Pansies…for pondering

We associate flowers with spring, including the traditional Easter lily for this Sunday when our thoughts turn to resurrection. But in this blustery wintry storm in Northern Iowa, we need some cheery pansies.

The word pansy comes from mid 15th century French from the word penser, and  pensee is the feminine form, meaning to think or ponder over something. The French word pensee derives from the Latin word pensare which means to consider or pendare which means to take measure of a situation, to take everything into consideration.

I can’t help but think of those who went before us, who spent their holidays…often several years’ worth of Easters far from loved ones, on battle fields, in field hospitals or other dangerous situations. They must have thought again and again, “this will one day be over.”

So taking into consideration all this day stands for–Hope instead of despair, light to replace darkness, life triumphing over death–a joyful Easter to you in spite of a nasty virus and in the midst of a snowstorm.


This quality underlies all of our best efforts. Embracing hope means turning our backs on the doubt that so easily arises and doing what we can, right now.

The white hair in the background on this photo shows that I didn’t realize my reflection would show up. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, as our hope reflects how we face whatever comes our way.

Albert Einstein, a Greatest Generation member, said: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Hope means finding OPPORTUNITIES in the midst of life’s quandaries and challenges. May this be our determination in April 2020, even as it was for our parents and grandparents seventy-five years ago. Here’s a photo of HOPE snapped back then.

See the black arrow on the right? It points to Dorothy Woebbeking, R.N., a surgical nurse during one of WWII’s gruesome battles. Doing what you can with what you’ve got…this gave Dorothy great satisfaction. For more about her incredible HOPEFUL attitude:

Watching for Sunrise

Welcome April! Even though you bring us frightening news, we’re glad for the warmer weather. This morning in Butler County, Iowa, on the way to work, my sister captured the sunrise, and had graciously allowed me to share her photos.

I’m so glad she took the time to pause on the roadway and snap these shots, in a season when we all need reminders of beauty and hope. And what signifies hope better than a gorgeous sunrise?

Maybe this can remind us, too, to PAUSE in the midst of bad news. To take the time to do what we can during this period. A ninety-four year-old said the other day, “This makes me think of the polio scare back in the late forties early fifties.”

What a recollection–the polio epidemic struck fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere. This woman’s sister developed partial paralysis from the disease–she experienced the effects of this disease firsthand.

It’s almost always a good thing to PAUSE and consider history–realizing how we worked together to survive other scary times infuses courage. and courage has a lot to do with that wonderful four-letter word H O P E.

May you sense hope right now, even in the shadow fear casts over us.

The Book I Didn’t Want to Write

I’m so pleased to welcome science fiction and non-fiction author Bonnie Doran. Even though she had no desire to write her book, it will benefit many. She is offering a free copy to one commenter here (your choice, e-book or paper).

By Bonnie Doran

In 2014, I began a battle against melanoma with two surgeries, three different immunotherapy drugs, and a ton of side effects. My attention was on the cancer battle and not on writing.

During this time, I created a Facebook group to keep my friends informed of my treatment progress. A friend suggested I turn those posts into a devotional book. 

I fought that. It was too personal. I’d written bunches of devotional pieces (sixty-seven to be exact) but didn’t want to do a book. I wanted to write sci-fi novels. At the time of my cancer, one novel was published, another was finished, and I was working on a sequel. I was notgoing to write a devotional book.

Then my literary agent called. He’d been unable to sell my second novel, and we parted ways. Suddenly that novel wasn’t my focus. I languished in the doldrums.

Well, maybe I could write a few pieces for The Upper Room, a devotional magazine I read daily. I followed their guidelines, wrote three devos, and sent them in. 

They immediately rejected them. 

Maybe I could find another agent. Nope.

Okay, so maybe I was in a holding pattern until inspiration hit. It was time to clean out my files. 

That didn’t go well, either. 

I tried to barge through so many locked doors that my shoulder still hurts.

Finally, I listened to God. 

As difficult as it was, I read through my journal entries and typed out the sections about my treatment. Reliving all of that was painful.

At one point during that time, I started crying. I had lost so much as a result of cancer. That incident I suppose was cathartic, but it also became the basis for one of my devotionals. In fact, God reminded me of so many incidents during treatment that I ended up with more ideas than I could use.

With God’s help, I started writing the thing I’d sworn I wouldn’t write. I wouldn’t have thought of this, but God did. His plan went far beyond my cancer. 

I believe this book will be a comfort to other patients because I’ve experienced God’s presence in the middle of my pain. I pray others will cling Him and to the hope He provides.

My devotional book, Cancer Warriors: 52 Devotions for Cancer Patients and Those Who Love Them, released February 2020 from Illumify Media Global.

Bonnie Doran is a cancer survivor, a science fiction author, and contributor to numerous magazines. Her debut novel, Dark Biology, released in 2013. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband of thirty-seven years, John.   

You can find more about Bonnie here:


Emergency Post

I just heard about a great opportunity for those of us who know how to sew–it’s a way to contribute to the mask shortage right now. A friend of mine in Payson, AZ sent me this photograph of the fabric masks she is making.

If you’d like more information about how to do this, go to:

This reminds me of my. mother-in-law making socks and sweaters for the troops when she was a teenager during World War I. Go for it!

In Times Like These

Learning from history–and advice about preventing the coronavirus!

Why this title for the first Women of the Heartland series, taken from a childhood hymn our congregation sang in tiny Aredale, Iowa? Because the sentiment seems perfect for what Addie, my heroine faced duringWorld War II.

When I researched the hymn, which I assumed was an “Oldie” a surprise awaited me. A troubled Pennsylvania housewife penned the words in 1943, when Addie was struggling with her home front battles!

The daily Pittsburgh newspaper troubled Ruth Caye Jones, a pastor’s wife and the mother of five. World War II causality lists and the Allies’ slow progress up the boot of Italy made distressing news for the whole nation. With loved ones in harm’s way, worker shortages and rationing at home, everyone longed for normalcy.

One day, a passage in 2 Timothy chapter three, caught Ruth’s attention: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. Inspiration took over as she jotted some lyrics on a small notepad. Then the Westminster Chimes playing on her old mantle clock supplied the tune.

The rest is history: a common housewife penned one of the most beloved Gospel songs of the 1940s and 1950s, “In Times Like These.”

In times like these we need a Savior;
In times like these we need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the One.
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Now we have our own trying times and can learn from those difficult World War II years when people constantly feared for loved ones fighting overseas. They also dealt with rationing and shortages, yet somehow navigated the ever-increasing tension that gripped our nation.

Centuriues earlier, when another era faced a daunting health challenge, one concerned citizen wrote,

You ought to think this way: “Very well… the enemy has sent [a pestilence]… I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall… administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others… If people in a city were to show themselves bold in faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as to not take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die.”—Martin Luther on “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague”(c.1527)

Isn’t it amazing how appropriate these reflections seem for our day?

During our self-quarantine, we hear lots of advice. One online friend from the U.K. sent us some helpful tips:

  • Clean metal surfaces often and carefully, as viruses can live on them for days.
  • Drink lots of warm liquids–coffee, tea, soups, and gargle with antiseptics like vinegar, lemon, and salt
  • Elevate your body’s zinc level
  • Wash hands every twenty minutes, and if you go out, take a shower when you return
  • Avoid eating and drinking cold things
  • Sip warm water every twenty minutes

I’m grateful for these practical suggestions, (It doesn’t hurt that I love hot tea, and so does Addie!)

May you and your family stay safe during this time. And may you read a lot!

Courage in Tense Times

The wife of our President during World War II encouraged people worried about the terrible state of the word and their loved ones fighting overseas. She said, take courage.

How do we “take courage”? First, we must still our overwrought hearts. Sometimes historical facts aid in this effort.

Every era has its challenges, but consider this: sixteen million Americans served overseas in WWII. Two million of these served in Europe in order to stop the murderous surge of Naziism. In 1945, of a population of 140 million, roughly 11% of all Americans fought on foreign soil. (In Iraq, only about 1% of all Americans served.) 

Our nation is experiencing lots of tension now, but what if our husbands, sons, and brothers were in harm’s way? Or our daughters, as nurses, jjoined the troops in their invasions? 

Knowing our history helps us keep PERSPECTIVE…and in times like this, we need all the perspective we can get. So why not spend some time reviewing the incredible World War II era, when Americans rose up en masse to serve each other and our nation?

Stilling our hearts…taking courage…a great idea for our time!

Within Golden Bands

Here’s a brand-new many-layered novel from Norma Gail–and she’s offering a free copy, either paper or e-book to a commenter this week.

Release date: May 19, 2020

Within Golden Bands is available for pre-order at:

Land of My Dreamsis available at:

Within Golden Bandsis the sequel to my 2014 debut novel.It’s not necessary to read Land of My Dreams first, but I hope the reader wants to know what came before, because life sometimes interferes with our plans. This book went through three phases before I truly knew the story I was to write. Family matters and publisher changes stalled my efforts. I believe this is God’s time for this book. People who are pro-life must speak up. Within Golden Bands reveals one woman’s quest to build a family by adoption. Along the way, are others who cannot raise the children they bear, yet they choose life.

In some ways, Bonny MacDonell’s story is my own. She believed Kieran accepted her probable infertility before marriage. I suspected I had a problem. My husband and I discussed adoption before we married. Unlike Bonny and Kieran, I was the one who struggled. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to adopt. However, I wanted to bear a child when all of my friends were pregnant. My husband was ready for adoption long before I was. 

Bonny and Kieran’s story is complicated by an elusive stalker. The unknown assailant attacks Kieran and leaves him in a remote part of their sheep farm on the banks of Loch Garry, Scotland. In his absence, Bonny experiences a devastating miscarriage. Throughout their struggle to discover God’s plan, their lives and farm are threatened. And oh, does Kieran grapple with accepting a child not of his own blood.

As they search for God’s will, they question and pray. At times, the battle seems too hard. They grow weary. As a newly married couple, their relationship is strained at times. When faith and love are not enough, where do you turn? I hope you’ll want to know Bonny and Kieran’s story. I believe they will capture your heart. 

About the author: 

Norma Gail’s debut novel, Land of My Dreams,won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. Within Golden Bands releases May 19th. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals have appeared in several publications. She lives in New Mexico with her husband of 44 years. You can connect with her on her blog, or join her on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramGoodreads, or Amazon. @Norma_Gail 

Life and WW II Research…

Don’t we love it when things flow harmoniously? These moments remind us to be grateful, but our situations can also get complicated. Then, nothing seems right.

This week, our relative faced cancer surgery, which went well. But a few hours later, his blood pressure dropped due to internal bleeding. Things worsened, and two surgeries later, he was on the mend, but you can imagine those tense hours.

Recently the son of a real-life WWII heroine, Dorothy Woebbeking, sent me this photo of the gun turret where his mother fell asleep in the Invasion of Sicily in 1943. She and the other nurses were sent in on the first wave, a huge error by their commander. During incoming fire, a gunner rudely awakened our heroine and sent her below.

What a terrifying period that must have been! Those of you who have read UNTIL THEN

know what happened next, so I won’t spoil it for others, but the war overflowed with situations like this. Dorothy’s son also sent this note printed on the back of the photo.

Even those who’ve never experienced war know that nurses shouldn’t go into battle ahead of the infantry. This frightening circumstance must have caused terror in the heart of every person aboard that LST. ( Read how all of this turned out in UNTIL THEN.)

But in the midst of all the chaos life throws at us, we still discover synchronicity. The other day, I met a man whose accent intrigued me. We chatted, and it turns out he was a child if France during World War II, with vivid memories of that period. We arranged to meet yesterday, and I learned that Jean Jacques still recalls the Allied forces moving north through the French Alps in 1943-44.

His father had sent his family from Marseilles, a center of Nazi and Resistance activity, to a little mountain town for safety. Jean Jacques recalls pleasant childhood times there, but also the American and Canadian troops passing through the Alps.

What’s interesting is that the Eleventh Evacuation Hospital, which included our heroine Dorothy, followed the troops through these mountains to set up their triage and surgery. Wow–it’s entirely possible that Jean Jacques witnessed the truck carrying Dorothy and her thirty-nine-nurse comrades!

Today I’m meeting again with this child of the war, now in his eighties. This time, I get to see some of his photos. And who knows what may result?

Who would have thought that in the tiny mountain town of Pine, Arizona, someone like this would cross my path? But that’s the joy of research–our sources lie all around us!


You may notice a few changes to my website…not HUGE things, but a tweak here, and a tweak there. The Gallery page, for example, now boasts some great World War II photos. Just a picture is all it takes to set my mind wandering…wondering. How did that generation, ordinary folks like us, tackle their era’s challenges?

Sometimes thoughtfully…often without time to think. We don’t hear a lot about them praying, although can you imagine how mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers lifted up their loved ones on the battlefront each day?

Having a family member “over there” changed everything. I would think a person’s perspective would alter greatly–suddenly your flesh and blood was risking life and limb for the cause.

Recently I learned that the truck driver for Dorothy and the other nurses with the Eleventh Evacuation Hospital went to the effort of heating their food on his truck’s engine. Can’t help thinking that when she wrote her parents about his concern, their faces lit up. Somebody was watching out for their daughter.

Maybe he thought it was a small thing–one little act he could do to brighten the nurses’ days. Makes me think of my dad, who drove a jeep in North Africa, too.

So, this “renovation” might seem small, but maybe it’ll make a difference in someone’s appreciation of this incredible era. That’s what I’m all about!