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31Jul

The Life-Changing Practice of Intentional Gratitude

thankful

In my Homemaker’s Quiet Time Journal, I mentioned a daily practice I have of gratitude and thanksgiving, and it’s one that I think needs a bit more attention and explanation.

Intentional Gratitude

The idea is simple. Everyday, I sit down with my gratitude journal, and list 3 things that I’m thankful for that day. 

I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and it has literally changed my perspective, and my life as a result. The thing is, I’ve always considered myself a thankful person. No matter how bad my day, I’ve always known that there are many things in my life that I can be thankful for. Every prayer in my life and in our household begins with thanks. Even just simply thanking the Lord for a new day. And His salvation. Our family. There are so many basic things to be thankful for that we take for granted every day, and I’ve always been aware of that.

However, being intentional about noticing blessings in the every day was a game-changer for me.

Some examples of things I’ve written in my gratitude journal:

  • A perfect morning for my youngest son’s birthday
  • When my oldest son had a reading breakthrough
  • The garden tomato of the year
  • A nice chat with a friend
  • My husband doing something kind for me
  • My boys being kind to one another
  • Washing dishes–yes, as a person who struggles with depression, this makes the list sometimes. I’m thankful for this chore because it means I had the energy to do it!
  • Good weather

Anyway, that’s a sample. They are specific, day-to-day, and not broad general things.

The only catch is nothing bad. So even on the worst day, I pull out 3 good things. 3 blessings to be thankful for.

The Power of Gratitude

How could such a simple concept be life-changing? Here are just some of the changes I’ve noticed in myself

  1. An overall more positive attitude. Again, I wasn’t a negative person to begin with. However, being intentional about noticing and focusing on blessings leads to a different level of having a more positive attitude. I find that I complain less just because it is becoming more of a habit to look for the blessings and focus on those in my daily life, rather than to notice and focus on things that go wrong. I recently spoke with my aunt who confirmed this as well. She got the idea to try this in her place of work. In her office, she suggested a rule that everyone start the day off with something positive. She said that it has been amazing the change that such a small change has had on the overall tone of the office. Simply practicing gratitude.
  2. Recognizing blessings.  So often, we take our blessings for granted. We see a beautiful sunset or a beautiful sunrise. Our kids bring us wildflowers from a field. Our husbands do something kind for us. A friend gives us a compliment. So many times these simple things are overlooked, unnoticed, or taken for granted. Being intentional with gratitude has helped me to notice these everyday blessings and give God the glory for them.
  3. Giving thanks through trials. Sometimes our trials can feel so big that we don’t notice the blessings in the midst of them. Forcing myself to do just that has made this much easier for me. In fact, it has become almost natural to me. When trials come, I’m immediately looking for the blessing. There is always something to be thankful for! 

What Does the Bible Say about Giving Thanks?

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:18

“giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” -Ephesians 5:20

The Bible says both that we should give thanks in all things, and for all things. Yikes! Sometimes that second part is really hard. I have written about that topic before, but I think one thing that helps us do this is to trust in His sovereignty, like Joseph did.

Resources

How do you make gratitude a part of your day?

 

31Jul

Get a FREE Sample Kit from Green Kid Crafts!

This post contains affiliate links.

gkc slider 2

As I’ve shared here before, I am a big fan of Green Kid Crafts! I love that their kits are both fun and educational. My boys are always so excited to get the latest Green Kid Crafts kit in the mail.

Starting July 31st, you can get a FREE sample kit from them! The last time these sample kits were offered, they disappeared very quickly, so request yours today!

What’s in the sample kit

The Wings sample kit includes:

  • Everything you need to create your own wearable wings
  • Watercolor paints, giant pipe cleaners, and color diffusing wings
  • bonus Lorax magazine.

If this project sounds awesome, you can also get it as a part of their award-winning Interesting Insects Discovery Box, along with 3 other projects.

Noctural-Animals-Discovery-Box

 

Request your free kit now.

Note: You pay $4.95 shipping on the free sample kit. You will be automatically enrolled in a Green Kid Crafts monthly subscription, and may cancel at anytime. I have found them very easy to work with, and they have a no-hassle cancellation process.

21Jul

Are you taking advantage of this secret Amazon Prime Perk?

If you have Amazon Prime, you need to read this post and make sure you’re taking advantage of this secret perk! This post does contain affiliate links.

amazon secret perk

UPDATE:  As of 7/23, the current credit being offered is $5 Prime Pantry credit! Free groceries? Yes, please!!!

Last week I shared some of the reasons that I love Amazon Prime. Today I want to share the details of one of the lesser known “secret” perks of Amazon Prime. Every time I talk about this perk, the response is the same, “Wow, I had no idea!” So, I thought it was worth mentioning for you all, to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Amazon Prime membership.

How to get your Promotional Credit

Everyone knows that you can get free 2-day shipping with your Amazon Prime membership.

However, if you’re not in a hurry for your stuff, you can get a little bonus. Amazon offers promotional credits as incentive for Prime members who choose free no-rush shipping instead of free 2-day shipping. I have received credits of $1, $2, and even $3 per purchase. Promotional credits are generally good for kindle, mp3, and instant video purchases.

Here is what Amazon says:

Choose FREE No-Rush Shipping and we’ll automatically apply a $1 digital credit (applicable to select eBooks, digital music and videos) to your account once your order ships.You can use this credit by logging on to Amazon.com or browsing your Kindle device. Find an eBook, Amazon Instant Video, or Digital Music that you want to purchase and we’ll automatically apply the credit at checkout. Offer redemption requires customers to be in the U.S.

The exact amount varies–I’ve been offered $1, $2, or even $3 per purchase.

NOTE: This only seems to be offered on a computer, not mobile devices. 

1. Turn off 1-click ordering

In order to get your promotional credit for choosing no-rush shipping, you may need to turn off one-click ordering. You can do that by clicking here (you may be prompted to sign in if you aren’t already signed in). Or go to account –> settings –>1-click settings.

2. Add an item to your cart

I have found that this should work as long as the price of the item isn’t less than the amount of the credit. Also, the amount of the credit seems to vary. Yesterday, I purchased an $8.99 item and received a $3 credit. Today, I am being offered a $1 credit, so I decided to try it out with a low-priced item. For this tutorial, I bought this kids bible-songs cd for just $1.99.

kids bible songs

So, I got a CD delivered to my door for $1.99, AND got a $1 credit to use on a digital purchase of music, instant video, or kindle books. With the frequency of $.99 sales on kindle books, that’s a free book!

Another great deal going on at Amazon this week is this Love Comes Softly Complete Collection, 10-DVD Set for just $7.99 and free prime shipping!

love comes softly

3. Select No-Rush Shipping

When you go through the check out process, your final screen will look like this. You can see the circled portion explaining the $1 credit. The default for prime members is the free 2-day shipping, so you’ll have to select the Free no-rush shipping to get the promotional credit, which in this case is $1 (Remember, my CD just cost $1.99, and I’ll get free shipping, and a $1 credit back!)

amazon prime perk instructions

4. Spending Your Promotional Credit

Your promotional credit will be automatically applied toward your qualifying order. You can check your Amazon promotional credit balance here (you may need to sign in first if you aren’t already signed in). I like to use my promotional credit on discounted books to get the most out of them, but sometimes I like to splurge a bit too, and it makes it more fun to know that I’m spending “free” money. Here are some of the things I’ve been able to get with these credits over the past year.

And lots and lots more because, well, I might be a bit of a book fanatic! I have $20 credit right now that I can’t decide how to spend–my wishlist is too long! lol

Additional Information about this Promotional Credit

  • The amount varies. I have received $1, $2, and even $3 in promotional credit when I place an order and choose no-rush shipping.
  • If you choose no-rush shipping, you should allow for 5 business days (about a week real time) before receiving your order. Sometimes I have received items sooner, depending on how it is shipped, etc.
  • You can “save up” your credits. If you’re wanting something with a higher cost, you can save up your credits to purchase it. You don’t have to use them individually. For example, I have $20 in credits right now. I could use that to purchase 20 $.99 items, or one $20 item.
  • However, be aware that these credits to expire. When you’re in the checkout process, you can click on the “details” link to see when your promotional credits will expire. Usually mine have had an expiry date of 3-4 months out, which is plenty of time, but definitely something to be aware of.

Note: All of my credits have been good for kindle purchases, but my total for “kindle editions” is always $0.00. As long as your promotional credit was advertised as including Kindle purchases, it will still work, even if your credits aren’t listed in the “kindle editions” box. 

Sometimes, I need to get my item in 2 days for one reason or another, but there are many times I’m not especially in a hurry and those times are great for earning these promotional credits toward digital purchases (mostly kindle books for me!)

So, there you have it. The secret Amazon Prime perk that most people don’t know about. Be sure to share with all your friends who may have Amazon Prime–they’ll thank you!

Did you know about this secret perk? Have you used it?

13Jul

Why Amazon Prime is Worth it (+ Secret Benefits you may not know about & a GIVEAWAY!)

amazon prime day

When I first learned about Amazon Prime, I was very hesitant about it. I’m very frugal (okay, I’m cheap!), and that $99 investment seemed like a lot. Would I really get my money’s worth? I wasn’t so sure.

However, after having and using Amazon Prime for the last year, I can say with certainty, it’s worth the $99! 

At least, we think it’s worth it, and I wanted to share some of the reasons why, including some of the lesser known benefits of Amazon Prime.

Amazon Prime Day

amazon prime day

This Wednesday, July 15th, Amazon is having a celebration that they are calling Prime Day. The day will be filled with deals which only prime members can take advantage of. They are saying it will be better than Black Friday–and they had TONS of awesome deals for Black Friday!

So, now is a great time to take advantage of your 30-day free trial of Prime, so that you can access the great deals they are offering (the deals have already started, and will continue leading up to Prime Day).

Sign up for a 30-day free trial

Early Access to Deals

In addition to prime-only deals, prime members also get early access to deals, such as Black Friday deals. This is great because there were several deals that sold out during the prime early access during Black Friday deals last year.

No minimums

Amazon offers free shipping with a $35 purchase. However, I found that I was spending more than I would have otherwise, because of the high cost of shipping–in some cases, it was literally less to add more stuff in order to get to that minimum for free shipping. I tried to be responsible about it and buy things I thought we’d need, but I still spent more than I’d planned.

With Amazon Prime, I can get free shipping on anything (with the exception of add-on items).

Some examples of low cost items:

The point here is that there are no minimums! If you need a $5 item and it’s not an add-on, you can get it shipped to you for free. This is great for me since I live in a small town in a rural area and it’s harder to find things locally.

Competitive Pricing

When Amazon first started, most of the things they sold were more expensive than I could get at local stores like Walmart or the Dollar store. Now, I’m finding more and more that their pricing is very competitive, and many things I can actually find cheaper than at Walmart (which is a 30 minute drive one way, so I also save on gas and time!).

Here are just a few deals I’ve gotten recently at Amazon.

  • Curtain Panels for $5 each–they were nicer than the ones I could find at the dollar store, and about half the price. These were add-ons, so I had to add $5 more to get to the $25 limit, since I needed 4 panels, but I still saved about $15 and got a bonus item.
  • A Crock-pot for less than Walmart (and less hassle since all I had to do was wait for it to come!). Note: I purchased this several months ago and the price has now increased.
  • Brain-Quest Workbooks for $6.69 (they are now around $7.75)–the nearest place to get these is 30 minutes to an hour away and they are $12.95.
  • Turbo-tax. The price has now increased, but I purchased this at tax time and saved around $75 when compared to the turbo tax website.
  • Love Comes Softly 10-dvd complete collection for $7.99. This is a great deal! The set retails for $19.99, which is around what I paid when I bought it, and even that was a great deal!
  • A 2-pack of our favorite universal remote for $10.99. The price has now increased to $15, but we couldn’t find this locally and the closest thing was at wal-mart (30 minutes away, one way), and it was $25 for one remote. We got an extra for much less.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop! The point is, there are some great deals to be had at amazon, and those deals are even better when you have free 2-day shipping with no minimums.

30-Day Free Trial!

If you aren’t sure about the $99 price tag, you can take advantage of their 30-day free trial. Sign up now to get access to the great Prime Day deals! Just remember to cancel your free trial before your card is charged if you don’t want to continue your membership. I like to set a reminder on my phone for things like that, because I’m prone to forgetting.

Free for Students!

amazon student

Are you a student with a .edu email address? If so, you can take advantage of FREE Amazon prime benefits!

Click here to sign up as a student for FREE 2-day shipping!

Free 2-day shipping

Okay, so this is probably the perk that everyone already knows about, but it’s worth mentioning! Sometimes I procrastinate or am otherwise not able to order something, and I need it quickly. 2-day shipping is about as quick as it gets for shipping things, unless you want to pay an exorbitant amount of shipping fees. And getting it for FREE is just awesome. They even offer weekend delivery for some items!

$1-$2 credit for no-rush shipping

This is one of those quiet perks that not everyone knows about. If you’re not in a hurry for your purchase, you can be rewarded for choosing no-rush shipping. If you choose no-rush shipping, your item will arrive in around a week, and you’ll get a $1 or $2 credit for certain digital purchases! Right now, I have $14.07 in promotional credits in my account, just waiting to be spent on kindle books–just for choosing no-rush shipping on some purchases that I wasn’t in a hurry for. I could also use it for streaming videos, or mp3 purchases.

Kindle Book Lending Program

If you’re a prime member, once a month you can borrow a book from the Kindle lending library. There are many to choose from, including my book Intentional Marriage. This is a great way to try out new books and authors at no risk to you.

Streaming Video/Music

amazon movies

This is an aspect of Amazon Prime that I haven’t used much, but it’s a great perk to people with better internet access limits than I have. Your prime membership includes streaming video–get it for about the cost of netflix! They have a large variety of movies, shows, including the PBS hit, Downton Abbey.

They also have a huge selection of kids & family shows.

Sign up for Amazon Prime and get free streaming movies and TV

Share Your Account w/ up to 4 other people

If the price tag still seems overwhelming, you can share your account (and split the membership fee). You can share among family members living in the same household, or among co-workers. Only the 2-day shipping is shareable, so the other features–prime video, music, and lending library, are only accessible to the primary account holder. However, this is a great way to save some money on the 2-day free shipping benefits.

Related Articles & Deals

GIVEAWAY!

I’m sooo excited about today’s giveaway! Since I love Amazon Prime so much, I decided to host a giveaway.

Amazon allows you to give an Amazon Prime membership as a gift, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do–for one of you!

There are many chances for bonus entries! Enter via the rafflecopter below :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

01Jul

When people aren’t worth anything.

God shows love sinners

My son made a comment today that made me sad. He said “bad guys aren’t worth anything.”

He is 5 years old, speaking from a sheltered world where villains are 2-dimensional characters on a piece of paper and not real human beings with feelings and souls. Either way, I set him straight. No, I don’t want my son personally reaching out to many bad guys right now. Particularly not the comic book villain variety. But I do want him to understand that the grace of God can cover even the worst of “bad guys” and make them a new creation just like that –insert snapped fingers.

Maybe it’s not a perfect explanation of regeneration, but it’s what my 5 year old could understand.

Then I came home and stumbled upon a facebook status posted from a local business establishment where this business owner and commenters basically said the same thing–some people just aren’t worth anything.

The “bad guys” in this case are drug addicts, but it could have been anything. We have lots of “bad guys” and we take pleasure in turning them into 2-dimensional characters without a soul or feelings.

It’s so much easier to judge and hate that way.

We don’t want to see that the drug addict has tried to quit, fallen down in the floor and cried out in desperation begging for something, anything that will help him overcome the darkness that threatens him every single day in the form of addiction. Addiction is a beast. Yes, it starts out as a choice, but it quickly overtakes.

Sin is like that.

Oswald Chambers says it much better than I could, “Stop having a measuring stick for other people. There is always at least one more fact, which we know nothing about, in every person’s situation. The first thing God does is to give us a thorough spiritual cleaning. After that, there is no possibility of pride remaining in us. I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.” (June 17, My Utmost for His Highest)

Created by God

We were handmade by God, every one of us. He made the least of these.

But we deem them not worth anything. We judge them and judge their families (I have a precious dear friend this is happening to right now). We sit up on our “high horse” as my daddy used to say and we look down saying we’d never fall into that.  I would never do that. No one in my family would ever do that.

And it really doesn’t matter what “that” is. The point is, we’re better than they are, so we’d never do it.

That’s a lie. Without the grace of God in my life, I am no better and neither is anybody else. I’ve been reading some great devotions about this topic recently in My Utmost for His Highest (you can read it online for free)

“The greatest characteristic of a saint is humility, as evidenced by being able to say honestly and humbly, “Yes, all those, as well as other evils, would have been exhibited in me if it were not for the grace of God. Therefore, I have no right to judge.” (June 22, My Utmost for His Highest)

Jesus Christ died for the least of these. He died for the vilest sinner. There is no one outside the reach of God’s grace. At the same time, no one is good without Him. No one.

Jesus gave a parable about two men who came to pray.

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 8:10-14)

Which one of these men are you? Are you the one who looks around at all the “bad guys” and says “Thank you Lord that I’m so much better than they are?” Or are you the one who recognizes that you are a sinner and that any good in you comes straight from Him?

There are consequences to our actions and choices, of course. I’m not saying there aren’t or shouldn’t be. I’m not saying we should enable anyone in their sins. We shouldn’t endorse sin.

But we should love people enough to directly help them if/when we can, and pray for them fervently when we can’t. We need to recognize that this world has a sin problem, and that we are saved by grace alone.

And we don’t get to decide who’s not worth anything.

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