OH, IT’S YOU AGAIN!?

Yes, it’s true. I’m back at Weight Watchers for the fourth, and I hope the last time. It’s not that I don’t like to attend the meetings and keep a running record of my food intake, but come on. It seems to me I’ve heard this song before.

My mother and I attended when this organization first began, way back when I was in my forties; now I’m in my mid-eighties. Oh, where did the time go? And why didn’t I keep that weight off right from the beginning? Those first years we had to eat liver and spinach once a week, and though I don’t remember many of the dietary rules, I do remember how much my children hated liver!  I tried to make it taste better by adding bacon to it, but that only encouraged them to hide pieces of the brown chunks under their plates, and at the same time deposit pieces of the canned spinach into their glasses of milk. They were pretty creative, and I didn’t say anything about the “leftovers.” I felt like doing the same thing.

This time the “rules” are much better, and so is the food. Tracking the food points has never been a favorite pastime for me, but now I get to do it on my phone with a WW app. Here’s a couple of” before and after” pictures of me in these last few months. 

I didn’t have a huge amount of weight to lose, but even fifteen extra pounds pushed a lot of my clothes to the back of the closet, and having to lie on my back on the bed to zip up my jeans isn’t the best way to put on your clothes.

During those early years, I wrote and published four books that had to do with losing weight and getting into shape: DIARY OF A FAT HOUSEWIFE; THE JOGGING HOUSEWIFE; THE EXODUS DIET PLAN; AND MURDER ON THE FAT EXPRESS.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the excerpts from my last one over the next weeks or months. It would not only encourage me to keep on keeping on, but it might encourage you, too, if you’re trying to drop a few (or many) pounds. So here we go:

How do you feel about mysteries? Do you watch them on TV? Do you check your favorite mystery writers’ books out of the library, or add them to your I Pad? I do; and maybe you do too, because it’s fun to try your hand and mind, at problem solving. Well, we have a mystery on our hands (and thighs) that sometimes seems unsolvable. This roll of fat around the waist–how did it get there? And I’m sure those lumps and bumps on my hips aren’t bruises. And my jowls? I know I need to lose weight; but how? How to solve this problem–again? Is there an answer?

MURDER ON THE FAT EXPRESS presents some mysteries and solutions, but the final answer rests with you–and me. We are going to become detectives over the next few weeks. We may not be TV  or even our favorite literary sleuths, but we can solve and overcome the mystery of our overweight. We’ll look at the Evidence, the Plot, the Modus Operandi, and the Corpus Delicti. These and other line-ups will lead us to arresting and sentencing those bad habits and negative thoughts that have kept us in bondage. We don’t have to be victims any longer. I suggest you keep a food journal, or at least a few notes (for your eyes only) on your thoughts about each subject as we read this together. We need to be patient with ourselves. After all, we didn’t gain all these extra pounds in a day or even in a year or two.

Remember that our bodies are God’s gift to each of us, and we can begin to treat ourselves with respect and care.  So let’s not look at this as another diet; let’s choose our food carefully, limit the amount on our plates, and together, we can break the pound barrier.

So come along, my partner in solving “crime.”

I love a mystery!

“He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”  Ephesians 1:9,10 ESV

 

 

 

 

ANNIVERSARY MEMORIES…MAY 6, 2017

Our Sixty-Seventh Anniversary?

Can it really be?  We must be getting pretty old, my Cookie and me!

We met on New Year’s Eve 1947, and for me, it was practically love at first sight. Lester Earl Cook, Jr., but all his friends called him, Cookie.  I called him that too, until he became a pastor and thought it didn’t sound respectful enough. Since then, he’s been Les to me, and Lester to many other of his friends and family. Of course, he’s been Dad to six wonderful children, and PopPops to 13 grands and to 5, going on 7 greats!  What a wonderful, busy, sometimes messy life we’ve had together. I’m inserting a few pictures to show us along the way, and hope in the anniversary remembrance, tell a little bit about these 67 years that we’ve shared as husband and wife.

My Mother introduced us to each other, and although our dating was not consistent in the beginning, my move away from Denver to California, and his renewed love for me (via phone conversations and letters (which we still have) grew to engagement and marriage.  The engagement became official when he hopped a train to California to visit me and my family in Culver City.  A highlight of our time together was a date to the Hollywood Paladium where we danced until almost dawn.  I felt pretty special in my electric blue satin dress, and of course, he was always dressed to a tea!  The next time I saw him after he left California was my trip to Denver to attend a Denver University dance. I stayed with my father and his wife, and it was during that “visit” that I not only received my beautiful diamond ring, but a month later, the wedding band to go with it!

It was a small, intimate wedding, but we’ve learned over time that a big, expensive wedding doesn’t necessarily make for a long time marriage.  We didn’t have a honeymoon as we both had to go to work on the following Monday. But that’s okay. Over the years, we’ve had wonderful trips to Hawaii, Europe, Greece and Turkey; and I had a trip to China.  We’ve also enjoyed road trips to many states and up, down and around California.

In 1951, we had our first child, Gregory Allan; then every two years we added another: Kathleen Ann, Daniel Thomas, Christine Marie, and Rebekah Joan.  Six years after Becky was born, God blessed us with yet another little girl, Barbara Joy.  We had most of the ups and downs of most large families through childhood and the teen years. I remember when one of our younger children began high school, the school counsellor said to me, “Oh, no, not another Cook!”  It seems a couple of our previous children had added some exciting moments to the student population! They each grew up to be fine men and women who not only live abundant lives, they love and live for the Lord Jesus Christ. And those with children  are teaching theirs to also trust God with their lives. Here’s an old picture of all of us in our backyard. Many husbands,wives and children have been added to the family picture by now, but we very seldom all get together in one place any more.

Some friends have asked us how we’ve managed to have such a long marriage. We believe the primary reason is that we both received Christ as our Savior when we were in our early 20’s.  We’ve faithfully attended church where we not only minister to and serve others; but we are also cared for and loved by our church family. Being members of a Bible teaching church isn’t an option; it’s God’s will for our lives as believers. Our children learned this from infancy and have continued to reach out to serve, and grow in the knowledge of God through being with others of like faith.

Of course, another very important ingredient for a long marriage (and a happy one) is to love one another. I think as the years pass, and we are now of an “advanced age” and “elderly folks”, we have a deeper, stronger love than we ever had as a younger couple.  We laugh a lot; we enjoy our home and our times together. We like to eat out every week, usually either Mexican or Chinese, and we both love to read.  We don’t have to be in each other’s presence every moment of the day; we’re comfortable tending to our own interests as well as doing things together.

One of our favorite things to do is visit with our friends who live in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We have so much fun with them; and of course, the scenery as well as the shopping can’t be beat.  What the future holds for us is in God’s capable Hands. We live each day, knowing that we have an Eternal Home with Him.  God has already appointed the time, so we will live as best we can until He calls us to Heaven.

So as we step out, hopefully into another year of good health and a happy marriage, we celebrate this Sixty-Seventh year with gratitude and joy!

IT’S A GOOD THING

“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

MY HOPE CHEST

I can remember the day way back in 1948 when my mother took me into Graham’s Furniture Store in downtown Englewood, Colorado to pick out my graduation present. It was a custom “back in the day” for girls to begin to save up things for the day they would marry…a “Hope Chest.” Mine was not just an ordinary chest, it was a genuine cedar chest, filled with most wonderful fragrance of natural cedar wood. I’m posting a picture of one that I took off the internet just so some of you who’ve never heard of a cedar chest would get an idea of their appearance. Mine was a light blonde wood, so smooth and beautiful, and it scented my bedroom for hours after opening it.  I began to fill it with embroidered dish towels (that I did myself) with little pictures for each day of the week. My mother added a few doilies (another picture in case you don’t know what a doily is; my grandmother crocheted the green one); and I think there were some pillowcases and a starter set of sterling silverware.

I didn’t collect much because I was married 2 years later. Whatever happened to the cedar chest, I don’t remember now; but my hopes were fulfilled in marrying my high school sweetheart and quickly using up all the lovely scented things in a very few years. That hope chest had been moved from Englewood to Culver City, California, and then back to Denver. I believe that when we moved from Colorado to California in 1952 I still had the chest. Sometime after several other moves from Southern to Northern California, plus adding a baby to our family every two years, we found the chest was taking up too much room. Cribs and bunk beds filled up the space in the house as well as the “hope” in my heart.

How blessed we have been to be married for 67 years, raise six children, and see our wonderful family grow from thirteen grands to seven greats (two of those will make their appearances this Fall.)  But it was shortly after that 1952 move to California that I found what true hope is. Or rather Who true Hope is: “Christ in you, the hope of glory; Jesus, who is our hope. ” There are more than a hundred references to the hope that we have in the Lord. It’s not a hope that will fade after going through many washings or the heat of a dryer; nor is it a hope that can be bent and twisted in the garbage disposer (that’s what happened to several of my sterling spoons when the disposer was new to me). Yikes!  Neither is it a hope that loses its stitches when stretched to cover a scratched table. We can having a living hope, not only in our chest and heart, but a hope that will carry us through loss, disappointment, fear, trials and testings, and even death itself!

I decided to write about this today after reading the first chapter of Colossians. Verse 5 says, “…because of the hope laid up for you in heaven…” Somehow that just thrilled my soul to know that our Lord Jesus Christ has “laid up” hope for me in heaven. This is a living hope, an eternal hope. It’s not “Oh, I hope so!” It’s a sure thing, this hope in the Lord. So I encourage you, whoever takes the time to read this, that this isn’t all there is! Whatever you’re going through isn’t going to be the end of you! You don’t ever have to feel hopeless! Christ has gone before, and He’s waiting for you with an eternal “Hope Chest” full of glory and joy that will keep you as a sweet smelling savor to Him, and an eternity of pleasure and joy in His Presence.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”  Hebrews 6:19-20

NOW THAT’S A GOOD THING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I REMEMBER MAMA”

As I’ve been going through old photos during an exceptionally heavy rain season in Northern California, I’ve come across pictures that remind me of some really “Good Things.”  One highlight was the time and times that my mother (I never called her Mama; she was always Mother) and I spent together at a Mt. Hermon’s Christian Writers’ Conference.

I’m not sure of the date, but it was either late 70’s or early 80’s. Mother and I had both had our first books published by Accent Publications–hers was a romance-suspense novel, and mine was a non-fiction book of humor. With this early success, we were eager to learn more about the writing game. And it encouraged us no end when we were invited to be at the signing party set up for all the published authors attending! What a thrill. Could this be what Heaven was like? Rooms full of Christian writers? We sat at mealtimes with authors we’d only heard about, and many that we had read.

 We attended classes about fiction, nonfictionwp-image-365467320jpg.jpg, and trwp-image-2059485891jpg.jpgwp-image-1749044078jpg.jpgavel writing. We “hobnobbed” with the successful and the struggling authors. We were hooked. What a fabulous place to be, in the Santa Cruz mountains for the week leading up to Easter. The last day, our entire conference met together for worship and communion. What a good thing!

I have to add that my mother and I had a great relationship that continued until she died two weeks shy of 99 years old.  We continued to write on a daily basis, and decided to start a writers’ critique group, “The Write Bunch” which continues even today. Oh, what fun we had that night at the signing party. People actually wanted our autographs and even bought some of our books. They were proudly displayed in the Mt. Hermon book shop, and remained there for many months after the conference.  I want to say at this point that my Aunt Mab Graff Hoover was our initial inspiration. She wrote and published many Christian books. Both of her children have also written and published as well as one of their mates. And on it goes, even to grandchildren.

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Mother and I  attended quite a few writing conferences over the next few years. She continued to write, mostly Biblical novels, even though she only had the one book published. I was so proud of her determination over the years. She loved the Lord Jesus with all her heart; and she loved writing stories about women of the Bible. She encouraged me to keep writing, and was always my chief cheer leader.

But we also attended other women’s conferences: Retreats at churches throughout Northern California, and we even had a lovely meeting in Monterey gathered around a swimming pool. We went to Oregon to a Women’s retreat, and had the privilege to attend Mt. Hermon two other times; one a presentation of my 100,000th copy of “Diary of a Fat Housewife,” and another an evening as speaker to a large gathering of women from a Southern California mega church.  Mother was always there to pray and mingle with those in attendance.

All these times were so much fun because, although I was the primary speaker, Mother often gave her testimony, a story that was both dramatic and humorous. She always left the audience with a cliff-hanger, drawing them back to the next meeting to discover the answer to questions she had left them wondering about.

Today after looking at so many pictures with the memories they bring, I’ve decided to write about some of those other “Good Things” in the weeks ahead.  I hope my sorting through the past will encourage you to remember the good things in your life.  We don’t want to go back to live in “The Good Old Days,” but even God reminded His people Israel to remember…remember what He had done for them; remember their heritage; remember to be obedient; remember to be thankful.

As the Easter season approaches, this is a good time for us to remember how the Son of God came to earth and lived as a man. He went through every kind of temptation and test beyond what we will ever face, but He never sinned. He never doubted His Father in Heaven. He never gave into anxiety or rebellion. And if I remember correctly, the Apostle Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God; that Christ lives in us; that we even have the mind of Christ. So knowing and believing the Word of God, we can also know that whatever comes our way, the Holy Spirit is present to uphold us and to give us hope.

Well, this started out as a good memory, and seems to have ended up as a mini-sermon (sorry about that).  It began as I  remember my Mother and the strong faith she had in Jesus Christ. That puts a smile on my face and the knowledge that one day I’ll see her again.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil. 1:6)

KEEP LOOKING UP!

Life isn’t always what we want or expect it to be. We have disappointments, pain, anxieties and even tragedies that can turn our worlds upside down.

BUT GOD. . .the Bible says. . .”works all things for the good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28)

Does that mean we don’t suffer? That we aren’t anxious or fearful? No, but it does mean that even in those most difficult times, God is working on our behalf. He has promised to never leave us or let us go. We have to remember that truth; and make it the abiding principle of our daily lives. That’s why I’ve begun a new theme for this new year. I see so much confusion, anger, hopelessness and depression in the news, and even often spreading into the lives of Christians. We’re human. We live here. We are part of our culture.  But we are citizens of Heaven; we have a new life in Christ. He has transformed us and given us an eternal hope. That’s what I want these short messages to relay to you. Remember that song, “This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through.”  But as we’re passing through in the years God has entrusted to us, we have the opportunity and privilege to enjoy the “Good Things” God is doing in and around us. I guess I’m especially aware of this as my life is nearer the end than even the middle, and I want to enjoy the gifts of God in the midst of the dailies! I want you to as well. Those good things “keep us young and strong as an eagle.” (Psalm 103:5)

So whether you’re a parent or a grandparent, young or old, a teacher or a student–you matter to God so much that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sins and mine. He has many good gifts for us, and we just might miss them if we’re not looking.

For weeks it’s been pouring much-needed rain in Northern California. Not many days have been sunny, and there’s a danger of depression when the clouds hang dark and heavy. But even if the day’s events are gloomy, even if you see the future with no bright light at the end of the tunnel, God is still the Giver of every good and perfect gift.

Let’s determine to look for them. It may be just the sight of birds at the feeder, the smile of a stranger at the market, the coo of a baby, the ability to see,  hear, or speak–these can be things we often take for granted.

Yesterday I had the joy and opportunity to help out a dear friend who needed a ride to the doctor’s office. That was a “Good Thing” for both of us. We enjoyed the ride to and from, and stopped to have lunch and talk some more. I was more blessed, I’m sure, than she was. She’s a widow, a cancer survivor and an encouragement to many.  She loves Jesus, and she loves people. On the way into the restaurant, she stopped to tell a passing woman how pretty she looked in her bright blue coat. Then as I pulled the car around to pick her up in a downpour, she couldn’t get her umbrella to fold into place. Suddenly, from out of the rain, a woman appeared and not only got the umbrella into shape, she helped my friend into the car.  Smiles all around!

That was a good thing! And for me, just this morning as I am writing this, two of my daughters called: one to tell me that if I or her dad needed anything today, we shouldn’t get out and drive. She would gladly pick up whatever we need and bring it to us! A few minutes later, another called just to talk on a rare day off from work.

Good Things!

I hope that today after reading this, you’ll look for some of the good things God is bringing your way. To cement it in your mind, won’t you leave a comment at the end of this blog to let me, and others reading it what gift, however small, you see as a “Good Thing.”

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ( James 1:17)

 

FROM MY JOURNAL….NEW YEAR’S EVE 2016

Well, Lord, this is the last day of yet another year, a year that I’m sure I received many blessings and gifts that I took for granted.  I’m sorry about that, Lord. I know that even the act of my writing this, seeing it, breathing, and feeling the early morning warmth of the furnace are all gifts from you. I open my eyes to a husband who loves me and, even now, I hear him preparing for our traditional Saturday morning breakfast of bacon and eggwp-image-394450654jpg.jpegs. These blessings are some of the “ordinary things” that I often neglect to notice. You are the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, yet you gift me with the “extraordinary” every day.

As this 86th year of my life closes and the 87th begins, I put my trust in You and await each new day with wonder and gratefulness. There will no doubt be moments of joy, laughter, and even tears. There will be days of bright sunshine and comradery; but life consists in so much more than sunlight and brightness.

There will also be days, maybe months of sadness, pain and grief, as well as times of confusion and even doubt. This, too, is but the unfolding of life on planet earth.

You know it all! You lived it all, Lord Jesus when You, the Lord of Glory, God of very God, took upon Your Holy Majesty the form of a human being, wearing the frail body of mankind.  Yes, You showed me how life works, how the Father is always present and holding His own close to His heart. You showed me how along with joy, trouble and heartache, You strengthen the souls of those who live and die trusting in You.

You didn’t just tell us to “Trust in God,” or to “Hang in there.” You didn’t once give the idea that there is no hope for change as the characters on my favorite TV show repeat, “It is what it is.”  There’s always hope for change, for better days ahead.

You faced the devil head on; You touched the leper’s hand; You held children in Your arms; You wept when your friend died; You gave hope to a man on the cross beside You.

You forgave those who rejected You, beat and spit upon You, and finally pounded nails into Your hands and feet.

That morning when You walked out of  Your own grave, You proved that regardless of fear, pain and grief there is joy, life and hope.  You left this temporary abode for a throne at the Father’s right hand. You give me hope for the year ahead–opportunities for my faith to grow.

There will be days when I grumble and complain, even forget Your promises; but you’ll never leave or forsake those who have come to the cross and trusted You as Lord and Savior.

So as we step into the unknown with You as our Friend walking beside us, I say with those of like faith, “Thank You for the year that has passed, and for the New Year that begins tomorrow.

“Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

 

THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

My hubby and I have been sick for the past week, coughing, sneezing, blowing! Not  wanting to infect family and friends with what some unknowing person passed on to us, we called off our Family Feast for today, and instead woke up to a very unusual “Christmas Day.”  Alone!

The tree has fewer ornaments;The lights are mostly dim

The gifts area clearly absent; All we have is HIM.

We’re sick with colds and coughing; we’re  clinging to a limb.

The Kleenex box is empty. All we have is HIM

Our children are not with us; We could feel very grim.,

Because “Christmas” is not here today. All we have is HIM.

HIM!  Jesus Christ IS here today; He’ll always be our Joy.

We celebrate that King Jesus was once a little boy!

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“Jesus Christ, though in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2)

 

May your Christmas and every day in the New Year be blessed with the awareness of God’s Presence through the Spirit of Jesus Christ!

                                                               Even so, Come Lord Jesus!  

 

I changed  a line  that I used  to rhyme  phlegm with Him.:) sorry about the  faux pas…but it did get a few laughs and raised  eyebrows  from family members!

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