Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Six days

I have 6 days left in the States. 6.

It's all happened so fast. Too fast sometimes. I have all these things i want to do and eat before leaving, and there just isn't time for it all. There are errands still to be done and lots of last minute things to buy. I haven't packed. There just hasn't been any time. We are now staying with my parents, so at least everything we're taking is in one place now.

Sarah and I are on a girls trip to Fredericksburg till tomorrow morning....i'll blog about it at some point.

I know the next few days are going to slip away all too quickly. I can't even think about leaving bc i get too stressed with all that needs to be done. I've been thinking there would be time for the goodbyes, meeting up with friends one last time, and eating that last chick fil a meal or last ice cream sundae......but i know it all won't happen. There are friends that i won't see. Meals that i thought i'd get to eat again. I thought my last few days here would be spent just sitting at home enjoying family. But life is busy and moving overseas isn't easy.

I'm struggling with saying good bye. i don't have a single doubt that we're doing the right thing.  We are obeying where Father has led us, and i know it's where we are supposed to be. Most days i'm beyond ecstatic to return to a place that i love and now consider home. But there are those times when i ache knowing that i will have to say good bye to my family. It kills me the most to leave my nephews. They are at the cutest age and it hurts to leave them.

Most good byes so far have been pretty unemotional for me. Not sure if i'm just in denial or what. But i do know that it will all catch up with me at some point. I'll have the breakdown, i'll cry. But right now there aren't many tears, it's almost a numbness. But i know that i can't carry all of these emotions forever. I'm going to have to let it out and become vulnerable. But probably not today.

Hear my heart......i have the deepest peace about leaving and a joy in my heart that can't be explained about our future. I am blessed beyond anything that Father is letting us leave and go to East Asia. But today.....today and the next few will be hard. The moments are going by too quickly and i want to just freeze time for a moment.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Thank you Dave

Let's backtrack about 15 months ago. Daniel and I had been married for about 3 months and thought we had it all figured out :)
We thought we had talked thru finances, were on the same page, same goals, and were being financially responsible. I've always been pretty organized and kept a balanced check book. So it alarmed me a bit when i realized that each month we were spending more than we were making, and our sparse savings account was getting smaller by the minute.

Enter Sarah and Mike.

They started Dave Ramsey a few years ago and were slightly annoying about it. Sarah was constantly telling me about their envelope system, how they used cash for almost everything, had a debt snowball, blah blah blah.

We got married in November 2009. Daniel had a credit card, i had a student loan, and we each had a car payment. By February 2010, we had close to $33,000 in debt. $33,000! Each month i would see the interest we were paying and get physically sick. I felt like we would never be able to make a dent in our debt. Looking at what we were making made it seem impossible.

Again, Sarah pointed out that they were a family of four living on just Mike's income. Not only were they okay, but they were really close to being debt free. They didn't live extravagantly, but they still took vacations and splurged on things every once in a while.

So during the great blizzard of 2010, Daniel and I read the Dave Ramsey book. We cried, we laughed, and we both realized that debt was an option. And we didn't have to sit by and do nothing. It WAS hard. Especially because it was easy to make the excuses that we didn't make enough money, or that we needed to put any extra money into savings 'just in case.'

But after reading The Total Money Makeover, we were hooked.

Mike helped us make a budget and any and every extra dollar went into paying off our smallest debt. The plan was to pay off our smallest debt first, then the next smallest, then the next, and so forth.

We used cash for groceries, eating out/entertainment, and our personal money. Daniel and i each got $50 a month for personal money. We could save it, spend it, or use it however we wanted. This made it so much easier, than having to check with the other person about if it was okay to buy a shirt from Target, or a new book or something.

We took out money twice a month for each of our envelopes. If it was the 13th and our grocery money was gone and we wanted to buy something to make pizza, we opted for something else instead. Some months were harder than others, but menu planning helped so much and made each dollar go further. It also kept us from eating out as much. If we already had a meal planned, it was much easier to eat at home and save $.

We eventually added a clothing envelope as well. It made it a lot easier to pay for new shoes, pants, etc. And it felt so much better paying cash for these items without messing up the budget.

We also only kept $1,000 in savings as our emergency fund. This was probably the hardest thing for me. i like money in savings. I (used to) didn't mind having debt if there was a nice number sitting in my savings account. But after reading TMM, it made sense to cut back on savings and focus on getting our finances under control.

Here are the details:

July 2010-  paid my car off
November 2010- paid off credit card
April 2011-  paid off Daniel's car
May 2011-   paid off my student loan

WE ARE NOW DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!
WE OWE NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!

I am still in shock that we paid almost $33,000 in 15 months and don't have any debt whatsoever. It is such an amazing feeling. Honestly, looking back Daniel and I both can't believe it actually happened. It was only because of Father's provision for us that we are now debt free. He gave us the desire, willpower, and financial means. We would not be moving to East Asia in 9 days if were still in debt. We are SO humbled and blessed to be where we're at.

I'm going to be honest, there were times when we would be invited to go eat or do something with friends, but had to turn it down because there wasn't money in the eating out envelope. Looking back, i don't think we ever went without or regret having to say no to somethings.

If you are in debt, i strongly encourage you to read The Total Money Makeover. It will truly change your life.

any other dave ramsey fans out there????


Monday, May 23, 2011

Road Trip Wrap Up

AKA days 15-17.

We left Thursday morning from  Upper Michigan and drove to Springfield, Illinois to stay the night. We got up early the next morning and drove to St. Louis to visit my grandma and aunt.

Here i am with Grandma Shirley (dad's mom). I hadn't seen her in about 15 years! It was so good to visit and have some time with her.

After a short visit, we got back in the car and drove to Eastern Arkansas to see friends Kirk and Carly. Remember they just got married not too long ago.

We ate pretty much the whole time we were there. Look at this food!!!

These veggies were cooked over the grill and i could have eaten all of them!

We spent the evening just catching up on life and enjoying being around good friends. There house is SUPER cute and Daniel and i struggled with not stealing it from them, ha!

Carly & Me

Kirk was called in to work Saturday morning, so the three of us just hung out and drove around to see the thriving metropolis of Wynne, Arkansas. Sadly, we had to get on the road to head 'home' to Oklahoma.

Our road trip was so much fun and i'm so thankful i was able to see all of my grandparents during this time. What's kind of funny is that Daniel and I drove about 3,000 miles over the course of the trip, went thru 12 states, had about 8 full days of driving, and only had music on for about 2 hours during that whole time!! We really just enjoyed the scenery, talking with one another and enjoying the time we had.

We are SO thankful to our friends and family who graciously hosted us and blessed us so much!!!

We had a great time, but are SO glad to be in our own bed, even if it's only for 5 more nights.

I'll be doing a post in the next few days to kind of update ya'll on where we are at in our move and that.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

Road Trip Day 13

13 days already, i know right, how long is this road trip?? ha!

Daniel and I went spent Tuesday morning downtown Marquette. They have really cute shops, bakeries, pubs, and touristy things to do. It was still in the 40's, but the sun was out and it didn't feel too cold.

We went to my fave place, Donckers. It is a candy shop that has been in town for about forever, my great grandma, grandma, and mom all grew up going to it. Isn't that crazy?? I always hear the stories of the fountain shop cherry cokes, amazing fudge, and old timey fun atmosphere. I make sure i always go there at least once when i'm in Marquette.

For lunch we went to a really cool Irish pub, called Wild Rover. They have so many unique dishes! I ended up trying the potato pancake w/ bacon and cheese, called a Boxty. I definitely had leftovers! And Daniel had the best EVER fish and chips. I wish this restaurant was more local to us, bc i would be there all the time!

Tuesday night we went to the youth guys Bible Study and shared with them. High school boys are a complete different world to me, i kept thinking 'oh my gosh, i might have one of these in 15-20 years, what will i do???' haha But they were so fun and gracious to us!

Here are some random pics from the rest of the week:

Pasties are huge in Upper Michigan. This is Daniel's first taste, he's a fan!!

Grandma and Grandpa!

This is my Aunt Cindy...she is a HOOT!!! She always has us laughing. She has run 13 marathons. I would love to be able to run just 1! She's so cool, and so fun to be around!

More to come from our travels back through Missouri and Arkansas!



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Road Trip Day 12

In case it's getting too confusing, this post is for Monday, May 16th.

Daniel and I drove out to Big Bay  to see my Grandpa & Louise. This is the view from their house:

We drove around Big Bay taking in all the sites and hearing the history of the town. My grandpa has lived up here for years and can show you all the houses he helped paint/build, the bridge he built 50 years ago that's still standing, etc....

We climbed up Sugarloaf Mountain and were able to see 360 degree view of Marquette. Don't let the sunshine fool you, it was barely in the 40's.

You can't really even capture how pretty the water is, it's insanely blue!

Tuesday we're going downtown to shop and visit the old time candy/soda shop i always visit when we come up here. I've been trying to save up my calories, ha!



Road Trip day 9-11

We got to my grandparents house in Marquette Thursday night and hit up the Bonanza. We spent the rest of the evening catching up and filling in Daniel on old stories and family jokes.

Friday was pretty gross and rainy. We drove around the Island, but it was too wet to get out and really look at anything. We had a relaxing day and then met up with some family for Friday nite fish fry.

Grandma, Aunt Mary Gail, Uncle Bud, Uncle Mike, Aunt Dottie, Grandpa, and Daniel.

We had the most fun this night! Uncle Mike is always making us laugh! My face almost hurt from having laughed so much! We had such a great time hearing all the old stories and catching up!

Saturday i ran in pouring down rain in 20/30 degrees. I didn't realize it was raining till i got outside and by the time you're already dressed and ready you might as well run! I did less than 3 miles. When i turned around halfway i was pretty miserable and so over the rain. But i did make good time because of it.

Speaking of running, i forgot to mention that i'm in LOVE with sweatybands! I've heard TPG and others rave about them, and i am SOLD! I've run in mine several times and love that it doesn't slip and really keeps all my bangs and little whispy hairs back.

After thawing out from my run, Daniel and i headed up to the town 'mall' and walked around for a bit. Not shocking, but we ran into my other Grandpa while there. It's a small town.

Saturday night we went to the church Bible study, and met a lady that is also probably a cousin. Are ya'll seeing the pattern here? :)

Sunday morning Daniel and i spoke at my Grandparent's church. They were very encouraging and it's always fun to share with others. We made another trip to Bonanza for lunch then enjoyed watching the OK Thunder grab the W in game 7.

Today we spent the day with my Grandpa & Louise from Big Bay. We drove around the bay, then hiked up a small mountain. There are SO many pics so that will have to be a separate post. But we did stop here for lunch....my mom worked here when she was a teen.

We're hanging out at McDonald's right now burning up their WiFi. It's hard to come by up here in the UP. But they make up for it with the Great Lakes.....



Monday, May 16, 2011

Road Trip Day 8

We got up Thursday morning and spent a few hours driving around and seeing Green Bay. We might've gone back to Lambeau field again.

SO proud!!!

Go packers!!

When we were done swooning over the stadium, we drove up to the U.P.-upper peninsula. where my grandparents live in Marquette, Michigan, anyone every been?? It's amazing and the people have the for real northern accent and say things like 'oh yeah you betcha.' It's so much fun! A ton of my mom's family lives here, and i'm pretty sure i'm related to most of the town. Case in point, we went to dinner last night at the Bonanza, and as we were sitting down a lady came over to talk to my Grandma, and then we realized we are more than likely related.

It's been rainy and cold here, but i'm hoping the sun comes out in the next few days so i can show Daniel the wonderful place that Marquette is. We used to come up here as kids and have the best time!

More to come from the UP!



Sunday, May 15, 2011

Road Trip Day 6 & 7

When we left Wyoming on Tuesday morning it was cold and it snowed later that day. We drove to Nebraska to see some family and it was 95. Go fig.

Sadly, this is the only pic i took on Tuesday. We had such a good time chatting it up with Daniel's cousins once we got to Nebraska, that i forgot to take any pics!! But we did have a wonderful time and loved seeing family!

It was a long drive to Wyoming. I've realized on this road trip that most gas stations have coffee stations with coffee mate creamer options. This works well for me on the road since i'm a coffee creamer addict. Nothing like finding good news like this weeks before leaving the country. Score.

Also, i have ALWAYS wanted something with my initials or monogram on it. This is the closest i've come so far, ha!

WISCONSIN!!! woo hoo!!!

We got up early on Wednesday to drive to Green Bay. For those of you who don't know, my mom's side of the family are HUGE Green Bay Packer fans. Like legit fans. A few of our relatives live one block away from Lambeau stadium. I'm pretty sure Green & Gold runs thru my veins. I have a cheesehead. There is no shame.

After getting to Green Bay, we headed to the only logical place.

I kind of entered a cheesehead high if you will. I was instantly giddy and talking nonstop about how great the Packers are, their history, the many Superbowls, my pride to be Nothern and so forth.

We ate at Curly's Pub INSIDE the stadium. i was pretty much beyond ecstatic at this point. It's like the place where dreams come true, ha!

Tuna melt with cheese, yes please!

I might've peed my pants a little from the excitement. ha, kidding.

After one of the best nights of my life EVER, we caught up on TBL at the hotel and stayed up till midnight talking. Our lives our changing drastically in 3 weeks, we have talk a lot about it, ha!



Saturday, May 14, 2011

Road Trip Day 5

We woke up  Monday morning and drove to Laramie, Wyoming to see Shelly & Matt. Shelly and I met our freshman year in college. We lived next door to each other. Shelly got engaged and got married summer of 2001, and I flew up to Wyoming to be in the wedding. That.was.10.years.ago. 10.

We hadn't seen each other since and i was SO excited that schedules and time worked out for us to see them! They have 2 really cute kids that we loved getting to know!

ummm can we say adorable?!?!

It took him a while to warm up to us, but we had so much fun when he did!

We went to Vedauwoo, which is a cool boulder/climbing/hiking place. It was getting kind of cold, but that didn't stop Daniel or Matt from scaling the big rocks!

After dinner, we played Just Dance on the Wii. Being that this was only my second time to ever use a Wii, i felt pretty good about how i did. Daniel, on the other hand schooled us and won every single game. This is my all time fave pic from the night.

Daniel and i loved hanging out with Shelly and Matt. I like to also refer to them as 'our kind of people,' -similar outlooks on life and desire for others to know and walk with Father. I love spending time with other couples who have kids, to learn from them, glean from their experience, etc...We loved Wyoming and can't wait to go back!



Monday, May 9, 2011

Road Trip Day 4

There are WAY too many pictures from today so i'll try to be brief. In my words, not the pics, ha!

Today is Mother's Day. It was kind of fun/strange to spend it with another couple that doesn't have kids. Don't worry, we called our mom's.

Daniel playing with Barley.

Ready to leave for church...

I love to renact senior photo moments. Chelsea was sweet to indulge me.

love this girl!

After church we headed to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. I actually went to Estes Park for the first (and only) time 10 years ago when i flew to Wyoming for my friend, Shelly's wedding. Sidenote....i get to see Shelly TOMORROW for the first time in 10 years!!!!!!!

We have had BEAUTIFUL weather this weekend in Colorado-high 70's and loving it!

The lovebirds.

At lunch in Estes Chels and I got flowers for Mother's Day.

Random, but there's this fudge shoppe called Laura's in Estes, and 10 years ago i got my picture taken exactly in this same place. Picture me without bangs and pre eye make up discovery.

After we walked around and ate our way through Estes, we drove up 10,000 feet in Rocky Mtn. Natl. Park to admire the snow and mountains.

Love this view!


It was kind of weird to be surrounded by snow but walking around in flip flops and shorts.

Look how high these drifts were!

We threw some snowballs and just played around for a while.

She's such a ham!

We love it here!!!

Chelsea and I are both bff with Amy. We wish she were here hanging out with us.

(it says 'hi amy')

We're sad our time with Chelsea and Dom is coming to a close. It's been so good to talk thru things in life, stuff we have in common, hard areas of life, and just goof around and have a good time. Tomorrow, we'll head to Wyoming to hang out with Shelly and Matt! We're so thankful for our friends that open their homes to us and treat us like family.

Love you guys!