Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hidden Bonus

A recent Associated Press article grabbed my eye. It was titled, "Sit All Day? Find Time for an Hour's Walk."
See, the thing is, I'm whatever the step is beyond ADD and am afflicted with a sitting attention span of about 20 minutes. Not really a good thing for a writer.  
After a while, my large muscle twitches begin to contort my body into a sort of macabre computer chair dance that makes bystanders think I'm petitioning for rain. 
So I get up, go wash some dishes, put on a load of laundry, do a lap or two around my writing cave and get back to the keyboard for another 20 minutes. 
After a few rounds of this, I'm ready for a change of scenery so I take my first prayer walk of the day. One of many. 
What a pleasant surprise it was to see this article that reinforces that prayer walks are not only good for you spiritually and emotionally, but physically too.
According to a 7/27/16 paper published in the medical journal Lancet, "It takes about 60 to 75 minutes of 'moderate intensity' exercise to undo the damage of sitting" for long periods of time. "Being sedentary is known to be a risk factor for problems including diabetes, heart disease and cancer."
Studies show that brisk walking "helps prevent insulin resistance, keeps the brain active and strengthens the heart, muscles and bones."
And if you add prayer to the mix, walking helps strengthen the heart in more than one way; it floods the darkest chambers with light and droughts of fresh air as Papa God blows out the cobwebs with His sweet, refreshing presence. 
Can't beat that for a bonus round!
So I encourage you to join me today in at least one prayer walk. We can put our twitching muscles to good use, retire the rain dance and maybe even avoid a flood.   

Thursday, August 11, 2016


It was Thanksgiving.

My extended family had gathered from far and wide around the food-laden table: grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, my dear husband and our own beloved children.

The souls most precious to me in all the world.

Noisy, messy, hungry, healthy, happy.

The fact that we were all there together went straight to my heart. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to Papa God for this incredible blessing.

As conversation swelled during the passing of food and heaping of plates, I quietly fled. The lump in my throat threatened to suffocate me and I simply had to find an isolated spot in a back bedroom where I could let loose and weep a little weep (one of my fave lines from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women).

Can you recall a time when you, too, were overcome by emotion?

I came across such a scene in scripture recently ... it was the story of Joseph, when his treacherous, treasonous brothers from his painful past had suddenly reappeared around his own table, not recognizing him, and bringing with them a multitude of conflicting feelings and the little brother he didn't know he had.

"Joseph made a hasty exit because he was overcome with emotion for his brother and wanted to cry. Going into his private room, he wept there" (Gen 43:30, NLT).

I found this passage very confirming and even comforting. We don't always have to be strong ... stoic ... appearing to have it all together. Being overcome with emotion is a good thing sometimes. It cracks the plaster wall of self-confidence we've erected to protect ourselves from wounded feelings.

But when we filter out hurt feelings, we risk forgetting how to feel at all.

So Joseph's plaster cracked. The dignified, game-faced ruler of Egypt, felt that day. He felt deeply. And he wept.

It's okay for us to feel too, dear friends. Weeping a little weep can cleanse the soul.

One parting observation about this passage - I had to LOL at verse 31, which occurred immediately after Joseph's secret purge of erupting emotion:
"Then he washed his face, got a grip on himself, and said, 'Let's eat'" (MSG).

HaHaHa! It's good to know that somebody else is governed by his stomach just like me. How about you?  Does a growling tummy trump your need for a Kleenex?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Collared by Choice

To tug or not to tug ...
My pooch Fenway wears a - wait for it - Boston Red Sox collar.  Bet you didn't see that one coming, huh?
He didn't choose this particular collar, in fact, he much prefers a nekked neck, But because his human daddy is a diehard Sox fan, Fenway received, for his first Christmas in our fam, an official handy dandy Red Sox logo collar. 
The catch: it didn't fit. Fenway has a S neck and the smallest size in the store was M. But because Fenway's human mama is a theme fanatic (and more to the point, the pricey collar was unreturnable), onto his skinny little neck it went.
Our first foray into the neighborhood with the new collar revealed a problem. With a duck of his head just so, Fenway could easily shuck the collar to pursue a taunting squirrel or passing bicycle or whatever captured his fancy at any given moment. 
After the tenth screaming-meanie pursuit of said escaping dog by Alpha Mama (me), Fenway finally caught on that although he could buck the system at will, he shouldn't if he wanted his yummylicious peanut butter & apple flavored doggie treat when we got home.
For him the reward was pure heaven. 
So Fenway made a choice. He stopped ducking his head just so and opted to remain within the parameters imposed by his collar and leash. He wanted to run free, sure, but he wanted something else more.
You know, at some point in time we'll all be treading in Fenway's boots (or should I say paws?): we want to run free, but we want something else more. We crave Papa God's smiling approval. Not His love, mind you, for we'll have that anyway no matter how many squirrels we chase.
Yet we - as a child of God - yearn to feel our Papa's pleasure when we make good choices.  Choices resulting from our decision to delve into, hear and obey His Word.
So the next time a temptingly fuzzy squirrel whizzes by, I need to remind my trembling self of the thing I want even more: a proud pat on the head from Papa God.
For me the reward is pure heaven. 
How about you? 

Friday, July 29, 2016


Just keep going!
I get God-bumps every time my friend Rachael tells me about the miracle in her son Javin's life.

Thirteen years ago, Javin was born deaf.

Rachael, a single mom, first noticed that something was wrong with her baby when he was an infant. Very wrong.

Medical and hearing tests by various specialists at two months and four months confirmed that Javin had no hearing in either ear. Zero. The results were well documented: profound hearing loss.

After many hot tears, Rachael finally accepted her son's handicap, took a shaky breath and began learning to use sign language. The wee fella picked it up quickly and by the time he was nine-months-old, was fluent in over 100 signs. He was a happy little guy and was functioning well. Rachael began looking at special schools and programs for the deaf.

Then something incredible happened.

The day before Javin was scheduled with an audiologist to see if he was a candidate for a cochlear implant, Rachael felt compelled to ask her pastor to pray for Javin.

This was a mainline denomination, mind you, and a regular, run-of-the-mill Sunday morning church service. No special "healer" was present, nor did anyone shout, chant, lay hands on Javin or do anything out of the ordinary. Just before dismissing the congregation, the pastor simply called Rachael up front with her baby and asked everyone to remember them and tomorrow's appointment in prayer. Heads nodded all around.

Believers agreed to join in prayer; many expecting nothing, some were hopeful but unconvinced, and a few diehards were confident that prayer is the nerve that moves the hand of God.

"Lord, please help Javin." Short. Simple, To the point. Just like you and I have prayed for people a hundred times in our own churches and Bible studies, hoping against hope that Papa God will respond.

So it shouldn't really have been to anyone's astonishment that He did.

The next day, after repeating tests for hours, the stunned audiologist pronounced, "His hearing is perfect."

Rachael wept tears of joy. And thirteen years later, her boy still hears the cry of a hawk, the crack of a baseball bat, and the sweet sound of his mother humming in the kitchen. I call that a major grace note.

So BBFF (Blessed Blog Friend Forever), what gives you God-bumps?


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Multitasking Master

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, women do it every day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sizzling Summer Give-Away

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you win, my Hot Hot HOT BBFF!!! 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hard to Swallow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STOP already!

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

I had to laugh. It was so true.

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Perfect Fit

Underwear Evolution
My friend Marianne was sweating out her options.

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

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

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

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

So Marianne prayed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Climbing Chimney Rock

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

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

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

Achieving closeness with Papa God.

Yep, climbing both rocks entail:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fickle Faith

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

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

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

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

O ye of fickle faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

O me of fickle faith.

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

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

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

We're as dense as those dang Israelites.

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hard Doesn't Mean Impossible

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

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

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

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

Say WHAT? Nuh-uh.

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

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

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

Wow. Marinate on that a minute.

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

The litmus test for loyalty often starts with our wallets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So. Who are we missing?

Ah, yes. You. And me.

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

Monday, May 2, 2016

Mother's Day Giveaway Winners!

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

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

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

And here they are:

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

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

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

Michelle Evans     

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

Many thanks to everyone for entering!

Please stay tuned for more giveaways coming down the chute:

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

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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Whimsical Battlefields

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

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

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

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

I'd no choice but to follow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who hasn't felt that way?

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

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

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

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

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

Because we ...


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

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

The stairs really don't ever end.

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

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

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

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

Maybe I should just tell her to take a hike.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Mother's Day Giveaway!

Grand Prize Package
Who doesn't love a BOGO, right?

My new Mother's Day Giveaway is simple: Buy a Cookbook, get a free Baby Blessing!

If you purchase a copy of my award-winning Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook between April 1-30, just CONTACT ME and I'll put your name in the drawing for an awesome Grand Prize Package.

Plus, 5 additional winners will receive BOGO prizes you can share with the beloved ladies in your life on Mother's Day. And you get to choose which of my three newest Baby Blessings will be your prize!

The Grand Prize Package includes an adorable "Will Cook for Shoes" apron (sooo cute!), assorted cool kitchen doodads, a hefty stash of chocolate, and copies of my three newest Baby Blessings:

  • Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook
  • Too Blessed to be Stressed 3 Minute Devotions for Women
  • Too Blessed to be Stressed Coloring Book for Women (plus neon coloring pencils)

So there will be SIX winners in all!

Don't put off til tomorrow what you can win today! I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Oh ... there just might be a special surprise for one of you, my BBFFs (Blessed Blog Friends Forever)!

So be sure to hit the subscribe button (top right) - you never know, it might just be you!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Back to the Beginning

Remember the scene in everybody's favorite
movie, The Princess Bride, when the Brute Squad is emptying the Thieves Forest by order of Prince Humperdinck and a very stubborn, inebriated Spaniard refuses to leave?

Inigo Montoya (played by Mandy Patinkin) has lost his way. His one friend (Fezzik, played by Andre the Giant) has disappeared, and his quest to kidnap Princess Buttercup has fizzled.

Not knowing how to get back on track, he follows original instructions from his Sicilian boss, who, unbeknownst to Inigo, has already been bested by Sweet Wesley in a battle of wits: "Vizzini said if somezing goes wrong, go back to the beginning ... so here I am, back at the beginning!"

That scene flashed through my mind this morning as I was reading the biblical account of Jesus and His boys during the days after his crucifixion and resurrection.

The disciples had fled like field mice in a snake pit during Jesus' trial and crucifixion, but eventually regrouped in time to witness the appearance of their risen Lord in the upper room (John 20:26). After Jesus proved to the last of them (Thomas) that He was indeed the living, breathing Messiah, He vanished.

I imagine this left the disciples in an uber tizzy. "What do we do now?" they must have cried. "How do we find Him again?"

But the two Mary's and Salome, the faithful ladies who'd encountered first the empty tomb and then it's newly evacuated occupant, related Jesus' instructions from that glorious Easter morning. "Tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He said to you'" (Mark 16: 7, NASB).

Notice: Jesus said He'd already told them. Hmm. I guess they forgot.

And being men, I suspect the disciples never would have asked for directions anyway so it's a decidedly good thing that Jesus opted to clue the women in.

(By the way, why do you suppose Jesus singled Peter out in that directive; he was one of the disciples too, right? "Tell His disciples and Peter ...")

So back to Galilee they went, back to their beginning ... to the very place Jesus had called them to himself three years earlier. The place they first met the One who changed everything. The place they began to know and love Jesus. The place where joy and excitement and wonder knocked their dusty sandals off.

Sure enough, Jesus met them there. Being in His presence fired them up enough to change their world.

The beginning's not only a good place to start, it's a GREAT place to return to when we've gotten lost and off-track. When our friends and goals have disappeared; when our vision for the future is gone.

If we return to the joy and excitement and wonder of the time and place Jesus first called us to Himself, His presence will surely fire us up enough to change our world too.

Happy Resurrection Day, my dear BBFFs!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Yup. I'm a piler, not a filer. 
Every woman has her own organizational style. That's not to say mine is better than yours, but hey. It is.

The scene to your left is what I see every day from my computer chair. It's my reference file as I slave away on my 365-day Too Blessed to be Stressed devo set to release in January, 2017.

This file (loosely termed, of course) contains 6 Bible translations, all the books in my "Take On Life" series, several devo compilations I've worked on, 2 topical scripture books, and 3 of my fave go-to references for the numerous names of God.

(I can't believe Papa God isn't one of them, but that's for another post.)

My pile - I mean file - is completely accessible and user-friendly. I can instantly spot what I need and it takes no time at all to refile material for future reference. A simple flick of the wrist will suffice.

Can you say as much about your organizational system, hmmm?

The only downside is that my office floor hasn't seen the underbelly of a vacuum in 6 months, but the roaches seem to be enjoying their soccer matches with the dust bunnies. As long as dog hair tumbleweeds don't roll past the hallway and venture into the kitchen, I'm good.

By the way, if you're a BBFF (Best Blog Friend Forever), you'll be happy to hear that after my pathetic lament about the ravages of Spontaneous Degeneration (scroll back two posts), I now have a sweet domestic savior who will begin excavating my living room in April. God bless her very soul.

So tell me honestly - how many of you neatniks out there felt your teeth go to edge when you first laid eyes on today's photo? Go ahead - lay it on me, baby. I can take it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Radical Grace

Good match.

Nice slice.

I hate your stinkin' guts.

Which of these would you not expect to hear while shaking hands across the tennis net at the end of a match?

Well, I've heard 'em all. Although the last was supposedly tongue-in-cheek, I suspect there was hidden truth there. (Actually I'm sure of it because it was me speaking.)

Just kidding.


Anyway, the point is - losing sometimes clogs our spirits with nasty. Whatever graciousness might usually reside there is thrown under the bus of frustration. We are ANGRY because we/our team/our kid didn't dominate. So anything goes. Let 'er rip. Diplomacy be hanged.

We tell ourselves that's just sports. Part of competition. So it's okay. But it's not.

So imagine my surprise when, at the end of a league match a few weeks ago (in league play, tension is high because the match counts either for your team or against with a championship at stake), my opponent (who lost) did something completely unexpected.

I still can hardly believe it. Are you ready?

She gave me her shoes. Her shoes. 

Yep. She shook my hand, asked my shoe size, then handed me the $80 Nike's she'd only worn once."Try them on," she said, mopping her sweaty brow. "They don't fit me right. If you like them, they're yours."

I back-pedaled big time, boy. She'd been a tough, grisly, no-nonsense competitor and I was all ready to dislike her. Then she sucked the wind right out of my sails.

She took me so by surprise I couldn't seem to put a cohesive sentence together. Sputtering nonsense, I plunked down, tried on the perfectly fitting shoes and watched her walk away barefoot with a "so that's that, then" smile and nod.

I was totally reeling the rest of the day. Why in the world would someone be that nice?

Radical grace knocked me upside the head. And made me think. Why is extending grace to someone you don't really know or even like so shocking? Especially for emulators of Jesus. He was the epitome of grace in forgiving his own executioners; aren't we supposed to be more like Him?

Or more precisely, aren't I supposed to be more like Him?

I love my new tennies. I think about that incredibly gracious gal every time I wear them. And they remind me to be radical.

Tell me, when have you last experienced radical grace?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Ravages of Spontaneous Degeneration

NOT my living room ... yet. But I'm gettin' there. 
I'm living a domestic nightmare.

Little piles of harmless clutter have gradually turned into lurching Stonehenge precipices that threaten to avalanche and bury my living room.

Friends write finger notes to me in the dust on my coffee table.

My kitchen sink is evolving back into the frightening pit it once was when excavating down through layers of left-behind refuse revealed how many potatoes I peeled for Easter dinner in 2006.

Shudder. I feel so .. so... helpless.

It all started the day after my friend Teresa, who has faithfully organized and cleaned my house once a month for the past five years, left me.

Sniff. Yes, she left me.

Somehow - what was she thinking? - Teresa decided that her hubs being promoted to a new job in another state was good enough reason to leave me to the ravages of Spontaneous Degeneration.

You remember Spontaneous Degeneration, right? The Coty Near-Fact of Science I shared in my book, Too Blessed to be Stressed?  Well, here then - let me remind you:

My theory of Spontaneous Degeneration declares that when left in an unnaturally clean state, matter will spontaneously atrophy into indiscriminate disarray.

Yup. You've seen it happen.

A hour after you triumphantly finish slaving over a clean house, mold begins sprouting on shiny faucets, green slime oozes from the vegetable crisper, tiny hairs creep up from the drain and embed themselves in the bathroom sink. Dust bunnies proliferate for a closet reunion.

Black dirt erupts like lava from the carpet nap, clothing magically appears on every piece of sit-able furniture, dirty panties peek from behind hampers just in time for the dog to proudly present them to dinner guests.

You know it's true. And sadly, I am completely defenseless against Spontaneous Degeneration. I have not been blessed with cleaning skills. None.

I am NOT Martha Stewart. Or even the biblical Martha who zipped around cleaning, cooking, and organizing when the Son of God came to visit (Luke 10: 38-42).

On the best of days, I'm neat, but not immaculate. Orderly, but not obsessed. Clean enough for health, dirty enough for happiness.

But I'm in the middle of writing a book (the Too Blessed to be Stressed Daily Devotional, scheduled to release in 2017) that requires my undivided attention if I'm to make my publisher's deadline. So on the clean house continuum, these are not my best of days.

So I've come up with a plan. I shall wear really, really dark sunglasses and leave the lights off. Spouse and I will don shin guards and helmets to avoid injury from the refuse piles and we'll dine out every night at the homes of friends and relatives until they never want to see us again.

So don't expect to be invited to my house anytime soon. But I'll be calling you!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Feb Drawing Winners!

A glorious good morning to you, BBFFs!

Actually, it's 5 a.m. as I'm writing this, so it's hard to tell how glorious it is in the pitch dark, but, hey, I have faith.

I was too excited to sleep with the 3 new winners of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook drawing dancing in my head, so without further ado, here they are:

Mary Altman
Faith McDonald
Dotty Rondelli

Congrats girls! Just message me your mailing addresses ASAP and your prize will soon be winging its way to you!

Many, many thanks to all who entered ... stay tuned for another contest right around the bend. The Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook will be a terrific Mothers Day gift for the stressed ladies in your life, so if you buy one, you can win another for FREE!

A special shout out to the men who entered the drawing - you go, fellas! I'm hoping to see a few Toms, Dicks, or Harrys on the next winners list.

Cookies & Cream Heaven
So with the Wt. Loss Challenge over (but not for me - I'm determined to shed another 6 lbs if it kills me!), I can get back to posting the decadent dishes from the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook on Pinterest (be sure to follow my Cookbook page!).

I was trying not to sabotage anyone's diets so I've been posting only recipes from the healthy section.

But now ... hehehe [wicked chuckle] I'm going to do my durndest to make you drool all over your keyboard.

Listen BBFFs, I LOVE seeing your fave recipes from the TBTBS Cookbook on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, so please keep posting those notes and photos and don't forget to tag me. Hearing from you sure makes my day!

Together, let's Eat Stress-Free in 2016!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pooh on PAH

"Am I beautiful, even though I am the only person looking at me?"

I saw this question on the blog of a lovely young writer named Barb Abel, a single mom of two who wrestles with self-esteem.

I think it sums up the space many of us occupy: Do we respect ourselves enough to consider ourselves beautiful?

And with the start of a new year, most of us are taking a critical gander at our abundant midsections and don't like what we see.

So with my February Weight Loss Challenge (3 lbs in 3 weeks) underway (scroll back to previous posts if you're clueless), I thought I'd share a few of the facts I dug up while doing research for my book, More Beauty, Less Beast. These are from the "Flab is Drab" chapter on outer beauty (although most of the book focuses on inner beauty).

1. It costs big bucks to pack extra pounds. Researchers found that with all things considered (clothes, sick days, food costs, etc), the annual cost of being overweight for women is $524 and a whopping $4,879 if you're obese (40% or more over your ideal body weight based on height, gender, and age).

2. For every 2.2 pounds gained after age eighteen, women's odds of surviving past seventy drop 5%. Prevalent diseases are cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  

3.Abdominal fat is scary. If your waist circumference is larger than 35 inches, regardless of your health or weight, you have twice the risk of dying prematurely.

4. Like me, many women add 2-3 pounds per year as they age. I call this "Boo Baggage." It sneaks up on you little by little over a decade or two, until one day, thirty rotten, stinking pounds jump out from behind you (or maybe even from your behind) and yell Boo!

5. If you spend eight or more hours per day sitting in front of a computer (or TV), the fat-burning chemicals in your body are diminished by 50%.

Now to be perfectly honest, dear BBFF (Best Blog Friend Forever), I'm hungry as I write this. And despite all these hard cold facts I've just written that should convince anyone to shed those extra pounds, I've got a jar of nuts on my desk that's missing a handful. I was about to say I don't know where they could be - I really don't remember eating a single one - but I just realized I have an odd salty taste in my mouth and a tiny piece of something decidedly nut-like between my front teeth.


Such is the conundrum. The spirit's willing but the flesh is weak. And the Godiva is far too handy.

For those of you who joined me in the January Wt Loss Challenge first leg of my Eating Stress-Free and Healthy in 2016 Contest, and reached the goal of losing 3 or more pounds, I applaud wholeheartedly.

Listen, I reached the goal after the deadline but IT STILL COUNTS. (Hey, it's my contest and I'm makin' up the rules!)

Still, I'm trying again in Feb. The can of nuts has hereby been banished from the house.
I hope you'll give it another go too (except the stinker who wrote that she's ten pounds UNDERweight and her doctor would shoot her if she lost any more), regardless of your results so far.

Sister, let's fight together against the ravages of PAH: Physiological Aging Hypothesis. That's my Coty Near-Fact of Science that states as a woman's age creeps northward, her body parts travel south, and hips expand to incredible new horizons east to west.  

Pooh on PAH. I'm tired of being all over the map; how about you?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Eating Stress-Free & Healthy Winners

Congrats to these Too Blessed to be Stressed winners in the first leg of my Weight Loss Challenge! (And YES, even if you missed out the first time, you'll have a second chance to join the challenge ... read on!)

Of all the brave souls accepting the challenge to lose 3 pounds in 3 weeks during January, these five were drawn to win autographed copies of my new Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook. 

And the winners are:

Bonnie Ewing
Michele Doyle
Joy Herlocker
Susan Scott
Barbara Lamb

Now, girlfriends, you'll be able to keep eating stress-free and healthy while enjoying the delicious low-fat, fiber-rich, and low-cal recipes from my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook. So you just might just be up for ANOTHER challenge, right?

Yep, we're doing a second challenge in Feb, BBFF's! Same rules apply as the first challenge, but it will run from Feb 3-Feb 24. (See details on the Eating Stress-Free & Healthy in 2016 Contest page on my website,)

Whether you've already taken a first step toward a healthier you, or you're just gathering steam to begin, the Weight Loss Challenge is your opportunity to join hands with me and do it together.

Oh, mustn't forget to give well deserved applause to the challengers who met their goal of losing 3 or more pounds in January:
Joy (lost 4 lbs and 8 inches), Bethany (lost 5 lbs), and Susan (lost 4.6 lbs).

As for me? Can you hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth issuing from your screen? It's me. Sigh. I'm sad to say I fell just short of my goal ...  I shed 2.7 lbs. But I fully intend to hang in there for the next challenge and trim off 6 total lbs by Feb 24.

How about you? Are you with me?

I need to hear from you by FB or e-mail (you can reach me through my website contact page) that you're all in to take the Feb 3 lbs in 3 weeks challenge. WE CAN DO IT!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Gettin' Antsy

I'm happy to introduce guest blogger Phyllis McKinley to you today. I loved her response to my weight loss challenge (scroll back to the previous few posts if you're in the dark about my Eating Stress-Free & Healthy in 2016 Contest).

I hope you'll join Phyllis and me today! Hey, we'll even pro-rate losing 3-lbs in 3-weeks to losing 2-lbs in 2-weeks so the first set of  winners will still be drawn on Feb 2.

Okay, take it away, Phyllis ...

Gettin' Antsy

I was unwilling to release my social security number and bra cup size to join an online weight loss site. I did not want any more cartons of portion-controlled meals arriving at my door. The packaging (breaded and deep-fried with a scoop of marinara on top) tasted better than the food.

I had abandoned green shakes that substituted fresh grass clipping for smelly spirulina. I reasoned: cows eat grass. I eat cheese. Must be okay.

I knew I would never lose twenty pounds in two months unless I had my lips stapled.

Then I read Debora Coty's challenge: lose three pounds in three weeks. Perfect!

I'd attempted to lose three pounds twenty-two times before, but I knew this time I would succeed. Why? Because it was a challenge! I grew up in a family where "encouragement" was deemed useful as lawn ornaments in winter. My siblings and I became successful just to prove to my skeptical parents that we could do it.

Debora's challenge had another benefit: It was a simple first step. I've learned that breaking things down into baby steps - even tiny ant-sized steps - inches me toward reaching a goal.

"Go to the ant, you sluggard. Consider her ways and be wise ..." (Proverbs 6:6 NKJV)

Considering the ant enlightened me about which goals to focus on. I discovered ants cannot chew solid food. Instead they squeeze juice from bits of food, then throw away the leftover dry parts. Suddenly I knew I was ready to shed the husks of my life and focus on the sweetest parts.

To do this "winnowing," I know I will need to take persistent little steps and have the support of my "colony."

So I'm all in. I accept the challenge. How about you?

Phyllis McKinley, award-winning poet and author of five books, is a former Canadian. Her prose has been published in several Florida Writers Collections and Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Baby Steps Toward a Healthier You

DIET: Did I Eat THAT???
New year, new rear.

Ha! Ya gotta love the 2016 Weight Watchers slogan. Short. Concise. Chock-full of hope.

Exactly what we all want to feel at the start of a brand new year - hope, right?

And that's what I'm hearing from my BBFF's (Blessed Blog Friends Forever) who have accepted the 3 pounds in 3 weeks weight loss challenge in my Eating Stress-Free & Healthy in 2016 contest.

If this is news to you, scroll back to my previous post and catch up. Then keep reading; you're getting another chance to win-win.

Hearty 4-Bean Salad

Yep - by entering, not only are you taking the first baby step toward a healthier you, you're also sweetening your chances of winning an autographed copy of my new, award-winning Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook. 

Therein you'll find LOTS of easy, tasty, healthy recipes that take less than 20 minutes hands-on prep time so you can continue eating stress-free and healthy in the months to come. I'll post a few that have helped me lose 2 1/2 pounds in 2 weeks already.
Delicious Fish Fillets

And you know what? After you lose that first 3 pounds, 3 more won't seems so hard. Then who knows? You absolutely could have a new rear in the new year!

So if you snoozed through the first round of the challenge, not to worry. I've decided to EXPAND your chance to SHRINK. We'll run a second leg of the 3 pounds in 3 weeks weight loss challenge from Feb 3 - Feb 25.

(More info will be in my e-newsletter coming out next week; if you haven't signed up for it, do so now at my website

Just committing to the challenge will get your name in the pot once; actually losing the 3 pounds will get you in there twice. More chances to win!
Sweet Potato Home Fries

The drawing for 3 additional copies of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook will be announced right here on Feb 25.

So don't be stubborn like that furry dude in the picture above. I hear he's on a light diet: starts eating when the sun comes up.

Hey, he may be stuck with his hind quarters but you're not! Won't you join me in taking that first step toward a healthier new year?

*A shout-out to my blogging buddy Elizabeth Hoagland for the great weight loss funnies.