12Aug

What I want you to know about Depression and Suicide.

I’ve been fighting this post.

Every time I read about another precious person who took his/her own life, which has happened far too often lately, I fight it.  My heart begs me to write it, but I don’t want to be a downer. And I just don’t know how to put words to the depth of my feelings on this particular topic.

And then, yesterday.

What I want you to know about depression and suicide. RIP Robin Williams

I wept at learning of the death of Robin Williams. I read a status that referred to suicide and my heart beat faster and I felt panic as I did a google search, begging that information to be incorrect. But, that seems to be the case for now.

Heartbreaking doesn’t begin to describe it.

Depression doesn’t always look like you think.

Even as open as I am about the fact that I suffer from severe, chronic depression, people still don’t get it.  Even those closest to me. I’m sure a part of it is that I don’t want to be a downer. I want to be uplifting. But when I do mention depression, the comments are always the same…

“Really? You suffer from depression? I would never have guessed it.”

“You seem like such a happy person.”

This is scary for me. I feel like there is an unspoken conclusion–it must not be that bad. If you seem happy and you say you’re depressed, then it must not be that bad.

And while I won’t get into details, I want to say, unequivocally… you’re right. It’s not “that bad.” It’s worse. If you don’t suffer from depression, I can say with some certainty that depression is worse than you think. Because there are no words to accurately describe it.

Depression is more than feeling down

So often I hear people make comments against depression and say you should “focus on the positives.” Depression is so much more than just a bad day. There are physical symptoms, and it can be completely debilitating. 

I have read over and over about the awesome power of the human spirit. People who are severely disabled go on to do amazing things because of the power of the human spirit.

There is a great poem about cancer and how it can destroy everything but the human spirit.

That spirit is exactly what depression attacks. 

The same drive that allows people to overcome obstacles is the very thing that is attacked by depression.

My friend, Michelle, wrote a beautiful piece about why she cried at hearing of Robin Williams’ death. In it, she shares with a lot of accuracy some of the thoughts a depressed person battles.

It’s not about being sad. It’s about never being happy. Literally. Never.

It’s about a dark, oppressive cloud of sadness hanging over you every second of every day, even when you look around and you KNOW that you are so very blessed.

It’s about the lies of the enemy (and the illness) telling you every second of every day that you are worthless and that the world would be a better place if you weren’t in it.

But even with all that, it’s more.

Suicide is Not {Necessarily} a Selfish Act

I know to outsiders, it appears that suicide is entirely a selfish act, and I get that. I really do. I can’t imagine the pain of having a loved one take their own life .

But just try to imagine for one second, living in the pain of your worst day ever…every single day. But above that, it’s not always about escaping the pain.

Sometimes, it’s about the idea that your family would be better off without you. I have been in that place. I am not trying to elicit sympathy, but just to inspire understanding. I have literally felt that the best thing I could do for my family would be to remove myself from the picture. If I were gone, my husband could find a better wife. The boys could have a mom who wasn’t depressed. Who wasn’t sick. Who would be so much better for them.

I have been there.

And that’s why it absolutely breaks my heart every time I hear of someone taking their own life. Because I know that pain.

There isn’t always help

Some people will say they should have got help. Here are just some of the reasons that isn’t always a possibility:

  1. It doesn’t always work. That’s the sad truth. For some people there is not enough counseling or meds to pull them out of that dark place. My friend Holly writes more about that here.
  2. Finances. Some people just can’t afford the help that they need. Counseling is expensive and meds are expensive, especially when it usually requires a lot of visits and experimenting with treatments and meds to get the right combination.
  3. Some meds can increase risk of suicide. Yep. The sad, ironic truth is that most medicines prescribed for depression can actually increase the risk of suicidal thoughts.

And sometimes, the help just isn’t there. When people do reach out from their pain, they are judged. I have been told that my depression is a sin against God, that it is proof that I am ungrateful, that if I really appreciated my children or my life I wouldn’t be depressed.  I’ve been told if I loved God more or had more faith, or prayed harder I wouldn’t be depressed.

That is not the kind of “help” that anyone needs.

When someone reaches out

I’m planning to write a couple more posts about this, with some things that you should not say to a depressed person, and some things that you can do to help.

But for now, if there is one thing I can leave you with it is this:  if someone reaches out to you about depression, please take it seriously.

Most of the people I have known who suffer from depression want to hide it. They don’t want to bring others down. They don’t think they deserve your help. They are deeply ashamed because of all the things our culture has taught them about mental illness.

If they are reaching out to you at all, it’s because they feel very desperate. Take it seriously.

If YOU are suffering

If you are one of the people suffering, please know that you are not alone. You are not worthless. No matter what the illness tells you. There is hope.  I pray that you will find someone in your life to speak that truth to you.

Crystal Paine shares about that hope in her post about her own struggle with post-partum depression.

Photo Credit: By Eva Rinaldi  [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

 

11Aug

{How to} Preserve Corn in the Freezer

How to preserve corn for the freezer. A step by step tutorial with tips and photos.

So, I mentioned in my How to Save Money on Groceries post that one of the many ways we decrease our grocery spending is by growing our own garden, and preserving our harvest.

I thought I would have a short series to share some of the ways we do that.  Today, I am focusing on the best way to preserve corn. Obviously, this will not be everyone’s opinion, but I personally think the best way to preserve corn is in the freezer, so I’m going to share that. And, the best part is that it requires no special equipment whatsoever, so this is a great way to ease yourself into preserving your food.

How to Preserve your Corn in the Freezer

What you need:

  • Corn :)
  • A large pot (A bigger pot will make the process go more quickly, but if all you have is a small soup pot, it will work as long as your corn will fit in it)
  • A good knife or corn peeler. (I love Rada knives in general and that’s what I always used before. This year, my mom got me a pampered chef corn cutter and it was nice to have)
  • Ziploc Freezer Bags–yes, use ziploc. They are not paying me to say that, but I do strongly prefer their freezer bags over any other brand.

What to do:

When choosing your corn, choose ears that are matured, but still fresh. Remove the husks and silks (great job for kiddos! No current pictures from this year, but my boys have done this task since about age 2).

1. Fill your pot about 3/4 of the way with water and bring it to a boil (tip: cover with a lid to help it boil faster). Once the water is boiling, fill the pot with as much corn as you can fit in the pot (just make sure that the water will still cover the corn). Once your corn is in there, set a timer for 10 minutes. You are blanching the corn. (Note: I have read other literature that recommends time based on size of the corn, but I have always found 10 minutes to work just fine, and it’s easy so it’s what I have stuck with.)

How to Prepare Corn for the Freezer: Blanche

2. Once that 10 minutes is up, remove your corn from the hot water very carefully using tongs. Some people like to put the corn immediately in ice water to be sure it doesn’t overcook after removed from heat. At this point, if you have additional corn, you can reuse the same water for up to 4-5 rounds of corn, though you may have to add more water at some point due to evaporation.

3. Once your corn has cooled, you *could* just freeze it, as is, on the cob. However, I don’t prefer doing that, and it takes up a lot of space in the freezer. So, I usually cut mine off the cob, using a sharp knife or corn cutter.

How to prepare corn for the freezer: Remove from cob for easier storage

Then, it all goes into a bowl, like so.

How to prepare corn for freezer

And because I am a bit OCD, I don’t like my kernals being all attached like this, so I use my handy dandy chop/stir tool to separate them.

4. At this point, the corn is ready to be put into the freezer bags. A standard serving of corn is approximately 1/2 cup per person, so I generally add around 2-2.5 cups to my bags. I like to freeze them in ready portions for our family, so that they are ready to go and I can just grab a bag out to use easily. If I have a lot to work with, sometimes I will freeze a few larger bags in anticipation of taking home grown corn to potlucks, etc.

I like to put the corn in, and then flatten it out as I get the air out, so that the bag lays flat when frozen and takes up less room that way. After being frozen, it can even stand up and squeeze into small spaces between other things in your freezer. As with all food items, it’s a good idea to label with the item and the date, and use a first-in/first-out system.

How to preserve corn with freezer

I totally meant to count our ears before I got rid of them, but I didn’t. We estimate that I started with around 30-40 ears and ended up with 11 bags of 2-2.5 cups each…just to give you an idea.

How to prepare corn for the freezer.

Just to reiterate,  is definitely the BEST way to preserve corn and is far superior to canning it when it comes to the quality of your finished product! And, it’s a great start because you don’t need any special equipment at all.

What do you say? Do you freeze or can your corn?

11Aug

New FREE Pirate Fun Pack & An Announcement

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which help me to be able to provide these free printable packs. Thank you for your support.

Pirate Fun Activity Pack

I have a fun free printable pack for you today, but first, an announcement…

Get Intentional Marriage in a Bundle of the Week deal!

I’ve been keeping a bit of a secret! I am very excited that my book, Intentional Marriage is included in this week’s Encouragement for Christian Mothers bundle. For just $7.40 you can get my book plus 4 others! I can’t spill the beans with the whole list, but you can enter your email address here to get immediate access as a subscriber to Bundle of the Week (you can unsubscribe at any time!). It’s a great deal (starts at 8 am on 8/11)!BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Now, on to the Free Printable Pack!

Pirates have been all the rage around here lately. We don’t currently have cable or satellite, but before we shut it off, my boys were all about Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And judging by the sheer amount of Jake stuff available, I’m guessing they aren’t the only ones!

No, this packet is not in any way affiliated with Jake or Disney (and it’s not even pretending to be!), but it is pirate-themed, and I hope your kiddos will enjoy it.

I haven’t done a full launch of my printables store yet, but I have been quietly adding to it, and I wanted to remind you today that my subscribers and facebook likers always get to see my printable packs first and you get them for FREE!!! PS–I’m running a special right now!  Through 8/31, you can get 50% off your entire purchase in my printables shop with the code SUMMER50Off.

This package contains more than 25 pages of activities, all in a fun pirate theme.

  • Match Game
  • Mini-Book and comprehension questions
  • Counting, Subtracting, adding, and patterns
  • Coloring and handwriting practice
  • Beginning Sounds, phonics
  • Discerning Symmetry activities
  • And MORE!

How to Get it Free

I know some people prefer email and some prefer facebook, so I am offering a choice. This will be available for free for a limited time, so grab yours now :)

1. I am offering it FREE to all likers on facebook. Simply go here, and if you haven’t liked my page already, click “like” and click on the cover to download. Facebook has switched things around and the facebook like box now shows up on the left side of the page, rather than the top. This may not work properly on some mobile devices.

—> Download FREE via Facebook

2. I am offering it FREE to all subscribers via email. If you are already a subscriber, you should see the download link at the top of this post. If you are a new subscriber, you will be redirected to a page with the download link when you confirm your subscription.


—>Download FREE via Email

Again, this will be free for a limited time, and then it will be available for purchase in my printables store.

Don’t want to subscribe?

You can get it for half off right now (along with anything else in my printables store) with the code summer50off. Good through 8/31.

Graphics are from My Cute Graphics and used by permission.

07Aug

Summer Reading {Book Reviews}

While we’ve been busy with school (we school year round), trips, gardening and canning, etc. I always make time for reading! And this Summer, I have read some great new books that I’m glad to share with you!

Copies of these books were provided to me from their publishers for review. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. This post contains affiliate links.

The Heart’s Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher

Book Review The Hearts Pursuit

So, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but this one is beautiful! And, since I’m a big fan of the author, Robin Lee Hatcher, I felt pretty comfortable choosing to read it :)

The Heart’s Pursuit is a story of redemption.

A jilted bride desperate to save her family from ruin.
A bounty hunter seeking vengeance for a ravaged past.
An arduous trek toward justice–or redemption.

I love reading stories of characters going through the worst moments of their lives, and seeing how those moments can be redeemed. It is just so inspiring to me. The characters are well-rounded, and very real. Robin Lee Hatcher has a gift for being able to tackle very serious and difficult issues without coming across as trite, and she does that well in this book, as Jared (the bounty hunter) is looking for someone guilty of some very heinous crimes. She deals with these issues respectfully while also meeting them head on. She also deals with the issues of revenge vs. justice, showing this through her characters, in a non-preachy way.

Although Robin Lee Hatcher does tackle some tough issues, the book is still lighthearted and enjoyable, while being encouraging and inspirational to the reader.

Four Weddings and a Kiss

Book Review Four Weddings and a Kiss

I have been loving novellas lately. It’s so convenient for a busy mom to be able to read the whole story in one sitting without staying up until 3 am. *ahem* not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

So, when 4 of my favorite authors come together with a collection of stories, it is just irresistible! Four Weddings and a Kiss offers four related stories that are each distinct. (PS–if you are purchasing the kindle version, you’ll save a couple bucks by purchasing the stories individually.)

“Spitfire Sweetheart” by Mary Connealy
Maizy Place is an unruly tomboy. When she causes an accident, injuring neighbor Rylan Carstens, she becomes his unlikely caregiver. Rylan has never noticed how pretty his infuriating neighbor is, and he never expected to fall in love.

“Love Letter to the Editor” by Robin Lee Hatcher
Molly Everton is the outspoken daughter of the town newspaper’s owner. When her father brings in an outsider to be editor, she tries to drive him out of town. But Jack Ludgrove is not intimidated. He’s resolved to change Molly’s mind about him–as an editor and as a man.

“A Cowboy for Katie” by Debra Clopton
Katie Pearl is uninterested in men and love. But she needs help on her ranch and hires Treb Rayburn, a wandering cowboy looking to make a buck. Will Treb change Katie’s mind?

“Courting Trouble” by Margaret Brownley
Grace Davenport is either the unluckiest woman alive–or a killer. When her third husband is found dead, Grace is arrested. Attorney Brock Daniels isn’t interested in the case–until he meets Grace. Only a miracle will prove her innocence, but the joining of two lonely hearts may be their saving grace.

Each story is well thought out and developed, despite being a novella, and each one displays the best qualities of the author’s particular voice and style. Well worth the read!

A Match of Wits by Jen Turano

Book Review Match of Wits

I just love the cover of this one, too! The model does a great job of portraying how sassy and feisty the heroine of the story is! A Match of Wits was such a fun book to read!

A bit about the book:

After his departure from New York two years ago to meet up with his almost-fiancée, Zayne Beckett is the last person Agatha Watson wanted to stumble upon in her travels as a reporter with the New York Tribune. Quite pathetically bedraggled, he clearly needs to be taken in hand and sent back East to his family. Although she no longer has feelings for him, Agatha realizes, by hook or by crook, she’ll have to be the one to get the obstinate man home.

Zayne has no desire to be taken anywhere and is prepared to drag his heels all the way home… until he finds himself slipping back into the familiar banter of his former friendship with Agatha. Once they arrive in New York, Zayne realizes Agatha’s determined nose for news has earned her a few enemies, and he hopes to repay her help with some help of his own. When she rebuffs all his attempts to prove himself a knight in shining armor, the lengths to which they’ll go to win this battle of wills lead to some memorable antics. 

Like I said above, this was a very fun book! I love Jen Turano’s sense of humor and found that element of this book very refreshing. She captured me as a reader from the very first sentence! The book contains an element of suspense, but is still a lighthearted and inspiring read. She really has a unique way of creating lovable, but well-rounded characters. They aren’t without their (sometimes humorous!) flaws, but they captured my heart just the same.

A great read for anyone who enjoys historical inspirational romance!

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Book Review Full Steam Ahead

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Karen Witemeyer, so I was very excited to review her latest book, Full Steam Ahead.

A bit about the book:

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill…Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans.After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed….Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy?
Although I am a big fan of this author, I wasn’t incredibly interested in the subject matter, so it took me a while to get started on this one. I should have known better than to doubt Karen Witemeyer! She drew me in from the very first page, and kept me interested in the characters and their dilemmas throughout the book. I loved reading about the guilt Darius Thornton battled with, and seeing how God could redeem that situation. His gruff ways really drew me in and it was fun to see him soften up a bit under Nicole’s care.
With a lot of books I read, I find myself annoyed with the way the author does this or that, but with Karen’s books, that is never an issue for me. Nicole is a strong heroine, without being too headstrong in most ways. Darius is a strong hero, but with real flaws that need to be worked on, and Karen Witemeyer deals with all that beautifully. In addition to the wonderful love story, the faith element is strong in this book, as in all of her others that I’ve read.
Her books always leave me wanting more!

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

Book Review With Every Breath

I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Elizabeth Camden as an author, but Bethany House Publishers is one of my favorite, so if they publish a book, I am immediately ready to take a chance on it and I’m glad I did so on With Every Breath.

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

I loved these characters! I loved their intellectual banter, and the fact that Kate is a strong, intelligent woman while still being feminine. I found myself falling for the intelligent, dedicated, rough-around-the-edges Trevor, and was thrilled to be a part of their unique “courtship,” as they worked together. The medical suspense and the plot twists will keep readers intrigued and wanting to know what comes next.

Because the book deals with such a serious subject matter, it is sad at times, but still inspirational and lighthearted, which I think is impressive on the part of the author. She does really well at dealing with such a serious subject matter.

$10 Great Dates

Book Review Great Dates

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am very passionate about marriage, and also frugal living, so I was very excited to see both of those topics wedded (<–pun intended!) together in one great book– $10 Great Dates: Connecting Love, Marriage, and Fun on a Budget.

Tired of the usual dinner-and-a-movie dates? Looking for new ways to connect with your spouse?

Energize your marriage by getting out of your normal routine with the help of these 52 creative date ideas. From outdoor dates to out-on-the-town dates, you and your spouse will have no trouble finding the perfect date that fits your mood–all on a $10 budget!

See for yourself how new experiences can help you bond together and nurture your relationship.

This book has some fun and creative date ideas, all on a budget…what could be better? This book offers 52 great, unique date ideas–one for each week of the year. And, there are some great thoughts about marriage included as well. Overall, recommend this for married couples.

 

 

06Aug

Thriving Thursday 8/7

This post contains affiliate links.

Don’t miss my great list of nearly 40 free books for kindle that you can get right now…all from the best publishers and authors in Christian fiction, so definitely check that out. And follow me on facebook where I post the short-term free books I find (those that only last for a day or so).

I wanted to share with my fellow bloggers, the best investment I have made as a blogger. I used to spend a LOT of time searching for the perfect free photos for my posts and design projects. Then I found out about the Dollar Photo Club. They have great photos and they are just $1 each. I usually try to do as much as I can with my blog for free. But at some point, I just had to realize that my time is worth something. You can subscribe for $10/month (with 10 downloads) or $99/year (with 99 downloads). You can purchase more at any time and unused downloads will roll over.

What have you been up to this week?

There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.

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