Saturday, April 28, 2007

While I Am No Expert...

... I am a yard sale junkie!!! If I see a pink, yellow, blue, or white sign, I usually follow them until I reach what I think is more of a challenge than a mall: a yard sale!!! (No offense to any mall-loving readers I have... but you do have to consider that the challenge at the mall is slim-to-none for finding what you want and at a bargain price!). So for my first yard sale of the season, I decided to do one, rather than go to one:o). You see, one of the benefits of being in the right place at the right time is (are you ready for this?!?!?) being in the right place at the right time! Let me explain.

Several months ago, a friend and I agreed she had a lot of "stuff" in her small house so I suggested she do a yard sale. Since I figured she might need a little encouragement/motivation, I told her I would join up with her. Right place, right time.

Excited about doing a yard sale, I went through my small accumulated pile of "stuff" and realized it wouldn't amount to a whole lot for a yard sale. Enter my sister. She wanted to do spring cleaning on one of those rare "springy" days back in March and so I agreed to help her go through her basement. Before too long, I made a grand total of three trips of "stuff" she didn't want. Right place, right time.

Then a missionary and his family were planning on going back to Chile, so one day the missionary's wife was in the office wondering how to get some "stuff" to the Goodwill. I offered to take it for her (since it worked for me to do it for another missionary's wife) and then thought about the yard sale that was coming up in the distant future. She said I could sell the "stuff" at the yard sale and take the rest to the Goodwill. Right place, right time.

A few more scenarios happened like that with me being in the right place at the right time. Well today my friend and I joined up together and did my first-ever yard sale! It was so much fun (well, maybe the part of getting up at 4:45 had its downside, but still!) and it was interesting to be on "this side" of the table. Would you believe it if I told you most of the "stuff" that other people had given to me was all basically sold?!? Amazingly enough, it is true... and the little bit that didn't get sold will join up at another neighborhood yard sale sometime in June. So with that said, I wanted to share a few tips I learned while do my first-ever yard sale:

  • Join up with a friend! The day went so much smoother because there were two of us working together.
  • Another great idea is to ask the neighbors around you to have a sale on the same day. My friend did a yard sale last year with a few neighbors, and had tons of people show up. Today probably would've gone even better if we had 3-4 more yard sales in the neighborhood.
  • Have a little bit of everything out to interest all sorts of age groups. I was astonished to see that half of our customers were men. Why were they there? My friend's husband put out a planer (some kind of guy-tool.... yeah, I don't get it either!) and boy, oh boy, did that draw in the crowds. The great thing was that it enticed the men to stop and then the ladies would get out and shop! Also, make sure you have some baby stuff, kiddie toys, and things to interest adults. I think our yard sale was a success because we had such a variety of items.
  • Start pricing your items weeks in advance. One thing that worked in my favor was I put all the items in our spare room (which also has the VCR/DVD player in it) and then I would start pricing stuff if I watched a movie. Multi-tasking is great!
  • Borrow tables if possible. Our pastor was nice to let us take several tables so we didn't have many things on the ground. I know I usually don't look at yard sales where everything is on the ground.
  • Have your testimony tracts or any other kind of tract ready! Where else do people come to you and not turn down taking a tract??? Not one person refused me today and I got to hand out several tracts!
God is so good to me, and while what I earned today (about $140) might not seem like a lot to some people, all I did was take the "stuff" that others didn't want, asked for their permission, and sold it at the yard sale! You would be surprised at how 25 cents here and 75 cents there really does add up. And since this was kinda a "frugal" post, go here to read what Crystal has to say!

Oh! One more tip... don't blog for a few days before your sale.... it really helps;o).

Monday, April 23, 2007

Just For Smiles:o).

Today I baby-sat four children for a couple of hours and I really had a nice time (with the exception of trying to cram together a book report for Classroom Management... I'm glad that's done!). The lone daughter in this family is quite a talker and as I sat in my lawn chair and she in hers, she kept up a steady stream of chatter that needed little to no response on my part for 45 minutes:o). We were discussing the much-anticipated arrival of her granddad and great-grandma from Florida and while Maria was describing her great-grandma in detail ("she's deaf, can't really see, and can sit down in a car to get here... but that's it"), she inserted this: "Oh! She's also old! Very, very old! She's like, 22!"

Since I am two years past being old! Very, very old!, I couldn't help but chuckle. Maria looked at me with confusion on her face, because she couldn't understand why that was so funny:o).

Eventually we all moved inside so I could "prepare" dinner (if putting 8 hot dogs into a pot and letting them cook constitutes "preparation"!). As I worked on doing some dishes, Maria threw out a question: "How come you're not married?" Trying to reason with a 6-year-old wasn't really going to work, so I just said, "God hasn't brought the right man along for me, so I'm waiting for God." Maria thought about that for a little while and then asked, "Well, do you know who is going to be the right one for you?" I swallowed a laugh as I tried to explain that Mr. Handsome Unknown is just that ~ Unknown:o). Maria contemplated that thought before she said, "Well, Peter's almost a grown-up." I felt like I was being offered a consolation prize in the form of her "almost-grown-up" ten year old brother;o).

The thing I enjoyed so much about Maria was her candid honestly. While I was telling Maria about the report I had to give in class tonight, she asked me if I was going to do my hair. I told her no and she said, "Well you should! It's sticking out everywhere!" That one deserved a hearty laugh! I think we as adults get so stilted in what we say and especially when we don't really mean it. We say a pat answer, and then turn around and think, "Oh wow. That was an ugly dress she had on but I just couldn't tell her that because she's my friend!" Hmm...

I really did enjoy my afternoon with the Z kids, even if my ego suffered a little bit! Oh, and for the record, the pony-tail came out before class;o).

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bountiful Blessings #4

I haven't done this in a while, so here is an explanation of what Bountiful Blessings is. Don't forget to share a blessing that God has given you! Onto the blessing...

I use the PA Turnpike often... that's what happens when you have a cutie-patootie on the other end! So I'm quite familiar with the bumps, curves, and potholes (yes, that's a sure sign you're in Pennsylvania; you hit the potholes!). Anyway, I also travel on a stretch of road simply called "the Blue Route". Not known by too many people by its official name (Interstate 476), this 20 mile bit of road connects the PA Turnpike to I-95: the major North-South thru-way that runs up and down the Eastern Seaboard. With all of that said, these roads are pretty heavy with traffic! What has never ceased to amaze me is God's goodness in traffic. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered this, but it's been sweet to be reminded of God's goodness. If I'm traveling down the Blue Route, the other side will be blocked up because of an accident, construction, or just traffic. If I'm traveling up the Blue Route, then the down side will be the one side to experience the traffic jam and car backup. In something so simple as traveling on the road, God has made my way clear!

Just yesterday, I was traveling home on the Blue Route and noticed a bad accident on the other side involving a motorcycle and two badly smashed-up cars. But it didn't really hit me until I saw the 3-mile back up and it was then I whispered a prayer of thanks that I was on the side I was on. Isn't God good?!?!

One more little blessing I'm thankful for is gas hanging out at $2.74. I was reading the newspaper this past week and saw a picture of a gas station sign in California with the numbers $4.09 jumping off the page. Wow! I have nothing but sympathy for my one California reading in the San Jose area... I hope the prices aren't that ridiculous for you!!!

Ok! Your turn! Leave a blessing for us to enjoy... perhaps I can even get a happy teacher to post (anonymously of course!) about the 281 and a 1/2 hours of student teaching you did! And maybe I'll get a certain someone to post about her recent "unofficially official" courtship that she is in with the winds blowing out of the North West. You two know who you are!!! Use the anonymous button... that's what it's there for;o). Let's see some blessings:o).

Friday, April 20, 2007

Please Watch.

Watch this video and you just might find the answer to the question, "Where is God in the midst of these school shootings?"

The Day They Kicked God Out of the Schools

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unplanned Ministries

Several years ago, a lady in my church wrote an article entitled, "Unplanned Ministries" for the ladies paper. This was soon after she had a major trial in her life, but was wise enough to know that God was going to work as a result of the painful time. It's pushing seven years since that article was first published, but I well remember reading it and thinking about it. The basic gist was that she would not have chosen to go through the trial, but that God opened the door for her to be a comfort to several other people who went through the same trial after she did.

Last year I hit a very low valley, and really didn't relish going through a certain trial. Many were the days I spent in tears and prayer was a lifeline to which I clung. Only a few knew about this trial, and did their best to comfort me, but it was only God's sweet Word that brought me true comfort.

But one dear encourager stands above the rest. You see, while others did their best to comfort me, and tell me everything was going to be ok, they hadn't actually gone through the trial. But, this person did and encouraged me the most! What a balm personal experience was to my heart! Although the trial lingered for a little while longer, I made it through by God's grace and by this dear person saying "a word fitly spoken".

Recently I had an opportunity to talk with someone going through some dark waters. When I heard about the situation, the first thing that popped into my mind was that article written ever so long ago by a mom just sharing her heart and I knew what kind of opportunity I had a before me: an unplanned ministry. You see, this person was going through the trial that I went through last year so I was able to practice Proverbs 15:23 ~ "a word spoken in due season, how good is it!"

On the finished side of a trial, I always look back and see God's Hand faithfully leading me through the low, low valley. While going through a trial is no picnic (and this is not my way of asking God for one!), there is an intimate sweetness with the Lord that can't be described. God always does something for a reason, even in a trial.

Surely "the goodness of God endureth continually." ~ Psalm 52:1

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I Admit Defeat.

For the guys that are reading, I'm really sorry this post won't pertain to you at all. But for the girlies reading, I have a major question girls like to ask:

How, oh how, do you keep nylons from snagging, running, tearing, and anything else????


Ok, I feel a little bit better:o).

But it really is a serious question! The way Murphy's law ("the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.") works for me is that no sooner do I go buy a pair and wear them once, then I wind up with one of the above mentioned problems. And of course the school I work at requires me to wear closed toe shoes, which rules out sandals (bummer), and who wants to wear sneakers 5 times a week with a nice outfit anyway?!? So that leaves me with the option of buying nylons more often than I care to admit.

So with all that said, does anyone have a tip for my poor nylons that I just bought and are (at the moment!) runner-free? I really don't feel like supporting the nylon industry as often as I do:o). Let me know what works for you!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Happy Days.

The day is always great when I get to see two nephews;o). We celebrated my brother-in-law's 33rd birthday (I say we but it was really a guy party... I was just there to help with the food and babysit!), so my sister's camera was flashing away... with me behind it;o). No new pictures with the nephews, so I dug into the archives for these two (of course I dug a little farther for the first one, seeing that Ethan is only 16 days old!):o).

What a happy day! *Sigh* I was just thanking the Lord yesterday for the opportunity to enjoy all of my nephews and nieces while I can...God is so good, Amen?!?

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To Die Is Gain.

I picked up this book on Sunday night and began reading immediately. The first few lines were familiar to me; I quickly remembered I had to read this book for English in high school. But now I have my own copy:o) (written like a true bookworm!) and so I excitedly ran to get my highlighter as I delved deeper into the book. Though I'm only half-way done, I've run across some timely truths that I wanted to share... all are quotes made by and/or about John and Betty Stam, and by John's father Peter:

  • "You are so often in your own way, when you undertake to rear children!" ~ Peter
  • Theoretically, he [John] believed that "God's work, done in God's way, will never lack God's supplies," but would it work out practically?
  • So he [John] had the very thing he desired in going to Chicago, opportunity to prove himself the reality of prayer and the dependability of the promises of God.
  • "God, who knows each sparrow's hopping, knows our little needs too." ~ John
  • "There are those who simply cannot go and those who are free to go. Why should both stay at home for the same work?" ~ John
  • "The Way is just Christ - and complete consecration to His will in our lives." ~ Betty
  • "I am resolved, while I live, to live with all my might." ~ John quoting from Jonathan Edwards
  • "It is not our faith we must depend on, but God's faithfulness - our faith being only the hand held out to receive of His faithfulness." ~ John
  • "We keep on looking to our usual or possible sources of supply, forgetting that our real source of supply is the Lord, and that He can use anyone, anywhere, with equal ease and freedom." ~ John
  • When God is second, you will get second best; but when God is really first, you have His best." ~ Peter
Good thoughts to ponder!

Monday, April 9, 2007

His Way.

"When my way seems dark and drear and the future I don't know.
My heart feels so empty as the tears unending flow.
When my heart breaks with sorrow and a tempest fills my soul.
This one thing I know for sure: my God is in control."

"His way is perfect... His way is perfect!
Though I don't understand His wise and loving plan.
His way is perfect... His way is perfect!
Take my life and make a vessel purified.
God makes no mistakes, His way is best."

(The students sang this song this morning and then it played over the sound system later on in the day... so it's been running through my mind about how His way is perfect... Words and music by Betsy Kistler)

UPS Delivers Smiles:o).

As I was preparing to leave the Post Office today, I noticed a UPS worker handing a package over to the girl behind the counter. Unfazed by the fact a UPS worker was delivering to the Post Office, she calmly signed for the package. I just shook my head and smiled to myself as I headed for the door. Ironic! But it did provide some humor:o).

Friday, April 6, 2007

Heard Around The Office...

I love my job for several reasons, including the fact my co-workers add so much spice and humor to my life:o). Just today Terri came rushing into the office (and if you know Terri, then you know she was running:D) and wanted to print certificates for her Sunday School kids. As she moved to put the paper in the printer, she said, "Oh wait! That won't work... each kid has a different name!"

Imagine that... each kid having a different name:o).
Yesterday Sarah and I were in the Production Room talking about today's work day. Normally Sarah only works from 12:30-4:30 each day so she was in a real quandary about the half day that we were supposed to work for today...

"Do I come in only in the morning and work until noon? Or do I come in the afternoon and work my regular time? Or do I come in and only work two hours since it's a half day?"

Sarah wound up coming in this morning and working for two hours:o).
John Jr. has been working here for a couple of months now and was standing in the office along with Amy, Katie, and Sarah when I walked in this morning. Upon seeing me, John said, "Oh no! Now there's 4 of you and 3 computers. What are you going to do?"

John didn't know I was planning on working in the Production Room:o). Crisis solved!;o).
I asked Mrs. Hammett today when I should put the French Trail of Blood on her computer. I thought she wanted it done soon, so I asked, "Are you going to be gone anytime soon? If you leave, I could get it done." Then realizing what I said, I started backpedaling. "I didn't mean when are you going to leave as in why aren't you gone yet, but I was wondering when I could use your computer.... yeah, never mind."

Open mouth. Insert foot.
After Rachel left for Thailand, we started a new thing regarding all the mail we accumulate each day. Since we are constantly mailing stuff out (that's one thing with operating two businesses and a free correspondence Bible Study course...), we decided that each person will have one day a week when they run to the Post Office. That way no one person is getting stuck lugging stuff to the Post Office:o). Monday's me, Tuesday's Terri, Wednesday's Cindy, Thursday's Sarah, and Friday's Katie. Well most of us leave at 3:30 or 4:00... plenty of time to get the mail over to the PO. One day is a little bit harder though... so now Cindy, Amy, and I take turns encouraging Terri out the door:o). This past Tuesday Cindy had several orders that had to go out on Tuesday so she put them up in the Production Room and told Terri she was done. I thought Cindy was going to faint from the anxiety of waiting for Terri to take the stuff;o). Terri made it though... and the receipt proved it: 5:01 PM!
It's kinda a running joke in the main office that the Kyocera (the printer) beeps and Amy can't hear it:o). I can't tell you how many times I've walked into the office, heard it beeping, and went over to fix it. Whenever I do that, Amy looks up and asks if it's beeping. When I say yes, we both just start laughing because she can't hear that beep;o).
Yesterday Tiffany was in the office and asked me what kind of flowers my mom likes. So I said, "She likes Easter lilies, but my dad usually gets her one. Ummm, I don't know. I'm probably the worst person to ask because I don't know what they're called!!!" So then Tiffany asks me what colors she likes and I said (again!), "Ummm, I don't know. Pink and purple and..." Tiffany just rolled her eyes and said, "You're probably going to list each color, aren't you?!?!"

What can I say? Flowers and I don't get along. I think they're pretty, but I've killed too many, so don't ask me flower questions:o).
Today as I came out of the Production Room, I saw a student walking around the lunchroom. He saw me and said, "Isn't it great that even when there is no school, you still get to see me?!?" And I was trying to take a vacation from school too!;o).
Let's just say there aren't too many dull moments around here:o).

Thursday, April 5, 2007

For Another Aunt:o).

Y'all are welcome to look:o) (I am a little excited about Ethan's arrival:D), but this post is mainly for my sister Michelle who lives in Florida and hasn't been able to see Ethan yet... Michelle is also expecting (a little girl!) so pretty soon she'll be going through it too! So Michelle (and Jamey and I'm sure Yvonne and Tony are looking too!), enjoy these pictures! Love ya!

(this is the sweetest one... Phil has definitely taken a liking to being a daddy!)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Rotten Apples.

My friend Priscilla and I were recently talking about I book I had been reading (mentioned here) which in turn sparked a conversation about the book "If I Perish" by Esther Ahn Kim. Knowing my love for books and my great interest in biographies, Priscilla lent it to me and I promptly sat down that afternoon to read it. By the time I put it down, I was stirred by this lady's faith! I won't ruin the whole book for you :o), but one story is just too good to keep to myself...

One day, after being in prison for a few years, Esther had a craving for apples. By this point, she was physically weak and had almost no strength remaining in her body, but she desperately wanted an apple and so prayed to the God who fed the 5,000 with just two fish and five loaves and asked for an apple. Soon she heard two jailers talking about the abundance of apples, but one jailer said the apples were all rotten. Hearing that, Esther got excited and asked the jailer for the apples. The jailer was incredulous. "Why do you want apples?" Esther explained that since their prison food was so bad, rotten apples would be much, much better than what they were eating. So the jailer got the rotten apples and gave them to Esther. The hard apples, warmed by spring, were so soft and yielded sweet juice. After devouring apples for several days, Esther began to recover physically. (In her own words): "I explained to my fellow prisoners why God gave me soggy apples instead of firm, smooth ones. Because my teeth were weak, I wouldn't have been able to bite into a firm apple. God gave me fifty apples instead of just one because my dehydrated body needed many soggy apples rather than one fresh apple which I could not have chewed."

God knew what Esther needed: rotten apples. Rotten apples wouldn't be the first dining choice for many, but it was what she needed at the time. Wow!

My "rotten apple" could be paralleled to my season of life right now. As I see friends around me get married and have children, I sometimes think, "God, what about me? Is there someone for me?" His answer comes back oh so sweetly: "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."

Esther Ahn Kim prayed for one apple, and God answered her with 50 rotten apples. The fresh, crisp, red apple was the fruit of her choice, but God said, "Oh no, my child. I know that you wouldn't be able to handle that. But I'm going to give you something even better. You might not appreciate it at first, but in the end you will thank ME. Here, take these 50 rotten apples. Let them nourish you physically. Let it be a very real answer to your prayer. Let your spirit joyfully shout to Me in thanksgiving. My plan is best."

On my graduation day from high school, my dear, sweet friend wrote me an encouraging card. In it she said, "Anne, use this season of singleness to serve the Lord completely. I wish someone had told me this when I graduated. How many years I wasted." I received many cards that day, but out of dozens of cards with words of wisdom and advice, hers was the one I remember to this day.

My choice? A fresh, crisp, red apple. God's choice? Rotten apples. It's what I need right now!

"Wait for God's time to bring it round and He will do it without any heartbreak or disappointment."

~Oswald Chambers~

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Half A Decade Ago....

... some firsts happened! April 1st, 2002 was the first time:
  • I flew on an airplane
  • I was on a missions trip
  • I was in a foreign country
  • I was gone from home for more than a week

This day 5 years ago was very anticipated and all of us in the group (19 going on the trip; the rest were in the Czech Republic) had been waiting to go for a very long time. Originally scheduled for October of 2001, our trip was canceled after September 11th happened, so we were ready to go when April rolled around!

The oh-so-quiet bus ride:o) Everyone else was laughing and talking, but the two blonde heads you see looking down were Rachel and I (ever the bookworms!) reading books:o)

The view out the airplane window as we approached the rising sun

Most of the group... with the exception of the mom (who brought her oldest on this trip) as well as her youngest, who was 1 month old at the time. We affectionately named Anna our Czech baby!

Now Anna is 5 years old and a very active little girl and reminds us of how long ago our trip really was!

The day this picture was taken was the day after we landed in Prague. All of us split up into groups to pass out tracts at the metro, bus stations, and along sidewalks. Our group finished first and headed back to IBTS (where we were staying during our week in the Czech Republic). When we got back to IBTS, we realized we didn't have a key to get into the girls' rooms (all the rooms were in the same hallway dorm-room style) but one of the boys had a key to the boys' room. So for 2 hours we girls hung out in the guys room, waiting for the other groups to come back so we could get into our rooms:o). Ah, the memories!

I've always liked this shot because it's so pretty! Last year when I was in Prague again, I took a picture of this same view:o). The view is from the Charles Bridge, which dates back to the 1500s. The bridge used to handle traffic, but now it's only for pedestrians and merchants who sell some interesting stuff on the bridge!

That's quite the scowl Rachel gave Chris as he took this picture...we had just finished our church service after a very long day, so I'm sure Rachel was hungry;o).

Charles Bridge...

Just one aspect of the beautiful, but spiritually dark, city of Prague. At night it's even prettier.

Like all things, this trip came to an end. The bus ride home was filled with looking at pictures, chatting and laughing about memories from Prague, and just a feeling of wanting to be home!!!

For me, though, this trip acted as a springboard. Not too long after this trip, I headed over to South Africa (September 2002) and saw a totally different culture than what I saw in Prague. It's one of those things you just have to experience and I'm glad I did!

Edited to add: In light of this being a post on missions trips, I just wanted to include the fact I bought my airline ticket for Thailand! Now it's starting to feel official: I leave Tuesday June 5th and return Thursday August 16. What a great way to spend my summer!