Sunday, 4 April 2021

My Easter Miracle

It's Easter Sunday, and I am more than grateful to be alive so I can express to others just how full my heart is for my Savior, Jesus Christ, for the amazing love and blessings he continues to shower on me and most importantly, the gift of eternal life he has given to all of God's children. We are truly brothers and sisters. It doesn't matter our age, color, nationality, religious beliefs or the condition of our hearts. His love for each of us is pure, complete and freely given. I will never fully understand his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross during this life. The agony he went through is beyond my level of comprehension. Nor will I ever fully appreciate the fact that he suffered for every sin, sorrow, illness or moment of doubt each mortal must go through. And while I know that trying to live as he did is the only thing I can do to show my gratitude, I fall short in that department every day.

I had no idea what this day would mean for me. Those of you who read my last post know that I went into the hospital for an angiogram last Thursday. I had my first bout with rheumatic fever when I was nine years-old and spent six months in bed. I could only get up to go to the doctor's once week so my blood could be drawn. I had two other flare-ups of the illness over the next few years. The experience left me with a hole in my heart and the inability to do anything of a physical nature during my entire school career. So I opted to take drama and write for the school newspaper. They were great experiences, but I always felt like an outcast because I couldn't participate in any of the activities other kids took for granted because my heart was bad. 

It wasn't a fun way to grow up, but neither was losing my aunt, my mother's sister,  from heart disease when I was 11 or my father from a massive heart attack when I was 13. They had both suffered though rheumatic fever like me as kids and had been left with bad hearts. I knew what my prognosis for life would be and never believed I would live that long since I had the same pesky genes coming from both sides of my family. I was quite surprised when I made it into my forties and decided that every year I had after that was a true blessing. But I decided I would live my life the best I could and keep moving for as long as possible. I always worked at one or more jobs away from home, took care of my house, my family, my yard and my garden. I always tried to serve others but knew my limitations since I got tired very easily and worked best when it was at my own pace.

So being diagnosed with myocardial ischemia a little over six years ago didn't come as a great surprise. I'd had high triglycerides and high cholesterol for years and would find out a few months later that I also had Type ll Diabetes. But I moved to another state so I could help my son and his family after my daughter-in-law was diagnosed with Melanoma-Lymphoma not long after finding out there was a blockage in my heart.  Since I didn't feel any worse than I always had, I didn't seek further medical attention. I believed the family doctor I was seeing for my allergies would alert me to any real problems. 

Anyway, when I met the doctor who would be doing the surgery he said there was definitely a problem with blood flow in the lower, left portion of my heart, but he was going to take care of it. Preparing for that procedure was not fun, nor was laying on that table for the longest time while everything was made ready. I was very grateful my son had taken the day off to be with me but wasn't overly scared. I had put my faith and trust in God and was ready to accept the next part in his plan for me. I had even added a codicil to my will so there would be no issues if something went wrong.

Imagine my surprise when the entire procedure took less than five minutes and the doctor stood back and said that all of my arteries were clear. I was a little out of it due to the sedative and thought I had misunderstood, but he left the operating room and I was taken into recovery. It was a couple of hours before he came to see me. By then I had a lot of questions to ask but the only really important one was why. He said there must have been two false positive readings with my tests because the one they had done ten days before confirmed what the one in Missouri said. He believed that most of my issues had to do with high blood pressure, including the swelling in my ankles and feet. He would change my medication, and we would look at other things if I didn't start feeling a whole lot better.

So that's my Easter Miracle. I had gone into the hospital believing the best news I could get was needing a stent or two in my heart so the blood could get through and came away knowing that my arteries were clear. I'm still trying to digest that but know that God has more work for me to do before I leave this life or things would have turned out much differently. None of my symptoms have gone away yet, but my spiritual heart feels so much lighter. I know God hears and answers our prayers, and I know I can turn to him for anything. And I am so grateful for my Savior. He lives! He loves us! He gave us the most precious gift! And I will continue to follow him the best I can so I can live with him, and all the people I love, again some day. 




Sunday, 28 March 2021

Easter and Hospitals

I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my blessings the past few days in preparation for Easter Sunday, especially the deep and lasting love I feel for my Savior who gave his life that I might live with him again if I am willing to repent of misdeeds, sins and thoughts that are a common to mortal man and strive each day to be more like him. I love knowing that he is my advocate with my eternal Father and is always there when I need someone to turn to who truly understands what I am going through. That's not often the case with family members and friends who have their own struggles to deal with and don't always know what to say. He has been my constant companion since I was little girl and has never censured me when I didn't remember to call on him as I should. I know his arms are always open to hold me when I'm scared, alone, in pain, having doubts or feel as if I don't have the strength to go on.

This season of rebirth brings me a little closer to him as I reflect on him rising from the tomb that early spring morning and the joy he brought to all those who believed in him and loved him so completely. Even the earth heralds his resurrection. The tulips and daffodils are coming up, and the pansies that survived the winter are already showing their beautiful purple colors. I even managed to get the fertilizer with crab grass control on my lawn before the only rainfall we've had in what seems like forever came last week, and I am anticipating the first cutting of grass and filling bucket after bucket with weeds, despite what pollen, leaves, dust and mold do to me. I first noticed acute allergies to every plant and grass outside the day I graduated from college. I remember the red, weepy eyes and stuffiness very clearly. But I've never let that stop me from enjoying my own little piece of nature. I get allergy shorts every week or two and supplement that with over-the-counter medication whenever necessary because I refuse to quit digging in the dirt.

But this past week has been a little different than the way I usually spend the first days of spring. I've had heart problems since I was nine and never really believed I would a long life, but I also knew that God was in charge, and I would be here for as long as it took to complete my earthy mission. Six and a half years ago while living in Missouri, my doctor diagnosed myocardial ischemia (a blockage in my heart not necessarily due to the rheumatic fever and micro-proplase I've had for decades). I kept telling my doctor here that I had it, but he was a GP and said everything sounded okay. So I didn't think much about it until the symptoms became so severe that I decided to see specialist and called his office for a referral.

His nurse wasn't too pleased with my request but said she would check it out. When she called back and said the referral had been placed, she told me that my complete records had gone directly to the records department at the clinic instead of to their office so the doctor didn't know about my condition. It was a copout because I had told him a dozen times about my issues, but I guess he was just too uninterested to listen. It was easier to blame everything on getting older. I suppose there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this beginning with incompetency, but that's not the reason for this post. However, it is a clear reminder to anyone who is not getting the help they need or deserve to push harder at being their own advocate.

Anyway, after several incredibly expensive tests that only confined the prior diagnosis, I am scheduled for an angiogram on Thursday morning. They need to find out where the blockage is and how bad it is before my heart decides to give out. The procedure sounds very unpleasant and is complicated by the fact that I will have to wear a mask while it is being done, even though I've had both Covid shots. (Just another one of the vast issues surrounding the past couple of months that make me more irritable than usual and keep me from watching mainstream media.) 

I hate to admit that I'm scared, but I am. While the PA who made the arrangements for the procedure seemed to feel like a stent or two might be all that was required to get me back on my feet, and doing the yard work I love so much, nothing will be known for sure until whatever they're using to get through my veins and into my heart makes its rounds. I'm definitely hoping for good news because it will ruin my vacation plans if they have to do any bypasses. I told the PA my concerns and that I wanted to wait until May to have it done because I needed to see my sister. But when he said he wouldn't advise doing that, I had to reconsider living a longer life over having more immediate fun. I certainly didn't want to be admitted to a hospital in a different state where I didn't know anyone.

I guess that's what really got me thinking about our Savior's gift in a slightly different way. While I don't anticipate any problems, these could easily be my last three days on earth since there are major risks with any surgery, and there's so much I simply haven't done. They aren't big things - not like traveling the world, going on a cruise or even perfecting one of my talents. It's not taking the time to show added love to the people I care about most, offer more service where there is a need or making someone's day a littler brighter by taking notice of them when no one else will that has me concerned. These are things are should have been doing all along, but like most everyone else, I get easily sidetracked by things far less worthwhile.

My wish is for everyone to have a glorious Easter season filled with family, deep personal reflection and more gratitude for the gift only the Savior could offer. I love him with all my heart and want to be with him again, but I'm hoping I still have more time here to take care of things that have been left undone. Adding a codicil to my will hardly seems enough.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Just Cut the String

The last few months have been rough for most of us. Some of our reasons for feeling a little unsettled and even completely down and out are much the same, but a great many of them are individualized to our unique situations in life. I'll admit that my generally positive self has taken a beating as I watch the country I grew up in and always believed would remain the home of the free and the brave take quite a nosedive as special interest groups push their agendas above those of the masses - law-abiding citizens who love God, family and country. I've become so out-of-it emotionally that I actually raised my voice  to the salesman who came to my home last week wanting to sell me solar panels and told him how I really felt about some of things that have been happening recently in regards to how we obtain our power, gas and oil.  

It's not how I generally react because I really do appreciate honest, hard-working Americans who are trying to make a living. It's how I was taught to conduct my life and why I worked so hard to get what little I have, but I'm getting tired of having people tell me what I should be doing, and how I should think, feel and act if I want to be politically correct and not upset someone else. Well, I've been upset too. But like so many others, I'm afraid to speak up too loudly for fear of being mocked, criticized or targeted for having my own beliefs. I believe all men and women were created equal, and we should love and respect each other for the kind of person that resides within, not by the color of someone's skin, their political beliefs, or how much money they have. 

Before I left the house today to take a homemade, marble cake with white, fluffy frosting to my son for his birthday, I was praying to know what I could write that might be beneficial to someone else. I haven't done much of that lately because I want my writing to be uplifting, not cause anyone to feel more sadness or distress. There is still so much beauty in the world and so many people trying to live virtuous, good lives while loving and serving others. I want to be part of that group. I've always thought that if I could pick one word I hoped people would remember me as being when I am gone, it would be that I was kind.  To me, kindness embodies almost every other virtue because it's hard to be kind if we don't truly love others, pray for them daily and do whatever we can to make their sojourn on earth a little better.  

I suppose that's why when I read this little story one of my former students wrote, it hit me so hard. Not that it talks about kindness per-say, but because it talks about cutting a string. That string could be anything when it comes to what may be holding us back from reaching our true potential and being happy in the here-and-now. There isn't much any of us can do about the political climate, the weather, the impact Covid 19 has had on the world or any of the executive orders that have been signed that take away so many of the rights our  founding fathers fought so hard for us to have. But we can still live each day with gladness and do at least one kind thing for someone else every day. 

I've decide that the string I need to cut is the one that ties me to the fear I have right now because I know my grandchildren will never get to experience the world I grew up in. Not that it was perfect by any means, but we were not controlled by the media. We spent time as families listening to each other and doing things that brought us closer, even when life was very tough. I cry when my granddaughter tells me what classmates say to her because she believes babies have a right to be born, most cops are good and people should be able to decide for themselves what they want to do or become.

God is in charge. He knows the end from the beginning, and I will not live one day longer than my allotted time on earth. For that reason alone, I must learn, once again, how to to live my life with purpose, hope and joy. I must embrace challenges that cause me to reach and grow because that is the only way I will learn how strong I really am. I cannot be afraid because God has given me a mind to think with, make decisions and decide what is right for me. Agency is a beautiful gift - one that was given to every man, woman or child - and I must use mine wisely because someday I will have to account for how I used it. 

I'm going to share Chad's story now. Take from it what you will. Not all of it is grammatically correct, but the message is clear. Some of the greatest blessings in life come because we are willing to cut the string that binds us.

The first police officer reaches under the one-ton bale of hay and attempts to lift it off of me. Of course, it doesn’t budge. He grabs his flashlight and shines it under the hay into my face. I blink. He yells over his shoulder to his partner, “He’s alive! He’s alive! Help me move the hay.”

But even working together, two officers can’t move it – not a fraction of an inch. A thousand pounds each! Of course they can’t move it.
“Cut the strings,” I whisper. My voice is weak. They can’t hear me.
I am not going to last much longer. If they will just cut the strings, the bale will break apart, and they can drag me out of here.
“Lift, Joe, lift!”
“Just cut the strings,” I mumble, “Please cut the strings.”
“C’mon harder.”
“It’s too heavy! We can’t lift it. We gotta go for help! Hang on Chad, we’ll be right back!”
I am alone again in the growing darkness. Wonderful painless, peaceful, irresistible sleep beckons. I struggle to remain conscious. One. Two. Three. Four… Where are they? How long does it take for police, fire, ambulance to arrive? Where is the Coast Guard? Where are the Marines? Where is that one old farmer with enough common sense to just cut the strings?
The desert air grows chilly as the sky darkens. I grow weaker. Dizziness overcomes me and I begin to drift off into that gray space somewhere between the living and the dead.

Help finally arrives. One of the police officers bends down so I can see his face. “Hold on! A fire engine is here. There are six men aboard.”
I do the math. Two big, strong cops and six burly firemen must move a ton of dead weight off me. That’s two hundred forty five pounds each. No way can they possibly do that – but somehow, miraculously, they do. A couple of neighbors who have arrived at the scene stand by to catch me. They lower my limp body to the ground where I lie in a broken heap.
Why didn’t they cut the strings? They could have saved a long, tortured hour.
How heavy is hay? A piece of hay is about the weight of a feather. How many pieces of hay does it take to make two thousand pounds? Lots. That package of sixteen bazillion individual pieces of hay wrapped in a gigantic bundle is a crushing weight. But separated, it would have been nothing. 

I feel bad saying this because it makes me sound ungrateful – and I am very grateful to the guys who saved my life that night – but there is a point to be made here, isn’t there?
Is it too big?
Is it overwhelming?
Cut the strings – just cut the strings!
Are you buried under crushing burdens? Projects that are too huge? Schedules that are too complicated? Maybe you are trying to do too much at once – trying to do everything instead of doing something.
Cut the strings and cut yourself free. Do one thing at a time – and get it done. Move “out of the strain of the doing into the peace of the done.”

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Hearts, Vaccines and Other Things

I was going to send out a cheerful Valentine's Day message a week ago to everyone who is alone like me because there are more dimensions to love than simply having someone special in your life to share the ups and downs with and who makes your heart happy. But like so many other things the past eleven months, I've been a day late and a dollar short when it comes to most everything. I used to send out a pile of greeting cards to family and close friends each time a special day rolled around: Valentines, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother and Father's day, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But when we were basically told to stay home, I did just that. And with no cards on hand like the ones I always purchased at the dollar stores, I resorted to texting like most everyone else. It was efficient and got my message across, but like a few of us who remember the days before cell phones, it made me feel bad. Opening something personal with a bright, cheerful message is a welcome change from all the junk mail and bills.

All seemed to be going well until five days before Halloween when I realized that I hadn't sent a card with something special inside to my grandson. I hurried to the store to get one, knowing that it would never reach him in time. I felt just awful but took it right to the post office and then sent a text to my daughter telling her it was on the way. (She seldom answers her phone which is incredibly annoying to me.) My granddaughter lives close enough that I'm always able to do things for her, even if it is at the last minute. But when the same thing happened at Thanksgiving, I realized I had a problem so I stared making lists again and managed to make it through Christmas without another relapse.

When the new year rolled around, I figured I had it under control since I got the cards and texts out on schedule, but not writing my planned post simply flew right over my head. However, I do have a semi-reasonable excuse for not writing anything like planned. I was fixated on getting my first Covid vaccine on the eleventh of February at a place I had never been where the heath department could administer numerous doses at the same time. Trying to decide if I really wanted to have something put into my body that hadn't been DEA approved or even fully tested was a struggle. I've never wanted to be part of trail study for anything, always figuring I had enough health issues to deal with.

But after a lot of prayer and thoughtful conversations with other people, I decided to take the plunge. I suppose being older, having congestive heart failure and diabetes helped convince me that taking the proverbial risk might not be such a bad idea, but I still hadn't made up my mind completely when I arrived at the indoor arena and was told to pull into a certain parking space. I was greeted pleasantly enough by a man and a woman who seemed to know what they were doing. But as they asked me certain questions, explained side effects and that I wouldn't be able to get my allergy shots until two weeks after the process was complete, I started to panic. My heart began to race and I felt like I was going to pass out. The young man with the needle in his hand told me I wasn't required to get it yet and if I had any serious reservations I could leave and come back at another time. But the fact that I might not be able to get on a plane so I could see family and friends within the next few months without having the documentation made me tell him okay. 

I sat outside in the parking lot for the allotted time waiting for my anxiety to lessen. But while I was trying to check out the news on my phone, several people from the National Guard came to my car to tell me that the paramedics in the ambulance wanted see me. They said it wasn't an emergency but  encouraged me to visit with them anyway. So I drove to where they were and got out of my car.  In reality, they hadn't ask to see me at all. Someone from inside the arena had radioed the outside monitors that I was scared so they wanted to make sure they wouldn't have to deal with some real, or imagined, medical emergency. I was mortified for feeling like such a baby. 

I can't say that the next one will be any better since I've heard that the side effects can be much worse. I ended up with a sore arm and one day with a headache and a very upset stomach. But I will try to act a little more mature when I get the second dose. I'm sorry to say that when my sister wanted to know how it had gone, I had to fight back the tears as I tried to explain how hard it is to always be alone when difficult decisions have to be made. Life would be so much easier if I knew there was someone around who cared and who would be there to help if I ever ran into trouble. My sweet sister tries to be understanding when I have one of my moments, but she's been married for 48 years and has never even had to work outside the home. That makes many of our life experiences very different.

On a slightly different note, two days before I had my none-to-desirable experience, I got a call from my older sister who had just been admitted to the hospital. She has spent the last 25 years with anorexia and occasional bouts of bulimia if she can't get thin enough. She's almost 74, exercises 70 or more minutes a day, eats barely enough to make it to the next meal, shakes all the time and insists that being 20 to 30 pounds under the lowest weight in her height category will keep her cancer from returning or ever getting really sick. She was totally shocked when the doctor told her she had congestive heart failure and the bottom half of her heart was seriously damaged. She claims he doesn't know what caused it and maintains that it's a side effect from having radiation treatments 17 years ago because her arteries are clear. 

While I have to indulge her fantasies because she's not going to change, it makes me sad. Life is hard enough when we have to face the outcomes from some of our choices and behaviors, but denial is never the best practice. I want her to take care of herself so she can live to be 90 plus like she desires, but she's already cutting out more calories so she won't gain any weight while she can't exercise as hard. 

I suppose the one positive from both of these experiences is deciding that I really need to take better care of myself while I can. None of us know what tomorrow might bring, and each moment we've been given to live is a blessing and a gift. That's why I'm going to see a cardiologist as soon as I can get an appointment. I thought I had everything covered with the family doctor I was seeing who also gives my allergy shots. But I found out when asking his nurse for a referral that he wasn't even aware that I had congestive heart failure. Apparently, the records that were sent from my previous doctor in Missouri went to the record's department rather than his office and sat there for five years. That certainly answered my questions as to why he never seemed overly concerned when I told him how I was feeling when I went in for my semi-annual visits. 

I guess the bottomline is that we can only count on ourselves when getting the kind of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual help we need. People who claim to have answers and even professionals in any given field can make mistakes, and if we're not careful we can end up a victim of something that could be avoided.

Since it's after 5:30, I guess it's time for me to eat some of my homemade vegetable, bean soup. It's really good, but I always have to have a little treat afterwards. I guess that comes from growing up on a farm where we were always so physically active there was no need to worry about calorie intake. My how times have changed!


Monday, 25 January 2021

Kismet Finds a Way


I’m so excited that KISMET FINDS A WAY is now available on Amazon in digital, print and Kindle Unlimited at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv Unlike the other books I’ve written, this story is based on a major, life-altering experience I had right after college graduation. If there had been someone I could turn to for help and advice I might have chosen the path not taken. But history cannot be rewritten, and everyone discovers truths about human nature that are often not easy to digest. 

    

Andrea Halbert always lived by the rules. She was an obedient child, honor student, college graduate, loyal member of the community, and totally committed to making a success of her life. But she had never found Mr. Right. Then one dark, fall night, after moving to a brownstone in a city far away from home, a stranger enters her life in a very unsettling way. He is handsome, charismatic, and has a passion for living that makes her head spin, but he also has a dark past and secrets he doesn’t want to share. Her head tells her to be careful, but her heart doesn’t want to listen. Will a whirlwind romance, and some choices she does not see coming, cause her to fall from grace, or will she be the catalyst in helping a man she is unable to forget find his forgotten dreams? 

     

I dedicated the book to a very dear friend, DiAnne Pack, who lost her battle with cancer last month because she taught me so much about faith, courage and endurance during the tough things life throws our way. (If you read my last post, you learned about her. But for those who didn't, here's the brief version I put in the release.) When Covid hit Branson, Missouri, she lost her job and home in one day. The next week she was admitted to the hospital with fluid in her lungs. A week later, the doctor found an inoperable mass somewhere around her trachea. With no family to help, she lived in a motel room while going through 2 rounds of radiation and one of chemotherapy. When I saw her last September, she was down to 78 pounds but determined to keep on fighting. On Christmas morning, she lost consciousness and fell on her face breaking her nose. The picture of all the bruising was heartbreaking. She had just moved into a doublewide trailer when she stopped answering my texts and calls the first week in January. The Thursday before last, I heard from another friend, who had no additional information, that she had died. I may never know how it happened or if she was alone at the end, but I will never forget how completely she had turned her life over to God. We all have excruciatingly difficult challenges that bring us to our knees and cause our hearts to crumble. That humanness binds us together, even when we could have chosen a different path and didn’t. That’s why this book means so much to me and took such a long time to write. A split-second decision, or one piece of news, really can change the course of a life.


Each book I've written comes from my heart and reflects experiences, beliefs and things I've gone through as the years progressed far more rapidly than I ever thought possible. I have learned so much about myself and why I acted like I did while exploring my characters and coming to see life through their eyes. Each life is different, but they all contain many of the same elements of love, loss, heartache, joy, wisdom, regret and contemplation. While I often wish I had been dealt a different hand when it comes to certain aspects of my life, I know the valuable lessons I've learned through the hardest knocks have been the ones of most value because they caused me to reach inward and find the strength to go on when I thought I couldn't. 


KISMET FINDS A WAY is my fifteenth book. I would love to send each of you a digital copy of one of my books. It's my way of saying thank you for reading my blogs. I know each of you have your own unique story to tell and I would love to hear from you. Just send me quick email at janhill720@gmail.com and let me know where you want me to send it. 


Books by JS Ririe (my pen name):

 

Beyond the Glass Doors

Rivers of Rage

Final Allegiance

Book 2 - Resilience

Book 3 - Safe Haven

Book 4 - Unsheltered

Book 5 - Welcome Redemption

Indecision’s Flame

Book 2 - Lost

Book 3 - Exposed

Book 4 - Reawakening

Book 5 - Betrayal

Book 6 - Unraveling

Book 7 - Destiny

 

Happy Reading! 




Sunday, 17 January 2021

Rough Days

It's been another tough few days around here that have taken me to my knees more than once for some much needed relief. But as is always the case when we can look beyond the moment, there are lessons to be learned and a way opened where our faith can be increased. It is during those tender moments when  we can draw just a little closer to our Savior and be made more aware of how thin the veil really is between this life and the one that comes next. 

As I wrote some weeks ago, I lost my brother the day after Thanksgiving. His life had been far from easy, and we were very close having gone through so many earthy experiences together. He was three and I was five when we left the house one spring morning to play. My mother had told me to keep my eyes on him, but it didn't take me long to become distracted. As a very curious farm boy, Sandon quickly disappeared and went to find our father who was in the field getting ready for spring planting. The noise was too great for him to hear my brother coming and when the tractor lunged forward, our father looked back to see his little coat wrapped in and out amongst the blades of the tandem disk.

With superhuman strength he was able to get my little brother out, but he wasn't breathing. When daddy came running to the house with Sandon dangling in his arms and screaming for the keys to the jeep, I hurried to see what had happened. My mother took one look at me and said, "If you had been watching him like I told you to this never would have happened." 

My brother was in a coma for over six weeks, and had  been deprived of oxygen several times. Despite many prayers, he didn't awaken to a joyful, happy life. The crushing of his trachea had caused brain injury that affected the right side of his body and the accompanying motor skills that went with it. He had to learn to walk and talk and do everything over again. He was never able to do things other children took for granted, but he always fought to keep going. 

He walked with a bad limp his entire life and had to have the bones in his right hand welded so it wouldn't turn under permanently. While he enjoyed many good friendships and became the father of six children, his life wasn't easy. Due to some bad choices, he ended up falling into a fire pit where he couldn't get out and spent the last twelve years of his life in a nursing home. He went through continual skin grafts and untold amounts of both physical and emotional pain that would have reduced the strongest man to tears. He eventually ended up in a wheelchair and had only one daughter who would even talk to him. My heart is still breaking because I miss him so much.

But that pain was compounded on Thursday when a friend from Branson, Missouri sent me a text saying that my friend, DiAnne, had lost her battle with cancer. For those of you who haven't read all of my blogs, I'll give you just a quick rundown on what the last ten months of her life were like. 

Right after Covid restrictions started, she lost her job and her home the same day. A week later, fluid filled her lungs for no apparent reason, and she was hospitalized. By the time the doctors got the condition under control,  they found a large, inoperable mass somewhere around her trachea. She had no close family to help but decide to fight back with all she had. While living in motel room because she had no other place to go, she went through two rounds of radiation and one of chemotherapy. When I saw her in September, she was down to 78 pounds but determined to make it until I came back the next spring. I told her we would celebrate with a picnic by the lake and release balloons with her name on them into the air.

Despite all she had gone through, she was doing quite well until Christmas morning when she passed out at a friend's house, fell on her face and broke her nose. She was severely bruised and ended up in the hospital for a few days because she was dehydrated. (I'm including a picture so you can see what she looked like. She has become one of my biggest heroes.) 

She was trying to move into a doublewide trailer when I last heard from her. She was excited about finally having her few belongings back but was extremely tired. I tried for two weeks to reach her by phone and text knowing something awful had happened but had made a serious error in not getting the phone number of the woman who had been helping her along the way. I may never know what happened at the end or if she spent her final moments alone, but I have learned to pay more attention to details. 



That brings me to Thursday afternoon when my son called me to say that they were putting their 16 year-old dog down on Saturday and wanted me to be with them. I'm allergic to both cats and dogs and had watched her a number of times when they were away from home. But when they asked me if I would take care of her for two years while they were living with my daughter-in-law's parents so they could pay off all the hospital and doctor bills they had accumulated while she went through stage four melanoma-lymphoma, I had to say yes. It was a tough adjustment for Ruby because she was used to sleeping with them, and I couldn't even have her in my bedroom. But it was nice having someone to talk to because I had been alone for 18 years. 

I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks as I sat with them in that quiet room and we all said our goodbyes. Ruby had come into our lives as a way to help my daughter-in-law deal with the fact that she would never be able to have a baby. She was their child, even after they adopted my beautiful granddaughter several years later, and never lost her place in the family or the love they had for her. My son is the most compassionate man in the world. He just held her in his arms and kept telling her how very much he loved her and that he would see her again soon. 

It was one of God's tender mercies for me because I could see my brother opening his arms to her the minute she passed through the veil. Together they would run through the fields and be free from all the pain life had brought them through accidents and old age. I could see Ruby licking his face as they laughed together and then went off  to do some more exploring. They were both young, healthy and truly happy again. Sandon loved dogs with his whole heart but could never have one when he was growing up because any animal would bump into him and knock him down or get under his feet and make him trip.

I even had the brief thought that perhaps my brother and my friend would meet and share past experiences of pain and heartache as they learned more about what God had in store for them because they had made it though so many tough tests with faith and courage during this life. 

My heart is still very tender, and I'm crying more than I usually do, but I am so grateful that I know God lives and this life isn't the end. We will be reunited with those we love and experience more glorious reunions than the mortal mind can envision. My prayers are with all of you have are going through though times of sickness, sorrow and pain. The days will get brighter, and if we don't lose hope, we will catch a glimpse of the beauties God wants us to see in even the worst of times.




Sunday, 3 January 2021

Ring Out Wild Bells

I just got home from church where I was reminded of an old hymn that is seldom sung anymore but is quite applicable to how so many of us feel about the ending of 2020. It was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson and published in 1850 as part of his elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam, his sister's fiancé who died at the age of 22. His thoughts are profound and so applicable they could have been written today.

The first verse reads:

Ring out, wild bells, to the sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light:

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

It goes on to talk about ringing out the false and grief that saps the mind, the feud of rich and poor and ringing in redress to ALL mankind. To ring out a slowly dying cause and ancient forms of party strife so sweeter manners, purer laws and nobler modes of life can be enacted. To ring out the want, the sin, the faithless coldness of the times, mournful rhymes, false pride in place and blood, the civic slander and the spite, old shapes of foul disease, the narrowing lust of gold, the thousand wars of old and the darkness of the land. 

It tells us to ring in the love of truth and light, the common love of good, the thousand years of peace, the valiant man, and free the larger heart and the kindlier hand. But the very last line covers it all for me. Ring in the Christ that is to be. He is the way, the truth and the light. If we follow him, we don't need to be afraid of what may come because we will already be on the path the leads us from bondage of any kind - including the sorrows we heap upon ourselves through sin and poor choices, the decisions of others and simply the things that happen as part of daily living.

I've been thinking of that old poem turned into a song since being reminded that it even exists. It's one few people could sing without having the words in front of them, but it truly embraces what we've gone through as humans this past year and all the struggles that lay ahead since so many things are out of our hands. We can't control how far the virus will spread, who it will claim, future mutations, the effectiveness of vaccines or if any measure we're told to take will be enough. We can't change the course of events in our country surrounding the election, the increased amount of violence, terrorism, vandalism, propaganda spread, personal agendas being being pushed forward instead of the rights everyone shares, toppling of statues that meant everything to people who paid for and constructed them or the rewriting or exclusion of history so the same mistakes will not be made again. 

Nor can we do much about the loss of jobs, businesses, freedoms we so took for granted, and laws being enacted that the general public knows nothing about. We can't control the way the media discloses news, covers up evil that needs to be exposed and causes panic among people who believe what they're being told without asking any questions or looking for answers away from what they've been conditioned to listen to and accept.

Personally, I don't see 2021 being any better than the year we've just gone through, unless the majority of citizens in our free nation return to the principles and promises our country was founded on. A belief in God, freedom from oppression for all and the desire to put aside evil and concentrate on the Christian values that caused our founding fathers to give all they possessed in a fight for freedom that never would have happened without divine intervention. I was reading a short statement about the cost in lives  during World War II and something struck me that I hadn't thought much about before. Along with so many Jews and others, over ten million Christians were put to death because the socialist and communist countries who wanted to control the world didn't want anyone believing that we were created by a loving Heavenly Father who is concerned about our welfare and wants us to return home to him. 

I can't do much about some of the wealthy and powerful whose evil desires are to strip us of every freedom. It's part of Satan's plan to dominate and control that has been reinventing itself since the world began, and we will never stop fighting the war between good and evil until Christ returns again. But I can take more control of my own life by doing the things I know are right and standing up for what I know is true. Love is the only unifying force in the world, and when people can only see hatred and evil, the good can never be felt. I choose to live this new year with more faith, hope, love, compassion and courage. I chose to find joy in the simple things and make my home a place where the Savior's spirit can dwell. I chose to spend more time with family and friends, be more sensitive to the needs of others and spread more light wherever I go.  I am only one, but I do much good in my small circle of influence if I so desire. May each of you find peace and joy as you contemplate the coming year and how you want to spend it. 

I'm including a couple of items I found helpful and useful. The first is a letter from a  Covid  survivor and talks about how best to treat its symptoms at home. The other is a list of some of the things hydrogen peroxide can do. It's really an amazing product that so many of us have forgotten about.

HOW TO FIGHT COVID AT HOME

No one ever talks about how to fight Covid at home. I came down with Covid in November. I went to the hospital, running a fever of 103, a rapid heart beat, and other common symptoms that come with Covid. While I was there they treated me for the high fever, dehydration and pneumonia. 

The doctor sent me home to fight Covid with two prescriptions - Azithromycin 250mg & Dexamethason 6mg. When the nurse came in to discharge me, I asked her, "What can I do to help fight this at home?" She said, “Sleep on your stomach at all times with Covid. If you can’t sleep on your stomach because of heath issues sleep on your side. Do not lay on your back no matter what because it smashes your lungs and that will allow fluid to set in.

Set your clock every two hours while sleeping on your stomach, then get out of bed and walk for 15-30 min, no matter how tired or weak that you are. Also move your arms around frequently. It helps to open your lungs. Breathe in thru your nose, and out thru your mouth. This will help build up your lungs, plus help get rid of the Pneumonia or other fluid you may have.

When sitting in a recliner, sit up straight - do not lay back in the recliner, again this will smash your lungs. While watching TV - get up and walk during every commercial.

Eat at least 1 - 2 eggs a day, plus bananas, avocado and asparagus. These are good for Potassium. Drink Pedialyte, Gatorade Zero, Powerade Zero & Water with Electrolytes to prevent you from becoming dehydrated. Do not drink anything cold - have it at room temperature or warm it up. Water with lemon and little honey, peppermint tea and apple cider are good suggestions for getting in fluids. No milk products or pork. Vitamin’s D3, C, B, Zinc, Probiotic One-Day are good ideas. Tylenol for fever. Mucinex, or Mucinex DM for drainage, plus helps the cough. Pepcid helps for cramps in your legs. One baby aspirin everyday can help prevent getting a blood clot, which can occur from low activity. "

Drink a smoothie of blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, tea and a spoon or two of peanut butter. 

We always hear of how Covid takes lives, but there isn't a lot of information out there regarding how to fight Covid. I hope this helps you or someone you know, just as it has helped me.

 

 “Hydrogen Peroxide” is the miracle hack that solves just about anything, and it costs under a dollar. Besides dapping it on any injury, it also:

-      whitens teeth

-      cleans the grout in showers

-      refreshes the scent in washing machines

-      cleans hard water in dishwashers

-      is the best mirror and window cleaner  . . . .

-      takes away any hard water buildup on faucets and plugs in the bottom of sinks

-      cleans any food grease buildup near your cooking area (for example the grease shield that collects near the steam vent)

-      spritz floors with it after cooking with grease and simply swiffer it up

-      takes away grimy handprints on anything stainless steel

-      kills the nasty norvirus that causes most cases of the stomach flu

-       kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. 

-      disinfects counters and cutting boards

-      gets rid of garbage can germs

-      removes grass stains, blood stains, and drink stains like fruit, juice

-      dab onto pimples or breakouts to help clear skin

-      helps heal painful canker sores. Swish a tablespoon or so of hydrogen peroxide around your mouth for about 10 minutes

-      whitens yellowed nails

-      induces vomiting when pet have eaten something toxic

 All you need is hydrogen peroxide and a spray bottle. Don’t dilute unless recommended to do so. These are just a few examples, but it’s one of the most effective disinfectants and cleaners available. And there’s no smell.