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


Book covers, the Apostle John series


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.

Drawer full of memories – or clutter


Actually, they are both memories… and clutter.  At least, mine are.

I have a large drawer full of cards.

Picture of my dresser drawer

Every card that was sent to my late husband and I is a special memory. They are so pretty, the words are beautiful, inspiring, comforting – or all of the aforementioned. They also conjure up images of the people who sent them.

But when we keep them for years they are clutter.

Having come through World War 2, my grandmother kept all the buttons off garments. I loved playing with ‘Granny’s button box.’ Hand knitted jumpers (sweaters) were carefully unpicked, then unraveled, made into hanks, washed, rolled into balls and made a new jumper. If there was not enough to knit a new jumper, then another color was added, and my brother and I had striped jumpers. There were all sorts of ‘useful’ things that were kept because they might come in handy one day.

So, was she a hoarder, too?

Probably. But the house had a ‘lumber’ room. A bit larger than I have seen in Chicago called a closet. (In my childhood in Scotland a closet was a lavatory, but it isn’t in Chicago.)

Still, I learned a valuable lesson in my childhood… one I still struggle to shake off. If you throw something out, you will need it within a couple of weeks. My grandmother proved that time and time again. It also happened to me recently.

Memory Flashback

A long time ago whenever we bought something, we had to keep the box it came in during the guarantee period. “Return in original packaging” was the condition for warranty repairs.

Shed door

Our ‘storage’ room was accessed from the carport, and my late husband had ‘charge’ of it.


“What do you want done with this dear?”

“In the shed.”

One day he said, “There’s no room in the shed for anything else…”

We checked the warranty status on some of the goods… and realized the boxes had now reached clutter stage.

One day he said, “I am going into the shed for a couple of hours, please don’t come in.”

After a while, I cannot remember how long, I decided he must be thirsty by now and made him a warm drink… and took it in.

Whilst he appreciated the drink, he didn’t appreciate what I said, “You are throwing that out?”

Yes, they were memories, but we hadn’t looked at them for years. A program from the Phantom of the Opera, drawings the children had done, part of a dinner set… in case we ever bought another the same and needed more settings.  (Slight exaggeration, but I am sure you could relate.)

Storage shed of memories

Now, it is my turn. I have a blower/vac that will no longer blow. It will suck but there is a hole in the bag. There is a box full of X-Rays that I have no idea how to dispose of… and neither does anyone I have asked. The winter oil heater is in there and it will need to come in soon as we are heading for winter here in Western Australia. On the other hand, a pedestal fan will have to take its place.

There are a couple of large plastic storage boxes. A while after my husband died, someone advised me how to deal with the difficult task of sorting through his things. Make a memory box. “Put in it things that you are not ready to part with yet.” I did that. I have one for my husband, and another mixed, for our son.

Am I ready to deal with these yet? I don’t know… but I have to clear up the other stuff to get there. There will be a ‘roadblock’ in the way. At the bottom of the shelves are a couple of archive boxes of photographs. Some from my childhood, stretching through the years of my children’s lives maybe. Maybe the family would like those memories.

I would like to add… it is true. Throw something out and you will need it within a couple of weeks. I decided to dispose of a three year old box for my netbook. Into the recycle bin it went.

A couple of weeks later on the news it was announced that International travellers from Perth to the US would not be allowed to take laptops as cabin luggage.

I had heard of what happened to the laptops of people who packed them in their suitcases.

Computer box

“Oh, if only I had not thrown that computer box out. The small case in it would have been a good protection.”

A couple of days later I remembered. The recycle bin had not been emptied, it wasn’t full. Needless to say, I went and rescued the box.

I do not know if I will be able to travel this year… but if I am – there is the protection my netbook needs.


One more thing… I closed my eyes and put the cards and associated memories in the recycle bin.Memories no, only clutter

Having given myself a lecture, I decided that poring over memories is looking back. I will always have those special memories in my heart, but it is time to look forward, minus the clutter. As for the rest, I am working on them.

Looking forward to the future and reunions


The Donnybrook adventure

Why did I choose to drive myself to Donnybrook? Anyone who knows me, knows I do not like driving to places I have never been before. They probably also know I find it easy to ‘mislay’ myself. (Okay, I admit it… I get lost.) Perhaps some of it is to do with the problem I have with my left and right hand directions. Tell me to turn left, and I will probably turn right.

pulling over signpost cartoon

I have met many people who have the same problem… perhaps I should form a club.

Mary (not her real name) has been a friend for many years. We belong to the same type of church, and there were some special ‘days’ coming up. This year she invited me to come visit her – in Donnybrook. That is in the south-west of Western Australia. The only time my late husband and I went to Donnybrook was by mistake. We had been at a church festival in a town down south, I knew we had to find South West Highway to return home, (it was before the freeway went that far) and I found it. As we travelled, and the miles passed, and passed… there was nothing we recognised as looking remotely like the approach to the Perth suburbs.

Donnybrook signThen we saw a sign saying ‘Donnybrook welcomes you.’

“I don’t remember Donnybrook on the way down.”

A hotel had a sign out front advertising morning teas, so we parked the car and went in. When the waitress brought our coffees (I don’t like tea), I asked her, “If we keep going on this road, will we reach Perth?”

She smiled and said, “You will reach Esperance.”

Esperance was on the south coast of WA. I had been driving the wrong way!

Now, however, the freeway goes all the way to Bunbury… well, it changes name a few times but it is a straight road down. Till the big roundabout before Bunbury where I had to turn left… and I knew, in advance, what way I was turning. “There is a dedicated left lane,” Mary had said… and so had others.

Google map of Eelup roundabout

Mary had given me directions… but something didn’t quite add up. All was well until I had to turn left up South West Hwy.  and I did. Looking at the map detail now I finally can see what went wrong. The exit (left) for South West Hwy that I took was for the separate one going north. A little further on from where I turned left, was the next left turn, for the South West Hwy going south.

Google map, South West Highway

There are two separate left turns into South West Highway… and no markings as to which direction it is heading. (I noticed I was going the wrong way when some of the towns, which had exits from the Freeway on the way down,were coming closer.

Donnybrook – at last!

Ah well, I did arrive in Donnybrook and it was a wonderful time meeting people I had not seen for years, resting – yes, even writing some of book 5. (A new section to add to the existing draft.)

Cover imaage of award-winning Hold the Faith
Oh, Mary had recommended Hold the Faith (book 1 in the series) to a minister acquaintance. While I was with her she received a note from him. Amongst the other comments he made, he said that he had found Hold the Faith reminded him of Lynn Austin’s series Chronicles of the Kings. Mary was a bit unsure of the comment.



“If he thinks I write like Lynn Austin I take that as a compliment,” I said.

Lynn Austin’s series – the one he referred to, is about King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, and his son Manasseh. My late husband and I read them as they were released… they brought those people to life. Yes, like my series, they are fiction, but she too had done a lot of research.

So, it made me think – as well as feeling blessed, I will look up Lynn Austin and other writers in my genre and maybe even share my thoughts on them in a blog.

Till then, farewell.  I am safely home from Donnybrook and the return trip was much less complicated.

Keep smiling


PS – Book 3 in the series, The Light of Truth is available in print now on Amazon. So that Reader’s Circle members could receive a discount, I released it at a discount. On the 1st of May it goes to the ‘normal’ price of $14.95.

So… blog readers, you now have a chance to grab a copy at the reduced price.

Here is a link for you to check it out…  http://amzn.to/2pY0uZ5


Death and Grieving

Death and grieving

…is not something that normally dominates my mind, although it is always there. From experience, I have known the death of loved ones, and I also know the grieving journey is personal. It is something that is individual, painful, and affects everyone in their own way.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to grieve. There is your way, and my way (which was stumbling through the process, wondering how I would survive.)

As for the ‘stages’ of grief, maybe some people have them, but in my experience they were not clear cut.

Why think of death now?

Two reasons this subject came to my attention again recently – one, in my book series, one character is about to explain about the death of another… to John. (Don’t want to give spoilers) was in this last couple of weeks hearing of so many people who had a parent who died.

The other reason was in this last couple of weeks hearing of so many people who had a parent who died.

One was the postmistress at my local shopping centre. While she is still feeling vulnerable, a customer came in and told her the sad tale of the loss of her own father. Jane (I will call the postmistress) sympathized and, I guess they shared their feelings. On the way out the customer stole something very expensive and was never seen again. Not yet anyway.

It is possible that the customer had indeed ‘lost’ her father, and in her grief had stolen the goods. It is hard to say, grief does strange things to us.

First death I experienced

Although I trained as a nurse, my grandmother, who was a patient, was the first person I ever knew who died. I was living in the nurses’ home, not far from the hospital and I had asked the ward staff to let me know if she deteriorated. (She had dementia, and was very ill with pneumonia.)

I always went to the hospital before my shift was due so I could go to my grandmother’s ward and see her. One morning I did, and her bed was empty, stripped. She had died and no one had told me.

My duties that day were in a psycho-geriatric ward in another part of the hospital. It was quite far into the shift before I realized that the reason the shift was going so badly for me, was that I was nursing other old people… they were alive and my beloved granny was not.

That was the only time I felt anger when grieving.


Australia, map with flag


When my mother died, I had been living in Australia for many years. She died of lung cancer and I remember how helpless I felt because I could not afford the fare to Scotland. (In those days the fares were a horrendous price, and I had a family here in Australia.)


Grieving a childImage tears in a bottle, from Paslms

My stepson, who lived with my husband and I, died. The police knocked on the door at 4.00 am. My husband heard the knocking. At that time I was a heavy sleeper, but he managed to wake me. I thought he was dreaming. He was not.
It took a long time for it to sink in. ‘Gone’ didn’t mean ‘run away’, it meant dead. He was sixteen and a half.

Everything passed in a blur, but although first my husband, then I were hospitalized with the shock, we made it through the valley of the shadow of death. Sleep was something that only came as the result of sleeping pills, and then not for long. Two, maybe three hours, then a blessed moment of unawareness before I felt the ton of bricks fall on me. “’Bill’ is dead.” That was the end of sleep. Yet, my husband and I were part of the ‘lucky’ few, the blessed ones whose marriage did not fall apart because of it. In fact, we grew closer as we stumbled through the pain, the agony, and all those guilt feelings.

The wondering ‘if I had done this’ or ‘if I had not done that…’

My husband wrote a poem in the note pages of his Bible. His words can still bring tears to my eyes. As he once said to me, “I have lost my future, not just the past and present. I will never see him married, never have grandchildren from him…”


Death of my husband

My husband was never a completely well man. Very few people knew the struggle he had with the pain of a crumbling spine and herniated disks. He did not parade his health problems. It wasn’t the pain that killed him. For years he had been in and out of hospital, sometimes near death, but the doctors could not decide the cause of his lung problems.

I remember now, the pleasure he felt when finally, a diagnosis was reached. So many people had said that it waas all in his mind. But it was not. It was Pulmonary Fibrosing. Or, as they called it then, Fibrosing Alveolitis. Little did we know it was a death sentence. And I am glad of that. There were so many things we did in the last years of his life we would never have attempted had we known how serious, how fatal that lung disease was.

Lung with fibrosing alveolitis
There were times when what was happening to him frightened us, but still, no one told us what was going on inside his lungs.

Not until the last 6 weeks of his life.


But that is another story. Suffice it to say, it was something of a shock to be told that his lungs were smothering him.

After a couple of years, when reliving his death became less painful, some of those feelings went into the Prologue of one of the books in the series I am writing. A character asked how he could live with the person who was dying, knowing she was dying, and not knowing how to help.

And still, it continues…

In fact, in the fourth book, published last year, when I came back to it to read it over before sending it to the lovely lady who edits it, I noticed there was a huge bit missing. After the death of a much-loved character, it stopped. The next chapter started months later when all the intense grief was easing.

sign falling off cliff



It felt as if I had fallen off a cliff.


As I puzzled over the manuscript and why it was like that, I realized. I could not have written it before. ‘Killing’ the character off was difficult enough, but exploring the grieving of the various characters her life affected, had obviously been too much for me to look at before then.

With several revisions and many tears, the ‘missing’ part of the book was written.

As for my own grieving

As for my own grieving. Only the one time, after my granny’s death, was I ever angry.

Neither my husband nor I were ever angry with our son, or with God… although people assured us it was okay to be angry with God. One well-meaning church member briefly cut the feet from under us by saying, “God could have prevented it.” Well, I guess He could, but we have all been given free will.

Death and grieving

Death is the end of our human lives. Grieving is part of coping with death. I guess I will go to my grave grieving. But on the other hand, grateful to have had such love in my life.

If you are grieving, accept what is happening. There is no specified order like it says in the books about death and loss. Sometimes you might flip from one to another in a matter of hours. It’s a roller coaster, it will eventually slow down and become acceptance.

There is no ‘getting over’ losing a child, a grandchild, sibling, niece, nephew, or a spouse, and generally, we only have one set of parents. We become used to being without them in our lives, but in losing that person, we have lost part of us. The person who created us, the person we created, or the love of your life and best friend.

There is no right or wrong… unless you steal – as mentioned the customer did at the start of this post.

Tread softly, vulnerable people are easily crushed.

Before you speak… think



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


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

A Grumbling Stone

Grumbling stone
Grumbling stone

This follows last week’s blog on Trials. I discovered so much about rock tumbling… My imagination took over. The stones were given voices and one grumbled.  

Please enjoy my whimsy!

“I have to go back in the tumbler again,” complained little stone.


“We all do,” sympathized the lumpy old stone.
We have to be fined down with all the grades of grit.

stone, large lumpy

“But I have to go back in with the coarse grit! The first one again,” grumbled the small stone.
He glowered at the lumpy stone and protested,
          “It’s not fair.”

The lumpy old stone, sighed but did not answer.

Text, Hey!

Hey! I am talking to you. I said, I have to go in again with the coarse grit.”

The lumpy old stone gazed sadly at the smaller stone.
“And you will keep being put back in for the first stage until that big chip is smoothed out.”

“Do we all have to go back with coarse grit?”

“What the gemologist does with each of his stones is nothing to do with another. We have to be tumbled and smoothed until he is pleased with the result.”

“That doesn’t seem fair!” grumbled the little stone. “What about that one?” he asked, pointing to a larger stone who was beginning to show a pattern on the surface.

Overhearing, the half-polished stone asked, “What’s it to you?”

half polished stone drawn into grumbling

“You bumped against me more than the others,” grumbled little stone.

“Maybe you need more bumping,” replied the larger stone.

Some of the other stones decided to join in the grumbling.

“It doesn’t matter how much you grumble, all of us will be put in the tumbler until we are the the way the gemologist wants us to be,” the lumpy stone intervened.

“It looks like you will need a lot of tumbling,” a half-done stone said snidely.

A few of the others snickered.

stone, large lumpy

“I am too big and too hard to be put in with you smaller stones.
I have to wait until there are enough my size and type.”

“Oh, you think you are better than the rest of us, do you?” the little stone accused.

“No, not better. But you are different kinds of stones. If the gemologist put me in the tumbler with you, I would damage you.
I have to wait till the gemologist decides where I fit.”

“But we are not ALL small.”

“No, there needs to be different sizes so that we all bump each other, not tumble in a group.”

“So why can you not be tumbled with us.”

“As I said, I am much too large and hard. I would damage you. The gemologist knows what will suit the purpose.”

“Well, I don’t think it is fair,” little stone protested loudly. “Why should we have to do what the gemologist wants? I’ve had enough!”

“The gemologist knows what he wants each stone to look like. There is a place for all of us. We have been chosen for that purpose.”


“Little stone, you look like you might be a diamond, which is something highly prized by the gemologist.”

The door opened and the sound of feet crossing the floor echoed in the room.

The lumpy old stone looked at the little stone wondering if it would try to roll off the table.

With an abashed glance at the lumpy old stone, little stone rolled back to join the few other stones who were to go back into the tumbler with the coarse grit.

Several months later...

polished stones

Leading Cast

Grumbling stone

Little stone

stone, large lumpy

Large, lumpy stone

half polished stone drawn into grumbling

Half-polished stone


selecting a stone, for trials

Thinking, pondering… for consideration.

“For many are called…”
Matt 22: 14a

Image of stones


The second part of the verse above says

“… but few are chosen.”

selecting a stone, for trials


Considering the growing number of people on my prayer list, I have been considering. Here’s my conclusion.

Many are called… could be most people.

Few are chosen… Chosen for what?


I have discussed this with some people… Looking at the severity of what people are going through, and considering their situation, these trials are tailor-made for the people going through them.

The trials are tough!

Many years ago I met someone who did rock-polishing, which is what came to mind when I considered all the trials my brethren in the faith were going through.

Since I only had a vague memory of the process of rock-polishing or tumbling, I looked it up.

It is a much more complex process than I thought.

One site had information that a variety of shapes and sizes was needed so that the rocks would tumble and bump against each other.

My tangential thinking can take me off in many analogies here, but I won’t burden you with my imaginings.

Out of all those stones, some are chosen… and picked over again. The selected ones are put in the tumbler with the coarse grit and water… then tumbled for seven days! At the end of the tumbling, the stones are removed and the grit washed off. The tumbler is also washed free of the grit. According to some sites, if some of the stones are not what the person doing the tumbling had in mind… they go back into the tumbler with the coarse grit.

When the stones are to the person’s satisfaction (and all washed and free of grit) – back they go again for more polishing with slightly finer grit. Then later with finer grit again… then some people choose to tumble the stones with a very fine grit – called pre-polish.

One analogy I cannot help sharing is how much like life – and our trials, this process is!

The video I found on YouTube is a short one, no speaking – but have a look at all the packets of grit. Each of those is used for seven days.

(I counted six or so bags of grit!)

It is a slow process to make something beautiful from those stones!

Which leads me off on another tangent… As a child in Scotland, there was an old ‘children’s’ hymn.  It might have been ‘inspired’ by this scripture…

And the LORD their God will save them in that day As the flock of His people; For they are as the stones of a crown, Sparkling in His land.
Zechariah 9:16

The hymn is called ‘When He Cometh’. (Sometimes shortened to Jewels)

The first verse says,

When He cometh, when He cometh,

 To make up His jewels,

 All His jewels, precious jewels,

 His loved and His own.

The second verse says,

2 He will gather, He will gather

 The gems for His kingdom,

 All the pure ones, all the bright ones,

 His loved and His own

Is this what all our trials are? Are we being polished to be gems?

(There are several versions of this old-fashioned hymn on YouTube.
Here is the full hymn

Interesting thought, and a challenge to look at our trials in this way.

And remember the Bible verse that says…

“Woe to him who strives with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth! Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’?
Isa 45:9 NKJV


Trials are making us precious gems.

Sharing some thoughts


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

Keys to understanding the Bible are revealed in God’s Holy Days

key, light shining through the keyhole
key, light shining through the keyhole

Some of the Bible writings seem confusing, even contradictory… yet the causes of these can be attributed to two main reasons.

  • One, not-quite-accurate translations from the original language.
  • Two, not being aware of the ‘road-map’ God gave at the beginning.

Or does it seem like a game of snakes and ladders to you?

It might seem that way… until you have the key.

Hold the Faith by Susan M B Preston, cover image

Over the many years of study and research for Hold the Faith, and the subsequent books in the Apostle John series, some things became apparent.

I confess I did not fully understand at first, but after reading countless articles – listening to innumerable Bible studies, sermons and watching videos, I started to put it together.)

When I started writing Hold the Faith, which I thought would be one book, not the five it turned out to be, all I did was report what was written in the Gospel of John as a background to the fictional story.

What had started out as a response to an incredibly detailed Bible study and my own curiosity became an addictive research.

If you have read any of my books sub-titled the ‘Apostle John Series’ you might have had the same reaction as I had initially. Interesting, but didn’t apply now.

Then, as time went on, and my studies and research went deeper, I saw that those things I had recorded the fictional characters doing, had a much more profound meaning.

They were part of a ‘mystery’?

No. They were written in plain sight in the Bible. There were warnings to the Israelites about abandoning them, and Jesus and the early church observed these ‘key’ practices to keep their relationship with God, the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

By the end of the 1st century, to quote the words more than one apostle used…‘savage wolves will come among you’ – well that happened, and the Apostle John had to deal with much of the false teaching.

By the third century much of the significance of these ‘keys’ had been lost along with their meaning.

Ruth, Biblical story

Artist impression of Ruth gleaning

Famously, Ruth in the Bible is recorded to have said this to her mother-in-law…

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.
Ruth 1: 16, 17. ESV

Ruth, speaking to her mother-in-law Naomi, an Israelite widow who had decided to return to her homeland.

Although Ruth is an example of a dedicated, considerate young woman, there are a couple of things that ‘beg a question.’

Map of Moabite territory around the time of the Exodus
From www.bible.ca


One of these is the fact she is a Moabitess. ‘So, what’s that when it’s at home?’

Ruth was a member of the Moabite race… who had been enemies of the Israelites. God pronounced a ruling about them…

“No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever,”
Deuteronomy 23: 3 ESV

Since God never lies, Ruth must have been in or after the tenth generation.

Another question might be… was she so fond of Naomi, or did she have no home to return to? If she did have a home to return to, there is no record about it being loving, avaricious, or had she been cast out because she had married an ‘enemy?’

After all, if the Israelites considered them enemies, it most likely worked in reverse.

Who were the Moabites anyway?

Wikipedia provides an answer…
According to the biblical account, Moab and Ammon were born to Lot and Lot’s elder and younger daughters, respectively, in the aftermath of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible refers to both the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot’s sons, born of incest with his daughters.
(Genesis 19:37-38).

Then there is another reason for the animosity between the nations…

And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. And Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. Numbers 22:2-5 ESV


Balaam hired to curse Israel
This was during the time of the Exodus

Ten, or more, generations later Ruth, a young widow, accompanies the mother of her dead husband to the land Naomi came from, but for Ruth an enemy country.

Anyone familiar with this Bible story will know that Ruth married a wealthy relative of Naomi’s husband. Thus she became the grandmother of King David, and ancestress of Jesus Christ.

Artist impression of Ruth gleaning

Rags to riches tale, or God working His purpose out?



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.


Apostle John Series covers of 5 books