Mondays with Michael

That’s what we called them.

Monday is my husband’s day off, and when the rare Monday came around that Michael’s pastoral vocation allowed him to be home with us, he would. Just the three of us: me, Michael, and Boo Radley.

IMG_1063“It’s Monday with Michael!” I would holler as I trotted down the stairs, unlocking Boo’s cage and setting free five pounds of furry fluff. Boo seemed to understand what those words meant, for he would kick up his heels in a series of adorable binkies at the announcement and race around his rug.

Then would ensue some of my favorite in-home sensory memories: the sight of my husband on the couch with a book in hand and a rabbit on foot; the earthy smell of barns mingling with living rooms as my husband replenished the rabbit’s stash of Timothy hay; the ridiculously soft feel of Boo’s fur against my cheek and the simultaneously sharp sting of one of his fine hairs landing behind my right contact lens; the loud, staccato rim-shot of my husband’s laugh reverberating up the stairs as Boo hopped, flopped, and plopped his way around the room; the gentle, muffled bass line of my husband’s murmurs as he told the rabbit what was on his mind.

IMG_5888Pets are confidants. They are keepers of our secrets. They listen attentively and love unconditionally through tear-storms, shouting matches, and fits of skulking. They snuggle us when we smell, kiss us when we have bad breath, greet us when we are grouchy, celebrate us when we don’t deserve it, and wait by the gate for us to come home.

Pets are gifts from a merciful, loving God.

And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:25 ESV).

IMG_2861God saw that Boo was good, and we are so thankful to have been able to share in his little life.

For this past Monday with Michael was Boo’s last. 

Our sweet bunny had been declining for months, but by yesterday morning, Boo was no longer able to stand upright for very long on his own. He kept falling onto his right side and was unable to get up without our assistance. We had thought perhaps he had an ear infection, and though the medicine was keeping the infection somewhat mild, his mobility problems were getting worse and worse. The vet confirmed that it was time, and my husband held Boo while he died.

We are sick from missing that little buck, but we are also grateful. While we were his caretakers, he in turn cared for us. He also managed to inspire a book, snuggle entire communities of people, comfort hundreds more, and bring laughter and cheer to thousands. If you are one of those thousands, then I am so sorry for your loss. xo

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Boo Radley (2012 – 2018)

Wondering why Alice…?

choir-featuredHi Katie,

I am contacting you with a question about something I read in one of your books.

First of all, thank you for your books, they are very engaging. I enjoyed reading The Choir Immortal, especially (as an LCMS member and choir member) your inclusion of relevant Scripture references!

On page 190, two characters have a conversation about faith and its testing. When Rebecca asks her mother, “God will never give us more than we can handle, right?” Alice replies, “…God never promises such a thing.”

I read the conversation a few times and then looked up one of my favorite Bible verses in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

As a fellow Christian, I have always taken great comfort in this and am wondering why Alice does not share this with her daughter?

Carla


Dear Carla,

First of all, thank you for your kind regards. I am blessed beyond measure that you read my books, let alone find them engaging. I pray that they will continue to be a source of encouragement for you as you turn their pages.

Second, what a thoughtful question!

If it helps, here is why I did not have Alice reference 1 Corinthians 10:13 when talking with her daughter about the burdens of illness and suffering:

Notice that the Apostle Paul, in this verse, is speaking particularly about God’s promise to give us a way out of every temptation. That is a promise to give us a way out of sinning, not suffering, and suffering is what Alice is specifically addressing on page 190 of The Choir Immortal.

If God never gave us more than we can handle, then we would never die. The mortification of our flesh is, literally, our being given more than we can handle. We cannot keep ourselves alive, and we cannot raise ourselves from the dead. So, we trust in Christ to handle the matter for us. We trust in His promise to raise us from the dead on the Last Day.

Alice knows this, and so, rather than encouraging Rebecca to put her faith in the work of her own (Doomed to fail!) hands, she encourages her daughter to put her trust in the sure and certain work of Christ’s hands — His pierced flesh, mortified for her salvation and risen for her justification.

Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but we are to take heart — not because we can handle what the world gives us, but because Jesus has overcome the world. Thanks be to God!

In hindsight, I do wish that Alice had referenced one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians during that conversation with Rebecca, but it is the second epistle that perfectly applies to their (and our) plight:

“[W]e were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

May God give us faith which trusts in His promises!

Yours in Christ,

Katie

Dear Cookie

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Dear Katie,

I just finished reading your 3 wonderful books. They are very hard to put down. I’m hoping you will take Emily to her baby’s birth. She was due in February, so I thought the book would tell the exact date. Are you planning on writing more about Pastor Fletcher and his flock? I just wondered where you came up with the names of your characters.

A sister in Christ,

Cookie


Dear Cookie,

Cynthia Irene was born on February 18, 2017. She is a delight to her parents, though her sister Becky is still deciding whether or not to keep her. Regardless of affection, the entire family calls her “Thia.”

Some of my character names come from my imagination, some come from country graveyard tombstones, and some come from my heart. If you happen to recognize a surname in Bradbury, it is my attempt to pay homage to a family name that I hold dear. For example, the “Compton” in Mrs. Arlene Margaret Compton Scheinberg is my own personal stamp on my favorite character (Compton is my paternal grandmother’s maiden name), and “Alwardt” is a surname from my hometown that I happen to like very much. “Ebner,” however, I chose simply because of its meaning — “judge, arbiter” — and it helped me remember Evan’s personality and function in the story every time I wrote it.

Whatever the reason I chose a particular surname, I tried to keep the balance of etymology exact to that of a small Methodist town in south-central Illinois that inherited a bunch of German Lutherans toward the end of the nineteenth century.

At this point in time, I have no plans to write more books in the Anthems of Zion series. The residents of Bradbury showed me such generous hospitality over the last eight years, and I hate to overstay my welcome. I do hope to write more fiction books down the road, but that road most likely will not lead me to south-central Illinois. But wherever the road does lead, I sure hope to meet you on it.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Katie

 

#WearTheRooster, Round Five

review |rəˈvyo͞o| verb [with object]

1 examine or assess (something) formally 

write a critical appraisal of (a book, play, movie, etc.) for publication in a newspaper or magazine 

survey or evaluate (a subject or past events)


 

If you want to be the next one to #WearTheRooster, you will need to write and publish a review of House of Living Stones and/or The Choir Immortal on one or more of the following platforms:

Concordia Publishing House’s website:

Goodreads:

Amazon:

If you have already written and published a review on one of these sites, never fear. Your already-published reviews still count as submissions. However, if you want to up your chances of winning, write a completely new review and publish it on a different site. Multiple entries (of different material) will be considered, as well.

What’s the criteria for winning? Simply, please the author’s parents. That’s right, Bob and Cindy Roley will be choosing their favorite reviews–one for each book–on behalf of their daughter. I happen to know that one of them is highly influenced by humor, the other by sincerity.

Happy reviewing, and be sure to post your “critical appraisals” by Friday, May 19th!

P1040416

 

#WearTheRooster Coloring Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who took the time to #ColorCogburn! I’ve never seen so many vibrant, varicolored cock-a-doodlers. I would like to wallpaper my kitchen with them.

Honestly, every rooster was so distinct in character and style that I had trouble choosing favorites out of the feathery flock, but in my humble (and subjective) opinion, these are the standouts:

Best Feet – Lucia Daenzer

Best Tail – Amanda Korthase

Best Middle School Rooster – Jack Brown

Best Teenage Rooster – Joanna Leckband

Best Series of Roosters – Charlotte Poyer

Best Russian Folk Art – Leah Koch

Best in Show – Christa Grabske

Congratulations, winners! Will you please send me your (adult) T-shirt size and mailing address through the contact page of my website?

If you want to #WearTheRooster, never fear. We still have two more contests to go before The Harvest Raise releases on June 13th. Look for an announcement soon regarding the next contest, and prime your typing chops.

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I mean, c’mon. Look at Christa’s shading.

#WearTheRooster Contest, Round Four

May I introduce you to Rooster Cogburn? He plays an important role in The Harvest Raise.

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It’s time to get out your colored pencils, markers, crayons, charcoal, and paint, Bradburians, because if you want to be the next one to #WearTheRooster, you are going to have to #ColorCogburn.

Here’s how:

  • download the free coloring page here,
  • have your way with it using your coloring utensil(s) of choice,
  • post a picture of the finished product on Facebook*, Twitter, and/or Instagram by Friday, May 12th,
  • provide the following link in your post: http://books.cph.org/anthems-of-zion
  • and use the following hashtags when posting: #WearTheRooster, #ColorCogburn, and #TheHarvestRaise.

All ages are invited to participate, though be forewarned: there are only adult-sized T-shirts available as prizes.

Happy coloring, Bradburians, and may the the most striking rooster win!

* If you have a private Facebook account, you will need to make sure the settings on your picture-post are public for me to be able to see it.

#WearTheRooster Poetry Winners

Alas, my heart and brain concur
That every rhyming word did stir
The blood within my small-town heart,
So much that I must now impart…

…the winners of our #WearTheRooster poetry contest!

Best Metaphor – Kristi Leckband

Best Trilogy Tease – Jane Jensen (via Mrs. Leckband)

Best Car Song – Alex Klages

Best Rhyme Scheme – Cambria Stone

Best Family Verses – Eliza Askins (and children)

Congratulations, poets! Please, send me your mailing address and T-shirt size via the contact page of my website.

Look for a colorful (hint, hint) announcement regarding the next #WearTheRooster contest tomorrow on Facebook.

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#WearTheRooster Contest, Round Three

If you like words and feathers bright,
Perhaps this second contest might
Excite your mind’s proclivity
For rhyming creativity.

The rules are simple, short, and sound:
Compose a poem, wide and round
Or thin and tall or square or sphere.
It’s not the shape that matters here.

What matters is the words you use,
The form and rhyme and script you choose,
And how it piques my poet’s heart
From start to end and end to start.

The content can be what you want,
But if I may be frank and blunt,
You just might want to spend some time
Expounding on a theme sublime:

Like what you love in Bradbury
Or who there you would like to be.
Or maybe write a clever ode
To Ben and all the lawns he’s mowed.

Whatever in the end you write,
It must appear in clear, plain sight.
Compose, then publish, tag, and share*
And you just might the rooster wear.

* Post your poem on your Facebook page (be sure to make it public), Twitter account, and/or Instagram account. Be sure to tag me in it so that I see it. Also, please use the hashtags #WearTheRooster, #ForTheLoveOfPoetry, and #TheHarvestRaise. Poems must be posted by May 3rd.

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#WearTheRooster Pie Winners

Well, the obvious flaw in this contest is that I couldn’t be present the very moment every pie came out of the oven. Oh, to feast on your delectable pastries with more than just my eyes! Thank you to everyone who participated. The pies looked scrumptious and oh-so-fun!

Before I announce the winners, may I introduce you to the judges?

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Eldest Niece, Elder Niece, and Youngest Niece

The winners of our second #WearTheRooster contest are…

  • Rachel Pollock – “I thought it was very clever and fun and funny.” –Eldest Niece
  • Emma Patterson – “It’s pretty, and I like the way she decorated the crust on the outside.” –Elder Niece
  • Heather Orr – “It’s creative and cute.” –Youngest Niece
  • Jan Hoge – “I love chocolate chips.” –Yours Truly

Congratulations, ladies! Please, send me your mailing address and T-shirt size via the contact page of my website.

And now…

If rooster garb be e’er your aim,
Fear not the end of this small game.
Instead, relax, dust off your pen,
And put to work your rhyming ken.

(Hint, hint.)

Look for an announcement regarding the next #WearTheRooster contest on Facebook soon and very soon.

 

Join My Launch Team!

Did you enjoy reading House of Living Stones? Were you ready to pack your bags and move to Bradbury after turning the last page of The Choir Immortal? Are you chomping at the bit to get an early peek at The Harvest Raise? Then, I want you on my launch team!

What’s a launch team?

It’s a posse of pleasant people who hang out with me online and help spread the word about the upcoming June 13th release of The Harvest Raise.

What does a launch team member do?

He or she reads an electronic advance review copy of The Harvest Raise, hangs out with me in a closed Facebook group, and spends the next couple of months getting family, friends, church members, hairdressers, librarians, book club besties, and people standing in line at Aldi excited about the conclusion of the Anthems of Zion series.

unnamedWhat does a launch team member get?

I’m so glad you asked. On top of receiving the electronic advance review copy of The Harvest Raise and admittance to the closed Facebook group, a launch team member also gets a limited edition rooster T-shirt, a map of Bradbury, a signed copy of The Harvest Raise, and…wait for it…a fowl towel.

 

Alright, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Individuals who like roosters and tractors and parsonages and pies. (Baking experience is not mandatory, but it is most welcome.)
  • fullsizeoutput_56acMen and women who look good in the colors yellow, green, and/or gray.
  • Bookworms who have already read and reviewed House of Living Stones and The Choir Immortal. (Reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, public blogs, and cph.org all count.)
  • Active members of book clubs.
  • Social people who have an engaging presence on Facebook as well as maintain a Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat account. The more social media networks the merrier, and if you also write for a blog–you just might #WearTheRooster.

If this criteria applies to you, then please apply your criteria here.

And finally, my dear Bradburians: I wish everyone could serve on this launch team, but there are a limited number of spots available for this particular task. If you do not get chosen by the team, I’m looking forward to hanging out with you on the pages of The Harvest Raise come June 13th.

Thank you for your help!