Wednesday, June 22, 2011


As many times as I've found myself stranded on the side of the road, I really should have a tag just for those posts.

Or maybe, a whole blog dedicated to them. Something along the lines of “Unexpected pit stops on the highway of life.”

Yesterday morning, I was driving to work with Anna Marie in tow, and as I got to the last exit in our county my car started making a horrible, very bad, no good noise.

Thankfully, I had time to get off at that exit, because there was about eight miles of open highway (and a long bridge with no shoulder) between me and the next acceptable stop.

Even Anna Marie could tell something was wrong, as I got off the exit ramp and turned to go to the gas station on the other side of the highway.

Thankfully, I was able to make it to the station. I haven't always been so fortunate.

I've been stuck in many, many places in my life. On the sides of roads, at rest areas, and once, when I was engaged, Jason and I spent several hours at a Walmart in Alabama waiting on my parents.

Not the most fun I've ever had, let me assure you.

Yesterday was a sale day at the auction where Jason runs the cafeteria, and I knew he couldn't leave the kitchen. I called my dad, who said he was already almost to the auction – half an hour away. He said he'd drop my mom off and come down to see about us.

Judging by prior experience, I was just sure it was the transmission. It's not like it would be the first time I'd had a transmission go out on me while driving down the interstate (or while entering a shopping center parking lot, for that matter.) I called Jason to apprise him of the situation, trying to stay brave and positive (and not feeling like I was doing a particularly good job at either.)

Thankfully, I was able to go inside the gas station and use the “facilities” (because I've had to go in the great outdoors on previous “unscheduled” stops), get Anna Marie the snack she was asking for (because I had the funds to do so) and let the cashier know why my car might be parked outside for a little while longer than most customers.

I sent a text to our Senior Associate Pastor to let him know I'd be a wee bit late. He called me back to ask if he needed to come see about us, and thankfully I was able to tell him we were fine.

Thankfully, the sun was shining, and Anna Marie was occupied with her Cheeze-its and Nintendo DS, and we passed the time until my dad arrived. I have had to come up with ways to entertain her myself on these “adventures,” so I was most appreciative of her handheld video games.

Jason informed me that our new auto insurance included roadside assistance, so I called to have a wrecker sent to tow the car back home.

Thankfully, when my dad arrived, he diagnosed the problem as “busted exhaust pipe” and not “transmission,” which is a whole dilly of a lot easier and cheaper to fix. He did advise me not to drive the car until it was fixed, so as not to asphyxiate myself or my passengers.

The nice lady at the insurance company called back to say a wrecker would be two hours in coming. “You don't have to be with the vehicle, you can just leave the keys inside,” she said.

“Lady, this station isn't known as the 'Stop and Rob' around here for nothing,” I thought. But what I actually said was, “Well, I live in the woods, and my house is hard to find. My dad says we can drive it home since it's only about 10 miles, so that's what we're going to do. But thanks anyway!”

We removed our valuables, locked the car, prayed over it, and headed to the rest of our day.

After work, Jason came by to pick me up and we met my parents for dinner. (Thankfully, my mom was well stocked with buy one, get one free coupons!) She, Anna Marie, and I stopped for Baskin Robbins kiddie cones, while my dad and Jason headed to pick up my car.

He called me a little while later, laughing.

“I don't know what you're complaining about. People pay a lot of money to have their cars sound like this.”

Haha, dear. Very funny. For one, I don't want my car to sound like I have a glass-pack muffler. For another, yeah, asphyxiation. THAT.

Thankfully, I do have another vehicle to drive while we get this all sorted out, which has not always been the case.

As I travel this highway of life, I know there will be unexpected stops along the way. Not only do I have a responsibility before God to keep a right attitude, I also have a little passenger along for the ride who is watching everything I do, every reaction I have, and those lessons will color how she reacts when her own life runs into the inevitable speed bump or two.

Thankfully, my car was safe, we were safe, and I was able to have some hope before I ever got into the van with my dad.

Thanking God daily for every little thankfully He helps us find in the midst of our trials...

Friday, June 17, 2011


Ok, so I totally had this whole, long post typed yesterday about how that I'm a living double-standard.

And then, a massive storm hit, and I hadn't saved (I was typing in Word, mistake #1) and I lost it.


See, I ran into some frustrations yesterday which brought home a very important point to me. I am at once very impatient, and a horrible procrastinator.

I'm an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Dipped in chocolate. Yummy, dark chocolate.

My car has developed an oil leak. We know what the problem is, and Jason has had the parts to fix it for over a year. Every week or so, my "low oil" light comes on, reminding me to check my levels, which are nearly always about a quart low. Usually, this happens at a really inconvenient time, like when I'm on my way to work, and I have to stop and buy a quart or two.

That's where I found myself yesterday. I stopped at a store in town and picked up a couple of quarts, only to have my debit card denied when I tried to pay for them.

I paid with a check, and proceeded to call Jason to vent my frustration. Frustration at having to stop, again, and it making me late for work. Frustration at having to put a Bandaid on a problem he could fix permanently. Frustration at having my debit card denied.

His phone, of course, went straight to voice mail. Luckily, my parents live next door, so I could call my mom and have her walk over to my house, so I could unleash the full fury of my frustration on Jason via her phone.

As I drove to work, plotting how I could pull my car into my dad's shop and figure out how to fix the problem myself, a thought began to trickle into my head:

I'm a tad impatient.

If I need something fixed, or help from someone, I want it NOW. Not next week, and probably not even tomorrow. I expect nothing less than instant gratification from those around me.

I don't know how I got this way, honestly. As the oldest of four children in a house where there was often more month than money, I wasn't accustomed to getting my wants fulfilled instantly. I think somewhere, that might have developed in me some trust issues, which cause me to believe that if something isn't done right away, it's not going to get done.

Or maybe I'm just overthinking this a tad.

On the other hand, I am an extreme procrastinator. I've lost count of how many times I've stopped in the writing of this post and done other things, like stare intently off into space or check to make sure my fingernails are clean.

I am the Queen of Time Wasting. The Internet is both the best, and the worst thing to ever happen to me.

Too, too often I wait until the last minute to do something, and end up having to rush and stressing myself out much more than necessary.

How did I get to be this way? I have no idea. The worst part is, I'm like this with God too. There are things I've been asking Him to do for years, and some I've been praying about for just a few months (but even that seems like a lifetime) and still, no answer. There are situations in my life I need to be settled, and there are deadlines, but still...I wait.


I seem to forget that God is a God of "suddenly."

Type that word into a search on a Bible site like, and you'll find a LOT of results. There are so many instances in the Word where God does things suddenly, right on time, in just the perfect way.

One of those is in 2 Chronicles 29. It's the story of how Hezekiah repaired and restored the temple and how the people prepared themselves to serve and worship there. It ends with these words:

So the service of the LORD's temple was established. Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced over how God had prepared the people, for it had come about suddenly.

So maybe, that's where my dual natures come into play. Maybe, I should be in preparation mode, so that I'm ready for my "suddenly" to come about. Maybe, my procrastination is making me my own worst enemy.

I've seen so many other "suddenlys" this year. I worked at the same place for eight years, and suddenly, I'm in a completely different environment. I lived in the same house for seven years, and suddenly I'm buying another one and moving.

I'm beginning to think that's why I lost that other post, because this one is going in a totally different direction than the one I'd typed yesterday.

Lord, give me strength to prepare myself, so I'm ready for you - suddenly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kroger Shakedown (and BIG news!)

shakedown graphic.indd

Whew! What a crazy couple of weeks it’s been around here. This week was nice and quiet, which was exactly what I needed after dealing with two funerals last week, scheduled within two hours of each other. I’ve been grocery shopping, yes, but last week we were forced – FORCED – to eat out way more than I would have liked because of all that was going on. This week, Anna Marie was away at camp in Oklahoma for four days, so I didn’t need to get much. So I didn’t get much, and I spent the rest of my grocery budget on a new outfit at Target! That’s what I call smart shopping!

Also, I have to admit I’ve found Kroger’s deals to be a bit lackluster. I guess I’m just living to stock up at their Mega Event sales, and there hasn’t been one of those in a few weeks. Oh, well. That’s part of the beauty of stockpiling: you get to the point where you’re “cherry picking” many weeks and spending even less!

Here’s my rundown for the week:

1 lb. strawberries
3.19 lbs. bananas
1 double-roll 12 pack of Quilted Northern bath tissue ($2.99!)
1 bottle Wishbone dressing
1 package Strawberry Newtons
5 Michalina’s frozen dinners (68 cents each!)
1 package of Bic Soleil disposable razors
1 bottle KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce

Total before coupons/savings: $34.95
Total after coupons/savings: $16.88
Total savings: $18.07 (54%)

Not one of my big blow-out weeks, to be sure, but since it was just the two of us at home we just kind of snacked around for meals. Now she’s back, and it’s back to normal. Or at least, what’s normal for us!

The dinners are for Jason or me to have for lunch - I got the Lean Gourmet kind, don't fret - the strawberries have gone in my cereal each morning, and the dressing will be taken to my Life Group meeting (along with more I have in my pantry that I got for super cheap) this Sunday. And who would turn down a 99 cent package of razors? Not me!

Oh, and before I forget, BIG news: I’ll be conducting my first COUPON CLASS! Yes, if you’re local to the Mid-South area, I’ll be speaking at the Women’s Ministry meeting at my church, Cornerstone (we call it GNO, or Girls Night Out) on Tuesday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. It’s part of a night called Thrifty Living, and we’ll also have other financial pointers like how to shop at yard sales. We’ll have coffee and dessert, and probably (hopefully) laugh our faces off.

The church is located at 5998 Elmore Road in Southaven, Miss. You can either Google it, or email me for more information!

(And if you aren’t in our area, say a little prayer for me…)

Friday, June 10, 2011

A book review! And a giveaway! Huzzah!

Well, howdy-do. I’ve been on a blogging hiatus as things have gotten a bit hectic in Melz World lately, but I come to bring you good news of great joy: I’m back, and this time with a book review (and a giveaway! Huzzah!)

A couple of months ago, I was asked to review the book First Time Dad by John Fuller. What, you say? You’re not a dad, and your kid is almost a decade old? I know, I know. There’s no denying the truth. But, I thought it might be an opportunity to help those who ARE both dads and new to this whole parenting thing to get a good head start on raising great kids.

So many parenting books focus on moms, but we really shouldn’t neglect the impact fathers have on their children. Whether they realize it or not, their influence matters a great deal to how their kids will turn out, for better or worse.

The book was an easy read. Most of the chapters are 10 pages or less, which meant I could digest it in easy segments. I abhor books with really long chapters, because I have such a short attention span that I lose interest in the chapter before it’s finished. Not a problem here!

Fuller is a father of six (!) children, some of whom have already left home. In the book, he shares what he’s learned about dealing with your child’s unique personality, being intentional about instilling your values, how to support your wife as a new mom, and, most importantly, the value of time in relation to raising your kids.

I know for us, when Anna Marie was an infant, Jason’s job at the church meant he was gone a lot. I felt many times that, since I took her to work with me during the day and he was gone to meetings or other functions at night, I shouldered a lot (maybe too much) of the responsibility of rearing her. I also think we could have done a better job of being intentional about teaching her some things. This book encourages dads to be present for their kids and wife, and to invest in their future while they’re still wee small babies.

I’d recommend this for any dad, whether a first-timer or not. And guess what – they sent me an extra copy to give away! It would make a great Father’s Day present for someone who’d just had their first child or is expecting one in the near future. Or, really any dad of small kids.

Just leave a comment here by 5 p.m. Central time on Monday, June 13, telling me a favorite memory you have of your dad or a father-figure in your life. I’ll pick a random winner and you’ll have your book in time for Father’s Day!

Good luck!