29 January 2011

How I Made Money from My Unwanted Stuff

Ah... I did it!  I offloaded a bunch of baby stuff, and a few other unloved items that had been piling up.  I used to have an annual garage sale, but after figuring out it was more valuable to donate my clutter, I became an annual donator instead.  To understand how your donation turns into cash for you, read this post.  Remember, anytime you donate goods worth more than $500, you have to document it.  I'm hoping my list and photos are good enough.   I'll talk to the tax guy on Tuesday and let you know how it goes.

After cross referencing my list with the Salvation Army Valuation Guide (When using the guide, be sure to select the right geographic region), I'm estimating I should be able to deduct at least $900.  Our tax bracket dictates how much of that comes back to us in the form of a tax return.  I probably won't actually claim that much, but I have the documentation for it and pictures for it just incase.  Here's an itemized list of everything I donated today:

Clutter that Breeds

I have always been a master of keeping small spaces tidy, especially small, hidden spaces.  My junior high locker was purged at least weekly and kept incredibly neat.  It seems like I'm constantly checking Tiny's diaper bag and keeping it organized.  My super-cute-little-pencil-case-that-easily-jumps-from-diaper-bag-to-mama-purse is always clutter free.  Even my closet is relatively neat.  It's the vast expanses that throw me for a loop.

On the vast expanse of dining room table:  Junk mail, bills, and what-do-I-do-with-this-one papers seem to intermingle.  Then they breed like the gadzillion stray cats under Grandpa's porch until I don't know which ones to destroy and which to file.  Hence my "need to file" file pile.

My car (since having children): The car used to be a small space that was cleaned out frequently, but now I always have my hands full of baby when I come in the door.   I don't bring in the bits of straw wrappers, the tiny little socks (why won't she just keep them on???), the fuel receipts and random toys.  Tonight, I noticed Tiny's Gloworm on the floor board.  I'm pretty sure he's got Farmer Jed to keep him company and they have plenty of stale Cheerios and a flat Diet Coke to snack on if they decide to throw a party.

26 January 2011

A Blogger's Dream

I have this ongoing daydream where I go to an eclectic little tea house ('cause I don't drink coffee and hot chocolate is not near as cool).  I open up my shiny MacBook Air that Apple sent to me for free; and I stare at the opportunities that lie behind that blank screen for just a moment while I stir my tea.  Then I calmly start typing as eloquent words flow from my brain to my fingertips.

In mere moments, I hover my pointer over the "Publish" icon, sheepishly grin at the witty little post I just whipped out.  Then, with one finger, I tap the track pad button (for you PC people, that's the equivalent of a double click), and off it goes.  Ahhh yes... I sit back, take a sip of my still warm tea.  I gently put the screen down and gaze out the window enjoying the moment while millions of readers flock to my site to see what stroke of brilliance I have to share.

I'm famous, yet no one recognizes me in real life (However, the eclectic teenager working at the eclectic little tea shop knows my name because I am a regular).  My writings have made it possible for me to travel the world, yet I still wear faded jeans, a broken-in pair of Toms, and a long sleeve T-shirt that says, "Will Blog For Food."  People see me and think I'm a nerdy college kid (cursed with gray hair oddly enough), but really, I'm a genius 30-something retiree.

..... and it's back to reality.  ~ Plain & Simple As That

22 January 2011

Back to the Basics

This morning I went to an awesome workshop led by Lela Davidson.  Lela is an online genius!  Her experience and direction was just the boost I needed to refocus my blog.  Blogging Basics is a three hour workshop packed with resources, action plans & idea generating systems all aimed at increasing readership or just creating a more interesting space for your readers to come hang out.  There's nothing like spending time with other writers to encourage a writer, even if said writer is mostly just a wanna-be.

Lately, my page has taken a more serious tone and I find myself journaling more about my spiritual musings than documenting my Plain Jane tendencies.  Blogging Basics helped me to declutter my mind, brainstorm a list of things I want to focus on, and hop onboard.  Hopefully, you'll start see the fruit of today's class here on "Plain & Simple As That" as I write more focused articles about living life without worrying about the Joneses.   I can't wait to get started on some of the ideas I wrote down today.  Maybe with all this inspiration, I'll start another blog.  If you ever get the chance to take one of Lela's courses, you'll walk away ready to get typing!  ~ Plain & Simple As That

17 January 2011

Why I Believe Jesus is God

Everyone knows that the earth rotates around the sun, but why do we believe this?  It's clear that the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west everyday.  I could easily stand in my front yard and argue the obvious fact that the sun is circling around the earth.  However, what seems obvious can be turned upside down by one elementary school teacher with a couple of coat hangers, some styrofoam balls and a light bulb.  Once the light is turned on and the balls are spinning, the earth's rotation won't be questioned again.  After seeing it in motion, I might even be able to explain it to someone else.

This is sorta' what I experienced in my spiritual walk a few years ago.  ~ I had always believed that Jesus was God.  There's God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.  One God; three Persons. ~ The problem is, it isn't so obvious to others.  When my belief was challenged, I didn't have a fancy styrofoam model to explain it.  Out of frustration, and maybe even a little doubt, I delved into my Bible to find out what it really does say about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Are they all really God?  Here's what I found:

  • Jesus quotes the commandments in Luke 4, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve."  If Jesus isn't God, then by his own definition accepting worship (such as He did in Matthew 2 when the wise men came to worship him at his birth, and later in John 9:38 after he heals a man) would have been considered blasphemy (a sin) and his death on the cross would therefore be meaningless.   
  • If Jesus isn't God, he couldn't forgive sins as seen in the account of the paralytic (Matthew 9).  Anytime Jesus forgave sins, He was displaying/claiming his diety ~ the religious leaders recognized this (read John 5:18).  
  • Isaiah 6-9 holds much prophecy about Jesus and specifically calls him "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
  • Jesus calls out who he is in the end of John chapter 8.  He even calls himself "I am" which is the name God told Moses to use when speaking to Pharaoh in Exodus chapter 3.
  • In Matthew, Jesus gives the great commission saying, "Go... baptizing them in the name (singular) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." If Father, Son and Holy Spirit were different gods, then the Bible would say, "Go... baptizing them in the names (plural) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."  
  • In the Creation story in Genesis, "Then God says, 'Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness...'" (it DOES NOT say, "Then the gods said... " NOR does it say, "Let me make man in my own image..") 
Jesus was there in the beginning.  He created the sun.  He set the planets into motion.  Then He came as a model to help explain it.  Check this out!  Psalm 23.  As you read this very well known piece of old testament scripture, take some time with these phrases: 
  • The Lord is my shepherd
  • He makes me lie down in green pastures
  • He leads me beside still waters
  • You prepare a table before me (a meal perhaps?)
  • my cup overflows (a meal with leftovers perhaps?) 
Now go to any one of the three accounts of Jesus feeding the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44), and John 6:1-14)  See if Jesus isn't modeling. 
  • He is the shepherd (He refers to the people as sheep without a shepherd specifically in Mark 6:34)
  • He commands the people to sit on the green grass (all three accounts)
  • This takes place next to the water (all three accounts)
  • He prepares a meal for 5000 men (plus presumably some women and children) with five loaves of bread and 2 fish
  • There's enough leftovers to fill 12 baskets.
I see no distinction between the "Lord" of Psalm 23 and the "Lord" of any of the other Psalms.  If I say the Lord is my Shepherd, and Jesus is the good Shepherd (John 9), then it's obvious to me, Jesus is Lord and He is God.  I think I grew up believing that, but after digging in, now I can say that I know it.  ~ It's Plain & Simple as That.

08 January 2011

Bring the Word, Leave Your Tract Behind

This is a bit of a continuation from yesterday's post.  After I wrote down my thoughts about ending my weekly visits with my JW friends, I went to bed thinking about my exit strategy.  I don't want to end on a sour note, and I don't want to close the door completely.  If they are open to studying the Bible instead of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society's supplemental material, I'm interested in continuing the relationship.

Each week, the Wednesday afternoon knock means it is time to get out the Watch Tower's "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" tract.  The conflicting logic in this particular publication frustrates me.  In one instance, they say that during creation, God "chose not to know" that man would sin.  When it comes to the theology of the Trinity, they say,

A Wasted Witness?

Dear Holy Spirit... I could use a little counseling here.  Would thou please confirmith my suspicions through the followers on my blog... or my facebook friends?  Okay, okay... I'll seek it in your Word.  But I'm a 21st century kinda girl.  So I'm still gonna blog it.  Amen.

As promised:

So, about 2 1/2 years ago, I was a new SAHM hanging out at the house barefoot, eating bon bons (or maybe it was M&Ms in my case), waiting for the Tot (then a teeny baby) to wake up from her second nap.  Alas, a knock at the door.

Thus began my relationship with "M"

07 January 2011

Sojourner in the Produce Aisle

Never one to make a commitment, I skipped the whole New Year's Resolution thing yet again this year.  Nevertheless, I found myself in the produce aisle on January 1 with all the new 2011 dieters.  It felt a little dirty ~ like a spy in a foreign land or a high school girl at a college party (not that I know what that is like *wink wink*).  The only place more alien to me than the produce aisle is the gym.  At least at the gym I can usually avoid eye contact with the rippled people as I quickly meander to the pool area, hoping no one notices how many weeks it's been since my key card was last scanned.  At least I can say I have a reason to be there.

Which brings me back to the produce aisle.  I promise, I have a reason to be here as well.  Just because I don't know what to do with a gourd, a shallot, a bag of artisan lettuce, or raw turnips, doesn't mean I should be shunned from the produce club completely.  After all, I like salads; you know, the kind with lots of bacon bits, cheese, turkey and ranch dressing and maybe a few tomatoes.  Besides, this mission isn't about me.  It's about the children.  I'm on a quest to find Tiny-&-the-Tot-approved, lunchsack-worthy vegetables.