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) 🙂


Three Sweet Blessings from Friendships with Women

Rick and I’ve been married for 36 years. We have no secrets. He’s my best friend, but sometimes it’s fun to spend time with lady-friends. When we get together, the conversation shifts from deep talk to silliness. In a heartbeat.

Saturday, a girlfriend invited another friend and me to go shopping. I’m attending a Guideposts writers’ workshop in two weeks and wanted something spiffy to wear.

“There’s an antique shop down the street,” she said. “Let’s go there.”

Clothes in an antique store? 

She took us to a place I’d never noticed in my very own small town of Monroe, GA.

Good friends are like that–always teaching us new stuff.

When we arrived, I didn’t care if they had clothes or not.

I felt like a little girl again!

Hodge Podge held the same splendor I remembered from childhood when I went antiquing with my mother and sister. There’s a certain thrill in rounding the corner of a shop and discovering dusty surprises.

The front door was wide open and welcomed us like a warm smile.  I took a step inside and childhood memories came alive.

Miniature tea sets.

Sparkling chandeliers.

Handmade lavender soap.

Oh me, oh my —

My heart went pitter-patter at the crocheted shirt.

My sweet friends.

They insisted I try it on in all three colors–aqua, black, and oatmeal.

“Definitely, the oatmeal-colored one,” they said in unison.

After we shopped, we stopped for coffee at The Cotton Cafe.  Sitting at a small table, we laughed and shared secrets the way little girls do.

At home, I hung up my new crocheted top in my closet and smiled.

Good friends are one of God’s greatest blessings. They:

1. Help us not to take life (and ourselves!) so seriously.

2. Always want the best for us.

3. Encourage us to sparkle and shine. 

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9 The MSG

Have you had fun lately with your friends? What’d you do?

What sweet blessings have you found in friendship?





Fudge for Breakfast

Growing up the oldest of four, hard work came before fun. Always. There were little brothers to chase, dishes to do, and I edited my mother’s writing.

Lots of rules to follow. 

Having fun sometimes seemed like a no-no. 

Last week I went to Mother’s house so we could edit each other’s devotionals for Daily Guideposts. She surprised me with homemade fudge. She and my sister Jennifer made The Best Fudge. (Here’s their recipe. It’s GF.)

I put a piece of sweetness in my mouth. Let it melt on my tongue. “Your fudge is…”

“Pretty wonderful, isn’t it?”

Our work forgotten, we just sat and talked.

“I’ve started wearing aprons again,” she said.

“Here’s my kitty-cat one.”

“Jennifer gave me this one.”

I loved what was happening.

We’d never played before work.

It felt amazing!

Like we were actresses on a movie set!

“Women wore this kind in the fifties,” she said.

Who could see this and not laugh?

“Oh, we need to run to the post office,” she said. “And let’s eat lunch out.”

“Now? Before we work?”

“Sure, why not?”

When we got to the post office, she insisted we take a selfie.

Our first mother/daughter selfie. 

“You know, people are staring,” I said.

“Who cares?”

Later, in her office, we laughed while we worked, making our task a joy. 

The next morning, I wanted to keep the memory alive, so I broke the rules (again!) and had fudge for breakfast!

Something I’d never done.

Mother called.

“Yesterday was so much fun,” I said.

“Yeah, sometimes we think fun has to be a trip to Disney World.”

“I know. We even broke the ‘work before play’ rule, didn’t we?”

“We sure did.”

“Mother, what’s your definition of fun?”

“Fun means doing simple things in life with someone you love.”



My word for 2015. 

What simple ways do you have fun? How’re you doing on your word for the year?



Do it Scared

My childhood is different from most people’s. My mother is a writer. She spent her days hunched over the typewriter wearing her bathrobe. When I was ten, she appointed me her editor. I took great pleasure in using a red marker. “Boring. You can do better.”

Here we are at a GUIDEPOSTS writers workshop in 2009.

She called last week. “My writing days are over,” she said with a sigh. “I’m going to become the mother y’all always wanted. I’m going to dust the baseboards and post menus on the refrigerator. I’m even going to learn to sew.”

“You’re not going to be happy.”

“Gene’s going to love it. (Gene’s her husband.) I’m going start using cookbooks.”

“Mother, you’re a writer. You hate directions. And nobody learns to sew at 77.”

“My creativity’s dried up. I have nothing left to say.”

“You taught me to feel a story moving in my heart long before it comes to life, remember? And to love words and books and the rhythm of sentences.”

“Those days are over.”

“You’re afraid to write, aren’t you?”

A long pause formed. “Perhaps.”

“You taught us rejection is part of life. And when we fall, we don’t stay down.” I felt my throat tighten. “And to keep our eyes and God. And to never ever give up.”

“Well, I quit.”

“Who am I supposed to call when I need the perfect adjective?”

“You’ll figure it out.”

Two days she called. “Can I read you something? I’ve wanted to write it for a while, but I lacked the courage.”

“Welcome back. How’d you conquer your fear?”

“I took that first terrifying step. I typed the first sentence. And then another. And another. God was right there with me.”

“This is bigger than writing, you know.”

“Yep,” she said. “No matter what you face, say ‘Shut up fear.’ And tell your heart, ‘Full steam ahead.'”

Is there something you want to do, but you’re afraid to try? Share it in the comments. That might be your first brave step. We’ll be rooting for you! 




Mom and Me and Ministry

Saturday morning, 6:50, Mother called. “I’m on your driveway,” she said. “I’m early. I’ll sit in my car ’til you’re ready.”

Years ago, I didn’t plan to be speaking, teaching, and writing like my mother Marion Bond West. We were co-teaching at East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers Conference.

“Look at these terrible hose,” she said, hopping into my car.

“What’s wrong with them?”

“Last night, I laid everything out–my clothes, my shoes, and my wonderful toeless nude hose. I put on my hose this morning and they had a run. So I had to wear this ridiculous pair. I look like Carol Burnett.”

I tried my best not to laugh. Her hose were fine, but Eunice and Mama.



She stretched out her legs on the dash to show me. “I planned to wear heels with toeless hose, but I had to wear flats. And these stupid hose.”

“Mother, stop. You look cute.”

(Her shoes–I have a pair just like them.)

“You’re just being nice,” she said. “I look like ‘Marion the Librarian.'”

“Hush. You do not.”

“That’s real sweet of you to say, but–”

“Want me to stop by Walmart?”

Her face blanched. “Are they that bad?”

“No, Mother.” I sighed.

Later on…

After we finished teaching, she whispered, “You have a sticker stuck to your shirt.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to embarrass you.”

“So you let me teach with a sticker stuck to my shirt?”


“If I’d told you while you were teaching, you’d have blushed.”


On the way home…

“Today was nice,” I said. “Nobody noticed your hose.”

“I forgot all about them. I had fun. We laughed and they laughed with us.”

“I guess it’s not about hose or stickers, is it?”

“Nope. It’s about being real and giving yourself away,” she said.

Mother in her Carol Burnett hose, and me with a sticker stuck to my shirt shared a little bit about honest writing.

Maybe a little bit about honest living, too.

Have you stumbled onto this Truth?

It’s not about me.


Julie (and Marion/Eunice) 🙂







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?