Friday, May 13, 2022

One thing leads to another

They say hindsight is 20/20 and I've found that to be true for the most part. When I look back on various things in my life, I can see so much more clearly, especially when those things are health related. 

In December 2021, I was extremely sick with some weird illness that caused me to be unable to swallow. I went to the emergency room twice, to urgent care twice, and to my general physician 3 times. During that time, I had all sorts of tests run - bloodwork, laryngoscopies, MRIs, and CT scans. At first they thought I had a salivary stone. Next, they thought Sjogren's Syndrome, after a positive ANA test, they thought it was a rheumatological disorder but nothing definite was ever determined. After 2 rounds of steroids and 2 of antibiotics, I got a little better, but then, I got Tracheitis. Unsure whether or not my CPAP machine may have contributed to that issue, I was told to stay off of it for 3 weeks. 

The CT scan on my head and neck revealed an area of concern on the upper right lobe of my lung. How it picked up that area, I have no clue, but it did. Immediately, I freaked out thinking the cancer had returned. Calling my oncologist, I shared the news. He scheduled a CT scan of my lungs with and without contrast. That was earlier last week. On Friday, I got the call from his office. They said the area on my lung was damaged tissue from radiation therapy. Whew! I was glad to hear that, but I wasn't expecting what came next. The test also picked up an area of concern on the T6 vertebrae of my spine. Great. Just what I needed. Another area to freak out about! And now, they want me to have a nuclear medicine full body bone scan. They didn't tell me why they wanted me to have the test, but I know. They're looking to see if the cancer has metastasized. 

When they lopped off my boobs, they did find cancer in my sentinel lymph node, too. That meant the cancer was traveling. Thankfully, after removing a total of 6 nodes in my right arm and 2 in the left, They didn't find any more cancer. So, I assumed everything was all good. 

In July of this year, I'll celebrate 8 years of being cancer free...I hope. 

I have to look back at the circumstances of the way everything happened with gratitude. If I don't, I can't accept that God allowed each thing to lead to another thing to hopefully take care of a potential problem before it gets out of control. 

I don't want to go through cancer again...EVER! But if I have to, I'd rather know very early on so the doctors can help me figure out how to battle it. 

I don't know what I'll do if they say it is a recurrence. I don't know how I'll choose to fight it. The first round, I refused chemo but did do radiation therapy and anti-hormone therapy for a few months. If I'm told the cancer has returned, what will I do? I've already started to think about it. 

My friends and family tell me not to borrow trouble, and I'm not trying to, I'm just a practical person. I like to have a plan. I like to think ahead. 

I never really thought long and hard during my first round of cancer. I just did what I had to do. I knew I wanted the cancer out of my body as fast as possible so I went radical and said, "Cut them off!" If I get news it's in my spine, I'll probably lean toward doing chemotherapy this time. I know it will make me extremely sick, but if it means I'll have a better chance of living longer, I'll do it. 

My Aunt died of bone cancer. I watched her during the last few weeks of her life. She was in excruciating pain. The morphine didn't help lessen her pain or control it. Her agony is not something I think I could endure. 

I wish I didn't know so much about the spine. Working for a two chiropractors I learned a lot. And now it all makes sense. I've been having a lot of back pain in that area for some time. I thought I was just dealing with a herniated disk. I guess time will tell. 

The funny thing is, even before I find out the results from the complete body bone scan, I have a sneaking feeling I'm going to get bad news. I'm not trying to be morbid, it's just a gut feeling I have. 

Back in 1976, I read a book by Betty Rollin called, First You Cry. It's about how she felt when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Little did I know that 38 years after I read her book, I'd face the same plight. 

Last week, while visiting a thrift store, the spine of a book caught my eye and it nearly jumped off the shelf at me. It was Betty's book. For some reason, I purchased it and brought it home to re-read. It's been 46 years since I've read her story and I felt the need to read it again. 

Maybe it's just a coincidence or maybe mere curiosity, but as I've been reading the book again this week, it's felt comforting to know her feelings are so similar to mine. I'd forgotten about her sick sense of humor that cracks me up. For instance, at a dinner party, she's talking with a speech writer and all of a sudden he asks her what she does for a living. Betty pipes up and says, without missing a beat, "I had a breast cut off recently and I'm trying to get over it." Naturally, the man sitting with her is caught off guard by her candor and nearly drops his fork. I had to laugh out loud when I read it. Only those who've been there would get it, and I did. Sometimes, we say things for the pure shock value because it's the most suitable thing we can think of at the time. 

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out. The scan is on May 31st. I'll go into the hospital at 9:00 a.m. to be injected with a radioactive tracer then I'll return to the hospital 3 hours later for an hour long scan. I don't know how long it will be before I receive the results, but I'm praying now that whatever is on T6 will be miraculously gone. If not, I'll try to receive the news with grace and trust that God has everything under control. He's the only one who knows what my future holds. 

Oh, sure, I'd love to have a crystal ball and be able to see what happens in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I'd love to know how long I'm going to live and how I'm going to die, but God doesn't give me that ability. If He did, there would be no reason for me to have faith, would there? 

It's hard. I won't lie. It's so hard to think about possibly going through cancer again. I know I'll beat myself up with the what ifs - did I do the right thing in my choice for the first fight? Did I do something to feed the cancer and cause it to grow again? Was there something I ignored? The questions are endless. 

All I can do is wait and I suck at that. In the meantime, I'm going to spend some time at the beach trying to think about nothing other than watching the rolling of the ocean waves, seeing the splendor of the sunrises and sunsets, feeling the sand beneath my feet, and allowing my mind to be soothed by the sights and sounds of nature. 

Please keep me in your prayers. I'll keep you posted in the days ahead. No matter what, I know that God is good and He has a good plan for my life. 

I’m trying really hard not to cry…

Monday, May 9, 2022

I don't want to go there

 This past Friday, I went in for a routine colonoscopy. I wasn't expecting them to find 2 polyps, but they did. Although my mind doesn't want to go there, I can't help but wonder, could it be cancer? 

Today, I was scheduled for a CT scan on my lungs. A couple of months ago, after visiting the ENT for some swallowing issues, he did an MRI on my head and neck. That test also revealed a "small tumor" in my right lung. He didn't think it was anything, but I begged to differ. When you've had cancer, even the smallest thing can turn out to be something big. Immediately, I called my oncologist and told him about the findings. After he reviewed the report, he wanted me to have a CT scan with and without contrast. I was glad he was being proactive. My mind didn't want to go there, but once again, I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps the cancer was trying to come back. 

In exactly 2 months from today, I'll celebrate my 8th cancerversary. I really want to make it to this celebratory event. I'm hoping neither of the aforementioned tests screws it up, but they might. 

Survivors always live with the fear of a possible recurrence. Just because we pass the five year mark, the standard where oncologists tend to take their hands off and allow your visits to slow considerably, doesn't mean we're home free. Cancer can come back any time and usually, when it does, it comes back with a vengeance. 

The polyps in my colon have already been removed and biopsied but I don't have the results yet. As for the tumor in my lung, I'm praying it's already gone, that it magically disappeared. But if they do call me in to do a biopsy, I'll probably have a melt down. I don't want to go through anything to do with breast cancer again. 

Did you know, even if cancer were to show up in my bones, spine, or any other place, they'd still say it was a recurrence of the breast cancer even though I've had both breasts removed? Yes! They'd just say it had metastasized. 

I am doing my best not to dwell on the what ifs, but it's hard. I don't want to allow my mind to go there, but it's not listening very well. 

Please pray I don't hear the word cancer in the next few days or even next week. I'm planning a beach trip! I definitely want to go there. And I want to go without the awful news that my cancer came back. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Growing up poor

I didn't realize, until I was an adult, that I'd grown up poor. I was raised in a household whose income fell well below the poverty line. My Daddy’s upbringing was in a home with an even lower income. He was the first of his siblings to graduate from high school and after that, he took night classes at a technical school to learn a skill. He was one of the hardest workers I've known. While most of the years he was the sole wage earner, my Mother was a stay-at-home wife and mother. When she could, she'd take in ironing or make clothes for women who were much better off than we were, but most of my growing up years, we lived on Daddy's meager income. 

Watching my mother and father worry about making ends was hard. No matter how hard Daddy worked, it never seemed to be enough to take care of my sister, brother, and I. I was determined I wasn't going to live that way forever, so when I was 12, I took my first babysitting job. I was determined to rise above such intense struggle to survive. That job only paid a dollar an hour and I was babysitting 7 children, but I didn't care. I was making my own money and it felt good. 

When I was 15, and still in high school, I wanted to get a real job. Back then, parents had to sign a work permit for children under the age of 16. I begged my mother to sign the permit so I could work and thankfully she did. The next problem was how to get to the interview I'd been lucky enough to schedule. 

Our cars were usually very old and in ill repair. Daddy did his best to fix them up and keep them running, but sometimes, we only had one working car and of course, he needed that to Atlanta to work. Luckily, the day I was to have my interview with a local department store, Mama's car was running and she agreed to take me. I put on my prettiest dress and my best game face. As I talked with the gentleman at W. T. Grant Company, I did my best to be posed and mature. Mr. Weaver had no idea how hard my knees were knocking as I listened during the interview. I prayed he couldn't hear them. I landed a job in the collections department at $1.25 an hour. I was ecstatic.  Working hard every day after school, I managed to get raise after raise until I topped out at their maximum $1.65 and hour. I worked there almost a year before becoming engaged. 

At 16, I got married. Young, stupid, and in love, or so I thought, my young husband and I did our best to make ends meet. He was the only wage earner while I worked at completing my education, but $80 a week didn't go very far. We lived in an apartment down the road from my parent's house. The apartment rent was $135 a month and took almost 2 paychecks to make. On top of that were utilities and groceries. We lived off of peanut butter or bologna sandwiches that first year. I washed clothes in the bathtub and hung them out on the balcony of our apartment to dry because we couldn't afford a washer and dryer and certainly didn't have spare change to use the on site laundomat. Growing up poor taught me to survive. 

When my husband got a new position with Georgia Power making a little more money, we moved to Covington, GA. We'd found a repossessed single wide trailer that came fully furnished. It had red and black shag carpet and black naugahyde furniture in the living room. We thought we were stepping up in the world! The trailer payment and the rent at the trailer park were well within our budget. We were doing okay until I got pregnant. 

Adding a new baby to the mix brought on even more challenges. There were extra expenses for diapers, bottles, formula, etc. We did the best we could but had to rely on family to help pick up the slack. Soon, tensions were high and our marriage on the rocks. After 3 years, we called it quits. I ended up moving back home, baby in tow and lived there for about a year until I could get on my feet and get my own apartment. 

My life took a lot of twists and turns. It always seemed I was taking two steps forward and three steps back. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't seem to get ahead. I was determined I was not going to live paycheck to paycheck as my parents had done all their lives. 

So much has changed since those early days. I said goodbye to a second marriage and hello to third. My family grew in size from one little boy to one boy and three girls, all grown now and three of those children have blessed me with grandchildren.  

It's funny how growing up poor shaped me into who I am today. I don't take anything for granted. 

There were many lessons I learned from growing up without money - 

Here are a few of them.

1. Don't waste a thing. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. 

2. Respect the value of money. It doesn't grow on trees and if you can save a little, you'll start to see it grow.  

3. Money can't buy everything. It’s amazing how little it takes to survive if you learn to “make do” and improvise.

4. People are worth immeasurably more than things.

5. You don’t have to own something to love and enjoy it.

6. Memories are treasures. They don't take up space,  can't be stolen, don't have to be maintained, and never cause worry. 

6. Don't live above your means. Going into debt isn't worth the stress or hassle. 

7. If you maintain an old car properly, it will last a long time. Regular oil changes and checks cost less than a car payment. 

8. Working hard never hurt anyone. 

9. You're stronger than you think. 

10. You can't take it with you when you go. Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? 

My parents struggled because they had to. Back then, jobs were tough to come by and for those without college degrees, manual labor was about all that was available. Daddy took pride in what he did. He came home from work exhausted every day but got up each morning to do it all over again. He never asked for anything. As soon as he got paid, he handed his paycheck to Mama. She was responsible for paying the bills, buying the groceries, and taking care of our needs. She didn't always do a good job but did the best she could with what she had. 

I'm thankful I grew up poor. I wouldn't have learned many valuable lessons that I've carried into my life today if circumstances had been different. I'm glad I didn't know I was poor at the time I was living it. It would have been much harder to swallow back then. Today I can look back and be grateful. 

I've done my best to teach my children valuable life lessons without going into a lot of detail about my past. Hopefully they've learned and accepted those and will let them trickle down into their own families. 

Life is hard whether you're rich or poor. I consider myself lucky to have grown up the latter. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Silver Splendor

 Yesterday, I was in the kitchen working on a project when Phil pops in the front door calling to me. "Come here, quick!" he said, so I dropped everything and went to see what he needed. As soon as I walked through the door, I could see his back. He stood, faced turned upward, looking at the sky. It had just started to rain. "Look at that!" he exclaimed. I stood beside him and looked up. At first, I didn't see it and asked what he was looking at. His long arm lifted and he pointed to a specific spot just above our roofline. "There - look!" Following his pointing finger, I saw the most beautiful, silvery drops falling from the sky. 

They weren't ordinary raindrops. They seemed to be illuminated by a special kind of light, making them appear as long silvery threads. I'd never seen anything like it before. 

We stood in amazement, watching. And both of us knew, we were being allowed to see how rain looked when it first fell from the floodgates of heaven. Beautiful, silvery sparkles continued to fall but only in that specific spot. All around us, rain was falling, but those drops looked ordinary. The only ones that were illuminated were the ones directly above our house and seemed to be coming straight down from heaven. 

Of course, we could have reasoned it away. The sunlight could have caught them just so and made them look silvery, but there wasn't any sun shining at that point. And why would both of us be overcome with such a powerful sense of God's love, provision, and power at the same time, if it weren't something so unique and special? We felt His presence as we stood staring at the sky and smiling. 

Cars passed by as we stood on our walkway looking heavenward. I'm sure they were wondering what in the world we were looking at. The huge smiles on our faces and the tears in our eyes probably made them think we were looney, but we didn't care. 

What a priceless moment in time! I'm so thankful Phil called me out to share in the splendor. 

After we'd watched for about fifteen minutes, the silvery threads of rain disappeared and were replaced by regular raindrops. 

We have no idea why we were allowed to witness such a spectacular sight, but we saw it together so we know it was real. 

Some may say we're crazy and that's okay. We're firm believers in the majesty and power of God. Even though this was a tiny sliver of His majesty, we'll take it and hold it in our hearts forever. 

Little God signs are everywhere. We have to be on the lookout for them. If we look with the eyes of our hearts, He'll reveal Himself in ways we may have never imagined. No matter what tool He chooses to use to get our attention, we must give Him the praise and worship He deserves, even if it's just because of a little rain. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Giving yourself a pat on the back

Some days you just need to hear, "Well done!" or "Way to go!" A little praise goes a long way, but when there's no one around to say it, what do you do? If you don't take matters into your own hands, that pat on the back may never come, believe me, I know. 

Today, I worked hard. It's amazing what a good cup of coffee will do for you. I had a long list of projects and by golly, I was going to accomplish as many of them as I could, so I started with number one and began to work my way down. 

Number one took some time. I'd been reorganizing my art studio/craft/sewing room for days. I'd removed all the clutter and had started to move things back in but quickly became overwhelmed. There was so much stuff! Persevering for the next two hours, I was able to scratch number one off the list. 

On to number two. This one would only take a few minutes. I'd made a note to email some friends, write some long overdue notes, and complete an article I'd been working on for a cancer magazine. About thirty minutes passed and number two got crossed off. 

I kept working down my list. There were 7 more items to complete. One by one I tackled them. Finally, at 3:00 p.m. I finished. Whew! What a day it had been, but I felt successful, and it felt good. 

I did my best to reach around and pat myself on the back but couldn't quite do it. The scarring from breast cancer surgery had left me with a limited range or motion. Though I couldn't manage it physically, I congratulated myself mentally. It's amazing the good praise can do. 

Feeling like a well-trained puppy waiting for a yummy puppy snack, I did a little happy dance. Wagging my rear made me laugh. 

Good days have been few and far between lately. There have been so many health issues I'd forgotten what it felt like to have a good belly laugh. 

Earlier today, the skies were overcast and dreary but now the sun is out and shining brightly. With that, I feel a song remnant swirling around in my mind - " I think I can make it now, the pain is gone. All of the bad feelings have disappeared. Here is the rainbow I've been prayin' for- It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day."


Friday, April 22, 2022

When Friday Feels Like Monday

I got out of bed and instantly started doing things around the house. While working, I turned on the Keurig to have a nice cup of coffee. Our old Keurig had died several months ago, and we'd replaced it with the newest one available. The new one has nice selections for various cup sizes and is preprogrammed to dispense that perfect amount of water according to the cup size selected, or so I thought. Usually it does, but not today. Today I selected a medium cup of coffee and got an extra-large. The excess coffee ran all over the counter and floor. I was not happy! Today was Friday, but it felt like Monday!

Next, I went in to clean out the shower, one of my most hated jobs of all time. You'd think a shower would stay clean since it's always being filled with water and soap, but no. The shower floor gets dirty! So I pulled out the tub and shower cleanser hubby had picked up at the local grocer for me and got busy. I followed the directions on the can. You were supposed to spray a heavy coat of cleanser, let it sit a few minutes and then rinse away for a clean and shiny surface, NOT! Today was Friday, but it felt like Monday!

On to the laundry. I like to condense, so I put all my clothes in one load to save water. I had packed it as tight as it would go and turned it on. When the clothes were done washing, I threw them in the dryer. After an hour, it was time to take them out and fold them. Everything was fine until I got to the fitted sheet. It was twisted and mangled and inside was something heavy. As I worked to unwind the sheet and pull out the inner contents, I found a pair of hubby's jeans, soaking wet. I was not happy! Today was Friday, but it felt like Monday! 

One thing after another kept happening until I finally got the message. It was time to sit down and slow down. I hadn't been feeling well anyway and had just come from the doctor's office the day before with a bad infection to my trachea. Antibiotics and steroids were helping, but I was wiped out. I didn't like knowing today was Friday but it was feeling like Monday. 

So I sat down to write. Getting my thoughts out of my head helps. And wouldn't you know it, after taking time to process my thoughts, it was finally starting to feel a little like Friday instead of a crazy, hectic, uncontrollable Monday. 

An old poem popped into my head just now and I think it's meant to remind me of a valuable truth:

“Don’t Quit”

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about.
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

For all the sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
John Greeleaf Whittier December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892

I wonder if Mr. Whittier might have known what it felt like to have a Friday that felt like a Monday. I imagine, from his poem, he probably did. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Lumps, lines, and lessons

Salvador tucking the carpet under the baseboard

It's amazing how something so little can be so aggravating. As a typical type A personality, I like things to be perfect, or at least as close to it as possible. So after 8 years of living in our current home, as things began to look "not so perfect" any more, I had to do something about it. 

First came the settling cracks. I was told they were typical of a new build. As the home began to settle onto its foundation, tiny cracks would appear at stress points. No problem! I'd been trained in mudding and taping sheetrock way back in 2011 as I prepared to go on a mission trip to Alaska. I knew I could fix those little cracks with no problem, and I did. 

Next came little nicks and dings on the walls from moving furniture about. Along with those came tiny fingerprints from happy grandchildren. Again, no problem. I could patch and I could paint. Those little fixes were a breeze. 

But when I started noticing lines and ridges in the carpet, I was not happy. In fact, the more I focused on those imperfections, the more irritated I became. Oh, believe me, I'd watched hundreds of YouTube videos on using knee kickers to push out those lumpy places and if I'd had one of those tools, I would have certainly tried it, but I knew this was a job for professionals. Of course, I didn't know any carpet stretchers so I got on the computer and pulled up Angie's List. They were supposedly the host of reputable repairmen, or so we thought. We made an appointment to have men come out and tackle our problems and we thought we were getting a good deal. We were told we'd only pay $300 for having the issues in 5 rooms addressed. The places that needed help weren't big, but they were bothersome to me - a veritable eyesore. I wanted those places fixed and wanted them done yesterday. 

The men came and seemed to be doing a good job. They pulled out a knee kicker and got to work. After 30 minutes, they handed me the bill. I looked over their work and the carpet seemed to be smoothed out well, so I paid them. Little did I know, their fix was only temporary. Weeks later, the lines, lumps, and bumps eased back out and again, I was upset. 

Two years later, we'd still not gotten around to having another carpet person come out to fix the floors. At the first of March, I made a plan. I was going to have those problem areas gone or else! So I got on Facebook and asked my friends if any of them could recommend a reputable company. I wasn't going to go through Angie's List again after the last fiasco. One friend reached out and gave me the name of the person who'd just done work in her house. I got the number and called the same day. 

When I spoke with Mark, he was on a job. I could hear him shuffling the phone from shoulder to shoulder as he talked with me. Oh sure, he could do the job, but he couldn't do it for at least a month. They were booked solid. I told him that was okay, I just wanted the work to be completed before Easter since we'd be having company for the holiday. He put me on the schedule for Saturday, April 9. Well, the week before my scheduled work date, I reached out to confirm the appointment. Mark responded with a change. Due to a delay from the plumbing installation on a new home, one of his big jobs hadn't been able to have been completed by the deadline. He was going to have to push my job out another day. Instead of coming out on Saturday, as originally planned, my job wasn't going to be done until Sunday - Palm Sunday. I wasn't happy about that. We'd have to miss church and Palm Sunday was a special day for us, but we had no choice so we agreed. 

Early Sunday morning, my husband and I rose at 7:00 a.m. because the workmen were to arrive by 9 and we wanted to be up and enjoy our coffee before they came. 9:00 came and went, no workers. At 9:40 a.m. our doorbell rang. A small Hispanic man stood there. He said, "I'm Salvador. I'm here to do your carpet." We were surprised. Mark (the owner of the company) wasn't coming. He's subcontracted the job to Salvador. 

We wondered, as we ushered Salvador into our home, how he was going to do the job alone. He was a tiny man, no more than 125 pounds. There was furniture to move and Mark had assured us his "team" would handle it all - no problem. Apparently, he forgot to mention that to Salvador because Salvador told me, through broken Spanish, that Mark had told him the rooms would be empty! Talk about miscommunication! 

To make a long story short, Salvador was gracious and he was a very hard worker. He was here an hour and a half and never stopped once. 

We watched him use his power stretcher to push the carpets into place and watched as he used his little body to slam against the knee kicker forcing the carpet into corners before trimming with a super sharp Xacto knife. 

Salvador's hammer and knee kicker

As he worked, I made sure to make small talk with him. Standing outside each room, I'd ask him questions about himself and his family. I learned he came to the U.S. from Mexico and had lived in Texas for a while before meeting and marrying his American wife. I learned he had 3 children, 2 were his wife's from a previous marriage, and one was theirs jointly. Salvador was soft spoken but didn't hesitate to talk about his life. He'd been doing flooring work for the past 24 years and his wife was a hair dresser. I enjoyed getting to know him. 

When he'd finished the job, he asked me to check his work. Everything was perfect and I was pleased. 

Salvador asked for a glass of water and I quickly obliged. He mentioned he was diabetic and had been struggling with his health for the past few years. I asked if I could pray for him before he went and Salvador quickly agreed. My husband and I stood with Salvador in the kitchen and I placed my hand on his thin shoulder. Slowly he removed his ball cap and bowed his head, ready for me to pray. 

I had no idea what to pray so I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my words. I wanted to pray for specific needs this hard-working man had mentioned but I also wanted to let him know how much God loved and cared for him. I don't remember the exact words I prayed but I know I asked God to watch over and protect Salvador and his family, to bless his health, and to help him know that God sees him even when he feels all alone. 

Before Salvador left, I gave him a small New Testament and asked him if he believed in God. He said he did and I was happy to hear that. I'd only planted a seed, but I knew God would water it and allow it to grow in the days ahead. 

I truly believe that every person we meet is a divine appointment from God. Either we are to minister to them or they are to minister to us. This day, was a joint blessing. Salvador ministered to me with his gentle spirit and his hard work ethic. I ministered to him by showing him kindness and love. 

I've walked into every room of our house this morning, thankful that all the lines and lumps are gone from our carpets. As I stood, looking down at the some of the loose carpet fibers leftover from Salvador's work, I couldn’t help but think there was a lesson to be learned from that experience, too. 

There are so many things we can't control in life. Most of those things are small and don't seem to matter until they accumulate. Satan loves to use those small issues to goad us and if we're not careful, those small things can turn into humongous things in a hurry. 

Salvador using the power stretcher

We'd dealt with the lumpy, stretched out carpet for two years past the last carpet stretchers failed attempts to repair it. I could have overlooked the issues and let them slide until we sold the house, but I didn't want to. Whenever I saw those places, they nagged and nagged at me. 

It may not have been a huge issue to many but for me and my perfectionism, it was major. 

I'm thankful Salvador came alone. I'm thankful he was a slight man with a sweet attitude. I was touched as I watched him work. I could tell he loved his family deeply and he'd faced many challenges in his life - not only health issues, but prejudice, too. 

I was raised to love people from all walks of life. I was taught not to judge. I'm thankful I could see Salvador through the eyes of God and be reminded that we are all precious in His sight. 

My hope is that Salvador left here yesterday feeling loved and cared for deeply. 

We prayed for him several times throughout the day and I'm sure we will in the days ahead, too. As believers, it's our responsibility to love and care for others always. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

One day, I hope to meet Salvador again, perhaps in heaven. I'm sure we'll have a wonderful visit and maybe we'll get to share a few laughs. 

Salvador was just a small, Hispanic man, but he could also have been an angel unaware. He certainly touched my life in the 90 minutes he was here. 

Looking at his hammer and knee kicker as they lay on the floor, I couldn't help but think about the hammer that drove the nails into Jesus' hands and feet. Today was the beginning of Holy Week. Today was Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, later in the week, He'd suffer immensely before being crucified. He'd be beaten, mocked, and falsely accused. I wonder if Salvador had any idea. If we'd had more time, I would have shared everything. 

I hope Salvador will read the small Bible I gave him. I pray he will. 

I’ve read my Bible every day of my life since I was old enough to read and still, I find something new in the Word each day. The Bible is alive and powerful! 

Material things like homes and carpets can make our lives more comfortable, but they won’t last forever. God’s Word does! I’m so thankful God gave us His inspired Word. It is my most treasured possession. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Art in the Park- a reminder of a difficult time in my life

Jason Kimes' "The Least Amount of Space"

This weekend, while visiting Tennessee for my grandson's wedding, we happened upon a unique park filled with architectural sculptures. As we wandered through this huge outdoor exhibit, we were amazed at the craftmanship. There were several sculptures that caught my eye, but one in particular, Jason Kime's "The Least Amount of Space." 

The sculpture was amazing and made of thousands of iron rods. As I walked around the piece experiencing it, I felt myself remembering a time when I hunkered down and huddled beneath the scrutinizing glare of the world. 

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2014, I found myself withdrawing from the world. Once very self-assured and confident, I was all of a sudden insecure and fearful. I had no idea what my future held. I wasn't ready to die. 

Without friends or family to consult, I retreated into myself. There, I found solace. Though I never dared trust in my own strength for survival, I knew One who would sustain me, Jesus. 

Day after day, as breast cancer seemed to devour my world of normalcy, I curled tighter and tighter into a safe little ball and what I found was as I decreased, He increased. 

I knew in me there was no good thing, but in Him, all things held together and existed. 

Though I had no idea what my future held, I knew Who held my future. 

It took years before I felt safe enough to unfurl, allowing myself to open and bloom again, but I'm thankful He gave me space and grace. 

Mr. Kime's sculpture, I noticed, was carefully constructed. Each iron rod had been welded into place to form a perfect figure. I wondered at the process behind the work and why the artist had chosen to portray the human form in such a protective position. Had he experienced deep pain in his life or perhaps felt it from someone? 

Art is such a beautiful expression of our deepest feelings. I've found it to be very therapeutic in my own healing process. Often, when I have no words to speak, I am able to express feelings with paint, clay, or other artistic mediums. 

It's important for those affected by cancer to have a creative outlet. Some wield words and others wield brushes, but not matter the tool, the result is the same - an outpouring of what's been pent up for too long. 

Seeing, touching, and experiencing art is powerful. I enjoy both participating in it and being the creator of it. 

Kimes' "The Least Amount of Space" is a thought-provoking work. It could have been named "The Experience of Pain", "Devastation," "Shelter in Place," or a hundred various titles, but Mr. Kimes chose the one that spoke to his aesthetic, and I respect that.  

Though it's been almost 8 years since diagnosis, I find myself a "work in progress." Some days are easier than others and some more difficult. If I were a sculptor, I'd have probably worked and reworked my piece over and over again through the years. I may have even smashed and destroyed it, giving up only to start over a day or two later. And that's the thing - cancer affects everyone differently. We work through it the best we can. We layer on piece after piece, rebuilding and refashioning our armor, until we begin to feel almost complete again. It's an ongoing process, one we must take both lightheartedly and seriously at the same time - much the way we view art. 

Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, says it so well - "Art enables us to find ourselves and loose ourselves at the same time.”

I hope you'll take time to let art speak to you. You may be amazed at what it will say.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

A lesson in humility

The year was 1991. I remember it vividly. Sitting in my wheelchair, my right leg swollen and angry looking, the metal through and through pins were throbbing. My foot was purple, which meant the circulation was impaired. The doctor had warned if it didn't improve, they were going to amputate my leg. I was so afraid. 

I could hear the children playing. My four loves were running in and out of their rooms laughing. School was out and I wondered how we'd manage over the summer. 

I knew my foot needed attention, but what do you do when you can't reach? 

It had taken every ounce of my energy to make it to the bathroom that day. Taking a shower was quite an ordeal. First, I had to wrap my leg in a large, plastic garbage bag and tape it up tight so no water could get in. That way, the pin holes wouldn't get wet, which could cause a major staph infection. Next, I had to figure out how to hobble to the shower and get in on one foot. Thankfully, a friend had lent me some safety crutches with rounded bottoms. I could use them to steady myself. Doctor's orders were no weight bearing whatsoever on my right leg, so that meant I showered quickly and usually only once a week because it was so dreadfully difficult. 

My body was clean except my foot. I knew I had to ask for help but which of my children would be willing? I didn't want to ask my 15-year-old son. He'd already taken on so many of the household responsibilities, I couldn't add another to his ever growing list. My 7 year old daughter would have been willing, but not strong enough, and my 4 year old daughter was simply out of the question. I knew the only other option would be to ask my then 9 year old daughter, Erin. 

Calling her into the living room, I said, "Honey, I need your help." Gladly, she smiled at me and said, "What Mom?" I told her to look at my foot. She did and said, "It looks so dark, it's almost black!" I replied, "Yes, and that's why I need your help." I told her I needed her help in washing my foot. I explained she'd have to be extremely careful and it wasn't going to be fun. "In fact," I said, "it's going to be really gross." The look on her face broke my heart. Although I knew she'd do whatever needed to be done, I didn't want to put that heavy weight on such a little girls shoulders. 

She looked at me and smiled saying, "I'll help you, Mom." So I told her what to do. I had her get a rectangular, plastic bin and fill it with a few inches of warm water. I watched as her little arms carried the heavy container back to where I was. She sat it in front of me. Using both arms I lifted my lifeless leg. When it was lifted, she slid the container beneath me and helped lower the injured limb into the water. 

I could barely feel the temperature on my foot. The car accident had crushed both bones in my right leg and had damaged nerves. I had no idea if the water was scalding or barely warm, but I had to trust that my little girl had done her best. 

I sat with my foot in the water for about twenty minutes. There were two reasons for soaking that long - one was to allow Erin to continue to play with her siblings, and the other was to soak away some of the stinky, dead skin that had accumulated since the accident and my inability to bathe. 

When I felt like the time was right, I called her back into the room and asked her to get some soap and a washcloth. Kneeling in front of me, I instructed her to gently lift my swollen, discolored foot and begin scrubbing with gentle circular motions. When she went to slide her hand beneath my foot, I noticed layers and layers of dead skin and grime float to the top of the water, but not once did she complain. Tears filled my eyes as I thought about another foot washing thousands of years ago...

Jesus and His disciples were in the upper room. They'd just partaken of their last supper together. Jesus had risen from the table, stripped, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Going to each disciple, He'd taken the role of a lowly servant, washing their feet. Those feet were filthy, covered in dust and dirt from the roads they'd traveled, but Jesus worked diligently performing a special act of love. 

If you've never had your feet washed by someone, you may not understand how this simple act can humble a person. 

My little girl's young hands were so small and tender as she worked to remove layers of dead skin. I hated to rely on her for such a nasty chore, but I had no choice. Through tear filled eyes, I watched as she worked. She never complained about the smell or about the filth, but I knew it bothered her. 

There were many other times I had to ask Erin to wash my foot during the year my leg slowly healed. Without her help, I would have surely lost my foot and more than likely my leg. There were no home health nurses available to those without insurance and since my attorney hadn't finalized the lawsuit against the man who hit me, there was no money to hire someone to help. 

It's been 31 years since that horrible motor vehicle accident but I still remember so many things God used to teach and humble me with during that time. My children were changed, too. They had to grow up too fast during that year, but not all of the experiences were bad. They also learned a lot about God's faithfulness and His provision. 

Foot washing is such a beautiful act of service and humility. Jesus gave us such a loving example of it in the book of John. The disciples didn't understand why He would stoop so low and perform such a menial task, but it was merely a foreshadowing of His upcoming crucifixion and the sacrificial gift of love He'd share there. As Our Lord and Savior hung humbly on the cross, beaten, scorned, and broken, I've often wondered if even one of those men looked at his nail pierced feet and remembered the feeling of His gentle, loving hands as He knelt that day to wash their soles...their souls. 

1 Peter 5:5-6 says: "Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance} toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful) - [and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. Therefore, humble yourselves (demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation) under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you." 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The telling of the felling

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, the world of poetry was opened to me by one of my favorite teachers. She would sit before our class, open a book of poetry and mesmerize us with its beauty. Her soft, delicate voice, barely above a whisper, drew us in. That's when I fell in love with poetry. It touched my soul profoundly. Today, I was reminded of a poem I first heard in grammar school - Joyce Kilmer's poem, Trees. 

Now many assume Joyce was a female, but that's not the case. Joyce was a man with sensitive heart. He wrote heartfelt poems that became memorable to aesthetes like me. 

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Today, we killed a tree. It was a large, beautiful Pine tree, over 100 feet tall and more than 50 years old. The tree was too close to our house and with recent tornadoes, we knew if it was ever affected by high winds, it would severely damage our home and may have even killed us. So, it had to come down. I didn't want to wound it, really I didn't. That tree had provided shade to our yard and had given shelter to many a squirrel or bird. As I stood at the base of it, looking up, I begged its forgiveness, but the reality of what we were about to do didn't hit me until I felt the ground shake hard as it fell to Earth. That loud, heavy thud shook me to my core. What had I done? In that instant, as the workman's chainsaw was still smoking hot, I began to cry. Only God can make a tree and only God should be able to end its life. But I'd interfered. I'd given the hired hand permission to fell the tree. 

A tree that looks at God all day and lifts her leafy arms to pray...

I was sad. The fragrant smell of Pine filled my nostrils as I stood and watched the tree cut into

pieces. And then, as they pushed the segments into the chipper, it was even worse. That huge majestic tree was no more. That's when I made a promise. I promised the tree I'd remember it. I'd tells stories about it and make sure to leave a legacy. I'd write a children's book for my grandchildren. I'd help them understand by telling of the felling. 

And so I shall. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

A divine appointment

We'd just walked into Walmart on the coldest day of the year. There were no shopping carts in the corral, so Phil volunteered to go outside and get one. I moved deeper into the store, away from the cold blast of air that came in each time the automatic door opened and found myself standing near a growing stack of Coca Cola products. I watched as a young black man lifted and stacked cases one on top of another. After a few minutes, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit. "Talk to him about me."

So, I walked over to the man and said, "That's the best song ever, isn't it?" Before he could answer, I noticed he had earbuds in his ears and wondered if he'd heard my question. Pulling one out he said, "Yeh." And I continued, "Don't you just love Dobie Gray's, Drift Away?" Day after day, I'm more confused... the music played on as I talked to the young man. I was thankful I had his attention. He stopped working and listened as I said, "Can I ask you a question?" He answered, "Sure, Ma'am." I said, "How can I pray for you today?" I could see him take a step back and slightly hesitate before answering. He said, "Wow. Just wow. I don't believe it." I asked what he didn't believe and he said, "I was just having a moment and then you came up." I asked his name and he said, "Howard." I said, "Howard, my name is Bonnie. Let's step over here and I'm going to pray for you." I took his arm and we moved to the side of the cases of cola, out of the line of foot traffic entering the store. Bowing my head, I began to pray. 

I don't know how long we stood there and I can't remember exactly what I said. I know the Holy Spirit was giving me the words and Howard was listening. When I ended the prayer, I looked up and Howard's eyes were filled with tears. I told him that God cared about him and He planned our meeting on this day. Howard agreed that God had brought us together. I wished him well and turned to see my husband standing there with the cart. As we moved toward the produce, I turned to smile and wave goodbye to Howard. 

Moving up and down the aisles, we gathered various grocery items packing our cart to the brim. As we pulled onto the aisle with cases of water, there was Howard again. I smiled a big smile, pointed, and said, "HEY! We've got to stop meeting like this." He smiled a huge smile and said, "I knew I'd see you again." I walked closer to him and he said, "Can I have a hug?" I gave him a big bear hug and turned to walk away but remembered something in my purse. Reaching inside, I pulled out a small, leather CWT New Testament I'd been given many years earlier when I was part of the Christian Witnessing Training program. I'd cherished that slimline Bible and loved that it fit so neatly in my purse, but at that very moment, I felt like I was supposed to give it to Howard. 

Turning to John 14, I slipped the book marker in place and handed it to him. I asked him to read John 14 and 15 when he had time. I told him I'd marked it for him and though the Bible was in the King James translation, I told him God would help him understand it. Before I left, I read him verse 1 of chapter 14 aloud, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me." Howard looked stunned and said, "Wow" again. Digging through my purse, I tried to find a pen. I wanted to inscribe something in the Bible for Howard but couldn't find one. I was frustrated. I always have a pen in my purse because I'm always writing, but for some reason, today, I didn't have one. 

I asked Phil if he'd mind running over to the school supply area and picking up a pen for me. I assumed I'd see Howard again before we left the store and then I'd have a chance to inscribe the Bible for him. While Phil went to get the pen, I continued shopping. 

Fifteen or so minutes passed before we crossed paths with Howard again. This time, he spoke first, "I knew I'd see you one more time before you left the store!" He sounded excited and happy. I grinned at him and said, " I want to write something in your Bible for you." He handed it to me and I wrote a sweet sentiment for him. As I handed the book back to him, he said, "I'll never forget this day." 

We didn't see Howard again as we made our way to the front of the store to check out, but I prayed our conversation blessed him. I don't know why God allowed our paths to cross but I could tell that Howard was struggling. 

Over the years, I've learned to stop and obey when the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart and prompts me to witness to someone. In those times, I've come to the realization that I was not only giving, but receiving a blessing. 

I could have pretended not to hear the Holy Spirit's voice when He said, "Tell him about me." I could have kept walking past the young black man stacking boxes. I could have never looked him in the eyes or spoken a word to him and he would have kept on working - nothing about his day being different in any way. But God. God wanted me to have a close encounter. He wanted me to SEE Howard. He wanted me to care about Howard's needs. He wanted me to share some of Christ's love with Howard. 

I have no idea what Howard was dealing with. He didn't share a lot of detail about his life. Even though I don't know his needs, God does, and when we were praying, I asked God to meet each of Howard's needs in a very special way so I'm sure He will. 

I told Howard I wanted to see him in heaven and I sure hope I'll get to see him there one day. There are so many people living their lives in a state of confusion, especially in these rocky times in our world. It seems we're all sort of drifting away, but we don't have to. Those of us who know the truth of God's Word have to be ready to share the hope of our future with others. We have to give them something to cling to - the one and only something- Someone who matters - Jesus. 

If you ever hear a tiny whisper in the back of your mind that says, "Tell them about me.." Do it! God will use your obedience and He will bless it. I know. He's done it over and over again for me. 

Friday, March 4, 2022


Every year, on our way to our favorite beach, we pass Eglin Air Force base. As we drive past, we're always looking to see which way the large radars are pointing and what the sign in front of the base shows regarding their security status level. We've passed when the radars were pointing west, pointing east, and pointing north. When they're tipped upward, we get concerned, especially if the security alert is on high. We know, if the status is high, there's danger. And while we're thankful our military is always watching; the public isn't always aware of impending danger. 

For the person touched by cancer, it seems our antenna are always on high alert. We're always watching and waiting. While we watch and wait and hope cancer never comes back, we know there's a real chance it could. We pay more attention to our bodies. Every ache, every pain, every random soreness could be an indicator that something needs attention. That's when we realize we've allowed ourselves to become cancerphobic. 

It's not a place we choose to be, it just is what it is. Cancer does a number on a person. It causes one to go into an anxious and high stress state. It doesn't feel good to know there are things that happen with our bodies over which we have absolutely no control. So, we find ourselves always on high alert. 

When two small spots popped up on my face last year, I wasn't overly concerned. I assumed they were from years of sun exposure. They were small and unobtrusive. I covered them easily with makeup, but when they began to grow and change color a bit, I started watching them. 

Years earlier, I'd had a small black melanoma removed from the top of my right hand. The doctor had done a punch biopsy to remove it and I'd had 3 stitches to close the wound, leaving a tiny star shaped symbol on my had. All of this had happened before my diagnosis with breast cancer. I knew how dangerous melanoma could be. I'd lost a high school friend to melanoma. He'd had a black mole on his back and thought it just an ugly mole. Within a few months, he was dead. That incident caused all of us to examine our bodies closely. Who would have thought a simple mole could be so deadly? 

The places on my face didn't look like melanomas to me. They weren't large. They weren't black. They didn't look bad, but they were there, and they didn't used to be. I didn't want to take a chance, so I contacted a dermatologist and went in for an exam. 

The dermatologist took a complete medical history on me and then began the physical exam. She had a specialized tool that would allow her to magnify and exam the spots in detail. After the exam, she said she didn't think they were cancerous but couldn't be sure without biopsies. With my history of cancer and my family's history, too, I asked her to go ahead and remove them. 

First, she gave me an injection of lidocaine to numb my face. Then, she began to use a tool to shave layer after layer of the places away. When she had removed the growths, she took a cautery tool and began to cauterize the surgical sites to prevent bleeding. As I sat in the chair smelling my own skin burning, it was odd. I was thankful she had the expertise to help, and I was thankful I was being proactive. 

I should receive the results of the biopsies in a week or so. I'm praying there's no evidence of any cancer. 

Melanomas can develop anywhere on your body. Most of the time, they develop on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun. Those areas include the face, arms, legs, and back. But they can also appear on other areas of the body, like the soles of your feet or under the nails. 

Normal moles are usually one color - tan, brown, or black. They usually have a uniform border and are usually smaller than a pencil eraser, but they can change over time. 

If you notice changes, remembering to look for the ABCDEs can help in your assessment: 

A represents asymmetrical shape. These moles are uneven and if you were to slice the mole in half, the sides would be very different in shape. 
B represents border. Moles with unusual borders may have characteristics of melanoma. Pay attention to scalloped or notched borders. 
C represents color. Moles come in all kinds of colors but are usually one color. If you find a mole with more than one color, or one with an uneven distribution of color, pay attention. This could be indicative of melanoma. 
D represents diameter. Any mole larger than a pencil eraser should be checked by a doctor. 
E represents evolving. Watch your moles. If they begin to change over time, there may be something wrong. Pay attention to the shape, size, and color. If the mole begins to bleed or itch, consult a doctor right away. 

Melanomas occurs when melanocytes become damaged. Those are cells that give color to your skin.

There are many ways the cells can become damaged. Exposure to tanning beds and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation are the most common causes of melanoma, but there are other risk factors. Those with very fair skin are at risk because they have less protection from damaging sun rays. Family history of melanoma can increase one's risk as well as a weakened immune system. 

The best way to protect your skin is to love it. Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you are out in the sun, use a good quality sunscreen, preferably with an SPF of 30 or more. Sun damage can occur even on overcast days, so it's a good policy to use sunscreen any time you're outside. It's also important to reapply the sunscreen every couple of hours and apply it generously. 

It's normal for a person who's experienced cancer before to feel cancerphobic now and then. Cancer is a very serious and life altering condition, but a fear of recurrence shouldn't prevent one from enjoying the outdoors. Your skin is the largest organ on your body. It does so much for you - it protects you from germs, it helps regulate your body temperature, and is the first layer of defense from injury. Doesn't it deserve to be loved and taken care of? We only get one "body suit." I'm going to take good care of mine by watching it closely. How about you? 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Dear Body

Dear Body, 

This is a very difficult letter to write. You've broken my trust, not once, but several times in the past and here you go again. 

I thought, after you decided to pull the cancer card, we'd find a way to coexist, and we did for the most part, but apparently, you didn't think that challenge was difficult enough. You wanted to play dirty. So, you fostered a tiny clump of cells and allowed them to feed and grow in my right lung. You're sneaky. I'd have never known they were there, but for another health issue and the test that brought it to light. 

Reading the test results, I never dreamed a tumor would be present, especially in my lung. The ENT was looking for a problem in my throat. How did that happen? Was it merely coincidence, or was it God's grace allowing the CT scan to light you up? It doesn't really matter. I'm just thankful it did. Now your secret is out. 

I called the oncologist's office. I wondered if they'd like a copy of the test results. I'm glad I called because they did. They asked me to fax it right over.  After reviewing the scan, the doctor asked his nurse to call. She said I needed a chest CT within 3 months. I was thankful they were being proactive, but I was nervous at the same time. I didn't want to let my mind go there, but it did. I couldn't help but wonder if the tumor was malignant. What if rogue cancer cells had slipped into my bloodstream way back in 2014 when I had my breasts removed? I wondered if I'd be able to handle a recurrence. I didn't want to think about it, not yet anyway. Why borrow trouble, as my grandmother would say? But what would I do in the meantime? 

When I received a diagnosis of cancer on June 5, 2014, doctors suggested chemotherapy, radiation, and anti-hormone therapy. I was stage 2B and the cancer was invasive. It was estrogen and progesterone positive at 99%, which mean the chances of it coming back were good. I'd watched friends fight cancer the traditional way. They'd suffered terribly through chemo and died painful deaths shortly after diagnosis. I didn't want that. I was selfish, I wanted to live, but not that way. I chose to fight differently. 

I thought about you when I made my decision. For 56 years, I'd done my best to care for you well. Of course, there were things I couldn't have prevented, like organs that had decided to go on the fritz, or the terrible car accident in 1991, but I did my best. I ate well and exercised. I did everything within my power to keep you safe until the betrayal in 2014. Even then, I researched natural alternatives to fighting cancer and I did them religiously for 7 years and then I slipped. I got lackadaisical. I didn't adhere to a strict diet. There were days I didn't juice or take my supplements. I forgot to drink the green tea. I assumed I was cancer free and would be forever, and then...

Oh, body! I can't believe we're in this pickle! Is it my fault or yours? Does it really matter, though? Fault finding won't solve the problem and it won't contribute to the solution. So where do we go from here? I guess I'd better crack down and get serious. It's time to go into full cancer fighting mode again, even though I don't know for sure what kind of tumor is currently growing in my lung. I can't afford to let it feed and grow. I want it out now! 

But the doctor won't recheck for 3 months. I'm scared. 

So, I'll do the only thing I know to do. I'll fight. You may think I'm too weak to win, but we'll see about that. You don't know me as well as you think. You're not a mind reader, you know. I'm strong and I'm resilient. You may throw fear and anxiety at me, allowing me to shake and shudder, but I have a secret weapon you know nothing about. I have faith. 

I hear you laughing. You say my faith is too small, and I'll admit, it is. But the Bible says, "If you have faith as small as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20. I assure you, body, I have that much faith. 

May 9th can't come quickly enough. 70 days. I wonder how much damage you can do to me in that amount of time. No. I'm not going to focus on that. I need to save my energy for the fight. 

I'm pulling out the big guns this time, body. I'll do everything I can to ensure you stay healthy and strong. And if the time comes when something else is needed, I'll consider all my options. I don't want to poison you; I love you too much. But if there's no other way, believe me when I say, I will. 

Please don't let me down again, body. I need you. I'm counting on you. 

With love, 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Weighing in

My Daddy was a complicated and complex man. You'd never know it by the looks of him. He was very quiet and reserved, rarely speaking unless absolutely necessary. I didn't realize it when I was kid, but he weighed his words carefully, never wasting a one. That's a virtue according to the Bible - "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." James 1:19. He did pretty good with 2 out of 3. Not only did Daddy weigh his words, he also loved weighing babies. Whenever a new baby was born into the family, Daddy would pull out a set of old grocery scales. He'd set it up on the kitchen table, line it with a small hand towel, and carefully place the baby onto the curved metal bowl of the scale. Slowly and tenderly, he'd move the weight until the scale was in perfect balance. A gentle smile of satisfaction would cross his face. He'd done it again. After recording the baby's weight, he'd put the scale away until next time. My siblings and I marveled at the way he took such pride and care of that scale. 

As a child, I'd seen that scale in its old rusted state. I don't remember where Daddy said he'd gotten it, but it was unique. I'm pretty sure the scale was iron, it was heavy as lead, that's for sure. 

Daddy scrubbed all the rust off of it with a wire brush and after he'd cleaned it well, he painted it with gold spray paint. It looked almost as good as new. He was proud of it. 

During my childhood, before Daddy painted the scale, Mama would put plastic fake fruit in the bowl of it and sit it on the kitchen table for decoration. Those purple, rubbery grapes and other fruits looked pleasing to the eye, but they were far from it taste wise. I remember plucking a grape off once and trying to eat it. Blech! I spit it out as quickly as I'd popped it in my mouth. 

The Bible speaks a lot about scales, weights and measures. I would love to see photos of some of the tools used for measuring during those times, but I'm not sure there are any available. 

As I was reading my Bible the other day, I came across a verse found in Psalm 62 -

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong and that you, O Lord are loving" (Psalm 62:11-12)

That verse made me think back to the scale. I could imagine a heavenly scale. On one side, God's strength. On the other, His love. Both of those attributes to His character were in perfect harmony and balance. 

God is a God of order. Nothing gets out of balance where He's concerned. Even when things seem to be off kilter, He rights them in a hurry because according to His perfect plan, all things are worked out for our good. 

My Daddy was skilled at getting the scales balanced, although it took time and patience. God balances everything via His righteousness. I'm glad He's got it all under control and I can trust Him to keep our crazy world in check, aren't you? Balance - an even distribution of weight enabling something to stay upright or on course. Yeh. He does a good job at that, my God. Yes, He does. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Stop the merry go round! I want to get off!

When I was growing up, we'd often visit neighborhood playgrounds. The playground equipment provided hours of free fun and entertainment for my siblings and I. The equipment was simple back in the late 50s and early 60s - swings, slides, and merry go rounds. Though nothing fancy, those shiny metal structures brought a lot of joy and a few tears. 

Of the three, I'd have to say the swings were my favorite. I loved being able to propel myself higher and higher with a few strong pumps of my little legs. As the wind whipped through my hair, I'd grip the chain links tightly and smile with glee. 

The slide was fun, too, except on hot, summer days when my bare legs would stick to the hot surface and burn. What a rush to stand on the top rung of the ladder and prepare for the slippery ride down! But for me, it was over too fast and the process of going back around to climb the ladder again for a few short seconds of fun wasn't worth it. 

I also liked the merry go round. My brother, sister, and I would take turns being the pusher. The pusher would grab hold of the metal bar and run alongside the merry go round while attempting to gain enough momentum to propel the weight of the riders. Usually, the pusher only had to work a short period and the merry go round would spin for a few revolutions before another push was needed, but sometimes, depending on the weight of the riders and the strength of the pusher, it could be more challenging. Being a rider was more fun than being a pusher. The rider would sit cross legged on the cold, metal of the merry go round and wait for the spinning to begin. When the merry go round was in full operation, the rider would sit and watch as the scenery passed quickly by. Sometimes, the rider would feel nauseous and dizzy, but more often than not, we'd continue to ride counting it part of the joy, but when an older and much stronger pusher took control, the merry go round could spin too fast and frighten the riders into screaming, "Stop the merry go round! I want to get off!!!" There was a time or two I was the screamer. Most of the time, the pusher would honor the rider's request, but on rare occasions, with a sadistic, non-family member pushing, the merry go round would not be stopped until a parent intervened. 

Today's world seems like a perpetual merry go round. It seems to be going faster and faster minute by minute. Everything seems to be out of control as if an invisible, malevolent hand is pushing harder and faster. And though we cry, "Stop! We want to get off!" the pusher isn't listening. He's laughing with unrestrained hilarity. 

Our feeble attempts to stop the madness aren't working. We're growing dizzier by the minute. Some of us have become physically ill while others of us have become emotionally distraught. There must be a solution! 

And there is. 

Remember how we used to forcibly stop the merry go round from spinning when we wanted to get off? We'd stick out a leg and touch the ground applying more and more pressure creating drag until the equipment slowed enough for the rider to jump off. It was a simple yet effective way to end the ride. Sometimes it took patience for the merry go round to lose momentum, but eventually it did. We can't apply the same technique to today's issues, can we? But we can do one thing - one simple thing the Bible tells us to do. 

In Psalm 46, verse 10, we're told to "Be still and know that I am God." Be still in this fast paced, crazy, out of control world? Why, yes! That's the key. 

When nothing seems to be going right, when everything seems to be spinning out of control, we can choose to stop, find a quiet place, and be still before the Lord. It takes a lot of will power and determination to cease striving in this dog-eat-dog world, but it is doable. And it is beneficial to our well-being. 

In the quiet, we find peace. God wants us to remember, even when things seem haywire, He's still in control. 

Psalm 62:1-2 says, "I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." When we are still, we gain new perspective. If it weren't important for us to do on a daily basis, why would God command us to be still in the first place? He doesn't want us to be in constant motion. He doesn't want us to just slow down either. He wants us to come to a complete stop. Be still. Find Rest. Trust. Don't you just love that? I do.

© Bonnie Annis 2022 

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