We Believe in Second Chances

I listened to President, Donald Trump give recognition to “Former Prisoners” in Las Vegas last week. He said to them: “We believe in second chances” – which was an inspiration that they had a second chance to move on and make something better out of their life.

Where would you and I be today without second chances?  Like when we were kids and a teacher gave us another chance to make a better grade on a test, or as adults when a police officer says: “I’m just giving you a warning this time.” It could even be the second chance we get when someone forgives us and we get a second chance to nurture a relationship.  

There are many success stories of people who have failed at first, but they kept trying and finally got it right. Many famous people had second chances to get it right. Like the wire in the hand of Alexander Graham Bell that became a telephone, or the spark inside a small glass dome in the workshop of Thomas Edison that became electricity. The vaccines and anti-biotics that finally work, after several attempts in the laboratories.  Without second chances to keep trying, our world would be much different.

The greatest “second chance stories” are perhaps those found in the Bible. Like the repenting thief hanging on a cross next to Jesus. The Lord said to him, “Today you will be with me in paradise“.  Or to the adulteress who heard the words from Jesus, “neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more.”

Sometimes it’s hard to give a second chance when we’ve been taken advantage of. Harder yet, to forgive when someone has really hurt us deep. 

I believe in second chances because I often need them, and thankfully I have had many. 


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Plants, Pets, and Vidalia Onions

There have been some interesting studies on pets and plants and the effect they have on their owners. Things like stress reduction, lowering blood pressure and in some cases, thought to lengthen life.

I think of my wonderful Jack Russel Terriers that were with me for 16 years. (Pictured) They were a handful. My husband and I were forced to rule them with an iron fist because they fought. I honestly believe they were by-polar – if dogs can have psychological problems. One day they loved each other and would cuddle in the same bed, the next day they were growling and fighting. The best thing about them was their loyalty and unconditional love toward us. Believe it or not, they were so smart we often spelled words so they wouldn’t know what we were up to.

As for plants… I love to work in my patio garden, but the green thumb belongs to my husband. He knows how to groom a lawn to perfection, and grow scrumptious vegetables. When we lived for a short while in the south, he grew the most delicious turnip greens and the sweetest Vidalia onions I’ve ever tasted.

Speaking of plants, my neighbor is on a cruise in the Mediterranean. She asked if I would take care of her Peace Lily for three weeks. Sure! No problem. So her husband brought it over just before the uber driver pulled onto their driveway. The pot was so heavy I had to ask him to come in and set it down for me. I was shocked! All along I had been expecting something small, like a little African Violet. After he left, I realized I was in charge of a prized plant. After all, nothing that large could be trivial! Oh gosh, what would I do if it died while they were enjoying Rome and Israel? It’s like babysitting a child — hoping while it’s in your care they don’t get hurt or sick.

Okay, I can do this  — two thirds of water a day. Maybe talk to it a little too.

Emergency Alert: The Secret Place

I am not frightened, but I am very concerned. It is 6:21 a.m. as I write this, but I’ve been awake since 4:15 this morning because Monroe County called to announce that the 911 lines were down.  Wide awake now, I picked up my cell phone to check messages and saw the ALERT – Corona virus is likely to get out of control – many nations reporting confirmed cases. It’s here in the US – six cases, but the virus is spreading all over the world. Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Britain – the list goes on and on. The global health organization has now issued a global emergency, because this virus is highly contagious and it’s spreading in China like wild fire. It will take months to develop a vaccine.

Watch this video:

I am a Registered Nurse and I hold a valid license to practice. My extended formal education is in Human Services, and that is why I am sending this article. Not to tell you how to protect yourself, but to bring comfort. 

It is likely this virus will become a genuine plague. It’s worse than the Sars virus which hit the world in November 2002 to July 2003. We were a little frightened then, but this new one is much worse according to the World Health Organization.

When the call came this morning to inform me that the 911 lines were down, I was first thankful that I didn’t need ambulance service or police help. As I laid back in bed – trying to go back to sleep – the thought came to me: what if it was worse! What if the entire grid went down!!!

From there my mind conjured up all kinds of emergencies. Then I remembered what brought a sense of comfort to me back during Sars. Psalm 91. Inspired words from King David, given to him from God. “A thousand shall fall at your right hand, but it will not happen to you. There shall no evil come to you, neither shall any plague come to your house. He shall cover you with his wings, You shall live under the Shadow of the Almighty.”

We live in a world full of all kinds of frightening things. If corona isn’t bad enough, we are saturated with the fighting and tangling going on in Washington – hate at one of its highest levels. Terrorists attacks almost daily – you name it, we have it! But we also have the Word of God and His presence – coming to us more powerful than the enemy of our soul and our body. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

Be careful to do what is suggested by our health leaders, while at the same time put your faith and trust in God to keep you safe. Rest in the Secret Place of the Most High.

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Say Hello!

I’ve learned a lot in my lifetime….still need to learn more, but one thing that comes back to me time and time again is our mortality. What I’ve understood most in that area of thought is that only acceptance of our mortality makes us free to live and appreciate the wonder of life. After all, it is death that reminds us that we don’t have forever. So the point in this conversation is that if you and I are going to make our “statement” toward some worthy purpose or express our love for another person, or accomplish anything, we must do it now.

So many times I’ve sadly learned that there’s no holding back, because when I’ve done that – I lose. We must let go. Saying “hello” to something or someone will most often lead to a “goodbye” but the journey with the project or the person is what we call “life”. And in that “life” the light of you and I is brought forward in wonderful ways.

Never sit back thinking that you haven’t got what it takes. Grab today with all you’ve got! Say hello! Let God handle the goodbyes.

Happy is as Happy "IS"

Strange, that we can be suspicious of happiness. For instance, we can have so much fun doing something, or loving someone that we worry it won’t last, or something terrible might happen.

Here’s a story I heard a long time ago that fits this conversation:  a man was so frightened about having joy that he drove himself mad. He did everything the opposite of what he planned because he thought it would trick unhappiness. He found the woman of his dreams, but became so obsessed about losing her, he behaved senselessly – and ended up losing her. 

This brings me to say that on the flip side there is nothing wrong with having things go right and celebrating it. I honestly believe if we celebrated everything that goes right in our life, we would have no time to worry — even if something was wrong.

Remember our childhood. It was a time when the worst thing that happened was a scraped knee, but then Mom cleaned it up, put a band aid on it, kissed our cheek and we were off to the next scraped knee – happy as a lark.

Chances were good that we would soon be back in Mom’s arms crying, but we never played with our friends in a mind set of worrying that we might scrape our knees. 

In a world that seems to have lost its soul, it is hard to find something to really be happy about. Seems that the moment we go out our door the challenge of worry comes.  Be careful. Watch your back. Don’t anger another driver. Hang onto your purse and wallet. Know where to hid if a terrorist starts shooting up the store.

The Apostle Paul wrote that he was content in any circumstance. That’s really pushing the truth for most of us, but he was right, for even in the worst situations we still have the promise that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us.

I believe happiness begets happiness. The more you embrace it, the more it flows.

Take time to be happy about something, and let it flow.

2020 – A New Year with New Hope, Maybe a New World

I’m sure you would agree that there is nothing greater in the “joy bell arena” than to find new ways of overcoming our weaknesses. You and I know all about the thrill of victory and the  agony of defeat. As life goes on, we encounter obstacle after obstacle. Yet our hope, our dignity, and our laughable madness is what makes us believe in ourselves and keep us moving in the right direction.

The greatest failure is to fail to try, and I am not just preaching to the choir, but to myself. For I have 2 books floating around in my mind — in that creative part of me that is always working — and I know if I give up I may dry up and blow away.

You too, have perhaps given up just when, with a bit of persistence and belief in yourself, you would have made it! 

So often when all seems lost and useless to keep trying, the breakthrough comes.

I honestly do not indulge in New Year resolutions.  It’s like starting a new diet that never works. What I like to do instead is to make a covenant with God and ask for His help. It doesn’t always work, because I still have a lot of responsibility to perform. But at least I have the recognition that something needs to be done somewhere in my life.

The world is dangerously slipping into confusion and chaos. Signs are everywhere that if we don’t pull things together we will be lost. 2020 means perfect vision. To have this perfection it often takes glasses to see better. I like to think of “spiritual” glasses, worn to help us discover what we personally need to discover about ourselves that will carve out a new mind set and start the joy bells ringing.  The new decade of 2020 may likely bring multiple changes for all of us. Let’s not be afraid to face them. Get your glasses on and see your greatest potential…..right where you are, right where you live. Make it a great start to a new “you”.

This year is my last year to have – in print by my publisher – my book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” by Mary Cates — featured on http://amazon.com

You, or a loved one, or a friend might find just the right words in this book to inspire the “new you”.  Log into amazon (above) right now and ask for Mary Cates Books.  Click on “Take Charge of Your Destiny” by Mary Cates and order it now….order several as gifts to help those you love perhaps find the right word, the right thought, just the right morsel to get back on track. The book has a discount price. Also great for Bible studies too.  As this book becomes a success with my publisher, I will be able to keep writing. Thank you so much!    The book cover is featured here:

The Shining Star On The Highest Bough

I wish a Merry Christmas to all my Followers and Internet Surfers, and leave this thought:  We never lose or forget the people we love, especially at this time of the year. They continue to live in our hearts and in our memories forever.

Often I catch myself saying: Mom and Dad, I wish you were here.

Especially at Christmas I hear my heart say: Mom, I wish you were here making the pumpkin pies. Or, Dad, I wish you were roasting the turkey and making the dressing, like you always did.

And of course, I will never forget my wonderful brother. All of them are gone now, but their memory lives on and I am especially conscious of their  love for me at Christmas time.

It is not surprising that I find the lyrics of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” very dear when I think of my losses, and the losses others have suffered. The song covers it well as the words capture what takes place during this season to fill the holes and comfort the voids.  “Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more”.

The lyrics go on ……. “Through the years we all will be together if the Fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough, and have yourself a merry little Christmas now”.

Yet most of all, it is the truth that God loved His human creation deeply enough to make a way for us to have forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ His Son. That is the shining star upon the highest bough! That is what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas!

Love is Worth the Effort

To love is the greatest of human experiences and sooner or later we all realize that without it life is empty and meaningless. Love generally never disappoints, even if it seems refused and not worth our effort. Even if it brings uncertainties and confusion. Yes, even if we never get a response, because God sees our effort if no one else does.

Humans are such strange creatures at times. We want to be loved, but sometimes we get into a mood that reeks of emotional detachment. I’ve been there, where I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or to show love toward me. It’s that: “leave me alone” mood. In this mood we consciously mute our emotions to protect ourselves.

In my book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” I encourage the thought that it’s never too late for anything.  Never too late to grab a dream and run with it. Never too late to hope for something that seems impossible.

Most of all, it’s never too late to love.

Never too early to love.

Even when things get so messed up that we don’t know where to begin or where to end, it is love that eventually conquers it all.

I hope your bathroom never looks like this!

Let me share with you what I wrote in my book  “Take Charge of Your Destiny”: “Beautifully painted in all creation and nature we see God’s love. It is evident in the first cry of a newborn baby. It is there at the dinner table where our children and grandchildren gather like beautiful olive plants around our table. It is there when healing comes from the hands of a surgeon. It is there when restitution is made after years of shunning.”  It is there…….”  !!!!

Poet Annie Hall says it well in her poem “Through Thick and Thin”:

I don’t have to be with you to know you’re there.
We don’t have to see each other to know that we care.
We could be apart for years upon end
and still remain the best of friends.

Love is the most wonderful experience of all emotions.


Just 20+ days before Christmas. For that person you wonder what to give, consider giving one or both of my books.

The Novel: The Secret Hideaway on Bridgeton Hill.  Mystery, suspense, and romance throughout the pages. Special price: $10. Includes shipping.  Email me at:  macprod4@gmail.com

This non-fiction book is aggressively encouraging and spiritually inspirational:  Take Charge of Your Destiny, by Mary Cates. Get it on http://amazon.com

Just click into Amazon above and ask for Mary Cates Books.

Can You Hear The Opera in The Streets?

When you and I were babies there was undoubtedly someone declaring that we had our mother’s eyes, or our father’s determination, or Aunt Maggie’s dimples. Even so, there we lay with a face like none other, a voice that brought a brand new sound into the world, and a mind that would be our most unique contribution to the world.  The ogling and classified resemblances goes on, and without notice people create the first sign of “conformity” in our lives.

When we get right down to it, our individual value lies in the fact that we are, first of all, who we are…..even if others might struggle to make us something different.

I truly believe if people succumb to allowing others to put them into a mold, or we ourselves put people into our molds, we end up with no wonderful surprises. The laughter gets stifled. The joy of individual creativity is over-looked. There is no opera in the street. There is no wonder – no imagination.

We can’t deny that we live in a world that requires a measure of conformity in order to be popular or to simply survive. I’ll be honest – I concede to fashion, to buzz words, and to certain behaviors. And not without saying, there are customs to be respected, precedents to guide us, and rules we must follow.  But in all of this conformity there is plenty enough left for us to be the individual we were born to be, and to make our mark whatever it’s yet to be. And I encourage this for all of us, no matter what age!

A fascinating observance I’ve come across is that it takes less effort to know people in groups than it takes to know a person individually. Nothing wrong with that, but on the flip side, when we make an effort to get to know someone and we seek out their “special qualities”, the opera begins – the music starts. How many times have you casually known someone, and when suddenly it happens that you get to know them better, you are delighted? It’s happened to me many times. Suddenly the person comes out of the mold I have put them in and I’m astonished at how wonderful it is to know them. How beautiful they really are!

The opera is there. Music is in the street if we look for it and listen for it. In many ways we can be the “song” in someone’s life.  


NOTE: I am no longer on Facebook, so if you enjoy my website, I encourage you to press (click) my blogs to Facebook, and any other social media you are on. This gives me visibility that helps to offer my inspirational book to the public.

This book is available on http://amazon.com

Log into Amazon and ask for “Mary Cates Books” The book is at a great discount price.

Isn’t it Interesting

In view of the division Americans are witnessing in our Government and how it is affecting our daily lives — meaning, the negative influences in our own spirits — I find it difficult to write about anything else.  But knowing that there is Someone Higher than problems or people creating problems, has inspired me to blog a narrative on “warm hugs” and happy faces.

Isn’t it interesting how we often reserve our embraces for intense emotional occasions of extreme happiness, tragedy or catastrophe?

Some people, and families, are natural huggie-bear, kissie-face people, but for most of us, we wait for the security of another’s arms after an earthquake, flood, accidents or death.

I know a few macho men who never hug or kiss a friend or relative because they think it’s trite to do this. However, they pat another’s back or slam a bear hug on someone over a “hail-Mary” win at a sports game.

In my opinion there’s no big deal to showing affection. I see it as human affirmation. It says I value you, and I cherish our friendship.

Some medical researchers have written articles confirming that a warm hug can be good for your health. I believe this, because I know how I feel when someone initiates a hug. I remember my mother, twenty years after my father passed away, standing in the middle of the greeting room at an Assisted Living facility with her arms held out to me, saying: “I need a hug…..I need to feel someone holding me.”

Hugs cost nothing, yet they are priceless to those who receive them.

Have fun today. Give a hug. Steel a kiss if you can!

First edition of the novel “The Secret Hideaway on Bridgeton Hill” is available for $12 (includes shipping and handling). Click into the CONTACT page at the top of your screen and post your request to me.

The non-fiction, inspirational book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” is available on http://Amazon.com Request Mary Cates Books.