--- Isaiah 40:31
I love to acquaint my readers with novels written by Christian authors. Why? For no other reason than before I became a Christian writer, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Christian novels.
I fell in love with the very first novel I read that was written by a Christian author. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I read it a second time.
Just pages into its first chapter, I put the book on my lap and sat with my mouth hanging open—who knew there were beautifully written novels of the same high quality as well-known secular writers but without the sleaziness that made me cringe?!
If you’ve never read a novel written by a Christian writer, let me challenge you to try one. In fact, let me introduce you to the very gifted author Elaine Cooper whose book, Fields of the Fatherless, I’m featuring in the Book Giveaway Contest.
Welcome to Soar With Eagles, Elaine! Please tell us what genre you write, and why did you choose it?
I write historical fiction and historical romance. I grew up in Massachusetts and have long been a “History Geek!” I have many fond memories of visiting historic sites both as a child and adult. Writing historical fiction seemed a natural transition since I love to write and love the history of the beginnings of our country.
Please give us a brief description of your new novel.
Fields of the Fatherless is historical fiction set in 1775 and is based on actual events and persons from history. Betsy Russell is an 18-year-old woman facing the unthinkable: War coming to their peaceful village of Menotomy, Massachusetts. Struggling to deal with fear, hatred and bitterness, Betsy’s emotional and spiritual journey takes unexpected paths.
How do you select a setting for your novels? Do you ever travel to the place where your novel is set to do research?
I usually select a person or incident from history and that determines the setting. And yes, I travel back to Massachusetts for my research since there is nothing like walking on the paths that were trodden years before by my book’s characters. It definitely captures the feel for the times and is so inspiring!
Thank you, Elaine, for letting us learn some of the behind-the-scene information! Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of my interview with Elaine.
Elaine Cooper is generously putting up one autographed copy of her newest novel, Fields of the Fatherless, for a Book Giveaway Contest here at Soar With Eagles. To enter a chance to win this book, you must 1) be a Soar With Eagles subscriber, and 2) you must also leave a brief comment.
The Book Giveaway Contest starts now! And will end at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 25, 2013, with the winner announced on SWE that day.
Please note: due to the cost of international mailing, the author regretfully must limit the book giveaway to people living within the United States.
Be sure to visit Elaine’s website at: http://www.elainemariecooper.com
You can find Elaine on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ElaineMarieCooperAuthor
Elaine can be found on Twitter: @elainemcooper
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To God be the GloryRead More
Through the years, my husband and I have acquired possessions that have both a function and a history. For example, the tall case clock in our dining room not only informs us of the time in fifteen minute intervals, but it also reminds us of my father-in-law’s love of wood and how he painstakingly built the clock in his workshop. Even small household items have a large capacity to resurrect special memories. That’s true of one of my favorite kitchen tools—a microplane grater. Each time I hold it in my hand to grate whole nutmegs or hard cheeses, treasured memories return to me.
As a highly curious ten-year-old, I wondered what country my mother’s family originally came from. Neither my mother nor her mother knew the answer. However, it was a question I couldn’t forget, and I knew that someday, somehow I would find the answer.
Nearly twenty-five years later, my husband, children, and I moved to a new city, and I had a lot of free time on my hands—time to begin searching for the answer to my long-held question. Although it wasn’t easy acquiring information about people who were no longer living, genealogy became my passion, and my inquisitiveness expanded from learning not only where my family originated, but when and why they immigrated to America.
On the internet, I came across a post on a historical society website from a man named Henry who had genealogical information on Philip and Sarah Snyder, my great-great-grandparents—whose information I couldn’t find. The only way to contact Henry was by writing to his home address, so I quickly mailed a letter to him explaining how I was related to Philip and Sarah, and offered to share my research with him if he was willing to share his with me.
Henry answered my letter and asked me to phone him. I called and learned that not only were we distant cousins, but that Henry had known my maternal grandparents, Alice and Ed, whose farm was located close to his parents’ farm near Muncy, Pennsylvania. We’d only talked for several minutes when he paused and told me that my voice sounded like Alice’s.
“Yes. Your voice sounds just like hers.”
No one had ever told me that, and I realized that Henry had just given me a lovely gift. I had adored my grandmother, and now I learned that I’d inherited her endearing voice.
As we continued talking, Henry and I discovered that we each had genealogical information about numerous relatives that the other needed, and we agreed to share.
Henry confided a great concern of his. For over 40 years, he’d spent every vacation traveling to court houses, historical societies, churches, cemeteries, and libraries to locate important but hard-to-find genealogical information, and he had recorded all of it in meticulous, highly detailed, handwritten notes. But now Henry was in his eighties and in poor health, and his children had no interest in their father’s painstaking research—research that proved their family history back to the 1600s in Europe. Once he passed on, Henry believed his children would throw away all of his research papers because they saw no value in them.
Henry asked if I had any suggestions as to how his research could be preserved and enjoyed by others. Having recently compiled and printed several genealogical books, I offered to send a copy to Henry to see if a book format was what he envisioned for his research. Henry gladly accepted my offer, and after he’d read my book, he called and asked what I would charge him to compile his research into a book.
I told Henry that I usually charged $10.00 per hour. There was a pause as he thought over my price. “I’m not sure I can afford that.”
“I can work with you on the price.”
There was a long silence before he spoke again. “Well, all right. This is my life’s work, and I know if it’s not printed in a book, my kids will just throw out all of my research papers once I’m dead. The thought of that happening is more than I can bear.”
I told Henry that I’d keep track of the hours I spent typing his work into my computer program, and that we’d settle the bill when I finished the project. Henry was agreeable.
A week later, Henry mailed a box to me that contained a three-inch stack of his research papers. I assumed this was his entire collection. I shuffled through the papers like they were a long-awaited Christmas gift, squealing with delight as I perused the incredible information that Henry had uncovered. Even though he had never been educated above high school, Henry researched like an accomplished academician.
I began typing each word of Henry’s brilliant research into my computer’s genealogy program. After two days, the tips of my fingers were inflamed from long hours spent tapping the keyboard—and I’d only recorded twenty of the three hundred papers that he’d sent, each page with information printed on the front and back.
The following week, a second and larger box arrived from Henry. Believing the first box contained all of Henry’s research, I was shocked to discover a four-inch stack of additional information in this second box.
As I looked through this set of papers, I was overcome with emotion as I learned the answers to my questions. Henry had uncovered information about the lives of relatives who had lived before me—ancestors who, as young adults in their teens and early twenties, left their parents, siblings, homes, and all that was familiar to them in the Palatinate to escape the ravages of war.
They survived treacherous ocean crossings on small disease-ridden ships only to arrive in Philadelphia to discover that they were despised because they, being Germans, could not Englisch sprechen (speak English).
Being farmers, they discovered the only land available was on Pennsylvania’s dangerous frontier. There, they claimed and cleared forested land and built log homes. They married and had families—only to have their wives and children massacred by Indians or killed by wild animals. Some lost all of their children in less than a week to illnesses they could not treat.
But they persevered, thanks to their deep faith in God and the fact that they had no financial means to move elsewhere. These were my ancestors—people who, generation by generation, paved the way for my children and me to have a better life.
Thinking the two boxes contained the extent of Henry’s research, I almost cried when additional boxes, each containing hundreds of papers, arrived weekly for the next six weeks. Now I understood why Henry was so worried about what could happen to his life’s investigative research.
Because I wanted to be certain that I was accurately reading Henry’s handwriting, we spoke almost daily on the phone for many months. Each call gave me more glimpses into family members and ancestors.
Henry told me all about how he and his father used to visit my maternal grandparents’ farm. Henry had dearly loved both of my grandparents and shared many lovely stories about them.
I learned that my Grandpa Ed was a godly man who treated everyone respectfully and fairly. Ed was a man of his word, and always quick to help someone with a need.
And Grandma Alice made everyone who visited the farm feel welcome and special. “Come visit and stay long,” Henry said she would say.
Because I had grown up in another state and usually wasn’t able to spend more than one or two weeks a year with my grandparents, Henry opened windows and doors for me about Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ed from a perspective that was different from that of my mother’s relationship to her parents.
Each time we spoke, Henry asked if I was done putting the information into the computer. I couldn’t help but hear disappointment in his voice each time I told him the project required many more hours. However, as the weeks turned into months, I realized I was hearing something more than disappointment in Henry’s voice, but I wasn’t sure what it was.
One day, Henry shared with me how he and his father William owned the only threshing machine in the area during the 1930s. The local farmers paid Henry and his father to bring the machine to their farms to thresh their grain crops so they wouldn’t have to thresh by hand, a slow and labor-intensive process.
Henry told me about a summer during the Great Depression when Grandpa Ed didn’t have enough money to pay Henry and William for threshing, but Henry and his dad threshed for Grandpa Ed anyway, knowing that Ed and Alice risked losing the farm if they couldn’t thresh their crops.
As we got to know each other, Henry talked about himself and how, after serving in the Army in Europe during World War II, he’d worked as a laborer all his life, never earning much, but providing for his family the best he could. And always, always seeking answers to his burning questions of who had come before him and what kind of people were they.
Finally, after ten months, I completed recording Henry’s research and made arrangements to have several books printed.
Now it was time for Henry to pay me for my work and he asked what he owed me. Listening to his voice, I finally understood what I’d been hearing every time I’d told Henry I needed many more hours to complete his project: fear. Fear of not being able to pay me.
“Henry, you owe me nothing because you’ve already paid me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Well, it’s really simple. Your research answered my questions and gave me the heritage that I never knew.
“I never had a chance to know Grandma Alice and Grandpa Ed well because I lived in another state. There’s a lot I never knew about them. That is, until you told me the stories of the times you spent with them. Without you, I would never have known my voice sounds just like Grandma Alice’s did.”
“It truly does, Cynthia.”
“And had it not been for you and your dad threshing for free that one summer, my grandparents may have lost their farm, their livelihood.
“I have a saying that I tell my children: ‘Be kind to others and that kindness will be returned to you.’ Henry, your kindness to my grandparents sixty-seven years ago just came back to you. I’m so happy I could help you finish your 40-year-old project—your life’s work. And I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know you.”
Henry said nothing, and I knew why—I could hear him crying.
A week later, a check for $14.00 arrived in the mail from Henry. The handwritten note said it was all he could afford, but he just wanted to pay me something for my work. I knew I would insult Henry by returning the money, so, because I love to cook, I went to the cooking store and bought a tool that I really needed—a microplane grater. And every time I use it, I like to think it helps make the food I’m preparing extra special. But, more than its function, it has a history—and it always makes me think of Henry and what he did for me.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
I am in need of your help. As I write my first historical fiction novel, I have been informed that publishers want to see a large subscriber following on the author’s website in order for the publisher to even consider publishing a new novel for that author. If you enjoy my writing, please consider telling others about my articles on Soar With Eagles. Thank you so very much for your loyalty to my writing. Please know how much you and your encouraging comments mean to me. As always, I continue to work hard at improving my writing in order to touch your heart with uplifting articles.
Gratefully, Cynthia Howerter
To God be the Glory
Through the years, my grandparents and their children encountered many difficult and sometimes overwhelming situations, but God never failed to provide for their family’s basic needs. It’s an eternal promise that God makes to all believers.
Perhaps you’re in the midst of a tough time and unable to see anything good in your life. Maybe you’re wondering what you have to be thankful for. If you’re reading this, I can immediately think of one thing God is blessing you with this very moment: you are breathing. Sometimes our thankfulness has to begin with something as basic as recognizing that we are alive. And as long as we’re alive, there is always hope for better times.
Television, newspapers, and social media try hard to convince us that Thanksgiving is a time set aside for parades, football games, and shopping. May you and your family gather together on Thanksgiving Day, remembering the real reason for celebrating this special holiday: Give thanks to the Lord for all of the innumerable blessings He has bestowed upon each of us during this past year.
Come, join my family and me as we remember and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
With Thanksgiving just days away, I’d love to share several of my family’s favorite recipes with you:
After dining at one of Colonial Williamsburg’s taverns many years ago, my mother arrived home with a new turkey dressing recipe. It’s been a family favorite ever since.
Williamsburg Oyster Dressing
1 cup butter
1½ cups onion, chopped
1½ cups celery, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
16 cups stale white bread cubes, lightly toasted
1 quart oysters
Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Add onion, celery, and parsley; sauté over medium heat until vegetables are tender. Do not brown. Add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables, and mix well. Drain the oysters, reserving the liquid. Chop the oysters coarsely, and add to the bread cube mixture, tossing gently to mix well. Add a little of the reserved oyster liquid if the dressing seems dry. Taste for seasoning. Stuff and truss the turkey. Place any leftover dressing in a buttered casserole. Bake in the oven during the last 30 minutes of the turkey’s roasting time.
Yield: makes about 12 cups – enough for a 20-25 pound turkey.
Ever since our children were little, our family has enjoyed drinking a special beverage along with our holiday meals. At Christmas, it’s Wassail. For Thanksgiving, this colonial recipe is a proven winner!
King’s Arms Tavern Berry Shrub Beverage
3 cups cranberry juice
¾ cup apple juice
1 pint raspberry sherbet
8 sprigs fresh mint, for garnish
In a large pitcher, combine the cranberry and apple juices; chill thoroughly. Serve in tall glasses and top each drink with a scoop of sherbet. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint. Serves 8.
Nearly ninety years ago, my Grandma Alice began a family tradition when she prepared several Thanksgiving desserts for her large family on their Pennsylvania farm. Grandma Alice’s tradition continues three generations later! Along with pecan and pumpkin pies, we sometimes serve this swirled pumpkin bread.
Pumpkin Swirl Bread
¼ cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
4 large eggs
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes); set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, and eggs. Beat at low speed, scrapping bowl often, until mixture is smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Continue beating at medium speed, gradually adding all remaining bread ingredients and scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes). Place about 1 cup of the pumpkin batter into the bottom of each of the two greased and floured loaf pans. Carefully spread half of the filling mixture over the batter in each pan; top each pan with half of the remaining pumpkin batter. Pull knife or spatula through the batter and filling to create a swirl effect. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool bread for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool completely.
Then we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will thank You forever and ever, praising Your greatness from generation to generation. Psalm 79:13 (NLT)
To God be the Glory
I’m so grateful for your faithfulness to Soar With Eagles, especially this year when, due to many pressing obligations, I’ve not been able to post articles regularly. I want to say that you can expect two articles per week from now on, but I’m learning, once again, that life is unpredictable, and sometimes we need to recognize that there is only so much we can do.
Our great joy at the marriage of our daughter in October was interrupted several weeks later by the news of a relative’s less-than-glowing diagnosis. Although I’m not at liberty to divulge more, our lives have been jarred by the realities of life. Once again we recognize that God provides no crystal ball to reveal the future. Unforeseen adversity happens and lives are changed forever.
Although good things happen to each of us, it’s the bad things that unsettle us and force us, if we are smart, to examine our lives. Where is God? Am I being punished? Why did He allow this happen? What is His plan for me, for my family?
When my family and I underwent two years of unemployment, we tackled each of these tough questions. And we learned some very important life lessons. Lessons that abundantly prepared us for our future.
So, having spent time in the fiery furnace—and having successfully come through it—I want to share the truths of overcoming the worst things that can ever happen to each of us. When adversity strikes, when our lives are joyless, our first question should always be: Lord, what do you want me to learn through this situation? He’s waiting to give you the answers that will get you through all you ever face on this earth.
Although unseen, God is right here next to me, to you, through every millisecond of each day. He is with us on good days, bad days, and the ugly days that shatter our lives.
While it’s natural to wonder if our adversity is actually punishment, the truth is that God is not a God of punishment. No, He is a God who loves us so much that He will allow bad things to happen to us as a means of allowing us to draw closer to Him. A life lived in closeness to God is one that can weather all storms.
While God doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, He does allow them. Because the truth is that for many of us, the only time we seek God is when we are resoundingly knocked down and out. Think how you’d feel if the only time your child or spouse has time for you is when they need something from you. Without question, we want our beloveds to come to us all of the time. It’s no different with God.
His plan for our lives is simple: we are put on this earth not to be self-serving, but to serve God. And every one of us falls short in this. For people who have never gotten to know God, it’s a shock to learn that the real purpose of our life on earth is not to work hard and accumulate wealth, but to serve and glorify the One who created us.
I’ve learned that the worst times of my life were actually the best times of my life because that was when I sought God and found Him waiting for me.
You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
To God be the Glory
Last year on Election Day, the faces of soldiers, suffragettes, and Civil Rights activists stared accusingly at me from my Facebook page with the caption: ”Don’t forget to vote. They died so you could.”
These brave Americans were willing to be mocked, beaten, tortured, and killed to cast a ballot and determine the fate of this country. They poured out their blood and sweat, tears and agony so that today you and I can walk inside a voting booth and vote without fear or being coerced.
We are often frustrated by the poor quality of the candidates or by those running unopposed. But how would those courageous faces react to our mantra, “It doesn’t really matter—it’s the lesser of two evils?” What would they think about how few intelligent, thoughtful, ethical, and reasonable candidates appear on the ballot?
As citizens of the United States of America, God has gifted us with a unique privilege. Our history reveals a nation birthed through Divine providence according to most of the founding fathers. Although the freedoms we enjoy today were not universal until recent decades, all adult citizens now have the right to vote (unless a convicted felon). God has placed us in a time and place where we have an unparalleled opportunity to determine the direction and priorities of our government.
Working together, we can fix the government’s current tangled web of budget mismanagement and overspending. This debacle is not the fault of any one party, but of an ideology on both sides of the aisle that says, “What’s in it for me?”
John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
What can we do? It’s been said, “We can do anything once we’ve prayed; but until we’ve prayed, we can do nothing.” Nothing has the power to impact this country more than prayer. Second Chronicles 7:14 promises, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Notice the prerequisite to prayer: “Humble ourselves.”
We must first recognize that we are who we are, as a person, as a church, and as a nation, only by the grace of Almighty God. If our country’s current quandary doesn’t move us to humility, what will?
We also must “seek [His] face and turn from [our] wicked ways.” Seeking God’s face is different than seeking His hand. Instead of asking God to bless our “all-about-me” behavior, we seek His approval by turning from our narcissistic focus to His self-sacrificing ways.
That means putting the needs of others before our own. It means sacrificing everything—maybe even our lives—for something more important than our own comfort. Just like those who purchased our right to vote with their blood.
To God be the Glory
Felicia Bowen Bridges writes non-fiction short stories and novels depicting God’s grace, sovereignty and power. She is a contributing writer in God’s Provision in Tough Times. Follow her lessons learned from God’s Word at: Psalms204.blogspot.comRead More