A Simple Peasant Girl/Honour #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

Far hath I come to be at thy side,

my heart my sole and trusted guide

To place upon thy breast this red rose, plucked this morn, a token of my love

Beside the note that praises thee for thy services to king, country and God above.

I stand here, gazing upon thy countenance, me a simple peasant girl who won thy heart

While thou wert alive, we swore that nothing but the death could keep us apart.

Rest now, my brave knight. Yes, close thine eyes,

For when next thou awakeneth, with me, thou shalt be in Paradise.

 

This was written in response to the Thursday Photo Prompt at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.  For more details click here.

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Gifts From the East

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him” – Matthew 2:2

Wise Men from the East traveled all the way to Jerusalem to see the King of the Jews.  They didn’t know where exactly to find Him.  They had see His star and followed it.  It led them there in Jerusalem.  They visited King Herod, believing that he would know where the Christ was but the king didn’t.  He was greatly troubled by this and called the chief priests and scribes together to inquire where the Christ was to be born.  They told him what the prophecy said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:  ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

King Herod met alone with the Wise Men and told them that the Child was in Bethlehem, tell them to, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”  The visitors left and the star which they had seen in the East went before them and led them to where the Child was.  Seeing the star filled them with great joy and they rejoiced.

They went into the house and saw the young Child with His mother, Mary.  They fell down and worshipped Him.  They presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. What was the significance of each of these gifts?  Were they simply customary gifts from the regions or were they chosen specifically?  Gold is a precious and valuable metal.   It is rare and it doesn’t tarnish.  Precious things and ornaments are made of gold.  In this instance, gold represents Jesus’ kingship.  Frankincense is a perfume or incense.  It was used in religious and spiritual rituals all over the world..  It represents Jesus’ priesthood.  Myrrh is a bitter gum and costly perfume which comes from a certain tree or shrub in Arabia and Ethiopia.  It is also an antiseptic used for embalming.  The myrrh prefigures Jesus’ death and embalming.

These gifts were not arbitrary.  They were carefully chosen for the One whom they traveled far to behold and worship.  They brought their gifts to Him because they believed that He was the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  What a beautiful story of faith and the love of God who sent His Son to die for everyone.  It is a testimony that Jesus is Savior of Jews and Gentiles.  He came to save the world.

This Christmas season, reflect on the roles of Jesus–King, Priest and Savior.  Think of someone who needs to know that God loves them and offer them His most precious Gift to mankind–His Son.

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Source: Natural Living Family

MADS

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He lost his balance and fell over, arms flailing helplessly while others watched in horror.  He landed on the rocks.  Death was instant.  That was a year ago.  The memories and troubled dreams made it feel like it happened yesterday.  She stood in the packed auditorium, watching the young faces, some of them familiar.

Taking a deep breath, she said, “My name is Catherine Stuart.  I’m the Founder and Director of MADS.  Mothers Against Dangerous Selfies.  I’m here to talk to you about the dangers of selfies.  My 15 year old son died taking a selfie at a waterfall.”

99 Words

This story is based on real stories of people who have died taking dangerous selfies.

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.  For more details, visit Here. To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

 

Meeting McKenzie

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Photo credit: JS Brand

I’m a happily married man with two adorable kids.  I’m standing here, in front of the magnificent Kelpies.  I remember the first time I brought my kids here.  Little Brody clung to my legs, terrified.  Cora’s eyes were huge in her little face as she gazed up at the massive sculptures.  I came here alone today.  The kids are in London with their Mom.

The day’s overcast.  I’m meeting McKenzie, the woman I’d gotten off on a murder charge due to lack of evidence.  She’s a stunning woman who married a man twenty years her senior.  His family had always believed that she’d married him for his money and that she was responsible for his death.  From all appearances, he’d died of a heart attack. There appeared to be no foul play.  When she received the not guilty verdict, his family was visibly upset and fought bitterly to contest his will which left everything to her.

“Hello, Counselor,” her voice interrupts my thoughts.  I turn to face her, my heart pounding.  “I was worried you wouldn’t show.”

I swallow hard.  “I almost didn’t.”

“I’m glad you did,” she says as she walks away.  I follow.

We head for the hotel.

 

200 Words

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Mark’s Letter

“You need to sign for this, Seth,” Lucy said as she handed the registered letter to her boss.

He took it and swallowed hard when he saw who the sender was.  It was sent a week after Mark’s death.  His funeral was two days ago.  He still couldn’t believe it.  Mark was only twenty-five.  He had finally lost his battle with Muscular Dystrophy which he had since he was born.  It was when he was six that he began to slow down.  It was hard watching his younger brother confined to a wheelchair in his latter years, unable to shoot hoops like he used to.

He picked up the pen and signed for the letter.  After she left, he opened it. He leaned back in this chair and slowly read the words on the single sheet.

Dear Seth, I had my nurse write this letter as it would take too long for me to do it myself.  Besides, her writing is far better than mine.  I know that I don’t have much time so I wanted to tell you what has been on my mind for a very long time.  It has to do with Gabrielle.  You know that I am in love with her and wanted to marry her but she turned me down.  She cares for me but she isn’t in love with me and she didn’t think it would be right for her to accept my proposal.  And she was aware that our parents didn’t approve of her for obvious reasons and she believed that you had your own objections but for different reasons.  I know what those reasons are, Brother.  You are in love with her.  I may be slow now but, I’m not blind.  I saw the way you tried not to look at her every time the three of us were together. 

“I still remember the first time I brought her to meet you.  You had just returned from a spin on your new boat.  In your get up you looked like a sea captain minus the cap.  I could tell that Gabrielle was impressed though she tried not to show it, for my sake, I guess.  We were on our way to the hospital and I suggested that we stop by the marina and see you.  I wanted her to meet my incredible brother whom I have looked up to my entire life.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the two of you were attracted to each other.  At first I was miffed but then when I thought about it, I figured that if she were to have feelings for someone else, I would rather it be you.   When I’m gone, I want you to go to her and tell her how you feel.  Don’t pass up a chance for happiness out of a sense of loyalty to me.  Nothing would please me more than to knowing that the two people I love most in the world have found happiness with each other.  What I’m saying, Seth, is that you have my blessing. 

Please take care of yourself.  And tell Gabrielle, that best thing that ever happened to me was knowing her.

Your loving brother and best friend,

Mark

Seth carefully folded the letter and slipped it back into the envelope before breaking down.

Gabrielle looked at the beautiful pendant Mark had given her as a birthday present a couple of years ago.  Tears ran down her cheeks.  She couldn’t believe that he was gone.

She missed him so much.  He was such a beautiful person, so full of love and goodness.  She felt blessed for knowing him and knew she would always cherish their friendship.  There were times when she wished that she loved him the way he loved her but she couldn’t force something that wasn’t there.  And when he proposed she had to turn him down.  She couldn’t marry a man she didn’t love.  It wouldn’t have been fair to him at all.  His family was probably relieved when he told them that she had rejected his offer of marriage.  Even Seth was probably relieved too.  Seth…Not a day went by when she didn’t think about him.  She hadn’t expected to fall in love with him but when they met she knew she was in trouble.

At the funeral, she had sneaked glances at him as he stood there, tall, well-built in his expensive black suit with his head bowed and his hands clasped tightly in front of him.  His parents stood beside him.  His father had his arm around his weeping mother’s shoulders.  She wanted to go over and offer her condolences but wasn’t sure of the reception she would receive.  After they laid Mark to rest, she was about to leave when Seth approached her.

“Thanks for coming,” he said quietly, his expression drawn.

“I had to come,” she replied.  “He was my friend.”

“He cared very deeply for you.”

“And I cared deeply for him too.  I will miss him.”

“Yes, we will all miss him.”

A pause and then, “Please offer my condolences to your parents.”

“I will.”

Their eyes lingered on each other’s face before she said, “Goodbye, Seth.”

“Goodbye.”

She turned and walked slowly away, tears welling up in her eyes.  She was crying not only because of losing Mark but at the prospect of never seeing Seth again.

The ringing of the doorbell jolted her from her reverie and she put the pendant back in its box and in the top drawer of the bureau before leaving her bedroom.  On her way to answer the door, she glanced at the clock on the wall.  It was eight-fifteen.  It was dark outside. The sun had set over an hour ago.

She peered through the keyhole, her heart lurching when she saw who it was.  Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.  Seth towered over her, looking extremely handsome in a black silk shirt and black pants.  His hair was slicked back.  “I hope I’m not calling you at a bad time,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.

She shook her head.  “No, you’re not,” she assured him as she stepped aside so that he could step into the foyer.  “I didn’t think I would see you again.”

After he removed his shoes, he followed her into the living-room.  Instead of sitting down on the sofa, he went over to the window where he could see the CN Tower. She joined him and stood watching him, thrilled to see him but couldn’t help wondering why he was there. After a few minutes of silence, he turned to face her.  “I received a letter from Mark this morning,” he told her.  “It was mailed a week after he died.”

Her eyes widened.  “A letter?” she repeated.  “He didn’t write it himself, did he?”

“No, he had his nurse write it. Would you like to read it?” he asked.

“If you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind.”  He reached into his shirt pocket and took out the envelope.  He pulled the letter out and handed it to her.

She took it, unfolded it and began to read.  Seth watched her, his expression tense.   When she was finished, she looked up at him, her eyes wet.   “He knew,” she said.

“Yes, he knew how we felt about each other even if we didn’t.”

“And he wants us to be together.  That’s why he wrote this letter.”

“He has given us his blessing.”

“Yes.” She folded the letter, slipped it back in the envelope and held it out to him.

He took it, his eyes never leaving her face and put it inside his shirt pocket.  “What about you, Gabrielle?” he asked tightly.  “Do you want us to be together?”

“Yes.  Is it what you want?”

“Yes!” he muttered thickly and reached for her.  “It’s what I’ve wanted ever since we met.”

“Me too,” she managed to say before they kissed.

Mark got his wish.  Two years later, they got married and named their first child, Mark.

Source:  ABC News

The Queen of Soul

“When God loves you, what can be better than that?” ~ Aretha Franklin

There is so much I could write about Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul but I decided to concentrate on the highlights of her music career and her “social and civic contributions”.

Aretha Louise Franklin was  born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee.  Her father, Clarence LaVaughn “C. L.” Franklin was a Baptist minister and a circuit preacher while her mother, Barbara was an accomplished piano player and vocalist.  Theirs was a troubled marriage because of her father’s philandering.  The couple separated in 1948.  Before her tenth birthday, Aretha’s mother died from a heart attack.  Several women, including her grandmother and Mahalia Jackson alternated helping the children at the Franklin home and it was during this time that Aretha learned to play the piano by ear.

Following her mother’s death, Aretha began singing solos at New Bethel, debuting with the hymn, “Jesus, Be a Fence Around Me.”  When she was twelve, her father became her manager, bringing her on the road with him during his “gospel caravan” tours for her to perform in various churches.

Her music career found Aretha signing on with big recording giants such as Columbia, Atlantic, Arista and RCA.  She belted out many hits such as You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, I Say A Little Prayer, Hold On, I’m Comin’.  And she thrilled the younger generation with Who’s Zoomin’ Who and Freeway of Love.  Hearing Freeway of Love transported me back to the ’80s which were a great time for me when I was living in New York.  And who could forget I Knew You Were Waiting For Me, her number one duet with George Michael?

In 1980, she gave a command performance before the Queen at Prince Albert’s Hall, in 2009 she sang at the 2009 inauguration of President Barak Obama.  In the following year, she received an honorary degree from Yale University.  In 2014, she received honorary degrees from Harvard University and New York University as well as honorary doctorates in music from Princeton, Yale, Brown, Pennsylvania, Berkeley, New England Conservatory of Music and University of Michigan.  She was the recipient of other honors such as Doctor of Humane Letters and Doctor of Law degree.

Aretha was dubbed “one of the giants of soul music, and indeed of American pop as a whole.  More than any other performer, she epitomized soul at its most gospel-charged.”  Her voice was described as being a “powerful mezzo-soprano voice” and she was praised for her arrangements and interpretations of other artists’ hit songs.  At the age of 14 when she recorded her first album, Songs of Faith, Jerry Wexler declared that her voice “was not that of a child but rather of an ecstatic hierophant.”  A hierophant is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy.  Aretha’s explanation for that would have likely been, “Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.”

Singing and music weren’t her only passions.  Aretha was a civil rights activist.  Throughout her life, she was involved in the struggle for civil rights and women’s rights.  When Angela Davis was jailed in 1970, Aretha told Jet Magazine that, “Angela Davis must go free… Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people.”  Not surprisingly, her songs “Respect” and “Natural Woman” became anthems of these movements for social change.  She was also a staunch supporter of Native American rights, supporting their struggles worldwide and movements which fostered their cultural rights.

“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right” ~ Aretha Franklin

It was a sad day when it was announced that the great Aretha Franklin passed away after losing her battle with pancreatic cancer.  She leaves behind a world touched by her music, her incomparable voice and her effortless work in championing human, civil and women’s rights.  She was the first woman to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.  In 2013, she was again ranked first in Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Singers” list.

“American history wells up when Aretha sings.  Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock and roll—the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope” – President Obama in response to her performance of “A Natural Woman” at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors.

Notes to Women salutes the woman with “the voice of the civil rights movement, the voice of black America” and a “symbol of black equality”  She was an inspiration not only for those in the music world but for all of us.  Although she is no longer with us, her music, her legacy will live on.

“It really is an honor if I can be inspirational to a younger singer or person. It means I’ve done my job” ~ Aretha Franklin

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Sources:  Wikipedia; Brainy Quote

Freedom

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She stood on top of the mountain, her eyes riveted to the American flag as it flapped gently in the breeze.  It was more spectacular than the surrounding landscape.  It was a symbol of freedom from a life of religious persecution in a country where being a Christian led to her husband’s arrest and imprisonment.  After learning of his death resulting from vicious beatings and torture, she fled their home.  She was two months pregnant.

For days she traveled on foot with nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat except sunflower seeds but still, she continued to cling to her faith.  She found a safe house in Bangkok but shortly after, Thai police showed up, seized her possessions and sent her to detention.  The judge ordered her deportation.  Back in the jail cell, she prayed, “God, please help me.”

And He did, through the U.S. Embassy officials who helped her to escape from the Chinese and to America.  Now she and their daughter were free. One day she would tell her about her brave father.

175 words.

It was inspired by a true event and was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge.  For more information, please visit Here.

To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Christian Post; The Voice of the Martyrs CanadaCBN News