Going out with a Giveaway

I am so delighted at how fast this month flew by. I entered it with the dolorous viewpoint that I struggle with in wintertime, as you no doubt noticed. One of my coping mechanisms is to push myself to do something creative every day, whether I feel like it or not. Writing about a Day in the Life makes me notice the little things that are not dismal. Publishing posts about what I believe about God helps me to be accountable. Am I living like I believe what I said I believe? Or not? What would my children say about that, considering that my words and actions are statements of what I really believe, everyday…

Maybe you think it is almost fashionable to get depressed in wintertime. Let me assure you, nobody, not even a pessimist, would choose to walk through valleys of depression, whether it’s baby blues, hormonal upsets, or even the SADness resulting from lack of sunshine. It is not fun to feel like all happiness has fled, maybe forever, and howling wilderness is all that is left. It is even worse when your brain gets confused and cannot muster the strength to override the feelings like you have trained it to do. I told my husband one day, “I have a strong place in my mind, but I keep falling off it.”

I love the beautiful attitudes in Matthew 5. In my own words, these are the attitudes of the people Jesus gave assurance of his blessing.

  • I need help (poor in spirit).
  • I am incomplete; I am missing something; I am broken (those who mourn shall be comforted).
  • I cannot do what I am called to do; with His help I can (meek, inherit the earth).
  • I have empty places only He can satisfy; I am desperately parched (those who hunger and thirst).
  • I am here to be kind, whether others deserve it or not (merciful).
  • I cannot live separated from God, therefore I cannot excuse my sin (pure in heart shall see God).
  • I love harmony more than strife and being the top dog (peacemakers).
  • I am willing to die for love of the Righteous One (persecuted for righteousness’ sake).
  • I will not waver from the way of Christ, even though it goes against popular opinions and I am ridiculed (reviled falsely) for my loyalty.


The list itself doesn’t sound giddy with happiness and #blessedness, does it? Yet, the passage concludes with “Rejoice! Your reward is in heaven!” I think we seldom have a proper concept of being broken in a broken world. There is truth that Jesus makes us whole, but there is also the living that goes on in our imperfect situations, with our deceitful hearts that tend to stray away from wholeness. Jesus made it clear that we are in a good place, what the Amplified Bible calls “happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous –with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions”, when we are bowed down in utter poverty, begging Him for what we need. It’s a paradox of the Kingdom that is hard to describe, but if you have been there, you know it.

The beautiful attitudes have given me courage. They are not feel-good attitudes. They are attitudes that line up with what cannot be shaken, and so they are blessed. There may be months of frozen wilderness, but I know that there is a Faithful One directing the affairs of the whole Earth, and one small person’s wasteland is so amply provided for by the resources of heaven. Maybe you, like I do at times, feel that the flowers must bloom again or you will die. (I speak metaphorically, of course.) They will. Believe it.

Jeremiah, the prophet who wept his entire career, wrote the one of the most beautiful verses in the middle of his Lamentations:


You can hear him shoring up his soul on those verities. I, too, am staking it all on that!


And now, for the giveaway, I have a different idea from the normal giveaway. You already won when you left your comment during this past month. Because I was cheered and blessed by your voice, telling me what you thought, how you are doing, etc, I have something to give you. Remember my dahlia row in the garden? I have some bulbs to share with every one of you lovely commenters. I just need your mailing address sent to my email: dorcasp8 at gmail and I will send you a wrinkled, ugly looking tuber that will give you great bouquets of glory this summer. It is an allegory, okay? 🙂 I cannot tell for sure which bulbs are the ones like the photo, and which are solid crimson, so it will have to be a surprise for you.

(Thanks for walking February with me. Please don’t forget to email me your address. I think there are 25 of you. )


Winners and Celebrating, in Season and out of Season

I did the drawing for the winner of my giveaway. My method was convoluted and random, just like March weather, which has turned a little stinky cold, by the way. Still, this morning I awoke to only a dusting of snow instead of the three inches predicted for the first day of spring, so hope is alive and well.

Oh, wait, the winner. I looked at the entries and picked my favorite person. Actually, no, March might be that capricious, but I would never be. I love all of you who told me your favorite places and I wanted you all to win. I felt like you all deserved some books; I was really interested in how many of my friends are perfectly happy at home with their families. I did think that someone might mention the bathtub as their favorite place. Anyway, thanks for weighing in with your opinions.

usborne giveaway

The random drawing falls on the lovely Hillarey who commented:

“My favorite place in “de whole wide world” is : snuggled up with my man at the end of the day, kiddos fast asleep. It’s where I feel the safest and most loved.

My Alexei-who-is-three says, “I want dat train book!” I unabashedly hope to win! And now I must go corral the Alexei-who-is-three because he is helping himself to a snack.

PS- Your kids are charming!”

I am glad that Alexei-who-is-three gets his wish, aren’t you? I will put in an unabashed plug for my Usborne business here, saying that I can facilitate lots of free books for you with a successful Facebook or in-home book show. And no, I had no intentions at all of putting in an ad when I decided to do the giveaway. That just slipped in for your amusement. 😛 And books. I always give away books. It’s the loving thing to do.

Resurrection Garden

In other news, I have daffodils blooming in a vase on my kitchen windowsill and baby broccolis and tomatoes sprouting and 12 rows of wrinkly little pea seeds in the soft dirt of the kitchen garden. We also have a resurrection garden with green moss growing over the little flower pot tomb. We put a flat round stone in front of the tomb’s opening, ready to roll it away so we can put a lighted tealight inside on Easter. I was firmly under the impression that Easter was yesterday. At church I was so bugged that we didn’t sing a single resurrection song when it should be such a glorious celebration. Then we had some friends over for lunch and they said, “But it’s not Easter today!” So I rest my case that I am losing my mind. You may note that I am not “loosing” my mind, therefore all is not lost.

Our church choir gave a special program last night and I sat there with tears dripping down  my cheeks as I let it sink in again, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. How about you? Do you have special Easter celebrations that point to the empty tomb?


Because You Are So Nice: a Giveaway

I promised a giveaway back in the middle of February on the day after I skipped a post. It’s a penance and appreciation gift, as well as a celebration! Because we made it through the rough part of the winter and I had a collection of pretty fabric and an idea. Because I have so much (so many books) and I love to share them. Because you all are so kind and tell me about yourselves and how you look forward to reading what I write after I mention my insecurities.

This is a giveaway open to anyone, but if you are a man, I hope you have a woman in your life who wouldn’t mind you carrying a floral bookbag. Better yet, just give it to her.

First I will show you my Addy and her petalled skirt sewed onto a chipper spring shirt. She dances and twirls through her days (and tumbles and flips). This child is all-out, fizzy and full of pop. She can handle a skirt with many colors just fine. This photo was taken during a 5 second lull.

Addy in petal skirt

Here is the first book bag I made, unabashedly copying one I saw in a Craftsy ad. I decided to keep this one for myself since it was experimental and the one blue stripe is a little too dark, as my sister kindly pointed out when I asked her if it seemed odd. It needed wider straps too, to match the strips on the bag. These small anomalies are not a problem with 3 little bag ladies in the house. “Yook, it’s camofyaged with my dress!” (I will mourn the day the child learns to say “l”.)

Addy with bag

Then I made a small carry tote for Olivia to carry her Bible and Sunday school book, pencils and tissues, etc. to church. And an even smaller squat bag that Rita uses for treasures and bags of apple snitzes she likes to have on hand to sustain her in case she gets hungry. I am down to the last strips of these fabric patterns. There is enough to make something small and cutesy for a doll. The projects were so much fun that I neglected a lot of other things just to work on them. I hope we get to sew in heaven.

In the photo below Olivia holds the one I made expressly to give away. As you can see, it has the wider straps and when you sling it over your shoulder, it fits precisely under your arm at the side unless you are not grown up. Then it hangs down lower and you can dig in it while the strap is still over your shoulder. Inside it I sewed a special pocket so that you don’t lose your cell phone in the bowels of the bag while you are at the library. There is space for keys and a library card too. I am naming it Sprightly Spring Satchel.

Addy, petal skirt

As you can see, this particular bag will be stuffed with some goodies. I am just delighted to share some of the books I have collected from Usborne, those wonderful publishers of children’s literature. I will show you three books that will be in it for your enjoyment, but there will be a surprise title or two, depending on the interests of the person who wins.

usborne giveaway

Would you or someone short and cute in your life like to own these books? All you have to do to qualify for the drawing is comment one sentence describing your favorite place in the world. If you want to write an essay length comment with many sentences, great! But you don’t have to. If you feel shy about posting your real name, you can make up a pseudonym. But you can’t be anonymous. Just don’t forget what you called yourself! Anyone living outside the U.S. can enter the drawing as long as they have an address of someone in the lower 48 to whom I can send a package should they win.

The drawing will close on Saturday, the 19th of March, at noon. Let’s hear from you, my friends!

And the Winner Is…

Motz! You may be interested to know that I remember when my mom told me that he was born to the next door neighbors in long-ago Kentucky. 😛 For his entertaining comments, I say he deserves a frilly scarf. I will be in touch, Motz.

Random chose him quite randomly, I assure you. For those who want to try making one on your own, try youtube. I don’t knit, but there are crochet tutorials that are very thorough. Happy day, all! I am off to bake cookies and sing carols.

Give-away, Just Because

I appreciate you, every single one of you who take time to read my stuff that I have the temerity to put out there. I haven’t figured out blogging yet, whether it really is a good thing or a rather dubious platform for narcissism. E. B. White said, “To air one’s opinions freely is to imply that the demand for them is brisk.” Dear, oh dear, but what would he say to bloggers?

One thing I like is the feeling of connectedness with others. I like when I hear from another person who has walked in my shoes and made it; I feel grateful when something I write gives courage to another who is just stepping into what I described. Feeling all alone is, to me, the worst of the human condition. That is where I see the merit of the modern blog and the comments upon it. (Haha. You saw that coming, didn’t you?)

I have been writing for years, but it was nearly all private. I never knew how much fun it is to get feed back from readers. Recently I went on a scarf making spree with that ruffly yarn that one sees all over the place. It was so easy that I made three in a row and I decided that I want to give one away, just because I appreciate you. It isn’t complicated. Just that. Thanks for reading.

And in order to win the scarf, you have to comment. 😀 Tell me one thing about yourself that isn’t obvious to the casual observer. Of course, you could just say that you want it, or you want to give it away to someone, but that wouldn’t be quite as much fun, now would it?

My photographer was my seven year old, so we had a funny little trial and error photo shoot.


Oops, sorry Mama. I kind of cut off your head. (But that is the scarf.)


Oops. Giggle. I kind of did it again.


Uh-oh. Shall we try again?


Well, here we are, closer up. It’s a medley of colors, so it goes with almost anything.

I will choose a winner next Saturday and send the scarf out in plenty of time for Christmas. (And I am dreadfully sorry, but I want to keep the postage in the USA. If a resident of another country wins, I will gladly ship to a friend or relative.)

Nourish Cookbook Winner

I numbered all the shares and comments, then used a random number generator and the winner is…. Anna Huss! Congratulations, Anna! You had a 1 in 104 chance. I hope you enjoy the book. 🙂

For those of you who commented on how helpful this book would be for your family, I wish I could give you all one. Hopefully the links and information I provided will set you on the path to owning one for yourself. Thank you so much, all of you, for participating.

Nourish Cookbook Give-Away

This morning I am having a piece of mocha cheesecake for breakfast, along with my cup of coffee. What a way to start a Monday! I recommend it. At 330 calories a slice, this is actually doable, a recipe from my friend’s cookbook. This is what I am giving away. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Nourish Cookbook Cover

Here is a link to the book, along with resource lists, some recipes, and words from the author.

A few years ago, Esther and her husband started a long, grueling journey to find solutions for their little daughter who had been diagnosed with absence seizures. During a period of trying one medication after another, they were discouraged to see no real progress and the side effects of the drugs had changed their little girl into someone they scarcely recognized.

Around that time their doctor broached the subject of trying a radical diet change to see whether it would improve her quality of life. He explained to them that some epilepsy sufferers have seen significant improvement when they eat a low glycemic index diet, which is a carbohydrate-controlled diet, using only low glycemic carbs with an emphasis on fats and proteins. The glycemic index ranks foods and beverages based on how they affect your blood sugar level. It was a huge, scary shift for the Yoders, but they were willing to do anything to help their daughter.

Esther has described to me how her life was completely overwhelmed with the need to figure out foods that her little girl could eat and actually enjoy. She worked carefully with the doctor and a dietician, spending entire days developing recipes and tweaking them until they were delicious. I can personally attest to this, as I have been using recipes from her cookbook this past week. My friend knows how to cook!

All the hard work paid off when they found that after only three months, the seizures were gone and the medications were being slowly tapered off by the doctor. They became committed to the diet for the long haul, and Andria is now seizure free, off all meds. Nutritious food became her medicine.

The cookbook is beautifully done, with serving sizes and nutrition information included in every recipe. I enjoy just paging through and looking at the gorgeous photos. This book is a labor of love and encouragement to anyone who faces the gigantic shift of a lifestyle change with their eating habits, especially the low glycemic index diet. This is typically recommended for folks with diabetes as well as a sustainable weight loss plan. For the Trim Healthy Mama crowd, these recipes are actually quite similar to THM.

I am giving this book away for the specific purpose of spreading the word. Everybody knows somebody and word of mouth is a great way to share exciting ideas and products. You can download a free preview  here, which is the website for her bookseller. Maybe you know someone who would love to have this book, or maybe you are a collector of recipes. There are no requirements to qualify for the giveaway  except this:

Simply leave a comment here on the blog. To give the book more publicity, I have decided to give an additional chance to anyone who shares on Facebook. A comment or “like” on Facebook does not count, because it would be much too hard for me to tally. (EDIT: I am having trouble with keeping up with the shares. I thought facebook would tally them for me, which they do, but they don’t give me a list of the names, so just mention it here in the comments that you shared. I think I got all of them from the first 24 hours. Thanks. )I am pretty green on the matter of give aways, but I plan to leave it open until March 31. You have one week. Don’t be shy. 🙂


If you ever were a little girl with an autograph book in a Mennonite school, you may recognize the acronym for A Friend Always. Let me tell you, we really meant it, right up there with “Snow on the mountain top, The sun can’t melt it. I love you and I can’t help it.” Now I have gone and gotten all nostalgic.

My dearest childhood friend has accomplished a very big thing- She has written a book, a very special cookbook, no less! That is what I want to give away, one of her cookbooks, because I feel like a sort of honorary aunt, and I want to spread the word. 🙂

Esther became my bosom friend after my parents moved us from Kentucky to Pennsylvania. I still remember vividly the displaced feelings that went through my nine-year-old head. There were mountains on the horizon instead of flat farmland, our family bought a car, and I didn’t have to wear a black bonnet to church anymore. Everybody spoke English: Dutch was just for joking or for the occasions when you couldn’t think of the correct word. Then up stepped Esther and introduced herself and we found that we would be in the same grade, us two and a whole bunch of boys. We simultaneously fell in love with our genteel third grade teacher, worked hard to keep our grades up there with the boys, and wore matching dresses at the school picnics. After church we would play word guessing games (Really. How could I make that up?) and tell each other our tenderest secrets.

I loved to go to her family’s farm, help milk the cows, chuck the hay down the hay-holes, slide down the mountain of cobs in the corn crib. I said I wanted to marry a farmer, but she said no way! What are you thinking? When I think back now, it seems astonishing that we only lived in the same area for 4 or 5 years. Esther’s family moved to New York on a church planting assignment, and our sorrow was very great. I was now sole girl in a grade of eight boys. And they were naughty boys, or so I thought at the time. I think they have all turned out quite well. 🙂

At any rate, we decided that nothing would ever separate this pair of friends, and thus began the weekly letter exchange. Every Monday we would post our missives and by Thursday there would be a fat envelope in the mailbox. I remember proudly telling my family that I had written 13 pages one weekend. No doubt the boys in my class were especially irritating the week prior. 😉  I inflicted my longest strings of adjectives on her, sending her the overly descriptive missives of a wannabe author. She is a very talented writer, so I think we sharpened each other, because we tried so hard to make our letters engaging.

Occasionally we got to spend time together. There was a week in eighth grade when I took my books and assignments and went to school with her in New York. The farm there was even more exciting than the one in Pennsylvania. We had a glorious time, doing chores together and just cramming the days full.

The letters slowed down a bit, especially after we got married. I was astounded when she told me she was dating a guy who actually went to school with me in Kentucky. Small world. 🙂 Then the babies started coming, and we really slacked off, although her updates still totally make my day.

All that to say, she wrote a book, and I am so pleased for her, even though I had nothing to do with it. I will post links for that later, as well as how you can enter the give-away for it.

Joy Wins

Isn’t it sweet that the winner of my book giveaway is a lady who I used to clutch onto my nine year old, not-so-ample hip and carry all over the strawberry patch where her mother and big sister were busily picking? That the person I used to make sit still while I attempted to put wobbly pigtails in her blonde wisps is now a squeaky new mother who won “Keep a Quiet Heart” just tickles me. Congratulations, Joy!