What do you think of when you see the word curse? The first thing that comes to my mind—probably because I often write “no cursing or on-scene intimacies” regarding my writing or really any writing I am involved with, so I think of bad words.
On second blush, the word brings to mind images of ugly wicked witches I’ve seen in Disney movies who curse the heroine of the story, as in Sleeping Beauty or the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. There are 169 mentions of a curse in God’s Word according to Biblegate.com.
The reason I bring curses up has to do with my newest heroine, Jolene, of book twemty-three in the annual, multi-author project, called the Prairie Roses Collection. She comes to believe that because of several tragic events, she is cursed. Have you ever thought that?
Proverbs 26:2 tells us, “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” JO’s hero uses this scripture with the young woman he believes God created in her mother’s womb to be his wife.
We’re told in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” That’s Jesus talking, red-lettered in my Bible. Easy to say, not so easy to do, yet He requires it of His followers.
In God’s word, the first cursed was the snake in the Garden of Eden. He was cursed to crawl on his belly and eat dust all his days, and God is the One who cursed him—and Adam as well. The first man was cursed for his disobedience as have been so many since.
We all have choices to make. In Deuteronomy 11:26-28, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” I choose Life. Jesus said I AM the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.
I choose Jesus and the relationship with His Father He offers me for my acceptance. Then comes the obedience to His laws, so important—not just to obey them, but to know them! See John 7:49 “But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.” We must know the law and obey.
God told Abraham “And I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” I believe this same is true of the nation of Israel, Abraham’s descendants. We will all—everyone in the earth!—be blessed when the Son of God comes again to rule and reign in Jerusalem!
The twenty-seventh chapter of Deuteronomy lists many abhorrent things His people can do to bring curses on themselves. The following chapter, verse fifteen, reminds us, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:”
Besides disobedience, we can also bring curses upon ourselves by not trusting God. Checkout Jeremiah 17:5 “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”
Today, so many Christians spew curses on their husbands, children, and other church members. “You’ll never amount to anything!” “You can’t do that.” A pastor recently said from behind his pulpit to his congregation, “You don’t want to get serious with God! You’d rather please your flesh. You don’t think of the things of God, but only yourselves.”
Do we not know God created the world and its contents with His words? By speaking? Are we created in His image? Yes, so then our words go forth and create what we speak. Plus the Bible tells us He creates the fruit of our lips. What could that fruit be other than our words? We must learn to guard the things we say!
One day, we will no longer have to be concerned about curses. It says so in Revelation 22:3 “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:”
Read JO and see how she came to believe she was cursed then how she was able to overcome. How do we overcome? By the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony, loving not our own lives, even unto death (Revelation 12:11).
Linda Shenton Matchett
We Can Do It!
Most people know that during World War II women stepped into jobs previously held by men. Perhaps the icon image of Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter comes to mind. But women did more than work in the factories and the fields. In fact, some of them made it to the front lines.
Magazines, newspapers, and radio chafed at the bit to send reporters into the fray, but the military used an accreditation process to determine who could and couldn’t cover the war. A lengthy process that required background checks on the application as well as his or her family, weeded out many candidates. According to Life photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, “By the time you are accredited you have no secrets from the War Department and neither do your ancestors.”
By the end of the war, of the nearly 2,000 accredited war correspondents, only 127 of them were women.
Accreditation acted as a contract: The Army or Navy transported correspondents into war zones, fed and sheltered them, and sent their dispatches home. In return, correspondents followed military law and censorship. Correspondents who defied rules lost credentials.
Nearly every commander in the Allied forces refused to allow women near combat. They feared women breaking under pressure (a fate that befell many men), balking at lack of women’s latrines, or influencing soldiers to take risks to protect them. Journalist Martha Gellhorn (Ernest Hemingway’s third wife) is considered by many to be one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. She said, “I have too frequently received the impression that women war correspondents were an irritating nuisance. I wish to point out that none of us would have our jobs unless we know how to do them and this curious condescending treatment is as ridiculous as it is undignified.”
Then there’s Marguerite Higgins who was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for her coverage of the Korean War. But well before that she covered WWII and in the process advanced the cause of equal access for female war correspondents. To the colonel who told her she must leave the war front because there might be trouble, she said, “I wouldn’t be here if there were no trouble. Trouble is news and the gathering of news is my job.”
Still, some accredited women managed to see combat. Sometimes the front shifted, catching women in the thick of action, as was the case with Ruth Cowan in North Africa. Some asked officers to write letters of introduction to combat zones, as did Bourke-White in Italy. Still others got their by hook or by crook. Martha Gellhorn’s career lasted sixty years, and she covered nearly every major event that occurred during that time. In order to reach the beach and report on the D-Day invasion she sneaked aboard a hospital ship and hid in the bathroom during the entire voyage then impersonated a stretcher bearer. She got the story, but lost her credentials. Her response? “I followed the war wherever I could reach it.”
The Widow & The War Correspondent is my effort to honor these brave women.
What is Historical?
When I started in this industry twenty years ago, writing historical fiction, there was a definite line that defined what was historical. Anything after WWII was off limits. You didn’t write about the 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s. It would never sell. In those days, it was all about traditional publishing, and they controlled what you wrote. And they knew what would sell and appeal to the readers.
Then came indie publishing, and that changed so much. Those authors could write whatever time period they chose. Traditional publishers took notice, and the line moved. Split time fiction also contributed because authors could pretty much choose whatever times they wanted. There are even books with three different time periods. It added so much flexibility for authors. I’ve personally read books where the historical part is set in the 1960s or 1970s.
So where is that line today? It’s so hard to say. There is really good fiction written in pretty much any time period from Biblical to the Middle Ages to prairie romances to the World Wars to Vietnam, the 1980s to today. Yikes! I remember some of those times!
The reader really drives the market. Some of us older folks would not want to have Vietnam or the 1980s labeled historical because we remember those times. They don’t seem that long ago. The younger generation might have no problem labeling those eras as historical because they weren’t even born yet.
I guess that didn’t really answer the question, and I think there is no good answer right now for it. Any time period is acceptable, as long as readers are willing to buy it. Agent Steve Laube has said that historical is anything 1972 and before. I don’t know where he came up with that date, but that’s what he says. Publishers might have a different idea. Writing contests may have their own cut-off lines.
What do you think? Where would you draw the line?
Marguerite Martin Gray
Travel and Research
I have the opportunity to travel with two author friends to Scotland and England. I’m writing this before I leave. I view travel as a chance to expand on my motto for writing: Entertain. Educate. Encourage.
Travel, even to the next state, gives me hours of joy as I wander the unfamiliar or familiar venues. I don’t have to be doing something new to be entertained. In Scotland and England this year, there are castles and houses, paths and beaches, churches and cathedrals, tearooms and restaurants, and bookshops, all vying for my attention. I’m so easily entertained.
Education is part of traveling. Before I leave my house on my journey, I read and research. If the destination involves history, I hone in on the possibility of learning something new and figuring out a way for it to stick in my full brain. History lurks in every castle, loch, or pub. Oh, I’ll for sure be asking questions and searching for local books. These three authors will be focusing on the next plot or two.
Inspiration is laced in the fabric of the ancient buildings in the UK and the history rich in Christianity. I’m encouraged by the lives of the present and past who carried out beautiful plans to live and grow. God shines through the stained-glass windows, the old stone country churches, the stories of great sacrifice, and the sunsets over the fields or water.
I have a feeling more than one story will weave through my head as I research and take notes. If not, my travels in Scotland and England with two dear friends will be more than enough—treasures to cherish.
What do you know about Ezekiel? Part 2
(Read part 1 in May 2022)
King Jehoiakim meets his death, falling over the city wall. His son, JehoiachiN, assumes the throne, and waves the white flag of surrender the second Nebuchadnezzar comes to town.
Perhaps he thinks he will get the nation back in Nebuchadnezzar’s good graces. Perhaps he doesn’t want the battle. He knew his father was wrong to withhold tribute. At any rate, his surrender also leads to the exile of 10,000 royals, artisans and valiant warriors.
So, they make this long trek from Jerusalem to the land of Babylonia by the Euphrates River. The route was nearly 900 miles. (The prophet Ezra made the journey in four months later on).
Ezekiel 1:1-3 says
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the Lord was upon him there. (Emphasis mine)
According to my research, this has Ezekiel being thirty years old when they had been in captivity for 5 years.
Here’s an interesting side note: based off Levitical law, priests were ordained into service at the age of 30. A Levite could start their service to God at the age of 20 (according to a law put in place by King David—Leviticus has them starting their Levitical duties at 25).
All priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests.
This information seems to support that Ezekiel was in Levitical service when he was exiled. And on his 30th birthday when he should have been ordained as a priest—except he can’t be a priest if he’s not at the temple in Jerusalem—he goes out to the wilderness and meets God Most High. Seven days Ezekiel was out by the River Chebar (no currently known location).
Guess how many days the Levite was meditating and fasting before being made a priest?
When Ezekiel should have been stepping into Priestly service, God is laying a mantle of visions and prophecies on him.
His plan was to intercede for the people and point them to God.
God’s plan was for him to be the voice of judgement.
Like all prophets, God specifically says the people may or may not hear the words, but they will know there is a prophet in their midst. Hebrews are assimilating to their environment in Babylonia OR determined that surely the Lord would not destroy His holy city, Jerusalem.
When God gave Ezekiel the scroll of dread and despair and told him to eat it (like I said, bizarre symbolism) it was actually sweet like honey.
This leads me to believe (along with many other references in scripture) that if God gives you an unpleasant task, He will also sustain you with His presence.
How about you? Are you assimilating into the culture around you?
Do you feel God would never allow “this” or “that” because you are His chosen one?
Are you faced with an unpleasant task that brings light to God’s just reaction to sin?
As a priest was meant to be a mediator between God and man and intercede on their behalf, we are called to direct those around us to God and His perfect plan
Perhaps those around us will repent. Perhaps they won’t. Either way, live your life in such a way that they know, a follower of Christ has been in their midst.