On cats, cheeseburgers, taxes, and other ramblings

Facebook offers many links to silly and serious things. Today brought one of the best chuckles I've had in a while (thanks to my wonderful friend and critique partner Jill Stengl), and of course, it had to involve cats. If you want a good laugh - especially if you appreciate the finer points to a cat's personality - check out this video. (I can picture Shadow thinking of Tiger as the idiot who wants cheeseburgers.) Well, perhaps not cheeseburgers in Tiger's case. He would settle for ice cream or rice pudding, thank you very much! Speaking of cheeseburgers - I was talking to someone the other day who said she had given up meat for Lent and was very glad when she could eat something more than fish again. I have never quite understood the thinking behind giving up meat (or other things) for Lent, but that is probably because I was not brought up in a church that practiced its teaching. I do think that Lent, like fasting, can be a tool God can use to remind us to focus more on Him, if it is done for that purpose and not as a ritual with no meaning. There is something to be said for denying ourselves. Jesus taught us to do just that, and to take up our cross and follow Him.

But He also taught us not to do things to be seen of men. (Not that observing Lent is for that purpose.) He had aimed his comments at the Pharisees who made of show of their fasting so that everyone would know what they were doing rather than keeping their sacrifice between them and God. Sometimes I think we swing the pendulum too far in both directions, by either sacrificing nothing to draw us closer to God or letting the world know when we have done so.

Perhaps there is need for balance...

Another interesting article I read today had to do with ancient taxes. Archeologists found some small clay bulla (seal impressions) with the inscription, "Gibeon, for the king." Apparently these were collected during the reign of King Manasseh, son of King Hezekiah who reigned during the prophet Isaiah's time. (Isaiah informed Hezekiah that he was about to die from a boil, and Hezekiah begged God to let him live. Isaiah then told him in a message from God that he would live 15 more years. Manasseh was born in those 15 years.) Manasseh was also one of Israel's most evil kings, though he did repent near the end of his life. As April 15 quickly approaches, it is interesting to realize that taxes have been collected by rulers for generations, even into antiquity.

In other thoughts - I am making good progress on the first draft of Rachel and Leah's story - nearing 70k of a 90+K book, so I'm pretty pleased. I have another couple of projects I'm working on, so getting the first draft down sooner than last year is helpful. Each book is so different because it depends on the amount of information in Scripture as to how much extra digging goes into a story. Isaac and Rebekah had very little written on them, so their story involved a lot of exploring of personalities and motives. Of course, every story comes down to people and what they do and how they react to what's done to them. It is fascinating to see each character in a different light.

This week my research took me to a deeper study of sheep and shepherding. After writing about David and Abraham (both shepherds) you would think I had learned this stuff, but there are always new questions and different aspects of a career that can be overlooked the first and second time. For instance, did you know that in sheep the color white is dominant? So if you have all white sheep in a flock, chances of breeding them speckled, striped, or spotted aren't so good. (Read Jacob's story in Genesis 30-31 to get the full picture of why that's important.)

Oh, the places Facebook and research can take me!