The Rose and the Thistle: Book Review

Synopsis: The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz is a stand alone novel set in the mystical castles of Scotland. Lady Blythe Hedley, a duke’s daughter, finds herself in need of protection as her father is caught up fighting for the return of the Stuart king and running for his life. Everard Hume, a Scottish earl, finds himself the untimely protector of a woman he has never met while maneuvering through the death of his father, assuming an earldom, and dealing with his rebellious brother whose actions put the family dangerously close to the wrong side of the new King.

Frantz has woven a bit of camelot into this story. The Rose and the Thistle combines ancient Scottish history with Camelot and Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott. Castles, towers, prisoners, intrigue and court life all set the stage for an unlikely romance.

While some authors do not take the time for character development, we cannot accuse Frantz of this. It is over 100 pages before the heroine meets the hero. But, once she does, you have a full scope of the situation surrounding them. Both hero and heroine have strength of character. Sometimes novelists allow the heroine to overpower the hero in wit and tenacity, but I am glad Frantz chose to make a bulwark of Everard.

There is also a strong theme of faith in Christ and unity within the body of Christ. I specifically appreciated how she built a bridge between Protestants and Catholics. Especially when representing a tulmultuous time in history of a deposed Catholic King and a new Protestant King of Britian.

If you love Laura Frantz, you will love this too. My only complaint was the slower beginning, but of course, her novels are always worth it.

Happy reading! – Leslie

Book Review: The Lost Melody

by Joanna Davidson Politano

Vivienne Mourdant is a concert pianist who inherits an unexpected guardianship from her father. She discovers she has more in common with the local asylum than she ever dreamed. In searching for more information, Vivienne goes under cover as a nurse and finds herself in a situation that quickly spins out of her control.

The Lost Melody by Joanna Davidson Politano is loosely linked story to her last book A Midnight Dance. Similar in the musical and lyrical tone of the book, The Lost Melody captures and embodies the prodigy pianist who hears music in everything around her.

Personally, I related more to A Midnight Dance, but perhaps musicians relate more to this novel. I had difficulty inserting myself into the story. The asylum is an intriguing and bold setting for such a lyrical book. So at odds with the main character’s world one can only assume it was intentional. However, to be fair, an 1800s asylum in England is much at odds with many of our lives today. The atrocities that took place are grievous and I did have a hard time reading through the various stories as compassion rose up in my heart for the people so inhumanely and unjustly treated. Which is precisely why familiarizing oneself with history is good. Easy to forget how far we have come and how far yet we need to go.

It is a thought provoking book. Not much of a romance, although there is one there. If you are looking for a dark suspense/mystery wrapped in music, this is the book for you. If you are looking for a light uplifting beautiful romance novel I would go with A Mightnight Dance.


Mothers Day Giveaway!


Mothers Day Giveaway with Color Street by Natalie Gorrell

Mothers Day Giveaway with Color Street Nails! This week I am honoring all the hard working mamas who are out there killing it! You are doing an amazing job raising your kids, keeping them honest, midnight feedings, doing the laundry, washing the dishes, multiple school runs, sports activities, meal plans and… darn it!! You just chipped a nail!

No worries my friend. We got your back! Color Street Stylist Natalie Gorrell and I are teaming up to do a fantastic Mothers Day giveaway! Here is how you can enter to win:

Mothers Day Giveaway:

A signed copy of Tired Mamas Pray +

A Set of Color Street Nail items, Bookmark, and more…!

Hint 1: Watch the Facebook Live Interview where I will be a guest speaker on Natalie’s Color Street VIP Group this Tuesday, May 3rd at 11am PT/1pm CT. To watch this interview join Natalie’s FB group!

Hint 2: There will be a Website Scavenger Hunt right here on on Wednesday, May 4th, at 10 am PT/12 pm CT

 Hint 3: Thursday will the last chance to earn an entry in the giveaway posted Friday, May 6th at 5 am PT/7 am CT

 WINNER: We will announce the lucky winner this Friday, May 6th at noon PT/2 pm CT

Happy Mothers Day!

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children call her blessed… charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:27-30 ESV

Celebrate Mothers Day BOGO 50% OFF

BOGO 50% Off Event in celebration of Mothers Day!

Celebrate Mothers Day by giving her a signed copy of Tired Mamas Pray BOGO 50% Off!

If you know a tired mama, hook her up for Mothers Day! Supplies are limited, so Preorder your books now to reserve your copies by emailing me at: Please include:

Your Name:

Your Email:

Number of Copies:

Who you wish the book to be addressed to:

Not Local? No Worries! I can ship them to you as well!

See what others are saying about Tired Mamas Pray

Claiborne Progress Mom Blog Society

Washington Daily News Mama Loves Media Blog

Mother’s Circle Yahoo!

Redeeming Freedom Ministries

Today, I invite you all to celebrate with me a dream has become a reality! In the days of my silence I have been busy founding Redeeming Freedom Ministries, and I am delighted to share the news with you!

Redeeming Freedom Ministries is an Inner Healing and Prayer ministry situated here in Southwest Missouri. The Redeeming Freedom team and I are full of joy and expectation to see where the Lord is going to take this ministry.

Wondering what Inner Healing is?

Well… the Greek word for Salvation in Christ Jesus literally means: saved, healed, delivered, protected, preserved, to be made whole. Is that you? Or do you feel stuck in your walk with God? Disconnected to the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit?

Think about it this way. If you needed out of a terrible business partnership you were legally bound to, you would go and dissolve those agreements, divide the assets, and give back what is not yours and take back what belongs to you. Inner Healing is essentially doing just that.

Our team at Redeeming Freedom will help you identify what agreements in your life (lies, sin, trauma, false beliefs, shame, etc.) need to be dissolved. Then we will help you find healing and freedom through the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ. Through forgiveness and repentance, and replacing lies with Biblical truth our team will help you connect with Father God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit on a deeper, richer level to experience salvation at its fullest.

True Story

For decades church was hard for me. I served but never felt like I belonged. I saw that new comers were always more valuable than me. In my inner healing session, the prayer team led me in a prayer asking the Lord when I first felt like an outsider and easily replaced.

Immediately I saw myself as a 15 year old again, sitting down to lunch with my family after church. In order to save time, my father opted for a table too small for our larger than usual party. Being the youngest, I was moved to a chair tacked onto the end of the booth. Bumped by every passerby, cursed by every server for being in the way, my purse constantly knocked to the ground. This continued every Sunday and as our family grew I was often shuffled about to make room for another in many different ways.

When I spoke up no one listened. The pain developed into the belief of being unvalued and without a place in the family. Centered around Sundays, Anger grew and became a stronghold in my life focusing its attention on the church and skewing my view of the family of God and my place/role in it.

But then I signed up for an Inner Healing session and Father God met me with his extravagant love. He gave me a picture of His banquet table in heaven. Where there are beautifully carved thrones placed all around his table. Every throne had a name interictally carved into it. Then I saw my seat, carved with my name. No one else could take my place. If I was present, my chair was full. If I was absent, it sat empty. You see, God showed me that in His family every one of His children has a place that cannot be given to another. Every child of His is honored and valued and each has a seat in his house that cannot be taken away.

It was like taking off a pair of bad sunglasses. Anger lost its hold on my life and my relationship with the church has changed. Now I am excited to go to church, to serve, and love with a freedom that can only in found in Jesus!

– Anonymous Client

This is inner healing. And this is what Redeeming Freedom Ministries is all about.

At Redeeming Freedom Ministries, we do in person as well as online appointments. So whether you are here in Southwest Missouri, or in Colorado, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Chicago or somewhere further we are here to serve you.

If you are tired of issues plaguing your life such as:

  • Fear/Anxiety
  • Brokenness
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Unforgiveness
  • Addiction
  • Occult/Witchcraft
  • Depression
  • Unhealthy Patters
  • Perfectionism/Performance
  • Manipulation & Control
  • Trauma
  • Rejection

Schedule your appointment today with Redeeming Freedom Ministries. Don’t wait another moment stuck in the mire when Jesus Christ has come to give you life to the fullest!

Learn more about how Inner Healing can breathe life back into your family, marriage, and home atmospheres as well.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you from the Crouse family! Today I pray the God of peace and joy fills your heart whether you are packed in a house full of family, or tucked away all cozy with your favorite blanket and Christmas movie.

2022 carries the promise of a new year and I am so excited for it. I always ask God for what His word is for the year and then I agree with it.

Last year’s word was “Harvest” and knowing that could go in lots of directions, I simply blessed God’s harvest plans for 2021. Little did I know, this would be the year I signed a contract to publish the prayers I had written seven years ago. And by November 2021, Tired Mamas Pray was released.

If you are thinking about and planning 2022 already, here is a prayer for this coming year:

Father of Lights, in your book are written all the days ordained for me, before one of them came to be. I bless and come into agreement with your will and purposes you have ordained for me in 2022. Show me how to align myself with your purposes. What word would you give me for this next year?

Merry Christmas friends, and a Happy New Year!


Escape to Egypt

12 Weeks of Christmas Finale

by Leslie Crouse

Mount Durunkah, Egypt. Six Months After the Birth of Christ.


Through all the dangers, toils and snares God’s provision never ceased. The Magi’s gifts equipped and provided for their escape to Egypt. Egypt, being outside of Herod’s authority and a close neighbor of Judea, had become the much-needed refuge. With ease they had crossed the Nile Delta resting in Wadi Natruh.  When God had provided a boat, they traveled up the Nile to Mount Durunkah. There, Joseph found a large cave and for the first time since the Magi’s visit, felt safe enough to rest his family for a time.

He remembered the words of Hosea, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Hundreds of years ago his people had fled Egypt. Now, they fled to it. As if Jehovah had always intended to bring the story full circle. Would he redeem Egypt as well?

It had been nearly a year since the news of a census had upended their world. A year propelled by crises, each one more harrowing than the next. Joseph had moved through each situation with total objectivity. He had to. Emotions were a luxury he could not afford.

While Jesus thrived and was at peace wherever they were, it was difficult in Egypt. Mary cried all the time, though she tried to hide it. Is it normal? He wondered. She has been through so much. He wanted to help. Wanted to comfort her but did not know how. Feelings of inadequacy arose again.    

Having fled Bethlehem in the cover of darkness, neither of them had found closure. The past year seemed a blur. Neither spoke about it. Mary silently stored up the details in her heart and pondered them privately. Nothing had gone according to his plan. Though he asked for news at every Judean outpost, he had learned nothing that indicated they could return. How long would they wander?

Their family believed them dead. Given he and Mary had never come home after the slaughter of Bethlehem, there was little else to conclude. The deceit weighed heavy upon Joseph’s heart. Round and round his mind went, but it always landed on the same conclusion. Any word will compromise the safety of everyone involved. As long as the world believes us dead, Jesus will be safe. Still, both he and Mary ached for home.

Joseph, did his best to integrate them into the Jewish community of Egypt. Yet, still they waited, suspended in time, until word of Herod’s death. How long must we wait, LORD? For the first time in his life, Joseph prayed for the death of a man.


Mary tried to adjust to motherhood, but nothing was like she thought it would be. As a girl, she used to dream her mother would be beside her as she learned how to nurse. She had assumed the midwife would deliver her son. Envisioned friends and family surrounding them to celebrate the joyous occasion. She used to dream of seeing the far away places her ancestors had walked and lived in.

Technically, many of those dreams had come true. She had a godly, loving husband. A beautiful baby boy. And their journey had taken her to places far beyond Nazareth’s safe borders. But nothing felt like she had expected. For six months they had been on the run. Hiding in caves and traveling at night. Joseph did most of the purchases at markets so as to not draw suspicion. She had expected to feel unspeakable joy. Instead, she felt suffocated by exhaustion, loneliness, sadness and guilt.

She was the blessed mother of the Messiah! Highly favored by God! How could she be so weak? She dare not speak of her struggle. No one would understand. I must pack. I must leave. A more worthy woman would take my place. She shifted, uncomfortable with the thoughts of betrayal that circled her mind like carrion.

Missing her warmth, Jesus made a soft sound. Careful not to wake Joseph, she shifted and gently picked Jesus up and holding him close one last time. Oh, how she loved this sweet, baby boy. He was so joyful. So full of life. Tears of grief ran trails down her cheeks.

Nuzzling her face into the soft skin of his neck Mary wept. Realizing she could not hold back her despair any longer, there in the darkness of the cave she sobbed pouring out her heart’s every fear, weakness and doubt to the true Father of Jesus. When her tears were spent, she looked up into the perceiving eyes of God’s only Son and saw such love in his eyes. Jesus raised a pudgy hand to her face, never breaking eye contact and burbled, “Ma-ma.” Holy fire spread through her chest. Peace like she had never experienced flooded her body as heavenly light blasted through the dark recesses of her heart erasing every doubt and sadness. For the first time in six months, the burden lifted and a rusty laugh escaped her lips.

Suddenly, Joseph shot up from his pallet with a strange light in his eye. Searching the cave for her, his perceptive eyes landing on her half-packed bag, he put an arm around her shoulder and a hand upon Jesus’ head and said, “It is over. Let’s go home, love.”

I hope you have enjoyed my Christmas Mini-Series and that it has awakened your heart to the truth of the danger and grit of Mary and Joseph and all they endured. Next time you see a nativity, remember that things were not so simple nor so peaceful and safe. Heaven had indeed declared war on Darkness. And soon, Jesus would carry the keys to death and Hades and purchased the freedom of Darkness’s captives with his own blood.

Danger in Bethlehem

12 Weeks of Christmas: #2

by Leslie Crouse

The Shekinah led the Magi to a humble house in a town mentioned by Herod. When it rested over top they moved past. Surely this was not the house. But the Shekinah did not move with them. It stayed, rooted above the little home. Though small, it was clean and well cared for.

Their entourage had overwhelmed Bethlehem. All the people were terrified. Belteshazzar wondered, Of us? Or of Herod’s retribution? Either way, they settled the soldiers, servants and food suppliers outside the city limits, in the Judean foothills. There were shepherds there keeping watch over their flocks.

As he crossed toward Bethlehem, he saw a shepherd carefully watching him. A wooly man who looked very much like his sheep, but it was the man’s sword that caught his attention. What was it about that sword? Beyond being out of place on a shepherd, Belteshazzar sensed there was something powerful at work here. He must be close. His senses were never wrong.

His servant knocked on the door of the small house and a young, pregnant woman no older than sixteen opened the door. She bounced a baby that was around 6 months old on her hip. He explained himself and she calmly welcomed him in.

Had she expected them? Or, perhaps she simply knew who she held. Her husband also walked in, presumably from work as his hair was covered in wood shavings. But he had a kind, welcoming smile.

Since the home was small, only three of them came in carrying the most important gifts they had brought. Suddenly, the Shekinah Glory of the LORD filled the room and all the Magi fell down trembling and worshipping. Hours passed as they humbled themselves in pure worship. Then, it was gone.

They slowly arose and looked around. The man introduced himself as Joseph son of Jacob, his wife as Mary and the baby as Jesus saying, “His name means that he will save us from our sins.”

Belteshazzar presented their gifts. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. Kingly spices used for anointing and embalming. But surely, an Eternal King would have no need of embalming.

He explained, “Outside, there are also horses and wagons. Silver woven tapestries and our best food offerings from Parthia as well. We are here to recognize the true King of the Jews and offer our friendship. If you ever need to call for reinforcements or aid, please call upon the Parthian Empire as it would be our greatest honor to serve the Eternal King.”

Mary approached Belteshazzar and offered he hold the child. At first, he hesitated. It was not done! But this was no royal palace. He wrapped his arms awkwardly around the floppy baby. Then he thought lightening had hit him. So much power! He had never experienced such overwhelming glory! He was undone.

Of all the kings he had met, of all the throne rooms he had stood in, they had all been just men. Never had he lost control. Yet, tears ran down his face and he began to shake with the weight of glory. What would this king grow to become? Would people be healed by simply touching his clothes? Or hearing his voice?

When baby Jesus looked into Belteshazzar’s eyes and his tiny hand touched his beard he saw such intense glory. As if all of Shekinah dwelled in him. Yes! Yes! That is, it! The fire in his eyes is the same living fire that led us here! He would not mistake it for the world. And as he gazed into this baby’s deep brown eyes, he saw the unmistakable glitter of gold flakes as well. The glory they had followed now dwelled in this child!

Mary broke the silence. She waved her hand at what they had all seen and said, “In our language, Shekinah means to dwell. We use it to describe God’s glory coming down to dwell among us. Until now, God’s glory would only come for a time and then leave. But now, his glory is here to stay,” she stroked Jesus’ brown hair lovingly, “He is Immanuel, God with us.”

All his life, Belteshazzar had worshiped wealth. Strived for infamy and greatness. No longer. If God had abandoned his throne, humble himself and enter the brokenness of humanity, then so would he. He thought, From now on, I will serve not strive.

Later that night, an angel appeared to Belteshazzar in his sleep warning him not to return to Herod. Suspicions confirmed, he informed the entourage to prepare for the journey home without delay.


Herod paced like a caged lion. “It has been a week! Where are they?!” He whirled toward his captain of the guard. “Your incompetence has cost us everything! What happened?” The Captain’s face was ashen with fear. “Sire, we trailed them as you directed. But the Shekinah Glory both went before them and behind them, as a rear guard. We could not see them through the cloud and if we got close our men died.”

Belial hissed in Herod’s ear, “Herod, you were always a worthless counterfeit.” He sneered. “The Glory of the LORD has chosen another king. A Jewish king. The LORD rejected your father Esau and he has rejected you too. You must kill them all. Teach them a lesson they will never forget.” His worst fears had come true. Now, theirs would as well.

Herod stroked his beard and thought to himself, I will eliminate this new king. But, the people must be taught a lesson. I am sick of their constant pandering for a new king. Streets will run with rivers of blood from my enemies. I will show them what I think of their LORD GOD and his glory.

Herod called for the captain of the guard. In the morning, he would begin the genocide. When the Captain arrived, Herod said, “I want it done in daylight so all will see the extent of my wrath.”


Joseph stared at the gold, wagons, horses, food and other gifts they had left Jesus. It was unbelievable. Where could he hide it all? Herod’s spies would know and come for the boy. He prayed. He sensed danger in his spirit.

That night, Joseph was tossing in a fitful sleep when Gabriel appeared to him and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”

Joseph woke Mary. “Come Mary, we must flee to Egypt. Tonight.” He laid his hand on her pregnant belly and said, “I hate to ask a long journey of you when you are again with child, but we must go. There is no time to waste. The LORD has provided everything we need.”

Together, they packed the wagons, horses, food and gold the Magi had miraculously brought the day before. Joseph marveled at God’s provision. The Magi’s gifts would aid in their fight to Egypt and even help them create a home there. Joseph had yet to tell Mary they may be there for years.

As they fled in the night, Joseph paused only briefly to warn their dear friends Hananiah and Evie of the coming wrath. After Mary said her goodbyes, she climbed into the wagon and through tear blurred eyes took a final look at the little stable hidden in the hillside.


Don’t miss last post of the Christmas Series next week!

Book Review: Crosshairs

Crosshairs by Patricia Bradley is the third book in her Natchez Trace Series. It is the story of Ainsley Beaumont, a ranger in the investigative services branch of the Park Rangers and Lincoln Steele, a former FBI sniper. Beaumont and Steele cross paths unexpectedly when Beaumont comes back to her hometown to investigate the murder of a young woman. Striving to prove herself as a female investigator, Beaumont is determined her rising flame for former boyfriend Steele will not get in her way. Steele has other plans entirely.

Lots of twists in this book. I found the ending unexpected and interesting. Looking back I think Patricia Bradley did a great job weaving small clues into the book. By balancing danger and suspense with love triangles, Bradley does not leave you on a boring page.

If you prefer crime, suspense, murder and a case to solve then you will find this book will fall in line.

Morality as a theme is often over looked in books, but you will find the theme of classic moral justice in Crosshairs. Good characters come to good ends, bad characters come to bad ends. Justice served. There is also a theme of relational redemption as well.

All and all, I found the book entertaining but also similar in footprint to book 1 in this series, Standoff, and so I give it 3 stars.


12 weeks of Christmas:

#3 Herod

by Leslie Crouse

Herod sat and mused to himself how far he had come. Born a servant, he knew what it was to be a powerless puppet. Yet, through his political brilliance, he had risen to become Herod the Great. They called him a madman for murdering his favorite wife and step children. But she had been of the Hasmonean dynasty and he would not tolerate any claim to his throne.

It’s true. He was a violent man but would leave a different legacy through his building projects. Recently, he had completed his masterpiece. Jerusalem’s new temple. Named Herod’s Temple in his honor. It was a veritable circus in the court of the Gentiles, but he had appointed Annas as High Priest of Jerusalem and the oily priest made sure the temple was a lucrative business.

And just this morning, Annas had reported the Shekinah Glory of God was dwelling over Jerusalem! It had not happened since Solomon’s day. Herod finished another large glass of wine and leaned back giving a satisfied sigh. I am Herod the Great King. Even the God of Abraham recognizes my rightful place on the throne with the presence of His Shekinah glory.


The journey from the Parthian Empire had taken about 4 months. Belteshazzar led the entourage of Magi, soldiers, servants and beasts as they traveled. In total there were about 700 of them and the journey had gone slower than he liked.

But, the sword-shaped Shekinah had led them steadily. By day it looked much like a cloud sparkling with golden flakes. At night, it appeared as a pillar of living fire. It was a fearsome sight to behold and any who got too close died.

Belteshazzar was excited. He was witnessing history being made. There were bad relations between the Parthian Empire and Herod. Herod was an Edomite who hated the Jews and stolen the Hasmonean throne with Roman assistance. He was deceitful at best. A maniacal murderer at worst.

Belteshazzar knew Phraates IV was all too eager to recognize a new king and rebuild the bridge with Judea. They were there to be ambassadors as much as to celebrate the birth of the new “King of the Jews.” And Phraates IV was adamant they use that very title, “King of the Jews” when referring to the new king.

He could see the walls of Jerusalem. Soon, the watchmen upon the walls would cry out their arrival and he would face the unpredictable Herod.

Herod’s Courts

“Your Majesty, I have an urgent message from your Captain at the wall.” Breaking his musings, Herod set his wine down and extended his scepter allowing the man to continue his report. “There is a great entourage approaching Jerusalem. Our scouts are reporting it is of Parthian origin.”  

Herod froze, wine halfway to his wet lips. The Parthians? They have opposed my every decision. Were they here to bring war for the executed Hasmonean heir, the princess and her children? Herod wondered what political intrigues were afoot. “How many?”

The man bowed and continued, “Between 600-800, Great King. There are many soldiers and Magi.”

Herod thought for a moment. How can he maneuver this to his advantage? His armies were away, reinforcing a Roman battle. Now was not the time for teaching the Parthians a lesson in submission. Perhaps they have seen the Shekinah Glory of the LORD and come to recognize me as the rightful king.

Herod replied, “Prepare a feast for them. I want all the best entertainment present. We will welcome them as friends and find out what their purpose is.”


That evening the Parthian entourage marched through Jerusalem with much fanfare. The people were terrified it meant another war. Given the number in this entourage, Herod too, was nervous. What is their intent? He wondered.

At Herod’s invitation to speak, the Chief Magus, Belteshazzar, approached his throne and bowed low. “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star,” pointing toward the Shekinah Glory of the LORD, “when it rose and have come to worship him.” For a moment, Herod simply stared.

Belial slithered up the throne and whispered, “Who dares make a claim to the Jewish throne when you are the one who has conquered this country?” White hot fury filled Herod.

Master of political diplomacy, Herod smiled, “My friends, how my heart rejoices at your arrival! I welcome you at this time of celebration. Please, before we discuss this further, I insist you rest from your great journey. Come, my servants will show you to your rooms.”

Belteshazzar bowed and said, “You are gracious, Sire.” He noted that while Herod, appeared joyful at this news, the wily king had avoided revealing any information. Belteshazzar looked into Herod’s jubilant eyes and reminded himself that this was a madman not to be trusted. Used to being put off by kings, he bowed low again and allowed Herod’s servants to usher him and the other Magi to their prepared rooms.

Herod called for an immediate assembly of all the chief priests and scribes of the people. He inquired where exactly the Christ was to be born and all information about him. Annas reported “In Bethlehem of Judea,” and went into a long Jewish prophecy.

Herod paced in his chambers. He hated the Jews. This hope for a messiah they held on to was foolishness. It fueled rebellions and had been the cause of several false messiahs. He was ready to squash this Jewish hope once and for all. But the Parthians were a new dynamic that sparked a fear he did not like to recognize. Why are they involved? The Shekinah led them here? The LORD’s manifest glory is for another king? Again, rage consumed him.

Several hours later, Herod summoned Belteshazzar and the other Magi to his private quarters where they discussed the Shekinah and the time it first appeared. Then he shared the information about the Messiah. Who he was and how they all had waited so long for the Eternal King.  Herod finished saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word that I too may come and worship him.”

Belteshazzar sensed something did not equate. If Herod had been waiting for this king, why did the Shekinah come to them and not Jerusalem? Why would Herod not search for the long-awaited king himself? Did the king expect the Parthian Empire to do the work for him? And what would they find? This journey was turning out to be very interesting indeed. Dangerous even.