How Do I Show Up?

Successful career. Successful relationship.

Finances. Respect.

The list could go on, couldn’t it? The one of things that get in the way of true living. (Notice I didn’t say the list of things wrong to desire.)

But don’t they get in the way?

Of the good moments.

We miss too many of life’s beautiful moments because our focus is in on worrying about something on the list.

They get in the way.

Of productivity.

It slows when fear of financial problems, a need to succeed, or managing relationship replaces creative energy.

Of delight.

There’s nothing like fear and striving and worry to zap life’s joy.

Of healthy relationship.

Relationships are harder when we worry about success or think they can be managed.

Of success itself.

How far could we go if life wasn’t driven by the need to succeed? Is it success if we’re constantly grasping and fearing its loss?

What if we lived from passion instead?

Passion to bless.

God and others. In daily interaction. In work, even work that doesn’t feel like calling offers opportunity to bless. In relationships, even when they aren’t fun.

Passion to receive love and share it.

Humans know how to love because they were first loved by their Creator. (We love because He first loved us.) So we take a stand and shout to the world (and mostly that negative, nagging voice in our head), “I am loved!” Then we pause and reflect the love back to its origin. “I love you, too, God!” Then we step into our families, our friendships, our work place, our Facebook groups, our schools, our blogs . . .  our life. We step into life and love others with the love we are given.

Passion to move forward as our true selves.

To let the real us, the strong, true, gifted person who wants to bless and love, show up in the world. (Which means we constantly tell the fearful, striving, success-craving, down-on-herself/himself, selfish voices to shut up.) We acknowledge our strengths. Enjoy them, even. Believe that we were designed with a uniqueness this world needs.

What if we stopped chasing success and instead stepped boldly into life from our passion?

Wouldn’t this be the ultimate act of glorifying the One who made us?

Until Next time,

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PS These thoughts rolled out this morning as I deal with real life. I write as a sojourner, longing desperately to put aside my self-absorption, worries, and fears to live out my destiny.  To be all-in with God and to be put out with fear. To let my neediness fall aside as I focus on my passion. As I seek to trust God with my life instead of grasping for things that cannot fill me up. To be about passionate work with eternal significance, not chasing a paycheck or significance or career advancement. To believe God will supply all my needs and that I am free to go about my Father’s business without letting lesser things slow my productivity and advancement.


Hung Up on Weight?

My body.

It takes up too much of my thought life.

Especially the negative zings, which don’t belong in my head at all.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that in 2012 I started paying attention to my body and lost 55 pounds.

Unfortunately I’ve found some of those pounds again. To be honest, I don’t know how many because I’m afraid to get on the scale.

I learned a lot about where I turn for comfort in 2012 and 2013. I mean you can pray and read Scripture and love your family and talk to your friends and all of that but still try to eat your negative emotions.

I got a lot better. I learned to pause to think about what was really going on when I craved food. And usually I could let go of the craving.

So here we are about 5 years later.

I haven’t totally gone backwards, but I’ve shrugged off more fresh veggies and healthy exercise choices than I am willing to admit.

And lately I’ve given space again to the negative “I’m fat” thoughts.

This has been going on awhile, and has really cranked up in the stress of the aftermath of my husband’s heart attack.

So why I am writing about it now?

Today I browsed blogs written my folks who’ve recently followed mine. I’ve had some new follows by people talking about health and weight and body image, including a young girl from another country. She’s only 15 but, like me, she’s focused on her body.

I’m 52.

I don’t know if it will comfort or discourage her that I still think about this stuff.

I was reminded this weekend of a blog post I wrote a few years ago. I posted a picture of how I really looked and a picture of how I thought I looked, which was much heavier. This memory made me wonder how much of my weight gain since that day is related to never truly being able to see myself as I truly was.

It’s hard enough in your 50s with these struggles, but what about this young girl–and all the others like her? What would it mean to all of us if we saw ourselves as we really are?

Not just our real weight.

I mean the real weight of our existence.

What if we saw ourselves as amazing, strong, worthy, and beautiful?

What if we understood our value?

Ladies, we are God’s treasure. The Creator of the whole universe had us specifically in mind even before the world began. GOD dreamed us up. He not only loves us, He likes us. He thinks we’re beautiful and unique and of great value.

He also knows all the wonderful things we are capable of–the ways we can impact our world for good–if we can break out of negative self-focus and live fully aware of our value and how He’s wired us to live in this world.

I was recently talking to Him about all the stuff bugging me. When I got to my weight, I swear I heard Him laugh. Not at me. Not in a mean way. Just a laugh that seemed to include a shrug, as though I made way more consequence of it than He did. As if all the things I found unattractive were not even an issue for Him. As if His focus was somewhere entirely different than those pesky extra pounds.

As if He thought I had better things to think about and do than to worry about how I looked in the mirror.

I’m not saying He doesn’t care about my weight or health. He proved His personal attention to this area of my life time and again as I lost weight and learned to make healthier choices five years ago.

What I’m saying, is that He isn’t hung up on my weight.

It doesn’t limit or diminish His approval.

He isn’t wringing His hands or spending precious thought time on the number on a scale.

He’s thinking about His women in a whole different way.

Sure, He thinks we’re beautiful. He designed us to be beautiful! It’s just that He knows beauty isn’t a number on a scale or a perfect figure or perfect outfit. Beautiful is being fully present in this world. 

Taking up our own space.

Living out our destiny of bringing goodness in our own unique way to our little corner of the world.

So to my new 15 year old follower and to myself, this is what I have to say.

Be healthy. Eat well. Live active and strong. It’s good for you!

But it is not your totally and need not be your world.

(Your world is so much bigger than a number on a scale!)

It is not your identity.

It doesn’t deserve undo focus in your thought life.

You have so much more to think about. So much more to do.

Like notice a sunset or a shaft of bright light.

Like laugh with a friend or encourage someone who needs a bit of help.

Like enjoy amazing music or art or poetry.

Or create it.

Like love.

Love others.

Love God.

Start by loving yourself.

To do that you receive love.

You believe you are of great worth to your Creator.

You tell your Creator you want to believe you are valuable.

You ask Him to help you change your thinking so that you don’t focus negative thoughts about yourself

You start seeing the gifts, the strengths, the beauty, the courage you possess.

As as you receive God’s love, then you share it.

You help a friend see his or her worth. See that there is more to them than what people think or say (and that’s what I’d tell another new follower, this one from India).

There is more to you than even than you know.

And it is good.

Until Next Time,

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PS It’s not too late to download that free Easter devotional on my website, Soul Scents: Selections for Easter.



The Story Behind the Story . . .  A Train Ride to Heartbreak

Don’t you love learning the story behind a story? Today I’ve invited author Donna Schlachter to share about what is behind her novella, A Train Ride to Heartbreak, featured in The Mail Order Brides Collection.

Donna, we’d love to hear where you got the idea for your story!

The idea for this story came from a love of a movie and a friend with a great story to share.

The movie was “The Fugitive”, both the original series pilot and the more recent remake. I loved the idea of a train ride leading to a second chance.

My friend had recently taken a train ride from Denver to San Francisco, and she shared several delightful stories. I wondered if a train ride might be like a cruise in that it would provide an insulated environment where the travelers might do something they’d never done before. If so, this was perfect fodder for a romance, much like the old TV show, “The Love Boat”.

And then I saw “Murder on the Orient Express”, and as a lover of anything Agatha Christie, decided to incorporate a few of the details in my story.

The result? A chance meeting, two characters with integrity, and a way for God to reach both of them.

Could you share a few tidbits about your characters and the basic premise of your story?

Mail Order Brides cover1895, Train to California

John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.

October 1895

Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.

John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.

Though separated by thousands of miles, Mary and John commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?

Would you please share an excerpt with us? 

Groverton, Pennsylvania

September 1895

Chapter 1

Mary Johannson plunged reddened hands into the dishwater and scrubbed at a crusty spot on the chipped china plate.

In the yard, the vicar, shoulders slumped from the cares of his congregation, held a small child in his arms while two toddlers clutched his pants leg. And Matron Dominus, the imposing head of the Meadowvale Orphan’s Home, towered over the small group huddled before her.

Mary checked the plate. Satisfied it would pass muster, she dipped it into the rinse bucket and set the piece into the dish rack to air dry. Next she set a burnt oatmeal pot into the water to soak while she dried her hands on her apron and surveyed the scene outside.

The vicar nodded and turned to walk the gravel path he’d traversed just minutes before, the wee ones in tow as he hoisted the child to his other hip for the mile-long trip back. No doubt he was waiting for space to open in the orphanage.

Her space.

Mary would turn eighteen in two months. And despite her desire to escape the confines of the orphanage, she wasn’t excited about making her own way in the world. The last girl who aged out—as the other orphans called the act of turning eighteen—now worked at the saloon.

And everybody knew what kind of girls worked there.

Mary swiped at the scarred worktable set in the middle of the kitchen floor, her washrag sweeping crumbs into her hand. She still needed to finish the dishes and report to Matron

Dominus for her next order for the day.

By the time she returned to the sink, the vicar and his charges were out of sight.

But Matron Dominus stood outside the tiny window staring in at her.

Checking up on her, no doubt. Making certain she wasn’t lollygagging. An activity all of the residents indulged in. According to Matron.

Mary hurried through the rest of the washing up. She swept the floor, put a pot of beans on to soak for supper, and shooed the cat out from under the stove. After checking the dampers to make certain the range wouldn’t needlessly heat the kitchen—another of Matron’s accusations—she hung her apron on a nail beside the back door.

Stepping out into the fresh air, Mary drew a deep breath and leaned against the clapboard siding.

Perhaps she could work at the seamstress shop. She was a fair hand with a needle and thread. Or maybe the general store.

“Mary Johannson.”

The screech like a rooster with its tail caught in a gate startled her, and she straightened. But in her haste, she overbalanced and stepped forward to catch herself, hooking her toe in the hem of her dress, which she’d just let down last week to a more respectable length.

The sound of rending cloth filled her ears as the ground slammed toward her. She got her hands out in front of her just in time to prevent mashing her nose into the soil. The toes of Matron Dominus’s boots filled her vision.

Mary pushed herself to her feet, wincing at an ache in her lower back not there a moment before. Tears blurred her vision when she checked her dress—she had a three-inch rip just above the hem.

“Are you lollygagging about? Sunbathing? Do you think you’re on the Riviera?”

Despite her imposing height and girth, the matron’s voice—particularly when she was irked—resembled the irksome peacock Mary had once seen in the zoo in Philadelphia. Why God would create such a beautiful bird with such a nasty voice was beyond her.

But if what Matron said was true, He’d created Mary, too, only to have her burned by the flames that killed the rest of her family. Angry red scars ran from her forearms to halfway up her neck, and a collar of white tissue, the result of an inept doctor sewing her back together again, ringed her neck and inched toward her ears.

No, if God really loved her, He wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.

Thank you, Donna!

About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She Schlachter DSCF1330_Donnawrites historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

You can connect with Donna at the following links: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!



Other Books: Amazon: and Smashwords:



Pondering Billy Graham

I’m rarely captivated by the news, but I’ve watched video after video and read press release after press release about Billy Graham. Here’s the thing. They make me weep because I long to speak with such boldness, kindness, and wisdom about the wonder of being loved and invited into a relationship with the King of All. I long to not only have Billy Graham’s courage, but to also have his ability to serve for God’s glory without worry about what people think. He staunchly refused to look to the approval (or disapproval) of humanity and stood firm in his conviction that all glory he received would be returned to his Father.

I watched a video that paid tribute to Billy Graham and kept using the word “he” (referring to Billy) every time it talked about the success of his ministry. “He” built. “He” drew. “He made.” As I watched, I knew that Billy would be upset by the video. He would tell the writer that everything that happened was because God moved, not because Billy built it.

Billy once said, “So many people think that somehow I carry a revival around in a suitcase, and they just announce me and something happens—but that’s not true. This is the work of God, and the Bible warns that God will not share His glory with another. All the publicity that we receive sometimes frightens me because I feel that therein lies a great danger. If God should take His hand off me, I would have no more spiritual power. The whole secret of the success of our meetings is spiritual—it’s God answering prayer. I cannot take credit for any of it.”

Another thing that I admire about Billy Graham was that he was able to reject the doctrinal lines that were so prevalent in the 1950s. He chose to ignore religion and its barriers and to simply preach about the Jesus who gave everything to change lives. I read in one of the articles that conservatives criticized him for not being conservative enough and liberals criticized him for not being liberal enough, and my heart sang. He didn’t engage in the division. He stood for Jesus. There are pictures of him in liturgical attire even though as a young man, he was known for his loud suits and southern baptist style.

I have a personal story about this ability he had to encourage. My father-in-law, Ray, served many years in a small denomination with a lot of doctrinal distinctives. He told me that he and Billy Graham had conversation about these beliefs. He saw Billy again years later and Billy remembered Ray and the conversation. Billy asked Ray if he still believed all that. Ray said yes. Billy shook his hand and told him to keep preaching it. Ray’s eyes shone as he told me the story. It had obviously deeply encouraged this man, who served God with all his strength for over 50 years in that little denomination for little pay or accolade.

I’ve often wondered about this story. Here is what I believe. Billy wanted to see the gospel of Jesus preached, and he saw in Ray, not the ways they were different, but the way they stood together, in the passion for sharing Jesus with the world.

I wish people who loved Jesus could be more like that. I wish I could. I wish as believers we could let go our fears and boxes and focus on what really matters. The truth that Jesus gave His all to save us–to take us from the darkness and confusion of the world and our own soul and free us to live in the hope and light of an eternity that we are already a part of.

As I scroll Facebook and the Internet today, I love learning little tidbits about how Billy lived. From those of you whose lives intersected with his. From the media. Every story shows a focus on the person, a value for the human heart. From my friend Joy, who once served him when he bought a blood pressure machine where she worked, to stories of presidents who said things like, “He helped me choose to stop drinking” and “when he prayed you felt like he was praying for you, not the president.” (Not direct quotes, just writing from memory here.)

I want to be like that too. To value each human soul. To see the cashier at the grocery store instead of just plodding through. To also see the person behind the fame or position as a person not a position.

And a person is all Billy was.

I stared at his picture this morning, stunned that he had preached Jesus to over 200 million people, not including the countless others, like my friend Robbie who watched him on TV and then had a personal encounter with her God at eight years old. I stared at his picture, and I heard, “He was just a man.” And that doesn’t put Billy down. It does what Billy did. It exalts that God who took a humble man and moved through him for the sake of the world HE loves.

One news writer said something like, “We don’t expect another to ever have this kind of impact on the world again.”

I think Billy would balk at that statement. I do. Because it wasn’t about Billy, though his courage and devotion were required for all God accomplished through him. It was about God moving at just the right time in history through just the right man for the job. Billy is no longer in this world. But God is here. With us. He looks at each of us, just people. Like Billy. And he has a plan for our lives, as He told my friend Robbie after she saw Billy on TV. Our God is still alive. He has has not stopped caring about the malignancy of the human soul, the evil that steals our joy and confuses our life. He is working now, every minute, to draw His beloved children into His heart. He never stops doing that. He never stops moving with intention and passion to love and call us to Himself. He longs for us. He longs to enjoy relationship with us. He longs to reveal Himself and His love to every single person He created. And He created us all.

I don’t know if there will be another man who gets to preach Jesus to that many people. But I do know that God will keep moving to reach his people. He will keep calling people to pray for this nation and for the world and for their children and next door neighbors. He will continue to pour His miracles through humble and surrendered hearts–and He will continue to humble proud hearts and give them the ability to surrender to His love.

God’s plan for Billy Graham was breath-taking. Glorious. And Billy always looked right back to God to steady Him. He knew every good gift came from the Father.

God’s plan for you and me is glorious too. Maybe that’s why we’re so captivated by the news of this man who every year for 60 years was named as one of the most influential men in the world. Maybe we’re caught because Billy is simply a man. A man who dared to let God do whatever God wanted through him. Maybe we’re amazed because our heart longs to be that too. Men and women who make a God-sized difference in our human-sized experience. Most of us won’t preach to millions of people. But all of us impact our world. All of us were chosen before the foundation of the world to do the good works God planned in advance for us to do (Hebrews). All of us, like Queen Esther, are chosen for “such a time as this” for whatever God has planned for our ordinary, extraordinary lives.

I believe when we’re with our Savior face-to-face, we’ll discover that Billy learned from Him that every single soul is valuable. That there is no greater love for Billy Graham than for you and me. That our God loves no matter our status. That He will look us right in the eye, and we will know our worth to Him.

I watched a bunch of videos and read a lot of press releases, but I love this page in particular. It’s simply quotes from Billy.

Remembering the life and legacy of Billy Graham (1918-2018).

Jesus’s Joy and Father’s Good Pleasure–YOU

Why would Jesus choose to give up the perfection of heaven to experience ridicule and horrific death?
Scripture says that Jesus endured the cross for the “joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). What is that joy? The passage continues by saying that Jesus was given the place of honor when He returned to heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father.
My thinking used to stop there.
But Scripture also calls you and me Jesus’ “rich and glorious inheritance” (Ephesians 1:18, NLT) and says that we’ve been seated in the heavenlies with Jesus. There are also a lot of passages which talk about how Jesus longs for the final ceremony when His bride (us!) is presented to Him. It’s hard to believe it is true, but Jesus died, in part, because He wanted us as His inheritance. His beloved bride.
Then there’s Father God. What would cause a loving Father to ask such a thing of His son? Luke 12:32 tells us that it was the Father’s “good pleasure” to give the kingdom to us. Ephesians talks of the wonder of God adopting us as His very own children, allowing Jesus to pay the redemption price, to purchase us from darkness.
My friend, we are of great worth to our Creator.
Maybe you blaze past those thoughts, accepting them quickly, in the context of the unfathomable actions of the cross. You believe you are loved, treasured even, by God. Why else would God allow the cross of Christ?
But will you believe it tomorrow?
Will you believe it when life doesn’t go as you planned? When someone wounds you? When you stare at your imperfections in the mirror (on the wall or in your soul)?
When the vile voice of the enemy whispers of your inadequacy and failure?
Can you know then, way down deep, that the King of All values you? That the cross took all of the shame and inadequacy, all of the outsider-living, and placed you in the center of God’s heart? That even before the cross God chose you as the recipient of His love because you are of great worth to Him? That you are part of the royal family of heaven?
If you’re like me, you’ll have good days and bad days when it comes to living like royalty. But whether or not we stand tall in the noble robes our Father gave us, it doesn’t change the fact that we were bought with a price because of our worth to God. It doesn’t change that fact that His actions rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and placed us close to Him in the kingdom of light. It doesn’t change that fact that we are His beloved.
We belong with our family in the throne room.
This is yesterday’s introduction to the first week of devotions from Soul Scents: Selections for Easter. Maybe it seems strange to start an Easter devotional book talking about our worth to our Creator, but I believe this is one of the places most attacked by the enemy and also one of the main points of the cross. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as I share what God has shown me about our value to Him (week one) and as we look at other implications of the Cross of Christ. Selections for Easter is free on my website. Just click on gifts.

FREE Easter Devo/Catch Radio Show

27661605_10155965319319351_348329889_nDoes the cross of Jesus make a difference in daily life? How do you experience that? What does the work of the cross do beyond paying for sin and providing a ticket to heaven?

Soul Scents: Selections for Easter, which offers five weeks of devotional reading and contemplation questions for the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, is available as a FREE PDF download at: (If you prefer to read on Kindle, it is 99 cents at:

Journey deeper into the Son’s embrace this Easter! Soul Scents: Selections for Easter dives into the glorious wonder of what it really means when Jesus died, rescuing us from the shadows of living in the kingdom of darkness and moving us to a new address in the kingdom of light. It tackles such issues as spiritual freedom, identity as the beloved, living as a new creation, and the difference between cycles of saying we’re sorry and true life-giving repentance. (Adapted from the Soul Scents collection)

Also wanted to invite you to tune into Step into the Light, where I’m interviewed by Patti Shene tomorrow at 8 a.m MST. We’ll talk about some of the same concepts in Selections for Easter. I’m really excited about this and hope you’ll join us!

Until next time,

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The Winner!! And February Contest

Congratulations to Becky who won January’s contest for A Bouquet of Brides!


Becky! I’ll be in touch, and your book will arrive soon! Thank you for commenting often on January’s blog posts. I enjoyed our interactions very much!

Here are the contest details for February:

  • Every new post you comment on during the month of February gets you one chance to win. (This could be a lot of chances over the course of the month!)
  • Follow my blog during the month of February and get three chances to win
  • Sign up for my newsletter during the month of February and get five chances to win!

The contest details are a little different this month, so read them carefully! If you missed the first two blog posts this month, you’ll still be counted in the drawing if you comment on them. They are two of my favorites, talking about the inspiration for and the historical context of At Home With Daffodils, my novella in that book Becky will soon be reading!

The book to win this month is  Soul Scents: Rooted.

PMApprov2-01Become rooted in your identity as the beloved! Soul Scents: Rooted, the second book in the Soul Scents devotional series, includes topics such as worthiness, spiritual battle, and destiny. The week-day readings include scriptures and prayers.

The Soul Scents collection invites readers into an ever-deepening discovery of who God is and how He interacts with us. Combined, its four volumes, Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish, offer a year’s worth of devotional reading. Each book has thirteen weeks of down-to-earth insight gleaned from scripture and the author’s journey into spiritual freedom.  Rest in the Son’s embrace as you enter the beautiful heart of the Freedom Giver Himself.

Thank you to all who participated in January’s contest. I had so much fun! Hope you did, too. I enjoyed seeing every new newsletter and blog sign-up, and interacting with those of you who commented here was a delight!

Until Next Time,

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