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Daughter of Ishmael Blog Tour

The story of Daughter of Ishmael begins around 600 BC near ancient Jerusalem. While its setting may not be familiar to many, it will feel very familiar to those who know the story of Lehi and Ishmael their families. And, to those who haven’t heard or read their story, the themes of this book will resonate with all readers.

While I tend to shy away from dramatizations of scriptural accounts, I genuinely enjoyed this one. Diane did a masterful job taking the reader to this place we’ve never been, to a time only accessible through countless hours of study and research. I was absolutely immersed in the ancient Jewish culture and traditions, in their family life and in their faith. I love that Diane didn’t try to take their time and cater it to the modern reader. She didn’t apologize or try to placate the contemporary woman who might not quite appreciate the roles of women in those ancient times. Instead, she remained true to the time and traditions, and in so doing, my appreciation for and admiration of these brave and stalwart women increased. I think we could all “take a page from their book.” Pun intended.

I loved Hannah. She is brave and humble and dutiful. She remains firm and faithful, even under the weight of family tensions, a misguided husband, and being uprooted from her own comfortable life. She had her struggles, and I ached for her, while cheering her on.

The pacing of the book was perfect—always moving forward—every chapter, paragraph, and word essential to the story. (And I, as a writer, took a few notes. :))

As I mentioned at the beginning, the themes of this book will resonate with every reader, no matter how familiar they are with this scripture story. There is love and hate, obedience and disobedience, humility and pride, life and death, and the struggles that some righteous parents have when their children rebel. Tears filled my eyes on more than one occasion. There is heartache, though it is often mingled with joy.

Because it was so well-researched and the characters real and true to their time, there was no obvious break between fact and fiction. They flowed together seamlessly. And since I am so familiar with the story, I found myself anticipating what was coming and wondering how Hannah would react. She never disappointed. And then I found myself wondering how I would react in those same situations.

I hope I would be just like Hannah.

Short but True–the Dinner Dilemma

Comments from my kids at dinner last night:
Mmm! It smells SO good!
Is there any more?
If no one finishes theirs, I’ll eat it.
This is my favorite!
Can we have this tomorrow?

Were these comments about the my tomato basil parmesan soup, my chicken casserole, my chicken fettuccine alfredo? Perhaps my french onion soup or beef stew?

No. It was fish sticks. We had fish sticks.

And dang it, they were good.

Goodreads Giveaway!!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ella's Will by Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Ella’s Will

by Jessilyn Stewart Peaslee

Giveaway ends October 01, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Your Own Happily Ever After

I can’t sleep and I’m just thinking, of all things, about fairy tales. Yes, fairy tales. Why do we love them? Why do I love them? Why did I write my own version of one . . . twice? What is it about fairy tales that makes them timeless?

I’m no expert, but I’m just gonna throw this out there. I think the answer lies in the Happily Ever After part. Not just that there is a Happily Ever After, but that after all the struggles and pain and misunderstandings, there can still be a Happily Ever After.

But what is a Happily Ever After? Do any of us really live our own fairy tales? According to the magical version of fairy tales, I would guess that very few of us do. I mean, I don’t think any of my friends get help from birds and forest creatures to get the housework done. (And, if they truly call themselves friends, I would hope they’d share. Or else.) Also, most romances I’ve seen take more than a day or two to develop and become something real. Sometimes they even know each other’s names before they get married. Totally unromantic, I know.

Now I’m not saying that fairy tales are bad. I honestly think every childhood (and adulthood) should be filled with them. But I also think as we grow a little older, it may be wise, and even necessary, to change our definition of what fairy tales and Happily Ever Afters are, just a little bit. Otherwise, we’ll be running around searching for our proverbial fairy godmother, or even just an exceeding helpful mouse, and be sorely disappointed. Sorely, my friends.

A professor I had told a story I’ll never forget. He and his wife were on their honeymoon when they had their very first fight. It wasn’t pretty. There were tears and hurt feelings, finished off with a healthy dose of the silent treatment. When they started speaking again, they sat on the edge of the bed and cried. Why? Because they thought they had to get divorced. Surely people who loved each other and were “perfect” for each other would never fight. Right?? Well, after talking to a counselor (I’m not kidding) they realized that this was not true. Real life was a little different than the fairy tales. They were going to make it. They would choose to make it. And fifty years later, they still are.

I’ve been thinking about friends and family who have lost spouses, or who don’t have a spouse and want one, who have lost children, who are on their second and even third marriages, though they never wanted life to be that way. I think about things that have happened in my own life that, by definition, disqualify me for a fairy tale. It took my husband and me a year and a half to decide to get married. Waaayy more than two days. Sometimes—and don’t tell Cinderella this—we don’t always agree. I’ll wait while you gasp.
Are we doomed to live without our own fairy tale life? Our own Happily Ever After?? Is it something we just read about in books or watch in movies?

Heck. No.

I truly, sincerely, indubitably believe that if we are living the best we can—even with the mistakes and pain and plain old garbage—we are all living our own fairy tale lives. We are all working toward, and even getting little tastes of, what Happily Ever After really means.
I am convinced that our own stories don’t have to be devoid of strife to be truly beautiful. Everything doesn’t have to be nicely wrapped and tied with a pretty bow to be breathtaking. It can sometimes be wrapped in a grocery bag and tied with a stretched-out rubber band.

The beauty and breathtakingness is in the realness. Yes, I said breathtakingness.
There is a song from “The Scarlet Pimpernel” musical that might be appropriate to throw in right about now. I’d sing it for you, but seeing as how there is a screen between us . . .

Anyway, Marguerite sings:
Come and wake me!
Come be the love I can hold now.
Storybook love leaves me cold now.
Show me the way to stop dreaming.
There is only one perfect storybook ending,
That is the end of pretending.
That is the moment I say, love me now!

What Marguerite is saying is that she wants something real. That the only one perfect storybook ending is the one that is her own, that is real. And then, she starts singing in French, which pretty much makes everything extra true.

So, here I am, sitting in my jammies, my feet too cold because they’re next to the vent, the dishwasher running but the sink is still full of dishes. In about an hour, one of my boys is going to sneak into my bed and somehow end up with his feet digging into my back. I can pretty much guarantee my kids will argue tomorrow and they will try their darnedest to reel me into it. The weeds I pulled this morning have already started growing back. And I will most likely drop something, like a can of green beans, on my toe. I do that.

But, I will also laugh. A lot. My husband will kiss me and tell me he loves me. I will read my kids a story, and make myself sit through an episode of Power Rangers (though I will beg for Word Girl, but I will probably lose) because it means so much to them when I just sit with them. My youngest will pretend he can’t walk in the morning and say, “Will you hold me?” and have me carry him down to breakfast. I’ll kiss his soft cheek, warm from sleeping on my pillow he stole, and love it. My oldest will tease me for being shorter than he is, and I’ll pretend to be “mad”, though I love that, too. I’ll catch my boys reading, and clap when they show me the song they made up on the piano. I’ll put a Band-Aid on one little boy’s finger and cheer on another at football try-outs.

I’ll go to bed and try not to think about all the things I didn’t get done, or the things I should have said and shouldn’t have said. And then, I’ll be asleep, and I’ll wish for the thousandth time that I could be just awake enough to feel sleep.

I’m choosing my real-life, sticky, dirty, fun, sweaty, backbreaking, heartbreaking, nail-biting, joyful, busy, dream-come-true fairy tale every single day. And that is what makes it magical.

And by the way, having our Happily Ever After doesn’t come at the end of our story. It doesn’t come when we die and we’ve done all our living. It comes when we know what we’re living for.