Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thirty Little Fingers

I was a little worried that Sheila would find that no one writes letters any more. But snail mail is still alive by the response to the Thirty Little Fingers giveaway. I loved reading about the faithful letter/card writing friends in your life.

Out of the 45 nominations, I drew these ten names to receive a free copy of Sheila  Petre's Thirty Little Fingers.

April's friend Elizabeth
Janelle's friend Nicole
Melissa's friend Laura
Diane's friend Kate
Marlene's friend Loretta
Rebecca's friend Priscilla
Laura's friend Audra
Suzanne's friend Barb
Karen's friend Abigail
Denise's friend Vila

I hope you ladies enjoy the book.

To purchase your own copy of Thirty Little Fingers (or buy one for a gift for your friend) send a check payable to Sheila Petre at P.O. Box 127, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Books are $13 each (which includes shipping to US addresses). Five or more copies, $11 each. PA residents add 6% sales tax. For larger-quantity discounts or questions, email Sheila at

Thirty Little Fingers is also available from the publisher, call Carlisle Press at 1-800-852-4482.

Sheila plans to have a book signing in New Holland, PA on January 6. Contact Sheila for more details if you are in that area.

Thanks again for all who participated in this giveaway - especially to Sheila who donated these books.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Perspective changes everything. 

I love Christmas music and last year I shared some favorites.

This year I have noticed how many Christmas songs talk about, not just Christ's birth, but also His victory over death and His return. Of course we know that is why He came, but when life is jolly and merry, it is easy to forget that Christ came to a helpless, hopeless, heartbroken world to restore our relationship with God. 

Too often I'm so comfortable and satisfied that I don't appreciate Christ's coming or look forward to His return. I sing a song like this one and enjoy the tune without fully appreciating the message.

Not this year.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lowly exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice rejoice Emmanuel
Shall come to thee O Israel

O come Thou Dayspring come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might, 
Who to your tribes on Sinai's height 
In ancient times gave holy law, 
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem, 
From every foe deliver them 
That trust your mighty pow'r to save; 
Bring them in victory through the grave. 

Oh, come, O Key of David, come, 
And open wide our heavenly home; 
Make safe the way that leads on high, 
And close the path to misery. 

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind 
In one the hearts of all mankind; 
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, 
And be yourself our King of Peace. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Giveaway- Thirty Little Fingers

I don't have to introduce Sheila Petre to many of you. You have already have enjoyed her stories of marriage and motherhood in various publications such as Keepers at Home magazine. I had enjoyed Sheila's writing some time before finding that she both lived near me AND her husband and mine are related.

Today I count Sheila one of those friends who I can stop by unannounced. I now know that, not only is she a talented writer, but she is also a real mom with dishes in her sink, toys on the floor, and adorable children riding bikes in the driveway. I also learn that I never leave her presence without being encouraged.

Thirty Little Fingers: Seasons of Young Motherhood is a brand new book compiling Sheila's stories, essays, poems, (and even a few recipes). Many of these articles were previously published in Ladies Journal, KAH, or other magazine, but many others have never been published. With a mix of short and longer articles, it is a perfect book to pick up when I have a few minutes. A few pages will probably have me smiling, maybe laughing out loud, sometimes wiping tears - maybe on the same page.

Sheila writes about the joys of sweet new babies, funny preschoolers, and shared laughter. But she doesn't ignore the squabbles, the misunderstandings, and fatigue that arrive with many small children. The book spans numerous years; you'll find Sheila's family growing from two to seven children (in about that many years). I know young mothers will relate to this book, but I think that women in a completely different season of life will enjoy these pages.

Whether Sheila is surviving the latest version of the stomach bug, battling the summer garden harvest, or hosting a Muslim student for a year - life is never dull. Joy is found in the cracks of living and always God's grace is found in a word of Scripture, a child's dimples, or a husband's admonition. I love that Sheila doesn't pretend to be perfect, but encourages me to keep trying, like her, to lean harder on God to be a more godly mother.

You can read a sample of Sheila's writing at Antics of an International Potluck - one of the essays she edited for inclusion in Thirty Little Fingers.

Now for the giveaway. Sheila may be the author of several books, but she believes there is no writing genre of higher order than the personal letter or card. Many of the stories in Thirty Little Fingers began as letters to friends. So Sheila suggested this fun idea for a blog giveaway for her book.

If you received a personal letter or card in the mail in the last month - not a birthday card, not Christmas mail, a real, just-because-you're-my-friend card or letter - you may nominate the person that sent you the mail by leaving a comment on this post. Sheila is willing to give away TEN copies of Thirty Little Fingers to those you nominate - if we get ten names. Her husband, Michael said, "These are blog readers, they don't write snail mail," and maybe he is right. But if we get more than ten nominations, I'll do a random drawing.

But I know that there are some people who DO send mail. We have a large basket filled with the mail sent to us since May. If you are like our family and have had a health crisis that has resulted in a deluge of letters, cards, and care packages, just choose one person to nominate whose mail was especially meaningful to you. I bought an extra copy of Thirty Little Fingers from Sheila to send to a blog reader who has blessed us with a handwritten card every single week since Ed's surgery in May.

To purchase your own copy of Thirty Little Fingers (or buy one for a gift for your mom friend) send a check payable to Sheila Petre at P.O. Box 127, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Books are $13 each (which includes shipping to US addresses). Five or more copies, $11 each. PA residents add 6% sales tax. For larger-quantity discounts or questions, email Sheila at

Thirty Little Fingers is also available from the publisher, call Carlisle Press at 1-800-852-4482.

Sheila plans to have a book signing in New Holland, PA on January 6. Contact Sheila for more details if you are in that area.

Sheila gave me a copy to review, but I bought several copies myself and all opinions stated here are my own.

Giveaway is open for one week from today. Please give your email address so I can contact you if you win. US mailing addresses only, please.

Edit: Giveaway is now closed.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Swimming in Riches

I can't look back on the photos of our November without being thankful.

The first week of the month was Ed's chemo week. It hit him a little harder than usual, and he experienced some side effects such as mouth sores. 

But he was still able to participate in our family hog butchering day. We usually butcher in January but decided to do it earlier this year. We went home a little early since Ed was tired, but, on the whole, it was a great day.

I've shared lots of photos and info on our butcher days in the past. If you want to see more photos from this year, check out my brother's instagram.

One of the fun things about young children is there is always new joys like a pile of leaves.

The highlight of our November was the weekend before Thanksgiving when our family took a short vacation in a cabin high in the Virginia mountains. Our vacation plans in September were canceled because of our son's accident, so it was wonderful to have this special family time. Above was the view out the window in the morning.

We spent one day at Monticello, the home that Thomas Jefferson built.

I enjoyed walking through the vegetable gardens though it wasn't the ideal time of year to see the peak.

The Discover Center was a favorite spot for the children. They could use reproductions of Jefferson's tools and furniture.

Back at the cabin we enjoyed lots of good food...

hours of game playing...

and hiking.

One of the highlights of the weekend was visiting Faith Mission Home which was a few miles away. Our tour guide pointed out  many of the sites read about in Home on the Rock Pile by Pablo Yoder, which is a favorite book of our children.

The weather was often windy and cold, but for November, we had a great weekend.

And then there was Thanksgiving week with even more family time since Ed had several days off work. We enjoyed Christmas cookie baking, gatherings with friends that we see rarely, extended family meals, and time to work on home projects.

Ed's mom and our youngest

Our family has much to be thankful for this year. Even though we have experienced things in the last months that we never wished, we have so many blessings. 

My sister is presently serving refugees in Greece. The conditions for these refugees is appalling. Not only have they lost their homes and many of their friends and family, they now have miserable living conditions and an uncertain future. With thousands of refugees still arriving, the camp is crowded and riots break out. Compared to them, I am swimming in the riches of security, comfort, hope, and love - both from my community and the Lord. 

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Today Only - $50 Off 8-Quart Instant Pots

Last spring I bought an 8-quart Instant Pot. This combination slow cooker/pressure cooker has been in constant use in my kitchen since then. I love that I can set the pot and go read to my children or work in the garden with no worry that I will burn supper. The Instant Pot will automatically turn to warm when it completes cooking. I also love how quiet the pot is.

Ed had encouraged me to get the 8-quart size instead of the smaller 6-quart and I'm so glad I did. The 8-quart size is perfect for doing a large roast, a whole chicken, or a butternut squash. But I haven't had any problem cooking a smaller amount of food either.

I paid full-price for my Instant Pot - and don't regret the purchase - but today you can use the Black Friday deal and get this same pot for $50 off at Amazon.

Fifty dollars off something that you might use every day? You won't regret it.

Remember this sale is for today only.

I have shared affiliate links to Amazon for this Instant Pot in this post. If you click through the link to Amazon and make any purchase (not just Instant Pots) I get a small gift at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Have you found any great deals for Black Friday to share with me?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Can Anything Good Come From Cancer?

I've noticed that some of the most thankful people I know are also those who have experienced some hard circumstances. Of course there are others who have turned bitter and angry with difficulties, but I want to be one of those who use trials to make me more Christ-like. 

A friend asked, "If we don't hear an update, do we assume that Ed is feeling well?"

Yes. Ed is feeling well. We are so grateful that he has energy to work and enjoy life. His chemo week each month drags him down and he is more tired for the next week, but it could be so much worse. 

But I'm also more quiet when I'm discouraged. Some people write through all kinds of emotions, but I don't feel like writing when I'm down. It is humbling to admit that immediately after I wrote about trusting our Father, I was hit with the biggest test of my faith yet. Even with Ed feeling so well, it is hard not worry that Ed's next MRI will find his tumor growing. Some days I felt like each hour I had to pull my mind out of a worry rut and back to the path of trust.

A few weeks ago I heard a sermon on thankfulness. I challenged myself to come up with a list of good things that have come from this journey with cancer. Here is a few notes that I jotted down that day.

Can Anything Good Come From Cancer?

1. I am reminded that I am not self-sufficient. I can't survive without God. I can feel confident and capable- until I'm completely helpless with circumstances beyond my control.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (2 Corinthians 3:5)

2. I found that God does provide abundantly. All my needs are met by His hand. We say that God's grace is sufficient, but it is only when I was tested with something that was beyond my strength that I found that truly His grace is available exactly when I need it.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8)

3. I experienced the care of other believers through their prayers, gifts, and encouragement. I can't begin to explain what it means to be surrounded by the strength of others' prayers.

4. I was motivated to value each day. No longer did I take a day for granted. Without cancer I would not be thanking God for Ed's good health this month; I would just expect it. Many morning I wake up and my first thought is, "I have another day with Ed." 

5. Relationships became more valuable. Many things do not seem important while others become far more valuable. I realize how many of my frustrations are just earthly temporary things that don't really matter.

6. It gave me an opportunity to prepare for the future. Though I hate it sometimes, I appreciate all the ways that Ed is trying to make life easier for me in case he is gone.

I realize that I still have Ed. A list like this would be much harder if our journey this past six months would have included a funeral like some of you have experienced. 

If this thanksgiving was a painful reminder of everything you have lost - broken relationships, departed loved ones, or heart wounds - all I can say is that God cares for your grief. 

This morning Ed preached at a Thanksgiving service and began his sermon with this verse.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)
I believe this verse is a prophecy about Jesus. Only Jesus can take yucky things, like cancer, and use it to bring glory to Himself.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Winner: Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

Thanks for all who participated in the giveaway for Fragrant Whiffs of Joy. Now I wish I had a case of 100 books to share with each one of the friends that you nominated.

But I do have two copies. selected Marlene who wants to give the book to Carol and Daisy who nominated Vera. I have the books in the mail. Hope you enjoy your books.

Each of you can get your own copy, and a copy for your friend, from Dorcas.

Order from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. ( The book is also available on Amazon. 

And do go check out Dorcas' blog.

Thanks, Dorcas, for this giveaway.


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