Five Minute Friday: Settle

Contemplate

Gentle Reader,

Our Fearless Leader was busy celebrating her book launch, so for the first time in the history of everything, there was no prompt shared around 6:45 (Pacific Daylight Time) last night. I guess we’ll forgive her. This time.

No, seriously: We are all so happy for you, Kate! Your book is awesome. You deserve all the accolades and sales. Truly.

So, this morning, she says: settle.

Go.

We don’t have to settle, you know
For castles made of sand
And kingdoms prone to burn
For frauds who prance as princes
And trends so fast to turn

We don’t have to settle, you know
For offices tucked in corners
And accounts that bulge with cash
For grandiose titles after names
And powers gone in flash

We don’t have to settle, you know
For the building of the platform
And the chasing of the “like”
For the hollowing out of voice
And the statistics, hope they spike

We don’t have to settle, you know
For the things this place can give
And what we’re supposed to want
For all that will fade one day
And the stuff that others flaunt

We don’t have to settle, you know
Because there is more than meets our eyes
Because there is deeper than this
Because there is One who loves us so
Because righteousness and peace, they kiss

Stop.

Signature

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).
Advertisements

Review: A Light on the Hill

Light on the Hill

Gentle Reader,

Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, “Tell the Israelites: Select your cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that a person who kills someone unintentionally or accidentally may flee there. These will be your refuge from the avenger of blood. When someone flees to one of these cities, stands at the entrance of the city gate, and states his case before[a] the elders of that city, they are to bring him into the city and give him a place to live among them. And if the avenger of blood pursues him, they must not hand the one who committed manslaughter over to him, for he killed his neighbor accidentally and did not hate him beforehand. He is to stay in that city until he stands trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest serving at that time. Then the one who committed manslaughter may return home to his own city from which he fled.”

– Joshua 20:1-6 (CSB)

I like stories that make me think. A Light on the Hill, by Connilyn Cossette, is one such story. Set just prior to the death of Joshua, when the Conquest of the Promised Land was still happening, Cossette tells the story of Moriyah, a woman who experienced great trauma as a captive in the city of Jericho. (Note: The opening chapters contain bits that allude to a previous novel, Wings of the Wind, but it not necessary to have read that in order to follow the plot). This trauma has resulted in what we would recognize today as PTSD; Moriyah has flashbacks, triggered by certain sounds and smells, and does her best to keep out of everyone’s way.

Moriyah’s life begins to spin out of control one night when she dares to take part in a festival at Shiloh. All of the women present are veiled (a key part of her story), which empowers her bold act of joining in a dance. She catches the eye of a soldier named Darek. The attraction is mutual, though Moriyah has just learned that her father has arranged a marriage for her.

To our eyes, an arranged marriage seems horrific, but women did have some agency. Moriyah knows that she could object and that her father wouldn’t make her go through with it. Due to her time in Jericho, however, she believes that it’s best for her to, essentially, take what she can get. She knows that her father is seeking to protect and provide for her out of true kindness. Despite a (chaste) evening spent with this soldier, she chooses to square her shoulders and attempt to get the best out of the situation.

Then two boys die.

She is forced to run.

A Light on the Hill has all the elements of a conventional, gentle romance, but it’s so much more than that. I kept turning the pages because the story was so fascinating to me. Cossette obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching source material, both the Scriptures and scholarly tomes. The reader genuinely feels transported to another time and place, rich with foreign sounds and customs. It was especially interesting to me to learn that the language barrier between the Israelites and Canaanites was not insurmountable, an element that is integral to a good third of the novel.

This book occupies that wonderful space that all good historical novels fall into: a great story and the reader learns something. While the ending isn’t exactly a surprise, I didn’t mind that at all because I had such a good time getting there. Definitely recommend this one, particularly for fans of Mesu Andrews and Francine Rivers.

Signature

I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR MY FAIR AND HONEST REVIEW.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).

Just a Bit of Creative Crisis, Please

Where Now

Gentle Reader,

If this is the first time you’ve ever come across this little blog, first, welcome. Second, apologies. You find me in the midst of wrestling with what direction all this writing is meant to take. Such a “creative person” stereotype, to be filled with doubt, questions and even a bit of self-loathing when considering what it means to have been out here, online, for over a decade. To think about the dozens of journals I have filled since age 12. To sift through sketches, ideas, bits and pieces that have yet to see the light of publication.

That word – decade – is probably what’s causing the consternation. You see, we never stop growing up. At least, we aren’t supposed to. Each new ten-year span brings about change. I remain as curious and thoughtful as I was when I was a child, but there is no doubt that the woman who stares back at me from the other side of the mirror is not the same person she was even a year ago.

There is an itching underneath my skin, the kind that cannot be soothed by potions or ointments. Something is coming. A change whistles on the wind. A longing for…what, I don’t know.

Certainly not fame. There are, of course, times when I covet the spot at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, but I would be a terrible famous person. I want to be able to go places and do things without interference. Essentially, I mind the obscurity less and less. Truly, most of us labor in obscurity. The James Patterson’s of the world, who are able to churn out several books a month, are rare. And, candidly, wedded to a formula. There’s nothing wrong with that; after all, the famous authors are famous for a reason. They are able to quickly discern what works for them and keep at it. The rest of us, we put out some good things, even some great things, but there’s a lot of dross surrounding.

Sadly, I suspect that I am in what I shall term a “dust period,” a time of writing nothing very special at all. It is tempting to step away from here until the magic of inspiration strikes again. All writers need breaks. In fact, a very important part of the creative process is found in doing things like staring out the window, reading about the Treaty of Utretcht, cuddling the newest goddaughter and generally finding anything to do but write all while feeling vaguely guilty that the writing isn’t being done.

But then…I think about what I want this blog to be about. What I want my writing to be about. The words of my journalism adviser roll around in my mind: “Tell the story, whatever the story is.” The truth is that life isn’t always glorious and inspired. More often, it’s mundane. Pulling weeds in the garden, folding laundry (again), wondering what shape my hair is going to take today (as all curly-headed people know, you do not control the hair, the hair controls you), drinking coffee, mild bickering with the husband over what to watch on television. Another truth – writing is much more cussed determination than it is talent. I keep doing it not because I am the best, or hope to ever be the best, but because there is no alternative. Perfection is the impossible dream, right up there with Don Quixote’s quest. If I were to wait for the “right time” or the “best subject,” then I’d never write again.

So – I don’t know where we’re going from here, but I do know that we won’t stop going. Just, perhaps, instead of boldly the scaling the heights of spiritual Mount Everests, we’ll walk through quiet neighborhoods, allowing ourselves to take the slow, less glorious path. Instead of searching these words for brilliance or entertainment, rather imagine yourself linking arms with me, looking ahead, as we talk about everything and nothing at all.

Cozy little picture, isn’t it?

Signature

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).

Five Minute Friday: Routine

Routine

Gentle Reader,

Something to ponder:

How was she created? I’m not sure if you realize this, but it was in God’s image. How can anybody dare to speak ill of something which bears such a noble imprint?

– Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies

Born in 1364 in Venice, Italy, Christine de Pizan must have been in possession of a TARDIS, for her work was far ahead of its time. Regarded as the first professional female writer in Europe, she published both prose and poetry, participated in literary debate and commented on theological topics at a time when many wondered if women should read or write at all. (Our brains being ill equipped for intellectual pursuits and all that). de Pizan dared to state that women are equal to men, that rape is a crime and that we have a talent for governing well.

Sad, isn’t it, that over six centuries later, in some circles, these ideas are still regarded as radical?

Kate says: routine.

Go.

Ah, yes. One of my favorite words.

I don’t function properly without some idea of what the day is going to hold and how I need to navigate through it. This doesn’t mean that I am never spontaneous; I can let go with the best of them as long it’s in a quiet, organized fashion. I wish that were true, actually. Illness leaves little room for spur-of-the-moment decisions, though, on a really good day, when all the planets are in alignment (if I believed in that sort of thing, which I do not), I can rouse myself from the couch and the books and sally forth on an adventure.

Some think of “routine” and immediately scowl, but it’s not as bad as all that. Everyone needs a schedule. Everyone needs order. Nothing would ever be accomplished without lists and timetables. Within those boundaries, there’s really quiet a lot of room to play and explore. I can’t calculate the number of documentaries or the amount of music I’ve listened to while running errands, keeping house and sitting in lines. In our technologically-advanced era, even the most mundane, mind-numbing of tasks can be made bearable.

This is not to say that everyone’s routine should be the same. We’re all different. I, for example, will never be a night-owl (willingly, I should say, as insomnia does keep me up many nights) but I’m friends with those who are. I find it easier to get things done earlier in the day; they prefer handling tasks when all others have gone to bed. Some roll out of bed and directly into exercise, others first need coffee in order to become human. There is no ten-step program that guarantees harmonious living for every person.

So, have a routine. Work on that self-discipline thing we all love so much. But don’t stress if you don’t do things exactly the same as someone else. It’s okay. As they say, “You do you, boo.”

Stop.

This has no connection to anything whatsoever, but I just discovered this lovely piece of music. Enjoy.

Signature

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER, REST STOPS ALONG THE WAY. PONDERINGS AND PUPPY VIDEOS DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX EACH SATURDAY(ISH).