Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easy White Chicken Chili!

I was so happy to find this amazing recipe this week! Five ingredients and fifteen minutes are all you need to make this happen!


6 cups chicken broth and 3 cups cooked shredded chicken

 

2 cups salsa verde
 
2 - 15 oz. cans Great Northern beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Garnish with sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, etc.
Combine ingredients in a stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until heated through (approx. 5 min)

I doubled the recipe, and would probably triple it next time.  We like to enjoy our soup for a couple of days!  The easiest way for this busy mom to quickly have chicken accessible is to buy individually frozen tenders or breasts and pull what I need from the freezer after work.  For soup I like to use tenders because they cook through quickly and evenly and shred well.  I boil them in the stock pot, and within a few minutes I have all the chicken and the broth that I need. 

Let me know if you try this recipe!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Colors and Comforts

I L.O.V.E. this time of year!  This fall has been especially beautiful because our leaves haven't really started falling yet, and we are getting some gorgeous color.  As I type, it's 37 degrees and drizzling, but I'm sure the sun will shine again tomorrow. 



 I was plodding through Pinterest last week, and it just happened to be one of those what-in-the-world-are-we-gonna-have-for-dinner days. This recipe caught my eye:

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Here is the link -
http://wellfeefamily.blogspot.com/2011/09/homestyle-chicken-noodle-soup-so-easy.html

And the recipe -

Ingredients:
1/2 of medium onion, chopped
1 bag of egg noodles (you can use either medium or wide)
2 cans of cooked chunk chicken breast (I like the Tyson brand), strained
1 can of sliced carrots, strained
Water
Chicken Bouillon cubes
Parsley Flakes

Easy steps to homestyle, tasty goodness:
1) In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.
2) Fill pot 2/3 full with hot water and add bouillon cubes (I usually use 3 or 4)- you could also use canned chicken broth.
3) Bring to a rolling boil and add bag of egg noodles.
4) Boil until noodles are tender (approx. 12-15 minutes), and stir occasionally.
5) Add carrots and chicken and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 more minutes. (I usually do a quick taste test here and add more seasoning if it needs it.)
6) Sprinkle parsley flakes on top and serve!!! (Don't skip out on the parsley flakes- it really adds to the "homestyle" look of the soup. I am discovering that you can put parsley flakes on an old tennis shoe and it will look appetizing! haha)

Since my kids aren't crazy about onions sloshing around in their food and I didn't have any canned chicken, I quickly boiled some individually frozen chicken tenders, added onion flakes, parsley flakes, a couple cans of sliced carrots, and cooked noodles.  And I heard the coveted words, "Mom, this soup is AMAZING!"  It doesn't get any easier or any better than that.  :-) Between the large crock of chicken noodle soup and a double batch of Skyline chili, we had enough comfort food to last us most of the weekend. 

I was at our WOW meeting Monday evening, and the topic was Open Hearts, Open Doors.  The theme of hospitality led into a bit of discussion about fears that women have in being hospitable.  One of the common fears is that there wouldn't be food on hand to quickly prepare a tasty meal or snack for an unexpected guest.  This soup recipe will go into my "emergency hospitality kit" because it can all be kept in the pantry and ready in 30 minutes.  And...who can refuse some homemade chicken noodle goodness?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quiet Please!

In the hustle, bustle, and busyiness of life, a quiet moment can be a rarity.  We are so bombarded with distracting sounds that many of us have to add a layer of "white" noise so that we can rest or think. 
 
There are sounds of the home - appliances running, doors slamming, children laughing or crying, and media blaring. 
 
Beyond our walls, there are sounds of the community - vehicles, rescue sirens, barking dogs, lawn maintenance equipment, and neighborhood children at play.
 
And sometimes, deep within our souls, there are distracting noises of discontent, fear, guilt, anxiety, and hopelessness.
 
A portion of the view from the upper deck of our cabin in Wears Valley.
This evening, I've found a quiet moment.  We are at the halfway point in our family vacation, and following an afternoon of rambunctious fun (which included our youngest eating rock candy and dipping it into powdered sugar before each bite - yes, rambunctious!), my husband has taken the kids to the pool to give my ears - and my overworked ankle - a rest. 
 
It's amazing what one can notice when it's quiet.  The cicadas and crickets sing their sunset chorus.  A gentle, cool mountain breeze rustles the leaves of the tall, sturdy trees.  Occasionally the snapping of twigs grabs my attention as I look to see if I'm being visited by one of the many black bear that are often seen lumbering through these parts.    And then there is the hum of the jacuzzi on the lower deck...a reminder that we still love our amenities.  :-)
As I sit and soak in these soothing sounds, I'm reminded that in less than a week my world is going to become twice as noisy as it's been all summer.  The school bell will ring, and our returning students plus a healthy batch of new ones will bustle through the doors eagerly anticipating another school year.  Our days will be filled with the added pressures of homework, music lessons, and lunch packing.  Life's noises will threaten to drown the quiet that is needed to maintain balance, and it will be easier to succumb to the spin cycle and quickly find ourselves completely wrung out than to intentionally step aside and find a quiet place to rejuvenate the spirit.   
 
No matter your occupation, your family composition, or your geographic location, you're living in a noisy world.  Take a little time to find yourself a quiet place.  Listen to the cicadas, the crickets, and the wind.  Listen for the voice of God.  It's in the quiet that He is most often heard.
 
 
 

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Special Moment

...with a very special former student.
Never underestimate what a relationship may teach you. That is the lesson I learned from a boy who was probably underestimated by many.
I hadn't dealt with autism before meeting him. I didn't know to expect on a daily basis. I was both fearful and hopeful for his success.
But like so many others with "disabilities," my friend has extra "abilities. "  And just as I was amazed at his strengths in the classroom those years ago, I'm even more amazed and more than a bit proud of the young man he has become.
So when the opportunity presents itself, step out of your comfort zone and embrace someone who faces challenges that are different from your own. Offer to walk along beside them for at least a part of their journey. They will likely benefit, but I guarantee you'll benefit more.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Reality of Suffering

I'll admit it. I've had a pretty cushy life.

Haven't experienced much pain.

No great tragedies of which to speak.

Never been in utter despair.

But I've had a brush with a reality that turned my life upside down for a moment; the extent of which is yet unknown.

And I've learned that this is true. So true.


"Your most profound and intimate experiences
of worship will likely be in your darkest days -
when your heart is broken,
when you feel abandoned,
when you're out of options,
when the pain is great -
and you turn to God alone."
-Rick Warren


 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

So, Whaddya Think?

Since my whole shoe inventory is fixin' to undergo a major purge, I thought I'd check into my options for supportive, neutral footwear that would protect my joints, provide stability, AND keep me from looking like a 95-year-old granny. I'm quite sure my search was unsuccessful.



Yup, I'm serious. Kohls.com - women's athletic shoes - beige.

Oh, and just for fun...

It might be worth the $50 just to see the sheer panic on the faces of my kids!

If you like them, I won't judge.  :-)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"I see you're on your feet!"

This was the exclamation of one of my little piano students who came for her lesson this morning.  "Yes, and this feels soooo much better than that wheelchair," I replied with a broad smile.  :-)

The road has been long.  Nine weeks tomorrow, to be exact.  Ten days ago, this cast was removed:

Glad I went with purple...
it withstood lots of campmeeting dirt!
My surgeon was specific about two things, and I've tried to keep them in mind -
  • The broken bones have not healed, they are healing.
  • Healing does not occur during periods of mobility, but during rest.
For the first few days with the walking boot, I relied heavily on my knee walker and regular walker.  I didn't expect to have such heel and leg pain, but now that I know it's normal I'm trying to walk and work through it.  The most difficult thing for me is getting over the fear that it will happen again.  The walking boot has more bulk than a cast, but I've quickly learned to be thankful for all the padding and the air that I can put in or released as needed. 

And after not being able to drive for 8 weeks and 6 days, I decided I'd had enough of that and took off for the bank and my favorite coffee shop yesterday morning.  Right foot on the gas, left foot on the brake. :-)  I picked a low traffic time, and made use of the drive thru at both places.  After reading some things online last night, I'm guessing I wasn't supposed to do it, and I can't say that it really felt comfortable or safe, so that'll probably be the extent of it for awhile. 

I'm to see the OS again Monday, and I'm thinking he'll probably wean me off the the boot.  He's also going to check my ROM to see if I need PT. My leg muscles are quite atrophied, so that's another issue that hinders balance and endurance.

Did I mention bulk?   :-)
And a bit of advice for all of us -


Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Crack Really Can Kill...

your summer, that is!  Especially if you land on your face and break a leg! LOL!  Do you realize how many cracks are in sidewalks?  Practically every walking surface is like one big accident waiting to happen! Believe me...I notice them all now. 

I'm tempted to start hoarding away money into an "in case it ever happens again" account. Seriously, if I'm ever again in a cast, all I ask for is a handicap accessible guest house on Mackinac Island.  I could ride my scooter to the lake every day, and enjoy being unable to do anything else.  :-)

Yes, please!
Ah, back to reality...

I have been in a cast almost seven weeks now.  When I went to my last appointment on June 1st, the doc took my stitches out and my lime green cast was replaced with a pretty purple.  My incisions looked so much better!  I didn't have x-rays at that visit, so it's hard to tell exactly what's going on under the skin, but it feels like it is healing properly. 

My little attempt at humor could leave the wrong impression.  My summer is as busy as any I've ever lived.  Thanks to the generosity of people who care about me, I have all of the equipment I need to do the things I really want to do.  As I write, I'm sitting in my camper in Frankfort, IN.  Church camp is the highlight of my year, and I look forward to spending two weeks away from normal demands to focus on spiritual growth and fellowship.  One gentleman made a huge set of steps for the entry door of our RV.  Each step is 20" deep, allowing plenty of space for my walker.  He made the step height and grade so that there would be minimal difficulty for me to navigate them alone.  My sister-in-law's mom had an awesome knee scooter sitting in her barn, and she offered it to me.

Meet my best friend.  :-)

Another friend brought a golf cart for me to use to get from building to building on this rather spread out campground.   I''m so blessed to have these tools that make my life 110x easier!

And the good news is that July 1st, at 2 p.m., I will hopefully be able to transition to a walking boot!  Yeah, I know...they're bulky and ugly.  But hey, have you ever gone 7.5 weeks without shaving one leg?  Ewww...I'm ready!!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Skyline Time!

image

Gotta love it...or hate it!  I don't remember hearing anyone say, "It's not my favorite, but it's ok..." No, either you crave Skyline or you curl your nose and say, "It doesn't even taste like chili!" 

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve Skyline.  We would often (like really often) travel to Cincinnati to visit family, and few things were more fun than heading to Skyline with my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I have some of the coolest aunts, uncles, and cousins, so it was a win-win.  :-)  Fun times, to say the least! 

Anyway, a few years ago Skyline came to Lima and we developed a tight relationship...lol.  Tuesday night was kid's night, and it was great to be able to walk in and pay for two adult meals and have all four kids eat free.  Not only that, they had a craft table and they would entertain our kids for about 30 minutes, which gave us a free babysitter.  :-)

Time moved on, and the boys outgrew the kid's meals (it was getting a little embarassing to ask for two...haha), so they started ordering like big guys.  Really big guys.  Keep in mind that a large 3-way is over $7 and if we let them purchase a drink and maybe an extra coney, we're talking a $50 meal real quick for a family of six. 

Previously, I had purchased canned and frozen Skyline chili to use in Skyline Dip (just add a foundation of cream cheese, a layer of chili, and a cheddar cheese topping  - warm in the oven, and dip with tortilla chips), but they weren't cost effective to pull off a meal at home.  One day I noticed that Meijer was featuring these on an endcap:


At under $1.40 per packet, I figured it was worth a shot, so I grabbed two.  Once the scent of Skyline (of Cincinnati chili) began to permeate the house, I knew it was $ well-spent.  Even if it tasted gross, the smell was pure bliss!



Since then, we've made several batches of chili at home.  Last Saturday Greg did a double batch in the crock pot.  It simmered most of the day, and we have eaten probably 8 meals (x 6 ppl) off of 8 qts.  We like to use it on spagetti noodles, fries, hot dogs, and baked potatoes. 

I know there are all kinds of copycat recipes out there, but I'm not a 15 ingredient type of cook, and I love it that this packet only requires ground beef (not browned), tomato paste, and water.  If you make it, stick to the instructions on the packet or you won't have true Cincinnati chili.  Also, we've found that eating it a day or two after cooking gives a better consistency.  Usually the smell gets us and we just use bowls to help with the juices for the first day.  Also, get yourself a fine grater and a brick of cheddar cheese to achieve an authentic taste!

Yeah, we still go to Skyline sometimes.  After all these years, they're like family.  :-)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

From My Point Of View - Kids & Chores...


Growing up, I was not the tidiest child on the planet.  My sister can attest to this, as we shared a room.  Fortunately, she was as bad (or good) at being messy as I was, so we were a match made in Heaven – or somewhere! 
 
My brother, on the other hand, was a perfectionist neat freak.  Bless his heart…I envied his organizational skills, but looking back I can certainly understand his paranoia whenever my sister or myself would get near his bedroom. 

Eric & Valerie - Probably 1986 - I love this pic!

All these years later, I still struggle with mess.  Typically it’s just clutter which I keep around for a reason.  I’m still trying to figure out the reason, but I know I have one.  J  Usually, my clutter mess is localized at my desk or my side of the bedroom, and I do have my limits.  Every few days, I take the time to organize and clear the clutter. 

As our children grew older, I struggled in my mind as to what I should expect from them.  Some of them are naturally more organized than others.  One is a hoarder.  How was I to draw guidelines, yet still allow them to function within their personality?  At what point should they participate in the upkeep of the home?  I’ve done a lot of reading, and I think I’ve seen it all – cutesy little chore charts, systematic timelines for different areas of the house, etc.- but none of what I saw really grabbed me.  I’m not the chart type, and I really don’t have the time or the patience to do the spreadsheets. 

Several years ago, my sister-in-law who had been an at-home mom went back to work.  Her two older daughters were probably around 11-13 years of age.  Of the several chores that she delegated to them was their own laundry.  That stuck with me, and for many reasons, I liked the idea.  Two summers ago, I followed her lead and taught the boys to do their own laundry.  They were 10 and 12, and they did their laundry that summer, and have continued to help with it (or do their own) from that time on.

The bulk of my “chores” struggle has been finding a healthy balance of what is age-appropriate and acceptable.  I’ve observed families where it seemed the kids were overloaded with chores while the parents were pretty lethargic and unmotivated.  My perspective.  I’ve also worked with 7th graders who had literally never swept a floor until they came into my class and had a small chore to complete each day after lunch.  Pathetic.  Again, my perspective.  J

I read an article by Michael Pearl (I wish I had a copy of it, but it was borrowed), and in it he talked about the benefit vs. the liability of a child to a family.  Keep in mind, his perspective is never fluffy or gooey, but practical and without a lot of flowery feel-good language.  The idea is that when children are small, they are a “drain” on the family, but as they emerge into toddlerhood and then grade school, they begin to shoulder their own weight.  By the time they reach the age of 10 or so (if I remember everything correctly), they become an asset and a contributor to the household.  Mr. Pearl’s logic made complete sense to me, and gave me a bit more direction than I had previous.

Rockin' with the duster...lol
Since then, there are a couple of things that I have determined:

  • I won’t force my kids to have an impeccable bedroom.  It can’t be dirty (as in real dirt), but I will allow some flexibility. 
  • I will be sure that my kids know how to do all the typical household chores (age-appropriate), and they will contribute to the functionality of the household. 
Now the rubber meets the road, and their skills are put to the test.  Mom is virtually out of commission for a few weeks, and dad goes to work every day.  The two weeks following my injury, the kids were still in school.  I had to alternate keeping one of the boys home with me each day the first week because there was just too much risk for me to stay alone.  Whichever one stayed at home did some school work, and pretty much waited on me as needed.  The second week was full with their end-of-year field trip, parties, etc., and I went to work a couple of days.  Greg would come home from work and spend the evening catching up all the chores.  Although he regularly does laundry and helps with whatever needs to be done, he was literally working the entire evening until he would drop into bed.  Those were the weeks where survival was more important than everyone carrying their part of the load. 
No, she's not scrubbing toilets...
I'd prefer her to stick with sweeping,
dusting, or folding towels.  :-)
We’ve now been out of school for one week.  In between coloring pictures, watching DVD’s, working on their summer Bible reading, jumping on the trampoline, reading good books, soaking in the sprinkler, and mowing lawns, they’ve also been sweeping floors, vacuuming carpets, cleaning bathrooms, dusting furniture, hauling out garbage, loading the dishwasher, and preparing light meals.  They love it that I have a stash of chocolate that I will randomly share with cheerful, thorough helpers. 
 

Before leaving the hospital, I was repeatedly asked about the level of help I would receive at home.  I knew that my mom had a full work schedule, so it was up to the kids and me while Greg was at work.  I loved being able to tell the medical personnel that my kids knew more about housekeeping than most husbands, and that we’d be just fine.  One nurse said that she had taken the same approach and she was so happy with the self-sufficiency of her boys “who never brought their laundry home with them while they were away at college.” 

Gotta love the mis-matched sock basket!
Whether or not one feels overwhelmed with household demands, children should (for their sake) be taught how to properly execute tasks…and then be expected to contribute regularly based on what they’ve been taught.  It’s important to make the atmosphere light and fun, even to have everyone working at the same time to teach teamwork and cooperation (and of course, scrubbing toilets is more fun when you know your brothers and sisters and in it with you!). 

Friday, May 31, 2013

From My Point Of View...

image
A couple of days after my accident, I read a blog post that spoke words that I needed. Blogger Andrea was talking out her daughter, Nora, and how much Nora loved to chase bubbles that Andrea would blow for her. Andrea noticed whenever she blew bubbles, Nora would focus on one in particular, ignoring all the others that may have been even closer in proximity. She would pass up numerous bubbles in her quest to reach the one that had caught her attention. Andrea likened Nora’s bubble chasing to opportunities that many of us pass up daily. Although focus is a positive thing, sometimes we need to step back and see what is within our grasp that we are missing because we are so fixated upon our “goal.”

When I fell, as you can imagine, my mind began to swirl with anxious thoughts about all that needed to be accomplished within the weeks following. As quickly as the panic would come, it seemed like God would comfort me with the assurance that He would take care of all of those things. He also clearly told me that during these weeks of healing (which sometimes tend to feel very confining) He would provide me with opportunities that I would normally overlook.

Have you ever been rushing through life thinking to yourself, “I really ought to send _____ a note of encouragement,” or “I need to have more one-on-one chats with my children to remind myself of their individuality and draw out their unique concerns and ideas,” or “I would love to be part of a Bible Study or Women's Group!” Those examples just scratch the surface of all the “I wish…” thoughts that scramble their way through one’s mind. You can fill in the blank with your own want to/need to thoughts, I’m sure. But hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, and astonishingly months can turn into years before we actually quit chasing the big bubble and begin reaching for the multitude of bubbles that are smaller, closer, and probably a whole lot more meaningful.

As you go through your day today and throughout this week, I challenge you to sit down (not to get comfy and fall asleep) and watch as the bubbles of opportunity fall around you. If you begin to see them all at once, grab a pen and paper and make a list so you don’t forget. Prioritize and tackle. My experience is that you’ll feel totally refreshed by experiences that normally wouldn’t garner your attention. I love it that the little bubbles shine, too…if I slow down long enough to experience them before they burst and evaporate!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Point Of View...


Had I written this post two and a half weeks ago, it would have been nothing like what you’ll read today.  My world was changed simply by one tiny misstep.  I remember my exact thoughts the moment before I stepped on the broken concrete, and I’ve recounted them many times since.  When we plan and our thoughts run through our mind like the current of a strong river, we rarely pause to consider that our very next move could completely alter the course of our days and bring with it a host of complications for which no one would wish.  Although my accident and struggles following are nothing in light of what some face daily, this time of injury and subsequent pain and healing is teaching me lessons.  I’m going to share some of those here. You’ll find these posts titled:

FROM MY POINT OF VIEW

I know my life has drastically changed when something as small as getting the wheelchair from the kitchen to the hardwood floor in the living room gives a huge sense of freedom.  There’s something empowering about being able to get quickly from one end of that room to the other in a relatively short amount of time - comparatively speaking, of course! The trek by walker from my bed to my bathroom seems like an eternity, even though the two rooms are adjacent to one another.

When I began to mentally plan my summer, I didn’t account for the time it would take to get from one room to another.  I didn’t figure in the fact that I wouldn’t be able to drive, wear my right shoe, ride my bike, or take a shower with all of me actually in the shower.  I certainly didn’t plan to be using my grandmother’s wheelchair or my great-grandfather’s walker!  But that’s how life is - unpredictable at best. 

 As I write, my mind goes back to the emergency room in Adrian, MI.  After my leg/ankle was stabilized and I had been given a little pain relief, Greg left the room for a few minutes.  Different medical personnel were coming into my little bedside area, and there were other patients with attending family members on either side of the curtain.  My mind was whirling…our kids were at home in school (except for Allison who was spending the day with a friend), my parents were at a conference in Indiana, and we were in a town where we knew no one and in a hospital of which I had never heard.  I couldn’t even tell you the name of it right now. 
 
As the medics, the student observers, the doctor, and the nurses came in and discussed my situation, my responses must have been positive.  Within a few minutes, a lady that was with a patient next door came over and said, “Boy, if I were in your situation, I don’t know that I could be as optimistic as you are.”  She caught me off guard because I didn’t know that anyone else had been listening to my conversations, but I felt compelled to share with her that my optimism wasn’t a result of my own feelings or circumstances.  I had hope for my future – however different it would be from what I had planned – because I have a Source of strength that is far greater that anything humanly possible.  I began to cry as I responded to her something like this, “Oh, how could I complain?  God has been so good to me!”  We shared a few more words, and she seemed a little uncomfortable as she went back to her loved one.  I don’t know what all she was going through, but I do know that in the days previous to my injury God had been doing a work in my heart.  He was helping me to develop an inward attitude of praise and thanksgiving that was different than anything previous.  I was grateful for the opportunity to celebrate another birthday, and I was savoring every moment like the gift from God that it was.  Honestly, I think that’s what helped me hold it together that day. 

I'm thinking now about a little chorus we used to sing in Good News Club that goes something like this, “With Christ in the vessel, I’ll smile at the storm…”  Although I wasn’t thrilled about my circumstances, the overarching knowledge that God is in control and that He is good gave me the assurance that I could face the uncertainty of my condition and the abrupt change of all of my best laid plans. 

Within a couple of hours of talking with that lady, I encountered the most painful moments of my life.  It sounds crazy, but I didn’t know pain could hurt like that and I begged God for relief.  Did the God that I had been praising just a short time before reach down and remove the suffering?  No, He allowed me to endure it even though I thought I couldn’t bear it another moment.  There were lessons in that, as well.  But for now... 

From my point of view, we are best prepared to face the crises moments when we have
developed an attitude of praise that totally permeates our spirit and splashes onto
those who are eavesdropping on our lives.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Smell Spring!

So even though there are piles of snow lingering from the recent storm, my students have informed me that a sunny 37 degrees feels awesome.  I see new green shoots sprouting up in my flower beds, and I had to resist the urge to buy a new pair of garden gloves the other day.  It's feeling like spring! 

Although these ideas and recipes float around on Pinterest and are available for anyone and everyone, I wanted to share a few photos from our March Women of Worth meeting.  The snacks were amazing, and they looked amazing, too!

Who's ready for spring flowers? 
(Me! Jumping up and down with both hands waving!)

Let's call him Mr. Bones -
My, do they have a crunch!

A healthy rainbow with my favorite pot of gold
(Hershey's almond nuggets)

Rabbit food :-) 
(crescent rolls, Philly spread, veggies)

Eggs and bacon anyone? 
(m&m's, pretzels, white choc.)
Maybe you'll be inspired to try one of these for Easter weekend?!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow Daze...

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I love snow days.  Not because I hate my job, but because I love the opportunity to catch up on household stuff and pretend to be normal!  Last night we had the "perfect storm."  It was perfect because it came on the heels of a overwhelmingly busy but very blessed week of special services at church.  God is so good, and He provided our family with health and the ability to be in a place where we could be a sponge for practical, soul-searching truths that will benefit us for months and years to come. 

Back in February, Greg was scheduled to take a business trip.  The company he was supposed to visit didn't end up being ready to implement the program he was helping to represent, so the trip was put on hold.  When it was rescheduled, it was right smack in the middle of our revival week.  He would miss Wednesday through Friday.  I was sick about it, but we knew that it was something that was out of our hands. We both began to pray that God would work His will, but I'll have to be honest and say that my faith was pretty weak.  The plane tickets had been purchased, and hotel reservations made. 
In spite of my waning faith, God showed me something pretty special. He again let me know that He always has our best interest at heart, and He knows exactly what we need.  About ten days before the trip was supposed to happen, Greg was notified that it had been put on hold again.  That was only the first of several "miracles" that I specifically witnessed last week, and I'm smiling as I think about how the presence of God was so near and strong, especially in our Sunday morning service.  It was everything we had prayed for, yet so much more than we even realized was possible!   The lyrics to Gaither's We Are So Blessed come to mind, "When we're empty You fill us till we overflow..."    And that's exactly what happened.  Back to the snow day...

God gave us good weather right up until the end of our week of services, then He dumped about 8 inches of snow in our driveway and tucked us in for an extra day.  Although I'm as ready for spring as anyone, the beauty of a snow storm still has me somewhat enamored, and throughout the night and most of today I've been able to catch glimpses of it while cleaning, organizing, and surfing the web. 

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If today is the last snow day of the year (who knows...we are in Ohio!), I'll be able to say that I did it justice.  Now it's time to blow out the candles, turn off the coffee pot, and secure a night of rest. 

Today I'm thankful for:
  • A warm, comfortable home
  • Pumpkin/vanilla candles from Swan Creek Candle Co.
  • A God who loves us more than we can even comprehend
  • Grace that is greater than sin
  • A husband who is sensitive to God's will in his life and career
  • Children who are growing, learning, achieving, and recognizing the voice of God
  • Snowflakes that multiply times a trillion and give us snow days  :-) 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

So What's A Girl To Do...

when she goes to Biggby with a bogo coupon...and she's all alone?  Yeeaahhh, you guessed it.  She buys one, she gets one free, and she drinks them both.  Hehe...I'm not a Starbucks girl, and I really missed my favorite coffee shop while I was in Muncie last week.  Combine that with the reality that I'm ready to pop some toothpicks in my eyelids while I try to finish a pressing project, and it's a coffee lover's perfect storm.  I'm pretty sure I just blew the lid off of any calorie reduction I was attempting today, but now today has run into tomorrow (or was it yesterday...I need some sleep!), and we're starting all over again.  I will try to stay away from the calories and the caffeine later in this day, but with a drive to Columbus and back in the early afternoon, I can't make promises.  :-)

Let me share a note that Alli passed to us in church last night.  I love reading "phonetic" writings, and it cracked me up to see her attempt at my name.  I'm not one to spend much time with my kids educationally before they start school (I figure there's enough time for all that in grades K-12), so she wouldn't have had a clue how to spell "Stephanie." 


She is so much fun right now because she is willing to try anything.  She's always pounding out something on the piano, spelling words aloud, or sounding things out and it's just something new every minute with her.  Love this stage.  The other day I noticed that she was playing the same note over and over on the piano, but she was frustrated because she couldn't get the timing right.  I wasn't catching onto what she was doing, but she finally asked me to help her cause she was trying to play the "wedding song."  Then it hit me...the prelude notes leading into the Bridal March...so we worked on that for awhile.  Not sure why it was important to her to get that figured out, but maybe in a few years she'll be able to add the rest of the song to the first three measures.  ;-)  While the other kids were sick, she was going a little stir crazy in the house.  She changed costumes multiple times per day, and danced and pranced all over the place for hours.  At one point she came to me with a veil over her face and asked me if I had worn one like that.  I told her no, and she said, "Well, that's how REAL people get married!"  Ooookay! 

Now that my baby is growing up, I find myself relishing every innocent word and action.  All too soon, she'll no longer want daddy to "tickle her awake" on Sunday mornings.  She'll decide that she can tuck herself into bed.  And her favorite meal won't be ice cream.  Now, that could pull some tears.  The days are passing quickly...

Since it's all of 1 a.m. (yeah, too much coffee), I think I'll have to quit tracking my parents' flight and catch some sleep.  They're covering a lot of ocean right now, and it's safe to say that I'll be a little more comfortable when they crawl into the van with me tomorrow, er, today! 

(And to think...I came this close to joining Money Saving Mom's Early to Rise Challenge this month!  What an epic fail that would have been!) 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

No Place Like Home!

After a virtually media-free week, I am back home and enjoying catching up on all my favorite blogs and posting a few pictures of my own.  For a peek into our week, click here.  I was able to spend a little time with my college bestie at the event we attended last week, and she concurred with me...there's no place like home!  I never considered myself a homebody {I can become 'housebound' within just a few hours}, but sleeping in a motel, eating out every meal, and constantly rearranging clothes in a suitcase isn't really my cup of tea these days.  I guess it is a small price to pay for the benefit of what we were doing, but I'm really glad to be back to the comfort of the place I love. 

When we walked into the house, it only took a split second for me to realize that whatever I had put down the garbage disposal before we left really hadn't gone all the way through the process of being disposed.  Rotten roast beef is utterly lacking in appeal.  :-)  With the magic of baking soda and some candles, we had it smelling like home again in no time, and spent the evening getting everything back into place and kicking our feet up for awhile. 

This morning I was able to catch up on one tiny detail that I hadn't had time to take care of before leaving - the fridge cleanout.  Ugh.  Needless to say, the dishwasher has run twice today.  Then it was on to organizing the pantry, making a grocery list, and all the other little details of getting ready for a new week.  It's good to be home.

Earlier in the week, I was a little anxious.  My parents are off for a trip to the Holy Land, my brother and his wife were attending the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention in Nashville, their children were at home with their maternal grandparents, three of my kids were in Cincinnati with my sister and brother-in-law, and we were in Muncie with the responsibility for a group of kids who are not ours.  It's not often that we are all scattered in different directions in travel, but it just happened to be that way this time.  So far, all of us except for my parents are back safely.  Mom and dad have a couple more days to experience this incredible journey they are taking.  Please pray for them as they complete the trip and fly home on Tuesday. 

Since it felt like spring today, Greg grilled some steaks for supper.  Only in Ohio can you go sledding one day, and be comfortably grilling on the deck the next.  ;-)  It's soooo good to be home!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Worth the time...

As I was perusing Family Christian Stores a couple of weeks ago, the current issue of life:beautiful captured my attention. I picked it up, and noticed that a topic I had been studying was mentioned in one of the articles. Since I was having trouble finding practical information on the particular subject, I decided to part with $5 and buy the magazine. A couple of years ago I picked one up - mostly intrigued by the appeal of the cover - but wasn't so eager to put down the money, so I left the store without it. :-)

lifebeautifulmagazine.com
This week I was finally able to really spend some time with this beautiful piece of art. In addition to the variety of faith-building articles, decorating tips, tasty recipes, DIY ideas (with free online templates), and large photo spreads, it is like a vacation for the eyes. The spectrum of colors presented in the tastefully designed pages really take the reader away for awhile. I'm guessing it is maybe 10x13 in size, and is flat out easy to read. Best of all, in this 97 page issue, there is not one advertisement!

I don't subscribe to many magazines. In fact, I'll get Women's Day if it's free or nearly free (ever notice they put a monthly Scripture verse on page 2?), and maybe a hunting mag for the guys if there isn't much cost involved. Magazines are mostly filled with vanity, Hollywood gossip (trash), or ads these days, so it's really nice to find one that values the reader and offers a pleasing presentation that grabs ones senses.

life:beautiful is published quarterly and is $4.95 per issue or $18.95 per year. Let me know if you have enjoyed this magazine or would like to borrow my copy! :-)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Well, It's Official...


image

We are now contributors to Allen County's 2013 flu statistics.  In 13 years of being a momma, I've never had a doctor to diagnose my kids with influenza.  It felt kinda weird to go through all the hassle of an appointment (dragging two fevered, congested, weak kids out into freezing temps), a torturous (for Kaitlynn anyway) nasal swab, and a two hour pharmacy ordeal...just to make it official. 

If you've hung around this blog for a couple of years, you've probably read my dr's office horror stories, and thanks to my not-so-great, don't-ever-want-to-repeat experiences, I've pretty much made dr visits an absolute, only-if-you're dyin', last resort kind of thing.  Since Kaitlynn was entering her 73rd hour of fever, headache, etc., and Ryan was starting into his first day, I figured it was time to take a little action.  I was more afraid that what he had might be going into pneumonia (he had it last winter), and she was just wrung out from three days of misery.  Here's today's story...

When I called to make the appointment, the receptionist was laughing as she answered the phone, making it completely impossible for me to understand anything she said except the last part, "Can you hold?"  I figured by the utter incompetence that I had gotten the right number, so I held.  When she came back on the line, there was so much noise (sounded like a bunch of women laughing) that she couldn't hear anything I was saying.  She did apologize and said that "they" were being really loud...I'm guessing it was the medical assistants that sometimes hang out at the front desk.  I repeated everything to her, and she scheduled me.  Easy enough. 

We arrived about 20 minutes early in hopes that we would get out quickly, and we weren't disappointed.  It was interesting, though, that every time the receptionist answered the phone while I was at the desk, she was impossible to understand.  A few minutes later, a stoic employee came out to usher us to the first room where they do all the vitals and record symptoms.  Within just a bit, a woman who had at least eight hoop earrings in each ear and a humongo tatoo on her neck came to do the nasal swab.  She made the mistake of doing Ryan's first, which gave Kait the opportunity to see what was about to hit her.  Of course, Kait started weeping (which instantly rubs that office the wrong way...every time), and Kait gave a yell when the swab hit her brain (she says it felt like that, anyway...lol).  By the time they moved us to the exam room, I could tell we were once again well-removed from the top ten favorite patient list.  

When the dr (whom we really do like) finally walked in the door, the kids were really feeling rotten and wanting to go home and crawl into their beds.  After a little small talk, she pulled out Ryan's chart and said, "No flu for him."  She did a bit of a double take at the chart and said, "HOW much does he weigh?"  I tentatively said, "One hundred ninety-eight pounds."  Then I held my breath...preparing myself for one of those 'healthy kids don't weigh nearly that much at 13' speeches.  Instead she said, "Sure doesn't look like it."  I said, "Stand up, Ryan," and I think she was a little surprised that after he unfolded himself she had to look up to him.  :-)  Kaitlynn's flu test was positive, so she figured Ryan's was a false negative, and prescribed us Tamiflu and a decongestant. 
Pretty soon, stoic woman came back through the door and in a tone of voice I cannot convey in print pointedly said to me, "Your other two children have not been here in over a year, so you have to get them here.  You may just want to stop at the desk on your way out and get an appointment for tomorrow."  Um, really?  Like it's such a crime that we haven't had to visit the germ factory for more than a year? And I have to get them there because I'm breaking the law if I don't?  Ok...so you can hear the first-born coming out in me, can't you?  :-) With my sweetest smile, I replied, "Well, I guess we'll see what happens."  That's a pretty diplomatic answer, right?  Hehe...

We made it out of there in pretty decent time, but that wasn't the end of the process...oh, no.  Why on earth do pharmacies have to be so frustrating?  I decided to go to the Wal Mart that was close to the dr but across town from our home because they had a drive thru, it was cold out, and I had sick kids with me.  I sent the four prescriptions through the tube, and waited.  And waited. When a face finally appeared on the screen, I asked for them to give me a total with my insurance coverage figured in.  The nice lady told me that it would be 30 minutes before they could give me a total and one hour before the meds would be ready.  I had a couple of errands to run anyway, so that wasn't a problem.  Thirty minutes later, I called them to get a total.  I don't know why I do that, other than the fact that I'm laying out cash and I don't like surprises.  One time when Ryan was little one of his meds was, if I remember right, over $100.  I will never forget the "sticker shock" when I arrived at the register, and I've had an aversion to surprises ever since.  :-)  Anyway, when I called for the total, they informed me of the prices but said that they were unable to fill Kaitlynn's Tamiflu until Friday because they were out of it.  I ran back there and asked them to send me the script through the tube so I could check around while they finished the others.  I headed down to Rite Aid, and the kind pharmacist there told me they were also out.  I called the Wal Mart across town, and they said they had five boxes left, so I went back to pick up the ones that were ready, and while I was at it, I asked if that Wal Mart could just transfer it over to the other Wal Mart to save me having to wait a long time.  The lady said, "No, you took it."  I said, "I have it right here.  I can send it back to you,"  to which she replied, "Since it's already out of our system, we can't transfer it."  Really.  Wal Mart to Wal Mart.  Wow.  Ok. 

By this time, in spite of the heat being on high and full blast, the kids were shivering and miserable so I took them home and let Greg deal with the last prescription.  I am thankful that there wasn't like a regional Tamiflu shortage, and tonight they are tucked into bed with their prescribed meds in their systems killing flu bugs.  The whole thing (minus Greg's prescription trip) took 3 hours.  And to think, they were demanding that I do it all over again tomorrow.  Whew.

I would say that in the last ten years I have become much more skeptical of the way some healthcare providers operate.  It's not that I've personally had a terrible experience, but in observing medical offices, hospitals, and their staff at many levels, I realize that they 'system' is very institutionalized.  It's just a job for a lot of providers.  They aren't really concerned about the patient.  Don't get me wrong, I know this isn't true of everyone.  Many people in my family work in healthcare and they genuinely work from the heart.  They are passionate and compassionate, and it's like they were born with a healing touch.  Even if they aren't able to work physical miracles for their patients, they minister to the hurting and do their best to preserve the highest quality of life possible.  Some that I see becoming interested in medical field scare me, quite frankly.  I wouldn't want to be at their mercy!  :-)  But beyond that, it seems like the reach of government into healthcare has made people feel as though they are no longer in charge of their decisions.  I will never forget sitting in an office pouring over Ohio's recommended immunization list deciding which ones I was going to have them administer to my baby.  I felt like a complete freak, and it was like pulling teeth to get them to answer my questions about the immunizations.  I'm sure they're much happier with the moms who walk in, uncover the kiddo's arms and legs, and let them inject away!  It's not that I'm against immunizations or anything like that.  They have certainly saved society from all kinds of diseases.  But when we're giving 7th grade boys and girls immunizations for HPV, something is wrong, people!  By the way, none of my kids will ever see the end of that needle.  I can't imagine injecting them with a little bit of an STD so that they can be promiscuous and be protected from some of the consequences.  Unfortunately, that is the mentality of this culture. When one of my friends took her 7th grade boy to be immunized, she questioned the HPV and found out what it was for.  She was almost in disbelief, and refused it.  She was able to share with the nurse that certain behaviors would not be a part of her son's teen years.  The nurse didn't give her too much grief about it, but it sure opened my friend's eyes to what can be pushed upon us!  With the widespread use of Medicaid as the financial bait, the government finds it easy to get families to abide by their recommendations, whether or not they are necessary, beneficial to the child, or even morally acceptable.  Between our means and the insurance that we purchase each month, we don't have to feel coerced into this mold, and I balk at the way the system works these days.  I long for an old-fashioned doctor with old-fashioned values and modern medical expertise.  I'm sure there's one out there...

I know I'm being a little more than chatty.  It's part of being housebound for three days.  :-)  Now it's time for me to make my rounds pushing fluids and making sure fevers aren't completely out of control before I tuck myself in for the night. 

Drink o.j., take your vitamins, and stay healthy!  We tried!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scattered Thoughts on a Tuesday...

Although the calendar for this week is full and running over, I'm afforded a little time out of the saddle because of a feverish, coughing child who wasn't quite up to being in school today.  Of course, I'm sad for her that she feels bad, and I'm doing everything I can to help her recover quickly, but I'm also going to make good on the change of routine and enjoy it a little bit! 

There is nothing like the smell of a fresh pot of coffee to set the tone for a quiet, inside kind of day. The crackle of my wooden wick candle (a Christmas gift that I haven't been able to sit and enjoy) provides some contrast to the fierce winter wind that is giving us chills near zero today.  Had we been living in either of our two previous homes, I would have built a roaring fire in the woodburning fireplace.  We've debated installing a gas or electric model here, but somehow the substitute doesn't even seem to compare.  So...I'll enjoy the small flame and the crackle of my candle.

It's hard to believe that yesterday brought us fifty degree temps and bright sunshine.  Even though I was indoors, the open windows brought me a taste of spring and helped me forge through several totes of unused clothes in preparation for resale or donation.  If I'm not mistaken, I'm completely finished with all of the totes that I had put in the basement when we moved here!  I would be totally pumped, except that I still have an enormous closet upstairs that is full, and then that garage...oh my,  that garage!  Anyway, we'll get there. 

Along the lines of decluttering, I have a little struggle when it comes to purging.  I see value in the things that we no longer want or need, and so I want to receive a bit of a return on it through garage sale or consignment.  Sometimes, though, I just need the immediate sense of progress by getting rid of the clutter.  Yesterday I had to ask myself what would make me feel more accomplished: getting 25 cents out of an item, or donating it and having it gone?  I ended up sorting a box for children's consignment, a bag for a Craiglist bulk listing, and a box for the thrift store with itemized contents so that I could get a receipt.  I have never taken a receipt for this type of donation, but being a church employee and paying my own S.S. taxes makes it more of an incentive for me to document everything - especially if this is going to be a big donation year (crossing my fingers!). 

On a more personal note, for the last several weeks my mind has been heavily weighted with a burden to see God do something amazing.  I'm craving a personal revival. I know that it all depends on me.  God is ready.  He's waiting on me to become desperate before Him.  Less of me, more of Him.  That is my prayer.  It is so easy to become worldly without even realizing it, and God has been showing me inconsistencies in my life that may be small, yet have an impact on my Christan witness.  It's so freeing to just let go of anything that distracts me from ultimate fellowship with Him!  If you find yourself consumed by something...anything...that would distract you from your responsibilities as a Christ follower, I encourage you to re-evaluate your priorities (what is getting the biggest piece of your time and energy?), and ask God to order them for you.  One of the benefits of spiritual maturity is a trust that God has our best interest at heart.  He sees the big picture.  He knows what part of us needs to outlive us.  And He will be faithful to take our small contribution and multiply it a thousand times over. 

"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver...and purge them as gold and silver,
that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in rightousness."
 
Malachi 3:3

Thanks for sharing in this conversation and reading through my ramblings.  I'll try to update the family blog today in between working on the school yearbook.  Oh, the benefits of the internet!  :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Healthier Me

For those of you over the age of 35 (cause that's where it seemed to go downhill...lol), maybe you can relate.  I'm reaching the place in life where things just aren't like they used to be.  No sirrreee.  The face that was once smooth is now showing some wrinkles.  The skin is blotchy.  The under-eye circles are darker, and the left eye doesn't even want to open all the way.  The knees are a bit achy, and the lower back is randomly requesting ibuprofen.  These days, the turtle would definitely win the race against my metabolism.  In case this is starting to sound like a testimony meeting at your church, I'll move on.

Many of the aforementioned issues are a result of improper nutrition and a lack of exercise. I've never been much of a morning breakfast eater (love breakfast foods, just not mornings...lol), and many days my 20 minute lunch break is either grossly interrupted or not even attempted.  For most of the first half of the school year I would drink a Starbucks bottled frappe throughout the morning, and then have a Coke or Dr. Pepper for lunch with whatever I had packed for the day.  Some days I would bring soup, but more often than not, I would just pack snack type foods that were quick and easy to eat.  Lunches can be frustrating for me because I'm not a fan of processed frozen foods, and sandwiches get old.  I know there are a lot of great solutions, so I won't even continue to list excuses.  I just know that I felt horrible about my daily food/drink choices, and when I would get home I would be so hungry (even after all that sugar) and I would be oh so tired (thanks to all that sugar!).  I was just dragging myself along, trying to keep up with the speed of life - with zero energy.

In January, I decided that enough was enough.  I've never been one to diet, but I wanted to change habits simply to feel better and develop some disciplines for myself.  I wanted to get proactive with being healthier.  Don't get me wrong.  My being 80-100 lbs. overweight is not simply the result of sitting around with a bag of Cheetos in one hand, a Pepsi in the other, playing video games.  No way...but it is a result of improper planning, lack of exercise, and the apparent inability to say to to the bad foods and yes to things that are good for me. 

Progress: Two and a half weeks ago, I began my workweek with a new strategy -
  • No soft drinks during the school day
  • Vanilla yogurt mid-morning when I feel the first hunger pang
  • Coffee during the morning (yes, I use creamer; no, it isn't low fat)
  • A bowl of Special K cereal at lunch (I have to eat it all within 10 minutes or it becomes inedible - great trick I play on myself)  ;-)
  • An extra vanilla yogurt and fresh fruit in my lunch bag just in case
  • Occasionally an ounce or so of almonds (my husband's lifesaver in his recent weight loss)
  • Maybe another cup of coffee in the afternoon, or a Crystal Light On-The-Go in one of my cool cups
It is rare that I eat the almonds and the second yogurt, and I make sure that I eat before I feel really hungry.  I am amazed at how filling this combination is to me!  Without much effort, I've been eating less in the evenings (after a regular, hearty dinner), and waking up looking forward to my morning yogurt.  :-) Keep in mind that it isn't a weight loss program, but simply a change in eating habits.  And a practice in discipline.  My goal is to strengthen the muscle of self-control.

This month I want to extend my focus to include exercise and more water intake.  The two will go hand in hand for me. I'm not naturally a water lover, but if I'm sweating, I want some water!

Do you have some nutrition tips for someone who spends lots of time away from home?  I'd love to hear your suggestions! 

p.s. I've pulled out the moisturizer to help with those wrinkles and blotches, but have stopped short of using a toothpick to prop that droopy left eye...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Faith Booster!

Just Sunday, I posted about an abortion clinic that opened in our town a couple of years ago.  Last evening we received word that the clinic has officially closed.  This was a surprise and a half!  God is working!  The crisis pregnancy center had been told that Capital Care would be open on January 28th and then closing.  They didn't spread the news because they weren't sure whether to believe it.  Their prayers were answered when the suite was emptied out yesterday!  Typing this totally gives me chills!  10 days ago, we were praying in front of that place, and today it is closed.  God be praised.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

40 Years. 55,000,000 Lives.

When I was a girl, our family attended meetings of Lima's chapter of the National Right to Life Association.  I vividly remember hearing stories, seeing pictures, and viewing footage that told the despicable horrors of an industry seemingly too evil to exist anywhere near American soil.  Was there really a woman who would walk into a clinic to have her baby prodded, pulled into pieces, sucked from her body, and disposed with the rest of the garbage?  My childish mind was overwhelmed by the despicable nature of abortion, and I always assumed that these things happened in far away places to evil people by doubly evil physicians.  I don't believe that I really thought abortion would be legal for more than a few years; I mean, once lots of people found out about this awful thing, surely Americans would do something about it, right?  Isn't everyone safe in America? 

As I grew up and entered high school, the passion for life that my parents had instilled in me continued to grow.  Abortion continued to be legal, and the pro-life movement hadn't made the kind of progress I had hoped to see.  Sometimes I would go to church and wonder how we could all just sit there and worship in peace and happiness when babies had no guarantees to even take their first breath, much less worship their Creator. 

I will never forget the day I found out that a guy, who was at one time a close friend of mine, had recently taken his girlfriend to have their baby aborted.  It seemed like such a cold-blooded decision.  I couldn't imagine that it was even true until one night I received a phone call from him.  He was straight to the point, and this was his message to me: "Stay out of our decision and keep your mouth shut."  I hadn't talked to him in awhile, but this tone seemed so foreign to his usually happy demeanor.  There was a hardness, and I knew that not only had a woman and a baby been affected, but a man's life was forever changed, as well.

High school turned to college.  I had spent a lot of time in the Mt. Auburn area of Cincinnati well before college days, and knew that a large, busy abortion clinic existed right there on Auburn Ave.  I passed it many times during my four-years in the area, and every single time my heart and my conscience would speak to me about the atrocities that took place inside that gated, cold, chamber of death.  Could it really be that a historic Bible College existed mere blocks from the awful place and yet the presence of God that so permeated the college campus and its students wasn't strong enough to reach over and protect the innocent?   In retrospect, I don't remember at any time during my college experience hearing about opportunities for students to share God's love in sidewalk counseling, through quiet prayer, or even silent witness there at Planned Parenthood - Mt. Auburn.  I participated in pretty major crusades against drugs in our community and adjacent neighborhoods, but I don't remember efforts being made by our students for the babies.  Maybe there were and I'm just not remembering.

Then life took me back to my home community to live with my husband, raise a family, and begin a career - all of this in my hometown, which was still free from the disgrace of an abortion clinic.  Two years later, we elected a pro-life President and with that election came a sense of hope that life would triumph soon. 

Eight years passed, legislation was written {and in some states became law}, and then Americans elected the most pro-abortion President our country has ever seen. For unbelievable evidence, visit www.jillstanek.com.   It is disturbing and chilling to see how far then-Senator Obama would go to make sure a baby didn't have a chance at life. 

In 2010, my conservative hometown quietly accepted its first abortion clinic.  In fact, it was open for some time before many of us knew it existed.  Capital Care of Lima does not perform surgical abortions, but they refer those patients to their offices in other Ohio locations.  Of course, they do offer non-surgical abortion options for women whose pregnancies are yet young enough.  As soon as I found out that Capital Care had opened its doors here, I looked up their website.  I guess I had to see for myself that they really were what I had heard they were.  Once again, I couldn't believe that we were sitting by and allowing this to creep into our community!

The lone silver lining in this dark cloud was that our crisis pregnancy center was able to open a satellite office right next door to the abortion clinic.  By next door, I mean the next suite.  They share a roof!  God worked in amazing ways to allow Heartbeat of Lima to acquire the means for renting the office space, and then He equipped them with the machines to do ultrasounds, as well as volunteer technicians to perform them and volunteer medical doctors to oversee the whole thing! 

I really feel that this battle for life will not be won politically.  However, we must still speak with our vote.  This battle likely will not be won with gruesome placards and horrific stories. Yet they still have their place.  It seems to me that in the fight against abortion - or for life - we will be victorious as we put ourselves out there to be a friend to the woman who is in trouble.  Heartbeat of Lima knows when that clinic is open, and they have sidewalk counselors ready to greet every single woman who walks toward that abortion clinic.  The sidewalk counselor is kind, concerned, trained, and offers a free ultrasound.  Every single week I get emails telling me, to the best of their knowledge, how many have continued on to their appointment next door, how many have come in for the free ultrasound, and how many have asked for help with an adoption plan.  How I rejoice when I receive those emails!  And you know what?  Some months, that abortion clinic is hardly even open!  Praise the Lord!

Statistics say that 1 of every 3 women has had at least one abortion.  In the last 40 years, 55,000,000 pre-born babies have been murdered.  Numerous reports of botched abortions have surfaced.  In many cases, the infant victims have been left to die in a soiled linen area of the hospital (again, see www.jillstanek.com).  In some of the states abortion is restricted, but in others it is practically on demand.  As Planned Parenthood bloats itself with US tax dollars (to an even greater extent as the Affordable Care Act takes effect), reaches its way even further into America's schools, and continues to forge tight relationships with organizations that have a huge impact on girls, we must continue to share the message of life

We are pretty good at having babies, but how good are we at sharing with women of all ages that life is a gift from God?  That a baby is a baby from the moment it is created?  How good are we at supporting those who are on the front lines of the choose life movement?  Do we find it easier to gather our kids around the dinner table, think happy thoughts, and ignore the whole mess?  Let me encourage you to be the person who is approachable.  People are carrying burdens.  Apparently one out of every three women has faced a pretty major crisis, and let me assure you...if they've already had an abortion, they are gonna need a shoulder.  A post-abortive mom said this to me just last week, "In the schools where I speak, I tell the girls that they may not regret their abortion the next day, or even the next week, but at some point they will regret it."  Hers was 35 years ago.  And tears were still streaming as she spoke of it.  She's still regretting.

There is so much to say on this topic.  There is an evil churning in America that we can't really see.  It is a connection that ties liberal feminists, blood -thirsty abortion doctors, wealthy political figures, and women who are at their weakest moments physically and emotionally.  This connection is reaching deeply into America's education system, from elementary schools to universities.  They have found that the best way to get to women is to become their friend before they hit the high school years.

I think that most of us want to be pro-active, but we don't always know where to start.  I think we need to understand that the little things matter.  If you are wanting to become active in the fight for life in your community, I encourage you to:
  • Become knowledgeable about the legal case Roe v. Wade.  Learn from trusted sources, not those who would try to gloss over the truth.
  • Read the book Won By Love, which is the story of Norma McCorvey (the Roe in Roe v. Wade).  For a quick overview, follow this link to her story.  Unbelievable.  This whole case was based on trickery.
  • Investigate clubs and social organizations before supporting them.  You know those famous, yummy boxes of cookies that are sold every spring?  I haven't bought one in years.  Do your homework.  Planned Parenthood gets its money from lots of places.
  • Teach your children - and every child you influence - about the value of life.
  • Seek our your local crisis pregnancy center and volunteer your help.
  • Every time you leave your home, pray that God will direct you to someone who needs you.  If you spend time at the library, the grocery store, the park, or the museum, you will likely pass many people who have been affected by abortion.  You may be the one who helps to show them the path to life. 
I'm hopeful that the next generation is going to be the "generation of life."