Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Wonder

At any age the sight of twinkling lights can bring us back to our childhood, to simpler times gone by and days when we had no responsibilities or regrets. Thinking back to those years should give us a happy glow, yet  we sigh a bit reminiscing about the innocence, the times before the world and some of its harsh realities got to us.

Take my mother, Eileen, for instance. She was a lovely little girl, born into a family who had lived through the great depression. A sweet child who had no knowledge of some of the rough roads ahead. Families were poor in the 1930's and 1940's and Christmas gifts were some of the last things parents would worry about. Yet one year, an elderly man who lived near young Eileen took it upon himself to bestow one of the best Christmas gifts she'd ever receive.

Mom often talked about getting fruits and nuts in a Christmas stocking, but this particular Christmas, the elderly gentleman brought a package wrapped in tissue paper. "For the little girl," he'd said, coat buttoned against the cold, frosty breath blowing before him as he handed it to Mom's mother, Louise. Nobody knew why he'd chosen to bring this one special gift to a little girl he barely knew, but when Mom opened the package, a most beautiful dolly peeped out at her. Brown curly hair, blue snowsuit with fur trim, my mother beheld something she'd only dreamed about.

The cherished doll was priceless to her, a lovey to hold on nights when an drunken father spouted abusive words. The doll was her strength and belief that kindness existed, and perhaps there was goodness around the corner.

Mom would tell years later that her most prized gift vanished when she and her family moved to a new house. She'd walk past the old apartment she'd lived in, trying to peek through a window to see if the doll was still there. She never saw it again.

Years would bring sadness to Mom as she lost a beloved sister and mother at early ages. Two miscarriages would follow and she somehow held on. Yet she would survive a cardiac arrest and live to tell an amazing story of the afterlife. With a good man at her side, and two children of her own, life settled into a routine as it usually does.

Now later in life, as older age takes hold, Mom relives precious memories and the stories which meant so much to her. She's spoken recently more and more of the beautiful doll she'd once received, and the kindness of a stranger one Christmas night.

I've talked about our Christmases before and the generosity of my brother. How each year he picks one of us and tries to replicate a gift from our past, searching until he finds it on Ebay perhaps or some other venue. This year he researched dolls with fur snowsuits from Mom's childhood era.

Yesterday, as Mom began opening her last gift, her face crinkled into a frown. She peeled layers of tissue paper from the box and then began to cry. For there, before her was a doll, much like the one of her youth. Years melted away and the little girl, untouched by sadness and grief once again shone like the sun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Saying Goodbye

The phone call came around three o'clock this afternoon; Hospice care at the nursing home where Uncle Hubert has resided for several years. "He's failing," they said. "Let family members know who may want to come and say goodbye to him."

I left work with a pit in my stomach, fear rolling in my gut. I can't do this. I've never had to visit a dying person before, let alone someone I've been extremely close to. I phoned a dear friend, someone who'd gone through tough times in his life, someone who'd had to go through this very thing a few years ago. His words will remain with me forever. For he said that God specifically chose me to be an ambassador of the family. God has my back, and will give me the courage and peace I need to walk through that door. My friend promised to pray for me and I sped toward the nursing home with my own prayers under my breath.

When I walked through the front doors and was greeted by the receptionist who I'd known for the longest time, I instantly burst into tears. She was particularly close to Uncle Hubert, and she hugged me and let me cry. And when I walked the long walk in the hallways to his room for what might be the last time, I kept thinking to myself, "I cannot do this." One step. "I'll probably crumble." Second step. One foot in front of the other, I made it to the room and was instantly greeted by the kindest hospice people, one of whom was a chaplain. They explained Uncle Hubert's condition to me, and as I saw him in what seemed a peaceful sleeping state, the tears spilled once again. His breathing was soft, his eyes tightly closed, but as I touched his arm and whispered how much he meant to me and how much I love him, he seemed to relax even more.

Other loved ones arrived and we all celebrated his life. His very good life. A feeling of peace washed over me as I've never experienced especially in such a stressful situation. I know it was the prayers of several people, and also the knowledge of where Uncle Hubert is headed. For his bent, old body will soon be made straight. His aches and pains, soon gone. He will run and laugh, never to cry again or know fear or sadness.

It is this thought dear friends, which sustains us. The thought of where we are headed, not where we have been. Let God's peace carry you through the difficult moments of life, even watching beloved loved ones as they breathe their last.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Old-fashioned ways

Yesterday, while eating Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I couldn't help but ponder some of our customs and old-fashioned ways. For instance, how certain foods are made. With no deviations, Mom and I pretty much make dishes the same way since time began. The background music during dinner, old time records, yes, vinyl, my father lovingly brought to the house for us all to enjoy. These records have cracks, chips, some of them skip uncontrollably, but they all evoke memories. How can I not hear Percy Faith's "Carol of the Bells" and not get a bit choked up, thinking back to years ago, my brother and I as younger kids and the warmth of our family home?

It's this very warmth I want to talk about today. For several years I've been writing books. I have this blog, The Finches Nest, Inspirational Stories and I also have a story going pretty much all the time either in my head, or on my laptop. What I've hoped to convey over the years are heartfelt, old-fashioned stories.

Take for instance my book called "Reflections From my Mother's Kitchen." It's just that: a memoir-based tale, though fiction, but evoking all the warmth and memories of my mother's old-fashioned kitchen and old time customs. Things my son and his generation may never understand.

In this world of fast paced cell phone, i-pad technology, I'd like the younger people to take a moment and bask in some good old-fashioned warmth.

I recently got this very kind editorial review of my book "Piggy." What I've hoped to tell with this book is a story of friendship, honor, fun, adventure and good old-fashioned values. I feel these may be traits that I see sadly lacking in today's television and movies. Take a look:

Editorial Reviews


Reviewed By Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

Piggy by Karen Malena is a delightful story involving a cat and a mouse and their unusual friendship. Goober, a mother cat, has an adopted kitten, Peanut, and she entertains him by telling him the story of Piggy the cat and a mouse named Melvin. The story involves an assortment of other animals and takes the reader on a journey into the animal world. In a clever twist, Peanut finds out that the story his mother is telling him has far more meaning than he expected, and that someone close to him is involved in a way he had not imagined. The idea of the mother cat soothing her restless kitten with a story is charming, and the story itself is captivating.

This is a clever story that, although probably aimed at middle-grade age, would be lovely read to a younger child by a parent. I also think older children and even adults would enjoy the story and the antics of the animals. The author, Karen Malena, has done a really good job of weaving in a few life lessons. The fact that a cat and a mouse can be friends shows the importance of friendships and helping one another, even though the perception would be that they would be enemies. This is a gentle book with a story that is fun and enjoyable and also an exciting adventure. It's also about caring for one another and not always taking things on face value. I think it would make a perfect bedtime story where the reader could explain the story and its interpretations to a younger child.
This reader saw in my story exactly what I wished to convey. I'm very pleased to see such kind words. It is my hope that you, too, will take a moment, whether you're an e-book reader, or enjoy paperback, and pick up a copy of "Piggy" today. In time for the holidays, it's 25% off on my publisher's site. 

Let's bring back the heart of good old fashioned stories! Enjoy a good book today!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Family: The gift of Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches I want to take some time to list my gratitude.

I am grateful for being raised in a family that cares about others. A family where my mother taught us children about respect for the elderly, for those less fortunate and for animals. A mother who once called me her shining star and would have done anything for me when I was faced with serious surgery as a young teenager. A woman who's battled deepest depression and found the will to go on in her darkest moments. A woman who can still laugh heartily.

I am grateful for a father who taught me about patience, resilience and a sense of humor. A man who didn't give up in the heat of life's toughest moments, who honors the sanctity of marriage and  his wedding vows. An unselfish man who is soft-spoken and kind, gentle and good.

I am grateful for a husband who calls me his best friend. A man who tells me almost daily how glad he is that we met later in life and he doesn't know what he would have done without me. A husband who respects me, listens to me even when I rattle on and on about some infraction that may seem boring to him, yet he gives me his time. A man I enjoy taking trips with, laughing with and praying with. A man who is not perfect, but loves God with his whole heart.

I am grateful for my son. He's taught me about life and never giving up. He's shown me that I could love so unconditionally until it hurts. During some of the toughest moments when I thought my heart would break over things he's had to go through, I learned that my love for him is one of the deepest emotions a mother could feel. I am grateful for our ability to talk with one another, enjoy each others company, and share stories together.

I am grateful for a brother who is one of the most selfless people I know. A man who would put others before his own needs. A man I've called best friend many times in my life. Though he came along fourteen years after me, I am grateful for our closeness and confiding in one another.

I am who I am because of these amazing people. Each of them with so much to offer this world. Each of them a part of the makeup of my life, my self and all that I am. I am blessed, honored, and yes, so very grateful for each of them.

There are countless others in my life, step-children, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles and my beautiful nieces who have meant the world to me. They, too, have contributed to the fabric of my life, the gratefulness I feel at this time of the year. I give you all my love each and every one of you and wish you the true gift of Thanksgiving in your own lives.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Meet the Fur- Bombers

Meet the Fur-Bombers! is a pet blog starring four highly active dogs, four cats and two humans sharing stories and adventures with the intent to brighten up peoples day, and occasionally bring awareness to little known or talked about pet health issues that they've had to deal with or are currently dealing with.

Victoria Carter, the caring owner and administrator has this to say about her loving fur family:

Our family consists of four highly active dogs, four cats and two humans sharing stories of our adventures both good and bad, but mostly good.

Memphis and Belle (named for the WWII Memphis Belle B-17 Bomber): My mom and I were in a mom and pop pet store six years ago (they aren’t there anymore) and they were working with a small rescue (that is no longer working anymore). We saw these two little small white fluff balls, at the time they were ten weeks old, had just had their first set of shots and were recovering from a flea infestation. I honestly was more attracted to Belle (original name Angel), and my mom was obsessed with Memphis’ toes (originally named Marshmallow). When we found out that they were the last ones of the litter I couldn’t split them up, not when I knew that I’d be working full time, so, I took them both! It was a good thing too! As it turns out, Memphis is deaf, and has a genetic heart condition along with being a polydactyl, and he is deeply attached to Belle and myself, being deaf he relies on touch to help him know what is going on so he lays right next to me or his sister for security. I don’t think he would have made it to Six years considering being deaf with a heart condition.

Pete, we believe was born in my husbands neighbors shed six years ago (yup same age as Memphis and Belle), his neighbors wife was the one who noticed their dogs going crazy at the shed, and went to rescue him. He was the only kitten that she found, no momma or littermates, and since her dogs weren’t to keen on cats (her husband wasn’t to fond of kitties either) so she asked if Kevin wanted him, and that as we say is history. He’s had him ever since, and once I moved in after our marriage, Pete took an immediate liking to me and has now become a spoiled housecat, who occasionally likes to go sunning in the yard. (all our kitties have daytime outside privileges, they all come in at night)

Q.B. 2.5 was born in our house 11 years ago. My husband had received a good mouser from a friend, she was solid white, and was named Q.B. 2 (after a solid white dog he had in the past). She ended up getting pregnant while he was deployed to Iraq, when he came home shortly after her kittens were born the only one that his house sitter kept was Q.B. 2.5 (the rest of the litter is spread out with Kevin’s brothers) who was named after his mother (who ended up disappearing shortly after the kittens were weaned) since he was the spitting image of her but was only a kitten thus the .5 instead of going all the way up to 3.

How we acquired the dogs is also somewhat similar, the only thing I could say is; despite having a houseful if we were to find another critter, or one was to find us, that was in need and was easily accepted by our current group they would probably end having a home too.

It is always wonderful to meet such caring animal friends.

 Please stop by their Facebook page:

And for more touching animal stories and amazing photos, check out their blog:

I'd like to thank Victoria and her furry crew for being on my blog today! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

The gift of old age

My heart cracked in half tonight. While talking to Mom on the phone, I realized just how bad her memory is getting. She recalled a time in our lives when I was already grown and married and asked me who was babysitting me. I gulped and felt a huge lump forming in my throat.

Where are you going, Mom? I want to find you. I want to find the woman you once were, so quick-witted and sassy. Nobody, but nobody could pull the wool over your eyes. Now, I think the wool has gathered and taken away so much.

She talked about a beloved doll someone had brought her one Christmas. The memories of childhood all too close now. Memories from a few minutes ago, gone and forgotten, but the past is here to stay. She could vividly describe the beautiful doll, the satin snowsuit, the fur muff. I could all but see it as she went on about how much that toy had meant to her. My heart cracked just a little further. . .

What is this, the gift of older age? For perhaps it is just that. Mom had sadness in her life as well. And maybe just maybe it's not such a bad thing to forget some of the pain she went through at the hands of an abusive mother or alcoholic father. Her innocent, childlike ways may just be a blessing in disguise as she recalls silly songs, movies and books she read.

I count myself lucky that she knows who we all are, our close family who has been through so much together through the years. She still cooks and bakes, and all these things are good. Though I yearn for my mother's listening ear, and I miss the times I could call her and tell her about some infraction that had gone on, or share an exciting story from my day knowing she would have just the right words to say, I now must embrace the fact that our conversations have changed. For now she repeats and we've all heard the stories before. The attention span is gone, replaced by what almost feels to be a self-centered way of speaking. But we understand, my family and I. And we keep our sense of humor intact. We love, we laugh, we cry. We embrace the gift, grateful for every day we still have with Mom.

Oh, and the reason for the picture I took of a butterfly in a flower? My Mom loves butterflies. I think to her they represent freedom, imagination and God. She's often told a story of standing at the kitchen window when she was younger, completely distraught over something that had happened. She cried out to God for a sign, "Please, God, if you're there, please show me a butterfly. You know I always think of You when I see one." Not a few seconds later, but the most beautiful Monarch butterfly flew outside the window and stayed for the longest time as if dancing for her. That, my friends is a true gift.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paying It Forward

I realize there are kind-hearted  people in the world. It must be so, for how can someone take a tragic situation and make it right? What follows my friends is just such a story. A wonderful cat who "pays it forward," Diamond the cat. In his own words, you will hear of how he found life and love at the care of one good woman. I must warn you however, that it begins as a very sad tale, and the pictures of when he was first found are disturbing. But it's the ending that matters. Diamond has found his "furever" home and wants to help others now.

My name is Diamond and I was rescued on Memorial Weekend in May of 2013. When my foster Mom (Victoria) found me, I was very sick and the vets did not think that I would make it. They told her that I should be put to sleeps; but thankfully she didn't listen to them! Victoria was taking care of her friends fur babies when she found a note on the door about me. A sweet 13 year old girl wrote her that note saying there was a kitty in her front yard that she thought was very sick. That kitty was me. I had scabies soooo bad that I could not close my eyes or move my legs. I was dehydrated and only 4 pounds!! As soon as my foster Mommy saw me, she put me in the carrier and rushed me to the vets. Since she told them she wanted to try to save me, they gave me fluids and medicines. The entire time I was getting the fluids, I just stood in the cage purring.  I KNEW I was getting the help I so desperately needed!! I went back later for some more medicines and shots. While I was recovering, my foster brother Flipper and my Foster Mommy kept posting about me with my pictures and kept asking everybody to say a  prayer for me....I started making such pawsome recovery thanks to the medicines, my foster Mommy and all the prayers!  It took me 8 weeks to get to my furever home ~ but it was well worth the wait!!

My new Mommy, Kerri,  followed me from the day that Vicky rescued me, even when she was on vacation, she kept checking up on me!! When I was healthy enough to go to my very own furever home, Kerri asked my Foster Mommy if she could haven the honor of raising me - so they met & when my new Mommy saws me, it was LOVE at first sight by her!! But to tell the truth, she loved me before she ever met me!! She knew I was a purrfect fit for the family!! She said from the VERY first picture she saw of me covered all with scabies and a bad cut on my front paw, that she was in love and wanted nothing more then to have me as a member of our family.  So my new Mommy was so excited when my Foster Mommy saids YES, you are purrfect for Diamond!! 

Now I did make my Foster Mommy and my Mommy and Daddy a promise and the promise was to always pays to forward for all the other fur babies in need and to keep everybody updated on me that followed me through my foster Mommy and foster brudders Facebook pages ~ so that is how I ended up with my very own FaceBook page!! 

And then the best part is my very talented Aunt Debra, who owns SewSweetProducts makes these amazing toys that you can get any picture on and have a cool toy for your fur baby that is custom made!! And with every toy that she sells, I receive a portion of the proceeds to help other fur babies in need.  I think every one needs to check out her FaceBook page   and her Esty store ~ that link is: I am most excited and blessed that we got this off the ground and I have started raising funds for fur babies in need ~ that was my whole goal with my FaceBook page, and now to see that actually happening, I just can't stop doing the Happy Kitty Dance!!!  I still can't believe we finally have started Diamond's P.I.F. Fund and I am getting to help other fur babies in need!!
 Somewhere along the line, I started signing all my posts "I LUBS y'all a billions" and ever since I did that, it kind of stuck with me and to this day, I use that as my "catch phrase" and many who did not really know me, now know me just by that!! So on all of my toys sold at my Aunt Debra's shop, if you get a picture of me on the product, you will also get that phrase too!  Many thanks everyone for letting me tell my story. I hopes you will stop by and visit me sometime. And remember, please help out those in need, especially the underdogs or under'cats' of the world. You never know what a difference you can make in one small life.


Monday, September 29, 2014

A true friend to animals

I've been truly blessed to have met some compassionate animal lovers recently since writing about my son's cat Piggy. Many people have such great stories to share of their pet rescue tales. In keeping with inspirational stories on my blog, I'd like to introduce author and animal lover Kristen Mott and her two furry feline companions. Listen as they tell us something in their own words.


My name is Odie, I’m an orange and white boy cat and I live on a small farm with my best friend Bandit, two horses, our girl, and her family. 

One cold winter night when I was just a tiny kitten, I lost my family. I was scared and alone and I happened to find a horse barn. I snuck in and fell asleep in a pile of hay. The next morning, my girl and Bandit found me and I knew that I had a forever home. I always thought that my girl saved me from life as a stray, but she tells me that I’m the one who saved her. I inspired her to follow her dream of writing and publishing children’s books. After all, the name Odie means inspiration. 

My favorite activities include climbing trees, pouncing on grasshoppers, and hunting in tall grass. I also like to take naps on the porch with Bandit. My girl says that I am always finding trouble, but I’m not really sure what that means. I’m just so happy to have a forever home with my girl and my animal friends.You can read my story in my girl’s first book Odie the Stray Kitten.  


Hi, I’m Bandit. I’m sure that Odie already told you a little about me and where I live. Odie is much younger than I am, but we are still best friends. I have lived on this farm for a long time, even before our girl lived here. 

I have lived a tough life. I was once a loved house cat but have also suffered through life in an animal shelter and as a stray before finding my forever home here on the farm. My experiences have left me with some scars and made me wise beyond my years, and I know that I will never leave this farm. I have a forever home here with my girl and my best friend Odie. 

My favorite activities include eating, hunting for rodents, eating, protecting my barn from intruders, sleeping on the porch, and eating. Odie and I wait on the porch for our girl every morning. We walk down to the barn and she feeds us breakfast. Then we start the day’s adventures. You can read all about my life in my girl’s second book Odie’s Best Friend. That’s the title because that’s exactly what I am. 


I’m Kristen Mott, children’s book author, wife, mother, animal caretaker and animal welfare advocate. I believe that children’s books are the only genre that can be enjoyed for multiple lifetimes. You enjoy these books as a child, then inevitably come back to the same stories and read them to your own children years later. 

I’m very proud of the work that I have done with the first two books in the Odie the Stray Kitten Series. Odie the Stray Kitten received the 2014 Children’s Literary Classics’ Seal of Approval, it won a 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award as well as a 2014 Purple Dragonfly Honorable Mention. Odie’s Best Friend was just released this year and has received multiple five star reviews. The third and final book in the series should be available in 2015. 

I am the girl in my stories, though I never mention myself by name. I live on the farm where I care for my family, our horses, and of course, Odie and Bandit. The animals inspire me. I feel that they often write the stories for me, I just edit them for children. I strive for my writing to encourage children to read, to write their own stories, and to have compassion for animals. 

Odie the Stray Kitten and Odie's Best Friend are both available on and other online retailers. They are also available in all ebook formats. Keep up with my books and events on my author website (, my blog ( or connect with me on Facebook ( 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Prayer for Al-Anon

 A woman makes a decision. Hands clasped before her, eyes closed, she whispers into the stillness of the night.

 Does my husband know what it feels like watching him self-destruct, worshipping the glass god, a bottle? 

Does he know what it feels like to have a sinking pit in my stomach, wondering, will this day be different? Is this the day he’ll stop drinking?

Does he know what it feels like worrying about our friends, wondering what they think of him? How he spoke with me that day in front of them? Are they talking behind our backs? Has he said something offensive or hurt them in any way? To know what it feels like making excuses for him?

Does he know what it feels like wondering what I’m doing wrong? Was it something I said that pushed him that day? To hear words pour forth from him like poison, knowing it isn’t really him talking, but the demons in his tortured soul.

Does he know what it feels like to hope this might be the day he stops drinking. He’s promised so many times before. I even watched him pour the whole bottle down the drain. To have hope, but feel it dashed away when he picks up that one drink.

 Does he know what it feels like sitting back at events, watching and waiting, not enjoying one moment as I count the drinks he’s having. To worry if this may be the time he goes too far and I have to explain why I’m driving home yet again. To answer his questions, ones he won’t even remember the next day. 

Does he know how close I’ve been to leaving, giving up and letting go? 

Does he know what it feels like when I cry into my pillow night after night? Shedding a trail of hot tears and clutching the blanket in my fist while I scream silently out to God in the lateness of the hour.
Does he know what it feels like holding these feelings in day after day with nobody to tell, with shame, fear and silence as my constant companions? 

Does he?

She cries out from her very soul. A feeling begins to wash over her.

 Dear Lord, does my husband know just how much you’ve given me the strength to believe, hope and trust even when it has felt hopeless and bleak? To empower me with the knowledge that one day he’ll be free, free of this bondage, this glass god he worships. To let you become the true Lord of his life and witness the power of your greatness, your healing, your mercy. To know every day is a miracle, a fresh start, a new beginning and for one more day, we can make it with you on our side.

Help me to know you better.  I want to completely surrender to your will. My husband has his own burdens. Please help me to see him in a different light.

She feels something break within her. She feels something else. Hope.  

A bible verse comes to her and with it, a promise.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Rising to her feet, the whole armor of God upon her, she knows she can go on.