Keep Calm and Carry On

That’s a mouthful at times. I have a friend who’s facing surgery with extensive recuperation, plus two dreadful diseases in her close family.

Keep calm, you say?

With another friend, we have an ongoing discussion about how people make it through suffering, sorrow, illness, and loss. Sometimes I think it’s a combination of this “carry on” attitude plus faith, of course, and a good dose of everyday concerns that keep us going.

 

On our recent trip, Lance ordered bangers and mash, also known as sausages and mash, a traditional British and Irish dish combining sausages and mashed potatoes. The flavored sausages may be pork, lamb, or beef (often specifically Cumberland sausage. The dish is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, or peas.

This dish, even when cooked at home, may be thought of as an example of pub grub, quick and easy to make in large quantities. I’ve read accounts of wartime children being sent to pick up the family’s order of this dish at a local restaurant, since both of their parents were working.

During World War II, I wonder if, in addition to seeking divine comfort, the necessary constant task of providing food for their families helped everyone make it through. Here in the states, women survived dire Depression-era poverty and went on to endure the wait for their loved ones to return from the second world war.

Maybe it’s no wonder that generation taught us to eat everything on our plates and placed high value on a good, solid meal followed by a lush dessert.

April Surprises

April fools came a couple of days late this year, and yes, I snapped a picture of these birdie prints just outside our door. Maybe a sparrow seeking sustenance between the cracks in our deck.

I consider myself fortunate. My husband shoulders the work snow brings. Early this morning, he was out creating walkable paths for the likes of moi.

 

Why so bundled up? Try seven degrees F.

He also takes amazing photographs of the flora and fauna around here–we used to comment that we’d know when we’re old when we started watching birds. Weeel…

A humble sparrow, fluffed against the cold. She thought she’d be building her nest and laying her eggs by now.

But April or no April, expectations or no expectations, iNature dumps a snowstorm when she pleases. These days prove perfect for researching.

As usual, I’ve been studying WWII history, and am so impressed by British citizens’ tenacity. They took hit after hit after hit, long before we Americans even entered the war. Entire towns leveled by the Luftwaffe…thousands of lives lost. Attacks foiled, with unbearable losses.

But those losses would mount far higher…the war had only begun, and words like unbearable would take on new levels of meaning.

Yet in the historical annals, photo after photo attests to ordinary British citizens’ pluck. It seemed that as suffering and challenges increased, so did people’s stamina, endurance, and proactivity: in a word, their pluck. 

We don’t use this word much any more, but pluckiness will get you through a lot. Yesterday I came across a picture of two women emerging from the rubble of their bombed out homes, each with a houseplant in her hands…and they both wore a smile. 

There’s a lot to be said for pluck…it’s fluffing out your feathers in the face of a storm. It’s picking up your shovel and starting in…or keeping on. It’s that indefatigable hope dwelling inside that keeps you going, no matter what.

The Calling of Ella McFarland

Now, there’s a title! Calling carries several connotations, and Ella’s cover photograph entices me, too. As the 2014 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel award, The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis, debuted on December 1, 2015.

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Linda set this romantic historical set in 1905 Indian Territory, when women were silenced in public and often stifled at home, when illiteracy ran rampant and women could not participate in their governance. As  compulsory education, woman’s suffrage, and temperance debates rage, Ella Jane McFarland pursues her dream: a teaching position at prestigious Worthington School for Girls.

But scandal clouds her family name and may limit her to grueling labor on her family’s Indian Territory farm. Her fate lies in the hands of the male Worthington board. Will they overlook the illegitimate son recently borne by her sister
Viola? Might handsome Mr. Evans help her reach her dream?

As hope of Oklahoma statehood rises and the citizens anticipate a new state constitution, Ella comes to the rescue of a young, abused sharecropper’s daughter. Forced to make decisions about her faith, family, and aspirations, her calling takes shape in ways she never imagined.

With a new love budding in her heart, can Ella find God’s will amid the tumultuous storm that surrounds her?

This family-and-faith story explores one woman’s devotion to a serendipitous calling, the transforming effect of unlikely friendship, and the healing power of love.

 LInda, I’m hooked! Please tell us why you wrote this book. 

My Indian Territory grandmother and Oklahoma mother lived lives rife with hardship, trial, and grief. Rather than weakening them, such experiences empowered them and strengthened their faith.

My grandmother Ella Jane—Mama to me—had a 3rd grade education. She never drove a car, but could handle a team of mules just fine. She never shopped for the latest fashion, but sewed up a dress in a day. She never considered the benefits of tile over wood laminate, but made a home in a corner of a barn. She swept the dirt floor. She never worked outside her home, except in a cotton patch, picking 100 pounds a day. Mama buried 2 husbands and 5 daughters but never lost her faith.

My mother progressed only to 9th grade, and accepted nothing less than a college education for her children. Nor would she depend on a man to do something she could do herself. Mother buried a son, tended an ailing husband for 10 grueling years, and battled the weather and creditors to save the family farm, yet never blamed God.

I consider my ancestors’ stories treasures of which I am a steward. Hence, The Calling of Ella McFarland. While not the actual life story of any family member, this debut novel is saturated in reality. The writing represents my love and high esteem for two strong matriarchs, and reflects my longing for my granddaughter–also named Ella Jane–to believe in herself as a daughter of the King of Heaven and to cast herself upon the mercies of God to hold her up, make her strong, and give her His purpose.

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Thanks so much, Linda–you’ve piqued my interest. Please make a note in your comment that you’re willing to write a review, and Linda will provide you an e-book.

Purchase links: http://bit.ly/1NqmYtF

Email: linda@lindabrooksdavis.com

Website: http://lindabrooksdavis.com

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