Connie calls herself an autodidact writer. The word autodidact is as impressive as the time it takes to teach yourself how to master a craft. Auto means "self" and "didact" comes from the Greek word for "teach." Connie learned by reading, taking home study courses, and creative writing workshops. She talked, practiced and shared with other writers who encouraged her to write her story because it was too important, not to tell. Connie has three blogs, one sharing spiritual thoughts, another on aging gracefully, and the other her author site. She is so passionate about writing that she gets up every day at 5:00 am and writes for 2hours. She's a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Her hobbies are genealogy, lots of crafts, too many to mention. If you ask Connie what the greatest accomplishment of her life has been? She'll tell you it's the life she created by believing in something better, "The Promise!"
I thought this worth sharing on my authors website for those who are trying to write your own stores. Believing in oneself and your ability to accomplish whatever you set out to do is, I think the most important ingredient you need to succeed.
Here on Connie’s World, it is my pleasure to welcome Monica Lee, the author of Church Sweet Home and three other books. Today, she writes about home, a topic we both address in our respective memoirs.
When one thinks of a journey or an adventure, exotic destinations come to mind. Who bothers to embark on a long trip only to end up at home?
But in this odd world filled with government orders, infection rates and death counts, home is the blessed end of many treks out in the world. Whatever we’re doing—seeing a doctor, going to work, even simply buying fresh produce at the supermarket—we all just want to get home. Home is the ultimate destination, a sanctuary from all the world’s evils.
Even the word home evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. No wonder home, sweet home is a saying. We’re always looking for home, making a home, just being ourselves at home, reminiscing about home or trying to go back home. Home represented love, comfort and security long before lethal viruses floated through bandana face masks sending us to the hospital to die horrible, lonely deaths.
So while a travelogue is a great distraction in this strange time (I recently enjoyed Bill Bryson’s jaunt through Australia in In a Sunburned Country), a story where home plays a starring role may be the best salve to soothe the soul.
My latest memoir, Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the Soul, opens with my husband and I marveling at the snow falling outside our camper. Yes, we were camping in northern Illinois in late October. We weren’t foolhardy outdoorsmen; we lived in our RV at the time, trying to figure out how to carve out a living space in a century-old church.
We called the 355-square-foot fifth-wheel camper home because we’d sold our four-bedroom house earlier in the year to travel through the West Coast. It was an epic trip, but our home was like a turtle shell, one we carried on our back. During the renovation of the church into a residence, we lived in the camper, a tiny rental house, back to the camper and finally the church. The building inspector required a functioning bathroom and kitchen and a real bedroom before issuing a residential permit for the church, but of course, almost everyone agrees a home is so much more than plumbing, kitchen appliances and a bed.
In my story, home is a literal space.
In Connie Rife’s story, home is less a specific place than an emotional one. In The Promise: A Memoir, Connie is looking for the security and love only loved ones can provide. She begins her journey with her sometimes irritating yet nonetheless related little sister, progresses to a house in which she becomes more a mother to her benefactor’s children than the real mother, and then to an apartment she shares with her sometimes recovering alcoholic father. All of these places have functioning bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms, but none of them are really home because the people she shares the spaces with are wrapped up in their own responsibilities and problems.
So a true home requires certain physical luxuries and also emotional security. In order to be a true sanctuary, a home must be an oasis, a shelter in the storm.
Your turn! How would you define home? What is essential? Anything missed? Share below!
Have you read books in which home is the ultimate destination? Will you be reading Church Sweet Home? Do you have questions for Monica Lee?
My latest book is available on Amazon & AmazonKindle: Church Sweet Home: A Renovation to Warm the SoulSubscribe to my author blog at http://mindfulmonica.wordpress.com/ for the latest
There are many characteristic of a fairy tale. Mine would be the one marked by seemingly unreal beauty, perfection, luck, love, and a happily ever after ending. But in real life embracing the fairy tale is like receiving a beautiful gift without any instructions on how to build it or care for it.
I had to unlearn my old ways, one thing at a time as they came into play. Like worry. Every one worries about things when the occasion merits it. That’s normal. But for me worry was the main focus of my everyday life. All of a sudden I’m living my beautiful dream and my only worry was what I would make for dinner. That wasn’t worrisome enough so I’d start worrying about when the rug was going to be pulled out from under me. When was Tom going to leave me like everyone else did.
I had no trouble trusting that God would never leave me, but it took a long time to put my faith and trust in another human being. The luck within my fairytale was having someone like Tom who constantly told me how much he loved me.
As I write this I realize that I do have a fairytale story with beauty, luck, love and a happily ever after ending. It’s all the in-between stuff that puts the meat and bones on our love story.
One of the things that helped me the most over the years was having friends to share my thoughts with. Knowing that others had the same goals, thoughts and concerns made me feel normal. It’s not right to leave people with the impression that everything is perfect. We learn and grow from each other.
My hope is that you will find this a place where you can share your thoughts and questions as well. We all have a valued amount of information stored up inside us. Why not pass the goodness on?
I leave you with a lesson on worry from—Winston Churchill.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
A reader of my story The Promise asked me what kind of work I did that gave me the ability to forgive my parents. It was a lifetime process that began when I got down on my knees and asked for the grace of forgiveness. I thought that my faith was strong enough that God would take all the pain of my past away. Little did I know at the time that when we pray for something, God isn’t going to fix it for us. He gives us lots of opportunities to practice and learn from it.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I must share with you that it was through the bond of motherhood that my relationship with Mom began to heal. She became a significant part of my life during that time when I had our four children. She loved being with them as much as they loved having her around, and I appreciated her help, too.
Today I choose to remember all the good things about my Mom. One of my fondest memories I have was sitting beside Mom as a child watching her zip together an outfit on the sewing machine. She would ask me to thread the needle for her when it needed it, and she taught me how to sew, too. She also taught me how to bake bread, crochet, as well as many other crafts. I remember how she held my hand as we walked to school for my first day of kindergarten. How her face lite up the moment I walked into the hospital after her knee surgery. The serving of apple crisp she brought into the hospital after each baby was born. The way she laid her head on my shoulder as she sat beside me knowing this was the last time she’d receive communion before passing away.
As mothers, we each do the best we can with what we know how to do. We all have grandiose ideas of the kind of mother we want to be, and then God gives us lots of opportunities to practice how to be that way. We learn from mistakes, but only after we forgive ourselves for making them. I am grateful for the blessings that motherhood has given me. For my mother, my children, my husband, and all we learned together along the way.
I haven’t wanted to promote my book too much while we were all living through the uncertainty of the coronavirus. It seems that the uncertainty is going to go on for quite a while yet. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to bring some kind of normalness back into my life.
I’m sitting down again first thing in the morning getting back to my commitment of writing at least two hours a day. I’ve had so many requests to write the next sequel of my story. Im playing around with titles such as Living The Promise and the last sequel being called, Beyond The Promise. We will see what comes of it and as always I will pray for guidance.
It would be very helpful if I knew what you the reader are looking for. What are your questions?
Are you curious to know how we’ve stayed in love all these years?
Are you curious to know how my past affected my future?
Are you curious how I taught myself to write?
Are curious why I left the church?
Everyone has a question that comes from someplace deep inside. Maybe my story trigured something in you and you want to know how someone else works there way through it. Let me because it will help me to gain a focus on which way to take this next part.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”– Anne Frank
A friend of mine recently reminded me of how Anne Frank was stuck in a 450 square foot area with 7 other people for 2yrs and 35 days. And yet she wrote:
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
In my story, I talked about what it was like to lose everything. Some of my biggest lessons came from that. Feeling empty naked and vulnerable, I found comfort in the only thing that remained a constant in my life, and that was my friendship with God. Sometimes I think we are thrust into desperate situations so that we can find our way back to our connecting source. When we reconnect with that mystical Divinity that cannot be explained by science, we become whole in a way that gets us through the worst of things.
During these difficult times, we sometimes find strength in watching or reading about stories of survival. I’ve seen the movie of Anne Frank a few times, but I don’t think I ever actually read the book. I was thinking of downloading it for free on my Kindle eBook. I have Kindle Unlimited, which allows me to download as many books as I can read in a month for only $9.99. That’s less then you usually pay for one book. It’s well worth it if you’re an avid reader. But even if you’re not, they usually offer it for free the first month. I believe they are offering it free for two months right now, so you might want to check it out. If you’re not interested in any commitments like that I’ve lowered the price on my eBook The Promise from $7.00 to $3.99. And you don’t have to have a Kindle to read it. You can download the Kindle app on your phone, iPad, or your computer. The app is free.
I am honored by the words of Joe C., who wrote at the end of his beautiful review on Amazon: “Not since the Diary of Anne Frank was I so totally moved by an author’s personal story.
People often ask me how you can remember such details from your past.
It is as if the heart stops for a moment while the brain absorbs the shock of the hearts piercing. That memory has nowhere to go. It wanders around in your mind and flashes like a lightning bolt with the blow of thunder that strikes right before the memory comes flooding back, and the tears rain from your eyes.
You don’t forget the things that pierce your heart.
But as a child, we can often distort what was really going on. We only remember the worst of what happened to us. In my therapy sessions, my therapist would have me go back to an event in my life as the adult I am today. I’d sit beside my younger self and observe the situation from an adult point of view. I could see that what was going on didn’t have anything to do with me. There was a lifetime of problems that surround my parents that created the things that happened. I could then take the hand of my inner child and show her that it wasn’t her fault. That it’s alright now, we survived it, and it’s not worth holding onto anymore. It didn’t take away from the fact that I was indeed a victim of my parent’s circumstances, and it didn’t justify their actions, but it helped me to know it wasn’t my fault, and I could let it go now if I wanted to.
A heartwarming story of resilience though faith and love.The Promise is an inspirational story of faith, hope, and love. Connie really gets into the voice of a 14 year old and although I was fortunate enough not to experience the awful situation she was in, I could remember my self doubts of adolescences. I volunteer as a court appointed advocate for children taken out of their homes. I have been working with a boy who has been in care since he was 12. He is now 18 and has been moved from one facility to another. The pain, sadness and rejection he feels is heartbreaking. Connie expresses this so well. Thank you, Connie, for having the courage to tell your story and making us aware of what these kids experience.
Thank you for your wonderful response. It is a confirmation for me that my story is touching those who need to hear it.
Thank you, Fran Rowley, your 5-star review ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Promise is a heartfelt memoir that is both captivating and inspiring. I felt so much emotion as I followed the difficult challenges this author endured. Her strong faith and trust in God is commendable with all she had been through, and I was inspired to work to develop a deeper connection in my own life.
This was an engaging story that kept me captivated, and I highly recommend this book!
Every review helps get my story in the hands of someone who could benefit from what it has to offer. Thank you in advance for your consideration.