Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Don't Waste Any Time

Frances McDormand as Fern
Today I finally watched the acclaimed movie, Nomadland. I'm always a day late and a dollar short, it seems, when trying to stay up on the most recent social media items, but I try. I'd heard about it from my youngest daughter and made a note to watch as soon as possible. 

The movie won best picture in the 2021 Oscars and Frances McDormand did an excellent job in her role as lead character, Fern. Following the economic collapse of Empire, a small town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off exploring life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

I found myself in a pensive and introspective mood as I watched. This hard working woman, recently widowed, left everything she knew and loved due to circumstances beyond her control. She was a seeker on a journey to find herself. 

As I watched, I immediately became entrenched. As an avid camper, hiker, and backpacker, I loved all the beautiful scenery in the movie and paired with beautiful music, it really touched my heart. 

Watching as Frances/Fern traveled in her van from place to place, I was reminded, the Earth is not our home. We're all just wandering here on this planet and the majority of us have an inner sense that we don't really belong here - that's because God has placed the desire for eternity in our hearts. 

Throughout the movie, Fern meets one person after another on her life's path. Some become good friends and others are just casual acquaintances. But in every instance, each person was meant to touch her life in some small way or, vice versa. 

There was one particular scene where Fern and another woman are talking. The woman tells Fern about her husband buying a beautiful sailboat and how he couldn't wait to retire so he could enjoy it, but ten days before he retired, he died. The woman admonished Fern saying, "Don't waste any time." And when she said that, I felt an arrow pierce my heart. 

Time. So valuable and so precious. Yet, every single day, we waste it. Why? With such a priceless commodity, we should be wise about our expenditures. 

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I stopped wearing a watch. I didn't want to know what time it was any more. I wanted to focus on being present in the moment. In the past, I'd let time slip away but from that day forward, I resolved, no more. 

Daily, I push myself to the limit, often to my detriment. In fact, my husband and children often tell me I don't know how to rest. My husband, Phil, is always encouraging me to partake of Dolce Far Niente, the art of doing nothing. He says it's okay, but I feel if I do, I'm wasting precious time. Only those who've gone through cancer can truly grasp that concept. 

A Facebook friend send me a beautiful painting the other day. At the bottom of the painting are the words, "Sometimes you have to rest. The world can wait!" It's a reminder that sometimes I need to slow down. The Bible reminds me, too, "Be still...and know that He is God." Being still is hard for me, but I'm trying. 

There's a big difference between resting and wasting time, between being still and frittering away the moments. 

It can be difficult to find a balance, but we must. 

Oh to be a nomad, wandering from place to place, with no responsibilities or encumbrances! 

Though we're tethered to this Earth right now, there's a constant tugging at our hearts for home. That's why we can't waste even a second. We must use our stories to point others to Christ and that way, we won't have wasted any time.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Little Things

The day started out bright and early, earlier than I'd intended. 5 a.m. isn't my idea of a "normal" wake time, but today, it happened that way. So I jumped out of bed, put my phone on speaker so I could listen to a sermon, and hopped into the shower. (I'm a multi-tasker,  a vice I've had since birth - typical type A, you know the drill.)

After showering, I stood, wrapped in a towel, staring at myself in the mirror. "Who are you and what are you doing here" I asked myself. Analyzing my face, I realized the number of wrinkles there had multiplied. No doubt about it, I was getting old. 

63, by most standards, isn't really old, but some mornings, I beg to differ. Bones creak and muscles ache and yet, I'm thankful to be able to feel them. And as we age, body parts start to need special attention, most recently my left eye.

Around 2008, I began to notice cloudiness in that eye. It grew more and more bothersome until I went to see the ophthalmologist who said I'd developed cataracts in both eyes. In 2011, I had surgery to remove the cataract in my left eye and insert an artificial lens. In 2012, I had the same done for my right eye. Then, in early 2020, the outer edge of the left eye became clouded and I thought another cataract had formed. Once again, I made a trip to the doctor and he told me I had been leaking vitreous fluid. I'd need another surgery called YAG. That surgery would involve a laser and I was assured it wouldn't hurt, so I had it done. For a couple of months, it seemed to have cleared things up and then, I began to have eye pain and loss of vision. Another trip to the doctor revealed I'd continued to have issues with leaking vitreous fluid and needed another surgery called an Anterior Vitrectomy. In March 2021, I had that done and have been recovering from it since. 

Months before the YAG surgery, during my prayer time, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. He whispered, "You're going to lose the sight in your eye, but don't be afraid." When I heard that message, I questioned whether or not I was actually hearing from God or if, perhaps, I had some underlying fear that was expressing itself. Pushing the thought to the back of my mind, I'd almost forgotten about it, until 2 days after the anterior vitrectomy when everything went pitch black in that eye. Instead of freaking out, which I would have normally done, I remembered the word I'd received. I chose not to be afraid but to wait and see what happened. Gradually, over the next week, my eyesight got a little better each day. First it was like looking through a thick, dark curtain. Then, it was like the curtain had been changed to a sheer brown one. A day or two later, it was like looking through a hazy, gold curtain and then, everything was just fuzzy but noticeably clearer. I was so thankful! The doctor had warned, before I was sedated for surgery, that there was a small possibility that I could lose vision in that eye but he hoped that wouldn't be the case.

Since eye surgery, I've had to shield my eye from bright light and foreign objects. Daily, I've followed the medication regimen of 4 different eye drops four times a day. It's been tedious and frustrating, but anything to protect my eyesight is worthwhile.

I stare at myself In the bathroom mirror. Leaning in close, I notice my eyes look weak partially from the bright light and partially from the lack of makeup. It's been over a month since I've been able to wear eye makeup. That may not seem like a big deal to some, but for the woman with sparse lashes, mascara can be a lifesaver. 

Today was the day I was going to try it. At my appointment last week, I'd asked the doctor if it was okay to resume using eye makeup and he assured me it would be fine, so why was I hesitant to bring the mascara wand close to my eyeball? 

Fear paralyzed me for a few moments before I had enough courage to move the mascara wand lightly across the lashes of my left eye. Slowly and methodically, I applied a light coat of black mascara. I'd made sure to purchase a new tube at the drugstore in anticipation of this day. (They say you're supposed to discard mascara every 3 months, so I even took a Sharpie marker and wrote the date on the tube so I'd know when to ditch it.)

When I'd completed my makeup regimen, I looked in the mirror and smiled.

There I was! I'd missed mascara more than I realized. 

Isn't it funny how the little things in our lives seem to matter so much? The things we can control seem to help us understand who we are and why. But there are so many things we can't control, and those things tend to make us wonder and worry. God doesn't want us to worry, even over the little things. 

In the Bible, we're told many, many times not to worry or be afraid. Why? I think God wanted to emphasize that worry accomplishes nothing and fear can keep us paralyzed. He wants us to enjoy freedom and peace. 

Little things, like my mascara, remind me I can only enhance the beauty God's already given me and even without mascara, He sees me as His beautiful daughter. 

As I slip the tube of mascara back into my makeup bag, I hear a quote in my mind - "Vanity, thy name is woman." And you know, I'd have to agree.

The Bible says, "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

I'd much rather be known as a woman who fears the Lord than a woman who looks good on the outside and is hollow on the inside. 

It's always the little things...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Where do the wounded go?

 

Where Do They Go?

By Bonnie Annis

 

Where do the wounded go when the cut is fresh and deep? 

Where do they hide to keep others from tasting the bleeding?

Where do they go when healing begins, or when it's too slow in coming? 

Where do they go? 

Where do they go when the wound has mended? 

When scars once raw no longer weep? 

Where do they go when the pain has eased but the trauma remains? 

Where do they go? 

And when the scar is old but still reminds, where do they go? 

I'll tell you. 

They go where they've always gone, into that dark, quiet place. 

The deep space inside where warriors live. 

The place of solitude and strength. 

The place of sorrow and tears. 

The place of resilience and hope. 

That's where they go. 

How do I know? 

It's where I live. 

Day in and day out. 

Until cancer came, it was a secret place. 

But then, I received permission to enter. 

That’s when I discovered I was not alone. 

There were others. 

Invisible to me, but they were there. 

Kindred spirits.  

We were the wounded warrior women. 

The ones without choice in the matter.

But we bore our scars with dignity. 

 © Bonnie Annis 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

So I did a thing

So I did a thing today. I don't know why I did it, but I did. 

For years, I've been struggling to find the right prostheses. Either they've been too heavy, too uncomfortable, or too something. None of them have felt right and believe me, I have quite the collection thanks to annual insurance benefits and lots of out of pocket dollars! (Fake boobs are very expensive - normally between $400-$600 each and I have to have two!)

I don't like to have unnecessary things in my house and this morning, as I was Spring cleaning, I noticed all the unused prostheses. I have boxes of them on a shelf in my closet and drawers full of them in my dresser. What a shame, I thought, to have all those silicone boobs and not use them on a regular basis. It seemed like such a waste. 

But silicone prostheses disintegrate over time so they always have to be replaced and the breast surgeon warned me, right after bilateral mastectomies, that if I didn't replace the weight of my breasts, my spine would suffer as my body curved forward in a protective measure. So I bought the boobs every year when the insurance company notified me it was time. And my collection grew, and grew, and grew. 

It's been 7 years now and I have 7 sets of silicone boobs as well as some lighter weight poly micro bead ones and some homemade poly fiberfill ones but there have been problems with all of them, mostly with the weight. They're either too heavy or too light and then, there's the size issue. I have them from a giant B cup down to a double A. 

And that's why I have gone flat most days, especially when home. When I go out, however, I try to wear prostheses so I look feminine. During the winter, I don't worry so much. My puffy down coat and scarf camouflage my breastlessness but in the summer, you can't hide. 

Today, I got to thinking - what if I could make a camisole with built in boobs - one that was comfortable and light weight? Would I wear something like that on a daily basis? I thought I probably would so I pulled out 2 camisoles, my sewing machine, thread, scissors, and a big bag of microbeads and got busy. I was going to figure out how to make this work. 

I'd seen an advertisement a few years back from a fellow breast cancer survivor who had struggled with the same dilemma and had formed her own product and home based company but I wasn't willing to pay $150 for one product when I could make my own for a few dollars. 

Taking the two camisoles, I cut the top front from one of them and placed it over the front of the other. Pinning the cut pattern in place, I began to sew. Within a few minutes, I'd stitched around the bodice of the complete camisole and had adhered the pattern in place leaving an opening for slipping in the microbead prostheses I'd make next. 

Microbeads are nasty little suckers! They stick to everything and they're so tiny the static electricity makes them next to impossible to work with, but I did it! I got 2 breast forms made, filled, and inserted into my makeshift camisole. 

Holding the project up, I looked it over - front and back. It looked great and it had been so simple to make. 

Next came the chest test. Slipping it over my head and pulling the camisole into place, I was surprised at how lightweight and comfortable it was. Maybe I was on to something!!! 

I put my shirt on over the top of the camisole and buttoned it up. Turning side to side, I liked the profile my new boobs gave and there was no back pain from the weight of heavy silicone. 

What a relief to finally have something I could wear on a daily basis. I was so proud of myself. 

Rounding up all the silicone boobs, I loaded a box to donate to survivors who don't have the financial ability to purchase prostheses. My hope is that those boobs will find good homes and meet the needs of women who've battled cancer. 

Now that I've freed up tons of space, I feel so much lighter - emotionally and physically :)

So I did a thing, a useful thing and I'm so glad I did.



Monday, March 1, 2021

New month, new beginning


Today's the first day of a new month and I must say, I'm thankful. It felt so good to bid adieu to January and February. Neither of those months had been kind to me. 

I'm still sick. It's going on three weeks now and this junk just won't let go. I am so ready to be over it! Now that the round of antibiotics and prednisone are complete, I'm hoping and praying I don't take a turn for the worst. I'm continuing to doctor myself at home - taking lots of vitamins, Elderberry, and Tylenol. I'm also trying to get in some good fruits and veggies each day to pump up my immune system, but I can tell my body is weak and out of whack. Perhaps a good week long fast would do the trick...

It's another overcast day and it feels oppressive. Days like these make me feel sad and depressed. And since I know that, I try to counter with the weapon of joy. It's not easy to overcome depression with happiness but when you study the Word, there are so many verses about joy, it's hard not to be happy. 

Psalm 5:11 "But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You." What a powerful verse! Let all who take refuge in YOU be glad. Yes, that's exactly what I have to remember - because I am hidden with Christ, I have His protection and love guarding over me - that's a good reason for rejoicing. 

My word for the year was SAVOR and as I've focused on tasting and seeing that the Lord is good, He's interposed the word JOY. So I guess I'm supposed to not only taste and see that He is good, I'm also to rejoice in Him. They do seem to fit well together, don't they? 

In this crazy, mixed up world it's a challenge to seek joy but I think that's exactly what God wants us to do. When we focus on all the mess, we miss the message. He's still on the throne and He's still in control. That should give us hope, peace, and joy. 

So on this first day of the month of March, I hope you'll be a joy seeker. If you take time to look, you can't miss it. It's all around us. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always and again, I say rejoice." Philippians 4:4 The Hebrew word for rejoice is gil. It means to be glad, be joyful, to spin around. And that makes me think about my childhood. 

One Easter, when I was about 5 or 6, I got a new dress with a crinoline skirt. It was so pretty and flouncy, after putting it on I began to twirl around the room. Spinning around and around, in my little black patent leather shoes and my white lace topped bobby socks, I felt special. I couldn't help but smile! I was so filled with joy! It was rare to get a fancy, store bought dresses back then. Mama made all of my clothes, but that Easter, I had a complete ensemble including white cotton gloves and straw hat. I'll admit, I probably looked like a silly, little girl twirling round and round but I didn't care! I was happy and wanted everyone to know it. 

I think that's kind of how God wants us to be - unabashedly joyful! Maybe that's why Paul says "rejoice." RE-JOICE...DO IT AGAIN! And again, and again...TWIRL!!!! Yes!!! Thanks, Lord. I've got it now. " Rejoice in the Lord always, and again...I say rejoice."




Friday, February 19, 2021

Sick, sick, and tired of being sick!

Get ready to hear me b---- and moan because I'm going to do it. 

A few weeks ago, while attempting to get out of the tub, I missed raising my leg high enough to get over the side of the tub and twisted my knee in the wrong direction. Barely able to walk, I knew something was really wrong so I went to see an orthopedic doctor and he did xrays and an MRI finding I'd torn my lateral meniscus, had two weirdly named cysts in my knee, and a severe case of arthritis. So...he put me in an off loading knee brace in an attempt to allow my knee to repair itself over the next 6 weeks and, he said, if that doesn't happen, I'll need arthroscopic surgery and if that doesn't work, then a total knee replacement which I definitely don't want to do. 

The knee brace has been helping but is very uncomfortable. When I take it off late in the day (when I have had all I can stands and I can't stands no more - insert Popeye voice over here), I immediately feel pain and realize it's probably inevitable that some kind of surgery is in my future.


 On top of all that, I got some kind of crud and I mean CRUD! I've never had anything like this before. It's a cross between flu, bronchitis, pnuemonia, a really bad sinus infection, and fibromyalgia all rolled into one. No, I don't think it's Covid, although it could be. I haven't been tested so I don't know for sure, but I'm hoping it isn't. I've been doing homeopathic remedies for the past 9 days and yesterday had the slightest feeling that I needed to go in to see the doc because I wasn't getting any better. 

I called the doc expecting to be worked in but that wasn't the case. The receptionist said they weren't seeing anyone with upper respiratory illnesses right now but she'd patch me through to the nurse. While on hold, I fumed. Why wouldn't the primary care doc see me when I was sick??? Oh yeah...COVID, duh!

The nurse was kind. She asked my symptoms and I told her I'd been experiencing pain in my lower back just over my lungs, headaches, fatigue, inability to smell, nasal congestion, sore throat, and mild fever. (Sounds like Covid, right?) So she talked to the doc and they called out some meds - a Z pack and prednisone - typical upper respiratory regimen. Before we hung up, she said, if you don't start feeling better after a few days on these, you need to go to the hospital. Gee thanks...

I'm a pretty tough cookie when it comes to pain. I've been through an awful lot in my life, but whatever this is has knocked me for a loop. I sure hope the meds help. I am so over this junk but I will say, in the famous words of a wise old woman I knew, it could have been worse. I could have ended up in the hospital on a ventilator or other life saving equipment so I'm thankful that's not the case. 

Okay. My b---- fest is over. 

On a side note, and a little positivity here, I have lost 5 pounds - probably because I haven't had an appetite and haven't been able to smell anything. You always have to look for that silver lining right?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Sowing fruit

Several weeks ago, my youngest daughter had told me about the Insta Cart service. She'd used it before and found it convenient so I thought I'd give it a try.

 I placed an order with Publix. Ordering was quick and easy. I was pleased and made a mental note to use them again. So today, when I'd been crazy busy and the day was half over, I realized I needed to go to the grocery store. We had no fresh produce in the house and anyone who knows me knows I love fresh fruit and veggies so I had to do something about that. 

Whipping out my phone, I pulled up the Insta Cart app and perused the various vendors. I didn't need a full grocery order, so I opted for Aldi. Although we'd only shopped there once or twice in the past, I wondered how their produce would be and decided to give them a try. 

After placing my order, I received a text stating my shopper's name was Dana. I shot her a quick message and thanked her for being willing to help me with my shopping today. She responded back quickly with the typical Chick Fil A type response, "My pleasure." I smiled and got back to work. 

About half an hour later, I got a message from Dana. She had made all my selections and was on her way. Within twenty minutes, she'd be at my house. 

Walking into my studio, I selected a painting I thought Dana might enjoy. I wrote a little note and slipped both the painting and the note in a large ziploc bag. I put the gift on top of the ice chest I'd placed outside the front door hoping Dana would see it as she opened the chest to slip our milk inside. 

When my personal shopper had pulled out of the driveway, I began the task of bringing the groceries inside. Dana had left all the bags neatly in a row out front on our porch. It was evident she'd taken good care of our food. 

 After I'd brought all the bags inside, I began the task of opening them and putting away the contents. I was surprised to find beautiful selections of fruit. There were no bruised or damaged items. I was pleased. 

Opening a box of strawberries, I picked up a ripe piece of fruit and held it in my hand. It was a gorgeous red, luscious berry, odd for this time of year - strawberries aren't in season here until May, but I knew the fruit was from another state, more than likely California. 

Next, I unpacked apples, bananas, mandarin oranges, kiwi, and all the lovely veggies. My counters were covered in an array of color and that's when part of a verse of Scripture hit me : "...you are to bear much fruit." The Bible says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, all of which are evidence of the nature of Christ in us. Had I born fruit today? 

To bear spiritual fruit is evidence that we love and honor Christ. When we do this, we bring Him glory. I thought back over my day. I'd passed out a little love and kindness as I gifted Dana with a piece of art and as I'd thanked her for her service in a text message, but other than that, I hadn't shared lasting fruit with her. But maybe, just maybe, that tiny bit of love and kindness had sown a little seed of hope where she needed it most. 

The fruit we bear is to feed others, to bring the gift of life in Christ to spiritually starved humanity. To bear much fruit means to take what we have been given and use it to reach the lost. As we ‘seed’ ourselves into the world around us, the Spirit quickens and empowers us. Real faith must manifest in works, but the works are not the fruit. We may bear much fruit through kingdom work, but it is the fruit that glorifies God, not the works. When we bear much fruit, our fruit is the visible evidence of our discipleship. The fruit we bear indicates the nature and depth of our relationship with Christ. 

Dana probably didn't think much about selecting my fruit today. She was just doing a job that brought in a paycheck, but hopefully, as she left my house today, she was touched by a tiny little act the Holy Spirit prompted me to do. 

As I share this today, please don't think I'm patting myself on the back for a job well done - that is not my intention. I'm merely sharing it to give you a practical example of how easy it is to bear fruit in these hectic days. 

I pray God was glorified and that Dana, if she doesn't know the Father, will wonder why a complete stranger gave her a beautiful oil painting today and, I hope she'll be blessed by the verse of Scripture written on the back of it, that she might hunger to know Him, that she would "taste and see that the Lord is good." 

 "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8) ©Bonnie Annis Everyday Devotions

Don't Waste Any Time

Frances McDormand as Fern Today I finally watched the acclaimed movie, Nomadland. I'm always a day late and a dollar short, it seems, wh...