The Porn Struggle

For the past year, I have struggled with the issue of pornography. Recently God spoke to me through the reading of Galatians 5, and I feel He is leading me to share this with anyone else out there who has struggled with this problem or is currently struggling. I pray this helps lead others deeper into the path of freedom through Christ.

 

Galatians 5

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

 

Break this addiction because you are free! You don’t need to be a slave to your body anymore – the Lord is the Master, and He grants you the power – His power – to not give in!

 

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

 

Break this addiction because you love God and you have faith that His power is strong enough to help you. Focus sharply on your love for Him. Express that love through faithful obedience and surrender.

 

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the One who calls you…. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay, whoever he may be.”

 

Break this addiction because you want to run a good race and get back on the path of obeying truth. God has called you to so much more. And take heart that justice will always prevail, in the end.

 

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

 

Break this addiction because it is sinful nature; you want to live in godly nature. This verse also speaks to the fact that we are all connected. Indulging in sinful nature is not serving one another in love. There is a second option. Take it.

 

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…. [I]f you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”

 

Break this addiction by living by the Holy Spirit. Spend time with the Lord, worship Him, read His word, fill yourself with truth and love that overflows, and you will not give satisfaction to the desires of your sinful nature.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.”

 

Don’t focus solely on putting off sin. Focus also on putting on righteousness. The two are so deeply intertwined that you cannot achieve one without the other.

 

Finally, remember, “[t]hose who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

 

Break this addiction because it is not you anymore – in fact, it never was. God has always had bigger plans for you. You live by the Spirit, not by flesh, and “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, and the new has come.”

Believe it, accept it, and live by it.

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How I Save

 

One of my newly discovered favorite hobbies is couponing! I wanted to share some tips from my many hours of searching for ways to save money using coupons, online reward systems, and rebate apps. Here are the 5 biggest money saving techniques I use and how I use them. Enjoy 🙂

 

Sunday Coupons

Every Sunday I get as many copies of the Sunday paper as possible. Right now, I get about three copies per week. One I get delivered to my house, one from my husband’s company, and one from my Grandpa’s house (usually from the week before, after he’s done with the paper). It’s always best to get your hands on as many copies of coupons as possible, because if you find a great deal, such as an item that ends up being free, you want to be able to stock up on as many of that item as possible. Don’t go overboard, though, because coupons and sales will be back eventually. It’s a good rule of thumb to get enough to last you at least six months.

 

The best way to save with Sunday morning coupons is to match them with other sales/deals/rebates. For example, I will layout one of the best deals I’ve gotten since I began couponing.

Usually I get Suave body wash for about $1.88 for 12 ounces. It’s a relatively good product, but I’ve found that Dove is much better. It smells better, it moisturizes better, and you don’t have to use as much of it because it’s better quality. I found a coupon in the Sunday paper for $1.00 off Dove body wash. At Target, Dove body wash twin packs were on sale for $7.00 each. Generally Dove body wash is about 5 dollars each for one, so that’s already a good deal. In addition to that deal, Target was running a special that if you buy two Dove twin packs, you get a $5.00 gift card back. This deal combined with coupon made me able to get 4 Dove body washes (24 ounces each) for $8.00 total, which boils down to $2.00 each, making it only a fraction more than the Suave. So you’re getting twice as much of a better product for only 12 cents more. (It’s worth mentioning that if I had multiple copies of that Sunday paper, I could have saved an extra dollar by using two separate manufacturer $1.00 off coupons, one for each twin pack, making the grand total of each Dove 24 oz. body wash actually less than the Suave 12 oz.)

 

Rebate Apps

Another way that I save, primarily on groceries and toiletries, is by using rebate apps on my iPhone. Again, you get the most out of your savings if you pair the rebates up with other coupons and sales. The three rebate apps that I use are as follows:

 

Checkout 51 – This app has many deals that can be redeemed at any store. You just buy the product, submit your receipt, and receive your rebate. The only negative I have found with Checkout 51 is that you can only cash out your rebates once you hit $20. After you hit $20, they send you a check in the mail.

 

Shopmium – Shopmium isn’t quite on par with Checkout 51 and Ibotta, in my opinion. There aren’t as many deals and they don’t recycle as often. It will be several weeks before you get new products available on Shopmium, and you cannot receive a rebate for the same item more than once. It does, however, transfer the amount of your rebate to your PayPal account immediately, which is a huge advantage over Checkout 51.

 

Ibotta – Ibotta is the only one of my three apps that specifies which store you have to buy an item from. There will be different deals available for various participating stores, including Walmart, Target, Winco, Safeway, and many others. (Ibotta does also offer rebates for things other than groceries, such as clothing, but I generally don’t take advantage of those offers.) Ibotta works the same as any other rebate app – you buy the product, submit your receipt, and receive your rebate. As far as how fast you get your rebate, Ibotta is sort of in between Shopmium and Checkout 51. Once you hit $5, you can transfer your money to your PayPal account.

 

Target Cartwheel

Target Cartwheel is one of my favorite apps to use because generally coupons and rebates are only applicable to name-brand products, which are already slightly more expensive than the generic brands. The best thing about Cartwheel is that it is Target’s app, which means many of the items on the app are Target’s brand, which is already cheaper than most name brands. When using Cartwheel, I search the products for things I have coupons for or that I know are on good sales. Once you find items you want to save on, you add them to your list (which can hold up to 16 items at a time). Then, before you pay at the store, you have the cashier scan the barcode on your phone. (If you don’t have a smartphone, this is all available online as well, and you can print your barcode before heading out to shop.)

 

Reward Systems

The reward systems I use are basically all relatively similar, so I will lump them together.

 

Shopkick is an app on your phone that gives you points to walk into certain stores and to scan certain items at those stores. I got over 800 points today, just visiting a few stores and scanning a few items. The best thing about this app is that you get points just for walking into the store! You don’t have to go out of your way. If you’re at Target, open your Shopkick app and you’ll get points simply for being there. After a while, you can redeem your points for various available rewards.

 

Bing Rewards is another easy system to use. Simply set Bing up as your primary search engine, and you will get one point for each search you make. The only downside is that the rewards aren’t very high value (mostly gift cards, up to $5). But, hey, it’s something!

 

Points2Shop and MyPoints are both websites in which you can register, fill out surveys, respond to emails, and do various other tasks to get points and receive rewards.

 

Last but not least… Websites

Obviously (or maybe not, if you haven’t heard) you can get online coupons directly from the store websites (target.com, walmart.com, ect.). These are great because they can be used in combination with manufacturer’s coupons. For example, if you have a manufacturer’s coupon for one dollar off a bottle of Tide laundry detergent, you can use a similar Target coupon on the same item. Manufacturer’s coupons can only be used one per item, so it’s good to try to stack them with the store coupons, since you can use them together.

My two other favorite websites to visit for couponing or just scoring good deals are TheKrazyCouponLady.com and raininghotcoupons.com. Both of these sites provide a lot of great information, such as what deals are currently going on in stores, what coupons you can find to match up, freebies you can find in stores and online, and many other great tips for saving money!

 

 

So, basically, this has been life for the past few months. I always love to save money in any way I can, and I’m so excited about all of the new ways I’ve found to do that. I couldn’t help but share it with all of you! I hope you’ve learned a little bit and been able to see that you don’t have to spend 40 hours a week on a couponing career, like the people on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” in order to get fantastic deals and help save money for your family

 

Gentleness is Courageous

Recently I have been struck by how increasingly negative our society has become. The anonymity and informality of online communication allows us to say things to people that we would never say to their face. Now there is a time and a place for that kind of increased confidence, such as providing an avenue for introverts to invest in friendships that might otherwise have not developed, but aside from a few exceptions, I believe the internet has created an unhealthy interpretation of “freedom of speech” that can lead to serious issues in our society.

 

Cyber bullying has become a widely discussed issue in recent years, and I believe this entire issue can be traced back to that same false idea that words read from a screen have no effect, or less of an effect, on the person reading those words than if they had been spoken aloud. In my eyes, the issue of cyber bullying is not just about cruel people who continuously ridicule their peers in a harsh way that leads to serious emotional damage or even, in the worst cases, suicide. The phrase “cyber bullying,” to me, can be applied to even the smallest cases of taking joking (or what internet-savvy teens would call “trolling”) one step too far. Many things need to be considered when teasing people over the internet.

 

Firstly, remember that sarcasm doesn’t always translate over text. Everyone knows it is difficult to convey tone through the written word. This can lead to hurt feelings or worse. Secondly, you have to consider your REAL LIFE relationship with the person with which you are speaking. For example, if you wouldn’t make an inappropriate remark about someone’s appearance in the workplace, because such a comment would border on sexual harassment, don’t make the same comment to your boss via social media. There is a time and a place for jokes, but the relationship stays the same regardless of venue. Thirdly, and I believe absolutely most importantly, please, please, think before you type. More specifically, think about the comment you are about to make and whether or not you would make that same comment if the person was standing right in front of you. Would you shy away from such a comment to avoid conflict? If so, why are you inviting conflict into your relationship online? Would you keep these thoughts to yourself because you’re afraid it would hurt their feelings? If so, realize that just because you can’t see them and might not have to deal with the consequences of your rudeness, they will still be hurt. On one of my favorite shows, “How I Met Your Mother,” Ted describes breaking up with a girl over the phone because he didn’t want to see her cry, to which his friend Lily replies, “Well, guess what. She cried. You just didn’t have the sack to face those tears.” Words can hurt whether or not you stick around long enough to see the outcome.

 

These are not thoughts directed at anybody in particular, but simply musings on a topic I feel passionately about. It bothers me that people say things online that they would never say in “reality,” all the while forgetting that reality doesn’t stop when you turn on your computer. There is, however, a way everyone can help change this. Aside from the obvious advice I’ve already given (thinking before you type, realizing the complications involved in internet conversations, etc.), I would love to see positive people changing the whole spirit of the media (and the “real” world, as well) by going above and beyond these simple precautions. I have decided that once a week, I will publicly (via Facebook) encourage one person in any way I choose. Sure, I could do this privately, just to make someone’s day a little more pleasant, but I think there is something important about making a public statement of encouragement and love for everyone to see. Not only will it effect the person being encouraged, but it it may even bring a smile to the face of a stranger, simply by witnessing a rare act of selfless, unreciprocated kindness. We’ve all heard “pay it forward” stories, and this is such a simple way to initiate this positive behavior. It only takes a moment of your time to extend an encouraging word to someone you care for, and it could create an amazing ripple effect.

 

So, to conclude, I would like to encourage you all to encourage others, in whatever way possible. In the beginning of this post I mentioned freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing our country has to offer, but it was largely created for protection from persecution. It is not something to be abused or taken lightly. Use your freedom wisely by choosing to spread love and encouragement with your speech. When you step into the grocery store after a long day of exhausting work, take a moment to remember that the cashiers have had just as long a day as you have. Give them a smile, a kind word, or a “great job.” When you see someone having a tough day, even if you have no idea what’s going on in their life, let them know they’re in your thoughts or prayers. Take a little lesson from the seven dwarfs and whistle while you work (or, if you’re like me and can’t whistle, a simple smile will do) because attitude, whether good or bad, is contagious. When you encounter trials, remember that life is huge, and your hardship is just a moment. Your trials may just be those classic “third world problems” like losing your wifi connection, or they may be serious burdens on your heart, but I guarantee there is someone out there suffering more than you and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel may be. Don’t let the little things (or even the big ones) steal your joy. You can be sad. You can be hurt. You can be angry. But above all of those things, in the midst of them, even, be joyful. And take heart! For Christ has overcome the hurts and trials of this world, and He is right there beside you, guiding you through each and every one.

 

I hope to remind you all that you don’t have to donate thousands of dollars to charity in order to make a difference in the world. “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Start stepping in the right direction in your everyday life, in your community, in your family, and even simply within yourself.

 

Cheers to creating a kinder world.

A Writer’s Best Friend

I’ve been told that blogging is a writer’s best friend. For months I have been treating it more like my worst enemy. Now I think it would be safe to say we have reached “frenemy” status. That’s how the best friendships usually start, right?

My issue with blogging is the pressure I fear I will put on myself to succeed in the blogging world. Being that I’ve lived with myself for almost 21 years, I know myself pretty well. I know that when I put my mind on something, I go all out. I’m not the kind of person who can be satisfied donating $20 dollars to my favorite charity. I have to organize the perfect fund-raising event, gather together volunteers and sponsors to support my cause, and there’s more than a 50% chance that I will decide to make “event planning” or “professional charity organization” my life-time career. For that reason, blogging has always been an intimidating idea to me. I love writing, so if I’m going to do it, I want to try my best to do it right. I want to be wholly satisfied with the piece I create before I hit that “post” button. And as a Blogger, I feel I am expected to add to my blog at regular intervals (i.e. once a week, daily, etc.), and with my busy schedule, that is just too much pressure. Not to mention the fact that the best blogs I’ve ever read had specific content themes (such as my favorite blog, TheKrazyCouponLady.com), and I simply have too many interests to choose from on that front. So long story short, I’m taking this whole blogging thing slowly.

My frenemy and I need some time to get to know each other before we can reach bestie status. I’m not making any promises, but I am going to give this friendship a chance. I hope those of you reading will continue to enjoy this journey with me.

I’ll see you again tomorrow… or, in other words, whenever I decide I want to write something and share it with the world.