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?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who Doesn't Love a 75% Off Sale?

On SUPER SALE for a limited time (sale ends 10/13/14): The Kindle edition of my brand new release is only $2.99!
Deb's newest release

I hope you'll hop on this one like a tick on a hound dog.

Here's the link:

Now don't tarry or you'll miss out!

And as an added bonus, my publisher is putting the Momma book of my 6 Baby Blessings on sale during the month of October. Yep - Too Blessed to be Stressed is only $1.99! 

If you've already got Too Blessed to be Stressedplease send this golden opportunity to a friend. As always, I'm VERY grateful for your support! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Face of Kindness

Father Chris Fitzgerald, friend to all
I am not Catholic, in fact I'm a dyed-in-the-wool protestant. But for the past two decades, I've had my own priest. 

Actually he wasn't exclusively mine, but I admired, loved, and respected him as if he were. But then everyone felt that way about Father Fitzgerald. He was that kind of guy.  

Father Fitz was not just our neighbor for 5 years, he was a lovely, funny, godly man, and a true friend to a bunch of crazy protestants (many others besides me and my family). 

Our relationship started out badly but grew to be a beautiful and unique thing.

The first time I met Father Fitz, I angrily presented him with a petition I had personally walked around my subdivision to attain signatures for, demanding that the brand new St. Francis of Assissi church install speed humps at the back entrance which bordered my property. For the ten years we'd lived there prior to the church being built, my house had been perched beside a nice, quiet dead end. When we bought our property, it was surrounded by orange groves. I was plenty torqued that urban sprawl had stolen my beautiful view. 

At the time I had two wee children and a dog and was miffed that this church I knew nothing about had the nerve to install a gate and entrance road for whizzing cars that I perceived as an endangerment to my family.

I foolishly thought that since I was (strongly) of a different religious persuasion, Father Fitz wouldn't care. Boy was I wrong. He graciously accepted the petition, enveloped my hand warmly in both of his, and to my utmost surprise, invited my family to dinner. 

That speed hump was already installed by the time our dinner engagement at Ben's Family Restaurant rolled around the following week and despite jokes back and forth about proselytizing each other, we became fast friends. The clincher was when this wonderful Catholic priest kept a (mostly) straight face when he asked my 4-year-old daughter if he could see her dolly (which she was holding tightly to her chest) and she replied, "Not right now. I'm milking her."

My husband began working out with Father Fitz at the gym and I even modeled one of the main characters in my first novel after him. There was no one else, really - it had to be a wise, kind, godly Irishman with a keen sense of humor. 

Yep. Father Fitz. No one else would do.

When The Distant Shore released, I hand delivered a copy to him and explained that he was the inspiration for Captain Stone and why. He seemed puzzled at first, but then I saw tears come to his eyes and I knew that he finally understood how special he was to me and my family.

We moved away and finally lost touch, but I'll never, ever forget the Catholic priest who touched my life and those of the myriad of readers who came to know and love him through my books.

Father Fitz graduated to heaven this week. I felt my heart break when I heard the news. In fact, my eyes are leaking as I write this. 

I have no doubt where Father Fitz is right now - in the Catholic section of the humongous heavenly sanctuary saving seats for all his protestant friends. But I can't help but feel that our world has a little less light without him in it.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy National Punctuation Day!

Bet you didn't know you had a reason to celebrate today, right? And of all things, punctuation.

Well, dang it, why not? After all, where would we be without. punctuation; to Keep us, straight!?

Okay, so grab a celebratory cup of hot tea and chunk of chocolate. Then take this little test to see if you're truly a Punct Punk.

Can you find the errors in each sentence? (That is, if there are any.) *Spoiler alert: answers at bottom.

1. Joe's favorite era of music was 1960's Motown back when he was 15. He loves to share his CD's with his BFF's.

2. Watch out for the quicksand; it's enough ... to make you desert your dessert ... in the desert.

3. Andrea yelled, 'I'm leaving', as she slammed the door. 'I hate it when people use "quotations" incorrectly'.

4. Listen gordo if I'd wanted to see lisa in Vermont; I would have called her.

5. I'd like to thank my parents the Pope and Mother Teresa.

6. "Hello John;" she said. "Do you have all your 'ducks in a row'?"

7. I hate it when you think you "own" my opinion.

8. It's beginning to snow. I'd better bring the potted plant inside before it freezes it's new leaves off.

9. Whoa doggies! What a hoot! I can't believe you said that!

10. Oh no. How many times have I told you not to... it's been at least three-thousand-fourteen ...

1. Apostrophes denote possession (Joe's) but are not needed for dates or acronyms (1960s, CDs, BFFs). Also, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, numbers under 100 within dialogue should be spelled out (fifteen) because we don't speak in numerals; always spell out numbers that start a sentence.

2. Ellipses denote pauses longer than a period (and are not appropriate in this sentence), em dashes denote interruptions. Semicolons go between two independent but connected clauses and the one here is used correctly. (A little word fun at the end there - sort of like polishing the Polish furniture.)

3. Double quotation marks (") are used at the beginning and end of quoted phrases; single quotation marks (') are used for a quote within the quote. Commas and periods should be inside the quotation marks (unless you're writing in England, where it's the opposite). Use italics instead of quotation marks around single words to emphasize them (don't capitalize or bold them either - stick to italics unless you're a billboard painter).

4. Names and proper nouns are capitalized and set aside by commas: Listen, Gordo, if I ... (in other words, put commas around the name of the person spoken to). The semicolon in this sentence should be a comma.

5. Speaking of commas, if used incorrectly, they can scandalously alter the meaning of a sentence. Like this one versus "I'd like to thank my parents, the Pope, and Mother Teresa."

6. There should be a comma after addressing a name/noun (Hello, John). The use of single quotation marks for 'ducks in a row' is appropriate here (a quote within a quote) and the question mark is correctly placed between the single quotation mark and the double. However, semicolons go outside quotation marks (although in this case a comma would be in order).

7. Again, better to italicize own for emphasis than to place it in quotes.

8. It's (with an apostrophe as a contraction for it is) is correct in the beginning of this sentence, but toward the end of the sentence its little leaves is appropriate (no apostrophe for a possessive pronoun).

9. Three exclamation marks in a row is overkill. Overuse of any stylistic device (especially exclamation marks!) dilutes the emphasis you're hoping to achieve. Plus it appears that you're trying too hard to elicit emotion from your reader.

10. Oh, no should have a comma. One set of ellipses (the first) is appropriate here (three dots only with one space before and after). Numerals (3,014) should be used for numbers over 100 for better reading flow.

So how'd you do, my friend? How punct-savvy are you?

Hey, don't let it ruin your day if you're not a Punct Punk ... even professional writers depend on editors (who are paid to be Punct Punks) to catch all the riffraff.

So tell me - what's your most common punctuation mistake?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Put Down the Donkey

Feel like you're carrying around a few burdens?
I walked into the elevator as two southern belles exited, deep in drawled conversation.

The elevator doors had no sooner closed behind them when the gal in the corner with the distinctive New Jersey twang rolled her eyes at her slick chick chum. "Who says dhat? 'Can you carry me to da store tamarra?' Like you're a sack o' patatas. Whey'd dey learn English - in a baan?"

It took me a moment to yankee-translate then another long moment pondering what was wrong with asking someone to carry you to the store. I am and always have been, after all, a hick from the Florida-Georgia border sticks long before it was a smash band.

Oh. I finally got it. Carry me.

The proper verb should have probably been "take me" or "drive me" to the store, but I've heard "carry me somewhere" my whole backwoods life, so at first it seemed perfectly normal to me. Like mashing the light switch or saying, "I used to not" or "Quit that directly or I'm gonna slap you upside your punkin' head ... bless your little heart." (Southern etiquette demands that you add that final disclaimer whenever you say something bad to or about somebody.)

It wasn't until college that I was enlightened about the ... um, shall we say charming eloquence of regional colloquialisms and realized that carrying someone to the store taken literally would pretty much be the end of most of us. Carrying around ANYTHING for very long would get plum exhausting. If you don't believe that, just try holding a cotton ball over your head for ten minutes.

Since I've felt kind of droopy lately (both physically and emotionally), I stopped and thought about what I might be carrying around with me that would drag me down so. Didn't take long. Unforgiveness. For sure. I've been wearing it this week like a 50-pound sack of manure strapped to my back. Got so used to it, I hadn't really noticed it. Til now.

I know that by not forgiving, we carry people and wounds around with us, weighing us down with our invisible burdens. I forget sometimes that my outsides may look normal to you, but my insides look a lot like the poor dude in the picture above. I'm even heaving around the donkey that's supposed to be carrying me, for pity's sake.

I came home and looked up my chapter on forgiveness in my book Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate. (Yep, I actually do re-read my own books. I find them very helpful, actually, because I'm the kind of pigheaded person whom Papa God has to teach the same lessons to over and over.) Here's what I found:

"Harboring resentment is like chugging down strychnine and expecting the other person to die. Your anger doesn't hurt your offender. It hurts you. It wounds you and those who care about you, those who feel helpless and hopeless watching bitterness gnaw away like ravenous sewer rats at the you they love. Rats that will never be satiated."

"I've heard it said that apologizing doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value relationships more than your ego. And isn't that the way Papa wants us to prioritize?"

Yep. Just the elbow in the gut I needed to jar my need-to-forgive muscle. It gets stuck sometimes in all the fat and needs a little jolt to pop out and get some exercise.

So that's my job for this weekend. Exercise that poor flabby forgiveness muscle, unload the fertilizer and put down the dang donkey. How about you? Got any invisible burdens weighing you down?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jonah's in the Bag

Not the best hiding place
In my role as the preschool Bible Story Lady at our church, I was telling the story of Jonah and the Big Fish a few Sundays ago to the three and four-year-olds.

The hard part wasn't bringing the bit about Jonah deliberately running away from God down to the level of little people who still get their fannies smacked every time they run from someone in charge. Same principle, Jonah's story, but how to tell it so they'd understand that some grown-ups are silly enough to think they can hide from an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful God without being caught eventually. 

It would be like Mama never coming to look for you and leaving you in your hiding place forever. Unfathomable.  

Even the wee-est ones get how ridiculous that is.  

So I simply said, "Jonah was afraid to do what God said (go to Ninevah and tell the people there they were being so naughty they would have to be punished). So he decided to disobey. Yep. He decided to hide from God." 

I then asked the children who liked to play hide-and-seek. All hands went up. 

"Have you ever picked a really bad hiding place? Like maybe this one." I put my hands over my eyes and said, "Okay, I'm hidden. I can't see you so you can't see me either."

The kids laughed hysterically.

"Or how about this one?" I walked over to an itty bitty kiddy chair and crouched down, trying desperately to squeeze my entire jumbo adult body behind it. "Can you see me now?" The kids howled.

"Or maybe you've been here." I returned to center stage, carefully unfolded a paper bag, plopped it over my head and reached out with both hands, searching, groping, even becoming a little panicky and tearful as I fell to my knees. "Are you gone? Did you leave me? I can't find anybody so I must be all alone in this cold, dark, horrible place. Nobody's here but me. And I'm feeling lonely and scared all by myself. I wish ... I wish someone would help me."

Silence. To my surprise, there was no laughter this time. Not even one snicker. Something about being scared and lonely in a dark place had resonated with those 30 little people. 

I hadn't expected this. Silence. So thick you could cut it with a meat cleaver. Maybe my acting was a little too good. As I continued waving my hands helplessly in the air, I wasn't sure what to do next. The kids were apparently identifying with me in my aloneness. With Jonah in his disobedience. With all humankind when we choose to dig a hole of disrespect to our Creator, then lie in it and cover ourselves up like a grave. Isolated. Frightened. Confused. 

Then out of the unforeseen stillness, a little voice piped up. A warm little voice heavy with sympathy. 

"It's okay, Miss Debbie. We're still here. Don't be afraid. You're not alone." 

And then I heard footsteps mounting the small stage and felt a tiny hand take mine, and another and another reaching out to comfort me as dozens of little hands found my arms, my shoulders, my waist, surrounding me with comfort and hope. 

So there I was, kneeling on a stage with a bag over my head and a huge lump in my throat, swarmed by a hoard of uninhibited children who even at an extremely young age, understood what it felt like to be alone in disobedience and separated from God and didn't want it to happen to me. 

I was incredibly moved. It was one of those rare teachable moments that knock your well ordered world off its axis and crack open the door for a peep into a completely different spiritual realm. 

So from now on, I suspect Jonah's story will hold new meaning for me. Maybe I should carry a head bag around with me all the time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Adorable Baby Blessing Winners!

Abby's Baby Blessings
Kathy's Baby Blessing
Elisa's Baby Blessing
Woohoo! Here are the last five winners of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Baby Blessings drawing.

If you didn't win, no worries! Another contest with awesome prizes (like a Kindle, free books, and Deb's fave chocolate)  is right around the corner to celebrate Too Loved to be Lost when it releases this fall. 

So if you don't already receive Deb's free quarterly e-newsletter, be sure to sign up at so you won't miss a thing!

Kim's Baby Blessing
Kay's Baby Blessing

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Winning Photos

If these Baby Blessings don't light your fire, hey, your wood's wet!

Missie's Baby Blessings
Gloria's Baby Blessing
Jen's Baby Blessing

Heather's Baby Blessings

Congrats once again to the winners of my Baby Blessings contest! Here are the first five drawing winners - I hope they bless your heart as much as they have mine!

Jan's Baby Blessings

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Baby Blessings Contest Winners!

One of your 6 choices
A big THANK YOU to all who entered the Baby Blessings contest - I loved ooohing and aaahing over your baby blessings. Most were sweet little humans but we had our share of adorable 4-legged furry blessings and even a few terrific wheeled blessings.

Congrats to the ten winners in the drawing for your choice of my own Baby Blessings!

If your name's on the list below, just choose your prize - here they are: (if for some reason this doesn't show up as a clickable link, just go to my website and click on books and then "Too Blessed to be Stressed Baby Blessings") and let me know at my private e-dress where you'd like your prize sent.

Also, if you don't mind me posting your Baby Blessing photo and name, in that same message, please give me your written permission and it will appear on a blog post later this week.

If you didn't win this time, stay tuned for another contest coming up soon with the release of Too Loved to be Lost this fall. And hey, the prizes will blow your mind!

 So without further ado, in order they were drawn, here are the Baby Blessings winners:

Kay Colson Waters                                     Abby Letourneau
Heather Miller                                             Gloria Foster
Kim Lockhart                                              Elisa Westlund      
Jennifer Deg                                                Kathy James
Missie Sadler-Wiggins                                 Jan McRae

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Skip This Spinning Class

Wish I knew what causes my ding dang vertigo. Drives me batty.  Heard of it? The Tilt-a-Whirl from Hades. The hangover that isn't. The devil’s last laugh.

Yep, vertigo is wicked all right. The world spins topsy-turvy out of control with every movement of the head. Or even eyes. It’s like you just rolled off a merry-go-round after being shoved round and round by a 250-pound linebacker. 

Only it doesn't stop after you get off and stagger around the playground.

This bout hit me the day we returned home from our beach week. I'd forgotten but Spouse reminded me that I got vertigo last year during our annual Daytona  week too. Go figure. I wonder if it has something to do with sand. Or glare. Or shrimp. Those are the things I do in Daytona that I don't do at home.

Hmm. I suspect it’s the cosmos’ way of telling me not to wear bathing suits.

Maybe it’s hereditary. My father suffers with it too, more frequently than me. We both take Antivert, which helps but doesn't cure it. At least with the medicine you can pseudo-function without throwing up every time you rise from a chair. But walls still have a way of jumping out and whacking you in the shoulder when you try to traverse hallways and the sidewalk still swerves away from you when you walk the dog and you end up in somebody’s shrubbery pretending that you’re looking for Rover’s lost ball.  

I recently found in my possession 1940-era British medical literature regarding vertigo that warned, among other clever things like “make sure your spectacle prescription is up to date,” that it is a very bad idea to walk along unlit stony paths late at night during a dizzy spell ... you might end up in the ditch. In which case you may well invoke a disgruntled bobby to escort you to the loo or worse, the slammer, under the erroneous impression that you’ve visited one too many pubs.

Dear me. Guess I'll just have to curb my late night unlit stony path hikes.

The brochure also said activities that require rapid side-to-side righting movements of the body and head are good therapy ... example: tennis. The risks, however, include falling flat on your face when you look up to hit your serve. Or impaling yourself on the back fence when you run after a lob.

Harrumph. Mere hiccups to true tennis addicts like me.

I’ve actually played tennis – more than once – in the throes of a vertigo episode (you can probably only understand this if you’re another full fledged tennis junkie). It’s kind of an out-of-body experience. Gives new meaning to the term “dizzy blonde.”

Why, you wonder, would anyone subject themselves to abject humiliation and certain defeat playing a competitive game with her head screwed on sideways? Um, I dunno. I suppose addiction is the operative word here.

It wasn't really that bad. Aside from only winning two games in two sets, the worst part was following the ball. Back and forth. Back and forth. Whack. Whack. Whack. By the time my already spinning eyes (a Vertigo symptom called nystagmus) could hone in on that little yellow sphere suddenly appearing just beyond the tip of my nose, the rest of me was flopping all over itself trying to remember how to be coordinated enough to connect my racquet with the ball.

You feel like a marionette being operated by a giant invisible hand hovering over the court. And the hand’s got a nasty twitch.

So you go home and take another pill.

Unfortunately, a side effect of Antivert is an anvil in your skull. It’s what I call the dead meat syndrome - meaning you can't think clearly and only want to lie on the couch all day trying not to draw flies.  

There's no good way to sleep. I usually end up propping myself upright in bed in a sitting position and sandbagging my head on all sides so it can’t move. This doesn't lend itself to rolling over once you've finally lost consciousness, which tends to pitch you right out of bed with arms flailing as you either blacken Spouse’s eye or send the bedside lamp flying.

Oh, you can be proactive if you choose. The vertigo exercises (mostly weird head/body positioning movements to dislodge stuck inner ear crystals) do help Daddy although they merely make me vomit. Even thinking about them now sends a wave of nausea through my gut. Rather like hanging upside down from the mast of a ship when you already have raging seasickness.

It’s enough to make me never, ever eat shrimp again. Just in case.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Word Says It All

One of my fave places to praise Jesus
A short time ago I visited a multi-ethnic Christian women's event where several languages (besides English) were spoken.

Because multiple interpreters were often speaking at once, it was occasionally chaotic, sometimes cacophonous, always interesting, and never more fun.

Forbearance was abundant. Everyone there wore their patience and kindness like a beautiful faith necklace ("Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder" Proverbs 3:3, NLT).

And one thing stood out to me as we expressed our own Jesus-joy in worship. We were all praising Papa God in different languages, sometimes singing words we didn't understand, or listening to the Bible read in a foreign tongue.

Yet we had one thing in common. It was a word that we all began to say in unison while smiling from ear-to-ear when it became apparent that regardless of our nationality, each of us shared this one common bond of worship: Hallelujah.

Go figure. Hallelujah is the same in every language.

By definition, hallelujah is the term used to express praise, joy, and gratitude. And by dingies, we expressed all those things, all wrapped tightly up in one says-it-all word. Hallelujah.

Until that day, I believe I've always taken hallelujah for granted. It was just another faith-speak term like "Thank Heavens" or "Praise the Lord" or "Have Mercy!"  But no longer. That word is special to me now, because I know that whenever I say it, thousands of my soul sisters and brothers across the globe are saying it too, and our hearts are bound together in one timeless, bottomless, boundary-less expression of praise to our Papa.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fabulous New Contest!

Summer 2014: Baby Blessings Shower

The Babies Are Arriving!

As you may have heard, my book Too Blessed to be Stressed has been busy birthing offspring; I call them my Baby Blessings. So far, the bouncing bundles of joy include:

Too Blessed to be Stressed 2014 Planner

Too Blessed to be Stressed Perpetual Calendar Too Blessed to Be Stressed Perpetual Calendar

Muy Bendecida Para Estar Estresada (Spanish translation) Too Blessed to be Stressed (Spanish)
The Bible Promise Book: Too Blessed to be Stressed Edition
Too Blessed to Be Stressed - Promise Book

Due next in July is the Too Blessed to be Stressed 2015 Planner and in September, the Too Blessed to be Stressed Journal, which is a hard cover version of the original paperback with additional space for Too Blessed to be Stressed 2015 Planneranswering “Let’s Decom-Stress” reflection questions and journaling. I’m planning cool contests to give away copies of each one to celebrate their birthdays, so be sure to subscribe to my blog to find out about all the freebies as the news breaks!
In the meantime, I’m throwing a baby shower in reverse! That means I give YOU gifts to celebrate! Keep reading …

A Baby Shower Like No Other

In celebration of my Baby Blessings, I want to see yours! Just shoot me an e-photo of your cherished baby (human, 4-legged or even 4-wheeled) on my CONTACT page by August 8th and you’ll be entered in the drawing to win the Baby Blessing (listed above) of your choice. Winning photos will be posted on my blog in mid-August.

So start snapping those baby photos and send a few my way! Can't wait to see 'em! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Hero is a Snail

A monstrous handful of snail
I was hiking a mountain trail last week when something stopped me in my tracks. It was a sight I truly didn't expect to see.

There, at more than 4,000 feet above sea level, a snail was painstakingly making its way across the gravel road (thankfully it was only a fraction the size of the whopper in the picture).

What in the world was a sea creature doing way up here?

Fascinated, I stopped to watch the little guy's tedious journey as he encountered obstacle after obstacle. (It was, after all, a gravel road.) His little neck stretched out as far as possible, his two antlers (or maybe they're called feelers) probed the gravel rocks - the side of a boulder from his perspective - blocking his way.

After careful analysis, he decided on his best route and gradually, by the teensy-tiniest increments, detoured to the left or to the right around the roadblock. He'd stick his long neck out, then constrict it, which effectively dragged his gigantic safe house after him.

If something spooked him (like a giant named Deb poking around), he immediately retreated into his safe house. At least he thought it was. Safe. I cringed when I thought of what a passing car would do to his place of refuge. Pulverize is putting it mildly. Probably a good thing he didn't know about cars; he might never venture from the bushes.

And then I thought about myself and how so many things scare me enough that I don't want to venture from the bushes either. I'd rather curl up in my (perceived) safe place surrounded by my comfortable shell.

But Papa God didn't create us to cower. We were made to journey. To cross dangerous roads. To stick our necks out, probe with our feelers, and reroute around the boulder blocking our path. Stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward. And to sometimes do it in places w-a-y out of our comfort zone; places we feel like we don't belong, places 4,000 feet above our natural habitat.

That's pretty much how my writing journey feels most days. Like I'm w-a-y out of my habitat. My feelers get a real workout trying to figure out a route around obstacles I've never encountered before, some I never knew existed.

And my safe house doesn't drag as well as it used to. Or maybe my neck's getting tired.

With all these thoughts swirling in my head, I drew inspiration from my little snail friend. He just kept on. Stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward.

Two hours later when I backtracked to check his progress, he was still doing it. Only now he was almost across the road. And that's where I want to be too.

So what's your goal? What motivates you to keep stretching ... probing ... adjusting ... moving forward?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Worthless Versus Priceless

I mop the sweat from my forehead with the already soggy sweatband on my wrist. Summer tennis has it's downs.

But it has its ups too - like fresh air, sunshine, much needed exercise, and that dear little buttercup over there by the net post one court over. Yep, growing in the middle of a sea of pavement on these hard courts, that little sweetie has overcome the odds to sprout in a crack the size of a thimble to bring cheer to my day.

Every time I switch sides of the court, I make it a point to pass by the happy yellow plant and draw inspiration from its tenacity.

Finally, during the third set, I comment on the buttercup's uplifting presence to the three guys sharing my court. I don't know them, really. We just met on the court this morning and recognized that we were similar skill levels and decided to play together. Their ages range from thirtysomething to near sixty.

Their responses completely flabbergast me.

Man #1: "How did that thing get there? I'll pull it up next time we switch sides."
Man #2: "I have some weed killer in my trunk."
Man #3: "Now why did you have to point that out? It's going to drive me crazy until we rip it out."

What??? Are you kidding me? Every single one of them see that beacon of beauty and courage as an aberration to be uprooted and discarded.

Of course I understand that their experience colors their view - these are all men who have been trained for years by society and their wives to seek and destroy any extraneous entities defacing their immaculate lawns. And I realize that buttercups are, by most standards, considered weeds.

But of that I do NOT agree. My childhood memories are rich with buttercups dotting the field by my house, abundantly present in their magnificent amber glory on dewy summer mornings for me to tenderly caress, hold under my sister's chin to confirm her affinity for butter, and gather in a lovely bouquet to express my everlasting love to my momma.

If that's not the definition of a "real" flower, I don't know what is.

So when these guys can't see anything but nuisance in this clearly delightful creation right from Papa God's own hand, I see that it's my mission to enlighten them.

But alas, they will not be swayed. Especially because there's three of them and one of me.

So we must agree to disagree. It's all a matter of perspective: vexation versus inspiration. Pesky weed versus purveyor of pleasure. Worthless versus priceless. Something that should be eliminated or valued. 

Like so many other times in life, our perspective makes all the difference.

What about you, my friend? How do you see a buttercup?    


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking in the Rain

Walking in the rain. Running in the rain. Crying in the rain.

Sounds romantic, right?


I'm sitting here dripping all over my computer chair in the aftermath of doing those very things and I can tell you it wasn't fun at all.

Yeah, I saw the clouds when I started out on my morning prayer walk, but here in central Florida you can never tell when they're gonna just lie around all day threatening but never produce. Sometimes I feel like I live in a bubble and it rains everywhere but my neighborhood. You continuously alter your plans for rain that never comes. You want to yell at the overcast skies Poop or get off the pot!

Oops. If you have delicate sensibilities, please overlook that last statement. Sometimes crude says it best.

Anyhow, I was about 30 minutes away from home when the first fat drops came. Within seconds they crescendoed into a deluge. I looked hopefully down the road for Spouse's rescue vehicle; he's usually on the ball scouting rain-outs on my regular walks or bike outings and like my own personal Daniel Boone, sends out the cavalry immediately.

Then I remembered. He was sick in bed and wouldn't even know if a typhoon hit.

So I trudged down the road like a drowned rat. I had to stick my cell phone in my underwear to try to keep it dry. A drowned rat with a rectangular rump.

No human life was visible anywhere, although the ducks at the pond appeared to be having quite a frolic in the downpour. A dog ran across the road and took shelter beneath a house. I briefly considered joining him.

Then I turned a corner and came upon a silver car, engine running, sitting at the curb in front of a house. Hooray! The driver was in there! Double hooray! It was a woman! (I wouldn't have considered getting in a car with a strange man, but this scenario certainly held promise.)

I began to think the chances of my getting offered a ride home were looking pretty good when I saw her eyeing me as I approached. But then the worst thing happened. She turned away. She began looking everywhere but at me. Like I didn't even exist.

Body language was clear: Go away. You'll find no help here.

Even when I walked within one foot of her car window and paused, pulling the dripping hair from my face and staring imploringly in at her, she kept looking straight ahead at the rain pounding on her windshield and refused to acknowledge my presence or my plight.

Hope drained away like water in a bathtub.

And then I thought about the homeless woman that I drove past yesterday. Her sign said, "Need food for family. Anything will help."

Did I stop? No. Did I help? I didn't.

She's walking through the rain in her life every day. Drowning in the downpour. Yet I keep sitting in my nice dry car staring straight ahead, my body language clear: Go away. You'll find no help here.

But I can change that. I can. Papa's message to me through the raindrops hit home. I can acknowledge the presence and plight of her and others like her. I can. And I will. Because I know all too well how awful it feels to be soaked to the bone and without hope - even temporarily.

How about you? Have you walked in any rain lately that opened your eyes - and maybe even your heart - to others splashing through the puddles beside you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Radical Makeover

My new book covers! 
So what do you think? 
Woo Hoo!

Soooo exciting!

These are the new covers for my two historical novels, The Distant Shore and Billowing Sails. 

My publisher felt it was time for an update and I think they give Emma-Lee, the main character of both books, a fresh new look.

I actually resisted at first - accepting change has never been my forte. But I'm glad I relented now that I've seen what a very talented cover artist can do ... not really altering my perception of who Emma-Lee is, but enhancing the possibilities and engaging the imagination in all that she could be.

It was my desire to keep the distant storm clouds and dark edges on the horizon of The Distant Shore to symbolize the tragedy and mystery that Emma-Lee was thrust into on the island through no fault of her own. Not unlike many of the problems we face every day - problems not of our own making, but problems we must wade through nonetheless.

And the cover artist (whom I've never met or even spoken to) came up with the beautiful brightness and glorious sunbeams (if you read my books, you know how much I absolutely ADORE those symbolic fingers of our Creator reaching down to us in the form of sunbeams!) portraying Emma-Lee's emerging faith and hope in Papa God for Billowing Sails

The use of sunbeams is just another marvelously cool coincidence that isn't.

It's a grace note. An amazing grace note that proves to me yet again that Papa God is involved in every single detail of our lives. Even book cover radical makeovers!

P.S. If you've never read these delightful novels inspired by a true story, good news! They're on sale for $1.99 each for a limited time in e-reader version for both Kindle and Nook. And of course they're also available in print from and as well as anywhere books are sold.