Tag Archives: celebrating

A Chuckle for Thanksgiving

So, yesterday’s post expressed the serious side of me–and lots of gratitude. Thought I’d lighten it up by sharing a little humor on this Thanksgiving day.

Big Celebrations and Simple Pleasures

20140611_145401We wore our Hawaiian attire just ’cause we could. For a joke in a way. A celebration of the memories of 25 years of marriage.

We matched. We rejoiced in the fact our clothes from that trip 16 years ago fit. That life together had held many special moments.

We got a lot of stares. Of comments. A group of teens on their break stood smoking outside a restaurant and snickered.

I smiled and waved. “Hey! We have a good reason!” I bantered. “It’s our 25th wedding anniversary, and we’re wearing a memory.”

They cheered for us then.

I never knew what a conversation starter bright, out-of-date, Hawaiian attire could be.

Honestly, I was a little embarrassed by all the attention, but I’m glad we did it. It was like a shout to the world that marriage can be fun. Can last. That you can still play together after 25 years.20140611_230050

At Trader Joe’s the comments on our floral glory drew attention to our special day. They gave us flowers. We bought dark chocolate and wine, which we shared later that night.

It was a different kind of anniversary celebration for us. We weren’t able to get away for an overnight. We didn’t escape to traipse around in the mountains like we often do on special occasions.

We ran around town.

We shopped.

We ate out.

It wasn’t really very Jerry and Paula-ish. We’re not big shoppers.

But it was glorious.

I bought Jerry really good new shoes. He bought me silver jewelry. Yes, his gift was more romantic, but I swear those are the best tennis shoes my man has ever worn!

It was a joy to buy each other gifts. There were years we couldn’t.

20140611_193408After the hoopla we returned home to dress for dinner. I wasn’t quite up to making a matching spectacle at the nice Italian place we’d chosen. Besides, when I shopped for a dress to wear to Bernice’s memorial service I couldn’t believe how many dresses actually fit, and I bought a special one and saved it for this special day, hoping Jerry would like it. Would think I looked yummy in it and show it. ;o)

He did.

I’m still stunned I can find clothes I like so easily after all those years of hating everything, struggling to find something that fit, much less looked okay.

How foreign to like buying clothes again after my weight loss journey.

Weird.

And wonderful.

20140611_205508But back to our special day.

The beautiful dining experience that evening included live music and elegant food paired with a lovely wine.

Being the writer I am I people-watched in between those moments of staring deeply into my lover’s eyes. ;o)

Some people didn’t seem that happy. It was like it wasn’t special to  them to eat that good food, to stare at each other across the table, to enjoy a beautiful atmosphere and glass of good wine.

To them it was just another Friday night.

“If it ever gets to the point  that we do this all the time, and we suddenly realize it’s no longer special, let’s just stop,” I said.

Jerry agreed.

Life is too precious to blaze past beautiful moments.

I don’t ever want to take gifts for granted.

I hope I won’t.

Our normal is a meal at home, and these days there are less and less faces around that table, but every one who is there is precious and every meal we share a joy.

And oh the glory when those kids all come home and crowd around the table! Every time someone thanks me for the meal, every time we’re together like that I feel the gift of such a commonplace thing and think it extraordinary, even though it happens at some level pretty much weekly.

So maybe there’s hope that a special meal like the one on our anniversary night won’t lose the magic either, even if it becomes a new normal when the kids skitter away to build their own nests.

If it does, I hope I’ll quit going to nice restaurants.

Life is full of gifts.

Some are very simple. Like the aroma of freshly popped popcorn.

Some are extravagant, like four dresses in one day.

But all are there for the taking–a little notice, a little unwrapping, a little celebrating.

Until Next Time,

paula cropped

Instead of Hallmark–An Anniversary Card to My Man

I awoke to these words singing in my subconscious, then smiled, remembering how well Jerry has loved me, and that today we celebrate 25 years of marriage:

Now you’re my whole life1597648_10202467803671428_1674233776_o
Now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe
The way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

As this date neared I thought of the times my dear husband had told me, wonder in his eyes, that while he thought he loved me the day we married, the love just keeps growing, and he doesn’t know how he can love me more, but it just keeps happening. And I remembered, the song “Then” recorded (and co-written) by Brad Paisley.

On Sunday we had some quiet moments while the kids were gone, and I played the ballad for him, suggesting we call it our anniversary song. He readily agreed. He was even a bit misty-eyed.

After cuddling while we listened to the song, we danced (very badly) to it right there in our living room.

Later, when I was alone, I took the original lyrics and played with them a bit:

I remember trying to wait while
You found your courage
You had me mesmerized
And on Fourth of July
In firecracker light
You finally decided to kiss goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet
I thought I loved you then

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1988

Now you’re my whole life
And you color it with joy
I just can’t believe
The way I feel about you boy
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

I remember Lake Tahoe Shore
Where you pledged to me your heart
Love in your blue eyes
Your voice the only sound
Showing me your care
And I said yes right then and there
And once again
I thought I loved you then

1989 wedding

1989 – I DO!

Now you’re my whole life
And you color it with joy
I just can’t believe
The way I feel about you boy
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

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I can just see you
Wrestling toddler’s in play
I can just see you
On our daughter’s wedding day
What I can’t see
Is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before

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2013 – Sarah and Dad

Now you’re my whole life
And you color it with joy
I just can’t believe
The way I feel about you boy
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

2013 Sarah's wedding

And I thought I loved you then

People say 25 years of committed marriage is an accomplishment, but to me it is simply a gift. I’m not saying we didn’t put effort into this because we did. I’m not saying there weren’t hard times because there were. But always there has been love. Never once have I doubted I was your beloved. Never once have I questioned my decision to choose you.

paula and little ones

1998 – Mom with the little ones, ages 1 – 7

Those early years I worried I couldn’t love you enough. You were so giving, had such a servant heart. I must have prayed Proverbs 31 most every night for the first five years of our marriage, asking God to show me how to  bring you “good and not evil all the days” of your life. When you loved unconditionally, serving me with all you were, I worried I was selfish, and begged God to help me love you as well as you loved me. To cleanse me of selfishness.

After four little ones in six years, giving and giving beyond what I thought I could give, I quit praying that prayer!

When I was overwhelmed by the demands of nursing babies, toddlers whose diapers rattled as they ran up and down the hall, and preschoolers begging for just one more story, you’d smile at me over the tops of their downy heads, and I’d know I would make it.

Sometimes 2 or more children would pile in bed between us. We’d wrap our long legs around their sides and touch toes beneath them. Remember each other.

Those early years were a lot about me. You taught me to stand tall in who I was, not worrying about people-pleasing and performing and being perfect. You showed unconditional love. All you needed me to be was me. And slowly my tension disappeared, and I grew to be at peace with myself. I learned to protect my heart so it could become the well-spring of life it was designed to be.

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2007 – Dad baptizes Sam

You weren’t the Bible-thumper with all the answers who checked off boxes with prescribed religious behavior. You lived your faith in love. You modeled gratitude to God and to me. (Every time one of the boys thanks me for dinner I am reminded that you taught them to notice and appreciate.)

No wonder our boys follow your example of loyalty and faith. No wonder our girl searched for a man with a heart like yours. Faithful. True. Both to God and his woman.

You were there for us.

Your quiet, steady leadership set the tone.

And as the kids grew you didn’t dictate religion or anything else. You asked them questions. Taught them to think for themselves. Expected them to forge their own journey with God rather than forcing them to look like you. You taught them to be real and dedicated.

And all of us grew.

There came a time it was my turn to be strong for you. Life hit hard: crashing, crushing hard. Your very life hung in the balance. After your heart surgery I crawled in right next to you in that hospital bed, laid my head upon your chest, and listened. Listened for a steady thumping. Knew I would never again take the sound of your beating heart for granted.

I prayed hard as you fought to come back to life in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Sometimes you would get a far away look in your eyes, and I would know your brush with death had changed you forever.

Changed us forever.

We shared fun moments. Coach pitch baseball where Sarah drew pictures in the dirt and Seth circled home plate, determined never to be tagged. Climbing mountains, Stephen in the carrier on your back, Sam in mine. The “big” kids running ahead. The children kept growing. Forts in the back yard changed to baseball diamonds which grew into obstacle courses. You drove Seth to those 6 a.m. hockey practices, letting me sleep. We both cheered when he experienced success–MVP, top teams choosing him. We yelled for Sarah at gymnastic meets and tried not to be too proud when she won awards there and in speech and debate. We grinned like crazy when Sam and Stephen were All-star team players in baseball. Whatever the kids accomplished we celebrated.

And even in this you would whisper to me to grow and expand and write and become fully me, not just fully mom.

When the kids (or you or me) didn’t come out on top we bought ice-cream, listened to each other’s pain. Sometimes cried for them. For us.

It’s what families do.

Our baby girl grew up, and we danced at her sweet sixteen party.

2007 Sarah's 16

2007 – Sarah Turns 16

Then life became a whirlwind of letting go as all four reached milestones, stretching their wings and leaving the caterpillar behind.

Dating and graduations and even a wedding.

dad talks to sarah (2)

2009 – Sarah graduates

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2011 – Seth graduates

graduation - family

2014 – Stephen graduates

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2013 – Sarah and David Marry

2011 family pics

2011

And while life was so much about them, it was still about us.

You loved me.

Always.

Fat or skinny I was beautiful to you. You always said so.

You believed in me. Told me I was a writer. A speaker. A great mom.

The best wife.

And the years passed this way. You holding my hand. Taking walks with me. Kissing me in the kitchen to the moans of children who told us to “get a room.” Whisking me away when the chaos got too deep or the world too loud. Holding me in your arms and never letting me go.

If I ever finish this blog you’ll take me away again today. A few stolen moments for just two. We’ll stroll hand in hand, maybe listen to a little Brad Paisley as we drive to a restaurant, me wearing the new dress I bought just for this moment. It won’t be so much about what we do. It’ll be more about who we are together. We’ll talk about the kids, how our whole world is changing, but we’ll talk about us, too. How the more we change, the more we stay the same, only deeper. Deeper in love. Deeper in us.

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2014 – Us (and the kids) in our 25th year

Sweet, precious Jerry,

Thank you for marrying me.

All my love,

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Embracing Simple Pleasures

Are you like me? There’s nothing like a cold day to make me want to bake.

As the house empties of children, and I continue the goal of staying more fit, I find myself not indulging in a day of baking quite so often.

But even as I have backed off of this high caloric habit, I refuse to let it go completely. There is freedom in hanging onto life’s simple pleasures, choosing moderation instead of all or nothing when it comes to forming healthy habits.

And there’s nothing like the aroma of bread baking to make a house feel practically magical.

Oh the joy of a sprinkle of flour across a clean counter top and the feel of dough pliable in my hands! My absolute, very top favorite dough sensation is the feel of holly bread being shaped beneath my fingertips. (Challah bread for the more precise.)

Before winter gives way to spring I must celebrate this simple pleasure.

Challah bread 1 challah bread 2 challah bread 3 challah bread 4 challah bread 5 challah bread 6 challah bread 7 challah bread 8 challah bread 9

The only problem with this photo series is I forgot to get a picture as the bread was pulled all warm and golden brown from the oven. (“Look at that! Another example of brown that I LOVE,” she thinks as she remembers her last post on earth tones.)

I guess you’ll have to take my word for it. It looks–and tastes–heavenly.

As you continue on the weight loss journey–or the journey of life–what simple pleasures do you embrace?

Simple pleasures: Challah bread

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of II

(For part one of this story click here.)

Valentine’s Day morning Jerry and I lingered in our beautiful vintage room at the Broadmoor. I couldn’t resist a long, hot bath in the large, tiled tub, complete with lavender mint bath salts from the Broadmoor’s spa collection. We chose a lazy morning over breakfast, so by the time we left our room we were starving.

We ate in the Tavern, next to La Jardin, which is a 1900s style garden room attached to the main serving area. (Since it was Valentine’s Day we needed reservations to actually sit in this beautiful room, so we settled for being close enough to gaze inside. Not that the expensive wooden decor of the Tavern left anything to be desired.)  La Jardin, with its 16 ft long chandelier, reminded me of the garden room dining area on the RMS Titanic, which I researched carefully to include in one of my scenes in our book, Titanic, Legacy of Betrayal. Of course this gracious space is on solid ground, not on the ocean floor. And Jerry and I loved it. Oh the opulence of the early 1900s!

jerry in the tavern

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I chose a very wonderful french onion soup to start my lunch. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

french onion soup

And I savored every bite!

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Afterwards we headed to the Espresso shop for that morning coffee I’d not yet enjoyed. It was now our after lunch treat, and we each ordered something sweet. Jerry opted for a chocolate filled croissant, but I chose entirely based on beauty. And the fact that you can NEVER go wrong with raspberries and chocolate. (Just another example of why the thoughts in my post last Thursday about maintenance and keeping weight in check after a time of feasting were necessary reminders for me!)

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What we did next was not romantic at all. We set up office in the very elegant lobby and worked on FAFSA, due that day if we were to get our son on the list to be considered for college scholarships. Oh well, real life sometimes invades.

While we labored away we were given a wonderful surprise. I spotted my friend Brandy Cole-Vallance. She stood next to a gigantic fresh flower arrangement with a huge sign advertising her new book. Brandy’s gorgeous cover alone would have made me want to read the book, but when she shared her premise I was totally hooked! (Don’t miss the painted ceiling in the picture below. If I’m keeping facts straight, it was painted by the same artist who did the ceiling of Grand Central Station in New York City. When he was told his work was perfect, He purposely included an imperfection, telling on-lookers that the only perfect one was God.)

brandy

What’s especially spectacular about bumping into Brandy is she had only received her book contract the night before, in front of a ton of people at the Writing for the Soul Conference. Everything was still new and like a dream for this debut author, and I loved the somewhat glazed sheen of joy in her eyes. Authors often spend years honing their craft and networking before breaking into the business. Many never actually experience this moment; few get their contract in front of an audience. I had a taste of this in 2011 when my first fiction contract for Postmark: Christmas was given to me in front of 500 people at an ACFW conference. It’s truly a stunning experience.

Getting to hug Brandy and cheer her on was a divine appointment–a sheer gift. As state coordinator for ACFW,  I feel invested in every one of our wonderful authors. Their victories bring me great joy. Plus Brandy and I share an amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary, so we connect in two different, but precious, communities. Congratulations, Brandy!

All too soon Jerry and my lovely dream-of-a-stay came to an end. I waited inside the double doors as Jerry retrieved our car, standing just away from the blustery gusts of a very cold late afternoon. Two porters stood opening and closing the doors as each traveler came and went. Each was greeted with a genuine smile, and I found myself wondering if doing a job which required such consistent, cheerful kindness actually made a person feel happier. I finally got up the nerve to ask the smiling man during a break in the action. He said the Broadmoor was careful in its hires, getting good people who represented it well, but that being cheerful did help a person feel cheerful.

As I did the night before when I visited with our valet, I wondered at the stories this man could tell, at the people he’d met.

I think a novel series set at the Broadmoor is brewing. What do you think? Would you read it? I know I wouldn’t mind going back for more research! ;o)

I was a bit wistful as Jerry pulled into the circular drive and our dreamy experience ended. Thankfully the Creator topped it off with a gorgeous white moon to see us home.

The next morning Jerry made the boys and me our traditional Saturday morning whole wheat pancakes. Maybe the Broadmoor ambiance continued to flow through my veins because I decided my breakfast needed to be pretty. Which goes to show it doesn’t take a fancy resort to embrace moments of celebration. Like the smiling doorman, I want to find and spread joy in my ordinary days. It seems a worthy goal.

back home

Share it: Sometimes dreams do come true

Courtship with Myself

hearts

When I started losing weight my challenge was to find ways to exercise and eat right.

Instead I found out it was a courtship.

A chance to build the love and affection I have always had for myself.

~Kim Seigle of AlwaysThinkingImFat

This week I stumbled upon simple thoughts of beauty and encouragement written by Kim Seigle. The above quote was taken from her Love Yourself Again post. I’d encourage you to check out her blog and read the whole thing.

Here’s another of her gems:

The Big Beautiful Woman & Her Man

I was out and about enjoying my day.

I love to people watch.  I was sitting eating frozen yogurt when I saw a woman about my size walk in with her man.

Her face was so beautiful and she looked lovely in the coral pink ensemble she was wearing.  The man with her was very attentive to her and was in love with every curve.  I could tell!!

It made me so happy to see such a big beautiful woman with her man.

I guess it is not the size you wear but how you wear the size you are in!!!

Paula here again:

So with these nuggets of hope and beauty from Kim, I wish you a beautiful weekend. May you stand tall, wearing the size you are in with joy and confidence. May your journey to better health become a courtship with yourself. May we all learn to love ourselves again!

Beauty in the simplicity of encouragement

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Success!

Seth

Yep–this is one of my sons, but the pose just seemed to fit the topic: VICTORY! And yes, he’s on a mountain peak!

“You were made for more!”

Great news, huh?

In her Made to Crave Devotional Lysa TerKerrst says we were made for more than stuff like failure, cycles of defeat, being ruled by taste buds, body image, rationalizations, guilt, shame . . .

I’d add my own list. I am made for more than: discouragement, inadequacy, doubt, worry, and fear.

What would you add to the list?

No matter what is on your list or mine, Lysa speaks God’s heart when she says we’re made for VICTORY.

(I heard that in my head like the cheer I used to do as a 6th grader. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! Do you hear the chant as the word is spelled out, whispered, and increasing in volume? Grab the pom-poms and shout it: VICTORY!)

The great thing about the stuff in God’s heart is that He backs it up. In this case victory is our because we get to live in His incomparably great power. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.

Father,
Please enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we have hope as we glimpse the riches you’ve prepared for us. Help us to better grasp what it means to live in the power you’ve provided that gives us victory over all that tempts us, all that pulls us down, all that discourages us. Let that power be revealed in how we live, including our relationship with food. We look to you for strength for this day!

Uh . . . a devotion on victory wasn’t intentionally scheduled for Superbowl Sunday, but sometimes things just work out well. Go BRONCOS!