained their scent glands and screwed on the lid nice and tight.

“The following day, he took the “skunk oil” to school with him to show his classmates. Marcus was so excited as he explained what he had done. His friends were listening and a few girls were peeking over his shoulder. They had never seen “skunk oil” before. With all the excitement and attention he was receiving, he felt the bottle slip from his hands and land on the floor of the schoolroom.

“The bottle broke into a million pieces and skunk oil splattered everywhere. It landed on the pant legs of his friends, the skirts of young girls standing nearby, and on his own shoes. As the oil saturated the wooden floor, the children moaned as the room filled with the most putrid, foul, disgusting, detestable odor anyone had ever breathed in. 

“The children instantly held their noses with their fingers and turned and ran out the door, stumbling over one another as they ran. Marcus was close behind. And so was the teacher! She excused school for the rest of the day and Marcus did not get into trouble. He figured the children were so excited to get out of school that no one told on him.”

It is important to narrate your story by putting yourself in your ancestor’s shoes. Make the story interesting. Paint a picture like an artist, making the scenery and characters believable.

Next week, I’ll post Part 3: Putting Yourself in Your Ancestor’s Shoes.

Writing and Arts

Tips For Writing a Biography

Part 1

Reasons you should write the stories of your parents, grandparents, and ancestors: Learning about your ancestors can be so much fun. As I learned more and more about my ancestors, it was the beginning of a marvelous experience.

The importance of writing your family history can never be over emphasized. Each of us has a story from our ancestors or even our very own story to tell. If these stories are unwritten, how are your children going to know their heritage or family traditions from the past? Are these stories and traditions going to be lost to your children because you failed to put them down on paper? It’s up to you to write down these experiences.

Why should you write their stories? The memory of your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents will live on if you write them down. Secondly, did you know that their lives were and are an influence on us? Who do you take after? What genetics were passed on to you? Lastly, if you don’t write their stories down, future generations won’t know about them. It’s time to get busy! Take the time to write the stories that have been passed down to you. Or you can write your own autobiography.

Whether you’re writing about a loved one or your own story, you might feel that it is overwhelming and aren’t sure how to begin. If you have an inspiring story to tell or intriguing incident to describe, perhaps writing each experience as short stories would be easier for you, rather than beginning at birth and listing everything they did or you did chronologically. Each chapter could be a short story.

In this four-part series, I will explain how to write each experience as a short story so it’s easy to understand and you won’t feel overwhelmed.

You Must Research 3 Things Before Writing Your Story

1. The area your story takes place: Find out everything you can about the area to educate your readers and make the setting feel real. Describe what the area looks like. If you can’t go there in person, do research online.

2. Your parents or grandparents: Find out what they were like, their strengths and weaknesses, their hobbies, their failures and victories. What was their occupation? Ask friends, neighbors, and family about them. Get them together with friends who like to reminisce. That works every time. It would be good to take along a recorder. If you don’t know much about them, don’t worry. You will get to know them as you write their stories.

3. The time period: What were the hairstyles or clothes styles like? During the roaring twenties, women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair, but the new style created a lot of trouble. Some women were fired from their jobs. A New Jersey schoolteacher was told that if she grew her hair back then the school board wouldn’t fire her. In a 1925 newspaper, a preacher warned his congregation that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” Did your mother bob her hair?

What kind of games did they play? Men played games that challenged their strength such as: wrestling and stick-pull. Did your grandmother play with paper dolls? They have been around for over 200 years. You can find paper dolls online that date back to the 1800s to add to your story.

How about jump rope rhymes? A guest at one of my classes told me that she wanted to teach her grandchildren the jump rope rhymes that she grew up with but couldn’t remember them. So she searched online and found them. Don’t you think your children would get a big kick out of the rhymes you grew up with? Add them to your story. Here are two that you might remember:

Cinderella dressed in yella,
Went downstairs to kiss a fella,
Made a mistake and kissed a snake.
How many doctors did it take
1, 2, 3, . . .

I eat my peas with honey,
I’ve done it all my life.
It looks a little funny.
But it keeps them on my knife.
How many peas can I get on my knife?
1, 2, 3, . . .

Put a bit of history in your story to let your family know what it was like to live at that time period. Did you know that they rationed gas to 3 gallons per week during World War II? In my father’s letters to my mother, he said he couldn’t drive up to see her very often because of the rationing of gas and tires. They even rationed silk stockings. How did the women react to the rationing of silk stockings? My mother told me that she put leg makeup on her legs and drew a line down the back of her leg with an eyebrow pencil so it would look like the seam of a silk stocking.

In one of my classes, a woman told me that her little brother had lost his shoe. It fell in a canal and floated away. When they went to town to buy some shoes, they found that they were being rationed and had to be on a waiting list. A gentleman in one of my classes told me that his mother was on a waiting list for a washing machine because the metal was being used for the war. But that wasn’t all. Sugar, meat, and other foods were being rationed. Spam became very popular during that time period. World War II affected everyone’s lives.

When your research is done, you will be ready to write your story. Next week I’ll post Part 2: Writing Your First Story.

Writing and Arts

Why We Celebrate Mother’s Day: A Sentimental Time

The inspiration for Mother’s Day came from several women. In 1868, Ann Reeves Jarvis organized a “Mother’s Friendship Day.” The women would gather together, hoping to promote unity between the Southern and Northern states.

An abolitionist and suffragette, Julia Ward Howe was another woman who influenced Mother’s Day. In 1870, she noticed the unrest after the Civil War. So she wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” asking all mothers to be united in helping promote world peace. In 1873, Julia campaigned for “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every year.

Another temperance activist, Juliet Calhoun Blakely, promoted “Mother’s Day” in Albion, Michigan in the 1870s. But it didn’t stop there. In the early 1900s, Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering worked hard to organize “Mother’s Day.” Some People have actually called Frank Hering the “Father of Mother’s Day.”

After the death of Ann Reeves Jarvis, her daughter, Anna Jarvis campaigned to have Mother’s Day a yearly holiday. In May of 1908, she put together a Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church and then set to work campaigning for it to be a day of honoring motherhood. She wrote letters to newspapers and politicians, explaining that holidays were solely about the achievements of men.

By 1912 several states were celebrating Mother’s Day as a yearly holiday. Realizing how popular it was becoming, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914, making it officially a holiday every second Sunday in May.

The tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day varies around the world. In the United Kingdom, it originally began as a religious holiday called Mothering Sunday. Between the 1500s and 1600s, the Church of England celebrated Mothering Sunday by giving honor to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Everyone was encouraged to return to his or her “mother church” for a special service. Years later, they included all mothers.

In Mexico, it is tradition to wake up their mother early in the morning with singing. There are all sorts of festivities going on to attend with bright colorful decorations. The day is full of song and dancing and delicious food. In Finland, they recognize Mother’s Day as a national festival and holiday. It is a time of celebration where metals are given to mothers who made a difference in their country. But festival-type celebrations aren’t the case with every country.

In Israel, it is modestly celebrated. Mother’s Day is not commercialized because it is against the Jewish culture. There is no gift giving because it is considered a family day to spend with loved ones. In Quebec, it is tradition for the Canadian Frenchmen to give a rose to their mothers and wives to show their love and devotion.

There is one country that celebrates unlike any other. In Bolivia, Mother’s Day has a deeper meaning. It is a day to remember the brave women who gave their lives for their country. On May 27, 1812, a large group of Bolivian women stood against the Spanish Army with weapons in their hands, ready to fight for their freedom, for their family, and for their country. They had faith in God and stood firm. In honor of these courageous women, Bolivia declared it to be an official holiday in 1927, celebrating and giving thanks to all mothers and women.

Throughout the world Mother’s Day is celebrated in different ways. It is a time when phone calls are made more often than any other holiday. In a survey, it is estimated that 122.5 million phone calls are made on Mother’s Day.

For me, it is a sentimental time when I think of my mother, who has passed on. I remember a song she taught me that touches my heart every time I sing it. Songs My Mother Taught Me was written by Antonin Dvorak.

Songs my mother taught me in the days long vanished,

Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.

Now I teach my children each melodious measure;

Often tears are flowing from my memory’s treasure.

How I wish my mother were here so I could celebrate with her! How I wish I could feel her loving arms around me once more! How are you going to celebrate and give honor to your mother this year?

Writing and Arts

Why We Celebrate May Day

May Day is a fun way to celebrate spring. Years ago, the Celts celebrated this holiday on May 1st, welcoming in a change of the season. It was celebrated with bonfires that symbolized the return of life. A popular tradition was dancing around the Maypole that was covered with ribbons. The day was full of merriment and festivities. It was a day to gather together and celebrate life.

The Maypole Dance didn’t last long in America, though, because the Puritans discouraged everyone from celebrating the holiday and punished anyone who danced around the maypole. They felt it was a worldly custom and shunned it, because people would drink and indulge in riotous behavior. But some Americans continued to celebrate May Day with baskets of sweets and flowers that they hung on the doors of their friends.

How do we celebrate May Day today in America? Some people secretly leave a basket of flowers on the door of a friend with a note. In school, teachers have the children decorate a May Pole with ribbons and the children dance around it, holding onto one of the ribbons as they wind it around the pole.

In Hawaii, it is called Lei Day. They have lei-making competitions for everyone to participate. To enter the Lei Day Queen contest, the young lady has to make a beautiful lei and perform a hula dance for the judges. She is judged by her poise, grace, and dignity. Afterwards, they celebrate with Hawaiian music and dancing.

In Greece, the children wake up early in the morning and search for a swallow. When the bird is found, they immediately go to the homes of their neighbors and sing spring songs to them. In celebration of May Day, the neighbors give the children cakes, fruits, and nuts.

In France, May Day is dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. They have a parade and young women honor her by carrying a statue of Mary with a crown of flowers about her head. Cows are also an important part of the parade. It is the custom to drink warm milk directly from the cow on May Day, because it brings good luck.

In Germany, a young woman might find a decorated maypole outside her home in the wee hours of the morning, which represents a token of love. To show she is interested in the young man, she leaves a heart-shaped decoration made with roses on his porch.

In Finland, they begin celebrating the eve of May Day by decorating the town’s statues with ribbons. Some people continue celebrating all night without any sleep. On May Day, they close down the streets and have carnival-style parties. At this time, the high school graduates wear their white graduation hats.

Decorating a May Bush

In Ireland, it isn’t May Day without a May Bush. They decorate a small tree or bush with ribbons, streamers, tinsel, and colored eggshells that were painted for Easter Sunday. Sometimes they attach candles to it. A May Bush is one they can carry about town or one that is growing in their yard. A popular rhyme the children recite is: Long Life, a pretty wife and a candle for the May Bush. The children chant this when collecting candles for their bush.

May Pole dancing is also popular in Ireland. In the Evening, they have a bonfire and dance around it. On a website called Our Irish Heritage, it says the “customary dance involved the men and women joining hands to form a large circle with a dancer weaving in and out of the circle under their arms and collecting other dancers to follow after them.”

That sounds like so much fun. If you’re in the mood of celebrating May Day, invite family and friends over. Serve them some goodies and delicious strawberry lemonade. How about putting together a May Day basket and give it to an elderly person who needs some cheering up? If you haven’t celebrated May Day before, why not start today?

Strawberry Lemonade

8 – 12 large strawberries

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 C water

Put strawberries, sugar, and water in a blender.

6 cups water

1 cup white sugar

10 freshly squeezed lemons

In a pitcher, combine strawberry juice and rest of ingredients. Add ice.