Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Welcome Autumn (with Giveaway)!

Happy autumn, everyone! I'd like to start this post with the first two stanzas of the poem I wrote entitled "Seasons of Humility" (where the title of this blog came from):

All that remains of a broken dream:
Shattered leaves strewn on the ground.

Once so whole, so vibrant, so green,

Faintly glowing without a sound
As darkness surrounds.

Just dead gold and red left on the tracks

And flying by the window in the wind.

Words that say, "No more lookin' back,"

But turn around and it's there again:

A plea to send.

(To read the whole poem, click the tab above called "Seasons of Humility.")

About half of the poem centers on "autumn." In the seasons of humility, autumn is the hardest time to go through. It represents the seasons in our lives when we are desperately clinging to our own way, aching as we refuse to seek God's will and submit to His plan. We have so many selfish desires, and we have so many ideas on what we think would be best for us.

It's also the time in our lives when everything seems to fall apart. Our dreams fall and fade away, and we don't see how we can ever have any hope again. And we stare at those "shattered leaves," unwilling to deal with the heartache of surrendering to God and thereby failing to see the possibility of spring.

We all go through this over and over, as regular and visible as the change in seasons in the world around us. I'm struggling with it even now--that longing to hold onto what I think is the best for me. I was consumed yesterday with thoughts of my future, and at one point last night I decided to look at the "Careers" pages on some Christian publishers websites to see if they had any internship information up yet. And that's when I came across it: a job description that broke my heart. It seemed so perfect--a job as a publicist, coordinating author interviews and blog tours (etc.) and maybe even getting to travel. The job called for those who had certain majors, English being among them.

I cried.

I cried because I knew that I still had another two years or more of schooling, and that job most likely wouldn't still be open by the time I was ready. I was already really emotional yesterday, and that revelation was the last straw. I'm so, so thankful that I was able to call my mom. She told me she would pray for me, and she reminded me that I would be able to do whatever it was God wanted me to do. And she urged me to pray. What a comfort! I cried and poured out my heart, and I was reminded that the Lord does indeed have a plan for my life. I can see only bits and pieces right now, as my passions are being revealed like different artifacts at an archaeological dig--not all at once, but slowly being unearthed and coming together.

I know I won't understand it all now. God's perspective is so far above mine, and I can trust Him. I'm learning more and more about who God has made me to be, and I'm excited to see what He has in store . . . what He will do with all these little odds and ends that make up the things I love to do.

One of those things I've really grown to love is getting to know military men and women, their stories, and ways that I can encourage them. I'm so excited about the new turn "Mondays for the Military" is taking on my blog! I have met someone just recently who said he was willing to be featured on my blog for "Mondays for the Military," and I've been contacting the Coast Guard in my home county, as well.

Which leads me to the explanation of the header picture this season. This was a picture I took when I was in Washington D.C. this summer of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. That particular memorial is so deeply moving, and it was one I used at the end of one of the videos of pictures I compiled from the trip. I confess that one of the first things that drew me when I was trying out different pictures was how well this fit with the color scheme. I know it sounds shallow, but I really think that the somber tone of the picture contrasts well with the brighter background, and it really evokes the emotions that are part of this season of humility.

But most important is what the picture and the memorial itself stand for. On my last "Monday for the Military" post, Julia wrote (in regards to "meeting" military men and women on my blog):

"I would love the opportunity to encourage and to know how to pray for them. There are so many that have sacrificed so much. I was just thinking it so fits your blog because of the sacrifices."

How true! Humility is all about sacrifices, and the military is such a profound example of that. This picture represent something so powerful, I can't describe it. But I do think that we can indeed learn from and be moved by its message.


Well, I've really written a lot for today! I hope it wasn't too overwhelming; there was just a lot I wanted to talk about regarding autumn. I do want to add that there will be a new addition to the weekly schedule called "Fall Fridays," which will continue this sort of theme--talking about the literal season of fall as well as that particular season of humility. I hope you'll be able to join me for those days!

Also, be sure and check out the "Coming Soon" feature in the sidebar! I'm really excited about "Bluegrass Festival" weekend, and I have a couple of guests lined up for that. Plus, bluegrass just fits so well with the idea of harvest festivals and the like!

If you've read this far, thank you! I really appreciate your time. And to celebrate this new season (and to thank you for reading so much!), I thought it would be fun to do another giveaway! I mentioned this book last week for "Mystery Week," and I would like to give one of you a chance to read it. If you would like a chance to win my gently used copy of Under the Cajun Moon, here are the rules:
  • Leave a comment saying you would like to be entered, along with your e-mail address.
  • This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
  • Entries will be accepted through Thursday, September 30. A winner will be drawn on Friday, October 1.
  • You can get 2 extra entries by leaving a comment on the first "Fall Friday" post! *This will go up on Friday, September 24.*
  • You do not have to be a follower to enter, but feel free to become a follower if you would like to!
Here's a description of the book from the author's website: "What Secrets Can Be Found by the Light of the Cajun Moon?

New Orleans may be the "Big Easy," but nothing about it was ever easy for international business eti
quette expert Chloe Ledet. She moved away years ago, leaving her parents and their famous French Quarter restaurant behind. But when she hears that her father has been shot, she races home to be by his side and to handle his affairs—only to learn a long-hidden secret that changes everything she knew to be true about herself and her family.

Framed for murder, Chloe and a handsome Cajun stranger must search for a priceless treasure, one whose roots weave through the very history of Louisiana itself. But can Chloe depend on the mysterious man leading her on this cat-and-mouse chase into the heart of Cajun country? Or by trusting him, has she gone from the frying pan into the fire?

Following up on her bestselling Gothic thriller, Whispers of the Bayou, and Amish romantic suspense, Shadows of Lancaster County, Mindy Starns Clark offers another exciting standalone novel, one full of Cajun mystery, hidden dangers, and the glow of God's unending grace."


Note: The picture at the top of this post, along with the two new pictures in the sidebar, are ones I took on a nature trail here at Corban. Many of the fall pictures I'll be using in the near future will be from that same nature trail. It's lovely!

40 comments:

Julia M. Reffner said...

Amber, I'm sorry for your disappointment about the job. I know we all have the times when we realize God's timing doesn't feel like it matches up with what we think we see. And I've found like you shared that many times it is the comfort of family that helps us so much.

I don't know anything about bluegrass, but it sounds like fun. I'm looking forward to that and your Military Mondays. One thing I've learned over this week is about many unsung heroes in our society who go humbly about their way saving our lives and protecting us. I was never aware of just how many roles policemen have...and how many good men we have working in our court systems when the negative are emphasized.

Anyway, that is a bit of rambling for a Wednesday morning...gotta get some housework done.

Carmen7351 said...

I would love to win Mindy's book. Please enter me.
I couldn't find the 'Fall Friday' so I will write on the above. I've always looked at autumn as the later years of one's life, with winter being the end. But I like your analogy of doing God's will over our own.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Project Journal said...

Hey AMber,
Awww...I am truly so sorry about all the disappointment. It does sound like the perfect job for you! Lol...but I know (and I know that you know too) that through faith and prayer God has something good in store for you. Who knows, maybe they'll hire someone but then be terribly disappointed after a while. Then you can slide right in! I don't know what He has planned, but I know it'll be good because for someone with as golden a heart as you, how could He not?! Now it might not be with this company, but I think you know as well as I do that there are other jobs out there. That's tough to hear right now because that one sounds SO perfect, but that's not the only publishing company and chances are other companies are getting this same type of job too! You never know, Amber. Try to not let it bother you too much (it's allowed to for a bit because it's such a bummer). Then leave it up to God! Trust in Him, to know what's right for you : ) I think that's the best advice I can give ya! Lol.....

I was wondering if this book was part of a series? If it is, I haven't read any of the others, so I guess I won't enter. BUT if it's not, well I guess I'll try my chances : )

Oh by the way, I LOVE the new picture on the top!! This was one of my favorite memorials when I was in D.C. so thanks for reminding me of it!
Talk to you soon, hope this new day goes better for you!
*hugs*
Hannah
hccelie[at]gmail[dot]com

Ariel said...

Maybe something even better will come up :)

pinkdaddysgirl[at]msn[dot]com

Amber S. said...

Julia,

Thank you for your understanding. I confess that I truly was just an emotional wreck yesterday, probably having more to do with the time of month (can I say that?) than I would care to admit. However, I think I've just been challenged more and more to think deeply about things and about my future, and sometimes I just need to remember that God is in control and He has His own perfect timing for everything. And it's so true that comfort from family is a beautiful blessing! :) I'm so thankful for my mom and all of my family.

I'm really looking forward to the "Mondays for the Military" and the Bluegrass Festival weekend, too! Bluegrass is my favorite genre of music, and I'm really excited about the guests I have lined up for that weekend! :D

I can't imagine all that you've seen and been learning recently with jury duty, but I thank you for sharing your heart. While there's much I can't begin to comprehend about the sacrifices the unsung heroes make, I do understand some about the effects of having a close family member in law enforcement. My daddy has done so much for other people and worked so hard, it's astounding. And I can't even grasp all that he has suffered, as well. I truly respect and admire him for all that he has done, and I'm so blessed to love and be loved by him. :)

Anyway, good luck with that housework! ;) Thanks for stopping by!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Carmen,

Thank you for your entry! I really loved this book--it's an intriguing read! :)

That definitely is one way to look at seasons: the seasons of life. I love how the seasons can be applied in so many different ways!

Oh, and I updated the post just to clarify. The first "Fall Friday" post will go up this Friday (September 24), so you can get the extra entries by leaving a comment then. :) Sorry for the confusion!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Hannah,

You're so sweet! :) Thank you for the kind, encouraging words, as well as the very compassionate and sound advice! I really appreciate your understanding and your reminder to trust in the Lord. You are a great friend!

As far as the book for this giveaway goes, it is a standalone, so I'll count your comment as an entry. :) I really liked this book; it's a great read! And isn't that cover beautiful and mysterious?

I'm so glad you like the new picture--I loved that memorial, too, in that it really moved me and it conveys so much depth of emotion.

I hope your day has been great, as well! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Ariel,

Thank you for your hopeful and encouraging words! :) I know I can trust the Lord to fulfill His plans for my life, which are much more important and rewarding than anything I could dream up!

Thank you for your entry, as well!

~Amber

Julia M. Reffner said...

Amber, I hadn't realized that your father was in law enforcement. I know it doesn't quite fit in with military Mondays theme, but I would love to hear more about that on the blog sometime.

Casey said...

Well first of all, I have been wanting to read this book for a while, so please enter me. :) (Email in profile and your inbox :D)

Also, I think you and I might have been in the same boat recently. I didn't get to go to ACFW this year for their annual conference and I won't lie, it was hard. Hard to know what I was missing, what I couldn't participate in and so many people that I know and want to meet where there. I even blogged about it on Sunday. I understand where you are coming from. What you feel, as if there is so much ahead of us before we hit the end and the victory we have been seeking. I know how discouraging it can be to take one day at a time, when we know that the job or event that we really want could possibly slip through our fingers.

But the thing is, if we focus only on what is happening in the future, we miss the joy of today. The beauty around us, the lessons God wants us to grow in. I know that if I push my way to ACFW, I won't receive the full potential or it, because God hasn't said I can go yet.

Waiting is SO hard, I know how hard it is. But being in the center of His will is so much better. And I know since turning my conference attendance over to Him *again*, I have felt more at peace and enjoyed the pictures from the even so much more. God is doing wonders on my heart.

He will on yours too!

Great post, I am so glad you shared it. :)

Casey said...

My goodness! I wrote a novella!

Amber S. said...

Julia,

Yeah, I definitely have a lot of reasons to look up to my dad! :) Actually, he was in the military, too, so I could legitimately feature him on "Mondays for the Military" if he was willing. I'll have to ask him about that... ;)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Casey,

Thank you for sharing your novella! ;) I really appreciate your encouragement, and it's nice to know that we are at a similar point in life. :) I remember seeing your post about the conference, and I know where you're coming from. I get worried because I still haven't even finished my first manuscript (which I've been working on for a long time), and I wonder how long (or if I'll ever) get to the point where I can go to the ACFW conference and be a member of the group of wonderful Christian authors.

But you are so right! I had to realize that, too, recently--that God can use me right now for His own will. He has given me this moment, and I waste it by focusing only on the future and not how God can glorify Himself through me in the present. Instead of worrying, I can just work on my manuscript when I can, write blog posts when I can, encourage others, work hard, and be open to whatever God has planned for my life. :)

I'm so excited to see the possibilities available now, and I'm excited to see how each day reveals more of God's work in my life! :D We have so much hope in the Lord, through His grace! Thank you once again for the reminder that God can indeed do wonders in our hearts. May we be ever humble before Him!

~Amber

P.S. Thank you for your entry, too! This book is quite enjoyable. :)

Amber S. said...

Casey,

I think I wrote a novella, too, in response to yours! ;)

~Amber

Amanda said...

I don’t think I will ever look at fall the same way again! Amber, you described and captured our struggles so perfectly. I love your wording- it reads just like a devotional! And, I’ve loved your poem from the first time I read it, but after reading this post it has taken on a new meaning for me- deeper, richer, and I love it even more!!

I’m so very sorry about that job, my friend. It sounds like something you would be wonderful at. But, who’s to say that something like that or EVEN BETTER won’t be available when you’re ready and able? Fall is certainly a season of faith- faith in believing that what must be given up for a time WILL return once again and WILL be even more beautiful because of the wait.

I want to share with you a wonderful scripture verse my cousin shared with me this week: (Proverbs 16:3) “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary expounded on it so beautifully- “The only way to have our thoughts established is to commit our works to the Lord. The great concerns of our souls must be committed to the grace of God. All our outward concerns must be committed to the providence of God, and to the sovereign, wise, and gracious disposal of that providence. Roll thy works upon the Lord; roll the burden of thy care from thyself upon God.”

The Lord has a mighty plan and a special purpose for your life, and your living it right now in this very moment! Remember, you are where you are right now “for such a time as this” :D Praying for you!!

Blessings,
Amanda Stanley

Amber S. said...

Amanda,

Thank you so much for your kind words! :) This poem is near and dear to my heart. I'm so glad God blesses us with ways of expressing our thoughts, struggles, and hope--and that He gives us the means/words in which to convey them! He truly does know our hearts, and I can never describe how precious and wonderful that is.

And thank you so very much for your encouragement! YOUR comment reads like a devotional. :) I'm so grateful you shared that verse with me and reminded me of the need to trust God with everything--including our dreams. His plans are far better, in the light of eternity, than ours could ever, ever be. Also, I'm so glad you included that reference to Esther and MaryLu Tyndall's Surrender the Heart! :D You are so sweet to share a hug and a smile with me through your words!

God bless you, my friend!

~Amber

apple blossom said...

Oh, I'd love to be entered in this drawing thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Diane said...

This sounds like a great book. I signed up to follow you. Have a great week!

estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

Carole said...

Amber, I enjoyed reading your post. I was a music major many years ago, but could just as easily have chosen English because, although I have no writing ability, I loved literature. You're a good writer and willing to follow God's leading, so I know your gift will be used for Him in someway.

Mindy Starns Clark is one of my favorite writers. I loved her Million Dollar mystery series and also Whispers of the Bayou. Thank you for the chance to win Under the Cajun Moon.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Emma said...

Under the Cajun Moon sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

Amber S. said...

Apple Blossom,

Thank you for your entry! :)

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Diane,

This really was an enjoyable read! :) Thank you so much for becoming a follower, and thank you for your entry!

Hope your week is great, as well!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Carole,

Thank you! I really appreciate your encouragement and your kind words! :) And how neat that you were a music major. I love music, although I'm not really musically gifted. ;) Love listening to it, though!

This book is great, and I think you would love it! The setting is really intriguing, and the romance was sweet. :) Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Emma,

It is wonderful! ;) Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

LoriC said...

This sounds like a suspenseful book. I am unfamiliar with Louisiana, but I'm betting it is steeped with mystery. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks, Lori

squinterlori(at)yahoo(dot)com

Amber S. said...

Lori,

I think Louisiana makes such a great setting for a mystery. :) This book was quite intriguing!

Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

karenk said...

HI Amber...Happy Autumn to you, too. Enjoyed this posting very much...thanks for the chance to read Mindy's latest novel :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Amber S. said...

Karen,

Awww, thank you! :) Hope you have a wonderful autumn! I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Thank you for your entry! Mindy actually has another book coming out in October called Secrets of Harmony Grove, so that one will be the latest...soon! ;)

~Amber

Anonymous said...

Please enter me this in giveaway.

sonflower277(at)gmail(dot)com

Cindy W. said...

Enjoyed the blog and all the posts. I too would love to go to ACFW but haven't been released to go yet. I would love to be entered to win a copy of Under the Cajun Moon. Thank you for the chance.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Amber S. said...

Anonymous,

No problem. ;) Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

Amber S. said...

Cindy,

Thank you! :D Wouldn't it be so fun to go to ACFW? Hopefully someday, if it is the Lord's will. :)

Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

Christ is Write. said...

Hi! I'd love to be apart of this giveaway. My email address is tessaehall at gmail dot com.

Thanks

Tessa

Amber S. said...

Tessa,

Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for your entry! :)

~Amber

Sylvia said...

Oh, I love Mindy Starns Clark books! Yes, please enter my name in this giveaway. Carman sent me.

nina4sm[at]gmail[dot]com

Amber S. said...

Sylvia,

This is the only one of her books that I've really read, but I enjoyed it a lot! I'm sure her other books are great, too. :)

Nice to have a visitor from Carman's blog! :D She's so sweet to advertise these giveaways! Thank you for your entry!

~Amber

Pam said...

Please enter me. I love Mindy's books. Carman sent me.

pam(at)daysong(dot)com

Amber S. said...

Pam,

Thank you for your entry! :D

~Amber

Grandma Juanita said...

This sounds like a great book to not only help me learn but apply the truths to my life. Grandma Juanita
whisper97304@yahoo.com

Amber S. said...

Grandma Juanita,

That's definitely a great goal for any Christian fiction book. :) Thank you for your entry!

~Amber