Goodwill

Nope, not the general feeling towards mankind at Christmas, but the store. Goodwill is my favorite store. Surprised? Those who know me well, aren’t. There are so many reasons to love Goodwill, I like to tell you about a few.

1. You can get brand new jeans with tags still on retailing for $100, for $3.95! Yep, I did.

2. You can get brand name stuff that you would never spend that much money for in real life for that’s right, you guessed it, $3.95.

3. They always have lots of kids clothes. You might now always find something good, but most of the time you do.

4. They have furniture for a fraction of the original cost. Granted it might be a little “loved” but with four boys in the house, that is a good thing. They are just going to destroy it anyway. Yep, our couch, the leather recliner, $50 at Goodwill.

5. Books, really cheap books.

6. Lastly, it is super fun to people watch there. You can see some really interesting characters.

I know that some of you might be shocked that I have gotten 80% of my wardrobe at Goodwill, but it is true. I know it can be a little overwhelming to some, but really it’s not so bad. Here are my tips for shopping successfully at Goodwill:

1. Go regularly. Merchandise turns over quickly, so shop often. The best times to shop are during the week and especially right after Christmas.

2. When you walk in it can be a bit overwhelming to look at racks and racks of clothes, but they are all separated for the most part, in the following way. First there are sections for men, women and kids. Then by item: dresses, shirts and pants, ect. Then by style color and season. So, you think about what you are looking for. For example, a dress. Then you go over to the dress section and choose a color you like and start looking through it. You can tell pretty quickly what will and won’t work just by size and style.

3. Get choosy about labels. I only buy things that are from more expensive stores I have heard of. One label I like to look for is Ann Taylor. I like the stuff from that store but could never afford to shop there. I have found a lot of stuff at Goodwill from there.

4. Always try stuff on. I know some of you might think this is gross, trying on clothes that other people have worn, but you do that at clothing stores all the time. Other people try on the stuff you try on. Really. If you are that icky about it then wear tight-fitting shorts and tank top or something underneath. You really have to try stuff on though because most Goodwill’s don’t have a return policy.

5. Check the clothes for stains, rips and make sure all zippers work. A must!

6. Things not to buy at Goodwill. Some of these should be obvious, but just in case. Under garments eww!, socks, and lingerie double eww! I also, personally, don’t buy swimsuits there or shoes unless they have tags on them.

There you are. You really can save a bundle and get some really nice stuff at Goodwill if you are willing to get past the initial issues with going. I have gotten some really great finds. The other nice thing is that you can try out trendy stuff and if you hate it don’t wear it again, you only paid $3.95!

 

Grandma

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my Grandma went to live with Jesus. That was over 20 years ago, but I still remember it well. I was 10 when my grandma died. I didn’t get to see her often because she lived far away but those times I did were special. I was her only granddaughter after 5 grandsons. I was a little rotten. lol. We usually would visit her at Christmas time. She lived in Florida, so Christmas there isn’t like it is here. There is no chance for snow, and you will most likely be wearing shorts instead of coats and hats. She had the proverbial old person house. It had 70’s furniture and had that old person smell. She always had Pop tarts and Coke for me. She also always had orange slices, the candy. I still buy those every now and then and think of her. The other great thing about her house was that she had a grapefruit tree in her backyard. You haven’t lived until you have eaten grapefruit off a tree freshly picked!

One fun memory I have of my grandmother as I got older, was her false teeth. She would take the out for us, it was hilarious to a then 10-year-old. Sometimes when we were at grandma’s my mom and I would “escape” to Wal-Mart because her house was so warm. Older people like warm houses. She also had a spoon collection. She had spoons from every state and other places throughout the world. She also collected Precious Moments figurines. I still have some of those from her house. They are special to me.

My grandmother was special. The best thing about her, and what I remember her most for was her faith in God. She had some of the greatest stories about God’s faithfulness and love in her life. She attended church every Sunday, even when no one else went with her. One of my last memories of her was her lying in a hospital bed being very sick from cancer. She gathered me and my cousin over to her side and asked us if we had invited Jesus into our hearts. I think she knew that her time on this earth was short and she wanted to make sure that we had a relationship with Jesus so that she would see us again in Heaven. She was a great woman of faith and her life was evidence of that fact. When I have times in my life when I don’t know if things will work out and I can’t see God’s hand in things, I remember a story she told me or something she said and it always points me to God. I look forward to the day when I will see her again in Heaven. I look forward to getting to know her as an adult. But I know how blessed I am to have known her here on earth. She was a foundational person in my life and in my faith in God. Her legacy of faith lives on in my life and also in the lives of her other grandchildren.

Is there someone in your life that you can point to as your spiritual mentor? If not, seek someone out that you admire, spiritually, to mentor you. We are not all blessed to have believing grandparents in our lives, but there are many “adopted” grandparents I have had over the years. There may be someone in your life like that. Be thankful for that person. You might also be able to be that spiritual “grandparent” for someone else.

A day in the life

It’s been a crazy day already so, I decided I would share it. It starts at about 6am this morning when Glenn, Samuel and Jordan are up for school. They are not the quietest people in the world so I am usually woken up in the process of them getting ready. This morning they were banging around and fussing with each other, so I knew it was going to be one of those mornings. Then around 6:45am, much to my dismay, Joshua started fussing. He usually sleeps till 8, so this was much too early. I let him fuss for a while, but he was just getting more upset so I went and got him up. He has been cranky since last week when we drug him around to four family events in four days. I often wonder why we do that sort of thing to ourselves knowing it will produce an irate toddler for the next week, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

I got Joshua up and put him in his high chair for breakfast. Samuel and Glenn are headed out the door for school and Jordan is on the couch fussing for food. It is at this point in the mornings that I wish I were one of those “morning people” who gets up ready for the day and cheerful, but I have to confess that isn’t the case. My husband often jokes that he can’t talk to me before 9am otherwise he will just get grunting. It’s true, I have to admit. I really just want peace and quiet in the morning and a cup of tea, but that isn’t usually what I get. I wish I was one of those moms who gets up early and makes their kids a good breakfast and stuff, but again, that just isn’t the case. Breakfast around here usually consists of cereal, or lately peanut butter sandwiches, hey at least its protien. So, I fix “breakfast” for Joshua and Jordan and sit down with my tea when the baby wakes up. I let him fuss for a bit, and finish my tea. Then I get Joshua down from his high chair and put him in his room with the baby gate up. He HATES this. But I tell him this would not be the case if he didn’t get up so early, but now mommy has to shower and he has to stay in his room. I get the baby in the bouncy chair, and set him up in the bathroom so I can shower. I get into the shower and pretend for a moment that I don’t have any kids, until the 5-year-old comes in to pee. (Really? can’t you use the other bathroom? no, of course not, mommy can’t have five minutes by herself can she?) Anyway, I finish my shower and realize that Joshua has been playing his usual game of throw everything in my room over the baby gate into the hallway. I imagine the mess I will have to clean up. I get dressed and come out of the bathroom to inspect said mess. I look down and see the coat rack that used to be on his wall is now in the floor in the hallway. It’s a piece of wood with four coat hooks on it that was screwed to the wall in this room. He usually takes the coats off and throws them. Not a big deal, but now he has managed to get the coat rack down. I have no idea how he did this with two-inch screws holding this thing to the wall, but that is not my immediate concern. What I am frantically searching for are the screws. I find one but I cannot find the other. I am imagining all sorts of horrible things he could have done with it and wondering if I will ever find it. Then I look at him and realize that his mouth is shut, not normal for him. I look in his mouth and wallah, the two-inch screw. Fortunately he was fine.

After I get over my panic, I start cleaning up his room and take the baby gate down for him to walk around. I walk down the hall and realize that an outlet cover in the hallway is missing. This has been an epidemic in our house over the past few days ever since Glenn vacuumed the other day. I was very thankful that he vacuumed so I didn’t fuss at him for leaving the outlet cover off, I just replaced it and moved on. (see my halo?) So, today when it was missing, I knew it had been there and no one had taken it out to vacuum. Then I look at Joshua and realize he has an outlet cover in his mouth. I fuss at him really good and try to find another outlet cover that he cannot remove. I am now thinking this kid has a death wish or something.

All that happened before 9am. Since then, for the past hour and a half, I have called the insurance company to fight with them about paying for some bills for Joshua, and called various medical providers to get them to resubmit bills to the insurance company and not charge me for them. Then I have tried to get Elijah to take a nap. He is teething and has a cold, bad combo. He finally went to sleep and then Joshua got fussy so I put him down for a nap and Elijah just woke up. It’s like juggling babies sometimes around here. lol.

That’s my day so far. Crazy, I know. There is definitely never a dull moment around here. I hate to be bored and I kind of thrive on crazy, obviously. People ask me all the time “how do you do it?’. I usually say “one minute at a time”. And that is true, but honestly, you just get used to crazy and that becomes your new normal. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Parenting Pride

(written on Tuesday)

I just got back from the pediatrician’s office, yet again. We had to make sure Jordan’s pneumonia was getting better and it is, thank goodness. I had to take all four boys today since Samuel got out of school early for the holiday. It’s funny how adding one kid can really make things so much worse. Samuel and Jordan had the sillys today. Samuel had a party at school today and apparently they loaded the kid up with sugar or something because he was off the chain. (See I am hip, I can use the latest lingo correctly. lol) Anyway, it was so bad that the doctor actually sent Samuel out of the room because he was giggling so much he couldn’t hear Jordan’s lungs well. That, I have to admit, was one of my lowest parenting moments. It is totally embarrassing to me for someone else, especially a doctor, to have to discipline my kids. Horrible!

After the doctor left the room, and I proceeded to take away everything dear to my children as a form of punishment for acting like fools, I realized that they really were just being excited boys. They weren’t being bad, just silly. They are excited about the holiday and whatnot. It does not excuse bad behavior, but I realized I was more concerned with the fact that they had embarrassed me rather than their bad behavior. The doctor came back in the room and was smiling at me telling me to send them outside to “run it off” when they get home. He has children, he knows how little boys are.

So many times, I realize that I try to get my kids to behave well so as to not embarrass me in public. This isn’t really a good motive behind parenting. Anyone can “train” a kid to act correctly in public, but it’s what is in the heart that matters. The kids can behave well on the outside but if their hearts are harbouring bad attitudes, what good am I really doing them? I have to look beyond right now and realize that my kids’ actions are not necessarily the important thing, it’s their attitude and hearts. Kids are going to act badly at times and this will not be the last time they embarrass me. I am sure. But I have to look deeper and change the attitude behind the action and then the action will take care of itself. The attitude behind their action today was not bad, it was just silly. That is not to say that they have good attitudes all the time, in fact on the way home they got in trouble for their attitudes. I just need to realize that my children have free will and are therefore going to mess up sometimes. Up until now, I have to say they have been pretty well behaved in public and maybe I was getting a little too prideful in that. God always has a way of making you see you are not above everyone else. 🙂 But it’s not the actions that matter, it’s the heart that matters.

Risk

“And without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:6

I was listening to Focus on the Family recently that they were interviewing a man and his wife who had adopted and fostered children in Canada. What struck me most about the interview was the man’s interpretation of this verse. He said that you can also translate the word “faith” to mean “risk”. In which case the verse would read “without risk it is impossible to please God”

That is really interesting. It really opens up this verse to me. Honestly, when I have read it in the past I didn’t really think much of it. I thought, okay we have to have faith to please God, sure that makes sense. But when you put in the word “risk” for “faith”, it really makes sense. The man interviewed said that God calls us to things that require risk. We all know that is true. You cannot do anything, really, without some risk involved. Loving anyone is certainly risk. You could get hurt. This man was saying that they have taken on great risk in fostering and adopting these children over the years, but the risk was worth it. It was what God had called them to.

Throughout the Bible God has called His people to risk great things for His sake. People have risked everything they had materially, their comfort and a lot of times their lives for the sake of the gospel. In this day in time, I think we as Christians think there shouldn’t be any risk for us to please God. We are not willing to risk even our own comfort for Jesus. “God, you want me to give money to that missionary? Yeah, well that would be too risky, I need that money, what if I can’t pay my bills?” “God you want me to witness to that person on the street? What will people think passing by if I am talking to a homeless person, what if that person hurts me?” “God you want me to foster children who have no home? But God that might hurt me emotionally when they leave, I can’t do that.” All these are really legitimate excuses for not doing whatever God has called you to do, however, I think they are born out of mistrust of God. Do we not trust God enough to take care of us financially if He has called us to give our money? Do we not trust God for our safety if He has called us to talk to a homeless person? Do we not trust God with our hearts when he has called us to love someone who might leave?

I think we as Christians don’t take on enough risk. The early Christians in Acts gave up their very lives for the gospel. God does not often ask that of us, but He does require some risk at times. We can either sit and not do what He has called us to, because we don’t trust Him to care for us, or we can do what He has called us to and reap heavenly rewards. Is it worth the risk to see someone come to the saving knowledge of Christ? Is is worth the risk to enable a missionary to preach the gospel to remote lands? Is is worth the risk to love a child for a moment hoping to make a lasting impact on their life? All these things require something of us, risk. What is God asking you to do that requires risk? Are you willing to risk that thing for Christ? He risked everything to ransom us all.

 

Thanksgiving

I was remembering past Thanksgivings today and thinking about how different they used to be when I was younger than they are now. Funny how marriage can change you life so dramatically. 🙂

When I was younger it was just my mom and I. Most of our extended family lived in Florida and we didn’t get to visit them for Thanksgiving. Usually my cousin, Travis would come over, since he was in college near by. Thanksgiving was really laid back. We would get up and watch the Macy’s day parade, my mom is a sucker for parades. Then we would have some breakfast, usually involving sausage and eggs in one form or another. Mom would start cooking the turkey, dressing and usual Thanksgiving fare, and we would have “dinner” around 2pm. Then watch football and eat the best leftover turkey sandwiches ever. I actually looked forward to the turkey sandwiches more than the actually turkey dinner. All in all it was a very restful and relaxing, quiet day.

Then I got married. My husband comes from a large family, to say the least. He has five sisters and just about every other relative lives within the same 30 miles, some of them even live next door. This was a completely foreign idea to me. The first thanksgiving I went to had about 25 people. I was shocked. And then there isn’t just one meal, they have multiple meals at multiple houses on multiple days. You just eat and eat and eat. It’s what I call the caravan holiday. You just spend the whole weekend going from house to house eating and taking family pictures.

Then of course there is the food. I had no idea people didn’t all eat the same thing for Thanksgiving. I just assumed everyone had turkey, stuffing from a box, jellied cranberry sauce from a can, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding and yeast rolls. And don’t forget pumpkin pie, curtousy of Mrs Smith. But when I went to my husbands thanksgiving meal they had the turkey and then everything else was completely different. They have mushrooms in the stuffing and it did not come out of a box. I had no idea people actually made stuffing from scratch. They also had cranberry relish, it’s hard to explain, it’s good, but is not anything like cranberry sauce out of a can. Then there is pumpkin muffins, which I honestly found as a welcome addition. But there is nothing green whatsoever. They don’t believe in vegetables. Just kidding, there is a brocoli salad I think, but I discovered that there are people in the world who actually hate green bean casserole! What? They also have spinach balls, which are quit good I might add. All in all, just not what I was used to.

Over the past 10 years Glenn and I have learned to compromise about Thanksgiving. I bring sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce to his family’s house. I have learned to roll with the schedule of his Thanksgiving, although it was very difficult at first. I am not really a people person and that much family all the time just makes me tired. I have learned to retreat to a quiet corner when I get overwhelmed, and move on with life.

Marriage brings compromise, especially at the holidays. But it also makes those same holidays so much richer, if you allow it to. We used to argue and fight about what we would do on holidays and it was so stressful. But now we have compromised and made holidays a hybrid of both families, while not forgetting to take time for our own little, well big, family. The point of Thanksgiving is not what parades you watch or what you eat, it’s about what great deals you get at Black Friday sales, I mean, it’s about family and spending time together. We have had some hard Thanksgivings in our 10 years together when I didn’t feel like I had a lot to be thankful for, but there are more good times than bad, and we do have so much to be thankful for. You cannot realize the good unless you experience the bad. I am thankful this year for the hard times in my life, that have made me truly thankful for my blessings.

Ostrich Hole

I read an extremely interesting book recently on the subject of Foster Care. You are probably wondering what in the world Foster Care has to do with the title of this post. Well, I will tell you. This book I read was one woman’s story about her experiences as a foster-mother. Before reading this book I really had no idea about Foster Care. I was just blissfully ignorant about what Foster Care was all about. Reading this book made me realize what pain and abuse happens in the world around me, that I know nothing about. I really live in an insulated world of happiness.

I think so many times as Christians we like to pretend that nothing is wrong with the world, because we don’t want to get out of our comfort zones to fix any of it. We are like ostriches who prefer to have our heads in our ostrich holes than to see the world around us for what it is. I am guilty of that. I often times just don’t want to know about things just so I don’t have to deal with the possible emotional response I might have to those things. I think God has been showing me recently that I cannot just pretend things are perfect in the world. I am called to be in the world and make a difference by doing what I can do to change those awful things. I, honestly, would prefer to just isolate myself and do nothing until God calls me home to Heaven. That would be simpler, wouldn’t it? But that is not what I am on earth for. Do I choose character or comfort? Do I choose to make a difference in someone else’s life by sacrificing my own comfort to do so?

Now that I know the truth about things like foster care or the millions of orphans around the world who are in orphanages and desperately need someone to care for them, what can I do to help? I cannot sit around and do nothing. Most of the time I think we as Christians would help if we just new about what the truth of these situations are. I challenge you to find out more about things you are passionate about. I was always passionate about adoption, being adopted myself, but I didn’t really take much time to find out the uncomfortable truths about adoption. I am working to change that. Is it comfortable to know about these things? No. But I feel it’s necessary to bring myself to the point where I have enough righteous anger and compassion to do something about it. God doesn’t want us to be apathetic and do nothing. When Jesus was here on earth who did he hang out with? Tax collectors and prostitutes. The people no one wanted to be around. Was it comfortable to hang out with those people? No. What would people think? But that is who He chose to make a priority.

I think He gives us all a passion about something. What is it that really makes you mad? Chances are that is what you are passionate about. The treatment of children really gets to me, so that is my calling. What is yours? I challenge you to find out and get out of your ostrich hole and find out the real truth of the situation so that you can then do something about it. It will not be comfortable, but those things that are worth doing are not comfortable.

Reflections on Life Group

This week in Life Group we talked about anger. To be honest, I really sort of dreaded this one. I joke and say that I didn’t know I had an anger problem till I had kids. I really didn’t get angry much before kids. It’s amazing how your kids can bring out the best and worst in you. Sacred Parenting, the book we are using in Life Group, talks a lot about anger and how to deal with it. One of the biggest things I took away from last night was that it’s okay to get angry, all of us do, you just need to look at your motives for being angry and learn how to use that anger in a positive way.

Motives are a big thing for me. I often find that when I am angry at the kids for something it is usually because there is some underlying thing that is making me angry, not really them. Often it has to do with some physical need I have neglected. I find myself being snappy with them and intolerant and I think to myself, “what is wrong with me?”. Usually it’s that I haven’t eaten recently, or slept well, or it might be that I am hurt by someone else’s actions. I usually am more snappy with my kids when it’s a certain time of year that is hard for me, such as the anniversary of one of my miscarriages, for example. When I realize what is really causing my anger it’s easier to deal with it.

There are those times when it’s just the kids misbehaving that is getting to me. I then have to take a minute to collect myself and think whether what I am angry about it worth the effort. My mom tells me all the time you have to pick your battles. That is so true. It’s not worth getting angry about everything, but there are some things you should get angry about.

There are times when I find myself angry at a particular cause. Lately, I have been reading a lot about orphans. That makes me angry. The treatment of orphans around the world is appalling. I can sit and stew in my anger or I can use that anger to do something about it. I choose to do something. God has given us anger as a motivator to change. Sometimes we need to change ourselves and we should get angry with ourselves. I have done that many times. My own mistakes make me angry. If we don’t allow ourselves to be angry with ourselves then we will not be motivated to change.

Anger is a hard emotion to control. And often we find ourselves being angry with those closest to us. We cannot have close relationships with others without getting angry with those we love sometimes. But we also need to practice forgiveness for ourselves and those around us.

Technology

Technology is a wonderful thing, if you know how to use it. It is not my best skill, in fact it takes all I have just to post pictures on this blog. I know, sad. There is some really neat new stuff out there. Like the iPhone4 for example. That thing just amazes me. You can tell it that you have locked your keys in your car and it will find a locksmith for you. It is just crazy. It’s like having a personal assistant with you all the time.

My son Samuel asked me the other day if I would like a new iPhone. I said, “of course, but we don’t have the money in the budget right now for that, so I am not going to get one.” (trying to teach a little money management skills and good things come to them that wait, sort of stuff. lol) Anyway, he wasn’t too happy with that answer because he wants things NOW. To be honest, so do I. I would love to have the newest stuff right now, but that wouldn’t be very responsible, and since I have turned 30, I have to do responsible stuff now. Drat!

I think technology is great, obviously I am a fan of computers and blogging. It’s just amazing how much you can learn about someone nowadays, on computers. It’s artificial though. I try to be as “real” as possible on this blog, but you don’t really know the real me, unless you know me in person. And honestly, there are few people who really know me well – I could count them on one hand. We are all like that, I suppose. I have friends that I have never met in real life, but I feel as though I really know them. This whole blogging stuff can give you the illusion of knowing about someone or something when you haven’t actually met the real thing.

It’s a lot like Jesus. You can know a lot about Jesus, you can listen to other people talk about him. You can listen to a million sermons about Him and everything he did here on earth, but do you really “know” him? You don’t really know him unless you have met him. How do you meet Jesus? You talk to him yourself. I can pray for you, but you will never understand Jesus unless you pray and talk to him yourself. You can be a Jesus expert but in the end never really “know” him. Do you really “know” Jesus, or do you just know about Jesus? Do you talk to him regularly or read his word? You cannot get to Heaven by just knowing a lot about Jesus, you must really know him for yourself. You have to simply ask him to come into your heart and confess your sins. He wants desperately to talk to you. He loves you more than you can imagine and He wants you to know him more. He created you to know him. Jesus has his own blog, it’s called the Bible, read it sometime and get to know him better.

Single Moms

Last week Glenn was out-of-town for three days. I was a very long three days for me. All four kids were sick and it was all I could do to keep up. When he came home it looked like a bomb had hit our house. I just couldn’t get it all done. It gave me a new appreciation for single moms. My own mom was a single mom most of my growing up years. I don’t know how she did it. What I found the hardest about last week was not having anyone over 4 feet tall to talk to. It gets lonely. I can’t imagine facing that everyday. Just trying to make decisions by yourself, has to be very difficult.

Being a single mom is not, of course, how God designed it to be. However, there are many women who find themselves in this situation for one reason or another. I have a great respect for them. Not just because I had to spend three days parenting my kids alone, but just in general. I often think to myself how I don’t know if I could ever be a single mom, but I know God gives you the grace to handle things like that as they come. I know so many great moms who successfully raised kids alone. My mom and my grandmother are two great examples. I just wanted to give a pat on the back to single mom’s today and tell them that they are doing a great job. If you know a single mom, let her know what a great job she is doing and see what you can do today to support her. We should be mindful of those moms around us who need help. I know they could use a night off at times or maybe something done around their house. Just to let them know you are praying for them and that you care, would be wonderful.

There were many people who came along side my mom and I when I was younger. They were there in good times and in the hardest times. They gave of time and resources to help out when they saw a need. As the child of a single mom, I can say that those people made a big difference in our lives. You can be that person who makes the difference in the life of a single mom and her children. Pray about who God might have you support today.

Below is Glenn, me, and some of our kids and my mom in the scooter at Disney. She is going to love me for posting this picture! Love you mom!