Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Make Him Proud


I've been planning to post something for at least a week now but wasn't quite sure what. I haven't exactly been in the best mood and I didn't want to be Debbie Downer by posting something negative that no one wants to read. As most of you know, I lost my Grandaddy last week and I miss him so much already. So, I decided I would try to focus on the good (as was my advice in a recent post)and look forward to the new year and I'll dedicate that to him. We can only hope that the new year will bring better things even if you have been fortunate enough to have a wonderful 2008. We should always hope and strive for better while being satisfied with what we have already been given. To reflect on this past year and what I have been blessed with- I finally got to stay home with my children and get to know them better. This year has been one of rediscovery and findings for myself. I've learned more about myself (some good, some bad) than I ever knew before. Finally, I was able to reflect on life and what I want out of it. Though I may not always get it, it still felt nice to be able to stop and examine life for a moment instead of seeing it fly past me. Priorities have been changed in my life and for the better. Keeping them in check is still a task but at least I know my goals. I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions because I think we should always try to be better people. However, I will throw that aside and publicly announce my "intentions" for myself and my family this coming year. I may regret this when I look back at it later and see that I actually put it in writing but maybe it will hold me accountable!
For 2009, I'd like to be more organized. I did really good when I first came home from work but I'm starting to feel overwhelmed again and that's not really a place I'd like to be. I want to get my house "under control" so that the maintenance of it will be less of a headache. Structure with the kids is something else I plan to work on. Although there's already some in place, it could definitely use some improvement and I think we'll all get along better! Income - I need some and that's all I'll say about that one for now. And, not to be a bummer, but I'd like to at least mention my Grandaddy. I want to continue to do as I would have before to make him proud. I didn't realize until he was gone just how much I depended upon him for advice and his opinion. I also didn't realize that after God, he was next in line of those that I wanted to make proud. His morals and values were steadfast and strong. I could always count on him for the truth and his opinion to be based on the principles of the Bible. Because he was such a strong christian and a wonderful, respected person, the look of pride and joy on his face when I or my children pleased him was absolutely priceless and nothing will ever replace that. And last but not least, I want to be a better christian and worker for God. There are things that I have put off that I should already be doing and I'd like to change that this year. I need to be a more active church member and speak up about my beliefs to others. After all, that would have made my Grandaddy very proud!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Because Disasters Make Great Stories

Don't you agree? You may not think so at the time of the incident but human nature loves to share negative information. Sometimes stories are told for dramatic effect and sometimes they are told for the humorous entertainment of others. When something happens in our lives that is unexpected and usually unwanted, we tend to share it more than when something wonderful happens. Other than winning the lottery of course! Often, our friends hear about something bad that has happened to us but never hear the positive outcome, which usually follows a little later. They may ask you at a later time what ever happened with so and so and its then that we realize we forgot to tell them it was taken care of! We are so quick to call and complain to them and display our problems yet slow to give them the positive updates. Why do we do that? I think its because we crave the sympathy, concern and attention. People tend to want to help us and take care of us by showering us with attention when we are in need. However, when times are good, there's a quick "glad to hear it" and the conversation ends shortly thereafter. So which side of the situation needs to change in order for us to share more good news versus bad? Perhaps it should be the side of the person hearing the negative or positive news. We should be sympathetic and caring to someone going through a tough time. However, we should be even more excited and share in the joy of the positive news more. This might change how we "ask" for attention. If we know that a good happening will generate as much attention, then we can start being more positive. And we all know that happiness can spread just as much as sadness. For the new year, try to start focusing more on the positives in every situation. Look for the happy things in our lives that we can share with others and be more excited about those same things in the lives of our friends and family. Who knows, it might become a "pay it forward" type of thing. The next time a "disaster" occurs in your life, try to play it down and share it less. And before ending this post, let me share some good news. Our familiy has been truly blessed in the month of December so far. We have received unexpected generosity in many different ways including support from friends and family, the gift of time and monetary gifts. To any of you who have contributed to our blessings, we thank you and hope to return the generosity back to you in your time of need.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Magic of Christmas

It took about 25 years to come back around but finally I believe in Santa Claus again! To make a long story short, I discovered the truth about Santa way too early (I was 5). I've always been a little upset over that because I feel like I got gyped and couldn't experience the "magic" of Christmas as long as most children get to. Don't worry Mom, it wasn't tramatic or anything, just disappointing! Christmas has still remained to be my favorite and most anticipated holiday. Everything about it makes me smile- the decorations, the shopping, the giving, the receiving, the chaos, the smells, the smiles, the family, the friends, and most importantly the reason. I look forward to Thanksgiving each year mostly because that's when I can officially start listening to Christmas music and put up the decorations. Unfortunately, some of the excitement was replaced by stress once I moved out on my own and it became more of a responsibility for me. Now, I had to worry about paying for gifts, cooking, cleaning and all those other things we do during the holidays. Don't misunderstand; I love doing those things but do not enjoy the stress of so much to do in such a short time frame! This year some of that should be alleviated due to my lack of employment. Now there are new pressures; financial ones that make us worry and many of you are sharing in that with me this year due to our economy. Each year up until now, Christmas has gradually lost some of its shine in my life. I still looked forward to it and enjoyed the things that come with it but there was more and more dread as well. This year, I was looking forward to the time I have never had before to get prepared and spend time with my family creating more traditions and continuing the old ones. But of course, I was still worried about where the money would come from. I found myself thinking, "I hope there really is a Santa Claus or I might have some disappointed children on Christmas morning". Those of you who are parents know that this thought is more devasting than if you woke up missing a limb! I realized that I have been slowing inching back to my own way instead of God's way. Instead of letting him keep the reigns which I had pledged to him a while back, I was slowly taking them back. So, instead of being in control, I found myself in a situation that I could not handle. I pleaded with him and gave him back the control. He proved himself again in less than one day. Yesterday, I received an answer that was completely unexpected but will provide. I am still in awe and do not quite have the words for it other than thank you. Despite what I read and believe, it always amazing to witness what God can do in our lives. Finally, the Magic of Christmas is back! "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God" Ephesians 2:8

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful

Already, its Thanksgiving again. I can't believe it. Seems like about a month ago when I posted something last Thanksgiving. What our parents said is becoming more true everyday; the older you get, the faster time flies. So much has happened over the last year that I have a different perspective on Thanksgiving this year. I'm still thankful for the many blessings I've received but what I now regard as a "blessing" may have changed a little. Before, it may have been the obvious things but those that we take for granted. That includes family, health, material possessions, you get the point. Don't misunderstand. I'm still thankful for those things but I now see the significance of things I had never before considered to be a blessing. I realize now that even those things we don't understand should be contemplated and we need to appreciate God's intentions and plan for us. Although we should continue to pray for good and for miracles, we should try to find a way to be thankful everyday, in every situation. That includes the trying times; those times that test our faith. Its when we are sad, angry or depressed that we struggle to find faith, to find the positives, to find God. It always seems easier to be thankful for the good and happy times. The next time you are having trouble finding something to be thankful for, remember this. God loves us always, unconditionally. He is forgiving, loving and everlasting, throughout our good times and our bad. No matter how much we turn our back on him, curse him, judge him or do the same towards others, He forgives, forgets and loves. No matter what your situation, whether it be sickness, loss or regrets, remember that His cross was heavier to bear than any that we could ever imagine and for that, we can be THANKFUL. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving! "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." Psalm 107:1

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Simple Winter Pleasures

A warm fire in the fireplace on a frigid night

Austin's birthday

Christmas songs on the radio

Boots

Children learning about Jesus' birth for the first time

Alex's Birthday

New Sweaters and comfy sweatshirts

Getting under the covers at bedtime

Emma, Logan, Ava, Lauren and Landon's first Christmas

Christmas Parties

New episodes of favorite shows

Fuzzy socks

Snuggling

Christmas break from school

Bonfires where you can see everyone's breath

Christmas trees and lights

Toasted Marshmellows

Snow Flurries

Friday after Thanksgiving

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Home Alone

Nathan in a Charlie Brown costume

Kid's anticipation of Santa Claus

Evergreen, vanilla and spiced apple smells

Christmas cards and emails

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Gloves, Hats and Scarves

And many, many more.......... what are your simples pleasures of winter?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WHY???

Someone please explain to me why human nature makes people do such unreasonable and stupid things. Or better yet, with that being the case, why do the same people continue to choose that path and not search for a better way? While I realize that doesn't completely erase our human nature, it can at least make you think before making the wrong decision. Then, you're choosing to be defiant and not just ignorant to the fact. Maybe its easier for people to do as they please without knowing better than to try to be a better person. I know that many people choose that path but I will never understand why. Still, I realize that many also claim ignorance when that is not the case. I believe in the concept of common sense and I'm frustrated to no end when someone ignores it. Its given to us to use so why waste it? Its annoying to see someone throw away their life by ignoring common sense but even more frustrating to me is for someone to hurt others by doing the same. Even if they lack the respect for themselves to do the right thing, what is it that makes a person feel entitled to hurt someone else with their stupid decisions. What makes people say "that's your problem" because its not and its time for us to stop accepting this explanation. Perhaps that's what enables people to act on their human instincts instead of considering all aspects of a situation, including how it will affect someone else. Maybe if those being hurt will take responsibility of the situation more often and stop letting others treat them as if they are less important, some of it would cease. Who knows? We might all become better people if we just have something as simple as respect for ourselves and those we care about.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just an Update

What a busy month October has been and I'm afraid that its only going to get worse as we go into the holiday season. Sorry for the posting delay. This is actually going to be like an update more than anything. I shouldn't say that its going to get worse because I enjoy the holidays so much. Despite our "economic situation", I'm looking forward to them this year more than the last several years because I can actually see it coming and hopefully get prepared sooner. I'm going to try and make a big deal out of traditions this year more than ever too since I have more time at home with my family. You know, the usual things like baking cookies and making Christmas ornaments and cards. I want to do this while the kids are still young enough to enjoy it instead of dread it! We'll start by hitting all the grandparents' houses on Thanksgiving Day although we tend to spend most of that day with Curtis' family since we see mine much more often. And then.... decorating for Christmas. We've tried to make this a weekend after Thanksgiving tradition. Last year was a week or so later but same general timeframe. Hopefully Curtis will enjoy Christmas a little more this year too. The last several years, he has been working on the Christmas lights at Soundside Park which he dreaded but not this year! He can finally enjoy it without worrying about the work that usually comes with it. Of course, he'll still have to put up the lights at our house. Luckily, he has a good system going with those so it really doesn't take him that long anymore. The kids and I usually decorate the tree and inside the house. I still get to see them get so excited when its time to do those things. The "magic" of Christmas is still there for them and its fun to watch. Enough about Christmas. You'd think I work for WalMart or something, already talking about it before Halloween has even passed. Back to October. Austin's last baseball game will be Saturday and so will Alex's first parade of the season. We also have to attend a baby shower and a birthday party later that day. Sunday will be just as crazy. Then next week, off to the mountains for a little getaway which I'm looking forward to. Pray that we are safe while we're gone and that we can have good weather. The last time we went to the mountains which was 3 years ago, it rained almost the entire time. Either way, I'm sure it will be nice to get a break from real life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Special Friend

Choosing someone special to write about was a lot more difficult than I imagined. There are many people in my life whom I cherish for one reason or another. Still, this person jumped out at me when I was trying to think of who was not only a friend but someone who just makes the world a better place by being here. Vickie Morrison. Anyone who knows her knows exactly what I'm talking about without me writing any further. But I'm going to anyway! Vickie is about the most kind hearted person I have ever met. I think she would do almost anything for even a stranger if they truly needed it. Thoughtful doesn't even begin to describe her personality. I know without any doubt that if I called on Vickie for something, she'd be there for me. Or most anyone else for that matter. She manages to be caring and concerned without being intrusive. It seems that she always calls or emails me at just the right time. Whenever I need a little boost, I can count on her. She can cheer me up when I'm down and make me laugh when I feel like crying. Although I don't get to talk to her or see her as much as I'd like, I know that when we do meet again, it will be like we speak everyday. For anyone who knows Vickie, I'm sure you feel the same. So make sure you tell her the next time you see her how much you appreciate what a terrific person she is and what she means to you. I should do that more often and I'm going to start now. Vickie, you are an amazing person and an inspiration in my christian walk. I appreciate who you are and what a great friend you are to me. Thank you and I love you!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hand-me-downs

My wonderful Aunt Wendy helped me go through piles of hand-me-down clothes yesterday to sort out what my kids will be wearing this winter, what will wait until next year and what will be passed along to someone else due to my extreme "pickiness" (not sure if that's a word but hopefully it makes sense) about what my children are wearing. It doesn't sound like a big task but I'm sure if you ask her, she will tell you that you have no idea. I decided to make them try on almost every piece of clothing so I don't end up with what I usually call the "spare" drawer. That's where those awkward clothes go that don't fit right, don't fit at all or that simply don't work for my kids. (That's the "pickiness" again) In the past, I would have put them aside in a drawer "in case" they needed play clothes or something. For some reason, I believed that I would not be so extreme that I'd actually be anal about what they wore to play in our house or yard when we were not expecting visitors. What have I been thinking all these years? I know myself better than that but was apparently in denial and in turn wasting precious space. Now I've come to terms with this obsessive behavior and instead of trying to change it, I'll just accept it and make life easier for myself this winter. So back to the reason I chose to write about this. We've had a tough week and going through those clothes put things back into perspective for me. I was falling into a rut, only thinking about things I wanted to happen and the things that I did not have. Now, looking at these piles of clothes around my living room, in the hallway, and even more in the girls' room, I'm reminded that we will be OK. God will take care of us and provide our needs. Although my obsessive personality is kicking in and I have the overwhelming need to put them all away immediately (even though there's no room for them anywhere), I'm very thankful. I have friends who think of us when they have clothes to give away and I will never be too good to accept them. My children will look as great as any others in their hand-me-downs and I will be proud to say that God has provided yet again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Financial Crisis

First of all, what does that mean? I guess it depends on who you are asking and when. If you're asking me, I'll tell you its what I've been in since I moved out of my mom's house. It just never seems to end does it? Every time you think you're getting ahead, some unforeseen situation arises which usually requires exactly the amount of money you thought you were saving in the bank account. I know we should look at that in a different light. After all, aren't we lucky that enough money was there because it hasn't always been, right? Many times, I realize that God is taking care of us and our situations in that respect but its hard to keep that in focus. I quickly find myself getting frustrated because I don't get to keep that money or spend it on what I thought we needed. But I have to remind myself that I am not supposed to worry because God has said he will take care of my needs and he's proven that so far in my life.
So what does this financial crisis mean in reference to our country today? If you've seen a newspaper or turned on your television, you're very aware of the situation on Wall Street and the demise of some major financial institutions which have until now been some substantial representation of American wealth. So where does this leave the average US citizen and what does this mean to us? Higher taxes, decrease in our ability to gain credit, loss of stocks and retirement funds, and worst of all, the loss of what little bit of trust we had left in people. How could these owners and CEO's become so greedy that they lost sight of the fortune already granted to them? I'm not judging but truly asking this question because I've never been in a situation of financial wealth and therefore do not understand what it does to a person's way of thinking. Perhaps we can't blame money for a person's actions. I wouldn't think so anyway. After all it's not money that is the enemy but the love of it, right? That's a tough concept to swallow. How many of us, myself included, would be able to say that they do not care about money or that we've never put money first in our lives? If we're honest, I doubt that many of us could say that. Still, I am very frustrated with the current status of our country's financial situation and with those who got us to this point. They were supposed to be the leaders, the intelligent ones who made the right decisions concerning money and they got us into worse trouble than I've could ever imagine getting myself into.... SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS!!! That's ludicrous. And what bothers me even more is how it got to this point before anyone realized there was a problem. If you or I miss one credit card payment, the collectors are threatening to make our lives miserable and take all we have!
I don't have any answers here but suggest you look to prayer and your bible to shed light on this situation. Wouldn't it be great if we could get back to the days of the Old Testament so we never found ourselves in this predicament again?
"They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty." 2 Kings 12:15

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Did They Get There?


Do you ever read a book, watch a movie or see someone famous that you admire for whatever reason and wonder how they got where they are? I like to watching the shows that come on the E! channel showing how famous actors and actresses started out. Some were inevitably going to be stars because of famous parents, siblings, etc. Some worked hard at acting for years and went through many rough disappointments before they finally got a break. Many, however, simply got lucky. I'm sure some of those people would disagree but by all accounts, it seems to be the truth. There are thousands of people who dream of singing in a concert in front of millions or acting in the latest box office hit. Others work hard at writing books, scripts, or plays, hoping to get them published. Still, most of these people face one let down after another. Some, however, are fortunate enough to have the right person see their work, or be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of that big opportunity. The point of this is that it just doesn't seem to be a fair system in comparison to many career paths. Take doctors, lawyers and teachers for example. With hard work, lots of studying and a good school, each of these will take their desired path and become what they set out to be in the beginning. This is true of many professions. I guess this has come to light for me for several reasons lately. My children have really made me realize the odds because Austin wants to be the next sports superstar and Alex wants to be an actress or a Pop princess. I'm sure lots of children have these types of dreams (although I never aimed that high for some reason....) and they may change their minds several times before they get through school. But what if they don't? What are their chances of seeing those dreams come true and is there anything at all that I can do to help make it happen for them? I'm not sure there's much more I can do than dream with them, encourage them and pray for them. I'll dream with them to keep it alive and real. I'll encourage them by letting them know they are capable of achieving it but special even if they don't. And last but certainly not least, I'll pray for them that they always take the path God would have them take and find peace with the decisions they've made and where they end up. Who knows; maybe that's all it really took for those famous people to get where they are!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something New and Rewarding

I've decided to try something new in my blog. I recently heard someone on a talk show say that before doing anything else, he starts every day by doing something nice for someone else (It could mean starting the coffee pot for your spouse or praying for someone in need). That's a great habit for us all to adopt. Along that same thought, I'd like to make a habit of dedicating at least one post every month or two to honor someone else. It may be someone I know or someone that I may not know but feel they are special for some reason or another. This does mean that I have to start blogging much more often or every blog will be like a biography! That may get old to the readers. However, I hope that this will be something that everyone could look forward to since it may be you or someone you know. I would most certainly welcome the comments on these, especially if its to add something nice about the person. If anyone has suggestions of someone, I welcome those too. Email them to me at carlapc@mail2faith.com. You may be able to give me some insight into that person too! This should be a great confidence booster for people! We should all start doing more for other people. This can be really difficult considering how busy our lives are these days. Still, I think that the rewarding feeling it brings will definitely be worth the few moments it takes. We could each start with a goal of one kind act per day and build up from there. Eventually, it will become habit or second nature to think of others before ourselves. Let's all try to put this into practice for just a few days and see what a difference it can make in our lives and the lives of those we touch!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quality not just Quantity


For those that know the details of my life, this subject may seem a little off. I'm at a point in my life where I'm spending more time with my children than I ever have or ever could. To make it more clear, let me put it this way. Since March 15, I have been with my children every day except my birthday and for a few hours yesterday. That's a large quantity of time by any one's standards! Don't get me wrong. I've truly enjoyed almost every minute of it but I've learned something over the past couple of weeks. Although I believe that time spent with children and family is extremely important, I would like to point out that the one thing that is much more important than that is the quality of that time. For the last two weeks of summer until school started today, I seem to have just been in existence with my children versus spending time interacting with them. The long hours and little appreciation of this job was obviously beginning to wear on me to the point that I had to give myself a pep talk to make it through those last few days. It has been a fun yet exhausting summer trying to care for and entertain 4 very different personalities and 3 different age groups. (For anyone wondering, I had my 3 and was babysitting 1 other child) Fortunately, I kept the children busy enough that I'm hoping they didn't notice my detachment over the last couple of weeks. Despite my feelings of despair, I became aware that I was not spending quality time with my children. Realizing this, I chose to do something about it. After all, that is why I chose to stay at home so I need to take advantage of this while I still can! First things first, I took a break for a few hours without any kids yesterday. That was a much needed and well deserved break I might add. Being a Psychology student, I know how important it is to get yourself straight mentally before you can give to others. Beginning today, I vowed to get back in the game and so far, its been a great day. It does seem to be a long day since we had to start our day so early and we had gotten used to those lazy days of summer, but I'm sure we'll get back into the routine soon. The girls were eager to begin our new schedule and I can tell the difference already. They have both been much more agreeable and easy to manage today. What an improvement over last week! I can't say that Austin was quite as eager to get back to the grind but I'm sure he'll adjust quickly as he always does. I'm looking forward to his 4th grade year and the new challenges that he'll face. I think it will be good for us all and I can't say how glad I am that I'm hear to support him this year. I think he appreciates it too. He's also planning to play baseball, both in the fall and spring since we couldn't ever talk him into playing football this year. Still he's excited about that and his guitar lessons are continuing (with his new guitar that his dad bought him). And finally, I have the opportunity to be at his games and listen to him play without being rushed. Curtis has not had the same advantage I've had this year (and I'm not sure he'd have taken it anyway! jk) This has made it even more apparent to me that the little time we see him should be quality time and that we have to make it count. Although most people do not get the opportunity to spend such a large quantity of time with their families, its so important to make sure the little time they do have is full of quality.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lower Income Means Less Intelligence -WHAT?!?

Is this statement true? Even if it "were" true, it would be a generalization or a stereotype. But does this stereotype have a basis and if so, why? I won't get into the reasons about why the subject came up in my mind but I think its worthy of discussion. Our human nature often triumphs over our spiritual guidance in conversations such as this. We tend to see the world through our own eyes than through the eyes of God. That's why stereotypes exist in the first place. We don't have the innate ability of our Creator to see each individual as just that, an individual and not part of any particular type of people. That's why there are blond jokes, racist jokes, feminine jokes and many others that we laugh at even though they can be hurtful. In case you were wondering, I am including myself each time I say "we" because I am as guilty as anyone else I know. Back to the subject at hand. Our great country has decided that lower income means less intelligence. by "our great country", I'm not only speaking of its leaders but the people of America as well. We have created programs like Head Start for children and other government and state funded programs to assist with educating children. However, to be a part of these programs, you must fall below a certain income bracket, based on the size of your family. Therefore, you could conclude from this that we are in fact saying that families with lower incomes have children that need more education. This gives the implication that poverty is the result of less intelligent people. While I believe there may be a correlation, I don't think this is the message that was intended with the implementation of these education programs. Instead of assuming that people who take advantage of such programs are less intelligent, perhaps we should take a different approach. These are the people who are smart enough to realize that their children need an education and they are smart enough to place them in such programs. Its not necessarily that the less wealthy are any less intelligent but instead that the wealthy have left them uneducated and without options. Now who should we judge? Perhaps we should learn by the example of God and judge no one according to his riches on this earth.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Living Through Them.....

I've often heard that you shouldn't try to "live" your life through other people. However, I've discovered that's virtually impossible once you have children. I'm always thinking of their futures and considering what they might do next as if it were myself. I don't see it as being selfish but I suppose I understand how a person might have that perception. As long as a parent is genuinely concerned about the welfare of their children and consider their best interests while doing so, I don't see the harm in it. After all, they're children and if their parents don't encourage them to do things they think are best, who will? They certainly can't make their own decisions at this young age. I do believe that it can get out of hand and more than once I've had to get myself in check and rethink what's best for my children and not me. It's easy to let things get out of control if you are trying to re-live your own childhood. There's just so many things that we want for our children that we want to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. Unfortunately, not all of those opportunities are what's best for them and as long as we keep things in perspective, its a healthy encouragement. We just have to take caution to not let our drive for the success of our children overcome their happiness. We must also make sure they remember the principles and values we want instilled in them. It would be a shame and reflect failure of a parent if they forget that family and more importantly our Lord gives them true happiness and success where it matters.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This Great Country


The United States of America. We live in the most wonderful, magnificent, beautiful country on this planet and Independence Day is a holiday that should be celebrated close behind Christmas and Easter. The most perfect area of the world that was created by our great God and we live here. So, what's wrong with that? I ask myself that every time I turn on the television or open a paper and see lawsuits, hear debates or listen to complaints about how our country is run and our government is corrupt. I'll be the first to speak up and say that we could use some major improvements and that there are certain aspects of our democracy that could use some questioning. What I don't like to hear is the constant complaining and bickering about everything that's wrong here. Look at what we as Americans have been privileged enough to experience. There are people all around the world risking their lives to get here and most everyone I know was blessed to be born here in a free world. A place where you have the right to live, work and most importantly worship our God as we please. We have the opportunity to build a house on a piece of Earth that is labeled as our own, have electricity and running water supplied in that home and food on our tables. And if you can't afford food, our government has put into place programs to make sure you are fed. Granted, there are some who take advantage of this but that should not undermine the purpose of such programs. In most other countries, if you found yourself without food, you'd most likely die of starvation. In most countries, if your home was destroyed by a natural disaster, you'd hope for helping neighbors or that another country like America would come to your aid. Here, we complain about how our country doesn't act fast enough or give enough to replace what we have lost. When did our principles and expectations become so misconstrued as to think that we are owed something to live here instead of thanking God everyday that we have been fortunate enough to be allowed to live here? And why is it that we have become so stingy and greedy about what we have? Why do some hesitate to help our neighbors in other countries? Perhaps this is where we should apply the logic of "What would Jesus do?" He certainly wouldn't let others suffer, starve or die while watching silently and "minding his own business." I have to admit that I have at times been frustrated, seeing our military die for people in other countries who may not even appreciate their braveness and sacrifice. However, I then realize how selfish that notion really is. When did we decide that our brothers and sisters in Christ are limited to one country? After all, did God not create the Earth? There's no mention of America in the Bible. Therefore, I have to believe that He meant for us to be one brotherhood, throughout the world and to love each other. And to love each other is care about others and treat them as we would our friends. Back to the subject - what's so wrong with this great country that we live in? We are the country that was founded by the principles that God created and we are the country who lends a hand to those in need, just as Christ would do. So next year, on the 4th of July, celebrate your freedom, this country and those who made sacrifices so that you can.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Don't take it for granted

Today was an ordinary yet unusual day. What I mean by that is that all 5 members of my family were home for the entire day together doing miscellaneous things. Although that doesn't sound like such a big deal, IT IS! It seems as though someone's always missing and its usually my husband. (At the Fire Department, of course). Or if he's home, one of the kids may be with MeMa, or I have to go grocery shopping; you get the point. Today, however was different. The first out of the ordinary event was the fact that I was not awakened with the sound of giggles or the breath of a child on my face before 8:30am. I can't begin to tell you how amazing it was to sleep that late! Quite refreshing to wake up on my own without any sort of wake up call. I'd like to try that again..... Our plan was for everyone to spend the day working in the yard. Actually, that was Curtis' plan and we reluctantly agreed to it in order to spend time together. However, God knew we needed to be a little closer than that once he sent the rain, the 5 of us sat together around the living room watching a movie. Once the rain stopped in the afternoon, Curtis went out while I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning inside. The kids were back and forth, being drawn to the cartoons on television while I pulled and pushed them out the door to "enjoy" the sun. Not long before dark, we had friends over for dinner and later sent tucked the children into bed. Now I sit here typing and watching television, alone because of a fire call, thinking about how simple yet pleasing my day has been. This is something that could easily be taken for granted because it was so ordinary. However, I'm very aware of what's its like to not have a simple but ordinary day and I hope that I never take that for granted. So the next time someone asks you what you did today and you say nothing much, realize how lucky you are. Each day has been given to us as a blessing and we should always appreciate it and NEVER take it for granted!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hobbies


If you had asked me about my hobbies a few months ago, I would have looked at you as though you had a third eye. Now that I have time to breathe, I've discovered that it would be possible for me to obtain a hobby. Although I am not really the type of person to persue hobbies, I have found several things that are of interest to me. More than that, I've discovered that in finding that these things interest me, I'm learning more about myself and what it is that brings me joy and satisfaction. So here are several of those interests, or hobbies if you'd like to call it that.
As you already know, I love to write but finding the time (and a connection!) during the day can be tough. Searching local papers and websites for free or low cost activities to keep myself and my children occupied this summer has become a big one. Just today, I found that you can go to the local movies at least once a month for FREE so we will probably go tomorrow. Oh, and a small popcorn and drink are just $1 each. When I find something like that, its exciting! I have never been one to read but I recently picked up a Nicholas Sparks book and have almost finished it. Quite relaxing before bed and my dreams aren't as active as they where when I watched television before going to sleep! Don't get me wrong; I still like my TV shows but I've started alternating them a little. Photography........ I absolutely love taking pictures, trying to get the best lighting, angles, and focus. I know that I share this hobby with Lyra, who is already taking pictures that look professional! I'm so jealous but don't worry, I'll keep practicing and hopefully catch up! And last but certainly not least: Learning. I love to learn new things - if they are of interest to me of course. I'm trying to learn about things that perhaps I have always been interested in but they were never a practical thing to spend my time on. Like cooking, which has also become a huge interest of mine. I'm watching and reading about it a lot to learn the proper and new ways to cook different foods. I'm learning about the foods as well. Where they come from, how to store, how to season and best cooking methods. This has all been a wonderful learning experience about myself and I suggest that if you ever have even a small amount of time to devote to yourself that you spend it doing something that interests you. You might be amazed at what you discover about yourself!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So Proud


Today, I chose to write about my husband. Most of us find that its so easy to talk about our children, to boast and to share, but rarely do we speak of others that matter so much in our lives. It's not because others in my life don't matter or because I am not proud of them: its just so easy to speak about my children and many people can relate to that. Anyway, back to the point. (See what I mean!) My husband got a new job yesterday. Not only did he get a new job but he did so much more than that and most people will not see that part so I'll share it with you. He accomplished a major life goal and saw a dream come true. Its so wonderful to experience a love for someone in which I couldn't be happier even if it were my own dream that came true. In a way, it did seem like my dream since its always been his and I wanted it so badly for him. He has worked hard at every job he's had and he truly deserves this. If anything, his new employer is lucky to have such an asset to their team and I know that they will never regret the decision to hire him. As with anyone in any job, he will make improvements and adjustments, always looking for a way to be better. Still, the learning curve will be minimal, I'm sure. Despite the fact that he has worked hard towards this goal and that he earned, we can't forget that we owe our thanks to God for his work in our lives. This is just one of the many blessings we have received recently and we are aware of what we have. I can only hope that my friends and family can experience this joy as we have and that we will continue to look to God as we go through each day from this point forward.
So if you see Curtis in the coming days, be sure to congratulate him so that he can show you his beaming smile that hasn't come off his face since yesterday. And in case you haven't heard, I'm now the proud wife of a FIREFIGHTER!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Our Corner

Once again, its a beautiful day here in Eastern North Carolina. Sure, there are many other beautiful places in the world to be but if you have to be "stuck" somewhere, this place isn't so bad! The girls and I went to the beach yesterday. We left around 9 am, took one bag with towels and few toys and were back home at 11:45 am. Not many people in our country can say that. For most Americans, you'd have to travel a long distance, make many arrangements and let's not even get started on the cost. Or, for most that live near the ocean, the beaches may be crowded or difficult to get to. Not here at Topsail Island. Although we often make comments about how small and underdeveloped it seems in comparison to other beaches, it really is a treasure and should be seen that way. For those of us that live here, we take it for granted that we can go to the beach anytime we want and get there in just minutes. I didn't realize that growing up and I want to make sure that my children understand just how lucky we are to have such a wonderful pastime available at no cost! We have access to one of the few beaches left which doesn't charge for parking and a place to put your chair is easy to find, even in the middle of the summer. It may not stay that way but for this year at least, we plan to take advantage of that. If we get tired of the beach, there are always other ways to spend our time. We live in an area in which the daytrips are countless. You can go north, south or west and in just a few hours or less find something of interest. There's history, nature, art, entertainment and so much more that we don't do often enough. If you absolutely can't find anything else to do, there's plenty of shopping and dining a few miles away. I have found lately that if you just look through the local papers, you'll find plenty to do, especially in the spring and summer. There are movies in the park now in Surf City, along with some other activities. There are festivals and celebrations almost every wekkend. For the first time since I was 15, (and yes, that was 15 years ago!) I will have weekends off during the summer and I plan to make the most of it. I hope Curtis is up for the challenge because we haven't had this conversation yet. I'm looking forward to (and nervous about) next week when the oldest is out of school for the summer. Hopefully, I can keep all three children entertained and happy for a few weeks. However, that shouldn't be hard to do hear in our small but beautiful corner of the world!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and for the first time on this holiday, I've taken the opportunity to really think about its meaning and just what it means to me. There are so many places I could go with this but I'll try to keep it simple. First, the true meaning. To show love and appreciation for my mother. She is without a doubt, the most influential person in my life. To say that she has made many sacrifices for me or loves me is such an understatement. Now that I'm older and a mother myself, I can reflect on all the things that seemed so small when I was growing up but now have such a significance in my memory. I can now realize and appreciate the many things that she's done for me when I never even thanked her. It would be impossible for me to show her how much I appreciate her today as not just a mother, but one of my best friends as well. I can talk to her about anything and go to her with any problem (just because I could doesn't mean I take everything to her and I'm sure she appreciates that!). My mother is also the most dependable and loyal person I know. She has always been there for me when I needed her and always will. I love her and I'm thankful to God for giving me such a wonderful Christian mother. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
For the second half, I've reflected on what this day means to me as a mother. I guess I've never really contemplated this before. I just knew that I expected the kids and my husband to present me with a card; possibly a gift and that would be the extent of it. But this year, I'd like to take this day to be thankful that I have been given the opportunity to be a mother to 3 of the most wonderful children in the world. I am thankful for their personalities, their uniqueness, their health and most of all their forgiving and unconditional love for me. I'd also like to recommit myself to be the best mom I can be to them and be a positive role model in their lives just as my mom was to me.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Debbie Downer












Thoughts

For those who read this on a regular basis, let me apologize for the lapse in posts. For those who know me well, you know its because of our lack of internet for the last week and a half. And for those that know me even better, I had to go outside to be able to get online! Anyway, I have had lots of thoughts over the past several days so I've been anxious to get back to writing. I sometimes wonder if other people "think" as much as I do. I don't mean that in a negative way if that's how you might take it. I mean that I put so much thought into everything I do daily, even the simple things that I'm sure many would think is silly. I know Curtis does because he lets me know often either by poking fun or just giving me "that look" when I enlighten him on what's going on in my head. He has no idea just how often I keep those thoughts to myself. If he knew, I'm sure he'd consider getting me professional help. I tend to explore the consequences of every action so much that it sucks the fun out of everything. Most of what we do that's fun or exciting is done without regard to possible consequences. That's part of what makes it fun! But not me. I have to be the reasonable and responsible one that's the party pooper. And don't worry, if you are doing something that could have a negative outcome, I'll be sure and let you know. This is definitely something I need to work on. It can be such a downer sometimes. I remind myself of Debbie Downer - see the video. Now I'm rambling- see what I mean about the thinking? And that was just a small window into my head. Let me get back to the original thought. This is what I was talking about. I think about things so in depth that I can start thinking about something so simple and end up in deep thought about something that doesn't even exist. I know that I'm not alone in this behavior (thank you Steph) but I do feel sure that I may be a minority in this. What does the average person think about when there are moments of calm or quiet throughout the day? And how would we know they are the average? I'm sure one day there will be a way to answer some of these questions since technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds. I'm curious but I may not want to know other peoples thoughts. Perhaps God intended to keep those private and that's why our thougths are silent to the human ear. For now, I'm glad God doesn't judge me on my rambling mind!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Now this is funny

She wasn't hurt.....

That was funny. Or was it?

Humor can vary greatly from person to person. People often say that they look for a partner with a "good" sense of humor. But what does that mean? I don't think we put enough emphasis on just how important it is to share not just humor but the same kind of humor. We are generally closer to those who share our type of humor. Something may be stupid to my husband while I find myself about to bust a gut falling out of chair over it. Often, those moments that I'm laughing out loud (you know, that stupid sounding hyena laugh), I see others looking at me like I'm missing my brain. Things that I find hilarious may be silly to someone else. I have to say that I believe that my closest friends and I have a very unique sense of humor. I'm glad we share that so that I don't feel like I'm in need of mental help. They remind me that I'm not alone in my doubled over laughter while listening to Jack Handy's "Deep Thoughts". And does anyone else out there find it side-splitting when someone falls (assuming that they are not hurt, of course). Even when I fall and hurt myself, the humor of it usually outweighs the hurt. Fortunately, I am able to laugh at myself also. So the next time you finding yourself laughing hysterically over something, stop and consider the subject matter and your sense of humor. How does it compare to others? You might find the discovery very interesting.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Babies, Babies, Babies

Have you ever noticed that phenomenon that people always say about how things happen in threes? Usually a person is referring to death or pregnancy. 2 opposite extremes. This does seem to be the case lots of times. Fortunately, no one has died that I'm writing about today! However, it seems as though when someone close to me is expecting, its not long before I know of at least 2 more people. For the past few years, I can always name someone near me that's pregnant. I guess that's because I'm at a popular childbearing age as are most of my friends. Unfortunately, I won't be for too much longer. At least not according to my birthday next month. *Disclaimer* - That last comment is solely my opinion for me! For those of you who are ahead of me in years and having babies, I mean no disrespect. Simply put, I said I didn't plan to have any children after my 30th birthday and that's still my intention. So back to the point. I now have 3 people very close to me who are expecting and one that's adopting. Between the 4 of them, 5 babies! Way to go Amanda! Everytime I get the chance to be some part of a baby's birth, even if its as simple as witnessing the growth of mommy's belly and that sweet newborn a few months later, it reminds me just how thankful we should be for these miracles that are given to us. I believe that's the biggest miracle that has ever existed; the conception, birth and growth of a child. And to think, God trusts us to take care of his treasure that he created! It absolutely blows my mind to just watch a newborn sleep, move and make those strange but cute noises. To imagine how this tiny creature began and what has formed almost litarally in front of our eyes. And technology now allows us to witness this miracle in the making in 3D and 4D! WOW! When I am on the brink of a nervous breakdown because my children have driven me there, I need to remember just how lucky I am to have them and that I have been blessed with 3 miracles.

Congratulations to Stephanie, Nicole, Amanda and Melissa!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Stop Complaining!

Complaints have almost ceased from my conversation in the last few weeks. I am happy and taken care of so what might there be to complain about? I'm sure I could think of something but who wants to put effort into that? Some people do I'm sure, but I'd rather not waist minutes doing so. However, today I found myself needing to complain or as we put it, "vent" for a moment. Although I did feel better after speaking it out loud to another human, I later began to wonder how healthy that is. It can't possibly be healthy but some people would argue that fact. Especially Psychologists..... oh no...... isn't that the area in which I'm working to obtain a degree? No, don't worry, I'm not dismissing my college career to this point. I don't feel that talking and expressing feelings about a subject are neccessarily the same as complaining. Webster's definition of complaining is "the expression of grief, pain, regret, etc." All of these could be argued but I think the difference may be that generally a complaint is something we either can't do anything about or something we choose not to do anything about. So why not go to the top source? What does God say in the Bible about complaining? The best verse I found to answer my question was actually an entire chapter. Psalm 139. I won't quote the whole thing but will give you just a verse or two. Verses 3 & 4 : "You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. (4) Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether." And that last few verses: (23) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (24) And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" So how is that relevant to complaining? Isn't it obvious? Here's my opinion and interpretation. God knows everything there is to know about me and that includes my every thought and action even before it happens. I pray daily that I'll follow the path that he has set for me and that I honor his will. So if I find myself complaining, it has to mean one of two things. First scenario; I've taken a wrong turn somewhere and find myself where I should not be. That's the most likely thing to have happened! OR, I have followed God's will and I'm now speaking against him! What if I am where I should be, doing what I should be by His will, and I'm complaining?!? Now, that's a sobering thought. Lord, forgive me for my complaints today and guide my path tomorrow so that I may not be in conflict with YOUR will. Remind me when I am that you hold me in your hands and that you are above all!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Selfish? Not Me!

I've had another revelation this weekend. Since I'm much happier now and have more time to enjoy life, I'm not as selfish as I once was. I realized that in the last couple of years, I had become very selfish. (And yes, I knew this even as it was happening but didn't really care) I'm speaking more specifically about my time. I felt like there was never enough time to get things done, to spend time with my family or to just be alone. "Free time" wasn't really a concept I understood. How could a person possibly have "free time"? There wasn't enough time to get everything done anyway so there was always something productive I could be doing! Of course, my definition of what's productive has changed too since I've changed my priority list. I can recall many times when I was asked to help with something or even to spend time with someone and I said "no" because I couldn't comfortably fit it into my busy schedule. More than that, I recall many times when I had the opportunity to step in to help or visit friends and family but chose not to. Don't misunderstand. As I mentioned above, I was aware of this but chose to not change it because I felt that if I did, I'd miss out on what I needed to do for myself and my own family. Now, however, I am so thankful that I've been able to change this in my life. Its such a great feeling to offer to do something for someone or to say yes when asked to do something. As I sit here today, listening to my children and their cousins play outside my window, I can't help but think that only a couple of months ago, this would not have been possible. I would never have offered to bring home someone else's children to play! Watch other children in addition to mine and try to get things done around the house on my only day off? Are you kidding me? I would never even have considered that. Now, its a wonderful sound and I'm thankful!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stop and Smell the Mustard Greens


For those that read my blog, sorry for the long delay. Lots has been happening in my life over the past month or so with the most obvious being that I am now unemployed. I don't plan to tell that story but its very relevant to this post since one of the last things my boss said to me was an inclination that I needed to get my priorities straight. My new job is stay at home mom. I know you've heard all the hype about being politically correct and making sure that we don't undermind this job because of its hard work and importance. I'm not sure I agree with all the hoopla I hear concerning this but I will tell you my experience so far. This job is much harder than it looks. They're my children whom I see everyday so what could have been the big deal about now staying home with them and keeping them everyday? I'm here to tell you - its a very big deal and a bigger change than anyone can explain. Everyday, I'm learning new things about my children (and myself) that I didn't know before. I didn't realize that I barely even knew who they were. That may seem like an exaggeration but taking into account the many little things I've discovered over the past 4 weeks, its really not. Anyway, bottom line is that I am so thankful that I am now at home with my children. The one thing I want to make sure everyone knows is that in spite of the hard work, this is absolutely, without a doubt, the most rewarding job one could ever have. I won't even begin to try to explain it but those of you who are parents and especially those that stay home with their children will understand. Now, back to the title of this post. I have been given a new opportunity to focus on the important things in life and quite honestly, it took me a little while to figure out what that was since my priorities have included unwanted things for a long time. I am spending lots of time with my children, without a television or radio for the entire day, and finding that I love being outdoors. Although that may change as this NC summer approaches! I have more time for my husband, whom I appreciate now more than ever. I've tried to make this transition as easy as possible for him since there will be some things I can't control like money and bills. Its the simple things like keeping the house clean, cooking dinner, making his lunch and most of all, spending time with him that matter now. We are getting along much better now which I had suspected would happen. However, I do feel as though I have some accountability in this new job that I had not realized would be the case. When Curtis comes home, I feel like I have to give him the rundown of what I've been doing all day even though he doesn't always ask. Today, I'll tell him that we have worked on our new garden, trimmed the trees and hedges around the house and yard, raked and picked up pine straw, washed clothes and dishes, had a friend over for AJ to play with, and most important, visited my grandparents. Although we arrived as he was finishing, the girls and I were able to walk with Grandad in his garden as he cut the fresh mustard greens for my Grandma to cook. That's been the best part of our day so far. I think I'm finally getting my priorities straight.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Randomness

So, my friend Lyra sent me an email to let me know I've been "tagged" in blog world. Now I have to blog about randomness. 5 random things about myself and 5 random places I'd like to see or see again. I get the feeling it should also be things that perhaps no one would know about me too. Although I love reading these things in other people's blogs, I generally don't do them myself but for you Lyra, of course! I'm pretty boring so this might actually be difficult. Bare with me.

5 Random Things About Myself

1. I'm an ordained minister with the Universal Life Christian Church. Don't judge me - it was for a project in a college Religion class! I don't ever claim to be a minister nor would I ever use it for anything.

2. I've worked at 2 of the same places my mother worked. My first job at Barnacle Bill's Pier and my job now at Century 21.

3. I still hold the dream of one day becoming a Psychologist, preferably specializing in Family Counseling.

4. I've watched Days of Our Lives for as long as I can remember. Now I have DVR so I never miss an episode.

5. I've never had a broken bone or surgery - unless you count my wisdom teeth removal.

Now, 5 Random places I'd like to see or see again

1. Italy - anywhere or everywhere. I have a dream of dropping everything (except family) and moving there

2. New York - I've never been and would love to go experience the entire city. If I had never married or had children, I would have considered living there.

3. England- I'd love to visit the palace

4. Australia - A safari would be awesome. The wildlife there is fascinating

5. The Holy Land - To be able to put a picture with the stories of the Bible would be priceless

That wasn't too bad and I did need some inspiration for blogging - thanks Lyra!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rainy Days

Today is a cold, gray, rainy day at the beach. I've heard that there are people out there who genuinely love these days but I've never met them. I do know people who enjoy the activities associated with a rainy day. You know, dressing in sweats and snuggling under a warm blanket on the sofa watching some chic flick on TV. Now that, I could identify with. But why can't you do those things on a sunny day? I'll tell you why. Because you feel guilty about not being productive on a bright, sunny day. Why is that? It really makes no sense if you think about it. You'd feel the need to be up cleaning, or working around the house. But either way, you're inside so what difference does it make what the weather is outside? This is why I want to go into the practice of Psychology; to try to understand why we think the way we do and what drives us or motivates our actions. So back to my original question. Other than the reasons discussed, or the fact that we actually need rain in order to live here on this earth (watering plants, animals, etc.), who out there enjoys a rainy day simply because of the rain? If you do, I'd be very curious to know why and what about it is appealing? I've never seen gray listed as someone's favorite color and there are very few things I can think of that are more fun when its raining and even that is an objective opinion. So what is it that the majority of us need to do in order to make these rainy days more pleasant? Let's take a moment to focus on the positive. It does in fact, make it possible for us to live. Our fruits, vegetables and even meat is better when its been properly and naturally watered. For those who don't like to do it themselves, the rain can "clean" your car, deck, or anything else you leave out there. And, of course, it gives us that much needed excuse to do nothing. And last but certainly not least, have you ever tried the actual act of dancing in the rain? It may just change your outlook on a day like today!

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Money = Better Service

I don't think anyone would argue this statement but I'm not sure how I feel about the "You get what you pay for" mentality and way of life Americans have. I agree that should be true for product but does service have to be a product as well? Good service is something that until you have experienced it, you may not know it even exists. When sitting at most pizza places, for example, the service goes like this. At best, its acceptable and meets expectation. However, you often find yourself with an empty glass, you may or may not have silverware and to ask for extra napkins makes no sense given that you could run the nearby convenience store and get them faster yourself. And to request a condiment to accompany the meal - don't even get me started! Most people will complain about these things but never speak up because after all, the meal was cheap and you get what you pay for. What?!? You paid for a cheap meal and that's what you got. You did not pay any less for the service and that's the problem. I believe this is a training issue that management should be held accountable for. Despite pay scales, it takes no less effort to give bad service versus good and if anything, a waiter or waitress can expect better tips or more pay for the latter. So why aren't they trained in this way and expected to give the best service? What we are in fact settling for is that the higher a person is on the economic scale is the better that they should be treated. This can't be right. People are said to be equal but that's obviously not true. If you don't believe that, think about your last experience at Wal-Mart or Family Dollar. For 9 out of 10, you either don't remember the service at all or it was not a pleasant experience in regards to the service. Now, have you walked through Williams Sonoma or Coldwater Creek lately? Or into a boutique in New York or LA? If you are used to department stores, it may be a culture shock. Everyone is ready and more than willing to greet and assist you, even before the purchase is final but still after. Its an experience everyone should have, whether you can afford a transaction or not. Try it sometime and then tell me that my perception of this is inaccurate and that the same service can be found at the local Dollar General! We should not settle for less than good service, no matter how much we're spending. No one would say they have worked any less for their $6 per hour than the person who worked for 5 times that so why are we ok with being treated as less?