Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Night of Fun!

First of all, congratulations to this week's "Fall Friday" winner:

Hannah!

Be looking for my e-mail, Hannah, and I hope you enjoy the book!

Second, tonight is going to be a crazy, exciting night for me! First off, I'm going to Jamba Juice for the first time ever (I think!), which should hopefully be great. Then I'm headed to Awana for a harvest party with a special guest providing the entertainment: Dave the Horn Guy! Apparently, he was on America's Got Talent before, and I think he's kind of like a one-man band. Should be interesting, although I confess that I'm not sure which will be the most thrilling--listening to Dave the Horn Guy, or trying to keep a group of children with candy under control! ;)

After all that, boys from Davidson (the guys' dorm closest to my dorm, Balyo) might come trick-or-treating in our dorm, and then we could go trick-or-treating in their dorm if we want to. And finally, there will be a "Thriller" dance party in one of the other girls' dorms! What a night!

I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween night!

Oh, and two more housekeeping items:
  • I would love to have you take a look at my latest "Sunday by the Sea" installment. I fear that posting too frequently might be a deterrent to going back and reading previous posts, but I hope you get a chance to check today's previous post out!
  • I don't have a "Mondays for the Military" post prepared for tomorrow. I do have some wonderful events lined up for the future, though, including book reviews, giveaways, and more guest interviews (all pertaining to the military). You can check out some of the upcoming features on the "Mondays for the Military" page. Stay tuned!

Sunday by the Sea

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

It's a moving scene. A school of fish has just warned Dory to swim through the trench, not over it. And dear Dory, with her short-term memory loss, instantly forgets what it is they told her.

But then she and Marlin (the clown fish) approach the trench. It looks terrifying, dark and gloomy. As Marlin says: "It's got death written all over it."

But then a "little red flag" goes off in Dory's mind, and she tells Marlin she thinks they should swim through the trench. She tells him, "Trust me on this."

Marlin looks skeptical.

Dory clarifies, "Trust: it's what friends do."

A simple yet powerful statement. One which Marlin ignores, proceeding to distract Dory and get her to go over the trench.

For those of you who have seen Finding Nemo, you know what happens next. You remember the swarm of jellyfish above the trench, the race through the tentacles, and the scars on Dory's side. What seemed like a great decision to Marlin turned into a fearful ordeal.

How often do we experience the same? No, we most likely won't encounter a swarm of jellyfish, and we most likely won't get stung by tentacles. But we will suffer in other ways for not trusting our truest Friend of all.

Now, obviously this example from Finding Nemo cannot serve as a complete comparison, nor could anything or anyone in general compare to our God. However, I think there is a lot we can learn from Marlin's lesson.

Marlin is a fish that plays it safe. He's seen the evil in this life, having lost his wife and almost all of his children (except Nemo) to a hungry barracuda. And the last thing he wants is to put himself or Nemo into any dangerous situations. He chooses to rely on only himself, sure that he knows what's best and no one else can keep him or Nemo from harm. He refuses to trust the school teacher (Mr. Ray) in the beginning with Nemo's safety, and in this illustration he is refusing to trust Dory, no matter that she has shown herself to be a loyal, caring friend.

Our Lord has proven Himself to be the most loyal and the most caring friend we could ever hope for. When we choose to go our own way, believing we know what is best, we sin. We rebel against our God, and we fail to trust our Best Friend. And He bore the scars for our choices when He died on the cross.

Unlike Dory, Jesus died and rose again. He is God and He is omnipotent and completely righteous. He has offered us grace if we choose to believe in Him and the saving power of His sacrifice. And now through His mercy we can be close to Him; we can be friends with God.

Are you facing a trench right now that looks completely impassible? Trust God. If He guides you to that trench and you know He wants you to go through it, then believe that He knows best. Follow His lead and heed His words in Scripture.

Remember:
"Trust: it's what friends do."

"As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him."
~ Psalm 18:30

(Finding Nemo pictures are from the Pixar website.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Review of Sharpshooter in Petticoats

Here's a description of the book from Barbour Publishing:

"Aim for hours of reading pleasure with award-winning author Mary Connealy’s last book in the Sophie’s Daughters series. Mandy Gray, a wealthy sharpshooting widow, is content living in her mountain home and raising her young-uns alone. But how long can she protect herself when thieving outlaws have her surrounded? Rancher Tom Linscott can’t bear to see a defenseless woman in danger. Yet his rescue efforts end up bringing trouble right to her door. Now that they’re both trapped on Mandy’s Mountain, can they learn to live together—or will they die alone?"

My Rating: Spring

My Review:

One thing is for sure--Mary Connealy knows how to write a fast-paced and exciting Western romance! I sped through this book faster than if I was the one being chased by a group of ornery outlaws. And what a race to the finish it was!

After having read the second book in this series, Wrangler in Petticoats, I confess that I did enjoy that one better. (I did not read the first book in the series.) I found that Sharpshooter in Petticoats was rather convoluted, which was both a good and bad thing. I loved getting to see so many of Connealy's other characters return to play a part and show support for their family and friends. But I also found that the situations were a little far-fetched, especially getting so many people together in so short an amount of time, with very little or any communication/planning amongst themselves. (Not that it wasn't fun, though!)

This was quite a hard journey to read about, as Mandy's story was very sad and full of pain. And I didn't really feel that I gained as much from this story as I did from Wrangler in Petticoats. The ending to this series was resolved rather interestingly, but it made me happy and I was glad I was able to see how Connealy dealt with all the crazy things going on in this family. This book might not have felt as moving to me nor quite as enjoyable as her other books I have read, but it was definitely an engaging read and one that answered a lot of questions raised in the second book in the series.

*With thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.*

Note: This book will be released January 2011.

Fall Friday (Movies and a Giveaway!)

Part of our family's fall festivities is to watch our favorite Halloween movies. And no, they are not Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th! I got to watch two of the following three with my parents when they came up to visit me. =)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Disney animated short about the story of Ichabod Crane is a classic! It is narrated by Bing Crosby, and the songs and clever telling of the story are so much fun. The superstitious nature of Ichabod Crane provides for a lot of laughs, but I can't say I blame him for being nervous with talk of the Headless Horseman! ;)

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Who doesn't love this one? There's just something so sweet about Linus, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang. I love all of the main Charlie Brown holiday movies, and this one has a lot of interesting story lines. This is another classic!

Here are several clips from the movie that I found on YouTube:



Halloween Haunts

I loved Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck, and all the original Disney characters as a child. This collection has three stories: one starring Mickey, Goofy, and Donald as ghost-busters; another starring Pluto and a bunch of cats; and the last starring Donald and his nephews. Lots of laughs in this one, too!

Now, I'm not saying I recommend these movies for everyone. Yes, they are all animated, but I know parents have to be careful when choosing what they should allow their young children to watch. However, I will say that I've watched these ones for years and I continue to enjoy them immensely. In my opinion, they sure beat any type of scary movie! ;)

Earlier in this post I mentioned that I watched two of the three of these recently. Leave a comment with your guess as to which one I didn't watch this year, and I'll draw a name out of those who guess correctly. The winner will receive my gently used copy of In Every Heartbeat! (You must leave your e-mail address in your comment and you must have a U.S. mailing address.) The winner will be announced Halloween night!

(The Legend of Sleepy Hollow picture is from this site, and the Halloween Haunts picture is from this site.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CSN Stores: Review to Come!

I recently received an e-mail from Kate with CSN Stores, and I'm excited to say that I'm going to be reviewing one of their many products here on my blog! They have a lot to offer, anything from an end table to a bookcase (like the one Renee over at Black 'n Gold Girl's Bookspot reviewed for CSN back in July).

Now, I confess I already made up my mind what I think I'd like to review. And since most of my readers are women (and the men can use the review as a possible gift idea for the women in their lives!), I think a review of a pair of adorable heels is in order! ;)

So be on the lookout for my possible "shoe review" to come! (Aren't I a wonderful poet?)

My Review of Love's First Bloom

Here's a description of the book from Bethany House:

"She must conceal her past, her identity. What hope can there be for love?

Life changes drastically for Ruth Livingstone the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her under an assumed name to a small village in New Jersey. There she dutifully awaits his acquittal, certain that her father, Reverend Livingstone, soon will be cleared of the outrageous accusations against him.

When tragic events transpire, Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River—a place where she can find a measure of peace amid her growing heartache. It is also here that she meets Jake Spencer, a man who both frustrates and intrigues her. Fearful of the newspapermen intent on tracking her down and unsure of whom to trust, Ruth knows she must carefully maintain her identity as Widow Malloy. But as love begins to slowly bloom, can the tenuous affection growing between Ruth and Jake withstand the secrets that separate them?"

My Rating: Fall/Spring

My Review:

This book is slow to fully bloom, but the resulting flower is a lovely sight to see.

I confess that I was not fully drawn into the story right away, and it was hard for me to completely sympathize with Ruth because the situation seemed to be more the exception than the rule. That is to say, Ruth's plight was not one that most people could relate to, and the requests of her father seemed rather strange.

As for Jake, his first appearance suggests that he's had a "turn-around" in his life, but many of his actions throughout the book appear to be in conflict with a changed heart. It is as if he is seeking a second chance to appease his brother and further his career only, not a second chance to make better choices in general.

However, the plot is certainly creative, and once I sat down and really determined to read the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of many of the characters that began to emerge. I was also happy to discover plot twists and romantic tension that held my interest.

Yes, I was frustrated with the lies that kept engulfing the characters deeper into an unnecessary extent of turmoil. However, I was quite satisfied with the ending of the book, even if it did seem a bit too tidy for "real" life. I liked seeing how the author resolved the story, and I thought the final "chapter" was both clever and a good reminder. Overall, once the story pulled me in I found the journey to be enjoyable.

*With thanks to Jim Hart and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Revell Blog Tour: My Review of Emily's Chance

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"Emily Rose may be in the tiny West Texas town of Callahan Crossing for the moment, but it's just a rung on her ladder to success. Her work at the Callahan Crossing Historical Museum will look good on her ever-growing resume as she attempts to break into the prestigious world of a big city museum curator. Little does she know that cowboy and contractor Chance Callahan has decided that he can convince her to stay--both with the town and with him. As he helps Emily restore the town's history after a devastating fire, can he help her uncover the value of love?"

My Rating: Summer

My Review:

I was thrilled by how "real" this book was! The book was well-written and flowed really well. The feelings of the characters and the situations that arose felt very true to life, in my opinion, and the dialogue was engaging, witty, and just what the reader would expect to hear from these characters in these settings. The author even brought in cell phones and texting in such a cute and fun way!

The romance was very sweet, and the dilemma of having to choose between a career and love is something that I think many people can relate to. In this day and age, success (at least in the United States) is expected, and is defined by wealth and prestige. But this book challenges the reader to re-evaluate his or her definition of success, and to realize that we may be focusing on our own plans far more than we have sought God's plan.

Also, the other issues dealt with, such as reconciliation, courage, and understanding (as opposed to being judgmental) were very important and woven in well throughout the book. I was pleased with how the author captured modern life while also transporting the reader to a place that is far away from what most of us are familiar with. It was a great balance between ranches and bowling alleys, little museums and Cold Stone Creamery.

This book is a great, enjoyable read! The hero is both caring and strong (and quite handsome!), and sure to keep the reader turning those pages. The ending was just right, bringing both satisfaction and an interest to read more about the Callahans of Texas!

*With thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

“Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday for the Military: Meet KC Frantzen

Today we have a very special guest! A few weeks ago I left a comment on the Seekerville blog for one of the authors about "Mondays for the Military." Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from another reader, excitedly telling me about people she knows in the military and about the program she helps with called "Wounded Warrior Getaway!" KC Frantzen and her husband both volunteer with WWG, and I'm thrilled to feature her today and give you a glimpse at this amazing program and the ways you could help!

So please join me in welcoming KC to "Seasons of Humility!"

Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today, KC! First of all, could you explain a little bit about yourself and the "Wounded Warrior Getaway"?

KC: Thank you for asking me to share about this fantastic program. (Waving to you and your readers!)

Joni Eareckson Tada has a 5 minute segment each morning on Moody Radio. ("Joni and Friends" presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people affected by disability, and their families, around the world.)

One particular morning in early 2009, Joni was talking about Family Retreats and mentioned they had recently started one for Wounded Warriors. I called my husband and he immediately agreed - this is something we wanted to do!

Amber: How does WWG serve military men and women? Do you have an example or two that you could share with us?

KC: Over 30 families participate at the Texas WWG. Most warriors have profound injuries: lost limbs, agonizing burns. Almost all have PTSD or TBI or perhaps are still in the hypervigilant stage of readjustment. With burns as an example, warriors endure 20, 30 or more surgeries. When they say "endless doctor's appointments and therapy", that is what is meant.

The real key to the WWG is family. This is the ONLY program in the U.S. that enables the entire family to come at NO CHARGE for an extended period (long weekend) not just a few hours. Donations from grateful American companies and individuals pay for the family's stay. (Volunteers raise our own support.)

Concerns vary with age: Why did this happen to me and my family? Why does God allow people to die? Why is my warrior Dad or Mom like this (angry, distant, disabled, disfigured, zombie, a wreck)? Will they ever get better? Will I have to be "the parent"? Will we ever escape psychiatrists writing everything down? Will we have to redeploy?

Two of the most poignant questions from warriors are: How can I provide for my family when I can't take care of myself? What if the pain is so bad I can't take it?

Some know a lot about Jesus Christ, some a little, and some seem to have never heard.

We serve them by being available, honest and loving. We are there to give the warriors and their spouses/caregivers unfettered time. We care for their children as if they are our own, so parents can fully give themselves to reconnecting.

Breakout sessions are led by professionals, one for spouses/caregivers, one for warriors. Participants sometimes share, for the very first time, thoughts and feelings they've grappled with since their injury.

Amber: What are some of the ways you've seen God at work in the lives of those you are helping?

KC: At this past April's Getaway after church on Sunday, we had open mike time. Two sang. One read a poem she had penned. Some commented: "I never knew there was something like this for my family. We really needed it and will be back and we'll tell others." And another said: "You all showed us what love is. You are Genesis to Revelation to me." One teen tried to tell us how much we had helped her dad… but could not finish for weeping. A lady warrior had everyone give us volunteers a standing ovation. They were amazed that some of us travel "so far" to minister to them.

(They have given EVERYTHING; we show up for a weekend.)

My favorite scene from the April getaway was out by the lake. A big ol' warrior was bagged out on a blanket under a Texas-size spreading live oak, knees up, ignoring all the water activities and rock climbers. On his chest was his little 18 month old daughter. They just communed for the better part of an hour. THIS is what the WWG is all about.

Here's a portion of an email already in our inbox when we returned home.

"Joni & Friends Team:

I would like to say a great big THANK YOU! Joni & Friends and all who were involved as well as the Warriors/families that participated blessed my soul and my wife's (also a warrior). I pray this can be implemented at most major military installations that deploy Soldiers frequently (Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Benning, GA or Fort Stewart, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Polk, LA & Fort Campbell, KY). It is a chance for families to be renewed and strengthened inside and outside. God has definitely taken something like a disability that most would say is a negative or bad thing, and made it into a true blessing and the devil can’t stop it. God never ceases to amaze me how He orchestrates miracles and blessings in a dim situation. With the Love and kindness shown, people will be drawn to Him. You all did that!!!"


Amber: Wow! This is a powerful program!

Have you learned anything about humility while working with WWG that you could share with us?


KC: YES! One is humbled in the presence of true heroes. The officer forced to make excruciating decisions after the IED explosion - his medic was killed and he couldn't save all his men. The warrior who wants to be a good husband and father, but can hardly care for himself. The wife who stands by the man she loves, the man who has changed so dramatically through no fault of his own. The teen who struggles with protecting his younger siblings and Mom OR trusting that his Dad can truly be in charge of the household once again. The husband who tenderly nurses his beautiful wife (now an amputee) back to health.

When a warrior stops you in the parking lot to chat, then pours out his heart and asks you to pray with him - This is holy ground, and it IS humbling.

The most humbling thing of all is to realize that you are part of someone's eternal destiny. Over a dozen people came to faith in Christ at the April Getaway.

Amber: What are some of the ways we could learn more about WWG and get involved (actively, financially, or otherwise)?

KC: Please click HERE to go to the website or call 210-481-5664. The program is expanding because of the urgent need. (I heard on the radio last week that over 25,000 wounded Marines have returned. That's just the Marines.) In addition to the events twice a year with Brooke Army Medical Center, Joni and Friends has added getaways with Walter Reed Army Hospital. The first one was last month.

As far as participation, there are several ways for grateful Americans to join in. Families receive goodie bags upon arrival. We need items like handwritten thank you notes, Christian books and music, Bibles, snacks, crayons, gift cards. We also have prizes such as cameras, DVD players, Wii games. Many choose to donate dollars, to sponsor events such as the BBQ dinner, climbing wall, fishing, horseback riding or an afternoon of pampering.

But the best way is to come join us and see for yourself! These experiences have greatly blessed our marriage, serving the Lord and our warrior families in this way.

Amber: How can we pray for you and all those involved with WWG?

KC: Prayer is THE most important part. Pray especially for the Chaplains. Especially them…

Kleenex alert!!! Charlynn, one of the volunteers, takes part as a clown and other characters too! Here is a sample of her impression of things and some prayer requests:

"I know many of the soldiers and their families. We have stayed in touch with each other over the two years since the Wounded Warrior Getaways began. I look forward to meeting the newcomers and welcoming them with the overflowing joy of the Lord.

The returning children look forward to seeing Care EE the clown, having their faces painted and playing with all the funny clothes, hair and hats. But I never cease to be amazed at the site of grown men, grinning from ear to ear as they try on floral hats, boas, and wigs that make them look like Rock Stars. It is better than Disneyland - and it is certainly like no place on earth.

Two new warriors came in our "Imagination Station." The husband and wife (both soldiers, both wounded) tried to take it all in, while smiles of wonderment broke across their faces. A green haired volunteer began to make her "sales pitch."

"Over here, you can try on one of these lovely outrageous costumes. Located on the shelves, fancy hats to assure you feel, well... fancy. And as you can see strewn across the tables against the walls - wigs of every color, length and style."

Their heads twisted from side to side. They laughed. The wife put on a pink and white feather boa and topped her look off with a "Salvador Dali" style artist's beret. Her husband started looking through the hairpieces and wigs, carefully weighing each style. Care EE was quick to assist.

"No, what I am looking for is something I can clip on." He was particular and purposeful. He finally found an elaborately braided clip-on blonde hairpiece which he attached to his safari hat. He flung his new found persona into Rock Icon mode. His wife laughed. They both posed for the commemorative photo.

She only had one leg. He had suffered burns over 80% of his body.

Who could have imagined this day? Who would have predicted their laughter?

From Psalm 126 The Message "We laughed, we sang, we couldn't believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations. "God was wonderful to them!" God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people."

Pray for "appointments" with the Great Physician
Pray for healing of unseen psychological wounds
Pray for wisdom of the volunteers handling the breakout sessions with the warriors and caregivers
Pray for enduring strength for the volunteers and staff of Joni and Friends
Pray for time with our guest speakers to make an impact
Pray for joy everlasting through salvation
Rejoice for the victories
Rejoice for greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world
Rejoice for the resurrection power
Rejoice for the freedom we have to share the Gospel
Rejoice that death has no victory
Rejoice for our King is on the way"

[Also,] there is a WWG Oct 27-31, so pray for all participants, please!

Amber, I'm so glad to have "met" you through the gracious ladies at Seekerville. You're doing a wonderful job with your own blog and are a super inspiration to me!

If anyone wants to ask questions directly, they are welcome to contact me. Know that I'm only a volunteer, but I'm honored, and yes, humbled, to help our military any way I can.

Thank YOU for your heart!!!!

Amber: KC, it has been a pleasure to feature you and WWG today. Thank you for the wonderful example of love, caring, and dedication you have shown us. You are an inspiration, and may God bless the work that you and others are doing through WWG!

Note to readers: I just thought I would draw your attention to a new page for "Mondays for the Military." (The list of pages is in the top right section of the sidebar.) It includes a list of upcoming events and a way to contact me concerning this feature. Thank you for making it such a success!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bluegrass Festival: Why I Love Bluegrass

To be honest, it's hard to know where to begin. I'll start by saying that I have listened to many different kinds of music, and you'll find in my iTunes account music ranging from the soundtrack of Phantom of the Opera to the modern electronic music of Owl City.

However, to me, there is nothing like bluegrass.

Bluegrass is a step back in time, while still retaining a sense of timelessness. Listening to a CD of bluegrass or attending a bluegrass performance is like listening to history. It's not fancy like classical music. It's not what teenagers desire at a dance party. It's not even like the popular country music of today. Bluegrass brings to mind what Dustin Taylor of Huckleberry Flint mentioned: "just sitting around a campfire playing songs."

Bluegrass is engaging. It beckons you to get up and dance. It urges you to sing along with all of your heart. The fast rhythms and the amazing cooperation of instruments make bluegrass a delight to listen to. Banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles--the music they make together astounds me, and when I listen to bluegrass I want so much to be a part of it, to be a part of the community it creates.

Bluegrass is heartfelt. The lyrics, whether they are more about today or more about the tales of yesterday, are all about what it is like to be a human. There is a universal theme to bluegrass songs. Whether they are about what it's like to lose a loved one, what it's like to be denied love, or what it's like to be full of wanderlust (a desire for adventure)--we can relate. Often, the songs are sorrowful and painful, because this world is full of sin and problems. But there are songs that express hope, and ones that are just plain fun. They are true to life, and I love that.

Bluegrass calls to me like no other music does. It's personal in a way that is hard for me to describe. It's music to travel by, music to listen to on this journey of life, riding the rails and hiking the trails. It's compelling in all seasons of our life. Music is a beautiful gift that God has given us, and I'm so thankful for bluegrass and those who play it with all the talent they have been given by God!

On that note, I'll announce the winners!

Michelle
won the iTunes download of her choice of a Cherryholmes CD!

Vince won the iTunes download of his choice of a Huckleberry Flint CD!

(I used the Random.org List Randomizer to choose the winners.)

For those of you who didn't win, I strongly encourage you to check out the music of Cherryholmes, Huckleberry Flint, and other bluegrass artists. Enjoy the music meant to draw people together and touch your heart. If you want any other recommendations for bluegrass artists, feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts on bluegrass or on your favorite type of music!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bluegrass Festival with Dustin Taylor!

Welcome to the second day of the "Seasons of Humility" Bluegrass Festival! Today we are hosting Dustin Taylor of the bluegrass band Huckleberry Flint!

Huckleberry Flint is a band located in my home county (Humboldt County) in Northern California. The band has recently grown to include seven members total. Dustin is one of the original members, and he plays guitar and sings for the band. He and several other members of the band also play at a local church (Arcata First Baptist) during the Sunday morning worship service. The music is beautiful, and I envy my parents and sister being able to go and listen to them all the time while I'm away at college! ;)

You can find out more about Huckleberry Flint by checking out their Facebook page.

And now it is my great pleasure to introduce ya'll to Dustin Taylor!

Amber: How did Huckleberry Flint get its start? And is there a story behind the name?

Dustin: Huckleberry Flint got their start seven years ago. Kevin Porter, Marybeth Taylor, Adam Dick and I had already been playing worship music together in church and our Bible study, then Adam Dick brought up the idea of playing bluegrass together. Being that Adam was playing around on the mandolin, I played a couple chords on the guitar, and Marybeth took classical violin lessons throughout her school years, bluegrass was a perfect fit. Adam was heavily influenced by Hank Williams and The Wilders at the time, and I began acquiring a collection of Bill Monroe and other bluegrass recordings for my influence. After our first street performance at Eureka's monthly Arts Alive event, we were hooked and soon began shopping for our western suits and cowboy hats. Our first official performance was at the Arcata First Baptist welcome students BBQ.

I wish I had a better story for the name Huckleberry Flint, but we were just having a hard time coming up with a name and so I was just spewing out combinations of names. I knew the name needed to role off the tongue with ease, and when I said Huckleberry Flint we laughed about it and then came to like it.

Amber: Do you have any family members or long-time friends in the group? If so, do you feel that the music draws you closer together?

Dustin: I think the reason Huckleberry Flint has lasted so long is because we are all long-time friends and family. Marybeth is my sister in law and the rest of the band members are very close friends from church. I feel that although performing music together has definitely drawn us closer together, it is our relationship with Jesus Christ that has really impacted our friendships for the better.

Amber: Of the songs your group performs, which one is your favorite and why?

Dustin: I have a few favorites, but I would say my favorite song to perform right now would have to be "Wayfaring Stranger." The song has taken on a whole new life of its own since Brian and Lauren Pilger have joined the band adding organ, electric guitar, and vocals. I love the dynamics, haunting harmonies, and full bodied sound of our version of the traditional song.

Amber: I hope that song is going to be on your next album, then! (Dustin already informed me that they will be recording a new CD this winter!)

What do you enjoy about performing locally in Humboldt County? Have you ever had the opportunity to travel with Huckleberry Flint?

Dustin: Humboldt County is a great place to perform. For such an out of the way location, Humboldt has a very vibrant music scene with a large variety of music venues. Humboldt also has a wonderful folk life society who took us under their wing and gave us many opportunities to grow and learn as an old-time/bluegrass band. One such pivotal folk life society moment for me was when they asked us to open for Old Crow Medicine Show. I fell in love with the high energy performance and raw old-time sound of O.C.M.S that night, and my mind was left spinning with ides for future HF performances. I also enjoy performing in Humboldt because Huck Flint has a great home town crowd who know how to make us feel welcome and loved. It is nice to see familiar faces in the crowd.

Amber: What do you love the most about bluegrass music in general?

Dustin: I love bluegrass music because of its rich heritage and its accessibility for people to play together. The acoustic instruments can be played anywhere and the traditional songs make it easy for strangers to just gather and make music together. I have had so much fun at bluegrass festivals just sitting around a campfire playing songs.

Amber: Tying in with the title of this blog, "Seasons of Humility," do you ever struggle with humility when Huckleberry Flint garners acclaim? If so, do you have any advice you can share with us from your journey to be humble before God?

Dustin: Of course it is difficult not to feel prideful when Huckleberry Flint garners acclaim, but I think it would be much more of a struggle if it was just me getting acclaim as a solo artist. It is so nice to be in a band of dear friends who also fear the Lord. If I ever feel prideful for my musical skills, the band easily puts me back in my place. Most importantly, it is the constant work of the Lord Jesus in my life that keeps me working toward humility. Fellowship with fellow Christians and time in the Bible are essential to walking out a life pleasing to God.

Amber: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Dustin! Can't wait to go home and listen to Huckleberry Flint's music again in person!


Readers, here's a glimpse of the fantastic, traditional bluegrass music played by Huckleberry Flint:


The music of Huckleberry Flint has a down-home and catchy feel you don't want to miss! And the hymns they play are very powerful. If you would like a chance to win an iTunes download of your choice of one of their two CDs, leave a comment with your e-mail address saying you would like to be entered in the giveaway! A winner will be announced on Sunday, October 24.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bluegrass Festival with Sandy Cherryholmes!

Welcome to the "Seasons of Humility" Bluegrass Festival! Today we are hosting Sandy Cherryholmes of the bluegrass band Cherryholmes! Here's a little bit of background about Sandy from their website:

"Sandy plays a hard-hitting mandolin style and driving rhythm that keep the band's momentum going. For special numbers, she switches to the clawhammer banjo. From hard hitting bluegrass gospel to old-time mountain and country tunes, she does it all. Her yodeling, and her step dancing are real crowd pleasers. Sandy is also a great harmony singer and proficient song writer, and enjoys writing gospel music."

Sandy, Jere, their two sons (B.J. and Skip), and their two daughters (Cia and Molly) make up the band that is Cherryholmes. Here's a brief description of the band:

"With their roots based in bluegrass, Celtic, and jazz music, Cherryholmes has stormed to the top of the music world since winning the 2005 IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Award for Entertainer of the Year."

To find out more about the band, click HERE to visit their website.

And now I am very excited to introduce you all to Sandy Cherryholmes!

Amber: Welcome, Sandy! How did you and your family become interested in bluegrass music?

Sandy: Jere and I stumbled upon a bluegrass radio show in California many years ago. We tuned in every Saturday morning. It was a lot of fun to listen to. After our daughter Shelly passed away (March 12, 1999), we took the family to a local bluegrass festival. We had a great time. Jere thought the music would be fun to play and easy enough for the youngest to catch on to. He said we should start a family bluegrass jam. I began working with them during the day (they were home-schooled) and we would jam at night with Jere. The kids picked it up quickly. We spent many memorable evenings jamming in our living room.

Amber: What is it like being in a band as a family? Do you feel that it draws you closer together?

Sandy: It is very special playing music as a family. There is a certain chemistry that occurs within a family. We play off each others energies. The music has taken us to different parts of the world. We have shared so many experiences together--bad and good (mostly good).

Amber: It is obvious in your music that you are a very close-knit group.

What is your favorite song that you (or one of the members of your family) have written and why is it your favorite?


Sandy: "This is My Son" written by Cia is probably the most special of our songs. We sincerely pray for and support our men and women in uniform who sacrifice for our freedoms. This song was written to acknowledge that the families they leave behind are making their own sacrifices as well.

Amber: That is a beautiful song, and one that has blessed me very much, as well!

What is your favorite place that you have visited while on tour?


Sandy: I love going to the UK, but I have to say that the Bluegrass Cruise is my favorite event. We've been to the Carribean about 6 times. There's something about the combination of bluegrass music, friends, ocean breeze, and turquoise water that makes for a perfect bluegrass experience. We go every February.

Amber: Oh, what I wouldn't give to join you! Sounds delightful.

Being in the music industry, do you prefer performing live or do you prefer the process involved in recording a CD?


Sandy: We make our living on the road. Our mainstay is the live performance. We enjoy making friends. The recording process takes only a few weeks and occurs every 1 to 1-1/2 years. It is another great dimension of the business. The tricky part is that touring and recording have to be juggled to happen at the same time. Sometimes we have returned from a 10 or 12 hour drive, slept a few hours and headed for the studio. We may put in three 12 hour days of recording, and then meet the bus for an 8 or more hours drive to the next show. It isn't all glamorous! Recording is very stressful, but the finished product is very gratifying.

Amber: Tying in with the title of this blog, “Seasons of Humility,” do you ever struggle with humility now that Cherryholmes as a band has become so popular? If so, do you have any advice you can share with us from your journey to be humble before God?

Sandy: That is a very good question. The goal of a musician is to be the best. An artist is constantly being photographed, constantly being praised. An artist who is known to be Christian is often scrutinized. We keep each other accountable. Our band was given to us as a gift. It was God's gift of healing. From the very beginning, we tried to do our best as He would expect us to do. But there have been certain things we wouldn't compromise to get ahead. We have prayed for God to close doors if we couldn't see if something was right or wrong. He has done just that. There are opportunities we have been denied because of our values. We are all content in that. We all have had times when we may have wanted a little more attention or praise than we were getting, but we have to put those feelings in their proper place in order to work together. I'm proud of the kids. They have never expressed bitter feelings because of a another sibling's accomplishments. We truly just feel thankful for everything we've been able to do. In our hearts, we are still that struggling family in L.A. who God gave a special blessing to. Perhaps that is the key--remembering where we came from helps us to see how much more we received than we deserved.

Amber:
Thank you for sharing your heart and that wonderful advice! And I love that idea of "remembering where we came from," which is kind of what bluegrass music is, in a way--remembering our roots.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Sandy!
Cherryholmes creates phenomenal music, and it has been my pleasure to introduce you to my readers!


Now, readers, I hope you don't mind if I share a video I put together this past summer (one I already shared when I was posting about my trip to Washington D.C.). I think it would be fitting to share it again, since Sandy told us that the song I used in the slide show/movie ("This is My Son") is the band's most special song.

video

The music of Cherryholmes is touching, haunting, and beautiful. If you would like a chance to win an iTunes download of your choice of one of their CDs, leave a comment with your e-mail address saying you would like to be entered in the giveaway! A winner will be announced on Sunday, October 24.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Review of In Every Heartbeat

Here's a description of the book from Bethany House:

"Three best friends, three cherished dreams, three searching hearts...
As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future. Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible. But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well.

When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?"

My Rating: Spring

My Review:

The heart--the message--of this book is beautiful, and when the title In Every Heartbeat appears multiple times in the second half of the book, it is very uplifting. However, while the story is inspiring, it also left me a bit unsatisfied.

I love the characters, but at the same time I don't like how they are portrayed. There were some parts of the book that certainly captured the "feel" of college life, but for the most part I was surprised at the immaturity displayed. Certainly, we all act at times in ways that embarrass us later or in ways that shame us. In that sense, the characters were very real and authentic. However, many of the actions and attitudes shown by all of the young adults seemed to be more like those of high school students. The emphasis on clubs, on a social hierarchy, and on putting others down in order to gain popularity didn't completely fit with the independence of college life that I know.

The plot was intriguing, and it picked up more in the second half of the book. But I was torn with the way the story ended. Part of me felt satisfied with what was said and what was left unsaid, because surely life on this earth doesn't exactly have a full "happily-ever-after," where all issues are completely resolved. However, it was the things the author chose to leave unsaid that bothered me. I also wished that Sawyer could have incorporated the time period a little more into the story in some way.

Overall, the book is well-written and enjoyable. It didn't quite reach the caliber of A Hopeful Heart (click HERE to read my review), but Sawyer demonstrates the qualities of a great author, and I appreciated the reminder in this book to seek God and trust His plan, realizing that He truly loves us and knows what we need.

*With thanks to Jim Hart and Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Winners of the "Fall Friday" Giveaway!

Thank you all so much for stopping by and sharing your great fall recipes! It was a lot of fun to see your responses, and I hope you enjoyed swapping recipes!

The winner of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington is Michelle!

The winner of The Vigilante's Bride is Jen ("jenmmcclure")!

Congratulations to both of the winners! I hope you enjoy the books. Be looking for my e-mail, Michelle and Jen!

Thank you again to everyone who participated in the giveaway. Hope to see you all tomorrow at the "Bluegrass Festival" here on my blog! You won't want to miss this!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sharing the Passion

I love bluegrass music, hence the reason for the "Bluegrass Festival" this upcoming weekend on my blog. And I really want you, my readers, who maybe are not familiar with bluegrass or are a bit unsure about it, to see what it is that makes bluegrass so unique and so beautiful.

So, I've decided to do two giveaways this weekend, because this is something I really believe in and something I'd like to share with you. I will be giving away one CD (iTunes download) by the artist featured on Friday, and one CD (iTunes download) by the artist featured on Saturday. Please be sure to stop by and leave a comment; I think you will be blessed by these musicians' stories and their amazing music.

Also, be sure to stop by on Sunday to learn about the reasons why I love bluegrass!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday for the Military: Meet Captain Stokes

It is my distinct honor and joy to introduce my hero to you, my readers. My father has done so much for the United States and for our family that loves him so dearly and admires him so greatly. Please join me in welcoming Captain Floyd Stokes (pictured left at the service for his uncle Lt. Robert Crane at Arlington National Cemetery this past summer) to "Seasons of Humility!"

Amber: To start, could you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose to join the U.S. military?

Captain Stokes: First of all, I am now retired, from both my U.S. military career and my subsequent civilian career as a law enforcement officer and police executive.

I first joined the service as an enlisted man back in the 1950s, but I managed, during the Vietnam era, to be accepted for flight training as a Naval Flight Officer (navigator), and I gained my commission as a U.S. Navy Ensign in the mid-1960s. After three tours of duty in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam and 185 combat support missions flying off aircraft carriers in both prop and jet reconnaissance aircraft, I transferred to Naval Intelligence. I completed my Navy career after nearly 30 years of active and reserve service, retiring as a Navy Captain (0-6) in 1999.

After transferring from active duty to the Naval Reserve, I started a new career as a law enforcement officer, starting as a deputy sheriff, then as a criminal investigator, then finally as a chief of police. After retiring from active law enforcement, I continued as a part-time college instructor in the field of criminal justice and owner of a private investigations and law enforcement consulting firm—my current dual occupation.

Amber: What branch(es) of the military have you served in? How would you describe your overall experience?

Captain Stokes: Actually, I started as an enlisted man in the U.S. Air Force. I then transferred to the U.S. Navy, where I completed my military career—first as enlisted, then as an officer. Judging from my career (from the lowest ranking Air Force enlisted man to a high-ranking Naval officer) I guess you could say my military experience was satisfying, indeed. Sure, I cleaned my share of latrines and mess-halls early on, and I was shot at (by both North Vietnamese MIGs and anti-aircraft guns) more than a few times, but I traveled all over the world, ate pretty darned good (on board the aircraft carriers… most of the time), and even earned two college degrees (compliments of Uncle Sam and the GI Bill). I am proud to have served my country as a military man.

Amber: Could you share at least one of the ways you saw God working in your life during your term of service?

Captain Stokes: I would like to say that I was always a decent Christian man during my time in the military, but I wasn’t. However, even when I turned my back on him, I knew that God looked after me. One moonlit night, I bailed out of the upper hatch of an out-of-control, spiraling Navy A-3 jet about 600 feet above the ocean. In those frightening moments before I hit the water, I distinctly heard a voice say to me, “It is going to be okay.” The voice was so soothing, powerful, and calm that I knew it was God’s voice. It certainly wasn’t mine…. I was scared out of my wits! I knew at that moment God did not intend for me to die that night—that he had something else planned for me. I should have had the sense to learn from what happened to me…. and to bend to God’s will from that point on, but, of course, I was foolishly human. It wasn’t until years later that I finally accepted Christ in my life—and discovered God’s plan included the blessing of three wonderful Christian women, my wonderful wife and our two sweet daughters, in my life. He has been so good to me, and I thank him every single day.

Amber: Do you recall any lessons you learned about humility while in the military that we could also learn from?

Captain Stokes: Goodness, there have been so many, where should I start? All I can say at this point is this: It seems that every time I have attempted to solve a crisis without prayer and with the belief that “I can do it on my own,” I have been forced to my knees and have been taught, once again, to be humble and ask for God’s help. From flight school, when I nearly drowned trying to pass the swimming test and the “Dilbert Dunker” (upside-down, cockpit in the water) escape training, to ocean survival training, to night-time combat missions off the carrier, to …. well, I could go on and on.

Amber: What are some of the needs you or other military men and women you know have? What are ways those of us on the "home front" (so to speak) could help meet those needs?

Captain Stokes: I think the most important need is for prayer, but also military men and women, especially those in combat zones, need to know that those of us on the “home front” support them and appreciate their sacrifices. It is unbelievably difficult to be separated from your loved ones for such long periods—and to undergo the physical and mental stresses of life in a combat zone. Support can be in the form of personal communication (letters, e-mails, holiday cards, “socks for solders,” etc.) … or speaking out publically. No one should advocate war over peace. But, military service is an honorable, courageous, and patriotic undertaking—and it should be respected as such.

Amber: How can we pray for you specifically, as well as all those in the military?

Captain Stokes: Please pray that…. when our time on this earth has come to an end…. my spirit and the spirits of my comrades in arms—active, reserve, discharged, retired—will be accepted into the presence of our loving God…. That truly is my desire.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to answer your questions.

Amber: How can I thank you enough for all you have done, Daddy? Your responses made me cry, and I'm so, so thankful that I have you for a father. God has blessed our family so much!

Thank you for visiting my blog, for serving our country in so many amazing ways, and for supporting me in all my endeavors. I love you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday by the Sea

"There is a grandeur of the spectacle of the sea itself, as it slips on and off its many colors like robes, and now is all shades of green, now purple, now sky-blue. . . . And all these are mere consolations for us, for us unhappy, punished men: they are not the rewards of the blessed. What can these be like then, if such things here are so many, so great, and of such a quality?" ~ St. Augustine (as quoted in Augustine of Hippo, quoted in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper)

For Christian Theology class I have to read the book The Legacy of Sovereign Joy and write a short paper on it. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning last night in order to finish the book, and as I read I came across the quote above and knew it would be beautiful inspiration for a "Sunday by the Sea" post.

Even focusing on just one part of God's creation--the sea--one can only stand in awe at the beauty God has made. And to think, the loveliness we see in this world cannot be compared to the glories of untainted heaven!

It is so unimaginable to us. I am reminded of Stuart in the movie Kate & Leopold when he is trying to explain what he has learned about time. He says something like, "It is as unimaginable as a dog seeing a rainbow. Dogs are color-blind. . . . I'm just a dog who's seen a rainbow, and none of the other dogs believe me."

We, as believers, are like dogs who know there are rainbows out there, even if we can't even comprehend how amazing they are. How could you explain a rainbow to someone who is truly color-blind? Where would you begin to make comparisons? I don't think you can. How much more so is the grandeur of heaven incomparable to what we know!

Here's to a lifetime full of hope for the rainbows we have yet to experience!

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
~Ephesians 3:20-21

(The ocean picture is from PDPhoto.org.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Get Ready for an Amazing Week!

Dear readers, you do not want to miss this next week here at "Seasons of Humility!" I can tell you right now that you will be wonderfully blessed by this week's "Monday for the Military" interview, with my very own dad. I know I could be considered biased, but truly my dad has so many amazing stories to tell and he is such a wonderful man! I cried reading his interview just now, and after I finished reading it I just knew I had to spread the word so that others could be inspired by it, as well.

Also, next weekend is the "Bluegrass Festival" weekend, and I am hosting some fantastic guests! So whether or not you are a bluegrass fan, I think you will really enjoy meeting them. And who knows? You may find yourself falling in love with my favorite genre of music. ;)

Hope to see you all here starting tomorrow with the latest installment of "Sundays by the Sea." It's going to be an awesome week!

My Review of Wrangler in Petticoats

Here's a description of the book from Barbour Publishing: "Ride into the Rockies where love peaks between a tough Texas tomboy and a passionate artist. On her way to Montana, Sally McClellan’s party is attacked and robbed. But then artist Logan McKenzie saves the badly wounded cowgirl who has been left for dead. Can this landscape painter tame the tomboy without breaking her spirit? Sally doesn’t know much about ribbons and lace, but Logan’s presence makes her want to connect with her feminine side. Will this fractured female discover a way to capture the artist’s love—or find herself captured and killed by outlaws?"

My Rating: Spring/Summer

My Review:

Mary Connealy paints a vivid picture in Wrangler in Petticoats that the reader can't take their eyes off of--all through the night! I was drawn to the story like Sally was drawn to Logan's paintings (although I was far less reluctant than Sally, might I add). Connealy knows how to write action and romance in a way that makes the reader laugh, sigh, and continue turning pages almost as fast as Sally can draw her gun!

I was drawn to Logan as soon as his character was introduced. It was interesting to both love Logan for his passion for art, and also become frustrated with his consuming need for it. I loved how Connealy brought in a discussion of art--in a real, down-to-earth, but also thought-provoking way. The connections to some of the topics I've been learning about in Literary Criticism class were great, and they added another dimension of depth to the story that appealed to me. I also loved the discussion of uniqueness and God's gifts throughout the story!

Overall, with the beautiful and mysterious descriptions of the Rockies and Yosemite, the romance that threw a lasso around me and drew me in inescapably, and the multiple, intertwining plots filled with adventure and suspense, I highly recommend this book!

*With thanks to the author for my copy of this book! I was not obligated to write a review.*

Note: I didn't read the first book in this series, but I was still able to enjoy this book on its own.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall Friday (Recipes and Giveaways!)

Good ol' fall with its good ol' food! Not just candy, but a whole harvest of apples, pumpkins, and other treats! I'm so thankful we have all sorts of food to enjoy, even if I am a rather picky eater.

The poll I had up this week was just to give you a "taste" of what was to come. For those of you who are curious about the final results of the poll, here they are:
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (2--16%)
  • Caramel apples (5--41%)
  • Candy Corn (2--16%)
  • Pumpkin pie (3--25%)
There were 12 votes total, and the winner was caramel apples! My roomie was disappointed that pumpkin pie was not the favorite, but either way it was fun to get your input! I love apples and apple cider, and if I was more of a fan of caramel, I'm sure I'd agree with ya'll, too. ;)

Anyway, I'm excited to announce an exciting fall giveaway today! Last spring I gave away a Walmart gift card during "Food Week," with extra entries given for those who shared recipes. It was so fun to do a sort of recipe exchange then, and I think it would be great now to do a fall-themed recipe exchange (especially now that I have more followers, which hopefully means more recipes!).

This time there will be two winners!!! The giveaway is for Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington or The Vigilante's Bride. Both are my gently used copies of the books. Click HERE to read my review of the former, and click HERE to read my review of the latter.


Here are the rules for the giveaway:
  • You must leave a comment which includes your e-mail address and a fall recipe.
  • You must have a U.S. or Canadian mailing address.
  • Also, please let me know which book you want to win! (Pick only one, please!)
  • The giveaway will be open though Wednesday, October 20. Winners will be announced on Thursday, October 21.
As a college student who eats her meals at the cafeteria most of the time, I'm looking forward to talking about recipes and home-cooked food! The cafeteria here isn't bad at all, but with Thanksgiving approaching, a home-cooked meal sounds delightful. I'd love to hear any fall food stories you would like to share, as well!

Help yourself to some of my store-bought candy corn as you search for a recipe. ;)

P.S. I have a plentiful TBR stack, so in order to cut back I'll offer my copy of Out on a Limb by Rachelle McCalla (a "Love Inspired Suspense" book) to the first person who can correctly guess what my vote would have been on this week's poll!

(Just to clarify, it's really hard to keep the "Love Inspired" books in pristine condition, so even though I didn't even read that much of the book, it's not in perfect condition anymore. I blame it mostly on those silly price stickers that don't want to come off nice and neat! But hey, it's a free book, right?) ;)

So don't wait any longer--dig into the giveaway feast!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Revell Blog Tour: My Review of The Waiting

Here's a description of the book from Revell:

"She was waiting for love--and found it in the most unexpected place.

Jorie King's life is on hold. She has been waiting for Ben Zook to return to Lancaster County. Waiting for him to settle down and join the church. Waiting to marry him.

But when news arrives that Ben has been killed, Jorie is devastated. She finds unlikely comfort in the friendship of his brother Caleb. Friendship ripens into love, and two broken hearts plan for a life filled with the promise of a fresh beginning--until their worlds are turned upside down.

With her realistic characters whose weaknesses develop into strengthes, Suzanne Woods Fisher offers a reading experience that rises above the others. You will love growing in spirit with these complex people living the simple life as The Waiting transports you into a world where things aren't as simple as they seem."

My Rating: Spring/Summer

My Review:

Unexpected. This word from the back cover description of the book is the aspect of the story that really drew me in and captured my interest. As other reviewers have pointed out, the plot of The Waiting is rather different from many other books set in an Amish community. The time period (during the Vietnam War) and the characters both intrigued me.

What really bothered me when I first started reading the book was not the necessarily the story itself, but rather the back cover synopsis. It was almost immediately apparent that the back cover gave away a twist in the story--because if that twist had not happened in the plot, based on the back cover there would have been a big moral problem!

After reading the entire book, though, I felt relieved. The issues that were raised throughout the book were dealt with in a way that satisfied me, as far as the idea that while there was still room for me to wonder about what happened after the last page, there weren't any "loose ends" left dangling to frustrate me.

In fact, the more I read the more I enjoyed the book. There were some deep parts--unexpected--that were moving. And I was pleased that the author did not shy away from difficult, real issues. She wove compassion and pain together into a story that felt authentic and hopeful.

There is a beautiful passage that tied in with the title so well on page 173, which I will leave to the reader to find and savor. Suffice it to say that while I was a bit annoyed by some of the point-of-view confusion I sensed as I read, overall I loved this book. I was left guessing as to what would happen in the end until the very last pages!

*With thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

“Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

LitFuse Publicity Tour: A Memory Between Us

Here's a description of the book: "Can they overcome the past to find a brighter future together?

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

A Memory Between Us is the second book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World
War II."

My Rating:
Summer

My Review:

From the very beginning of this book I was drawn into the meeting of two wounded people—one physically, one emotionally—that would become the shared memory leading to an arduous but rewarding journey. How could I not fall in love with these characters? Ruth and Jack, as well as May and Charlie, are real, and as hard as it was at times I know I was privileged to read their story and walk (and fly) alongside them.

There was so much to learn from Ruth and Jack about love, strength, forgiveness, and faith. Their love soars one moment and gets caught in a spin the next, and it’s painful to see the suffering they go through. Sundin writes beautifully, and the heartache of these characters is as vivid as the scen
ery and era she involves the readers in. In this book, WWII is not just a series of dates repeated in a history class or textbook—it’s an authentic glimpse into a time of fear, love, and sacrifice.

The cover of this book really fits the story, and I think Jack and Ruth, as well as a part of the first major setting, are portrayed well. Just like in this cover, the reader is invited to walk with the characters and face their terrors and their joys. I appreciated the chance to learn some of what war is really like—the soldiers in agony, the flight crews facing unthinkable danger, the nurses speaking what comfort they can—as well as what sorts of sacrifices men and women in the military make for love and country.

This book is quite a ride, but I’m glad I got to experience it! There were some moments that made me want to tell the characters the obvious in no uncertain terms, and there were moments that made me want to laugh and cheer along with them. I’m so thankful that the reading of this book is now a memory I can cherish.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the LitFuse Publicity Blogging tour.*

About the Author:

Sarah Sundin is an on-call hospital pharmacist and holds a BS in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. This is her second novel. For more info please visit her website at www.sarahsundin.com!

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Contest Information:

"Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize Package! One grand prize winner will receive:

* Make-your-own-photo book from Mypublisher.com (Capture your own Memories)

* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane (Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)"

AMBU_button

To enter simple click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!) [Be sure and enter soon!]

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday for the Military: Meet Stephen Novak

Please join me in welcoming Stephen to "Seasons of Humility!"

Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today! It is an honor to have you visit. To start, could you tell us a little about yourself and why you chose to join the U.S. military?

Stephen: My name is Stephen Novak. I am a senior at Corban University majoring in Criminal Justice with the goal of a career in federal law enforcement. I desire to serve the Lord in my career. I joined the military because I wanted adventure and wanted to see the world. I wanted to serve my country as well and learn about the military.

Amber: What branch(es) of the military have you served in? How would you describe your overall experience?

Stephen: I served in the Army National Guard as an Infantryman. My experience was very good and worthwhile. I looked at the military as a huge witness field for Christ.

Amber: Could you share at least one of the ways you saw God working in your life during your term of service?

Stephen: Later on during my Iraq tour, I was able to lead my fellow soldiers in prayer before going out on missions.

Amber: Do you recall any lessons you learned about humility while in the military that we could also learn from?

Stephen: I learned that my way was not always the right way. There are a variety of ways to get a job done and it is not worth the effort sometimes to argue about who is right and who is wrong. Save your energy for the physical and spiritual enemy.

Amber: What are some of the needs you or other military men and women you know have? What are ways those of us on the "home front" (so to speak) could help meet those needs?

Stephen: I do know they need hygiene items. Q-tips are really handy as well as Baby Wipes. Good Gospel Tracts are perfect to send as well.

Amber: How can we pray for you specifically, as well as all those in the military?

Stephen: Pray for wisdom and guidance for leaders to make the right decisions at the right time. And to be leaders and make decisions. Pray for soldiers to stay alert and confident in their abilities and for God to help them recall information at the proper time.

Amber: Thank you for sharing with us today, Stephen!

And readers, please leave an encouraging comment for Stephen. This is a great opportunity to thank one of our military men for his service!