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)

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.”

Harrumph!

“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
(Grumbler)

stone, large lumpy

Large, lumpy stone

half polished stone drawn into grumbling

Half-polished stone

Trials

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?

Trials?

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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIVQXIk-1lA

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

Susan

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?

Both

[optinform]

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

Santa Claus credited with giving the gifts… why?

Santa cartoon imageWhy do parents, ordinary mothers and fathers, give Santa Claus, a ‘made-up’ figure the credit for providing the gifts on the 25th December?

In many cases, these gifts have been a financial burden for them to provide, but parents have a tendency to sacrifice many of their wants… no, sometimes needs… to see the happy smiles of their children.
·

Most people know that December 25 has nothing to do with Christ, and they do not care. They like the tradition of Christmas, Western style.

Why is the Santa Claus figure credited as the one who brings gifts?

Why do parents, who teach their young children about ‘stranger danger’ – once a year plonk their children on the knees of some strange man to have their pictures taken?

“Never take sweets from a stranger” is another parental protection… or used to be. Yet just the other day, in my small local shopping centre, a man dressed up in a ‘Santa’ costume with a bag of ‘goodies’ (sweets of some sort – that’s lollies for Australians and candies for Americans) – and proceeded to hand them out to migrant children who were delighted. Their mother looked on bemused.

A good article on the origins of this ‘fantasy’ figure is here…

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131219-santa-claus-origin-history-christmas-facts-st-nicholas/

Now that I am old, I can look at all this and wonder – why?

  • Why do we lie to our children and give this made-up figure credit for what we have bought?
  • Why do we warn children about strangers – and then encourage them to sit on a stranger’s knee and smile for the camera?
  • Why allow them to take edible treats from someone dressed up in a Santa costume when we warn them not to take sweets from strangers? And a thought – is this a ‘bona fide’ trained Santa figure, or someone who has noticed that this suit breaks down the barriers of suspicion if they approach young children?
  • Why do we lie to our children? They find out as they grow that none of it is true.

Are we teaching them to distrust us, their parents?

Maybe.

Yet the traditions will continue because people like them. In the matter of Santa – let’s protect our children and tell them the truth – at their level of understanding.

Let’s teach them to trust us. It might be important one day!

Quote: Don't lie to me unless you're absolutely sure that I will never find the TRUTH

Pondering,

Susan MB Preston, authorSusan

(Blog republished due to the database being overwritten.)

 

Dementia… Alzheimer’s Disease, a cruel condition

Sometimes thoughts flutter in like a bird, other times there are flocks. I prefer the one at a time variety… there are so many associated memories to sift through. Mostly, I can make sense of mine – people with Dementia cannot.

Thoughts about this condition were what came gently flying into my mind the other morning Dementia – or Alzheimer’s disease. It is a cruel condition, where families mourn the living.

When I was training as a nurse, I did stints in psychogeriatric wards. Back then, it was called Dementia, usually Senile Dementia.  Alzheimer’s disease referred to early onset dementia.

image saying dementia umbrellaStill whatever it was named, or is named currently, living with it is not easy.

Most times our thoughts are with the person who cares for the ‘sufferer’… and it is no easy task. Simple things need to be explained over and over again. And it is hard to remind someone every few minutes of how to do what you asked them to do.

But…

Have you ever seen the look on the face of someone suffering this debilitating condition when you lose patience with him or her?

It could be fear, or panic, or puzzled hurt.

Let’s imagine it is a mother. You asked her to turn on the dishwasher – ten times.

Ten times, you have told her how to do it.

Then, when you come back from sorting out the washing you find her standing there trying to remember what you told her to do.

She’s in a twilight zone… lost in her mind.

Before you yell at her… think.

Dishwashers were not a part of her life when she was your age.

Remember when you were a child, a very young child.

  • Was this puzzled, confused woman the one who day after day, patiently taught you to tie the laces on your school shoes?
  • Did she sit night after night telling you the same bedtime story – because it was the one you asked for, over and over again?
  • What about toilet-training? You probably do not remember it, but consider, how long that might have taken.

As our lives become faster and busier, it is all too easy to be less patient.

A hurried instruction is not only confusing; it can be frightening to someone who has memory problems.

I read a short story published in a writer’s group publication while in Texas. The writer had memory problems and described a scene. He was walking through a fog and came to a bridge. After crossing the bridge, he looked back. The fog had closed around it and it was no longer there. That is how he described his memory.

signpost saying 'confused', 'lost', 'disoriented', 'bewildered', 'unclear','perplexed'What is it like in the mind of those who have dementia or associated memory problems? I can only guess that, as the sign says… Confused, lost, unsure – all the others mentioned – and perhaps frightened should be added to the list.

One of the first things I had to learn as a student nurse in a psychogeriatric ward was to treat the patients with respect. Yes, even when I had to bath the old lady who had soiled herself. That old lady had lived a life and survived a war, had been headmistress of a school, raised a family and now needed care.

If you know someone who is caring for a relative in ‘the twilight zone’ perhaps sending him or her a card, making a phone call. Simply giving some of your time and listening to the caregiver would be a kindness you could do. Being a caregiver can be a lonely position.

Think on this… the caregiver in such a situation is mourning the living. The sufferer might also be mourning the losses. No one with any form of dementia wakes up one morning and has no memory. That is a different condition. No, dementia in all its guises sneaks up, frightening the sufferer.

This is a quote from a wife… it could have been my neighbor, but it was not. Perhaps it is all the wives, or husbands whose ‘other half’ is missing, not dead.

“He was here, sleeping in the same bed, eating at the same table, — a living, breathing presence, if not a fully present one. His mind was not working so well, but the familiar body was fine, and his heart still tried to be what he had been. Until one day, he could not…”
LILLIAN B. RUBIN

And from me, a rose for you whether you are a carer or a sufferer

Susan