Thursday, January 27, 2022
Friday, January 21, 2022
For the past two years, we've all been under a huge amount of mental anguish and none of us have been able to control many facets of our lives. It's been the most challenging event and although we can't yet see an end, we've managed to survive. But how much can we continue to take? All the stress has been detrimental to our health - emotionally and physically. Yet, we have the innate desire to survive.
For those of us who believe in God, we know, even when things are completely out of control, nothing is a surprise to Him. He is Omniscient. That gives me great comfort and a deliberate hope.
Sometimes, I wish I could glimpse what lies ahead but I don't spend much time thinking that. The things of this world are passing away and the hope of glory is just beyond our grasp.
I'm looking forward to going to my eternal home. The older I get, the more I long for it, especially since I've lost so many recently who are dear to me.
Taking one day at a time, one minute at a time has become my personal "mantra" for the duration. It's a whole lot easier to take one little bite at a time rather than trying to devour the whole elephant!
God is so good and I know the best is yet to come. Hope is the key to the future. If you haven't discovered that yet, I hope you will and soon!
Monday, January 17, 2022
We had a lovely snow yesterday. Although we didn't get as much as we expected, it was nice to see the soft, powdery flakes fall. Watching the snow come down was so peaceful. At times it was slow and steady. other times, there was barely any. As I watched it, I was reminded of verses from the Bible that speak about snow. (Those who know me well know I relate everything in life to Scripture. I can't help it. The Bible is my textbook and Jesus is my life.)
A favorite verse about snow is found in the book of Psalms, chapter 51. If you're familiar with that chapter, you know it's about David feeling remorseful for his recent indiscretion with Bathsheba, Uriah the Hittite's wife. When David sinned, he knew what he was doing wrong, but did it anyway. After the dastardly deed was done, David, a man after God's own heart, knew He needed to make things right. His relationship with God had been broken so He asked God to purify him. In verse 7 he says, "Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
In Biblical times, hyssop, an herb similar to species of marjoram, grew in rocky crevices or stone walls. (I had a chance to see it while in Israel as I stood in front of the retaining wall of the Temple. I've attached some photos for your perusal.) The short, brushy stems were gathered into bunches and used in purification rituals.
Hyssop is mentioned eleven times in the Bible, nine times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament. The most memorable reference can be found in John 19:29, when Jesus was given vinegar in a sponge attached to a branch of hyssop. It was also used to spread blood on the lintels and doorposts as the death angel passed. (The Israelites were told to stay in their homes and the sacrificial blood would protect them.) The biblical use of hyssop gives us a clear picture of the washing, cleansing, and saving that can only come from eternal God and this is the kind of cleansing David requested.
The snow David mentions would have been pure and bright, symbolic of an untouched snowfall. His desire was to be completely and utterly clean.
In verse 10, the psalmist says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right and steadfast spirit within me." Not only did David want to be completely purified and washed clean, but he also wanted it to stick. He wanted a life changing cleanliness.
We all want that don't we? Just like the lovely snow we had yesterday, I can completely understand David's desire. We all fight our flesh on a daily basis and when we're walking in our flesh, that ugliness of it is unChristlike.
I'm thankful God is in the business of restoration! I think He takes great delight in cleaning up our messes when we make them. The power of sin is strong and that's why we must put on our armor every single day. Never forget to guard your heart, guard your mind and guard your eyes, that way, you'll be doing what you can to maintain your purity. And in the event you slip, know that your Heavenly Father is faithful! He's always ready to forgive our sin if we'll ask with a repentant heart. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
Sunday, January 16, 2022
As I type this, snow is falling, and the temperatures are dropping. The birds are flitting from tree to tree, doing their best to find food and stay warm. We filled up the feeders yesterday with plenty of sunflower seed. We love our wildlife and try to help take care of them the best we can.
If the snow continues to fall as the day goes on, we'll probably experience some freezing on powerlines and trees. We're praying our power stays on and no trees fall. We've had enough of falling trees from high winds and tornadoes in the past year to last a lifetime. Right now, in fact, there are 2 large pines leaning toward our house. They're resting on smaller trees and are basically what hunters call "widow makers" because of their precarious angle and potential for falling and killing someone. They're on our neighbor's property and yesterday, when we heard him outside with a chainsaw, we thought he was about to take them down, but that wasn't the case. It's challenging living in a rural area but we love it.
We'll keep a close watch on the weather. If the roads freeze up and it's too dangerous to get out, hubby will stay home from work tomorrow. Our driveway is super steep and neither of us need to risk going down it.
The weather, this year, has already been so unpredictable. We heard about a tsunami predicted to hit Hawaii yesterday and then today, as a result of the winter storm, several tornadoes hit the Ft. Meyers area. We're definitely in the end times! The Bible speaks of not being able to tell the seasons during the last days and I believe we're definitely seeing evidence of that now.
I think I'm going to curl up with a good book now and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Ya'll be safe! Catch ya on the flip side.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Our phones have been going off all day with weather alerts. A winter storm is coming and we're expecting some snow and possible ice. When this happens in the South, we take it seriously. People hit the stores early for essentials like toilet paper, milk, and cereal. I've never understood that, though. Why buy milk when there's a good possibility the power will go out? When ice storms hit our area, the power lines freeze up or limbs fall from pine trees taking them out and we have no power. Some have learned over the years to buy back up generators, but those are expensive. Most of us rely on wood burning fireplaces, candles, oil lamps, flashlights, and heavy clothing. In any event, it will be interesting to see what happens. Usually, when the weathermen make a big deal of it, nothing happens conversely, when they don't make a big deal of an approaching storm, we get slammed.
I remember an extreme ice storm we had back in 1973. I was in high school. Our entire neighborhood was frozen solid. No one had power for days, but we were lucky. My parents were old school and we had gas burning furnaces in our house. When the power went out, Daddy just lit the pilot lights on the heaters and we were warm and toasty. Our freezer, which was full of food at the time, was a chest type deep freezer so it thawed food slowly as long as it stayed shut. When neighbors came calling, Mama invited them to stay. My siblings and I squished together and shared beds. Every nook and cranny of our little cinder block home was packed with people. They slept on every available surface including the sofa, the recliner, and even the floor. It was an interesting time. It seemed like we were having a big party although we weren't. Everyone pitched in and got along well, probably because we were all in the same boat and had no choice, but it was fun.
A particular family friend, Pat Shaw, made it extra joyful. Pat had a way of making everything fun. She was the most jovial person I ever had the pleasure of knowing. No matter what the situation, Pat could find humor in it. Her laughter was infectious, and I loved how she made everything better.
In the middle of the day, my siblings, friends, and I would wander the neighborhood. Before we were allowed to go out, we were cautioned about the possibility of downed power lines. We donned several layers of clothing including plastic bread wrappers over our socks inside our shoes to keep our feet dry and warm. Even with our heavy winter coats, hats, and gloves, we'd come home frostbitten. I can still remember the uncomfortable feeling of my fingers and toes as they began to thaw while sitting by the heater or having my digits plunged into a large bowl of lukewarm water.
I remember the trees coated in a beautiful layer of sheer ice. Like a second skin, they glistened in sunlight. Icicles hung from every surface. The neighborhood was eerily quiet - almost a holy reverence. As we carefully trod across the packed snow, my brother, sister, and I could hear the crunching beneath our feet. The snow and ice melded together quickly and became slick. More than once, one of us would fall and while the others tried to help the fallen one up, our feet would slide out from under us and we'd all fall into a heap, laughing so hard we were afraid we'd wet our pants!
Those were the days! So many wonderful memories came from that challenging time. It was almost a shame when the power company got the power back on. All the board games got packed up, and one by one our neighbors said their goodbyes as they went home.
The empty freezer would slowly be refilled, but whenever we'd go out to the garage and see it, we'd be reminded of the odd concoctions my mother and Pat came up with and how they'd cooked outside on the grill.
This year, if we get snowed or iced in, Phil and I will sit by the fire and enjoy a good book if the power goes out. We aren't expecting anything severe, but you never can tell. We've already had several good snows since we moved here almost 8 years ago and we've had 2 ice events. Thankfully, our power was only out a couple of days. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that we don't lose power this time. I love my electric blanket and although I have tons of quilts I could pile on the bed, it's so much nicer to turn up the dial and slide beneath toasty sheets.
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?
Friday, January 14, 2022
Thursday, January 13, 2022
When I got out of bed this morning, the pain was unbearable. As I stood and tried to make it into the bathroom, it felt as if there was no cushion between my bones and they were grating upon each other. Hobbling along, I finally made it but realized my gallant efforts at painting had come back to haunt me. Getting up and down from the step ladder wreaked havoc on my left knee. I'd already been having issues with that knee for months. It had been swelling and had caused difficulty walking. I did see an orthopedic doc and he'd given me a couple of shots of cortisone, and an off-loading knee brace (a brace that would shift the weight onto my good leg). I thought that would solve everything but apparently not. The doctor said if the cortisone didn't do the trick, the next step would be a knee replacement surgery. I wasn't happy to hear that. I didn't want to have any more surgeries.
Today, I pulled out the walker and knee brace. I'm popping Tylenol every 4 hours and hoping to stay off my feet as much as possible. Getting old sucks! When body parts start wearing out, you realize you aren't what you used to be.
I remember laughing in grammar school when we'd sing the song, "The Old Gray Mare." I always thought it funny when we'd reach the line, "She ain't what she used to be." As I remember that song now, it's not quite as funny because I'm finding that song applies to me.
Why do our body parts begin to fail as we grow older? Is it because they just wear out from use or is it because some of us don't have wonderful genes? I've seen videos of people in their 90s who're as fit as fiddles and here I am, at the ripe old age of 64, and I'm falling apart.
There are so many things I want to do and I'm finding I'm having to pace myself as I age. I don't like it, not one little bit.
Hubby told me this morning to try and stay off my leg, to just rest. That would seem like a dream to many but not me. I like to stay busy. It's hard for me to rest, but today, I'm going to try. I know my knee will thank me for it. Maybe I can finish reading one of my books while I sit.
Thankfully, we don't get put out to pasture as we age, especially when we're well loved. This old gray mare ain't what she used to be but she's learning to temper her projects with her energy.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
I've been wanting to put a fresh coat of paint on our front door for months, so I texted hubby the other day and asked him to stop by Lowe's and pick up a gallon of exterior paint for me. I'd done my research and had picked out a durable, weatherproof paint. I picked out the color and took a screenshot. I wanted to make sure he got the exact paint I wanted, and he did. He knows, after being married to me for almost 30 years, if there's something I decide to do, I'm going to do it no matter what. And so, this morning, I set out to paint.
There was prep work to be done first. I taped down plastic to keep paint off the floor then gathered all my painting supplies, paint tray, rollers, brushes, stir stick, and of course paint. Then, I dragged the step ladder onto the front porch because I'm short and knew there was no way I'd reach the top of the door without it. I wasn't prepared for the cold weather. It was only 54 degrees outside and actually, this was the warmest day we'd had so far, but it was cold to me. I don't do cold. So, I came back inside, slipped on a polar fleece jacket and headed back out front.
After opening the can of paint and stirring it well, I was ready to put on a thin first coat. Climbing up onto the step ladder, I prayed for God to protect me so I wouldn't fall. I knew there was no one around to help if I did and even though I had my trusty cell phone nearby, if I fell and knocked myself out, who would tell Siri to call 911? Thankfully, I didn't have to worry. I was very careful and managed to get the first coat on although my hands were freezing, and I was more than ready to come in after completing that task.
While the paint was drying, and yes, it was going to take longer than normal because of the chilly weather, I had lunch and watched a movie on Netflix. I felt a little guilty for taking a "me" break, but figured I deserved it after all my hard work.
Now it's time to lay down the second coat. The temperature has dropped a couple of degrees, but we've got snow coming in this weekend and I need to get another coat on today and one more tomorrow, so I'll have to brave the cold now or wait til Spring thaw to get it done. I'm impatient so that won't happen.
Silly me! If I'd thought about it, I would have waited to paint in the Spring when the weather was nice and warm, and the paint would dry quickly but I didn't. I guess I'm still in full blown post cancer mode where I think I have to do everything with urgency just in case. One of these days, I'll manage to get past that, but for now, it is what it is.
I'm thankful I'm still alive and I can do the things I want to do when I want to do them. Those little things mean a lot to me and even though others may think I'm just plain ridiculous, that's okay. I'm me and I'm happy about that.
When the door is dry and I've hung my pretty wreath out front, our home will look warm and inviting. We may decide to stay here a while longer or maybe not. That remains to be seen! Until we decide, I'll be busy with little projects but hopefully, I'll give the next one a little more thought before beginning.
Monday, January 10, 2022
We stood in front of the Little Free Library perusing the books. As we flipped through the selections, we were also busy munching on frozen Dilly Bars. We'd just picked them up prior to stopping at the book box. Although it was a chilly day, the treat sounded too good to pass up, especially since it was dairy free.
A few minutes later, I heard a male voice saying, "Ma'am? Ma'am." Turning to see who was speaking to us, I noticed a black man standing on the sidewalk. His appearance indicated he was either homeless or very down on his luck. A tattered jacket, unkempt hair, and dirty clothing spoke volumes. As he leaned on his walking stick, I offered a greeting. In a soft voice, he said, "I sure am hungry. I could use a chicken dinner or something." At that very moment my heart broke. I hadn't brought my purse with me and didn't have a dime to my name. My daughter had purchased our ice cream and she didn't have any other money on her person either. Instantly, I apologized and then, doing the first thing that came to mind, I held out the rest of my ice cream bar (which was about half eaten) and said, "Sir, if you'd like to have it and if you wouldn't mind eating after me, I'll be more than happy to give you my ice cream." He refused and smiled. As he turned his body to move up the sidewalk, I glanced down at his shoes. He was wearing old brown work boots and his shoes were untied, the laces dragging on the ground. I don't know why, but I had the strongest urge to go over to him, kneel in front of him, and tie his laces for him but before I could make my way over to him, He was gone! My daughter and I stood dumbfounded between the book box and the sidewalk. Neither of us had seen him leave.
Did we have an angel encounter? We're not sure. But what I do know is this - I felt horrible that I wasn't able to help the man in any way. Yes, I was kind to him, but I didn't do anything to meet his physical need. He was hungry and wanted money for food, but I had none to give him. I felt silly afterward having offered him a half-eaten ice cream bar, but it was all I had.
As my daughter and I left the area, I told her I was going to make a point of being prepared in case I ever faced a situation like that again.
Was the man an angel with skin on? I don't know. Or was he just a guy in search of quick money to buy a bottle of liquor or drugs? I have no idea. I prefer to think he was an angel because of his quick disappearance. If we'd thought quickly, we could have offered to go and buy the man food with my daughter's bank card, but before we had the chance to process the encounter, he was gone.
Maybe God allowed that quick meeting to test our hearts - to see if our motives were pure, or maybe He used the meeting to prompt us to realize how blessed we are. I'm sure we'll never truly understand but it did make us think.
All the way home I felt horrible. I'm a fixer at heart - a fixer with the gift of mercy. Being unable to help the man bothered me terribly.
I still wonder why I was fixated on his untied boots and why I felt the need to kneel in front of him and tie his laces. It was the strangest feeling.
One day, when I get to heaven, I'm going to ask God about that day. I'm sure He'll have a perfect explanation for me, and I'll look forward to hearing the details.
I've had several encounters with angels unawares in the past so I don't doubt the man could have been an angel. In each past event, God has allowed me to cross paths with someone in need. In many of the cases, I was able to help but in some of them, I was the one who received the blessing. I guess this meeting was a teaching moment reminding me to always be ready in season and out of season. I'd have loved to have talked to the man about Jesus, but I didn't get the chance because he disappeared so quickly. And if my daughter hadn't been with me to see him too, I wouldn't have believed it.
Many people don't believe in angels being here on Earth. I believe God allows them to take on human form when necessary. Sometimes He uses them to comfort us, to bring a word of encouragement, or for other reasons only He understands and ordains. If you've never experienced an angel encounter, perhaps one day you will. Believe me when I tell you, you won't see wings peeking out from underneath their clothing. They look like regular folks, just like you and I. The best advice I can give is to treat them with love and kindness. Listen closely and ask God for discernment. The encounters are rare, but always for a reason.
Thursday, January 6, 2022
This morning I had an appointment with the endocrinologist. My thyroid level has been extremely low and the primary care physician has tried his best to manage it but has been unable to keep me in normal range. I don't fault him, really. It must be hard to medicate a person without a thyroid gland and keep the hormone level just so, that's why I decided it would be best for me to remain under the endocrinologist's care.
I'd made the appointment through the online app and was able to get the first appointment of the day. I like those early appointments because the doctor is usually energetic and cheerful.
Arriving at the hospital just before 8:00 a.m., I lucked up and found a parking spot close to the front door. The wind was whipping as I exited the car and I realized a cold front was moving in. I was thankful I'd worn my down coat and a pashmina shawl. Tucking a book under my arm, I donned the mandatory mask and headed for the door. As I walked, I looked around. The hospital reminded me of a large ant hill and the people looked like little ants busily going to and fro, in and out, always on the move.
The office staff was efficient and moved me into a room quickly. The doctor came in and went over my records then received an emergency phone call and begged forgiveness as she stepped out of the room. I waited a few minutes and then she knocked and re-entered. We continued our conversation and once again, she received an emergency call and needed to leave the room. When she returned, she apologized profusely explaining she had a patient in the ER, and she was coordinating care with the physician on call. I told her it was okay, and I understood completely. I felt sorry for her. She was obviously stressed but managed to give me her undivided attention once her phone stopped vibrating. She ordered labs and said she'd see me in 2 weeks. We said our goodbyes and I walked down the hall for the labwork.
The phlebotomist was nice and took her time locating a vein. I explained why I had to have blood drawn from my hand and that was the segue that led to our conversation about breast cancer. She shared that her mother had suffered from breast cancer and also developed lymphedema. Then she told me she was concerned about one of her breasts. As she shared her symptoms, I encouraged her to get a mammogram as soon as possible. I explained a lot of women think the only symptom of impending breast cancer is finding a lump and that's not necessarily the case. Many women experience puckering or dimpling of the breast, itching or scaling, and various other symptoms like tenderness, hotness, or redness.
Leaving the office, I called the number the doctor had given me to set up a bone density test. I wasn't expecting to receive a same day appointment but as luck would have it, that's exactly what happened. I got an 11:30 a.m. appointment so I shot across the street to grab some Chick-Fil-A and returned to the parking lot at the hospital to eat it. (I'd skipped breakfast because I knew the doc would probably want to do a fasting blood panel and I was right.) While I wolfed down my chicken minis, I got a call from my youngest daughter. We talked for the next 30 minutes and then it was time for me to go inside.
Walking up and down the hall, I finally found the office. On the wall outside the suite, it said Diagnostics - Breast Cancer Center. I wondered why I was having a bone density test at a breast cancer center. I assumed I'd have it at the imaging department of the hospital.
I checked in and sat to wait. About twenty minutes later, a nurse called my name. I followed her back to the dressing room and watched as she pulled a pink robe from underneath a cabinet and a green plastic drawstring bag from the drawer beside it. She handed them to me and told me to choose a dressing room, remove everything from the top half of my body, and come out when ready.
Inside the dressing room, I held the pink robe. All of a sudden, feelings I hadn't felt in years came flooding back in. I remembered the first time I'd had to don one of "those open in the front robes." It had been at the breast surgeon's office while there for my initial consultation. I was so scared that day and so embarrassed. I didn't want to bare my chest in front of anyone but knew I must.
When I'd removed my clothing and put on the robe, I walked out into the central waiting area. There were half a dozen other women clad in the same type robe. All of them were talking about their breast cancer as if it were a social club meeting. I chose a chair in the corner and listened. Beneath their masks, I could head their voices but was unable to see their facial expressions. One woman shared she was in the midst of chemo, another recently had a mastectomy, and the others were there for diagnostic mammograms. I never said a word. I wanted to tell them I was a survivor of almost 8-years but didn't. I didn't want to lump myself into their category for some reason. I guess it was too scary to think about being back in the routine of breast cancer care again. I'd left those thoughts behind years ago when I'd received the news of my 5-year cancerversary. Passing that mark, I assumed I was home free and now, at almost 8 years post cancer, I still felt the same way. I didn't want to do anything to jinx it.
The DEXA scan went quickly, and the radiology tech was kind. She said I'd receive the results in about 2 days. Thanking her I went back to the dressing room, changed, and almost ran out of the office as the tears began to flow. I hadn't realized how emotional I'd be.
I guess the fear of recurrence will always be with me. Though I hadn't thought of breast cancer much since my last annual exam, that little pink robe screamed loud and clear - "You could get bad results and go through this all over again, you know." But as soon as the thought cross my mind, I whispered back, "Maybe, but not unless God allows it."
I trust that He's got my back, my front, my sides, and the rest of me and I will continue to claim myself to be cancer free. And if He ever deems it necessary for me to go through the trial of breast cancer again, I'll face that day in His power and grace but in the meantime, I'm going to remind myself that's a great big "IF." I pray it will never be a reality in this lifetime. I've done my time. I've paid my dues and that should count for something but I'm also not naive. Many women have recurrences of cancer, but I don't want to be counted among them and I'm going to do whatever I can to stay healthy and strong, today and in the future.
Hmm. How can such a little "word" represent such deep thought? And yes, it is a word. Look it up if you don't believe me. Lat...