Trials Have a Purpose?

Trials have a purpose

Do trials have a purpose? Well, that is what I believe. But, being honest,  I wonder how many of us have at times thought of the following scripture and said, “God thinks I can bear more than I think I can.”

There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
 Corinthians 10:13 (ASV)

How many of us seek, but cannot see, the way of escape promised in that scripture.

Trials fascinate many writers and musicians

I watched a video clip of an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ – I will link to the clip at the end.

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

In book three of the Apostle John series, I wrote about the trials of a background character who moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, makes a re-entry. In the third book, The Light of Truth, things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John. (There are another two books in the series, making five in all and trials abound in them, because they abound in life.)

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song ‘Before the Morning?’ Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I learnt a great deal about why things happen. Sometimes we just have to wait and trust.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said ’,“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these encouragements about trials

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in Him grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise in every stage of his walk on earth must have been enormous, and another scripture says

He learned obedience through the things He suffered. Heb 5: 8

Our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help. Standing still sometimes is trusting God for relief.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

Thinking

Susan

The Gorilla and the Grasshopper

Gorilla

Who is the gorilla and who is the grasshopper? Well, in my post the gorilla is Amazon and the grasshopper is me. I figure I am less in the sight of Amazon than a grasshopper but the connotation of mites is not pleasant.

Why do I make this comparison?

Because my exchanges with Amazon customer service have been frustrating, when I managed to find them, and without resolution or reply to my question. I also understand that to them I am not important.

The Gorilla

Like many victims of the Gorilla’s algorithm I lost many honest reviews. Some were from people on my mailing list – and I didn’t tell them to leave 5-star reviews. A few might have, but I do not know who had left them. All I knew was that the review total dropped. What I did notice a few weeks ago was a puzzling notice when I clicked to review in order to put a direct link into the back of my latest novella..

Amazon, the gorilla stomps

So, I checked my books and novellas.
Hold the Faith – has the notice.
Grow in Grace – has the notice.
Light of Truth – has the notice.
Keep the Flame – has the notice.
Hell Shall Not prevail – you guessed it – has the notice.
After the Thirty Days – has the notice.
No Evil Shall Befall You – has the notice.
Clash of Faiths, now also has the notice.

Apostle John Fiction and spin-off novellas, cover images
Amazon gorilla gatekeeper

Shock, puzzlement, annoyance, and then another doze of bewilderment set in. Because every one of my books had that notice, and still have, I had no choice but to brave the gatekeeper and contact Customer Service.

I say ‘brave the gatekeeper’ because the few times I have tried to contact Amazon customer service the ‘hoops and pages’ to go through are daunting. Then ‘Contact Us’ requires choices from a series of drop-down choices… none of which have ever fitted my query.

The Grasshopper

Well, I went through the hoops and reached a chat option. (Email was not an option.) After reiterating all that I had put in ‘Other’ in order to move forward, the person asked me to wait while he/she checked.

I did.

Thew grasshopper

When the person returned it was to tell me that someone would contact me by email within twenty-four hours.

That didn’t happen. Another day later, I jumped through the hoops again and spoke to another operator – who did the same thing… asked me to wait while he/she checked. This time the reply was slightly different. “The reason for the delay is that there is an issue. I promise it will be sorted within twenty four hours.’

Truly – the person said ‘promise.’

email icon

Well it was more than twenty-four hours, but an email finally arrived.

 

This is a copy of the text.

Hello,

When we detect unusual reviewing behavior on a product, we place limits on review submissions. We may limit the submission of all reviews or limit reviews to Amazon Verified Purchase reviews. We place limits on reviews to preserve trust in customer reviews.

While we are unable to determine when the limits may be removed, customers are free to try submitting reviews later.

My question had been ‘Why is there a notice on each of my books and novellas saying, ‘We are currently unable to accept a review for this product.’

However, I now had an email address so didn’t need the customer service hoops, so replied to the email and said that the reply did not answer my question… and asked my question again, with some additional, appropriate information. Also, what is unusual reviewing behavior?

The next reply was even less relevant.

Customer Reviews are removed for the following reasons:

• The review violates our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
• A customer can decide to remove their own review.
• The review is on a page that incorrectly links multiple items. We remove these reviews when we separate the items.

To protect the privacy of our customers, we do not share information about specific reviews with anyone other than the customer who posted it.

Stomped on by the gorilla. I did try in the Amazon Facebook group and they sent me an address, but all that happened when I used it to ask my question was a similar ‘off-topic’ reply.

Susan M B Preston, author

I am glad that my writings are not ‘exclusive’ to Amazon. If their algorithms do this to many people, Amazon might find it is a monkey in the room, not the gorilla.

Stomped on but not squashed,

Susan

Identifying Signs

Egyptian signs on column

Humankind (to be politically correct) has used signs since they were able to scratch out a sign in the earth. Language developed from the signs and the featured image shows the Egyptian hieroglyphics. A lot more complex than my memory of childhood games in Scotland.

One such game was rather  elaborate game where someone would go off well ahead of the group and leave a chalk sign – usually an arrow, to indicate a change of direction. The rest of the group followed later, using the chalk signs to find the first person.

I remember an elaborate game where someone would go off well ahead of the group and leave a chalk sign – usually an arrow, to indicate a change of direction. The rest of the group followed later, using the chalk signs to find the first person.

chalk signs

This only works if the one the others is following gives accurate directions, and does not turn the opposite direction. In this such a case the sign would be misleading.

Signs can be ignored

 

Possibly the most common signs to be ignored would be speed limit signs or even a stop sign at a road junction.

(Sometimes with catastrophic consequences.)

Signs of Christian Faith

Many Christians identify themselves using a piece of jewelry – a cross, either as a necklace, earrings, or even a pin/badge.

Yet the Greek word translated as ‘cross’ is stauros which means stake.

According to The Companion Bible, crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian Sun-god.

(Image of Shamash, sun-god, found on Pinterest.)

Last week I wrote about Constantine’s conversion.

It turns out that he is credited with bringing the ‘cross’ we recognize today into Christianity.

The most accepted reason for the “cross” being brought into Messianic worship is Constantine’s famous vision of “the cross superimposed on the sun” in A.D. 312. What he saw is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Even after his so-called “conversion,” his coins showed an even-armed cross as a symbol for the Sun-god.”

http://tyndalearchive.com/scriptures/www.innvista.com/scriptures/compare/heathenb.htm

(This information is available at several sites.)

History of Christian 'signs.'

Many of the ‘symbols’ we associate with Christianity were originally associated with Chaldean/Babylonian worship.

(I may share some of these fascinating details in a future post, but to do it here would take the post off-topic and be far too long.)

If you are interested do an Internet search on Tammuz (said to be the origin of the Tau cross.)

Early Christians' views on the 'Cross'

When writing the Apostle John Series, I spent years researching and endeavoring to walk in the shoes of those early Christians. One think I am clear on… to those early Christians the ‘cross’ or ‘stauros’ was an instrument of torture and death.

https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Roman-Crucifixion-Method-of-Execution

Because crucifixion was an excruciating way to die, Rome did not impose this type of punishment on its own citizens.

(It is interesting that the image accompanying the article show crucifixion on a ‘stauros’, not a ‘cross.’)

So, to followers of the ‘Way’ the ‘cross’ would have been something to be loathed, as well as feared, not venerated

Still fascinated by research

Susan

The Gallipoli – Asia Minor Connection

Statue of soldiers at Gallipoli

In the early stages of writing the Apostle John Series, I used to print out my research materials. Sometimes it has proved handy with a ‘hard drive’ failure. The other day I was hunting for something that wasn’t on my computer, so I went to my filing cabinet.
Guess what I found.
LOL.
Of course, you cannot, and it was probably only interesting to me.
I found a laminated sheet showing Gallipoli right on the edge of the map I used for Hold the Faith. (For walking around the seven churches.)

What so interested me about Gallipoli?

Well, on the 25th April each year, it’s ANZAC Day.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”

Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

Wikipedia says it better than me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day

When I found the map showing Gallipoli in conjunction with the Roman province of Asia Minor I remembered I printed it out and laminated it for the Perth book launch of the first print edition of Hold the Faith. I put one on each side and laminated them together.

Gallipoli on the same map as the setting for the Apostle John Series

Being curious, I wondered what the history of the area was, other than the Roman occupation of the country, and the World War 1 battle.

“After Israel, Turkey has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. For this reason Turkey is rightly called the Other Holy Land. Many Christians are unaware of Turkey’s unique role in the Bible because biblical reference works usually refer to this strategic peninsula, bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as Asia Minor or Anatolia. The land of Turkey is especially important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey. The three major apostle—Peter, Paul, and John—either ministered or lived in Turkey.”
http://sevenchurches.org/biblical-turkey/

Important - why?

Its strategic position was important to all who warred here. However, it was not called Turkey at the time of the battle of Gallipoli. Turkey was ‘formed’ in October 1923.

Part of what became Turkey was Thrace, which comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace) and the European part of Turkey (Eastern Thrace.)

 I discovered ‘Spartacus’ was from Thrace.

If you are too young to have seen the movie Spartacus, this is what it is about, well, ‘film license’ of course.

“A Thracian by birth, Spartacus served in the Roman army, perhaps deserted, led bandit raids, and was caught and sold as a slave. With about 70 fellow gladiators he escaped a gladiatorial training school at Capua in 73 and took refuge on Mount Vesuvius, where other runaway slaves joined the band. After defeating two Roman forces in succession, the rebels overran most of southern Italy. Ultimately their numbers grew to at least 90,000. Spartacus defeated the two consuls for the year 72 and fought his way northward toward the Alps, hoping to be able to disperse his soldiers to their homelands once they were outside Italy.”
Read more here: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Spartacus-Roman-gladiator

Thrace

“Thrace was united as a kingdom under the chieftain Sitalces, who aided Athens during the Peloponnesian War, but after his death (428 B.C.) the state again broke up. By 342 B.C. all Thrace was held by Philip II of Macedon, and after 323 B.C. most of the country was in the hands of Lysimachus, a general of Alexander the Great. It fell apart once more after Lysimachus’ death (281 B.C.), and it was conquered by the Romans late in the 1st century B.C. Emperor Claudius created (A.D. 46) the province of Thrace, comprising the territory south of the Balkans; the remainder was incorporated into Moesia. The chief centers of Roman Thrace were Sardica (modern Sofia), Philippopolis (Plovdiv), and Adrianople (Edirne).”
http://www.allaboutturkey.com/trakya.htm

The region benefited greatly from Roman rule, but from the barbarian invasions of the 3d century A.D. until modern times it was almost continuously a battleground. As mentioned before, it was a strategic area controlling significant land and sea borders. The area benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea.

Why were the ANZACs at Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16, also known as the Battle of Gallipoli or the Dardanelles Campaign, was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during World War I.

The winners of the Gallipoli battle

The Ottoman Empire.

The death toll was high for all combatants.

Nowadays, both the Turkish dead and the ANZAC dead are recognized at the dawn service in Gallipoli. 2018 was the 103 anniversary.

Gallipoli - 3 nation's flags

Over the centuries how much blood has been shed in that region?

A sobering thought.

           Susan

 

 

Polycarp or Bucolus?

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

Recently one of the readers of my book series and I had a discussion on Polycarp. (She had recently started re-reading the Apostle John Series) and in book 1 – Hold the Faith, Polycarp was ‘introduced.’

First bishop of Smyrna - Polycarp or Bucolus?

Polycarp was a fascinating person to research, and as it Polycarp of Smyrnaturned out, June. the reader I was talking with, had also studied into Polycarp, Bucolus and some of the other people mentioned in Hold the Faith.

A video clip I saw some years ago said he had been born in 70 AD. 

Other sources put him being born in 80 AD
(I had found 69 AD the most preferred option.) The clip says that legend has it that he was anointed bishop of Smyrna by the Apostle John. I had read that too, but further research led me to the first bishop of Smyrna being a dedicated man by the name of Bucolus.

So, as can be seen, Polycarp is someone about whom there is much contradiction in writings.

Now, as to whether the Apostle John was the one who ordained him as the first bishop of Smyrna – bishop meaning overseer, let’s examine what else is recorded…

Legend has it that the Apostle John was taken captive to Rome, and, because he persisted in his refusal to acknowledge Emperor Domitian as lord and god, was plunged into a vat of boiling oil.

When he survived, he was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where he is generally considered to have written the book of Revelation. (He was released from Patmos, most likely after the murder of Emperor Domitian, in 96 AD)

I needed to check who was overseer at that time. Whilst it is not impossible for Polycarp to have been anointed as bishop by John, I considered it unlikely, given the Bible’s guidelines about not appointing young men to the office of an elder… a bishop is an elder. Then, as mentioned at the start, I discovered another source that stated that the first bishop of Smyrna was a well-loved and respected man named Bucolus. According to some sources, he was the one who passed the fellowship in Smyrna into the care of Polycarp. I will put some links in at the end of this post so you can read it up for yourself if you want.

Polycarp had ‘humble’ beginnings, some of which he ‘discussed’ with Benjamin in Hold the Faith.

Some 'figurings' about Polycarp

Polycarp          born 69 or 70 AD

John                taken to Rome 94 or 95 AD

Polycarp          would have been 24 – 26 years old then

Had Polycarp been born in 80 AD he would have been 14 or 15 years old when John was taken to Rome.

I favor the opinion that Bucolus was the first bishop/overseer of Smyrna.

Nevertheless, both men have interesting ‘histories.’

An overview of Bucolus – https://oca.org/saints/lives/2016/02/06/100441-st-bucolus-the-bishop-of-smyrna

And of Polycarp… 
http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/st-polycarp-hieromartyr-of-smyrna-and.html

Well, that’s the wondering for this week. Hope you enjoyed them.

Susan

What was the Significance of a Betrothal?

Sunrise, Princeton Circle, WA

A long time ago when I was young, in school I read the story in the Bible of Mary and Joseph going off to be counted in the census. I puzzled over “…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

Betrothed I understood to mean ‘engaged’ to be married. The teacher did not care to explain it. Since then, well, comparatively recently, I discovered the significance of what this meant.

Joseph, with his betrothed wife, Mary
Hold the Faith cover
Covers of books in the Apostle John series with awards

When I was researching for Hold the Faith, which I thought would be one book but turned into five, I needed to find out what betrothal entails.

One of the people in the book was about to become betrothed. What I found out explained such a lot, and even more about commitment to Christ. (The account of the full betrothal was moved, but the understanding helped in the five books in the series and in the free 1st novella.)

Betrothal in the Bible

Probably the most common way is for the fathers – the groom’s and the bride’s fathers agree when their children are young. Well, more accurately when the girl is young, because men did not seem to be considered ‘ready’ for the responsibility of marriage until they were older.

The agreement between the fathers could have been as soon as the girl was born. Some betrothals were part of business ‘deals’ between fathers.
The ‘formal’ betrothal was not held until the girl ‘showed signs’ i.e. started menstruating. Heirs were necessary.

Contrary to the beliefs of some ‘women’s rights’ groups, a girl was not generally forced into marriage. (Although in one instance in one of the books, pressure was exerted on the girl to agree.) It was necessary for the woman to agree in my story.

The Betrothal Ceremony

Several variations of this ceremony were researched, but the simplest one was what I used.

In front of the father (or the mother if the father was dead) and/or in front of witnesses, the groom offered a cup of wine to the bride. He asked her if she would drink of his cup. In this way he was asking her to share his life.

Sometimes I added the words, for clarity. If she drank from his cup, she was accepting the offer to share his life, marriage to him.

pottery cup, betrothal cup

Betrothal was binding. It was considered a marriage. (Which is why Mary was sometimes referred to as Joseph’s wife.)

The only way to end a betrothal, other than by marriage was divorce.

Matthew 1:19 (NIV) Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Barnes notes says…
The law of Moses gave the husband the power of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1. It was customary in a bill of divorce to specify the causes for which the divorce was made, and witnesses were also present to testify to the divorce. But in this case, it seems, Joseph resolved to put her away without specifying the cause; for he was not willing to make her a public example.

Although the betrothal was as binding as marriage it was not consummated.

The bridegroom went to ‘prepare a place’ – it may have been an extension to his parents’ home, or he may have wanted to build a home.

The bride ‘made herself ready.’

There were no stores where she could buy a dress for her wedding, or the linen for the household she would be forming. She had to sew everything.

She purchased the material – probably at a market stall.

sewing by hand

She brought it home and sewed it, – by hand. There were no sewing machines.

For that matter… no electricity either.

When the bridegroom had prepared a home for his wife, he returned to claim his wife and take her to her home with him.

This is a significantly ‘potted’ version of  a betrothal, but if you are a Bible believer, perhaps you have noticed the significance.

Christ said – And since I’m going away to prepare a place for you, I’ll come back again and welcome you into my presence, so that you may be where I am. John 14: 3 (ISV)

His bride was making herself ready while waiting…

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev 19: 7 (NIV)

So the entire betrothal analogy has great significance for Christians, but for many the meaning is lost.

In the ‘throw-away’ society of the world we live in, not even marriage is binding, so – sadly, much of the significance is lost.

Perhaps though, this will help you understand something that is not often talked about in our time.

I hope so,

Susan

Hell Shall Not Prevail – the end

Apostle John Series book covers with Hell Shall Not Prevail
Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

As members of my VIP Readers group know… one evening last week I wrote, ‘THE END.’ Hell Shall Not Prevail, book 5 in the Apostle John Series is finished.  

Yes, there have been many hiccoughs and delays with this final book in the series. It was supposed to be released sooner than this. However, I needed to do the other books justice. It is a ‘capstone’ on the series.

Now, I have finished going through it, line by line, so that it is the least amount of work for an editor.

Typing ‘THE END’ was a strange, but satisfying feeling.
(I never did find the missing Epilogue, but I believe the one it has now is probably better.)

Each of the other books in the series has finished with… ‘To be continued in…” (Whatever the next book was called.)

This one finished the series!

Sometimes it was ‘odd’ living between two time periods – but it was incredible what I discovered as I researched all I could about their time and culture… so that I could walk in their shoes!

I would not be telling the truth if I said I LIKED every character, but I did come to know them. I had to in order to ‘live in their skins.’

It has hard to describe the feeling when I looked at those words ‘THE END’ on the page.  After five books!

There was a tinge of sadness that my late husband is not here to share the pleasure. I know he would have been delighted – he lived with the first few books.

Other feelings? Mainly there was excitement, joy, satisfaction, all competing for supremacy.… and I found myself wondering if God feels the same way when ‘one of His saints’ reaches the end of life.

Perhaps.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

It gave me an inkling of what He might feel.

But why?

Why is it ‘precious in His sight’ when his saints die?

And why does he take no pleasure in the death of the wicked?

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezek 33:11

Perhaps it is because the race is run, and for the ‘saints’ THE END can be ‘stamped’ on a life lived well.

The death of a sinner is a different story.

Just thinking, and delighted that the Apostle John Series has ‘lived well.’

Teddy bear and red roses image

Thank you to all who have supported me through this journey through the lives of the people of the late 1st century AD.

P.S. To those who have asked, yes, another series is coming… a different one. But first, a rest, friends, family – oh, and a book award for Keep the Flame.

Thank you, readers, for your support. Stay tuned.

Tread softly

Susan

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Loss, lost, living

signpost saying 'confused', 'lost', 'disoriented', 'bewildered', 'unclear','perplexed'

Emoji thinking
Plunged into loss, means loss of identity.

In the same way as most of my blogs come into my mind this one was stimulated by thinking of a dear friend and praying for her as she makes her way through the pains of new widowhood. My thoughts turned to my own experiences.

Looking at the people I have ‘lost’ in my life it would be hard to say which was worst. Each was ‘the worst’ at the time.

The first was my grandmother… first I lost her to dementia, as it was called then. I visited her, she looked my same beautiful granny – but she was ‘missing.’ She no longer knew me as her granddaughter. She welcomed me when I came, but as the ‘special’ nurse who came to visit. At least I had that. Then I lost her to death… and for the first time in years – she looked peaceful.

Cartoon phone ringing

By the time I lost my mother I had been in Australia for a number of years. Phone calls were expensive but we saved up dollar coins and went to phone boxes. The last time I spoke with her she was in hospital in the final stages of her battle with cancer. Blessedly, she had thought she had a stubborn ‘flu. It would have terrified her to know all those months before that she had terminal lung cancer. The worst thing about that last phone call… she was so breathless I could not understand what she said.

Next, there was my stepson. That was a long time after my mother, and he had been living with us. The shock will live with us. (I mean me) for the rest of my life.

However, the death of my much-loved and very patient husband probably rocked me the most. Other than when my grandmother died, which was before we met, he was a support, an encouragement – and with his son, we were fellow sufferers as we leaned on each other muddling our way through the ‘valley of the shadow of death.’

a dark valley image
Found on Flickr

It is a journey I used to think meant our own journey. Now, I see it differently. We walk through that valley as we grieve the loss of the significant person we have lost.

Sometimes it is not even to death – as is the case for those who mourn the living. The mother, father, husband or wife who is lost to dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

From time to time as these thoughts arrive I consider them, and pray for those going through that ‘valley’ – but there is more.

Whatever the loss… and sometimes it can be a loss of function, ability or job…

  • Our identity is lost.
  • We lose a role.
  • Most at risk are the people who are carers.

Let me give you an example, please.

I have chosen my husband because I was most involved with his care… but for others, for you – it could be a sick child, a parent… or it could be the loss of a job meaning losing the ability to be the carer or provider for someone else.

Do you identify with any of these statements?

When the funeral is over, or the time-card stamped for the last time – I no longer knew who I was.

In the case of a death…

  • The time I spent caring, accompanying him/her to hospital or doctor appointments is time I have nothing to fill. (Perhaps similar if it is a job loss.)
  • I lost sleep when the ambulance took him/her to hospital and worried if he/she would be alive the next day when I visited.
  • Our lives revolved around each other.
  • My life revolved around caring for his/her needs.
poem, saying goodbye
Found on Pinterest

As another friend and I shared experiences recently… when you are a carer, even shopping trips need to be timed and worked out to fit with the needs of the person you are caring for. How much time is there before you need to be back home?

Standing in a queue at a supermarket, or even attending your own doctor appointment can be too long.

You/I forget to care for your/my self.

So when there is the time, what do we do with it?

Would we not rather have less time and have the person we cared for back… rhetorical ‘cos it just does not happen.

Some of us make new roles, but for the most part, they are secondary to the ones that are lost.

Then when something special happens – the one you most want to share it with is no longer there.

The role of the redundant carer can be lonely… but new roles CAN be developed. What is gone is not something that can be found, but some of those functions can be channeled in other areas.

Ever wondered why the best people who understand what you are going through are such an encouragement?

Probably because they have tread the road before you.

Take hope, that person survived. So can you.

No one has ever suffered your loss, walked in your shoes. They walked their own, and know how difficult it is.

Tread softly

Susan

Book covers, the Apostle John series

Disclaimer….

Susan M B Preston, author of the Apostle John series says…

Although I do not think of people I know or have known when writing my novels, the experiences make their way into the novels. There are many places where I cry when writing or proof-reading some of the books. Although they are fiction, when writing I peeled back the layers in the New Testament and found the people. Guess what. They were people with emotions, like us.

Meet Lois, representing women

silhouette of women walking

International Women’s’ Day is almost upon us for another year. Last year, over a four-week period, I featured several women. This year, I introduce you to one. She is fictional. She is Lois, who has been in all four of the Apostle John series from her first appearance in Hold the Faith.
She is my featured woman for International Women’s Day 2017

Why choose quiet, kind, helpful, unassuming Lois? Because, in many ways Lois embodies many women. I have no picture of Lois in my mind, but I know who she is… and she has a backstory that is only hinted at in the books.

As a child, Lois was the victim of abuse… physical and emotional. In the time setting of the series there was no social welfare, no child protection agency, no help. (Well, for Lois there was. She was rescued… but that is in the book, and the backstory available to members of my Reader’s Circle.)

Nowadays there are many agencies to intervene in the cases of child abuse. I have written before about the long-term effects of emotional abuse. Bruises heal, broken bones mend, but emotional pain spreads its tentacles through the life of the person who has been abused. I have experienced some of the effects, and seen it in many others.

During my time as a Psychiatric Nursing Sister I saw many results. Young women who repeatedly tried to commit suicide. (After all, if parents abused them, or close family members did and parents wouldn’t believe the child, obviously the ‘abused’ did not deserve to live.) One woman suffered such abuse she fragmented into multiple personalities.

Back to Lois…
In the series, Lois is not based on any one person. Although she is a fictional, historical person, she is a composite of many women in my life. Not one, a blending of experiences over many years.

silhouette of women walking

Something I read by another older writer… she said she had lived long enough to have had lots of experiences. (I do not remember her exact words, but I connected with what she had written.) I have a vast ‘mental database’ of experiences and when I create a character various aspects of the character is drawn from this ‘database.’ None of the ‘people’ in my series are people I have met, but the traits of many people end up stored in my mind. Somewhere.

Why choose ‘Lois’? She is ordinary. She is a kind, helpful and encouraging person – with people she knows and has learnt to trust. With strangers, she is timid, even a bit afraid. You could say she is introverted, but it is more than introversion – there is some lingering damage there. Oh, and she is in her early thirties. Old to be unmarried in those times.

(You would have to read the books to find out more about Lois and what happens to her.)

However, generally speaking, Lois is like so many women. Hard-working, choosing to be self-sacrificing and much loved by those who know her and appreciate her quiet kindness.

Lois is not a key character in the series… but she is WOMAN.

Praise God for all the unsung, perhaps taken-for-granted women who live their lives caring for families or friends and all that entails, but never receive medals or accolades.

Please take this as your medal.

image of a gold medal

Susan

I invite you to wander around my website and see what my books are about.
(They are fiction, based on researched facts)

What about the Magi?

Apostle John Series covers of 5 books

Re-posted – due to overwriting the original.

Biblical scholars sometimes amaze me. Not always in a pleasant way. Sometimes, it seems they take their information from paintings and writings of the Middle Ages, not the Bible. The story of the Magi is a good example.

Painting of adoration of Magi
Adorazione dei Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1655 (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio —Google Art Project.jpg – Wikimedia commons

A recent newsletter I received said much about the three Magi, and yet said nothing.

The writer of the newsletter admitted they were a mystery.

During the course of writing the Apostle John Series of fiction books, I did a vast amount of research. Although the books are fiction, I wanted the time setting and background information to be as accurate as it is possible to be about happenings in the 1st Century AD.

However, distractions into this period are all too easy for me to follow. When researching something, if something interesting turns up, I chase up that information – for my own interest.

Were there only three Magi?

It seems because there were three gifts given to Christ, that is a usual assumption. However, other reports suggest that there were more than three people. Bringing three significant gifts.

On checking a Greek/English Interlinear translation of Matthew 2:1 It does not mention how many ‘wise men’ there were.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

The next common belief is that they came to Mary and Joseph soon after the birth of Christ.

How old was Jesus when the Magi came?

Turning again to the Greek/English Interlinear…

According to Matthew 2: 2 Jesus had already been born when the Magi went to Herod.

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

According to the next few verses – Herod… and all Jerusalem was troubled. So there was time to spread the news.

Then, Herod called for information…

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

Did they have to consult the writings? If so, more time passed.When the information was given, Herod went back to the ‘wise men’ and asked when the star had appeared.

When the information was given, Herod went back to the ‘wise men’ and asked when the star had appeared.

Only then, did Herod send the ‘wise men’ or Magi – to search.

Jesus Christ had been born before the Magi went to Herod. A period of time is suggested while they traveled, sought information, and given an answer and instructions.

The Greek word used to describe Christ when the Magi came before Him is ‘paidou’ which translates as ‘young child’.

Moreover, when Herod ordered what is called ‘the slaughter – or massacre – of the innocents’ he ordered that babies up to two years old be killed.

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Matt 2: 16

Painting of the Slaughter of the Innocents

I prefer to receive my information from the Bible rather than from someone’s interpretation (imagination) of what might have happened.

Just saying.

Susan

Apostle John Series covers of 5 books