meet me at martha’s

While I may still post an occasional story or thought here, most of the time you’ll find me at A Martha Heart. Stop by and say hello ~ I’d love to know you visited!

6 week countdown

There are only 6 weeks left until my new venture will be launched and revealed! I’m going to give you a few more bits to savor for now ~ I can’t just flat out tell you what the new venture is because that would ruin the surprise (and because it’s still in the design phase)!

What I can tell  you is that this venture actually started about 3 years ago. My friend Holly started a cooking blog, What Would Martha Cook?, just about the same time that God was laying on my heart a new direction He wanted me to take. He reminded me of some promises I made when I was a young wife. At that time I begged Him to bring some mentors into  my life. I needed other women who had some experience and wisdom to share with me on what I was supposed to be doing in my new role as a wife. I had no idea how to do even the mere basics of what most stay-at-home wives do. Poor Roger really went through some interesting kitchen experiments (aka meals) during the first couple years of our marriage. When we got married, I had no idea how to cook or clean or manage a household. No one had ever taught me those things. And so, as I realized how deficient I was in the areas of taking care of a family and a home, I promised God that when I became an “older woman” I would strive to pass along the knowledge I learned from my mentors.

Three years ago God reminded me of that promise along with a few others I have made. He told me it was time to head that direction. Now, I can’t honestly say I was thrilled at 39 years of age that God was telling me I was entering “older woman” territory. And of course I complained to Him about it. Do you know what He did with all of my complaining? He taught me with it ~ that’s usually what He does. And trust me, there was no shortage of complaining at that point. But as the weeks went by, and I finally let go of my self-ish-ness (read: all about myself) and pride regarding my age, He began to reveal to me something that was bigger than anything I would have ever imagined when I made that original promise to pass along what I learned from my mentors.

When I saw Holly’s cooking site, I just knew I had to contact her about it. You see, God had been using Martha (sister to Mary and Lazarus, not that other Martha) as an example to me. She was organized, she was prepared, she felt overwhelmed at times, and yet she was the one who, after her brother died, went out to the road to meet Jesus. It is Martha who opened her home to Jesus and His disciples when they came through town. It is Martha who is recorded for all time as the one who said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (John 11:27) And wouldn’t you know, God found another way to emphasize the heart change Martha experienced after her previous encounter with Jesus in her home (see Luke 10:38-42). There was Holly’s cooking site ~ and Holly had used the Martha of the Bible as her example.

Over the past 3 years, Holly and I have been discussing and praying over this idea He planted in us. Some of it He gave to Holly, and some of it He gave to me. We’ve talked, emailed, and bounced ideas around and off of each other so many times now I’m not even sure which parts He gave to me and which He gave to Holly. It doesn’t really matter. After 3 years of waiting, praying, learning, growing, changing, and maturing, Holly and I are finally going to be able to put into action those ideas God gave us.

Six weeks from now ~ Wednesday, September 1, 2010 ~ our ideas will be put into action. The ideas God has given us that we have labored with, prayed over, and discussed ad nauseam will be available for the entire world to access. I’m a little nervous about it, but more than that I’m excited to finally be approaching our launch date. And I can’t wait to share it with you!

bloggy blahs and a new website

I’ve noticed quite a few bloggers have been feeling the bloggy blahs lately. It’s only natural I suppose, as kids take a break from school and the weather is warm. that we would desire to spend less time inside sitting in front of the computer. And let’s be honest ~ there are only so many times one can write posts for a blog without running into a brick wall of bloggy blahs.

I find myself with the bloggy blahs probably more often than the average blogger. It’s a known aspect of my personality ~ I tend to withdraw from social scenes occasionally to regroup on a personal level and take stock of the activities that I spend time on.  I guess it’s not so much that I have the bloggy blahs as it is I honestly have run out of things that I want to say (or write) publicly.

For the past couple of years my posts have been sporadic at best. That’s okay with me. That’s the real me ~ I have spurts of energy, and I have days (or even weeks) when reading a book, playing with my granddaughter, talking with my kids and hanging out with my husband is all I really care to do ~ or have the energy and ability to do. I’ve never felt I have an obligation to blog ~ I do it because I enjoy it. At times blogging can be very cathartic for me; at other times I just don’t feel a need or desire to publish my thoughts to be read for all eternity on the internet.

My friend Holly and I have been talking about publishing a website together for quite a while ~ 3 years or so. We recently took some pretty big steps in moving closer to making our plans a reality. We’re both very excited about this project, and we’re looking forward to being able to share all of the information. For now I can say that our site will be for Christian women who long to use their time wisely while blessing their families and growing in their relationship with Christ.

This new site will take a considerable amount of my time to maintain. For me that’s a major challenge, and I already know I will need a lot of grace, understanding and forgiveness from both the readers and the other writers. Time is often a commodity I possess but am unable to use due to physical limitations. I’m thankful to have friends and loved ones who faithfully pray for me; I am also blessed with a family that is exceedingly understanding, and a husband who is willing to step in and make up for my short comings in any way he can.

So, with the new site set to launch in the near future, what is to become of this blog? I honestly don’t know yet. There are a lot of factors to consider ~ I haven’t finished considering them all yet. I’m in the wait-and-see phase regarding this blog right now. One of the things God began teaching me a long time ago is to not get ahead of Him by making plans of my own and expecting things to work the way I expect them to work. God’s plans are always better than mine. I know from many personal experiences that it’s always best to seek God’s wisdom and direction.

I will be able to share more information about the new site (project) soon. Until then:

the gracious pantry

I have discovered a fantastic source for clean eating recipes and encouragement. The Gracious Pantry offers all kinds of recipes ~ from the 365 oatmeal recipe project (on going) to homemade clean ketchup and whole wheat pie crust. Author Tiffany McCauley has stocked The Gracious Pantry with plenty of articles and lots of encouragement to assist you on your journey through a clean eating lifestyle.

There are as many definitions of what “clean eating” is as there are people, but Tiffany handles that possible problem right away in “Getting Started on Your Clean Eating Plan.” Tiffany offers advice on defining what clean eating means to you specifically, then guides you through the process of stocking your clean eating pantry, making recipe substitutions, and some basic clean eating foods.

Clean eating foodies rejoice! The Gracious Pantry is a mecca of clean eating recipes. Tiffany is gracious, and so encouraging. She even offers advice on how to accomplish clean eating on a restrictive budget. If you’ve been looking for someone to travel with on the road of clean eating, you’ll be glad to know Tiffany is there to accompany you. I highly recommend The Gracious Pantry.

i love babies ‘r’ us

Any time I go to Babies ‘R’ Us, I manage to walk out feeling like I really got a great deal. Of course, mostly what I buy at Babies ‘R’ Us are baby clothes from the clearance rack that are discounted over and above the clearance price. And then I usually have a coupon for another % off of that.

Monday I made the trek over to the only Babies ‘R’ Us I know of in my area ~ which is 45 minutes away if there’s no traffic or construction on the road. No matter. I LIKE going to Babies ‘R’ Us. :D

Usually the clearance racks are well placed and easy to find. Not so on Monday. I actually had to hunt for them. I eventually found 2 clearance racks stuffed to overflowing. They were in the newborn infant layette section. Why they were hiding there I’ll never know ~ I don’t usually think to look for 18 to 24 month girls’ clothes in the boy’s section of newborn infant layette. No wonder the racks were overflowing.

I picked out 3 cute tops, 2 pair of leggings and a skort for Attison. I had a coupon for a free reusable bag, and 25% off the lowest prices of any clothes and/or shoes (sizes 0 to 48 months) that would fit into the bag. I love coupons ~ especially when they encourage me to buy from the clearance rack!

So, on Monday I walked out of Babies ‘R’ Us with 3 new outfits for Atti and a reusable bag ~ for $19.09. I was pleased.

I have another reusable bag + 25% off coupon that expires tomorrow ~ I will be making good use of it. There are new Babies ‘R’ Us coupons coming out on Friday, too!

some thoughts on fibromyalgia

aka The One Where I Ramble On and On…….

In February 2006, I woke up one morning and was barely able to get out of bed. I was experiencing some major back pain. For the next 3 months I saw my Primary Care Manager (PCM) at least twice a week and went to a plethora of specialists just trying to figure out why I was in so much pain. I took some crazy-strong medications ~ mainly morphine in pill form ~ and turned into a person who my family didn’t know, and quite frankly didn’t like. Trust me, I wasn’t having the time of my life, either.

My PCM was a great guy, and he really wanted to figure out what the deal was with my back. After referring me to all kinds of specialists, who did all kinds of horrible tests and minor procedures, he decided to send me to a pain management doctor. My PCM pretty much told me he was at a loss as to what else he could do, and if the pain management doc wasn’t able to help me, he really didn’t know what else could be done.

Thankfully the pain management doc had the answers and was exactly who I needed to see. It just so happened (and I say that tongue-in-cheek because I KNOW Who orchestrated the events) that my health insurance company sent me to a pain management doctor who is one of the leading experts in the country on fibromyalgia. He took me off those crazy-strong pain killers and gave me a much milder form of medication for pain management. Within a week my back was feeling better. Not great, not completely pain free, but definitely better.

For the past 4 years I have seen my pain management doc every four to six weeks. It can be frustrating at times to sit in his waiting room for up to two hours, but this particular doc is worth the long wait. He knows what he’s talking about. He’s on the cutting edge of fibro research, and knows all of the best ways to help his fibro patients live fuller, less pain-filled lives.

Don’t believe the commercials you see on TV for that drug that is marketing itself as a fibromyalgia drug. Fibro’s not just muscle aches.

Since my diagnosis of fibromyalgia in April 2006, I have only encountered one doctor who told me he didn’t believe fibromyalgia is a real illness. This particular doctor said fibro can’t be real because there are too many discrepancies and variations from one patient to another. That’s true ~ fibro can vary widely from person to person. But that doesn’t make the illness any less real. Especially for the people who suffer with it.

It amazes me still how different one fibro sufferer can be from another. There’s no magic pill (again, ignore those TV commercials you’ve seen), there’s no one right way to handle this illness, and what works on Monday may not work on Tuesday for the very same person.

I know several others who have fibromyalgia. One lady lives virtually pain free because she cut gluten out of her diet. Another has more good days than bad because she exercises, eats only organic foods, and gets 200% of the daily recommended amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. Another is able to somewhat curtail her pain by not eating foods with certain ingredients ~ corn, high-fructose corn syrup ~ and by taking holistic supplements.

I also know several others who have tried every suggestion under the sun ~ even going to the extreme of injecting themselves with hormones or other (legal) substances ~ and have seen no improvement at all. It can be very frustrating trying to find just the right combination of diet, exercise, and lifestyle that will reduce (or even take away) the pain of fibromyalgia.

I wrote earlier today that my brain just doesn’t seem to work as well or as quickly as it used to. There is an element of fibro fog involved, but sometimes I’m just plain ol’ scatterbrained. I lose words ~ usually nouns ~ and resort to using “stuff”, “junk”, “gobbeldygoop” and other non-descriptive words to fill in where a perfectly good noun should be.

I was a gymnast and a cheerleader for many years. So you’d think I’d be one of those people who enjoys exercising, right? Wrong. Way wrong. Exercising for me is like being put into a torture chamber. Even mild, steady stretching can wreak havoc throughout my body.

Being on the computer for extended amounts of time is also difficult. I get up and walk around quite often when I’m working on projects that require me to sit in front of my computer. Otherwise my back seizes up and I end up taking a couple of pain pills in conjunction with a couple of muscle relaxants just to be able to deal with the pain of moving. **

I know of a woman with fibro who seems to be an extremely energetic person. She has only had her diagnosis of fibro for about a year, so really she’s still learning how to deal with it in a way that works for her. The thing that continually amazes me is this woman’s online presence. She blogs frequently, and the sheer volume of her status updates on Facebook and Twitter astound me. She has even learned some internet lingo and ease in order to keep her tweets under the 140 word maximum. What has taken me 7 years to learn and figure out she has done in less than a year! And she’s not significantly younger than I am, so I can’t blame it on her being part of the computer generation, either (bummer).

Does this woman actually “suffer” from fibromyalgia? I can’t imagine why anyone would say they do if they don’t. Is her fibro any less severe or difficult than mine? Maybe, maybe not. Am I just a bigger whiner and complainer than she is? I seriously doubt it. And this is what most doctors find so disconcerting about chronic pain illnesses like fibromyalgia ~ the list of symptoms is long and wide, and their manifestations can vary greatly from person to person. Am I a bit jealous that this other lady seemingly has more energy than she knows what to do with? Perhaps. Just a tad. Not all that much. Really.

So, now that you’ve waded through this long, rambling post of my thoughts on fibromyalgia, here’s my point: don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a person’s “illness status” by their perceived energy level or how they look. I’ve been told before, many times, that I must be feeling okay because I don’t look sick. That’s right, I don’t look sick most of the time. That doesn’t mean I necessarily feel good. It simply means that I have learned how to cope, how to deal with the pain, and how to fake it through a situation or circumstance when I need to. The majority of chronic pain illness sufferers I know personally (in real life) are the same way.

** Pain pills and muscle relaxants do not effect me the same way they do an average person. I don’t get any kind of a high from them, they don’t mess up my head, and they don’t put me to sleep. The medications I take are used only on an as needed basis ~ and believe me when I tell you that if I have taken a pain pill or muscle relaxant it’s because I needed to relieve some pain or relax some muscle or muscle group. My pain management doc is very good at what he does; he’s the only doctor I see other than my PCM (not the same PCM I had in 2006, by the way, because (1) the AF moved him to another base and (2) Roger retired from the AF last June, and we now have civilian doctors). When I take a Vicodin or a Nucynta, they have the same effect on me as a regular Tylenol does on an average person. One time I asked my pain management doc if he ever worried about prescription pain medication misuse or addiction in his patients. He told me that people who have chronic pain illnesses, like fibromyalgia, rarely misuse pain medication. Most chronic pain illness sufferers just want enough relief from the pain to function in daily life on a relatively pain-reduced level.

thursday thoughts ~ totally random

I don’t know if it’s a symptom of my fibromyalgia or if I’m truly getting old, but my brain just really doesn’t work as well, or nearly as quickly, as it used to. And I find myself doing the things I used to roll my eyes at older people for doing. Like being the grandma who gives socks in an Easter basket. Yes, I did that. Sorry, Attison. Next time I’ll just put them in your sock drawer ~ I promise. No socks or underwear for Christmas, either. E.V.E.R. The sad thing is, these behaviors are manifesting themselves and I’m only in my early 40s! [My grandmother, who was a gentile southern lady, would roll over in her grave if she knew I just wrote that where other people might actually read it!]

I’ve got some really exciting stuff going on behind the scenes these days. Yes, I’m going to put that teaser out there and not explain any further. Okay, well, maybe just a little explanation, just to get you going. I’ve got some fantastic giveaways happening over the next few months. And hopefully sometime in the next few weeks I’ll have a really great, really big announcement about sharing products I love with you. AND, a project that has been on my heart for a couple of YEARS seems to finally be coming to fruition. I don’t know how much longer that will take, but I promise you it will be well worth the wait.

I’ve felt in a bit of a blogging slump lately. I think it has something to do with Facebook. I’ve caught myself spending hours each day on Facebook, which has really taken a bite out of my time (and attention, and ability) to focus on getting other things done. I’ve had to put into place a self-imposed limit on how much time I allow myself to spend on Facebook. Most of the time I keep Twitter completely closed. Boy is that a time-sucker for me. Thankfully the people I follow on Twitter aren’t the kind of people who think they have to update their status or send a tweet every time they take a drink of water or have to blow their nose. One or two tweets a day really is sufficient. Nonetheless, I stay off Twitter almost entirely.

Now, speaking of needing to focus on other things, I’m going to sign out of WordPress and go clean my kitchen. Yippee. Can’t you just feel the underwhelming sense of excitement in that statement? But, it’s gotta be done. And unfortunately cleaning the kitchen isn’t a skill I’ve been able to teach my black Lab to accomplish, so I’ll just have to go do it myself.

good sites

I discovered a few really good websites over the past week or so. You may have already heard of or even visited these sites, but I wanted to share them anyway in case there are some who haven’t seen them yet. Here’s the list ~ they’re all live links, just click on the website’s name and the site should open in another window or tab:

I have a lot more links to share, but I’m going to try to list them in groups ~ so more link lists are forthcoming. Enjoy these for now.

If you have any good links you would like to share that are relevant to topics I like to write about here on my blog ~ organic food/living, kid-friendly things (foods, coloring pages, games, websites, clothes, etc.), mommy interests, Christian interests, couponing/simple/frugal living, homeschooling, etc., please send them to me. I’ll choose some good ones and add them to my future posts.

spinning

From 2010-03-30

One of Atti’s favorite games with Uncle Sawyer. (Click on the photo ~ you will be taken to the Picasa site to view it.)

but there aren’t any moose in arkansas

Tonight I was talking on the phone with my mom-in-law (who I affectionately call my mom-in-love), when Jake (our dog) started nosing me ~ his signal that he would like to go outside. Since I was talking on the cordless phone, it wasn’t a problem. I opened the back door, and Jake took off like a shot, practically taking the door of the screened-in porch off its hinges.

“Wow,” I thought. “He must really need to go out!”

I stepped out onto the back deck because, you know, my dog can’t go outside without one of his people with him. Seriously. He’s a big lumbering oaf of a black Lab, and he’s too chicken to go potty by himself.

Jake has this annoying habit of getting to the backyard and deciding that perhaps he’d rather just sniff around and see who has been visiting his territory rather than actually completing the business he went outside to do in the first place. Since we don’t have a fenced-in yard, we live in more of a country setting than a subdivision, we have a field that backs up to the back edge of our property and forest-like copses of trees on either side of our property, said “property” is 3 acres, and there’s an abundance of wildlife as well as residential domesticated animals that are allowed to run around and leave presents in our yard, there are always lots of new smells for Jake to investigate. In fact, when we walk out to get the mail (at least an acre and a half hike from the front door) we always ask Jake if he wants to go check his pee-mail. Get it? His pee-mail? Ha ha.

Anyway, there I was on the phone with my MIL, discussing a rather sad and serious situation (and in that I am being serious, not sarcastic) while Jake was running around ALL OVER the backyard just sniffing away. Then he stopped dead in his tracks and did something I’ve only heard him do a couple of times. He started barking what we call his moose bark.

The very first time he let out this particular bark we were still living in Alaska, it was dark outside, and there was a moose just outside our front window happily munching on a bush. Jake let out a bark that just about scared the pants off of my entire family. Of course, since it was dark outside, we couldn’t see the moose through the front window. And being the geniuses that we are, we opened up the front door to step out and investigate what had our dog so riled up. Brilliant. Thankfully, the moose was so absorbed in her destruction of our bush that she didn’t seem to notice the four human beings who practically walked right into her.

ANYWAY,  I was still on the phone, standing on the back deck, when the dog started going haywire. I was trying not to yell in my MIL’s ear while yelling at the dog to be quiet. Then I started to wonder what he was barking at/about. Because it’s his moose bark, which he only does when there are other animals around that he’s afraid of. He doesn’t do that bark when there’s a dog in our yard, but he will when he smells the coyotes who live in the forest beside our house. In the rational part of my brain, I know coyotes are extremely skittish and will run away at the slightest noise. But the not-so-rational part of my brain starts screaming, “Oh no! There’s a coyote in our yard, and he didn’t run away! What if he attacks Jake? Forget that ~ what if he’s rabid and he decides he’d rather bite ME???!”

At that moment, Jake stopped barking and took off around the side of the house. Now, it was dark outside, and even though there are motion sensor activated spotlights on the side of the house, I wasn’t about to step off my deck and go chasing after the stupid dog when there was the chance that a rabid coyote was on the loose!

I moved the phone away from my mouth and started yelling for Jake to come back. Then he started barking again, and I could tell he wasn’t too far away. A very firm, “Jake! Come!” in my deepest commanding voice should have been enough to get his attention and get him to leave off his barking and come back to me. Now remember, I was still on the phone (why I didn’t ask my MIL to hold on for a sec while I recovered my dog I don’t know) ~ at this point I had the phone upside down against my ear, with the microphone as far away from my mouth as I could get it. Because I was yelling. At my dog. While he barked that bark that sends shivers up and down my spine.

From the side of the house I heard a thump and a rustle. Something ~ definitely not my dog because his bark was fading as he ran in the opposite direction, away from me ~ was moving toward me. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a human, because Jake (being the a-mazing guard dog that he is) would have stopped barking and started licking the human, known or unknown.

I stopped yelling for the dog since he obviously wasn’t going to listen. For about two and a half heartbeats there was only silence.

Then IT came around the corner. ( “IT” being the animal that had my 85 pound black Lab doing his bark that signals he’s afraid.) The big, scary ……………. possum.

Possum?!

Yes, possum.

I busted out laughing as the big scary possum scurried underneath the deck to get away from the dog that was so afraid of him. Obviously the dog wasn’t afraid enough because the possum hadn’t rolled over and played dead. He’d run away from the dog ~ which means Mr. Opossum had absolutely no respect for my dog or his detection abilities.

Of course, the dog was STILL running in the opposite direction, away from the possum and me, woofing his fool head off.   Laughing hysterically, I realized I was just frightened by a possum. At that moment my poor mom-in-love probably thought I had lost my mind.

Jake finally did come back. He came dashing around the corner, acting as though he were hot on the trail of that big scary possum. I think by that time the possum had waddled his way from under my deck out to the field or into the trees.

He was probably laughing, too.

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