Consistent Prayer

Vanessa here,

I am guilty. I am guilty of loading my plate to high, of volunteering for too much, of getting so busy that I forget to pray. This year I am going to be more consistent. Face it. There are a lot of things that need prayer. I have friends waking up in fear and depression. Truthfully, I counted more sad days that happy ones.

But God is in control. I thank him that the bad wasn’t so horrid, that tomorrow never came. Yet, I am convicted of forgetting or being too tired to do the one thing I can to alleviate the anxiety that wants to take hold.

Prayer. I am going to keep it simple, but I am going to be consistent.

I’m ordering a new prayer journal to keep me on this path. Yes, I am not just an author but a believer in the product too.

For your free PDF version of the Prayer Journal sign up here.

Here is the link to Amazon to order a print copy.

To Ruin a Lady is Quite Fun

Helloooo, thank you to the Regency authors for letting me join your lovely group. My first Regency is releasing from Love Inspired Historical in September and it was a hoot to write. So much so that I’m at work on another.

A great regency involves just a bit of ruination…at least for the heroine in my current manuscript. But how canI go about ruining her so that she’s forced into a marriage of convenience?

As someone who has enjoyed regency romances since I was a teen, I still have so much to learn. I needed a ruination that was palatable for a Christian audience but still severe enough to force my heroine into the arms of my delectable yet decidedly anti-marriage hero. So the first place I looked was, of course, Google. My dear friend Google.

The search yielded many interesting titles but no specific reasons on why or how a lady could be ruined. I really wanted something concrete. Something unarguable. But that showed my misunderstanding of the Regency period. Thank goodness for writing friends! A dear author friend named who has been writing regencies for years informed me that all it could take is some gossip to rip my heroine’s reputation into tatters.

And so I got to work in creating ruination. After all, my hero and heroine belong together, even if they don’t know it yet!

Has gossip ever hurt you or ruined your reputation? How did you recover?

 

A Jane Austen Devotional

My husband and I were in a bookstore one day, where he was looking for a devotional. We were eyeing the shelves full of them in the Christian section when he spied a gem, A Jane Austen Devotional. “That’s the one,” he said. That’s why I love him, he’s an Austen devotee like me! Jane Austen devotional
This devotional compiled and written by Steffany Woolsey and published by Thomas Nelson is not divided by days but by subject matter. A listing includes: Being Generous, Christ’s Unconditional Love, Vanity’s Folly, Faithfulness, Unhealthy Friendships, etc..
Under each section, an excerpt from one of Jane Austen’s novels is included and then a commentary on the spiritual theme gleaned from her writing, since Jane Austen lived in a time when the Bible was the standard of moral authority in Great Britain. Any educated person such as Jane would be well-versed in Scripture, especially as the daughter of a rector in the Anglican church. Her writing reflects her Christian beliefs, even when she pokes fun at certain clergy (remember Mr. Collins?)
In A Jane Austen Devotional under the heading “Being Generous” for example, a segment from Sense and Sensibility is used in which Mr. Dashwood discusses with his wife how much he should give to his bereaved stepmother in order to fulfill his deathbed promise to his father to take care of her. Throughout their conversation he allows his wife to talk him out of giving her anything he originally had decided upon. The author uses this illustration of mean-spiritedness to contrast with Biblical teaching, citing Matthew 15:18 where Jesus talks about the things that defile a person—those that proceed from the heart. The teaching of Jesus regarding generosity is then shown using Mark 12:42-44 in which Jesus compares the poor widow who leaves two small copper coins in the offering box in the temple to a richer person who gives out of his abundance.

Jesus calls us to imitate the widow, who gave so generously out of her poverty. As Woolsey sums up in this segment, “When we choose this route, He [Christ] can begin to develop in us qualities such as generosity, kindness, and compassion.”

For anyone who appreciates Jane Austen’s irony and wit, this devotional is full of snippets of her scenes with a parallel from Scripture on each facing page. My husband and I have enjoyed every entry we’ve read.

 *  *  *

Ruth Axtell hasRuth Axtell (2) written several Regency romances. Her latest series is called London Encounters. Book 2, A Heart’s Rebellion, came out in March. The Rogue’s Redemption, set in both Regency London and frontier Maine, came out in December. She also writes novels set in Victorian England and late 19th century Maine.

A Lady’s Honor …Finding True Love

A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes deals with a person’s inability to receive love because they have never really known love. From growing up with her grandparents who love her but demand a certain standard of behavior to having parents who are living off in London society, Elizabeth Trelawny has come to feel she is only as good as the size of her dowry.

220px-Trebarwithstrand01
Trebarwith Strand on north Cornish coast- Wikipedia

 

The story opens with her fleeing from an unwanted suitor–a much older man who wants her for her money, but whose suit has been sanctioned by her parents. She escapes to her ancestral home in Cornwall, hoping for the protection of her grandparents. They give it, but no sooner is she safely behind the walls of the Cornish estate on a cliff than they are foisting another older man on her.

When the hero Rowan Curnow begins to show his attraction, she doesn’t trust his love. Her grandparents try to point her toward the Savior, but she feels their love is conditional–if she behaves properly, they will love her and give her their blessing. If she acts the way she wants to act, which is an unconventional way for a gently-bred young lady of the regency period, they will be shocked, displeased, or, worse, disappointed.

It’s not until her life and those of the ones she loves are threatened by an outside danger that Elizabeth begins to understand why she has been running from God’s love all these years and why she has put her trust and love in her ancestral home.

220px-Land's_End,_Cornwall,_England
Land’s End, Cornwall

A Lady’s Honor takes the heroine on a spiritual journey without which she is not able to give and receive the kind of love the hero both demands and deserves.

This was a wonderful story, reminiscent of the gothic novels of Victoria Holt and Daphne Du Marier. I could just imagine being in Cornwall, smelling the sea spray, hearing the tide come up, tasting the pasties at the fair, and shivering at the mysterious threats around every corner.

First the Cliffs of Cornwall series, Lady's Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.
Cliffs of Cornwall series, Book 1, A Lady’s Honor by Laurie Alice Eakes.

 

Thankful for Life ~ by Susan Karsten

Hi, all!

My thoughts and prayers are with the pro-life movement more than ever these days because my daughter is involved with a Teens 4 Life group, and does fund-raising and essay-writing to advance and support the cause of life.

What does this have to do with Regency England? A controversial author in those days was the Rev. Thomas Malthus. His erroneous fears that population would outstrip resources gained credence and even today, his anti-life stance is still studied.

Not so, in his case.

A surprising defender of life (though not on Biblical grounds) of that day was the author Shelley, who wrote about “the hardened insolence of any proposal to rob the poor of the single alleviation of their sufferings and their scorns.” The famed political writer Cobbett also called Malthus a ‘monster.’

The battle against life has been going on since the Garden of Eden. But we have God’s word to guide our minds and we all know the eighth commandment “Thou shall not murder.”

My 8 year-old niece recently saw my daughter’s fund-raising display and said, “It wouldn’t be okay for a baby to kill an adult, so it’s not okay for an adult to kill a baby.” So well said, little one.

So true.

So, let’s always choose life. Jesus has defeated death and we are on His side.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” Deut. 30:19 (ESV)

Portraits of Our Mothers

mother

The Washington Post headline read: “Survey: Half of women say they don’t have enough free time”. I confess that I laughed when I saw it on my Smartphone screen. No kidding? Half of us have enough hours in the day while the other half of us are just trying to make it through with our sanity intact? Whether it be for maintaining a household, rearing children (aka making sure they don’t destroy the house most days), focusing on a career or investing in the relationships in our lives, do women really have much “time to ourselves” to speak of? I wasn’t sure, especially since I was doing some quick reading during the halftime of my son’s soccer game.

Author Mom
Portrait of Madame Emilie Seriziat and son (Jacques-Louis David, 1795. Oil on canvas) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When thinking about our topic of alfresco activities in the month of May, I just couldn’t let go of this concept of time. What would we do with scads of it to spend as we choose? Did I really have to sneak in a little research time in-between quarters for the soccer game? As Mother’s Day approaches, I had to wonder if time is an activity in and of itself  – and not just for women in the year 2013. We modern woman have entered the workforce with a vengeance, going from working an average 8 hours per week (at a paying job) in 1965 to working an average 21 hours a week in 2011. A whopping 56% of employed mothers with children under eighteen say it is very or somewhat difficult to maintain a balance between work and their home life (USA Today). And in 2011, women reported spending an average of 13.5 hours per week with their children.

With those stats, why wouldn’t we think that maintaining careers, taxiing kids to soccer fields and dance class, popping dinner in the microwave and rushing through the occasional load of laundry makes us busier than mothers in the Regency Era? After all, Jane quoted that a mother would have always been present. That must mean a mother had little by way of responsibilities in 1812, right? Wrong. She had more to do than choose fabric for her next ball gown, that’s for sure.

Author Mom 2
The Good Mother (Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 18th century. Oil on canvas.) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting books I read in college was A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785 – 1812 (by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). Martha Ballard was a Regency Era woman, mother, and midwife living in eighteenth-century Maine. (If you want a picture of the hard-working Regency Super-Mom, this lady was it.) She ventured out on ice-covered lakes to deliver babies in the middle of winter. She managed to have nine children of her own while performing duties akin to that of a physician on a somewhat regular basis. She maintained her frontier home in rugged New England and fashioned a domestic economy as an herbalist and healer. (Career. Kids. Balancing work and home. Sound familiar?) I recommend this book for a candid look at the Regency from a fresh angle – maybe to see a connection between those mothers of 200 years ago and the portrait of a special mother in our lives today?

When I think about the portrait that my sons have of me as their mother, I’d hope they could say what Jane Austen did in her quote; I was always present. Maybe I was stretched a little and couldn’t give every moment, but I would hope I was always present in the moments I could give. That I was indeed a constant friend and cheerleader. That the influence I had brought them up to fear the Lord, to grow in righteousness, and to always treat gently the women God has gifted into their lives. I would hope that they remembered the time – the honest-to-goodness quality time – their mother spent with them in their youth… That I put the phone away on the soccer field and stayed present in the moment at my son’s game.

I pray the portraits we women paint as mothers in this life (whether in the Regency or in today’s world) showcase an abundance of grace and beauty. I pray that they’re portraits of our mothers, just as they will be of us some day.

Portraits of our mothers on Regency Reflections…

Author Kristi Hunter
Author Kristi Ann Hunter, her mother, and eldest daughter
Author Susan Karsten
Author Susan Karsten (far right), her mother, and youngest daughter
Author Vanessa Riley
Author Vanessa Riley and her mother (left); Author Vanessa Riley and daughter Ellen on Stone Mountain (right)
Author Kristy Cambron
Author Kristy Cambron and her mother

Who is a special mother in your life? How has she invested the gift of time in your life?

 Have a blessed Mother’s Day!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

Interview with Author Mary Moore Interview — Part 2

Mary Moore, Regency Reflections contributor and author of Beauty in Disguise is with us Author Mary Mooreagain today, and just like yesterday, she’s offering to give away two copies of her latest Regency novel to two lucky blog visitors. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of the post to be entered in the giveaway. The giveaway will end Wednesday, January 16, at midnight.

1. Hi Mary, and thanks for being with us two days in a row. Today I’d like to ask you a few questions about writing Regencies and making your stories stand out. With the Regency Era being such a relatively short time in number of years; is it hard to create new storylines and fresh ideas?  

Normally, I would give you a pretty definitive no. There are a number of different voices and creative writers out there, who all have different perspectives and specific areas of interest on the period, and this results in some wonderful new stories every month. The growth in the research process and areas of expertise also adds a wonderful level of creativeness.

You will notice, however, that I started my answer with “normally!” After I signed the contract for Beauty in Disguise and scheduled it for release, my editor contacted my agent to tell us that there was another LIH already further along in the process with a similar premise to mine. As a relatively new author, I had no idea whether my editor would want to move back the date of release or ask me to propose a whole new story. But she thought the story would work out fine if I would just be willing to “tweak” it. I said yes, but little did I realize what “tweaking” it would mean!

2. How did they want you to change it, and how hard was that for you?

In our initial brainstorming session most of the changes seemed pretty much cosmetic. They really did like the premise and wanted to keep it if we could. So, we changed where the story was staged, the heroine’s dynamic with some of the other characters and some details about her past. But as I began the rewrite I realized that some of those changes affected the story much more than any of us anticipated.

3.Gulp. I was in a similar situation with a story once. I thought I was agreeing to some surface changes that got way deeper than I anticipated. Not fun! How did the changes for Beauty in Disguise differ from what you expected?

Originally, the build up to the “reveal” was pivotal to my story. But with some of the changes I made, my editor thought it watered down some of the conflict and, thereby, the impact too much. To increase that problem, they wanted the hero and heroine to meet earlier. So one by one, changes that started out as cosmetic ended up changing the storyline pretty drastically. There were quite a few more rewrites than my editor and I expected or wanted!

4.  How do you think these changes have helped to make your book stronger?

I usually have an inspirational message (and the verses of Scripture that go with it) in my mind ahead of time, and I write the story around it. In the rewrites of Beauty in Disguise, I began to get frustrated because either the message wouldn’t fit with the changes or the changes wouldn’t go with the message. I finally got to the point where I just gave the story to God. I asked Him to make sure it was His message that went out there instead of mine. Duh, right? So, in the end, having the story revolve around what He wants to say made the book exactly what it is supposed to be.

The postscript to the story is that one day I was in a hospital waiting room and I pulled out my Kindle to kill the time. I pulled up the first Regency I came to and I knew, on that very first page, that it was the other story…the one that came out before mine and sent me on this writing journey. I wanted to find someone, anyone, to say, “This is it, this is it,” until I realized how crazy I would have sounded. It was by an author I “knew” pretty well online. She and I have had a good laugh over it and I pray that God will be able to use both our stories to His glory!

5. Well, I’m glad everything worked out well between you and the other author. Are you excited to finally see the release of Beauty in Disguise?

That would be a giant understatement! It was by far tougher to write than my first one was, but it has also been a little over a year since my first one came out. I was ready to be out among readers again, and now I can move on to my next project. I am very blessed!

Thanks, Naomi, for your time and the interview. I am so happy to be associated with this site and all of the work everyone does here to support and spread the news about inspirational Regencies.

Here’s a little more about Beauty in Disguise. If you want to enter our giveaway, leave a comment below, and be sure to visit yesterday’s blog post for another chance to win Beauty in Disguise.

Hidden in plain sight.

After her scanBeauty Cover Fulldalous first Season, Lady Kathryn needs a new beginning. Concealing her stunning hair and sapphire eyes beneath a dowdy facade, she’s grateful to earn her keep as companion Kate Montgomery. Until she comes face-to-face with her past in Lord Dalton, the only man she has ever loved.

The debutante Dalton fell in love with years ago was beautiful beyond compare. The gentle, mysterious young woman he encounters at a country house has qualities he now values more highly—until he learns of her deception. Kate has broken his heart not once, but twice. Can faith help him see that love, like true beauty, always comes to light?

Tories, Whigs, Foxite-Whigs, Oh My. What shall become of us, Lord?

March 31, 1807,

Tories, Whigs, Foxite-Whigs, oh my. What shall become of us, Lord?

The government is not stable, barely lasting two years. My fears of invasion, a total loss of the country I know and love, fills my heart.

How can Providence allow such upheavals?

Why change from Pitt, to Grenville, to Portland? Is the title of Prime Minister difficult to hold?

I know I am just a woman. I should contend myself to my needlework. Surely, there are enough ribbons to be added to little Mary’s gown to make my mind numb to fear.

Yet, how can I even think of my girl coming of age in times like these. My heart aches at seeing her cast into this society where dissension reigns. She cannot be a war bride. No! Not her.

My thumb has turned painful. I yank the needle freeing it from the swelling flesh. I’ve pricked finger and  stained the satin hem.

Is this coursing of rouge a sign to come? Don’t our enemies in France lay in wait for our weakness? This turmoil is the proper time to strike.

I dispatch my maid for fresh muslin. I will not ruin anymore ribbons with my wringing of hands. Doubt will not save my country.

As I swaddle my hands in the soft cloth, my palms meet. A peace settles on my shoulders. The churning of my stomach quiets. I remember Your words.

Romans 13:1-4

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

So Pitt, Grenville and  now Portland… You ordained them to be Prime Minister, in such a time as these?

I slump in my chair. The very thought of this contention being God’s will disheartens me. Yet, the soft words of the passage sing in my soul.

Romans 13:5-7

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Now my heart is pricked. For I have not given tribute to the governing, just gossip and trepidation.  I repent of that Lord. I uncover my hands, slapping flesh to flesh, and pay tribute. I pray for Providence’s guidance and mercy to fall upon my leaders. It is the best offering I can render.

Spiritual Themes from A Flight of Fancy

Hi Everyone!

Naomi here, and it’s our last day talking about A Flight of Fancy, by Regency Reflections blog contributor, Laurie Alice Eakes. If you’re stopping by the blog for the first time this week, you’ll want to check out our previous three posts. We’ve had an Introduction to A Flight of Fancy, then Taking to the Sky (a post on Ballooning during the Regency Era), and an Interview with Laurie Alice Eakes. At the end of each post, there’s a Regency quiz question. For every question you answer correctly in the comment section, your name will be entered in a chance to win a Regency gift basket, complete with tea, biscuits, a mug, and an Amazon gift card. The contest ends this Saturday, October 13, at midnight.

Over the past week, we’ve introduced several different aspects about A Flight of Fancy and Laurie Alice Eakes. Today, as we conclude our discussion, I’m going to touch on the spiritual themes in the novel.

Both Cassandra and Whittaker have a rather physical past relationship. As two Christians accountable to God, and as two individuals living in the Regency Era, any physical relations before marriage are clearly wrong. However, Cassandra and Whittaker push limits in this area time and time again.

In the first chapter of the story, Cassandra and Whittaker test their physical relationship yet again (this aspect of the story is presented in a tactful manner). As a result, Cassandra ends up severely injured, so much so that she nearly dies. Once she recovers physically, she’s still left with permanent, visible scars, and she doesn’t feel fit to ever marry.

Cassandra thus calls off their engagement. Though she and Whittaker still have deep feelings for one another, they both suffer a terrible amount of guilt throughout the course of the novel. The guilt haunts them and clings to them, almost like a sticky tar neither can wash from their skin.

Both Cassandra and Whittaker need to turn to God, confess their sin, and accept His forgiveness. But they struggle. After all, it’s very hard to accept forgiveness from God (or even another person) when one refuses to forgive himself or herself.

I personally found this story a refreshing reminder of how strong God’s forgiveness is. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Sometimes in our desire to serve and please God, it’s easy to become stuck on our past mistakes and sins rather than to leave them at the feet of Christ. As we dwell on those sins, we become discouraged and even distracted from serving God.

The solution? Don’t wallow in past sin. Accept God’s forgiveness and focus on making future choices that honor God.

How are you coping with past sin in your personal life? Are you confessing it to God and leaving it with Him, or are you carrying it around like an unseen burden on your back?

Today’s Question (remember one correct answer will enter your name into the gift basket drawing):

Geoffrey Giles, Earl of Whittaker, is the hero in A Flight of Fancy. How should he be addressed?

A: Lord Geoffrey

B: Lord Giles

C: Lord Earl

D: Lord Whittaker

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Regency Quiz over the past week. We’ll be announcing the winner, as well as discussing the answers to the question, on Monday, October 15th.

This contest is now closed. Please see the final post for answers to the trivia questions. 

Too Full for God

Vanessa here,

Do you have room in your heart for anything else?  A new job to help with the bills, a fundraiser to feed the starving children, a sale at your favorite crowded shoe store.

Have you stacked your life with carpooling, lil’ Ellen’s ballet classes, and you’re-the-only-one-who-can ministry work, making a buck, oh and quality hubby time between 7:00 and 10:00 on Saturdays, that you’ve lost the meaning of having quality devotion?

I have.

This year seemed to be one in which many things had finally come to fruition: My novel, Madeline’s Protector is being published. My hubby stopped being deployed, at least for a little while. My firm just signed its biggest client.

Then reality came a knocking.

Revisions and more revisions to my master piece. (All the edits, including cuts were for the best.) So, now hubby wants me to go to bed at a decent hour. Doesn’t he know inspiration hits at 1:00 A.M. My client believes that they should be my only obligation. It get’s better. Their offices are an hour from my home, and they want this homeschooling principle partner to be onsite early in the morning, three days each week. I won’t mention their lack of understanding of how long something takes to develop and deploy software.

So I adjusted, code for reducing my devotion time and being less present with my family.  Surely, they won’t mind. I began dropping off/out of my net circles. There was no time to twitter or follow cherished loop threads. Thus, when I needed spiritual refreshment, I pushed away from God and those needed friends offering words of encouragement.

Yet, as I seek to get handle on this new normal, tragedy strikes. My younger brother is prepped for open heart surgery in Florida. He lives in Georgia near the rest of the immediate kin. He just visited a client when he started experiencing chest pains. With a torn Aorta, the odds of his survival were less than 25%. The doctor told him without the surgery, he’d die in less than two days.

All the cards of my life fell off the table. My hands trembled, and I choked backed tears as I tried to convince our mother that everything was going to be fine. I don’t remember what I said or did next, except speeding away from my ‘not-understanding’ client. I have flashes of begging Delta to let me an oversold flight to be at his side when he comes out of the five hour surgery.

While I waited for positive signs of recovery, him waking up, etc., I slept on a hospital couch. My 16th anniversary passed with just phone calls. My child’s upcoming birthday party went unplanned. Nonetheless, my client learned to survive. My book galley edits… Well, I’m thankful for the editing team.

The only positive, other than seeing Marc open his eyes and squeeze my hand, was finding time to increase my prayer time. After crying out to God  for days on end, I regained that sense of connection. I never felt His arms about me more.

Why must it take near tragedy to begin to re-prioritize? I know that others have even more on their plates. I can’t imagine the depths of the burdens each of you have weighing on your lives, the important demands nipping at your heels.  All I know, is that you must run and fall at His feet, collapse your weight into God’s warm embrace.

Sleeping in the meat-locker cold air in the hospital, sniffing the wonderful bleach-laced alcohol scents in the air, gave me the opportunity to see my life, how much I’d isolated myself from friends and family with the myriad of pursuits I’d packed into my life.

First, I must apologize to my friends and family. I’ve been on the edges of your lives, only dipping my head and nodding to appear as if I’m present and involved. Every second that we breathe is precious. Every moment has worth, not just the accolades or project deliverables.

I repent for all “my busy time.”  God made us to enjoy a Sabbath, every seven days.  I’ve made it into a seven-day work week. How can I give my best to my clients or to hubby and my lil’ girl, if my batteries are never recharged?

I need to say no. You can’t serve two masters or promise to deliver something that is not humanly possible.We all want to be the good guy, the go-to girl. I am going to have to find joy in slacking. Miss Eager Beaver is now going to be, Mrs. let-me-check-my calendar. It won’t be easy. Maybe there’s a 12 step program for saying no.

Lastly, no matter how “important” some deadlines or tasks seem, it will never be more important than finding time to commune with the Lord. He is the lifter of my head when all seems lost. He is the city on hill giving guidance to those stuck in the valley. I don’t ever want to have my heart so full, that I push God and dependence upon him out of the ventricles.

My brother is now recovering at home in Georgia. He’s a walking miracle. God has used this circumstance for all our good.

Be blessed and say no to all but God.