Saturday, March 25, 2017

3 Tips to Make Your Easter Easy

oriental trading easter
I received the products in this post free from Oriental Trading.

Easter Sunday is almost here, April 16, 2017. Easter is a fun holiday filled with colored eggs, chocolate rabbits, real live bunnies and a Lamb. Yes, Jesus is who makes Easter special! You may be starting to think about what you'll get the kids and how you'll decorate. I've put together 3 Tips to make your Easter Easy by using products from a trusted friend of mine, Oriental Trading.

Tip #1: Use Filled Easter Eggs for your Community Easter Egg Hunt. Every year our church requests plastic eggs and candy for the hunt. Then, they ask for volunteers to pull the eggs apart and insert the candy. I got smart and you can too! I'm donating these beauties that accomplish many goals including presenting the resurrection story with the colorful wording on and inside the eggs. Easy? I think so.

oriental trading filled eggs

Tip #2: Easter pencils are an easy and useful addition to any Easter Basket. Kids love pencils! They can never have too many. These religiously decorated pencils are eye-catching and also remind children what Easter is all about. Jesus lives!
oriental trading easter pencils

Tip #3. Decorate your space with colorful yard signs. These signs are well constructed with a laminated front and two stakes per sign. Super easy to beautify your landscape for Easter and share the Good News of the gospel. Very visible from a distance too.
bunny signs oriental trading

Enjoy your holiday. Be sure to check out all these Easter items on sale now. Buying in bulk is one more way to save money and make your Easter easy. Please share these 3 Tips to make your Easter Easy with your friends and make their Easter easy too!

Hoppy, hoppy, hoppy,
Tammy
The Happy Hanicap

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Modern-Day Miracle

imuran

Do you want a miracle or a mess is the title of a blog post I published just 35 days ago where I asked  you to help us pray for our dilemma; Steve's medicine costing $852 for a four week month and $1065 for a five-weeker! Thank you for your prayers. We received a modern-day miracle.

Everyone involved has been very sympathetic to Steve's need. Dr. Staton at Emory Clinic has been working hard with Encompass Pharmacy to get the brand Imuran approved. The generic Azathioprine doesn't work for Steve. The cheapest I found Imuran (with an internet coupon) was $213 per week for 30 pills. I bought one week at a time hoping for help soon. Roberta, the nurse at Emory called me every couple of days to give me status updates. Dr. Staton wrote an addendum to the patient file to finally satisfy the insurance company.

Yesterday morning at 8 a.m., I received a call from Envision Drugs that Imuran was approved! Can you hear the Hallelujah Chorus playing in my head? I immediately called the pharmacy. They agreed it was approved with a copay of $450 per month. Good news interrupted with bad. The pharmacy tech quickly informed me they were filing an exception appeal to reduce the cost. I said "Well, I got Steve a grant and it may not be necessary." I gave them the information and guess what?

A Modern-Day MIRACLE!
The pharmacy tech said "I'll fedex the Imuran to your address by this Thursday with a copay of zero dollars!" Yes, that's right, FREE! The grant covered the copay. The grant should cover the copay for the rest of the year. The grant is $9000. Psalm 150:6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord!

How did I do it? Perseverance, tenacity and our Heavenly Father!
  • I called the manufacturer of the drug. The original maker is Glaxo Smith-Kline in Dublin, Ireland. I contacted them on their facebook page. They responded very quickly referring me to their North Carolina office to find out there was no financial assistance or coupons available for Imuran.
  • I called Walgreen's to obtain the manufacturer of the exact pills in Steve's bottle. They were right here in Roswell, GA. Seleba Pharmacy was so rude, so unconcerned, the customer service agent so made me not want to buy their drugs at all .... but my husband needs them.
  • I tried every Google search term I could think of, forward and backward; financial assistance for Imuran, Imuran coupons, discounts for Imuran, pulmonary fibrosis, etc. without any good results. If I did find a lead for his condition, pulmonary fibrosis, it was the wrong kind of fibrosis. Most assistance was for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and his is not idiopathic. Then, there were the financial hurdles to overcome personally or the programs were maxed out.
  • After MANY hours and days of searching, I prayed and asked Jesus for some help.
  • I don't remember what search phrase lead me to a site that I read and re-read, clicked, clicked and clicked some more until I divinely landed (not stumbled) upon a site that had funds available for pulmonary fibrosis. The application process was painless and you know if you are approved when you hit the submit button. 
  • HealthWell Foundation helps individuals afford the medicine they need! There are qualifications and stipulations but thank God, Steve fell into one of their paying categories! Steve received the grant five days before the medicine was approved. Perfect timing!
  • I was so excited to go to Walgreens for his meds last week only to be disappointed. There is one caveat to using the grant money. The grant covers the copay only meaning insurance has to approve and pay first. The money was appropriated and sitting there but couldn't be used because insurance had not approved the medicine.
  • If I can assist anyone with this process, please contact me. 
HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HAL-LE-LU-JAH!
One of my favorite verses, Psalm 37:25 is so true. Trust Him and expect your miracle!

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

squirrel praise

Thanking God for a modern-day miracle,
Tammy
The Happy Handicap

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Do You Want a Miracle or a Mess?

miracle


Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.    - Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

We received terrifying news in March 2012. Steve couldn't breathe well. After  a lung biopsy, the doctor looked us square in the eyes without any compassion and bluntly said "You've got two to five years". Usually, my response would have been something ridiculous like "Two to five years to what? Pay off my car? Make a million dollars? Retire?". But I knew crazy questions were not going to hide the evidence Steve's biopsy revealed; the diagnosis of a deadly form of lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis.

According to the study “Clinical Course and Prediction of Survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis,” median survival of patients who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis is 2.5 years, but some patients live much longer than that. The most common cause of death among patients is respiratory failure. 

God blessed me with some tenacity for a reason! Battling a birth defect for 48 years, me and adversity are tight. Close companions. I have to admit hearing the prognosis I was shaken. Remember my words in October about Milisende?  I can never promise an "unstirred" Tammy but I always promise to seek to discover Christ, my rock and salvation. The One who stills my fears during my fiercest storms...my Fear Whisperer. I began to ask, seek and knock ferociously concerning Steve's disease once I relocated my Anchor and He steadied my boat upright.

The past five years have been a tremendous journey with many ups and then downs and then ups again. Happiness one day and a nauseating sickness in the depths of my soul the next day. I won't even attempt to detail the entire process but I MUST share with you what happened yesterday which I believe started mid-December 2015.

I'm a member of a facebook group whose members have Antisynthetase Syndrome (which caused his pf) like Steve. I befriended one of the admins, really nice guy who was very willing to discuss Steve's medicines and treatment with me. He shared his journey giving me proven tips and advice. His suggestion that rang a bell with me was to obtain "brand" prescriptions for Steve instead of generic. I had previous experience with taking a brand drug (hormone) that worked for me but the generic did not. In fact, this happened to me twice and currently the medicine I use has to be from a certain manufacturer. The supposedly same medicine in the same strength does not have the same effect. I got Steve the brand medicine!

Fast forward to September 2016. Steve had been taking the brand medicine for eight months. His oxygen saturation tests at his doctor visit in September showed improvement. The improvement was so vast, the doctor asked if he still wanted the oxygen. Steve opted for it because he felt breathless.

Steve's insurance changed in September 2016. I called the oxygen company to notify them of the change. They were unconcerned until January 2017 when our balance grew to over $500 due to the insurance change.  Insurance requires a 6-minute walk test without oxygen and with oxygen to approve the charges. Remember the improvement in Steve's oxygen saturation in September? Yesterday, GOD COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED STEVE AND ME!!!

Steve's oxygen saturation during a 6-minute walk did not go below 88%! 87% is the magic number to get oxygen approved. After the test, the doctor came out and spoke with us. "Good News!" he said. Your test today shows YOU DO NOT NEED OXYGEN! Are you willing to call Apria and ask them to come get their bottles? Steve apprehensively said yes. I said aloud "Praise Jesus!".

We are both still a bit rattled but so very thankful to a God who loves and cares for us. Steve is still disabled. He still has a severe lung disease but my oh my, what progress! What a miracle that I give our Heavenly Father all the glory for. Thank you so much for all your prayers and please don't stop interceding on Steve's behalf. Our God is might to save in every way! Now, we have a new challenge that I know God will provide. The new insurance won't pay for the brand medicine. The cost? $1400 a month. That's like nothing for Jesus! Please join us in praying for a quick solution as he's been taking the generic now for a month. These chemo meds take at least eight months to begin working or not working.

We want miracles! Would the walls of Jericho fell if the people had marched around 6 times or 8 times when God said 7? Would Gideon have been defeated if he had not used the men God made lap like a dog? Did David need more than one stone to kill Goliath? I could go on and on with the victories God provides his children. If we want miracles and not a mess, ask and receive, seek and find, knock and walk through God's open glorious door! 

Seeking miracles,
Tammy
The Happy Handicap

The Fear Whisperer

grandkids

Millisende Isabella Epperson
September 30, 2016
5 lb. 13 oz.

My beautiful second grand girl came to see us twelve short days ago. She's a tiny, perfect masterpiece! Her big sister Lisette loves her so much! We are all so excited God trusts us to care for her. She made me a granmom twice but she ultimately belongs to him. I always think I can't possibly love more deeply and then God shows me I can. This article shares a battle I experienced during the gestation of Millisende.

"Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ." - M. Lucado

This quote pretty much sums up my life! Born with a devastating deformity of both feet, I would be lying if I told you I don't fear. I do. Quite a lot. I'm sure my fears don't outnumber yours, mine are just specific to me and yours are specific to you. I feared having a genetic repeat of my deformity when planning for my children. I harbored that same fear with the births of my two granddaughters also. The devil and the doctors caused me to fear with Millisende.

I accompanied Sydnee to her gender reveal appointment. It was a magical day in May as I sat in my car awaiting Syd's arrival at the doctor's office. As usual, I was praying asking God for health and wellness for this baby. I felt confident because my girls and my first granddaughter Lisette are perfect. I finished my prayer thanking God for his many blessings and a voice spoke to me saying "There are worse things than two toes." I said aloud "WHAT?" The speaker said it again. There are worse things than two toes. I was so scared, I couldn't discern who said it. Had God just told me this baby would have problems? I was shaken. Normally, I use God's word to quiet my fears but not today.

After the ultrasound, we needed to buy more pink!  Our happiness was interrupted when the OB doctor informed us of a condition called single umbilical cord (SUC). Millisende had one. Please click the link to read an in-depth explanation. The short version is a "normal" umbilical has one vein and two arteries for food and waste. Milisende's had one vein and one artery which may cause complications. Sydnee began to cry. My head was whirling at his words and I wondered if they noticed my heart on the floor. An appointment was made with a high risk doctor (HRDr).

We all tried to be brave. I'd never heard of such a condition, nor had anyone else I told. Thankfully and if I'd thought about it, God knew everything about SUC. I listened to the HRDr as he explained what could go wrong. He contradicted himself, trying to console us, cooing that these things usually never happen. One week the doc would say she is fine. The next week he'd indicate maybe we should be worried. All the while, I had the words "There are worse things than two toes" ringing in my ears, extremely loudly from an undetermined voice. Roller coasters make me puke and I wanted off of this one.

Now y'all are probably thinking why doesn't Tammy know this is the work of the devil? She's overcome so much. She's strong. She believes God. She writes inspiring news. I'm sharing my experience with you to hopefully help you from falling into the same snare. The devil knew my weakness and he used it against me. And, I let him. I entertained too many of his thoughts without stopping to inspect what he was saying. My mind was like a house of horrors with clowns laughing in my face and mirror images creating confusion. If I had stopped the tilt-a-whirl, I would have immediately recognized the words were not God's. But I didn't. I wallowed.

I tried to remain positive for my family. I hope they never saw my fear although God knew how I was wrangling with the devil. Never engage the devil. My inferior human hands can't fight the enemy and win. Jesus is victorious, allow him duke it out with the devil. My deliverance from my fear came early in the morning about two weeks before Milisende was born. I was crying out to God, acknowledging my fearfulness, asking him to help me. My fear whisperer tenderly reminded me "I am not the author of confusion. I do not cause my children to fear." Absolutely! For sure! You are so right Jesus! Joy and confidence flooded my being.  My heart understood his truthful words. And, he didn't have to say it but once! God won't put me on a roller coaster for fun, especially if it makes me sick! So, as Max Lucado said, "It's not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It's whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ."

I can never promise an "unstirred" Tammy but I can always seek to discover Christ, my rock and salvation. The One who stills my fears during my fiercest storms...my Fear Whisperer.

God tames my fear,
Tammy
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Back to the Basics


My favorite place is in a church. I anxiously await each church visit longing for the security, warmth and peace that envelops me like a warm blanket on a cold day.  Could certainly use that today with the temps at 14 degrees feeling like 7! My home church, First Baptist Chatsworth, is a beautiful building full of beautiful people who love on me and my family as if we are precious jewels. It is no wonder I started my 2017 at Sunday Worship. Will Linginfelter didn't disappoint. He inspired me through God's Word to get back to the basics. The following is my interpretation of his message: 

What do you think of when you hear "Back to the Basics"?

Do you think of a basic wardrobe? I would say basic clothes include black pants or skirt, khaki pants, something navy, a must-have white shirt and who doesn't own a pair of black shoes that goes with everything (I own four basic pairs of white Pumas with different colored stripes that I wear with just about everything). The key to making a basic wardrobe work for your style is the ability to mix and match.

The best basic biscuit recipe I've ever eaten or cooked was given to me by my friend Tony. The recipe has three basic ingredients; flour, butter and buttermilk. He says to knead and roll the dough precisely six times for the best biscuit. The other day I had an idea to knead the dough only once and see what happens. The biscuits didn't rise as high or taste as good. For best results, follow the recipe!

If asked what pops into your head when you hear the word basic, you might say reading, writing and arithmetic or the abc's. Army Basic Training is what I see in my mind. Everyone knows before you become a soldier, you must complete ten weeks of grueling combat and mental training. Many enlistees do not complete the course while others finish and exemplify the branch's slogan "Be All You Can Be!"

Our world accepts and encourages a lot of basics. Some basics are good, some bad, some are forgotten or worse, never known. The Bible explains the basic gospel in John 3:16. What Christian cannot recite the verse by heart? God's Word will never allow us to forget his gift to humanity for everlasting life. God's love for us is the basis for his gift. Jesus is the foundation of Christianity. The basic fact is you must believe in him.

After you become a Christian, what ARE the basics? The Bible has 66 books with 1189 chapters. So how you pick out the simple basics? Matthew 22:37-39 states Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' Two basic commandments that encompasses the entire gospel.

The basic wardrobe of Christianity is love. Can others see you have it on? Do you wear it? The gospel doesn't require a mix and match ability but a daily putting on of the body of Christ. The basic recipe of Christianity is love. Do you prepare it, eat it and serve it to others? For best results, you'll need three ingredients; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The basic training of Christianity is love. Are you trained? Staying the course as a soldier in God's army takes more than ten weeks, it requires a lifetime of devotion and spiritual acuteness. There are enemies on every hand. Loving your neighbor as yourself WILL BE GRUELING at times. But, don't you want to be all you can be, all that Christ wants you to be? Our slogan - "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith"!

Sometimes we have to look at where we came from to get to where we're going. This new year, let's all get back to the basics that rewarded us salvation and freedom. Get back to our first love, Jesus.

Determined to return,
Tammy
The Happy Handicap