Sunday, July 31, 2022

Clarity in the Chaos - Shared with Permission by Vincent H. Chough, Author of Be With Him - Be Like Him And Leader at Prayer for Anxiety.Com


Prayer for Anxiety is a place where you can find rest. Get inspiration through God's Word and prayer. You can ask for prayer. Or read informative articles. Remember, true prayer comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


Third Millennium Man is not a movement or a church. It’s simply a place where people of faith come to share experiences and ideas. The goal here is to rise above the chaos of current events and gain deeper meaning and insight.




Right up front, I have to admit I have no idea how this writer and his works were first presented to me... Assuming it was on Facebook, I have to quickly claim this as a God Incident... because I don't think it was this particular posting that I first saw. Since then, I bought one of Clough's books, asked and gained permission to use his Words here on Book Readers Heaven.

Many of you have read my use of the words Chaos... of Truth... But Chough adds a very important word for these days, don't you think? We must seek CLARITY!

I'm also now working on another post about a book dealing with the legal issues of Freedom of Speech. Frankly, I have been appalled over the last five years, in which I've become more aware of the political culture of America, that we are, more and more, becoming a culture of...lies! What do I mean, you may ask, "I don't know about or often hear lies..." Well, I would just simply ask you to start reading, or listening to, or watching different communication methods than is your normal actions...

Know Thyself. 

One of the things that has bothered me most, simply because, I see it in myself... is the tendency to automatically lie to not hurt somebody dear to me.  Men do it a lot when women ask if their new dress looks alright... All of us use little white lies from time to time. Perhaps we learned it long ago from our family interaction or just because we have a real sense of empathy and sympathy and prefer not to hurt somebody else's feelings if at all possible (and it won't cause any problem). But, even then, sometimes those little white lies backfire on us, don't they?

Do I lie when I write reviews on books? No, I don't. I may choose different words on various books, but I made it a goal when I first started to write book reviews that I would not lie. The truth is--I love to read and, rarely, have I found a book that I did not like. And, when I do, I either don't review it, or I explain why I did not recommend the book to others. For me, reviewing books were just not my personal opinion. Rather, it simply starts with my opinion... either I like it or I don't... Once I decide I'm willing to read the book, then I begin to evaluate and consider specific points of reference as I read. And I mark them for possible use in writing my reviewing later.

Now, I've digressed from the main point of my thoughts today, just to illustrate that all of us must take the time to learn and speak in Truth. If you discover that I, or somebody you know, lies on a regular basis, especially, you should and would have every right not to read anything I ever write or say...

But what, if anything, do you do after you've determined (or think) that I've lied? Do you confront me, or whoever you know who has lied? Do you lie, and even more specifically, lie about me, in turn?

Many of us have seen and reacted to the chaos that has erupted and been incited...and encouraged...and even claimed to be... true. In fact, one man, in particular, has even had the number of his lies...counted! So that, as quickly as possible, those lies can be corrected with truth--facts. Yet, the lies continue, so much so that many now believe them as truth.

Of course, I'm talking about what we all see in the political arena these days. I'm going to stop there, today, because the point of this article is for us to consider it a topic for prayer, for meditation, for, perhaps, talking with somebody who is willing to talk about the chaos, rather than attempt to persuade us that a lie is actually the truth... We all need discernment - the ability to judge well... Maybe even visits to Chough's sites are something you decide to choose...or 

You may choose reading about an issue, or talking to somebody about it. You may also pray about it as is shown in today's suggested words... Often we don't know what we need to think or which way to turn. That's all right, there are people like Vincent Chough, who may provide insight. I've found it through the words of many of the authors I've read... But you must seek clarity to be sure you do know the truth... Stop right now and decide for yourself. Do you want to automatically accept the words as stated by another? Or, do you want to have clarity, and maybe even purpose, in choosing what, in this chaotic world we now live in, to believe... 


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Painting by Walter Jack Savage Inspires Memories and Thoughts of My Mother - Born in July...


Image of a Woman

She could be any woman, and yet
I see her clearly
Her arms surrounding me
holding me close
She sits there waiting for me
having finished her work day
waiting for a ride home...
I watch from above
as I spend time with a friend
chatting about this or that
until 5:00 on the dot comes

Often, when I get in the car
She starts talking, even in the midst of a sentence,
she'd been thinking about what she wanted to say
I beg--give me five minutes of quiet
Having been on the phone all day 
She immediately stops, not needing to say, Sorry
There will be time to talk about things 
Perhaps while we go someplace to eat
It doesn't matter where for me
She'll probably choose KYC again
And maybe we can get a watermelon, for desert

I normally do what my Mom wants...
She's worked all her life to provide for her children
Now each of us are working, she lives with me.
And it is a good relationship of love
Mom took on four children serving as both parents
when my father was killed before I was born
Mom, it seemed, worked all the time
Social security was not sufficient
to provide all basic needs.
She did practical nursing, housekeeping, 
and washed and ironed clothes for others

Now, I live, beyond the years that she had
Her life was filled with hard work and pain
Yet, she raised four children in God's ways
and showed us His Love as well as Hers
I still remember when I found her...
She'd ask that I be sure to put new slippers 
on her feet--I knew just where I'd find them
Then gently lifted her old, tired feet
and slid them on for the last of comfort
For tomorrow, she'll have no pain
and a brand new body... 

She'll be waiting at the Gate
Perhaps she'll bring my Dad, I never met
Two siblings are already there
Two sons-in-law as well
She's already surrounded, but 
she always loved to be near family
And I know she's waiting for all of us
To live with her forever...
Til then, The Image of a Woman
keeps me close to her each day
One sleeping peacefully, the one I love best...

I Love You Mom!

I Chose this video because I remember Mom always wanted somebody to play the piano and sing, especially when the family gathered at Thanksgiving... or at each other's homes...and a piano was there...
This is a favorite for many of us...

Hi Everybody,

When I saw Jack's beautiful painting yesterday, I asked if it was of his mother...and obviously I thought of my own mother...for I thought of the image he presented, to be one of those where she is already with You, Lord, in Heaven...

Jack answered that it was of all women...And, so, I wanted to share it with you all, dear friends. I don't profess to be a poet, but once in a while, I am inspired to respond to pictures or events...the words seem to come, just thoughts or memories... 

Jack, thanks so much for allowing me to share your work here at Book Readers Heaven. It complements the many times I've shared  my thoughts on your books... You are indeed blessed with all of your artistic gifts!

God Bless,

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Brent Marks Series 4-6 by Kenneth Eade - Today, Talking about Unreasonable Force!

No matter how many times I have seen, heard about, or thought of those men who have been, "seemingly", murdered by police, I immediately, first, think of Eric Gardner, who died in 2014--the first video I have ever seen of extreme, in my opinion, police action against an individual--after being held down by so many men that he could not even get up...and definitely could not breathe, due to a choke hold... What was he doing? Selling cigarettes--one at a time! My mind still cannot comprehend how this could be the only way for police to have handled the issue. Yes, he was a big man, but why was force even needed for such a minor crime... Surely, surely, what we saw could never be justified...or could it? NOT IN MY MIND!

This has been marked Age-appropriate... Do you think this is a correct decision?

Eades  provides an Afterword to his book Unreasonable Force that I felt was important enough to share first... This is today's reality in America...


This is a fictional story, but it strikes at the heart of something which is tearing our country apart.  We have become desensitized to violence  and we have never been able to come to terms with our racist past.  We have objectified people.  We classify them and see them as objects instead of human beings.  Our police forces are paramilitary forces that are in constant search of an enemy, and we have become too willing to accept war and violence as part of our existence as a country.  The prologue in this book is based on a true, real life story.  The only difference is that the two boys were not black.  If they had been, it could have been a completely different outcome. This is not what this country is all about.  This is not the country that I grew up in, where war was a bad thing and tolerance a good thing.  We are a country of immigrants.  We all belong here.  The jury in the case depicted in this novel came to the right conclusion, but it could have just as easily gone the other way.  If we speak out against the abuses in our government and educate our children to be blind to skin color and tolerant of our neighbors, perhaps we can rise above our checkered past and we will not have to worry that the police will abuse their power.

The boys dropped to their knees, ignoring the pain of the asphalt grinding into their skin. They saw the silhouette of an approaching officer, which was eclipsed by a blinding light from his baton flashlight, fixed directly at their eyes. 
“That hurts!” said William. 
“Shut up!” said the officer. They didn’t even see the other cop approach. He snuck up on them from behind like an alley cat after a mouse and slapped their wrists in handcuffs.
“Man, what’s this about? We didn’t do anything!” William protested, as the Officer picked him off the ground by the collar and slammed his body against the police car. 
“I told you to shut up. You been stealin'?” he asked as he patted William down. “No.” 
“Do you realize you could have been shot?” 
“Shot?” William recoiled in fear. He turned to face the Officer, who slammed him back into the car. He felt like crying, but he was a man and he knew that a man had to be brave, so he forged an expression of hardened steel. “Your buddy knows you did wrong. Look, he’s pissed his pants.” 
William looked over at TJ, who was also against the car, being searched, his head bent in shame. “You got any drugs?” asked the Officer. 
“No, I don’t do drugs.”
“Don’t mouth off. I’m asking you a question,” the officer said, as he emptied William’s pockets. 
“No, I don’t have any drugs.” 
“I found a weapon!” he called to his fellow officer.
“That’s no weapon. It’s my pocket knife.” The officer slipped William’s Swiss Army Knife into his shirt pocket. “My dad gave me that.”
“He should have known better,” said the cop, his smiling eyes betraying the stern look on his face as he pocketed the knife...
In an instant, the cop smacked William in the knee with the baton in a rage. William felt a fire in his knee as he heard it crack, lost his balance, and fell. The cop kicked William in his balls and then his stomach, which made him heave. “You barfed on my shoe, nigger!” There was nothing after that, only bits and pieces. The only thing William could remember was the deafening pop as the gun went off, and the cop’s partner hitting the ground like a fallen bowling pin.

A routine event--friends want to go out for an evening, knowing it would probably lead to some drinks. So, William, who happens to be a lawyer himself, accepts the role of "designated driver." I applaud this decision and, if it wasn't for what happened when the police came along and saw them, it would have ended with all of the friends safely arriving home... 

Eade decided to make it even more dramatic when he places the cops in a location where there wasn't a reason for them to be... And, further, that there might be questionable actions as well. Of course, this made is more complex and intriguing for readers, but, rarely, even in today's world, do we know whether or not the police involved are "good guys" or "bad guys." What we see, primarily, is... unfortunately... prejudice. And, if not prejudice... a stereotyping of Black people which is totally unacceptable for the majority of us!

William, upon the police approaching, explained that he was the designated driver. Yes, even acknowledging that his friends had been drinking, excessively. However, an open can was noticed in the car and the police immediately assumed... Do you know what assumed usually means? William was asked to get out of the car so that he could go through the normal tests for sobriety. But, the police officer immediately started using "unreasonable force" and William wound up in the hospital after having been badly beaten by the officer's with his baton. Based on his injuries...for because of the traumatic stress, William was unable to remember what happened...

Brent and William had worked on a case many years ago. William was a good lawyer and they had become friends. Although Brent was not taking too many criminal cases these days, he knew he wanted to help William if at all possible, even knowing that the case would be stacked against the Black man...

“It’s Jim Crow, all over again.”      
“Brent, that policeman stopped me for nothing.  And even after he stopped me, he should have seen who I was.  But he didn’t see a human being.  He didn’t see a man with hopes and dreams, with disappointments and accomplishments.  All he saw in front of him was just another nigger.” 
Brent knew that William’s case emphasized the black and white line that had been drawn between police and people of color in the United States.  Police organizations followed a paramilitary structure and protocol, and their members had all been trained in a military fashion.  Through years of desensitization, the public had come to accept the “us” or “them” mentality, and had looked the other way to violence on its own soil in the name of “safety,” especially after the war on terror was announced after
September 11, 2001.  Just as the military in war objectify and dehumanize the enemy, the enemy in the war on the streets of America had a face, and it was not white...


Have you noticed on the news that those officers who stood around, while George Floyd was murdered, are now also being convicted? I certainly applaud those actions. However, given just how many times, since then, that there have been questionable events that we've all seen reported, it is still a known fact that America has gained a climate of violence that is, so often, based upon the years where we watched as those in right-wing groups were incited over and over to hate, to be biased against those who are different--in any way.

Yesterday, we listened as the Attorney General spoke about ensuring that ALL involved in the January 6th Insurrection would be acted upon by his Office. One thing that I just had not thought of, which was so understandable to anybody who has worked in America, was that his unit, although very large, does not have the resources necessary to act any faster than they are doing... Wow, So Simple an answer for all of us who have been, somewhat impatiently, waiting and wondering just when those we all know that are involved (and those, especially, who have been identified through the January 6 Bipartisan hearings, including by many republicans who worked and testified about the day in which the first-ever attack on the United States Capitol took place.) I hope that, if at all possible, that additional staff are added to the Attorney General's office to handle the thousands of individual cases that must be investigated and acted upon to legally bring those individuals before the courts! We must be patient, but we must also do our own analysis and act accordingly to vote to ensure individuals who support a culture of violence are NOT in Congress!

We now know details of just who, how, when, and, of course why, planning was happening... Many of those have come forward on their own initiative to share what--and how they felt--about what took place during that heinous event... And many have shared just how they were persecuted by doing so by members of those promulgating "The Big Lie..." 

We MUST work to ensure that this never happens again! By voting OUT anybody that supports lies, conspiracy theories...and anything that results in the loss of rights now given to all Americans. Only we can speak for those who are constantly attacked for...just...being...a little...different...than...white, supposed, christians...

When we do not acknowledge that all individuals are due the same rights as anybody else, we are complicit in that violation of those rights provided to ALL through the Constitution. And we NOW know what happens when we don't personally get involved to fight AGAINST SUCH HATE, LIES, AND ACTS AGAINST ALL AMERICANS... IT IS OUR AMERICA THAT WE MUST PROTECT FROM ANYBODY WHO INCITES VIOLENCE WHERE IT IS NOT NEEDED! 

And that includes voting against anybody who refuses to support the ban of military-style guns that are being used to kill Americans! Every vote is Important!

During this series book, Brent was involved in another issue that is creating problems in America! Anonymous Lies! Posted online! Let me point out that Kenneth G. Eade, continues to prove to me JUST WHY HE IS MY FAVORITE LEGAL FICTION AUTHOR. He takes today's important issues and brings them into a setting where we all learn, as well as understand and support the actions to ensure that those who are being abused, in any way, receive justice! If you want to learn more, including indepth research and background on issues happening NOW, I recommend you start with the entire Brent Marks Series!
What is the simple definition of justice?

b(1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action. (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness the justice of their cause. c : the quality of conforming to law. 3 : conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness admitted that there was much justice in these observations— T. L. Peacock.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

A Merry Christmas Anniversary Mystery - Latest from Anna Celeste Burke


How about a cozy fire and seasonal music to go with the champagne?" Felix didn't wait for us to answer. One of Jack's favorite jazz singers began to sing a sweet, dreamy version of White Christmas. A fire was crackling by the time we reached the fireplace. "It's been good talking to you, Felix. Thanks for all your help, but I'll take it from here. Goodnight."

           “Can we help it if we’ve turned out to be a good team in love and murder, my sweet?

We'd just finished breakfast on our third morning in the lavish hotel when the shaking began. Max had kept his word not to intrude, although it was beginning to worry me that he hadn't called to arrange our dinner date. We'd had two gloriously peaceful days exploring Max's strange new world taking shape in New Arcadia. I should have known that wouldn't last. 

"Don't worry," Jack said as he picked up Miles and followed me under the table. "Max claims his architects and engineers designed this hotel to withstand the biggest quake Mother Nature can unleash." As the room continued to shimmy and shake, Jack appeared less confident. I was fighting the urge to bolt, but where would I go? "If this isn't 'the big one,' I don't want to be around for it," I grumbled. Rattling sounds came from all around us, and the entire hotel swayed—or rolled was more like it. "Are you sure this place isn't going to sink like the Titanic? We might as well be in a storm at sea." "It's supposed to roll, Georgie. The entire building has flexible joints that can slide with the quake's motion." "What's the rattling noise?" I asked as I heard a soft plop. My laptop settled onto the carpet nearby after sliding off the table above us. "Probably the blinds and windows. The items in drawers and cupboards, too, although magnetic locks are activated once the motion reaches a certain level. We'd hear more than rattling if the cupboards and drawers were flapping, and stuff was spilling all over the floor. These quakes don't last more than a minute or two. It'll be over soon." 

As Jack spoke, the motion lessened and then stopped. The cats, who usually demand an explanation for unusual human behavior like sitting on the floor under a table, hadn't squirmed or made a sound. No purring from them either, though. "Whew!" I said, scooting toward the edge of the solidly built, exotic-wood table that could seat eight for dinner, more if you added another leaf. That didn't matter since Jack and I weren't planning to have any dinner parties. I was grateful for the table's hefty size, though, if it didn't collapse and flatten me like a pancake. I wanted to check to see if my laptop had survived. "What's that sound?" Jack asked, putting a hand on my arm to keep me from going anywhere. A low rumble grew louder as if it were moving closer. "

Aftershock?" I asked. My answer was a blast that shifted the entire hotel building in one direction all at once. The windows didn't rattle but made an oomph sound—like a person who's had the wind knocked out of them. The building righted itself as the motion and noise stopped. "That was no quake," Jack declared.

The ninth, and last in the series, so far, was more dramatic and tense for readers as explosions occur and fear and action consumes all that a call for evacuation is made. But, of course, as a part of senior administration, Georgie will be staying, even though she and Jack are already vacationing, celebrating their first anniversary... And, of course, a body is soon found, so Jack, as a homicide detective, even if they are visiting "New Arcadia," is called upon to begin the investigation. I'm Loving This Series!

Our suite was virtually soundproof, but I heard the faint whine of sirens and horns blasting. I opened the French doors that led to our expansive balcony. We had fantastic views of the mountains on both sides of the resort and the city of New Arcadia. A golf course beckoned to us from in front of the hotel. Below us, and behind the hotel, a private recreation area offered guests swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa, and a path wandering between the biodomes. In front of the hotel, I could also glimpse the green spaces, homes, shops, and other buildings in one of New Arcadia's first neighborhoods. Max hoped to welcome the first residents to their homes in "Tomorrow's City, Today!" early in the new year. Farther out, where no development appeared to be underway, plumes of smoke rose into the sky. 

"I see smoke, Carol, but it's in the distance." I stepped closer to the far end of the veranda to get a better view. Strains of Blue Christmas reached me first, followed by horn blasts and screeching sirens. They were louder but not constant, even though I could see police and fire department vehicles racing toward the smoke. Ambulances and rescue squad vehicles were in the mix too. Why aren't they using the underground roadways? I wondered. People milled around on the patios and pool areas below as if in a daze. Dressed in Marvelous Marley World outfits, it was clear some were employees. Others who must have been guests huddled together speaking to each other or staff members. Several were on their cellphones like me. I moved back toward the French doors, suddenly worried that I'd left them open. So far, Miles and Ella hadn't shown much interest in getting out onto the veranda. Still, I wasn't taking any chances, given my distracted state of mind...

By now, most of the ongoing characters are known, but we do have a new family introduced, Frank and Jessica Huntington (the author has an entire series featuring Jessica). The family includes Anastasia, who caused a few minutes consternation on the part of Miles and Ella--and then they bounded off in a "welcome" race to new adventures! As time goes by, and Max is still missing, all of the employees begin to discuss what would happen if he was...not coming back. Of course, there was a succession plan for the leader but, as could be imagined as the chaos encircled their lives, those who had a vested interest in the potential new leader of Marley World, including Georgie, were the main thrust of the book... And, we know, don't we? That when there was a chance to increase power by individuals, it often leads to deception and criminal actions. Georgie was soon in the position of wondering just who she could trust...and just how far she could go in attempting to handle things on her own, without becoming a target herself?!

“Time to gang up on him and try a little tough love,” Sid added, wearily.  “Yes, something like that. I appreciate your willingness to share your concerns with me. I’ll ask Rita to send those documents by email, so we’ll get them right away,” I said. We both stood up, slowly, as if weighed down by the difficulty of the demands on us. Just then, the holiday music started. Sid and I both startled as Michael BublĂ© belted out the lyrics to It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.  “We’re not too edgy, are we?  

I still have a couple of Burke's series books that I haven't talked about...and will do so from time to time... In the meantime, I'm reading one of Kenneth Eade's legal thrillers... He's been on a hiatus from writing, but I've still found enough of his books to keep me happy! He's my favorite writer for this genre, and I've found that he's normally writing about something that is relevant to today's headlines... This time, about a Cop-Black Man Shooting Incident ...So watch for it coming soon! You can be sure that this writer makes sure that defendants get the best legal attention that is possible!

God Bless

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

EC Stilson - Sharing About Her Latest Book, Two More Years! Spotlighting Breadcrumbs From God (God Incidents!)

 When you strip me of everything: my ability to play the violin, my health, my love of writing.... When you get to the essence of who I am, I just wonder if I’ll be good enough to spend eternity wherever God is.--Elisa

The Feather Boomerang...

My mom used to tell me that if I found a white feather it meant an angel was around, looking out for me. I didn’t believe her, even if it was a neat idea. As the days have passed, I’ve sure wished an angel could be here, with me as I fight cancer...

I lifted my violin from its case. “I’m gonna play some oldies. That’s what I heard you like.” I snapped my shoulder rest into place and tightened my bow. “Mrs. Beck,” I said, because I’m super direct, “you keep calling me kid, but you said I’m older than you expected.” “Anyone under fifty is a kid to me. And they keep bringing preteens over to see me—like they’re doing a good deed or something. Why are you here anyway, Elisa? Why did you come?” 

I thought for a minute. “I guess I just want to make you forget whatever it is you’re going through, even if it’s just for a minute. Focus on something else and enjoy.” I set my violin on my shoulder. “So, I have a favor to ask you. Set down your cigarette and close your eyes.” She kinda snort-laughed, set her ciggy down, then snuggled into that huge white pillow before closing her eyes. “Now, as I play, I want you to picture a story.” And I started. First, I played the beginning of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. The music started out quiet—a trickle of spring rain. I sang the song’s words in my head as I played, causing a whirlwind of emotion to burst from my violin. And Mrs. Beck must’ve felt it because little tears seeped from the sides of her eyes. She glowed, so utterly beautiful, like an elderly Snow White or something’ with her sheared, dyed-black hair and leathery face. But instead of lying there, waiting for the kiss of her prince, she was dying. Waiting for the kiss of God. Tears heated my eyes too, and I told myself to quit being such a freakin’ pansy. I shut my lids. Instead of letting my emotion escape through the weakness in my eyes, I pushed that pain into my arms, my hands, my fingertips. And I played that violin, like a flippin’ lover. It cried in my arms, wailing over the melodies and having so much power it reacted to the sheer feeling flooding my body. I knew Mrs. Beck and her daughter could feel the sorrow buried deep in my soul—my sorrow for them. That violin was a magnifying glass, exemplifying exactly why I was there, who I was, and that I wanted to offer at least some semblance of tranquility. Then my bow grew with deep friction and strength, and I transitioned into notes and melodies that just came to me. My fingers and violin took over. That’s the funny thing about me and my fiddle; I think I have control, then that thing takes over like an addiction. I have the road map, but my fiddle has the details that always take me there—a good friend, leading me home. The song swelled, over and over. At one point, a gust of wind rode in through the open window on a high note. Right after that, my fingers and bow slowed to a stop. The notes descended to my D-string, and the weight of the music left my body. The song was over.

I held my violin at my side, that extension of self, then faced the window and closed my eyes. I didn’t want Mrs. Beck or her daughter to see me cry. I even prayed the wind would come again, and God would dry my tears. The Becks were sad enough. They didn’t need to see some kid—over thirty—crying because she “felt bad.” “Elisa,” Mrs. Beck rasped. She beckoned me to the side of her bed. I wiped my eyes, then obeyed. She reached out her wrinkled hand, with that soft, paper-thin skin, and grabbed my fingers. “That, Elisa, that was beautiful.”

“What did you see,” I asked, “when you closed your eyes?”

 “Something from when I was a kid. Something I thought I forgot. My mom, dad, and I were walking in a field.” She took a very deep breath. “I miss them. They were good parents.” I had to twitch my nose just to keep from bawling even more. After all, she’d probably be reuniting with a lot of people soon. I put my violin away, then hugged Mrs. Beck and her daughter. “It was nice meeting both of you,” I said. I left the house and never saw either of them again.

Even before Elisa had learned of her diagnosis of cancer and her subsequent writing of her latest book, Two More Years, she had been providing support for those in need, in one way or another. In the right column of my blog, scroll down to do a search for Stilson's books already reviewed... Search on EC Stilson.

This latest book, however,  was a true God Incident for me... Elisa calls them breadcrumbs. Immediately, you know, like Gretel left breadcrumbs so they could find their way home, I pictured breadcrumbs being dropped from Heaven to show Elisa the way home, some day... Frankly, her book oozes with dreams or encounters in which Elisa was involved that, to me, resulted in Zap!, Zap!, Zap! and more Zaps... It seemed everything she has been dealing with during the period after which she was diagnosed with State 4, Melanoma, she has been surrounded by God or his angels, human and heavenly! Of course, for those of us who have been connected for a while with her, we recognize just how she draws people out just by being...Elisa! And even though she had gone through many trials, including the loss of Zeke, her son, she, was, for the most part, wondering whether she was still...worthy... of even spending eternity with God... 

During this last book, her best, in my opinion, she has many of her earlier experiences brought to mind, as she is dealing with her pain, or the latest test, or scan of her body. One is described so realistically, that I felt myself pulling in my own body in empathetic screams of fear of what was being done... 

You see, no matter what is the truth, Elisa has decided to share as much as she can so that others may be at least prepared for what they might one day have to deal with, with cancer... And, to remind us that, if Elisa can do it, so can we...But it takes God's help to walk in her slippers... Because, it is clear that God is using this Girl God Incident, to speak to me...and to, possibly, millions of people across the world... I consider this a Must-Read, not just because of learning about the reality of melanoma, but for all of the other issues, beyond medically involved, that readers will find while meandering along with Elisa as she writes about this or that...or more on that... The book is divided into chapters; however, the narrative many times feels like an insert into a journal, a diary... The openness, the intimacy of her inner thoughts are revealed in such a way that, by the end of this and other books, we may feel like we know her! And indeed, she shares about at least one individual who came up to her and cried out, "Elisa," as if she was a long-lost friend... who Elisa could not remember... Only to discover that the individual and she had indeed never met... THAT'S how Elisa becomes to each of us who reads her words--her desires, her fears, her joys, her love, her...everything... It's laid bare because SHE is part of a plan that God has for her...and readers are privy to her wanderings and wonderings as she follows where He leads...

I was lost at the picnic. Droves of people weaved past, making me feel minuscule—insignificant. Then I saw her. The woman wore short brownish-auburn hair, a checkered apron, and the cutest smile ever. She parted the crowd easier than Moses parted the Red Sea, and I giggled when I spotted her! My grandma—that tricky possum—ran toward me and clutched my hand. “You don’t need to be scared of them,” she said, motioning to the crowd, “or of the future. It’s all been figured out.” 
And as soon as I saw her, I wasn’t scared at all because, well, I wasn’t quite so lost anymore. My grandma died over a decade ago, and we had so much to catch up on. I wanted to tell her all about my kids and our lives. Relay to her how hard it’s been being sick, hurting so much, and watching everyone else worry and cry. I wanted to tell her that the thought of an early death is daunting because I don’t feel like it’s time to go. 
As if she heard my quietest thoughts, she peered into my eyes with so much love, and whispered, “Now, you’re gonna come here much earlier than you’d want to. But don’t be scared, Elisa. I get to be the one to show you around and help you get used to things. That’s why I’m here, to tell you I’m waiting. Don’t be scared. I’m here waiting to help you.” I glanced at her apron again—something she’d always worn during her life—and with that vision slowly fading, I woke up.

Now many might think that the dream was just a work of the subconscious mind, trying to deal with what might happen in the future... But, did you ever hear about getting a confirmation? Well, Elisa tells about receiving a package of goodies from one of her relatives...and in it, surprisingly perhaps, was an apron... Me, I call that a true God Incident... Signed, Sealed and Delivered! Cool, right?!

But there is much to ponder and consider as your life takes a unplanned for path... 

“I’m scared. I’m so dehydrated and sick. I feel feverish. If things don’t get better fast, I’ll need to go to the ER.” Mike brought me some food and a drink. I tried to eat slowly, but despite anti nausea medications, my stomach already churned. “Mike,” I said, “can you please pray for me?” Mike doesn’t pray. But he did then—and it meant the world to me. 

After falling asleep, I rested in the fetal position in God’s massive hand. I couldn’t see anything other than His hand and the sky which He lifted me into. And even though I didn’t have a blanket, it felt so warm and perfect. This strange energy flowed through every bit of me, simply filling me with resilience. Even in the dream, a strange thought came to me: that someday I’d be in remission. This sounds crazy because all the doctors have said I have an incurable mutation of melanoma. Even if radiation and the new immunotherapy do work, they will only extend my life, not save it. Yet, there was this feeling... and an unimaginably beautiful dream. That morning, I woke up stunned that I’d kept the food down. I sat at the kitchen table with Grandma Dee, who was visiting from Missouri, and Trey. I couldn’t shake the feeling of lying in God’s strong hand. “Look,” Trey said, pointing out the back window. Dee and I turned to see a huge hawk, perched on a branch about fifteen feet away, just staring at us. After it flew away, I tried drinking more water. Amazingly, it stayed down. I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but that dream and its premonition have buoyed me through radiation this week. What do I have to lose anyway?
Worth case, I’ll be let down; best case, I’ll see a miracle. Regardless of what happens, I’m thankful to have a renewed faith in the future. 

*** “Grandma,” I said to my Grandma Stilson when I was in elementary school, “I keep going to church to get saved over and over.” My grandma was a different religion than me, and she didn’t fully understand what I tried to convey. “Wasn’t once enough?” she asked.
“Maybe,” I said. “But maybe not. I might just be bad, and that’s why God is doing this to me. When I close my eyes, I can’t make the words stop. I keep seeing stories in my head. I pray that God will save me and stop the words. He’s punishing me for when I’ve been bad. That’s why He’s making me see the words.” 
She laughed so hard before trying to clarify. “Seeing the words?” “On a keyboard,” I said. “Someone’s typing them.” It was always the same. I’d see these crazy hands typing more and more. A stupid red mug—with swirly paint— sat by the keys which never stopped clicking. 
“Maybe it’s you,” Grandma Stilson said. “Maybe you’re meant to be a writer.” It was my turn to laugh. “No. God is doing this ‘cause I’m bad.” Then something hit me. “If I am meant to be a writer, there’s just one thing I’ll need.” “What’s that?” “Someone who’s really good. I’ll need that person to teach me.” 
My grandma died a little while after that. She’s the only grandma I’d known. Whenever I wanted to give up on anything, she would be there, wearing her beloved checkered apron, and cheering me on. After she passed, sometimes I found it hard to keep believing in myself as a writer. I think that’s why my grandma had to send me an angel. 
Many years passed after my grandma’s death. I picked up writing again and even hired an editor to perfect my fantasy novel. But after I sent her the payment in full, the editor pulled out of the project. “Unfortunately, the payment was over a $1,000 worth of dresses I sewed for her daughter,” I told a friend on the phone. “Reselling them would be a nightmare. It’s just such a specific size. Plus, her daughter looks so happy in the pictures. So, I just let the lady keep them. I guess they’re going through some hard times.”
“Oh, wow.” 
“Yeah, but what am I supposed to do now? There’s no way I can pay someone else.” After a small pause, the woman said with a hint of excitement, “I’ll help you!” At the time I had no idea who this woman really was... (but she became soooo important!)

One of the intriguing things about Elisa is that she acknowledges a strong belief in God...but is still searching, even within the time period of the book, into different religions, since she was still not sure about Jesus...

Can't say that I blame her...Elisa, and many other young people are being turned away from Christianity in today's world. Many consider those who claim to be Christians to be hypocritical or, worse, extremely fanatic and domineering. In another book, and which is also mentioned in her latest, is the story of when Elisa first left home...after being put through what they called an exorcism by her church. Why? Because she had had sex. Today, we see things even worse, as we hear of, for example, of a ten-year-old girl in Ohio being raped through incest, and who, was forced to go out of state to get an abortion due to the ridiculously extreme laws that are being implemented by the republican party... 

It appears to me that it is not God guiding these actions--rather it was a desire to regain power over women's bodies after having had women gain free access and attention to a comprehensive medical review related to all aspects of women's reproduction concerns which should always be something discussed between the female and the doctor! Just like that--for many those rights have gone!

Rape and Incest are, literally, rampant, at the same time that there is little if any, guidance given for teens related to sexual activity by the church. Can you imagine, after, perhaps, agreeing to sex, or having a date rape drug given to you, or, even, an incest act forced on a child by a relative, that a church would choose to have an exorcism...or, without regard to the female, be forced to have a child who has gone through date-rape or incest-rape. [Note that Elisa did become pregnant, but made her own decision to carry the child...] Hypocritical? Yes, of course! For it is men of all ages and relationships who have initiated that forced intimacy... or, just as bad, made teens of both sexes, to feel so much guilt that they were afraid of parental or religious condemnation. So fearful, that they act either to escape--to run away--or to hurt themselves thinking they have no options in any given situation.

I have to add, because both are so entwined these days... At the same time, consider the irony of this being called by Christians, Pro-Life... While NOT being willing to ban assault rifles to stop the murder of children of all ages, as they live, go to school, to church, shopping... No way around it...the logic of the republican party and the Supreme Court related to PRO-LIFE  IS NON-EXISTENT! No wonder we are ALL confused with what is going on in America...

Except in placing power within hands where it does not belong!

 It is quite easy to see how Elisa has grown to be leery about anything she might do or want to do. For, like many, she has not been able to find support from where it should be freely given. Based upon those early years, we see Elisa moving from depression into joy often... The key point is that, she has self-taught herself that she, by now, even as she fears for her life, can and should consider just exactly what she must do related to each situation. And, most of all, she has come to know and accept as her primary determinant, that she will do what is best for those she loves most--her husband, her children...

Yet, when she learns that her tumors are spreading, or they are
growing larger, she, just like the rest of us, becomes so scared, even to the point that the pain of the tests themselves, makes her hesitate. Can she continue to put herself through the torturous processes through which she must go to allow a certain part of her body be approached--without damaging another part....

And, each time, readers see her weighing
 Face Cage worn during radiation

options, seeking help or support, even to writing to monks in South America, for prayer... and, once again, allowing herself to go through the pain with the thought of ensuring her family be together for however much longer is possible!

Elisa somewhere took a test to know her greatest strength. It came out Positivity. She was disappointed! While I, nearly twice her age, was thinking that is the best strength anybody could have! To be able, even when feeling depressed or sad, to somehow find your way out of the darkness...and back into the light! Many of us find it hard to move back into the light... But then again, we also don't have a desire to...go through an airport playing her fiddle!

Or when we are in the hospital, seek out others who may need whatever we can give...

When things had totally quieted down and the door shut, the third woman spoke. I leaned forward, grasping onto every word, but she was so terribly hard to understand. “You asked,” she lisped, “what I’ve learned. I haven’t really learned, but it’s been confirmed that life isn’t fair.” 

“You got that right!” She continued to explain that the cancer started in her tongue, and she had to have some of it removed. I blinked back the heat in my eyes because I suddenly knew why she’d been so scared to talk in front of the others. “They’re doing radiation on my neck now.” She spoke slowly. “The cancer... has spread.” “I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. I thought I’d been on one helluva journey!”

“But you don’t look like there’s anything even wrong with you!” A male tech came and called my name. At that point I struggled to stand, and my back had been pulled so badly that I hunched over and tried to walk straight. The woman gasped, surprised at how I walked. “Talking with you was the best part of my day,” I said. “I’m Elisa.” “Sarah,” she said, placing her hand on her chest. 

The gong resounded. Another person had finished infusions. Dozens of people clapped despite the IVs in their arms, and I was sure most of us smiled under our masks. But I wondered if anyone else felt the same way I did. I might never get to hit the gong. I might never be done with stupid infusions. I might never... get... better. I wanted to pick up the mallet and go hit it hundreds of times just to say I have. But I’m not a two-year-old, so I didn’t. I also kept myself from saying any of this out loud. My mother-in-law sat beside me as medicine dripped directly into my veins. And we really were having having the best time playing cards, visiting, and laughing. I didn’t need to mar that with a sob story. A woman near us spoke to a nurse, her words drifting through the partition that separated us. 

“He’s awfully sad. He needs to do this.” My ears perked with interest. Who was sad? Who needed to do what? Then, a man’s voice began singing songs from my childhood—spiritual songs that are hard to forget. And as he quietly sang “How Great Thou Art,”

I wanted to sing with him, this faceless man who sat in another cubicle, and the desire mounted stronger than almost anything in the world. But it seemed embarrassing to sing in front of my mother-in-law and more than fifty other people in the room. Sure, they couldn’t see my face, but they would hear me. “I’ll be right back,” my mother-in-law said as if discerning my thoughts, and when she walked away the man started singing one of my favorite songs in the whole world. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

I held my mouth shut. I’m not even religious anymore. I go to church, and I love God with all my heart, but I don’t believe most of the things they teach. And yet, I could not control myself. I breathed deeply. I didn’t need to sing with this poor man. Why was the desire overpowering? “Holy,” my voice joined his. “Holy.” The harmony floated atop his deep baritone—matching perfectly in thirds. He must’ve heard me because his voice swelled with strength. He’d been shaky and scared at one point, but now his song grew strong and majestic.

“Almighty God,” the words just flowed. And as we got louder everyone in the room quieted and simply listened to a moment that will always resonate within my soul. We sang several verses and as much as it had grown, it finally came to a quiet, beautiful close. 

When we finished, a woman whispered, “Did you... did you... hear that voice singing with you?” “You heard it too?” the man asked, dumbfounded. And even though we’re not supposed to bother other patients, I grabbed my IV stand, stood from my chair, and peeked over my cubicle. “It was me,” I said, almost giggling. 

A stunning girl of about twenty stared at me with the widest eyes. Her dark skin glowed, and she beamed under her mask. “That was amazing you started singing too. I can’t believe you knew the words.” “Thanks for letting me join in. Hang in there, you two. This isn’t easy.” And although I couldn’t see the man from my angle, I sat down as my mother-in-law returned to the room.

“I sang with him!” I gushed. “It was awesome!” My mother-in-law laughed. She’s the sweetest woman, so full of love even though I’m the most random person ever. The singer and his guest must’ve left soon after because a couple of the nurses came over to me and said, “That man was so sad and scared. His daughter said singing always makes him feel better. And what you both did. Well, that is one of the neatest things we’ve had happen in the infusion room.”

“I couldn’t help myself. But next time, you guys need to join in!” “I really wanted to, but I didn’t know the words. And then I realized, nobody wants to hear me sing,” one of the nurses said, laughing. “Oh, but I do! So, get ready for it. I’ll be back in three weeks. While all of you are singing, I get to play the gong!” I could just see myself going crazy with the gong while everyone sang. It’s probably my favorite memory so far from this crappy cancer business: the time I got to sing with a perfect stranger who found some unexpected strength right there in the infusion unit. I still can’t believe they momentarily thought I was a real, live angel!

She got a mischievous grin. “Well, I’m not the one who painted it, but I know who did. And those notes on there... well, they might actually be a real song. Maybe you should try playing it.” So, that afternoon Mike and I pulled out my violin and asked the kids if they could video us as I tried deciphering the notes from the rock. Mike had to hold it on his lap, since it’s so heavy. But he said he’d rotate it slowly as I finished each section. Indy began recording as Trey sat and watched. The notes came out tranquilly tranquilly at first. I had no idea what the song might be until we reached the third measure. After that, the melody swelled inside of my chest, and the meaning behind the words shot through my heart and my fingers. I could hardly believe what song the artist had chosen: “You Raise Me Up.” The words empowered me as my bows skillfully danced across the strings. I thought of standing strong and braving stormy seas. My violin rose to new registers as I willed myself to “be more” and totally trust in God’s will...

Everyone wants to die well, valiantly, in a way that will make our loved ones proud. I didn’t want to be a sniveling person begging to end the pain or crying out for more life. At the Yom Kippur meeting, they talked about forgiving ourselves and others, about releasing ourselves from vows we’d felt forced to make, or vows we made but could no longer keep. I remembered my New Year’s resolution for 2020. “I vow to become as refined as possible,” I’d said quietly to myself. More than a year of hell later, refinement didn’t sound quite as romantic. That’s a vow I’d like to forget. 

When I returned to the synagogue for the second Yom Kippur meeting the next day, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew one thing: It was time to let go of refinement and unattainable goals of perfection.

“God,” I prayed during one of the songs, “I get it now. We were never made to be perfect. I might as well be chasing rainbows, trying to reach my self-imposed goals. Can you please just love me, always, as I am? I make more mistakes than anyone I know, but I love you with everything. Please be with me in life and when I die too. I feel ridiculous asking for you to heal me, but please have your will in my life.”

About this time, I felt thoughts and words coming into my mind... God Incident Walking Through Me Now, selecting music and more...  

I exhaled, feeling oddly lighter than I had in years. And when I opened my eyes, a strange light shone through the synagogue windows. “Kadosh. Kadosh. Kadosh. The whole world is filled with your glory.” The music seemed more ancient than time, forged by generations of people who unflinchingly revere God. 

Given the power of the music and the place itself, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that when I looked down, something surreal unfolded: The sun shot through the glowing stained glass and highlighted specific words on the program I held. I read the accentuated words. “We are filled with your strength. The strength to bear our afflictions. Add your strength to ours, oh God. So that when death casts its shadow we shall yet be able to say: ‘Oh Source of Blessing. You are with us in death as in life.’ 

Those words. I can’t tell you the power of the words “in death as in life.” I knew then God would never abandon me. 

A powerful musician stood in front of the congregation and blew the shofar horn with such beautiful resonance that it stunned me. The blast lasted much longer than I’d expected, then went up a fifth and continued until it vibrated me to the core. I cried right there, my program still illuminated as I shook, my burdens lifted, and my heart full. Before the “break the fast” celebration, I managed to catch a couple of pictures of my program before the lighting changed too much. The whole world really is filled with His glory.

Dear Friend, My Elisa,

How are you? I just had to send a note to tell you how much I care about you. 

I saw you yesterday as you were talking with your friends. I waited all day hoping you would want to talk with me too. I gave you a sunset to close your day and a cool breeze to rest you--and I waited. You never came. It hurt me--but I still love you because I am your friend.

I saw you sleeping last night and longed to touch your brow so I spilled moonlight upon your face. Again I waited, wanting to rush down so we could talk. I have so many gifts for you. You awoke and rushed off to other things. My tears were in the rain.

If you would only listen to me! I love you! I try to tell you in blue skies and in the quiet green grass! I try to whisper it in leaves on the trees and breathe it in colors of flowers, shout it to you in mountain streams, give the birds love songs to sing. And brought other, stronger, birds outside your window, to tell I'm here to protect you. I clothe you with warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature scents. My love for you is deeper than the ocean and bigger than the biggest need in your heart!

Ask me! Talk with me! Please don't forget me...You knew me long before that false prophet came into your life, who used my name to exorcise something that was not my will for him to do... I still love you and have so much to share with you! Wipe those memories from your mind as I now speak to you alone... I need no other to speak for me, other than what I have placed in your heart--My Holy Spirit... My words will guide you each day if you will open your ears to hear my words... I do love you... I died for you... That ensures that you will be with Us Always...Yes, for Eternity...just as you long for...

I won't hassle you any further. It is YOUR decision. I have chosen you and I will wait-- I love you. I really am in no hurry... I am the Holy Trinity--God, the Father, Yeshua the Son. and I will give you His Spirit's gifts to dwell inside of you... Whenever you are ready... And you will never feel alone again. Or Wonder if You Will Abide in me Always... Because, I AM... And I Love You Elisa, Child of My Heart!

Your Friend

*Adapted from The Letter