Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Visit with the Doctor Went

The visit with the doctor today went well. We felt listened to and our concerns were addressed. Clint has been tested for quite a few things. Results should be in soon. He was given a prescription to help him with the swelling and pain for the next thirty days while we wait for a diagnosis and treatment plan. We thank you for the prayers you lift on our behalf.

Update 2/25: Clint's pain has diminished a lot with the medication, but the pain in his feet is still there with swelling. He still has the fatigue.

Update 3/8: The prescribed medication stopped working as well as it had initially. Clint had more pain and swelling return early last week. While he was told he could increase dosage, he decided to try a remedy he read about online that would address all of the theories....garlic. Yep, garlic! And, it worked to help him with the pain and swelling! Noticeably! In fact, he has steadily improved since the weekend. He says 90-95% of the joint pain has left as of this morning. The other symptoms he was having have disappeared or have also diminished. He is taking a big spoonful of raw, minced garlic morning, noon, and night. We have our theories of what has happened, but that's all they are...theories. Clint goes to the doctor Friday and will go over what has happened since he last was seen. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Prayers Appreciated

Tomorrow is the appointment with the rheumatologists. We are hoping he can shed some light on what is going on with Clint. Reading the stories of others online is not very encouraging. It seems a lot of the things we are looking at take a great deal of time and tests to diagnose accurately. Wrong diagnoses in the early stages are very common. Prayers for answers are appreciated. 

Clint had a very bad day last Friday. I asked Clint last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and early Saturday to go to the ER to be examined. Late Saturday through yesterday were better probably because of the rest and care at home. Today, he is heading back downhill. He is at work, but his right knee is very painful. This is his call in week which means he has to be available 24/7 to handle calls. He has taken 800 mg ibuprofen almost every day and many times twice a day. I have moved his parking place next to our deck to make it easier on him. The children and I are doing all we can to make this easier on him. 

I have been staying up late researching and looking for ways to minimize his pain. The children and I are almost finished with the dining room rennovation, or the parts of it that we can do. Brandon has come over and wired up lights. Saturday, Clint wanted to move around and was able to get three small pieces of molding up before pain and exhaustion knocked him back down. I am hoping to have the dining room put back together to minimize the stress on all of us by Thursday. Clint will be able to rest better without tarps, sheetrock pieces, paint trays, etc all around. 

My heart hurts so seeing him hurting like this. I pray with all my heart this is something curable like a virus in his joints. My mind races to the many what ifs wondering what will happen to husband and my family. I constantly remind myself to "...not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 I have placed Clint, myself, and our family in God's Hands. Please intercede for us.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Good Stewardship: Eliminate Waste

Frugal homemake tip: One of the biggest ways to save money in a household is to eliminate waste. 

One of the biggest things in the household that goes to waste is food. I buy most of our vegetables in bulk. If I see I am not going to use all 50 lbs of the potatoes before they spoil, I preserve them to keep from losing the investment of money I have in them. Eliminate waste with long term storage techniques like canning and dehydrating and watch your pantry fill. Use what you have to get every bit of flavor out of it. 

I even work to eliminate waste in the canner. If I have extra room for jars, I can carrots, beans, or something in that spot. In other words, I do my best to make sure the canner is running with a full load.

Clothes that are beyond passing down or giving away, I cut up and use as cleaning rags. 

Old containers become storage containers in Clint's tool shed. 

Our arts and crafts materials are the same as public schools ask people to donate: toilet paper tubes, milk jugs, juice cartons, metal caps from glass juice jars, etc.

If you can reuse what you have already invested your money into instead of buying new, you are ahead of the crowd who takes every opportunity to spend, spend, spend.

As a young wife, I received a lot of valuable tips on how to run a home with good stewardship from learning about how people lived during The Great Depression. I also read a lot of titles on personal finance like Rich Dad Poor DadThe Tightwad Gazette, and The Cheapskate Monthly. I also listened carefully to how stay at home mothers of many children did things so I could take what would work in my situation and apply it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Our Focus in Life's Upheavals

God gives all of His children challenges. Those challenges can look different, but they are all geared to grow us more into His image and to give us a testimony for Him. We might not want the assignment and may even feel like running away from it. God often provides them in such a way that there is no escape. We have to go straight forward through the hills and valleys. Growing closer or further from Him is our choice, but the challenge isn't.

Right now, something awful is happening with the other, more beautiful, half of me. Clint is experiencing some of the weirdest set of symptoms I've ever seen. Every part of his body has been affected. My once healthy and active husband is so riddled with pain in so many places that it is all he can do to get through his workday. My heart is in anguish at his suffering. He is sleeping so much, that I miss his companionship. With tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart, I admit I am afraid I'll lose him sooner than either of us ever imagined. 

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Whatever this is has hit him fast and hard. We have a few theories about what is going on with his body. However, there is no need to explore them publicly because that is all they are, just theories. The testing he receives next week will, hopefully, give us some insight around the first of March into what is going on and how we can best help him. I will say that nearly everything we are looking at is very serious and presents a life long challenge. While I pray whatever is curable or at the least very treatable, I do not think life as we knew it will return.

We've already seen some big changes, but I sense more drastic ones are to come. Whether those changes are in the next days, weeks, months, or in a few years from now, I don't know. I don't know if these changes will come all at once or be gradual. In the midst of so much uncertainty, and there is a lot swirling around in my head, I do know that God has a plan for us. He will not abandon us. I also know God will give us the strength to push past the fear, uncertainties, and frustrations to enable us to keep our focus on Him and not the challenge. 

This life is just a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming. Whatever challenges you are facing, I encourage you to put God front and center. Let the situation that threatens to consume you shrink in your view as you focus on the Father. Seeking a remedy or resolution is worthwhile, but let growing closer to the One Who is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present be your ultimate goal.

"When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken Or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, And his descendants are a blessing.…" Psalms 37:24-26

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Way I Cut Food Costs

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a tiny sampling from our pantry

"Wendy, what in the world are you canning in the winter?" 

Even when life happens, people still need to eat. A lot of women, including myself, prepare "freezer meals." These made ahead meals are ready to cook or reheat so they can feed their families during busy days or illness. 

I love having meals ready to go in the freezer, but I like having them on the shelf in pressure canned jars even more. Pressure canned foods are good for a longer period of time and do not need electricity to keep them. The quart jars only need to be heated while the frozen foods need to be thawed and cooked. The time from when I pull a meal from storage to when I set it on the table is considerably less. 

I bought the canning jars to preserve food to save our family money on groceries. If the jars are sitting empty on the shelf, they are not working. As the jars empty in the spring and summer, they get refilled with produce from our garden. This keeps them in constant use which means I am continually benefiting from the investment I made in them.

I can chilis, soups, roast beef, many types of beans, vegetables, meat, and gourmet quality bone broth (stock). Pressure canning the dried beans saves me a tremendous amount of time and a good bit of money. I just pulled our farm produced pork and poultry from the freezer and canned it so I can make room for a side of beef we hope to purchase in an effort to further cut our grocery bill.

I can in both quart and pint sized jars. The pint sized jars are great for individual servings and are much better for my family than store bought canned foods. My husband and children take this size for lunches at work. It is very rewarding to see them carrying a box of my canned meals to their car for work.

People say canning takes a long time but most of that time is waiting. I 
easily fit in many other things while I am pressure canning. I enjoy it because I challenge myself to get the chores done before the canner is finished. A canning day tends to be a very productive time for me! Then there is more time saved than spent when I simply pull the meals from the shelves. 

When a friend or family member is sick or going through difficulty, pulling jars from my storage is a great way to minister to them through a hot meal. The meal can be left in the jars for use when needed. This has always been well received.

Preparing meals ahead of time saves our family a lot of expense. Calling a pizza place for our family is a $80-130 without tip, and it is a meal I consider as "subtracting from our health." I have good, healthy meals without artificial colors, preservatives, or high sodium ready to go. Trying to avoid waste and making good use of what God has provided takes time and effort, but it has multiplied our foods stores and help to make having seven children very affordable. A little at a time adds up to a lot in the long run.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dining Room

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I wanted something that looked trendy and would work with our brown couches. I spent a lot of time looking at interior decorator sites for ideas. I found a few magazines/sites featuring blue walls, brown couches, and the same burgundy I have for my valances. I chose blue because it is soothing, calming, and welcoming. In a busy household, those things are important. For years, we made do with the painted paneling and ceiling tiles, so we are both thankful they are gone. It's such a great time in our family to be doing this! Our children are learning new skills and making memories right beside us. They are old enough now that the worst of the wear and tear years are behind us. We are having fun tucking time capsules in the walls too.

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Now to the dining room...

Article: The Verse You Need Taped to Your Refrigerator

Mothering young children full time is not easy. Add homeschooling and all of the many other hats a woman can wear, and it can be an overwhelming job that takes us to our limits. Be the wise woman and build your house. Don't tear it down with bad attitudes and angry words. Self-discipline your thoughts, and your words and attitudes will follow. Remember we are in a battle, and fight as Jesus did with the Word of God.

And then his voice got stronger. "Yeah, but you remember the first part? 'The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.' See, that's what the Enemy does. He's going to try to get you fighting with each other, to destroy your joy in this stage, to steal all the life out of it. Man, you don't want any of that. Just tell him no.' " read more here: The Verse That You Need Taped To Your Refrigerator 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Around Here February 2016

I thought I'd give an update while I took a minute to sit down. I realize I have not done one in a long time. We made added a lot and made many improvements on our farm in 2015. 

We have mostly finished our den. It took longer than we wanted because all of us caught a respiratory virus. Most of us are well and rolling along on the renovations. We finished enough of the den in time to put the furniture back so we could sit down and watch the Super Bowl. 

Today, we tore the dining room down to the wall framing, added 6,400 square feet to our pig pasture, made 20 quarts of soup, canned turkey in bone broth, canned gourmet stock, and canned some of our homemade dog food. 

I wrote "Most of us are well.." because Clint has had some mysterious symptoms that could be pointing to an autoimmune disorder. However, the thought right now is that the respiratory virus settled into his ankle joints and caused chills, swelling, tenderness, feverish joints, and severe pain. We were not aware that dozens of viruses can enter into the joints. Because Clint became dehydrated during a hard day at work, it is likely that the virus was forced into his joints.We are in the "wait and see" stage while he is on a course of low dose Prednisone. If the pain and swelling return, he will see a rheumatologists to proceed with a lot of testing.

I am staying very busy pressure canning food from our freezer so we can make room for a side of beef we hope to purchase soon to cut grocery costs. I have canned over 100 quarts in recent weeks. It is a blessing to have soups, roasts, meat, and vegetables cooked and waiting to be reheated and served. Clint has found me some storage space for over 100 jars in two interior walls to help accommodate the extra food. God blessed us with a great year in producing food on the farm last year. I am feeling great and getting so much accomplished.

Brandon is loving his new home. He has plans for a trip to Europe to visit a friend and do some sightseeing. He has a Christian homeschooling family of seven for neighbors. He has received another raise at work. I still get to feed him both meals at home and pressured canned foods. If I see he is low on something, I take it to his house since I can buy it cheaper in bulk. I do miss his hug and kiss every night when we call the children before bed time. 

Amanda is charging right through her college course. She is making money through her own little side business. She has taken over many of the weekly errands which is such a big blessing to our family. She has become a big advocate for me getting my rest and is coaching her sisters on modest dressing. Amanda has halfway completed her miniature house which I am enjoying. It was something I wanted to do at her age so it is giving us both a lot of enjoyment. 

Joshua has his first official job "where they take taxes out of (his) check and everything!" He was given one by Brandon's  neighbor. Our purchased state approved homeschooled driving course is rigorous and takes a long time to complete. Clint and I like that because it slows the process down a bit. Joshua has just finished his classroom portion. Clint has printed the certificate out and has sent it to the state to request permission to start the behind the wheel portion. After 45 hours of total driving time and another certificate submission, Joshua can take his road test at DMV.

Caleb has taken to computer technology just as easily as he did woodworking. He is often waiting on Brandon to get here daily so he can ask him a question or show him something he figured out. It is exciting to watch this dynamic between brothers.

Bethany has become my kitchen superhero. She has become a great baker! She has obtained new skills and has refined others. I am helping her collect swans for her bedroom which is fun for both of us. Bethany loves doing the errands with Amanda. 

Emily has really stepped up in helping around the house. She does a good job and doesn't have to be reminded as much to stay on task or to do a thorough job. She is doing well in school and has become such a sweet spirited young lady.

Hannah has developed a fun loving personality. She is forming opinions about the world around her and it is interesting to see what her thoughts about things are. It is such a great time to explore things deeper and learn why things are the way they are. She has been running ideas by me on things she would like to do. We talk about pros and cons of her tentative plans. She is learning what won't work, and I am learning who my little Hannah is on the inside while helping her develop critical thinking skills. I love this homeschooling lifestyle and how it gives my children so much more of me and how it gives me so much more of them.

We are working "full steam ahead" until our upcoming spring vacation. Then, we will kick back and relax in beautiful Corova, VA enjoying the ocean and wild horses. If you are reading this, I prayed for you today. May God bless you!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Used Up and Exhausted

"Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted--not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude because they feel such service is beneath their dignity. Are you willing to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others?" --Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.