My great grandfather who founded a church with 9 other men in 1890's

Do you want to discover more family history?

Recently, I was talking to an older lady who wished she’d asked her parents more questions about their lives and relations. I could have said the same thing. I never asked either of my parents about their early life. My mother just told me snippets that grabbed my interest such as my grandmother’s love of visiting churches and her enjoyment of flowers. This came up because my mother saw my own keen interest in our local cathedral in Canterbury. Years later, I discovered that my great grandfather was a Welsh Baptist who helped found a church in Ynyshir, South Wales. Being involved in church ministry, I was delighted with this information which is an important part of my heritage. We became Anglicans after my parents moved to Kent in 1929 but my love of the Bible I feel sure comes from my Welsh family background.

Have you got questions about your own family members who have died? If so, I suggest you ask anyone old enough to remember them to tell you all they know. If they have links with the UK, there are many records on line through Ancestry and also through the Family Records Centre in London UK. In the past, I helped an older lady who thought her family had come to Canada after 1881. A check on the 1901 census in Alberta proved that one great-uncle was born in Ontario in 1865 so she had to re-think when the family came here.

Looking at local history of South Western Ontario, I find many families came as loyalists from USA in the late18th century and quite a few pioneers came from Scotland in the early 19th century. Their names have now been used for local roads and their families still live in our area. It is fascinating to think of settlers who were part of the local militia during the War of 1812-14 and the 1838 rebellion. This past summer, two Church members ensured that their loyal ancestors were acknowledged in restored stones commemorating their part in the 1812-14 War. Visiting one site in a bush, we could imagine how people lived so long ago. I read The Trail of the Black Walnut by G Elmore Reaman published in 1957. It is an absorbing account of what happened to one group of these Loyalists–the thousands of men and women known as the Pennsylvania Dutch who toiled through a trackless wilderness to reach Upper Canada.

Another lady I knew came from Russia along with many Mennonites who were escaping persecution in the early part of the 20th century. It was a hair raising journey to get here. They also spoke German and there was intermarriage with German immigrants too. Some family names were changed because the numerator could not spell or because they chose to blend in; that was hard on the family, I’m sure.

Does your family has a special story to tell, one that you could take pride in knowing? There is always a chance to find out. There are also many useful sites on the internet which help with immigration. PIER 21 has a website for those who landed first in Halifax and I realize we did just that in 1965. Through that website we discovered the actual name of a boat one man’s family came on from Ireland. The University of Waterloo( has also done plenty of research on immigrants and the way they arrived here too. Local History and Genealogical Societies have much to offer. Through our local HEIRS resource centre(, I discovered land records and found that our present home was rented before 1870! Now I need to track backwards to see if there is an early sale of land.

We are fortunate these days to have so many resources on the internet that help us be more accurate when we write up any family history. Fall is a great time to consider doing this. The children are back at school and you can take the time for a quiet chat with an older relative.

You can help to leave a treasure of information for your children. Just think of the possibilities. I will continue this theme in my next few blogs with more useful ideas.

Bringing Hope and Joy through Positive Help

African Choir

At a concert today , I discovered how money from us can feed and educate many children. I went to hear Uganda Children’s Choir at 11am after church. I first heard them in 1988, again in the 1990’s and 2004 .Every time I have been bowled over by the joyfulness of these young children(7-11 years old) as they sing. They are full of the Holy Spirit and wonderfully alive to the rhythmic music of praise songs and newer African songs.  The program called Music for Life has spread to several African countries and over 30 years, has benefited 52,000 children.

At the church  about 600 people were watching them and choosing to donate to their needs. We were shown a film of the poverty in Uganda and then shown the children in a school where they are cared for and taught all subjects so eventually they can help their families and country . They are well fed and some of our small donations go towards an improvement of life for them. They each told us about what they’d like to be in future and they were most specific; their ambitions ranged from being a policeman to being a nurse, a pilot, a teacher and a dentist. With positive encouragement and experiences from travelling as a choir, they have the chance to make their goal.

Another organisation I love is the Gospel for Asia (    which builds ‘Jesus Wells’ in different villages, feeds people physically and spiritually and helps in emergencies such as the one in Nepal. We need to knock down walls of poverty little by little.  With God’s help through prayer we can do this. GAF has a program called Bridge of Hope that constantly allows poor children to get help in life. There they are housed, educated and helped to discover the joy that is possible in life. In the same way the Christian Blind Mission ( has expanded its work to help children with all kinds of disabilities all over the world. They are even using the benefits of 3D printing to make prostheses for legs and arms right where they are needed. Having seen how this improves life for children I admire the marvellous efforts of these Christian organisations.

How sad that there are places in the world where some are actively keeping refugees out. Maybe one day there will be more compassion less violence, more understanding and a welcoming attitude.. I do realize that more people are a burden on a small country but through agencies cooperating, there could be further developments to help families in need. Doctors without Borders ( ) have done a wonderful job to stop the spread of diseases as well as care for the poor in many camps Our support of the many wonderful organisations can give those of us, better off, an opportunity to bring some hope and joy into young lives.

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People who have influenced me for the Better


I have added to my original blog of 4 years ago and inserted a family picture today, July 28th 2015.

Originally posted on Living Life with Joy:

My mother and some of her brothers and sisters. My mother and some of her brothers and sisters.

Having to write a sketch of someone in my life for a writers meeting, made me think of people who have directly influenced my own direction in life. I also looked up to some wonderful people who imitated Christ in the way they lived for other people. They  became my heroes, exemplifying the best way to leave one’s mark on the world.

I had several godly women in my life who set me an example of kindness to others, faith in God and especially loving one another. My mother was a busy shop owner who loved Jesus;  she always put us first in her thoughts.  She encouraged us at school, would not take “I can’t” for an answer and always told us to remember those who had been kind to us. Another dictum of hers was, “If it isn’t honest, helpful or…

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How I overcame Writer’s Block

For weeks, after trying to start a new historical novel, I seemed unable to concentrate and generate ideas on paper. Family concerns were uppermost in my mind  and I filled days being busy with jobs, sorting and tidying. I did anything other than write!

Then I tried reading outside my own arena as it were and that helped. I enjoy Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks mysteries; reading them took me back to England, revealed characters I got involved with and opened my mind to possible solutions about how to build momentum. I also noted how Robinson planned his novels and how the different factors knitted together to make sense at the end.

Each night, I read some of Joan Chittister’s  The Heart of the Temple which was inspiring . I was moved by her clear thoughts and her challenges to me as a woman. I knew I wanted to write about two women from different cultures who were determined and independent. One had faith in God; the other relied on the Great Spirit, the Creator. There was a bond that both women could appreciate, I felt and it would keep them in touch. But that was for later in the novel.

I just had to get started in a way that would show how these two met. By day, I mapped out ideas more and wrote character sketches but that wasn’t enough to get me started. I had been reading so many books close to a topic that interested me that I was getting too many conflicting ideas. How would I hook my reader and hold her attention? I needed direction so I took a new route.

I spent time listening to The Art of Creative Fiction, a series of lectures I picked up from Great Courses. The lecturer, a woman, emphasized the value of creating good fiction based on sound facts. That fitted with all the research I had done and the lecturer made some good points about ways to bring out the characteristics of one’s hero and reveal relationships through vivid conversations and actions. She also gave examples about how to grab a reader in the opening sentences. This was just what I needed to encourage me to get back to the ‘drawing board.’

I began to write. I saw a way to hook my readers by having a dramatic capture of my main heroine soon after the book began. I involved others with whom she travelled and I was soon engrossed again. Then I Tecumapese at 22years ch 5003_edited-1[1]introduced a wonderful young Shawnee woman who would Young Catharine Chapter 1become her friend, showing her anxiously waiting for her husband’s return. With him were many captives and my Catharine Malott was among them. That led to her first meeting Tecumapese and the story developed naturally from that point.

Spending time in different books as well as getting out of the novel I was trying to grapple with, made all the difference. I returned with new ideas and energy. I also found a fresh way of writing each chapter from different points of view. It took me two years to produce a 43,000 word novel but all the effort was worth it when I had a printed copy of Two at the Crossroads in my hands.

This book is available from Jane at www. Please contact her.

Discovering Joy in Different Ways

Sometime ago, last summer, I had the joy of holding a new baby girl; I marvelled at how wonderfully created she was with a sweet smile even for me, a stranger. Babies always give us joy.  But, as the children grow the joys change. When our grandson was very small, he loved to help in our greenhouse so I got him a small watering can and one of my favourite pictures is seeing his face beaming as he watered plants. He is now in  33 but I still feel a real tingle thinking of those days with him. He still loves digging in dirt and grows his own vegetables.

I also remember the wonderful laughter of our daughter when she played with the dog or cat. She still loves animals so I am glad we brought all our children up with animals around. They learn to be kind to animals and to be patient too. They get joy from playing with them and seeing them do tricks. One of our boys taught our dog to roll over and shake hands with one word commands. We all had a thrill from that. It is often the simplest of pleasures that bring us joy.

One of my favourite times is sitting outside with children and showing them the wonderful sunsets God provides for us. I could never paint anything close to it and it has given me joy to point out such wonders of creation to our children. Having fun with children in the piles of autumn leaves brings us all so much joy too.

Last weekend we had a church picnic outside in lovely sunshine. In spite of the June bugs, we had a lovely time being together. Eighty one people turned up on Fathers Day with an amazing array of food and a pig roast donated by one of our congregation that was delicious. As well as food we worshipped together in the lovely fresh air and enjoyed the music of the Praise band and singers. Everyone was smiling and I sensed a thankfulness amongst us even though one  family had lost a daughter earlier this year and another family had recently lost babies still born, In their own sadness they recognised the love others offered them and caught the joy that comes from having good friends surround them.

Jesus always enjoyed a party; He was sociable at a wedding and at numerous dinners with the rich and the poor. He said he came to help us to have a more abundant life and to make our joy complete. To do that, he had to suffer for us but His resurrection brought new joy and hope to His disciples. Knowing the joy we will have one day with Him and God  in heaven, I can find joy in just serving God by visiting the sick and lifting the spirits of those who are old or lonely. We have so many opportunities to bring joy to family, friends and others in our community.  I feel very fortunate to serve in my church as a lay reader and pastoral visitor.

The Privilege of Helping Others

For just over 25 years, I have been a volunteer with The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County.Most of those years were spent visiting the oncology wards at our local hospital. I always feel privileged to be able to listen to people who need a listening ear and a caring heart. I admire their courage in the face of a possible terminal illness and their hope of having some quality time with their families.

Hospice has a wonderful program to teach us how to help patients in hospital and at home. I have done the course of eight weeks twice and found I have learned so much about how to respect a person’s privacy and choices and how to recognize when I need to stay or leave a room. We are given many clues to recognize pain and when to ask if we may get a nurse for someone. I have recently done an advanced palliative care course to have a deeper understanding of the level of support needed.

Doctors, trained palliative nurses and social workers have given us talks over the years. Not only has it helped us improve our own responses towards patients, it has also made us more knowledgeable for our own families if someone is ill. In addition to Hospice training, I have had extra courses from my own Anglican Church which have made me see the importance of spiritual care for anyone who is sick. These courses have given me more confidence and made me more competent to pray for or  with terminally ill patients.

One of the services we have done for patients is to help them tell their life stories. Some years ago, I was visiting a lady who had a short time to live and she asked a nurse if anyone could write her life story. As an author, I was called in to see if I would do it. I was delighted to help and, using a digital tape recorder, I sat by her and just let her talk about her life. Then I went home and wrote up what she said. We had three sessions before she died and I was able to give her husband and daughter a CD of her speaking as well as making a small book for the family. The husband was glad to have something to do and chose pictures to put with the text. He told me a little more that I added and , in all, I felt rewarded by giving him and the family something to treasure. Since then other Hospice volunteers and I have recorded patients’ stories and usually written them up for the family.

Another way we volunteer is by visiting people at home;they are often at a low ebb and a visit can make them feel better. We can help with a snack or just listen to their concerns. On occasions I have driven someone to an appointment; the person is so grateful for that help that again it is a privilege to be involved in a caring way.

My own belief as a Christian is to be  “God’s heart, hands and feet” here on earth while I can be. This kind of volunteering is not strenuous and adds so much joy for anyone who is sick. I also do pastoral visiting in my parish and find it rewarding as we have many lonely people who look forward to visitors. I know I can do none of this work without God’s help so prayer is important in my life.

As a result of one experience at the hospital when i was asked to speak to a small girl who was upset by her grandmother’s illness, I wrote a book. It is called Nana, I miss you.  The Hospice director loved it and I wrote a little of the history of our local Hospice in the book, after the story. The book is still available from me  for use with children.Nana cover Catalogue003

Working as a volunteer and in our parish has made me feel my life has been most worthwhile beyond being a wife, mother, teacher and friend. I love meeting people and my association with Hospice has been a great education that is on-going. I have learned to listen more and my reliance on God has increased as I find more to do and more people to pray for.

My aunt used to sing a song which I loved. She was a big influence on my childhood faith. The song says,”If I can help somebody as I go along, then my living will not be in vain.”. The volunteering experience has shown me the value of helping in the community in which I live. For that I am most thankful.

Enjoying Children’s Successes

For  months our grand-daughter was part of a dance group at school practising for a competition in Niagara Falls. She never said much about it except that there were lots of steps to learn. Sometimes she’d be pleased and another time frustrated as they didn’t know what they’d wear till the last week. We kept hoping we could see the dances but we were put off.

Last weekend the girls went off to compete for three days. When they came back , they had good news. They had won one first and a second position in the competition. We were all thrilled that their long months of practice had paid off. In addition our grand daughter left at age fourteen and returned on her fifteenth birthday. I think she will never forget this birthday in 2015 and the joy she had being part of the dance group.

We were all able to share her joy on her return and now we know we are going to see their performance in June. It is not only rewarding for Mayia and her friends but also for the school teacher who put in so many extra hours teaching them. It is so good to be able to rejoice in children’s successes.

I remember my own brother getting first prize for his singing as a boy soprano and later much success as a tenor singing as Feste in Twelfth Night. We were all so proud of him then. My parents were equally proud of our academic achievements because they saw a future for us both. My brother eventually became a doctor and I went on to teach. We knew it gave us a good life and my mother’s hard work and encouragement in particular helped to make it happen.

Taking joy in our children’s success is natural and heart warming for them.I am sure you will have experienced times like that in your life. Please share them if you can.