Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful for Healing that Comes through Expression

My original goal was a gratitude post every day in November. I'm glad I stated right up front that I might not write every day and I wasn't going to give in to perfectionism. Because I lived up to that goal.

I've skipped multiple days ... and it hasn't bothered me a bit.  

I have been grateful. I just haven't felt like writing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thankful to be a Wildcats Fan!

Twelve years ago I became a UK fan by marriage.

John's dad went to Kentucky and played basketball one year for Adolph Rupp. Kentucky basketball is a Howerton passion. John grew up rooting for the Cats. So when we got married, I started wearing the t-shirts. But I wasn't a real fan.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful to be Growing Older

I did not take a day off from gratitude, but I decided to take the day off from blogging yesterday. The reason I took the day off was my hands. They hurt.

I finally managed to avoid gluten for a whole day (after being off the wagon for weeks). And I'm amazed how much better my hands feel today -- even first thing this morning. Gluten increases inflammation in the body and I'm convinced I feel better when I don't eat it, but menus are my Kryptonite! I feel a surge of powerlessness whenever one is put in front of me!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thankful for Love in the Midst of Hate & Light in the Midst of Darkness

I have had a goal for this month -- to write a gratitude post every day.

Finding thirty reasons to be thankful isn't a challenge. I am grateful for big and little things every day. The challenge is writing thoughtful posts that hopefully inspire gratitude in others.

I started writing yesterday what I thought would be this morning's gratitude post. And then the images from Paris hit the news and social media. Horrific, barbaric atrocities committed by human beings who are so filled with hatred that they hunt and kill innocent civilians; complete strangers who are simply living their lives and hurting no one. Many (if not most) of the victims in Paris last night were young people enjoying a concert.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Thankful for CLL Christian Friends

February 2007
Just prior to diagnosis
July 3, 2007: I introduced myself to the online support community of CLL Christian Friends.

John had gotten his first abnormal CBC results in a routine check up with his doctor in April. He had gone for the check because he was feeling tired a lot and had noticed one enlarged lymph node in his neck (that he never pointed out to me and I hadn't noticed). His white count was around 30K. He was given antibiotics and the CBC was repeated six weeks later -- in June. Same results.

Our PCP had tried several times unsuccessfully to reach John and had not gotten a returned call. Our PCP is also a good friend. John's mind was on business, not his results. Finally, Mike called me. He told me he suspected CLL and John needed to see an oncologist for a confirmed diagnosis but he couldn't get John to call him back. I had been clueless up to that point.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Husbands Who Love Their Wives

I love being in the presence of happily married couples who treat each other with love and respect. And -- take this the way I mean it -- I have a special love and admiration for husbands who truly love and cherish their wives.

Because of my own past, I am more "tuned in" to the vibes I feel from husbands toward their wives. I notice condescending words and behavior even when they are subtle. I also notice the flip side. I can just feel it when a husband not only loves his wife, but admires and treasures her. It shows not only in his words, but in his tone and touch.

Being with a couple where this kind of love is alive (especially after many years) is magical for me. It just makes me happy.

I remember many years ago, as a young woman still in an abusive relationship, feeling such deep admiration for a husband who stood out to me as a man who deeply loved and cherished his wife. The way he looked at her and talked about her exuded his appreciation for her. This couple was a generation ahead of me in age. I didn't envy his wife. I just remember feeling joy for her and trying to imagine what it would feel like to have that kind of marriage and husband. (Never daring to imagine that one day I would!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You, Veterans

I've never served in the military. But I've tried to imagine what it would be like.

I have tried to imagine the fear and anxiety of being shot at, dodging land mines and bombs ... the inner turmoil of having to kill another human being (or be killed) ... watching friends die ... witnessing the physical and mental devastation of war as a part of my daily existence.

I feel anxiety just trying to imagine the life of a soldier on the battlefield.

I hate the thought of war. I hate the reality of war. But I know that war is sometimes necessary. There are things in life worth fighting for and fighting against.

To all those who have served, I appreciate your sacrifice.

To the wives, children, parents, brothers, sisters, and extended family of all those who have served, I appreciate your sacrifice.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pastor Allen and Pastor Troy

In 2003, I was invited to World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I remember my first visits and my first impressions. I thought it was probably a good church to attend if someone wanted to remain anonymous. It's a big place with multiple sanctuaries and multiple services every weekend. I had never attended a mega church. And it didn't feel like me. I had a strong bias against huge churches, service "planning" and even prepared sermons! (Ha. You'd have to know my past for that one.)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thankful for Community

Like most of you, I have been part of many different communities.

I have lived in three different states and nine different towns/cities. I've been part of work communities and school communities and church communities. I've volunteered. I've been in small groups, book clubs, blogging challenges, online fitness groups and CLL forums.

I have gained something from every community experience.

The first community I was ever a part of was an unhealthy church.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thankful for My Brothers

My brothers (Chris and Todd) with me,
June 2013
I am the oldest of three siblings and the only girl. I have a brother who was born when I was two years old and a "baby" brother who was born when I was eleven.

My earliest childhood memories include playing with Todd. I'm sure we had squabbles, but I don't remember that. I have one vivid memory of fighting with him over a TV show as young teens. And there's another "memory" that I can picture in my mind's eye. But I think the reason I "remember" it is that I've heard the story told by our parents so many times.
It goes like this:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thankful for Struggles

Have you ever just thought about your comfortable breathing and how incredible it is that your next breath simply comes, effortlessly, without any intentional focus on breathing?

Anyone who has struggled with asthma or a lung disease has known the struggle for air. Even a short bout with inflamed sinuses and congestion will make you thankful for normal breathing. But why is it we have to be reminded (usually by some sort of struggle) to feel gratitude for easy, unrestricted breaths we take every moment of every day?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thankful for Moments (and meals) to Savor

Sometimes it's the ordinary or the little things that should inspire gratitude, but we're rushing through life without stopping to notice.

Even when it comes to eating.

Okay, not me when it comes to eating.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thankful for God's Faithfulness

When I look back over my life and see God's faithfulness to me, I am in awe. At some point in almost every day, I think about where I am and where I could be. And it's all because of God's mercy and grace. It wasn't so long ago that I had no imagination of the plans God had for me; especially the life I would be blessed to live these last twelve years.

It's not that I wasn't blessed prior to the last twelve years, but there was a lot of pain and struggle. I lost my mom to cancer way too young. I was in an abusive marriage for 27 years. And I spent the first 43 years of my life in an oppressive religious cult that kept me from knowing fully the love and grace of God. When you are taught to believe God only gives eternal life to those who earn it by achieving literal perfection (and you can't point to a single person who seems to have achieved that), it's hard to have hope or joy in your heart. I always knew I would never be perfect. But the pain and struggle of all those years makes the joy I have today even sweeter and my appreciation that much deeper.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thankful I can tell my story and it doesn't make me cry

I saw this meme on Facebook and it resonated with me.

I remember how the tears flowed while I was in the process of writing both my books. Tears of loss, pain, anxiety, fear, shame.

With the first book, my tears were more about the fear and anxiety of anticipating people's reactions, rejection, hateful words steeped in resentment and hostility. I knew people I loved would view me as a betrayer and an adversary for writing, from my heart, what I believed would bring light, hope and healing to others like me.

With the second book, my tears were a little different. I was reliving experiences of intensely personal contempt, condescension, ridicule and cruelty. I cried for the younger woman in the story who was not me anymore, but who I definitely remembered being. I grieved especially for the loss of myself as a person at such a young age, when I should have been discovering who God intended me to be.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thankful for New Experiences: All Saints Day

This Sunday I went to church with my son and his family. My son pastors an Anglican congregation - St. Mary of Bethany's Parish in Nashville, Tennessee.

I'm not Anglican and (as my son knows) not really inclined toward liturgical worship style. But I enjoy visiting and worshiping at St. Mary's. I love to hear my son preach. And the congregation is full of warm and welcoming people.

This past weekend, I was in town and told my son I was planning to come to church. He explained that this Sunday would be a little different type of service because it was All Saints Day, a day in the church calendar to look back and remember the lives of those who have impacted our own for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thankful for: Survivors Who Invest Their Suffering

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the ABC Rutherford Fashion Show to benefit breast cancer survivors. The event was held at New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN.

I just happened to be in Nashville and went to the fashion show to support my sweet friend and breast cancer survivor Jessica Barrett Halcom. (She is also the author of the blog Mrs. Jones Could Use a Beer.) 

All the fashion models walking the stage that night were breast cancer survivors. There were also speakers who shared their very personal stories of battling and beating breast cancer.

I loved the way one speaker described her involvement with ABC Rutherford as the opportunity she was looking for to invest her suffering.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


When I started thinking about writing a grateful post on my blog daily in November, I considered a number of themes; like writing about thirty people I'm thankful for, thirty lessons I'm thankful I've learned, thirty moments or events I'm thankful for from the past year. But ultimately, I decided to write the way I cook...
A little of this... A little of that...
Beginning with the practice of gratitude itself...