Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Author Katie Roberta Stevens: A New Perspective

Please join me in welcoming debut author Katie Roberta Stevens as theeurope_cruise1_037[2] special guest blogger here today as she makes a stop on her tour of blogdom with her memoir of survival.

Katie’s debut book is, MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY. Here’s a brief description of it: Every person has her secrets. If Katie can forgive her mother and herself for theirs, readers of this book can certainly find it in their hearts to forgive their own transgressions. This deeply affecting memoir by a Catholic schoolgirl during the 1960s shares her inspiring journey from an abusive childhood with a schizophrenic mother to an adulthood of redemptive love. MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY is a triumphant memoir detailing the life of Katie Murphy, a 1960s Catholic School girl struggling to keep the faith acquired at school in a home ruled by a mentally ill mother who believed she killed Jesus Christ. This life story is not divided into years, but into episodes capturing her family’s chaos, created by an absentee father and a mother frequently committed to a mental hospital. She and her four siblings are forced to shoplift food, toiletries and clothing to survive. Meanwhile, Katie's misguided search for parental love leads to an ongoing affair with a priest in high school, marriage to a man twice her age in college, and a twelve year affair with a married man in adulthood. She finally learns the truth about her childhood. Successful, safe and loved today, she lifts the veil of self-blame and anger to trace a path to true forgiveness. The author shares poignant proof that, with conviction, compassion, and truth, even the most damaging past can be transformed into a peaceful and meaningful present.

Katie joins us today to talk about having ‘A New Perspective.’

I thank Mason and Thoughts in Progress for allowing me to be a guest blogger today. Rather than writing about my book, which I hope you’ll read, I wanted to share another message that’s been on my mind. Since friends and strangers alike have read my memoir of survival, they have stopped me to tell their personal stories. I’ve been floored by the strength of everyday people who’ve been carrying overwhelming burdens from their past for years.  

One of the most remarkable stories shared with me was told by a 75-year-old German expatriate living near me in Florida. He and his wife are the personification of the idea that couples look alike after being married for so long. Viewing them from my balcony, I often see their two heads of shimmering pure white hair, combed back from their faces in similar hair styles, bobbing as they walk. They both have handsome faces that smile easily and are warmed by sparkling eyes revealing great intelligence and deep contentment. Although they walk constantly, both have been rounded by age, as if their chests sunk into their bellies, making them resemble bowling pins. If they were the last pins standing, they would be a 7-10 split that would be impossible to pick-up because they are incredibly sturdy. 

One day, when I was taking a break from my desk for a swim, Frederick was walking laps in the pool. As we said our hellos, I fell into stride with him and we chatted. He said, “I read your book.” Then he started to cry. His eyes reddened as he tried to wipe tears away with a chlorinated hand. I soon realized that he wasn’t crying for me. He kept pushing forward against the water and said, “I have a story too.”

He started, “I never said this part out loud. Not even to my wife. Did you know when I was 10 years old, my whole city was bookcoverbombed. My homeland in Hamburg, Germany. 30,000 people were killed. Just like that.” He attempted to snap his wet fingers. I saw the dump trucks. My buddy and I were getting grass for my rabbits. During the war, we had some food because we had those stamps. But after the bombing, we had no food. I raised rabbits. You know, to eat. Nobody was taking care of this neighborhood farm, so the grass was very high. We went with a long tool, my friend and me. We’d swing it like this.” His hand moved back and forth making ripples in the water that touched me gently on my chest.

“I was getting grass for the rabbits when I saw the trucks. Big dump trucks. Do you know what was in those trucks? We chased them.” His eyes became wet rings like those in the pool. Then, it seemed his mind went under water into the past. He stopped short and was no longer doing his laps. As if talking only to himself, he whispered again, “Do you know what was in those trucks? I was only getting grass for my rabbits. Why did I follow the trucks? They were filled with the bodies of my neighbors.”

A few weeks later in the Business Section of the Wall Street Journal, there was an article about a man named Felix Zandman, who as a teenager, survived the Holocaust crammed underneath floorboards in a tiny underground chamber, beneath a Polish peasant's cottage for 17 months.  A Catholic family sheltered him and others—not for 17 minutes. Not for 17 hours. Not for 17 weeks. But for 17 months. The Wall Street Journal article went on to reveal the familiar story of triumph that captures the American experience that we’ve heard told countless times throughout our lives. Felix Zandman survived the Holocaust and later immigrated to the United States of America. According to the article, he founded Vishay Intertechnology Inc., a major electronics firm that supplies the computer, aerospace and other industries. The article stated, “After years of success and various acquisitions, his broad-based electronics company posted sales of $2.7 billion in 2010.” 

Why did I decide to write about these two tales today? First I selected these, among the many I learned since telling my story, because I am awed by the strength of friends, neighbors and strangers. Therefore, if you have an account of survival, hidden deeply in your gut, I write this blog to encourage you to share it. Letting it out frees you and somehow strengthens our human family. I also chose to focus on these two men because, today, our news media tries desperately to convince us that these are really tough times. And while we may be facing challenges, we are NOT crouching beneath floor boards, hiding from dogs, praying for OUR lives. Please don’t let television shape your vision of reality. Every single day, we can stand tall and walk out into the sunlight of unlimited opportunity.  

Katie, thank you so much for blogging. You are so right too. We may be facing tough times now, but they are nothing like others have faced before us. Thanks for sharing these two stories with us. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now I’ll share a bit of background on Katie with you. She has worked as a professional grant writer for public school districts for the past 14 years. Prior to that, she taught high school English for 12 years, during which she enjoyed serving as a basketball coach and advisor to various clubs. She  resides in Brevard County, Florida, with her husband of five years.
When asked about writing her story Katie states, "I decided to write my story because turning 50 caused me to conduct a “mid-life” review and I felt ashamed of many things that I did. When I began writing, in my mind, I was writing a confession seeking forgiveness for the “sins” that I committed. In order to do this, I had to finally examine my childhood thoroughly for the first time. This process allowed me to acknowledge what I had survived and enabled me to forgive myself and others.  I hope you read my book because you want to be moved by what you read. So many books and movies leave me feeling empty. I want an emotional connection with characters and I hope you’ll find the opportunity in my story." 

For more on Katie and her writing, visit her blog at Konnections With Katie

MY MOTHER KILLED CHRIST: BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY is available on and Kindle and Katie offers monthly free giveaways on

Katie will be stopping by throughout the day so if you have questions, she’ll be glad to answer them. Do you have an account of survival you’d like to share with us today? Do you know of others who have survived great hardships and inspired you? Thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. Katie, thank you again for sharing these stories with us. It does give 'a new perspective' on things. Best of luck.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Katie.

    Katie - I think one of the most important lessons we can learn is how to let go of our resentment and bitterness and move on. Thank you for sharing how that happened for you. I wish you much success.

  3. Thank you for receiving and accepting the exact message I hope to share. I hope you, too, have found peace and contentment.

    Thank you, Mason, for this amazing opportunity.

    Katie Roberta Stevens.

  4. You have lived an amazing life so far, Katie. My wish for you is that the years ahead are filled with much love and laughter, and that you grow old and round with the one you love.

  5. Carol:

    Your warm wishes are well-received and may come true because I have grown quite round already. Peace and love to you as well!

    With gratitude,

    Katie Roberta Stevens

  6. Sometimes life is almost too much to bear. But we must, and we have each our ways of surviving.

    Good luck with your book, Katie Roberta!

  7. What a wonderful post. We never know what our neighbors and friends have lived through unless they choose to share them.

  8. I've heard a lot of stories. Some break your heart.Survival with sanity intact is always cause for celebration. Glad you survived. :-)

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  9. What an amazing story. I am so glad I clicked over from your comment on Under the Tiki Hut, Mason. I can relate to Katie on so many levels and I needed to find this book. Thank you.

  10. Margot, letting go of resentment is sometimes the hardest thing. When we finally do that, then we can move forward.

    Carol, thanks for stopping by.

    Dorte, life does seem to much at times. But moving on is the best solution.

    Ann, you are so right. What our neighbors have endured might surprise us even though we think we know them well.

    Sia, I like your saying - survival with sanity intact. That's the way to go.

    Maryann, so glad you stopped by too. I hope you enjoy the book.

  11. What an amazing story, Katie. And bravo for having the courage to write and share it with the world.

    I wish you the very best of luck.

  12. Thank you all. I was fortunate to have strong women to guide me out of the chaos that was my childhood. I'm sure the people in your lives are grateful for you! I encourage you to take time to really "see" the children in your family or neighborhood. A few kinds words from teachers or neighbors were enough to sustain me from week to week and soon I was graduating from college. Words have power. I hope you use yours wisely.

    Best wishes,

    Katie Roberta Stevens


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.