More Than Conquerors

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37 NIV

A few months ago, a friend betrayed me. The pain slashed shockingly deep into my soul. Never had I imagined that she would take the step she took. Every time I see her name now, I want to cry for the loss of a friendship that was important to me and, I thought, her too.

A few days ago while at a conference, someone was shockingly rude to me on an elevator. She was a stranger to me, and still her  behavior hurt me. Just this morning, when telling my husband about it, the mortification from her words cut into my heart.

My human reaction is to lash back, hurt the other person as I was hurt. How dare this person treat me like this? I want to fight.

Yet I need say nothing, take no action. The fight is already won. Romans 8:38-39 tell us that nothing—NOTHING!—can separate us from the love of God. That means that no matter how rude someone is to us, no matter how many people betray us or snub us or treat us like we are less important than we think we are, We are bonded to the Lord through His great love.

We are more than conquerors. In our hearts, through the one who loved us so much He died for us, we are greater than those who seek to destroy us.

Romans 8:37 has become my life verse because I need this reminder when my humanness wants to lash back at those who hurt me. I don’t need to because Jesus has already paid the price and made me more than a conqueror over the sins of the world that strive to separate me from His love.

Interview with Regency Romance Author Abby Gaines

Naomi Rawlings here today, and I’ve got a special guest to introduce: Abby Gaines, author of the newly released novel The Governess and Mr. Granville. I’m especially excited to host Abby here today, because she writes for the same publisher that I write for, Love Inspired Historical.

Abby has graciously agreed to giveaway one copy of her novel to someone who reads the interview and then leaves a comment below. The contest will end Saturday at midnight and is open only to U.S. residents. Here’s a bit about Abby:

I handwrote my first romance novel at age 17. Disillusioned by my first rejection, I gave it up for about 20 years! Obviously I developed a thicker skin over that time, because when I started again, I weathered numerous rejections before selling my first book to Harlequin Superromance in 2006. Since then, I’ve written 20 books across Harlequin’s Superromance, NASCAR and Love Inspired Historical lines.

1.    What drew you to write during the Regency Time Period?
Like many others, I fell in love with the Regency through the works of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Although men and women had very different, clearly defined roles, when it came to clever, witty dialogue, they could be equals, and each could use the strengths of their gender to befuddle the other!

2.    Tell us what year your book is set in and why you chose that particular time.  
It’s set in 1816. Not for any particularly good reason – when I wrote my first Regency, I found a picture of a young woman who looked just how I imagined my heroine, and it was dated 1816. Since then, that time period has turned out be quite interesting. It was after the wars with Napoleon, and in a time where some well-known artists and writers, like Turner and Keats, were coming into their own. Not to mention new inventions coming out. Those things provide interesting background and sometimes drive the story in a new direction.

3.    What’s your favorite, unique Regency aspect of the novel, something you wouldn’t be able to include in a novel set in another place or time?
My heroine has a secret engagement in her past. When I first started writing the book, I knew that was a scandalous thing, but I didn’t understand why. In my research, I discovered how financially risky that would have been for her if the match had gone ahead, and how it would have damaged public perception of her beloved father. Her guilt over that past event isn’t just about breaking a convention – she could have lost everything.

4.    What are the biggest challenges to writing in the Regency Period?
No challenges with the period itself, but the need to check just about every word’s date of origin and early meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary is time-consuming!

5.    Who is your favorite Regency Author?
Georgette Heyer. And right now, Sylvester is my favorite book of hers.

6.    What is your favorite Regency Food, aspect of dress, and/or expression?
Those muslin dresses are hard to beat! So flattering to both the bust and the waist – bring back the empire-line dress!

7.    What is your favorite Regency setting; e.g., London, country house, small village?
I prefer London settings as a reader and a writer. Partly because I know London well, having lived there for several years, and it’s such a buzz seeing familiar streets and landmarks transported back in time. But also the dynamism of the city appeals. I do like Bath settings, too.

8. What makes your hero and heroine uniquely Regency?
She’s a governess and a parson’s daughter – impoverished but of noble lineage. That puts her in a difficult situation with regard to finding a husband. He’s a traditional dad, trying to do his best for his family, convinced he can marry without love and have it all work out fine. Naturally, he learns otherwise!

9. Tell us more about your novel.Dominic Granville needs a wife—whether he wants one or not! And governess Serena Somerton intends to find one for him. A marriage of convenience would provide the wealthy widower’s five children with a mother’s tender care. And yet none of Dominic’s prospective brides can meet Serena’s increasingly high standards.

Dominic can’t imagine why his sister hired such an unconventional, outspoken governess. Yet Miss Somerton’s quirks can’t curb his growing interest in this spirited young woman. His imperfect governess could be his ideal wife…

*****

Thanks so much for interviewing with us today, Abby. It’s always fun to see what draws various authors to the Regency Period. And can I admit that any and every European set governess story always reminds me of the Sound of Music? For those of you interested in the giveaway, please remember to leave a comment below. And if you’re interested in learning more about Abby and her other novels, please visit www.abbygaines.com.

 

Mary Wollenstonecraft: Education for Women

Woman Reading

Though she died just before the Regency began, Mary Wollenstonecraft (mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley) had an enormous impact on Regency ideas about the education of women.

The Original Feminist

In her ground-breaking book, A Vindication of the Rights of WomanWollenstonecraft made the first strong and popular argument for women’s education. Though she’s considered one of the mothers of feminism, Wollenstonecraft’s feminism was very different from the feminism that makes headlines today. Instead of arguing for the right of woman to be just as raunchy as the guys, Wollenstonecraft was concerned  with women’s virtue: she argued that it was impossible for women to make wise  decisions if they’d never been taught how to think.

You couldn’t, Wollenstonecraft argued, raise a girl to only think about her looks, to only be concerned about snaring a husband, and then expect her to be smart enough to run a household or good enough to raise well-behaved children. If you wanted her to be fit to do her duties, you had to educate her.

Also, Wollenstonecraft argued, women were created as suitable mates for men, which meant they were of the same species – as Dorothy Sayers would later put it, women are human – and so what was good for men was good for women. God didn’t expect wisdom and virtue from men and silliness from women. If education gave men the tools they needed to be virtuous, education could give women those same advantages.

Controversy

Wollenstonecraft’s ideas weren’t completely accepted in her own day – they aren’t even now – but by stating her case so clearly and so well, she started a conversation that lasted all the way through the Regency and beyond. The “bluestockings” of the Regency – the bookish women – were Wollenstonecraft’s intellectual heiresses.

If you’re reading this today and you’re a woman who loves books, if you’re a woman who enjoyed a high-school and even a college education, Mary Wollenstonecraft is one of the brave pioneers you have to thank.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

 

Good Stewardship by Ruth Axtell

I often think about how privileged I am to have been born in this country, received a good education, always had enough food to eat, clothes to wear, comfortable houses to live in, cars to drive, opportunities to travel—and do the work I enjoy doing. As a Christian, I feel very much that this privilege includes responsibility in the form of “stewardship.” To me stewardship means acknowledging that I’ve been given more than others, not squandering those things (be they talents or material things), and then using those benefits to help someone else.

Portrait of Robert Raikes by George Romney, National Portrait Gallery, London

A person who embodies this spirit of good stewardship in the Georgian era, but whose impact was felt way into the Regency and beyond, was Robert Raikes (1736-1811). He was born into privilege in Gloucester, England, the son of a printer and newspaper publisher. When he lost his father at the age of twenty-one, he had enough wealth to live the idle life of a typical man of his class.

Instead, he felt that sense of stewardship and used his talents and wealth to help the men locked in the workhouse and county jail in his city. He began to teach many to read, since they had little to do in jail. He also began to see how ignorance and illiteracy often led to a life of crime.

His “aha” moment came when he went to see about hiring a gardener. While there, he noticed how noisy a group of boys in the street was. The gardener’s wife told him how much worse they were on Sunday. It gave him the idea of teaching them to read, since working children only had Sunday off. He immediately inquired if there were any women in the neighborhood willing to teach them, and hired four, paying them a shilling each, to teach these boys the Bible and catechism.

At first only boys were taught. The first lessons were given in the early 1780s (accounts vary whether it was in 1780 or 81) in a woman’s private home. Soon there were more “schools” opened in the city. In 1783 Raikes published an article about these Sunday schools in his paper. One of the reasons he gave for teaching children of working class families on Sunday was the following: “Farmers and other inhabitants of the towns and villages complain that they receive more injury in their property on the Sabbath than all the week besides; this in a great measure proceeds from the lawless state of the younger class, who are allowed to run wild on that day, free from every restraint.”*

The story was picked up by the London periodicals and generated a lot of response from other cities. From these initial Sunday schools, the Sunday School Movement took off. For those who opposed what he was doing, his schools became known as Raikes’ Ragged Schools. The children spent most of the day in the school, attending church in the afternoon, and going home by five o’clock. The movement caught on and spread to other cities and then to the United States. The parents willingly brought their children to Sunday school because it meant a chance for them to receive a free education.  By 1831, 1.25 million British children were being taught weekly in these Sunday schools. That constituted approximately one-quarter of the population.Free, compulsory education was not passed into law in England until 1880.

Think of the impact a Sunday school movement had on a nation and on the world.

 

From The Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools, A Biography of Robert Raikes and William Fox by John Carroll Power, Sheldon & Co., New York, 1863

Schoolroom Antics ~ Question of the Month

This month we’re been looking at the education of Regency students and scholars. The antics of schoolroom have provided fodder for many a novels. Did you know that many of your Regency Reflections authors have had interesting moments within the school walls as well.

So we asked our authors, “What was your biggest school days blunder?”

Woman At Writing DeskLaurie Alice Eakes
To be honest, I have nothing to share. I kept too low a profile in school unless I absolutely knew the answer just to avoid this sort of thing.

Unless this after school event gives it away…

I had a terrible crush on a geeky guy—Hmm, I married a computer geek turned lawyer geek—and wrote a poem to him. I can still remember part of it. Mind you, I was fifteen and painfully shy.

Oh, I wish I were a computer
Or a slide rule and equasions I could do,
For if I were one, or maybe both,
Some notice I might receive from you. . .

And so it went. Well, we were in the literary club together, and during a meeting, while sharing things, I accidentally pulled this poem from my notebook instead of the banal one I intended to share. . .

Oops.

Susan Karsten
This is going to sound really strange, since things have changed SO much. When I was in 2nd grade, in about 1962-63, I was asked, by my teacher, who I will call Mrs. Mustard, to come into the supply closet. This was a room, with shelves on 3 sides and a window. It was the teacher’s private little storeroom. She regretted to inform me that my red and white checked blouse had come untucked, and would I please not let that happen again. My, things have changed! By the way, this was a public school.

Kristy Cambron
I’ve always felt that as a student, you could try to blend in with the class and avoid any embarrassing moments. But alas, my  biggest education blunder was when I was in the on-stage role as the teacher. I was a corporate facilitator at the time and was training a class of more than forty adult learners on customer service soft skills. It was a great class – learners were energetic and engaged. Everyone smiled and seemed to throughly enjoy themselves  So when one learner approached me at the end of class, I hoped to hear positive feedback on her classroom experience. The last thing I expected was for her to tell me I’d just trained the class and no one had bothered to tell me that my suit pants zipper had been broken all day!

Naomi Rawlings
I accidentally went into the boys locker room before a basketball game. I didn’t realize the visiting team used the girl’s locker room, and I was just trying to get to the bathroom and following the sign that said girls. Fortunately I was in elementary school and it was a high school game. So I wasn’t old enough to get teased mercilessly for the rest of my day. But my cheeks still get red just thinking about it. I must have been the color of a tomato for the rest of the night!

Kristi Ann Hunter
Oh the options. I think the question might not be what was my biggest blunder, but which one am I willing to share in a public forum! When I was in sixth grade, my best friend had English and Math together. I feel quite bad for our teachers. We had to write a lot of sentences in English class. My friend and I made ridiculous sentences about polka dotted potties and remote controlled spitwads.

At the end of the day, in math class, we took turns sitting in front of each other and slowing pushing the other’s desk forward. We’d see how far we could get before the teacher got mad at us.

photos by Wikimedia Commons

What about you? What was your biggest schoolroom blunder?

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!

We are so very excited to announce that Laurie Alice Eakes, a Regency Reflections blogger, has signed a three-book contract with Zondervan for a Regency series!

Laurie Alice’s new series is currently titled Strangers at Bonython and follows the romantic adventures of three cousins that are all after the same prize.  Mark your calendars! This series is tentatively scheduled to release in the spring of 2014.

It is no surprise that Laurie Alice has won the National Readers Choice Award for Regency. If you have ever read one of her novels, then you already know of her amazing ability to immerse readers into the Regency world and charm them with vivid characters and exciting plots.

Recently I asked Laurie Alice if there was a particular Bible verse that encouraged her throughout her writing career, and she told me that her “career verse” is 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (NIV)

“This verse is my career verse for three reasons,” said Laurie Alice. “First of all, I want to encourage readers who are already believers to be strong and to grow in their faith despite life’s trials. Next, I wish to encourage seekers that the love, forgiveness, and truth of the Lord is real and worth the sacrifice of self. Last, but not least, I wish to encourage others to follow their dreams and let the Lord guide them. I never thought I would sell one book, let alone seventeen.”

Laurie Alice’s dedication to the inspirational Regency genre is not only evident in her writing, but in her willingness to help other writers grow and develop their craft as well.

“Laurie Alice has been a great help and encouragement to me, both personally and professionally,” said Naomi Rawlings, a fellow historical inspirational romance author and Regency Reflections blogger. “She’s always full of historical information and able to point you to the sources you’re looking for, and she has such an amazing willingness to help teach other writers. I praise the Lord for the encouragement she’s been, and I’m so thrilled to see her able to publish another series of Regency novels.”

If you can’t wait until Spring 2014 for a good dose of Laurie Alice’s regency stories, you are in luck … her next Regency,  Flight of Fancy, releases in October. Want to read one of her books right now?  Then be sure to check out  A Necessary Deception.

Join us as we celebrate with Laurie Alice!!

 

Continuing Education

I was lucky enough to get my part of my college education at a great books program – that is, a program based on the sort of education that’s been going over in England for centuries – back to the Regency time and beyond.

The big differences between what I did and what your average Regency gentleman did are:

1. I got to study the great works of Western literature in translation. Back in the day, you would have read Aristotle, Plato, Virgil and the rest in the original Greek and Latin.

2. I got to do it even though I’m a woman.

Self-Education

I’m almost a decade out of college now, and I still feel the effects of my great books education, in the best of ways. My world grew when I read those books, and, as I reread them, it’s still growing.

And if you’re in America, you’re literate, and you have a public library card, you too can read the books an educated Regency gentleman – an educated medieval gentleman, an educated Roman gentleman! – would have had (or longed to have) on his book shelves.

That’s the beautiful thing about education: it doesn’t have to stop. If there’s something you want to know about, if there’s wisdom you want to gain, you can do it. No, just reading books won’t give you all the benefit of reading them under brilliant professors and it won’t give you all the joy of discussing them with other eager-eyed students. But here are some hacks for the adult, self-starting student:

1. Try online courses, many of them free, in the subject area you’re interested in. iTunes U has a lot, and there are even Christian universities offering free, good content.

2. Use a book to help you find and understand good books. The Well-Educated Mind is one that will give you a guided course of good reading.

3. Pick translations of the great works that also have great introductions. Most copies of classic works in translation will contain introductions that explain the context of the work and why it’s important. I hardly ever skip these, because they’re like a mini-tour, giving me a heads-up about what I ought to be looking for when I read the book itself.

What Good Is It?

So, why should you try reading the great works? Well, I can’t answer it for you, but here are some benefits I’ve noticed for myself:

1. I have context. When I read new political ideas or religious ideas, they don’t seem bigger than they should. I can see where they fit on a continuum centuries long. When I read a new story, I can see the echoes of the old story it’s riffing on.

2.  The Bible makes more sense. When you read other works written around the same time as the Bible, it helps you understand the Bible better – and also to admire it more! When you see what kinds of things were written at the same time, the truth and beauty of scripture stand out.

3.  Some of it’s just plain enjoyable. So much of good literature is valued not just because it’s true or influential, but because it’s beautiful. Indulge yourself – read some Boethius!

4. You can recognize new lies as old ones. There isn’t much new under the sun. And if you’ve read about politics in Rome, you’ll learn something about politics in America. If you’ve read about temptation in Dante, you’ll recognize temptation in your day-to-day life.

5. You can recognize that truth is always truth. There’s something reassuring about reading across the centuries, because you can see that some things don’t change. The goodness of the Lord is everlasting, and it shows up in the written record of human history.

Question for you:

What’s your favorite old book? Or which do you think you’d enjoy reading the most?

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell 

 

Nursery Rhymes and Early Learning, by Susan Karsten

I know God is in control, but it makes me sad that children today are not read to, sung to, or taught nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes originated centuries before the Regency, but were used even then for early language skill learning.

Two well-known nursery rhymes refer to school: Mary Had a Little Lamb (it followed her to school one day), and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (This is the way we come home from school).

In our house we enjoy Kate Greenaway’s Nursery Rhyme Classics, a book with beautiful illustrations, mostly of children in Regency dress. Greenaway was a preeminent illustrator who lived from 1846 to 1901. Her drawings take you to a life forever beautiful, with children dancing in flowery meadows.

She used the Empire, Regency, and late-18th century fashions for her most of her nursery rhyme illustrations. They are full of high-waisted dresses, pinafores, mobcaps, straw bonnets, and smock frocks. Some of her illustrations are of particular interest to Regency fans, since they feature young ladies and we can get a good look at many outfits. Great inspiration for our novels!

The popularity of her drawings led to a clothing fad in the 1880s and 1890s which had London’s mothers dressing their children Greenaway style.

Wondering what your favorite nursery rhymes are? Do you teach them to your children?

Waste Not The Mind

Kristi here.

Lord Curzon at Eton, 1878Image: Wikimedia Commons

In Regency England, education levels varied drastically from class to class and even person to person. For some people, it was the lack of availability that limited their education. If the family couldn’t afford tutors, then the children could only learn as much as their parents or governess knew.

Churches were starting to make some basic schooling available but it was limited and crowded and served many purposes besides just education.

Most of the public schools for young boys (which are much closer to the idea of private school in the US, or more to the point boarding school) had scholarship spots, but they could be difficult to get if you didn’t have tutors to get you up to a certain level before you applied.

Education was really reserved for the elite and well-to-do in Regency England.

This isn’t the case anymore. At least not in first world countries such as the US and UK. Now, everyone can attend school, is even required to by law. You even have options! Public school, private school, magnet schools, home schooling, online schooling, the possibilities are nearly endless on ways for you to get your education.

Options continue even as we age. College, vocational schools, apprenticeships, community classes, continuing education, online tutorials, even newspapers and documentaries put information at our fingertips.

Sadly, many of us take it for granted.

Old broken school desk with moors in the background
Image: Wikimedia Commons, David BairdAn abandoned English school desk

Nearly every teenager is back in school by now. Where I live, they’ve been in for a month already. Most of them gripe about it. They complain about having to go to school and learn. They skip. They slack. Some of them fail a class and couldn’t care less.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some that dedicate themselves to getting to most out of their education. But even kids with high grades can be coasting through school, doing just enough to get by. I know. I was one.

I know adults that have gotten within fifteen hours of a college degree and quit. Not because of money or family obligations. Just quit because they didn’t want to go anymore.

God isn’t happy with this. And as with most things, it drives down to the motive and spirit behind our clinging to ignorance.

“Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.” Luke 12:48

 

Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.  1 Peter 4:10

God has given us the opportunity to learn things. Not just as scholars, but as people. We have access to the internet, to libraries, community and continuing education classes.

Long library aisle
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago there was a commercial for a college scholarship fund. The slogan was, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

When God made us in His image, he gave us a mind that could think and learn and be used to make better and wiser decisions using that knowledge.

All too often I find myself wasting that opportunity. I don’t want to take the time to research something, so I let someone else do the leg work and the thinking and just accept their conclusion. Sometimes it just feels safer to be ignorant, so I choose not to open my mind to the moments around me.

I don’t think that’s living up to what God required when he gave me a working brain, free from disease or other conditions that make thinking harder. I don’t think that makes me a good manager of what He gave me.

Be a good manager. Take every opportunity to learn something new. You never know when God will expect you to use it.

Have you ever learned something that seemed pointless at the time but later came in handy?

What Do You Think? ~ Checking In With Our Readers

We love our readers! It’s why we write this blog. Connecting and sharing with a group of people who love Regency England and Inspirational fiction as much as we do inspired us to write our first post back in February.

People around a question mark
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In some ways, this is as much your blog as it is ours. Without you, what we do wouldn’t matter. So we wanted to take this moment to ask you, where would you like this blog to go?

What do you like? Would you change anything? Have you had a favorite post that you’d like to see more things similar to?

As we start the approach to our first birthday (still five months away, but coming up fast!) we want to make sure that this blog is meeting your needs and wants.

So tell us what you think in the comments below. You and your opinions matter to us.