Birthday Celebration in New Orleans...

After I had received the BEST birthday present ever, with the news of my tests, we had to head to New Orleans for the weekend.  Robby and Justin had a business show there and I was happy to tag along.  Now, whenever ones visits New Orleans there is ALWAYS food involved!  I have been LOTS of places in the world but still there is NO place that compares where the cuisine is concerned.  Our first night there, we went to an old favorite, "Dragos".  "Dragos" has been featured on The Food Network, specifically for their charbroiled oysters...

The next day while Robby and Justin were working, I decided to go off shopping to The Shops on Canal Street.  It was my birthday weekend, after all...I wanted to treat myself to a couple of things.  And what better place to do that than at the Bobbi Brown make-up counter at Sax and then a little trip to Anthropologie!  Robby and David met me there, where Robby surprised me with a really cute birthday outfit from BCBG...

He made the girls cut the tags off so I could wear it to my birthday dinner (which I also had no idea we were doing that night...) down the street at "Manning's".  We had really wanted to visit this restaurant before during a game day, but unfortunately they do not take reservations on game days...and getting seated with about 11 people without reservations is virtually impossible.  This restaurant is really neat because the entire section in front of the huge television screened wall is recliners.  The food was delicious and my birthday dessert was brought out with a candle in it...

Before Robby and I headed back home on Saturday morning, we went to another restaurant we had never been to before for brunch, "The Ruby Slipper".  It was a 45 minute wait but well worth it...

We arrived home around 3:30 in the afternoon and immediately had to get dressed for an annual winter ball that was about an hour away.  It is a charity dinner for a local hospital, complete with door prizes and a silent auction (I won a pair of shoes at the auction!).  This year's main entertainment was Mark Chestnut and following his concert, there was another band (from New Orleans!) that performed.  Following the evening there is a breakfast which we chose not to stay for because we did have that hour drive back and church would come awfully early the next morning...

What had started out as a very stressful week for me had turned into a lovely weekend.  As I walked outside Sunday morning, the weather was warm and clear and I could hear the birds singing.  It reminded me of how fortunate I am to have God's mercy and grace.  A former pastor once gave us his definition of grace and I have always remembered and loved it:  "Grace is the undeserved love and kindness that God shows us."  What a wonderful thought to begin the day and week with... 

8 Days Of Agony...

The plan was to make all of my doctor's appointments, get Ryan's engagement party over with, travel to Texas to make plans for the rehearsal dinner and then begin getting ready for the arrival of Baby Holli.  I would watch Caitlin's progress carefully and around the end of March, Robby and I would drive the baby furniture to Ohio and there we would stay until Holli was born.  Robby would leave in  a few days and I planned on staying until the baby turned a month old.  Yesterday all of those plans came to a screeching halt...until after 8 agonizing days pass.

You see, Monday I drove to have my yearly check-up with my new gynecologist, since the one I had for 26 year had retired.  I had already decided that this year's mammogram would be done at a breast center since I had twice before had problems with them.  Everything was supposed to just click off of my list in preparation for my month long trip to Ohio.  That is until my new doctor said, "Do you feel this?"  She placed my finger over a small place on my breast and my heart dropped.  Telling me that is could just be a gland or some scar tissue, she told me not to worry.  Not worry?!  Are you serious?!  She then set my appointment up with the breast center for 8 days later...which also just happened to be  my birthday.  When just the day before I said I wanted to do something special for my birthday, I sure was not expecting this.  And so I wait...and waiting is the hardest part because that is the time when one's mind wanders and thinks of all the worst case scenarios.  That is why I refer to my waiting period as, "8 Days Of Agony".  (This is only Tuesday...)

Today is Wednesday and it appears to be starting off a little better that Tuesday did.  I spent a good deal of Tuesday morning crying over my situation but at some point managed to get myself up and go to the gym.  By the time I left the gym, the skies had opened up and the rain was pouring; what I thought was an accurate reflection of how I was feeling.  Robby was working long hours and I closed up all the blinds and garage door, started a fire and began to wash clothes and watch some taped television shows.  Every now and then I would feel this sadness creeping over me and attempted to rid myself of it.  I came to the realization that not only the unknown of what tests they might have to do at the breast center or even what they might find wasn't torturing me the most at the moment; it was the waiting...(6 days left to wait...I can only hope that it passes a little more quickly each day for me...)

Today is Thursday, Valentine's Day.  I have always basked in the joy that Valentine's Day and my birthday are in the same month; twice the goodies!  This year, things are just not the same.  The only thing I am thinking about or looking forward to is getting those tests over with next Tuesday.  I'm trying to stay positive but all of the other possibilities are there in the back of my mind.  David is my only child that knows about this and that is because he is a doctor.  And I wonder if it is fair to always put him that that position...the position of always knowing what is going on.  He told me not to worry either, but seems easier said than done.  I have tried to go about my daily schedule with as much normalcy as possible; going to the gym, the office, the grocery store.  And then, thankfully, I can retreat back home.  Home, where I feel safest these days; where I can hibernate for a while.  Did I mention that the waiting is the worst part right now?  (5 more days to wait...please pass quickly.)

Well, I am so thankful that it is Friday and the end of the week is finally here; it puts me just that much closer to getting down to Lafayette to have my test done.  I'll admit that yesterday (Valentine's Day...) started out pretty badly.  Well, pretty much like every other morning this week since my doctor's visit on Monday afternoon.  I got my cry over with and that's when Robby told me that I was getting HIM for Valentine's Day this year.  What he meant by that was that he was taking the entire day off to spend with me.  Oh, there wasn't going to be any fancy restaurants in our plans for the day...just the two of us, spending time together.  And THAT'S exactly what I needed!  However, before we left, he did something that he had also done the night before; he took me in his arms and prayed for me.  He prayed that everything would be OK with my tests, he prayed that God would comfort me and give me the peace only He can.  If your spouse has never prayed for you before, I cannot tell you how meaningful this is.  This was all I needed.  I didn't need a card or a dinner or present of any sort.  All I needed was the love of my God and my husband bringing me before the throne in prayer.  Although I still had these tests looming over me, the cloud did not look quite as black any more.  It was a good day.  A day I will never forget...(4 more days until my tests...)
                              I GOT TWO PICTURES THAT MADE ME SMILE TODAY
Friday didn't start out too bad; maybe I was still feeling pretty positive from the day before.  So, I decided to go with "normalcy" again...whatever that is.  I ate my breakfast and got dressed to go to the gym.  Going there did get my mind off of things and tended to make me feel a little better.  I actually felt pretty good after my long workout and then decided to stop by the nail shop on my way home.  I was glad I wouldn't have to arrive home to find no one there, though; After his Friday morning Bible Study, Robby had been busily painting Holli's baby furniture.  As I was getting in my vehicle to head home, I suddenly remembered that I needed to go by the hospital and pick up the discs that they had scanned of all my previous mammograms to take with me to the breast center on Tuesday.  I turned around and headed back there.  Once I had the package in my hand, I walked back out to my vehicle, sat down, looked at the envelope and then did something I never should have done; I open it.  Inside were the discs but along with them were the reports from all of my previous mammograms that I had been called back on.  As I sat there and read them one by one, I felt that terrible black cloud slowly begin to move back over my head.  At the end of reading the last report, there were once again tears streaming down my face.  I drove home where I went ahead and broke down once again because there was just no stopping it.  You see, I don't know about you, but my mind can take me places I really don't want to go if I'm given enough time to dwell on something.  And that's exactly what had happened...once again.  I tried to eat dinner but truly after this many days of anxiety, I could barely eat.  It's not that I don't have faith that God can and will take care of me, it's just that I am one of those people who struggle with anxiety, even have medication for it.  This whole situation was very taxing on me.  I prayed that God would just sustain me and give me a peace about the matter.  It was not a good day.  And now comes the weekend...(3 more days until my tests...)
Saturday wasn't too bad.  I can't say I really enjoyed it the way one should enjoy a Saturday, though; it wasn't carefree.  I got up and went to my yoga class; this always makes me feel better.  Then, Robby and I watched movies at home, while I attempted to knit Holli a little hat to wear in the hospital nursery (as per Caitlin's request for a "cute hospital hat"...).  When I started getting ready for bed, the anxiety over the upcoming appointment on Tuesday began to weigh heavy on me.  I prayed for peace...

Sunday was sort of a turning point for me.  As I got ready for church, I turned my television on and Joel Osteen was on talking about prayer; it spoke to me.  I needed to pray believing that I would get good news on Tuesday.  When I went into the worship service, the music began.  Every word of every lyric spoke to me...could this be God trying to speak to me?  Then the verses were read...about anxiety; that you?  Then the sermon began and suddenly I felt a peace come over me.  I had not felt this since Monday; this HAD to be God.  Robby and I got in the car after church and drove about 2 hours out of town, to St. Francisville, where we ate lunch in a little hole in the wall restaurant.  We took the scenic route and just enjoyed the drive; you know like people used to do on Sunday afternoons after church many years ago.  It was a good day.  I felt more positive toward my situation today.  The waiting is almost over...2 more days until my tests.

Monday I still felt pretty much at peace.  I got up, went to the gym and then came home to prepare for my trip back to my doctor, who was to mark the spot with the lump in my breast that she wanted checked at the breast center on Tuesday.  It rained all the way there again, but this time the rain did not seem to depress me; it had almost a calming effect on me instead.  I was really hoping that she would not even be able to find the lump, that it would be gone.  It was not.  Robby went with me and as my doctor put an "x" on the spot, she once again told me not to worry.  She said that really thought that the lump was most likely glandular.  And then she shared with me that she, also had used the breast center I would be going to and had a benign lump removed herself.  I then asked her how she could tell just by feeling if the lump "felt" benign or cancerous.  She told me (and had me feel...) a benign lump is more spongy feeling, where a cancerous lump feels hard, like a BB.  I was given orders for a mammogram and ultrasound to be done on Tuesday, along with an order for a needle biopsy, if needed.  The center, however, does not do biopsies on Tuesdays, so if that has to be done, I will have to make a return trip on Wednesday.  I felt even better when I left by doctor's office to head home.  My prayer is that I will not have to return for a biopsy and everything will be over on Tuesday. (1 day until my tests...)
Today is Tuesday; the day of my tests at the breast center and also my 51st birthday.  I'm not going to lie, I have quite a few butterflies doing a dance in my stomach this morning.  My appointment is at 11:00 and I have to drive about an hour and a half to get there.  I am putting this all in God's hands and pray that it is His will that all will be OK and also that I will not have have undergo a needle biopsy; that really does scare me.
I took an Ativan about an hour before I arrived to have my tests done, so upon arriving I wasn't too nervous.  The facility is gorgeous and very inviting.  The staff were all so friendly and thoughtful concerning your feelings.  As I looked around I saw women of all ages and many also with their husbands in tow.  I could tell that Robby was feeling a bit nervous (and had been for days...).  He would have to sit in the waiting room while I had all of my tests done; he did not like that.  I went to the back, got my robe on and was led to another lovely waiting area.  This one was facing a huge window where a beautiful fountain was flowing; I was still feeling more peaceful and calm than I ever had in the past.  I kept my phone in my pocket so I could at least keep Robby informed of what was going on, since he could not be back there with me.  I had all of my mammogram films done and one of the three doctors (breast radiologists...) was reviewing all of my previous films and reports from years past.  I was lead back to the waiting area and not too long afterwards called back for my ultrasound.  The technician, again, was a very friendly woman who got me very comfortable before beginning the procedure.  I was afraid to look at the screen, afraid that I might see something that I didn't want to be there.  After a few minutes, I finally glanced at it and the technician said she could not find anything (although they had all "felt" the lump that was marked with an "x"...).  She finished up the procedure, left me in there to rest and returned with the doctor.  He sat down on a stool and began to talk to me about the suspicious spot; asked me if I could feel it, felt it himself and then said..."Well, there is no mass there.  Actually we can't see anything on any of the mammogram films or the ultrasound. There is nothing to biopsy and I don't believe an MRI is in order.  All breasts are different and I believe that you are fine; are you comfortable with this opinion?"  OMG!!!  Was I comfortable with it?!  Are you kidding me?  That is exactly what I had prayed for!  I told him that indeed, I trusted his evaluation.  I agreed to continue with my monthly self-examinations and come back next year for my check-up.  I believe I was still in a daze as I was lead to my locker to get my clothes and then to a changing room.  I knelt down and thanked God for his mercy and grace and then I sent a text message out to my husband in the waiting room.  I told him what the doctor had said to me and followed that with...PRAISE BE TO GOD and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"  When I had finished dressing, I walked out to find my sweet husband sitting in a far corner and as I walked toward him, I could see the tears falling down his face.  He simply drew me to him and placed his arms tightly around me.  We were both so very thankful that God had shown his mercy and grace to me.  During this whole ordeal, a friend told me to think of this as part of my "Spiritual Journey", where God is teaching me to walk by faith, not by sight.  Truly is has been a spiritual journey for me, for I shall never be the same...
                               "Our faith if NOT in the wisdom of man, but in the POWER OF GOD"
                                                        1 Corinthians 2:5

What About Valentine's Day...And True Love?

Robby and I had our first date to a church Valentine's Day Banquet at our church when we were in high school.  We were so young and only thought we knew what love was all about back then.  This May we will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary.  Many Valentine's Days have come and gone.  I have been showered with presents ranging from jewelry to flowers and candy to fabulous trips.  However, this Valentine's Day my precious husband gave me just what I wanted and needed...HIM,  for the day.

I have been having a pretty rough week and as it went on, I suppose Robby could see that absolutely nothing material he could give me would make a difference.  That's when he announced that he would take the entire day off and spend it with me.  For some of you, this may be an every day occurrence, but for us it is not.  Although he had worked very late two nights (getting home at 3 am that very morning...), he got up early just to spend the day with me.  Oh, we didn't do anything extravagant compared to things we have done in the past.  We ate lunch out, went to an afternoon movie and then spent a quiet evening at home.  And this was bliss.  This was love; true love.  To be so in tune with another person's feelings that you know exactly what they need and when they need it is a quality very few people possess.  That is why this guy is my "Soul Mate".  I thank God every day for placing him in my life.

 LOVE is patient, LOVE is kind, IT does not envy, IT does not boast, IT is not proud.  IT is not rude, IT is not self-seeking, IT is not easily angered, IT keeps no record of wrongs.  LOVE does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  IT always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
                                                               LOVE NEVER FAILS!

                                                TRUE LOVE...If you have it, cherish it!


Books I Am Reading Or Have Read: Karin Slaughter's, "Criminal"

It had been a while since I had read a Karin Slaughter novel and actually forgotten what a great suspense writer she is.  A friend of mine was reading, "Criminal" and I added it to my Kindle , hoping to get to it one day.  Well, that day was during the holidays and WOW!

Karin Slaughter is one of those writers who captures you and pulls you into a story line so quickly that you are trapped and can hardly put the book down.  And just when you think you know what is going to happen, she will surprise you with twists and turns right up the the very end.  And after you have flipped that last page, you find yourself sitting there saying to yourself..."Now THAT was a good book; a REALLY GOOD BOOK!

Upon reading and completing "Criminal", I felt just that way.  When I started reading it, I wasn't really sure where the story was going because the present day kept skipping back to the past where it was evident the two were bound to collide.  And collide they did in a most unexpected way!  I don't want to ruin the story for you so I will just have to say, READ IT YOURSELF!  If you like a good suspense novel, you will not be disappointed!

What am I reading now??  "The Thornbirds"!   I Cannot wait to finish it and share my thoughts with you on this older novel that I am absolutely LOVING!

                                                                     HAPPY READING!


It's Official...I'm Hooked...On "Downton Abbey"!

This past fall I was having lunch with some friends and one of them asked if we had ever watched a television show called, "Downton Abbey"; she said it was quite popular and thought it would definitely be up for some awards.  Hmmm...I had never heard of it and neither had one of our other friends.  I didn't think much more about it until soon afterwards, when I began to hear small rumblings about this newly popular show and that did it...I had to see what all the fuss was for myself!

It has only been a week since I downloaded that first episode from Downton Abbey, Season 1 and before I knew it, I had completed the entire first season and was already on Season 2!  There really WAS something to all the hoopla over this show.  If you are a fan of "Pride and Prejudice" or "Jane Eyre" or absolutely anything from that era (or English literature...), you will fall in LOVE with this show.

The show is set in English countryside and the first season begins just as the Titanic has sunk.  The story line revolves around a family with three daughters who live at Downton Abbey.  It is during the time period where women have no rights and a male heir is necessary...this is a continuous theme throughout the show.  Lord, ladies, servants running the estate and their lives, British accents and humor, the serving of tea in the afternoons,  proper dress and etiquette for the time, ...there is truly nothing I dislike about this show and now wonder why I had never heard of it before!  Perhaps that is because it airs on PBS.  The show is now in its third season and I am still devouring bits and pieces of Season 2 every morning with my breakfast!  It's one of those shows that you are compelled to continue watching but at the same time hate to finish up because you will then go through withdrawals when there are no more episodes to watch.  If you have never been introduced to "Downton Abbey" then consider this your introduction (and invitation to watch...) to a wonderful time period television show that is very much worth your time to view.  It will take you away to a much simpler time in our eyes, but one will soon see that the folks from Downton Abbey find life just as difficult as we often times do; call it a different perspective from a different time...whatever you choose to call it, just give it a try...OH, but DO start from the beginning!  Now, I'm off for my second cup of morning coffee while I begin another episode...


Hello, Mardi Gras!

Saturday, the weather was warm, the sun was out and it was time for me to put the finishing touches on my home for the already in full swing, Mardi Gras season here in Louisiana...


My little purple, green and gold Mardi Gras flag greets you at my home; along with these pansies that are appropriately named, "The Mardi Gras Mix".

        Festive gold glasses, overflowing with colorful beads,  adorn my dining room table.

Both mantles in my home have been transformed from Christmas red and green to Mardi Gras Purple, green and gold...

A couple of years ago I found these cute Mardi Gras yoga frogs at a local gift shop.  They are one of my favorite seasonal decorations...they make me smile.

A local artist makes these wonderful painted wine bottles that are lighted; just perfect for the season!

                      Ahhh...It really IS true what they say, "THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME"
                                                          Especially if it's LOUISIANA!