And Then Debbie Macomber Smiled

Writing, like anything else requiring faith and perseverance, can humble you and wear you out, but sometimes, it brings the sweetest rewards. This past weekend, my mother Marion Bond West and I were selected with ten other writers to attend a Guideposts refresher workshop in Vero Beach, Florida–so many gifts at once!

Spending Mother’s Day weekend with my mom and some of my dearest friends,

And on Saturday night, Debbie Macomber would join us for dinner!

On the way to the airport, Mother insisted we take a selfie.

I gave Mom her Mother’s Day gift in the car.

When we got to the beach, I had time to walk with Stephanie Thompson, Ginger Rue Stewart, and Sue Karas.

Mother stayed in the room and caught up on her reading. 🙂

After the workshop Saturday we had dinner.

From top left:

Ginger Rue Stewart, Stephanie Thompson, Marion Bond West, Edward Grinnan, Julie Garmon, Shawnelle Eliasen, Monica Morris, Molly Brown, Peggy Frezon, Rick Hamlin, Sue Karas, Amy Wong, Julie Lavender, Janet Smith, and Roberta Messner.

Shawnelle and Peggy are among a group of incredible Guideposts bloggers.

But the best part of all–

New York Times, bestselling author Debbie Macomber shared her story.

When she spoke, she smiled—no, she laughed and brought bubbly joy, and the message to “keep on keeping on.”

Success didn’t happen quickly for Debbie. She experienced years of devastating rejections, lean times of living hand-to-mouth, and she dealt with dyslexia. 

And then Debbie told us what kept her going…

(If you can’t see the video below, click here.)

So many days when she wanted to quit, Debbie read a certain prayer from The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale that begins this way–

“I believe I am divinely guided…”

Thank you, Debbie.

This means we’re divinely guided too. 

God is with us through our struggles and nothing happens by chance.

Most of all, thank you for letting us know you’re one of us. 

You’re been we are.

You understand.

And you care.



P.S. Has anyone made a difference in your life and encouraged you to hang in there? Please share!


  1. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Wow, I must have my own personal army of encouragers! I started thinking about one person I could mention, and so many came to mind – my mother and my daughters chief among them. And, Julie, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you what an amazing woman of God you are, how your words through your blog and through personal messages have encouraged me and warmed my spirit. Thank you for your faithfulness and your love.

    Since you spoke of Debbie’s message and your time in the company of such a wonderful group of people, I want to publicly give a thumbs up to the Guideposts organization and the yearly devotional, Daily Guideposts, in particular. If I put a sticky note on every page where one of these blessed writers hit on a chord of truth that spoke to my soul, the man who invented post-its (great story of how they came to be, btw) would be set for life! Anyone who doesn’t already use this book daily needs to rush out and buy a copy so you don’t miss one more day! My personal spiritual growth would not be where it is without it. And someday, if it be God’s will, my major dream for my writing will come true, and He will use me to touch and encourage others with my devotions published in that book.

    • Cathy….how do I even say thank you for your kindness. W.O.W.

      To be named among your family.

      I’d like to pass your comment about DGP along to them–if that’s okay. This means SO much. It’s why I write–probably why all inspirational writers write.

      Hugs from me!!

  2. Brenda E. Greene says:

    Why Julie Girl….it was Norman Vincent Peale’ s book “The Power of Positive Thinking” that pulled me away from the negative person I was to who I am today! In fact after reading your blog and watching Debbie Macomber’s short film, I’m gonna dust off my copy and enjoy again!

    Also aving read Debbie Macomber’s delightful series about knitters and knitting several years ago, I think of her often as I recently taught myself to knit and am busy knitting prayer shawls… such a calming and peaceful pastime, especially riding to and from visiting with my mother-in-law who resides in a nursing home 30 minutes away.

    I agree with Cathy, you writers of The Daily Guideposts have daily encouraged me since I began reading 25+ years ago! Thank you for this delightful post and seeing you and your Mom enjoying life together! What a fun and encouraging time you all experienced! Much love from my front porch this morning, Sweet Julie, with “the birds singing sweetly in the trees!” Brenda

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Brenda, you did it… I’ve held myself off for years and years to learn how to knit. I crochet, tat, quilt, embroider, and quill. I have tools to make spider’s web lace, all those loom-magic thingamajigs, and fabric yo-yos in various shapes and sizes. I can sew clothes, draperies, and costumes. But until today, I held off on the knitting! So…you did it! 😉 It’s time to get out the knitting needles and other tools I inherited from my mother-in-law, find a tutorial on You-Tube, and face my fears. I’ve always gone by the adage, “Knitters knit, they don’t crochet, and vice versa!” Once, I saw this delicate knitted lace shawl, a sampler of the various stitches – so filmy, soft, and gorgeous! I took the pattern and decided to try it…yeah, right! So, here I go…not today, it’s my volunteer day. but tomorrow for sure! I’ll let you know what happens…or if I need emergency help untangling myself! 🙂

      • Brenda E. Greene says:

        Yes Cathy…do it! As “crafty” as you are I know you will love it! It was a Guideposts story in the March 2015 edition that inspired me to try again. (40+ years ago I attempted knitting my mother-in-law a vest. I thought it went very well until I finished and it wrapped around me almost twice…and I was pregnant! Obviously I had added way too many stitches! At that young age I didn’t have the patience to fix it.) I’m loving it now and realize you have to stop and correct each mistake as they are made. (Keep thinking there’s a sermon in there somewhere!) Can’t tell you how many times I have had to “rip out” this (my first) one but I am determined to complete it, and I’m almost there. So many beautiful yarns out there. I have two more sets just waiting their turn. Go to “Prayer Shawl Ministry” online… encouraging and inspiring for sure. Good luck!

        • Yes, for sure, there’s a sermon here, Brenda. And a beautiful life lesson of beginning again. Which is always possible. And patience. And even patience with ourselves and our mistakes.

          I’ll never forget the knitting class I took. My fingers were trembling…I was trying so hard, and the teacher helped me learn to relax and it’s okay not to do it perfectly.

        • Cathy Mayfield says:

          Brenda (and Julie and whomever thinks I’m learning to knit today!), my plans got changed again! I’m going to still be doing something crafty, but it’s painting ceramics with my youngest daughter at a shop in the mall. I started a project there a few weeks ago and need to finish it. Tonight is ladies night, with discounted studio fees, so Faith wanted to go. Knitting tomorrow! 🙂

      • Mary says:

        Oh my gosh, Cathy — this is too funny. I am thinking right now of my craft bureau, which holds my calligraphy/quilling/painting/knitting/scrapbooking/duck decoy (!!!!)/quilting supplies. My husband once asked me, “Exactly what hobby do you have? Is there one, or is your hobby defined as “Collecting Hobbies”? ” Ummmm… yes. ; – )

        • Love it, Mary! I have SUCH TALENTED FRIENDS!!!!!! I’m in awe of you all!!!!

          Hobbies–surely they’re good for us. They keep our minds busy–in a good way. 🙂

        • Cathy Mayfield says:

          Mary, I believe your husband hit it right on! I absolutely collect hobbies! In fact, I stopped at the craft store to pick up some special yarn today and ended up deciding to try my hand at those funny rubber band looms! They were half price…what’s a lady to do?? 😉

        • marci says:

          Mary thanks for sharing! Yes, that is too funny, and I know you are not alone in that. Thanks for a bright spot in my day today, and giving me a big smile!

          • Ohhh, how I love this! Making new friends!!! Who says you can’t make real friends through a blog. 🙂

      • Cathy! Brenda! Look what just happened! I can’t believe it. And Debbie played a part in it too.

        Hmmmm, very interesting about how knitters don’t crochet and vice versa. No wonder I think crocheting is so much easier.

        Let us know how it goes! Can’t wait to hear….

    • How neat is that, Brenda! Power of Positive Thinking has touched your life too! And Debbie inspired your knitting! I took a class a few years ago, and should reteach myself–just like you did. 🙂 It’s so calming, isn’t it? The action of knitting. I have to shut out all other thoughts (often negative ones) and just think about what my hands are doing.

      thank you, thank you, my friend!! Keeps me writing. 🙂 🙂

  3. Jo Ann Thomason says:

    Loved reading your post today and seeing the pictures of the jouful group. I especially loved the picture of Marion laughing with her head leaned back. She looks beautiful; so do you. I am grateful for the Lord’s gift to the both of you of writing encouraging, interesting, faith-filled material that are a blessing to so many of us who know you and love you…and, I’m sure, to many, many people who have not had the blessing of knowing you personally..

    • Oh, Jo Ann, thank you, my lifelong friend. I’ll read Mother your sweet comment.

      Means so very much. Just like your friendship.

  4. What an incredible gathering! Wow! So much goodness here.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! And thanks for letting me know you’re reading. I bet you’d have loved it–we spent a quite a while editing each of our stories as a group.

  5. Julie, Thanks for this. Though I’ve never met Debbie Macomber, I love her book, God’s Guest List. It’s such an encouragement to me. You can definitely see how God has injected joy and life into her, which she in turn, so abundantly shares with others. Love the pics! Love you. Bev

    • Hey Bev. I’m telling you–the minute Debbie walked into the room, she brought JOY. She laughed at herself, laughed with us, and cared enough to tell us it wasn’t easy for us. You’d have loved it.

      Love you dearly. I’ll tell Mother you read this. 🙂

  6. I adore Debbie Macomber! I remember when she was the keynote speaker at the ACFW conference in Denver. Oh, how she encouraged me! Thanks for this, Julie. How fun to be at a small event with her!

    • Ane, that’s one thing I said to Debbie. I bent down as she was eating and said, “You’re the best keynote speaker I’ve ever heard. You spoke at ACFW one year … ”

      Love you, my friend.

  7. Like others have said, you are an encouragement to me, Julie. Through your blog posts, you make me laugh and think and celebrate and repent. That’s what good friends are for!

    • Hugging you from here, Vonda. And that’s exactly what you do for me–and for so many others.

      THANK YOU.

  8. You: P.S. Has anyone made a difference in your life and encouraged you to hang in there? Please share!

    Me: Uh…YOU! You have made a difference in my life and encouraged me MANY TIMES to hang in there. You talked to me and calmed me when I went through a spiral of depressed feelings. I was afraid, and you were there. Are we all divinely guided? I’d bet we are. You. Me. All of God’s children.

    • Oh, B.J.

      Right back to you, times a hundred.

      You’ve done this for me, over and over again. You listen w/out judging. You always know just what to say.

      Love you so much.

  9. Sandra Walker says:

    Your mom and now you! Thank you!!!

    • Awwwwwwwe, Sandra.


      And each of my blog readers encourages me. I don’t know if y’all realize it, but each comment lets me know, my thoughts matters.

      Means so much.

  10. marci says:

    This was wonderful Julie, taking us along on your Mother’s Day week-end through your blog. It was like a little mini vacation. What a treat! I enjoyed seeing all the pictures, and the stories.
    I agree with some of the other comments about the writers of DGP, they have became friends, and are always spirit lifters each day. I feel like I know each of them. So there are those who inspire me,
    You inspire me, as so many have said here.. I look forward to Wednesdays to see what the Lord has inspired you to write. God has placed such dear people in my life, and I thank Him for that.

    Debbie Macomber, how I have enjoyed her inspiring books. I think I have read each of her non-fiction ones, along with a few of the fiction. She really inspires to keep going!

    Brenda Greene, I always am drawn to the mention of “Prayer Shawls” and when I hear of someone else who also makes them. I so agree with how nice it is to work on one. They do seem to come to life as we make them. It is a God thing.

    I hope each of the women here had a nice Mother’s Day, a special one. Plans changed and we did not have out little day trip, so no Hodge Podge place. My daughter came for the day, so that ws a surprise and a treat. She also inspires me with all she does. As for our planned day trip on Sunday– sometimes we make plans and the Lord has something better for us! I was very grateful to spend the day with my daughter.

    Thanks for the blessing of your writing.

    • Marci’a,

      Look at what’s happening! You’re talking to Brenda about prayer shawls. And you loved on me by making me one of my very own, which is right behind me on my chair as I write. Every day. I walk into my office and know God is with me. Sometimes I kneel by my chair and pray, keeping my fingers on the edge of the green yarn.

      We’re all in this together. We encourage each other. I just love that. Your attitude is so precious about how your plans changed. Sounds like you quickly relinquished what you thought was going to happen and let go and let God take over. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing how it all turned out. And I still hope you get to find your very own Hodge Podge.

  11. Mary says:

    I have a dear friend who is a pastor, and she has inspired me by encouraging me to look at trials and struggles in a different way. I was faced with serious struggles, and she pointed me to Isaiah 45:3: “I will give you treasures of the darkness, riches hidden in secret places, so that you will know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel who has called you by name.” She explained that to her, it meant that even in discouraging times — when hope is hard to find — there is a blessing, a treasure, a gift. It turned a light bulb on in my head. Instead of saying, “Why is this happening?” it became easier for me to say, “I don’t know why this is happening, but there’s something here I have to find… there’s a treasure in this darkness somewhere.”

    • marci says:

      Thank you for this Mary, for sharing this verse and a new way to look at things “in the darkness”.
      It is something I needed to hear as there are some areas where I have stuggled. It was able to turn a light bulb on for me also. I am going to make note of that verse and copy it. What a great way to look at it- Not “Why is this happening?” but, “..there’s something here I have to find.. a treasure in this darkness somewhere.” That is such a comfort to see it that way.

    • Such a deep, rich truth, Mary–one we all needed to hear. Thank you.

  12. Patricia Martin says:

    THANK YOU, Julie, for all your prayers!!The Lord still works miracles as He helped me fly through 7 exams in 2 weeks!!((: I prayed that you would have a great time with your mom and it looks like you did!((: Also, He helped renew my driver’s permit because I have had eye problems the last many months, but I had only a limited time before my driver’s permit expires so even though I was blind as a bat in the parking lot finding my car, God worked a miracle that let me get my permit renewed! I hope Thomas’s exams went well–I said prayers.
    Love and Hugs,
    P.S. What’s in the bag that your mom is holding?
    P. S.S. I have dyslexia and ADHD and my mom has been a big encouragement to me. (;

    • Patricia!!! What amazing news!! I love how you said you “flew” through your exams. You sound so free. 🙂
      And your driver’s permit too! You know how Thomas is, Patricia. He never mentioned his exams. He studied–I saw him, but I didn’t ask him how he did. Surely he did okay. :/

      How’s Maddy?

      Mother’s gift–I got her a bright pink fluffy bath towel with a matching wash cloth and some bath salts, and a few bars of rose-scented soaps. She loves rose-scented anything. 🙂

      And I had no idea you have ADHD and dyslexia. I love it that your mom has been there for you!! So sweet!!!

  13. I love when successful writers share their roads … the hard paved ones. It’s so encouraging. Thank you for sharing this, Julie. xoxo

    • Beautiful words, Shelli…the hard paved ones.

      Yeah, I try to be careful not to write too much about “writing” b/c most of my readers don’t write, but this time, I had to sneak little tidbits in. I’m going back to see if you’ve done more videos today! Love, love, love that you are comfortable in front of a camera. 🙂 🙂 So warm and welcoming.

  14. Sara Frankl was one of the first friends, to encourage, inspire, and love me through it all, unconditionally. She helped plant the seeds of change and excavated a path through the hard and messy, for me to follow. She taught me I just had to choose. And our friend, Robin, was right alongside, making me feel like I could. And Miss Robin led me to you, and your grace and wisdom just continue to blaze the trail ahead of me.

    Heart filled with gratitude for all of you lovely women!

    • Vicky, once again, your words take my breath away. They moved straight to my heart.

      Sara. And what you said she taught you–“You just had to choose.” Teary-eyed now. What she taught so many of us. Such power and hope. And I bet watching you display courage and grace has helped Robin over the past few days. I know seeing God alive in you two is reshaping me.

      I love you.

  15. I can almost hear your laughter here. So much fun for everyone.
    Your mom looks cool.

    • Lux, I’m smiling now, big time, reading your comment. Yep. My mom’s pretty cool. And I’ll tell her you said so–will make her feel even cooler. 🙂 🙂


  1. […] Frezon. Peggy lives in New York and I’m in Georgia, so we only get to see each other at Guideposts’ writers workshops, like this past weekend in Vero […]

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