Saturday, August 20, 2011

Community Love: Winners and a Blog Award!

We had four wonderful entries in this week's community contest - all so diverse and unique! Celebrity judge Laura Frantz had this to say about them:

"I am a terrible judge as I just LOVE them all!!"

Want to know what she means? Well, with the entrants' permission, I get to share them here with you so you can feel all the community love yourselves! So before I announce any winners, here are the four entries in no particular order:

Photograph Entry:

Submitted by Ariel from The Librarian's Bookshelf

Essay Entry:

Nerves coil in my belly and I take a shuddering breath. Is this really happening?
My knees turn to jelly and my hands quake in shuddering spasms. I slowly dial the numbers, for-certain sure this truly cannot be happening to me. I’m dreaming. It’s a mistake. She called the wrong number.
But she did say my name.
Good news.
It’s about my writing.
And it’s Susan May Warren on the other end of my answering machine.
“Hello, Warren Residence.”
“Susie?” My voice doesn’t sound like my own. It’s detached, distant and no amount of gulping is bring it back under control.
“This is she.”
“Hiii…This is Casey.”
“Casey! I’ve got good news for you! You’ve finaled in the My Book Therapy Frasier contest!”
Something within me breaks and the back of my eyes burn and threaten to leak. “Are you sure?” This can’t be true.
But it is. It is.
It. Is.
I hang up the phone a breath-taking five minutes later, I have to run out the door for my sister’s piano lesson is less than twenty minutes, but I instantly dial the number for my mom’s work.
I’m breathless as if I’ve run a marathon, grasping for air as though my throat doesn’t know how to work.
“Mama!” I squeal the news as best I can into her ear and I have to repeat myself several times over before it sinks into both of us.
I call my dad and the story repeats itself. All the time, the news is pounding in my head. I fire an email to a dear writing friend and run for the door with my sister in toe, determined to make her piano lesson. This is crazy! Is all my barely-functioning brain can compute.
Minutes later I swing into my mom’s work, still floating high on the euphoria that is sweeping my system like a cheap drug. I haven’t made it five steps into my mom’s work and “congratulations!” roll from the classrooms, reception desk and my mom’s office.
The news is spreading faster than a wild fire in a dry desert. I gulp, I smile wider than a mouth should be allowed and say “thank you!” at each opportunity.
I know these people. They’ve known me since I was in diapers and now they are celebrating in my success. Could it be anymore perfect?
I arrive home to a phone message from my dear writing friend and a squeal only one writer can give another when one of their own finds success. The grin is ever present, but I am humbled by the overflowing support.
I share the news on Facebook and friends spread the word on The Writer’s Alley, my group blog, Twitter. Can I wear out the words “Thank you”?
I determine it’s impossible.
Congratulations pour in, but it isn’t the praise that sweeps me away, it’s this amazing community of writers, friends and family. Many of them don’t know me that well yet, they’ve met me through one of my social networks, but they give of their love and support unconditionally. The kindness of people I’ve never met in person to sendme cards and warm congratulations
The kindness of strangers…but they aren’t strangers anymore. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, friends and family of the One True God, supporters even while one might be low, we are ready to lift the other up.
Community is often over-rated and under-appreciated. Not for me. Never again will I take for granted the friends I have made, the gift I have been given in a support that will not easily fade, wear away or rip asunder.
It’s family. It’s community. It’s all God.

Submitted by Casey from Writing for Christ

Poem Entry:

"Shared Tears"

Postponing the tear jerking task
As futile as trying to
Hold imminent tears at bay
Why doesn’t this pain retreat?
Time doesn’t heal, memories don’t soothe
I’ve left a thousand tears in this room
The sight of the silky films
Hugging shimmery satiny layers
Brings that familiar sharp sting--
Stoic eyes, straining not to weep.
We huddle around,
Dark granite contrasting light layers
Deft fingers brush over smooth, moist surface
Separating silk from satin.
A lone tear breaks free
A swift slushy staccato begs
My nose to join this tearful symphony
Twin rivulets trickle down my cheeks
I swish away tears
With the sleeve of my blouse
Will this stinging pain ever leave?
Years haven’t healed it.
The others sniffle somberly
Swishing away their own tears
A somewhat soothing salve
I step away to compose myself,
Prompting a fresh waterfall
Finally, the dreaded, mundane task
Everybody loves to loathe
Finds us swiping at the last tears.
Unspoken consent leaves
Silky remnants discarded,
While satiny layers are tucked away
For future use, future tears
With dry albeit red rimmed eyes
We quietly saunter away…
Blessed refreshing relief!
Till next time someone leaves us
A pail of onions to peel.

Submitted by Linda Maendel from Hutt-Write Voice

Photograph/Poem Entry:

Two Becoming One ...
embraced, enfolded, and upheld

by arms and hearts

that Love with
The Love

initiated by
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
in community,
One with Another ...

Submitted by Sharon from Faith Hope Cherrytea

~ ~ ~

See how difficult it was for the judges to make a decision???

My mom and author Laura Frantz picked different entries for different reasons, and the third judge didn't get a chance to look over the entries (she had a wedding to attend, so she's forgiven!). ;) I almost thought I would have to do a random drawing in order to come to a decision! But thankfully my mom suggested my sister fill in as the third celebrity judge, and with her help we have a winner:

The essay written by Casey!

Congratulations, Casey! And to all those other entrants, your entries were all wonderful, and the decision was a difficult one. We appreciate your great reminders of the blessings of community. Thank you!!

And special thanks to our fabulous judges: author Laura Frantz, my mom, and my sister!!! ;) You all are awesome, and I'm so grateful for your help!

Oh, and there was one other giveaway for the interested entrants - the drawing for a copy of Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs. And the winner of this book is...

Faith Hope Cherrytea!

I hope ya'll have enjoyed this week of community! And I can't think of a better note to end it on than posting about a blog award given in love and passed on in love, as well!

I was given the Liebster Blog Award by three lovely bloggers: Cathy at Thoughts on Books, Casey at Writing for Christ, and Michelle at Sweet Treats & Inspiration. Thank you so much for the encouragement and support, my friends!

Be sure to check out their blogs if you haven't already! These ladies are so sweet!

Here are the rules for this particular award:

The Liebster is awarded to bloggers with less than 200 followers. It is an opportunity to shine the light on great blogs and their authors in an effort to build readership.

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.

2. Give the Liebster Blog Award to five bloggers and let them know in a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. Have blogging fun!

Well, isn't this the perfect award for our community week? So let's share the love with five awesome bloggers!

~ Ruth at Booktalk & More: If you're looking for some fantastic reviews (especially for movies and T.V. programs like PBS Masterpiece), look no farther than Ruth's fantastic blog! Ruth is so awesome and thoughtful!

~ Julia at Dark Glass Ponderings: A sweet and caring person, Julia is a great friend and a great blogger! She's planning on focusing more on devotional-type posts in the future, to which I say bravo!

~ Casey at Operation Encourage an Author: I don't know if it's cheating to pass this award back to Casey through one of her other blogs, but I'm going to anyway! ;) This blog is so important, as it's a way for us readers to show our appreciation to authors. Be sure to check it out if you haven't yet!

~ Kav at Best Reads (2010-2011): Kav is super generous, writes great reviews, and is all around a wonderful person! I've so appreciated her friendship! And her blog offers AMAZING opportunities to learn about great books and maybe win some!!

~ Anne at Tales of Goldstone Wood: I have Anne's debut novel on my TBR stack, but despite the fact that I have yet to read it (and I can't wait to do so!!), I'm impressed by her blog and her sweet, humble attitude that shines through her posts. Many of her posts focus on her books, but that just makes me more excited to read them!

There you have it! You can show these great bloggers some love and extend our wonderful blogging community!

*Don't forget that tomorrow is the first day of the End of Summer Bash! And who's our first guest? None other than author Julie Lessman!!!*


Kav said...

Sniffle -- Casey's essay made me feel her roller-coaster ride of emotions! How exciting!!!!

All the entries were great! Love the different takes on community.

And thanks for mentioning my blog, Amber! You're tooooo sweet!

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

lovely to receive the email announcing today's win! thank you Amber and all the judges '')

community began with God - in Trinity. as my daughter married, their oneness became part of God's oneness in community. beautiful!

i am grateful for the honour of sharing in the blogging community here with each of you ~
Thank you, Amber, for being faithful to who you're created to be and doing what you're called to do in response to that being.

i really enjoyed the challenge of expressing my response on 'community'!! thank you for offering this opportunity Amber '')

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

congrats to Casey & Linda!
luved Linda's writing excellence and humour in peeling onions 'community' style! well done '')

Casey said...

Oh, I loved reading and seeing all the essay entries! Wow, what a great contest Amber (and I'm NOT saying that because I won either. ;-)

And THANK YOU Kav, I so appreciate your comments!

And thank you for passing on the blog award back to OEA. I sooo appreciate the support!

Laura Frantz said...

Amber, This was such a fun idea and great contest - plus so creative because it made people think about community in different ways. I really enjoyed being a judge and loved them all like you highlighted above:) I think it's great that you shared the entries here so others can be blessed, too. Congrats to our winner, Casey!! And hugs all around. Can't wait to see dear Julie here soon! She's such a mentor and friend to me!

Amber S. said...


Exciting times, for sure! :) Glad you enjoyed all the entries! Weren't they so creative?

And I'm more than happy to mention your blog! :D I love it!!


Amber S. said...

Faith Hope Cherrytea,

I loved your entry and your thoughts on community! Thank you so much for sharing them with us! :D

And thank you for your kind and encouraging words, my friend! I'm honored to share in this blogging community with you, as well, and I'm so pleased you participated in this week's contest!


Amber S. said...


All the entries were great, and I'm so glad ya'll let me share them here so you could be blessed by each other! :) Congrats on the win!

And I'm glad I could pass this award on to OEA - it's a fabulous blog!


Amber S. said...


Oh, I'm so pleased you liked the contest idea and that you enjoyed being a judge!! It was such an honor to have you help out this week, and I really appreciate it! :D

I'm so glad all the entrants let me share their entries, as well - it's wonderful to spotlight them and remind each other of the blessings of community. :)

Thank you again, and I'm super excited about this next week!!


KC Frantzen said...


Congrats to all the winners!!!!!
My flight was delayed over 3 hours so I MISSED it.

Wonderful entries. Great idea Amber... Do it again!

Amber S. said...


I'm so sorry we didn't get a chance to factor in your opinions, but as I said in the post, you had a very good reason for being too busy, so no worries! ;)

I'm glad to hear that you liked the contest idea, though, and the entries! Wonderful, indeed! :)

Thank you for wanting to help out, dear friend!


Julia M. Reffner said...

I didn't know about the contest but am so thrilled to read the entries. I share so much in Casey's joy about the Frasier...she has put so much work into her writing and I'm so glad to see she is being rewarded along the journey. :)

Amber, Thanks so much for this award. It is wonderful to have made a connection with you in the blogging community. It really means a lot to me even when I think I'm not so present in the blogging community. I am so blessed by your devotions as well.

Amber S. said...


Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm excited for Casey, too, and I admire the community ya'll have formed with "The Writers Alley" blog. :)

As for the award, you're very welcome! I'm so grateful for the connection with you, as well! :) I'm hoping to focus more on devotional-type posts and "Mondays for the Military" once I get back to school, so we'll see how it all goes!


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Thank you for the award, Amber! I am so new to the blogging community, I hadn't yet heard of "blog awards." I feel much more educated now. :) You are very sweet and encouraging and your blog is beautiful with many fun and interesting things to browse! I hope you will enjoy HEARTLESS when you get a chance to read it. :)

Amber S. said...


You're welcome! I'm glad I could introduce you to blog awards. :) They're just kind of a fun way to show other bloggers you appreciate them. :)

And thank you so much for your kind words about me and my blog! So glad you could stop by, and I'm very excited to read Heartless! I know I keep saying that I will, but I really do want to read it soon - before I review Veiled Rose for Bethany House. :)