Monday, May 30, 2011

Are we thankful for what we have or resentful for what we don't have?

One thing I've learned in my almost 25 years of following Christ (Friday is my spiritual birthday) is that you can't teach gratitude--it has to come from within. As I mentioned on here a little over a month ago, I'd just lost my job, but thanks to a couple years of diligent food storage efforts, my family won't have to worry about food for several months. I started a new job almost two weeks ago, and I'm very grateful for it. The downside at the moment is that while it's a full-time job, I took a significant pay cut from my previous job and the wages at my new job will cover everything except gas and food costs. Now, I could be ungrateful for the fact that I'm shorter on cash than I'd like to be, but I have a little bit of cash to fall back on and, to emphasize the point again, no trips to the grocery will be needed for several months except for milk and (until we start making our own) bread, because we have plenty of food on hand. Now, at some point, our income will have to exceed our expenses, or else our reserves will be depleted--so from the perspectives of some people, I'd have every right to be upset. But let's think back to basic math--half of something is more than nothing, right? I'd rather have a job at half of my previous salary than nothing at all! Keeping at least some cash flowing in is stemming the financial blood loss, so to speak, and I'm very grateful for that!

Some people at my new place of work aren't so happy about the job, though. I'd never worked in a factory until now, and it's been a bit more strenuous physically than I'd anticipated. But because of that, I've slept really well at night the past couple weeks because I've been really tired! But I've been hearing one person after another at the factory say that they hate their jobs, with one man yesterday emphasizing his feelings about his job by frequent use of a four-letter F-word. (You'll have to take my word for it that his word of choice was not "fine"!) So as I'm standing there across the line from him putting our widgets together, I'm thinking to myself, "Dude, would you rather be unemployed and have even less money and less food?"

Remember that I mentioned in my first post a few months ago that I've been really hungry before and don't want to be hungry like that again? I'm guessing that this guy didn't get the memo! I've had a number of jobs that I really haven't liked, but I disliked starving more than I disliked my job! But then it all goes back to gratitude, which can't be taught or conditioned--it has to come from Christ. Take a look at what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:10-13:

"I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

You can have all the "stuff" in the world and still not have peace. But you can also be destitute and in abject poverty, but still have Christ's peace inside. It's not a matter of whether your cup is half empty or half full--it's a matter of Who is filling your cup! If Christ is not the one who is giving you strength and peace, then you don't have strength and peace--you have an imposter. But if He is the one filling you from the inside out, who or what in this world can stop it or take it away from you?

I'm thankful for my new job. I'm thankful for a family that loves me. But most importantly, I'm thankful for God's grace through Christ in my life, even though I don't deserve it. I'll update you guys soon on what the Lord is doing in my new job and in this next stage of my life. In the meantime, what is He doing in yours?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Breakfast from our food storage

My family has basically two levels of food storage--what we normally eat and have a lot of in our kitchen and extended pantry, and what we normally eat and have EVEN MORE of in what I've heard referred to as our deep larder. And it just makes sense that for your food storage, you should stock up large quantities of what you normally eat anyway, because why would you stock up on stuff you don't eat??

So with that in mind, having plenty of food on hand has paid off this past week while I've still been jobless (but praise the Lord, I start a new job Tuesday!), because even though we've had very little cash to spare the past couple weeks, we haven't had to set foot in a grocery store because we have plenty of food to draw from.

Some people might think "food storage" sounds boring and not especially tasty, but if you're storing what you normally eat anyway, why shouldn't it be? So I thought I'd share a photo of breakfast this morning--oatmeal with dehydrated banana chips (I buy my banana chips at Add a touch of honey, and talk about a yummy breakfast!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stocking up on medications

Here's a post from the Archives that I think would help a lot of people. It's easy to stock up on food, but what about prescription medicines? I think this has taken on particular importance to me this week, now that I'm officially without health insurance until I land a new job, and I know I'm not the only one in such a situation.

I think it's also important to remember to stock up on vitamins and other supplements as well--you need to make sure you're getting all of the necessary nutrients, especially during high-stress periods. We've got extra bottles vitamin C and plenty of fish-oil capsules, as well as men's and women's vitamins for me and the missus.

In the event of personal, local or national emergencies or other natural or manmade disasters, if you’re like millions of people who must take various medications on a regular basis, you might be out of luck if something happens and keeps your medicines from getting to the store shelves. Many people’s quality of life would be severely diminished if they couldn’t get their medicine, so having an ample stockpile of drugs that aren’t controlled substances is just common sense.

I realize that a lot of people either don’t have insurance and have trouble paying out-of-pocket for more than a month’s supply of any particular medication at one time, or whatever medications they take might be subject to DEA restrictions on how much of the drug they can be prescribed within a particular time frame. So for what it’s worth, I’ll share my approach to stocking up on the meds I need every day and hope it might help you as well.

Rule #1 should be obvious: Talk to your doctor. Depending on the medication you’re on and your drug plan, your doctor may be able to increase the authorized dosage and/or number of pills for certain medications that aren’t controlled substances to allow you to build up a surplus.

I’m on an old-school antidepressant (nortriptylene) as a migraine preventive, which works rather well — I’ve been on it for about two years. I take 50 mg. at bedtime. My neurologist had originally written the prescription for up to 100 mg. Once I realized that 50 mg. was keeping my migraines in check, I kept getting refills on the same day each month and just put the new refills behind the older ones — first in, first out. At my six-month followup appointment, I told my doctor that 50 mg. was doing the trick but asked her if she could keep my prescription written for 100 mg. so that I could build up a surplus just in case of job loss or anything else, I told her. Since nortriptylene isn’t a controlled substance, she said she’d be willing to do that. I have 13 months worth of nortriptylene in my medicine cabinet at the moment.

The only other meds I take on a regular basis are Claritin for allergies (I’m allergic to cats but have two cats anyway — they adopted me) and I take 800 mg. of generic Aleve every night at bedtime for my fibromyalgia. I got four 60-tablet bottles of generic Claritin at Walmart for about $25, enough to last about eight months, and I don’t remember exactly how much the generic Aleve was at Sam’s Club, but I got three 400-count bottles for less than $50, and that’ll last me about 10 months. I also take 1000 mg. of Vitamin C every night at bedtime and got a big bottle of that as well at Sam’s Club (gotta keep my immune system in good shape).

I’d be interested in hearing from any of you who’ve also talked to your doctor about stocking up on medications. And be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about the shelf life of your medications, to make sure they will be safe if stored for an extended period.

For those of who who are medical practitioners, I’d be interested in hearing your ideas and perspectives as well.