These Are the Days, My Friend
Who remembers that song by Mary Hopkins released in 1968 titled Those Were the Days? I’m changing it to THESE are the days! And I’m singing, “These are the days, my friend. We’re coming to the end! He’s coming soon; the signs are everywhere! You best get ready, dear! His will be leaving here! These are the days! Oh, yes! These are the days!”
Do you believe it. Can you see the signs that our earth is in labor? All natural disasters—tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes—are coming more frequently and are more devastating each year!
Evil is escalating at an unimaginable rate! So many people reject God and His Way. Morality is out the window for society as men and women live together without marriage and give in to unnatural lusts!
It’s because of this that I wrote the Days of Dread Trilogy for older mid-grade and young adult readers. Book Three in this series, THE KIDRON VALLEY debuts next month on November 11th, completing the story, and can be preordered now. It follows THE KING’S HIGHWAY, (Book One) and THE SIXTH TRUMPET (Book Two).
The Days of Dread follow fifteen-year-old Jackson Allison as he shoulders the responsibility of his siblings McKenzie (thirteen) and Cooper (nine) after an electric magnetic pulse (EMP) explodes and knocks out all electricity (computers, communications, vehicles, airplanes, water pumps, etcetera), throwing his world back into the nineteenth century.
Food is short, and danger waits around every corner in the cities. People in his neighborhood are being murdered. A mysterious old man—in reality, an angel unaware—helps guide Jackson to leave and take his sister and brother to his grandparents.
A ZonderKidz editor asked me, “Why would you write such a story for children?” I answered, “To bolster their faith that when—one day in the future—they are thrown into hard days, God will be with them, protect, and provide for them.”
The Lord even gave me a song titled “Angels Unaware” that I have recorded and uploaded to my YouTube channel.
I do believe we are in those days where time catapults us toward the end of this age, but though the Bible tells us they will be terrible days such as the world has never known or will know again (Matthew 24:15 –red letters, y’all), I also believe they will be the most awesome days His Church has ever known.
The great revival we’ve heard about since we were children in Sunday School is coming! The fields are ripe for the harvest! We will be moving in power, doing the things Jesus did and greater! That hasn’t happened yet in the world! Miracles will bring the lost into the Kingdom by the thousands!
I have had a vision of laying hands on veterans who have lost limbs defending our country and seeing God grow out new arms and legs—right before my eyes! What can you see yourself doing in these coming days? Ask God to show you!
Once, I was young with my life ahead of me, now I am old and my heart’s desire is to live in the eternal presence of the Lord. I know, though, that it is not my time yet. His plan for me has not been fulfilled yet. One way He is using me now to write books that I pray give Him glory.
At the same time, He’s preparing me for my ministry in those Endtime days, making me look more and more like Jesus every day—the good work He began in my life when I was a nine-years-old and gave my heart to Him.
Though I wrote the Days of Dread Trilogy for the younger set, parents and grandparents are loving the stories, too! One dear grandmother said THE KING’S HIGHWAY was her favorite book ever, that she read it twice back-to-back because she didn’t want the story to end! What great review!
Linda Brooks Davis
Measureless. It’s a concept highlighted in my second novella, A Christmas Measure of Love. What comes to mind when you read this word?
Although unimaginable to our finite minds, even the distances to the farthest stars retain a sense of measure-ability. But the concept of measure-lessness defies understanding. Somewhat like eternity. Right?
If I were compelled to name one measureless something other than God and eternity, I would answer without hesitation, “My mother’s love for me.” She passed into Glory in 1995, but every year on her birthday, Mother’s Day, and when I’m writing about a fictional mother, my mother’s spirit hovers near. And my heart remembers. In fact, her love for me inspired my second novella, A Christmas Measure of Love.
Goldie Leona Banks Brooks was no shrinking violet. Or pansy. She was more like the lantana and verbena that bloom in Texas most of the year. I doubt she’d delight in this comparison but hear me out.
First, these hardy plants thrive in heat and drought and aren’t fussy about the soil. They add bold color to the garden and require zero tending. They’re dependable and determined, and they find a place to bloom, invited or not. They don’t give off fancy fragrances, but they don’t apologize either.
Mother’s favorite flower was the rose (with the orchid coming in a close second). I think she admired their delicacy, and I know she loved the scent of the rose. It’s a good thing she was neither a rose nor an orchid, fragile and fussy about her surroundings. She wouldn’t have managed as a Great Depression farm wife otherwise. Nor would she have survived twenty-five trying years of widowhood, holding onto the home and farmland she and Daddy worked so hard to acquire.
When Mother’s birthday appears on the calendar each year, I return to memories of growing up as Goldie’s girl. She had always wanted a daughter, but by 1941 she had given birth to three boys and buried one. So, when in 1946 her doctor confirmed she was expecting another child, all she could think were girl thoughts.
Thereafter, she made a pest of herself among church friends, asking them to pray for God to give her a girl. (Truthfully, they ran the other way when they saw her coming. 🙂 She threaded her days with incessant prayers of her own. Please give me a girl.
But in time she convinced herself it was better to build a wall of defense around her heart than to leave it exposed to disappointment. So, when she entered the clinic to deliver her fourth child on the 5th day of September, she told herself she and Wilson were destined for a household of boys. (Would she have traded either of her precious boys for a girl? Never!)
So, when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl,” she heard “It’s a boy.” She held tears in check until Daddy entered her room with a huge grin.
“What’re you crying about, Goldie?”
“Another boy.” Sniff, sniff.
“No. It’s a girl.”
“Stop teasing me.” Blub. Blub.
“Goldie, we have a girl.”
She shook her head and turned away.
Then the doctor entered the room. “You did it, Goldie. You got your girl.”
Wiping her face with a sheet hem, Mother sat up …
And the rest is … Well, it’s proverbial history packed with mother love and gratitude. And a lesson learned: Never underestimate the power of a mother’s love—or her prayers.
Later, the preacher wrote to friends who had moved away: Praise the Lord! Wilson and Goldie have a girl! Little did anyone know at the time, but eleven years later, Goldie was to have another baby–a boy again, but–oh–how great was the rejoicing.
Indeed, Mother was like our Texas lantana and verbena. Strong. Stubborn. Self-sufficient. At times, overly so. She asked no one to wait on her or tend her. But—oh—how I wish I could.
Lord, how weak is our faith. We often pray, doubting.
Help us to pray, trusting. For Jesus’ sake.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Linda Shenton Matchett
The Woman Behind the Man Behind the Chocolate Empire
Milton S. Hershey was a forty-year-old confirmed bachelor and fourteen years her senior when he met the beautiful, gregarious, and charming Catherine “Kitty” Sweeney during a business trip to Jamestown, New York. She often frequented the A.D. Work’s Confectionary, one of Milton’s clients. He was immediately smitten, and Jamestown became a regular stop during his travels.
The oldest daughter and second of four children, Catherine was born 150 years ago on July 6, 1871 into an Irish immigrant family. She chose not to finish high school. Instead, finding work at a jewelry store. Working in retail didn’t carry the stigma of domestic service, and Kitty enjoyed the social interaction the shop provided.
After beginning their courtship, Kitty moved to New York City and worked in the ribbon section of Altman’s Department Store. The couple was married in the rectory of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday, May 25, 1898. Many of his friends and family were stunned, and some felt Kitty had “roped him in.” However, it soon became obvious the two were madly in love.
As a “shop girl,” Kitty had a lot to overcome because of Milton’s wealth and standing in the community, but she was soon accepted by all except Milton’s mother who thought her vain. Unusual for the time, their marriage was a true partnership. She fussed over him and called him “my little Dutchman,” and he doted on her. He brought her a daily arrangement of fresh flowers.
At the Columbian Exhibition in 1893, Milton became enamored with the display and machinery for milk chocolate (a secret coming out of Switzerland). Convinced the product was the wave of the future, stating “caramels are a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing,” he purchased the equipment and worked on developing the recipe while running his caramel company. Then in 1900, he sold Lancaster Caramel Company to the American Caramel Company for one million dollars enabling him to finally pursue his chocolate full time.
In 1903, instead of building a new factory in an established city, Milton and Kitty chose the rural and wide-open space of Derry Township, not far from his home town. Part of a forward-thinking group of entrepreneurs, they believed that providing better working and living conditions would result in better employees. Their vision included lots people could purchase, parks, playgrounds, schools, and a trolley system. A volunteer fire department was formed in 1905, the YMCA in 1910, and the YWCA in 1911.
The company was wildly successful, generating more profits than the Hersheys could possibly spend. When it became of obvious the couple would not have children, they decided to become the benefactors of children who needed help, and on November 19, 1909, established the Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School). Of significance is that both Milton and Kitty signed the Deed of Trust. He would always say the school was “Kitty’s idea.”
She supervised the construction, interior design, and landscaping for their home, High Point, at a cost of approximately $100,000 as compared to George Vanderbilt who spent an estimated $10 million for his 250-room mansion, Biltmore. From the beginning, High Point’s grounds and gardens were open to visitors at no charge, another way Kitty gave back to the community.
Having suffered from a debilitating degenerative disease for most of their marriage, Kitty died March 25, 1915 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Devastated by her death, Milton had her body placed in a receiving vault for four years. He had flowers placed twice weekly on the casket. For the rest of his life, Milton carried a picture of Kitty with him, and he never remarried.
Kitty’s legacy at the Milton Hershey School is still apparent, and she was further recognized by the naming of a subsidiary school after her. The Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning provides a cost-free education, social, and cognitive day program to children of lower income from birth to age five.
What Hope Is Not
“I hope it stops raining.”
“I hope you feel better soon.”
“I hope I get that promotion.”
“I hope my pie tastes good.”
There are so many things in life we hope for. Good health. Prosperity. Happiness. Maybe even fame and success.
The world might define hope as a wish for a good outcome to a future event, that something pleasant would happen, that things would go our way. It’s a crossing of the fingers, a holding of the breath, a looking to the stars. If only my life would align the way I want it to. If only things would turn out the way I plan. If only I could have the things in life I want.
What happens when the rain continues to fall and spoils the picnic? What happens when that loved one dies? How about when that promotion goes to someone else or the pie is burned beyond recognition?
Some learn to roll with the punches. Comme ci, comme ça. Others get angry at the circumstances or perhaps even the person who thwarted their plans. They shout or pout. After the stock market crash in 1929, when many hopes of wealth were dashed, some took their own lives. They couldn’t deal with the crushing blow of failure.
There are those who blame God for their troubles and walk away from him, turning their backs on the church. They see him as a vengeful, spiteful spirit who refuses to give them their way. God is the great grandfather in the sky who is supposed to grant all their wishes. When he doesn’t, they refuse to have anything to do with him. All because they didn’t get what they hoped for.
But is that what hope is truly about? Is that the true definition of hope? Does it ever disappoint? There has to be more to hope than what the world says there is. Finger crossing and wishing on stars doesn’t get you very far. It doesn’t do much good and doesn’t change the future.
The good news is that there is much more to hope than what the world believes there is. When they urge you to have hope, it’s a vague wish for good fortune. But they miss out on what true hope is all about.
Be sure to watch for the next couple installments of #BecauseFiction because we’ll delve deeper into what hope is and discover its beauty, richness, and deepness. Hope is the rock on which we build everything else.
Marguerite Martin Gray
The Naming Game
In a way, naming the characters in a novel is like choosing a name for a baby. At times, it feels as if my novels are my children, in a literary sense. I have the auspicious and important task of naming and developing my characters. It is a process where the name might change a few times before it permanently sticks to the living and breathing characters on the page.
So where do I start? Since I write historical fiction right now, the name must be authentic to the era, the country, and the language. Here are a few examples from my Revolutionary Faith Series. Since I use historical figures for my protagonists, I decide to use their real names, Elizabeth Elliott and Louis Lestarjette. Easy enough, especially with names I like. Elizabeth is a strong feminine name from her British background; whereas, Louis derives directly from his French origin.
I enjoy choosing the names of the secondary characters, using the same formula. Elizabeth’s sister is Anne with the choice of George for her brother. Sticking to the era and the British affiliation, the naming does become a game. Here are some of the names winning a voice in the series: Mary, Henry, Clifford, Tom, Charlotte, Sarah, Christiane, Amy, Ellen, Lucy, and Victoria. The names for Louis’ relatives include Jeannette, André, and Jean.
Do I have to change some names from time to time? Yes, I do if the names sound too similar or have been used before in the books. I ran into a bit of a problem when readers and authors suggested I change Elizabeth Elliott’s name since there is a famous woman by the same name. I couldn’t do it because my Elizabeth Elliott really existed.
My next series, Gardens in Time, is set in four different countries. I researched strong names from the eras and the countries. Book One, Labor of Love, takes place in Florence, Italy in 1560. Ana Geovani and Marco Rossi join historical figures from the Medici family—Isabella, Lucrezia, Cosimo, and Eleanora. Book Two, Promise of Purity is set in England 1660 with names such as Kate, Peter, Jane, Rebecca, and Edward.
I love the process. Let the Naming Game begin!
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 1:6
Concrete and Cranes, anybody?
This year for Vacation Bible School, our church has done a once-a-week program—cleverly, we are calling it Monday Bible School. This format has been working really well. The volunteers are fresh each night and we’ve adapted to pulling the city scape in and out of the sanctuary each week so services can proceed as normal.
What I love most, is we are able to speak truth into these kids’ lives, to build a strong foundation on Jesus. Though we are small in numbers, the majority of kids are not ones that come regularly to our church. The curriculum is construction site themed, and we speak each week of how to build our lives on Jesus. With Him as our foundation, storms will surely come—family members will overdose, children will struggle with depression, home lives will be rocky—but we cannot be shaken.
For if Jesus is our foundation, we can hold onto His promises. He will never leave us. We are not alone in our struggles. He has already overcome the world. He has given us His peace.
These are scary times to raise children in. But consider this: The Lord is not shocked by what our kids are facing. In fact, He has placed them here for such a time as this, to be the Daniels and the Esthers of this generation.
So, I charge you take the time to create that firm foundation based on Jesus Christ. Train them up in ways of the Lord, so when those sinking sands and blustery storms come, they will be firmly rooted. Let them see you turning to God in your trials, so they can have an example when the trials come their way. Even if it isn’t your child—my own kid is old enough to help for half the time before another family invests in her by taking her to soccer. These kiddos need someone to see them. To pray for them. To love them.
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion… God has started a good work in my kids at church. He will faithfully carry it out until it is finished.
What good work has God begun in your life?
Build your life on Christ. He won’t let you down.