Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Spudnut Story

Do you have a special story about how you met your soulmate? Listen and watch my parents' story.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom was born on Thanksgiving, and it's so appropriate. She is a joyous, optimistic, thankful person. She always sees the silver lining and notices the beauty in people.

She's been in the hospital the past week, and while she's in a great deal of pain, she appreciates the calls and visits she's received. Yesterday, I asked her if she'd had any visitors. "The nurses have come by," she replied innocently. I had to smile. Only my mom would think of the healthcare professionals as visitors.

Mom went into the hospital for a routine knee replacement. But she had a complication and a second surgery. I may need two knee replacements after all the praying! But she walked around the bed yesterday and may go home in a few days.
Recently, I met a woman at church here in Atlanta, and we discovered we attended the same church in Kansas when I was a little girl. Mrs. Hooten brought me the directory page that had a photo of my mom and me. Wasn't that sweet of her? It was fun seeing my mom and me 40 years ago. My mom looked great--she's always been photogenic. In fact, it was the black and white photo above that appeared in the local newspaper that caught my dad's eye--love at first sight.
I love this photo taken on Thanksgiving two years ago. I ran the Turkey Trot in Fort Worth and Mom was there, cheering me on. Mom has always been a great encourager, so today on her birthday, I want to cheer her on. Mom, you can do this walking thing! How about running the Turkey Trot with me one year from today?
I love you. I am thankful for you. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chase Me!

Our puppy loves to play chase. She even sort of gets, "Tag! You're it!" When I tell her that and run the opposite direction, she catches me and nose bumps me. It seems I always tire out before she does.

We have a special child in our lives--Ben--the son of our dear friends Brooke and Laura. When Ben was about two, we had the treat of living in the same town. We would go over to their house, and for hours, Ben wanted us to chase him around the den, living room and kitchen in a big circle. "Chase me, Unca Mark, chase me!" he would squeal. It seems Mark and I would always tire out before Ben did.

I'm not sure why some of us like being chased, but maybe it's because we become the center of attention, the focus of the chaser.

The good news is that Jesus is chasing you! You are the center of His attention. He wants to catch you and shower you with blessings and love. In this case, the chaser will never tire out before the chasee. But don't run from Him; run to Him. It will be the best game of your life.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Prayer for the Overwhelmed

Dear God:

I come to you overwhelmed with obligations.

Take my time today and bless it so that it stretches and seems longer than 24 hours. Please give me the energy to do all the things I think I need to do. And give me the courage to let go of those action items that I don't really need to accomplish.

Forgive me for overcommitting once again. Help me to get my priorities straight and put you at the the top of the to-do list. On a day you have given us to rest, help me to see that recharging is more important than doing.

Lord, help me to get as much satisfaction in being with you as I do in checking off something on the list. Help me to live by your Word more than my list.

Thank you for giving me one more day to live for you.

In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Update From the Ark

Thanks to so many of you for calling, emailing and facebooking your concern about our safety and well-being after the flooding in north Georgia. I was touched to hear from friends that I love, but don't hear from so often.

We got as much rain in five days as some of you get in a year!

And some parts of the region were hit much worse than others. For instance, my co-worker, Larry, is still on a boil-water alert. Some districts are unable to reopen schools, and then there are those who actually lost loved ones.

So we feel blessed to only have a little bit of flooding. And that may have been a structural issue with our home that we have already been able to repair. We won't know for sure until another hard rain... and let's pray that it's awhile before that happens again!

Our house smells awful because of the wet carpets and who knows what else... and it reminds me of the way our sins must offend God. I am thankful His grace wipes away the odor and makes us presentable to Him.

Well, I better get back to cleaning... may your day be bright and filled with sunshine!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Difficult People

Phewee, have I had my share of difficult people to deal with the last couple of weeks. As tactful but honest, compromising but principled as I tried to be, I still didn't persuade, and in one case, even got cursed at!

I thought about throwing up a prayer, "Dear Lord, if you would take these difficult personalities out of my life, I could do so much more for your kingdom." But then I remembered Jesus had his share of difficult people to deal with. And he had much more tact and many more persuasive skills than I. But he still got yelled at, beaten up, cursed at and even murdered.

It's my suspicion that we will all have difficult people in our lives until we die. Let's just hope we all become easier to get along with when we reach heaven.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Squirrels, Birds, Planes and Jesus

One of our dogs goes crazy when she sees a squirrel. The puppy doesn't even notice squirrels. Birds catch her attention. People are like that, too. My husband thinks baseball and planes are fascinating. I'd rather be in a sailboat or scuba diving. We all have some interest that makes our heart beat a little faster, our mind work overtime.

And some marry their passions to their ministry. For instance, a running group started here in Georgia is adding chapters all over--it's called Christian Runners. It would be great if we could start a faith club for every hobby. Just imagine, we could reach people who love to do what we do who would never hear the gospel message any other way. My husband could write "Sermons on the Mound" for baseball fans who might be seekers. I could join "Sailors for Jesus." Knitters, swimmers, skateboarders, ice skaters, tennis players... you name it, we could reach out to people and have fun at the same time.

I am going to see if there's already an organization of "Under Water Witnesses." Just as soon as I go get the dog away from the squirrel.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Encouragement from Music

We had a lovely singer-songwriter on our talk show today. Her name is Angela Kaset. She performed several of the songs on her new CD, while playing the keyboard. Such talent. I've been humming her tunes all day. Her album is eclectic... several songs are faith-based, some are romantic and others reflect what is going on in our world. Check out!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Today, two precious listeners to our morning talk show gave me special gifts. Lewis, in the studio from Pennsylvania, brought a handmade quilt from Amish country. It is beautiful. He also brought a neat shell from his dive in North Carolina. And when I got home, there was a package from Duane with fresh ground coffee and homemade jellies and preserves.

While I love to get surprises, I was so humbled that they would take the time to pick out such nice things and take the trouble to get them to me. I felt so undeserving. It's not my birthday, anniversary or Christmas! And I didn't get them anything!

These unexpected gifts remind me of God's grace. We do nothing to deserve his mercy, but he surprises us with blessing after blessing even when there is no special occasion. We cannot earn his mercy, but like Duane and Lewis, God is generous.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Want to Speak Professionally?

So many people will come up to me after presentations and say, "I want to do what you do!" If you have a message to share that will inspire, motivate or inform, professional speaking can be a great part-time or full-time career/calling.

Here I am with a role-model in the speaking profession, Barbara Glanz. She is beautiful on the inside and the outside. We are in the Phoenix airport, about to get on the same flight after the National Speakers Association's annual convention. The event is always a morale-booster. Imagine how you would feel after hearing the world's best speakers, hour after hour for four days straight!

If you want to get better at speaking, or get over your fear of speaking, join Toastmasters International. But if you're a good speaker and are getting paid for your speeches, join NSA. You'll love the encouragement, mentoring and advice that members give each other. It's a giving, loving profession.

Here is Sandy at six months old! I was struck by how much she looks like the yellow labs doing great work for veterans and law enforcement. Check out
It seems like a wonderful organization.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sandy Update

My birthday present has gone from huggable to huge! Remember that sweet little seven-pound puppy? She is nearly seven times that size now and still growing. She has learned how to bark at strangers, and she's mostly house-trained... stay tuned.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Follow Me on Twitter

Yesterday at work, we saw a Twitter presentation about an employee who died too young. His short messages, strung together, painted a picture of a sweet husband, a fanatic father and a praying ice cream lover. If his tweets could inspire people to be better, get creative, love God and be kinder, then I want to do the same. Follow me at and let's encourage each other!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


We all want to be kinder, right? Or maybe more accurately, we all want to be treated more kindly. I was excited to find out about The Kindness Revolution, which is taking the idea to companies and schools. The organization is looking for representatives--can you do the job?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'll Dance at Your Wedding

Most of my childhood summers were spent with my arthritic grandmother. I loved being with her. It was a win-win. She made me feel special, and I carried, ran errands, cleaned up. She didn't make me work too hard, though. Sometimes, she would even preface a request with the phrase, "I'll dance at your wedding." Never mind that I would do the task anyway. Never mind that we worshipped at an old-fashioned church that didn't approve of dancing. And never mind that if there were dancing at my wedding, she'd be doing well to walk to her seat.

Just the idea of my grandmother dancing, got me moving quickly to do whatever she wanted doing. The first time she said it, I remember asking, "Really, Marnie? You'd dance at my wedding?" I liked the idea of her being able to dance, and if putting her shoes in the closet or carrying the dirty clothes to the washing machine would help, I wanted to do my part.

When I finally did get married at age 33, Marnie had been dead eleven years. And there was no dancing at the ceremony or reception. But I like to think that maybe she was dancing in Heaven, with two strong, unbent legs, fulfilling a promise.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Spiritual Weight Room

Our preacher encouraged us Sunday to get in the spiritual weight room if we wanted spiritual growth. He said people had to see us sweat to see Jesus. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure he was being figurative because when people see me sweat on the running trail, I don't think it makes them think of Jesus.

My husband was listening closely. A few minutes after the sermon, we took our friend to check out of her hotel room. While I was helping her finish packing and carry her baggage back up to the lobby, Mark met a homeless couple in the parking lot. When we saw him at the front desk, he was paying for two nights so that Stephen and his wife could rest, shower and regroup.

I thought for just a moment about how we have two mortgages and lots of repairs to do. But my husband was sweating. The smile on Stephen's face showed that he saw Jesus in Mark. So, we may put off a few repairs for another month or two. We are blessed to have jobs and a God who puts the weights right before us. We don't even have to join a gym.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Did God Make You For?

Our minister, Don McLaughlin, inspired us so much Sunday in his sermon, "Seeds of Hope." You can listen to it online, but let me give you the short version of how it encouraged me.

First, Don quoted a story about how seeds are used as tools, weapons, jewelry, but it's only when we plant them that they are truly used for the purpose that God intended. And just as the seed dies to give life, we must die daily to all else but Jesus to reach the purpose that God intended for our lives.

So, ask yourself, "Am I being used for what God made me?"

My answer was, "God made me a talk show host, speaker and writer to win souls for him, to encourage others and to strengthen their faith." Am I used that way every day? Unfortunately, no. But having that as a mission statement will focus me to surrender to his will daily.

Then Don reminded the Christians in the audience, "You signed up for this!"

The part that convicts me is the writing challenge. In addition to two personal blogs, a work blog, two monthly e-newsletters and assorted work writing, I feel called to write books. I have five viable projects in various stages. But something is holding me back from completion. I really think these books will help people, encourage them or strengthen their faith. But I am stuck.

Maybe a little Miracle-Grow (sleep), water (focus and prayer) and rich soil (exhortations like Don's) will cause my book-writing seed to sprout!

What about you? Are you stuck? What do you need? Think about what God made you for and head toward it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Double Vision

My contact was irritating me so much that tears were streaming out of my right eye. Some moments, I could see just fine and then a minute later, it was as if the contact had fallen out--I could not focus at all.

I got home and yanked the contact out of my eye with a sigh of relief.

The next morning, I started to put the contact in and realized there were TWO contacts stuck together. Don't ask me how that happened!

So often, we are irritated, or we can't focus or get a vision of the future. Then, in hindsight (pun intended) we realize that the issue bothering us could have been easily solved.

If life threatens to rob you of your joy, take a deep breath, say a prayer and ask God to show you the simple solution.

And if you wear contacts, always insert only one lens per eye.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

All Things to Enjoy

A friend heard about the gift of Sandy, my new puppy, and shared with me that she always thought Paul was talking about dogs in 1 Timothy 6:17. I ran to my Bible to see what the scripture said, and sure enough, he could be talking about pets, or friends, or books, or a beautiful view.

The scripture reads: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (NASB)."

My husband and I weren't sure about enjoying Sandy's long-term outlook. Since the first few days with us, she had been scratching and turning red all over. We tried odorless detergent. We tried two different kinds of special food. The vet said she had a flea infection. So we spent $300 on medicine. But she wasn't getting better. In fact, she was getting worse. She seemed miserable.

So another trip to the vet... this time, it turns out Sandy has mange!

The good news is, like many of our trials on earth, this one is curable. Until that time, Sandy is wearing pink puppy footies and a doggie T-shirt so she won't scratch herself so badly. She seems to know that we are trying to help her, and that just gives us one more thing to appreciate about her.

Thank you, Father, for richly supplying us with so much to enjoy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This year, my husband gave me the best birthday present--well, second only to the engagement ring he gave me in 1995. Her name is Sandy, and he went to a lot of trouble to surprise me on the air with the new puppy. I cried, I was so shocked and happy.

A year ago, about a week before my birthday, we had to put Daisy to sleep. I'd had Daisy before Mark entered my life, so she was a special friend. Her death was so sad, it was the worst day of our marriage. We'll face worse trials in our future, and compared to what many are going through, it is almost trivial. Life goes on, though, and as I look at this little bundle snoozing on the floor at my feet, I wonder how we waited so long to have another sweet creature be part of our family.

If you need encouragement, consider giving a dog a home. You will learn lessons about God's unconditional love in ways you never will listening to a sermon. Of course, how you react to potty-training may teach you more about yourself than you wanted to learn!

We named her "Sandy" because she was picked up a tiny pup all alone, a stray in the streets. And Sandy is the name of Orphan Annie's dog. Our Sandy was not going to live long if she didn't get adopted soon. It breaks my heart to think this beautiful, smart dog would've been euthanized, as they like to call it.

We look forward to many years of companionship and will always celebrate how this orphan entered our lives and made our tomorrow's brighter.

Better than a Horror-scope

"I pray you will enjoy many unexpected blessings today."

That is how a person signed off an email to me early one morning. Wow! I figured if he was praying that, I would have a great day! And you know what? I did. Every time something pleasant happened the rest of the day, I would ask myself, "Is this the unexpected blessing?"

I don't deserve all those blessings. Just like we don't deserve God's mercy. But thinking that an unexpected blessing may come along made me smile all day long. And knowing that this man I respected took the time to say a prayer for me was the best blessing of all.

In these uncertain times, any excuse for a smile is welcome. We can take pleasure in simple favors. Even scientific researchers say expressing gratitude helps our health and well-being.

So, list what you're thankful for, and enjoy those unexpected blessings, like the prayer of a friend.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On the Economy

I heard this from the pulpit today and thought you might like it as much as I did: "We may be in challenging times, but God is not."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sidewalk Encouragement

It's hilly in Norcross, Geogia... and running, especially when it's cold, is a mental and physical challenge. So imagine my surprise recently when I saw encouraging messages written in chalk on the sidewalk.

The first one said, "Faith Hope Love."

A few yards later, the artist had drawn some flowers and written, "Run on!"

Then, "Say Thank You." I looked around. Who was I supposed to thank? Across the street were some guys blowing leaves. They couldn't hear me, but I smiled and waved. I felt warmer. The hills weren't so bad.

At the next and last message, I laughed out loud. It said, "It ain't raining." No, it wasn't and that always makes for a better run.

One of my favorite movie lines is from Bull Durham. The young pitcher tells a reporter, "You win some. You lose some. And sometimes it rains."

In the race of life, we win some, we lose some... and then we head to a place where it never rains. Look for encouragement where you can get it, and always on the sidewalks.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Are you ever tempted to delete emails when you know it's likely to be a chain message or one of those tear-jerkers that have been circulating for years? I am. But when my dad sends one, I open it up because he forwards them infrequently, and when he does, he adds insight.

For instance, this morning, I'd already deleted the message once (a woman from his church has both me and Dad on her mailing list), but I opened his email with the same subject line, and sure enough, the note from him said, "Your mother prays with the faith that the little girl in this story has."

It's nice to hear things like that from and about your parents. But I get a couple of other lessons from it. One, that God sent us emails, OK, really books of the Bible, and they're the same messages that have been circulating for centuries, but we can still get insight from our Heavenly Father. The second lesson is that, maybe when we pray, God doesn't want to hear the rote, same old-same old, but a little personal message from us.

We had an interesting author on our talk show last year who had written about praying in different forms: with your drawing, your singing, your writing. The upshot was prayer didn't have to be spoken. So maybe I will email God. But it won't be a chain message.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Yuma, Arizona

My hubby and I used all of our vacation days last year, moving from Texas and working on freelance projects. So family visits were due as soon as we could use vacation days this year. We planned to go see his parents in Yuma, Arizona. The Chamber of Commerce couldn't have ordered better weather. The blue-blue skies held no clouds and temps climbed to 75 each day. It was a pleasure to stand out on the street and not be hot or cold.

Mark has been eager most of our marriage to rent a recreational vehicle, even though he knew I wouldn't be thrilled about it. One of the first things I told him when we started talking about getting married is that I didn't like camping, and I wasn't a good cook.

But I decided if it would make him happy, I would at least try staying in an RV for a few days. So we picked up the RV in Phoenix and drove three hours to Yuma. It wasn't so bad, really. The RV made me thankful for our home, the bathroom with lots of hot water, the closets, the dishwasher and the comfy mattress.

The best part about the visit was being with Mark's parents. They are a lot of fun: quick-witted and interested in making jokes and singing harmonies. What strikes me is how much they love each other. Nancy has to take lots of medicines after open heart surgery, and Bobby patiently gets them organized for her and fixes her meals. When I had a chance to encourage him, I said, "You sure are a good husband." He replied, "She deserves it."

Wow--how many couples would let illness drive them to bitterness or complaining? Bobby acts as though it's an honor to care for his wife.

With a role model like that, I'm sure my husband will be sweet to me in years to come. So, I guess it was worth it to try the RV. Maybe I will brush up on my cooking skills next.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I wish you a peaceful but exciting new year.
I hope you grow in faith, but that you don't have to suffer loss or pain to do so.
I pray that you will be able to keep the resolutions that make you healthier and happier.
I look forward to hearing about your dreams, testimonies, stories and adventures in 2009. I'll share some of mine here.

And I realized that this month begins ten years of my ezine, the Good News Newsletter. It's short, sweet and designed to encourage Christians... or make them think. The content is always different than the essays here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe, go to my website and look for the button that says "free newsletter," or send me an email and put "subscribe GNN" in the subject line.

In the meantime, may God bless you extravagantly in 2009!