Tag Archives: food

Celebrating the Memories II

A high. Honest. Sunday at the ACFW conference was full of blessings. (You can read about the first two days on yesterday’s post.)

It started with a wonderful time at the Books and Such Literary Agency breakfast. I was honored to be seated next to the founder, Janet Kobobel Grant.

janet k. Grant

The food was amazing and included this darling spread of add-ins for my oatmeal.

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I also enjoyed posing with fellow authors who married daughters off this year. We had to get a few shots of the mothers of the brides. (By the way, Cathy West has recently released two novels I’m dying to read, and Beth Vogt asked me to read and review her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, which I loved. I also enjoyed her second book and am looking forward to the third in the series.)

mother of the bride pic

With authors Cathy West (left) and Beth K. Vogt (right.)

Dineen Miller also asked me to review her debut novel, The Soul Saver, which was fabulous. But don’t take my word for it. This book WON the Carol Award for the mystery/suspense/thriller category! So happy for Dineen! 2013 has been quite the year for her–marrying off a daughter and getting a Carol!

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With author Dineen Miller

It was also fun to connect with Colorado author Olivia Newport. I had the honor of reading and reviewing her debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. It was a great story! If you enjoy historical fiction, check out Olivia’s novels. Though she’s a fairly new arrival on the Christian Historical Fiction circuit, she has several books out.

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robin-jones-gunn-300Saturday’s lunch included another keynote address by best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn. Suffice it to say that’s when the crying started for me. She talked about obeying God when things look different than we expect, about following Him through the twists and turns in our journey as writers. (Sound familiar? Kind-a like the whole curve ball concept?)

After a teary conversation with my sweet friend and new author who’s releasing to top reviews, Carla Laureano, I felt stronger than ever that I had to swing at that curve ball. (She says we cry every time we talk. And lest you misunderstand–I wasn’t the only one sporting waterworks.)

Sunday night boasted the ACFW Awards Gala. One of my favorite memories is sharing a quick hug with the amazing Brandilyn Collins. I thanked her in the speech I never gave for year after year of faithful prayers. The highlight of my ACFW conferences for many years know has been those precious few moments with her in the prayer room.

I was honored to sing with the choir, who kicked off the gala with author Cynthia Ruchti’s arrangement of “Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow.” I thrilled to sing a high B. It’s been forever since I got to sing with a choir, and it’s one of my great joys.

It was also fun to be a finalist and have my very own place cards for myself and special guests.

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I had to take a picture of my book and name in the program. (Notice the beautiful centerpieces peeking from behind!)

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After the gala, I told my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that I wanted a shot with her where I no longer weighed 210 pounds. It felt so good to sport a fancy dress at my new weight. And see, a real smile even if I didn’t win the Carol.

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I love any opportunity to share time with my fabulous friend and multi-published author Janice Thompson. It’s hard to believe we were friends back when she was a “new” author. She now has at least 18 books out! (And her weight loss story is amazing! We’ve been cheering each other on!)

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As I wrote in an earlier post, I weathered not winning my category in the Carol Awards mostly fine. It helped me keep a happy face when my roomy Kathy Kovach decided I needed a consolation prize, and I pranced around in my new shoes. (Note how nicely they show off my tattoo.)

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The next morning included a couple of awesome “chance” meetings as we got out of Dodge. The first was a super cool prayer time with a homeless man while we waited for our shuttle to the airport. The second was connecting with the Bicycle Lady, Dr. Reba Hoffman, while in line at Starbucks in the airport. She writes a great blog about her experiences. Suffice it to say I find her one of the most courageous women I’ve ever met. Her stories about how God led her to ride her bicycle from town to town to help women find freedom from the ravages of abuse are breath-taking.

At-the-Airport

Left to right, Colorado Authors Jen Turano, Carla Laureano, yours truly, Reba, the bicycle lady, Colorado Author Kathy Kovach and pre-published author Jill Buteyn, who WON her category in the prestigious Genesis contest for the not-yet-published authors. (Can you tell I’m proud of all our Colorado gals?)

The flight home included discussing theology with my seatmate, an amazing father of 3. I arrived  home exhausted and enjoyed cuddling up with my family, a pizza, and a movie.

And yes, I love sharing about my experiences–it is my blog so I get to do that. But these last two posts do relate to the question I left hanging a few posts back. As I write in upcoming posts about curve ball, just keep in mind these last two blogs–how happy and comfortable I am here in this writing world . . .

Grandma’s Pudding and the Red, White, and Blue

banana pudding 5I  pause only a brief moment to pull up the memory.

In my mind’s eye I see a hand built bar extending in front of the stove. On it is a black rotary phone, glasses, sweet tea, and pop bottles awaiting the evening meal, and there, covered in plastic wrap in a clear glass bowl is my grandma’s banana pudding.

A few years ago I happened upon notes in one of my cookbooks. I was thrilled. Grandma had been with her God for years, and I thought her famous banana pudding left with her. But there, in my own handwriting, were adaptations to the pudding recipe with the note, “Grandma’s way” next to them.

A new 4th of July tradition was born that day, and I held my own bowl of banana pudding high when I arrived at my brother’s house whispering, “Grandma’s recipe.”

It was first on my to-do list this morning (well right after the 3.77 mile walk with hubby and the two eggs and 1 chicken sausage I ravenously consumed after that.)

The pudding was made the old-fashioned, southern way–layered vanilla waffers and perfectly ripened bananas.

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Whole milk, sugar, eggs and flour on the stove, don’t stop stirring.

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Finally, just when you think your arm is going to fall off, it thickens.

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Then you add the real butter and real vanilla. (Grandma used margarine, but even the best banana pudding ever sometimes needs tweaks.)

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Once mixed, it flows over the bananas and wafers, then is decorated with a few crumbles, just like Grandma did.

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Then it is off to the refrigerator where the cookies become mushy, the bananas softer, and the flavors invade each other to make a new one, slightly altered by their unity.

Today is a celebration day. Not a day to count calories or worry about the waist line. It’s a day to embrace my little family and rejoice that my son asked for Grandma’s pudding, pulling my past into this cycling of life to the future.

Celebration isn’t about money or bells and whistles. It’s the simple things, like Grandma’s pudding and cuddling under a blanket together to watch fireworks. It’s also the deep things. Gratitude for loved ones. A humble embrace of freedoms earned by another’s sacrifice. A moment’s reflection on the value of the human soul, the meaning of liberty. (Thanks, Jerry for the link.)

Now to bake pies and fry chicken. I wanted to grill in the backyard, but the kids wanted a picnic at the fireworks site. Call me old-fashioned but sandwiches and chips just don’t cut it today, so I’m off to the kitchen.

It’s a good thing Jerry and I walked before breakfast.

Happy Fourth!

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Grandma’s Pudding and the Red, White, and Blue!

Weight Loss Journey Day 57

Today I took a chance. I did something kind-of brave because I sensed God asked me to. The results were breath-taking. God is amazing. He really, really loves us. He answers prayer.

(At first I wasn’t going public with the story. I treasured it to my heart for a time, but as I reflect on December 19, I decided to share the journal entry. It is to God’s glory. He is amazing . . . So if you’re my Facebook friend and wondered what happened that day, now you can know. Here goes:)

I finally did it. I finally knocked on the stranger’s door like He told me to do a week and a half ago. I texted my son with the address, just ‘cause I had no idea what I was getting into and figured someone should know where I was.

At first no one answered. I told the Lord, “I’m only doing this once. If this is your deal, and You led me here today like I thought You did, You’re going to have to send someone to this door. I’m not going to find the courage to come back and try again.”

The door opened.

I stood there, awkward, fumbling for words.  “I . . . uh . . . can I just tell you my story?”

A woman, probably in her 30s, stood before me, brow wrinkled.

“I . . . take walks for exercise and I . . . um . . . sometimes pray for the people in the houses I pass. And well,”

I’m crying now, feeling silly, but feeling Him.

“when I walked past your house a while back, I felt like God showed me how to pray. I boxdon’t pretend to always hear Him perfectly, but . . . do you guys need food?”

The woman begins to cry. I wrap her in my arms and cry with her. “I have food in my van, can I bring it in?”

She nods.

On my second trip into the house with food, an older woman comes downstairs. She tells me how her daughter (the woman I met earlier) lost her home and moved in with her five children and how the cute little guy on the couch is her grandson. She babysits for her granddaughter, a single mom.

“My husband and I are retired,” she says. “We’re trying to help, but it’s hard. In the mornings I wake up and tell my sweet Jesus that I don’t know how we’re going to make it, and He has to help us. It’s hardest on the little ones. They don’t understand when we have no meat, but I tell them if we have beans and macaroni, we have food.” A tear traces her cheek.

The woman’s faith, perseverance, and strength humble me. That I get to serve such a faithful servant humbles me. How God loves the two of us through this incident blows me away, reminds me that He is the One who Sees. That His love is bigger than I can fathom.

Amazed by my God, on cloud nine I drive home.

(But I wish I hadn’t taken so long to obey. I wish I’d given them food sooner.)

Real Time:

I’m undone again as I post this. No updates today.

How About You?

What has happened in your life that leaves you undone–in a humble, good way?

Weight Loss Journey Day 28

Since I’ve returned home I’m trying to live a little like I did at the beach. I splurged on salad stuff instead of waiting for the discount store to have some that looks fresh and make a point to fill at least a third of my plate with it at the dinner table. I try to add a little beauty to our family meals, like candles or a tablecloth or pretty food.

And best of all . . . sometimes I walk as the sun sets.

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Or break from my rushing to slip into the backyard to watch it descend over the mountains

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Or pause and gaze through my kitchen window as the orange filters through the tree branches

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Real Time Update:

It’s hard to think about the important things in life–like sunsets or pretty food–when life gets busy. But I’m still looking for ways to embrace beauty, to pant after joy, to let peace envelop me. And I’m still eating salad!

This weekend was amazing. I attended a BeNew celebration in downtown Denver. I was asked to be a runway model for the product (not really as glamorous as it sounds, but super fun.) It’s been a long time since I had to find my inner ham while on stage. I have to admit having dropped 32 pounds helped me be willing to flounce across the stage! (Did you catch that? The plateau is over! Yay! The scale has started moving again!)

How About You?

What little every day pleasure are your purposeful about enjoying? As you’ve lost weight, where have you noticed more courage or confidence?

Weight Loss Journey Day 18

View from the lanai

View from the lanai!

Can I just say that airport food is ridiculous! Incredibly expensive, high in calories, and when you’re up for hours and hours and all off schedule . . . I just wanted lots of coffee on the plane, but of course I can’t stand their coffee without adding sugar and creamer . . . and I’ve been up since 2 a.m. Denver time and eating these little airplane snacks  . . . then of course we were starved and wanted a real meal once we got to our destination.

Way off calorie count by the time we settled in at our condo, and feeling heavy from the weird food, but not satisfied. Geez!

We eventually settled in for the night with a cleansing salad topped with walnuts and enjoyed with a glass of red wine while sitting in our lanai. (New word for Paula. Don’t I sound elegant?)

I’ve been thinking about how much I hide—like before I left home how I hid to cry, or how I almost didn’t type that I had a glass of wine because some of my friends don’t do alcohol.

But here’s the thing, I’m enjoying God’s incredible gifts: this wholesome food, beautiful sunset, glass of wine, and a lanai to sit in as I embrace it all.

Real Time Update:

Here I am, sixty something days after I first saw that gorgeous beach. But in some ways today was special like that. After several straight days of highs less than 10 degrees, I awoke to a toasty 28. I was no longer hindered by the cold! Spent three miles wandering the neighborhood, gazing at snow-capped peaks, and letting joy bubble forth after a difficult few days. Later, Jerry actually felt like walking with me (He hurt his back and couldn’t walk with me for most of these last 60 days, as I talked about in an earlier post,), so I got more sunshine and clocked another mile. This all led to making one of my more elegant meals for the family and feeling that I could enjoy it with them thanks to all the calorie burning. Gotta embrace the moments of beauty in this life!!

What about you?

What moment are you embracing today? Also, how do you handle traveling while seeking to eat healthily?

 

Weight Loss Journey Day 16

hitting a wall

I’m beginning to feel thinner.

I wonder if others see it.

Jerry does. He says my friend, Kathleen, will notice it when I see her tomorrow. (I’m going on an all-expense paid vacation with my bestest friend from college. God does do amazing things!)I don’t think Kathleen will see a difference, but that’s okay.

I made a huge meal for the boys since I’m leaving town. Cooked double for extra for them while I’m gone. Tried not to eat double, though. The food was heavy, not stuff I cook often, but great for left-overs–fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. I’m sure the BENew secret group would disapprove, but . . .

I stayed in calorie count even though I didn’t exercise. It’s hard with that kind of food. I ate small portions, and did, honestly, still feel hungry.

I’m trying to figure out how transparent to be as I record this stuff. I think it will eventually become a blog. Should it be about total transformation, not just weight loss, or should I stick to the physical?

Well, here’s a tidbit, if I’m to be open. Today I hid and cried for a long time. I desperately need this vacation. I’m fighting hard for my healing—the chiropractor, the trauma doctor, my counselor, my prayer group, this diet, trying to learn to move again.

But sometimes I still feel hopeless. Hopeless about getting truly well, hopeless about losing all the weight I want to lose, hopeless about other struggles. Tired of dieting, even though I’ve only begun.

Tired of . . . just . . . TIRED.

Real Time Update:

Okay . . . I still feel tired sometimes, especially when real life hits hard again. But I’m finding that long walks help my mood. So does healthier food. (And throwing in a big helping of salad when I’m surrounded by heavy food helps me not be so hungry, as does my BeFull shake.) I also do a lot of talking at God. (When I calm down, I actually talk to and with Him, but sometimes I’m like Lucy in Charlie Brown, “Wah, Wah, Wah . . .”)

I’m glad I didn’t let the wall I hit make me give up on the day I wrote the above. I was on the cusp of some wonderful new things–of rest, refreshment, and growth. (So tune in for the next few weeks, folks.)

How About You?

What kinds of things throw you in a tailspin? Do the hard times trigger you and make you want to grab food? How do you fight back?