Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Fifth Woman of the Genealogy—Mary, the Mother of Jesus

By Sherri Stewart

Of the five women mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy, Mary is the most familiar to us and the most divisive—not of her own doing but because of all the legends that have been added to her story. We look to the Bible to find the truth and humbly realize we don’t know everything about this wonderful woman. Here are seven things that may surprise you.

One, Mary was a very brave woman. When the angel announced that she would give birth to the Messiah, “Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Mary was only a teenager, but she would have realized the import of her words. Although she was engaged to Joseph, they were not married, and she would have known the penalty for a pregnancy out of wedlock. 

Deut. 22:23,24 says, “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” This fourteen-year-old would have known that not only was she facing a divorce from Joseph—betrothal had the same legal standing as a marriage—she would also face a violent death and incredible shame for herself and for her family. 

Two, Joseph couldn’t have been Jesus’s father. Both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David, but their lines took different paths with David’s children—Mary was the descendant of Nathan (Luke 3), and Joseph was the descendant of Solomon (Matt 1). The key difference comes a few generations later with a king named Jeconiah, who is in Joseph’s lineage. He was such an evil king that Jeremiah 22:30 says, “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” Since the Messiah is a prophet, priest, and a king, Jesus could not come from a parent with Jeconiah as a forefather.

Three, Mary did not give birth in a stable because there was no room in the inn. Luke 2:7 says, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” The problem is with the Greek word for inn, which is Kataluma. The word means ‘guestroom,’ or an upper room of a house. The bottom level of the house was where families kept their animals so they’d be safe from the elements and thieves. Many relatives had traveled to Bethlehem for the census, so they’d stay with family, which was why there were no guestrooms. Nazareth only had a few hundred residents, so there was likely no inn anyway. 

Four, Mary was a primary source for the gospels, especially for Luke. Who else would know about the angel Gabriel meeting with her? Who else would know about John the Baptist jumping in his mother’s womb? Who else would know how she felt when Jesus went missing in Jerusalem for three days at the age of twelve? Luke 4:28 says, And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” The word ‘sorrowing’ in Greek is odunao, which means ‘in torment.’ Only Mary would have known how much torment she felt. 


Five, Mary had many children. Of course, not everyone agrees with this. Some believe she was perpetually a virgin, and that the children she raised were not hers but stepchildren from Joseph’s previous marriage to a woman who had died. The children are named in Mark 6:3 when a resident of Nazareth said after listening to Jesus teach at the synagogue, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” 


Six, Mary may have had doubts during Jesus’s ministry. Like all Jews, she would have known the about the Messiah coming to save Israel from the domination of the Romans. Although according to Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart,” she watched as Jesus was reviled by the Pharisees and the Nazarenes who wanted to throw him off a cliff. Her children also pressured her to believe like they did that he was out of his mind (Mark3:20,21 and 31-33). In response, Jesus said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Seven, Mary risked her life at Jesus’s crucifixion. All the disciples except for John had fled and were not present at Golgotha. None of Mary’s other children were there, yet Mary’s love for her son would not allow her to miss being with her son. John 19:26,27 says, “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

Mary’s song epitomizes this most awesome woman. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”


Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books and sampling the food. She loves the Netherlands, and she’s still learning Dutch, although she doesn’t need to since everyone speaks perfect English. A recent widow, Sherri lives in Orlando with her lazy dog, Lily. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at

A Song for Her Enemies

After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding.

Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire?



Saturday, May 21, 2022

The History of Buttons

Molly Jebber
Amish Historical Romance Author

Let's talk about the history of buttons!

We all have buttons on some of our clothes. I was surprised Old Order Amish do not use buttons, because they consider them a decoration, and they don't use them as to not draw attention to their clothes, especially since buttons were once considered a sign of prestige. We'll learn more about this below.

The oldest button was found in a region of the Indus Valley, now known as modern day Pakistan. It is estimated to be around 5000 years old, with a decorative flat face that fits into a loop, and is primarily made out of curved shell. These buttons were not used as a closure on clothing or sewn in a straight line. They were used as decorations.

Ancient Romans also made and used buttons. Their garments were loose-fitting and made of heavy material which required thicker buttons made of horn, wood, and bronze. The Middle Ages is when the button really began to take hold as a fastener. Buttons were used for more fitted clothing for men and women.

In the 1600's, button makers became more popular around the globe. During this time, buttons were only affordable to the more wealthy men and women. They were a symbol of prosperity and prestige.

In the 1890s freshwater pearl button manufacturing exploded—in response to the ever-growing demand of the ready-to-wear industry (and to protective tariffs that discouraged imports). In factories from Wisconsin to Iowa to Arkansas, workers used tubular saws to cut round blanks from mussel and clam shells, which were ground to standard thicknesses, then faced, drilled, and polished.

The Industrial Revolution made way for prices of buttons to become affordable and worn by the masses. By the 1920s buttons made of synthetic materials were increasingly common. Because these could be made in larger sizes and different colors, ready-to-wear fashions began to feature them. Charlie Chaplin was obsessed with buttons. The bigger the button on his clothes, the better.

In the twentieth century, plastic buttons even made them more available to everyone since they could really be produced cheap.

Thank you for joining me here today to learn a little more about those buttons we've been wearing!

My newest and fifth book in my Amish Charm Bakery Series is MAGDELENA'S CHOICE. On sale for a limited time! Visit me at Molly Jebber to watch a video trailer about this story and visit me on Molly's Facebook page for contest news! The first book in the series, Liza's Second Chance, is being made into a movie by Sony/Pureflix.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Wild West Sayings We Use Today, Part 34

Bannack, Montana Jail
Bannack, Montana Jail

Wild West Sayings We Use Today, Part 34

It's time for another deep-dive into Wild West idioms and their histories. But first, let's discuss the image, above. This is a picture of the original jail in Bannack, Montana. When Sheriff Henry Plummer erected this building, he oriented the windows to offer his prisoners a sobering view of the gallows. Little did the sheriff realize that one day he would gaze through these barred windows himself. Sheriff Plummer and the dramatic events in Bannack comprise the historical background of Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold, book 1).


They called a tight-fisted person a skinflint in the Wild West, just as we do today. We don't know the genesis of this slang term, but several theories provide clues.

Lexicographer Craig M. Carver suggests that 'skinflint' came from a thrifty practice of certain riflemen. Flintlock rifles contained a small piece of flint. A flint, if you don't know, is a fragment of hard rock that sparks easily. Modern cigarette lighters use flints to generate sparks. When someone pulled the trigger of a flintlock rifle, the spring-loaded cock struck the flint against a steel plate. This sent a shower of sparks into a pan below the plate. The priming powder in the pan ignited the charge in the bore, firing the rifle. When a rifle flint wore out, most people replaced it. However, a miserly individual would pull out a knife and sharpen, or “skin,” the flint.

Another idea is that ‘skinflint’ derived from ‘skin the flint,’ an earlier idiom denoting a person who ensured frugality through excessive measures. The existence of similar phrases (shave a louse, shave a flea, and the French shave an egg) makes this theory seem likely. 

Both of these suggestions may be true, for all we know. 

Historical Reference: ‘Skinflint’ was first recorded in A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew by B. E. Gent (1699): “Skin-flint, a griping, sharping, close-fisted Fellow.”

‘To skin a flint’ made its print debut in a poem from The Legend of Captaine Jones: relating his adventure to sea, his first landing, and strange combat with a mighty beare : his furious battell with his six and thirty men, against the army of eleven kings, with their overthtow [sic] and deaths : his relieving of Kemper Castle : his strange and admirable sea-fight with six huge gallies of Spain, and nine thousand soldiers : his taking prisoner and hard usage : lastly, his setting at liberty by the Kings command, and returne for England by David Lloyd (1656):

’Mongst all those Blustering sirs that I have read

(Whose greatest wonder is that they are dead)

There’s not any Knights, nor bold Atchivers Name,

So much as Jones’s in the Booke of Fame:

They much of Greeces Alexander bragg,

Hee’d put ten Alexanders in a Bag:

Eleven fierce Kings, backt with two thousand Louts,

Jones with a Ragged Troope beats all to Clouts.

But sure it was a Conquest by Compact,

For he could never be accus’d of fact:

And yet no story a Romancer sings,

That ere exploited more stupendious things;

Quixot a winged Gyant once did kill,

That’s but a flying tale, beleiv’t who will:

This were but petty hardship, Jones was one

Would Skinne a Flint, and eat him when h’had done.”

Example: My uncle is such a skinflint that, after a party, he goes through the trash to salvage all the plastic cups and cutlery.


Here’s a colorful word that’s fun to say. It brings pirates to mind. Yes? ‘Skulduggery’ means treachery, which certainly helps the association. The first syllable sounding like ‘skull’ doesn’t hurt either. Well, and the second syllable recalls digging. (But I digress.) The slang term, 'skulduggery,' is thought to have come from ‘sculdudrie,’ a Scottish word of uncertain origin used by at least 1713. It described adultery and other bawdy misbehavior. This is the most popular origin theory, but it's interesting to note that the modern meaning of skulduggery differs. Other opinions on its origin exist. Several attach it to similar-sounding words for guilt.

Historical Reference: ‘Skulduggery’ arose as a separate term in America, where it meant subterfuge. William Faulkner is credited with creating a verb form (skuldug). The first known print citation, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, dates from 1867: “From Minnesota had been imported the mysterious term ‘scull-duggery’, used to signify political or other trickery.” Apparently, this word mystified folks in the nineteenth century, too. 

Example: What sort of skulduggery are they up to?

What’s New with Janalyn Voigt

Books take time, and the wheels of publishing move slowly. I’m still editing The Whispering Wind (Montana Gold, book 6). Catching up on my writing and household duties is a bit challenging after suffering a burn injury while on deadline. Thank the Lord, I'm in a lot better shape now. Unfortunately, my email inbox isn’t. I have to admit that focusing is hard, with everything going on in the news. I regularly have to cast my crown at Jesus’s feet, and surrender my worries to Him. 

If you want to know more about the books I write, visit the bookstore at my website.

About Hills of Nevermore

Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? 

In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane. 

Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God. 

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thousand Island's Calumet Castle

by Susan G Mathis

During the Gilded Age, majestic Calumet Castle once graced the entry point to the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. It was one of the first castles that the ocean-going ships saw as they traveled downriver from Lake Ontario through the Thousand Islands to the sea. And its story is fascinating.

New York City tycoon Charles G. Emery was a friend of George and Louise Boldt, who built Boldt Castle, still a major Thousand Islands tourist attraction today. Emery attended the couple’s wedding and the two men were members of the New York City yacht club, along with George Pullman.

As one of the pioneer developers of the Thousand Islands area, Emery purchased Powder Horn Island in 1882. Since the island reflected the shape of a peace pipe, he changed the name of the island to Calumet, a French word for the Native American ceremonial peace pipe.

Emery was impressed with George Pullman’s Castle Rest, the seven-story castle built on Pullman Island in 1888, about ten miles downriver. So, Emery wanted to create an equally imposing castle. The castle on Calumet Island was among the first such grand structures in the Thousand Islands region, predating the still-standing Boldt Castle.

Construction of Calumet Castle began in 1893 and was finished the following year. The completed castle had thirty room, including the largest private ballroom in New York. Several out buildings included a water tower, the caretakers home, a guesthouse, a boathouse, a men’s dormitory, and an ice house. My latest novel, Peyton’s Promise is set here.

Emery had a lagoon dredged out deep enough for his steam yachts and dozens of other boats. When there was a storm, the islanders knew they were free to seek shelter in its harbor.

Guests to Calumet Island arrive at the main dock and ascend a long walkway through the woods rising to the castle. At the castle’s massive stone paved terrace, guests can view the expansive verandas leading to the main entrance. On the veranda high above the river and treetops, guests could see the elaborate gardens and manicured lawns below as well as the village of Clayton. To the Northeast, they could catch a glimpse of the massive white Frontenac Hotel downriver.

In 1956, the castle burned to the ground, leaving only rubble and the outbuildings intact. Today, the owners live in the caretaker’s cottage and host a multitude of guests, still leaving the harbor available for those who seek shelter from the summer storms.

About Peyton’s Promise:

book 3 of the Thousand Islands Gilded Age series

Summer 1902

Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position of upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter and Peyton’s childhood chum, hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022 with Rachel’s Reunion in November. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are also award winners.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling the world. Visit for more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Iniskim Umaapie - Canada's Stonehenge

By Nancy J. Farrier

Photo by garethwiscombe
Wikimedia Commons

We’ve all heard of Stonehenge, the monument near Wiltshire England, made up of standing stones topped with horizontal stones. Many people travel to the Salisbury Plain to view this ancient archaeological site that is a marvel to see. Stonehenge is believed to be 4,000 years old.


Easter Island Statues
Photo by Aurbina
Wikimedia Commons

We’ve also heard of Easter Island and the mysterious carved statues found there. This island is part of Chilean territory and a remote volcanic island, much more difficult to visit. Still the figures are fascinating as is the mystery surrounding them.


But, how many of us have heard of Iniskim Umaapi? I know I hadn’t until an article about this ancient site was shared with me. What I learned was fascinating.


Iniskim Umaapi is considered by many to be Canada’s Stonehenge. Located in a remote section of Alberta and not easily found, the medicine wheel is huge and believed to be formed by the Blackfoot, an indigenous people. The religious site or geoglyph was formed about 5,000 years ago. Those who formed this geoglyph believe the site has great spiritual power.

Iniskim Umaapi: Alberta, Canada


Iniskim Umaapi—buffalo calling stones sacred site—is made up of a main cairn surrounded by 28 radiating stone lines. Those lines are encircled by another ring of stones and measures twenty-seven meters in diameter. This is called a medicine wheel because of the shape of the design. Early settlers named it the Majorville Medicine Wheel after a general store and post office that were nearby. 


There are many medicine wheels located in the northwest American and Canadian plains. Iniskim Umaapi is far older than any of the others. It is as mysterious as Stonehenge is in England. The history is lost with the people who formed the geoglyphs. 


Aerial View of Iniskim Umaapi

There are theories about why Iniskim Umaapi was built. Perhaps to mark the seasons, a calendar of sorts. There is a possibility this was an open-air temple where people worshiped. We may never know it’s original use but the fact remains that this wheel is “the most intricate stone ring that remains on the North American Plains.” (Quote from Gordon R. Freeman’s book, Canada’s Stonehenge.)


Freeman camped at this site when he was researching his book over thirty years ago. He found amazing similarities to Stonehenge and other ancient temples. There are twenty-eight spokes to the wheel that fan out from the central cairn. This points to a solar calendar and ceremonial purposes. 

Main Cairn at Iniskim Umaapi


Although Iniskim Umaapi is much more remote and hard to find than Stonehenge, you can access it. There is a marker at the site. The site is located on government land but also surrounded by private land with access to the site. Permission might be needed to visit. This would be an interesting place to go and see the amazing feat of these Indigenous people. 


Have you ever heard of Iniskim Umaapi? Have you ever visited a medicine wheel or Stonehenge? I love seeing historic sites like this and imaging how and why they were built. I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning, best-selling author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats and dog, and spend time with her family. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website:

I have re-released my Sonoran Desert series. These books are set in 1870's Arizona Territory. If you haven't read them, this is your chance. If you leave a comment on my blog post before midnight May 18, 2022, and leave your email, I will gift you an ebook copy of Sonoran Sunrise.

Meet the women of the Sonoran Desert series and the men who fall in love with them. Glorianna, forced to leave her home back east to join her father at his Arizona army post and the infuriating and intriguing lieutenant. Kathleen, who travels to Tucson to visit her cousin, Glorianna, and is mistaken for an outlaw by a handsome deputy. Lavette, an indentured servant, who can’t fall for the gentle blacksmith. And Chiquita, forced to disguise herself and marry a man who wanted her sister. Find the series here