How Giving Can Inspire You

 

How Giving Can Inspire You

How Giving Can Inspire You

I have felt for a long time now that tithing is an essential part of my spiritual walk and my growth as a Christian.  The importance of giving back to God was impressed upon me from an early age; not that He needs the money Himself, but that we need to be giving a portion “back to God” to be used to help others.  It’s the sign of a grateful spirit, which acknowledges that we are blessed by God and we ought not be selfish with what we have been given.  It’s also a mark of obedience to God, that we trust His Word and follow what it tells us.

So I have been faithfully tithing/giving for many years now.  And I have dutifully put in my 10% each month, and more when I can afford it.  Even through these past 4 months, when I have been unemployed and money is tight, I have continued to give my (somewhat adjusted now) 10%.  And God had faithfully honored that, and made sure that we had enough to pay our bills and keep food in the house.  God is creative, so there have been several ways this was accomplished for us – but always, our needs have been met.

Recently I was challenged to step further out in faith when I read a book by Francis Chan, called “Crazy Love.”  In the book, Chan challenges us to take to heart the words of Malachi 3:10 –

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

And not to merely give what is “convenient” – but to give until it’s sacrificial, to the point where you need to rely on God to make up any shortfall that might occur due to your giving.

So I decided to take God up on this – I mean, after all, He says to test Him in this … He actually says “try Me now in this.”  That sounds like a challenge to me, and I am not one to back down from a challenge.  (God knows me so well!)

I made the decision to start giving 20% of our income back to God.  It was a “deep breath” moment two weeks ago when I wrote that first check in church for twice the amount I had very recently been giving.  And I thought, “OK, Lord – you’re gonna need to help make up the difference here.  You know this will make use tighter on finances this week.  So let’s see what you do.  I am going to have faith (gulp) that you’ve got this covered – that you will honor my obedience in this.”

Next week I got some unexpected income … of $500.  Out of the blue, a family member sent me a check for $500 to help us out.  Oooohhhh Kaaayyy?!?!?  God, is that you?!?!?  I didn’t want to just immediately chalk that up to God’s answer to my increase in tithing.  Does it work that way?  Man, that was quick.

So now what to do?  Do I take 20% of the unexpected income and give it back to God?  It was tempting to just say, “Thanks, God,” and put the $500 in the bank.  But I knew that I had made a commitment that ANY income would have 20% taken off the top and given back to God.  And He knew that.  And I knew He knew that.  So there really wasn’t anything else to do.  He was watching … and waiting, no doubt.  So the deposit slip from the bank was for $400 and I took the other $100 to Walmart and The Dollar Store to buy supplies for one of our church’s outreaches.  (You can read more about that here:  Mission of Hope – Under the Bridge)

I bought warm knit hats and gloves, toiletry items, snack foods and bottled water, etc. to be given away when we had our next outreach to the homeless.

I also took 20% of the monthly Social Security survivors benefits that my daughter and I received, went online and bought some blankets to be distributed as well.  This felt good!  It was exciting to know that I was living on the edge!  There was also a hint of nervousness – there were bills that had been paid, and the money was due to be taken out of our account on Monday.  It was going to be close, whether we would have enough money to cover them or not.  I hoped that my addition was correct, and nothing unexpected happened.  I was trusting God to provide – and knowing that He would, but not knowing the means by which that provision would arrive.

Well, I quickly found out.  When I logged on to my computer and checked my bank balance the following Monday, I was amazed – almost dumbfounded.

My account balance was $5,600 higher than I expected.

Seems someone at the Social Security office decided I needed some extra money.  They had shorted me that amount from the previous year, and hadn’t wanted to hang on to it a minute longer than necessary.  Personally, I think God whispered in their collective ear.

;)

Some people may say that this is just a coincidence.  They may be doubtful that it truly was God’s hand that caused those funds to come our way.  And they are entitled to their opinion.

But I choose to believe that His promise in Malachi is true.  And I think the evidence is on my side.

OK, now to decide just where to give the 20% from THAT windfall!  This is getting to be fun!

 

Words from God

Words from God

Words from God

I want to share a passage of Scripture that I have “claimed” for many years.  This is a passage that has special meaning for me since way back in college.

I was in the midst of waiting for a study session with a campus staff member from Campus Crusade for Christ.  It was the middle of the week, and I was sitting in the middle of the student union in the middle of campus, at a table in the sunlight.  I had my Bible open and was just reading random passages of Scripture, wanting to hear something from God.I flipped the pages and the Bible opened to Isaiah, Chapter 41.  My eyes scanned the words quickly.

“I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.  I said, “You are my servant.”  I have chosen you and have not rejected you.”

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.”

“Though you search for your enemies you will not find them.  Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.”

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you”

Isaiah 41:9-13

For some reason I didn’t realize at the time, it was as if those words were written on the page in BOLD font … and then God had taken a huge yellow highlighter and marked that passage for me.  And then smacked me upside the head with it all.  OK, not literally … but it’s kind of a rush when you realize the God of the universe is talking to YOU.

:)

It was the first time that a piece of Scripture had jumped off the page for me like that – like it was written for me, and had been hiding there – just waiting for me to find.

Has something like that happened to you?  Got a special verse(s) that you have “claimed” as a promise from God?  Share them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear what God has shared with you.

Get Over Yourself

 

Get Over Yourself

Get Over Yourself – By Helping Others

Have you ever wanted to just shout at someone, “GET OVER YOURSELF!”

I came across a quote recently from the playwright George Bernard Shaw that inspired me and made me think.

“This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Often we act as if we are entitled to happiness; that we are the star of this life, and everyone else is merely a supporting player, whose role is to make us look good and meet our needs.   What a self-centered outlook and attitude!  And all this attitude gets us is frustration and hurt.  It feeds into our need for constant gratification, and satisfies out need for constant drama when things don’t go according to our own plans. “Oh, how heartless and cruel everyone is – they aren’t paying enough attention to ME and MY troubles!”

Ya wanna know the best way to “get over yourself”?  Involve yourself in a project that benefits someone else.  Look beyond your own life, and start to invest in someone else’s life.  There are so many people who have needs and struggles that are bigger than your own.  It sounds trite, I know, but it’s true – there is always someone in a worse situation than you find yourself in right now.  And at the very least, you can look at their situation, count your blessings and feel a little gratitude.

Isn’t it even better to roll up your sleeves and find a way to help?

God has been using the past events in my life to teach me gratitude and to appreciate all that I have, and to see that there are so many ways to help someone else.  Instead of moaning and grousing about my situation, lack of spouse and lack of job, I feel so much better when I am able to help someone else struggling in the midst of a crisis.  I am able to use what I have learned and/or experienced to help give them some hope that “this, too, shall pass.”

I admit our afflictions in this life certainly don’t FEEL “light and momentary” – sometimes they are downright heavy and continuous.  But they are indeed going to come to an end at some point.

“I think we naturally assume that if we look out for our own interests and concerns, we will be happy.  But people who sacrifice for others will tell you that seasons of giving are the most rewarding of their lives.” – Francis Chan, Crazy Love

There is joy that is found in giving freely to someone else.  And it lasts longer and goes deeper than any joy we feel from indulging ourselves.  There is something about giving to someone else that nourishes our soul; whether it’s giving our time, our wisdom, our money, our creativity … it’s the act of giving something of ourselves to benefit another person that truly matters.

What can you do today?  What part of yourself can you give today?  What gift has God given you to share with someone else?

Mission of Hope – Under the Bridge

 

Mission of Hope - Under the Bridge

Mission of Hope – Under the Bridge

Last Saturday my youngest daughter and I volunteered with our local church outreach, Mission of Hope.  Now, you may have read a post about Mission of Hope previously on this blog; simply titled “Mission of Hope

(Here’s the website for the Silver Creek Fellowship;  here’s the page for Mission of Hope )

The previous post was written back in November 2014, and it was just after we had helped out with the food distribution at our local church for the first time.

Fast forward, and since then we have been helping out with both food distributions that our church does each month; one at our church “campus” in our hometown and one at a local middle school in a larger town east of where we live.  Each month we have been so blessed to participate in helping out our neighbors who are in need.

This month we again plan to help out with the food distributions, but have added something new – there is another opportunity to volunteer, called “Under the Bridge.”  This consists of a team from our church going to a section of town (the larger town, east of where we live) and setting up food tables to serve lunch under the bridge where there is a large homeless population.  It was my youngest daughter’s idea for us to help this month – I am constantly amazed at the loving heart of this child.  She loves to help people, and is always looking for ways to serve others.

She initiated the conversation last Friday morning, as she was getting ready for school.  “Hey, mom – what would you think about us helping out tomorrow under the bridge?” was actually what she shouted that morning from the shower.  I told her I would email and see if they needed our help, and find out when and were we were to meet up with the team.

An email did indeed confirm that our help would be appreciated, and we were given the details.  So the next morning we meet up with the rest of the crew at our church “campus” to prepare the lunch we would serve that noon.  Our church has built a small warehouse (across from the main church building) that is our food distribution/cooler/commercial kitchen for Mission of Hope, and that’s where we cooked and then loaded all the items we would need for that day’s effort.  Folding tables and plastic chairs were already stacked in the back of the trailer that we hauled behind the church van.  After the food prep, we loaded all the food (2 large servers of hot BBQ pork and 2 cases of hamburger buns for pulled pork sandwiches, large servers of cooked green beans, a large server of dill pickle spears, and 2 large servers of cherry/berry cobbler) into the back of the van, along with extra blankets and clothing to be given out as needed to our “guests.”  Oh yeah, and two large containers of hot coffee, and one of fruit juice.

There were 10 of us volunteering that morning, and we headed out for the 30 minute drive to our destination.  As we turned onto the street that lead to the area behind the bridge, the street was almost blocked by all our “guests” that had shown up in anticipation of our coming.  We slowly threaded our way down the street and turned in to the area parallel to the highway, next to the bridge pillars.  As soon as we exited the van, we had a group of “guests” lined up behind the van – ready hands to help unload tables and chairs, and help set up tables for us.  I had expected to do more of the set up work ourselves, but these folks seemed grateful for a good, hot meal – and they wanted to help as much as possible.  Our “lunchroom” was set up in very little time, and then we were ready to serve our “guests.”

And that’s what we told them – there was no serving line for them to walk through.

They would sit at the tables, and we would bring food to them.  Many of them didn’t expect this, and lined up at the food tables, thinking they needed to get their own food.  They were surprised when we told them, “Why don’t you go and sit down at a table.  I’ll bring you a plate right away.”  Then half of us got to work filling plates while the other half started to distribute those plates to our “guests.”  There was a flurry of activity for about 1/2 hour, as people came and went.  We powered through the BBQ pork and buns, green beans and cobbler – filled cups with coffee and juice – chatted with our “guests.”

Most were quiet, a few were boisterous and gregarious.  A couple even got a little cranky with us over one thing or another.  But all seemed grateful for the meal in the end.  There were several that were probably in need of some type of medication, whether that would be physical or psychological.  There is no denying that many of those homeless, at least in this particular city, are recently discharged from the state mental hospital.  Oftentimes, these folks are discharged because they don’t pose a threat to themselves or anyone else, and they don’t need further treatment – but still need to manage their illness with medication.  Sometimes their families are not willing to accept the burden of caring for them after they have been discharged, and so these folks are left to themselves or to rely on government programs and agencies.  They are given assistance in returning to society and making sure that they are stable with their meds, but sometimes the burdens are too great and many end up on the street without homes or jobs.

As my daughter and I each sat and ate a hot pulled pork sandwich before cleaning up and loading everything back into the trailer, I asked her if she wanted to volunteer again next month when “Mission of Hope – Under the Bridge” came around again.  Her answer was a resounding “YES” – she had been busy taking plates to people and refilling cups, and loved every minute of it.  Being able to serve someone else who needed help made her feel useful, and she had a sense of purpose.

And I was proud to see that she didn’t shy away from any of our “guests” – she treated them all with dignity and respect, never pity or judgment.

So our calendar now has three Saturday mornings each month blocked out to help with Mission of Hope.  How many middle school kids do you know that willingly give up three Saturdays each month to help give food to those in need?!?!

Can I just say how proud I am of my youngest daughter!

:)

Crockpot Tomato Lentil Soup

 

 

Crockpot Tomato Lentil Soup

Crockpot Tomato Lentil Soup

I love my crockpot – and I love it when I find a recipe that I can use in my crockpot that both my youngest daughter and I enjoy.  I lucked out recently when I picked up the January 2015 issue of Oxygen Magazine.  I haven’t picked up an issue of Oxygen fitness magazine in a VERY long time, but I saw one recently and decided to buy it – just for old times.

There was an article about healthy crockpot recipes, so I dove right in.  The first one listed was for “Bacon + Tomato Red Lentil Soup” and sounded good, not withstanding the fact that I had never heard of a “red lentil.”  Lentils were lentils to me – we didn’t eat them much, and I thought they were all the same.  I still do, but that’s beside the point.

I knew I had the ingredients in the cupboard, and it was a rainy Saturday, so I thought “Why not?”  Here is what I put together, after tweaking the recipe slightly.

My version of the recipe:

  • One cup dry lentils
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups chicken or veggie broth/stock/water
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • Chopped celery, carrots and onions – optional, and to your own taste
  • Bacon or chopped ham – optional, and to your own taste

The actual recipe called for 6 strips of bacon, but since I didn’t have that I used a little bit of leftover ham instead.  Not too much, just for some extra flavor.  Oh, and I included onions in the recipe above because next time I intend to use some – I didn’t have any when I tried this recipe, but think they would be a nice addition.  I added the carrots and celery because I had them in the fridge and they needed to be used.   I originally only used about 2 cups of broth, but about halfway through the cooking decided I needed to use more.

:)

This recipe was very quick and very easy, and it tasted delicious.

Now remember – this recipe is downsized, since I am cooking for just the two of us.  Even so, it still made about 4 servings; so if you are cooking for a large group, you may need to play with the amounts a little bit.

I looked for a link to the original recipe from the magazine on the Oxygen website, but couldn’t find it – so here is the original recipe:

  • 6 slices thick cut bacon, diced and cooked
  • 2 cups dry red lentils
  • 5-6 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1 14-oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook in crockpot for 8-10 hours on low heat, or 4-5 hours on high heat.  Makes 6 servings.

 

My Day in Court

My day in court - spent the day at the courthouse

My day at the courthouse

I had to go to court yesterday.  And no, I didn’t do anything wrong; I wasn’t on trial.  I had to testify against a guy from a neighboring county that was on trial for misuse of 911.  And guess who was the *lucky* call taker who took that gem of a call?!?!?!

I had known that the trial was coming up a few months ago, when the deputy showed up on my doorstep to serve me with the subpoena.  At the time I didn’t really remember this guy’s call; all I knew is that is must have been a doozy – because his place of residence was a small town in the afore mentioned neighboring county (can you tell I am trying to distance myself geographically as much as possible from him?), and this small town was known by the quaint colloquialism of “the armpit” of that particular county.  Not a nice place – you can almost hear “Dueling Banjos” as you drive through town, preferable with the windows on your vehicle rolled up tightly.

So I went back to the 911 center last week to listen to a recording of the call, to reacquaint myself with this man and his misuse of the 911 system.  Yes, kiddies, the same 911 center where I was terminated 3 months ago.  That could be a whole ‘nother post, right there.  Maybe some other time, though.  Clearly, it was a little weird going back.  I had to do a great deal of praying before going there; asking God to help me keep my hands off certain people’s throat, for Him to please put His hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t say things I shouldn’t, etc.  He must have been listening, because no blood was spilt, nor foul words spoken.  It was actually very uneventful.

And did I remember the caller and his story?  Why, yes I did.  You see, this was the kind of call that makes you stand up in the com center halfway through it, look around the room and inquire, “AM I BEING PUNKED?!?!?!”  It was a very weird call.  Something about his wife being held hostage by 4 guys that broke into his house.  Then the line goes dead, and I call him back.  Then I get him back on the phone, and he is has a very hard time focusing and answering questions.  Then he hangs up again, and I again call back.  This time he doesn’t hang up, and I spend an outrageous amount of time trying to determine just what the *bleep* is going on at his house.  He’s calling from a friend’s house – reporting something that happened an hour ago, and spends more time talking to himself and to his friend than answering my questions.  His story includes 4 guys, who may or may not be white and/or black (because he may or may not have seen them), one of the intruders wearing a monkey mask, a “sex thing” cooked up by his wife (who may or may not have let them into the house), and the intruders being up on his roof.  Or maybe that was my caller on the roof.  I could never get a straight answer from him.  Lots of shenanigans going on, whatever the case.

So now the caller is being hauled into court for misuse of 911.  And my presence is “requested” via the subpoena.  So I go, and show up when I need to show up.  Sit on the bench outside the courtroom, along with the deputy who responded to the call.  Then end up not testifying at all.  Drat!  I had kinda prepared myself for being in the courtroom, on the witness stand, answering questions – and geared up to do my best Jack Nicholson impression.

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

:)

The reason I didn’t have to testify is the defense agreed to admit the 911 tape of the call into evidence.  That made it pretty cut and dried.  I can’t add much to that call; it speaks for itself.  Pun intended.

So there I sat, on the bench outside the courtroom, for two hours.  The deputy got to go in and testify TWICE.  And the judge found the guy not guilty!  I guess his attorney went for the “It was real in his mind at the time” defense – he didn’t mean to misuse 911, he thought it was an actual emergency.  “He has mental issues, and needs help.”  Funny thing, though – part of the sentencing request from the ADA was that the court make sure the caller get the mental help he needs.  So now, since he wasn’t found guilty, there’s a good chance he won’t get the help he needs – unless he seeks it on his own, and that probably won’t happen.

And the caller/his family from “the armpit?”  They did not disappoint.  There was lots of foul language used outside the courtroom (I have no idea what kind of language they used INSIDE the courtroom – since I never got to see the inside of it), and the basic sentiment expressed by them was that everyone, from the ADA to the deputy and on down (me too?) didn’t know their job.  Their response was typical of people who take no responsibility for their own actions.  It was everyone else’s fault.  They were ecstatic at the verdict, and said they known it all along.  The ADA had no case, they said.  The deputy was only hassling the caller, they said.  Grrrr, I said – although not within earshot of anyone.  Hey, I had dressed nicely for court; I had no intention of getting into a fight that day.  But if I *had* gotten into a fight – I think I could have taken the wife; she looked kinda scrawny.

:)

But even though the day didn’t go like I expected, it wasn’t a total loss.  The ADA told me they were hiring in the DA’s office for a new secretary, and that with my prior work experience I would be well qualified.  She told me to make sure and apply for the job, which I did as soon as I got home.  After stopping by the county treasurer’s office and getting my pay for being a witness – a whole $9.80.

:)

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

Well, it’s been awhile since I posted.  And to tell the truth, I was a little burned out recently.  Not because anything was going on … same ole stuff, really.  But I just felt like …. I didn’t have anything to say.  And I realized that I had been posting stuff on this blog that, at times, didn’t really matter to me.

I started this blog as a kind of diary … not to make money, or get a lot of people to read it (although both would be nice.)  I wanted a place to write down my thoughts, and get them “out there” for others to see and read … and (hopefully) respond.

And then, it happened … one day I started to read other people’s blogs, and read about how they were making money from blogging.  And hearing about all the visits they have every day, day after day, to their blog.  Thousands and thousands of visitors, every day.  That would be nice.  And the money that they make from various advertising on their blog.  Also, nice.

I decided I wanted some of that!

So I “sold out” … at least, my version of selling out.  I started to put up some ads, and write some reviews, and hope to get my page visits boosted.  And I started checking my stats every day, and despairing if they weren’t going up enough.  It was a slow process.  And I started to get bummed out.  So I quit posting for awhile because it wasn’t fun any more.  And it should be; it should be fun to post on my blog.

As I wondered why it wasn’t fun anymore, I realized that I wasn’t doing it for me.  I was trying to fit in to what others were doing, and what other people said would “help my blog grow.”  But I don’t want to do that anymore.  At least, not that way other people say.  Yes, I want my blog to grow; but on my terms, and in a way with which I am comfortable.

So I took down some advertising.  And I stopped overthinking how I could change the blog to make money/get more visitors/etc.  Now I am just back to writing about what I want to write.

Aaaaahhhh!  :)

I want to be funny, and helpful, and inspirational on this blog.  I want to be me, and not someone else’s version of what they think is a great blog.

I don’t like having so many ads on the side of the page.  I hate that on other people’s blogs, and I sure don’t like the look of it on mine.  OK, every now and them there MAY be a link to Amazon.com in a post I write or something; but that’s only for the stuff that I really like and want to share.  Gone are most of the affiliate link and buttons; I chose only one program with which to stay “affiliated.”

I like the look of my blog again … it’s a better representation of me.  Less cluttered, less stuffy … and not trying so hard.  Feels good … this “not trying to fit in.”  :)

 

Seeing Myself Through Different Eyes

Looking at myself through the eyes of someone else

Looking at myself through the lens of someone else

I set myself to the task of copying family VHS tapes to DVD’s recently.  My in-laws had asked if we had any tapes of my late husband that I could copy onto DVD’s for them.  I knew we had some, and so scrounged them up and reviewed them.  My husband had a few from when he was in the Marine Corps; on a West Pac float, at Camp Pendleton, etc.  Most of them where tapes that consisted of him doing the filming of his Marine Corps brothers – with lots of mugging for the camera, and sometimes a crude remark or gesture.  Harmless fun, never intended to be seen by a wife or mother.

I sifted through the tapes and selected two to be copied that showed the most footage of my late husband.  There will be others to copy as well, but I started with these two for now.

One tape that I chose not to copy was one that was almost entirely of me.  Well, they had asked for footage of my husband, so they wouldn’t be interested in this one anyway, right.  :)

Most of it was taped in Oregon, when we were dating and he had come to visit over Christmas with me and my parents.  We had gone out for a drive so I could show him where I had grown up.  As we were going around to various places near my house, he had been videotaping me as I was driving.  Then we stopped at the old cemetery on hill near my family’s house.  It overlooks our farm, and you can see for miles in every direction when you are up on this hill.  He would get a good panoramic view of the area, then turn and catch me on the tape – much to my dismay and amid my protests.

I looked at myself on the TV screen, as I looked 25 years ago, and saw myself with fresh eyes.  And with a little effort, I could see past the initial feeling of “my hair looks awful, did I ever really think that style looked good,” and “my nose is too big,” etc.  I began to actually start to think, “Hey, I don’t look so bad,” and “I am actually kinda pretty.”  I was able to see myself more as my husband saw me, instead of how I usually see myself – with all the flaws (real and imagined) on display.  Seeing myself on that tape helped me to see a little of what he had seen in me all those years  ago.

And I felt a little better about myself.  The years have mellowed me a little, and I was able to accept the beauty that he saw and that I have refused to see all these years.  And acceptance is a little easier now.

 

Credit Card Debt – GONE!

Credit Card Debt is GONE

Credit Card Debt – Now a thing of the past!

BOOM!

And it’s done … the credit card debt that I have been trying to pay off for so long is gone.  I made the last payment on the last credit card this week.  All the stress from having that credit card debt hanging over my head is through … finished … done and over.  :)

Now, I have to say that I still have some debt.  There is the credit line/personal loan that I am still paying off … and that is about $12,000 left to go.  And there is the student loan payments from my oldest daughter’s time in college.  She has her payments to make and I have mine.  So there is still a long ways left to go before I am totally debt free. But it can certainly move a little faster, now that more money is freed up from paying off the credit card debt.

So for now … let me just celebrate this milestone.  This along-awaited, oft-dreamed-of day when I owe nothing to Citibank, Visa, Discover, etc.  Nothing else needs to be paid to them.  No more statements in the mailbox or my email inbox.  No more automatic payments from my bank account, showing such a small amount left in my bank account after those payments.  The credit card companies are now left to themselves, without my hard-earned money going into their pockets.  What will they do without me!

Ah, well you see … the sad truth is … I DON’T CARE!  :)

My goal was to pay off the last of the credit card debt before the end of the year.  And I have done that!  And after I lost my job in early October, I didn’t think that would be possible.  But God is certainly full of surprises, and this one is an especially nice surprise.  How can it be possible for me – without a job for now 2 1/2 months – to be able to payoff the remaining credit card debt … AND also pay off the last of the bill for the local Les Schwab tire center … in the SAME MONTH?!?!?!?!  It’s a two-for-one BONUS!

GOD IS AMAZING!

We have been so blessed.  It doesn’t seem possible.  Where did the money come from?  It’s just not logical.  If you had told me I would be in this position 2 months ago, I would have accused you of smoking crack.  How can a single mom with a daughter at home to support, and no job to pay the bills, manage to somehow pay those bills, put food on the table, and still have a nice Christmas?!?!?!  It’s the “loaves and fishes” thing all over again … happening right in front of my eyes.

IT’S GOD … Plain and simple.

OK, now you all have an idea of where I stand on who gets credit for all this.  ;)

You can read about how all this started here:  Debt – I Really Hate It!  And you can find other helpful posts about debt and finances here:  My Financial Journey

UPDATE: Thanks to Leslie at The Crafty Side of Sarcasm for featuring this post on the Retro Re-pin Pin Party this weekend!
The Crafty Side Of Sarcasm

 

Arbonne Gifts for Her This Holiday Season

Yesterday I showed you a couple ideas for HIM for Christmas this year (Arbonne Gifts for Him this Holiday Season) … now we will look at a few ideas for HER!  :)

Arbonne's Shea Butter Hand Trio

Arbonne’s Shea Butter Hand Trio

I love this trio!  I love the scents of the hand lotions, and the way they soften so quickly.  There is no greasy feel – just a light softness and a light scent.  And they last, too – you don’t have to keep reapplying this hand cream every 5 minutes or so.  :)  The size is perfect for a desk or purse or bag, so you can carry them with you.  Here’s what the website has to say about it:

“Hand over this lovely gift of buttery softness to those you love. Includes two new scents, Blissful Vanilla and Peaceful Green Tea, plus our original Shea Butter.”  (just click the description and it will take you to the Arbonne website.)

 

Arbonne in Bloom Perfume

Arbonne In Bloom perfume

OK, now I cannot tell you personally about this product, because I haven’t tried it yet.  But you can be sure that, if it’s from Arbonne, it will be high quality to the extreme.  Since I can’t speak to a description of this product, here’s how the website describes it:

“Capture floral loveliness in a bottle. A simply sublime all-natural botanical blend blossoming with jasmine, orange flower, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood. Truly inspiring.”

Arbonne's Victoria Lake Makeup Palette

Arbonne’s Victoria Lake Makeup Palette

This makeup palette is stunning!  I am waiting for mine to arrive, along with the Arbonne in Bloom I mentioned earlier.  The colors look so rich and beautiful.  I can’t wait to try out these new makeup looks for the Christmas!  Here’s a quick run down of the colors included:

“Be stunning this season with an all-in-one palette inspired by the enchanting scenery of Victoria Lake. Discover glimmering mineral-infused eye shadows, sheer plum lip color, and a hint of illumination for the cheeks. It’s holiday elegance with colorful impact. Includes four eye shadows: Ripple, Maple, Dawn, and Cloud; Glisten Cheek Highlighter; and Sunset Sheer Moisture Lipstick.”

So there you have a few ideas for HER this Christmas.  But there are lots more where that came from.  And like I mentioned last post, the best way to take advantage of these products is to get them with a 20% discount.  That means signing up as a Preferred Client – and you can do that by going to the Arbonne website to sign up and using my Consultant ID Number:  16237841

Happy shopping!   :)

Oh, and while I am thinking about it – please “like” my Arbonne Facebook page:  Joan Merrell, Independent Consultant – Arbonne International