Dessert–in various forms

Fudgy mousse something or other

Fudgy mousse something or other

What is your favorite dessert?



Anything chocolate?

All of the above?

Mango cheesecake marvel

Mango cheesecake marvel


At a writers’ retreat in Monterey this week we had the incredible desserts pictured, but we had other kinds, as well.

Oreo mint ice cream sundae tower thingy

Oreo mint ice cream sundae tower thingy










View from our room

View from our room

The sound of the surf crashing onto the wall underneath our hotel room…

the smell of seaweed…

the taste of salt on my lips…

and the the sight of the foamy waves hitting the rocky shore along the 17 Mile Drive.

All of that was even better dessert for this mountain girl. Here are some visual tastes for you…

The lone cypress on the 17 Mile Drive near Carmel

The lone cypress on the 17 Mile Drive near Carmel

Pacific Ocean sunset

Pacific Ocean sunset









Could there be anything better? Oh, yes, there most definitely is.

We've been writer prayer friends for 20+ years: Tricia Goyer, Robin Gunn, Janet Grant (also my agent!), Cindy Martinusen Coloma and me

We’ve been writer prayer friends for 20+ years: Tricia Goyer, Robin Gunn, Janet Grant (also my agent!), Cindy Martinusen Coloma and me

The faces and hugs and warm encouragement of writer friends who-know-what-my-life-is-like.

These memories will carry me for a time–but will also make me long for future dessert moments with them.

My roomie, Linda Evans Shepherd

My roomie, Linda Evans Shepherd






So, what’s your favorite dessert?

Do you have a photo or recipe to share?


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One of our favorite sights was this beautiful lighthouse off the southern coast of Maine.

One of our favorite sights was this beautiful lighthouse off the southern coast of Maine.

Do you love to travel? I’ve gotten a crazy bug for it lately!

I  am also sort of an OCD traveler–I want to see a sweep of places in x number of days.

For example, years ago my friend June and I visited all 21 of the California missions in just eight days. We drove twelve hours to San Diego in one day and then visited three missions up the coast over the next seven days–exactly three each day. While it started out simply as a bucket list venture–check another something off our travel list–it became a wonderful, spiritual journey of lovely surprises: pennies in fountains, bougainvillea, yummy tamale fundraiser by Mexican mamas, an all-business monk carrying a briefcase, more bougainvillea, garden prayerwalks and more.


More recently I met two adventurous friends in Boston, and we then cruised through all six New England states in the next five days–up to Maine in one day, over through New Hampshire to Vermont the next, then through Massachusetts to Connecticut the day after that, and then through Rhode Island (that was a whoooosh!) back to Boston. We challenged ourselves to get off the beaten track and found treasures: a high school homecoming parade (we almost were IN it!), Poet’s Seat Tower, an honor system maple syrup stand, meandering stone fences. I used the word charming a LOT!

At this point I have five more states to visit–South Carolina and what I call the ALMA states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Alabama). I see another tripquest in the near future with one or more willing co-conspirators.

What is your tripquest? Do you want to visit lighthouses on the East Coast or West Coast? (Me, too!) Do you want to travel down the Mississippi? Cruise around the Hawaiian islands?

Perhaps you are on a virtual tripquest, such as walking through grief or walking the bumpy road of caring for an aging parent or crossing the sea of wait without any land foreseeable in a fuzzy horizon.

In any case you have a Guide who said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). And he will see you through whatever situation you are traveling.


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Off to see the wizard

I love my sister Nan's Wizard of Oz clock. "There's no sister like Holm!"

I love my sister Nan’s Wizard of Oz clock. “There’s no sister like Holm!”

My sister Nan was a huge Wizard of Oz fan. In fact, she had a whole Wizard of Oz themed room–one of her and her husband Gary’s guest bedrooms when they lived in Yreka, California, just a few miles south of the Oregon border.

I’ll never forget the time we were treasure hunting at an antique mall when she found life-size cardboard Oz figures. She was in heaven . . . or maybe I should say Emerald City.

Then she had to explain it to Gary.

“How are we going to get those in the car?” he said.

Well, where there’s a wiz, there’s a way.

After Nan passed away last year, I ended up with several boxes of Oz. I thought about using the things to decorate one of our empty nest bedrooms, but, frankly, The Wizard of Oz always scared the begeebies out of me! My idea of thematic bedroom decorating is BEACH. No flying monkeys in my house!

But I was drawn to this cute ruby red slippers clock. It reminds me that “There’s no place like home” . . . and my sister’s smiling face when she was finally able to create her own home with her Southwest personal touches in Phoenix.

Pics from Rachel's visit to the Wizard of Oz Museum.

Pics from Rachel’s visit to the Wizard of Oz Museum.

It tickled me this last week to see that my niece, her daughter, visited the Wizard of Oz Museum in Kansas. Nan would have loved visiting that museum . . . and while it saddens me that she didn’t see all her bucket list places, she is now truly experiencing the Oz theme: “There’s no place like home.”


Just wondering: Are there special movies you associate with folks you love?

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Keeping score

At my Loyalton High scorekeeping table!

At my Loyalton High scorekeeping table!

Some of you know — especially if you live locally — that I have been the official basketball scorekeeper at Loyalton High for many years. I started keeping score many years ago when Craig was coaching our kids.

And . . . some of you know that the Loyalton High Grizzly girls are having a great post-season ride as the California Interscholastic Federation’s North Section Division 6 champions, with an overall record of 27-2. Their next challenge is now the semi-final round of Norcal State Playoffs — with a home game this weekend.

Years ago NBA great Michael Jordan said, “I can accept failure; everyone fails at something, but what I cannot accept is NOT TRYING.” He learned from his failure–even not making his high school team one year–only allowing it to spur him on in intensity.

Our girls have learned from their two losses–both from high division teams:

  • “I learned that winning isn’t everything and that . . . loss does not define your character.”
  • “In life you will lose, but you get back up and strive for more so that you come back the victor.”
  • “I learned not to let the attitudes and actions of others dictate how you play as an individual. If you stay positive, the rest of your team will see that and hopefully start being positive.”
  • “Life is going through obstacles. . . . Sometimes you have to fail first in order to succeed later.”

Wise young women for their age, right? They sound like Paul: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). In fact, their maturity has probably kept them cool and focused.

In my writing life I’ve had WAY more rejection than acceptance. Thirteen magazine editors rejected one story I submitted to them. At that point I finally thought, Hmmm, maybe I need to change something. 

Duh. As I reread the piece, I found a bitter scene and took it out. It sold on the fourteenth try.

That was a record of 1-13 for that story. Seemingly a loss record except for the thousands who read it and were encouraged to keep trying in their marriages.

How do you keep score in your life? Do you focus on what others have done to you? Do you measure your failures and successes? Be a Michael Jordan or a Bailie or a Hayden — and allow your failures to propel you toward a better you.



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Daddy-daughter dates

My husband Craig just took our daughter Rebekah to our church’s Father-Daughter Dance for the second year in a row. Seeing them all dressed up reminded me of a couple memorable moments with my dad.

I wish I still had my wooden tennis racket.

I wish I still had my wooden tennis racket.

It was just he and I on the high school tennis courts in our hometown of Hudson, New York. It is the one sport I have continued to play into adulthood — and usually think of Dad when I do.

From his instruction I learned to face life head-on in readiness — just as he did when he learned he had amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS–Lou Gehrig’s Disease) — and to give the task at hand your best whack with great follow through.

I've got the travel bug now!

I’ve got the travel bug now!

One date I remember was also at the high school, where he took me to a travelogue lecture. I have no idea who the speaker was or what country the lecture was about. I was mostly impressed that my dad would think me smart enough to take it all in and learn something from the experience.

That particulate evening, I think, planted a seed of confidence that lay dormant for many, many years but later — sometime around my junior year of college — began to grow so that I finally understood that if I apply myself, I can persevere through confusion so as to understand challenging material.

Because I was the oldest of five children, there wasn’t always time for a lot of one-on-one time with my dad. He was a department store manager and lived there a lot during our waking hours. But I was always treated like royalty when I swished through the revolving doors of Marsh’s Department Store.

So, seeing my daughter treated like royalty — complete with flowers and fine dining at Steak ‘n’ Shake — makes me glad the tradition is alive.

What is your favorite childhood memory?


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Pennies for . . . pizza?

Have you got a jar that looks like this?

Have you got a jar that looks like this?

I learn something every day from my high school students. Today their lesson was about motivation.

Our school is again participating in the Pennies for Patients campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which raises money through the generous donations from elementary, middle and high school students over a several week period.

Kids bring in their and their parents’ spare pennies and other change that often just collects in a jar on the counter or dresser — and that spare change amounts to millions to help kids fighting cancer.

At my school it’s a class competition, and I’ve been really impressed that the senior boys, in particular, have been dumping sandwich bags, socks, heart boxes and other virtual depositories of coins into the cardboard box on my desk.

Today I said, “Guys, I am just so impressed with the way you are giving so generously!”

One boy responded, “Hey, we just want the pizza party!”

“But don’t you realize,” I said, “that you could buy a heck of lot more pizza with what you’re donating?”

And then the truth came out. “Mrs. McHenry,” another boy said, “basically, it comes down to winning. We’re competitive. We just want to win.”


So, I figure there will be winning involved this year. My seniors will win pizza. And even more money will be raised for cancer research–particularly for earlier diagnosis of the disease, safer treatment options and a cure. In other words, lives could be won.

That’s a competition worth entering. Let me know if you’d like to give, too. And we’ll invite you for pizza.


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A clutter-free existence

The enemy: clutter

The enemy: clutter

I hate clutter.

I like a thing in its place, so I have a bright, shining face.

Therefore, when I see Craig’s things, like these shoes, nilly willy here and there, I get a grrrr in my gut. Why can’t he…?



However, on this particular day just a few feet away were my boots standing there in my bedroom corner willy nilly and not in their appointed spot behind doors.

And as I continued to survey the house on my cleaning rampage, I realized that most of the clutter was mine. Like 90 percent of the clutter.

At the end of my houseworkout, it occurred to me that life’s external messes are a lot like its internal ones. It’s so easy to see the clutter in someone else–when I’ve got just as much. I can get SO offended by someone else’s sarcastic comment or bad attitude or refusal to take responsibility, while I tolerate that same clutter in myself.

Jesus noticed clutter, too. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3).

He used the H word, too. No, not housework. Hypocrite. 

The faith walk requires a lot of housework. Scrubbing away grime. Vacuuming up grit. And eliminating clutter. And like everyday life in the house trenches, it’s a never-ending job. Just when you’ve got your spiritual laundry folded and put away . . . in march muddy boots.

And they just might be your own.

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Just for fun . . . what’s your best tip on eliminating that literal clutter in your life?



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