Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review of David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell




From the jacket flap:
"In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell challenges how we think about obstacles and disadvantages, offering a new interpretation of what it means to be discriminated against,or cope with a disability, or lose a parent, or attend a mediocre school, or suffer from any number of other setbacks."

The book is a series of true stories about real people who had real and often huge obstacles to overcome. Most of the people in this book triumphed, but Gladwell admits that for every one who rose above their difficulties there were many who could not.

The stories are engaging and thought-provoking. They are stories of a variety of Davids who simply did not accept their circumstances as barriers that would hold them back, but saw them as mountains to be climbed. It is a book that proves that circumstances don't control us as long as we have the courage and wit to fight against them.

I found the book fascinating and time and again thought of how it parallels what the Bible teaches : love wins over hatred; God's strength and grace are enough because with God all things are possible.

Well worth the read.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How Veggie Tales Inspired a Biblical Novella by Amber Schamel







It was a summer evening, I was in the kitchen making dinner while my little siblings (for some odd reason) were watching The Toy That Saved Christmas, a Veggie-Tales movie. My publisher had asked me to write a Christmas story and I was deep in thought wondering what I should write when I suddenly tuned in to what was playing on the screen.

 
Grandpa George was reading a scripture to Bob, Larry and Buzz-saw Louie. "And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him in baby clothes and laid him in a manger."

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute, the passage didn't say baby clothes. In the King James it says swaddling clothes. That got me to thinking, what exactly are swaddling clothes? Are they just baby clothes? Or is there another meaning to them? 

I looked up the passage in Luke chapter two and noted that it was mentioned not only once, but twice that Mary wrapped her first-born son in swaddling clothes. So I began my research. 

I found out that swaddling clothes did not necessarily mean that Mary and Joseph were poor or destitute. Swaddling clothes were used by people of all classes to wrap a newborn in hopes that it would help their limbs grow straight, as well as calm the babe. But if swaddling clothes were so common during that era, why was it specifically mentioned as a sign to the shepherds of who the Messiah would be? So I searched some more.

Another source said that in the eastern countries they would use a cloth to put between the yoke of an ox, and the ox's shoulders. When Mary and Joseph were in the barn, they had nothing else to use, so they used this ox's cloth that was translated as swaddling cloth to wrap the Messiah that would carry the yoke of our sin and bondage.

Many hours and websites later, I emerged armed with a ton of information, four different theories, and a story forming inside my head. So, I guess you could say that my new book The Swaddling Clothes was inspired by a Veggie Tales movie. 

The things that inspire people, or give them an idea is very interesting to me.
What are some odd things that have given you an idea or inspiration?


The Swaddling Clothes Synopsis:
Through the ages, many stories have been told about Mary, Joseph and the birth of the Messiah. Stories of shepherds and sheep, kings, angels, and stables. But there is one story that has never been told. One story that has remained hidden in the fabric of time. The story of The Swaddling Clothes.
Mentioned not once, but several times in the Scriptural text, what is the significance of these special cloths? And how did they make their way into a stable in Bethlehem? From the author that brought you the Days of Messiah series comes a whole new adventure critics are calling "intriguing...thought provoking... a fresh twist on an age old story."

"I get tired of Bible stories sometimes, but The Swaddling Clothes brings the story to life."
"Heartwarming...truly inspired. A story you will want to read again and again. Rich details and a suspenseful plot will keep you reading while giving you a glimpse of God's wonderful power and His amazing love."


 Amber Schamel is a multi-published author of Christian Historical Fiction. Her passion for history and culture has led her to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. Amber is actively involved in her church and enjoys volunteer work and music ministry.  Raised in a family of twelve children and homeschooled throughout her education, she currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado where she also serves as bookkeeper and marketing director for their family businesses. Find Amber on her blog, or on all the main social media sites.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrating Early with Sheila Legrand





In my strident youth I was a Christmas militant. I railed against the displays of candy canes and chocolate snowmen lurking about the bags of Halloween candy. I fumed as tinsel mingled with the harvest cornucopia in some kind of mall marketing miscegenation. I averted my eyes when neighbors’ Christmas lights brightened the street before we had celebrated Thanksgiving.

Not this year. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe it’s because the grandchild count has risen to nine—which means more gifts, more wrapping, more time to dream up selections that say I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling across an ocean to spend Christmas with my daughter, her Navy-Chief husband, and their children on Guam. For all these reasons, I have overcome my Christmas-season-snobbery. Never again, Lord help me, will I judge the mom scooping up the latest Legos in October.

And never again will I jam all the gift-choosing, making, ordering, or buying into the precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a legalistic maneuver all along, I see now, not a decision born of grace and joy. And what is more important at Christmastime than grace and joy? As I consider it today, I can’t even remember why I thought it was such an achievement to exhaust myself by squeezing every bit of preparation into a few short weeks.

After all these hard-line years, it’s been deliciously daring to choose gifts in October, to be laying in stores of red-and-green tissue during the first crisp days of autumn.  Once I committed to changing my approach, and my attitude, about the Christmas schedule, I reaped an unexpected bonus: The rejoicing heart, the sense of blessedness as I reflect on the priceless gift of our Savior, the real key elements to the Christmas season, they kicked in early, too. Instead of three or four weeks of an overflowing heart, I’ve enjoyed the jubilation since late October.

I understand better now the friend who sings carols in March, the heart-sister who displays a Christmas tree all year long. I’ve been cheating myself out of a heap of exultation. So if we cross paths at the beach next summer, please don’t be surprised if I greet you with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”
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Sheila Seiler Lagrand, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. As an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego, she studied anthropology and literature with an emphasis in writing. Currently she blogs at sheilalagrand.com. Sheila is a member of The High Calling. As a young woman she published poems in dozens of literary magazines. She has also contributed to anthropology journals and contributed a chapter to the book, Fieldwork and Families: Constructing New Models for Ethnographic Research.

More recently, her work has appeared in Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (BibleDude Community Commentary Series), and a few volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her Christmas tale Yankee Doodle Christmas releases December 12th as part of Kathi Macias’ Twelve Days of Christmas series.
Sheila lives with her husband Rich and their two dogs, J.D. and Doc, in beautiful Trabuco Canyon, California. She enjoys serving at her church, Trabuco Canyon Community Church, gardening, cooking, and most of all, spending time with their children and nine (so far) grandchildren. She has lived her entire life in southern California, except for a year spent in French Polynesia as she conducted research for her dissertation. She doesn’t understand boredom and is passionate about words, their power, their beauty, and their care and feeding.


Sheila Seiler Lagrand, author at http://sheilalagrand.com