Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Oh Health Care Dot Gov....

I write this while on hold yet again to try an fix health care issues...
Healthcare dot gov won't let me go! are they trying to keep their numbers from failing???  Talk about an inefficient system.

In September I cancelled my husbands health care, he has a policy thorough work. I called Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) to take him off so the payment could be adjusted. Customer service could not change our policy I had to go through, Health care dot gov. So I did, I also changed our address LAST SEPTEMBER...  yet our Health care system seems to be fraught with incompetence. I just got forwarded mail from our old address. Oh look it's new cards to a plan I cancelled. Oh look there is one for my husband. Great... Fabulous. I get to call them again... how many hours of my life will this be... 

What we have here is a failure to communicate. If I call the health care dot gov. I will be told it has been changed. Funny tho I changed the address to our new permanent address, yet mail still goes to the old ministry address which is forwarded to the temporary address... the only mail that has not accepted our new address is health care dot gov.  Oh no what will they do when we cancel the P.O. box???

I also called them 3 weeks ago In November when I signed up for a policy through a insurance agent who will bend over backward to help me find the right plan... Can we say none of the health care dot gov plans offer the children hospitals as part of their network? Oh and only one insurance company in the capitalistic DFW marketplace to individuals, offer Children's hospitals.  So here hoping your kid doesn't need surgery if you picked anyone else.   Anyway during that phone call I was told my address had been changed... but then why is mail still going astray!

So I thought today let's cut out the middle man... cause he's out to lunch or asleep at the wheel.. I called BCBS. I explained my problem she said oh look your husband is still on your plan. *sigh* Oh look we don't have your current address. Oh look,  we did sign you ALL up for the plan we picked for you... well at least I can change the address so the bills go to the correct place.   10 minutes later I'm sorry ma'am we have to call health care dot gov... Uh no thank you. Instead I asked if she would be so kind as to pull up the notes (yes I know all the ins and outs of the system!) and type in the following:
Client changed address with health care dot gov in September.
With current address in notes...
Client took her husband off the policy in September.
Client set the current plan to end on 12/31/15
Client is not happy you cancelled the PPO's

She told me to have a nice day... I told her I didn't hold her responsible for incompetent government programs.

How does this build trust with me as a consumer?  I have this feeling of dread that I will get a bill from BCBS for this plan, I did not pick, nor I did sign up for. I will not pay said bill but they will keep sending one to me until health care dot gov gets with the program.   How can it be this poorly managed???  Three months after I have made changes to my application the company is still covering my husband!!! It's a mess for him and prescriptions.

I'd also like to point out BCBS cancelled my plan then moved me to another one which is a HMO, and assigned me a new doctor. All well and good in that I'll be covered if my head is in the sand and I'm not paying attention.  Yet I am paying attention, I don't know this Doctor, yes she is with a group I have visited... yet they are over 50 miles away... Hello incompetent system... how can they even assign me a doctor in my area if they can't change my address. I'd also like to point out I'm not keeping my doctor... I don't get to keep my doctor, I don't even get to keep my government insurance plan.  I like this compilation of "You get keep your doctor:"

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The "Polish" Cookie

My Grandma made these cookies and they were always a Christmas treat, eagerly awaited, and consumed immediately if Mom didn't hide them.  They were always called "Polish Cookies" although in my homeschooling journey I have discovered them to be a type of Haman's Hats/Ears... a Jewish cookie.  Now ages past,  I had my moms recipe and somewhere over the years I completely substituted this recipe. Mind you I think I called my Polish Grandma, and she recited it from memory.  It is nowhere near the recipe my dad shared with me as "moms."  Maybe grandma had more than one? Moms recipe certainly is more economical. (Hers contains yeast.)  You can buy Solo canned filling, but I usually only buy the poppy seed (if I can to find it here in TX).  The rest of the fillings are so easy to make and don't contain any high fructose corn syrup. I just whip them up as I need them.

Polish Cookies:
Makes approximately 100-120 small cookies Time 2-3 hours.  

Apricot/ Nut / Prune (bit less water for Prune) 
3/4 cup dried apricots/ nuts / prunes
2 T water
2 T honey (if you have honey that has crystalized, use it.)  
2 T sugar 
Blend until smooth 

See I told you it was easy...
Now I will tell you the apricot cookies get eaten first, then nut, and then prune/poppyseed. I make about 2/3 more apricot ones to balance the scarfing eating. Some family members when queried as to type to send, only asked for apricot this year. 

1 stick Butter (cold) 
8oz Cream Cheese (full fat) None of this low fat stuff here this is Christmas! 
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Four. 

Powdered Sugar just get out the whole bag... you won't need all of it maybe... 

Creation: Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, add the flour till a soft dough is formed.

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP---> Place dough in a bowl and cover put in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F  Take out only 1/4 of the dough, leave the dough in fridge unless working with it. Roll out on a thick layer of powdered sugar. As you roll it out Do Not Skimp on the powdered sugar, on top or under the dough. This dough, once it gets warm gets mushy and is hard to work with (but the cookies! Oh yum, the cookies).  Roll out to 1/8 inch thick and square up the dough. Make as many 1" squares as you can (25-30 is normal, roll it out thin). Dab 1/4 of the teaspoon of filling in the center. Use filling sparingly as it spreads and makes a mess on the pans if you use lavish amounts. 

Pinch opposite corners of the square together and place cookie on greased paper, or a Silpat. Bake for 15-20 minutes Start at 15 if the cookies are not browning cook a wee bit longer, you may need more time if you use a Silpat. 

You can re-roll the edges of the dough if you chill them and are careful but in this house considering the dough contains no yeast, & no raw eggs... little mouths stop by and vacuum up the scraps. 
Which keeps me from eating it. 

Let cool on a wire rack 

Sorry, No finished photo. The kids ate them all. 

Before serving/shipping toss them in MORE powdered sugar. 

You are free to eat! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Frugal Christmas Wreath

Well  I love decorating for Christmas and when I was a child someone taught my mom how to make Christmas wreaths. I used to watch, occasionally I even helped her.  I learned how to do it myself.  If you can, you want to wax the string. I can't find my wax... and we don't get horrible winters here so the yarn I have here will work.  This wreath cost me mainly nothing but time. I had all the stuff on hand and I sent my child off to the creek to bring me back an armful of evergreen. Sadly it was cedar so my hands got itchy and my nose ran, but once I was done, I recovered quickly. 

So tools you need you are pictured here: 
Wire cutters
1 wire hanger
An armful of evergreen 
(Ribbon and decorations if you like.) 

I started By cutting off the hook. You can just shape into a circle and keep the hook to hang the wreath with, but since I plan on giving this one away I took the hook off. 

Make a circle with the wire, and use the pliers to twist it together.  

Grab a bundle of evergreen and use a a loop or slip knot, tighten it down without breaking the string. 
Do at least 2 slip knots for every bundle, then wrap well to secure them to the wire frame. 

you can use a bunch of slip knots or just wrap the bundle tightly. 

Overlap the bundles so the string is not visible. 

This is the size bundle I was using, about a handful. 
Too much and it becomes hard to manage to small and you make lots of knots. 

Just keep adding until you get close to the edge. 

Be sure as you get close to finishing, not to trap the original bundle 

The last bundle is more difficult as you have to seat it under and close to the first bundle. 

Looks like I need one more for it to be look right,
 Lets squeeze one more in there. 

This is what the back looks like 

Trim off any areas that are crazy "out there". 

Or are headed in the wrong direction.

I added some left over fabric from a Halloween costume. 

And I'm done. 

Cost to me about 10 cents worth of yarn and one coat hanger 
Time: about 30 minutes. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dear Homeschool I'm Tired...

Well in this year of massive transition and horribleness, you know death, moving and shunning add to that moving to a house that is fantastic,  except when it rains more than 1 inch. Then the toilets don't flush... Did I mentions we had 7 inches of rain on Thanksgiving when 9 people were in the house.  It's been difficult fighting feelings of despair have I wasted the last 12 years at GFA, and the whole starting over thing.

But my children's education is tantamount to me.  It's so important to equip them for life. I have one that I can give the guide to and she charges ahead, stops asks for help when she needs it, and brings me the read aloud and the math book when it time to do the teacher lead subjects.  Homeschooling her is so easy.

Then I have the child who drives me to the back yard where I pull out my hair and do a few primal screams before calmly entering the living room declaring her grounded until all school has been caught up.

I'm seriously contemplating putting the iPod in the safe for a year, maybe forever.  She broke our internet rules and lost texting for a month. We still had issues where she was glued to her screen but she was a nicer more positive child that interacted normally with her family.  She got texting back on Monday. Knowing back to school after a holiday is hard, I said she could just do "some school" a few subjects, just do half a day, Honi.  I had a guest here and she and I spent lots of time catching up on our lives. The next day I told Sweet Potato to finish what was left of her school. Circumstances beyond my control caused me to be gone from home from 11-3 On Tuesday. I totally got hosed by this child. She told me she "finished" I trusted her... I was tired from driving for basically 4 hours and I lay down for a short nap that never manifested, the septic guy came by to tell me my back yard is too wet for them to put in the new system. *roll eyes.* You woke me up to tell me your not going to do anything yet???

Wednesday morning I discovered much to my horror, my daring daughter had partially completed only 3 subjects.  So following the therapists advice we sat together and ordered her school subjects one fun, one not so fun, and so on and so forth. She was supposed to be doing this on her own but obviously she was not doing it.  I always find these behavior modification things never work long term with this child.  I keep trying them mainly to prove to the therapist they don't work.  She didn't finish catching up... so Yesterday we sat together and I asked her to order the subjects, fun, not fun. Hey look Child It's your choice you are choosing what and when to do yourself, be the responsible captain of your ship! woo hoo...  Looking at the list last night at first glance it looked like she only had 2 subjects left on the back log... I was wrong she had reordered her list She came in today and asked if she could orally do heath instead of writing them down... Ok I though, but heath was Number 2 yesterday is she on todays work maybe??? Please... HOPE! It sprung a leak a few minutes later when I came out to check on her progress and saw she was not on today's work... really looking hard at the list I see she reordered the list and did all the "fun" subjects yesterday leaving 4 un-fun as back log subjects. Hence the primal screaming in the back yard. 

The last few days she has been stuck in her chair all day "catching up" I have to check on her constantly, if she lacks oversight work grinds to a halt and the application daydream is loaded.  Ugh!  Child you are too old for me to be dictating your life! You resent it, I resent it. It makes me so sad to see her needing this constant pressure from outside to do the right thing.  I really, really, really want her to self start, enjoy her free time, not get distracted.  Yet if we make a schedule together, she does it for 3 weeks or less and abandons it as boring. If we make a magnet check list together for her to move and be happy things are done by herself daily...  2 days into it I'm nagging her to do it and it's not followed either.  Here to is another failed behavior modification program.  At this point in school were still as far behind as we were on Tuesday morning and I will have be chained to her chair to make her catch up. It is not fair to the other people in the house for me to be so completely consumed with one member unless they are in the hospital...  child you are not in the hospital you are strong, smart, and able

I do not understand when she is set up for success, for self-direction, for trust to be built, for me to praise her socks off. She sabotages herself  EVERY SINGLE TIME.  I did this as a child too, I am not without compassion. I had to figure it out, I had to decide to stop being a jerk, to decide to get my act together because I didn't like Mom telling me every single thing to do. Once I figured it out things went better Mom stopped being a pain to me mainly because I stopped being a ornery child.   She has not had that a-Ha moment. *sigh*

I'm tired. There I said it. I'm tired of the constant nagging, I'm tired of how she sabotages herself. I'm tired of "making her" get an education. I'm tired of not exercising because I have to sit with her, I'm tired of the constant supervision of a child that should be learning to drive and developing her independence.  I'm tired of having to Mom Ground her and taking all the fun stuff out of her life. I'm so very tired.

I'm not going to give up on her, I'm just admitting this part of the journey feels like Joy dragging Sadness along behind her in the movie Inside Out.  Maybe the daydreaming Elephant can find a Rocket ship wagon for me to pull her long in.  Oh look she's been in the bath room for at least 20 minutes while I wrote this blog, time to go see if she fell in. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Decelerated Trust

So much to process. I woke up thinking about how GFA is trying so hard to hold on.  I feel for them, I want the ministry to function again but I fear it will not.  Gayle nails it that KP has a scorched earth policy. 
  1. Your response was and still is a “scorched-earth” approach that is willing to burn down anyone and anything in the way of your own conclusions and status.  
    (From a letter he wrote to KP which you can read in it's entirety on Pathos)
When I had the opportunity to meet the founder of Hope for the Heart, she used gentle words but she said much the same thing.  I'm paraphrasing here but we talked about how in a spiritually abusive situation the abuser will bring someone under his wing. Will raise them up, give them favor, and then one day they will not fade away, or move on, but rather crash and burn in a ball of flame. Here again we see that reality, Gayle speaks of it in his letters to KP found at This link at Patheos. KP claimed when J.D. left he would always be "a part of the GFA family."  maybe he was really saying it this way "apart from the GFA Family." 

Gayle Erwin Resignation  is dated October 3rd. From GFA's CC letter  posted October 28th 
In retrospect, we realize that we have should have sought experienced outside counsel at times to help us in dealing with the complexities that come with a ministry of our size. To strengthen our ministry and further improve our processes, we are working hard toward becoming eligible to re-apply for ECFA. GFA’s eight board members are standing strong and aiding the ministry in these matters.

The above excerpt has been getting on my nerves for a awhile now. Firstly Gayle Erwin resigned on October 3rd, Who replaced him? How did they get 8 board members if one resigned over the fact his voice, his concerns were not heard! The Diaspora warned them, Gayle warned them, one of the staff that quit after the "talk to the hand" Response Letter to The Diaspora also warned them to seek outside help. It is all so disingenuous.

Last November my husband and I listened to Stephen Covey Jr's books in the car ride to my brothers house.  He got so excited about these ideas that while we were at a gas station he emailed the contact person over at Speed of Trust and asked him about materials. Within 15 minutes the company had called My Knight in Shining Armor back and was sending him all the documents to be able to share these ideas with a larger group. At no charge!  Free! They want healthy work environments for people.

Look at our naivete we actually thought we could foment change  at GFA from the bottom up. We discussed how different GFA would be if it had a trust based working environment. We were excited about the possibilities of being people who could help cut through the miasma of control. The culture that GFA had become was no longer a great place to work. Our desire was to see change, for trust, and grace to grow. Tom offered up this idea to KP.  Lets introduce the book (from the leadership library) in a seminar format to all co-ordinators and senior leaders.  KP suggested he do it at the General Assembly.  My husband then put together a shortened version of the ideas in the Speed of Trust and took it with him.   While at the General Assembly it was never mentioned. When he returned it was not implemented. It was just a carrot on a stick.

KP says "What a good idea!" to your face but then inhibits the action, it smacked of manipulation. We did not want to leave our beloved ministry. We wanted it to grow, change, develop. I have said it before it is like GFA is in it's adolescence. I now think GFA is in arrested development. No organization functions well without change, growth, moving with the times. If a ministry today relied on news papers and letters in our digital age they would fail. If you keep acting like it's a Mom and Pop shop when you have 100 franchises your business will fail.  Micro managing, not trusting people leads to more work, not less.

I sit and wonder has the massive exodus of staff this year caused leadership to trust where they would not normally trust? This could be a healthy thing that allows growth, but is this growth like a forced bulb in a hot house... if you expose it to the realities of the weather will it shrivel up and turn black?  Sadly I do not think an environment of grace and trust can abound at this time.  Unless they truly move forward get help they speak of the in the CC letter. Remove people who cannot change, adjust the thinking of those in leadership and perhaps change the core value "Reaching the lost at any cost." to the one in India that is softer which can be found here...  oh look the GFA india site is down for maintenance.  Can we say the USA is now blocked from seeing what is happening on the India website.  Way to build trust and show transparency in a digital age GFA! Or we can give them the benefit of the doubt and say its truly is down for maintenance.  But wait I have a screen shot from Believers Church.  See how the Core Value #9 is Being a people with passion for souls.  A very different message from reaching the lost at any cost.

My hearts cry is still Yahweh-Rapha.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Gayle Erwin

My head is exploding, my heart is full of such bitter sweet emotions I'm feeling so much pain, so much loss, and yet Joy.  So much pain could have been avoided.

On Throckmorton today there are piles of links to documents I have so wanted to read.  Here are 2 that have brought me to tears.

Gayle Erwin’s report to GFA as assigned
Gayle Erwin’s Letter of Apology to GFA Diaspora Spokesperson J.D. Smith

So tonights blog is for Gayle Erwin 

Dear Gayle,
I saw you in the cafe the day you were here investigating GFA. I desperately wanted to speak to you about our pain and how we had been stunned at K.P.'s intrusiveness in our lives. I hung around cleaning things in the Fellowship Hall hoping you would be free from K.P's presence for a few minutes. I finally gave up. Maybe you saw 2 ladies in the parking lot one crying uncontrollably on the shoulder of the other. The one crying would be me, I felt so hopeless that day. My friend K held me but had no answers for me.

Later on you sat behind me while K.P. yelled his prayers for "staff to only follow Jesus, and not him," tears pouring off his face "repenting."  I watched as K.P. never left your side.  I would have loved to pray with you, to get you alone for one minute, but how could I?  I was unwilling to destroy my husbands standing in the ministry at that time.

I hoped you would find that somethings but not all, were true.  I hoped you would recommend an apology. I so desired my beloved ministry to be all it claimed to be, but I feared for it. I feared that the man in charge had a deep trauma that was causing this inability to let go of control, and allow others to take the reigns. I feared... that in and of itself spoke volumes to me. I feared we were in the hands of a master manipulator and that lies and half truths abounded.

I understand your hope for change. I to I hoped for true repentance, for true change, for truth to win out.

You lost my respect the day the response to The Diaspora came out.  I too, liked the reconciliation part, but the rest of it... Oh Gayle it sounded like a petulant child saying "talk to the hand." I do want you to know I never believed you wrote that letter, its voice was a mix of GFA's leadership voices. I was horrified that a lie was published for the world at large about the "services" being a bible study.  It was a confirmation to us that we could no longer be a part of GFA.  Integrity drew me to GFA and it was a lack of integrity that drove me to my knees begging God to give my husband a job elsewhere.

Gayle I read the Jesus Style in my teens, you have profoundly impacted me to see the world with eyes of love.  It hurt so deeply to see your name on a letter I could not believe you wrote. It hurt to see your name dismiss our friends pain.

I want to say how profoundly relieved and glad I am. Your apology to the Diaspora brought tears to my eyes. I want to say I thank you. I want to say "You are Man Enough for God." I cannot thank you enough for bringing to light the truth. For standing up and choosing to be counted, I understand your hope and your desire to wait and see. I too desire GFA to stop, repent and make the changes required, the apologies required. I'm not rejoicing over the PR nightmare this will become for GFA, yet I rejoice that you are standing in the light.  Thank you for being the man I thought you were.
In Christ,