Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Journeys Book I - Dedicated to Memory of my Mother.

This Book is Dedicated to the Memory
Of my Mother, Floy,
Who passed away during its writing.

Oh, flying time go backwards, backwards indeed
Make me a child again today.
Mother, come back from the land of peace,
Press me to your heart as in the olden days.
Kiss the creases from my forehead with ease;
Straighten my hair, prematurely gray.
Wait for me dozing, my kind little sheep;
Rock me Mother, oh rock me to sleep.

Oh, years go backwards, steer the flight again!
Tears and sadness, I have enough,
Tears and sadness instead of peace and luck;
Take them and give back to me my youth.
Tired I am now with loving glow
To sacrifice further my spiritual possessions,
Tired to sow for others to reap;
Rock me, Mother, rock me to sleep.

Taken from a poem by an unknown author, published in a Houston, Texas newspaper, late 1800s, in German. (Translated by Gudrun Sloan, 1996)

I did not write this poem, and I have no idea who did.  I'm told this a translation from German.  The translator was an employee of NASA in Houston, Texas during the 1990s.  I was informed of this and given a copy by my cousin Jo Beth Decker, who is also a descendant of the Hinrichsens and Fesers, German immigrants to Houston in the 19th Century.

Monday, January 7, 2019

As Promised for the New Year, the First Installment of My Next Book

Journeys BEYOND the Peaks


Tales of Time-travel into the Past
By M.F. Erler

            In this historical-fiction novel, thirteen-year-old Cinda Parker and her young brother, Ian, know they have a special mental connection.  But it’s not until a mysterious stranger named Lexi comes to visit from the future, that they realize they are more than typical mid-twenty-first century children.  Lexi convinces them that they must travel back 200 years into the minds and lives of some of their ancestors, in order to help their father,--who is still dealing with anger and grief over his own father’s death from cancer several years before.
March 2018
          This is a work of fiction.  While some of the events described are historical, most are from my imagination.  Some of the characters are based in part on stories I’ve heard about my ancestors, but none of the characters in this book are meant to represent actual historical people.   Any resemblances to actual persons, past or present, are coincidental, with one exception:  Elena Hansen Hinrichsen and her husband George were historical people (my great-great-grandparents), and they did have four surviving children, Louisa, Hinrich, Elena, and Sophia (my great-grandmother). 


Much of the inspiration for this book has come from a diary written by my great-great-grandmother, Elena Hansen Hinrichsen between 1887 and 1892 in Houston, Texas.  I am indebted to my Houston-area relatives for their assistance in making this diary available to me and to augmenting the information recorded in it.
With the permission of these relatives, I have occasionally quoted from the diary, and have used the actual names of the Hinrichsen family members, although I have changed the spelling to the more traditional German rendering of Heinrichsen.  Not all of the names of the grandchildren have been kept the same, and in places there have been shifts made in their birth orders.
In addition, the events and experiences presented in this book are not recorded exactly as they happened, but I have tried to give an accurate depiction of later nineteenth century life. For example, the story of their lost daughter, Lorna, was drawn from another person’s family history, not theirs.   As a writer, I have taken some “literary license” I must admit.  For, while truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, a simple account of day-to-day life doesn’t always make for a good novel.
However, I’ve found that the longer I work on this, the more kinship I feel with Elena Hansen.  In some way, I have truly gotten to know her.  Words written by the first translator of her diary echo my own feelings:
“In conclusion, let me say that this translation has been a labor of love…To follow the daily thought and feeling of one so refined and spiritually consecrated has been to me a means of grace.  And may I add the prayer that God may bless its perusal to those who cherish the memory of one who is not lost, but only gone before.”
                                                            A.E. Rector, San Antonio, Texas, 1938

I personally am looking forward to the day when I pass the pearly gates of Heaven and get to meet Elena, my ‘grandmama’ face to face.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Will the Real New Year Please Stand Up?

Happy New Year.  Of course, this only applies if you are on the Gregorian (more commonly known as the Christian) Calendar.  Most of the western world is.  However, not everyone celebrates the new year on what we call January 1.  Before the Sixteenth Century, most of Europe was following the Julian Calendar, started originally by Julius Caesar, the first Roman emperor.  In the Julian Calendar, March was the first month of the year.  Which explains why September, October, November, and December literally mean 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th month, respectively.  (By the way, the reason July and August both have 31 days is that Caesar Augustus, successor of Julius Caesar wanted his month to have as many days as his predecessor's.  Couldn't let him look more important, after all.)

When the Gregorian Calendar was introduced by Pope Gregory in the 1500s, January became the first month.  Therefore September (septem=7 in Latin) became the 9th month instead of the 7th.  And so on.  The reason for this was the Julian Calendar's year was not 365 days long, so there was need for a leap month every so many years.  And you thought Leap Year was complicated!

Here's some more calendar trivia.  The New Year of the Church Calendar actually begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, the First Sunday in the Ecclesiastical season of Advent.  In a sense, our commercial new year coincides with the opening of school in August or September.  School used to start the day after Labor Day, the first Monday in September, but that has fallen by the wayside in many places.

And then, of course there's the Lunar Calendars, whose dates vary from our solar calendar from year to year.  Chinese New Year usually falls sometime in February, on 2/5 in 2019.  Then Hindus, Arabs and others also have their own calendars.  The Jewish calendar has two new years, similar to some Christian churches.  The Sacred Jewish New Year falls around Passover in the Spring.  While the Secular New Year is in the Fall.

Okay, now that I've further complicated your life, let me just wish you a peaceful and hopeful new year.  That's what I'm hoping for anyway, though it may be a pipe dream. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Journeys Saga Coming Soon to This Blog

Beginning after New Year's, I will be posting segments from my newest books, "Journeys Beyond the Peaks" here on this blog.  These books are a spin-off of "The Peaks at the Edge of the World" Saga. By the way, the first three revised books of the Peaks Saga are now available, and the other four will be released by the end of 2019.

The new books are being referred to as "The Journeys Saga".  They include offspring of some of the main characters in The Peaks Saga.  There is time-travel, too--but this time it is into the past, through the characters distant ancestors.

"Journeys Beyond the Peaks" has already been registered with the US Copyright Office.  Eventually, it will be available for sale, but for now you can get a preview here.  If you happen to get on and it seems like you're in the middle of the story, just go back into my blog registry and click on one of the archived blogs.  Their labels will include the title "Journeys Saga". 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

O Come, Emmanuel

The Great O Antiphons were Latin Chant from the 12th century.  One for each of the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve.  In the 19th century, John Mason Neale took these chants and put them into carol form.  We know them as the lyrics to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."  Not all hymnals print all seven verses, but if you want to see them, I recommend looking in a Lutheran hymnal.  Our newest book, the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) has the Great O's also printed, in English, on page 357. 

The final Great O, for Dec. 23: "O Emmanuel, our King and Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord, our God."
And the English translation by John M. Neale: "O Come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear: Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."
Emmanuel means "God with us."  What better way to say that when all is said and done, Jesus loves you.  Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas Belongs in December

Some people say the Third Century Church shouldn't have put the celebration of Christ's Birth (Christ's Mass--or Christmas) in December when the Pagan festivals of the Winter Solstice took place.  But I disagree.

What better time to celebrate the arrival of the Light of the World, than in the darkest time of the year?  The return of longer days and shorter nights, gradual though it is, reassures us that God has not given up on this messed-up world and left us to eternal darkness.

The Jewish Festival of Lights--Hanukkah--is also observed this time of year. I think this is no coincidence, for it's a celebration of a miracle God gave to his suffering people, to remind them he was still with them.  When Jesus was on earth, he even went to this festival in Jerusalem.  It's recorded in at least one of the Gospels.

I know that Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival, was a drunken, rowdy time--based on the idea, "Eat, drink, and be merry--for tomorrow you may die."  That's true. Even in our modern world, we still see the image of the God Saturn, as the Old Year, the Grim Reaper with his long handled scythe. But Christmas is here to remind us that there is still hope at the other end of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.   

Monday, December 10, 2018

What Manner of Child is This?

Midwinter's Day is fast approaching. I ran across a neat quote by an unknown person today.  It's in a book I've had for at least 20 years called "Amazing Grace:  366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions" by Kenneth W. Osbeck (copyright 1990).

This quote is in a devotion on the Christmas hymn, "What Child Is This?"

"He who is the Bread of Life began his ministry hungering.  He who is the Water of Life ended his ministry thirsty.  Christ hungered as man, yet fed multitudes as God.  He was weary, yet he is our rest.  He prayed, yet he hears our prayers.  He was sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet he redeems sinners.  He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet he was the Good Shepherd.  He died, and by dying destroyed death."

That pretty much says it all, I think.