Thursday, March 31, 2016

The festivals of Leviticus

Leviticus is the third book of the Bible which has the purpose as a handbook for the priests. An outline for their duties for worship, offerings, festivals and a guidebook of holy living for all Hebrews. While the majority of Leviticus are rules and their consequences, I want to write about the festivals, the reasons for their celebration and its importance. The book of Leviticus establishes the holy days of the Hebrew calendar. The festivals are held from spring to fall. I’ve grouped the six festivals into three categories of celebration for: deliverance, God’s providence, and restored fellowship and commitment.

The festivals celebrated as remembrance of God’s deliverance are Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover is commemoration of the final plague against Egypt (Exodus 11-12). Passover, or Pasach, is a reminder of God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt. Leviticus 23:5 says that the Feast of Passover will begin “at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.” The first month of the Hebrew calendar is Nisan and on the fifteenth day of Nisan, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-8) which the Hebrews were required to eat unleavened bread for seven days. The unleavened bread is a reminder of the hurried exodus from Egypt. The people did not have time to allow the bread to rise and they had eat the unrisen bread. The festival serves as a reminder of leaving behind the old ways and entering a new life. Today, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is lumped together with Passover as a weeklong observance in the spring.

The festivals celebrated as a celebration for God’s providence are the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Firstfruits is a celebration as reminders that God provides. Leviticus 23:9-14 specifies that on this day, the day following the first day of Unleavened Bread, a sheaf of barley was waved before the Lord to hard the start of the harvest season and leading to Shavuot. The Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, is a celebration of joy and thanksgiving over a bountiful harvest. This feast is observed on the sixth day of Sivan (May-June) which occurs exactly seven weeks after Passover. Leviticus 23:15-22 details the Hebrews instructions for this feast. In verse 22, they are instructed to keep the edges of their fields unharvested so that the poor and the alien (the stranger) can be provided for as well. The Feast of Trumpets, Yom Teruah, is the expressing of joy and thanksgiving to God. It is a “day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts” (Leviticus 23:24). On the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei, the Hebrews were required to do no regular work and present an offering to the Lord (Leviticus 23:25). This day is also known as Rosh Hashanah, The Days of Awe (Leviticus 23:23-32). 

The festivals celebrated as restored fellowship with God and commitment to His covenant are Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is celebrated as the removal of sin from the people and the nation. It is s celebration of restored fellowship with God. Day of Atonement is the holiest day of year for the Hebrews. On the tenth day of Tishrei, the Hebrews were required to “hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire” (Leviticus 23:27). The Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot, is celebrated for God’s protection and guidance in the desert and renews the people’s commitment to God, His covenant and trust in His further guidance and protection (Leviticus 23:33-43). The fifteenth day of Tishrei begins the Feast of Tabernacles with a day of sacred assembly followed by seven days of offerings to the Lord made by fire and on the eighth day, a sacred assembly to close out the feast (Leviticus 23:35-36). The Hebrews were required to do no regular work.

I’ve written about these festivals very simply and I wanted to focus on why they are celebrated and not just how or when they are celebrated. The Hebrews were given these festivals, days to commemorate what God has done for them. He delivered them from Egypt, from slavery. He provided food on their journey through the desert. He restored fellowship and commitment to His chosen people. He accepted atonements for their sins and guided them to live a holy life. Even through the manner of these festivals have changed, what has not changed is that they are still being celebrated. The God of the Hebrews is the God of today. He is still here, delivering us, providing for us, and guiding us. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Secret Key of Mim: an exciting sequel with Charlie Kadabra

Secret Key of Mim by Nam McAdam is the second book in the Charlie Kadabra Last of the Magicians series. I read the first book in the series and enjoyed it. I was invited to read the second book and I accepted.

The story opens as Charlie is riding his trusted dragon along with his companion Fen. He senses something is wrong in the land of Mim. He discovers that his parents’ cottage is on fire and they’re gone! He finds a letter from his dad instructing him to seek out Atticus McBain. Charlie finds out that people are being kidnapped all over Mim. He learns that the Dark Elves were locked away in the Netherworld by a magical key. He must find it and keep it safe so the evil forces cannot release the Dark Elves again. Can Charlie find the key in time? Will he find out who is behind this evil plan? Will he be able to save those kidnapped?

Secret Key of Mim is a great continuation of the adventures in the first book, Saving Mim. Along his journey, Charlie meets all sorts of creatures, trolls, yetis and sasquatches. The story is fun and engaging which takes the reader on a magical adventure in the land of Mim. The lesson of not to judge others by their appearance as Charlie must learn that who he can trust may not look like they can be trusted. I highly recommend this book for a family or classroom library.

Secret Key of Mim
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $10.99
on the Kindle for $2.99

or free on KindleUnlimited

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Jesus has risen!!! Hallelujah! Now we have a choice

Easter Sunday! He has risen! The Tomb is empty!! Hallelujah! Now comes a choice. What you will do with this man, Jesus? As Pilate asked at his trial, it is a question we must all ask ourselves. Jesus offers the gift of salvation. Eternal life. I’m not here to split hairs over doctrine or technicality. I’m not going to make a list of rules you have follow. Man has muddled the message of Jesus for far too long. Pure simple. Jesus came. He died for our sins and rose on the third day. He conquered sin and death. And we have a choice.

The first choice: you reject him. You can chose to walk down the wide gate or the wide road. You can build the foundation for your salvation on sand. Only the wide gate, the wide road and building on sand can only lead to destruction (Matthew 7:13, Matthew 6:26). You may reject him out of fear. The world has been harsh to Jesus, his message and Christians especially in today’s world. Jesus says that in this world you will have trouble, pain, problems, some you didn’t even create and some that you did. But Jesus offers a solution. Jesus isn’t in some distant galaxy. He is right there with you, waiting. “He is the Son of Man who came to serve and to give his life as ransom for you” (Lucado, 1992). You may reject him out shame because the things you have done and the person you have become. If pride is what goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), then shame is what keeps you down. Jesus can help you get back up again.

You may reject him because you think you are unworthy of Jesus’ gift. You are no one special to be called by God to follow Christ. I say that you are. God has not made you unworthy of His love or His offer of salvation. You have. Jesus gave up the crown of heaven for a crown of thorns for you. (Lucado, 2000). God has done everything to make himself known. It’s you who says “I’m not good enough” or “only if I do this or that, I’ll be ready.” God is one to take the common and make it spectacular. Think of David, a simple shepherd boy become one of the greatest kings of Israel. Think of Mary, a simple girl who was asked to do something extraordinary. While you may not be called to be as a great as David or be asked to do something as extraordinary as Mary but you are worthy of God’s call.

The second choice: you accept him. You can chose to follow Jesus. You can chose to walk down the narrow road, walk through the narrow gate. You can build the foundation of your salvation on solid rock. For the narrow gate, the narrow road and a foundation of rock will lead to eternal life (Matthew 7:14, Matthew 6:24). You recognize that you need Jesus and his gift of salvation. That you cannot receive eternal life in heaven without him. His perfect gift of salvation, of eternal life. As James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Life does not get any easier as a follower of Christ; however, we have someone who can help us through the hard life. When it seems that the world has turned against you, all of heaven turns towards you. When life gets too tough, think of heaven. Think of home. Think of Jesus.

When Jesus died on the cross, so did our sins. When he rose on the third day, so did our hope. The grave become temporary. For those who accept Jesus and his gift of salvation, death no longer has any power. God said “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). There is no depths that Jesus can’t reach you. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He will never change His mind. Once you have accept His gift of salvation, your name will forever be written in the book of life (Luke 10:20, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 20:11-15). With Christ, we are never alone in our struggles.

The Sinner’s Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.
I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.
I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life.
I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.

And the Angels were Silent Max Lucado (1992)

He Chose the Nails Maz Lucado (2000)

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday: the ultimate sacrifice for all of us

Today is Good Friday. The day that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Just five days before, Jesus entered Jerusalem with praise and fanfare. The crowds laid palm branches on the road in front of him as he rode into the city on a donkey. He would spend his last days teaching, giving his disciples last minute instructions and preparations for his coming death. He came to take the sins of the world. Many people Christ’s victory over sin and death came with his death and resurrection. I see that it happened before in a place called the Garden of Gethsemane.

Thursday night, midnight, Jesus knows the end is coming. He comes to the garden to pray as he struggles with the next hours will bring. He prays for deliverance. He begs his Father for a way out. He begs for another way to accomplish his mission. But he knew there wasn’t any way. He prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [the disciples] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21 NIV). You and I are a part of this prayer. His final prayer is for us. He saw us in a life that is not fair with pain and struggles that we did not ask for. He did not want to leave us. It was in the garden that the battle was won. It was once Jesus received the gentle but firm “No” from his Father. He decided to fight no more. “For it was in the garden that he made his decision. He would rather go to hell for you than go to heaven without you" (Lucado, 1992).

Once he left the garden, Jesus would be faced with the ultimate betrayal. A kiss from a friend. Betrayal. When your world turns against you. Jesus is led away and first given over to Caiaphas, a high priest, who accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:57-67, Mark 14:53-65, Luke 22:54, 63-65, John 18:24). A crime punishable by death (Leviticus 24:16). Then he is brought before the Council of Religious Leaders who sentenced him to death (Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 15:1, Luke 22:66-71). Finally he appears before Pilate, the Roman governor, who can find no fault with Jesus (Matthew 27:11-26, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-6, and John 18:28-38) but turns him over to be crucified to appease the crowd. He would be flogged, mocked, given a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns as the Roman soldiers spit on him, struck him with a staff and made to carry the cross to Golgotha “The Place of the Skulls.” Once on the cross, insults would be hurled at Jesus. He hung there until he died with a final cry “It is finished (John 19:30). Jesus who understands betrayal from those who are supposed to be trusted. He understands shame and pain. He understand all the human emotions and situations that we face every day because he faced them too. He suffered at the hands of the Romans and died on the cross for us so that our sins could be wiped away. He is the ultimate sacrificial lamb, innocent and chosen to die for others.

You ask yourself why? Why would Christ do that? Why would he die if he were innocent? The answer: for us. As quoted from Max Lucado above. He’d rather go to hell for us than go to heaven without us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He came to save us from our sins (John 3:17). The perfect song to illustrate this point is by the Christian group, Avalon. “We are the Reason” is usually played at Christmas but it speaks to the reason why Christ was born, lived and lived: for us. This song always brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. If I try to sing it, my tears choke me and I am overcome with the power of what Jesus has done for me, for all of us. The chorus says “We are the reason that he gave his life/We are the reason that he suffered and died/To a world that was lost/He gave all He could give/to show us the reason to live.”

As a Christian, I think of Jesus and what he has done for me often. And I am still amazed at the love that Christ has for me. This Friday, as we all prepare for Easter Sunday, gathering with family and friends, even some who are working, think of the importance of today. Think of one Friday, some 2,000 years ago as one man died on a cross. Think about one man agonizing in a garden and prayed for you. Think of the pain and humiliation that he suffered for you. Think of how a method of execution become a symbol of hope.

The last week of Jesus is told in
Matthew 21-27
Mark 11-15
Luke 19-23
John 12 -19

And the Angels were silent (1992) Max Lucado

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What was I thinking?: a fun book to teach children about their brains

What was I thinking? Volume 1: My Brainy Best Friend by Zac Lange is a engaging story which introduces children to the power and responsibility of their brains.

The story follows a young boy and his best friend: his brain. It helps him think, play, laugh, and read. Sometimes when the brain takes a rest, he make mistakes because he did not think before he acts. When the brain comes back from its rest and it realize the mistake he’s made. The boy with his brain create a special list about how to avoid making mistakes in the future. First, stop and think. Think of the consequences. Will he get in trouble? Second, could this hurt? Physical injury or broken items around the house. Third, could this get me in trouble? Is he allowed to do this activity?

What was I thinking? is a great book introducing kids to the power of their brains. It teaches them to use their brain in order to do the right thing. The illustrations are fun and engaging. I think that children will enjoy reading this story and will understand the lesson involved. My 4 year old daughter enjoyed listening to the story and even today still tells me that her brain is in the head. I recommend this book for any family or classroom library.

What was I thinking?
Volume 1: My Brainy Best Friend
is available on Amazon

in hardcover $22.95
and in paperback for $9.95 

Monday, March 21, 2016

My favorite ways to spend a lazy afternoon

It’s a lazy afternoon. What to do? What to do? Some people keep themselves so busy that they will never have an afternoon empty with nothing to do. I say every now and then, everyone needs am afternoon where they can just sit back and do nothing important and do something completely frivolous. I’ve come up with my top 5 ways I love to spend a lazy afternoon. 

#5: Movie Marathons Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc etc. A lazy afternoon or day for that matter, is a great time to have a movie marathon. Just sit back and go on a wild adventure. The Star Wars saga from Episode 1 to Episode VI is a total of 791 minutes, roughly 13 hours of space adventures. Plus when you add the new episodes coming out in the next few years…an entire day spent!!! Harry Potter films run roughly 19 hours and the Lord of the Rings with the extended versions can easily take an entire day!!!

#4: TV Marathons With my TV shows being released on DVD or entire seasons on Netflix, it’s easy to sit back and watch your favorite show non-stop. My favorite shows to watch are NCIS, Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Friends (can’t forget Friends!) and so many others.

#3: Board Games with the family Now that my daughter is old enough to play board games, my husband and I will sit down and play for a couple hours or more. My daughter really loves Monopoly right now. And yes, we have the adult version which she has picked up fairly easily. While she doesn’t understand the whole concept of the game, she enjoys moving her token around the board, buying property and collecting rents. She’ll change her token several times in the course of a game but she will sit and play and laugh as her dad is shocked when she wins!

#2: Writing Even though writing is sort of my job now, I see it as a way to past the time on lazy afternoons. I will write short stories, and catch up on future posts on my blog. I love to have weeks of posts ready to go.

And my #1 favorite way to spend a lazy afternoon….

#1: Reading Reading, of course!!! Curl up with a good book and lose hours in its pages. And it doesn’t have to be a new book. I’ve picked up old favorites and reread the fabulous stories.

With having a four year old, truly lazy afternoons don’t come often but when they do, these activities are my best way to spend the time. What are some of your favorite ways to spend a lazy afternoon? It really doesn’t matter what you do. As long as you enjoy it! So embrace those lazy afternoons! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

I Wonder: a book of poetry for the whole family

I wonder: A book for children, parents and other grownups by Jane Altman is book of poetry and a short story for children and adults.

Part 1 is for the children and it’s a series of poems which start with “I wonder…” and introduce a different animal. Bat, frog and alligator are among the many animals talked about in the poems. Each poem begins and ends with an “I wonder” statement. Then a short story about glowing stones. A boy and a girl leave their small village and pass a castle where they find a stone which glows in their favorite color. They pick up the stone and save it. Many years pass, the boy and girl grow up and have families of their own. After they have passed away, their families find a strange gray stone among their belongings and return it to the castle when the children see the glowing stones with the adults do not. Part 2 is for the parents and other grownups and is a series of poems along the same themes as part 1.

I wonder is a great book of poetry with simple rhymes that children will love. I enjoy poems and I love book which introduce poetry to children in a fun way. With beautiful illustrations, the poems and story come alive on the page. I recommend this book for any family and classroom library. It helps children enter the world of poetry in a fun and exciting way.

I wonder
is available on Amazon

in paperback for $10.95

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick: the stories behind the legends

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland along with Saint Brigit and Saint Columba. According to the Confession of Patrick, he was captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16 from his home in Great Britain. He became a slave in Ireland until he was able to escape and return home 6 years later. After becoming a cleric, he would return to Ireland. However, little is known about where he actually worked in Ireland, By the 7th century, Patrick would be revered as the patron saint and March 17th would be honored in his name.

The shamrock is one of the symbols associated with Patrick. It is the national plant of Ireland due to its association with Saint Patrick as well as it grows in abundance on the island, According to legend, Patrick taught the doctrine of the Holy Trinity with a shamrock. There is little evidence to indicate if the Irish Celts held the shamrock in high regard; however, many of the deities in their mythology were in threes. For instance, Brigit (or Brigid or Brig) is a goddess depicted as a triple deity. She is associated with the spring, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. The idea of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could have been an easy concept that the Irish Celts would understand.

Another legend linked to Saint Patrick is the banishment of all snakes from Ireland. According to legend, Patrick chased the snakes to the sea after they attacked him during a 40 day fast. The absence of snakes in Ireland have given rise to this legend; however, all evidence suggests that Ireland never had snakes. The simple answer is geography. Snakes can be found virtually everywhere on Earth except Ireland, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica. All these areas are surrounded by water. The theory is that no serpent has successfully migrated across the open ocean to these areas. Even when land bridges were created with the falling ocean levels, snakes would not have survived the Ice Age of Ireland. Why the legend? Snakes present evil in Judeo-Christian traditions as well as paganism. The image of Patrick banishing snakes from Ireland in a sense he banished evil and paganism from the Emerald Isle.

Saint Patrick has become synonymous with Ireland and the Irish heritage identity. That associations was brought to America with the Irish immigrants of the 19th century. Despite its religious origins, Saint Patrick’s Day is primarily celebrated as recognition of Irish and Irish Americans. For one day, everyone is Irish. The color green is seen everywhere. Chicago, Illinois dyes the Chicago River green every year. Pubs serve green ales and beers. McDonald’s often will promote their shamrock shakes during March in honor of the holiday. People wear green in order to avoid being pinched. I remember those days in school. Corned beef and cabbage is a popular dish to make in honor of Saint Patrick, although the dish is considered an American addition to the holiday.

To everyone, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Putter and the Red Car: a family's adventure cross coutnry

Putter and the Red Car by Kate K. Lund and illustrated by Ana Maria Velieu is the story of a family’s journey from Boston to Seattle. The story is told from the point of view of their dog, Putter, an Airedale terrier.

Dad has gotten a new job and the family must move from their home on the east coast to the west coast. Along the way, Putter describes the family’s activities at their various stops. First, Sturbridge. Massachusetts, then on to Pennsylvania, and Chicago to visit friends. Next to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. But unfortunately it’s raining, maybe next time. Next stop, Buffalo, Wyoming to explore a real teepee. One more stop until home, Missoula, Montana. Finally, Seatlle! Their new home. 6 days and 3,000 miles!!!

Putter and the Red Car is a fun story about a family’s move across country. To hear the story from the dog’s perspective is fun and unique. Kate Lund is a licensed clinical psychologist and wrote this book as the first in a series. Her goal is to teach and help children adapt to change as well as build resilience and recognize the power of different possibilities. I think she’s off to a good start. The journey is positive and builds excitement for the family’s new home with each stop. I highly recommend Putter and the Red Car for any family or classroom library.

Putter and the Red Car
is available on Amazon
in paperback for $12.95 and

on the Kindle for $2.99

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What do my favorite animals say about me?

I’ve always wondered why I was drawn to certain animals. So I decided to research what certain animals could represent. My top three animals are: cats, wolves and most recently owls. I’ve been a cat person since I was little. I always preferred cats as pets as opposed to other pets. I also have been drawn to wolves since I was in junior high/high school. Most recently, I have been drawn to owls. I was thinking why I could be drawn to these animals and not others. Is there something in my personality that I see in these animals? And what I found was quite shockingly true.

I’ve loved cats all my life ever since I got my firsts cat, Marshmallow, when I was 5 years old. Cats are well-liked and clever, albeit a bit aloof with high ideals. I am well-liked and I’m often told that I’m clever. I can totally see myself as aloof sometimes with standards and integrity which are usually beyond my years. They look to travel off the beaten path and try something new. Cats have little patience for old and outdated ideas. I’m usually good at trying new things, especially something I have never tried before. I also have little patience for traditions and rituals simply because “that’s the way it is.” I usually want to know why a tradition is carried out. Cats are strong, fearless, and take great joy in the right to be independent. I don’t know if I’m fearless but I do take care joy in being independent. In a recent study from Carrol University, “cat people” are more likely to be non-conformists, more sensitive and more intelligent.

I’ve loved wolves since high school and their connection to the Native American cultures. Wolves are seen as noble, self-aware and confident. Wolves represent value of close friends but an individual likes being on their own as well. I prefer to have a few close friends as well as being on my own. I actually look forward to times when I can be totally alone. I like activities that do not require multiple people like reading and writing. People look up to individuals represented by the wolf. These people are good at handling a lot of responsibility. It’s nice to picture people looking up to me and I am good at handling a lot of responsivity. I’ve been doing it since I was 12 years old. Wolves will accomplish tasks which interest them with intensity and determination. This is funny because I can read a book in a day if I wanted too but some tasks, like cleaning can take days if I put it off! They tend to have high standards. Wolf people can be described as “aloof” and “mysterious” but that is not necessarily the vibe the individual is trying to give off. Wolves also represent coolness and composure until someone messes with friends or family and then all bets are off.

In many cultures around the world, owls are seen as harbingers of death or messengers from the spirit world. The presence of an owl is often seen as a bad omen. Owls have always been a symbols of intelligence and wisdom to me. The Greek goddess Athena, the goddess of wisdom has the owl as her sacred symbol. Owls are viewed as highly intelligent individuals who are very sensitive and aware of their surroundings. They approach life from a pragmatic standpoint with perfectionist tendencies which propel them toward success. Owls can be seen dealing with things sensibly and realistically based on practical rather than theoretical consideration. Owls represent matter-of-fact and down to earth individuals. I see myself being very pragmatic. I tend to look at tasks and situation as realistically as possible and approach problems with practical solutions. I wouldn’t say I’m highly intelligent. There are some topics and subjects that I do not know but I am intelligent. I am often the cool head in tense situations and sometimes I do have a sense of panic but I can usually calm myself down in order to deal with the situation properly.

After researching these animals, I think my favorite animals represent me well. I like the cleverness of the cat, the composure of the wolf and the wisdom of the owl. A few people who knew are probably saying “I don’t think so” but I think those who really know me might be able to see these characteristics in me. I think if you were to look into why certain animals appeal to you, you might be surprised by what you find. You just might find that the animals you are drawn to reflect more of your personality than you realize. Check it out. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

My Irish Heritage in honor of Irish-American Heritage Month

March is Irish-American Heritage Month. The Irish immigrated to America in record numbers between the years of 1841-1860. Most Irish settled in New York and Massachusetts but many major cities across the country saw an increase in the Irish population. Most Irish faced great discrimination and stereotypes. The thought of the day was since the Irish were descendants of the Celts and not Anglo-Saxon, they were inferior. Many Irish-Americans have become presidents and other government officials as well as others who aren’t so famous but still helped build this great country. I have Irish ancestors through my paternal grandmother’s mother. I decided to explore those roots a little bit now that I have access to amazing databases as and It’s been an interesting journey which started out as a simple search and has opened up a whole new world of information.

Margaret Jane Robinson is my 2nd great grandmother. She was born on March 22, 1874 in County Cavan, Ireland to William and Mary Ann (nee Lamb) Robinson. County Cavan is located in the province of Ulster and part of the Border Region. In medieval times, the area was part of the kingdom of East Br√©ifne. The natural landscape of drumlin hills and loughs have the area a high degree of defense. The poorly drained clay soils also provided an obstacle for any invaders. Areas of Cavan were hit hard by the Great Famine potato blight (1845-49) with the winter of 1847 hit hard by typhus and cholera. The 19th century saw several mass evictions. To be evicted from your home was a death sentence. If you didn’t have a family member to take you in, your only other option was emigration. I found the record of Margaret entering the country in 1894. She could have been a part of these mass eviction which took place. The next record I can find of Margaret is the 1910 census as she has married my great great grandfather, Charles E. Burns. I don’t know the reason why she came to America or which family members came with her. I don’t how she ended married and living in Oakland, California. When her daughter, Lillian (my great grandmother) married, she would live with her in Klamath, Oregon where she would live out her days. Margaret died February 6, 1945 at the age of 70 due to hepatic cirrhosis.

Charles Edward Burns is my 2nd great grandfather. He was born on August 23, 1869 in Oakland, California to Thomas and Ellen (nee Clancey) Burns of Ireland. He was a musician and played the trombone. In the 1900 census, Charles was married to Elizabeth Burns with three sons: Charles, Frank, and Thomas, and living in New York. By the 1910 census, he is married to Margaret with two sons and two daughters and in living in Oakland. To imagine in 10 years, he would lose his wife, Elizabeth and a son. I presume that Elizabeth may have died after giving birth to their daughter, Elizabeth (born 1901). He would marry Margaret on April 27, 1908 and have a second daughter, Lillian (born 1909). Charles died on November 27, 1911 at the age of 42 due to endocarditis (inflammation of inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves). The son I have been able to find records of is Frank who died May 7, 1950 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I have not been able to find any record of what happened to Charles’s other sons, Charles and Thomas, or his daughter, Elizabeth. All three would disappear from the census records. What happened to Charles’ other three children? I can only guess between 1900 and 1910, his sons, Charles and Thomas, have died. By 1920, Elizabeth could have been married or she, too, could have died.

While searching on, I found my great grandparents, Joseph and Lillian Mingo’s grave sites, I discovered that they had a fourth daughter named Virginia Lee. Baby Virginia was born on February 28, 1943 and died on April 4, 1943 at the age of 1 month and 6 days. She died from an acute infectious meningitis as well as an unknown micro-organism nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). I have never heard about this sister. I always thought my great grandparents only had three daughters. I searched more into my great grandparents and I discovered that they were married on August 17, 1927. Their first child, my grandmother, was born seven years later in 1934. I was curious about the long time between marriage and first child. It seemed a long time for that era to wait so long. I asked my grandmother if she remembers if they talked about having problems having children. She told me that she remembers that they did. It also makes sense since there is a gap between the sisters. Their second daughter was born in 1938 and their third daughter in 1940 and lastly the baby in 1943. With this new information, I wonder if my fertility issues are contributed to by genetics, which makes sense because everything is genetically linked. I feel a strange bond with my great grandmother Lillian as she and I both share a struggle to have children. Even though I never met Lillian as she died seven years before my birth, I feel a stronger connection with her knowing that she felt the same pain of fertility issues as well as losing a baby so tragically.

Although I wasn’t able to find more concrete information about my ancestors’ lives in Ireland or their lives in America once they arrived here, this journey has been eye opening. Through demographic information, I can form an image of who these people were. Margaret left her home in Ireland and made her way to America where she would meet her husband and have a family. The marriage was a short one with Charles’ death after three years of marriage. A simple search about my Irish heritage has led to amazing discoveries. I would encourage everyone to looking into their family history. A great place to start is, a free site as well as which is a paid service although they do offer a 14-day free trial. I also recommend It is a site of gravesites about information about the person and family histories have been added. I have found so much information from this site alone. All you need is the person’s name and approximate birth and death years. You never know what you might discover when you all you have is simple information.

Links to get you started:


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Faithful: one woman's journey through infant loss and grief

Faithful even after losing a child is the personal story of author Christine Weisman and her husband Mac as the suffer the most devastating loss any parent must suffer. From being ignored by medical professionals to being rushed through emergency procedures and the aftermath of death and the questions that remain. Her own questions as well as the questions from family, friends and unaware strangers. 

Happily married couple, Christine and Mac are anticipating the arrival of their second child when tragedy strikes. She is rushed into an emergency C-section when it is discovered that their baby has a tumor growing in its head. Their son, Luke, was born on March 29, 2009 and passed away two days later. It would be later discovered the he developed a very rare cancer. Readers follow Christine and Mac as they fight for Luke’s life, make the heartbreaking decision to turn off life support, to planning his funeral and learning to live again.

As a parent who has lost two babies, I cried with Christine. I understand her devastation and her questions. At one point she writes, “Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Well, I’m sad to say that there is nothing given to you for hen your child passes away, either.” This statement is very true. Many parents are simply sent home with condolences but no resources to deal with these losses. I’m proud to say that is changing now as many parents refused to be silenced any longer by a taboo and are working to bring resources and help to other parents who need help through these losses. Many organizations are available to parents for support and information. I recommend Faithful even after losing a child as one woman’s story of heartache and faithfulness.

Faithful even after losing a child
is available on Amazon
hardcover for $25.99,
paperback for $9.73
and on the Kindle for $7.99

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Rented Silence: a harsh look into a growing problem in today's world

Rented Silence by Lucia Mann is the first book in the African Freedom series. It details the story of post-WWII Africa through the eyes of the innocent and the evil as the painful secrets of this dark time is revealed. From 1945 to recent past, Rented Silence speaks boldly about a growing problem.

The story is told in two parts. Part 1 opens in 1945, Anele, a 27 year old slave at the Hallworthy Manor, has been violated by her owner, the evil and malicious Lord Alan Hallworthy. One Christmas morning, she has had enough and she makes her escape. As she makes her way back home to the Tswanas Kraal, she discovers a newborn baby girl buried alive and gasping for air. She names her Shiya, the forsaken one. When she arrives at her village, the presence of a white child with a African woman causes an uproar which will soon in disaster. Anele and Shiya are separated and live their lives wondering what happened to the other? Shiya is renamed Lynette and is sent a path to silence. Part 2 opens in 1998 as Lynette has made a career of taking people out of brutal situations and bringing them to a life of safety. After she receives a devastating diagnosis, she reclaims her name and becomes Shiya again. She returns to her homeland for justice and revenge. She must share her secret past with her daughter as she tries to reclaim the life that was brutally taken from her.

Rented Silence is a hard book to read but eye-opening. It depicts the horrors in details that is heartbreaking and gut wrenching. The injustice that the characters endure at the hands of the powerful is indescribable. I can’t reveal too much of the story because it will give away major plot points. However, at the end of the book, the Ms. Mann includes a list of “55 ghastly, very sobbing yet little known facts about modern slavery/human tracking” and they are ghastly. To think of millions of adults and children who are sold into slavery through human tracking rings is heartbreaking. Ms. Mann’s goal in writing Rented Silence is to give a voice “to those who have suffered and are suffering brutalities and captivity.” She does an amazing job bringing a voice to the many suffering in silence. I highly recommend Rented Silence as an eye-opening story to a very real problem in today’s world.
Rented Silence is available on Amazon
in paperback for $17.95 and on Kindle for $9.95

For more information about human tracking, please visit:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stop! There are no big or little sins

Ever hear someone say “well my sin isn’t as big as his sin” or “my lawbreaking is a big as hers?” I have and I find it annoying that 1) people would compare. Sin is still sin and breaking the law is still breaking the law. Second, committing sin is different from breaking the law. There is a difference. Sin is an immoral act which is considered to be a transgression against divine law. Laws are man made system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior. While some laws are derived from divine law, there are differences how man and God see these crimes.

Misdemeanors are crimes which are punishable by a fine and/or confinement for up to a year. These crimes are considered less serious than felonies. There are three degrees of misdemeanors and are classified different state by state. First, Class A misdemeanors are punishable by confinement up to a year and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000. For example, possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrested. Second, Class B misdemeanors are punishable by confinement up to six months. Examples of a Class B can shoplifting and first offense DUI. Lastly, Class C misdemeanors are punishable by confinement up to 30 days or a fine. Examples of Class C are public intoxication and theft under $50. Violations are often lumped together with misdemeanors and are punishable by a fine only.

Felonies are more serious crimes punishable by death or imprisonment in a state or federal penitentiary for one year or more. There are four degrees of felonies. First, Capital offenses carry the maximum penalty of death. Examples are murder, espionage and treason. Second, a first degree felony has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Examples are arson, burglary and robbery. Third, a second degree felony has a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. Examples are assault with a dangerous weapon, aggravated battery and aggravated arson. Lastly, a third degree felony has a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment. Examples are embezzlement, theft, and fraud. There are some felonies which can be classified as a misdemeanor depending on the state and judge, these are known as wobblers.

Sin is disobedience to God. For example, the Ten Commandments are God’s laws about certain behaviors. Many of the laws in the Bible stem from these ten. In the eyes of God, sin is sin. There are no bigger sin or smaller sin. Murder and lying are equal to God and carry the same penalty: spiritual death. A just and perfect God could not just simply forget sins. He must deal with the injustice of sin, all sins. Sin is sin in God’s eyes despite being big or small in our eyes. God is holy and righteous that He cannot accept any sin regardless of how big or small it may be. In the Old Testament, the practice of a sacrificial lamb was established to cover the sins of the people. In the New Testament, Jesus came and fulfilled prophecy to be the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

In conclusion, the main difference between manmade laws and sin is after time served, the offender is usually free to go while sin carries an eternal punishment. What we really need to do is stop comparing. Don’t make yourself better because you only commit “little sins” or “little crimes.” It is little only in the eyes of man, not in the eyes of God. We need to take responsibility for our wrongdoings and admit that we do wrong. How many of you speed? All of us do but not all of us have gotten caught. Misdemeanors, felonies and sin are still wrongdoings. Even though misdemeanors and felonies have various degrees, sin does not. We all have fallen short of the glory of God and are redeem through Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-24) for those who willingly accept it.