Saturday, December 29, 2007

Those Blessed Strangers

There is a verse in the Bible that says God is able to give us more than we ask or think. Over at The Bargain Shopper Lady there is a story about her Christmas and how a stranger gave her and her husband a real blessing. She has challenged us bloggers to share a story of when strangers helped us and blessed us so that our stories may encourage and bless others.

I decided to share two stories of the many with you. One is on this blog and then another on my blog Meet Me In The Garden.

Many years ago when my first husband was in Seminary we were a family struggling financially. If it were not for strangers we would have not made it. Our plans were for us to marry and me work while he finished college and seminary. This would make a total of 5 years before we started a family. Three months after we married we found out I was pregnant and when the baby was born we decided that my priority was our child. When Erik was 22 months old we found out another one was on the way. We had so little money, but knew if God was sending us this blessing then He would provide. Paul was due December 5th and we had no idea how we were going to get all we needed for a new baby (we had moved from PA to IN for seminary, so we got rid of anything we were not using when we moved). To our surprise the UPS man came and brought in boxes after boxes. When we opened them we were shocked! Everything we needed for a baby plus was in there, we could have had twins there was so much. Not only was there all this for a new baby, but there was toys and items for Erik as well "so he would not feel left out". Someone who knew us organized a baby shower in NY and strangers came and brought gifts for us. We were lacking for nothing, and even saved some new things for the next child as well as gave some away.

When God says He will supply and you trust Him for your needs HE does it ways that seem impossible to us as humans. If it were not for others, and their listening to the Lord, we would never have made it through the college, seminary and small churches. I praise God for each one of these people.

For more blessing stories, go here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Laced With Grace Giveaway

Laced with Grace is starting out the New Year with a giveaway.

The package will include a Women of Faith study Bible (NIV/Hardcover); Lisa Whelchel’s Bible study tool for busy moms; a coffee mug from “Mugs of Truth“; the DVD “The Nativity Story“; the book “Love and Respect“; and a music CD by Becky Knight, who just released her first CD.

You do not need to have a blog to compete for the giveaway, just go to the site and sign up for a chance to win.

Giveaways are not only fun, but they give us all a chance to find other blogs to read as well as a chance to win some nice and useful gifts. I try to participate when I find them and then offer the chance to my readers as well.

Hope on over to Laced with Grace for full details and to sign up!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My special gift.

I know it is more blessed to give than to receive, but this year I feel so blessed by what was given to me. Yes, I had a lot of fun with my giving, I made gift baskets up of mixes in jars and had a lot of fun doing it. It was not cheap, but it sure was fun! The hunting for the grand kids was fun too.

The little ones were such a delight to see as they tried to open their presents and everyone else's as well. I sure love family gatherings!

Now, what did I receive? A trip to NC and Maine to see the kids and grand kids in those places. I am so excited!! As near as I can tell my husband was the instigator, but all the kids put in the money and made it possible. I will spend a few days in NC with one daughter and her family and then fly to Maine to see the rest of them and 13 grand kids there.

Thanks gang! I am so looking forward to the trip.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Friday I finally put up a Christmas tree. Here in the part of Texas we are in Christmas trees (real ones) are a bit hard to come by. I went one place and the cheapest was a small tree starting at $60. Another place had Charlie Brown trees from 69 to who knows what. Places that sell trees are few and far between so I was running all over. I finally gave up. I was upset, but did not have the money to spend such a fortune to get a tree (nice ones were over 100.)

I came home rather discouraged and yet decided it was not going to ruin my Christmas. A tree was not what it was all about. It was a symbol. Up in the north and Midwest you can find trees everywhere. The boy scouts sell them, all kinds of people sell them and the choices are great, and then there is the tree farms where you can get a really fresh tree and cut it yourself.

That night, when my step daughter came to get her baby, she told me they were not putting up a tree this year and I could borrow theirs if I would like. I was thrilled! I was so desperate this year I even will use an artificial tree!

Friday I put the tree up and did a bit of decorating. My granddaughter watched in awe. I put unbreakable ornaments and then candy canes. Why does every baby and dog know what is candy and what is fake?

She went to the tree and began removing the candy canes. She pulled on the long end but it would not come off the tree, she then pulled on the short end, same thing. Then she grabbed the branch and pulled it down and took the candy cane off by the hook part. Pretty smart for a 1 year old!

She and Makita then shared the candy cane(s) Scout ate them to the hook and Makita got the hook part while Scout went to hunt out another candy cane.

What fun to watch!

I hope you enjoy your kids discoveries with the tree and with all of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday or Christmas?

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it just another day for family? Do you get lost in the stress of the day? or the commercialism?

As we go shopping there is little mention of Christmas, let alone the Christ of Christmas. It is "holiday" this and "holiday" that. A holiday tree? Holiday ornaments?

This is Christmas. Celebration of Christ's birth. We are the reason He came to earth. The reason He limited himself by coming as a human, and yet we are now denying Him in our country and around the world.

As I watch even Christian families prepare for Christmas, they are caught up in the materialism, the business and the commercialism of it all.

Why don't we all rest and have the Peace HE brought to us and celebrate what He has done. He came to die for us, let's proclaim Him this Christmas. When faced with a "Happy Holiday" reply with a "Merry Christmas"!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Order

Today at Rocks in my Dryer it is a Christmas works for me Wednesday.

Christmas comes faster every year I think. I keep wondering what is happening to the days of the year and who is stealing them. There has to be fewer days each year with as fast as they are coming and going!

For my Christmas planning I care for my presents in order. First, I get all the ones that have to be sent in the mail. I wrap them and then categorize them by families. When I have one for everyone in the family I then seal the box and mail it out. I expect them to wait until Christmas to open them, but I know that is just too hard for some and they open them early. (Jessica!)

After I have all them done and mailed I then get the ones that are local ready. If I have purchased them along the way, they are set in a different place so as not to get mixed up with the ones that get mailed.

Right now, I have all my mailing out, but I have not even wrapped or put together the ones that are local. I think I will make it though!

My Christmas dinner is going to be simple, I hope. I have the meat and much of the food, and the kids will bring the rest. Should be a nice relaxing day!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Foolish Me

Sometimes I wonder about me, I think back on my life and just wonder. I was not popular in school, I always seemed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I wanted friends, had a number of them, yet was jealous of those that had more. I was not pretty, could not do my hair the way others could. My hair was curly, theirs nice and straight.

I did not get A's, in all my grades, some years I did not get A's in any. My self image was always bad, and I doubted I could do much. My fear of failure was awful and controlling.

I was made fun of by the more popular people. My last name was Weingartner, so I was called Hineygartner and other "nice" names. All this by the smart, pretty, popular people. What was wrong with me?

When I was young I felt "something" in my heart though. I wanted to be liked by them and wanted to be like them so I would be accepted. There was something that seemed to protect me from doing what the others were doing. A voice. A Power. Even when I wanted to go off and do, it would not let me go too far. Stopped in my tracks, by a voice.

Some years later, as I could see God's working in my life and His preserving me, keeping me and protecting me some verses hit me as to why. I am a fool. One of the verses that told me this was 1 Corinthians 1:26-28:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen...
Consider my calling? God chose the foolish ones, not the most popular? The base things of the world? The despised? God chose me for His service?

Verse 30 says
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."
As a fool, I can't claim anything on my own, my wisdom, all that I am comes from Him.

If I had my way back in my younger years I would have been popular, had all A's, been homecoming queen with the best looking guy in the school at my side. I would have partied and run around, been rich and did whatever I wanted.

I am glad God's ways are higher than mine and that He has chosen the foolish things for Himself.

This fool has been chosen for a purpose and as such I have the best calling, the best future and life for His glory and honor. May I trust Him to live my calling.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Frugal Granddaughter

Today's Frugal Friday post is a bit different. I like to find the best deals for the least amount of money. I do not get junk because it is cheap, but rather look for the good at a bargain. I try to save money in any way I can, yet not be a scrooge or anything.

I babysit my granddaughter and today I took her to Walmart. She is a year old and one of the things I was going to get was her birthday present. I had been looking for a rocking horse but have not been able to find one.

In Walmart we looked at the rocking horse there and it was almost $30 for this small, plastic rockered thing that had a furry fabric covering for the horse. She grabbed it and was hugging and kissing the horse. I told her we were not getting it and that was fine with her. She is so good to shop with!

We walked up and down a few isles looking. I kept showing her things and then telling her we need to put it back and look at something else. I do this in the stores with her hoping that she will not get to be a beggar, but rather enjoy it for the moment and then let it go back. She was fine with this routine through the isles until we came to a xylophone type toy. She smiled so big and played it, she held it tight. I told her it was time to put it back and look at something else and she let me have it, looked at another toy, handed the other toy back and then pointed to the xylophone! She did this all the way down that isle.

Two isles over she was still asking to go back, so I did and she wanted to see it again.

I eventually stuck it in my cart and that is what she is getting for her birthday. A kid connection xylophone! All the expensive toys and she picks one that was cheap and fun. I guess I am doing my part in influencing her!

For more frugal ideas go to Biblical Womanhood!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Allergy Relief

This is the time of year I have the most problems. Giant headaches, eyes that will not focus and it all comes with a big pain in the neck.

Living in Texas has made it worse, I can't seem to get rid of it. I wake up and it greats me , a cup of coffee helps some, but then it is all right back.

No, I am not talking about my husband, the dog or kids. It is my allergies. My face hurts, I get low grade fevers and my functioning level is close to "non".

Last year I went to several Drs., had loads of meds and even shots. I still had it until the end of July.

This year I got a humidifier and have it in my bedroom at night. It is set on high and runs about all night with no break, but I wake up with only a tiny headache if any, very little face pain, if any and my neck is only sore from my pillow.

So many people are having trouble with allergy that I would like to suggest a humidifier. I found mine at Goodwill for $10. I saw it in Walmart for over 50. It is like new, but I looked around till I found a good one, so take some time and hunt.

It works for me and I hope will help you or your child. For more works for me ideas check out Rocks in my Dryer.

Keep Praying

I wanted to pass on a quick update about Carlie. They did an EEG yesterday and she is not having seizures so they stopped that med. They said what damage has been done is done, but she will need physical therapy to help her get her balance back. We are still unsure of a prognosis at this point, but she was playing today, knows who everyone is knows she used to be able to sit up and stand, she just can't do it and will need to learn all over. She shakes really bad when she tries to do much. It is like a weakness shaking, not seizure or anything. Her head still falls off to the side sometimes as well as her eyes a little, but she is way better than on Friday or the weekend.
Keep praying!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Prayers Needed

Many of you may remember Carlie and then all the excitement after her finalization. If not, see the posts here, here and here.

Jason is still recuperating from his accident and is not working yet and then Friday Carlie began acting strange. Her head was cocked to one side and she could not hold it up, her eyes would not focus and her eyes also would go back up into her head or else off to the left. She was not playing or anything so her parents took her to the hospital emergency room.

After sitting in the emergency room all day while they ruled out sinus infection, brain tumor and a number of other things, they finally admitted her at about 8:30 Friday night. Around 10:30 they took her for an MRI and found she has Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). Her brain has 3 0r 4 large lesions on it as well as 4 smaller ones. They told the from the looks of her brain you would think she would act worse than she is. Praise God.

I would like to ask for all those praying people out there to pray for her. They were told there is brain damage, but at this point they do not know how much. According to the Drs. 50% of children with this recover with little or no visible signs of a problem, the rest have anything from a slight learning disability to major problems or MS.

Carlie is 13 months old and is so precious. Her mom is pregnant with a boy due in March. The family has had so much between the adoption in September and now, yet this miracle pregnancy is still intact. Please pray for Carlie's healing, that the damage would be minor or none and for the pregnancy with all this stress on Misty.

My posts this week may not be regular, but I will try. We will be running to the hospital to see our granddaughter as much as we can and trying to help them where needed.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bargain Books

Books, Books, Books. My husband and I both seem to collect books. I am embarrassed to tell you how many book shelves we have full; computer books, cookbooks, Bibles, study books, concordances, humor, how to, biography, craft, sewing and so forth.

We trade books on and get more at thrift stores and used book stores. Our favorite stores are the Half Price Books stores.

At Half Price Books you can find great deals on books, some even new. They have all different categories like the full price stores, but the books are used, overstock, discontinued or just bargain books. They have a clearance corner that is even cheaper. Last time we went my husband spent $6.00. He came out with 6 books, one new that was marked $150. plus others that were used or just older. We figured he had almost $400. in his hands. $6.00 spent!

Another thing they do is buy your books and give you cash for them. Sometimes they do not pay well, if they know they can't resell it for much, but sometimes there are surprises. I have heard people talking by the table where you make the exchange and was encouraged enough to give it a try our selves. We have just gone through our shelves to see what we can take down there and sell.

I also found another section in the store that had great bargains; the Children's Section! There are books, games, puzzles, crafts and toys. All are priced much cheaper than you would find anywhere else and I found myself getting some good bargains for some grand kids.

Check out Half Price Books if you can find one. Check out Biblical Womanhood for more frugal ideas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Pink Elephant and other ideas

I just realized I messed up on todays topic. Please forgive me, this is not a quick fix for supper.

Christmas is almost here and some that are really on the ball have presents wrapped already. For those that don't I would like to make a few suggestions for wrapping and having some fun with the presents.

When my five kids were growing up we never had much money for Christmas. It was always a difficult time for us yet God always worked things out.

The kids, like most kids, would be all excited and want to know what they were getting, since we had little money we did not want to give hints.

Another thing I hate is spending money on wrapping paper and such, that just goes in the garbage immediately upon opening the present.

Here was some of the things we did to save and have fun with presents.
  • Wrap things in an unusual way, using parts of the present. My one daughter wanted a sewing machine. We could not afford new, but did find a nice, overhauled one, in a table, at a used store. We brought it home and had no idea how to wrap it. For weeks before Christmas, when she would ask or beg, we told her she was getting a pink elephant. So, I decided to give her pink fabric and I made the sewing machine look like a big pink elephant.
  • We saved our Sunday funny section and used those to wrap gifts in, saved a lot of money.
  • There is the usual towel, blanket etc for a set, used as the wrap, grab a pretty ribbon and it works looks great.
  • Trash bags will work with some gifts. White ones the kids can decorate with markers for grandparents, siblings etc.
  • One year my husband worked out a treasure hunt for one of their gifts, usually the one they wanted most.
This worked for me, but I am also interested in other ways you wrap gifts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Meet and Greet

Today is Meet and Greet Monday at The Natural Mommy and I wanted to participate with my husband. No, he is not participating knowingly, but I want people to meet him.

This was Rick the first time I met him. I went down to Jessica's in TN and he came in from TX. (OK, yes we met online!) Rick and I had talked for some time, and things seemed to be going well, but I was so nervous. Isn't he a hunk!

This was our wedding, January 8, 2005. He planned it with my kids and surprised me. I know this might not go over with most people, but with him from Texas, me from, hmm not sure where to say I am from, I guess like the commercial I am from NewPaInJerPaMeInMePaTN or something like that, but I claim ME since most of my kids are there.

His kids could not get to ME, my mom and siblings in the NJ,NY,PA and MO areas and his whole family in TX and we could not find another time for my kids to all be together. So our Christmas together as a family ended up with a surprise wedding at my daughter's home.

I know I am not smiling, but I was happy, outside of wishing he had his kids here too. He assured me he had talked to them all and it was ok with them since we would be living in Texas.

Rick, the proud grampa. When he married me he automatically became grampa to 11 grandchildren. He was so proud of that fact. However in the almost three years since we married we have added six more! Here is is with Carlie when her mom and dad showed up at Rick's work. I think I might me in trouble when he sees this picture! He was working hard and so he looks a bit like , ahhhh, like he was physically working hard.

Here is Rick as a proud step father of the bride.

I hope you enjoyed my husband. I love him to bits and am very proud of him.

For pictures of special people, go to The Natural Mommy.