Saturday, August 30, 2008

Honesty is the Best Policy

As many of you know, we are a one income family. Finances are tight so we look for sales whenever we can. We went to the mall on Saturday to use some Chick-fil-A coupons. One coupon was expiring at the end of the month...and you just can't let a coupon for a free Chick-fil-A chicken salad sandwich go to waste!! It's against the law! Well, it is for us anyway! LOL!

After we ate our dinner, we decided to check if the Disney store had any of their T-shirts on sale yet for $5.00 each. My kids LOVE Disney movies so we knew they'd be able to easily find a shirt they liked with one of their favorite characters on it. Micah LOVES Cars and Toy Story stuff. He watched a movie the other week with Buzz Lightyear in it and ever since has been running around the house shooting his imaginary laser beam at imaginary enemies. Sarah LOVES every single Disney princess and anything that has one or more of them on it. We walked into the store and immediately saw they did have shirts for $5, but we also noticed other things on sale so we started to walk around. As we browsed through the store, I found some coats on sale that had different princesses on them. They were originally $29.50 and were marked down to $14.99. Last year I noticed Sarah's lightweight coat was overdue to be tossed in the garbage. How she manages to SHRED a coat is beyond me! Anyway, I knew when I saw these coats that one of these would be just perfect for her. I picked one up that was pink and had 3 of the Disney Princesses on the back. Sarah fell in love with it as soon as she saw it in my hands!

We looked around to see if they had any coats for boys, but we were out of luck because they had none. Phooey! So we went back to the shirts and Micah picked one with Woody and Buzz and the gang as well as a set of 3 cars from the movie CARS. We put the stuff on the counter and the cashier asked us if we wanted to reserve a copy of Snow White which is out on DVD now for only a short period of time. Of course Sarah started to beg and we had to tell her we just didn't want to spend that much money on a movie. My husband paid the bill as he listened to what I was telling Sarah (who thankfully accepted what I was saying without fussing about it). Obviously, neither one of us really paid attention to the total as a result of being distracted by our kids.

We came home, got Micah into the tub for his Saturday night bath, put the kids to bed, and then I went online to play some game. After an hour or so, I remembered I hadn't taken the stuff out of the bag so I went to do that. That is when I happened to look at the receipt and knew immediately that something was wrong. They total was only $14.50! They had forgotten to charge us for Sarah's coat! Of course, the first thought to pop into my head was "Wow! We got a free coat!", but I knew that thought was not from God! I took the receipt to my husband and asked him "What's wrong with this receipt?". He looked at it and you could tell he realized immediately something wasn't right. He finally said "they didn't charge us for the coat." I sort of expected him to say something like "Oh well! It's not our fault they didn't charge us!" in a half-joking manner, but he said "Call and tell them." I was so proud of him!

I called the store and told the lady who answered that I had just noticed that we were not charged for an item. She asked "Was it in the bag?" and I said yes. I told her we were an honest family and wanted to do the right thing. I could tell she was stunned by what she was hearing! She said "Just a minute. Let me check with the manager what he wants to do, because I really don't know what to say!" She came back on the phone after a few minutes and said whenever we were in the area, to bring the item and the receipt in. She thanked me again and said "We aren't use to this happening!". We are going to be in that area today so we are going to take it in then. At least we don't have to make a special trip to the store and waste gas! I honestly think they will be surprised to see us because I sort of expect them to still be thinking we are not going to show up and pay for a coat that they forgot to charge us for!

I was looking forward to telling my kids this morning what happened! What an excellent opportunity for my kids to learn that honesty is the best policy! I talked to my kids separately because I wanted to hear what they thought we should do without being influenced by the other. I told Micah what happened and stopped at me finding out that we were never charged for Sarah's coat. I asked him what we should do and he said "Pray". I asked why and he just put his head down and said "I don't know." LOL! Actually I think he knew that what had happened wasn't right and he knows we are suppose to pray for forgiveness when we do something wrong. I explained to him that we need to take the coat back and pay for it because that's the right thing to do, otherwise it is sort of like we stole the coat because we would know it wasn't paid for (even though we left the store fully expecting to have paid for the coat!). I then asked Sarah what her first thought would be and I told her what happened, stopping at the same place I did with Micah. Sarah's response "Take the coat back." WOO HOO! She HAS learned something from us after all! LOL!

I let both kids know how easy it could have been to rationalize that "God knew we needed a coat for Sarah and we don't have a lot, so He blessed us with a free coat.", but we need to realize that is not the right thing to do. It's easy for people to go back to the store when they are overcharged. So why don't people do the same when the mistake is in their own favor and they are not charged for something? Everyone makes mistakes and it isn't fair to take advantage of someone's mistake just because it benefits us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Be Stupid

Over the past week, we've been reading about the Israelites during our family worship. We read about how they saw first hand many miracles, and yet they still kept turning away from God. Ever since I first read the story of the Israelites in the Bible as a young girl, I remember thinking those people were so STUPID. How could they see all those miracles and yet still not believe that God was big enough to do ANYTHING? They were constantly complaining about something instead of being thankful for everything the Lord had done for them.

As I read the stories with my kids over the past week, the Lord started to speak to my heart. I can act just like those Israelites at times. I can see how many times the Lord has worked in my life and answered prayers, but I still worry and fret when I'm faced with a scary or difficult situation. When things are going good, it is easy to praise the Lord for what He is doing; but it is easy to complain and worry when things aren't going so well. I was faced with having to say to myself "How stupid can you be?!".

I know it can be hard when you are going through a difficult time to focus on all the good things God has done for you. It is also hard to try and see how God could be using the situation you are in to make you a better person. I know I need to try to always remember (especially when things are not going well) that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Let's not be like the Israelites and make the same mistakes they made! Don't forget God when things get tough. TRUST HIM! THANK HIM! PRAISE HIM! PRAY TO HIM! He's still there even when the good times aren't!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back To School

Sorry that I haven't been posting much. As many of you know, I homeschool my daughter Sarah using a cyber school. Well, school started this week! My son Micah will be starting kindergarten next year (WAH!!) so I decided I should start him on some preschool stuff to give him a bit of a head start (hopefully!) on school next year.

I've gotten a taste of what it is going to be like next year when teaching two kids instead of just one, and I've realized in just one week how hard it is going to be! I have been working on having Micah recognize and write his letters and numbers. Some days he is ready and willing to learn. Other days...not so much. He has known his alphabet for over a year, but he refused to say it the one day when I asked him to say it so he could find out what the letter was I was pointing to. Sarah has been testing me all week by not paying attention to what she's suppose to be doing and paying attention to what I'm doing with Micah. She has made a lot of stupid mistakes simply because she didn't read the directions or she wasn't paying attention. Can you say FRUSTRATING?!

Yesterday morning I did my devotions and then started to write in my journal. My frustrations with Sarah were heavy on my heart and I started to pour my heart out to God about it. I quickly discovered that God had a message for me! He calmly let me know that while teaching my kids is important, I need to make sure I am teaching them about what is truly important in life....HIM. As much as I try to do that, I know I have not been doing a very good job of being an example to them this week. Guess I need to go "back to school" too and start doing a better job of teaching my kids academically AND word AND actions!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Don't Give Up!

Our family has been enjoying watching the Olympics the past few days. I noticed in two swimming races, the commentators basically wrote off everyone else because they were so certain that a specific athlete was going to win the gold. I love to see an athlete who isn't expected to win have the race of their life and win a medal. I especially love to see an athlete win who is from a country who has never won a medal or rarely wins a medal. So it is safe to say that I was a little annoyed that the commentators were soooooo certain that a specific athlete from a specific country was going to win. I knew they might be right, but I also know that anything is possible in the Olympics! Both races had American athletes in them who, according to the commentators, would be fighting for silver or bronze because they didn't stand a chance at beating the athlete(s) from another country. I cheered our athletes on in spite of what the commentators were saying, and it was a THRILL to see the Americans win the GOLD in one race and the SILVER in the other!! The "winner" chosen by the commentators won the silver in the race where we won the gold. In the other race, the athlete who was supposedly going to win the gold placed 5th!

Yesterday I watched the U.S. men's gymastic team win a bronze medal. Many people (including other Americans!) had pretty much written the team off because they had lost a few of their regular gymnasts to injuries prior to the Olympics and they needed to call on the alternates to perform in the Olympics. Members of our team said they had heard so many times that they didn't stand a chance, but that made them more determined than ever to prove everyone wrong....and that's exactly what they did! What a thrill to see them accept the bronze medal in the team competition!

So why did I decide to write all that? I guess it was to let everyone know that you should NEVER GIVE UP! There will always be someone rooting for you, cheering you on, and having faith that you WILL succeed! Even if it seems that everyone around you doesn't have faith in you or doesn't care, GOD CARES!! He is ALWAYS on your side! He KNOWS you can do it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Be Steadfast

Psalm 57:7 says "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music." I thought I was drawn to that verse this morning simply because it talked about singing, and as many of you know by now, I LOVE music and especially singing! It is truly my passion and I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with that gift. I know there have been many times that the Lord has ministered to me through the words of a song. I am always in awe of how the right song will come on the radio just when I need it most.

After reading in Psalms, I decided to read my Proverb for the day. Proverbs 4: 25-27 really struck me today: "Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil."

The first thought that came to my mind after reading those verses was to picture someone on a balance beam. Maybe God brought that to my mind because the Olympics will be starting at the end of this week. LOL! All I know is that it had to be from God because I am certainly NOT a gymnast and I wouldn't have thought of that analogy on my own! Anyway, I thought of being on a balance beam and how you have to make sure your feet are always placed directly on the beam. If your foot is off to the right or left just a little bit, it can throw you off balance and cause you to fall. Gymnasts don't need to even look down to know whether their foot has landed firmly on the beam or off to one side because they can FEEL the difference between the two immediately.

I then thought of how it says in verse 25 to look straight ahead and fix your gaze directly before you. I immediately thought about carrying a full glass of milk, hot tea or coffee, or any other beverage. I remember the first time someone told me that I shouldn't look at the glass I was carrying but instead I should LOOK UP so I could see where I wanted to get to. I thought they were crazy! I thought for sure I would spill stuff out of my glass, but I trusted the person enough to listen to them and try it. I walked right over to where I wanted to go and didn't spill a drop. Amazing!

After finishing my devotions, I decided that I wanted to look up the definition for the word steadfast to see exactly what it meant. I was fairly certain I knew what it meant, but for some reason I felt drawn to look it up. I decided I better listen to that little voice inside me telling me to get out the dictionary. Here are the five definitions that were listed for the word steadfast:

1. fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
2. firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
3. unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.
4. firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.
5. firmly fixed in place or position.

I almost had to laugh out loud as I saw how the verse in Psalms and the verses in Proverbs went together! We need to fix our eyes on the Lord so we can see where we are going. We will know if we stray off the path because it will feel different. As we walk on the firm paths and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we have the confidence and assurance of knowing we will not fall. This means our hearts as well are fixed on Jesus! No matter what comes our way, we can sing praises to our God because we know where we are headed and that He is with us all the way!