Planting New Roots

We had certain expectations for what our lives would look like right now. And a month from now. And six months. Even 5 years from now. But our lives have changed in an unexpectedly beautiful way. God has called our family to leave our home here in Central Illinois for a new adventure in Southern Illinois. Toby has accepted a position at Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale and we have found a place to live in Carterville, just a 10 minute drive from his (soon-to-be) office.

One huge blessing is that this is much closer to our families. We look forward to reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. At the same time, we are sad to say goodbye to our church family and dear friends in the Chambana area. Toby has 2 weeks of work left here in Central Illinois, then we have a week to pack everything and move to our duplex in Carterville. That's not much time for closure, but it is what we have.

Please pray with us and for us as we make this transition. We love you all so much and cherish your support.

Fires and Shopping

Last night was simply insane. It started with my sister, mom, friend and I all piling into a minivan to head to the Midnight Madness Sale. We were almost out of C-U when my sis smelled smoke and spotted a fire. We had a bit of trouble finding it at first, but finally we found a road off of the main road that led us to the house where the corner of the roof (where the chimney was) had caught fire.

Imagine the panic and chaos as we four women get out of the van, knock on the door only to have the owners of the house tell us "No, our house isn't on fire, we just have a fire going in the fireplace" and then shut the door. I realize it would be weird to have slightly insane, strange women at your door at 11pm on Thanksgiving evening, but we are still shaking our heads at the fact that they didn't believe us. So my sister knocked again and insisted this time that they come out. Once they saw how the fire was blazing and the smoke was rolling, they started evacuating, along with a large group of children.

It was also quite stressful as my friend, who was on the phone with a 911 emergency dispatcher, kept BEGGING the occupants of the house to give us their address so that the fire department could come. In the chaos of it all, NONE of the adults would cooperate. Finally, we cornered a 10 year old girl and made her give us the house number and street name. After all the people were evacuated and the fire department arrived, we headed on to the Midnight Madness Sale.

Now that I've had a good 3 hours of sleep, reflecting on my night is making my head spin. I'm thankful for many things this holiday season. A nice house and the safety of my family is near the top of the list.

What Sparked the Last Post

Ok friends, I promised I would share why the last post contained such a long rant. For over a year I have subscribed to a political activism newsletter called "Care2 Action" which sends me frequent newsletters about situations I should be aware of and do something about. Specifically they are grassroots efforts that involve signing petitions or donating financially to healthy & green living causes, saving the environment, keeping animals from being abused, etc.

**If you are reading this and are shocked that a gal with conservative politics actually cares about these issues, well don't be. We conservatives do care about our world and resources.**

Anyway, I've enjoyed the newsletters thus far, even if I don't agree with all that they say, until I received this email yesterday:

Hi Joanna,

Every night Glenn Beck inflames the right-wing fringe with his extremist rhetoric against President Obama, but now you have a chance to call him out.

Tell Glenn Beck what you think of his hate speech >>

He's called President Obama a "racist...with a deep-seated hatred for white people." He's compared health insurance reform to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. He was the main promoter of the recent "9/12 rally" in Washington that featured vile hate speech against President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Call him out! >>

Our grassroots action has a real impact. A few weeks ago, advertisers to Beck's nightly cable news show started pulling their ads because hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists like you spoke out.

Since this is the make or break month for President Obama's plan for health insurance reform, we have to keep fighting back against Beck and his extremist attacks >>

Thank you,
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Ummmm...say what? Shouldn't you be rallying people to fight world hunger or save rain forests? Or maybe, if you disagree with Glenn Beck, you should spend your time convincing people that his views are incorrect? Since when did a tv show host become "the evil" that we are fighting? Should conservatives spend their time and efforts denouncing Keith Olbermann? (Hope the answer to this is apparent: Hell no! What a waste!) Here's what I wrote back to LiAnna and the Care2 team:


I have subscribed to Care2 for some time now because I genuinely care about many of the issues facing our world. Care2 has alerted me to some causes that I previously hadn't had much awareness about. There is a lot of injustice out there--from starving children to people being forced into slavery, wildlife being destroyed, etc.

So in light of all those important, world-changing problems that I can care about and take action toward fixing, imagine how hard I laughed when I read this ridiculous email alerting me to "fight back against Glenn Beck and his extremist attacks." Can you really be serious?

What's more alarming, is that apparently I am a right-wing extremist because I disagree with many of President Obama's political stances. And--shock of all shocks--I agree with some of Glenn Beck's outrageous conservative political beliefs.

I'm very sorry that you chose to be so blatantly against a tv personality you happen to disagree with and are wasting my time with a petition against him. I am now unsubscribing to your email newsletters and will no longer support your organization.

Joanna C. Samples

Is it just easier to hate?

"You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!"
-Oscar Hammerstein, 1949 "South Pacific"
I love the words of this song. They are typically used to describe racism, but they are very relevant to all types of hate. You can hate people based on their lifestyle, the class they were born into, the religion they practice, the color of their shoes. Pretty much anything you wish to hate people for. This is often taught to us by our parents, teachers, peers.

Because we are living in a very politically charged moment, I want to address political hate. It is strong. I hear it in conversation, see it on tv and feel tension even on the internet. (You've all probably seen or been a part of a ridiculous political argument on Facebook. I know I have.)

To me, the two logical choices when I encounter people whose political beliefs are different than mine are to either A) live with the fact that we disagree or B) try to change their beliefs with logical discourse. But, is it just easier to hate them instead?

It sure seems like that's what our society does. Either you hate former President Bush, or you hate current President Obama. You have to hate someone you disagree with, right? You can't possibly show with your words and attitude that you genuinely respect both men while disagreeing with some or all of their policies. *Note the obvious sarcasm which is my desperate attempt to make a point.*

This is something for which I have felt disdain for quite some time. This is my warning to you that I DO NOT tolerate hearing people call other people they disagree with "evil." So if you would like to bash and berate someone, that's your problem. If you want to tell me WHY you think someone is making terrible decisions, then I welcome your ideas and conversation. Believe it or not, I've had some fruitful conversations with people of opposing ideas who've actually changed my mind about my political beliefs. (I know, shock of all shocks, right?)

More about what inspired this post tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Good night, Willie Lee, I'll see you in the morning.

“Good night, Willie Lee, I’ll see you in the morning” by Alice Walker

Looking down into my father’s
dead face
for the last time
my mother said without
tears, without smiles
without regrets
but with civility
“Good night, Willie Lee, I’ll see you
in the morning.”
And it was then I knew that the healing
of all our wounds
is forgiveness
that permits a promise of our return
at the end.

Surviving a Loss

On my other blog, I announced yesterday the recent death of our unborn baby. Last night we made a trip to the emergency room where I finished the labor and delivery of our precious child. He or she was alive inside my womb for about 9 weeks.

Molly Piper, who suffered the loss of a child just 2 years ago, had this to say on her blog:

So if you’re a mom like me, living without one (or more) of your children, take heart that this is indeed one of the hardest things you will ever live through. But that also means that you lived.

The lines around your eyes will deepen. But that also means you’ve seen. You’ve seen the chaos of pain. Your eyes have and will shed tears for people in their pain that you could’ve never understood before. This is a blessed gift.

Hold on with me. We’re gonna make it. We might not be the happy-go-lucky gals we used to be, but our lives here will tell stories of indescribable loss and the love of a God who made us to be exactly who we are—every line, every gray hair. None of it is wasted.


Saving BIG Money on Groceries

I love money. As a kid one of my favorite things to do was count and roll change. The feel of the coins in my hands always made me dream about the things that could be bought with it. Now that I'm a responsible, ahem, adult I realize that money doesn't just buy stuff--it buys freedom. Toby and I have the freedom to live in our very own house, use heating and air conditioning to make our lives comfortable, give to our church and to charity, buy gas for our get the picture. After all of our expenses are covered, that doesn't leave much money for food. And we like to eat. Silly us, right?

Saving money on groceries and toiletries has, in the past, consisted of just doing without, sometimes even going without things we really needed. Don't get me wrong, I still don't get to buy the junk food I crave (which is a good thing for my wallet and my health) but now I've learned how to get things we need and want while spending half of what I used to spend each month.

Before I share my secrets with you, let me just say that you do NOT have to do any of the things I do. In fact, if using coupons or shopping at certain stores horrifies you, by all means don't do it. But please don't waste time telling me why you can't do those things. You can do anything if you want to, but you don't have to either. That's the beauty of living in a free country.

My first and biggest secret I have learned is to subscribe to money saving blogs where very dedicated people have already done all the work for you. They will tell you what the best deals are at certain stores every week and where to find the coupons and how to score the deals. All you do is clip the coupons and go. It's a beautiful thing. Check out Money Saving Mom, Super Savvy Shopping, Jane4Girls, or someone local to you.

The next thing I've learned is to buy most of my groceries at Aldi. Several people in my life, including my dear husband, grew up in poverty and have very negative associations with this grocery store. Those issues aren't there for me, so I have no qualms about walking into Aldi and buying milk for $1.49, eggs for $0.88, bread for $1.49, etc. Sweet Baby James LOVES the cinnamon graham crackers from Aldi and doesn't mind that they aren't "name brand." I will caution you that there is a learning curve--you have to figure out which items at Aldi taste good and which don't. Since I'm VERY PICKY and like HIGH QUALITY ingredients, I would be happy to share my experiences with you anytime, just ask. I used to spend $100 a week on groceries at County Market or Wal-Mart--last week at Aldi my entire week of food cost $42.15. We were ecstactic!

The other trick I've learned (again, read those money saving blogs!) is how to use coupons correctly to get toiletries and groceries for FREE or for just pennies on the dollar. This is *usually* done at CVS and Walgreens, but sometimes Target, Meijer or Wal-Mart. Most of us don't use coupons well and don't stock up on items when they are cheap. My good friend Coupon Lady really opened my eyes to this. Coupon shopping is very effective, gratifying and downright fun, but it does require good organizational skills (which can be learned, trust me) and some space in your house or garage to store the stocked up items.

Some other money saving websites that may interest you are:
Baby Cheapskate
Slick Deals

What are some ways that YOU save money? I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts and ideas.