Coupon Shopping

Mommy, I hope you got to take advantage of some of the Tax Day Freebies or discounts that several companies offered last week!
If you don’t know them already check out Kelly Hancock’s website (http://faithfulprovisions.com) or Sami Cone’s website (http://samicone.com) to learn more about couponing, other Freebies, and how to be inspired to save for your family and others.
It is our prayer over the next few weeks that you will use all the deals, coupons, and money saving tips you can come across to bring items to donate during our May 12th meeting for our FREE Garage Sale with Front Porch Ministry for the East Nashville Community. Please help us make this sale a success for everyone!
Praying for you,
Brittany
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How to be selfless and successful in your relationships

Don’t let anyone fool you; successful relationships take work. Too often when we dream of our ideal relationship, we dream of a knight in shining armor or a prince on his trusty steed riding into town, sweeping us off our feet and galloping off into the sunset.

And then we wake up.

Realistically, the only way to be cared for in the way we’ve always dreamed of is to care that same way for our mate. When two people love each other selflessly, both will ultimately have their needs met.

Frequently couples will invest more time in planning for their single, four-hour wedding event than preparing for the actual marriage. So what does it take to become selfless & successful? Here are just a few tips:

1. Prioritize

If you don’t have a scheduled time set aside for those most important to you, it will never happen. Whether it’s a date night with your husband, personal time with the Lord, or dinner with loved ones, take time to schedule it.

2. Prayer

One of my mentors told me, “I’ve learned to fully worship God. That worship, in turn, made me feel more of God’s love, acceptance and presence.” We must pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because prayer is the source of communication and intimacy with God. Not only is prayer one of the best ways to experience God’s love but it is the only way to learn to successfully love your mate.

3. Peace

Whether you’re single, married, widowed or divorced, take comfort in knowing that God knows your heart and will reveal to you the steps to take. Remember that your peace comes from Christ alone. There is nothing more powerful than a woman who is authentic before her God, her family and God’s people.

4. Patience

A friend once advised me, “My job is to make my husband look good doing his job.” She went on to remind me that constructive comments should be made at home, out of the earshot of others, and that I must be patient and pray my husband through the process. We must be supportive and patient – bearing with one another in love, just as Jesus exemplified for each one of us.

I discovered the definition of a good woman wasn’t so much about doing as it was about being. It has very little to do with how often I make homemade meals – and everything to do with how often I stop to pray. My decorating and cleaning will never compare to how well I surrender and submit, both to my Lord, my husband and the other authorities God has placed in my life. When I do these things, I find that my husband appreciates how I do things much more than what I’m actually doing for him.

-Sami Cone

Filler’ up!

I noticed my throat hurting this morning as I drank my tea.  I realized that I was straining to bend over the cup and drink up the liquid instead of raising the cup slightly higher and allowing it to easily pour into my mouth.

When we focus downward, we anxiously try to scoop up the pieces of our lives and too often end up drained and empty inside.  Instead, we ought to tilt our head back, open our eyes, ears, mouths and hands, and allow God to fill us up.  In this way, not only will we be filled with His perfect provision for our day, but we will then have plenty to pout into others’ cups!

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.  Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” – Psalms 81:10

The Flood

One of my daughter’s favorite bedtime books is the story of Noah and the flood.  As many times as I’ve personally read the story in Genesis, it took a children’s book to reveal a new truth to me.  Even after the flood ended, Noah had to stay in the boat another year!  And I thought spending three days in my house after Hurricane Jeanne with no electricity alongside ten adults, two dogs, and a newborn was difficult!

Everyone in Florida gets stir-crazy after a hurricane hits, but officials warn everyone not to go outside and enforce mandatory curfews for those that try.  Not only are there power-lines and debris scattered all over the roads, but no-one could find food or gas if they tried.  It’s not until we get the green light from the news that we would venture out in search of supplies

In the same way, Noah had to count the costs before venturing out of the boat.  How tempting it must have been to let everyone and everything loose once the rains stopped, but Noah understood the waters were still too deep by sending birds out to scope the situation for him.  Even after the dove returned with the olive branch indicating dry land, Noah waited to hear from God.  Twelve and a half months after the flood began, the Lord finally told Noah and his contingent it was safe to leave the boat.

Instead of relying on human instinct, Noah waited to hear God’s insight.  We automatically expect sunshine immediately following a storm; few of us recognize the cloudy period in between.  By waiting for the Lord’s prompting and listening for His voice, we can rest assured that we will remain safe and sound.

-Sami Cone

When Kids Misbehave

In light of all we learned on Scream-Free parenting this week, the one point that struck me most was the importance of self-reflection: the fact that we are responsible “to” our children and not “for” them. Taking time to pause and look inward at how we feel about what our children are doing shouldn’t be a novel concept, and yet I don’t think many of us can fully embrace the power of these statements.

As I was reviewing some of Catherine Hickem’s blogs (founder of Intentional Moms who spoke at Fellowship last fall on Emotional Intelligence), I found it interesting that there were similar concepts emerging. Take, for instance, the article below. I hope it both helps you and challenges you all at the same time:

“When Kids Misbehave”
by Catherine Hickem

When your children misbehave, what is your first thought? Most moms I know panic and run with the kid in tow because they are embarrassed their child has acted out in public. They are fearful they will be judged as poor moms because their children are being difficult.

However, let me share something with you. When your kids misbehave, you need to remember it is about your child, not about you. Too often parents think their children do something wrong, it is a negative reflection of how they are managing their families.

The truth is that children will test and try their parents because that is what children do. They are going to see if you are big enough to handle them when they are at their worst. Instead of letting it make you run and hide, stay focused on what your child needs for you in the moment. What others think about you is not nearly as important as you being what your children need.

When these frustrating moments come, realize that your child is more frustrated than you are and it is your job to step back and try to recognize the issue that is surfacing in unacceptable ways. These moments are your opportunity to respond instead of react. When you do that, everyone will win, even if that means your child is in time out.

Keep the focus on the child and off of what others think. You will be more peaceful because you will know in your heart you have done the right thing.

Living Well

This fall we returned to Florida to conduct some workshops and were privileged enough to share one at the church of some close friends. Afterwards, we all decided to continue our time together at a local bakery. Because the fall weather and the company were both so lovely, we made another impromptu decision to further extend our fun together and visit a local pumpkin patch. Upon learning of the news, our friends’ seven year old daughter exclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!”

When you have small children, you’re constantly amazed at how delighted they can become over the smallest things. As soon as I heard Briley’s comment, I thought to myself, “Truly, we should strive to make every day the best day of our lives!”

And why not? If we’re constantly learning and sharing, then it’s not unreasonable to look at each and every day as a gift that can improve upon the day before.

I once heard that there are really only two important questions in life:
1. Are you living?
2. Will you live forever?

I would venture to say that many of us are simply existing instead of truly living. We think, “If I can just make it through_______________ (fill in the blank for yourself)….then I’ll be ok.”
The problem is that we’re not guaranteed anything past today!

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” – Matthew 6:34

As a blogger and writer by both profession and passion, I often find myself working on my computer late into the night (with two small children, it’s really the only time I can coherently collect my thoughts!). However, fatigue inevitable sets in, even when I haven’t accomplished all I originally set out to do. So, more often than not, I’ll leave my computer on with multiple windows open, fully expecting to come back the next day exactly where I’ve left off.

But anyone who’s ever worked on a computer knows that if you leave too many windows open for too long, your computer will eventually freeze up and crash. Our lives are much the same. When we get caught up in what’s to come, we fail to see what’s directly in front of us. When that happens, we neither live well nor finish well.

One of my favorite movie lines come from Professor Harold Hill in the classic musical, The Music Man, “If you pile up enough tomorrows, you will find you’ve collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.”

Where do you find yourself today? Sitting amidst a lot of unfinished business or living well? If you know where you will live forever, there should be a noticeable impact on your life today.

– Sami Cone

Growing

As soon as we moved to Nashville, I had an urge to plant a garden. But seeing as we moved in the middle of winter, we had to settle for an indoor, winter box garden.

So, the kids and I headed over to Home Depot and I let them each pick out some seeds and the necessary planting gear. We promptly returned home and started assembly on our kitchen floor. The kids loved digging in the dirt and dropping seeds into the little soil nests we created for them. The thought of something so tiny becoming so full of life brought them to giggles!

Fast forward a few weeks. Of all the herbs, vegetables and flowers we planted, everything failed miserably…except one: our sunflower.

Soon our little sprout outgrew its Dixie cup. So at the first sign of spring, we transplanted it into our postage stamp of a backyard with room to spread its roots. It was amazing how quickly it grew! I kept taking pictures of the kids in front of it so we could chart its progress. Before we knew it, the stalks were growing as high as our fence and we needed to put skates in the ground to help support it!

However, as the leaves grew and multiplied, so did the amount of ants and bugs. One day, I was so fed up over the insects that were eating away at our pride and joy I decided to douse the plant with bug spray. The good news was that I succeeded in doing away with the bugs, at least temporarily.  The bad news was that my rash decision began a slow infection within our precious plant. Spots popped up. Green faded to brown. Bugs returned.

Some sunflowers did eventually emerge, but they were withered versions of what you typically see from this glorious plant.

Fast forward again about eight months.

This once fresh and life-giving little seed was now two, tall, rotting stalks infested with flying ants. In fact, it was almost impossible for me to remove from the ground because of the deep roots that had spread beneath the soil. Though what was visible looked rotten and fragile, what existed under the surface was actually strong and deep.

It still amazes me that one quick spray in a moment without thinking caused the life of this plant to change very drastically.

“I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Have you ever rationalized a move, a meal, an outing, a movie, or something of the like that might not necessarily be wrong or sinful, but it wasn’t the best for you? Because of that one decision, it becomes easier to rationalize similar decisions and slowly, your definition of acceptable begins to change. While you may think you can go back at any time you choose, you fail to realize that the series of choices you made changes you on the inside, affecting your entire being.

We live in a self-focused society today. No-one will fault you for doing something you think you deserve. As women, we have every right to rationalize a little “me” time. We wear many hats: daughter, friend, mother, wife, volunteer, ministry leader, worker, sister, neighbor…we all know I could go on for the rest of this page. But if we continue to focus on what we do instead of who we are doing it for, we become very self-centered and resentful very quickly.

If each of us got what we truly deserved, we’d all be in trouble. Instead, Christ rescued us from a fate worse than death so that we might not only live, but live life to its fullest! We need to stop trying so hard to keep up our outer appearance while we’re slowly rotting away inside. When your heart is focused on Christ and His best, you’ll soon find yourself willingly avoiding the easy road that leads down a dangerous path.

By the time I went to pull the sunflower from the ground, there was so much I had to unearth just to get to the roots. Likewise, a series of poor choices leads to a deep change within us; even once the external factors are removed, it may take longer to make an effective life change.

Consider the path before you. You are not alone in your journey. Just as God watches over you, there are many others around you praying that you will choose the right path; plant your seed close to those who bring you life and encourage you to strengthen your roots in the good soil. You’ll find once your garden begins to grow in the midst of other healthy plantings, your roots will grow even stronger and link up with theirs.

-Sami Cone

Delight

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Ps 37:4

As I read Kariss her daily devotional before school this morning, I noticed the picture of a little girl picking off flower petals; remember those days of, “He loves me, he loves me not”? The focus was wishes – instead of wishing for what we want, wish for what God wants FOR us. When we align our hearts with His, He grants those desires.

Is this really possible? If we delight ourselves in Him, will we receive our greatest desires? Sometimes this seems too good to be true, but it is absolutely God’s promise to His children. The key is to delight ourselves IN HIM and His way, not in the mall, the internet or the person we share our lives with. When our will matches up with God’s will for us, we receive blessings beyond what we could have asked for ourselves. What does he ask for in return? Complete and reckless abandon to Him.

I find myself telling my kids this a lot, but I wonder if they see me modeling it frequently enough. When I focus too much of my attention on my work, our home, or even them, I’m communicating that God is not the priority. Instead, I’m transmitting the notion that somehow I have a better idea of how life should work than God does. While schedules and priorities are necessary, they should never take the place of complete and reckless abandonment towards God’s desires for our life.

What are you hanging on to? Who are you clinging to? If your answer is anything besides God, take the time now to confess and release it to Him. Sometimes it’s just the idea of someone or something that keeps us from claiming the blessings God has in store for us…

-Sami Cone

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