Monday, October 31, 2011

Word of the Week - Halloween

I've given Halloween a lot of thought since having kids, have debated it and pondered, have looked up its history and tried to decide where I come down on it. Inevitably, I come to the conclusion that, like a Christmas tree or the face of Jesus most often used (stolen from Zeus, if you didn't know, LOL), it has its roots in paganism, yes. But like a Christmas tree or how I envision my Savior, it's about my heart, not any outward appearances.

That said, I still find the history fascinating. This is me, after all. ;-) And since this is me, chances are good that all the times I've looked this up and read about it have turned into a bit of a story in my mind, so if I get something wrong, don't hold it against me, LOL. I'm going on memory here, along with the history of the word itself given by www.etymonline.com. =)

Halloween is a Scottish shortening of "Allhallow-Even." Literally, the Eve of All Hallow's Day. We don't use the word "hallow" much these days, but it means "holy, consecrated." More, it means to make something holy or consecrated. So when we pray "hallowed be thy name," we are saying WE will make it, keep it holy.

Now, in the Celtic calendar, this was the last night of the old year, a witch's night. When the Christians came in, they "hallowed" the day--they deemed that that was the day when they would pay respect to all the saints not otherwise honored on a given day.

Needless to say, this wasn't a seamless transition. Christianity obviously was not embraced overnight, and whether one observed the old Celtic rituals or the new Christian ones was a cause of great strife. Fear. Panic. And sometimes death.

Halloween was serious business. People honestly believed ghosts and ghouls and witches would be on the prowl, hunting their souls--and they may have been right. So they prayed, and they called on the traditions that hadn't quite gotten washed away yet--they tried to scare the evil off by carving faces in gourds, and by dressing up in costumes meant to trick and scare the tricksters. (Or so I've gleaned from various sites . . . don't quote me on this, LOL.) It's a time when we reflect on those who have gone on before us (the actual meaning of these "saints") and so remember the dead.

There are Christians aplenty who refuse to acknowledge Halloween, and I understand why. It is indeed a night when tradition says evil comes out--but it's also a night whose traditions that are still in effect come to us because people want to fight, want to escape that evil. Like any holiday, it's about finding the sacred, the holy, and washing the darkness with light. Making it hallowed.

Whether or not your family goes trick-or-treating, I wish you all a safe day and eve, and pray that the Lord's light will illumine your path.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Faith on Fridays: I Corinthians 3

We're moving on to our next chapter, and it's one that struck me hard when we read it in church bible study last year. From the NKJV:

~*~

1 Corinthians 3

Sectarianism Is Carnal
 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
Watering, Working, Warning

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Avoid Worldly Wisdom

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.


~*~

I love this--we are the house that God built. He is our foundation, and He gives us freedom in how to construct our building. What will you use? Straw like the first little piggie? No, that will burn up in the fire of trial (never mind the Big Bad Wolf!). Sticks? Ditto. Modern stuff like drywall and two-by-fours? Well see the Wolf might not be able to blow it away, but man's wisdom will fail in that Fire--wood will burn up.

The story of the pigs says to turn to bricks. And that would certainly withstand fire as well as wind, right? Solid. Sturdy. Strong. It would do.

But I find it telling that Paul doesn't mention brick or stone. He tells us to build our house, not with what is sufficient, but with what is perfect. Precious stones. Gold. Silver. What could possibly stand out more from straw?

The fires of trial WILL COME. Our faith, our building will go through it. It's my prayer to day for each and every one of us that we come through the fire with our faith intact, with our mettle proven, with it obvious what Holy Stuff we're made up.

May you gleam with precious metals and stones today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Soft Spots

My kids love this time of year. We have Octoberfest at our family's farm (not in the German tradition, mind you), the best family reunion ever, my daughter's birthday, Halloween . . . as soon as pumpkins start appearing in the stores and on the stoops, the questions begin: "When are we getting a pumpkin? Can we carve it? What kind of face should I make this year?"

Now, belonging to a farm family, I do not buy a pumpkin, certainly not from a store. I instead pick out some from the selection my grandparents bring for the kids to the above-mentioned reunion. So this year Rowyn chose a nice, round one, and Xoe one with a beautiful squiggly stem. We set them on the porch way back the week of Columbus Day.

And waited. My thought: if we carve them later, they may actually last through Halloween, and the kids are disappointed when they don't.

So on Tuesday night, we deemed it a great day to carve pumpkins. The weather was warm, we had nowhere to go . . . perfect. So the kids went out with our dry-erase markers, I with my carving knife and a few plastic bags for glop. While Xoe drew a happy face on hers and Rowyn made a few scribbles and then decided that fallen tree branch in the yard was far more interesting, I got down to business on Rowyn's pumpkin. I cut my circle in the top, pulled it up.

And went, "Ewwwwwwwwwwww!"

It was rotten inside. You know how there are supposed to be strings? Seeds? We had only mush. Orangish-brown, sloppy, stinky mush. It was seriously one of the grosses moments of my life. But my exclamation had brought the boy-o back over, and looking down into his dimpled face, those big eyes . . . yeah, I didn't have the heart to say, "Sorry, kiddo, no pumpkin for you this year."

I scooped out the foul-smelling goo. Poured it where I could. Held my breath and got rid of the rotten. I hosed it out. I bagged and double-bagged the glop and got rid of it. Then I went to work cutting away any yucky meat from inside.

At which point I noticed the soft spots. The weak spots. The spots I would have noticed from the outside had I looked for them. It hadn't occurred to me to do so, I just assumed the pumpkin was fine--but had I bothered, I would have seen the signs. I could have gotten another pumpkin beforehand. I could have spared myself some disgust, lol.

Oh-so-often I do the same thing with life. I push forward, not even considering caution. Or I ignore that soft spot I detect. It's the little things, the little warnings. Like yesterday when I handed Xoe a bowl of Spaghetti-Os and thought, "She's going to spill that." But handed it to her anyway. Thirty seconds later . . . . Or that time I looked at the bananas on the counter and thought, "I should move those so the dog doesn't get them." But the dog had never shown any interest in bananas, nor had he gotten anything off the counter. Yet when we got home that afternoon . . .

The Lord tries to show us those soft spots in life's pumpkin. He gives us the Spirit to whisper the warnings in our ear. "You had better be careful here, beloved . . . better open you eyes . . . better listen, and spare yourself some discomfort." After years and years of observing this, it's still a task to listen to that voice. To take it seriously. To trust it.

I'm in a place right now where I can see how the Lord has led me lovingly to some of the big things happening in my life. But how awesome is it that He leads us in the little things too, if we pay attention? 

Thank you, Lord for having a soft spot in Your heart for humanity, so that you can show us the soft spots in us. 

For where it makes us weak, it makes You strong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Story Time with My Upcoming Baby =)

(I'm leaving this up on Wednesday too, because . . . um . . . well, because it's been a really hectic week, I woke up with a headache, and I'm still enjoying seeing my cover front and center. ;-) Back to usual posts Thursday.)

I just looked down at the calendar on my computer and realized that Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is only one month plus a few odd days away from release. Squeeeeeeeeeee! And so, because we have lots to be excited about with Annapolis these days, I'm going to take today to talk about it.  Mostly because I've already given sneak peeks of the other books I'm reading, LOL, and haven't finished them yet to offer a more thorough review. ;-)

In 1784 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton.
 
Never did Lark think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man she’s loved all her life, but then he betrays her with her cousin. She flees to Annapolis, Maryland, the country’s capital, and throws herself into a new circle of friends who force her to examine all she believes.

Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his bride. Surprised when she refuses to return with him, he realizes that in this new country he has come to call his own, duty is no longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something greater... before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.

~*~
I've received from advance feedback from authors and now from RT Book Reviews, so I'm going to share those. Each and every one was a surprise blessing--seriously, I have been floored by the feedback. I guess I shouldn't be, because this book was all God. I don't think I ever could have finished it had He not given me the words I needed every day. Some days it was like pulling teeth, but He was faithful, and I'm excited to see what He has in store for the book. =)


4 1/2 Star TOP PICK

"White writes an unpredictable love story that will keep the reader cheering for the characters. The setting of this creative and believable romance is the country's then-capital, Annapolis.  This will definitely be a favorite in the Love Finds You series."

~Lindy J. Swanson reviewer

~*~

"Delightfully intoxicating, Love Finds you in Annapolis, Maryland captured me on page one and never let go. I didn't want the story to end. Roseanna White's flawless prose and captivating characters deliver in every way. Thoroughly enjoyable!"

~Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of A Lasting Impression and Within My Heart

~*~
"Beautifully written, Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is a treasure trove of romance, American history, and spiritual truths. Lark is the most winsome character I've encountered in a long time and the wooing back of a broken heart is exquisitely done, brimming with surprises and tender moments, tears and hope. You won't want to leave Annapolis after this moving journey of the heart - and you don't have to, as this book is destined for your keeper shelf!"

~Laura Frantz, author of The Colonel's Lady

~*~

"What a delightful read!" 

~Laurie Alice Eakes, award-winning author 

~*~

Okay, blatant self-promotion over. Though I'll provide the pre-order links for Amazon and ChristianBook in case you're just sooooooo intrigued now. ;-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Word of the Week - Kudos

I've studied Ancient Greek. As in, took 2 years of the language, in addition to reading a slew of the texts. So things Ancient Greek I like--and tend to use. And assume I know pretty well. ;-)

And so, I've never hesitated to use the word "kudos" in a historical manuscript because, well, I know it's directly from the Greek. I know it's old.

But apparently the English didn't pick up on this fun word until 1799. Sigh. ;-)

Kudos, taken directly from Greek (if altered slightly because of a non-meshing of the alphabets), means "fame, renown." Though it may sound plural to an English speaker with that -s ending, it is in fact singular. 

When kudos first entered our language, it was in academic circles only--among those who would have read the Greek, go figure. =) But by the 1920s, journalists had picked up on it and began to use it in articles, which entered it into the mainstream.

And to give kudos where it's due, I'd love to direct everyone to the Colonial Quill Anniversary Celebration today! We're especially celebrating the releases of two members' books this month, but also the founding of our oh-so-delightful Colonial group blog. Please stop by and join in our e-party. =)

Oh! And though I'm not sharing this for the kudos (tee hee hee), I just learned that Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is RT Book Reviews' Top Pick for Inspirationals for December! So exciting!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Faith on Fridays: I Corinthians 2

Today we're moving forward into I Corinthians 2. For your convenience, I'm pasting it here, this time in American Standard Version. =)

1 Corinthians 2

 1 And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
 2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
 4 And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
 5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
 6 We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought:
 7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory:
 8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory:
 9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.
 10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
 11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.
 12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God.
 13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words.
 14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.
 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.
 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

~*~

Today's passage continues the theme we started last week about man's wisdom v. God's wisdom, man's weakness v. God's strength. But chapter 2 names it, reminding us all that it is the Spirit who instructs.

Can you share a time the Spirit spoke His wisdom to you?

Is there another part of this chapter that struck you?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . An Amazing Two Weeks

I'm going to try to share news in a way that doesn't tell what I'm not at liberty to tell yet. =) Let's see how I do.

This much I think I can say: In the last two weeks, I've gotten two offers for book contracts. One for a three-book deal. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not going to say what books or what publishers given that the contracts haven't been settled yet, but yeah. Wow. I have been one EXCITED woman, and have done much calling to family and best friend so I can squeal. =)

The funniest part was that when I told my daughter (who will be 6 on Sunday! Where did the time go??) about the more recent of the two, I said, "Xoe, remember this story I told you about? Well a publisher bought it!" And Xoe's eyes got really big, she jumped up and down, and said, "Where is it? Let me see!"

LOL. If only it were so quick. ;-)

But it's really neat to see how the Lord worked all this out at once, and both a relief and an excitement to know that my next writing-year is now filled. I work well with direction. =) It's also a blessing to be working with these publishers and editors who I really admire. I've already had a phone call with the second editor, chatting about all the aspects she loved, the gleam that had lit the president's eye when she described my story to him, and how excited they all are about this project. Music to an author's ears!

But alas, after the initial jigging comes reality, which in this business means WAITING. And in the case of October, it means a lot of family activities taking my time. So these next few days I'm going to be making a birthday cake with a pirate ship, cutting out the same from a giant cardboard piece for the kids to play in at the party, assembling a variety of homemade games and decorations, and trying to squeeze research and writing in there wherever I can.

Oh, and I just got a Kindle! That, at least, is helping me with my reading. Yesterday it read to me as I packed books into envelopes. =)

Well, there you have my exciting, amazing two weeks. I'll share the details as soon as I can!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Remember When . . . Cultures Collided in the Old South?

Though I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface of the research I need to do for my Savannah-set work-in-progress, thanks to Saving Savannah and the mountains of research the author has done, I'm beginning to get an idea of what oh-so-interesting details I want to work in.

And of course, one of the biggies is the slave culture in lowland Georgia All I knew of it was what I'd picked up from novels and movies--I've already learned more just from the first chapter of this book, LOL.

Most of Savannah's slave population came from West Africa, and after their years here they developed a mish-mash of African and American ideas. Some meshed together well, other aspects seemed to clash. The culture of South Carolina and Georgia slaves has come to be termed Gullah-Geechee. Their language was Geechee--a combination of English and West African dialects. And they used Geechee to speak through metaphors, which I find really interesting. Gonna have to find a good way to do that among the slaves in my book!

The Gullah-Geechee culture draws a lot from its landscape, and the lowland, marshy regions in which the enslaved now served had a lot of similarities to their homeland, where waterways were sacred--they were in fact believed to host spirits and allow them to circulate among the living. So you can imagine that everyday life in an area spiderwebbed with marshlands fostered a spiritual existence for these people.

Which leads right into their faith and religion. Some stuck solely to West African beliefs, but even those who embraced Christianity had a unique type of it that integrated their traditions into it. Most believed in ghosts and spirits--they were a fact of life in their eyes, not up for debate. Christian baptism reinforced their beliefs about water being sacred. Their stories began to shift to include what they were taught and what was around them--another something I'm looking forward to integrating into my story!

The final detail I'll put in here today is their trade and economy. When a slave had finished his allotted labor for the day (if he/she could finish it, which wasn't always possible), they were permitted to work for their family. Most slave families ended up with chickens and gardens, with hogs and goods that they traded first among themselves and then were allowed to take in the cities. Some--few--ended up with a little nest egg. Mostly, though, these resources were what fed and clothed them--and the masters took it as an excuse not to do so themselves.

So there we have the first glimpse of what will be a secondary, underlying setting for my book. My little brain's just a-turning, trying to figure out how to smoothly put a storyline in that will showcase this unique culture that would have been pulsing alongside the world of hoop skirts and balls!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Story Time . . . Yahshua's Bridge Is Available and Sneaking Some Peeks

Back in August I gave my review of Yahshua's Bridge by Sandi Rog, an epic tale set in first century Rome. I promised to let everyone know when it was available for pre-order, and it now is! So rush over to DeWard Publishing's site now and order your copy, especially if you enjoyed The Master's Wall. As a reminder of why you want to . . .

"Stupefying, stunning, and stirring--Yahshua's Bridge is a tale that takes the reader from the darkest valley to the highest pinnacle of hope. For anyone yearning to go deeper, this story of hearts broken and promises kept will take you there, and leave you astounded by the beauty of our Savior."

I don't give words like "stupefying, stunning and stirring" lightly. It takes real skill as a writer and superb story to earn those words from me--and Sandi deserves them all. This was a story unafraid to show us the ugliness of the world, the injustices that can destroy our lives, the cruelties that might plague us. All these are written with what I can only term bravery. It would have been so much easier to tell a story with simpler conflict and a happily-ever-after for everyone involved--but as Sandi said to me, that would have been unfair to all the early Christians and what they went through for their faith. Read My Full Review

Of course, I'm reading some new things now. =) They're not available yet, but . . . ;-)

The first one is Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach. This is a story of love and faithfulness set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. What I love most is that the characters are both British, but have come to America for a new life, unfettered by family's expectations. While the hero already fully believes in the American cause and knows from the get-go he'll fight for it, our heroine doesn't so fully understand--all Eliza knows is that she loves Hayward. Will that be enough to sustain them?

Next up is Love's Sacred Song, the next biblical fiction from fabulous author Mesu Andrews. I just got this one for endorsement purposes the other day, and I'm heading out this morning to buy a Kindle so I can read the PDF with ease. =)  Based on Song of Solomon, Love's Sacred Song is sure to delve deep into a story of love and passion and ancient politics that I cannot wait to discover!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Word of the Week - Neighborhood

Yesterday in the car, I looked out at the bright blue sky and had a Mr. Roger's moment--I started singing "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and my daughter asked, "Why's is called a neighborhood? Does it have anything to do with the hood of a coat?"

I'd never paused to ponder this -hood suffix, but naturally her question made me curious, so I came home and looked it up. =)

Prior to the 14th century, instead of hood we had hade, which was a free-standing word that meant "person, individual, character, individuality; condition, state, nature; sex, race, family, tribe." Wow, right? Quite a list. Round about the 1300s hade made the change to hood and narrowed in meaning to "condition, position," though its literal meaning has ties to brightness and quality.

So, in fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with the now-freestanding hood of a coat, which is from an entirely different root word that means, simply, "covering." Which is a shame, because Xoe and I had come up with a nice little reason for the word to be used in such totally different ways. ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Faith on Fridays: I Corinthians 1

Welcome to the first week of the online Bible study! Through the wonders of my random flipping through my beloved Precious Moments Bible (no laughing!), I've decided to start on I Corinthians. Though y'all are welcome to suggest other books after we're through with this one.

And through the wonders of www.BibleGateway.com, I'm going to paste the chapter here for your ease. ;-) This is from the NKJV, though you can access pretty much any other version at the link above.

I Corinthians 1

Greeting
 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Gifts at Corinth
  
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sectarianism Is Sin
  
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Christ the Power and Wisdom of God
  
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:


      “ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
      And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”[a]

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[b] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Glory Only in the Lord
  
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.”[c]
Footnotes:
  1. 1 Corinthians 1:19 Isaiah 29:14
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:23 NU-Text reads Gentiles.
  3. 1 Corinthians 1:31 Jeremiah 9:24
 ~*~

So which part of the chapter strikes you the most forcibly, and why? Think about it for a minute and respond below, or reply to another comment. If we need a jumpstart, let's consider this question:

Have you ever been like the Jews, seeking a sign? Or like the Greeks, chasing after wisdom?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Abandon

We love to torture our kids. And by torture I mean tickle them, "eat" them up, chase them around, pretend our hand is a monster . . . you know. Torture. The sweet kind. I imagine that's a fairly universal love of parents the world over, and it's no great secret why. We do it because we love to hear that belly laugh, hear those delighted shrieks of "No, no! Hey, why'd you stop? Do it again, do it again!" We love to see those huge smiles on their faces.

We love their abandon.

My hubby will tickle me, too, but we often get a good laugh out of how he does the same "gobble" to me he does with the kids, and I just look at him. And usually say, "Um . . . sorry. I'm not as much fun as the kids, am I?" Which yeah, makes us chuckle. But it's not a belly laugh. Those same simple things don't result in such instant joy once we grow up.

Man . . . I sure wish they did!

The abandon of a small child has its ups and downs. It results in those moments of unbridled bliss, and it results in equally unbridled fits. Laughter and tears in equal measures, joy and frustration, love and rage. I'm sometimes amazed at how my kids can go from total contentment in their game with each other to hitting each other and screaming at the top of their lungs, then straight back to fun.

It's something we learn to control as we grow up, something we teach those kids to do. Self control is important, especially when it comes to those negatives. And those who never learn it . . . end up with reality shows on TV??? ;-) Seriously, that control is a must, yes.

But what are some of your best moments from adulthood? Are they when you're sitting there, perfectly controlled? Are they when you don't react to something? No--our favorite moments are the ones where we regain a moment of childhood abandon and embrace the joy of life. When we scream our heads off on a roller coaster. When we laugh until we cry. When we let it all go and just live.

Sometimes it's hard to do that, especially in this stage of my life where I have to keep the Mommy turned on. Oh, I can laugh with my kids. But I'm also trying to make sure knees don't collide with heads as we wrestle, that things tossed up in joy come down in one piece. I'm trying to protect and nurture and so can't give my full attention to the game. I have to do this. I love to do this.

But sometimes I just wish I could let loose a belly laugh and not care.

And that goes for my prayer life too. That should be the one place I can let go completely, but even there I'm usually trying to protect--myself. I find myself praying, "Lord, you know I hope . . . you know I fear . . . I'm trying not to hope too much because then I fear I'll be disappointed . . . I'm trying not to expect disappointment though because that would be faithless . . . I don't want to assume your will . . . I don't want to miss your will . . ."

But there I need to let go of the control. With the Lord, I need to be unafraid of the extremes. I need to show him the highs and the lows. I need to be unafraid of letting that kid inside me out before my Father.

I need to embrace the abandon.

~*~

On a different note, I making another change to my Friday posts and doing a Faith on Fridays theme instead of giveaways, etc. I'll have occasional faith-themed guest posts, but mostly I'd like to begin an online weekly Bible study. I'll post the chapter of the week and my thoughts on it, and hopefully we'll get a discussion going on it. 

So tomorrow we'll begin with I Corinthians 1. Hope y'all will join in!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remember When . . . War Broke Out Between the States?

I had a moment about a month ago when I was working up a new proposal idea, this one set in Civil War era Georgia. Yes, during that moment I realized my Civil War history was rather rusty. Ahem. But it was the "compared to" that gave me pause. Because you see, my Civil War history is rusty compared to . . .

* The Greco-Persian War

* The uprisings in Roman Jerusalem

*The Revolutionary War (and its aftermath)

*The War of 1812 (okay, this earns a sort-of)

* Certain key aspects of the Napoleonic Wars

And that's where my bafflement came from. How in the world did I become a writer of war novels??? I mean, seriously. I write romance. Love stories, if they're not typical romance. My stories always come to me as boy meets girl, they're driven by the characters.
Yet here I am again . . . plotting out a book set during a war. I shake my head at myself. And laugh. And get down to history. =)

I started with the things most pertinent to this story--the Confederate Raider ships and the Union blockade on the Southern ports, and finally the Battle of Port Pulaski. Really, this is barely a slice of Civil War history. In a way, that's going to make the research easier. But I still have to get the broader scope in my research so I know the hows and whys and whats and wheres that always enrich a story.

I've done some basic internet research, and now I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a book through the wonders of ILL called Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War, by Jacqueline Jones. I'm really looking forward to devouring this book, which promises a fresh look at race relations, the impact of the war, and a look at everyday life in Savannah during the war. Exactly what I need to know. =)

So this not-a-war-writer who somehow keeps coming up with stories set against a backdrop of war is diving into yet another one. With the happy thought that some of my research will be able to double for another, later book I have planned too. You know, the one in the series that covers three different (you guessed it) wars. 

Sigh. LOL.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Story Time . . . My Father's Dragon

The last two weeks in home school, I've been reading My Father's Dragon to my daughter. This is part of our curriculum, but it was so delightful that I figure I'll talk about it here, just in case anyone wants to take note. ;-)

One of the most interesting features of this book to me as a writer is the fact that the narrator is apparently the child of the main character--who is himself a child in the story. I found this so neat. We know the name of the character--Elmer Elevator--but more often than not the story is told like this: "So my father set sail for the Isle of Tangerina."

Now, there are a few reasons why this book was a hit in my house. First of all, though it's a chapter book, it has fun illustrations throughout the book, which my daughter took especial delight in. Second, it's a story of imagination and even critical thinking. As Elmer Elevator sets off on an adventure to find and rescue a baby dragon who's being abused by the creatures of Wild Island, he has to solve problems every step of the way--and most of those problems are the wild animals on the island who have enslaved the dragon and who are fiercely protective of their island against "the invasion"--namely, Elmer.

Luckily, the old tomcat who told him of the dragon also gave him advice on exactly what to pack in his knapsack. Those items save the day at each step, and it was tons of fun to figure out how he would use things like 17 lollipops, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and chewing gum to get himself out of impending doom.

Fanciful enough to engage the kiddos and clever enough to grab the parents, this is a book I highly recommend for you to get and share with your kids. And if yours are anything like mine, you'll end up with some adorable pictures of this dragon that spring from your little one's imagination throughout the story, before we get to see the illustrator's interpretation at the very end.

A delight for the whole family, it's easy to see why this won the Newbury Honor when it was written!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Word of the Week - Fiancee

It's always baffling when I think to look up a word that I take for granted and realize that it's a relatively new addition to the English language. I had this experience with the words fiancee/fiance a couple years ago, when I first began writing Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. My characters are engaged at the beginning. The year is 1783.

But she isn't his fiancee. Nope, that word didn't come into use until 1853. And interestingly, the male version "fiance" didn't follow until 1864. An eleven year gap between calling the woman a fiancee and the man a fiance! Interesting, isn't it?

This seems like an incredibly late addition to me . . . at least when I consider how many stories I have that take place prior to 1864. ;-) It took me a good long while to figure out how to get around that one in a way that sounds natural.

But no fear--we still have options. "Intended" and "betrothed" are legit. So in Annapolis, for instance, Lark fights with her intended in the first chapter. And later in the book Emerson chases after his betrothed. (Not that those are gender specific, mind you.)

Yet another example of how learning something was at first a pain . . . but you know, it actually helped me create the voice I needed for the time period, so I'm glad to I thought to look it up. =) It's the little things that make a voice. ;-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Friend Friday - "I'll Win It for You" Guest Post (and giveaway)

Today I have another guest post for you, this time from Staci Stallings. I think you'll really love the message she  highlights in this--I know it hit home for me this morning!

As with last week, if you leave an encouraging comment for Staci, you'll be entered into this month's giveaway. More details at the end. But first, the main event!

~*~

I’ll Win It For You

The game was tight. Archrivals had faced off for three and a half periods in a seesaw battle that was going down to the wire. As the clock ticked down, the two sides traded the lead back and forth. Neither could be assured of victory because with the game so close, anything could happen. 

From the sideline, the coach watched his team getting more and more apprehensive as the seconds ticked away. They were missing shots they never missed. They were missing opportunities they didn’t miss. Even their body language said, “This is bad. We might lose this one.”

With less than a minute left, the coach called a time out.  Now he knew that every girl on that court had been over the plays a million times. They didn’t need elaborate help to set up a play for a last second win. They needed to calm down and play the way they knew how to play. So when they bent into that huddle, the coach told them something more than a little unconventional. “Go out there. Play the game. Have fun.  Do your best, and I’ll win it for you.”

No pressure instructions. No you have to win this or we lose to our rivals. No anxiety-inducing strategy. Simply, “Go play, and I’ll win it for you.”

To my way of thinking, that was an audacious statement because in reality, it wouldn’t be the coach taking the shot that would win or lose the game. He would be standing on the sideline with no direct control whatsoever.  However, this coach knew something about the training these girls had been through, and he knew without a doubt they could do it.  The problem was they didn’t know they could do it, and so, he let them rely not on themselves for the win but on him. 

The amazing thing to me when I really started thinking about this statement is that what that coach told his team is exactly what Jesus tells each one of us: “Go out there. Play the game. Have fun. Do your best, and I’ll win it for you.”

We think it’s all on us—that we have to get everything right, do everything perfectly, or our “win” will never materialize. In fact, we get sucked into this mentality that Heaven may be just out of our reach no matter what we do. However, I think the reality is that Jesus is the coach standing on the sideline having full faith that we can do everything He’s trained us to do. We can love just like He’s shown us.  We can give; we can live—not because we can do it on our own but because He’s right there, and He has faith that we have been given everything we need to win through Him.

I’m sure you know the end of the story. When the buzzer sounded, the team who had just gone out, had fun, and done their best was victorious.

One day the final buzzer of your life will sound, and the question at that moment will be this: Did you allow Jesus to be your coach? Did have faith that He would win the game for you—or are you still trying to win it yourself?; It’s a question worth contemplating. (Copyright, Staci Stallings 2003)

~*~

A stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. (Pick up the Price of Silence now for only $0.99! ) Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe every week with her various Internet endeavors including:

Books In Print, Kindle, & FREE on Spirit Light Works:
http://stacistallings.wordpress.com/

Spirit Light Books--The Blog: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com/

And… Staci’s website http://www.stacistallings.com  Come on over for a visit…

You’ll feel better for the experience!

Connect with her on Twitter: @StaciStallings

~*~

This month's giveaway is for the WhiteFire lineup! You can enter for a chance to win by leaving a comment below for Staci. For an extra entry, follow Staci's blog (and let me know in a separate comment that you do). You can also enter here and here.




Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . New Beginnings

Round about five and a half years ago, my family started a church. Why? Because we felt the conviction to worship on the Sabbath, and there were no sabbath-keeping churches around whose doctrines we believed in. So we became a branch church of a Seventh Day Baptist church in Pennsylvania and went about establishing ourselves.

These past years, we've rented two different buildings, trusting the Lord to provide one of our own in His time. And the time has come. This last week we stepped into our new old church for the first time as owners and knew beyond doubt we were home.

This might be hard to understand if you've never attended a small church bound by the restrictions of the place you're renting, but wow. It's so amazing to realize we can now do whatever the Lord asks of us, without having to ask the building's owners for permission! Book clubs and movie nights, dinners and clothing drives. All sorts of things we've been wanting to start but couldn't.

On Sunday I went over and scrubbed the hardwood in the sanctuary. I got sweaty, sore, and tired, but it was a labor of love. An offering to the Lord. An investment in this home He's given us. We as a congregation have a lot of hard work ahead of us to make this old country church vibrant again, but it's work we're looking forward to.

And I love pausing a moment to look at when things happen. In the life of the church, it came exactly when we needed it to, when we had worked through some issues and were ready to surrender entirely to Him. And personally, it came just as I am (momentarily) between projects. One book is finished, at committee, and ready to be decided on in the next week (pray, please!!). The one due out in December has undergone its final edits, so I have nothing more to do on it right now. And my next project is still awaiting approval from my editor, so there's no point in diving in if she's going to ask for major changes to the idea. I've got a ton of editing to do for WhiteFire, but that's all.

So here I am . . . ready and able to give of my time.

It's a good time, a hopeful time. A time when potential and possibilities are all shimmering on the horizon. No disappointments or frustrations yet. No failures or setbacks. 

In a lot of ways, it's exactly like where I am with Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. It's a pretty blissful time, these months leading up to release, when there are no bad sales numbers to haunt you or negative reviews to upset you. All potential. All hope.

I'm optimistic enough to blindly say that potential will lead to a realization of blessing. I'm realistic enough to know that's no guarantee. And I'm experienced enough to know that no matter what comes in a month or a year, this time is meant to be savored for exactly what it is--a new beginning, unconstrained by what may come.

I'm going to enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remember When . . . The British Weren't Popular?

The year is 1814. War has been going on for a couple years already, and it's a war that some think is overdue . . . and some think shouldn't have happened. Depending on which side you were on, of course. ;-)

Some British never really accepted America's independence. Some Americans couldn't believe that their mother-country would really impress their sailors or renew hostilities.

Both were in for a surprise when the War of 1812 broke out, and independence had to fought for all over again.

Most of you probably know I've been writing a story set during the Revolution. Well, that one's finished, and the next in the series is about the son of the hero and heroine from book 1, this one set during the War of 1812. I knew from the moment I decided on a general plot what my hero was going to be like. Thad is an adventurous American, a bit reckless, totally devoted to his cause, and fearless to the point of stupidity sometimes.

But it took me some effort to figure out my heroine, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around her. Gwyneth I originally thought would be Canadian, but the more I considered it, the more I decided it would be more fun to make her from London. Because we all know what London of the era was like, right? Regency. Ahhhhh. Blissful. Courtly manners, marriage marts, drawing room drama. A young lady of some means would be totally concerned with her Season, especially if it were her debut. With her suitors, her friends, her fashion. So what would happen if she found herself shipped off to America? During a war with the uncivilized brutes, no less?

Well, there we have some attitude. But let's up the stakes. What would poor, displaced Gwyneth be like if moments before she set sail, she witnessed the murder of the person dearest to her?

Yes, I'm a cruel author, what can I say. ;-) One who's having a lot of fun imagining what my starts-as-a-typical-Regency-gentlewoman heroine might become and do under such circumstances. Will she arrive on American soil broken? Paranoid? Unwilling to trust the people she had been told to go to? Will she be defiant? Proud? Superior? Meek?

Yeah, I still haven't figured her out completely, but I'm thinking she'll be an interesting amalgamation of those things. Broken and defiant. Proud and meek. We'll see how she turns out once I begin writing. =) But for now, I'm really enjoying the idea of bringing my love of British-set 19th century stories over onto American soil with these two characters.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Story Time . . . Gone with the Wind

So as I close the book on one historical era (with the hopes of revisiting it sometime soon!), I open the pages on another. And in so doing, open the pages of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning classic Gone with the Wind. Yes, this is research. ;-)

But cracking open this book takes me back to childhood. Which might seem strange to some, but bear with me. My family (father excluded, that is) LOVED GwtW. We'd watch the movie whenever we had snow days, which meant several times a year. Whenever we drove south for vacation, we'd go past a huge old house that we dubbed "Tara" in honor of the O'Hara plantation. Phrases like, "But I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no babies!" were common vernacular between me, my sister, and my mom. And I believe we all dreamed about that dress made out of curtains . . .

Up until my teen years, I'd only ever watched the movie, of course. But when I was in high school, I read the book. I believe I skimmed all the many paragraphs of pure history, LOL, but oh! The story of Scarlett and Rhett, even fuller and more complete in the book than in that ridiculously long movie! Be still my heart. =)

So as I prepare to dive into all things Civil War and Deep South, I thought I'd ask y'all for your favorite GwtW moments, memories, or (if this is possible) what you might prefer over GwtW from a similar era. When you settle in for a Civil War story, what do you reach for? Fiction, non-fiction?

I currently have on my desk two books and two movies awaiting me--the obligatory GwtW, both book and mvie, and then The Blue & the Gray (DVD) and The Killer Angels (book). I figure I'll hit up the library for more soon, so recommendations are welcome!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Word of the Week - Autumn

It's that time of year again. The leaves are turning colors, the weather is turning cooler, and the pumpkin vines are taking over my yard. Okay it's the first year we've planted pumpkins, so this is a first--and a lesson to us on where NOT to plant them next year! LOL.

So it seems like a fine time to talk about the roots of the words we associate with the season. =)

For a good while, British folk referred to this time of year solely as "harvest." It wasn't until the 16th century that the word "autumn" entered the vernacular. Taken from Old French and, in turn, Latin, there are also suggestions that it shares a root with August, and that the aug- implies severity.

Over the centuries, most "autumn" words have come to carry a meaning of "end, end of summer" or "harvest." And unlike all the other seasons, we not only have several words for it, we also have several different start/stop dates in English speaking countries. In Britain, for example, autumn begins in August, while in America it's September.

And of course, from "autumn" we get one of my all-time favorite words: autumnal (pronounced aw-TUHM-nl), which my best friend still swears I made up. ;-) As you can assume, it means "things pertaining to autumn."

And then, of course, we have "fall." Now used only in the U.S. as a synonym for the season, "fall" is short for "fall of the leaf," and dates from the 1540s. So it's nearly as old as "autumn," but has for some reason fallen out of use (ha . . . ha . . . ha . . .) in other English-speaking parts of the word.

So here's wishing everyone a beautiful, colorful fall filled with all the delightful, autumnal things that make you smile. =)

(For reference, the picture is my kids and nieces at our family farm's Octoberfest, from last year. From left to right you see Isabelle (niece), Paisley (niece), Xoe (my oldest), and Rowyn (son in need of a haircut last year, LOL).)