Packing Day

Today the movers have come to pack us for Ohio. UghAs 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 ;) 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!) ;)

 

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, ;) 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

 

 

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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? ;)

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! ;) 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!) ;)

 

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. ;)

 

“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
    • ¾” to 1″-size;
    • Common household Band-Aids.
  • 1 plastic bag
    • One-gallon size sealable bag only.
  • $1.00 to purchase toothpaste

“And 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.”  Matthew 10:42
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Clever Idea For Saving On Hanging Baskets

 

I’m so excited about this smart idea to share with you! A PPP reader shared that they had read you could use burlap to replace coconut liners in which seems to me like it would totally work. If you’ve tried it, let me know, and check out this post to see what it looks likeLove it!

Amazon actually carries Gardener Natural Burlap that might be worth checking out.  You can also see how we created beautiful hanging baskets for a fraction of their regular cost last Spring by creating them ourselves. Happy Planting!

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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. ;)

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!) ;)
  • 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 . . .) ;)
  • 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 ;)
  • 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. ;)

 

 

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?

 

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.) 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. ;)

  • 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? ;) 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 knowif you NEED to use coupons to stretch your family’s 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. :)

 

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 “void where prohibited.” 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 “Greatest 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’s the gist of how to reap the benefits: 1) God sought out someone he loves—you. 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. :)

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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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