Dark Glass Ponderings

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. -1 Corinthians 13:12

This summer has been a waiting and learning summer in so many ways for us.  Memorial Day weekend, we were sent to the emergency room to find my gallbladder was so filled with stones it looked like a golf ball.  Labor Day is thought of as the traditional last hurrah of the summer.  We've come full circle this weekend with my husband just finishing his first week at a job he neither applied nor looked for.  In between has been the waiting on many, many other things.  Waiting...is not a strong point for me.

"Those who wait on the Lord soar with wings like eagles; those who wait on us get chomped."  This is the strange, rhythmic cheer the 5 and 6 year olds chant before every soccer practice.  Their name is the Green Alligators.

"But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." -Romans 8:25

Is all our earthly waiting reminding us that we have a heavenly hope?  What are we waiting on?  I like Liz's cheer, it reminds me if we wait on the world we will be defeated. Its when I'm not filled to overflowing with his spirit, I'm more likely to "show my teeth."  Maybe not on the outside but on the inside.

I think of Jesus actions towards Judas.  The fact that he walked where Jesus walked (at least physically) for three years.  How Jesus washed his feet.  I think of how John and Peter reclined against their Lord's chest in loving affection.  I see Jesus showing the same affection to a man he knew would betray him.  Had Judas given Jesus a "kiss" a hundred times before that moment, Jesus looking on sadly grieved for Judas' soul yet never loving one bit less.  When Jesus looked on Judas, only love was there.  I don't understand it.

I truly believe we are living in the end times and one of the primary signs the Bible talks about is that our love has grown cold.

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. -Matthew 24:12

Lord, please empty us of all the garbage of the world so we have room to be filled fully with your Spirit. Let us pour out a love that might witness to the outside world in these last days.  Let us truly live the words we confess with our tongues.

The fireplace was easily one of the selling features of our home to me.  Adjacent to the fireplace is a nice cozy chair for reading my Bible, or sitting wtih my laptop and writing.  Or even better, snuggling up with the hubby or one of my children.

I know, just what you wanted to talk about in the middle of August...scorching heat, right?

But there's another kind of fire.  No its not much fun to talk about that kind either is it.

In the book of Daniel, it was a literal fire. 

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.-Daniel 3:27, KJV

No smell of the fire!  Will we beg for the heat to be turned down or will we allow God's refining process.  Today in my time with God, I read Daniel 11.  In verse 35 he says that the wise will be "refined," "purified" and "made white."

Isaiah 48:10 says "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace  of affliction."
I recently read a life-changing book about a Chinese brother in the Lord, The Heavenly Man.  Brother Yun isn't perfect but he is an example of weathering persecution for the Lord.  I know none of the "fires" in my life can compare to Brother Yun's repeated prison stints and torture.  In each prison he was in he witnessed by his life and words to prisoners and guards alike.  Many lives were changed.

Who might be watching you while the heat is on?  What will they say about the living God as they watch you?  Will we allow God to burn off the dross of the world sticking to our body?  Are we going to cry out for the Lord to turn it down, willing to miss the opportunity to be refined? 

The winner of the Amazon $15 gift card is:

Sable Lexi

I'll be sending that out to you via email.

And I'm over here today....talking about one of my favorite "coming of age" movies...and what it taught me about writing:

First Rate Characters of Secondhand Lions

Hi, did I get your attention?  I hope so.

I've been thinking about this blog a fair amount over the last few months.  I've decided to change the way I do blogging a bit.

Over at The Writers Alley I post every other Tuesday with what I'm learning about the writing craft.  And I'm still over at Title Trakk sharing my reviews on a semi-regular basis.  I love writing about craft and I love reviewing books.

I'm sure you'll find a bit about my writing journey here and the occasional book review.  However, instead of reviewing books for tours and such, I would like to share some of my favorites with you. 

But mainly when I started this blog I was looking for a place of reflection.  To share what I'm learning on my journey, not because my journey is special but exactly because its not.  In hopes that our footsteps can meet at the end of this life maze.  In hopes that God may use words to refresh our parched souls together.  Because I thirst.  I thirst for Him and I hope we can meet at the well to gulp living water together. 

So you may find more devotional type posts here in the coming months.  Possibly written in poetry because sometimes my soul doesn't know how to form together the word structure so the words flow line by line. 

I hope in the comments you will feel free to share prayer requests and praises so that this blog can become a safe community where we lift up each other.

Between now and August 8th to honor my most faithful reader, my mother, on her birthday I would like to give away a $15 Amazon gift card.

Be sure to leave your email address in this form:

whoever (at) wherever (dot) com

Thank you to all those who have made contact and wondered how I was doing and hoped I was going to continue blogging.  It means a lot to me and know that you are a blessing in my life.

Oh, and the first commenter gets an extra entry!

Prepare for an adrenaline rush!

Nonstop action, believable characters, and an intriguing plotline make False Witness a winner for fans of the Christian suspense genre. 

Singer's characters are quirky from Jamie, the law student seeking justice after her mother's murder whose best friend is an adorable dog to Clark Shealy, a bail bondsman fighting for his wife's life.  Clark increases his likeability throughout the book as he comes to know Christ.

My initial interest in this book was sparked by the topic of the Indian church and giving Dalit children an education.  I was pleased that Singer is addressing this subject, although at times I felt it was inserted in the plot and I would have liked to have seen this subject covered more deeply in the novel.  Maybe that's just because I have a personal interest in the topic.

This book has interesting twists throughout that are clearly designed to keep the reader turning pages and Singer succeeded in his goal. 

I am glad to have a backlist of Singer's books to keep me occupied until his next release.

**Special thanks to B and B Media Group for providing a copy of this book for review.**

I apologize for the plethora of reviews coming to you at once.  I would prefer to spread out the dates, however, I have an upcoming medical procedure this week and need to make sure all the links to my reviews are sent on in time.

The Fine Art of Insincerity is a deep, emotionally impacting read that spans a variety of themes.

Hunt's book is based around three sisters who couldn't be more different (or do they have more in common than they think?) who travel to beautiful St. Simon's island to "unload" their late grandmother's house and end up clearing out their own "baggage" in the process.

Grandmother George also had six other last names.  Yet each of these sisters also faces monumental challenges in relationships.

Ginger struggles with her husband's infidelity, Rosemary struggles with suicidal thoughts, and Pennyroyal contemplates leaving her third husband. 

It is a story of the facade of perfection and the pride of trying to hold it all together.  Ultimately its about the relationship between two sisters who can't bear to be in each other's presence and the God who can reconcile them to each other.  As the sisters embrace brokenness, God unveils His second chances. 

Its also a novel about the grieving process not only for grandmother but over lost marriages, second chances.  I highly recommend this book to all fans of women's fiction looking for a great summer read with emotional depth.  Hunt has once again proven herself queen of women's fiction.

**Thanks to Glass Roads PR for sending a copy of this book in exchange for a review.**

I had been praying for the right Bible for a new reader and just days later received this book in the mail as part of the Crossway Books review program for homeschoolers.  It is a great fit!  In fact I have waited to write about this Bible for so long because it was not sitting in my review stack.  My 6-year-old daughter brings it everywhere.

I received an ESV Study Bible for Christmas.  I find it a great study resource and I appreciate the philosophy behind the translation of this particular Bible.  I still love my King James Bible though.

Colorful pictures add interest, especially in the age bracket where there are many beginning readers.  I agree with some bloggers that the intended age level of 5-8 may be low but this is a wonderful read-aloud Bible with great study features.  At this age, it is great to read to your child and be present for any questions.

This is the closest I've seen to an in-depth study Bible for kids.  I like the fact that this Bible asks key questions helping the child to gain a clearer understanding, another feature that is great for family Bible times. 

There are tons of maps and a Bible dictionary included. Every book has a full page introduction.  I also love the fact that this Bible includes memory verses for kids to focus on throughout the text. 

In short this is a wonderful Bible to add to your collection, in my opinion, if you have children in the 5-10 age range.

**Special thanks to Crossway homeschool review program for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a review.**

Moseley's "faded photograph" cover caught my attention and her topic choice reeled me in.  Cults have always been a topic of interest for me.  I've often wondered what originally attracts cult members.  Even more than that though I love the tale of a cult member who is set free through knowing the living Christ.  I've enjoyed Irene Spencer and Susan Ray Schmidt's autobiographies among others.

Moseley does an excellent job at showcasing the emotions one might go through while leaving a cult.  The plot line kept my interest.  The characters of Jack and Miranda are realistically portrayed. 

I personally didn't feel that I was dragged into the world of the book.  I had trouble reconciling with Miranda beginning a romance at a time when she still has so many issues to work through with the cult.  There were several times throughout the novel where I struggled with believability.

Moseley deserves kudos for creating characters that are likeable.  I appreciate that she tackled subjects such as homeschooling and legalism that are not often addressed in CBA fiction.  Overall, I guess I would label this read as "not for me" although it may just be for you.

**I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own.**

I have been quite neglectful of this blog.  Mainly due to getting caught up in the midst of my first year of homeschooling.  I hope to set up a more regular blogging routine, but have discovered that blogging was edging out writing my own novel.  Meanwhile, I've still been blogging at the Writer's Alley and posting the occasional review at Title Trakk

I've been waiting to share this wonderful book with you.  It is undoubtably one of my favorite reads of 2011.  I read and loved this book way back in January.  Here's my thoughts (as posted on Title Trakk).

Well-crafted historical detail, page-turning suspense and vividly portrayed characters make Wolves Among Us by Ginger Garrett a must-read.

I recently read an article in which an author claimed that "it kept me up all night" is the best compliment a reader can pay her novels.  Garrett's novel remained bookmark free as I devoured page after page in a single sitting.  And as a busy homeschool mom, there are not many books that can keep me up past bedtime.

Its 1538 in the Black Forest of Germany.  I love reading books with unusual settings and time periods, so my interest was immediately captured.  Every detail of the wolf-surrounded village was brought to life.

A double murder strikes up fears in this small medieval village.  The sherriff is perplexed and engages the help of Father Stephan, the local priest.  Father Stephan calls in an Inquisitor in order to find the dark roots of evil that stalk the town.

In a wave of fervor and panic, the murders are proclaimed to be the work of witches.  Physical and spiritual wolves are on the prowl, as a frenzied hunt begins to find the culprit. The charismatic Inquisitor claims to be able to rid the town of evil but as his investigation continues further devastation is unleashed on the town.

Mia is the unloved wife of Sheriff Bjorn.  She tries to be a good and faithful wife, remembering the words of a manuscript for women she helped her father print many years ago.  She still remembers, too, the words of the man whose books her father printed.  These words from Mr. Tyndale are kernels of truth that stay with her during her most painful times.  It is these words that remind her to listen to another Voice, a Voice that distills the fear that runs rampant through the village. 

Wolves Among Us is a novel of spiritual warfare and of the power of a mustard-seed faith.  It is a tale of the horrendous evils inflicted on man and the power of the love of Christ to overcome them.  Father Stephan's life shows the "deadness" of religion and later the overcoming life of trusting the power of Christ for salvation.  Wolves Among Us shows the extraordinary courage of our forefathers in the faith. 

Garrett has penned a book that is not an easy read.  History is filled with tales of blood shed for freedom.  For it was blood shed 2000 years ago on a Cross that first gave us life.  Painfully realistic, there were times I was deeply disturbed by this read. Garrett goes beyond moving the reader on an emotional level and provides spiritual sustenance.

Wolves Among Us has quickly jumped to my favorites list and I eagerly await Garrett's next installment.

When I read about this book on My Friend Amy's blog, her review and the subject matter caught my attention. 

The subtitle of Andrew Hime's book is The roots of fundamentalism in an American family. 

What drew me to this book?  I am a Bible-believing Christian, who takes the Bible very seriously and yes, literally.  Now obviously, I know that there are parts of Revelation and so on that are symbolic and parts of the law that were cultural, like men growing their beards.  But this is where I come from.

As for fundamentalism, well, to be honest I'm not very comfortable with the term.  I suppose its because I believe most of America uses the word "fundamentalist" as almost a dirty word.  Our family attends a Bible-believing church, we homeschool our children, and don't have cable TV...so I suppose we fit into some of the supposed "stereotypes" to this movement.

The part of the book I found most compelling was Himes' personal memories particularly relating to race and religion.  His personal journey during the integration of the school system and how this shaped his young adult years lead to a decision to join the radical left and then later to try to reconcile justice and Christianity.

I wish he would have focused more closely on his own journey as it related to his family.  I would have loved to have seen more memories shared of his parents and grandparents and what it was like to grow up as part of the Himes/Rice clan.  Small memories were interspersed throughout but I suppose I had expected more about his personal pilgrimage.

Himes provides the reader with a fascinating slice of American history as it was lived by one family in the South and it was a treat to hear about Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and other well-known voices in evangelicalism.  Although Himes and I probably don't see eye to eye on matters of theology (although I'm not entirely sure, as it is hard to ascertain his current beliefs, and perhaps that is what he intended) I enjoyed looking at a slice of history through his lens.

**Thank you to Andrew Himes and Chiara Press for providing a review copy. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.**

Be sure to stop by Renee Ann's blog for GIVEAWAY of END OF THE SPEAR DVD.  This movie is outstanding...see my review here

Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and Ed McCully initiated Operation Auca in autumn 1955.  Five men sharing one common goal: to share the Gospel with the Waodani Indians in Ecuador.

In Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot, one of the widows, chronicles the saga of the five men by collecting their documents and journals.

The result is an impacting firsthand account of a saga that changed missions forever.

I loved this read from start to finish.  It is definitely a five-star read and one I will pick up again and again.  I not only enjoyed this book, but enjoyed two recent films and have enjoyed listening to sermons by Steve Saint and Mincaye (more on that later).

One of my favorite quotes is when Nate Saint says, "The old life of chasing things that are of a temporal sort seemed absolutely insane." (56)

I was inspired by how these men gave everything they had for the cause of Christ. Not only did they give it all up to the point of sacrificing their human lives forthe cause, but the sacrifices of their wives and children leaves me breathless.

The photos included in this book were black and white but captured raw emotion and realness...the amazement at going to the Island for the first time...the surprise of the Waodani women at having their pictures taken...the shock of the widows who were just told for the first time their husbands had been killed. 

The simple form of this story is drama-free...it doesn't glamourize as we are so accustomed to seeing in news stories and TV today.  It is told in the simple words of five men who love the Lord and are excited to be used by Him.

I am anxious to read more about Elisabeth Elliot's journey with the Waodani as she continues to minister after her young husband was speared to death.  The Savage My Kinsmen is her continuing saga among the Waodani.

Shadow of the Almighty is the saga of Jim Elliot which I am giving away to one lucky commentor.

Some discussion questions to spark thought....

Feel free to participate even if you haven't read the book.

1) What was your general opinion of the book, if you read it?  Do you like reading journals?

2) Of the five men, was there one whose story particularly resonated with you?  What special characteristics did each man bring to the team?

3) Knowing God's will was of primary concern to each of the missionaries.  In what ways did the missionaries discover God's will?  When you are unsure of a decision how do you find God shows his will to you?  Is it easy or hard for you to trust in His will?

4) Another theme in this book is rejoicing through suffering.  The widows are quick to embrace God's will. Barbara Youderian says, "The Lord has closed our hearts to grief and hysteria and filled it with his perfect peace."  (236)  What did you think of the widows?  Is there a time in your life where you have embraced suffering and found God's joy or have you seen this in the life of someone you know?

5) "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" is a famous quote by Jim Elliot.  What does this statement mean to you?

6) Has this book affected your thinking on missions, suffering, or following God's call and seeking his direction?

The most exciting thing about this story is that God has continued to work behind the scenes through it all. 

As shared in the movie The Grandfathers, Steve Saint and Mincaye (one of the men who killed his father) now travel the country sharing about God's love and forgiveness. 

Here is the start of a six part video of a Chapel service given at Liberty University.  It is well-worth watching in its entirety.  I think for our "Americanized" culture sometimes its neat to hear the Gospel shared in a fresh way which Mincaye certainly does here.


I would like to bless a commenter with The Grandfathers DVD and another commenter with Jim Elliot's hardcover biography, Shadow of the Almighty. 

Simply share your thoughts on one of the given questions and include your email in the question.

For extra points:
1) Become a follower (+1)
2) If you read the book (+2 entries)
3) Tweet about this giveaway (+1)

On May 6th I will draw names.

Oh and be sure to share in the comments if you have any ideas for our June read!

Recently I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view two movies about the missionaries to the Waodanis featured in Through Gates of Splendor.

End of the Spear was provided by Renee Ann in a giveaway and is based on a book of the same name by Steve Saint.

Steve Saint is the son of Nate Saint, the missionary pilot of the group in Through Gates of Splendor.

This tale is powerfully told through the perspective of Steve as he deals with his father's death.  This movie doesn't make light of the sacrifices of the five missionaries.

I was particularly captivated by the young boy who doesn't understand the situation.  The narrator says in the beginning, "When I was a boy I cried, but now I see it well."

The other focal character in the movie is Mincaye, a young Waodani man who has only known violence and anger.

Although there were several men involved in the death of the missionaries Mincaye struck the spear in Nate Saint's side. 

The Grandfathers introduces a new side to Nate's killer.  Jesse Saint is Steve Saint's son.

When Steve visited the Waodani's after his Aunt Rachel's death, they asked him to stay on in Ecuador. Rachel Saint spent years studying the language of the Waodani's and ministering to them both before and after the death of the missionaries.  She was beloved by the tribe and many in the tribe came to know Christ as a result of her ministry (along with Elisabeth Elliot, author of Through Gates of Splendor). 

While Jesse lost his grandfather before his birth, Mincaye has become a grandfather figure in his life. 

In fact, Mincaye and Steve Saint travel together often preachingi the Gospel.  What a legacy!

Both of these movies touched me deeply.  Not easy viewing they demonstrate the true power of forgiveness and bring joy to the reader as you watch the reverberations of the events over 50 years later.  Only God can bring such beauty and grace from tragedy.

Click on the following video to watch Mincaye and Steve share the power of the Gospel. 

Have you ever watched a movie that had a strong spiritual or emotional impact on you?

Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for discussion on Through Gates of Splendor and a giveaway of The Grandfathers DVD along with Shadow of the Almighty (Jim Elliot's testimony) by Elisabeth Elliot.

**Thank you to The B and B Media Group for providing a copy of The Grandfathers for review.**

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of Random House Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 28 books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Here Burns My Candle, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist, and Here Burns My Candle, a RT Book Reviews Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist.

Visit the author's website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


The emotional and spiritual journey that began with Here Burns My Candle (WaterBrook Press, 2010) soars to a triumphant finish in Mine Is the Night (WaterBrook Press, March 15, 2011) a dramatic and decidedly Scottish retelling of the biblical love story of Boaz and Ruth. A compelling tale of redemption and restoration, the latest novel from best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs transports both story and reader to 18th century Scotland, where two widows are forced to begin anew.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400070023
ISBN-13: 978-1400070022


Foul whisperings are abroad.



26 April 1746

The distant hoofbeats were growing louder.

Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out the carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap.

Her mother-in-law seemed unconcerned, her attention drawn to the puddle forming at their feet. A frown creased her brow. “Do you mean for us to arrive in Selkirk even more disheveled than we already are?” Three long days of being jostled about in a cramped and dirty coach had left Marjory Kerr in a mood as foul as the weather.

“’Tis not the rain that concerns me.” Elisabeth resumed her seat, feeling a bit unsteady. “No ordinary traveling party would ride with such haste.”

Marjory’s breath caught. “Surely you do not think—”

“I do.”

Had they not heard the rumors at every inn and coaching halt? King George’s men were scouring the countryside for anyone who’d aided bonny Prince Charlie in his disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne for the long-deposed Stuarts. Each whispered account was worse than the last. Wounded rebel soldiers clubbed to death. Houses burned with entire families inside. Wives and daughters ravished by British dragoons.

Help us, Lord. Please. Elisabeth slipped her arm round her mother-in-law’s shoulders as she heard the riders crest the hill and bear down on them.

“We were almost home,” Marjory fretted.

“The Lord will rescue us,” Elisabeth said firmly, and then they were overtaken. A male voice cut through the rain-soaked air, and the carriage jarred to a halt.

Mr. Dewar, their round-bellied coachman, dropped from his perch and landed by the window with a grunt. He rocked back on his heels until he found his balance, then yanked open the carriage door without ceremony. “Beg yer pardon, leddies. The captain here would have a wird with ye.”

Marjory’s temper flared. “He cannot expect us to stand in the rain.”

“On the contrary, madam.” A British dragoon dismounted and rolled into view like a loaded cannon. His shoulders were broad, his legs short, his neck invisible. “I insist upon it. At once, if you please.”

With a silent prayer for strength, Elisabeth gathered her hoops and maneuvered through the narrow carriage doorway. She was grateful for Mr. Dewar’s hand as she stepped down, trying not to drag her skirts through the mud. Despite the evening gloom, her eyes traced the outline of a hillside town not far south. Almost home.

The captain, whom Elisabeth guessed to be about five-and-forty years, watched in stony silence as Marjory disembarked. His scarlet coat was drenched, his cuffed, black boots were covered with filth, and the soggy brim of his cocked hat bore a noticeable wave.

He was also shorter than Elisabeth had first imagined. When she lifted her head, making the most of her long neck, she was fully two inches taller than he. Some days she bemoaned her height but not this day.

By the time Marjory joined her on the roadside, a half-dozen uniformed men had crowded round. Broadswords hung at their sides, yet their scowls were far more menacing.

“Come now,” Mr. Dewar said gruffly. “Ye’ve nae need to frighten my passengers. State yer business, and be done with it. We’ve little daylight left and less than a mile to travel.”

“Selkirk is your destination?” The captain seemed disappointed. “Not many Highland rebels to be found there.”

“’Tis a royal burgh,” Marjory told him, her irritation showing. “Our townsfolk have been loyal to the crown for centuries.”

Elisabeth shot her a guarded look. Have a care, dear Marjory.

The captain ignored her mother-in-law’s comments, all the while studying their plain black gowns, a curious light in his eyes. “In mourning, are we? For husbands, I’ll wager.” He took a brazen step toward Elisabeth, standing entirely too close. “Tell me, lass. Did your men give their lives in service to King George? At Falkirk perhaps? Or Culloden?”

She could not risk a lie. Yet she could not speak the truth.

Please, Lord, give me the right words.

Elisabeth took a long, slow breath, then spoke from her heart. “Our brave men died at Falkirk honoring the King who has no equal.”

He cocked one eyebrow. “Did they now?”

“Aye.” She met the captain’s gaze without flinching, well aware of which sovereign she had in mind. I am God, and there is none like me. She’d not lied. Nor had the dragoon grasped the truth behind her words: by divine right the crown belonged to Prince Charlie.

“No one compares to His Royal Highness, King George,” he said expansively. “Though I am sorry for your loss. No doubt your men died heroes.”

Elisabeth merely nodded, praying he’d not ask their names. A list of royalist soldiers killed at Falkirk had circulated round Edinburgh for weeks. The captain might recall that Lord Donald and Andrew Kerr were not named among the British casualties. Instead, her handsome husband and his younger brother were counted among the fallen rebels on that stormy January evening.

My sweet Donald. However grievous his sins, however much he’d wounded her, she’d loved him once and mourned him still.

Her courage bolstered by the thought of Donald in his dark blue uniform, Elisabeth squared her shoulders and ignored the rain sluicing down her neck. “My mother-in-law and I are eager to resume our journey. If we are done here—”

“We are not.” Still lingering too near, the captain inclined his head, measuring her. “A shame your husband left such a bonny widow. Though if you fancy another soldier in your bed, one of my men will gladly oblige—”

“Sir!” Marjory protested. “How dare you address a lady in so coarse a manner.”

His dragoons quickly closed ranks. “A lady?” one of them grumbled. “She sounds more like a Highlander to my ear.”

The captain’s expression darkened. “Aye, so she does.” Without warning he grasped the belled cuff of Elisabeth’s sleeve and turned back the fabric. “Where is it, lass? Where is your silk Jacobite rose?”

“You’ve no need to look.” Elisabeth tried to wrest free of him. “I haven’t one.”

Ignoring her objections, he roughly examined the other cuff, nearly tearing apart the seam. “The white rose of Scotland was Prince Charlie’s favorite, was it not? I’ve plucked them off many a Highland rebel.”

“I imagine you have.” Elisabeth freed her sleeve from his grasp. “Are you quite satisfied?”

“Far from it, lass.” The captain eyed the neckline of her gown, his mouth twisting into an ugly sneer. “It seems your flower is well hidden. Nevertheless, I mean to have it.”

Julia's Thoughts:

The breathtaking setting of the eighteenth-century Highlands, compelling characters, and a fresh twist on a biblical tale make Mine is the Night a sparkling read from start to finish.

I was immediately captivated by the chase scene as Elisabeth and Marjory fear imprisonment or worse as traitors to the crown.  Higgs not only knows how to keep the reader's attention, her skill at descriptive writing adds a beautiful lyrical quality to the novel. 

Redemption, restoration, and forgiveness are at the heart of this novel as they are at the heart of the book of Ruth.  This is a skillful retelling which stands on its own merit.  Although the themes of the book of Ruth are followed quite closely the novel was not predictable.

I have not read Here Burns My Candle, although a sequel this book stood well on its own.  I will be anxious to read more of Mrs. Higg's riveting novels.

Road to Damascus
I'm thrilled to be able to offer a guest post by Amanda Stanley today.  I think you'll be blessed.  The Lord has orchestrated a few online spiritual discussions between myself and Amanda that have really blessed me.  And she introduced my husband and I to the Ludys and Eric's wonderfully convicting Ellerslie sermons.  (And I can't pick a favorite so I recommend just starting at the bottom with The 9 Lies and working up to his current sermons, you'll be blessed by all I predict).

As we prepare to discuss Through Gates of Splendor (April 30th),  and prepare our hearts for Easter, I hope you will be blessed.

I would love to hear more about your heroes of the faith in the comments.  Here's the poetic voice of Ms. Stanley:

From the chief of all sinners to a chosen vessel, the life, testimony and transformation of Paul (formerly known as Saul) is astounding and showcases the power of a God who is mighty and strong to save. His living, breathing surrender to Christ not only gave us a hope of what is possible in our walk with the Lord but also gave us 14 beautiful books of the Bible. Including one of my favorites – Romans!

We are introduced to Paul (Saul at this time) in the book of Acts where he is agreeing to Stephen’s death by stoning, while the witnesses were laying their clothes as his feet. Wreaking havoc on the church, hauling Christian men and women off to prison, threatening and slaughtering them, Saul was determined to stamp out any hint of Christianity in Jerusalem and abroad. So determined was he that he set out to Damascus to obtain letters from the high priest that he may bring any Christians he came across back to Jerusalem, bound and with the intent to kill them. But on his way to Damascus, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3-4). Trembling and astounded, he immediately asks the Lord what He would have him do - total surrender as instant as the total forgiveness offered, this marks the beginning of an incredible relationship between Saviour and saved. For “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20).

What touches me the most about Paul’s life is how the Lord could take someone like him and completely and beautifully transform him. It shows that no matter what you’ve done or where you are, the blood of Jesus Christ flows there and will cover all your sins. As the scales fell from Paul’s eyes, this new man was given new sight and a new name. His is one of the most powerful conversions ever recorded. The Lord said that He would show Paul the great things he must suffer for His name’s sake, and yes, they were great! In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 we are given a rough list: “…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils of the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” YET, Paul joyfully accepted them all, declaring in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” But how could he say this? It was because he stood on the promise of the Lord when He said to him: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9). One scholar summed up the life of Paul this way: “Jesus commanded, Paul obeyed.”

What a testimony this man left behind! What a walk for us to follow! What an example for us to mirror! He faced most everything we have or could and then some, and still no complaint fell from his lips. I stand convicted by this hero of the faith. I want a heart like his that breaks for the sinner and seeks after God; I want a faith like his that will trust the Lord at all times and in all things; I want a boldness like his to preach the gospel, forsaking earthly comforts for the glorification of the God of all comfort; and I want a love like his that will gladly spend and be spent for others. I want a testimony worthy of being listed alongside such a hero. May we all desire such things, that one day, by the grace of God, they may be said of us also.



Talking about Writing in the Broken Places and ministering to others with the writing craft. 

Regina Andrews is here to join us and tell us about her latest ebook release, Light of the Heart.  Be sure to check out her site and blog for more information on Regina and her books.

A very busy lady, she also has another book releasing in less than a month!

Regina, thank you so much for joining us again. It sounds like you have had a lot going on in the past few months, including an award and a new release. Congratulations on both accomplishments!

Hello again Julia and thank you so much for hosting me today on your lovely blog. Thank you for your warm good wishes and your nice congratulations.

I notice on your blog that you were inspired to write Destiny's Designs when you were working for an interior designer. I would love to hear where inspiration came to you for your other novels?

What an interesting question, thank you for asking. Well, "Spotlight on Love" was actually inspired by my parents. My father was actually a Captain in the Army and served in WWII in Africa, and my mother was a nurse. They had quite a romance!

"The Perfect Proposal" was written while I was home taking care of my mother. Much of that book is based on personal experience (but not all of it).

"In Good Faith" features a girl who is in the Greeting Card Industry, a field in which I worked for over 10 years. Yes, I wrote and edited greeting cards for the 3rd largest company in the US - Paramount Cards. We were second to Hallmark and American Greetings. The company, however, unfortunately, went out of business in 2006, just shy of its 100th birthday. The rest of "In Good Faith" came out of a night class I took on writing! The hero, Aaron Carrier owns and air conditioning company. Carrier is a brand of air conditioner and it's a little inside joke that his initials are AC - air conditioning.

Do you have any wisdom to share for beginning writers? Maybe some gems you've learned along the way?

I would have to say be patient, be true to yourself and don't ever, ever give up. Also be the writer you are, not the writer "they" - meaning anyone - wants you to be. Read a lot and keep learning, good writing is very technical. Naturally, practice, practice, practice :-) Most of all, have fun.

Can you describe your writing space for us? What type of atmosphere do you like to write in?

What a nice question! More than anything I love to be near light, so I am near windows all the time. I've changed to a laptop now so I move around - but my favorite space is the bay window in our living room. So cozy! At night when I am burning the midnight oil, I re-locate to the kitchen table. There's a great view of the clock from there - and two windows where I can see the world of the night going by. I love classical music, and world music, so that is always playing, too.

Which of your heroines do you most relate to and why?

Hmmmm...Spiritually, I think it would have to be Lindsay Richardson in "The Perfect Proposal." The other heroines have all suffered much greater losses than I have, and have experienced deeper spiritual questionings. Lindsay was torn between her love and devotion to her family and the life God was calling her to with Dean Singleton Copley. She grew to understand that, with God's love and with faith, they were not mutually exclusive.

Has romance in your own life influenced the romance of your heroes and heroines?

Oh my goodness, every single hero is based on my husband, re-invented. lol. Guess it's a good thing he has so many dimensions to his personality!

We would love to hear more about Light of the Heart. I see it is the start of a new series. Can you tell us a bit about your main character in this series? Will the main character stay the same throughout the series?

It's so exciting to do a series, Julia, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it is.

Cascade Preston is the main character in the series, and the heroine of "Light of the Heart". The premise of the Sterling Lakes Series is how the renovation of the church in town leads to a rebirth of the entire town itself on many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually, to name a few. “Light of the Heart,” book one on the series, deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was also aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.

She does not know this yet (in Book One), but her aunt will reveal to her that her mother used to be crying what she called a 'cascade' of tears before she was born due to her unhappiness. Only her faith saw her through those rough times. When she was born, her mother's tears turned from sorrow to joy, and the hope inherent in her daughter's birth inspired her to name her 'Cascade' as a reminder of the two-sided nature of all our experiences, and the redemptive power of God's grace. Her whole name is Cascade Grace Preston. She will appear in each book, but not as the heroine; each book will have a new heroine.

What do you hope the reader will take away spiritually from Light of the Heart?

This book deals with forgiveness, and I hope readers will see something in this book they can relate to in their own lives. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for the way things were, because they were out of our control. Developing an understanding of the levels of forgiveness, and the depth of faith involved in the process of forgiving is key to growing as a person, spiritually and on every other level as well.

I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts and the light of God in their lives.

What projects do you have coming up next?

The second book in the series, "Angels of the Heart" is due April 1st. This also is edgy inspirational romance - dealing with teenage pregnancy. Then I will rest my eyes for a few days! After that I will start Book Three, which is due September 1st.

Would you like to share an excerpt of Light of the Heart for our readers?

For your enjoyment, here's an excerpt from Light of the Heart. This is my favorite scene, when they still do not know each other very well and the go into the church together for the first time.

Cascade watched the sun, dappled from the leafy trees nearby, play across the firm planes of his face. "Being back here, I don't feel like anything has changed."

"Does that surprise you?" he asked.

"The way things are going lately, everything is coming as a surprise. I'm just trying to process it all."

"Want to go into the church?"

"Sounds like a great idea." She looked over at him but could not read his expression.

They walked past the dirt piles toward the front of the church. A songbird trilled in one of the rhododendron shrubs as they moved by. Sunbeams glinted off the colorful stained glass windows. At the top of the wooden staircase, Cascade held the brass handle to open the ornately carved door.

"Go on." Dan reached beyond her and held the door open for her.

She entered the vestibule, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Images of the past flooded her mind. Some of them good, some of them not so good. She turned to Dan. "Come with me."

"You got it."

They walked together down the main aisle. Cascade inhaled the familiar scents of wood, candle, and incense. She stopped midway and turned to face the back of the church.

"These windows are beautiful," she whispered, looking up at the large round West window. "This is where I was inspired to do what I do and to be who I am today."

"Impressive." Dan touched her arm. "Let's sit down here."

They slid into a pew and sat back against the smooth, varnished wood. Cascade slowly scanned the interior of the church, looking at each window. It was as if she were seeing it for the very first time.

She turned to say something to Dan. His eyes were closed, and he sat motionless. It looked as if he were in prayer. Could he be?

Cascade took the opportunity to admire him. His profile was softened just a bit in the filtered light. Dark hair and a firm, masculine nose were all balanced by the strong jaw line which composed the proportions of his face. His lips, curved into just a hint of a smile, were slightly parted. The shadow of his long dark eyelashes danced upon his cheek. To Cascade, he looked completely and utterly at peace.

She reached over and gave his hand a friendly pat. To her surprise, he took her hand, holding it gently in his. Warm and weathered, it fit hers just right. For a moment, she let herself feel protected. She didn't know what had happened since he walked into her life. Everything had turned topsy-turvy, but she knew one thing: Dan McQuay was some kind of wonderful.

Then she remembered his words the first time he visited her showroom: "I come into town, do the job, and leave. No ties, no friendships, no tea parties and barbecues with the neighbors. In and out."

What was she thinking? She snatched her hand away.

"What's wrong?" Dan looked at her.

"Nothing. Nothing."

"Sure there is. Your lips are all tight."

"No, I'm fine. I was honestly just thinking about you."

He smiled.

"What were you thinking?" He smiled.

She took a deep breath, and listening to all the choirs of angels rejoicing at the sight of his smile and wondered, Why me? This guy is way too dangerous. He's attractive, kind, smart…and ready to leave as soon as the job here in town is finished.

Just then, the church doors opened. A black-cassocked figure hastened towards them.

"Excuse me, excuse me. This area is restricted. Masses and confessions will be held in St. Luke's school auditorium or the rectory."

"We were just leaving, Father Greene. I'm on the construction crew, and we came in to say some prayers."

"Oh, it's you, Dan." The furrows in the priest's brow vanished. A saintly smile replaced his scowl. "By all means, children. Stay a long as you wish. We have to be extra vigilant because of the vandals."

"You've had vandalism problems, Father?" Cascade asked. "That's horrible."

The priest blessed himself. "Just dreadful, my dear. What they did to the statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary last month was unthinkable."

Cascade cupped her hands over her mouth.

"Any luck finding the culprits?" Dan asked.

"No. We have no luck here at St. Luke's."

"Well, Father I don't know about that. Maybe this is the day that all that is going to change." Dan's voice sounded strong and reassuring. He shook the priest's hand.

"There's always hope. I'm Father Greene, dear."

"Cascade Preston." She smiled and shook his hand.

Wagging his index finger, Father Greene said: "I've heard of you, but I can't remember why."

"Cascade's designing the stained-glass windows for the project, Father. She's originally from Sterling lakes."

Turning to Dan, Cascade saw him give an eager smile. What was he thinking?

"How wonderful," Father Greene blessed himself. "So good of you, Cascade, to give back so generously to the town that you called home."

"It's my pleasure, Father." Cascade answered. Did I just agree to do the windows?

"Oh bless you, my dear. Bless you." Father Greene checked his pocket watch. "It's been so nice to chat with you wonderful folks. I have confessors waiting now." Turning on his heel, he bustled off through the shadows to the door.

"What were you thinking, Dan? I haven't agreed to do the windows. Now that nice priest is going to be all disappointed and flustered when he finds out," Cascade whispered.

"He might not be," Dan answered.

"I'm infuriated. You weren't asleep at all. Were you really saying prayers?" Cascade asked as they walked down the aisle.

Dan nodded. "Were you?"

"Oh yes," she answered. "Without a doubt. Lots of special prayers. Now there's one more special intention on this list -- me getting out of helping Father Greene." She turned to face him. "You look like you're going to laugh!"

"Well, it's just that..." Dan's eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at her. It turned Cascade's knees to jelly.

"Let's change the subject." She cleared her throat and gripped the edge of the pew to steady herself. "Before we go, I wanted to tell you that my parents were the first couple married in this church."

Dan's eyebrows shot upwards. "Quite a distinction."

"They started out with lots of hopes and dreams for a bright future, I'm sure. Life takes some funny turns." She sighed. "Look, I've been thinking, Dan, of how stubborn I've been about not working in Sterling Lakes. I've been holding on to that way of thinking for years now. It really hasn't made me any happier in the long run, to think like that. Just kept me tied to this town in a negative way. I think the fight is over. I want my life to be filled with light and beauty and color. And love. God's love."

She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes. "You were right. Abby was trying to do me a favor, and I think she did. It's through forgiveness that we are set free. Maybe it's time for me to forgive what happened in the past. At least I can start, and this might be a good first step. Plus, I would never in a million years disappoint that nice priest. Father Greene has enough to worry about without me adding to it. So if it's at all possible, could I do the windows here?"

Regina has generously offered an e-copy of Light of the Heart to a reader.  TO ENTER, please leave a question for Regina about herself or her books.  Include your email address: whoever (at) wherever (dot) com.  Winner will be announced on 3/23/11.

For more information on Regina:

My website is http://www.reginaandrews.com/

Tweet me @ regina_eileen

And my blog door is always open: http://www.reginaandrews.wordpress.com/


Julia, thank you so much for having me today, it an honor, my friend. May God bless you, your loved ones and your writing.

Thanks, Regina! 

Today I would like to welcome Roseanna White to Dark Glass Ponderings!  One busy lady, Roseanna does a little bit of everything (er, maybe a lot).  You can find her website here, her daily blog here.  She has two books published, she and her husband keep very busy in the publishing industry, she runs a book review site and is a homeschool mom.  Maybe we should give away some caffeine :)

Roseanna, thank you for joining us at Dark Glass Ponderinngs. Can you tell us about the concept behind Jewel of Persia?

Thanks for having me, Julia! Oddly enough, the concept for Jewel of Persia began because of my niece, who’s 13. I’d wanted to write a fictionalized account of Esther for her, but I hadn’t come up with any brilliant ideas. I was contemplating how to make my favorite story from the Bible the kind of biblical fiction I write—the kind with a fictional heroine—when I began to wonder about those other wives in the harem. “Hmm,” I thought, “what if Xerxes had another Jewish wife too? What if she and Esther had been childhood friends?” And Jewel of Persia was born . . . though not exactly as a book aimed at teens, LOL.

I love the cover of this book and A Stray Drop of Blood. They are so colorful and detailed, bringing me right into the time period. Can you tell us about the process of choosing the cover?

A subject near and dear! I have more say over the covers than many authors do. For Stray Drop, the designer’s wife actually did the modeling, LOL, because we were on a tight schedule. For JoP, I had a little more foresight—I made contact with a Greek jeweler who agreed to let me use photos of his lion bracelet, and a friend of mind located the gorgeous cover model (who is SO my Kasia!) and found a professional photographer to take the photos, after I’d stitched up the costume for her. But the true masterwork is thanks to our designer, George Weis of Tekeme.com. He is just brilliant and took those raw images and made them into real art.

The color that pops so beautifully on the cover of Jewel of Persia is all a testament to his attention to detail—he researched the colors preferred by the Persians and then went in and added it all by hand to the images he’d chosen (go figure, there aren’t any stock photos of Ancient Persian stuff not in ruins. The nerve!).

No other choosing was necessary—we give him our ideas up front and then trust him to work his magic, as he always does without fail. =)

Do you enjoy the research process? What does that involve for you?

I do! It can feel overwhelming before I get started, but I’ve managed to come up with a workable method. I’ll start out with basic, quick research just to get my facts about setting straight—usually this is internet research, or some reference books from the library. Once I’ve got those elements hammered out, I like to find primary texts from the time I’m writing in to use; in this case, Histories by Herodotus. I reread this massive tome (well, the relevant parts anyway) as I wrote, taking notes on anything that I thought might be helpful. I’ve also discovered that YouTube can be an amazing place to find documentaries, photos, and videos on historical subject matter. Who’da thunk? LOL.

Are there any Bible verses that have been particularly meaningful to you as a writer?

Oh, there are so many! But the one I most want to live up to is from I Samuel 3:19. Samuel has just been given his first prophecy, and it says, “So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”

As a writer, that just made me sit back and go, “Wow.” Words are how we reach people, how we communicate. Words have such great power . . . yet so often we use them poorly. But this is what I want to be able to say at the end of my life—that I have grown, that the Lord was with me, and that none of my words fell to the ground. I'm certainly no Samuel—but that's my prayer.

What biblical heroine do you most identify with and why?

Well, my favorite has always been Esther. =) (Duh, given Jewel of Persia, right? LOL) There’s something about the romance, the danger, the mystery . . . and the quiet faith that triumphs over ambition. Her story appeals to my inner princess, I guess. ;-)

Which of your book characters do you most identify with and why?

Hmm . . . I don’t think I’m all that much like any of the characters in JoP, actually. I try to be like Mordecai and Kasia, but I’ve got a looooong way to go to reach their levels of faith, LOL. Presumptuous as it may sound, I think I’m most like my version of Esther. The way I wrote her, she’s older than her years, with a serious streak . . . but can be cajoled into having fun with the more mischievous characters. What most defines her, though, is her loyalty to those she loves, even after losing them. She never forgets, and that’s something I tend toward as well . . . which isn’t always a virtue, LOL.

Do you have any favorite writing rituals? As a mom, do you write in the chaos or do you write when the kids are sleeping?

Well I prefer “when the kids are sleeping,” but there isn’t nearly enough of THAT, ha ha, so I’ve learned to write in the chaos too—and to set up a day a week when their grandmother takes them! =) It’s not very ritualistic, but I love little more than sitting down at my desk, laptop at the ready, with a cup of steaming coffee (and some chocolate never hurts either . . . )

Do you have any advice for balancing motherhood and writing?

Oh boy. It seems like every time I think I’ve got this figured out, something changes on me. But at this point, the thing that has really best helped me is that one day a week when I have help. The kids enjoy the time with their nonna, she enjoys time with her grandbabies, and I enjoy the hours of quiet when I can do what I need to do without interruption. On those days, we get schooling done first thing in the morning so they’re ready to go when she picks them up, and then she makes us all dinner that night. Just knowing I have that one day really helps me balance out the rest of the week.

What projects are coming up next for you?

I have no idea. ;-) Seriously, I just turned in a project that may be my next release, but I’ve yet to hear back from the editor, and she could yet hate it, LOL. So if that one falls through, my next project will probably be a sequel to one of my Biblical novels.

Want a peek into the first chapter of Jewel of Persia?

Susa, Persia

The third year of the reign of Xerxes

The river called to Kasia before she saw it, the voice of its sweet waters promising a moment of unbridled sensation. Kasia cast a glance over her shoulder at her young friend. She ought not go. Abba forbade it—rarely enough to keep her away, but today she was not alone. Still. Esther was not opposed to adventure, once one overcame her initial reservation.

Kasia gripped her charge’s hand and grinned. “Come. Let us bathe our feet.”

Esther’s creased forehead made her look far older than twelve. “We could get in trouble.”

Kasia laughed and gave the small hand a tug. “That is half the fun. Oh, fret not, small one. My father is too busy to notice, and your cousin will not be back from the palace gates until evening.”

“But the king’s household is still here. It is unsafe.”

“We will only be a moment.” She wiggled her brows in the way that always made her young friend smile. “It will be fun. Perhaps we will even glimpse the house of women.”

Esther’s eyes brightened, and she let Kasia lead her another few steps. “Do you think Queen Amestris will be out? I have heard she is the most beautiful woman in all the world.”

“Only until little Esther grows up.” She tugged on a lock of the girl’s deep brown hair and urged her on. The Choaspes gurgled up ahead, where it wound around Susa and gave it life.

Esther laughed and plucked a lily, tucked it behind Kasia’s ear. “I will be blessed to have a quarter of your beauty, Kasia. Perhaps if I do, Zechariah will marry me.”

“And then we shall be sisters at last.” Kasia twirled Esther in a circle. A merry thought, though it was hard to imagine Zechariah settling down. He was two years her elder, but showed no signs of maturity at eighteen. If anyone could inspire it, though, it was sweet little Esther. Once she grew up, half the men in the Jewish population would probably bang at Mordecai’s door . . . and probably a few of their Persian neighbors as well.

Esther joined her in her impromptu dance, then sighed happily. “I should very much like sisters and brothers. I am blessed that Cousin Mordecai took me in, but having him as a father provides no siblings.”

Kasia smiled but knew she had better change the subject before Esther fell into memories of the parents she had lost. Though three years past, the tragedy could still pull the girl into a vortex of pain. “Any time you want to borrow one of mine, you are welcome. Ima certainly has her work cut out for her today, trying to keep a rein on them in weather so fair. I daresay much of the royal house will be out to enjoy it. Surely we can spot a few of them.”

“And how will we know the queen? Will she be encrusted with jewels?”

Kasia laughed, even as guilt surged to life. She ought to get home and help her mother with the little ones. Soon. Five minutes and she would be on her way, back in ample time to check the bread and sweep the day’s dirt from the floor. For now, she could spare a thought or two to the palace. “She will be decked out in the finest Persia has to offer, surely.”

“Cousin Mordecai says that the king wears jewels in his beard at his feasts.”

She had heard the same stories but widened her eyes with exaggerated shock for Esther’s benefit. “In his beard? What if one were to fall into his soup?”

Their laughter blended into that of the river, and Kasia’s pulse kicked up. The weather was warming again, and when the sweltering summer heats came, the king’s entourage would leave. Kasia could not wait for the change in seasons. Her body may not tolerate it for long, but there was something intoxicating about feeling the sun’s burning rays upon her head. She always volunteered to gather up the barley seeds they roasted on the roads in the summer, and not just to spare her mother the task. To feel it. To be nearly overwhelmed. To watch the world around her quiver in the rising heat and let herself sway with it.

Esther paused a fathom from the river’s bank. “It will be freezing. The snows still cover the mountains.”

Perfect. Kasia grinned and sat down to unfasten her shoes. “We will only step in for a moment.”

Esther sat, too, and soon they tossed their shoes aside and helped each other up. They ran the six steps to the river, where icy water lapped at Kasia’s toes. She shrieked. “Oh, it is cold! Why did I let you talk me into this?”

Esther laughed and pushed her another step into the water. “I? Ha! And you are supposed to be the responsible one, taking care of me.”

“Responsibility begs to be escaped now and again.” She waded out one more step, careful to lift her tunic above the water.

When Esther stepped in, she gasped and leapt back onto the bank. “You are mad, Kasia. Your feet will be ice all night.”

A price worth paying for this freedom slicing through her. How could something that touched only one part affect her whole body? Her feet felt the prickles of a thousand needles that coursed like spears up her legs. A shiver sped along her spine, down her arms, and left her laughing. She turned to Esther, intending to tease her into joining her.

The levity died in her throat. Faster than she knew she could move, she jumped back onto the bank and put herself between Esther and the men that stood a stone’s toss away, watching them.

“Kasia? What are you . . .” Esther broke off, having apparently spotted the men. Fear sharpened the intake of her breath. “Your father will kill us.”

“Hush.” Kasia reached back with one arm to be sure her charge remained behind her. Her gaze stayed on the men. They each had a horse beside them, and gold roundels on their clothing. Bracelets, torcs, gems. A million things that shouted nobility and wealth.

A million things that meant trouble.

She dipped her head, gaze on the ground. Had she been alone, she would have grabbed her shoes and run, perhaps with some vague apology as she scurried off. But she could not risk it, not with Esther there too. What if the girl tripped? Or moved too slowly? Kasia could never leave her young friend exposed to two strangers.

One of the horses whinnied, fabric rustled, and footsteps thudded. Kasia tossed modesty to the wind and glanced up.

The taller of the two men moved forward. His were the more expensive clothes, the heavier gold. He had a dark, trim beard that did nothing to hide his grin. “My apologies for startling you. We should have continued on our way after we realized your cry was not for help, but I was intrigued. You often wade into the river swollen from mountain snows?”

Esther gripped Kasia’s tunic and pulled her back a half step to whisper, “Kasia, just give your apologies so we can go.”

Sage advice, except she doubted a man of import would take kindly to his questions going unanswered. She forced a small smile. “Not often, lord, no. I rarely have the time, and I should not have taken it today. My parents are expecting me home. If you will excuse me.”

The man held out a hand. “Far be it from me to detain you, fair one. But it is not safe for a beautiful young woman and her sister to be out alone. Do you not know that the court is yet in Susa? What if some nobleman concerned only with his pleasure came across you?”

The words ought to have terrified her, given the sweep of his gaze. But his tone . . . teasing, warm. A perfect match to that easy smile.

Her chin edged up. “I expect if such a man were to come upon me, he would try to charm me before accosting me. Then I would have ample time to convince him that his pleasure would be better pursued elsewhere.”

He chuckled, took another step closer. “But on the off-chance that your wit would fail to persuade such a man—there are some very determined men in the king’s company—I feel compelled to see you safely home.”

“No! I mean . . . it is not far, we will be fine. I thank you for your concern . . .”

The man’s eyes narrowed, his smile faltered. “You must be a Jew.”

A logical deduction—her trepidation at being caught with a Persian man would not be shared by a woman of his own people.

Still. The tone of his voice when he said the word Jew was enough to make her shoulders roll back. As if they were less because they had been brought to this land as captives a century ago. As if they had not proven themselves over the years.

She narrowed her eyes right back. “Proudly.” Not waiting for a reply, she spun away and grabbed Esther’s hand.

“Kasia, our shoes.”

“We shall grab them on the way by and put them on when we get back,” she murmured.

A mild curse came from behind them, along with quick footsteps. “Come now, you must not walk home barefoot. Please, fair one, you need not fear me. Sit. Put on your shoes.”

He reached the leather strips before they did, scooped them up, and held them out. The gleam of amusement still in his eyes belied the contrition on his face. He offered a crooked smile, his gaze never leaving Kasia’s.

She had little choice. Esther’s fingers still in hers, she reached out and took their shoes.

Esther pressed closer to her side and hissed, “Kasia.”

The man’s smile evened out. “That is your name? Kasia? Lovely.”

“I will pass the compliment along to my parents.” She would not ask him his. Certainly not. Instead, she handed off Esther’s shoes to her with a nod of instruction.

Esther huffed but bent down to wrap the leather around her feet and secure it above her ankles. Kasia just stood there.

The man arched a brow. “I have no intentions of hoisting you over my shoulder the second your attention is elsewhere.”

“And I would see you prove it with my own eyes.”

He shook his head, smiling again, and backed up a few steps. “There. You can sit and put them on, and you will be able to see if I come any closer. Is that satisfactory?”

Though it felt like defeat to do so, it would have been petulant to refuse. She sat and swallowed back the bitter taste of capitulation. Glanced up at the man and found him watching her intently, his smile now an echo.

Who was he? Someone wealthy, obviously. Perhaps one of the king’s officials, or even a relative. She guessed him to be in his mid thirties, his dark mane of hair untouched by grey. He had a strong, straight nose, bright eyes. Features that marked him as noble as surely as the jewelry he wore.

But it was neither the proportions of his face nor his fine attire that made her fingers stumble with her shoes. It was the expression he wore. Intent and amused. Determined and intrigued.

He fingered one of the ornaments on his clothing, gaze on her. “Who is your father, lovely Kasia?”

She swallowed, wondering at the wisdom of answering. Surely he had no intentions of seeing her home now, of . . . of . . . what? What could possibly come of such a short encounter? It was curiosity that made him ask. It could be nothing more. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. He is a woodworker.”

Esther made a disturbed squeak beside her, but Kasia ignored her.

The man’s mouth turned up again. “Kish, the son of Ben-Geber. And I assume he is not inclined toward his daughter socializing with Persians? It is a prejudice I find odd. Are you not in our land? Have you not chosen to remain here, even after King Cyrus gave you freedom to leave? It seems very . . . ungrateful for you Jews to remain so aloof.”

Kasia sighed and moved to her second shoe. “Perhaps. But it is an outlook hewn from the continued prejudice the Persians have against us.”

“Some, perhaps.” The man flicked a gaze his companion’s way. “But most of us recognize that the Jews have become valuable members of the empire. Take Susa for example.” He waved a hand toward the city. “It is such a pleasure to winter here largely because of the Jews who withstand the heat in the summer and keep the city running. We are not all blind to that.”

She inclined her head in acknowledgment. “And some of us recognize the generosity of Xerxes, the king of kings, and his fathers before him, and are grateful for the opportunity to flourish here.”

“But . . .” He cocked his head, grinned. “Your father is not one of those?”

Kasia sighed and, finished with her shoes, stood. “My father has lived long under the heel of his Persian neighbors. Were it not for the size of our family, he would have returned to Israel long ago.”

“Ah. Well, fair and generous Kasia, I thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Your wit and eloquence have brightened my day.” He stepped closer, slowly and cautiously.

Esther shifted beside her, undoubtedly spooked by his nearness. But Kasia held her ground and tilted her head up to look into his face when he was but half an arm away. “And I thank you, sir, for your kind offer to see us home, even if I must decline.”

“Hmm. A shame, that. I would have enjoyed continuing our conversation on the walk back to the city.”

With her eyes locked on his, she was only vaguely aware of his movement before warm fingers took her hand. She jolted, as much from the sensation racing up her arm as from the shock of the gesture.

He lifted her hand and pressed his lips to her palm. Her breath tangled up in her chest. If her father saw this, he would kill her where she stood.

But what was the harm in a moment’s flirtation with an alluring stranger? He would return to his ornate house and forget about her. She would go to her modest dwelling and remember this brief, amazing encounter forever.

A stolen moment. Nothing more.

His other hand appeared in her vision even as he arched a brow. “A gift for the beautiful Jewess.”

That tangled breath nearly choked her when she saw the thick silver torc in his hand, lions’ heads on each end. “Lord, I cannot—”

“I will it.” He slid the bracelet onto her arm, under her sleeve until it reached a part of her arm thick enough to hold it up, past her elbow. Challenge lit his features. “If you do not want it, you may return it when next we meet.”

“I . . .” She could think of nothing clever to say, no smooth words of refusal.

With an endearing smirk, he kissed her knuckles and then released her and strode away. Kasia may have stood there for the rest of time, staring blankly at where he had been, had Esther not gripped her arm and tugged.

“Kasia, what are you thinking? You cannot accept a gift from a Persian man! What will your father say?”

“Nothing pleasant.” Blowing a loose strand of hair out of her face, Kasia let her sleeve settle over her arm. It covered all evidence of the unrequested silver. “He need not know.”

“Kasia.” Esther’s torment wrinkled her forehead again. “What has gotten into you? Surely you are not . . . ?”

She glanced over to where the man mounted his horse and turned with one last look her way, topped with a wink. Blood rushed to her cheeks. “Perhaps I am. He is a fine man, is he not?”

Esther sighed, laughed a little. “He seemed it, yes. But your father will never allow you to marry a Persian. As soon as he decides between Ben-Hesed and Michael, you will become a fine Jewish wife to a fine Jewish man.”

“Yes, I know.” Her breath leaked out, washing some of the excitement of the last few minutes away with it. “It hardly matters. The loss of one bracelet will probably not bother him. He will consider it restitution for our dismay and think of it no more.”

Esther lifted her brows. “But he said he would see you again.”

“Do you really think a man of his station will bother himself over a Jewish girl whose father cannot afford a dowry?”

“I suppose not.”

Kasia looped her elbow through Esther’s. “Come, little one. We had better hurry home.”

Esther renewed her smile. “You have quite the romantic story now. Someday, when you are an old married woman, you can pull out that torc and give it to your daughter along with a tale to set her heart to sighing.”

Yes . . . someday.

Want to read more of Roseanna? 

She has generously offered winner's choice of:

(1) Signed copy of A Stray Drop of Blood
(2) E-book of A Stray Drop of Blood
(3) E-book of Jewel of Persia
(4) Signed copy of Jewel of Persia when it releases.

Also, if you're interested in purchasing go to Whitefire PublishingJewel is also available for $3.99 for e-readers of various types.


Please answer: What Bible character would you most like to see a fictional book about?

Include your email: email (at) wherever (dot) com

I will draw names in one week from today, 3/21/11. 

Julia M. Reffner

About Me

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Christ-loving bookworm & homeschool mom of 2 stealing the rare quiet moments to pursue that all elusive writing dream. I also write book reviews for Title Trakk and The Historical Novel Society.


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