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Friday, September 13, 2019

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Ever heard the saying, "When life gives you lemons..."? Ever feel like life has thrown you too many lemons? I know I have. Which is why I laugh when I hear that saying. It reminds me of a video game. Portal 2. 

I would love to throw the lemons back at life. The combustible lemons! I'd love to ask life who they think they are. But as a Christian, I know that life's manager is someone we don't want to tempt. God. God gives us those lemons to strengthen and test our faith.
Faith is a tricky subject. Most people think it has only to do with religion. The definition on Dictionary.com would, however, greatly disagree. The very first listing is: 

Confidence or trust in a person or thing. 

I have every bit as much confidence that God is in control as anyone would have that the sofa will be a seat they can plant their rear ends on without fail. However, that doesn't mean that my faith never wavers. On the contrary. It wavers often. I'd say that a person not believing in God would have stronger faith than I do as a Christian sometimes. I question God. I ask 'Why'? And very often I get frustrated when I don't feel my prayers are answered the way I wanted them to be. With all that, I still believe. I still hold to my faith. That God is in control. That things will work out. That this all serves a greater purpose. I just can't see it yet. 

Wavering doesn't equal weakness.

We all have moments when we feel as though our faith isn't strong enough. That doesn't mean that it is weak, however. We are human. Questioning things is natural to us. I can't tell you how often I have wondered about my life and where things were going. That doesn't mean I'm weak in my beliefs. I just need to reaffirm them. No better way to do that than to read God's word or pray. Someone recently asked me how I do it. How I keep going day after day with what I deal with. Prayer. My number 1 go-to. But here is something I think we need to be reminded of when it comes to prayer. Okay a couple things actually. First off - be thankful. I know, I know. Hard to do when your body is wracked with pain and you just want to cry and give up on life. But there is always at least one thing to be thankful for. So before anything else, say thanks. Then you have to remember, God doesn't always answer right away. Or even when He does answer, it is not always how we hoped.

I'm being reminded of this heavily. I recently found out that my condition has not only worsened, but there is no more hope of doctors being able to put me back together. My spine is going to fall apart piece by piece and there is nothing that anyone can do for it. I have to "learn to live with it" until there is "no other choice" but to cut me open and start removing the broken bits. Not a pretty bunch of words to say the least. Do you know how hard it is to hear those words and to wait until the doctor walks out before letting the tears go? How much I struggle with it when I think of all I won't be able to do with my kids? Talk about my faith wavering often these days...

Faith can't stand alone.

Faith in some things - like healing and answers - requires patience. My husband loves to remind me that my suffering works on my patience. For starters, I'm not a very nice person when my pain goes above a level 7. I'm irritable. I get snippy with everyone. My fuse is incredibly reduced. I've been embarrassed to go around family when I hurt because I have a hard time reigning in my darkened mood. My in laws are quite adept at knowing when I'm in pain, even when I smile and try to act like nothing is wrong. This increases my discomfort. After all, who wants to be the broken one at a family gathering? I recently told my husband that it is like PMS-ing 24/7 when my pain won't end. So, faith needs patience. And lots of it!

Faith needs strength.

If faith isn't strong, it fails. But to be built up, it needs a workout. Like my flabby belly, it has to be exercised. This one is something I have to be reminded of. Every time I feel like things are going awry, I have to take a step back and give it over to God. I have to stop trying to fix everything in my own ways. Admitting I am not strong enough for something is not easy. No one wants to admits they have faults. Or are lacking in any way. Yet, we all are. 

Faith needs backup. 

People who can remind you of the things I mentioned above are priceless when you are falling. I have two women in my life who message me often. Who tell me to keep up the good fight. To not let darkness take control. To give everything, in prayer, to God. They are there when I need them most. Never wavering. They have their own struggles and pain to deal with, but they don't let me slip in mine. When I grow up, I want to be just like them. When I have lost my mobility and am wheelchair bound, I want to be able to encourage others as they do for me. I want their kind of faith. Beyond the bitter end. 

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Get Your Family and Friends and Astro Trash!

Back to school has kicked in. Families are falling into routines again. But maybe you need help to break the monotony? Time to fall in love with board games again, folks! This family friendly game is all about speed and fun. We totally enjoyed it and I think you will too. 

*Disclaimer: I was sent this game by Tryazon and USAOpoly for the sole purpose of introducing it to others. It was sent free of charge. All opinions are my own.*

This game is for 3-5 players, any of whom are over the age of 6 years. It is very fast paced. There aren't 'turns'. Its a roll until you've emptied your 'planet' of trash. But be careful to watch your neighbors. You don't want them to clean up their planet first! You keep resetting and playing until someone gets 3 trophies. Each round is about 10-15 minutes. This game is better suited to small parties or just family gatherings. That's the quick explanation. Now, let's break it down!

So how does it go? 

Quite simply, actually. Every player gets to grab a planet. They also get 3 dice each. The dice tell you what trash, how many and what to do with it for every roll. You begin the round by saying, 1, 2, 3, ditch it! Then you keep on rolling, following the dice and getting rid of the trash on your planet as quickly as possible. The first one to clear it all, gets a trophy. You reset the trash and start again. Keep repeating until one player has 3 trophies! 

Where can I get a copy for myself? 

So very glad you asked! Target and Amazon both carry it. So pick one up in the store or order it online. 

Who came up with this? 

USAopoly! They are the makers of other great tabletop games. Ever heard of Munchkin? How about Clue? Trivial Pursuit? They all came from the same parent company! If you liked any of those, you should enjoy this one equally.  

Want to see it in use? 

Check out my video below and let me know what you think! What is your favorite aspect of this game?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Peace of Mind Comes in Small Packages With Tchipie

As a Mom, I have had those moments of cold-sweat fear when I hear choking or other not-normal sounds coming from the backseat. Those moments when you want to swerve across several lanes of travel as quickly as possible to make sure the baby in the back isn't dying. It is rough! Thankfully, there are ways to avoid this. The most obvious is to not feed the kids in the car. But that isn't always practical when you are on a long road ride. So the next best thing is... baby car mirrors to the rescue! Like the ones that come from companies like Tchipie

*Disclaimer: Tchipie reached out to me and sent the funds for me to order their product for the sole purpose of writing a review on it. I was not otherwise paid or endorsed. All opinions are strictly my own.*

Tchipie reached out to me and asked if I wanted to do a review of their baby car mirror that is sold on Amazon. You know me, I don't turn down the opportunity to try out helpful products and share my reviews with you all! I purchased this mirror from Amazon. They are sold for $8.99 (price drop since I purchased it!). If you have a Prime account, they ship from the Amazon warehouses within a couple days. They are also eligible for free shipping if you order other eligible products totaling over $25 through Amazon. 
This mirror has several great aspects to be aware of!
  1. Easy to install. There are 2 sets of straps. You clip the first set, pull to tighten. Then clip the second set, pull to tighten. Adjust for the perfect angle and - voila! - you can see whatever is going on in the backseat.
  2. Large size to allow you to see more! The dimensions on this mirror are 11.6" x 7.7".
  3. Adorable stickers to doll the mirror up. Kids love looking in the direction of pretty and colorful things. As soon as my toddler saw the stickers, she was SO excited. These are all her favorite fruits. So naming them made her happy while giving her something to do.
  4. Amazing swivel capabilities. Mirrors need to move. They also need to be easy to move. So that you can adjust them for the perfect angle. And that is what this one offered. A 360 degree rotating pivot.
  5. Last, but not least, it comes with a soft cleaning cloth. Keep this in the car and always have it on hand to clean the mirror and give you a clear view of your kiddo. 
So check out my video below and let me know what you think!
What other things are important to you when choosing a car mirror?

Monday, July 15, 2019

14 Date Night Ideas for Any Budget

Before this summer, it had been a while since my husband and I had had a date night. A real one. Without kids. Without tasks and errands that take all our free time. That did not mean just playing a video game (although that isn't always a bad thing).  Something that let us unwind and actually talk to each other. For starters, we are still keeping to a strict budget. And secondly, we didn't live near someone who could take all 4 of the kids from time to time. I've been reading a book that had plenty of ideas for budget-friendly dates. And I decided that it was high time to make a list of things that would work for my husband and I. Here is to hoping that you might get inspired.

Date night ideas:
  1. Take a drive. Sounds boring to some, but this is how you get closer together. Play your favorite music, sing along together and check out your city. 
  2. Walk around, taking pictures. Take turns passing the camera back and forth while you each snap photos. Then compare to see who got the best shots. 
  3. Go to the movies. This is something my husband and I finally did on our most recent date night. He had a coupon from when he worked for Target for 2 free movie tickets. Since there was no expiration date, we were able to see the new Godzilla movie. LOVED it! And yes, I believe there will be a sequel!
  4. Play Just Dance for 2. See who racks up the most points as you both shake and jive. Do dances meant for two and really get close! Though my husband claims he can't dance, this is one game he beats me at often.
  5. Have a Wii tournament. There are some great sports games that you can play together. Get moving while having fun together. 
  6. Watch the sunset. While we don't live in the mountains or near the beach (where my favorite sunsets and sunrises happen), we can still get up early and head to a park. Maybe make a simple snack or bring a warm drink along. Cuddle up and watch the beauty unfold. 
  7. Make a dessert together. There is something magical about cooking and baking with someone you love. Plus you get to enjoy something delicious when you are done. (We made these healthier cookies.)
  8. Go for a hike. Don't forget to bring along water and be careful. Take the time to talk and really bond. 
  9. Play a board game together. No TV in the background! Put on your favorite tunes instead. Not only do you bond, but you can see who has the skills to dominate the board! 
  10. Try out a new restaurant. Even if it isn't new to the area, it might just be new to you guys. See if it is what it claims to be! 
  11. Paint a canvas together. Doesn't matter what it is. Just put both of your ideas into one. The Dollar Tree carries some in the crafting section.
  12. Have a movie night together at home. Grab snacks and snuggle on the couch. Do a marathon even! We have been working on Stranger Things, Season 3. Absolutely one of our favorites!
  13. Check out a local flea market or thrift store. Walmart and Target will be there, selling whatever is in. But sometimes it can be fun to check out a place selling used and unusual things. So deviate and do something new! 
  14. This last one is a favorite of mine. Check out the stars together! Set up an inflatable pool, filled with pillows and blankets in the backyard. Bring a snack. Set up the telescope (if you have one) and then relax together under the stars! 
Be spontaneous! 
You don't have to have money to have a great time and get closer to the one you love. You can be creative and just see what happens. A lesson I learned on a recent date was that not everything goes as planned. I'm a huge planner. But sometimes I need to lay off the planning and just go with it. Then things can flow and the fun comes naturally. What date night ideas do you have?