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Blog, Business, Marriage, prayer, Stress

What has you blocked?

Leaves and coffee

On Friday, after having my morning hot, creamy coffee and prayer, I set about to do my work in my office on my laptop. I had a Voxer coaching call also with my biz coach, Diane Cunningham Ellis, which went well. Voxer is like a walkie-talkie app on your phone. It is very cool, fast, and fun!

My biz coach, Diane Cunningham Ellis

My biz coach, Diane Cunningham Ellis

Diane gave me some suggestions on improving my website and advice on how to prosper more in my business. (She often says, “If you’re not making money in your business, it’s not a business. It’s an expensive hobby!” Amen!)

About mid-morning, my husband Ray texted me that a plumber was coming. Ray had gone downstairs on Friday morning and heard the bathtub and the toilet water “bubbling.” (Gurgling)

Uh-oh. Ray said this is usually an indicator of a “blockage.” He did NOT want sewage coming back up through the drain in our basement, our toilets, and tubs, so he called a plumber immediately. 

Ray's ceramic turtle

Ray’s ceramic turtle

You have to understand something: my husband is NOT a man of fast action; he (and God) always seem to move at a turtle’s pace, in my opinion. Years ago, I gave Ray a ceramic turtle as a joke gift, telling him that I feel he and God move slow as a turtle (see pic above). I’m like a race horse, raring to get out of the starting gate and RUN. So when Ray told me that he had called a plumber (so fast!), I knew it must be serious. (Oh, crap, pardon the pun!)

My husband Ray

My husband Ray

When I told Diane on the Voxer Coaching call that Ray had called the plumber and now that was stressing me out (as if I didn’t have enough stress), she said that is just life. Plumbers, air conditioning repairmen, tech issues, unfortunately, it’s all  part of life. You just deal with it and keep moving! In her way, that’s very fast. Then she went on to tell me some more blunt (but needed!) advice about my website and business!

cappuccino and laptop

cappuccino and laptop

As I tried to work later that day after my coaching call, the two plumbers arrived. I showed one of them all of our toilets and told him about Ray’s concern over the “bubbling” that morning. He nodded knowingly, as if to say, “I’ve got this.”

Initially, I instructed the plumbers not to let my cat Natalya out when they went in and out the door, as she’s an inside-only cat. They assured me they’d look after her. I went to my office to focus on numerous to-do’s. Natalya is normally a very sweet cat. I think I did hear Natalya growling once at the plumbers, but for the most part, she sat on the carpet, staring with wide eyes at the strangers as they walked throughout our house.

Natalya in the sunroom

My cat Natalya in the sunroom

Then as I looked out my office window about an hour later, one plumber was RUNNING to their truck. A small army of plumbers suddenly arrived, talking together about the problem. I could hear one of the plumbers in the bathroom down the hall, frustrated and cussing once or twice as he worked under the sink. This was NOT a good sign – and how much was this going to cost us?

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Blog, Faith, prayer, Stress, worship/praise/music

A bad day and the moon, an ice cream cone, and praise music

Yesterday I had a bad day.  It was just one of  “those” days. When I sat down at my office desk to work on my new mini-training, Conquer the 3 P’s, I began having “techie” trouble with my laptop.

So being the mature, Christian woman that I am (haha!), I had a meltdown. I confess that at one point, I literally SCREAMED because I was so frustrated! Ray and I were broke. (We’re between paydays right now!). And there’s other “life stuff” going on that is stressing me out right now. 

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Blog, Faith, Holidays, Marriage, Parenting, Stress

Blessed: 5 Tips for Holiday Stress

family at Christmas

family at Christmas
Photo source: Shutterfly

The holidays are one of the most anticipated times of the year for families. But they can also be one of the most stressful for some people, with top stressors being lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and dealing with family. 

child opening gift

child opening gift
Photo source:

One of my strongest spiritual gifts is giving, and one of my struggles at Christmas is spending too much money on gifts for our kids and our grandkids. I’m not alone in this. Shoppers in the U.S. spend over $1 trillion; in 2018, Americans spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas season! While it may give me (and others) great joy to buy lots of presents for our children and our grandchildren, other family members, and our friends to show them our love, it also causes us STRESS.

Dealing with family drama and strife, being busier and under more pressure at work, planning and cooking a big family meal, traffic jams, and crowded stores also contribute to our tension.


manger scene
Photo source: Istock

Here are 5 tips to manage and relieve stress during the Christmas holidays:

  1. Bring it back to a Christ-centered Christmas. For Christian believers, Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet how often we forget this in the hectic, busy season that retailers use to inundate us with commercialism. Buy this, buy that! More, more, more! Even when we set a budget, or maybe wisely start saving throughout the year to buy our family and friends gifts, we often blow it. A good way to focus on Jesus (other than staying out of stores!) is by reading the Christmas story in the four gospels. Each narrative is told differently. There are also many good children’s books to read at this time of year, which can become a family tradition. Decorating the Christmas tree and your home with an emphasis on Christ, lighting pretty, scented candles, baking cookies for your kids and grandkids (they can help, too!), listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, praying as a couple or a family, volunteer work, giving to those in need, and attending special church services or plays can all help with keeping the holiday Christ-focused.
sugar cookies. Source: Love Grows Wild

sugar cookies
Photo source: Love Grows Wild

2. Take care of yourself. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the holidays that make me just forget all human reason and completely pig out! It’s like I go crazy temporarily, eating tons of those scrumptious, purple-, red-, and green-colored sugar cookies, chocolates, and of course, the big family meal. I also tend to put exercise on the back burner, forget to drink enough water, and stress myself out trying to buy just the right present for each of our 3 kids and our 6 grandkids, and then wrapping them all in the same night! The holidays are a great time of year to pause. Selah. Intentionally choose to slow down, pray, and reflect. Each year at the end of the year, I set aside time to pray, journal, and prepare for the coming year. Make sure that despite the busyness of the season, you’re staying hydrated with plenty of water (not just Starbucks’ yummy, holiday coffees!), eating healthy, moving your body to get exercise, getting enough sleep, and de-stressing, such as with a hot bubble bath with softly-glowing candles.

Amazon gift card

Amazon gift card

3. Give free or low-cost, but thoughtful, gifts. I have learned that buying presents at the dollar store isn’t always best. Some people will give or even throw them away! However, you can give gifts that are low cost or even free that people appreciate and even love! For example, my husband Ray has NEVER complained when I have put a “coupon” inside a gift box for an oil, back massage! Our daughters have deeply appreciated “coupons” for babysitting. Baking cookies, brownies, and Christmas goodies and putting them in those cute, decorative, holiday tin cans are always a hit. Buy a couple of movie tickets to bless your married kids or family members. Amazon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, Target, Walmart, Visa, and other gift cards can be great stocking stuffers or main gifts. There’s endless ways to give gifts that don’t break the bank and save you time and stress.

sweet potato casserole. Source: Delish

sweet potatoes casserole
Photo source: Delish

4. Simplify. To simplify means to reduce to basic essentials, diminish, or streamline. You and I can get all worked up, thinking we have to have the perfect Christmas for our family and our friends. We spend too much money, eat too many sweets, clean the house spotlessly until we’re exhausted, cook too much food (that often goes to waste!), and then when the holiday is over, we’re totally stressed out, exhausted, and maybe even resentful of others and mad at ourselves! It’s time to pare down and get down to the bones–the real meaning of Christmas, which is about Jesus and loving our family and others! Just one example is simplifying the family holiday meal. One Christmas we decided to skip the big meal and order sushi and Chinese. It was wonderful and we all loved it! Another holiday, we decided to go out to eat Italian at Cinzetti’s restaurant for their amazing buffet–delicious. (Anything where I don’t have to cook is a great idea, in my opinion!) If you don’t have the money to go out to eat or prefer having the meal at your home, just simplify your menu. It’s a shame that so much food goes to waste because people don’t like to eat leftovers, or they forget about them. Have just one or two side dishes, instead of four or five! Bake one, or at the most, two desserts. Choose one type of meat, instead of two. We don’t have to gorge ourselves at Christmas to be content!

Christmas decor.

Christmas decor
Photo source:

5. Try something new. One reason tensions build at holidays is that everything is familiar. You have the same foods, see the same people, do the same things. It can become boring. Strife and drama occur, with people fighting over the same ridiculous, stupid things. Adding something new at the holidays can lighten your heart and give you joy. If you normally stay home, go somewhere you’ve never been: attend The Nutcracker ballet, see the lighting of the Kansas City Plaza lights, watch someone at a shop make fudge (and sample it!)–or try making fudge yourself with grandma’s recipe. Drive in a new, affluent area with beautifully decorated Christmas lights. When my sister Maria and her family visited us several years ago, she and her kids tried ice skating in Kansas City, MO–fun! Her daughter Katie took to it right away (being a good roller skater!) and loved it! One year my daughter Heather and I shopped at her workplace at that time, Pier 1, and chose Christmas tree decorations, representing our family members. We picked a pickle for my husband Ray, because he loves pickles; a suitcase for me (I love traveling); a diamond ring for Heather (in hopes of getting engaged), an owl for our daughter Eden (she loves owls); and a snowflake for our daughter Leah (she thinks they are pretty and loves how unique they are). Each year I’ve added decorations to represent family members, at the birth of each grandchild. You can choose new things to do or traditions that will make Christmas more fun!

These are just a few tips to help you alleviate or reduce holiday stress. What are some things you do to help make your Christmas more joyful and less hectic and stressful? Leave your comments below.