On life's journey, whether traveling around the world or walking around your block, there's lots to learn about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, so lets dive into a new ocean together!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Waving farewell to 2012!

MS Restoration sailing from the Black Sea to Israel in 1995

Let Christ navigate you through 2013

May this year be the year you wave farewell to your safe shore,
and dive into a new ocean of dreams that will lead you to your God-given destiny.
Through rough seas or silky waters, your Captain will guide you to safe harbors.

I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the New Year!

MS Restoration crossing the Atlantic in 1994
(from Seattle, WA to Stockholm, Sweden)

(photos by Julie Langaker)

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few Days after Christmas

Not a perfect Christmas tree, not a perfect Grama

The Christmas season comes and goes like a whirlwind, and before you know it, you're sitting by the fire with your empty coffee mug and wondering, Where did the time go?  I wanted to have my neighbors over for some Christmas cheer; I couldn't wait to go to the annual "Christmas Lights at the Zoo"; I looked forward to a road trip to Charleston to see their Christmas festivities; I had every intention of mailing a few Christmas cards ... the list goes on.  Didn't happen.  Perhaps next year.

I was drawn to my iMac to write down a few random thoughts after Rob and I saw "The Guilt Trip" with Barbra Streisand, and "Parental Guidance" with Bette Midler.  I'm not a movie critic, but for me, both movies had themes that most women my age (40+) could relate to.

Two topics that resonated from both movies--for me anyway--were respect and we're the other grandparents.  Listen to me, no matter how perfect we try to be, we all have quirks*, from the grandparents, to the parents, to the children.  Most of our family quirks we learn to ignore and even laugh at.  Some cut a little deeper.  (*If you don't know the definition of quirk, look it up on google)

As our kids turn into adults, we slowly turn loose of them so they can become who they are destined to be.  Even so, we still want them in our lives.  A simple phone call now and then brightens our day, sprinkles sunshine on the challenges we face in our own lives.  We don't have to agree on much, but a phone call means more than any present money could buy.  You don't have to agree with me, but please, respect me for who I am, your mother, your grandmother.  Now I can hear those amens coming through the wi-fi wires, loud and clear.  Not from the kids so much, but from you mothers and grandma's.

The other topic.  We need to stop comparing ourselves with the other grandparents.  After talking with a few of my friends, I realize that now and then we all go through the comparison thing.  My Mother always felt bad because she couldn't give expensive Christmas gifts like the other grandparents, but her grandkids didn't love her any less.  It was her laughter and silliness that we all remember about Mama Cook.  That's what I'm hoping my kids and grandkids remember about me.

So lets begin this year with this decision: I will not compare myself with anyone.  I will let go, and be me!  I will continue to respect my parents for who they are, and hopefully my children will respect me for who I am.  Like my friend told me, "When our family gets together for the holidays, its a madhouse!  But we're family, and that's who we are."  Well, said, dear anonymous friend.

So there.  That's all I wanted to say for now.  I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the New Year!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day after Christmas

One of my favorite pastimes ... laughing! Big and loud, like my Mama used to do.

Ahh, the day after Christmas.  After a grand time with family on Christmas Eve and Day, a calm silence has fallen throughout the house. So I will take this time, upon request, to post an interview about a simple southern belle ... ME!  I'm part of a blog tour, similar to the old fashion chain letters we used to send.  So pour a cup of coffee while I indulge myself for a few moments.

Where did the idea come from for Lady and the Sea?
I was a volunteer on the WWII ship, MS Restoration, for fourteen months back in 1994. Upon returning home from sailing the seven seas, when I told stories about the miracle ship, people insisted, "You must write a book about your adventures!" They are right, I must write! I told myself.  And so Lady and the Sea was born.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition of Lady and the Sea?   Who should play Rosie, the main character?  Oh, that gorgeous, classy, talented brunette ... ugh,  what's her name? Can't remember.  Oh well.  Then my second choice would be Sandra Bullock.  Now, for Rosie's prince charming, Jesse?  Without a doubt, Tim McGraw.  Hmm, now that I think about it, didn't Sandra and Tim star in a movie together?
On board the MS Restoration in Stockholm, Sweden 1994
Give us a synopsis of Lady and the Sea? After two failed marriages, forty-eight-year-old Rosie Atkisson struggles through the process of rebuilding her life with her husband, Jesse. But the settled rhythm of her new found comfort is interrupted by a tug in her heart when she encounters a photo of another aging lady, the World War II ship, MS Restoration. A special mission to transport Russian Jews from Sochi, Russia, to Haifa, Israel, means an adventure of a lifetime; does she dare pass up this dangerous assignment that will take her thousands of miles from her family and her comfortable life? In spite of her fear of water and the unknown condition of the ship, Rosie says farewell to her safe shore, and dives into this new ocean. After fourteen months on board the old ship--from hurricanes to a heart attack, from miracles to menopause, and being held at gunpoint in the Haifa Harbor--Rosie wonders if she will ever return to her own safe harbor.

Is your book self-published or traditional published? After much prayer and research, I decided to self-publish. The best investment I made was to hire a professional editor. It's worth the money to make your book shine! I'm proud of Lady and the Sea, thanks to its fine editing.

Crossing the Atlantic in 1994
How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript? Two years. Then after much prayer and research (as you can see, I do a lot of both), I changed the story from a non-fiction to a novel, based on a true story.  Another two years. Yes, I'm slow, but sure.

Who or What inspired you to write Lady and the Sea? The history of the WWII ship, then sailing the seven seas with her, inspired me to share our story with the world. Her past and my past had many parallels (when I heard that the government put her in mothballs after the war, I immediately identified with her--I put myself in mothballs after my second divorce!). It was actually fun to tell the tale of two aging, lovely ladies.  Together, we prove that it is never too late for dreams to come true.

Russian Jews arriving in Haifa, Israel 1995

What else about Lady and the Sea might pique the reader's interest? The ship's sole purpose was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel. Hundreds donated gifts, and their time; miracles showed up daily on the deck.  If you love to travel and are looking for true adventure with sprays with romance and sprinkles of humor, and if you desire to find faith for your forgotten dreams, then Lady and the Sea is the book for you.

Thanks for reading! Next Wednesday, please visit the following fantastic author, Rosemary Hines, to read about her new books and her works-in-progress at www.rosemaryhines.com

You cannot discover new oceans until you are willing to lose sight of the shore

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Relaxing in the midst of preparations...

Popcorn knows how to relax...
Can you believe it?  I have been asked to be part of a blog interview tour with some great, inspiring authors.  I'll be posting my interview next Wednesday, December 26th.  And who knows, perhaps the day after Christmas will be the perfect time to take few minutes to sip on your favorite day-after-Christmas drink and read what I have to say about, well, what else?  My recent novel, Lady and the Sea... my true story about finding faith for forgotten dreams.

I pray that you are enjoying the joys of the Christmas season.  Take time to give hugs and smiles, and whispers of love.

... and so do I!

Monday, December 10, 2012

"My Fond Christmas Memories" interview

My own little book shop (a gift from my hubby)

Thank you Grace Awards, for a warm Christmas Memory interview!  Click on to read.


For those of you living in the Columbia/Lexington SC area, please stop by the Books A Million Lexington store this Saturday, December 15th, 1-3pm.  Chatting is my favorite pastime.

May the warmth and joy of the Christmas season keep you cozy in the days to come.  Keep wRiting and Reaching out to touch someone.

Oceans of Christmas blessings!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Simplicity of the Season

My 40+ year-old nativity
Unto you is born this day in the city of David, 
a Savior which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11 KIV

During a simple worship song at church yesterday,
I was touched by the loving kindness of Jesus.
My thoughts wandered back to a night in a little southern Baptist church
when I was eight-years-old.  
Someone tugged at my heart.  It was Jesus, asking if He could come in.
With childlike faith, I said yes, and He has been there ever since.
There have been times in my life when I have ignored His presence,
but eventually I always returned to my safe harbor.  

Someone recently told me that I am living the good life, and I agree.  
But like everyone, I've had hard times.  
Single and pregnant at nineteen.
 A failed marriage at twenty-one; another failed marriage at thirty-eight. 
My mother dying at the young age of sixty-six when I was forty.  
And all the tears and mistakes in between.  
But by God's grace, I am still walking with Him, trusting in Him.  
After all,  Jesus is my best friend.

A few random thoughts:  
With the Christmas season upon us, I ask you, has God ever tugged at your heart?  
Take some time in the busy-ness of the Christmas season to get alone with God 
and share your heart with Him.  
Ask questions--I've been asking for fifty-nine years.  
Sometimes I get answers, sometimes I don't.  
Doesn't matter.  
I trust in the Lord with all my heart and choose not to lean on my understanding.  
After all, we're not as smart as we think we are.  
And I'm asking you to please stop looking at us Christians who have let you down, 
act like we don't care, even act holier-than-thou, oftentimes not realizing it.  
We're not perfect, so don't let us stand in the way of God's love and 
His wonderful plan for your life.

I'll write more later, but at the moment, I have a tired patient on my hands.  
Rob had shoulder surgery last week and his body is still in the process of getting back to normal.  And that's what Nursie Leaf is for--to give him drugs, meds, and lots of TLC! 
(sounds like a rock n' roll song to me)

Until next time,  I invite you to give Jesus a chance to tug at your heart.

I wish you smooth sailing and oceans of blessings for the Christmas season.  
And remember ...

Jesus is the Reason for the Season
John 3:16

Popcorn is looking for Rob
Christmas 2012