Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Persecution of the Early Church

Working on a difficult scene in my book. It's amazing what I've uncovered in research. Keep in mind, the following is a REAL letter written by Pliny (a Roman citizen) to Trajan (the emperor at the time)
in the late first and early second century. Trajan is seen below. I wonder if the statue Pliny used resembled this one in any way. All a part of my research. Whew!

“…this is the line I have taken with all persons brought before me on the charge of being Christians. I have asked them in person if they are Christians, and if
they admit it, I repeat the question a second and third time, with a warning of
the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be led away for
execution . . . .”

“Amongst these I considered that I should dismiss any who denied that they were or ever had been Christians when they had repeated after me a formula of invocation to the gods and had made offerings of wine and incense to your statue (which I had ordered to be brought into court for this purpose along with the images of the gods), and furthermore had reviled the name of Christ: none of which things, I understand, any genuine Christian can be induced to do.”

Our brothers and sisters suffered a lot in their day. Sometimes I wonder if this might happen to us again. 



Congratulations, Michelle! I have no doubt you'll enjoy Seasons in the Mist. 

For those of you who didn't win, click on the links below so you can buy it! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Seasons in the Mist

Please welcome DEB KINNARD! If you leave a comment, you'll be entered to WIN a SIGNED COPY of Deb's book SEASONS IN THE MIST! If you become a follower, or are already a follower, I'll enter your name in TWICE! Be sure to leave your email address so I can let you know if you win!

I had the pleasure of reading SEASONS IN THE MIST, and it's a book you won't want to mist . . . er . . . I mean--MISS! Deb has a wonderful imagination, and this book was an exciting read. I mean, it's not everyday one gets to travel back in time. I've often imagined what it might be like, and Deb does a wonderful job at portraying this in her latest release. From Bethany's funny, modern quips to the dashing Sir Michael Veryan, you'll be swept away into dangerous intrigues of King Edward's court. I have to say, Deb did an awesome job on her research, not to mention, on telling a great story!

Deb, I'm so glad you stopped by! So, tell us, how long have you been writing? How did you get your start? I started at age 10, due to the TV show “Bonanza.” I decided there should be a ten year old long-lost-and-now-found sister with her own pony. She had plenty of adventures on the Ponderosa!

What made you decide to write fiction? I never thought much about writing anything else. I did do a brief and inglorious stint as the self-help columnist in the elementary school paper.

What made you choose this particular genre? I love historical fic set in the middle ages, particularly in England. Years ago I read Anya Seton’s superb novels, and they caught my heart. The interest she inspired in the medieval period is with me still. And don’t ask how many volumes comprise my medieval nonfic research collection!

How did things change once you became a published author? Did you lose friends? Make friends? How did it affect your family? My immediate family’s really good at eating carryout pizza. Thank heaven they love it! But they’ve been eating it for a long time, so getting published didn’t really change that much. My extended family is a mixed bag. I can say with some certainty that I’ve got close family members who’ve never read my work. Blame differences in spiritual outlook.

Where do you spend your time writing? Do you have a favorite place? A favorite time of day? I have a computer/printer/file cabinet in a corner of the front room, because that’s where it fits. Favorite time of day is morning, particularly this summer, before it gets warm outside.

How did you come up with the story for SEASONS IN THE MIST? Some years ago I vacationed in England, and spent a week in Cornwall. Its ambiance captured me, so I wandered from place to place and dreamed. One such place was a disused well with a ruined stone building nearby. It became a holy well in the 14th century, and of course two lovers appeared nearby. I knew that scene right from the start, and it formed the kernel of the time-travel romance that resulted.

What are you working on now? Edits to the second book in the “Seasons of Destiny” series, and typing furiously on the third book, so the ideas don’t escape the sieve that is my brain.

What is your favorite scene in the whole book? If it's a reasonable length (not an entire chapter), feel free to share an excerpt! The “holy well” scene (I’ve edited the excerpt for length). Here it is – Lord Michael de Veryan and his time traveling houseguest, Bethany Lindstrom, have ridden out in a fair spring morning, and deliberately he shows her the holy well...

Abruptly the path widened into a leafy clearing. Vagrant shafts of sunlight shot through the branches overhead, creating a green and private space. She breathed deeply of its scents, redolent with damp life and springtime. It whispered welcome as she touched her mare with one heel, turning her three-sixty to take in the lush and tangled greenery, the wildness and the mossy trees.
Lord Michael dismounted and led Broc over to a chipped granite trough from which the horse drank. Bran slurped up water noisily. Caillin moved to follow suit before Michael lifted Beth from the saddle and looped both sets of reins around a dry branch.
“How beautiful. What is that building?”
At the end of the glade stood a tiny roofless chapel. Built of the ubiquitous gray Cornish stone, its windows gaped like vacant Norman eyes, round-arched and contemplative.
He answered without glancing at the structure. “St. Aldhem’s. Before that, who knows?”
He caught her fingers, causing that sneaky tingle in her skin, and tugged her over to a fallen log. On this he sat, urging her silently to sit at his side.
“Before the church, certes another building stood here. I daresay this place has been in use continually since the first sons of Adam came to this island. It is due to the water, you see. The horses know. Sweet water comes from that spring and fills their trough. Always clear, even in dry years it runs cold and fresh, never brackish, though we are so near the sea. It is an important place. The old ones built here because of the spring. First their places of worship, whatever they were, later the church.”
“Why does it then lie in ruins?”
“None knows. I have made inquiries, but the story of St. Aldhem’s has been lost. Only the older tales remain of what this place was before Christ-lore came to Cornwall.”
Oh, for a spiral notebook and a stub of pencil! All she had was her memory. She’d have to rely on it to recall the tale he would tell. Somehow, this day would linger in her mind once she returned home . . .
“The place has always been holy,” he was continuing. “The church in her wisdom assigned the spring to St. Aldhem, but we Cornish know better. St. Aldhem is but a nouveau arrivĂ©. This well was sacred long before we Christians changed its name.”
“Sacred to whom?”
He loves this place. And its legends.
He shrugged answer. “Who can say? The Cornish are good sons of the church in these modern times, of course, but we are an insular race. Too long separated from the rest of the realm, mayhap. We cling to our old beliefs, our ancient ways. Perhaps a water sprite made this her home. Perhaps not. The grannies claim piskies still dwell amongst us, causing mischief.”
He picked a long blade of grass and chewed reflectively. The gesture reminded her of neighborhood boys back home—boys in blue jeans and sneakers, not woolen hose and gold spurs. Despite his attire, somehow he had a familiar look.
“If the best milch cow fails or the cream turns or the barley beer goes sour, why that is the piskies’ work. The villeins leave small offerings at night—a crust of barley bread or a ripe apple—in hopes of placating them. Most unwise to allow the local piskie to feel neglected.”
Beth chuckled. Bran sidled over and collapsed into the long grass next to the log. Scratching the hound’s rough gray coat, she watched Lord Michael gnaw on his grass blade, lost obviously in childhood tales.
“Piskies? I had thought an educated man would not believe in them.”
“Here we believe. They live near such springs as these. Piskies and others.”
She leaned forward, fascinated. “What others?”
He threw the grass blade into the spring, watched as it spun on the unquiet surface. “Water sprites, of course. Spriggans, giants, and all manner of unholy creatures.”
She felt affronted. “You play with words.”
“What else are words good for?” He yanked at the edge of her wimple, making her giggle.
This was so wrong. Twenty-six year old doctoral candidate time travelers should not giggle.
He plucked a stem holding a fragile blue flower that looked something like lavender and tucked it under her wimple. She drew a long breath of delight, for the bloom smelled wonderful, and his touch felt even better.
He shifted position on the log, studying her face. With a swift gesture, he reclaimed the sprig of lavender from under her wimple and cast it into the spring.
“An old custom, and hardly Christian. Legend says if you offer the well a belonging, it creates a binding. We Cornish are a fanciful people.”
“I have bound you to the well.” His eyes glinted mischief, then sobered. “And to Cornwall. And in a very small manner, only as much as you yourself permit, to me. But lady, you should take care.”
“My lord?”
“We go to court. You must allow me to protect you while we are there.”
He ran a single finger from her temple to her chin, his expression lightening for a moment, then sobering once more. “I am only a man, not a saint, and a soldier at that. A man so long under arms sees danger behind every gorse bush. I cannot help fearing for you. So lovely, and no history. No father or brother to protect you. Other men may—nay, will—covet the beauty I now look upon freely. Strangeness attracts in its own manner. Some may try to use your extraordinary position for their own ends. Yet I will do my best to protect you, my lady. I swear it by whatever spirit still inhabits this well.”
She stared into his eyes, moved beyond words. “Whatever you can do, it will be enough.”

Okay folks! If you want a copy of this awesome book, leave a comment! Good luck, everyone!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I am a TREE

More about trust. I'll let this verse speak for itself (thank you Rebekah for sharing it with me!):

Jeremiah 17:5-10

 5Thus says the LORD,
Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
         And makes 
flesh his strength,
         And whose heart turns away from the LORD. 
6"For he will be like a bush in the desert
         And will not see when prosperity comes,
         But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
land of salt without inhabitant. 
7"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
         And whose 
trust is the LORD. 
8"For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
         That extends its roots by a stream
         And will not fear when the heat comes;
         But its leaves will be green,
         And it will not be anxious in a year of 
         Nor cease to yield fruit. 
9"The heart is more deceitful than all else
         And is desperately 
         Who can understand it? 
10"I, the LORD, search the heart,
         I test the mind,
to give to each man according to his ways,
         According to the results of his deeds.

Monday, July 5, 2010

On my Father’s Shoulders

So, I spoke recently about how I haven’t been trusting in God to take care of the messes in my life. Well, I thought I’d give a little update.

Remember the passage in Isaiah? The one that made me relax and let God handle things?

Isaiah 30:15 (emphasis is mine): "This is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. If you will BE CALM and TRUST ME, you will be STRONG . . . .’"

Well, I was listening to a song that I’ve listened to a gazillion times, and all of a sudden, the words struck me like never before:

When I am down, and oh, my soul so weary,
when troubles come and my heart burdened me
When I am still and wait here in the silence,
until you come and sit a while with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains.
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas,
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders,
you raise me up to more than I can be.

I listened to it from Celtic Woman, and if you’d like to hear it yourself, click on this LINK.

Well, it got me thinking how God wants me on His shoulders. I just need to be still and wait for Him, Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” He wants to sit beside me and comfort me, and he wants to carry me on His shoulders where I can be strong. Of course, this is what He wants for ALL OF US. What a wonderful thought!

Then I started thinking about when I was last on someone’s shoulders. Of course, I was a little girl and my father came to mind. But while I was on his shoulders I was afraid. I can remember him getting irritated with me because I was so afraid. I just didn’t trust him. He’d always find a way to scare me, so while on his shoulders, I was simply waiting for what he might do. I didn’t have fun. I didn’t think what a great time we were having. I was wondering when he might pretend to toss me on the ground, and just how far down the ground seemed at the time. Hmm, not a good feeling.

If I’m on my Heavenly Father’s shoulders, I want to feel safe, secure. So, I tried to remember if I had ever been on someone’s shoulders where I felt safe. That’s when my uncle came to mind. He was a cop and was always fun, and he was someone I could trust. I thought of the time when he playfully lifted me up onto his shoulders . . . but I was afraid. He immediately set me on my feet, knelt down and talked to me. He said he wouldn’t hurt me. And I knew he told the truth because he showed me how his own children weren’t afraid of him when he played with them. He demonstrated by putting my cousins on his shoulders, and he didn’t do anything to scare them, so I knew I’d be safe. And I was safe. I was high up on his shoulders, high enough to touch the ceiling, and he never pretended to let me fall. He never did anything to deliberately frighten me. When he set me down, I remember thinking how nice it was to feel safe and have fun, and wishing I could feel that way more often. It was just a brief moment in my childhood, but it spoke volumes to me as a little girl, and told me that there are fathers out there who aren’t mean to their kids. That's when I wished he was my dad, and I begged him to pick me up again.

That’s how it is with our Heavenly Father. We may be high off the ground, He might have to walk through stormy winds, but I am strong, I am safe, when I am on His shoulders.

Thank you, Uncle Dennis, for the GOOD memory.

Friday, July 2, 2010

God's Hands

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but stands forever.
Psalms 125:1

I just realized lately that I have NOT been trusting in God. I've recently been undergoing a lot of stress, and I've been in a panic because of it. This stress ranges from reporting my dad who is wanted, to the hospital calling us to say we have unpaid bills. Aaack!

I've been struggling and struggling to do the RIGHT THING in regards to my father. With him the lines between right and wrong become blurred. I found out he is wanted, and I told the church to look out for him. They found him and now he's turning himself in. On one hand, my heart is BREAKING! I feel so guilty!!! He's my daddy! I love him! But on the other hand, I didn't choose to break the stinkin' law! HE did! ARGGG! Just after all this, I got a call from the hospital saying we have unpaid bills that we thought were all taken care of! When that happened, all I could remember was my dad saying that God cursed me with MS because we refused to support him in his "ministry." Well, we couldn't support him in his so-called ministry for very good reasons! It would have been totally against my conscience before God if we sent him money. My dad ignores this and refutes it with scriptures, badgering us to go against what we believe to be RIGHT and TRUE. I mean, my goodness! It's moments like this that I then get angry and am GLAD he's going to jail! But even as I type those words, tears flood my eyes!! I just can't win. No matter how hard I try to do what's right, I can't win.

So, when the hospital called to say we have unpaid bills, I just lost it. I felt like everything was out of control, like there was no where I could turn! I could pray till I was blue in the face, my life was still in shambles. Hello, God! Are you there?! Are you hearing me?! What more can I do? I'm sorry! I'm sorry for anything I may have done wrong in this horrible situation!

That's when my aunt sent me a verse. This will make you laugh. It did me!

Isaiah 30:15 (emphasis is mine): "This is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'If you come back to me and trust me, you will be saved. If you will BE CALM and TRUST ME, you will be STRONG.' But you don't want to do that."

I had no idea the answer to my many problems was so simple. What a relief to put all this MESS in His capable hands. Thank You, God! Thank You, my precious Lord and Savior. xxx



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