Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Celebrating the Carol Awards with a Giveaway!

In just over a week, the Carol Awards will be given out. When I get details for the live stream, I'll be sure to post it.



I'm really excited about it. Just getting to be a finalist is way cool. So I've decided to celebrate with a giveaway! Cause free stuff is fun.

With winter on the way (sorry to break it to you), I'm going to be giving away with super soft tulip throw blanket, a $10 Starbucks gift card and your choice of either Log Cabin Christmas, Snow on the Tulips, or Daisies Are Forever.

What you have to do is simple. Take a picture with Snow on the Tulips! If you have it, you're set. If you don't, I'm giving you almost a week to get it. Then post your picture to my Facebook page (not my author page that you may have liked, but my other one: https://www.facebook.com/liz.tolsma.9.) Send me a friend request if you haven't already done so. You can also email it to me if you don't have Facebook.

You have until 11:59 p.m. central time on Tuesday, September 23rd. I'll be gone to the ACFW conference, but I'll draw and post the winner here and on my Facebook page.

Thanks for all of your support along the way. I sure appreciate it! Show me a little love back and get a chance to win!! And pass it on.



Monday, September 15, 2014

Praying without Ceasing

In our devotions last night, the writer was talking about praying without ceasing. He referenced a story about General Stonewall Jackson. He was a very busy, important man who prayed without ceasing. Someone asked him once how he managed to do that with all of his other responsibilities.

He replied that he just made it a part of everything he did throughout the day. If he wrote a letter, he prayed that his words might be encouraging to the recipient. If he received one, he prayed that the words might be beneficial to him. If he looked out the window, he thanked the Lord for the view. If he thought about someone, he prayed for them.

And you know, I had never really thought about praying like that. I knew I was supposed to pray without ceasing, but practically, I didn't know how that worked.

I really like General Jackson's thoughts. When I'm preparing a meal, I need to be thankful for the food I have in my kitchen and need to pray for those who will receive nourishment from it. When I'm sitting down to write, I need to ask the Lord for guidance. When I pull my blanket up at night, I need to give praise for the warm house I have.

Already, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't prayed without ceasing today. Then again, I've heard that it takes 30 days to form a habit, so it will be something I have to keep working on. I want to make it a way of life, a part of who I am.

What a great way to remind ourselves of all we have been blessed with by the Lord and to come to him with each and every part of our day.

What does praying without ceasing look like to you?



Monday, September 8, 2014

Potawatomi State Park Day 3

Well, you got a break from the vacation stories for one week while we ran our WWII anniversary blog tour. I hope you enjoyed it! We had fun and plan on doing things like this from time to time.

Day 3 of our Door County camping trip:

Once Alyssa was awake and could watch Jonalyn, Doug and I went biking. As in off road. I've never really done that before. I managed to stay upright, thankfully, but was just as happy to be back on paved roads. It was beautiful, though and we enjoyed ourselves. While some might complain about the weather we had - too cool and cloudy - we thought it was perfect. We could enjoy all of these activities without getting hot and sweaty. And if you know me, I don't do hot and sweaty. I don't have any pictures of this because I was too busy trying not to fall over LOL!

Doug then took Alyssa kayaking. By the pictures they took, it looks like they had a good time.

We went into Sturgeon Bay in the afternoon. I had to pick up a few things in town, so we showed Alyssa where we stayed on our honeymoon (I'm sure she was impressed!) and did some shopping. Of course, we found a Yonkers and had lots of fun in there.

Once we came back, we had a small celebration for Jonalyn's birthday. As you know, we had our big family party over Labor Day, but we did want to mark that day. She chose pink cupcakes and enjoyed it when we sang to her - poor child must be deaf ;) And we are bad, bad, bad. I thought Doug had some pictures of our little celebration on his camera, but I can't find them :( And I didn't take any. Well, you'll have to take my word for it. We did remember the day.

We then began a rousing game of Bunko - we are wild and crazy, I know - before starting a fire and having s'mores. You can't go camping and not have them. They're especially good with other kinds of chocolate. I love it with caramel chocolate bars. My family likes them with peanut butter cups. We've had them with cookies and cream bars, too. And you can't beat them with Snickers. Have you ever tried s'mores with different chocolates? Which ones do you like?


Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 1939 - Germany Invades Poland

Welcome to the WWII authors' WWII anniversary blog tour.

For a chance to win ALL EIGHT novels featured on our blog tour, please visit each blog, collect the answers to the questions, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway on the BLOG TOUR PAGE . The contest opens September 1, 2014 at 6 am EST and closes September 6, 2014 at 11 pm PST. The winners will be announced on Monday, September 8, 2014.

To win the prize of ALL EIGHT books, you must collect ALL EIGHT answers. The winner must be prepared to send ALL EIGHT answers within 24 hrs of notification by email, or a new winner will be selected.
You can enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once each day! The more often you visit, the more entries you receive! However, you only need to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway once to be entered. But don’t forget…to win, you must have collected ALL EIGHT answers.


September 1, 1939, as told by Gisela Cramer, heroine of Daisies Are Forever:
 
I was a teenager in school when Germany, my parents' homeland and the country where we lived, invaded Poland. I'll never forget waking up that morning for school. My mother was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Her face was pale, her hands shaking.

"What's wrong, Mutti?"

My mother wiped her hands on her apron and took a deep breath before turning to me. "It has happened. War has come. Last night, we invaded Poland."

I sat down hard in my chair, not really understanding what all of this meant. "Why are you so sad?"

She bit her lip, then placed my sausage in front of me. "Eat up. Who knows how long we'll be able to get food like this. In the last war, the Great War, there was hunger. We didn't have enough to eat. And the boys went off and never returned. Or, if they returned, they were never they same. That is how it was with my brother Friedrich."

Vater strode into the room, a smile across his face. "Ah, you heard the good news?"

Mutti slammed his coffee cup onto the table, the dark liquid sloshing over the side. "There is nothing good about war. Never."

"We had to do it. England is seeking domination over Europe again, encircling Germany, meaning to cut us off. And the Polish troops crossed the border first. We had no choice but to protect the Fatherland."

Mutti pursed her lips before answering. "You can't trust Hitler's propaganda."

Vater shot her a withering glance. "Hush. Don't say such things. These are dangerous times."

All of this talk made my hands clammy. I pushed my breakfast away. "Will you have to go fight, Vater?"

He shook his head. "I'm much too old. Don't worry. I'll be with you."

"Don't make the child promises you can't keep." Mutti brought her coffee to the table and sat down. "I'm so frightened. Look at what happened last time. This time will only be worse." She buried her head in her hands. It had been years since I'd seen Mutti cry. Not since my sister died.

Vater held her and whispered into her hair, things I couldn't hear.

Though I was fourteen, all of this talk made me want to crawl onto his lap and have him soothe me, too. The knot of fear in my stomach tightened. "What do we do now?"

Vater touched my hand. "We go about our lives. Today is a school day, so you will go to school. And I expect you to help Mutti with chores when you get home, the same as any other day."

But September 1, 1939, wasn't any other day. It was a day that changed our lives forever. It brought us such sorrow and hardship as we had never known. And also a joy that I couldn't imagine at the time.

Question: How old was Gisela Cramer when Germany invaded Poland?

You can enter to win a signed copy of Daisies Are Forever! Follow the instructions below. This is separate from the main giveaway.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Potawatomi State Park - Day 2

Alyssa is a typical teenager and likes to sleep in. While she was still in bed, the rest of us had breakfast and decided to go kayaking. We had to take Jonalyn with us even though we only had two single kayaks. She went with me and sat in front of me because together we make the weight limit. It worked OK, but next time, I'm going to have her facing me. I kept whacking her in the head with the paddle!



They threatened rain later in the day, but the weather was fine for us. Cloudy and cool, but that way we didn't get too hot as we paddled.


There was some wind and out on Sturgeon Bay is was a bit choppy. We got some water in over the side of the kayak. At least we didn't tip over! It was so beautiful and peaceful and relaxing. What a great way to start the day. If only we could do that every day.

The forecast said a 90% chance of rain, so once Alyssa was up, we decided to head up to Fish Creek again for some shopping and dinner. It's fun to visit all the little shops inside these historic homes and buildings. We did come home with a pound of fudge - yum! Otherwise we browsed and touched (my BFF introduced me to the tactile pleasures of shopping LOL!) and enjoyed ourselves.



Then we decided to try something uniquely Door County - a fish boil. They have big pots of water over fires outside. The cook adds red potatoes, onions, and finally Lake Michigan whitefish to the pot. He told us the fish we were eating that night was either caught early that same day or the night before. Can't get much fresher than that!



The oil rises to the top of the water. At the very end, they add kerosene to the fire to overboil the pot and get rid of the grease.




We then went inside and ate the fish which they pour butter and lemon juice over, potatoes, onions, and applesauce.

Alyssa doesn't like fish, so she had a hamburger.

There are bones in the fish. We managed them alright. The problem was making sure there weren't any in Jonalyn's meat.

We finished off with cherry pie. Door County is famous for its cherries. The pie was delicious (yes, I went off the gluten free for it. And it was worth every moment of suffering.)

Do you like fish? How do you like it prepared?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Potawatomi State Park Day 1

We are back from a wonderful four days in Door County, Wisconsin. That's the thumb in the mitten if you're looking at a map. We camped at Potawatomi State Park, our first time there. Somehow or another, I managed to be incredibly organized, and we pulled out of our driveway at 10 a.m. We arrived in time to set up our campsite and have walking tacos before heading out on our first adventure.

We drove to Peninsula State Park where the American Folklore Theater is located. (They're going to be changing their name next year.) I forgot that it was so far from Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek, so we were about ten minutes late, but it didn't matter. We saw the play Packer Fans from Outer Space. It sounds corny, but it was fabulous. It's an original script and so funny. The actors are very good and the music was outstanding.



There were even a few surprises.

 You can see that Jonalyn was rather taken by the entire production.

 The Packers vs. the Bears. Guess who won LOL!
 


We really enjoyed ourselves. This is an outdoor theater. For all the rain that we had this year, there haven't been many mosquitoes. For the two hours we sat out there, I only saw one of the pesky critters. And no need for that smelly Off.

We drove slowly through the park on the way back to our campground, enjoying the sunset over Green Bay. It truly is a beautiful place. Door County has been called the Cape Cod of the Midwest.


All in all, it was a great way to end the first day of our vacation. Have you ever been to an outdoor production of any kind?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Little "Me" Time


That sounds so selfish to say, doesn't it? "Me" time. As Christians, as women, as Christian women, we're programmed to put others first. And yes, that's important. Commanded by Christ.
But sometimes, you just need a little "me" time. A little bit of time for you to refresh and to recharge. Even Jesus went away to spend time with his father. It's needed, even necessary. We become burned out too easily, especially in this world which runs at break neck speed. We give and give and give until we don't have anymore to give. We're exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So I took some "me" time this past weekend. Two dear friends of mine and I ran away from home and spent some quality girls' time together. We laughed, we cried, we prayed. We learned a little more about each other, discussed weighty matters and not so weighty matters.

And I came back a better person for it. I was rested and ready to take on the challenges of being a wife, a mother, and an author again. School starts again soon, and I'm ready to take it on.

I'm blessed in that I have a cabin that I can run to when I need it. I don't always have the time to go there. "Me" time often involves taking a walk so that I can pray or working in the garden for a while. It can be as little as five minutes (I once was the mother of toddlers) or as long as a week (in the past 25 years, that's happened once and technically, that was "we" time). However or wherever it happens, remember that it's important. A little "me" time makes for a better you.

Have you had a bit of "me" time lately? What do you like to do when you have the chance?