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! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reading the Signs

My stove jammed yesterday. I took it as a sign from God.

 Actually, it was the metal drawer beneath the oven, the one in which I store my pots and pans. A pot in the front somehow flipped itself over in the middle of the night (how do they DO that - impish kitchen elves?), effectively blocking the drawer from opening.

After following Taylor Swift's advice and shake, shake, shaking the silly stove until I was purple in the face, my moment of enlightenment occurred. Ah Ha! Papa God wants us to eat out tonight!

Well, far be it from me to disappoint the Almighty.

Really, aren't we always looking for signs of one kind or another from Papa God? Don't we beg for guidance with hairy decisions on a daily basis? Wouldn't we LOVE to have a giant hand jot personal instructions for us in the sky?

But then, would we recognize Papa God's handwriting if He did?

Reminds me of that scene from Bruce Almighty when Jim Carey's character was driving down the highway praying for God to send him a sign. There, right smack dab in front of him, lumbered a big truck loaded down with street signs practically screaming messages in his face like, "Caution," "Turn Around," and "Wrong Way.

But to him, they were just part of the scenery. He didn't recognize the handwriting.

I was watching one of those cheesy but quaint Hallmark Christmas movies the other night where a little boy was looking for a sign. His mama was in a coma after a car crash that killed his dad and he wanted more than anything to get his mom back. Meanwhile, our main adult character was going through his own miserable problems but somehow, through circumstances beyond his control, ended up in a Santa suit begrudgingly making rounds at the hospital, delivering teddy bears to the children on the pediatric ward.

As he entered the sad little boy's room, the man couldn't understand why the lad wouldn't even look up at him. All the other kids had been excited to see Santa. He figured it must be the teddy bear. So he apologized for the lame gift and asked what the boy would rather have.

With tears in his eyes, the little fellow admitted that he only wanted a sign. Just a sign that his mama would one day come back to him.

Our reluctant hero suddenly realized that his next words would either make or break this child's Christmas - possibly even his life. So his sense of responsibility shifted from just-do-what-you-must-and-get-it-over-quickly to think-it-through ... this counts.

After flailing around a bit, the Santa impersonator's eye caught sight of the star atop the large Christmas tree in the courtyard outside the boy's window. The star. That's it.

"Look at that star," he told the poor heartsick child. "Whenever you need hope, just look at the top of a Christmas tree. A star was a sign to some wise men long ago of good things to come and it's a sign to us today that everything is not as bad as it seems. Something good is right around the corner." As he left the room, he glanced back and saw the bruised and bandaged boy staring longingly at the star.

Of course Hallmark can't (or won't) bring an overt Christian element into a secular movie, but I immediately saw the faith application. The wimpy fake Santa dude was right. We all need to look at the star. The one that hung over a tiny stable in a tiny town called Bethlehem. The one that proclaimed like an interstellar billboard that good news - world-altering good news - had indeed arrived in the form of a precious baby, the Savior of the world .

That star is our sign as believers: A fulfilled promise from Papa God. The assurance of His love. Our hope for today and our hope for tomorrow.

Too bad the doofus in the movie didn't recognize the handwriting on the sign. But all turned out peachy-Halmarky-keen ... the little boy's mother woke up on Christmas morning and the man finally saw the light. The hope in the star's light, really. And that's what he needed most. Hope.

Hope is what we all need most, isn't it?

So I'm hoping that my oven stays jammed just a few more restaurant dinner's worth. Did I mention I'm pretty sure it's a sign from God?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Join Me in Feelin' the Love

Sandi came to my Too Loved to be Lost signing at LifeWay
I hope you'll be able to join me this Thursday, Nov. 6 at 8 pm Eastern (adjust the time for your time zone) for my Too Loved to be Lost online book launch.

If you've never been to a Facebook party before, trust me - you'll love it! It's like a giant chat room where BFF's from all over the world gather to connect hearts for an hour. I hope my new friends from New Zealand, Puerto Rico and Italy will drop in again like they did at the last one.
My friend Rachel was there

We'll be chatting about all sorts of things at the FB party, playing cool games, giving away prizes every few minutes, and at the end of the hour, there will be a drawing for a new Kindle HDX. Please join in the fast-paced fun - it's a real blast!
I'll bet you a nickel you'll declare it was the best thing you did all day.

Here's the official site and details below ... Be sure to mark your calendar now and click on this link to get your name in the pot for the big prizes!

In our world a woman’s acceptance so often seems contingent on her looks, behavior, or talents. This can lead to fearing loss of acceptance, trying to outperform one another, and a warped view God as a ruthless, judgmental, stern entity just waiting for us to crash and burn. Debora M. Coty‘s new book, Too Loved to Be Lost: Discovering God’s Intentional, Unconditional, Without-Limits Loveoffers women simple, practical steps for finding healing, security, and revitalization of spirit, body, and faith.
Celebrate being “Too Loved” by entering Debora Coty’s HDX giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on November 6th.
One winner will receive:
— A Kindle HDX
And Sharron and Glo too
— Too Loved to Be Lost by Debora Coty
Enter today; but hurry, the giveaway ends on November 6th. Winner will be announced at the Too Loved to Be Lost Facebook author event on 11/6. Join author Debora Coty for a humorous and encouraging evening centered around God’s unconditional love. Debora will be hosting a fun chat, giving away prizes, answering your questions, offering an exclusive peek at her next book, and much more!
Find out what readers are saying about the book HERE.
Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only.
**By entering, entrants agree to opt-in to receive promotional emails from Debora Coty. If at any time you wish to unsubscribe you can do so through the unsubscribe instructions on one of the emails.**

Saturday, November 1, 2014

When life hands you cucumbers ... play pickleball!

Pickleball, anyone?
I arrived at the public tennis courts ten minutes to nine. I was early. My daughter and son-in-law dropped me off and left to play golf for the morning. I waved good-bye, chomping at the bit to play my sport after a whole week's hiatus.

After stretching and going through my regular warm-up exercises, I noticed something peculiar. I was the only one there and it was 9:10 a.m. We always started at 9:00. Hey, what gives?

Did the gang change days and not tell me? Nah. They wouldn't be that thoughtless. These were my friends.

So I dug all the used tennis balls I could find out of my wheeled tennis bag and nearby trashcans to practice my serve. I practiced and practiced. I practiced until my serving arm felt like boiled spaghetti. Still no one there.


I felt my bottom lip begin to poke out like my 3-year-old grandbuddy's when he's sulking. Yup. My widdle feewings were hurt. My so-called friends had changed something - day, time, planet - and left me completely out. I felt like a have-not in an exclusive club of haves. A humiliated have-not at that.

So knowing I had about three hours to kill before I'd be picked up, I packed up my rolling pink tennis bag and trudged up the hill like a disgruntled bag lady. There was a K-Mart about a half-mile away, across a major highway; looked like I would have to amuse myself with blue light specials and Charlie's Angels ensembles for a long time.

But before I got very far, a voice called out from the pickleball courts I was passing, "Hey, we're a player short; would you like to play with us?"

Angels sang. Harps played. A glorious sunbeam broke through from heaven. These people wanted me. I was no longer an outie. I was now an innie. A HAPPY have-not. (More about morphing from a humiliated have-not to a happy have-not in chapter 3 of my new book, Too Loved to be Lost.) 

The only caveat was that I'd never played pickleball before. I didn't really know what it was. But I soon found out. This lovely group of ever-so-friendly, extremely patient and longsuffering folks loaned me a pickleball paddle - which looked a little like a wooden kitchen cutting board with a handle - and introduced me to an exciting new sport. Who knew slapping a wiffle ball around a teensy court could be so much fun?

Actually, a pickleball court is 20'x44', the same size as a doubles badminton court. The rules are a cross between badminton, tennis, and ping pong, with the goal of keeping the little holey ball in play until your opponent either hits it out of bounds or into the net. Games are to 11 points and both partners on a team get a serve.

I learned right away that the dynamics were quite different than tennis. For one thing, you have to stay out of the kitchen (the section of open court between the service box and the net - see photo above) and it's pretty much impossible to lob over the heads of two 6' tall men standing ten feet away from you on a court the size of your bathroom.

But once I got the hang of it, I had a jolly good time. What fun! Of course today I can't move (evidently pickleball uses a whole different set of muscles than tennis) but I'm still feeling the rush of trying something new and almost succeeding.

Best of all, I'm still basking in the glow of happy have-notness.   

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mellow Yellow

Fall on my mountain
Autumn. The word itself is enough to make you wax poetic. Especially on my mountain.

Well, it's not really my mountain, but I've thought of it that way since my in-laws built the tiny cabin nestled deep in the Smoky Mt. woods at about 4200 ft elevation. When my kids were small, we trekked to the cabin every fall, and now that my kids are having kids, we still trek to the mountains every fall.

Sometimes tradition is a warm, snuggly blanket. 

A walk in the woods is simply magical. The normal green of the foliage has somehow melted into at least 30 shades of yellow (a nod here to Johnny Cash's song about the many shades of Irish green).

It's like an explosion of butter. You can almost taste the deliciousness of it. Every shade of yellow known to man is punctuated by that incredible deep blue of the sky that's unique to high elevations. A twinge of russet here and a smackling of crimson there are the perfect accents to the profusion of amber hues.  

A crisp breeze ruffles the feathers of the tallest of trees and you feel sure Papa God is leaning down from heaven, whispering something very, very important meant for your ears only.

I can't help but pull an Anne of Green Gables and rename "the woods" its rightful name: the Forest of Golden Whispers.

Actually, I get the feeling that the title has been here all along for centuries and I'm the slowpoke who's just now becoming enlightened. Kind of like when a novelist pens a story - it feels inexplicably like the story has been there all along; your task as the author is simply to hear the time-hewn words in your heart and write them down. 

So I take it all in. I feel peace whispered into my soul by the Creator of all this beauty.

And I'm so glad I came.

Where is your Forest of Golden Whispers, my friend?