Friday, December 29, 2017

Overtaken by Grace by Debbie Milam - Book Review

Of all the books available on Bookcrash, this was the one I most wanted to read, and the main reason I signed up for the program. More grace is always a good thing. 

As the saying goes, God works in mysterious ways. Little did I know that by the time the book arrived, a core family member would be in the intensive care unit (ICU) and I would be too sick to be able to travel, even though there was a good chance my beloved family member might not survive. Debbie Milam's Overtaken by Grace: How Intimacy with God Brings Hope, Healing, and Miracles provided exactly the support I needed during that difficult time. I loved her liberal use of scripture and her heartfelt prayers.

It's a very slim book, totaling 115 pages, and it didn't have any big original thoughts that I noticed. But what it did deliver is Debbie's beautiful way of speaking about core Biblical truths and life lessons in touching, heartfelt ways. Debbie's love for the Lord and her readers was evident and I felt like she was a friend helping me through this difficult time.

Some of the sections, such as coping with teenagers, didn't apply to my life but I read the whole book and do feel like I got something out of each part.

God did grant a miracle and my family member, while not completely healed, is still alive and able to live independently, something some of his doctors did not think would be possible. I'm still not up for travel but the need is less urgent.

Normally, once I finish a Christian book, I pass it on to my mother, who runs an informal free Christian lending library. But I'm going to keep Overtaken by Grace. I love the personal inscription she so kindly wrote for me and I know I'm going to want to reference it in the future, especially for the prayers.

My only criticism of the book is that Debbie only vaguely alludes to her challenges and doesn't get deeply personal and specific until more than halfway through the book (if I remember correctly, around page 65). I would have liked to know what kind of things she had dealt with much earlier in the book. But, even before she got specific, I could tell that she was someone I'd certainly like to get to know. I love her heart for God and her unique way of expressing His truths.

I would definitely recommend this book for any Christian or anyone open to Christianity. 

May God continue to bless Debbie Milam, and may He bless you too!

Related posts:
Refocus book review:
Life Lessons book review:
Disciplines of a godly woman:
Authentic relationships:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am not currently nor have I been in the past, an Amazon affiliate. I am considering applying to be an affiliate in the future and will post a notice when/if that happens. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas! Includes Update and Blessings.

Red and white camellia flower: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I wanted to share my Instagram photo but couldn't get the link to work here. It did work on my relatively new Facebook "writer" page. So if you follow me on either of those places you can see our 2018 Christmas card. But I do like the Christmas-y camellia flower featured in this post and hope you do to.

May this Christmas bring you renewed faith, pure joy, and the sure knowledge that Jesus loves you! If this is a painful time of the year for you, I pray that you will draw near to God and He will comfort you with His peace that passes understanding.

I haven't been blogging much this year but I have been praying a lot. I feel like God is leading me to start my own webpage but until I'm sure of what He wants me to do there I'll keep posting here. In the New Year I plan to share some of the things I'm considering and I will welcome your input.

May God's peace be upon you, light fill your soul and blessings be with you!

Related posts:
Christmas blessings:
Longwood Christmas:
Cute Christmas cat:

Friday, August 4, 2017

First Chicken Soup for the Soul Story Published!

Exciting news! Chicken Soup for the Soul bought one of my stories and it is in the book pictured above (The Dog Really Did That?)! The book officially launches on August 8, 2017 but is available for pre-order now on Amazon.

I haven't used Twitter in ages but if I can figure out how to get in to the launch party mentioned in the photo above, I hope to see you there!

May God bless you!

Related posts:
Our kittens when tiny:
Cute wrestling kittens:
Our elderly cat:
Direct link to book:

Disclaimer: I am one of the authors in the book and will be paid a flat fee for my story. I don't get any additional monies for books sold. The Amazon link in this article is not an affiliate link.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Blog Break - Spring 2017

Happy tidy Tuesday! The Great Clutter Purge of 2017 continues, albeit slowly. I had before and after photos for you of a little clutter busting progress but my husband doesn't want me to share household photos anymore. As much as I love sharing here, I love him more so must respect his wishes.

Unfortunately, my health has been especially challenging lately so I've decided to take the rest of spring off from the blog... and maybe longer. But as I'm able I'll still keep my Facebook page updated with archive posts and other blogger's interesting posts.

May God bless you and those you love!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quick and Easy Tea Nook Clutter Busting

Tidied tea nook: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy tidy Tuesday and Spring! The Great Clutter Purge of 2017 continues with a quick flat surface area / kitchen counter clutter busting project.

We have tea almost every day but this little tea nook to the left of our range is a clutter magnet. The above photo is an "after" clutter busting image. It includes one thing that wasn't in the "before" photo below. Can you spot it?
"Before" cluttered tea nook: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
This "before" photo shows a much messier tea nook. Most of this stuff isn't clutter in the sense that we don't use it but it is clutter in the sense that it doesn't belong there.
"After" uncluttered tea nook: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
So I removed everything from the area, cleaned the empty space, put the out of place things where they belonged and then returned the things that did belong.

Then I noticed the cup hook with nothing on it. I searched for and found the missing oven mitt and hung it back up (see the topmost image - that was the extra item not present in the "before" photo).  I like the tidied tea nook much better this way.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Quick Kitchen Counter Organizing:
Microwave Area Clutter Busting:
Organized Utensil Drawer:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Green Orchid Photos and Haiku Poems

Irish Blessing Plaque: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy St. Patrick's Day and floral Friday! The plaque in the photo above has this Irish blessing:

"May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rains fall gently upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand"

This plaque hangs, year round, in our bedroom. I am a wee bit Irish, after all.
Green Orchid "cymbodium goeringii" : Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
I thought green orchids would be perfect for this St. Patrick's day post. The photos were taken at the U.S. National Arboretum in their Bonsai Museum. It's a great place to visit, any time of the year.
Green orchids rising: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Back to St. Patrick's day. While praying and walking today, God gave me these two haiku poems.

St. Patrick's Day Haiku Poem I:
Saint Patrick was real!
He spread the gospel message
and loved our Lord God!

St. Patrick's Day Haiku Poem II:
He used shamrock leaves
to explain the Trinity:
Father, Son, Spirit.

Saint Patrick was a devoted Christian and I'm glad to celebrate his life by wearing green but I think loving God and serving others honor him best. 
Green orchids in pretty pot: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
The photo above is an overview of the green "cymbodium goeringii" orchids in their pretty pot. When I first saw the pot, I thought it was a pot of grass! But when I looked more closely I could see the orchid flowers.

Kittens love an unmade bed: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Just in case you wondered what our kittens were doing on St. Patrick's day - they were relaxing. Every time I went to make the bed, a cat was on it. It's late afternoon and I still haven't made the bed,  but the day isn't over. But their kittenhood almost is - they will be a year old a week from today!

May God bless you and all you love!

How do you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day? 

Related posts:
My Favorite Funny Cat St. Patrick's Post:
More funny Irish cat photos:
Cute cats wearing the green:

This is not a sponsored or paid post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

First Day of Spring Home Blessing Prayer Party (Online)

Photo source: Facebook theme
It's almost officially spring! You are cordially invited to celebrate with me via my online First Day of Spring Home Blessing Prayer Party! It will be held on Facebook on Monday, March 20th from 11 am to 7 pm Eastern time.

I envision us celebrating the first day of spring together with lots of praying for each other and our homes, and actual home blessing activities. This means not just sitting at the computer but getting up and doing some good in our homes (acts of kindness, cleaning, organizing, clutter busting, tidying etc.)! Home blessing prayers, prayer requests, home blessing tips and before / after photos are welcome!

I pray this will be an event that uplifts, encourages and blesses all who participate.

May God bless you and all who join!

Related posts: 
12 Spring Celebration Ideas:
Daffodils, Pansies and Cyclamen:
Spring Flowers:

Full event link:
Not a sponsored or affiliate post; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tidy Tuesday Tip: Consolidate and Containerize

Sunset yellow roses with red tips: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy tidy Tuesday! I think I took the rose photo above on March 9th and in the photos below you can see that they've held up pretty well. But that has nothing to do with Tidy Tuesday. The main point of this post is that if you don't have time to do a real clutter busting session, consolidating and containerizing works really well.
Messy dining room table "before": Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
On weekends that I'm too busy or health challenged, things pile up on our table. Yesterday, when I was walking by after getting the mail, the gloves were in a stack on top of the scarf which was on top of the pile of hats. It didn't look that bad because it was all stacked together (consolidated). But I thought it was a great opportunity to demonstrate consolidation and containerization. So I spread everything out and added the mail that I hadn't already recycled (I like to recycle what we don't need as soon as I bring it in).

Yes, I wore all that stuff since last Friday. No, I am not a minimalist.

You can barely see one of them but there are three jackets hanging off chairs around the table. I prefer to put my jacket away right after coming inside but if the kittens are eager to play they'll jump in the closet and I have a hard time getting them out. So I just wait until they're asleep.
Containerized & consolidated table "after": Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Everything that was in the first photo ("before") is still represented here in this first "after" photo! Although the bag got cut off so you can just see just the edge of it on the left. All I did to get to this point was to stack all 3 jackets on one chair (consolidate) and put everything that was spread all over the table and didn't belong there in the brown paper bag (containerize). Then I put the brown paper bag on one of the chairs. Instant improvement!

Fastest tidying tip - just dump everything in a container and get it out of the way. Now, don't get me wrong, that's not true organizing. But if you just want things to look better fast, it works.
True "after" with everything put away: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
I then put the jackets and everything that was in the brown paper bag away. This is what I prefer my table to look like. Streamlined with a few accents on the far end. I could do without the accents but there's space and the plants like it there. The table is in a central part of our home so it's a nice place to see flowers regularly.

Although I didn't recycle anything except the paper bag in this post, the Great Clutter Purge of 2017 continues. I have been releasing clutter. It just hasn't been very photogenic. Hopefully next week will lead to some great photo ops. Only God knows!

Hope this quick tip was interesting or useful for you! If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Refrigerator front organizing:
Great Clutter Purge 2017 Intro:
Linen closet organizing:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quick Refrigerator Front Clutter Busting for Tidy Tuesday

Photo by me; Magnet by
Happy tidy Tuesday! My Great Clutter Purge of 2017 continues. Until this week I'd been operating on a spontaneous method but yesterday I started a clockwise organization of the kitchen surfaces. I feel like these surfaces are clutter magnets so my current plan is to go from room to room and deal with all the visible surfaces. Today I tidied the front of my refrigerator.
"Before" clutter busting photo of refrigerator
I liked everything on the freezer section but it was just too much. The stuff on the refrigerator section was just to remind me of things to do and could definitely go somewhere else.
Totally clear refrigerator front
So I removed everything and gave the front of the refrigerator a quick cleaning. Truly, I don't need anything on it at all. If I were a minimalist, I'd probably leave it like this.
"After" clutter busting photo of refrigerator
But I decided it was reasonable and not untidy to keep one row of things that inspire me.
Love corner: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
This is my favorite photo of my husband and I just before getting married, along with a little poem and a magnet of a cheerful sunflower. I call it my refrigerator's love corner.
Psalm 118:24 art by Linda Grayson; Photo by me
This is a Bible verse I like to recite every morning. I don't remember who gave it to me but I've had it for at least 10 years and it makes me smile. Thank you, mystery family member or friend!
The Sandman loves organizing: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
The whole time I worked on the refrigerator I had to be careful not to step on my most curious cat, the Sandman. Technically he's still a kitten but he weighs almost 14 pounds. He and his sister, Braveheart, will be one year old on March 27th. I'm not sure how we'll celebrate yet but would love to hear your suggestions.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Linen closet organization:
Mystery corner clutter busting:
8 minute microwave area clutter bust:

Note: Not a sponsored/paid post. All opinions are my own 

Friday, March 3, 2017

First Daffodils, Periwinkle and Forsythia Flowers of the Year

Yellow daffodil flower and bud: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy March, floral Friday and welcome to "this week in my Maryland garden!" The spring flowers started extra early this year. But it's not truly spring yet and God reminded me of this by sprinkling snowflakes on my camera as I took these photos earlier today. 
Yellow forsythia flowers: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
We only have one remaining forsythia bush but its sunny yellow flowers brighten up a shady corner of the yard.
Pretty periwinkle flower and buds: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
The purplish blue periwinkle flowers (also called vinca) are popping up all over. I think periwinkle is my favorite ground cover. It spreads nicely and squelches weeds but still lets my larger perennials grow through. Last year I planted some under one of our rose bushes and I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out later this year.
Sunny daffodils: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
This daffodil has an unusual shape but I thought it was still pretty.
Tulip foliage: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
It'll be a while before it flowers but I was happy to see tulip foliage popping up through the mulch this week too.

Although I didn't get any photos this week, the hellebores are blooming too and you can see them here.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Daffodils, pansies and cyclamen:
Primroses, daffodils & quince:
Funky daffodil and more flowers:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Great Clutter Purge of 2017: January & February Results

Tiny Tidy Flowers: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy tidy Tuesday! As I mentioned in last week's post, I'm working on my Great Clutter Purge of 2017, inspired by ClutterBug Cas's similarly named endeavor. So far, my results sound great, especially since I didn't start until around January 20th but I'll tell you the rest of the story after sharing the numbers.

January - 448 pieces of clutter released

February - 1,578 pieces of clutter released

Total so far for my Great Clutter Purge of 2017 - 2026 pieces of clutter released

The actual numbers seem impressive, but when I look around my home... there's hardly a visible dent in the clutter situation. My progress has been slow due to health issues. When I don't feel well I tend to work on paper clutter (of which I have an unseemly amount). Busting paper clutter makes for nice numbers but doesn't actually free up much space. There are still huge piles to go.

On the plus side, if I hadn't kept track of the numbers I might be feeling like I hadn't made any progress at all. And it wasn't all just paper. I think I made two charitable donation trips (bags and bags of household items, books and clothes) and did clear out a substantial pile to the right of my desk. I really enjoy seeing that empty space now. It is a reminder that, God willing, when I get to feeling better, I can make more visible progress.

Want to join me in the Great Clutter Purge of 2017? Feel free to share your successes, challenges and/or ideas in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
ClutterBug's Great Purge:
Organized Linen Closet:
Tidy Dresser Top:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cas the ClutterBug's "Great Purge of 2017," book launch and pre-order bonus

Image source:
Happy tidy Tuesday! I've been under the weather so before I start my own 2017 clutter busting series, I thought I'd share about ClutterBug Cas' Great Purge of 2017 and let you know that there is still a wee bit of time to get her pre-order bonuses for her new book, Real Life Organizing. She's offering a bundle of printables, including her 2017 organizer printables, plus a lifetime code for all the printables on her website and (this is the best part, in my opinion) three people who pre-order will win an hour long phone call or Skype session with her!  You do have to enter some information on her website here after pre-ordering to get the bonuses, so if you do pre-order, be sure to fill out the form here so you don't miss out. I don't remember what day the pre-order special ends but think it's really soon. I bought my copy today and it was $12 and change.

I "met" Cas via her YouTube channel. I find her both inspiring and hilarious. Her Organizing Tips playlist there should have information on her Great Purge of 2017. So far, she has gone through her books, her storage room her craft room and more. She's a messy person at heart and turned her home life from slobby to organized. I believe she's kept her home organized for about six years now and also does consulting as a professional organizer. Even if you're not interested in her book, she shares lots of great tips in her YouTube videos. She also has DIY crafts in some of her videos (I loved her pretty felt flowers from a recent video).

The best thing about ClutterBug is her big heart. When I asked if I could do a copycat series inspired by her Great Purge of 2017, she quickly responded with a cheerful yes. I'm calling mine The Great Clutter Purge of 2017, only one word different from hers. I like that I have all of 2017 because with these health challenges things are going very slowly. But slowly is better than not at all. If you want to join me on my 2017 clutter busting journey, come back each Tuesday for tips and progress reports.

May God bless Cas, her family, you and your family!

Book launch ("Real Life Organizing") page:
Cas' Website: 
Cas' YouTube:
Cas' Organizing Tips Playlist on YouTube:
Cas' Great Purge of 2017 video:
Cas' Facebook:

Note: This is a totally unsolicited, unpaid, unsponsored post. All opinions are my own. I'm just a fan of ClutterBug and thought this would be a nice way to help her meet her book's pre-order goal.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Braveheart and the Sandman Kittens: Cuddling Cuteness

Cute kittens cuddle on couch: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Happy wild Wednesday! I'm totally biased but I think these cuddling kittens are totally cute. They're huge for kittens and still growing. But they're still full of that baby cat energy and it's nice to catch them being still.
The Sandman and Braveheart cuddling: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Cuteness! Two kittens hug sleeping. I love to see them like this. They totally love each other and cuddle often.
Cute cuddle cats awakened by camera: Copyright © Phyllis Wheeler, 2017
Of course, the clicking camera sometimes wakes them up. But they're cute that way too.

Thank you for visiting! May God bless you!

Related posts:
Cute wrestling kittens:

Tiny new kittens:
Yawning kitten tongue: