Sunday, December 20, 2009

West Africa 2007 - Part 4

To view images of this trip go here to Mission Field Images

Rachel: Marlin Dale You're Killing Me Here!!!! Then What???

Dale: So I lined up the well and took the photograph, when the mirror dropped back into place, right in front of me was this big red demonic witch doctor. I flinched and quickly ripped the next frame. I didn’t know whether or not he heard my shutter, if it was in focus or if the exposure was set properly.

When he saw me, his pace began to quicken, he began to wave the machetes violently, I just knew we were going to collide on this narrow trail. Then to my right and behind me I heard a voice say “Dale, lower your camera” I immediately lowered my camera to my side and stepped off the trail into the weeds. As he approached me, I could not see his eyes but I knew I was in the presence of pure evil. I could feel him glaring at me and at the last step he turned and walked around me.

Oh Man, I felt like Barney Fife blowing a big sigh of relief after a confrontation. I just had to look down to make sure my system did not involuntarily void itself before I moved out of the weeds. I turned to see who told me to lower my camera; it was our translator who followed me up the trail. The only problem was, he didn’t speak English. I had just once again experienced the true meaning of 1John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”.

Martin Luther said, “Christ does not live in the trees or rocks, nor does He live in the bones of dead saints, He resides in the hearts of each and every one of the believers.”

Tomorrow we will celebrate the Birth of Christ, the Hope of our Salvation and in a few short months we will celebrate once again, but this time it will be the Proof of his Love for Us, How can we not serve him?

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

West Africa 2007 - Part 3

To view images of this trip go here to visit Mission Field Images

Dale: The missionary having grown up in this village, turned white and fear filled his eyes. He told me to hide my cameras and just sit still. As I put my cameras in the case, the young men off to my right jumped up and ran out of the village screaming. Then from my peripheral vision, coming towards me I saw this thing, wearing a bright red string like outfit, much like the dilly suits snipers wear. Covered from head to toe and banging two machetes together, it entered the village center. The crack of metal on metal emptied the village and sent a chill down my spine.

As this evil entity moved into the village, you could feel the temperature drop, almost freezing in place those who did not posses the ability run. As we sat there silently, I began to battle internally. I wanted desperately to grab my camera and run this thing down, but at the same time I could not do anything that would, in one selfish act, completely destroy the relationships that took over forty years to develop. I began to wonder why God would put this in front of me yet, not allow me to photograph this very important element of this primitive culture, was this a test of obedience?

Eventually this thing moved on and the villagers began to return, but by then their adrenaline was so high anything natural was completely lost. I looked over at the missionary, he was visually shaken, he hadn’t seen this thing since he witnessed it beating up one of the villagers some twenty years ago.

We had about thirty minutes of light left and the missionary wanted to take me down by the river to see if any there were any activity with the fishermen. We shot there for about fifteen minutes and then we were on our way. As we were leaving the trail by the river, we stopped by the home of a former house keeper of his family, which waved us down earlier. When we approached the front of the house we could see the fear in their eyes and they were locked in their home looking out this window type opening, this thing had returned and was in the area.

I went back to the vehicle and grabbed my camera; the missionary just looked at me, perplexed by the fact that I grabbed my camera. I asked him if he wanted an image of this entity. Shaking his head with a smirk on his face, he said if I could take the shot without upsetting our translator or the other villagers, go ahead, but, he said, just be aware this thing is completely unpredictable and he might attack you, I just smiled back and said, I understand.

The missionary began to carry on a conversation and I was introduced to the family. After a few minutes I began to wander around taking photographs. I walked around to the side of the house and noticed there was a trail, walking up the trail I came across a well. As the light began to fade the well took on a unique look.

When you look through the lens of a camera, the image is upside down and backwards, through a series of mirrors and prisms the image is inverted back to it’s normal configuration, however, when you depress the shutter button, the view finder goes black and you cannot see anything until the mirror drops back into position. So I lined up the well and took the photograph, when the mirror dropped back into place…

Have to run, check back later for the…continuation.

Friday, December 18, 2009

West Africa 2007 - Part 2

To view images of this trip go here to visit Mission Field Images

Rachel: Then What, What???

Dale: Oh, the story. Where was I? Oh, now I remember...

The in country missionary that was to pick me up was delayed by all the construction for the Islamic Summit coming to Dakar in 08. As I’m trying to keep all my luggage secure, my wallet and passport in my pocket and in the midst of the onslaught, I prayed for guidance….yeah, who am I fooling, I was praying GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE!!! And then, in the middle of all this chaos, a circle began to open up. The circle grew to about 50 feet in diameter and when I saw the opening, I quickly moved into the center.

Once in the middle, the noise began to decrease and I began to feel an overwhelming sense of peace. Exhausted, disheveled and not knowing what was going to happen next, the lines from an old hymn began to creep into my conscience:

“Under His wings I am safely abiding;Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me;he has redeemed me, and I am His child.”

As soon as I started to hum this old tune, I realized what had just taken place. I knew God had sent me here for a reason and He wouldn’t abandon me now, so I just waited, I just waited in the center of His circle.

It may have been only a few minutes, I’m not quite sure, but soon I saw the other white guy walking around the airport parking lot, I thought…maybe he’s looking for me? So I hollered at him, he smiled and apologized for being late and we were on our way.

Over the next few days the missionaries were getting more and more frustrated in the fact that every village they had planned to take me into was one by one being closed. Having been through this just a few weeks prior, I explained to them to just relax, let God direct us to the villages he wants me in and do not give Satan the satisfaction of defeating our purpose. One of the friends of a missionary who had helped him a few years ago said that he would take us to his village and would allow me to photograph his family. We spent the better part of an afternoon with his family and came away with some pretty nice images, but I could tell that this was going to be a small part of the story.

The more I experience I get with these primitive cultures, one thing always remains the same, Satan’s playbook. From the SaterĂ©-Maue Indians of the Amazon, to the Tarahumara tribes in Mexico, to the Villages of Africa, the spirit world dominates their belief system. Spirits are in the trees, grass, rocks, animals and everything thing else good, evil or unexplainable is related to the spirit world.

Close to the end of my first week there, we went to a village about twelve hours away. We arrived around noon and immediately went to work. I shot until dark and then we went back into town to download my cards and stay the night. At first light we were back in the village, late in the afternoon the missionary asked me if there was anything else I need to capture before we left. I told him I just wanted to sit in the village center and just photograph people doing what they normally do as if I was not even there.

When we came to the center of the village some old men were about to start drinking a round of tea, a group of younger men were playing a card game. The kids were doing what kids do and the women were getting ready for the evening meal. The older men asked us to join them; I positioned myself as to have a great advantage to capture the whole environment from one position. Just a few minutes into the conversation of how the day was going, from behind me a group of people came running and crying as if they had just seen a ghost. The missionary having grown up in this village, turned white and fear filled his eyes. He told me to hide my cameras and just sit still. As I put my cameras in the case, the young men off to my right jumped up and ran out of the village screaming. Then out of my peripheral vision coming towards me I saw….

To be continued…

Thursday, December 17, 2009

West Africa 2007 - Part 1

My brother Dale sent this Christmas letter to us in 2007. He sent it to us in segments and had me hooked for a week. With his permission I though you might like to read it too but be warned, I am going to give it to you just like he gave it to me and trust me you don't want to miss out on the ending! You can see his work and photos from this trip here at Mission Field Images (click on Index then Africa).

West Africa 2007

Leaving for a couple of weeks is always difficult, the day before departure I’m always trying to pack, some clients are needing last minute images, the church magazine is needing images shot and delivered the same day. As I was leaving the house for the airport, I hit the send button on the last zipped folder of images after working through the night.

Needless to say when I arrived in West Africa I was pretty exhausted. Having only slept three or four hours over three days may have lead to three critical security mistakes I made once retrieving luggage. I carry my camera case and my computer on the plane and check in my other bags. The first mistake was in letting the porter grab my camera case and my clothing duffel bag and run off in front of me, heading to the x-ray machine.

Next mistake was not getting the proper currency before leaving the US in which to tip the porter. When the luggage came out of the machine, he once again grabbed my bags and took me out to an area where large groups of taxi drivers are waiting for arriving customers. Being dragged out to an area of about three hundred people all asking you for money, a taxi ride, use of a cell phone and not taking No for an answer, led to the last mistake. By not taking the proper money and putting it in my front pocket, I pulled my wallet to tip the porter, which is like blood in the water for feeding sharks, I was immediately swarmed and cornered.

The in country missionary that was to pick me up was delayed by all the construction for the upcoming Islamic Summit coming to Dakar in 08. As I’m trying to keep all my luggage secure, my wallet and passport in my pocket and in the midst of the onslaught, I prayed for guidance….yeah, who am I fooling, I was praying GET ME THE HECK OUT OF HERE!!! And then, in the middle of all this chaos…

To be continued,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No Matter What

Today was a tough day. It stared with my Dad being admitted into the hospital for abdominal pain. Seeing a loved one in pain and knowing there is nothing you can do is hard. The boys were upset that Grandpa had to go to the hospital and leaving them home to take Grandpa to the hospital is always hard because they are sad and I can't be there to comfort them too. They carry a lot for 8 and 14 year old boys but God is using all this in there lives to shape and mold them into the men He would have them become. Mid-day I received a phone call that a 6th grader in my sisters church was found dead, an apparent suicide. My heart broke for the parents and little sister left today without a son and brother. My mind began to reflect upon the Christmas gifts that were under their tree, the Christmas photos that had been taken, the plans that were made for recitals, the song "Its the most wonderful time of the year" that they will never sing again and my heart broke. Earlier this week I was asking "why" about other issues that arouse in our lives and I had to remember the answer is not always there, we just have to have faith and leave it in God's unwavering hands. Later in the day more details began to emerge about this young man and it was apparent, life became overwhelming for him. He was in trouble at a school, got in a fight with a friend, he thought he lost an $800 instrument (which turned out some kids hid it), he ran away from home and at the tender age of 12 it became to much for him to deal with on his own. I'm sure the pain was to much to bear and the reasoning skills were just not developed. The more I heard the details of this young man's life I began to think, these were just minor things, why did he take such drastic measures? As I was reflecting on what this family must be going through, I began to think about our boys and how thankful I am for them, but I had to ask myself the question; would they feel any different had they been placed in this situation? This young man was raised in a Christian home, he attended a Christian school, he had Christian friends, he attend church, he memorized Bible verses, he went to Sunday School. Then I began to remember back when I was a child and how the smallest mistake would feel like a major ordeal. When we say "drama" about our kids, it is drama because coping skills that are not fully developed. I began thinking about our boys and this evening when I came home from the hospital I swat them down and had a talk with them. I told them the story of this young man and they were in shock at the outcome. God opened the door for me to tell the boys no matter what happens in life Dad and Mom will always love you and we will always be there to support you. We talked about how often when things happen in life they're not as big in reality as they are in your imagination and I referred to the fear of pulling out a splinter, its always worse in your mind then in reality. I reassured them that there is never anything they can't talk with us about. We talked about how we did not know this young man personally but his reaction has not only devastated his parents, family and friends lives but it has affected our lives too. We've told the kids no matter what, we will always love you but this evening it hit home with them. I told them no matter what we will always help you through a situation. No matter what, you can always come to us and we will listen and help you come up with a plan to resolve the problem. Often we think of talking to older kids like this but today this showed me its never to early to tell your children these words. We really work hard on communication but this evening I wanted to drill it into their hearts and minds that no matter what, they can come to us and tell us their problems, their joy, their ambitions, their fears and we will always listen. It was not a fun, fluffy, Christmas story but one that I hope will impact them for years to come. We're going to dedicate two ornaments (one for each of our boys) on our tree to this young man this year and ever year when we pull it out we will be reminded of this story and we will remind them each year how much we love them and how we will always be there no matter what, and when they are grown, and they get their ornaments for their own tree, they can share this story with their children and tell them, No Matter What, We Will Always Love You.

I Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

photo by Dale Stroud at Mission Field Images

Barnes & Noble Coupon

Wow! More Barnes & Noble Coupons! Go here to print 3 great coupons!

JCPenney Coupon

Go here for a $10 0ff $50 coupon at JCPenney! Its good December 7 - January 17! That will be good for some of those after Christmas sales! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Papa Murphy's Pizza!!!


Did you know we're getting a Papa Murphy's? Yep, on St James next to the new Dunkin Donuts. My little sister lives in MN talks about this pizza place all the time. Its a take and bake pizza that her family loves! I am excited to try it and will look forward to our grand opening!

What is Papa Murphy's?

Handmade fresh.Choose your favorite Papa Murphy's pizza or create your own custom pizza get exactly what you want. Then we'll make your pizza fresh right before your eyes with the finest ingredients.

Home baked great.You take your pizza home and bake it in your oven whenever you are ready. Every Take 'N' Bake pizza from Papa Murphy's is always served piping hot and delicious. It doesn't get any easier!

Now are you excited to try some? I know we are looking forward to trying a slice of the 5lb stuffed Chicago Style Pizza! Yummy!!!

If you already have a Papa Murphy's then you'll want to take advantage of these coupons found here and here. Enjoy! I would love to hear what you think of Papa Murphy's pizza.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Barnes and Noble Coupon

I have a niece that is asking for books for Christmas so this coupon for 25% off at Barnes and Noble is going to come in really handy this week! Hope its useful for you too! Print here

Party City

When its party time I love to decorate down to the smallest detail. Sometimes I can find that unique item at Party City that is the topper of my decorating. If you're planning a party then start your plans at Party City. Go here for a $10 off $30 coupon and maybe you too will find that treasure your party needs!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Christmas Zhu Zhu Blessing!!!

Do you ever find yourself asking "why" when it comes to decisions God makes for us? This week has been full of those for me and I had to realize I don't need to know the answer to that question, I just need to continue to trust in Him. Today I know one of those whys. I am one of those Mommy's that would have a large family had God chosen to give us a house full, but he chose to give us two precious boys. We always wanted more, but since that has not been in God's plan we just enjoy spoiling other little ones, especially little girls. Today I had to laugh because I think God knew just what he was doing when it came to no girls in our house. I think she would be the most spoiled little girl in South Carolina. Not so much by Mark and I (although I am sure we would add our part) but by our boys. This year we are so excited because my sister and her family are coming for Christmas! They live in MN and like all of us have had some trials come this year and financially things have been tough. They had a meeting with the kids and said, "Would you like to go to SC for Christmas with no gifts or would you like to stay home for Christmas and get gifts?" All the kids chose GO TO SC!!! When we told the boys this they were excited that they were coming but sad that they would get no gifts. They both asked if we could take part of their Christmas money to get gifts for their cousins. God has blessed us this winter with a few extra jobs so that wish came true. We called the kids and asked what they wanted for Christmas and it has been fun watching the kids shop for others. When our boys found out their little cousin Taylor wanted a Zhu Zhu for Christmas an all out hunt began (that was after we found out what a Zhu Zhu was!) We found out CVS was going to get a shipment so for weeks we stopped at every CVS from here to Florida even in Indiana looking for a little hamster! We must have stopped 50-75 times, made multiple phone calls and was on every list in town! Then the disappointment came when CVS told us they would not be getting anymore until after Christmas.
Last night we found out if you had a reward card with Toys R Us you could get a Zhu Zhu if you were one of the first 50 people in line! When I told Kyle (our oldest) he was insistent that we get up at 5AM and head to Toys R Us to get a little girl a little hamster! He said, "Mom, I have always wanted to do this and Taylor really needs this to make it a great Christmas for her!" So, this morning before the sun was even up we were off to Toys R Us!!! When we got in the car the boys both wanted to pray and Caleb said, "Lord, please help us get just one!" It was a precious moment and at that point I realized why God gave us boys. This was not about them, this was about them doing for others and they learned the lesson how it is more blessed to give then receive.

God heard Caleb's little prayer and answered it and then blessed us with much more!

God gave us a little pet....

the car that we really wanted and....

what the boys said she needed a blanket and a carry bag!
After getting home Kyle said, "Mom, I can honestly say this was the best morning of my life and I can't wait to see Taylor on Christmas morning!

Its going to be a Merry Christmas for a precious little girl!
We love you Taylor!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Its Coupon Day!

Last night I had a wonderful time hanging out with a few friends. We had a great time just doing some Christmas shopping and enjoying being girls! We laughed about coupons and one friend hit a deal of the day which I will share with you soon. There are some great deals to be found and if you match those deals with coupons then you will find a great deal of the day too! Here are a few coupons that you may like to use this week. Happy Shopping!!!

Hallmark - $5 of $5!!! - Make sure to click on the print coupon tab

Friday, December 4, 2009

Michaels Coupon

I'm so excited that I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping. I am always on the look out for another deal so here is another 40% off coupon from Michaels. I am going to look to see if I can get a strand of beads with mine to make a special little girl a neckless. Hope it helps you find a good deal too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh, Christmas STAR!

Every year about this time I like to go on a date with our boys. They write out a Christmas gift list of items they would like to purchase for family and friends, work in a budget, then we are off on a fun date just the two of us. I love it because its one on one time and I always find a treasure in them that I never knew before. This past week was my date night with Caleb our youngest. Caleb is all about the holidays! Its not just Christmas but its every holiday, birthday, he will even make up holidays just to have fun! This year he is especially enjoying the holiday season. As we were working on his list we turned the aisle and there in front of us was a wall of Christmas tree toppers. Now, keep in mind I looked for about 12 years for the perfect tree topper for our snowman tree and when I found a fluffy snowman head tree topper I knew I found the perfect topper! I tried the star, the bow, the angel but nothing was more fitting then the adorable snowman head.
Our Caleb had other plans for our tree topper! When he was 3 he carried the large tree box to me in the living room and pointed out to me that there should not be a bow on the top of the tree because the photo on the box did not have a bow! Then the next year he told me the Angel should not be on the tree she looked scared on top! When I found the snowman head he just laughed and said, "That's not a real tree!" So this year as we were shopping together he saw the perfect tree topper, a STAR!!! When he saw the wall of stars he said, "Now, this is what I am talking about!" We need a STAR for our tree!!! At that moment I had to decide, am I going to put my foot down and say, "We already have the perfect tree topper!" or am I going to enjoy this moment with him and cherish this time and let him find the perfect topper for our tree. Well, we purchased the "perfect" tree topper and he was so excited that we found the perfect topper!
Kyle got into the spirit too and enjoyed helping decorate the tree! He added a Christmas hook to my slipper and added that to the tree!!!

My snowman head has been demoted! He is now a decoration on the tree and has a brother and sister added to the mix to balance him out.

So, a new tradition arrived in the Littleton home this year, and I'm sure when Caleb is married and gone, I will still cherish this little star and I have a feeling my "perfect" tree topper is now a small little silver star on top of a cute snowman tree.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best Thanksgiving EVER!!!

This by far has been the best Thanksgiving ever! God has a way of putting his arms around me, pulling me tight and saying, "Rachel, just trust me." Several months ago we started a remodel of our kitchen and dining room. We sold our dining room table with the hope of getting a new one. In the mean time Mark lost two jobs and all the extra spending came to a quick halt and all the income was now being used to keep us in our home, the van in the driveway and food on the "plate". With the holidays fast approaching I sat down with the boys one on one and asked them what made the holidays special for them. Our youngest said the same thing he said last year, "Having family come over and everyone eating at the table together." He then followed that with, "Mom, I really hope we can get a table before Thanksgiving." I promised him that we would have one. Not knowing how that would happen but I said, "Caleb, lets trust God to provide us a table." The day before Thanksgiving we still did not have a table, I woke up early, put down the seat in the van and went on a table hunt. After praying again, I had in mind a thrift shop I should visit so I set off to find a table trusting that God would provide. I wanted to keep it around $30 but would stretch it to $40 if I absolutely had to. I went into the thrift shop and saw two tables! I saw one table that was just made for my little dining room but knew out of the two it would be the more expensive one so I went to the cheaper looking table. To my shock the cheaper table was priced $124.99!!! Oh, my heart sunk. I thought if this one is the cheaper looking one and its $124.99 what it the other one marked? I stopped and said, "Lord, you know Caleb wants a table for Thanksgiving and I really want this table because its just the right size for my dining room but its in your hands." I walked over to the table and had to take a double look because it was priced $12.99!!!!! Yes, just twelve dollars and ninety-nine cents! Oh, my heart jumped for joy and I was overwhelmed once again with God's love for us.
The guy who marks sold on items was walking by and I said trying to curb my enthusiasm; "I would like this table please!" He came over to write me a ticket and laughed. When I questioned what was funny he said, "I'm not sure who priced this table but we never price tables at $12.99 but I'm going to give it to you for that price!" I said, "I know who priced that table and He priced it just for a little boy named Caleb!"
Since I saved so much on the table I decided to see if they had any goblet glasses which I needed to go with the China my Aunt Donna gave me a few years ago. Each time I use the china, I borrow Mom's glasses and I just wanted to see if I could get a set of my own. I said, "Lord, I did not ask for glasses but if you see fit to give me a set I sure would be appreciative." I went over and would you believe I found a set of 11 for just $2.99!!!!! I am telling you we serve a wonderful Saviour.
Next, I was off to get my produce for Thanksgiving. I had a coupon for $5 off $20 so I was excited to get $20 for just $15! When I pulled into the store I noticed a missionary that we support walk into the store and I felt the Lord telling me to give him my coupon. I was so blessed with what the Lord saved me that I walked into the store to give him the coupon but I could not find him. I was only going in for produce but found myself in the frozen food section where I spotted an elderly lady who was putting food back. She was obviously very poor, had an unappealing odor about her and was missing most of her teeth. My heart went out to her but I walked right on by. Then I felt that tug on my heart again to give her my coupon. When I went back I heard here say to herself in a quite voice, "I only have $9 and I need 7 days of food." She then went on to say if she bought bread she could stretch that but was stressed because bread went up .20 cents. I knew she did not have $20 to use my $5 coupon. She then got scared and said she needed to hurry so her ride did not leave her and she rushed to the check out lane. I quickly picked up the items she put to the side added several more items and rushed to the check out with her. This is a store where they do not bag your item so I threw a bag at the cashier, told her I want to hurry and give these items to the lady in the other lane and please bag them for me. The elderly lady had problems paying for her food so I snuck the large bag of food into her cart with out her seeing it and turned around to pay for my food. By this time my cashier has tears in her eyes and asked me why I did that. I told her about what the Lord did for me that day and how her store sent me the $5 coupon and how I wanted to give back a portion of what the Lord gave me. Then the elderly lady cashier turned around and had tears in her eyes and asked if the elderly lady knew I did that and my cashier said, "No, she was just being a blessing today." The elderly lady's cashier gave me a big hug and with tears in her eyes thanked me. As I walked outside my heart broke because I saw the elderly lady loading her items into a very old truck but she had fear in her eyes because she knew the extra food was not hers. She put her items in the truck and started looking in the bag. She looked up but was trying to move fast so she did not get into trouble by having an extra bag she did not pay for. I walked up to her, put my hand on her arm and said, "I just wanted you to have a happy Thanksgiving," She looked at me with tears in her eyes and thanked me over and over again. She got in her truck, with the biggest smile I have ever seen and was truly Thankful for those few groceries. It made me think of my own life and how I may not have fresh paint on my walls, I may not have the new dining room set, I may not have new carpet, I may not have all that I want but I have so much more and I am so thankful for what He has given me.
When I came home I sat Caleb down and said, "Caleb, what did Mommy promise you we would have before Thanksgiving?" With the biggest smile he said, "A TABLE!" I told him the story of the gift God gave us and he said, "Mom, I thought you forgot so I did not say anything." We unloaded the table and he asked if he could do all the decorating with the table cloth and dishes!

The day before Thanksgiving he "decorated" the table the best an 8 year old could do! He wanted to have a special gift for our guest, Grandma, so he wrapped up a Christmas gift and set it at her place.

Grandma LOVES tea so he have her.....

A mini tea cup Christmas ornament! I see a little of his Daddy coming out in him!

We gathered in our little dining room together and enjoyed the best
Thanksgiving EVER!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our Annivrsary

Its Thanksgiving & Our 15th Anniversary!!!
This week Mark and I are celebrating out 15th wedding anniversary. This past weekend Mark made me feel like I did the day I said, "I do" For several weeks Mark has been planning a special date for us and did not say anything except to save the date. The only people who knew was our oldest son, my Dad and my sister. Its amazing that no one leaked anything about this special date. I'm not the type to snoop because if someone is working hard on a surprise I don't want to spoil it. I did not find out one thing and that made it even more exciting! After our youngest sons soccer game on Saturday we came home and got dressed for a day on the town. Anticipation mounting, we got in the van and headed towards Charleston. Mark gave me and envelope that said, "I love you!"

Inside was a gift card for a manicure and pedicure! So off to the mall we went! Mark sat patiently while I enjoyed being pampered!!

Next, we were off again, this time to downtown Charleston where we parked and went shopping at the market a famous tourist attraction. What girl does not enjoy shopping but it was fun just walking hand in hand with him. After the market we walked over to the Double Tree Hotel where he informed me we were going on a carriage ride (which is my favorite thing to do downtown!) To my surprise a private carriage pulled up for just the two of us!!! I was so excited I forgot to get a photo! It was a cool brisk day and I was happy I had my coat but again to my surprise Mark had them bring a blanket! Mark brought with him a black bag and when we pulled up to the stop to get our route assignment he pulled out two coffee mugs and hot cocoa!!! Just when I thought it could not get any better he pulled out hand dipped chocolate strawberries (yes, he dipped them at my Dads house and hid all the evidence)!!!

I could not believe he went to so much trouble. Each stop on our date represented something in our past. He said the carriage ride was because I should have always been treated like a princess. My honey has always been romantic but this date surpassed everything he has ever done for me.

In the middle of the carriage ride he gave me another gift. Our oldest son Kyle, drew a picture of us on our wedding day. It brought tears to my eyes and again, I could not believe all the planning that went into this date. What a special day! And it was far from over...

This was one of many views on our carriage ride. Mark talked the driver into just driving and not do the tour, so we could just enjoy one another and the spectacular scenery.

After getting off the carriage ride I again forgot to snap a photo of us or the carriage! The date was far from over and the next step took my breath away! So after the carriage ride we went to California Dreaming restaurant. I told him I did not mind waiting so we could sit by the water but again, he had made reservations and we had a table before he even parked the car.
At dinner I could see he was not feeling well but not wanting the evening to end he asked if I wanted to go shopping? I could see in his eyes that he was in pain due to some physical ailments he has been dealing with so I decided now would be a good time to give him my gift. As a surprise to him I saved some money back from a job that I worked and rented the Bridal Suite near our home. It had a hot tub in the room which I knew he would really enjoy considering how much pain he had been in the past few weeks. He had no idea at all! I packed an over night bag and took it to the hotel that morning so he was clueless! I told him, "Now its time for me to give you my gift!" He was shocked because he no idea I had a surprise of my own. I reached in my purse and got the hotel card out, put it between both hands and gave it to him. Needless to say he was now overwhelmed! I was not the only one with tears in their eyes! Then he blew me away one more time. He said he had one more surprise for me. He pulled out a little red box and said, "Rachel, I love you more today then I did 15 years ago and I am so glad you are my wife." When I opened the box I started to shake and tears rolled down my cheeks because he gave me.....

my wedding ring! About two years ago it broke and we did not have the money to fix it. I could not ware it at and I missed it everyday. Often I would just pull it out and look at it and I longed to have it back. I looked for it a the day of our date because I wanted to have it with me on our date even if in my purse but I could not find it. I thought I lost it and my heart was heavy. Getting the ring this time was even more special then getting it the day of our wedding because I know the sacrifice that went into getting it fixed. God truly blessed me with my Prince Charming. Although the path this 15 years has not always been easy I never wavered knowing God put us together and God makes no mistakes. I am thankful on this Thanksgiving for my husband and I look forward to many, many, many more years with him. Thank you honey for making me feel like a Princess and for making me Mrs Littleton

Monday, November 23, 2009


Its been a crazy few weeks and not that this week is any less busy but maybe I can get back with the bolg a little this week. I am so excited to tell you about the anniversary date my husband took me on this past week and many other things. For now I'm going to leave you with the new Michael's coupons found here. I'm off again but hope to come back later today with more. Have a great day everyone! Enjoy the Thanksgiving countdown!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Military Appreciation

Golden Corral's 9th annual Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on Monday, November 16, 2009, from 5 to 9 pm in all Golden Corral restaurants nationwide. The free dinner meal is a special "thank you tribute" to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to join us for Golden Corral's Military Appreciation Monday dinner. To date, Golden Corral restaurants have provided over 2.2 million free meals and contributed over $3.3 million to the Disabled American Veterans organization. To locate a Golden Corral near you, visit

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dollar General

Go here for a 10-20% off coupon from Dollar General. I love this little store! They always have those unique items and this year I have noticed they have some name brand toys. Our boys wanted a Tony Hawks tech deck skateboard ramp and it was $30 at other stores, I found it at Dollar General for just $12! They also have the money jugs that count the money as they go in the jug. Its a great way to teach the kids to save! They are the large jugs and they are only $6! A great deal! Be sure to check out all the cute Christmas decorations too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans Eat Free

Just a reminder that Applebees is offering a free meal to Veterans tomorrow on November 11, 2009. Go here for all the information and enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009


This is a great deal and one that is so usefull! On Veterans Day, November 11, 2009, Sam’s Club® locations nationwide will be giving away 25,000 Hugo® canes free of charge to United States Military Veterans in need of mobility assistance.
Thank you Sam's!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Toys R Us Hasbro Sale

Take advantage of the biggest game sale of the year at Toys”R”Us! Below are some of the game deals you’ll receive when you shop at Toys"R"Us Sunday, 11/8 through Saturday, 11/14. Plus, receive a $10 gift card (In-Store only)with any Hasbro game purchase of $25 or more when you shop in a Toys”R”Us store through 11/14. The gift card offer is available in stores only and quantities are limited; no rain checks. The card is valid six hours after activation and expires on 12/31/09 except where prohibited.

Some games are on sale for $3.99 with a $2 mail in rebate makes them just $1.99! The following are a few of the games on sale this week! Rebate form found here

  • Candy Land
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Disney Princess Chutes and Ladders
  • Super Hero Squad Chutes and Ladders
  • Memory Game
  • Hi Hi Cherry-O
  • Don't Break the Ice
  • Ants in Pants
  • Monopoly
  • Sorry (my boys favorite right now)
  • Jenga
  • Scrabble
The mail-in rebate is offered by Hasbro and is only valid on purchases of specific Hasbro games through 1/31/10. You can find the official rebate form at participating Toys”R”Us stores while supplies last. Your rebate must be postmarked by 2/15/10 and received by 2/28/10 with all requested documentation. Allow 60 days for delivery of rebatecheck by mail.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bagel Bites

I had to laugh when getting this email today because I just asked my nieces and nephews what they wanted when they came for Christmas Eve and they said, "You know those little pizzas on bagels, we love those!" We have fun finger food and this year we are letting the kids choose. So, Hannah, Brandon, Jordan, Taylor these are for you!
Go here to print your coupon too!

Thanksgiving Coupons

Go here to print some Betty Crocker coupons good for your Thanksgiving dinner and even dessert.

$10 off $30 Bath & Body Works Coupon

Go here to print a $10 coupon for Bath & Body Works! This should make for a great Christmas gift or maybe a nice hostess gift.

Old Navy Sale

On Saturday November 7th Old Navy scarfs will be on sale for only $1! Call ahead to confirm if your store is participating. Limit is 5!
For all my Charleston friends, our stores are participating in this sale. I am going to get a few for my niece and nephews who are coming from MN for Christmas.
Thanks Couponers Untited for the Tip!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hamrick's Coupon

Turkey Dinner For 8 for $20!!

A turkey dinner for eight as low as $20! According to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, last year'saverage cost of a turkey was roughly $1.19 per pound. Beginning today, select Grade A turkeys are available for 40 cents per pound at Walmart. These gobblers are part of Walmart's $20 Thanksgiving menu guaranteeing familyfavorites will be on the dinner table this holiday season. Walmart's $20Thanksgiving feast includes
  • One 12-pound Grade A turkey

  • Three 11 to 15.5-ounce cans Green Giant vegetables

  • Two 14-ounce cans Ocean Spray cranberry sauce

  • Three 6-ounce boxes of Stove Top stuffing

  • One 5-pound bag of red potatoes

  • One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls

  • One 22-ounce pumpkin roll cake

Our local Goose Creek Wal-Mart (the only one I called) is participating in this sale! The meat manager said he just put out about 100 turkeys so its a great day to buy a turkey! THANK YOU WAL-MART!!!!!!!

Christmas Lights

What a great deal! Take your old Christmas lights to Home Depot from Nobember 5-15 and get a $3 coupon for each set (up to 5 sets) good on any energy efficent LED Christmas lights. Home Depot LED lights will be $5.97 during the promotion or only $2.97 each after the trade in coupon! Sound like a good week to get set for decorating!

All You Survey

WOW!!! Keep an eye out for November 20th issue of All You Magazine (found at Walmart) and inside the first few pages you may find a survey with a prepaid envelope. Complete the survey and mail it in and you will receive a $10 check! The surveys are not in all magazines, but are randomly distributed. Thanks Couponers United for the tip!


This week I found more ground chuck on clearance so I made another batch of meatballs for my family. The thing I hate about making meatballs is rolling the balls. Yuck! Today I tried using my ice cream scoop and it worked perfectly! I have about three different size scoops and was happy with each size. Today I wanted the larger balls so the normal ice cream scooper was perfect! Yeah, no more slimy hands!! The following recipe made 20 large meatballs which fit perfectly in my slow cooker. Hope you enjoy having slime free hands too!

Ok, so as promised I made the meatballs for the boys for dinner this evening and let me just say YUMMY!!!!!! I am not a big meatball fan so I made these just for the boys and my honey knowing they would love them. I normally do not like them because they have so much filler that just turns my stomach. Not these! They were delicious if I do say so myself! I can't wait for my honey to get home so he can try them. They were super simple to make, below is the recipe if you would like to try them too.

3lb of Lean Ground Beef
3 Eggs
1 package of Crushed Saltine Crackers
3tbsp Onion Onion
3tbsp Garlic Garlic
1tsp Accent
2tsp Creole Seasoning
1 Bottle of Kraft Original BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup Grape Jelly

  • Add first seven ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  • Roll into any size meatballs you desire. (use an ice cream scooper or cookie scoop)
  • Place on baking sheet covered with foil. I like to bake mine about 10-15 minutes just to get some of the grease out and to seal the flavors.
  • Remove from oven, let cool
  • Place in a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use.
  • This recipe will make 24 meat balls

How to Prepare

  • When ready to use, remove as many as you need out of the freezer bag and place half in your crock pot (frozen is fine). Oh, don't forget your crock pot liner!!!
  • Add BBQ sauce and grape jelly in a small mixing bowl, mix well.
  • Pour over half of meat balls, add remaining meat balls and top with remaining BBQ sauce.
  • This evening I wanted to cook them fast so I cooked them 3 hours on high, but if you're leaving for the day, cook on low. When you get home, remove the lid and it will thicken up and be oh, soooo yummy!

You can find this and many more recipes at Blessed with Grace and Grocery Chart Challenge

Disney Trip

Would you like to go to Disney? Me too!!! Go here to enter to win a FREE trip from Pier 1 Imports. Good Luck!

Kellogg's Coupons

I've been on a cereal hunt to make Christmas treats (I'll post recipes soon). I was happy to see all the Kellogg's coupons here today. I hope these help you save this week too! Remember when buying cereal to keep an eye on the price because it fluctuates more then any items I've seen. One week it will be $4.49, the next week BOGO free, the next $1.99 so make sure to buy low and stock up then when you're ready for more it will be at its low price again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Golden Corral Free Meal

Golden Corral is having Military Appreciation. On Monday, November 16, 2009 from 5 - 9 PM Go here for all the details and have a great time!

Free Meal For Veterans

As a Thank You for your service to our country Applebees is honoring veterans and active duty military with a FREE meal on November 11! All you have to do is show your military ID. Enjoy a FREE meal and THANK YOU for keeping us free.
Go here for further information.

CVS Coupon

Another great CVS coupon!!!
Go here to print your
$5 off $20 and its good until December 31!!!