October Giveaway

October 4, 2011 | My Jottings

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a giveaway on the blog, and I think it’s time for another one. Mainly it’s time for another giveaway because it’s autumn, my favorite time of year. The leaves are gorgeous and close to their color peak, and that makes me happy. Here’s a photo of some leaves in our area.Β 

Now tell me, if you were having a horrible day and you could go outside and see this, wouldn’t it lift your spirits just a little? Whenever I see a sight like this I almost always gasp, because the brilliance and beauty take my breath away.

If you had a blister on your heel because of some stiff new shoes, you could look outside your living room window and say, “Well, I have a blister on my heel, but look at those magnificent fall colors!”

If you were having trouble sleeping at night, there in the dark you could tell yourself that in just a few hours the sun will come up and you’ll be able to see those neon trees again.

If you realized you were out of your favorite coffee creamer and you didn’t have time to run to the store to pick some up, you could comfort yourself by going outside and breathing in the cool fall air and staring at the colors, until the coffee creamer didn’t matter anymore.

If you have marital struggles, financial lack, or health issues, you could sit quietly and take in the beauty of the fall colors. What good would that do? I don’t know how to explain it, but contemplating the beauty of creation while mentally placing yourself humbly before the One who did all this, helps. How it helps is up to Him. But sometimes a scene like the one above helps me to sit still, quiet myself and say, “Lord Jesus, I need you. I don’t know how to do any of this life stuff very well. Here I am, Lord. Help me please. I love you. Help me to love you even more. And thank you for all this beauty.”

If you don’t have any fall colors to look at where you live, try looking at some online. There are leaves blazing somewhere in the world right now and even a photograph can evoke some awe.

So in a nutshell, the fall colors remind me of God, of how much He must love color and variety, how trustworthy He is, how powerful, how faithful and how near. And I also believe that He’s teaching us there’s beauty in death, because that’s what autumn is, right? The death of leaves? And the coming of dark, cold winter.

Those of you who’ve read this blog for any time at all could be rolling your eyes right now and groaning, “Oh, there she goes again, always being reminded of God, always saying the same old things about trying to find meaning in every little thing. Yawn…..

If you thought that, you would be pretty close to correct. But there are a few things that don’t make me think of God. I don’t look at the plastic sleeve that holds a tower of saltine crackers and think of God. I can’t remember ever thinking about Jesus when the carbon monoxide detector sounds its piercing, deafening alarm at 3:45 a.m. to tell me the battery is wearing out. And when the Midwest weather is really hot and unbearably humid so that it makes the carpet smell like an old dead goat, I don’t recall finding a lot of spiritual meaning in that.

But the trees of autumn…..that’s a different story.

Back to the giveaway.

I’m giving away two books this month, both by the same author, Penelope Wilcock. I love to give away this book, because in my opinion it’s one of the best works of Christian fiction out there. If you haven’t read it, now is the time.

I read The Hawk and the Dove many years ago and within the first two pages was instantly entranced. Then I read it again. And again. And now I think I might make it my winter read come January.

If you’re like me and several people I know, you don’t love Christian books that are tidy and predictable. I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction that seems to follow this formula: Messed up people have big problems….then the messed up people hear about Jesus and His gift of salvation….then the messed up people say the sinner’s prayer….then their messed up lives get all cleaned up. The end.

I hate those kinds of books. Because that’s not real life. At least not the real life I live. I would never belittle God’s gift of forgiveness and His lavish love to us through His Son. But I think we do people a disservice if we imply in any way that becoming a Christian is the end of all their struggles.

So in The Hawk and the Dove you will see how some people lived their real, painful, boring, demanding, unfair, bumbling, blessed, humble and amazing lives, in the reality of God’s love and presence in the midst of them. I would never be a good book reviewer so I won’t try to start now — if you’d like to see what others have said about this work by Penelope Wilcock, click here.

Next, I’m giving away the sequel to The Hawk and the Dove. It’s called The Hardest Thing to Do, and it’s actually the first of three sequels to the first book. Once again, click here to see what people more articulate than myself have to say about it.

In my opinion these are books to own, not books to just be borrowed. I have lost count of how many copies I’ve purchased to give as gifts over the years. If you need a wonderful gift for a person in your life who’s a reader, start with The Hawk and the Dove and keep on going. Book Two of the three sequels is called The Hour Before Dawn and will be released in January, 2012.

All you have to do to enter to win these two fabulous books is leave a comment at the bottom of this post, and answer this question: What is your favorite thing about autumn? πŸ™‚Β  If you have never commented on this blog before, give it a try…I don’t bite!

Comments will be taken until 10:00 a.m. Saturday, October 8th, and the winner will be chosen randomly and announced later that afternoon.

I have a feeling that the winner might be able to have autographed copies of the books too. If I ask her, Penelope Wilcock might be willing to send personalized stickers, addressed to the winner and signed in her lovely hand, to put inside each book.

So come on. Don’t sit around trying to find spiritual meaning in the plastic sleeve from your saltine crackers. Don’t do it! Don’t let your smelly goat carpets get the best of you. I am living proof that this can be done. No one ever died from having carpets that smell like a dead goat.

It’s autumn. It’s time to look at the leaves. It’s time to hunker down with a cup of tea and a fire in the hearth, and devour a good book or two.

If you don’t have a hearth or any tea to sip, I can’t help you there. But I can help you get your hands on two books you will never forget….


  1. sue raimo says:

    Loved this blog post.

    For me, though the weather is cool, autumn evokes feelings of warmth. And feelings of warmth are associated with welcome and home.

    A partial listing of the warmth of autumn include –
    -The warm colors of the yellow, orange and red leaves

    -The warmth of glowing candles and fires in fireplaces

    -The warmth of spices, especially cinnamon baked into apple and pumpkin

    -The warmth of homemade soups and stews accompanied by freshly baked

    – The warmth of woolen sweaters, flannel pajamas, and quilted bed coverings

    -The warmth of family gathered around the Thanksgiving table

    I wonder if the warmth and feelings of welcome and home evoked by autumn are a foretaste of the warmth and welcome I will experience in my future heavenly home.

  2. Just Julie says:

    Sue, you said it better than anyone. I loved what you shared, and nodded at each one. Warm things shared by a warm, beloved friend. LY.

  3. Mary B says:

    Each of us has those things inside our hearts, huddled against the hope of our faith; those struggles or challeneges that nibble at our peace and joy just enough to leave us slightly hungry.

    Whether it’s physical pain, emotional distress, family conflicts or the abyss of the unknown, these bits continue to starve our souls unless we simply exhale those stresses and worries into the waiting arms of our Lord and God.

    Instead of running like a mouse in a wheel without direction and goals, it’s far better to sit back in hearth of God’s heart and peel off the layers of anxieties and trials until the glowing bud of God’s peace and joy springs new inside.

    All is in God’s hands, and in His time. Wait on Him. Rest in Him. Wash your soul in the coolness of God’s creation. Soak in the power of His presence where ever you may be. I am saying this to myself as I am master of worry and fear. I will trust Him. I will seek His face with each breath.

  4. Just Julie says:

    Mary – welcome, and so nice to meet you. Thank you for your beautiful words – they truly ministered to me. I am going to print them out and read them again and again. Blessings, Julie

  5. Naomi Howard says:

    I loved this post too! It reminded me of how I feel when I look up at a starry sky – that’s what reminds me of God the most. Just how BIG and POWERFUL He is , and I’m just in awe that He would love someone like me! Anyway, that wasn’t your question…

    My favourite thing about Autumn is the nights beginning to draw in, and it starts to get really dark. Living in Scotland, it’s more pronounced here than down south. I don’t enjoy the dark mornings, that’s another story. But there is something cosy about being inside in the light when night has fallen. Being able to light candles and really appreciate their light.

    It’s a time that encourages rest, and quality time with close friends. Unlike the summer, which brings with it the temptation to “do something” with the summer evenings, or the crowds of Christmas parties (both of which have their place). Autumn is a time to remember to “be”, both with others and with God.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Naomi – nice to meet you here – thank you so much for commenting. My husband and I visited Scotland four years ago and fell in love with your beautiful country. What you shared is so true – we live so far north in Minnesota that the darkness falls early. And since our summers are so short, I also see the hustle and bustle to “do something” that you mentioned. Fall slows all of that down, and yes, helps us to just “be.” I love that. Thank you….

  7. Alice Y. says:

    Hello! Lovely picture. My favourite thing about autumn is getting out the woollies. I have an underskirt of welsh wool, which keeps me toasty warm in winter and I look forward to the weather turning colder so I can wear it again. God bless.

  8. Just Julie says:

    Welcome Alice…I had to look up what exactly “woollies” meant! I too enjoy the changing from bare sandaled feet to wearing SmartWool socks, and bringing out my turtlenecks to wear in the fall and winter. Blessings!

  9. Heidi says:

    I just discoveredyour blog and I like it a lot. And I can relate to being reminded of God and finding meaning in all kinds of things – and to how other people can find it incredibly annoying …

    My favourite thing about autumn are the apples. It’s the only time of year we have Norwegian apples and they are so fresh, and when I buy some and put them in a bowl, the whole apartment smells of apples. I also think it’s funny that we get these lovely apples (and potatoes, carrots and all kinds of other vegetables) which are truly life giving, just when nature is dying – or at least going into hibernation. God is great at making contrasts.

  10. Just Julie says:

    Hi Heidi – thank you for commenting. So nice to meet you here. I love the apples too! In fact I was just saying to my husband that it’s time to make a big pan of apple crisp. Your observation about God’s contrasts was brilliant. I loved being reminded that a lot of these harvest fruits and vegetables are given at a time of death – wow. God bless you, Heidi….

  11. Linda says:

    Oh yes….so many warm wonderful memories of the Autumn months…..
    Will be treasure hunting for the perfect shape & colored leaves to press between waxed paper with my grand “dollies”…the only time I like to iron! πŸ™‚

  12. Just Julie says:

    Hi Linda! Isn’t it wonderful how we see the world in new ways because of our grandchildren? You made me smile about the ironing – I am firmly anti-ironing, but do think I could bend my rules a bit for ironing beautiful leaves for grandchildren. House showing today….be in touch soon! Thank you so much for commenting….

  13. Helen in Switzerland says:

    My favourite thing about fall is cold evenings and log fires and sitting and reading or knitting infront of the fire!
    Thanks for letting me enter your giveaway Julie!
    Love Helen

  14. Just Julie says:

    Yes, Helen – how could I have forgotten about knitting on a fall evening? So calming, soothing…and productive at the same time. I love your blog….I think everyone reading this should check out Helen’s beautiful quilt and knitting creations. πŸ™‚

  15. amber says:

    What I Love about autumn is the pattern of the dead leaves on the floor….so much life. And chilli and henna and tumeric and paprika colours creating firelight upon the streets, without the fire. My candles and lanterns come out from under the bushel and are hung bright and high guiding the way through the words, which inspire me in my little sanctuary that I have created just for me and Him. And then I rest within knowing that whilst the skeletons are still fading underground magic is happening. Autumn for me means going beyond life, through the doorway of death and out through the portal of beautiful budding spring. A blossom to behold where every creature dares to Love. God is Love. x

  16. amber says:

    And fairytales and milk warm and biscuits with cows on x

  17. Just Julie says:

    Hello Amber…thank you for your comment. I can tell you have the heart of an observer and a writer! God bless your week as you enjoy a beautiful autumn!

  18. Permelia Ehle says:

    What a wonderful post about my favorite time of year, and my dear friend Pen Wilcock’s stories. I am right now reading The Hawk and the Dove, and just wanted to say that the love and tenderness Pen portrays are filling my heart with joy. I too will re-read them many times, I’m sure.
    Living in north Central Florida, Fall and Winter are much more subtle than in the northern climes. I do often look at photos of the leaves turning and the snow provided to me by friends from those areas. So, for me, the sweet smell of apple butter simmering away in the oven, and the occasional fire in the fireplace are reminders of this special time. And in the evening a candle or two or an oil lamp on the table remind me of my precious Grandmother who always kept the homefires burning. Thank you for your lovely blog. So glad that someone else will be blessed by receiving Pen’s books. Blessings to you Julie. xoxo

  19. Just Julie says:

    Nice to meet you Permelia! I completely agree with you about Ember’s book bringing joy. I grew up in Southern California so we had to make the most of fall in a warm climate, much as you have described about Florida. We had very occasional fires in the fireplace, and lit candles and baked fragrant things to heighten the mood. Thank you for visiting and commenting…God bless.

  20. Paula Sullivan says:

    I enjoyed reading your ideas about contemplation, autumn leaves & just letting go. As I’ve gotten older, I realize the value even more than in younger years of just sitting with sewing or doing nothing but watching the weather outside while sipping on a warm cup of tea or coffee.
    We have wonderful displays of autumn leaves changing color in Tennessee. Spring & autumn are my favorite seasons in the hot & humid southeastern US.

  21. Just Julie says:

    Hello Paula – good to meet you and thank you for your comment. I have family in TN – they live near Camden – are you close to that? I so appreciate what you wrote and the value of sitting with sewing or doing nothing but sipping on something warm and watching the weather. Our culture has lost touch with this, don’t you think? Thank you for reminding me that it’s a valuable thing to sit and be quiet, observing and being.

  22. Jessica says:

    I love so many things about autumn. I love pumpkins and apples and candles and being able to bake again without overheating my house. I love the colors and I love how I can drive down the same street 87 times and never stop marveling at how beautiful the trees are. I love the crunch of the leaves on the ground. I love the smells and the warm sun and the need to wear a sweater but not snowpants. But mostly, I love the feeling I get when it’s a beautiful, sunny, colorful fall day and I can be outside and there is something that happens that touches my soul at its core. I’ve only ever met one other person that knows exactly what I am talking about. It’s a feeling of total peace and contentment and fullness of my soul. It doesn’t have a trace of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It doesn’t have a gloomy, can’t get anything done today feeling. It doesn’t have a hint of of frustration. It’s a filled up, warm, “I can conquer the world,” the world is God’s amazing place, feeling. It’s hard to articulate but it’s something that touches deeper inside of me than anything other than the Holy Spirit. And it’s just the weather. It happens sometimes on the perfect summer day too. But it never happens in the winter. =(

  23. Just Julie says:

    I think you might have met two people now who know what you’re feeling, Jessica. I could have written what you shared. Soooo true. You’re such a good writer… πŸ™‚

  24. Tauni says:

    What a blessing to read everyone’s comments. So many of them resonate with me. Looks like quite a few new readers too!! What I love about autumn is, pumpkins ~ the first pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks ~ okay, I am from So. Cal, so I can! But, I like anything pumpkin. I also like it where there are a few days ~ just a few mind you ~ when I can wear a sweater and not get overheated. I love sweater weather and that is what I miss the most about not living in the mountains anymore. The beginning of autumn is also the time when I most enjoy the approach of the holidays. I thought about you Julie on October 1, probably playing your Christmas music already!! It is the time of year I feel the closest to my dad, also the time of the year where his absence is most felt. Living at the beach in So. Cal. it is also the time when all the tourists finally go home and things quiet down here. I enjoy my walks on the beach much more, the coziness of snuggling with my hubby watching a good movie, or just enjoying our new home with a fireplace going (ok gas logs, but still) and talking into the hours of the evening. For me too, life is soft, I feel full and thankful, knowing God has all things under control. My new favorite fall treat is CBS!! Love you Jules!

  25. Just Julie says:

    Tauni – what a wonderful comment! You are so gifted at expressing yourself with the written word. We do have Starbucks here and I haven’t tried the Pumpkin Spice Latte yet. Believe it or not, I have not put on one carol yet this year Tauni. I’m getting scroogey in my old age. πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to hear more about your new place. And happy, happy birthday to a deeply cherished friend of almost 50 years!!! And yes….CBS is the most precious gift.

  26. Pat says:

    I love the North Carolina beaches in the Fall. The water is calm and a lovely shade of emerald green. The wind surrounds my face with the faintest chill. The summer masses of humanity are gone, replaced by the sweet sounds and sights of coastal life. The waves, the seagulls and the occasional sight of the fin of a happy dolphin, fills the senses and sings me into a peaceful silence. Ahhhh

  27. Just Julie says:

    Hello Pat…thank you for visiting and commenting. My husband are so anxious to visit North Carolina – we had a trip to Asheville planned and had to postpone it. You painted a beautiful scene with your words…God bless!

  28. Sophia says:

    I love, love, love Penelope Wilcock’s books, especially the Hawk and the Dove. I first read it when I was 15 and I enjoyed the fact the the girl in the book was 15 too. It is definitely a book to own because you’ll want to read and reread it, savoring every word. I’ve reread it so many times (and there are probably more times in the future). Such a thought-provoking and often heart-wrenching book that shows our true humanity so that we can better understand the depth of God’s love for us.

    And autumn is my favorite season! I love the reprieve from the heat of the Texas summer. I love the food associated with it…delicious soups and homemade breads and the anticipation of Thanksgiving coming soon. I love the clothes too…comfy pants and warm sweatshirts. And being able to curl up with a soft blanket and a good book. And my birthday’s in October. Autumn is the most amazing time of year.

  29. Just Julie says:

    Hello Sophia! A wave from MN to TX! You said so perfectly what The Hawk and the Dove is like. And a happy birthday to you this month! Enjoy your fall and thanks for commenting today….

  30. Carey says:

    It’s hard to put into words exactly what I love most about autumn. Like Spring, it’s a time of great change.

    After the sunshine and heat and the hectic pace of summer activities, Fall is a time for slowing down – a time to prepare the heart and home for the long dark winter that follows closely on the heels of Autumn. There’s always a little bit of panic inside of me, knowing that months of extreme cold and darkness are just around the corner. But before they arrive, God opens up His storehouses and gives us all an amazing gift – abundance!

    Everywhere I look, I see the hand of God…trees and bushes are laden with berries and fruit; amber waves of grain sway in the fields; the deciduous leaves put on a display of color that fills our senses with awe and wonder; the summer’s harvest of squash and potatoes and pumpkins are piled high at the local Farmer’s Market; the harvest moon seems to increase in size and intensity; the temperatures begin to fall and all of Nature inhales one last, deep breath.

    In one last flurry of activity, I make jam and stack it in rows in my cupboard. I cut down frost-blackened flower stems in my perennial garden and cover the beds with a protective layer of leaves. I fill the bird feeders and watch as the residents from the northern boreal forests make their annual pilgrimage down South. The days pass, the snow begins to fall and all of His flora exhales one last time and then slips into the long, white sleep of winter.

    Then I wait. And rest.

  31. Just Julie says:

    Carey, what you wrote absolutely transported me. Time to treat us all with a new blog post on your own lovely blog. LY.

  32. Ember says:

    We had a fab autumn day today. We took the Wretched Wretch down to the beach (a pebble beach here). I commented to his mother that a great thing about the beach is children can throw stones and shout. The Wretched Wretch liked this idea, but couldn’t think of anything to shout – eventually settling on “BEEEACH!!!” Happily he threw stones, shouting meanwhile:
    Very Zen, and kind of poetic. Apart from that I spent an inordinate amount of time teaching him to say (in a very hoarse, deep voice with a French accent) “Norbert Dentressangle” (the name of a European haulage firm).
    Autumn is precious because it’s still not too cold to go on the beach with its zen poetics and multi-dentressangles.

  33. Just Julie says:

    I want to meet the Wretched Wretch. And I would give my eye teeth to be able, this very moment, to see you saying in a hoarse deep voice with a French accent, “Norbert Dentressangle.” This has been a singular blog comment. πŸ™‚

  34. Ember says:

    PS – Sophia, you have such excellent taste in fiction! πŸ˜‰

  35. Larry says:

    Once the colors of His earthly creation have passed and it rests until the coming blooms, I am still amazed at the beautiful complex designs of each tree and other trees around or near the other. The twigs, branches, limbs full fill every design possible with squares, rectangles, triangles and a mirade of other shapes. They show all that he has given those that breath out a break before beginning anew in the spring, giving back into the life for all breathing animals and humans. The word tells us that it will be during this time before the buds bloom that He will be seen coming down from the Heavely Heaven for His Bride. This is the time that I also enjoy as I look up through the trees while driving down the country roads where I live.

  36. Just Julie says:

    Thank you Lar – I can imagine how beautiful your neck of the woods is at this time of year! I took your wife on a zipline today….and the Timber Twister!

  37. Patty says:

    Autumn brings to mind things from growing up in Pennsylvania, ‘mid the hills we love’ as my alma mater said.
    Apple picking and cider donuts, apple pie with warm cinnamon sauce, raking leaves into a huge pile and jumping in them and football games.

    Now it means fall fiber festivals, seeing friends I might only see at this time of year, and a new world of adventures with my Princess when I can see all the things of my youth through her bright blue eyes. Seeing her in her dad’s arms reaching high into the limbs of an apple tree for a perfect red Mac….well you know it’s just going to make me smile and make my eyes leak a bit at the joy of it.

  38. Just Julie says:

    I know exactly what you mean about seeing all these things anew through our grandchilden’s eyes, Patty. Cider donuts….hmmmm….never heard of them and I think I might like to try one some day. πŸ™‚ Thank you for commenting!

  39. Sharon says:

    See, if you didn’t cover up your wood floors with carpet, you wouldn’t have any old goat smell in your house. My house doesn’t smell like goat, and I have hardwoods.

  40. Just Julie says:


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