Coupons: A Family Tradition

By Bonita Y. McCoy

Coupons saved my way of life.

When my oldest son was a baby, we lived in a neighborhood that had sidewalks. This was the first house we had owned, and money was tight. Because we were a one-car family, I would take the baby out for a stroll in the afternoons just to get a break.

I began to notice on recycling day that many of my neighbors didn’t keep their coupon booklets but rather tossed them in with the other recycling. It took a bit of nerve, but if I spotted the booklets on top of the bins, I stopped and pulled them out. We needed all our pennies, and coupons were one way I could help cut the cost of our groceries.  After all, I was a stay at home mom, and I wanted to do my part.

Over the next several months, I began to find more and more of the booklets at the top of the bins. My neighbors were becoming aware of my weekly walks on recycling day and made the effort to make the coupons accessible for me.

Their ministry to my little family lasted for nearly two years until we moved.

During this time, my aunt in Mississippi also began sending me an encouraging note along with coupons for diapers and other items that she knew I used. Through the generosity of my aunt and neighbors, I was able to keep our grocery bill within our budget.

Today, coupons play an important role as a ministry tool for me and my family. We have given coupons for diapers and formula to new mothers and young families, and we have sent specific coupons to friends when it was a product that we knew they used often.

Within my family, I exchange them with my mother-in-law, and on the flip side, I pass them along to my own daughter-in-law.  They have become a family tradition, of sorts. Even my youngest son knows to ask for a coupon before going to get a haircut. For us, couponing works.

Five Coupon Tips:

  • Don’t buy items just because you have a coupon. The idea is to save money. If the store brand is cheaper or the coupon is for something you don’t normally use, it won’t save you money.
  • Team up with a buddy. Nobody can keep up with all the sales. Find someone who is interested and swap coupon booklets every week or two.
  • Don’t be an extreme coupon-er if it isn’t you. Do what fits your life style. Some people have notebook binders; others like me have the wallet-sized coupon holder that fits in your purse.
  • Put your coupons somewhere, like in your purse or your car, so you’ll have them with you when you’re out. The number #1 problem with using coupons – leaving them at home.
  • Remember coupons can be used as a ministry tool. You can use them to purchase needed items for food banks or homeless shelters, or you can find a neighbor who could benefit from your unused coupons and share with them, like my neighbors did for me.

Coupons have played a vital role in the life of my family. They are a McCoy tradition. We use them to save money for sure, but more than that, we use them to bless others.

Click to tweet: Coupons saved my way of life.

Writing Prompt:  The coupon made me think of my neighbor Lenita…


Hello! I’m Bonita Y. McCoy. I hail from the Great State of Alabama where I live on a five-acre farm with three horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who I’ve had for over twenty-five years. I am a mother to three mostly grown sons and one beautiful daughter-in-law who joined us from Japan. I love God, and I love to write. My blog is an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit.

www.beautifulpiecesofgrace.blogspot.com

3 Steps to Living Debt-Free

By Randy Tramp

mombizcoach

We were 30,000 dollars in debt. We needed out—fast.

That began a journey of discovery. For the next few minutes, I’d like to relate to you my findings.

Starting with credit cards. Not only did we need to pay them off, but we also needed a new mentality; one, I’m proud to have obtained.

(1)  Pay off your credit cards monthly.

It may sound like a simple thing, but unless you have this cemented into your thinking, you’ll never rise to financial freedom.

To get our cards paid off, we tackled one at a time. With laser determination, we conquered the highest interest card. Once zeroed, we directed all the money to the next one. It snowballed until we had every card paid off.

Today it feels good to get a monthly reward check.

We didn’t stop there.

(2)  Make payments to your savings account.

With the credit cards paid off, we had extra money each week. Immediately that extra money was designated. Emergency fund. Car savings and regular savings.

Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies. Having extra cash when something breaks down keeps a family in smooth waters. You may be asking, “We have a hard time paying our bills, how can we save extra?” Let me answer that, by saying this: “Start with a small amount and be consistent.” If it’s ten dollars a week, keep putting that amount in your savings. Over a year’s time, it’ll be over five hundred dollars. Put more in – well you can do the math.

We’ve saved thousands of dollars over the years by paying for our vehicles with cash. How? We make monthly car payments—to our savings account, then use that money to buy a car.

(3)  Pay Extra on your Mortgage.

You’d be surprised at how a few extra dollars to your mortgage interest adds up. It does.

I’ve calculated my mortgage considering my retirement. When I hit that age, both our houses will be paid off.

The last thing I want to talk about is giving. I know it’s a non-stopper in conversations. That’s why I put it last, even though it should be first.

We’re wired to be selfish and self-centered. Nothing flows when we live in that nature. Giving creates a flow, allowing God to bless. I’m not speaking give a dollar and get two back. Blessings come in all different forms.

Give, and it will be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 (NIV)

Our journey was one step at a time. Are you ready to join me?

Click to tweet: Lowered stress happens when you plan for emergencies.

Writing Prompt: Think of a way one of your characters in your current WIP can give a blessing, expecting none in return. Write it.


Randy Tramp is a freelancer, writing articles for newspapers and magazines. He’s just published his debut novel, Night to Knight.
He served in the Navy for eight years, supervised inmates at a Federal prison for twelve years and ministered as a children’s Pastor for twelve years. During this time, while on a missions trip, he taught African’s about children’s ministry.
His passion is to see families strengthened and relationships restored. He and his wife Kim are parents of eleven children (eight adopted) and five grandchildren, ranging in ages from two to thirty-two.
You can connect with Randy at:

Night to Knight

night-to-knightSpecial Forces Mark Steele commands an operation to save two American Missionaries. He’s injured and dismissed from the Special Forces. Not wanting to take a desk job, the Navy discharges him. Mark becomes discouraged until he discovers a new purpose in life—locate and return abducted children to their family.

To protect his wife from emotional stress, Mark doesn’t tell her. During one of Mark’s missions, Kaitlyn finds a crumbled paper in the wastebasket next to his desk. She calls the number and hears a female’s voice, then Mark’s voice in the background. “We’re a married couple headed to Phoenix,” Mark says…

Read more about Randy’s book here.


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Memorial Day-A Time for Remembrance

By Steve Connolly – Alabama Metal Art

Marked as the official start of Summer, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. It is, however, the day we all should remember and honor all Americans who lost their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Growing up in a small New England town, I vividly remember marching in the Memorial Day Parade. We would line up at the cemetery just outside of town. Many of the town’s residents stood around the gravestones waiting for the program to start. Soon, a lone trumpeter would begin playing taps. It always gave me chills to hear. After a brief word and a prayer, the band would come alive with a patriotic march. Our march into town, although several miles, was always fun. It was good to see people waving flags, and clapping as we marched by.

Looking Back a Ways

For our family, Memorial Day held a tradition for us in the way of planting our summer vegetable garden. We kept our fingers crossed that the Northern New England weather would cooperate and we would not have to worry about any rogue frosts. Mom and I would be out in the dirt on our hands and knees carefully measuring the depth and spacing of each seed. Being amateur farmers at best, we needed all the luck we could muster when it came to gardening. Planting took us hours to get it all done, but once it was finished, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. Surprisingly, we had great success with our vegetable gardens.

New Traditions with a Young Family

As I got older and had a family of my own, new traditions were started. Moving to a new town now made me an onlooker of parades instead of a participant. Our family would stand along the parade route waving and clapping as floats and bands went by. The kids loved parades as many of the float riders would throw candy to all standing on the roadside. Being in a small town when the parade was finished, we would walk home up the hill laughing and chasing each other. Our kids always loved these family times. Later that afternoon, the grill would be fired up for a small family feast in the back yard. Hot dogs, chips, cold watermelon and ice-cream were carried out to the picnic table. Often, I would look at that ole picnic table and think, someday I have got to paint this thing. 🙂

Fireworks at the Lake

Throughout the day, the excitement would build in anticipation of the evening fireworks show. Every Memorial Day, the town would present an extraordinary light show for all who gathered around the lake in the center of town. Watching fireworks set off from the middle of the lake was always exciting. Not only did the sky light up with many colors but the lake water did as well. Some years we would watch from a park across the lake. I laugh now when I think of a friend who would give us a bang by bang commentary on the fireworks. In the later years when the kids had grown and moved out of the house, I would sit in our upstairs window and watch the fireworks. I would guess it is an advantage of living in a small town where everything is close together.

A Big Change in Location

Moving to Alabama in 1989 gave me another perspective on how people celebrate Memorial Day.  “Alabama Jubilee” was the phrase that kept crossing my path. Hearing it so often, I had to find out what it meant. Research pointed to the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic held at Point Mallard Park in Decatur, Alabama over the Memorial Day weekend.

In fact, this year’s celebration will be its 40th year. Thinking back to our first visit to the Jubilee, I was taken back by the number of balloons and how beautiful they were. It was dreamlike seeing these large balloons inflate and slowly ascend into the morning sky. If my memory is correct, there must have been over 50 balloons participating in the Jubilee that day.

These days we find ourselves gravitating toward a quieter celebration with family and friends. It is fun to sit out on the back deck watching the young ones running around the yard. Having fun with water balloons, checking out the latest addition to the farm animals, or running circles around the yard in the go-cart. It gives us a chance to sit back and ponder our many blessings. It is a time for us to realize that the freedom to have these blessings is because of the many who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives. May we never forget or take them for granted.

Click to tweet: May we never forget the sacrifices made by our military.

Writing Prompt: Consider adding a Memorial Day celebration to your novel or short story.


Steve Connolly works for Alabama Metal Art and would like to share a little about the company.

Who is Alabama Metal Art? We are a small business located in the Shoals Area of Alabama in the city of Florence. We are a close-knit group of employees, who work together to provide a unique product for our customers.  Each one of our metal art products are individually crafted for you.

Our product line includes but not limited to:

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Joy in Adversity

We are so happy to have my friend, Edie Melson, share her beautiful story about family…

By Edie Melson

I’ve come to realize that the seeds of faith begin their journey to the light, in the dark. As the mother of a former Marine, I’ve been through the painful process of blooming in adversity.

Neither I nor my husband come from a military family, so our son’s decision to enlist straight after high school caught us off guard. We weren’t ashamed or disappointed in him, although we were worried about where this decision could take him. But we could see his sincere desire to follow God’s leading in his life and knew that where ever this road led, God would see him through.

But the week I said goodbye to him as he got ready to leave for his first deployment in Iraq, all those thoughts of faith and how God would take care of him fled. I found myself engulfed in a terror so deep it colored every corner of my world a murky gray.

Throughout the last couple days I had with him, I was overcome with fear and uncertainty. As we sat down to eat, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time I’d share a meal with him. As he posed for a picture with his brothers, in the back of my mind was the fear that this would be the last picture I’d ever have of him. All through that time, the what-ifs continued to crowd out the faith I thought I had.

Then he was gone—half a world away—fighting an enemy whose main focus was on killing him. It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him, I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I couldn’t. So I did the one thing I could do. It became my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength.

I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

I learned to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. Often times they weren’t even words. They truly were the groanings we read about it in Scripture (Romans 8:26-27).

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew lay just beyond the darkness.

And my course of last resort became my strength, It became the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. When the fears threatened to overwhelm me, I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself.

The final harvest of that time of darkness came to fruition May 12, 2015,  just after Mother’s Day. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. How I longed for just such a book during that dark time. Now God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war.

I can say with confidence, never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now.

Click to tweet: Prayer: my course of last resort became my strength.

I’d love to know how you get through the dark times and find a way to bloom. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


While My Soldier Serves

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

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Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or other writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her passion to help those who are struggling find the strength they need to triumph is reflected in the characters she creates and the insight she shares. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find her books on Amazon.com.

3 Questions Wednesday Needs You!

April has arrived in a hurry and we’re still excited about our plans for the blog for the rest of 2017.We’ve been talking about YOU! We still have several interview spots and also some guest post spots to fill. One of the ways we can help you is through the online presence and publicity you gain when you’re a part of our blog.

Th Writing Prompts blog has scattered places open for Wednesday interviews from May through December. And also spots where you take our monthly topic and write a guest post. That’s good for all of you writers, bloggers, and authors. Why?

  • Visibility
  • Free publicity
  • Expanded reach
  • Book releases
  • Books & WIPs on virtual display
  • Advertise with buy links
  • New readers via book giveaways
  • Readers getting to know you
  • Makes it easy for potential readers to find and connect with you

Would any of these marketing strategies help you? Well, we offer these for a very low price. Absolutely FREE. All you have to do is contact us through a comment below, or use our contact tab [Click Here]. Let us know you’re interested in participating in 3 Questions Wednesday or write a guest post.

A few facts about 3 Questions Wednesday interviews:

There are only three questions, so it’s quick and easy. We’ll need the following: publicity photo, short bio, book cover, book blurb, buy links, and links to you (your social media, author page, etc.).

Contact us today. Spaces fill quickly.

And let’s not forget our readers! If you’re not a published writer, you are a reader. Many of our authors give away free books. All you have to do is leave a comment on their 3 Questions Wednesday post to be entered in the giveaway. It’s that easy. And the authors respond to your comments. We encourage you to ask questions about their work. This is your opportunity to get to know them even better. Then follow them on their author page, and check out their other books, or works-in-progress.


Thank you!

New Release: Hope by Fay Lamb

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows.

Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.

The Transformation-Deadline Resolution

By Julie Arduini

butterfly-1518060_960_720Resolutions. Honestly, the word conjures up the image of a few years ago when I tried to find a parking spot the first Monday in January for my YMCA swim class. The lot was full with new members with their resolutions. By the third week, the parking lot was back to the regulars.

It’s probably apples and oranges, but I use the new year to have a theme. It’s often a word, sometimes two, that I am constantly on the lookout to see how it applies to my life. Previous words have been activation, chosen, preposterous, fierce, and perspective. This year?

Transformation.

My problem is I always try to define what the word will mean before the ball drops. I knew going into 2017 I was growing my hair out and using a deeper shade of red hair color. I’m hoping to use contacts and be done with glasses. We will become grandparents this year. But I know as true as these things are, God’s got something more for me with this theme.

As an author, I know I have my work cut out for me no matter how I look at the new year. Resolution or word of the year, I want to improve my craft. Find more dedicated readers who can spread the word about my books. Meet and pray with other women who have been impacted. Already I’ve come across readers who are transforming as they find freedom through surrender in Christ. How do I keep that momentum going? What are ways I can bring goals and transformation to my laptop?

new-years-eve-1941665_960_720

The biggest thing I’ve done is take my *iBloom planner and set some specific deadlines. I realized I didn’t pencil in previous years when a certain chapter should be written, or when I should revise something that was sent back by critique partners. With that kind of vague plan, I can see how I got sidetracked. I had written in goals for other aspects like answering emails and marketing. And before I knew it, those things bled into my writing time.

Will I perfect the process? Probably not. I missed a couple writing goals for one project as I shuffled kids to medical appointments. I need to give myself grace. However, I also need to keep the YMCA emptier-lot-in-late-January visual close in mind. I don’t want to let go of my self-imposed deadlines. The transformation I want to see at the end of 2017 should be a positive one. I really believe creating deadlines for my writing will help me get there.

Do you keep deadlines for yourself? Do you have a difficult time meeting them?

Writing Prompt:  Chelsea had the mall’s gate nearly closed for the tween store called The Jewelry Box when she heard heavy breathing and footsteps coming in her direction. Chelsea turned and saw a woman with a stroller blazing toward her. The stranger stopped short of the gate, panting. “Please, I need your help. Let me inside the store before…”

*The iBloom link is an affiliated one where I receive a small royalty off any purchase.


december2016daycareJulie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—chocolate. She’s the author of the re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

Connect with Julie on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Goodreads, and Amazon. Check out her monthly newsletter here.


Entangled: Surrendering the Past

Book #2, Surrendering Time Series

entangledfinal“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”

Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son’s father is back in their lives. 

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He’s the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will’s ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He’s bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?

Purchase Link:  Amazon (Kindle and Print):  http://www.amazon.com/Entangled-Surrendering-Past-Time/dp/0692713476/

Entangled is book #2. Although it can standalone, if you’d like to read Entrusted: Surrendering the Present first, click here: https://www.amazon.com/Entrusted-Surrendering-Present-Time/dp/0692709177/