Welcome to my little bit of cyber-space. It is my prayer that all who enter here may be richly blessed by the God of all grace. All praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review, Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

It is always a privilege and honor to read and review a book by Kim Sawyer, as she is one of the first writer friends I made at the first ACFW conference and she is one of the authors I pray for each day. She's also one of the sweetest people I know. Kim's writing has grown over the years, and this was one of my favorite books she has written.
Fields of Grace is a fictional story which begins in the real historic town of Gnadenfeld (which means "Field of Grace") which was the birthplace of many of Kim's Mennonite ancestors. It connected with me on many levels--farming, a sea voyage, family hurts and healings, and God's grace.
Although happy in their village, Lillian Vogt sets out on the voyage to America to help her son avoid serving in the Russian Army. She knows there will be many adjustments to make, but has no idea of the horrors she will face on the ship and the many other losses and lessons she will undergo on the first year in her new home. As you read this book, you will experience the journey and growth with her, so be prepared to shed some tears along the way.
I think this must have been one of the hardest books for Kim to write as she had to take her characters through many trials on their journey of grace. Although the main characters come to an understanding and love for each other and for God and His grace, I hope there will be a sequel to this story so we can see God's grace continue to work in the lives of the next generation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Support our Service Men and Women

I'd like to use this week's blog to point you to a great project that personally helps our servicemen and women, especially those serving in dangerous areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq and guarding from pirates around the tip of Africa. Please check out http://www.thehugsprojectofwky.com/ I hope you will prayerfully consider giving a gift to this worthwhile endeavor any time of the year, but especially at this time.

This project is very special to me for two reasons: 1) I remember how my own hubby spent two Christmases away from me and the rest of his family, and how much he and the other servicemen appreciated anything we sent from home,(see last week's post) and 2) the Western Kentucky branch of this organization is headed up by my college roommate's little brother. In fact, the picture attached to this post is of his son, Cpl Christopher Ferguson, USMC deployed to Japan who has already served in Iraq, one regular tour and one special op. Christopher is on my daily prayer list for service members, which is the absolute best thing we all can do for them, but I believe this project is one of the next best things we can and should do.

I don't know how to say it any better than Gayron does, so I am copying his letter below. Please check out the site and send a check of any amount to help send all our service members a "HUG" from home this season. I'll close my thoughts by copying what Gayron puts at the bottom of all his correspondence. "Some people's heroes wear capes, mine wear Kevlar." Let's help our heroes in Kevlar have a Merry Christmas!

The Hugs Project of Western Kentucky, Inc.
4931 Epperson Road
Paducah, Kentucky 42003
(270) 898-4464
Email: HugsProjectOfWKy@aol.com
Local website: www.thehugsprojectofwky.com
National website: www.thehugsproject.com
Dear Friend:
We can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again. Just last year, we were able to send our troops 514 packages of love and support because of the people like you who care about our troops.
Imagine if you will, what it would be like to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years in a war torn land. A place that is a grimy desert or barren and frozen mountainside filled with danger and yes, even death. You cannot feel the love and caring of your family and friends or see the smiles on your children’s faces each day or the hug of your family when you come home each night. It is the worst time of the year to be in the Theatre. But over 190,000 of our young men and women are doing just that.
We at The Hugs Project of W Ky are doing everything we can to send love and support to our troops in harm’s way each month. Normally we send between 50 and 85 boxes each month, but during November, we send as many as we can get the funds, items and volunteer’s to help. As I mentioned, last year we sent 514 packages at a cost of just under $25,000.00. The postage alone was almost $5,600.00. We received almost $6,000.00 in donated items and purchased another $12,400.00 in additional items to go in the packages. We estimate approximately 1,000 packages will be needed from our group this year. Postage went up $1.00 per box in addition to the cost of the items going into the boxes.
The Major General in Ft. Campbell paid us a visit while we were on base in August and said that over 400 of his soldiers were going to Afghanistan in January and asked if we could work with them to help show support to our troops that were being deployed. As some come home, others go to replace them. That is why this goes on every month of the year. But at Christmas, we want to send as much as possible to make their time in the Theatre as bearable as possible.
We ask everyone who cares about our troops to give what you can to help us show them that America has not forgotten them. We want them to know they are loved and remain in our thoughts and prayers every day. Won’t you help? Donations are tax deductible as we are a 501 C 3 organization. Without your support, we cannot get the job done for them.
Gayron Ferguson

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A big salute to my favorite veteran--my husband, my hero, SSGT Chester Wells McCauley

Chester joined the US Air Force in January, 1969, after our marriage in May, 1968. (The first picture is of Chester in his Air Force uniform--tip from Dale McCauley--click on the picture to enlarge it; the second picture is of us on our 40th anniversary!) He then left for his basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas in April, 1969. I remained back in KY teaching school while he finished his basic and moved to Denver CO for more training. I joined him there in June, and we lived in a basement apartment within walking distance of the base. We left Denver in Sept. for a visit back to KY before arriving at his tech school training in Wichita KS, in October where we also lived in a basement apartment. When he completed his training there in Feb, 1970, we went back to KY for a month's leave before he shipped out to Thailand in March. While in Thailand, he served at Tahkli AFB and Khorat AFB. This was during the height of the Viet Nam war, and he worked many 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. He was often so tired that he was able to sleep on the concrete on the airstrip when he had the chance!

Chester was on the Lead Crew as a weapon's mechanic, which meant he trained and certified other crews to load the bombs on several planes to fly from Thailand into Viet Nam.

He returned home from Thailand in January, 1971, and after another month's leave in KY, went to his next base at Myrtle Beach, SC. Both of our homes there were on the lower level of small shared houses, but they were only 2 blocks or less from the Atlantic Ocean! I joined him there and was hired to teach school at Conway Elementary. He did have to go to a base in Louisiana for 2 weeks once, but everything was going great until he got orders to go TDY (temporary duty) back to Thailand. He left in October, 1972.

Since his group wasn't supposed to return until April, but his date to be discharged was April 1st, they told him and another guy they could go back to the States if they could be ready to leave in 1 hour, so they did it! I didn't even know he was on his way until he called me from California to say he was on American soil! I was so happy to know he was back safe and sound and even sooner than expected, but I told him there was a problem. An ice storm had hit SC and most of the south. Our electricity had been out for several days, schools were called off for the week, and I doubted he could get a flight anywhere near Myrtle Beach. He told me not to worry--he would make it. He did--3 days later after getting a flight to Atlanta, then taking a bus to North Carolina, then renting a car with 3 other GIs wanting to get home. Since he was the only one over 21 and able to rent a car, at least he got to drive while the others had to shovel snow and push the car out of drifts! They spent two nights sleeping on the floor of homes of two of the guys. Then, while I was watching the return of the POWs on TV, he finally knocked on the front door! My prayers had been answered!

Chester was discharged on April 1, 1973, and in June (after my school year was completed) we returned home to KY and he was finally able to get back to what he had always wanted to do--farm! He is still farming today, and we still live in the house where we moved in June, 1973, where we raised our three children.

As you can tell from my story, we spent our first three anniversaries and several Christmases apart, but we have both agreed that the years we spent while he was in the Air Force held many good experiences for us. We would move to a town, knowing no one but each other, and had to work together to find a place to live, a church family, me a job, etc. We had to learn to depend on each other and the One who always travelled with us and lighted our path.

So, on this Veterans' Day, I want to thank my special veteran and all our veterans and current service men and women and their families who have sacrificed so much, and especially our God who has blessed us all so richly. May God bless America!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Blog Tour for Debut author--Erica Vetsch

I am so happy to be a part of this blog tour for Erica Vetsch. I first came to know Erica when she met me and several other ACFWers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport last September (2008) for the ACFW conference. After getting lost in the confusing parking lot (!) she kindly gave us a ride to the hotel. Then a couple days later the attendees went wild with excitement when Erica's name was called as the recipient of a first time author contract. The contract was for this book--The Bartered Bride!

So, I eagerly anticipated reading this book, and it lived up to my expectations and more! Any time you stay up past midnight reading a book, especially one from a first-time author, you know you have a winner on your hands!

I am pleased to take part in Erica's fist blog tour and pleased to announce that she will send an autographed copy of The Bartered Bride to anyone in the US who comments on my blog this month and leaves a way to be contacted.

And, to whet your appetite, Erica is allowing me to post the entire first chapter below. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did, and rush out to buy a copy or order it from http://www.heartsongpresents.com/ or http://www.cbd.com/ I also hope you will check out Erica's great blogsite at http://www.onthewritepath.blogspot.com/ It gives a list of all those taking part in her blog tour, and she is starting a new feature called Three Ingredient Thursdays that I plan to check out each week. I just copied the recipe for Crockpot Turkey Breast and plan to use it soon.

And now, witout further ado--the first chapter of The Bartered Bride by Erica Vetsch:
“The idea’s preposterous, and I’ll have nothing to do with it.”
Jonathan Kennebrae bolted from his chair and stalked across
the office. “You won’t manipulate me like this. And I doubt
Noah or Eli will go along with the scheme either.”
His grandfather, Abraham Kennebrae, sat ramrod straight
behind the walnut desk. For a man confined to an invalid
chair these past eight years, his voice still rang with authority
and vigor. “I’ve spent a lifetime building up this family’s
fortune and power, and I want to die knowing it will continue.
If not through you, then through your brothers. The best
way to ensure this is to marry you boys off well. You act as if
contracted marriage was something new. It’s been going on
for centuries.”
Jonathan clasped his hands behind his back under his
coattails and stared out the window of Grandfather’s library.
Two acres of emerald grass stretched below to the shoreline.
Lake Superior spread before him, cobalt blue under an
azure sky. The Lady Genevieve, the family yacht named for
his grandmother, bobbed gently along the dock beside the
boathouse. Her white hull gleamed, her mast pointed to the
cloudless heavens. He wished he stood at her wheel, skimming over the waves, away from this incredible conversation.
“It’s all arranged, Jonathan. Three weddings, three sound
marriages, and the consolidation of four of the wealthiest
families in Duluth. And not only that, but it brings together
under one name all you need to control every aspect of this
harbor: shipping, grain, ore, and lumber.”
Jonathan turned and leaned against the windowsill. The
morning sun fell through the stained glass of the upper
windows, shattering rainbows on the Persian rug. He crossed
his ankles, trying to appear casual. “All arranged? You and
your cronies have everything mapped out? And Noah, Eli,
and I have no say? Have you decided who is to marry whom,
or were you just going to have us draw straws?”
His jaw ached, and the pain between his eyebrows increased.
An image of Grandfather and his bewhiskered, cigar-smoking
circle of friends bending over charts and arguing the relative
merits of their offspring wavered before his eyes. “I have no
intention of marrying an empty-headed showpiece chosen
by you. Are your grandsons no more than pawns to be
shuffled about at your command? Whose idea was this?” His
throat ached with the desire to yell, but years of training and
deference to the man before him kept his voice controlled.
“Now, lad”—Grandfather made a dismissing motion—“you
make it sound worse than it is.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible. I feel like a horse at auction.
Did you sell us to the highest bidders?” Sarcasm dripped out,
laced with exasperation.
Grandfather wagged a gnarled finger. “Don’t take that tone
with me. I’m still the head of this household. I made a sound
business decision for this family. You’ll accede to my wishes in
this. You’re nearly thirty. It’s past time you were married and
setting up your household. As a member of the aristocracy of
this city and this state, you have an obligation to marry well.”
“Shades of the Four Hundred.” Jonathan jammed his hands
into his pockets. “This is 1905, and your ideas are outdated.
This isn’t New York City. It’s Duluth. I’m not marrying
someone so I can be invited to better parties and promenade
through Newport every afternoon during ‘The Season.’ And
I’m certainly not interested in any female who wishes to
marry for those reasons either.”
“You couldn’t be further from the truth. You aren’t marrying
into the salons of Fifth Avenue. You’re marrying to gain
control of the harbor.” He waved his hand in a sweeping
motion toward the lake. “Control that harbor, and you control
millions of dollars. Control millions, and you control the
politicians in St. Paul and Washington. Control St. Paul
and Washington, and you control the power to make more
millions. Don’t you see it?”
“What if I don’t want to control the harbor? What if I’m
content with what I have: a solid business with an excellent
reputation and a sound financial base?”
“Then you’re a fool. You’ll have wasted everything I’ve spent
my life building up. Now is the time to strike. Of the four
richest families in Duluth, I’m the only one with male heirs.
Lawrence Brooke, Phillip Michaels, and Radcliffe Zahn have
only daughters. And don’t forget, a marriage to Lawrence
Brooke’s daughter brings not just the grain docks in the harbor
but the railroad that hauls the grain from the Dakotas, too.”
Jonathan ran his hand over his hair. “You still haven’t convinced
me. I don’t even know these women. Why would I
want to marry any of them?”
Grandfather thumped the blotter. “Stop being obtuse. I’ll
make it as plain as possible. You will court and marry the
daughter of Lawrence Brooke, you will gain control of the grain
docks in Duluth harbor, and you will do so before Christmas.”
“Before Christmas? That’s impossible. Christmas is less
than three months away. Isn’t that a bit quick?”
“Poppycock. I see no reason to wait. Waiting only increases
the chances that something will go wrong. We must act now.
You, as the eldest, will set an example for your brothers. The
twins will fall in line. And it isn’t as if the young women won’t
receive the benefits of a sound match. Wealth, status, security,
influence. What more could a woman want?”
Jonathan snorted. “I’m no expert on the female mind. I have
no idea what they want. But what happens if I don’t do as you
say? Or what if the woman won’t have me?”
“I will disinherit you without so much as a blink.” Grandfather
regarded him with glittering eyes. “I will leave my
fortune only to those grandsons who do my bidding. Those
who will not, receive nothing. I’ve already rewritten my will to
reflect the changes.”
Anger replaced the exasperation and unbelief in Jonathan’s
chest. “You cannot be serious.”
“I’ve never been more serious in my life.” Grandfather
narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips, causing his wiry sidewhiskers
to bristle out like a badger. “Do you care to challenge
me? The will stands as long as the girl is legally free and
morally acceptable for you to wed.”
Jonathan’s mind raced, and his muscles tensed. How dare
that old reprobate? Kennebrae Shipping was his. He’d run
the company, chaired the board, and overseen the day-to-day
operations for the past eight years. He, not Grandfather, had
expanded the fleet, brokered new contracts, enticed investors.
The company was his life. He’d be dead before he’d let anyone
take it from him.
A knock sounded on the library door. The butler entered,
a silver tray in his hand. “This just arrived for you, sir.” He
extended the salver toward Grandfather.
The old man took an envelope from it and turned it in his
“Will there be a reply, sir? The gentleman who delivered it
is waiting.”
Grandfather picked up his letter opener. He slit the heavy
cream envelope and read, satisfaction spreading over his face.
His fingers drummed the desktop.
Jonathan paced between the marble fireplace and the glassfront
bookcases. Grandfather’s words were no idle threat.
He’d disinherit Jonathan without so much as a by-your-leave
should Jonathan cross him. He had seen it in the old man’s
eyes. Galling, that’s what it was. To have a bride chosen for
him based upon her wealth and connections. And worse, to be
chosen as a husband based on his.
Grandfather leaned forward and uncapped the silver
inkwell. He dipped his ebony pen in the liquid and scratched
a few words on the card. “McKay, give the gentleman this.”
“Very good, sir.”
The door had barely closed before Jonathan whirled from
contemplating the oil painting over the mantel. “Do Noah
and Eli know about this?”
“No, of course not. I’ll tell Noah when he returns to the
harbor, and I’ll tell Eli when he returns from Virginia.
Though why Eli can’t learn shipbuilding right here in Duluth
is beyond me.”
“He wanted to learn from the best, and the best shipbuilders
are on the East Coast.” Jonathan rubbed his palm against the
back of his neck. How could he get out of this? His strides
measured the room.
“Will you stop pacing like a caged wolf? You’d think I was
asking you to go to the gallows.” Grandfather backed his chair
and wheeled it around the edge of the desk. A blanket covered
his stick-thin legs from hips to ankles.
Jonathan sagged onto the horsehair settee. “From what I
can tell, marriage and hanging have a lot in common. The
man ends up dangling from the end of a string either way.”
Grandfather chuckled then shook his head. “Where’d you
get an idea like that? Your grandmother, God rest her soul,
was a fine woman.”
“What about my parents? To hear you talk, they couldn’t
be in the same room without bloodshed. How they wound up
with three sons is beyond me.”
Sadness lined Grandfather’s face. “Your parents were both
high-strung. Always convinced the other was being a fool. But
they loved each other, in their own way. I thought they’d settle
down eventually. It’s a shame you never got to know them.
Your father couldn’t live without her. The carriage accident
was a mercy. He was never the same after your mother died.
And neither were you, though you were only four at the time.”
“I have no real memories of my parents, only their portraits
in the drawing room.”
“Those were your grandmother’s idea. Had them painted
from their engagement pictures. Thought it might be nice for
you boys to have them.”
Jonathan took note of the nostalgic look in Grandfather’s
eyes. If he could just keep him talking about old times, about
Grandmother, perhaps he would forget this nonsense about
“She was a saint. And what she ever saw in an old boot like
you, I’ll never know.”
“Hah! That’s just what her parents said when I came
courting. Never thought I’d amount to anything. But I
showed them. Built up the biggest shipping line on the Great
Lakes and built Kennebrae House for your grandmother, too.
Nothing was too good for her.”
“She deserved every one of the fifty-five rooms for putting
up with you.”
“Well, your new wife will, too.”
Jonathan blew out a breath. So much for getting Grandfather
off the subject. “I haven’t agreed to this madness. Anyway,
I think you’re assuming a lot. I haven’t even met this Miss
Brooke. We might not suit one another at all.”
“You’re both young and rich. You’ll suit one another just
fine. How do you feel about music?”
“I asked how you felt about music. An evening of music
and fine food.”
What kind of sidetrack was this? Jonathan put his guard
firmly up.
The old man had a gleam in his eye, an unholy sparkle that
boded no good.
“You mean one of those parties where the hostess shoves
her daughter onstage, and the poor girl scrapes away at some
writhing violin concerto or pounds out a tortured nocturne on
the piano while the audience tries not to wince or die from
boredom? And at dinner they make up compliments over
dried-out chicken and pasty potatoes until they can make a
graceful escape?”

“I hope it isn’t as bad as you describe.”
“What are you hatching?”

“The note that came earlier. It was an invitation to Castlebrooke.

Mrs. Brooke is having an evening of music and refreshments

tonight. I sent the reply that both of us would

be delighted to attend. And you’ll have ample time to study

your bride-to-be. She’ll be the one performing the tortured


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lots of winners...

Cherie J. is the winner of The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry. Christina is a winner because she has just completed a two month blog tour, gaining scads of new fans. I am a winner because I had 29 commenters this month (my second highest total so far) and all of those who posted on the book tour blog here or one of the other 30 sites this month still have a chance to win one of Christina's 10 giveaways, so let's hear it for all of us! >< Lots of hands clapping!

Check back on Wednesday, Nov. 4th to find out how you can win a signed copy of Erica Vetsch's The Bartered Bride in this month's book drawing.