Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"The Virtuous Woman" Had Maids!!

Please take a second and see if you know this woman missing from Orlando. Click on Thank you.


Jan 31, 3:57 PM EST

Today is the 31st and I read reluctantly, once again, Proverbs 31, about "The Virtuous Woman."

I sooo do not relate to those perfect standards. I try, though, I really
try! (See photo below of a not-that-virtuous woman goofing off in an old abbey ruins in Scotland. Posing as a non-saint--not that hard in my case!)

The real Virtuous Woman (is married, Hollyweird notwithstanding) does housework, raises her children, buys a field and plants a vineyard, even makes blankets for her beds.

All right, I realize we can substitute modern applications of this, and run down to the latest no-longer-White Sale and buy electric blankets or the new Vellux ones, etc.

But she has it all. Does it all. And all at the same time.

Or does she? That's just it: I finally decided, I don't believe it's all at the same time.

The Bible doesn't say it all happens together. It just lists all her accomplishments without any time frame.

Except for early morning, when she gets up and feeds her maids! Plural! The Virtuous Woman had maids!

What I take from this is that she accomplished a lot over her whole life, and had a lot of help along the way.

Vacuum cleaners and washing machines? Mmm, simple homes in Solomon's time didn't require a lot of work, yet she had helpers. Our homes require a lot of work.

I think maids is maids and we should have maids! I'm workin' on that.

Meanwhile, thank God for Flylady.net who teaches how to work smarter, not harder, and have plenty of time left over for other worthy pursuits.

But I digress. The Lord says:

The Virtuous Woman is worth more than rubies.

She is to be praised by her children.

She is to be praised by her husband.

She is to receive her reward.

The Lord obviously loves women, and wants us diligent in service to our families and to our own self-fulfillment.

But I feel that women today have been sold a rotten bill of goods: We can have it all, and all at the same time. I don't think so!

I see a rising divorce rate. Not judging anyone, here, who has had a divorce! Not at all. I haven't walked a mile in your moccasins.

But there's a problem when the divorce rate is as prevalent among Christians as in the world.

I see a lot of problems with our children. I keep reading about inappropriate, um, encounters on middle school buses (Thanks to one very famous bad example that will go unnamed) or on campus, and observed and cheered on, even video-taped by young classmates. These kids could benefit from a lot more availability and training from over-worked parents.

I see a rise in overall bad manners and selfishness, from loud music and loud cellphone conversations in public, to road rage. (The latter from lack of sleep, some say. Big surprise!)

Addressing some of these problems is an excellent book, Simple Social Graces by Linda Lichter, which ought to have a stronger and more descriptive title. It sounds like a nice little etiquette book. Not.

It covers the alarming loss of quality of life, today, compared to the gracious way of life of the Victorian Era.

And no, Lichter says, the Victorians weren't prudes. Freud gives us that impression. He wrote in the Victorian era, about abnormal, unhappy people. Not much is written about average, happier people, because they were not what Freud or Jerry Springer or even Oprah would ever have the opportunity to interview. The Victorians were reticent, respectful and discreet. Some things, they kept private and special. Even sacred. Imagine! But they were not prudes. Queen Victoria really gets an unfair rap, Lichter writes. You'd be surprised.

Mainly, Lichter says that without manners and morals, we are at the mercy of one another's whims.

Women, being smaller and more vulnerable, will not come out ahead!
Read this book!

And this rant is not to lay a guilt-trip on women who have to work in order to put food on the table. My heart and blessings go out to those women.

But to those who just want to go out and "find themselves," as they used to say a lot, I suggest: Wait! Stay home. Before your kids get lost. Before you and society get lost!

A woman who trains her children well definitely is worth more than rubies.

My heroine is the diligent, devoted mother of a baby girl. The baby contracts an illness that has no cure but prayer. The heroine is also an artist, and rather fits the stereotype--emotional. Sad to say, because of a desperate need to find a certain answer, she's been dabbling in the occult and paying the price.

And she doesn't know it, but one of the important men in her life is a murderer.

Most of us don't have such problems! We just have to decide what to cook for breakfast. For our maids. I'm still workin' on the maids part.

Then I'll have more time to write!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tempest over a teacup, sort of....

All my characters surprise each other with their secrets. My heroine feels guilty of causing the deaths of two people she cares deeply about, as I've already mentioned. Later in the story, her beloved mother-in-law reveals a secret in order to comfort the heroine. But the heroine accuses her of terrible hypocrisy. We also discover the villain we hate to love because he's funny and caring, has a reason for his evil. Yet, he must not go free after what he's done.

The surprises build toward the ending.

Sometimes God surprises us, too, doesn't He? My husband had to go to Tokyo, and his boss's wife and I surprised ourselves by tagging along.

We explored the beautiful city of Tokyo, met Joel Cuellar, a pastor from Tokyo Baptist Church, went shopping at the Oriental Bazaar. There we found a teacup with a geisha's face inside the bottom, chopsticks and odd little holders, musical jewelry boxes that play "Sukiyaki" (yes, I bought one,) all sorts of fun things.

But, after finding our way the whole distance from our

hotel to our destination, we couldn't find the exit from the subway.

"I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole!" I told her.
Next day, without leaving the hotel, this time, lol, we attended a lovely tea ceremony. The beautiful young geisha served my friend the green tea matcha powder stirred in hot water with a bamboo whisk and poured into a white stoneware cup with no handles.

Then, I was served. What a surprise to receive a light blue porcelain cup with a small character from that classic, not-very-Japanese tale, Alice in Wonderland-- the White Rabbit!

Don't you just love the Lord? Isn't He fun? I guess there are those who would think that's silly. That's just a coincidence. But I believe that coincidences are His smiles and frowns. And this was a smile, blessing a child of His having fun.

Again, for the skeptics: The more I attribute to His gracious hand in my life, the more I seem to see it. God is so good.

Click on Comments, below, if you'd like to share a surprise or coincidence--God-incidence--in your life. I'd love to hear it!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Life-changing Fiction! _Lost Shepherd_

On Mick Silva's blog, he poses the question, how relevant do we Christians feel in society today? My answer goes along with the concepts presented in the book mentioned earlier, Read for Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System

One of the most relevant stories I ever read is Lost Shepherd.

Out of print, now, but available, used, on Amazon, it's about a minister whose church is dying on the vine, and a strange woman down the street who prays for the minister's injured nephew. The young man gets well--too fast for comfort.

What will the vestry (or board of deacons, whatever) say???

The pastor tells the woman to leave his nephew alone....

She also has a favorite memory of a dear friend, a boy where they had lived as children in the Orient, who had heard the screams from the fields of torture. She moved away; eventually, he quit writing, and she lost track of him.

There's a lot more, new thoughts and applications for the pastor, with new people, a new love, and a stranger from the past.

It's powerful food for thought by the late Agnes Sanford, who writes of foreign mission fields and things we in the sheltered and skeptical church in the USA never heard about.

But ask any missionary. God hasn't changed a bit. His church has.

And now, we long to be taken seriously, while "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof."

My heroine gets an awesome taste of power, some good and some bad, but all real and all part of what one author called "The normal Christian life."

But as we all probably learned in seventh grade health class, "normal" and "average" are two different things.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Read for Your Life

In his fascinating Read for Your Life--Literature as a Life Support System, Joseph Gold says that experiencing other people's life situations in fiction causes real reactions in our minds and bodies.

The instructor in a Christian counseling class I took recommended the book.

Gold often assigns certain novels as therapy because we learn important things about ourselves and others as we imagine ourselves in those situations, share their emotions, and make judgments on the characters' actions and reactions--and what we would do in the same situation.

I also read an article about feeling empathy while reading a novel and the effects the feelings have on the brain's neurons.

Haven't we all had pounding hearts, tears, laughter while enjoying books or movies?

These references conclude that fiction--yes, fiction, which is often disparaged as not worthy of consideration--can be very beneficial--or harmful--to our minds and spirits.

No wonder St. Paul said, "Whatsoever things are pure, lovely, think on these things...." Philippians 4:19

It's nice to be open-minded and informed and entertained, but--we're warned to be careful what we dwell on: "Guard your hearts," Proverbs 4:23 LNT tell us, "for it affects everything you do."

My happy-go-lucky heroine gets into some bad stuff in her rebellion and anger at God. She blames herself for two deaths and turns to all the wrong sources for peace and solutions.

Her darling husband had warned her, "Get into a playpen with serpents, and sooner or later, you get bitten." She does--and she does. I show her with headaches and anxiety and some real problems from her dabbling.

But the prayers of others who love her, plus her own courage and general good nature also affect this sweet and wounded woman. She turns a corner, toward God and the man who loves her. (But which one?)

What would you have done in her position, feeling what she felt? Who really knows, until it happens to them? Would your faith have kept you on the straight and narrow? Would mine? I believe so, but--

She sees the reality of spiritual warfare. But the reader dwells on her--and our-- victory in the Lord over the power of the enemy--with love and laughter in the process.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Olive Trees & Armageddon

Spurned by the heroine, my secondary hero flees New Orleans for Israel to discover his Jewish roots. Injured in a bombing, he sits with the secondary heroine, leaning against an ancient olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane, and tries to make sense of things he has seen and heard. Later, with his US Air Force training, he flies in the Six-Day War. Will he ever go back to New Orleans and the woman he left behind?

Obviously, the story takes place in the not-too-distant past. I guess it would be considered a Modern Historical.

Visiting Israel a few years ago, our tour group had lunch at a cafeteria where we carried our styrofoam containers outside and sat on the grass on the slope above, would you believe, Megiddo.

The site of Armageddon. The Valley of Jehoshophat. The Final Battle.

One of the group read from the book of Revelation as we ate our sandwiches and surveyed the scene and savored the contrast between peace and styrofoam, and the future war with blood up to the horses' bridles. Yes, horses.

There are many schools of thought about when that will or did take place. It's not a matter of salvation, and not agreeing shouldn't be a matter of not fellowshipping.

That said, I'm of the school of thought that it's in the not-too-distant future.

We're told to "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem," but we know there will be no lasting peace until the return of the Prince of Peace. And things seem to be falling right into place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Second-Fattest Woman in Paris!

The heroine of my book tours Paris and takes note of how slim are the Parisiennes. Back home in New Orleans, she tries to follow the French regimen. But, in general rebellion because of tragedy in her life, she turns to food for comfort instead of to the Lord. As in, mm, too much cafe' au lait and sugary beignets at the Cafe' du Monde ! She's forced to buy bigger bell-bottoms! 

Like my heroine, alas, I must mend my ways.

In Paris a few years ago, we had lunch in Montmartre, up that hill of many steps where the artists paint behind the big white church, Sacre Coeur.

We ordered soup. The saucy waiter smirked. "You want Freedom Fries weeth that?"

I laughed and said, "Vive la France!" Long live France.

We Americans get mad at the French, but don't we all just need more of the Lord, and need to be more like Him?

I mean, check out this article, 112 Gripes about the French, which  I found on Siri Mitchell's blog, Siriously Siri.

The Parisians were kind to us--probably because I spoke a little French--they immediately went into English to out-do me, lol--and probably because we wore dark shoes!

(I read that Parisians think we're too casual in sweats and tennis shoes while touring their pretty city. And here, alas, my toes are dusty from doing what the French do--walked a lot....)

Anyway, as we toured that world-famous city of stylish women, I noticed I was the second-fattest woman in Paris!

Later, an article caught my attention. Two pretty women, one Japanese and one French talk about staying slim. They eat lots of fruits and veggies and use meat, cheese and butter in small increments like condiments--never for a meal--while Americans would have a huge steak.

In the book, French Women Don't Get Fat, it's stressed that they eat slowly, walk a lot.

But from what I read later, the fattest woman in Paris ate American fast food. The French call it McDo's. Their weight is going up, too. The average French woman is 5'3" tall and 137 pounds. That doesn't sound too willowy to me. Say it isn't so! I need them for inspiration! *sigh!*

When the Japanese woman moved to America, she gained 25 pounds in two months. When she went back to her mother's Tokyo kitchen, she lost it without trying. She recommends taste-free canola oil. Well, I'm already using the Mediterranean Diet's olive oil.

A few years later, I was blessed to tag along on my husband's business trip to Tokyo. I was so excited.

I loved the song, "Sukiyaki," the number 1 hit in 1963--knocked It's My Party off the number 1 spot--by Kyu Sakamoto

The deejays couldn't pronounce the real name of the song, so they called it "Sukiyaki." Maybe now, I'd taste the real sukiyaki.

So, here I am after breakast--pancakes--at--you can see it in the background--McDo's! Zut! Shame on me! But to these Western eyes, octopus and squid first thing in the morning was not a pretty sight! Another morning, at a Japanese restaurant we had eggs and salad.

LOL, I felt like Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation."

(Loved that movie except one scene. When she says they're going to the place called Orange, I recommend hitting a button called Skip.)

But lunch and dinner were wonderful. Loved the food and the so-polite people and the clean, beautiful city of Tokyo, with its lace-covered taxi seats and drivers in white gloves, and ladies in kimonos to excort us to the hotel elevator. And garbage trucks that play music like our ice cream trucks!

Well, they say a sign of being crazy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. If I want to lose weight, I need to cut out some of the fat and use my feet more.

It's like that in my spiritual walk, too. *BIG sigh* I need to stop doing the same old things, cut the leaven--sin--and put feet on my prayers, and sometimes, being part of the answer as the Lord leads.

I still have a long way to go, but it seems the more I try, the more I see God's hand in my life! And that's fun!

That's victory.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Baby born in Paris taxi ! And Anointed Writing

"Winged Victory." Not me, this fabulous statue beside me in the Louvre in Paris.

I wanted to see her ever since I first saw her photo in art history in college. What a thrill, the victory of reaching this goal.

The heroine in my story spends Christmas in Paris with her doting mother-in-law. She's avoiding Christmas at home in New Orleans. Her husband is no longer there.

She delivers their baby in a taxi in Paris, with the help of a comically inept cabdriver. He is surprisingly helpful, having coached his own wife "doing a new method by a Dr. Lamaze."

I can't wait for you to be able to read this fun chapter! (Friendly hint to editors out there!) That will be another victory.

My favorite verse, outside of salvation ones, is Acts 10:38. Every time I see 10:38 on a clock, I smile, thinking about it. And there have been some significant times.

Like in a shop in Israel when buying little silver star of David charms on silver chains for my daughters to teach them to love Israel and the Jews because everything we Christians have, we owe to them--the Holy Land, the Bible, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

I glanced at the clock. It was 10:38! Startled, I took it as clear confirmation of my plan.

I kept thinking about it, though, while standing in the long check-out line in that little shop, and after a while, I hesitated. They probably won't wear them. It's not their thing. Save your shekels! But if I do give the stars to them, someday, it may sink in.

I glanced at the clock again. Still 10:38! Amazing! Who knows when that clock had stopped?

It spoke to me: Stay with your original decision. It will sink in. (Whose shekels?)

I'm not talking about fortune-telling here, but God's smiles and reassurances and confirmations, just because He knows I love that verse so much and HE is so good.

Here's what Acts 10:38 says:
"How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit andpower, who went about doing good and healing *all* who were oppressed with the devil for God was with Him."

Even the Son of God needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do His work!

We have the same Power Source as the Son of God! Can you imagine??? Is that ever awesome!

But if we want that anointing, and victories in Him, we have to be obedient and keep our minds and hearts on Him. Easier said than done, but He loves to help us.

No wonder we are commanded, "Be (continually) filled with the Holy Spirit."

Yes, He will help our writing. Our anointed writing. And our anointed anything else He leads us to do.

In Him, we'll have victory.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Year's Greetings from Margo Carmichael

Hi, Margo Carmichael here,

Showing a wee bit of the bonny Clan Carmichael tartan. Carmichael is a place in southern Scotland, as well as an attitude. An attitude of fun and mystery.

So, I've written a mystery. Or an inspirational woman-in-jeopardy or supernatural suspense, whichever the market wants most! And whether mystery or a suspense, it will remain as such until it is published. And it's presently under consideration by some of the best editors and agent in the business, so, we'll see!

Here's a clue: A woman marries a Navy pilot, loves an Air Force pilot, and dates a killer! Too bad she doesn't know about the killer!

Most of it takes place in New Orleans, plus Pensacola and its beach, Paris, Petra, and Israel. The lady gets around to some wonderful places. And the sequel is set in Scotland. I've been blessed to visit or live in all these places, and I hope my love for them shows through.

Meanwhile, I'll be leading a new Bible study in my woman's group. We'll start by talking a little about who is God and who are we. Like when Jesus told that mother of the dead boy "Don't cry." With His tender heart, He had to comfort her first. That's God in the flesh! That's God!
He created us and He loves us and He says "Don't cry." And a lot more. That's just the beginning, but that's the end of this post.

Glad you dropped by! Want to chat about these places? About writing stories? About Jesus? Leave a comment, if you like.

More later....