Today I’m Grateful for an Early Christmas Present

I’m grateful for the newest addition to our family.

Brian and I have talked about trading in the Dodge Durango for a new car for a while. We spend sooo much in gas money every month. We were very interested in the new Ford Fiesta, but I finally talked Brian out of buying a brand new car. Best case scenario: we find a nice used car that we can pay for with the monthly savings in gas. 

So, one night we drove through a few used car lots and picked out a few we wanted to look into more. The last one we found was a black hatchback Ford Focus, 2006. It has a manual transmission, which is what Brian wanted. Since it would be “his” car, that was ok with me. While Brian was looking at it and I was waiting in the car, a salesman came out and talked to Brian. He said that the car had been recently marked down, but he wasn’t sure how much. Brian told him we would be back the next day to look at it again. 
But that night, we looked up the cars we were interested in online. We were very surprised to find that this car had been marked down to $4,999, when according to Kelly Blue Book, its retail value was $7,100. 
We decided to test drive it first, since of all the cars, we were most interested in it. Honestly, we didn’t think we’d be buying a car that day. But just in case, I asked Brian if I could drive to the dealership so I could get some practice with him in the car, in case I had to drive the Durango home by myself. I’m deathly afraid of driving, by the way. But we survived, test drove the car, and went inside to run some numbers and see what the payments would be. 
After quite some time of going back and forth, figuring out this and that, the payments were going to be even lower than we’d thought. With the money we saved from gas each month, we would easily be able to make payments on the car and pay for insurance. We wouldn’t have to trade in the Durango either. 
We both felt that God had led us to this car. We decided to buy it. 

With all the time doing paperwork and waiting to hear back from the bank, we had many conversations with the salesman we were working with. At one point in our conversation, he asked us if we had family or friends in Arizona. We said we had some very extended relatives that we’d never met, but otherwise it was just Brian’s job that brought us here from Iowa. We said we did have friends though, people we’d met from church.
“What church do you go to?” He asked.
When we told him, he asked, “Is that an Independent Baptist church?”
Slightly surprised, we said that it was. Come to find out, he had been raised Independent Baptist and his parents back in Montana had been encouraging him to visit our church! He showed us a slip of paper in his wallet – it had the name and address of our church on it.
“I don’t think it was an accident that you guys came here,” he kept saying.

He talked about how his faith and being in the Word was helping him get through some hard circumstances in his life, and how working at the dealership helped.
“Did you know this is a Christian company?” he asked.
We had no idea, but apparently on the website it states that they are a Christian company. They even hold weekly Bible studies for the employees! We had noticed earlier that one of the nearby salesmen had verses typed up and posted on his cubicle wall, and when we went to talk to the head finance lady, her Bible was sitting on the desk.

How awesome is that?

Catching up on Gratitude

I know I’ve gotten way behind on my grateful posts. Last week was pretty hectic, I had a huge project for school to do that occupied most of my time. And then there was Thanksgiving! So, because I have so much catching up to do, this post is full of things I’m grateful for.

I’m grateful for leaves changing color…finally!

I’m grateful for some savy finds. These curtain valance panels were 50 cents each. The sweet shoes were around $4. 
And my favorite find was this little bird candle holder. It was half off, so it was $2. 
And, I’m grateful for a fireplace that disposes of our newpaper and keeps us warm and cozy.
And I’m grateful for cozy pajamas and slippers. 
I’m grateful for pumpkin pie!
And I’m grateful for good food. 
This was my own recipe. It’s very simple: I chopped some red potatoes and a sweet potato and coated them in oil, then generously sprinkled them with garlic salt. I added crumbled cooked bacon, and baked them for around 20 minutes. It was delicious! As I’ve said before, Brian doesn’t like sweet potatoes, and my other sweet potato recipe didn’t appeal to him. But he loved this one!
I’m also grateful for our pastor’s family. They graciously invited us to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. We went to our pastor’s parents home for dinner. They had invited two other older couples. We had a delicious dinner, and enjoyed relaxing for a while afterward. I sat in the kitchen with the ladies, all of whom were at least twice my age, and I loved it! I so enjoyed conversing with them. Later we went to Pastor Joel’s house. We played games, ate dinner, watched a little Pirates of the Caribbean, and enjoyed a bonfire outside. 
I’m grateful for the blessing of talking to my family on Thanksgiving. After watching the first part of Pirates I called my family and got to talk to my dad and siblings. I really miss my brothers; they are just too cute. I miss my other siblings too, but at least they have texting and facebook, so I talk to them a lot more. I’m so looking forward to seeing them all when we go home for Christmas! 
So there’s eight things I’m grateful for to make up for the days I’ve missed. I hope you had a content and worshipful thanksgiving! 
And now I can officially say it: Merry Christmas!

DaySpring Sale!

Save 30% with the Biggest Coupon of the Year

Save 30% at the DaySpring online store with the biggest coupon of the year and it only lasts until November 30th!

Get 30% off your entire order, inlcuding items already on sale! This is a great time to buy Christmas Cardsthe Jesus is the Gift Collectionbest-selling Christmas décor, or anything else from DaySpring!

To get 30% off, use the coupon code: Super30

Remember to use the links here on Scribbles From Emily so that my profits will be donated to Food For the Hungry!

Happy shopping!

Godliness With Contentment

I read this passage this morning, and thought it was a great start for Thanksgiving week. 

1 Timothy 6:6-19

 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Give a Gift that Gives Back {And Free Advertising}

Note: If you are a family member or friend who got an email from me or forwarded to you about this already, you can disregard most of this because I just copied and pasted it… it was too much work to write it all out again! Some of it is new, however, so you can start reading right about at the bullet points.

Today I’m grateful for an opportunity to make a difference.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been attempting to make a little income on my blog. I’ve had an affiliate store with Christian books mainly, and I’ve tried Open Sky. If you’ve seen the news, you probably heard about the mess with I joined many other bloggers in boycotting Amazon, and I removed my store and looked for a new opportunity. Then of course, Amazon gave into to the pressure and removed the book, but not before I’d discovered a new affiliate program: DaySpring. You know those free e-cards? Well, there’s a lot more to DaySpring, as I’ve discovered!

My application was approved, and I am working for DaySpring on commission. I make 12% of the profits on all non-card sales, and 15% on cards. 
But, during the Christmas season, I’d like to take this extra income and donate it to a worthy cause. Food for the Hungry has always been close to my heart, ever since I first heard of the child sponsorship program when I was eleven years old. They work in the “hard places” around the globe, supplying emergency aid and teaching life skills to help the poorest of poor provide for themselves and build a better community. Not only to they tend to the real physical needs, but they start churches, evangelize, and encourage existing believers in their faith. (You can click on the Haiti banner on the right sidebar to learn more)

So, I need your help! 

  • Please consider purchasing your Christmas cards, invitations, and thank yous through me. All you have to do is use the links and buttons I have posted to get to DaySpring, the blue one in the left sidebar or the Christmas one at the bottom of the page. 100% of my profits will be donated to Food for the Hungry. I think you’ll find that DaySpring’s prices are very competitive to what you could find at Walmart or Target. And unlike shopping at Walmart or Target, you’ll be supporting a Christian company and Food for the Hungry. It’s such a win-win! 
  • And I do still have my Amazon store. As I have mentioned in previous posts, all my profits from that store are also going to Food for the Hungry. So, if you have book or music lovers to shop for, check out Scribbles Shelf; it’s right under the blue DaySpring button.
  • Join me! Do you have an affiliate store, an Etsy shop, or something of the kind? Are you willing to donate any percentage of your profits to a charity or non-profit organization through the Christmas season? I would LOVE to offer you FREE advertising on my blog!!! Please shoot me an email and I will fill you in on the details! emi_jo08(at)hotmail(dot)com 

How do you handle Christmas giving? There are so, so many admirable organizations and causes out there. What ones are dear to you and why? I’d love to hear about them! And don’t forget to email me if you’d like some free advertising!

Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

God uses ordinary people to change the world, claims Max Lucado in his book “Outlive Your Life.” After all, He did it before. Lucado looks at the book of Acts from a fresh perspective, making it incredibly applicable to ordinary life. In the first chapter, Max shares three questions that rocked his world: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response? He responds: “We are given a choice…an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did?”

The chapters are short and powerful – easy to read as a Bible Study. The dramatic take on the stories from the first twelve chapters of Acts were enjoyable to read, and convicting. Chapter three, “Let God Unshell You,” especially stood out to me and made me more aware of my defenses against feeling compassion. The true stories of ordinary people who made an extraordinary choice sometimes brought tears to my eyes, like that of Caleb, a nine year-old who donated the money he was saving for a video game to help provide clean drinking water in Central America, challenging his parents and the staff of his church’s children’s ministry to get involved. With those funds, two wells were dug in El Salvador. Or Nicholas Winton, a 29 year-old stockbroker in London during WWII who advocated for and rescued 669 children whose parents had been sent to concentration camps.

This book would be best read in the context of a discussion group. There are thought-provoking questions in the back for each chapter that provide ways to apply the book’s message, everything from taking the time to look people in the eyes to researching specific needs and taking a short term missions trip. I highly recommend this book for your next small group or family devotional.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This book would make a great Christmas gift that gives back! 100% of the author’s royalties from this book will go towards World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion. And, if you buy it here through my Amazon store, 100% of my profits from it’s sale will go to Food for the Hungry!

Today I’m grateful for…exercise?

If you know me, you know I don’t like to exercise. Running is for emergencies only. 

I backed up my dislike for exercise with scripture: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). I don’t even use the KJV anymore, but the idea that “exercise profits little” has stuck with me.

I’ve exercised before. Once I even stuck with a three-times-a-week routine for around six months. For a while, I’ve been wanting to start working out regularly again, but in order for that to happen, there are several hurdles to overcome. 

First, I have to repress memories of Body Flex. If you don’t know what it is, this movie explains it all. And yes, I remember doing this exact exercise with mom. Scarred. For. Life.

Another mental barrier is my past struggles with disordered eating in high school. I wonder if exercising will bring back those painful thoughts of not being enough as a person, if I’m not skinny enough. If I started exercising regularly, would I become consumed with my body image, constantly counting calories in the back of mind and critically analyzing myself in front of the mirror?

While my sister-in-law was visiting, we talked about exercise. She’s a very dedicated exerciser, and something she said turned on a light bulb for me. “You have to know why you exercise. Not just know what the health benefits are, but what your personal reasons are. What it does for you.”

When reading articles that claimed exercise would keep away disease, strengthen my immune system, protect against diabetes, heart disease, and help my brain function better, I’d think to myself, Cool. I should really exercise. But I wouldn’t. That wasn’t enough.

However, I think exercise could be the answer for a few things.

  • Headache relief. Between normal computer activities such as blogging and email, my college classes are online. That means a lot of staring at the screen, and it gives me almost daily headaches. I’ve heard from several people that regular exercise helped their headaches, keeping them from getting them, or even helping them go away. 
  • Sleep. Since last May, I’ve been getting around 12 hours of sleep a night. I don’t think that’s normal or healthy, but nothing I’ve tried so far has helped me sleep less. Regular exercise may help my body develop better rhythms, which would help it to get on track. 
  • Childbirth. All I know is, my older sister works out a lot, and when she gave birth to my niece, she surprised the doctors by how short her labor lasted and how easily she delivered. She thinks being in good shape had something to do with it. Now, I have zero pain tolerance, so someday if and when I give birth, I want the pain part to be over ASAP, and I’m willing to start getting in shape now if it will help. 
  • Releasing stress. School makes me stressed sometimes, as do family situations, financial situations, being busy,and to-do lists. I need a healthy way to relieve stress so that I don’t get overwhelmed, and taking it out on Brian is not working out for us!

 I have it so easy. We have a workout room in our apartment community with a few treadmills and a weight lifting machine. But I don’t like to exercise in public. People might see me. Luckily, we have netflix, and today I found out that there are loads of work out DVDs on watch instantly!

I have a few criteria for my exercise: it needs to be fun and have lots of variety, and short. 10 Minute Solutions, Rapid Results Pilates seems to fit. I did two of the work out sections today and the stretches for a total of 30 minutes, and I am already feeling it.

My plan is to do two sections and the stretches three times a week. Hold me to that, ok?

When it comes to exercise, what works for you? Let me know in the comments!

Today I’m Grateful for a Good Weekend

I know, I know. I failed my grateful-post-a-day challenge pretty miserably. But, it was really nice to not blog for a few days, so I’m not very apologetic. I really enjoyed the break! And I had a really good reason: my sister-in-law! She arrived Thursday evening and stayed through Sunday morning.

It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re shopping! Andrea and I were both in a shopping mood, and looking forward to Christmas, so first thing Friday morning we went to Target and Michaels. I was a bit surprised to find the fall decor already on clearance, considering that Thanksgiving was still two weeks away. But it was lucky for me, since I found these candles for $2.

Not letting anything go to waste, I re-purposed the decoration on the candle’s packaging.

I’d been wanting this little organizer for awhile, and I got it on clearance for $5.

I also got a cardigan for $5. It’s all champagne colored lace, and really pretty. So then it was on to Michaels. I found some fall sprigs on clearance, and used them around my apartment. 
The tall green grass is from the dollar store, and the bike you might remember from my Goodwill finds.  The orange branches and the flowers in the basket are from Michaels.

This is a terrible picture, but I was in a hurry. The red filler, candle, and candle holder I got at the dollar store. for $1 each. The green bottle I found in the tailgating fields at Iowa State University.

Over the fireplace, I put the sprig from Michaels in the background, kind of like a mini fall tree. I really need to get some pictures in those frames! The fabric leaves are from the dollar store, $1 for a bag full of them.

Some of the flowers came from Michaels, some from the dollar store. The potpourri in the  bowl is from the dollar store, and it’s mixed in with more of the fabric leaves. 
Then we discovered Arizona Mills Outlet Mall. I’ve never been to an outlet mall like it. It had all the mainstream stores, but outlets! It was pretty much awesome. I had a very hard time resisting the urge to break the commitment I made in my last post when we went to the Vans outlet, let me tell you! We found adorable pea coats at JCPennys for as low as $18. There’s a jacket there that’s still calling my name. Sometimes I resist buying something because I’m afraid I’ll find something better later and regret it, and then I end up wishing I had! 
Brian took us to the Westgate City Center, and we walked around there for awhile Saturday. Other than shopping, we ate at Bucca Di Beppo, which was ridiculously good, especially the salad. And we saw “Inception” at the $2 theater. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a pretty interesting movie. It was a little confusing sometimes, but I thought it was very thought-provoking and creative. We also watched the first Harry Potter movie; Brian and I had never seen it before. I expected it to be really dark, and was surprised to find it actually charming! Yes, I think that word fits. Especially for Ron, he’s my favorite. 
And Andrea introduced me to Trader Joe’s. We made pumpkin pancakes with a mix we bought there, and I found a recipe for pumpkin spice lattes online. 
The lattes were pretty good until you got to the bottom, and then it was all thick and chunky because of the pumpkin. 
Oh yes, did I mention I’m in a Christmas-y mood?
I can’t wait to get started on my wreath! I will wait until after Thanksgiving to hang it though, don’t worry. But see what’s off to the right side there? A glue gun! Just think of all I can do with a glue gun! I will be an unstoppable crafter! And it only cost $3. 
It’s taken me almost 3 days to get this post finished, so there you are! That’s where I’ve been lately. Are you getting into the Christmas spirit yet? 

I’m Grateful For Old Shoes

Appreciate Life Postcards created by: Ana May DC., Archie A., Gen E., Hotaru N., Jamie M., Janine V., Laurice C., Marchelle V., Meliza A., Paolo O., Regina Y., Trezha R. 
Find more at Journey of a Woman. Click to view full size. 
I don’t know about you, but this one hit me pretty hard. I’m not an uber girly girl, but shoes…anytime! I have a shoe rack hanging in my closet full of shoes. And I still want more. All the time. I want a pair of converse all-stars to go with my skinny jeans and, well, everything, because they’re cool like that. I feel like I need a new pair of white flats because my old white flats were worn out and I finally threw them away … nevermind that I have a pair of black flats, brown flats, gray flats, and blue flats. 
I get materialistic. I covet. And in light of the millions of people who go without clean water every day, not to mention a luxury like shoes … it’s plain disgusting how selfish I can be. 
So today, I’m wearing my old shoes. They may be a little worn, they might not look as awesome as a pair of converse all-stars, but I am grateful. 
On a different note, you may have noticed some changes here on my home page. In case you were wondering, I did not delete your blog button. I just moved it to my Inspiration page, which is my version of a blog roll. I still love you, and I find you inspiring! 
You may also have noticed my new store. I’ve had Scribbles Shelf Amazon store for awhile, and I recently added an Open Sky shop.  Both stores operate similarly, I sell other people’s products, and I get a percentage of the sale. From Amazon, I earn about 4.00% of each sale, and on Open Sky, my earnings are approximately a 50-50 split of the net profits on each sale, which seems to be around 10% of the purchase price.
During the Holiday season, the rest of November through the end of December, I am donating my profits from my Amazon store and my Open Sky shop to Food For the Hungry. I’ll tell you more about that, and how you can help, soon!
What are you grateful for today that you sometimes take for granted? 

Today I’m grateful for failure

Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections, and failed in two businesses. He suffered numerous heartbreaks, and through it all, became of America’s greatest presidents. 

Appreciate Life Postcards created by: Ana May DC., Archie A., Gen E., Hotaru N., Jamie M., Janine V., Laurice C., Marchelle V., Meliza A., Paolo O., Regina Y., Trezha R. 
Find more at Journey of a Woman. Click to view full size. 

Failure is hard to be thankful for. But failure teaches us things about ourselves we wouldn’t otherwise know, revealing our weaknesses and our hidden strengths.

I love the quote on the back of the Isaac Newton post card. So many times I let the fear of making a mistake holds me back from doing anything at all.

A long time ago, I heard the quote: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do,” said by Eleanor Roosevelt. It’s always stuck with me, and pops into my head right when I start thinking “I can’t.” Then I’m faced with the choice to give in to my fear, or take a risk.

Times that I have chosen to take the risk have always proved to be rewarding, no matter how “successful” the outcome. Going to North Myrtle Beach on Summer Project with Campus Crusade was huge for me: I had to raise support, be away from Brian, and live with complete strangers all summer. It changed me forever. Last school year, I organized a fundraiser after the Haiti earthquake. It was a lot of work, and very challenging at times, but if I’m remembering correctly we raised $580.

Has fear of failure been holding you back from stepping out in faith?