Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yard Saleing; 101

I'm so excited that it's yard sale season again.    I don't know if I've talked about it here before, but I'm quite the bargain hunter and I love yard sales.   I usually can't and won't pay full price for something.    And once you've gotten things for next to nothing at yard sales, it's even harder to see the full price at retail stores.   So, for any of you, who may feel intimidated by this past time that I love so much, I have decided to share with you the joy of yard sale-ing.    I hope that as you journey with me, you will learn how to get better bargains,  find what you're really looking for, and find new ways of enjoying this part of the summertime!

Now, let me just give a disclaimer before I begin - this is in no way to brag about my finds.   Just simply to share how fun it really can be to grab your coffee and biscuit and go on your merry way. And don't be surprised if you hear me whisper a prayer along the way to lead me in the right direction!

Last Saturday I participated in a yard sale with my friend Whitney and so I didn't go last week. And now that we have a little soccer player, my schedule looks a little different than last summer.   However, no matter what time of Sat. morning it is, the principals remain the same. 
Here are my 7 principals that always seem to help me!

1.   Always start with a prayer - I'm serious y'all!   I always just say, "Lord, you know our needs, so I pray that you would show me where to go."   And He truly does.   Sometimes, I find exactly what I went out to get, and sometimes, like yesterday, I get surprised by things that I've needed or wanted for a while, but just haven't been able to get.   And sometimes, I don't find anything - but not often.  =)

2.    Decide on a budget (preferably a cash budget, but I have been known to write a check once or twice!)

3.   Look for the signs!    Even if it's not in the paper, keep your eyes peeled for the neon signs, and they'll lead you all the way there!    I tend to not be a "map it all out" kind of a girl anyway, but if you are, than get yourself a paper, and go at it!    I tend to just drive around to well traveled roads, and look for signs.

4.    Keep an open mind.   Don't be so set on finding one thing, that you don't see what's behind that ugly stuffed animal - it could be a Mikasa French White pitcher that will be awesome for iced tea this summer (or for flowers on a table anytime) for $1!

5.   Always check and see what's there!  You don't have to stay long, but it's good to walk all the way up to just check and see what's hiding on the table of mismatched china.    (I've even been known to do the occasional drive by and slowly scan over the yard merchandise to see if any of it's of interest.  How tacky am I?!)

6.   Don't be afraid to barter!!!    If they say $5, ask if they'll take $3.   If they say no, no big deal, but 9 times out of 10, they'll take a lower offer.   After all, they're the ones trying to get rid of their stuff (their junk!) and they want it gone!!!!   Also, another trick is that if you want to pay less per item, buy a couple of things, and then offer one price for everything.

7.   Don't be afraid to show how much you like something!    When people see how much you love something, they WANT it to go home with you.   Chances are, they loved it once upon a time, too, so they're glad to see it go to a good home.    Also, if you love it, they're more likely to go down on the price for you.

This week, I started out with $15.   Coming home from the soccer game, we hit a few spots, and boy did we find some steals!

This is me with this week's goods!

River has started to pick things out for herself, and was on the hunt for some new flip flops, but instead we found a couple shirts, a cute dress for the Fall, and 2 pairs of brand new shoes all for $2.   She also got some baby doll clothes and blankets as freebies, but they didn't make the picture.

I wasn't looking for any, but when I saw this great fabric, I just had to ask how much.   She was set on $2 a panel, but for lined 84" panels, so would I!   So, I looked around, and we got the before-mentioned clothes for River, and the drapes, all for $5.    (The clothes had been price at $1 each, but instead, she sold the dress and 2 shirts for $1 because of getting the drapes, too.)

The vacuum was less than a year old, worked great, the seller was moving, and already had another one, and the clincher...was only $3!   (ours Hoover is very old, and we bought it used, so it needed to be replaced.)    

Now for my favorite find of the weekend -

How can you not love a like new, tailored black pea coat for $2!!!    I also got a really cute pink J.Crew French Terry hooded sweat shirt from this same lady for $2.   

So there ya go.  I still had $2 left from my budget, and returned home very happy with new (or new to me) goods!    Hope you'll turn in next week, to see what else you could find!    See you at the sales!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Free Falling

I'm not really afraid of heights.   But one time, I did a high ropes course.   I thought that it would be fun, and a pretty easy thing to do.    Once I got hooked up and all geared up on the ropes, I began to step out onto the rope.   As I stepped out, my legs wouldn't stop shaking.   I mean, like you could see them shaking and moving the rope under them.   I really wanted it to stop shaking so that I could walk out onto the rope.  Because I knew that I couldn't really walk on the rope while my legs were shaking profusely.   Could I?

As I stood there, rope before me, 50 feet in the air, and people below, waiting their turn, I knew the only choice I had was to walk out onto the rope.   So, very hesitantly, with legs still going crazy, I began to step out.  One foot in front of the other, until I was across the first leg of my journey.

If you've done a ropes course before, you probably know that you are not just up there, without anything.   I was strapped in, and had a vest that went through my legs, and around my chest that was hooked with huge strong ropes to the beam above me.   If I had slipped, and fallen off the rope, I wouldn't have fallen all the way to the ground.   I would have just slipped off the rope, and then hung by the vest and ropes, for a few seconds until I was lowered down.   But for me to fall was not an option.   I was scared to death of falling.   My mind knew that I wouldn't have gotten hurt, but I still was completely afraid of the thought of falling.

My life has kind of felt like a free fall lately.   Knowing that I needed to step out in faith, but also not knowing what the course might really be like, once I got out there.   I wasn't really afraid in the beginning to step out, but now that I'm on the course, I've had pretty shaky legs.   Partly because things haven't gone as smoothly as I thought they might have.  And partly because whenever you are walking by faith it feels very intense, and sometimes pretty scary.  

I continued on the ropes course, little by little, step by step.    I got to the end of the course, and came to the place where you're supposed to jump out and reach for this bar to grab onto, and then free fall, and then just hang there.   And, I'm standing there looking off the ledge, like, "Yeah, right!!   I mean, if it was that hard to walk on the ropes, how in the world am I just gonna jump.  Why did I even do this stupid course in the first place??!!"    And I just remember the Father saying to me, "Don't you know, I won't let you fall?"  "Don't you trust me to catch you?"

And even though I was still completely scared, I knew that I had to jump.   I knew that I had to trust Him.   Why was it so hard, though?   I knew in my mind that I would be fine.  It was convincing my heart to let go and trust.

Even though it was a silly little ropes course, I learned how hard it is for me to trust the Lord to be there for me.    And today, I'm thankful that I jumped and saw that He really will catch me.  He really does have me in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Mind is on the Brink

I'm so tired.   This has been a long week.   And an especially long weekend.    Usually I don't want to gripe on the blog, you know, and sound like a downer.   But tonight as we were hosting a small gathering of people at our house, we ended up talking with a couple who is about to have their first baby.    They were saying how they are really wanting to soak up these last few Saturdays of sleeping in, and getting full nights rest.   And when I think about it, that's really the only thing that I truly miss about the days before parenthood.    I mean, sure it's fun to go out on a whim, and even late at night if you want, and not have to plan for a sitter.   But, realistically, that didn't happen all that much anyway.   And, we do fun things now as a family that I value a ton.   But the sleep....I miss the sleep.     

If I'm completely honest, I can't blame my lack of sleep from the last few nights solely on my children.   There are plenty of other things that have kept me up late (projects, cleaning, etc.)   So part of it is my own fault for just doing too much.     And part of it is feeling totally emotionally overwhelmed right now, too.     Wanting to trust the Lord in the midst of chaos, but really struggling to know how to do that.     I know that I can choose to rest in Him, despite the unknown, and despite feeling like things are falling apart around me.   But to even choose rest feels draining.    Isn't that an oxymoron.   I feel like an oxymoron.     Especially the moron part.   Ok, now I'm just getting to my punchy stage, so I'll spare you any more stupid puns.

Thanks, blog world, for being a safe place to vent, even when I'm grumpy and soooo tired.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Have I Told You Lately That I Love Him?

Have I told you lately how much I love my husband? He's wonderful. He comes home from a hard days work, and what he wants to do more than anything is to be with me and the two little ones. He loves finding out what it is that I like, and then helping me to have that - whether it's making something, or rearranging furniture until 1am (which we did not do tonight), or making me a cup of hot tea to help me wind down at the end of the day. He loves to love me. And he loves me well. And I could not be more grateful.

I remember telling my dad about him when we were seriously dating. I said to my dad, "He really loves me a lot." And it was like this newfound understanding of being loved by someone the way God intends us to be loved by our husbands. The way that he continually lays down his life day after day to show me selfless and sacrificial love, is something that is truly a gift from God. I know that he's not perfect, and he does track mud through the house sometimes (haha). But he has always shown me what it means for "Husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." I never really understood what that kind of love would look like from a husband until I knew him.

He's the reason you get to hear all these fun songs now. He knew that I would never spend the time to figure out how to get a "play list" on my blog, but he also knows how much I love music. So, he spent some minutes sitting down at the computer, fiddling around until he figured it out. Then he showed me how to do it (because you know, I'm an imbecile when it comes to these things), and now you know why I'm still up. But there's a lot of music. I've only picked out 66 of my 100 songs, but I figure I better hit the hay.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hope of a Life Spent with You

Something that has always been hard for me to understand is why some people seem to have more hardships than others.  This is not a proven philosophy or anything, it just seems common that people that have experienced loss or grief, seem to have more loss and grief than others.    You’d think that tragedy would even itself out a little more - you know, a little to everyone; to share the loss between all of humanity.   

I used to get really upset that life wasn’t fair.  I would shout to my mom in a moment of anger, “That’s not fair!”  and she would calmly reply, “Sweetie, life’s not fair.”  Which would only upset me more, really.   I think my usual response was a heartfelt cry of, “WHY???”   To which she would say, “It’s just not.”   Why isn’t it?   Why do some people lose their parents at such an early age and never grow up knowing them?   Why do we have disease infect the youngest of children who have no ability to comprehend what is happening to their body?   Why do people die by the second from hunger and malnourishment all around the world?   Why do some people choose to abandon their own family, and refuse to have any relationship with them whatsoever?    And as you well know, the list goes on forever.

We went to a memorial service yesterday of a baby girl who had Trisomy 18 (a genetic disorder where you have too many of the 18th chromosome), and only lived for 22 hours.   As we listened to our friend share about his precious daughter, I couldn’t help but wonder why.    Why had God allowed this family to have this happen, especially with the other struggles of loss that they have already faced?  But what amazed me, was that he wasn’t asking why.   Rather, he chose to say how faithful God had been through all of this.  How he’d been blessed to know his little girl for as long as he had.  How through believing God’s truth, he’s been able to fight off the lies that would tell him, “God doesn’t care about you”, and, “This is all there is, she’s dead now, and that’s it.”   He talked about how he knew that Hope was more alive now than any of us sitting in that room.   He chose to continue to praise God, not for the situation at hand, but because He is still worthy of our praise.

But that choice doesn’t come easy.   It’s a choice to lay down our own bitterness and anger.  A choice to surrender our plan for how things would go.   A choice to allow God to be a part of our lives, even when tragedy and loss surround us.   A choice for life.

We sang “Here I am to Worship” during the service, and as tears rolled down my face, I remembered how hard it was to sing songs of worship and praise soon after my mom had died of brain cancer.   I remember not wanting to sing at first, even though I knew the words were still true.   I didn’t want to say that God was good and that He was faithful.  But just because my mom died, it didn’t mean that God’s character had changed.   It just made it harder to understand His plan.    It didn’t make His plans bad for me, even though the situation at hand was very bad.    I had to surrender my own hurt to be able to offer Him my praise.   And it was so hard.    It was the hardest choice I ever made.   And I had to make it many days, through many tears.  But I knew that choosing to praise Him in the midst of it, was the only way that I would be able to know peace.

I think I thought that if I said, “God is good.   He still loves me.   He still is working, and has good plans for me,”  that I would be saying that it was ok to lose my mom.    That I didn’t mind having her die.    But really, it wasn’t saying that at all.   I think that inviting God into my grief allowed me even more to see how much I was hurting, and how He was hurting with me.   That he hated it as much as I did.   That it made Him sad too, and that it was ok to say that it really sucked.    He knew that it did.    He grieved with me.   And still does.

Today’s the anniversary of losing my brother in law 2 years ago, and again today, I am faced with sadness of him being gone.   At how much I wish he was at the soccer games with his boys.  Or building the tree house in their yard.  Or see the look on his face when his wife told him how she got into nursing school, just like he knew she would.  But, just like our friends, I am choosing to believe that we will see him again.  That he does live on, and that he is more alive than even we are.  It’s that hope, of a life spent not only here, but with Him.   And I’m so glad that we have that offer, too.

“Death has no more dominion over that He lives, He lives unto God.  Likewise consider yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive to God.”  Romans 6:9-11 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quick & Easy?

A friend of mine and I were at Target yesterday, and as we were checking out, she noticed the "Five Ingredient Meal" magazine.     I think that I have this disbelief that things that only have a couple ingredients, are ok, but not really THAT good.    But, I think that's just because I don't really have a lot of recipes like that.   I didn't have time to look through the magazine and see what they had, but it made me think about how nice it is to only have a couple ingredients and still have really yummy dishes!   So, blog world, what's your favorite quick and easy meal?   I'm home this weekend, and I'd love to have a new meal for my family to enjoy!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

You Know What's Grosser Than Gross?

Do you remember when kids use to say, "You know what's grosser than gross?"  and then they'd proceed to tell you something extremely disgusting that you could only think of if you were trying to dig in the nastiest garbage pail of their mind and make something up to make you want to throw up?     How much of a competition it was?    And what about the whole Garbage Pail Kids collection cards?  How you tried to get the nastiest kid, and then show it to all your friends.  I collected those babies!  Yeah, remember those?   I know you've been wanting to repress them, but no more.    Now you may be thinking, that my last blog was pretty disgusting, with all the throw up talk.   And I'm sure that now I've officially lost several readers for using the phrase "throw up" an exorbitant amount over the last 2 posts.   Well, I'll get on with it.

I've been ignoring it, and it's been growing nastier.   The backseat of my car has been absolutely disgusting for the last few days.   Ok, weeks.     I finally decided to try to get some of the crap up.   Not out of choice.  Because I couldn't find the remote control that goes with the DVD player in the backseat to turn on the movie.   So, still haven't found the remote, but here's my list.   And I bet the backseat of my car is grosser than yours - by a long shot.

an old juice box carton
banana peel
the end of the banana
my coffee thermos (still filled with old nasty coffee)
pine cone (I was hoping to make a bird feeder - that never happened)
container with old cheese from a Handi Snack
hundreds of craisins, raisins, cheerios, and other crumb assortment
granola bar 1/2 way eaten
cream cheese container leftover from panera (yes the day we went when asher threw up)
an "emission" container (that thankfully did not have to be used)
consignment sale tag with huge safety pin attached
a frog bath toy
coloring book
baby doll bib
hair clips with hair stuck in them
paper bag
plastic bag
Etcha Sketch
plastic sand rake
car tray
note pad
bag of wipes
used wipes (for hands thankfully)
random paper trash/receipts
jar of peanut butter
water bottle
stale pretzels
lawn chair
diaper backpack
pair of dirty socks
mixing bowl
bendy straw
used juice box straw
1/2 eaten Harris Teeter free cookie
old preschool project of River's

I have no idea how I fit the kids in.