Friday, September 16, 2016

A (word) picture to describe my chronic illness

Living with a chronic, invisible illness is awful. This is compounded by the fact that I usually don't look sick. The following paragraphs are from my "book" about living with chronic illness. (It's more of a memoir, really). I wanted to share this picture of disability. This is addressed mostly to people who don't live with a person like me, and they don't really know what it means to have a chronic illness. This is written in past tense, as though I no longer deal with this struggle. But, my autoimmune issues flare up often and I have bad days. I still struggle.

           I want to paint a picture for you to understand what it is like to live with chronic illness. I will use my husband as an example.
            My husband, Paul, worked for UPS for several years. For quite a while, he was in the position of pre-loader. He put the packages into the trucks. Sometimes he had to load as many as four trucks at one time. The work was fast-paced as well as physically and mentally challenging. It was like a big puzzle that had to be put together every night. When all the boxes were properly loaded he was tired, but felt satisfied in a job well done.
          Then, a horrible thing happened. Paul's discs in his back became herniated. He could no longer do his job with the same vigor. And, there was a period of time that he had to take three months off while his back healed. During that time, Paul struggled with feelings of uselessness. He wanted to be able to get out and work.
           This kind of situation is hard for a man to deal with. Men were made to work. But, it could have been worse . . .
           What if instead of just being stuck in his bed every day (which was hard enough for a hard-working man like Paul) he had to lay on a couch at the delivery center and see boxes and boxes piling up outside of his package cars? What if he had to watch while someone else tried to do his job, but they were just not doing it as well as he could have? Worse yet, what if he had to watch a driver pull away from the bay with the work left undone and boxes strewn all over the floor?
          That was my life (in 2014, when I was at my worst). I knew my job description. Mother: makes meals, tickles children, plays catch, washes laundry, does the dishes, makes child do homework (or in my case teaches school), kisses boo boos, keeps the house looking nice. But, I was unable to fulfill my role as mother. Sadly, I had to watch as jobs went undone, finished half-way, or completed once again by my eldest daughter. I had to live in my mess . . . forever seeing that I couldn't do anything to help. I felt useless. I felt like a failure. There was no where to turn my eyes to avoid seeing reminders of my sickness.
          That's one picture of disability.
          Add to that first picture now (Paul, on the imaginary couch at work, watching the work get done by someone else to a lesser standard than he could have done it) – What if he had gotten up and forced himself to work? What if he had a day where he had less pain and decided, “I would like to work today”? How would he have felt the next day? What would have been the long-term repercussions? One good day of work would be followed by many days in worse pain. This is the reality of what many chronically ill people suffer with day to day. The physical pain is one thing. The mental anguish is another.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Day Spent Enjoying Ourselves - Photos

Our two real cameras were in use. So I was happy to have my phone camera. Click any photo to enlarge. (Photos by Bethany)

At Stephen's Lake Park in Columbia, MO. This park is one of my favorite places in Columbia! On this day we spent a lot of time exploring and photographing nature.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pecans - Photos by Bethany

I took these photos last year. At least, I think I am the one that took all of these. My apologies if I have unintentionally stolen Nelson's work. That's the trouble with your son having the best camera in the house. (Click any photo to bring up the enlargements page)

Our children - Fall 2015

This year we don't have too many pecans. In fact, I'm not sure we will even get one bucket. Between storms and Japanese beetles our pecan tree was stripped.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Photographs by Nelson

We were all feeling creative the other day, so I encouraged Rebecca and Nelson to get their cameras out. This post is only Nelson's work. I will post Rebecca's photos later. Please let Nelson know which picture is your favorite.

(CLICK any photo to bring up the enlargements page)

Nelson's photos:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book Review - Wingfeather Saga

photo credit:
 (I do NOT have affiliate links. I just include links to make your life a little easier.)

The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson is an incredibly entertaining and encouraging series! I read the books first to see what they were about. And, then I re-read the series aloud to the children over the past few months. (This series is a great way to rack up homeschooling hours!) I loved hearing the book through their ears, while they folded laundry or colored quietly. (Yes, friends, that is one of my motherhood secrets right there. Bribe the kids to fold laundry by reading aloud. Just kidding. I love read alouds for their own sake! The laundry is a bonus.)

Short summary- Book One, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, begins the epic adventure of the Igiby Family. They are pursued by evil while making unlikely allies around every corner. The fictional creatures they come against in their journey add yet another spark of interest to an already difficult escape.

The characters of the Wingfeather Series are fictional, yet very real. The plot is exciting and drives forward with momentum. The fantasy locations of the book are ingenious and the fantasy creatures and foods range from laugh out loud funny to turn your stomach queasy (or both at the same time). Every detail of this series is well thought out and well written. I have no qualms comparing this series as a modern day epic adventure like the Hobbits went on, or like Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy experienced in Narnia. Yes, I think this series is that good!

I don't know how Peterson would sum up the theme of the book, but I think the undercurrent of the book is individual struggling with the darkness inside of yourself and how it affects the people around you. There is also a strong element of how facing your own demons can change the world (for better or for worse). It is hard to explain this without completely spoiling the book for you. I wish I could give specific examples, this series is ideal for essays on character, plot, theme, etc! (oooh, more homeschool credits!)

The characters were children and adults that my family could easily identify with! One child seems a bit selfish and impulsive, another child is sweet and tender yet brave, another child is studious and decisive. Other characters have hidden or dark pasts that they are trying to overcome. The children work together to fight against evil. The children have certain talents that allegorically represent spiritual gifts. The whole book has a strong allegorical leaning. The tale will lead to thoughtful discussions around the dinner table.

The Wingfeather Saga is a must read for Christian families! It will be a blessing to every age group! I highly recommend adding this to your family library!