Saturday, August 29, 2015

Double Blessing Contest Winners!

Many thanks to everyone who entered the Double Double Blessings Blessings Contest!

I was very moved by the double blessings from Papa God that you so graciously shared with me and may possibly include some of them in the Too Blessed to be Stressed Daily Devotional I'm now writing (set to release in 2017).

If my editor chooses yours, you'll receive a free copy of the Devo and your name will be included in the book!

And now ... without further ado, I present the six winners in the drawing for a free copy of the Too Blessed to be Stressed 2016 Planner:

Charmaine Andrews
Pamela Black
Adrianna Fuentes
Kristen Sweat
Ronda Crawford
Karla Hanns

Congrats ladies! Now if you'll just get me your mailing addresses, I'll send your prizes out right away.

Hey BBFF's (Blessed Blog Friends Forever), if you weren't a winner this time, stay tuned for my next great give-away right around the corner.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Winner Dinner!

We're all too blessed to be stressed! 
So last night was our Winner Dinner and we had an absolute blast!

Congrats to grand prize winner Donna and her husband Ish (on far left in photo holding 3-week-old Baby Boy; I'm in the middle, and my daughter and son-in-law are on the right holding 5-week-old Baby Girl).

As you may recall, a few months ago, we had an adoption fund-raising dinner for my daughter's family combined with a drawing for 5 autographed copies of my upcoming Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook, which debuts Nov. 1.

Yummy Chocolate Eclair Cake for dessert
All the recipes for the fundraising meal were from the Too Blessed to be Cookbook - Baked Spaghetti, Parmesan Nuggets, and Mudbar Ecstasy were a huge hit! Some excited folks even called the next day begging for more.

The grand prize winner (congrats, Donna!) received a home-cooked dinner with the author (moi!). Once again, the menu consisted of recipes from the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook - Teriyaki Pork, scalloped potatoes, Spinach-Broccoli Surprise, mixed fruit, and for dessert, none other than my ooey, gooey, Chocolate Eclair Cake.
Chili  Dip as our appetizer

Oh, mustn't forget the zesty Chili Dip with Frito Scoops we scarfed as an appetizer.

You know, it was hardly any trouble at all because every recipe in the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook takes less than 20 minutes hands-on prep time. The hardest part was deciding which delicious dishes to serve.

Coming Nov 1, 2015
Yummm. At the end of a great evening with some great folks, in one accord, we all said, "Let's do it again!"

Monday, August 17, 2015

Funny on the Inside

A long lost childhood friend e-mailed me this week. A gal who lived next door for a handful of my pre-teen years. We bummed around together a lot on hot summer days, playing board games, running barefoot, and dipping our toes in the pond behind her house.

My best memories of Ginny involve scarfing a bowl of freshly popped Jiffy Pop swimming in a whole stick of melted butter.

Mmm. Those were the days. No diets, no cares, no cholesterol counts.

Ginny's e-mail said she had recently run across a book called Too Blessed to be Stressed and loved it. She said she'd laughed out loud 3 times in the first 5 pages. Unprecedented. She just had to look me up to see if that Debora Mitchell Coty and I happened to be one and the same. Surely not, right?

I was the one LOLing when she wrote, "Maybe you were funny when we were young, but I don't remember it."

You know, I get that a lot. I guess I'm only funny on paper and not in person because more than once someone who interacts with me in the real world has expressed shock when they find out I write women's humor. Then they read one of my books and say things like, "No way. Wait. You did NOT write this."

Makes me wonder how people perceive me compared to how I perceive myself. Goofy stuff is always bouncing around in my head. I guess the craziness doesn't make it to my face or out my mouth as often as it should. Is there such a thing as a split-end personality?

It's so cool how Papa God starts preparing us for our life ministry from our earliest days.

He began molding me for my ministry when I was just a wee tyke by surrounding me with humor. Mama loved to laugh and make other people laugh (still does at 86) and Daddy was hilarious (and still is at 88) but nobody ever knew it because he was always drowned out by Mama. He was soft-spoken and very quiet around most folks, but at home he displayed a dry, wry wit that I absolutely adored.

He was smart and keen, and could turn a clever phrase better than anybody I've ever met. He was from Georgia (so was Mama) and routinely pronounced everything adorably weird: I peenched the eench worm on the beeeench when I went to wreench (rinse) my hands in the saynk (sink).

I had to become English-backwoods bilingual in order to understand most of my relatives.

My sister, two years older than me, would rather laugh than eat. During the whole of our growing-up years, when we weren't wrestling or fighting over shoes, we were laughing. There was always something to giggle about if you just looked for it.

Then I married Chuck when I was just a big child (age 20) and he is one funny, twisted soul, let me tell you. He still keeps me chuckling 37 years later.

So not surprisingly, I turned out to be a humorist. At least on the inside.

Take a minute and ponder ... what ministry has Papa been preparing you for your whole life? I'd love to hear from you BBFF!



Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Double Blessing Contest!

Win one of six 2016 Planners!
Okay, BBFF's (Best Blog Friends Forever), I've heard from many of you asking for my new planner, so it is!

In honor of our recent double family baby blessing, I'm giving away SIX copies of my newest literary Baby Blessing - the brand new Too Blessed to be Stressed 2016 Planner! 

My daughter and our double blessing
Just send me a short account of a time in your life that you felt doubly blessed and you'll be entered in the drawing for a Too Blessed to be Stressed 2016 Planner

The winners will be announced on my blog on August 28. (So if you haven't already subscribed to my blog, do it now so you won't miss out on your prize!)

As a double blessing, your story may be chosen to be included in my next book!

So get on it right away and plan (hey, it's a Planner, right?) on enjoying your double double blessing blessing!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Precious in His Sight

Our sweet little Bree-Bree
Hallelujah - she's here!!!

If you've been keeping up with my FB and newsletter posts (and I hope you have!) you know exactly who I'm talking about.

She's been referred to alternately as:
  • Baby #1
  • Girl Baby
  • The firstborn twin from different mothers
She's the tiny but enormous blessing that many of you have helped bring into our family with your prayer support, financial support, and words of constant encouragement.

We are very, very happy as we await the birth of her brother, the other twin from different mothers (Papa God blessed my daughter - who is my best friend as well as backdoor neighbor - with an adopted girl and a biological boy due within 2 weeks of each other). Nothing but joy, joy, joy, singing bluebirds and misty sunbeams. Right?

Well, almost. Sigh.

Alas, isn't there often a fly in the pudding? A rip in your jeans? Someone who throws lightning bolts at your parade?

This particular fly/rip/bolt-heaver was an acquaintance on the tennis court next to mine the day after our precious blessing was born. The very day the adoption papers were signed and sweet Bree-Bree became a forever piece of our hearts.

"So she's adopted, is she?" this woman asked, as soon as I finished gushing out the awesome story of her birth. "Does she, um ... does she look like the rest of you?"

"Well, not exactly," I naively answered. "She's got dark hair and the rest of the family are more blond, but it's no big deal. She'll also probably be quite tall and my side of the fam are all shorties but that's cool with us."

"Dark hair?" the woman continued, glancing around to see who might be listening. She leaned in close. "What about her skin tones?" I honestly had no idea where she was going with this.

"Uh ... I guess she might have a little more olive tones than we marshmallows do." What in the world is she getting at? I thought to myself.

Then she dropped the bomb.

"She's not ... she's not black, is she?"

I swear I felt like someone had socked me in the stomach.

Indignation erupted somewhere in my gut and rage poured of me out before I could stymie it. I don't even remember what all I said, but it was loud and clear and included the fact that my family is colorblind and proud of it and when my daughter and her husband applied to foster and adopt, they prayerfully specified that children of ANY race were more than welcome to be loved and loved and loved some more in their home. We fully expected a child of a different race and we were delighted about it.

As I paused to take a breath, I recalled the pain of the friend who confided that her parents refused to accept the beautiful Latina and African-American daughters she and her husband had adopted. They only sent Christmas and birthday gifts to their four biological children and ignored the other two. At this moment, her pain became my pain.  

I felt disgusted just having this conversation. Are you kidding me? How do people like this sleep at night?

Before me flashed the lovely face of my best friend in college, Nadine, who used to laugh about being able to easily pick me out of the crowd in the photos of her wedding - the only pale face amid hundreds of color.

And my current BFF and heart-sister, Eddie, who is one of my most beloved spiritual mentors. And happens to be black. (By the way, Eddie considers herself black rather than African-American, so on the rare occasion that a label is required, that's how I refer to her too.)

I've decided that if I ever need a racial explanation, I prefer peaches and cream. No. On second thought, make me white chocolate.

I love the way my Indian friend Lali refers to people flavors. She considers herself  "curry" and other races as chocolate (black), vanilla (white), swirl (mixed), salsa (Latina), sushi (Japanese), mango (Filipino), pineapple (Polynesian) ... you get the idea.

Seriously. Why can't we all realize that our different flavors are simply Papa God's way of spicing up our world?

So after I removed my tennis racket from this woman's throat (not really, but I did consider stuffing it where the sun don't shine a time or two) I said a prayer for her. And for me. And for all the children of the world who have to deal with bigotry ... red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world. And so should we.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Make Your Bed

Make your bed.

These are the surprising words that Women of Faith veteran Patsy Clairmont credits with saving her life in her book, Stained Glass Hearts.

Here's her incredible story as I recounted in the chapter of my book, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate, about dealing with anxiety:

"Patsy, even as a believer, was unable to accept responsibility for running away from people and things that intimidated her. In her mind, her fear-avoidance behavior was always someone else's fault and out of her control. Patsy downed tranquilizers like candy and became drug dependent.

After suffering hundreds of debilitating panic attacks, Patsy finally reached a breaking point. This was not living. She was the equivalent of a breathing corpse. Something had to change.

One morning, while she was hiding beneath her blanket, Patsy heard her Savior's still, small voice whisper three life-changing words to her tormented heart: Make your bed.

No kidding.

Although at first 'Make your bed' didn't sound much like a divine directive from the Master of the universe, it was brilliant, really. So simple ... it was something she could actually do. Patsy felt powerless to address the mountain of problems in her life, but by golly, she could make her bed. And by making her bed, she couldn't still be cowering in it. She had to get up and start putting one shaky foot in front of the other on the long, twisting road back to living."

Make your bed.

Three simple little words. Yet profound healing power is contained therein.

These very words jumped out at me recently while I was reading the story of Peter performing a healing miracle in Jesus' name in Acts 9:33-34.

"And there he [Peter] found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, 'Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; arise, and make your bed.' And immediately he arose" (NASB).

Funny, I'd read that story dozens of times before but  somehow had never noticed those particular three words. But this time, with Patsy's story fresh in my memory banks, they glowed like neon lights.

Make your bed.

Wow. These simple words were astounding game-changers in the lives of Aeneas and Patsy. So how do these unlikely but powerful words apply to me? How do they apply to you?

Perhaps it has something to do with motivation. With taking the first step away from our stagnancy and moving forward. With shucking our old normal and taking the risk to seek a better normal. With becoming more obedient, courageous, or dependent on Papa's strength rather than our own.

What if complacency is robbing us of the "more" Papa God has in mind for us to be and accomplish before we burst through Heaven's gates?

Or maybe we simply need to change the sheets. Hmm.

Make your bed.

What do you think, BBFF? (Best Blog Friend Forever) How does this three-word mandate apply to you?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Cheek Tweek from Papa God

Me (left) in gangsta hat
Ha! I had to laugh out loud.

Not a tee-hee, no. One of those tilt-your-head-back-open-your-mouth-wide-and-let-it-rip kind of laughs.

Matter of fact, I'm chuckling now just thinking about it.

I was walking down a long corridor last week in the Orange County Convention Center (Orlando) toward the massive entrance doors to the ICRS (International Christian Retailers Show).

Speaking gig hat
As you can imagine by such an ostentatious title, this was a big deal. The cavernous place was stuffed with publishers, publishing house editors, manufacturers, bookstore owners and managers, authors I'd long idolized, literary agents, publicists, and just about anybody you can think of even remotely associated with Christian publishing.

Gulp. I was a little intimated and a lot nervous.This was the big time. All the players were here. I felt like a pet rock at a Barbie Doll convention. So out of place. Confidence subzero.
London touring hat

As I approached the enormous bank of double doors, each manned with uniformed Convention Center personnel, I was completely engrossed in my own thoughts about which meetings I was scheduled to attend, where, with whom, and when. No doubt my concentration scowl was front and center on my distracted face.

Stonehenge hat
Then it happened. A cheek tweek from Papa God. Just like you might do to a scared little kid you wanted to love on. And my herspective completely shifted. Here's what went down.

I came out of my stupor to become suddenly aware that the two twenty-something Convention Center staff young men standing at the door I was about to pass through were wearing huge smiles and had apparently just said something. To me.

Scottish cap in Scotland
"Uh, excuse me?" I stammered, unable to resist smiling back at their engaging expressions. Were they trying to engage me? Whatever for? Could that be ... admiration (???) on their faces? Or maybe it was constipation.

"You're rockin' that hat, girl," said the cutie about one third my age.
"Oooh, yeah," agreed the other fellow whose diapers I might have changed, nodding like the bobblehead on my car dash. "Rockin' it gooood."

Irish lass
Rockin' ... stylin'... smokin... these are not terms usually applied to me. And certainly not by young men who, by evidence of the elaborate tats peeking from beneath their shirt sleeves and the hip diamond earring studs they sported, were laboriously bobbing and weaving around fashion knockout world.

But I could tell they weren't making fun. They really meant it. Go, girl.

boating hat
The unexpectedness and absurdity of it all brought instant anxiety-reducing laughter into my stressed-out day. I howled.

"You made my day, guys. Thanks!" I called as I entered the lion's den with my chin a little higher and my shoulders a little straighter.

Posing hat
Yep, it surely was a cheek tweek from Papa. And from a most unlikely place. He knew I needed something outside the box to give me that little zing of confidence I'd evidently left locked in the 110-degree car (this was in Orlando).

He knew I needed to know I'm not a pet rock. Hey, I'm Seffner Barbie. (I just had another great guffaw there, how 'bout you?)
Hangin in Liverpool with John Lennon

But most of all, Papa knew I was a stress mess and needed to laugh. Because laughter is a catalyst to release the joy of the Lord in our spirits. And our spirits need Jesus joy spurting upward through the crusty outer layers like a volcano erupting and covering us and everyone around us with Papa's incredible love.

Your cheek tweeks from Papa probably don't have anything to do with hats. But they still serve to remind you of his never-ending affection for you, boost your confidence, and paste a goofy grin on your granite-hewn face.

Won't you share with me a few of your recent cheek tweeks from Papa God?        

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lots of Winners!!!

Hey, hey - we've got some winners here! Ten to be exact.

Congrats to the fine folks below whose names were drawn in my "Them Babies Just Keep on Bouncing" contest.

Each will receive the Too Blessed to be Stressed Baby Blessing of their choice. To find out more about each Baby Blessing, hop on my website and click on the "Books" dropbox, then Too Blessed Babies.

Some products aren't available just yet (such as the Too Blessed to be Stressed 2016 Planner, the 3-Minute Devo for Women, and the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook, but as soon as they are released, I promise I'll get your prize to you).

Please don't fret if your name's not on the list this time; stay tuned for another great giveaway coming up in conjunction with the fall release of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook (and I'm talking prizes including not only free autographed books but also GROCERY STORE GIFT CARDS for buying the ingredients to try out the Cookbook's 110 terrific recipes requiring less than 20 minutes prep time ... plus a few ultra cool surprises!)

So without further ado, here are the winners of a free Baby Blessing!

Angela Holland                           Kathy Newborn
Rick Jackson                              Paulette Smallwood
Adriana Fuentes                          Kathy James
Kristen Schuettenberg                 Pamela Black
Tina Rae Collins                          Ana Raquel

Congrats!! Just e-mail or FB message me with your choice and mailing address and your prize will soon be on its way!

And here are your prize options:

Too Blessed to be Stressed (original book)
Muy Bendecida Para Estar Estrasada (Spanish version of original book)
Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal
The Bible Promise Book: Too Blessed to be Stressed Edition
Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook (releasing Nov 1)
Too Blessed to be Stressed Wall Calendar
Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3-Minute Devotions for Women (releasing this winter)
Too Blessed to be Stressed 2016 Planner (releasing Sept 1)

A whopping THANK YOU to all my BBFF (Best Blog Friends Forever) for entering - you're always a winner with me!


Friday, June 26, 2015

Expecting a Miracle

My baby's having a baby! Or two.
Many of you who follow my shenanigans on Facebook (if you don't, now's the time to start!) already know about the miracle my family is expecting this very minute.

It has to do with my daughter and best friend, Cricket.

The same Cricket who married her high school sweetheart and bought the house next door to us.

The same Cricket who, since the age of 3, when anyone asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, answered : a mommy.

The very same Cricket who, after giving birth to my precious grandbuddy Blaine four years ago, was told by multiple infertility specialists that she would never again conceive.

And then Papa God stepped in.

Cricket is now expecting twins from different mothers. Woohoo! The miracle of life. Times two.

While you try to wrap your head around that concept, let me clarify: They are having a little boy and adopting a little girl within a week of each other.

Yep. Right after they filled out reams of paperwork, went through the home inspections, and took all the adoption classes, Cricket found out she was pregnant. Miracle #1!

But then she got sicker and sicker. In the midst of her long struggle with HG (Hyperemesis Gravidarum), including IV's, a pump inserted into her abdomen, chronic nausea, hospitalizations, and receiving total nutrition through a tube, Papa God provided an unexpected opportunity to adopt. And the babies were due nearly at the same time. Miracle #2!

As you might imagine, with only a few weeks left to go, we are all ecstatic and more than eager to cuddle the little screamers. The cribs are ready. The diapers are assembled. But there's a problem. Adoptions are shockingly expensive (can you say $20k?) and the hospital bills are starting to roll in.

So dear friends, my baby needs Miracle #3. We would all greatly appreciate your prayer support and if you feel led, your financial support as well. Papa God is in the miracle business, and He often uses the hands and feet of the people who are called by His name to accomplish His purposes.

We've been blessed to have a volunteer-led, nonprofit partner with us in this endeavor. The Promise Love Foundation turns over every penny of donations to the families they help with adoption (and donations are tax deductible). Here is Cricket's story along with more details about how to give on the Promise Love Foundation website:

Thank you so very much for lifting my family up in prayer during this exciting but stressful time.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Unexpected Mountaintop Cathedral

First Soprano
Warning: You're probably not going to believe this really happened but I'm here to tell you that it really did.

Yep. Hand me that stack of Bibles and swear me in.

So I was hangin' out in our remote Smoky Mt. cabin early one morning last week, long before anyone else had risen. The sun had just slivered through the misty tree boughs and I'd cranked open the windows to breathe in the crisp morning air.

Now I love to play mountain music up there. Probably because it's in the mountains. You know the type of music I mean ... dulcimer, banjo, mandolin, string bass - fast paced and free. Good ole foot stompin' stuff. 

So I plugged in a CD called Hymns of the Smokies. It wasn't long before the upbeat rhythms had me juking and jiving praise along to old time hymns of our forefathers like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." I was having a great little solitary worship time, singing along and getting my bad self down on the dance floor, er, I mean living room plank floor.

And then the choir arrived.

I mean to tell you, as soon as the first notes of "Shall We Gather at the River" rang out, birds started gathering at the window by the CD player. I kid you not. All kinds of birds. They perched on branches of the trees and shrubs just outside the cabin, and even on the windowsill itself, singing along with that worship music at the top of their little birdie lungs.

They sang. I sang. We all sang and praised our Papa God together. It was enough to swell your heart to the size of an eggplant.

I have no idea why they were attracted to that particular song, but as soon as it ended, all but one flew away. One stalwart little soul hung around for part of "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" and then he, too, took off for whatever it is mountain birds do in the mornings (besides church).

It just tingles the toes of my soul to imagine that Papa's little creatures might actually do just that. Do church. In their own way, in their own language, in their own venues, far away from human eyes and ears. Doesn't the Bible say that all of creation will praise His name?

"The heavens will praise Thy wonders, O Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones" (Psalm 89:5, NASB).
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6, NASB).
"Praise the Lord from the earth ... mountains and all hills ... beasts and all cattle; creeping things and winged fowl" (Psalm 148:7-10, NASB).

And for my praise to have momentarily intersected with their praise will always be one of the greatest thrills of my life.

I just hope bear church is on another mountain.

(If you're interested in doing a mini-study of creation worshiping Papa God in song, also see Psalm 5:3, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 8:7-9, Psalm 9:2,11 and all of Psalm 148.)