Kidnapped by a Pirate Queen

Post by Therese Kay

I was chugging along in life minding my own business.  As I struggled with Lyme Disease I dabbled in photography and somewhat in keeping a blog.  Across the country, my friend and fellow Smith alumna was chugging along writing, teaching, and struggling with chronic back pain. Turns out this friend, Kathleen Schwab, was secretly a Pirate Queen.  I think she may even have some trained falcons… but that may be just a rumor.

Kathleen is a wily one.  A few years back, we reconnected via Facebook and started following each other's daily lives, you know, what we ate for breakfast and super important other things like the antics of her birds and my fat cat (who sadly recently passed away).  I found out she wrote Hub Pages under the pen name Grace O’Malley and she found out I did photography.  This is when she started to get wily.  Given that her ancestress is really Grace O’Malley, Ireland’s famed pirate queen, this should have come as no surprise.  Anyways….

It all started with a little flattery.  We all know the power of flattery, right?  She told me how much she loved my photography and wondered if she could use some (with credit) on her Hub Pages.  I readily agreed, and then went to read a few of her hubs to make sure I hadn’t made a dire mistake… I hadn’t!  (By the way, I know she would argue that it was not flattery, but genuine admiration of my work.)

Then, she told me about this project she really wanted to do.  She wanted to create a devotional in the style of illuminated manuscripts using excerpts of her prayer journal.  “What a lovely project,” I thought.  Then she sprung the trap… “I want to use your photography,” she said.  “I really like it and think it will go well with the writing.”  (I’m using quotes, but really I’m paraphrasing here as this was a few years ago!)

I blushed and thought, “Are you sure you are talking about my photography?”  A bit of time passed by, perhaps a year?

Kathleen thought it might be nice to try her hand at doing her own artwork instead and enrolled in art classes.  Another year went by and she laid out her trap again.  After a year or so of art classes she circled back to me and said that she really wanted to use my photography but then used her newly acquired art lingo to tell me why.  I’m pretty certain that I blushed again and thought the same thing as before,  “Are you sure you are talking about my photography?”  I told her again, “Sure, let me see what you have and I’ll let you know if I think I can help.”  (Hint: This is when I walked smack dab into the middle of the trap she laid.)

She sent me her draft manuscript and I immediately fell in love.  In other words, trap was sprung, and she successfully kidnapped me!  I felt compelled to see this amazing project through to its end.  Approximately 16 months later we are almost there!  Our soft launch for pre-orders is imminent as of this writing (September 2017).

Now this chronically ill woman who wanted to write children’s books (and still does, by the way!) has somehow produced a lovely visual devotional reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts.  In the process, my relationship with the Lord deepened tremendously.  I pray that yours will deepen as well when you engage with the amazing text and imagery.  And, be careful!  You never know when God will send along a Pirate Queen to lead you in directions you never thought you would go!  Here’s my advice - say yes!  


What Does Your House in Heaven Look Like?

Post by Kathleen Schwab

You can look in your life for the things that truly resonate, and these will be a part of your life in eternity.
— Messages from God

Some friends and I were talking about heaven. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions,” and we asked the question, “What does your house in heaven look like?” The responses were very interesting. Some people talked about specific types of architecture that they found the most beautiful. Others talked about what would be inside the house. One person wasn’t interested in the house itself so much as the house’s setting: great surfing should be right outside. Another person said simply, “I want what God gives me.”

These are all good answers, and they say a lot about what people value.

I brought up this question with another friend, and she skipped over the house part, and went straight to the animals she wants to have in heaven, which include a unicorn and a winged horse. Mythological animals in heaven hadn’t occurred to me, but, after all, given the fabulous creatures we read about in Revelation, heaven will not be limited to what we’ve seen on Earth.

Anyone on my Facebook feed knows I am fascinated by castles, and so my friends said, “Your house in heaven is a castle, right?” And it is, absolutely. But this discussion did make me dig into why I see a castle as the perfect home. If I think about historical context, castles were not designed as wonderful places to live: they were built to be military fortresses, and to solidify the hold of a small group of people over a large piece of land. Control of fortified castles was critical in the constant warfare of the medieval period.

I not only have no interest in real warfare, but I believe in the equality of all people. Both Jesus and Paul urge Christians to see each other as equals. Why would my peace-loving self be attracted to castles, structures designed to enforce the rights of the military aristocracy? 

Image of Tullaun Castle used by permission

Image of Tullaun Castle used by permission

Sometimes figuring out why we like things takes some time. One reason for my castle-love is my 16th century ancestor Grace O’Malley, who owned five castles that ringed Clew Bay on the west coast of Ireland. Grace O’Malley became the head of her clan after the death of her father, husband, and brothers, and led the O’Malleys through a particularly difficult time in Irish history. I like to think of her strength and wiliness, and her strategic use of both land and sea in taking care of her people. At first glance the O’Malley castles are tucked into the most picturesque spots on the undulating coastline; but on closer analysis, each square fortress commands the very best place in the neighborhood for line-of-sight and defense. They combine beauty and strength.

Then I read The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila, and I realized that a castle is the perfect picture of the internal life of a Christian. You build it inside yourself as a fortress against this fallen world, the constant onslaught of the enemy, the distractions that hammer at the doors. An interior castle sets a boundary; inside these walls, I build my life with God. An entire army of besiegers may be outside, but inside I have a well. I have storerooms full of everything I need. I have a courtyard with sunlight, trees, and grass. In a hidden place, I have a whole life I share with Him.

Let us consider that this castle has, as I said, many dwelling places; some up above, others down below, others to the sides; and in the center and middle is the main dwelling place where the secret exchanges between God and the soul take place.
— The Interior Castle, Teresa of Avila

What does your house in heaven look like?