Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Parents of the YEAR

There is an award at PBU that honors parents for their involvement in the PBU community and their child's life. I have entered my parents every year since freshman year. They finally won this year! This is the letter of nomination that I wrote:

A long time ago when the only dorms were in Penndel, when guys could not have facial hair, and when there was no walkway from chapel to the cafeteria, there was a skinny white boy from New York and a pretty girl from Pennsylvania. They were both youth group leaders at Davisville church, where one night the girl gave the boy a ride home to PBU. The boy was a gentleman and offered to carry the girl’s laundry up to her room. The rest is history. Twenty-two years later their first born and only girl is about to graduate from their alma mater to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher.
Cameron and Mary Garven have been married for almost twenty- four years, modeling the love of Christ through their marriage. They have put God first, their marriage second, and their children third. Their philosophy of parenting is to raise holy children, not happy children. Their four children, three boys and a girl, agree that as they got older the more independence they received. They were allowed to make choices and always knew that Mom and Dad were there to talk about the choices that did not go well. As they ventured through public school, becoming exposed to the sins of the world, their parents were right alongside of them to talk, encourage, and love each child. The eldest and only girl definitely had it the hardest being the guinea pig.
There were many different rules, but one thing that I really appreciated is that we were never forced to go to church. My dad was the youth pastor at Bible Fellowship Church for fifteen years, and I thought it was so cool to hangout with teenagers, so I loved going to church. My parents wanted us to discover that going to church, kids clubs, and youth group were enjoyable and beneficial. I made some great friends, mentors, and memories from being involved in our church. Another thing my parents promoted was serving together as a family. We have traveled all around the world on different missions trips to serve together as a family. It is an unforgettable experience when you can see your whole family put aside their selfish desires to come together for a week to serve others. The last rule that I was not so fond of in high school, but greatly appreciate now is no dating until college. As I look back I am so thankful that I did not give a piece of my heart away to some boy. All of these “rules” were very helpful in preparing me to become a student at PBU.
As I entered into PBU, I was presented with the first opportunity to live away from my parents and put into practice all they have taught me. I am so glad that my parents had encouraged me to get involved in youth group, sports, and school clubs during my teen years. It helped to prepare me as a leader. I was editor-in-chief of PBU’s yearbook, Milestone, for three years. I participated in soccer, softball, Alpha Chi Epsilon, tutoring, and teaching Sunday school. The independence that my parents allowed me to develop in my teen years was key in helping to developing me as a young adult at PBU. I had to learn how to manage my time, money, and friendships. Serving with my family helped me to appreciate all that God has blessed me with. It taught me to turn around and serve down in Philadelphia, to my friends, and in my student teaching placement in the Dominican Republic. I now feel even more prepared to graduate from PBU and enter into the real world.
I have had the privilege of living close to PBU. This has given my family the chance to get involved in the lives of many of my friends. My parents have graciously opened our home to students for dinner, provided a place to have birthday parties, and offered a place to stay during J-term or summer classes. A friend who stayed over last summer ended up eating dinner with just my parents one night and still talks about how much fun she had chatting with them. My parents have also gotten to know students who have attended or served at our church. I am glad that my house has become my friend’s home away from home.
Cam and Mary Garven have transitioned from my parents into my friends, who I can laugh with, talk to, and hangout with. I am so thankful that they diligently sought God’s help as they parented my brothers and I. 

I am so thankful for your investment in my life as I prepare to go invest into my future student's life. I LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


As you know, I am not a big "couponer" but my friend Deb is and has a lot of success with it. I asked her to write a piece about it - yes, I am that BIG now that I have writers :) Enjoy and thanks Deb!!! Once you read it make sure you leave some awesome comments since that is the only payment Deb is getting

I am a fan of clipping coupons.   I am a fan of finding things on sale and getting the lowest price possible.  I currently only receive one Sunday newspaper subscription, but do see the value in getting more than one solely for coupons.  I have not seen the Extreme Couponing show, but I would probably be intimidated by it.  I have, however, found a way that using coupons fits into my schedule and makes sense.  For example, this week at CVS I bought a razor with 5 refills (regularly priced $9.99), and a razor with 3 refills (regularly priced $8.99).  I paid $1.50!  On the bottom of my CVS receipt this week, it showed that so far this year I have saved $240 and spent $29.  At RiteAid this week, I bought 2 boxes (8 count) of Pop-Tarts, two Glade Air fresheners, and two bags of M and M’s.  I paid $3.60 and left with $1.80 to spend next week.  So, I will try to briefly explain my plan of attack.

1.  I do my usual food shopping at Wal-Mart.  So, I have a list printed out of the items that I regularly like to have.  Over time, I have recorded the prices at Wal-Mart for those foods.  So, when I look at the CVS and Rite-Aid weekly advertisements, I know what the Wal-mart price is. 
2.  I have chosen to shop at Rite-Aid and CVS because they are located close to each other and it is manageable for me to be able to figure out the sales at these two stores.  I know that more “extreme” couponers will go to more stores (Target, Walgreens, etc.)  but, two additional stores works for me.  Both of these stores have a free “card” which allows me to receive the sale prices.  Also, the advertisements will mention getting “bucks” back.  This comes in the form of a code on the receipt and can be used for my purchases in the next couple of weeks.  They do have an expiration date, so I am careful to watch so that the “free” money isn’t wasted.  Each week when I go to these stores, I use the “bucks” from the previous week and so I am paying very little cash now. 
3.  When I am deciding what to buy, I consider the sale price, the “bucks” back and the coupons that I have.  All three must factor into a great sale price. 
3.  I do look at a website,  This website lists all the great sales at each store each week.  (Some of the prices can be regional, but I rarely have a problem.)  Also, it will tell what coupons to use from the paper and where to find more coupons online.  It did take me several weeks to figure out how to sift through for the information I could use, but I do believe it is a very useful website.  I check it out regularly for the coupons and sales.

I don’t have a huge stockpile, but I have slowly built enough of a stash of certain items (mostly hygiene and cleaning items) that I now wait for the great sales and pay very little, or get things for free.  I have learned that I can get toothpaste, deodorant, razors, toothbrushes, and body wash for under a dollar or free.  For me, that makes sense! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

You Are Just Like Your Mother... and other things I wish were true!

Maybe you read my title and got the wrong idea - people say that phrase as an insult, but in reality there is no other person I would want to be like.

Before I tell you why, I want to tell you a little bit about my mother - in - law.

Eileen did not have an easy life, a difficult father, mentally challenged sister who had to be institutionalized and an older sister who was killed by a drunk driver when she was 18. When her dad died, she was only in High School but attended school and worked a job to help support her mom and sister. She became a Christian during this time, but found it hard to share her faith with her Mom. She longed to be a wife and mother but didn't get married until she was 33. After her three sons were born (the middle one being the best!) and she was busy raising them while caring for an aging mother, her husband developed diabetes and had many complications from it. She was married just 20 years when she woke to her husband dead in their bed. Cam was just 16 years old. She had 3 boys, no husband, a high school diploma - jobs were hard to come by. But work she did - cleaning schools, selling pizzas, cashier at a bookstore - anything to provide for her family. And by doing all this she raised 3 sons who are responsible, loving, Christian men. I loved my mother-in-law!

But no one can replace your own Mom. I tell myself that all the time with 3 boys, I am glad I have a daughter!!!

My Mom was the most practical, patient, tender-hearted, giving person I have ever known - any good trait I have, it is because of my Mom. I always wanted to be just like her. One day she dropped me off at Kindergarten, I entered the school and quickly walked down the hall and out the side door - so as she was pulling out of the parking lot, there I was ready to go back home with her! She had 4 kids (the 2nd one being the best!), worked full time as a nurse, kept a beautiful house, was a tremendous cook and crafter, a great friend and wife - but I remember her most as a mom. She made you feel like you were the most important person alive and that you could do anything. Her selflessness is a great reminder to me how God wants us to be. And speaking of God - she became a Christian at the age of 55 - she was the perfect example of how you can't be good enough to get to heaven - if Sallie wasn't going to heaven without Jesus, then nobody was!

Years ago my sister-in-law asked her to speak at MOPS about her secret to being a good wife and mother - today I share with you some of her notes:

"Dinner - important to have dinner together. Time to regroup and share what has happen in your day. It should be a pleasant time - don't tell Dad all the bad news of the day. Encourage your kids to invite their friends. Try not to feed the kids before husband gets home. Have kids eat a little of everything. Have the baby sit at the table - grind up dinner to feed to him - that will lead into table food. Take turns saying the blessing - we like to hold hands.

Table - make an attractive table - centerpiece, tablecloth, candles, don't be afraid to use your good dishes. Use serving bowls - don't serve from your pots and pans. Come to the table dressed - boys should wear shirts. This is a good time to teach table manners - thank yous, please, ask to be excused.

Morning Person - decide on dinner while cleaning up the breakfast dishes. The longer you wait the fewer choices you have and eating out is expensive. Casseroles are easy and allow you to have a break before dinner - since it is in the oven cooking. Clean up as you go - empty the dishwasher as soon as it is done. Make sure it is empty before a dinner party. Making lists help you accomplish more in your day.

Cleaning - I don't have a spotless house, I just keep it picked up and everything has a place. - remember - keeping up is easier than catching up. As soon as dinner is done, clean up the dishes, then you have the rest of the evening to relax.

Children - get children involved in housework - you don't do them any favors by doing everything for them. At times I felt guilty for working, but I raised children who can cook and clean for themselves. Praise children as they work.

Grocery Shopping - Keep a running list, check the ads, shop on a full stomach. I use coupons, but a bargain isn't a bargain unless you need it. Buy in bulk if you have a place to store it. When making a meal double it and freeze the 2nd one. Have a leftover night - have everyone make up their own plate and microwave it.

Dinner Parties - make lists, make things ahead of time. If friends offer to make something, let them. If you take a dish to a friends hosue, make sure it is ready to serve. Set out dishes before a party and put a label as to what will be in it - makes set up easier. Include children in setting up, name cards, etc.

Parting words - Hope some of these tips have helped you. Remember, it should be a family time, a sharing time, and a time your children will remember when they have children of their own."

Just typing up my Mom's words make me miss her all the more - her words were tried and true.  I am so blessed to have had such a wonderful example - I hope when people see me, they think - "you are just like your mother "- she was the first one to make cents and sensibility!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal Wedding/Loyal Marriage

I knew the "big" wedding was coming but I was only mildly interested. I remembered watching Charles and Diana's wedding with my mom when I was in high school, but like everyone else was disappointed with the demise of their relationship. The new wedding became a hot topic at school with TiVo parties, early morning viewing and a request for us to wear tiaras to Goodie Day. So as I got ready that morning I tuned in - I was hooked immediately! The pomp, the circumstances, it was beautiful!! Then when I got to school, we streamed it on the computer before the kids arrived - one of our only male teachers walked by and asked if it was the NFL draft - silly man!!

By the time I got home from school, I was checking any TV station that was replaying the big event as well as watching Kate and Will's background stories.

Who doesn't love a good love story.... get ready for another....

It's my anniversary - 24 years! And as beautiful as my wedding was, anyone who has been married longer than 10 minutes will tell you it's not about the wedding but about the marriage. My dear friend Laureen is planning her wedding - but more importantly she keeps telling me, she is planning her marriage - smart girl! You can hire a wedding planner for the special day, but you and your spouse need to do the hard work of living out those marriage vows.

One thing that Kate and I had in common (besides all the obvious things) is that we had the same passage from 1 Corinthians 13 read at our weddings. Those words have been the backbone of our marriage. Read along with me.

Love is patient - I chose Cam for who he is, not for who I can turn him into.

Love is kind - I need to treat Cam better than I treat a friend, a  child or myself

Love is not jealous - Cam needs time to do his own things and I need to give him that freedom and you know what, he is much more interesting when we come back together

Love does not brag - It's not a competition between us - try to be the first to give the compliment, not expecting anything in return

Love is not arrogant - I chose him, he chose me and respect for each other speaks volumes!

Love does not act unbecomingly - we try never to fight in public - if something is wrong, we save it for when we are alone

Love does not seek its own - we are partners, not a solo act. I owe it to Cam to include him in any decision, opportunity, adventure

Love is not provoked - there is a little bit of truth in every jest. I need to build Cam up whenever I have the chance, not make him the butt of my jokes

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered - I must forgive and try my best to forget. If I keep a scorecard in my back pocket I will never fully love Cam

Love rejoices in the truth - Speaking the hard things to each other in love can be a blessing

Love bears all things - life is not always easy, but if we know we are there to uphold each other, it makes the hard times easier

Love believes all things - having the same faith has been the biggest strength of our marriage

Love hopes all things - letting each other talk, dream, plan without judgement builds each other up

Love endures all things - we make mistakes, we are rude, we yell,we disagree, we get mad, but at the end of the day, we come back together and remember why we got married in the first place

Love never fails - weddings fail, but marriages built on selfless love will hold strong and the best example of a selfless love is God's example to the world

Thanks for rejoicing with me today - I may not have had a Royal Wedding, but with God's grace, I am enjoying a Loyal Marriage.

p.s. and if you haven't found that special someone - remember - it is better to be single, than wish you were :)