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?