Why I’m Detoxing from Social Media in 2020


The items on my Friday to-do list remain unchecked. Christmas Eve dishes are still in the dishwasher waiting to be put away, and it is now the last Sunday of the year.

Laundry overflows the hamper.

Leftovers sit in the fridge ticking off the minutes until they expire.

Dust bunnies no longer hide under the furniture but lounge freely on the hardwood floors.

The guest bathroom looks like a dog took a bath and left a nasty ring in the tub. Oh wait, this one is not a metaphor – my son really did bathe his hunting dog and left the residue.

The Christmas break is almost over. A new decade starts in a mere two days. I have a doctorate to finish, a business to build, 100 pounds to shed, two significant trips to plan, a house to put back in order, a children’s book to publish, and . . .

There is so much on my proverbial plate. Excellent, exciting, motivating, life-changing goals, and adventures. But what have I done today? What did I do yesterday? And the day before?

I got lost on YouTube. Did you know Jon Gosselin had a ten-year gag order that has now been lifted? Do you have any idea if it was Ryan Seacrest or Ryan Reynolds who got his start in show biz as baby Jesus in a church Christmas pageant? I didn’t either. And now that I do, I’m not sure I’m the better for it.

I found 200 ways to make cranberry sauce while scrolling through Pinterest. I bought a pair of boots from an ad on Instagram and sent tons of emails to my spam filter. I’ve reached level 90 in Solitaire and mastered the art of identifying three-letter words in Whirly Word.


I spent hours scrolling through Facebook. I’m happy to know my friends’ twins were born and are doing well. I’m thrilled another friend is expecting her first child, that my cousin got engaged, and that my son has three photos in the US Army’s 100 pictures of the year. I’m sad to know my friend’s dad died two days before Christmas, or that another friend’s sister was killed by a drunk driver. But I’m also angry. Fuming at the idea that just because someone is hurting, their pain somehow makes it acceptable to spew ugliness on a public forum in the name of transparency and healing. I’m enraged by the close-minded, inflammatory political posts, fake news, and continuous downward spiraling of our society. I’ve seen the same memes, quotes, and jokes shared by just about everyone I know. I’ve lost brain cells, grew some more fat cells sitting on my butt looking at this stuff, and I still have the expanding to-do list of things I honestly do want to accomplish.

I wanted to step up on my soapbox and admonish posters to take the logs out of their own eyes before posting toxic statements. I wanted to remind those who profess Christ and post backstabbing comments to remember the biblical principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 to go to those who have offended them in private. I wanted to use my words like a sword in the battle combatting ignorance and selfishness. However, as is often the result of my righteous indignation, I tripped over the log hanging out of my own eye. No one tied me to my couch, strapped a smartphone to my palm, and made me scroll away the days of my life. I wasn’t tagged in the posts that made me angry. The members of my closest 723 digital friends didn’t single me out to pick a fight. They are just living their lives the best they know how. It is my responsibility to live my life the best I know how. I know social media has become an issue for me. While there are many good things about the digital age, there are as many downfalls. So for me, it is time to do something about the time-wasting rut I have fallen in to.

Friends and family who have untethered themselves from social media tell me it is the most freeing thing they have ever done. I tried deleting Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from my phone and scheduling time in my day to check them from my computer. This worked for me as well as setting a clock 10 minutes ahead to stop tardiness. I know the clock is set forward, so I mentally make the mathematical adjustment. I know the apps are no longer on my phone, but the internet still is, so I go to the .com versions. I am a social media addict. It isn’t enough to delete the apps. The accounts must be shut down.

I recently told a friend I intend to close my accounts effective 11:59pm December 31st. She understood my reasoning, but said, “what about promoting your business or marketing your book?” Good questions. The problem is I haven’t yet clearly defined my mission and vision statements, built my service packages, or designed my website. The text of the book is written, but the illustrations are not finished, nor is the layout done. Truth is, I don’t have a business to promote or a book to market. I need focused attention to finally break through my indecision and build a firm foundation before I can advertise or market anything.

When my daughter was much younger, she asked, “How old were you when your mama let you have a cell phone?”

“Thirty,” I replied, “And all it did was make and receive phone calls.”

Twenty-two years later, my phone is a mini supercomputer that cost twice what I paid for my first car. It is a great tool when used properly, but a terrorist holding me hostage when I abdicate self-control. I have thought about doing a technology detox for some time. I keep putting it off, though, because it’s scary to disconnect. It’s terrifying to think that if I step out of the digital world and ground myself firmly in real life, I’ll never hear from my friends again. Worse yet, that no one will even notice my absence. But, as my oldest son, who lives a social media-free life, is so fond of saying, “I have shit to do!”

I have a magnet that says, “If you really wanted to, you would.” I got it when I was trying to decide if I would apply to grad school. I thought I was too old to embark on a doctorate, lamenting that I would be 53 before I finished. A friend wisely said, “You’re going to turn 53 either way. Do you want to be 53 with a doctorate or 53 wishing you had gotten a doctorate.” I’m now 52 and officially a third-year student. One more year of classes and a book to write before graduating in May 2021. I really wanted to, so I am. I truly want to attain other real-life goals, so I’m taking that terrifying step to cut the digital clutter and focus on reaching those goals. I have started unsubscribing from digital newsletters. I can always resubscribe later if they prove valuable in the future. I have unsubscribed to digital scrapbooking newsletters that offer freebies because I’ve fallen into a pattern of collecting digital scrapbooking supplies instead of actually scrapbooking! I have deleted shopping and gaming apps from my phone and requested removal from text groups. Wednesday night, I will disconnect my personal accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

I need a break. I need to refocus. I need to do what is right for me to find peace and balance in a wobbly world. What do you need to do to find harmony for yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Donation Annoucement


I hope everyone had a chance to read last night’s post about shoes and the kids in Ethiopia praying for a pair of their own. If not, please take a few minutes to read it and share.

At the end of the post I said I’d count my shoes and announce how much I’m donating to the cause. So how many pairs do you think I have?

IMG_4886.jpgFrom ratty yard shoes to flip flops, slippers, snow boots, hiking boots, tennis shoes, sandals, shoe boots, ankle boots, cowboy boots, tall boots (can you tell I like boots?), flats, pumps, and all I counted a total of 65 pairs of shoes neatly organized in my closet. Are you surprised? Or does that sound about right?

Whether or not you decide to contribute to the shoes for Ethiopian children fundraiser, I’d love to hear how many pairs of shoes you have in your closet!

Now that we know the number of shoes I have, it’s time to announce how much I’ll donate to the cause. I’m on a limited budget while I’m working on a doctorate degree, so I can’t give what I’d like to. However, I am committing to $10 per pair of shoes for a total of $650. I’m headed to the site right now to complete my contribution. Will you consider joining me? Whether it’s a dollar or a $100, every donation helps. If you haven’t already clicked one of the two hyperlinks, click here to access the GoFundMe page.

Thanks Everyone!

Praying for Shoes


My second earliest memory, the first being the night my sisters were born, is restlessly roaming the aisles of a shoe store bored out of my five-year-old mind while my parents tried to fit the aforementioned sisters with appropriate winter footwear. Finally, Dad told me sit down.

“But what am I supposed to do?” I whined.

“I don’t know. Twiddle your thumbs!” he replied.

He lost his stern dad demeanor when I sat down on the red vinyl bench in the children’s shoe department and while swinging my feet, began twiddling my tiny thumbs. He’d underestimated the value of a Sesame Street education.

Eighteen years later I walked into a bridal shop, pointed to a pair of white satin kitten-heel boots and said, “I’ll take those! Now let’s find a dress to go with them.”

IMG_4709Shoes are closely tied in my mind to endless memories. I remember the pointy-toed cowboy boots a family friend bought me in Nebraska.  Little did he now the culturally unique footwear would nearly get me beaten up in my Norfolk, Virginia elementary school. By high school I was living in the Wyoming/Nebraska Panhandle populated with generations of my family. There, I fit in with popular 1980s footwear such as the light blue jellies I wore with dresses to church and the white, untied high top tennis shoes I wore with jeans to school. I still have the first thing my mother-in-law ever bought me – an oyster colored pair of Justin lace up ropers. Twenty-eight years later I still pull then on for rodeos and state fair. I had the leather loafers my daughter made me get rid of when she was in high school and deeply concerned with my cool factor, but I still have her favorite gold glitter shoes she wore nearly every day of her third year of life.

During a recent Strategic Partners’ Conference of Horizon International, Inc. I poured over the prayer requests from our African partners. I was struck by a request from Tamrat and Mulu, project managers of Life Center in Addis Ababa and Sekota, Ethiopia. They are requesting $5,750 U.S. dollars for shoes for orphans they serve through Life Center. They are praying for the opportunity to purchase school shoes and everyday shoes for these kids. As I wrote out my prayer for the work of Life Center I penned, “God, it seems so strange to pray for shoes.”

I have never needed a pair of shoes. However, I have frequently wanted shoes, and usually gotten them. In fact, the day before I attended the conference, I had taken a photo of a new pair of moss green shoe boots, posted it on Facebook and told my fellow fashionistas how excited I was to break in my new boots at the conference. I have never prayed for a pair of shoes, never been restricted from attending school for lack of proper footwear, never cried at night over cut, bruised feet, lost toenails, or broken toes.


Florence from Uganda has. During the conference she shared the memory of receiving her first pair of shoes when she was 11 years old! The shoes where hand-me-downs from another orphan. Florence’s husband Herbert shared the memory of a young Ugandan boy receiving his first pair of shoes and going to bed that night with the shoes wrapped up in a blanket and tucked under his arm.

The soles of shoes protect the soles of our feet and keep them warm and safeguarded from stones, glass, burs, and other flesh damaging objects. Proper shoes prepare us for the environment and purpose – hiking boots, running shoes, dance shoes, even shower shoes! But shoes also touch our souls. They bring us happy memories and help us feel stylish, well-dressed, and well-cared for. For Florence and others who pray for shoes, finally having their prayers answered assures them God is listening.

I have the opportunity to visit Life Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia October 31, 2018 along withHorizon CEO Bob Pearson, a fellow Horizon board member, and four other committed supporters of Horizon and orphan care. While there we will meet some of the barefoot children praying for shoes to protect their soles and allow them school attendance. With your help, I would like to also touch their souls with the promise of the funds they need to purchase these shoes.

Watch for a vlog post tomorrow showing all of my shoes and announcing the amount I’ll donate per pair. In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute, please click here.


Flashback Friday 10

Flashback Friday 10

We’re ending the first month of 2018 already! It may be the new year, but if you’re like me, you’re becoming weary of the winter weather. The Flashback for this week is from almost exactly 20 years ago. It was published in the January 29, 1998 edition of the weekly Chester County Independent in Henderson, TN. Reading back over it, I was reminded of the beauty of our amazing landscapes and how “the very stones would cry out” to glorify God in our silence (John 19:39b ESV).

As you read this week’s column, take a look around you at all the beauty you have in your life. I know it’s cold, and we’re getting tired of it, but spring will come. Rejoice in the good things of this season of our lives.

How Majestic is Your Name

tops-of-pine-treesWhat I love about pine trees is their majesty. They stand straight and tall, boughs uplifted to the heavens, as if in praise to the Almighty. When I look at a pine tree, I am reminded of one my favorite choruses by Michael W. Smith, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. O Lord, our Lord, we praise Your name. Oh Lord, we magnify Your name; Prince of Peace, Mighty God; O Lord God Almighty.”

The words to this song make me want to stand up tall as the trees and “shout unto the Lord with the voice of triumph.”

I recently experienced my first ice storm, and saw pine trees in a new posture. As I drove to work, admiring the exquisite adornment of the countryside, I thought what a symbol of worship the bowed pine trees were. Instead of arms raised high, the trees were bent under the weight of the ice, as if in humble subjection to an awesome God.

ice on pine

As I think back on the memory of those ice-laden trees, the words of another chorus overflow my heart:

“I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy my King in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”

Flashback Friday 9

Flashback Friday 9

It is so interesting for me to dig back and reread these 20-year-old columns. It’s fun to be reminded of the things my kids were saying and doing, and to recall my own struggles and fears and know how far I have come. The first fear expressed in this column from 1998 is fear of speaking in public. Now, as a public speaker, I don’t even remember having that fear.

But some things stay the same. At the end of this column, I quote Psalm 27:1 and call it my mantra. A few short months ago, I started my first doctoral level class. We were asked to share a scripture that would help us through the obstacles to come in this four-year intensive online program. I shared the same verse that gave me courage when I left home for the first time, when I became a parent, when I went through divorce, decided to leave a secure job for the unknown, and now embark on earning a doctorate.

I hope you enjoy this flashback. And please, share in the comments what helps you move through your fears to find victory on the other side of the battle.

A Child Shall Lead Them

I’ve heard it said that children “inherit” their parents’ fears. If that is true, the real Geoffrey Taylor and Jeanna Elizabeth Alexandra Cooper probably will become subjects of a switched-at-birth-made-for-TV movie.

So far, my children show no signs of fear of speaking in public. At a recent trip to the doctor’s office, 3-year-old Geoff kept the entire waiting room entertained with tales of “The Magic School Bus,” “Kratt’s Creatures,” “Arthur,” “Bananas in Pajamas,” and “Barney.”

They show no concern for what others may think of them. Last week 23-month-old Jeanna walked up to a stranger in the bank and informed her, “I’m Jeanna. I’m pretty!”

Financial worries are alien to them as Geoff begs for Matchbox cars from “the Wal-Mart Car and Gum Store,” and Jeanna continues in her baby adopting endeavors.

Fear of bodily harm completely surpasses them as their fingers and toes web together and gills sprout behind their ears.

As they perform somersaults and mid-air flips, jump from counter tops and slide off of desks.

As Jeanna shouts, “Higher, higher,” and pumps her legs in the “wing.”

As they hug, kiss, and pat every dog, cat, lamb and goat they see.

At the end of eighth grade, I had my first “panic attack.” I stood in front of the “enormous”Torrington High School and begged Christ to return before I was forced to encounter such fearsome obstacles.

I was certain I’d be taken up in the rapture before I had to face the frightful four – high school, college, marriage, and childbirth. In just 11 years, I succeeded in all four, and the only downside has been those extra 30 pounds I still blame on my children.

Before I left home for a large college in Florida, I discovered a verse that has become my mantra. Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

My husband and I tell the kids that they have nothing to be afraid of because God and Jesus always are with them and protecting them. God says “fear not; for I am with thee,” (Isaiah 43:5a).

Maybe Geoff and Jeanna have more to teach me in some areas than I have to teach them.


Flashback Friday 8

Flashback Friday 8

I kicked off the new year by listening to an audio book called, “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick. I thought Mr. Pepper might have some strange quirks about his personality that the author called curious charms. It didn’t take long for me to realize the charms were part of a bracelet Arthur finds when he cleans out his deceased wife’s closet. He takes on the challenge of tracking down the origin of each charm and learning about a part of his wife he had never known. The book is a beautiful story, sprinkled with humor, of grief, healing, and restoration. As I listened to the adventures of this widower while tracking down the origins of a tiger, an elephant, an artist’s palette, and other charms, I was reminded of my own charm bracelet. Actually, I have several, but my first charm bracelet came from my former mother-in-law, who is still a dear friend. Twenty years ago she read this column and it’s closing paragraph. That Christmas, I received a lovely gold charm bracelet with the first two charms attached.


As a Navy Brat, I’ve seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and most of the land between them. I’ve stopped in the middle of a summer softball game to stand, hand over heart, as the “Star Spangled Banner” played and the flag was lowered at the end of a day on a Naval reservation.

I whole heartedly believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. I realize there are a multitude of problems in our nation. I’ve been known to grumble about a lot of them. But there still is no other place I would rather live.

When I was in high school, someone made a rude remark about my sister. I immediately defended her. The person said, “but you’ve said the same thing about her yourself!”

My brilliant response was, “Yeah, but she’s MY sister.”

That’s the way it is with family, and that’s the way it is with the U.S. We can fight and gripe, but an outsider better just keep his mouth shut.

“From sea to shining sea” are monuments symbolizing our nation’s ideology and the men who have led us in those ideas. From the Liberty Bell to the Washington Monument, we are reminded of our greatness.

Our country also has many symbols commemorating our freedom. As Americans, we may be selfish with our parking spaces, but when it comes to freedom, we want the whole world to have what we have. That is why we have monuments like the three soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, the Vietnam Memorial and the Statue of Liberty.

The first two monuments recognize the lives that were lost in defending democracy – for ourselves and our neighbors.

The Statue of Liberty symbolizes our willingness to share our bounty with those who could not find it in their own homelands.

I have never seen the Statue of Liberty. But someday, I hope to stand at her base and read the inscription – “Give me your tired, your poor …” I don’t remember the rest of how it goes, but it reminds me of another symbol of freedom – the cross.

While Jesus was still on this earth He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28, KJV).

Then He died for our freedom.

Each little trinket on a bracelet represents something of importance to the one who wears it. If I had a charm bracelet, the first two symbols I’d hang on it would be miniatures of the Statue of Liberty and of the cross.


Flashback Friday 7

Flashback Friday 7

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Flashback Friday.  I’ve recently met several deadlines and enjoyed a few big events, and now find myself in a bit of blissful reprieve for a few short weeks before we jump into the holiday season. So I thought I’d take some time to schedule some Flashback Friday posts.

Today’s post is the very first column I ever wrote.  I showed it to my editor, Sue Hite, at the Chester County Independent and asked for feedback. I thought it was funny, encouraging, and meaningful, but what would Sue think? I sweated it out until she told me to run it on the Obits/Religion page as the first installment of my own weekly column.

Reading it back today, I still think it’s funny, encouraging, and meaningful. I wrote this the year I turned 30. Twenty years later, I’m balancing on the brink of celebrating the half century mark of my life on this planet.

Guess what…

I’m still making the same mistakes.

I think I’m making them a lot less often, and with a lot more grace and style, though.  But  those wayward Israelites still annoy me.

Not My Virtue

Patience is a virtue. It’s just not one of mine. Of course, life has written a daily lesson plan directed at teaching me, but I don’t have the patience to learn.

Last year I decided to read the Bible cover-to-cover, however, I lost patience with those thick-skulled Israelites. Moses must have been sure he was leading a group of toddlers. He had to be exhausted after a day of repeating,

“I told you not to build a golden calf!”

“No, you can’t have chocolate chip cookies, you’ll just have to be satisfied with manna from heaven!”

or “No, we can’t go back to Egypt. They want to kill you!”

“And so do I,” he must have whispered under his breath. His ears probably were burning from 40 years of hearing, “Moses, are we there yet?”

I became so disgusted with God’s chosen people. They just never got it. They made the same mistakes over and over. God punished them, and they did it again. They were brought out of slavery, famine, and the slaughtering of their children. Instead of praising God for His mercies, they turned their backs to him. Rather than publishing the first edition of 101 Ways to Serve Manna, they threw up their hands and said, “We can’t stand another day of freedom and free food falling from the sky, we’re going back!”

The Israelites had their every need provided, but they had no patience for the inconveniences they faced along the way.

Of course, I had to go and have an epiphany – bright, flashing lights and arrows pointing to my head. If the story of my life is ever written, years from now someone may read it and exclaim, “The moron! She kept making the same mistakes.”

The Lord has allowed me enormous blessings, but I stumble over the small stuff and scream in impatient tantrums. I’m still not a virtuous woman in the area of patience, but now instead of shouting, “I can’t take it anymore,” I pray, “Lord, let me learn from the Israelites.”

Sad, But Not Broken

Sad, But Not Broken

I was there when she first wriggled her little embryonic toes. I felt her first attempts at somersaults as she safely floated in warm amniotic fluid. I was there when she took her first breath, took her first steps, said her first word. I was there for the first lost tooth, the first haircut, the first day of school, the first blush, the first boyfriend, the first job.

But I wasn’t there when she first pledged herself in marriage.

My 21-year old daughter decided to get married on a Friday night. Just her, her boyfriend of two years, and two of their friends. No parents. No grandparents. No siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, life-long friends.

I wasn’t excluded from this momentous occasion because we aren’t in relationship. It wasn’t because we had a fight or because she was bullied into it by her new spouse.

They both have a bit of social awkwardness, and they are both very private about their relationship. They don’t hang all over each other, make others nauseous with their googly eyes, or post private moments on social media. For months, they had been saying they just wanted to do a small, private ceremony. Because they didn’t want to hurt their parents, they were trying to accommodate. Once they made up their minds to get married, they wanted to do it right away. Their original plan was to do a small ceremony in my backyard with just parents and grandparents, to be followed by a reception in a few months, allowing everyone to coordinate their schedules. Finding a time that worked for even this small group was proving frustrating for the couple.

So, I removed myself from the equation.

I gave her my blessing to get married without me there to witness it. Her grandparents are hurt and angry. My mom told her I didn’t deserve to have my heart broken. When my daughter asked me to respond to this I told her she knew there would be repercussions for her decisions, that I didn’t understand the need to get married so quickly and have an after-party, but that because I love her, I had decided to give her the gift of removing myself from her stress. That gift, however, did not come without a very high cost. I told her I was sad, but not broken. I’ve been broken before, and this is nowhere near the same.

Sure, I sat on my couch that night and cried for hours. I recalled her standing on the kitchen counter counting, “one, foo, free!” as her brother stood yelling, “Jump! Jeanna, jump!” and I caught her two-year old body in midair. I remembered her in a tiny pink tutu taking control of the 3-year-old dance class, “I’m Jeanna and I like pink and purple. What’s your name and favorite color?” I thought of her taking four years of Junior ROTC in high school, winning Best Female Athlete and being asked by Marine recruiters to come and teach their female recruits how to do proper pullups and pushups. And I thought about her always standing up to and for her older brothers, as well as spending months in Africa ministering to orphans and graduating college as a certified welder.

She is a strong woman. This is a person who has rarely taken the path society expected of her. So why would I expect her nuptials to mirror everyone else’s? Besides, how many times have I expected God to remove Himself from my plans so I could have what I wanted? How many times has He taken a step back and allowed me to work it out on my own while He lovingly stood ready to listen and lead? And while I was weeping about my momentary sacrifice of love for my only daughter, I remembered that my sacrifice is pale and paltry in comparison to His sacrifice of His only son for our eternity.

So, I dried my eyes and I prayed for her, and for her new husband. I asked God to protect them, to bless them, to teach them, and grow them in strength and honor and commitment. Because even though I was there for so many of her firsts, God was there for her befores, He was there for her marriage vows, and he’ll be there for all of her todays and afters.  He loves her more than I do, and He has sacrificed far more than I. If I’m willing to trust Him with her eternity, I have to trust Him with her todays.

Flashback Friday 6

Flashback Friday  6

Hello my handful of readers! I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything, but that is about to change. I hope you’ll enjoy all new Flashback Friday posts sharing columns I wrote back in the 1990’s for the Chester County Independent and start looking forward to regular posts on Tuesdays. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog and share with your friends.

Now, for this week’s Flashback Friday…

I was out picking chokecherries the other evening, enjoying the cool breeze right before the sun began to set. I stood on tiptoe, reached with my left arm far above my head, grasped a branch and bent it toward my right hand, and remembered the times when I would pick blackberries with my family. This memory reminded me of one of my earliest columns…

Picking Blackberries with God

Many People believe that children are unable to understand the concept of God. After all, few adults really grasp the realities. Jesus told His disciples that it is best to have the faith of a little child. Obviously, we adults don’t give kids enough credit.

The last time my sister called, she asked my 3-year-old son, Geoffrey, what he’d been doing. Around a mouthful of blackberries he said, “us been picking blackberries with God.” A couple of days later we were again picking blackberries and Geoff looked up at me and said, “God’s pickin’ blackberries with us.”

Another popular Geoffism is “God sleeps with us and keeps us safe with monsters.” Every time he says it, he says “with” monsters, not “from” monsters. That’s a pretty important concept. The Bible tells us that God will deliver us from all evil. It never says He will keep the evil away, only that He will protect us through it.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (verses 4 and 5). Even in death, God is with us. In the midst of our enemies (monsters), God sets us up at the head tables and fills our cups to overflowing with love and protection.

My sister and her family will be visiting us next week. We’ve been asking Geoff what he will do with his cousins. He says “Jordan and Geoff throw rocks in the mud and pick blackberries with God.”

Whatever it is we’re doing, picking blackberries, throwing rocks, or sleeping with monsters, God is with us, keeping us safe. God promises, “Lo, I am with you always.”

No one has ever told Geoffrey that. I guess he already knew.

How to Beat Holiday Decorating Stress

How to Beat Holiday Decorating Stress

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It’s October 1st – the official kickoff of the holiday decorating season. First it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving (or simply the fall season), immediately followed by Christmas. I used to think holiday decorating had to be done all at once or not all. It was a huge deal to pull the tubs out of the garage and drag them into the house, wipe the heavy layers of dust and settled road grime off the lids, pull everything out of every tub and find the perfect location for every single item. Then I had to gather up all of the newspapers and plastic grocery bags used for packing, stuff it back in the empty tubs, and haul the tubs back to the garage. A month or two later, I had to find time to bring in the empty tubs, pack everything up, restack the tubs in the garage, and bring in the next round of seasonal paraphernalia to repeat the previous steps.



It got to be too much – just another entry on the never-ending to do list. So I quit. For two years, I didn’t decorate at all. And guess what…

Nobody cared.

My family didn’t love me less. My friends didn’t refuse to hang out with the woman who failed to embrace holiday mania.

I love my home. It is truly my refuge in this wibbly wobbly world that keeps me so off-kilter. I enjoy surrounding myself with warm, comfortable, beautiful things. But the go big or go home mentality was killing me. It was a physical and emotional relief to skip the seasonal decorating hysteria for a while, but I began missing some of the small touches.

Fall is my favorite decorating season. I adore the warm colors of orange, deep red, brown and gold. Pumpkins and gourds make me smile. I have more tubs of fall decorations than all other holidays combined – even Christmas! I have learned, however, that just because I have a lot of stuff, it doesn’t mean I need to use all of it every year. Nor do I have to decorate all at once. Instead of creating a crisis of autumnal decorating chaos, I’m finding joy in creating these small oases of fall fun as the whimsy strikes me.

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with friends after which we swung by Hobby Lobby for some casual browsing and cart loading of tiny artificial pumpkins, sunflowers, leaves and gourds. The trip resulted in three small seasonal touches implemented over the course of a couple of weeks. I didn’t make a mess of plastic tubs, packing materials, and 30 years worth of collected fake fall fruit and foliage.

So if you’re a Type A, overachiever, Martha Stewart wannabe, Better Homes and Gardens coveter like me, it’s okay. I’m giving you permission to take a break. Stop driving yourself crazy trying to be perfect and create the perfect holiday environment. Did you know there are people out there who NEVER decorate?


I know, I have a hard time believing it too. Maybe they’re happy about it. Maybe they’re miserable wishing they had a “green thumb” for decorating. I don’t know. This isn’t about them. But we can learn from them. Trust me, you will not die or be abandoned by everyone you’ve ever loved if you refuse to stress yourself out over the holidays. In fact, your family just might think you’re a lot more fun.

Share your decorating tips, stress busters, and photos. I’d love to hear from you.