Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Historical Fiction Inspired by a Legacy

My grandmother at 16 years old, 1936
This past week, I visited my 93 year old grandmother. She lives in the same home my late grandfather designed and built in 1986. The walls, table tops, and bookshelves are covered with family photos and memorabilia ranging from 1900 to 2013...yep, over a century's worth of memories. We toured the nearby Smithsonians in Washington D.C. while we were there, but I must say, I was most impressed with the home in which we stayed. My childhood flooded to me, and my love for history was kindled every time I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen.
The legacy of my grandparents is a great one, and one tendril of it has wrapped itself around my heart and begun to sprout fruit in my writing.
My great great grandparents in Greece

My great grandparents were immigrants to this country. (Their story inspired my recent novel which I hope to publish some day.) They came from a depressed economy in Greece at the turn of the century, and tried to grasp the American dream in the coal mines of Carbon County, Utah. My grandfather spent his early years living with four sisters (his two year old brother died of pneumonia) in a tent on the side of a mountain, while his father and mother did their best to provide for their family. He often told us of the tale where he fell in a well, and of the time when he first saw an African college in Salt Lake City!
My grandfather as a child in the 20's
After researching for my novel, I learned that my Greek relatives were not accepted easily in the American culture. I learned that Greeks were considered, "the scum of Europe" and that my great grandparents most likely encountered discrimination.
My grandmother talked about being teased as children in Salt Lake City, and for some reason, it makes me more proud to know that no matter the unsteady ground upon which our roots were re-planted, my grandparents flourished into great Greek Americans.
My grandfather entered the Army, as an American, and fought in Africa, Italy, and all the way up to Germany...where he raided Hitler's summer home (the prizes he brought back from this are amazing!), and he freed the concentration camp in Dachau (the pictures of this are amazing!). He came back to a young family, and took the next step in the American Dream.
My grandfather, who grew up in a tent, began a booming construction business, which my uncles and cousin still own today, and have created a very well-respected name for themselves, and very successful projects as well.
From all this, I have realized why I love to write. Why history is so important to me. Why I am intrigued with certain eras of history. And it all lies in the memory of my grandmother, and upon the walls and shelves of her house.
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
It made my stomach sour when I went into the district...and saw people take for granted the sheer awe-inspiring history of our country; how we might be considered a joke in other countries, or a worst enemy, but yet, we've come such a long way. And my snippet of family legacy proved that to me all the more.
My great great grandmother in Greece
Some people say that history isn't's a waste of time to study it because it's all in the past. But I say, history is the key to who we are now, what we've learned, how we've grown, and possibly, what we might long for without really knowing it. Some things are better left behind, but then there are other things that might have slipped away with much regret, leaving us in a future that is a little less honorable, a little less safe, and without the men whose hard work and fighting gave us a gift of Freedom that we so often take for granted.

History is worth writing about. It's worth transporting readers into a different time and place, that really, is part of who they are, even if they don't realize it!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rock Your Babies

To all you young moms out there--be sure and take the time to rock your babies. 

It may not be politically correct now with all the books on crying it out...and I am not saying don't ever let your baby fuss before bed (although remember that there might be another reason besides them trying to manipulate you). 

But don't lose your chance to rock them every now and then. 
To smell their hair below your chin, to feel their warmth on your torso.

To lull them to sleep as you rock forward and back, 
sweet lullabyes on your lips, sweet coos on their tongues. 

A day will come when they will squirm, they won't want you so close.

Be sure and take the time to rock your babies. 
It's a sweet memory that every mama should treasure.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Children's Self-Image, Part 2

Today, I listened to Beth Moore speak. If any of you have taken one of her studies, or have had the privilege to hear her in person, then you know what it means to sit in the presence of a true God-speaker.
Over the past thirteen years, God has used Beth time and again in my life--to grow me, shape me, and inspire me to be a woman of His heart.

As you know from my last blog, one of my biggest prayers for my children is to grow to their full potential of how God has made them. And while I was speaking of the secular pressures out there previously, today Beth Moore showed me something more.

In 1Samuel, when David's qualities are mentioned as he was annointed by Samuel, and later by a servant of Saul, we see that David was quite an unusual man in our human way of thinking. He was a musician AND a warrior, he was a lowly shepherd AND an annointed king. He truly was a lion AND a lamb.

Something Beth said, struck me as a mother of boys and a wife of a very jack-of-all-trades kind of husband.

"When God finds a heart given over to Him, He forms from it a life with facets and features that normally wouldn't fit."

"He makes us unusual."

How could a Christian, who truly has the "activated spirit of God" within them, not possess such a three-dimensionality of qualities that our human minds expect to divide into boxes of male, female, melancholic, name the categories...?

My boys may be rough and tumble, sports-prone, full of energy-- but they are also compassionate, nurturing to their little sister, and very emotional creatures!

My husband is a hunter, an athlete, a man of strength and respect, but he is a musician, a nurturer, a man of compassion and tenderness.

Why do we, in the world AND in the Christian realm, short-change our men when it comes to not-so masculine qualities? As I read headlines of mothers who encourage their boys to be girls at younger and younger ages, I realize they are totally conforming to a narrow way of thinking about what it means to be a certain sex. To base this on the way our children interact in their environment, the tangible things they gravitate toward that we as a society have labeled gender-specific, is not focusing on what really matters--and that is the heart of the child. Even if they don't have the Spirit inside them, they are created in God's image, and He is a God of every good feature and facet we know--which are not male or female specific.
In a fallen world, this celebration of unique creation is being tainted with human explanation and permission to take the easy way out, and not focus on the heart but on the external appearance.

It is a worldly view to even consider internal qualities as masculine or feminine...especially in children of God. If they have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside their hearts, then don't you expect they might be tender warriors, or nurturing kings?

It saddens me to hear parents try and discourage their boys from being emotional--I've seen fathers scold their sons for showing tears. But it also enrages me to hear society try and squelch traits they consider "masculine" all in the name of political correctness and open-mindedness.

The more I understand God's will, the more I realize that this world is far from open-minded...that, it might be trying to push against old stereotypes, but it is just turning the old ones inside out...they are sterotypes just the same.

Praise God that we are truly unique according to His Purpose and His Spirit. It's so nice not to have to push against the grain when the heart is the limit!