Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday Blog Stop

Anita is the author of Life is for Living.  She lives in Poland and blogs at Tis a Gift to Receive.

Today she reviews Footprints and does a double giveaway.

Read her blog for a new perspective on life, beauty, relationships.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kindle and Today's Blog Stop

Today we stop in at Mary Ann Kinsinger's pretty blog, A Joyful Chaos, for a review and giveaway.

As you can see on the sidebar, Mary Ann is co-author of a number of children's books.  You might want to check them out.

And Footprints is now available on Kindle.

Click here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Final Week of Blog Tour

I feel like I've been traveling all over on this blog tour, and this week I hop up to Canada and also across the pond to Poland and England.

Feel free to come along.  And yes, there's a giveaway at each stop.

Today we go to QuintuplicateMom in British Columbia.

Right here.
[edit: this is a private blog so it was public on Monday but is now closed]

This is the schedule for the week.


Monday, November 24--Penny Toews--Quintuplicate Mom

Tuesday, November 25--Mary Ann Kinsinger-- A Joyful Chaos
Wednesday, November 26--Anita Yoder--Tis a Gift to Receive
Thursday, November 27--Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 28--Crystal Kupper
Saturday, November 29--Dawn Harshbarger--Little Shack in the Boondocks

Thank you to each of these bloggers and everyone who came along for the ride.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blog Tour--Home Joys

Gina over at Home Joys is reviewing Footprints today, doing a giveaway, and asking how you and your husband met!

Right here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blog Tour: Keri Recommends

Keri Lewis has a lovely blog called Keri Recommends.  I'm happy to have Footprints on the Ceiling featured today.

It's at http://kerirecommends.com/2014/11/footprints-on-the-ceiling-by-dorcas-smucker-author-interview-giveaway/

And yes, you can sign up for a giveaway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thoughts On Grief, Balance, and Jealousy

Today the nephew's wife's sister and her husband are laying their 5-year-old daughter to rest.  She died suddenly of pneumonia.  There are no words for this level of sadness and loss.  All of us with daughters who are now or were once laughing, vivacious, creative, adorable 5-year-olds are feeling the magnitude of this, the heaviness, the emptiness.

And yet, it was them and not us, and this is their terrible journey to walk, and not ours.

I hope they have people who will sit with them and just let them hurt for a long time to come.

*     *     *

I've always felt handicapped by an ability to see both sides of an issue.

Other people always seem so sure of themselves.  OF COURSE gun control is a good idea.  Contrast the murder rate in the U.S. vs Canada!  Why would anyone need guns, especially a cabinet full, and especially assault rifles?  Seriously.

Or:  Gun control is a TERRIBLE idea.  If you're going to live in the country and deal with nutria and all kinds of other pests, you need a gun for economic reasons.  And what about the cougar prowling around your friend's field, endangering all the kids in the neighborhood?  And what about all the responsible, careful people who enjoy hunting and target shooting as a sport?  Seriously.

On this issue and many others, few people seem to be somewhere in the middle, and ones I know and love are convinced they're utterly and completely right, and they're firm and solid in what they believe.  Meanwhile, I understand both sides equally well so can't take a stand either way, which in some cases is a good way to go crazy.

[Or maybe those in the middle are just quieter.]

It's the same way with Christian/church/Biblical things.  God's sovereignty vs. man's free will, for instance, also known as Calvinism vs. Arminianism.  If you run in Christian circles, you've talked with people on each side of this who would die for their view and who have a neat and tidy explanation for all the verses that give some weight to the other.

Naturally, I can understand each side all too well, which always made me feel like an immature Christian who couldn't make up her mind.

Well.

We had a speaker at church recently (Ernest Witmer from California) who had a perspective I've never heard before.  He said that we have very Western mindsets in that we are big on logic, a systematic progression of ideas, and tidy answers.  If A=B and B=C, then A=C.  That makes us happy.  We are good at geometry.

The Hebrew mindset was different, he said.  They were all about balancing and even embracing two opposing truths at the same time.  The resulting tension was not something to be avoided--it was actually intentional.

So, he said, the seeming contradiction of so many truths in Scripture is intentional.  God's judgment vs. his mercy and love.  It's not either-or.  They're both true.  God's sovereignty and man's free will can both be true, however improbable, and we find meaning in striving for the balance between.  We don't have to choose one or the other to be a mature Christian.

It's ok to believe that both can somehow be true, but not to understand quite how.

Parenting is all about that tension between love/acceptance/affection and discipline/toughness/boundaries.  Church life--hugs and warmth and welcoming sinners while also challenging people to holiness and discipleship.

Finding a balance is never easy, but it helps if you think of the tension as having a purpose in and of itself.

I find it freeing.

*     *     *
The other day I overheard a woman say, " 'Sadie Gingerich'* is my favorite blogger!"

[*edited to add: I put Sadie G in quotes because she's a euphemism for a name I didn't want to state here, to protect everyone involved.]

And I felt an immediate stab of--yes--jealousy.

Thankfully I had the good sense to quickly take it to the Lord instead of mulling over it.

"Ok, God.  I am jealous.  What do I do with this?"

An immediate reply: "If you're No. 1, you have to maintain that position.  Do you really want that pressure?"

[Sometimes the Holy Spirit sounds a lot like Paul.]

I thought: No.  Shudder.  I most certainly do not need or want that sort of pressure.

 The Oregon Ducks are hovering toward the top of the rankings recently, which you already know if you follow football, and today they're number 2 in the CFP rankings, the newspaper says.  There's an intense pressure at the top, it seems, and especially at No. 1.  It's hard to maintain your footing there.  Everyone is trying to take over your spot.

But even knowing that, it's hard to want someone else to do better than you.

Jealousy goes with the territory, author Deborah Raney said at a writers' conference I attended this year.  You have to deal with it coming and going, both with your jealousy of others and others' jealousy of you.

I've certainly been on both sides of this.

Writers live and die by numbers.  Book sales, blog hits, fan letters.  But asking flat-out is like asking someone how much they weigh.  So we listen hard and do math in our heads.  "I lost 6000 readers a month when I had the baby and wasn't blogging much," a fellow blogger says, and you can just about hear the abacuses clicking in our heads as we wonder, well, was that 25% of her readers?  And if so, she was getting, what, 800 hits a day?!!  Unreal.  Not fair.  It's all because of those cute pictures of her kids.

And then you say that you decided to order 3000 copies of your new book, and non-writers say, "Hmmm. Cool," and other writers squint a bit and you can just about hear the whir and see the paper spooling out of the adding machine.

[If this is too honest for you, you can always go read Sadie Gingerich's blog.]

Deborah talked about being invited to a publisher's conference and having reason to believe that she was one of the featured authors.  So she arrived, all excited and full of herself, and there were other authors' photos on the flyers, the billboards, and even on the sides of buses going around town.  And not hers.

She was headed back to her hotel room to spend some time crying and feeling sorry for herself when she happened to be in the elevator with a ten-year-old boy.  Who was blind.  And who was so happy to learn how to push the right elevator button.

Deborah was thoroughly chastened.

But back to having favorites.  I went off about this last night to one of my patient daughters.  "Why do you have to announce who your favorite anything is?" I said.  "In fact, why do you have to have a favorite at all?  And shouldn't you have the decency to look around and see who might overhear--either in real life or online or anywhere else--before you just say it and hurt someone's feelings?"

The patient daughter disagreed.  "No.  That's being way too sensitive, and it's asking way too much of people.  You seriously expect them to think, Ok, who else might see this and get jealous, before they say who they like best?"

Well, yes, maybe.  At the very least when you're right there.

I can't tell you how many times people have come up to me at an authors' event and said, "Ooooh, you and Bob Welch are my two favorite columnists in the Guard, but I have to say I like Bob just a wee bit better."

And I think, "No.  You do not have to say it, actually.  I can live just fine not knowing that."

Then there were the times my fine husband was right beside another minister and someone came up to Paul and raved about his amazing sermons, implying if not actually saying that he was their favorite.  And Paul thought, "No.  Please.  Don't do that."

I liked what Joanna Hendricks said in her book review this week, not only the nice words about Footprints but also the thoughts about having favorites.


As I was reading Footprints on the Ceiling, enjoying, musing and plotting my review, I kept thinking, "This is my favorite chapter...no, wait! This one is... Oh, just a minute, definitely this one..!" In other words, the whole book is great and I never really did decide!


I believe this is okay, for life condensed down to only one favorite is a bit boring and overly-simplified, you might say!


In a world of great chocolates, need I select just one? In a world of great hymns, who would want to sing the same one over and over again? In a world of great people. why have only one friend? In a book full of great essays, why pick only one favorite when, one after the other, they make a real treat to savor as one would a delicacy chosen from behind the glass at a specialty bakery.


So.  It's ok if you like Bob Welch or Sadie Gingerich better than me, really.  I like them better than me, too.

Just don't share that little piece of information with me--is that asking too much?

Quote List of the Day:
1 sock
hot sauce
hairbrush
MP3 player and cords
hand gripper
African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Maximum Strengthening Moisturizer Lotion
Lipton citrus green tea
--what Steven left in someone's car after a road trip

Blog Tour Stop--Confessions

Shari Zook blogs over at Confessions.  Stop by for today's interview, review, and giveaway, and then stay around for her other posts.  She's always interesting, amusing, thoughtful, and just a bit mysterious.

http://shari.zooks.us/giveaway-footprints-ceiling/

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today's Review

Joanna Hendricks at What's In My Teapot? has a book review and giveaway today, and also a free sample chapter.

Pour a cup of tea and enjoy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Blog Tour, Rain, Cats, Recipe, and Other Sunday Trivia

We took a break today, since we all need a Sunday off, then tomorrow the blog tour starts up again.

Here's the itinerary for this week:

Monday, November 17--Miriam Iwashige at Prairie View 
Tuesday, November18--Joanna Hendricks at What's in My Teapot? 
Wednesday, November 19--Shari Zook at Confessions of a Woman Learning to Live
Thursday, November 20--Keri Lewis at Keri Recommends 
Friday, November 21--Martha Glick at The Kitchen Cookie 
Saturday, November 22--Gina Martin at Home Joys

Today was one of those Sundays that was not restful and involved all of us spidering in all directions and of course the resulting complicated figurage of rides.  We had a missions committee meeting after church, so we 3 families on the committee brought lunch to church and shared it.  Then Ben was in on the meeting, Steven wanted to go to a concert in I think Portland, Jenny needed to meet someone in Albany at 2, and Emily wanted to go home.

So Emily took off in the family car, not knowing there was a crucial bag in the back seat that Jenny needed.  Emily didn't answer her phone, which is normal and wise when she's driving, but maybe she could make one exception.  So I hollered at Steven to "chase her down," a command that I later realized wasn't the smartest to give to Steven because he would do it, happily and literally.  The trouble is that Emily is like me and tends to concentrate on her driving and not what's going on around her, so even though Steven passed her and honked his horn, she just kept driving.  And frowning at the road, said Jenny, who was getting frantic.

Somehow it all turned out ok.

 I took a Waldorf salad to the lunch today.

Do other people do this?  I spent a good portion of my life deliberately not doing stuff because my mom did or liked it.  For example, in high school I never touched the Anne of Green Gables books because Mom thought  they were so good.

And certain foods, such as carrot salad--consisting of grated carrots in orange jello, which Mom always made for Sunday dinner company--I never made specifically because if Mom had made it, it was naturally provincial and old-fashioned and certainly not cool.

At some point the compass turned and I started reading and doing and making things specifically because it's what Mom did.

I love Anne of Green Gables.

The other day in a second-hand store I tried on a pair of shoes for the sole* reason that they were just like Mom would have worn.

*yes...

And today I made Waldorf salad because I had apples to use up and Mom used to make it.

Recipe:
Combine--
3 or 4 apples, cored and chopped
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
Combine, pour over apple mixture, stir:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 t. sugar
1 t. lemon juice
1/4 t. salt

Speaking of coordinating rides, I am trying to get the family together for Christmas.  Four of them live at home, one is coming home from Thailand for a long vacation, so it shouldn't be that hard, right?  Well.  It is.  There is a sweet young girlfriend in the mix who must be visited, which I don't begrudge and am in fact encouraging, and a Navy project that won't be finished until the 23rd, and I have taught the engineer to be responsible, have I not?

But why does it all have to interfere with my precious plans for the family get-together??

Then of course the air fares are up in the jet stream for weeks except on Christmas Day.  Someone thought maybe this son could come and that one could go, all on Christmas Day.  I said absolutely not.

I am turning into a crazy woman, wild-eyed and shrieking: "WE ARE GOING TO BE A NORMAL HAPPY FAMILY FOR ONCE AND WE ARE GOING TO HAVE CHRISTMAS ALL TOGETHER AND HAVE A FAMILY PICTURE TAKEN IF IT'S THE LAST THING WE DO AND YOU ARE GOING TO BE COOPERATIVE ABOUT IT!!!"

I am obsessing about taking that family picture together.

And about three perfect family days at a house at the coast.

You know how this will go, right?  So do I.

Save me from myself, people.

It has been cold and rainy and then cold and dry.  You never met cold and nasty and wet until you've lived in Oregon.  We decided to take in an activity at the U of O the other night, where Emily attends, just Emily and Jenny and me having a happy Mother-Daughter Girl Night of Bonhomie and Making Memories [notice a theme developing here?].  It was about 35 degrees and pouring rain.  The drains were all overwhelmed so there were deep ponds at all the crosswalks.  Emily decided to be all scientific and smart with a plastic bag she found in the back seat of the car.  She pulled it over her one boot and figured she would step into the crosswalks first with that foot, since most of the lakes were small enough that you would only get one foot really wet, and the second step would get you close to the other shore.

So we went blazing off into the night, a trio of hunched shoulders and scarves and gloves and hooded winter coats.   Jenny leapt gracefully over most of the first puddle. Emily followed, into the huge puddle, according to plan, then out the other side. And as I gritted my teeth and splashed my foot into the icy deep, I noticed a plastic bag, floating calmly by.

A puddle and several wet sidewalks later, Emily yelled, "Hey!  What happened to my bag??"

We didn't get home til almost midnight.  We all had wet feet and wet coats and were very happy to get into warm beds.  I was worried we'd all get pneumonia.

Meanwhile our three--yes, three--new kitties are inside until it warms up just a bit.  First, Steven found a stray black kitty at the warehouse so of course he rescued it.  And named it Raven.

Then Tim and Rebekah from church are getting ready to go to Africa so wanted to place their kittens in homes of people they knew.  The girls each wanted one so the very fluffy JulieSara and EllieAnne arrived about the same time as Raven.

They sit under the kitchen chairs and hiss at him.  Raven likes to lurk behind a chair leg and then swipe the others as they go by.

They remind me of Paul's students at school.

Quote of the Day [or: why I sometimes read Craigslist for fun] [and: why I nag at writing students to be specific.]

"i am downsizing. i have normal stuff.

Normal stuff. Anything you want make an offer. If i dont want to sell it it will either be out of site or i will say no. Browse shopping. This is serious. I dont have time to set up a g sale. Buy everything i have for sale for $1200. Except.for the huge whirlpool side x siide frig. $300 firm on that. Cmon by."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday Blog Tour

Today we go to an artistic young woman named Gabrielle who is not only reviewing Footprints and doing a giveaway, but also asking for advice about life!

Here at Project Paperie.