Tuesday, March 30

Faith

I believed
that if I
had faith
God would open the door
to the things I hope for.
the things I am trusting Him for.

But that is not how it works.
The doors that open
are the ones that God intends to open.
Not the ones I try and will Him to open.

And I say
"bring it on- I'm strong. I love God. I will trust Him through anything"
but sometimes more times then I want to admit,
what I secretly mean is
"See God? I'm trusting you. It MUST be about time for a prize, a wish granted, a gift card to happiness".

But finally,
I realize
(after many months of not realizing)
this "faith" I claim to have
tends to be
circumstantial.
phony.
is just me trying to will God into granting my wishes
by jumping up and down and saying
"Look at me! I have faith! Pick me for a reward!"

yuck.
i fail.

So I started thinking.
What is faith?



Faith:
it's truly believing and trusting in God's perfect plan.
it's not contingent on if He grants me my wishes.

because He doesn't always grant us what we want
only what we need.
only what will help us grow in Him.

and that's a good thing.
and yet I let things get to me.
things that make me angry.
sad.
get a bad case of the "why me?'s"
that make me doubt.
that make me cry.
that make me close my eyes
and not pray
but wish
like I'm wishing upon a star
instead of praying to the God who made those stars.


So dare I say "bring it on?"
Am I really ready for God to test my faith?
Do I truly believe in His great plan for my life?
I say yes.

But then I almost delete those four lines...
because I'm scared to say that.
The sinner in me says
That means things will be taken away
or will never come to be.
I'll never be happy again.

but then again,
isn't faith being able to say that?
being able to say "Mold me. Make me into who I am to be"
being able to say it
without fear,
without doubt,
and without hesitation?

it's being able to lay all of my wishes at God's feet.
letting go of them.
and focus instead on thanking Him for His perfect plan for my life.
knowing He will follow through with that plan.

and being okay with that.


I'm not perfect.
I'm still on this journey.
It's tough.
It's hard.
I still eat my feelings
and cry.
I forget to pray.
forget to spend time with God.
but I am striving.
trying.

trying to have faith
without conditions.
without hesitations.
and without doubt.

And
I am realizing
that the only way I can stand strong
and have happiness, joy, and fulfillment
when that door is not opened
and may never be opened
will be truly trusting
in the One with the plan
the perfect plan
which I'm pretty positive will be way more perfect
than my plan could ever be.

and that,
my dear friends,
is where I believe true faith lies.
and where I will continually try
(and try again)
to stay.

You think your red coat is pretty cute.....

or at least decent


until a second grader says

"Are you wearing Mr. Stephens' coat?"

and another,
or possibly many, 
other students inquire as well.



So I guess a new raincoat is in order.
Clearly.

Saturday, March 27

Saturday is...

einstein bagels (party in my stomach).

various shopping including anthropologie (my heart stopped beating).

jamocha shake (sugar-love rush x a trillion).

new jeans (a miracle with a bit of credit to a bit of spinning).

fresh produce (for tabouleh making).

wegmans frenzy (yogurt and milk and hummus oh my).


and a whole lot of Dan (me = lucky).


which means a whole lot of love.

and a whole lot of wishing

for a whole lot more time

loving and eating and laughing and being together.



hurry summer hurry.

Friday, March 26

2nd Grade Says (unofficially titled *Why I Love Teaching*)



I receive many letters and pictures throughout the year. 
But this one just touched me to the core of my heart. 
So sweet. 

My heart melted faster 
than that York Peppermint Patty 
I sat on by accident 
while driving to Schroon Lake. 
That was a mess.

This is just precious.

Sunday, March 21

Ashley....

*sometimes dusts with the vacuum

by sucking up the dust

so i don't have to use arm strength.


*messy buns and hairsprays to avoid hair washing

so i can sleep 10 extra minutes.

it's always worth it.


*really wants to diet. but just ate a reese cup.

licked the wrapper too.


*loves coupons but sometimes throws things.

scissors are bad to throw.



*has bags of free drugstore items in the closet.

and by closet i mean basement.

and by basement i mean an actual bedroom that should be used for something

that i shove everything with no purpose into.

including the Christmas tree.

it's on the floor.

next to the rite-aid bags.

and the workout dvds.

but certainly not next to the reese cups.

they are right next to me.



*this story is true.

Saturday, March 13

Breathing.

It's hard to know exactly what to say
to start out this post.
I guess what I want to say is that sometimes
life makes me feel tired.
overwhelmed.
and a whole lot of other feelings
that I don't like feeling.

but then
Hallelujah for the "but"
God throws out a reminder
a whisper
a "Child- did you forget already?"
whatever you want to call it...

like tonight
as I let my emotions get all emotional on me
and "Give me Jesus" starts playing on the radio.

and I realize
once again (oh how quickly I seem to forget sometimes)
that everything that I am allowing to consume my thoughts
is of this world.

everything I am letting affect me
is not eternal.

And I have Jesus.
I don't need anything else.
I shouldn't worry about all that other stuff.

He's taking care of me.
I just need to seek Him
with all of my heart
and truly say to the world
"World- you can keep it.
I'm uninterested.
Give me Jesus."


But still
to be quite honest
sometimes
even after the song has played
I still allow myself to be caught up in the moment.
caught up in things I can't control.
or things that I just want to go away.
or things I want to stay just the way they are.
or things I wish didn't happen.
or things I want so badly so happen.

and a part of me just wants to sleep
and hope I wake up feeling better...
but I know I should pray.
I know I should ask God to help me.
to bring me back to Him.

because if I allow other things to control me
I'm in bondage.
and I want to be free.
and I want to say
Give me Jesus.
and I want nothing else to matter.


because it's then
only then
when I can finally breathe.
because I will be holding on to what's truly true.
and what truly matters.
Jesus.

you can have all this world.

Give me Jesus.

Wednesday, March 10

Another bad case of ICP

Today
at the Acme
near my home
was a sad, sad day.


It seems it has caught the internet-coupon-phobia (ICP)
duh duh dun.

This greatly saddens me because I have never been hassled about using internet coupons before at this particular Acme. They did finally take my coupons, but would not double two of them. And it took forever because they checked. every. blessed. one. It was a very long, frustrating ordeal.

So now I'm left with what to do when fought with about using coupons used from 
!shock! 
the internet 
!double shock!

I can tell you what NOT to do.....
I won't tell you how I know.

1. Never say things like "Well I will just have to shop at another Acme then" when you don't have another Acme near you. 

2. Never think things like "Stupid Acme, I hate their guts" when you shouldn't hate anyone and it's weird to be hating on something's guts anyway. Plus when you start thinking about hating guts, it's one step closer to coming out of your brain through your mouth.

3. Never, EVER battle grumpy employees. Pulling out the big guns and saying things like "I'm a couponer- I know Acme takes these" and "I've been doing this for years and I've never had a problem" only make the employee round up her army. They then will form a semi-circle around you and start shooting dagger-eyes at you and just keep saying over and over "We will take these this time but we won't double them". 

4. And never try and explain couponing to them, or they will just reply by saying "We will take these this time but we won't double them".

5. And never try and explain again, because they will just keep repeating "We will take these thi........"

And what does "this time" even mean?
Why will you?
Will you not next time?
Are you writing my name down so that all employees will know I've had my "this time"?

This is very frustrating to me. I feel like I can't use my internet coupons in faith anymore. There has been too many close calls. And then today, a dollar of doubling was lost. 

And I know it's not that big of a deal.
But when you sit and plan and go
and the employee you happen to be working with
gets annoyed
and screamy
and starts getting a rash from her ICP
it is very upsetting.

tear.

snack.

feeling better.


anyway, I feel like I need a new strategy. One that doesn't start with me: 
a. sounding full of it. "I'm a couponer"
b. sounding like i have other Acmes nearby. "Well I'll just shop at other Acmes then"
c. sounding like a seasoned couponer when I look like I'm 13. "I have been coming here for years"


But what to do?
Lay down my sword coupon book and surrender?
Duke it out?
Fight to the finish?

I really wish I knew.
I want to stand up for myself.
I think it's fine to do so
but sometimes it feels really hard to not get carried away.

In the end, it's only a few dollars
but it's my testimony too
which is worth more than a few dollars
even thought i don't always act like it.

like today
at the Acme
near my home.

Sunday, March 7

Sail over to the Sales!

Check out this new blog:

South Jersey Shopper

where my friend Michelle and I will be sharing our drugstore and grocery store weekly scenarios with you.

I'm super excited.
Yes, I celebrated with a snack.
Yes, it was a Reese Cup.
Yes, you may grab a snack as well.

Happy saving!!

Saturday, March 6

Rite Aid Deals- 3/7-3/14

So my momma has been begging me
to share my deals with her.
It just so happens I love sharing my deals.
So I am going to start putting my Rite Aid scenarios
on my blog
for her
and possibly your
enjoyment.

There may be other deals
hopefully not better ones
overmydeadbody
kidding...kidding...
but these are the deals that I put together.
Enjoy!
And buy your papers!!
And read your Bible!!! (clearly not related to this post, but important none-the-less)


John Frieda Products (select)- 3 for $15.
Use (3) $3 off coupons from 3/7 Smart Source which is in the Sunday paper (abbreviated SS)
Use 1 $1 off coupon from Rite Aid Video Values
$5 out of pocket.
Submit receipt online and get a $5 Single Check Rebate (abbreviated SCR).
Total Cost- FREE

Almay Products- BOGO
Use (2) $2 off coupons off any almay cosmetic from the 2/7SS
Submit receipt online at get a $5 SCR
Total Cost varies...but very close to free, if not free. I'm making it cost $3 total in the scenario below

Covergirl Products- BOGO
Use BOGO Face coupon from 2/7PG to get both FREE
Rite Aid employees sometimes will try and let you not use a BOGO coupon with a BOGO sale. so whip out your Rite Aid Coupon Policy and prove it. because it CLEARLY states you can.

Gillette Deodorants- 2 for $8 (other deodorants included- this is the best deal)
Use (1) $4 off coupon from the 2/21 PG
Submit receipt online and get a $2 SCR
Total Cost- 2 for $2

Oral B Toothbrushes (various)- $2.74
Use (1) $1 off coupon from the 2/21 PG
Submit for $1 SCR
Total Cost- .99

Scenario:

Purchase:
3 John Frieda Products ($15)
2 Almay Products ($7ish)
2 Cover Girl Products ($7ish)
Gillette Deodorants ($8)
Oral B Toothbrush ($2.74)
$39.74
Give coupons in this order:
$5 off 25 Rite Aid Coupon from online $5 off $25
$1 John Frieda coupon from Rite Aid video value
BOGO Cover Girl (making both items free)
$2 Almay coupons (use two- $4 total)
$1 Oral B coupon
$4 Deodorant Coupon
$3 John Frieda coupons (use three- $9 total)

FINAL PRICE OUT OF POCKET: $8.74
Submit Rite Aid Receipt online and get $13 in SCR's back
That's a $4.26 Money Maker....
besides the fact that you just got all of that for FREE!

swooning over here.

Thursday, March 4

Disgusting-Chicken-ness. Again.

Dear Raw Chicken Manufactures,

I guess you didn't realize it.
I guess I shouldn't have assumed.
But I abso-tootin-lutely only want chicken
in my frozen chicken tenderloins.

And as I grabbed some of your chicken-goodness from my freezer
I noticed two little rubbery straws
(*edit- after further thought, a better describer of this rubbery mess emerging from my chicken is barbie arms. yes. just like barbie arms. coming out of my chicken.)
peering from the tenderloin
stretching out of the top
two little arms with little hand nubs....
I'm not sure if the chicken was doing yoga
or flailing it's straws
or helping an airplane land
or what....

Whatever the poor chicken was trying to say,
I certainly did NOT buy
Frozen Chicken Tenderloins
Attached Rubber Straws included!!

and as I bit down on the rubber straw
which I recently found out that straw = artery
*edit- except it might mean feather holder or tendon
*excuse me while i vomit in my mouth
and out of my mouth*
that I missed while cutting up the chicken 
dan cut up for me because i'm a big baby with raw meat grossness
I decided I have had it with the frozen chicken.

the nubs.
the veins.
the straws.
the whole muscle kit-and-kaboodle.

it is disgusting.
and apparently shoprite and you...
frozen chicken producers...
love the
gizzards, hooves, and heels
the innards
the outards
and everything in between.

but I DO NOT.
and when I want to eat a tenderloin
I want to eat a naked tenderloin
that is not decorated in glamorous jewelry
made of veins and straws/barbie arms.


and I'm sorry if I seem complainy.
but i have to figure out something....
there must be some way for you to remove the straws
because if there isn't,
I'm going to have to bury my chicken recipes in the ground
and call it a day.
because I can't chew on arteries or veins again.
it's already enough to chew on the muscle.
I can't bare adding more to chew.

So for the love-of-every-chicken-recipe-and-my-husband-who-likes-chicken,
please fix your chicken.


Sincerely,
Chicken about Chicken

Wednesday, March 3

Growing Pains







I wish I could say I was always.....


trusting the Lord.
without questions.
without fears.
without worries.

patient.
enjoying today.
thankful for yesterday.
looking forward to tomorrow.

joyful.
each moment.
in everything.
with a full heart.


Sometimes, 
it's hard to pray
to the One 
who allows the situations in our lives 
that cause us to
struggle in
patience, 
complete trust, 
and being filled with joy.

But 
the truth is....
it's those situations 
that teach us how to become 
patient- in all things
trusting- never questioning
and joyful- filled with the joy of the Lord.




This life isn't about
walking the rainbow of happiness
with the only storms consisting of 
chocolate rain and candy cane umbrellas.




It's about growing to become more like Christ


and sometimes growing hurts...


but 


it is those times that I seem to grow the most
because all I can do in those times of trial is
seek the joy of the Lord
which gives me the strength to
trust Him
and wait patiently
and joyfully.


So though it feels tough,
and chocolate rain sounds really nice,
I thank God 
for allowing me opportunities to
grow
to become more like Him.