Category: holiday

‘12 Days of Christmas’ – a different kind of devotional

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As soon as I started reading Matthew McCarrick’s “12 Days of Christmas: A Christmas Devotional,” I knew it was going to be a different type of Christmas reading plan.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.

The basics are there: Christmas is about hope, sacrifice, Jesus’ love for the world — and angels. 🙂

It’s also about sorrow, suffering, loss, evil, fear, dragons (yep, you heard that right) and other things that we tend to gloss over this time of year.

McCarrick pulls from stories and perspectives we may not have thought about in relation to the Christmas narrative, and I’m always eager to read familiar stories from a different angle.

Take Joseph, for instance.

How did this young man feel when he was called to stay with Mary, his betrothed, who was now pregnant — but not by him?

What thoughts might have run through his mind as he pondered the wisdom of obeying God — not only the angel’s instruction to take Mary as his wife but, later, to escape to Egypt with his young family because Herod was out to kill the Christ child?

“As I read this story, it struck me that Joseph was afraid,” McCarrick writes.

But Joseph obeyed, despite his fear. And we can take comfort in that because we won’t escape life without fear.

And that’s OK.

In fact, McCarrick devotes a couple of chapters to Joseph and his faithfulness, despite what must have been challenging emotions.

McCarrick also talks about the Year of Jubilee that’s described in the Bible. I’ve always loved the idea of Jubilee (in fact, I’ve given that name to a character in the book I’m writing) — but I’ve never seen the Year of Jubilee mentioned in a Christmas devotional.

And Revelation.

When you think of RED at Christmastime, is a red dragon the first thing that comes to mind?

I didn’t think so.

McCarrick — continuing to think outside the stable — refers to the red dragon in Revelation 12:1-7.

“The battle for Christmas is a battle for your soul,” McCarrick writes.

This is where he challenges the reader to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, our rescuer and deliverer.

Yes, this is a different Christmas devotional. It’s full of messy stories, hardship and sorrow — but, ultimately, those stories are grounded in HOPE.

At the moment, 12 Days of Christmas is FREE on the Kindle app. Click here to download it.

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Help me write a movie and be entered to win!

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My mother and I are in the throes of our annual Hallmark Christmas movie obsession, fueled by visions of Christmas cookies (that we can’t have), beautiful decorations and lots of actors with white teeth and perfect hair.

This starts around Thanksgiving and ends around New Year’s Day. On Saturday afternoons, no matter what I still need to get done around the house, I head to Mom’s, sometimes with Bruce, sometimes without. Husband, being the good sport he is, will watch with us (I think he secretly enjoys some of them).

At the moment, there are no football games to interrupt our viewing, so we veg out for hours. (We may need an intervention!)

Part of the fun of a formulaic movie is saying the lines right along with the characters.

You know, the phrases that are oh-so-predictable and you could write them in your sleep 🙂 — generic phrases in response to predictable plot developments, such as:

There are rules about this kind of thing.

“Rules are made to be broken.”

You know what I mean.

And after a random phrase like that, I’ve been known to exclaim proudly, “I could write these!”

Bruce used to roll his eyes (or ignore me), but lately he has joined in the fun. He could write these movies, too!

We say that with confidence, but it’s only because we’ve never tried. I realize that much more goes on before a movie is ever made, much more behind the scenes than we will ever know. But, still, many of them seem to be manufactured with fill-in-the-blank templates, and I thought I’d give it a try.

So, in the spirit of holiday cookies, movies and ho-ho-ho, I want to know how much Christmas spirit you have.

You’re going to write a Christmas romance with me!

You’ll get two benefits: You’ll be entered to win a $50 gift card (two winners; details in the survey) and Santa will put you on his Nice List. OK, I just thought of a third (and maybe the best) benefit: You’ll have fun!


  • Fill out the multiple-choice survey below to help me with the details of the script. (Title will be chosen after we decide on the basic elements, but feel free to offer suggestions!)
  • We’ll choose a winner at random at 9 p.m. Central on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017.
  • The winner will be contacted by email and will choose from five gift cards (list is in the survey below).
  • Please share this so that your friends can join in the fun! (Not a requirement for participation.)

I can’t end this without a word about the reason we have Christmas in the first place. If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, seek out someone in your community who can help you know Him, or reach out to me here for a conversation. No obligation, just a simple conversation about the hope that I have within me.

Be sure to share!

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Recipe: Deby’s Teriyaki Marinade

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This teriyaki marinade is great for holiday grilling of chicken, salmon, shrimp or, heck, probably any type of meaty protein. I’ve never tried it with veggies, but there’s always a first time, right? Be adventurous and experiment. Now, go get your grill on!

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Well, Well, Well: tips & tools 11/02/15

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wellwellwell3 - tips & toolsEach week I bring you three tools, tips, articles, recipes or other resources that I find useful or interesting on the journey to wellness. Feel free to suggest your own helpful hints and tips by leaving a comment (see Comment link above).

Here are this week’s three:


Fellow Arkansas Women Bloggers member Mary knows what it’s like to be stressed out (don’t we all?), and one way she deals with that is by being organized and helping others do the same.

As we all know, the calendar has rolled over to November and our schedules are about to kick into hyperdrive (as if they weren’t already overloaded). That’s why I was happy to discover Mary’s cute, festive and oh-so-helpful (and did I mention cute?) holiday planning guide, including a checklist for meal planning, travel prep, gift buying and more.

Holiday-Guide-Image-2015Check it out: Holiday Guide: Calendar & Checklists



DoOverCoverSometimes laughter is the best medicine (especially when “someone” has already eaten your square of emergency chocolate). I’ve been following Do Over author and speaker Jon Acuff for a few months, since participating in a Michael Hyattpromoted webinar in the spring. I can totally relate to Jon: He has an unnatural 🙂 obsession with trying to make people laugh (and he doesn’t fall flat on his face nearly as much as I do!); he’s a writer; and he wants to make a difference in the world.

Maybe you won’t get this one if you’ve never thought of writing a book, never worried what others think, never tried to change the world with your brilliance and generosity 🙂 … but I think he nailed it.

Check it out: Writers are crazy. Here’s proof I am.



Elizabeth'sSpaghettiAndTableI didn’t battle a weight problem until I was about 30. By my birthday that year, my hips had grown wider than I was accustomed to, and it only got worse from there. Part of my reason for blogging about my struggles is to help others (while helping myself work through it and to stay accountable).

With all the crazy talk about diet and health, including mega-money spent on marketing and advertising cheap, fake, unhealthful foods, Dietitian Cassie’s blog was a breath of fresh air. I’ve written about her before because I love her sensible, open-minded approach to healthy living. In this post, she gives her thoughts on “cheat days,” which I used to take advantage of until I realized that if I were eating real food in a balanced way, I wouldn’t feel deprived.

Check it out: What About Cheat Days? (5 Considerations)


That’s it for this week, kids. I hope you found something useful or at least interesting. Until next time …


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