What’s going on?

It’s been too long since I was last here. How are you all doing? Me? Well, I’ve been better. This has been one crazy year and, honestly, I’m glad it’s almost over. Don’t get me wrong – some really cool stuff has happened. Like, my daughter graduated from college!! I got to keep a pug named Thurgood for a few months! Oh…the pug…be still my heart! I moved to a smaller place and seriously cleaned out my junk. I performed at the Comedy Club as part of an Open Mic competition. (I didn’t win but I had fun!) There’s been lots of other things – those are just some of the highlights!

This year has also brought some health problems – or with time, they have been brought to light. What’s wrong, you ask. I don’t know. I’m in the process of being tested for all sorts of things. I have achy joints; I’m exhausted; I cannot concentrate; I hurt – I mean, everything just hurts; I’m sick to my tummy. I have been to so many doctors in the past few months.

What I do know is that I have an antibody deficiency which makes it hard for me to fight off sinus infections. Treatment for that is currently daily antibiotics.

I’m extremely anemic, which is one of the main reasons I’m having all the aforementioned  symptoms. But why am I anemic? Good question. It could be that I have celiac’s disease which keeps the body from absorbing iron. So, no matter how much iron I take – it’s not going to matter if my diet doesn’t change to not include gluten. I’m having some biopsies done next week so I’m loading up on the gluten. Oh good gracious – that’s not helping at all.

I’ve also tested positive for Sjogren’s syndrome but I don’t have all the symptoms associated with Sjogren’s.  I could have Lupus too. I don’t know about any of these things. What I know is that I’m some kind of miserable. I have good moments and bad moments. Most of the time I just want to stay in bed and be still. Being still doesn’t usually hurt. My head weighs 20 lbs. It’s hart to keep it up. My eyes burn. My tummy hurts. My legs ache. My knee hurts. Sometimes I cannot even use my hands they hurt so bad. And I’m so tired. I just wanted to sleep. I wake up, make some coffee and fall back asleep.

I’m thankful that my boyfriend has continued to put up with me. I know it’s not easy. I’m not my usually delightful self when I don’t feel well. I’m sure my coworkers are ready for me to feel better too. I promise you that I’m really ready to feel better.

Least favorite questions…How are you feeling? [I feel horrible.] What’s wrong with you? [I don’t know!] Can’t you just …? [No, I can’t.] Have you tried….? [I’ve tried whatever the doctors have told me to try.] Do you want to….? [Go somewhere? Do something? Have fun? YES!! Do I have the ability? Nope.]

What can you do? I don’t know — Come hang out with me – bring a diet coke and a movie! Don’t be hurt if I back out of plans at the last minute. Understand that I don’t like to feel like a burden and the last thing I want to do is talk about me; however, I need to talk to someone. You don’t have to fix me. I have plenty of doctors looking into that. Don’t ask me how I’m doing because I’m going to say “fine” whether I’m fine or not.

So…how are you?


14 Things Only People with a Serious Coffee Addiction Will Understand

Coffee Addicts will love this article. I think this slide (#13) is my favorite.

Common Morning Questions

I don’t know about you – but I always find time for coffee!10931383_966660726686251_105256550517647540_n

Thank you to Grammarly for the great picture!

What Do You See?

Today is #tbt or Throw Back Thursday (not unlike #fbf Flashback Friday) and people are posting all sorts of pictures from years gone by. One of my friends posted a family picture taken probably close to 20 years ago (maybe longer) and she made the comment:

You can look at this picture and think “perfect family”. Mom, dad, boy, girl. They go to church every time the doors are open, family oriented, she’s a Sunday school teacher, good jobs, nice house and autos, etc. But life isn’t always as it appears.

She is so right! This got me thinking about other pictures that are posted – especially pictures I post.

Most of my life I have fought in the battle of the bulge. Sometimes I have really really fought it hard and other times I just sorta acknowledge it and move forward. It’s no one’s fault but my own that I fight this battle, although I would love to just blame it on my parents.

I have a couple of pictures I have posted of when I was much younger and much thinner. I get all the compliments you can imagine – how pretty I was, how thin I was, how big my hair was, etc.  They are all true but when I look of the younger thinner me, that’s not what I see at all.

I see a young girl who made some very poor choices and, in order to deal with the consequences of those choices, become anorexic. Anorexia didn’t last long because, well, I like to eat. I then discovered bulimia. Binge and purge and never gain a pound! AWESOME! (This continued until I was discovered and it took years to overcome the damage I did to my body.)

I see a young girl who couldn’t figure out where she belonged in this world, and, as an adult, still has this struggle.

I see a young girl who didn’t know what it was like to have a strong active male role model in my life. (Again, sometimes this is still a struggle.)

I certainly wasn’t sure how a man was supposed to treat a woman, which explains some of my poor choices. (I had a great example with my maternal grandparents but I was a child and I didn’t really pay attention. They always seemed happily married and he appeared to adore my grandmother. However, in my pursuit, I haven’t found a man to treat me that way.)

Really what I see is a young girl who was lost – so very lost. One who didn’t know her worth or understand she was (and is) a treasure. She looks pretty (for the time period) but, oh boy, the price she paid.

One day, I hope I can look back on those pictures and not be taken back to those times. Because, while I still have sadness, uncertainty and doubt in my life, I am no longer lost. I don’t know or have all the answers and I still make poor choices but I have been given the maturity and wisdom to overcome them.

All of this is to say – you can’t judge a book by its cover. Just because it looks like it is all about rainbows and unicorns, there could be some scary clowns lurking in between the pages. Be kind to others – you never know what battle he/she is facing.

I am the Sitter

I have guest blogged and would love to share. Guest blog

Serve you?

Many years ago I lived in Atlanta and would frequent a little meat and three place for lunch. The first person we’d see would always say, “Serve you?”. Not just any serve you – but the genuine, I’m from the South, type of serrrrrrve you? I don’t know why that has always stuck with me or what it really has to do with anything but it seems relevant to this topic — so I’m sharing.

We all serve something in some capacity. We make a choice as to where we will serve — whether we are aware of that choice or not. When we make the conscious decision to serve – we want to shout it from the mountaintops and share it with everyone we know.

Personally, I serve a mighty God and have asked to be His hands and feet. I fail to do so more times than I’d like and my own self gets in the way — so thankful His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) (I promise I am getting to the point of this post – it’s just taking me a little while. Thank you for staying with me.)

One of the places where I am used is at The WellHouse. The WellHouse is a faith-based and Christ-centered nonprofit organization offering immediate shelter and transitional housing to women who have been trafficked, are prostituting, or otherwise sexually exploited. I feel very fortunate to be able to serve as the official Sitter (long story — but I asked Tajuan “Serve you?” and this is the title she gave). I also feel fortunate to be able to share how others are serving.

Picture by Rachel Callahan PictureBirmingham.com

My friend Rachel recently asked of The WellHouse — how can I “serve you”? (We made it!) She shares her why on her blog, which you can read by clicking this link.

You can look through these beautiful pictures and purchase one by visiting her site, Picture Birmingham.  When you make a purchase, you are answering the question of “Serve You”? All profits help The WellHouse and help another person be free of the chains that bind her. It’s a beautiful way to serve and be served.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to look through Rachel’s pictures and then do yourself a favor and read her blog. You’ll be glad you did.

Rachel – thank you for all you do to help The WellHouse and for answering the call of “Serve you”.

Hindsight: A Letter to me at 14

I re-read through this in 2014 and updated it. This was originally written around 2008, I think.
The challenge was on Oprah a few years back. I took that challenge and decided to post it here. So, are you up for giving your younger self advice? What advice would you give to your “younger” self in a letter?

Dear Cathy:

Thank you, QuarterLifeLauren for the picture

I know you don’t like to listen to grown ups and what they have to offer, but I can only hope as I am you as a grown up, that you will listen to me. You’re 14 right now and you have your whole world ahead of you. I know what life is going to be like when you’re 38, and honey there are just some things you need to not do!

Keep God first. You’re active in youth at Church right now. Don’t lose it. You keep God first right now, and most of the things we’re going to go through later on wouldn’t have happened.
QUIT SMOKING. Ugh, you don’t really smoke much right now and it won’t be so hard. In a few more years, you’ll be glad you did. Believe me when I tell you that it’s really hard to quit when you’ve been doing it for so long. (I finally quit around June 8, 2007 and it’s been rough!)
Keep on saying no to drugs. You know it’s the one thing I said actually said no to and I’m so glad I did. We’ll drink some and sometimes to extremes, but drinking is never a problem for us.
When you start losing weight this year, work on keeping it off. Keep on exercising and make it part of your everyday life.
That guy at Aladdin’s Castle that you think is wonderful. He’s going to be your first husband. What you realize in 2013 was that if you had just opened up and really talked about how you felt, you might still be together. Girl, learn to communicate!!!!!!  (This is going to be an issue–communication–in everything!)
In your junior year of high school, there will be a Christmas party for the Color Guard at the teacher’s house. GO TO THE PARTY. Do not, and I stress, DO NOT go with Mireille to see that guy. That guy is a jerk. Because of the events of that night, you will battle with many demons for many years. Eventually, you will ask God to forgive you, and He will, but it’s a long and hard battle that you aren’t going to share with many folks. You’ll regret the events of that night forever. (Luckily, later on, you’ll forgive yourself and God gave you a huge cup of Grace for that night too and forgave you.)
You’re going to become guys’ best friend. They will come to you to talk about their girlfriends. Just deal with it. It’s not that you aren’t good enough for any of them. It’s that you’re a good listener and you seem to know what to say. This won’t really change through the years. Many times, you’ll have more male friends than female friends.
When you and Tim divorce, you’re going to meet a guy named David. Now, listen very carefully, the two of you will get married. It’s not a bad marriage, although y’all don’t communicate well. But, you will get divorced. The divorce will be painful. You will do everything you can to make it work but it’s just not going to happen. But, here is why you have to marry this guy. You have two beautiful daughters who are your heart and soul. Oh, I just can’t tell you how wonderful these girls are. They are so talented in many ways and they just bring joy to you. Oh yeah, sometimes you’re going to feel like you’re at your wits’ end, but then one of them will do something so incredibly sweet, and it will melt you all over.
During this marriage, you will discover the Internet and chat rooms. Listen to me right now…any man you meet who knows you’re married and still tries to sweet talk you isn’t worth the time it takes to type hello. (If you keep God in that number 1 position, this will be moot.) If you would talk to your husband about these needs you have, you wouldn’t have talked to this guy in the first place. That makes us examine the next point.
Learn to communicate your needs and emotions. Be able to tell people no and not feel like they are taking advantage of you, because you know what? THEY ARE! But, dear sweet young Cathy, you are allowing them to do so. Close that open wall up and build a beautiful door which only you can open. Oh you can be such a sucker…don’t be a sucker Cathy.
You deserve better than having an affair. You are better than that. I know at 14 you think I’m insane even bringing this up, but trust me, it will become an issue. You deserve someone who will love you no matter where you are. You deserve someone who will hold your hand, call you and not hide the conversation, who will tell folks “Can I call you back? Cathy’s on the phone.” Cathy you are a wonderful person. All the good things you think you deserve? You do deserve them.
You know that little voice that you hear but then ignore? Learn to just listen to it. I can’t tell you how many times that little voice is right. You’re going to ignore her and be sorry. And you’re going to hear her taunting you saying, “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!!” That little voice…that then taunts – UGH!
Here’s one thing I don’t know if I should tell you or not. Your brother…you aren’t going to believe this one….next year when he graduates from High School, the two of you are going to become best friends. I know it’s shocking!!! He’s still going to act like he’s going to hit you and then really do it. For some reason, that never changes. Cherish him. Figure out how to save some of those long and crazy voice mail messages he leaves, because he won’t be around to leave them when you’re older. Oh Cathy you’re going to miss him so much. Your whole world will change on March 28, 2002.
It’s going to be hard and at first you just won’t believe you’re going to make it. Just keep on taking it one day at a time. Actually at first, it’s one breath at a time. You’ll make it through. You have to because shortly after this your mom is going to get really sick. She has to have you be strong for her. You make it through that too. See, you’re amazing really at all you can do. You don’t think you are sometimes, but you are.
At some point in 2004, when you least expect it, you’re going to fall in love with this man named James. (hindsight in 2014 – RUNNNNN!!!!!!!!). That little voice? It’s right — just run.

You’re going to have a bumpy road, Cathy, but if you’ll keep this advice with you, you will be ok. All those little bumps and valleys and peaks make you who you are today. Keep seeing the beauty in everything and in everyone. Keep your wonderful sense of humor. Life is pretty funny, even when we don’t think it is. You have a way of making people smile when they didn’t think they could. You deserve all the good that happens in your life.

Above all, dear Cathy, keep God in your life. I promise if you do this, many of the things I have told you about won’t even be an issue. Even if you falter and slide away, He is going to open His arms for you to come running back into. He forgives you so much easier than you will forgive yourself. Good thing is that He is there to help you on your journeys. He has beautiful things for you.
Life is beautiful, Cathy, experience it! I love you, don’t ever ever forget that!!

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Romance: What is it?

romanceI had a conversation with a friend the other day about romance. During the conversation, I realized that I really have no idea what is romantic or really what romance is. Everything I know about romance — I learned from Hollywood. Surely, there is more to romance than spending money on someone with flowers, candles and candy or planning something large and elaborate.

I started looking up romance and found that romance seems to be subjective. This is what I found to be romantic. When someone is romantic, he is being considerate of your likes. He is showing you that he pays attention to what you are saying and doing and wants to make the effort to enhance those things. It isn’t necessarily about grand gestures, like coming home and having flower petals strewn around the bedroom, with candles burning and a bottle of champagne chilling with the strawberries next to the bed. How many times can you really have an experience like that and consider it special? It’s about the little things.

I like candles, and candy and flowers. I like having doors open for me. I like for someone to ask me about my day and then listen as I share. I like for someone to remember that I had a big event that day and ask me how it went. I like to share experiences with someone – like movies or music – so in some way, we’re connected. Is this romance? Are these romantic gestures? To me and for me, yes. I’d rather have the every day romance than the every once in a great while gesture.

I’m interested to know, though, what other people find romantic. So please, share – what is romantic? What isn’t romantic? When you think of romance, of what are you thinking? If someone says he is romantic, do you cringe?🙂

(*Sock monkeys may not be romantic – but they are cute.)

Dealing with Dating Disappointment by Sara Eckel

It’s Not You

You thought it was a great date. You bonded about growing up as the middle child, laughed about that goofy sitcom from the 90s, and exchanged fascinating insights about what you learned while traveling abroad.

“We should do this again!”

“Yes, definitely!”

And then … nothing. Your date has been crazy with work. Or going though a tough time. Or has simply written those soul-crushing words “I don’t think this is a match.”

Dating is one of the most emotionally challenging things a person can do. One minute, you’re having a blast. You even let yourself think that the long, hard search might just be over. And then all that hope and happiness comes crashing down with a single, painful text.

When that happens, you have to find a way to grieve without obsessing or punishing yourself. Practicing self-compassion can help give you the patience to honor those difficult feelings, as well as the strength to move on.

1) Don’t Ask Why

When confronting rejection, the great temptation is to ask why the other person didn’t want a second (or third or fourth) date. Was it your Beavis and Butthead imitation? The fact that you don’t like jazz? Would you be going on another date if you were ten pounds lighter?

This is the trap we fall into when someone we like decides to pass. Trying to figure out why feels productive. You convince yourself that if you could just tweak this one flaw in your dating personality, you’d do better next time. Actually, asking why is just another way to beat yourself up—a way to catalog all your potential flaws and eccentricities and build a case for why you’re just hopeless.

It’s understandable that we do this. When unexpected rejection happens, it’s so confusing that searching for the reason feels like the only satisfying course. I’m not attractive enough. I’m not smart enough. I don’t like dogs….

The truth is, most of us never find out why this or that person didn’t fall for us. The more important truth is, it doesn’t matter. You’re not perfect—never have been, never will be. But that’s okay. The point of dating isn’t to mold yourself into a lovable person—it’s to find the one who loves you exactly as you are.

2) Be Nice To Yourself

The other reason we so often feel compelled to do a personality assessment after a dating disappointment is that we think that being hard on ourselves will compel us to do better next time. Actually, the opposite is true: Research shows that people who are critical of themselves are less motivated to try again than those who are more forgiving.

So maybe you did do something dumb. Maybe you snapped at the waiter or overshared about your long-running feud with your older sister. Maybe, you realize in hindsight, that your date really wanted you to ask more questions about the epic poem they were writing.

Sure you could sit and stew and tell yourself that you’re an awful person. But all that’s going to do is make you hate yourself and make you dread the idea of another date.

A better strategy is to see those moments that make you cringe, and then forgive yourself. Dating is difficult—you’re trying to show your best self without looking like a braggart; you’re trying to open yourself to another human being’s soul while also hoping your bangs aren’t doing that weird flip. So if you made a few mistakes, that doesn’t make you a terrible person—that makes you about average.

Instead of trying to fix yourself, just take care of yourself. Do whatever makes you feel good. Climb into bed and have a movie marathon. Book a trip to a spa. Call a good friend—the one who sees your very best self—and make dinner plans. Not only will this make you feel better, it will also make you much more likely to date again.

About the Author:

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter at @saraeckel or on Facebook.

On Forgiveness

corrie-ten-boom-the-ultimate-forgiveness-story_thumbI love Corrie ten Boom. She and her family lived in Holland during World War 2 and they were imprisoned at Ravensbruck for harboring Jewish people. She and her sister, Betsie, remained together in the camp until Betsie died. Corrie came home from the death camp and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still,” and “God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies.”  At age 53, Corrie began a worldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 32 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that “Jesus is Victor.”

I’d like to share just a snippet from one of her books on forgiveness (and ultimately how we are to treat each other).

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’

“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

[Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.]

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me.

“ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“ ‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried. ‘With all my heart!’

“For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then.”

How then, can I not forgive and love others, just as I have been forgiven and loved? I care deeply and I care much – but can I forgive as freely? It’s not an emotional response but an obedient response and it’s one with which I struggle on a regular. You too?

(excerpted from “I’m Still Learning to Forgive” by Corrie ten Boom. Reprinted by permission from Guideposts Magazine. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts Associates, Inc., Carmel, New York 10512>)