Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome, Author Peggy Blann Phifer

Regular Writing with God's Hope blog followers know that I cherish the opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite writers. Hope abounds in Christian books, both fiction and non-fiction. Today, I'm honored to interview a great "online" friend, Peggy Blann Phifer. I've read her fiction and heartily recommend it. She offers an entertaining read with a Christian worldview. 

Peg, tell us something about yourself.

I was born in Upstate New York and have lived in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Michigan, and Nevada. I'm now back in Wisconsin. It wasn't until I passed the half-century mark that I started taking my random scribblings seriously.
Did you ever feel like giving up on your writing? 
And how did you press through this?
Oh, yeah, I wanted to quit more than a few times. What writer hasn't? But I'd been bitten by the writing bug by then and pushed on through. Especially after I was sure God had given me a task to write the stories He gave me.
What gave you the idea for this book? How did you find your publisher?

I combined these two questions together because they're intertwined.
In late 2013, Kathi Macias approached me to write a short story for a compilation she was working on called "Twelve Days of Christmas." I jumped at the opportunity, signed a contract and ended up writing my story called "Best Laid Plans. The publisher was Helping Hands Press.
Since then I have signed four more contracts with HHP, the current one being a series of my own called "Sweetwater River."  This stemmed from a character I created in my second contract for 'Summer in Sweetland' and carried on through the next two series' ''Tis the Season in Sweetland' and 'Sonrise in Sweetland.' All of these focus around foster care and adoption.
At the end of that series, my publisher asked if I wanted to do a series of my own, and the rest is, as they say, history.
I am currently writing Volume 3 in this series.
How do you feel your latest release will encourage readers, or did you have something in mind like this when you wrote it?

I'm hoping my readers will not only enjoy this series, but realize the trauma that is the result of being in the foster care system. And the joys of being a foster care mom, and the delight of adopting these kids-even the older teens, providing them with a forever home they'd never had.
If you were a song, what would it be?
Oh boy. It would have to be 'Amazing Grace' or perhaps an old, old chorus we sang years ago, 'Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul.'
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read-on my Kindle-my eyes are no longer good enough to read print books anymore. I used to do a lot of craft work, and crochet, but arthritis has put a crimp in that.
Tell us about your book.
     I've already mentioned some of it above. The Sweetwater River Series is about Rozene Gentry, a widowed, middle-aged woman, who finds herself involved with four girls in the foster care system. Troubled teens, three of them about to graduate from high school, which essentially disqualifies them from foster care, and they have to leave the Youth Acres Group Home where they've been living, and Rozene takes them into her own home until they can get on their feet and learn how to cope in the real world on their own.
And of course we have some romance and tragedy along the way. Saying more at this point would be spoilers.
Volume 1: 'Ripples,' and Volume 2: 'Undercurrents,' have already been published. Their buy links are embedded in their titles. I'm currently working on Volume 3: 'Moorings' and hope to have it released soon.
Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer as far as writing is concerned, Peg’s first published work was a prayer that appeared in 2000 in a Guideposts Book compilation called Prayers for Every Need. Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A novella, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction, released in November 2014, re-released in late 2015. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and she is currently writing a series of her own called Sweetwater River. Peg is represented by Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency.
Social Media Links:
TWITTER: @pegphifer

What an honor to have you visit the Writing with God's Hope  blog, Peg. Thank you. I'm eager to dive into this Sweetwater River Series.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What Does Food Do For You? How Do You Replace It?

When you take away the food, you can be thrown into depression or
chaos unless you fill that void with something else, As
a Christian, that voice is best filled with the Lord.

Whenever you falter, turn to God's Word. Pray, meditate, keep
a prayer journal. According to Jesus, the main command of God is to "love Him with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all
your strength."

The second command is "love your neighbor as yourself." So, I would suggest, when cravings hit (as they surely will), call a friend, visit an elderly or disabled person, write a letter or communicate encouragement online. When we turn the focus on others, we learn that it's not all about me.
Though we start a weight loss program with drawing close to God, we must also hit the problem on mental and physical fronts.

Excess or fattening foods give us something, or else we wouldn’t turn to them. Examine your life. What does food do for you?
Stress relief?
Cessation of boredom?
To start:
1. If you haven’t already, decide on a food plan that works for you, one that provides a balanced, healthy way of eating and includes food you like and goes along with your lifestyle. If you can't eat that way forever with minor changes, you won't stay with it.
2. Purchase foods that work for your plan.
What must you keep around to stay on target?
    With me, I must have fruits and low-fat yogurt.
3. Decide on some activity.
Walking, running, gym, DVDs at home, dancing, water aerobics, swimming? What do you like?

     How can you incorporate your daily chores into exercise?
    Sit with small children & do toe touches or kicks?
    Go up and down steps at work every day?
    Break up sitting with 10-15 minutes of stretching or jogging in place?
     Mowing lawn
     Knee bends while on telephone
Common sense tells us less in, more moving, equals weight loss, so on a practical level, we must do a combination of these two things.
Related Blogs:
Any questions or suggestions?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Unsinkable. Unshakeable. Unstoppable.

If anything is worth doing, it's worth doing well.
That's something my dad taught me, and something I've strove to do all my life. By doing this, I lapsed into perfectionism. That wasn't the intention.
Strive for progress, not perfection.
In no way does perfectionism raise its ugly head more than in losing weight. God is the God of freedom. We must not obsess over dieting anymore than we should obsess over food. When you begin on a journey of weight loss, ask God to take control. Only through His power can we be unstoppable. Under our own power, it can be a disaster. We can fall face-forward into a plate of pasta or chocolate cake by noon on the day we start the race.
With God, nothing (not even losing a hundred pounds) is impossible.
My hubby & I in the backyard of the unsinkable Molly Brown
Recently, I visited the museum of the unsinkable Molly Brown in downtown Denver, Colorado. Margaret Brown (who never went by Molly) accomplished a lot in her lifetime. She was before her time in the women's liberation movement.
To the left is our ticket to the museum. The fam to the right we used as the home's only air conditioning for a warm day.

Margaret Brown picketed for mistreated mine workers. She ran for public office. She was an excellent fundraiser for Denver fine arts.

And, she saved lives along with her own when the Titanic sunk.
     When the call went out for women and children to come to the deck to be the first loaded into the lifeboats, she went to her room and donned layers of clothing. During the cold night on the water, she pushed occupants to "row, row, row," thereby keeping them warm. Jackets, petticoats, and extra dresses were taken off and shared with others. Not only did she not sink nor freeze, but neither did her boat full of Titanic survivors.

In front of Molly Brown's house, now a museum, with my daughter

Years back, Hollywood presented a movie starring Debbie Reynolds as Margaret Brown. From then on, the Titanic survivor became known as the unsinkable Molly Brown. This museum was a reminder of what a remarkable woman she was in the time period she lived. What an inspiration! She wouldn't accept the word, "no."

I long for that type strength. In some areas, I feel I do show it, but I was never so powerless over anything as I was over food.

Praise God for His emotional healing, for His power to be unsinkable, unshakeable, and unstoppable in the area of eating. His is the only real power.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.
                                                                               2 Corinthians 12:10

Something I hadn't noticed before. The verse doesn't read, "when I am weak, then He is strong." It's "when I am weak, then I am strong."

Praise God. I am unsinkable through Christ.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Devotion from Divine Dining

My Do It Myself


“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah 41:13

     My oldest daughter and son-in-law bought an inside basketball goal for our first grandchild, their niece. We put it away and brought it out for each one thereafter. By the time, my third and youngest grandchild was born, the basketball goal was worn, but still usable. The pen that held it to a certain height kept getting lost, so I hid it. My grandson loved that goal. By age two, he was wise to my tricks of hiding the pen. He’d drag the whole contraption into the living area and say “pen,” indicating I should get the lost part. He would take it from my hands and say, “My do it myself.”

     He would aim and miss several times. I’d say, “let Mimi do it.” But no, “my do it myself.” In God-given grandma wisdom, I covered his right hand with mine and guided the pen into the hole. His eyes lit up. Then, he swatted away my hand and reaffirmed, “my do it myself.”

     What a picture of us at times. We’re taught to be independent. When faced with a compulsion we can’t control, we argue with ourselves saying, “I’m an accomplished, capable, intelligent woman. I can get on a diet, stay on it and control this thing.” But, we try and try, and can’t. No matter how many times we tell God with our actions and words, “my do it myself,” we can’t.

     Finally, God holds our right hand and puts the pieces together. But, do we still shake His hand away and say, “my do it myself.” We can’t. God help us. We never can.

Prayer: When I try to walk in my own power, remind me of my grandson slapping away my hand. God, I need You to hold my right hand.

This is one of the 365 devotions from my book Divine  Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness from Pen-L Publishing.

For that daily inspiration purchase it at 

or on Amazon at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What's the 3 Components of Weight Loss?

Compulsive overeating, despite our own wishes, hits us on 3 levels: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

1. Spiritual:   Study the Bible daily. Read a devotion or spiritual lesson to help with the spiritual side of weight loss or weight maintenance. Many great groups like Weight Watchers or TOPS hit the physical and mental part, and that’s important, but few address the spiritual element.
     Pray daily, "Not my will, but Thine be done."

*****Without Christ’s power, we will never find permanent victory, merely temporary relief.

Most of us have discovered the temporary.

Many of us have lost hundreds of pounds in our lifetimes.

We must learn to conquer it forever, and that requires submitting to God’s will and utilizing His power.

2. Mental  Support groups such as Weight Watchers and Church groups help with this. Share tips for changing your mindset.  If you don't have a support group, find a friend fighting weight.

Our goal is to look at food as we would the mountains or the beach, something that God has given us to make life more enjoyable.

We want to look at food as we do God’s Word, something we take in daily to nourish our bodies, like His Word does our souls.

Food isn’t a drug.

Food isn’t what will fix your problems.

Food isn’t your friend.

Food isn’t your god.

Anything you put on the throne of your life instead of God is an idol.

Though we love God and desire to serve Him, we build up habits. Habits require mental changes. To stop one bad habit, we must replace it with a good habit.

That's where tips that work for others can also help us.

****My best tip for eating out is to choose wisely, but then take half of it home.

****My second best tip is when faced with a dessert, I eat half and cover the rest with my napkin. Also, if it isn't a real favorite, I consider it not worth it. I'll wait for cheesecake.

3. Physical  Don't overwhelm yourself. Start small. Change one thing at a time.

Obsessing over what not to eat is as bad as obsessing over what to eat.

God is the author of freedom.

*****The first change is this:

Eat breakfast every morning this week.

Not just any breakfast, but choose from these choices.  (One in each category.)

One starch or grain

      Suggestions: ¾ c. ready to eat cereal without added sugar

                        1 c. Hot cereal like oatmeal or cream of wheat

                                                  without added sugar or margarine

                      1 slice Whole grain toast

                        Half bagel or English muffin

One dairy or high calcium food   1 c. skim milk or 2% milk

                                                 8 oz. yogurt (80 calorie)

                                                 1 oz. 2% fat cheese

                                                 ½ c fat free ricotta cheese

One protein             Can be the above cheeses

                            1 T. peanut butter

                           1 egg

                          ½ c. eggbeaters

                       1 oz. ham or Canadian bacon

One piece of fruit lots of choices there apples, strawberries, bananas, nectarines, etc.

Double these portions if you’re over 200 lbs. or if you do intensive exercise.

That's my lesson for today. Compulsive overeating hits us on all 3 levels. It takes fighting back on all 3 to lose weight and maintain the loss for life.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why is Weight Loss Important to the Christian?

      The National Health and Nutrition Survey in 2004 tells us 133.6 million (66%) adult Americans are obese or overweight. A Purdue University study indicates conservative churches such as southern Baptists, Assembly of God and Church of God fight this battle more often. Richard Kreider of Baylor University gives further insight into this. These denominations “avoid dancing, tobacco and alcohol, but give no guidelines for overeating.” He goes on to say our churches more often attract with food, not action events.
     Even if you don’t suffer from compulsive overeating to the point where it almost ruins your life like I did, still unhealthy eating habits can slow you down and diminish your witness.

     From my own true story, I can say that though I gave my heart to God at age seven and attended church regularly, compulsive overeating almost ruined my life. I teetered on the brink of suicide and divorce for several years. Praise God, He gave me an emotional and spiritual healing just  in time.

Have you given your heart to Christ?

Have you set Him on the throne of your life?

                That is the question each Christian must face.

  Think about it.

If anything  (even food) takes the place of God in your life, you hamper your walk with Christ, you drown in your own powerlessness, and you're not putting your trust where it needs to go.

Why is weight loss important to the Christian?

It's not about the food. It's about the fix.

Is your mind fixed on Jesus, or the next treat you plan on eating?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

An Interview with Award-winning Author, Lena Nelson Dooley

I'm excited to have as my guest today multi-published author and gracious mentor to many, Lena Nelson Dooley. In 2006, my first year of studying writing and submitting my work, Lena blessed me by doing a critique of my first chapter while we both attended an American Christian Fiction Writer's (ACFW) conference. I purchased one of her books and have been her fan ever since. I highly recommend her blog ( ) for inspiration, knowledge, and fun. She's known for her fantastic author interviews.

Today, I get to interview her.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma, and a great grandma. My family is very important to me, and now they all live closeby. I've been married to the love of my life for over half a century. We'll celebrate our 51st anniversary in November. And I write Christian novels.

Tell us about your writing journey.

When I started writing novels in 1984, there were no writing groups around that I knew about. God has led me all the way. He put people in my path when I needed to know about something. It took 8 years to get my first book published, then 10 years before the second, but now there are over 30 different books out there with my name on them. 

Did you ever feel like giving up?  And how did you press through this?

Yes. During those first 8 years, and even during the next 10, I questioned if I was doing what I was supposed to do. God had used several events in May 1984 to tell me to become a professional writer. (You can read the testimony on my web site: on the About Me tab.) When I would get discouraged, I traveled in my memory to that time. It sustained me.

What gave you the idea for this book? What is the book about? book we're featuring is A Texas Christmas. It's a novella collection with novellas by myself and 5 other award-winning authors. My story is Charlsey's Accountant. Here are the titles with blurbs from the back of the book:

Six Romances from the Historic Lone  Star  State

Herald the Season of Love

Here Cooks the Bride by Cathy Marie Hake - Lacey Mather's delicious cooking is warming many hearts and stomachs--especially those of a closed-mouth blacksmith. But she has no plans to stay in Texas

A Christmas Chronicle by Pamela Griffin - Travis McCoy is a nomadic photographer with no time to put down roots, find a wife, and raise a family. But then he meets the unconventional Vivian Sager.

To Hear Angels Sing by Ramona Cecil - Bridget O'Keefe leaves Chicago to teach Indian orphans and quickly experiences the hostility the Comanche face from locals like Seth Krueger who blame then for the death of his parents.

The Face of Mary by Darlene Franklin - Mary "Polly" Jessup holds onto a promise of marriage made five years ago, but when Joey Carpenter returns from law school with a new outlook and a new girlfriend, her future hopes are dashed.

Charlsey’s Accountant by Lena Nelson Dooley - Charlsey Ames can rope, ride, and work the ranch with the men and never thought she's be attracted to accountant Harold Miller, III, a citified tenderfoot.

Plain Trouble by Kathleen Y’Barbo - An expert tracker, the plain Bessie Mae Ames is content unmarried, until Texas Ranger Josef Mueller tides into town, trailing a wanted man. 

How do you feel this book will encourage people in their walk with Christ, or did you have something in mind like this when you wrote it?

Every book I write I like to show people how the characters can deal with their problems with the help of the Lord. I hope the book will encourage them to seek Him in their own problems. 

What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Galveston Island on the Texas coast 

If you could be a song, what would it be?

Zach Neese, a worship pastor at Gateway Church in Texas where I'm a member, wrote a song "The More I Seek You." I've told Zach that he writes the songs my heart feels. This one especially. Here's a link to a YouTube video of Kari Jobe singing the song: 

Where can your readers find you?

I'm on a lot of places online:

Where can your books be purchased?

Many of them can be found in Christian bookstores, some in Walmart occasionally. But all of the books I've written are on Amazon.

Award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley has had more than 800,000 copies of her books sold. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the local chapter, ACFW - DFW. She’s a member of Christian Authors’ Network and Gateway Church in Southlake , Texas .

She has been on both the CBA Bestseller list and several Amazon Bestseller lists. Her 2010 release Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside Press, won the 2011 Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western Fiction. Her next series, McKenna’s Daughters: Maggie’s Journey appeared on a reviewers Top Ten Books of 2011 list. It also won the 2012 Selah award for Historical Novel. The second, Mary’s Blessing, was a Selah Award finalist for Romance novel. Catherine’s Pursuit released in 2013. It was the winner of the NTRWA Carolyn Reader’s Choice contest, took second place in the CAN Golden Scroll Novel of the Year award, and won the Will Rogers Medallion bronze medallion. Her blog, A Christian Writer’s World, received the Readers Choice Blog of the Year Award from the Book Club Network.

In addition to her writing, Lena is a frequent speaker at women’s groups, writers groups, and at both regional and national conferences. She has spoken in six states and internationally. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Along Came a Writer blog radio show.

Lena has an active web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin and with her internationally connected blog where she interviews other authors and promotes their books.

Thank you, Lena, for stopping by for a visit on Writing with God's Hope blog.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Need a Boost to Your Weight Loss?

     Poet, John Donne, wrote "No man is an island."
     Hillary Clinton told us, "It takes a community to rear a child." 
     The fact is that we need each other for wisdom, encouragement, and strength.

Notice in my post about my 10 best tips for weight loss at

that number 7 on my list is going to the support group of your choice.

My devotion book, Divine Dining, gives 365 days of encouragement and inspiration to the food addict. Losing weight is a lonely road. Many times, no one is there to turn us away from a doughnut. At a dinner or pot luck, everyone there may indulge while we stand alone to withstand the temptations. Support from others, even if only given once a week, strengthens our resolve.

During my recent trip to Colorado, I had the pleasure of meeting two sweet ladies in person, who I had previously met online.

I first met writer, editor, radio interviewer, Patti Shene several years ago when I submitted a short story titled Victoria and the Ghost. Because of her advice, that story became my debut YA novel published by 4RV Publishing Co. out of Edmond, OK.

The other new friend, Dawn Orr, found me on Facebook, and purchased Divine Dining. When Patti interviewed me on her online radio station, Dawn heard the broadcast and explained that she and three other friends were doing a weight loss Bible study using Divine Dining as their guide. Of course, I wanted to meet her. How blessed I was to learn the book God gave me was helping someone else in their walk with the Lord.

Writing friend, Patti Shene on my right, Dawn Orr, who started a Bible study with Divine Dining on my left when we met in Pueblo, Colorado in August, 2015

Weight loss encompasses the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of our lives. During my weight loss journey, I've attended many support groups because I realize the need for me to be around others going through the same struggles.

I began this path twenty-two years ago when I attended a church group called "Christian Weight Controllers." When our music minister, who led the group, moved, I took over the leadership. The stress got to me, and I stopped the class. By that time, I had already lost about 65 pounds and had 35 more to go, so I still needed that group strength.

I then rejoined Weight Watchers and lost thirty more pounds. I maintained the 95 lb loss for eighteen years and last year lost another five pounds to make it an even one hundred pound loss.

After I lost the weight, I quit Weight Watchers. I accomplished the physical and much of the mental problems, but I found I constantly regained pounds, moving up and down, again and again. I faltered often. I rejoined Overeaters Anonymous. Some of the groups helped a lot, some, not so much. Once, our church offered a generic 12 step program that helped with any addiction or compulsion, similar to the now popular Celebrate Recovery programs. For a few weeks, I attended a TOPS meeting. For awhile, I went to both OA and WW because I felt the need for help in all three aspects of my life.

My next step was to teach a program through my church that addressed all 3: physical, mental, and physical. My first try ended in disaster. I taught with the wrong attitude, and God did not bless it. Divine Dining released in January, 2013. That September, I began a weight controllers class at my church. We named it for my book. Every September, when we start up new classes throughout the church, I debate whether to continue teaching. Always, I remember the importance of support groups.

Do you need a boost for your weight loss?

I know that I must eat healthy, get exercise, and change my mindset about food, but guess what ...


The devil actively tempts me where I'm weakest: putting food in place of God, running to food instead of the Word, not asking for the Lord's strength when I want to quit.

Is it time you joined a good support group where you live? If there's not one, do you need to start one? If you live in or near Wichita Falls, TX., we would welcome you to the Divine Dining Weight Controllers Class beginning anew on Sept. 15 at 6 pm.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tunnel Vision

     Then Peter called to him, "Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on the water."
     "All right,"  the Lord said, "come along."
     So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
     But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified, and began to sink. "Save me, Lord," he shouted.
                          Matthew 14: 28-32 Life Recovery Bible

Tunnel on way to Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado
For our Christian walk, we require tunnel vision.  On a recent trip in the Colorado mountains, we passed through three tunnels.  While our car was going through them, we could see nothing except the sides of the tunnel and the road ahead. There were no distractions to pull us away from our goal, getting through that tunnel. Once we reached the end, lakes and trees, homes and businesses, other cars and even animals vied for our attention.

In the verses above, Peter reached his goal (walking on water) as long as he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, but when the waves distracted him, he sunk.

If your goal is to lose weight God's way, or to find deliverance from any addiction, compulsion, or hang-up, keep your eyes on Jesus. If, like me, you have a hundred pounds to lose, or even thirty, the difficulty rises in your mind like a mountain that looms across Colorado roads.

Tunnel vision is the solution. Block out worrying about the storm, the problem, the mountain. Focus instead on Jesus, and Him alone.

If your feet begin to slip, spend more time in the Word and in prayer.

When a train goes through a tunnel, and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.
                                                                        Corrie ten Boom

Are you struggling to reach your goal? Do you feel God led you to write? Or lose weight? Or teach a class? The goal may seem like mission impossible.

Try doing it by going through a tunnel. Don't allow anything to take your eyes off Christ.