I've had this post rattling around in my brain for a long time now...it has to with contesting.
I started to take an active interest in online contests in September 2007. I found a couple of sites that made it easy to find and enter them. About 2 weeks after starting I won a gift card to Ebay and that hooked me. I started spending any spare moment I could entering everything I laid my eyes on. I lived to check my e-mail and blog in the morning to see if I'd won and even got up at 4am occasionally to up my odds (supposedly) in some instant wins. I got greedy, dreaming of all the things I could have/buy. It became something that cut into interactions with my kids, spouse, and friends.
So, I changed my habits. I learned when to get up and walk away. I've limited my time to 2 hours tops on my entering and I approach this as my job. I started to ask God to sit with me again. THAT was key for me. Waaay back in September I'd told God I was only going to do this if I could bless other people through it (giving as gifts baby things, books, gift cards, etc). He reminded me of this in many wins that were things I could only give away.
I HAVE to keep Him in the center because in this area of life every win is in His hands. If I win any of these "randomly" drawn contests, He's allowing me to. I've always been one to love it when He blessed in amazing and unexpected ways.
Here's some of the ways that blessing has flowed out of it:
-around Christmas, I won many things that I could give to our kids. This blessed their Christmas.
-I've given baby things to two wonderful mothers (1 boy, 1 girl) who don't have lavish amounts to spend on their kids.
-I've been able to buy household products even when the paycheck is tight
-Since my son's birthday is next month amazingly my child winnings are more boy oriented.
I have so many great stories of being able to give gifts to people around me because of this.
I want to thank www.ContestBlogger.com , Laura Williams Musings (www.laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com ) and www.Contestgirl.com for providing such great sites with which to access contests. God is using you to accomplish His purpose for some of us.
I thank God for all the crazy avenues He uses to show His providence.
Have any of you seen His hand in your winnings?
Have you struggled with the balance of it all?