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GIVING THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, Devotions, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Friends and family will gather this Thursday, November 26, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many will enjoy a lavish meal, engage in time-honored events, and possibly watch a football game.

Thanksgiving celebrations have been practiced in many nations for hundreds of years. Our celebrations are rooted in English traditions of celebrating after a harvest. But Thanksgiving Day also has religious origins.

Thanksgiving CharactersMost school aged children are taught about the 1621 celebration at Plymouth when the colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn meal and gave thanks to God for their blessings.

Virginia claims an earlier Thanksgiving celebration at what is now known as Berkeley Plantation. On December 4, 1619, where Captain John Woodlief and the company of men dropped to their knees and prayed:First Official Thanksgiving Commemoration Plaque

“We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival,

at the place assigned for plantacon (plantation)

in the land of Virginia,

shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy

as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

First Official Thanksgiving Commemoration Plaque -2For more details, see:

AMERICA’S FIRST THANKSGIVING ~ BERKELEY PLANTATION

http://janetgrunst.com/americas-first-thanksgiving-berkeley-plantation/?preview=true&preview_id=582&preview_nonce=f909ed43c3

Some of us may be experiencing a bittersweet Thanksgiving.

Are you grieving because you have lost a loved one to death or hurting from a broken relationship? Are you anxious because you or someone close to you is fighting a disease or illness? Maybe you’re heartbroken because of a child or grandchild’s trial. Perhaps there are disappointments due to a job or opportunity loss, or fears resulting from financial woes. Some of us even worry about what might happen in the future ― events which may never materialize.  

God tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

Does that make sense? How do we give thanks when it feels like our world is falling apart? We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. In the midst of whatever you are going through Scripture can be very encouraging.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Praising God is a wonderful antidote to fight discouragement or depression. As you enumerate the many things you can thank God about, a subtle but miraculous event occurs.

While your circumstances may not be altered, your attitude as you take the journey will be transformed.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Have a blessed Thanksgiving

in the knowledge that God loves you.

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Susan Craft’s newest work ~ CASSIA

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 12 comments

In the first two of Susan’s books in this series THE CHAMOMILE and LAUREL, we get to know Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos and follow their suspense-filled experiences.  CASSIA is the third installment of their story. Susan’s books are filled with historical detail about the 18th century, particularly South Carolina.Cover of Cassia

Share with us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in Columbia, SC, since I was five years old. Forty-five years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. I’m a history nerd who enjoys researching for my novels. I get so excited when I come across a tidbit of history I’ve never heard of before. I can’t wait to share it and write it into my novel. That excitement is enough to keep me going.

I enjoy painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my porch watching the rabbits and geese eat my daylilies. I recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader. 

I write inspirational historical romantic suspense.  My Xanthakos Family Trilogy includes a Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, which won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick; its sequel, Laurel, which was released in January 2015; and the third in the trilogy, Cassia, which will be released in September 2015.

Susan F. Craft

Susan F. Craft

 My husband and family are very supportive of my writing efforts. It’s funny sometimes, though, when I’m writing and I’m off in another time, my husband will come into my office and whisper, “Are you writing? I don’t want to interrupt.” It’s as if whispering makes it less of an interruption. You just have to laugh. Besides, we’ve been married 45 years, and he’s my best friend.

My publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). I currently serve on the LPC Heritage Beacon Imprint publication board and work for them as a manuscript editor of historical fiction.  My literary agent is Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” I worked with the International Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer’s Guide to Horses that can be found at www.lrgaf.org.

 

Please tell us about your new inspirational book, CASSIA (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a slave ship.

When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.

Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.

Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan.  Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia. 

Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children.  Bolstered by their faith, they realize their personal strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.

Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?

 

You said you had a great story about how you came up with the character of Cal the mastiff who is a hero in Cassia.

Our granddog, Steeler, is a cuddly ball of fluff who brings us much joy. Last year, I was in our backyard inside a temporary fence we erected for when we babysit Steeler when two pit bulls and a boxer who were roaming the neighborhood tried to attack Steeler and me by pushing on the fence.  Now, Steeler is a doxipoo who weighs in at 14+ pounds, but he didn’t let his size stop him from placing himself between me and those dogs, who probably weighed 300 pounds or more.  With the heart of a lion, he faced them down until I could get us both Cal, he's yours nowback into the house.

I was in the middle of writing Cassia, and that incident inspired me to include a dog in the story. Like Steeler, the dog that I named Cal does some heroic deeds. Only Cal is a mastiff who weighs over 300 pounds.

When searching the Internet for pictures of a mastiff to help me with my descriptions, I came across the Cedarhollow Mastiffs site where I found a fantastic picture of a mastiff named Othello. I contacted Jamie Morris, the owner of the kennel, and asked permission to use the picture of Othello in a meme to advertise my novel. Jamie was excited and graciously said yes. Turns out she’s an avid reader who wants to read the Xanthakos Family Trilogy, and we’ve become Facebook friends.

Sometimes people will ask me who inspired a particular character or who do I envision portraying one of my characters in a movie. Steeler can puff up his chest with pride knowing that he is portrayed by Cal in his grandma’s novel.

 

Is there a message or a spiritual theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

I do have similar themes throughout my writing–faith under pressure and letting go of willfulness and reliance upon self-sufficiently.

I visualize my body of work as a tapestry through which I’ve spun a golden thread of faith made from finely hetcheled flax silk. Although it may disappear from sight, it’s always there, a constant foundation, binding the piece together.

 

Can you tell us anything about the next book in the series or a current work in process?

I’ve almost completed my research on The Great Wagon Road that stretched from Philadelphia to Savanna, GA. From 1720-1780, it served as a passage for immigrants, mostly from Ireland, to travel from the North and settle in the South. I’m thinking it will be a series of romances and adventure stories, similar to the old Wagon Train TV series I watched growing up as a child.

Thank you so much, Susan for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy your books.

Where can readers find your books?

My books are on Amazon, Barnes and Noble online and can be ordered in their stores, and the bookstore of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

What are your social media sights?

Here are some places readers can find me:

www.susanfcraft.com (my website)

http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com  (my personal blog)

http://colonialquills.blogspot.com (post the fourth Monday of each month)

http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com (post once a month)

http://www.hhhistory.com (post on the 31st of months that have a 31st)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.craft.108

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susanfc/

Twitter: @susanfcraft

Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116297461023468677321/about

Susan Craft is a friend and fellow contributor on Colonial Quills. We are also both represented by Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

 

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HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to 2013 when I finally had an opportunity to go to Ireland. I found a tour that would allow me to visit parts

stone wall hedges

stone wall hedges

Leprchaun Crossingof England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With ancestors from four of those five countries, I wanted to explore the lands of my roots. 

Ireland was as beautiful as all the pictures, travelogues, and stories promised.

Pieris Flaming Silver 'Lily-of-the-valley'

Pieris Flaming Silver ‘Lily-of-the-valley’

The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the scenery spectacular. There are many delightful places I sojourned but here I’ll share just a few.

One stop was The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Here you can walk

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

on over 40,000 hexagonal basaltic columns that resulted

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

from volcanic eruptions. As one might expect, there is a legend that tells of the giant who built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight a Scottish giant. It is no surprise that one can also find similar basalt formations across the water in Fingals Cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa.

In Dublin I visited Trinity College Library to see the famed Book of Kells.

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library

These colorful illuminated medieval Gospels were produced in a monastery in the early 8th century on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, in honor of Saint Columba and later taken to Ireland. While there are 680 illuminated pages of the medieval Gospels, the library only displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing an illustration and the other displaying typical text pages. The library itself is a sight to behold with its mammoth book filled cases stretching to the ceiling. Dozens of busts of well known authors are mounted at the edge of each aisle.

Four Evangelist Symbols In the Public Domain

Four Evangelist Symbols
In the Public Domain

Book of Kells In the Public Domain

Book of Kells
In the Public Domain

 

 

         

 

 

 

Traveling around Dublin you will spot the famous colorful Dublin Doors, of eighteenth

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors

century Georgian homes. Strict building guidelines governed the homes making them closely resemble each other, so residents began painting their front doors vibrant colors and installing ornate door-knockers to show their individuality.

Driving through Belfast, you will see many vivid murals of scenes and people painted on the sides of buildings

Murals of The Troubles

Murals of The Troubles

. These paintings remind us of the three decades in Northern Ireland called The Troubles, a period of continual strife between factions wanting

independence from, or remaining loyal to, Britain. Many efforts at finding an agreeable political solution failed until the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in recent years.

Shamrock 2To learn more about ST. PATRICK ~ British Patron Saint of Ireland, visit my blogpost from last year.

http://janetgrunst.com/st-patrick-british-patron-saint-of-ireland

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Blog, Journal, Media Sharing, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award! So warning: this is a somewhat whimsical post.sisterhoodoftheworldbloggersaward-graphic

This is providential because I was feeling remiss about not blogging recently, and befitting because I was nominated by Kathleen Rouser – kathleenrouser.com  who likes to write about whimsies among other things. Thanks Kathleen.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
    2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
    3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
    4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
    5. Nominate five blogs.

The Ten Questions I was given:

1) Why do you blog?

 I enjoy writing Blogposts about other people who may not be well known. Promoting other writers is fun. I also find devotionals inspiring and encouraging so I like to share them with others. I like to feature people and organizations that inspire me. As an aspiring author, I need an online platform.

2) Which famous person from history would you interview on your blog if you could?

Jesus Christ, is probably the most obvious answer.  Other than Biblical figures: George Washington.

3) Where do you most of your blog ideas come from?

Historical events and people from various eras (particularly those who’ve served in the military).

Spiritual insights and devotionals

4) What is your favorite blog post that you’ve written?

I don’t have a favorite. But “Time Well Spent In God’s Waiting Room” is where I live.

5) What are some future topics you hope to cover on your blog?

More interviews with authors ~ Historical events or places ~ Articles that encourage others. A blogpost featuring my husband who builds beautiful guitars and banjoes.

6) What has been your favorite place to visit in the United States?

That’s tough because I’ve been to many places I’d like to re-visit. I would love to return to HawaiiShameless Promotion: Virginia has a wealth of fascinating places to visit, particularly if you’ve got any interest in history.  I live in the Historic Triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg~Jamestown~Yorktown)

7) Where and what kind of dream vacation would you like to take?

The British Isles and Ireland – I’ve been there before and would love to return.

8) What fictional character do you identify with the most, out of your best-loved books?

Jane Eyre. Jane has had to overcome significant rejection and other difficulties in her life. She’s plain, quiet, introverted, yet committed to her values and is not afraid to share her opinions. 

9) Are you a seat of the pants blogger or do you plan out your posts, with purpose, long in advance?

While I am an organized and fairly structured person, I tend to be a seat of the pants fiction or non-fiction writer.

10) Have you found that blogging has helped you grow in other areas of writing?

Absolutely. When I first began writing for publication, I wrote newspaper or magazine articles. Now, I primarily write fiction, so I find blogging makes me exercise that entirely different style of writing. 

I nominate:

Elaine Cooper                http://elainemariecooper.com

Laura Frantz                  http://laurafrantz.net/

Carrie Pagels                 http://cfpagels.blogspot.com/

Cynthia Howerter          http://cynthiahowerter.com/

Karen Wingate               http://karenwingate.com/

Joan Hochstetler            http://www.jmhochstetler.com/

Here are my 10 questions:

  1. Name three blogs of different types (i.e. devotional, individual, commentary or political) that you like to read.
  2. What are your favorite types of blogs to write?
  3. What are your hobbies other than writing and reading?
  4. If you could hang out with one fictional character for the day, who would it be?
  5. What is your favorite fiction book?
  6. Other than the Bible, whit is your favorite non-fiction book?
  7. If you could travel (at someone else’s expense), where would you go?
  8. If you could choose to live in another era and place, in what era and place would you live?
  9. What talent, other than writing, would you like to develop?
  10. What are your favorite things to blog about?

 

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IS THE WORLD STEALING YOUR PEACE?

Posted by on Jan 10, 2015 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | 9 comments

When we listen to or watch the news and hear of tragic or sad events, it is easy to get discouraged. When we, or the people we love, are going through difficult times our hearts are heavy and we long to transform the circumstances. It’s easy to wonder where God is, and why He allows these things to happen.

We live in a fallen world where evil, disaster, disease, and death seem to have free reign, and those are the events that seem to get news coverage. It’s important to remember that there are also stories of courage, sacrifice, kindness, and generosity that are taking place all around us. These incidents could touch our hearts and lift our spirit just as powerfully, but they rarely command the same amount of press time. 

As Christians, we know Who is triumphant. The whole story has been written and we know the ending ― that evil, disease and death will cease and Jesus will reign over all.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

Until then, we can center our hearts and minds on the Lord. A great way to sheet of musicdo that is to list all the things for which we are thankful. Listening to hymns, praise songs, and inspirational music can also inspire and lift us. These tools don’t alter the circumstances, but it changes us, and our perspective as we go through trials.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9

The Lord has given each of us a platform, and prepared places for us to be an encouragement to others. When we choose to be the light, and do His will in the localities where He has placed us, He blesses us.

  If you need a song to encourage your heart today, listen to one of my favorites, My Jesus My Saviour by Michael W. Smith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqSQvoinDE4&list=PLh9KTH-y7X5URgvGx6VKf2ePhrcEe-BLIRainbow

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THE PHILOSOPHER’S AWAKENING — A CHRISTMAS ALLEGORYI

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | Comments Off on THE PHILOSOPHER’S AWAKENING — A CHRISTMAS ALLEGORYI

It was almost thirty years ago that I first read THE PHILOSOPHER’S AWAKENING by Mabel Lee Cooper. I’ve heard this Christmas allegory read by Paul Harvey, the well known American radio broadcaster, famous for his “‎The Rest of the Story” broadcasts several times in the years since. I’m sharing it now with you.  I wish you a blessed Christmas.

THE PHILOSOPHER’S AWAKENING

It was Christmas Eve. Outside the wind howled and the snow was falling; a dreadful blizzard was on the way. Inside his little house by the side of the road, a great philosopher sat comfortably by his warm fire with his books for companions. This philosopher was very wise. Many people found their way to his door to seek his advice and help. Not only was he wise, but also very kind; he loved all living creatures, and for his great kindness and wisdom he was beloved by all who knew him.

As he sat this stormy night by his warm fire he thought of all who might be out in the blizzard. He arose, raised his curtains high, and put a bright light in his window, saying, “All who must be out tonight can find shelter and warmth and welcome by my fire.”

As he stood by the window, suddenly he heard the sound of many voices singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men!” It was the little band of Christians singing in their chapel nearby.

“This is Christmas Eve”, thought the philosopher to himself, “the night the Christians celebrate the coming of God to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Now this philosopher, being in the habit of understanding the things he believed, had not joined the band of Christians. He thought the Christians’ way of life was the best way, but he could not understand the many mysteries of their faith. Above all, he could not understand the Incarnation. Why was it necessary for God to come to earth in the person of Jesus Christ? How could it be? Because he could not understand these things he would not become a Christian.

As he was thinking, suddenly he heard a noise at his window, caused by a flock of half frozen birds beating their wings against his window pane. The poor birds had been caught in the blizzard as they journeyed southward to a warmer climate.

The heart of the philosopher was touched, for he loved birds.  He opened wide his window, thinkBirds in the Snowing the birds would fly in where there was warmth. But the birds didn’t understand, and would not fly in. Putting on his warm fur coat, he went outside, determined to save them if he could. He tried to force them into his room, but they resisted. Several times he tried to clutch them in his hands, but they eluded his grasp. Then he took bread crumbs and scattered them on a little place he had cleared in the snow. The half-starved birds devoured the crumbs, and then, with renewed strength, tried to fly again.

The philosopher thought of his barn where the birds would be safe in the warm hay. He placed a ladder leading to the door of the barn and covered each round of the ladder with bread crumbs. He succeeded in attracting the birds to the ladder. They ate the crumbs on each round and reached the open door of the barn. But they wouldn’t fly in! How hard the philosopher tried to force them inside, but they didn’t understand; and in spite of his efforts he saw the birds drop, one by one, frozen to death, with a haven so close at hand.

The philosopher looked sadly at the birds he had tried so hard to save. “The great difference between the birds and myself,” he thought, “is that I know where a haven is; they did not. They did not understand that I was trying hard to save them, and I could not make them see that the haven was close by. There was only one way I could have saved them ― only by becoming a bird could I have made them understand!”

As he mused, suddenly he heard again the Christians singing: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

Then a great light seemed to come to the wise philosopher. “O God,” he cried, “there was no other way for You to make men understand ― no other way that even You could lead them and make them understand, save by becoming one of them!”

And then, in the drifting snow, he fell upon his knees and uttered from the depths of his soul, “I believe! I believe!”

Holy Family

 

 

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