Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WFMW - Travel Size Room Freshner

Previously posted 12/18/2007
This past fall we found ourselves running hither and yond attending two of our son’s football games. A few times they were on the same night but in different cities. Most of the time we were traveling to games three nights a week between the son who was a freshman, the son who plays junior varsity, and then of course the varsity games.

My daughter and I have found a couple of things that are imperative to have when you were traveling and are unsure of what you will find in regards to the ‘facilities’.

I carry in my purse a small travel pack of handy wipes, a small pack of Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and our favorite item that we never leave home without, Bath and Body Works Room Sprays. We are particularly fond of the fresh, fruity smells. They are small and fit in my handy pouch and you can often catch them on sale 2/5.00. They are regularly 5.00.

When I took our daughter on a trip to New Mexico and Colorado we felt empowered with our little concentrated can of freshness. We felt like we were helping every small town quick stop/gas station/restroom between OKC and Denver, Colorado smell fresh for up to four hours after we had infused the room with these great sprays. We felt like we were being good stewards and leaving the world a little better than we found it for the next weary traveler. It sure made our trip more pleasant. Really makes the hotel rooms smell great too! Kinda like traveling potpourri in a can!

My daughter has commented that the next time we take a trip together we need to buy a case of the sprays and leave them in each place we stop. Hmmm that is a thought which leaves me with another, we also made note of those places on our route that were clean, friendly, and made us feel safe, so that next time we head back to see our friends in Denver we know just where to stop. Works for us! For more ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer and Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Feeling Frazzled but Joyfilled

Tonight I am so frazzled. So many things going on in my heart and mind. I have several prayer concerns that are really weighing on my heart tonight. So many who are hurting from illness or life changes going on. I am trying not to let the stress overwhelm me.

I am also trying to finish some year end projects at work but all I have to do is think about the fact I will be off for two weeks beginning Friday at 5 p.m.!!! WOOO HOO!!! I am really looking forward to the time off! Hubby and me are getting our kids all geared up to purge and organize to get ready for a kickin' 2009!!!

I am currently finishing up a cute little project for my daugher's friends Christmas needs to be done by Friday morning. I am finishing up a darling scrapbook for one of my son's special needs to be finished by Wednesday morning. I have been getting last minute items bought and in the midst of all of this I have made it to Walgreens and CVS plus we went to Aldi's last night!

I will write more about this later in the week but tonight I bought a sack full of things I needed for the projects I am working on plus some stocking stuffers and paid just .44 cents out of pocket at CVS! Yes siree I paid only FORTY FOUR CENTS for over 50.00 worth of things I needed!!!!! Thanks very much CVS!

I also have been loving the sales at Hobby Lobby lately. I don't see how they will have much of an after Christmas sale because the shelves are clearing out with all their 50% off sales on Christmas currently.

I will post pictures of the cute things I am doing but right now I am headed off to get some much needed time with my sweet teenagers before I head to bed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

SMORE for Single Mothers Blog Tour

Today I am so excited to host a blog tour with Gail Showalter of SMORE Ministries. This topic is very near and dear to my heart because the ministry that Gail is involved in is for single mothers. I was a single mother for nearly ten years. It was not what I wanted for my life or my son. I did not think when I married my first husband that I would become a single mother nearly 13 years after our marriage. It was painful and the journey through my single parenthood was only victorious through my relationship with Christ. Please read this interview with Gail and leave your comments either if you have experienced single parenthood or if you have a sibling or child that is a single mother currently. I will be giving away one of her booklets.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my passion for single mothers. In the United States, alone, there are over ten million mothers raising children alone. Over one third of them live in poverty. After years of being on my own as a mother of three, I came to realize how little is done in our communities and churches for this group of children with absent fathers and women with no husbands. The vast majority does not attend church, but our neighborhoods are filled with single moms.
I’ve created and implemented, along with an eleven member board, a detailed plan for encouraging, inspiring, and blessing single mothers. If you have ever wondered what you could do to make a difference for even one of the moms, this is the answer. It is easy, inexpensive, and exceedingly worthwhile.

1. You have established a ministry plan for single mothers. What motivated you to do this?A. For sixteen years I was a divorced mother with three children. I was fortunate to have family support and yet the disappointment, emotional pain, and daily difficulties were devastating. I’m happily remarried now for twelve years and my passion for the over the ten million single mothers remain strong.

2. Why do you think a ministry plan is needed?A. Single mothers have a difficult time day-in, day-out. I think churches want to provide supportive programs for them, but –though there are some successful ministries—much still needs to be done to minister to single moms. Often what you see on the outside doesn’t reveal the heartache and fear she is experiencing on the inside. Church leader I’ve spoken with have expressed genuine interest in implementing this plan.

3. What do you call the ministry?A. SMORE for Women. SMORE is an acronym for Spiritual Ministry Offering ReTREATs and Encouragement. Our program assists churches in providing Saturday reTREATs in a home or intimate church environment.

4. What is the ultimate goal of SMORE for Women?A. Our mission is to inspire and encourage women, especially single mothers, to discover and develop their abilities and inner strengths. Ultimately I hope to see churches across the country implement these programs. And in the process develop ongoing programs and activities for single mothers in their communities.

5. How do you convey this information to church leaders who want to provide a program for single moms?A. The plan is laid out in detail in print in a guidebook titled Encouraging Single Moms to Grow Their Strengths and with forms on CD’s. I serve as a facilitator when a church implements their first reTREAT.

6. Tell us why you prefer that the reTREATs be in homes?A. Homes provide an intimate, friendly, and non-intimidating environment. Homes also have the amenities for several of the pampering areas. A reTREAT can also take place in a church or other facility.

7. What do you mean by pampering areas?
A. At each reTREAT each mom is treated in several areas. Depending on the home she may use a hot tub or swimming pool. She will receive a brief massage, and even have a quiet private prayer time.

8. Is there any charge or fee to the church for you as a facilitator?A. I am available as a facilitator via long distance conference calls. For as long as I can I only ask for a love offering which helps sustain my expenses. If I must travel a long distance I ask for travel expenses. AND if a reTREAT date is on the 2009 calendar by January I will facilitate (via long distance) free of charge. The guidebooks are $20 and each of the Seed Packet booklets for the moms is $10.

9. What are the costs of implementing a reTREAT?
A. There is a nominal budget. It is similar to hosting a dinner party. Usually the volunteer hostesses contribute food. Church members donate gifts and invitations can be printed on a home computer, ordered, or printed at church. The ministry is a collaborative endeavor. Our reTREATs are very small with only six to twelve guests.

10. Are all reTREATs the same?A. No. We have eight themes for encouraging moms to discover her inner strengths.
They are
• Personality Predicaments
• Money Matters
• Bonding and Boundaries
• Job Jump Starts
• Dating Do’s
• Nutrition and Manners Matter
• Family Fun
• Grieving a Loss.

11. Where can we go for more information about the SMORE for Women ministry? A. We have a web site which is and a blog which is

A Retreat can be hosted by a small group of compassionate women. The guidebook, Encouraging Single Mothers to Grow Their Strengths, includes step-by-step guidance for planning and hosting a reTREAT. Once you’ve experienced one Saturday reTREAT filled with joy you will want to plan another and another. In the process you will get acquainted with some remarkable women and you might inspire them as they see Christ in you. Please visit SMORE for Women at

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Simplifying Gift Giving

Many years ago I read an interview with Kathy Lee Gifford in a women’s magazine where she spoke of giving their small children only three gifts at Christmas since that is all the Three Wise Men brought to Christ. It really resonated with me at the time. I was a newly single mom and money went from abundant to below poverty level after my husband walked out. So, when I read the interview with Kathy Lee it really touched my heart. This interview was at the height of her ‘celebrity’ so if this icon of the talk show realm simplified her Christmas then surely I could do the same.

This gave me such freedom! I can pinpoint when my bargain shopping came into being…out of necessity…those first years as a single mom. The Lord was giving me insight and preparing me for ten years in the future when I would meet my current husband who was raising three young ones alone.

This is what we do. We ask them to tell us something they need, something they want, and something fun. Out of the three presents we try to have one that is the ‘big’ present or the most desired. I pick up items throughout the year for their stockings. I really put a lot of neat things in their stockings and some are need items. I hit CVS when I can get razors, hair care products, and makeup for free. With three young men and a young lady in the house items like these are very welcome. I also pick up CDs when stores have them on sale. I have put in Sonic gift cards, Taco Bell gift cards, and movie theatre gift cards. I think this year gas cards would be welcome too since we will have three drivers in our home!

Gift giving for their high school friends is another area that takes time, effort, and a little bargain shopping to really score some awesome deals. Our daughter is really the only one that likes to give gifts to EVERYONE. We have given mini bottles of Bath and Body Works items in cute little toiletry bags, mani/pedi sets, mini photo/scrapbook albums, journals, and picture frames. We also have given her friends bags of Christmas candy all tied up with a cute bow and ornament. This year we are making the candy instead of buying it. At the end of the Christmas season we will stock up again on bags, bows, tags, and ribbon for next year. Also there will be lots of great gift sets and the like that one can purchase for pennies and will be great gifts for next year!

Probably one of the most appreciated presents I have given my nieces were their Journal Jars five years ago. I purchased a beautiful journal and pen for each of them and made a bookmark. I then bought clear plastic jars and decorated them with scrapbook paper and paint pens. I typed out journal prompts on my computer and ran them off on brightly colored paper. I cut them out and folded them in half then dropped then in the jar. Some strips had favorite Bible verses on them and with a prompt to tell what this verse means to you, or one prompt asked them to write down what they were most thankful for in their parents. All in all I had around 100 prompts for each girl.

This year we are focusing more on giving gifts of time and things homemade for our friends and family. Our teenagers will still get something that they really want and they will have a great Christmas but our prayer is that once the day is over they will not feel let down that they did not have a gazillion presents but that they are thankful for what they were given and the memories created. For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas head on over to Rocks in My Dyer.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Stress

Things have been very busy around here at Pursuing Simplicity. I took a little break from posting in order to take care of all the things going on. If I let them, these activities can add to my stress over the holidays. I am a typical "Type A" personality. I long to be a sweet, mild spirit and a "Type B" but that was not how I was created or wired. So below are a few things that keep me sane this time of year:

I stay out of the mall. Yes, you heard me correct. I stay out of the mall! The last two years I have done most of my shopping online! I know it sounds geeky or crazy but I have found all the same bargains that they are offering in the stores online. My son wants something this year that he said is in the mall....well I found it online and it was a better price than the one at the mall. I received it in TWO days and it is perfect! You can also stay out of the mall at the holidays by purchasing your items ahead of the game. This is only the second time that I have not had all my shopping done by August. That in and of itself makes me very stressed but I have to say that the past two years I have found bargains online that I would not have found in late July!

I jump on the treadmill more! I have been exercising two times a day. Now I am not some goddess when it comes to physical fitness that is for sure but I have found that being on the treadmill first thing in the morning and once I get home from work has really taken a load off my stress level plus increased my energy!

I make a list and check it more than twice! I start out by making a list of what my teenagers and young adult son want for Christmas. We ask them to give us a few things they need and a want or two. We budget just 125.00 for each child. Whaaaattt? Yes siree bob, we only budget 125.00 for each child. Now I am sure you are wondering how in the heck do we buy anything of value for a 20, 17, 15, and 14 year old for Christmas? YOU ARE CREATIVE AND THRIFTY!

Now I know my children do not read this blog but I am a little hesitant to lay it all out here for you to read what I purchased for them. So I will leave a little to your imagination. There is a very popular brand of jacket out there currently and they are VERY expensive at least for this thrifty and frugal mom. I found two of the boys theirs for under 35.00!!!! 100.00 pullover, all teens love this brand, cool colors, purchased online at an outlet store! I purchased our daughter's jacket online this year as well. They are going to be SO excited and I still have money left over in the budget to get more items on their list!

Look for coupon codes when you shop online. I love to go to Kyle's blog, Rather-be-shopping when I am looking for bargains online. Check him out!

We focus more on the meaning of Christ-mas than the gifts. Our children have always gotten three gifts and then small things for the stocking. Christ was brought three gifts so we think it is more than perfect for our own to have three gifts. It really focuses more on the reason for the season than a free for all in the gift department.

Keep an accurate calendar and be prepared to use that two letter word...NO...It is hard with so many parties, activities, programs, and fun this time of year. We never leave out the children's activities at school. We have basketball games to attend, a choral concert for our daughter, a Winter Ball the teenagers are attending this weekend to get ready for, and two office parties. There are several other things the week of Christmas but we will take them under advisement as the time draws near. The main thing is not to overfill your calendar with so many activities that the holidays become a burden. It is a time to be joyful not stressed!

Remember traditions and make new memories. Christmas is particularly difficult for my family. My husband and three younger children lost their wife and mom after the holidays nearly eleven years ago. We have tried to make new memories and traditions as a family and I have kept some of their former traditions as well. We love putting the tree up together the day after Thanksgiving. We listen to Christmas music, have hot chocolate, and decorate the tree. We love to cuddle up and watch old Christmas movies together too.

It takes only a little imagination to come up with a few things to do each year that children look forward to. For instance, I made Monkey Bread our first Christmas together as a family. It is very simple and not too spectacular. It made a huge impact on the little ones at the time. I now make it every Christmas morning. It has become a tradition in our home. I only make it Christmas morning so they really look forward to it each year.

These are just a few things that I do to eliminate the stress of the holidays. What do you do that helps with your level of stress this time of year?