Monthly Archives: November 2011

Food for Thought…

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As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I spend quite a bit of time in my car these days, going to loan closings, coupon parties, etc. and that gives me time to think.

This post is going to be about one of the things I’ve been thinking about,  but while I had been thinking about it anyway, something happened over the weekend that brought these thoughts to the forefront again.

My parents were here for the Thanksgiving weekend.  I was in my room one of those days and heard my Dad use my name.  I called back, but he didn’t respond but went on about his business, so I finished what I was doing and when I saw him a few minutes later I asked him, “Were you CALLING my name or just USING my name?”

And that brought me back to the topic I have been thinking about quite a bit lately.

I recently was involved in a conversation with a couple of friends where we were talking about people using phrases like “Oh my God” and “OMG” and similar verbiage.  One of the people involved in our conversation was truly offended by the usage of the phrases often in their presence while they were with a certain group of people.  (Could I BE any more vague????  😉

Another member of the conversation made the comment that, “Some people do it just out of habit.  They’re not really CURSING, they’re just doing it out of habit.” Reference was MADE to the verse in Ex. 20:7 that talks about “using God’s name in vain”, but it really didn’t go any further.  At the time of the conversation, it made me think that it would be interesting to do a word study on the word “vain” in that verse, but I didn’t do it.

THEN the incident that I mentioned earlier happened this weekend.  It made me think.  When people use those phrases, are the CALLING on God, or just USING His name?  And does that have anything to do with using His name in vain?

I was raised to think that using those phrases was using His name in vain, but I always thought of it more as a curse.  THEN I actually did the word search this evening.

Here is Ex. 20:7, the verse I was thinking of:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”  New American Standard Version

I used a Strong’s Concordance and this is what the Hebrew word for “vain” means:

7723 OT – Hebrew

shav’shawv

or shav {shav}; from the same as ‘show” (7722) in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive), literally (ruin) or morally (especially guile); figuratively idolatry (as false, subjective), uselessness (as deceptive, objective; also adverbially, in vain):–false(-ly), lie, lying, vain, vanity.
and the reference for word 7722, as referenced in THAT entry is:
7722 OT – Hebrew

show’sho

or (feminine) showtah {sho-aw’}; or shoah {sho-aw’}; from an unused root meaning to rush over; a tempest; by implication, devastation:–desolate(-ion), destroy, destruction, storm, wasteness.
There are a WHOLE LOT OF WORDS in there and a lot of them really didn’t “resonate” with me or seem to make sense, but here is what DID jump out at me:
See up there where it mentions “uselessness” and “to rush over”?
Wow!  That puts it in a different perspective for me.  What about You???  If we’re using God’s name in a “useless” manner or “rushing over” it, does that show it the respect and honor that it deserves?
We got into a short discussion about this at lunch on Sunday and my Nephew, Caleb, had a thought that brought even more focus.  He said that he heard in a message one time that “every time God’s name is spoken, the angels hear and stop to worship Him.”  I’ve done a little bit of research on that and haven’t seen any references indicating that as fact, but it certainly makes sense to me!
Regardless, it has caused me to stop and think.  I think I’ll be a little more vocal about hearing these things in the future.  I don’t want MY God, the One who I worship and adore to be spoken of in a “useless”, flippant manner.
What about you????  What are your thoughts?  Suggestions on how to gently address this when it happens?  Let’s hear from you about what you think.
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The Importance of Believing

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I mean A LOT of thinking. About a lot of things.

Those things may or may not end up as blog posts at some point.

But this afternoon I was challenged to think of one person who has had a big impact on my life.  When the challenge came up, I immediately thought of one person.  I just found her on Facebook and sent her a friend request and I’m waiting with bated breath to see if she accepts it.

Her name is Doneen Poulton and she was my third grade school teacher.   She was more than just a teacher.  She was truly the first mentor that I had in my life.

Third grade.  That was a hard year for me.

This will be hard for some of you to believe, but when I was in third grade I was the tallest person in my class.  Not the tallest girl, but the tallest PERSON.  NO ONE other than the teacher was taller.  I matured physically VERY early.  At the same time that my body was growing and changing and completely out of control, my poor systems were trying to keep up.  I got glasses for the first time when I was in the second grade and by the time I was in third grade I was wearing bifocals.  Yes, bifocals…like your grandma usually wears when you’re in second grade.

So, not only was I the “freak” in the third grade who was taller than everyone else and wore bifocals and tripped over herself all of the time, but I was also an overachiever in the classroom.

Mrs. Poulton was one of those truly rare teachers who didn’t just TEACH but took the time to get to KNOW her students.  By the time the school year was ending, she had learned a lot about me.  She was a devout Christian in a public school.  My family did A LOT of traveling when I was at that age – my parents are and were missionaries just starting their ministry and we spent almost every weekend on the road going from church to church to earn the monthly support that acted as my Parents’ salary.  Mrs. Poulton worked with my parents and I very closely to make sure that I kept up-to-date.

I believe LARGELY as a result, by the time the school year was over she felt that it would be best for me to skip the fourth grade to catch up academically.  She met with my parents and I several times to get me ready to go from the third to the fifth grade and Dad and I worked HARD over the summer to be ready.

If third grade was a hard year, FIFTH grade was a REALLY hard year.  But do you know what Mrs. Poulton did?  She stayed in touch.  Until the year that I graduated from High School I stopped by her classroom regularly and enjoyed EACH visit that I had.

Then it came time to graduate from High School.  I was no genius, but I believe that i was successful throughout the rest of my academic years largely because I KNEW that Doneen Poulton believed in me.  As graduation came near, she made a visit to my house.  To this day I remember sitting with her as she gave me a gift that I still have today.  She brought me a 14k gold ring.  It was just a ring with a twisted gold pattern, but when she presented it to me she reminded me that the circle never ended and that it was a symbol of the way that Jesus loves me.

She said that I had and would have many people throughout my life that loved me, but that I ALWAYS needed to remember Who loved me most.  Jesus!!

I wore that ring faithfully for a VERY long time until the pattern on the ring was worn down flat over about 2/3 of the circle.  I still have it, tucked away in a jewelry box with some special mementos from my childhood.

I think what really has made me think about this lately is knowing that there are many people who believe in me and in the dreams that I have.  But without the knowledge that Jesus loves me MOST, where would I be?

Doneen Poulton gave me a gift.  She believed in me.  But she didn’t JUST believe in me.  She let me KNOW that she did!  And she worked WITH me to SHOW me that she believed in me.  It wasn’t just words.  She took action.  And that still sticks with me 35 years later.

Who needs to hear that you believe in them?  Don’t wait.  Don’t hesitate.  TELL THEM!!!  You’ll both be glad you did!  And maybe, just maybe you can be someone else’s Doneen Poulton!

I sure hope she accepts my friend request!  🙂

Does He really care THAT much?

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I was struck by something today.

Not just once, but at three separate but distinct times.

I was reminded that God cares for us so much that not only does He orchestrate big events in our lives, but He also orchestrates MOMENTS in our lives.

Here’s what first got me thinking:  I was late to church.  Now something that you need to understand is that we have three different service times at my church.  It is my goal and every intention to get to the first service each week (usually) so that I can sing in the choir in all three services.  This week, because I went out-of-town to help with a show that a friend was in and didn’t get home until 1 AM, I had already determined that I wasn’t going to attempt the first service.

This one is just to prove that I really WAS at the show... 😉

But I was late to the second!

Now, if you know me well at all, you know that I am NOT a morning person.  If you ask me to be somewhere at a specific time anytime after 11, I can usually be pretty prompt if not early, but anytime before that, as hard as I try it’s just really hard for me.  Now, in fairness, my good friends and family ALSO know that they can call me at midnight and I’ll probably still be up…just for the record!

So back to my story…I was late and I was beating myself up about it as I bypassed “big church” and missed singing in choir for the second service TOO and headed over to the preschool building for my “Jungle Journey” (Preschool church) post.  I mean I was REALLY beating myself up…

Then I had one of those “orchestrated moments”.  The director of the Mothers Day Out program that our church hosts was sitting just inside the entrance I chose to use to come into the building.  It’s important to note that I had at least two choices for HOW I would enter the building this morning also.  I chose the one that I normally wouldn’t have because in honor of Veteran’s Day our church had a display of flags and motor vehicles utilized by our Armed Services and I went in that way “so that I could take a picture for my dad”, or so I thought.

Here you go, Dad!!

Anyway, there sat Chris.  She asked how things were going for me and then said, “I need to make sure your number is in my phone.  I have your email, but not your number and this is a time that we use A LOT of subs because people are out sick themselves or with their kids.”  (A possible additional source of income for me!) So she put my number in and we talked for a few more minutes and I went on to my “post”.

And THEN it struck me that I had been beating myself up about being late and evidently I had just had a “God appointment”.  So, was I LATE????  I’m kind of thinking now that I was right on time!

Something Pastor Tom said this morning during our prayer and ministry time got me REALLY thinking about that again.  He asked us to close our eyes and just imagine our greatest challenge or burden as a physical being in front of us right then.   He encouraged us to look over the right shoulder of that being and see Jesus and then to peek over the left shoulder and see the cross where Jesus committed to taking on our burdens.  And he reminded us that there are no coincidences in our circumstances.  God knows and  prepares us for what we experience.

Our Bible lesson in Jungle Journey was about the woman who made a loaf of bread out of the LAST ingredients she HAD for bread in response to a request from the Prophet Elijah.  She was obedient and her supplies were replenished so that she was able to make bread for Elijah AND her family until God once again sent rain to the land.  She was obedient and God provided.  This story and the encounter with Chris were especially poignant to me today because I “missed out” on some work tomorrow because I had previously committed to donate some time for another cause.  When I got the call on Friday making sure that I was truly unavailable to work, I had a quick conversation with God.  You know, the kind that gently reminds Him that you need the income, but you’re doing something for Him, so it’s up to Him!?!  Like He needs to be reminded of that!

Just in case I hadn’t really “GOTTEN” the message from Him today, I got one final super-sweet reminder.

The ladies of our choir had a baby shower this afternoon at 2 PM for one of our members.  It was to be a surprise shower for Joy, but we ALL ended up being surprised when just before Joy arrived there was a young waitress from one of our local restaurants that stopped in looking for someone to pray for her.  She said that she had just come from work and had been surrounded by evil and just needed prayer!  (It really was very cute, she said, “I know that there are Christians who work there, they just WEREN’T THERE today!”)

So the sweet ladies of our choir gathered around her and when the guest of honor arrived, instead of being greeted by “SURPRISE” she was greeted by a cluster of women praying over this sweet young lady who just needed a taste of Jesus today and recognized her need for it!  As Joy and I and several others waited in the hall for them to finish, we got to talking.

On any other given Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM, there wouldn’t be ANYONE in the building.  But this Sunday, when this sweet young lady needed it, not only were there people there, but it was a group of sensitive, caring LADIES and not a man in sight!  😉

Another ORCHESTRATED MOMENT!

And we dare to sometimes wonder if He REALLY cares about the “big things”????!!!  He cares so much that He orchestrates literally MOMENTS in our lives to make sure that we’re in the right place at the right time and that the other “players” involved are there too!

I’m looking over the shoulder of the scary burden in front of me today and see my Jesus and today, He is just showing off!!!!  🙂

AND I LOVE IT WHEN HE DOES THAT FOR ME!  What about you?  What’s your burden?  Remember Who has promised to carry it for you!  

Things are often NOT as they appear!

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When I first moved into my house almost exactly four years ago, there was a bush in the back yard that looked AWFUL.  When Mom and Dad came for Thanksgiving, Dad graciously offered to cut it down.  Actually, there were two in the same spot, crowded in and both looking REALLY sad.  I had him cut the smaller of the two down, but asked him to just trim the other one way back and let me see what happened in the spring.

That spring it flowered for a couple of weeks and looked really pretty.

And I was glad that we hadn’t chopped it down!

But THIS year, this is what it looked like this summer:

Not only was it beautiful, but it flowered like that for literally MONTHS, unlike that first year when it was just a couple of weeks.

And then the leaves got red.  First bright red and then that deep dark red that whispers of fall coming.

And THIS is what it looks like right now.  Keep in mind that every year we have to trim it back because it grows SO FAST!

I needed the reminder today that things are often not as they appear.  We were SURE that this bush was dead, but as you can see, it obviously wasn’t.

To be honest with you, from my perspective things are looking a little scary right now.  There is promise.  And there are DEFINITELY some “green branches” showing through in the circumstances of my life, but it remains to be seen if things are “alive” and ready to blossom and grow or if they’re dead.

Time will tell!

Is there someone you know who needs a word of encouragement from you today?  Often things look fine on the outside, but if we are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, maybe we will be led to speak a word of encouragement that could ONLY have come from Him.

God uses His people to “feed and water” His “dormant bushes”.  Who do you need to speak life into today?  Don’t hesitate.

DO IT NOW!!!

You take the good, You take the bad…

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Did you finish the song in your head????

🙂

Yesterday was “one of those days”.  You know, the ones where you can’t WAIT to lay your head on the pillow and call the day OVER???

The highlights?

A starter party that I was supposed to do for another lady for Clever Container (that would have paid ME!) was cancelled before I even got out of bed…

Then I found out FROM THE HOMEOWNER that my closing for last night needed to be rescheduled.  (THAT created drama all it’s own..suffice it to say, if you’re ever in the position to need to reschedule closing on your refi…DON’T!)

And on my way out the door to Bible Study last night, while still not COMPLETELY sure that I wasn’t going to have to turn around and go home and get the paperwork for said closing, I checked my email to find out that one of the parties that we have scheduled for next week wasn’t getting the response that the hostess had hoped for, probably because she scheduled it during the day not realizing how many of her friends work outside of the home.  (And yes, I KNOW that was a terrible run on sentence.  WHAT OF IT????)  🙂

On top of that, someone contacted me yesterday to let me know that she was giving up on trying to learn to coupon because she couldn’t figure it out.  Trouble is, she’s trying to figure out how to do it on her own.  It makes me so very frustrated when I know that people could be saving SO MUCH MONEY and won’t even attempt it because they can’t figure it out by themselves.  Do you think your Doctor learned to listen to your heartbeat on his own??  I WANT to help…and that frustrates me.  But SOMEONE has to pay full price, or they’d stop offering coupons, right?  😉

Anyway, needless to say, I was a tad discouraged when I hit the door of Bible Study.  We are starting a new study on the Sermon on the Mount.  Teresa, our fearless leader, reminded us last night that Satan knows what it will take to get us down and works fervently to make sure that he does everything possible to get us there.

I NEEDED TO BE REMINDED OF THAT!

That is honestly one of the biggest reasons I started this blog.  If you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know that I started this to help me focus on the GOOD that is happening around me and not the bad!  So when I went to bed last night and again this morning I prayed asking to be reminded of the good going on and the blessings I’m experiencing.

And then today I had one of my most “Extreme Couponing Days” EVER!

LOOK at this!

Here was everything I got today!

I’m a little foggy today, but the total of the products on that table should have been around $92.  That doesn’t include the free Oil Change I got today OR the free lunch I got at my favorite fastfood chicken place!

The final out-of-pocket cost for me was $14.12.  Yes, you read that right!!  And remember, that INCLUDES an oil change (oh, and a free tire rotation) and lunch.

Was that worth my time and effort?

YOU BET!

Here’s how it broke down:

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Today was the last day of Super Doubles at HT.  I had a few things that I didn’t get on Friday and I was in Franklin for my oil change, so I ran over there again.

The potatoes and the lotions were completely free.

That entire bag of bananas cost me $1.  Yeah, they’ve got a few brown spots, but I had one this afternoon with God’s gift known as Nutella and it was still firm!  I’ll peel and cut most of them in half and stick them in baggies and freeze them for Banana bread all winter!

The canned veggies were buy 2, get 3 free, making them 54 cents each and my family uses A LOT of canned corn during the holidays, so I’m set!

Savings at HT was $15.03.
Total out-of-pocket:  $4.34

Next:

CVS

This was my deal of the day! (Except that there was a crack in one of the lids that I didn’t notice until it had leaked out into my reusable shopping bag.  WHAT A MESS!!)

The detergent was on sale for $3.99 a bottle.  I had two coupons for $1 off and One Extra Care Buck in the amount of $7.00 that I wanted to use with it, so I got the M&Ms to bring my total up above $7 so I could use it. I ended up paying a grand total of (can you hear the drumroll?)

37 CENTS

The cashier congratulated me on my savings and I told her that I teach people how to coupon and would use this as an example and that prompted her to ask me for business cards, because “their staff all coupons and passes the info on as often as possible.”

DOUBLE SCORE!!!!!

Savings at CVS was:  $16.60
Total out-of-pocket:  $.37

Then I moseyed on over to the local Target and got this:

Target

The Command Strips were my WORST buy of the day, but I needed them and had a coupon, so there they are!

Target and CoverGirl paid me fifty-six cents to take the three eyeshadows home.  They were $2.98 each.  I had a coupon for $2.50 off of any 2 CG items and another for $1 off any item.  Target sent me a $1 off CG coupon in a free sample cosmetic case that I got in the mail and THEN they had a promotion where if you bought any 3 CG items they give you a free $5 Target Gift card.

If you’re keeping track, the total on those three items would have been $8.94.  Coupon savings were $4.50 and I got a $5 gift card back.  There’s the fifty-six cents!

And both of the little first-aid kits were free.  Those go in our “Freebie box” for doorprizes at our parties!

So at Target, total savings:  $12.88, including savings I get by using my Target Debit card
PLUS I got a $5 Gift Card to use later.

I also HAD a $5 Gift Card that I used on the transaction, so my out-of-pocket cost was $3.60

And then:

Kroger

The box of potatoes was free with a “FREE coupon”.  All of the pineapple, broth, chili and cranberry cans ended up being 50 cents each.  The boxes of tissues were 66 cents each and the Annies mac and cheese ended up being 31 cents each!

Kroger has a promotion right now where if you buy 10 total of certain items you get $5 off of your order.  I had two sets of 10 in this transaction, so that accounted for $10 of my savings.

I also had two $5 gift cards that I used.

Including the above and the coupons that I used, I saved $33.39.

Total out-of-pocket:  $5.81
I also earned 23 points toward gas on this order.

And I had coupons totaling $4.75 that printed off at the register.

And finally:

CFA and Oil Change

The Women’s Day on the Hill Event for TN Right to Life always has a silent auction.  I bought three items this year for something like $60 (which was actually a donation for RTL).  This was the last of the three that I still hadn’t redeemed.  They also gave me a free tire rotation today.  (The DOWN side was that they told me I needed to replace my brakes, which I did JUST ONE YEAR ago…something doesn’t sound right about that!)

AND I had a coupon for a free kid’s meal at CFA which I used for a small lunch on the way home.  They gave me THREE coupons for freebies (with a purchase) which I will definitely use later! (Did you know that while the coupons at CFA have an expiration date, they let you use them past and I mean WAY past that date?)

So, when someone tells me that they don’t have time to coupon…that’s fine.  I’m not gonna dwell on that.

But I think I’ll keep at it.  And today was a MUCH better day!

(The cancelled closing rescheduled for tomorrow night, the starter party for Clever Container NOW may turn into a CC party AND a Super Coupon Clippers Party, and the booking with only one guest is working hard to bring it to 10 AND has a couple of bookings already!)

None of the businesses mentioned in this post paid me anything to speak nicely about them!  😉  (That’s to cover the legal end of things…)

Wanna see what I accomplished this weekend?

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Here is the mess that I was completely and totally SICK of…

Before

But no longer!!!

AFTER!!!!

 

AHHH!!!!!  I can’t tell you what a sense of accomplishment this is!  Which may or may not be a little weird, OCD, whatever…

But I’m happy, and that’s what counts, right????

(May not look too terribly different to you, but oh my…I can actually FIND things!)

What did you accomplish this weekend???  SHARE TIME!!!  Really!!!  I’m beginning to think I’ve got a group of shy readers.  I know you’re reading.  I can see the stats…  This would really be more fun if it were interactive…  😉

THIS Makes My Heart SOOOO Happy!

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My heart’s DEEPEST desire has been to do something for a living where I could SEE my “work” making a difference in people’s lives.

The jobs that I’ve done in the past 15 years have all allowed OTHERS to be in front of people, providing humor or music or ministry to those that they met and were in with in concert and speaking sessions.  But while that was wonderful, I had high hopes that I would one day be able to SEE the difference that I could make in the lives of those I touched “to make a living”.

On Tuesday, I saw that happen!

I’m going to let you read the story for yourselves:

Mary sent this testimonial letter to us on Friday night in preparation for our vendor booth on Saturday.  If the letter wasn’t enough, on Tuesday evening she sent me a text that said that since she started couponing she has spent $1200.  Before coupons and sales, that amount WOULD have been $2000 AND it has fed their family for 1 1/2 months.  In addition, she is well on her way to having what she needs (excluding bread, eggs and milk) for the months that her husband doesn’t have steady work.  She said, “I was one of those people that swore I’d never shop at more than 1 store, but I do now.  It’s well worth my time!”

And her kids and husband are SO excited.  One of her daughters wanted to sleep in their stockpile closet because it makes her so happy.  One of her boys stopped me at church on Sunday to tell me how good the stockpile closet smells and said, “You need to come over and SEE the closet!  You won’t believe it!” And one of her other boys came running up to me at church on Sunday and said, “Miss Carol, I’ve been talking to my teacher and she wants to get with you to talk to you about how she can save money too!”  He hadn’t even told his mom this yet!  She had to do some research to figure out who it was that we need to touch base with!  🙂

Want to see her stockpile?  THIS is what we’re talking about when we say we encourage families to build a REASONABLE stockpile!  READY?  Here are the pictures that she sent me:

 

Do you see now why I love what I do?  What a difference this will make in their lives this winter while Daddy isn’t working!  With the exception of working with children and for and with Right to Life, this is truly one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.  And once again, I am so grateful that the Lord is allowing me to do it!

What about you?  What questions do you have?  Can I help you?  Comment below!  I would love to!!!!

For more information on Super Coupon Clippers, click on the Facebook link on the right and like our page, email me or comment below.  I can’t wait to hear from you and help you build your story!