Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Bald-Bottomed Chicken

No, it’s not some newfangled breed of chicken. It’s a brave little barred rock who fought off some mystery critter in the dark of night, probably an opossum.

Our chickens go to roost on top of their run at night and we have to go out every night and get each one to put them in the coop. We were being lazy a few nights ago and left them out. That was not a good idea and we knew it, but we were so tired! The next morning we awoke to a pile of fluffy feathers and a bald-bottomed chicken. She looks rather pitiful, as you can see. And she seems a bit embarrassed (I would be too!). But, she isn’t injured, and we are thankful for that.

It really got me thinking. How often have I been lazy on God? Let my study time with Him slip and my prayer life flag. Maybe forgot to ask Him for help that day or week. Then the devil swoops in and attacks me from the backside, leaving me feeling exposed and embarrassed. He sneaks into the weak crevices in my mind and plants ideas and feelings that aren’t the Truth. Takes me away from where I need to be a bit further. Those times are so rough and disheartening! The devil really has a tailored-to-suit arsenal for each one of us, doesn’t he? He always knows exactly where to get me so I feel even weaker.

But, there’s good news–my Father is still protecting me and keeping the devil from injuring me, even when I’m not where I need to be with Him. He loves me and wraps a protective arm around me, says, “No, devil, you can only come so far.” Like God gave boundaries to Satan as he attacked Job, saying, “Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand,” (Job 1:12), God doesn’t allow Satan to completely destroy me. And, it seems that through each of these instances where I am low and burdened and attacked from the rear (because that’s how the devil operates; he’s spineless and dishonest), in the end I come out stronger because He helps me, leads me, teaches me something new.  And, when I am ready to get up and fight off the enemy, He gives me the strength and power to do so. What a good and loving God I serve!

How about you? Is there a time from your life where you can relate to this brave, little chicken?

Don’t forget to sign up now for my newsletter! There will be TONS of exciting announcements and giveaways and updates about Callum’s Compass coming in the next few weeks!

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Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife: Head First

We weren’t really sure how this guy ended up in his predicament. Probably licking his feed bucket like it was an empty bowl of ice cream. However it happened, it was hilarious. We took video of him, and I wish I could find it to post here. As he walked around blindly, with the giant, sheep-eating bucket firmly planted on his head, he ran into everything. Thunk. Into the barn wall. Jangle. Into the fence. Crunch. Into the tree. “Baahh! Let me out!” We imagined he said. It was too funny not to watch for a few minutes, though. Our entire family stood, giggling for a bit, before my husband finally walked in and tugged him free of his plastic prison. He was so relieved! And thirsty and happy to be free. I wish you could have seen it!

Isn’t that like us sometimes? Don’t we see something we want and rush in without thinking of the consequences? Or, if we think of them, we reason the chances of problems are pretty slim. I’m sure that’s what our ram thought, too. He’d eaten from that bucket every day for years. Why not just put his head all the way in? Well, that didn’t work out so well.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen my goal and gone for it without stopping to pray. Simple things sometimes like buying groceries, or big things like purchasing a new car. Without praying, I run the risk of doing something against what God has in mind for me. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” It is so much easier to avoid unnecessary trouble when I remember to pray before I take a step. Or stick my head in a bucket.

I will see you next week with a second installment of Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife. I hope you enjoyed this first one and maybe even laughed a little. Life on the farm is a lot of hard work, but there is much joy in it too. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for important updates and special giveaways. We are getting so close to the release of Callum’s Compass! There will be a lot of big news I’d love to share with you in the next weeks!

Interview with Author Victoria Kimble PLUS GIVEAWAY!!

It’s the last Summer Spotlight Series interview. Can you believe it? My favorite time of year is right around the corner. I can’t wait for all of our fun family fall activities! I will be kicking off my fall series next week titled, Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife. I hope it will be loads of fun!

Our interviewee this week is author Victoria Kimble. Victoria is the author of The Choir Victoria KimbleGirls series. She is a wife, a mom to three girls, a full-fledged homebody, a so-so housekeeper, a mediocre musician and has dreamed of writing her whole life. She lives at the foot of the Rockies in Littleton, Colorado, and she will never take that for granted. She loves French fries, superhero TV shows and movies, and cats. She could probably love the beach if she ever spent any time there. Her thoughts live at www.victoriakimble.com.

The first three books in The Choir Girls middle-grade series, Soprano Trouble, Alto Secrets, and Harmony Blues are available on Amazon now. And book number four, Solo Disaster, releases October 6th!

SopranoTrouble_Kimble_FrontSummer McKidd is a bright, compassionate 7th grader. She has a good group of friends, which can be a hard feat for someone in junior high. She and her friends love to sing in their choir at school, and this is where her trouble begins. At the fall concert, her friends drag her into a mean prank and Summer is soon sentenced to nursery duty at church. When she walks into the nursery, she sees that the victim of their prank is also a volunteer. Summer begins a friendship with this girl but soon sees that she will have to choose between her group of friends and her new friend. Can Summer do what is right and keep her friends?\

What drew you to writing for children/YA?

Middle school is burned into my memory. There are a lot of things I’ve forgotten about my childhood, but I remember middle school vividly. So my heart goes out to every single kid who is entering the murky waters of seventh grade, especially the girls. I was not a popular kid during those years, so I spent a lot of time reading. Those books shaped much of my thoughts and beliefs about life. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to write stories for those kids who are deep in the trenches of middle school themselves.

What do you want children to learn from your books?

I hope every person who reads my stories has a “me too” experience. Those were my favorite stories. They still are my favorite stories. The ones where I connect with the characters or the situation on a level I wasn’t expecting. I hope middle school girls, especially, will realize that the situations they face every day in school and with their friends are situations that everyone faces. It is very easy to believe that you are the only one who feels a certain way, and if you feel isolated, then you can quickly feel shame. And that is so unnecessary. Every kid has those insecurities, and if kids truly understood that then they would be able to see that they don’t need to be afraid or ashamed of the things they are going through.

Have you always been a writer? When did you first know it was the career for you?

I’ve been creating stories since I was a kid. My first story was about a little alien I drew that I called a Whatzit. I quickly realized that I probably wasn’t going to be an author/illustrator, but the stories keep coming. I tried to be a journalism major in college, but I realized after the first year that I didn’t want to write news stories; I wanted to write my own stories. I’ve taken a couple of correspondence courses in writing fiction since then, and every time I did it just solidified my dream.

Who is your hero? 

I’ve always admired Robin Jones Gunn. She wrote the Christy Miller series, which had a huge impact on my teenage years. I’ve always wanted to write stories just like she does. Her stories are entertaining and lead people straight into a relationship with Jesus.

As a mom and a former middle schooler (ha!) I can totally relate. Middle school was scary, and I hope each of you moms out there reading this blog will consider reading Victoria’s books. They could really help your child (and maybe even you) cope with the not-so-easy moments! To celebrate the end of my Summer Spotlight Series, Victoria has graciously agreed to give away a paperback copy of Soprano Trouble!! Leave a comment below between now (Thursday, Sept 14th) and Saturday, Sept 16th, to be entered for a chance to win. One lucky winner will be drawn on 09/16 at 3 PM EST.

I’ll see you next week for the first installment of Farm Life from the Farmer’s Wife, featuring anecdotal (and often hilarious) stories from the farm! Sign up for my newsletter now and don’t miss any updates about the upcoming (and quickly approaching) release of Callum’s Compass, my debut Inspirational Romantic Suspense novel.

Interview with Author Gail Kittleson

Today’s guest on the Summer Spotlight Series is author Gail Kittleson. Welcome, Gail!

Gail Kittleson head shot

Gail Kittleson instructed college writing and ESL, facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats, and enjoys family in northern Iowa. In winter, she and her husband visit Arizona Mogollon Rim Country. Each young Iowa woman in Gail’s Women of the Heartland series has personal mountains to climb, and contributes to the war effort in a unique way. In Times Like These & With Each New Dawn await a sequel, A Purpose True in November, 2017

Her newest installment in the Women of the Heartland Series, With Each New Dawn, is available on Amazon now.

London – Summer 1943. To honor her husband’s sacrifice—and in hopes of learning WithEachNewDawn 500x750 (1)more about her father, a World War I vet—widow Kate Isaacs joins the Special Operations Executive and parachutes into Nazi-occupied France to work with the Resistance. Domingo, a Resistance saboteur, meets her drop, tends to her sprained ankle, and carries Kate to her first assignment. During a clandestine mission Kate finds herself attracted to Domingo, but as Allied forces push across France and the Waffen SS closes in, the pair must put aside their feelings for the good of the Underground Resistance. Will moral courage and righteous faith triumph over oppression? Or will Kate and Domingo lose everything, including their growing affection for one another?

What is it that fascinates you with the WWII time period?

That’s a great question. We may be here a long, long time! One thing that intrigues me is how people coped with such an enormous degree of uncertainty.  My mother, for instance, a high school student, waited for her two brothers to return from the infantry. The INFANTRY—that means it’s probably miraculous that both of them returned.

The other night in a book talk at an Austin, MN, book store, I met a woman who recalls being beside her mother when a telegraph arrived, telling them that her brother had been shot down over Italy. No official came to explain, offer comfort, or share their grief. They just received that horrible message and had to deal with it. Isn’t that hard to imagine?

Another aspect of this era is the drastic amount of change people experienced. Overnight, Midwesterners hurried to one or the other coast to work in munitions factories, shipbuilding, or any number of other occupations necessary to the war effort.

Right out of high school, young women joined the ranks of workers thousands of miles away from home and family. And their mothers handled the angst. A girl from our area went to the southeast to thread bomb heads. She was eighteen years old.

One of my novels, In Times Like These, shares its title with a hymn written by a WWII woman. In times like these, you need an anchor … that is for sure!

These days, we’re used to stress calculators, counseling and support groups. These WWII folks enjoyed none of the above. They posted gold stars in their windows when they lost a son to the war, marking their grief, and held services even though most often, no body came home.

I should probably stop there, but could go on and on. These make-do people took what life handed them and did their best to survive. My hat is off to them.

Who is your favorite character from one of your novels? And why?

You’d think I’d pick a heroine, but in In This Together, the lonely widower-next-door who longs to share Dottie’s life is probably my favorite. He suffers from post traumatic stress from his World War I service, but keeps its manifestations well hidden.

He’s a steady, reliable guy with a heart to help others, the first to volunteer when he discovers a need. And he does his kind acts for them, in genuine concern, not for any other reason. He’s not one to try to impress people, because he’s self-motivated and his values integrate naturally into his actions.

What more can I say? You’d like Al—you’d want him as a friend if he lived in your town, or to have your back if you were in a battle. He’s that kind of strong, quiet man.

So is George, a secondary character in In Times Like These. He’s a veteran, too, and a widower who now faithfully delivers the mail to rural customers, including Addie. But it’s her mother-in-law that sparks George’s interest when she emerges from grief with a taste for JOY!

Now that I think about it, Domingo in With Each New Dawn has a lot in common with Al and George—a completely different setting in S. France, and Domingo is much younger.  But his Basque faith heritage compels him to do what he can for others during the war. And he ends up committing acts he never would have considered doing in peacetime. I imagine some of them will bother him in older age, just as Al’s do.

Where do you find ideas and inspiration?

Everywhere. I’ve been reading WWII texts and stories for many years—perhaps some of my ideas originate in those. Often I’m not certain where the ideas come from, they just come and I feel compelled to write.

Inspiration… that could mean inspiration to continue. Just yesterday, a friend who goes to dialysis 3 times a week told me he takes along my books to read. That inspired me—I’d never have imagined him as one of my readers. And that WWII woman I met last week with the memories of her brother shot down over Italy—she inspires me. These stories need to be told, before the Greatest Generation has completely faded from  sight.

What can we expect next from you writing-wise?

I just heard the release date for the sequel to With Each New Dawn. On November first, readers can discover what happens with Kate and Domingo. Some have written me that there MUST be a sequel, because they need to know.

Endings can be many-faceted, in my humble opinion. With Each New Dawn ends with some things not totally tied up into neat packages. But that’s actually a microcosm of what Kate, Domingo, and Addie and our grandparents lived through during the forties.

The war dragged on and on…and on. Many Americans thought once they entered the fray, it would soon come to a close. But the fighting ballooned even more, and what could our troops do but keep plunging ahead through extremely ambivalent times? We’d like to wave a magic wand and make everything okay, but life doesn’t often work this way. That’s why I write historical fiction.

My characters slog through years of trepidation, months of days  not knowing if they’ll be alive by sunset. Even though we like endings that relieve our anxiety, historical fiction cannot always deliver that easy satisfaction. A bit of patience is required to see this saga through to the end.

The Women of the Heartland series will still continue after the final book of Kate and Addie’s stories comes out in November. The future books have their moorings in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, with strong women making their contributions to the war effort.

In one, a high school graduate starts working at the POW camp in Algona, Iowa, that housed many Nazi officers captured in North Africa. In another, a small-town newspaper editor seeks to solve a church basement murder—this genre is a new wrinkle for me!

Thank you, Gail! Everything sounds so fascinating! I agree with you that it sounds hard to believe and that these stories need to be told. What an amazing generation of people and an amazing collection of stories. I hope you will visit Amazon and check out all of these wonderful books by Gail. You can also learn more about her at her website, www.gailkittleson.com.

I will see you next week with my last Summer Spotlight Series interview, Victoria Kimble.