Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blog Tour: Sunflower Serenade

The title intrigued me. I love sunflowers and well, I grew up on a farm. My yearly "family vacation" consisted of living at the local fair for several days - "camping" in the dairy barn, sleeping on "straw bale" beds (or later cots).

So, the book, Sunflower Serenade by Tricia Goyer brought back lots of memories as I read the short novel.

The book is the 12th book in the series, created by Goyer, which features the adventures of Bob and Charlotte Stevenson as they raise their grandchildren on a working farm in Nebraska.

I'll admit, it's hard to jump into the middle of a series. Sometimes it's difficult to grasp the character development woven through the past books.

However, Goyer has created a family that seems "real." The problems faced by Bob and Charlotte, along with their grandchildren, are very realistic. You want to keep reading in order to discover what happens next. It's like peaking into the lives of "old" friends.

If you are looking for a book that's easy to read, on a sunny summer day, then check out Sunflower Serenade. If the rest of the series is like this book, you'll find yourself falling in love with this family - as they work through the ups and downs of life.

-----More About Sunflower Serenade -----

About Sunflower Serenade: A small-town summer...

The days are long and lazy, the corn is high, the sunflowers are in bloom, and everyone in Bedford is gearing up for the biggest event of the summer: the annual county fair. But when a Nashville music producer approaches Bob about using Heather Creek Farm to film a country star's new music video, he and Charlotte are faced with a dilemma. Will they allow the glamour and enticements of big-city life to encroach upon their peaceful home? Will the excitement of celebrity drown out the simple joys of summer?

About the Home to Heather Creek series...

Charlotte Stevenson's world is turned upside down when her daughter, Denise, dies in a tragic car accident. She ran away at eighteen and Charlotte has never forgiven herself. Now, Denise's children, abandoned by their father, are coming from California to live on Heather Creek Farm in Bedford, Nebraska.

Charlotte is uncertain about her ability to care for three grandchildren who are not thrilled to give up the beach and sunshine for snow and farm chores! But she sees a chance to make amends and will do whatever it takes to keep her fragile family together. Feel the courage, strength and commitment of this family as their lives unfold in the Home to Heather Creek series.

Link to buy book...
The books come in a series and you can order those at the link. However, if you just want to order Sunflower Serenade you must call the customer service number (1-800-431-2344).

About Tricia Goyer...
Tricia Goyer is the author of eighteen fiction and non-fiction books, including Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. Tricia writes magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia also enjoys speaking. She and her family make their home in Montana.

Contest...

Playing on one element of the book - big city entertainers vs. old county fair – the contest for this blog tour is City Girl Goes Country! Share your funniest story (about you or someone you know) about a time when you as the “city girl” goes to the country or “country girl” goes to the city. Enter the contest here: http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2009/08/sunflower-serenade-blog-tour.html

Blog Tour Schedule...
Visit the other blogs taking part in the book tour by clicking here.

As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reprint: Memories of Campus Ministry

(Editor's Note: I wrote this as a column, back in April, when the Rev. Omar Hamid Al-Rikabi's planned to visit the church, where I am the children's pastor. Omar - an Asbury Seminary grad! - is the executive director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Arkansas - Fayetteville. I'm re-printing this column today, in honor of the blog action day today, Aug. 4, for the 40 days of Prayer for campus ministry, which begins on Aug. 17. You can read more about it here: www.collegeunion.org/prayer)



I still remember the conversation I had with the Rev. Sid Robbins, standing in the parking lot of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, in Joplin, Mo. following a district youth event.

I was getting ready to start college and trying to “figure” things out. Sid (a pastor who had a heart for youth) gave me two pieces of advice - meet Chad Stebbins (who eventually became my college advisor and nurtured my love of journalism) and meet the Rev. Roger Nichols, then-director of the Wesley Foundation at Missouri Southern.

Like a pebble dropping into a pool of water - the ripple effects from that conversation would have life-long implications for me.

The Wesley Foundation - the campus ministry at Missouri Southern - became my “safe haven.” If I wasn’t pulling an all-nighter in the campus newspaper office, you could probably find me hanging out at Wesley.

The ministry was a constant in my life and gave me a safe place to explore the bounds of my faith. It also provided a safety net as I explored college life.

It also provided me with a ministry designed specifically for college students - as I struggled to make the transition from high school. I was a commuting student, living at home during college, so the Wesley Foundation became a positive aspect in my campus experience.

It was through the ministry of the Wesley Foundation that my call to the ministry - which began at camp as a high school student - was nurtured and given a place to grow.

The Wesley Foundation also introduced me to other college students through out our jurisdiction who had a passion for ministry. Ultimately many of us became the largest incoming class of “state school” graduates at Asbury Seminary.

On Sunday, April 26, you'll have a chance to meet the Rev. Omar Hamid Al-Rikabi, the director of the U of A Wesley Foundation (and a fellow Asbury Seminary graduate).

Through our apportionments, and our connection to other United Methodist churches/ministries throughout Arkansas, our congregation plays a role in helping Omar minister to students looking for their own “safe haven” on a college campus.

I’m very thankful for what Omar is doing at UofA, as well as all of the campus ministers working with college students throughout Arkansas.

While my Wesley Foundation was small - it no longer exists due to budget cuts within the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church - its graduates continue to impact the lives of students in a variety of ways, including, but no limited to: as youth pastors, high school teachers, college professors.

Hopefully Arkansas will not make a similar decision and cut funding to the Wesley Foundations throughout the state.

While the ministries may not be the "flashiest" or the "largest," as a friend (and fellow Wesley Foundation grad) Barry Sanborn (a 16+ year veteran of youth ministry) likes to say, the ministry will be consistent - in the lives of students constantly facing change.

May we never lose the constant presence of Wesley Foundations - and the message of Jesus Christ - on our state campuses.
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