The Lord’s Prayer?

person sitting alone on a rock

Something that keeps coming to mind lately… the wording of what is generally considered the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ – the fact it is not, I will mention later. No, I will explain now.

What is generally considered as the Lord’s Prayer, and I grew up saying every day in school – (wow, that dates me doesn’t it ), is actually the ‘model prayer’. Jesus didn’t pray it. He responded to a request from one of His disciples…

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11: 1

image of the 'Lord's' prayer in open BIble

Now, this scripture does not say what Jesus had been praying. It says when He finished praying… Nor does the scripture say that He had been praying near them. Most of the accounts say something along the lines of Jesus praying privately.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5: 16’

withdrew to a lonely place to pray

Having used almost two hundred words to say little – please forgive me. I will continue...

This prayer that most of us know as the 'Lord's Prayer' is actually a model prayer.

 

Why talk about this Lord’s model prayer?

Well, it has been occurring to me more and more that in this ‘self’ society. Self-actualizing, self-sufficient, self-esteem, self-help, self-discipline, self-improvement… self-centered.

This started off – this self-awareness, to help us improve, but from this old lady’s point of view it soon developed into the ‘me’ generation.

 

Contrast...

Selected lines… (not an instruction <smile>)

  • Our Father who art in Heaven. OUR Father – not my Father.
  • Give US this day OUR daily bread. – not give me this day my daily bread.
  • And forgive US our sins (trespasses, debts) as WE forgive OUR…
    (you see the point, I know.)
  • Lead US not into temptation… not me
  • Deliver US from evil (or the evil one)

As I am sure you noticed it is totally opposite to self-focus.

Just thinking…

And these thoughts lead me to looking at the life of Christ.
When did He ever say,
“I am not in the mood,” or "I am tired, leave me alone for a bit” – or “I need some ME time,” I could not find any such examples.
He did need time alone. He rose early and went off to pray…

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1: 35

When He rose from His prayers, He went back to teach, to heal, and to face the criticism He invariably attracted.

Sometimes I feel very lonely.
(I miss my best friend, my human best friend, my late husband.)

But when I think of how lonely Jesus must have been, well, I am glad I am never as lonely, misunderstood and rejected as He was.

In school I muttered those words of the prayer obediently, not understanding – now I can see they are a framework for bringing before God, in prayer, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I wonder if any of you remember the ‘thing’ that went around the Internet a few years back about the ‘special needs children’ who were in a race. One fell, the others came back and helped the one who had fallen… so they could all cross the finish line together.

This YouTube video is a modern version of it

 

Interesting?
Yes. I think so.
We are not in a competition against others.
It is not ‘me’ against everyone else.


We are family, we don’t always like what the other members of the family are doing… but that’s family life.

Remember - it is OUR Father in heaven!

Just thinking,

Susan

P.S. While you are here... I invite you to look around, read some of the other blogs... explore the other pages in the website.

Second Chance Love

LOL - No, I am not running a dating agency. 'Second Chance Love' is the title of the blog written by this week's guest author, Sharilee Swaity. Her book is called Second Marriage: An Insider's Guide to Hope, Healing & Love. 

Welcome Sharilee.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Susan! I am enjoying your first book, so far.

Thank you Sharilee, I hope you keep enjoying it. LOL

 

Susan Preston, image

Great to have you on my blog...
 Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Sure, first...

Sharilee Swaity, author
Sharilee Swaity

A Little About Me as a Writer and a Teacher

My name is Sharilee Swaity. My background is a certified teacher. I have a Bachelor of Education, with a major in Secondary English Education. My favourite part of teaching High School English was enjoying deep, philosophical discussions about novels with my students.
Although teaching high school was my favourite, I ended up teaching other levels through the years, all the way from Grade Two up to adult education. This last year, I was privileged to be able to take a full year off from and just write. During this year, I managed to finish my first book.

Considering that I was trained in literature, it may seem strange that I ended up writing Christian self-help books but there is a reason behind it. Before writing my book, I was involved in writing several online articles on a site called Hubpages. I found that the articles that seemed to resonate the most were very personal, about relationships and going through difficult times.

This was one of the reasons I chose this genre. This book is very personal but I guess I put my life out there in the interests of helping others. My main goal as a writer it help and encourage people through some of the difficult parts of life. I think it’s because I have been through some pretty tough time in my own life and I want to help others who are hurting, as I was. It is my way of giving back and feel that the LORD helps to give me encouraging words to help those who are hurting.

I also really enjoy researching a topic in-depth and doing interviews. So, my book involved a lot of research into the studies surrounding divorce, bereavement, marriage and stepfamilies. I also interviewed three couples who where in a second marriage and had done well. Their stories are intertwined throughout the book.

My First Book (And Only One So Far)

My book, Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love is for couples whose first marriage ended in either divorce or bereavement.

For most couples, after their marriage ends, they are very reluctant to do so again but in time, they gain the courage to walk down the aisle again.

After they are married, there are several issues that come up that are unique to second marriages. For example, they must be willing to leave the past behind in order to embrace their new life. This is not always an easy or automatic process. My book helps people work through this process.

 

As well, many in second marriages and stepfamilies feel marginalized, like they are the only ones that have gone through this experience. Second Marriage: An Insider’s Guide to Hope, Healing & Love is designed to help people realize that they are far from alone in this situation, and to encourage people to reach out and find support.

I am a Christian but I did not write this book just for Christians. It is meant to be an outreach for anyone in this situation. I endeavoured to show the Christian principles of love, forgiveness and grace that can help people heal in their marriages. I have references to the Bible in my book, including a chapter on how Jesus forgave those who had hurt him so badly.

Second Marriage and the Believer

As Christians, remarriage can be especially difficult because we appreciate the importance of marriage. We want to have the ideal of “happily ever after.” God uses second marriages, though, as an opportunity to minister. If we are a stepmom, we have an opportunity to minister to our stepchildren through caring for them and praying for them. We are often entering into a broken situation and God can use us to bring healing to those in our new family.

Future Works to Come

Right now, I am working on a workbook to go with the Second Marriage book, which should be out by the end of the month. There is also an audiobook scheduled for the end of September. As well, I am putting together an accompanying journal for those in second marriages. The journal will give readers more room to reflect on the issues talked about in the book. My goal is to have this journal out by the end of October.

About the Author

Sharilee Swaity, author


Sharilee Swaity lives with her husband, Vern, in the boreal forest of Manitoba, Canada, with two cats. Sharilee has a Bachelor of Education and worked as a teacher for ten years. She helps out her church with their social media presence and recently directed their Vacation Bible School program.

Sharilee, it has been a pleasure to host you and share your book. 

Because you have 'been there- done that' your book, and coming workbook will be very valuable to those who find themselves in a similar situation. While it is not an ideal situation by any means, because of the past  hurts,  to 'blunder' into another relationship without taking the time to evaluate sets us up for failure. We need to deal with the 'baggage' we carry with us. Your book will be an excellent step in doing that... dumping the baggage and moving forward.

Thank you for sharing your book, and your life with us.

You can connect with Sharilee...

On Facebook
Sharilee on Facebook

On Twitter
https://twitter.com/prairienomad

On Pinterest
https://au.pinterest.com/sharilees/

On Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/lifeinwoods/

And for her blog - Second Chance Love -
http://secondmarriage.xyz/

I trust that you have found this week's blog encouraging and will join me in thanking Sharilee for her time,  and commitment to helping mend the 'broken' - God bless

Susan

Mourning the Living

Mourning the living is like being in a dark valley

A dear friend once said that to me… she was ‘Mourning the living’ – and I understood what she was saying. She was referring to her husband’s deteriorating condition due to his memory loss.

I knew what it meant because of my beautiful grandmother. In those days it was called Senile Dementia, and my grandmother suffered from it, eventually being hospitalized.

Mourning the living

It sounds a contradiction but it is not. Rather, it is a heart-wrenching ordeal. It is so painful to see the person – usually looking the same… my beloved grandmother – but she wasn’t there. I was someone who visited her and talked with her. I wonder if she knew I had been.

mourning lost memories, like books in a librarry

 

Where had she gone?

Sometimes she was agitated… perhaps trying to find those missing memories.

  • Where had the memories gone?
  • Where was her long lifetime of experiences?

She had children, her husband had died, she lost her home, she saw her children grow and marry… she helped raise her grandchildren.

And they grew up too.

In the various stages of memory loss – at first there is some insight. The person knows they are forgetting more and more… perhaps guessing what is happening. I do not presume to even hazard a guess at what the ‘sufferer’ is feeling.

And the person mourning with the sufferer?

He or she is suffering too.

I can only speak from my own experience.

I loved my grandmother.

We all lived together till we children also grew up and moved away.
Then I came home to live for a time.

For as long as possible my mother tried to cope. But granny would turn on the gas burners on the cooker, and forget to light them.

Then there were the complaints about the ‘Meals on Wheels’ service that supplied lunches during the week because my mother and I were working

"They smother everything in white sauce..."

My mother discovered that no, they didn’t smother everything with white sauce. Granny was tipping the pudding – custard or semolina – over the main course.

It would have been funny if it had not been so sad.

missing memories

Lost, confused, perplexed, uncertain – how did she feel as she sank farther and farther into the missing memories?

Understand those who are mourning the living

It is hard to find the words to explain what it is like to see someone you love, who looks like the person you love… but they are no longer there.

Instead there is the frustration of answering the same question over and over again. Of asking them to do something – and they either forget, or have forgotten how to do it.

I remember feeling it was like having a young child follow me around… but this was my grandmother. The person who had told me stories, who had encouraged me, and soothed my fears.

It is one of the hardest things to bear… living with them as if with a child, not be cross, and remember the life they lived before this devastating … what?

Is it a disease?

image of lost child

“Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.”
Dictionary definition from Alzheimer’s.org

If you ask the person who has the primary care of a person with one of the ‘wide range of symptoms’ – I doubt they would be able to tell you anything – they are too busy trying to cope.

Perhaps if you are a close friend and live nearby, you could offer to take the person out – to a park for a walk – but be alert. The sufferer might wander off.

  • Maybe make a meal now and again.
  • Ask the Carer if there is anything you can do to help.

On the other hand, it might be that all you can do is pray for them. That is important!

I see there are many ‘helps’ now – but I wonder how fit the Carer is to take advantage of them.

http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp

It is a long and lonely road for people in this situation. Please remember the stress they are going through. It changes the Carer as well as the sufferer.

 

In memory of my beloved grandmother, and in recognition of the daily stress of others in the same situation.

Susan

 

 

Christian Regency romance fiction

Christian Regency romance fiction is the next stop on the journey through Christian Historical Fiction.

Please join me in welcoming the  talented author Carolyn Miller to this week's blog.

Carolyn has agreed to give us an overview of this genre.

Christian Regency author, Carolyn Miller

The Classic Definition

The classic definition of ‘historical romance’ is not one about fiction set in the past that deals with love, but rather, in Walter Scott’s words, “a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents.” Novels (or films) like Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, even Wolf Hall, may be considered historical romances, even though they may not have a strong emphasis on the romantic relationship between the characters.

Nowadays, most of us associate historical romance with a story set in the past (pre-WWII) that focuses on the developing attraction between two main characters, with an emotionally satisfying, optimistic ending. Historical romance genres span time periods from the Ancient World, Medieval and Elizabethan age, through to Colonial US and Western time periods.

Regency romance is a subgenre of historical romance, being defined as novels set between the years 1811-1820, when the Prince Regent, (later George IV) ruled England in place of his ill father. Although Jane Austen’s novels were published in this time period they were set a few years prior, so there are questions as to whether they truly can be considered Regency fiction.

'Vintage blank' image papyrus

Georgette Heyer, a prolific English writer of the 1920s-1960s, modelled her fiction on Jane Austen’s works, and used a great deal of period details to give a sense of authenticity to her works. This included basing plots around real events, such as the Napoleonic Wars, the precise descriptions of clothing and furniture, the use of Regency-era ‘cant’ (slang, such as “all the crack” to describe something very fashionable, or “bluestocking” to describe an academic female) all to aid her readers’ understanding an unfamiliar time period. Her commitment to research was such that she had whole rooms devoted to research materials – this was pre-internet days – and even saw her purchase a letter written by the Duke of Wellington, just so she could emulate his style of address. Not for nothing is she considered to have invented the Regency romance genre, and spawned so many imitators, Barbara Cartland being one.

Other elements often found in Regency fiction

In addition to period details and the romance genre’s expectations of a HEA (happily ever after), there are a number of other elements often found in Regency fiction:

  • References to the ton (British high society, consisting of the aristocracy and fashionably wealthy)  
  • Portrayals of social activities as carriage rides, morning visits (often paid in the afternoon), dinners, plays, operas, assemblies, balls, considered usual for the social season, which occurred between January and June, when Parliament was in session.
  • Mention of sporting activities engaged in by young gentlemen of the period, such as riding, driving, boxing, fencing, hunting, shooting, etc.
  • Social class differences
  • Marriages of convenience: marriage based on love was unlikely for most women, their main concern to acquire a steady and sufficient income for the woman and her family
  • False engagements, and mistaken identity, deliberate or otherwise
  • Mystery or farce elements in the storyline
Woman with magnifying glass

Traditional Regency romance, with an emphasis on the primary romance plot, usually have very detailed historical details and try to emulate the language of the period – for their notoriously picky readers. J  Regency historical romance is considered slightly different, and may have more modern characterisations, and a degree of sensuality (ie bodice rippers) not in keeping with Regency values.

Christian Regency Romance Fiction

This really took off in the early 2000s with Lori Wick’s ‘English Garden’ series. More contemporary Christian Regency authors (they’re mostly US) include Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Kristi Ann Hunter – and yours truly, waving the flag for Australasia! J In addition to the usual Regency elements we also see the depiction of the hero and heroine’s faith, with common themes including forgiveness, commitment and social injustice, and the ‘heat’ of secular novels restricted to a chaste touch of the hand or (gasp!) a kiss.

Regency romance has many avid admirers – some of whom may have been persuaded to read by Jane Austen films and a certain Colin Firth. Reading such novels can be a great way to gain a little more understanding about a time in English history that witnessed such things as the Napoleonic Wars, the advent of industrialisation and subsequent social upheaval, adventure and exploration and excess. Couple that with observing the relationship trials – and the fantasy element of grand houses and handsome, titled heroes – and there can be a lot to enjoy and appreciate about Regency romances.

Carolyn's books...

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has co-pastored a church for ten years, written songs and headed music ministry, and worked as a high school English and Learning and Support teacher.

A long-time lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives.

Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Australasian Christian Writers and Omega Christian Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Her debut Regency novel ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’ released in February 2017, and her second ‘The Captivating Lady Charlotte’ released in June from Kregel Publications.

Connect with her at www.carolynmillerauthor.com and subscribe to her newsletter.

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Christian Historical Fiction – Lonna Seibert

This week, we move out of the era of early Christianity and cover another time period identified as popular by readers of Christian Historical fiction. (I will include a link to the Readers’ Survey results at the end.)

In the meantime, please welcome Lonna Seibert.

Lonna is the author of the, as yet unpublished novel, ‘A Servant’s Heart’.

Over to you, Lonna, please tell us a little about yourself and your novel.

     Thank you, Susan.

Lonna Seibert, author

During the summer of 2015, I wrote my first book. I am a wife and the mother of two young children, and at that time, I was a stay at home mom. My educational and professional background is in history and archaeology.
One day, while visiting a local historic site near my home in northern Virginia, the idea for my story began to form. I was at a point in my life where I doubted my usefulness and questioned whether I had anything more to contribute to the world.

I know that God is the reason I was able to create something out of nothing. Writing this story increased my confidence and self-esteem and reminded me that I can do hard things at a time when I was full of doubts about my purpose.

Written from a Christian worldview...

          A Servant’s Heart is an inspirational romance.

 In writing this story I hoped to show the redeeming nature of love, despite the trials of life. By writing a love story, I have shown that God's love for us determines everything else. My story proclaims the paramount importance of a place to call our own—home; and people to love—family. And it shows us that through God's grace we can find these gifts anywhere if we only look with open minds and hearts.

A Servant's Heart

Christian story, A Servants Heart

Catherine Abbott, reeling and alone after her parents’ deaths and a betrayal by a manipulative suitor, leaves her past behind and sails from England to colonial Virginia. Full of hope and bolstered by her faith in God, she is determined to build a new life.
As an indentured servant for hire she attracts the attention of a man with a frightening reputation. But local physician James Craig notices her predicament and purchases her indenture, preventing the other man from hiring—and possibly hurting—her.

James takes Catherine to live and work at River Farm, his home on the Potomac. His initial intention as a Christian man is to protect her, but the two grow to care for each other. James’s past, like Catherine’s, is complicated and they both struggle to trust, acknowledge, and act on their feelings.

As the colonies teeter on the brink of war, the couple faces an uncertain future, as well as a more immediate danger. Catherine’s obsessive admirer returns, threatening her safety and James’s life.

When the American Revolution begins, James joins the Continental Army as a surgeon.

After the war, he is full of dark moods from the suffering and death he witnessed on the battlefield. He loses sight of the perfect promise of God’s love and becomes convinced that love leads only to pain. Instead of embracing the wonderful gift God has given to His people, James sees the emotion as a burden.

Christian story, A servants hear, American civil war

Catherine possesses a fierce and steadfast belief in God’s goodness. When the life she knew is suddenly gone, her fear of a future she cannot see, control, nor even imagine leads her to rely more completely on God. Catherine’s idealism and optimism propel her to begin the painful process of starting over, and her faith is rewarded when she finds the life God always intended for her. As Catherine draws closer to God, James experiences a crisis of faith and worries that Catherine won’t love him if he no longer shares her beliefs. Unless they can let go of the broken trust of past relationships, overcome his combat trauma, and trust in God, happiness and love will elude them.

Lonna says....

A Servant’s Heart affirms that God is present and working for our good even when we can’t understand the process or know the outcome. It is a story of woman searching for a home, a man standing in the way of his own happiness, love thwarted by the course of history, and a message of hope about the power of God.

I do not know exactly how or why these elements came together in my mind and resulted in characters I love and a story I am proud of. It is my dream to see this story in print and I am relying on God to guide me in my endeavors. I am hoping to find a literary agent who will champion my book but the road to publication is rocky and uncertain. I do not know what the future holds, but God knows, and He will reveal His plans to me, just as He does to those who live and love at River Farm.

Susan Preston, image

Thank you Lonna for sharing about yourself and your manuscript… hopefully to be published soon.

You are welcome, Susan, thank you for inviting me to be your guest.

Thank you, readers, for making Lonna welcome.

God-willing we will hear more of Lonna Seibert and A Servant's Heart in the future.

Now... if you want to see the results of the Readers’ Survey which many of you completed, you will find them here…

http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/reader-survey-results/

With many thanks and good wishes to all who participated in the survey!

Susan

Diana Wallis Taylor, Christian Historical Fiction author

Introducing Diana Wallis Taylor, guest blogger this week.

Diana Wallis Taylor is….

A winner of the “Writer of the Year” award by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. She has completed four novels of Biblical Fiction for Revell, two novels of Biblical Fiction with a third in production, and a Halloween book, “Harmless Fun or Risky Business” for Whitaker House.

Diana Taylor, author

Her fourth book, Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate, was nominated for ACFW’s Carol Award. She won first place in the San Diego Book Awards for her short story “Phipps and the Jay”; First place in Christian Romance for her book Smoke Before the Wind; First place in Christian Fiction for her e-book, House of the Forest; Second place for Martha, First place for her manuscript for A Distant Mountain (now Shadows on the Mountain); all in Reader’s Favorite Book Review and Award Contest. Her collection of poetry, Wings of the Wind came out in 2006. Her writing contributions appear in various compilation books and magazines.

However... 

Diana is going to tell us about her recent book -

Mary, Chosen of God

           “Blessed are you, Mary, chosen of God.”

Mary is an ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter’s son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates at the stars. But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news and her life is changed forever. Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of anticipation in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even crucified and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith.

Diana says…

I didn't plan on writing a book on Mary, the mother of Jesus. There are already countless books on this woman who looms larger than life on history's stage. What could I say about her that has not already been written?

Then the Lord whispered to my heart to show her humanity. Write a book from Mary's viewpoint. We read in the Scriptures of events in her life, but how did she react to them?

  • How did she contemplate the angel's visit?
  • Was it a vision, a dream?

It was overwhelming to a young woman only around 14 years old, an average age to be betrothed in the small village of Nazareth. She went to Elizabeth, mainly to see if the angel's words were true, that it was not a dream, and she was truly to be the mother of the Messiah.

Elizabeth did not live in the next village as supposed by many, she lived over 120 miles away in Juttah, the town of priests, past Jerusalem and Hebron. How did Mary get there and how did she persuade her parents, and Joseph, to let her go?

The Bible is full of challenging logistics!

I poured through God's Word and began to see Mary's character and her heart. She became more than a figure in the Scriptures, she became real to me. I realize that as I portrayed her humanity, and her family lifestyle (we must remember that she lived in a small village where everyone knew everyone) it would be challenging to some.  She gathered water from the well, nursed her son, and subsequent children, cooked meals for her family and according to the Scriptures, was a loving wife to her husband in every sense of the word, blessed by God. They had more children, for the brothers of Jesus are listed in the Scriptures. Letters from two of those brothers are included in the Bible; The Book of James and the Book of Jude.

 I realize this would conflict with the teachings of those of another denomination, but as with my other books, it is based on what is written in the Scriptures.

Learning about Mary opened up familiar stories in new ways. When we search for truth, God truly opens our eyes.

Susan Preston, image

Thank you, Diana… I feel the same way about what I discovered writing the Apostle John Series – and have been criticized for saying he was married when ‘everyone knows’ he never married.

I researched that too, of course, and found some unusual suggestions about his possible wife. So, not ‘everyone knows.’

And now, for more information, buying links and about her other books head on over to Diana’s website and see her award-winning work.

http://dianawallistaylor.com/books/mary-chosen-of-god/

Christian Historical Fiction Author, Carol Ashby

Carol Ashby website image
Carol Ashby, author

This week please welcome Carol Ashby to the blog.

Welcome Carol, and thank you for agreeing to tell us about Carol Ashby, author. It might interest readers to know that the 'featured image' on this blog is from Carol's website and provided by Walters Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.

Carol's novels are set in the time of the Roman Empire. A little later in time than the Apostle John series, but about people living with the challenge of death for their faith.

A little of my history will put how I write in perspective.

I have a Ph.D. in chemistry and worked in research for many years. You could say I’ve been a professional writer almost all my life since being a scientist means writing many technical journal articles about your research. That background makes me obsessive for getting the details of my time period correct. It also equips me to pull information from books by history professors and use it to make my stories as historically accurate as I possibly can.

Most historical fiction writers try hard to get their history right, but some time periods are easier than others. Fortunately, the Roman Empire has been a popular topic for a long time, and there’s lots of information available. I now have more than six dozen books by experts in Roman history. (Yes, I’m a bookaholic, but what writer isn’t?)

To make my characters behave like “real” people true to their own time, I study everyday things like normal household activities, food preparation, clothing and uniforms, and medical practice in the Roman world. It can be very dangerous to be in my novels, and I actually use the translation of the 8 volumes on Roman medicine written by Celsus during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius.

Sketch of Roman man in toga

We history buffs love sharing the details of our favorite eras. I’ve turned my research into a Roman history website. You will find the link at the end of the post.

 I try to add something new every week. Some topics include slavery, adoption, and why you’d really want to be a Roman citizen if you were charged with a crime. I’m working on an article on medicine right now.

Did you know the Romans did cataract surgery?

Books by Carol Ashby

The novels of the Light in the Empire series are set in different provinces of the Roman empire at its peak, between AD 114 and 122.

Two are published now, and four more will be releasing during the next two years.

The first, Forgiven, is set in Judea where a family of Messianic Jews whose son was killed by a Roman soldier care for an injured Roman officer after his own brother tries to murder him to inherit more of the family fortune

The second, Blind Ambition, is set in Germania where a German Christian risks having her whole family executed for their faith when she finds a Roman officer left for dead by robbers and takes her enemy home to care for him.

These stories are about people who struggle to live out their love for Jesus when the desires of their hearts or the demands of their culture are pulling them in another direction. Sound like a contemporary problem?

If your own experience is anything like mine, I bet you’ve experienced that struggle yourself.

But there’s nothing more exhilarating than seeing a friend you care about who didn’t even have God on her/his radar begin to ask questions about life and eternity. That’s a unifying theme in all my novels. Each one is a story of hope about human love and spiritual transformation, a story about how our faithfulness can inspire another to open his or her heart to God.

What got me started writing Roman?

From the safety of living the US, I’ve been watching and praying for my Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who risk everything and sometimes pay the ultimate price when they stay true to the faith. I couldn’t miss the parallel between their lives and those of early Christians during the time of Roman persecution. A few months before I retired, God put it on my heart to start writing stories about people living their faith in dangerous times.

As a follower of Jesus working as a scientist, I’ve had many opportunities to share with my friends why I believe. It’s those years of honest conversation with friends and colleagues that guide how my characters approach their lives. The believers know why they believe, and it isn’t just because they grew up in a culture influenced by Christian teaching. My characters who are not Christians at the beginning of each story ask the same questions I’ve been asked by friends. They wrestle with the intellectual and emotional questions that confront them when they see how a genuine believer lives out what Jesus taught in a time when that might get them executed by the Roman state.

When I talk with someone about my faith, it has nothing to do with trying to prove I’m right and they’re wrong. It’s because I want to share the most wonderful thing any human can experience. It’s because I’ve seen how God loves me more than I can even imagine, even though I can never be good enough on my own to earn the right to be in the presence of all that’s perfect and holy. He loves me enough to take human form and be tortured to death on a Roman cross for my sin to give me an escape route from the death I deserve to life with Him.

God isn’t some fairytale figure made up to comfort or scare us.

If that were the case, my scientific training would have “cured” me of belief before I even got my undergraduate degree. But it was my first biochemistry class that guaranteed I would believe in God, whether it was culturally popular or not.

Paper and pencil cartoon

Give me 5 minutes with paper and pencil, and I can show you some simple facts of molecular biology and the easy math that lets you calculate the probability of getting heads or tails when you flip a coin. That’s all I need to prove it’s statistically impossible for life to have accidentally started. Once the math and science convince you there was a designer, how could a person not start asking questions about who that designer is, does he want you to know him, and what is he willing to do so you can?

My stories are about selfish ambition, envy, greed, hatred, love, painful loss, and world-view transformation set in the Roman world at the peak of the Empire. But nothing has really changed between then and now except our technology. God still loves us and wants a loving relationship with each of us. The mental and emotional struggle that can keep someone from accepting that hasn’t changed one bit in 2000 years.

I love writing stories where someone struggles through the swamp in the valley to reach the bright sunshine of the mountaintop beyond. The beauty of writing historical fiction is having a setting that’s enough different from our own daily experience that it’s easier to set aside our cultural conditioning to consider what we believe and how we might want to live as we enjoy a compelling story

Carol, thank you so much for sharing your writing, and yourself.

It has been an honor and a privilege to hear from you.

Now... if you want to explore Carol's website and enjoy the benefit of her research here is the link to get there. (You will find links to buy her books there also.)

http://www.carolashby.com

Enjoy,

Susan

Blessing of Christian Historical Fiction

Potter and the clay

Whether Biblical Fiction or Christian Historical fiction is an 'Ugly Truth' or a 'Blessing' is up to each reader to decide. It is a personal choice.

The title of this weeks post in the series is 'The Blessing...'

I have been greatly encouraged by the response of the named authors in last week’s post on Christian, Historical fiction. As I mentioned in the first post in this series, some of the writers on my list are more in the category of Biblical fiction, than Christian Historical Fiction. Still, I wonder how many of us – without deep study are aware of how much ‘New Testament’ principles are in what we refer to as the ‘Old Testament.’

Biblical Fiction or Christian Fiction?

Bible. One book, two testaments

I am inclined to believe that the Bible is one book with two testaments as some of my studies revealed. This seems to be confirmed by Jesus Himself.

"You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me," 
John 5:39 Berean Study Bible.

 

For myself, I learn a lot from Biblical fiction writers such as Lynn Austin, Mesu Andrews and Jill Eileen Smith… mainly because the encourage me to see people or events in the Old Testament through different eyes… fresh eyes. I will never forget living through the construction of what is known as ‘Hezekiah’s tunnel’ – something that is easily read over in Scripture.
But I cannot just focus on the books of the aforementioned authors – all the writers who are skilled, and work hard with their research really do open the Bible to being more than stories… but being about people, the culture and the times.

Biblical fiction bears fruit

Present and past -

Last Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to a very welcoming church group. It was an enjoyable experience… and also illuminating. Another speaker, a member of their congregation shared his experience of living in Holland under Nazi rule. What he said was not fiction… but given that he was talking of events 73 years ago, it was historical. As I listened to his tale of living without electricity, gas, transport other than walking – my mind wandered to the number of times writing my book series where I had wished Naomi had a ‘proper’ cooker, or some of the key characters had even a landline telephone. The ‘perils’ of writing historical fiction, be it Christian or non-Christian remain the same… the lives of the characters, and their language was different to ours today.

The male speaker I referred to earlier certainly had the setting correct… well, he should, he lived through it. He talked about the culture of evening soirees where people visited each other and had musical evenings. I have seen this type of culture in good quality films of the period. This man was a walking historical experience.

An 'ugly' bit...

I recently gave up on a ‘Christian, Historical Fiction’ book because the main character seemed to have been plucked from modern times, stuck in a Biblical setting… and was so out-of-character with the mores of the time and culture… I could read no further.

Ugly bit over!

The gifted ones.

The authors I mentioned… and the others I read… clearly did not live through the events they write about. However, they have the gifting and determination to use the gifts to help the rest of us to ‘see’ the events – and people they write about.

These are the ones who open a window - or a door to Biblical fiction and help us discover the people.

Thank YOU!

Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey. Interestingly, there seems to be a fairly even split between readers who like Old Testament fiction and Christian Historical Fiction. The survey closes on the 5th July, so there is still time to have your say. Remember, it is anonymous, has six short questions, most of them multi-choice so if you like more than one item you can tick (check) more than one… or them all.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

I will share the results with you, naturally.

Next week's guest...

Next week we have the privilege of hearing from Carol Ashby… who is a Christian, Historical Fiction writer. Not to be confused with the English actress Carol Ashby… this Carol Ashby is a retired scientist, with a passion for getting the details right.

Her novel, Forgiven, explores… well, I will leave it to you to find out next week. (I am often upbraided for giving ‘spoilers’ – so I am turning over a new leaf.)

Not a spoiler but - it is a fascinating story

Cover of Forgiven

As for this week's featured image…
‘I am the potter, you are the clay’ seems appropriate to Christian/Biblical Historical Fiction writers. (Based on Isaiah 64:8)

Tread softly…

Susan

PS
Another link to the survey
                               https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

The Ugly Truth About Christian Historical Fiction

Christian Historical Fiction books

Readers either love or hate Christian Historical fiction. There are very few who ‘sort-of like it’. If you, as a reader, say you do… my guess would be that it depends on some of the things I will cover in this post.

Stay tuned!

First, what is the ‘ugly truth’ about Christian Historical fiction?

  1. Well, for one – like all historical fiction, the books are usually long.
  2. Sometimes the term ‘Biblical’ fiction would be a better description.
  3. Another downside is it is a bit difficult to check the details.
  4. Then comes the fear – what if the author is trying to convert me?

Another ugly truth is – sometimes the author IS trying to convert you.

On the other hand, some authors enjoy writing about this time period and like to share what they have discovered. These authors open a door to the past to help you to understand what the time and culture was like for the characters in the novel.

For some, readers and authors, it is digging into the pages of the Bible and finding the people, the way they lived, seeing the challenges they faced.

There is yet another ugly truth…

Discovering the people behind the stories might change the way you view the Bible.

Image representing Christian Historical Fiction
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To make it more understandable, and to improve the reader’s experience I have researched this topic.

Why?

Because of the comment made by a minister that my writing reminded him of a book series by Lynn Austin. (Which I take as a great compliment because I enjoy Lynn Austin’s historical fiction books. Yes, I read Christian Historical Fiction as well as write books in that genre.)

I made a list of authors of Christian Historical Fiction.

As well as Lynn Austin there is Francine Rivers, Jill Eileen Smith, Mesu Andrews, Carol Ashby,  Diana Wallis Taylor, and Nina Gould. A new author I have just discovered is Linda Lee Chaikin, who writes in more recent historical times. These are just a few of the famous Christian historical fiction authors currently writing – and my apologies to the ones I have missed. (I read more than those listed.)

I usually read reviews… so please, readers – review the books you read – it helps the rest of us choose what to read next.

Here is the first key to understanding reader’s feelings about Christian Historical Fiction.

(This I figured out from studying reviews for a wide variety of authors in this genre.)

The subject ‘Christian Historical Fiction’ is too broad and can be quite confusing for the reader.

Why?

Because there are many time periods in Christian Historical Fiction books…

  • Beginning of time – as with the Adam, Eve and family novel.
  • Various Old Testament biblical times

These first two categories are Biblical history but are usually grouped together with the following…

  • Time of Christ
  • Time of the Apostles
  • Toward the end of the apostolic age (where the Apostle John Series is set)

Then there is the 2nd century – where Diana Wallis Taylor writes, and later, the Medici/Huguenot era where Linda Lee Chaikin’s Silk House Trilogy is set.

Then there are various ‘modern’ ages also classified as Christian Historical Fiction.

  • There are also ‘categories’ within these ages.
  • Biblical – based on scripture (Old or New Testaments)
  • Biblical background purely fictitious characters.
  • More modern still in the time of the US… Western pioneering.

Christian Historical Fiction Readers –

Clock faceWhen you buy a book you are investing more than just the price of the book – you are making an investment of your time. In this day an age more and more people are time-poor.

 

I created a survey to try to help both readers and writers by narrowing this expanse of time classified as Christian Historical Fiction down.

My motive… well, if we know what period and type of Christian Historical fiction we are interested in it can save time and money because, as readers, we can make an informed choice.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

What do I mean save time and money?

By choosing the wrong era… or the wrong category.

More than once I have been reading a book – and given up on it because it was not what I expected it to be.

So, this survey should help authors and more especially readers. Yes, writers want sales – and reviews, but more importantly, authors want to serve/entertain/even educate readers… depending on what the reader wants.

Hey! Did you readers know how much power you have? LOL

There will be guest posts, reviews and background information on books/authors who write in the different eras and categories.

This post was born out of the minister’s comment about my writing… and my frustration with some of the books which said they were Christian Historical Fiction – but were not.

Come, join me for the next few weeks. You might find it interesting. Stay with the series throughout July and you might just find that the title ‘Ugly Truth about Christian Historical Fiction’ should read – ‘The Blessing of Historical Fiction.’

Susan

Here is another link to the survey at the end. It should not take long, a couple of minutes at most. It asks for no identifying details or household income, just your reading preferences in this genre.

It is for readers, bloggers, authors – anyone who is interested and any age group.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

Click the link to the short survey and respond to the questions – thanks… future readers will thank you.

Life as a Carer

It is lonely being a Carer

Anyone who is chronically ill needs a carer, or carers.

Last week I shared an item that I reacted to… that of a man, who was refused a flight booked by a hospital for a lung transport.

The news article (Adelaide Advertiser, South Australia) which prompted the blog was about a man with Pulmonary Fibrosis who had come up as a match for a lung transplant and been refused a seat on the flight the hospital doing the transplant had booked. I will not go into the details of that post, although I do need to make an observation.

One… there might not have been oxygen available on that flight for the man. This seems strange since the flight was booked by the hospital who would have done the transplant had the man been able to arrive there in time.

However, it also stirred up my thinking about the Carer… the person or people who care for the person with a chronic illness.

Unless a person who has a chronic illness lives alone and has no visitors, that person has at least one Carer.

Life as a Carer…

Life as a Carer often involves being a ‘parental’ figure. Often the person being cared for does not have an accurate view of his or her condition. This is a hard part of the carer’s job. Being the one who assesses what is needed for every hospital appointment, how to travel there safely and what medications might be missed/needed during the time away from home.

But carers often have the unenviable role of ‘nurse’, and – there’s more…

Carers often have to learn…

Carer has to learn

About the disease, its treatment, and management

About the medications prescribed including what they are for, any special instructions and potential side effects

Sometimes these put the Carer into the role of ‘antagonist’ to the person they are trying to support, often the person they love.

The carer needs…

  • Skills to help manage the fatigue, pain, frustration, and isolation that people with chronic disease often get – as well as their own.
  • To be able to communicate effectively with health professionals by answering questions accurately, asking your own questions and making sure you understand the information provided to you. (Talk about the information needed with the person you are caring for, if possible, and write the questions down and take them with you.)

One of my huge frustrations, and it was my late husband’s also…  was the specialist/doctor wanted him to answer questions. However, he did not understand the terms they used, and having been a nurse, I did. But, at least to begin with they did not want to hear my observations on his condition.

This had a counterpoint (opposing viewpoint) – sometimes my observations and his – clashed.

I remember attending a workshop for carers… At the beginning we were given a list of all the roles a Carer performed. It was a long list.

Something else a Carer needs –

… Understanding – or at least acceptance.

If you know someone who is a Carer – try to ‘cut them some slack’ – one of the first things to happen is they become ‘unreliable.’

  • They cannot make arrangements to have friends come to visit, or go to visit them. Many times they will have to cancel any arrangements. So, either the friends drop them, or they withdraw rather than face the embarrassment of having to cancel… again.
    • You will have to understand. (Or give up on the person.) It would be kinder to expect nothing and accept that it is a black or white spectrum. There are no shades of gray in this kind of life.

If you decide to care for the Carer… and the person.

  • Be understanding.
  • Accept that arrangements might change without notice, and do not take offense if they do.
  • Be a person they can trust with their feelings.

Being a Carer for a loved one is a very difficult ‘role’, so you need to accept that it is a way of life – their way of life. Lives which revolve around medical appointments, tests, medication times, and sometimes hospital admissions. These are the ‘outings’ for the Carer and person being cared for.

Being a Carer – or a person needing a carer is a very lonely place to be. Ask any Carer and they will tell you how difficult it is to hide their feelings and struggles from the person they are caring for. Ask anyone needing care and, depending on their insight about their Carer, they will tell you how much it hurts them to see the person caring for them struggling to cope with their care.

Whether the person is a Carer of an adult, a child, or someone in between, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or any form of dementia – in spite of differences in the type of care, they face the same loneliness. Sometimes the Carer never ‘gets’ their friends back. Without a supportive family or network, isolation sets in and becomes a way of life.

On the outside, isolated, although near people. It is a lonely place to be.

Loneliness of a Carer, in a crowd

Just thinking, and sharing.

Susan