7 Days until “Countdown to Christmas” – Gift Ideas, Recipes, Crafts, Storytelling, and More

Too soon to think about Christmas? Countdown2Xmas.pdf.110714

I can’t believe Christmas is ONLY eight weeks away! I know–I haven’t even planned for Thanksgiving either.

When my friend, Mary Larmoyeux, asked me to plan a Countdown to Christmas workshop with her, I realized the holidays were slipping up on me again. So, I thought this would be a great way to get a jump-start on some of my holiday planning.

I hope you will join us!

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Tempted to Quit? Keep Moving!

My legs quiver as I step onto the sidewalk in front of my home. How can I launch out for a walk feeling so weak?


I take a second step, determined to go forward with my plan to regain my health by exercising.

Obstacles. My motivation to exercise overpowers my temptation to stop. I gain strength in each additional step, as I begin my lesson in perseverance.

But it will not be an easy journey. There are obstacles to overcome and goals to reach. Can I make it?

Resistance. Exercise, like other worthwhile endeavors, demands strength and stamina. The first morning I attempt my new exercise program, everything within me resists it, like opposite poles of two magnets.

I would rather do just about anything other than exercise. So, on my first day out, I let temptation win. I stay home, and I feel guilty the rest of the day.

Failures. By the next morning, my previous day’s failure serves as my primary motivating force. So, I lace up my walking shoes, purchased just for this occasion, and jog slowly out of my garage. My first goal has been accomplished. And the next thing I know, I’m crossing the street facing the next block.

Intimidation. Okay, this is going to be a breeze, I think. But by the time I turn the corner, another fear presents itself, as if to try to stop me in my tracks. An all-male construction crew building a house nearby alarms me because of the recent crimes in my neighborhood. I’m fearful of walking in front of them. But I hold my breath and walk on. I move this obstacle out of the way, as I change my route and proceed in another direction.

Distractions. As I walk uphill, I become short of breath. When I slow down to breathe, a gray squirrel catches my attention. He’s busy burying an acorn in my neighbor’s yard. I watch him as I walk by. When I look up, I’m already at the end of the street, about to turn the corner to complete another block.

Goals. I continue to accomplish small goals as I walk. In a short while, I’ve gone far enough, and I decide to return to my home. My mind is cleared by the fresh air, but my body is affected by the exercise.

When I arrive home, I’m exhausted, but surprisingly refreshed. As I sit down for a cool glass of water before I shower, I recall the distance I’ve covered. I feel good about myself, and I’m grateful that I resisted the temptation to quit.

Strength. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul tells us that the Lord’s “power is made perfect in weakness.”

I find that to be true as I confess my weaknesses to the Lord. Somehow,  I find strength as I face my weaknesses each day.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak … those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength … they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Is. 40:29-31 NIV)

Where have your faced resistance in your life? How did you overcome it?


Choosing the Things That Matter Most

Do you struggle with choosing the things that matter most in your life? Are you wandering through your wilderness of chaos?


A few weeks ago, I wrote about my struggle with focus as a writer, and I invited others  to consider my “40-Day Challenge: Telling the Stories That Matter Most” on the WordServe Water Cooler. Since I struggle with this problem in other areas of my life, I wanted to share my recent WordServe post on my personal blog.

In your busy life, how do you determine which things matter most?

A close examination of our priorities helps a lot. But often in the process of prioritizing, we realize that we’ve neglected some of our greatest concerns—like our health, marriage, children, or faith.

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4 Household Organizational Tips for My Writing Life

At times, I get exhausted chasing all of my writing ideas and plans.


So, after examining the lessons I learned rearranging furniture last week, I realized I needed to rearrange a few things in my writing life, too.

Often I’m tempted to panic when I look at my “to do” list.

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Considering the Power of Our Comfort



… He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us … (2 Cor. 1:4 MSG).

Have you ever been pulled into someone else’s painful narrative? You’ve suffered the pain of losing a loved one. Or you know what it’s like to be left behind. You might be sitting in a waiting room right now.

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Distracted from Your Work?


I am doing a great work and cannot come down …. (Neh. 6:3 HCSB)

A friend reminded me of this scripture a few days ago. [Thanks, Anita.]

Not only do I admire Nehemiah’s perseverance, I admire his ability to resist the temptation to get distracted and pulled away from his work.

Confession. For quite awhile now, I’ve let distractions keep me from completing some of the book projects that the Lord placed on my heart long ago.

I still believe in the importance of my online writing commitments. But I know now that I must allow some focused time for my other writing projects.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to get this next project on target, but until then I want to make this public confession, “I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down!”


So, see you on the other side!


Can you relate to my struggle with distractions? I’d love to hear your story! Leave your comment in the space below. 

StoryPower: Changing Lives and Healing Hearts



When we tell the stories that matter most, lives change and hearts heal – StoryPower!

What stories are you telling about your life? Or rather … what stories are you not telling

I love to encourage others to tell the stories that matter most! And I’ve taught writers of all ages, from children to senior citizens.

Writing and healing. As an adjunct writing instructor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, I noticed many students chose to write about topics dealing with difficult struggles in their lives–like the death of loved ones, flashbacks of war experiences, or simply leaving home and beginning their own journey as adults.

Their essays looked familiar—I related to their pain, confusion, doubts, and fears. And I recognized the need of many of my students to tell their stories—to try to make sense out of their confused and sometimes troubled hearts.

Many of my students told their stories for the first time in my class, and those narratives were some of the best. My students knew that I required them to read their stories aloud, as they recalled their pain, disappointments, and real-life experiences.

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Writing Dilemma


I haven’t posted for awhile on my own blog. So, here I go again–making excuses.

I think I’ll just let someone else explain the problem. Honestly, I just get tired just thinking about it.

Read this article by Leslie Leyland Fields on the WordServe Water Cooler“The Slow-Writing Revolt.” It sort of explains my dilemma.

What’s really funny about this blog post? I tried to reblog Leslie’s post earlier today, and I sent it on one of my old blogs. Oh, brother!

I’m telling you, I really need to stop and re-evaluate this blogging business. I spend so much time trying to correct my mistakes or keep up with the posts that I’ve promised to write for other blogs, it’s no wonder that I can’t “tell the stories that matter most” (my tagline). And I think I’ve had this problem for quite awhile now.

What’s a writer to do? Maybe it is time for a serious look at my writing career. Which stories really do matter most to me? 

So, instead of hashing out this issue with myself for the whole world to see on my blog, I think I’ll just let you enjoy Leslie’s post.

Thanks for the reminder, Leslie!

If you’re a writer, do you find yourself in the dilemma of writing everything BUT the stories that matter most? Just curious …