Friday, July 18, 2014

Five on Friday: 5 lessons learned on our journey thus far

It's amazing to me the lessons that a year can teach you, or better yet, the radical changes that can occur in one's life in just 365 days. I've come to discover that no matter the circumstance you find yourself in, that everyday, all 365, in sunshine and sorrow, you have to find joy in the journey. As we've now reached our one year mark away from home and stationed here in Colorado I've found myself reflecting on the life changing lessons that this journey has taught me thus far. These five lessons have taught me where my heart, my loyalties, and my head lie. Some lessons have been downright heartbreaking to face while others have liberated parts of my soul. I hope that these five lessons I've learned on this journey can help enrich and enlighten you on yours.

Lesson 1: " Family is not an important thing, it's EVERYTHING."

If you'd asked me a year ago, sure, I would've said family was important to me. I always attended family gatherings, sometimes with an obligatory smile but I was present nonetheless. As much as I loved all of the members of my family, sadly, I can't say that I cherished the time we spent together. To give myself some credit I had been spoiled. I come from a very close family where nearly every member lived within driving distance. Seeing them regularly was completely normal and in fact, expected. Then I left our very close knit nest. If you ask me today if family is an important thing, I would explain to you that family is truly EVERYTHING! I crave Grandma's spaghetti dinners, or catching up with the latest happenings in my cousins lives. I miss my aunts and uncles doting over E and ache when I think that our new baby,Si, will be nearly 3 months old before he's spoiled rotten. I miss the swing set E played with in my mom's backyard where she'd push him countless times and grieve over the truth that Si won't have the same. You see, here in Colorado family is all I have and it's all that I miss. My husband and my boys are my world here and creating a life here with them makes me miss the family we left behind even more. If you have people that you are lucky enough to call your family, then you are blessed beyond measure. Take it from me, cherish even the small and sometimes annoying family moments, you don't know how important it all is until it's gone.

Lesson 2: Friendships change and that's okay

Until now, I've always lived in the same small town. When you're from a small town you find yourself surrounded by the same people for what seems like forever. Friendships last a lifetime and grudges last even longer. Military life is absolutely opposite. Every friendship is temporary. Some friends you really connect with, they get to know the real you, so you keep connected. Others make presumptions, feed off and create drama, and leave with opinions of you that couldn't be farther from the truth. Facing the reality of "disposable" friendships broke my heart. But then I came to realize that friendship isn't everything. Once upon a time it would've devastated me to think that I'd ever utter such words but I've come to realize that even lifelong friendships from back home change just as people do, and that's okay. People are meant to meet a need in our lives, teach us a lesson, or help us grow for a season  and when that season is over it's time to hang on to the memories and move on.

Lesson 3&4: Faith and Fear can't abide in the same heart

Moving here was a huge leap of faith. In a matter of a week we packed up all of our belongings, left the place we knew as home, and trekked across the United States toward Colorado with no idea where we'd call home. Throughout the entire cross journey I found myself surprisingly full of faith, and my faith was rewarded with a beautiful rental home in a good area, our needs were met, and our hearts were full of joy. But then shortly after we arrived our faith was tested in a way I never could've imagined and I crumbled, I was consumed by fear. Things were dark, my heart was heavy, and we all lived consumed by what might be. By living in fear, I had been telling my God that he wasn't as big as my fears, that I wasn't important enough to worry Him with the troubles of my heart, and that I doubted His mercy and His will for my life. But then one day I was blessed with a rainbow, a reminder that my God is ever faithful, He's bigger than my biggest fear, and He can take the storm in my soul and make it something beautiful. I learned that day that fear and faith can't abide in the same heart, the same soul, or the same mind. I still struggle everyday, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Maker has it under control. When storm clouds roll our way, I'm going to stand on the side of faith.

Lesson 5: Focus on what REALLY matters

It's really easy to get caught up in other people's drama when your day to day existence is between your own front and back door. People love drama and gossip and like it even better when they have someone else to share it with. I unintentionally got caught up in people's lives, and people's business that wasn't mine to be caught up in, or even to have known about in the first place. The knowledge I had was embarrassing, and cruel, and shared with me behind people's backs. The intention was cruel and I needed to get away, so I did. I began to separate myself and put my focus and energy where it should've been all along, with those I loved most. When you focus on your own family and your own life things simply feel light. Carrying and sharing the burdens of others is draining and inappropriate. Focus your mind, your heart, and your head with what you want to be filled with. I chose to be filled with the things that brought me joy.

This has been one epic journey. It's been filled with joy, sorrow, regrets, and things I wouldn't change for the world. It's made my marriage stronger, some friendships weaker, my family larger, and my eyes open to a world I never would've known otherwise. But you know what, I wouldn't change any of it for the world. I've learned so much and I know that the lessons are only just beginning. Happy Friday friends! I hope these 5 lessons help you wherever your journey may lead.

Thrifty Thursday: Becoming a Dollar Tree Diva

100 pennies, 4 quarters, 20 nickels, 10 dimes, no matter how you slice it a dollar is a dollar. 
Sadly dollars are hard earned, hard to come by, and don't buy much. But friends there is this magical dimension known as Dollar Tree where a dollar, yes 100 pennies (plus tax :)), can actually buy you practical things, necessities even! When I make my big monthly list of household and grocery goods you can "bet your bottom dollar," pun ABSOLUTELY intended, that Dollar Tree has a column on my list. If you know what's a good deal, what's jewels and not junk, then shopping for items at Dollar Tree can put your dollars back where they belong, in your pocket!!! Check out these items the next time you pass by that glowing green sign, I'm sure you will find that these select items are definitely deals not duds!

Birthday? Anniversary? A simple thinking of you? Got a sentiment? Say it the Dollar Tree way! Cards of all varieties are always 2 for a dollar! They do have a premium card section where each individual card is a dollar, but I feel the fifty cent card sends the same message! Also check out this section if you're in need of generic invitations or packs of thank you notes. Packs are (you guessed it!) just a dollar! There's a huge selection to pick from including seasonal/ situational cards!

The joy of giving shouldn't hurt your wallet! If you've got a gift to give make sure you check out the gift wrapping section at your local Dollar Tree for noticeable savings! They literally have dozens of gift bags to pick from! If you want floral, they've got it, paisley no problem, generic or themed you can bet that Dollar Tree's got your gift covered! If bags aren't your thing check out their equally impressive gift wrap section! Whether it's boxes, bows, tissue paper, or cellophane you're in need of check out Dollar Tree and it's a wrap ( again, pun intended ; ))!

Whether you're packing school lunches or storing leftovers at home, food storage solutions are a must have. I always stock up on aluminum foil, cling wrap, and various size plastic zipper bags while at the Dollar Tree. Periodically I overhaul my stockpile of plastic containers and purchase new ones here as well! They have plastic containers in just about every shape and size imaginable! When purchasing plastic containers stick to whatever brand name container they offer. You might not get as many for your buck, but trust me it's definitely worth it, cheaper containers warp in the dishwasher!

While I prefer to make most cleaning products I use it's undeniable that Dollar Tree has some good options for grab and go cleaning products. While the wall of cleaning products seems like a neat freaks dream I would recommend sticking with familiar products, some generic products are chock full of icky chemicals and toxins. My top picks for the cleaning aisle are "magic erasers," spic and span multi purpose spray, canned air fresheners, cleaning gloves, bleach tabs for the toilet, and dryer sheets! Check out these items to clean up your home without cleaning out your wallet!

I'm sure some of you might be rolling your eyes right about now. Seriously, food items at the Dollar Tree? Yes, seriously there are some super savings in the frozen food section at your local store! We always pick up Luigi's Italian Ice, Toni's mini or French bread pizzas for E, frozen hash brown or shoestring potatoes, and loaves of frozen garlic bread! Don't let the dollar price tag fool you, many Dollar Tree's stock their shelves with name brand products you'd find in your supermarket for a fraction of the retail price! Stock your freezer without freezing your assets ( I'm on a serious roll tonight!).

After checking out the frozen foods, hop a few aisles over and check out the other food Dollar Tree has to offer! I usually purchase dehydrated chopped onion and sea salt in a grinder every trip. Now the food aisle can be a gold mine for name brand goods so keep your eyes peeled for great deals! Today on our trip they had bags of name brand cereal, full size boxes of pop-tarts, organic GMO free mayonnaise, Nonni's biscotti bites, Kikoman lite soy sauce, Snyder's pretzels, Peace Tea, and Tapatio hot sauce just to name a few! Don't underestimate the value of your dollar! Here a dollar can buy you name brand, quality goods!

One place that you don't want to skimp is on your oral health! Stop by the Dollar Tree's health and beauty aisles and you won't have to! I always buy our toothpaste, toothbrushes, and flossers at the Dollar Tree. Dollar tree offers a variety of name brand oral hygiene products at a fraction of the cost! As with the food aisle, be on the lookout at your local store for other high value name brand items in this section! Today we found New Skin anti-chafing spray, Triaminic Allergy and Cold medicine, Tums to go, and Maybelline make up products just to name a few.

Don't ever underestimate just how far your dollar can go! When you shop smart, keep your eyes peeled, and avoid impulse buys the Dollar Tree can put dollars back in your wallet! Hope you had a wonderfully thrifty Thursday. Always remember a dollar saved is a dollar earned!! Happy saving friends!