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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yesterday's Headline News....


When I go to turn on the news in the evening, I am looking to see what is going on in my community or the world, maybe catch the weather report, hear what the candidate's have to say about the upcoming elections, etc.... But yesterday all day was BREAKING NEWS!!!(ok slight exaggeration, but only slight) Starbucks was to be closed for three whole hours!!
What would the world(or at least us here in the good ol' US of A do without our beloved Starbucks for a WHOLE three hours???
The reason for this breaking news causing our world to come to a near standstill for three hours?? Training...!!???
OK, sure I suppose these people need to learn how to properly prepare coffee, but is this really "Breaking News?" Come on, give me a break!!
Don't get me wrong, I am known to occasionally splurge and treat myself to a Starbucks Green Tea Frapichino(sorry, don't buy it enough to know how to spell it), BUT, I think this whole hoopla over them being closed and the importance of training and all is just ridiculous.
What if everyone that would have spent five dollars there yesterday gave that money to a charity?? Now, that would be news worth hearing about!!
Five bucks doesn't seem like alot, but I bet ALOT of people didn't buy coffee during that time they normally would, and I think everybody's five bucks combined could make a world of difference. Actually there are organizations that do alot with just five bucks. Check out Five for 50
So maybe if you missed out on buying your coffee yesterday, you would consider checking out the above link and using that five bucks for something really news worthy?? I wonder if they use fair trade coffee?

Monday, February 25, 2008

More To Balance...

I first named this blog My Balancing Act as I always feel as I am trying to balance so many aspects of my life. Now there is soon to be yet one more thing to add to that long list; Foster Parent.

What started off as a strong desire to adopt from China has slowly turned into a call perhaps, to foster here in the US. It is a rather long story that perhaps I will share in greater detail another time.

We are just starting this journey and have a ways to go until we actually have a child placed in our home. We are taking our first step in this journey next week when we attend an orientation meeting with the agency we are considering.

While we wait for training classes and such we are busy trying to take care of things around here that we know will need to be "fixed" before we can get approved. Safety gates for the fire places, woodburner, stairs etc... locks for the medicine cabinets, locked gun cabinet etc... Plus we need to find an extra bed and dressers for the room we are setting up. We are hoping to have one full time placement and also keep a bed and or crib open for respite or emergency care.

I still keep trying to talk myself out of this every so often, but I can only find reasons WHY we should do this rather than why NOT. Suprisingly even my husband keeps counteracting my "what-if's," with "we must's."

We are experiencing such an array of feelings ranging from joy to fear to excitement, to fear, and did I mention fear??? But honestly it is mostly excitment and joy.

There is so much attention and focus on orphans and needy children in Africa, China, and other countries and so little attention to the great need here in the USA. There are so many children that for whatever reason can't be with their own families and yet still need to be allowed to just be kids and be loved and cherished and appreciated regardless of what their parents are going through. From what I am learning there seems to be quite a few more children in need of care than there are families to care for them. It just breaks my heart.

Many if not most of these kids are in need of care due to abuse or neglect and therefore have some emotional scars as a result. Sadly these scars often appear as behavior problems that scare many potential families from even trying to reach out. My question that I kept asking myself(as I had/HAVE those same thoughts) is if we don't try who will? If they aren't given the opportunity to see and experience something different, how will they know there is something different out there?

My own life is far from perfect, but quite comfortable right now. Years ago we were in the trenches raising a very emotionally disturbed child, life was anything but comfortable. So there is a huge selfish part of me that does not want to give up my comfort and risk putting myself or family in those trenches again. But sometimes I truly think if we're too comfortable, somethings out of balance! Doing the right thing, making a difference, helping another usually is anything but comfortable. The things that make the biggest difference usually mean having to sacrafice something whether it be your comfort, you money, your time, whatever you may hold most precious.

While we go through the process to get certifed/licensed and await that first placement I am not content to just sit and do nothing. I have found so many ways to still reach out and help either the children themselves or those that care for them. I will post more on that in the next day or two. There are so many ways you can make a difference without having to actually foster a child, including projects your children may enjoy, like making Easter Baskets!! Check back in a day or two and I will have more ideas!!

Meanwhile those of you that feel led, please pray for me and my family as we have many material needs that need to be met rather quickly as we get ready, as well as we need MUCH emotional support as this is a BIG change and step for all of us!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If What Gandhi Says Is True....

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
- Mahatma Gandhi

Then, Boy!! Is our nation in trouble:

WARNING!! This is rather graphic....


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Drop in the Bucket


There is SO much to do out in the world it is overwhelming at times. So many hungry, so many sick, homeless, and hurt. So many orphans....
I think the biggest excuse I always hear is "what difference can I make, what ever I do is just a drop in the bucket?" And it's true, it is just a drop in the bucket.
Your monthly support of "just one child" through a program like Compassion, or you taking in "just one child" through foster care or adoption, or you giving "just one time" to a program like Feed the Children is nothing more than a drop in the bucket. So why bother??
Have you ever had a leaky roof or leaky pipe? I have. I put either an empty pan or bucket to catch that drip and it may take a day or two or more, but do you know what happens?? Drip by drip, drop by drop that bucket not only fills up, it overflows!!!
So while your "help" may only be one drop in one bucket, yours combined with others will make that bucket overflow!! That's the good news! The bad news is without your drip(or drop) and without the others, that bucket will remain empty.
So let's all get out there and overflow some buckets!! We CAN make a difference!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

OOPS!! UNDER CONSTRUCTION...

I am trying to play around with my graphics as the pretty hanging flowers are covering my first few paragraphs. In the process I erased yesterdays post! I spent so much time trying to "fix" it I never got around to "Sundays Savings." Will catch up later in the week.

To change my template to a new one(even though I love this one) will erase all of my hard work in the side bar!! So please bear with me while I work on a new template, you probaly will see lots of different ones in the next few days will I make adjustements.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Blessing Box(or jar!)

As I was reading Corrie Ten Booms "Tramp for the Lord" I read an idea I just loved....A Blessing Box!! This was a little different than the blesssing boxes of which I am familiar. Most often when I hear "Blessing Box" I think of a box in which you place strips of papers, or cards with Bible verses, or things that you are grateful for. Then when you are feeling down you can go back and "count your blessings."



While I think this is a lovely idea, the idea I got from the book is a bit different. See, each time Corrie's mother had something she felt "blessed" by, such as a house guest or something else she was thankful for she placed some coins in her "Blessing Box." When the box was full, she would then donate the money to a favorite charity or mission!!



What a great idea!! Here is another way those of us low on funds can save some spare change and use it to help others!!



We are starting one today!! Although ours will be a "Blessing Jar" simply because while we don't have any boxes, we have plenty of jars!! To make it fun we will let the kids decorate it and choose an organization to give the money to when ours is full.



Perhaps when we are done decorating, I will post a picture here to share with you, as well as let you know what organization we will choose to bless!



HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Food For Thought

A fellow blogger linked me to this today, and I thought it was so fitting with what I have been writing here the past few days, I felt I just MUST share it with you all!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Savings

This week we personally found a few ways to save a little money. One I already mentioned yesterday, and that was downgrading our satellite TV programming, for a savings of 35.00 a month!! Another was our roadside assistance. We have had this for 18 months at 14.99 a month and have used it a total of one time!! A third was an online math program my son uses. It is a great program, but doesn't get used consistanly enough to warrant the 19.95 a month we spend on it.



A little here, a little there, doesn't seem like much individually, but the total savings was $69.94!! Wow! I didn't even realize it was that much till I just now added it up! That's ALOT!! Part went towards helping others and the rest is going towards paying down our debt!



Are there any places you can cut back and save too? I really didn't realize those little monthy things really added up like that! Really makes me rethink future monthly commitments.



One of the biggest places almost all of us can cut costs is in our grocery bill. The obvious is to just start cooking at home more often. And using much less convienance type foods in the process. You can spend just as much cooking at home as eating out if your cooking with alot of packaged foods.



A great cookbook for new ideas and healthy ones is the More With Less Cookbook:

The first third or so of the book explains the concepts behind eating more simply. Some if the information is a little outdated, but even the figures from back then(this was written in the 70's or 80's don't recall at the moment) are astounding, and I am sure they are even more so if they were updated for today.

The recipes are gathered from missionaries from around the world. Most call for simple ingrediants and are fairly easy to make. Some of our family favorites come from this book. I recommend checking it out from the library and trying a recipe or two.

Next Sunday I will share more specific ideas for saving on your grocery bill and keeping costs down.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Site Seeing

I feel I first need to apologize as I have not been keeping up on my regular weekly posts such as Saturday Site Seeing and Sunday Savings, but we have been dealing with alot of illness in my household the past few weeks. Lord willing, I will be able to get back on track.

Today I thought this site seeing tour would be a good follow up to my Live Simply post I wrote yesterday. So lets say you got excited yesterday and want to give up your cable extras or coffee treats or something else and help others to simply live. Or like many, you are already living as simply as you can and there still just isn't enough to help others, then what?

Well, I have found several sites where you can give your extra money to help others in need and many that you can help even if you don't have two pennies to rub together. So lets get started...

I mentioned I down graded my satellite TV services. I went from the premium plan to the very basic plan at a savings of thirty five dollars a month. I had a reason in mind when I did this. I had recently attended a Mike Rayson concert and learned of Compassion International. I so wanted to help and sponsor a child that evening, but knew I didn't have the money. Then I thought of how much I have that I don't need, including my premium TV programming and the decision wasn't too hard to down-grade it and make a huge difference in a young childs life. So we now sponsor a beautiful little five year old girl named Betty. Not only will we be helping her financially with the monthly committment, but we keep her picture in our Bible and pray for her daily during our Bible and Devotion time each morning.

Another program that I really like is Shoes for Orphan Souls. I didn't realize the great need until I visited the website. Here is an easy way to make a one-time donation or you can help more often or even go to help deliver the shoes to those in need. You can also help by organizing drives in your church or community.

Each year at Christmas one of our favorite family projects is Operation Christmas Child. Here is another way to involve the kids. Kids love to help other children in need. While this makes a fun family project, you can also organize and event with your church or homeschool or other group.

One of my very favorite programs is Heifer International. This program helps people by teaching them to help themselves. Please check out their site. I can not say enough good about this organization! And there are many ways to help that wont cost you a penny! One is the Read to Feed program. They send you the materials for free. You then get people(family, church members, others in your community) to commit to a dollar amount per book your child reads. Your child reads, collects the money then you send it in! You can even request which program or items you'd like to support!

So what if you love these ideas but just don't have the money to support any of the organizations? Well, I just gave you one idea above with the Heifer Organization. There are many other ways you can help too.

What about giving your time and of yourself? Visit Volunteer Match and see what programs are available in your community. There are many things you can do that wont cost you more than a gallon or two of gas and maybe 2 hours of your time a week. The opportunities are endless. Even in my small area there is so much to do. Hospice volunteer, delivering library books to the homebound, animal shelters, desert guides, and more!

Another great program that will only cost you gas and time is Meals on Wheels. This program delivers meals to homebound patients who otherwise may go without. I have seen the benifits of this program from those who have received it. Not only are the homebound grateful for the hot meal, but they love the companionship of those delivering the meals even more. They now even have a program for the pets of the homebound.

There is something out there for everyone! Don't limit yourself to just giving money. Give yourself, your time and your prayers. MAny of these organizations couldn't exist without something as seemingly simple as your prayes!

God also gave each of us gifts in different areas, and desires to help in certain areas. Some of us may want to help the poor, others orphans, for others it may be the dying, and yet for someone else it may be animals or nature. God created all, people, animals and nature. So don't feel guilty if you feel a pull towards one of these over the other. God gave us calls in different areas for a reason. What if we all cared only for the orphans? Who then would care for the poor or dying? What about His animals? We feel stronger pulls towards certain things for a reason. He made us that way!!

So once you find your calling(it's not more than a prayer away) go out there and find out what you can do to make a difference.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Live More Simply....

Simple living...for many that phrase invokes thoughts of perhaps farm life, baking your own bread, growing your own vegetables, maybe even a lifestyle similar to the Amish or other plain folk.

For many of us a dream. For many a reality. I tried the "simple life", goats, hens, a garden, horses, fruit trees, etc... let me tell you, it was anything but simple!! Hard work! Rewarding, but hard. I have to really respect and admire those who are able to not only attain, but MAINTAIN that lifestyle. My hats off....

But as much as I respect those who live like that, and quite enjoyed my hand at it, that's not quite what I am speaking of today..

Many who know me know one of my favorite quotes is one by Gandhi; Live more simply, so others may simply live. Just what does that mean?

While I don't know exactly what Gandhi had in mind when he spoke those words and what the context was when he said them here are some of my thoughts....

It bothers me so much and I can't make sense of why so many have so much and even more have so little or not enough. I am sure there is a reason, but I honestly have to admit I don't know what it is. The thing is it doesn't HAVE to be that way. There is much we can all do, but we ALL have to do it. Me alone wont make a huge difference, you alone wont, and the next person wont, and so on. But if we ALL did something, all of us put together could make a world of difference.

There are so many great organizations out there, you can check my side bar for some ideas(Compassion, Shoes for Orphans and more)

You may think you can't afford to help, but that's where this favorite quote of mine comes in to play; Live more simply so others may simply live. Can you give up your cable TV and send that money? Could you turn your thermostat down and send in the savings? What about eating at home more preparing simple home-made meals? Can you give up a habit? For me it was my Monster Energy Drinks, for you it may be your Starbucks coffee or cigarrettes or something else you should probaly do without anyway.

I really did not want to give up my full service satellite TV, I struggled so much with this one(and my Monsters) But then I suddenly felt so selfish. I don't want to give up these things that are clearly "wants" and not "needs" and meanwhile that money could be doing good elsewhere. I don't want to give up my TV, but that money could buy food for a hungry child or shoes for an orphan.

So, slowly but surely I am truly trying to Live more simply so others may simply live~

I am not writing these things to make you feel guilty or force you into giving up some of your luxery items or treats. I am just trying to give you some ideas of small things you can do to make a BIG difference in the life of another. MAny of the poor, especially in other countries are not poor by choice or anything they did or didn't do. For many it is just a matter of where they were born. Most countries don't have the government health care and welfare systems that we have here in America. Many depend on the generosity of others like you and me who are willing to do without a few of our extras and wants to give them some of their needs.

People like Mother Teresa and even Gandhi himself really took the live simply phrase to a whole other level by doing away with all wordly goods so they can live like those they were trying to help. They only kept simple items such as a robe, shoes or sandles, a bucket and perhaps one or two other small items. We don't need to go to quite that extreme to help others and make an impact. Of course the more simply you choose to live, the bigger impact you can make!

Think about it, pray about it, and if you feel led, try just this month to do away with just one or two of your luxery item and send that money to someone in need or an organization with a reputation you can trust. If you like how you felt after doing such and it didn't hurt too bad, would you consider doing it a second month or making a regular monthly commitment? Get the kids involved too. You'll find they are much more eager to help than you expected. Be careful though, the kids can really be the ones to challenge you to do more once you get them started!

P.S. Forgive any(and I am sure there are many) spelling errors. My Blogger spellcheck has not worked in weeks. I never have claimed to be an excellent or even good speller.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Voted Today, Did You??



Today is "Super Tuesday" in many states. Your chance to give your say in who you'd like to see as your parties candidate. Here in America we have the rare privilege to pick our own leaders. It infuriates me that many don't even bother to vote. By not voting, you are letting others pick your leader. Sure, you may vote and your guy(or gal??) may not win, but at least you had the chance to give your say on who you'd like to see as your next leader.

The only thing that infuriates me more than people who don't vote, is people who don't vote, then complain about our leaders! No vote, no complaining....period!!

This year seems different to me than other years. It seems there is lots of talk of "splitting votes." Several people I know aren't voting for who they really want out of fear of "splitting the vote." To me this is almost as ridiculous as not voting. I see the theory behind what they're saying, I really do. But just what if everyone actually voted for who they really wanted? Just maybe, that person would win? There is a chance if you cast your vote for who you really want. If you don't, then well there is no chance at all. I for one am willing to risk "splitting the vote" to give my candidate the chance. I supported my candidate financially even when my family is struggling in this area. I supported my candidate by making calls, emails, banners on my other sites, wearing badges, bumper stickers etc....I am not about to throw my vote to someone else!!

So, no matter who you are voting for, or what party you are voting for, PLEASE go out and vote! And vote your conscience. " Just Do It!"