Welcome back, Mesu. Tell us about your salvation experience.
I was raised in a Christian home—a spiritual mutt. Mom charismatic. Dad Quaker. Paternal grandparents ordained ministers (both grandpa and grandma) in the Pilgrim Holiness denomination—then switched to Nazarene, and then Wesleyan. Scripture was the weapon in my family’s theology wars, and I wanted nothing to do with God by the time I was twelve. I was an alcoholic by nineteen. When I was a sophomore in college, my boyfriend of five years broke off what I thought was an engagement, and I tried to end my life. A week later, my best friend and her fiancé invited me and her fiancé’s best friend, Roy Andrews, to attend a high-school-alma-mater football game. I’d known
since jr. high. He
was as pagan as I was, but when he wore a tie to the football game, I knew
something was different. When he didn’t cuss or show his red-headed temper
while telling us that his roommate wrecked his car earlier in the day, I
thought the folks at a Texas Christian college had brainwashed him! He denied
it and said Jesus had changed him. I laughed. I only agreed to a second date as
a challenge to see if he could keep up his holy-roller act. But the second date
turned into three weeks of dates. The realization that he was so thoroughly
different, completely changed, brought me to the saving knowledge of Jesus that I needed. I poured
out my last bottle of black-label Jack Daniel’s (whiskey) the next morning. I
married Roy Andrews six months later, and we’ll celebrate our 35th anniversary
in June. J
What a testimony! I love hearing them. You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Francine Rivers – for three reasons: 1) because she came to Christ later in life and writes real stories; 2) because of her wonderful dry sense of humor; and 3) because she’s insanely talented and my favorite fiction author.
Liz Curtis Higgs – also three reasons: 1) same as Francine—came to Jesus later in life and has a humility about her that saturates a room; 2) forget dry sense of humor—she’s just crazy fun! And 3) I’d pick her brain on how to get soooooo much done and still have time to breathe!
The last two are men—they’d have to sleep in a different cabin! But I’d invite James Scott Bell and Donald Maass because I’ve learned so much about the writing craft from both of them. Though they have significantly different styles, they’re fascinating teachers and passionate about writing.
I know all of them, besides Donald Maass, personally and agree with you wholeheartedly about each one. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
Yes, I enjoy speaking, but because of some chronic health issues and increasing writing deadlines, I don’t do it as often as I once did. I’m looking forward to sharing about the themes in Of Fire and Lions at the writer’s conferences and women’s events in 2019. I still have some openings in the 2020 calendar and will begin to share about the next release early that year, Isaiah’s Legacy, the sequel to Isaiah’s Daughter. My favorite weekend conference topic is still “Sacred Love, Sacred Dance,” a journey through the entire Book of Song of Songs exploring intimacy with Christ.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I was a Mary Kay consultant when our first daughter was a year old and had the opportunity to do the makeup for one of my high school friend’s wedding. We finished the makeup on the bride, the bridesmaids, and the mothers of both bride and groom. I helped my friend get her dress on and stood back to appreciate the stunning image. She looked A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! But then she realized she hadn’t painted her nails! “No worries,” said the Mary Kay lady-friend from high school, “I’ll paint them right where you stand.” We only had five minutes before she was to walk down the aisle, so someone handed me the bright red fingernail polish. I’d almost finished the second coat when someone asked what time it was. I looked at the watch on my wrist—and unwittingly tipped the bottle of red polish… Yep… The collective gasp nearly sucked all the oxygen from the room. I saw spots before my eyes and the red polish in a streak down the front of the bride’s pure, white taffeta. I. Wanted. To. Die. Every woman in the room went into “fix it” mode. One tried acetone to remove it, and the taffeta started to “melt” before our eyes. I just stood there with the polish still in hand. Slack-jawed. Stunned. Mortified. Finally, someone grabbed some liquid white-out (like we used to use to correct typewritten pages) and covered the red with that. I called out, “I’m so sorry!” as she walked out the door and got a laser-death stare from her mother. I sat in the back row for the wedding and left before the reception. Fast forward to our 20th high school reunion—this precious woman never mentioned the fiasco. Fast forward another fourteen years, when I have a conference in this woman’s
town. She picks me
up from the airport and chauffeurs me to my hotel. I finally worked up the
courage to ask her how she ever forgave me. “Mesu, there were so many other
hard things that happened that day,” she said. “A little fingernail polish on
my dress was the least of my worries.” What a great lesson in perspective and
I love that. People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I tell them it’s easier to write a book now than ever before. If they’re interested in writing about their life and memoirs, I suggest they do it through Amazon’s KDP program, where they can sell copies one-by-one at any price they set. It’s simple. They don’t need a publisher. And they can make changes for themselves if they find errors or typos. This is the perfect solution for those who simply want to write something for family and/or friends to read. If they’re serious about making writing more than a hobby, that’s a completely different animal. That requires commitment, passion, and a willingness to withstand multiple rejections—possibly never being traditionally published—on the journey to sharing their work publicly. Lots of folks want to write a book but few have the passion or calling to publish one. I wrote for twelve years before signing my first contract and endured countless rejections. If writing is just a whim…let it pass.
Good advice. Tell us about the featured book.
Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked
and took their finest as captives.
She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol
worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court.
Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe
and she can live out her days in Jerusalem
without fear—until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to
interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and
Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army.
What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone? Ultimately,
Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Babylon 's
captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman,
who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions. Jerusalem
Please give us the first page of the book.
"King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles. . . . He gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar . . . had taken from the temple in
, so that the king and his nobles,
his wives and his concubines might drink from them. . . . As they drank the
wine, . . . the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of
the wall." Jerusalem
—Daniel 5:1–2, 4–5
I’d never seen a sesame seed grow until I came to
almost seventy years
At harvest time my husband, Daniel, looks to the tiny seed as cause for great celebration. How inconsequential is a miniscule seed? How incomprehensible its yield? How unbearable the process of growth? A seed is buried. It dies. Then sprouts. And grows. It blossoms. Dries and dies again to be plucked up and used for the purpose of its planting. My husband’s purpose in celebration was to mark the passing of years toward prophecy’s fulfillment—now just futile poetry. But it caused me to remember things I’d rather forget.
It was a day I dreaded all year long.
I picked up my polished-bronze mirror and tucked a stray tendril of gray curls beneath my new linen head scarf, noting in the reflection his fidgeting behind me. He always had trouble tying a jeweled belt, but his fingers seemed more trembly this morning. Was he nervous too?
I set aside my mirror and crossed the bedchamber, nudging his hands aside. “Let me do it.” Though both his hands and mine were spotted with age and lined with bulging blue veins, at least mine were still nimble.
He cradled my head and placed a kiss on my forehead. “Thank you, love. What would I do without you?”
I finished the knot and gazed into his rheumy eyes, as smitten as I’d been sixty-six years ago. “Let’s hope you never find out.” I laced my arm through his. “Let’s go downstairs. The children are waiting.”
He opened our chamber door, and lively family sounds floated up from the courtyard below. We descended the stairs slowly since Daniel’s feet pained him. Waiting in our lush green courtyard were three generations of our descendants seated around four long rectangular tables. Four daughters with their husbands. Twenty-one grandchildren. And thirty- two greats.
Two conscientious grandsons met their saba Daniel at the bottom of the steps, one supporting each elbow. I was left to follow—alone. The snubbing had begun.
“I’m fine,” he protested. “Tend to your savta.”
“But Ima said your feet have been paining you,
Saba.” Our oldest daughter’s firstborn offered an obligatory
nod at me. “Shalom, Savta.”
I returned the nod with a half smile but remained silent, refusing to mock the peace such a greeting offered. One glance at our oldest daughter, Kezia, assured me there would be no shalom today. She stole sullen glimpses at me while standing beside her husband, Sheshbazzar, the prince of
Judah’s exiles in . Our other three daughters stood arm
in arm with their husbands, eyes trained on the abba they all adored. Babylon
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Thank you, Mesu, for sharing this new book with my blog readers and me. Last weekend, my pastor started a sermon series on The Kings of
This book is very timely for me. Babylon
Readers, here are links to the book.Of Fire and Lions - Christianbook.com
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Amazon paperback
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Kindle
Of Fire and Lions: A Novel - Audio
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