CHOOSE! We Have a Choice!
We are made in God’s image, and He has choices. He chose the nation to be His own as Deuteronomy 7:7 tells us: “He didn’t choose you and pour out His love upon you because you were a larger nation than any other, for you were the smallest of all!”
Our Creator chose a place in the territory allotted to one of the tribes where sacrifices were to be made. He chose the place of His sanctuary and warned His people only to name a king that He chose. Since his first man, He offers men the ability to choose even life or death!
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you that today I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh, that you would choose life; that you and your children might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and to cling to him, for he is your life and the length of your days. You will then be able to live safely in the land the Lord promised your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Adam and Eve had a choice. God told them they could eat from all the trees save one—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (enjoy A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, volume one of my Generations series) Ever since, men have been making choices—some good and often, not so good.
I think there’s one verse that must come to every Christian’s mind when told to choose. It’s from Joshua, successor to Moses who led the Israelites into the Promised Land—twenty-fourth chapter, fifteenth verse:
“But if you are unwilling to obey the Lord, then decide today whom you will obey. Will it be the gods of your ancestors beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites here in this land? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
It’s most commonly paraphrased like this: CHOOSE this day whom you will serve! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! I have a rock prominently displayed in my yard engraved with that verse. The head of my house, my husband Ron, chooses like Joshua—his house will serve the Lord!
Then I still have the choice of my own . . . stay or go. My spirit, soul, and flesh are in total sync with him as I choose God for my King, Savior, Lord, Refuge, Provider, Healer, and so much more—my everything! I choose to give Him all of me!
Just like you and me, every great man of the Bible had a choice. Noah chose to serve Him. In obedience, he built an ark even though it had never rained a drop on the earth.
Abraham chose to serve God. He left his home, friends, and family—everything—to go where God would lead. The father of our faith chose obedience to God, going so far as taking his only beloved, promised, miracle son up the mountain to sacrifice him as instructed.
When King David wrongly chose to take a census, God gave him three choices. This story is told in the twenty-first chapter of 1 Chronicles. He also wrongly chose to call for Bathsheba then send her husband to the front lines so he would be killed! Yet this great king of Israel—my favorite Bible character—is described as a man after God’s heart because he repented and got to the point where he sinned no more.
We all have literally hundreds of choices every day! “We can choose the sounds we want to listen to; we can choose the taste we want in food, and we should choose to follow what is right. But first of all we must define among ourselves what is good.” Job 34:3-4 Just as the men and women of Job’s days.
God never changes, and men will be men!
Lastly, I would put forth the greatest choice ever made for mankind—when Jesus chose to come to earth as a man and offer Himself to pay for our sin. What an unfathomable sacrifice He made!
I chose Him when I was nine, gave Him my heart, and made Him my Savior—followed by being baptized in water. I chose Him again at the age of twenty-five when I made Him Lord and chose His baptism of fire.
I choose Him still today!
Have I made bad choices in my life? YES, to be certain! But He remembers none of those! He chooses to see only the Blood of the Lamb that washes me clean as snow! Hallelujah! Forever I will praise Him!
Linda Brooks Davis
As Far as the East Is From the West
Ever find yourself guarding hidden places in your heart? Do you deposit disappointment and despair in a secret spot where pain and latent dreams hide? I do.
Are you ashamed to have felt certain emotions? How about a physical flaw? Too embarrassed to expose it even to those who love you? Oh, yeah.
Might your hidden places include spiritual struggles, those nagging and sometimes debilitating battles that take you to your knees in abject remorse? Or desperation? Yup. Too many to count.
When I allow my memories to drift to the surface from their hidden places, I see a schoolgirl and college student of the ’50s and ’60s. Although she’s an achiever and often in a spotlight, she’s pushing a wheelbarrow of insecurities. The weight keeps her from expressing herself freely. Oh, she can write some lines that sound good but don’t really scratch the surface of her locked boxes. She’s terrified of exposing what’s lurking in the dark corners of her inner self.
This girl dons clean, neat, well-maintained clothing each morning. But her outfits can’t rise to her circle of friends’ standards. To the contrary, her girlfriends frequent the little boutique on Main Street where the racks and shelves bulge with the latest fashion, sassy dresses and skirts and blouses cut from the highest quality fabric and trimmed just so. Some friends shop as far away as Dallas. You see, this girl’s clothes are handmade. Her mother seldom purchases an article of clothing. She sews and teaches her daughter to do the same. But for this girl, the old sewing machine is locked up tight in a hidden place.
She comes across to others as mature and confident. But she knows the truth. She’s just a country girl, a farmer’s daughter who lives on a dusty road miles out of town. Her school friends are daughters of ranchers, bankers, doctors, and business owners. Some of those girls’ fathers are farmers who own homes in town, not out in the sticks where the wind stirs up dust clouds that can blind a girl to all but what’s at the end of her nose. Hidden places abound in dust storms.
Her friends’ parents deliver them to school in brand-spanking-new, clean-as-a-whistle Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, and Chevrolets. They drive over city streets and rarely venture into the countryside. But this girl’s father buys second-hand family cars in whatever color is available. She lives down an unpaved road where cars, trucks, and the school bus stir up dust clouds that choke the passengers. She feels dusty—and a bit embarrassed—when she steps off the bus next to one of those new, clean cars delivering her girlfriends with not a speck of dust. Some girls even drive their own brand-spanking, new cars.
Back then, my physical eyesight measured better than 20/20. It’s well below that now. But I’ve learned that hindsight, unlike real-time vision, grows sharper, not dimmer, as the years go by. Stepping out to write for publication when I was past sixty was daunting, to be sure. But I knew if I didn’t do it then, I probably never would. So, I focused on a goal, researched and learned, and finally ventured forth, albeit ever-so tentatively. Maturity had equipped me to shove aside nagging insecurities, wounded pride, and disappointment, but they only went as far as their hidden places.
I didn’t unearth the deep secret places in my heart until I wrote The Mending of Lillian Cathleen. Lily is the heroine of the story, but she became a heroine to me personally. So she appeared in my debut novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, as an abused thirteen-year-old girl who grew up in a shanty on a horseshoe of land created by two hairpin curves in Rock Creek. Thickets and brambles obscured the Sloat property from the curious stares of townsfolk. Lily’s father Walter conducted unholy business on his five-acre piece of sod, and he took out his drunken rage on his daughter and wife in their rickety old shanty.
Rock Creek became known as the dividing line between prosperity and poverty and Lily as “the girl from the other side of Rock Creek.” Even worse than being ridiculed and ostracized by townsfolk, Lily wondered why her pa never loved her. She couldn’t remember a single time when she wrapped her arms around his neck. Or crawled onto his lap. Never had she heard “Well done” or “I’m proud of you.” Certainly not “I love you” from the man.
In The Mending of Lillian Cathleen, Lily is twenty-two and setting out as a woman in her own right. She faces life-altering choices that force her to reevaluate her values, faith, and aspirations. She’s swept into Fort Worth’s underworld of saloons and brothels where she confronts evil and uncovers mysteries about her past. Best of all, she learns not only who she is in an earthly sense but who she is in her heavenly Father’s eyes.
Which brings me back to my own tendency to back away in the face of insecurities and regrets, those hidden places in my own heart. Even now, I often think of Lily and ask myself what she would do in my situation. My own pain, regret, and insecurities helped me create the character Lily, but Lily helped me unearth my own hidden places and toss them “as far as the east is from the west.”
… as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
That scripture strikes me in a powerful way each time I read it. Not only does it express how far God’s love extends, but it does so with the only compass points that can illustrate this spiritual truth. Let me explain. When I taught geography years ago, a spiritual reality occurred to me. As I moved a fingertip along a globe from the Artic to Antarctica and back again, I realized that only one direction from the North Pole will take me to the South Pole—south. But I have to change directions to make it back to the North Pole. In other words, north and south meet at the poles, so there’s a limit to how far I can go north and still be going north. To get back home, I have to change my mind. I have to decide to go south.
This isn’t true for east and west, however. Imagine deciding to head west around the globe from Atlanta, Georgia and back again. Is there any point along the way when you must change directions? At any point must you turn around and face the opposite direction to reach Atlanta? No. Once you head out west, you can keep going west all the way back to Atlanta. East and West never meet along the way. Nor do they meet going east around the globe.
What a beautiful illustration of our heavenly Father’s love for us. It knows no end. It never turns around, never heads in the opposite direction. King David couldn’t have written as far as the south is from the north, so far has he removed our transgressions from us to express God’s love for us. No, only east and west would do.
Join me in thanking our heavenly Father for removing our transgressions [and insecurities, pain, embarrassment, shame, disappointment, and every other hidden emotion] as far as the east is from the west.
Linda Shenton Matchett
How Does an Author Determine Time Period
If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re a fan of historical fiction. It’s also a good probability that you have a favorite era. I have two: World War II and the late 1800s.
You might wonder at my choices. After all, they are decades apart. How could I be interested in such seemingly disparate time periods? In actuality, I find them to be more similar than one would think at first glance. Both eras went through tremendous change – technological, societal, and economic – albeit in different ways for different reasons.
Authors are inspired in myriad ways. When I am choosing the next book I want to write I consider whether there is a particular topic or theme I want to address, then determine if one era is better suited than another to cover that particular subject. Sometimes I stumble on an event or person(s) that I’m drawn to write about and that dictates the time period. Occasionally, I will put a retelling into an alternative era, such as my Wartime Brides series that features biblical stories set during World War II. For example, set in the last days of the occupation of Paris in 1944, Love’s Rescue is retells the story of Rahab and the two spies.
No matter what era I write about, my characters always experience a happily ever after.
Gold Rush Bride Tegan – the latest in the Gold Rush Bride series!
Tegan Llewellyn has always been different than her adopted family, except Grandmother Hannah, a prospector during the 1829 Georgia gold rush. Now, seventy years later there are reports of gold in Nome, and the opportunity is too good to pass up. But Tegan doesn’t count on the dangers that strike from the moment she steps off the steamer, including the threat of losing her heart.
Elijah Hunter has prospected for gold all over the US and Canada and likes being on the move. The last thing he expects to find on his latest search is a lady miner who proves to be nothing but trouble. Can he convince her that leaving is for her own good before it’s too late…for both of them?
- Why did you choose the fairytale you did for Slashed Canvas?
I was at a writer’s conference with Chautona Havig, the author of 2 books in this series. She was telling me about it and saying they would love to have me be a part of it. The concept is brilliant, and I was excited, so she started listing fairy tales I might use. When she mentioned The Lost Princess, the story popped into my head. No kidding, it was all there in about a half a second. A lost princess in the 1920s made me think about Russian nobility that had fled to Paris during the 1917 revolution, and of course, there had to be a WWI vet.
- What research did you have to do for Slashed Canvas and was it difficult? What sources did you use for research (ie books, articles, maps,etc)?
I had to research the Louvre in pretty great detail, but there are plenty of pictures on the internet. I had to make sure I had everything in its correct place in Paris, so that was more time spend on Google Maps. My biggest challenge was in coming up with a painting to use. I searched through everything I could find listed at the museum and tried to filter out what would have been there in 1923. And I needed it to be by a Russian artist, only to discover that the Russians pretty much don’t allow their art out of the country. I happened to be interviewing Kristy Cambron for my podcast, and since she was an art history major, she was a huge help. She was the one who suggested just making up a painting, which is what I ended up doing.
- What interesting thing(s) did you learn while writing Slashed Canvas?
One of the most interesting things I learned in my research with the hierarchy of Russian nobility. I originally had Katarina’s rank as Grand Duchess. I didn’t want her to be too close to the Imperial family. But as I double checked that, I learned that a Grand Duchess is the daughter of the Tsar. Princess is still pretty high up, but not as high as Grand Duchess. That was fun to learn about. Yes, I’m geeky that way.
- What upcoming projects do you have?
My next book to release is A Promise Engraved. This is my first dual-time novel set in Texas at the time of the Alamo and in the present day. A ring ties together two women separated by war, danger, and 200 years. Will Kayleigh be able to crack the code of the engraving and open the door to the past?
I’m also going to be part of the next set of Ever After mysteries, all taking place in the 1940’s, my favorite time period! It’s based on Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and centers on a missing trainload of gold.
Marguerite Martin Gray
As a reader, do you like to know what fashions the characters are wearing in the novels you read? Or the color or the fit? Does it say anything to you about the character? How much detail do you want to know?
I think historical detail, even in fashion, is important to a certain point. It authenticates the historical value. A sketch or a photograph always helps me place the character in his/her place. But that is not always available. Some readers would rather not see a picture and instead let the words conjure up the image.
Before writing a description about the attire of a character, I research the fashion of the day. I have resources on clothing of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, 18th century, and the Victorian Age. French, Italian, and British, as well as American Revolution. I don’t want my characters walking around in an empire dress when it should be a stomacher.
Besides my research books, I use pictures that I pin on a board. As I’m writing I can visualize the outfits and colors. For my American Revolution characters, I had paper dolls. I would change their clothes for the scenes. That was fun! I look at fabric samples in books or in photos to establish the trend of the time. Satin, cotton, or wool? Bustle or hoops? Day dress or ball gown?
I tend to leave much to the imagination of the reader. Here is an example from Labor of Love (1560 Florence):
Lucrezia was beautiful in her deep purple dress with puffed sleeves and bodice dripping with jewels.
…Ana curtsied and gazed at her own gown, dark blue under a sheer silver overlay. Puffed sleeves with beads, not jewels. Tiny narcissus in her hair rather than pearls and diamonds.
I’m not a fashion afficionado. But I do wonder what historical characters wore, and especially what they didn’t wear. Do you pay attention to the clothing details or quickly skip over, looking for the action?
The Incense Road…. And Camel Jumping
Habakkuk. One of the minor prophets tucked somewhere between Nahum and Zephaniah (at least I think it is–for some reason I cannot remember where it lives.)
Habakkuk was an earlier contemporary to Ezekiel and thus to Jeremiah. At the end of the short three chapters, Habakkuk composes a song for the Chief Musician, so chances are he was a Levite who served in the temple in Jerusalem.
What is interesting, Habakkuk’s vision is of the Lord coming from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran (Hab. 3:3)
Mount Paran is the same place where Moses saw the Glory of God (Duet 33:2), and is thought to be somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula or the Arabian Peninsula.
Why would a guy who had ties with Jerusalem be so far south?
What do we know about the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Old Testament?
Legend has it the Queen of Sheba who came to see King Solomon’s wisdom is from Arabia.
There is also evidence of the Incense Route traveling from the southern tip to Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea. The camel caravan would carry Frankincense and Myrrh from Frankincense modern day Yemen and Oman and even peppercorn from India.
Eventually there were 65 fortresses spaced out along the 1,200 mi route, each within one day’s journey from the last. These fortresses welcomed and refreshed the travelers and their camels. In exchange for the safety and refreshment, the caravans paid a high tax.
The Incense Route was still traveled through the 2nd century AD.
I love digging into the history and the culture surrounding the events in the Bible!
Oh, and the camel jumping.
In Yemen, they line up camels side by side, and with only a ramp of packed dirt a man takes a running start propels off the (small) ramp and over 1+ camels’ humps. I think the record is 6 camels!!!!!!!
Do a search for it online! It will blow your mind!
Sweet Promise Press
Bringing History to Life
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who do not list history as their favorite class from their school years. The Washington Post reported that:
Back in 1982, a survey was taken of sixth and 12th-graders in a Midwest school district to determine how the students felt about social studies. The results: The kids were “largely indifferent” or revealed “negative attitudes” toward social studies. If you listen to students and teachers, not much has changed since: A lot of kids in K-12 schools find history class boring.
But here at Sweet Promise Press, we have a way to make history come alive, and that is through books inspired by actual people and events. One such series is the Pioneer Brides, which tells of strong women who not only traverse wild territories to reach their new home in Rattlesnake Ridge, Nevada.
This isn’t the Nevada that’s home to the world-renowned Las Vegas strip, where the lights and action never stop. This is a part of Nevada’s history that you probably won’t read about in textbooks. You’ll learn about family secrets, suspicious deaths, and how these couples overcome the odds to find their way to happily-ever-after endings.
Although the Pioneer Brides of Rattlesnake Ridge is a series, the books stand alone which means you can dive in and start reading anywhere in the series. Choose your favorite and escape into the past today!