The Absurdity of Bureaucracy

Along with my exile from the paid working world, I have had to adjust to a new insurance with a really strange pharmacy protocol. Instead of being able to run to my convenient neighborhood pharmacy for my refills, I’m now required to order three months at a time through the mail. That is for all my meds except for my RA medicine, which is quite expensive. A special company sends it to me one month at a time.

Because it is very expensive and has to be refrigerated at all times, it comes in a small cooler. No kidding! It measures 11 x 15 x 10 inches and is made of two -inch thick styrofoam. Not only is it packed in styrofoam, but it has Nordic ice packs – yesterday’s shipment had four large ice packs to keep it safe in case it had to sit on my porch in the heat. It also had large bubble wrap to prevent, I don’t know, squishing????

The Box. Comes sealed and secure on my doorstep every month.

The medicine, which for one month is four injectable syringes, was also incased in a very heavy duty ziplock bag. Oh and the amount of paperwork that accompanied it always astounds me. They send me the same six-sheet print out every time. I wish they would realize, that I’m an intelligent person, and that I don’t need to re-read that info every month. Okay, I will admit that my memory is not what it used to be, but honestly, I can save it from month to month.

Now, I really appreciate the trouble they go to to protect my medicine to ensure it reaches me safely, even on hot days. But I can’t help but dwell on the amount of waste that is occurring each month. I am not what you would call an environmentalist by any sort of the definition, but I do recycle everything that I can and repurpose everything else (please check out my website http://www.repurposefuldesign.com or my Facebook page by the same name).

I like bubble wrap, but this size is no fun to POP.

In fact, I’ve already found ways to recycle many for the shipping components. For instance, with my repurpose business, I often need to ship breakables. The styrofoam containers and bubble wrap will come in handy for that. And who doesn’t need big ice packs for picnic lunches? Although I may need some help with that one. If I get four or more a month, I am going to run out of room in my freezer, so if you would like one or two or more of these lovely food chillers, PLEASE drop me a note, and I’ll get them to you somehow. And of course, I recycle all the unnecessary paper that comes with my shipment.

That's a lot of packing material for one little box!

I know, there are probably hundreds, if not more, of patients out there receiving this same medicine in this same fashion each month that don’t really care about recycling. What do they do with all this waste? Fill up the landfills? I also can’t help but think that the cost of shipping materials would out weigh the cost of the medicine. It isn’t like my insurance is not paying for it, or that I’m not going to order it one month – it is kind of like insulin, I have to have it like clockwork. It would make much more sense to ship three boxes of injections in that huge styrofoam box once every three months than one box every month. Oh yeah, did I mention that the prescription itself comes in a 4 x 6 x 1 inch box?

Honestly, its that small and weighs practically nothing!

But then again, this world has stop making sense to me a long time ago.

Casting Stones

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

I have had something on my heart for a number of days and although I may offend or even alienate some of my friends, know that is not my purpose of writing this. After searching the scriptures, the tugging of my heart by the Spirit won’t let me even finish the job I was doing until I wrote this down. If I inadvertently offend, I apologize for your hurt feelings, but I will not apologize for the truth of God’s word.

I have come across yet another story of just how horrible so-called christian people can be (yes, the small c is on purpose), just how judgmental and self-righteous; the main reason that my husband and I have been out of organized church for several years. This story affects a fairly new friend, but one that has proven the love and servitude of Christ to me and my family in the time of need. But it has affected them in the worst possible way – the crushing of the spirit and a loss in faith in Christians.

Without going into detail, as this is not my story to tell and enough gossip about the subject has been floating around the internet already, but it has to do with sin. A young Christian was discovered to be involved in a subculture that is very unhealthy for anyone, much less an impressionable and naive young Christian. What the Christians surrounding this friend did was to ostracize my friend’s family, turn their backs on them (for the “good of the rest of the community”) and kick them out of their community, even though when what this young Christian was involved in was explained and repentance was sought, the community still turned their backs on them.

Do we all want to protect our families from harmful influences of the world? Yes, but at what expense? We can claim that we judge and past judgement of other Christians for the good of the whole, but scriptures has very specific guidelines ending with trying to bring that person back into the fold before the LAST resort of kicking them out. I’m not a scholar, but everything I read puts more stress on the LOVE and FORGIVENESS of Christ. I recently read in John 4 about Jesus’s encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria. He knew her sins (and God is the only one who can not only truly know our sins but has the authority to pass judgement), but He spoke to her anyway and loved her. Not only that, He sent her back into her community to tell others – and the result was her receiving forgiveness and eternal life, as well as others in her community. When a community in Jesus’s day wanted to stone another woman for her sins, Jesus rebuked them in John 8:7 by saying, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sinner saved only by the grace of a Loving God, and my Bible warns me that no one sin is greater or lesser than any other sin. We are all judged the same. The importance is if we are willing to repent. James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (NAS) When we act out of our own moral superiority, we are guilty of lying – because we are all sinners.

Yes, it is true, we as parents need to be diligent to protect our children from harmful influences, but when we do that to the point of exclusivity, what are we teaching our children? How are they learning to be a light unto the world? Instead of teaching them to shun and reject fellow Christians who have fallen, we need to teach them the love and forgiveness of Christ in order to help that Christian get back on the right track. Matthew 5:15 warns, “nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “ (NAS)

When my girls were in their teens, they were intelligent, creative young girls who had a gifting for music. They wrote lyrics and music and played instruments as well. They could have chosen any style, but they saw a need in the subculture of grunge or punk music. Because of this choice, many “christians” (little c again on purpose) judged them – many times harshly – because of their hair, clothes and makeup. They didn’t know them or their hearts, or the amount of supervision I gave them in this ministry. They wrote beautiful music teaching of the love and forgiveness of Christ. One day, we were at Mardel’s Christian Bookstore looking at music. The music listening counter was full, so my girls were on one side of a woman with a stack of Christian books, and I on the other. When Micah sat down, the lady shifted her items (and not subtly) away from her. I was angered, but not so much for her actions as for the hurt I saw on my daughter’s face. I wanted to say to her, “you don’t even know her, but if she was indeed lost, your superior christian actions may have lost her forever.”

In the absence of true Christian support and friends in the time of trials and sin in our lives, those who are judged without grace will turn to the only people who will love and support them – the lost. Lost subcultures don’t judge, they accept anyone’s faults they are truer friends. How as Christians can we let this happen?

Jesus Christ commands us to love one another. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Paul teaches us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)

Christ also says show mercy not judgement lest you be judged without mercy. Christ teaches us to lift each other up – to support one another. Yes, we are to hold each other accountable, but to do it in love and then forgive each other. After all, Christ first forgave us and then he forgets that sin. And then we are to come along side that person and help them not fall back into that same sin. That is why not forsaking the fellowship of believers was deemed so important.

Show the same mercy and grace that God gave you

Unfortunately, in this day and age, the fellowship is not all it is cracked up to be. Often times the Christian community causes more harm than a whole internet of peverted websites.

A Girl’s Other Best Friend

We all know that a girl’s best friend is supposed to be a diamond. Or so the saying goes.

Sparkleies! I love sparkleies!

I’m not sure where the saying originated; probably some post war-era idea that a girl is not complete or happy unless she is engaged or married. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about that, but before you get all anti-femminisim on me – that’s not what this post is about. Although I do have to give a shout-out to all the strong young women who are not yet wed and are still waiting for Mr. Right to come along and propose.

For Me, I just like Sparkly things. Yes, I love being married too and will have been for 34 years this coming March, but I have to say, I just love the way gems sparkle and make me feel pretty. But again I digress. This post is about our OTHER best friend. The one that soothes our savage breasts or at least calms us during that ugly time of the month when we become less than beautiful princesses or love goddess.

I’m talking about chocolate!

Pure Indulgence!

I have had a long love affair with chocolate. I’ve often teased that whereas some members of my family became addicted to things that eventually killed their bodies, I, being one with my genetic heritage, became addicted to chocolate.

I mean I love it in almost any form. Chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate cake, chocolate candy (especially if you throw in some carmel and pecans), chocolate fudge – heck, I even love just plain chocolate chips. Since I have become cold natured after losing over 155 pounds (hard to do when you are addicted to chocolate), I have found a new favorite chocolate indulgence that not only keeps me from ruining my new healthier lifestyle, but also quiets the cravings for chocolate – oh, and with an added benefit of warming me up!

I’m talking about Homemade Hot Chocolate!

There is nothing better to warm your bones and your heart than a creamy cup of hot chocolate. Up for a little adventure? Try adding a dash of cinnamon or chili powder.

Now, I must confess, I didn’t make this one up on my own. A good friend, Deborah Buchanan, shared her recipe with me, and I’ve been making it almost every day since. There is no sugar in this recipe, just a bit of Splenda, and if you use skim milk, there is also no fat. I’ve even made it with almond milk – Blue Diamond, Almond Breeze is the best, for those with lactose intolerance; it just takes a bit more patience to make.

What you get is a yummy, wholesome, rich, easy-to-make, chocolaty treat. Enough chocolate to help you through the most severe chocolate withdrawals and I’m sure it is totally approved by CA (Chocoholic’s Anonymous). I know it works for me; sometimes I even splurge and toss in a dollop of whipped cream if I’m feeling naughty. So get out your mug, spoon in some good quality cocoa and prepared to be hooked – you won’t regret it.

HOMEMADE SUGAR FREE HOT CHOCOLATE

1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)

1 tsp of vanilla

1 heaping tsp. of cocoa (I use a Dutched blend)

2 tsp of Splenda

In a microwave safe container, heat one cup of skim milk for one and a  half minutes or until piping hot! If you are using almond milk, this step will take longer as you must heat it of half power, it usually takes about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.

While the milk is heating, put the next three ingredients into your mug. You can squish out the cocoa lumps if you like while you are waiting.

When the milk is heated, pour about 2 tablespoons of hot milk on dry mixture and mix well getting out all lumps. This will form a thick chocolaty paste.

Be sure to squish all the big lumps

When you have your lumps out, continue pouring the hot milk over the chocolate mixture. Stir until well blended. Top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows. Enjoy!

Sweet Desserts

The first of a new year always brings about an onslaught of promises to eat better and get more exercise. Along about March, many of us have problems sticking with those promises, especially when it comes to denying our sweet tooth. And frankly, artificially sweetened food with aspartame, only makes us grave real sugar and more carbs.

When my husband and I started our journey to a healthier lifestyle, we too faced the same dilemma with wanting something sweet to satisfy our hunger for sugar.

One night as I was fixing our dinner of lean protein and vegetables, I glanced over at our fruit bowl and noticed that the pears and apples were getting a little past their prime.   An  idea formed, and I got out the cutting board, a casserole dish and some other good ingredients and began to prepare what has become one of our most favorite and satisfying desserts. I chopped the pairs and apples in small bite-size portions and added them to the casserole dish alternately with golden raisins (its what I had, but I like it better with this type), chopped pecans, cinnamon and a small amount of Splenda. I’ve never really measured any ingredients, I just mix it until it looks good!

Make sure your fruit compote is mixed well, if you think it needs it, you can add a little water.

I stirred it all really well and popped it into a 350 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes.

The result was so yummy – kind of like an apple pie with no crust or sugar. And although the fruit does have carbs you need to count (if you are diabetic), it is totally free of processed sugar. Yes, it is true that Splenda is an artificial sweetener, but it is more natural and less harmful than the others. A person could omit this step or use honey (be careful, honey has a lot of sugar grams), but using less than a 1/4 of a cup for the large bowl of fruit is worth it.

When the fruit compote is done, it will be golden brown and the fruit will be soft. Don't overcook or your raisins will burn. If needed, you can cover for the last 15 minutes of cooking.

You can even vary the ingredients if you want, but I’m not sure what other fresh fruit would work well – maybe peaches. Hmm, I’ll have to try that one. I did add dates one time – won’t do that again! I do love dates in cookies, but in this compote, they became mushy and grainy. I didn’t like them in it at all. I’ve also used other nuts like walnuts and almonds – you could use multiple kinds of nuts. But to date, my favorite way of having this delectable treat is with my original recipe.

I make it whenever I have fruit about to go south, and it lasts us about a week or more. Be sure to warm up leftovers a bit, because this is one dish best served heated.

Sugar Free Fruit Compote

2 Apples, chopped

2 Pears, chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

1-2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup Splenda

Mix ingredients alternately and stir until all fruit is well coated with cinnamon. Bake in a 350 oven for 45-60 minutes until tender; stirring every 15 to 20 minutes to prevent top raisins from burning. Allow to cool a bit before serving.

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