We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Body, Soul, & Spirit Drawing
(a $100 value)

How to Enter: Whether you're maintaining a long-distance friendship, a treasured old one, or building a new one, send me an e-mail sharing your secrets to a lasting friendship.

I'll post entries in future updates to help each us grow stronger friendships.

Box includes: It's a God Thing from Thomas Nelson Pub., Spa Comforts microwaveable shoulder pillow, A Depth of Insight by James A. Eldred, Wow Hits 2014 Deluxe ed. CD (not shown), Chicken Soup for the Soul Shaping the New You, Tea Forte' Herbal Retreat organic tea, and Godiva Dark Chocolate Almond bar!

*** U.S. entries only please

Here's a few questions I keep written on a post-it-note attached to my calendar's current month. When an opportunity comes along and fear strikes, I ask myself:

1. What are you afraid of?
2. What do you have to lose?
3. Will you be better off, worse off or the same if you take this step?

A couple of thoughts to keep in mind as you ask yourself these questions.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines … Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Ecclesiastes 11:4 (NLT)

Love Grows from Small Acts!

I know it's not Valentine's yet, but this morning I tucked a box of conversation hearts into Loren's lunchbox. I can already see the grin on his face when he finds them. Those candy tokens will brighten his day and remind him he's loved!

How about you? What little gestures do you do to show your love?

Facing New Challenges in 2014!

The Sunday after Christmas I spend a bit of time on my knees, hands open before the Lord in prayer. I imagine the possibilities and opportunities the Lord has planned for me in the coming year. Of course, like everyone I hope for his blessings to abound. However, sometimes things happen to us that we didn't expect or want.

A few years ago when I experienced a life-altering event, I made several visits to a counselor who helped me deal with difficult changes. Marlene encouraged me the first time we met when she said, "Focus on what you can do, not on what you can't."

Perhaps you too are trying to cope with a health diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, or a family crisis. If so, you may want to check out Marlene's blog for a brighter perspective from her years of wisdom and experience. You can find her at www.focuswithmarlene.com. Marlene holds a master's degree in Psychology and Counseling, and has experienced her own grief and disappointments in life.

Readers Share their Plans for 2014

Susan - In summer when it's a hot night I love to float in the quiet of my pool. All alone listening to the crickets.

Dawn - I love to walk along the beach, just close enough for the water for it to wash over my feet, and talk with the Lord, my hubby or a good friend. I prefer to take these walks early in the morning or as the sun is setting and the beach is not as crowded.

Michele - We spend the summer going to our son's baseball games - which is good because it gets me outside, and I love baseball, and I get to read between games and going to and from games!

Betty - I live near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and my favorite summer activity is exploring the park and enjoying the beautiful mountains.

Dianne - We stay at home and produce as much food in our garden as we can and then preserve it so we have it all year. Right now we are canning stewed tomatoes. We have been married 38 years and have a lot of fun being alone together at home.

Cindi - My favorite summertime activity is camping with the horses and trail riding. It's such a blessing to be able to enjoy all of God's beauty from the back of a horse.

Donna -I enjoy piecing quilts in the evenings and spend weekends fishing with my husband, and spending time with family & friends.

Pat -I used to Hate summer. Allergies prevailed just at a season I had no excuse to stay in. They have abated and I'm so glad to be older and able to enjoy this gorgeous season of full blossoms and luxuriant leafage at their richest time. Weeding gets me very close to abstract shapes and exquisite textures of many living things! Walking is without extra needed clothes, smelling wonderful fresh breezes and seeing lovely clouds. Only in this season does snow leave the highest trails and allow heights and sights to inspire for all year to come. "For the Beauty of this Earth" is something I can now celebrate in this special season of summer.

Sue - I enjoy sitting and reading stories to my grandchildren whereas my husband loves to make up stories and 'spider' with them. He wriggles his hand and they screech and slap at him and then laugh together...it takes all kinds doesn't it?!

Kristin - My favorite summertime activities~~walking along the beach~~reading novels, going to an outdoor concert, reading novels, cooking on the grill, reading novels, taking nature walks, and reading novels.

Homemade Pizza


1 cup warm water 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg. dry yeast 1 teasp. salt
2 teasp. sugar 3 cups flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add the veg. oil, flour, and salt. Mix well until dough forms a ball. Roll dough onto a lightly floured 11x16x1"cookie sheet. Pinch dough ¾'s of the way up sides of cookie sheet. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350*


1 1/3 lb. bulk Italian Sausage, browned & scrambled 1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/2 large onion, chopped 3 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
1 green pepper, chopped 3/4 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
1 tablesp. sweet basil 1 4oz can mushrooms, pieces and stems
1 teasp. Italian seasoning 1 6oz can black olives, sliced

Pour tomato sauce onto dough and spread evenly. Sprinkle seasonings over sauce, then 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese. Layer on Italian sausage, mushrooms, onion, green pepper, olives. Top with remaining cheddar and mozzarella.

Bake for about 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. This crust is a bit crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Different than commercially made pizza, but our family has always loved its texture. Mom made this when I was growing up. I made it for my kids, and now they make it for our grandkids, who all love it.

Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snowmen
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That's the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it's snowing,
I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going.
~Ogden Nash