Some Days

Some days I ache to be a mother. After trying for so many months, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep from slipping down a path of sadness and defeat. It isn’t easy. And I won’t begin to pretend like it is.

Some days I wish I could go back to December (see previous post I Was Pregnant) and do things differently. Eat better, exercise more, drive safer, pray harder… But I have to know that part of my story (as written by God) was to not be a mother yet. Its not my time. Again, this isn’t easy. And I won’t pretend like it is.

Some days I sit around and watch Netflix until my brain turns to mush. I get on pinterest and look up new things to do. I bake a tray of brownies- not for eating, just to make the apartment smell nice and to get the oven on and warming the place up. This isn’t productive. And I know that.

Some days I pull out my laptop and start typing. For no apparent reason with no clear direction. I just start. Its a similar exercise as writing in a diary for me. It makes the dreariness of a cold wet day seem less dreary. Makes the loneliness of being home alone fade. This isn’t the same as real social interaction. And I know that.

Some days I begin to think introspectively. I pick at myself or build myself up. No rhyme or reason why I go one way or the other. Just being a girl I guess. Some days happy, some days sad. Some days pretty, some days not my best.

Although these are some of the feelings I experience on my “some days”, they are not my every day. Negativity, sadness, and unproductive behaviors are a choice. And although some days I slip up and choose them… the everyday is what’s most important.

The everyday choice, despite sadness or laziness, to be the person God has created me to be is important.

The decision to see joy in these days because, despite sadness or laziness, they are a gift from Him is important.

The choice to live with joy is what is most important.

So, on this some day, I choose embrace my Netflix binge, bake the brownies without eating them, cry a little, smile a little, enjoy the company of my puppy, and accept the ache and pain as a not-yet mother. I choose to rejoice in my sufferings, knowing that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5)

The Big 5-Oh

Sunday was the big day! The day I coordinated my 50th wedding 🙂

It feels like I have been doing this longer than I have, but wedding coordinating for the past 6 months has been so great. It has taught me so much about different people, different cultures, different seasons (at least half the seasons!).

So in honor of my 50th wedding, I figured I’d make a list of the things I have learned in this job.

1. Different cultures have different superstitions. I assumed everyone would think the way I did- things like the groom can’t see the bride until she is coming down the aisle. Some people do first looks, some won’t let brides take part in rehearsals because it is bad luck, some people jump over a broom at the end of the ceremony, some have to have the guestbook in the chapel, some in the reception area.

2. There really isn’t such a thing as “Traditionally” anymore. All families are different. All couples are different. All opinions of “traditional” are different and because of that, there is no “traditionally” that will work for everyone.

3. People’s faces when we bring wine to the chapel are priceless. At our venue, its not a church, just a chapel for the ceremony. But the number of people who drop their jaws and giggle when we bring wine in or some slips a curse word is pretty funny.

4. As a coordinator, you will get hit on by drunk groomsmen. And sometimes sober ones.

5. The groomsmen will be embarrassed that they hit on you when the realize  you are already married.

6. “Bridezilla” is a condition like the flu. It lasts 24 hours and the beautiful bride is back to normal. Most brides just have moments. And most of those moments are because they are stressed out. And most of the stress comes from really silly things- bridesmaids haven’t altered their dresses yet, they haven’t decided on their favors, their photographer complained to them about the amount of sunlight during the photo time… Most snap out of this. Most.

7. It is more fun for me when I know the couple. Show me engagement photos; tell me how you met; I want to know what you do for a living, where you from, what your families will be like when they all come to town. That is a connection that friends have and I like coordinating my friends weddings!

To be honest, I have learned  much more than this on a day to day basis but this is what has flowed from my fingertips to the keyboard. Its been such a fun time working in this job and I will continue helping couples to the best of my abilities!

Wonder what I will learn by my 100th…

Debt Free!

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So by now, many of you have asked and are wondering how we did it. How did my husband and I pay off $24,000 in student loans in a year.

I’d like to start by giving credit to the one who made it all possible. God. It is because of our Heavenly Father’s care and persistence with opening our hands, hearts, minds, and wallets, we would not have been able to conquer such a lofty goal. It’s safe to say, without Him, none of our goals would be possible.

That being said, the Lord showed us several ways we could be responsible with our money and flow of money.

Several things influenced our decisions. First, Dave Ramsey. I had read other blogs about debt payment plans and we did buy his book: Total Money Makeover. To be totally transparent and honest, we did not read the whole book (which made me feel like we were to a great start- spend money on a book to make you manage money better and never read the book you spent money on…). Without reading it, we did get a good understanding on a few of his key points.

1. Keep $1000 in your savings account for “safety”- in case of a car accident or unexpected medical bills- we altered this a bit and also opened a CD account through USAA for our “house fund”. The CD account was one we could only add to but were not able to tap into at all until 6 months after opening it. It accrues money at a much higher interest rate. We still kept this account low because we were focusing on the debt.

2. His snowball method. This was the part of his plan that made the biggest impact. The first thing we did was line up all the debt in order from smallest debt to largest debt. Because I had taken loans out each semester, they were broken up into 5 parts ranging from $3000-$7000. You then pay the minimum amounts for each of the debts except for the smallest, which you put all of your “Debt Payment Money” towards. Once the smallest debt is paid, you put all the remaining money towards the next smallest, and so on. Eventually, the amount you are paying towards each individual debt “snowballs” to a larger and larger amount.

3. Deciding how much our “Debt Payment Money”, we looked at our monthly income, subtracted all our necessary bills (rent, phone bill, average electric/gas/water, groceries, etc.). Basically took our monthly income and subtracted our cost of living. Then we put EVERY bit of the remaining money towards debt. In order to stay diligent and on top of things, I made payments every paycheck rather than once a month.

I’m a numbers person so in case you are like me and want a visual, here is the “math” behind what we did (for example purposes, I am using arbitrary numbers):

Monthly Income ($5000)-Cost of Living ($3500)= Debt Payment Money ($1500)

Loan 1: Smallest Debt Amount ($1000 with minimum payment of $100)
Loan 2: 2nd Smallest Debt Amount ($2000 with minimum payment of $200)
Loan 3: 2nd Largest Debt Amount ($3000 with minimum payment of $300)
Loan 4: Largest Debt Amount ($4000 with minimum payment of $400)

Debt payment money-$400 for Largest Debt Payment= $1100
$1100- $300 for Second Largest Debt Payment= $800
$800- $200 for Second Smallest Debt Payment= $600

$600 is how much you put towards the smallest debt amount $1000. You’ll notice that that is 6 times the amount of the minimum payment and you would pay off the first bill in 2 payments! This helps tremendously because you will accrue less interest!

Once the first debt is gone, you do the same process, just putting the remaining amount of debt payment money towards the new Smallest Debt Amount:

Debt payment money-$400 for Largest Debt Payment= $1100
$1100- $300 for Second Largest Debt Payment= $800
$800 is the new remaining debt payment amount that you would put towards the loan “2nd Smallest Debt Amount”

Its pretty simple from there! Mathematically speaking. It is not however “easy”. We were on a very strict budget for quite some time because we were paying off so aggressively. This was hard and at times extremely stressful. We did learn little things about ourselves through this venture; things like it was necessary to put into our “Cost of Living” a small “date night fund”. This was just important to our marriage as it ensured that we made a very intentional effort to go out to treat ourselves and spend quality time together.

The other portion of debt payment that is really important- make sure you take tithing money out of your “Cost of Living” first! If you don’t, it makes it that much harder to live with open hands financially. This was HUGE and key to our success. We had to be open handed with our money and FULLY trust the Lord to take care of us.

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I am very transparent and open about more “serious” matters so if you read this and have questions or are confused, let me know! I’d love to walk you through it or help. Please just be sure that you are praying about it and asking the Lord to lead you in a responsible way!

That is all 🙂 Happy Monday!

I Was Pregnant

Let me start by saying, this is not an easy post. It is probably sad to some. But putting “pen to paper” is somewhat therapeutic for me.

On November 16th, 2014, I looked at the calendar app on my phone and realized, I was supposed to start my period on the 15th. That was only a day late. But after 13 months of trying to get pregnant, I had a feeling. So on November 16th, I stopped at CVS on my way home and got a test. The good kind. The kind that digitally tells you if you are or are not pregnant and tells you how far.

I didn’t mention to Michael I had bought the test. I wanted to surprise him if we were. Honestly, all gut feelings aside, I had really low hopes and still did not expect a positive- its hard to imagine getting one after 13 months of negative tests.

But I got it. On November 17th at 7:16AM, after 9 months of trying, and 4 months of doctor assisted help, I had gotten the long awaited positive.

I was going to wait and tell Michael in some cutesy way worthy of pinterest but I just couldn’t help it. I went back to bed shaking and crying from joy, woke him up immediately to tell him. Assuming I was shaking from cold he told me to get under the covers to which I replied, “Ok, but can I tell you something cool?”. Thats when I told him we were pregnant. Its a grainy photo, but we were so excited!

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We carried through the next two days we had off together shopping for christmas and just being excited about the baby!

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We invited family over and told them all by praying for the meal and at the end, thanking God for the baby. The reactions were priceless: from shocked looks to questions like “What baby?”

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On December 2nd we had our first ultrasound. The baby was too tiny to find but we found the proof of the baby and were able to schedule a follow up appointment to see it again. That was going to be December 12th.

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We didn’t make it to December 12th.

On December 4th, I noticed some light bleeding so I called my doctor. She told me to monitor it but it sounded ok because there wasn’t any pain and the bleeding was minimal. Even after this reassurance, I called again just to hear it again. Call it maternal instincts if you want, but I still felt like something was wrong.

And I was right. At 3:24AM on December 5th, I woke up in severe pain and with severe bleeding. I knew something wasn’t right. I woke Michael up and we prayed, but there was nothing we could do but wait until morning when the doctor opened.

We were at the doctors office by 8:21AM on December 5th. That’s 9 minutes before they even open.

My doctor took me back and confirmed my biggest fears. We had lost the baby.

Immediately, I went into a state of sadness and guilt. Trying to think of all the things I had done in the past 48 hours between our ultrasound on December 2nd and the bleeding on the 4th. What did I do to hurt this tiny creation?

I began apologizing to Michael profusely. I lost our baby. The one we had worked and waited for for so long.

I cried, because what else can you do? Although only 6 weeks along, it was a death in our family.

I thought of what I did or could have done and begin to list the things that could have caused this.

I asked the doctor what we can do. Do we have options? Will this happen again? Is it likely we’ll have another LONG wait?

This was the worst day of my life.

But I had to find comfort. Somewhere there had to be something to make losing the tiny little human you were so excited about a little easier. I will admit, although it hurt, the emotional pain was far worse than the physical pain.

That’s when Michael, being the amazing husband he is, told me:

Our baby is in the presence of God now.

That’s it. There is my comfort.

It still pains me to think of the loss and scares me that it may still happen again if and when we do get pregnant again. It’s still a very fresh wound that stings and hurts when I move. It’s a pain I will always carry, knowing I lost our first child. But in this situation, blame helps no one, too much grief creates eternal sadness, and tons of crying just makes your face hurt after a while.

I share this, not for sympathy, but for coping. Its a selfish post for me to express how I feel. It is also shared in hopes that, if someone else miscarries and needs hope, they can read that one line “Our baby is in the presence of God” and find the same comfort I did. In times of such struggle, God is the only way I can imagine ever making it through. His strong hands hold me and lift me up. He wipes my tears and brings me hope that there will be a future bundle of joy, and if not, we will still somehow be parents.

I apologize for such early morning sadness but I appreciate prayer, not only for me and my husband, but for everyone else who suffers such a loss.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  -Romans 15:13

Good Eats

I enjoy cooking. I wouldn’t call myself a professional chef or even a novice chef, I just like reading the recipe and making the food come together and work. Its not fun when it doesn’t work, but last night was a huge success as I tried 7 new pinterest recipes!

I have always loved pinning new recipes but rarely get to try them since most make way to much for me and my husband to eat alone. So we invited our entire families over- both sets of parents and both sets of siblings.

It was so fun getting the opportunity to cook all day and serve our families! I highly recommend each recipe below- they were all delicious!!

Without further ado, our menu is below!

Appetizers:

Salad

  • Italian Inspired Salad (This I made up based on a compilation of salads- I had lettuce mixed with croutons, pepperoni cut into smaller slices, sliced black olives, feta cheese, and mediterranean Italian dressing…I thought it was great!)

Main Course:

Dessert:

So there you have it! Bon Appetite!

Simple things.

Weddings can be so great. Huge. Extravagant. Expensive. Stressful.

But this weekend, I had a bride who experienced a whole other side of weddings. And showed me a new side. A side of weddings that was simple. Relaxed. Very outside the norm.

2 Bridesmaids, 1 Groomsman, asked for no gifts but if anything, just a card, minimal decorations, a basic menu, no excess floral arrangements…

I had to take a post to brag on this particular wedding a bit because the couple was just so incredible. Not only was the bride so laid back about every detail, she made the wedding about everyone else beside herself. While getting her ready to walk down the aisle, she saw some late comers, got so excited, and said “hold on, I have to walk down first but I cannot wait to give you all a hug!”  The bride said that! To people who were late!

The groom was a perfect match for the bride- so excited to be married and share this with everyone in attendance. This was evident in their choice to share communion with all of their guests. Each guest went up to the bride and groom to receive the elements and be personally thanked by the couple. I couldn’t even stay in the chapel, I had to walk out before I cried. I was so touched! When I asked the bride about their choice, she told me the first time she went to a wedding that did that, she just felt so honored and wanted each of her guests to feel just as important.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

-1 Peter 4:10-11

This was a gifted couple and they used their gifts, and continue to use their gift, to glorify God.

It was so heartwarming and amazing to see such a happy couple start their marriage in such a simple and serving way.

It was

Commit Yourselves

Proverbs 16:3

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

In the midst of life changes and big decisions, it is often hard to determine what is the “right thing to do”. We find ourselves saying “Just give me a sign!” or “If only I had a crystal ball!”

But the truth of the matter is, life isn’t a highway (sorry Tom Cochrane & Rascal Flatts) and there are no signs and crystal balls just don’t exist. There’s no time travel to change the things we do or have done. We just have to make a decision, stick with it, and see what happens.

Proverbs 16:3 & 16:9 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans… The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.”

The entire chapter emphasizes this key point: in the midst of a big life changing decision making period, not only trust in the Lord to lead you and take care of you, but commit to Him through your actions and the decision will be “the right one”. If you make all decisions, big and small, for Him, you will be doing the right thing simply because you are glorifying him through it.

This may not seem new to you, it certainly isn’t new to me, but it is something that I need a constant reminder for- Trust God and live for Him and he will take care of you.

Genesis 28:15

Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

And he promises to keep you and take care of you. Our faithfulness for His guidance and care, seems like more than a fair trade!

Another Wedding…

As most of you know, I am a wedding coordinator. Being in this industry is high paced, crazy busy, and at times insanely stressful.

October is a beautiful month to get married, and that being said, my october has been so busy. 2 weddings the first weekend, 3 the second, 4 this upcoming, and 3 the following… Like I said, busy.

Looking at this weekend and my calendar leading up to it, I have caught myself several times thinking, “Ugh, another weekend, another wedding. Just gotta make it through!”

You know how horrible that is!?

I realize that this is my job and everyone has their “another day, another dollar” moments, but my job is building and creating and organizing the most important day in a couple’s lives!

Every weekend, whether it is one wedding or 4, minor stress or pull my hair out, eat an entire sleeve of cookie dough stress, it is another opportunity for me to witness God joining 2 people for the rest of their lives.

Now I’m not going to pretend that every couple has God’s presence in their wedding or in their lives, but I do. So I figure, my mantra is: Another day, Another Dollar, Another chance to witness God’s joining of a couple that he designed and put together. Makes every day an exciting day in the office if you ask me 😉

In the Beginning…

After a short blogging hiatus, I felt inspired to write again this morning.

I decided to go back to the beginning of my Bible and read the very first chapters of Genesis, the ones where God is creating everything. As I read  “And God said, let the waters under the heavens be gathered together jot one place”, I got this image in my head of Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. The one where Mickey is wearing the sorcerer’s hat and controlling the waters… So I started thinking about the entire scene and how it illustrates this story pretty well. Now this is not necessarily what Walt Disney was thinking when he wrote this scene but it is just the image that came to my mind. And it kind of works. It’s a good visual for me.

So I was reading and kept imagining God as the sorcerer; giving life to everything, teaching it how to act, continually creating new and having control of what he had…

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I then imagined us as Mickey, acting in the moments when we think God isn’t there or He isn’t looking, and taking control over our own circumstances and trying to “play God” in a sense by putting on the hat and attempting to impose our own control.

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Now, if you remember Fantasia, Mickey has a grand old time wearing the sorcerer’s hat and having all the power and magic that goes with it, but in the end, Mickey is just like you and me: a sinful being that is not intended to control everything and even when he thinks he knows best, he in fact does not… when he does try to control everything, things go pretty wrong and the sorcerer must step in to clean everything up.

The same is with our relationship with God. Only He is powerful and knowledgable enough to wear the hat and control every situation. Occasionally, we try to put it on and work our own magic, without Him, we will not be successful. At least, no more successful than Mickey was when he lost control and flooded everything!

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Like I said, not what was intended of this scene. But to me (and my mind works in weird ways sometimes), it demonstrates well pieces of what the Creation story looks like and some glimpses at a relationship with God.

Birthday Bliss (and some great birthday deals!)

Overflowing with happiness as I prepare to write this post. So touched by every person who called, texted, and posted to facebook wishing me a happy birthday.

More than that, I want to especially call out my husband who has been the number one adventurer, searching for the perfect way to celebrate this new year of life for me. I’ll confess, I haven’t been the easiest to plan for. He did so much research on local attractions, finding who does good birthday deals, who is close enough that it is feasible, what military discounts are out there. After weeks of pondering, we decided that the day of would be the perfect time to pick a plan!

So, on the morning of September 14, 2014, the 24 anniversary of my birth, I awoke to a beautiful handwritten card and a homemade red velvet ice cream cake! So creative!

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We didn’t cut into it for breakfast (don’t worry, mom, I did learn something as a kid!) but instead went to church and enjoyed listening to some of God’s word and reflecting on it.

After church, we went with plan A: GA Aquarium!

For all my frugal friends out there, The Georgia Aquarium gives free admission to Georgia residents on their birthday. They also give a small military discount!

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Being the first time I had ever been to the aquarium, I was pleasantly surprised at how cool it was! My favorite part was definitely the little otter part. They were so cute, I decided that’s what I want for my next birthday, a pet otter 😉

So, we enjoyed the aquarium for about 3 hours (perfect amount of time in my opinion) and then went to Provino’s Italian Restaurant where you get a free meal on your birthday! My Shirmp and Scallaps made an excellent dinner! (and will also make excellent leftovers!)

We ended the night with some quality time, finally cutting into the delicious cake my husband made for me!

Before I end this post, I just wanted to list a few other birthday discounts out there for all interested:

  • If you register a Starbucks Gift Card, Starbucks will give you a free drink the month of your birthday- totally indulged in a pumpkin spiced latte 🙂
  • Grab a Chickfila Calendar at the end of 2014 and you will not only get your calendar card with freebies each month, you will also be entitled to a free cookie during your birthday month! Worth it!
  • Get approved for a LOFT store card (which you can pay off online or in the store) and they send you a $15 coupon in the mail! Can’t wait to go shopping 🙂

I am so happy and so blessed to have so many friends and family wishing me the best in the year to come. Excited for 24, and ready to enjoy every minute, one day at a time!