Today we honor you

Proverbs 21:21

Whoever pursues righteousness and love
finds life, prosperityand honor.

Today we thank you (all military active, veterans, those we have lost in combat and their families) for your sacrifice, for your pursue of righteousness and freedom for all of us. We will never forget.

May God Bless you,

Happy Memorial Day!

Philip M. Bryant:Writing Militarily

Our last guest for 2011 is Historical Fiction Writer Phillip Bryant. This is a new side of fiction we’ve never explored at the Rising Muse, so for those history buffs out there, here’s a treat…

“Sometimes a good story can miss the mark when we lack the minutia of details that can transport the reader or give our plot realism. SometimesPhil these details are elusive unless time has been spent living the life we wish to portray. Although a brief article on civil war or military parlance can’t make up for having lived it, I will outlay some things that I hope will be helpful in creating realistic scenes, dialogue, plots, and character arcs.

I have always been a military history buff, the American Civil War being my favorite area of research but most periods of wars have drawn my interest. I’ve also been both a Civil War and WWII reenactor for over ten years.

One thing, no matter what period one is writing about, it was probably an era of conflict. What we see in movies and television is often inaccurate or cliché. Until the Second World War introduced a large and permanent standing army, our wars were fought by volunteer armies raised from state levees and disbanded as soon as peace was achieved. This brings the type of movie character we are familiar with, the fatherly sergeant, the young and inexperienced privates, into conflict with a very real dynamic that existed between soldiers and the command structure used at the time. For the Civil War time period, picking one or two published journals like Hardtack and Coffee by John Billings or Company Aytch by Samuel Watkins will give you an idea of soldier life. Another great resource is The Life of Billy Yank and The Life of Johnny Reb by Bell Irvin Wiley.

Do not assume that the army organization and functionality has remained static. Organization and how armies were used changed with tactics and wars. Here’s a quick guide to the basic elements of an army unit. These exist in any branch of the army (cavalry, artillery).

For Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican American War, Civil War, and Spanish American War the basic element was the company. The reason for this is that fire is massed in a tight formation, two ranks. The smallest element in the company was the comrades in arms, a group of four men who made up a skirmish group.

The next formation up was the battalion, a grouping of companies under the second in command of a regiment. It is rare that this unit is separated from the regiment but a battalion could be sent off on a small mission where it is not expected to run into much resistance. Picket (a string of vedettes along a long line like on a river bank separating forces or spread out along a line of miles whose purpose is to be an early warning for the larger force behind it) and garrison duty would be the only reason a battalion might be separated from their regiment.

The primary unit of all of these time periods was the regiment, made up of 10 companies that march, bivouac, and fight together. Volunteer regiments (as opposed to regular army regiments) were raised by the states and federalized for national service. They retained their state designation and the governor of each state had the power to grant commissioned officers. Volunteers were raised from each county in the state, sometimes from specific counties in the state and the volunteers being formed into companies from those who volunteered from that county, so that one served with men one knew already. This was a consistent practice up to WWII. Officers and noncommissioned officers would be elected after the formation of each company or the captaincy of each company would be commissioned by the governor and other commissioned officers by the same process. When writing about soldiers in these time periods, it was the regiment that held their allegiance most and governed their daily lives.

The next unit of note was the brigade, made up of between three to four regiments. When reading about these various wars and battles, one often runs into the brigade being mentioned most as tactics governed the movements of brigade sized units about the battlefield.

The third and fourth unit was the division (made up of three to four brigades) and the corps (made up of three to four divisions). These are forces made up of thousands of men and controlled by the commander of the army.

The last organization is the army, a grouping together in a geographical theater of operations (a term meaning anything from a state to a region to an entire continent). An army was usually comprised of a variety of organizational schemes. For instance, as the civil war progressed and the need to control the vast armies grew, army commanders used a variety of methods to group regiments and brigades together. Up until 1862 the largest designation was the division or, as at Fredericksburg, Right, Center, and Left Grand Divisions made up of several divisions. After the Union disaster of Fredericksburg, Corps were formed and Union armies kept these designations and organization for the duration of the war. The Confederate forces used different means of organizing itself and never adopted the Corps structure.”

PhilbioPhillip M. Bryant Attended the University of New Mexico and earned his bachelor’s degree in history and with a minor in American studies. He has been active in local New Mexico reenacting and on the national level is a member of the 23rd SNY as part of the Army of the Pacific, 1st Federal Division. He has been researching the American Civil War for over 25 years. His sources have included diary accounts, autobiographies, historical monographs and first-hand reports on the actions taken 150 ago published in the War of the Rebellion battle reports and War Department communications. Phillip lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife of 18 years, is a deacon, an IT administrator, served in the Army National Guard for 15 years, and is a long time history buff. His first novel is out and he’s working on the sequel now.

Phillip’s novel They Met at Shiloh is now available on Amazon!

Reader’s Choice: The Evolution of Thanksgiving

This is our last Reader’s Choice post for 2011. I want to start by thanking those who participated in. I will be sending you a little surprise on your e-mails, be on the lookout.

The question and very fitting for the holiday we are celebrating this week is, how did the Thanksgiving festivities evolved from the original festivities to what we do today? We were taught in school that pilgrims and Indians sat together with turkey and pumpkin pies and had a friendly meal together. History says it wasn’t quite like that.

So how did it happen?

It is said that the very first harvest feast between Indians and colonist was celebrated in 1621. The colonist arrived in the Mayflower the prior year. Not having the survival skills to whether the winter they stayed in the ship, but many were very sick and malnourished. The Indians (Squanto, a returned slaved who knew English and others) taught them how to cultivate corn, avoid poisonous plants and help them forge an alliance with a local tribe for their survival. So when everything the Indians taught them proved to be true and beneficial the colonist decided to celebrate a three day feast.

And they ate turkey?

Yeah, not quite; the exact menu is unknown. We know there were lobsters,

seals, swans and wild turkeys amongst the meats of choice. Personally I’m upset that we kept up with the turkey and not the lobster, nothing against the turkey, I love it…just a preference.

What it is known is that there were not all those pies that we currently eat. First of all the Native American didn’t eat much sugar and the sugar supply from the Mayflower had dwindled down by then, so no dessert.

So how did we get to the point where we are now?

From History.comIn 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author, among countless other things, of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.”

The bottom line is that currently we use Thanksgiving as the designated day to gather with family and friends, to remember the things that we are thankful for. It’s a good time to do inventory of all our blessings and realize that we have way more than we acknowledge some times.

For me, I’m grateful to be loved by the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the Lord of Lord, the King of Kings, my beautiful Jesus. I’m grateful for the family He has given me, for my gifts and talents. I thank Him for my friends and for the special people in my life. I am grateful for all my experiences, the good and the bad that have made me who I am. I’m grateful for my readers who have become my friends and source of inspiration. And of course for the four-legged child that’s curled up on my feet as I write this post, she’s my daily joy and reminder of what unconditional love looks like.

As always I love to hear from you. What things are you grateful for this year? What little and big blessings make your life meaningful?

Be Blessed

Join Naty Matos and 9 of her author friends at Women’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their eBooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!

http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011-book-launches

Prayers for those we lost

In our day to day, unless it is brought to our attention we are usually not aware of what is done on our behalf behind the scenes. I have family who have been in the military, to my knowledge nobody active right now. So even when I’m very grateful to the armed forces, I admit that I don’t think about it all the time because I don’t have people around me who are in active duty.

Sadly it was brought to the forefront this week when 30 of our finest where lost in the line of duty during a mission. This was the biggest loss since this senseless war started. Regardless of our feelings for our government and our war, the reality is that they are willing to go and fight for us day by day. As we are fortunate to have vacations, go shopping, watch television, speak our mind, practice our faith and go about our business these men and women are risking their lives for us to enjoy that freedom.

There’s not much that can be said but to express a sense of an immense gratitude to them and to their families for giving them to us. To let the families  know that there’s a country that truly appreciates your sacrifice, mourns with you, prays for your healing and restoration.

Christians getting tattoos

I had an interesting conversation the other day about tattoos. Like any form of art, they are quite interesting, some are really nice, and some are not. But the discussion was, Are Christians allowed to get tattoos? This discussion does not relate to those who come to Christ already with tattoos, we are talking about those who are already saved, didn’t have one and are now getting them or contemplating them.

For the longest time I was one of those raising the hand with Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.” (NLT), but is not as clear cut as that. First of all there’s the judgment part. If I am judging other people for getting tattoos, piercings or men wearing earrings, then I’m the one in trouble for judging. I’ve met true worshipers with all of those or some, these are Christian leaders who I truly respect for their spirituality and who have been mentors in my life. I admit that at the beginning I was conflicted. So I decided to do some research.

First of all I discovered that we need to read things in its context This rule and many others in the Old Testament were placed by God to avoid pagan rituals amongst the Israelites. He wanted for his people to be set apart and he still does. So does getting a tattoo makes you conform to what the world is doing? There are two schools of thought, some that say that the rules in Leviticus still apply to us, some that say they don’t. Well, I agree in Leviticus 19:29 when it says “Do not prostitute your daughter…”, but it also says two verses before, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard” (19:27) and we know that men have haircuts and shave everyday.

From the majority of the articles I read that do not attack the tattoos (meaning not necessarily approve of them, but don’t have the notion that they will send you to hell) I gather that it’s all in the motivation and heart. Even tattoos are a matter of the heart. Why do you want to get a tattoo? Is it to fit in within the culture? Will the tattoo bring more attention to you than to Christ? Remember that our ultimate goal is that He becomes greater as I become less (John 3:30)

Some people even claim that God has tattoos using the scripture of Isaiah 49:16 “I have tattooed you on the palm of my hands” Others have said that Jesus has a tattoo as well referring to what is said in Revelations 19:16 “On his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”

At the end, more than the focus of is it right for a believer to have or not a tattoo look at where your heart is. If you don’t have one, “are you looking at the sawdust in your brother’s eye while paying no attention to the plank in your eye? (Matthew 7:3) If you are considering one, why do you want one? Have you talk to God about it? Will getting one affect your relationship with God or make others stumble?

Personally I’ve looked at some and they are quite interesting, I could never get one and it goes beyond any religious convictions. I don’t see myself sitting for any extended period of time to be voluntarily poked. Also, I don’t think I could commit to a design. I don’t think I could agree to one color as my favorite color for my entire life, it used to be red, and somehow my mom says it used to be yellow and if you ask me now it’s blue. Can you imagine?

As always I’m interested in hearing your opinion. Let me know your thoughts and hope you have a blessed day.

Inequality

View of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island
Image via Wikipedia

 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me”

(Portion from the poem by Emma Lazarus the New Colossus, which is graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands)
                      ~

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.’

Matthew 25:34-36

Do you see any similarities in the passages before?

 My heart has been grieving for a while hearing “God fearing people” spew so much hatred towards others, just because they are different. I don’t understand why we can’t see each other as people. Instead we keep the barriers of races, socio-economical backgrounds, and gender. Do you really think that God sees us that way? I think that if God wanted us to look all the same and have the same he would have made us all the same.

If we are created in God’s image, there’s something beautiful in each human being that’s inherited from God himself, then why are we the ones separating when God is all about unity?

We complaint about how some people benefit from our labor and are not the best stewards of those benefits; and that may be true. Don’t you believe in a God of justice that will judge those who don’t steward what has been trusted in them? Don’t you believe in a God of provision that will take care of YOUR needs, therefore who cares what your neighbor has?

We are complaining about helping the tired, feeding the hungry, giving room for the homeless, clothing the naked, helping the sick and visiting the prisoner. I stand on the Word of God that says in Matthew 25:45 “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

Don’t we want to hear ‘well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) if we don’t do what is required, instead we will hear that  God placed those people in our lives and directly or indirectly we didn’t do what we were to do and we will be held accountable for it.

Did we forget when we were there? When it was us being the poor, the rejected, the ones in need? By us I don’t necessarily mean us, but maybe our ancestors, and if the hand of God and I’m sure someone else’s help, you and I would not be here. It’s time to embrace the Heaven culture, where our differences just enrich us instead of divide us.

Be blessed.

National Day of Prayer

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

All your children unite today to praise you and worship you. We thank you for your love, your mercy and your forgiveness.  Father we are grateful for your everyday provision. For everyday you give us breath, health, a roof over our heads we are thankful.

Today we ask you to protect our nation. We are grateful for those who everyday give their lives to defend our country, defend our right to peace. We pray protection over them and over their families whose lives are just as sacrificial as those in the field.

Lord forgive us for the inactivity of your body. For our refusal to move out of our comfort zones into the fields that you have called us to work. We ask you to refresh and revive our spirits. Give us your heart so that we see the pain in our brothers the way that you see it. Give us your mind so that we can purify our thoughts and work according to your purpose. Give us your wisdom so that we can make the right decision in our lives.

We ask you to protect our leaders, government and religious. These are the people called and chosen to guide our nation. They are in need of wisdom, they are in need of a compassionate heart, they are in need of a strong sense of justice that only you can provide.

We ask you for those who are suffering. Allow us to recognize their pain and give us the steps to follow to heal their wounds.

We ask you for the lost souls, that we are able to exemplify a life in Christ that they desire. Open their hearts so that they receive the invitation of the Holy Spirit. Give us boldness to preach your Word and life by it.

In closing, continue to teach us how to live our lives closer to you. That our lives become truly “ more of you and less of us” and that when the day comes we are able to celebrate the final victory with you in heaven.

In Jesus name we pray,

Amen!

Big secret blown up

Today’s WordPress prompt was, “What is the biggest secret you failed to keep? I had to think long and hard about this one as my regular line of work and most of my ministry work is surrounded by confidentiality clauses and agreements; therefore there’s not much that I have revealed in terms of secrets. I also don’t tend to divulge secrets anyway so it took me a while, but then a light went off on the personal realm the one I found was life changing.

 It is customary for most churches to require a pre-marital course for couples. I attended to one of these when it was my “bridal time” and met two other couples preparing for their nuptials with whom we became very close. We became so close that after the course we started helping each other in the wedding preparations. My wedding was the one in the middle of the other two.

We attended the first wedding and after that, the now wife and the wife to be became my little helpers. The grooms became friends and tended to hang out together when we girls were submerged in lace and flowers. As we were very focused on our tasks we had not noticed that the third groom (the one whose wedding was right after mine) had developed a certain affection for one of my neighbors, so every time it was time to come over to my place for my wedding things he was quite eager.

This neighbor was my lifetime friend and at some point told me about the handsome guy who was visiting my house and inviting her out. I quickly pointed out to her that the lady with him was nobody else but his fiancée. I was in a predicament. If I told my new friend about what her fiancé had done I was going to break her heart and probably cancel her wedding, but at the same time I would have been devastated if I would have allowed her to marry a cheater. So I did, I called the girl and told her about her groom and my neighbor.

The fun part was that the ladies got together and plotted a plan. My neighbor accepted the date, but instead of one, both women showed up. The soon to be married lady and I did not keep a relationship, but she said she was grateful for the revelation. As painful as this was, I really don’t regret doing it as I would have appreciated if anyone would have done it for me if it was me the one being cheated on.

In retrospective, nobody was asked to keep it a secret, but it was information that I knew that the affected person didn’t have. People forget that what’s done in the dark always comes to light. That it’s important to do the right thing, just because is the right thing to do. It usually is a good assistance to a good night sleep and I love my sleep.

Blessings!

Want Chocolate!

Various types of chocolate.
Image via Wikipedia

I heard from a local radio station that today was National Chocolate Day? First of all I’m really disappointed as a chocoholic that I didn’t get the memo sooner about such day even existed. I had been using Valentine’s Day, Easter, my birthday, Sunday and any other day to make it Chocolate day.

 Now, I don’t know if the people from the radio station have accurate information or my Google search does, but from what I found there are three National Chocolate days, which makes my outrage grow that I didn’t know such things…LOL! According to my sources there’s a Chocolate Day celebrated on July 7th. I wonder if that’s why my mother chose that day as her wedding date.

 Then there’s the US National Chocolate Day, which is celebrated October 28th. I can see that given that the colors of the fall are brown, beige and terracotta tones. Also the weather starts to cool off so hot chocolate is in order.  Chocolate fits right in.

 Finally is the World Chocolate Day, which is celebrated on September 4th. Pretty close to Labor Day, nothing better than some chocolate after a hard day of work.

 So mark your calendar my friends! If the radio station was wrong, it doesn’t matter, we’re celebrating Chocolate Day today too, for those of us who have discovered the passion for chocolate. If you were to ask my opinion on chocolate, if I have not made it obvious yet, let me just say… Any kind of nut covered with chocolate or anything that has raspberry and chocolate as an ingredient was personally made by the hand of God. : P

Now remember not to over indulge.

Enjoy!

Reflections on Arizona Tragedy

Christina Green 9yr old who died in Tucson Arizona. Ironically born on 9/11/01

Sometimes it takes a tragic event for us to evaluate the life that we live. We live in the hustle and bustle of our routine and allow ourselves to let real life drift out of our hands. Life is such a gift, and we forget to appreciate it.

Today in Arizona, a young man is suspected to have shot nineteen people. It became quick news because there were renowned people amongst them. At this time six of those lives have ended. A simple trip to the supermarket, a town hall meeting to talk to a congress woman, a walk down the street to salute a friend were the intentions of some of those attendants to that strip mall who never suspected to be involved in such a tragedy and how their lives would change or end in the blink of an eye.

Nobody knows the day or the hour. We all know when our life began; we don’t know when it will end. What do we want our lives to reflect when we leave this temporal place to our eternal place? I heard someone say, we’re all going to achieve eternal life after this life, but where are we going to spend that eternal life is the individual question that we need to ask ourselves.

An event like this reminds us of so many things. How many other lives have ended or been affected due to hatred, unforgiveness, and rage? As I watch the news, I hear those that we have trusted our safety keep saying how they don’t know what to do. Isn’t that comforting?

Gabrielle Giffords and husband on her wedding day in 2007

As a nation we keep forgetting that we were one under God, and as the generations have gone by, we’ve tried to remove God from our lives. Has anyone seen the parallel of removing God and his principles and how worse our quality of life has gotten?
I think it’s time for us to remember every day, every moment who we belong to and not get distracted by the wretchedness of this world.

Let’s start by praying for those who perished in Tucson, Arizona and for those who are still struggling for their lives. Let’s keep in prayers for the families affected by this terrible tragedy including the family of the shooter, who is also having a hard day today. Let’s then look at our lives and see what we need to change to make ours a fruitful life and a happier life. Who do we need to reconcile with? Who needs out ear, out attention and our love? ; So that when our day comes…either tomorrow or in fifty years we can hear our Lord Say, “well done, good and faithful servant”.