Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Blog

Hello, Readers!

This is to let you know that beginning Monday, December 13, 2010, Work in Progress will be moved to! I hope to see you al there!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Coming Soon!

That's what I call a "teaser". :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Family Values

Now that we are expecting our second child in February, I have joined some expectant mother forums. These forums are great for many reasons, one of them being I can get a snapshot of how other children my kid's ages will be and are being raised. It has come to my attention that conservative values for raising a child are being rejected by many "free thinkers" who all seems to think alike, by the way. But I digress.

Here is a list of 10 unshakable family values that may label my family as "old-fashioned" or worse, but values that we will not budge on, nonetheless. This is first 10 principles that popped into my head, so this is not a comprehensive list, nor is it listed in order of importance.

Check with me in 20 years to see how we did. :)

1) My husband and I will stay married, no matter what. If this means one of us has to drag the other by the ear to marriage counseling one day, that's what will happen.

2) We will be actively attend a local church, where we are members. And our kids will do so as well, as long as they live under our roof. They will choose for themselves to follow the Lord or not. But church will not be an option until they move out.

3) I will cover myself in public while nursing my kids. I don't desire to be a target for sickos or a stumbling block for others.

4) Our kids will be expected to say, "please", "thank you", "I'm sorry", "ma'am", "sir", etc. Basic manners can only help them as adults.

5) We will pray together daily as a couple and as a family. The family that prays together, stays together.

6) We will spank our kids once they are old enough to understand the concept of sin and consequences. We will not abuse our kids, leave marks, or discipline in anger. We will not spank children under the age of accountability.

7) Our kids will have chores to do. Some will be done to earn an allowance, others will simply be expected of them. Even our son(s) will learn how to wash clothes, wash dishes, cook and mop.

8) We will not borrow money.

9) We will have an open-door policy on whatever our kids want to talk to us about. Sex, divorce, other religions, sin, hurt, pain, what-have-you. There is no discussion off limits between us and our kids.

10) Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I'm back!

It's been a long time since I was here last. To be exact, it's been three months! The reason for my absence was that although most of the comments I received from readers were positive, I had a couple of people I know personally contact me directly to state that they found my blog bitter and embarrassing. I tend not to take criticism all that personally, but because the comments came from people I know personally and given the nature of the accusations, I was compelled to take time off to reflect upon my motives.
Three months after my last post, I am resolved that no slander or bitterness was ever intended in my blog. The purpose of my blog has always been to show the real heart of real struggles by a real person trying to live a victorious Christian life. This means that I will share stories from painful and joyful parts of my Christian journey. Real life is full of both pain and joy, so my blog will reflect that. This is not to say that I never struggle with bitterness, hurt, resentment, or any other negative reaction to a situation. I freely admit that there have been people in my life that I had to chose to forgive on a daily basis until all hurt and ill feelings faded from my heart. But you see, that's the heart of the message. As Christians we fail. But with Christ we can persevere to victory!
I hope that clarifies any misunderstandings about my blog, and by extension, my heart. Readers are of course free to believe what they choose. But just so you've heard it from the "horse's mouth" I only seek to encourage you through stories of my struggles and victories.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Being a Virtuous Wife

Yep, that's a true work in progress! Have you read Proverbs 31:10-31 lately? That wife was SUPERWOMAN! I remember discussing the wonder-wife with my former pastor's wife (she is still his wife, he is just not my pastor anymore) and she remarked, "Well, she wasn't all those things at the same time!" Whew! What a relief!
There are many ways in which I could be a more virtuous wife, but the point I'll focus on is verse 15. "She rises while it is still night and gives food to her her household and a portion for her maidens." Humm...I don't have any maidens. Might be easier to be wonder-wife with some extra hands to help. But I digress!
I think that the thought here is that the virtuous wife plans meals ahead, even if just for the day. When it comes to meals, the people in the house know that mom has a plan.
This will look different for different moms, but for me, I like to plan meals a least a week in advance. I prefer to have meals planned for a month. That may sound difficult, but I find it so much easier to plan and prep as much ahead of time as possible. That insures fewer dishes to wash each night, and NO nights of spontaneous eating out because there wasn't time to get supper ready.
Here are some of the things that I do to help with this.
1) I always have biscuit dough in the fridge. I will make a batch of dough, bake half and refrigerate half. My crew loves having a steady supply of biscuits, since they go with virtually any meal and are good at any time of the day. My mother-in-law gave me the recipe that I use, but I do not know where she got it from. I know that the recipe was not her own, so please forgive me for not knowing the original source!
Yeast Biscuits
1 pkg yeast (if you buy yeast in bulk, use 2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 cups very warm water
1 stick of butter
4-5 cups self-rising flour
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into 2 tablespoons of water. In a large bowl, melt butter into warm water (but the butter into little pieces first). Beat the egg into the yeast mixture. Add the yeast mixture and sugar to the butter water. Beat in one cup of flour. Add the rest of the flour one two cups at a time, then knead on a floured surface until able to cut biscuits (adding more flour as necessary). Wrap half the dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until the next time you want fresh biscuits. Roll and cut the other half. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes.
2) I like to prep and freeze ahead. A great source for learning how to do this is "Once-A-Month Cooking" by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. For a person who is just learning how to freeze meals ahead of time, this is a great resource! Even if you are not crazy about all the recipes (some are great and some are "ok") you get the drift of what will freeze well, and how much preparation can be done ahead of time. Once you've used this book a few times, you will find the courage to freeze your own recipes! Note: You can reuse freezer bags by simply washing them out with hot, soapy water. If you use a permanent marker to label your bags, that can be wiped off with fingernail polish or rubbing alcohol. I do not reuse bags that had raw meat in them, however.
3) I like to make master mixes for things like cornbread, granola, pancakes, cakes, etc. The kind of things that can be bought in a box mix, but are just better if it is made from scratch. "Make-A-Mix/Over 300 Easy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day" by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward, and Madeline Westover, and "More With Less" by Doris Longacre are wonderful resources for this. Note: You can always bake a cake and freeze it in portions suitable for your family. The same concept applies to cookie dough.
4) I like meals that don't cost an arm and a leg to make! "More with Less" by Longacre and "The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook" by Erin Chase are two of my favorites for this concept. Chase's book also teaches how to coupon, which is a skill I covet to learn! I can't wait to dive into the process of learning how to use coupons effectively!
5) I bake my own bread. I know that bread is not all that expensive to buy from the store, but I just really like making it myself. I find kneading to be very therapeutic, and bread making in general to be very rewarding. This could be because of the aroma of fresh baked bread is so delicious, and my husband and daughter LOVE bread just out of the oven. My absolute favorite book about bread making is, "Breads and Coffee Cakes with Homemade Starters" by Ada Lou Roberts.
Hope that is of help to you! Happy planning!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Living with chronic illness

I had to face the music that I am not considered a "healthy" person at the age of 18, and never will be until I receive my new body in Heaven. I don't mean terminal illness. I have never faced a battle for my life. What I mean to talk about is living with incurable, but not necessarily life-threatening illness.
During my senior year of high school, I started to notice some changes in how I felt, and in how well I was able to concentrate. At times, I felt as though the whole world was fuzzy and that I was walking on marshmallows. Other times, I was in so much pain from severe migraines that I had to stay in bed for days at a time. I also began to have terrible pains in my lower back and abdomen. I did not talk about the pains in my back and abdomen, because I was a shy girl, who did not want to see a gynecologist, nor even talk about female issues.
I was living with my grandmother when all these changes started to take place, so she and I resolved to find out what was wrong. My dad had juvenile diabetes, so my grandmother assumed that was a good place to start testing. We went to see our family doctor, and he agreed to run some tests, starting with diabetes.
I had a glucose tolerance test that came back from the lab as positive. When I went to see a diabetic specialist, however, he ruled out diabetes. He said on a scale of 1-10, 1 being most severe, I was an 11. No diabetes whatsoever. Glad as I was that I did not have diabetes, I was frustrated to be back at square one.
I graduated in May of 1997, and exactly one week later on my 18th birthday, a big piece of the puzzle was solved. I was sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table eating my absolute favorite breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits, and talking to my brother Joshua on the phone, who was singing me "Happy Birthday." Then I blacked out.
The next thing I remember was laying in my bed as my grandmother was putting a clean shirt on me. I was demanding of her, "Who are you? Who ARE you? Where am I?" I was very disoriented and dizzy as I sat up and saw an ambulance pull up in the street. A paramedic came in and calmed me down. He told me that I was safe, and began to ask me questions.
"What is your name?"
Pause. "Kim."
"What day is it?"
"I don't know..."
"That's ok. How many days in the week?"
"Can you name them?"
"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday."
"Who is the president?"
"George Washington. No, wait. Bush."
The paramedic explained to me that I had had a seizure and that I had to be taken to the hospital. Later, my grandmother told me that I had gotten on the phone with my brother, screamed, threw my spoon and the phone, then collapsed under the table with a seizure. She called the ambulance, and I became conscious as she was dressing me.
It has been 12 years since my first seizure, and about 11 years since I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy. After the first year of learning how to live with epilepsy, I really have not had a hard time of it. I have learned how to take care of my body so as to prevent seizures, and have found a medicine that keeps almost all of my seizures at bay. I am well enough to drive and function with a mostly normal life. The main difference that has taken place with me is the need for rest, avoid over-stimulation such as flashing lights, loud noises, and strong smells (the mall at Christmastime is a nightmare) and need to handle stress properly--or else have a seizure.
I got married at age 23 to my wonderfully supportive best friend and soul-mate. After four years of marriage, we decided to try for a baby. After a few months, I decided to finally tell a doctor about the abdominal and back pain issues that I had become accustomed to and thought were normal. At age 26, I had my first laprascopy for endometriosis, and was diagnosed with endometriosis and irritable bowel syndrome. The doctor also suspected adenomyosis, but that could not be confirmed without dissecting the uterus. Since I was under 30 and wanted children, a hysterectomy was out of the question. I was eventually declared infertile, and saw a fertility specialist.
In the meantime, I was also diagnosed with pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP), a rare skin disease. Thankfully, that diagnosis was overtuned, and replaced with "acute eczema." At any rate, I always have rashes splotched on my arms and legs than never go away. Sometimes the rash spreads to my face and back, but those patches seem to go away.
So like I said, epilepsy is no fun, but it's also no biggie for me. Endometriosis was also no fun, but it's not deadly. Virtually everyone I know has eczema of one degree or another, so that is no biggie.
When all of those diagnoses are placed on one sheet of paper along with a venous angioma on my brain and adjustment disorder, I am what you call "uninsurable." None of the conditions I have make me eligible for disability, but all of them together make it nearly impossible for me to hold a steady job. I can't get insurance, even though to look at and talk to me, I am just as healthy as any other 30 year old woman. People would never know to look at me that insurance companies run from me, and doctors are puzzled by me.
I have already stated that this is no biggie for me, so why bring it up at all? Well, to be honest, sometimes I just plain hurt. Other times, I am just so wiped out from something simple such as going out to eat in a place with ceiling fans. And everyday I have to live with the very real fact that I have very real limitations. In short, having chronic illness and pain is exhausting and humbling. Sometimes, it is scary. With my abdominal pain and back pain returning with a vengeance, I struggle with the fear that my daughter is the only child I will ever have.
I used to pray that God would heal my body, and I still have hope that someday He might.
In the meantime, I rejoice! It's not that I like illness or pain. No, but I am thankful to God for the lessons I have learned and am learning. I am thankful for the experience of hours and hours conversing with the Lord about it. I am overwhelmed that He has a record of every tear I have ever shed, and that I am His child.
As I hold my daughter when she is sick and feeling miserable, I cannot help but muse that God has held me close to His bosom at times when I was miserable. In fact, His arms never tire, and He never puts me down.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Church Signs

It's been a while since I've posted, sorry for that! I want to go to a "once a week" model. We'll see how determined I am!

There is a topic that I have been interested in for a while, which includes a local church here in Liberty County. Well, not the church so much as their sign. I suppose I could argue that the sign is a reflection of the church, but to be fair, I've never stepped inside of it.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept if church signs, let me briefly explain what I am talking about. Here is the Deep South, there is a church and sometimes multiple churches for every street corner. Also, there can be several churches all lined up on the same street. Most churches, and certainly the traditional ones, have a marquee out front that has a "catchy" phrase that is intended to touch the hearts of the drivers passing by, enticing them toward inner reflection, and even a Sunday morning visit.

I have seen some catchy and even humorous slogans on church signs. My favorite is "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts." Every time I think of that one I can't help but chuckle.

The one local church I mentioned earlier always has a slogan that gets my attention. Examples are: "You can worship God at the beach, but will you?" This is, of course, scolding people who would rather hit the beach on Sunday morning instead of church. "On judgement day, atheists will learn that there is a God." This being a clear warning to atheists about judgement day. And my personal favorite, "Sleeping saints serve Satan" to which I always follow up with a loud, "sssssssssssss". As a matter of fact, I never read that church's sign without making a loud "hissing" sound after wards. I've been a Christian almost my whole life, and I have no desire whatsoever to darken the door of that church. I shudder to think what the lost think as they drive by.

I have some suggestions for more appropriate and loving church signs: "Atheists, welcome! Please come in and receive a free copy of The Reason for God by Timothy Keller." "Are you hungry? Please come take advantage of our food pantry." "Are you in emotional distress, and wonder if there is more to this life? Please come in, we have all the time you need to address your questions."

But with all the hoop-lah about signs, I stand firm on one principle. If the church wants to reach people, signs are not needed. Feet are. Feet that will go into the highways and byways, taking the Truth with them.