Monday, January 31, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #29

Simply Love - how do we live out the trait that Jesus said is the greatest of these: Love.... in a world that doesn't value loving others above yourself, how do we go against the flow and show love to others.

Several years ago I read a book that was life changing for me. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman... it helped me to see giving and recieving love in a whole new way. I learned that not everyone needs words of affirmation like I do (that is my love language). Each person has a primary and a secondary love language. Loving a person in their love language helps us to fill their love tank.

I use this book and concept with all the couples that I do marriage counseling for. It can be revolutionary for a marriage. In fact I have not only used it in pre-marriage counseling but with couples who are having problems and it has changed their marriage.

But it is not just a romantic love, it works for everyone - children have love languages....ask anyone who has several children - they will tell you how different they are. One may be very much a cuddler, the next may need to know you think they are doing a great job. When we fill others love tanks they are better able to in turn love others.

The love languages include Words of Affirmation, Gift Giving, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Which is your love language? Which one is your spouse, your kids? Take a little time and find a love language test online to help you figure it out, or better yet - read the book - it is awesome!

This changed how I taught my students, and how I did ministry, and it makes a huge difference in my marriage to understand Joel's love language is not mine, it takes a little more effort but the more we feel loved the more connected we are as a couple.

Joy in Simplicity - #28

When I was in college I spent a lot of time studying and talking about exercise and physical fitness. Since I was a health and PE major that makes total sense. However one of my favorite things to talk about in the midst of all the Kinesology and Physiology was PLAY! The basic premise of the importance of playing.

Playing is a simple yet essential part of our life as humans. We need play to help us develop motor skills, to help us develop relationships. Play is not sports, play is not competition - though both of those things can be a part of play - they do not define play.

Today I want to encourage you to allow play to be part of you life. Play is not something that is limited to children, it is something that as adults that are so filled with deadlines and responsibilites - we need play all the more!

Tomorrow we are expected to get a big snow solution for the snow - PLAY - go outside and build a snowman - have a snow ball fight with your family - make snow angels. But take time to play! It is essential for our health and our well being!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #27

Today I want to talk about a must have. Which is kinda funny when so much of this blog series is about simplifying your life and getting rid of things. Today I want to encourage you to have something.... an "Encouragement Box."

What is it? For me it is an old cardboard box that I wrote on with a marker that says Encouragement Box - kinda crazy if you knew how much I love baskets and containers. But it is what it is. For other people it may be a pretty decorated basket with a lid, or a modgepodged box. It is filled with letters, cards, and special notes of encouragement.

Why is it a must have???? Because we all have bad days. We all have those moments in life when we feel like we just aren't making a difference in anyone's life. It is those days that I pull out my box and just pick out a couple letters from people I love that have poured out their love for me through a letter or card.

I cherish that box! Well, I actually cherish the words in the box. Those words help me get through those days!

If you are more of a computer person, you may want to have a special folder on your computer for those special emails of encouragement. Two of my youth ministry friends have two very different names for those files. The one girl calls it her "Smile File" and the guy calls it his "I Suck" File - so opposite but yet for each of them it works - he calls it that because when he is feeling like he sucks he reads that and feel better about himself.

So what are you waiting for - start a box today!

Joy in Simplicity - #26

Have you looked in your medicine cabinet or bathroom closet lately.... I have (just in passing) and oh the stuff that I never use! I have facial scrubs, and lotions, and samples, and dried up nail polish, you name it I probably have it. I can't tell you when was the last time I purged those products.

I don't know why I always feel the need to save things just because someone gave it to me. I have lotions - from when I was a teacher at Clearfield - I hardly ever even use lotion except maybe during the winter time. I have great intentions it just never happens, they just sit there.

I will feel guilty no longer! If it is over five years old - I need to get rid of it! If I haven't used it I probably won't. Next time I get a smell that I am not fond of - instead of letting it sit on my shelf I just need to give it to someone who will enjoy it.

With my job I do a lot of traveling, so hotel samples have become something that I have collected. I figure I am paying for them I might as well use them. But I have established some rules.

Here are a couple ideas for your samples:

1. Put them all in one bottle, so you don't have 100 little bottles laying around.

2. Donate them to a local shelter - they are always in need of beauty supplies.

3. Soaps - I always collect my soaps and use them for my OCC shoeboxes! I take my own soap with me so I can collect all my samples while I am there then I just put them in my OCC tub.

4. As far as the other stuff in the closet - if I am not using it - I need to get rid of it!

5. While you are at it - check the expiration dates on your meds - if they are outdated - pitch them too!

Hope this will help you de-clutter your space! As soon as I am allow out of bed - I am all over this task!

Joy in Simplicity - #25

Today I thought I would do a nutritional simplicity blog..... as most people know by now. I am expecting! We are so excited! However due to a few minor complications I am on bed rest. But it will be so worth it. Tomorrow will be 8 weeks! I am hoping to start up my MS, baby, and me blog again soon. Maybe today - stay tuned for that.

Anyway - one of the things that tell you to do when you are pregnant is to drink lots of fluids - in fact - they want you to drink 64 oz. at day! Wow that is a lot! I must admit that for the first couple weeks I totally failed at that one. But I have turned over a new leaf and it makes a difference for sure.

I think in general we just don't drink enough water every day. I am going to be honest I would much rather a raspberry Ice Tea any day than water, but I have gone almost a whole month with not one Rasp. Ice Tea (because of the caffeine) I think I may have been a bit addicted - I love the stuff. But water is better.

How are your water drinking habits? A regular person (meaning non a pregnant person) needs to also drink 64 oz. of fluids a day...gosh where have I been - I have rarely ever done that, but to be honest I think it is making a difference and I am losing weight - just a few pounds which is healthy don't worry.

Consider the water challenge - try to see if you can for one week drink 64 oz. of water a day. I am guessing you will feel better, and save money all at once. Simple yes - life changing you better believe it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #24

One of the things that I was never really good at was reading. I always did so poorly on those reading comprehension tests. In college I read my first Novel....I had to ask for an extension, which went against every part of my being, but since then I have grown to appreciate books. I don't spend a lot of time reading books for fun, I read for information, and to gain knowledge on different topics. Since I have begun to do retreats, my reading has definately increased and for that I am grateful.

So today I want to encourage you to find a good book and take some time over the next couple weeks to read it. Reading helps us practice the art of being still. In a world that is always rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off.

A couple simple tips...find a good reading spot, a chair in the corner, near the fireplace snuggled up on the couch. Pick a book you already have on your shelf that you just never got to read yet. Because let's be honest we all have a stack of those books. If there is a book you are dying to read - ask a friend if they have it before borrowing it. If you are an electronic book reader - they now have programs where you can trade books with friends for free.

What book will you read next?

Joy in Simplicity - #23

Working on catching up with my blog series. I am committed to finishing this series! And hope that I can do some catching up today!

Today I want to challenge you to live your life with a signature of significance! But before I go on I want to give credit where credit is due. I didn't come up with that title or this idea, it is straight from the mouth of Louie Giglio, but more importantly straight from the heart of God.

On Sunday when I was skipping church once again (bedrest) I decided to check out a sermon by Louie and found this one. It was so awesome - I even took notes as I was laying in bed. It's main theme from scripture was the passage in Col. 3 that says - whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord! (that is a bit of a paraphrase)

The premise of the whole talk was that whatever you do - you should be excellent at it, whether you are a plumber, a dancer, a pastor, a housekeeper, a housewife.... be awesome at it! Because at the end of the day our lives are to point to Jesus Christ. And to quote Louie "excellence always builds a platform for us to share Jesus Christ with the whole world"

Your platform may be cameras and a microphone, it may be a conversation with a client asking you why you choose to integrity over dishonesty, in a world that rarely values the first.

So my challenge to you is to simply be excellent at what God has called you to be! Remember excellence is not an act, it is a habit! Live it!!! Find Joy in it!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #22

This blog will focus on the importance of dates! Even for you married folks! And if you aren't married friend dates are important too!

I was finally working on my Wedding Shower scrapbook and one of the cool things that my friends did for me was to have everyone fill out a card with words of encouragement and marriage advise. There was some great wisdom on those cards! But one of my favorites from my friend Shoots was to continue to go on dates!

The danger in marriage is that we become too comfortable going through life co-existing. We forget the romance and the fun of when we were dating, because now we see the person everyday and we know almost everything about them (though it often doesn't make sense) and we become complacent in our relationship.

I can't for a second imagine that that is how God created relationships to be. Our marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church. Though it is awfully weird thinking of Jesus taking the church on a date; Jesus invested in the church and gave up his life for us! That is beyond a date.

All this to say, that if we are to have a thriving marriage, we need to have dates. Dates don't even have to cost money! Some of my favorite dates with Joel were ones that we just spent time together.

Here are some ideas of some of my favorite date nights/days

1. Christmas light tours - I can think of a better way to spend time together than at Christmas time enjoying the lights - sorry you will have to wait until next year to try this one.

2. Games Night - lay in bed together and play games....okay before you get the wrong idea - I have been on bedrest for the last couple weeks, so Joel grabbed a desk of cards and we just layed in bed and played cards together.

3. Picnik - inside or outside - Last year for my birthday - Joel and I grabbed some subs and headed up the top of the mountain at the Alter and had a picnik - it was so fun and cost us little.

4. Other's Choice - Growing up I never was really into theater - I mean really I grew up in Galeton we didn't even have a movie theater at the time. So it was never something I got into, but my husband on the other hand - he loves the theater - so one night while on vacation I called up a dinner theater and made reservations for us. He loved it - they even called him up on stage. I had a great time because I knew he loved it.

5. Matthew Beish Questions - a date night can be as simple as sitting on the couch together spending time without the TV on. You might be wondering what this one is all about - well I had a dear friend from Clearfield named Matthew Beish and he asked the best questions! They were deep and thought out and there was no way you could just answer them with a yes or no. So take some time with your spouse and ask some deep questions that require thinking and talking - it will be well worth your time.

I hope that you are able to take some time in the next couple weeks to have a date night - if you aren't having at least one monthly you need to make that a priority - and if you have children - make sure they see the importance of a date night for you even as married people. Your kids are watching - be a great example setter!

Joy in Simplicity - #21

Well as you can see I am a little behind - but hopefully I will catch up today. It was one of those weekends. But you know - I talked about the importance of rest - so I took myself up on that. Anyway - this was to be Friday's blog so here goes.....

Family Night - when was that last time you had a family night - that means - not leaving the house to taxi your kids to a game, or to a social event. It is not everyone being home but in their own rooms doing their own thing. It is quality time together. You don't even have to leave the house (which saves on money too!)

I have always admired the Stewart family - friends of mine from Clearfield. They would have Stewart Family fun night and they would all stay home and play games and laugh together.... there was always a part of me that wished I was in the Stewart family because it sounded so fun. In fact they still have Family Fun night even though there children are grown! I love the concept and I want that for my family.

When I was in Youth Ministry I would cancel Youth Group once every semester for the soul purpose of Family Night - I encouraged the families to do something together, to build memories.... I am not sure if any of the families actually did that but I sure hope they did. It is of utmost importance!

Here are some fun ideas!

1. Fondue Night - A great tradition of the Dittmar Family - loved that they did that together.

2. Game Night - pick some games that will get you talking and laughing together!

3. Outdoor Adventure - find a place outdoors (this is a summer activity) to go as a family, create memories together.

4. Dinner and a movie - Have each member of the family pick their favorite food and have all of them that night - even if they don't go together.

What are some things you have done as a family - would love to hear you share your ideas!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #20

Today I want to share with you a simple, yet one of the most life changing verses in the bible. Now some of you may read this verse and disagree with my statement about life changing, however I will explain myself and hopefully you will understand. This is a verse to memorize - put it on your dashboard of your car, put it on your mirror in dry erase marker, and save it in your heart, you will never know how handy it will come in.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" Rom. 12:12

How simple these words but how profound of an impact they have had in my life. Three simple commands on how to respond to situations in life. First "be joyful in hope" - when Christ is in our life we have the greatest hope, we have something amazing to look forward to. Hope is trusting that something better is to come - even when we can't see that in our immediate future.

"patient in affliction" - there is no way we can escape hard times - they will happen to use, but this verse calms me down, it helps me put things into perspective. I am not alone in my affliction - Christ walks with me through it all.

Finally - we are to be "faithful in prayer" that part has always been my kick in the butt. I am always faithful to complain, faithful to be upset, faithful to do everything but pray - so I am thankful for this simple reminder that whatever the situation - I need to bath it in prayer!

It is my prayer that today you will find joy in the simple yet profound words from Romans 12:12.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #19

As I promised today's blog will focus on some simple tips to help make your pet happy and well trained. Most of these tips come from our (Tucker and Mine) experience with Fred the Dog trainer. We have taken several classes from him, and as a whole I would say that Tucker is a very well behaved dog for the most part - he has a few things that we still need to work on, but it is mostly our fault for not keeping at him with with training.

I believe that the more well trained your dog is, the more your life will be filled with joy and peace, because seriously - who likes to constantly be yelling at their dog for doing something wrong.....not me.

Here are some tips!

1. You are the owner! Always be sure that you are calling the shots. You should always be leading, keep your dog to the inside when you are walking.

2. Tell them once! This was the hardest part for me - if you want him to sit - you tell him once, and if he doesn't do it - you do it for him. If you tell him to come - he should come - if not you give a nice swift pull to the leash, practice this over and over again.

3. Dogs are smart - they can learn over 200 commands - but keep them simple. Off means get off the furniture, or off the person - down means lay down on the ground - be sure you are clear and don't mix these two commands. The word NO is vague and meaningless to dogs - it must be specific - I only use no along with a command - NO Bite! Then I grab his mouth and hold it until he settles (that was a puppy thing).

4. Crate Train them - I always felt badly leaving Tucker in his crate because he couldn't run around the house when I was gone, so I thought I will let him try to be out on his own at 6 months - big mistake if you have a Lab - he ate two couches and two pairs of glasses - not all at the same time, but at different times. He is great now and hasn't used his crate since he was one, but it took some training and hard work. Some dogs actually love their crates - it is their home.

5. Training tools - be sure to have a prong collar (it doesn't hurt them, but it will make walking a joy), a can of cheese wiz (a little squirt will be a great training tool when they do something correctly, then as they master things just give them a "good boy".

6. If your dog seems to be a little aggressive with his food put your hand in the bowl as he is eating it - it will help him be broken of that habit. If he spazzes out when you are working on commands with him you can lay on him (if he is big like Tucker) or hold them down until they relax and submit - you will feel it in their posture.

7. Spray Bottle with water and a little dish soap - don't worry - it will not hurt them - but this will be your best friend - if they jump on someone or something they are supposed to - spray them in the face. If they are barking or whining - spray them in the face. If they are chewing on something they aren't supposed to - spray them! You get the point - we don't even have to spray Tucker anymore we just get the bottle out and he stops.

8. Dog Food - so many people feed their dogs people food - our trainer says no way - first it then encourages them to beg for food when people are eating. It is also not good for their systems. The only people food that our trainer allows is carrots, peanut butter, and an occasional ice cream treat! (Good thing we own a ice cream diner) Also Fred says - Rawhide is not good - not sure why but that's what he said, so we stay away from them. I guess I could google it, I just figured he knew what he was talking about!

Hopefully these tips will help you simplify the stress of owning a dog! I am so thankful now that we did all the hard work to train Tucker. Good luck with your dogs!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #18

Today I want to talk about the joy of pets! Some of you out there are not pet lovers and that is okay but there are others that would say their pet is part of their family, and others that land somewhere in the middle.

For me pets are part of the family....when I got sick a few years ago I was single and my pets were my companions, Tucker was there when I went through my first steroid treatment, he was only 13 pounds at the time, so he easily snuggled up with me on the couch. He is now 90 pounds and still snuggles up with me when I am not feeling well, or just when I need a good foot warmer.

My kitty Boo was the same way - she was a cuddler, the last couple months have been a hard since she was 17 years old and failing in health. She passed away last week after a long life! I miss her, because she was also a cuddler. She would lay by my side with Tucker at my feet.

I think God gives us pets to bring us comfort, because no matter what happens, they are faithful, they are constant, you can correct them one minute and the next they are right back by your side ready to love you again.

Pets have theraputic value as well, if they didn't hospitals and nursing homes would not allow them to come through their doors. Have you ever thought about training your pet to be a therapy pet? Tucker is trained - he just has to take his test!

Today I encourage you to be thankful for your pets! I know for me - my pets bring me great joy! (Lots of hard work too - but well worth it) Join me tomorrow for some tips to help you have a well behaved pet, tips directly from Tucker's Obedience classes!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #17

Today I will conclude the three day series within a series of the 30 healthiest foods. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas for recipes with these items, and your feedback. Without further waiting - here are the final 10 items on the top 30.

Avocados -Funny story about these - a few years ago when I was down at Liberty taking a class someone was sharing pieces of their avocado - first of all I didn't know what it was then I mentioned I had never tried - they were appalled (we don't have avocados in Potter County - give me a break) Anyway they are high in fiber and lower your cholesterol. Cut one in half and drizzle with soy sauce, lime juice, and sesame seeds for a great side dish

Black Beans - magnesium and helps protect your nerves and muscles (sounds like they would be a good fit for MS patients - too bad I can't eat beans) Toss with olive oil, cumin and salt and spread out on a sheet - bake 450 for ten minutes - makes a great snack!

Sweet Potatoes - the dark the color the better - filled with beta carotene. Steam cut up sweet potatoes with cut up apples for a great side dish.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - you had to know that this one was coming especially since most of their recipe ideas include it. Sometimes my hubby will just eat spoons full of this because it is so good for you. It reduces your risk of heart disease. Idea - slowly heat the oil, mix in some herbs and add to pastas, breads, or vegetables.

Edamame - (never heard this word in my life) This is a baby soybean filled with fiber and protein. Puree these with some olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice for a quick hummus recipe.

Chard - green leafy vegetable. Filled with fiber, calcium, vitamin B, and beta carotene. Sautee it with garlic and add to your favorite whole grain pasta.

Kidney Beans - (I see a bean theme happening - I wish I could stomach them, especially since they are so good for you) One of the richest antioxidant foods! Make a quick salad with beans, olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro.

Oranges - finally one I can stomach! (My friends tell me I have a middle school palette, I just say that I am a super taster so foods are more intense to me) Great source of Vitamin C - can help the body burn fat. Roast some oranges with your salmon for a little change.

Spinach - I have grown to like this over the past several years. Filled with Iron and folate. The magazine suggests putting a handful into your smoothies - but I am going to suggest Spinach Totellini soup - it is awesome - let me know if you would like the recipe!

Pumpkin - what a great one to end on! I love pumpkin! Helps keep your skin healthy and the potassium helps lower your blood pressure. I love to make pumpkin butter - make it almost the same ways as apple butter. Check online for some easy recipes.

Hope you enjoyed the list! Now let's simplify our diet by choosing to eat healthier! Have a great day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #16

Yesterday I started to share with you the list of the top 30 most healthy foods - today we will do the second ten on the list.

Almonds - keeps your blood vessels healthy and it lowers your cholesterol - chop them up and add them to a salad or to a grain side dish - also my sisters like to eat them raw - try it out!

Eggs - The whites are filled with protein and the yolks are filled with vitamins B12 & A - you can't go wrong with ways to use eggs - don't be afraid to experiment! I love making Jana's cheesy egg surprise (scrambled eggs with a twist)

Nonfat Greek Yogurt - Filled with probiotics and 8 grams of protein! Mix with some cilantro, cumin, and cucumbers and serve with grilled chicken

Chicken Breasts - Low in fat - high in protein! The recipes are endless for Chicken! We enjoyed some really good stuff today - ask Michele for the recipe!

Wild Salmon - Filled with Omega 3 - wild because it has less toxins - I am not a big fish person but I have had salmon on the grill and it was a hit with all that dined that evening!

Sardines - (I just can't eat these but maybe you can!) Rich in protein, Omega 3, Vitamins B12 & D - chop them up with some cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley - Yuck but maybe it will work for you!

Kale - Another item on the list I have never used or eaten. Leafy green filled with Vitamin C. Try making Kale chips tear leaved apart toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper - lay on a cookie sheet and 20 - 30 minutes at 300 degrees and there you go!

Kiwi - Can you believe that I have never tried these - I just can't get past the furry outside - I am going to try them this month though - I promise. More Vit C than oranges and more Potassium than bananas - Slice thin and drizzle with honey and toasted coconut.

Blueberries - packed with fiber and anti-oxidants. A great treat along with some frozen yogurt and sprinkled with cardamon.

Broccoli - Vitamin C power house - 80% of your RDA in one serving. Toss with olive oil, garlic, and pepper - roast at 375 until tender and sprinkle with parmesan cheese!

Come back tomorrow to hear the final ten healthiest foods!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #15

"When you don't use it - you lose it"....What I am referring to is that I used to be a health teacher, and I spent a lot of time educating my students on healthy choices for their health - one of those areas was nutrition. I saw it as a very valuable topic that needed to be shared. To be honest we simply are not a healthy society..... I think we have good intentions - we desire to be healthy but we get a lot of mixed messages as far as our health goes. I am going to try to avoid giving you a lot mixed messages, I simply want to give you a list of some healthy foods that if you incorporated into your diet on a daily basis could make a lasting difference in your heath and that as we all know will bring us great joy!

Over the next three days I will be bringing you 10 of the top 30 healthiest foods. I will tell you why they are healthy and give you an idea of how to use them. I am going to be honest - there are a couple of these items I have never heard of or used in my life, so this is an education for me as well. The information from these three days will be taken from Real Simply Magazine.

1. Skim Milk - contains 9 essential vitamins - take a break from your morning coffee and warm a glass of skim milk with a dash of cinnamon.

2. Mushrooms - I love these!! I was thrilled to see them on the list - if only Joel felt the same way. Helps to regulate estrogen levels for women, and when substituted for meat can slash 400 calories. A favorite recipe would be Chicken Marsala

3. Whole Grain Pasta - note that is not multi grain - just because there are several different kinds of grain does not mean they are whole grains! Toss with some pesto and lemon juice!

4. Walnuts - a great source of Omega 3s - they actually highly recommend these for pregnant women. Great on salads and with your morning cereal or just put a few in your lunch box to munch on.

5. Peanut Butter - All Natural - I am going to be honest - I am a Jif person and I have tried the natural and just can't do the texture but if you can - go for it! Great when mixed with soy sauce and brown sugar to make an Asian stir fry

6. Oatmeal - Helps keep your cholesteral down. Try to mix in some olive oil and parmesan cheese for a change to your normal breakfast routine

7. Barley - To me this sounds like a boring grain but it is great for you. It is high in fiber! Sautee with Mushrooms and Sherry vinegar for a great side dish

8. Quinoa - another one that would not come to mind - ever - great plant based protein for vegetarians. Sauteed with dill and lemon juice

9. Lentils - I will be honest (once again) not a bean person - a protein powerhouse as the article states. Great in soups or salads if you are bean person.

10. Bulgur - that sounds like a stomach problem - made from steamed wheat. Filled with potassium, calcium, and vitamin B. Cook it like oatmeal and add some honey and chopped nuts!

There you have the first ten of the top 30 healthiest foods I would love to hear how you use these superfoods for your family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #14

Today I thought I would give you a break from my daily writings and recruit an expert to tell you how to get the deals and save money. A dear friend of mine Christiana Maurer is the queen of saving in fact last year alone she saved $1600 on grocery shopping. Now you might think, that is crazy I can never do that - it may be crazy but if you can take just one of her tips and save $100 isn't it worth it. So I asked her if she would share some tips with you. And this is what she had to say.....

1. See the Big Picture

One of the easiest ways to save is to be aware of how much you are spending. A gallon of milk here and a loaf of bread there can really add up. Keep track of your purchases for a month to see how much of your money is actually being spent at the store. Then you can set a realistic goal for saving.

2. Planning

If you don’t purchase the Sunday newspaper, you will want to start. While it may seem that you are spending money to save money, it is a valuable tool to help you be an informed shopper.

Spend some quality time each week with the store circulars, coupon inserts, and your recipe collection. Plan your eating and shopping around what is on sale. If there is a coupon available to match with the sale – even better!

3. Tracking

If you are just getting started with your savings journey, keep track of the date and sale price for items you use often. If you do this long enough you will begin to see patterns develop for how often items are put on sale. You will also be able to differentiate between mediocre and rock-bottom sale prices.

What am I talking about? Maybe this will help! A current mediocre sale on cereal is 2 for $5 (or $2.50 a box). However, every few months, cereal goes on sale 3 for $5 (or $1.67 a box). Combine that with a coupon and you are on your way to some super savings.

When an item (that you know you will use AND that has a long shelf life) goes to its rock-bottom price – STOCK UP!!!

4. Highway Robbery

Just kidding – but that is what my husband calls playing the drugstore game.

I could explain how this works in detail, but that would make this tip r-e-a-l-l-y long! If you want to know how it works, check out She breaks it down for each of the major drug stores under her Store Deals section.

Just to illustrate how effective this can be, I haven’t paid more than $1 each for toothpaste, razors, shaving gel, or most hair care products in a very long time.

5. Bravery

Bent-n-dent stores – You can find some great deals here. (If you are in the central PA area think Surplus Outlet, Wengers, Whispering Pines, L&L) But… be careful! Watch those dates, and don’t assume that just because the product is in a store like this that it is cheaper that anywhere else. If you have been keeping track of those sale prices, you’ll be in great shape.

Store-Brands – If your family is brand-loyal then use those coupons and sale price combinations. But if you are willing to branch out, the store brand is often cheaper than the brand name, even with the sale and coupon. My husband and I have been very presently surprised by Aldi products. Most times their things are just as good, if not better, than the name brand grocery store products but at a fraction of the cost. (Let me give a shout out to their 5-Cheese Texas Toast – best I’ve ever had.) Also, they have some great prices on fruits and veggies!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #13

Do you ever feel like there is not enough time to make homemade meals every night of the week. Many of you are juggling a full time job, being a mom, a wife and also a taxi service. It can be overwhelming when you think - what should I make for dinner.... will I have enough time to get it all done.

One of the things that I have realized is that if I plan ahead - even if it doesn't work out as planned I feel much calmer. So here are a few tips that have helped me.

1. I cook some staples ahead of time. Since Joel is on a special diet he is eating a lot of hard boiled eggs, tuna salad, chicken salad and bacon. So sometimes I take one of my slow nights and just do a mass cooking - I make my bacon on a stone in the oven - 1/2 hour and woallla - crispy bacon without the major mess. Then I have lunch supplies for the whole week.

2. Plan a menu - even if you don't stick to it exactly at least you have a starting point - it will also help for those indecisive people (you know who you are) and it can save lots of money while shopping.

3. Get rid of your stash - look in your cupboards while planning your menu and check out out what staples you have tons of - try to incorporate them into your meals.

4. There are tons of great recipes on line or in your cookbook cabinet that you have never tried - take an evening that you are watching TV and look through a cookbook to come up with some ideas for new meals that your family will love - put a sticky note on the page or copy it onto a note card.

5. Sign up for my monthly newsletter at to get a new recipe each month. There is a lot of variety from cookies, to marinades, to meats - all favorites at the Snyder house!

I hope this gives you some good ideas of ways to simplify the stresses of meal planning! Happy Cooking everyone.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #12

Today will be short and sweet - including just a few ideas to help save a little fun money for you and your family.

1. Collect your change - it is amazing how quickly your change can add up - in about 18 months Joel and I were able to collect over $600 in change (we did throw some pills in the change jar as well when they were just laying around, but it was a great vacation fund.

2. When you go out to eat - order water instead of a drink and put $1.00 in a canister for each water you drink when you are out - you are saving money as you eat out but you are also saving money in a jar or other location that can be used for one of your home improvement projects.

3. Simply save - have designated accounts for different things you are saving for - such as a car, furniture, or a computer. Just putting a few dollars away each month will make a world of difference.

There you have it - three simple financial tips to help you simplify your life!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #11

As a woman - I get plagued by worries....and it seems like these last two weeks I have become the queen of worrying. I know that it isn't good, but it just seems to take over my life in different stages.

I can't experience joy or simplicity when my mind is constantly thinking about the "what ifs" - It is like I am trapped and can't break free from those worries.

I want to break free from worrying about things, from fearing that things aren't going to turn out like I want them, I fear the worst in situations (which makes me a nervous passenger) - I have become captive to fear and worry.

Here are some words of encouragement to help you overcome the fears and worries, and live free from those emotional bonds that keep us from living the life of freedom that God created for us to live.

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." - 2 Tim. 1:7

Reminding myself of this scripture helps me to focus on the power that come from Christ and not the fear or worry that I have.

I also use the stop technique - I actually say the word stop out loud to redirect my focus when my mind continues to be plagued by my negative, worry, or fear filled thoughts.

I have also shared my fears with several friends - though it is hard to admit that this is a struggle for me - it is great to know that I have some dear friends in my life that will help to encourage me and pray for me as I become victorious in my mental war with fear.

If you have strategies that help you deal with worry and fear - please share them. Today I am chosing to live a life that is filled with Trust and Freedom and not one of fear! That simply brings me great joy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #10

I just realized that this is my 300th post! I am so proud of myself - doing these series has definitely helped me become a better blogger, now I just hope that someone is actually reading them.

One of the cool things that our church is doing this year, is a Verse a month memorizing. I am excited about it because I feel like it is a simple task - only having to do one a month is realistic for me, and we are doing it together as a church.

So today I want to invite you to memorize along with RMC and the Snyder family. This month we are memorizing Galatians 5:13

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Some tips for memorizing:

1. Write it out five times.
2. Post it on several locations - door, fridge, mirror
3. Memorize it along with others to help you be accountable.
4. Write out the first letter of each word to help you remember the order
5. Say your verse daily before going to bed at night, & when you get up in the AM

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #9

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on that seventh day he rested from all his work" - Gen. 2:2

Why do we feel guilty when we sit down to rest - even God the creator of the Universe rested! Our world has programmed us to feel as though we are falling short if we aren't running around 24/7. That is just not how God created this whole thing to work.

I would suggest that if we would take more time to rest and relax on the "seventh day" we would be much happier employees, more relaxed parents, and more healthier for that matter. Our society tells us that if we want to be good at something we need to be constantly working to get better.

God tells us that if we want to be good at something - more importantly our relationship with him, we must "Be still and know" (Psalm 46:10) Now I know that I may be stepping on people's toes here - but it seems as though there is no day that is sacred anymore. There are games on Sundays now that kids are playing in - what ever happened to having a day off! The kids need it, we as adults need it - God needed it - or at least showed us by his example.

I know some of you must work on a Sunday - I totally understand that - when you work for a Church Sunday is your busy day - then you must be faithful to take another day as your off day! Mark an X on your calendar meaning you are going to rest that day, so something relaxing and enjoying.

If you are a parent, you may be saying well that is impossible with our schedule - then you must be strong enough as a parent to say no to somethings - show your children by example what it means to have a day of rest.

Please understand that we have not perfected this day of rest thing - but we have improved dramatically and it has changed our lives, and all aspects of our health (mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual)

Are you resting today? If not what day will you take to rest????

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #8

I love the movie - Pay It Forward - the concept is just so enlightening in a world filled with "If I do something for you, I expect something in return!" The movie is about a little boy that comes up with the idea as a school project - there are some adult themes in the movie so please preview it before you let your children watch it.

The reason I am talking about that movie is that yesterday I was on facebook and I was reading a post by my friend Janel - it said Pay It Forward in 2011 - and basically the premise was that the first 5 people that left a comment would get a homemade gift from Janel, with the understanding that you would then make the same post and do that for 5 others yourself. In less than an hour I was seeing several people posting this message.

Not only is this fun - is is simple - and it brings me joy to make to things and I love giving gifts away, so last night as I was laying on the couch feeling a little unmotivated I got out my croqueting and started on my projects for my commenters. The really cool thing is that two people that commented were students of mine from about 13 years ago (wow that seems like yesterday but sounds like a lot of years)

Anyway - today I challenge you to Pay if Forward - do something for someone else expecting nothing in return. This also goes along perfectly with our sermon series at church this month on serving!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #7

Can you believe we are already one week into the new year! Did I mention I love the new year, and I love the first real snow of the year - some of you may be thinking really the first - yup - the first snow that stayed on the ground while I have been in Richfield. It makes the dead of winter look so much nicer. Simple Beauty!

What is beautiful to you? To me nothing screams beauty more than nature itself, but for you it make be art, it may be a building, it may even be a person on the outside or on the inside.

I think too often we get caught up in the craziness of life, and the rush to get from one place to another and we miss out on the simple beauty around us. One of my favorite things to do with my husband while we were dating was to just drive around on the back road and enjoy God's creation (really we kept it PG - I promise) Joel knows how much I just love creation and nature, the simple beauty of a leaf as the vains crawl in all different directions and each one is intrinsically made differently can be breathtaking.

Today - slow down and notice the beauty - blog about it, facebook about it, journal about it, but please tell someone about it - it is in the sharing of the beauty that we find that we encourage others to also slow down to see the beauty! What captured your eye today?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #6

How are you doing with reducing being stuffified (which is now my new favorite word)? I am going to admit it is a little hard to decludder while your house is under construction - but I promise when we have a kitchen again - it is going to be un-stuffified!!!

One areas of our life that we often do not think about being cluttered is our emotions, but since working in the counseling field for the last two years I am realizing daily how much our emotions play a huge role in what we think, what we feel, and also the decisions we make.

Today I would like to look at the emotion of Love. So much of what I do is counseling for married couples or getting married couples. Our counselor said one of the most profound things to me when we were preparing to get married. She said - if you base your marriage on the feeling of love - you will fail..... I was shocked when I heard her say that - love is to be the foundation of your marriage, your friendships, your family....but then she went on to explain it. The feeling of Love is a roller coaster - sometimes you feel like you love that other person and other days you may not "feel" it - Love instead is a commitment to remain loyal, faithful, despite your feelings. Love is caring for the person even when you don't particularly like them!

So my challenge to you today - is basing your love not on a feeling but on a commitment - it is amazing how just changing your mindset, your understanding of the word, can change your marriage, your friendships, and your relationships.

You can take it even to another level and look at it in relationship to the church. People change churches almost as much as people change marriages these days. Joining a church is a commitment - you will not always like it, but it is committing to working through things to make the body of believers better, more honoring, more faithful to God. Please don't get me wrong I think there are extenuating circumstances, but in general I think we are too quick to leave most relationships when they get hard, but remember love is a commitment not just a feeling!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #5

571 - that's a big number... it is the number of emails in my inbox! AHHHHH!!! Okay now that I have gotten over that! My inbox seems to always be full, my mail box always seems to be filled, my floor seems to be filled with piles of papers. Mail everywhere!!! To me that is overwhelming and it simply sucks my joy every time I look at the pile! So today I am starting my Inbox/Mailbox empty adventure! (If you look at it as an adventure you are more likely to do it!)

Let's look at the mailbox first - junk mail - yuck! We get tons of it, catalogs, flyers, once they get out of the post office door then it goes to pile in my car or the house - no more! In the last month I have been sorting all my mail and only leaving the post office with mail that a bill or a personal letter. It helps in three ways - no temptation to buy something I don't need in a catalog, I can use that extra time to do something meaningful, and I have less of a pile at home!
Another idea is a system I learned from a YL friend - one touch mail! You get it, open it and take care of it immediately, whether that would be filing it, or paying it, or sending an RSVP (which by the way people have gotten horrible at in this culture) So - what change will you make in this area.

Now to the email - I think I made a mistake when I got all my facebook updates sent to my email - have of my inbox is filled with I am thinking - undo that! Then I am going to take an hour (okay maybe two) to go through my inbox and if I need to save it - it goes in a folder, if I need to delete it - off to the trash can it goes - my goal today - INBOX ZERO!!! But it can't just be today - it has to be a pattern change - so maybe I am going to plan a day each week to be my inbox zero day!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #4

Have you ever seen the veggie tale movie - Madame is about stuff and she goes to this place called Stuff Mart (can you think of a few stores that may fit this category, not mentioning any names) and she keeps buying stuff until her tree house gets so full that it is catapulted out of the tree - okay honestly it has been a long time since I have seen the movie so I am sure if this is just how I remember it or if it is fact - but the point is - we are stuffified! Yup I just made that word up - but don't it apply?

Stuff weighs us down, whether it is emotional stuff, physical stuff, maybe it is even spiritual stuff, but stuff none the less. The next couple of days in our series are going to be devoted to stuff reducing! Because -let's be honest I think we all have been stuffified and need to some cleaning out.

To me throwing things out is therapeutic, I think it is even biblical when you think about what Jesus asked the Rich Young Ruler to give up - his stuff! Is your stuff preventing you from being fully devoted to God, is it causing undo stress because you don't know where to put it, it is piling up and causing strife in your relationship - it has done all those things in my life and I am committing today to find Joy in Simplifying my stuff.

Today - Physical Tangible Stuff - We are going to focus on all those little things at your house - the knick knacks, the kitchen appliances that you never use, the clothes in your closet.

My mom has been doing a daily Ten - and loving it! She picks a place in the house, a room or a cabinet and she gets rid of ten things - right now her car is full of her tens that she will be donating to the Good Will.

I challenge you today to find a place that you can get rid of ten things at home and in your office. And to my youth ministry friends - I know what your offices can look like so don't be afraid to get rid of ten in several different piles on your floor!

A word of encouragement - I know sometimes it is hard to get rid of things that someone gave to you, but in all honesty you don't need (or want for that matter) I have found myself with several collections of dust collectors over the years. If you don't want it - don't keep it just because you feel badly that someone gave it to you - give it to some one who will appreciate it - Take a picture of it and put it in your scrapbook so you can remember the gesture.

Happy TEN day!!!! Get rid of those groups of ten!!!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Joy in Simplicity - #3

There is a verse in the bible that talks about praying continually 1 Thes. 5:17 - it's a great verse - because it is a simple truth - however in my honest I must admit that I have simply failed in that fashion - I have prayer ADD I think - I sit down to pray and then my to do list comes to mind, and oh I forgot to change over the laundry - you get my point - I have even talked about writing a book called Popcorn prayers - Prayer Strategies for on the go people - I still may one day - but until then I am going to continue to collect ideas to help me be better at praying continually.

In church on Sunday we were challenged to serve one another! I have thought about what that means to mean - serving means sacrifice - to me focusing and praying can be sacrifice - so this is what I have come up with as my act of service to our church, to our students, and to my friends and family.

I got this idea from a dear friend named Margie that I used to work with - after Christmas she saves all her cards and each day she and her husband pick a card and pray for that family. Wow - what a simple profound idea! I didn't count but we may have gotten 365 cards which would work out perfect!

There is another passage in scripture that says this:

Colossians 1:9
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped
praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,

That is what we are to be doing for each other!!! So simple yet so profound. Here are a couple other ideas to help you make this part of your daily life for the next year.

First - if you aren't a Christmas card saver, pull out your church directory and start with the A's pick a family each day. If you are in youth ministry - write down the names of all your students and put them in a bowl - each day pick out a new one to pray for them and their family.

You can even take it a step further - when you pray for a family or a student - drop them a note (a real one or a text, or an email) and let them know that you prayed for them today.

Maybe you even want to have a facebook family of the day - put that families name in your away message to let them know you are lifting them up that day.

Be creative - but God simply calls you to pray - so as Nike says - Just do it!

Our family for today is...... (hold on while I pull it out of the basket).... wait for it, wait for it..... Bill (Big Dog) and Char McCartney - dear friends from Clearfield! You are loved, missed, and prayed for today!!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Joy In Simplicity - #2

The simple fact is that in order to be walking in a close relationship with our creator - we must be meeting with Him daily! In order to find our identity in Him - we need to know what it means to be His child. In order to walk in the way of the righteous - we need to know what that looks like for our lives.....there is no better way to do that than through reading his word.

I will be the first to admit - I am a failure when it comes to reading consistantly! I need to do better - so today I commit to once again get up - dust myself off - and dive back into my daily scripture reading. How about you - what is your plan for reading your Bible? Here are a couple resources to help you be successful in your bible reading.

For me - I am working through the Chronological Bible - it is helpful to understand what is going on at what time in history - it is broken up in daily readings....I have been doing this for years - and soon I will make it to the New Testiment - I am so excited - I am not starting over until I finish it! Even if it takes me all year - I am going to do it! Check out your local Christian bookstore to find a copy!

If you aren't a reader like my husband - you can get an audio Bible - it comes by Chapter and it is done in a not boring version that has different people talking in a theatrical fashion - Joel is really enjoying this! There is one called Faith Comes By Hearing.

There are several other bible reading schedules available - just google it and I am sure you will find one that works for you. You can even get reading plans through bible apps for your Iphone - at YouVersion.

My best piece of advice is - don't give up - if you miss a day - don't feel like you have failed and start over - just move on to the next day - you may be a week behind at that end - but at least you will be farther along than when you started!

God bless as you seek to find joy in knowing God better through his word in 2011

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Joy in Simplicity Series #1

My heart longs for a new start... a love new beginnings...and today is one of those - "the old is gone and the new has come!" (2Cor. 5:17) Today I encourage you to find joy in simply knowing that in Christ you are new creation - the old is gone and the new has come!

Check out this amazing video that will inspire you as we begin something new - this first day of 2011!

In the days and the weeks to come I will be devoting my blog to simplifying your life - first by focusing on what is truly important and that is our relationship with Christ, then on simplifying our space - whether it would be at home or work - then simplifying our stuff whether is would be possessions, our emotions, or our social life.

Today we are focusing solely on who we are in Christ - WE are a NEW CREATION!!! WE are a CHILD OF THE KING! WE are the BELOVED!

Today as you start the new year - start by claiming who you are in Christ and the joy of knowing that God has something amazing in store for all of us this new year - our year may be filled with trials, but as we sing in the song - the Lord gives and the Lord takes away - Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Let this year be a year that you are sold out for Christ and your faith! That this year you live forgiven! And this year you celebrate the joy in unexpected situations!

Blessings to you and your family and this first day of 2011 - I am anticipating that God is going to do big things!!! Are you???