Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Exquisite Mystery

Prayer: the least and the most we can do
I've just finished doing something that made me feel bad. Really, really bad. I immersed myself in a vat of scalding pain.

Someone else's pain. The shell-shocked parents who lost their beautiful 24-year-old daughter to suicide with no warning. No symptoms. No good-byes.

The mom who went in to wake up her 21-year-old son for work and found him not breathing.

The writer friend my age who, out of the blue, suffered a debilitating stroke that will alter her entire life.

I immersed myself in their pain and I did it intentionally. Yesterday, today, and I'll do it tomorrow too. Over and over again.

Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe in Jeremiah 29:12: "Call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you" (NIV).

I have no idea how prayer works or even why. I just know that Papa God wants me to do it and do it a lot ("Pray continuously," 1 Thes. 5:17). In fact, there are over 400 verses in the Bible encouraging us to pray, every day in every way.

Prayer is one of those exquisite mysteries of faith ... that the Creator of All Things would actually want our input and for us to tell Him (even though He already knows) our desires and petitions blows my everlovin' mind. Yet He does. And He listens, just like He promised. My own experience has taught me that, and the recent experience of my friend Cheryl even further brings the truth home.

Cheryl works nights at a laboratory. She also plays piano for her church. Recently, Cheryl was asked to play for the funeral of a dear friend at her church at 11 a.m. on a weekday. She knew it would be tough, but she's not a complainer, so without saying anything to anyone about this sacrificial act of love occurring in the middle of her "night," Cheryl rushed home from work at 8 a.m. and set her alarm to awaken her at 9:30 in order to make it to the funeral on time. She collapsed into bed and was asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

But Cheryl was so wiped out that she slept right through her alarm. Oddly enough, she suddenly awoke for no apparent reason at 10:45 (the alarm had stopped ringing long ago), fully alert and ready to leap out of bed. She was able to throw on her clothes and apply make-up at red lights, making it to the church in the nick of time.

At the luncheon after the funeral, an acquaintance - not a close friend by any means - approached Cheryl. "I just wanted to tell you," the woman said, "that when I woke up this morning, I felt strongly led to pray for you. I don't know why, but I just kept praying that God would help you in some special way today."

Cheryl was amazed as she realized that the prayers of this woman she hardly knew had woken her up. Her prayers had served as the catalysis for allowing Cheryl to serve Papa God and her grieving friends.

Yep, prayer always matters. Whether we're praying for a casual friend for some reason we can't fully comprehend or for someone who is hurting so badly we must allow our hearts to break alongside theirs, prayer always matters.

When have the prayers of someone else made a difference in your life?  


Saturday, February 14, 2015

And The Winners Are ...

Valentine's Day hugs and kisses to the winners of sweet love, love love!

Or at least a book about it!

The following 3 lovely (get it - love-ly???) ladies have each won a copy of my newest book Too Loved to be Lost in honor of this day when we celebrate the greatest thing besides Godiva: LOVE!!

Congrats to:
Kim Morgan
Angela Chestnut
Pam Proctor
(Girls, please send me your mailing addresses so I can pop your prizes in the mail!)

Many, many thanks to all of you who entered the drawing; stay tuned for the next contest coming round the bend. (So if you haven't already subscribed to my blog, be sure to do it so you won't miss any giveaways.)

In fact, to show my gratitude for your support, a few others who aren't on the winners list above might just receive a surprise gift as well, as my way of sending a little BBFF (Best Blog Friend Forever) lovin' your way.

So in honor of this beautiful day we celebrate love, I'd like to close with an excerpt from Too Loved to be Lost

"Love: We can either embrace it or disgrace it.

It's not about all the good deeds we can do, the money we can donate, the homeless we can feed. It's not what we do, it's why. Because when our inside-out focus reverses to outside-in, we lose sight of our upward purpose and fall into a downward spiral.

Christ-servers don't do things for others because of what we can get in return .We do them to spread Papa God's eternal love. To love others into His warm, welcoming arms so they can experience His incredible, never-ending agape love, too."

May you experience a Valentine's Day filled with incredible, never-ending love, dear BBFF!


Monday, February 9, 2015

A New Dent in my Fender

Now this cake I can make! 
One of the chapters in my newest book, Too Loved to be Lost, is about colliding with difficult people. It's called, appropriately, "Dents in My Fender."

So of course a collision occurred this week. Papa God loves to bring home these lessons I think I've learned. Poetic justice. A brand new whopper of a chink now desecrates my shiny chrome.

First you have to understand that Harry, as I'll call him, is the only brother of a dear friend of mine who passed away just last year. I'm still mourning and missing her every day. So when Harry e-mailed out of the blue (I've never been actual friends with Harry, mind you; in fact, I've artfully avoided him for three decades) to ask if Spouse and I would come to his birthday dinner in two weeks, I didn't hesitate. Of course we'd come. My beloved friend would have wanted it that way.

One additional thing you should know is that Harry has never had many friends of his own. He's one of those Mensa-types who's so brilliant he can't function on a practical level. Certainly not on a social level. "Blunt" and "tactless" are the two words that best describe Harry on a good day. He loves to hear himself talk. The handful of times I've been around him in the past, he's offended me repeatedly with his dogmatic leftist opinions and droning insistence of the worthless banality of Christianity.

I knew this. So what happened next shouldn't have come as a surprise.

The day before we were to meet at a designated restaurant for Harry's birthday celebration, he e-mailed me asking if I'd make him a birthday cake. Did you catch that this happened the day before the party?

By the grace of Papa God, I resisted my initial impulse to blast him with, "Are you KIDDING me????? Can't you find someone who actually likes you to make your cake? Do you have ANY idea how busy I am writing feverishly against a book deadline looming over my head while working overtime at the rehab clinic to cover for my sick daughter, plus taking care of my 3-year-old grandson while his mother is down and out?"

Saved by a rhino-in-the-road prayer for supernatural grace, what did finally issue forth from my tapping fingers was, "Sure, Harry. I'll make you a birthday cake. What flavor do you like best - vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or carrot cake?"

He immediately responded that he didn't like any of those. Couldn't I make him a hummingbird cake? He had tasted one once and liked it.

"No, Harry," I painstakingly typed back. "I cannot make a hummingbird cake. I have never made a hummingbird cake. I don't have a recipe for hummingbird cake. Besides my shotgun isn't working and I'd have to use my bow and arrow. Those critters are so tiny it would probably take 10 to fill up a measuring cup. Here are your choices within the parameters of my capabilities: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or carrot cake. Pick one."

His reply was a link to a hummingbird cake recipe.

"Give me patience, Lord," I prayed. I knew that hasty words spoken in anger would make the best retort I would ever regret.

Taking a deep breath, I wrote back: "Harry, I'm sorry but I will not be able to make you a hummingbird cake on such short notice. Here are your choices once again: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or carrot cake. Surely one of these will do."

He responded that he didn't like any of them. Vanilla was too blah, chocolate made him retch, and he abhorred icing of any kind, especially strawberry flavored and cream cheese frosting. Then came the request that completely turned the tide. "Can't you make a carrot cake but substitute pineapples for carrots?"

Okay, that one made me laugh. Thankfully, the inanity of this whole transaction eclipsed my irritation and after that, everything became hilarious fodder for Spouse and me to begin enjoying the absurdity it all.  My attitude toward Harry changed for the better. I was able to see him with more compassion and subsequently treat him with more tolerance.

Even when I tried to talk him into letting me make Spouse's favorite dessert, Pineapple Comfort Food, which is an unorthodox but magical culinary delight of pineapple blended with cheddar cheese (in case you're wondering, this mouth-watering recipe will be included in the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook releasing this fall; hummingbird cake will not.)

"No. Cake. It has to be a cake," was his clipped reply. "It's a birthday CAKE."

Even when we arrived at the restaurant and I handed him the Happy Birthday balloon I had made a special trip to buy and it immediately floated up to the high ceiling completely out of reach. "Aaah, It doesn't matter," he said, shrugging. "I don't like balloons anyway."

Even when, while attempting to blow out the candles, he spit all over the pineapple upside down cake I'd spent another special trip buying ingredients for and two hours creating.

But you know what? Despite everything I actually had a nice time and would do it again in a heartbeat. Harry felt loved and celebrated by his six guests (all of which, incidentally, were Christians - that means everybody present at the table except Harry were dedicated Christ-followers. Not coincidental, I think. More of Papa's poetic justice. A divine irony which I hope wasn't lost on Harry).

And that's my point in Too Loved to be Lost. "Once we can understand and embrace the magnitude and breadth of Papa God's divine grace, we can begin reflecting the nature of Papa within us. It's because of His grace toward us that we can extend grace to others."

So what's the big hooha about a little relational fender bender? In the grand scheme of things, of what eternal importance is the state of my bumpy bumper?

When it comes to grace, actions speak volumes. Love and acceptance of Harry by Christ-lovers, when the rest of the world beats a path in the opposite direction, are what will finally demonstrate the truth. The truth that Papa God loves Harry - as He does each of us - from the bottom of His heart. And His heart is bottomless.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Book Giveaway!

This is what I'm wearing to work on Valentine's Day
During this Valentine season, discover the kind of love that is never too lost or too late.

From Feb 1-14, register for the drawing to be held on Valentine's Day for 3 copies of my book about unconditional love, Too Loved to be Lost. 

I'm hosting a simultaneous giveaway on Goodreads so you actually have a dandy chance of winning a book one way or the other!

I hope you're feeling the love I'm sending your way and will take a moment and click HERE to register.  (If for some reason the link won't work, hop over to my website and click on Too Love to be Lost giveaway under "contests").

Remember, Papa God loves us just the way we are - broken. But he also loves us enough not to leave us that way!  "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Splish Splash

Don't even think about tweaking my cheeks
It happened five days ago. It was shocking, mind-boggling, and completely unexpected. It shook my little world.

I woke up in the morning as always and rolled out of bed. Yawning, I noticed my face felt oddly stiff ... like I was wearing a mask.

I reached up and touched my cheek. What in the world? I was wearing a mask. Or at least it felt like one. My skin felt completely foreign to my touch - grainy and dry and thick as all get-out. I could feel my fingertips probing my face but it didn't feel right at all, like on the inside it was still me but on the outside I was petting a python who'd just had lunch.

Rushing to the bathroom mirror, I stood there staring but not comprehending. Is that really me staring back? GASP!

My entire face was grotesquely swollen; huge fluid-filled bags beneath my skin pulled my eyelids downward and pushed my cheeks upward so that my eyes were reduced to slits. My cheeks had puffed up right into my line of vision so that I had to tilt my chin down to see over them. I looked like the human version of a Shar-pei.

Spouse nearly dropped his teeth when saw me. "Have you been robbing beehives again?" he asked, trying to make sense of the mess that was my face. The only possible explanation I could come up with was a new moisturizer I'd tried the day before. It must be some sort of contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction, I reasoned. So how long until it goes away?

Unfortunately, the answer was elusive. In the following days, I remained fully inflated, enduring the gawks and stares of neighbors, loved ones, and co-workers with as much grace and humor as I could muster. But then it was Sunday, and I feared that the 2 and 3-year-old's at church for whom I'm the Bible Story Lady would get one look at my face and run screaming out the door.

So that morning I introduced myself as Miss Piggy instead of Miss Debbie and assured them it was still me under all that extra face. That today there was just more of me to love. And sure enough, love me they did. The little darlings accepted me completely, rolls, furrows and all.

It got me to thinking. How do people with permanent physical disabilities continually cope on an infinite day-after-day-after-day basis?

Buell Smith came immediately to mind. When I was a little girl, Buell was a friend of my grandparents and was inflicted with some sort of purple-ish golf-ball sized tumor that hung in a skin sack over the right corner of his top lip. I vividly recall staring mesmerized at poor Buell as he pushed the thing out of the way to fork Granny's lemon cake into his mouth. I stared, that is, until I felt The Look from Mama. You know - that death ray that told you in no uncertain terms that you were being inexcusably RUDE and if you don't stop it right now, you likely won't be able to sit down for a week.

But the thing I remember most about Buell was his deep, melodic laugh. And he laughed all the time. Even as a kid, I wondered how someone with a giant meatball hanging on his face could be so jolly. Buell was entirely likable, fun, and seemed perfectly happy within his own skin. Even the extra parts. I once offered to help him out and cut that woggly thing off with my blunt-nosed craft scissors, but he just laughed his hearty laugh and said he wished it was that easy. Along came The Look from Mama again so I dropped that line of conversation pretty fast.

And then there's my friend Rob. Rob is the nicest, funniest, most out-going man you could ever meet. He has highly visible leadership positions in his city government and church, tons of friends, and the most beautiful model-esque wife you can imagine. And Rob has Turret's Syndrome.

I recall being distracted by Rob's constant facial tic and head twitch when I first met him thirty years ago, but soon it disappeared. To me, anyway. When I began to know and love him, I truly didn't notice it anymore. In fact, someone recently asked me if he still had the facial tic and I had to answer that I honestly didn't know.

The answer, it turns out, is yes, the tic is still there, but because Rob doesn't pay it heed or allow it to hinder him in any way, no one else does either.

So in the glacial-paced days since my facial fiasco, I've pondered a lot about everyday heroes like Buell and Rob and how they live full, rich, wonderful lives despite physical obstacles. How they choose to be filled to the brim with Papa God's unconditional love and intentionally let it overflow to those around them.


They inspire me - and you too, I hope, if you ever wake up with a cauliflowers face - to live out loud 1 Thessalonians 3:12, MSG: "May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you."

Won't you share with me - What everyday hero in your little world splashes Papa's love onto you?


Monday, January 19, 2015

Everyday Hope

A lovely wedding we witnessed in Italy
One of my favorite perks of being an author is hearing from new friends and getting to know them on a personal level.

I received a note from a reader this week via my website sharing some of her current problems and asking for guidance in finding everyday hope through her faith. I prayed for her, and for leading from Papa God in how to best meet her need. I thought I'd share my answer with you in case you, too, may benefit from a bit of everyday hope:

My dear Erica,

Thank you for taking the time to write; it means a lot to me that you've turned to me for spiritual guidance. A role I fear I don't deserve, but will do my best to earn.
You asked about everyday spiritual encouragement through scriptures - a crucial thing for believers, to be sure. I don't know how any of us could go on without daily encouragement. I'd like to share with you my system for daily nourishment from Papa God's Word - I call it Life Savers, as I talk about in Chapter 4 of my book, Too Loved to be Lost. It's a simple system for making sure you chew and digest your own spiritual food, and not depend on someone else to chew it for you.
Since it's January, it's the perfect time to begin. Here's how it works: grab your calendar and record one Life Saver from the list below on the first day of each month. They're short, pithy, powerful, and oh, so sweet. Memo that Life Saver you've chosen for that month on your i-device and jot it on sticky notes to post in all the places you'll be sure to notice - your bathroom mirror, your car console, your chocolate stash, you know, your hot spots.
Then every time you run across your monthly Life Saver, repeat it aloud three times and let it melt into your heart. Consider the meaning of each word. Savor the Saver. Suck the joy out of that spiritual treat until it's completely digested and permanently implanted in your innards.
Talk about an infusion of strength! It's like topping off your gas tank. You'll be revved up and raring to go anywhere. Plus you'll be amazed by how many times Papa God uses that very verse to speak to you and through you during that month. By the year's end, you'll have twelve new decision-impacting verses memorized. And best of all, they'll be imprinted on your gray matter hard drive for the rest of your life.
Here are a year's worth of my favorite Life Savers - all twenty words or less - that pack the biggest punch for me. The last four are brand new; I've just added them within the past few weeks.
1. "God is greater than our worried hearts." 1 John 3:20, MSG
2. "Let your living spill over into thanksgiving." Col 2:7, MSG
3. "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4, NASB
4. "It's the praising life that honors me." Psalm 50:23, MSG
5. "Encourage one another and build each other up." 1 Thes. 5:11, NIV
6. "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray." Phil 4:6, MSG
7. "A gentle tongue can break a bone." Prov 25:15, MSG
My devo of everyday encouragement
8. "Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God!" Psalm 43:5, NLT
9. "Live generously." Matt 5:42, MSG
10. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Gen 18:14, NIV
11. "God will fight the battle for you. And you? Keep your mouth shut!" Ex 14:14, MSG
12. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Prov 4:23, NIV
I hope you find these Life Savers helpful. I know they've certainly saved my life numerous times. There are additional ones listed in Too Loved to be Lost, and of course you should feel free to add you own from your personal reading of the scriptures.

I'd also like to send you a copy of Everyday Hope, a little devotional I wrote a few years ago that I hope will help and encourage you. It's out of print now, but I still have a little stash that I make available at my speaking events. 

Please keep in touch and let me know how I can pray for you. And I'd LOVE to hear some of your own Life Savers if you'd be kind enough to share them with me.

Hey, that goes double for you, my BBFF (Blessed Blog Friend Forever)! 


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Genuinity in 2015

 Deb celebrating sunbeams at Blarney Castle, UK 
I couldn't believe it. My hero was not at all what I'd imagined.

I'd run across her obscure but charming little novel in the 80s and fallen completely, surprisingly, obsessively smitten with her wise, witty, resonating characters and the subtle but searing Christian message that gripped my soul.

I'd never read anything like that. Why, I didn't know it was possible to write like that. My heart was moved. I was inspired. Hey, maybe, just maybe ... one day I could touch someone's heart like that with the written word, too.

I tried to contact her several times during the next three decades - as I followed my own writer's journey - to tell her what her little book meant to me, but only ran into dead ends. She seemed to have fallen off the planet. Every few years, I'd reread the book and become hopelessly smitten all over again, try to find her, and fail.

By the summer of 2014 I knew by personal experience how very, very much it means to hear affirmation from your readers so I decided to try one last time to reach her. This time, it worked. I actually uncovered an active e-dress and whoa doggies ... she responded.

I was star struck. Here, at last, was one of my earliest writing heroes in the flesh. One of the primary motivators that pushed my own writing upward from once-a-year Christmas newsletter status to award-winning author.

As we corresponded and I learned more about her life and teachings, it began dawning on me gradually. Painfully. She wasn't what I expected. Oh, she was a very nice lady, but not at all what I'd pictured in my fertile imagination and built up to be bigger than life ... a super nova Christian. A force of nature so in touch with Papa God that being with her would feel supernaturally like being in His very presence.

It was a bit like the time years ago that I heard Bob Saget open his mouth in a comedy routine and was completely horrified by the profanity that gushed out. What? Who was this rabid impostor who looked exactly like the kind, lovable, squeaky clean dad on Full House all those years I was a die-hard fan? How could this foul-mouthed man squash my well-ordered expectations like that?

Nope. People sometimes aren't what we expect. Not at all the person we thought we knew.

I guess that's why I strive so hard for authenticity in my writing and speaking ministries. Genuinity (I don't think that's a real word, but it ought to be) is very important to me. Above all, I want to be real - to demonstrate how a sincere follower of Christ can blow it, fall flat on her face, but get up again and know she is just as beloved by her Papa God despite her stupicity (another word that should be), drastic mistakes in judgment, and ugliness. Yes, even ugliness.

Because I think Papa God looks through our ugliness. I imagine He looks at me - and you - through little round Benjamin Franklin eyeglass lenses made entirely of love. The same kind I wear when my preschool grandbuddy does something intentionally defiant but I love him to pieces anyway.

It really makes my day when someone says, "You know, Deb, you write just like you talk." Good. Raw is good. Transparency is good. Real is good. Especially in fallible people. Like Christians. Because realness is relatable and restores hope. And for cryin' out loud, don't we all need more of that?

So my New Year's resolution this year is to surround myself with more genuinity. And to not just hear someone say, "Hey, Deb, you write like you talk, " but "Hey, Deb, you write like you live."

I wish you a supremely Happy 2015, dear BBFF (Best Blog Friend Forever)! What's your resolution?


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas From a 3-year-old's Perspective

I watched my 3-year-old grandson rip open the festively wrapped gift from his little friend. The other boy and his momma stood by in smiling anticipation of Blaine's response.

After staring at the shiny cover of the new picture book for a long moment, Blaine's bottom lip slipped into pouty-protrusion mode and he proclaimed in his seldom-used (thank goodness!) whiney voice, "It's not about Larry Boy. I wanted Larry Boy. I don't want this."

And with that, to the utmost embarrassment of Mimi (moi), he handed the unappreciated gift back to its giver.

(By the way, in case you don't have a 3-year-old handy, Larry Boy is the superhero of Veggie Tales.)

Gratitude. It's the reason for the season, right? We're supposed to be grateful for the most-amazing-of-all-time gift of Papa God's son in the form of a wee babe in a manger. And we are. Grateful. For at least ten minutes every day including meals. But what about the other 1,430 minutes?

I suspect that if we truly expose our hidden feelings, for at least a few of those leftover minutes, we're all a little like Blaine in his blunt, ugly ungratefulness.

Oh, c'mon - don't deny that you inwardly cringe when you open those hideous socks that thwomped around in the shaken box an awful lot like that designer purse you were hoping for. Or that you fight an impulse to run out the back door and hide behind the philodendron the moment you see your mother-in-law entering the front. Or that you wish you didn't have to host this ding dang Christmas dinner yet again this year because your sorry cousin Edna won't take a turn.

Yep, I fear we all inwardly feel a bit like 3-year-olds at times, whether we act like it or not. Raise your hand if you resemble that remark. Mine's up. What became a teaching moment about gratitude for little Blaine became a lesson for me, too.

So what if, beside the obvious spiritual implication here (eternal gratitude for eternal life through Papa God's Jesus-gift), we begin to view our current relationships and physical possessions as something about which to be really and truly thankful?

How about if we consider this: What if we woke up today with only the things we thanked Papa for yesterday?

I think we might look at things very differently. Warm socks are a treasure on cold winter nights, a comfort that, sadly, many people don't have. The mother of your spouse did one thing very, very good just for you - she produced and loved that person who means more to you than anyone else on earth (or you wouldn't have married him, right?). And besides, she only visits occasionally - another BIG thing for which to be thankful.

And another thing we often forget: All that food threatening the collapse of your dining room table is not a right, it's a privilege not enjoyed by more than half the world. We are not entitled. This is w-a-y more than our share. More, even, than we deserve. If you think of it that way, Aunt Bertha's creamed Brussels sprouts take on a whole new luster, don't they?

Health. Home. Food. Oxygen. Clean water. Warm clothes. Loved ones gathered round. Each one an incredible blessing in its own right.

It's all in the way we look at it, isn't it? Like a selfish 3-year-old. Or like the humble recipient of every good and perfect gift from our Father who loves us intentionally and unconditionally now and forever.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Brand New Winners!

We have SIX new winners, ladies and gentlemen!

Many thanks to all my BBFFs (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) who entered the drawing for an autographed copy of Too Loved to be Lost.  I wish each and every one of you could have won, but alas, some of you will have to be patient until my next contest (which is right around the corner!)

So without further ado, here they are ... I hope your name is on the list! Congrats to:

Elysa Miller
Merry Dennison
Robin Taylor
Deanna McBride
Heidi Jinkins
Susan Houser

 If your name was plucked from the hat, please send me your mailing address ASAP via a FB private message or my e-dress which you can find at my website (Sorry, I've been warned not to post my e-dress here because of bot searches.) I'll try to get your book in the mail during the next few days so you'll have it in time for Christmas.

And let me remind you, too, that I'm on the search for funny foodie stories and your favorite healthy, stress-free recipes for my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook, which will debut next fall. If your recipe or story is selected, you'll receive a free copy and acknowledgement by name in the book.

Hugs and kisses to all my wonderful BBFFs!

Monday, December 8, 2014

WooHoo! More Great Things to Win!

Welcome to those of you just visiting my blog for the first time - it's such a joy to have you join us! This post is a reprint of my December e-newsletter (which you may have already read if you receive my e-newsletters), so please take a few minutes to scroll back to my previous blog posts and stay tuned to the next one for more of life in the crazy lane.

Seems fitting somehow to start with Deb’s December prayer:
Lord, help me deck my halls without decking any annoying people.

Yes, you may borrow my prayer. Particularly before you enter the mall. 

Many thanks to all of you who attended my online launch party for Too Loved to be Lost on 11/6 – I loved, loved, loved getting to know you and giving away the fun prizes (especially the Kindle and month’s supply of chocolate!). Congrats to all the winners.

In case you missed out, I’ve still got 6 copies of Too Loved to be Lost to give away, and I’d like to reward my faithful blog buddies. So whether you subscribe NOW (just hit subscribe button) or if you’re already a subscriber, just drop me a line at to say that you’re one of my BBFF’s (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) and you’ll be entered in the drawing for an autographed book. It should arrive in time for Christmas!

While you’re looking for that special something for those special someones on your list, don’t forget the Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal, now available in your local Cracker Barrel! Hey, if you send me a photo of you holding up one of my books in Cracker Barrel, I’ll share it on Facebook and enter you for a chance to win a free book of your choice:

 More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre
Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate
Too Loved to be Lost

Oh, and a reminder that I’m currently working on the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook (releasing 11/15), and if you have any funny foodie stories, I’d love to include them (and your name, of course) in my book. Just FB message me or e-mail me for details.

Pre-Christmas hugs to you!