Monday, December 25, 2017


Celebrate! Christ Was Born Today!

Luke 2:10-20
[An angel said to the shepherds] “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Birthday Celebrations

Tomorrow is my neighbor’s birthday. She’ll be 75, so we threw her a surprise

birthday party today.  Her daughter, Kerry, set it up a couple weeks ago, inviting Mary Carol’s friends from her church and her neighborhood.  We met a local coffee café where Kerry had a table set up with a cake and two balloons blown up like a 7 and a 5. Mary Carol thought she was going to "meet a friend” at the café. She was blown away when she walked in the door and saw all of us, which made it all the more fun.  

A little more than 2,000 years ago, Someone else had a birthday, but it was nothing like today’s celebration for Mary Carol. Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, Israel.

No one on earth knew about it except 
God and Jesus' earthly parents, Mary and Joseph. There was no celebration with a cake, balloons, or gifts.  In fact, Jesus was God’s gift to the world. And he was born in a stable because there wasn’t any room at an inn where Mary and Joseph hoped to at least find a warm night’s sleep after traveling on a donkey for days. Instead, they  found themselves in the middle of a field, surrounded by cows and sheep, hardly a sterile environment like we take for granted these days. Still, God’s plan to bring us back to Him was unfolding.  

Even though we don’t know the exact day Jesus was born, since our calendar isn’t the same as it was then and there, we celebrate it on December 25th  every year. And we set up manger scenes like the one above in my home to replicate what we think the environment would have been like, although I’m sure they’re much cleaner and more orderly today than it was back then. 

Many churches and schools put on Christmas concerts and plays to remind us of the meaning of Christmas. We go Christmas caroling, have parties, and go on shopping sprees to give gifts to those we love. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. 

I’m not sure what part of Christmas I enjoy the most. Caroling and listening to Christmas music definitely rank up toward the top of the list.  So does enjoying hot chocolate in front of a fire.  Some Christmas concerts like the one at Azusa Pacific University get me in the spirit of the year too.  Even though I live on the opposite end of the country now, I still have the music on CD, so I can have it with me in my home or my car. In the midst of it all, I have to remember that Christ's coming to earth for us was the center of it all a little more than 2,000 years ago.

There are more than 7 billion people in the world and we’re all different. What does Christmas mean to you?  How do you celebrate it?  What are some traditions you enjoy? 

photo courtesy of


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Looking Forward to Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a little over a week away. It’s a time when we look back over the past year and celebrate what we’re grateful for. One thing I’m most grateful for is my family.  It’s changed over the years with the grandkids getting married and having kids. Now some of the great grandkids are married too.  

We gather at someone’s home and everyone brings something for a potluck of everyone’s favorite foods.  Turkey (of course), stuffing, cranberry sauce, both canned and homemade (there an on-going debate in my family as to which is the “real” kind),  mashed potatoes, an appetizer, rolls, fruit salad, deviled eggs, and several pies.  

Festivities typically start around noon that day, with people arriving

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

5 Tips to Make Thanksgiving Travel Less Stressful

photo courtesy of pixabay
I always enjoy Thanksgiving.  It’s the one time a year my whole family gets together. It's also the busiest day of the year for traveling. Since that can be stressful, I’ve come up with a few ways to make it a little easier.

Plan ahead. One of the worst stressors in traveling is having to make sure you have everything. One week before you leave, (instead of the night before) write down everything you’ll want with you while you’re gone.  Making a list has a couple of benefits. First, you can actually see it on paper.  That helps you organize your thoughts instead of thinking you’ll just know it all when you leave. It also reduces your stress level because you don’t have to remember everything.  It’s there for you to see when you pack. The third advantage is that you have a list to check things off as you pack, making it more likely you’ll have everything you need.

Medicine. When you make your list, remember your medicine, if you take any. The most obvious thing we think of in packing is, of course, the clothes we’ll wear. But medicine is even more important. Depending on where you go, you may not have access to your doctor. We can’t just run across town to get another prescription when we travel, so we have to make sure we have it all before we go.  Make sure you take everything with you. 

Pack two days before you leave.  Once you’ve listed and laid out everything you need, pack your suitcase(s) two nights ahead of time.  This gives you an extra day to double check that everything’s in there.  If you’ve forgotten something, you have time to stick it in there without rushing at the last minute. 

photo courtesy of pixabay
 Are you flying?  If you are, take a carry-on with you and check the airline’s requirements for what’s allowed and what’s not. Check the weight limit for each suitcase you plan to check.  Weigh each bag at home and adjust whatever’s necessary before you get to the airport. Most flights limit the amount of liquids allowed in a container in a carry-on (a few ounces) and allow only one quart-size, transparent, resealable bag per passenger.  You’ll have to show it to an employee, so keep it out of your bag until you get on the plane.

ALWAYS pack your medicine in your carry-on.  You never know if your luggage will get lost somewhere along the way. Several years ago, I flew from California to Washington D.C. My luggage went to St. Louis instead, so I was left without clean clothes.  The humidity, combined with rain there in the middle of July, made me miserable for 3 days before I was reunited with my luggage. Fortunately, I had my medicine in my carry-on so it was just an inconvenience. 

These are my thoughts.  What other tips would you add to the list?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reaching Out in Friendship

I'm fortunate to have a close family.  And my mom is the best. She means the world to me and is more than just my mom. She’s a close friend and I treasure our relationship. 

She means a lot to her friends as well. She’s been in a bowling league for many years now and has met a lot of people she wouldn’t otherwise know. Click here to read about how she's reached out and helped improve some people's quality of life.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Write Conversation: Thoughts on Handling Challenges as a Writer

I just read a blog post providing #encouragement for writers that applies to life in general regardless of your profession.  The Write Conversation: Thoughts on Handling Challenges as a Writer: "As long as you don't quit, it will get easier—and harder." -Lynn Blackburn by Lynn Blackburn  @LynnHBlackburn My fam...

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dinner Out Every Week

I’d finally gotten out of the hospital after four months.  I’d come home but was very limited in what I could do.  Walking with a walker and quite slowly at that, it was discouraging, even as I improved each week.  Unable to drive, I was cooped up in the house, other than doctors’ appointments and physical and occupational therapy. 
One of my friends recognized my need and asked if she could take me out for dinner one night.  "Sure!" I said.  I'd get out of the house and spend time with a friend.  What an opportunity.

Today's the second Monday of the month, so I'm posting on Small Acts of Kindness.  I'd love it if you'd pop on over and read the rest of the story.

Friday, September 8, 2017


I’m not sure who was more surprised—him or me, but I just had to laugh. I had just finished my breakfast and taken my dishes into the kitchen. I put the dishes in the dishwasher, walked back to the dining room, and stopped short. There was a piece of food on the floor near the chair I’d been sitting in. “Huh? I don’t remember a piece of food there. That’s weird.”

I bent down to pick it up and it hopped. “What in the world?” I said. Food doesn’t hop. My eyes widened and I jerked my head back. I bent down to take a closer look. Gray with a dark gray spot on its back, it was a toad!
Why is there a toad in my house? “When did you get in here? HOW did you get in here?” I shook my head. I bent down to pick him up, take him outside, and set him free.

He hopped under the table, afraid of me. I’d gotten a paper towel from the kitchen to wrap him in to get him outside. I figured it was big enough to cover him from both sides so he wouldn’t escape, but I couldn’t reach him now. I stooped to get under the table. He heard me and jumped further. I peered under the sofa, and spotted him just on the other side. Paper towel in hand, I walked around the couch and bent over. After two more tries, I succeeded. I’d caught him. I covered him from both sides so he couldn’t escape.

He tried to jump out of my grasp, but I had him this time. I went outside and released him on the deck but he didn’t move. I wondered if I’d hurt him when I picked him up or when I carried him, but soon enough he hopped forward and away he went. He must have just been scared.

That’s the 3rd time I’ve had a wild animal in my house here. Read about the other times with a bird here and here. I at least know where the birds came from and how they got in, but I have no idea how that a toad managed to come in.

It reminds me of how I can get into the strangest of places or situations at times. Places where I don’t belong but have adapted to. When someone sees me and tries to help get me back where I need to be I may try to escape. Just like that little toad, I’ve gotten used to where I am and change is scary, especially if I don’t initiate it

Eventually, and it may take quite a bit of time, I may decide to relax a bit and see where it takes me. Usually, it’s to a better place. It can take some time to adjust to it, but with time, (sometimes longer than I’d like) I see the benefits outweigh the costs. 

How about you? When have you been in a place where you needed help but had to trust someone in order to get it?  Share it here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Where is God?

I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking:

My Name Is I AM

He paused. 
I waited. 
He continued:

"When you live in the past
and its mistakes and regrets,
it is hard.

I am not there. My name is not  I WAS.

When you live in the future,
with its fears and problems
it is hard.
I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in the moment
It is not as hard.
I am here.
My name is I AM.

                                                              Helen Mallicoat

photo courtesy of Dmitri Otis Images

Saturday, August 19, 2017

God, the Sun, and the Solar Eclipse

The solar eclipse in the U.S. is less than a week away and Greenville, South Carolina, will be directly in its path. In the middle of the day, the moon will pass in front of the sun, blocking its light for approximately 2 minutes.

photo courtesy of pixabay

There’s been quite a buzz about it over the last few months. It’s all over the news, in the papers, and online.

It’ll begin to get dark in early afternoon as the moon begins to cross between the sun and the earth.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's the second Monday of the month, so I'm posting about  on  Small Acts of Kindness.  Read my story here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Everyone's Gifts Are Important

 If the only tool in your belt is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Abraham Maslow

I heard this quote one day and later realized that it reflects how we go about most things in our lives. We tend to see circumstances through our own lens, which is relatively small, and we react the only way(s) we know. The opposite is true as well. When have multiple “tools” in our “belt” we can better determine an appropriate solution to any given problem.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blessings When You Need Them

I lost my balance the other day and stuck my left arm out, trying to break my fall. I broke my left wrist in the process.

You don’t realize how much you use both your hands until only one works.  I know first-hand (no pun intended).

Even something as basic as getting dressed involves two hands.  Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned how to do that now. Turns out there are multiple uses for a broomstick.

I can’t drive, cook, or water the garden until my wrist heals, which will take several weeks. I love my plants and flowers so I really hate that.

Thankfully, I have several friends and family members helping me.  One of my neighbors brought dinner over the other night.  She also volunteered to drive when we went to the theater last week. Another friend has offered me a ride to church.

My parents have been shopping for me, as well as watering my plants and cleaning around the house.
Pushing a vacuum with only one hand just doesn’t work.  And forget about dragging a hose.
I don’t like having to depend on other people, but I’m glad it’s temporary. Letting people help me also gives them the blessing to someone.  I truly am blessed to have such loving, supportive family and friends. Keeping this perspective helps a lot.

How have you been blessed by someone’s generosity when you needed it?  Or perhaps you’ve had the privilege of helping someone else.  Share it here so we can all benefit from it. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Personal Care at a Local Family Pharmacy

I'd forgotten to pick up my medicine.  Medicine I can't afford to go without.  So when I realized it last month, I called to pick up a refill.  I use a local, family-owned pharmacy about 3 miles from my home. 
They know me there and even know what medicine I take before I tell them what I need.  I walked in last month and Tony, the pharmacist, said, "Hi Ellen.  How're you doin' today?"  I smiled and told him what I needed.  To read the rest of the story click here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul--A New Devotional for your Summer:

Today I’d like to let you know about a newly released devotional, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul, a Sensory-based Devotional Guide for the Beach a Sensory-based Devotional Guide for the Beach by my friend, Cathy Baker. 
I asked Cathy a few questions to let you, my readers, know a bit about the book before you buy it. Here’s what she said.
What made you decide to write a devotional?
Too many years I returned home from the beach with my Bible unpacked. My intentions were good but I felt as if I’d missed out on something while on vacation—and I had. Perhaps this is why when the idea for the devotion came to mind one morning while on the beach, I felt sure someone else could write it better. But the following summer, the same idea came to mind but this time, with more details. When I returned home from vacation that year, God confirmed that I was in fact the person who should write it.
I love that it’s specifically about how to experience God at the beach. Why the beach? 
It seemed the natural place to begin since I feel God gave me the idea while sitting on the beach. I don’t know about you, but seeing the vastness of the ocean and smelling the salty air seems to draw me closer to our Creator.
One of the book’s most unique features is how you take the reader through each of the 5 senses.  How did you come up with that idea? 
I taught adult Bible studies for over twenty years and often shared sensory items to drive home a particular truth. I love how God takes certain desires and displays them in different ways years later for His glory. It was during our second year at the beach that God gave me the idea of experiencing Him through each of our senses. Each day in the devotion, the reader will focus on one particular sense – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. A brief scripture reading and devotion coincide with the sense of the day.
What do you want people to take away from this devotional guide?
Throughout the Bible, we see where God chose to share powerful stories that included sensory details (for instance, the Temple). He wired us to be able to draw closer to Him through our senses, and that is my prayer for the readers of this little book.
Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to tell our readers?
Yes! The beach devotional guide is just the first in a series of guides that will include other vacations like the mountains, lake, staycations, camping, and hopefully, Disney. There will also be devotional guides for the holidays. If you would like to stay updated on all the happenings of the Pauses devotional guides, subscribe to my site at In the June newsletter, I’ll give my community of subscribers a sneak peek of the new book covers and more.

Cathy Baker is a Bible teacher and an award-winning writer who delights in observing God at work in the nuances of life. Her recent release, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Beach is the first in a series of books created to draw readers closer to God through our five different seasons. A variety of vacations, as well as holiday celebrations, will soon follow.
Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Upper Room, and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family. Her poetry has been published in two anthologies. She and her husband, Brian, live in the foothills of the Carolinas where she one day hopes to raise miniature Pygmy goats.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Light Makes a Difference

My hallway and kitchen were pretty dark, but I'd grown used to it.  One day, we decided it was time to improve and update the lighting, which had clearly been around for decades.  The difference has been amazing. To read more, click on this link.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Today I went to a ceremony honoring veterans for Memorial Day, in Simpsonville, SC.  It was wonderful.  As it said in The Greenville News today, Memorial Day is often thought of as just a day off from work or school.  Often called the unofficial start of summer,

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Thoughts on Mothers' Day

Since we celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend, I wanted to share with you all what my mom means to me.

I’m blessed to be able to call my mom my friend, and a close friend at that.  We continually think of and pray for each other.  Several times a week we’ll talk on the phone “just because.”  We don’t need a reason—we just like each other!  So much so that we take two days a week to get together. 
She comes over for an hour or two on Mondays so we can visit and talk about what’s going on.  Or about nothing.  Friends are comfortable with each other that way. About three days later, I head to their house and we play games and share dinner together.  I look forward to it each week. I’m not a poet but I do like to express myself in writing so I wrote a small poem for my mom about 25 years ago and I thought I’d share it with you today.

My feelings for you, Mom, are hard to express
Just thinking about it, I really am blessed.
You've taught me so much as I've grown through the years
To dare to strive higher, and persevere.
Nothing is ever too big or too small
You've taught me "I can" if I give it my all.
Success isn't all that you've taught me to find
But happiness too and a true peace of mind.
Each time that I've needed you, you have been there
To listen, to comfort, to show that you care.
Thank you for sticking with me to the end
Thank you for being a very good friend.

For all of you mothers out there, know that your kids (whether children or grown) love and appreciate you.  You sacrifice more than we can imagine and it’s hard for some of us to know how to express how we feel.  But we appreciate you. 






Monday, May 8, 2017

More than Just Walking The Dog

Last week I was out walking my dog, Tommy,
when I came upon a neighbor named Jo.

It turned our walk into more than I'd bargained
for.  Read the story  on Small Acts of Kindness  here.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nature Can Change People's Attitudes
I'd lived in New York City for a year and a half and had grown used to the fast-paced life, even though it didn't suit me well. It was temporary since I was there for graduate school. I'd grown up in a small town of a few thousand people and was suddenly in the a city with millions.  
The people I encountered didn't even make eye contact with each other, focused instead on themselves and their agenda for the day. One day that all changed, the difference so striking it made the New York Times the next day.  Read more about my experience here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomorrow's Valentine's Day and I'll post on that a bit later this week. But since today's the second Monday of the month, I'm posting on Jennifer Hallmark's blog, Small Acts of Kindness.

We never know how our acts of generosity, big or small, can touch people's hearts, even over a decade later like it has for me.  Read my story here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Today's the second Monday of the month so I'm posting on Jennifer Hallmark's blog, Small Acts of Kindness.  Read today's post here

Monday, January 9, 2017

New Years Resolutions

Now's the time of year when many, if not most people make new goals for the coming year. Wanting to "start over" as it were, to make a better life than last year's.  Today, I'm posting about it on Jennifer Hallmark's blog, Small Acts of Kindness.  Read more here.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Story of the Teacup

A few years ago, a friend invited me to a High Tea at Community Chapel in Mauldin, SC. I didn't know what to expect since I'd never heard of one,