As you will recall from my post 24 Hours – Is It Enough?, we don’t always accomplish what we want in a week. That happened this week because of a great “deal” I got.
A friend told me about a nearby farm that sells Sweet Potatoes for six dollars a box. Now, this isn’t your ordinary box. This is 40 to 50 pounds of Sweet Potatoes. The catch is, you can’t select the size. So, many of them are small fingerling potatoes while some are WHOPPERS!
So what do you do when you get more food than you can eat? CAN IT! I realize home canning is mostly out of vogue, but we generally can one or two items a year. Earlier this summer, we canned a dozen pints of peaches. Yum, yum! Now we are canning the Sweet Potatoes, which are almost the same color.
Anyway, I have been helping my wife, Kris, peel, and cube the potatoes. In doing so, I also discovered that raw sweet potato tastes very much like a carrot. Crunchy, orange, and sweet. So I sliced some French Fry-sized pieces and put them in water in the fridge. So far, so good as a healthy snack.
Along the way, we needed to insert the rubber seal into the lid of the pressure canner. As you can see, it wasn’t going well. Fortunately, Kris had a new replacement ring and that fit easily into the groove.
The point is, peeling and cubing the potatoes have taken time away from posting the next chapter of Mirror Mirror. My goal is to have it ready for you in a couple days. You may have also noticed that I don’t have any pictures along with my chapters. I’ve been thinking of creative ways to provide a bit more visual effect, while not making assumptions about how the characters look. Writing is hard enough. I need a graphic artist for the rest of it.
Thank you for your patience. Finding a theme has been a challenge. I know that if I paid for Premium, I would be able to do more customizing, but I really don’t want to devote the time to that right now. I hope you enjoy Chapter 3. PLEASE, provide some feedback with a Comment or a Like.
When we last saw our heroes, they had endured the unexpected registration line. After some struggle, they found their lockers. Now they need to find their first-hour classrooms.
Chapter 2 (Mirror Mirror by JD Rockel)
Rosa had been fidgeting as they worked the locks. Looking at the school map from her packet she said, “Ella before we find the classrooms I need to find the lady’s room. There’s one around the corner. Wait here for me, I’ll be right back.”
Ella stood by the lockers staring past the hustle and bustle around her. While she wanted to focus on the boys, her anxiety made that hard. On the walls between some of the classrooms were announcements and posters. A brightly colored poster with glittering stars caught her eye across the hall. She saw the word dance on the poster. Hmm, a dance. I need to check this out. She stepped towards the poster without looking to her side.
“Ouch!” The brief but sharp pain in her foot brought Ella back to reality. A body pushed against her and she tumbled backward onto the floor.
Landing on top of her, a startled voice said, “I’m sorry. You stepped out in front of me. Are you OK?”
Ella’s focus sharpened onto the most beautiful brown eyes she had ever seen. As she scanned up past his forehead, she saw softly curled hair of exactly the same color. “I think so,” she said.
“Let me help you up. Again, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK. I wasn’t looking when I started walking.”
The boy got up and reached down to help Ella. Taking hold of both hands, he helped her to her feet. Once standing, Ella found herself looking into a concerned but handsome face. “Hi, I’m Jerry. I guess I was moving too fast. Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes, Jerry. My foot hurts a bit, but I think it’s OK. I’m Ella. What a way to meet someone.”
“I agree, Ella. Maybe we can meet again under more controlled circumstances.” Jerry chuckled and Ella bashfully joined in. She bent over slightly to wipe imaginary dirt off her pants.
“That would be nice, Jerry.”
“I’ll look for you later, Ella.” Jerry took off down the hall and Ella watched him until he disappeared.
Rosa came up behind her sister. “Thanks, Ella. I really needed to go.”
“Huh?” Still dazed, Ella turned around. “Right. What were we doing?”
“We were finding our first classroom.” Holding the packet up in front of Ella’s face, Rosa said, “My classroom is A132.”
Ella shook her head and blinked her eyes. Glancing down at her packet she said, “Mine is A212. It’s not fair being split up for our classes. We’re learning the same stuff.”
“I don’t know. Maybe they got word that we were troublemakers in the past.”
Ella scrunched her eyebrows and lips, putting on her I’m not amused face. Glaring at Rosa she said, “That was a long time ago. I doubt they do such thorough background checks.”
Ella was the primary troublemaker of the past. Rosa, wanting to be the good sister, obliged Ella’s devious plans. While Ella never planned anything dangerous, switching places caused its share of unrest in the classroom.
Rosa looked at the map of the school again. “According to this, my classroom is on the other side of this group of rooms. Yours is upstairs on the second floor above our lockers. There are stairs at the end of this hall.” Rosa pointed towards the stairs.
“Come with me please, Rosa.” The encounter with Jerry had her head spinning and her stomach feeling queasy.
“Sure, sis. Joined at the hip, right?”
They pushed through the crowd of students and made their way to the stairs. Climbing the stairs, the room was easily found.
“I’m leaving you here, Ella, so I can find my room.”
“I understand. I’ll try to be OK.”
“You will be fine. I’ll pray for you on my way back downstairs. Maybe you’ll meet someone nice here. Look through your packet. There’s plenty to do while you wait.”
“Thanks, sis.” Ella tried to relax. She entered the nearly empty classroom and selected a seat straight in from the door. Slumping into the seat, Ella closed her eyes. Between the anxiety and some pain from the collision, tears welled up in her eyes.
Ella felt a chill, as though her neck got tickled by something and it traveled down to her stomach. Ella felt as though she was being watched. She looked towards the door and saw a boy gazing in. Even with tears in her eyes, she was sure he was looking at her. Was that Jerry? Ella blinked hard to clear her eyes and peered at the door. The boy was gone.
Ella’s wondering over what she saw at the door was interrupted by a girl to her left.
“Excuse me, my name is Emily. Can we be classroom buddies?”
Classroom buddies? Really? Emily was nearly as joyful as Joss, but without the deep dimples. Her wavy, light brown hair fell over her shoulders and down her back. The blue top she wore had shoulder straps that crisscrossed under her neck, framing her oval face. The slightest hint of a dimple highlighted her chin.
Ella turned to her left and said, “Hello. What do classroom buddies do exactly?”
“Oh, I’m just teasing. I’m hoping to make some friends right away. My parents moved here to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania over the summer. So, I don’t know anyone yet.”
“OK Emily, that’s fair. My name is Ella, short for Rochelle. I’ve lived around here all my life. I could help you find stuff outside of school.”
“Oh, that would be so helpful. Thanks, Ella. Finding good pizza and subs in a new town can be a formidable task.”
“I agree with that. Pizza is the holy grail of food. An adventure to track down, and once found, shared only with close friends.”
Emily and Ella both laughed. Maybe finding new friends wouldn’t be that hard, at least for girlfriends.
“Have you looked in your packet yet,” Ella asked?
“No. I was just about to when you walked in. I didn’t want to lose an opportunity.”
Ella looked around. She counted seven other people besides Emily. Perhaps she was shyer than she let on and hadn’t introduced herself to them. Or perhaps they all turned her down. Ella’s anxiety began to rise. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to look through my packet,” Ella said.
“That’s fine. I need to look at mine too. I’m sure we will have plenty of opportunities to talk.”
Ella sat straight forward at her desk and pulled all the papers out of her packet. The first page said, “Welcome to High School” with a photo of very happy-looking students and teachers. That’s reassuring. The next page was a statement of the school’s mission and Respect Pledge. Ella read through the Mission Statement. It called the school a “learning community where all people are accepted and supported”. I hope that’s true. It also spoke of responsible, productive, life-long learners with the community sharing a commitment to education. This sounded very positive to Ella. She now had a mission to make sure Mom and Dad were involved in her schooling. Of course, they had been, but this made it official for high school.
Is there anything fun to do here? She kept looking through the packet and pulled out the Germantown High School Student Handbook next. She got to page 18, Code of Classroom Conduct, and quickly flipped through the rest. Does anyone actually read this stuff?
Eventually, she found Athletics and Activities. Scanning the Clubs, a couple stood out: Best Buddies; Cups of Controversy; Emerging Women’s Salon; G-town Power; Men’s Choir – Now that’s a club I could spend time in. Ella imagined being the center of attention from a choir of men. Many of the others made no sense from their names. I guess I will have to do some research.
Halfway through the booklet Ella felt overwhelmed again and put it away. The next piece of paper described some other clubs and activities. Later. She glanced at the school activity calendar. Hmm, Back to School Dance. That’s what the poster was about. I will certainly check into that. Finally, she found her class schedule. She decided she was too tired to think about it. Putting everything back in the envelope, she slouched in her chair.
Another dozen students entered her classroom before the adult there spoke up. “Good morning, I’m Mr. Edwards. I teach math here. Welcome to first period.” Mr. Edwards was young. Ella figured he couldn’t be over thirty. With short brown hair and sideburns, Mr. Edwards looked quite amenable.
He continued, “If you have talked to anyone who attended Germantown High School over the past years, you know that they got their info packets in the mail. The printing company didn’t get the packets done in time. Therefore, you had the great pleasure of standing in long lines being bored to death this morning. As you are all freshmen, or should I say fresh-people to be politically correct, just go with the flow as you find your classes today.”
The class laughed. Mr. Edwards continued, “The bell to first period has been delayed today until everyone gets their packets. If you have looked inside your envelope, you may have been overwhelmed by the amount of information.”
That’s for sure. Ella was glad that her math teacher had some sensitivity to what she was feeling.
“All I will say is, don’t throw anything away. You will find the information useful eventually. Scan through it all and get an idea of where to find information. One thing you will definitely want to read in its entirety is the Student Handbook… NOT!”
Again, all the students broke out into laughter. Ella was feeling a lot better. Mr. Edwards continued his banter for some time. He was also responsible for issuing laptops to the students. Working off a list, he called off names. Each student walked up, signed the list, and took a laptop.
“OK, here we go. You can access the book material on the laptops, or… you can use these dinosaurs of paper books? Who wants a dinosaur?” A few students raised their hands. Mr. Edwards made short work of introducing the material they would be learning, and passed out class expectations and assignments. Throughout the necessary first day’s work, he kept up a good amount of comical banter.
It didn’t take long for the next bell to ring. “Remember what I said about running in the halls. Oh, never mind. Get out of here.”
The rest of the day involved going from class to class. Ella looked at her class schedule and the map during each class to find out where she had to go next. As time passed, her backpack filled with a few books and assignments. Fortunately, she had brought a notebook to keep track of all the information. She caught up with Rosa between lunches. Ella was upset that they didn’t get the same lunch period either. At the end of the day, she found Rosa at their lockers.
Rosa saw her coming. “Ready to go home, Ella?”
“I sure am. I’m exhausted.”
Walking to the bus Ella caught a glimpse of both Joss and Emily. They smiled and waved. There was no more feeling of being watched and she didn’t see Jerry’s face again. It was so strange. What would tomorrow bring? She was too tired to think about it.
Thank you for your attention. Stay tuned and invite a friend to read along with you. Any comments you have regarding my writing or the way the story is progressing are welcomed.
BTW, I am tweaking the look and feel of the site. You can use the menu at the right to find recent posts. The menu at the top takes you to each category. Enjoy.
Mirror Mirror: Chapter 19
Unexpected moments. Near disasters. Life is unpredictable, true? How one reacts during a life-threatening situation says a lot about a person. One of our friends will have to act quickly.
Mirror Mirror: Chapter 18
Have you stretched a promise because you thought it would make a friend happy? The problem with stretching a promise is, the promise could break.
Mirror Mirror: Chapter 17
The best part of Sunday is lunch after church. What do you talk about when this was your friend’s first time at church? Who knows, your friend may start the conversation.
I hope you enjoyed the first half of Chapter One. We will continue with the second half. In the next post I will provide all of Chapter Two. As you will see, things start to… More
I hope you enjoyed the first half of Chapter One. We will continue with the second half.
In the next post I will provide all of Chapter Two. As you will see, things start to get interesting. While writing I tried to keep each Chapter to about 2,000 words. After you read Chapter Two, I will post a combination of the two chapters. I would love your comments on whether the two can / should be combined or not. Regardless, here is the rest of Chapter One.
Chapter One (B)
Ella and Rosa left the line and walked around the end of the table. Walking behind Mrs. Jenkins they passed through double doors. Turning right, they walked through the commotion looking for any clue of where to go. Ella pulled Rosa into a corner, as out of the way as she could.
“Stop here Rosa.” Ella’s heart was beating hard within her chest and her short breaths quickened. “Let’s talk for a minute.”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“You’re my sister, right?”
“Of course, Ella. Why even ask that?”
Ella glanced around. “I’m sorry, but I’m a little freaked out right now and I don’t want anyone to notice.”
“That’s kind of hard with all the kids around, Ella.”
“I know but I’m finding it hard to breathe and my heart’s pounding. I don’t know why. I guess I expected something different when we first got here. All the confusion and the thought of meeting new people is exciting but overwhelming. I expected you to be my support, but we’ve been put in separate classrooms. How can you support me, sis?”
“I am supporting you right now. It’ll be OK. Remember what the youth pastor said when we were on summer retreat? He said that we will always encounter times in our life when we want to freak out. But God knows what we are going through, and He has already prepared a solution for us. Try to trust Him.”
“That’s easy to say but I don’t feel any better.”
“Close your eyes…” Ella hesitated. She rubbed her arms as if she was cold. “I feel silly, Rosa.”
“Trust me. Close your eyes…” Ella surveyed her surroundings once more and then closed her eyes.
“Take some slow deep breaths and listen to my voice. In through the nose… out through the mouth.” Rosa made breathing noises so Ella could follow the slow rhythmic timing. “Mom and Dad and the people at Orchard Hill have prepared us for being here. We’re OK. I will be by your side whenever I can. And if I must leave, Jesus will never leave you.”
Ella’s breathing began to slow. It didn’t take long, and she opened her eyes. With the best smile she could muster, Ella looked at Rosa. “Thanks, sis. You’re the best. What do we do first?”
“Let’s find our lockers.”
Rosa opened her packet and pulled out the map of the school. “This doesn’t help us find the lockers,” she said.
Ella scanned the hall. The lockers were clean and nicely painted but with a drab institutional blue-gray. 621, 622, 623 on one side and 535, 536, 537 on the other. “What are our locker numbers?”
“Mine is 213,” Rosa said looking at the label on her packet.
Checking her own packet, Ella said, “Mine is 212. I guess we should find another hallway.”
“There was a hallway on the right when we first came in,” Rosa offered. “Let’s retrace our steps past the registration tables and try that hallway.”
They walked together through the throng of students, many looking as confused as Ella felt. The girls continued past the tables and were able to avoid the arriving students. Turning left, they passed the main office. Once they got to more classrooms Ella searched for locker numbers again.
“The one hundred numbers are on this side,” she said pointing to the right.
Rosa called out from Ella’s left. “Over here, Ella.” They walked past the first classroom door.
Ella avoided several students as she crossed over and counted, “210, 211, 212 and 213. I guess these are ours.”
The lockers didn’t have locks on them. The information they received in the mail a month ago provided a list of items to bring on the first day. Combination locks for the lockers were item one. The girls had purchased them and practiced the combinations together in their bedroom. At their last school, the sisters agreed they should memorize the combinations to each other’s locks. They anticipated it would come in handy someday.
Each girl removed a lock from their mostly empty backpacks. They worked the combinations and affixed the locks to the lockers.
“OK, Ella. Get your bearings. We should remember where our lockers are.”
Ella slowly turned around surveying the crowded hall. “This part is easy. We are near the main entrance. Now, what about classrooms?”
Welcome to Chapter One of Mirror Mirror, my first attempt at writing a novel. I had some interest in writing stories, but nothing seemed appropriate to share with the public. I have done a lot of research in the past as you can tell from my religion articles. That skill has come in handy for this book.
As I am writing about life in a specific high school, it became important to learn what I could about its floorplan. Thankfully they provided a map of the campus online. While I am from the general area in Wisconsin, I was never in this high school.
On the Writing Fiction page, you will find some commentary on how I approached writing the book and especially in the first paragraph. Also, I wanted to use a larger font, but so far I can’t find how to do that in this Theme and in the Classic block below. You can always use Ctrl-Scroll Wheel to magnify the page. When done, Ctrl-0 (zero) gets you back to 100%.
Chapter One (A)
The bus ride to school was short but bumpy. Rochelle sat quietly next to her twin sister, Rosalinda, trying not to fall off the edge of her seat. She noticed the boys traveling with them. Their commotion added to her anxiety. The vehicle stopped and the passengers formed a line to disembark. Once outside, Rochelle and her sister moved as one, the pressing horde pushing them forward. Stepping inside the building, Rochelle’s heart beat faster. A subtle pungency from them filled her nostrils. There was such a variety compared to her last school. All shapes, sizes, and colors. Her palms grew damp. The possibilities intrigued her. They all looked like men, not boys. Welcome to public high school.
“Rosa, what do you see all around us?”
“You mean the mass of humanity?”
“No, silly. All the boys. Imagine the possibilities.”
“Right, like getting distracted. But that’s not what you mean, is it?”
“Of course not. I’m talking about meaningful relationships. You should be thinking the same. We didn’t have a chance to interact much with boys at our last school. Everything was too proper in the Christian school. Now the prospects are endless. What should we do first?”
“We should check in first.” Rosa pointed to a row of white, eight-foot folding tables ahead of them. “We need to go over there.”
The students had been directed down a short hall into the cafeteria. Most of the lunch tables were folded up and pushed to the kitchen end. It was a tangled mess of humanity. Students from all grades were pressed together in the room.
This was a big change from previous years when students received their information by mail. There was space at each end of the row of tables for students to pass by.
“I want our first day to go smoothly, Rochelle.” Rosalinda took a hold of her sister’s shoulders and guided her into a line. In front of their row of students was a table with a sign that read “A – H”.
“Well, I doubt it will go smoothly. Finding our lockers, classrooms, new teachers, meeting guys. And I’m going by a new name. Rochelle is too formal. I want something with a little edge. What about Rockie or Rocco?”
“I think they both sound like boy’s names. If you want to meet men, try again.”
“Well smarty-pants, what do you suggest?”
“How about Shelly or Ella?”
“Shelly is too girly, and Ella is what Mom calls me all the time.”
“What’s not girly about Rosie?”
“How ‘bout Rosh or Rosha?”
“Better… I’ve got to think about that.”
“That will keep you occupied while we wait, sis.”
“Come on, come on!” Rochelle said, talking to no one in particular.
“Ella, take a deep breath, OK?” Rosa’s face was scrunched, and she sounded annoyed. She resorted to the name commonly used at home. “Don’t you remember the Bible verses we learned about patience?”
Several years ago, the youth group at church spent a month talking about patience. Rochelle did not like being reminded about right living. Life was too short.
“Oh, please. Hmm, I think you’re right. I should stick with Ella. Probably not too many Ellas here. Thanks, sis.”
“Whatever works. That makes it easy for me.” Rosa seemed pleased as her frown disappeared.
Ella’s mind wandered. Hmm, this line is moving at a snail’s pace. I wonder if Rosa’s heard this joke?
“Hey Rosa, did you hear the one about the snail that was climbing the apple tree?”
“No. What happened?”
“Well, an ant was on his way down the tree and asked, ‘What are you doing climbing this apple tree?’ The snail said, ‘I’m going up to get an apple.’” Ella used a deep cartoon voice for the snail. In a higher voice, Ella continued, “The ant said, ‘There aren’t any apples up in this tree yet, it’s only June.’ The snail replied, ‘There’ll be apples by the time I get there.’”
Rosa laughed and so did the girl in front of them.
“That’s good.” The girl turned towards them. She had the most wonderful, joy-filled smile on her face. Unmistakable dimples formed on her cheeks. “My name is Jocelyn; you can call me Joss.”
“Hi, I’m Ella and this is my sister Rosa.”
“I’m guessin’ you two are twins. Right?” Jocelyn asked.
“How could you tell?” Ella asked with a smirk on her smile.
“Well either I’m seeing double or you two are identical twins.” Joss had a contagious laugh that got Ella and Rosa giggling.
Ella and Rosa had identical physical features. Ella made sure their dark brown ombre hair was styled identically with loose beachy waves. Their diamond-shaped faces with slightly pronounced chins let them be visually expressive. None of their facial expressions appeared exaggerated, except when Ella was really mad.
Today they chose to dress alike also wearing red tank tops and sleeveless denim vests. Their matching denim pants had flared bottoms with the fading matching the vests precisely. Neither one was much for makeup or jewelry but they wore simple gold huggie hoop earrings.
“Yup, we were born four minutes apart,” Ella offered. “I was born first.” Ella had this thing about being born first. She used being the oldest of the two as an argument for getting her way. The four minutes were her way of reminding Rosa that Ella considered herself the more significant sister. Ella knew Rosa didn’t buy it. It had been a point of contention for many years.
“So, is it true that twins have a psychic connection? Do you know what the other is thinking?” Jocelyn’s wide-eyed amazement overtook the jovial smile.
Rosa jumped in. “Not really. At least I haven’t noticed it.”
Ella turned to face her sister. “Oh, admit it, Rosa. You can tell when I want to do something. Especially if you think it’s wrong.”
“Yeah, but that’s because you’re predictable.”
Ella rolled her eyes. “Whatever.”
Turning to face Joss, Ella added, “I can tell what Rosa is going to say. I probably have the advantage since I’m the firstborn.”
Joss appeared mesmerized. “Wow, that’s gucci.”
Inch forward. Wait, wait, wait. Inch forward.
“Hey, Joss. Do you know why we have to stand in line? I thought all this information was to be mailed a week ago.”
“What I heard Ella, was some sort of printing snafu happened. They couldn’t get the info to the post office in time.”
The line inched forward, and Joss arrived at the table.
Ella turned to get Rosa’s attention. “Rosa, we should make it a point to meet some guys right away. Maybe in our first class? We will get the same class schedule, won’t we?”
“Ella, why are you so fixated on dating? It will happen. God will provide in His time.”
“That’s the problem, Rosa. God’s time takes too long. All we could do was wait in junior high. I can’t wait any longer.”
“Well, I suggest you do or you’ll get yourself in trouble.”
There were times when Rosa’s focus on God annoyed Ella. They grew up in the same church, same Sunday school classes, and same youth group, but trusting God interfered with Ella’s plans more often than not. Ella wanted what she wanted on her timetable. Waiting for God’s timing was too annoying.
Joss turned towards them holding a large manila envelope. “See you two later.” Her amazing smile returned as she turned and walked away. The two sisters finally stepped up to the table. The lady sitting there was looking down at her list, marking on a sheet of names.
She spoke as she lifted her head, “Hello, and you are? Whoa, am I seeing double?”
“Yes and no,” Rosa replied. “We are Rosalinda and Rochelle DeLuca. We are identical twins.”
“I was born first,” Ella offered.
Rosa tried unsuccessfully not to sneer.
“Well, I will probably find both of your packets together here. Let’s see… Oh yes, here you are.”
After looking at the packets the lady set them down on the table as if to rest. Her eyelids drooped making her look very tired for so early in the morning. Still, she forced a smile for the girls. “The labels on the front show your first-period class and locker numbers. You have different first-period classes, but your lockers are right next to each other.”
Coming back to life, just a bit, she handed both packets to Rosa. “I’ll let you sort them out.”
Rosa handed Ella’s packet to her.
The lady continued, “The information inside will help you find your way around the building. There is a map of the campus, a calendar of upcoming events, and a student handbook. I’m Mrs. Jenkins. I teach English. Welcome to Germantown High School.”
Pesto and Potholes is one of Susan M. Baganz’s earlier books. It is the story of Tony DeLuca and Renata, who have experienced heartbreaking relationships. They vowed never to pursue another relationship. Then they met one another. As the title suggests, their road to romance was filled with potholes. Though Tony was a bit more willing to take another chance with this beautiful young woman, Renata had been hurt much more deeply and resisted along the way. And Tony’s hot temper doesn’t help either.
I highly recommend this fun book as a look into what God can do in one’s life. It will also give you the back story of Rochelle and Rosalinda’s parents. Keep reading here and you can meet Rochelle (Ella) and Rosalinda (Rosa), the heroines of my story, Mirror Mirror.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce my fictional friends Ella and Rosa. They are twin sisters born to Tony and Renata DeLuca. I have had the pleasure of getting to know the girls over the past year. They have agreed to let me chronicle their adventures as they start high school. Rather than tell you about Ella and Rosa, I will let them introduce themselves.
Hello. I’m Ella DeLuca. I’m so excited to start public high school. My parents put Rosa and me in Christian schools since kindergarten. It’s been OK, but there weren’t many opportunities to spend quality time with boys, if you know what I mean. Now I will be free to meet a lot of boys and not have well-meaning adults watch over me so closely. I can’t say my parents have been oppressive at all, but there are times I wish I could do what I want. I guess that’s part of high school: spreading your wings. I realize that my studies are important, but I’m not as focused on academics as my sister is. All she has been talking about is what we will be learning. I want to have fun, and academics can get in the way. I’m sure you will see what I mean as you read what Mr. Rockel writes about us.
Hello. I’m Rosa DeLuca. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My sister Ella and I have lived in Germantown, Wisconsin all our lives. Our parents are great and have provided us with a great home and a wonderful education. It can get a little crazy at home with my four siblings. Some days I’m not sure if my twin sister or the little twins are worse. Mom and Dad are dedicated Christians and have helped us learn what living for Jesus is all about. I’m concerned about my sister. While she has been to all the same church groups as me over the years, I don’t think she really understands the importance of trusting God as I do. I’m looking forward to high school so I can prepare for some sort of career. I have no idea what yet, but I’m sure that will become clear in the next few years. I wasn’t too excited about letting Mr. Rockel write about our lives, but the idea has grown on me. I hope you will enjoy reading about our adventures.
Thank you, girls. As I said, the sisters were born to Tony and Renata. May of 2011 was a joyous year for them. Being born in 2011 means they started high school in August of 2026. I realize that may be a bit mind-bending, but this is a novel. So as this unfolds, you will be looking a bit into the future. Enjoy it. I will give you parts of a chapter so the post doesn’t get excessively long. Shortly, I will let you receive a chapter at a time by e-mail if you so desire. As always, I ask you to bear with me as I continue to learn WordPress.
Welcome to our first discussion on world religions. I hope that through this information we can come to a better understanding of the commonality and the differences in belief around the world. Through this understanding, I trust each of you can find new meaning in your life and a sense of how to better live with those around you.
As I mentioned previously, there are thousands of documented religions around the world. As this is not intended to be an academic study, I chose to select from the faiths that have the most adherents around the world. Ranked in order from most adherents down are my choices.
Christianity – 2.4 Billion
Islam – 1.9 Billion
Secular – 1.2 Billion
Hinduism – 1.2 Billion
Buddhism – 500 Million
Spiritism – 15 Million
Judaism – 14.7 Million
Bahá’í – 5 Million
A few comments about this list. The named categories are broad. We know that Christianity can be broken down into two large groups: Catholic and Protestant. Protestants can be broken down into hundreds of denominations. Likewise, we have recently seen in news reports that Islam is represented by various degrees of orthodoxy. Indeed, all religions, when examined closely, have variations in beliefs or in the degree of adherence.
You may also be wondering why Secular is listed among the religions. I believe it is valid because it represents a collection of beliefs. An atheist lives by a set of faith beliefs based on evidence just like anyone else. A very spiritual person may base some of their faith on personal, intangible experiences.
When we are done investigating each of these groups individually, we will attempt to identify common beliefs and differences.
While there are numerous religions that have adherents of roughly five million, Bahá’í is unique in that its followers around the world follow the same beliefs consistently. To those of you of the Bahá’í Faith, I wish to humbly apologize in advance if anything I say below misrepresents the faith. Should I do so, I would appreciate a comment to correct my misunderstanding.
The beliefs of Bahá’í are communicated to the world through “Manifestations of God”. These are humans who have been empowered to hear and share God’s message to humanity for a particular age. A partial list of these Manifestations includes: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.
The first modern Manifestation who started Bahá’í is Husayn Ali, born in Iran in 1817. A subsequent Manifestation is Baháʼu’lláh who claimed the title in 1863. He wrote extensively from his enlightenment. This collection of writings is called The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, The Most Holy Book.
In the opening paragraphs he writes that God is humanity’s creator and reveals His laws to us. “They whom God has endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples.” [The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 2]
Life of the Spirit: “… the purpose of our lives is to know God and to attain His presence.”
The Human Soul: “Every human being possesses an immortal, rational soul that passes through this world for a brief time and continues for eternity to advance towards God.”
Devotion: “Acts of devotion such as prayer, meditation, fasting, pilgrimage, and service to others are inherent to religious life. Through them, individuals and communities are able to continually reinforce the unique bond that exists between God and humanity.”
A Life of Generous Giving: “Just as a candle’s purpose is to provide light, the human soul was created to give generously. We fulfil our highest purpose in a life of service in which, with humility and detachment, we offer our time, energy, knowledge, and financial resources.”
Character and Conduct: “The cultivation of spiritual qualities in this world is inseparable from an ongoing refinement of our conduct in which our actions increasingly come to reflect the nobility and integrity with which every human being is endowed. Such spiritual qualities are not acquired through focusing on the self; they are developed in service to others.”
God and His Creation: “The Bahá’í Writings explain that the reality of God is beyond the understanding of any mortal mind, though we may find expressions of His attributes in every created thing. Throughout the ages, He has sent a succession of Divine Messengers, known as Manifestations of God, to educate and guide humanity, awakening in whole population’s capacities to contribute to the advancement of civilization to an extent never before possible.”
Revelation: “God, the Creator of the universe, is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-merciful.” This revelation comes through the Manifestations of God as described previously so that, “humanity’s spiritual, intellectual and moral capacities have been cultivated.”
Nature: “The beauty, richness, and diversity of the natural world are all expressions of the attributes of God.”
An Ever-Advancing Civilization: “Humanity, having passed through the ages of infancy and childhood, now stands at the threshold of its collective maturity, the hallmark of which will be the unification of the human race in a global civilization.”
Universal Peace: “The Bahá’í Writings are replete with references to universal peace—“the supreme goal of all mankind”—as well as explanations of the social principles with which this peace is associated. Among these principles are the independent search after truth; the oneness of the entire human race, which is the pivotal principle of the Bahá’í Faith; the abolition of all forms of prejudice; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; and the confirmation of justice as the ruling principle in human affairs.”
Summary: The Bahá’í Faith believes in a creator God whose nature is beyond our understanding. This God reveals Himself to humanity through select individuals to teach humanity how to live productive, peaceful lives. Humans have been created as immortal souls who will eternally approach the presence of God. [I found no clear teaching to ensure ultimately being in God’s presence.] Our duty on earth is to appreciate the created nature surrounding us and to ever advance our civilization towards the goal of a worldwide community of peace. We live one material life before transitioning into eternity.
Please comment and let me know if I am presenting this information clearly enough for you. Remember, this blog is for you.
“Like Papa Bear in the Goldilocks story, Sam Turner had discovered a strange woman sleeping in the bed of a house he owned.”
This sentence begins Stay With Me by award-winning author Becky Wade.
Stay With Me is a contemporary romance novel. It is 396 pages in print and is available in hardcover or paperback. We all read the Kindle version, though I had my concerns about letting the ducks have e-readers near the pond. Stay with Me is the first book in Becky Wade’s Misty River series.
Here is how our conversation went:
Louie: I love a good, heart-pounding romance novel.
Huey: That’s all you read, Louie.
Louie: Not true. I just like romances the best. When you get to the part where you know the two main characters are meant for each other, your heart just melts.
JD: That would be Genevieve Woodward and Sam Turner. Genevieve is a well-loved women’s Bible study author. She tours the country giving inspirational talks.
Sam owns a farm and runs a coffee house where he serves freshly baked pastries each morning.
Gen returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to investigate an anonymous letter she received implying her parents were guilty of some deep, dark secret. Successful people like Gen need to keep up appearances. In Gen’s case, this meant hiding a secret from her fans. She is physically affected by this secret and pulls off the road during the night before reaching her parent’s home. She falls asleep in Sam’s unoccupied cottage.
Dewey: This book is all about secrets. Gen’s got a secret, Sam’s got a secret, and Gen’s parents have a secret.
Louie: A lot of secrets.
JD: Gen and her sister Natasha investigate their parent’s past in search of clues. This leads them to a well-publicized murder the details of which are sparse.
Louie: And through it all, Gen and Sam fall in love.
Huey: Oh, give it a rest Louie.
JD: Yes, but all good romances have bumps in the road.
Dewey: These bumps nearly derailed the romance trolley.
Huey: You’re mixing metaphors again, Dewey.
“Relationships were painful and messy and beautiful and important. The mess came with the beauty. The pain came with the importance. That was life.”
JD: Settle down guys. Who wants to comment on the writing style?
Dewey: I was fascinated by how Becky intertwined the many storylines. Especially the way she used mini-chapters to tell Gen’s childhood backstory.
Louie: The backstory was perhaps as riveting as the main story.
JD: Well said, Louie. I agree, Becky is superb at intertwining every aspect of the story. Plot, sub-plot, backstory, history, they all flow beautifully together. It was hard to put the book down.
Huey: You mean tablet, JD.
JD: True. At least I never lost my place while reading.
Louie: One other thing. Becky’s ability to describe each detail of a scene was amazing.
Dewey: I agree. There were times when I wondered if the dialog would resume. Don’t get me wrong, it always drew me deeper into the story.
Huey: If this was a movie, I would definitely watch it again to get all the details.
Louie: It was so wonderful, I know I will read it again.
JD: So to wrap this up, the romance was good; the mystery about Gen’s parents was riveting; the back story tugged at our heartstrings; the pain being held onto by each of the characters was ultimately released through honesty and forgiveness…
Louie: And they lived happily ever after.
JD: We don’t know that, Louie. We will have to read the rest of the Misty River books to find out what happens. Thanks, guys. I appreciate all your insight. Enjoy some quiet time in the pond.
But we all agree it was a great read. We give it three feathers and one thumb up.
Greetings, bloggies. It has been a busy week of travel that has kept me off the blogosphere. I got to enjoy the near freezing temperatures of Iowa in the spring. I’m sorry to those of the frozen tundra, but I don’t miss it.
(BTW… I looked for a term that described people who read blogs. I found “blog”, “blogger”, “blogging”, “bloggy”, “bloggiest”, “bloggerati”, “blogland”, and “blogosphere”, but not words to represent the most important element of blogging, you the readers. So, I chose “bloggies” which is also the name for the Weblog Awards. If you would prefer, I will use “bloggees”. Just let me know in the comments.)
I have a couple of quick items to share. First, I appreciate each one of you that returns to see what’s new here. Please share this site with someone even if it’s not your favorite. It may turn out to be theirs.
Next, some of you may have seen a notice for the “Spring Planting” blog but didn’t find it. The short version of the long story is that I removed it temporarily. It will return with some questions for you. As I posted earlier, this blog’s for you, and I want its content to nourish you in some way.
The ducks and I have finished reading Becky Wade’s Stay With Me. We are discussing the best way to present our impressions with you but I will share that we give the book three feathers and a thumb up.
Finally, I have not forgotten the journey into world religions. You will see the first offering on the subject this week. (OK, it’s not a promise, but I will try very hard.)