Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lessons to Learn from the Stripling Warriors.

The Promised Land near the city of Judea
66 B.C. The twenty-and-sixth year of the Nephite/Lamanite war

My feet pounded the ground as I ran; my heart thumped against my ribs. I did not know where my strength came from, for I had been running with my army of brothers for two days. I tightened my grip on the hilt of the double-edged sword and held up my shield, emblazoned with the noble crest of my heritage, as I charged towards battle.
No more would we run and hide.
No more would we look over our shoulders and wonder when they would attack.
I did not fear death.
God would deliver me.
God would deliver us.

What you have just read is the beginning of my fiction novel, The Forgotten Warrior, which will be in book stores in a matter of days. As you may have also deduced, this is the point-of-view of a warrior…a stripling warrior from the Book of Mormon. I wanted my readers to see, hear, and feel what a warrior might have felt as he charged toward battle, so I created Tarik, Captain Helaman's second in command. I also wanted to show how a girl, very savvy in defensive fighting in our day, might fair among the mighty warriors of the past, so I created Sydney Morgan, the herione of The Forgotten Warrior. We have more in common with the stripling warriors and Sydney than you might think. (painting below by A. Friberg)


Though we are not in an actual war, every day we fight against the same adversary. We fight in the war against Satan. He has been behind every contention since the world began. Now that is not to say that 'the devil made me do it' is a viable excuse, but he does tempt us to make bad choices as he has throughout the history of mankind. Those bad decisions give him great joy. So, why not learn from those who were valiant and withstood Satan's temptations? Because of the stripling warriors' faith in God they became steadfast and immoveable in defending their beliefs, just as we can become.

In conjunction with the release of my book, I thought I’d blog about how the stripling warriors not only fought against the Lamanites, but also against Satan. Perhaps by understanding their battles we can become strengthened to win our own.

In the next few weeks we are going to discuss the following:
Four of Satan’s temptations
A stripling warrior mini-history
Ten stripling warrior character traits you can apply to your life.

I look forward to blogging with you on these subjects in the weeks ahead.

Now to announce some of the Twelve Days of Christmas Contest winners.

Day 1
Winner of Counting Blessings: Debra Erfert from Yuma Arizona

Day 2
Winner of The Stranger She Married: Gayle Oreluk from Palos Hills, Illinois

Day 3
Winner of The Man From Arizona: Anna Carpenter from Mesa, Arizona

Day 4

Winner of Haunts Haven: Christa Johnson from Bagdad, Arizona

Monday, December 22, 2008

Traditions and a Contest

Traditions mean a lot during Christmas. Frosting sugar cookies and gingerbread men has been something our family has done for many years. We also gather together on Christmas Eve for dinner. I place a tapered candle next to each place setting. My husband will light his then tell of the blessings he’s received during the year. He then lights the candle of the person seated next to him and that person tells of the blessings they’ve received that year and so it goes around the table. (In the picture: my daughter, Kristina, my grandson, William, my son-in-law Greg, and I'm the one with the candle glow on my face.)
When all the candles are glowing we have a prayer over the food. It’s a small tradition, but one that seems to bring the spirit of Christmas into our home.

After dinner we assemble in the living room near the tree and fireplace. Everyone takes a turn either telling a story or singing a song. (In the picture: Greg and William)
My grandson and I tell the story of Christ’s birth with the aid of a flannel board and pictures. (In the picture below we had help from my daughter, Tricia and son, Ben.)
Christmas Eve has always been a magical evening of remembering what we’re grateful for and the birth of our Savior. Do you have favorite traditions that you observe during Christmas?
I’d love to hear about them!

Now what you’ve been waiting for…I am fortunate to participate in this fun contest put together by my friend, Joyce DiPastena, author of Loyalty’s Web. The following are her instructions to this adventure. Enjoy!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Contest, Medieval Style!

During the Middle Ages, the Twelve Days of Christmas did not refer to the twelve days preceding Christmas day, as it does now. Rather it began on Christmas Day and continued through the following twelve days, ending on January 5, the eve of Epiphany which was traditionally considered the day that the three Magi presented their gifts to the Christ Child.

So a few friends and I decided to put a bit of a spin on our Twelve Days of Christmas Contest, and run it “Medieval Style”. Beginning on Christmas Day, we will be giving away a gift a day for 12 days, running through January 5th. There should be something for everyone…an inspirational book, five historical romance novels, two children’s picture books, one YA time travel, even a ghost story! And if that isn’t enough, you can also win a gift certificate to a wonderful new sensory experience called Scentsy, and a handmade, hand-decorated, personalized mailbox.

RULES:

You can send in an entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:

(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and mailing address to jdipastena@yahoo.com.

(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: 12 Days of Christmas, Day 1; 12 Days of Christmas, Day 2, etc).

(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST

(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.

You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between Dec 26-Jan 6 to read the names of the winners.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yaoo.com.

And now…let the games begin!

Day 1 – December 25
Sponsor: Kerry Blair
Prize: Inspirational Book: Counting Blessings: Wit and Wisdom for Women, autographed copy
Website address: www.kerryblair.net
Website question: Name one of the two books -- e-versions -- that Kerry offers for free on her site. (Hint: Check out “Fun Stuff” tab)
WINNER:

Day 2 – December 26
Sponsor: Donna Hatch
Prize: Regency Romance, The Stranger She Married: e-book download
Website address: http://www.donnahatch.net/
Website question: What is Cole accused of doing? (Hint: Read excerpt of The Stranger She Married under “Bookshelf” tab)
WINNER:

Day 3 – December 27
Sponsor: Marsha Ward
Prize: Book: Post-Civil War action/adventure romance, The Man from Shenandoah, autographed copy
Website address: http://marshaward.com/
Website question: Where is the Bates family living? (Don’t confuse with the Owen family! Hint: Click on excerpt from The Man from Shenandoah under “Novels” on websites’s left hand tool bar.)
WINNER:

Day 4 – December 28
Sponsor: Joan Sowards
Prize: ebook Haunts Haven by LizAnne Bayh
Website address: http://joansowards.com/
Website question: What is the title of Joan’s 2008 Christmas song? (Hint: Look under “Christmas” tab for 2008 song)
WINNER:

Day 5 – December 29
Sponsor: Heidi Ashworth
Prize: $20 Amazon gift certificate towards purchase of her Regency Romance, Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind
Blog address: http://www.heidiashworth.blogspot.com/
Blog question: What is the last name of the hero in the novel Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind?
WINNER:

Day 6 – December 30
Sponsor: Kellydawn Zollinger
Prize: $25 Scentsy Gift Certificate
Website address: www.scentsy.com/luminescent
Website question: How many room sprays come in the “Scentsy Sampler” Multi Pack offered in the current catalog? (Hint: Scroll through the “catalog” tab to find answer. Or download catalogue to PDF for easier reading.)
WINNER:

Day 7 – December 31
Sponsor: Joyce DiPastena
Prize: Book: Medieval Romance, Loyalty’s Web, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.joyce-dipastena.com/
Website question: How is Gunthar received almost the moment he sets foot in Poitou? (Hint: check out “Books and Bio” tab)
WINNER:

Day 8 – January 1
Sponsor: Cindy Williams
Prize: Children’s Book: Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today, autographed copy
Website address: www.cindyrwilliams.com
Website question: What is the name of the fantasy book about dragons that Cindy is writing? (Hint: check out “Home” page or “Books” Tab)
WINNER:

Day 9 – January 2
Sponsor: Liz Adair/Cecily Markland
Prize: Autographed copy of Counting the Cost, new novel by best-selling author, Liz Adair
Website address: www.inglestonepublishing.com
Website question: What is the title of the workshop Liz Adair presents for writers and family history buffs? (Hint: It's the same title as the 28-page booklet by Liz that Inglestone Publishing also published. Check out the Bookstore tab.)
WINNER:

Day 10 – January 3
Sponsor: Lori Conger
Prize: Children’s Picture Book: My Squishy Pants, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.loriconger.com/
Website question: Why doesn’t Jonah want to wear his pants to school? (Hint: This one’s on the “Home” page)
WINNER:

Day 11 – January 4
Sponsor: Kathi O. Peterson
Prize: YA Time-travel: The Forgotten Warrior, autographed copy
Website address: http://www.kathiorampeterson.com/
Website question: What attribute has Sydney Morgan never had? (Hint: This one again is on the “Home” page)
WINNER:

Day 12 – January 5
Sponsor: Teri Rodeman
Prize: Personalized mailbox
Blog address: http://terirodeman.blogspot.com/
Blog question: How many years has Teri Rodeman been owner of the LDSForeverFriends Google Group? (Hint: Check out the right hand side of the page)
WINNER:

Good luck and Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

StiLle Nacht! HeiLige Nacht!

I don’t think I can ever look at those words without thinking of the Christmas stories that took place during World War I. Some people don’t believe such a miraculous thing could happen during war. Funny how distance of time can make memories fade or how those who don’t believe seem to have louder voices than those who do. Wanting to include this event, if it really happened, in my nonfiction book, The Kids' Books of World War One, I did some research. Not only did I find many accounts of that night, but even some pictures (some staged to show the event, but also newspaper photos). Since we are to soon celebrate Christmas, I thought I'd summarize what I read and also provide a website where you can read accounts of both sides by soldiers who were actually there.

Let's set the scene...as Christmas in 1914 approached, Pope Benedict XV requested a ceasefire from both the German and Allie Forces. The request was rejected. In fact, the British thought the Germans would use the holiday to launch a major assault and sent out a warning to all units to be especially watchful during Christmas.

Christmas Eve brought bone-chilling weather to the front. The ground was frozen, which was a welcome change from the mud, but now that sticky mud, which caked the soldiers’ coats, was frozen to them. That night one Allie unit was assigned to sneak out in No-Man’s Land (an area between German and Allie Forces where hand-to-hand combat took place) and dig posts in the frozen ground where they planned to add more barbed wire to help with their defenses. The men were skeptical about hammering the posts certain it would draw the attention of the Germans. But as soon as night fell, they went about their assignment.

As they crept out into No-Man’s Land the night was eerily silent, which was most unusual. By moonlight they set to work always on their guard for the enemy. Close to midnight they noticed a strange light appearing on the German parapet. Some in the Allie trenches thought it was a type of weapon and fired. But no return fire sounded.

The men working on the posts wondered if the Germans were using a new type of lantern, but the glow was most unusual. Suddenly they heard “Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!” from the German trenches. The Allies flatten themselves on the frozen ground certain they were about to be attacked.

No attack followed. Instead more lights along the German parapets appeared. As the Allies peered at the strange glow, they realized the lights were candles on Christmas trees. The Germans were celebrating Christmas! All at once on the misty threads of the cold night air a baritone’s voice was heard singing “StiLle Nacht! HeiLige Nacht!” (Silent night, holy night.) The Allies could hardly believe their ears. It was as if they’d become part of another world delivered from the nightmare they’d been living.



Christmas morning brought even stranger events. As the fog cleared soldiers from both sides left their trenches, walked past the barbed wire, and met each other in No-Man’s Land. They shook hands. A sort of unspoken truce had been called. Both sides respectful for each other set to work taking care of their dead. After their fallen troops had been laid to rest, the Germans and Allies once again came together and this time they offered each other presents of cigarettes, cigars, jams, and beer. They even played a good game of football.


Incidents such as this happened up and down the battle lines. The leaders of both sides were concerned for their men and after a while ordered them to resume their posts. They reluctantly complied. Sadly a Christmas truce was never struck again during the long years which followed.


Despite rumors to the contrary, the impossible did occur during a time of war on Christmas Eve 1914. Songs have been sung and stories have been written of this event. Check out the following sites if you'd like to learn more.

The Christmas Truce, 1914:
http://www.fylde.demon.co.uk/xmas.htm

Christmas in the Trenches:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA&feature=related

And remember this Christmas Eve as you celebrate with your families and friends that almost a hundred years ago an unspoken truce visited the battle front of WWI.

Do you know of another incidence during war when soldiers celebrated Christmas? I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Warriors Are All Around Us

Warriors

Last week I asked the question, who is a warrior. I received wonderful comments on and off my blog site.

One comment was…a warrior is one whose courage and faith goes beyond that of the common man or woman, whose heart is tender yet strong, and whose life is lived without thought of self (thanks, JoAnn). I found these words very inspiring and they made me think of the brave people who have fought for our country.

December 7th was the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My daughter, Patrizia, happens to be in Hawaii and toured that hallowed site. Many warriors lost their lives on that day, lo those many years ago. Their courage and valor should never be forgotten. They were truly men and women who lived without thought of self, giving the ultimate sacrifice during that frightening day which changed so many lives. During those horrifying moments, I believe there were many acts of heroism without thought of self.




Pearl Harbor Day of Attack
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt13c3olXkU&feature=related

Another comment on my blog stated…We are all warriors. We might not carry swords or guns, but we all have to be on guard ready to fight for our children (thanks, Jo). This is so very true! Children face bad influences every day in their entertainment, schools, and even their friends. Every day people must be on their guard and protect their children yet at the same time teach them to love and show compassion to even their enemies. That’s a very hard balancing act, especially in this day and age, but one so very necessary. A warrior should not only be fearless, but merciful.




Yet another comment spoke of visiting an uncle who was in the hospital. He had joked and talked with her, making her feel at ease. After she left she remembered something she needed to tell him and returned to his room unnoticed. She saw by the unguarded expression on his face that her uncle was in a great deal of pain that he’d hidden from her. She said…while I admire grand acts of valor─invaluable for inspiring courage─small amounts of unsung heroism say something magnificent about people (thanks, Kathleen). This is a great reminder that even those who seem incapable of heroic acts, do them in ways we may never see.

I’ve thought a lot about inspiring acts of courage that go unnoticed. This last week a dear friend of mine called and told me her cancer had returned. Oh how my heart aches for what she must face in the days and weeks ahead. Another friend has been waging a battle against colon cancer for over eight months. These two magnificent people are warriors fighting a horrible foe with courage and valor that cannot be measured.

People are warriors not only when it comes to catastrophic events, but also when protecting their children, or fighting a battle against a life-threatening illness.

Warriors are truly all around us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

WHO IS A WARRIOR?

For many the word “warrior” conjures up diverse images: Vikings, knights, soldiers, and even stripling young men too young to see battle, but willing to serve. A little over a week ago my editor sent me the cover of my book, The Forgotten Warrior.

After reading the title and gazing at the hand holding the sword you immediately think of a warrior, but do you know if that hand belongs to a male or female? Is that person young or old? Could that person be you or me?

Just who is a warrior?

Warriors have long been thought of as male with good reason. Men have fought in many wars around the world during different eras. The Viking warriors left their homes in search of food. Many believed they plundered, but what is plundering for some is survival for others.


The brave knights who fought during medieval times and were asked to protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all must have found it hard to live up to such a standard, but most did.


Our military today strives for similar ideals. They leave home and family to travel halfway around the world to serve their country. Not many can claim such devotion.

Another group, who were just as devoted, lived long ago in Book of Mormon times.



Gallant aspirations were also those of Helaman’s stripling warriors. Because their fathers had made a covenant with God to never kill again, these boys─who had never fought─stepped up to fight in their place. The stripling warriors honored and respected their families, their country and their God. These brave young men went to war to protect, defend, and help their people.

Have you noticed when talking about warriors familiar words pop up? Family, survival, protect, defend, and fight are but a few words that continue to come to mind. Are these words gender based? Could a warrior be not only male, but also female?

In modern times it has not been unusual to hear of women on the frontlines. But did you know that during WWI hundreds of women volunteered to fight for the Russian military? They were known as the Russian Legion of Death.

Their leader was Colonial Maria Yashka Botchkareva. These women saw battle in 1917 during the Kerensky Offensive. Though fifty of them were killed, they forced the Germans to retreat, took over a hundred prisoners and remained on the front lines. Botchkareva was wounded three times during her service in the war and became known as the Russian Joan of Arc.

Speaking of Joan of Arc…during her short life of nineteen years she rose from being a peasant girl to leading the French army during the Hundred Year War. Burned at the stake by the British, she was later declared a martyr and canonized.

As you can see from history and from our modern times the word “warrior” is not necessarily gender or age based. When you look at the cover of my book, I hope you continue to wonder if the hand is that of a male or female. I’m not going to tell, but know this─it is definitely the hand of a warrior.

Does the word warrior apply to you or me?

Of course!

In someone’s life you are a warrior…a hero. Someone looks up to you whether you have fought in actual battle, have championed a cause you believe in, or have shown great faith in family, country or God. You are someone’s hero…someone’s warrior!

Who is a warrior? Tell me who you think is a warrior.

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