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  • Merry Christmas

    The story of Christmas…

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    In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. 

    And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

     And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

    Luke 2: 1-7

     

    via GIPHY

     

    And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 

    10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

    12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

    Luke 2: 8-14

    via GIPHY

     

    15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

    16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 

    19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

    Luke 2: 15-20

     

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    Wishing all my friends and readers a very Blessed and Merry Christmas.

     

    via GIPHY


  • Happy Thanksgiving

    We have so much to be thankful for.
    I have been blessed with a loving family & good friends, many of whom I have never met personally; they are friends I met online.

    It’s is important to have the love of family and friends, and for this I am thankful.

     

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    The past year has been a trial. The lead up to the general election was a time of great division and discord. But now it’s over, and I am thankful for our republic.

    We now have a new president elect who is filling cabinet positions with great Americans. I’m very thankful the election is over, and I hope our country can heal.

    A great many lives will be saved when Planned Parenthood is defunded. I have been fighting for the rights of the unborn for the past eight years. Each year we asked our representatives to help lessen the amount of innocent life taken in clinics across America.

    But nothing changed. Millions of unborn infants, some of them viable, had their tiny heartbeats stopped. And we were paying for this through our hard earned tax dollars.

    We asked and asked and asked the government to defund Planned Parenthood, but they refused to fight for the babies, even after evidence that baby body parts were being sold for profit was caught on video.

    But now things are different. I have prayed daily for those who have no voice. These children can’t speak for themselves. They have only us to help them.

    Hillary Clinton, in a statement, said that these unborn American babies have NO rights.

    Think about that. No rights. None.

    I’m thankful Mrs. Clinton didn’t win the election, if only for this reason. Under a Trump presidency, unborn babies have a better chance of making it into the world, where one of them may grow up to be president someday.

     

    Prayers for Children, Born and Unborn

    For orphaned children throughout the world,
    and especially those
    who are abused or neglected,
    that we might work to save them;
    We pray to the Lord

    For children who are unwanted by their parents,
    that God’s grace might send others to love
    and care for them;
    We pray to the Lord

    For the children of our country,
    especially those who are forgotten or neglected,
    that their presence might remind us
    of the infinite value of human life;
    We pray to the Lord

    For every little child:
    That we might accept and preserve each one
    as a sign of the infinite love of God for us;
    We pray to the Lord

    For all unborn children:
    that our love for them may keep them safe
    until the joyous day of their birth;
    We pray to the Lord

    That the Lord,
    who rescues the life of the poor
    from the power of the wicked,
    might send an angel to guard and protect
    all unborn children;
    We pray to the Lord

    For every little child
    and especially for those who
    live in their mother’s womb,
    that they might grow
    in the image and likeness of
    the God who made them;
    We pray to the Lord

    For the littlest child in her mother’s womb,
    that in her life we may see the infinite love of God;
    We pray to the Lord

    That through the intercession of Saint Vincent,
    who spilled his blood for the defense of the Gospel,
    the lives of unborn children may be spared;
    We pray to the Lord

    For all children who have died from abortion,
    that God might cradle them in his arms
    and grant them eternal peace with him;
    We pray to the Lord

    For every child who lives in the womb,
    that God might send an angel to guard and protect
    the innocent and defenseless;
    We pray to the Lord

    For all unborn children,
    and especially for the babies of unmarried mothers,
    that God might send an angel to protect them:
    We pray to the Lord

    For the children who have died from abortion in our nation,
    and for their mothers and fathers,
    for mercy, peace and the loving embrace of Christ:
    We pray to the Lord

    For little children,
    who await the birth of a brother or sister:
    that they may learn to cherish
    the child in her mother’s womb;
    We pray to the Lord

     

     

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    Wishing everyone a Blessed and HappyThanksgiving. 

     

    God Bless America

     


  • Back to the Real World ~ Home from Vacation

    I was away on vacation last week with no internet, and that’s why I haven’t blogged.

     

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    The boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, DE

     

    My husband and I usually spend two weeks at the beach each summer, one in June and the other in September. Last week we had a great time at the Delaware Beaches.

    We visited relatives who live in the area–my mother’s brother and sister and their spouses. It’s always great to see family, and they seemed to be happy to see us.

    It rained most of Tuesday, the first full day we were there. Still, it was a refreshing change.

    We spent a good amount of time riding my husband’s Harley-Davidson to various beaches and the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk, which was still relatively crowded, even out of season.

    The most fun we had was at an old time photo studio. We got dressed up as robbers during prohibition and are pictured in front of the Genco Olive Oil Company, from The Godfather.

     

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    Sunset at Rehoboth Beach

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    It was a terrific week away. Here are more pictures:

     

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    View of Atlantic from Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach.

     

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    Dunes at Roosevelt Inlet, Delaware Bay, Lewes, DE.

     

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    Roosevelt Inlet.

     

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    Sunset at Lewes Beach.

    We arrived back in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon, so my husband could get ready to go back to work on Sunday.

    He works in a mall. Our vacation was perfectly timed, since there have been a string of terrorist attacks/violence at American malls recently. Hearing of these attacks, and knowing he has no weapon, nor any way other than perhaps a tool of some sort with which to defend himself at work, caused me mental anguish.

    Combined with knowing summer is over, and with it much of the sunshine and daylight, hearing of people being attacked and killed in malls brought on a terrible attack of anxiety/depression. It knocked to my knees for a few days, and prevented me from doing much of anything.

    But depression is my illness. It’s horrible and chronic and I wish I didn’t have it, but everyone has something, and this is what I was given. So I don’t complain too much.

    I wrote a post about my affliction last year.

     

    Though my depression/anxiety is under control for the most part, due to a doctor who listens and works with me, I still have periodic episodes, one of which is happening now, as I write this.

    Too many things have happened this past week. Some are small things that should upset no one, such as a darling and perfectly adorable grandson going through the terrible twos, who snaps and shrieks when looked at. Such a thing is funny, and I laugh accordingly, but my senses weren’t made for such overload. After two days, the shrieks seemed as loud as a fire siren to me.

    Another was watching my beloved granddaughter be shunned at a playground. Such a thing happens to every child, and she forgot about it within a few minutes. Why then, does it stay with me? Why do I look at the future and see other such scenarios in store for this child, whom I love with all my heart? Why must I borrow trouble?

    Still other contributors were news stories. These I have no control over, and I sometimes pay zero attention because the news is terribly depressing in and of itself, on many fronts and for many reasons. However, it’s not in my nature to be an ostrich. I have to keep up with current events.

     

    Some people can’t understand what depression is, and nobody can blame them; it’s hard to describe it to people who haven’t suffered it. And I’m happy for people who don’t understand it. I wouldn’t wish depression/anxiety on my worst enemy.

    But enough of this. I spent a week away, and returned home rested in body and mind.

    This week I am working on revisions to the Cadáin’s Watch manuscript, and It’s great to be back home, doing what I love.

     

    Related Posts:

    I Wish You Peace

    I Tried Yoga and I Love it ~ Leslie Sansone’s You can do Yoga

     

     


  • Saint Augustine and The Donald

    Today, in the Catholic Church, is the feast day of Saint Augustine of Hippo.

     

    Son of a pagan father who converted on his death bed, and of Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Raised a Christian, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of GodTaught rhetoric at Carthage and MilanItaly. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”

     

    As you can see, Augustine was sort of a sinner in his younger years. Here’s the operative quote: “God, give me chastity and continence – but not just now.”

    Yet Augustine turned his life around and became such a devoted follower of Christ that he was canonized a saint and a Doctor of the Church.

    So…what does Saint Augustine have to do with Trump?

    Sigh… my opinion won’t be popular. Still, it’s my opinion, and to comfort myself and others who are voting for Trump, I’m going to use the therapy of writing to say why.

    During my daily Scripture reading and reflections, I have always applied the Scripture and the gospels to my everyday life. I’m not sure if other people do this, but I do, and I have for many years.

    Today’s Mass readings and the homily, combined with it being the feast day of St. Augustine, brought on the following reflection.

    If Saint Augustine were here today, in 2016, would he have ever become a saint? With his life–running around with women, getting drunk, having an illegitimate child, defying his mom St. Monica and causing her to cry about him and what he was doing–would the court of public opinion and the call of the world by the “cool people” have, perhaps, drawn him away from the Lord?

    Probably not; lots of people turn their lives around, regret things they did while they were young, and count on the goodwill of others to forgive them and not hold it over their heads.

    But, there are always those who refuse to believe anyone who once led a life of ill repute can ever really turn around.

    So, during Mass, I listened to the following:

     

    My child, conduct your affairs with humility,
    and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
    Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
    and you will find favor with God.
    What is too sublime for you, seek not,
    into things beyond your strength search not.
    The mind of a sage appreciates proverbs,
    and an attentive ear is the joy of the wise.
    Water quenches a flaming fire,
    and alms atone for sins.
    SIRACH 3:17-18, 20, 28-29

     

    And then this passage from the Gospel of Luke:

     

    On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
    at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
    and the people there were observing him carefully.

    He told a parable to those who had been invited,
    noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
    “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
    do not recline at table in the place of honor.
    A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
    and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
    ‘Give your place to this man,’
    and then you would proceed with embarrassment
    to take the lowest place.
    Rather, when you are invited,
    go and take the lowest place
    so that when the host comes to you he may say,
    ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’
    Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
    For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
    but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    Then he said to the host who invited him,
    “When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
    do not invite your friends or your brothers
    or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
    in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
    Rather, when you hold a banquet,
    invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
    blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
    For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

     

    LUKE 14:1, 7-14

     

    The priest’s homily was all about “tooting your own horn”, and how people in business must advertise in order to let consumers know that they have a good product, so the above passage from Sirach is a hard one to live up to.

    And how about that parable in the Gospel? Jesus told us to not get too big for our britches, and to invite people who can’t do anything for us into our homes, etc.

    So, again, what’s all this got to do with Trump? He’s a terrible sinner and a bad dude, as many of the leading people in the Conservative movement tell us.

     

    Here’s an example from a recent article in National Review, by David French, who thought he might run for president as an independent earlier in the year.

     

    Look, this was bound to get ugly. It’s been ugly for a long time. Because Trump represents such a radical departure from decades of Republican leadership, the choice to support him involves a host of moral compromises that are atypical for a Republican primary, much less the general election. And since most of us in the conservative movement scorn notions of moral relativism, we’re simply not going to be content with reasoning that says, “My choice is right for me; your choice is right for you.”

     

    Here’s more

     

    The Kentucky church my wife and I frequented early in our marriage was one of the best churches I’ve ever attended. Never before or since have I seen such zeal for the Gospel or such a desire to reach the most desperate and vulnerable members of society. It wasn’t a wealthy church. I was the only lawyer in the congregation, and there was only one doctor. Many people struggled to make ends meet.

    Sadly, that rendered them vulnerable to scams, and when a diet-pill pyramid scheme started racing through the congregation, I was aghast. People were spending money they didn’t have to join networks and create “down lines,” firmly believing that economic salvation was at hand. The sales pitch was slick, but the pills scarcely disguised the pyramid. One presenter even said, “You can get rich without even selling any pills.”

    I’d worked on consumer fraud cases before, and I thought that I could help stop the madness. I went to the presentations, I researched the materials, and then I started talking to friends. Some listened, but most got mad and a few got furious. To this day, those are some of the most painful conversations I’ve ever had, and I realize now why: My friends were hearing two voices. One of them was speaking authoritatively about numbers and dollars and selling hope. The other was speaking with the same degree of assurance about numbers and dollars but was instead trying to extinguish hope. I never stood a chance.

    Yes, voters have a responsibility to exercise good judgment. But the greatest responsibility lies with the con artist and his knowing enablers. Trump — like Obama before him — is selling hope. But that hope is a false hope, and all those “establishment” figures who scorn the alleged “moral preening” of Never Trump know it. They’re aware of the pyramid scheme, and they choose to further it anyway, like the minions who circulate to cheap hotels across the land, pitching scams in meeting rooms. They’re co-conspirators. No one likes to be told they’re wrong. But it is, in fact, wrong to support Trump, and when I see a member of the GOP establishment selling the Trump brand, I’m transported back to Kentucky, watching a huckster exploit people I love.

     

    I’m not questioning French’s motives in telling people what he believes, but it is a bit insulting that he considers every person who is voting Trump to have been taken in by a snake oil salesman and a con.

    I mean… there are doctors, lawyers, and many other professionals who voted Trump in the primaries. Were they all that foolish? Did they all really buy themselves some snake oil?

    Or did they just have a different opinion than French and the others at NRO, the Weekly Standard, The Resurgent, and the other publications that hate Trump?

    You can make your own decision on that question.

    Sigh… the above Gospel, where Christ asks us to invite everyone, no matter their social status, or how much money they have, or their disabilities, sort of disagrees with French’s condescending attitude toward the working class poor.

    He mentioned the people in his congregation and said they were taken in by a scam. I wonder if any of them have read his words. I myself fell for a scam once or twice in my time. Nobody knows about it, thank the Lord; I wouldn’t want anyone to talk about my foolishness, let alone write about it in a National publication.

    And how many of us have sinned in the past? I have; I’m a only a poor sinner with my many faults.

    I’m voting Trump because I still have hope in God. I don’t want to despair. If that makes me a buyer of snake oil, then so be it.

    I don’t know God’s mind. I don’t know everything. I have to believe that Trump is where he is for a reason, even if he was my next to last choice of candidates. (Trump beat Jeb Bush in my line-up).

    I’ve read many articles on why we should never vote for Trump, and many of them are quite a turn off. Many of the poor that Christ asked us to invite are most likely voting Trump.

    I’m not sure Jesus would approve of David French right now, especially because of this article, where he agreed with a fellow journalist that the poor who are in need of jobs should just suck it up, put their worldly possessions in a U-Haul, and get out of their rickety towns because the jobs are gone, and they’re never coming back.

    Perhaps the poor or unemployed want jobs to come back to their towns. Maybe they don’t want to be the 21st century Joads. I certainly don’t blame them. Why should they not give Trump a try? He can’t possibly be worse than Hillary, and he might even be better. Only God knows the future.

    As for Trump himself, I know for a fact that he has recently helped people in need. Click here.  Also, there are many testimonials, videos, articles and interviews that show without a doubt that Trump is not the boogeyman the NRO folks believe him to be, even though he never was, nor is he now, a saint.  I’m not going to link to all of them. They are easily found in a quick google search.

    From the linked article:

     

    Tony Perkins announced Friday that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s $100,000 donation for relief efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was received by the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, which is serving as a hub for distributing supplies and hot meals. 

    Perkins said: “All funds that are marked for disaster relief are being placed in an account separate from GSBC’s general fund and will be used only for expenses related to GSBC’s disaster related efforts and restoration. For example, these funds may be used to purchase relief-related supplies, material and services. The funds will not be used for normal church expenses, nor will the funds be used for cash grants to individuals. Any funds not used in this initial relief phase will be used for subsequent efforts to support and/or directly restore and rebuild homes and church facilities impacted by the flood.”

     

    Would Christ approve? Would Saint Augustine approve? You can decide for yourself. And, who are we to judge why Trump donated the money? Shouldn’t we just be happy that he did it?

    One more point. I have seen comments from Christians who are not voting Trump because they are afraid their own souls will be lost. One lady, commenting on a new friend’s Facebook post said that Trump voters are selling their souls to the devil.

    Another commenter, on twitter, said that she would not vote for either Hillary or Trump, as both are evil. Now I understand that some people can’t vote Trump because they simply don’t believe he is going to do what he says he will. And I do understand that; I was not exactly thrilled with his actions during the primaries.

    Also, it is none of my business what people do with their votes. Your vote is your vote and my vote is my vote.

    But to tell others they are selling their souls by voting for a human being to be president is rather… harsh.

    Also, the “vote for neither evil” sentiment seems to come from this one clergyman’s quote:

     

    Of two evils, choose neither.

    Charles Spurgeon

     

    Okay. So one clergyman who lived in the 1800’s is what you base your philosophy for voting in this important election upon?

    Remember who Trump is running against? I don’t need to list Hillary Clinton’s many crimes, her immorality or her evil intentions here, because everyone who isn’t a Democrat already knows what she is.

    This election is make or break for America and our freedoms. One quote?

    For perspective, here are some other quotes by Charles Spurgeon.

     

    ‘You are no saint,’ says the devil. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope, I have none. -Charles Spurgeon

     

     

    We do not pray to God to instruct Him as to what He should do; neither for a moment must we presume to dictate the method of the divine working. -Charles Spurgeon

     

     

    He who has felt his own ruin will not imagine the case of any to be hopeless; nor will he think them too fallen to be worthy his regard. -Charles Spurgeon

     

     

    Few men would dare to read their own autobiography if all their deeds were recorded in it; few can look back upon their entire career without a blush. -Charles Spurgeon

     

    And here’s one that’ll make you go hmmm… What does Charles Spurgeon mean by the following? Did he believe only “certain” people were “predestined” to get into heaven?

    What about Saint Augustine? Hmmm….

    I believe that nothing happens apart from divine determination and decree. We shall never be able to escape from the doctrine of divine predestination – the doctrine that God has foreordained certain people unto eternal life. -Charles Spurgeon

     

    And, for fellow Catholics, there’s this gem:

    If I were a Roman Catholic, I should turn a heretic, in sheer desperation, because I would rather go to heaven than go to purgatory. -Charles Spurgeon

     

    (Reminds me of Davy Crockett. “You can go to hell. I’m going to Texas.”)

    So…. Charles Spurgeon was sort of a mish-mash. Some good stuff in his quotes, but also some questionable tenets to his faith. I don’t think I’m going to base my vote on what he said 150 years ago.

    In fact, since our Mass readings today included a passage from the book of Sirach, Spurgeon, no matter how close to God he was, couldn’t possibly have read it, since the Protestants removed Sirach from the Bible. (And he would never have read it anyway, since he didn’t approve of Catholics).

    So, I’m voting for Trump. If I find out that I bought myself some snake oil, I’m sure David French will tell the whole world, and say: “I told you so.”

    But, what if he’s wrong?

     

    Related posts:

    Never Hillary, Pre-Convention Musings & a Reluctant Fisk

    I Wish You Peace

    Evil Never Rests


  • I Tried Yoga & I Love It ~ Leslie Sansone’s ‘You Can Do Yoga.’

    On the recommendation of my good friend Daria DiGiovanni, I ordered You Can Do Yoga by Leslie Sansone.

    Recently I had my yearly lab work, and my doctor informed me that I am in excellent physical health. My blood sugar is fine, and my cholesterol numbers are lower than they were last year.

    She was extremely pleased with my physical health, and told me to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing: Eating healthy, physical activity, managing stress and following her prescribed treatment for my anxiety/depression issues.

    Since keeping stress levels at a minimum is best for my health, I thought adding yoga three or four times a week would help me.  And it did. Daria was right; the workout was exactly as she described, easy to learn and fun.

    It also helped my lower back pain. The very first time I did the workout, my back felt better. I totally recommend this product, for anyone looking for less stress and more strength.

     

    Please read Daria’s review here.

    Related Posts:

    Combining Prayer with Staying Fit & Healthy

    Photo-Blog ~ Running as Therapy and Inspiration

     


  • I Wish You Peace

    During this time of terrible stress and division leading up to the most important election of our lives, many Americans are struggling to find peace.

    Especially people like me, who suffer from clinical depression and anxiety. Some days are so ridden with anxiety that I have great difficulty keeping myself calm. Today seems to be one of those days.

    This morning I got up early to go running and pray the Rosary, two things that usually set a positive foundation for the day. But now, at 7 pm, I find that I’m stressed out again.

    However, there are certain things that I have found to keep the anxiety at bay, even if they don’t always work, and so, I decided to write a list here in this post.

    To keep my anxiety levels as low as possible, here’s what I do.

    1) Reading Scripture and Prayer. This is a practice that helps immensely. I have quite a few apps installed on my phone, including Laudate, a Catholic resource with daily Mass readings, reflections and prayers. I also have the Bible app. This is of great help, because you can search for verses by typing in words, like peace, fear, love, trust, etc. There is always a verse at my fingertips to comfort me.

     

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    2) Turn off the TV. Yes, I mean really. This includes cable news. No TV, unless it’s for a quality program, movie or other entertainment.

    3) Silence. Most of the time my house is quiet, and when I’m working I sit next to the window, where all can hear are the sounds of birds, cicadas, the wind, and other peaceful country sounds.

    4) Limit news intake. I do not watch any mainstream news, and only listen to one program on talk radio. That’s it. Too much news/talk and debate is stressful. There are ways to keep informed without listening or watching news all day long.

    5) Be careful of social media. This is difficult for me, since I love being online, but too much of it hurts my health, since the trends are managed by leftists who try to demoralize people like me — we who do not want Hillary Clinton elected president.

    *note* When on Facebook, if the constant doom and gloom are too much for you, or you are a reluctant Trump supporter, and are voting AGAINST Hillary, please, do yourself a favor, and unfollow your Never Trump contacts.

    It is much too stressful to see the constant threads of name calling, scorn and derision. It’s very unfortunate that we are where we are, but it can’t be helped. It seems the differences are irreconcilable.

    If your friends constantly share nasty memes that deride the person running against Hillary (and/or the people who have chosen to vote for him, either as their first choice or as a last resort, like I am) please don’t feel that you must see it.

    If you see articles that cast aspersions on you or your family, perhaps suggesting that your conscience is in need of an overhaul, or that you are dumber than a box of hammers, you are not obligated to keep it coming through your newsfeed.

    The unfollow button is there for a reason. Use it, and don’t look back until after the election, when it may be safe to see what your friends are saying.

    6) Unfollow all clickbait sites, or other sites that cause stress. Yes. Just unfollow. Find some quality news that is as unbiased as possible, and weed out the crap.

    7) Stay off twitter trends. Do not look at trends. Twitter is in the tank for Hillary. They manage trends to make her look good, hiding her many crimes, her health problems, and other important news, while at the same time pushing the Republican candidate to the top of trends if he happens to say one wrong word.

    So, if you like twitter, just visit the accounts of friends, and of people who you trust to share the truth. Then leave.

    8) Exercise, fresh air and sunlight. Find some sort of activity, whether it be walking, running, a workout, the gym, or even sitting and lifting your arms up and down. Anything at all to get the stress off.

    Getting outside each day is very important too, even for just fifteen or twenty minutes.

     

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    9). Hug your family and spend time with them.

    10). Hug your pet.

    11) Try to find at least one thing to laugh about every day.

     

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    12) Read a good book. This is a must. Reading is an escape. Use it.

    13) Music. This one is one of my mainstays. Listen to the music you love every day, and get lost in it for awhile.

    14) Get plenty of sleep. This can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day, so hit the hay early every night.

    I have been using the disciplines above for some time, though I do at times backslide in some of them. These tricks do work to limit stress, and God knows everyone is suffering at least a little right now.

    Following is a song that is one of my favorites. It happened to come up on my playlist this morning, and has been in my head all day.

     

     

     

    I wish you peace, when times are hard
    The light to guide you through the dark
    And when storms are high and your dreams are low

    I wish you the strength to let love grow on,
    I wish you the strength to let love flow…

     

    So, in closing… I wish you peace.

     

     


  • Coping through the Election

    With all the worries laid on many of us due to upheavals in politics, government overreach, and other matters that shouldn’t be happening in a free country, we may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed.

    When the above are added to our everyday stresses of work and family, if we’re not careful we might become ill. Depression, anxiety, and stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches and sciatica. (I should know).

    So I’m going to simply trust in God that everything will work out as He planned. After all, with the exception of casting our own vote, we have no control. We can’t control what other folks choose to do, nor should we wish to. Everyone is an individual, and has their own reasons for their own positions. We should simply love our friends, period.

     

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    Matthew 7:12

     

    The above is a pretty good way to live. If everyone did it, the world would be a better place right now.

    A friend recently told me the following, which she had heard from someone else. I don’t know the author of this quote, but whoever it is seems a genius.

     

    Love others, trust God, the end.

     

    This is all we can do. Remember God’s words to His children:

     

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

    Jeremiah 29:11

     

    We should enjoy our lives. It’s going to be a long, hot summer. I’m gonna keep my cool, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    Unknown

     


  • Author Spotlight ~ Amie Gibbons (Part 2)

    Today’s spotlight features Amie Gibbons, author of a newly released novel, The Gods Defense, and numerous novellas and short stories.

    Last week Amie’s post explained Law basics for authors. In today’s post we learn that the 4th amendment protects Americans against unreasonable search and seizure.

    ____________________________________________________________________

     

    LAW BASICS FOR THE NON-SHARKIES – SEARCH AND SEIZURE

     

    Amie Gibbons(As always, this isn’t to be taken as any kind of legal advice, just some very simplified basics for the lay person, and a little bit of ranting lawyer.)

    We’ve all seen Law and Order, right?  Well, they don’t always get stuff right but they are usually pretty on about cops having to dance around the system to get to look through your shit.  And it’s this big pain and always seems like the 4th amendment and the getting a warrant thing is there to get in the cops’ way, right?

    If there is one of my legal posts I want you to remember, it’s this one.  Because the 4th amendment isn’t there to get in the cops’ way or to be a stupid bureaucratic hoop to jump through.

    The 4th amendment and the warrant are there to protect your rights.

    We’ll start from the top, the 4th Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    I can not even begin to describe the massive amounts of legal scholarship there is on this issue, the many thousands of cases picking at every little point possible to argue, and the millions of hours lawyers and law students have debated issues around this amendment.  So this will be a bare bones outline of the topic.

    When analyzing the 4th amendment, we have 4 basic steps we go through (4 for 4, the OCD in me loves that symmetry).

    1. To invoke the 4th amendment, what do you need first?

    Government conduct.  The Constitution only protects you from the government violating your rights.  Your boyfriend breaking in and reading your diary is not a Constitutional issue.

    And here’s the first point we debate in every criminal procedure class, what counts as government conduct?  Then we get into issue of somebody stealing stuff from someone’s house and giving it to the cops.  Does that count as government involvement?  Well, (every lawyer’s favorite answer) it depends.  Basically it comes down to specific case law in your jurisdiction and whether the judge believes in the end that the person acted alone or under a request from the police.

    1. Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy on your part?  If the following suggests yes, move to step 3.

    This first asks, was it your place that was violated?  Your house, car, apartment, private jet, body.  Was it yours?  If not, if it was something like a friend’s place, were you crashing there?  This gets messy but in TN at least, if you were an overnight guest at somebody’s place, you have some reasonable expectation of privacy.  As in, the cops come knocking on the door and ask to search, you can say no.

    And the next question is, did you hold whatever it was out to the public?  Was it in the garbage, an open field out back, or sitting on the porch?  Or was it something like a smell or the color of the car?  If it’s held out to the public, as in anyone not a cop could see without trespassing (basically, but again, this gets a hell of a lot more complicated), then the cops didn’t violate the 4th amendment by observing it.

    1. Did the police have a valid search warrant?

    They can search through your stuff with a search warrant.  That’s what the warrant is there for.  But, to be valid, it must i) be based upon probable cause (reasonable grounds to believe a legitimate item for seizure is located in a particular place) and ii) describe with particularity the person and places to be searched.  Again, it’s a lot more involved (especially in debating what counts for probably cause) but this is the basic idea.  So if they didn’t have a valid warrant, you go onto step 4.

    1. And this is the big kahuna step, it’s the one you see pop up in court and on TV most often.  There wasn’t a warrant, there was a violation of a reasonable expectation of privacy by the government, and the government is trying to keep the evidence in by arguing an exception.

    And exception to the search and seizure requires a warrant rule?  Yep.  And you know why?  Because the 4th amendment does not actually require a warrant!  Nope, go and read it again.  It has two parts.  Search and seizure can’t be unreasonable.  There’s a Supreme Court case that says it’s unreasonable without a warrant unless there’s one of the exceptions.

    As for what the exceptions are?  That’s a different legal basics post because it’s waaaaaay too involved and this one’s already pretty long.  (On my blog at https://amiecuscuriae.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/law-basics-for-the-non-sharkies-exceptions-to-the-warrant-rule-part-1/ and https://amiecuscuriae.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/law-basics-for-the-non-sharkies-exceptions-to-the-warrant-rule-part-2/ if you want to check those out.) Let’s just say, there’s a lot of them and a lot of ways to argue you are or are not in one.  This is where Prosecutors and Criminal Defense Attorneys earn their paychecks.

    The 4th amendment, it’s the big one.

    And why is that?  Why is it such a big deal?  Because if the court finds that the evidence was found in violation of the 4th amendment, the evidence gets tossed out.  Again, there’s exceptions, like if they can show they would’ve inevitably discovered the same evidence, but usually, violating rights loses cops the evidence.  It’s called the exclusionary rule.

    And I HATE this rule!

    There’s a long rant that goes with it, but the short version is: Since the rule only takes out the evidence in a trial, it punishes the system (and not the cops who did the violating in the first place) by letting the criminal go free, but provides NO remedy whenever it’s an innocent citizen whose rights were violated because that citizen is not on trial.  There was no evidence to find and to therefore keep out of a trial.

    The idea is that cops will be afraid if they find something that it will then be tossed out, and therefore they don’t violate anybody’s rights.  We wouldn’t have so many freaking cases on this if it were true, but hey.

    Moral of the story?  The law isn’t perfect, neither are cops, and if you want your rights protected you’ve got to know what they are.  You have the right to tell a cop asking you if he can search you or your place no.  If he then searches anyway, well, you might have something to hide that you can later try to get tossed out or you might have a cause to sue.

    And don’t forget to check out my new book The Gods Defense.

     

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  • Spring Cleaning

    My husband took a week off from work so we can get our house into shape. 

    Well, not only the house, but cars, motorcycle and other things. For the past few months we’ve been working on renovating and redecorating certain rooms of our home. It’s a work in progress, and won’t be complete for another year.

    The first thing we did was turn our old bathroom into a powder room by removing the shower stall. (It was approximately the size of a coffin, and I’m glad it’s gone). The powder room is beautiful, making up for the fact that I have to go all the way upstairs for a shower now, until we finally finish the home makeover with a new master bath.

    We changed out two rooms. Off the kitchen, we had a sitting area with a tiny TV inside an antique sideboard. Since we don’t watch much TV, this was the perfect set up. We could catch the weather in the morning, and go downstairs to watch Netflix in the evenings.

    Now our dining room furniture occupies the space formerly known as a sitting room, and the room we used as a dining room is a formal living room.

    A new master bedroom is next on the list, before the master bath. It’s quite a project, so my husband took this week to finish some painting and other needed jobs, like changing the oil in his Harley-Davidson and my car, and installing shocks or something. Plus, getting some seedlings ready for the garden.

    I’m getting ready for Easter, and a baby shower for my son & daughter-in-law, whose little boy was born 10 weeks early. The baby is doing well in the NICU, and has already gained back all the weight he lost after birth, plus 3 ounces 🙂

    So, there is spring cleaning going on. I’ve been washing all my quilts as I take them off the walls. Today I washed a few I hadn’t gotten to.

     

    quilts2
    A few of my quilts. I made all three. The Double Irish Chain quilt was my first. The Sunbonnet Girls were hand appliquéd and embroidered, using 1930s reproduction fabric. The other quilt is a Monkey Wrench or Churn Dash pattern which I made for my daughter, also using reproduction fabrics.

     

    I have always enjoyed hanging out my laundry. I take after my mother in this respect. (She lives next door and we share a clothesline). Mom has been hanging her laundry since she was married in 1956, and probably for much longer. She  loves hanging the laundry, and I do, too.

    I barely use a clothes dryer. I hang everything outside year round, unless the cold is too bitter or the snow is too deep. On those days I use the dryer, or a clothes rack. My mother hangs her clothes in her basement.

    Mom has a dryer now, but we never had one when I was growing up. This led to certain issues at times. During the winter, our jeans didn’t always get dry overnight on the basement clothesline, so every once in a while, my sister and I would go to school wearing damp jeans. Brrr.

    Cleaning the house is a pain, but after it’s finished, I always feel better.

     

    A comment on one of my recent posts stated that it was “all over the place,” and while it wasn’t true of that post, its seems it is with this post. Sometimes my mind needs a spring cleaning as well.

    Not really a cleaning; there’s nothing dirty there, or at least not that I know of. I just need some down time, or a change, to get myself out of the winter blues. This winter wasn’t bad weather-wise, in fact it was one of the best, but so many things have happened that I find I need to clear my head. If this post seems to be rambling, its because I’ve been under a lot of stress. Writing is therapy.

    Today I went running, which is also serious therapy.

    white clay
    Scenes from my run in White Clay Creek Preserve, here in Southern Chester Co., PA. The barn, top right, is not in the park, but on a road nearby.

     

    While running, I usually pray the Rosary and then listen to music. Today I prayed the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then ran without the music for awhile, praying for my little grandson, and others who came to mind.

    It’s a terrible thing to see friends so torn up about the candidates for president. I hate the division. This time in America seems the worst in my lifetime, and I am so concerned that I find I must just let go and let God, or else worry myself sick.

    I have been praying for God to send us a leader every day for months now. I find that asking and then saying “Your will be done,” takes away my anxiety. I don’t know what His answer will be, but I do trust that whatever happens, it will be for my good, the good of my loved ones, and the good of everyone who follows Him.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart
        and lean not on your own understanding;
    in all your ways submit to him,
        and he will make your paths straight.

    Proverbs 3: 5-6

    This verse has helped me tremendously. Any scripture regarding trust is a help to me, since I have spent parts of the past 7 years in a fog of crippling fear.

    Fear of Obamacare (which my family was blessed to have escaped), fear of my religious freedom being yanked away by the Democrats and their HHS mandate, fear of unemployment as my husbands job was outsourced, and when the contract was broken, watching him be forced to reapply for the same job he had been doing for over 20 years, seeing my sister struggle with unemployment, and the list goes on.

    The past 8 years have been a train wreck for many Americans. For me it culminated when I watched the man occupying the White House standing with his hand on his heart in front of a mural of Che Guevara in Cuba, alongside Fidel Castro’s brother.

    What a colossal slap in the face to all of us. And then the news of another terror attack in Europe. It’s too much, but I suppose I should get ready for more. Obama has almost a full year to further degrade us.

    I didn’t expect him to fly home from Cuba the way any other President would; I knew he would ever do that. I was sort of surprised to see him dancing the Tango in Argentina, though. Seems he can always go lower.

    The only consolation is that he will be gone next January. I hope God answers my prayers, and the the prayers of millions of other Americans who have suffered so much, and have been asking for a leader. We need a leader. We don’t need someone who believes it’s “her turn.”
    For those who vote with their vaginas, I hope you will not have to endure what many of us have had to endure. Even if some of your social issues do not progress in the way to which you have become accustomed, (my way or the highway) at least you will be safer with a strong Military, and counterterrorism measures put in place. So there will be an upside for you, as well as for the rest of us.

    Many prayers for the people of Brussels. I’m very sorry for what happened. America is weeping right along with you.

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
    and let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May the souls of the faithful departed,
    through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
    Amen.

     


  • Another Update On Book Three

    I recently blogged with an update on my progress regarding Cadáin’s Watch, the final installment of The Storms Of Transformation Series.

    As I said on March 6, life happens. And it continues to happen.

    Here’s an update on the update. I have a new grandson! My son and his wife are the proud parents of a new baby boy! Our little guy made an early appearance, but we’re thankful he’s doing well in the NICU.

    In addition to this blessing, I have many other things going on in my family life, and sometimes my writing time seems to shrink. So, I’m taking this opportunity to tell readers that I am working as hard as possible on book three, but I’m removing my self-imposed deadline.

    Deadlines are wonderful things, except for those times when they may be impossible to meet, because life happens.

    But please stay tuned. Cadian’s Watch is coming.

    The previous post is below, with an edit re the deadline.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    I want to give readers an update on my writing progress. Since December’s free promotion of book 2 in my series, The Notice, I have become aware of many new readers. I am so thankful for each and every person who invested time to read my work! You have no idea how encouraging it is when I see the “pages read” report on my Kindle account.

    Thank you, thank you, each and every one of you!

    As some of you know, book 3 in the Storms Of Transformation Series is entitled “Cadáin’s Watch. (Please click here to read some history, and how I came up with the title).

    Here’s an update on progress. I am 3/4 finished writing the first draft, and my plan, as of now, is to write the words “The End” as soon as is humanly possible. 🙂

    John Lennon, quote.

    You will note that I said “my plan.” But as John Lennon said, Life happens. And I must admit that Life threw me some curve balls in 2015.

    When I began work on Cadáin’s Watch one year ago, I expected to be finished and ready to publish by March of 2016. But again… Life.

    Most independent authors have day jobs. If you follow this blog, you may have read my reviews of books by other independent authors. And all of the authors have day jobs. Finding time to write, and then revise and revise again, while working or perhaps being a stay at home mom can be very challenging.

    In my case the circumstances are different. I don’t work outside the home, however, i still have a day job :) My job consists of being a good wife to my wonderful husband of 36 years, who is the breadwinner for our family, helping my daughter and son-in-law with child care for their two children while they work, and just generally being here for my family when I’m needed.

    So, I must work writing into my schedule. And I do. During the month of January, I was able to stick to a writing schedule, and made quite a lot of progress, but life always throws us curveballs.

    During 2015, I lost a whole month of writing time because my daughter had to have surgery. While she recovered, in addition to being ill and exhausted, she was unable to lift her toddlers. And so, I spent 3-5 days a week at her house. To read about my grandkids and their shenanigans, click here.

    I love my family more than anything in this world, and I was happy to help my daughter. My grandchildren are a constant source of joy and laughter. Speaking of grandkids, my son and his wife are expecting a child in the spring. My husband and I are delighted, and so looking forward to meeting our new grandson… who also threw us a curveball.

    My daughter-in-law recently spent a week in the hospital after her blood pressure spiked to dangerous levels. The tentative diagnosis was preeclampsia. Thanks to God, and also the prayers of so many family and friends, it turned out not to be preeclampsia, and my daughter-in-law and the baby are doing well. It was only high blood pressure, and still, we pray that it can be kept under control with medication until the little guy is ready to enter the world healthy.

    Last summer my poor husband, while trying to ease pain in his knee, purchased a knee brace in the drug store. (Do NOT do this!!! Go to your doctor! Never use anything that your doctor doesn’t ok). Anyhow, Tom, who suffers from arthritic pain in his legs caused by a previous injury, wore this brace in the evenings while working in the garden. After a week he noticed red marks and swelling above the brace, and decided to call the doctor.

    Turns out the over the counter knee brace was too tight. It cut off circulation, and caused blood clots. Most of the clots were easily treated, but one was deep inside, and was diagnosed as a deep vein thrombosis.

    Luckily, it was caught in time, and we learned a good lesson. But all of the above caused worry and stress which cut into my writing time. And then there’s the matter of my own health issues. My condition, though it doesn’t show if someone happens to just run into me, or see me out somewhere, is still a real condition. I’m not complaining one bit. I accept my life, and thank God for everything, even the cross of depression/anxiety.

    Still, it does prevent me from writing at times. And so, the plan flew by the wayside, because, Life. That’s why book 3 hasn’t been published.

    The good news is that it WILL be published, and my hope is that readers will have it in their hands by September. If all goes as planned, that will be the case.

    After the first draft is finished, I will put the book aside for two weeks. This is necessary, so that when I go back to it, I can see it with fresh eyes, thus enabling me to make the necessary revisions to the manuscript. After I tweak the manuscript, my dear friend and feedback reader Kia Heavey gets first dibs on it. She will read a printed copy and give me advice on plotting and other problems that may need additional revision.

    If you have read both Tears of Paradox and The Notice, you may have “noticed” that book 2 moves faster than book one. This is because Kia, a wonderful friend and very talented author, (her latest novel, Domino, was published by Kindle Press, Amazon’s new publishing venture) tells me the truth.

    If a scene was too long, or added nothing to the overall story, she advised cutting. And I took her advice. That’s why readers should, if they like Tears and the characters but find it slow going, persevere, or just move on to book two, though many, many readers, including Kia herself, loved book one just the way it is now.

    And please! Read Domino! You will not understand how great it is unless you give it a try. It’s good! Way good!

    After Kia is finished with the Cadáin’s Watch manuscript she will give additional feedback, and point out discrepancies I may have missed. (There’s nothing more annoying than reading that a character “put out his cigarette” and then three paragraphs later “took a drag on his cigarette.” Such things are jarring to readers and mortifying to me as an author. However, while writing a first draft they ALWAYS happen. That’s why all of these steps must be taken to ensure a quality book, even if it takes longer than planned.

    And sometime during this process, the cover must be designed. My covers are also the work of Kia. She’s a woman of many talents. I’m very excited about the cover itself, the main building blocks of which have already been planned and chosen. I will reveal the new cover a month or so before publication. It’s going to be stunning, as are all of Kia’s book covers. She designed her own covers for her first two novels, Night Machines and Underlake, and did the layout for the cover of Domino. More of Kia’s covers, as well as those of another talented friend, Matt Margolis of Logotecture, currently grace many books from Writestream Publishing. My dear friend Daria DiGiovanni and her friend Lisa Tarves created Writestream Publishing, a quality service for independent authors. If you have a book inside of you, do visit their website.

    I hope you enjoyed this update, and that if you were wondering why it’s taking so long for book three, you’ll understand. I also am mulling over a few other changes. I haven’t sent out an email newsletter since December… it has fallen by the wayside for many reasons. If readers miss the newsletter, or new readers would like to sign up, please comment below. If there’s enough interest, I will begin sending newsletters again.

    And… if there are scenes in Cadáin’s Watch that must be cut, perhaps because the book would be too long, I plan to work them into short stories, I already have one in mind. I will probably make at least one available for free on this blog after book 3 is published, so stay tuned!

    I would love to connect with readers, and this is the best place to connect with me! If you enjoy a blogpost, please leave a comment. I will answer you.

    Again, I am so very grateful to readers. Without you, I would be nowhere.

    Many blessings to you and yours during this solemn Lenten Season.