Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Another Diet...

Although I am not new to "diet" plans, I found a program that I believe will finally work, because it's promotes a healthy lifestyle change. I am so excited, because like so many of us, I have tried everything, including in-patient treatment and every diet out there. I am now well over 300# and only 5'3", but I'm so excited that I found this program. Having just started, I alrady know it's something I can do because it's fits me and it's easy preparation. No complicated recipes and menus to follow (unless I just want to).

I was thrilled to find all the Thanksgiving recipes I needed right here on their site, so my first week won't be sabotaged by "Thanksgiving." I can make the yummy recipes I'm used to, lightened up, which is not only better for me but for my whole family. Whether one needs to lose weight or not, healthier menues and foods are good for all of us! I can fit these recipes right into my meal plan and not have to sacrifice the foods I enjoy on such a special holiday because I'm yet again "on a diet." This is so important to me. And because my meal plan includes snacks and mini-meals, I can eat a little, and then save some for snacks, etc. when I'm ready. I'm counting on success!

I wanted to comment on one thing, that maybe some others have encountered. I have always been one to take care of everyone else "first," me last. So sitting down for a couple of hours today and reading through all the meal plan material, preparing my menus, and making my shopping list was almost excrutiating. I could hardly get through the time it took to do this. Not because it took so much time (because it didn't), but because I was spending that time ON ME! I had to keep telling myself "I deserve two hours," "I deserve to eat healthy," "I deserve to feel good." Suddenly I was out of the "victim" mode and into the "success" mode. What a difference. I will let you know my success, because I thoroughly expect it.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

First OB-GYN Visit

My son David called today to report he and Amber had had their first OB-GYN visit here in Knoxville. He advises they were able to hear the heartbeat, and a sonogram was done. The baby is now the size of a peanut! Expected due date: May 15, 2008. Names: Drake Elliott for a boy. No girl name selected as yet. Anticipation rises!

Some facts courtesy of
(Note: Photo is not their actual sonogram; it is also from
  • Day 1 - conception takes place.
  • 7 days - tiny human implants in mother’s uterus.
  • 10 days - mother’s menses stop.
  • 18 days - heart begins to beat.
  • 21 days - pumps own blood through separate closed circulatory system with own blood type.
  • 28 days - eye, ear and respiratory system begin to form.
  • 42 days - brain waves recorded, skeleton complete, reflexes present.
  • 7 weeks - photo of thumbsucking.
  • 8 weeks - all body systems present.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Coffee with a Cream Chaser

As you all know, my son Aaron is now in Clarksville, Tennessee, at Master's Commission. Here is a video of their initiation. Each student apparently has one of him or her doing this: swallowing a scoop of coffee grounds followed by a dry creamer chaser, and then throwing up! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, college life!

Click on the link to see the video. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Announcement

Somehow it seems appropriate. There is a crispness in the evening air. The slightest whisper of color has already begun to softly kiss the leaves of the Bradford pears. The Dogwoods will follow, then the hills will come alive with the firey oranges and reds, yellows and golds of autumn in full-spectrum. The view will be spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring. Perhaps this is God's apology for ending summer all too quickly. I rather believe, though, that it is yet one more example of His magnificent grace that eases us into another season, one that has the potential to be too harsh to bear were it not for some joie de vivre in the transition.

To many, autumn is a time of ending. Ending summer, warm days, carefree lifestyles, vacations. One might miss the glory of autumn altogether and only dread the coming of winter, when life seems to stand still and frozen. I have likened my own life these last few weeks and months to such a time of ending as I have wrestled with this thing called "empty nest syndrome." How suitable it seems that my youngest child would go off to college at this time of year, when leaves begin to fall and the earth appears to die. It is, indeed, the end of a season of my own life, and just as the falling leaves and cooler air declare a change has come, so do the remnants of boyhood my son has left behind: a nearly-empty bedroom with only a few posters still clinging to the walls, a basket of worn-out clothing in the corner, and a paintball gun perched upon the corner of his desk. Poignant reminders of a vibrant youth who has embarked upon his manhood.

For days, weeks on end I've only dreaded the winter and almost missed the autumn entirely. I've not trusted God to make the transition for me, just as he transitions the seasons of nature in such splendor and magnitude. Already, even before the departure of my son, the transition was underway. Some months ago, through a series of circumstances none of us predicted, my brother and his wife came to stay with us, along with their two-year-old daughter, my niece Anna. Our home was suddenly overflowing with giggles and tea cups; away with you, you fear of lonliness; no time to lament some future grief.

My son has adjusted well to his new life away at school, and he makes me proud. Autumn is not an ending for us, either--only a change, and no doubt we'll both have many adjustments to make in the transition. He'll have new responsibilities, new friends, new opportunities; I might use his room for a workout room! He'll come home at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we'll have loads of stories to tell each other. There will be fervor in the transition.

And lest I plunge into dread of winter all over again, I need only look to the God of the Universe whose timing is perfect and whose love is immeasureable. For just as a small child finds delight in gleefully dancing through piles of damp colored leaves, I find it hilarioulsy wonderful that my eldest son and daughter-in-law have decided to move back to this area from North Carolina. We had dinner with them this evening and they presented me with a small gift. How delightful! Knowing I have a passion for Ebay, they gave me the largest "Ebay for Dummies" book I have even seen, but as my son pointed out, it was only a cover, for there was another tell-tale gift wrapped in tissue inside the bag. I gingerly unwrapped the packaging to find a small rectangular teddy bear photo frame in lovely pastel colors playfully announcing, "Grandma and Grandpa's Little Angel."

So as autumn is a transitional time of year, this is a transitional season of my life. God has sent me children and grandchildren, not to take the place of my own two cherished sons, but to fill the void that their having grown up and created adult lives of their own has left behind. And just as the seasons are perpetual, winter will give us pause, and spring will come again. In it I will see trees and flowers bloom, hear birds sing, and hold my first grandchild for the very first time. Aaron will come home from college for the summer and we will all go on as God intended.

Have a blessed day.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Tar has come to stay with us. He is my aunt and uncle's dog, but circumstances have caused him to relocate. My dear uncle passed away not too long ago, and my aunt's ill health for some months past had made it impossible for her to care for Tar any longer prior to her own recent home-going. One doesn't just abandon family, so we brought Tar home.

Tar is actually Tar, Jr., Tar for short. Like Tar, Sr. (my aunt and uncle's previous canine companion, though unrelated) he is a black lab mix. He is very gentle (generally) and user-friendly, although in his old age (just turned 12) he is quite set in his ways. For instance, he is so accustomed to having "bites" of people food at every meal, one can hardly deny him. He will steadfastly stand at the edge of the table very patiently waiting. He knows not to beg until he hears the words "Want a bite?" at which time he nearly leaps for whatever morsel one might be dangling between finger and thumb. Though he eats dry dog food, it must be fresh. He will not eat leftover food; indeed, he would apparently rather starve.

Tar is most content these days to lie down and rest, but does like to be near one of his people. Unless he is sound asleep, he will follow his people hither and thither, then again lie down at their feet. He enjoys a good rub and a scratch behind the ears, but if no one is near, he will happily scratch his own back by rolling around on the carpet, all 4 paws in the air, growling with glee all the while! A little treat will warrant a "shake-a-paw," and he loves to go outside whenever the door is opened (though he'll quickly come back in).

After having lived all but the most recent 6 months of his life with my very sedentary aunt and uncle and seldom ever encountering a human of the toddler persuasion, it must have been quite a shock to him when Anna (my 2-year-old niece) came to stay with us. He was bit finicky and jittery when she first arrived, never having had to deal with anything that moved as quickly as a 2-year-old. Soon, though, he became her protector and guardian as Labs are apt to do. Anna can now play with him, comb his tail, and lie on his belly without his so much as flinching. She once even stepped on him in her efforts to climb over the girth of his midsection, yet he took it all in stride.

Still, Tar is quick to come to Anna's rescue at the slightest risk of danger. He has been known to intervene with a snarling low growl as her father tickles her. Apparently, Tar views this as a confrontation and is prepared to attack; Anna's father (my brother) views this as an opportunity to instigate hilarious trouble. His sense of humor is rather wry.

We do feel very safe with Tar around, however. The bare hint of an unfamiliar presence near our property will set Tar in ready mode. Again, the low snarling growl, as if to say, "Beware!" followed by very grown-up barking until whatever predator that threated us has turned away.

There must still be some puppy in Tar somewhere. He loves to play and has a whole dishpan full of toys of all sorts, balls, pull toys, rags, and other rubbery things. Tug-of-War is surely his favorite game. It makes him look quite vicious as he growls and snarls and drools, but we all know he is really very gentle and doesn't have a chance of winning. It is quite funny to see this 80-pound dog sitting on my brother's lap and laughing, though!

Yes, Tar is a good old dog, and we're glad we adopted him. He's all the more precious to us now that Aunt Loraine has gone home to be with the Lord. We hope Tar will be with us for many more years but he may follow her soon, as Labs tend to have a shorter lifespan than some other dog breeds. When he does, though, we know Aunt Loraine will be thrilled to see "her baby" again.

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How To Take Your Son To College

A bittersweet lament, sung to the tune of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," Paul Simon, circa 1975

You just clean out his space, Grace

Pack up his gear, Dear

You just get in the van, Jan

And get your son gone.

Drive on out to his school, Jewel

(Cry inside as you go, Flo)

One last hug and a kiss, Miss

And get your son gone.

Drop him off at his crib, Lib

Let your boy become a man, Fran

Drive back home all alone, Joan

And get your son gone...

Get your son gone...

Get your son gone...................

Have a blessed day!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Happy 18th Birthday!

Following is the text of the ad I wrote to commemorate my son Aaron's 18th birthday. It appeared in our hometown paper, The Clinton Courier, on that special date, August 8th. The ad itself is also below. Happy 18th birthday, baby!

"Happy 18th Birthday to Aaron Alexander Rathmell (a.k.a. Xander) of Lake City!

Aaron is the youngest son of David, Sr. and Robin Rathmell and the brother of David Rathmell, Jr., of Fletcher, NC. He is a 2007 home schooled graduate of the Tennessee Regional Academy for Christian Education (T.R.A.C.E.) in Clinton.

Aaron has a heart for God and a passion to fulfill God’s call upon his life, wherever that may take him, although he hopes to become a youth pastor. Aaron will further his ministry pursuits this fall when he will be dually enrolled as a first-year student of Master’s Commission in Clarksville, Tennessee, a 9-month intense discipleship program, and the Certified Level of the Berean School of the Bible. On completion of the program, he will receive an accredited Certificate of Ministry from the Berean School of the Bible and a diploma from Master’s Commission Clarksville.

Mom, Dad, David, Jr. & Amber, and Uncle Jeff, Aunt Sharon, and Anneleisa all wish Aaron an awesome 18th birthday and God’s abundant blessings as he takes these next steps in his life’s journey!

Monday, July 30, 2007

In Only 9 Days...

In only 9 days, my youngest son Aaron will turn 18, and I'm going through a phase. I'm sure it's one of those transitions from one season of my life to another, but knowing what it is makes it none the easier to accept.
In only 9 days, he will suddenly be a man by some worldly standards, yet not quite "man" enough by others. He will no longer be a minor and will fall off my health insurance plan (unless he attends college full-time and I submit countless signed and notarized forms to my insurance company verifying I still provide his primary means of support). He will be able to sign a contract, buy cigarettes (he doesn't smoke), and vote. He will not be able to obtain a CDL (unless all OTR driving is done in the State of Tennessee), purchase firearms, work in a bar, or drink (thank goodness!), yet he can go to war and offer his life for this great nation of ours. Maybe I can still claim his as a dependent on my taxes.

Some distinctions are a little more subtle. He has undoubtedly been marking the days to freedom, that magical point in time when the imaginary bars of childhood fall away and adulthood presents itself with all its limitless possibilities. He'll be leaving home to start college in the fall. It's a good and natural parting, one for which we raise our children, one every parent might expect at such a juncture in their children's lives. But he'll be living with another family and a roommate, and they'll be replacing me, at least in the central arena of his life.

I've been through this before, so why is it so hard? My eldest son is almost 24; I've already survived his graduation, his marriage, and his moving away. It must be that "empty-nest" syndrome sneaking up on me again. It causes me to reflect, reminisce, and pull out old pictures.

18 years ago, Aaron was born on August 8, 1989. His brother David was 5, almost 6. What close brothers they would be, I thought. They would stick together like glue. (I didn't know much about sibling rivalry, little boys, or what a difference 6 years' in age could make at the time).

I only knew they were the joy and light of my life, precious and remarkable gifts from God! Raising them was not easy, as I was a single parent for most of their early-childhoods. But they made every day worthwhile, every sacrifice effortless, every joy more intense, every moment more dear, every milestone more memorable.

They had both been in "school" since the tender age of 6 weeks, the standard maternity leave at the time, as I recall. My heart was broken daily as I left them in the care of others: teachers, ministers, babysitters. It seemed they were always the first to arrive and the last to leave their temporary shelters, not because I was busy climbing some purposeless corporate ladder, but because I had to pay the bills. I think it was harder on me than on them, though, because David told me recently that he thought he had had a pretty good childhood. I cried a silent tear of thanks, for God had taken care of my deficiencies.

He had provided all that we needed, and what I saw as lack, my boys apparently never missed. We celebrated the special times, their accomplishments, their birthdays, friends, family, worship, and Christmas!

We traveled to Cincinnati one year with all of their gifts in the trunk of the car. They wondered how Santa had found them at Aunt Loraine's and Uncle Otis'. How delighted were there little eyes when they awoke to find the small tree in the window surrounded by brightly wrapped packages! Indeed, there was no shortage of presents that year; and more importantly, no shortage of love. They played in the snow (a wonderful oddity, since they were Florida boys), and Aaron played endless games of table top pool with Uncle Otis, until he wore him out (Otis, not Aaron). Even the dog got a bone!

They've grown together over the years, had their differences, their battles, and their victories, and surely they will face the future head-on. They will always be brothers and will be there for each other, regardless of where their paths may lead. They are headed down different roads, each with their own goals, dreams, and vision, and a good foundation. They have been raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, for they are His, loaned to me for a season at their birth.

It's been a few years now since I've had to consciously let go of David. Now I must make every effort to do the same with Aaron. As I committed David to the Lord, I commit Aaron also. God has a wonderful plan for his life, and I release him to fulfill it.

We'll make the transition together, although I think he'll run faster than I. He's been way ahead of me since we took that first step together almost 18 years ago. Well, I still have 9 days.

Yes, in only 9 days, Aaron will be 18. I suppose I'll survive this, too.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Mud Puddles Are Waiting

I have two sons, David, Jr., age 23, and Aaron (a.k.a. Xander), age 17 ("but I'll be 18 in 24 days..."), so I know about getting dirty! They cleaned up well, though, and I'm very proud of both of them. They are very handsome young men.

Yes, it's been awhile since they've wallowed in the mud. I'd almost forgotten. Forgotten how cute dirty children look when they are innocently making mud pies and swirling leaves in puddles on the ground. Forgotten the delight on their little faces as they squish the mud between their chubby little toes, and the squeals of joy as they toddle up and down rain-drenched garden paths, stomping as hard as they can to make the water splash around their ankles.

Then came Anna. Anneleisa is my niece and she's two. She and her mother and father, my brother and sister-in-law, have come to stay with us for awhile. They worked on the yard today, and Anna promptly found the puddles.

Anna seemed so very content exploring the dirt! Why not; here she was in her own private park on a hot day in her underwear (diaper). She was oblivous to all the raking, mowing, and planting going on around her as she ran her binky (pacifier, but she calls it her "lee-lee") up and down the garden rail like a Matchbox car.

Funny how life gets so busy and complicated over the years that we forget the simple pleasures, especially as our children grow up. God has a way of reminding us, though. He's funny that way. Here I am contemplating becoming an "empty-nester," and along comes Anna, for however long that might be. To thrill me with her tiny giggle, her butterfly kisses, and her cuddly hugs.

I'm sure there will be many more days to enjoy watching her playing in the mud puddles. Of course, I'll have to slow down a bit or I'll miss it. I think I'll put off thinking about tomorrow for awhile; the mud puddles are waiting. And her mother can give Anna her bath!

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Red Hat & A Purple Dress

"What gives with a red hat and a purple dress?" my uncle asked me a few days ago in response to a recent email. I had referred to the possibility of my someday writing a blog, once I got a red hat a purple dress. Apparently, he had not yet heard of the Red Hat Society.

I sent him this link:

and hoped he would read all about it. Surely he would get the joke. After all, I was certainly not a candidate for the Red Hats. Or was I?

As a matter of fact, I have been getting advertisements from AARP for a good 15 years now, and am about to find myself an empty-nester, come September when my youngest heads for college. Indeed, they have only one basic rule: that is, one must be a woman of 50 or over. Well, I've reached that milestone, but I certainly don't feel like a woman of 50 (or over *grin*), at least not emotionally. Maybe I could slide in with a pink hat instead (women under 50), like my girlfriend, Kim.

Some of my classmates celebrated our 35th high school reunion this past June (I didn't attend; in fact, I haven't attended a single high school reunion). My dh and I just just recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary in May by watching "Law and Order," eating ice cream, and going to bed at the wee hour of midnight. My eldest son will be 24 in November, and I can now order off the "senior" menu in some restaurants, although I doubt I'll ever do that, even to save a dollar.

It seems the years are adding up though, doesn't it? So why don't I feel 50-something? Could it be because I am stuck in time somewhere, never having grown out of some childhood trauma or misadventure of my youth? Does one require certain experiences that I have never enjoyed in order to feel as though they have earned the age of 50?

Perhaps I simply need to change my mindset: when I was young, 50 seemed so old, and in fact, 50 used to be older than it is today. Think about it. The median age of grandparents in this country is 57. My grandmother was 75 when I was 18! We in our early-50's are the tale-end of the baby-boomers. The world seems to be at our feet. Advertising is aimed at us for everything from health care and wellness to insurance and travel. We are a large portion of the population, and according to recent statistics, senior citizen population will grow faster than all others in all 50 states by the year 2030. Wow! No wonder "they" are all trying to get our money. The upside is much of it is geared toward helping us to look young, feel young, and stay young.

I have heard the old adage, "you're only as old as you feel." And since we choose our own feelings, I will choose to feel young, even at 50. Is it okay, after all, to "not feel 50."

Not only must I change my mindset, but also the words that come out of my mouth. Negative words ("I feel so old.") reap aches, pains, and curses. Praise and positive words reap strength and blessing:

1. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
................................................Psalm 103:1-5

So, here I am: 53 years young, and writing my first blog. I wouldn't go back for anything, although I have learned, grown, changed, and suffered a lot. I have also gained so much more. As my aforementioned friend Kim says, "I wouldn't trade my ____ years' worth of wisdom for anything."

But, I'll not yet buy a red hat and a purple dress. Not even a pink one.

Have a blessed day!