Where Do You Find Your Value?

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(My daughter who hasn’t yet figured out social media and learned recently what real value was. Goodness how lucky for her!)¬†

 

Ready for some random ramblings? Sorry, you’re in for it again this week. ūüėČ

 

I’m working on putting a post together sharing all the things I learned this past week about how¬†not¬†to let Facebook take over your page (whether you’re a blogger or just a user), but am waiting to hear back from Facebook to make sure that all the images I’ve documented are correct.¬†

 

In the meantime, I wanted to share something that I learned ridiculously through this experience, because maybe you’ve been there too. ¬†Even though you may not be a blogger fighting to get back your Facebook following of over 200,000 folks,¬†I’m betting you (or your teen/tween-age children) have been here.

 

Saturday night, when the PPP page was completely totally gone, I literally stayed up all night just sick. 

 

I was sick because I didn’t know if all the¬†readers were just gone. I was sick because as far as I could tell the page was completely lost. And I was just sick because I’d known for a long time that way too much of my traffic comes from Facebook, so it could literally ruin the business that I’ve worked five years to create.

 

(Y’all, if you could please sign up for emails I would really appreciate that so that I¬†have a way to keep you up to date with the deals in case something crazy like this ever happens again, 0kay? Or, better yet, come visit PPP every day – I post deals¬†every. single. day.¬†ten to twenty times per day except Sundays. I’d love for you to come check them¬†out because I promise they’ll be here. really. every. day.) ūüėČ

 

But do you know what really sickened me? As stupid and prideful and obnoxious and ridiculous as this sounds, I literally felt a loss of my identity.

 

When people ask me what I¬†“do” each day, I usually respond that I’m a stay at home mom. And then let them know that I run a frugal living blog. More often than not¬†they kind of laugh it off, but then when I mention I have 190,000 Facebook fans (ahem,¬†200,000 275,000¬†Facebook fans . . . CRAZY!),¬†all of a sudden I feel like I’m a little more valuable.

 

A little more worthy.

 

A little more important. (Don’t you think?)

 

bleck.

 

So when all 200,000 of you were just gone, I kind of questioned my identity. All of a sudden I turned into just me. Plain old Laurie, not all that special, just a silly mom who likes to clip coupons and figure out how cheaply she can make dinner each night.

 

I realized then and there that I’ve put my value into something that’s so stinkin’ temporal.¬†Something that can (and did) go away at any moment. And something that doesn’t show my¬†real value at all.

 

yikes.

 

At that point I really didn’t know if all those Facebook fans even existed. ¬†It wasn’t until Monday that the hacker chose to put the page back up and start posting his or her own images that I saw the page was still there. At first,¬†I honestly felt there was no hope to get everyone back here.

 

Do you know what I’ve so easily done? I’ve put my value into a silly online place that doesn’t have show my¬†value at all.

 

I’ve allowed who I am to be defined by this silly computer world rather than who I am in real life.

 

It’s kind of scary how quickly your identity can be pulled away.

 

Wanna know what’s scarier? ¬†Our children are doing the same thing every single day.

 

I’ve watched my son post a picture in his Instagram feed and three hours later feel a little bit hurt because his Instagram friends didn’t notice him as much as they noticed¬†¬†another kid.

 

I’ve watched a good friend’s daughter¬†who’s off in college think they’re awesome because 1,000 people liked their super cute picture and all of a sudden they have value for the day.

 

And I’ve watched an even-older-super-smart-crazy-talented-23-year-old question why they don’t have as many followers on as some 11-year olds.

 

Yikes.

 

But what are my kids seeing in me?

 

I’m not awesome enough to ever have real value because of who I am.¬†The only value I’ve ever had for even a moment comes from Whose I am. And¬†allowing¬†my children fall for the lie that the internet determines their value is a mistake.

 

And guess what?

 

Letting myself fall for that same lie is a mistake too.

 

For me, the business side of this mess was real Рit could have impacted how PPP was run, whether or not I continued, and how we were able to give to others. So I am beyond thankful that it was fixed. (And honestly, so thankful for this crazy-internet-thing of ours even when it does make me nuts.)

 

But the identity crisis thing really scares me. Deep down all I am is just a mom who loves to penny pinch, pray with her favorites, and come up with fun ways to craft and decorate things. If everything else was gone, that just-a-mom is probably the favorite mom my kids have.

 

I encourage you . . . if you find your value online sometimes as well to really consider where your value comes from¬†too.¬†And just as importantly to consider where your children find their value. (Gosh, that’s so hard to do!)

 


Our value is so much more than what this ole’ world tells¬†us right now, and I’m telling you right now in case no one else does today that you are so precious and oh-so-valuable just the way you are.

 

Be encouraged that if this mom can find her value in the wrong place and you’ve felt the same way, you’re not alone. And¬†thank heavens God’s infinite value rests in us (’cause really, most of us are just a mess, aren’t we?) ūüėČ

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.¬†And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.¬†Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. ¬†If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you.” Matthew 6:25-30

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Sometimes You Have No Control

 

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UPDATE: I’m afraid to say this but I think I’ve got control of the FB page back! THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your kind words and support – I’m so thankful for each one of you!!!!!

 

Guys, it’s been a long yucky last few days.

This Facebook mess has not gotten a single bit better, and we didn’t get home this morning until¬†1AM from Alabama after having our car repaired (no charge, thank heavens!), then¬†woke up at 5:40 to get everyone moving for school.

 

(Despite the craziness we absolutely loved seeing so many sweet friends in Madison while visiting ~ they’ve been our family in many ways the last ten years and we’re so thankful for them!)

 

Once the kids were off to school, I decided to spend 30 minutes handling the things I can control, because clearly some things are out of my reach.

 

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I tackled our disastrous bedroom after getting home so late last night.

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Then I cleared off the mess on our kitchen counters that from the middle-of-the-night-craziness,

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And tidied up the kitchen sink, put away the suitcases, and started a load of laundry. (Sorry, pics of the laundry not included.) ūüėČ

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I¬†even dumped my family’s favorite dinner in Mrs. Potts, and felt like I at least had a good handle on the things I¬†could handle in the midst of this mess.¬†

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Then, this ridiculous puppy came in from outside (it started snowing while he was out), and was covered in mud  from head to toe.

 

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(Seriously, what are you going to do with that face?)

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So after a quick bath he sat down for a nap while I determined to tackle this Facebook mess on PPP.

 

I handled re-submitting emails to dozens of Facebook pages again this morning, and then sure enough¬†the hacker who has control of the PPP Facebook page started sharing just awful links on PPP. (awful. really really awful. just make-me-want-to-vomit-can’t-believe-my-image-is-right-up-there-next-to-that-awful.)¬†I’ve sent screenshots, emails, and timelines to every person I can find at Facebook, and so far have heard nothing back.

 

 

Do you know what occurred to me?

 

I have no control.

 

I can’t control Facebook. I can’t control my kids. I can’t control my dog, my husband, or anyone else at all.

 

I can only control me (and I’m feeling a wee bit out of control right now!)

 

Y’all, I’ve been typing at this computer for over five years now, and it’s only been in the last 1-2 years that my work here has been worth the hours I put into it.¬†I’ve sacrificed time with my family, time with my friends, time to exercise, time to read and so much more because I felt like there was a purpose here.

 

And it has been blessed in ways I never imagined.

 

But right now it’s hard. And I don’t know if it’s worth it. And I’m¬†tired.

 

My sweet friend Staci called me right as I was completely losing it and suggested I put away my computer and just walk away for an hour. I think I’m going to take her up on it, so if anything smutty comes up on the PPP Facebook page please know that it’s not from me. And I really am doing the best I can to get it fixed (a few folks mentioned that they were afraid I wasn’t doing anything on the PPP Facebook page,¬†but I promise I’ve done all I know to do.) I can’t begin to tell you the hours of work that have gone in to growing a page to that size, and I was so excited about celebrating with lots of fun giveaways this week on hitting 200,000 fans finally, so this just sickens me.

 

 

But really, there are just seasons when things are out of our own control, and I know this is one of many for me. I cannot begin to tell you how much your support as well of those of several wonderful bloggers has meant to me. I am so humbled by the sympathy and generosity of complete strangers, and am just amazed that people would shower kindness on this mess of a momma.

 

Now I’m off to take a nap before my kids get home from school. ūüėȬ†If you’re going through an uncontrollable season too, I’m thinking you should find a way to take a nap too sometime today. I’m so reminded that His grace is sufficient for me, so I’m handing over some control ¬†right now and hoping you’re able to do find a way to do that too.

 

 

¬†But he said to me, ‚ÄúMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.‚ÄĚ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‚Äôs power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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My Wingback Chair Story + Why Patience & Budgeting Is Worth It

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My $2 chair

 

It’s time to chat budgeting . . .¬†anyone else with me?¬†

 

When my husband and I were first married, we bought the cutest little ranch fixer upper. It had a pretty basic floor plan – tiny living and dining room right off the tiny foyer as you walked through the front door.

 

It was a solid three years before we could afford to do anything with those little rooms (the owners before us chose a lovely neon turquoise carpet ~ seriously ~ who puts in neon turquoise carpet?) When we finally were ready to fluff up those rooms I had big dreams in my head.

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My mom gave¬†us our¬†piano, and I just knew¬†that little living room would be¬†perfect if I could just afford two wing back chairs to sit opposite the piano (flanking either side of a tall window ~ I wish I had pictures to show you!) I would move kitchen chairs into the living room to see how they would look. I’d sit in each corner waiting for a chair and just imagine they were already there. And I stayed up at night dreaming of the perfect wingback chairs.

 

I really wanted those chairs. ūüėČ

 

It went so far that I actually believed that if I¬†just had those chairs, my daily prayer time would become consistent. Because clearly with those chairs I’d have just the perfect spot to sit down with my Bible and Bible Study book in, so all my excuses would just fly right out the window.

 

It finally occurred to me¬†that Jesus didn’t exactly need wingback chairs to make way for His own quiet time.¬†

 

~Ahem.~ 

 

(Y’all, I kid you not, these thoughts really did go through this 23 year old’s head . . . gracious I’ve always been a mess!) ūüėČ

 

Sure enough, one day while walking through JCPenney I saw a Buy One Get One Free LaZBoy Wingback chair sale. 

 

I needed them. 

 

I convinced my husband they were perfect (what man doesn’t get excited when you say the word LaZBoy?), and was so stinkin’ excited to finish up the room I could hardly stand it. (These were them¬†exactly¬†~ bleck!)

 

Because we couldn’t afford what I really wanted (I was dreaming of something more like these back then?), I settled for those chairs, and honestly¬†hated them in every single room¬†we moved them to. I finally sold those suckers on Craigslist two years ago for¬†less than $100, and was so ready to see them go.

 

And guess what?

 

They didn’t magically make me spend more time in Bible Study.

 

They didn’t automatically fix all the other flaws in our home.

 

And they didn’t just up and make me perfectly happy.

 

Buying stuff never does.

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Fast forward fifteen years.

 

I’ve learned a¬†lot about stuff. I’ve learned that waiting for what I¬†really want instead of settling for second best is oh-so-worth it.

 

I’ve learned that Goodwill and thrift stores have awesome bargains,¬†and if I decide eventually to throw away that $2 chair it won’t break my heart the way never being satisfied with those $399 chairs did. (They were $399 for both after the BOGO sale – just to clarify.) ūüėČ

 

I’ve learned that contentment doesn’t come from stuff to begin with, and you can make just about anything beautiful with a little work and determination.

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The moral of the story? 

 

Don’t fool yourself into believing that if you have just that one thing your life will all of a sudden find peace. Because while you may fill that one spot, another ten spots will pop up just waiting for some attention. (Promise. I’ve been there.)

 

Instead, determine¬†your budget, if you can afford to frugally fix things up have at it, but¬†don’t stress over buying something right this second that you have no business buying.¬†Choose to make whatever space you’re in beautiful by simply tidying it up, clearing off the counters, and slapping some fresh paint on a room¬†if you need to. (Need inexpensive paint? Try the home improvement store clearance bins!)

 

If you’re just starting out, know that one day your budget really will change, and those things you’ve dreamed of forever might just come into reach.¬†And, odds are your taste will really change along the way, so be patient and do things for as little money as you can while you have time¬†to figure out what you really love.

Determine today to stick to a budget in 2015, and wait patiently for the things you really want until you can afford them.¬†It may take some time to get there, but I promise it’s¬†so¬†worth the wait!

 

 

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Slowing Down?

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You may have seen over on Facebook my oldest’s warning to me¬†on Christmas Eve.¬†

 

Bleck. 

 

I’m so not ready for these crazy kids of mine to grow so fast, and while I am¬†so enjoying them as they’re getting older, it’s bittersweet as¬†I know I don’t have forever at home with this busy¬†bunch.

 

While I love (love love love!) my work here on PPP, over the last year I’ve become more and more and¬†more taken over by all the deals, and sometimes have spent as many as 12-14 hours working here to keep up with everything.¬†

 

It’s simply been too much!

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So, you may have noticed a bit of a slow down around here the last week, and things will¬†stay slowed¬†down at least until next week when my kiddos are back in school. And, because I’d love to just have a life again one of these days, I’m looking at ways to continue sharing the very best deals¬†with you every day, as well as adding in just really fun stuff that doesn’t have to be kept up with every single hour of the day.

 

(Here’s the schedule I’m thinking about keeping starting next week in addition to regular deals ~ thoughts anyone?)

  • Monday – Menu Planning (including easy ways to get it all together)
  • Tuesday – Cleaning Idea
  • Wednesday – Recipe
  • Thursday – Budgeting
  • Friday – Friday Fluff Up

 

 

I realized over the last few months that I was spending¬†hours looking for awesome deals, when sometimes there just weren’t any so-awesome-I-can’t-hardly-stand-not-to-tell-you-about-them deals to share with you.¬†Some days I’d just sit searching and searching and searching, and end up with eyes glazed over and only mediocre bargains to share.

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So, we’ll see how it goes ~ I’m enjoying some extra time with my favorites ~ and know you all are always so gracious to¬†understand for now. If you have little ones at home, your days probably feel plain old hard and long sometimes, but goodness, just like everyone else has told you, they are F.L.E.E.T.I.N.G.

 

Hang in there, know those babies won’t be babies for long, and snuggle them an extra time or two just for me. What a wonderful opportunity us mommas are¬†given each day!

 

Photos courtesy of Megan Edwards Photography

 

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What Are You Making This Christmas?

Looking for more penny pinched recipes? Here you go

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Goodness, how I love baking. 

 

I mean really, I love baking.  Or cooking.  Or mixing. All of it.

 

If it were up to me I’d wake up bright and early every day and hang out in my kitchen¬†all day long.

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And my pantry would magically always be filled with every ingredient I needed¬†so I’d never¬†need¬†to run to the store.

 

And, I wouldn’t have to head to the gym before and after a baking session to make up for sneaking a bite. Or two. Ahem¬†ūüėČ

 

(I’m planning to go first thing in the morning.¬†Promise.)

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Here’s a peek at our kitchen tonight . . .

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My husband and son made their second batch of Chex Mix this¬†year ~ they doubled the worcestershire and cayenne pepper and it really was the best it’s ever been!

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Then I made some Christmas Crack (so good, but I almost completely made a mess because the goo in the middle started to bubble over in my oven – make sure to keep a larger pan underneath your baking sheet to be sure to catch any extra goo!)

 

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A quick batch of marshmallow fudge (y’all, this is the easiest fudge recipe you’ll ever make, and my youngest informed me tonight that I needed to teach her how to make it when she grew up herself.)

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Some Oreo Truffles – I’ve never made these before, but used this super handy Black & Decker Food Chopper that I’d bought this summer when it was on sale (it was just $10 then!) I love love love this little gadget and it made mixing these up a breeze!

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A few M&M Pretzel Bites – I forgot to get the Christmas colors and we used the red and green ones to give away to other people ~ so we’re stuck with the orange and blue ones for Christmas at our house! ūüėČ

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And for breakfast tomorrow morning I went ahead and made our favorite Almost Homemade Cinnamon Rolls¬†trying out Jen from Balancing Beauty & Bedlam’s fancy Christmas Tree idea. Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as hers, but I’m pretty sure my family won’t care! ūüėČ I’ll try to take a picture in the morning to let you see how they fluff up.

 

So, what are you baking for Christmas? Leave a comment to share (and a link to the recipe if you’d like!) I’d love to hear!

 If you need a little more menu inspiration, go HERE. 

 

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Our Christmas Surprise!

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Soooo excited about our fun Christmas surprise for our kids today! Meet Summit ~ our new Goldendoodle. (My kids said last Spring that if we ever bought a dog they’d name him Summit so that when he got in trouble we could holler “dadgummit, Summit!”) ūüôā

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When we moved to Ohio so many folks shared that getting a pet might help our house feel more like home, and already (in the 3 hours we’ve had him!)¬†he seems to be just the perfect fit¬†for our family. We are new to house training and having an indoor dog though, so I could sure use any tips you have.

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If you have any recommendations on favorite pet toys, house training, or puppies in general I would love to hear them ~ we’re so excited¬†but a little lost too. So much fun though!

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(Pretty sure watching a sleeping puppy is like watching a sleeping baby – they just look so perfect, and it’s the only time they stand still. We love him already!)

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Christmas Gifts For Our Children: When Is Enough, Enough? (Guest Post on DaveRamsey.com)

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Oh my goodness gracious. Like, for real, oh. my. stars. 

 

I’m so excited (really,¬†thrilled!)¬†to share a guest post today over at DaveRamsey.com. (Y’all, I have chill¬†bumps just knowing it’s over there. WOW!)

 

Here’s a preview¬†of the post . . .¬†

 

A good friend of mine once asked: “How much do¬†real¬†families budget for Christmas gifts for their children?”

Yikes.

If there was ever a question I didn’t want to get into at Christmas,¬†that¬†would be the one.¬†

It did get¬†me thinking though‚ÄĒand after fourteen Christmas mornings with a few of the cutest kids running around our home, our family has¬†learned a thing or two.

Decide early what Christmas will look like for your family.

Goodness, I wish I could tell every momma of a one-year-old¬†that¬†they¬†simply¬†don’t need to¬†spend more than $20 to $30 on their sweet baby.¬†Babies have as much fun with the packaging‚ÄĒwrapping paper and boxes‚ÄĒas they do the actual presents . . .¬†and my bet is a few¬†family members will add to their¬†Christmas loot.

By choosing to purchase less when they’re little, you’re¬† paving the way for your child’s future expectations. If you shell out $500 in gifts to a four-year-old, just imagine what their expectations will look like when they’re fourteen.

Start simply. Be different. Determine when your kids are young that Christmas will be about more than dozens of gifts under the tree.

 

Read the rest of the post over HERE.

 

(yay!) ūüôā

 

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Winter In November?

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It’s our first snow day here in Ohio! My kids are¬†thrilled (I’m a little behind here on PPP while keeping up with them), but¬†I thought you might enjoy a peek. After having to come up with ways to become a¬†wee bit creative to enjoy winter last year down in Alabama, this is a big treat for them.

(Remind me of that in January – rumor has it this is the earliest snow day they’ve had in years here so you can bet I’m a little worried.) ūüėČ

 

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Has it already snowed in your hometown this year? I don’t keep up with the weather much at all, but I’m afraid it looks like we’re in for a long winter!

 

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Praying With Your Children (The Addendum)

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Time for some random rambling today ~ if you’re here just for¬†the deals (I understand!)¬†scoot on past to the next penny pinched post. ūüėČ

Some of you may remember probably my favorite ever post sharing how I started praying with my kids when they were tiny.

 

Well, all too quickly my kids are getting bigger (ugh), but the most amazing transformation has happened.

 

A few weeks ago, I was in a hurry (I’m always in a hurry), and rushed my kids along to bed. I was working on the computer and told them I’d be there to tuck them in shortly.

 

Shortly turned into not-so-shortly, and when I finally made it upstairs¬†I found two cute girls in the middle of the floor of one of their bedrooms, Bible in one girl’s hands and a children’s devotional book wide open.

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(This is the one they found – similar to this one.)

I plopped down next to them, snuggled in close, and they led me in a much needed bit of quiet time.

 

Three weeks later, at about 8:12 each night, my girls call me upstairs for our quiet time together. When I told them a few days ago that I was way too busy to make it up, my eleven-year-old informed me that I needed our quiet time more than she did.

 

Ahem.

 

I really don’t know how I ended up so lucky. (Seriously folks, I would never have dreamed this future for my family!) But what I’m loving about this precious time is that even when I don’t take the time to slow down a bit, my children¬†call me to this happy little place each night where we can talk about our fears, thank God for the good stuff, and just love on each other a bit.

 

The devotionals are quick Рlast night we talked about making new friends and the night before was about not being anxious (which I needed to remember way more than my girls did!)  The best part is that at the end of that time we say a quick lay-it-all-out-right-out-loud prayer, and my girls are starting to pray the verses that we discuss each night.

 

How amazing is that????

 

If you¬†have a little one at home, and feel like you want to pull your hair out instead of pray with them some many?¬†days, I promise (promise) there’s a really fun light at the end of the tunnel.

 

I promise that those lessons you instill today will give you the most precious grace for tomorrow.

 

Even if you’re not the praying type, consider taking just a few minutes to wrap that little one up in your arms and let them know just how precious they are¬†before you tuck them in tonight. (Doing just that might just turn you into the praying type.) ūüėČ

 

Turn off your computer. Put away your cell phone. Don’t check those Facebook or Instagram notifications and instead spend a few minutes of face-to-face time with the ones closest to you.

 

I promise, wholeheartedly, that you’ll be plain old amazed at what kind of grace will cover you.

 

And just to be clear, my kids still fight with each other. They still tell me no when they don’t like what I’ve told them to do, still leave their shoes out all over the place, still talk back sometimes and drive me a wee bit crazy some (many?) days. I still holler at them sometimes too. We are oh-so-far from having it together, but if there’s grace for this mess of a momma, there’s grace for you too. ūüėČ

 

 

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How My Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective Changed

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Good.ness.

 

Can I just promise you what a blessing giving is?

 

Last Friday night, as I was packing for a trip, my seven-year-old snuck around our closet and came across some hidden treasures for our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox. (Remember when I found a bunch of clearance items at Target last month to give? Yup, she found it too.)

 

Her eyes lit up, and she was so excited because she just knew she’d hit the new-toy-jackpot. I explained to her though that the treats weren’t for us, but rather for us to share with kids who might not¬†have any Christmas without them.

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Oh my. That girl was mad.

 

She didn’t get it, and absolutely knew she was deserving of every trinket in the box. Honestly? She was a wee bit irate that none of it was for her. (And, honestly? I was a wee bit irate with her for not getting that she needed absolutely¬†none. of. it.)

 

I stopped my packing, pulled¬†her up in my arms, and tried to explain a little bit more about the program and who would be receiving those tiny gifts. (Even though we’ve filled Operation Christmas Child Boxes for years, she still needed the reminder.)

 

Then I grabbed my laptop, and we sat down in the middle of the floor of my closet and watched a few of the Operation Christmas Child videos.

 

My girl’s¬†heart changed. completely.

 

I encouraged her to separate the items into a few different boxes, and goodness, watching her expression soften and change to excitement for someone else’s gift melted this momma’s heart.

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“They’re gonna love our stuff,” she said.

 

“I’m glad that I’m helping this year,”¬†came next.

 

And finally “My heart just feels so happy right now momma.”¬†

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She then decided to spend a little of her own money to buy them a few extra¬†gifts this year. ūüėČ

 

Folks, I have no idea where your finances are at right now, but if you’re in a place where you do have some extra to give, I encourage you to find just the right place to share this year. Whether it be packing a box with your kids for Operation Christmas Child, donating to a local food pantry, or even just giving of your time to help someone in need,¬†you will be blessed more than the one you’re giving to will. Promise.

 

As a family we’ve struggled a bit recently with gratitude, and there’s nothing like giving to someone else in need to completely change our perspective. And, while I think traveling on mission trips to share the good news with others is¬†wonderful, I also believe there are seasons in our lives when there is simply so much good we can do right here at home.¬†With the power of the internet, our children can get a glimpse of ways to give abundantly to those¬†who live in a completely different world than our own.

 

Looking for more posts like this? Here you go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Discipline.

disciplineischoosingbetweenwhatyouwant

Came across this quote today and goodness, I needed the reminder. ūüėČ

 

What do you want most right now? Determine today to wait for the very best, and don’t sacrifice what you really want for what you want right now.

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PPP Five Year Blogiversary Giveaway Coming Tomorrow

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First giveaway is live – enter to win HERE!

Goodness gracious,¬†I can hardly believe this but I’ve been typing from this side of the screen and on over to you for exactly¬†five¬†years this month.¬† WOW!

 

What I completely started on a whim¬†turned into something I¬†never would have imagined, and I can hardly believe I’m still hanging out here with you each day.¬†In case you haven‚Äôt figured this out (~ahem~), I‚Äôm just a mom. I don‚Äôt have any degrees in marketing, advertising, or journalism . . . in fact, I‚Äôm in sheer amazement each day that so many folks take time to read what‚Äôs here on PPP. ¬†(It‚Äôs all I can do just to keep this technologically-challenged brain on top of things most days!)

 

Blogging has changed my life so much these last five years that I can hardly imagine life without¬†it. ¬†It’s given this kind-of-shy-goofy-not-very-confident mom a little presence on the internet, taught me so much¬†about what I’m really passionate about, instilled in me the importance of some serious¬†determination, and been just a wonderful gift (despite the ridiculous number of hours it’s taken to keep it together. Yikes!)

 

I looked back to my very first post back in October of 2009 on “publixpennypincher.blogspot.com” (when I made myself “pretend post” for a few weeks to see if I even enjoyed sharing deals at all.) Here’s what it looked like . . . ūüėČ

 

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(seriously folks, we’ve come a long way ~ it took me a whopping six months just to learn how to hyperlink!)

 

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this¬†virtual home here with you, and am simply¬†overwhelmed that you¬†take time to read what’s here each day.¬†I love how this¬†has completely changed our family’s ability to give as well as beefed up our children’s college funds, and having you all to chat with each day has helped me through some crazy difficult times.

 

(I know that sounds nuts, but you all are just the nicest cheering section!)

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To¬†top that all off, last week we reached ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND FACEBOOK FANS (WOW!)¬†So, of course we need a little giveaway to celebrate, don’t you think? ūüėČ

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Tomorrow, watch for some¬†seriously¬†fun giveaways (hint: think Kitchenaid & Amazon ~ both!) I’ll be starting out early in the day and can’t wait to share, so be watching.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this little spot with me each day – I’m so very thankful for you!

 

And on a very important side note, I do NOT do manage all¬†of this by myself most days. A big thanks to my friends Cheryl, Misty, Susan and Staci who help out with various tasks around here when I need them, and a HUGE thanks to Shannon (who y’all know is a rockstar.) ūüėČ

 

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The Smartest Financial Decision We {Accidentally} Made

Smartest Financial Decision

Goodness, I have been so hesitant to share this but feel like there might be someone out there who needs to read it. Please know that I grew up in¬†a single-parent home and I COMPLETELY know that for many of you this is not an option (I don’t know how you single mommas do it all!), but I felt like it was something worth sharing. And I know that we¬†ALL come from different financial places, but this is something that’s changed our finances and might help you out too!

 

My husband and I had a long drive back this weekend with three sleeping kiddos in the car after visiting Cedar Point for a conference, and started talking about our finances (and really, how we got from HERE to HERE.)

 

A long time ago (way back in 1996 to be exact), we decided as a young married couple that we wanted me¬†to be able to stay at home with our kids.¬†So, when we bought our very first little-fixer-upper house (even though I was working), we based every financial decision we made on my husband’s income alone. (I never made much more than minimum wage, so it wasn’t all that difficult a decision in some ways!)

 

In fact, when I sat down to interview for a better paying position in my first job, the interviewers asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

 

Naively stupidly¬†(at age twenty-one), I replied, “Um, I really just want to be a mom.” ūüėČ

 

Yup, moving up the ladder to success with that position clearly wasn’t going to happen.
That very clueless comment was the truth though, and shaped the way we looked at every financial decision we were faced with. It made us purchase homes that we could afford on just one income (even while we both worked outside the home), and forced us to stay frugal when our children were small as we were determined to stick it out.

 

That’s when we¬†learned to just¬†live a frugal life. And how to clip coupons. And how to watch our grocery prices. And it’s when we decided that we wouldn’t live in debt other than our home.

Fast forward 18 (really?) years.

 

All those things I learned in those early days apparently paid off, and I’m lucky enough to write about them for a few¬†several hundred thousand readers each month. (Can I just tell y’all that’s¬†crazy?????)¬†And while this blog does now earn¬†an income (learn more about how to make money blogging HERE,¬†HERE and HERE), we’ve¬†chosen not to spend any of the money we make from it.

 

(We have spent a little of the income on a few specific splurges, but the bulk of it goes towards saving for our kid’s college and for giving.)

 

I wish I could give you just a taste of what it feels like to have that financial freedom after years of working towards it. It’s still so weird to know that if something unexpected comes up our finances are in decent shape (which was an incredible blessing during our recent move!), and ¬†I wish I could just let you feel for a moment¬†the peace that comes with that.

 

Do you know what’s the coolest thing about our decision? That one choice has¬†given me so much freedom as a business owner. (I really don’t think of myself as a business owner, more a crazy-momma-who’s-too-excited-not-to-share-a-deal-with-you all day long?¬†Ahem.)¬†Our choices early on¬†gave me the opportunity to learn this crazy blogging thing; it gave me wisdom in an area that¬†some folks¬†don’t really understand; and it gave me the ability not to worry about making an income while I was learning the ropes of blogging and running a business.

 

We didn’t make the decision to live on one income purposefully because we wanted an extra savings account or extra cash flow or anything.¬†We simply decided that it’s what we wanted for our own family (and don’t feel like it’s bad at all for moms to work¬†– it was just what we hoped for when we looked at our future!) However, in a crazy turn of life, it’s turned out to be the best financial decision we could ever make.

 

I have no idea where your family’s finances are at. I do know that we are¬†incredibly blessed to be in this position after many years of hard work, and I know that it simply won’t work for¬†some folks.

 

But, maybe you’re a young couple just looking at your future and trying to determine where you¬†really¬†want to go. Maybe you’re a mom¬†thinking about re-entering the workforce now that your children are a wee bit older. Or maybe you’re a family that does have two incomes, and have never considered trying to live on one and allowing the second to go towards savings.

 

I encourage you to maybe consider what life would look like with just one income (if that’s even a possibility – I know it absolutely won’t work for everyone!) ¬†Even if you have two incomes (which is fantastic if both of you love your jobs – I’m not at all against mommas working here!), consider what would happen if you continued those jobs and chose to live on just one income to allow the excess to bulk up your savings account?

 

I firmly believe that the¬†only way we did it in those early lean years was by clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads. ¬†Even today our grocery budget rarely¬†exceeds $300 a month, and I talk to so ¬†many folks who are spending two to three times that on groceries alone (almost enough to be a second income alone!) ¬†Please understand that I know this won’t work for everyone, but as we’ve watched the peace that’s come from¬†years of penny pinching, I guess I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell you something that we (truly accidentally) learned along the way.

 

Your turn now?¬†I’ll be honest, I’ve been a little afraid to share this post as I hate the thought of offending anyone, but I’m so thankful (truly, overwhelmingly thankful) for the peace that we’re finally feeling after so many years of penny pinching. ¬†I just wanted to mention it as a possibility to consider, and would love to hear your thoughts too.

how I make afull time income

Curious about how blogging works? See how I make a full time income as a stay-at-home mom.

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Not Quite Perfect (But Still Really Good.)

(My littlest might just be the picture of not quite perfect but still really, really good!)

 

I absolutely love reading The Nester. ¬†In fact, her tagline (and now the title of her book) “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” rings over and over in my head oh-so-often when I’m fluffing up my home.

 

It reminds me while I’m adding a few knick knacks to my kids’ rooms that just fluffed a bit and not-even-close-to-perfect is okay.

 

It encourages me while hanging wallpaper (eek!) that if there’s a teeny-tiny flaw somewhere along the way, it’s really not the end of the world.

 

And it allows grace, knowing that even if my home doesn’t look like Martha Stewart just stopped by ¬†to decorate (or goodness gracious, the Nester herself . . .), the home that my family comes home to each day is really just fine.

 

And guess what else? It’s a reminder that our lives are exactly the same way.

 

Last night, after a long day of putting kids on buses, missing them (a tiny bit?), mourning a little over missing my traditional back-to-school breakfast with good friends (not quite worth a¬†drive to Alabama . . . ), hating that there was no one to knock on my door for a 5AM run, and just feeling a little more lost in this new home of ours, my running buddy texted to check in on the day.¬†I was whining (so much more than I deserve to!), when she sent this text (I hope it’s okay to share Carrie!)

 

 

WOW.

 

She hit the nail on the head, didn’t she?

 

My home doesn’t have to be perfect. But it’s¬†good.

 

My kids don’t have to be perfect. But they’re¬†good.

 

My situation for today is not just perfect. But it’s¬†good.

 

And really, my life won’t likely ever be perfect.

 

But it’s (really, really, really)¬†good.

 

 

I went to bed last night thinking about how God’s grace showers me so much more than this crazy-mess-of-a-momma every could have imagined. ¬†Right now things aren’t perfect, but my life is so much better than I ever deserved.

 

If you’re struggling along and feeling like nothing’s just quite right in your own life ~ know that nothing really ever is just quite right.

 

(Well, maybe it is . . . I just haven’t seen it yet?)¬†

 

Beyond the facades we see of cute folks on the outside, hide a bunch of other folks feeling not-so-perfect too. But that doesn’t mean that a single one of us ~ nor a single one of our lives ~ isn’t ¬†good.

 

Be encouraged that your not-quite-perfect home, not-quite-perfect kids, and maybe even that not-quite-perfect husband (ahem?), is probably pretty darn good. Cling tight to the good in your life right now today in the midst of where you’re at. ¬†I’m holding on to my not-quite-perfect too. ūüėČ

 



I’d love for you to¬†comment and share your thoughts too¬†~ I love hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ohio State Fair Fun

We had so much fun this week at the Ohio State Fair, and I thought you all might enjoy a peek!¬†We haven’t gone to a state fair since living in Kentucky almost ten years ago, so it was fun to check out the food, rides, and (my favorite!) the exhibits. (I’m telling you what, next year I’m coming up with a recipe to enter in the fair – my family’s already debating what they want me to bake so that at least once a month for the next year they get to test it!)


I will tell you that the fair is¬†far from penny pinched.¬†If you have little ones, try to steer far from the rides (which is tough to do!), because just the exhibits are neat to see and don’t cost anything more than the fair’s admission. (We found discounted tickets at our local Kroger store.) We ended up purchasing $45 in ride tickets which was more than enough for my kids (thankfully they’re not big riders), and I kind of wish we encouraged them to just pick a ride or two, because they really would have been content with that.

 

My husband and I have always loved visiting the fair for the people-watching, to see what kind of ridiculous food’s being concocted, and I love checking out the cake competitions and handwork items. It’s just fun to see what people can do! ¬†Okie dokie . . . here’s what we saw ~ on what had to be the prettiest night I’ve ever seen in July. ūüėČ

 

¬†Tried out Fried Buckeyes – they were so good! Fried Grilled Cheese . . . um, not so good ūüėČ

Noticed the Sloppy Donuts ~ ¬†yikes ūüėČ

My Reagan who’s always been fascinated by pigs (hence the pig overalls her Uncle Jack got for her) got to see her first piggies up close and personal.¬†

After petting this one, she said “They’re so sort ~ that makes me love piggies even more!”

 Then we saw this monster boar~ at 1440 pounds, it was not what we think of when Reagan says she loves piggies!

We also checked out a few pigs and bunnies (and made those goofy faces for some reason?)

Saw huge tractors . . .

and a few little ones too.

Checked out some fantastic train sets, 

milked Buckeye Bessie,

 and loved seeing the cookies, cakes and mode towns on display.

My son is convinced I’m making him that cake next year for his birthday (I promise to post pics when I do . . . ) ūüôā

 And I loved looking at the quilts and handiwork on display.

All in all it was a fun but-not-so-penny-pinched afternoon, and we loved seeing all Ohio has to offer! Hope you’ve been able to do something extra fun this week with your family too. ūüėČ

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Be Awesome.

Photo credit ~ you can get your own free printable HERE (love that!)

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Sam’s to treat my kids to a bargain lunch and pick up a few groceries.¬†(Did you see where the deals are at Sam’s?)

 

We made a beeline for our  pizza and hotdogs as soon as we walked in the door, and the guy who served us was fast.

 

And efficient.

And awesome.

 

Do you know how much this hungry momma with even hungrier kiddos appreciated that? I bet you do.

 

We finished up our shopping and tried out the self checkouts that were fairly empty.¬†There was a slightly disabled young man working there, and he hopped right¬†to it to help me out. He hurried to get my items checked off, made sure I didn’t lift a thing (which took some extra effort on his part), and I had the nicest checkout experience I think I’ve ever had at Sam’s.¬†Maybe anywhere.

 

He was awesome.

 

Sure enough, we handed an older gentleman our receipt to check off as we walked out the door, and he made a point to make small talk with my kids. He asked if they were ready for school to start, was genuinely kind to them, and just put smiles on the faces of my kids (who of course¬†aren’t ready for school to start!)

 

He was awesome.

 

We then raced to get everything in the car before heading home, and as I was emptying my cart another worker walked over and let me know he’d take care of my cart (even though he was already pushing a jillion others.) He made sure I didn’t do anything extra, and sure enough took care of my cart (which I normally return on my own – unless I’m shopping at Publix of course.) ūüėČ

 

Guess what? He was awesome.

 

It got me thinking – ever single one of these workers chose to wake up and be awesome at their jobs today. They weren’t getting paid huge wages, didn’t have any reason to work extra hard for me,¬†but they each did it anyways.

 

In the midst of our shopping I’d hurried to take my girls to the bathroom. (I have one who’s determined to visit every single toilet in every single spot all over every single town she’s in.¬†Ugh.)¬†While I waited for them, I looked in the mirror and was so disappointed. I just didn’t look like the fun cute moms that I keep noticing all around me. (Did I say ugh?¬†Thankfully, my family seems to like just the mom I am – I’ve got to get over that!)

 

While I was worried about the silly stuff ~ lines on my forehead and bags under my eyes ~ other folks were out there being awesome. I was worrying about stuff that just doesn’t matter, rather than letting my behavior do the work to show a little awesomeness.

 

How often do I worry about things that have no real value (and that I really can’t fix . . .), instead of choosing to be awesome? How often do I just muddle along, half-doing this job of mommy-ing, cleaning my home, and being a wife, while I could instead step up and share a little awesome?

 

What if I decided to be awesome while driving carpool?

 

And showed some awesome every time I cleaned the kitchen sink?

 

 

And even showed awesome each day while folding laundry? Or scrubbing the shower? Or  just cooking dinner? And (eek!) even while scrubbing the toilets?

 

What if my attitude even showed awesome to my husband when he walked in the door at night after having a the-kids-are-making-me-a-wee-bit-nuts-today-kind-of-day?

 

Today, I encourage you to work along with me and choose to be awesome too. No matter what God hands you – no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing, choose today to show a little awesome too.

 

(Wouldn’t it be fun if someone watched us as we worked at¬†whatever our job was, and at the end of the day said “Goodness, that girl was just was awesome today”?)

 

That’s the kind of girl I wanna be.¬†I’d love it if you’d join me too. ūüėČ

 

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Amazon Vs. Coupon Deals: Where Are The Best Prices?

Okie dokie folks, I received a great comment on this post yesterday, and wanted to address it both for Peggy and for you.¬†As you probably notice, I post alot of Amazon deals (which as I’ve shared do create a way to earn money for our family and others here on PPP.)¬†BUT,¬†I don’t post them only to earn income, and here’s why.

 

Believe it or not, there’s a little more thought that goes into posting here on PPP (and on most coupon blogs) than you can imagine.¬†I watch what you all click over to read, see what people are most interested in, and try to share deals that are most beneficial to the largest number of readers. ¬†What I’ve found in the last few years is that more and more often, readers are more likely to get excited about easy online deals than they are for coupon deals. There are literally times when Shannon and I spend huge amounts of time on large shopping scenarios to share, only to see that we get a few clicks on those compared to hundreds of clicks for online savings. We want to use our time wisely, so we focus mostly on what the majority of readers are interested in. (We want to be efficient in our time too!)

AND, I vet our deals constantly, working hard to post prices on online savings that are at the lowest or very close to the lowest prices they’ve ever been at.¬†¬†This weekend Shannon and I Skyped and were discussing the great deal on diapers at Target this week.¬†She’d done the math, and the best price ended up at $.12 per size one Pampers. That’s a¬†great¬†price, but there were quite a few hoops to jump through to get that deal!

Today, I happened to notice diapers were actually $.10 per diaper at Amazon (these were Luvs, so not high-end Pampers of course!), however ¬†Huggies ended up being just $.12 per diaper ¬†–¬†the same price as Target without coupons or gift card deals.¬†Now, I am¬†all about a great deal,¬†but my absolute number one favorite way to save is getting the very best price as easily as possible (especially for mommas who’ve got their hands full with busy babies!) So, to me this is a deal that I’m definitely going to post too, because I’m all about taking advantage of a deal and saving myself some time!

 

And like I shared in my comment with Peggy (you can read it HERE), there are only so many hours in my week to devote to PPP, so I’ve got to be smart in where I spend my time.¬†Especially this summer, with a big move and three busy kids at home, I don’t have as much time to head to the stores and hunt down deals as I do during the school year. (I hope you understand!) So, it’s just easier to research online deals from home. Hopefully we’ll be back full-swing in another 6 weeks (but in the meantime I’m enjoying more time off with my family!)

 

I hope that makes sense, and I appreciate your (kind!) comments and suggestions on things you would like to see here on PPP so much.¬†In all honesty, we just kind of live in survival mode here through the summer months (imagine hearing¬†“MOOOOMMMMMMM”¬†every time you type a sentence!), but all of that will settle down shortly. Hope you all understand, and I encourage you to¬†always do the math to make sure you’re consistently getting the best deals!

 

If there’s something you’re missing on PPP that you’d like us to share more often, please leave a comment to share. I really do love hearing from you!

whatshouldyoubuyonamazon

Love Amazon? Don’t miss¬†my list of¬†16 items you should be buying on Amazon.

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How To Make Life More Liveable

Time for a random rambling today ~ pull up a chair and pour a glass of sweet tea – this one just might take awhile. ūüôā

 

As I shared last week, this move has been not-so-easy on our family (or on me.)¬†Thankfully though, this last week things have eased up a bit, and I know with time we’ll find our place here too. ¬†In the midst of it though, there have been things that I’ve noticed have made life a little more liveable each day.¬†The reality is, we¬†all struggle through difficult things in life ~ whether it be a move, an illness, parenting struggles, or the death of someone we love dearly.¬†

 

Life (at times) is hard. There’s just no way around it. But, choosing to do a few certain things have helped ease a little stress here, and maybe they’ll be helpful for you too.

1. Get dressed, pray, exercise (even if only for a few minutes) and shine your sink, every single day. 

I don’t know where the magic is in these tricks, but they really do work ~ promise. ūüėČ

 

2. Skype, call, or text a friend.

I’ve so missed a few friends from home, but have checked in with them through Skype, by sending a quick text, or calling them while folding laundry. I can’t tell you how much fun I had skyping a friend video of our new home (she even gave me decorating tips while I walked through the house), and just a simple one-sentence text to another friend really brightened my day. It’s amazing what simply connecting with real people who care for you can do to lift your spirits!

 

3.  If you need to, do some tidying.

Y’all, last week when I just about lost it, my husband came home and saw me in one¬†mess of an office, and knew something had to be done.

 

I kept telling him that since we didn’t have anywhere for most of the items to go until we had bookshelves, there was no point in tidying so I just needed to live with it. (It may be months or longer before we get those bookshelves as I’m trying to come up with a perfect plan – clearly spending hours each day in an office which is a disaster is not a great plan!)

UPDATE Рour new office finally got finished ~ take a peek of the pretty amazing tramsformation over HERE

He enlisted the help of our kids, and in less than 30 minutes the entire room was cleared out to storage in the basement. I had no idea how much the clutter was bothering me, but goodness just having a tidy (albeit empty!) spot to work in has drastically reduced my stress level. ¬†If you’ve got some clutter in your life that’s making a difficult situation even more stressful, determine to take a few hours this weekend to just clean something out. (I promise, you’ll be so glad you did!)

 

4. Watch Facebook less if you need to.

Goodness, I love Facebook for keeping up with friends as much as anyone does, but last weekend I realized that watching what my friends were doing in Alabama that our family was missing out on was not helping. More importantly, I realized it was making a challenging situation even more difficult for my kids if they happened to scroll through and see what their friends were up to while we weren’t there.

 

Instead of living the life we’ve been given here in Ohio, Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter, or whatever it is for you), made us wish for something that couldn’t happen right now. If you’re going through something difficult (especially with a friend), limiting your time on social media and just really¬†living might just change your perspective.

My son took these pictures in our backyard the other night ~ amazing!

5. Find the beauty right where you are.

Never (ever) in a million years would we have snapped that picture in the backyard of our home in Alabama, and it truly¬†is beautiful here. We used to walk to Publix (which I miss ~ so much!), but now we can walk to the river. We used to have a back yard full of landscaping, now we have a yard abuzz with thousands of fireflies each night and watch deer from our kitchen window at just about every meal. I’m still¬†praying for grass one of these days (ugh!), but there’s beauty here already, if I just take a moment to open my eyes to see it.

 

If you’re going through something that just hurts so badly, try to find something oh-so-beautiful even in your situation. It might be a special snuggle with a child who’s struggling through a difficult season of their life, or maybe a walk outside to see some flowers in bloom. No matter what your situation, there is something beautiful to be found right where you’re at, so take a second to find it and just drink it in.

 

6. Realize you can’t do it all.

I’ve been attending a Bible Study at the church we’ve been visiting here, and the message from Priscilla Schirer last week was on prioritizing. (Yikes!)¬†She shared that a Godly friend encouraged her that she couldn’t do everything during the season of her life when her kids were young, so she needed to focus only on her top priorities.

 

This summer, the only things I can really tackle are making our move as painless for my family as possible, and keeping up (somewhat!) here on PPP. I’ve been convicted that I¬†so often put my business ahead of my family, and right now they need to be first. School will be here before you know it, and I’ll never get back today with my family. I hate that in many ways (because I really do enjoy what I do here so much!), but until at least mid-August, they need a wee bit more attention right now.

 

What that means also is that there are lots of things I’m saying no to. This isn’t a season when I’m going to run 20 miles every week, I’m not going to bake homemade bread for dinner all that often, most of my penny pinching will be done just by shopping Aldi, and my house isn’t going to be perfectly clean even once. If you’re in a stressful season, really consider what your big priorities are, and then give yourself grace for the stuff you just can’t manage.

From my old office ¬†~ we waited years for that room and I can’t wait to figure out what we’ll do here! (UPDATED – see what we did over HERE!)
 
7. Dream. Big. 

Taking the time to dream has undoubtedly been the thing that has helped me to just feel some peace this last week (and even a little excitement as we’re here.) ¬†We’ve always put some effort into dreaming big in our homes, and I think in the midst of the move I’d forgotten how precious it is just to imagine something new for our future, even if we can’t have it all today.

 

Last week my (wise) husband encouraged me to really start thinking about my new office specifically and in general about our home, and to start dreaming about what I really wanted it to be. I hemmed and hawed, and generally felt like I’d come up with the simplest way to tackle what we have, just settling for something that would work.

 

He encouraged me instead to really dream about how I could make this space absolutely perfect – no holding back. Now, we may never get that big ole’ dream I’ve started thinking up, but since my dreams are free, I might just as well imagine ~ and maybe one day those dreams will become a possibility. ¬†We’ve walked around our yard and started planning what we’d like to see in each spot one day. In our last home we did the same thing, even staking out trees that didn’t get planted for years, just to start dreaming. Eventually, much of what we dreamed really did happened, but we would never have gotten there if we didn’t dream big to start with!¬†

 

If you’re struggling through something that just feels overwhelming, try to look past the mountain in your life right now, and dream of where you may be in a year, two years, or even five years down the road. Dream of what you¬†really want, not just what you’ll settle for. Work towards your dream even in the midst of your struggles, and know that those dreams might just become real for you one day too.

There are seasons of life that just come with so many overwhelming things it’s hard to even see outside right where you are.¬†This week as I’ve struggled to find peace here it hasn’t all been easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t¬†good. (And it sure doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a plan right here!)¬†If you’re struggling too, be encouraged that¬†you are not alone, and that God has a perfect plan only for you.¬†

 

And on a very short side note, I cannot thank you all enough for your kind words, emails, and texts encouraging me through our move after last week’s post (or on this one.) I feel so very blessed to have such kind people cheering for me along the way, and am so very thankful for each of you! If you have any other tips on how to get through something difficult, I’d love for you to share those too. (I really do love hearing from you!)¬†

 

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When Life Just Isn’t Easy

Time for a (very!) random rambling – if you’re here just for the deals I COMPLETELY understand ~ scoot on to the next penny pinched post! ūüėȬ†

 

 

Have I mentioned lately (ahem ~ today?) that we recently moved? 

Yikes.

 

Ugh.

 

Grrrrr.

 

There’s really no way to sugar-coat it ~ this move has been¬†H.A.R.D.¬†on our family.

 

Truth be told?¬†It’s been hard on me.¬†

 

I’m not good at leaving behind wonderful friends. I miss my home. I miss my office. I miss my neighborhood. I miss my church.

 

I (really) miss my life.

 

Sniff.

 

Honestly? I didn’t expect this moving thing to be so hard on me.¬†I knew that logistically it would be tough ~ coordinating movers, packers, un-packers, enrolling kids in school, finding new places for the kids to do their extracurricular activities, setting up a new home ~ I pretty well guessed that all that would not be easy. What I didn’t expect though is that I’d come here and feel so . . . just . . .¬†lost.¬†And overwhelmed. And anxious. And ~¬†terrified?

 

My kids aren’t in school yet, so they haven’t figured out their place either. They don’t know yet where they¬†fit.¬†Or if they fit. Or if they ever will fit.

 

They don’t know where their place is, and I don’t know either. ¬†I don’t know what to tell them.

 

I’m still clinging tight to the hope that God has a great big ole’ plan here. And my husband’s job is¬†fantastic. (Seriously folks, how many people would give anything just for that, and really when we have so very much what business do I have complaining?)

 

Much (much) of the things that have been difficult in our move have been made worse by some quirky things. We had lots of furniture damaged in our move (meaning our home feels even less like a home), we have no grass or landscaping outside which has been really hard on my we’d-rather-play-outside kids (hopes are for landscaping at least this week ~ praying!), and in general moving to a brand new home has definitely come with a few glitches.

 

I’m trying to remind myself that sometimes things are just hard. Moves aren’t always easy, illnesses don’t always heal, and some days things just don’t easily work out the way that we think they should.

 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the hard things.¬†Whether you’re going through something physically, mentally, financially or any other way, remember the truth that you (and I) are learning something right here and right now that cannot be learned any other way.

 

I was reminded though yesterday that I am so ridiculously fortunate that I have absolutely no business whining (at all.)¬†Not too far from our home I saw a family who had nothing. Not too far from my circle of friends I know people who’s children are struggling with major illnesses. What business do I have complaining?

 

So, I’m praying peace today to you wherever you’re at, and for me right here.¬†And if you’ve moved recently (or just gone through something difficult), know that someone else has probably been there too. (I keep seeing people who seem to be moving so easily, and wondering what on earth is wrong with me ~ so this is my reminder to all of us that things aren’t always as easy as they look!) Hang in there, know that there’s a plan (really!), give yourself grace, and be blessed.

 

  


Note ~ I drafted this post earlier in the week, but already our days are feeling a little less painful ~ it’s amazing what a few days can do to just change your perspective! I decided to share it though because if you’re going through something difficult I really do want you to know others have been there too. ¬†Watch next week for a few things that we’ve done already to make life just a little more liveable. ūüėČ

 

Here are a few more posts you may want to check out if you just need some encouragement today:

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Help! What (Penny Pinched) Suggestions Do You Have For A Week In Orlando?

I received a question from a reader, but I’m not sure how to help her out so am hoping you’ll have some great ideas!¬†Here’s her question. . ¬†.
We’ve been offered the use of a friend’s timeshare in Orlando, and our lodging would be practically free for a week! However, we are on a VERY tight budget and can’t really afford park tickets. My boys aren’t really into Disney, but I wondered about Universal or other “NON” disney parks down and if you knew of any tips to get discounts?
Any suggestions?¬†Leave a comment to share . . . I can’t wait to hear what you all come up with!
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We Made It To Ohio!

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My kids handprints from our old driveway ūüėȬ†

Goodness gracious ~ it’s been a long week already, and it’s only Wednesday morning!¬†We arrived safely in Columbus after midnight last night, and (fingers crossed) close on our new home later today.

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It’s been a hard, sad, oh-so-blessed-that-it-just-hurts-to-go few days, as we said goodbye to so many wonderful friends Monday and Tuesday. ¬†When we finally got all tucked in last night my big-ole’ 14 year old just looked and me with tears in his eyes and asked “Is this really happening?” Bless him, it’s so stinkin’ difficult to just exist at all when you’re 14, so I absolutely hate that we’ve thrown this curve ball his way. ūüôĀ

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Here’s my make-shift desk in the closet of my husband’s apartment today (I didn’t want to wake anyone up with my typing!)¬†It’ll be awhile before I have a real office again, but surely I can find something a little more appropriate than the top of a Rubbermaid cooler (surely?)

 

 

I can’t even begin to thank you for all your kind words, thoughts and emails as you all have encouraged me while we get through this.¬†I never expected such an overflow of support, and have been thoroughly shocked at how many of you took time to email me, and even more surprised at how many Ohio readers there are here on PPP. (Really – so many folks have sent emails with so many tips on the area – I am so blessed!) ¬†My heart’s still a little (a lot) achy this morning, but I know things will look brighter in a few days as we settle in.

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Thank you so much for your continued prayers (especially for a cute 14 year old blonde boy who could really use it today) ¬†~ praying God’s grace on your day too!

 

If you missed this earlier, see more on our move over HERE.

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New To Couponing? Let’s Get Started.

 

My friend Shannon and I were so excited to meet with a few of you last night at our coupon class (we loved meeting you all!)  We may have overwhelmed you (we both talk way too fast . . . ) but here are a few links we promised to share that may help you out:

 

Also, there are certain times of the year when specific items are significantly cheaper to purchase. Here’s the cycle that my friend Shannon and I have figured out are the best times to grab certain items (please leave a comment if you think of other items that go on sale seasonally and I’ll add them!)

  • Baking Supplies, Cooking Soups, Spices, Seasonings ‚Äď November/December (Holidays)
  • Meat, Condiments ‚Äď Summertime (Grilling Season)
  • Produce ‚Äď Summertime (Stockpile things like green peppers and onions to freeze for winter casseroles, soups, etc.; freeze fruit for winter baking ‚Äď strawberries, blackberries, bananas, etc.)
  • Cream Cheese,¬†Velveeta, Canned Tomatoes, Dried & Canned Beans, Cheese¬†– January, February¬†(Super Bowl and March Madness)
  • Packaged Snacks,¬†School Supplies ‚Äď August (Back to School)

 

 

Don’t miss these free free printables that should help as pinch those pennies:

And if you’re trying to find a printer to inexpensively print coupons on, here are the two I recommend:

We’d love for you to also join¬†Passionate Penny Pincher on Facebook¬†to keep up with all the penny pinching deals as well – let us know if you have any questions!

 

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Packing Day

Today the movers have come to pack us for Ohio.¬†Ugh.¬†As you can imagine, this is a bittersweet time for our family as we’re excited about the plans ahead of us but oh-so-sad to leave a home here in Alabama that we’ve absolutely loved.

 

What I haven’t shared with you all yet (but you may have figured out?), is that my husband has been in Ohio since Thanksgiving working at his new job. Because I didn’t really want to share that I was here by myself with a bunch of (rowdy) kids ūüėČ I kept that part a secret. I’ve felt a little bit like a liar (story-teller? my kid’s “nicer” term for it . . .), as I’ve shared menu plans we haven’t eaten, and recipe tips when we’ve really had little more than cereal for dinner most nights. ¬†(I hope you understand?)

Last October, when I was driving home from our local apple orchard (I’d been checking to see how the apple prices compared to those at our local grocery store), I got a phone call from my husband which I was pretty unprepared for. His company decided to shut down their office in Alabama, and while they offered him a position in another location, there was nothing for him here.

 

We were devastated.  

 

We looked at our options. ¬†He considered moving to another city with the company, and was offered a few jobs here locally with other firms as well as a position in Columbus, Ohio. (Folks, I didn’t even know where Columbus, Ohio¬†was. Of course, when we moved to Alabama nine years ago I wasn’t quite sure where Alabama was either ~ clearly geography is not my strong suit!) ¬†After a lot of praying, he decided to take the position in Columbus, and left to start work there the weekend after Thanksgiving.

It’s been a long six months.

 

 

A funny thing happened though. That very same day¬†that I was at the apple orchard, I had a tiny unexpected boost to my traffic here on Passionate Penny Pincher. That unexpected boost grew a little, then a little more, and six months later I think I’d call it more than just a boost. (Translate: we went from 14,000 FB fans to over 108,000 FB fans in six months, and our traffic has more than quadrupled. ¬†At least for me, it’s been a bit of a big boost that I never expected!)

 

Y’all, I’ve been typing away on this computer for over four years hoping that my little blog might be a wee bit more worth my hours each day, but it ever so slowly grew until the exact day that I needed some extra peace. I can’t believe that was merely a coincidence, and am more thankful for it than I can express. I can’t tell you that blogging will ever make you rich (however it is way more work than I ever imagined), but it’s almost like God waited to let this prosper until the season when we needed extra peace financially the most. (If you’re curious how to start a blog, I’d encourage you to read this and this ~ I’ve learned everything I know from Google and those two resources!) ūüėČ

 

So in December my husband left for Ohio while I stayed here with three children, a home to sell, and a small business that decided just then to start growing.

Jump ahead six months. 

 

I’ve learned a¬†lot about myself. I’m a fantastic light-bulb-changer, terrible freak in the middle of the night when I hear a noise, and am capable of unhooking the kitchen sink all by myself. ¬†I can grease a garage door without any help (thanks to the help of my favorite cooking spray), figure out what’s wrong with a car and even talk somewhat sensibly to a mechanic, and I learned just yesterday how to navigate a lumberyard to replace a window on my to-do list.

 

I’ve learned that single-parenting is¬†hard (HARD),¬†Skype is awesome, and more than anything else there’s just nothing so precious as being truly valued by another human being.¬†¬†(I really don’t consider my husband and myself very sappy folks in the least, ¬†but goodness when he’s been home these last few months it’s been wonderful to just be cared for by someone!)

 

I’m tired. (Ummmm,¬†exhausted.) Today and tomorrow the movers are here packing, Monday they load the trucks, Tuesday we close on the house, attend a bunch of end-of-school-year parties, and then drive eight hours to Columbus. ¬†We’ll close up there on Wednesday, cross our fingers that our new home is ready for us, and hopefully all our stuff will join us near the end of next week.

 

Wow.

¬†To say I’m anxious about all of this is an understatement. I have no idea what the future holds, if anyone will like me or my kids in Ohio (isn’t it silly that I’m already worrying about that?), or if I’ll be able to survive the winter way up there. I don’t know where we’ll go to church, which store I’ll pick to use coupons at, ūüėČ or how my kids will ever forgive us as they’re pretty frustrated about the whole situation right now. (Goodness, that just hurts my heart the most!)

 

 I do know though that God has amazingly and consistently had His hand on our lives, and these last six months are just more crazy proof of that for me. (I kid you not folks, I completely felt God holding me so close this week when I needed Him most. Grace,  I tell you!)

(I sobbed as I took down this picture this morning that’s on our stairwell – my kids were just babies when it was taken!)

 

So, if things are slower here this next few weeks, know that my hope is to be right back at it once we’ve settled in. (Thanks to the help of Shannon and a few other friends hopefully things will move right along!) ¬†If you could say a prayer especially for my kids this next week I’d sure appreciate it (this is so hard on them!), and pray that we manage the next week or two safely too.

 

And if you’re in a spot where you feel as if you’re working at something that just isn’t turning out the way you’d hoped, remember that you really never know what might be right around the corner. ¬†Know that there’s a plan out there just for you, so just hang on and¬†be blessed.

 

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

UPDATED POSTS:

 

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Stamp Out Hunger Pantry Cleanout

Note from Laurie ~ I would love (love!) for you to join us this week and clean out your pantry for Stamp Out Hunger ~ such a great way to tidy up your pantry, and give at the same time! If you’d like to share your before and after pictures, send me an email at contact @ passionate penny pincher.com (leave out spaces) and I’ll find a time this week to share them.

 

Okie dokie guys . . . this is kinda embarrassing. ¬†When Laurie asked if I was going to clean out the pantry to donate items for¬†¬†Stamp Out Hunger¬†this coming Saturday, May 10th, I told her that would be fine. ¬†Then she asked if I could take pictures… EEK! ¬†I’ve been so far behind after two birthdays in April and Easter at my house that I haven’t cleaned out my pantry in 2 months! (YIKES!)¬†I tend to go through my overflow every month and just donate what we haven’t used, but it clearly was time to catch up.

Before  . . .

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After . . .

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Before . . .

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After . . . 

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Before . . . 

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After . . .

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And here’s what I’m donating . . .¬†

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Can you believe all that was in there? ūüėČ

Would you like to join us? (We’d sure love for you to!) Take a few minutes to clean out your pantry and start a donation bin to bless someone who’s struggling right now, and if you’d like to share your before and after pictures I’d be thrilled to show them off here too. To send in  your pictures just send them over to contact @passionate penny pincher.com ~ it’s so encouraging to see how we’re all able to give a little no matter where our budget is at! 

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What Happens When God Gives You A Unique Child (Or at least, unique to you….)

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone a little off track ¬†on a random rambling, but hopefully you’re up for it today. If not, scoot on past to the next penny-pinched post! ūüėȬ†And in case you’re wondering – those are my two of my three kiddos with their sweet cousins ~ aren’t they cute?

 

God gave me three very unique children.¬†For the sake of their anonymity, I won’t share too many specifics, but I will tell you that they are all¬†different.

 

And not a single one of them has fallen into the mold I expected when becoming a mom.

 

{I thought it would be easy?}

 

But I’ve seen something so interesting as we’re raising these kids.¬†The one that I thought would navigate life so easily struggles with things that seem so insignificant at times.

 

The one that I thought might never conquer a spelling test somehow has learned to manage my entire home. (Seriously guys, it’s crazy what that kid¬†can do.)

 

And the one who picked up the stack of “easy cards” at birth (it’s¬†all¬†easy for this one – kind of annoying to watch them really), is undoubtedly the one I have to parent the most heavily every day. (Wasn’t God supposed to give me an easy one?)

 

 

So why (on earth), am I sharing these really random ramblings with you? I was there too.

 

I was at that point where I didn’t know how on earth to parent a child who was so very different from me. I prayed endless nights hoping to somehow do something right ~ that constant discipline, never-ending practice on the hard things, and encouragement in the right direction might change something. And somewhere along the way things clicked along and we ended up here.¬†In this place where parenting isn’t really easier, but I’ve realized they’re going to be fine ~ and I so wished another mom had told me that those crazy quirks my children had when they were younger really would change as they grow.

 

All¬†of our children are unique. You may hear a friend (repeatedly) brag that their child is a rockstar . . . brilliant, beautiful, and really just perfect (and I’m betting that kid may even look like from the outside too.) But you know what? That child has something they struggle along with just like your child does, and no matter what the parent may say with their words, they’ve seen some struggles too.

 

So instead of worrying . . . 

Celebrate your child’s uniqueness.¬†Love them extra today ~ just the way they are.¬†Praise what they’re fantastic at ~ try praying with them and over them in their struggles (and your own struggles too.)

 

If they can’t spell ~ one day they’ll learn to type and spell check really will help.

 

If they can’t tie their shoes ~ introduce them to velcro. (I promise, they all learn to tie their shoes. Really.)

 

And goodness gracious ~ if they’ve managed to miss the mark on the toilet for the nine thousandth time, show them where the Lysol Wipes are, and just let it go. (Their wife will thank you one day!) ūüėČ

 

Okay? 

 

Your child ~ whether absolutely perfect or a tiny bit flawed like mine ~ is¬†perfect.¬†He or she has the most amazing God-given talents that you can’t even see yet. And if you’re a parent, you and I are tasked with the coolest gift of raising them each day.

 

 

Be encouraged that no matter where you are in your parenting, you have a precious gift that really is going to be all right.¬†(This is coming from a momma who hauled one child out of Zaxby’s kicking and screaming because they didn’t get to pick their meal just this weekend ~ y’all, I have seen¬†some tantrums¬†around here, and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy.) But, you will get through this, and so will your child. ¬†Love on them all you can, pray without ceasing, and know that He’s got an awesome plan in store for them. Just wait and see. ūüėČ

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to hard you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

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Health Kits Needed For Those Impacted By Tornadoes In Southeast

If you’re a local reader (or live in any of the Southeast that was hit by tornadoes these last few days), you know that many people were hit by this week’s storms. ¬†The UMCOR here locally is completely out of Health Kits, and could use your help!

 

If you’re like me you probably stockpile many of these items, so this is a great time to check out your stockpile and see what you can give. You can also donate $12 directly to help those in need if you’re not near a UMCOR location – learn more¬†HERE¬†. (And don’t forget your local Dollar Tree probably carries many of the items!) ¬†Here are the items needed for each kit:

 

Health Kit Materials

  • 1 hand towel
    • 15″ x 25″ to 17″x 27″;
    • Kitchen, cleaning, and microfiber towels not acceptable.
  • 1 washcloth
  • 1 comb
    • Comb needs to be sturdy and at least 8″ long;
    • No pocket combs or picks please;
    • Rattail combs and combs without handles are acceptable.
  • 1 metal nail file or nail clippers
    • No emery boards or toenail clippers please.
  • 1 bath-size soap
    • 3 oz. and larger sizes only;
    • No Ivory soap due to moisture content;
    • Do not remove from original packaging.
  • 1 toothbrush
    • Adult size only;
    • Do not remove from original packaging.
  • 6 adhesive bandages
    • ¬ĺ” to 1″-size;
    • Common household Band-Aids.
  • 1 plastic bag
    • One-gallon size sealable bag only.
  • $1.00 to purchase toothpaste

‚ÄúAnd whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.‚ÄĚ ¬†Matthew 10:42
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Big Spring Cleanout Update #2: The Playroom (And Do You Keep Old CDs?)

 

I’ve marked a few rooms off my list now – whew!¬†Here’s where we’re at:

  1. Attic storage space
  2. Playroom
  3. Reagan’s bedroom and closet
  4. Laundry room
  5. Linen closet
  6. Caroline’s bedroom, closet and small attic storage area
  7. Kid’s bathroom
  8. Jackson’s bedroom and closet
  9. Our bedroom
  10. Our closet
  11. Our bathroom
  12. Office
  13. Dining Room
  14. Family Room
  15. Kitchen
  16. Guest bedroom & closet
  17. Garage (most likely my husband will take care of this, but I’m including it here because it definitely needs to be done too.)

 

What I’m most excited about is that as I’m going I’m placing things we are keeping in the right room, so that when we’re all moved in things will end up where they actually belong.¬†It’s taking a little more time to get it done, but I think I’l be so glad that everything is in it’s home once we get there!

 

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While I cleaned out the cabinets in the playroom I found a ton of old sheet music (I’ve played the violin since I was eight, but hardly ever have time to pull it out these days!) I saved my favorites, and got rid of things that I’ve had since middle school. ūüėČ

We’ve had this old odd box of my husband’s for ages (it’s kind of a fancy box, so I always thought it was something important?) I opened it up today and above was what I found (really, a popsicle stick, his high school class ring and the tiniest tube of Crest I’ve ever seen.) Most of it went, but I did hang onto the ring and that Crest (surely that will be important one day!)

 

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I did one last clean out of the toy tubs (and was so glad that I’d tackled those after Christmas)

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Pared our CDs down to just one basket

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Donated several CDs we no longer listen to . . .

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And cleaned out another set of cabinets.

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Here’s what came out of the room when I was done . . .

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And here’s a peek at how much stuff we’re already getting rid of! (It’s trash day at our house, so I wanted to get everything to the curb – I hate that I won’t have one big picture for the end of the day but it feels so good to have it gone!)

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The biggest thing I’m struggling with is what to do with all those old CDs as well as cassette tapes my husband has hung onto since high school.¬†I don’t think we’ve played a single one of them in the 8 years we’ve been here, but I feel bad just letting them go? Would love your suggestions . . . now that there’s so much access to music on our phones or the internet, it’s hard to feel like I need to keep them!¬†¬†
See more about today’s Big Spring Cleanout¬†HERE.¬†

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The Big Spring Cleanout

 

Okie dokie folks . . . today’s the day! ¬†I’m hanging out today¬†all¬†day at home doing a big Spring cleanout, and am hoping it’ll motivate you to join in too. ¬†Because our move is right around the corner (the movers will be here three weeks from today – eek!), I wanted to do one last¬†really thorough cleanout of every nook and cranny in our home. When we’ve moved before I’ve always managed to bring along thing we just don’t need, so I’m determined to do my very best to prevent that this time!

 

While most of you probably aren’t moving like me, I’m betting it’s time to swap your clothing over to the Spring season, and almost everyone usually has at least a little de-cluttering to do (right?) ¬†So, if you have an hour or two today (or can set aside a few hours this weekend), I’m hoping you’ll get excited about doing some serious Spring cleaning out too!

 

Here are the rooms that are on my list (starting from the top of our house and moving all the way through it):

  1. Attic storage space
  2. Playroom
  3. Reagan’s bedroom and closet
  4. Laundry room
  5. Linen closet
  6. Caroline’s bedroom, closet and small attic storage area
  7. Kid’s bathroom
  8. Jackson’s bedroom and closet
  9. Our bedroom
  10. Our closet
  11. Our bathroom
  12. Office
  13. Dining Room
  14. Family Room
  15. Kitchen
  16. Guest bedroom & closet
  17. Garage (most likely my husband will take care of this, but I’m including it here because it definitely needs to be done too.)

 

Whew! (I think I’m tired just thinking about it all . . .)¬† Okay, here’s how it’s going to look today:

 

  • Every two hours (first update at 8AM), I’ll update pictures of what I’ve accomplished
  • My goal is to keep at it until 8 PM tonight except for my afternoon carpool (I’ve already prepared my kids – we’ll see how it goes . . .)
  • The pictures and updates will not be fancy – just a quick update from my phone sharing how things are moving along
  • I would love (love!) for you to join me as we go (misery loves company, you know)
  • There are a few favorite deal posts already scheduled for the day, but the savings will definitely be pretty spaced out (thanks so much for understanding!) ūüėČ
  • I’m not expecting to get all of the rooms done on the list, just a good start. We may do it again next week (or even tomorrow?), depending on how things go!
 
And here’s what I’ve got with me as I start:
  • My phone loaded with my favorite Pandora and I Heart Radio channels (I love the Amy Grant¬†and Dave Ramsey channels . . .) ūüėČ
  • Boxes and packing tape for any items to be packed up
  • A sharpie marker for labeling
  • Several large trash bags – for items to donate and things to head to the trash
  • A diet coke ūüėČ
  • Scissors (it seems like I always need them)
  • Chocolate (remember those Cadbury eggs? Yup, I’m thinking they’ll come in handy today)

 

 

Here I go!!!¬†Please let me know if you’re joining in today too or if you’re going to work on it this weekend, and if you find any deals that are just too good to miss feel free to leave the information in the comments so that folks can get a deal! Thanks for your patience with me as I tackle this (huge!) job . . . y’all make my job so much fun to do each day. ūüėČ

 

 

If you’re a blogger and would like to join in, leave a comment with a link to your post and I’ll be happy to share! You can also email me your pictures if you do some serious cleaning up and I’ll share those too over the weekend. (Send them to contact@ passionatepenny pincher.com – leave out spaces.)

 

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Sales Vs. Sales With Coupons: Is It Always Worth Using Coupons?

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Do you use coupons every time you shop?¬†Do you sometimes feel incredibly overwhelmed at times with all that goes into saving with coupons? If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m all about giving yourself some grace even when couponing, and have had to be content with saving as much as I can (easily) during an incredibly busy-stressful-I-don’t-know-how-to-keep-up-every-day season in my life. (I’ll explain lots more once our move is finally all done, but just know it’s been a bigger adjustment than I anticipated!)

 

Because I normally do use quite a few coupons, it’s rare for me to shop without any extra savings. This week though I made my normal Publix trip and didn’t have most of the coupons that I needed, so to make life easier I decided only to use my $5/$50 Star Market coupon (a local competitor here in North Alabama.)¬†I¬†really¬†(really!) don’t enjoy shopping without coupons, but there was just no way to get the coupons I needed, so I decided to shop anyway. There were a few good sales on items we needed, so I still wanted to stock up!

 

Just for fun, I thought I’d compare what my cost would have been using only sales vs. using sales AND coupons. Here’s a breakdown:

Don’t judge my Cadbury Egg purchases. They only come out once a year. I have to stockpile. ūüėČ

  • Bought 1 SuperPretzel BOGO $3.19
  • Bought 1 Aunt Jemima Waffles BOGO $2.25
  • Bought 1 Spring Mix Salad Blend $4.99 (I bought this brand last week and¬†loved¬†it for salads – since I eat them most days for lunch it’s worth $5 to me!)
  • Bought 4 packages of Cadbury Cream Eggs 50% off $1.65 each
  • Bought 3 Peter Pan Peanut Butter BOGO $3.09
  • Bought 1 Mueller Pasta BOGO $1.69
  • Bought 4 pounds Royal Gala Apples $1.49/lb. $5.27 total
  • Bought 2 Del ¬†Monte Fruit $2
  • Bought 1 Oscar Mayer Turkey BOGO $5.29
  • Bought 2 Sunshine Cheezits BOGO $3.39
  • Bought 6 Quaker Dips¬†BOGO $2.34
  • Bought Large Fruit Salad BOGO $10.57 (my kids were so excited – they love that stuff!)
  • Bought 3 Musselmann Apple Sauce¬†BOGO $2.29
  • Bought 2 Nabisco Snack Packs¬†BOGO $6.49¬†
  • Used $5/$50 coupon
  • Paid $52.33 out of pocket, saved $44.91

 

If I’d used coupons, here are the additional savings I would have had:

 

My additional savings would have totaled $9.25, and for me (at least during this season of my life!), I didn’t have time to hunt those extra coupons down.¬†¬†While I¬†love getting a deal, I know that there are just limits on how much time I have to manage everything, and for me, I was content to get the really good deals this week without worrying over coupons. There are definitely times in our lives when due to our finances we need to work diligently to get all the savings we can, but there are times when we also need to be realistic with just how much effort we can put into saving.

 

And really, saving 47% for absolutely no energy ahead of time is not too bad, right? ūüėȬ†If you’re at a place in your life where realistically you can’t always extreme coupon, I encourage you to really¬†(really!) shop the sales ad, use all the printable coupons you can, and then,¬†Let. It. Go.¬†

 

Got it? ¬†There you go, that’s your grace for the day. ;)
Okay, so what do you think? Is it worth shopping only with a jillion coupons, or have you found ways to save just by shopping the sale ad?¬†I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment to chime in!

 

Please know:¬†if you NEED¬†to use coupons to stretch your family‚Äôs budget and more easily make ends meet, then I encourage you to¬†suck it up¬†get over it¬†and start clipping.¬†(Eek!) We’ve ALL been there in some way at one point or another. (Promise.)

 

If you’ve been in a rut, and just don’t want to do it any longer (but need to use coupons for your family. . . ) there’s no way to make it work except to jump in and do it.  If you’re discouraged by the lack of rock bottom prices due to increased coupon usage, remember that while your savings may not be what they once were, there are still some pretty amazing deals to be had . . . so keep it up and I promise, you really can save big!
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The Greatest Coupon

This is a guest post from a friend of mine (who knows the value of a coupon!) ¬†May you know the love and peace of Our Manufacturer all year long.¬†ūüôā

 

No deal is perfect. Everything has a cost. Many things come at a high price, yet thankfully most can be discounted. Some things can even be free with a great coupon!

 

The greatest coupons still have problems.¬†Most will eventually expire. They are ‚Äúvoid where prohibited.‚ÄĚ There is a limit on how many people can use.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of great coupons though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about them. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use them. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything. But every coupon has worth in our eyes, right? Maybe non-couponers would cash in on the offers if they were just taught how. We couponers should share the good news!

 

So here’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) Seek out something you love. 2) Find a coupon, maybe from the manufacturer. 3) Pay the price for the item. 4) Once the coupon has been redeemed, celebrate how much you saved! 5) Tell everyone you know about your great deal. Happy shopping!

 

 

 

No one is perfect.¬†Our sins have a cost. Many sins come at a high price, yet thankfully they can be discounted. We can even be free with the ‚ÄúGreatest Coupon.”

 

The Greatest Coupon has no problems. It will never expire. It is never void or prohibited. There is no limit on how many people can use it.

 

Some people don’t take advantage of the Greatest Coupon though. Why? Maybe some don’t even know about it. Even if they do, they might defiantly refuse to use it. Some people don’t believe they are really worth anything, but every person has worth in God’s eyes. Maybe non-Christians would cash in on the offer if they were just taught how. We have the opportunity to share the Good News!

 

So here‚Äôs the gist of how to reap the benefits:¬†1) God sought out someone he loves‚ÄĒyou. 2) We have a coupon from our Manufacturer. 3) Jesus paid the price for our sins. 4) Since our sins have been redeemed, we can celebrate as we have new life. 5) Tell everyone you know about the Greatest Coupon. Happy Easter!

 

 

My prayer for you this Easter is that you mayt know salvation from the One who values you so greatly that He willingly gave His life for you. It truly is the greatest gift we’ll each receive, and allows us freedom that comes only from Him. As my son reminds me each Easter morning, “Christ is risen!”¬†He is risen indeed.

 

Photo courtesy of billaday on Flickr.

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Tax Day Fun

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Did you get any tax day deals today? My buddy Shannon sent me the picture of her car full at Sonic, and when my afternoon carpool saw it they had to get in on the fun too. ūüôā

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It’s not too late to get some of the deals, so be sure to check the out over HERE before they end tonight!

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Coupons = Cash

Pretty regularly, a friend or acquaintance teases me for my penny pinching (I’m betting you’ve been there too.) And, more often than you’d imagine, I have someone ask if they can just pay me to “coupon” for them. (Kinda’ defeats the purpose, huh? And I’m thinkin’ they couldn’t afford me!) ūüėČ ¬†A few days ago after printing a slew of new coupons that had just came out (you can print them here too), I decided to count up just how much *money* I had.

 

Sure enough, it was over $100.

 

I think people tend to forget that in many ways, coupons really are¬†cash.¬†Yes, they’re just little slips of paper, but they’re an awesome way to “barter” with your grocery store to always get the lowest price available. ¬†So, instead of thinking of those coupons as little annoyances that tend to overwhelm you (don’t worry, they overwhelm me too!), try to think of them as cold hard cash that your grocery store is sweet enough to let you use.

Got it?

No excuses.

Clip those coupons.

Pinch those pennies.

And determine to find financial freedom in your future.

 

I promise . . . you can do this!!!

 

 

 

Yes, this¬†is¬†my affiliate links to use if you’d like, which is how PPP continues to run each day. Thank you so much for your support, and print more FREE high value coupons right from your home when you goHERE,¬†HERE¬†and¬†HERE.¬†

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How Do You Manage Chores For Your Child?

This morning I walked in the door from my morning jog at exactly 6:03 am, and found my two daughters dressed (one even showered?), and both girls’ beds all made up.¬†Then my 11-year-old looked at her sister and said “next we need to do the trash.”

 

Wow.

 

I wasn’t quite sure what had spurred such early morning enthusiasm until I saw Caroline with her cute list (above) and a pen.¬†She found the list online yesterday and created the chore chart for she and her sister (she was smart enough not to make one for her big brother – I’m pretty sure he would have thrown her list out the window . . . quite possibly along with her.) ūüėČ Apparently today she was ready to get started.

Yup, I’m patting myself on the back because somewhere along the way I must have done something right as a momma to inspire such awesomeness, right? ūüėČ

 

The truth is though, I’m¬†horrible¬†about keeping up a list of chores for my kids.¬†I do expect them to unload the dishes (Jackson unloads the top drawer, Caroline unloads the bottom drawer, and Reagan does the silverware), and while I would love to say they make their beds daily, most days it just doesn’t happen. They do help with putting away laundry (some), setting and clearing dishes from the tables, and any other extra jobs that I ask them to do, but we really don’t have a fantastic chore routine set in place.

 

So, I’m curious – do you have a great routine that works for your family?¬†I’m hoping Caroline will continue as drill sergeant for a few more days at our house, but know in all reality that might not happen. With summer coming, I’d like to have at least a small schedule in place, so I’d love to hear any tips on this one!

 

And, I would¬†love to know if you pay your children an allowance as well.¬†We do (kind of) still do a “quarter jar allowance” for our kids, but I’ve even gotten bad about that. Please help me out on this one by sharing your tips with me!

 

And just in case Caroline’s organization inspired you too, here are a few free printable chore charts that may help you out:¬†

 

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Why Coupons Work (& What Products Do You Just Love?)

I posted this a few years ago (yup, with a selfie of me using my very first Swiffer Duster), but it’s such a good reminder of why coupons work not only for us but also for companies! This morning I used some of the Tide Oxi Clean I’d gotten last week at Target and it worked¬†so well on¬†a comforter that needed a little TLC – that coupon deal got me hooked. ūüėČ I’d love to hear what you think!

 

Every once in a while, a well-meaning friend or cashier questions my ethics when I get an item for free using coupons. While I completely understand what they’re asking, I also think they may misunderstand exactly why manufacturers put those coupons & freebies out there.

 

You see, companies like Colgate, Proctor & Gamble, and General Mills are nice, but they don‚Äôt just want to give away their products for free (and my guess is they know exactly how many ‚Äúfree‚ÄĚ things they‚Äôre giving away with those coupons!) Instead, they‚Äôre using a brilliant marketing scheme that works pretty effectively. They‚Äôre trusting that if they create a fantastic product, market it to us *penny-pinched* mommas, and we love it, we might actually come back for more.

 

Guess what? It works! A few weeks ago I received a free sample of Swiffer Dusters that I requested during one of their Facebook giveaways. My four-year-old was so excited when she saw the box in the mail that she opened it within three minutes of the  freebie making it through the door, and of course we (immediately!) had to try it out. Do you know what? That product is amazing! I love it!!! In fact, the very next week I went out and bought replacement Swiffer Dusters without a coupon (I accidentally left it the coupon in the car and it was raining outside. . . ), and I will probably use Swiffer dusters in my home forever. So, that little Facebook freebie made a believer out of me.

 

Now, my goal obviously is to buy those items in the future when they‚Äôre on sale and I also have a coupon. But, if they hadn‚Äôt sent me that freebie, there‚Äôs absolutely no way in the world that I would have tried¬†them out. (Trust me, I‚Äôve been a fan of my free rags for years.) However, since Proctor & Gamble was willing to let me try them out for free,¬†they‚Äôve pretty much¬†guaranteed that I will always purchase them.¬† They created a fantastic product, marketed it to a mom who daily fights dust bunnies, and sure enough,. . .¬†I’ll be going back for more.

Seriously ‚Äď you should try them when dusting your window blinds . . . simply amazing!

Here are a few other items that I really would rather not live without after trying them out for free (or at least really inexpensively . . .)

  • Theraflu Daytime or Multi-Symptom (These were free at CVS on Black Friday – my husband will never go without this stuff again because it’s been a miracle drug when he’s had a cold!)
  • Kraft Homestyle Mac & Cheese (I have a crazy-fast-growing-11-year-old boy.¬† Enough said.)
  • Clorox Cleaning Wipes (They make my Motivated Moms bathroom & kitchen sink cleaning a breeze each morning!)
  • Schick Intuition Razors (I shared this summer what happened when I purchased cheap razors at Wal-mart after getting used to the good stuff . . . goodness I love nice razors these days!)
  • and, of course . .¬† . any Swiffer products!

Are there any items that you’ve tried out using coupons that you probably wouldn’t have tried had you not gotten a deal on them?¬† Please leave a comment to share . . . because I’d love to try them out too! ūüôā

 

And by the way, I caught my hubby cleaning the ceiling molding in our kitchen with that Swiffer duster the other day after watching me show him how well they work.  Any product that gets him up & cleaning is my kind of product!

 

 

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How Much Do You Pay For A Gallon of Milk?

I made a quick run into Walmart this morning to grab a few gallons of milk (because usually our Publix price is as much as $.50 more expensive per gallon), and was shocked when I saw the price had gone up to $3.98. Really?

 

We were out of town last week, but I priced it at Sam’s and Aldi two weeks ago and it was just $2.29¬†per gallon.¬†Just curious if there was some crazy milk price hike that I missed, or if you all have noticed skyrocketing prices as well in the last week? Would love to hear your thoughts, and leave a comment to share what you’re paying for milk in your hometown too!

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“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting . . .”


Ready for a break from some penny pinching? Here’s one more way too random rambling . . . it’s been that kind of a week in our home.¬†

 

Almost fourteen years ago, my friend Nancy and I chatted on the phone one day about our sweet babies. ¬† I remember her saying “Do you think they look at us and think we’re just the most beautiful thing in the whole world?”¬†As we held those tiny infants, we were the ones who supplied all their needs. We fed them, changed them, cleaned them, rocked them ¬†. . . we were their everything. ¬†And maybe, just maybe, when those tiny infants gazed as us they thought we were completely perfect.

 

Fast forward fourteen years (yikes!) 14 years of wrinkles, 168 months of grey (platinum?) hair sneaking in, and exactly 5,110 days of fat cells increasing entirely too quickly around these hips of mine. (Did I say yikes already?) Fourteen years where I’ve noticed my laugh lines creasing more daily, my temper flaring a little more readily all too often, and my mama bear instinct so close to the surface some days that I have to beat her down with a stick.

 

Yup, that’s what this crazy mom thing does to us, doesn’t it?

 

For whatever reason, yesterday I worried entirely too long about these well-earned laugh lines, was frustrated by my ~ ahem, platinum ~¬†highlights, and downright angry at these fat cells that have attached themselves firmly to these hips. (Seriously, wasn’t there some better way that God could have chosen to make us all look different?) ūüėČ

 

I was feeling unattractive,¬†old, pudgy, and more than anything, t.i.r.e.d. ¬†That’s when my eleven ¬†year old begged me to tuck her into bed.

 

She said she just needed me. Just as I was. Slightly wrinkly, nowhere-near-perfect, and squishy as I am, she wanted this-me-who-I-am-just-like-I-am-right-now. She doesn’t care that I don’t look like this (goodness, can those Oscar women just put on a pound or two to make the rest of us normal???) It didn’t matter to her that I don’t craft craziness like this, dress like this, or cook like this. She just wanted me ~ this mess of a momma¬†~¬†to crawl up into bed and snuggle up with her.

 

So of course, I did. 

 

Five minutes later it was my next child’s turn. My sweet six year old pulled me under the covers alongside her for her prayers, held me as close as she possibly could, and said (as she so often still does these days), “I just love you momma.”¬†

 

Sigh.

 

Thirty minutes later (yup, you can bet I fell asleep with that girl in my arms), I came downstairs to that big-ole’-almost-fourteen-year old boy. He hung out with me on the couch for awhile, then headed off to bed and muttered quietly on his way up the steps “Good night, mom ~ love you.”

 

The way I look to the world is going to change so much over the next (I’m hoping sixty? at least?) years, but to be cherished no matter what my outward self looks like is just the nicest gift. Even when the outward part of us isn’t quite what we may want it to be, the fact that our children still sometimes see us as oh-so-valuable is just ~ well, that’s just the best. ¬†(I know, I know, my kids are getting older so them thinking I’m awesome occasionally is probably about to fly out the window.)

 

Guess what ladies? (I’m pretty sure any men hopped off about four paragraphs ago.) ūüėČ It doesn’t matter what we appear to look like on the outside, rather the heart that only our little nest really sees that holds the most value. While you see me here online and I may look okay every once in awhile, my family know the real me. They see this mom who’s kind of a nerd, always anxious, sometimes way too excitable, and well, really, just a mess.¬†And the fact that they choose to love on¬†that me, the one that I hide from way too often, is nothing beyond amazing to me.

 

Be encouraged that we¬†all see shortcomings in ourselves every day, but we are so blessed when those who know us best value us just the way we are.¬†And if you’re like me, and occasionally feel like a Gumby doll being pulled in 8,000 directions by your children and your spouse, be encouraged that one day they might not be pulling so tightly, so we might just as well enjoy the ride.

 

 

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30¬†

 

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