During May, in honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope to inspire, inform, and get others involved in a topic that affects us all. I want to link to websites with the latest information about research, along with previously released webinar links.
I plan to post reviews or links to other blogs that discuss books, both fiction and nonfiction on the subject of mental illness.
I also hope to link to blogs that review my own story of my journey through mental illness with my daughter, Broken Brain, Fortified .
I hope to accomplish this twice a week.
I hope you’ll join me as I work to bring awareness to a subject that I think is the elephant in every room. You know, the one everyone knows about but no ones wants to mention.
Earlier this month, I promised to give a review for this book in exchange for the chance to read it. Sometimes I wonder, who gets the most benefit for this opportunity – the author or the reader? After exploring Jeannie’s book, A Sea Without a Shore, I’ll wager that it is the reader.
Jeannie writes from the heart, pouring out her love and devotion to God throughout her book. I felt that she recorded her thoughts and prayers for us, the readers, so we may grow in love and devotion, too. As I read, I found myself recording phrases that stood out to me. Reflections I wanted to plant deep within my heart and soul.
One of my favorites quotes was “Material acquisition is no longer our goal. It is replaced by the practice of simplicity, engaging in matters seemingly small, but staggeringly significant.” This idea resonated with me as a way to live in peace and joy.
A few other nuggets I tucked deep in my heart include the idea of “self-examination with pointing a finger” – in other words, forgive myself. And “that all holy innocents are God’s beloved” gave me peace as I thought about my own grandson’s death years ago.
Because this book has reflections for the liturgical year, I will read each section during the appropriate season to deepen my appreciation and love for my Savior.
I’ll be honest, when I first began reading this, I had a difficult time. I’m more of a “learn from the parable” kind of gal. I think I understand why Jesus taught his followers through stories. Some of us grasp concepts and lessons more quickly through examples. As I started this book,, I found it a bit difficult to concentrate on the words. But, I realized I had the opportunity to read her thoughts and reflections. I decided I wanted to challenge myself to focus on Jeannie’s prayerful thoughts as I read. Plus, I wanted to learn a new style of spiritual growth. I willed my brain to slow down so I could embrace the reflections. I read in small bites so I could indulge myself with the prayerful thoughts. It worked. I did indeed a learn a fresh way to keep me on my spiritual journey.
If you’re looking for a book to deepen your love and devotion to God, I recommend this book. Read it slowly and savor the morsels.
But don’t just take my word for it. Snag your own copy and fall in love with your Savior.
Jeannie Ewing believes the world focuses too much on superficial happiness and then crumbles when sorrow strikes. Because life is about more than what makes us feel fuzzy inside, she writes about the hidden value of suffering and even discovering joy in the midst of grief. Jeannie shares her heart as a mom of two girls with special needs in Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers and is the author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and dozens of other radio shows and podcasts.
Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer?I am an “anytime writer.” You see, my life does not neatly fit into a box (unfortunately for me). I have two young daughters and another baby on the way. Both of our girls have different special needs that require a lot of extra time spent with various specialists, special education programs, surgeries, and counselors. I spent a good portion of my time at the disposal of a doctor’s availability, rather than what is convenient for my family. Because of this, I write when I have time. That might sound like a cop-out, but I don’t waste time. If I have 10 minutes of a lull in my day, I will write for 10 minutes. When the girls are having quiet time and I can snag an extra 20 to 30 minutes, I will write. Most of my best writing happens right after breakfast on a weekend when my husband is gracious enough to watch the girls for me. But most of what I produce is in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed.
Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?I have 3 of them actually. The first is a book that answers common questions about what to do in specific social or religious situations – a sort of etiquette question and answer book. That proposal has been submitted to a publisher, who is in the process of checking it out. The second manuscript is one I am co-authoring with my husband, Ben. It is a parenting book about using the beatitudes as our beacon for what we do and teach our children on a daily basis. That, too, is in the process of consideration from a different publishing house. The third work-in-progress is my favorite to date. It is a book about the value of waiting and what that looks like from a cultural attitude, as well as a spiritual one. It includes various points of philosophy, but mainly I’m trying to encourage people in their tough times of waiting, especially when it is prolonged. I plan to complete that manuscript before I submit it to a potential publisher.
What inspires you when you’re writing?Prayer – Scriptures, silence, reading reflections and the lives of the saints; music – especially classical or some type of soothing instrumental music; sometimes nature inspires me, and sometimes it could be a conversation with a friend or something I observe while I’m out and about.
What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?Hmmm, probably my perpetual cup of tea!
What’s your favorite genre and why?Memoir, because I love reading about other people’s journeys in life through their own eyes.
Any advice you have for a blossoming author?Just begin. Don’t worry about the details or even the process itself. Just start somewhere and keep moving forward. Your first draft won’t be perfect, so don’t expect it to be. Don’t write with censorship; get into your own flow and let it happen naturally. Our best muse is God, so I always pray before I write.
What is your writing process like?I guess the best word I can use is ‘inspired.’ Just when I think I’ve completed a book, a new idea pops into my head and becomes more developed over time. That’s been the case for this book on waiting. When I write, it could be jotting down ideas on scraps of paper like a typical creative type, or it could mean I actually sit down and type up a chapter on my laptop. But I always, always write down inspired ideas, regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?I don’t write fiction, so ?
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time? Reading, taking care of my girls (homeschooling the eldest), chatting with my husband or watching movies with him, taking walks with my dog through our neighborhood.
What or who inspired you to become a writer?I’ve always been a writer, since I first learned to put words together creatively and articulately. It’s a natural talent and also a spiritual charism. I’ve enjoyed creating ideas through writing – whether fiction when I was a kid or poetry as a young adult or original research papers in college – and now non-fiction seems to be where God wants me right now.
How long have you been writing?I started journaling when I was about 9 years old. I received a Hello Kitty diary from a friend for my birthday and wrote in a journal every day ever since!
Are you Self-published or Traditional Published? Why did you choose this type of publishing?I’m a hybrid author, which means I have some books that are self-published and some that are traditionally published. I’ll be speaking more on the advantages and disadvantages of this at the Catholic Writers Conference Online in February. Essentially, I didn’t “choose” this type of publishing. It just worked out that my first book was self-published, because each step of the process I had someone offer to help me through it professionally! My second book ended up being traditionally published, because my editor at Catholic Exchange asked me if I had considered writing a book.
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? Writing can be daunting, so don’t think it’s some romantic way of life. Most of us don’t make a grand living as writers, but we love what we do. If you are called to write, you will want to share your ideas with others in order to inspire, encourage, entertain, or teach them – maybe a combination of these, or something else.
Just for fun:
Do you have any pets? Yes! A 9-year-old pit bull mix, Lily. She’s a character! We love her as one of our family members.
Who’s your favorite musician/band? Well, I love music and a variety of genres of music. I’d say it depends, but my favorite genre of music is Renaissance or Baroque. I especially love Michael Praetorius and Tomasso Albonini.
What’s your favorite vacation spot? The mountains. It’s my dream to live in the Smokies one day.
Do you like coffee or tea? Never liked coffee, but I love tea and drink it daily with a bit of honey.
Did you go to college? If so, what was your major? Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies and Master of Science in Education for School Counseling
Are you a full-time writer or do you also work in another field? If so, what field?My “full-time” job is a stay-at-home mom.
Favorite Season? Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer? I like the changing seasons for different reasons. When I was a kid, my favorite season was summer, but now it’s probably fall. I love the cooler weather and gorgeous colors. Plus, there are so many fun things to do in the fall – hay rides, jumping in leaf piles, visiting pumpkin patches and carving them, apple picking and making homemade applesauce, etc.
I wish I could give this book a plus after the five stars. This is the third book that I’ve read by Lisa Wingate. It’s by far my favorite one. The story pulled me in from page one. I couldn’t stop listening to it (via my audible account.) I loved listening to the two points of view that she used – past and present. Even though my heart broke throughout the story, I finished the story filled with hope in the courage and resiliency of the human spirit. Rill had a tenacity and strength that illustrated to me the love of family. A wonderful story based on a true atrocity in our nation’s history. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a well-written novel that blends modern-day experience with historical fiction. Brilliant writing. I love the fact that she told a wonderful, compelling story without bad language or scenes that would make my grandmother blush. I plan to read more books by Lisa Wingate.
Today is Holy Thursday. The day I dwell on the Last Supper. The day Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Feet. I get why it was important for that time in history but in today’s world?
I don’t like people to touch my feet. I never have. For years I didn’t wear sandals or flip-flops in public. I had ugly feet, or so I thought. The bunions on both sides of both feet had convinced me to keep them hidden. Since I shuddered if someone touched my feet, I couldn’t stand to touch the feet of anyone else, either.
Four years ago this all changed, as well as my attitude. You might say, I defeated those troublesome feelings when I took over the personal care of my mom. In her late eighties then, she needed assistance for her shower. I lived close and it made sense for me to offer to do that for her. After all, how many times had she bathed me when I was an infant? So, I gave it a go. We set up a schedule – Monday and Thursday mornings.
Honestly, at first, it made me ridiculously uncomfortable. It didn’t bother me to help her in and out of the walk-in-shower, to help her towel off, to rub lotion on her back, arms, legs, etc. But her feet – I cringed each time I rubbed the lotion into her calloused, dry, feet – complete with bunions. But, I reminded myself of the many times she had to do things she found unpleasant as a mother of eleven children on a farm. And so I powered through with all the pleasantness I could muster.
The first Holy Thursday I massaged the lotion into her feet, I dwelled on the significance of the day. I had planned to attend Mass that night as our parish remembered The Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The scripture passage came to life for me, especially: I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do. John 13:15
I placed myself in the role of my mom’s servant that day as I dwelt on this passage. Something so personal – a time when she is the most exposed and vulnerable. It had to humble her to admit she couldn’t do this on her own anymore. How would I feel if this happened to me? A motto of Saint Mother Teresa’s came to mind: Do small things with great love. I began to view it as a privilege – to take part in the most intimate part of her life.
As I rubbed lotion into her tired, worn feet, I came to the realization that this foot wash/lotion routine helped my “soul” as I softened her soles. The awkwardness disappeared as I found joy in the routine of her foot massage.
It’s Thursday – time to go see Mom. She needs a shower and a foot massage.
One final thought – How can I go into the world as a servant? How can you?
This past week, many people celebrated March 14 (3.14) as National Pi day. I’m not a math nerd, but I like a reason to celebrate, and so, Pi Day fits the bill.
In the past, I’ve made pies: pumpkin (hubby’s favorite,) blueberry (our granddaughter who happens to stay with us most years on this day loves this kind,) and apple (my favorite.)
Last Wednesday, Pi Day, I went to the cupboard, but the cupboard was bare. No pumpkin on hand – what was I thinking? I can’t make pies without making at least one pumpkin. Then, I remembered a silly poem:
Roses are red, violets are blue. Poetry is hard. Bacon.
I had bacon in the refrigerator. So, no dessert for us that day. Instead, we enjoyed…
Bacon Cheeseburger Pie – serves 4 – 6 people (at our house – it’s 4)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound frozen southern style hash browns or 1 1/4 pounds fresh potatoes, shredded (I use fresh)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 pound ground beef (I use ground round)
1/4 teaspoon onion powder or 1 small onion chopped
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon flour (I use whole wheat)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
dash of black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 sliced bacon, fried, drained, and broken into pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degree. Melt butter in large skillet. Add olive oil and potatoes. Cook until the bottom is browned and the potatoes cooked. Cook til second side is browned. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, oregano, 1/8 tsp pepper, and 1/3 c. shredded cheese. Cool about 3 minutes. Add beaten egg. Press into greased pie plate and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
While this bakes, prepare filling. If using chopped onion, add 1 T. olive oil and saute onion until soft. Add ground beef and brown. If using onion powder, brown ground beef and then add onion powder. Drain and return to skillet. Mix flour with water; add to meat with tomato sauce, seasoned salt, and dash of pepper to taste. Cook and stir until thickened. When potato shell is browned, remove from oven. Fill hot potato shell with meat mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted – about 3 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with bacon pieces. Let sit 3 minutes before cutting into wedges.
I’ve adapted this recipe over the years. Feel free to adapt it to your taste. Enjoy!
Even though this newly-released book by Jeanie Egolf was written for children, it sends a message to all of us. If we are honest, we can all identify with the thought process illustrated in the fictional character, Molly McBride.
She doesn’t like an individual and the idea of inviting him to her birthday party makes her cringe. She “conveniently” loses his invitation.
Jeanie Egolf writes the story in a way that a young child can identify with Molly’s feelings. Loving adults in her life help her understand the reasons to include the undesirable with an invitation. It’s explained in such a way that leaves Molly with a resolve to do the right thing.
Molly wants to grow up to be a nun, so her role models in this story are religious – a priest and a sister. It puts both vocations in a favorable light for the young reader. They are portrayed as people who can help guide, not someone scary.
The illustrations that accompany this story are well done and engaging.
Jeanie did a wonderful job of presenting virtue in a sweet story in a way a child can understand, plus help the adult who reads it with them to reexamine their own attitude.
Share this book with a child in your life.
Find Molly McBride and the Party Invitation on Amazon.
I turned sixty-three this month and I’m celebrating. I have so many reasons to be happy.
I’ve lived for sixty-three years. Not everyone gets to do that. I attended a classmates funeral when I was ten years old. That’s something I’ll never forget. Nor will I forget the following year. I was in 5th grade when my baby sister lived only one day.
When I was an infant, I almost didn’t see my 1st birthday. I had Whooping Cough at the age of three months that almost took my life. So yes, I’m celebrating my age.
I have a husband who loves me, four successful, adult children, three successful daughter-in-laws, three motivated and active grandchildren, and one grandchild home in heaven. I love my family, and they love me.
At sixty-three, the remaining ten siblings I have are all still alive, plus I have a great relationship with them. I know lots of people who can’t say that. As far as I know, I get along with the in-laws, as well as the many people in my hubby’s family.
I live in a comfortable home. I have everything I need, plus a few extras.
My mother and mother-in-law will both turn 92 this year. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful women who serve as role models for me. Both hubby and I got to spend time with our fathers as they passed from this life to the next.
I have six besties (girlfriends) that I can call whenever I need support, laughter, or share a cup of coffee. I treasure their friendship.
I get to practice my faith within a wonderful community. They even let me sing in the choir, even though I couldn’t get in the choir in high school after I auditioned. (Smile)
I look in the mirror and see that my once, dark brown hair has turned to a salt and pepper blend, with the emphasis on the salt. I like the freedom to allow it change color and be comfortable with my decision.
I have good health. No, I can’t do the things that I did in my younger years, but I’m grateful to be as mobile as I am. I can go for a walk, climb stairs, accomplish a full days work, and slide under my covers at night. I know lots of people my age who can’t.
I had a piece of carrot cake for my birthday lunch. Yes, I made it myself. But, it’s my favorite and I wanted to make sure I had some. Since I spent my birthday on a retreat, I shared it with those around me. They enjoyed it, too.
I like coffee, and I get coffee. Enough said.
I love my age. At sixty-three, I’ve had so many amazing adventures. Among them, is a trip to the country of Zimbabwe where I met local people and lots of animals.
At sixty-three, I can slow down in my day job, and I have! Through the day job that I love, I’ve met hundreds of wonderful people. Some of them became friends. Woot! Woot!
In conclusion – I’m happy with my age. I’m happy with my life.
I feel like I have a day that is a pure gift. Let me explain. My hubby had an appointment yesterday and today for a medical check-up with possible surgery for today. At our second-to-the-last appointment in a day filled with procedures and tests, he received his walking papers. The doctor went through all the test results and pronounced, “You don’t need surgery. I canceled your consultation with the surgeon that was scheduled for later today.”
Music to our ears. We high-tailed it out of the clinic, jumped in our car, checked out of the motel that we’d booked for the night, and drove the two hours to home. I could have had a meal out, but I just wanted to get home. I like my home and I enjoy my time there.
Which brings me to today – I had a different plan for today and now I have a gift – a day to do something else.
To some, my new plan might seem boring, but to me, it’s a blessing. I will go help my mom for a few hours, attend a funeral that I thought I would miss, go get some groceries that our household needs, and relish the day.
As I thought about today, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why don’t I look at every day as a gift?”
In reality, it is. I woke up. Some don’t. I can walk to my kitchen and make coffee. Some can’t. I can drive to visit my mom or to church or to the grocery store without giving it much thought. I have a dependable car, money for fuel, and the ability to operate it.
Here’s to each day that awaits me to open, to enjoy, and to be grateful.