Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What's taking so long??

I know it's been far too long since I updated my blog...I have been horribly neglectful! The reality of my life is that I do not treat it as though it were my own...sooo I am often running VERY short of time. The last couple of years have had us coming and going so fast that it really seems as though we pass by ourselves both ways. We have had to make even more trips back home for funerals of dear loved ones, and to be a help to other loved ones.

In between the trips for sad occasions we have managed to sneak in some joyful times. I was able to take my children to some of the wonderful outdoors activities that I enjoyed so much as a younger me. I took pictures of my boys jumping off the bluffs into the deep water of the strip mines, we camped on the river I used to visit every single day, we visited places that I used to call home, and visited my Daddy's grave. We saw cousins, friends, grandbabies, and the house that we lived in when Troy got saved and the Lord turned our lives completely around. It was cathartic in a strange sort of way to just go and see that those things and places are still there, and I always cry when I have to leave. Seeing those people, places, and things in my rear view mirror has always felt like I was abandoning a large part of myself, my heritage, my family...and it's always hard.

Since my last post was almost a year ago there has again been so much going on in life that I know I can never get it all down you'll have to settle for the reader's digest version. We made 2 trips back home earlier this summer...both to attend funerals of people we loved. I've lost 4 family members so far this year to cancer...3 of them to pancreatic cancer. I've been so out of touch with much of my family for many years and so it shocks me to hear that suddenly they are gone on. So traveling back to say goodbye is hard...and harder than that, but so worth doing.

I'm so keenly aware that my own children aren't really children anymore at all...and the time when they leave the nest to make one of their own is getting closer all the time. I know in my head that they will still be my babies, still love me, still want me to be a part of their lives...but a different part. I'm not sure I'm ready to let them fact I want to drag them backward on the timeline of life and have some more time to just be with them! I have been so blessed with my kids...we have great relationships and they are awesome people that I am terribly proud of. Everytime I go to the Lord in prayer for them my eyes fill with tears of selfish sorrow for all of the days that I won't be right there with them to see the fruit they bear in their own lives...I will instead hear of it by phone or email, or text message. I'm proud of them all, but it sure is bittersweet!

This summer has been an exceptionally grueling one for Taeler and I. We have both been horribly ill since the beginning of July. The doctors so far only say "It has to be Lyme Disease...nothing else makes sense". We are attacking it with every available tool...but progress is slow and at times terribly discouraging. I just hope and pray that Tae doesn't end up with any long term health issues because of this. Until last night we had both been too ill to even want to do much...but the Lord gave each of us a sweet blessing last night and we were up cooking, cleaning, and singing praises to HIM until bed time. Today we are still feeling better, but not as good as last night. It's so hard for me to not pout and have a bad attitude about it, but this still is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice in it and be glad.

There are so many things that have been up in the air so to speak for the last year or two and we still have no solid direction or wisdom about those things. We are just resigned to wait on the Lord and be ready for whatever He calls us to. And that's about it for now....

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What a roller coaster!

Please forgive the multiple, extended blog absences this year! We have been neck deep in busyness all year long, some of it was terribly painful for our family and some filled with joy. So much has happened that I couldn't begin to tell it all here right now so we will just have to take it "by little and little" until it's all set right here again.

We are all healthy other than the regular "bugs" that go around this time of year. Me and Fred are getting well after having a bout of strep throat, Troy and the boys have all battled colds but all are on the mend. I still can't get over how much these kids have grown up. They still amaze me everyday.

There will be more posts coming soon I promise. I've been busy getting some writing things lined up for me and Fred (who is now an author in her own and is doing quite well!) and she and I have some other work going on right now too... I'll fill y'all in later.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Putting things in order

At least that's been my goal since I came home. We have too.much.stuff! It doesn't really help at all that my sweet Hunk O Honey is a total packrat either. He means well, really he does....this is what I tell myself every time I have to step over a pile of somethingorother that he brought home with high hopes of eventually filling a need and saving a pile of money. It's not totally his fault kids have tons of stuff too. And it's all taking over the house.

So, I've been on a mission lately. It actually started not long before we left to go back home. Everyday I go through more stuff, somedays it's lots of stuff and somedays not a lot, but it's something every day. We have a room cleaned out in the barn and all of the stuff that I deem unnecessary gets to go live in the barn until the day that we either have a huge yard sale or I get tired of it being in the barn and haul it all off to the thrift store. So far Fred's room is completely finished, my storage room is done, the living room is in progress but is nearly finished and I've worked on mine and Hunk's room quite a bit. It's amazing what will accumulate if you let it!

As I worked through a few piles late last night waiting for Hunk to get in from work I thought of how much stuff we accumulate inside of ourselves. The situation with my brothers during the last few days of my mother's passing was not good and I realized that I have accumulated a bunch of stuff during that time. As I sat down on the floor in my room last night I realized that all through life we often gather "stuff" within ourselves. The easy route is to stuff it down deep inside and ignore it, or to pretend it isn't there and put on that fake smile and just keep trudging onward. But just like those piles of stuff that have gathered in my home, the day will come that the stuff takes over and you find yourself buried in a mess that will take some time and serious work to get rid of.

I'm thankful to have the help of the Lord when it comes to sorting "stuff"!! Just a little talk with Jesus......

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Fred's Where I'm From Poem

Where I'm From

I am from warm fireplaces,
where love and grief are shared;
from the clothesline out back and the bookshelf in the corner.
I am from mobile homes, old homes, brick and stone houses
with the laughter of children and
the fragrance of the season in the air.
I am from the sweet gum tree
with the rope swing on one side and tire swing on the other.
I am from the rose bush,
whose fragrant blossoms I remember
though gone, long ago.

I am from the Easter get together and hand made quilt,
From Great Grandma's calloused hands and
Grandpa's tomato patch.
I'm from stubborn folks and
hard working family,
And from a smile on a rainy day.

I am from shake it off and try again,
from do unto others as you'd have 'em do for you;
and be serious with God and He'll be serious with you.
I am from the birthday stomp dance.
I'm from the hills of Missouri and
the songs of the Cherokee Indians,
Pork chops with mashed taters and pumpkin pie.
From my mother's broken home and ruined life
that our merciful Saviour rescued her from.
From photo albums and keepsake boxes
stored in bookshelves and bedroom closets.

I am a hodge podge of many things,
rooted in happiness and heartaches.
Family that makes you stronger,
and a GOD too great for words,
Who has given me these roots I cherish.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

And so it goes on

Another extremely long blog absence, another time of trial for our family, losses mourned, griefs shared, burdens given to the Lord, and victories received... and another time to reflect on God's goodness and mercy toward us.

I knew the day would come that the phone would ring and it would be the call I didn't want.... the one that would tell me that the time I've dreaded for months had come, and I knew it would catch me unprepared to do what needed to be done. The last part of March one day we were running around the house as we usually do, just sharing our morning together when the phone rang. My younger (but not youngest) brother was on the line and as soon as I heard the words "I need you to listen to me..." I knew what was going on. My brother was calling to let me know that Mom had been admitted to the hospital and that the doctors were NOT optimistic that she would survive even the rest of that day. Needless to say our family made the fastest trip back home that anyone could ever make.

Less than 20 hours after I hung up the phone with my brother I was standing beside Momma's bed telling her how much I love her and how glad I was that we made it to see her. Quietly Momma asked me to please promise to stay with her until her time here was finished, and to help her get some things done that she had been trying to get wrapped up for some time. Of course I told her I was there for as long as she needed me to be, to do whatever she needed me to do. I was there for a little over 5 weeks, doing everything she asked me to do .... exactly as she wanted it to be done.

Momma went home to Jesus on April 23rd. I miss her terribly but I am so thankful that her suffering is over. I saw her family all pull together around her in an amazing display of unity and strength. I saw that the same people I had known all of my life were still only just very. real. people. I learned that sometimes during hard times the people that you think you can trust the most are the people you should be the most wary of. I saw my children live the way their Daddy and I have been teaching and training them to, and boldly, even before disapproving eyes, even when it was the hardest way to do things, even when they had to stand alone to do it, with kindness and gentleness, and in great displays of love for the Saviour. I saw the hand of God over my life in so many miraculous ways through every single day, guiding us, protecting us, providing for us, blessing us, and loving us, richly and unwavering.... how do you put any of those things into words?

We've been home now since the early part of May, but it has taken so long for me to feel like I have my feet firmly back under me again. There are still hard and ugly things that go on all around me, but every day I see the Lord's tender hands of mercy working in my life and I can't help but just be thankful that I have HIM to look to, to trust, to learn from.... and I wonder all over again, how did I EVER live without HIM?

Monday, February 15, 2010

An ounce of prevention, what we drink

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure the old saying goes. Too bad that most of us just don't take that wise advice to heart. Fred has been studying herbal and alternative medicine since she was just getting ready to start high school and it's been interesting to see all that she has learned being put into practice as she grows into a woman who will all too soon be a wife and mother herself. She has been talking on her blog about the different vitamins that our body needs and what they do in/for the body.

There are a lot of myths about our diets, the vitamins and minerals that we need, how to get them and how much is enough. Sure enough the easiest way to get a good dose of prevention for all illnesses is through our diets. It's heartbreaking to see so many people squander their health for the sake of convenience! Cold cereals may have X number of "essential vitamins and minerals", but don't believe for a minute that your body is going to be able to absorb all that the food box says it may contain. Vitamin pills may not necessarily be the answer either since they are often hard on the stomach and difficult for the body to absorb and utilize the nutrients they claim to contain.

Troy and I learned the hard way when we were just starting our family that prepackaged, easily prepared foods are lethal. We both grew up with mothers that worked full time and were single women leading busy lives. Spending all of their time planning and preparing meals was just not a high priority. To them food that was quick, easy to prepare, and as inexpensive as possible was the mission. The tv commercials and packaging on the products they bought at the store all told wonderful stories of how "good for you" the cereals and soups and frozen dinners they bought were. But somehow the generation of people that Troy and I grew up in is full of extremely unhealthy people, with unhealthy eating habits, and less knowledge about what the body requires for health than any generation before us.

We both have struggled horribly with our health, even when we were in our early 20s we both had multiple issues with our digestion and had already been treated for stomach ulcers. Troy still has issues with digestion and has to be careful about what he eats all the time. I struggle with a neurological condition that no one seems to be able to explain how I became afflicted with...but I can't help but wonder how the foods I've eaten may have impacted my body.

We really worked hard when our children were young to give them the freshest possible foods, straight from the farm when possible, in their natural and whole form. We have seen the results of that kind of diet in all of our kids, and now have seen what happens when you get away from that kind of diet for a length of time. Our kids were EXTREMELY healthy children, rarely even catching a cold or viral infection, and NEVER needed antibiotics until within the last couple of years. They are all still very healthy but we have noticed that since we moved away from the places where we had easier (and less expensive)access to farm fresh foods their health has declined just a bit. Where they once never got sick, they now catch the occasional cold or virus, they lack the muscle tone and natural luster to their hair and skin that they once had, their energy levels have dropped dramatically, and they have more difficulty paying attention than they used to.

Knowing what I do know about the food additives, sweeteners, processing practices, and manufacturing of the foods available and how they impact our health I can't just turn a blind eye to the decline in my family's health. My husband and children are relying on me to protect their health through our diets as much as I am able....I have fallen down on the job and am now more determined than ever to correct my mistakes. My husband and I have spent the last 5 years gaining an unhealthy amount of weight and watching our energy levels and ability to focus plummet. We have watched our once robust children become less healthy, less active, and less interested in learning during the same 5 years. Minor changes will not do, we must radically fix what is broken in our food to fix what is broken in our bodies.

A lot of changes have already been made in our home concerning our food, but many many more are in the process of being implemented. Right now one of our biggest areas of concentration is on the amount of sugar we are taking in. It's unbelievable how sugar is hidden in our food, but even more so in our drinks! So for today's post in my sorta kind of series on healthful eating I thought I would put up a bit of information for all of us to put to use.

Here's a great article from the CDC on rethinking your drink! It's amazing to me to realize that a lot of people are drinking as many calories in a day as they are recommended to consume in their total diet! Constantly drinking soda, sweetened tea or other soft drinks like Kool-aid and such, or coffees, or sweetened juices has a terrible effect on our health. Not only is it flooding our bodies with calories in excess of what we need, but it adds fluids to our bodies that require intricate process to clean and puts a strain on our digestive systems, kidneys, and causes us to abstain from drinking enough water to help our bodies process the waste as they should.

Some people would think that it's okay to simply substitute artificial sweeteners, but I'm totally against that. I think if anyone would do enough research about the effects of those chemical ingredients they would quickly see that it is not beneficial to your health to consume those kinds of things, especially not on a regular basis. Those chemicals are toxic in large quantity, so to me that says they can't be good even in small quantities. We should create the habit of not taking in things that are bad for us in any amount. If it isn't beneficial to your health why use it? Why replace the healthy option with something that isn't useful to your body?

I've posted here about food additives before, but it's still great information and worth a second (or third) look. I've also posted about the water cure here before, but again, it's great information.

A great way to start a clean up of your body after a period of time on a bad diet is a fast. A total fast while drinking only water is good, but really hard on people with health issues like hypoglycemia, or extra electrolyte requirements. Sometimes a juice fast is a better option. For some people with certain digestive issues a juice fast is more harmful than helpful, for them you can modify the juice fast into a smoothie fast by making green smoothies instead. That way they get enough fiber and "flora" via the yogurt or kefir to keep their gut healthy. Here's another great article about fasting for health just in case you need more reading.

Making healthful food choices for yourself and your family is a challenge. It's going to take dedication, research, and effort to convince them (and yourself)that not only is it worth it but that it is going to taste better, and make them feel better. Training my children to be good stewards of their money and time was something I was convicted about when they were very young. Now more than ever I'm convicted that I must also train them to be good stewards of their bodies as well.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

What's going on?

Too much, as usual. The weather is dreary and cold to boot, which always makes me feel so much less motivated to get everything taken care of....I would much rather be curled up somewhere warm with a good book and hot cup of tea. I'm having sort of a "growly" feeling day... most likely the result of too much stress, bad weather, not enough sleep, and did I say too much stress?

A few weeks ago we found out that my mother has cancer. On a nearly daily basis we've gotten more and more information about her condition as new tests were done and results would come in. She is now in the hospital to undergo even more tests, begin chemo, and hopefully find some way to help the kidney that has failed and the other that is beginning to. I hate it that she is going through this...and that I am so.far.away. Top it off with the fact that neither one of my brothers will speak to me (for reasons unknown to me)so I get to sit and wonder what is going on and how Mom is doing with all the tortures treatments and tests until she feels well enough to call me or ask one of her siblings to.

I wish I could be there for her. I wish I could help. I wish she wasn't so alone. I wish I could make cancer go away. I wish I could fix things so that she wasn't suffering in some cold, impersonal, hospital that is so.far.away. I wish I could be 10 years old again and beat some sense into my brothers (who never bothered to tell me they were mad at me or why)!

I'll be trying to take a trip back home as soon as I can make the arrangements (and find the money) but until then all I can do is pray, and pray some more, and pray again, and go back to my room to pray again just in case I forgot something important. Then come in here, blow my nose, take care of the kids, cook for Troy, pet the dogs, check the email...go back down the hall and pray.

We have had a little bit of good news too though. {snicker}Well, maybe not so little after all. Troy and I have our first GRANDSON! He was born January 20 at 6pm. The "little" feller weighed 12lbs 12 oz, and was 24 and 1/2 inches long. He has a head FULL of blonde hair so long it gets in his eyes, which are a gorgeous blue by the way. Believe it or not, he was even born a little over 4 weeks early! The doctors decided it was best to take him a little early by c-section because he was so big. Thank the Lord, he's healthy and strong and a wonderful addition to the family. Those of y'all that have seen my boys and remember when I had Josh will know that our family just tends to have BIG BOYS.

We are keeping busy around the house trying to get ready for spring. It's hard to plan things like the gardens and such right now with so much going on back home and us not knowing when we'll be taking a trip. We did get a start on the strawberry gardens though before the snow/sleet/ice came our way. Hopefully we'll get that finished and get the transplanting done and some more fence work done and at least a portion of the planting begun in time for a decent crop of everything we plant to come in when we need it. After a couple of really bad garden years we are needing to grow EVERYTHING.

Well, I'm off to try and get chores done and run to get feed for the critters. I'll try to update soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Never a boring moment

One of these days I will learn to appreciate the times in life when I am actually a little bit bored! Life is piling more on my plate right now than I want to take the time to think about let alone begin to deal with. I have multiple family members facing very serious health crisis (es?) right now and I am very concerned for their well being. It is enough to make a person go a little bit bonkers to be so far away from the people they love and to know that those people are suffering and could use a helping hand and a caring ear....maybe even a shoulder to lean on. Those times that try me to my very core are also the ones that cause me to learn to lean more on my Saviour, so again I have to just trust HIM. Romans 8:28 gets repeated many times a day around here...among many other verses.

It's that time again that the kids and I are working ourselves half silly trying to get ready for the big spring push. The gardens, the bees, the yard, the chickens and rabbits....all require much attention this time of year in order for them to be productive through the spring, summer and fall. Our first try at year round gardening went better than I had expected but not as well as I had hoped either....LOL, like that makes any sense!

I learned a lot about 4 season gardening this past year and hope to do better next year, we did harvest fresh kale for us and the chickens and bunnies all winter and the broccoli that survived the deer are big and ready to form heads very soon so that is an excellent encouragement. All 5 bee hives survived the worst parts of winter and look to be in great shape for spring...that alone is cause for celebration! We are hoping and praying for a bountiful honey harvest this year.

Well, I do hope to put up a bit longer post soon. My time online has been short lately with all that we are trying to accomplish and the phone calls to loved ones back home taking so much of my time so I know I'm behind on all of my blog/email/online activities. I'll do my best to update soon. Right now I'm off to try and get some more work caught up and get ready for church tonight.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cream of Chicken (or other) Soup

You can make your own mix for cream of chicken or beef soup and store it in mason jars. It can be adapted fairly easily for mushroom and celery as well just sauté the amount of chopped fresh or canned mushrooms, or finely diced celery in a bit of butter in your saucepan before you make the soup from the mix. This is sure to be a money saver and is best for those people who are sensitive to the additives in pre-processed foods or who have food allergies.

How to make a Condensed Cream Soup Mix:
For each batch, you’ll need one quart jar and one pint jar to store. It’ll store on the pantry shelf up to a year.

4 cups instant non-fat dry milk

1 1/2 cups cornstarch

1/2 cup chicken or beef bouillon granules

1/3 cup dry minced onions

2 teaspoons mixed Italian herbs

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon red pepper

¼ teaspoon black pepper

This equals 18 cans of condensed cream of chicken or cream of beef soup! It stores nicely in two jars!
To reconstitute (equal to one 10.5-ounce can of condensed cream soup), combine 1/3 cup mix and 1 1/4 cups water, either using a small saucepan on the stove or a microwave-safe bowl; cook and stir till mixture thickens. You should label the jars and note the directions to reconstitute the mix right on the lid or the label.

Enjoy and keep on saving!

Happy New Year

I know it's not new year's eve or even new year's day, but this is my first post so far this year. We were blessed to spend new year's eve in a wonderful church service at our church listening to some of the best preaching there is. That's one of our family's favorite traditions since moving out here in 2005, the Watch Night service has become something that we look forward to even more than thanksgiving or Christmas. We certainly can't think of a better way to start the new year than with preaching, praying, and praising the Lord!

With all that we've heard in the preaching lately, read in our family Bible reading, and gotten from the Lord in our family prayer meetings we already know that our year will be a very busy one. Thankfully the Lord was gracious to show us where we needed to sharpen our focus, and where we needed to let some things go. Our God is so good to show us those things rather than to allow us to continue going the way that is unprofitable and unhealthy for us!

2009 was a very hectic and hard year for us in so many ways. Our family faced more illness than we've seen in the years since we've lived here (and we have the bills to prove it), we have dealt with serious illnesses in our extended family and twice had to go back home to take care of urgent needs for them. We fell behind on so many things, important things, like schooling our children, our business plans, and several areas of our service to the Lord. We struggled more than we thought we could bear financially but somehow everything always got taken care of. We finished the year feeling totally exhausted, worn out, disheartened and discouraged, but determined to keep our chins up and to continue on weary step after weary step in trying to set it all right again.

I hope that this year just keeps on getting better and better. I know that correcting those things that are wrong in our lives is difficult and unpleasant sometimes but I also know that the reward in having done it and followed the Lord's leading is too good for words. I'll be posting more, but for now it has to be short. I hope everyone has a wonderful year!