Fear…Get ‘Cha Gone!

This quote is why I blog: “A wonderfully nurturing atmosphere is created when people help other people by being themselves and sharing their own experiences.” Courage to Change–One Day at a time in Al-Anon II

It reminds me of my friendship with Peggy 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 Beach


Peggy and I battle The Fear Monster. Sometimes she says, “Fear! Get ‘Cha Gone!”

If the two of us gave in to our fears, we’d stay home in our closets. The things that scare Peggy aren’t frightening to me. And vice-versa.

But Fear is Fear. And it doesn’t play nice. 

Peggy’s afraid to travel.

She rode to a Guideposts workshop in 2004 with a jacket over her head. Her husband was driving. She’s afraid of elevators. And flying (at least right now).

But we’re on our way to becoming fearless!

Her husband  rode the train with her from New York to Vero Beach, Florida. They rented a car for part of the trip. She sat in back seat holding Jesus Calling.

I brought Jesus Calling to Vero Beach, too. Not because I’m afraid to travel.

I’m afraid of rejection.

Of being judged. 

Of not measuring up. 

I’d submitted another story about my depression. I wrote about it here years ago. The group would be discussing my story (my second clinical depression!) at the workshop.

The root of my fear?

Pride. What’ll they think of me?

But guess what?

Nothing I was afraid of happened. 

No one judged me!

No condemnation!

After the trip, Peggy and I emailed each other:

“I think God’s calling us to dip our toes into the water,” I wrote. “To go deeper with Him.”

“Look at the pictures I just texted you!” she wrote. “I took them right before we left!”

Peggy at the ocean. 

One step closer.  

Then another.

Peggy’s so courageous–traveling  from New York to Florida. She captured the moment on video–the same kind of joy I experienced when I wrote the truth and no one rejected me. 

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

And then Sunday we sang this song at church. A certain phrase won’t let me go.

“And You call me, deeper still…”

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

Do you fight The Mean Fear Monster too?

Maybe God’s calling us to go deeper.

I pray this post helps.


Julie (and Peggy) 🙂


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!

My Friend Peggy’s First Book–Dieting with my Dog

I’d like to introduce a dear friend, Peggy Frezon. Peggy and I met at a Guideposts’ writers’ contest workshop in 2004. We both won spots to attend. After five days of learning and growing as writers, a few of us formed an online writing group. Peggy is a member of this group.

Peggy’s first book, Dieting with my Dog,  just came out. Peggy and her dog Kelly went on an adventure together. They lost weight and got healthy. I’m honored to interview her.

Welcome, Peggy. Tell us about your wonderful book cover. Is this really you and Kelly?

Yes. The picture was taken in my living room by photographer Ric Easton. The pose was actually my own idea, although we wanted to use slim sexy legs (not my own! haha!) and the publisher wanted fat legs. I wore some baggy sweatpants because I’d lost the weight by the time we took the pictures. We posed in front of a white sheet. The photographer did the Photoshop work, adding in the checkered floor. And the publisher did all the rest of the design work, title, and background color.

Dieting with My Dog is full of so much love. You even have Kelly’s autograph alongside yours. Could you have lost the weight without her?

I’m glad that people feel the love in the book. Often, we do something for those we love that we wouldn’t do for ourselves. I started out losing the weight FOR Kelly. I never would have made the effort if I hadn’t made the connection that my lifestyle, my eating, and sedentary habits were also hurting her. But we ended up supporting and motivating each other.

My favorite thing about Dieting with My Dog is your honesty. Did you struggle with writing so openly?

As you and I have learned by writing for Guideposts, the only way to truly connect with the reader is to get nekkid: be open and vulnerable. I didn’t have any trouble opening up–the only times I wanted to be careful was not to hurt anyone else. Before the book came out, I had to tell my mom a few things to soften the blow. I said, “Mom, I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, but I said we were both short and round and fat like two apples that fell from an apple tree.”

Your relationship with Kelly seems divinely orchestrated. Have you experienced this deep inner connection with each of your dogs?

I’ve always felt a deep connection with my dogs. I’ve written about my first dog, Happy, in various Sweet 16 stories and Chicken Soup for the Soul books. He was a once in a lifetime dog. Each dog has had its special place in my life. Kelly joined the family and helped fill the empty nest, and ended up as so much more. She loves to jump on the back of my living room chair and curl around my neck. She’s always right here at my feet when I’m working. That’s one reason why I take walks during the day–so we both get some exercise. And that’s an important part of the book. When I just sat at a desk all day, my dog and I had health issues. Once we both got up and got moving, we become became healthier.

Thanks, Peggy. Blessings on your book! Congratulations on your weight loss–both yours and Kelly’s. Does anyone have a dog like Kelly–the sweet kind who wants nothing more in life than to love and be loved by you?