Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Amazon Subscribe and Save- Updated August 28, 2013

We all want to save money and remove stress from our lives (right?).  One of the ways I do this is by shopping through Amazon Subscribe and Save.  Not everything is a great deal.  But there are some REALLY great deals.  Especially if you clip a coupon.



Subscribe and Save are groceries or other items that are shipped right to your door (for free!).  If you order more than 5 items a month, you get a 20% discount.

I compare the prices to what I am being charged at the store and everything I buy via S&S beats Wal-Mart and Target, the two stores I shop most often.  If I get a coupon, SCORE!  Plus, I don't have to schlep it all to the car and then into the house in the Texas heat.

You can find out if an item is available for S&S by looking at the right hand side of the page, there you can choose how often you would like a delivery and how many units you want.  Don't forget that you will save 20% later!

Here are some things that I have shipped to my house through Subscribe and Save:

HEALTH & BEAUTY

Elnett hairspray.  (This is the BEST hairspray I've ever used and it lasts forever.)

Pantene Ice Shine Shampoo and Conditioner

Huggies Wipes 600 Count

D-Mannose Capsules (I use these supplements to help keep UTIs at bay)

Tampax Pearl

Crest 3D White Toothpaste  (I get asked nearly every day if I whiten my teeth- I don't- this is all I use!)

Pantene Pro-V Split End Fixer

NOW Foods Almond Oil

Old Spice Men's Deodorant

NOW Foods Lavender Oil (I get the 4 oz size)

NOW Foods Peppermint Oil

NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil

HOME

Seventh Generation Dish Liquid Free and Clear

Downy Unstopables Scent Booster

Kleenex

Angel Soft Toilet Paper

Cottonelle Toilet Paper (I know, more TP but it was a great deal with the coupon, and variety isn't a bad thing!)

Swiffer Dusters (I love these!)

Dr. Collins Eco Toothbrushes

GROCERY

Clif Crunch Granola Bars, white chocolate macadamia nut flavor

Clif Crunch Granola Bars, blueberry crisp flavor

Reese's Puffs Cereal

Annie's Homegrown Organic Ravioli 

Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil

Gluten Free Bisquick Baking Mix

Chewy Granola Bars, peanut butter chocolate chip

Barilla Mezze Penne

Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

V8 Fusion Juice Boxes

Amazing Grass Superfood Powder (this was recommended to me by my Aunt, who says it is great in smoothies and gives her lots of energy- it's true, I love it!  We get it in all three flavors)

Almond Nut Thins

Suddenly Pasta Salad

Golden Crisp Cereal

Moist and Meaty dog food

POPChips Variety Pack

Juicy Juice

Nylabone Dog Bones

Whole Grain Goldfish


There are SOOOOO many other great deals depending on what you need!  What are your favorite ways to save money on your grocery bill?  What do you purchase most often on Amazon?


PS.  I do not have all of this delivered every month.  I stagger it based on how much I will use over the course of time.  What I love about S&S is that I can always cancel or delay an order if I won't need it as soon as I thought.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

13 Uses For Tea Tree Oil


This past year, a good friend of mine introduced me to using essential oils for natural remedies.  (You can read her new blog here- she has just started a new adventure in farm living!)

Since then, I feel like I am surrounded by the benefits of essential oils!  So many friends have told me that EOs have kept them from the doctor time and time again.  The cost of the oils is definitely offset by the savings from costs of medications and dr visits.  I now use them daily.

Personally, I use lavender, peppermint, almond and tea tree.  I hope to add more to my life as I find out the benefits and have need.  The best brand that I have found is NOW Foods and I buy all of mine on Amazon. I added links to the names above for easy shopping.  I have them auto shipped to my house and save 20% by doing so!  These are the best deals I have found on good essential oils.

I recently read this short and informative article on 13 uses for tea tree oil and I had to share!  It's a great way to get started.  I hope to post more about the oils I use because they are SO awesome.  (I do NOT recommend using canola oil on your skin like step #2 advises.  Try olive oil instead.)

What is your favorite way to use essential oils?


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Degrees Of Separation

I was browsing a college catalog.  Trying to figure out what to do with my life.

Me: "Hey John, there are so many degrees available!"
John: "Mmmhmm."
Me: "I will read a list of all the ones I think are interesting and you give me feedback on what you think of them for me.  Ok?"
John: ""
Me: "Okay!  Accounting!"
John: ""
Me: "No to accounting!
John: "That's what I thought."
Me:  "Railroad operator!"
John: ""
Me:  "OK, NO TO THAT TOO."
Me: "Firefighter."
John: "No."

(A REAL NO!  PROGRESS!)

In the end "we" found quite a few things that I might actually be good at.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Simple Compliment

I used to be a serial store complainer.

I am not an unkind person but I never hesitated to call or go in and say "This is the problem I had in your store today."

Fast-forward to a few years ago, and little ears and eyes and hearts began following all I do.  Every phone call to a restaurant or a store was being monitored by my little sponges and I thought, "How often do they hear me call an establishment with compliments?"

So I made a decision.  Every time I had great service, I would call or email.  I would compliment more businesses than I criticized.

The first time I tried this out, it was a fast food restaurant.  They actually got my order wrong, but the man at the drive through window had been very friendly.  I pulled out my phone and dialed the number on my receipt.  I said "May I speak to a manager please?"  The woman sounded stressed immediately, and on guard.  She said "I'm the manager, what's wrong?"  I said "Nothing's wrong, I just wanted to compliment the young man at the window, he was very friendly and is an asset to the restaurant."  She perked up and said "Oh!  Wow, thank you for calling."

I bet people get tired of getting nonstop complaints.  This is a small way I have found to grow a bit, set a good example for the littles and maybe make someone smile.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

***Updated January 2014 with AWESOME NEWS!



This recipe is soooooo simple.  Get a container.  I found a dry goods container with lid at Walmart for less than five bucks!  Everything pictured above is available at Walmart, except for the 2 containers of "Oxyclean" which I got from Dollar Tree.  The Downy is optional, it adds scent.  If you don't want scent, skip that ingredient!

The last batch I made lasted me from October 2012 to June 2013...so 8 months- and I spent less than $20 on the ingredients, and my clothes are clean and fresh.  

You'll need: 

2 boxes Borax
2 bars Zote soap***
1 box baking soda
1 box Super Washing Soda
2 containers of Dollar Tree "Oxyclean" (save the scoops inside, you'll want them later!)
1 Scent addition (Purex crystals, Downy unstoppables, Gain, etc)  OPTIONAL
Cheese grater***
Container

Instructions:

1.  Unwrap Zote soap and leave out to dry for 24 hours (this makes it so much easier to shred).***
2.  Mix all dry ingredients together.  I used a paint stirrer, but anything will work.
3.  Using a cheese grater, grate the Zote soap.  ( I got a grater at Dollar Tree that I keep in the laundry room and use only for making laundry soap). ***
4.  Stir again and you are done!

I use the "Oxyclean" scoop to measure my soap and use two scoops per load.  I wash most of my laundry on 'cool' and have no problems with the soap bits not melting.

***The Zote soap is now available in AFFORDABLE AND EASY flakes!  PRAISE GOD.  When I saw this box at Walmart, I danced.  Literally danced.

 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finding The Joy

A question was posed recently that got me thinking: is happiness a choice?

I struggled with this question. I think I have my answer. It may change in a year or six months or five minutes, but I think it's this, at its most basic...

Sometimes you don't have to find the joy, life is great and everything is sparkly and joy abounds. You see everything grand, right in front of you. You don't have to choose happiness, you are there. You are Julie Andrews twirling on a mountaintop like a lunatic happy. The sun is shining and your kids are healthy and happy and life is GOOD.

Then sometimes you pause in the middle of a storm and have to look for the ray of sunshine. Your son is in the hospital. Someone you love has hurt you. You're exhausted. And in these moments, when you search for the joy, you find it in your daughter's little nose (perfect for kissing!), or the feel of a dog rubbing up against your leg. The smell of a new candle. Your son's sparkly blue eyes. Your husband bent over a game with your kids. A flower that has just bloomed. A really crisp, juicy apple. Life is GOOD because these things were always there. You just had to look for them and at them and stop looking at the problem as making your life BAD.

These things are there in rain or shine, but sometimes we have to push aside some clouds to see it all clearly.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are You Listening?



A stranger approached me at the store recently and said she had something she felt like she was supposed to tell me. One by one she began encouraging me in things that she couldn't have known have been on my heart and mind. She might not have known I needed that, but God did!

What if she hadn't been listening to that inner voice?  What if she had paused and thought "No, that will sound too weird.  It will be embarrassing."

What if I hadn't been willing to hear from her?  We make up reasons all the time to disregard what someone says.

I'm glad she was open to God speaking.  I hope that I am.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Start Journal #1


I won't share every part of the Start Experiment, but I wanted to share today's assignment, which was to start a journal and list things I would like to accomplish today.  

This is a huge time of change for our family and this project came right when I needed the boost.  I love the encouragement and accountability.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's In A Name?



I think we can all agree- names are important.  We've all heard funny but (hopefully) untrue stories about twins named Orangejello and Lemonjello and there are other, not funny at all, true stories about children being burdened with worse names than that.

Your name is one of the first gifts given to you by your parents.  The things we speak over our children are so important, why would their name not be part of that?  We choose to speak life and encouragement and good things over our kids.  We will be calling them this name countless times.  It matters.

So today, I had a parenting smackdown moment where I realized I had been doing something I didn't want to do.  And I hadn't even realized it.

I was sitting with Philip and I said, "I love you, ______ _______ ______ (first, middle, last names)".

He looked at me in surprise and asked "Am I in trouble?"  I said "No, why would you think that?"

He replied "Because you usually only use my whole name when you're upset."

WOW.  This name that John and I prayed over and excitedly whispered about and that I drew surrounded in loops and hearts on every scratch pad around the house for months- he associates with trouble!

I definitely want to find a new attention getting phrase for when my kids need a warning.  Their name was a gift and is too special to be used in that way! 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Perils of Pinterest #2

I solemnly swear...to tell you when I have tried something found on Pinterest or online that doesn't work.  Or, does work.  But in this case, didn't.



I tested out an Internet 'beauty tip' that has been floating around. I will save you some time. Black tea will not give your skin a 'tanned' effect. I soaked in a tub full of coffee and black tea for a half hour. The results: I smelled really good. My tub got a ring. I was still pale. Thankfully, the price of this experiment wasn't too STEEP.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA, get it?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New- Free Trial Of Amazon Prime!!!

Why do I love Amazon Prime?  Over 40,000 free movies and TV shows, free books through the lending library and FREE two day shipping with no minimum purchase!  We have been Prime customers for a long time and it is worth every penny.  AND, I just found out they are offering a FREE trial!  Check it out here!



Monday, July 8, 2013

Are You Ready For An Adventure?

Author Jon Acuff recently put out a call for people wanting to take a risk and go on an adventure.

I answered.

I have been wondering recently what I am supposed to do with my life.  The kids will be going to school in the Fall and it finds me unemployed and home alone.  Should I go back to school?  Try to find a job?  Finding a job gets tricky with Philip's medical issues and their school schedule, but there are things I could do...

Anyhow.  I am ready to take some risks and go on an adventure.  I don't know what it means yet, but I'm excited.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Don't Wait.

If you have a difficult decision to make, and know you have to make it, don't wait.

Don't have days or weeks or decades of pain and difficulty to spare yourself a little bit of discomfort now.

In fifty years, will you be stuck in your situation, wishing you had just done it?   Or will you be so blissfully free and joyful and peaceful that you won't even remember that you'd had this painful decision to make?

Do you think it's too late?  It isn't.  It is never too late to live the life you were called to live.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Debby Berry and Eric Berry

This isn't the norm for my blog and it is the last I'd like to talk about it, but I need somewhere to say what I have to say and I think this is the place to do it so that whoever needs or wants to find this will.

My mother is a secretive person.  I don't have a whole lot of information about the early years because I was too young to form my own memories and she has always held pretty much everything she didn't want to share close to the vest.  Information is metered out very carefully by Debby.  I do know that she was married twice before I was in elementary school.  She wasn't close to her family and once my father's family had several run ins with her that showed her character, there was animosity between them.

I was raised by a series of nannies.  I can't say that my mother made my elementary or toddler years horrible because I have almost no memories of her during this time.  There are some moments that stick out to me- like the fact that she had a habit of saying "I love you" in response to me saying it first, and whenever she left off the 'too' it was because she said that she didn't think I really loved her when I said it, so saying 'too' would be disingenuous.  All of the memories aren't bad.  My mother traveled a lot and one of my fondest memories is that she always left me a series of greeting cards for the nanny to give me.  That's probably my best memory of my mother.  It was really special and I'm glad I have it.

It is the later years that I really began to see my mother for who she was.  You can hide from the world for a while, but you can't hide from God or the people you live with.  It started when she was fired from her job with Larry Flynt for "misappropriation of funds".  She told me that she quit because she had gotten saved.  But six months after getting saved, she was quoted in People magazine in defense of Larry Flynt.  Immediately, she began talking about making it big in the Christian world.  She knew there was a lot of money and notoriety to be had.  She looked for book deals and talked about hosting a talk show some day on one of the Christian television networks.  Meanwhile not a lot changed at home or in her professional life.

I was still being raised by nannies, and her newest venture was to help out a friend of hers with his hair product business.  We had so much of this man's product that my mother was still using it last I saw her.  Hearing his story recently, she not only took all this product with her but she also emptied his bank accounts.  That ended her work there abruptly and we moved in with my grandparents in Northern California, and my mother went to work for my grandfather at his church.

Not long after, my mother decided that money was to be made in the church finance business, and that Texas was the place to do it. A few months later, my mother packed me up in the middle of the night and took me to a hotel.  There was a warrant out for her arrest.  She told me it was a misunderstanding and that the arresting officer told her to flee so she wouldn't be arrested even though she's innocent.  That made sense to an eleven year old.  Now I realize how implausible that is.  We drove to Oklahoma and stayed with a relative.  I didn't return to school or get to say goodbye to my friends.  I went to three different schools in three different states for sixth grade.  My mother started a travel agency in Kansas shortly after.

When I was thirteen and about to start high school, my mother announced that we were moving to Louisiana.  I'd never heard of it or been there.  I was supposed to go live with my father that summer but she told me that there were laws in Louisiana that would keep me with her, and that I should tell him I would take him to court if he tried to take me.  She told me that my salvation was at stake because he did not ascribe to the same faith as she or I did.  This scared me.  To my regret, I never went to live with my Dad and I said and did some hurtful things during this time, out of fear.

My mother began acting very distant around this time and I didn't see much of her.  I found out that she was dating a man (Eric Berry) over the phone.  He was overseas and was on the lam from the law.  He couldn't answer questions about where he was because he was afraid that our phones were tapped.  He said it was all a big misunderstanding.  Within three months, they were engaged.  We met him the month of the wedding.  He didn't have a job and has not in the sixteen years since due to what he owes in taxes and also what my mother owes.  She does not have a typical job either.  She consults and is 'self employed'.  I later found out that he barely escaped prison time in a financial scheme and that's why things were so weird over the phone. Once he moved in, I was not allowed to answer the phone or answer the door.  We screened all calls through the answering machine.  He was also running from his ex wife (number one of four) to whom he owed money according to the courts.


Debby and Eric decided to get into the sports medicine business.  Debby claimed that God had given her a miracle formula.  It was made of tea tree oil and emu oil.  We all went on the road to sell it to sports teams and massage therapists.  It was majorly expensive.  I was not in school after the age of fifteen, so I went with them.  I was often their test subject and was subject to embarrassing and invasive public displays.  I had major health concerns that were treated at home painfully and with this miracle formula.  This enterprise didn't make much money though and within two years was defunct.

Debby was still invested in becoming rich and famous.  For a while, she thought I was the key.  She bought me a .com and encouraged me to spend my time writing and getting my name out there.  I actually appreciate it now because I love to write and blog.  But I had and have no interest in fame.  She told me that my brand would be known all over the world.  I remember one day, she asked me to gather my favorite things.  She shipped them off to a factory in Mexico to be replicated for 'my brand'.  (I never got them back).  She told me to start dreaming and planning for my US Tour.  I was a kid.  I had no idea then how unreal all of this was.

If Debby and Eric weren't traveling, they were out to lunch or dinner or shopping, and I was left at the 'travel agency' to answer phones.  I traveled with them often, but just as often, I was left at home alone- a lot from the ages of 14-17.  When they were home, they were in their bedroom and office watching television.  It was very hard to get their attention to talk to them about anything.

I remember the night I tried to tell them about my sexual assault.  They were watching TV and I had tried to get their attention.  I was so nervous.  I remember that I was eating a hamburger and I was so afraid and shattered, and nobody was listening- and I was shaking so badly that I dropped the burger and from then on there was a big mustard stain on the carpet.

I was reeling from the assault and aftermath and was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of fourteen.  My mother was determined that this also would make us famous.  She talked about the books we would write and the speeches we would give.  I was barely able to cope with my daily life, I couldn't begin to fathom trying to get famous off of my pain.  She pushed me to talk about it openly and often and to be a pillar of strength about it.  I wasn't ready but I tried.

When I was fifteen, I met John.  He saw what my home life was like and he saw how much I was struggling with what had happened to me.  I was severely depressed and suicidal.  After some time, he approached my mother and tried to talk to her about getting me some help.  She was furious with him and told him he was not welcome in my life.  That she was a great mother and she knew what I needed more than he did.

I left home at seventeen.  I thought I was free.

The interesting thing about me leaving home was that I'd been collecting boxes and packing my things for a few months by the time I actually left.  We had a very small house, and neither Debby or Eric noticed my behavior.  I was ready to go at a moment's notice and was able to pack all of my things into John's truck and leave undetected.

I got married and started a family and went off to college.  My husband and I distanced ourselves from Debby and Eric to try and get our own footing and to try and escape the crazy.  I felt a lot of pressure, especially from family, to try and mend things.  I thought that things would be different now that I was an adult with my own family and that I owed it to my children to try and have a relationship with their grandparents.

This was a huge mistake.

During our estrangement, Debby had started blogging online about her hurting heart and when that gained her a lot of followers and sympathy.  She saw a market out there and began to talk to me about organizing a book and a tour about difficult mother daughter relationships.

Within months of reuniting. I found out that Debby and Eric had only gotten themselves deeper into financial schemes.  They were featured on 60 Minutes for defrauding churches.  But they never stopped trying to work 'deals' and scams.  Debby got involved in the Hurricane Katrina response and I remember that she had so much stuff hoarded that she had an empty office full of toys and clothing that never managed to get to the intended recipients.  Some of it did.  Due to the aftermath of the 60 Minutes show, Debby began consulting more to build up some credibility.  The 'deals' on the back side never ended though.  I stopped telling her when we had stored up any amount of money for any reason, because she always 'needed' it.  She took money from me and hundreds of thousands from friends and strangers and got mixed up with fraudulent Forex trading.  She lost everything again.  This is a recurring theme.  She and Eric never hold anything in their names so that it cannot be seized.


This is all mostly business that I am sharing.  It's the part that I think will help people the most to know when deciding whether or not to do business with Debby and Eric Berry.  There is so much more that could be said.  Life was a misery.  Our family lived in constant fear and chaos.  Manipulation ran rampant.  A family member joined my husband and I in trying to reach out to them many times, according to the Biblical ways to confront a brother or sister in Christ.  We wanted to go to leaders at the churches Debby and Eric attended, but Debby did not believe in counseling and she did not want to be embarrassed.  I'm sad to say that even as an adult, I was afraid of her backlash.  Reaching out to her privately did nothing.  One time, after a particularly brutal attempted family intervention, my mother warned me that I better 'cover' her.  She said "Love COVERS a multitude of sins and when Noah's children didn't hide his sin, they were struck dead."  (That's not exactly how it goes but it's what she said and her message was received loud and clear.)  She began to say that I was the Absalom to her King David.  That I was trying to steal her power.  I don't want power.  She turned me off forever from wanting power or prestige.

Now my mother has a website.  It says a lot of things I believe to be true about God.  She has always been able to say a lot of good things to a enough people to gain a good reputation.  Unfortunately for those who know her well, we see beyond the shine and shimmer of the outward appearance.  We have years of painful and abusive experiences.  Like so many others in the spotlight, good can be done for the public while heinous things go on behind the scenes.  But they are still in the business of trying to do business- especially with churches.  And I can't stand by quietly while families and businesses are at her mercy.  I'm not going to publicize this post and I will hide it in some old posts on the blog, but I want it here for anyone who searches for information so that they can have all the info.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Consider The Source

I struggled recently with a few things and came out on the other side learning a lot, and wanted to share.  I learned two lessons.  Both of them required me to consider the source.



1.  Sometimes we have to ignore the messenger and consider the message.

For instance.  I came out of a relationship with someone who had really misused scripture on a consistent basis.  I love God and I love His Word.  But the way this person used scripture had been very damaging to a lot of people; it was used manipulatively and abusively.  I found myself  ROLLING MY EYES when I heard those scriptures read again in different circumstances.  I had let my hurt change how I heard the Word of God.  I had to handle that in my heart immediately.

Mean people can say something kind.  Abusers can quote scripture.  Someone ignorant can post something enlightening on Facebook.

Don't harden your heart against things like kindness, scripture and enlightenment because someone who isn't good spouted them.  Because God is the TRUE source of these things and He loves you and loves me and loves the ignorant and the abusive too.  How they treat you doesn't change what is real. God is Love and He is the author of all Truth!

2.  Sometimes we have to consider the messenger, and therefore ignore the message.

When people are consistently abusive or mean, everything is colored by that.  Their perception of themselves.  Their perception of who you are.  Reject what they put on you.  Remember the truth.

Think about the loving, trustworthy people in your life.  What do they have to say about you?  What does God say about you?

Obviously we all have faults, and should always be growing and learning.  But there are people who will always just tear down instead of building up.  Instead of allowing them to be your inner voice, tune them out.  Let God be your truth-teller and let Him put people in your life who will edify you, and go to them for truth about your shortcomings.

If you have been told you are unwanted, worthless, ugly, lazy, unimportant, stupid or anything else, consider what God says about you.

You are accepted.  You are redeemed.  You are His child.  You are free.  You are a joint heir with Christ. You are wise and righteous.  You are triumphant and you are blessed.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Surround Yourself



I need people.  I need people around me who know more than I do and have experiences I don't have.  I need people around me who don't know something that I can teach them.

I am reminded every day just how much I need people.  All kinds of people.  The quiet ones, the loud ones, the funny ones and the serious ones.  I have things to learn and I have things to impart.

My church is a great example of this.  I could not survive without the community I have there.  It has taught me so much about how much people need people.

It encourages me not to isolate myself.  Sometimes I do that.  This post is a reminder to me and an encouragement to everyone to find your people.  Plug in.  Reach out.  You are an island.  Find your community and surround yourself. 

Who are your people?


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sorry, Mrs. Stark!

I recently found my personal and school journals from the year I was seven.  The personal one is a blog entry (or nine) for another time.  My childhood was nutso and the journal was quite enlightening.  So was the school journal.  I happened to read it cover to cover on a day when homeschooling was wearing on me and the kids both, and I wondered if they were the most unmotivated students ever, and if I was the most exasperated teacher of all time.

Not so.  I would like to introduce you to seven year old, second grade me: Tory.  And my long-suffering teacher, Mrs. Stark (who I loved SO much).

So here it is.  My mea culpa.  I open myself up for flogging and offer forgiveness, patience and grace to my children.  They come by it honestly.

The task was to write an answer to a question she would write on the board, or a story based on a prompt.  There were rules about how much you had to write.  I apparently didn't know the rules or didn't care, because my writing was just THAT GOOD, a little went a long way.


I was asked to list my favorite hobbies.  After she had the nerve to point out that 'playing smell' is not a hobby, I hastily scribbled an & sign in between the two.  Because 'smell' is a legit pastime.


What am I thankful for? Not nearly enough, obviously.


I see the underlined 'new' here and the exclamation point and I think, "I probably drove Mrs. Stark to drinking."


Sometimes love just isn't enough. All of those songs were WRONG.


"Much more" seems to be a recurring theme.


See, here she tried to shame me into writing more.  It didn't work.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sometimes You Just Know

"I knew, like you know about a good melon."  -When Harry Met Sally



Sometimes I don't know if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Sometimes this applies to the small things "Did I really want a wild cherry Slurpee or did I want Coke?" and sometimes it is bigger, like "Should I live in Texas or somewhere that isn't so hot?" I work hard to think it through, and make a mental list of pros and cons and whys and why-nots.

Today, Philip asked me what I wanted to be when I was growing up.  We had a long talk about it.  During the talk, I realized "These are the moments you know, and you realize THIS is what I am supposed to be doing.  And it doesn't take a lot of thought."

These moments sometimes happen once in a lifetime: "I know I want to marry this man."  "I know I want to be a Mom."  And then sometimes they happen once a year, once a month, three times a day, when we are reminded: "That's why I married him.  I knew I made a good choice."  or "I knew that being with my children is exactly what I am meant to do."

I posted the following on Facebook one day, another day when it was reaffirmed to me.  A day when in between the hustle and bustle of all we do, I had whispered a quick prayer, "Lord, please help me remember that You have called me and equipped me in these things I do." What came to me after is summed up here:

I love having my kids here with me. Some days it is really hard and I question my sanity but more often than not I am so glad we have made the choices we have and I know we are doing exactly what we should be doing, and I look at Gracie's little finger running below a line of text or see Philip curled up in a chair doing math, with his cheek resting on his fist,and I remember YES, this is beautiful. And it makes my heart smile.

Sometimes you have to stop thinking with your thinker, and Know with your Knower.

 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Mother's Day Is Hard



Sometimes, Mother's Day is tough.

I have sat in church year in and year out either holding everything in or sobbing uncontrollably as a list or poem is read, about all of the qualities of a Mom.

Others cry too, either because they couldn't have children, or their Mom has passed on, or they didn't experience the kind of mother listed, or because they can't be with their Mom, or because the list reminds them of their own feelings of inadequacy.

When you don't have a mother or a father or they have let you down, it can be so, so hard.

When you sit in church and think of all the ways you have messed up as a mom or a dad, that can be so, so hard.

But I was reminded today that no matter what it looks like here on Earth, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and protects us and takes us under His wings, and we are the apple of His eye, and He sees us as beautiful and smart and doesn't look at us and see all of our failings as parents ourselves.

I have also experienced that God fills the empty spaces, and heals the broken ones.  Some take more time than I would like, and I am probably hindering the progress somehow, and I will figure it out and keep moving towards healing and wholeness.

When I feel motherless, He reminds me of women He has placed in my life who have given me great examples to look up to, who love me and encourage me and guide me and correct me when I need it.

He sat me down today at just THE spot in church where I was directly in front of a fridge full of the smiling faces of my church family (used as an example today that we are God's children and just like we put our kids' achievements in a place of honor on the fridge, we are His delight and He is so ready to show everyone His children and His love for them).  He reminded me that these smiling faces have stepped in and filled the void for me and my husband and children so many times.

He uses our kids to show us lavish mercy and grace and goodness, because we are our harshest critics.  Sure, we disappoint them and make mistakes, and they see that, but they are so quick to forgive and are looking for all the ways you are an amazing parent, and they think you are the smartest, funniest, most beautiful person on the planet.  They see us more through God's eyes than we see ourselves.

God is a good parent, and He thinks good things about us, and He doesn't leave the empty or broken places that way for long.  That takes the sting out of a day that sometimes feels too hard.

For everyone who is hurting, I wish I could give you a hug.  Since I can't, I hope you feel understood and comforted today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Simplify, simplify, simplify

I had this word in my head for months.  It felt like a heartbeat and the urge was on repeat in my soul.

Then my Pastor made the statement "We need to get back to basics."  I don't remember anything else he said that morning (sorry) because it felt like that statement had been shouted at me and wouldn't leave me alone.

I had been spending some time in prayer on the subject of simplicity and I continued to do so.

I feel led to simplify in so many ways.  I don't have a huge outline of what this will mean for us, but I have taken some small steps.  Less stuff.  Fewer obligations that don't matter.  Making more of the ones that do.  Making instead of buying.  Fewer chemicals and crap entering our home and our bodies.

I can't wait to see what comes about as a result of this.  What can you simplify?


Thursday, May 2, 2013

When It's All Just A Facade...

Have you ever known someone who seemed to have the perfect marriage, or to be the perfect parent, and then you find out down the road that things were not as they seemed?  Situations like this bring so many thoughts to mind.  First, we should make sure not to put people on pedestals.  People are people.  Nobody has the perfect marriage or is the perfect parent (be wary of people who claim either).  Second, were these people given an opportunity to have faults?  A safe place to go to get help with their problems?  What made this person feel the need to put on such a facade?

One of the more damaging things we can model for our children is being one person outside of the home and another at home.  This is not only deceptive and will cause resentment later, but it teaches our kids that who we are at the root is not good enough, and therefore we need to be someone else for others.

Sometimes my candor makes people uncomfortable.  I definitely don't want to make people feel that way, but I  also do not feel the need to act as though I have it all together all the time.  My faults don't go away by pretending they don't exist.  I often joke about areas of mine that need improvement.  And I probably won't stop because I do not believe that ignoring something makes it any less THERE.  When I feel the inability to address these things, it causes insecurity and isolation. For me, sharing is very freeing and is comfortable for me to do.  For others, not sharing is their authentic self and to overshare would be pretense and cause discomfort.  The danger comes, I think, when we feel the need to present everything as perfect.

I know in my own childhood experience, the more chaotic and dysfunctional my home life was, the more I was pressured to make things look amazing on the outside.

Children's pastors and teachers often joke that there are no family secrets and this is SO true.  Kids have a lot of  things to share that can be really embarrassing for parents.  But I have found this to be a source of comfort rather than shame or worry.  It has been reassuring to me that kids have a safe place to share what is on their hearts and minds, and more often than not, when it has been my own kids doing the talking, they needed to get things out.  There have been occasions though when I have needed to clarify a statement or two.  ;)

I am on a mission to be authentic, genuine and consistent.  I hope I succeed and my children learn to embrace this lifestyle also.

Monday, April 29, 2013

"There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life"



I'm glad that John knows that me bursting out with "THERE MUST BE MORE THAN THIS PROVINCIAL LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFE" during breakfast preparations has nothing to do with the life we have built together, but the fact that Disney songs run through my head 24 hours a day and sometimes escape.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Open

What would possess me to blurt out "I felt like I was drowning" when describing a personal situation to a room full of people that I barely know?

My desire for real relationships. The realization that if someone doesn't take the first steps to openness and truth, nobody can move forward.

I believe our society is STARVING for real relationships of significance and authenticity. But we care too much about what others think.  So we let ourselves keep starving and keep drowning.

So in the spirit of all of this, I would like to share something.

There was a point in my first marriage that my ex husband and I sought counseling.  We desperately needed it.  I told three people very close to me about it.  I didn't tell anyone else, because I was afraid of what people would think.  Of the three people I told, I got "good for you" from two of them and an uncomfortable "Oh. I wouldn't tell people that if I were you." from the last.

At first this bothered me and I felt that it confirmed my fears of judgment. Then I had the amazing thought of "NO! This is why there is such a stigma surrounding therapy and it is why people would rather divorce or live in absolute misery instead of seeking help.  This is why people hurt themselves or others instead of getting help."

I then made the decision to be the loudest proponent of therapy that ever was. So if you have not heard me say it before, here it is. GET HELP. I think most people would benefit from therapy.  Therapy is not just for people in desperate situations.  It is for people who could use some help working through things, and doesn't that apply to all of us?

Does therapy fix all of your problems?  No.  I mean, my first marriage still ended in divorce, but I got so many excellent tools that helped me grow as a person, helped the divorce process go more smoothly, and also helped me when my second marriage came around.  I could also say with certainty that I had worked hard and tried everything.  It ended up being invaluable time and effort and expense put in.

If you don't want to tell anyone about going to therapy, you do not have to.  The fact that I am so vocal about it does not mean that is what you need to do.  If privacy is what will get you there, then keep it private!

If cost is what is keeping you from going:

Contact your doctor
A religious organization
Local college
See if your city offers 211, which you can call for information on services available near you.
Google "Crisis hotline" with the name of your city.




Monday, April 15, 2013

What Would Mr. Rogers Say About The Boston Bombings?

Right below "What does Jesus say?" in my mind is "What would Mr. Rogers say?"  I love Mr. Rogers to this day.  His kindness, his love.  His gentle way of explaining and comforting.

I found this quote today and wanted to share it, and then ask a question and get some feedback.  I could use the advice.


"If you grew up with our Neighborhood, you may remember how we sometimes talked about difficult things. There were days ... even beautiful days ... that weren't happy. In fact, there were some that were really sad.

Well, we've had a lot of days like that in our whole world. We've seen what some people do when they don't know anything else to do with their anger.

I'm convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings--ways that don't hurt them or anyone else--we're helping to make our world a safer, better place.

I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger: I like you just the way you are.

And what's more, I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe and to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods."

So here is my question: how do you teach your kids to handle and express their anger in the right way?  This is something I have yet to master.

And a last thought: hold your little ones tight.  Tell them you love them.  Include them in your prayers for those affected by the bombs in Boston, and for those still working to protect us.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Starting relationships...

What would our relationships look like if we started them not worried about impressing the other person, but loving them and getting to know them?

That's something for me to chew on today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Perils Of Pinterest #1

So, I saw several different pins recently about how to keep bananas fresh longer.  This is great because my family's banana consumption habits are truly irritating.  We are either always completely out of bananas, or we have too many and they turn brown and gooey and are inedible.  So when I saw the pins saying that the refrigerator was the way to go in keeping them fresher, longer, I thought 'SCORE'.  Here's how my beautiful bananas looked just two days later.


FAIL!


Monday, April 8, 2013

How Swagbucks Earned Me A Free Kindle Fire HD


So, I started Swagbucks in December 2012 and posted about it here.  Then in March, my ABSOLUTELY FREE Kindle Fire HD arrived.  We love it.  We read and play and surf the web on it.  I'd even taken the month of February off from Swagging, and still earned enough to get the Kindle.  

There are so many prizes to choose from- gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart and actual items like beauty products, electronics.  You can even donate to charity!

The main ways I earn via Swagbucks are searching the web (I already did this, why not earn money while I do it?), answering short surveys and running SBTV on my iPhone (these are movie previews).  I also go through Swagbucks and see if something I am already going to purchase online earns me SB if I click through.  Walmart, Target and other popular stores give swag bucks as rewards, equivalent to cash back.

I did not purchase the Kindle Fire HD through the swag rewards store, but purchased Amazon gift cards in $5 and larger increments.  This gave me quite a savings over purchasing it from the swag rewards store.

Sign up for Swagbucks here and start earning your favorite rewards today!

This is not a sponsored post, I did not receive anything from either Amazon or Swagbucks in exchange for posting this.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Knowing Me, Knowing You

That 'About Me' section is pretty small.  So I thought I would share random factoids with you about me because...I want to.  If I have my druthers, you will comment back with your blog or something you want to share.  So, today's fact about me is:

I know I seem like an incredibly mature and cultured (and humble) lady, but I play video games.  More than that, I like to troll the GameFaqs forums when I have done something fantastic in my online gaming and post things like:

U MAD, BRO?

and

You got SCHOOLED by a 30 year old mom!


Hopefully you will still read my blog and find me amazingly together and fabulous.  Or not.  But still read the blog.  :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Teenagers


 



I used to be a teenager.  I work with teenagers and spend a lot of time with them.  I read a lot about teenagers.

I need to add my perspective to what I keep reading and hearing about teenagers.

Here it is- they have so much potential.  The world is quite literally at their fingertips.  But they need your perspective about teenagers to change and they need your good influence.

The teenagers I know are smart and passionate and world changers.  Because people with the right perspective and influence stepped in and helped mold them to be that way.

I remember how people treated me when they thought I was making every mistake in the book.  I remember that the people who treated me like I was a worthwhile human being with a purpose were the ones that made me want to be that person.

The ones who criticized without offering anything constructive, or talked about 'kids these days' without teaching me were the ones who made me feel defeated.

So what if we treated ALL kids and teens with the encouragement that they could be world changers?

Maybe they would be.

Teenagers need someone to encourage and inspire them.  Will it be you?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Katie's Craftations American Girl Doll Food Review

Gracie received Marie Grace and Cecile American Girl dolls for Christmas and asked for some food and their table so that she would have more play options.  We had gone to purchase the table and chairs set above in December, but it was sold out in-store and online.  We were all disappointed.  Then I found it on the back end of their website and took a chance during free shipping, and attempted to order it AND IT WENT THROUGH!!!

I was positively giddy.  I started shopping for food for the dolls, and came across Katie's Craftations on Facebook.  She had several options, including some really great holiday packages.  Plus, she was offering 20% off!  Her Cupid's Arrow collection was just too cute to pass up.  Plus, I had 'liked' her page and therefore would be getting a free donut.  I was super excited and placed my order!

I couldn't wait for it to arrive, and it came very quickly.  I was so excited when I received this in the mail:


I love pink and I didn't expect the package to even be so pretty!  I set it all up for Gracie, who had no idea any of it was on the way.  She still thought the table and chairs were sold out.  I put it all on a side table in the school room.  I wasn't sure what to do with the lollipops, so I put them in an AG mug we already had.  When the dolls came to tea, they held them.  Everything was so well made and SO cute.







The scale of American Girl accessories is supposed to be 1:3  (1/3 the size of normal items we use).  The Katie's Craftations items looked on the smaller side, more like 1/4 or 1/5 but they actually fit perfectly in the doll's hands.  I think if they had been any bigger, they wouldn't have fit and the play value would have been lost.  As you can see, Gracie was thrilled.


Katie's Craftations is not offering 20% off right now, but if you private message her and mention Status Of My Heart in your order email, you will receive the 20% off!  Don't forget to like the page to get your free donut.  

I did not receive anything in return for writing this review; after I received my order, I loved the products so much that I asked Katie's permission to review them on my blog to share with other moms.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spread The Goodness

How many people have been reached with God's love by Starbucks boycotts and public outrage at this or that? How many gay people would feel like coming to church tonight based on what Christians have shown them? How many abortionists would accept an invitation on Sunday when the last five believers they met called them murderers instead of offering encouragement and God's love? God did His business with the likes of Zacchaeus and the woman caught in adultery, yet the most anger and outrage we see from Jesus in the New Testament was directed NOT at them but at the money changers in the Temple and the Pharisees. The people who were already in church and considering themselves set apart for God and His work. Let's extend God's love to everyone. The goodness of God compels people to Him. Are we spreading the goodness?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Proper Care and Feeding Of The Caregiver



After 13 years together, John knows me well.  A few years ago, he realized that when I am crabby, it is because I have not eaten.  99% of the time if I am overwhelmed or frustrated, he'd ask me when I last ate- and it was usually two meals ago.  Of course the kids had eaten and life had been well maintained for even the dogs- but I had let my self-care fall by the wayside.

After that happened more than a few times, I realized that it does not do my kids any favors for me to 'put my needs aside' to the point of neglect.  It wasn't serving anyone.  Do I put aside a lot for my kids?  You bet.  But there has to be balance.  It's funny how that word rings through my mind sometimes.  So much seems imbalanced.

Moms seem to suffer from unbalanced give/take.

What if once a week, we sat down and read a little bit?  I miss reading.  I don't do it often enough.  What if we put the kids to bed and put on a movie?!?  I don't mean 'put on a movie' and then you run around the house starting the washing machine and cleaning the kitchen.  I mean sit down and just watch the movie!  I can't tell you how many times I have tried to do this, and John will walk in and say "So what's this about?" and I will say "Oh.  I don't know- I got distracted doing _______."

Moms are tired.  Dads are tired.  We have a whole new 'sandwich generation' who are now caring for their parents AND their kids at once.  That is exhausting.  People are tired and unbalanced and overwhelmed.

Let's all try to proactively properly care for ourselves so that we can be better human beings and caregivers.  I'm going to work on this myself.  Eat breakfast! Take a walk!  You will benefit and I will benefit and those we care for will certainly benefit.