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Thank a Farmer Today

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This week is National FFA Week. (And for those who don’t know – that’s Future Farmers of America).

ffa_logo_99x126The celebration means a little more to us this year. You see, my niece, Jessie, was very active in FFA all through high school and she is continuing to be active in her collegiate FFA chapter.

Thinking about FFA Week – about the future of our young farmers – drew my thoughts around to the farmers of yesterday.

One of the most hard-working farmers I’ve ever met also happens to be my dad.

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He came from a long line of farmers. In his high school yearbook under the line that asked what he planned to be, he simply listed a farmer.

And it’s what he did.

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He and my mother married young, moved away from their families, and worked on a variety of farms and ranches until they saved enough money to buy their own farm.

They lived on that land for fifty-one years.

Daddy worked hard and expected all of us to give our best as well. He was most often up long before the first rays of sunshine would streak the morning sky and could be found out laboring until there was no longer any daylight to work by.

In the summers, if I wanted to spend time with my dad, I went with him to irrigate. I accompanied him many times in his semi-truck when he’d deliver a load of hay (the sleeper in the cab was a perfect place for my baby dolls to ride.) There was a time when all the guys at the parts counter at the John Deere dealer probably knew me by name because I would ride along with dad to go on a parts run. He always bought an icy cold glass bottle of Coca Cola from the vending machine and we’d share it while we waited for his parts order to be filled.

My mother thinks Daddy was one of the few farmers who had a four-year-old in pigtails asleep on a pink blanket at his feet  while he swathed hay. I think he was probably one of many who spent time with their kids anyway they could, even if it meant having them underfoot while they swathed, baled, or combined. As I got older, I went from just tagging along to having chores to do, and then taking on more responsibility and work.

My dad didn’t just want to be a farmer, he needed to be a farmer. He loved farming, loved the land and loved his family – and to him they were all intermingled and entwined. Farming was as essential to him as air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. It was never a job to him. It was a way of life. His life – and all he ever wanted to do or be.

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What I learned growing up on a farm, besides how to precisely set irrigation tubes of all sizes, move sprinkler hand lines, and buck hay bales, was responsibility, loyalty, and perseverance. If things aren’t going just like you want, you don’t quit and walk away. My dad taught me that you figure out how to make it work. I learned all about multi-tasking, time management, and organizational skills by watching and working with my dad.

Lessons learned while I was working on the farm are ones you can’t find in a classroom, you can’t glean them from a Google search, and you can’t duplicate them without the experience that goes along with the lessons. Daddy taught me by example. By watching him, day after day, pour his all into what he loved, I learned so many life lessons that have served me well over the years.When people call me tenacious, I smile, because I learned it from my dad.

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For those of you who may not have seen a Ram commercial that aired a few years ago during the Super Bowl, I encourage you to watch it. It is a tribute to farmers – past, present and future.

 

 

When you do watch it, notice the farmer’s hands that are worn and with broken, split nails. Those hands look exactly how I remember my dad’s hands always looking. Always. His hands were rough and callused, weathered and worn. Most often there was grease staining his skin, soil embedded under his nails (the ones that weren’t broken or missing), and at least one knuckle would be scraped raw. As rough as those hands were, they were such a comfort to grab onto when I was a child and needed a little reassurance. A farmer’s hands seem to have the magical qualities of being able to pull a calf, repair a piece of equipment, and gently wipe away the tears of a little girl all within a morning’s work.

 

Being a farmer in today’s world is no easy thing. People have forgotten how hard a farmer toils, how much he brings to the table both figuratively and literally.  Farmers and ranchers, to me, are the ties that bind us to something infinitely precious that so often goes unacknowledged and unappreciated.

The next time you pour a glass of milk from the carton in your fridge, eat a piece of meat, crack open an egg, butter a slice of bread, or enjoy a juicy piece of fruit, stop for a minute and say thank you to the farmer who made it possible.

And if you have the opportunity to encourage our farmers of tomorrow, please let them know you appreciate them and support their dreams.

***

So God Made A Farmer – by Paul Harvey

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark.” So God made a farmer.

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So God made a farmer.

Executive Order 9066

February 1942 was a dark time for Americans. Ten weeks earlier, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, pulling the United States into a war they’d tried hard to avoid.
rooseveltOn February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066,  authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. (If you’d like to read the document for yourself, you can find it here.)
 More than 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent were detained in fifteen assembly centers in the spring of 1942, including the Portland Assembly Center.
Many of these people were born in America, some second or third generation Americans, but their place of birth became irrelevant in the coming days. Those living in the evacuation areas were forced to leave behind their homes, sell their possessions for mere pennies on the dollar, and abandon their businesses to report to assembly centers — or become fugitives in the land they called home.
My recently released sweet historical romance, Garden of Her Heart, details one woman’s plight as she has to choose between doing what she is ordered or what she knows to be right.

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Can forbidden love blossom amid the constraints of war?

The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese-Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

 

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Available on:

   

Excerpt:

“Please, Miko? Would you at least consider marrying me?”

She shook her head and tried to pull away from him, but he drew her closer, wrapping his arms around her and holding her. His breath tantalized her ear as he bent his head near hers. “Please?”

“I can’t, Rock. I don’t want to be the cause of you missing out on the love of a lifetime.” She turned her head to the side and pressed it against his neck. Unintentionally, she heightened the yearning that already pulsed between them. Forcibly, he relaxed his hold on her.

“Miko,” he whispered. “Look at me, sweetheart.”

Unhurried, she tipped her head back, drawn into the bright warmth of his eyes.

“Miko, if I didn’t want to marry you, I wouldn’t offer. I rather like the idea of spending my future with you. We have more going for us than many couples who wed. There is no doubt in my mind at all about your ability to be a good wife. Me, on the other hand…” His cocky grin brought an amused light to her eyes. “It might be challenging to be married to someone like me.”

A smile curved her mouth upward and Rock tamped down the desire to kiss her again, even with the pastor watching their every move.

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Last weekend, we received word that Captain Cavedweller’s grandfather had been taken to the hospital. So we dropped everything and made the three+ hour drive to see him.

We were so glad we did. What we didn’t know when we left our house was that he’d suffered a major heart attack that morning and wasn’t expected to survive for long. It was hard to to see everyone struggling to let go, even though it was best for Grandpa. He passed away about thirty minutes after we arrived.

At 88, Grandpa had lived a full life. As the family sat around, sharing memories, I learned some things about him I didn’t know. Like he enlisted right after high school and spent two years in occupied Japan following World War II.

Grief is hard. So hard. But like the quote above says, it is the price we pay for love. The more we love someone, the more we grieve their passing.

But even in the grief, there is still joy: in the the memories of a life well-lived, or family well-loved, of legacies passed down that can’t be taken away even when a loved one is no longer with us.

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Even in the depths of grief, there are glimmers of hope and joy.

I’m a firm believer that even though today might be trying / hard / painful / challenging / etc… something wonderful, something joyful is waiting right around the corner.

And when we switch our mindset from dwelling in what seems like darkness and focus on the light of the joy, our spirits are lifted and our burdens lighten.

May you go forward this week with glimmers of the joy ahead shining brightly in you.

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A few weeks ago I said I had some exciting news coming up to share with you. Well, here it is!

I’ll be in Atlanta, GA, for the RT Booklover’s Convention in May, participating in  what we hope will be a super fun event:

Magnolias & Moonshine — a Southern, Shabby-Chic Affair!
Friday Night, May 5, from 9:30 – 11:30pm

You can find out more about the event on our special Magnolias and Moonshine website.

  “Bling” up your best cowboy boots and join twenty sweet and spicy romance authors for a taste of the old south as they host the Magnolias & Moonshine County Fair. Play some fun games (like smash the tin can and fishing), win prizes and enjoy live music starring 2014 Georgia Country Male Artist of the Year, Thomas Fountain.

Be sure to visit an old-fashioned “Kissing Booth” where cover models will be giving out a bevy of Hershey’s Kisses! You can also enter the “Best Bling Boots” contest for a chance to win a blue ribbon for the best decorated pair! Or just sit back and enjoy the fun-filled evening that has something for everyone!
Early arrivals will be greeted with Apple Pie Moonshine (or lemonade) in a collectible, mini mason jar while they last, and the first 400 guests will receive a special commemorative tote bag ready to be filled with amazing swag that each author will be giving away. And everyone who attends will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win many door prizes that will be raffled off throughout the evening.
To keep up with news about the event, join the Facebook Page!

And if you’d like to attend the event, you can register with RT.

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The Magnolias and Moonshine series was created specifically for the RT Booklover’s Convention and has ten sweet and ten sizzle contemporary novellas, all set in Atlanta. The stories include cowboys, weddings, county fairs, reunited love stories, and much more. Step into the world of the South and hear the cicadas, taste the mint juleps, see the stars, and smell the magnolias.
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My contribution to the series is Taste of Tara.
For a while, I’ve been toying with the idea of a heroine who grew up in the Northwest but wants, more than almost anything, to spend time in the South.  When I was asked to participate in this series, it seemed the perfect time to bring the story to life.
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What’s a wannabe Southern Belle to do?

Pastry Chef Tara Tarleton doesn’t want much out of life except to have a successful career and someday visit the South. When the opportunity arises to spend a month on a plantation near Atlanta helping bring a living history event to life, she jumps at the chance. Filled with grand visions of channeling a southern belle, disappointment settles over her when reality comes to call. Plagued with allergies, humidity, and a creaky old house, she’s ready hand over her mint julep and return home. Then she meets a man who rescues her from thugs, bugs, and herself.

Life has taught Brett Cutler to enjoy one day at a time. That’s exactly what he’s doing when a beautiful girl runs into his arms as she tries to escape men intent on harming her. From that moment on, he’s ready to plan the next fifty years of his future. The only problem is the woman who’s captured his heart has no intention of staying in town.

Taste of Tara is a lively, fun read that captures the sweet romance of following your dreams, no matter where they may lead.

You can pre-order Taste of Tara for only 99 cents! It releases April 29!
You’ll find it at these online retailers:
Participating authors (in order of release days – the first is April 10):

Ciara Knight (Sweet)

Hildie McQueen (Sizzle)

Beth Williamson (Sizzle)

Susan Hatler (Sweet)

Lindi Peterson (Sweet)

Kymber Morgan (Sizzle)

Amanda McIntyre (Sizzle)

Lucy McConnell (Sweet)

Sharon Hamilton (Sizzle)

Lisa Kessler (Sizzle)

Kirsten Osbourne (Sweet)

Susan Carlisle (Sizzle)

Tina DeSalvo (Sizzle)

Raine English (Sweet)

Amelia C. Adams (Sweet)

E. Burke (Sizzle)

Melinda Curtis (Sweet)

Merry Farmer (Sizzle)

Shanna Hatfield (Sweet)

Jennifer Peel (Sweet)

 

 

Finding Joy

My incredibly talented and very dear friend Melanie D. Snitker is releasing Finding Joy – book 5 in her Love’s Compass series.  

From start to finish, the book kept me engaged, interested, and dying to know what happened next. The mixture of longhorns, a good-natured dog, a newborn baby, and characters that you cheer for to fall in love made for a fabulous read! Get your copy today! I absolutely loved this story!

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Sometimes, what looks like a dead end, is really a new beginning.

A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. Unable to find solid footing in his disrupted life, he returns to his family’s ranch, a place he thought he’d left behind for good. The scars on his face are a daily reminder of all he’s lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, despite his mom’s best intentions, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers.

Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. But if she’s going to avoid her parents’ judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker’s efforts at forcing her to leave. 

Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they just might find joy beyond measure.

Finding Joy is only $0.99
Now through February 19th
Check out the entire Love’s Compass Series
and experience the stories of faith, love, and family. 
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Melanie D. Snitker has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out writing episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, archery, target shooting, learning about essential oils, and hanging out with family and friends.


The authors of Sweet Romance Reads are throwing a Valentine’s Party  today and you are invited!
Join us from 2-8 p.m. (EST) for games, giveaways and a bunch of fun! I’ll share hosting duties from 6-7 p.m. (EST), so I hope to see you then! Don’t forget to invite your friends!
https://www.facebook.com/events/245363182564850/

Today through February 13, you can download Valentine Bride (Holiday Brides Book 1) for FREE on Amazon!
https://amzn.com/B01BN0N28M

 Two unlikely matchmakers

 set the stage for love…

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.

Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.

Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

“A cast of lovable characters who will not soon be forgotten!”
InD’tale Magazine
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The Book Fairy

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This sweet little book fairy resides in one of my flower gardens.

Despite the snow, she hasn’t given up her love of reading. On cold winter days, when she’s dusted with snow, I look out my window and imagine what adventuresome story has her so enthralled she doesn’t even notice the chilly weather.

What book do you think she’s reading?