Give Thanks in All Things?

Giving thanks in all circumstances, or similar wording, is what the Bible records the Apostle Paul to have said to the Thessalonian people. ((1 Thess. 5:17)
Like many other people, off and on over the years, I have struggled with that scripture.

Thanks for the bad as well as the good?

Is that what it means?

Well, as the fourth anniversary of my husband’s death approaches I have been thinking on that scripture. Does it mean – give thanks for the things that go wrong, or does it mean to give thanks regardless of the situation? Now, I believe the latter, and there is a difference.

jigsaw of the word trust

True, this only works if you have faith in God, so if you do have faith – do you trust God to bring you through it, or out of it?

I did not know how I would survive without my husband/best friend/supporter/encourager. In those dark days there was little support. Oh, yes, there was some, but as I was finding out now it had happened to me, all those words of sympathy I had offered others, really had no understanding of the pain of loss being suffered.

What did I give thanks for then?

Probably, that I had made it through another hour.

Over these long four years I have given thanks for the privilege of my husband’s gift of love to me. A precious gift.


Sometimes there is a tear that escapes. That only means there was a good memory there. I can give thanks for those also.

Did I give thanks when his son died? No, and neither did he. We muddled through somehow. Although it was a dark and horrifying place we had each other, and we leant on each other. What was there to give thanks about in that situation? That we made it through together, and with a stronger relationship. Through voluntary work with The Compassionate Friends we discovered we were the exception rather than the rule. A great many other couples separated when a child died.

Looking back at the many trials and disappointments I can see where benefits have happened because of a circumstance I did not like at the time, and certainly did not see any benefit in, at the time. This is why I believe that TRUST is the key. I might not see a purpose now but I have to trust that there is one.

thanks for the hand

Just thinking


Giving thanks

Please welcome my friend John Reiss to the blog this week. 

I will let John explain why he is writing the blog this week.

John Reiss, thankful post

Well, this is my first blog post in almost 10 years.  Our friend Susan is busy packing for her trip home, and has asked me if I’d like to make a guest appearance.   In light of the time of year, my wife suggested that I write about things to be thankful for.

To begin the list of things to be thankful for…

It’s been great to share our friend’s company as she visited the States.  Susan’s wit and intelligence really encourages us to use our minds for more than just a place to put our hats.  It is a joy to share our thoughts and feelings with someone who, despite our different upbringings, holds many similar views. 

Because my wife does the editing for Susan’s books they share a special bond of friendship that few others can and do.

Thankful for Thanksgiving

This past Thursday we went to my sister’s house for a Thanksgiving dinner.  My younger brother had to work, but my Mom, sisters, and my older sister’s family was there.  All-in-all we had almost 20 people in attendance.  My sister prepared the turkey and we all brought some sort of side-dish. 

The food was delicious and the atmosphere was warm and jovial.  It was a great family get-together and it was great to be able to share this special time of year with our Australian friend.

The youngest family member in attendance drew the picture below.

Hand painting of a turkey

More to be thankful for...

This weekend we traveled to Michigan, where we were visiting a friend from church. 
We loaded up the car and headed off.  It is amazing that in only two hours you can travel to a different world!  We spent the weekend with some great friends whom we hadn’t seen in some time.
We stayed in a hotel, and...

  • Our beds were very comfortable,
  • The room-darkening curtains did an A+ job at keeping the light out! 
  • Seeing the stars at night and the wide-open space
  • The lack of traffic and congestion helped to make it a serene area - and a wonderful respite from Chicago

However, in spite of the city’s problems, I am truthfully very thankful that we live here in the “Windy City.

For most of my life I have lived here on the city’s northwest corner (my favorite), and I am happy that I can have my immediate needs met with a 2-3 block walk to the local CVS or perhaps a hop in the car for a little further drive to the Jewel.

I am happy to have some terrific neighbors and getting to work is only a 15-20 minute drive. 

As Unit Secretary, I work with some wonderful people  in the Labor and Delivery department in a local hospital, and although it was great to be able to have the weekend off, I am looking forward to getting back to work and doing my small part in making the world a better place.

These are a few of the things that I am thankful for, and of course, I am thankful for the opportunity to express my gratitude. 

As I was writing this blog I ran across an online post from Forbes that lists several benefits for being grateful.  The article lists a number of them:

7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round

(Please ignore the ad that appears before the article. 'Continue to Article' is in the upper right-hand side.)

I hope that when you consider your blessings you’ll have more things to be thankful for than you have fingers and toes!

Thankful and blessed, 
John Reiss

Thanksgiving, John and Mariela Reiss and Susan Preston

Susan has recently uploaded the fifth and final book in the Apostle John Series - Hell Shall Not Prevail. 
It is available for pre-order from this link...
Scroll down the page to the postage-stamp sized image, and click on it.

Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony, 2017

The Readers’ Favorite Award Ceremony began, on time, at 7 pm, Saturday 18th of November. The ‘featured image’ shows the stage before the start. Basically, it looks the same as last year… the difference being it says 2017 on this year’s banner whereas (to state the obvious) last year’s banner said 2016

Some of us met on Friday morning at the Readers’ Favorite Booth at the Miami Book Fair.

Readers' Favorite Award winners

Readers' Favorite Award Ceremony

It is an awesome feeling to be in a room brimming with talent. There is a buzz in the air as authors, their guest/partner, the Press and the VIPs mingle before the start. It is a time when authors who have been here previously, greet other repeat award-winners.

It is also a time to meet and talk with first-time winners.

Did you see that hilarious Facebook Live Interview by Jo Dibblee?

I met her last year, bought her book - and reviewed it - also in the backseat is Brenda Hammon, first time award winner.

We all have stories...

Not only the ones we write about. There are struggles, there are disappointments and hurts. Conversely there are also joys.

Authors encourage each other, some of us write to each other.

All of us, have a ‘hall of fame’

...People who have helped and encouraged us on the way. Writing a book is a huge investment in time and resources and although the writing part is solitary, it is not done in isolation.

I have a hall of fame – support of many people. Most know who they are… don’t you.

However, with the physical production of the books in the Apostle John Series, there are some team helpers.

There are many others who have encouraged me, supported me and kept in touch with me when I have felt isolated. Although unnamed here, I thank God for each and every one of you.


Then there are the folks, most of whom I will never meet… readers! Without you where would any author be?

Whether you read on an electronic device, or prefer to hold a printed book - thank you!

And a special mention to those readers who leave reviews so that other readers know what you think of the book.

So, the Readers' Favorite Award Ceremony is over for 2017. I attended because of all of you, and your support.

Take a bow - you are special.

Where you will find my books...

Hold the Faith - Readers' Favorite Award winner. 2016
1st in series. Free in eBook format.

Scroll down, click Buy on Amazon - and you will find it is free!

Grow in Grace - 2nd in series, not entered for award.

The Light of Truth - 3rd in series. Award from IAN

Keep the Flame - Readers' Favorite Award winner 2017. 
4th in series

Hell Shall Not Prevail - 5th and final in series. eBook due for release in December 2017. Print version, next year. Available for pre-order as an eBook.

To save you searching through Amazon's database all books in the series are linked directly to their page on Amazon.
Preview the book, or buy the book by scrolling down and clicking the appropriate link.



The official photographs will be available in a couple of weeks. Till then, here is a peep at one of me with Mark, a judge and James, president.

You could be a winner next year...

Click the image above, and start your journey to a Readers' Favorite Award!

Till next time, take care


Robbie Burns, the man and the statue

Robbie Burns cottage, Ayr

The twelfth child of the famous Scots poet Robert (Robbie) Burns was born during his funeral service. So says Wikipedia (as well as other sites.)

“On the morning of 21 July 1796, Burns died in Dumfries, at the age of 37. The funeral took place on Monday 25 July 1796, the day that his son Maxwell was born.”
Wikipedia     (

Venerated by mBlack Burns statue of Robbie Burnsany for his poems and songs, mainly in the Scottish dialect, a statue in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland portrays his ‘dark’ side.

Illicit relationships and fathering illegitimate children ran parallel to a productive period in his working life. His correspondence with Agnes ‘Nancy’ McLehose resulted in the classic ‘Ae Fond Kiss’. A relationship with Mary Campbell inspired several poems, ‘Highland Mary’ being one. (Mary Campbell died of typhus.)

A heavy drinker, financial problems, and adulterous relationships reportedly tarnished his character and probably, in part, inspired the ‘Black Burns’ statue.

Robbie Burns, the legendRobbie Burns, shattered statue

Wandering around the hall where the shattered black marble statue lay in front of the pristine white one, it was strange to see all the ‘busts’ of other famous people turned away.

According to the on August 1st 2017…

Robert Louis Stevenson, author of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is among the worthies whose marble busts have been turned to the wall for this installation, as if they were looking away in disgust from the exposed inner darkness of Robert Burns.

Robbie Burns, the young man

Primarily taught by his father, Robbie Burns he learned reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history.

According to the Wikipedia article mentioned previously….

“By the age of 15, Burns was the principal labourer at Mount Oliphant (a farm of on the estate of Doonholm, about three miles from Ayr). During the harvest of 1774, he was assisted by Nelly Kilpatrick (1759–1820), who inspired his first attempt at poetry, “O, Once I Lov’d A Bonnie Lass.” Seems that his amorous adventures started when he was young.

He was thirty-seven years of age when he died. Who knows what his life would have turned out to be.

Jesus, the Christ said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7b

How many of us could cope with having their early life picked over, dissected and judged by others who do not ‘walk in our sandals, boots, or shoes?’

On a personal note…

As a writer of historical fiction, understanding the culture and mores of the time is important. He lived in the 1780’s. While I would not like to live as Robbie Burns lived, since I am living in a totally different time and culture, I cannot – or should not judge him or how he lived his life.

He left a considerable legacy of poems and songs, as well as some less salubrious ones.

Just thinking,



Living in a tourist area

Edinburgh from Inverleith Park

At the end of October, while I was sleeping in Dean Village, all the clocks changed and I gained an hour. Well, one clock did not change… the one that needs a person to change it.

Dean Village, tourist attraction

The time change turned out to be a blessing because the walking tours past the windows started later. The people are quite noisy – they seem not to consider that Dean Village is not only a historical part of Edinburgh, people live there. Oh, and that is another thing… many of the people are nosy. Other than the young woman who was almost run over as she stopped and watched us open the door to the home, my granddaughter tells a story of another incident. One ‘intrepid’ tourist followed them into the entryway and was set to follow the family into the house.

A few moments ago, a female tourist came to the bedroom window taking photographs. Maybe this is how celebrities feel, when their privacy is invaded.

Dean Village, where the family I am staying with live, is described in tourist guides as a ‘hidden gem.’ Judging by the flood of people passing the window, it is not so hidden anymore.

One lady tourist I talked with, on Dean Bridge, said she had been coming to Edinburgh on holiday for seventeen years and it was only this year she had ‘discovered’ Dean Viillage.

“I feel like I have walked back in time when I come here.”

Dean Village. water of Leith

The village was the centre of the grain milling trade. At one point there were 11 working mills here, driven by the force of the strong currents of the ‘Waters of Leith’. The guides describe Dean Village as, “Tranquil, peaceful, and an oasis of calm, walking down by the canal you will feel far removed from the city.”

I remember the first time I visited family in this area, before it became a ‘hidden gem’ to tourists. Being a history lover, I enjoyed walking along the waters of Leith, peaceful now with the mills long gone. The house on Bells’ Brae that I am in has a large bell on the top of the building. Although Dean Village is basically in the heart of the capital city as it is only fifteen minutes from Princes Street, (the main street) it is a piece of old Edinburgh’s history. The very narrow cobbled streets attest to its eight hundred year-old history.

Dean Village, cobbled streets and dry-stone wall

Escaping clocks, time and tourists…I spent a pleasant afternoon in Inverleith Park where my nearly six-year-old granddaughter was learning to ride her bike. The views from this park were awesome and it was clear to see how the Castle dominates the city.

It is cold here however, since it is heading rapidly toward the end of the year. Soon, I will be back in the US and heading to Miami for the Book Awards Ceremony. This year the fourth book in the series, Keep the Flame, was a Finalist in the Christian, Historical Fiction section.

So, till next time,

Tread softly, you might be sitting next to someone who has achieved much, like the lovely, blind lady I met on a park bench. She had received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) from the Queen for her work with children’s hospices.

God bless


Are our tools controlling us?

tools blog, featured

The question ‘Are our tools controlling us?’ was a sentence near the end of a recent sermon. And no, the sermon was not about our modern ‘tools.’

Defining ‘tools’

All those useful appliances and ‘helps’ that make our lives so much easier than our ancestors, who hand-washed clothes; cooked on solid fuel cookers; and hand-sewed their garments and household linen.

Often what happened in a different part of the world was never known. Now we have ‘tools’ to give us instant updates.

Spanning the generations

When I was young, which was a long time ago, my family home had a radio. It needed something called accumulators – I remember my mother going into the hardware shop and I think she handed in one, and paid for a new one.
(From memory, it looked something like this, and I think my mother said she had to carry it because it had acid in it.)

tool of the past, a radio accumulator

Time went on and we had an electric radio… and eventually transistor radios.

I do not remember being controlled by the radio, or addicted to programs on it.

Next, came television

I do not remember being ‘glued’ to it either. In those days we talked as a family and ate together without distraction around the meal table.

We did not even have a phone. There was no need for one.

When my aunt and her family were coming to visit us, she sent a letter and traveled by bus on the day she had told us she would arrive.

When we went to visit them, my brother and I made our own fun. We played with our cousins.
Sometimes when exploring we ended up in trouble. Or one of us did... often, me.

One time, when crossing the weir with my cousins, I slipped and fell into the water.

Going back to my aunt’s house and facing her and my mother was no ‘fun.’

Then came telephones.

They were not a priority or a necessity in my community, we met each other in the street; when shopping,and sometimes by arrangement.

Eventually, after my marriage and moving to my husband’s city of work, a telephone became useful.
Notice, I said ‘useful’ not a necessity.
In fact, sometimes when it rang it filled me with fear.
What bad news was it bringing.
In the early days people did not use it to ‘chat’ – at least not in my home country.

Perhaps  in having a glimpse of life from my childhood until now, you can see that technology gradually found a place in our lives. However, it did not exert control.

cartoon of phone ringing

I remember – ‘in the olden days’ if watching a film (black and white movie on our black and white TV) if the phone rang, it was a nuisance.

Now, I see people addicted...

to ‘mobile’ or ‘cell’ phones.

The ‘ring’ or ‘ping’ of a call or a message demands a response. I have seen a woman walk off the pavement and onto the road totally absorbed in 'texting' and not on the car driving toward her.
And, in case it seems sexist to single out a woman I saw, I have seen men totally oblivious to their surroundings because of this little ‘pocket’ autocrat.

I am not against technology. As an author I appreciate my computer, the Internet and the many help research tools, as well as the benefits of email and so on. However, I am honest enough to admit that at times I am ruled by it.
My overwhelming concern though, is the power these little pocket autocrats have over their users.

Is a case of ‘the servant has become the master?’

This is entirely our choice. Which of us will rule?

Will it be the tools or us?

The Bridegroom Comes

sky for bridegroom comes blog

Following a recent post where the ten virgins were mentioned, the Bridegroom came and they were not ready.

The Bridegroom comes and the virgins are not all ready
10 virgins when the bridegroom came

This is an analogy the people of the time would have understood far more easily than we do. It is based on a custom of the time.

After a betrothal was arranged the man and woman were considered married but the marriage was not consummated.

The only way to end a betrothal was by a divorce.

By the way, this knowledge answered a puzzlement of my young years when reading of Mary and Joseph.
I had not understood that betrothal was as binding as marriage itself.

After the betrothal the groom went to prepare a home for his bride. In some cases, it was a room he built on – added to – the family home. While the groom was preparing a home for his bride, she was making herself ready.

There were no sewing machines then, no dress shops where she could buy a gown to wear when her husband came to claim her and take her to the home he had prepared. There were no department stores where she could buy bedlinen or any of the furnishings needed. She sewed everything herself. This was her part of being ready for the bridegroom.

A date for the final part of the marriage, the time when she would be claimed from her family, was not arranged. Generally, it was approximately a year after, sometimes sooner depending upon what had been arranged in the marriage contract agreed before the formal betrothal took place.

According to my research into the period, the friend of the groom was the one who checked up to see how arrangements were progressing, and to ensure the bride was making herself ready. He was the one who gave warning to the family that the bridegroom would come in the next few days.

In those days it was usually something that happened at night, possibly because of the work hours.

Here is a possible reason why the ten virgins… or however many attendants the bride had, were to be ready to light the last part of the way to where the bride would wait.

“Behold the bridegroom comes!”

This was the signal that it was time for the virgins to take their lamps and run to light the way.

Image is of the Negev in Israel.

Imagine, only starlight… only moonlight – depending on the phase of the moon. If it was cloudy... neither.

There were no street lamp Is, no electricity in fact. Only oil lamps.

Of course, there is an analogy. Christ is the Bridegroom, His church, the Bride and He has gone to prepare a place.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14: 2 b

In researching for Hold the Faith… which became the Apostle John series, all these customs of the time revealed the spiritual meaning that was then applied to them in the parables. In fact, understanding the customs of the times made the gospels a lot more meaningful.

I must admit that when writing the series I often wished for even a landline telephone, so that Naomi had warning of 'surprise' guests.

A modern cooking stove would have made life easier, too.

Guess, thinking about what they needed to do, as well as the threats they faced, makes us appreciate what we have... or it should do.

Till next time,



The cover is not updated yet, but The Light of Truth (book 3 in the series)  has won a Finalist Award in the Independent Authors' Network Book of the Year Awards.


Dictionary definition of ‘decision’ in the sense I mean it for this post.
“The act or process of deciding; determination, as of a question or doubt, by making a judgment.”

This is a follow-up to a recent post on blame. Sometimes we blame others for a poor choice we have made. However, if we have the full information, the responsibility for the choices we make rest squarely on our own shoulders.

one kind of riches

As someone who never had much in the way of physical ‘riches.’  When I was young, I thought God was a bit unfair taking the ‘talent’ from the man who had been afraid to do anything with it, but kept it safe.
Matt 25.

Now, I am older, I can see the spiritual meaning.

I took it literally before.

The man who had been given five talents, used those talents and was praised for the result – because he made some wise choices, and increased the money.

The man who had been given two talents also make good choices; he also made a one hundred percent return on what he had been given.

We all have some talent.

Some have the talent of encouraging others. Some are talented singers, musicians, some find it easy to teach others.
Many of us say, “I don’t have a talent,” but I doubt it is true.
Even if the talent we have does not bring us the attention of others, we all are gifted in some way.

My former neighbor would not have thought she had a talent. But her grown-up family all queued up for her mince pies, her cakes and pastries. She was truly talented in baking.
Another person I knew was brilliant at organizing the home, and another at budgeting.

Talents are not always obvious, but each is important!

Decisions can be costly

Remember the parable of the ten virgins. Five of them kept extra oil with them, five made the decision not to take extra oil.

In the Bible, oil often represents the Holy Spirit… and if the parable is looked at in that way, then it is understandable why the five who had enough were unable to give to the others.

Decision to keep lamp burning

We each make a decision


  • Will we pray?
  • Do we choose to study the Bible?

In this current fast-paced world, finding time to fit everything in is difficult.
Is prayer and study one of the things we trim, or cut so we can do everything that is required of us?

While it may be understandable, in the long-term will there be enough oil in our lamps when the Bridegroom returns?

Just wondering.
It is an answer for each of us to seek out.

Till next time,


Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished… but

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

As often happens a minor waking in the night, becomes the end of sleeping.


Because my brain wakes up and clicks into gear.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished - but...

at four am it occurred to me there were more stories waiting to be told.

Although Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished, not edited yet, but finished... I could think of three 'novella' type stories rising out of this last book in the Apostle John Series.

Therefore, rather than start the new series (on a different subject) just yet, I am thinking of picking up the stories of three of the characters and giving them a life beyond the final book in the Apostle John series.

Although I did not like ALL of the characters... 

  • Each served a purpose
  • Each was necessary
  • I 'lived in the skin' of each of them for a while.


Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

I know the possibilities of their lives after Hell Shall Not Prevail. 

However, their lives went in different directions and it was not possible to continue this in Hell Shall Not Prevail.


Look out for more in the Apostle John series

So, look out for news on these novellas...

  1. Esther's story - which involves some of the other characters but focuses on her future.
  2. Giannis' story. Is there hope for him? Will there be a new love?
  3. Naomi. (Cannot say where this goes without it being a 'spoiler' for events in Hell Shall Not Prevail.)

All these characters have had a role in the series since book 1 Hold the Faith... but deserve a life after

Must not say anymore for the present.


Btw - Did you know the eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on Amazon? 

Use the link on the book page. Scroll down and click the 'Buy on Amazon link

Just sharing ....



If you want to be first to know about these new novellas, sign up for the VIP Reader's group

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Hell Shall Not Prevail – the end

Apostle John Series book covers with Hell Shall Not Prevail
Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

As members of my VIP Readers group know… one evening last week I wrote, ‘THE END.’ Hell Shall Not Prevail, book 5 in the Apostle John Series is finished.  

Yes, there have been many hiccoughs and delays with this final book in the series. It was supposed to be released sooner than this. However, I needed to do the other books justice. It is a 'capstone' on the series.

Now, I have finished going through it, line by line, so that it is the least amount of work for an editor.

Typing ‘THE END’ was a strange, but satisfying feeling.
(I never did find the missing Epilogue, but I believe the one it has now is probably better.)

Each of the other books in the series has finished with… ‘To be continued in…” (Whatever the next book was called.)

This one finished the series!

Sometimes it was 'odd' living between two time periods - but it was incredible what I discovered as I researched all I could about their time and culture... so that I could walk in their shoes!

I would not be telling the truth if I said I LIKED every character, but I did come to know them. I had to in order to 'live in their skins.'

It has hard to describe the feeling when I looked at those words 'THE END' on the page.  After five books!

There was a tinge of sadness that my late husband is not here to share the pleasure. I know he would have been delighted - he lived with the first few books.

Other feelings? Mainly there was excitement, joy, satisfaction, all competing for supremacy.… and I found myself wondering if God feels the same way when ‘one of His saints’ reaches the end of life.


Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

It gave me an inkling of what He might feel.

But why?

Why is it ‘precious in His sight’ when his saints die?

And why does he take no pleasure in the death of the wicked?

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezek 33:11

Perhaps it is because the race is run, and for the ‘saints’ THE END can be ‘stamped’ on a life lived well.

The death of a sinner is a different story.

Just thinking, and delighted that the Apostle John Series has ‘lived well.’

Teddy bear and red roses image

Thank you to all who have supported me through this journey through the lives of the people of the late 1st century AD.

P.S. To those who have asked, yes, another series is coming… a different one. But first, a rest, friends, family – oh, and a book award for Keep the Flame.

Thank you, readers, for your support. Stay tuned.

Tread softly


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