The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Site for My Creative Writing

Contrary to appearances, I'm not missing or dead. :) I've been battling some things and have been busy as well.

One of the things that kept me busy was creating a site just for my creative writings. I enjoy writing stories and poems, and I liked the ones I had posted here, but I felt like they got lost amid all the other posts. So I decided it was time to create another site just for creative writing.

I've transferred my writings from this blog and have added a few more since. Check it out - Revka Writes,


Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Day to Remember

All is quiet. The children are sleeping but not snoring. The night darkness is friendly and comforting as it envelopes us. No terrors here – all truly is calm. The miles string along smoothly, so easily fading into the past that I lose track of how far we've come.

It has been a good day, one that makes me wish days could be folded neatly to rest beside kids' artwork, meaningful cards, and romantic notes in my personal treasure box. This would be a day I'd take out often just to finger its silky softness and smile at its watercolor beauty. A rare day unmarred by any discordant shriek or shrill, my memory will always recall the rich blending of love, laughter, and warmth that filled these hours.

I mentally put together and quickly discard numerous phrases, seeking words suitable to clothe the myriad impressions that so sweetly leave their mark in my subconscious. Words can be woefully inadequate, and it's a challenge to try to fit them together so that their jagged edges meet perfectly to form a smooth whole. The sentences I create to give shape to this day cannot be anything short of fluid if they are to even come close to sharing what I have felt.

As I wrestle with my mental puzzle, the last few miles slip silently by. The welcome sight of surroundings made familiar by daily travel pulls me from my reverie. I smile as I make the final turn into our drive, knowing that inside our brightly lit house waits the one whom I adore, the one whose love so richly colors my life with brilliant hues of warmth, understanding, acceptance, joy, sharing, giving, and forgiving.

Coming home to him is the perfect ending to a perfect day.


Journey Out of Darkness


I built a fortress, tall and strong -
Built it deep and built it long.
Built it so that I'd be free
From threats against my deepest me.

Bit by bit the walls grew high
Until they nearly reached the sky,
Sheltering, protecting, shutting out
Tears within and fears without.

I built a fortress but found on waking
I was locked within
a prison of my own making.

~ Revka Stearns

Not so long ago, my world once again grew dark. But this time, I had a friend who was able to see that I needed help and was able to help me understand that what I was experiencing was not normal, that I didn't have to fight it alone, and that I could get help.

Cutting out quite a bit, I'll just say that I did get help, and I'm very thankful I did. I'm no longer in that dark place, and I'm hopeful that I have seen the last of it for a very long time, if not forever.

I wrote the poem above in one of my dark times during the past months. I've shared before about the walls I've built and about my desire to tear down those walls. I'd shared some of the progress that I'd made in dismantling those barriers.

Today, I'm rejoicing in the fact that I've been able to identify and discard a lot of the reasons I had for erecting my fortress. I'm making great headway in finding the courage to be true to myself rather than trying to meet everyone else's expectations for me. And life is good.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Blog Tour: A Reluctant Queen

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity for providing a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review. The opinions contained herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

I've always loved the story of Queen Esther. I think most girls acquainted with the Biblical character do. After all, what's not to love? A Jewish girl captures a king's heart and is thrust into the position of queen. Her royal position, her faith, and her courage all combine to save God's people, the Jews, from an infamous plot to destroy them.

Since Esther has always been a heroine in my eyes, I was quite pleased to be given the opportunity to review A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf. As the author states at the end of the book, her story is based on the Biblical account of Queen Esther but does not strictly adhere to the familiar story.

While it can be difficult to keep a reader interested in a story with which they are already familiar, Mrs. Wolf had no difficulty in capturing my attention. I found A Reluctant Queen to be believable, tender, interesting, well-paced, and well-written. Although Mrs. Wolf does create a deeper, more loving relationship between the king and queen than is explicitly stated in the Bible, that adds to her story's charm.

I read the book in one sitting and then proceeded to re-read it four times in the course of the next two weeks. Yeah, I really liked it that much.

If you are offended if a Biblical story is retold with embellishments to the original version, you won't like this story. Otherwise, if you like clean novels with a blending of romance and intrigue, you'll enjoy A Reluctant Queen.

About the book: A Reluctant Queen is an inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.

See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.

Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity. More here.

About Joan: Joan Wolf was born in New York City but has lived most of her adult life with her husband in Connecticut, where she raised two children and countless numbers of assorted animals. Joan is the author of numerous historical novels including The Road to Avalon which Publishers Weekly lauded as “historical fiction at its finest.”

For more about Joan and her other books, please visit

Blog tour: visit the blog tour at Litfuse Publicity to find out what other bloggers think about this book.

Link to buy the book:

About the giveaway and party:
To celebrate Joan Wolf’s debut Christian Fiction title, A Reluctant Queen, Joan and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away A Reluctant Queen prize package worth over $150!

One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen
* A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf (for KINDLE)

To enter, just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, the contest ends on June 20th. Winner will be announced on June 21st during Joan’s A Reluctant Queen Book Club Party on Facebook (details below)! Hope to see you there – bring your friends!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Join the fun on June 21st!

Joan will be wrapping up the blog tour and Kindle giveaway promotion during her A Reluctant Queen FACEBOOK party on her FB author page. During the party she'll announce the winner of the Kindle, host a book chat discussion, test your trivia skills (Is Esther's story in A Reluctant Queen fact or fiction?), and more. Don't miss this chance to meet the author and make some new friends!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Free Piano Music for You - Arranged by Yours Truly

One of my blog design clients has become a good friend who frequently interacts with me on my Facebook profile. When I mentioned something about my playing the piano, she asked to hear some of my playing, and I said I'd share sometime.

True to my procrastinating nature, this exchange happened several months ago, and I am just now getting around to sharing my music. In 2006 (wow - 5 years ago!), I had the opportunity to record some of my favorite piano arrangements, including 5 arrangements I created.

I have now converted my arrangements to mp3 format and am making them available for you to download for free if you wish. Here's the link to download all 5 arrangements in a .zip file:

If you'd rather pick and choose, here are individual links, which will open in a new tab/window:

Thanks for all the support and encouragement you've provided since I started blogging in 2006.


Friday, April 08, 2011

Blog Tour: Money & Marriage

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity for providing a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review. The opinions contained herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Money management - what a hot topic, particularly with the state of our economy and the immense load of debt our nation (and many of its citizens) carry.

Although we have no choice but to manage finances throughout our lives, most people have no training in how to be a good steward of the resources with which they have been entrusted. Parents typically don't train their children how to manage money (my parents gave me some general guidelines over time), and most schools don't include this basic skill in their course offerings, either.

It's bad enough when you are single and have to suffer the consequences of poor money choices. When you get married and your financial decisions impact not just yourself but your spouse and children as well, inept stewardship has the potential to rip apart your family. Many marital arguments begin with a discussion of finances, and disagreements over money often weigh heavily in the decision to pursue a divorce.

If you think back to your engaged and newlywed days, you'll likely remember plenty of love and romance with little intrusion by hum-drum practicalities (like discussions about handling finances). But when the glow of new love wears off, the chore of day-to-day living begins to cause friction as your true self and that of your spouse is revealed. It is during this time that many newlyweds are often unpleasantly surprised by financial disclosures and the arguments begin.

In our family, Robert and I both been the primary financial manager at different times. I currently handle all of the family finances. I'm happy to say that we have been extremely blessed to have always had similar financial philosophies (frugal) and have rarely had any arguments regarding our finances. Unfortunately, many couples do not have such good experiences, often because of poor financial skills.

Personal finance expert Matt Bell ( has recognized that engaged and newly married couples are desperately in need of guidance regarding financial stewardship, and for that purpose he wrote Money & Marriage: A Complete Guide for Engaged or Newly Married Couples.

Although Mr. Bell's book targets engaged and newly married couples, it is full of solid financial advice which, if put into practice, will put any family on the path to a solid financial future. The worksheets he included in the book are useful without being overwhelming, and I like that his website includes a Resources section with links to download the various forms and guides found in the book.

The following are just a small portion of what Mr. Bell covers in his book:

  • Inside Influences: How Your Temperament Affects Your Finances
  • A Ten-Step Action Plan for Financial Success (one chapter per step)
  • Recommended Monthly Spending Guidelines (also available at his website)
  • Recommended Housing Guidelines (also available at his website)
I enjoyed the chapter that helps the reader identify his personality type and then describes how that personality influences your handling of money. At the end of each personality dissection, Mr. Bell includes a bonus tip stating what type of gift is most likely to be appreciated by someone with that personality. I found those tips to be revealing, true to my experience, and quite helpful.

I highly recommend this book not only for engaged and newly married couples but for anyone who needs a clear plan for managing their finances.

About the book: In this thorough and practical guide, financial expert Matt Bell helps engaged and newly married couples navigate the merger of habits, flaws, and attitudes about money so two can truly become one.

His writing is full of helpful advice, Scripture, and practical steps to gaining financial freedom together as a couple. Learn to use money in a way that minimizes disputes and maximizes marital happiness.

About Matt: Matt began his career as a radio journalist, with his work featured on National Public Radio, the NBC Radio Network, and several other networks. His reporting earned national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and United Press International.

Today, Matt is a full-time personal finance writer and speaker. He is the author of two books: "Money, Purpose, Joy" (September 2008) and "Money Strategies for Tough Times" (April 2009), both by NavPress. Matt has been quoted in USA TODAY, U.S. News and World Report, the Chicago Tribune, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, has written for, and has been a guest on WGN-TV and several nationally syndicated radio talk shows.

Matt holds a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where he wrote a thesis about the emergence of America's consumer culture and its influence on people's beliefs and behaviors.

Matt lives with his wife and their three young children in the Chicago area. Visit his website and blog at

Read other blogger reviews at the blog tour post.

Buy the book: available at

Great giveaway: Win a free financial session and $100 Visa cash card in the Matt Bell’s Nest Egg Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Money & Marriage, Matt Bell is giving away a Nest Egg Prize Package worth over $250. To enter just click on one of the icons below!

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

One winner will receive:

  • A Free 1 Hour Financial Session
  • A $100 Visa Cash Card
  • A signed copy of Matt’s Money, Purpose, Joy and Money Strategies for Tough Times

Enter today, the contest ends on April 11th. Tell your friends and be sure to pick up a copy of Money & Marriage – important principles whether your newly engaged or just celebrated your 30th anniversary.

Matt will announce the winner on his blog April 13th.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog Tour: The Mountains Bow Down

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity for providing a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review. The opinions contained herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

I fell in love with author Sibella Giorello's work when I reviewed her last book, The Clouds Roll Away. When offered the opportunity to review her latest book, I eagerly accepted. I have not been disappointed in The Mountains Bow Down, either.

As I discovered in the previous book, Mrs. Giorello's writing style is easy to read without being fluffy and offers the reader plenty of interesting facts, particularly in the area of geology.

Thankfully, Mrs. Giorello's attention to detail does not merely extend to scientific facts. Her settings and characters are meticulously developed, making it easy to feel as if you yourself were right in the middle of the story. She also shows a keen knowledge of character and humanity as seen through the eyes of her heroine, Raleigh Harmon.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Mountains Bow Down, and I certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

About Sibella: Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College. After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Find out more about Sibella and her other books at her website.

About the book: Everything's going to work out. Time away always makes things better . . ..

That's what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska. A land of mountains and gems and minerals, The Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who's hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance.

But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh's vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship's security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh's forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.

Engulfed by one of her toughest cases yet, Raleigh requests assistance from the FBI and receives her nemesis-perpetual ladies man Special Agent Jack Stephanson. As the cruise ship sails through the Inside Passage, Raleigh has five days to solve a high-profile murder, provide consultation for a movie filming onboard, and figure out her increasingly complicated feelings for Jack-who might not be such a jerk after all.

And that's only her work life. Family offers even more challenges. Joined on the cruise by her mother and aunt, Raleigh watches helplessly as disturbing rifts splinter her family.

Like the scenery that surrounds the cruise ship, Raleigh discovers a situation so steep and so complex that even the mountains might bow down.

Interested in learning more? Visit the blog tour post to find out what other bloggers had to say.

Ready to buy it? Find it on

In addition, you can start the series fresh with this great deal. Pick up a copy of Book 1 for your Kindle or Nook for only $2.99! The Stones Roll Away is the critically acclaimed award winner that kicked off the Raleigh Harmon series. Buy it now on

About the Facebook Party: Join Sibella and fans of the Raleigh Harmon series on April 5th at 5:00 pm PST (6 MST, 7 CST & 8 EST) for a Facebook Book Club Party. Sibella will be giving away some fun prizes, testing your trivia skills and hosting a book chat about the Raleigh Harmon books. Please RSVP and if you have questions you'd like to chat about - leave them on the Event page.