Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another first...

Up until yesterday I had not been anywhere on the campus of MTSU other than Murphy Center and Mark Pirtle's Sky Box at the football stadium. Yesterday I went to speak to a class on American Spirituality.

In February I met a fellow Murfreesboro author who also teaches at MTSU, Rabbi Rami Shapiro. I was telling him what my book was about and he asked me if I would be interested in coming to his class and sharing my story. I said I would be happy to. And within a week or two we had set a date of March 30. I have never spoken on a college campus other than while I was a student, required to give presentations in my own classes. But because I was regularly in college classrooms not so long ago, I knew it wasn't going to be that scary. I knew once I got there and began talking, I would do fine.

However, the thought of going into that setting and not really knowing my audience was a bit outside my comfort zone nonetheless. And I have to be honest ... I really wasn't looking forward to it even though I knew once I got there I would probably enjoy it (because I am, after all, a people person and a communicator).

I had initially intended to spend some time preparing for this. But life gets busy and, before you know it, the date arrives and you haven't spent any time in preparation! On Monday evening, I hadn't received any communication from Rabbi Rami and I had been expecting directions on where to park and where to meet (since I had no idea how to get to his classroom). I finally sent an email saying that since I had not heard from him, I wasn't sure if this particular day was still good for him and it would be fine with me if it wasn't. A little part of me was thinking I would enjoy just spending a day at home.

Come to find out, he had been hoping to hear from me because he could not find my contact information. He still wanted me to come, but said that he would understand if I needed to reschedule. I told John that even though I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, if there was anything my dad taught me growing up, it was to face my fears and get things behind me that were hard rather than continually avoid or put things off into the future. This is something my dad very successfully cultivated in me because that is how I approach most things in life to this day. If I'm even halfway dreading something, I tend to want to get it behind me as soon as possible rather than to put it off. So I responded that I would be there as planned.

Just as I knew I would, I felt right at home in the classroom from the moment I got there. It turned out to be quite a nice group of students. I remembered how much I enjoyed so many of my college classes and discussions. Within the time we had, I told them as much about myself and my life as I could. I answered questions. And we engaged in some discussion of the teachings and beliefs of Christianity vs. other faiths. Talking has never been a problem for me. I just shared. The time passed very quickly. The students seemed attentive and engaged. And I was even able to share my heartfelt gratitude for the grace of God and the ransom that was paid for me by Jesus Christ on the cross. (I told them I would probably get emotional talking about that, and I did. No surprise.)

Several of the students talked to me after class ended and I gave away four books. This book is not about profitability in dollars. If I know someone really wants to read my story and I sense that money is in any way an obstacle or concern, I give the book away. I have given away 105 books so far for various reasons. And I know that money is tight for college students. Truthfully, I wish I could afford to give the book to every reader. Taking money for the book is and always has been awkward for me. I'm grateful for every single person who has taken the time to read it. I poured myself into that book for almost a year. My heart is on its pages. I am as thankful for the readers who borrowed a copy as those who purchased one. I would estimate (conservatively) that close to 1,000 people have read the book at this point. I have heard from so many. And those who have copies are continuing to loan them to other readers. This is extremely rewarding for me.

After class, Rami bought my lunch to say thanks. I'm sure I talked his ears off. That is what I do. LOL. He was very pleased with how things went and the students' response. He asked if I would come again to another class. I said I'd be happy to. And I will. From this point on, I know I will look forward to it. It won't be at all out of my comfort zone next time.

Rami hasn't read my book yet. So he doesn't know how awkward I am with praying out loud in front of other people. When the server brought our food, he asked if I would like to say something before we ate. I have to be honest. I don't pray every time I eat. I wish I could say I did. But I don't. However, feeling that I would not be a very good representative of the faith if I didn't respond in the affirmative, I said a quick prayer and thanked God for my new friend. I wonder if he'll get a chuckle out of it when he reads about my discomfort. I don't think I showed any hesitation. But that was because I was caught off guard.

Next time I may just 'fess up to the fact that I don't always pray before every meal.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"How Much More Longer?"

I did another local author event for Barnes & Noble Friday evening. This time it was at the Cool Springs location. Instead of being seated behind tables in a long row (like we were in Murfreesboro), this event was a reception. Each author's book was displayed and we just stood around and talked -- to customers, to each other. It seemed to me that the Murfreesboro event drew more people. Maybe it was the time. The one in Cool Springs was from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on a Friday evening. The previous one was from noon to 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon.

I met another Murfreesboro author, Steve Elder, at the first book signing. But because we weren't seated next to each other, we did not get to talk much. In Cool Springs, however, we got to visit a little bit and exchanged books. The first I knew anything of Steve was just before the Murfreesboro book signing when a friend of mine remarked, "I can't believe I have TWO friends who have just published a book!" I found out Friday night that Steve also knows another one of my friends. They go to church together. Murfreesboro has grown pretty large, but it still has a small town feel (which I love). The recent growth combined with a strong sense of community makes Murfreesboro an ideal place to live. It's the first community I have ever really felt such a part of. I feel like I belong here. And that's kind of amazing considering how many people were born and raised here and I have only lived here since August of 2003. But I can't imagine living anywhere else. And because Steve was also a Murfreesboro author, I wanted to read his book.

I had a busy week, but I didn't have to do anything yesterday other than making a quick trip to the cleaners and Kroger. So I thought I would start reading Steve's book. I have been trying to finish the last 100 pages of a 600 page biography of Lincoln for months. But part of the reason it's taking me so long to finish it is that I seldom read just one book at a time and I keep "cheating" on Lincoln with easier reads. I love biographies, but I tend to get bogged down in historical data. What I love most is the personal side of the story. I don't necessarily want to know Civil War strategy. I want to know Lincoln. So I plod along through the stuff I know I won't retain and soak up everything I can learn about the man.

I really want to finish that biography. But rather than reading about Abraham Lincoln yesterday, I decided to read about Steve. And I'm glad I did.

I didn't set out to read the book in one sitting, but I just never wanted to put it down. So I wound up finishing it by noon. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote an Amazon review last night. This is something I have never done. But now that I'm an author, I know how much it means to have someone take the time to review your book! I have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback on my book, but 99% of it has been private. I understand why that is the case (subject matter and personal ties). And don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for every person who has taken the time to write to me about the book privately. Those letters, emails and conversations have been the most rewarding aspect of sharing my journey. They have made me know that my desire to help others has been realized many times over. But as an author, it's very special to me every time someone posts a review openly because if the book is ever going to be more widely read, it needs recommendations. I am an unknown author. The book will only be read through word of mouth, since I have done virtually nothing to promote it. (I don't have a clue how to promote a book even if I wanted to.)

But back to Steve's book...

"How Much More Longer?" turned out to be a book I am eager to recommend. It was inspiring and so enjoyable to read. As I wrote in my Amazon review, Steve and I come from totally different places and backgrounds. But there was so much in his book that I related to. One thing he emphasized in various ways throughout the book was the value of being "real" in our relationships; being transparent and being known. I have always been such an open person who makes no secret of my desire to be known. I don't hold back. I'm comfortable with vulnerability and transparency. But many people are not.

I have found out the hard way that there are people whom I have wanted to really know me who just simply have not wanted to -- and still don't. It's taken me a lifetime to get to the place I am today (mentally and emotionally) where that is okay with me. I now make a very conscious choice to invest myself in relationships with those people who not only want to know me, but want me to really know them -- warts and all. Early in the book, Steve made this statement:

"If people close to you really love you, they'll want to know you. They'll want to get real with you and you with them."

Someone significant in my life once said to me "I have always loved you. And I want you to know that you don't have to be anyone other than who you are." I know that when this person spoke those words to me, they were heartfelt and sincere. The words meant a lot to me. And they still do mean something to me. I will always remember how I felt to hear those words.

But later on, "being me" wasn't okay with this person after all. I have wrestled with feelings of regret, as if my being too "real" was somehow the problem. However, as I read Steve's book, I realized that I have made the right choice -- to be real -- regardless of the response.

"How Much More Longer?" made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think deeply about my own choices in life and the relationships I cherish. I also had the opportunity to get to know Steve.

Thanks, Steve!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Jesus came . . .

"Jesus didn't come to make bad people 'good' ...
He came to make dead people alive ... "


I took the above quote from an email I just read. The email included a long transcript from an online conversation in which one party was witnessing to another. It's a detailed conversation and I was deeply touched by it (in its entirety). I wanted to share a few brief excerpts on my blog.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"The price for sin is death for everyone, no escape. You can pay it yourself ... or you can accept the price that Jesus paid FOR us in our place. But for Jesus to pay that price, He had to make Himself just like us. Because He never sinned while He was on earth and He completely submitted Himself to everything that God the Father asked of Him (being in complete agreement), He should not have ever died.
Sin = death ... no sin = no death.
That's why only JESUS has the RIGHT to give life to whomever will accept HIM."

"Jesus didn't come to make bad people 'good' ... He came to make dead people alive ... He said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father except through Me."

[In John 10:17-18, Jesus says] “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

"He says 'My Father' because, even being God, He had to take on human flesh and all human flesh is created by God through the first man and woman. So JESUS is fully God and fully man."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You would have to read the entire conversation to understand how thoroughly this person witnessed to someone who was asking questions about who Jesus really is. I can't do it justice with a few excerpts. And I don't feel at liberty to publish the entire transcript because it contains details of personal lives. But the one doing the evangelizing answered in simplicity and yet in precise detail, backing up all his claims with Scripture. At one point, he began to pray online in writing about a very serious event that interrupted the conversation. His prayer touched my heart as well.

By the way, his prayer was answered. A life was extended. And, hopefully, a new life in Christ has been born. I know that the seed was well planted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bring the Rain (Mercy Me)

More than once, someone's reaction to reading my testimony has been, "I kept asking myself why you didn't turn away from God as a result of all you've gone through." And the line in this song that touches on that question caught my attention yesterday as I was listening to the radio. In recent months, I have not been thinking much about what I've been through in the past. Writing the book has helped me to process and purge so many experiences and so much emotion. From the feedback I've received, it has done that for others as well. The responses I've received from readers have been so therapeutic and rewarding. I know God has had a purpose in everything I have ever gone through. Without my struggles, I would not have a testimony of triumph and overcoming.

However, I can honestly say that I never blamed God for painful events. I expect difficulties in life. I have not understood everything I've faced, but I'm not a person who has to have an answer to every question or everything I don't understand. I have always believed that behind every painful experience there was a greater purpose, a reason for what I was going through that God knew, even if I didn't. I never wanted to turn my back on Him because I was disappointed by people or circumstances. And that was an important message I wanted to convey in my book, that there is nothing: no circumstances, no life, no person that God cannot redeem.

I'm in a resting period right now. I've had a lot of great days lately. And yesterday was no exception. After having lunch with a group of friends, I was running a few errands; Sam's, Walmart, the bank, the cleaners. As I drove from place to place, I was thinking about how much I love the people in my life and how much I appreciate their love for me. I was thinking about the beautiful sunshine, how good the warm spring weather felt, and how happy I was to be wearing sandals again. I was soaking it all in. I was savoring the big things and the little things I appreciate in my life. Savoring moments is something I do a lot these days. I take nothing for granted.

Although I am enjoying a period of sunshine right now, I know there will be more rain in my future. I'm not asking for it. I'm not looking forward to it. But I will trust the One who made a way for me and praise Him..."My only shelter from the storm."

"Bring the Rain"

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain?
So I pray

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Faithfulness

I was listening to Christian talk radio in my vehicle this afternoon. This is not something I normally do, but I landed on this station and stayed. The topic was evangelism and the speaker was talking about how some of us tend to rate ourselves as good Christians based on how successful we are at converting others to Christ. He made the point that it's unbiblical thinking to measure ourselves this way.

He said: "God does not call us to success; He calls us to faithfulness. There's a difference." He emphasized that it is the Holy Spirit's job to convert the heart. We are simply called to be faithful witnesses. We are equally faithful whether or not we "win" someone or fail to convince them of their need for Christ.

It got me thinking about other areas of my life where I think in terms of success and failure rather than simply being faithful. There will be many successes and failures in all of our daily lives. Rating ourselves on every up and down, success and failure, will keep us on a spiritual and emotional rollercoaster. Focusing on our failures leads to despair. Focusing on our successes, unfortunately, so often leads to self-righteousness. Success and failure focuses us on our performance, which will always fall short; while faithfulness is a reflection of our heart and our priorities.

Faithful is defined by some of the following words:

~Steadfast in affection or allegiance : loyal
~Firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty : conscientious
~Given with strong assurance : binding (a faithful promise)
~True to the facts, to a standard, or to an original (a faithful copy)

Synonyms faithful, loyal, constant, staunch, steadfast, resolute mean firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance. Faithful implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted (faithful to her promise). Loyal implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray (remained loyal to the czar). Constant stresses continuing firmness of emotional attachment without necessarily implying strict obedience to promises or vows (constant friends). Staunch suggests fortitude and resolution in adherence and imperviousness to influences that would weaken it (a staunch defender of free speech). Steadfast implies a steady and unwavering course in love, allegiance, or conviction (steadfast in their support). Resolute implies firm determination to adhere to a cause or purpose (a resolute ally).

Our pastor began the New Year with a sermon series entitled "UNWAVERING" and he made this statement: "Unwavering is a future decision." We have to determine in our hearts ahead of time to be unwavering and faithful. There will be stumbles and setbacks. But being faithful is about our heart, our allegiance, our loyalty; being steadfast and committed even in the face of a failure. The perfect example is marriage. One can be a very imperfect, flawed spouse and still be resolute and unwavering in love, allegiance, loyalty and faithfulness.

Today's talk radio, as well as my pastor's statement ("Unwavering is a future decision."), made me think about a Tim Keller sermon I have listened to many times on Covenant Relationships. In this sermon, Keller talks about marriage vows. He addresses the position so many people take these days about staying in a marriage only as long as the feelings of love remain. And he says (paraphased): But there is nothing about one's feelings in the marriage vows. If you pay attention to them, you will quickly realize that marriage vows are future promises of commitment, devotion and acts of love...in sickness, in poverty, in adversity as well as in the good times.

I don't want to waver in my faithfulness to God because of things I don't understand, circumstances or people that disappoint me . . . or even because I disappoint myself.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Still up...

I'm the only one in the house still awake. The boys were tucked in by 7:30. And John went to bed about an hour ago. The only reason I'm still in the family room is that I am sleeping upstairs with the boys. So I can't crawl into bed and turn the TV on till I get sleepy. I'm really pretty tired, but not quite ready to crawl into a bed with a four-year-old just yet.

The boys seldom get through the night without having a dream, coughing, talking or crying out in their sleep, making noises. The first night, Joshua developed a fear of ceiling fans in the middle of the night. John is a light sleeper and sounds that I might not even hear would keep him awake all night. So I have been sleeping in one of the guest rooms with the boys since Sunday.

Andrew is on a pallet on the floor because I would be afraid he'd fall out of a bed with no rail on the side. Joshua started out on a pallet on the other side of the bed, but after he got scared the first night I decided to put him in the double bed with me. He slept better, but Grandma Shari didn't. I woke up sore both from being kicked and from sleeping in an awkward position (trying to avoid getting in his way). I had all kinds of kinks this morning, but I forgot them as soon as Joshua started patting my face, hugging me and saying, "I just love you, Grandma Shari." Andrew, who had a meltdown the night before, told me the minute he woke up this morning, "I'm going to be nice today." And when John got home from work, Andrew cuddled up to him on the couch and said, "Poppy John, I'm happy today."

I have thoroughly enjoyed my grandsons being here this week, but I have to admit how much I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again and being back in the same room with John. I am looking forward to working out when I feel like it and taking a shower (or a long, hot bath) any time I want to.

One of the most amusing parts of this visit has been watching Joshua and Andrew drinking Ensure every day. I started buying it for John during chemo because he was losing weight and didn't have much of an appetite. For a while I was buying the Ensure Plus. But since he's gotten his appetite back, I have been buying the regular Ensure and he drinks one for breakfast every morning. The boys saw the bottles in the fridge when they first got here and asked if they could have some chocolate milk. I said, "Sure." I didn't know if they would change their minds after they tasted it, but they love the stuff and have continued to ask for "chocolate milk" every day. They have been well nourished in spite of the fact that I have not made an issue of well-balanced meals.

Well, it's after 11:00. I guess I can't put off going to bed any longer.

Lots of Laughter (and a few tears)



For more videos:
ShariLynn59's Channel

Monday, March 15, 2010

A few pictures of some cute kids...

Our grandsons, Joshua (4) and Andrew (3).


We have been playing hide and seek with Poppy John. Now we are watching America's Funniest Home Videos. I took a couple of AFV's myself, but have to upload them to YouTube before I can post them on my blog. By the way, Andrew is Peter Pan (not Robinhood).

Friday, March 12, 2010

Greeting Cards

John's birthday was yesterday. So earlier in the week I was looking at greeting cards. John is easy to buy a card for. The only hard part about buying a card for him is limiting myself to one or two. There are so many cards I could choose for him. Some are more perfect than others, of course, but every expression of love, admiration and gratitude seems to describe at least a facet of my love, admiration and gratitude for John. So it's a joy to look at cards for him on any occasion.

But there are also relationships in most of our lives that are challenging, troubled and painful. Although you genuinely love the person and want to acknowledge them with a card, it can be difficult to find the one in which the sentiment expressed matches what you truly feel. I cannot give a card insincerely. And yet I don't want to choose a card that is so generic that it could be given to an acquaintance if I am giving it to someone I have had a lifelong relationship with.

So, on this particular day, I read cards in a Hallmark store for probably an hour and came up with nothing. (I later found one at Walmart that was suitable.) A salesperson checked on me several times to see if I needed help. And I told her, "Someone could make a fortune if they would create a line of cards for less than ideal relationships. When you can't necessarily praise someone for always being on your side or always listening, being there for you, making you feel loved and accepted unconditionally...but you really do love them and they matter to you regardless of the wounds and disappointments." I told her that all of the cards in this particular category were so flowery and over the top with specific forms of appreciation that I could not honestly give a single one of them. So she started to look and, after several minutes, she said..."You're right. I see the difficulty."

She then pointed me to ninety-nine cent cards that were quite impersonal and generic. Somehow, those just weren't right either. The last thing you want to do in a less than ideal relationship is be further misunderstood. I'm not buying a card because I have to or because it's expected or even to be a good person. I'm buying a card simply because I want to say "I love you."

If I created my own card, I think I would probably say something like this:

I'm not perfect. You're not perfect. And our relationship certainly reflects our mutual imperfection. We've not been everything we could have been for the other. I realize that I have also disappointed you by being who I am. In every way that I have not met your expectations, I am truly sorry. Because I have always loved you so much. More than you will probably ever know. And I have always wanted so much more for us. But I take responsibility for my contribution to our brokenness. Even though there may always be unresolved feelings and words left unspoken, I love you with all my heart and I do believe you love me. I no longer have any expectations of you. I'm not hoping to make anything ideal anymore. I have let go of all of those dreams. I want only one thing; for you to know that I deeply love you and always have.

You know, maybe I should start that line of cards myself.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Borrowed Quote

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away." D. Craik

I just read the above in a status update posted by Scotty Smith on Facebook...and loved it.

For much of my life, I have only enjoyed that kind of comfort in a very few relationships. I have frequently felt misunderstood and misjudged by people close to me. And I've lived the majority of my life believing I owed nearly everyone an explanation for everything I said or did. (Part of this was my inborn personality and the other part came from the conditioning of my environment.) However, my life has changed so dramatically in recent years.

Today my life is overflowing with the comfort described in the above quote. I feel more secure, loved, accepted AND less misunderstood than I have ever felt at any time in my life. I no longer feel that I have to constantly prove myself to people, perform, or fit into someone else's "mold" to be acceptable and worthy of love. I seem to be surrounded by people who just love me and like me for who I am. Nobody seems to want me to change anymore. Even my husband, John, has never wanted to change a single thing about me in nearly seven years. And after so many years of never feeling "good enough," I still find this utterly remarkable.

I will never forget an occasion early in our marriage when I began explaining myself to John (because this is just what I always felt was required of me), thinking he might misunderstand my heart (the details I cannot even remember). At some point in my discourse, he gently interrupted and told me in the kindest tone of voice, "Sweetheart, you don't have to explain yourself to me. It's unnecessary. I know your heart." It seemed too good to be true. I had always just wanted someone to give me the benefit of the doubt. And now I had more than that. It seemed unbelievable to me that a man who had known me less than one year could know my heart the way John did. But he did. And he does. I never dreamed that I, this deeply insecure person, could ever feel so safe, so secure, or so loved. It's the kind of love that not only provides comfort, but healing.

A friend of mine, whom I've known since 2004, told me recently how much personal growth she can see in me since she first met me. She said, "When I first met you, you apologized more than anyone I'd ever met. You don't do that anymore. You've finally relaxed in your own skin."

She is right. I don't feel like I am a difficult person to love anymore. And a great part of this I attribute to the "comfort" of the many loving, uncomplicated relationships God has blessed me with in my "new" life; John being the most unexpected blessing of all.

However, it's much more. It goes even deeper than my marriage and my friends. It's knowing the Gospel. It's knowing that I am loved and accepted in Christ. I now comprehend that my value is found in the price God was willing to pay for my ransom. While I was dead in my sins, He loved and valued me. Despite my rebellion, He loved me so much that He did not withhold His own Son, but sent Him to die in my place.

Romans 8:32 (New American Standard Bible)

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person..."

The magnitude of the love I now feel from God is an inexpressible comfort.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conversation with Joshua

Joshua: I like your ring, Grandma Shari.

Me: Thank you. Poppy John gave that ring to me when he asked me to marry him.

Joshua: Yeah. My daddy gave my mommy a ring when he asked her to marry him.

Me: Yes. And aren't you glad your mommy and daddy got married because then YOU were born!

Joshua: Well, first my mommy got a baby in her tummy and then they got married.

Me: No. They got married first.

Joshua: No. My mommy got a baby in her tummy FIRST.

At this point, Grandma Shari was laughing really hard.

(The wedding was in 2002 and Joshua arrived in 2005.)

You never know where a conversation is headed with this kid.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bedtime Reading






Andrew got REAL affectionate toward the end of story reading. Joshua snapped these pictures.

Camp Howerton Pics

This hug happened spontaneously and I was able to get Andrew to hold it long enough to grab the camera.




We've shopped at Toys R Us, eaten dinner and played. It's about time to read books and tuck the campers into their beds.

So far, Joshua has told me:
"You're a good Grandma Shari."
"I will love you forever, Grandma Shari."
"I will love you even when you're sad."
"You're so nice to me Grandma Shari."
and...
"I love my Daddy. He is very special to me."

Andrew has told me:
"Poppy John's gonna come home soon and chase us!"
and...
"I WON'T eat my dinner!"
(However, when Andrew saw Joshua eating a cupcake he promptly began to eat so he could have one too.)

We are having a ball. These kids are growing up so fast. It's weird not to be changing diapers.

Ready for spring!

I can't believe it's snowing again! I think this is probably the most I have ever wanted to see spring. I can't wait to go for after dinner walks in the neighborhood with John, plant flowers on my back patio, wear sandals again, and have lunch outside on the new Parthenon Grille patio with friends! I don't want to see any more snow!

I was so good yesterday and lost one of those two pounds I picked up over the weekend. I think I'm actually going to feel like shopping soon. I have gift cards from Christmas that I still haven't used because I've just had no desire to shop. But I think losing a couple of pounds in combination with my anticipation of spring may change that soon.

I plan to really enjoy this spring and summer. We are done with treatment for a while. John should be feeling better and better the further he gets from the effects of chemotherapy. Hopefully the partial remission will be lasting and we can just enjoy an intermission from CLL worries.

John is doing well and the grandkids are better from their colds/allergies. So we are having a Camp Howerton night tonight with Joshua and Andrew for the first time in many months. I'm really looking forward to having them for an overnight visit. And Rebecca tells me they are very excited about coming to our house. I find myself wondering a lot lately what our little Pax will be like. (Pax is the new grandson whose arrival we are looking forward to in late April or early May.) Joshua and Andrew are so different in personality. I can't wait to discover the similarities and differences in Pax. Before we knew he was another little boy, I had hoped we'd get a girl this time. But I realize that I could not be more excited about a third little boy the more I think about seeing him and holding him soon!

I received a new shipment of books yesterday. I've been asked to speak to a class at MTSU about my story. And I will be doing another Local Author Event at the Cool Springs Barnes & Noble later this month. It is so nice to be at the point where I don't really think about the book much now, other than enjoying all the positive feedback I continue to receive and doing an occasional casual promotion.

Life is good.

Now, if it would just stop snowing! An early spring would be great, wouldn't it?

Monday, March 1, 2010

And so it goes...

What did I tell you? Although I was down three pounds Friday morning, I am up two by Monday morning. Oh well, the struggle continues. For those of you who have seen me eat and think I don't have to work at keeping my weight down, think again.

I had the most wonderful meal at Parthenon Grille Saturday night. We shared a smoked salmon appetizer with soft pita bread triangles, mascarpone cheese and a little side of dill sauce (for me). I had a salad with balsamic vinaigrette, bread dipped in herbed olive oil, and a garlic and olive oil linguine with shrimp and scallops. I normally have the Parthenon Dip appetizer (rich cream sauce loaded with mushrooms, onions, artichokes, spinach and feta cheese) along with fried pita triangles. So I thought I had done a little better than usual. But I found a way to make up the difference in calories I had saved.

Along with the new building and the new dinner menu, Parthenon has a new menu of specialty drinks. I am not much of a drinker. I like Riesling wines, frozen margaritas and an occasional sweet specialty drink. But other than wine with dinner on Saturday nights, I don't regularly consume alcohol. It's more like a splurge. However, when I read a description of something that really sounds good, I know I will eventually have to try it. And the Chocolate Strawberry Martini had caught my eye (as a dessert). As we were finishing dinner, I told our friend and server, Kevin, that one of these days I would have to try one. And John said, "Go ahead and have one and I will finish your glass of wine." So what do you think I said? "Okay!"

As a result, I did not sleep well and I carried that full feeling all the way into mid-afternoon yesterday. I can't imagine how people drink to excess. I felt lousy most of the day because of that one additional drink. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't worth it. The good thing is, now that I've tried it, I probably won't be tempted to have it again. I just have this weakness for tasting things. Ask anyone who has eaten a meal with me. If you offer me a bite from your plate, you'd better be serious because I won't turn you down if it looks good.

I worked out for an hour yesterday and never did feel hungry until late afternoon. But for dinner we had a pork tenderloin roast that cooked all day in the crock pot, along with garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and steamed asparagus. I didn't overeat and I didn't have any calories in my beverage. But it still wasn't a low calorie meal. So here I am two pounds heavier than I was Friday and it's time to start being as good as I can for at least the next five days. (But everything was worth the pounds except the chocolate martini.)

For the first 43 years of my life, alcohol was strictly forbidden. I didn't even drink wine until I broke free from those roots. So when I first tasted the freedom of making my own choices, I would order a drink just because I could. It was kind of like being 21 for most people. And then the novelty of that wore off. Though I no longer believe that it's wrong to have an alcoholic beverage, I'm so thankful that my biggest temptation is still good food. And it is the "tasting" of certain fun drinks that appeals to me rather than feeling the "effects" of alcohol. I can see where alcohol would be a huge problem for someone who craved both.