Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Countdown Help

It's three days until Christmas. Are we delighted or debilitated?
Try these five easy tips to make next year's holiday season more joyful than Tiny Tim on Christmas morning.

nativity scene
courtesy of stockimages

5) Prep for next year. Get in the habit of post-Christmas and other clearance shopping. 

Watch for new-in-package items at garage sales and thrift shops. 

Keep the gifts in a tote, and you'll have a head start for next Christmas. 
Try it for birthdays and baby showers too. 

4) Limit spending. Set a gift budget and stick with it, even when those mounted singing reindeer heads beckon. 

Re-gifting is great, especially if you've received a mounted singing reindeer head.
When you get a potential re-gifting item, tape a note on it. 
Include the date and who it's from to keep from giving it back to the original giver.

3) Break Tradition. If you always cook a feast for your extended family, ask each member to bring along a side-dish instead. 

You'll save time and money. Plus it assures your guests of one dish they'll enjoy--their own. 

Create new traditions, like taking a special family outing in lieu of gifts. Seriously, how many Xbox games do your children need?  

2) Under-commit. It's OK to say no. "Sorry, I can't host the ... cook the... head up the ..."  No need to explain why. 
A simple, "I'm sorry, I can't." suffices. 

You might need to repeat it several times, or threaten them with a mounted singing reindeer head, but it will work.

nativity scene
courtesy of digidreamgrafix @

1) Remember why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Focus on the joy of Jesus birth. Let cooking, cleaning, and shopping take a back seat to the great news found in Luke 2:11:

"The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Turkey Day? No Way!

CAUTION: this message contains blatant subliminal messages. (Happy Thanksgiving.)
Beware, intrepid readers.

Today is Thanksgiving.
For some indefinable reason, lately I hear it labeled "Turkey Day."
Photo courtesy of

 (Happy Thanksgiving.)

Let's stop that insidious madness before it spreads. Okay, maybe that's too strong of a term, but it's kinda' fun to say, "insidious madness."

If you don't believe me, say, "insidious madness" out loud three times. Doesn't it roll off your tongue perfectly?

Photo courtesy of Apolonia @
( Happy Thanksgiving.)

This is a day to give God thanks. Something that we should do every day anyway.   

(Happy Thanksgiving.)

"Turkey Day" doesn't convey the meaning of Thanksgiving. The message of Thanksgiving. The joy of Thanksgiving. 
Chickens giving thanks that they aren't turkeys.

(Happy Thanksgiving.)

"Happy Turkey Day," is misleading to the poor turkeys. C'mon, how happy are they today? 

(Happy Thanksgiving.)

Saying, "Lord, thank you for all you've blessed me with," makes better sense, doesn't it? 

(Happy Thanksgiving.)

Even in the midst of sorrow, trial, tribulation, pressure, flat tires, clogged sinks, and colicky babies, we can find something to be grateful for.

Photo courtesy of Naypong@
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thes5:15 NLT 

So friends, whatever your circumstances, I pray you enjoy a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.


Election Day Encouragement

It's election Day here in the USA. During this campaign season, negativity grew like a brontosaurus on steroids.

Despite the mud-slinging mayhem, we still have an amazing opportunity.

We get to vote.

Yep, we have the incredible privilege of voicing our opinions through the ballot box.

And wherever we stand on an issue, whichever candidates we endorse, people are not our enemy.

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Eph 6:12

What should we do if a rabid wolverine would be a better choice than the elected candidate?

We pray for them.

"Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity." 1Tim 2:2
God isn't pacing around his throne room muttering, 
"Holy smoke, I didn't see that coming! Oh snap, what now?"

God isn't moved.
God isn't worried.
God is love.

Our options: 
A) Fuss, fret, and fume over the election.
B) Draw closer to the Lord, and show His love to others.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

In these dark times, let's blaze God's brilliant light across this land, and across this world.

Whatever the election outcome, we can hold fast to Jesus words, 

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  
But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 NLT

Photo courtesy artur84

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Simply Happy

Q: What happens to a former Wall Street whiz when she buys the Chicken Soup for the Soul enterprise?

A: She gets Simply Happy.

After reading a ka-billion Chicken Soup stories, editor-in-chief Amy Newmark became happier. Waaaay happier.

The positive messages in the best-selling book series inspired her to write Simply Happy: A Crash Course in Chicken Soup for the Soul Advice and Wisdom.

In my mind, people like Amy Newark exist in a nebulous, far-off land, like the Aflac duck or the Michelin Man. 

But Amy sent me a copy of her book with an enclosed letter reading,

 ". . . In this book, I cite some stories that had a big impact on me, and your story is one of them!"

Nice form letter, I thought. 

But as I read her book I came across excerpts from my story "Someone Else's Blessing" in Chicken Soup: The Joy of Less.

Whoa Nellie! Commence Happy Dance!

Amy Newmark won me over earlier this year with a handwritten note on my pay stub for "Made in America" in Chicken Soup: The Spirit of America.

Amy's note read, "Thank you! I absolutely loved this one. I'm telling it in interviews a lot!"

That note felt akin to finding an autographed copy of the Bible. 

 "Dear Jeanie, Hope you enjoy Psalms. Love, God."

Realization dawned. 

Maybe people like Amy are like the rest of us--busy with kids and spouses and deadlines and insurance payments and community service. 

And busy doesn't need to equal grumpy.

Amy shares some killer advice in Simply Happy, like  

“Stop listening to that negative little voice inside your head.”


“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”

Speaking of great advice, God shares His throughout the bible. 

...Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear... 

...Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?  
And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

... Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need."

Embrace this encouragement from the ancient prophet Nehemiah:

"Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"

Q: Who can we encourage today with our positive attitudes?
A: It starts with ourselves.

Now I'm heading back to the hospital to visit my father-in-law.
Despite the darkness, I choose to bring him joy.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Craigslist in Heaven?

Does anyone else read Craigslist, the free online want-ads, for giggles?

The perpetually misspelled ads cheer me when I get tired of looking at my own misspellings.

Armoires, those tall wardrobe cabinets, pose a challenge. Craigslisters usually refer to them as armwars or armwores.

There's plenty of "Rot Iron Patio Sets" and "Chase Lownjes."

But my favorite is the inadvertent humor found in the "Free" column. 

Free Chickens:  I was driving and I hit their mother, so I took them in and cared for them. Very health and looking to get rid of them. Call...

Free brown leather rocker recliner:  Leather continues to peel. Great if you use a cover. Text for address and i can sit outside of garage door.

Free water bottle: Works great! Ask for 5 dollars.

Pile of junk tires: need gone asap please someone come get sick of looking at them!!!!

Sometime we may feel as though our luster is gone.
That our value is diminished.
That God is ready to list us in the "Free" column of a heavenly want-ad.

That, my friend, is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

The truth is we are valuable to God. He sees us as precious. He loves us with an everlasting love.

". . .  I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." Jeremiah 31:3

And here's more good news:

"Don’t be afraid, for the Lord . . . will be with you; he will not fail nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 

So relax. The only thing in heaven's "Free" column is God's love.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A 50 year mystery revealed

  • Picture
    My new-found sister Marianne.
    In my last blog I promised to reveal why my posts are coming at 1/2 speed.

    I planned to share about all our family's "growth opportunities." 
    Death, divorce, disaster, hospitalizations, exhaustion . . . blah, blah, blah.

    But incredible news has overshadowed it all.

    Last month learned I have a sister.
    A real, flesh and blood sister.

    A wonderful couple raised my sister, surrounding her with love, laughter, and family. Growing up, she knew she was adopted, her parent's chosen daughter. Their cherished gift.

    My three precious little brothers and I grew up never knowing another sibling existed 500 miles from us.

    Fifty years passed.
    Adoption laws changed.
    Birth records were unsealed.
    Marianne contacted our family.

    And my life has ablaze with joy ever since.

    The old Patty Duke show theme song touches on our uncanny likenesses:
    "They laugh alike, they walk alike, At times they even talk alike — "

    Since meeting my new sister and her incredible husband, Mike, exhilaration has replaced the weariness I'd been fighting for the past year.
    (OK--giddy, slightly exhausted exhilaration.)
    Marianne and "Energizer Bunny" hubby Mike
    Marianne and I are continually praising God for bringing us together.

    If you're slogging through obstacles and a surprise sibling hasn't suddenly appeared to rejuvenate your life, remember God's promise in ancient writings:

    "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten..."
    Joel 2:25 (ASV)

    God hasn't forgotten you. Lean into Him. Ask Him for rest. Seek Him for restoration.

    Also, try
    Michael Hyatt's top 10 energy boosters.
    His number 1 tip is crucial: Connect with God. (Click here to see the rest.)

  • Sunday, July 17, 2016

    Behind the Scenes

    Readers have asked why my bi-monthly blog has become less regular than an octogenarian without prune juice. 

    Stay tuned for the surprising behind-the-scenes answer. 

    Friday, June 10, 2016

    The Marriage-Saving Can Opener

    I enjoy contributing to the Chicken Soup for the Soul books because of their positive messages. 
    Bellevue Library's AuthorFest 2016

    Their newest release, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America, includes my story, "Made in America."

    Here it is in its original form.  

    "Made in America."
    (formerly titled, "Together We Can…Opener")

     "Open you stupid tuna can!" I shrieked, banging it with the malfunctioning can opener.
    My husband Jake raced into the kitchen to see what had turned his sweet-tempered wife into a screeching madwoman.
    My eyes blazed fire--or hunger. I held out the off­ending object. 

    “This worthless can opener stopped working just like all the others, and it's only a few months old. I'm sick of fighting to open a can.” 
    Jake shot me a condescending look. “Give it here. I'll open it.”
    His stance emanated confidence.

    I placed the implement of evil in his outstretched palm.

    He put the opener on the can and rotated the handle half a turn.
    The opener slipped off and sent the can skittering across the counter.
    “Hmm, I must not have gotten it on tight enough,” Jake said.
    He tried again.
    The can slid off the opener and plopped onto the laminate floor. Jake swooped it up with the speed of a falcon dive-bombing a mouse.

    I crossed my arms and with superhuman effort restrained my, "I told you so."
    Years of marriage had taught me this wasn't the appropriate time to gloat.
    Besides, I still wanted my tuna.

    “I hate this cheap foreign made stuff,” Jake grumbled as he battled the opener.
    Each attempt resulted in the same thing: a multi-punctured can sliding across the kitchen counter in a spray of fishy water.
    Like players in an air hockey match, Jake and I took turns blocking the can’s escape.
    I was tempted to try Jake's giant bolt cutters

     After multiple tries his jaw clenched so tightly I couldn’t tell if he was swearing under his breath or speaking in tongues.
    I watched my husband do a Bruce Banner, morphing into a middle-aged version of the Hulk. "Hulk mad! Hulk can’t open tuna!"

    We stood sweaty and panting in the kitchen. We’d turned can opening into an aerobic activity.

    “Why’d you buy such crummy junk,” Jake fumed.

    He held up the opener which was now jammed on the can.
    I glared back. "It’s a name brand, just like all the others. I assumed they'd work."
    Just then the can opener suddenly came undone.
    The dented tuna can flew across the kitchen. Tuna water sprayed a wild arc throughout the room.
    Jake threw the opener in the trash. I think I heard it laughing.
    Evil can opener banishment area

    "What about my tuna?" I asked.
    Jake’s jaw muscles twitched. “Go buy a better opener,” he said, wiping tuna flecks from his shirt.
    I left my husband on clean-up detail and headed to the store.
    In the houseware aisle utensils gleamed under the florescent lights like knights in shining armor.

    Their name brand logos lured my commercial-soaked brain.
    I grabbed the first can opener and flipped it over. The tiny “Made in China” letters mocked me.
    I picked up the next big name brand. Sure enough, “Made in China.”
    I worked my way along the offerings. All made in China.

    Heroic "Made in America" can opener
    One lone opener beckoned. I saw the price tag and muttered, “Holy mackerel, this one’s twice the price of the others.” 
    I lifted it and realized it weighed substantially more than its competitors.
    A bold “Made in America” graced the package front, right next to the “Ten Year Warranty” guarantee.
    The handle opened and closed effortlessly. The wheel mechanism glided smoother than an Olympic figure skater.
     I put it in my basket and headed for the checkout when my Cheap-omiter put in its two cents worth.
    “Don’t get that. It costs more.”

    An hour earlier I’d been one step away from chain-sawing a tuna can.
    Now I hesitated to spend more for a better product. 

    A mental image formed as I vacillated in the aisle.
    I pictured a father working in a U.S. can opener factory.
    The factory closes because I keep buying cut-rate inferior products.
    The dad can't find another job.
    His wife can't support the family on her income.
    They lose their home, and the children are devastated.
    All dire scenarios. But at the risk of sounding unpatriotic and selfish, I still wanted to open my tuna can.

    "Stop being so chintzy," I chided myself, "Buy this can opener and help that dad keep his job."
    I bought the American made opener, much to my husband's delight. 

    Food cans trembled before its mighty onslaught.
    My houseware aisle revelation expanded.
    Jake and I decided we'd buy American made goods to support our countrymen who were supporting their families.

    Now we enjoy “Made in America" benefits.
    Tuna induced happiness
    Our higher quality products function better.
    We’re helping American families.
    And we can open any tuna can in the house.