Sunday, December 30, 2012

Paris , Perfume & Papaw


Last Sunday I had been running some errands for myself and my grandparents . It was a cold and dreary day and I'd originally hoped to spend it warm and indoors . When I brought my grandparents groceries to them Papaw answered the door very quietly . I thought perhaps my Mamaw was asleep in the other room and he didn't want to wake her . I was wrong . He had a top secret task for me . We usually exchange Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve so you can imagine my surprise when Papaw handed me a post-it with a perfume name scribbled on it and some money attached to it . Since it was already Sunday afternoon and the perfume was Chanel No.5 I was a tad concerned I wouldn't be able to complete the task . I live in a bit of a small town.  The kind with speciality businesses that are closed on Sunday . So, after checking everywhere I could in my town I hit the road for the next town....and then the one after that . Finally I just gave up on small pharmacies, etc. and went to the Mall . Papaw had said that if I couldn't find the perfume he'd requested to feel free and get something else just as nice . He had no intentions of me driving to a neighboring city to complete my task . I didn't tell him either . :-)

I don't know why, but for some reason I couldn't settle for the next best perfume . I didn't want to disappoint him or have him feel like he had disappointed his girl . Not that she was expecting anything from him given his recent illness . Men, this is how they gift shop . I can remember being very small and my Papaw taking me into town to do his Christmas shopping for my Mamaw . It was almost always a day or two before we exchanged gifts . I suppose some things just never change .
I've decided it's cute .

That Sunday evening the stores look like they had been pillaged . I was so grateful for the few bottles of Chanel left in the case . I proudly requested the one bottle I was after , paid and headed back home . The entire time spent on this task I just had a gut feeling I needed to get what Papaw had requested . Not because he'd be upset with me if I didn't, but just for a reason unknown . I even called to ask my Mom did Mamaw even like Chanel No. 5 ?! Mom replied with "it doesn't matter" . I was curious as to why it wouldn't matter, but was so glad to get back to the warmth of my home I didn't give it much more thought . I wrapped Papaws gift for his girl and placed it under my tree .
Monday evening on Christmas Eve , after eating, laughing and chatting the bottle of Chanel was one of the last gifts left .  I motioned to Papaw in a top secret way that it was what he had asked for . He then motioned for me to hand it to Mamaw . I did and let her know who it was from . Since Papaw's been out of the hospital he simply hasn't felt up to much so Mamaw was very surprised to hear that there was a gift from him to her under the tree . She immediately asked my mother and me which of us helped him accomplish this task . Both of us shook our heads and pointed to Papaw , "It was all him ". Once Mamaw opened her gift and saw the packaging for Chanel she looked at Papaw in approval . Job well done . Then a conversation began as if it had been apart of the entire evening . It was as if I hadn't been paying attention or something . It wasn't that I hadn't been paying attention it was that I hadn't been around for this story's origin .  Apparently back in the day when Papaw served in the United States Navy he was stationed in Paris for a brief moment . That year he brought back to his girl , Mamaw,  a bottle of Chanel No. 5 . Mom remembered this from her child hood , hence the "it doesn't matter " response I'd received while on my hunt .  I'm unsure I've felt prouder of a task completed .
I have a ornament that hangs on my tree of the Eiffel Tower that now holds new meaning . I have always dreamed of a visit to Paris , but now knowing that Papaw spent a minute there it has new motivation with it . Remind me to tell you the story of Papaw spending nearly $1,000.00 on pinball and BLT's once on one of his leaves from the Navy  . That'll be another story for another time .

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas !

Sunday, December 23, 2012

~ Know Who You Are and Be OK With It ~

For the last few days I've been simmering on the thought , "Know who you are and be OK with it". Going into the New Year I think it's a solid thought for many of us . You would think that after all these years, life experiences , travels , relationships,  struggles , failures & victories it would be so simple for me to say "this is who I am and I'm o.k. with it" . But that is not always the case simply because I've realized how much of what we tell ourselves  and how much of what we are isn't exactly on course with the truth . Example: Everyone likes to think they are good in an emergency situation , but no one really knows until they are in one .
Another factor to this knowing is our moral , ethical , & spiritual code . We are raised or come into these things and feel as though based on teachings we know what we would do if ever in a situation where these things are tested . That choice being a active example of knowing who we are . But until we are faced with a situation where our moral , ethical or spiritual "code" is in need of being put into action we only "think" we know who we are and what we'd do . It is in the moment of making a choice that we find out who we are and it is after that moment is done and unchangeable that we have to decide are we OK with it ?
Thinking on life , it would seem that most of those life changing and defining choices come in our younger years , like High School . A person is constantly confronted with making a choice to go with this crew and do this thing or that thing or stay at home and spend time with family , the list goes on and on . And with each choice made more of who a person is becomes revealed . However recently I've realized that these big choices don't just happen when we are younger . They follow us throughout life constantly challenging us to keep ahold of who we are and teaching us to be OK with it . I was in conversation with a friend over a controversial topic . One of the first concerns from my friend was the possible "back lash" to my stance . Immediately I responded with something that surprised even me . My response jumped in my face with a reflection of who I am . After the conversation I was driving and lingering on that reflection . I was proud to feel o.k. with it .
It isn't every day that we are going to actually look into a tangible mirror and see our physical reflection and say, "yeah, I'm o.k. with this" . More than likely there will be few days that is our honest response to our physical reflection . But I think that it comes down to our internal reflection that is more important in this battle, discussion, or thought of "knowing who you are and being OK with it". It isn't about comparison . It isn't about , if someone else says somethings o.k. then it's o.k. It's about you deciding for you and being o.k. with the outcome .
Today I had the opportunity to listen to Candace Cameron Bure's testimony given at my Alma Mater Liberty University . I'm grateful for technology and how I can still soak up all that Liberty has to offer even from miles away and as a Alumni . Her message wasn't brazen , emotional , or what I'd consider loud as some messages can be . It was honest , simple , great and a current example of "knowing who you are and being o.k. with it" . It is about 30 minutes so if you have time I'd love to share it with you. If not, perhaps you can stop back by my blog another day to give it a listen . I hope that it speaks to you as it did me .
There is a verse that Candace shares from Ezekiel that really struck a chord with me tonight . I've struggled for awhile with the darkness we are capable of not just as humans, but even as Christians . While we are salt and light to this earth we are also made from the dust of the earth......and that can get muddy . The promise from Ezekiel 36:26 is one that I'm going to attempt to cling to as I walk my path . I have placed it below in several different translations for your benefit . I pray it speak to you and perhaps free you from some unnecessary darkness or burdens .
 Ezekiel 36:26
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh - NIV
 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. -ESV

I'd also like to share this lil' tid bit from my friend Meredith Andrews Sooter . This comes from her time at Girls of Grace not too long ago . It goes along, for me anyway with the message I'm attempting to get across . I pray it encourages you too .


Friday, December 21, 2012

~ A Quick Alteration ~ Quick Fix

Tonight I'm looking forward to having a few friends and their daughters over for some Holiday baking . I've been getting the house , ingredients , and Jack Davis all ready and festive for the occasion . I love a Holiday event as you all know so I'm stoked this last minute addition came up . I'm also super stoked that I purchased these  "just in case"  items for younger guests . I told you here about a little inexpensive pre-planning and it looks like it paid off .
Since there are children involved , icing and sprinkles I decided to move my kitchen table decor to the living room . Covering the kitchen table with a disposable and easy clean table cloth . This way we don't have to worry about keeping clean . The best creativity comes from messiness in my creative opinion .
Well, since my living room table is a bit shorter and more narrow than the kitchen table I needed to do a few quick, subtle, & temporary alterations . Since I want to return it to the kitchen table I don't want to commit to any alterations that include needle and thread .

The top view is fine and doesn't really need adjusting . However, since it's a table runner it does have some trim that hangs on either side . That is what I needed to do a little work on . I didn't want it to lay on the floor in a sloppy manner so , I did a quick alteration with two longer paper clips .
I simply folded inward the amount of fabric that was appropriate.
I then placed a long paper clip on either side of the fold.

Since only one side of my table faces guests I only had to make the correction to the non-visible side .

Leaving the front or guest viewed side of the table looking un altered and ready for company .

So, if you are preparing for guests , parties or simply decorating for your family don't let a little needed alteration slow you down . There's no need to commit with hot glue,  thread and needle. Just give it a second glance and maybe the alteration can be as simple as two paper clips .
Happy Planning
Merry Christmas !!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

~Smart Phone Discounts~

In my Holiday series on discounts, coupons, & earning when spending  I thought I'd share a discount that's more than likely right in your hand . If you own a smart phone you have access to the Internet nearly everywhere you go . To keep up with the times , many stores have online coupons . These are coupons that you don't have to print, but simply pull up on your smart phone and show to the cashier at check out . Not only saving you money, but a tree or two as well . You know how I love me some recycling .

My friend Cindy has already blogged on this wonderful revelation when she explored it's glories on a craft supply outing . Since she already hit some of the high notes on this topic I'll simply direct you to her blog entry , "Getting The Most from Your Craft Store Coupons"  .

Happy Saving !!
Merry Christmas Y'all !!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

~ More Savings Right At Your Finger Tips ~


I wrote here there is more than one way to stretch, earn and save a  dollar . Here are a just a few more tips to tag onto my last post .  As mentioned many shops offer some sort of rewards, savings, or discount program when you sign up to be a "member". All that I have encountered are free memberships and only help in saving money . If a club cost me I doubt I'd join .  Yesterday I shared how in being a member of these clubs you save on groceries, greeting cards , shipping and other varied items . One more bonus to club memberships with several varied grocers is savings on fuel .
Food City
Just today I paid , what in these times feels like a low low price of $2.86 a gallon to fill up my car . I was given this almost 15 cent per gallon discount due to "points" earned when shopping in the grocery store that goes along with the gas station . I feel like I can't say it enough, if you're going to be spending the money anyway you might as well be spending it at a company that is going to reward you for shopping with them . So, not only did my "member"card, which is hung conveniently on my key chain save me a few cents at the register on my groceries it also saved me a few dollars on my bi-weekly fuel up . Mine is not the only grocer to offer these savings in fuel, but many others do as well . It's worth a little research for you to check out which grocers in your area offer this discount . Some grocers offer the discount whether you have shopped in their store your not . You receive several cents off your fuel simply by owning a discount card.....that is free to own BTW .

Your Pass to non stop savings with BONUSCARD®

All my friends are aware that I am a Target shopper . I have written here and here on the glories of the Target Red Debit Card . The Target clearance isles are a girls best friend when it comes to cute, inexpensive and on trend items . Even their grocery isle has a clearance section . Do not be derailed by grocer clearance sections . Just because an item is on the clearance or discount shelf doesn't mean it is near it's expiration and not worth glancing . Many times items are discounted or clearanced simply due to packaging redesign . Another bonus to shopping at Target is that when you bring in your own reusable shopping bag they will reduce your bill 5 cents for each reusable bag you bring in to use in place of their disposable bags . Most of the time I remind the cashier of that discount only because I know how hectic it gets keeping up with everything and everyone from behind the register . Most cashiers thank you for reminding them . They want you to save just as much as you do . It's apart of good customer service . Target isn't the only store that offers this benefit . Just ask as you check out at other stores , "do you offer a discount when I bring my own reusable bag ?" .  Most self check out stations even ask automatically before you begin ringing your items . 

ClearRx prescription bottle image
One more money saving tip and then I'll be done for the day. Pharmacy rewards are another place to save a buck . Most pharmacy departments these days not only offer generic med discounts, but also rewards for using their pharmacy . I'll use Target as my example . With the Target Pharmacy Rewards program you receive a 5% off coupon ( that can be also be used in addition to your 5% off when using the Target Red Card BTW ) with every 5th prescription you fill in their pharmacy . For some folks that may take a while to add up for others it happens in one trip . As if that isn't enough, Target has also begun a PetRx program . YES!! You can drop off your prescription, your pet's prescription, do you grocery shopping, & pick up a gift for whoever all in one stop . has a list of cities that the new program is available in . There are several other pharmacies that offer rewards for filling your scripts with them . All you have to do is ask or check online for details . Again, these are money saving programs that cost you nothing to be a member of .

I say all of this simply to help educate you on ways that you can be saving . Perhaps also to encourage you to check out what may be right at your finger tips for saving .  I wish I had been more aware earlier  . I think I would've been a better saver had I been knowledgeable of how easy it is and all the different ways out there to stretch a buck . I've said it before I'll say it again and again and again , if you're going to be spending the money anyway , you might as well be  rewarded for where you spend it .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

~ Earn When You Spend ~

~Coupon Care Package~
Everything was purchased w/ a coupon and I cut out several
handy coupons for fun things like make up, dorm supplies & date nights.
Making this a fun, inexpensive and thoughtful surprise for a sweet friend .

I'm a fan of coupons , discounts , sales , free things , and of course repurposing . Anything to stretch a dollar . For me this apart of stewardship and I think that in this day and time we are all on some sort of a budget . I have written here about coupon care packages , here about earning some change while shopping online , and too many blogs to count on repurposing items . So, this entry should come as no real surprise .

I know that everyone is finishing their Christmas shopping , getting Holiday greetings in the mail , and putting the icing on their Winter treats . I hope that this blog post will not only help you finish these tasks, but encourage you to take a extra second to log on, save & earn while finishing them . I mean, if you're going to be spending the money anyway , you should be getting a little something in return . It may also help you scratch a gift or two off your list as well .

Spend image
Good Housekeeping Subscription W/ Tote Bag
courtesy of MyCokeRewards - 133 Points
Great Gift for a mom, g'ma or bride to be even . 
The following is a small list of companies that offer rewards when you purchase their products & shop their stores .  There are many others ,  all you have to do is ask and most of the time you don't even have to do that . Most stores with rewards programs publicize it everywhere you turn and the cashiers are prompted to ask as you check out . It only takes a second to sign up on most occasions . There's usually a handy key chain card  for you and your spouse that you receive immediately along with a credit card sized one for your wallet . With most programs you can keep up with your earnings online or simply check the bottom of your receipt when checking out .

Coca~Cola Co.
Food City
Food Lion

Programs such as Coke & Kellog's have you create an account online . Once you do, there are codes on the inside of the packaging or on their products that you input when you have logged into their sites . I have been a member of "MyCokeRewards" for several years and have taken advantage of  rewards such as magazine subscriptions as well as other little stocking stuffer-esq items . It's all about how you save/use your rewards . I look at it this way, if you're hosting a party and providing several 12 packs of coke products you'll get 10 points for each 12 pack . They quickly add up and when you figure depending on the magazine, a subscription can cost anywhere from 12-24 dollars for a year it's almost two birds with one stone . Every Coke product has reward points so even if you aren't a soda drinker you can earn points on things such as Poweraide  .

Programs like Ebats & Hallmark will send you gift certificates or checks after several months in a dollar amount as a reward . Also with the Hallmark , Walgreens , & CVS programs you are often given bonus coupons upon checking out that can be used on your next visit . Just this weekend I had a $5.00 off a $10.00 purchase at Hallmark. This was a coupon I scored out of my mamaw's magazines . When I got to the check out to spend my $5.00 I gave the cashier my rewards card and earned $2.00 off my next purchase of any amount and buy 2 cards get 1 free . Who doesn't have a Birthday or Congrats card on their shopping list ?!

It seems as though you are constantly saving and earning when you spend at these shops . The programs offered at these shops also work with their coupons . So, when I go to say CVS ,  I can use manufacturer coupons , store coupons and my discount card all at once while also earning points for my next visit when I allow them to scan my rewards card . Just be sure to check on a stores coupon policy if you're hestiant or have questions . Not all stores reward the same . Target also has a wonderful program in their Red Card . It comes in the form of either a credit or debit card and you get to choose which you'd rather have . I suggest the debit card simply because if the option to not have interest and a monthly bill is there, why not take it ?! When you use your RedCard , you automatically save 5% off of your bill total . That is in addition too whatever coupons or other discounts you already have . When shopping along with your 5% savings they also give you free shipping . No matter how little or much you spend . I have used this wonderful discount along with my ebates . Not just saving 5% & shipping, but also earning a small percentage back as well . It truly is hard to beat if you're on a budget , heck it's hard to beat even if you aren't on a budget . I didn't just save on what I purchased, but I saved fuel money as well !!!

As I said before I think that these little  bits of savings info are simply apart of my attempting to be a faithful steward with what the Lord's already graciously provided for me . I'm not spending any extra money , though it may be hard to believe . I'm actually saving and at times earning some money back . I'm also not taking any extra time . For those programs that require me to log on and input some info I simply save my lids , packages, etc. until a time when I am sitting down to do work online such as bill paying , emails, etc. I'm already online and it really doesn't add but a minute or two to my online time .

I know that many of you out there are frugalista's like me, so I thought I'd pass along the opportunities for saving and earning while you finish your Holiday "to-do's" . I just don't consider myself a good friend if I don't . And I keep thinking , if you're/I'm going to be spending the money anyway you/I might as well be saving and earning at the same time . Now that I'm aware of these programs and have seem them work I find it extremely difficult to justify spending somewhere that doesn't reward me for being a customer .

Happy Earning
Merry Christmas !
Remember it isn't the cost, but the thought that counts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

~ Holiday "to-do" ~ Another Gift, Craft , & Repurpose ~

I think every one gets a tin of pop corn , cookies or other varied goodies at some point in the Holiday season . I believe there are three empty tins in my house from Holidays past .Before you toss those empty tins give them a second thought......and a second purpose .  I have repurposed one of the tin's to hold grocery bags , the other is still TBR (to be repurposed) and the smallest of the tins I have made into what will be a Christmas gift for some of my favorite four legged friends .

I began by spray painting the tin white to cover up the original design. Ignore the frame in the pic . That is another Holiday project I'll share later .
Simple white spray paint ~$0.98 cents

 After letting it dry for a day I then spray painted it the color I wanted . I used pink simply because I already had it on hand . That decided which four legged friend would receive this gift as well .

After letting the tin and lid dry for another day I began prepping the tin for a little labeling & design . I used painters tape to help keep my writing even .
I plan on filling it with home made dog treats . Hoping it will be a good treat container for future treats as well . It'll make a fun and purposeful container to help organize a pantry or closet .
I added a little paw print to the lid and on either side of the word "treat" .
I simply used small and medium circular paint sponges for the paws.
I'm very excited to add treats to this and give it as a gift this Christmas .
What have you created this Holiday season ?
Merry Christmas Y'all !
Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Repurpose

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

~ Holiday Baking ~ Holiday "To-Do" ~

Hey Gang !! It's been a few days . I've been a bit under the weather and just haven't seemed to be productive by any means . Other than running a few errands for my grandparents everything else has fallen to the side for a moment . This evening however, I finally got to one of my " pin-spirations"  . My friend Stephanie tested this Pin first and after her success I thought I'd give it a go as well . Most of my close friends know that one of my favorite activities when I lived in Chattanooga was to paint pottery . I introduced the fun creative outlet to several of my dorm girls and colleagues . It quickly became a favorite way to spend quality time together . I think this new craft is going to quickly take the place of my pottery painting for awhile .

I told you here that I was working on a project supplied by some awesome Walgreen's coupons and I'd report back . This is my report . Your supplies are simply a blank mug and your choice of  Sharpie's . I purchased both fine and ultra fine tips in green and red . You could also do this on a blank plate, bowl, serving dish , the options are many .
Mug ~ $1.00 @ the Dollar Tree
I chose a mug with a smooth surface since this is
 my first attempt at this project .

W/ Walgreen's Coupon ~ $0.29 each

Making the total cost for my project $3.16 pls tx . 
After washing and drying the blank mugs I simply sat down and let the creativity flow . Since this was my first try at this idea I was hesitant to try anything too difficult. I'm not a natural artist and my hand writing is awful . So, I wanted to be very careful with my choices . So, I did two different Holiday themed mugs, one decorated with Holly Berries and another with Peppermints .


I love special touches to a home made project . So, being sure to decorate the handles and a little surprise on the inside of the mug became the perfect additions to these mugs . Once I finished my Holiday designs I placed them on a cookie baking sheet in a cool oven . I then turned the oven on bake and 250 leaving the mugs inside to heat up and cool down with the oven . After I turned on the oven I set my timer for 30 minutes . Once they finish baking they will be hand wash & beverage ready . This is the same process I use when painting & baking glass .
I plan to gift these possibly with some Peppermint Tea as a fun Christmas gift to a dear friend . I hope that this little Holiday"pin-did" inspires you to create some of your gifts . After all, it isn't the cost, but the thought that counts , especially in the Holiday season .
Merry Christmas Y'all !!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

~ Hot Chocolate ~ Holiday Recipe ~

One of the best things winter offers is the wonderful excuse to drink chocolate ! Hot chocolate, peppermint mocha's , white mocha latte's & nearly any other other idea your heart desires . Several years ago I began making hot chocolate on the stove . I was snowed in and with out those handy little packets that are so handy . I'm glad I didn't have one because as they say , necessity is the mother of invention . I realize I am by no means the first to make hot chocolate in a sauce pan , but in these busy days it seems like a lost art . Tonight I made my first mug of hot chocolate for the winter and realized I needed to share it with you .

~ Here are my ingredients ~

Everything is per your preference. This just happens to be mine. 
1 1/2 Cup of Milk - I use 2%
10-12 Milk Chocolate Melting Chips
1-2 tsp Vanilla Liquid Coffee Creamer - I used fat free
1 -2 tblsp Cool Whip or Whip Cream - I use fat free
Pre-heat a stove eye on low .
In a small sauce pan spray some non stick cooking spray .
Place the 10-12 melting chips into the sauce pan and stir occasionally aiding in the melting process.
Pour in your 1 1/2 C of Milk and continue slowly stirring until milk is warm .
Pour in 1-2 tsp vanilla creamer, continue stirring .
Once the mixture is the temp of your preference , remove it from the stove and pour into a mug of your choice . Dollop cool whip or whip cream , add mallow and enjoy !!
For the holidays I like to add peppermint like a candy cane and white chocolate melting chips .
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays' !!

~ Holiday "To-Do" Elf on the Shelf ~

This weeks Walgreens Ad inspired today's blog . It was full of wonderful COUPONS !!!!  Coupons for Holiday items such as gift, treat bags , candy and other awesome stuff . What I took advantage of  however are the sharpie , candy cane pens and activity book coupons . I plan to use the Sharpie's for a craft that a friend told me about . I'm sure I'll share about that later once it's complete .

Tied together with a Holiday ribbon they would make a fun
gift for a teacher, secretary , or student  . What a
fun pen to take finals or grade with .

It's been five days of back and forth from the hospital and now that Papaw is home we are all in need of a good lazy day . It is cold and dreary here so it's a perfect day for staying inside, doing some chores, getting some rest and maybe even a little creative-therapy . For me that creative-therapy includes this blog post . I love coupons, kids, thoughtful gifts , and a party . If you do too, this Holiday planning tip will  be perfect for you . The only problem is that the coupons end on Saturday . I should've written this blog entry much sooner, but just didn't have the opportunity . My bad y'all !

If you are hosting, gifting or even baby sitting some little one's this Holiday season then this is a great inexpensive idea for you . Using the coupons in this weeks add , it could potentially only cost you $3.00 . Give or take a buck depending on the amount you need . I know that hosting a dinner or even a small get together when kids are involved  can be like a circus . A fun little something that you could offer to your young guest is a Holiday themed Activity book and Candy Cane shaped/scented pen . I realize that some Host/Hostess have such a large guest list that purchasing a gift for everyone is simply unrealistic . I think however a surprise for the little ones is very doable. Not only will it make them feel special but it will entertain them for a while .
The Activity Books with the coupon are 3 for $1.00. The pens which are a wonderful addition to any Christmas care package or gift are 6 for $1.00 . That is a possibility of 6 lil' prizes for only $3.00 pls tx . Each coupon has a limit as to how many of the items you can purchase so, make note of the small print as you make your list . I feel like the ideas beyond a dinner party gift are endless . Entertainment for A car ride , a Christmas Eve activity , stocking stuffer , something to keep little hands busy during church , or even a Elf on the Shelf activity . You could open to one of the pages, complete part of a activity or coloring page , position your Elf and ta-da a fun morning surprise for your mini-me. I'd love to hear what inspiration you get from this bargain. Feel free to share !!!
I hope this Holiday "to-do" tip helps you mark at least one thing off your list .
Happy Holidays' and Happy Planning !!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

~ I've Had a Little Work Done ~

I thought that since my blog turned 100 she deserved a little face lift . I've loved everything about the look of my blog and very well may go back to that look at some point . But for a moment, I thought something a little brighter , a little sparkly-er , and a little Stacie-er was called for . I hope that you like the new look . I appreciate your feed back . You are the reader and if you can't see , find , or discern what's what please let me know .

~ Stacie

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy 100th ~ I Was Here ~

According to my blogger counter this is my 100th blog post . WOWSA!!!! It's been a little over a year and a half since I began this journey of blogging . I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it or if I'd even be able to be consistent . I'm unsure how consistent my readers would consider me, but I'm grateful none the less to have friends, family, and people I have never and may never meet continue to read it . My original thought in sharing my life via blog was that what God may have for me , may not just be for me . You can find my first blog here . As I've walked (typed) the journey of 100 posts I have found that I was absolutely correct , for once . My life journey has not been all that far off from others , surprisingly around the world . I have received texts, comments, emails and FB messages assuring me that I am not the only one that God is still working on . It has been one of the truest forms of therapy and ministry that I've experienced . I mean none of this to boast of myself, but of God . It has been a reiteration that He will use ANYTHING and speak through ANYONE if we just let Him . We don't need to spend so much time asking "How will He use me ?, How can He use me ?" , we've just gotta start doing and saying things that can be used !

The last few days have been very stressful, draining , and just a bit overwhelming . I have several dear loved ones suffering medically . You can read on some of them , how to pray or give back here,  here ,  & here .  It's been rattling my brain how it all seems to happen at once . But that's life , it never happens in small portions . With my 100th blog post and the recent goings on in my world I've been thinking so much on life, death, and the mark we leave behind . What influence have we had on those around us ? I'm not so sure my influence has always been that great . Actually , I'm sure it hasn't . However, I hope that at some point I've been able to point back to the One who has always been there for me . I hope that somewhere along the way someone saw something that would indicate a heart that has been changed and a life that works to reflect that . I'll never be perfect this side of Heaven . That's not what I'm saying . It's that in all my imperfection I would still strive to leave a foot print .

I've been listening to a song by Beyonce for the last few days . Don't laugh, it isn't "put a ring on it" I swear!! I caught a section of it online or tv and had to search it on itunes ASAP . The lyrics really spoke to me and still do . I've been singing along for days in my car as I drive back and forth from the hospital . I could clip different lyrics as examples, but the entire song really is worth a listen and a read in my opinion . The basic story of the song is to live a life that meant something to someone. Leaving behind a mark so that people would know you've been here .

This performance is from the United Nations Humanitarian Day.

If you're considering starting a blog or are wondering how you can get started with leaving your foot print I would encourage you to just step out and make a move of faith . If one thing isn't your "fit", then move onto something else . There are so many different ways to give back and love on folks . As I mentioned here  , one of my current "projects" is something simple that I can literally do in my sleep . Growing my hair , or  Beautiful Lengths .   I have a friend that is "that guy ringing the bell " outside of the store during the holidays, . Another friend that ran a Tough Mudder to honor the military , . There are so many varied "things" you can get involved in alone or with a group to begin making your mark . It can even be a one time thing . I think it's important for us all to give a little in our own way in order to feel not so small in this big ol' world , like we contributed . It's SO easy to get lost in the enormity of life . I hope that somehow this lil' blog helps encourage you . I don't think it's about being a "hero", "fearless", or even excelling at something . It's just about trying . I hope to leave my foot print in several places as I grow in life , but I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to leave a mark in the blogasphere and in your life via my blog . Thank you for letting me contribute and feel a little less small via The Faith Journals .
Thank you for reading !!
I plan/hope to have at least 100 more to come .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Are You There God ? It's me, Stacie .

Mark 11:24          
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have
received it, and it will be yours.

Last night I couldn't sleep. I wasn't restless, ill, over caffeinated or whatever the norms are for difficulty sleeping . It was somewhere around 4 a.m. before I finally dozed off . My mind was running a million miles a minute with thoughts, prayers, worries and memories of a sister in Christ that is going through a unexpected and difficult end to her pregnancy . Yesterday afternoon my sister in Christ gave birth about 6 1/2 weeks early to her son, Hudson . Hudson Phillip Cook is already proving he is the son of my sweet friends . Arriving early, over achieving and with a plan of his own . It kinda makes me giggle how is he already SO MUCH like his momma and daddy . While the circumstances have been scary and a real test of faith , I've been reminded over and over how in control God really is . My sweet friends are planners to the max . We all served together in campus leadership & ministry, and our favorite activity to do together was (still is) a fire drill . One of our favorite phrases during our 2 a.m. winter fire drills , "Uhm, A fire doesn't care if you have exams tomorrow, it's 2 a.m. or snowing. A fire does what it wants and you need to be prepared dear student.", HA!

Well, you can't prepare your self for this kind of experience . If so, I'm sure Hudson's dad would've done a drill of some sort . I'm making light , but in all seriousness these are the friends you call when you are "man down", if they can't fix it, they know who can . So, to hear that they have been taken so off guard in a situation that no one can plan for and to feel as though there's nothing I can do to help , simply breaks my heart . Having served in the ministry that we did , we are all natural "fixers" . "What can I do ? How can I help ? What do you need ? " are phrases we've all uttered probably a million times. Along with staying up long nights, making runs to the hospital, pharmacy or air port to help some one out .  That's just for each other not to mention the students we served . This is the type of situation that those kinds of questions have no answers , but simply to pray . And to be honest , it may be the most difficult thing for me to do right now . My hands are not busy in prayer, I'm not running all over the place getting "things" that are "needed" , and yet it is the best thing I can do for my friends . Funny how God showed me this verse just yesterday, before I was aware of what my friends were going through .
In the last several weeks God has been doing His best to get this idea etched into my brain . I've shared here about my friend Tricia and the medical situations she's been going through . I wrote here about my besties sister- in - law who at the time was battling cancer . Sadly A week ago today she lost her battle . This morning I was alerted to a close family member being ill and even now I write about another friend in a incredible situation and still I battle with the idea of prayer being the only option . As if that isn't the best option !! Why do I find it so hard to pray right now ? Why is it that's all God's given me to do in these situations ? Can He even hear me in the midst of all the voices crying out to Him ?! Have I used up my prayer allotment with selfish requests ?! I feel like a child looking up in the abyss of a big blue sky and asking , "Are you there God ? It's, me. You're daughter."

Romans 8:26         
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Several years ago I traveled to El Salvador on a missions trip . While there , I gave my testimony  and I said the following (El Salvador journal entry) -"My entire life's purpose may be this moment . To tell you about God and how He's changed my life , but I'm not gonna know my life's purpose until I've completed it . So, I've gotta keep following after God and what He has for me. Step by step. That includes whatever He has for me here in El Salvador . I must live fearless. " That night God tested my words and true purpose . I got very sick and spent the next 4 or 5 days in a local hospital. By the 3rd day I began to battle with God as to why He even sent me there . How was this useful ? How was my being in the hospital & sick helpful to the ministry , the team, the people we were there to serve, and to Him ?! Eventually, I calmed down and felt His peace in my heart . I realized in that very moment that we are not all to be physically on the "front lines" . Some of us have to be in the "bunkers" helping prepare , protect , and praise . Through that illness I was given days alone to spend in prayer, on the spiritual "front lines" . Prayer for my team, the country , the people we worked with and those that had given to help get us there . Each night someone from the team would come back and give me an update on what the ministry had been like that day .  I was forced to realize I am not in control . God is . And with His mighty control, He has asked me to pray . He could've asked me to build a rocket, be a missionary to another country, go to the grocery store , or anything else, but He has INTRUSTED me to pray !!! Hot diggidy!!  Even as I type this the enemy is doing his best to lead me otherwise . But, this is a BIG DEAL !!! He has called us, in trusted us , and made promises to us that other wise will not be fulfilled, but through prayer . For those of you that are in the position I am in find a purpose in that very idea . You've been in trusted by our God ,who can move mountains with out us by the way, to come to the foot of His mighty throne and talk to Him on behalf of those that simply can't right now .

Matthew 18:19-20         
Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Ephesians 6:18         
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

I'm now praying with purpose and calling for my friend, her husband, sweet baby boy,  family, my other dear friends and my own family that they would feel the prayers of all those around them near and far . That there would be comfort of some kind in the idea that God IS in control . He heals, He prepares, He provides, He comforts, He grows and most of all He loves !!!!

And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
1 John 5:14-15
Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 50:15
  And call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me."
Matthew 21:21-22      
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Luke 22:42
“…not My will, but Yours, be done.”