Couponing: Rebate Sites

In January, I noticed my family was in a bind financially.  To curtail expenses, we didn’t go out to eat once.  Every meal we ate was prepared at home with ingredients purchased at a grocery store.  A friend recommended a site that has helped me immensely.

I also want to be less reliant on money itself so my husband picked up a book called The Moneyless Man.  It is about a guy who set himself up so he could go a whole year without spending money and be more environmentally conscious.  The American Dream has become my American nightmare.  I’m pushing back because I’ve felt so empty lately.   The American status quo has left me embittered, hurt, and struggling.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  There has got to be so much more than living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay medical bills, and not seeing God’s hand.  Last night I unplugged, read a book, and for the first time in a long time, was content.  I notice that the more I move away from technology, which society tells me I need, and the less I satiate the immediate gratification, the more blissful I am.

Feel free to journey with me and refer to the list below of helpful sites. Start saving and enjoying more authentic community:

MobiSave

Checkout51

Ibotta

Ebates

livingrichwithcoupons***(This site is a HUGE help;  the one my friend shared with me)

Penny Hoarder

SavingStar

RetailMeNot

Facebook community: Justfortheloveofit (Mark Boyle—The Moneyless Man; Freeconomic)

These are just to name a few.  There are others that help reduce travel costs like Couchsurfers and AirBB.

I will continue to look for more aid to reduce my monthly bills and every day spending.

Don’t buy into the notion that materialism can get you happiness.  It hasn’t for me.  Where our treasure is, there are heart is too.  As a friend once said to me, “Let us be more about people and having attachments to them than to things.”  Comfort is relative and I want to find my comfort in Christ by living radically, authentically, and in sincere community.  Let us usher in Christ’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  Biblical living as seen in Acts doesn’t have to be a thing of the past.  God’s word is living and relevant, not archaic.  We are the vessels he uses to spread his word, his mercy, his hope, and the best message.  We can’t carry that message though if we don’t live with people and form communities.  It starts with us.  Be the change you want to see.  Love the Lord your God above all else and your neighbor as yourself.  It isn’t materialism that will glorify God, but people humbling laying down idols to pursue him, corporately worshiping him in authentic community.

 

A Real Reel: A Humanity Hurting

Gaping mouths utter silent screams.

Scouring flesh, acid burning.

After application, they’re thrown to heaps of rubble,

left to chaff and rot.

World’s apart,

the tilt keeps turning

so cares are tossed aside.

The parched, panting “paupers”

keep pleading out in vain.

Arise, Awake you who straddle comfort!

Lift up your voices,

cry out to God.

Intercede for those whose praise grows petrified by poison.

 

[May our prayers be with the Syrian people.  Lord, grant us wisdom on how we might assist our brothers and sisters in this struggle!  Oh Lord, be not deaf to this pain.  Come quickly Lord.  Let your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  For mercy’s sake, intervene!]

 

***Thinking of how to modify the title so it is more fitting.

Beastly Affection

Your black coal fur clumps in the corner.

My grumbling echoes off the walls.

You whimper.

I scream.

You’re subdued.

I’m constantly running.

Opposites in character and form.

I often mumble; your pacing and persistence, my chagrin.

Yet now, as your health deteriorates

and surgery is tangible

while our wallet is not,

I think of all the ways these past two years have been unfair.

Forgive me.

Please know that as I let you go, or even just preparing to, I’m wanting to hold on

and in my heart, I always will.

 

 

 

 

Slated Works

The canvas sat, bent, in the heap of rubble.

A can of disregarded materials and used, spent purchases.

Above the disposal vessel,

a present perched proudly.

Quivering lips questioned.

Why that gift and not my painted words of gratitude?

Like the piece, my heart was put to rubbish.

Then and now the thought does ever plague—

Mama, do you love me like you do her? Did you ever?

When will I ever receive your affections?

Should I just toss those expectations like the treasures I bestowed to you?

 

I know forgiveness calls

but somewhere rests the unsettled best,

my aim to get your approval;

but for naught

and in it my esteem diminished.

 

Rivalry’s Stamp

The sun’s rays beamed,

A bright day in California summer.

As the lazy afternoon droned on, the truck eased in, stopping to deposit the daily packages.

Inside the abode peels of conflict arose.

The eldest raced barefoot outside.

She collected the envelopes and came back in.

Upon reentry, she was greeted by a ferocious beast.

The angered child waved a blade, threatening to take life or limb.

A chase ensued.

That day began an endless pursuit;

a lifelong dance to retrieve whatever right was thought usurped.

The steel still glimmers

ready to chip, divide, and cut further the sister seal loosed that day.

A New Season Arises: Spring 2017

Petals sprout out from beneath the blanket of white.

A slumbering earth awakening, new.

The earth tilts and arises the dead,

life called to action.

A breeze blows and trees blossom,

the whole of creation shakes off the dregs of hibernation.

Meanwhile, my soul remains stagnant;

dross-like

speckled snow that clings to remain.

While the world springs forward in color,

the uneasiness of a soul thought burdening

seeks the solitude of a world lost in  eternal silence,

the echo of an endless winter.

Birthing Empowerment

http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/celebrating-international-womens-day-with-kids/

Today is International Women’s Day.  It is an important day to remember women.  While I think abstaining from work might be in poor form, I think we can still celebrate women and their contributions to society.  Honoring women begins with how we speak about them.  Women, it begins with how we speak about ourselves.

For as long as I can remember I have been a self-deprecating female.  My self-esteem is often quite low.  I grew up around weight talk.  Aesthetic beauty included the bodily frame of a human.  Being mocked for height or pinched around the waist I began the path towards loathing my body.

When I grew up and got married I had the dream of becoming a mother.  My husband and I set out to have kids about 6 months into our marriage.  We tried and we tried and we tried.  After four years of anxiety, testing, and sadness, we conceived!  I was pregnant.  My gut plumped.  Then after 5 short weeks, we lost the baby we had prayed so hard for.

My body was broken.  Why couldn’t I, or rather, this body do what it was supposed to do?

Thankfully, God blessed us with another pregnancy.  I carried to term and on March 24, 2015, after a 13+ hour labor, Willow Christine Eisbacher entered this world.  Not even 2 years later, on August 3, 2016, after an arduous 7 hour or so labor, Fiona Joy Eisbacher made her debut.  My body finally did what countless women before me had done.

My friend, Kate Pare, had used midwives for her children, children older than mine.  I was born by C-section.  My parents are firm advocates for medicinal care rather than natural care.  They see the degree and trust the doctors’ advice rather than research for themselves, more often than not.  I had learned through Kate to ask questions, especially when it came to my care.  Only I can be an advocate for the care I, and subsequently my body, receives.

I learned that the health care system is saturated with male opinion.  Most obstetrics and gynecology professionals I knew were men.  Why are men running a field that a woman can solely perform?   Women are being told that they can’t do labor themselves.  Labor is portrayed as painful.  If you don’t take medicine, you are weird, crazy.  We are told to numb ourselves from the pain.  Women are not told the benefits of Oxycontin that is released after a natural labor , a chemical that assists in mother-child bonding.

Please understand, there is a time and place for intervention.  C-sections have been used to save the lives of mothers and babies.  Epidurals have assisted women to deliver a baby when the pain was too unbearable to persist.  Pitocin has been used to augment contractions when labor stalled and wasn’t progressing.  There are benefits to medicine.  It has its time and place.  The problem arises when we use it too often, when we are sending a message that women are inadequate to deliver babies naturally, the way women have delivered babies for centuries.

I was glad I had midwives.  I had women cheering me on.  These women were skilled in their profession.  If I needed emergency care, they were equipped to deliver it or place me in the hands of someone who could perform necessary surgeries.  The problem isn’t emergency care itself, but rather treating everyday occurrence as an emergency, telling women they are less than worthy.  Sadly, this is a message we hear too often.  We are told we aren’t as strong as men, we aren’t as smart.  Women are meant to be quiet and in the home watching children.  This is what we have heard for years.

While men do have more testosterone and this does make them physically stronger typically, there are women who are more physically fit than some men.  Women can be just as smart as a male.  We might be more emotional due to estrogen levels in our system, but this does not impede our ability to contribute to highly intellectual fields like those found in STEM professions.

Women are not beautiful because of their physical body.  They can be.  Also, women come in all different shapes and sizes.  All women are beautiful in their own way.  Women have much to offer.  They are wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters.  We are an array of contributors to society to…in politics, science, art, economics, etc.  It is time we give women a voice.  Over the years we’ve started to give women platforms, greater influence in society, but we still have a long way to go, especially in countries like India and China, countries that abort babies simply because they are female.

I am glad to have had women by my side while I labored.  I’m grateful to God for blessing me with children and the ability to deliver them naturally, without medication.  I had hated my body for so long.  In labor and delivery, I found strength and power.  Labor empowered me and for the first time, I loved my body.  I was amazed at what I was able to do, awed by God’s intricate design of the human body.

This is a sentiment of gratitude for women that used their education and experiences to give me a voice.  A voice to speak for other women and to finally be able to speak well about myself and my body.  Thank you Midwives of NJ.  May I help be an advocate for female care as you were for me.  I know your presence was incalculable in healing my self-esteem and recognizing my worth as a woman and more importantly, a daughter of God.

FYI:  There is a March for birth practices coming up.  Check the Midwives of NJ website.

Ring Around the Rosy

Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.

Die to yourself and in righteousness arise.

Repent, Renew.

Rejoice in the resurrected Christ.

Reflect on the rebellion that led us astray

and his cross which reconciled us again, to God.

Community confess

that which you’ve offended or taken offense to,

all the ways in which pride still strains devotion

and selfishness divides.

Join hands in unity, a holy communion,

laying down ourselves and taking up the cause of other.

Let us see the Holy Spirit ablaze in each other,

knowing that the only way to fare through earthly life

is bound together as neighbor and in worship of Christ divine.

 

 

Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.”- Prov. 10:13

I read this verse last night, after provoking my mother to anger again.  I antagonized, to be fair.  I have jealousy.  My mother’s character parallels my sister.  They are close.  We are not.  My heart aches at the thought, the aim of futile approval addiction and my life spent in such pursuit.

My bruised ego assaults the Spirit that calls me to extreme forgiveness.  Radical love is one that turns the other cheek, is willing to forgive when everything in us wants to rage, to spread our wrath.  Pacifism in all our relationships, not just the battlefields, goals so contrary to American idealism.  We are even to be gentle in our speech towards others.

When we let our tongues loose, we will be beaten down.  We need to be discerning in what we say and how we say it.  Words are important, they are the language to communities, the language of the heart.  Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.  May we be discerning in what we say and how we say it.  We must have words aptly spoken, not in defense of our selfish nature or simply a resounding gong.  We must realize that Christ truly intercedes on our behalf.  He defends the weak, the mocked, and most of all, our broken hearts.

I pray this Lenten season I will be still and know that Christ is God.  I want to take time to reflect, to be transformed.  I often find myself questioning how different I really am from my secular counterparts.  Too often I grumble.  I complain, I get angry (and not righteously because it isn’t in defense of the gospel, but when I feel an affront), I gossip, I, more often than not, only trust God when things are going well.  I want to praise him in the storms and deserts, not just when I uncover affluent blessings.  I don’t want a prosperity or social justice gospel.  I want Christ and Christ alone!  I don’t want to care what the world thinks.  I want to share this radical love and I can’t share it if I don’t live it.

I want to live the Beatitudes and be guided by the fruits of the Spirit.  Oh God, sow seeds worthy of eternal blessing in me that I might be a laborer that sacrifices the bountiful harvest for you.  Grant me wisdom to speak the gospel boldly, without shame.  In that, may you say, “Good job my faithful servant.”  Who am I living for?  Man or God?  May I not be a resounding gong, except for praise to you, the Holy One, the one true God now and forever.  Help me to love others as you have loved me.

I realize already that my words have been too many.  Let my words be few, rendered only in holy praise to you.  I don’t need to fight my extrovert nature, you gave it to me for a purpose.  However, harness it so that your Holy Spirit is ablaze and fruits are seen, harvested such that only the resurrected Christ is preached.

Help me God to Love my neighbor as myself and the Lord, my God, above all else for this sums up the Law and the Prophets, the true goal of any life well lived.  Let me die to myself as I live for you, a bond servant to Christ and assisting all communities I find myself in this side of heaven.

Create beauty from these ashes.

I want a life rendered only for your purposes oh God.  That, dear God, is my song and my dance, twirling in the circle of this life. Help me to blossom into the woman you made me to be, reaping the rewards I can only receive in Heaven and being fully satisfied in you alone.

I’ve prattled long enough, not making much sense.  Grant me discernment and wisdom above all else that I might truly die to this flesh nature.

May I arise from earthly ashes to I stand in silent awe of the Christ who resurrected from the tomb.  May I live every day proclaiming this good news, the only news that can ignite strewn ashes and faint/crushed spirits.

Be still already and know he is God!

In a galaxy far, far away…

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around

 

Seven planets were recently discovered using the Spitzer space telescope.  Three of these planets show promise of atmospheres similar to that on earth.  One of these planets could have significant amounts of water too.  This is interesting news for the scientific community.  It is exciting news too.  There is anticipation, curiosity, and expectation.

The faith communities might feel jolted, fearful if we do find alien life.  I wonder why we are always trying to put science and faith at odds with each other.  Evolution has been a centuries-long debate between scientists and religious adherents.  I, a follower of Christ, sometimes feel ostracized from conservative churches because I think evolution is plausible.

Now, I still think God had to orchestrate creation, but I don’t think that evolution negates God’s majesty, power, or biblical accounts.  The faith community would be naive to denounce that microevolution exists and occurs.  I’m not sure if macroevolution occurred.  I tend to lean towards macroevolution didn’t happen, but it is plausible.  I wasn’t there in the beginning.  The Trinity was and his ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are higher than mine.  I want to let God be God and I’ll simply stand in awe, rendering the praise he asks me to give; trying daily, by the power of the Holy Spirit to be made more in the image of Christ.

I simply ascribe to the notion that the Bible is literature.  I think it is inspired literature, but it is literature nonetheless.  Literature uses motifs like history, poetry, and allegory.  Literature tells a story- intricate, complex, nuanced.   There are interpretations to stories.  Yes there are proper ways to interpret, but sometimes the blank spaces or silences are meant to enhance mystery or intimacy.  The unknown can be scary but it also leaves room for adventure, stuff that fairy tale excitement is made of.  We compose stories to escape the mundane routine we typically think life is.  What if we realized we belong to the greatest mystery writing that ever existed.  What if we simply enjoyed the ride?

There could very well be life on other planets.  Extraterrestrial life doesn’t have to strip God of his majesty or power.  In fact, if we say that the Bible is God’s inspired word that reveals himself to his people, then we can admit that the Bible is pretty silent on matters of space.  We know God operates outside of our time-space continuum.

Einstein’s theories of gravitational waves don’t prove or disprove the existence of God.  They simply just are.  God gave us minds, minds to pursue, discover, and unlock mysteries, but only in part.  Scavenger hunts are fun because it is a quest to find hidden treasures.  God gave humanity science and math to search for the hidden treasures of his intricate creations, finding that sometimes, the search is more fun and exhilarating than uncovering the hidden gems anyways.  The hunt gets us connected with others and perchance in deeper search of him anyways.

God saved us through his son Jesus dying on the cross, in our place, resurrecting on the third day, and then ascending into heaven to intercede on our behalf for all time.  This is our salvation story.  This is a human’s romance to redemption.  Who is to say that there isn’t a book or story for the aliens?  Maybe God has his own book for them?  Maybe it is the same book written in a way that they would understand and relate to him.

Why must the search for life in foreign or distant lands disturb or weaken our faith?  Why are we so scared of foreigners when we are merely foreigners in this land?  Doesn’t Scripture tell us that we are merely travelers?  Why can’t there be travelers on other planets?  The Bible is pretty silent on such a case so may we not be rattled with such a discovery.  Instead, let us join the scientific community in wonder and awe.  Let us realize that our God is bigger, bigger than the Milky Way.  He is the Way.  That Way has created how he has seen fit.  We are perhaps finding out more about ourselves, our world, and most importantly, the relationship between God and his creation.

 

[Aside:  I’ve also wondered why the criteria for life must contain carbon backbones, water, and an atmosphere with oxygen.  That is how we understand physics and life here.  Maybe extraterrestrial life is governed with different principles, different miracles, but the same big God.  Why do the laws of physics as we understand them have to be what other “life” operates under?  There are forces greater than our understanding.  Can we admit that the God who created us is capable of creating distant lands?  He is all powerful, all knowledgeable, all present.  He could even be the God of a galaxy far, far away.  Our faith doesn’t have to be shaken with such discoveries.  We are merely uncovering how infinite our God truly is.  Let us stand in awe of a God who created all things, even things we don’t quite understand. We have yet to fully grasp God’s entire nature—fully man and yet still fully divine.]

Plagiocephaly: a humble lesson

A big word, isn’t it?  I didn’t even know what it was before my Fiona was diagnosed with it.  Essentially, it is a misshapen head that results from womb positioning, lack of tummy time, the back to sleep movement (which was helpful for reducing SIDS but has meant an increase in this issue), or positioning of a baby’s head during labor.  Severe cases can lead to behavioral or developmental delays.  Minor cases could be just cosmetic, but since it is a relatively new field, the long-term impacts of such a condition aren’t known in detail.  As such, I’m left with many questions.

What could I have done differently?  Should I have changed my diet or positions during pregnancy or labor?  Why didn’t I carry her more?  Did I give her enough tummy time?  There are so many questions you can play on a reel in your head.  These scenarios will simply drive you mad.  We must accept what happens and move forward in grace; forgiving ourselves or others that impact whatever situations arise in our lives.  Sometimes, forgiving ourselves or another person requires immense humility, a humility that comes only from asking for help.

God gives us community.  Community is messy.  There are conflicts and cliques.  However, there is beauty, sharing, and life abundant when we share life with others rather than trying to exist as islands unto ourselves.  Look out for others and in turn, glorify God.  This is one way that Christianity sets itself apart from other religions.  Christianity requires the adherent to think of others.  We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but rather, in humility, treat others better than ourselves.  (Phil. 2:3—if I am remembering my reference correctly.)  We are to love God above all else and then our neighbors (every person) as ourselves.  Sometimes, blessing others requires us to let them give resources or aid to our predicaments rather than trying to go it alone.

Our human nature, especially for those who are so independently minded as in America, rejects notions of assistance or vulnerability.  We would rather live life alone, gratifying our own desires and meeting our own needs.  Humility is required to admit we may have done something wrong and need help to bail ourselves out (repentance…which is so contrary to how we want to act) or that through an act of nature, you must admit you need people alongside you.  We must ask for others to help carry our burdens.  We are to carry our own loads, but burdens aren’t meant to be carried/dealt with in isolation.

My aunt recommended I start a gofundme page to alleviate the financial burden of the plagiocephaly helmet.  I cringe thinking about it.  I hate, absolutely abhor, asking for assistance.  I like to give, but asking for money is hard.  (Unless of course friends or family ask what gift we would like, say for a birthday, anniversary, or other major life event celebration.  In that case, I usually respond that I’d like money to pay off a bill or other expense I’m currently managing right now, expenses that mean I have fewer funds to devote to travel, the nomad at heart and travel junkie that I am.)  I am floundering in my Usborne business because I don’t like asking others to support me.  I feel as if my relationships become debts or mere transactions whenever I place monetary requests on them.  I have received massive aid from family and friends through the start of the gofundme page.

I’m plagued with curiosity, confusion, and caution though.  My mind wonders if I will have family or friends question the real need for such assistance if I ever travel, take part in an activity that requires money, or buy something new.  When I ask for money, I feel like there is less liberty to live life how I want or need to.  I feel as if I now must tread with trepidation, worrying how my budget might be perceived and my needs assessed.  I struggle with approval addiction. So, I’m sure you can imagine that requesting assistance of any sort sends my approval addiction into overdrive, being consumed with anxiety that I might purchase something that could have been used towards this need rather than asking for financial help from those around me.  I feel bound and not necessarily at the fault of others.  My sin nature must overcome my pride, the pride that says people think of me as often as I think they do.  My sin nature that says I don’t need others, and ultimately God, to get by in this life.

Perhaps my daughter’s misshapen head, and the necessary correction of it, is exactly what God is using to align my thoughts with his.  Maybe, just maybe, God is using this experience to get my head in the shape it needs to be for his glorious gospel more than my own.