Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon

New Year's eve will present us with a blue moon. I had no idea until my husband and daughter started talking about it tonight at the dinner table. A blue moon is the 13th full moon in one calendar year - or the second full moon in a calendar month. It only occurs "once in a blue moon." I say that, not to be funny, but to illustrate the way an idiomatic expression can become part of our normal understanding without us knowing its origin. Everyone knows that "once in a blue moon" indicates a rare event. I have often used that expression but had no idea why it had that meaning. So around the dinner table, the light bulb turned on and I will use this expression from now on with a much deeper appreciation for its origin. BTW, I did go to Wikipedia to verify the meaning.

But back to the blue only occurs about once every 2.7 years, but a blue moon on New Year's Eve is even rarer, only occurring about every 20 years. So we're in for a treat. What a fun way to usher in the year 2010!

Just curious...did you already know where this expression came from?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Christmas

Since I grew up in Wisconsin with most Christmases being white, it was a special treat this year to have a white Christmas in Texas. The last time we remember a white Christmas in Texas was in 1995 and although it snowed somewhere around Christmas, it probably wasn't on Christmas Eve like this year.

What marked that snowfall in my memory was the fact that our son John was home on break from his first year of college. How delightful it was to watch my family romping in the snow, building a snowman together! They all took great pleasure in playing in the snow, even my husband who was raised in Texas. I don't think I got out and helped with this particular snowman, unless it was to take pictures.

Seeing this year's Christmas Eve snow through the eyes of my almost four year old grandson, made it extra special. He had been asking me for months when it was going to snow. Hmmm...even Grandma didn't have an answer for that question. His excitement was only surpassed by the anticipation of opening all the gifts that were spread out under the tree.

The weather forecast calls for more snow this week and I foresee that this might be a snowman building snow!

Did it snow at your house this Christmas? Or do you have a special memory of a White Christmas?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Special Christmas Memory

One of the special memories of Christmas when I was growing up was the tradition of the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church. We would scurry around getting all the last minute preparations done including grinding the gizzard, heart and liver of the turkey to mix in the stuffing. Then we would all bundle up and head out the door for the candlelight service. This normally started at 11:00 and was over by midnight. It was one of those enchanted times with everyone singing carols to the light of just the candles. It was always heartwarming. But the most enchanting of all was to come out of the church to find freshly falling snow. I'm sure that didn't happen every single Christmas eve, but it happened often enough to become one of those special memories. Coming down the church steps and making fresh footprints as the snow crunched underfoot was a very special reminder that the reason God took the form of flesh and dwelt among us was so he could wash us whiter than snow. That's what we celebrate every day of the year, but especially at Christmas time.

What is your special Christmas memory?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Healthy Food Choices

I just read a post by a friend telling about her son's preference for healthy food. He even asked her to make something healthier for him when he found out that pizza was on the menu. That reminded me of John's interest in healthy food, too. For several years we kept a "food target" on our refrigerator and once in awhile he would get up from the table and go and look at the target to see if what we were having for supper was healthy or not. But in spite of that, he had a weakness for pickles which, incidentally are on the OUTSIDE ring of the food target. Every year we gave him a jar of pickles for Christmas just because he loved them so much. I'm sure that started when he was about 4 or 5 and we were home on a furlough from the mission field. His grandfather would occasionally take him out for a pickle at a place where they were sold out of a huge crock setting on the counter. Come to think of it, I guess his grandfather also had a weakness for pickles...something that skipped a generation since my husband can take 'em or leave 'em. Oh what fond memories! Do you have any food related ones to share?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Years Ago

On Thanksgiving Day 10 years ago our son John set off on a great adventure. On November 19, 1999 he wrote this in his journal.
Next week is Thanksgiving week; there will be another big party on Thursday. I won't be there, just as I haven't been to any of their parties. I feel like a kill-joy, and I don't know how to tell people that I really do enjoy having a good time, just without alcohol, pot, sex, and gossip. For one of the two holidays that might actually have some meaning for me, I will be isolated again out of a need for self-preservation.

Instead of sticking around for the "party," John decided to hike across the valleys of the Kohala on the northern end of the Big Island. He meticulously studied the route and knew that he would not have a clear trail across the whole area. He was prepared to bushwack across the portion that had no trail. He had actually visited the area a few weeks before with some of his colleagues and he found it intriguing. I'm sure it reminded him of his beloved jungles of Brazil where he grew up. There were guava in abundance and he had eaten his fill and reveled in the beauty of the place.

So it was a good choice for a "get-away" and he anticipated he could do the arduous hike in the long 4 day Thanksgiving holiday. He packed his backpack with the essentials. As far as we know he took food for the 4 days, sleeping gear, a machete, miscellaneous camping and cooking gear, his Bible and perhaps some other reading material. He also carried a bamboo pole in which he carried maps. He did not anticipate the heavy rains he was to encounter. He was simply looking for a profitable and enjoyable way to spend the long weekend - an option to preserve his integrity by removing himself from the party scene.

He had written us an e-mail telling of his plans - an e-mail we didn't have access to until after his boss called us Monday evening to tell us John had not returned from his hike.

We often wonder what life would be like if John had not disappeared. I'm sure everyone who has had a loved one go missing can identify. But every Thanksgiving we thank our heavenly Father for the incredible gift that was John and for the 22 wonderful years he was with us.

You can read more of John's story in our e-book Aloha is Forever.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What do you do with an "OOPS?"

What do you do with an "OOPS" when it involves another person? We just received an email from someone our son mentioned in his journal which is on our website as "John's Legacy." We thought we were being so careful to change every name he mentioned - or at least most of the names and there was one name we forgot to change that just so happened to be critical that we do so. Yikes! How did we let that one slip by? I guess that just highlights the importance of a really good editor!

All we can do now is send a sincere apology and change it as quickly as possible! And hope we don't make the same or a similar mistake again.

Maybe you have an "OOPS" you'd like to share. If so, please feel free!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

35 Years Ago

Today is the anniversary of the day we went to Brazil exactly 35 years ago. Anticipation and excitement along with a healthy dose of fear joined us on that first trip. We were young - yes, we really were quite a long time ago. We naively believed we were going to Brazil, never to return to the USA to live. So we packed up all of our earthly possessions and shipped them all in big metal drums and packing crates. If we had realized there was no house there waiting for us we might not have been so enthusiastic. Most of those possessions remained stored in the barrels for many, many years before we had a place to call home and to unpack them all.

Our son John was one of the main reasons we finally purchased a home. Moving into any and every available home and packing up everything each time we traveled into one of the Indian villages was definitely getting old. And John seemed to be the one who felt it the most. When we finally purchased a home and moved into it, we could see an almost immediate impact on him in a positive way.

The house was small, but the backyard was surrounded on three sides by virgin jungle. It was wonderful. We were frequently visited by monkeys and exotic birds. The strip of jungle around all the houses became the boys' paradise. John and his buddies built tree houses high up in the canopy. (Fortunately we parents never saw them and didn't even know about them until much, much later.)

Brazil became our home and even though John was actually born in the USA, he claimed Brazil as his home...until God called him to his forever home. Read about it in Aloha is Forever.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Never Stop Learning

My son John had a passion for learning. I'll never forget the summer he decided to do a catch up home school course in math so he wouldn't be behind the rest of his class when he went to boarding school that fall. How I admired his self-discipline and his ability to stick with it and get it finished before the summer was over. He could have done so many other things that were fun - and he did, but never instead of doing his studies. He was the ideal home school parent's dream child.

I thought about that today as my daughter and I have taken on the challenge of attending a child rearing class together since we are jointly rearing and training my grandson. I read through the first lesson this morning in preparation for the class, DVD presentation and discussion on Friday evening.

What are you doing to "never stop learning?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Value of One Life

This evening I was listening to comments on "For Faith and Family" by Dr. Richard Land as I drove home. Dr. Land was our Sunday School teacher here in Dallas a long time ago. I was impressed with his lessons and his wisdom then; even more so now. Among other things he was discussing the health plan provisions that were slipped into the economic stimulus bill unbeknownst to almost everyone. As he talked, I began to ponder the value of a life.

How do we place value on a life? How are we to say that one person's life is more valuable than that of another? Apparently one of the objectives of the new health plan provisions calls for evaluating medical procedures based on the age of the patient. If those procedures are not economically advantageous depending on the age and perceived potential contribution of the patient to society, they would be denied. The next step could be euthanasia. Why not? We have as a society already approved taking the lives of the unborn.

But that's not the point. The point is that any life is valuable. The Bible says in Genesis 1:27,
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

The reason it is valuable is that each and every individual is stamped with God's image. Granted, that image has been perverted and distorted by sin. In fact in Genesis 5:1-3, we read this:
"When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them 'man.' When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image, and he named him Seth."

By the time Seth came on the scene, he had lost the perfect image of God and was born in Adam's likeness - complete with a sin nature. Without going into a long and involved treatise on the fall of man, and his subsequent redemption, I hasten to say that even man full of sin nature inherited from Adam is valuable in God's eyes. So valuable in fact, that God chose to give his only son to pay the penalty for each and every man's sin through his death on the cross.

When our son John Reece disappeared in Hawaii in 1999 we spared no expense to try to find him. Even though we had no funds to get to Hawaii, God opened the doors and through the generosity of acquaintances, we were able to fly to Hawaii and spend almost all of December there helping with the searches. Our total expenses were nothing short of astronomical (close to $20,000) but by the time we left Hawaii every single bill had been paid in full.

Many people have noted that never before had so many resources been mobilized and such an intense search made for someone who was lost in Hawaii. (People getting lost is not an uncommon occurrence there.) We would have given much more to find our son - he was our son and infinitely valuable to us.

In much the same way, God values each and every one of us. He is our Father and He seeks for us diligently, spares no expense, gives His all. Each one of us is infinitely valuable for we are his beloved sons and daughters.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blessed with Identity

My little grandson looked up into my eyes yesterday and asked, "Grandma, do you know who I am?" I, of course, wondered what was coming next! Maybe a lion or a dog or a kitty or a horse...? What came out of his mouth next absolutely floored me. He said, "I'm your grandson."

Wow! Talk about knowing who you are!

That gave me the idea for where to go next in writing about blessing. Remember from my recent post that I defined blessing as "empowering to prosper." Prosperity in this sense of the word doesn't mean financial prosperity in the way we often think although it could include that. When someone is prospering, it is tied to an understanding of who they are - their identity. They are at peace with who they are, not wishing they were prettier, shorter, taller, thinner, a girl instead of a boy or a boy instead of a girl. They are at peace with their parents, themselves and their neighbor.

They are not continually striving to measure up to some perceived standard they hope someday to achieve.

So how do we as parents and grandparents accomplish this seeming miraculous state of being in our children or grandchildren? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I would like to suggest that it is crucial that we separate identity from behavior as we teach and discipline our children. Somehow through our words and actions we must affirm who they are (identity) while we place consequences on behavior that we wish to discourage. This is sometimes difficult to do. Well, maybe it's always difficult to do. Nevertheless it must be done in order to teach our children and grandchildren that they are valued, important, OK, etc.

This whole process begins with an understanding of how God views us and how He views our children. A classic passage in Psalm 139 verses 13 & 14 says,
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

This theme is reiterated by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:10,
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

When we can look at both ourselves and our children through God's eyes, we have come a long way toward being able to bless our children and empower them to prosper in the knowledge of their identity as precious beings formed by God in just the way He wanted them to be.

Do you know who you are?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blessing Generations

We're doing a Blessing Generations seminar this weekend and that got my wheels turning for a post about blessing.

The Bible talks about blessing from cover to cover. Most of us would be hard pressed to define it; I know I was. That is, until I heard this definition: blessing = empower to prosper.

"Empower to prosper" really gets you thinking. What are some practical ways to do this? Who are the people in our lives we would like to empower to prosper?

I have some ideas, but I'd like to hear yours first. My next blog post will be about blessing and I'll share my ideas then.

Who have you blessed (empowered to prosper) today?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Role of faith in losing a loved one

This is such a big topic I'm sure whole books could be written about it. My discussion of it will be very personal. When you read our book, Aloha is Forever, you'll understand much better the role faith had in our lives when our son disappeared in Hawaii.

We've received a lot of feedback from people stating they were amazed at our faith and that they would never have enough faith to be able to face a similar circumstance. So let me start out by saying that we take no credit at all. There really is nothing special about us! The Bible says in Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." And in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

There is no doubt in my mind that faith was the most important ingredient in facing the loss of our son. Losing a loved one whether that be a child, a grandchild, a spouse, a parent or even a pet is one of the most difficult and potentially devastating situations we face in life. And we all face it numerous times.

It can strengthen our faith or destroy it. It's a little bit like the parable Jesus told about the man who built his house on the rock and the one who built his house on the sand in Matthew 7:24-27. The preparation for facing life's difficulties has to be made ahead of time.

I recall struggling with this issue once quite a number of years ago. A woman who had visited our church challenged me one day by saying, "I've done everything I needed to do. I've tithed, I've gone to church regularly, I love my neighbor, etc .... so why isn't God blessing me and giving me all that I need?" Just as an aside, if you listen to many of today's televangelists, this is exactly the message you will hear - "You do this and God will do that for you." Whoops! Although blessing is a biblical principle, trials and tribulations are also. Faith doesn't manipulate; it just is. Thinking that we can get something from God by doing something for Him is flawed. God cares for us because of His great love for us in the same way we care for our children because they are our children and we love them.

If I can say one thing about faith it would be this; your faith must be in a loving God, whether your day is sunny and filled with roses or strewn with the destruction left by a tornado. The fact is that we live in a fallen world filled with anger, hurt, pain and destruction. But God is able to take us beyond all of those things and give us joy, peace and hope in the midst of the trials and tribulations. That is what faith is! Faith believes that in spite of death, there is resurrection; in spite of pain, there is comfort; in spite of loss, there is restoration; in spite of hurt, there is healing; in spite of loss, there is gain; in spite of ashes, there is beauty; in spite of bad, there is good. The list could go on and on.

I can honestly say that because of our son's faith and our faith in a loving, giving, wise and powerful God, we experienced all of these things when John disappeared. And our faith was strengthened, not weakened. We were able to trust God in the midst of the storm and our house stood strong on the rock that is Jesus. But it's because our faith had been tried and tested through many other lesser trials first.

Hebrews 12:2 "Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Missing Child - John Reece

Missing child...that news would strike terror in the heart of any parent or grandparent. Like this morning. I left my grandson in the fenced backyard to play and when I went to check on him he wasn't there. My first reaction was panic. Where could he have gone? When I checked in the front yard I didn't see him either. But when I called, he appeared from beneath the porch where he was busily gathering up broken bricks and piling them in his wheelbarrow. My sigh of relief was audible!

When our son John Reece was reported missing in Hawaii, we did not panic, nor did terror strike our hearts. We had great peace even though he had gone hiking in one of the most treacherous and dangerous areas one could imagine. In fact, when we looked at photos of the area on the internet, our hearts stopped for a second. The 3000 foot cliffs were almost vertical. How could one even hike in an area like that?

But we didn't panic. After all, he was from a long line of adventurers. His father had taken a trip down the Trinity River all alone when he was 17. After a week, he made the headlines instead of JFK on the anniversary of the JFK assasination. They were dredging the river for him and he was completely oblivious to the fact that anyone might even be missing him.

At least John had told us where he was going and what his plans were. And we had no reason to think that things would not turn out just fine and dandy for him just as they had for his father.

For the whole story, see Aloha is Forever (as an e-book).

I welcome your comments - what would your reaction be if you got the news that your child or grandchild was missing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's All About the Title

How does one decide upon a book title? No doubt great insights have been written about this subject but as proven by one post-a-day challenger, it really is all about the title. I know that as I go down the blog roll each day to choose where to visit and where to comment, the appealing subject titles pull me in first.

Ideally that's what we want to have happen with a book title. But how does one come up with a book title that is perfect for the book as well as appealing to the reader? I welcome ideas from you on this subject.

In our case, our book was primarily about hope in the midst of the most devastating experience a parent can ever face. So naturally we thought about using the word "hope" in our title. Our original title was, "Where There is Hope." It was ok, but not particularly great.

But another aspect of our story was its setting in Hawaii. And the more we learned about Hawaii and its spiritual heritage, the more it seemed logical to include part of that cultural aspect in our book title.

As we researched Hawaii's spiritual heritage, we discovered that the first Hawaiians were believers in a benevolent creator God whose name was Io. I'll share more about that in another post, but we also discovered that the word "aloha" had a much more profound meaning than just "hello" and "good-bye." It encompassed a blessing similar to the Old Testament blessing from the Bible that goes something like this, "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (paraphrased). So as we thought about it, using the word "aloha" in our book title seemed logical and fitting. Thus the book became, "Aloha is Forever."

A friend just the other day asked if it wouldn't be more appropriate to use the title, "Aloha Was Forever." But we our response was that our son was welcomed into the Lord's presence forever and that is a present reality, not a past one.

We still have time to change our title if we think of a better one. So be sure and vote in our poll about our book title. And feel free to add your 2 cents worth by adding your comment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sites Related to Grief, Loss, Bereavement

Virtual Blog Tour of Sites Related to Grief, Loss, Bereavement

This list is a wonderful compilation of books, blogs, websites, services, magazine….all related in some manner to loss, grief and bereavement. This is by no means a complete list, but it is a start.

(No endorsement is made and all sites listed are for information purposes only.)

A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss by Elaine Williams, a widow’s journey through loss, grief and renewal. Blog:
Dave Pipitone - "The Hope Patch", is a way to remember those who have passed on. Articles and resources for living with hope for new life.
Wendy L. Christensen: An inspirational letter written by Wendy at 15, to her older brother Travis who died at 17. “This letter was therapeutic for me and I have received so many emails and phone calls over it. My brother, Travis, had a huge impact on my life.” "It's the Little Moments that Matter" contains 26 simple steps to enrich every moment of life!
Jane Galbraith’s "Baby Boomers Face Grief - Survival and Recovery". Jane’s background is a degree in nursing and 20 years working in the community health care system. If you would like more info on the book you can find the introductory chapter and her bio etc at
Carol Ann Loehr - Website for Understanding Suicide & Depression –
On March 29, 1999 , our son Keith died by suicide. At the time of his death I had no knowledge of suicide, and I was inundated with inaccurate and outdated description of suicide and its causes. In 2002, I created a website of information to help comfort and educate survivors of suicide, as well as clergy, health care professionals and counselors. In 2006 I wrote a children's book, “My Uncle Keith Died”. This book helps explain a death by suicide and the illness of depression. Available at Trafford Publishing or call Toll Free (888)232-4444; and
Sandy Fox - "I Have No Intention of Saying Goodbye." Sandy interviewed 25 sets of parents about the death of a child and how they have moved on with their lives. Sandy’s story is in the book also.
Annette Gonzalez:
Website: Annette writes and speaks about feeling like an "orphan" at sixty years of age. Her father died five months after her mother. Shares her experiences as a daughter, caregiver, wife and mother.
The Light Beyond, Lucie Storrs – Grief forum, inspirational movie and helpful bereavement site. “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” ebook of over 250 sympathy poems, quotations and readings for funerals, memorial services and inner peace. “If There's Anything I Can Do” guide for friends and families of the bereaved.
Research Study on Social Relationships and Loss
A new study on social relationships and loss is being conducted by a doctoral student at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. You are invited to participate in this important new study investigating interpersonal relationships and how they might have affected your feelings about your loss.
Questions or would like the questionnaires sent to you, contact Naomi Edelson by phone at (415) 290-0164 or by email at
A Masters degree and 24 years of Adoption Social Work did not prepare Chris Mulligan for the devastation after the death of her son, Zac. Her grief journey, revealed through “Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond” describes in detail the mother/son relationship that continues beyond death through documented signs and communication. Healing and a new life emerged as the result of learning about life lessons, death and the afterlife.
Harry Line Helping Parents Deal with The Loss of Their Baby -
Fran Dorf’s acclaimed, internationally published psychological novels include A Reasonable Madness (Birch Lane, Signet, 1990/91), Flight (Dutton/Signet, 1992/93), and Saving Elijah (Putnam, 2000), which was inspired by the tragic death of Fran’s son, Michael, and which a starred Publisher’s Weekly review called, “a stunning tale that crackles with suspense, dark humor, and provocative questions.” A bereavement and creativity expert and psychotherapist, Fran holds advanced degrees in journalism, psychology, and social work. She is currently working on a book of personal essays called, “How I Lost My Bellybutton and Other Survival Stories"; and writes poetry, essays and articles on a variety of topics including bereavement. Using her unique background and experience, Fran has developed the WRITE TO HEAL WORKSHOP, which employs exercises, and fictional/interrogative techniques, some arising out of themes developed in Saving Elijah, to deepen and clarify self knowledge, stimulate the imagination, and generate meaningful story, memoir, metaphor, and/or image around loss. Fran has conducted the Workshop with a variety of groups including the bereaved, addicted, traumatized, homeless, women’s groups, those dealing with chronic or serious illness, and the mentally ill. Her essay, “My Son’s Name Was Michael – Not Elijah,” will be published in an anthology on therapeutic writing this spring. Fran is also an active philanthropist, and has a blog called THE BRUISED MUSE, an e-zine on “grief, life and everything in between” at For a workshop with your group, or for individual psychotherapy or counseling, contact Fran directly at
Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation National Conference on Widowhood, San Diego, California -- July 17-19, 2009
This event will provide a variety of inspiring role models, a hope-filled, supportive environment, and programs focused on giving women the tools they need to rebuild their lives after the devastating loss of a spouse.
Sharon - Grandma is a writer - Shares thoughts about writing, about life and to promote the book, “Aloha is Forever” about the loss of her son in Hawaii who went on a hike and disappeared.
Tiffany - Life after his Death -- Perspectives encountered from loss.
Christa Scalies lost her close friend Jim to suicide in 2005. Christa was on a self-destructive suicidal path but the shock of her friend’s death actually helped save her life. Experiencing the devastation of his sudden passing caused her to examine every detail of her life. Christa embarked on a path of self-healing, learning and laughing. In 2008 she created Giggle On!, a motivational and inspirational web site, to share her story and help empower people to enjoy the lighter and happier sides of life. Christa works to raise money and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Crumbling Walls - a mother grieves the loss of her 18 year old son to suicide -
Janine - Widow and mother of 6 Blog, One Breath at a Time -
Carol O’Dell – Author “Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir” ISBN – 13:978-1-60164-003-1. - Family Advisor at Blog -
A bitingly humorous and unflinchingly honest memoir. Carol's mother has Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer’s, and a heart condition and Carol's decision not to put her mother "in one of those homes" has far-reaching consequences for her family. She must learn to Mother her own mother. This refreshing and entertaining memoir will help baby boomers struggling with their own decisions on elder care in the home.
Widowsbreathe Coaching: Mie Elmhirst, CPCC, PCC provides Coaching, Support and Information for Widows
Keepsakes, Etc. features Sympathy Throws as a bereavement gift for family and friends. They will embroider personalized messages on most throws and ship nationwide.
“Room for Two” by Widower Abel Keogh -
Beautiful Earthen Urns -
Resolving Grief with Hypnosis and EFT -Carol Henderson Certified Hypnotherapist
EFT Practitioner
New Day Hypnotherapy, LLC
Kansas City Area
Marsha at “Breathings of the Heart” - Marsha began the blog as an outlet of musings, writings and journaling following the loss of her husband in 2005. Today, it continues to be an extension of her journey... may you enjoy the travels with her.
Cathy - Lessons From Lou - - Cathy’s journey through the brain tumor world with her husband, Lou.
Ian - Single Parent Dad -
Bill- Dying Man’s Daily Journal -
The Price of Love - - a father's journey through breast cancer, bereavement and recovery.
Maureen’s Mission - .- Breast Cancer Advocacy – One couple’s journey through misdiagnosis.
Lisa - Grace Between the Lines - - Blog continues in memory of Annette, with a new name, Grace Between the Lines by her sister, Lisa.
Dr. Doris Jeanette, a holistic psychologist with 33 years of experience showing people how to find their own inner strengths, and author of" Opening the Heart", an emotional guide into healing your grieving heart from the bottom outward.
Speaker, columnist, radio host and author of Opening the Heart, Overcoming Anxiety Naturally and 14 other self help products.
Eric Tomei - Help me raise 1 Million dollars for Habitat for Humanity. It was my Dad's favorite charity. Please help me honor his memory and support this great organization. Author “I Miss My Dad.” Eric is an ordinary guy who wrote about her dad to deal with his grief.

Cindy Bullens – Recording artists and songwriter. - “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth: Grieving Out Loud”.
"When my daughter Jessie died on March 23, 1996, just weeks after her eleventh birthday, I felt my own life end. I couldn't imagine that I could ever again be a productive human being. Cindy has touched thousands of people around the world with Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth's inspired songs of despair and loss, love and hope.”
Betsy – author ISABELLE'S DREAM - Based on the true story of two sisters, / Isabelle’s Dream/ takes the reader on a heartwarming journey from grief to hope. The book's black-and-white illustrations invite children to bring their own creativity to each page, using crayons, markers, colored pencils, or even glitter glue. After coloring the sisters’ shimmering wings, butterflies, gardens, the earth, and the sea, boys and girls will find several blank activity pages. These pages encourage children to create original drawings or words.
Available through Quality of Life Publishing (; to order call *1-877-513-0099* during regular business hours Eastern time) or via or
In memory of Sophia Zartarian Nagle, author Betsy Bottino Arenella is donating 100 percent of royalties from /Isabelle's Dream/ to the national charitable SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood) Program (www:// ). To learn more about Sophia's life and the birth of Isabelle's Dream, visit
# Widow's Voice - A place to find your own voice, to hear other widow's voices...and to find comfort in the fact that you are not alone.
Grief Sites – Provides a forum for young widows and widowers to connect online, find understanding and validation of their feelings so that they are able to recover their joy for life, reclaim their identities and rebuild their futures.
# - Indianapolis Grief & Loss Consulting Services
# - Finding Meaning in Grief & Loss
Ligia M. Houben, is an author, consultant and educator. She consults with individuals and corporations on life transitions with the purpose of providing meaningful tools to transform losses and challenges. She obtained her B.A. from the University of Miami in psychology and Religious Studies and a Masters Degree in religious studies and gerontology from Florida International University. Ligia also has a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Healing from St. Thomas University and is a Certified Grief Counselor, a Certified Addiction Counselor and a Certified Thanatologist: death, dying and bereavement.
# - AARP – Helpful Links for Those After Loss of a loved one.
# - Hope and Healing for the Body, Mind and Spirit. Living with Loss Magazine
# - Center for Loss and Life Transition
# - More than 400 books, videos, and audios to help children and adults through serious illness, death and dying, grief, bereavement, and losses of all kinds, including divorce, suicide, trauma, and violence. Reviewed and selected by knowledgeable professionals.
# - Grief Counseling, Bereavement Counseling
Individuals, Families, Small Grief Counseling Groups
# - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross - Grief & Bereavement
# - GoodBooksNW is an independent online bookseller specializing in books on divorce, blended families and grief.
# - Bereavement, Loss and Grief Resources
# - Grief's Journey, where the primary focus is on the bereavement for the loss of a spouse and life partner.
# - GROWW For Widowed allows us to be or do whatever it takes to move forward, to know that letting go of the pain is not letting go of the memory of the love.
# - Coping with Grief and Loss, Support for Grieving and Bereavement
# - M.I.S.S. Foundation, support when a child dies
# Truewonder lost her eldest son in 2003, little did I know that starting a blog in 2008 was the healing balm I most needed. It is a cleverly disguised blog about a sustainable I have become just that. It started it out as farmer related stories, but my writing revealed to me that my grief, joy experiences were stories that caused many ripples in the lives of others.
# - Do you struggle to find resources and advice while you juggle your life with the needs of a newly widowed parent? Author Jamieson Haverkampf, gleaned intimate knowledge of balancing her own life with a newly widowed parent, having aided her fifty-six-year-old widowed mother in Virginia, while running her real estate business in California, after the early unpredicted loss of her father to cancer. “Mom Minus Dad”.
# - Coping With Bereavement - Mental Health America
# - Publications to help you help others – One Caring Place
# - Our House, Helping Grieving Hearts Heal, Child and Adolescent Grief
# - Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., therapist and co-author of “I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One” (Sourcebooks, Inc.) as well as the companion workbook.
# - Hospice - For patients and families facing life-threatening illness
# - Solace House - A Center for Grieving Children and their Families.
Open to Hope Foundation and The Grief Blog at and - Articles, radio show and information to help those who have suffered a loss.
Widowslist - A blog and community where widows share problems and triumphs with lists of helpful people, companies and services.
Jenslove –"> – cofounders Mark Manning and Jessica Caron. A place to celebrate those loved and lost
Loss, Grief and Bereavement – National Cancer Institute”>
American Widow Project - - The American Widow Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laughter………Military Widow to Military Widow
Garden of Innocence National – Dignified burial for abandoned children
Neil Chethik - - Author “Father Loss, How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Death of their Dads.”

List compiled by Elaine Williams
Author of "A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss"
A Widow's journey through loss, grief and renewal

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aloha is Forever - Hope #2

Shortly after we arrived in Hawaii to help search for our son, John Reece, my husband began talking about how we did not despair because we had two kinds of hope. You can read the whole story in our book, Aloha is Forever.

I described Hope #1 in my last post although there was one thing I left out. I forgot to mention that John was tenacious. He never gave up on anything so we knew that if there was any way he could get out of the Kohala Mountains, he would. We envisioned him dragging himself up the side of one of the steep cliffs inch by inch. We knew he would never give up and that fueled our hope.

As the month of December progressed and it became more and more apparent that we would not find John, Hope #2 began to take priority in our minds and hearts.

Those of you who claim not to believe in God will have to give me some leeway here. We do believe in God and in His ability to fulfill the promises He made in His Word, the Bible. And that was where our Hope #2 was anchored. We knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that if we didn't see our son again here on this earth, we would see him again and be with him in our Heavenly Father's presence for all eternity.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18 sums up this hope better than I could:

"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."

So even though the prospect of never seeing John again here in this life was inconceivable, terrible, horrific, devastating and whatever other feelings you can imagine, we were comforted and sustained by our Father's promises.

We knew that John's relationship with God was solid. There was not even a shadow of a doubt about that. He had recognized he was a sinner when he was only 4 years old and he had asked Jesus to forgive him and live in him and through him at that early age and had confirmed his faith in Jesus over the course of his life.

So even though our faith was tested in the fiery furnace, our hope never wavered. That is the power of Hope #2.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Aloha is Forever - Hope #1

Aloha is Forever was originally titled "Where There is Hope." Shortly after our search for our son John Reece ended, we realized from the feedback we were getting from our emails that many people, even fellow Christians, didn't understand "hope."

In the midst of the most devastating situation we had ever faced, we always had hope. My husband liked to call it Hope #1 and Hope #2. I'll talk about Hope #1 in this post and Hope #2 in my next post.

Our son left on Thanksgiving Day 1999 to cross the Kohala Mountains on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. He calculated that he could do it in 4 days. However, he didn't return in time for work on Monday following the 4-day holiday.

Our Hope #1 that he would finish the hike successfully was based on his natural ability, his training, his good physical condition and his solid faith in Jesus Christ his personal Lord and Savior.

John had abundant natural ability. He was an outdoorsman, and a rugged, lover of adventure. He had grown up in the Amazon. When he was small we had taken him with us to Indian villages, on adventurous trips, on hikes and on river and camping expeditions. He had all the gear and much outdoor savvy.

While in college, he had taken a survival course. Admittedly the course was in winter survival, but the principles were still the same. He knew survival strategies and techniques.

He was in excellent physical condition. He had gone to Hawaii as a field biology intern with the USGS. After two months of hiking up on Mona Kea counting vegetation, he was as physically fit as he could be. He had also been taking every opportunity to hike around the island and to bike around it with his new mountain bike.

His faith in God was unwavering and had been since childhood. He had grown up believing that God cared about him, had a plan for his life and that he could impact the world as he lived his faith. He'd made a point of spending time reading and studying his Bible daily and meditating and communing in prayer with his Heavenly Father.

All of these factors contributed to our Hope #1 that John would come through his ordeal wiser and better prepared to face life.

But as the month of December progressed, Hope #1 began to diminish and Hope #2 began to replace it. To be continued...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reading the Classics

When I was in high school, one day my English teacher handed out a reading list for those who were headed for college. From that day on every book I read HAD to be on that list. Later I acquired 2 more lists for college bound students. Then every book I read HAD to be on at least 2 lists and if it was on all three, all the better.

So I read the classics, and read and read. No wonder my children and now my grandson love to read.

Just curious whether anyone else restricted their literary menu in a similar fashion. Well?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Today Was a Drag

Today was a drag...but a necessary one. Our dear friend and lifelong encourager called last night to say he was coming to help us get ready for income tax time. THAT is a friend!

So today was spent sorting, organizing, spreadsheeting (I just made up that word :) and generally getting ready for income tax time. He did have an ulterior motive; he needed to figure out whether our organization owed any taxes before the end of January since he is the treasurer.

So although it was a drag, we accomplished almost all that needed to be done - and all in one day. That was and is an amazing miracle.

Need more days to be a drag like today was.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Grandson's Favorite Book

My little 2 year old grandson chose one of the most unlikely books as his favorite. I don't remember the title but it's about Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby picking strawberries. Then the little furry fobs come along complaining about losing their color and one of the other characters, (I don't remember his name, although I should after reading it so many times) saves the day by removing the big rock from Rainbow Falls and restoring the waterfall that also restores the colors to the fobs.

To me it had several faults:
1) The names were ridiculous sounding and very hard to pronounce.
2) The writing style was horrendous with absolutely nothing to make the storyline flow.
3) The story itself wasn't fun and to my mind, not even a bit interesting.

But my grandson asks me to read it to him over and over. When he was a little younger he would grab the page like he was grabbing the strawberries and pop them in his mouth saying, "Yum, yum." Now he won't touch a strawberry with a ten foot pole. Nothing to do with the book, I'm sure.

The writer in me totally rebels at such a poorly written book. And the English major in me doubly rebels. What could be the fascination in such a book? Anyone have any ideas?

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Selling" Your Book for Free - Will it Work?

I've been toying with the idea of giving away our book for free. The only problem with that is that most things are not really valued if they are free. I was thinking about this the other day and came up with another idea. This is the idea: charge for the book, then offer to give a refund after it has been read in exchange for a short review. I would then have the option of publishing (or not) those reviews on my website or blog.

I wonder whether this would actually work. Do any of you have any ideas?

What got me thinking about this was that I just received a free e-book recently that sounded very, very interesting. But I wonder if I will ever actually get around to reading it. Hmmm...

I also signed up yesterday to get the free e-book version of Robert Kiyosaki's latest book along with the option to comment on it and "help" him write it. That one I might actually read.

So what do you think about "selling" your book for free?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blog Authority vs. Page Rank

Well, now that I have thoroughly confused some of's time for an apology and to set things right. I went to do some research in today and discovered I was using the wrong terminology. I'm afraid I may have led some of you astray by using the term "page rank" rather than "blog authority" which is the correct term when talking about ranking in technorati.

Blog authority shows how many unique links your blog has to other blogs and the higher that number, the higher authority your blog has. Technorati does not count links to other sites, just blogs.

On the other hand "page rank" should be as small as possible. I don't know exactly how that is calculated, but sites like google, yahoo, ebay, amazon, etc. have the best page rank. These are probably all in the top 10. If you're able to get your site into the top 100,000 you have really accomplished something!

All of that being said, it may still be a good idea to get your blog listed in technorati and to "claim it." Here is a link to the FAQ that explains the benefits of claiming your blog: One of the benefits I see is that others can search based on keywords that interest them and find your blog.

The reason I was thinking about technorati when I wrote my previous blogpost, was because I was looking for other blogs based on my keyword so I could interact with them. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Making connections, following and being followed, commenting and receiving comments, building contacts and relationships.

If you have more questions about how all of this works, you can find a wonderful FAQ section under the "support" button on the technorati website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cure for Blogging Disease

Well folks, after writing about blogging disease the other day, someone must have slipped me some medicine that cured me! No, actually I think missing a day or two over the weekend was what did it. Hard to get back in gear again.

Seriously, life has tackled me from every side and I'm feeling a bit like I'm on the bottom of the heap without the ball. Today was one of those days. My dear little companion grandson wasn't as sweet as usual and the more I tried to move in a forward direction, the less I seemed to be making any progress. Now at 11 PM with a kitten sleeping on my lap, computer on my knees and a cozy fire in the fireplace, I'm finally getting some inspiration. Writing is one pursuit for which I require total silence. Actually silence is my preferred mode for just about everything - probably a carryover from being one of eight siblings growing up in a very tiny house.

How about you? How and where do you work best?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Utilizing Technorati

I know this is going to be a bit on the technical side, but maybe this information will be helpful to someone else. Some months ago, I learned about It is a social networking place for bloggers. I began "claiming" my blogs on technorati and also using technorati to "ping" each blog update. I also used it to search for other blogs that utilize the same or similar keywords. By doing this I quickly discovered many blogs in my "niche" that already had high page ranks. Just a word about page rank - the higher, the better. Then I was able to go to their blogs and comment, thus piggybacking off of their high page rank.

So last night I decided to go into technorati and claim my new blog (this one). Imagine my delight when I discovered that Grandma is a Writer already had a page rank of 4 in just a little over a week. That shows the power of commenting, following, visiting, etc. All my other blogs only have page ranks of 0,1 or 2 after months and even a couple of years of existence. Most of them get very little traffic, if any.

Amazing! I hope this encourages you to rush over to technorati, claim your blog and find out your page rank.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blogging Disease

Blogging must be getting to me. I didn't have a chance to write my blog last night so in the middle of the night I woke up wishing I was really awake and could be writing my blog entry for today. Now THAT is crazy!

It reminded me of years ago when I was learning typing in high school. I would dream I was typing, practicing the strokes and fingering in my sleep. Is there anyone else out there like me?

So maybe I've identified a new disease - "blogging disease." What do you think?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Working Best

Last night I was thinking about what to write about today and I thought about a short training snippet I listened to several months ago. The basic gist of it was this: in order to get the optimum production from your time, you need to know yourself and when you work best. In other words, are you most alert in the morning, afternoon or evening? What are the exact time frames in your day that allow you to be most productive? Then you need to block off those productive times to work on your writing or other productive endeavors. So in other words, if your most productive time is from 10 until 2, don't take time out of that block to make a big meal or do busy work. If it's from 3 until 7, get your supper made before then so you can stay focused and productive during your best working time.

I happen to be a person who is most productive (and creative) from about 10 to 1 and then again from about 4 until midnight. So don't even ask me to put on my thinking cap before 10:00 AM and if you call me at midnight, I'll probably still be working on some project. However, there are rare occasions when I just flake out at about 8:00 PM and might as well just watch a movie or go to bed. If I curl up with a book, I won't last more than 10 minutes when I'm in "flake out" mode!

So what about you? When are you most alert and productive? Plan your day around it and you'll get a lot more done.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Self Publishing

Today's post will be short. Lots going on today on the home front. We decided to self publish using an on-demand printing service. Does anyone have experience with either on-demand printers or has anyone done self publishing? What are the pros and cons?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Finding Time to Write - Aloha is Forever

When we started thinking in earnest about writing our book Aloha is Forever, we discovered that it was going to require a lot more focused time and energy than we had anticipated. After all, it was our story. We had lived it. We had all the e-mails and letters that had been sent during the search. We had our journals. What could possibly be difficult about just sitting down and writing?

We were in for a big surprise. Since there were two of us writing one book, it was a challenge not to overlap and repeat things that the other had written. But the challenge of writing together is the subject of another post.

Actually carving out time to write was our biggest challenge. We tried writing while traveling - that sort of worked because we were out of our normal routine and the constant daily demands upon our time.

What really worked well was having access to a vacation property. We began taking working vacations for the specific purpose of writing. It worked! Even though there was TV to distract, we agreed to take short breaks and watch a favorite program, but to spend the majority of our time on writing. There was no internet connection and no emergency surprises to take us away from our focus. It only took a few of these working vacations to get the book "done." Then several more to edit and re-edit.

In the process we discovered that we have several more books to write. Our goal for this year is to get at least one of them written. (My husband has the goal of getting 3 written, but I think that's biting off a bit more than we can chew!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Busy Days

I used to think I was busy. I find it laughable now. I'm so busy now that I find myself unable to stay in bed late even if I could.

Caring for my family and most importantly my grandson take top priority. We spend lots of time together while his mother works. He loves to read, go out and see if there is a fresh egg from the chickens, help feed the rabbits, play with the cats and dogs, and watch his new Thomas the Train DVD (all the others got demoted after Christmas). But most of all he likes to sing and he's learned a few new songs from Youtube (also a favorite pastime). His favorites are The Wheels on the Bus, The Itsy, Bitsy Spider and most recently There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. Anyway, he keeps me busy most days, which is why I'm writing this post now so I won't have to worry about it tomorrow. It will be a 10-12 hour marathon of babysitting. I may not have too much time for commenting either tomorrow but I'll do my best!

I also have a winter garden this year as an experiment. Most of the work is covering it with a tarp when it's going to go below 30 degrees and then taking the tarps off again before it gets baked by the sun. Looking forward to fresh spinach salads soon!

Then there is marketing of our book and of other products via the internet.

In the midst of all this, I try to keep hubby on track without derailing myself. And keep him supplied with coffee and all his favorite foods. I cook almost all our meals myself from scratch. He recently convinced me to make a large batch of chili which is one of our favorites. It's been nice to have ready made meals in the freezer.

Then of course there is laundry, house cleaning, spending a little bit of time with the Lord, reading and meditating each morning, e-mails, entertaining, church responsibilities, family seminars - one coming up in mid-January, etc, etc.

I actually used to take naps but I've decided that sleep is way overrated! And all these things that keep me busy are so much fun. I love it! And I thank my Father in heaven every day for good health and lots of energy to enjoy everything He has given me to do.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Ice Storm

Well, last night I wrote a blog entry and saved it as a draft to publish today, but when I went to publish, it was dated yesterday's date. So I guess today's will be written today! (Next time I'll write them ahead in notepad - or does someone know how to write posts in blogger and publish them at a later date?) the forecast was an ice storm. That makes me jump for joy because it means I get to stay home and work on blogs, marketing, writing, etc. Hey, I even have leftovers in the refrigerator so I shouldn't have to spend too much time cooking. Couldn't get any better than that!

So let the storm blow and please let me stay in!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Our Book - Aloha is Forever

We knew before we left Hawaii at the end of December 1999, that we would write a book. It was essential. It was a mandate from our Heavenly Father. We both knew it. The question was - when.

We had just spent most of the month of December helping with the search for our middle son, John, who had gone on a hike in the mountains of the Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii. He had set out on Thanksgiving Day, with the objective of hiking across from Pololu to Waipio. The research he did indicated that he could conceivably cross the valleys and ravines that etched the Kohala in the four day break he had from his field biology internship with the US Geological Survey.

He sent us an e-mail mapping out his plans before he left. We received it only after we received a call from John's supervisor telling us he had not shown up at work the Monday after the long weekend.

Aloha is Forever tells the story of our search, but it goes beyond that as we seek to share spiritual truths that comfort, encourage, challenge, inspire and bring hope to anyone facing devastating circumstances. We share our hearts, our love for our son and our love for our God.

We have published it in e-book format and the print version will be available early in 2009.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Grandma is a Writer

I've had in mind to start this Grandma is a Writer blog for some time now. So here we go. I never imagined I would be a grandmother before I got a book written...but at least I got it written together with my husband.

His mother talked for years about writing a book - The Torrey Story. But she didn't have the help of a computer. So we found multiple copies of page 1 of her manuscript. It was a good start, but only that. Now she suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and the book will never be written.

Makes me wonder how many other unwritten books there are. I'm sure each and every one of us has at least one book; one story to be told. And most will go unwritten.

Over the years from time to time I have kept a journal, maybe someday to be read by my children and grandchildren.

But you may ask what inspired the book my husband and I wrote. That will be the topic of my next post.