Monday, January 30, 2012

Feeding the Hungry


Wow! What a week it has been!  It was a blessing to go to the March for Life last week (has it already been a week since the March in D.C.?), but it's always a challenge to get home from a short/long trip and get back into the routine.  I felt like last week I was playing "catch up" after I got home, especially since life never stands still when you go away for a bit!

This afternoon our homeschool group volunteered again with a local inner city homeless ministry.  Our homeschool group provides food and serves the food whenever there is a 5th Sunday in the month.  There are volunteers every Sunday at a well-known spot downtown and our homeschool group was blessed to be a part of the food preparation and serving today.  We had adults and children ranging from age 7 to teens helping out, including my three oldest "cupcakes" and myself.    After the preacher talked with the men, women, and children during an informal church service under an open-air pavilion, they were invited to eat a warm, home-made meal provided by many families and volunteers.

Today we made and served Southwest Chicken and here is the recipe (sorry I forgot to take pictures of this yummy and easy dish)

Southwest Chicken:

  4 chicken breasts
  1-2 jars of salsa
  2 -3 cups cooked rice
  grated cheddar cheese for topping (1-2 cups)

  The chicken can be cooked the day before in a crock pot or that morning on the stove.

Place chicken breasts in a crock pot and add 1-2 jars of salsa, enough to cover the meat and provide a bit extra. Cook on low for eight hours, until the chicken is done, then shred the the meat with two forks (very easy to do when the chicken has been cooking all day).

Mix in 2-3 cups of cooked rice. Place in disposal serving pan, top liberally with cheese.

Heat through, until cheese is melted.

This recipe is very forgiving. It was originally intended to be burrito filling. You can add in corn or beans, more rice or salsa... whatever you want; it all tastes good. You can also use any precooked chicken that you have- just chop it into small pieces first.

Some families also made Baked Apples which was also a hit! 

I am always impressed by how friendly and gracious the people are as we feed them.  Many of them thank us over and over again for our service.  As the volunteers, we are blessed in many ways also by serving in this ministry. 
Here are more photos from our afternoon of helping those who always look forward to a warm, home-made meal, a helping hand, and a friendly smile.


Matthew 25:35-40
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome
lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."
Then the upright will say to him in reply, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you?
When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?"
And the King will answer, "In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Capturing March for Life 2012 in My Own Words/Photos/Videos

A few days before leaving for the 39th annual March for Life 2012, I thought of this phrase.... 

Why do we March for L.I.F.E.?  
 Life Is For Everyone!

Last year my family and I attended our first March for Life and I blogged about this incredible experience HERE.  This year, my daughter, friends, and I joined a parish in Rocky Mount, NC and traveled to our second march on buses.  There were three large buses filled with 150 people from Rocky Mount and surrounding areas.

We left early Monday morning, January 23, 2012 at 6:00 AM from Rocky Mount, NC to our nation's Capitol for the annual March for Life rally to protest the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the legalization of abortion. Our first stop when we arrived was the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.


As soon as we got off the bus, I had a friend snap this picture of my daughter and me standing with Fr. Tim Meares, priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount.  Fr. Meares has been on many marches and we were all blessed with this holy priest's presence during our trip.

Here is most of our group with all the bright yellow scarves:
Each year there is a Holy Mass for Life for all the N.C. pro-lifers present at the march.  It is just so beautiful to see the many priests and seminarians and our two bishops from the Raleigh and Charlotte Diocese celebrate Mass with the packed church. 
Although I missed celebrating this march with my husband and other three children, it was very special to have my daughter with me to share such a powerful event.  It's never too early to teach our children that life, no matter how small, is precious and sacred.

Down in the Crypt Church of the Basilica, I found Cameron Smith's artwork (No relation to me). Cameron and his family are in our homeschool group and are dear friends.   He has incredible God- given talent and he did a painting on marble of Saint Maron and and Our Lady of Lebanon for the Maronite chapel and these beautiful masterpieces are located in one of the many side altars.  You can visit Cameron's website HERE to see his other beautiful prints to view/purchase.

The weatherman called for 90% chance of rain in the afternoon and after we left the Basilica it was drizzling, but then it stopped during the march.  The sky was gray and gloomy, but the spirits were high which made the day much brighter for sure.

After our group gathered at the Navy Memorial, we marched with an estimated 300,000-500,000 pro-lifers. It's hard to know the exact number, but based on previous year's estimations, I'm guessing this many people might have attended this year's march.   There were men, women, and children from all ages, races, religions, and walks of life joining together to stand for life one step and prayer at a time.  It was breathtaking, exhilarating, and powerful to walk among the masses.  There was a sea of love, as one friend put it.  There was no anger, fear, or hate in the crowds.  Rather, there was a feeling of security, hope, peace, joy, and love and all the young people present gave me hope for our future.
Here is a video clip I took while walking in the march.  The young people are shouting, "We love babies, yes we do, we love babies, how 'bout you!"
video

Speaking of our young generation, here are a few beautiful teens that I know from my homeschool group.  They and about 13 others came to the march and are part of our local Teens for Life group. Not only are they shining witnesses for life, but they also love spreading the message of life with bright smiles and duct tape!  Awesome!    

Like last year, I love all the signs that float through the massive crowds  Here is a slideshow of some signs that I saw:




 



At one point while we were walking we noticed two businessmen watching from high above the crowds from their office windows.  We were waving at them to get their attention and they waved back. I wanted to be up there to witness from their vantage point the hundreds of thousands marching.   I was wondering what they were thinking?  Were they encouraged as pro-lifers themselves?  Maybe they were in awe of the crowd, despite being pro-choice?  Maybe they were wondering how the news media could continue to miss this BIG story about March for Life each year?  Maybe they were amazed that so many people could come together peacefully?  Whatever they were thinking or feeling, we as pro-lifers might have planted seeds in their hearts to always defend life!   

Here are photos of the crowds.  Like last year's march, I never saw the beginning or the end of the march and I hear the numbers who attend gets higher and higher!

One of my friends from our group had this to say about the march. "We joined in the march at 2:00 PM. It was shuffle, shuffle, stop. Repeat. On the hill itself, it was so crowded that we had to make full stops about 7 times. From the bottom of the hill to the top where the route turns on First Street to the Supreme Court, it was packed. I didn't see any gaps. We were like sardines. If you had claustrophobia, you would've felt it at the National Archives. The official end of the March came at about 4 PM with the fife and drum and bagpipe corps of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, who run the America Needs Fatima campaign, marching behind Our Lady of Fatima statue. They always bring up the rear."

We stopped at the Congressional Building for a small reception and to listen to our NC Senator, Richard Burr, speak.  We also listened to Congresswoman Renee Ellmers.  Both gave the audience words of encouragement to keep marching on to defend life.

After we left the Senate building, we headed toward the Supreme Court where we listened to women tell their stories about how they had an abortion and how much they have suffered physically, mentally, physcologically, emotionally, and spiritually from their decision.  It was heartbreaking to hear their stories, but they share their stories to help others through a project called Silent No More Awareness Campaign


A few feet from where the women were speaking there were different signs that were being held up.  It didn't even register in my mind that these signs were not like the ones I was blessed to see all day during the march.  No, seeing these signs made me sad...because these women's stories were filled with pain, grief, sadness, confusion and even hope, but only a few feet away pro-abortion signs were being held up proudly.   I snapped a picture of signs that read "Keep Abortion Legal" and the pro-life signs that read "Defund Planned Parenthood" and "Face It....Abortion Kills a Person".  My 11 year old daughter didn't understand why anyone would want to keep abortion legalized.  She kept asking me "why?"  I told her I don't understand it myself, but we need to keep standing up for life and praying for conversions so that all people will see that each human person is made in the image and likeness of God and each life, no matter how small, no matter the circumstance, is sacred and valuable. 

I conclude this year's March for Life with this video and quotes by Mother Teresa:
 

"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters"
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)


"But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love - that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. "

"Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents, and have grown up so full of love and joy!"

February 1997 - National Prayer Breakfast in Washington attended by the President and the First Lady. "What is taking place in America," she said, "is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another."

"Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants."

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." 


Why do we March for L.I.F.E.?  
 because Life Is For Everyone! 

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Marching for Life this Monday, 1/23/12

Last year our family went to the March for Life for the first time and what an incredible experience we had!   This year, I will be going with my 11 year old daughter and some friends to march on in Washington, D.C. to mark the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court decision that legalized the killing of innocent lives and has destroyed so many.

I look forward to posting about our march this year that will take place this Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.  But, until then, I will leave you with these two posts that I published last year regarding "who" we are marching for and my family's first march experience...We shall overcome someday! 

This is "Who" we will be marching for at March for Life

Our First March for Life: In My Own Words and Photos

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Show off My Work Wednesday: "H" is for House and "I" is for Ice Cream



Last week I forgot to post another "H" activity I did with my 4 year old "cupcake".  I got this H house idea at Crafts N Things.


This week for our Alphabet Boxes we are doing the long "Ii" sound and my daughter made the letters with craft sticks and dotted the lower case "i" with a purple pom pom.


 She also made ice cream with colored pom poms and a cone with craft sticks and glue.  My 7 year old daughter enjoyed making a cone too!  Yum! :)

She thought it would be funny to act like she was eating her ice cream :) 

Craft stick cone
Ice Cream, you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream! :)

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crazy for Coupons and "H" is for Horse!


I haven't posted since last week partly due to the fact that I have been busy saving money with coupons which has turned into making some extra money also since I have started teaching my "Smith's Savings" Coupon Workshops to teach others how to save money!  
My "official" title is an Independent Coupon Consultant with Delly's Deals.  I had my first workshop this past Saturday and I was so excited to teach to the 24 people that attended.  It was alot of fun and just yesterday I received this email from a lady who took my workshop: 

"Tracy,

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I cannot thank you enough for all of the valuable information that you shared with us on Saturday. I put it to work yesterday afternoon on my trip to HT [Harris Teeter]. I broke one of the golden rules and did buy a few things that I didn’t have coupons for but they were necessities.

 I just wanted to share with you that applying the tips/knowledge that you had shared on Saturday I had a total SAVINGS of $130.37! My total bill was $206.52 after my savings. It was AMAZING!!!! I can’t wait to continue watching the savings come in (so to speak)! And believe me, I’ve been telling everyone I know! Everyone at work! E-mailing friends out of town. Sharing with family! It truly is AWESOME!!! BTW – The Binder is AMAZING! It is fabulous how everything is right there at your finger tips and I’m not fumbling thru my white business envelope anymore.  I would advise everyone I know or anyone interested in beginning to coupon to get the Binder! It truly is an asset!"
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with me (and the rest of the group) on Saturday."


Wow! I was so happy to receive the lady's email and just so happy that my workshop helped her save so much money!  63%!  Awesome!
 
The binder she is referring to is an exclusive Delly's Deals product and like I told the ladies at my workshop, some people have a security blanket, I have a security binder! The binder goes with me every time I'm in a grocery store.  It  allows me to see all my coupons by aisle to maximize my savings at the register and has allowed me to save 50% or more each time I check out! 
This past week at Harris Teeter, it was a special coupon week since all coupons $1.98 or less double.  Harris Teeter doubles coupons everyday up to 99 cents, but every 6 weeks or so they have the special coupon weeks where the high dollar coupons will double!  So $1.00 off coupons double to $2.00 off coupons, $1.50 off coupons double to $3.00 off!  Awesome!

Last night I went shopping again during Super Double week and got these groceries that totaled $55.58 before store sales and coupons.

But, with store sales and coupons I paid...(drum roll)
$7.82 !!!!!
The Smart Balance milk was free because it was on sale for 2 for $3.00 and I had (2) $1.50 off coupons for the milk.  During Super Doubles week the $1.50 doubles to $3.00 off making each milk FREE!  
Now that's what I call low prices....Always! ;)
Being crazy for coupons saves lots of money!  


OK, now it's time to step out of coupon world and back into the world of homeschooling...Last week I continued my Alphabet Boxes with my 4 year old and we were on the letter "H" so we did the following activities. 

Making letter "H" with dot paint markers.  I got this idea for the Hh dots from Our Crafts N Things who got the templates from Confessions of a Homeschooler


She decorated this Hh template with foam hearts and stamped houses and horses.  I get all my letter templates like this from Alphabuddies Alphabet Section at DLTK.Kids

She loved making horses from her handprints and she colored the feet with red "hoof" polish ;)

Happy Shopping, Saving, and Schooling!

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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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