Monday, June 18, 2012

Heartbroken

Just when I'm comfy with God, happy with life, chugging along doing just fine, does a huge dart of tragedy come and pop the insulated bubble I've been living in. Someone I love dearly (we'll call her Sally) has been hurt deeply by the evil that is suicide. My heart breaks for Sally, I love her so much and want nothing more than to make this all go away. I see the swing of emotions she's experiencing- guilt, sadness, anger, heartbreak- and all I can do is pray. Why Andy did it doesn't make sense, we'll never truly know what he was thinking and feeling.

As the tears fall on my keyboard I can't help asking God "WHY?!?!". I'm not asking in an angry way, I'm not mad at God. I know we all make our own choices and must live with the consequences. But Andy was in the process of finding his way to God, he was asking Sally questions about God, she gave him a Bible which he said he did read some. They had gone to church together and the night he died he asked her if God had a plan for his life. Sally assured him God did indeed have a plan for him, which is why his death has come as such a shock. That's why I ask why. Andy was getting there, he was searching. He had a bright smile, great sense of humor and an influential personality. Why let Satan have his way when Andy could have been used here on earth?

There is a part of me that is angry. Not at God, but angry Sally has to deal with the feelings and emotions in the aftermath of Andy's selfish decision. I say selfish because when a person is contemplating suicide, all they can think about is ending their hurt and their problems. They don't think about the utter devastation that one act will leave behind. Not just Sally, but all of his friends, family, brothers, will have to carry around a weight of grief for the rest of their lives. We can give our grief and hurt over to God but we'll never forget that person and the impact he had on us. And giving it over to God isn't an easy road as Satan will constantly remind each and every one of them "Maybe you could have done more" or "It's your fault he's gone, you should have realized something was wrong". As untrue as we know both those statements are, Satan will use those thoughts to drag them down.

Brothers and sisters, I ask that you please lift them all up in prayer. Please specifically pray for those thoughts to be banished, pray for peace of mind for them, and pray for God to keep them protected from Satan's mind games.

Revelation 21:4 ESV
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Psalm 34:18 ESV
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 31:9 ESV
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress: my eye is wasted from grief, my soul and body also.

Psalm 57:1 NIV
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.





Friday, June 15, 2012

Comfy and Cozy


Today marks the end of senior camp week (follow the link to find out about what camp is) in these here parts. That means lots of dirty dishes have been washed, dirty kids have been cleaned and tired feet need to rest. It also means fun, fellowship, laughs, deep conversations, exciting sermons, informative classes, and more fun has been had. I love camp so much and although it is a lot of hard work, I'm so at home and comfy there. I've known most of the adult volunteers for years and I've watched so many kids grow up. The camp grounds are an escape from a hectic world, a holy, peaceful paradise. I really think God has blessed that piece of Crawford County land.

But while we're there God makes it very clear Satan is still working and wreaking havoc in the lives of our young people. We sang a song with the line "break my heart for what breaks Yours" and boy did mine ever break. Different kids talked about being outcasts at school, not having friends, or having friends but doing stuff they shouldn't so they wouldn't be labeled an outcast. Others talked about drug use, depression, insecurities, fears, and rejections. I so wanted to take each one of them in my arms and never let go. Stoke their hair and tell them the world really isn't as big and bad as they think. I wanted to keep them in the safe cocoon that is Camp Eunice.

I can't but I'll tell you what I (and all of you) can do. As Christians, we can step up and be good role models for the kids and teens in our churches and communities. Become involved with a youth group. Or even start one! Coach a sports team. Open your home as a safe place for kids to come after school. Sit down and listen. Be a friend, a confidant. Remind the teenager struggling with self confidence issues that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. She is just how the Father intended her to be. Beautiful. Different. His princess. Teach teens they don't need drinking, drugs, and sex to have a good time. Impress upon them that what they are searching for can be found on Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights and any time they bow their heads or open their Bibles. Openly share your testimony, your failures, your sins and how God rescued you. Our kids need to know God isn't some fairy tale from long ago. He's real, He's alive, and He will make a difference in their lives. We have to teach them how to walk like a Christian, explain why some things are inappropriate for Christians to do, say, or wear. WE HAVE TO GUIDE THEM OR SATAN WILL!

Please be in prayer for how you can take a more active role in the lives of the kids and teens around you. I know teens can look intimidating but don't be scared, they are simply trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose is. God will show you what to do. He will use your talents to bless these kids and His kingdom.

 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Crafty McCrafterson

I'm a lot of things- wife, mom, teacher, cook, friend, daughter, cheeseball, but crafty ain't one of them. I don't sew, I don't scrapbook, I don't make jewelry, and I'm not very creative. BUT! Homegirl knows how to paint. I don't mean fancy pants artwork, I'm more of a spray paint kind of gal. Give me ugly discolored plastic Adirondack chairs picked from the curb on trash day and I'll scrub them down, paint them red and plop those bad boys on my front porch.  How about the 90's hunter green bar stools found for a steal on Craigslist? Re-coated with black spray paint and now they look perfectly lovely instead of horribly dated.

Paint can hide all kinds of ugly and that's why I use it to help stretch my decorating dollars. And needing to stretch my dollars is how I came up with this project- repainting basic black picture frames in colorful colors to fill a big blank wall. In our old house the black worked, but now not so much. I want this house to have a brighter, airier feel. I felt like tossing and replacing the frames would be a colossal waste of money, so off to Hobby Lobby I went in search of paint. Thankfully paint was on sale and for less than $2 I walked away with 3 new colors. I decided on teal, yellow, pink, and silver as the new color scheme.

The first thing I did was take the pictures and glass out of the frames.

Look at my mom- isn't she beautiful! :)

Next I painted on a white base coat. When that was dry (didn't take long, maybe 20 minutes), I started applying the colors. Turned out the pink was butt-ugly so I changed it to an orangey-reddish color I had on hand. Much better! I did apply several coats on each frame because the white could still be seen.


Once you have lots of different colors on your hands, you know you're almost done.


Finally when all the paint is dry, put your pictures and frames back together and hang them up! While I was painting, I was doubting my brilliance and color choice. (Teal, orange, AND yellow?!?!) But now that they are done and up, I'm really liking how they turned out. Up close, the frames almost have an antiquey look because you can see the brush strokes and the color isn't perfectly even. That's O.K. because perfect isn't what I was going for. I was trying for faded, worn, casual, homey and I believe I achieved THAT perfectly.





Since I had the paints out, I decided to play around with a set of brass candle holders I bought at Salvation Army for less than $3. I saw pictures online where some crafty person somewhere painted hers and they turned out just beautiful.

Obviously that crafty person isn't me.

 
Going from bad.......

to worse!



I used the same process as the frames: white base coat, let dry and then start painting with color. What I don't like is the finish turned out very matte and it was hard to get all the nooks and crannies completely covered. Maybe I can salvage these by applying a glossy top coat. (Or maybe I'll just put them out of their misery and send them to the scrap yard.) I have a few more candle holders floating around so next time I'll use spray paint. After all, that is my perfect medium. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Put 'Em Up

Can. Put up. Preserve. Whatever you call it, I love to do it. This winter we've had our fill of summer tomatoes, crisp pickles, sweet peaches, tart pears, and various jams and jellies.  I find the process rewarding. I'm able to preserve seasonal food so we can have that summer goodness even in the dead of winter.  (And it helps the grocery budget!)

Right now blackberries are everywhere. Seems like such a waste to not do something with what God has bountifully supplied, so I decided to make blackberry jelly. Here's the results... 



Before
After

And the in-between.......

Yum!

EEK!

Just keeping it real. :D

Good thing the maid is here. Oh wait, she's always here. I AM THE MAID!!!! 

Yea, that's not gonna stain. *Sarcasm*


The jelly turned out a little on the sweet side, but that's okay. Next time I'll know to adjust the sugar. If you've never put up anything, I encourage you to do it. Sure, you'll make a big 'ol mess, but the satisfaction of providing for your family is well worth the extra dishes.


Monday, April 30, 2012

The Happy Homemaker

I believe I have lamented (whined and complained) before about not liking lists or schedules, and how I'd much rather be a free spirit floating along doing as I please. Well, I have a confession. I secretly do like to be organized. I admit this through gritted teeth because I've always been loud, boisterous, and fun, soooo not the type to make lists and adhere to schedules and other nonsense. Sure, I did it when I had a job because I had to. But on my own time? No way. All that stuff was boring and stuffy and I refused to be boring and stuffy. I did what I wanted when I wanted.


Then I started homeschooling.


And I found out that type of lifestyle doesn't jive with homeschooling.


So here I am, three years into our homeschooling journey, writing about making the grand discovery that organization, schedules, and lists do indeed make life easier. Am I smart or what?! (I'll go with the "or what".) As part of this discovery, I've implemented things that have really made me feel better about my homemaking skills. The biggest of which is coming up with a rotating nine week menu. That means for nine weeks, we don't have the same entree twice. Why nine weeks? Simple. I absolutely couldn't come up with anymore meal ideas. I worked for a solid week on the menu and by the time I was finished with week nine, I couldn't go any further. My brain was done, it was having no more talk of sauteed this, baked that. 


I decided to come up with a menu this extensive because I've done week long menus in the past and enjoyed the convenience of having everything already planned out, instead of at 5:00 looking at the 'fridge and wondering what I was going to fix for supper. BUT I was spending so much time looking for recipes, doing research, getting sidetracked checking Facebook, that I got burned out on doing it. However, I was also getting burned out on not knowing what to fix from one night to the next. Then one day God made the light bulb go off and I realized what I needed to do. I bit the bullet, took the time to put together a huge menu, and was done with it. I even made a reusable shopping list for each week. But let me tell you, what a wise investment of my time! My afternoons and evenings go so much smoother now. I am able to fix nutritious suppers for my family in minimal time and usually there's enough left so the hubs can take his lunch instead of eating junk food off the lunch truck. Save time AND money- score!


I'm sure I'll make changes along the way to the menu, but that's ok. For example, I don't have any soups or stews on here because the weather is heating up and we don't want to eat hot stuff. So when it starts cooling down, the grilled entrees are likely to be replaced by chili and soup. But for now, this is what is working so I'm sticking to it.


Here's the line-up for this week, if you want any of the recipes, just holler and I'll post them. 
Monday: Chili Mac
                 Broccoli
                 Roasted Asparagus
Tuesday: Apricot Chicken
                  New Potatoes
                  Green Beans
Wednesday: BBQ Lime Pork chops
                   Red Cabbage
                   Pasta Salad
Thursday: Spaghetti
                   Garlic Bread
                   Salad
Friday: Chicken Salad
              Glazed Carrots
              Zucchini Sticks
Saturday: Leftovers or Sandwiches
Sunday: Eat Out

Monday, April 2, 2012

Random Pics From This Week

Things have calmed down and life on the dirt road has been pretty normal and uneventful lately. Last week Sophie and Duke got out of the fence and ran and frolicked all night. Sophie came back the next morning but Duke was nowhere to be seen. (She was even sitting on the deck looking for him!) I was getting nervous and wondering if the great outdoors was too much for him and his pampered self when I finally spotted him in the front yard. Whew! Crisis averted!  

Partying all night was just too much so they came inside and crashed for the day. Sorry for the sorry pics but my phone isn't exactly from this decade.

Sophie
Duke


Matt and Evan cut down the cedar trees that were at the end of the driveway. I'll admit that I was a little sad. But with the road construction going on, they were the only two trees left and looked a little out of place. Plus, every time we drove between them they scratched the van.



Evan got to help Daddy and drive the tractor again. He was in hog heaven! 


We also cleaned out the raised beds. This season's seeds have arrived and we've got to get them in the ground. Yes folks, I did indeed wield the hoe. 
And today I sho' am soe'. :D


Look at those cute boots!

See! I'm rolling up my sleeves- proof that I DID work!

Honestly, I'm a little scared. We ordered a bunch of seeds. I mean a BUNCH. We're new to this whole gardening thing and we're trying to go organic. I hope we don't fail miserably. Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Day and a Half I'll Never Get Back

February 20th is a day I'll never forget. Actually, it's a day I'll never remember.

Huh?

Picture it- President's Day. Monday February 20th. The hubs was off work and we had such high hopes of finally finishing the chicken coop. Instead, my brain decided to go haywire. I woke him up at 5 in the morning having a seizure. But it wasn't as if I woke him up and said "I'm having a seizure!". More like I woke him up by poking him in the back with my fingers as my body stiffened up and shook violently. Good morning, honey! I didn't wake up when it was over but slept until another one hit about 7 a.m. After that one I remember waking up long enough to get sick and declare I needed to go to the hospital. I didn't know I had had two seizures, I just knew I was very sick and needed to go. NOW. After that thought, I don't remember getting dressed, walking to the car, or driving to the hospital. I do have a very brief memory of being wheeled into the emergency room and then sitting in the exam room. While there, tests were done and I had another seizure (so I've been told). Guess that third seizure really freaked everybody out because they decided I needed to be at a bigger hospital. So off I went to the Medical Center.

I have another brief memory of being in the ambulance, but literally that's all. I just remember opening my eyes and knowing I was riding in an ambulance. The next memory is of my friend Jennifer standing over my bed at the hospital and then later seeing my sister by the bed. And that's pretty much it. Sis said I was talking but I don't remember any of the conversations. Finally the last seizure hit around 7 p.m. That made 4 in 14 hours. Something was definitely not right. I had a CAT scan, MRI, EKG, and lots of blood work done, but again, can't recall a thing. I believe that to be a good thing because the docs were looking for scary stuff such as a brain tumor, brain cancer, stroke, and aneurysm. Eek! Glad I was asleep, although I'm sure a few years have been shaved off my poor family's life. 

Finally on Tuesday I woke up in the ICU and had a little bit of sense about me. I knew where I was and what happened, so I must have retained some of what I was told while being completely out of it. I was hooked up to monitors, IVs, oxygen, a sensor thingy on my finger, and the dreaded catheter. I couldn't get out of bed if my life depended on it. I was sore, weak, drugged, my brain was in a fog, my tongue hurt (because I bit it repeatedly) and I didn't have a clue as to what was going to happen next. Over the next couple days I had an EEG and spinal tap done because none of the other tests showed anything. Even those came back normal. By Thursday I had not had any more seizures so thankfully I was able to go home. My nurses were great and they gave me extraordinary care, but I was ready to see my babies and sleep in my own bed.

Fast forward to present time and we still don't have any answers as to what happened. I'm under the care of a neurologist and take anti-seizure medicine twice a day. Matt asked the doc if the seizures could have been a fluke but he said no. Since I had so many in such a short period of time, something definitely happened and he suggested I have another type of brain scan called a MRA done. A MRA looks at the itty-bitty tiny blood vessels in your brain that a MRI can't see. That was done on Tuesday and we're waiting for the results. Doc said maybe I did have a small aneurysm, or a blood vessel was leaking, or maybe there is potentially trouble brewing. If there is, this MRA should catch it. However, if it doesn't give us any answers then I'll probably be referred to a specialist in Augusta because right now I am a "mystery case". A mystery because I've never had seizures before, I'm too old for epilepsy to develop, and every single test has come back normal.

The weeks after I got out of the hospital were difficult because I had headaches and what I refer to as "jelly brain". I had a hard time recalling facts and information and words were sometimes hard to get out. The neurologist said those are side effects of seizures because basically I had 4 traumatic brain events and now my brain has to recover. He assured me that would go away and I'd feel normal soon. I've noticed that since Monday I haven't had a headache and my thinking has been a lot clearer. Yay! No more jelly brain! But on the downside, according to Georgia law I can't drive for six months. Bummer. However, that leads me to my closing.......

Our family, church family, and friends have just been incredible through this whole ordeal. We've had visits, calls, cards, supper fixed for us, babysitters, and ride offers. I say "we" because everyone has been looking after Matt as much as me. We are so incredibly thankful God has surrounded us by all these wonderful people. Even if we never know the source of the seizures, I know God has His hand on us no matter what. I was never afraid in the hospital, it never occurred for me to be. I know who was and is in control. My faith rests in the One who made me. Would I voluntarily choose this path for us? No way. But God did and I know He's working through it. So I do choose to keep a smile on my face and be an example for His kingdom.