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Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6

I’ve always liked words and discovering their origins and fascinating meanings. I was once told that Deuteronomy in Hebrew meant "These are the words." The word parable is said to come from the Hebrew meaning pebble as in "a stone tossed along beside."  Good words do that I think: they come along beside us to bring us wisdom and nurture. Sometimes even the title of stories bring us insights.

While writing the second in the Change and Cherish trilogy based on a Christian communal society of the 1850s the publishing team and I brainstormed a title eventually choosing A Tendering in the Storm. Tendering is what pioneer women did to meat when they prepared a salt and sugar brine to break down the sinew so the meat would be easier to chew. My character, Emma Wagner Giesy, an actual historical woman, spent many hours tenderizing food for her family.

A tender is also a small boat that takes one from a ship to the shore and back; someone who transports us is tendering us. Those of us who cruise know the contemporary meaning of that word. Since my characters were in a remote wilderness on the Washington Coast and hoped to build a community there to prepare for followers coming from Missouri, they were tendering, helping transport people to a new place both physically and emotionally.

So we chose the title A Tendering in the Storm to reflect all those meanings While I worked on the third book in what is now Emma of Aurora, a three book in one, I happened to look in a glossary of quilting terms.  Emma and her contemporaries were wonderful quilters and fiber artists and she found solace in both her fabric and her faith. Imagine my surprise when I came across the word tendering  meaning "the disintegration of material when exposed to caustic substances."

Within the story of the quilting term was the story of Emma of Aurora and in our own stories as well. We are often exposed to challenges and caustic substances. For Emma those substances were a domineering leader and many losses in her life as a young wife and mother. There is within tendering that smaller word, too: tender, meaning fragile evoking caring and compassion. Those tender qualities we all desperately need in a time of trial. God promises to "come along beside us" in our tenderist moments.

Emma hung on to that hope. We can too.

An Original Devotion by Jane Kirkpatrick, author of Emma of Aurora


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