Wednesday, June 12, 2024

If it ain't one thing, it's another!

 

Trying to smile through the pain

I've been AWOL for a while now, so this post will more than likely be longer than most. I don't even know where to begin so I guess I'll just start and possibly backtrack at some point. 

On May 6th, I was scheduled for a hiatal hernia repair surgery. I went in for surgery, stayed one night and thought all was well when they sent me home. I had 8 laparoscopic incisions and was definitely sore, but figured that was par for the course. 

I was sent home with detailed instructions on diet - 2 days of completely clear liquids, 2 weeks of soft liquids (think protein shakes, yogurt and non chunky soups) and then a full liquid diet for a month before progressing to normal food 2 months later. Long story short, that never happened. 

On Friday of the same week, something weird started happening. My belly swelled up like I was carrying triplets and it really hurt. I knew something was definitely wrong and told hubby I'd better go to the emergency room.
Quickly, he shuttled me there and I didn't have to wait long to get put into a room. After many tests, they determined I'd developed an Ileus, a complication from abdominal surgery. Without going into tons of detail, it basically means your belly is full of gas and your bowels aren't working. It's an emergency situation so I'm glad I went to the ER!

They immediately inserted a nasogastric tube, which is extremely painful! I've only had it done once before and that was way back in 1971 when I had emergency gall bladder surgery. I'd forgotten how painful the procedure was.  The nurses were kind and kept saying they were sorry as they shoved the hard tubing into my nose and down my esophagus into my stomach. I cried the entire time and that's saying a lot for me. I have a pretty high pain tolerance but this thing, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. 

I stayed in the emergency room overnight as they tried to decide what to do with me. Finally it was determined I'd be transported to Piedmont Atlanta, the hospital my surgeon was based out of. They felt like he needed to follow up since he was the one who did the original procedure and to quote one of the nurses, when I asked why they weren't keeping me at Piedmont Newnan, "We don't like to clean up other folks messes." That didn't make me feel good...

About 7:30 AM I was put into a specialized ambulance with the capability for suctioning and draining the nasogastric tube. (I'd been told 3 times prior different times I'd be moved but those ambulances weren't equipped with the suctioning machinery, so I had to wait.)

When I arrived at Piedmont Atlanta, I was put on the cardio thoracic floor. Since I also have blood pressure issues, I guess they wanted to monitor everything all at once. The nurses were attentive and I was thankful Phil was about to stay with me. At that time, I had no idea I'd be kept there an entire week. 

When he found out I was being transferred from one hospital to another, I told him to go home and get some sleep. He'd been with me and hadn't gotten a wink of sleep in about 14 hours. I asked him to pack a bag for each of us with clothing and necessities and he assured me he would. Well, guys don't pack like we do. 

When he got back to the hospital the morning they were moving me, I asked if he'd packed several different things. He said he'd forgotten because he was so tired. I didn't know what we'd do, since the ambulance was arriving and we had to leave. 

He followed me to the hospital and when we were assigned a room, he brought our things in from the car. We had no idea what was going to happen until later that afternoon when one of my docs partners stopped by to explain things to us. 

They would keep me hooked up to a suctioning machine that would remove all of my stomach contents and help ease the swelling. I wouldn't be allowed to have anything to eat other than ice chips for 2 days then they'd reassess. In the meantime, they ran all sorts of bloodwork and monitored me every hour or two with blood pressure checks and recording vitals. 

Since I had the nasogastric tube in, I didn't get much sleep. I normally sleep on my side but had to sleep on my back. Also, I couldn't have my cpap on so they had to hook me up to oxygen at night. 

Every day, one or more of my IVs would blow and they'd have to find another place to insert one. With Lymphedema (a complication of breast cancer surgery) they could only use my left arm below the elbow. That meant every IV had to be done in the tiny veins of my hand or in one of the ones below my elbow joint. There weren't a lot of options! Most of the IV team had to use an infrared scanner to even find a vein. 

Every day I was also give Heparin shots to prevent blood clots. Those suckers hurt like a really bad bee sting! They gave them either in my stomach or in the back of my arm. (When I went home, I looked like I'd been in a bad fight with all the bruising!)

At the end of the week, after trying to give me TPN through an IV and having it infiltrate into my shoulder muscle, the doc said they'd remove the nasogastric tube and let me try liquids again. I was so happy! 

A team of 4 nurses came in to remove the tubing. At the time, I didn't realize there were so many of them because only one had ever seen one inserted or knew how to remove it and she wanted to teach the others. 

When they began to pull the tubing out of my nose, I said, "Once you start pulling, you'd better do it quick and not stop or I might scream!" So they did. 

That afternoon, they brought me a small container of apple juice, some crushed ice and some chicken broth. That stuff never tasted so good!

Fast forward 37 days. I'm still on soft liquids. When I tried to progress through original diet plan they gave me, I had trouble with food getting stuck in my esophagus. Immediately I contacted the doctor and she said I'd probably have to have my esophagus stretched again. (This will make the 3rd or 4th time now!) I can't get in to see her until June 21 so I imagine I'll have lost even more weight by then. I've already lost about 15 pounds since all this junk started. 

I'm so thankful Phil has been so encouraging and supportive throughout the entire process. Without him by my side, I don't think I would have made it. 

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to my middle daughter, Laura, who went shopping for me. She picked up most of the items Phil forgot when he was packing. 

My youngest daughter, Jamie and her husband, Thomas, came to visit as well as my son, Dave, and my sister, Valerie. I really needed those visits more than they knew. I had become quite depressed at all that was happening to me medically. 

It's hard when you can't control anything about your body. I still don't know exactly why my insides decided to shut down other than things I heard medical staff say. They told me when you have abdominal surgery, docs fill your belly with CO2 to inflate you enough to clearly see and work on your organs. Most times, your body expels that gas but sometimes, when they're in there jiggling stuff around, it can cause your intestines to stop functioning and that leads to big problems. 

I guess, when I see the doc at my upcoming appointment, she's going to recommend I have my esophagus stretched again. That means being put to sleep and having an outpatient procedure. 

I was supposed to have a knee replacement earlier this year but have been trying my best to put it off as long as possible. I've already had 2 surgeries on that knee but the doc said at my last appointment it's now bone on bone and my last option is replacement. 

I told Phil I think my body is just falling apart. As we get older, things just start to wear out. It's so hard because there are so many things I still want to be able to do and I really need to be able to walk without pain. (I've been wearing a knee brace for the past 3 years - since my lateral meniscectomy and my chondroplasty.) I definitely don't want a knee replacement and don't look forward to rehab after but I guess I don't have much choice. 

First of all, I have to get this belly junk resolved and then we'll think about the knee. 

I have an upcoming vacation I want to enjoy and early next year, I have another cruise to go on. I'm praying, by then, I'll be healed up and feeling normal again (whatever that feels like! It's been a very long time since I've felt normal...)

Please keep me in your prayers and if you feel like it, leave a comment (please be nice!) Thanks for reading and hopefully, I won't be lax in posting again. Hopefully, you can understand why there's been such a gap after reading this post.

Friday, May 3, 2024

A robot is going to do my surgery?



My innards have decided they don't want to work anymore. For the past 3 years, I've been having issues. First, it started with difficulty swallowing, so the doctor did an endoscopy and found a narrowing of my esophagus, so he stretched it. That helped some but it didn't last long. 4 endoscopies later and two more stretchings along with mega doses of Protonix and Gaviscon, and I'm still unable to eat or swallow normally. So, they said I need surgery to correct the problem. 

I was okay with that, but when I found out a robot would be doing the surgery, I freaked out. I didn't want to be a human guinea pig. 

Yesterday, I had a virtual visit with my surgeon (yep, he's super busy so we had to do it this way). I asked him to tell me all about the robotic surgery. He assured me he'd be controlling the "hands and arms" of the robot. When I asked why a robot would be used, he explained the robotic arms could bend in odd directions and were able to be manipulated into tiny spaces. That made sense, but I still didn't like it. 

I listened carefully as the doc explained they'd do a 270 degree wrap of my stomach around my esophagus instead of the old way of doing a 360 wrap. He said they'd discovered the 270 degree wrap allowed the patient the ability to vomit if necessary while the 360 degree wrap did not. I guess that's a good thing???

Anyway, Monday's the big day. I'm nervous but it needs to be done. 

I hate they can't just do it as outpatient surgery. Staying in overnight won't be fun, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right? 

I guess it's a unique way to lose weight. I'll be on a liquid diet for 2 months! I guess I'll try and look at it like a fast. That might make it a little easier. 

Here's to praying for no complications. I've had enough of those throughout my life. What's one more surgery anyway? I've already had more than half a dozen. 

I'm thankful for medical technology and the advancements that have developed over the years, but I'm really getting tired of this kind of stuff. Total knee replacement is next...

Getting old sucks. Hopefully this helps me live a little longer and have a better quality of life. We shall see! 


 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

When a friend reaches out after a cancer diagnosis

When a good friend reached out to tell me of her cancer diagnosis, treatment plan, and next steps, I felt like I was going to relive my cancer experience as she went through hers. It felt like a type of cancer déjà vu. I didn’t like it but knew she needed me to help her navigate those first days post diagnosis.

I heard Messenger ping as the notification came through on my cell phone. One of my high school friends was reaching out to let me know she’d received a date for surgery and her treatment plan.

Several weeks before, she’d let me know she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was sorry to hear it and gave her my sympathies but also my love and support as I assured her, I’d be with her every step of the way.

She told me what the surgeon had said she’d need not only to have her breast removed, but also some lymph nodes. My heart went out to her, though our diagnoses were slightly different, they were very much the same.

I penciled in her surgery date on my calendar and made a mental note to pray for her that day. I also wanted to check in after surgery was over, so I circled a day later that week in red. That way I’d be reminded to call and talk with her.

She told me she’d have 4-5 rounds of radiation and would then have a port installed for chemotherapy. As I read her words, they were so matter of fact, I knew, as I read between the lines, she was in shock, the same as I had been when I received my treatment plan.

She said after radiation and chemo was over, she’d start antihormone therapy. I asked which drug her doctor had recommended and she said Arimidex. That’s when the feeling of Déjà vu became even stronger. I’d been on the same one until I couldn’t tolerate it.

I did my best to give her a nutshell version of what to expect as each aspect of her treatment occurred. I knew she’d appreciate my sharing personal experiences with her.

After she thanked me and we ended our conversation, I paused to remember a certain week, almost 10 years ago, when I got the same type of news. It was an extremely hard day. The whole week I walked around in disbelief.

I didn’t have anyone to tell me what to expect, though I wished I did. It would have been so helpful to have known ahead of time what was coming my way.

I was thankful I was able to give my friend a heads up. And not only did I do that, I told her she had a right to ask for a second opinion and could refuse any part of the treatment plan she didn’t feel best suited for her.

Little things like the message I received can spark memories of my active time in cancer land. While I’d much rather forget my time there, I’m also thankful I can use those days to support and inform the newly diagnosed.

Cancer Déjà vu, I don’t know if it really exists or not. It’s just a phrase I coined to explain the way I felt when my friend reached out, but I’m sure those who’ve experienced cancer will know what I mean when I say that.

It’s hard to relive time in cancer land. The feelings of “been there, done that” aren’t ones we enjoy, but those feelings are real and may pop up when someone we love and care about goes through a similar situation.

As a good friend, I think it’s important to share openly and honestly as we remember our own journey, but not to overwhelm someone with things they don’t need to know.

 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

The Healing Power of Art


Yesterday, my husband and I decided to take advantage of some free classes at our local library. We'd looked through a list of upcoming courses and had chosen one we thought would be enjoyable. I've loved art since childhood and thought it might be fun to introduce my husband to the healing power of art. 

I've loved art since childhood and as a self-taught artist, have grown exponentially in using different mediums throughout the years, but had never participated in an art journaling course, the one offered for this session.

We arrived at the library about 15 minutes before class began and introduced ourselves to other members of the class. There were only 10 of us and after talking, we found out 3 of us were neighbors. 

When the door was opened and the instructor came out, we were surprised to find she was very young. None of us were greeted or given instruction of any kind, so we just walked in and found a place at the long table in the center of the room. 

We waited for Bailey, the class instructor, to start but she never did. Noticing a table with some art supplies on it, I got up and walked over to see what items were available. There were markers, a few stencils, some rubber stamps, torn papers, and some magazines. Not much in the way of art supplies, I thought. Taking a few of the items I went back to my seat and waited. Others soon followed suit. 

Bailey passed out some 4x6 blank notebooks and told us to just get messy. That's all she said and then she sat down to work on her own art journal. Everyone in the group looked bewildered. They had no idea where to start. 

On the table were small pots of Mod Podge, some glue sticks, and some plastic cups of water. My husband looked at me and said, "What do we do?" I told him how to begin and then started to put some gesso on my journal pages. The ladies around watched and began to do the same thing. 

The room was quiet as people began to glue items into their journals. Occasionally, I walked back up to the supply table to get more items and as I did, I'd glance to see what others were doing. One lady had taken a red marker and written the word, "SUCKS," boldly across her journal page and underlined it several times. I assumed she meant the class sucked, which it did. 

We were all discouraged but no one said a thing. I told my husband I could have taught the class easily and if given the opportunity, I would have instructed the students on step by step procedures to build their pages. 

Bailey must have been fresh out of high school or in her first year of college. I'm not sure if she was timid or just had no idea how to teach a class. In any event, what basically happened was a group of 10 adults sat down and pretended to know what they were supposed to do. It was very sad. 

The class would have been so fun to teach! I would have introduced myself (which Bailey never did, we only knew her name from her nametag), then I would have passed out the journals, and had taken time to talk about the various mediums and supplies available. Then I would have had the students take a few moments to think about what they might want to do. Did they want to focus on a feeling, an experience, a word? And if so, how might they like to express it? Would they want to paint? Scrapbook? How would they want to convey their thoughts? I'd have also talked about the possibility of layering items for my depth and interest. 

The class was slated for an hour and a half. During that time, I completed 2 journal pages and got to know my neighbors well. Phil struggled to get one page completely done and the women across from me struggled as well. 

If given an opportunity, I'll leave a detailed review for Bailey. I hope it will help her in the future. If she's planning on getting a degree in art or art therapy, she's got a long way to go. 

Art should be a beautiful tool for  self-expression. I think Bailey needs to understand that. 


Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Necessity is the mother of invention

Greek philosopher, Plato, once said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Though I've heard that saying since childhood, I never truly understood it until I became a teen. That's when I realized if I needed a solution to a problem, I could usually find a way to fix it. I've employed many techniques through the years to meet my needs, most of which have involved my love of crafting. 

This morning, as I was unpacking from our recent move, I came across a set of hand crocheted breast forms. I'd ordered the forms about 9 years ago from an organization called "Knitted Knockers." The organization was formed to help survivors of breast cancer and other breast surgeries with free breast substitutes. Volunteers made the forms by crocheting or knitting breast forms that could be filled with polyester fiberfill. The forms could be easily adjusted to fit the recipient's needs by either adding or removing the amount of fiberfill in each form. It was a wonderful concept, and I really liked the fact that the volunteers were willing to give their time and energy for such a worthy cause. 

Breast prostheses are very expensive, especially the silicone ones. Even with insurance, the forms can run hundreds of dollars. When my husband was working, it wasn't a problem but since he's retired, I've had to become more cost conscious. 

Finding the forms in my drawer was a blessing, but I remembered there had been a problem with them when I initially ordered them. The polyester fiberfill was so lightweight, the forms weren't heavy enough to weigh my bra down. That meant, with any movement, the bra would ride up and the forms wouldn't be in their proper place. Instead of being on my chest, where they should rightly reside, they would end up just beneath my collar bone and sometimes, under my chin! 

In the past, I did try to find a way of weighting the forms, so they'd stay put. But nothing I tried worked well. I tried marbles, I tried birdseed, I tried Play-Doh stuffed into plastic baggies and tucked beneath the fiberfill. Besides being uncomfortable against my chest, the forms continued to shift and move. 

But today, I had a new idea. 

An older friend had given me a large bag filled with black beans. She'd received them from a government assistance program for those on fixed incomes. Since I don't usually cook dried beans, I'd let the bag sit in my pantry for a couple of years. I figured one day, I'd make the effort to cook them, but never did. Since they were that old, I assumed they wouldn't be good to cook and eat, but they might just be good for something else. 

Taking the crocheted forms from my bedroom, I went into the kitchen and removed the fiberfill. It only took a couple of minutes to pull the stuffing out and pop it into the trashcan. I looked carefully at the forms. They'd been masterfully crafted and the volunteer who'd made them had even sewn on a small protective flap that could be tucked into the top of the form to hold in the contents. 

With the flap up, the bag of beans on the counter, and a box of Ziplock bags, I got busy. I tried to guess how many beans to put in each form to make them even but also constitute the typical B cup I'd been before surgery to remove my breasts. It was nearly impossible to do it without a funnel. After spilling beans all over my kitchen floor, I took a few minutes to think. There had to be a better way. 

I found a small plastic measuring cup that I used for measuring liquid Tylenol for my grandchildren. I emptied out one form and guestimated how many cups of beans I'd need. 8 tiny measuring cups seemed about right so I put that exact amount in the plastic bag, zipped it up, and tucked it in the breast form. Then I did the same for the other form. Placing a form in each hand, I weighed them against each other. They felt perfect!

I cleaned up my mess and took the forms into my bedroom. Pulling out a mastectomy bra, I slid a form in each of the breast pockets. Lifting the bra, I could tell the weight was sufficient and felt very similar to my silicone forms. 

Slipping the bra on, I fastened the hook and paid attention to how the bra felt. It didn’t' feel lumpy or uncomfortable. In fact, it felt much more comfortable than my old silicone forms. Hmm...maybe I was on to something. 

Looking into the top of my pantry, I noticed several other bags of dried beans. I had green and red lentils, Pinto beans, Navy beans, and Chickpeas. Maybe the lentils would have been a little better than the black beans, but since I eat lentils fairly often, I didn't want to waste them on the homemade boobs, plus, it would have taken much more of the lentils to fill up each form. 

I think my invention is pretty good. The plastic will keep the beans from sprouting with the heat of my body against them and keep them from escaping barring bumping into something sharp. The zipper on the bag should hold well, unless I failed to press it properly when sealing, so I should be good at least for a few months before I need to do a self-check. 

Bean boobs, ha! How funny! Necessity is definitely the mother of invention, but you could also say survivors find ways of making things work especially since many things related to cancer are so expensive. 

I'm not ashamed to admit I did this. I'm sure there are others out there who are more inventive than I am. Maybe I'll discover an even better process in the future, but until then, my pantry will be my go to source. My pantry is normally full, too. I'm a prepper at heart. But prepping doesn't just revolve around food, water, and survival items like that. Women who've endured double mastectomies know we only have two choices - to go flat or to wear prostheses. I go flat most days, but when I want a little projection, beans work pretty well. When innovation meets creativity, you never know what might happen!



Sunday, March 3, 2024

Annual checkup time

In 11 days I have to go for my annual checkup at the cancer treatment center. It's a visit I kinda dread and am kind of excited for at the same time. I dread it because I don't like being around the visual reminders that cancer is real and ugly and relentless. It's so hard to walk the halls of the treatment center and see the expressions on the faces of the men and women there. I can instantly tell those just beginning treatment. They look bewildered and lost while those who've become veteran cancer patients display expressions of boredom or frustration. 

The cancer center is set up like a bicycle wheel. The center of the wheel is the hub of the treatment facility where the administration team works. There are receptionists and administrative staff here. They greet guests, help with financial issues, give out directions, and do whatever they can to aid patients during their stay. The spokes of the wheel are specific medical services like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, imaging, holistic health services, the labs, etc. It's a well-organized building and patients learn their way around quickly. 

For the past few years, when I go for my checkups, I've felt out of place. I've even noticed other patients looking at me with that "what are you doing here?" look on their faces. On the outside, I look pretty healthy. I don't show outward evidence of ever being a cancer patient, but on the inside, they have no idea what I've been through. 

This week, I've had some concerns I know I'll need to bring up to the doc when I go for my appointment. I've been having terrible hip pain, deep in the joint of my right hip. It's been so bad I can hardly walk. I also found a large lump on the back of my neck. I don't want to think those are bad omens, but it's hard not to let my mind wander there. 

I'm sure, when I bring those things up at my appointment, the doctor will pay close attention. She will more than likely order some imaging tests. I'm due for a PET scan again, but if blood work looks good, they may not want to do one. I'm kind of hoping they do. I'd rather be on guard looking for potential problems than discover them too late and have to figure out what to do about them then. Being proactive just makes sense to me, cancer isn't something I want to gamble with. 

But I'm going to try my best not to dwell on the what ifs. You can't live in that land and hope to maintain your sanity. So, I guess I'll just keep on with my daily routine until my appointment comes and see what the doctor has to say. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I would appreciate your prayers. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

The creative juices are flowing again!

We've been in our new home for almost two weeks now and we've unpacked almost all the boxes. It feels good to see things starting to fall into place and this once empty house is beginning to feel like home. 

I've missed doing all of my art projects! Art is my self-imposed therapy. While I've always loved art since childhood, it became more important to me after being diagnosed with cancer. Art helped express my deepest feelings, the ones I couldn't voice. I didn't realize how important it was to me until we began packing to move. 

Cramming my art supplies in boxes was painful. Hundreds of brushes, paints, palettes, knives, and other materials would lie dormant until I had time to pull them out again. And though I wanted to open those boxes when we first arrived, I needed to prepare a place to do art. I didn't have a designated studio. Nope. I'd have to use one of the guest rooms in my new house. The only problem was the carpet. Any artist knows paint inevitably spills or drops on the floor. Carpet isn't a good thing to have in a studio/art area. 

I got on the internet searching for something to put under my easel. I could use a canvas drop cloth, but it would bunch under my feet and I'd probably trip, so I nixed that idea. I knew I wanted something that would be waterproof and easy to clean but didn't know what. I would've been nice to have a clear plastic mat, like the ones you use for a rolling chair at a desk, but I'd need one much bigger. When I couldn't find one, I opted for the next best thing - a splat mat. It's a waterproof mat for use under highchairs. I found one with rainbows on it in various shades of tan and brown which would perfectly match the carpet. 

My easel was sitting in the garage of our new house so I could get to it quickly. I set up the splat mat and placed the easel on top. Perfect! But the room looked empty with the stark white walls. Something had to be done about that. 

Pulling out my Cricut cutting machine and a huge roll of black vinyl, I got to work. I wanted to make a fun, funky, abstract border. After about half an hour of designing my images, I began cutting the vinyl. I cut out 15 separate 12x12 sheets then I began the process of weeding. (That's where you take a small pick like tool and remove the portions of vinyl you don't want to adhere to your surface.) Another hour passed and finally I had all 15 art sections weeded and ready for placement. 


I measured and marked the wall so I'd know where each sheet would go, then I transferred the images from one sheet at a time to a piece of transfer paper. Next, I took the transfer paper to the wall and lined it up with my markings before permanently adhering the images to the wall. 

The whole process took up most of my day but when the project was complete, I was happy! I'd created my own little artsy space. 

I haven't decided what I'm going to work on first, but I imagine it will be something Easter related. I like to do paintings and donate to various ministries.

Now to find the boxes with my gesso, paints, and canvases then I can get busy. I'm so thankful I have a creative outlet. It makes my life so much fun!

 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A light at the end of the tunnel

Finally! There's a light at the end of the tunnel! There are only a few more boxes that need to be unpacked and we'll have managed to completely get settled into our new home. I'm so glad. Moving sucks. And it has felt like the boxes were having babies behind my back. 


There are so many details to moving. Yesterday, we made a visit to the post office to cancel our post office box and turn in the keys. We won't need it any longer now that we have an actual mail box in front of the house. 

Next, we went by the county's driver's license bureau to update our mailing addresses on our licenses, but they were closed so we swung by the tag office and secured my handicapped plate. Thankfully my doctor agreed I needed one. This knee is still giving me fits and it looks like knee replacement is inevitable. 

The day started out with jury duty. I hate being called for service and prayed I wouldn't have to be there all day. Thankfully, we were dismissed at noon. The judge said they'd managed to get 97% of the cases either negotiated with plea deals or dismissed. He thanked us for our service, we were given a $50 debit card and that was that. 

While at the tag office, we noticed some early voting signs and orange cones set up to guide voters into the facility. We figured why not kill two birds with one stone and managed to be in and out of the voting booths in under 10 minutes. It felt good to get our presidential vote cast. And I thought it funny, when we marked our party choice, there was only one candidate on the ballot. You know who that was and yes, we did vote for him!

After those errands, we swung by the hardware store to pick up some picture hangers for my art. The walls are so white here and in definite need of color. I can't wait to get everything in place, especially since we'll soon have some out-of-town visitors. 

One home, we puttered around the house doing all the little things we needed to do. We met a few more neighbors and it seems this neighborhood is not only quiet but folks here are very friendly. 

It's hard to believe March is just around the corner. My visit to the City of Hope will be mid-month and I'm both excited and nervous for this one. It will be my 10th cancerversary soon. It's so hard to believe I've survived breast cancer that long. Every time I go for my annual scans, I can't help but wonder if something is going to appear on the PET scan causing me concern or worry. I try my best not to think that way, but it's part of the PTSD that comes along with cancer. Survivors live in fear of recurrence, even if they don't like to admit it. 

We're planning to attend the big St. Paddy's Day parade in Dublin this year. I can't wait for that! It should be a lot of fun. 

As the year continues to move forward, I hope you have things to look forward to. It's always nice to have little things that bring joy. 

Thanks for stopping by today. Hopefully my posting will be more regular now that we have the computer out and set up, internet active, and I have more time to actually write. I appreciate your loyalty! Have a lovely day. 


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Disrespect is not nice!


I've been blogging since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, that's 10 years! In that time, I've never dealt with anyone making unkind remarks or using profanity when posting a comment. But the other day, as I was checking comments (because I have moderations turned on), I found a very nasty comment filled with profanity. Immediately, I was hurt. I didn't understand why someone would be so unkind and use such filthy language. Needless to say, I deleted the comment and did not post it. 

My blog is mine. Everything I post contains my own personal thoughts and feelings. I don't force anyone to read it and I have never tried to post anything that would upset or wound another. I just don't understand why someone would feel the need to write such filth on my blog. Shame on them!

So, that one person's actions have caused me to resort to disabling the comments for any of my posts. I don't want to have to worry about being personally attacked by someone's stupidity in the future. 

You know what they say about opinions, and I won't share the quote here because it isn't very nice, but you can Google it, I'm sure. Everyone has their own opinion and since this is America, everyone has the freedom of speech, or so they say. 

I'm sorry if anything I've written has offended anyone. That has never been my intention. 

I am very thankful for the readers who consistently follow my blog. You're either family or friends I've treasured for years and for those I've never met, I love you, too. For me, it's an honor to have someone take the time to read what I write. There are so many things to read on the internet, and my little blog is just a tiny drop in that huge sea of information. 

Forgive the rant today. I won't mention that person's ugliness again, but let me tell you, the person was too chicken to leave a name when they made the comment. That tells me they're a spineless wimp filled with venom. 

I'm a firm believer in what goes around comes around. God doesn't reward unkindness. We will all be held responsible for every word we think, speak, or write. And I know when I stand before Him one day, I won't have to feel guilty about the words I've put forth into the universe. 

Words are powerful. They can kill or they can give life. I hope your words are edifying to others like I try to make mine be. 

Now, with that out of the way, I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day and I hope you felt loved.  My husband showered me with roses, a beautiful card, a bottle of champagne, and some chocolate covered strawberries. It was such a special day! I think we should celebrate love and happiness every day, don't you? 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

I'm too old for this!

Moving stinks!!! I've never met anyone who loved moving, but I'm sure there are some folks out there who like to relocate. NOT ME! Packing is the pits. Now I know why some people hire professional movers, it's stressful doing it yourself. 

How do things multiply when you're not looking? I'd like to know! As I've been packing things up, it seems no matter how many boxes I've already done, there's so much more to do! 

If I could have a magic power, I'd have the power to transport me and all my stuff to our new home in the blink of an eye. It would instantly be set up exactly as I want it and all I'd have to do is walk in the front door and shout, "I'm home!" But you know what they say about wishes... "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." 

I've gotten about half of the house packed up already and hope to be done by the weekend, but I'm not sure it's going to happen. If not, I'll push it into next week. 

My husband and I have agreed this will be our LAST move until we're called home to heaven. We're too old for this! 

Needless to say, I'll be super busy over the next few days so I may not have a chance to post. I'll try, but I can't promise. 

I hope you'll have a wonderful Valentine's Day celebrating with the one/ones you love. A sweet friend of mine told me to celebrate with a bottle of champagne and some chocolate covered cherries. I think that's a great idea! Hopefully you can find a nice way to celebrate, too. 


Is it just me, or does the year seem like it's flying by already? Before we know it, it will be Christmas again! I've always heard it said that time goes by faster the older you get and I'm learning it's true. I guess that means after I'm all moved in, I'd better start my online Christmas shopping or maybe we'll just skip it this year, like the Kranks! That sounds pretty good to me! 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Cruise packer needed!

 

I wonder if there's such a thing as a professional cruise packer. I mean, we have personal shoppers for just about everything now, surely there's someone who's great at packing and is making money doing it, right? Well, if there is such a service, I wish I'd known about it and signed up for it months ago!

I am not a good packer. Usually, I tend to overpack. I want to make sure I have any and everything I could possibly need, no matter what. Thankfully, I have a suitcase scale, otherwise, I'd always be well over the 50-pound limit. Right now, I'm at 43 and have a couple more things to put in...

But this is supposed to be fun, they said. So why have I been running around like a chicken with her head cut off all morning trying to consider every tiny possibility that could come up and what I might need for it? Why is my husband's suitcase always so easy to pack? He never has to do anything to get ready for a trip except load the bags into the car. I wish I was so lucky!

I know it will all come together, it always does, but I wish I could revert to my camping days. Back then, I knew how to keep my pack light. I only took what I absolutely needed because I knew I was going to be hiking with that pack on my back. I think the heaviest pack I ever took was 35 pounds and part of that weight was from the backpack's frame, my tent, and sleeping bag. Very few of those pounds were actual clothing items or small essentials. 

Maybe I can breathe easy after we've boarded the ship. How I long to look out over the ocean and at a beautiful sunrise or sunset! 

This first cruise better be worth it! It's sure been a hassle getting ready for it. Too bad I didn't think about hiring a professional. And that little checklist up there in the corner of this post, it doesn't have half the things I think you need for a 7-day cruise. But that's just my opinion. We'll see. 

When we come back, I'll give an update. Maybe I packed way too much, maybe I packed just enough. Who knows?! At least I won't have to iron anything. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Color Oops!

Wow did I make a big mistake! I wanted to do something new to my hair in preparation for our upcoming trip, so I bought some hair dye. I used to dye my hair all the time but since my cancer diagnosis, I stopped. 

I don't even remember when I first started coloring my hair but it was about the age of fifteen. My mother went ballistic the first time I did it but it was my money and I didn't care. 

I've been every color imaginable except for those really wild mermaid shades. Coloring my hair always gave me a lift when I was feeling down. I loved being able to change my hair to suit my moods. 

It's been about 10 years since I colored my hair and I have no idea why I thought about doing it today, especially since I'm not sure if all those years of coloring might have contributed to my breast cancer. But, I got a wild hair (pun intended) and bought some color from Sally Beauty. 

When I got home, I excitedly opened the box, mixed the color with the developer, and waited. When it was time, I rinsed and shampooed my hair. After drying, I was shocked. My new hair wasn't what I expected. Instead of a beautiful caramel brown, it was a pale orangey color. Horror of horrors! I ran to the living room to show hubby. He was kind and said it didn't look bad. I wanted to scream, "Liar!" But I didn't. Instead, I asked if he'd mind running up to the drugstore for a box of Color Oops. It's supposed to be a quick fix for hair color errors. 

He jumped in the car and headed out. I cried as I questioned my decision to color my hair again. When he returned, I took the product, applied it to my hair and rinsed for the full 20 minutes as instructed. 

Getting out of the shower, I toweled off and looked in the mirror. The product failed miserably. My hair, once a beautiful silvery grey was now platinum around the edges and orangey blonde everywhere else. I was so upset, not only at the failed attempt to remove the color but also at the loss of money spent on both products. 

So tonight I head to bed looking like an albino Bozo the clown. Tomorrow, I'll buy another color to correct this mess. And, I'll make a mental note not to bother coloring my hair ever again! Now I remember why I stopped in the first place- it's a pain in the rear and a continuous process that I don't have time for anymore. 

Color Oops you suck! I should've thought twice about my initial decision. If I'd done that, I wouldn't be dealing with this mess now. 

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get this corrected and look decent for our trip, if not, I guess I'll pull out my wig. At least it's a beautiful silver and is made from human hair. I can take it on and off whenever I choose. 

Getting ready for the big day!

 

In just a few more days, we'll be on the open sea. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous. 

I never thought I'd take a cruise, but after hubby retired, that was one of the first things on his bucket list. 

I've perused websites to find packing lists and think I've gotten all of the essential cruise items. Now packing them will be a challenge, especially since the ship has specific requirements on luggage including weight, width, and depth. 

Thankfully, we won't be taking this trip alone! My youngest daughter and her fiancé will be joining us. They've cruised before and know what to expect so we'll let them be our guides. 

It will be nice to leave the chilly, rainy weather here behind. We're looking forward to the warmer tropical climate ahead. And I can't wait to take hundreds of photos. I'm a huge photography buff and am excited about visiting places I've never been before and seeing things I've never seen before. 

I doubt if hubby and I will take part in all the party events offered on the ship. We'll probably spend more time relaxing on our balcony or sunning on the adults only Serenity deck while the younger ones socialize. 

This cruise is a test run. If we enjoy it, we'll more than likely take more cruises in the near future. Hubby wants us to return to Alaska. Last time we were there, we were working 14-hour days during a mission trip. We'd gone to Alaska during the long daylight time of year and had much to accomplish. There were only 2 days we got to enjoy sightseeing. One of those days was spent visiting the North Pole and the other was touring Denali National Park. 

Alaska is a gorgeous state and while I'd love to go back, I'm not sure I want to cruise through glaciers. When I think of that, my brain says, "Remember the Titanic?!" 

I'm trying hard to get excited, but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe after I've packed all the bags, checked off all my things on the to do list, and have a chance to breathe, the reality of the trip might sink in. Yikes! I said sink! I didn't mean to say that. 

If you think about it, say a little prayer for us. Pray for our safety as we travel to the port and for our safety as we travel abroad. I won't be able to post until we return, so hang in there. I promise I'll share pics and news when we return. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Getting used to Medicare

Well, so far, I'm finding Medicare may not be quite what we thought it to be, at least the advantage plan supplement we selected. Today, while checking on in network providers, I noticed a pending claim on our account. I couldn't remember any recent medical visits and had no idea what the charges were, so I opened the claim. Imagine my surprise when I read our part of a recently filled prescription under the new plan was $595.00! And that's only for a 30-day supply! Whoa!

Immediately, I called our pharmacy to ask if the medication was sitting there waiting for pickup. He said it was. I told him the situation and asked him to restock the pills and rescind the recently submitted claim. We can't afford to pay that amount of money for one medication every month. 

Next, I sent a message through the portal to my gastroenterologist explaining the situation to her. I asked if there might be another less expensive medication I could take or perhaps an over-the-counter remedy. I'm waiting to hear back from her. 

The medication has definitely been helpful for my situation but not for that huge amount. When we were still under my husband's employer plan, the medicine was only $25 a month. What a difference. 

I don't understand all the ins and outs of our Medicare Advantage plan yet but the sales rep who helped us pick the one that fit our needs best had warned us this one medication might be expensive. All of the others would be no cost and we were happy with that. 

I don't know what people do when they have medications that they depend on daily and aren't able to afford. And what a shame that the older generation has to suffer while on Medicare. 

We've paid into it all our lives and they don't tell you the nitty gritty facts about it, like you have to pay for plan B from your Social Security check and if you want prescription drug coverage, you have to buy plan D or an advantage plan that covers medicines and other things like dental care, glasses, etc. 

We have a pretty warped health care system if you ask me. It seems the government wants to pay out as little as possible. 

I wish I'd kept track of all the money that came out of my paychecks over the years for Medicare coverage. I'm sure those figures are well above what I'm receiving now. 

Monday, January 22, 2024

An Interesting Ministry Opportunity


We received a text late Sunday afternoon telling us about a service project. As soon as the text came in, I felt a tug at my heart strings. The project was to help sanitize a house for a single mother of five. Immediately, I replied, “Count us in!” While I knew it would be a challenging project, I had no idea how challenging it would be.
A few minutes later, I explained to my husband, Phil, that I’d signed us up. He was perfectly fine with it, which I knew he’d be. After 30 years of marriage, we know each other well.
That evening, we pulled out our work clothes, set the alarm so we’d get up early, and went to bed. We knew Monday would be a long, hard day and we needed our rest.
The house we worked on for the family.
I woke up before the alarm and jumped out of bed. I was excited for a chance to work on a worthwhile project. I showered and dressed then quietly went into the kitchen to have my devotional time. Shortly thereafter, Phil got up and put the coffee on.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. As we drove to the address we’d been given, we made small talk. It was chilly outside, and we were thankful for the heated seat function in our car.
We arrived a few minutes before 10:00 a.m. and were about to pull in the driveway when Vicki walked up and told us it’d be better if we parked below the house in an open area. She mentioned there were nails in the driveway of the house and someone had already gotten a flat. Following her instructions, we moved down the street.
When we walked toward the house, my heart broke. I could tell the house was in worse shape than I imagined. Walking up the ramp, we were greeted by Luke Ayers of Hope Global Initiative. He gave Phi, Vicki, and I a quick briefing about the project and the family situation. Then, he told us where he’d like us to begin work.
The nasty stovetop
Vicki and I started in the kitchen. Luke explained the stove needed our attention.  Both she and I were dumbfounded by
what we found – the stove was encrusted in grease, dead roaches, and other buildup for years of neglect.
We did our best to clean it, but it was hard without running water. (A pipe had apparently frozen during the night leaving us to rely on 2 buckets of water Vicki had managed to collect.) I was so thankful we’d brought gloves. As we tried various cleaning products, eventually, we managed to release some of the grime.
While we were working on the stove, Denise was working on the tub, Phil was scraping the old wood tiles from the floor, Gary was assessing the plumbing situation, Dennis was working on other projects, and Luke was overseeing the team.

While we worked, we were reminded God’s immense blessings in our lives. Here we were, doing our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and that’s when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart – “Why are you really here?” Without saying a word, I thought about it. Why was I here? Was it just something to do? Did I want praise for joining in on a service project? What was the real reason? It didn’t take long for me to find my answer. I knew God had me there to understand how often and how easily I take many simple things in life for granted.

Filthy mattresses they slept on
As our team kept working, I noticed how focused each one was on their specific job. As I walked through the house, I took photos. I wanted to remember the squalor but also wanted to be remind how God wants us to serve others. Each member of our team was working for God’s glory, not for our own. It didn’t matter how many dead roaches were on the floor or how many spider webs or spiders were hanging from the ceiling. This family had been living here. They needed a clean, safe place to live.

I was amazed to see how they’d adapted to the conditions of the home. Things we’d normally be appalled by, they’d just accepted.

Little things hit me hard – a package of diapers on top of a nasty dresser, a football medal hung from a nail on the wall of a room without heat, a teen Bible covered in live roaches atop a shelf. They were doing the best they could with what they had.

A pack of new diapers in filth

The team leader from Hope Global explained to me that they’d had to remove so many of the family’s possessions because of their horrible condition, leaving them with only a few bags of clothing and some small possessions. He told me his organization had already reached out to
Habitat for Humanity for added help and he’d secured some good furniture and other items for the family.

I asked to be shown a photo of the family we were helping. I wanted to see their faces so I could pray for them. When Denise showed me their picture, I had to work hard to keep from crying. I was thankful I’d put on waterproof mascara this morning because I knew I’d probably cry over something and didn’t want to look like a raccoon.

It was a beautiful family. They were all happy and smiling in the photo even though they’d been through such tragic circumstances. I found out they’d originally lived in an apartment that had burned, then had moved into a home that was destroyed by the EF4 hurricane that hit Newnan in 2021. In dire need of housing, they found a place to stay through the Hope Global Initiative, but that home needed a lot of TLC due to the negligence of the previous owner who’d been an elderly man with a hoarding habit. Luke Ayers, of Hope Global Initiative, had become the landlord of the property and was doing his best to help this family use the home as temporary shelter until their application for subsidized housing was approved. Right now, according to Ayers, they’re number 5 on the list.

Luke Ayers, Hope Global
The team from Hope Global along with the hard-working members of our class, want this family to know God’s deep love for them. According to Luke, two of the older boys have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. If memory serves correctly, those two boys are twins.

The family

The children, aged 15-4, have a Mama who loves them dearly and is doing her best to support her family. She doesn’t make much money and must work long hours. Will you commit to pray for them in the future? Not only for their safety in this temporary shelter, but that God would make a way for them to be approved for housing quickly and for all of them to come to a saving knowledge of our Lord?

Our Sunday school class has recently been named Seekers, but while we were working, Vicki came up with a good idea – she said we should be called Seekers and Servers! I kind of like that idea! We should always seek those who are lost and seek to do the Lord’s will, but we should also be willing to serve in whatever role He’s blessed us to do. He supplies opportunities every day. We don’t have to go to a foreign country. Our mission field is in our backyards.

These days there are so many struggling. We need to pray and ask God how we can be a blessing to others. As we seek His will, I know He’ll show us what to do.

My prayer is that we’ll light a fire under our church. We can be a tiny spark that ignites Unity to band together to shine God’s light to all the community.

Thank you, Gary and Denise, for spreading the word about this need to us. It was our honor to serve alongside you, Dennis, Vicki, and the Hope Global Initiative team today.

My reminder

Before we left to go home, I got one last reminder from God. As I walked through a bedroom, I saw a plaque on a dresser. It said, “I am truly blessed.” In my heart, I shouted, “Yes, Lord! I get it! I am truly blessed beyond measure.”

Solo Deo Gloria! (May God alone be praised!)

***************************************

One of the Bibles 

A few more photos: 


This Bible was on a dresser in one of the bedrooms. It had roaches crawling on it. It made me so sad, but I was thankful someone had given the boys a Bible. 

The large garbage bags are filled with the only "usable" clothing the family had. There were only a couple of toys for the little boy. I hope Habitat can help provide replacements for all the things they lost. 

The photo of the plaque with the handprints was on the wall in the Mom's bedroom. You could tell she really treasures her family. 

Their only possessions are in these bags.


The kid's handprints


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Practice Hospitality


A couple of days ago, I got a text from a cousin. She was going to be in town and wanted to stop by for a visit. I was tickled she wanted to come see me and asked if she needed a place to stay for the night. Gratefully, she accepted my invitation. 

I worked hard to make sure her room was spic and span. I washed all the bedding, vacuumed the rug, dusted, and straightened all the knick knacks. I wanted her to feel welcomed. 

Wanting to do a little more, I ran to the store to gather things to make a nice gift bag for her. I tried to think of things that might be helpful while she was here. 

Strolling up and down the aisle of Hobby Lobby, I found cute things I thought she'd like. One by one I slipped them in my cart along with a pretty gift bag, a card, and some tissue paper. 

When I got home, I assembled the gift bag and placed it on the center of the bed in the guest room. I stood back and looked at it. I hoped she'd like it. 

The day of her arrival, I made a huge pot of vegetable soup and some homemade beer bread. It's been extremely cold outside, and I thought she might like a hot meal that stuck to the bones. As I cut and prepared the vegetables, I thought about special memories we'd shared since childhood. I'd always thought of her as a little sister. 

A text later in the day gave me her ETA. I was excited to see her but nervous, too. We don't have visitors often but when we do, they're usually relatives and relatives are more forgiving of my lack of hospitality skills. 

I did my best to help her feel at home. We had a nice visit and I think things went pretty well until this morning. I'd gotten up early to prepare a nice breakfast. I tried to be quiet because she was still sleeping, and I didn't want to wake her. 

I prayed, when I popped open the can of Grands Biscuits, that the sound wouldn't startle her. Working quickly, I slipped them in the oven, cracked the eggs, and sliced up the sausage. When the biscuits were done, I began cooking the other things. Then, I set the table, poured a bowl of fresh fruit and waited for everyone to rise. 

When my husband and guest were up, we sat down to eat. I had one last thing to put on the table and got up to get a bowl from my China cabinet. As I opened the glass door and pulled out the China bowl, somehow it slipped crashing into a China soup tureen and slicing open my finger. My cousin jumped up quickly to help with the mess while I ran to the sink to keep blood off the floor. What a fiasco, I thought! Here I am supposedly entertaining my guest and what do I do but show off my klutzy side. No wonder the Bible says practice hospitality! I need a lot of practice... Thankfully, she was gracious and understanding, never once mentioning my faux pas.  

After the incident, we sat down and enjoyed a nice meal, good conversation, and couple of rounds of laughter. 

I'm so glad she knows me well and knows I'm accident prone. I hate that I broke my China but more than that, I hate that she was the one to clean up the mess while I worked to take care of my injury. 

Love is a wonderful and complicated thing. If I hadn't loved her, I wouldn't have invited her to come stay with me. If she hadn't loved me, she wouldn't have accepted my offer and helped clean up my mess. 

The cut is still throbbing, and I feel embarrassed that things weren't perfect today, but I'm trying to give myself grace. They say practice makes perfect. Maybe one day, I'll attain that goal. Or maybe not! 


Scripture references: 

Romans 12:13: Share with the saints who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Hebrews 13:2: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Isaiah 58:7: Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Saturday, January 20, 2024

The significance of bread


I love baking. It's usually relaxing for me. Measuring out the ingredients and mixing them together is satisfying. When it's time to pour the mixture into the pan, I smile knowing soon we'll have some yummy for our tummies. 

Today I decided to bake some bread. Normally this time of year, I bake my delicious sourdough bread, but today I was in a hurry. I hadn't kept my sourdough starter going since we moved, so I'd have resort to my next favorite - beer bread. 

Now don't freak out! I'm not an alcoholic, it's just a quick and easy way to make bread without the hassle of using yeast and allowing for a first and second rise. The alcohol in the beer cooks out so you can't taste it. I'm not lying, it's true. Try it yourself and see. 

It's a quick and yummy bread that can be zazzed up or eaten plain. Normally, we eat it plain, but sometimes, I add garlic and shredded cheddar or herbs. There are a variety of ways to use this recipe. 

Bread is filling. It can also be comforting if eaten while still warm from the oven with a big bowl of homemade vegetable soup or some chili. Since we're having company for dinner, I thought a hearty loaf of bread along with soup would hit the spot. 

Everytime I bake bread, I think about the Bible. Bread was a staple back then, just as it is today. Although their breads were vastly different than ours, they were an important part of every meal. 

All through Scripture, Jesus talks about bread. Just use a concordance and you'll find many references. My favorite one is found in the book of John-

"Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Jesus knew the people could relate to bread so gave them a visual picture of what He was explaining. He wanted them to understand that if they'd allow Him to be all they needed, they'd never be hungry for anything - either physically or spiritually. I love that! 

The smell of the baked bread is wafting through the kitchen. Even though I've taken the bread out of the oven and have the loaves on cooling racks, the wonderful aroma fills the house reminding me that my bread is nothing compared to the Bread of Life. 

Jesus is all we need, every single day. I'm so thankful He has made provision for not only our flesh but more importantly, our spirits. 

If you'd like to try my quick, crusty beer bread, here's the recipe: 

Ingredients

3 cups King Arthur Self-Rising Flour
1 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, to taste
4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided*
1 1/2 cups beer or (you can use plain seltzer water if you don't want to use the beer. You can also use Sprite if you want a sweeter bread.)

*Substitute 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for the butter in the batter and omit the butter topping to make a vegan version.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Mix the flour, sugar, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and the beer, stirring until fairly smooth; don't worry about a scattering of small lumps.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted about 1/2" into the top of the loaf comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Remove the bread from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack to cool.

Wait until the bread cools completely before slicing. Store airtight at room temperature.

Friday, January 19, 2024

The woodshed

 

Have you ever had God take you to the woodshed? If you're from the south, you know what I mean. 

The woodshed was a place on farms where tools were kept and work was done, especially during inclimate weather. It was also the place just far enough away from the homestead that kids knew could be dangerous. 

When I was growing up, woodsheds were common though not as popular as with previous generations, mine knew the woodshed was where spankings would often take place. A good whack on the butt could be done in private and if the offender got a good hard lickin', the woodshed afforded some privacy for the inevitable wailing that would come after a leather belt, bare hand, or wooden paddle slammed against a bare behind.

Although my parents never took me to the woodshed, because we didn't have one, I did often receive spankings with a very powerful hand or leather belt. I can still feel the welts those "lessons" left on the back of my legs or bottom. 

And while I'm not keen on using that type of punishment to steer kids in the right direction, the spankings did accomplish their goal of imprinting on my mind the definition of unacceptable behavior. 

But did you know, sometimes God takes us to the woodshed? Not a literal woodshed, but often as we read His Word, He'll give us a good spanking. 

This morning, as I was having my quiet time, the Holy Spirit took me to the woodshed. As I read several passages, while studying the word forbearance, I felt the sting of sorrow. I realized I'd failed to master my flesh woman and I'd certainly not extended the gift of forbearance to some of my loved ones. 

I love studying the Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible. They give so much deeper meaning to verses of Scripture. As I was studying today, God used the Greek word, anecho, to drive His point home. Anecho means to tolerate the unpleasant. Colossians 3:13 gives a good example of this word and how it should be used. 

In essence, God helped me see that I'd failed miserably. Without going into sensitive details, I'll humbly admit I reacted with my flesh and today, I could see clearly how ugly it was. 

It's extremely hard for a type A personality to lose control of a situation. When that happens, it's easy to feel insecure and unsure. God knows I struggle in this area, and I think that's why He has to remind me of my shortcomings now and then. 

If you've never studied the word forbearance, anecho (GK), you might learn a lot from taking the time to do it. I know I sure did. And, I'm very thankful God took the time to remind me of this behind His heavenly woodshed today. 

We're frail human beings. We don't always make right decisions, especially when we're walking in the flesh. I'm so thankful Our Loving Heavenly Father forgives us and I'm very glad He never runs out of patience with me. 

His unconditional love surrounds me, even after I get a "whoopin' (as my Granddaddy would say.)" And I'm so glad it does. Without that constant in my life, I'd surely be doomed to failure all the time. 

If it ain't one thing, it's another!

  Trying to smile through the pain I've been AWOL for a while now, so this post will more than likely be longer than most. I don't e...