Covering my angst with the soothing wisdom from my mother's prayer journals

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Benefits of Gratitude are Scientifically Proven – Increase Your Doseage

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An article in Psychology Today listed seven scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  1. It opens the door to more relationships.
  2. It improves physical health,
  3. Gratitude Improves psychological health.
  4. It enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  7. It increases mental strength.

I know all the above, yet I often pass up opportunities to practice appreciation and have had the same feeling one of our grandsons shared after opening Christmas presents several years ago.

He sat amid the shreds of red and green wrapping paper looking forlornly at a pile of age appropriate and unnecessary gifts. Feeling concerned I asked, “Didn’t you like the things you got?”

He replied, “Yes, but I was hoping for more.”

It was an honest answer and I understood because the Christmas of my fourteenth year left me with the same adolescent disappointment. There were so many things I wanted and so few gifts at hand. My ingratitude reflected my immaturity.

I’m not sure when I began seeing the glass half full rather than half empty, but I know Mother was an agent for that change. She recognized a blessing and was quick to point it out. Our trips back and forth from my grandmother’s house were full of oohs and aahs over every pastoral scene down HWY 45 South even though we’d made that trip hundreds of times. As a child of the Depression, she could have easily become bitter and negative, but she intentionally chose gratitude.

When our beautiful baby boy arrived with severe mental and physical challenges, he became my gratitude guide. Though I was a reluctant participant at first, his gleeful shrieks and unfailing persistence made me realize how much most of us take for granted. We were grateful for any hard won achievement no matter how small or how long it took to accomplish.

When he was three he woke us in the night humming Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. No words, just a perfect melody. The next Christmas Mother gave him his first of many radios that became his lifeline.

He has quite a repertoire. He will hum a few bars of one of his favorite songs then stop and wait for someone to finish the tune. It’s our version of Name That Tune most often played when we’re traveling. Recently his first request was Jingle Bells. My Bass Singer and I immediately identified that tune and commenced a hearty rendition.  It pleased Matt and when we finished he followed with Jesus Loves Me.

As we responded to that lovely song, a little blessing was revealed in the form of a sweet spirit of gratitude, laughter and joy. I didn’t “hope for more’.  This was more than I deserved.

In her journal Mother wrote, ”The only genuine source of happiness is God, and we receive lasting joy only through expressing gratitude to Him. Seek God and live as he directs you and true joy will soon follow.”

Making gratitude a daily practice confers a whole host of health benefits from improved immune systems, to feelings of connectedness.  I just have to take regular doses.







Heart Whispers from the Old Testament – My New Writing Project



Everybody needs a hobby and writing is mine. When Mother gifted me her prayer journals the Christmas before she passed away, I realized her wisdom needed to be shared so I started a blog of family faith stories each ending with an entry from Mother’s journals.

I had no confidence in my abilities as a writer and was reluctant to put my name into the blogosphere so I wrote under the name of my imaginary childhood friend, Ann Cocktale.

For two years I blogged every day and eventually the blog posts became my first book, In My Mother’s Words. With the help of my best buddy, Don McLeary and life-long friend, Polly Spencer, we uploaded the book to Kindle. A few months later, In My Mother’s Words became available in paperback, and the lovely Leah Ashby held a book signing at The Potter’s Garden ( I miss her!)

Self-publishing made me an Indy Writer (independent) which meant I could “piddle” around on various internet author pages. It also gave me the opportunity to have a Twitter interview which was not only nerve-wracking but disconcerting as well. The # and @ along with short answers did me in. Before ending the interview and suggesting I stick to Facebook Q &A’s, the interviewer asked if I had other projects in the works.

Before her question, I hadn’t thought about another book, but on the spot I decided I did have a project in mind and replied, “Yes, I’m going to write a devotional book and use more of Mother’s journal entries”

I just finished that devotional book, Heart Whispers from the Old Testament. I intended to write an entry for each day of the year using scriptures through the whole Bible and match each one with an entry from Mother’s journal, but I never got out of the Old Testament.

Like us, those folks were a hot mess. As in our society, God spoke to those who took time to listen. While I read the ancient scriptures, I heard whispers of hope I wanted to share. Heart Whispers from the Old Testament was written with my grandchildren in mind.

Mother wrote in her journal, “Life always has more questions than we have answers, and we must constantly go to His Word for fresh insights in to life’s dilemmas.”

I pray that God’s people will hold to the confidence in Him and go to the Bible for wisdom and fresh insight. He always speaks when we listen.

If you would like a copy of Heart Whispers from the Old Testament, click on the link below.

Thank you and I pray you continue hearing His whispers.

Mary McLeary



The Skunk in the Organ

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On a recent Sunday morning my life-long friend, Ann Cocktale, decided to warm up the rarely used church organ in her small country church hoping her talented pastor would take the hint and bless the faithful congregation with a prelude before the morning sermon.

Ann began a lively rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” when a scratching noise erupted from the base of the organ.

“A mouse,” she thought as she began the second verse, but by the time she arrived at the chorus the scratching was easily heard in the first pew. “Possibly a whole mouse family,” Ann mused and hurriedly dismounted the bench.

By the time her feet hit the floor, the scratching was so frantic that the whole congregation looked uneasy because back in the spring the elder charged with opening the doors each Sunday smelled a skunk when he entered the building.

Proceeding to the restroom, he reached for the room spray and returned to the sanctuary where he vigorously attempted to replace the skunks’ smell with Scent of Lilac.

Monday morning he called a local exterminator who put out traps and, after catching the same cat three different times, managed to dispose of the skunks and fumigate the church.

That recent experience was on the minds of the whole congregation who as one body decided the skunk, now obviously dwelling in their organ, was determined to get out.

The scratching intensified to sonic proportions as Ann galloped to the back of the church and the “menfolk” armed themselves in preparation for an impending Armageddon. The clamor was unnerving.

The holy warriors settled on a strategy that included mop and broom handles and they were about to launch an attack when the wisest among them had a revelation and yelled, “Wait a minute!”

Cautiously approaching the organ, he climbed up on the bench, reached out his hand and flipped off the organ switch.

There was an instant silence. Apparently the noise was coming from the worn out speakers of the old unused instrument.

Mother wrote in her journal, “Today as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with Him. Keep that relationship new and fresh with a daily practice regime of Bible study and prayer.”   

Ann’s fellow worshippers got a big laugh out of the skunk in the organ, but Ann said, “It reminded me that unless I do stay close to Him, I could very well become a noisy mess – just like that old organ.”


I’m Hosting Shirley Harris-Slaughter, Author of Our Lady of Victory:The Saga of an African American Catholic Community

Our Lady of Victory


Since writing In My Mother’s Words, I have had the opportunity to meet many other authors, and one of them is Nonnie Jules whose books Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’s Friend and The Good Mommies’ Guide to Raising (Almost) Perfect Daughter’s have become hits with a wide range of readers.

This vivacious and generous lady is also the president of Rave Reviews Book Club, a wonderful place of support for independent authors.

When Nonnie asked me to introduce Shirley Slaughter on my blog this week so readers could get to know her, I was honored.

Author Shirley Harris-Slaughter wrote a compelling story of a growing Black Catholic parish, Our Lady of Victory, founded in 1943 in Detroit, MI. She highlights both the joys and struggles of  parish school and church during a difficult time.

This book gives insight into the journey of the parishioners in this community who persevered in their faith and the progress they made over many years.

When Shirley Harris –Slaughter wrote Our Lady of Victory: The Saga of an African American Catholic Community, she paid a beautiful tribute to the church that obviously made such an impact on her life.

 Her research and attention to details provide an interesting glimpse into the events of the church, the school, and the community.

I am honored to host Shirley on my blog this week. Here she shares the story of a fallen hero – her brother.Author (2)


He’s my brother and I miss him terribly, especially around the holidays; in particular Memorial Day. This past holiday had me in a depression again because there was never any closure. So I found myself writing my congressman a FB letter. Here is the gist of it…

Dear Congressman Peters:

Today is Memorial Day and it pains me once again, that I never hear anything about what happened to my brother killed in the line of duty on August 24, 1965. There were 75 men aboard a plane that exploded over the Hong Kong River and Ronald’s remains were never found. There was a military funeral without a body which was the most horrific experience of my life. Only a dog tag was in the empty coffin.

I tried over the years to alert someone about his story. I joined the Michigan Vietnam Monument Commission out of Lansing – nothing there. I told them his story but nothing ever came of it.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) featured him in a memorial on Facebook and that’s about it. They ask for donations every year and I sent a letter once on August 28, 2012, to attention Jan C. Scruggs, but she never responded back. Here’s brother’s information.

  Lance Corporal Ronald Louis Powell

Killed in Action August 24, 1965

Cause: Plane Crash over Hong Kong River

Assigned: 3rd Service Battalion, 3rd Marine Division

Name is listed on Wall in Washington DC (Panel 5E/Line 60)

Detroit News ran the story August 27, 1965

 I keep wondering (except for the Detroit News article) why there were never any stories or news or memorials about this catastrophic event. The other men’s families must be wondering as well.  Michigan (Oakland & Wayne counties) had the only soldier, my brother, to die like that in that year. There are no memorials mentioning these brave men. My brother’s name is carved on the “Wall” in Washington DC and I got the chance to visit it once in my life in 1992. I burst into tears. It was very emotional.

I’m emotional right now because I feel all alone in my grief but I am not going to plead anymore for somebody to take notice of this event.  Somehow it never occurred to me to contact my state representative until now to help me find out why no one is talking about it – not even the military.

Needless to say I got a phone call the very next day and the congressman’s office started an investigation. It’s going to take some time but I expect to hear back from them with a full report.

In the meantime in the age of the internet, my niece went online and discovered that it was pilot error that killed 56 out of 75 men on board. Funny, my family never heard anything about an error. Nor were we aware of any survivors. As a matter of fact we got no explanation as to what happened period, and therein lies my problem with this whole matter.

Ronald was an amazing person and a natural leader. Everybody respected him because he could stand up against the best of them.

Details of my brother’s amazing story can be found in the book.  There is a photo display of the Wall with Ronald’s name and details on the military funeral. Click here for your choice of a Hardcover Limited Edition(s) or paperback.

In her journal Mother wrote, “The school of sorrows graduates exceptional scholars.”

Thank you, Shirley, for sharing this with us. I look forward to reading  more of your work.

Book Trailer:


The Wilderness Journey

Today I read from The Book, “What wonders will our Guide show us in the wilderness?” A trip through the wilderness isn’t my idea of a fun trip. I would rather go to the beach, but at some point we will all visit the wilderness.

To make the trip successfully, you need an expert Guide to help you avoid disaster and make sure you appreciate the rare sights this painful trip offers. He will teach you to live by active faith rather than passive faith because the wilderness trip demands action – claim a word, hold to a principle, and believe.

When a couple had a child with multiple handicaps, life seemed like an unfamiliar wilderness and everyday was an act of faith. The Guide was faithful and the child has always been provided for and loved. Active faith has seen him reach his fortieth birthday when the doctors said he wouldn’t reach his first.

Another dear person had to apply active faith in a heartbreaking circumstance. Passive faith said, “Just endure; don’t do anything and take the anger and pain that will come.” Active faith said, “You have learned from the experience of another so you have the knowledge and the courage you need for action.”

With active faith she walked through a wilderness that once seemed unthinkable to her and a blessing was eventually delivered in the person of her baby son – healthy, strong and born for a purpose.

A mom and dad, whose greatest desire was to see their children’s spiritual roots grow deep, packed up their belongings, put their house on the market and moved in with her parents. He left a head coaching job with a state championship team to be an assistant.

The journey through that wilderness took over a year, but little by little the journey paid off and the whole family thrived spiritually and professionally.

Active faith is not reckless abandonment. It is purposely following The Guide through unfamiliar territory while expecting Him to safely lead you.

In Mother’s journal she wrote, “Do you believe He is able to do this? He deals with impossibilities. It is never too late for Him to do this as long as that which is impossible is brought to Him in complete faith.”

When asked to make the wilderness journey, follow The Guide. He will bring you through and when the that particular journey is over, you’ll be a stronger person.

This post is from my book In My Mother’s Words. It is available on Kindle or in paperback from
Thank you for visiting I appreciate your time and support.

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Friends at Gulf Shore With I Phones and Apps

I don’t usually leave my home state in October because that’s when she is at her best. The cotton, corn and soybean fields get buzz cuts by savvy farmers who have learned to use technology and the latest apps to make their difficult jobs a little easier.

They know that organic fertilizer can be applied to bare earth just before a rain to minimize the odor and maximize the hopeful outcome. Week before last, a local farmer applied said fertilizer early in the day drawing flies and causing my sister-in-law to grab her IPhone and send this text message,

“Pooh alert! Stay inside!!”

That night the rains came and the thirsty earth soaked up the needed nutrients along with the unwanted odor. Winter wheat was sown soon after and now our land scape is a lush green.

Traveling across the state allows us to cross the river which is now lined with trees sporting vivid fall colors.

The orange was an especially nice precursor for trips further east to watch football games in Neyland Stadium.

Because October here is beautiful I am reluctant to leave, but when we were given an opportunity to visit the Gulf Coast for a few days with friends, we took it.

I lack the skill it takes to accurately describe this particular group who have been friends for years and shared life experiences that run the gambit from hilarious to devastating. Their faith in Him and their loyalty to each other make them exceptional.

Every day the temps were in the low seventies and the sky a spectacular blue; a perfect time to take long walks, soak in the sun, talk and eat.

The warmest day was a sunny yet brisk seventy degrees and braver souls decided to float the Lazy River. It was a great idea when we were actually on the inner tubes. Getting on and off them was icy and caused squeals of laughter and a few inappropriate words (from me).

This group reflected the times; each carried an IPhone and each was a wealth of information about useful apps. Those on Twitter helped enroll and tutor those who were not causing funny Tweets to ensue.

While we sat around the table after dinner one evening, with our heads bowed over our phones, conversations were carried on as we multi-tasked on our social networks.

Looking up with a laugh, the teacher of gifted students coined a phrase when she said,

“Look at us just sitting around tapping and apping”.

Mother wrote in her journal, “The word blessed means the experience of hope and joy, independent of outward circumstances. To find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness, follow Jesus no matter what the cost.”

When we got back home, October was almost gone. Time flies when He fills beautiful days with family and friends. I know how blessed I am.

Thank you for visiting I appreciate your time. For more faith stories and words of wisdom from Mother’s journal, visit and purchase my book, In My Mother’s Words. (See the link on the home page of my blog).

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Josh Reviewed In My Mother’s Words

054Josh recently reviewed my book, In My Mother’s Words. I appreciate his time and the rating of 4 of a possible 5 stars.

At Quieted Waters, Josh talks about books and his faith. It’s a nice place to visit.

Here is Josh’s review.

As my own grandparents have gotten older, I have begun to realize how little I know about their lives. I realize that I know the last decade of their lives, but I have heard almost no stories about the other seven or eight decades. I wish more of their histories were written down or passed down to us younger generations.

Mary McLeary saw a similar need to share her mother’s life and stories with younger generations. When Mary was given her mother’s prayer journals, she was moved by the faith and wisdom she found in them, and she wanted to find a way to share those stories with others. Mary began by writing a few blog posts, each based on a passage from her mother’s journals.

When that blog began to gain a following, Mary saw that a wider audience existed. In order to share her mother’s stories with more people, Mary began to write what later became the book titled In My Mother’s Words.

This book is a collection of single-page short stories, each focused on an entry from Mother’s prayer journals. Mary writes in a friendly tone, and much of this book feels like Mary sharing family stories around the dinner table. This book strikes me as a fantastic gift to the McLeary family. It is a beautiful collection of wisdom from two generations of godly women. Mary shares the faith and wisdom of her mother, and she adds in her own perspective on that wisdom.

Mary’s stories are primarily parables, illustrating godly wisdom through everyday events. Family, friends, and job experiences are the most common topics in these pages, and each story is selected to illustrate a lesson from Mother’s prayer journals. In that sense, In My Mother’s Words could be seen as a devotional, as each short entry offers a spiritual lesson that can be quickly read and easily remembered.

This was a pleasant book to read, and I enjoyed reading a few pages every night. You’ll appreciate Mary’s book most if you read it in several short sittings, because that will allow you to absorb each lesson. Finally, let me recommend In My Mother’s Words as a great encouragement to make the most of the time you have with your older relatives. We can all learn from Mary’s appreciation for her mother’s wisdom.

Thank you, Mary, for providing me with a free, signed copy of your book in exchange for my honest review! Help other customers find the most helpful reviews