Fragrant Whiffs of Joy giveaway result

Well, that was a long week. Some of you kept saying “Is it too late to enter?” and I thought Friday took its good old time coming…

Thanks to everyone who joined the whimsical side of the giveaway! We have a winner! Congratulations to Betty Yoder, who will soon receive a free copy of Fragrant Whiffs of Joy in the mail.

I am the final stop on Dorcas’s blog tour, so now it’s time to choose the practical option. To order Fragrant Whiffs of Joy or any other book by Dorcas Smucker, contact her at dorcassmucker@gmail.com, or 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy sells for $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. Also available on Amazon.

A full listing of books is available here on Dorcas’s blog, along with a Christmas special that’s good through the end of December.

Thank you for your kind words in the giveaway about her blog and mine – we will probably like you for a long time now. And again, thanks for joining the fun!

Giveaway: Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

Update: As of 1:00 pm on December 1, 2017, this giveaway is closed.

Confession: Sometimes I need to be reminded that it’s going to be okay.

This is not the same thing as pretending it’s okay when it’s not, as I wrote in my last post – I mean I need to be reminded that it’s going to be okay in the end.

I’ve never been sure if I’m a pessimist or an optimist, because I try to put a good face on everything, especially if you meet up with me in real life, but hidden inside myself I’m often sure we’re all going down, boys. My husband, on the other hand, has more than his share of snark and cynicism, but underneath it all, a constant certainty that we’ve turned the corner. He’s relaxed, it’s going to end well, and life is good.

What do you call that?

I love his steady perspective and rely on it more heavily than anyone guesses (except him) (and sometimes not even him), but from time to time I really need to hear a woman older than me say that it’s going to be okay. What is the “it”? It’s mothering, pastor’s wife-ing, mistakes, canning season, science experiments in the boys’ bedroom, wintertime, life. It may not be easy, but it’s going to be okay.

This week I remembered why I love Dorcas Smucker so much as an author and a friend: she’s a beautiful optimist. The ugly kind of optimist is the one that denies any hardship or pain, but delights in throwing solutions around. Stop crying, hon. Chin up. The beautiful kind of optimist is the one who’s seen a lot, handled a lot, freaked out a lot, and come full circle to the satisfying rest of experienced living: not much is worth hyperventilating about. Relax, hon. Cry, breathe, smile. Try again.

Dorcas recently released a new book, Fragrant Whiffs of Joy, a fresh collection of the newspaper articles she writes for the Eugene Register-Guard. She’s stopping by here today (kum ba ya, my Lord) to share a copy with you.

When I sit with Dorcas, which isn’t nearly often enough, she usually has a cup of tea in hand. She’s been an important sounding board for me in writing, mothering, and letting go of shame.

The book itself is like a cup of tea: relaxing, fragrant, warm. She writes about her ninety-eight-year old father, her six grown children off to college, her blackberries, her jam-packed schedule, and her cats. She sends texts to the wrong people, wilts in the heat of summer, makes lists, buys too much fabric, assembles a pot roast to put in the oven. You can see her bustling around, loving people, laughing with children, canning grape juice. And saying, “It’s going to be okay.”

This book contains my best-of-the-best, all-time favorite Dorcas Smucker quotes, the one that has graced a chalkboard on my wall for two years: “This is what it means to be an adult, I think: to make peace with the life you didn’t foresee, to see spiritual significance in the daily repeated tasks, and to find fulfillment in doing them well.” That’s from one of my favorite chapters, “Love on a Plate and Fragrant Whiffs of Joy.” (p. 13)

Another favorite chapter, that kept me laughing upon multiple re-readings, is “Heavy Burdens in a Hot Summer,” in which Dorcas pulls back a memory of directing a Christmas play. One young girl acted the part of a poor mother clutching her baby through a snow storm. Dorcas writes,

She had one line to say: “Oh, I am so weary and cold.”

Thankfully I had a sense of humor, and the girl who played this part was not easily discouraged, because for some reason she could not recite that line. “Oh I am so tired and hungry!” she would say before collapsing into the snowbank: a pile of quilt batting from the sewing circle, covered with a white sheet.

“No, no.”

Back up the aisle I sent her. A slow turn, and toward the front again, into the wind: “I am so weary and tired!”

“No! WEARY and COLD.”

“Oh, I am so cold and hungry!”

I am not sure that she ever got it right, even on the night of the program. I should have let her ad lib, I guess, because she had the right idea. The original line is now seared into my memory, and I always think of it at times like this.

Sometimes, in certain seasons of life, it feels like we’re all weary and cold, fighting our way into the winter wind. Our shawl isn’t nearly enough protection, and we are about to collapse into the snowbank with the baby in our arms… It seems we will never reach the front of the church, and we certainly won’t hear the miraculous chimes when they ring in the steeple on Christmas Eve. Health issues, difficult relationships, financial stresses, caregiving – all of these can seem like trials that will never end. (p. 60)

I think you need this book.

If you’re interested in owning a copy, you have two choices: one whimsical and one practical. First, you may leave a comment below and be entered in a drawing to win one copy that Dorcas and I are giving away today. Second, you can order the book directly from Dorcas – that way it’s guaranteed.

Or you can try the first option first, and if that doesn’t work, go on to the second. That ought to do the trick.

Dorcas’s earlier books (also delightful) are available on her blog:

Ordinary Days
Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting
Downstairs the Queen is Knitting
Tea and Trouble Brewing
Footprints on the Ceiling
Sunlight Through Dusty Windows: The Dorcas Smucker Reader

To order a book, contact Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446, or dorcassmucker@gmail.com. Fragrant Whiffs of Joy is priced at $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. Discounts available for combination orders. Also available here on Amazon.

Would you like to own this book? Please drop a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.


I was given three copies of FWOJ – one to give to a blog reader, one to give to a personal friend who had a tough year, and one to keep. Giveaway will close in one week. Open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by random.org.

Update: As of December 1, 2017, this giveaway is closed.

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, that was fun…

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…and made a lovely addition to our soup at supper last night. Our bacon-potato-carrot-hard-boiled-egg-soup-with-a-little-chicken-and-parsley. {Yum.}

My online friend Beth linked to the turkey platter idea and my children had fun putting it together while the broth ran over and burned on the stovetop and the babies yelled for food and I called for Ryan to come home from his office in the next room so I could survive the final moments of dinner prep.

Meanwhile, in other news, the twins have taken mess-making to a whole new level.

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The SAD Regimen

Confession: I never could get the hang of January.

This year I am blessed. I have energy and focus and I love my life, but some days some days I worry myself sick over the silliest things, and I just can’t think of that WORD while I’m talking to my children (and so I stammer until they supply it for me) (multiple times in a day). Some days I can feel it like ghostly fingers: tendrils of SAD fear and fog creeping into my mind.

I have been here before and I remember how to cope, to live, to heal; and I know that I am loved and that spring will come again before I know it. So I hang in there, and I bless Jesus for conquering darkness. I make small goals for myself and do them—even just cleaning my bathroom or making that phone call. I eat protein and fruit. And I tell my husband how I feel.

Dorcas Smucker wrote an article called What Works for Me: the SAD Regimen. Read it, if you or someone you love has down feelings in the winter. It’s excellent advice, the best I’ve read on the topic for a long time.

April is coming!

Giveaway: Footprints on the Ceiling

Update: As of 11/26/2014, this giveaway is closed.

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Dear folks, I’m delighted to announce two things today—

First, Dorcas Smucker is paying a virtual visit to this spot {right here right now} as she makes her rounds on a blog tour, with our own private interview coming right up…

And second, she is giving away an autographed copy of her brand-new book, Footprints on the Ceiling, to one of you!

This is her fifth book. Some of you know

Ordinary Days
Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting
Downstairs the Queen is Knitting
Tea and Trouble Brewing (also available on Kindle)

All are worth your time… now, Footprints on the Ceiling joins the pack.

It’s a collection of stories drawn from real life in an Oregon farmhouse. Dorcas is a pastor-and-teacher’s wife and a mom of six. She writes about daffodils and mysterious spots on the ceiling, yellow teapots and foreign travel, frantic searches through trash cans and the irresistible Christmas Eve kitten (who wouldn’t stop yowling).

What I like about Dorcas is that she’s down to earth. She is at home in her house, her family, her skin; and while she is always interested in learning new things, she doesn’t reinvent herself or pretend to be something she’s not. But the best thing? She believes that all stories should come out right in the end. She blends ripping good humor with real-life wisdom, always set against the backdrop of that firm and quiet optimism.

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Today she’s offering a copy of Footprints on the Ceiling for free, to one of you readers. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment, and answer this question for me: What is your favorite book in the world?

(You are not allowed to say “The Bible” unless you really want to be stubborn–in which case be my guest–first, because it is the Ultimate Book: that’s a given and nothing else holds a candle to it; second, because I don’t want you coerced/ guilted into saying it; and third, because you would be missing the point, which is giving book suggestions to each other. Forgive this interruption.)

Dorcas blogs here, at Life in the Shoe. And now, as nearly face-to-face as we can get.

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Hi Dorcas. I’m going to pretend we’re chatting over tea… You write a lot about your children. What’s some of the most pure fun you’ve had in mothering?

There’s been a lot of fun but my favorite times are when we’re all in the kitchen, maybe eating, maybe doing dishes, maybe just hanging out, and there’s this snappy, loud, constant, funny conversation going on.  The older they get, the better the conversations get.  I sit back and just listen and smile.  One of my children’s friends said recently, “People don’t have these kinds of conversations at my house.”  So I know how fortunate I am.  Otherwise: there’s that adorable stage at maybe 18 months when they laugh at everything.  And the fun of dressing little girls in matching dresses and going off to church.  And going to visit adult children on their own turf.

Does it get easier or harder as they grow?

I think even the worst adolescent drama is easier than colic, and teenagers learning to drive is easier than getting up three times every night and also chiseling smeared mashed potatoes off the high chair.  However.  When the baby is asleep in his bed you know where he is.  And when the teenager is late coming home and won’t answer his phone, well, there’s no anxiety in the world quite like that. So things change, but the easy/hard question varies so much with each child.  And sadly, you still don’t get much sleep when they’re teenagers, what with midnight fridge raids just across the wall and noisy late-night conversations upstairs.  Erma Bombeck said there was a study that said women in their 50’s have trouble sleeping.  She said it’s no wonder–by that time, they’ve forgotten how.

Have any advice for young moms?

Maybe this should be my next book. 🙂  In a nutshell: if you show up and do the best you know, things will probably turn out ok.  You can chill just a bit, you know.  Not everything is a crisis.  However, if you’re the sort of mom who lets her child break the eggs in the grocery store and thinks it’s cute, please chill a bit less.  You’re the mom, after all.  So be the mom.  Ultimately, your own character is the deciding factor–your child will likely be a lot like you.  Also: read to your child for 15 minutes a day.  And answer their questions, although you’re allowed to ask for silence after the 85th question of the day.  You’re the mom, you know.  You make the rules.

I noticed this book is dedicated to Ben. Is there a book for each child?

I’m working my way down through the list, and it was Emily’s turn this time, but she wanted me to dedicate my first novel to her.  So I skipped her, and dedicated this one to Ben.

A novel? Really?

Well, I’ve kind of crossed the Rubicon there–I now HAVE to write a novel so Emily isn’t left out. The short answer is yes.  The “when” is far less certain.

I love the shoe theme in Footprints on the Ceiling! What’s your own favorite pair of shoes?

I love my white Clarks sandals in summer, and in winter my basic Naturalizer slip-on Mom shoes that look dressier than running shoes but still take me to town and prayer meeting and the dentist, in all kinds of weather.  And I can wear them with socks.  I also like my one pair of high heels but I seldom wear them because I lose my balance.  I wore them to a wedding last summer and told Paul beforehand that he has to stay close by at all times because I need to hang onto him so I don’t fall.  And later a young friend said, “It was so sweet.  Paul was just so attentive to you at the wedding….”

What’s the craziest thing about publishing your fifth book?

The agonies of editing, and the self-doubts.  Seriously, you’d think I’d be beyond ten minutes of deliberating over a comma.  And you’d think the nasty voices would stop–you know, the whispered “stupid stupid” “dumb dumb dumb” “shallow shallow” as I review each chapter.  I’m told there are writers [Harvey Yoder who wrote for CAM in particular] who pretty much scrawl a good rough draft and then let the editing crew take over and finish it.  I absolutely cannot do that, even when I hire an editor to go over my manuscript.

Any idea where you want to go from here?

So many ideas, so little time.  My next project is typing up and publishing my dad’s memoirs.   I’ll keep writing for the newspaper as long as they want me and/or I feel led to do that.  A novel, of course.  Maybe a compilation of blog posts.

How fun!!

Footprints on the Ceiling is available for $15 per book, postage included.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  US addresses only.  To send a copy to Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at dorcassmucker@gmail.com.  Also available here through Amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Now for the giveaway: What’s your favorite book in the world?

Open to US residents only. Giveaway closes in one week.

Update: As of 11/26/2014, this giveaway is closed.