Monday, August 30, 2010

LitFuse Publicity Blog Tour: Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington

Here's a description of the book: "The war has stolen Rosalie’s fiancé, Vic, from her forever. But rather than wallow, Rosalie distracts herself by cramming her days full of activity—mainly by shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy.

When a reporter dubs her 'Seattle's Own Rosie the Riveter,' even more responsibility piles up. Her strong arms bear all this, but when intense feelings surface for Kenny, the handsome, kind-hearted, and spiritually unwavering reporter, the fear of losing another love propels Rosalie to leave.

It’s only when Rosalie realizes that God has brought her to this place—and this person—for a reason, the sparkling grace of God compels her to let go of her own strength and lean on His, as well as open her heart to love."

My Rating: Spring

My Review:

I loved how this book transported me back to the World War II era! There were various historical details, from the setting to the characters’ dress and speech, which added to my enjoyment of the book. I certainly had fun traveling back in time!

That being said, though, I found that the story took me longer to read than I would have liked. Some emotions and situations seemed to be stretched out more than was necessary. And while I think I need to remember that we all tend to create more drama in our lives than we need to, I just felt that the maturity I desired for the main characters was not completely there.

Some lines thrilled me with their depth of insight and their poetic nature. For example, on page 251 there’s a line that reads, “The sky’s smeared shades, nearly matching the cotton candy’s pink hue, now drizzled away into a deep navy. Only the horizon still whispered with the muted light of the earlier colorfest.” I love beautiful sentences like that! However, there were also word choices that didn’t impress me, such as the constant use of the word “doll” by Kenny. While words like that are quite cute, I was a bit annoyed that he used it so often.

All in all, I really did like this book. I remember that the prologue especially drew me in, and I kind of wished that the feelings it elicited would have been maintained throughout the whole story. But I know that because of the plot, different relationships had to be formed, which brought along all new emotions. And it was quite a journey! I think the ending revealed a lot of important truths, and I was left satisfied with the conclusion.

*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 Authors:

Tricia Goyer: Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-four books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. For more on Tricia click HERE.

Ocieanna Fleiss: Ocieanna Fleiss is a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer’s historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. For more about Ocieanna click HERE.

To Buy the Book: click HERE

Contest Information: Tricia is giving away 5 Victory Prize packs during this blog tour! Check the contest out HERE!

Blog Tour Schedule: Check out all of the other reviews scheduled by clicking HERE.

My Mom and Me

Today was a long day! Saying goodbyes this morning (and last night) was really hard. I love my family so much, and I'm going to miss them terribly while I'm away at school once again! But we'll keep in touch, and I have some wonderful memories that I made this summer which I can hold close in my heart.

Anyway, my mom drove me up to Oregon, and we had lots of fun together! We ate lunch at Hellgate in Grants Pass, at the River Rock Cafe, which we love. The decorations in there are so lovely, and after lunch we enjoyed a short walk near the river.

The drive was bittersweet, consisting of mother-daughter talks and listening to music for the most part. We arrived in Salem by early evening, and after checking into our hotel, we drove over to Corban University. My sweet roomie was not there at the time, but my mom and I were so proud that we were able to set up my half of the room already! ;) Now, tomorrow can be reserved for shopping together and having girl-time! (Again, hope I don't get too carried away, but it is nice to have new clothes and such!)

We ended up eating a late dinner at Olive Garden, which was great! These pictures are from there, and doesn't the food look good? My mom and I split a dish of Chicken Scampi for dinner and a slice of Black Tie Mousse Cake for dessert.

Well, now that you've heard all about my day, I hope you're not too bored! ;) May this post remind you of the delightful blessing of family--how grand it is to just spend time together and to know that loved ones are there for you to support you and help you--whether they are blood-relations or close friends that are just like family! I'm so blessed to have a dear "family" of blogging friends with all of you!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Season for Learning

Fall marks the beginning of a new school year, a time of learning from books and teachers. But fall also marks an important time of learning in the "Seasons of Humility." That is to say, "fall" is the season of life I speak of in my poem (in the sidebar) when we feel the most confused, the most selfish. It is the time when we really need to be reminded to look to God and trust in His will--to be humble before Him.

Right now I really need this lesson. Some of you may remember the "Treasure Challenge" that I set up for myself this summer. Well, I followed it for the most part, although I know I could have done better, spending less on food, games at the fair, etc. I did also get a book at Borders this summer, although it was mostly part of a gift (long story with that one!).

Anyway, the point is that I know I have a problem with greed, which the "Treasure Challenge" was supposed to help with. I still want to buy more and I keep seeing more that I want. But it isn't just that. My selfishness has extended to impatience, as well. Not only do I want more, but I want it now. And that's a big problem!

From my comments on Goodreads to the thoughts within my mind, I keep desiring the "next" thing--the next book, etc.--and I keep missing out on what I already have. God has so richly blessed me, yet I haven't been content or shown my gratefulness nearly as much as I ought to. God has His own perfect timing for everything, and I know that His will is what I should seek.

Thanks to a post on author Tamera Alexander's blog, I started getting a "Verse of the Day" sent to my e-mail from CLASH entertainment every day. This is one of the recent ones I received, and it really was a verse I needed to read:

The verse is Ecclesiastes 5:10. What a fitting description of greed, and unfortunately, what a fitting description of my own poor attitude. I have had the wonderful opportunity to read so many new books this summer, many of them from blogging friends and publishing companies. I still have a great TBR stack, so why do I have to be thinking of what books will be coming next all the time? I really need to be able to appreciate what I have!

So with that in mind, I hope to have something similar to the "Treasure Challenge" going for the school year, or at least some way to remind myself to stop buying so much! I confess to buying something for myself today, though, since summer is pretty much over. I used an gift card to pay for part of the package: Courting Morrow Little and a DVD copy of North & South. For those of you who follow Laura Frantz' blog, you know why I'm calling this my "Laura Frantz" package. ;) I hope to find much enjoyment and encouragement from these items, but I hope that I will not let myself get carried away with buying more and more.

After reading this I'm sure you can see why I said I have a lot to learn! May the Lord help all of us to use the resources He has given us wisely and to exercise moderation. May the Lord help us to learn the beauty of contentment and the joy of gratefulness. And may the Lord help us to trust in His timing and in His plan, that we might rest in the hope of the coming springtime season of humility.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farewell to Summer

First, congratulations to the winner of her choice of one of Deborah Vogts' novels:

Barb Shelton (barbjan10)!

I used's "List Randomizer" to pick the winner. Thank you to those of you who became new followers, and welcome to "Seasons of Humility!" And thank you to Deborah once again for offering to do a giveaway here for our "End of Summer Bash!"

Barb, be on the lookout for my e-mail! ;)

Now, summer doesn't officially end until late September, but for those of us on school-time we have to say farewell to summer vacation. But what an amazing summer vacation this has been! I don't know about you, but I feel like I've been so blessed this summer, from time spent with my family, to amazing trips, to my summer job, and so much more! God is so good!

I hope your summer vacation was great, as well! And here's to a magnificent fall--yet another season we can share together at "Seasons of Humility!"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of Summer Bash with Tamera Alexander!

Tonight I'm heading over to my grandparents' house, so I'm going to post this interview a little early. =) It is my great pleasure to welcome author Tamera Alexander to "Seasons of Humility!"

Amber: What is your favorite part about late summer?

Tamera: My favorite part about late summer is my screened-in porch. In fact, I'm sitting out here now as I type. My screened-in porch is my late-summer-and-well-into-fall writing haven. With the ceiling fans going, partially frozen Diet Dr. Pepper beside me, laptop open, and Jack (our silky terrier) curled beside me on the couch, it's a perfect setting in which to create.

Amber: Sounds great! If you were planning an “End of Summer” party for your family and friends, how would you envision it? Would you want a beach party, a picnic in the park, a neighborhood barbecue, or something else entirely?

Tamera: I love the beach (we recently returned from Panama City) but since the closest beach is about seven hours away, I'd opt for a backyard barbecue complete with hamburgers for the true carnivores, but I'd also throw on some marinated chicken breasts and veggie kabobs for the lighter diners. Potato Salad would be a must (Tillie Alexander's recipe, of husband's grandmother, God bless her soul), and my mother's recipe for Ranch Style Beans and Hash Brown Casserole (Mom was a fabulous cook too). Add lots of fresh fruit with a side of pineapple-upside-down cake yogurt for dipping, along with a yummy warm Buttermilk Pie, chilled Fresh Coconut Cake, and Ghirardelli Brownies with chopped pecans and smothered in fudge frosting, and we're about there! Blend all that together with family and friends hanging out on the deck (and screened-in porch!), laughing and visiting, fold in a later evening walk down by the lake, and that's my idea of a "End of Summer" party served to perfection!

Amber: Wow! Love all the details. ;) As autumn appears on the horizon, what do you anticipate about this next season the most? Do you have any fall traditions or memories you would like to share?

Tamera: Fall is my favorite time of year so I'm always eager for its arrival, and it never stays long enough for me. Two things I always have close at hand during the fall is a blend of autumn spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves), and I keep a simmering pot warming that fills the house with that wonderful homey scent. I also love to bake Pumpkin Bread and always keep the ingredients for that on hand. Evening walks always feel better come Fall too. Lower humidity (which is always appreciated here in Nashville). And since temperatures are cooler, we don't have to wait so late for those evening strolls.

Amber: Fall is a wonderful time of year, isn't it? Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one is it and why is it your favorite?

Tamera: My "favorite" always seems to be the one I've just finished. Perhaps that's because there were times as I was writing it when I was certain I'd never reach THE END. My latest release, Within My Heart, holds a special place inside me because of my journey during this past year as I wrote it. We lost my mother to cancer last August (2009) and this year has been one of transition. My sweet father has come to live with us, which has been wonderful. Plus we moved homes this past spring to better accommodate the "three of us." Well, the four of us, counting Jack.

I believe the timing of my writing WMH was orchestrated by God, and I know without a doubt that He shaped and re-shaped the fabric of this story so that I would learn some crucial lessons of faith that I needed to learn at this time in my life. Lessons I needed in order to walk the road He set before me and my family. And I’m so grateful that He did.

Amber: What’s next in your writing career? We would love to hear about any upcoming releases!

Tamera: I’m already working on my next series. Historical, of course, except these next six books will take place in my native South, which I love! These books, post-civil war era, are set in Nashville and are rich with historical detail and with characters who truly step off the page, because many of them are based on people who actually lived during that time period. The first book is scheduled for release in fall 2011. We're still working on the title and cover, but you can visit my website for more details.

Amber: I can't wait to read more of your work--it sounds like this new series will be great! Thank you so much for joining us today, Tamera!

Readers, you can find Tamera at lots of different places! Be sure and visit Tamera at one or more of these spots:

Tamera’s website:

Tamera’s blog:

Tamera’s group blog:

Connect on Facebook:

Connect on Twitter:

Contact Tamera:

I'll hopefully be posting a review of Within My Heart next month (after I get it in the mail and read it, that is). I can't wait!

Now, I've been asking all these wonderful authors the same questions this week, so it's your turn! Feel free to answer any or all of the questions, particularly what you're anticipating the most about fall. =) And please also check out my note at the top of the sidebar section. Thank you!

End of Summer Bash with MaryLu Tyndall!

I am so excited to host MaryLu here for our "End of Summer Bash!" I have been completely captivated by all of MaryLu's books that I've read, and if my copy of Surrender the Heart doesn't get here soon, I might just go crazy! ;)

As I'm compiling this post, I'm listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, which has definitely put me in the mood to talk about MaryLu's books. So now it is my great pleasure to welcome author MaryLu Tyndall!

Amber: What is your favorite part about late summer?

MaryLu: Long, lazy, warm days, hikes on the hills behind my house, and BBQ’s with my family and friends.

Amber: If you were planning an “End of Summer” party for your family and friends, how would you envision it? Would you want a beach party, a picnic in the park, a neighborhood barbecue, or something else entirely?

MaryLu: Normally, I’d say a beach party!! But here in Northern California, it would be too cold. Burr. So we usually end up at a park nearby that has a beautiful lake. Everyone brings something to share and while the adults chat and eat, the kids run around, splashing in the waves and being chased by the indigenous geese!

Amber: I know just what you mean about the beaches of Northern California! ;) As autumn appears on the horizon, what do you anticipate about this next season the most? Do you have any fall traditions or memories you would like to share?

MaryLu: We don’t have any particular traditions, but my favorite thing to do when the weather begins to cool is sit by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa and a good book. I love when the air becomes crisp and the leaves start to fall. To me, it’s the coziest time of year, a time for family and good comfort food.

Amber: Sounds good to me! Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one is it and why is it your favorite?

MaryLu: It’s so hard to choose a favorite because with each story, I became so engrossed in the characters, I felt like they were my best friends. If I had to choose one, I’d say my very first novel, The Redemption, because it was the story of my heart. Though it is a story of pirates and adventure and romance, it is also a story about a young lady who is seeking her long lost father—desperate to be loved. Her story mimics my own search for a father’s love, so I know I’ll always feel an odd connection to Charlisse, the heroine. Ultimately, as I did, she found a father’s love in the arms of Christ.

Amber: What’s next in your writing career? We would love to hear about any upcoming releases!

MaryLu: I have a book just released this month called Surrender the Heart. It is the first in a trilogy set in Baltimore during the War of 1812. Each book follows the story of a young lady from Baltimore who somehow, against her will, gets caught up in the war and by divine providence, ends up doing something that changes the course of history. Here’s a blurb on the first book:

On the brink of the War of 1812, Marianne Denton must marry to unlock her inheritance. Without the money, her mother can’t receive medical care and her sister will be destitute. But Noah Brenin needs to sail his cargo to England before the war commences in order to prove his worth to his father and make enough money so he won’t have to marry at all.

But when Noah walks out on their engagement party, Marianne chases him down and ends up on his merchantman out at sea. The situation worsens when Noah’s ship encounters a British man-of-war and the couple are impressed into the British navy.

While a young lad’s prophecy of destiny looms over them both, Marianne and Noah are forced to face their darkest fears as they desperately try to find a way to escape and fulfill their destinies—destinies that could change the course of the war and history forever.

Amber: Oh, I'm just so excited to read this! Sounds thrilling! Thank you so much for joining us today, MaryLu!

MaryLu has a poll being conducted in the sidebar of her blog to find out which of her books are the readers' favorites. So I'm curious to find out from ya'll . . . for those of you who have read MaryLu's books, which one is your favorite? (That is, if you can pick just one!)

I think I might have to go with The Redemption, because it's the first one that I read by MaryLu and I remember the excitement and adventure that drew me in to the wonderful story! And not only that, but MaryLu offered encouragement for my faith in Christ within the pages, and I've loved that about all of her books. Her stories satisfy on so many levels! I can see why this first one, though, in particular, would be (as MaryLu put it) "the story of [her] heart."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

End of Summer Bash with T.L. Higley!

I am thrilled to host author T.L. Higley here at "Seasons of Humility" today! Tracy's "Seven Wonders" books are fascinating, and she has a new book coming out this fall! You can find out more about Tracy at her website.

Welcome, Tracy!

Amber: What is your favorite part about late summer?

Tracy: I love the perfect weather in late summer, in my part of the country (the Northeast). Perfect for sunset walks, for sitting on the deck, with just a hint of coolness.

Amber: If you were planning an “End of Summer” party for your family and friends, how would you envision it? Would you want a beach party, a picnic in the park, a neighborhood barbecue, or something else entirely?

Tracy: I’d love something adventurous! Maybe a scavenger hunt, or hiking in the woods, with a big campfire in the evening. Lots of s’mores, of course!

Amber: Yum! =) Sounds good to me! As autumn appears on the horizon, what do you anticipate about this next season the most? Do you have any fall traditions or memories you would like to share?

Tracy: I absolutely love the colors of fall. I tend to dress in warm autumn colors, and my home décor is all burgundies and chocolate browns and golds. So when the fall actually arrives, it feels like home to me!

Amber: Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one is it and why is it your favorite?

Tracy: Tough question! That’s like asking which of my kids is my favorite. I like them all, for different reasons! I’d have to say that my favorite characters thus far are in Guardian of the Flame, including Cleopatra and Julius Caesar!

Amber: I loved the characters in that story, too. =) What’s next in your writing career? We would love to hear about any upcoming releases!

Well, Petra: City in Stone releases in a couple of weeks, followed by Pompeii: City on Fire next year. I’m very excited about both of these books. If you’ve seen the third Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade, you’ll recognize Petra – it’s a city built into stone in the middle of the desert, and a great setting for a historical suspense novel!

Amber: I am so excited for this new series! Thank you so much for joining the celebration!

Tracy: You’re welcome! Thanks for including me!

Now, readers, as many of you know Ashley from After All....... Tomorrow is Another Day is having a countdown party anticipating the release of A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman. (Be sure and click on the picture link in the sidebar and enter her fabulous giveaway!) Anyway, we've been discussing which books we've really anticipated (or are still anticipating) this year. I have to tell you, Petra: City in Stone is up near the top of the list for me! I can't wait to read it!

So, in addition to leaving a comment for Tracy, does anybody want to share about the books coming out this fall that you're looking forward to reading? With the release of so many wonderful books this next season, we have quite a lot to look forward to!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

End of Summer Bash with Robin Lee Hatcher!

We're continuing the Bash with author Robin Lee Hatcher! You can find Robin at her website and at her blog.

So glad you could join us today, Robin!

Amber: What is your favorite part about late summer?

Robin: The wonderful part about living in the NW is that the nights cool off about 30 degrees from the day time highs. Beginning in late August, there is a particular "scent" in the early evening air as temps fall that tells my brain Indian summer is nearly upon me with autumn soon to follow. It makes me think of August evenings at the Western Idaho Fair, of cotton candy and carmel apples and carnival lights.

Amber: Yay for the fair! ;) If you were planning an “End of Summer” party for your family and friends, how would you envision it? Would you want a beach party, a picnic in the park, a neighborhood barbecue, or something else entirely?

Robin: On a hot Saturday afternoon, I would float the Boise River in inner tubes and rafts, ending at Ann Morrison Park where we would have a picnic and play croquet and/or volleyball.

Amber: As autumn appears on the horizon, what do you anticipate about this next season the most? Do you have any fall traditions or memories you would like to share?

Robin: Boise is The City of Trees, and there is nothing I love so much as the changing of leaves in late September and early October. I revel in the fiery reds and bright yellows as I drive to church on Sunday mornings.

Amber: Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one is it and why is it your favorite?

Robin: Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite child. I just can't do it. Each book was written because there was a story I wanted to tell at that point in time. However, I do have a few favorite characters: Cleo and Sherwood from Fit To Be Tied; Miriam from Ribbon of Years; and Katie from Catching Katie.

Amber: What’s next in your writing career? We would love to hear about any upcoming releases!

Robin: I'm currently at work on my next historical romance. Title is still subject to change so I won't mention it. Readers can look for a new series and a stand-alone historical beginning in 2011 and after. Plus Zondervan will be reissuing some of my older, out of print titles, and I'm delighted that these earlier books will get a breath of new life. I don't know release dates yet or I would share those with you.

Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today, Robin, and for helping us celebrate the transitioning seasons!

Would you like a chance to win the second book in Robin's "The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs" series? I have a gently used copy of Fit to Be Tied that I'm going to offer to the first person who correctly answers all five of the following questions:

1. What was my birthday party theme?

2. What two books did we discuss in June?

3. Where was I traveling to when I posted from an airplane in July?

4. Which Food Network star showed up at the Humboldt County Fair this year (my home county's fair)?

5. What summer post/themed week did you enjoy the most?

With the exception of the last question, which is simply asking for your opinion, the answers to the other questions can be found in this blog's archives for the summer months (June, July, and August).

Again, the first person to correctly answer all 5 questions in the comment section below wins Fit to Be Tied! However, please note that you must leave your e-mail address in the comment section and you must have a U.S. mailing address. Good luck!

Also, I'd love to hear anyone's and everyone's answer to the fifth question, whether or not you are the first one to comment. And be sure to leave a comment for Robin, too!

Monday, August 23, 2010

End of Summer Bash with Deborah Vogts!

Please join me in welcoming author Deborah Vogts to "Seasons of Humility!"

Deborah is quite familiar with seasons, as her first two books are part of "The Seasons of the Tallgrass Series," so she should fit right in here. ;) And one of you will have the opportunity to win one of these books! (Read through the rest of this post to find out how!)

Amber: What is your favorite part about late summer?

Deborah: My favorite part is actually getting my girls ready to go back to school. I know...that sounds terrible, but there is something to be said for routine and quiet. LOL. And because August tends to be very hot here in Kansas, another favorite part is looking forward to the cooler weather offered in September & October. Autumn is my favorite season!

Amber: Well, then, you must be very excited right about now as autumn heads our way! ;) If you were planning an “End of Summer” party for your family and friends, how would you envision it? Would you want a beach party, a picnic in the park, a neighborhood barbecue, or something else entirely?

Deborah: How about a Sunday evening barbecue and weiner roast? Cover the picnic tables with tableclothes and invite family and friends. Everyone bring a dish, and the hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided. We'll have plenty of shade, some iced tea and lemonade, a campfire for roasting marshmallows and gazing at the starry sky. And we'll top it off with some good ol' guitar
strumming and singing.

Amber: Sounds wonderful! As autumn appears on the horizon, what do you anticipate about this next season the most? Do you have any fall traditions or memories you would like to share?

Deborah: Yes, my birthday is in the fall (September), so that was always a fun time growing up. Not sure if it's that fun anymore . . . but my hubby usually takes me out for supper, which is nice.

As I mentioned before, my favorite season is Autumn. I love the cooler weather, the changing colors in the trees and grass, and even the shorter days. Being a part of the ranching/farming industry means that our summers are full of work--often until dark, so I enjoy having the family together in the fall for early suppers.

Amber: Of the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one is it and why is it your favorite?

Deborah: Hmmm. I've enjoyed each of my books, but I might have to go with my first one, Snow Melts in Spring. Maybe because I spent so much time on this initial book, or maybe it's because it is the one that claimed that initial response from my agent and editor.

Amber: What’s next in your writing career? We would love to hear about any upcoming releases!

Deborah: Blades of Autumn, Book #3 in the Seasons of the Tallgrass series is set to release next summer 2011. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with for a book cover on this one, and then on to the editing process. After that I'm praying for another contract . . . we'll see what happens.

Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today, Deborah! May God bless you in your writing career!

If you would like a chance to win your choice of either of Deborah's books (Snow Melts in Spring or her latest release, Seeds of Summer), here's how you can enter:

*Leave a comment saying you would like to be entered! (You must leave your valid e-mail address or you will not be entered. Also, this drawing is for U.S. residents only.)

*One extra entry: Be a follower of this blog.

*One extra entry: Be a follower of Deborah's blog.

The drawing will be open through 11:59 PM (PDT), Thursday, August 26. A winner will be announced on Friday, August 27.

Thank you, Deborah, for offering to give away one of your books!

My Review of Rain Song

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

"His words have unlocked a special place in her heart, but he lives in the one place she vowed she'd never return...

Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan. Something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone. Something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney.

Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy website, Nicole meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart.

Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does! Will Nicole face her fears in order to discover her past and take a chance on love?"

My Rating: Summer

My Review:

Profound. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of what I just finished reading. The book is beautiful in its simplicity--the message as clear as rain and yet, somehow, as blurred as rain on glass. I think this is due to the fact that there is so much to relate to and so much to learn from Nicole's struggles, while at the same time it is overwhelming to try and consider all that transpires within the pages.

The quote at the beginning of the book from Helen Keller is just right for this story: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." What a powerful statement! The main character seems to be trying to come to grips with this idea throughout most of the novel. In the beginning, the story almost feels like a rainy afternoon. The first person point of view is interesting and different, and it took some getting used to. But eventually the sun begins to light the drenched world the reader is introduced to, slowly. And I found myself enchanted with all of the characters and all of the possibilities.

The life in this book is authentic. Nicole's nervous habits, her time spent on the computer, her relationship with her grandmother...all of it in some way rang true for me. The romance was gently sifted in mainly through written correspondence, and yet I still felt its pull.

This book is a journey--compiled steps of growth--that comes together to utter satisfaction. So many lines touched me that I'm sad to think I might forget them. Here is one from page 215, when a pastor is praying for one of the character's healing:

"I suppose God knows how much she means to each of us in this room, but I also supposed appreciation for His creation is something He never tires of hearing."

Again, I will repeat that I think this book is quite profound. I can only hope that at least some of what I read will stay with me for a long time to come, and that I can take the story's message to heart.

*With thanks to Julia Reffner from the Dark Glass Ponderings blog for my copy of this book, which I won in a giveaway.*

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Winners at the County Fair!

What a fun week this has been celebrating the county fair! Thank you all so much for your comments and contest entries--your participation made this a great week all around!

The first winner I'll announce is the givewaway winner for Made to Order Family. And the winner is . . .


I used Random.Org's List Randomizer to pick the winner. Congratulations, Bluerose! Be looking for my e-mail!

Now, for The County Fair Contest winners. Yes, winners (plural)! Both official entries were so good that I want to give them both something for their heart-warming scenes.

The prize package goes to Michelle, for her scene at the Ferris wheel! Michelle will be receiving Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado, A Name of Her Own, a bag of kettle corn, a purple stuffed monkey, and a personalized bookmark from Ashley! Congratulations!

And Ariel will be receiving my copy of Love's Long Journey by Janette Oke! (If you already have this book, let me know, Ariel, and I'll send you a different one!)

Thank you both for your great entries, and I hope it's alright if I share them again below so everyone can enjoy them! And thank you, also, to all of you who left such kind and encouraging comments. They were much appreciated!

Here's Michelle's scene:

She stared up at the ferris wheel. Never in a million years, had she believed she'd be here again. Back in her hometown, at the county fair. The city, and all of its problems and worries, seemed a million miles away. But there she was, back in Justice, and who was standing next to her? Her high school sweetheart.

“Penny for your thoughts?” She heard a soft voice say in her ear. She glanced up, meeting the blue eyes of Donovan Carter. They'd been inseperable in high school. The cowboy and the valedictorian. They had been a bit of an odd couple.

Rachel laughed softly. “Are you certain they are worth that much?”

“I would say your thoughts are worth considerably more than a penny, Rachel.”

She blushed, looking down, perhaps feeling just a little embarrassed. But this was Donovan, who had always cheered her on, no matter what. The one person who had helped her believe anything was possible. She hadn't realized how much she'd missed that. How much she'd missed him in the last fifteen years.

“Being back here, it seems very strange.” She said softly. “Honestly, I'm not certain I ever imagined I would be back.”

He looked straight into her eyes. “Fifteen years ago, you left to chase your dreams. I don't believe there was a person, in this town, who wasn't proud of you when you won that scholarship to Yale. But it is very good to have you home.”

She took his hand, as they stepped onto the platform. “It's good to be home.” She said softly. As they set down in the car, she couldn't help but wonder what, if anything, would happen when they reached the top.

And here's Ariel's scene:

Yeesha walked alone and lost through the hustle and bustle of the booths and barns of her county fair. She didn’t come alone; she came with her best friend Lily and her best friend’s boyfriend Curtis. Those two did everything together, and not having a boyfriend or anyone that liked her made Yeesha lonely. She had slipped away while they weren’t looking and began exploring on her own.

Unfortunately for her, Yeesha had never been to the county fair before and didn’t know her way around the grounds. She passed tons of people, all laughing and smiling and having a great time, while she just wanted to leave. Suddenly she heard her name.


She expected it to be Lily calling her back, so she turned slowly. To her surprise, it was David! David and Yeesha had a small history: He had asked her to her senior prom, and at the time it was obvious they both liked each other. However, nothing had happened beyond that. Seeing him now brought a flood of thoughts and emotions back, and Yeesha stood there shocked as he ran up.

“Yeesha! I haven’t seen you in a while. What are you doing here, and all alone?”

She smiled slightly and explained the whole situation. As they walked, they caught up on everything that had happened in each other’s lives. After a while Yeesha realized she still had feelings for David. Was it possible he still had feelings for her?

Eventually they found themselves in the pig barn. Yeesha wrinkled her nose.

“Yuck, they don’t smell so great!”

David smiled. “They are very smart though! You should pet one!”

“Pet one?! Why on earth would I want to do that?” Yeesha cried.

“What are you chicken? “ David teased.

Pouting, Yeesha gave in. “Oh, alright.” Gingerly she reached through the bars and patted one curious pig on his nose. Surprised, the pig pushed her back and she fell right into David’s arms!

As she looked up at him, it was as if the rest of the world had melted away. Right there, she knew he felt the same way. As he leaned to give her a kiss, the pig snorted rather loudly and rammed the bars. Laughing, David picked her up and gave her a real kiss.

“I really missed you, Yeesha.”

Smiling, Yeesha realized she was glad to have come to the fair. While it started terribly, it had ended with her dreams realized by the help of a very noisy pig. Who would have thought?

Please be sure and leave some encouraging comments for these ladies! Great job, Michelle and Ariel! (And thank you to my parents for looking over both of the scenes, too!)

Have a wonderful weekend ya'll, and be sure to tune in next week for the "End of Summer Bash," starring some of your favorite authors! Can't wait to see you there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Day at the Fair

Original title, I know. ;) Doesn't it sound like I'm writing a report for a third-grade class? But I hope you don't mind joining me anyway on my fabulous day at the Humboldt County Fair!

My dear friend, Elena, joined my mom, sister, and me for a fun afternoon and evening at the fair. The first task on our list was to see how our various entries fared. My mom and I got second place stickers on our poems, and my sister got second and third place stickers on her artwork and photograph, I believe (as well as some stickers for several poems). But what really excited us was the special award ribbon my sister received for one of her poems! How exciting! Of course, my sister was especially excited about the $35 cash award that came along with it. ;)

Next on our task list was finding a bunny. Yes, my sister is getting a bunny for her 13th birthday! We'll be picking up the bunny from the fair on Sunday, my sister's actual birthday. The picture on the right is of our new (most likely) soon-to-be member of the family: Candy. (My sister chose the name.) Isn't she sweet? She's a Holland Lop, if I'm not mistaken. My sister is quite delighted, which is no surprise!

Following the two activities above, we all got caricatures of ourselves (me with Elena, and my mom with my sister). The man who drew them was really nice, and we had fun chatting with him while he worked!

The rest of the time was a blur of food, rides, food, games, and (did I mention this already?) food! ;) Elena and I shared a funnel cake covered in powder sugar early on. After all the talk on this blog about funnel cakes, how could I not get one? And believe me, it was GOOD! Dinner for me consisted of a "beef stick" and curly fries, topped off with a frozen peach lemonade. And for dessert: cotton candy! Oh, yes, I was stuffing my face with great pleasure, and I loved every bite! Yum, yum, yum!

And the rides? Oh, so much fun! Elena and I felt like little girls again, running around like crazy, shouting with glee, and taking in the thrill of it all! The picture to the left is of the three of us (my sister, Elena, and me) on one of my favorite rides: the Yo Yo. I loved spreading my arms out wide and feeling the rush of the wind. It made me think of standing on the bow of a ship, like on Titanic. I loved that sense of adventure and excitement as I was flying through the air on a swing!

This next picture is not flattering in the least (with my eyes all squinted like that!), but I decided to share it with you because I think it gives you a glimpse of how much fun we were having. The bumper cars were great, and between that and the other rides, I was laughing a ton!

There's nothing quite like a day at the fair when you're with those you love. We had such a fantastic time, and I'm so thankful for my mom, my sister, and Elena. God blessed me so much by letting us be a part of each other's lives!

It has been so much fun celebrating the county fair with all of you this week, and I'm so thankful for your friendship! I hope this post might have brought a smile to your face, and I hope it might serve to remind us all of the blessing we have in our family and friends! How great it is to be able to reach out to one another--even simply making each other laugh!

On a side note, as I'm writing this, I can smell the kettle corn that I purchased today. Yes, as an encouragement to any possible last-minute contest entrants, I picked up a bag of kettle corn to include in the prize package. I'm also adding a cute, purple stuffed monkey I got at one of the games to the deal! Thank you to all those who have already entered! =) Be sure and check out the comments section of the contest post to read the latest entries!

(Thank you, Mom, for the pictures and for the great memories at the fair this year!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

At the Fair with Ariel

Please join me in welcoming Ariel from The French Poet! She's going to tell us more about her experience at the county fair.

Amber: What is your favorite part about the fair?

Ariel: My favorite part about the fair would have to be just seeing all the animals and other exhibits. I loved seeing how creative other people could be! It also gave me ideas of things I could do for next year.

Amber: Do you have a favorite fair food (ie: popcorn, cotton candy, curly fries)?

Ariel: Oh, I cannot pick just one! I love junk food, so I ate almost anything. :P I ate hotdogs, curly fries, cotton candy, snow cones and ice cream. Oh and funnel cake! I don't even want to know how many calories I eat during fair! :P

Amber: Funnel cake seems to be really popular with ya'll! ;) What kind of ride do you enjoy the most, and what do you think that says about your personality? (For example, if your favorite ride was the Ferris wheel it might say that you're daring and you like seeing the big picture from a higher perspective. This is just for fun, so anything goes!)

Ariel: I loved the Sizzler because it squishes you close to whoever you're sitting with. I love being close to be people and snuggling so I never found it awkward. Some of my friends on the other hand... ;)

Amber: Any fun fair memories you want to share?

Ariel: The year I got Grand Champion Rabbit Showman and Reserve Champion Small Animal Showman! I know most people can't relate, but the feeling you get when you find out you won and all your hard work paid off is amazing. And my mom cried, which is a rare occasion. ;) Gotta love the support!

Amber: That's great! Can you think of any movies or books set at a fair that you would recommend for us to check out?

Ariel: Well this isn't technically at a fair, but the movie Grease is great when they have that closing carnival and are singing in all the rides; I love to sing along. And I just love the atmosphere!

Thanks for having me as a guest, Amber! :)

Amber: Thank you for joining us, Ariel! It was fun hearing about your adventures!

Side Note: My mom and I had lunch today with one of my good friends and her mom, and they both live in Ferndale. So they went to see Guy Fieri on opening day at the Humboldt County Fair! My friend's mom said that he was really nice, and that he had a group of bodyguard-type people around him called the "Knuckle Sandwich Brigade," or something like that. ;) Apparently he was really kind to everyone. *sigh* Would have been nice to meet him, but at least it's fun to hear more about him!

(Picture is from Guy Fieri's website.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

At the Fair with Ruth Logan Herne

Today we're going to visit the fair with none other than author Ruth Logan Herne! For those of you who aren't familiar with this author, you can find her at her website or her blog. Also, one of my favorite places to chat with her is at the Seekerville blog. Ya'll are in for a treat today!

Amber: What is your favorite part about the fair?

Ruth: I love the animals. I can moo like a cow, cackle like a hen and crow like a rooster. I love to see who's cross-bred what, to check out new breeds to our area, to see the 4-H projects. I love the county fair for just that reason, the animals/farm essence of the whole thing. It's great. Totally bucolic and country. A few country rock guys that know how to play a mean guitar or fiddle just add to the fun!

Amber: Do you have a favorite fair food (ie: popcorn, cotton candy, curly fries)?

Ruth: Funnel cakes. Awesome. And Cheesy fries. A heart attack waiting to happen.

Amber: What kind of ride do you enjoy the most, and what do you think that says about your personality? (For example, if your favorite ride was the Ferris wheel it might say that you're daring and you like seeing the big picture from a higher perspective. This is just for fun, so anything goes!)

Ruth: The Merry go Round with my husband at the Fair. At an amusement park? The biggest, baddest, fastest roller coasters they make.

Not with hubby, he'd rather watch.

Not me!

Amber: Any fun fair memories you want to share?

Ruth: Kissing behind the chicken barn.

Amber: You're not going to elaborate on that? ;) Anyway, can you think of any movies or books set at a fair that you would recommend for us to check out?

Ruth: There's a great fair chapter in Understood Betsy one of my favorite childhood books. It's a great book about coming of age and growing up and seeing the world through changing eyes, and I just love it to pieces. It affected my outlook on life and the way I raised my kids. That's some book!

Amber: Could you tell us what books of yours are available? Maybe a short description of each would be nice... ;) And, of course, we would love to hear about any upcoming releases, as well!

Ruth: My debut novel, Winter's End, is still available on Amazon. It's an amazing book that's got a lot of people talking because it touches hearts in ways you don't often find in a romance novel. Marc and Kayla are two people who cannot be together for a number of reasons, and they know it. Still, they yearn. And with the gentle power of God's love and patience, the Holy Spirit is able to apply slaps upside the head at just enough velocity to bring two stubborn hearts and heads around.

Waiting Out the Storm is actually the FIRST novel in the series, but it was published second because my editors at Steeple Hill loved Winter's End and wanted to get it out there, in people's hands. What a lovely compliment that was. And if you love county fairs, farm folk, totally hot country vets, and farm girls that do not need a man to help tend the farm, but like to have one around anyway, then this is a book you'll cherish. Great story, great setting, the North Country of New York State, rugged and cold, bordering our Canadian friends. Long winters. Short summers.

Due out in two weeks is the second book in the series, Made to Order Family, a great story of forging a family out of the ashes, of rebuilding lives, hopes and dreams with enough humor (and a DOG) that you just want to sit down and have supper with this family. And the dog, of course! All of them are available at, Barnes and, and Made to Order Family will be in WalMarts, big grocery stores, book stores, etc., anywhere where Harlequin books are sold.

And (bragging here!) all three books have been given the coveted 4 1/2 STAR review from Romantic Times Magazine. I'm so grateful for that, what a lovely pat on the back that is!And Winter's End was named a BEST BEACH READ by Woman's World magazine in July.


Amber: Congrats on all those accolades! I really need to read your books now! Thanks so much for joining us, Ruthy!

Now, readers, I sort of coerced Ruth into giving away a book today. ;) Here's how I asked: "And, if you wanted to...say...give away one of your books on my blog, I wouldn't hate you for it or nothin'. ;) Completely up to you!"

Yes, I was bad. BUT, Ruth went along with it anyway! Here's what she said in response: "Yes, give away a copy of Made to Order Family, okay? It's the new one about to come out. If you need anything else, let me know, kiddo." Isn't Ruth great? =)

So leave a comment for Ruth along with your e-mail address to enter for a chance to win Made to Order Family! Giveaway ends 11:59 PM West Coast time on Friday, August 20. ;) Winner will be announced on Saturday, August 21.

Monday, August 16, 2010

At the Fair with Julia

Please help me welcome my dear blogging friend, Julia from Dark Glass Ponderings! Come join us on a trip to the fair!

Amber: What is your favorite part about the fair?

Julia: I haven't been to the state fair since I was a child, so this is fun to think about. I am a total nerd and I always thought the invention exhibits were fun. I thought it was neat to see the new innovations. And I also love fair food because those are foods I don't eat throughout the year.

Amber: Do you have a favorite fair food (ie: popcorn, cotton candy, curly fries)?

Julia: Oh, definitely my favorite fair food is fried dough. I love it hot as the powdered sugar "splashes" my chin. And I love fresh squeezed lemonade.

Amber: What kind of ride do you enjoy the most, and what do you think that says about your personality? (For example, if your favorite ride was the Ferris wheel it might say that you're daring and you like seeing the big picture from a higher perspective. This is just for fun, so anything goes!)

Julia: Hmmm...I still love the carousel and love taking my kids on it. We have a beautiful historical carousel in our city. I am definitely a traditional person and I have always had a love for beautiful things. I'm a bit of a dreamer, I guess that's why I love to write.

Amber: Any fun fair memories you want to share?

Julia: The first time my mom took me on the Ferris wheel, there was a malfunction and we ended up stuck near the top for nearly an hour. My mom hasn't been on one since, but I don't think it phased me too much.

Amber: Can you think of any movies or books set at a fair that you would recommend for us to check out?

Julia: I can't think of any books. But I can think of two great movies set at fairs. Meet Me in St. Louis and State Fair are both great musicals. I love old musicals. Carousel is also a wonderful musical where the hero works at a carnival. I know Carol Cox has Christian fiction set at a fair, but I haven't read it.

I would have loved to have attended the Chicago's World Fair or Prince Albert's Exhibition in 1851. I think those would have been two of the coolest events ever!

Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today, Julia! I'm sure in the mood for some fair fun now! =)

(The picture above is the poster from my school's production of State Fair last fall, which I participated in. Lots of work, for sure, but also lots of fun!)

The County Fair Week Contest!

Welcome one and all to County Fair Week here at "Seasons of Humility!" I'm so excited for all this week has in store, and I hope you are, too!

As many of you know, county fairs are filled with contests--with quilts, livestock, poetry, and so much more being judged. So in honor of County Fair Week, I'm going to host a fun contest for all you writers out there! Before I get into the rules, let me tell you about the prize package:

The winner will receive my gently used copies of Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado and A Name of Her Own, along with some fair goodies I'm hoping to pick up at my own county fair this week. =) Here are the descriptions of the two books:

From Summerside Press: "Can one woman's tragedy turn into happily ever after? Claire Caspian is a first-rate professor, teaching even the most cynical student to find beauty in literature. But with her own personal story, she isn’t as successful. Having recently lost her husband, Claire returns with her young son to the tiny desert town of Romeo, Colorado, where she grew up. There she settles in with her feisty old Abuelita, the richest woman in the county, and attempts to rebuild her life. But love comes searching for Claire in the form of attractive local doctor Stephen Reyes. Will another tragedy prevent her from accepting love the second time around? Or will she embrace her new Romeo and finally find a happy ending?"

From WaterBrook Multnomah: "Based on the life of Marie Dorion, the first mother to cross the Rocky Mountains and remain in the Northwest, A Name of Her Own is the fictionalized adventure account of a real woman’s fight to settle in a new landscape, survive in a nation at war, protect her sons and raise them well and, despite an abusive, alcoholic husband, keep her marriage together.

With two rambunctious young sons to raise, Marie Dorion refuses to be left behind in St. Louis when her husband heads West with the Wilson Hunt Astoria expedition of 1811. Faced with hostile landscapes, an untried expedition leader, and her volatile husband, Marie finds that the daring act she hoped would bind her family together may in the end tear them apart.

On the journey, Marie meets up with the famous Lewis and Clark interpreter, Sacagawea. Both are Indian women married to mixed-blood men of French Canadian and Indian descent, both are pregnant, both traveled with expeditions led by white men, and both are raising sons in a white world.

Together, the women forge a friendship that will strengthen and uphold Marie long after they part, even as she faces the greatest crisis of her life, and as she fights for her family’s very survival with the courage and gritty determination that can only be fueled by a mother’s love."

Also, Ashley from After All....... Tomorrow is Another Day has offered to give away a personalized, homemade bookmark like the one pictured left to the winner! (And if she enters and wins, then the bookmark will go to the second place winner!) ;)

So what do you need to do to enter this contest? Here are the rules:
  • Write a clean and appropriate romantic scene that involves some fair attraction, such as a ride or contest of some sort.
  • Please keep the scene under 300 words if possible. I will still consider longer entries, but it would probably be easier on Blogger if we could keep the entries short and sweet. ;)
  • Leave your e-mail address in your comment along with your entry, so I have a way to contact you if you win!
  • If Blogger will not let you leave a long comment or if you would like me to check your scene's content to see if it works for this contest, feel free to e-mail your entry to me at: stokes[dot]a[at]suddenlink[dot]net.
  • Entries will be accepted through Friday, August 20. The winner will be announced on Saturday, August 21.
  • You must have a U.S. mailing address. (I apologize to any of my friends from other countries; this is due to higher costs. But feel free to share a scene with us anyway if you'd like!)
  • Entries will be judged by me and one or two other people of my choosing.
Thank you to Tina from Seekerville for letting me "borrow" her contest idea! A couple of weeks ago they had a similar contest for "Slacker Tuesday," and Tina gave me permission to use a similar idea.

And I told you last week that I would give you my own example. I used the same characters from my entry for the "Slacker Tuesday" contest, so feel free to click HERE and read my entry for that contest in the comments section, if you're interested. Now, here's my example:

“What do you see?”

Looking into the multiple mirrors around her, all Christine saw were accusations and disappointment. Why did they call this place a “fun house”? Her dreams of being published were as unreal as the image she had seen in that wavy mirror a ways back.

“Would you like me to tell you what I see?”

She nodded. Let Rich try to put into words what she couldn’t bring herself to say.
“I see a girl who doubts God.”

The images in the mirrors blurred, and Christine whirled around to face him. “What on earth do you mean?”

“I mean that you’re so worried about getting published that you’ve forgotten it’s all in God’s hands. If it’s His will, it will happen. If not, then maybe He’s just using this time to prepare you for something else that will be even better for you in the end. Why are you so worried, Christine?”

A tear fell, but Christine didn’t look up. She didn’t want to see the rainstorm brewing around her in her reflections.
Rich placed both of his hands gently on her face, forcing her gaze to him. A rush of warmth shocked her. Those blue eyes…

Suddenly, a bunch of giggling kids ran past, practically thudding into the mirrors as they searched for the way out. Rich and Christine parted, glanced at each other, and laughed.

“Come with me?” Rich offered his hand, and Christine took it. Slowly, he guided her through the mirrors and out into the painful but beautiful light of daytime at the fair.

According to Microsoft Word, my example is 261 words long, and the scene takes place at a "fun house" (or "house of mirrors") at a fair. Hope you enjoyed the scene!

Now it's your turn! I can't wait to read your entries! And remember to tune in every day this week for some fun interviews and fair stories. (It's quite possible there will be a separate giveaway going on this week sometime, so this is my hint that you should keep checking in on a regular basis!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lost in Thought

I'm hoping the picture of me above gives the impression of being lost in thought. Maybe it will also give the impression that I could use some extra thinkers today--because I need your help!

A recent poll showed that out of the 4 people who voted, 2 were "mostly" enjoying the new weekly schedule, and 2 were "very much" enjoying the new weekly schedule. What I would like to know is:
  • What parts of the new weekly schedule do you most like? (See sidebar for an overview of the schedule.)
  • What parts do you not like as much?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
The funny thing is, I get so caught up in putting things together and planning for the future that I forget that some of the best posts and ideas come spontaneously. Those serendipitous moments can be wonderful, and I want to be sure and leave room for those. In fact, I had a moment like that last night, and I would be delighted if you would take the time to read my last post, "Touched by an Epitaph."

But do you still like the idea of having some sort of schedule in between themed weeks? I would appreciate any and all feedback on my blog! Thank you for sticking by me!

Touched by an Epitaph

While watching an episode of Bonanza this past evening with my family, I was already in a rather melancholy and thoughtful mood. In this particular episode, Ben Cartwright was his usual self: willing and able to get things done. Except, this time, perhaps he was too careless, too rushed. A good man, who was both a father and grandpa, was killed in an accident that Ben blamed himself for.

Before the accident, the man had seen how absorbed Ben was in his work. And he told Ben that if he didn't stop to really appreciate his life more, he would end up in a grave with an epitaph that would read:

"Here lies a man who let the joy of living wait--he waited too long, and now it's too late."

I let those words remain in my mind for a short time, then I got up and went to the kitchen to write them down. I thought they were very profound, and I thought they did a wonderful job of reminding the viewers of the preciousness of life . . . how it shouldn't be wasted. And then I watched the rest of the episode.

The daughter of the man who died, who had also lost her husband and was left alone with a son, was prompted by Hoss to talk to Ben. He had become listless, filled with guilt and unwilling to work anymore. The woman reminded Ben that the accident was not his fault--that he needed to really live for his sons. And one of Ben's "rivals" even told him that he couldn't change who he was: a man who fought for what he believed in and who worked hard without giving up. So Ben got back on his feet again and gained a new vigor for life.

So was the epitaph the man had made up before untrue, unnecessary? I don't think so. His daughter had referred to him as a "dreamer," while Ben was a "doer." But I think in the end Ben received a new awareness of the joy of life--his life. Whereas before the accident he hadn't really seemed to think about it, after the accident he learned more about himself and the passions that were his own.

I've been to Virginia City, made famous by the actual Bonanza and the T.V. show Bonanza, several times now. At the entrance to the Silver Terrace Cemetery in Virginia City is a sign which says,

"Stop and read as you pass by,
As you are now, once was I,
As I am now, you will be,
Prepare for death and follow me."

While a bit chilling, these words are an important reminder. Life is so short, and the "valley of the shadow of death" is not as far from us as we'd like to think. As believers, we have nothing to worry about, because God will walk with us and bring us safely home. But let us take the reminder to heart. Let us not wait for "the joy of living." Rather, let us seek God's will and discover the passions He has given us. May He guide us so that we might put the passions and talents He has given us to good use.

My dear friends, as we realize yet again how short this life really is, may we be inspired to truly live for God.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Anticipating the Fair

Yes, it's almost that time! This year is the 114th year of the Humboldt County Fair, which takes place in Ferndale, California. I'm looking forward to the rides, the food, and the fun with my family and friends! Fairs have an atmosphere all their own, and I especially love the time in the evening when all the rides are lit up and the place seems almost magical.

I'm a little disappointed that I won't be going to the fair on opening day (tomorrow, August 12), because Guy Fieri from Food Network (who is from Ferndale and who hosts Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) is going to be there!!! But, I'm going to a dear friend's birthday party, so I'm happy! Plus, I'll be going to the fair next week, so I won't be missing out on that!

Now, how many of you are planning on going to a county fair before the summer is over?

If you can't make it to any fair in your area (or even if you can!), I hope you'll be sure and join me next week for "County Fair Week." There will be several interviews, stories from my own experience at the fair this year, and a special contest. Well, it wouldn't be a fair without some sort of competition, right? ;)

This contest will be similar to the one hosted on Seekerville on "Slacker Tuesday" last week. Except, in this case, you will be required to write a romantic scene involving some attraction from the fair, such as a ride on the midway or a competition of some sort (and the word count will be a bit longer--300 instead of 150). On Monday, August 16, the contest will be open for entries, and I'll be giving my own example, as well!

I'll wait to let you know more about the prize, but let's just say that it will include at least two books . . . and I'm hoping that the prize package will make you want to participate! ;) So start thinking and writing in the next few days, because it's your participation that will make the contest fun!

Remember, "County Fair Week" kicks off Monday, August 16, and will go through August 21. Hope to see you there!!!

*With thanks to Tina Radcliffe from Seekerville for letting me borrow her idea for the contest!*