Tuesday, November 30, 2010
65 Years Ago—Nov. 30, 1945: Japanese forces in Indo-China surrender—final official surrender of troops in World War II.
Monday, November 29, 2010
This past week, I've been a guest blogger on Redwood's Medical Edge, a blog about medical facts for fiction writers, with a three-part series on Army nursing in WWII.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
The Advent wreath became popular in Germany and Scandinavia, and worked its way to Britain and America. Traditionally it's a flat evergreen wreath with four candles - three purple and one pink, or four red candles - with a white candle in the middle. Even the least crafty person in the world (that would be me) can put one together.
Each Sunday one more candle is lit, going in a clockwise pattern - purple (Prophet's Candle), purple (Bethlehem Candle), pink (Shepherd's Candle), purple (Angels' Candle). On Christmas Day, all four candles in the wreath are lit, plus the white Christ Candle in the center. This symbolizes the coming light of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. This Sunday (November 28), is the first Sunday in Advent. If you'd like to join the Sundin family in this tradition, here are some family friendly, kid-tested ideas.
Each element can be adapted to the ages of any children present - and personalized for your family.
Advent Week One - the Prophet's Candle.
Candles: Light one purple candle, the Prophet's Candle. Traditionally the youngest child lights the candles, but this can be shared.
Story: (adapt to the ages of your children) The Old Testament prophets told of a coming Messiah, or Savior - hundreds of years before Jesus was born. He would come into the dark world and bring light. Explain how prophets spoke God's word to people. Ponder what the world must have been like without the hope of Christ.
Isaiah 11:1-10 (explains how the Messiah would come from David's line)
Isaiah 7:14 (Messiah to be born of a virgin)
Luke 1: 26-38 (the angel Gabriel appears to Mary)
Matthew 1: 18-24 (the angel appears to Joseph)
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"
"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"
Does your family or church use an Advent wreath, and does it help you get in the true Christmas spirit?
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
If you like any of these, Stars in the Night by Cara Putman is a fun read.
Rosemary Shaeffer came to Hollywood to find fame in the movies. She found death. Her sister, attorney Audra Shaeffer, comes to Hollywood to find justice and truth. She meets actor Robert Garfield, who's looking for the one big break to push him from B-list to star.
Audra and Robert join the Hollywood Victory Caravan to meet their goals. The train crosses America, loaded with movie stars and singers, to sell War Bonds. However, bodies keep turning up. As the danger rises, Audra and Robert try to find the murderer.
Stars in the Night has plenty of spark between an appealing hero and heroine, plus plenty of conflict to keep them apart. The scenes with the movie stars are lots of fun, recalling those wonderful "let's put on a show!" movies so popular in the 1940s. The jokes, the rivalries, the scheming, the selfishness - and the occasional gems in their midst - all ring true. While I'm not qualified to comment on the mystery - sadly, I'm the only woman in my family who doesn't read mysteries - I was able to follow the plot, and there were plenty of suspects and red herrings and twists to keep me guessing.
If you want some glamour, mystery, and romance in your life, pick up Stars in the Night.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
On January 6, 1941, in his State of the Union Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that everyone deserved four fundamental freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. At the time, the Axis dictators stifled freedom of speech and worship, and conquered peoples lived in great fear and want.
The United States was just coming out of the Great Depression. People knew true want. More correctly, they understood true need.
Now, even though we're in a recession, we still don't understand true need - our nation's primary health problem is not malnutrition but obesity. But want still consumes us.
Freedom from want doesn't come from more money, more things, more food. It comes from gratitude. It comes from contentment. It comes from remembering those in need.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it makes me pause and focus on the blessings in my life. Stop and look around you and give thanks for all you see - your family, the overflowing refrigerator, the possessions. Focus on what you have rather than what you don't have, and give thanks to God for all the good things He gives.
The Bible calls coveting a sin because at its root, coveting shows dissatisfaction with what God's given us. In His eyes, we look like a child on Christmas morning, surrounded by piles of opened gifts who says, "Is that all?" Being content with what we have - even content in great need - shows God trust and gratitude, and produces peace and joy in us. Now that's true freedom.
Remembering those in need - through finances, food, gifts, your time, or your prayers - puts things in proper perspective, reminds us just how blessed we are, and spreads the blessing to others. A generous spirit is not dissatisfied.
This Thanksgiving, how can you find true freedom from want?
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
65 Years Ago—Nov. 20, 1945: Nuremberg trials begin for German war criminals. When they end Oct. 1, 1946, 12 will be sentenced to death, 7 will receive prison sentences, and 3 will be acquitted.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Ruth turned in circles, needing to take it all in. This was her past. Nothing could ever change that, but she would not let it consume her.
The shame of her youth screamed at her from every brick, but Jesus silenced it. "Christ died for me. That's all I need to know. Thank you, Lord. Thank you."
In my novel A Memory Between Us, the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty, struggles with shame over her past. This is the final installment of a six-part blog series dealing with shame that lingers after sin has been forgiven or there was no sin to begin with, as in abusive situations.
God doesn't want us to live under a heavy cloak of shame because:
1) Christ redeems us.
2) Christ covers us.
3) Christ restores us.
Shoving shame out of our lives is hard spiritual work. So why do we do it? So we feel better? Sure, that's part of it. But there's a bigger reason. This spiritual work is like breaking up unplowed ground - a lot of pain and energy, but afterward the ground is productive.
When God forgives and heals us, we're comforted. But He doesn't mean for us to stay there. He wants us to rise up, leave our shame behind, and live full lives in Him.
The nation of Israel knew shame. Their disobedience and idolatry resulted in seventy years of humiliating exile in Babylon. But God promised to bring them back and restore them - for a purpose! God speaks in Ezekiel 39: 25-27: "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations.'"
God has a purpose that's higher than our personal peace of mind. He restores us so that He can show Himself through us to others! Isn't that exciting?
Hebrews 9: 13, 14 tells us, "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Once again, a purpose! He forgives us so we can serve Him.
King David also knew shame after committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah, killed. Psalm 51 is David's lament after realizing the extent of his sin. Read it and feel the pain of shame. But finish it to see how David decided to use the lessons he learned. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you." Who better to help a sinner than a reformed sinner? David refused to wallow in shame, but rose up and used his experiences to teach others. Even today, three thousand years later, we learn from him.
What have you learned from the experiences that brought you shame? How can you use those lessons to show God's holiness to others? To serve the living God? To teach sinners His ways?
Rise up and live a full life in Him!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
And here's the blurb from the publisher...
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?
Filled with daring and romance, Blue Skies Tomorrow will capture readers' hearts.
Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Each book stands alone.
I love all the little details in this cover! The building in the background is El Campanil Theater in Antioch, California, where several scenes in the book take place. This building was built in 1928 and has been gorgeously restored by a non-profit organization and hosts all sorts of interesting musical groups, plays, and classic movies. If you're ever in town, drop by! To see pictures or to see upcoming attractions, please visit http://www.elcampaniltheatre.com (Yes, it's "theatre" in the website address).
Another great little detail is the movie on the marquee. Cover Girl, starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, featured orchestration by Carmen Dragon, a native of Antioch, California. Mr. Dragon won the 1944 Oscar for his work on the film.
So...what do you think?
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Although America's been at a state of war for almost ten years, for most of us, life goes on as always, interrupted by occasional reminders. The long lines at airport security. Calls for care packages. Newspaper articles. A friend requesting prayer for her soldier son.
The stories in this book bring the realities of the war on terror to poignant life. Battlefields & Blessings is organized in devotional format, with a short story for each day accompanied by a Scripture verse and prayer, but it can also be read straight through. I was touched by stories of the Army chaplain who "happened" to be at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, of medics fighting to save wounded soldiers, of a mother hearing of her son's death, of a young woman struggling during her boyfriend's deployment, and of soldiers in the heat of battle. But most of all I was inspired by God's presence through all, and how these people turned to the Lord and grew through their experiences. Battlefields & Blessings not only illuminates the fullness of what these brave men and women do for our freedom, but it challenges us to grow in our faith as well. I highly recommend it.
On a purely superficial level, I was also drawn to the design of the book, from its "deckle" page edges with that old-fashioned torn look, to the built-in flaps on the cover. This book feels nice in your hands.
For more information about Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan, please visit http://www.battlefieldsandblessings.com/. One of the authors, Jocelyn Green, also has a wonderful website ministry to support military wives at http://www.faithdeployed.com/.
I have a copy of Battlefields & Blessings to give away! To enter the drawing, please leave a comment and include your email address in the following format: sarah [at] sarahsundin [dot] com. I'll pick a winner on Friday, Nov. 12.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
This week, in honor of Veteran's Day, I'm featuring Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan by Jane Hampton Cook, Jocelyn Green, and John Croushorn. Today I'm repeating a post I wrote for Veteran's Day, and Wednesday I'll feature the book. Leave a comment today or Wednesday for a chance to win a copy of the book. I'll conduct a drawing on Friday, November 12. Please leave your email address in your comment, such as sarah [at] sarahsundin [dot] com.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the First World War came to an end. The Armistice was signed for the War to End All Wars, but peace was built on a shoddy foundation, and war returned, nastier than ever.
The end of the Second World War brought the United Nations and the promise of rational negotiation and eternal peace. Instead the nuclear era brought the tense decades of the Cold War, flaring up in brutal regional wars in Korea, Vietnam, and throughout Africa and Central and South America.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall brought optimism for a peaceful, democratic world. This was shattered by the terrorist tactics of a new enemy without borders to attack or a government to negotiate with. A cowardly enemy that cheers when children blow up children or when unarmed soldiers are murdered on their home base.
The human heart yearns for peace but is drawn to war. We can argue about it and talk about how it shouldn't be this way, but it is. That's why our armed services are vital.
Our veterans have repelled the forces of Fascism, Totalitarianism, and Communism, and for this we owe them our eternal gratitude. Our active servicemen and servicewomen are currently fighting the forces of terrorism, and for this we owe them our active support and appreciation.
On Veteran's Day, we thank the members of our armed services, past and present, for protecting our lives, our homes, and our freedom. May God bless you in your efforts.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Ruth wiped her eyes. Successful at a price? Forgiven but damaged? She wished so much more for her baby sister.
In my novel A Memory Between Us, the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty, struggles with shame over her past. This six-part blog series deals with shame that lingers after sin has been forgiven or there was no sin to begin with, as in abusive situations. Here's the first post: http://sarahsundin.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-blog-series-shoving-off-shame.html
God doesn't want us to live under a heavy cloak of shame because:
1) Christ redeems us (http://sarahsundin.blogspot.com/2010/10/shoving-off-shame-christ-redeems-us.html
2) Christ covers us (http://sarahsundin.blogspot.com/2010/10/shoving-off-shame-youre-covered.html)
3) Christ restores us.
Christ Restores Us
Ever feel like this?..."God could never use someone like me. He knows what I've done. I'm forgiven, but damaged. Useless."
The Prodigal Son felt the same way. Listen to the shame in his voice as he returned home: "'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men'" (Luke 15:18-19, italics mine).
So did the father say, "Sounds fair. You can live here, but you're no good to me anymore"?
Um, no. The father said, "'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate'" (Luke 15:22-23, italics mine).
1) He gave him a robe, a sign of distinction, and - like we talked about last week - a sign of covenant agreement and identity.
2) He gave him a ring, a sign of authority, meaning the son could act on the father's behalf.
3) He gave him sandals, something only a son wore, not a slave.
4) He gave him a celebration, because he was overjoyed to have his son back.
In other words, the father completely restored the son to his original position in the household!
When God forgives our sins, He does the same for us. He completely restores us as His sons and daughters.
1) He gives us His robe of righteousness.
2) He gives us the authority to act on His behalf. He wants to use us.
3) He makes us His children, complete with inheritance rights.
4) He throws a party! Psalm 18:19 says, "He rescued me because he delighted in me."
Isn't that fantastic? Don't let shame keep you from the wonderful things God wants to do with your life. He has a plan for you. He has a purpose for you. He has a mission for you.
When shame says you're useless, you say, "Go away, liar! I'm a child of the King. He has blessed me and He delights in me. And He has made me useful."
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
It beats the alternative.
While the United States has been spoiled by over two hundred years of democracy, in the grand scope of human history, democracy is still new and revolutionary. Historically, monarchies are the norm. The lives of ordinary people were dictated by one individual who received that position by accident of birth - or by murder and intrigue. Even now, dictators and extremists rule by fear and terror, and ordinary people keep their mouths shut - or else.
During the World War II era, the world was threatened by cruel dictatorships - so threatened that the Communist USSR made a worthy ally of the democracies. We forget how close we came to losing our freedom.
In the United States we have the freedom of speech, topped by the amazing freedom to vote. Tomorrow you and I can enter a booth and tell our elected officials exactly how we feel without fear of a midnight knock on the door. Don't take that privilege lightly - do your research and make informed choices, not based solely on party. And don't take that privilege for granted - make the time tomorrow and cast your votes.
See you in the voting booth!