Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Busy Hands: County Fair Edition

William and Adelaide on the swings at the county fair

This year I felt well enough to visit the county fair not just once, but twice! Last year I was not able to attend at all, so I made sure to thoroughly enjoy myself this year! I watched my children having fun on the fair rides. I ate popcorn and cotton candy. I looked at all of the crafts and produce and 4-H fair entries. I visited the vendor tables and collected samples. I petted the goats. I had a wonderful time with my family! My parents were here in August, and they took the children and me to the fair one day while Will was at work. And then Will was able to go to the fair with us on the weekend. 

The county fair is one of my family's favorite events each year. We enjoy entering baked goods, garden produce, and crafts. Throughout the year I work on crochet projects and jewelry to enter at the fair. Some years I am not able to go to the fair, but I always send along some items for entry. It was a bonus that I was able to both attend the fair and turn in craft projects this year!

Old Fashioned Baby Sweater Set

One of my goals this year was to win a purple ribbon for a crochet project. I have never won a purple ribbon for any of my crocheted items before, so I was thrilled when this infant sweater set received a purple ribbon! I used this free pattern. It's the same pattern I used when Adelaide was a baby. I never made the sweater for Adelaide, though, which I regret.

crochet baby hat and girls hat

I entered this baby hat (left) and newsgirl hat (right). I will use the baby hat as a gift for someone. The newsgirl hat is for Adelaide to wear this winter. She even picked out the yarn herself!

crochet scarf, fingerless gloves, and medical ID bracelet

I was super excited that my Bristleberry Scarf received a purple ribbon too! I made fingerless gloves out of the yarn remnant, and I will wear these gloves indoors this winter. My medical ID bracelet didn't receive a ribbon.

Adelaide and her purple ribbon caramel candy

Since we're talking about the fair and purple ribbons, I want to share Adelaide's exciting fair news! She had never won a purple ribbon at the county fair, and her goal for the fair this year was to win a purple ribbon. She succeeded! Adelaide won a purple ribbon for her caramel candy in the junior division. She was one happy baker!

This fall I am keeping my hands busy by making a shawl. It is slow-going. I have messed up so many times that I have already taken out a total of 8 rows. Agh! Brain fog and crochet don't always mix well. I am also working on creating a little bag to hang on Myrtle. I'll show these to you when I have them finished.

What have you been doing lately to keep your hands busy? Do you ever enter your projects at a fair? If not, you should! It is so much fun!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Collect

It is Five Minute Friday! We gather to write for just five minutes on the same writing prompt, and then we link up over at Kate's blog. This week the word is "collect."

For the past twelve years I have had a slowly growing collection of medical supplies and equipment. Some pieces I have added to my collection with great sadness that I needed them. Sometimes I have had a sense of relief because of the help that a particular medical device gave. And other times I have been excited because of the new things I could do with the assistance of medical equipment.

This week I added a seat cane to my collection, and I was so excited when it came! This seat cane will enable me to sit outside for a few minutes with our puppy, Frodo, as we wait for William and Adelaide to come home from school. This seat cane may even allow me to go on very short walks with Frodo. I have tried going for walks with a walker, but it is too hard to get the walker up and down our front steps. And then it is exhausting to try and push the walker on uneven sidewalks. Perhaps with this seat cane I will be able to walk 25 or 50 yards without my arms becoming so worn out from trying to push a walker.

Attempting to walk without bringing a seat along is not a good idea, so I recently began looking for a lighter weight option than a walker. This seat cane with a sling seat looked like the perfect item for me! It is just 2 and a half pounds, and it has a comfortable, sturdy seat. It is exciting to have this new piece of medical equipment.

I like this little cane. I think I’ll call her Myrtle.

P.S. It is Invisible Illness Awareness Week! Learn more here!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

Mendeltna Community Chapel in Alaska
Photo by Ellie Kiser

I was 24 when it happened for the first time. I sat beside my husband in our church that met in a little log building in rural Alaska. The congregation stood to sing, but I remained seated. It was awkward to be the only one sitting, especially when I looked so healthy. My body appeared strong, but inside it was weak.

My health had been slowly deteriorating for several years, and my disability was invisible. Many in the church probably didn’t even know that I had an invisible illness. They could not see that each week it was becoming harder for me to attend church. No one could see that standing made my blood pressure drop too low. No one could see my heart racing to keep my blood circulating so that I didn’t faint. No one could see the energy draining from my muscles. But I could feel it, and I knew that if I wanted to make it through a whole church service, I could no longer stand while singing hymns.

inside the little log church
Photo by Ellie Kiser

My church was very kind and accepting of my new limitations. They allowed me to remain seated without shame, and they brought meals to show their love and care. We have moved many times since then, but I will always be grateful for our little church in Alaska.

My family lives in Minnesota now, and I am grateful to have another loving and accepting church. My invisible illness has grown worse over the years, but my church accepts me just as I am. They even keep a recliner at the church for my personal use! I can no longer sit up through an entire church service, so lying down in a recliner enables me to attend a service occasionally.

There are many members in our churches who are fighting invisible illnesses, and although we cannot see it, their struggle may be profound. Their illnesses may be disabling even if they appear to be able-bodied.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

This week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week, an annual online awareness event sponsored by Rest Ministries. According to Rest Ministries, nearly 1 in 2 Americans live with some kind of chronic condition, and the majority of their symptoms are invisible. An individual may be dealing with pain, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, weakness, cognitive difficulties, or any number of other debilitating symptoms.

People with invisible illnesses need our support and encouragement. They face challenges each day that no one can see and that many do not understand. They may feel lonely, discouraged, or misunderstood. They may be struggling to keep up with simple tasks of daily living. They may be facing a disability while those around them are unaware.

If you have an invisible illness, it can be embarrassing to let others know about your struggle. But sometimes we need help and encouragement from others, and if we do not share with them what we are going through, they cannot offer their support. Let’s humble ourselves enough to let our churches know that we are living with an invisible illness.

When we learn that someone has an invisible illness, let’s be ready to offer them our encouragement and support. Let’s be understanding when they need to sit, leave church early, or cancel plans at the last minute. Let us accept them, limitations and all, and welcome them in our churches.

If you have an invisible illness, what is one of your most disabling symptoms?

What are some ways we can offer support and encouragement to those who are suffering from an invisible illness?

{This article was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.}

Monday, September 26, 2016

Five Minute Friday Book

Each week bloggers gather together for Five Minute Friday. We write for just 5 minutes on the same writing prompt, and then we link up our posts over at Kate's blog. We write for the fun of writing, and the rules are: no editing, no overthinking, and no worrying about perfect grammar and punctuation. And most importantly: encourage the writer who linked up before you! It is meant to be a time of writing for the joy of writing and a time for encouraging other writers.

Five Minute Friday Book

This year the Five Minute Friday group has published a book, and it releases today! We were all given the option of turning in our favorite Five Minute Friday post to be included in the book. The book was compiled by Susan Shipe, and the foreword was written by Lisa-Jo Baker, the creator and original host of Five Minute Friday.

All of the proceeds from the Five Minute Friday book will be given to The Vine School and the Ten Dollar Tribe.

Some of the authors in the Five Minute Friday book are: Lisa-Jo Baker, Kate Motaung, Susan Shipe, Kristin Smith, Stacey Patrick, Katie M. Reid, Sara Frankl, and more than 100 others! My blog post, Learn, is in this book. It thrills me to have my words in a book with so many of my blogging friends!

You can learn more about the Five Minute Friday book here. Or you can buy your copy here on Amazon!

If you are a blogger and are looking for some blogging ideas and inspiration, I invite you to join us this week for Five Minute Friday. We link up over at Kate's blog. The writing prompt and link-up are posted at 10:00 pm on Thursday, Eastern Time, and it stays open for one week. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Serving the Church when You Are Homebound

looking out a window

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are homebound are a vital part of the Body of Christ. If you are a church member who is homebound, it may be easy to feel as if you aren’t a part of the body, but God’s Word says that every believer is a vital part of the body of Christ. Even the weaker members are indispensable (1 Corinthians 12:22). You have an important role to play in the body of Christ! Your service is needed and is valuable.

But, how can you step out and serve when it is difficult or impossible to leave your home? Let’s talk about a few ways you might be able to serve those in your church.

1) Live a life of faithfulness in the midst of suffering. A godly testimony in the midst of suffering is a precious ministry. Those in your church who see your faithfulness, or hear of your godly example, will be encouraged in their own walk with the Lord. Their faith will be strengthened on account of you.

2) Share your testimony. If your church has a time for sharing testimonies, perhaps you could write a few sentences for a friend to read at church in your place. Your words could encourage and help those in your church even if you are not able to speak to them in person.

3) Send cards in the mail. If there is someone else in the church who is disabled or homebound, you could send them a card to encourage them in a way that is very personal because you have faced similar struggles. You can also send cards to encourage those in the church who are sick, going through a difficult time, or grieving the loss of a loved one.

4) Prayer is a very important ministry. Through prayer you have the privilege of bringing requests before the throne of grace and interceding for others. God chooses to work through the prayers of His children, and “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 b, NIV). Prayer is an awesome opportunity to minister to those in your church!

Even if you are confined to your home, you are an indispensable part of the Body of Christ. There are important ways you can serve your local church, and your service is precious in the sight of God.

How have you been blessed by the service of a homebound member of the church? If you are a homebound member, how do you serve your local church?

{This post was originally posted on The Irresistible Church blog.}
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