Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giving Stuff Away Over Here

     You know I love journals. If you didn't know that, let me tell you, I love journals. Sometimes I impose my love for journals on others. Even if friends are not journalers, I've been known to give them a journal for a birthday or a graduation. It's time to impose once again. Up for grabs are three journals made from vintage books by Jacob at Make sure you pay his site a visit and find the exact journal that suits you. There are so many to choose from. In the meantime, here's the first of three journals I'm giving away to three lucky readers:

This journal was made from a book called Lands and Peoples from 1961. The cover has a cool texture to the black colors

Inside each journal, Jacob includes plain white paper for writing or drawing, and also incorporates pages from the actual book throughout. 

The next free journal is made from a book called The Happy Hollisters and the Old Clipper Ship from 1956. The cover is actually a deep red though it may appear orangish in the pic. Cool retro art of little kids running in the bottom right hand corner. 

And here we have a classic Hardy Boys book, The Mark on the Door

     To win a journal, just leave a comment here on my blog and put in order which one you would like to have the most as your number one pick, then your second, and then your third. Winners will be randomly selected and posted here on my blog. All comments must be posted by 11:59PM October 31.
And don't forget to visit Jacob at or like his facebook page, Ex Libris Anonymous. Good luck!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life Keeps Happening

     Sunday was not a day of rest. Our little adventure continued (little, hmph). We decided to go to church. I was hoping for a line in the pastor's sermon that went something like this: "Even if you were down to one car and now that car is sitting broken down at the 76 station in El Dorado Hills, take heart, because help is on the way. And by the way, here are the keys to a brand new car for the handsome silver-haired guy sitting in the second to last row looking a little disoriented." That didn't happen but maybe if that pastor had prayed more before preaching...
     My mind was spinning, trying to come up with a plan for the day, getting the van re-towed to a Firestone service station since it was just there a couple weeks ago getting a tune up and shouldn't be breaking down on good people, what to do with the kids while we're car shopping, how to get Marty home because of work the next day and a friend's car at our house who was flying in and her key was locked inside our home plus cats in the garage whose food supply was only rationed through Saturday night...  My sister-in-law and her husband were gracious enough to let us borrow their car to get a few things done. I was clueless enough to drive it with the emergency brake on therefore causing smoking brakes by the time we reached our destination. Felt a little stupid about that. Then we were scrambling to get a ride to meet the tow truck driver since he was on his way. Cue my incredible mother-in-law who carted me around for the rest of the afternoon.
     My kids and I are still stranded here in Shingle Springs as our van gets repaired. My mother-in-law left for a trip early this morning so it's just us, no car, no food, no hope... I'm being a bit dramatic. On Saturday night I read a passage that I have reviewed many times in my life. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts... and be thankful." I have a part to play in this. God's peace exists. It is found in his presence. I have to decide if I'm going to let it rule in my heart or not. And I need to be thankful. After the smoking brakes debacle, I was recalling this scripture, reminding myself that I need to let the peace of Christ rule in this crazy day, and I need to give thanks. And there was a lot to be thankful for. We had family members that bent over backwards to accommodate us, my kids got extra cousin time, we met with supporters who decided to partner with us financially, a good friend who is in the middle of his own crisis lent us his van so Marty could get home, and the night ended with someone offering us their car to have since they were getting ready to buy a new one.
     Life keeps happening, but that shouldn't only be a reference to the bad stuff. Blessings are a part of life happening, too. So, I'm learning to be thankful for the blessings and trying to be thankful through the difficulties. But check back with me on that if for some reason we don't get home tonight!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Life Happens...

    After my car accident I stood on the side of the freeway waiting for the tow truck, and even in that moment, I knew God would redeem the situation. Yes, my car was totaled, but I knew God would provide for us, or at least take care of us (and God's "least" is huge). Yet, that assuring thought led to a question: If God is going to redeem this, then why did it happen in the first place? Why didn't He prevent it? These weren't questions of doubt, they were just questions I was waiting for the answers for, knowing very well that I may not get the answers and being fine with that, too. I trust my God. I have for decades. Wasn't going to quit now.
     As I mulled over these thoughts, I realized life just happens sometimes. That trailer hitch sticking out in the middle of the freeway lane in the dark morning hour was an example. Life happened and God has redeemed it. I was worried we would only get about $3000.00 at best from our insurance for our 15 year old car. Kelley Blue Book predicted so for a vehicle in "excellent" condition. I didn't know if the appraisers from State Farm would see our car in "excellent" condition, so that left me hoping for the best. For some unknown reason, State Farm saw our car as worth a few thousand more than Kelley Blue Book. Life happened (I wrecked my car), and God redeemed it (way more moolah than I anticipated).
     Some have said everything happens for a reason. I'm not sure I believe everything happens for a reason, but I believe there can be a great purpose birthed out of the happening. Lessons can be learned, growth can occur, thankfulness can spring forth.
     The opposite can also happen. Bad happenings give birth to bitterness, unforgiveness is harbored, and blame is placed. "It's not fair!" we may cry like a child. But life isn't fair! It's just not. We don't always get what we deserve, good or bad. In his book A Grace Disguised,  Jerry Sitser suggests that the universe we live in is a cruel place. Instead of asking, "Why me?" he has learned to say, "Why not me?" He did not come to this philosophy easily, for this is a man whose above mentioned book was inspired by the tragedy of losing his mother, his wife, and one of his little daughters at the hands of a drunk driver. He writes, "The problem of expecting to live in a perfectly fair world is that there is no grace in that world, for grace is grace only when it is undeserved." I'd rather live with opportunities of grace bestowed upon me then getting what is fair all the time. Sometimes "fair" isn't fun.
     My wife and I were discussing this "Life happens and God redeems it" philosophy this afternoon. We were on a fundraising trip. We were headed to pick up our kids, keep one more appointment then hit the road for home... when our only automobile began to sputter and eventually die. Hmph. So now were stranded in Shingle Springs (thankful for a place to stay), repair shops are not open on Sunday (glad the kids are out of school on Monday), and I have no idea what is wrong with our van. I do know this, it was a lot easier to say "Life happens and God redeems it" this afternoon than it was later this evening standing on the side of the road waiting for the tow truck AGAIN... but I still believe it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...

     I got angry tonight. I had plenty of justice juices pumping inside me and I wanted someone to pay for their crimes. We're looking for a second car since my accident several weeks ago. We found a steal on Craigslist, a 2005 mini SUV for $2250. A poor, recently divorced woman needed to sell it quickly because her husband wasn't being very kind to her and she needed the funds. We inquired through email and received a response back that the transaction would happen through Google Wallet "for both of our protection, so please provide your name, mailing address, and phone number." What does she need our address for, I wondered.
     When we got home from church, I looked for the original listing and it was nowhere to be found. That struck me as strange. I started to get suspicious. I went to the Craigslist scam warning page and found an example of a fraudulent post that had several similar components as this dream offer; divorcee,  low price, car in great condition, low mileage, transaction will be handled through another payment service, asking for shipping address.
     I then priced the 2005 make and model of this car on Kelly Blue Book and a car of this style in fair condition sells for 11 grand plus. We stumbled upon a scam. Yeah, the deal was a steal, this put upon "divorcee" was trying to steal from us. And it made me angry. I had flashbacks of feelings after our house was ransacked and robbed in 2009. How DARE they! Who do they think they are? How heartless to take possessions and money that doesn't belong to them. I wanted this "Sarah" person to be found and stopped. I looked up reporting the scam, but I realized they've probably already set up another email account and are waiting for the next potential pigeon. I probably wasn't going to get my serving of justice around this. Simmer down, justice juices.

     At dinner, before discovering the swindle, I said the blessing over our food and threw in there an inquiry to God for wisdom about this car. I'm thankful He quickened me regarding the details of this "sale." And I realized this was uncharted territory for me. All my life my parents have been involved in providing or helping to finance a vehicle for me. This is my first time venturing into Cars Land without them. My anger turned to thankfulness as I remembered my incredible parents who were not too good to be true. And now I'm left thinking about them. Sigh (but a good sigh).