Life imitating commercials

When my sister saw this commercial, she immediately asked me if I had seen it.

Because it’s so, so true.

It was sort of comforting to know that I’m not the only one that does that at Target.  If they made a commercial about it, after all, I must not be the only one who makes random splurge purchases that seem so justified based on ridiculous reasoning.  And it’s so easy at Target because everything is so darn cute and so darn affordable.

Well, the commercial was never quite so true as it was the other night…

When I decided I deserved this hat for my trips to the beach.

(How is that for multi-tasking?  I’m actually talking on the phone to my mom as I’m taking the picture.)

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the plague

The cicadas are really horrible.  At first it was fun to joke around about them, but now I’m over it.  They’re flying around now, and in certain areas of town you can’t look in any direction without seeing several flit around.  I tried to count how many I saw while stopped at a stoplight, and I couldn’t keep up.    They’re everywhere– and they seem to enjoy running into people.   I’m sure I look ridiculous, darting around and walking quickly from one building to the next, but I just can’t stand the things.  Luckily they’re big enough that you can see them from far away and so it’s easier to dart around and miss them.  But at the same time, there are so dang many of them, they’re impossible to avoid completely.

The sidewalks that have been covered with their shells for the last week or two, are now covered with them, dead and alive.  We were at the park on Saturday and noticed a few were perched on the picnic table where we were sitting.  Then one crawled into my friend Mary’s flip flop, and as we looked down at the grass around us, we realized the grass was full of them.  They were everywhere– crawling around drunkenly through the green grass.  Then Maria pointed out the base of the large tree next to us — and all around it was a carpet of shells.

Ugh.

And they’re really, really loud.  Around mid-afternoon, they’re so loud you can barely hear normal conversation while standing outside.

Only a few more weeks.  I’m not sure how much more I can stand.

Financial Peace Plaza

A few weeks ago, I was with some friends driving to the movies.  My friend Liza mentioned off-handedly, “There’s Dave Ramsey’s place.”  I don’t think she was expecting me to flip out.

But I did.  I love Dave Ramsey.  And while I’ve wanted to run into him in the grocery store for awhile now (it could happen…) I’ve never searched out his office building.  I knew it was somewhere, of course, but I thought it would be a bit stalkerish to figure out where Financial Peace Plaza was.  What would I do, just hang out in the parking lot?

So as we drove by I attempted to take a picture, while both my friends thought I was insane.  (I’m used to that, though.)

I think he’d approve of my coupon adventure, don’t you?

Money saved and money spent

My lovely friends Manda and Tess went to a class on coupon-ing.  Did you even know there was such a thing?  We were hanging out at Manda’s last weekend and they were trying to teach our friend Maria and I all the secrets they had learned.  I’m afraid some of the concepts still confuse me, like how everything at the drugstore is really free (?), but I did take valuable tips away from the lesson. Namely:

1) There’s a website called SouthernSavers.com that lists all the coupons under the sun, at least for we southern folk.  (although it includes some Yankee stores like Target and Kroger, too).  The woman not only lists all the coupons in various magazines and newspaper inserts, she also has a lot of printable coupons and links, too.

2) This past week (beginning last Wednesday and going until this Tuesday, I’d imagine) Harris Teeter is tripling all coupons (under $1).  TRIPLING!

So I took these two nuggets of information and decided to go to HT on my lunch break and see what I could get.  I saw the Ciao Bella sorbet was buy one get one, so I decided I was going to get that, even if I didn’t have a coupon.    I also knew I was going to get my lunch, which with a HT discount card is super cheap.  If the other things I purchased seem very random, it’s because I had coupons for them, and once tripled, the things were either very cheap or… free.

So here’s what I came away with:

Cast of Characters:

  • On the left, you see my lunch — namely, a six-inch cheesesteak sub, a bag of chips, and a bottle of ginseng and honey iced tea.  This is the lunch special at HT, so I got all of that for $2.99.
  • Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet.  50% off
  • Uncle Ben Whole Grain White Rice.  My mom will tell me not to eat white rice because it’s bad for me, but I do eat it.  And guess what?  it was… free.  Yes, because I had a .75 off coupon, tripled, it was free.
  • 2 single-serving packages of Greek yogurt. Cost=  Free. (same deal as the rice)
  • Coffee-mate creamer for the office. Cost= .64 cents (.55 cent coupon, tripled)
I got everything above for a total of $6.93.  Not bad, huh?
I’m not going to become a crazy couponer — in fact, I’m not sure if I’ll ever save that much ever again. But it was a fun adventure for my Wednesday lunch break.
Of course, that evening, I spent more than what I saved.  My friend Liza and I went to see Les Miserables downtown.  It is the 25th Anniversary of the show, so there is a touring company traveling across America right now.  I really, really enjoyed it– having sung many of the songs in choir, I felt like I knew the show very well, but I had actually never seen it live.  The sets were gorgeous and amazing (SPOILER: Javert’s suicide in the last act was incredible– it actually looked like he was jumping off a bridge, and I’m not entirely sure how they did it).
I was a tad disappointed in Fantine.  I’m not saying I could do what she did, of course, but I’m very critical of altos and I love I Dreamed a Dream (I sing it to myself in the car a lot.  Um… maybe…), so I just wasn’t entirely happy with her voice.  But on the whole, the show was beautiful!  And it was a lovely night out with Liza.
I think I’m going to challenge myself to have another coupon adventure soon.  Think of what I could do with the money I usually spend on rice and yogurt!

Knowing His Voice

“…the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 
When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
Jn 10:3-4

This past Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday.  There are so many aspects of the Good Shepherd story that I love, but what really struck me this week was the idea of knowing His voice.  This imagery is central to the  Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training I took, and I can’t hear this Gospel without seeing Sr. Mary Charles in her atrium, teaching her little students this parable.

There is a priest in the diocese of Knoxville who is originally from Ghana.  There’s a certain story that he tells on Good Shepherd Sunday, and I think you’ll know why.

When he was growing up in his village back in Ghana, there were two herders who were in dispute.  One of the herders accused the other of stealing some of his animals– some of his sheep, goats, and cattle.  So the judge took the two men out into the field where the man’s animals were grazing.  There was a huge group of animals — sheep, goats, and cattle.  The judge motioned to the first herder.  He stepped out and made a clicking sound.  That was it– just a simple clicking sound with his mouth.

Out of the herd came cattle, sheep, and goats, and they came to the man.  Not all of them — just the ones who knew his voice.  His cattle, sheep, and goats.

They knew him.  From a simple clicking noise.

I have several friends who have faced or are facing difficult decisions lately.  And I sympathize with them, having had to make difficult decisions myself the past few months.  I was talking to one of my friends the other day and she pinpointed why decisions are so difficult some times … what happens if I’m not hearing His voice?

Her question hit home.  Because it’s so true.  What if we’re faced with a decision — a life-altering decision — and we don’t know His voice?  I want to follow His voice.  I want to be that sheep that is standing in the herd and hears His voice and comes to Him.  I desire more than anything to do His Will.  But what if it’s hard to hear His voice?

What if I can’t distinguish His voice from my own emotions?  Do I desire to do this or that because He has placed that desire in my heart?  Or rather because it’s easy, or because I just think it would make me happy, or because I’m capricious?

In the homily today, Father spoke of the importance of humility.  And I think that might be the key.  To hear His voice, I have to be ready to do anything– including if that means giving up what I thought was His voice.  I have to realize that to hear His voice, I have to stop hearing my own.  Sometimes that means seeking out the quietness of Eucharistic Adoration.  Sometimes that means listening to the advice of others.  And sometimes it simply begins with admitting to myself that I don’t know best.

It also means humbly submitting to His Church, even when that Church says things that are hard to live out or difficult to accept.  If we don’t listen to the voice of our shepherd here on earth, to whom Christ gave the keys and the power over heaven and earth, how are we ever going to listen to the voice of the Shepherd in heaven?

I’m not saying it’s easy.  And I wonder if we’ll necessarily ever know about some of the decisions we make?   What if I make a decision, using everything He has given me — my intellect, the good advice of those around me, prayer– and it’s not the right one?  I suppose there comes a time when you just keep walking forward unless something really sends you backward.   That’s why I pray and just ask God to slam a door if I’m not supposed to walk through it.  I highly recommend this approach.  Just don’t get mad when He does! : )

Perhaps if I was better at discernment, I would know His voice and not require slamming doors.