December 23, 2013


This isn't really the right platform for this, but I am not sure how to get this out there.

I want to thank all of you (pastors and saints) that have thought of OTHERS this holiday season.  You have been a blessing to someone you knew, or perhaps a stranger and while you may feel like it went unnoticed or unappreciated, know that for this OTHER, it has made a tremendous difference.

Maybe you are someone who does things anonymously, you don't need or want the public appreciation--I get that.  Maybe you did something nice for someone and there is NO WAY you will ever get a thank you for it, but don't let either of those things stop you from thinking of OTHERS.

I am an "other".  My family are "others".  And you have thought of us.  You have blessed us!

Thank you for your friendship, your support and LOVE.  Thank you for putting OTHERS on your Christmas list, on your prayer list and yes, even your friends list.

One of my personal goals or resolutions for 2014 is to think of OTHERS more.  I want to be a blessing to more people this year than ever have.  I want to think of OTHERS the way you have thought of me/us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!  May this season be filled with love and happiness!  And may you always continue to think of others.   Thank you for inspiring me!!


An other


December 17, 2013

The Road to Jesus

A person's Christian walk is often referred to as a journey or path.  And our ultimate destination is heaven.  We all want to go.  We are all marching toward that great reward.

Although there is a promise of heaven, there was also a promise of a Messiah.  Many people came from far and near to see this little baby that was born to save us. How could this be?  Really, a Messiah that is wrapped in swaddling clothes?  This, they had to see!

The wise men took one of the most famous journeys to Jesus. Their efforts are somewhat documented in the pages of history, but I sincerely doubt the real truth was published.

If their road trip is anything like our road trips, they stopped every one and a half hours so someone could "potty".  Chances are the mommas along the journey ran out of entertainment for the kids about 30 minutes into the trip and all the snacks she had so carefully packed were devoured by the time they had crossed the first state line.

Considering the fact that their "vehicle" was an animal, I am sure there were emergency stops for refueling, "tire changes" and possibly even a complete break down depending on the conditions of the travel and the roads.

Ironically, our journey to Jesus is much the same way.  A never ending "road trip" to the one who not only created this earth we traverse, but waits patiently as we run this race.  We have hang ups.  Mistakes.  Struggles.  Potholes of life that seem to veer us off the path.  We don't intend to stop and stay so long at that travel station, but they had a mini-mall inside!!!

The road to Jesus is not always smooth.  Sometimes we go through things that do not make sense.  Snow storms in the middle of the desert?  Yes.  In the smack middle of the desert, we have had to pull over to wait out a blizzard.  That doesn't make sense.  We did not not want our journey to be delayed, but it was.  The very next morning, we got up and continued along the way.  You can't let a little storm keep you stuck on the side of the road.  You MUST get back on the road and keep moving!

Another interesting thing about the wise men's journey to Jesus was that when they left, they went a different way.  After witnessing this miracle, they were changed.  They didn't want to travel down that same road again.  They forged a new path. A better path.

As you celebrate this season and think on Him, and while you walk this road, remember that it is OK to have car trouble, but make sure you get it into the station to be looked out.  Don't forget to fill up your tank when you are running low and make sure you keep traveling until you reach your destination.

Wishing you all a Merry and Miraculous Christmas Season!

December 5, 2013

Star of Wonder--Christmas Album Giveaway!!

There is this girl I know…

Actually, she is one of three sisters that I claim (whether they like it or not) and boy oh boy is she a talented gal!

I knew she could sing.  I knew she could sing really well…but when I heard her latest Christmas album, I actually got CHILLS.  

So, I wanted to share the love and the spirit of this season by doing a GIVEAWAY!  Yes, you, my dear reader can WIN your very own copy of this album!

First, I'd like to introduce you to the soloist…my amazing and talented sister/friend, Denice:
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

Denice, thanks for agreeing to this interview!  I am so excited for you and PROUD!  

SWRB: What's your favorite style of music?
DL: I have a few favorite styles: I love gospel, jazz, and classical. I like a few other styles, but those would be my favorites.

SWRB: Who was/is your biggest musical influence?
DL: I don't have one in particular. I try to learn techniques from many, many different artists. Female artists inspire me vocally, male artists usually inspire me musically.

SWRB: How long have you been singing?
DL: Pretty much my entire life, since I was probably about 4 or 5 years old as far as I can remember. Any earlier than that would have to be verified by my parents. 

SWRB: What musical instruments do you play?
DL: Just the piano. And the recorder. I'm awesome on the recorder. I'd LOVE to learn how to play violin and flute.

SWRB: Is there an instrument you would love to learn how to play?
DL: Yes! Violin and flute. ;) Cello would be pretty cool, too. And guitar, acoustic and electric. And bass. Lofty goals, I know...

SWRB: Have you always dreamed of recording?
DL: Yes, probably since I was a teenager. Don't know why I didn't try to make it happen sooner, but timing is everything -- guess it just finally got to be the right time!

SWRB: What's your favorite part of recording this album?
DL: The actual recording of it -- studio time is so much fun! I also LOVED hearing how the music turned out before we started recording vocals. I have an amazing producer at Flyway Records who is exceptionally musically talented. Justin Hogue is crazy brilliant at arranging songs. Hearing what he did with these very old carols was so inspiring!

SWRB: Is there a funny or interesting story you can share about the recording of this album?
DL: Interesting factoid 1: The first and only bathroom selfie I took (and ever will take) was with my sisters styling me for the photo shoot for the cover artwork. 
Interesting factoid 2: It's hard to blow glitter out of your hands and smile at the same time.
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

SWRB: Do you have future projects planned we can look forward to?
DL: Yes! Please check on my Facebook page for details about an upcoming project involving a full-length album that is not holiday-related. Well, there may be something in there about Arbor Day or something. ;)

SWRB: Do you have any advice for hopeful recording artists?
DL: JUST DO IT. Can't, never could until you tried. 

SWRB: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
DL: I adore your blog. I adore you. You are amazing. But that's not sharing, because everyone already knows that. 
I would like to share that I have a few social media outlets through which I share my thoughts and project details -- all my handles are @DeniceLanides for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I'd also like to share that I am quite fond of chocolate, dark or milk. 

Last thing I  would like to share: if your sisters know how to style and photograph and blog about you, they are some of your best resources ever. Not only do you get to look good, but you get to have a ton of fun taking pictures and spreading the word about your work!

 SWRB: Denice, I know your real sisters are as crazy about you as I am and they did a great job with styling and photography for your album!  You can follow her older sister Deanna on her photography blog: Deanna Rose Photography.  And you can follow her younger sister (the stylist!) on her style blog: Pretty is This.
All Photography courtesy of Deanna Rose Photography

Now, here's your chance to WIN a copy of this album!  All you have to do is comment below!! I will randomly draw a winner on Friday, December 13th!

Would you like to hear a little sample of what you will win?  If you just can't wait to win it--you can BUY IT NOW!


November 25, 2013

New Boots--Thanks a lot!

I wore them to church last night…and they are fabulous!  Like real cowgirl boots and yes, they are red. But really, more of a cranberry red, so I am calling them my "more grown up red boots".

I will try to get a good shot of them this week and post pics, because I KNOW you are all dying to see them.

Trent preached a really great message last night.  Miracles Along The Way.  Reminded me of this post.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, it is EASY to stop and think about what we are thankful for.  We are bombarded with the word "THANKS" everywhere we go.  And despite the jolly fat guy and all the lights that try to barge in on this holiday, I really am MORE aware of how thankful I am.

I sigh more during this time of year.  You know, that contented sigh…like when you take the first sip of morning coffee…but I sigh throughout the whole day.  Not because I am frustrated, but because I am content.   I don't have the biggest, the best or the brightest, but I have enough.

I also say "Thank you, Jesus" more often.  Just…because.  I climb in the truck and sit down and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I clean my dishes and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I pick up the toys (again!!!) and say "Thank you, Jesus".  I am thankful.  I don't want to take things for granted.  Even the little things…even the annoying things.  I am alive.  I am healthy.  My family is healthy.  We serve a great big God who is continuously pouring out his blessings on a daily basis…and we get miracles along the way.  

Yes, I am thankful.

PS:  Special thanks to Trent Gilliam for the new boots.  It was time.


November 20, 2013


The older I get, the more fixated I become on the provisions of God.  I suppose most Christians come to this realization that the older they get the more obvious His hand is in their daily life.  And, apparently, I am getting older because I am obsessed with how AWESOME God is and how perfectly He provides.

Trent preached a message the other night and referenced the 23rd Psalm.  Now, we have ALL heard the 23rd Psalm a million times, if one…but something about it this time just struck me differently.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He MAKETH me.  Maketh me?  He MAKES me lie down?  That struck me funny. I've always been taught that God is a gentleman.  He doesn't MAKE us do anything…but here, He is MAKING me lie down…  Where?  In green pastures.  Hmmm… 

After Trent read that part of the text, I admittedly checked out of the sermon for a bit…this was bugging me.  Why would God MAKE me lie down…and what is so significant of green pastures?

So, I started digesting this…green pastures…what does it take to make a pasture green?  Well, it takes water, sunlight and good soil (nutrients).  The basic necessities of life.  Oh, He MAKES me lie down (rest) *IN* the basic building blocks of LIFE.

Well, this got me pretty excited!  You mean, God makes me rest in the basic provisions of LIFE?  Everything I need to live, he provides and I can REST in that?  

I nearly took a victory lap!  I don't have to worry about the necessities…He's got that covered.  I can REST in that.

Well, after church, on our way to Oklahoma, I asked Trent about what I had read and he let me borrow his study program and I found something that had me nearly shouting in the truck.  Check this out in Barnes Notes (italics are mine):

The idea is that of calmness and repose, as suggested by the image of flocks " lying down on the grass." But this is not the only idea. It is that of flocks that lie down on the grass " fully fed" or " satisfied," their wants being completely supplied. The exact point of contemplation in the mind of the poet, I apprehend, is that of a flock in young and luxuriant grass, surrounded by abundance, and, having satisfied their wants, lying down amidst this luxuriance with calm contentment. It is not merely a flock enjoying repose; it is a flock whose wants are supplied, lying down in the midst of abundance. Applied to the psalmist himself, or to the people of God generally, the idea is, that the wants of the soul are met and satisfied, and that, in the full enjoyment of this, there is the conviction of abundance - the repose of the soul at present satisfied, and feeling that in such abundance want will always be unknown.

So, the next time you are praying for something you "need".  I challenge you to ask yourself:  "Is this something I need to LIVE?"  If the answer is yes, stop worrying about it.  You can REST in the security that He will PROVIDE it.  And in THIS abundance of needs being met, we will never have to WANT for anything.  He supplies it all.

I am so thankful to serve a God that gives me peace and rest in my daily needs.  I don't have to worry or mentally wrestle how I am going to provide for my kids.  I can rest and trust the SHEPHERD to supply those needs and rest in this provision.


August 21, 2013

Blame it on the rain

Being from the South, I am no stranger to rain. Thunder storms and lighting do not frighten me. Tornadoes are just "one of the seasons" I have endured as a child growing up, so I am no stranger to inclement weather.

Typhoon season is another matter all together. Whoa Nelly. That is some serious rain fall. Buckets and barrels full. Thankfully, the school is on higher ground, so we have not had any street flooding here, although there has been some flooding in the dorms and some of the homes here on the compound.

Parts of Manila are closed entirely and many streets are flooded with water that is chest high. Some of the pastors who have been affected by the flooding have been parking their cars here at the school.

Sunday night, the students returned after their weekend away to lots of rain. The girls had a clogged drain and had to bail water for a while to spare their dorm room until someone got the drain unclogged. I was so impressed with their attitudes and spirits. Such happy kids! Trent had asked me to go down and check on the girls and see how bad the water was. I walked into a very happy chaos!! The girls were bailing, sweeping, singing and laughing as though it were a party and not a potential flood! Their song? "Victory is mine"!! I have never wanted more to be a Filipina than in that moment. I want to be happy like that!! I want true joy in the midst of trouble. Oh God, please help my heart learn to trust you even when I am bailing out the flood waters of life!!!

There is no doubt that these kids are inspirations to me. They help me see things more clearly and realize that through it ALL, I really can have faith and trust God to move and provide--in every situation.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

August 14, 2013

A new meaning to the phrase...

You've heard the phrase: "hit the ground running", right?  Well, I am not sure where it came from and now that I am curious, I WILL google it, but it describes our trip thus far to a "T".

We arrived early Sunday am and Trent and Jon headed out to PARC to attend the am service.  Ella and I elected to stay home and get some rest and try to prepare ourselves for the rest of the day.  That night, was a Section 3 crusade at ACTS, so we were all ready to go for the service.

Monday, Trent and I attended the LDI Conference.  LDI stands for Leadership Development International. For the next 3 days, we had leadership training along with the Filipino brethren at the Crown Plaza Hotel.  We had such incredible teaching and encouragement from various speakers and I learned A LOT of new info and was inspired and encouraged.  Truly, a great "jump start" to this trip!!

Thursday morning, I substituted for Ma'am Flowers class.  I taught Christian Education. That afternoon, we had outreach for the upcoming crusade sponsored by Hope Center in Redding, CA and that was quite an interesting experience.  We got separated from the group and weren't sure where to go.  But never fear!!  A student was on his motorcycle and found us and we eventually were reunited with the group and all gathered at an intersection in an outdoor market for a street service.  There, the students took turns preaching and testifying.  It's great practice, experience and exposure for them!

Friday, I subbed again for Sis Flowers and taught Bible Intro.  What an experience!!  Such a great group of first year students and I could FEEL God using me to talk into their lives and what an emotional feeling that is.  I am very humbled.  Friday evening was the first night of the crusade and Pastor Bo(bo) preached an awesome message about "Today is your day!"  That night, 40 received the Holy Ghost and 17 were baptized!  The Redding group was blown away at the response and vibrancy of worship and intensity in the altars. It is NOT for the faint of heart!!!

Saturday was a "rest day" and we spent the day taking the Redding group to various sites.  We toured the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila Bay, the Embassy and Greenhills--a local shopping mall.

Sunday, we went to PARC with Lilly, while the rest of the Redding group preached out in Novaliches.  That night, was crusade night again at ACTS and we had an incredible crowd turn out!  They estimated 450+ persons in attendance!  After Pastor Bo(bo) preached, over 100 received the Holy Ghost and 11 were baptized in Jesus name!  During this crusade, Jon made a little friend who didn't speak any English, but he understood the language of "play".  They hit it off great and Jon was his "kuya" (big brother) by the end of the night!

Monday, Pastor Bo(bo) preached chapel service and we took them back to Greenhills for more shopping, then ordered pizza from Shakey's for dinner that night.

Tuesday, was spent touring MANY different locations, including the Church of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo (Muslim souvenir shopping site), the Filipino UPCI Headquarters & church.

Wednesday, the group tried again to visit Greenhills but for some reason all the stores were closed down, so they had lunch at Bacolod Chicken (the group's favorite!!!) and then Sha & Annie escorted them to Divisoria for some MORE shopping.  They barely made it back to the school by 6:30 pm for their trip to the airport, but as of this posting, they have all landed home safe and forever changed.  Trent said that the kids cried and wanted to come back soon.

There is just something about this country that captures your heart and when you leave a little piece of you is left behind and a little piece of the Philippines fills that void.

Please forgive the length and detail of this blog post.  I am not able to connect to the wireless except at the nearby mall and I am recording my thoughts in a journal so that I can share them with you all via blog.

I am super happy to be "home" here and I'm happy to have reconnected with my pinsans (cousins) and looking forward to the next several weeks.  It appears I will be doing even more teaching in the school than I had originally thought, but I am excited about this and I'm using it as an opportunity to GROW!!!  The entire school has been fighting some kind of little virus or bug, so please keep us and the students in prayer.  We have had several who have been unable to attend class so far because of this and various other ailments.  It hurts when "your kids" are sick.  We are really enjoying our time with Ma'am and Sir Flowers, they are such sweet people and we are hoping to learn quite a lot from them in the next several weeks.

Thanks to you all for your prayer and support!  We are very happy and thankful to be here!


July 17, 2013

My accidental week as a cattle rancher

It's kind of a long story...aren't all the GOOD ones, long stories?

My parents were out visiting us for a week here in California.  Ironically, the temps in OK were COOLER than the temps here in CA.  Go figure.  Prior to their leaving OK, my grandpa (my dad's dad) had fallen.  Dad and mom went to visit him in the hospital and decided to come on out anyway.  During their visit, dad would get update texts on grandpa.  It went from bad to a bit worse.  By Sunday, the day the were scheduled to fly out, the news was bad and I had decided to fly home.  My grandpa passed that evening.  I got the news during church.  There is no way to describe him accurately or appropriately via a blog.  He was a legend of a man.  A spiritual giant.  He left behind a legacy and a heritage that I am very proud to be a part of.  

Anyway, the wheels were in motion for me to be in OK.  After attending the funeral, I spent the next several days pretending to be an only child.  Wow.  That was quite a new experience for me (the oldest of three).  

So, my accidental week as a cattle rancher began almost immediately upon arrival to my parent's house Wednesday evening after the funeral.  Per his routine, dad headed to "go check on the cows" and mom and I graciously tagged along.  To our surprise, there was a baby calf!  Yippee!!!  Dad noticed that one of the pregnant cows was no longer pregnant, so it was necessary to check and make sure the calf was ok.  And the hunt began....
Calf Hunting Party!  Silly Hats are Required!
Very carefully hidden (and protected) by nature
Here's a little lesson in extreme patience...  Momma cows will hide their babies in the grass or trees to keep them safe from potential threats while they graze or hang out with the herd.  The babies will remain there, lying where they were left until the mother returns.  They will NOT move an inch.  They know that their momma will return soon.  The thing with locating a baby calf is you have to drive (we were riding my dad's Gator--like a 4-wheeler/quad) VERY VERY VERY slow, because it's possible to literally run right over top of a calf and not even know you were anywhere near it.  They remain motionless and quiet until their mother returns.  So, we spotted the mom, and watched her.  She would look in the direction she left her calf and quietly moo to it.  Then, she would act disinterested and kind of wander off.  Well, we knew the general location she had left it, because she kept glancing that way, but there was no way to know exactly where.  Eventually, she wandered off, trusting her ability to camouflage her baby from danger.  Well, now we were stumped.  So, very slowly, we creeped and inched our way in circles in the general direction the momma cow was eyeballing.  At one point, we got close enough that she started giving us the "stink eye".  We were close.  And then, I noticed something different.  The grass didn't look quite right.  There was something there!  The baby!!!  We had found it.  Well, it was laying so still and quiet, my stomach sank.  Oh no!!  It was sick or perhaps dead.  Dad reassured me it was fine.  But, I wasn't convinced.  We got closer.  It was breathing.  Whew!!  We were literally less than 2 feet from the calf now and it still hadn't moved anything more than an eyelid.  Incredible.  Dad, went over to the calf and began petting it and I just could not resist...I got over there and petted that baby as well!  It was still damp and dad guessed the baby to be about 2-3 hours old.  Highlight of my trip!!!  Well, at this point, dad really wanted to make sure that mom & baby had bonded, but he couldn't get the momma to come anywhere near the baby--probably because we were so close.  So, dad did what any sane cow rancher would do.  He tried to lift the baby and expose it out in the open, hoping the momma would come over.  To his surprise, that "little baby" weighed probably 90 lbs!  And, after getting the baby up and running about, the momma did come running.  All was well.

Crazy Tina's 90 lb baby
The next day, we saw the momma and baby with the herd.  A good sign.  But the momma got a good whiff of me and dad and kind of went loco.  I am convinced she smelled me and dad and recognized our smell from what she smelled on her baby.  She was not a happy momma.  She mooed at us and charged us!  Kind of scary and thrilling at the same time.  I nicknamed her "Crazy Tina".  (No offense to anyone named Tina....I do NOT personally know a "crazy Tina" and she was named purely out of my own wild imagination--nothing more).
Morning bath from Momma
I'm ready for my close-up!
So, here's a little spiritual parallel, I gleaned from this experience.  The Lord is like a momma cow.  He "hides" us or protects us with strict instructions to not move from where he left us.  When we do this, we are safe from the enemy.  We are protected.  We are safe.  If we decide to get up and move from the place God has us, we are subject to an attack.  If you have been called to a place, a church, or a calling, don't move until God moves you.  Stay where you are, safe in the protection and covering of God's hand.  It seems counter intuitive to just "lay there" while the enemy is swarming about, but trust that God knows how to keep you and protect you from danger.  Just as that baby calf trusts its momma to know how to keep it hidden and safe, so should we trust in God and His Word and calling.  He wants what's best for us no matter what.  And the beautiful thing is that when it's time to move, God will gently call to you and as His child, we will hear and recognize the voice and know it's safe.
This is "Cletus".  Cletus was always super curious and would venture close enough to lick my hand!


May 24, 2013

I got my TOMS tagged by this amazing artist...

Trent and I just closed out a revival. And this particular church is FULL of talented young people. Seriously, like more than the average church.

And in particular, this one gal who has this AMAZING talent. Like, really over the top amazing talent. This gal is an artist.

And just ONE of the ways she creates is by "tagging" shoes. And by tagging, I mean making them works of art!!

Well, she and I begin a little convo via text. I gave her random words like: turtles, teal, leopard, subtle, tribal...and she produced THESE:
Hand Painted Turtles with Leopard print on the heels--and they are SIGNED!
Do you see that tiny little turtle in the corner?  Adorable!  

My most perfect pair of TOMS!! And, they just happen to be my first ever pair of canvas TOMS!

I have several glitter TOMS, which are perfect, but not nearly as comfortable as these are!! And now I have a ONE OF A KIND PAIR!!!

Would you love a pair of OOAK TOMS (or any other brand shoe??), this gal can make it happen!! And maybe, you have a special someone whose birthday is coming up?? Or graduation? Anniversary? Father's Day?
Stephanie Barnett--Soon to Be World Renowned Artist

She's fast and very reasonable. Contact Stephanie Barnett via Facebook TODAY! If you want to check out here work...LOOK HERE!  Get in line for your OOAK Tagged TOMS ASAP!!

April 25, 2013

My Daily Bread Seasoned with the Miracles of God

God has this way of working out stuff in my head.  He gives me this random kinda off the wall thought and then nags me about it for days and makes ME figure out what He is trying to say...  Does He do that to any of you too?

So, I've been mentally chewing on the thought of mercy and miracles. Like, how do they compare to one another, how do they compliment each other and how do you experience them...

And here's what I've come up with, so far:

Mercy.  Mercy is a place or condition we, as humans, live in EVERY SINGLE DAY.  The Bible teaches us that His mercies are NEW every morning.  Which is kind of interesting, because just as He promised the children of Israel that He would supply their daily bread in the Old Testament, He also teaches us how to pray and lets us know that God will also supply our daily bread too!!  Which leads me to believe, that our physical hunger is just as important as our spiritual sustenance.  And if God can supply my food, why couldn't He also supply the mercy and grace I need to make it from day to day?

Well, I don't know about you, but I need all the mercy I can get.  I mean, I am just a human, I mess up. I make mistakes.  I have moments (even DAYS) that I am not proud of.  But, EACH day, His mercy is new.  I get another chance.  He forgives and I can move on from that failure and start making things RIGHT.

Mercy.  A great place to live EVERY single day.

But, come on, what about the MIRACLES of God.  Now, THOSE are pretty cool, right?  But, what does it take to GET a miracle. First of all, you have to have a need.  And this need cannot be just an ordinary need.  This has to be something that only God performing a MIRACLE could produce.  And let's face it, I am guilty of saying "I need a miracle", when really all I NEED to do is get off my lazy "sit-down place" and get moving and do it MYSELF.

But there are times when God is the only one who can supply my need.  A desperate and vital moment in which a miracle is the ONLY answer.  My husband has preached on Living in the Miraculous countless times and I refer back to it many times over via my blog, Facebook and in conversations with friends.  But you see, this was truly much more than the mercy of God...this was the MIRACLES of God.  My husband literally was getting a check in the mail every day from various people or departments in the UPCI and it was JUST ENOUGH to meet that need.  I can recall the emotions of that need very vividly and that happened over 6 years ago!  I remember the desperation, the worry, the panic, the fear and the uncertainty.  We literally did not know what we were going to do.  But God did.  He had a perfect opportunity to show us His miracles.

Now, we all love to talk about the miracles of God, but let's face it, they are kind of rare and special.  I mean, if God just threw around miracles all day long, what on earth would we ever pray and seek His face over?  The real beauty and miracle of living for God is being able to live in His mercy and that be enough.  Enough....JUST ENOUGH to get you through each and every single day.

The Mercy of God and the Miracles of God DO compliment each other.  You really cannot have one without the other.  The mercy of God carries you through the day to day while the miracles of God carries us from impossibility to impossibility.  We are able to experience the mercy of God no matter what our situation in life...even if you do not serve Him, he STILL extends His mercy to you.  If He did not, no sinner would ever get to know Him and have this experience!  Yes, the mercy of God is for us ALL!  But the miracles of God, they are for His children.  Those that call him Daddy.  Those that look to him in an impossible situation and say: "I cannot fix this, I need you to help!"  And He does.  In His own perfect (although seemingly slow) timing and perfect will.

February 27, 2013

Thrift store oddities

Most of you know, I love to thrift!  I really and truly do.

Yesterday, I had some errands to run to prepare for Ladies Conference.  While I was out, I happened to be near a Goodwill that I haven't been to in a very long while.  It's small, and I figured I could swing in there and see if they had anything neat and then continue on my way.

Typically, I have a "pattern" for thrifting.  I search certain sections FIRST (always) and then, wander to the miscellaneous items after I have searched jackets, dress, skirts, shoes, bags.  However, yesterday, I did something weird. I went to the miscellaneous section first. The miscellaneous section (my term, not theirs) has everything from toys, to housewares, etc.

Well, I stumbled across a little set of pens.  24 different colored pens!  PENS!!!!  I have this thing for pens.  I love them.  I love to collect them.  I love to draw with them.  I love to doodle.  I just like to LOOK at them.  This set would have retailed for over $25, but I got it for $2.49!!

And my 2nd score from the miscellaneous section was a bit of a splurge, as I am not sure I have some place to put it....but it's a SEA TURTLE!!!!  Bob Wright signed sea turtle print for $3.49.  I googled him and a print this size would have retailed for $56!  YAY!!  Isn't it dreamy?  I am going to find some place in my bedroom to put it.  I also have an obsession with turtles, mostly sea turtles.

Admittedly, this is not a typical thrift store score or haul for me, but it made my day!

Do you like to thrift?  What have you found lately that you just LOVE?


February 21, 2013

Couponing: Keeping it Simple and Organized

I had to add this post regarding couponing.

We've all heard about the crazy extreme coupon people who have entire basements, garages and rooms in their homes designated to their "stockpile".  

What is a stockpile?  According to, STOCKPILE can be defined as:  A supply stored for future use, usually carefully accrued and maintained.

While in theory this seems like an excellent idea, it can also be just too much!  Many of these people also donate to local charities or homeless shelters (which I think is awesome!!) and since they are getting some of their stockpile for free, it's a great way to practice your couponing skills AND help your community!

But, let's be realistic...most of us do not have the room, time or patience to invest in this kind of couponing.  I know I don't!  But I am interested in saving money!

So, to get started, here are some baby steps for you:

1.  Read this post:  Poor People Tickets.
2.  Get a notebook/binder.  I happened to have a spare one lying around so, I got mine free!  :)
3.  Get some baseball card pages.  Target has them for $5.  You get 30 pages, which is plenty to get started.
4.  Read this from the Krazy Coupon Lady Site:  Beginners  This is a GREAT site in general, but a very well put together set of info for newbies.  Highly recommend!!  
5. Make different sections for your binder--I used a list I stumbled upon online, but make sure your sections meet your needs.  If you don't have a baby--chances are, you don't need a "Baby" section in your binder (unless you shop for a friend).
6. Keep it NEAT!  Make sure your binder stays organized, if you pull a coupon and don't end up using it (because it wasn't on sale--duh!!), put it BACK!  It is super easy to get a stack of pulled coupons floating around in your binder that never get used because they cannot be found.  
7. Shop when you are going to be the least distracted.  I cannot concentrate and do the math if I am chasing the kids out of the toddler aisle (or cereal aisle), so I have my hubby help me keep them busy when we are out.  I missed a savings of $2.25 the other night because I got distracted.  I was so upset about that!!  Don't let it happen to you. HAHA!!

Most of all, have fun!  Don't let this stress you out!  Let it be a blessing to you and your family as you learn to save money!  And it couldn't hurt that your brain gets a whole new level of workout with all the math you get to do!  Couponing can keep you YOUNG!  (That might be a stretch, but it can't hurt!!) 


February 20, 2013

Poor People Tickets

Yikes!  It has been over a month since my last blog.  I am not proud of that. I have been fighting some major fatigue lately and I think that MAYBE I have finally turned a corner with all that.  

So, what's been up with me lately?  Hmmm...

I started February 1 with a LOVE ME Challenge with my Facebook Weight Loss group.  So far, I've lost 7 lbs.  Now, before anyone starts cheering for me, I managed to put on like 10 lbs over the holidays with travel and what-not (this started just after I got home from Manila).  While most everything still fits, some of it was getting snug and I have Western District Ladies Conference coming up (like next week!!!)

So, like any woman would do, I began a diet and started SHOPPING for something great to wear!  If you know me, you know that this means I went THRIFTING!!!  Every great once in a while, my fellow thrifting friend and I get together for a day of thrifting.  This time, we hung out in MY backyard.  I scored a FAB pair of NEW Vintage flats for $4.99 and a Vintage St. John Sweater for $4.99.  Two great finds!  I hope to wear both to Ladies Conference.  I also PASSED on this super 80s Vintage Betsey Johnson Blazer, but I am thankful that by buddy got a shot of me wearing it!  It is actually more flattering in the photo than on the hanger.
  In the midst of all of this, I started couponing!  I am a little excited about it.  Several weeks ago, I posted a comment on Facebook regarding a prayer a saint prays over me.  In a nut shell, she prays that I find good deals and sales for me and my family.  How awesome is that?!  Well, that really really touched my heart and a new friend introduced me to the world of couponing and I figured: "Hey, I am only gonna find great deals on food and household products if I start using coupons!"  So, a couponer was born.  This is a GREAT hobby for me.  I love to shop.  LOVE IT!!!  But I HATE paying full price.  HATE IT!!!  I am a thrifter and a clearance rack junkie.  I have no shame in that, but I realize that all the money I "save" on clothes for us is WASTED on food and other things we need.  So, it only made sense to start using coupons.  My 10 year old calls them "Poor People Tickets"  which is quite hilarious but not a bad description!  HAHA!!  He is my little coupon helper and insists on being at the register for every checkout to see how good we do.  I've started a teeny tiny stockpile of some items (soap, shampoo, cases of water and cereal) and don't plan on stockpiling too much more than that, as I do still live in a 5th wheel, but I know these are products we are going to use and use fairly quickly.

Here are a few samples of what I have bought and how much I saved:

*Irish Spring Soap (Trent's soap) 3 for $9 with a $3 cash reward on next purchase (so, like 3 for $6)  Making an 8 pack of soap $2 each or each bar of soap $.25!  This will last SEVERAL months as Trent is the only one who uses this soap.

*This "haul" for $8.90:  Swiffer Dusters 16 ct, Swiffer Wet Mop Refill 12 ct, 2 Dove deodorants, VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner and Sara Lee 45 Calorie Bread!!  I had CVS cash rewards (from last week) that totaled $6, coupons and a CVS coupon. The Swiffer products were on sale and the VO5 was also on sale for $.82 each.
*I am SUPER excited about my cereal haul!  8 boxes of cereal for approx $.32 each!  WOO HOO!!!  Target had General Mills Cereals on sale for $2.50 each.  Buy 5, get a $5 Target gift card.  I had coupons for every box of cereal, I had a manufacturer coupon for $1 off of 3 AND a Target coupon for $1 off of 3 boxes.  The Froot Loops were also on sale for $2.75 each.  I had a manufacturer coupon for $1 off 3 AND a Target coupon for $1 off of 3.  With the $5 gift card and all the other coupons, it was like paying $.32 each for all this cereal.
Here is my BEST advice for those of you interested in couponing.  

*  TAKE IT SLOW!  There is no need to stockpile your cabinets overnight.
*  Pay attention and bring your coupons with you EVERY TIME you shop.
*  Do your homework!  This means clipping all those coupons and MATCHING ads BEFORE you go shopping.  I spend a couple hours on Monday doing this and shop when I am out the rest of the week.
*  Get FREE Coupons here: and  Check for additional coupons (these are the sites I look at every week).  *NOTE*  You can print multiple coupons per product on these sites.  I just keep going back and clipping them until they tell me I reached my limit.  This is great for deals like I got with the cereal.
* has coupons!  AND if you have a smart phone, you can get mobile coupons from Target.  Just add the FREE app to your phone and see what is available.  I got fruit snacks for the kiddos for $.64 on a 10 count box.  :)

For those of you that are ready to take couponing to the "next level":
*  Target will have a coupon for an item and a manufacturer will also have a coupon.  You can use BOTH!!!  I did this with the cereal (see above).
*  Ibotta is a FREE app for you smart phone users.  You get paid to buy products!  It's pretty simple to use.  Buy the item (using your coupons!!!) and then scan bar code and receipt and get cash back!  It goes to an account and you can then redeem the cash later.  Super easy to do!
*  Shop the clearance aisles at your grocery or Target/Walmart.  You can use coupons on clearance items too!  HUGE savings!!

I am by NO MEANS an expert on this, as I consider myself a "Baby Couponer", but I am a convert.  So far, my best savings per trip was 69%!  That's a lot of moolah!!!  If you have questions or comments, please leave them below.  I am VERY open to learning new tips and tricks!

The other thing that will be happening (just a few hours from now...) is that my husband is leaving for Manila.  WITHOUT ME/US!!  He will be preaching a crusade for ACTS Bible School.  I miss those kids but I am so excited for this crusade!  It is going to be awesome!  I am trying to be brave, but I know it's going to be a LONG two weeks for us and a quick two weeks for him.  Please pray for safe travels for him and for us.  I get to take the kiddos with me to Ladies Conference and even though I have a sitter for them, I am nervous about having them with me.

I have a lot of little "projects" up my sleeve to keep me busy (and out of trouble) while Trent is gone.  So, I hope to post some more in the next few weeks.  Stay Tuned!!

PS:  I have another post that is "in the works", but I kept hitting a (really negative) brick wall with it and I do NOT like to post negative stuff on my blog.  So, maybe I can work that out and have a little inspirational something for you all soon!
PS again:  I have two upcoming speaking engagements (which thrills and terrifies me) and I could use some prayers regarding that.  I tend to speak from my heart which leaves me VERY exposed and that is not an easy thing to do.  Thanks friends!! 

January 9, 2013

Worthy or Worthless

My parents used to have this dog when they lived in Claremore. His name was Worthless. This poor dog was as loyal as a stray dog could be and loved that my mom was faithful about serving table scraps. But the truth is, this dog was worthless. It laid around or chased random animals or varmints found on the ranch but never contributed to the daily chores or work needing to be done around the house. Granted, most dogs aren't generally good for much other than petting but on a ranch, if you eat you should work!!

My husband loved this dog. I am sure it's because it was such an unloveable creature. Trent has a thing for the underdog. Pun intended.

The last couple days I've been mentally wrestling with the idea of self worth. How do we define our self worth? For many of us, our self worth is found in our successes. We consider ourself valuable based on what we have achieved or are capable of doing. We find affirmation in the things we are most proud. Conversely, we struggle with inferiority and lack of self esteem based on how we compare ourselves to others around us. We cannot help it. It's human nature.

My dad used to say (and still does) that the value of something has little to do with the price that is on it. The real value (or worth) is based on what someone is willing to pay. For ex ample, some of you know that I love to go thrifting. Recently, I stumbled on a designer skirt (in my size!!!) that would have retailed for something around $800 or more. However, I paid $8 for it--used. The value or worth of this designer skirt was $800 for someone else--but only $8 to me!! Same skirt--different value.

As humans, we struggle with our own self worth. I am worth more if I make more money, drive a nicer car or wear designer clothes. I am worth more if I have a prestigious job or title. I am worth more if I am thin, talented or smart. I am worth more if my children are well behaved, if I am debt free or have great hair.

The truth is NONE of these things can determine our value. Our worth is based on what someone would pay (or invest) in us. My neighbor may not think I have much value or worth but there is one person who paid a great deal for me. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the greatest price for me. He gave everything He had in order that I might be saved. He thought I was totally worthy. And the most beautiful thing about this is that I am not the only one He died on the cross for!! He died and rose again for YOU too!!

So, the next time you look in the mirror and see something you don't like and feel like a loser and worthless, just remind yourself that YOU do not determine your value! Jesus Christ determined your value long ago and you are SO worth it!!!

Ephesians 2:8-10
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

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