Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hidden Message in Lincoln's Watch

By Lisa Karon Richardson

1861 was a significant year in US History. The whole nation seemed to poise on a teeter-totter just waiting to plunge into war. And yet, the normal exigencies of human existence continued. Despite the momentous events in Washington and Richmond, clothes still required washing. Heedless of the cataclysm developing, people had to keep paying their bills. And even something as reliable as a pocket watch might need to be sent for repair.

In fact, Abraham Lincoln’s watch was in the shop when news of the attack on Fort Sumter reached Washington D.C.

On April 30, 1906, The New York Times interviewed 84-year-old Jonathan Dillon. He was the watchmaker repairing Lincoln’s watch. The owner of the shop, M.W. Galt and Co, brought news of the battle to his employees. Dillon then unscrewed the dial of the watch, and scratched a message on the metal beneath:

‘The first gun is fired. Slavery is dead. Thank God we have a President who at least will try.’

He signed and dated the inscription and closed the dial. To his knowledge no one ever saw the inscription.

By 2009 the Smithsonian Institute had acquired the watch. After being contacted by Dillon’s great-great-grandson, with the bit of family lore, the museum agreed to open up the watch and see if the watchmaker’s message was indeed inside.

Unlike Geraldo’s search for Al Capone’s treasure, the museum did find a message inscribed on the brass underside of the movement. The inscription was worded differently than Mr. Dillon had recalled. The actual engraving says:

‘Jonathan Dillon
April 13-1861
Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon
April 13-1861
Washington Thank God we have a government
Jonth Dillon’

It appears that Mr. Lincoln never knew or suspected the message he carried inside his watch. And for some reason I find the whole episode fascinating. The compulsion to record history seems to be fairly commonplace. But to record your words secretly, and to literally carve them into metal? I wonder if he meant them as a blessing or a kind of talisman?

--With thanks to the Smithsonian Institute

Do you keep a journal or diary? Have you heard of any similar stories of hidden messages coming to light generations after they were left behind? What message would you like to pass down?

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in October, 2012. And in November The Magistrate’s Folly is coming from Heartsong Presents.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Cherry Blossom Capers Author Lynette Sowell

by Lynette Sowell

Welcome To Hollywood!

I was asked to blog on current events, and for those of us who like pop culture, a big annual current event has started taking place: American Idol auditions. Tens of thousands of people wait hours for their minute or less in front of the Idol judges, and all of them hoping to hear three little words. The sheer number of auditions truly boggles the mind. Do tens of thousands of people really want to be a star? You know, there's the ones who get their few minutes of fame in ridiculous costumes. Or the non-singer. "Yeah, I'm terrible, but that's why I should be on American Idol!" (Huh?)

One of the thing I love about the auditions is the happy surprises—seeing a “regular” person step up in front of Randy, Jennifer, and Steven, and without accompaniment, move them to tears in a good way. It's fun to watch my favorite competitors move up through the ranks as they grow into performers and realize a dream come true.

Of course, the flips side shows us the tears, the dashed hopes, the bewildered looks of the ones who didn't make it? I understand the tears. I'm fiercely competitive and hate to lose, even against myself. I'm no stranger to disappointment. When I was in kindergarten, I said wanted to be a TV star. That's what my mom wrote in my school days book that contained pictures and tidbits of my school years.

Did you see the young woman who always felt like she was in her twin sister's shadow? She thought making it to American Idol would pull her out of that shadow. It was heartbreaking to hear her sing, because, well, she wasn't very good at it. She hinged her hopes for a “change” on one chance that came and went. I wanted to tell her, “Honey, you are beautiful and talented in your own way. Don't depend on a show to bring that out in you.”

What many AI hopefuls want is to belong, to know they're special. Don't we all? We dream of being a part of something big, something important. Whatever dream we cherish, we think, "Oh, if I could only make it to Hollywood, my life would be so much better!" We want to belong, to be accepted. We want to shine.

One of the things I'm learning is oh so simple, yet oh so hard to get: I've already made it to Hollywood. SomeOne hangs on my every word. To Him, I'm a superstar. Flawed, human, but worthy of loving. He's got bigger plans for me than any record label. He thinks I shine. Doesn't make sense, does it? But that's grace. That's real love. That's bigger than any idol. My disappointments in this life--and there have been many, should I choose to go back and think about each one--pale in comparison. My God is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above and beyond, more than I can ask or think. I've got it made. I hope you learn that truth for yourself too.


Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of five novels and six novellas for Barbour Publishing. When Lynette's not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and writing a column for her local newspaper. Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. You can visit Lynette's author page on Facebook to learn more about her books at: https://www.facebook.com/lynettesowellauthor

Tara Whitley, an assistant White House chef, doesn’t expect to become an amateur investigator when old flame and FBI operative Jack Courtland steps back into her life and recruits her to help uncover a plot to sabotage the next State Dinner. But she doesn’t expect Jack to uncover feelings for him she thought had died. Can she trust him with her safety, and her heart? Join Tara and her three neighborhood friends in Cherry Blossom Capers as they follow dangerous paths to love.

~Cherry Blossom Capers~
Four women encounter love, danger, and mystery beyond their neighborhood near Washington D.C. Tara Whitley, assistant chef at the White House, helps FBI agent Jack Courtland unmask a State dinner saboteur. Attorney Ciara Turner and her nemesis Daniel Evans investigate a judge's murder. Archeologist intern Samantha Steele almost loses her nerve and children when she and security guard Nick Porter investigate a forgery at Mount Vernon. Coffee shop owner Susan Holland and builder Vince Martini encounter danger in her late uncle's mansion. Can these couples trust God with their lives and love as they track down killers and culprits?

Cherry Blossom Capers Blog

Find it at Amazon, CBD, Or Barnes & Noble:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We're (Not) Number 1!

by Susanne Dietze

...you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. Mark 12:30

What a night. I had Bible study in the morning, but I hadn’t yet finished my homework. I slumped at the dining room table, trying to make myself finish it but learn something at the same time. Meanwhile, the questions seemed impossible, and the words of 1 Thessalonians hurt my head, as if they were difficult math problems. I almost cried.

My husband said, “I think you’ve hit the wall.”

Of course I had. It had been a Week with a capital “W.”

We all have them. Stuff gets packed into the calendar, but, of course, other things happen to complicate matters. That week, I didn’t write at all. Or do Bible study. Or clean anything. My days were crammed with appointments and events, interspersed with unforeseen, desperate errands to find cream-colored footless tights, spherical beads of a particular shade of orange, and floral wire.

I even hiked around a bulk yard bagging dirt for my son’s science fair project … which, of course, didn’t work out right.

Frustrated and filthy one evening from working with all that science project dirt, I sent my frustrated and filthy kid off to the shower before bed. Three minutes later, he called me in to look at something weird on his leg.

Which turned out to be a black widow spider bite.

He was fine (antibiotics and a tetanus booster did the trick), but the experience was jolting and scary. I was a bit of a wreck, even the following night when I tried to do my Bible study. So yes, my husband was right. I had hit the wall.

I decided I wouldn’t go to Bible study the next day.

The following morning, I was praying before I got out of bed. Feeling a little guilty about skipping Bible study, I moaned something like, “I don’t know what to do, God. I know I should go, but I have so much to do.”

And God spoke to my heart. “Put me first.”

Three words. Totally Biblical ones, too.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness... Matthew 6:33

Lately, I’d not put God first. And I'd been wrong to do so. I decided to go to Bible study, to delve into His precious word, to worship Him, and to learn about Him, even though I didn't feel like it. I was able to complete most of my study homework and get to class on time.

I also repented of not making God my highest priority. It’s easy for me to put Him on hold while I dash about, running myself ragged. But how can I expect to be the wife, mom, friend, and servant He wants me to be if I don’t make Him the most important thing in my life? How can I write a novel that pleases Him if I don’t show He means more to me than the other desires of my heart?

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

Sometimes we can’t go to church, Bible study, or something else God has called us to, due to illness or travel or special events. But I’ve recognized I don’t always pray first about my priorities before making choices, big or small.
And the truth is, life will never be smooth, simple, or ordered. At least, not for long. Life gets messy, scary, obnoxious, hectic, and troublesome. Regardless of circumstances, events, or schedules, God is #1--whether we acknowledge His rightful place or not. He deserves to be our #1 no matter what's going on with us or how we feel. I often fall short here, but I’m working on it.

In the meantime, we tease my kid that maybe it was a radioactive spider that bit him, ala Spiderman, even though privately, I’m still scared by the experience. The event will always be tied in my memory to the lesson that I’ve failed to make God my #1.

Isn’t He good, keeping us in His arms, no matter what we do or don’t do?

Question: Are you thankful for something you don’t deserve?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, Phoenix Rattler, and Touched By Love Contests.

Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.