Thursday, July 21, 2016

Multitasking Master


The other day in my backyard I was wiping sweat out of my eyes, a filthy hand spade in one hand and muddy phone in the other, as I simultaneously weeded my garden and participated in a live computer program tutorial.

Everything was just peachy until a dadgum bee decided my face resembled a chrysanthemum and stung the bejeebies out of my nose. Fire in the hole!

For some reason, the guy on the other end of the line (my tutor) seemed surprised when I called him back after retrieving the phone I'd flung into the shrubbery as I fled into the house, screeching, in a crazed search for Benadryl and a cold compress.

Why on God's green earth had I ever attempted to do all those things at once, he pondered aloud.

Didn't I know how much more efficient I could be if I systematically tackled one task at a time, he queried in a low, calm voice.

Wouldn't I be interested in his excellent tutorial on time management, he wondered. Listen, bub, why don't you blow it out your kazoo, I wondered back. Have you ever tried making dinner, shaving your legs and feeding the dog at the same time? Has your baby ever spit up all over your church dress as you were herding three stray people into the ninety-degree car while scarfing down your cold, hard Pop-tart? Do you know what it's like to plan a dinner party for 12 of your husband's co-workers while scheduling Junior's dentist appointment and trying frantically to get to your own job on time?

Well, women do it every day.

I'll bet we could teach YOU a few things about time management, Sparky.

Okay, rant's done. No, I didn't say any of it out loud but Lordy I was tempted! Pretending to be nice is such a burden.

Yes, I'd go so far as to say that 80% of women are Multitasking Masters. Black belts. Make that black sequin belts with silver buckles and matching heels.

We're experts out of necessity, not because we like going in forty directions at once. We do what we have to do to keep our families, our homes, our jobs, and ourselves running smoothly.

And I've got the bulbous red nose to prove it!

What do you think, girls? Post a comment below and tell me about your personal training regime for your multitasking black belt.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sizzling Summer Give-Away

Just released!
Just released
It's summer and look what's Hot Hot HOT off the press!

My brand new Too Blessed to be Stressed 2017 Planners have just exploded onto the scene and they're cuter than ever! Want a Free one? Read on ...

TBTBS 3 Minute Devotions for WomenThese purse-perfect planners feature month-at-a-glance calendar pages + nice large individual day spaces + more of the inspirational verses and Deb Coty book excerpts you told me you loved in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Planners.

I have a feeling these hot lil' tomales are gonna disappear fast (my publisher completely sold out before December the last two years) so order yours early.

To give you a jump start, I'm gonna GIVE AWAY 5 Too Blessed to be Stressed 2017 Planners in a random drawing on August 26, which also happens to be my 38th wedding anniversary. We can celebrate together!

Just drop me a line to count you in or comment on this post and you'll be cropped-TBTBS-Coloring-Book.jpgentered in the drawing.
And guess what else? For one too blessed grand prize winner, I'll add a bookshelf-melting, oh-so-fun Too Blessed to be Stressed Coloring Book ... 

PLUS my sizzling new Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3 Minute Devotions for Women ...
Fear, Faith and Chocolate
PLUS a hefty fistful of my ultra fave choco-treats (actually I'll send a whole package but it suddenly seemed fitting to reference another of my book titles, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate). Hey, I'll even throw one of those in too!
 
Winners will be announced right here and remember, it's up to you to contact me to receive your prize (I need to know where to send your loot!).

So you won't forget to check and miss out on your prize, be sure you've subscribed today (so stinkin' easy to do - the box is on the right of this screen!)

Hope you win, my Hot Hot HOT BBFF!!! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hard to Swallow

Tree swallow in flight
Last week while staying with friends at their beautiful Alabama lake house, I felt my way in the 5 a.m.darkness onto their dock to try to snag a picture of the sunrise.

I'd already missed it that week. Twice. I wasn't about to miss it again.

So I got out there early, granola bar in hand, camera ready, and waited. Patiently at first. Then ... not so much.

Surprise, Deb. The summer sunrise isn't until 5:48. Aargh.

So I grumped around a bit, complained to the fish, argued with the turtles, did a few angry calisthenics and paced the dock. Oh well, at least I could drink in the early morning peace and quiet as the sky gradually lightened.

Suddenly an incessant screeching noise assaulted the silence. I could barely see a black dot in the sky, but there it was off toward the east, circling high over the water. It just kept circling round and round and round for the longest time, squawking constantly. I had nothing else to do but ponder: What was this crazy bird doing? Who was it shrieking to? What was it trying to accomplish?
A swallow doin' my thang

It wasn't fishing or even scoping out breakfast - it flew way too high for that. It's actions seemed to me to be completely illogical and totally unproductive.

I decided it had to be a girl bird because she was acting an awful lot like me: going around in circles for no apparent reason, getting nowhere, complaining the entire time.

I could tell by her cry she was a swallow, but I'd never seen one so persistent. Or quite so verbal. That silly bird kept it up - circling and screeching - for the next 20 minutes. Then as if to make sure I'd had all I could stand, she moved directly over my head and continued for another 20. I took a video clip and will try to add it here, but I can't promise it'll play.

STOP already!

Why on earth wouldn't she change her game plan, her redundant route, or at least shut her beak?
   
When I finally got so annoyed I could spit, it hit me: Hey, that's me up there. Papa God's showing me a mirror of my worst self: going around and around in circles, getting nowhere, complaining the entire time.

I had to laugh. It was so true.

How so like Him to use his marvelous creation to point out - in a gentle, palatable way - something I really need to work on. My complaining. My grousing. My squawking.

So okay. I get it. That's my next goal. To become less of a grouse and not so hard to swallow. And I don't mean the feathered kind.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Perfect Fit

Underwear Evolution
My friend Marianne was sweating out her options.

Her husband had died unexpectedly less than a year before, and finances were so tight, she wasn't sure she'd be able to keep her home.

Marianne had always trusted God to take care of her, and He always had. But this time, things looked pretty grim.

She needed to find a boarder ASAP to share expenses; she'd lost most of her eyesight to macular degeneration and couldn't drive, so the only work she could find was part-time babysitting in her home, which didn't provide enough pennies to stretch.

She hadn't been able to buy new clothes in years and only owned two bras, both purchased so long ago that their elastic had given up the ghost. Her panties were just as raggedly pathetic, but even WalMart underwear was an expense she couldn't justify when keeping a roof over her head was top priority.

So Marianne prayed.

But she couldn't help wondering if Papa God truly cared about minutia like Fruit-of-the-Loom. I mean, really, when there were famines to resolve,wars to prevent, and diseases to heal, what was a saggy bosom and droopy drawers?

But she soon found out how very much He did care.

Our of the blue, a bare acquaintance called asking if Marianne happened to need any clothes. They were in good shape, she said, but she just needed to clean out her overstuffed closet and bulging bureau. She admitted to having a big of a  ... well, shopping ... um, affinity. It was time again to purge and start over. If Marianne didn't want the items, they were headed to the thrift shop.

"Well, sure!" Marianne replied and almost busted a gut when the woman brought over twenty-seven bras, fifty-seven pairs of panties, plus huge piles of blouses and pants that all fit perfectly. They were excellent quality - much better than Marianne could have possibly afforded, even buying them piece by piece.

Thank heavens (literally) one woman's addiction is another woman's addition.

As if that weren't enough of a miracle, Marianne then received a call from a widow she'd never met looking for a room to rent. It, too, was a perfect fit.

What everyday miracles have you experienced lately, BBFF? I'd love to hear!

(*This is one of many grace notes I share in my book, Too Loved to be Lost, available at Amazon.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Climbing Chimney Rock

Only 36,425 more steps to go
I'd heard of it all my life - North Carolina's Chimney Rock - but never had the opportunity to go there. Until last week.

What an amazing experience! Climbing 26 stories of oh-so-steep stairs was actually worth it (although I wouldn't admit that while doing it!) to soak in the 1,200 foot high view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that extends 75 miles.

But you know what? I spent the nearly two hours lifting one weary leg above the other on the gazillion steps considering the similarities between ascending this rock and taking my spiritual life to the next level in ascending toward THE Rock. You know, the one that is higher than I (or you).

Achieving closeness with Papa God.

Yep, climbing both rocks entail:

1. Set your goal. Aim high. Otherwise you just keep sitting on your tushie looking up, wondering what the incredible view looks like from up there. "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," (Phil 3:14, NASB).

Whew! Grandbuddy Blaine takes a break
2. Do the journey with others. No one should attempt either climb alone ... the physical or the spiritual trek. Papa God doesn't want us to live isolated existences. He's into life and health and heart connections and belly laughs and soul sisters. "If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble," (Ecc, 4:10, CEV).

3. Take rest breaks. Yes, YOU. I know, I know. I'm the world's second worst at making myself stop and regroup; you're the world's worst. But we need those little slices of heaven that revive our energy, clarity, and motivation. Rest stops are our front line of defense against temperament-ravaging fatigue and acute nastiness. "You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, 'It is hopeless.' You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint," (Isaiah 57:10, NASB).

4. Persevere. Pray not that the Lord would lessen your load, but that He would give you a stronger back. Keep moving forward. Lift one foot in front of the other. Again. And again. I had a hard enough time getting myself up that mountain, but my daughter and her husband somehow managed to do the same climb each carrying a 20-lb baby (their 10-month-old twins). Shut my whining mouth, right? Keep your eyes on the prize - your goal - and not on your sagging self. "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus ... so that you may not grow weary and lose heart," (Heb. 12:1-3, NASB).

WooHoo! We made it! 
5. Celebrate when you finally get there. I believe we don't celebrate near enough in this life - especially when we achieve physical or spiritual goals, some that we've been working toward for a l-o-n-g time. Go ahead, grab your party horn and tiarra. Papa God loves to see us rejoice! "Let your living spill over into thanksgiving," (Col. 2:7, MSG).

So at the risk of turning this post into a commercial, I highly recommend you get up, get out, and climb something. Even if it's up to your roof to lie back and watch the stars.

Set a goal to achieve something you've never done before. Something different. And then write and tell me all about it - I want to rejoice with you!  





Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fickle Faith

What will I do at the end of this path?
Eddie, one of my favorite girlfriend-senseis (hey, didn't you see Karate Kid?) said something recently that stopped me in my tracks.

It happened at our women's Bible Study, a close-knit group of 6 longtime heart-buddies plowing through this life in Christ thing together.

We'd been discussing the downright density of the Israelites after Yahweh had just just parted the Red Sea - an incredible miracle - so they could escape utter destruction at the hands of the Egyptians pursuing them. They hooted and hollered and pranced their gratitude, praising the Almighty God who could perform this marvelous intervention. Yay God! You go, Jehovah!

Next thing you know, as soon as Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, they started looking for something tangible upon which to redirect their faith. Something - anything, it seemed - besides the Mighty Deity who'd already proven Himself.

O ye of fickle faith.

They chose a golden calf. A cow. Formed by human beings. Are you ever-lovin' kidding me? I mean really, how dense can you be?

Eddie had just finished telling us about her recent revelation that Papa God had healed her years ago when medical tests first revealed a frightening problem and then suddenly, inexplicably they didn't. New x-rays revealed that the problem was gone. Gone.

Not unlike the waters of the Red Sea ... there one minute, and gone the next.

Eddie is now facing another possible medical crisis and as the temptation to search out possible ways to fix the problem herself assaults her, she's struggling to keep her faith locked on the One worthy of it. Here's what she said that rocked my world:

"My Red Sea was parted and here I go looking for cows to worship."

Wow. BIG wow. Don't we all do that in our own way? I know for a fact I do.

O me of fickle faith.

I believe every one of us can look back in our lives at some point and see the undeniable fingerprints of Papa God moving in a miraculous way. Maybe not a life-or-death miracle ... perhaps something more subtle - what I call a grace note, or everyday miracle (lots and lots and lots of example in my books).

When [if] we recognize His intervention, we're so grateful! Yay God! You go, Jehovah!

But then when the darkness comes (as it inevitably will) and we're facing a faceless, terrifying monster completely out of our control, instead of defaulting to trust in Papa God, we start flailing around, searching for a stupid cow to worship: Medical science; new drug regimes; laser treatments; breakthroughs in research.

We're as dense as those dang Israelites.

As Eddie concluded, and all sincere Christ-followers must: Power is not in the tangible; everything you can hold in your hand can be stripped away.

Power is in the intangible ... the Spirit of the Living God. He is ultimately in control. Not us, the rate our heart beats, the texting driver that cuts in front of our car, the state of our bank accounts, when our livers wear out, or even hunks of metal shaped like cows.

Eddie and I choose to forgo fickle faith; we choose firm faith. Even in the darkness. How about you, BBFF?







Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hard Doesn't Mean Impossible

Something very interesting caught my eye the other day while I was enjoying a little He & Me time with Papa God.

I was reading the story of the rich, young ruler in Mark 10:21 and noticed something not included in the other two gospels that contain this account of the well-to-do young man who did all the right things - kept the ten commandments, loved his neighbors, probably even flossed daily.

When this "good" fella (by the world's standards) asked Jesus what ELSE he should do to earn eternal life, Jesus shocked the Armani sandals right off his feet by asking him to do something pretty dang hard in his day and even in ours.

"Sell all you possess, and give it to the poor ..."

Say WHAT? Nuh-uh.

You can just picture the rich guy's face falling. He was expecting to hear something like, "Give an extra shekel to every beggar you pass from now until Easter." Or maybe "Go to church six times a day to show your incredible devotion to me." Or even the ultimate in self-sacrifice,  "Take over permanent 2-year-old nursery duty at the temple."

But wait. The thing that slapped me upside the head happened after the dude asked his question and just before Jesus answered.

"And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him ..." (verse 21a)

Wow. Marinate on that a minute.

Jesus LOVED this guy, but still asked him to do something hard. Really hard. Something that, in the guy's way of thinking, was downright impossible. He was probably majorly attached to that red convertible.

The litmus test for loyalty often starts with our wallets.

Sadly, he failed the test. He chose poorly (to quote my favorite Indiana Jones movie). When it was all or nothing, he took all.

But back to my point: Could it be that Jesus does the same for us - loves us to pieces but still asks us to do something really, really hard?

I think Mother Teresa, wilting away, serving in the festering, disease-ridden slums of India would have known the answer to that.

And Corrie ten Boom, who barely survived a Nazi concentration camp because she chose the hard way of showing Papa's forbidden love in hiding Jews.

And Joni Eareckson Tada, who intentionally takes the hard road every single morning she awakens as a quadriplegic after a tragic 1967 diving accident, intent on sharing Papa God's mercy and grace with the world rather than hide away in the comfort of her home (www.joniandfriends.org).

Or Katie Davis Majors, the American teen who went w-a-y out of her way to do things the hard way by choosing to live in Uganda and adopt 13 daughters in order to share Papa God's love firsthand to those living in poverty (www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com).

So. Who are we missing?

Ah, yes. You. And me.

What hard thing might our loving Savior be asking of us this very day?  





Monday, May 2, 2016

Mother's Day Giveaway Winners!

I'm thrilled to announce the winners of my Mother's Day Give-away. If your name was drawn, be sure to contact me ASAP in order to receive your prize before Mother's Day (can't send it without your address!).

First of all, I'm delighted to share the names of the 5 winners of their choice of my newest Baby Blessings:

Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook
Too Blessed to be Stressed 5 Minute Devotion
Too Blessed to be Stressed Coloring Book 

And here they are:

  • Mary Lou Weldy
  • Lillian Ashe Pennington
  • Megan Staebell
  • Donna Parker
  • Adriana Fuentes

So happy for you ladies! Just message me which Baby Blessing you'd like and your mailing address I'll get it in the mail right away.

And without further ado, the winner of the GRAND PRIZE, including a copy of each of the new babies PLUS a fabulous kitchen decom-stressing kit is:

Michelle Evans     

Super Contrats to you, Michelle! Again, send me your mailing address ASAP and I'll get your Mother's Day gift from me off to you ASAP.

Many thanks to everyone for entering!

Please stay tuned for more giveaways coming down the chute:

July release of the Too Blessed to be Stressed 2917 Planner and Sept release of the Too Blessed to be Stressed 5-Year Keepsake Journal.  

Thanks so much for following. A BIG HUG to all my BBFFs! (Blessed Blog Friends Forever)


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Whimsical Battlefields

My Fearless Leader
On our little hike, we just needed to get from Point A to Point B. No-brainer, right? The best route is a straight line, right?

Not when you're with a 4-year-old.

Having magnanimously bestowed upon my grandbuddy Blaine the title of Fearless Leader, I was obliged to follow in his footsteps wherever they may lead.

So instead of taking the nice respectable road as I suggested (begged is probably more accurate), Fearless Leader lit off through the Christmas tree farm the size of two football fields.

I'd no choice but to follow.

And of course we had to fight off attacking bad guys left and right with our laser sword sticks along the way, which meant zig-zagging back and forth across the gargantuan field to make sure we hadn't missed any concealed enemies.

This was a bit difficult for me, since the bad guys were invisible, but Fearless Leader seemed to have no problem at all locating their hiding places. We were aided in our quest by Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and Larry Boy (in case you're not tuned in to the preschool set, he's the Veggie Tales superhero).

Silly Mimi couldn't see them either but Fearless Leader humored me by channeling their voices as we soundly defeated foe after foe.

An hour later, we emerged on the other side, victorious, exhausted, and plastered with dandelion parachutes. We must've run through millions of those things in our relentless pursuit of truth, justice, and the Mountain Way. It seemed whimsically appropriate to be snow-covered with one of the imaginative staples of childhood.

Fearless Leader said we must be gonna have a LOT of our wishes come true. Cool.

So from now on when I pass that Christmas tree farm, I shall never look at it the same way again. Life's full of battlefields where you least expect them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stairways

Stairway to ... where you want to be
I received a note last week from an aspiring writer who felt as if she was climbing the same set of stairs over and over again.

She'd worked hard to complete a manuscript, only to have an editor (whom she herself had hired) recommend she rewrite the whole confounded thing.

Six months later when she presented the revised ms to a potential agent, the list of re-rewrite points was longer than her arm.

 Sigh. I feel her pain. So do you. Climbing, climbing, always climbing. So difficult when we can't see the top of the stairway.

Overwhelmed by massive goals (Spouse in black at bottom)
It's not just a writer thing. It's a life thing.

We learn the same lessons over and over again, each time thinking, "By golly, I've got it this time!"

But the beast inside chomps through his muzzle, or the boss lampoons your last nerve, or you decide to defy the definition of insanity and do that same thing just once more, feeling sure it will turn out differently this time.

All these thoughts swirled through my head as Spouse and I tried a new mountain trail this week. You can see from the photos what a piece of gristle it was ... I'm still sore.

Can I even get there from here?
In the wake of the gal's letter, so many of the challenging scenes resonated with me: unending stairways, steep and rock-hard; feeling minuscule and defeated by the immensity of your goals before you even get started; doubts that they're even possible to achieve.

Who hasn't felt that way?

But that's not to say we shouldn't try. Because I believe sometimes in Papa God's eyes, the journey is actually our destination.

It seems all uphill for a time, but there are little respites along the way, if we pause to look for them. Like the wee wildflowers (I prefer this moniker over weeds) inexplicably growing among the rocks.

And observing someone else just ahead of us on the trail, getting it DONE. Going through the same huffing, puffing and pain we are, but getting there nonetheless.

Little snippets of  hope 
Hey, if she can do it, I can too.

And then finally, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we persevere long enough to reach the top, the satisfaction and joy of accomplishment is unspeakable.

Because we ...

DID IT.

Even though we occasionally slid backwards on our behunkuses, we got up, dusted off our fannies, and kept putting one foot in front of the other until we reached the last step.

But you know a secret I've discovered? You may have already discovered it too.

The stairs really don't ever end.

I'll just wait here
Once you conquer one stairway, there's always another starting just a little ways further on the landing.

And that's a good thing. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Otherwise we might spend the rest of our lives lounging by the reflection pool and forget there's more out there. Something different to see, feel, experience at the top of the stairs.

So I gotta go put another cold pack on my achy calf (leg, not cow) and try to think of something comforting and inspirational to say to this writer lady who wants to give up.

Maybe I should just tell her to take a hike.