Free Christian Downloads

In this, or any economy, a penny saved is a penny earned, so why pay more?  The coupon craze of late has taken the country by storm, but one bargain shopping term has always garnered loads of attention: FREE!!!

Download FREE audiobooks from ChristianAudio.com!  With over 400 FREE titles available for download daily, there’s something for everyone.

This month’s featured FREE audio book of the month is Joni Eareckson Tada’s A Place of Healing.

 

 

 

 

 

Product Description from ChristianAudio.com:

In this eloquent account of her current struggle with physical pain, Joni Eareckson Tada offers her perspective on divine healing, God’s purposes, and what it means to live with joy. Over four decades ago, a diving accident left Joni a quadriplegic. Today, she faces a new battle: unrelenting pain.

The ongoing urgency of this season in her life has caused Joni to return to foundational questions about suffering and God’s will. A Place of Healing is not an ivory tower treatise on suffering. Its an intimate look into the life of a mature woman of God.

Whether readers are enduring physical pain, financial loss, or relational grief, Joni invites them to process their suffering with her. Together, they will navigate the distance between God’s magnificent yes and heartbreaking no and find new hope for thriving in between.

Enjoy your FREE downloads and pass along this good news (pun intended)!

Love to all!

CC

Gardening

I enjoy making things – artsy-crafty things.  Now, I  feel the urge to expand my ability to “make” things, such as food.  I’ve thought about it before, but recently decided that this is the year that I would finally get serious about gardening.  I know it’s a bit late for certain types of crops, but I’m not going to let my procrastination stop me.  Better late than never. :-) 

Based on some quick research for the climate in which I live, here’s what I can possibly plant.  These are foods that I’m sure my family will eat.

  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

I guess a trip to the gardening section of the local hardware store is in order.  I’ll post more later.

What are some relatively low-maintenance crops for zone 6A?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you grow your own food?  Let’s discuss!

Is This Thing On?

Best Books Network has been away for a while, but the random thoughts and happenings never take a break.  Some of the randomness that I’m excited about: 

Spring is here, but with record rains thus far, I’d love to be able to have a week-long stretch of nothing but sun and warmth.

I repainted the family room 2-3 months ago, but still haven’t finished painting the fireplace hearth.  That project started sometime around Thanksgiving and needs some closure – for my sanity.

The first floor half bath is getting a makeover as well, but that too, has stalled.  So far, I’ve painted a lone stripe of the new color on the wall and haven’t gotten back to it yet.  It’s a good thing we don’t entertain.

I’ve discovered a local meat shop and am hooked!  The guys provided excellent service and even gave me a wonderful tip on making BBQ ribs that turned out wonderfully.  No more fresh meat purchases at the grocery store for me!  Kudos to small businesses with great service and excellent pricing!

Now that I’ve made a change in my shopping habits, I’m looking forward to purchasing fresh produce at local farmer’s markets.  Sure, I’ll still get my bananas at the chain store, but veggies and all other fruit are fair shopping game.

My treadmill has found a wonderful new home and that has freed up space in my gym for a new elliptical.  The workouts are very challenging, but easy on my knees, hips, shins, and back, so I’m in love with a hunk of metal…even if it makes me work hard!

My unfinished home improvement projects mean there’s a lot of work to do, but I love a challenge.  Once the inside projects are done (who am I kidding?), I’ll move on to outside projects.   I really need to stop watching DIY shows on television.

What are you looking forward to this spring and summer?

Let’s chat!

CC

Improving Customer Service

For years, I’ve experienced a decline in the level of service at my local grocers and restaurants.  Long gone are the grateful smiles when I enter a place of business.  No longer am I greeted and asked if I would like to receive help.  Eye contact?  What’s that?  Doing business has become such a painful experience, I stopped looking forward to it.  Welcoming smiles and helpfulness are more the exception than the rule. 

Well, instead of complaining about how horrible service has become without telling managment about my experience and giving them an opportunity to address my issues, I recently decided to go on a customer service survey completion campaign.  It’s quite easy!  I simply began visiting web sites that are printed at the bottom of most receipts and spend 5-10 minutes answering questions and providing feedback.  They ask for it, so I give it to them.  It’s a win-win  (if they are truly committed to changing).

One such submission of feedback recently garnered an immediate phone call asking what could be done to improve my shopping experience.  The response was so overwhelming, I couldn’t have written a more perfect script to describe it.

Today brought about new opportunities provide feedback.  I’m happy to report that of three stores I visited today, I had nothing but glowing feedback to provide to all three establishments.  All feedback does not need to be negative.  If associates in stores care enough to provide a great customer service experience, I can provide feedback directly to them – I can also tell store management on the spot, complete online survey requests, and send direct messages to their management and corporate.  Who wouldn’t want to be recognized for doing a great job?!

Do you have a good, bad, or ugly customer service story you’d like to share? 

Love to all!

CC

Spring Has Sprung!

In case you haven’t noticed, spring has sprung in many parts of the U.S.  While the incessant rain in the midwest portion of the country puts a damper (pun intended) on some of my dreams of outdoor activities and projects, I have found a lot of things for which to be grateful. 

Yesterday’s record-setting heat, accompanied by a day-long break from rain, brought a ton of members of my community to a local lake and park for walks, bike rides, boating, and kite flying.  The scene at the lake was what spring is made of and it was repeated all over the region.

I loved having my skin kissed by the sun.  I loved seeing couples enjoying lunch at park benches.  I loved seeing families enjoying one another’s company as they found a way to break the cabin fever after a long, cold, snowy, windy winter.

Although I suffer from allergies, I can’t complain one bit about the beautiful blooms that God designed for us to enjoy, or the shade that He knew we’d need provided by the majestic trees that He put before us.

The sound of birds chirping, children giggling as they paddled along the lake with their families, bicycles whizzing by, joggers’ feet pounding the pavement, and rollerblades gliding along the path all made for a symphony fit for the ears of a king.  Our King!  And He saw fit to share his symphony with me!

I am glad to be able to hear, see, feel, taste, and smell all that spring has to offer.

Spring has sprung and I’m ready for what the rest of the season has to offer.

Love to all!

CC

Southern Hospitality

The saying is that if you experience bad service, you tell ten friends and word spreads like wildfire, but how often do we share good service experiences?

On a recent extended trip to a southern state, my family and I visited countless establishments for purposes of rounding up groceries, purchasing gas, shopping for clothing, and partaking in many of the local activities.  One thing that stood out in each and every transaction was how incredibly NICE everyone was.  Considering that most of the people who helped us weren’t in tipped positions, I felt that they were genuinely pleasant people with whom to do business. 

I don’t get that kind of service in my current hometown, which is why I’ve added tons of businesses to my “do-not-shop” list.  If my checkout clerk or attendant  is bothered by my presence, I simply “help” him or her by refusing to spend more time and money in a way that would benefit them.  In other words, I don’t support bad attitudes and customer service with my hard-earned dollars.  I spend them where I feel appreciated.

In my experience, the shops and restaurants in my area can take a few customer service (and human-kind) pointers from our southern neighbors.

Thanks for the truly great customer service to my southern friends!  I look forward to seeing you again soon!

Do you have a story you’d like to share about great customer service?  Post it here!

Love to all!

CC

My Coupon Binder Is Ready!

I’ve always been a thrifty shopper, never wanting to pay full price for items, but my coupon personality was casual.  I loved getting free coupons in the mail.  I’d put them into my wallet-sized coupon organizer that was purchased from the bargain bin at my local superstore and try to use them on my frequent shopping trips.

My coupon personality changed about a week ago when I decided that it was finally time for me to kick my grocery savings efforts into high gear.  While on vacation, I stopped by the local office supply store to pick up a binder and a packet of baseball card dividers.  All that was left to do was to add some coupons.   Yahoo!  I had a few in my purse, but wanted to get the latest weekly passports to pay less than the store’s advertised pricing.  Husband and kids in tow, I made a quick stop at Walgreen’s on the way back to our vacation retreat and here’s what stopped my efforts dead in their tracks.

Me: “Do you have any copies of the Sunday paper left?”

Clerk: (bewildered look – no response)

Me: “You know, the Sunday paper that has the sales and coupon inserts…?”

Clerk: (continued bewildered look)

Me: (Pleadingly looking at nearby Clerk #2 for help and understanding) “Do you have the Sunday paper?” 

Clerk #2: (Looking as if I’d asked her for a solution to bring about world peace)  “No. It’s Monday.”

Me: (Finally understanding the crazy looks from Clerk #1 and Clerk #2) “Well, where I’m from, I can buy the Sunday paper on other days of the week”.

Clerk #1 or #2 (I don’t remember): “Oh, really?!” (Now, the forehead creases began to smooth at her apparent understanding of my question about wanting to buy a Sunday paper on *gasp!* Monday.

Me: “What do you do with unsold newspapers?  Throw them away?”

Clerk whatever number: “Yes.” 

Now, it was my turn to gasp!

 
Vacation lasted 10 days and 9 nights and I began to lose track of what day of the week it was.  After all, there’s no calendar or timetable needed for vacation.  During week #2 of vacation, I suddenly realized that we’d exhausted yet another vacation day relaxing, having fun, and totally forgetting about buying the Sunday paper.  Now, I’d have to wait until I was back at home to make my post-Sunday Sunday paper purchase. Finally, on Monday, during the long drive back home from our vacation oasis, I realized that day I’d freaked out about forgetting to purchase the paper in fact wasn’t Sunday at all, it was Saturday!  The sinking realization that I thought Saturday was Sunday and Sunday was Monday led to yet another week of couponing delay.  Confused yet?
 
Finally, on Tuesday (back at home), I walked into a store and asked where they kept their copies of this week’s Sunday paper. Wouldn’t you know I got the same bewildered look that I’d encountered a week earlier…states away?  So much for beginning my full-fledged savings campaign…
 
I resigned myself to inserting my existing coupons into the binder along with a couple dozen internet coupons that I managed to scrounge together. Better luck next week!
 
 
In the meantime, I’ve discovered coupon matches for this week’s sales at two of my favorite local grocers. I’m excited about being able to buy a 2-liter bottle of soda for 53¢ and match a few cereal coupons to some excellent sales.

Do you coupon?  If so, any tips for a new binder girl?

Love to all!

Get Ready! Get Set! Save!!!

If you haven’t heard about the new savings craze, brace yourself!  The next time you’re out shopping at the local grocer or pharmacy, see if you can spot a shopper armed with a binder.  A binder, you ask?  Why would anyone walk around carrying a binder while shopping?  The simple answer…couponing. 

Super savvy shoppers have found a way for stores to practically pay them for shopping by wisely tendering coupons at the register.  Couponing isn’t just about occasionally saving a few pennies here and there.  It’s a lifestyle. 

Couponers approach saving from a different perspective than most shoppers.  They don’t believe in paying asking price for grocery items, they pride themselves on matching coupons to sales cycles, and they stockpile goods for the long haul.  Couponers know price match policies and which stores will double – even triple – the face value of coupons.

I’ve long-considered myself a savvy shopper who knew about sales cycles and I could spot a good sale when I saw one.  A few times each year, I take such great advantage of sales at Kroger, that I leave feeling like I’ve robbed them!  I’ve been known to go crazy stocking up on $1.50 boxes of cereal and 25-cent cans of veggies in quantities that would sometimes draw stares from other shoppers.  I carry a coupon wallet in my purse and use targeted coupons that Kroger mails directly to me based on my previous shopping habits.  I’ve even loaded e-coupons onto my savings card and printed coupons from various online resources, but coupon queens put my shopping skills to shame with their ultra-keen savings strategies.

So, I’ve decided to embark on a couponing journey to learn as much as I can about the strategy and will try it on my very next trip to the grocery store and pharmacy.

I’ve already purchased a binder and dividers with inserts for coupons.  All that’s left is to gather and organize coupons, familiarize myself with store coupon policies, match my coupons to sales cycles, make my shopping list, put on my walking shoes, and save!  Sounds easy, huh?  We’ll see!

Wish me luck!

What couponing advice would you offer to an aspiring coupon queen?  Post your comments here!

Love to all!

CC

Activity Burnout

Our family of six is busy like most modern families.  Work, school, dance, scouts, church, friends, etc. all compete for the very limited resource of time.  We do most of our activities, because they are fun and bring us joy, but others things like work and school are simply necessary.

I don’t know if it’s just my family, or if others out there are going through the same thing, but we’re in desperate need of a break!  The cold, snowy (and lately) rainy winter doesn’t do much to help adjust our attitudes.

Thank goodness spring break is just around the corner.  Otherwise, we just might go stir crazy.  We’re looking forward to being unplugged from the usual rat race.  No office or home phones ringing.  Cell phones will be off or on silent.  Computer usage will be limited to getting ideas on where to go and what to do at our vacation destination.  Facebook is forbidden.  We plan to just relax and enjoy each other’s company.  Old school entertainment like board games will become the new norm for our vacation this year.  The low-tech board games, not the new ones. :-)

Lenten Season

Today is Ash Wednesday and I’m excited about the start of Lenten season.  For the first time ever, I’ve decided to give up something, but not for the sake of just giving up something.  I’m doing it in honor of the One who died on a cross to wash away my sins. 

Sacrificing something (which I will not discuss here) for such a great cause makes me feel great about what I’m doing and motivates me to not miss what will be sacrificed for a few weeks.  I may end up realizing that I don’t need it in my life after all!

I’m looking forward to spending my extra time getting more in touch with God by reading His word more often, studying devotionals, praying, and listening to what He has to say to me.

My church puts on a passion play this time of year.  (If you’ve never attended a passion play anywhere, I urge you to do so.  It might just change your life!)  I have tickets to see the production on Good Friday and I can’t wait to see it!  Hearing the story of Jesus is always a reminder about how great God’s love is for all of us…even those of us who feel that we’re too broken for Him.  God heals all wounds and accepts ALL of His children.

Get to know him this season!