Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Home Study Scheduled!

I'm so excited. After a period of waiting (which I know will only continue with other paperwork/processes in the adoption)- we're scheduled to complete our home study! We've got the appointments on the calendar and I'm sooo excited and ready to go!

Woo hoo!

Oh- and as far as God coming through for us financially... He's amazing. We didn't get the check when we thought- but sought him out and waited. We got the check today... and it was for 2x as much as we were hoping/expecting! Hallelujah! He's definitely a God who acts at 11:59- but He's so good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

God always provides.

Psalm 37:23-25
If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Today I'm grateful. I wish I could say it was the case every day- but I'm trying. Life with Christ is a walk, a process, right?

So, in praying about the holidays- we felt/decided that we should drive to see family this year. Because of the adoption we don't know what next year will look like. We don't know when we might be traveling to go pick up our cutie in India... and a 2 week trip to India will not only demand our finances and our energy but it will demand all of my hubby's available vacation time (and then some...).

So, we looked at the books and thought: It is not possible. We're doing our best to live without using debt/credit as an option. While this invigorates and excited us, it also challenges us immensely. It's so easy to look at the upcoming pay periods and think... we'll have extra money in a few weeks- let's just do it now and pay for it when that paycheck comes in 2 weeks... But I have been really convicted about that kind of living lately and so we're challenging ourselves to truly and honestly live with delayed gratification. And, sometimes that means forgoing big things. We started to get worried this week because we were expecting a check that did not come.

So- we asked ourselves. Now what? The fact that the check should have come is true. The fact that it did not is also true.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Jim Elliot quotes: (paraphrased based upon my memorization of it from about 15 years ago) What is, is actual. What might be, simply is not. Therefore we must not query God as though he has robbed us of something that is not. Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.

Live in the now. Not in the almost or maybe or hopefully.

So, we believed that we were supposed to keep planning for a trip, even though we would be down to the wire on it budget-wise. Because we are without this check, we're literally budgeted down to the $10 mark... We can do the trip- as long as we pack meals on the way, etc. and not eat out.

Then God came through. We got three checks this weekend totalling $55. Andy's Bday party cost $47.21. I got 5 secret shop jobs over the weekend that totalled (not including all the reimbursed items) $25 of payment. Andy's cake was $22. So, the money that we had originally budgeted for his party- was left untouched. Isn't that just like God. The earned/expected $ didn't come. The unexpected $ did come. With $10 to spare.

So, we'll have what we need. not because we earned it- but because God is Good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Operation Christmas Child


We packed our boxes up full of goodies for kids around the world, then prayed over them.. The kids prayers nearly moved me to tears. I love these kiddos!

It ended up being Lindsay, Buffy and me- but I forgot to get the camera out until the end... and I had anal retentively pre-packed the boxes- so the kids only put stuff on top and we finished up... :) My kiddos were excited about the whole process. The ladies at the church ooh-ed and ahh-ed over our kids too- so that helped as well. We got to see where the put all the little boxes in big boxes, and then they got to see the giant truck that will get loaded up with presents!


What a wonderful experience... Next time I'll be less comandeering (I was so focused on packing those boxes like a well-fit puzzle- but Buffy said they just dump them to check them anyway- so next time I'll let the kids pack them.)...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For my friends who were interested:

Yes- I sec. shop.... As long as you have access to a computer, and in most cases, a digital camera or scanner to get a pic of the receipt/business card from your job, you can do this.

I struggled with the same issue of wondering whether a company is legit or not- so I can totally understand. I found the Myst Shop Providers Assoc online, and ended up getting certified with them (it's not mandatory to get good jobs though). They have two parts of their website, one is for shoppers, one is for companies. I actually went to the company pages and found companies there- since I figured if they paid to be members of this legitimate association, then they're for real.

http://www.jobslinger.com/ is a kind of monster.com-like website that posts job openings. I can't verify the legitimacy of the companies though- so you might want to see if they're MSPA members, or if they're listed below before you sign up. (not all legit companies are members of the MSPA- but I just started there for safety then signed up with more as I heard about them in the MS Meetup or other places online.)

Since there are so MANY companies out there- if you'd like to know which companies shop specific industries, just ask and I'll lead you toward those specific industries... I'd be happy to answer any questions you have- since it's such a huge industry with many facets. All companies do require that you sign an confidentiality agreement though... so some things will remain hush hush... :)

There are jobs for oil changes, groceries, movies, clothing/retail, restaurants, hotels, etc... Some have reimbursements or payments, some offer both...

If any of these sites ask who referred you- ask me and I'll give you the email address I use for that so i can get a possible referral bonus if you live in an area that they desperately need people...

This is not going to be terribly profitable overall. It is definitely a good way to eat out and then get reimbursed for it, or get small (or sometimes big) items for free because the company reimburses for part of your purchase... I average about 20 jobs a month, and usually get about $200 in payments and about $250 in reimbursement.

Some companies pay really quickly (like a week after the job), others pay like 2 months after the end of the month that you do the job. So- read the info on their site before you accept a job, so that you know how long you'll be waiting to be paid, and/or reimbursed. Some pay by direct deposit, others by paypal, others by check. It should say on their 'agreement' form that you sign how they pay and how often.

Some jobs are super easy, 5 minutes in the store, 5 minutes reporting online. Other jobs take an hour in a store, and an hour to report online. When you sign up with a company, they'll start sending you email job postings, and you can read the posting, click on the link to read a little more info about it, and then you'll have the opportunity to accept it or just ignore/delete the email. You could sign up with 30 companies as an independent contractor, but then never accept a job if the jobs don't look like something you'd want to do... (Independent Contractor means they don't commit to hire you for anything, and you don't commit to work unless you accept a specific job. They also don't take any taxes out- so you'll be responsible for reporting it on your income taxes. You basically report everything you get paid as self employment income, then subtract out the 'required purchases/reimbursed things' as a business expense, and what you're left with is the actual 'income' you get taxed on. Talk to a CPA if you can't do all that yourself though...)

Also, shops get posted in waves, so if you check and there's nothing in Tulsa (or your city) right now, it's likely that within a few weeks, something might be posted, and you'll get an email. Some jobs are self-assign (the first person to accept it gets to do it). Others are by application, and then the scheduler picks who they want to do it, based upon experience and demographics.

Hope this helps- and doesn't overwhelm you too much. :)

Ok friends- I had a really hard time emailing this- but maybe I can get it to post here... Here are the links for you:
Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (MPSA)http://www.mysteryshop.org/index-na.php
Mystery Shopping and Merchandising Resource and Message Boards links
Volition Job Board http://forum.volition.com/
Volition Main Board http://www.volition.com/mystery.html
Mystery Shop Resources http://www.mysteryshopresources.com/home.html
Mystery Shop Forum http://www.mysteryshopforum.com/list/3
Lila's Lounge http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/LilasLounge/join
Shopping with Debby http://www.shoppingwithdebby.com/
Cathy's Corner http://forums.delphiforums.com/cathyscorner2/start
MSFreedom http://www.msfreedom.org/
Free access to mystery shopping company lists http://www.krowtensatellite.com/shop.html
Mystery Shopping Wallboosters http://walletboosters.com/mysteryshopping.html
Company Name - - - - - - - -

Web Site (click on links)
Sign up with each company that uses KOIOS for online reporting individually.All Shop Group http://www.allshopgroup.com/ (No online reporting at this time)
Reflections Mystery Shopping http://www.reflectionsms.com/
Sign up with each company that uses Sassie for online reporting individually. Ann Michaels & Associates http://sassieshop.com/2annmichaels/index.norm.php
AQ Services International https://www.sassieshop.com/sassie/SassieShopperSignup/Signup.php?EmsID=3MrwqqIl%2FRA%3D
Ath Power/Courtesy Counts http://www.sassieshop.com/2ap123/index.norm.php
Bank Atlantic (Florida Shoppers Only) http://sassieshop.com/2bankatlantic/index.norm.php
Bare Associates http://www.sassieshop.com/2bareusa/index.norm.php
Benchmark Collaborative http://www.sassieshop.com/2benchmark
Beyond Hello http://www.sassieshop.com/2beyondhello/index.norm.php
California Marketing Specialists http://www.sassieshop.com/2californiamarketing/index.norm.php
Capstone Research http://sassieshop.com/2capstoneresearch/index.norm.php
Cirrus Marketing http://www.sassieshop.com/2cirrus/index.norm.php
Confero Inc. http://www.sassieshop.com/2confero/index.norm.php
Corporate Risk Solutions http://www.sassieshop.com/2crs/index.norm.php
Customer Service Experts http://www.sassieshop.com/2csexperts/index.norm.php
Customerize http://www.sassieshop.com/2customerize/index.norm.php
David Sparks and Associates https://www.sassieshop.com/sassie/SassieShopperSignup/Signup.php?EmsID=QT90iJJJ2c4%3D
Draude marketing Service http://www.sassieshop.com/2draude/
Franchise Compliance http://www.sassieshop.com/2franchisecompliance/index.norm.php
Harris Teeter (BAI) http://www.sassieshop.com/2harristeeter/index.norm.php
Intellishop http://sassieshop.com/2intellishop/index.norm.php
Ipsos-Insight http://www.sassieshop.com/2ipsos/index.norm.php
Kern Scheduling http://www.sassieshop.com/2kern/index.norm.php
Market Trends Pacific http://www.sassieshop.com/2markettrends/index.norm.php
Marketing Endeavors http://www.sassieshop.com/2me/index.norm.php
Mercantile Systems http://www.sassieshop.com/2mercsurveys/index.norm.php
Mystery Shoppers http://www.sassieshop.com/2mysteryshoppers/index.norm.php
Mystery Shoppers Inc. http://sassieshop.com/2mysteryshopinc/index.norm.php
Mystique Shopper, LLC http://www.sassieshop.com/2mystique/index.norm.php
Nationwide Service Group http://www.sassieshop.com/2nis/index.norm.php
Phanton Shoppers http://www.sassieshop.com/2phantom/
Professional Review http://sassieshop.com/2proreview/index.norm.php
Quinn Marketing and Communications http://www.sassieshop.com/2quinn/
Reality Check http://www.sassieshop.com/2rcms/
Restaurant Evaluators http://www.sassieshop.com/2resteval/index.norm.php
Secret Shopping Services http://www.sassieshop.com/2sss
Service Alliance http://www.sassieshop.com/2servicealliance
Service Check http://www.sassieshop.com/2servicecheck/index.norm.php
Service Excellence Group http://www.sassieshop.com/2serviceexcellence/index.norm.php
Service Impressions http://www.sassieshop.com/2serviceimpressions/index.norm.php
Service Performance Group http://www.sassieshop.com/2serviceperformance/index.norm.php
Service Savvy http://www.sassieshop.com/2servicesavvy/index.norm.php
Service Sleuths http://sassieshop.com/2servicesleuths/index.norm.php
SG Marketing http://www.sassieshop.com/2sgmarketing/index.norm.php
Sparks & Associates http://www.sassieshop.com/2dsa/index.norm.php
Speedmark http://www.sassieshop.com/2green/index.norm.php
TNS Intersearch http://www.sassieshop.com/2tns/index.norm.php
The Zellman Group http://www.sassieshop.com/2zellmangroup/index.norm.php

Ok- for some reason, I can't get the others to post normally again and reveal the web address. I'll try again later! As you can see the only ones I listed are the ones that use sassie software for reporting.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wow!

Ok- so I'm trying to be content with the length and feel of the process of adoption- and am constantly before God's throne about it, even though we've just barely started!

So, I decided for some encouragement I would go to the website I had found and look at pictures of the orphanage and babies that had been adopted out of there (the actual orphanage where our little one will be/is). So, I'm on that site, looking at the same pictures I have looked at before, when I see links to families that have adopted from there. I randomly click on one and start to read a post. I realize that this family looks a lot like ours... and that they're in the process of adopting a second little girl from India. :)

Then I start to read the latest post. I'm so moved by it, and so encouraged, because it's all about the DAY they are picking up their second daughter in India! I'm so excited for their family. I think to myself that I didn't notice the date it was posted. I look and see that it was posted TODAY! They are with their little girl for the first day RIGHT NOW! I am so blessed to be a part of their experience- even though they don't know who I am.

One of her comments on her post was to all the other families who are waiting in the process- she said something about resting easy- because our little ones are getting hugs from her today. That brought me to tears. I know the Ayah's there are doing a wonderful job- but knowing that another mom is there, hugging potentially on MY little girl just so moved me.

I'm so excited. God help me get through all this paperwork!