Lost of Innocence

Last week was a tough one, not only for me but for the whole nation. Thursday night I received a phone call from a very close friend in tears. Her nephew had just committed suicide. I obviously jumped in the car to provide my support. Then the next morning, while I’m trying to shake the emotions from that event, I walked into the break room of my job and saw on the television the news from Connecticut.

I could relate not only at the human level, but at the personal level of the pain and confusion that others were feeling. I could understand how parents felt about answering questions to confused children about the events they witnessed or were made aware of, because the night before I was approached by my friend’s young children with similar questions.
Our children should not have to worry about why someone decides to take their life or someone else’s. Our children should not need to understand the pain of losing a teacher, a brother, a father, a mother or a friend; especially under these horrible circumstances.

We are all looking for a silver lining within the grief. I’ve come to the conclusion that hopelessness is part of the pain of those who commit these acts. They feel like there’s no way to end their pain than to leave this earth and/or hurt others. This has motivated me to continue to do what God has called me to do, to write more and more about the good news of redemption and hope. That there’s always a way out and a solution that doesn’t include more pain.

This has also been a wake up call for me and for so many others of how our lives can change in an instant unexpectedly. It has reminded me to express my gratitude, my appreciation and my love to those around me before it’s too late.
I know the recent events have not only made the children aware of an evil world. It has even place awareness of concern in adults as well. Where are we safe? Thinking as far back as Columbine, I can recall a movie theater, a college campus, several churches, a gym, a mall, several workplaces and now an elementary school, and that’s just off the top of my head. But let’s stand on the Word of God that tells us:

  • Zechariah 2:5 :And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will be its glory within.’”
  • Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”
  • Psalm 91:2 “I will say [a] of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
  • Psalm 91:4-5 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,”

I ask you today to pray for my friend’s nephew who left behind a wife and two small children. Also pray for all the victims in Connecticut; for those parents, siblings, for the whole community. But also remember to pray for the family of the perpetrator. He left behind a father who lost a son, and a young man who lost his brother and mother. Let’s also pray that God gives our authorities the wisdom to do what needs to be done to avoid these things, whatever that may be.

Hug each other a little tighter today. I appreciate all of you. Be safe. Be blessed.

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America, Get Up, Get Out and Vote!

Today is an important day. November is a month where we usually say the things we are grateful for. One of the things I’m grateful about is to live and be part of the US of America.

Today is a day where we show our privileged to democracy. Today we get to exercise our right to elect those who will be making our government decisions for the next four years. Do not fret on this decision, just go out and vote. Regardless of the results God is our provider and our benefactor, but we need to do our part.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote doesn’t count. Don’t let anyone tell you that your vote is not important and that it won’t make a difference. It will and it does.

America is time to vote! Wrimos in the US stop your writing for a little while and go vote. The lines are long so just take your laptops with you; you’ll have tons of interrupted time standing in line.

God Bless!!

1 Chronicles 29:12
Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the ruler of all mankind. Your hands control power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength.

4th of July, What are we celebrating?

The 4th of July is one of those celebrations marked with family and friend gatherings, BBQ’s and fireworks. Do we really know what we are celebrating beyond having a day off and the opportunity to have fun?

I’ll make the history lesson as short as I can. On July 4th 1776, Americans became independent from the sovereignty of Britain and were not only declared an independent nation but founded this nation on some principles that in 2012 we seem to take for granted. If you want to read the whole document you can do it here. But today I would like to point out the one that stood out for me.

All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

2012 is an election year

Let’s pray that this country makes the right decision. Let’s pray that we elect someone who will uphold the rights in which this nation was founded. But as believers, let’s make the commitment that whoever ends up being elected, we will continue to pray for his protection and wisdom, in steering this nation.

This is my prayer:

That for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.(1 Timothy 2:2)

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. (Proverbs 2:10)

Let’s not forget who is really in control. “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)

Happy Independence Day!

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

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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.