The air I breathe...

I was almost at the airport (w/ Jenna) to pick up Kevin when we found out his flight was going to be late (hmmm....I should blog that story as well). Anyway - Jenna and I had about 1 1/2-2 hours to fill up. First thought - IKEA - how is that ever a bad idea? We could walk around and dream and eat and goof. But --- Jenna has never been to Oregon. And since we're throwing all we can her & Kevin's way, why not add one more. No IKEA for us - we're off to The Vista House & Multnomah Falls.

Last time I went w/ our family, Steve was in the parking lot running at full speed and getting moved backwards. It was so hysterically funny & scary at the same time. Yesterday was completely different. The sun was warm and resting on our faces - the sky was blue (a little hazy from wildfire ash but beautiful) - the temperature was perfect - and there was a slight breeze that felt fabulous. The view - gorgeous.

But something struck me as I got out of the car for the first time. The air was amazingly refreshing. To the point that you just wanted to close your eyes and just take a deep breath and let it all envelope you. I did. I couldn't help it. I just closed my eyes, pointed my face upward (I'm not sure why) and just took a number of really really deep fabulous breaths. I could feel refreshment to my toenails. I couldn't help but smile. I wanted to just linger there...I told Jenna let's just send for everyone else to come here. Who cares about food or sleeping bags or anything. It's just amazing and I don't want to let it pass. I don't want to miss it. I don't want to go too fast and slip from this very place. This - right here, right now - was the only place I wanted to be, and I wanted others to be there with me.

Last night we had a Prayer Gathering at church. We weren't too far into it when I thought - hmmmmm... when was the last time I could say in seeking God I just was ready to just drink Him in. I mean have Him and Him alone satisfy a hunger and thirst for the knowledge of Him - of His presence - to the point that I literally didn't want to leave that place. That I knew I had met Him right there and then and there was absolutely no doubt about it. By saying this I'm not saying that I'm not spending time with Him (or that I'm trying to by saying the last sentence qualify my recent experiences with the one and only Creator of me and all in the universe)...I'm just saying - do I linger in those places where I know He is? Do I rush through the moment only to have me looking back wishing I'd stayed? May it never be.

Even now sitting on my couch I can take a deep breath and almost hit that place. But not quite. There was nothing like it I had experienced in a little while. And personally - it made me just want to stay. It made me just want to linger in His presence, I mean really linger there and adore Him, worship Him, hear from Him. I remember earlier this summer being @ Youthquake and identifying one word to my spiritual journey at the time - I said plateaued. Not bad. Just slow and steady wins the race. But today, as a result of breathing fresh air, recent prayer and longing of my heart...the Holy Spirit calling me... I can honestly say I'm starting to move to a different place. There have been times in the last nearly 25 years (whoa - 25 years? really? I've been a Christian nearly 25 years?? Um....ok, wait, I can't process that right now) when I know He's called me to a deeper place with Him. It's kinda like I'm starting that climb, and even though I'm not at all one of those to jump into physical challenge... I'm exited about climbing this hill/mountain/whatever before me. I know He's calling me to what's ahead that I can't see...and I know I'll meet Him there. I know He's taken me by the hand and is taking me there.

Last night at a Prayer Gathering at church we had time to just pray alone. And sitting there felt His presence close - holding me and speaking. He sent me directly to 1 Peter 1-2. And I got lost there. What are we being called to? Who are we being drawn to? What are we to leave behind for His sake? So...click the video...to breathe Him in...and read His word as you ask Him to speak to you...and may you feel the breeze of His presence refreshingly fill you from the inside out that you may love and adore Him more...

1 Peter 1

1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God's elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise to God for a Living Hope

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Be Holy

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."[a]
17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.[b] 23For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For,
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord stands forever."[c] And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 2

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."[d] 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[e]"[f] 8and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."[g] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.



I know.. you haven't heard much from me (oh wait - I said that at the beginning of my last post, huh). OK, I'll just get to it. I know I have a lot of catching you up to do... I know I've been slack. I know I have lots going on. I know you're probably wondering (maybe) what I've been up to. So... here's part of it.

I love coupons. I love being a frugal nut. I love coming home from the store and recalling item by item what I paid for things when they are a deal, and lamenting over paying too much for something - and Steve my endearing, amazing, and patient husband takes it all in. He listens half-cheerfully but always supportive. He thinks I'm nuts a good bit of the time - but I know he's grateful. I admit it. It's kinda like hunting for girls who have no desire to pick up a shotgun and go out after some buck or sweet Bambi drinking at a gentle brook. But getting a great deal?? Yeah - you name it! I'm in!!! I love it.

When I lived in Atlanta, I spent a great deal of time shopping at Kroger. I miss Kroger. But they doubled my coupons. No questions - they doubled any and every coupon I used, up to the value of 50 cents I think. They loved it. When I moved here to Oregon I was bummed - no regular double coupons. Seriously. Then...it seemed as though the coupon selection in the Sunday paper wasn't the same - smaller in fact, much smaller.

Then I was re-inspired. Chele (my coupon bud and dear friend) told me one of the girls from her small group was a coupon crazy lady (smile) and was going to talk to her group and anyone else who wanted to come hear about how she coupons and where she finds the deals. So...sure, I'll go. Disillusioned I'll check it out. I'm never going back. There's no reason. You will find deals if you look for them. So... here are a few tips -

Step 1: Buy the Sunday paper - or get someone you know to pass on their coupons to you. (I used to be able to swipe them from my parents when I lived in the ATL - I miss them, and their coupons!) Dollar Tree is a great place to get the Sunday paper btw. It's also not unusual for me to get 2-4 copies of the paper. I know that sounds nuts, but it'll make sense in a moment.

or... Step 1A: Go to Coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com to select and print the coupons you'd like! Yes, you can print coupons from online. YOu can typically print 2 copies of each coupon... so easy. Also - some grocery stores allow you to store your coupons on your frequent shopper card (although I haven't done this yet).

Step 2: cut out the coupons. Seems simple enough. You actually have to cut them in order to use them. When I buy more than 1 copy of the paper, I stack like pages so that I can cut 2-4 pages at a time, vs. 1 coupon at a time from 1 page at a time (does that make sense...I hope so...just in case --- I take all the outside covers and stack them together, then cut the coupons from that page, and so on). Why would I want more than 1 coupon for something? Great question. Let's say cereal is on sale for 3/$6. Then I have $1 coupons off a box of cereal. Then I have 3 Albertson's double coupons (they can typically have in the paper 3 coupons good for a double of your coupon up to $1). OK, so following - 3 for $6 cereals - minus 3 $1 off coupons takes us to $3. But...if I add Albertson's double...guess what??? FREE CEREAL!!! WOO!HOO!! And yes, this is totally do-able and possible.

Step 3: I alphabetize my coupons by brand name and put them in an organizer. It kinda looks like a bill organizer (although you'll probably see another post about moving all my coupons to a notebook in baseball card style pages for easy access... ) Anyway - so organize the coupons with what works best for you.

Step 4: I have a a few blogs to check that are in my top sites mac spaces. This makes couponing easy for me...because this great gals go through the stores/ads and tell you the great deals to play - it makes it a lot easier, especially just starting out - so check out... frugallivingnw.com; moneysavingmom.com;thebargainjargon.com. I watch for FREE and overage deals. I watch for places where I can get a gift card back for certain purchases. Or rebate checks (Rite-Aid rebates are SOOOOO easy!)

Step 5: Make a list!! I know...seriously? Yes - going in "blind" without a plan could have you spending more $$$ than you want or need to. So I have typically have multiple lists (yeah, I've gotten to where I could make quick visits to Albertsons, Safeway, Target, Fred Meyer & Rite Aid). The reason I have my list (and take it) is sometimes stores have unadvertised sales, or close-outs at their stores that can be better than the advertised deal I'm thinking of utilizing. so...I can cross it off the list and get it for the better deal.

Step 6: Get shopping. Enjoy it! Be prepared for people to stop you and ask you how you do this. Be super super super overly kind to the check-out people. Learn their names.

What I still want to learn??? I'm still looking for the best way to get real deals on meat. That's the biggest way I haven't been able to save on a more consistent basis. Yes, I watch for sales... but... I haven't seen anything here that is great. So... does anyone know of a great meat market in Salem or a great place for good meat at a great price?? I'd love to hear.

I know this is sort of couponing by way of firehose --- a spew so to speak... but... don't get overwhelmed. Just enjoy it!! I'd be glad to help ya' out if you want to talk it through...or come over sometime and clip coupons and chat about it... I know...some of you think I'm nuts. Some of you are thinking - way cool - but no way. Some of you are ready to go to the nut house with me. I've gotten enough free or nearly free stuff to be hooked for life. So... yeah. Come join the fun.

"Everyday Greatness" - a great book...

About time I blogged again huh? Little did I know I'd say something about wanting to read more...and then have it take me so long to let you know how I'm doing with that. Yes - I've been reading more. I've read quite a bit actually. Most have been shorter-style books - mostly related to ministry stuff I admit --- mostly related to something we're excited about for student ministries this fall... and this book is no doubt included in that list.

I'll be honest - when I joined in the Thomas Nelson blog review team I thought I wanted to snag a book that would be an easy read, simple, so that I could move quickly to the next one. I picked Everyday Greatness, by Steven Covey. It mentioned articles from other authors that I have interest in and enjoy so thought, sure, why not, that'll be a good first book. Again - I thought it'd be an easy quick read to just check off my list. HA!HA! Little did I know the nuggets of wisdom I would find (and am still finding and will continue to find inside the cover).

Everyday Greatness is a compilation of stories and insights from those who would be considered "well-known" and many who I would call "should-be-known". Targeting about 19 different character traits or schools of thought that clearly transform lives - you read 2-3 real-life stories that pinpoint the heart of these traits. Afterwards you find quotes, questions to ponder, and thoughts from Covey. This is why this book has been something to pour over - not just plow through. It's taken me on a personal journey of discovering a deeper desire to live my life with purpose to make the most of every moment - to honor the calling and opportunities that come my way - to take a look at what really is important to me, and to challenge me to not take for granted the chances that come my way to make a difference. In the big - the small - in my attitude, my actions, my heart, my challenge to others - by my example, my speech and my beliefs.

Personally this book has been an encouragement and a challenge. As a youth pastor, I've honestly thought about having this book be the framework for our curriculum for the year - it's literally spelled out - and an important challenge to our students today. I'd say it's much more like a daily read/study/devotion type book than a sit down and read straight through book. Not to say you couldn't do that. You totally can - but for where I've been, where my heart is, the journey I'm on - it's worked better for me to go steady and slow. And that's why it's taken me a while to blog about it. Get it. It's worth it. But go into it asking God to change you from the inside out, so that you can change the world. It makes it soooo much better with that framework.

©2009 Until... | by TNB