Category Archives: Popular Posts 2014

How God Taught Me About Grace

I was a Christian for 26 years before I understood the concept of grace. Most preachers seem to dance around the subject, or they throw the word “grace” out there, but they don’t really explain it.

In 2010, I sat in my living room reading my Civil War manuscript. To start, my manuscript was a mess, which really discouraged me. I said to God, Why would you give me this book if it’s a mess? For years my mind saw a doctor and a nurse working together over an operating table. I knew they were romantically involved, even sexually, but I didn’t know the what, when, or how. I knew why the manuscript had been rejected: it was horrible! Then God spoke three little words to me: “I’ll help you.”

In January 2011, God taught me about grace. By Easter, my Civil War manuscript had changed dramatically. It required the most restructuring of all my books, including major rewrites.

By 2013, Blood, Innocence And Glory was completed, but I couldn’t find an agent. (I’ve already had 2 agents.) So I decided to publish the book myself. My Civil War book is a far cry from where it was, and I owe it all to God’s grace. Without God’s help, it would still be a mess.

So what is grace? First, let me tell you what grace is not. Grace is not…

  • Prayer and fasting
  • Quoting the Word a hundred times about prosperity, faith, or whatever else you might need
  • Making big donations every time a preacher asks (or begs) for money
  • Attending church whenever the doors open

Grace is simply trusting God to do what you can’t do. Grace is a manifestation of God’s great love for us. It’s knowing God wants us to succeed and live a good life; that we can trust God with all our needs. So I ceased from my own “good works,” and I learned to trust God. I mean, really, really trust Him. As I did, all my manuscripts changed dramatically, and I began to rest. And I owe this all to God!

If you have any grace testimonies, tell me what God has taught you. Post your answers in the comment area to the left. The person with the most touching testimony will receive one free copy of my book Blood, Innocence and Glory, a work of grace. The book sells for $15.26 on amazon, and I couldn’t have finished it without God’s grace.

This contest ends on December 1, 2014, so start posting and let’s have fun.



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Slavery In Illinois

Illinois was a Free State, right? Well, yes. And no.

Laura Plantation

Laura Plantation

The first people to settle Illinois were Native Americans. Then the French moved in and brought slavery with them. The first lieutenant governor of Illinois, Pierre Menard, owned slaves. You can visit his home in Ellis Grove, Illinois. Unfortunately, the slave cabins no longer exist. The French Colonial architecture is similar to the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. But yes, the French brought slaves into Illinois. In fact, the oldest towns in Illinois are French towns like Cahokia (1699), Kaskaskia (1703), and Prairie de Rocher (1722). It’s worth pointing out that many people in southern Illinois have their roots in Kentucky and Virginia, so they were sympathetic toward slavery.

Fast forward to the 1800s. Slaves were auctioned off in Market Square in Galena, Illinois, now a historic town in northwestern Illinois known for romantic getaways. It’s also home to several Civil War generals; the best known is Ulysses Grant. Rich Southerners owned mansions in Galena and brought their “servants” with them. Galena thrived from the 1840s until after the Civil War. It was a lead mining town, but many miners left once gold was discovered in California.

Illinois also allowed slaves to perform hard labor. John Crenshaw, a Southerner, in Equality, Illinois had slaves work his salt mines. He also captured free blacks and sold them into slavery. His house, known as Hickory Hill, will be the subject of another post.

Finally, the Dred Scott case of 1857 opened the door to slavery in all states. So slavery did exist in Illinois from French Colonial times onward. Southerners also brought their “servants” with them when they visited the North or lived up North.

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Slavery in Ancient Rome to Modern Times

Prostitutes of Ancient Rome belonged to a guild. They were called lupenare because they howled to lure their victims. Many prostitutes were slaves and had no choice in the matter. Far worse, child prostitution was accepted in Rome, for both boys and girls. Sadly, Roman emperors engaged in this perversion. Preaching the Gospel changed this, but this is a constant battle even today.

Slave Cabin, Laura Plantation

Slave Cabin, Laura Plantation

American history points out the horror of Black Slavery. However, slavery is nothing new. In Ancient Times, slaves were the spoils of war. Whenever a new shipment of exotic slaves came to Rome, people rushed to buy them. Later, pirates of the Barberry Coast in North Africa captured white women off ships to sell them into harems and brothels. White men were sold as galley slaves in ships. A monastic order in Rome worked hard to ransom people back from White Slavery. The North Africans raided coastal towns as far away as Ireland and Iceland. This practice went on for 600 years; whereas, American slavery lasted less than 250 years. One line in the Marine Hymn reads, “to the shores of Tripoli.” This refers to President Jefferson sending  American Marines to Tripoli to stop pirates from taking sailors off American ships.

Fast forward….If you study Chinese history, you’ll know Chinese women were treated with disdain. Some were sold for pennies in China. Where did they go? To American brothels on the West Coast. This was called Yellow Slavery. Chinese women worked in cribs and brothels until they dropped dead from disease. This started in the 1850s and lasted into the 1920s. Enter: Donaldina Cameron, a street evangelist in the 1870s, who raided cribs and brothels wielding her ax. She and her helpers rescued 3,000 Chinese slaves, bringing them back to her mission to rehabilitate them.

Forward to recent times. During the George W. Bush administration, brothels were raided in California, where women from Central America had been chained to beds to service 10 to 15 men a day. Their Hispanic madams lured them to the United States with the promise of great jobs. These young women were recruited from villages in Central America. As a result, Congress passed a law to protect these women, giving them legal rights and protection. This law is now being abused as thousands of illegals flood America’s borders, who are not victims of sex trafficking.

Sadly, slavery/sex trafficking exists all over the world and must constantly be fought against. Widows, orphans, and the poor are usually exploited. Women At Risk helps women escape sex trafficking and exploitation, as does Reclaim13. Unfortunately, slavery is nothing new, and it has affected people from every racial spectrum.


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For Such A Time As This

First published in 2003, For Such A Time As This is one of my favorite novels, but my original publisher did me a disservice: they produced lousy cover design, lousy interior design; they offered little to no editing, and they had no distribution network. So why did I go with them? I was young and naïve. Years later, I’m a better writer, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Tragic Miss Sanders

Tragic Miss Sanders

Why is this novel important? It was inspired by characters from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, a work of genius that is still performed by theater groups in Illinois. I fell in love with Masters’ poetry when I read it, and thus created the characters of Evelyn Sanders and Will Garrett. Toward the end of my novel, the main character Jill McKendrick states, “What will they say about me when I’m gone?” This theme haunts all of us. Though short-lived, lovely Miss Sanders certainly left her mark on the world, especially on her students. This is the whole point of Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. His characters cry out from the grave: What do they say about me now that I’m gone?

When I studied in Rome, I was downstairs in my university library browsing through the stacks, and low and behold, I found a book by Edgar Lee Masters. As I perused the book, I discovered that he’d written a poem about a historic lock tender’s house on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

During the summers, I worked at a state park along the Illinois and Michigan Canal. One day we worked inside the 1840s lock tender’s house Masters had written about, except we called it Ranger Bob’s house. My friend and I had the inglorious distinction of ruining this historical monument. Ranger Bob told us to wash the walls in his living room; he gave us such strong detergent, not only did it clean the walls; it took the paint right off!

So when I read about Ranger Bob’s house 3,000 miles away from home, I couldn’t help but laugh. Nevertheless, Master’s poetry left a mark on me, and I hope you enjoy my new edition of For Such A Time As This.

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