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:

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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.  


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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 Request Mary Cates Books.

It’s Pure Magic

I believe there is something good, something beautiful, something positive in everyone. I recently heard of a man who saw an elderly lady with a saucy hat perched on her gorgeous gray hair. Her face was buried in a newspaper while she waited at the doctor’s office for her name to be called. The man decided to respond to his instinct and said to her, “You look lovely in that hat.” She put down the newspaper, smiled and said: “Women have lost the art and joy of wearing hats these days. I love them! Thank you for noticing.” And that was the start of a long animated conversation in which she became more radiant and even more lovely.

It cost the man nothing, and ended up  making a long wait for the doctor very pleasant.

This story makes me think of my sister-in-law, Barbara, who lives in Illinois. When we have the pleasure of shopping together at a mall, we never meet a stranger. She and I are “people persons”. We also respond to our instincts and never meet a stranger when we’re together. We’ve had so much fun meeting and talking to people we will never see again.

It really takes so little time and energy to do something like this. There’s pure magic in friendly words.

Check out another website: Terry Overton, Author

Terry Overton, author and friend.

REMINDER: Only 8 months left to order my book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” by Mary Cates. Preview and order it on

Twenty-four Years makes Little Difference

Strange how history repeats itself.

It was August 1995 and 3 months before America would go to the polls to vote in the November 1996 Presidential election. I was concerned, as I am now, that the world was slowly creeping toward a climax;   i.e. its highest point of culmination with tensions playing out in every arena.



Past history showed that wars and evil could change a nation, or the world, in quick time.

Here’s what I wrote in 1995 on the editorial page of a monthly publication I was privileged to be both writer and editor for:

“World events are rapidly changing history and blowing the musty seal off the Apocalypse. The presence of end time prophesy in world events is as conspicuous as a clown act in an opera house. No longer is there a timid tap on the heart’s door. The sound of God’s passion for the world almost suggests bruised and bloodied knuckles. Can you sense it?  In this year’s Presidential election, certainly “character” and “experience” should matter at the polls. But looking at the deeper picture of what’s at stake from our own safety advantage – and what is also predicted in prophesy – our choice should go beyond the personality, and be rationed with wisdom.”  (9/11 was just 6 years away when I wrote this. Terrorists completely changed our country and the world in a matter of one morning.) 

History often repeats itself to a point that the past is repeatable in similar ways. I believe I can write the 1995 editorial today and still be on the same target. For, the years that have flown by are but a wink to God, and I am still deeply concerned for the nations of the world, especially ours.

If I am held to the TRUTH (which I am), I truly believe there exists obligation to be sensitive and appropriately involved in the political state of our country….which is presently in division and a mode of dis-respectfulness. It is TRUTH that matters. “It matters above everything else and clearly demonstrates that it cannot be successfully fought. To fight it guarantees a frustrating blunder. (Quote from my book: Take Charge of Your Destiny, page 25.)

Shakespeare penned it superbly:

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

May God bless America and continue to make us the shining star on a hill.


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Grandma Is Such A Ham!

It’s amazing how grandparents and parents pass down the “family traits” and some of them are actually laughable. Take for instance this hilarious story: A young wife went about cooking her first ham dinner for her husband.  Before she put the ham in the oven, she cut off both ends. When her husband asked her why she did that, she replied that her mother always cut both ends of the ham off before putting it in the oven.  Twenty years later, her daughter fixed a ham dinner for her husband, and cut off both ends of the ham before shoving it into the oven. Her husband asked why she did that. Her response was:  “My mother and grandmother always cut off both ends of the ham.”  

One day the granddaughter was visiting her grandmother and while both of them were in the kitchen, the granddaughter asked:  “Grandma, why do you cut the ends off the hams you cook?”  Waiting for a very scientific gourmet-type answer, Grandma said: “Because my baking dish is too small.”

I never knew my maternal or fraternal grandmothers because they passed away before I was born, but I remember when I was a little tyke, my Mom put dirty dishes in the oven. The answer to that weird habit was: “Company is coming and I don’t have time to wash them.” 

Thank goodness for our dishwashers! 

Please add to this post the funny things your family does (or did). We all love a good laugh.


Gift idea for the holidays coming up:

Order on my inspirational book: “Take Charge of Your Destiny” by Mary Cates. Let your loved ones know that there is more to them than they ever dreamed possible.

Also, the Novel: “The Secret Hideaway on Bridgeton Hill” is still available by contacting me. I will be happy to send it to you. Price is $12. Includes the postage. Click “Contact” at the right of the page.

The Tangible God

Think back at all the things that have happened to you throughout your life and I bet you can connect some of those things to a purpose that came later down the road.

Maybe it was the time you were on your way to a family member’s house miles away and a few minutes into the trip you suddenly came upon a terrible accident that occurred just moments before you got there. Was the timing just coincidence that you were behind the accident? Could your arrival moments later have been because you thought to double-check your purse for your glasses, or check your wallet for your credit card before you pulled out of the garage? Maybe you went back into the house for your cell phone?

Can you honestly say it was just a lucky break that your relative received a warm, live body instead of a corpse?


So many things happen each day of our lives that cause us to wonder – was God in that?

In my own experiences, of which I testify that God has worked His power in my life, someone will always demand that I demonstrate the fact by questioning me further. That’s okay. I welcome questions while at the same time I hope to never let a raised eyebrow or frown make me believe anything else, but that God was there in the moment of which I speak.

My point is that all of us, in one way or another, can be cynical about life and its happenings. I confess that I am chief critic at times. I’m often skeptical of goodness, given to showing up other’s human weaknesses, searching for the unworthy motive in someone’s life. Oh, the mess I make of my heart and my mind at times.

The antidote for this type of cynical thinking is found in one of the most profound and inspiring Scriptures of the New Testament: “All things work together for good….” (Romans 8:28)

So, next time traveling the expressway – going 70 miles an hour – you suddenly discover with a quick unexplained glance of your eye that hidden car in your blind spot, or………

someone tells you that they love you when you’re hitting rock bottom —–


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Mary Cates Books

A True Story

The Miracle of A Broken Alarm Clock ©
By Mary Cates

This story belongs exclusively to my parents. The story takes place during World War II, in 1944. This is how my mother told it. 

After my parents married they lived in Detroit where houses stretched row after row and so close together that neighbors could shake hands through their windows. Tiny backyards lay sandwiched between wire fences, but the closeness felt comforting because everyone shared the war cause. Americans were doing everything they could to help win the battle. They were recycling tin cans, busy working in factories, and growing patches of vegetables in their backyards. These backyard gardens were called “victory gardens”.

My Mom was never one to swing a hammer, rearrange the furniture, or plumb a clogged sink, but she could cook circles around anyone with whatever she brought home from the neighborhood grocery store — located just two blocks away. Best of all, her “victory garden” was adding new dimensions to her meals.

By late summer there were enough green beans in this patch to consider preserving them for the winter months ahead. Home canning was big business back then. Though my mother had never ventured into canning, she was revved up and ready to try.

She didn’t own a pressure cooker canner, but her spirited enthusiasm would not be dampened. In cookbooks she learned about oven canning. It was a primitive inexpensive method of preserving food, and very dangerous if the process was not followed to the letter.

Today, if it were possible, you would love hearing her tell this story of how joyful she was when the canning day arrived. I can see her now, happily singing  while washing glass jars and snapping green beans. There was not a hint of danger as she worked to complete this project.

It was midnight when she completed the job. The jars were meticulously packed with precious “victory beans”. The lids were screwed down and each jar was placed on the oven shelf. 

She lit the gas oven and set the alarm clock next to her bed for the exact time the hot jars would be ready to remove. Exhausted, she slipped into bed next to my father – who, undoubtedly had been snoring for hours.

As the jars heated, the lids sealed instead of remaining open. (In this oven method, the jars are supposed to seal automatically as they cool outside the oven.) Enormous pressure began to build as the temperature heated in each jar. The alarm clock ticked on. My parents continued to sleep – oblivious of the danger that was building in the kitchen.

The hands on the clock reached the given time to release the alarm, but mysteriously it did not sound. Moments later, with a force like dynamite, every jar exploded. The blast sounded like a bomb dropped in the middle of the night by the Nazi enemy. My father jumped out of bed and raced to the kitchen. I’m sure his knees went weak at the sight.

My mother pushed passed him and stepped into the kitchen, her bare feet crunching broken glass underneath. The scene was horrifying. The thrust of the exploding jars was so great that pieces of glass and hunks of green beans were embedded in the walls. Across the kitchen lay the heavy cast iron oven door – blown off its’ hinges.  Had the alarm gone off, my mother would have been in the kitchen, severely hurt or killed.

There was a “protecting Hand” that night upon my parent’s house and my mother’s life.

It took days of scraping to get the glass and green beans off the walls and the ceiling. My parents laughed and joked about this event years later, while at the same time acknowledging that it was a miracle of God that stopped the alarm from sounding that night.

The “Wait” Can Be As good as the Prize


The other day I caught myself singing the song “Young at Heart”. I don’t know where it came from, but there I was flitting around the house humming the tune and then singing the words. You know them: “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you if you’re young at heart…. For as rich as you are its’ much better by far to be young at heart. …and if you survive to a hundred and five, think of all you’d derive out of being a live, and here is the best part, you have a head start — if you are among the very young at heart.”

Are you a visionary? If not, do you know any? Visionaries are the most interesting and joyful people. They’re happy and full of hope, even when things look bad. I think it’s normal, though, to vacillate back and forth from joyful excitement to anxiety and worry, but the people who can handle the hard stuff in life – and still find the good are extremely inspiring.

I remember my Mom years ago when my Dad was pastoring a church up at Quanacassee, Michigan near Bay City. My Mom was the perfect pastor’s wife. She had a beautiful voice and loved to sing solos. She also played the piano. Long story made short, my Mom wanted an organ to play hymns. She wanted it as bad as a little girl wants the latest Barbie Doll. Dad’s income wasn’t all that great because the congregation was small and poor. Dreaming of an organ was about as senseless as telling Santa Clause you want a Lamborghini sport car. There wasn’t one Elder that would even think about going into debt for an organ.

 But there was my Mom, unrelenting in her wish, hanging onto her dream, her fancy, that one day she would have an organ and play it for the congregation.

I caught myself laughing at her dream, which I’ve repented a million times for. But I knew there was no way in the world my Mom would get an organ, and I knew no wish, no begging, no prayer would deliver it to her doorstep. (Aha, he who laughs last, laughs best!)

I soon found out that dreams and hopes do not always continue in the metaphoric state – they do transfer to real, and come true. My Mom got her the organ she hoped for. Dad somehow found the money to pay for it and I saw that the long wait for it was as happy as the gift. The wait at times seemed unending, but it increased my mother’s faith, gave a reason for happy expectation, and actually kept her joyful. She was “young at heart” all the time while caught in the “wait”.

Remember Rachael in my novel, “The Secret on Bridgeton Hill”?  The next morning, after waking as a new bride, she wrote in her journal these words that were meant for her new wonderful husband: “You came to me when I was orphaned, without parents … Though the world is in turmoil, my heart is alive and dancing in a beautiful spring-time of joy. …I have learned that we must wait for God, long and meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightning, in the cold and the dark, wait, and God will answer and give. He never comes to those who do not wait.”

So who is to say which is the best – the wonderful intrinsic anticipation of the dream, or the satisfaction of having it? God is in both the wait and the arrival.

May I encourage that we all stay young at heart – hope to live to 105, keep our visions, keep the wonder, and never let anyone laugh or tell us that our wish is impossible.


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September Song

I’m riding on “FAll” again (September). It’s like seeing and hearing the trumpets glowing – and I’m about to take that wonderful ride.

You guessed it, my favorite month is September. And what would be my favorite song, but the September Song. So I’m taking the words of the song and applying them in parentheses.  Maybe this is you too?

Oh, it’s a long, long while
From May to December (well, not so long when you’re older)
And the days grow short
When you reach September (so short, I never get everything done)

When the autumn weather
Turns the leaves to flame (I love that sight)
I haven’t got time
For the waiting game (that’s for sure, because my birthday is in September and they’re stacking up)

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few (I savor every one)
September, November (gosh, they go so fast now)
And these few precious days
I’d spend with you
These golden days I’ll spend with you (my friends and followers)

In view of Hurricane Dorian, I feel extremely blessed! Praying for those people affected by this terrible storm.