Saturday, February 07, 2015

Firsts




Oh my.  It has been a while.  Almost three months since I have gone for a walk outside.  But yesterday, Pat and I followed the not-very-recently groomed ski trail that goes through the golf course and beyond.  This morning I ventured out by myself.  Yes, I wore my yak traks and I wore my arm brace.

I walked on top of hills and through deep ravines.   It was gorgeous and invigorating and fun and wonderful.  Loved every minute.  45 minutes of brisk walking in the woods.

We are so incredibly blessed.  As if our 1.5 acres isn't enough, and it is, it really is; we have possibly hundreds of acres right out our door to explore.

And explore I will! Someone else has too.  Can you see the paw prints above?

Two other firsts, at least since my 'elbow incident'.  

1. I was able to use the drive through at the bank!  I could extend my arm far enough to place and retrieve the deposit and receipt.  Oh, the things we take for granted until we cannot do them!

2.  I received my first check and sweet note for my surgery expenses.  A family from South Carolina.  The note made me tear up.  Someone across the country is sharing in my expenses and praying for me.  Amazing.

This is the first check of 37.  It is going to be fun to go to the post office to get our mail!

And fun walking outside again.  

Friday, February 06, 2015

car talk

I have been asked a few times recently how the resident fisherman and I manage to get along with just one car between the two of us.

Just fine.

  • In the fall of 2008, we sold our second car.  Pat worked from home, we lived just a short walk from my parents and I did not work outside the home.  Piano students came to me, I walked down to the folks whenever they needed me.  There was just one night a week when I HAD to have the car. Pat stayed home that particular night.

Pat scheduled his fishing expeditions around my calendar.  Because neither of us had to report to work anywhere at any specific time, it was actually quite easy to 'make do' with one car.

The advantages:
  • saves money, cars are expensive
  • saves insurance money, one car is cheaper to insure than two
  • saves money on repairs
  • saves money on gas
  • builds communication, we needed to be sure to let the other know when we needed to be somewhere
  • builds cooperation, we needed to prioritize our meetings and appointments so that the most important/urgent need would be met
  • we keep our volunteer work to a manageable amount, since we are not free to run to any and all meetings/events
The disadvantages
  • sometimes one of us has to miss out on something
  • it can be inconvenient, you can't always do what you want to do when you want to do it
  • sometimes you have to impose on folks, for example if Pat is out with the car and someone wants to meet with me, they just have to come to our house (hopefully not a terrible imposition)
  • I can't run off to see the grands whenever  I want
  • we can't do as much volunteer work as we might because we can't just run off to any meeting/event we please
So for almost 7 years we have made this work. It is not such a great accomplishment.  Communication, cooperation, deferring - these are wonderful skills to build into a marriage.  I love being at home too.  Plenty to do here.  I can stay home for several days in a row and never be bored.  Or finished with all my projects.

Just a generation or two ago, having one car would not have been a big deal at all.  My mother-in-law, who died in 2004, never learned to drive.  Only one car there.
I never saw my paternal grandmother drive, they only had one car (and a tractor! - give me a tractor anyday!).

Having the choice and means to have two cars is a modern luxury.  But not a necessity.  Even working families can make this choice if necessary by locating near jobs.

Getting along with one car is not a hardship. In many ways it is a blessing, freeing up funds for other things besides those which eventually rust away (Matthew 6:20).

Getting along with one car?  Yep.  For now..

Herbert Hoover's campaign slogan (above) indicates that having one car in the garage would be a great luxury.  A grand promise.  

When did it become a sign of scarcity?

Monday, February 02, 2015

Misfits

A friend of mine, who attends a different church than I do, referred to the kids in their youth group as 'misfits'.

This label bothered me and I pondered its meaning throughout the day, especially because two of our sons are youth pastors.

I thought back, w-a-y back to my youth group days.  Was I a misfit?  

Oh, honey.  YES.

I made a lot of my own clothes.  I was in band.  I carried my Bible around with me.  I taught Bible study to a handful of friends, once a week in a stairwell at our school of 3500. Didn't hang out with the popular kids, didn't get invited to parties.

I was a misfit with a capital mis.

Am I ashamed of that?  

No.

Not fitting in builds character.  I cared less about what the other kids thought and more about what GOD thought.

You see, this world is not my home:

Hebrews 13:14For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

And we are told in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And finally:
I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

We are GOD's people, friends.  Conforming to His will automatically makes us misfits in a world that disregards and even mocks His word.

I'm praying for those misfit students to have strength to stand alone when necessary.

They won't have to do it alone in reality.  God gives us the strength we need.  And they won't have to do it for  long, either. 

This world is not our home, we're just passing through.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Something old, something new, something blue

                         

I just spent the last hour and a half darning two pairs of the resident fisherman's  wool socks.  If a new pair of socks costs $15, then I just saved us $30 resulting in an hourly wage of $22.50.

This is just one of the many frugal things I do to help us maintain our lavish lifestyle.  Another item on my agenda today is to hang laundry in the basement.  If you are a guest in our home and catch a quick glimpse of our unmentionables on the drying rack tucked next to the furnace?  Please do us the courtesy of averting your eyes.

As I wove the back and forth under and over strands of yarn it occurred to me that I had not put up a blog post for a week or so. It also occurred to me that many bloggers post pictures of their decor.  Now lest any of you be confused, this is not a decorating blog.  Not that anyone could possibly gather that from anything I've posted in the last several years.

Anyway, the view from the couch is the above cabinet.  A beautiful oak cabinet.  It languished in its unfinished state in my in-law's basement for decades.  After my mother-in-law passed away in 2004, it became ours.  We refinished it and have put it in prominent places in our homes because it is gorgeous.

The crock on the floor to the right is an old pickle crock that was my grandmother's.   Love.




                         

In the cabinet:
 Top shelf: handle-less cups and saucers we found in an old trunk of my mother-in-law's. We had no idea she had them, but she had a note nestled in one of the cups that they were from the 1880's.

Second shelf:  narrow-necked pitcher on left and tea pot on right were Pat's before we were married.  The heart-shaped dish in the middle is a piece of Polish pottery.  Jon and Kristi were in Poland a few years ago and brought that back for me.

Third shelf:  4 missionary biographies (remaining two of that set are on the bottom shelf on right).  This was a gift from my in-law's 15 or so years ago.  The clear jar is filled with sea shells picked from a Florida beach by Pat's grandmother in the 50's.  The teapot is from Holland, brought back for me by my folks in the '90's.

Fourth shelf:  a tea kettle that belonged to my mom.  Origin unknown.  The pottery bowl is handmade by my talented brother-in-law.  The books were gifts from Pat's great-grandfather to his great-grandmother in the early 1900's.

Fifth shelf:  books about American statesman that belonged to my in-law's.  Published in 1899.
Platter from Czech Republic when I was on a mission trip in 1995.  Two plates on top are Polish, purchased by my folks when Dad worked in Eastern Europe.


                         

So there you have it.  My intercontinental, inter-generational cabinet.  Amazing that all these things from a hundred and thirty year time span go together, but they do (in my opinion).

This cabinet does not give me the blues.








Monday, January 26, 2015

thinking heavenly thoughts



Two friends went to heaven last week.

The Children's church lesson was on heaven.

So, I have been thinking more about heaven.  Having one of those, 'what's it all about Alfie' moments.
(random reference to a song from the 60's).

No, Alfie, it is not just for this moment that we live.  We have a purpose; GOD has a plan.

These thoughts reminded me of this prayer;

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes
                                      All my own desires and hopes and accept Thy will for my life.
                                      I give myself, my life, my all
                                      Utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.
                                      Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit
                                      Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt
                                     And work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost now
                                     and forever."


                                    ~Betty Scott Stam


At any cost, she prayed.  The rest of her story is here.

Today, another gloomy, snowy day, is a good day for pondering such thoughts.

For praying such prayers.  At any cost?  

What is on your mind?






Friday, January 23, 2015

Health Care NOT gov part 3


After smashing my left elbow to smithereens, I entered the health care system.  The dizzying world of forms, tests, questions, forms, people, forms...

Now I have to say everyone -to a person- was wonderful to work with.  The nature of my injury inspired sympathy and great care.  But there is a lot of waiting.  Waiting and paperwork.

Samaritan's was fantastic during this time.  They promptly told me what to do and got the paper work to me.  After the initial phone menu, I was always directly connected to a real live person and I do not recall being put on hold.

I was instructed to say I was a self-paying patient and to ask for a discount.  This was incredibly empowering.  There was only one instance where I had to ask to speak to a supervisor.  My discounts ranged from 15-50%.  The only thing not discounted was the internal hardware (pins, plates, screws and coral) which cost a daunting $3,771.  Yikes.  And it just looks like a bunch of stuff from our local Ace.

Anyway.  My costs before discounts totaled about $20,000.  With discounts I was able to get it down to about $15,000.

Our insurance companies and Medicare and Medicaid negotiate with our health care system all the time.

And you can too.

If your next medical bill does not reach your deductible?  Tell them you are self-paying, which you are at that point, and ask for their best discount.  Heady stuff.

I am practiced at saving money at the grocery store and aim for about 40% savings.  But in medical costs when you can save 25%,  you are talking some real  money.

We went ahead and paid my bills on our credit card and we will get one percent cash back (what is in your wallet?).  One percent of $15,000 is $150.00.  Also, all my discounts get applied to my $300 deductible so if I understand this correctly all my deductible will be wiped out.

The Samaritan's share checks for my need will start arriving next month and should all be in just in time to pay that credit card bill.

Stay tuned to see if everything works out according to plan.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Health care NOT gov part 2

                                                   red-bellied woodpecker

see health care NOT gov part 1 here

I was searching for a rare bird, much like the red-bellied woodpecker above.  That rare bird was AFFORDABLE insurance.

It was an elusive thing.

Then I remembered that my son's brother-in-law and sister-in-had some sort of alternative to 'regular' insurance.

I sent a note with some questions to Kelly:


  • What 'insurance' do you have?
  • Are you happy with it?
  • Is it affordable?
  • Have you used it?
  • How does it work?


She answered these questions and more.


  • Samaritan's Ministries
  • Yes.
  • Yes.
  • Yes. 
  • It works beautifully 
They put their Samaritan's Ministries to the test.  Read their miraculous story here.

I was privileged to witness this incredible event.  Really, read it.

I began investigating Samaritan's Ministries to see if it would suit my purposes.

Long story short?  It would.

The language is different for Samaritan's.  Not insurance, but health care sharing.  Not premiums, payments are called shares.  You don't file a claim, you make known your need.

It follows the Biblical model of Galatians 6:2., bearing one another's burdens.

Here is how it works in a nutshell:
My individual share is $180 a month.  My first three shares were sent to the corporate office.  After that I send my $180 directly to an individual or a family with a need.  Addresses provided.We are encouraged to send a note along with our checks. For example, I recently sent a check to a couple that had a miscarriage.  I was able to send them verses and lyrics to a hymn that were particularly  comforting when I had my miscarriage.

To become a member of Samaritan's, you have to agree to a few things.  You must be a member and regular attender of a church (your pastor signs a form for you stating that this is so).  No tobacco or illegal drug use. No alcohol, although an occasional celebratory drink is
allowed.

No pre-existing conditions are covered, although they will make needs known and  individuals who are able may send you a check to help with expenses.
For example, because the published needs were lower than anticipated, our share rate dropped last month from the standard $180 to $149.  Below the address I was to send my shares to, was an unpublished need of a lady who had a pre-existing condition of uterine cancer. We invited to send our extra $31 dollars to her.  Since that money was already budgeted for my health care shares, I did.

Yes, I signed up. Last May.

When I first signed up, there were about 36,000 members.  Now? 40,000.

And soon, I would be putting my Samaritan's health sharing network to the test.