Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Reflections

This year has been a quick one.  As I think back to posts I've written and how the year started, I can't believe twelve months have actually passed.

I started the year discussing Resolutions in general and how vague we make them so that we cannot actually be held accountable to accomplishing them.  So it was then I shared my focus for 2014 was going to be on One Word. My word was Grace, and I will be posting more on that specifically in the New Year as I share my One Word for 2015... but for now, I would like to share with you the top ten blog posts from this past year:

10- Daycare A Traumatic Event-Posted June 20... in which I share how traumatic the experience was for me to drop my son off at daycare for the first time, for him, not so much.

9-The Power of Words - Posted May 7... Oh how our words have the power to build up or to tear down! This one has great scripture references about our words and how we should use them as well.

8-Being Single Really Isn't Bad - Posted January 10... As someone who wasn't married until I was 30, I totally get the pressures the world, well meaning older folks and even your parents can put on you about marriage.  And though I love my husband and son and wouldn't trade them for the moon, being single really isn't that bad.

7-Don't Just Do To Do - Posted April 14... This one covers Serving.  We are called to serve in particular areas.  We need to serve in those areas and not overextend and we are to "Serve the Lord with gladness." Psalm 100:2a

6-Expectations Can Be Dangerous - Posted January 21... I had such grandiose ideas of what marriage would look like and the type of wife I would be, only to be disappointed when I didn't live up to this false expectation I had set.  And if we aren't careful those expectations can become idols that we focus on more than Christ.

5-How to Deal With Difficult People - Posted March 5... This is one I have to reread myself every so often, because the simple fact of the matter is that difficult people are everywhere.  And the Bible provides such great instructions on dealing with them and hopefully keeping yourself from becoming a difficult person yourself!

4-Birthday Party Pinterest Style - Posted April 29... This is pretty self explanatory, but I wanted to provide a post that may provide ideas for others who are planning birthday parties.  And this has obviously been one of my most pinned posts on Pinterest as well- mainly because of the amazing Birthday cake!

3-Uninhibited Worship - Posted February 7... This is one of my personal favorites and I believe a glimpse of what worship in heaven will look like- completely uninhibited! The Ugandan Thunder is an amazingly talented group of children from Africa who are amazing worship leaders- I highly recommend that you invite them to your church- you will not regret it!

2-Total Surrender-Part 3 - Posted February 28... This one is ongoing still.  I struggle with glutony and I consistently pretend that God doesn't care about what I eat but that is absolutely a lie.  I fear that I surrender this area of my life to God half-heartedly which means not really at all and I take it back upon myself to decide what is best for me.  Continued prayers for this area of my life would still be much appreciated.  And I suspect it is my second most popular post, because it is also a struggle of so many others. And as such I will continue to pray for those who read it and myself for complete and total surrender.

And the most popular post of 2014 is...

1- Jamberry -Posted September 3... This post is where I shared my designs for local sports teams.  It is also a very highly pinned post.  I toyed with the idea of taking it down many times, but if Jamberry brings someone to my site from Pinterest or Google, then perhaps they will click on another post and be exposed to the Gospel.

So there they are, my top ten posts.  At this time I want to say thank you to those of you who do faithfully read my ramblings.  Thank you to those of you who have told me you read them, or you love the blog, or any words of encouragement that you have spoken, even if it's to let me know that you were encouraged by something I wrote.  I try to stay true to what I feel is laid on my heart and believe me when I tell you some posts are chewed on for days before they ever get published.  And most probably all are the lessons I've learned from going through the exact thing I'm writing about.

Thank you for sharing the link, thank you for visiting, thank you for listening.

I hope 2014 was good to you.  And I wish each of you a very Merry New Year and a Happy 2015!

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

When sin entered the world, the direct relationship that man had enjoyed was ruined.  But God, being rich in mercy knew that he would one day send his son to fix that broken relationship.
When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit that God had forbid them to eat they sinned.  And the payment for that sin was death. No they didn't immediately die in the sense that we know death now, but the perfect life and communion with God was severed and they became dead in their sins.  But God, had a plan to bring his people to life again!  It is through Jesus that we are made alive! He came that we may have life.

When the shepherds heard that the Savior had been born, they immediately went to see him!(Luke 2:8-15) The shepherds realized that the long awaited messiah had come! The promised one, the one who would save them had finally come!  When they had seen Jesus they immediately began to tell others all that God had done and they glorified and praised God!

Let us be like the shepherds this Christmas.
1- Let us hear, receive and act on the word of God this season as the shepherds did when they heard the word of God from the angels. They heard, believed and were moved to action.
2-Let us spend time in the presence of Christ. It was so important for the shepherds to see the Savior that they immediately went to Bethlehem to see him. It was worth the effort it took for them to travel and see this baby, because they knew the true importance of him.  Is he worth your effort to go to church, spend time in prayer, and reading his word so we can know even more about him? Is he that important to you?
3-Let us tell of the wondrous things God has done in our lives.  When was the last time you just told someone about all of the moments you had experienced God.  The truths He revealed through your quiet time. Or the way He provided just what you needed, just when you needed it. Or the peace he brings even though you may be feeling a bit blue, missing a loved one who isn't here this time of year.  Or just telling people about how He saved you? Whatever it is, God deserves our praise and our glory.  For all that He does in our lives we should never cease to worship him because our heart should never stop overflowing with praise to him!




Love in Christ, 

Alyson

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Don't Let Busyness Steal Your Joy

The holiday season can be an overwhelming time of year.  Starting in October we are inundated with candy and pumpkins from every direction.  Then there is Thanksgiving, though it has almost entirely been taken over by Christmas decorations and all things green and red.  But traditionally during Thanksgiving, we have family gatherings and wonderful home-cooked meals with desserts made of all things pumpkin.  And the day after (or night of) Thanksgiving then gives way to full on Christmas time.  We begin to hear the songs on the radio, see the specials on TV, decorate our homes, churches and offices with garlands and trees.  And then we start planning parties and family gatherings and throw shopping in the mix and baking treats and no wonder we are exhausted until the New Year!

I'm not saying that any of these things are bad. But when you focus solely on the "things" of the holidays you truly miss out on the joy.  Even "trying" to focus on the meaning of the season, leaves people overwhelmed with activities and church outings. (And before you get up in arms about that statement, keep reading, I explain).  Instead of trying so hard to fit everything in this year, maybe we should just let some things go. 


Instead of making sure the house is perfectly decorated with every bell, ornament, wreath and tree maybe we can use that time to spend with family letting them help. They may not decorate the way you would like, but spending time with them making memories is much more important than the ornaments being exactly spaced around the tree.

Instead of focusing so hard on making sure everyone is saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays that you jump down their throats for it, just agree and share why Christmas truly is the happiest of holidays because of the perfect gift that was given to the world that night.

Instead of stressing out about cleaning your house and planning the perfect parties and gatherings, just be present.  Laugh with your friends and family, make memories that last.  Because an un-perfectly clean house is not a memory that sticks like the ones shared around the table with those you love. 

Instead of spending hours upon hours baking by yourself, teach your kids, or invite some of the kids/teens from church or your neighborhood who may not get the opportunity to bake with parents.  Sure you have to take time to explain, but you are creating a precious memory for that other person that is worth more than a perfect batch of cookies- and they are learning a life skill!

Instead of complaining about all the "Angel Trees" and bell ringers and charities this year, why not cut your family's gift budget to each other and bless some folks in need.  Not only will your family not miss the "things" they didn't get, but they will receive a bigger blessing in learning how to serve others.

Instead of trying so hard to keep Christ in Christmas, just keep Christ where he should already be- and that's the center of your life.  If Christ is your focus for the rest of the year, that shouldn't change during one month.  If we have quiet times, and family devotions, go to church, give, worship, and truly live for Jesus all the time, as we are called to as Christians, then there won't be a struggle to "fit" Christ into our Christmas, he'll already be there.

Are there other things you can think about letting go of this month so that you don't lose your joy?
Please share them in the comments, I'd love to hear them!



Love in Christ, 


Alyson




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks In The Mommy-Fail Moments



1 Chronicles 16:34: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 106:1: "Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 107:1: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 118:1: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"

Psalm 118:29: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!"


Psalm 136:1: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
The Bible has this phrase many times within it, and in my thinking that probably means it's pretty important.  So when was the last time you gave thanks to God because he is good and because his steadfast love endures forever?  
I believe we thank him for our family, our health, our jobs, our temporal stuff.  We may even thank him for our salvation and for Jesus.  Do we ever thank him for his steadfast love, that never fails, that never gives up, that never waivers -when we don't feel it?  

I'll be the first to admit, when I'm going through the dark, hard places of life, that I don't much feel God's love and I certainly don't feel like thanking him.  But in those times, God is still good.  And He still loves us.  God is faithful, even when we aren't!  

This past Sunday afternoon, my very willful son had pretty much zapped all my patience and grace while I was getting us ready to go back to church for the Thanksgiving service.  After chasing him around the house and saying "No" and "Stop" for the hundredth time, I snapped.  I smacked his bottom and yelled at him to "just be still for a minute!"  Then I grabbed all the things that you have to have when leaving the house with a toddler, managed to drop a couple while trying to scoop him up- realize it's raining, go back in the house for raincoat, get back to the car, wrestle him in the car seat and finally start down the road, only to realize that there is no way I can make the 15 minute drive to church in the next 10 minutes before the service actually starts!

It was once I had backed out of the driveway and turned on the Christian cd (because I probably need some Jesus right now- was my actual thought) that I just broke down emotionally.  I like to call these times, "Mommy-Fail Moments" or "mommy-fails" for short.  See I am not opposed to spanking my son but when I react in anger instead of just the need to discipline then I have sinned. When I yell at my son, I have lost my temper and I have sinned.  And so there I am, driving to church in the rain, running late, and crying out to God and Wyatt asking both to forgive me.  And it was at that moment, that low, mommy-fail moment, that I felt completely overwhelmed with the love of God.  I can't really describe it to you, all I know is that I felt peace.  I felt grace.  I felt completely loved and completely forgiven.  And I realized that though I may have mommy-fail moments, that I am not a failure as a mom.  That through grace, I am made whole.  My identity as a child of God, means that I am not defined by my mess ups or slip ups, but that I am a new creation.  And that God, the God of steadfast love, the God that is forever faithful, gives me grace upon grace upon grace through Jesus Christ.  So then my pity party turned into a praise party and as I told my husband, I had church on the way to church!  My tears of frustration turned into tears of joy and my questions turned into thanksgivings!

I thought about cleaning my face to make myself presentable before entering church Sunday night, but I just couldn't stop the flow of tears.  I was completely overwhelmed with how awesome God is and how very lucky I am that He chose me, that He loves me, that He is God!  And I realized that it's in those tough times that I truly appreciate God for who he is, and I am thankful.
God is so GOOD.  When was the last time you really felt that instead of just said it?
Love in Christ, 
Alyson

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God is Able, Why Doubt That He's Willing

This morning at around 3 AM, my son woke up crying.  We have a video monitor (yay- baby shower gift) so I laid and watched for a minute to see if he would go back to sleep as he usually does.  This morning, however, his little body would have coughing fits that would then make him cry again.  Our pediatrician said that keeping his nose clean would be a big help in reducing his coughing at night, but let me tell y'all, my son is not a fan of the nose sucking.  He fitfully turns his head so much that I fear even when holding him in almost a head lock that I will poke him in the eye with the thing. But seeing how my son was struggling, I went to get the aspirator anyway, hoping I could coax my son into believing that it would help him feel better... he didn't care.  I offered milk that he turned down.  So then I did what any mother would do and I scooped him up and carried him over to the rocking chair in his room.  And then I cuddled my son and rubbed his back and rocked him to sleep.  He managed to get to sleep and stop crying but the coughing continued every minute or so.  I even tried to sneak attack his nose at this point but even in his sleepiness he was not a fan and turned his head.  So, what do we do as Christians when we've tried everything we can do to no avail... we pray and ask God to do it.  (I say that sarcastically, because shouldn't that be the first thing we do??)

So there I sat a little after 3 in the morning having a conversation with God about my poor little boy.  It went something like this:
 "God, if you would just take this coughing and stuffy nose and sickness off of Bug and give it to me, I would gladly take it...I mean, I know you are so able to do this God, You are all power and all love and all mercy..."
 "Wait, I know He can, but do I doubt He will?  Am I sitting here asking God to do something and not really believing He will?  What's wrong with me..."
"Well it isn't that I doubt God's ability or his love, it's that I don't believe He just grants every person their every prayer request all willy-nilly." [I have to interject here, if you are still reading this, that I seriously did use the phrase "willy-nilly" and I seriously had this conversation in my head...I realize it was more with myself, but keep reading...]
"Do I have a lack of faith? The Bible says ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened to you.  But God is not a genie.  Though God does know my heart, and He knows that it is not out of selfish ambition or gain that I make this request.  And that if I had to choose between God healing my son right now or saving my son, I would choose his salvation..." [I proceeded to have some quiet contemplative time, which is basically what the whole thing was, since I wasn't talking out loud.]
"I do believe that God is in control.  I believe He is faithful, he is good, he is love and that he can heal. So, right now I ask You, God, to please allow my son to get a good night's sleep, remove this cough from him and help him feel better. I know that you can and I believe that you will."
I probably don't even have to tell you that just after this I realized that several minutes had passed since Bug had coughed.  And I held him just a few more minutes to make sure he was really asleep before I put him back down, not because I doubted that it happened, but because I was cherishing the snuggle time and the complete awesomeness of God.  And he didn't cough again, not once.  I laid him back in his crib and didn't hear another peep from him for the next almost 3 hours before I got up for work.

Obviously, right here is where I share that one of the purposes of this post is to give God glory for healing my son last night. Praise God!

The other purpose in this post is to share how amazing God is, when He reveals himself through his word. And how awesome He is when, He chooses to give us more faith, more knowledge, more understanding through his word...  even at unexpected times, like 3 in the morning.

When I laid back down in my bed, my mind immediately went to some scripture that my discipleship class had studied a few weeks back about Jairus's daughter and the bleeding woman.  This occurrence is recorded in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56.  (We were doing a book study so this point that we discussed was initially made to us by Jared Wilson in his book "The Wonder Working God:Seeing the Glory of Jesus In His Miracles.")  Jairus was a prominent man, he came to Jesus knowing that he was able to save his daughter and believing that he would save his daughter.  The bleeding woman, however, was poor (she had given all of her money to physicians for healing) and she was probably of low standing in society.  She believed that Jesus had the power to heal her, but she doubted he would take the time to do so, i.e. she touched his garment herself to be healed.  I remember studying this and thinking how sad that this woman thought so little of herself and knew so little about Jesus that she didn't realize that He is love and mercy, power and might. That He would have healed her had she just asked.  I doubt for a second that he didn't know who it was who touched him or the very instant that she pushed through the crowd and was about to touch him just as he knew instantly when she did.  I am a strong believer in the sovereignty of God.  I believe that He is above all things and before all things and in complete control.  What I had to be reminded of last night that he revealed in little aha moments during my conversation with him in front of him was Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  Faith isn't just believing God can, it's believing He WILL. 


I still don't believe that God should be viewed as a genie or wish granter-- He is SO MUCH MORE than that.  But I do pray that my faith is stronger today than it was yesterday and I pray that this post will perhaps encourage you as well.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

When Jesus Said No



During my Bible Study time a few days ago, I read Mark 5:1-20.  I won't paste the entire passage here, but I highly encourage you to go read it.

What is happening here is that Jesus and the disciples have just gotten off a boat in the country of Gerasenes and they immediately encounter a demon-possessed man.  This miraculous healing is wonderful and full of many details that you simply must read for yourself.  But the interesting fact that stuck out to me as I was reading it was found in verses 18 and 19:
18 As he [Jesus] was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:18-19 ESV

What grabs my attention in this passage is that the healed man begs to go with Christ, yet Jesus tells him no and gives him something else to do.  Hasn't Jesus' message been, "Follow me" yet here he is telling this man no... hmmm.  The two points I take from this exchange is 1- Jesus is in control and 2- Not all of us are called to the same life.

1-Jesus is in control
See, Jesus knows much more than we do.  He knows the why's that we cannot know.  To us, a man who had just been healed of a possession of thousands of demons, a legion of them, would prove to be a very loyal follower and probably someone we could count on to have our back.  But that's human thinking.  Jesus, being human probably realizes this, but he is also God and therefore, he knows that in the big picture he doesn't need just another follower or for someone to have his back- God's pretty much got that covered... What he needs is disciples.  People who will learn from him and go on after him.  And honestly, he needs the particular ones who were the ones he had, and only he knows why.

2- Not all of us are called to the same  life
As a Christian, I get into the habit sometimes of doing good for goodness' sake. ;-) For example, say there is a ministry within the church, a particular position perhaps, well obviously the good thing to do would be to fill it if no one else has, BUT, that may not actually be the RIGHT thing.  Is it a ministry? Check.  Is it building up the kingdom? Check.  Is it something our church supports and needs workers to do? Check and check.  Is it an area that God has called you to serve in?  Hmmm, wellll... And there you go, doing good for goodness' sake and not perhaps for God's.  Following Jesus was a very self-sacrificing role.  These men had to leave their families and jobs and travel from village to town trusting God to provide dwelling and food for them.  But not all were called to that high task.  Obviously, because Jesus denies this man the opportunity. 

But part 2 of part 2... or maybe B, whatever, the second part of this is that though we may not be called to the task we deem worthy, it doesn't mean we aren't called to act.  Jesus didn't just tell this man no, and then turn and walk away.  No, in verse 19 it says that Jesus told him to go home and tell all of his friends and family how much God has done and how much mercy he showed.  And verse 20 said he did just that!  Jesus asked this man to be a witness to his family and friends.  He doesn't call everyone to be a missionary in Africa, he calls us to witness about him right where we are, where he has called us to be. 

The hope we can take out of this passage is that you are no better or worse off than anyone else who is serving the Lord.  You are no more worthy or less worthy.  Whether you are called to teach, preach, sing, take meals, be a mom, be a nurse, or be a foreign missionary, God has called you to a specific calling that is unique to you.  He has uniquely blessed you with the gifts and talents to do exactly what he has asked of you.  He is in control and He knows why. And He expects us to be faithful.

So stop comparing yourself to others.  Stop serving where you aren't called.  And start seeking God and following his direction in your life.  Because contrary to what prosperity preachers preach *cough*JoelOsteen*cough* God doesn't want you to have your best life now, he cares about the big picture of eternity and wants you to do what brings the most honor and glory to HIS name, not your own.

Love in Christ, 


Alyson


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Where Do You Place Your Hope?


Have you ever done something, perhaps a craft, or had a funny story, or maybe a good idea and you share it with someone else and it falls flat?  You know what I'm talking about... you are SO excited about this fill in the blank thing that you just have to share it, and when you do the response isn't all you hoped it would be.

I think it's safe to say that we have all been there at one time or another.  And it's at times like these that I am reminded that when I place my hope in temporal things or people that it may will return void and I will be disappointed. BUT when I place my hope in Jesus Christ, I am never disappointed!


"Praise 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, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." 1 Peter 1:3-4

"The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:11

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

So where do you place your hope?

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

Edward Mote

Love in Christ, 

Alyson

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let Me Hear You ROAR

Photo Source

So this weekend, I had the privilege of attending the ROAR women's conference in Fayetteville.  Don't be fooled by the logo or the title- this was not a self-help conference to the theme of "I am woman, hear me roar."  Instead, this conference was a worship event, and if when the women left the conference feeling empowered, it was through the Holy Spirit's power inside of them that they did so.  And yes, there may have been some roaring going on, and hopefully still is some roaring going on, because we want to make sure the devil knows we are God's girls!

And let me tell you, despite how much the devil tried to stop us by causing problems with our bus (alternator not working the entire hour drive, plus stop in Benson for supper) we still made it to the conference.  Yes, barely as the bus died at the door, literally, at the door.  But God had a purpose for us 20 or so women to be there and though the "devil may be in the details" of engines and doors not closing, God is ultimately in control! (We did make it home with the help of two wonderful men, who drove two smaller buses down to get us-Thanks guys!)
Thank you to the nice men of Epicenter Church for pushing our bus to a towing site!
So, Friday night (after safely arriving- Praise God) Kerrie Roberts was in concert.  Let me tell y'all, she is phenomenal! Such a great woman of faith with a true heart for God.  I love attending concerts of Christian artists- because we aren't worshiping at the alter of the performer, we are worshiping at the alter of God! I would say the goal of a Christian singer would be to point others to Christ more than to themselves- giving him the sole glory! And Kerrie Roberts did just that!




After our concert worship through song, Kim Knight (Pastor's wife and woman responsible for this event) spoke.  She shared the definition of ROAR with us:


R- Radically Changed
Christ changes us completely, we are a new creation, set apart to be the light of Christ in the darkness. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here." 2 Corinthians 5:17
O- Original
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:13-14a
"We are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
A- Authentic Love
God loves us with an authentic love.  He comes to love us lavishly. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 
R-Renew
God knows we get weary and worn out "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31


We have no power in which to save ourselves- we are dead with out Christ. But as Kerrie Roberts said so tweetably (as in I shared her quote on Twitter)- "The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, is here with us and can raise us from the dead."  And should we need a reminder from time to time of just how awesome God is then we can ROAR- because we are a new creation in Christ, originally made with works designed for us by God, who loves us with an authentic love demonstrated by the fact that He sent his son to die for us, and He will renew our strength when we hope in him!  Hallelujah- that right there was enough to end the conference!


BUT that wasn't all God had in store for us.  So even though I thought more sleep would have been better, I was back at our church after 5 hours of sleep to go to breakfast with my sisters-- and I was completely wrong about sleep being better than that.  It was such a joy to spend time getting to know three of my fellow sisters in Christ.  Seeing each other here and there and sharing in surface hi's and hello there's at church once (twice or even 3 times a week) is no comparison to sharing a meal with someone for an hour or so and having actual get to know you conversation. So as a plug- I highly recommend that you plug into a women's group or small group and/or make a plan to spend an afternoon just having coffee or chatting with women you may not know as well. God did create us to be relational... Okay end of that tangent. ;-)

When we arrived Saturday morning we were led in worship by Epicenter's praise band (who were so great) and Angela Thomas. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear her speak you have been missing out!  She is a homegrown NC girl, which of course makes her sweeter and easier to understand- haha ;-) and she has such a powerful testimony.  Plus she is hilarious and loves the Lord completely. She has many Bible studies, and though I personally haven't done one, they have been highly recommended by those that have.  She had many wonderful things to say, but I will share just one with you that stuck out to me, from Hebrews 12:1-2:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

We need to throw off the sins that can so quickly become traps and entanglers that keep us from living the Christian life fully and completely as God has called us to do.  That probably definitely will be an every day occurrence. We can't allow distractions to keep us from focusing our full attention on Christ.  In every part of our lives, we should be looking to glorify Christ.  EVERY part.  Not just at church. Another tangent- I find it interesting when people place an "extra good behavior" clause on church. "I can't wear that to church." or "Don't you be lying, you're at church"- Well if you can't wear it to church, you probably shouldn't be wearing it and how about don't lie anywhere?? Most of those comments I hear are said in jest... most... okay tangent over.  Seriously though, God has specific works that he has created for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) he even gave us gifts that aid in accomplishing the missions he calls us to (1 Corinthians 12). But if we let sin, however, small it may seem at first, grow and grow in our hearts, minds, bodies, it will become a hindrance that keeps us from fully accomplishing what God has set before us to accomplish, thereby withholding the glory God so richly deserves. 

So, even though you may have missed the ROAR conference, you don't have to miss out on the opportunity to be a sold out, child of God, who fixes your eyes on Christ and runs full throttle towards him with every fiber of your being- removing any obstacle that tries to keep you from Him- your Savior.  Your Redeemer.  The Lover of your soul.  Your Lord.  Your Bridegroom.  Your Friend.


Love in Christ,

Alyson

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Common Phrase

There is a phrase within a Christian's vocabulary that is probably one of the most used phrases I've ever heard or seen typed on a screen.  The intention for using the phrase is very important.  It can be genuine full of honesty and promise.  When said in this way it provides hope and comfort. But the phrase can also be said, I fear, as an empty platitude that rolls off the tongue (or typed by fingers) without a second thought. Or it is also the go-to phrase when there is nothing else to say.  And no, it's not supercalifragilisticexpealidocious, though that is also a word you say when you don't know what to say; the phrase is simply:

"I'll pray for you."

How many times have you heard those words in your life? We hear them typically when we are going through a difficult time, whether it's sickness or a death in the family maybe.  And just hearing that phrase can provide comfort, because though you already know that God knows your every care and need, and even though you may have also been praying that yourself, there is just something comforting in knowing that people care enough about you to pray those things for you as well.  Because prayer is a very powerful thing.  And it absolutely works.  The Bible is full of instances over and over of God's people praying powerful prayers and God faithfully answering them.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are told to "Pray without ceasing" because prayer is important.  I have to say my favorite instance of people praying is when I haven't even asked for it.  Just to have someone tell me that they have been praying for me, feels me with such love and gratitude.

But what about those times when we don't pray?  Let's be honest, how many times have you told someone you would pray for them and then you didn't...  I know, I've been there too.  You have every intention of actually praying for them, but you forget. The best cure for that is to pray even before you say that you will or right after you say it.  And even better, would be to actually say a prayer over the person right then! Pray over the phone, pray in an email, actually including them in your prayer can be such a comforting moment. 

But what about the times, when you just don't know what to say to someone who is just in a long stretch of blah.  Perhaps a few weeks ago when they first posted on Facebook about an issue they were having, you were one of the first people to comment and say, I am praying for you.  And maybe you really did.  But now it's 3 weeks later, a month later, 8 weeks later and they are still struggling with this issue plus another issue, plus another.  It's very easy at this point to say, I'm still praying for you and let that be it.  I want to say that I am not knocking prayer at all- as I've already said it is so powerful and so necessary.  BUT as Christians, we need to break away from our comfortable, easy noncommittal, surface relationships and dig deeper.  We need to be Jesus to others meaning we need to be meeting their needs.  Maybe they would benefit from a nice warm meal that they don't have to cook.  Or maybe they need some groceries, or money for bills, or the grass cut, or a babysitter.  Or maybe they just need someone to take them for coffee or lunch and listen.  Yes, they do need our prayers, but they also need our time.

Next time you are about to throw out the quick, I'll pray for you, pause for a second and ask yourself if there is anything else they may be needing and then do that, too.  It's not always easy to "inconvenience" ourselves for others, but people were never an inconvenience to Jesus.  He stopped many times in the middle of what he was already doing to speak to someone and/or heal them.  I'll admit to you that mercy and hospitality are not my spiritual gifts, but that doesn't excuse me from being the hands and feet of Jesus and giving mercy and hospitality to others.


Love in Christ, 

Alyson


**If you are here because you are looking for the Jamberry High School wraps, thanks for stopping by- you can find that information here: http://www.thecoveredlife.com/2014/09/jamberry.html 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hey, Aren't You...?


I grew up in a small town.  My parents grew up in the same small town.  And their parents, except one, grew up in the same small town.  I remember any time our family went anywhere, it seemed that my parents knew everyone.  And they do still know quite a lot of people in our small town. 

Any time I wasn't with my parents, it wasn't uncommon to see someone and hear the question, "Hey, aren't you Mrs. Worley's daughter?" My mom was a teacher at the local school for over 32 years, after all, so she definitely has many people who know her.  Or the question would be, "Hey, aren't you Billy's daughter?"  My daddy worked as a part-time policeman in the town for over 20 years and is a full time farmer, so he comes into contact with many people... though, I was always worried about the ones who knew him because of police work. ;-)  When I was a senior in high school my sister had a really bad accident that should have killed her, honestly, but through God's grace she is alive.  And as small towns go, everyone knew one of Billy and Grace's girls was in an accident.  So from then on, the question became, "Hey, are you the daughter that was in the car accident?"

It's all quite laughable really, but I smile and answer(ed) their questions, "Yes, I am" or "no, that was my sister."  And after talking to the person, I swell with pride at my family.  I love the roots that are so firmly planted in this town, that even though I moved away for a couple of years, I was still able to come right back, welcomed, as if I never left.  And though my sister was out of the country for four years and now lives out of state, she is still connected, because everyone knows that's where she is, and everyone asks when we're going to visit, or when she's coming home. 

When I started dating TJ, who is a Pastor, I prayed a lot before I really knew he was the one I wanted to marry.  He jokes that he knew before I did, and that may be true.  I wanted to know that if I married this man and God called us out of this town into another part of the state (or out of state), that I wouldn't resent TJ when we got there.  That I wholeheartedly felt not only that God was leading me to marry TJ, but also that God was calling me to be a Pastor's wife.

Obviously, God's answer was affirmative.  And since that time, a funny thing has happened.  Now the question I get asked most often is, "Hey aren't you TJ's wife?  I even went to a high school football game last night between my Alma mater and our big rival, and twice, someone came up to me and asked if I was TJ's wife!  And now thanks to my adorable son, I also get asked if I'm Bug's mom. 

But you know, I have no problem being known as my parents' daughter, or a sister to my sister, or the wife of my husband or the mother of my son.  Actually, I love it.  But what I love more than that is knowing that I am a child of God.  I am a joint-heir with Christ.  I am a daughter of the King.
 "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." Romans 8:14-17

As easily as people can identify me based on my family connections, I hope they can identify my connection with Jesus even easier.

What about you?

Do people know you are an adopted son or daughter of God?  Are they having to ask, "Hey, aren't you a Christian?" Ouch! 

"By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10
 "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples." John 15:8

Are you producing good fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?  Can people identify you as a Christian because they see these fruits in your life?

I truly hope that people can see me and say that's Billy and Grace's daughter/Holly's sister/TJ's wife/ Bug's mom AND she really loves Jesus.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

**If you are here because you are looking for the Jamberry High School wraps, thanks for stopping by- you can find that information here: http://www.thecoveredlife.com/2014/09/jamberry.html

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do We Always Have To Choose Sides?


A few weeks ago, I was startled by a Facebook post I saw by one of my favorite bloggers.  I am not mentioning names or entire details, but just suffice it to say that there was apparently some hurt feelings within a ministry that resulted in a split.  I was bothered by the post on Facebook, because it was in reaction to this taking place.  The person didn't bash the group or cuss them, but instead spoke of the injustice and the hurt she felt.  Now you may think that this is fine, since she wasn't actually being mean, but I disagree.  By posting any "reaction" or "response" at all that wasn't supportive or positive she drew a dividing line between the two ministries.  And because of that, people started choosing sides and started posting negative comments on one ministry page or the other- before they even knew the entirety of the story.


Ever since that day, I have just had this nagging feeling in my soul. This situation, the one in Ferguson, and many others that I have seen or heard of have just left me sad.  Sad that people are so quick to jump on board one side or another, many times without even knowing all of the facts.  And I started asking the question, do we always have to choose sides?  Is there always a right side and a wrong side?
"13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 
14 
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so." Joshua 5:13-15 (NIV)
We see in these verses that the commander of the army of the Lord was standing in front of Joshua.  Whether you believe that it was an early appearance of Christ or God himself, the fact of the matter was that Joshua was standing in the presence of God. And we see that Joshua asks the commander, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" And the reply was, "Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come."  Can you picture this?  I am sure Joshua expected the presence of God to say, "Your side, of course!"


One of the "lessons" I have learned in life is that, even though Jesus loves me, he also loves other people.  That's right, he loves that person you feel is out to get you. I believe we are too focused on ourselves; our lives revolve around us and our schedules (which is completely wrong).  We want to think that God is protecting only us and that He will smite our foes... but when we have these thoughts, we will never be able to actually see that God loves this other person, God forgives this other person, AND that we are to forgive this other person and we are to love them, too.

When we bring focus to ourselves we lose sight of Jesus, we stop acting like Jesus, and others stop seeing him in us.  So really there are sides to choose from, you can choose to act like Jesus or you can act like the world.  Joshua was asking the wrong question.  Our question shouldn't be whose side is God on, our question should be are we for God or against God?  Those are the "sides" in any issue.  Are we going to be Christians- "little Christs", acting like him, or are we going to act like the world.


Whatever situation arises, whether you are directly involved or not that is the choice you have to make.   When people disagree with you or maybe they just don't like you, that is not the time to "rally the troops" so people will choose you.  Ultimately, as Christians, we should realize that it's not about us.  Our focus should be on Jesus and pointing others to him.  Our allegiance should be to Jesus, not to people.  And should there be a need to voice an opinion in favor or against something, it should align with scripture and be saturated with prayer.

Ultimately our choice is to be for Jesus; to choose grace; to choose forgiveness; and to choose love.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

**If you are here because you are looking for the Jamberry High School wraps, thanks for stopping by- you can find that information here: http://www.thecoveredlife.com/2014/09/jamberry.html

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Jamberry

*UPDATE(2/10/2015)

Hey everyone, I want to use this page to share all of the custom wraps I have designed using Jamberry's Nail Art Studio.

Each sheet is $25.00 unless you order more than one, in which case they are $20 a sheet. (These are more expensive than the regular wraps because they are custom designed and there is a set-up fee associated with each order.) Each sheet does at least 2-4 Manis/Pedis.

If you are interested in any of these wraps, please email me at coveredlifeblog@gmail.com or if you know me personally you can shoot me a text, call, or personal Facebook message.





Neuse Charter

North Johnston

Princeton

Johnston County Homeschoolers

Christmas 

Easter 

These are the same sheet of wraps, I just flipped it so you could clearly see both the cross design and the "He is Risen."

If you are interested in any of these wraps, please email me at coveredlifeblog@gmail.com or if you know me personally you can shoot me a text, call, or personal Facebook message. Please be sure to share them with all of your friends and you can direct them back to this website: http://www.thecoveredlife.com/2014/09/jamberry.html
Or to my Facebook page: http://facebook.com/alysontamerjams



You can find the wraps that Jamberry currently offers, the Nail Art Studio (if you would like to design your own wraps) and a whole lot more on the Jamberry website:alysontamer.jamberrynails.net

If you are interested in joining Jamberry, please feel free to contact me, I would love to share my experiences with you.  Especially, since Jamberry helped pay for the majority of our Christmas in 2014!

And if you are interested in hosting a party, I am available to do Facebook parties (all online), in home parties, and virtual parties in a box, for those who may live a bit farther than I can travel! :-) 



Thanks for stopping by!

Alyson



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review: The Wonder-Working God:Seeing The Glory of Jesus in His Miracles by Jared Wilson

Photo Credit

From the very beginning of Jared Wilson's The Wonder-Working God: Seeing The Glory of Jesus in His Miracles, I was enthralled.  Wilson did such a great job of pointing the listeners (the copy I have is audio) to Jesus.  He read the Biblical account of the miracle then offered a thorough explanation that revealed numerous truths about the character of Jesus. And to aid in our understanding, he also offered  personal anecdotes throughout that I found helpful and interesting.

 I have been a Christian for many years and I have been in church my entire life, so I have heard many Sunday School lessons and sermons that reference any number of Jesus' miracles- feeding the five thousand, water to wine, raising the dead- I've even taught about them myself.  But this book goes beyond just a basic understanding of what took place during each event and explores the very nature of Jesus as he is performing the miracles.  These miracles that we have heard about for years and years lose the complacency with which we view them and instead they become amazing examples of an amazing God, so that our focus when reading about these miracles becomes about the miracle worker, and not just about the miracle.


 The book is read by the author, Jared Wilson who has an engaging voice.  And because Wilson narrates the book himself, you can hear the emotion in his voice through the reading of his personal stories as well as the love he has for Jesus Christ.  This book is for everyone who wants to know more about The Wonder-Working God, non-believer, seasoned believer, or new believer. I highly recommend this book and the audio version of it to everyone. For many people, audio isn't your thing, and that's perfectly fine. I didn't think it would be for me either, but I love it. I listen to it on the way to and from work. 

Already, last week I shared something I learned from this book while leading the devotion at our church's Women on Missions meeting.  And I've found myself referencing this or that in the book in conversations with my husband, who reminds me that he hasn't read it yet, to which I respond, "Well you really need to, because it is so good." 

And I say the same thing to y'all- you really need to read (or listen) to this book, because it is so good!

You can buy it here on Amazon or here on christianaudio.com

* I would like thank christianaudio Reviewer's Program for the audio version of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I'd love to hear from you: If you have read the book, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Monday, August 25, 2014

Music Monday- Only Jesus from Charles Billingsley

I am so excited to tell all of y'all about the Music Monday selection today: "Only Jesus" from Charles Billingsley.


Oh man, I have been listening to this CD non-stop since I got it.  It is seriously THAT GOOD! I was chosen to be part of the Launch team for this CD and as part of that we were asked to share items that were shared with us.  For example, there was a behind the scenes video that I shared of the recording of "Jesus, Only Jesus" that features Charles (of course) and Travis Cottrell, Guy Penrod and Michael O'Brien.

That right there was enough to make me super excited about this CD!  I've been a fan of Charles Billingsley's since my first Women of Joy conference in 2009 at which he led the worship.  He has such a rich voice.  And then there is Travis Cottrell who leads worship at the Living Proof Live events with Beth Moore and who was at Women of Joy the second year I went.  And I have to say that I follow both of these gentlemen on Twitter, so I feel like we're best friends anyway (not in a creepy stalker way, but because they share snippets about their lives that are humorous and also you can see that they both have such a heart for Jesus!)  And then Guy Penrod who sang with the Gaithers (who aren't my favorite, but my husband just LOVES them).  So all that on one song- that is just fantastic anyway- was very thrilling...

But now that I have listened to the entire CD, I have to say that every song is just SO GOOD!  There are the familiar ones "Jesus, Only Jesus", "Mercy Tree", and "10,000 Reasons" but even the ones I didn't know have been easy to pick up and are already becoming stuck in my head.  It feels very much like a worship service on my way to work now! ;-) 

These songs are saturated in the Gospel and have already offered encouragement to me as well as times of praise.

Only Jesus is available for pre-order today on iTunes, Amazon, and www.charlesbillingsley.com and will be released for direct purchase tomorrow!  I highly recommend you pick-up (or download) this CD and when you do, I'd love to hear from you! You can let me know what you think in the comments below.


Love in Christ,

Alyson


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Part 3- 12 Ideas For Saving Money



This is not the conclusion post to this series(though I wish it were) because we aren't out of debt.  When we reach that amazing freedom- I will share it with you.  But until then, I will offer a mini conclusion outlining some of the things we have been doing to save money and some of the resources we've used to get discounts and free items! 




1-Coupons- I know this word makes some people cringe- I used to be the same way.  Admittedly, there are some people who are ALL about the couponing and know all the ins and outs of it.  I don't. Basically, my dad saves the coupon inserts that come out in the Sunday Paper that he used to just trash and I sit down during my lunch break and "shop" through the coupons. And also we pass them around at work!  The coupons aren't like days of old where you bought 5 of the item so you could get 1 free, most coupons offer a savings of $.25 to $1 for purchasing one of the item.  Sure there are the save $0.50 when you buy 3- but if I don't need three of them then I don't clip it because I don't clip just to clip even if they are good deals.  If they aren't things we will actually use, then I skip them. I store my coupons in a cute organizer that my husband bought me at Food Lion.  And while I am filing them I go ahead and remove expired ones or move ones that are about to expire to the front- if we need them. I do not buy stuff just because I have a coupon unless we are in need of it soon. As I mentioned before- we don't have space enough to store a lot of bulk. I know $0.25 or $0.50 doesn't sound like much, but I have saved over $30 on a single grocery trip after all the coupons were scanned!


 2-Moneysaving Apps  Ibotta, SavingStar and Checkout 51 are similar to clipping coupons, except it is all kept in your app on your phone.  And if your store has a loyalty card like VIC or MVP, you can link your card to the SavingStar and Ibotta apps so when you purchase the items you have selected in the app, and scan your card at checkout, you get the savings!  But keep in mind that the savings aren't reflected at the time of purchase, they are "banked" in the app.  When you get $5 in Saving Star you can cash it in for a $5 Amazon gift card code or another option and in Ibotta when you get $10 you can cash it in for a $10 iTunes gift card code (you can also do Starbucks, Regal Movies, and PayPal).  And if you are shopping at a store without a discount card, you can submit a picture of your receipt, like you do with Checkout 51.  Ibotta and SavingStar also have other ways, you can "shop" and save not just for grocery items but with online shopping and other stores and items.  What I love about this is that we love Amazon and iTunes, and now we can shop there for free!

3-Helpful Organizational Apps-
A:
Our Groceries- Basically, it's a grocery list- I know paper and pens do still exist.  But for me- I (pretty much) always have my phone.  Pen and paper- I lose or forget at home.  But with this app, I can just open it on my phone and type in items as I think of them that we need.  Then I check my coupon stash and take out the coupons of items I'm buying either putting them in my wallet or holding them in my hand, so I make sure I get the right thing.  And as you tap the item in the app it gets crossed off.  Another great feature is that my husband has it on his phone, and they are synced so if he adds or deletes something it shows up on mine. Occasionally, we have gone shopping together, so this has worked well in our divide and conquer- get it and get gone approach to shopping!  The best benefit to this, is that it decreases my splurge purchases- that cost extra money.  And if you pair this app with the money saving apps above and the meal planning described below- it really is so useful!

B: Key Ring app is a place to store all of your cards you keep on your key rings.  For example, CVS, Food Lion, Walgreens, Harris Teeter, Rite Aid, Sheetz, Hallmark... they can seriously bog down a key ring, but if you keep them in this app (take a picture of the front and back of the card) they can be scanned from here in the store.  Another great feature of this app, is it shows sale "papers" from stores in the area, and also special offers from businesses- from oil changes to savings at shoe stores or restaurants!  This is great if you are looking for an item and want to quickly see if a store has it on sale!

C- The Coupon Sherpa app- I don't make a purchase without consulting! There are MANY stores listed within for online and in store coupons and/or specials that are current.

4- Meal planning-  This is something I don't do enough, but when I actually do it, I really do save money.  It does take time and with a one year old and full time job, plus life, sometimes it just doesn't happen.  But the reason this is on the list is because during the meal planning phase, I discovered some quick meals that I can make with just a few ingredients.  Like tortillas for a Mexican pie or for a Parmesan chicken wrap that I discovered on Comfy in the Kitchen, Mix and Match Mama and/or Pinterest.  And the sauce used in the wrap can be used for spaghetti.  And I get the chicken strips to use in the wraps so we can use them for just a chicken strip dinner with a side of rice or something.  And there you go four meals with same main ingredients that you can use the leftovers for, instead of them being thrown out- which I think is the benefit to meal planning. And with meal planning, I use my Our Groceries app to list all the ingredients so I can make sure I don't forget something!
 
5-Pinterest- Is any list complete any more without Pinterest?! In addition to the recipes that I find from Pinterest, there are also many tips for saving money, that link you up to money saving blogs - two of my favorites are Money Saving Mom and Passionate Penny Pincher! These websites exist with the sole purpose of saving money!  I also follow their pages on Facebook, so that in my daily perusal of Facebook, I can see the great deals, discounts and strategies they share each day as they post them!  And Pinterest also provides organization hints and tips for re-purposing items and do-it-yourself things which can save quite a bit of money in the long run.

6- Collecting Change- This sounds like a no-brainer, but my husband and I have jars in our bedroom where we put our loose change. I thought we would have to roll it and all that jazz but gone are the days of counting and stacking pennies and then rolling them and taking them to the bank- it's so easy now! We took the jar to a Coinstar machine at the grocery store and simply poured the change into it and it sorted and counted it for us.  And you can get cash back with a small fee, or you can get a gift card to numerous places including restaurants (we chose Amazon, of course) and there is no fee.


7- Online Surveys: I tried other survey websites, but decided to stick predominately with Pinecone Research-  This and other sites reward you for taking surveys.  Pinecone Research is a market research company that sends surveys about new products. You can choose to cash out or save up points- I am saving up for some Duke car mats! They send one to two surveys a month (so it's not a big earning venture) but it also doesn't take a lot of time. They have a wide assortment of items- movies, gift cards, and many other rewards in their catalog.  They only have enrollment a few times a year and should I get an email about that, I'll be sure to post the link here.  Another program similar to this is Swagbucks, though it isn't just a survey company, they reward you for watching videos and searching through their search engine.  Many people have had success with Swagbucks, I just don't have the time.

8-Rewards Programs- Huggies, MyCokeRewards, Kellogg's Family Rewards and many more companies have codes that are placed on their products.  It takes a few seconds to type in the code in the website and then you begin to bank up the rewards points towards free gift cards/products.  And some programs are available through texting- so in 5 seconds you can send a text with the code without having to log into the computer.  Admittedly, I'm not as diligent about this as I should be, but I just mention the opportunity because if you are a Coke-aholic like someone I know, then you could bank up some serious rewards very quickly!  And a lot of people use rewards from programs like these and Swagbucks to buy Christmas gifts.  Think of the amount of money you spend on Christmas each year- then think of the amount you could save by giving gifts or gift cards that you got for free!

9- Launch Teams- Launch teams are a group of people who are chosen to help promote a product.  You do have to apply for this opportunity, but so far I have been part of 3 launch teams- 2 for books and 1 for a CD. I have been sent a free copy of the books and CD just for my willingness to promote it on my blog and/or social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest).  I will be sharing more about the CD "Only Jesus" on the blog later, but I am so excited about it- and not because it was free!  I am excited about being on the launch team because I get it for free, but I would have bought it anyway!

10-Email Subscriptions- Just being willing to sign up for company's promotional emails has helped me earn a lot of percentage discounts, be notified of upcoming sales and even receive offers for free or discounted products(Carter's, Lifeway, Shutterfly, etc send 20% off and 30% off emails frequently).  For example from MyCokeRewards, Kellogg's Rewards, Burlington Coat Factory and Huggies I have received email offers for a free 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly.  Obviously you have to pay shipping, but I was able to make a yearbook of Bug's first year for less than $10 total- and it was only that much because I added extra pages!  And because I had additional book orders, I made a book for each set of grandparents!  I get it, you don't want your email filled with promotions-- well that's why I created a free gmail account strictly for those type of emails.  Any time I go into stores that ask for my email, or sign up for free products, or giveaways I use that email.  And because I know that that is the only email I get there, I can quickly go on my Gmail app every day and delete the ones that don't interest me and keep the ones that do!

11- Write Reviews- I have received 2 free audio books just for my willingness to share an honest review of it.  I love reading reviews before I purchase items, and was doing just that on Amazon, when I saw the statement, "I received a free copy of this book for my truthful and unbiased review from christianaudio.com."  I thought this sounded like a great idea!  Already, I was "purchasing" books for my Kindle whenever they were on the free list.  So I applied to be a reviewer with christianaudio.com- and I was accepted!  The beauty about this is I get to listen to these books on my way to and from work (45-50 min drive each way) and I am listening to Christian authors. Win!  
 12- Read Blogs- The majority of the items on this list I discovered on various blogs here and there.  Blogs are a great way to find out things.  There are blogs devoted to recipes and saving money, and there are also blogs that are about people's lives and adventures.  And yes there are a LOT of blogs.  But many partner together to do guest blog posts or host giveaways (I have won a book and a set of  scripture tattoos just by entering a giveaway).  It was through blogs that I found out about two of the launch team opportunities.  And all the apps I mentioned above were discovered by recommendations on blogs.  People can be a great source of information!  This is the main reason I wanted to write this post.  I know that I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination at saving money, but what I do know is that one or two of these ideas may be something you didn't even know was out there and may contribute to your saving money efforts or your inclination for getting free stuff!




So there you go, these are the things we have been doing to save money here and there and also get items for free.  I know there are so many more options and I'd love to hear them so please share them in the comments below.




You can read the other parts of this story here: Part 1- New opportunity and Part 2- Why We Care About Debt.


Happy Saving!

Love in Christ,

Alyson