Scavenger Hunt for Miram

I have the privilege of being a part of the launch team for Mesu Andrews’ newest book, Miriam, the second installment in her Treasures of the Nile series. Several of us on the team decided to get together and have a scavenger hunt and giveaway to celebrate the book’s release. We want to invite you to be a part of the fun next week!

Miriam Scavenger Hunt Blog Hop

From 1am Eastern (US) time on March 15th, the book’s release date, until 11:59pm on March 20th, there will be a scavenger hunt with stops on 14 different blogs!

You’ll start at Mesu’s blog and finish your journey at Mommynificent.com. At the end of each post, you’ll find links to all of the stops in the hunt. Between March 15th and 20th, click on the next link, head over to the page, meet a new book-lover, and read their thoughts about this fantastic book. Somewhere in each post there will be a single word that is in BOLD AND ALL CAPITALS. Write it down. (The words “Home” and “Good Luck” are not secret words for anyone.)

Then, go to the next stop. That post will also have a word that’s bolded and capitalized. You will need to visit all 14 blogs as each one will have a word that you need.

Once you reach the end and have found all the words, you will have found an inspirational quote from the book Miriam. There are 14 words in this quote. Enter the quote into the Rafflecopter on the last stop and you will be entered to win a Kindle Fire from Mesu Andrews!

In addition, each blogger will be running their own giveaway of a set of paperbacks of Mesu’s two Treasures of the Nile books – The Pharaoh’s Daughter and Miriam!

If you have any questions, get lost, or experience any technical difficulties, you may email Tina at tina{at}mommynificent{dot}com for help.

Good luck and have lots of fun!

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Fall Behind, Hurry to Catch Up

I am a few thousand words short of where I should be if I want to stay on track. But the John and Sary’s story is slowly coming together. They have just met for the first time on Christmas Eve day . . .  Want to read it?

095The warm light drew him. It became a window. John fell against the rough siding an peered in. Through the wavy panes of glass, a fire crackled beneath a spit where a giant bird slowly rotated.
A sleepy-eyed child crouched next to the hearth yawning as she turned the spit. A woman worked a mound of dough at a table. John stood transfixed as the dough became loaves of bread. His stomach rumbled but he was afraid to move for fear the delicious scene would disappear.
“What are you doing?”
John whirled around at the snap of the voice but ended up on his hands and knees once more.
“Mother, Mary, come help.”
Slender arms wrapped around his chest and helped him to his feet. A nearby door swung open spilling light and heavenly scents into the cold morning air. John allowed the women to lead him inside.
They ushered him to a chair next to the fire. The heat seemed to scald his skin. Phantom pain flashed through his numb hands.
The women worked at the knots holding the blankets around him around him. Then did the same to his woolen coat. As the soaked layers were pulled off, the heat flooded over him bringing on a violent fit of shivering. When they tried to remove the linen gloves from his hands, John curled his fingers and held them on.
“Now sir, we must get these wet things off of you. Let me have the gloves.”
With his teeth chattering, John was unable to speak but he shook his head and pulled his hands closer to his body. He was too cold to think, but still refused to show his hands.
“Well then, hold this tea, it will help warm them.”
John took the cup, but his hands trembled so violently the tea sloshed over the side. The young woman cupped his hands in hers and steadied them. The first sip scalded his tongue, then slid down his throat with blissful heat. He closed his eyes allowing the warmth to spread through his belly.
“Have another.”
He opened his eyes and met those of the young woman crouched before him. They were wide with concern and the fire reflected off the hazel so that they seemed to glow with tones of green-gold and bronze. Her cheeks grew red under his gaze, a perfect complement to the eyes. He stared until thick lashed fluttered down as a shield.
“What were you doing out there, young man?” The mother came back to the room with a thick towel and began rubbing it over his head and shoulders. The vigorous rubbing awoke thousands of red-hot needles in his skin. More woke in his feet as the youngest removed his sodden boots and rubbed with another towel. The agony brought a moan to his lips, tears threatened to escape regardless of how he tried to hold them in.
“I know it hurts, but we have to get the blood moving before frostbite can set in.” The woman continued to rub across his chest. The girl with the eyes had taken his cup and he spotted her hanging a woolen blanket near the fire. He followed her movements. She still wore the cloak and scarf showing that she had been the one to find him.
“Th-th-thank you.” It took several tries before his lips would obey his command. “Moth-th-er. F-f-father.”
“I’m sure you are welcome, but I am not your mother young man.”
“By th-the river.”
All three females stopped their ministrations and stared at him.
“There are more of you out there? Why, it is below freezing, what can you have been thinking of.” The mother offered another sip of tea then another.
He tried again. “Set ash-sh-shore by ship’s long boat. Mother sick. Had to find help.”
“Sary, you’re dressed, go out and find your father. Mary, put more tea on and get the quilts from the attic.”

What do you think? Is it an interesting meeting?Cutting-gingered-bread

They’re Just Things

“It’s mine.”

“No, it’s mine. I saw it first.”

Does this sound familiar? It should to anyone who has had toddlers or worked with them even seen them fighting in a store. The whiny, cranky voices grate on the nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The sad fact is that we don’t necessarily grow out of it. Sometimes we merely hide it under polite phrases or even nonverbal cues.

There is something I want. I will find a way to get it.

Sometimes the claims are right and just. We have certain rights as human beings and it is not wrong to claim them. We have rights as Americans, as children of our parents, as parents of our children, even as homeowners and renters. We have rights.

But what if claiming those ‘rights’ infringes on the ‘rights’ of another? As a parent, I have the right, the responsibility, to discipline my children. As my children, they have the right to be sheltered and protected. Sometimes that line is blurred. Sometimes I don’t discipline enough and sometimes, I confess, I have gone too far. Sometimes I actually hit the mark. It is one of the hardest jobs for a parent.

My parents are already planning what to leave behind as an inheritance for my sisters and I. Until we get to heaven, death is a part of life, but I hope they don’t leave for a long, long time. With their planning, they are trying to shelter us from the upheaval that will come.

I have seen it in other families who have lost parents. Arguments over who gets what. Fighting over little details, a bit of furniture or jewelry escalates to horrendous proportions. The battles can last for years, sometimes for a lifetime. Huge chasms of pain and anger tear families apart. Sometimes forever.

I can see glimmers of it, the seeds of discord within my own family. A few years ago I would have said it was impossible. We love each other deeply and would never cause that kind of pain just for things. I fear I may have been wrong and it fills me with sorrow.

I have the memories of my parents, of our family through the years of both sorrow and joy. No one can take them from me. They are my inheritance. The things, the items linked to those memories are not important.They are a pale shadow of what is real. My parents are striving to disperse the things in a way that is fair and compassionate. Sometimes the division of things will not be perfect, there will be things that more than one person wants. That is bound to cause some hurt.

I grew up knowing, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was loved by my family. I was not always understood, my choices are not always the right ones. But I have always been loved. That is such a precious gift that few other families can claim. The more I see of this weary old world, the more I treasure what I have had without question, without doubt. I pray (it has become a fervent prayer) that my family will remember the priceless possession that we already have before they give in to the hurt of things.

We have each other, don’t let the things of earth make us forget that. I would rather go through life with nothing than lose what I have with my family. 081

Taking Time

066I have been blessed by a visit this week. My sister and two of her girls took time out of their lives to drive hundreds of miles in order to spend time with those of us still at the ol’ homestead (My parents, two other sisters with kids and me and my family). They usually come out once or twice a year, but the visits are often hurried and busy with other things. This time, they came out for a whole week. We didn’t have to share them with my sister’s in-laws. There was none of the hustle and bustle of the holidays. There were no big parties or celebrations. There was just them and us.

The first few days they were here, I saw them to say ‘hi’ and to give hugs, then I was back doing my own thing at home. We all got together for dinner on Sunday and stayed the afternoon in a family meeting . . . necessary, but not exactly fun and games. We played a few games, gave hugs and back home I went.

Late Sunday night I thought to myself, ‘how foolish’. Here was a much beloved sister come all this way for some good old fashioned family time. She brought two nieces that are usually busy with paper routes, gymnastics, dance, riding lessons and school to be able to come for extended visits. And how was I spending my days? Enjoying them, getting to know them on a deeper level?

Nope. I was hope fiddling on my computer, reading and watching TV. Nothing important. Nothing that wouldn’t still be there when they went home again.

Yesterday, I changed that. I stayed home long enough to do my most basic chores, then went to find them. We spent the day together. We went out to lunch, did a little local sightseeing, walked along the lake; nothing big or expensive. But oh so priceless. The girls and I had such fun, laughing and teasing each other. My sister and I talked; nothing earth-shattering, but a connection strengthened, a renewal of our friendship. We took time to get to know each other again.

We took time.

A little thing. Moments, a blink of an eye, then it is gone. But what a gift to have the time to give. What a blessing. And I almost missed it.

Oops. God just tapped my shoulder . . .

I haven’t been spending the time with Him that I promised I would.

“Yes, Lord. I know what you’re saying.”

If blessing come from spending time with a sister, how much more blessing will come when I spend time with my Creator, my God, my Savior.

Lord, I know that my life seems busy and sometimes it seems like spending time with you is just one more thing to add to the list. I know that it is important. I know that you want to spend time with me. I also know that when I spend time with you, everything else just fades away and your grace showers down. Please forgive my neglect. Help me to remember to take time to spend with you. Lets do lunch today, Ok?

 

091I will meet you there.

My Empty Nest (Temporarily)

I didn’t do a post yesterday because I was out of town. My husband and I drove my three kids to a summer camp, Circle ‘C’ Ranch, nearly two and a half hours away.Mainstreet_edited-1They are teenagers, (well the youngest is a year shy, but that’s beside the point) so they are more than old enough to be away from mom and dad for a few days. I know this camp well, I worked there for summers during college and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I know the owners and directors and trust them implicitly. They are solidly grounded on Christ and make sure their summer staff is the same.

But . . .

My babies have never been away from home for more than a sleepover unless we went as a family. They are picky, overly-emotional, cranky and at times they are very hard to live with. But they are mine. Will the counselors know how to talk them down when they get angry or sad? Will the middle one, the picky eater, find enough to fill his tummy? Will the youngest, my sweet daughter who changes moods at the drop of a hat, get homesick and cry for me or the stuffed animal she forgot?

When we arrived at the camp, in the rain, we went through registration with nerves prickling. Will there be any kids that will be my friend? Will my counselor be nice or mean? When’s lunch? We met the counselors and dispersed to the different cabins, the boys sharing different sections of the same cabin, my daughter across the street. Within minutes, my oldest found a like-minded friend and I all but ceased to exist. The second one followed us around for a while, then went back to his cabin to see if he could repeat his big brother’s accomplishment. My daughter stayed with me until the final minutes before going off to her counselor and the young cabin-mate who asked her to take the top bunk so they could stay close.

My husband left to get the car and I was left alone. The rain had stopped, but the roof was still dripping and main street glistened beneath thinning clouds. It looked so much the same as it had 20 years ago, yet it was different. This time I was the parent leaving my kids to find their own adventure. I found I wanted to stay, to experience it with them, yes, even to relive my youth and those four wonderful summers.

Now here I am, the house achingly silent around me. I thought I would enjoy the time to myself; No more arguments, no more complaints, no more ‘I’m bored’. But instead, I find myself straining my ears for the sound of laughter as they watch a video together. I listen for a newly changed voice to sing, slightly off key, with his ‘tunes’. I need to go to the store, but there is no one to go with me. There are no young arms wrapping around me, my daughter coming close for a cuddle. There is no younger son coming in from a bike ride to tell me, in detail, how he got the new scrapes on his legs because he was trying out a new trick. No oldest son interrupting my writing to show me his latest drawing.

My nest is empty. I finally understand why my mom held my sisters and I so tight when we came home from college or for a visit. I understand the tears when we say good bye again.

My nest is empty, and I can’t wait until it’s full again.040 (9)

Spring Break

065 (6)Ah, those word invoke visions of young bodies on warm beaches drinking in the sunshine. School is out for a week and frazzled college students pack their bags and head south for a glorious week of stress-free playtime before having to come back to face the last push at the end of the semester.

At least I assume that is what it is like.

I have never had a Spring Break like that.

Nope. My spring breaks have mostly consisted of yard work, spring cleaning and maybe, if I am lucky, a picnic lunch in a newly green park near home. I have never felt the loss. Being an introvert, the thought of crowded beaches, mobbed theme parks and packed bars made me shudder. Add to that the stereotype that all the young bodies belong to  ‘beautiful people’ intimidates me beyond belief. True or not, that stereotype has kept me safely home for decades.022

This year is no different. Instead of sprawling my out-of-shape-middle-aged body on sun-warmed sand, I am raking debris out of the yard and gardens. I am listening to the joyful laughter of my teenage kids as they play together, the battles and frustration of winter melting like snow under the warming sun. All around us the world is returning to life, bulbs are beginning to bloom, new green grass is emerging from the brown of last year’s growth and the air is filled with the songs of birds returning to their summer homes.

020I am not so good at the spring cleaning inside. It often takes me until fall to get that done. But the windows are open and warm fragrant breezes flutter my curtains. The floors are swept to clean up the mud tracked in by happy kids and dogs (not to mention the copious amounts of hair from two shedding labs!) But then the warm breezes and sunshine lure me outside once more.

So while warm sand and crashing surf are nice, I would not trade my Spring Break at home for any beach in the world.

 

 

Week of Anticipation

Actually, my son’s drama group calls it hell week: the final days before opening night. Oh, I know why they call it that. It is a whole week of rising before the sun to stumble onto the school bus, a week of classes, homework and tests. Then, with scarcely two hours break, they are back at the school to rehearse until midnight. They will all very likely be bleary eyed zombies by Friday, staff and students alike. But beneath the exhaustion, something else will grow. Quietly at first, but bigger each day.

Costumes will be worn on Monday. Suddenly, you are not the person you have always been. In the mirror, a stranger has taken your place. Yet, not truly a stranger. Over the weeks and months, you have come to know this person. It is a reflection of you, but a you that was unknown until now. You take a deep breath and stare into the eyes of the one you have become. Then you walk on stage into a strange new world.

Hair and makeup will be added on Tuesday. The pit orchestra begins to play. Suddenly it all seems real. Those little butterflies will begin to churn. The spotlights are hot and the smell of greasepaint perfumes the air. Stagehands, dressed head to toe in black, rush back and forth moving props and changing scenes. Voices lifted in song and dramatic speech soar out into the empty theater.

Then . . . opening night. No Broadway theater can compete with the thrills and tingles of that intense pause before the curtain rises. The lights go dark, there is a breathless hush. Then the orchestra begins to play. A precisely the right time, the curtain opens to reveal a scene; a scene that for the next few hours becomes more real than the world waiting outside. There is laughter, tears, then the applause, that glorious applause that makes all the long hours, the aching feet, the tears of frustration and forgotten lines, it is all worth it.

It may be just a local high school, the stage peopled by teens and tweens, but for 2 nights for 3 hours, it is magic.

Break a leg, Sam!