April McGowan

Getting to Know you Author Elaine Marie Cooper

JPH04.14.0006HighRes (6 of 14)Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, a historical fiction based on a true story from the American Revolution. She has also penned three historical romances: The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Her new release is Bethany’s Calendar, a memoir of her daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

I recently read her new title. Here is my reviewBethany’s Calendar is a touching memoir of a mother’s last days with her dying daughter. It’s woven with raw emotion, tragic moments, and unbreakable threads of Godly hope. Each chapter begins in Bethany’s own words as excerpts from her journal, continues with the author’s heartfelt, hard-earned experiences and memories, and closes with a thought or devotional, always pointing back to The Comforter of our sorrows for strength needed for the next day—or the next hour. A good book entertains, but an excellent book changes how we feel and offers a new perspective that unobtrusively works its way into our consciousness. This is such a book. A must-read for anyone dealing with cancer or chronic illness in their own lives or the lives of a loved one.

Please join me in welcoming Elaine!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in writing. I think most authors confess to a childhood passion for writing. J My early attempts at the craft were an assortment of short fiction, poems, and a television manuscript! I’m sure they were quite amusing. I never thought this interest would lead to becoming a writer but the Lord kept leading me onto that path, regardless of my own plans.

What led you to write “Bethany’s Calendar?” I have to say it was the Lord impressing the idea on my heart during praise and worship time at a writer’s conference. I had no intentions of 8ever writing the painful saga of my daughter’s battle with brain cancer. I thought I would only continue writing historical fiction. But like Bethany’s illness changed her plans, God changed mine.

What is “Bethany’s Calendar” about? It’s the story of facing my worst fear: losing a child. It’s also the story of how we helped her through that painful journey and how others in similar situations can be strengthened in their role as caregivers. This memoir is geared toward families dealing with serious illness, cancer sufferers, nurses, and friends of caregivers. I pray that what my husband and I learned during this crisis will give hope and help to others.

That must have been unimaginably hard to write. Reliving that painful time was at times excruciating. I had many prayer warriors lifting me up to help me through the writing of the chapters. What a blessing to feel the prayers of others.

In the book, you say ” Be aware that many times, the people who you think would be the most supportive and helpful, will let you down in one way or another. If there are friends or family who are draining you of emotional energy, it is OK to keep them at a distance until you are capable of dealing with them.” Why do you feel that way? I have spoken with others in similar circumstances and I receive nods of understanding. I feel that way because as the caregiver, you have to keep your patient the priority for your energy. If you allow others to sap your strength with their unhelpful behavior, you end up of hurting yourself as well as your loved one. But I also add that it is important to forgive. Usually these people are grieving as well. That’s excellent advice. It’s like on the airplane and you’re told  in case of emergency to place your oxygen mask first and then help those around you.

What’s the most important thing readers will learn from “Bethany’s Calendar?” I pray that readers will see how faith in God can help them through the most dire of circumstances. Life is not easy but the Lord has promised us He will never leave us or forsake us. I also pray that caregivers will learn ways to be advocates for their loved ones who are ill. Every patient, weak from illness, needs a strong supporter who is willing to go to bat for them.

Now that you’ve shared about your journey with Bethany, do you have any upcoming plans for new novels? Yes, I’m working on a historical fiction set in Saratoga, New York in October of 1777. And in October of 1977. And no, it is not a time travel novel. 😉

Would you share a Bible verse that is particularly meaningful to you? A verse that means a great deal to me is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ.” HCSB 

A friend from church sent me these verses during Bethany’s illness and it made such an impression on me. I realize now that the message of this passage of Scripture seems to have come full circle in writing “Bethany’s Calendar,” and I pray it brings comfort to others.

Finally, can you tell us when you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing? Being with my family. Crocheting. Going to quality movies. Drinking tea and eating scones. Oh, scones, tea and movies. I’m all over that. If you’re ever in the PacNW, look me up 🙂 Thanks so much for joining us! I am so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this interview. And I pray that, should your family ever be impacted by cancer, that “Bethany’s Calendar” will help you in some way through your difficult journey.

Bethanys Calendar CoverYou can find Elaine Marie Cooper’s novel, Bethany’s Calendar on Amazon here http://buff.ly/12izRBy

Don’t go yet! If you have any questions of Elaine or myself, don’t forget to comment below!

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Walk Away

IMG_0011 (2)What have you been up to lately? We’ve been very busy. Let’s see, where to begin? I got the manuscript of my latest novel, Macy, turned in to my publisher, and spent the following days celebrating my daughter’s 16th and my son’s 11th birthdays…and worked on our M.E.P (our marriage enrichment project read IKEA shelving unit—see lovely photo on your left).

How hard can that be, you ask? Seriously, IKEA has great instructions, and it’s pretty simple…on paper. Except, did you know you have to drill the drawer front handles yourself? Yeah. That was fun, getting them all lined up (just be glad you weren’t here). Thankfully, my husband came equipped with a math function of which I am sorely lacking. Five, er…six…er…eight ruined drawer fronts later, there you have it! Flawless! Mostly.

It’s beautiful, and it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years and years. All our homeschool stuff is (soon to be) organized into ONE place (I know, right??!). “Mom, where’s the ____?” My “In any one of four places,” answer has changed to “Right there!” Well, it will be as soon as I get everything moved. But then—perfection!

Yes, I know, I attain perfection every time I reorganize that towel closet and perfection is stolen from me in days. I know eleven-year-old habits will be hard to break. Quit raining your well-balanced logic on my parade.

Our M.E.P went really well, considering I had to deal with letting go some more—which wasn’t much fun off and on. I have gone from a capable gal who could unpack most of the house after a move in a couple days to our M.E.P taking three weeks. I had a day of hating that. Much improved over what could have been three weeks of hating that. She’s growing, she’s accepting. (Still stinks though…grumble…grumble).

Your mind is still on all those wasted drawer fronts, isn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll do something creative for our new kitty with them (I will tell you about him next time). Wait, you’re not worried about that? You just want to know how we could have ruined eight of them?

Sometimes you have this plan that looks great all sketched out, even measures out perfectly, but it just fails. The drill bit was bent and we didn’t know it. The hole for the right side was off just a tiny bit, so the template was off all those times. Lastly, plain and simple, the drill slipped in my grasp (drills are heavier to me now than they used to be).

Sometimes you just have to roll with it. And know when to walk away and let your spouse work out their geometry skills. Knowing when to walk away can be harder than you think. I’m a hang-on-with-my-teeth girl. After I walked away (mentally and physically), my patience for the whole project grew. I used to like drilling—not so much anymore. Gladly, my husband has a knack for it and finished up the fronts and doors like a pro.

Letting go can be very freeing. To be honest, I haven’t noticed the tools, the boxes on the front steps, the unfinished part all that much since I ‘walked away.’ That is not me. Actually, it’s the new me. The project got done, and I didn’t stress about it. Chalk up one successful M.E.P!

Have you had a fun or exasperating M.E.P? Leave me a message about it below!

 

 

 

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O Come, O Come Emmanuel

My heart is so saddened by the past few days. We’ve had shootings at our Clackamas mall, then our local pet store caught fire (nearly all the pets were lost), and now the shootings in Connecticut follow that up. I’m left feeling empty and sad. There are hundreds if not thousands in mourning this week—a week we’re supposed to be preparing for Christmas and enjoying family traditions.

Seeing the flags flying at half-mast in town was a dampening reminder today. And while I drove around with my family, doing some last minute shopping and buying a much needed pair of boots for my daughter, I was struck by how life still moves on despite the loss. However, the twinkling lights, merry music and usual hope of the season is contrasted by loss. Deep, heart wrenching loss. It brings us back to where we lay our hope. Is our hope here on this Earth, or does it lay in the hands of our Savior?

I’m struck by the stories of unselfish love emerging out of the tragedy. From the people in the mall who stayed with the injured, even as they lay dying, to the teachers who risked (and lost) their lives protecting their students. And while some shout, “Where was God?” or claim He turned a blind eye because the schools have quit teaching about Christianity, I say He was right there in the midst of it. Because, where there is sacrificial love, there is the Son, and where the Son is, there is the Father.

So when I drive around this year, looking at the Christmas lights, I’m going to be remembering the sacrifice and loss of many—but especially the sacrifice of the One, who came to cast light into the darkness, to draw us unto Himself in our grief, to save us from our iniquities. Emmanuel—God with us. He promises never to leave us nor forsake those who belong to Him, no matter what evil plays out here in this world.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

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