Post-Valentine’s Date Night

My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. We know that it is a made up holiday created by card and candy companies to make money. Typically we do something small, have a nice dinner at home but we don’t do gifts. I usually get him a card and he usually gets me some flowers but that’s about it. This year, we spent Valentine’s day at home, like usual, enjoying a nice home-cooked meal and each other’s company. Thursday, however, we had the pleasure of seeing our favorite band play live at one of the coolest venues we have been to thus far.

Now, it has been almost 4 years (probably like three and a half) since we first saw them play a live show. My husband introduced me to The Ballroom Thieves, and we were able to celebrate our first dating anniversary in 2014 seeing them live. It was a great show at Cain Park in Cleveland, Ohio (similar setup to Blossom Music Venue), and we got to meet them at intermission and share how one of their songs was our song and that it was our anniversary. So they were not originally planning on playing our song “Save Me”, but after hearing our story they decided to play it and we were thrilled. Fast forward to this year and we finally got to see them live again.

The ended up playing at this really cool venue in Cleveland called the Music Box Supper Club. The venue is right on the water, and you can order drinks and dinner while you’re watching the concert. They also have a wonderful patio that looks like it would be great during the summer time. This particular night, however, it happened to be very foggy and raining and so it made the perfect backdrop to watch the band play. Everything from the valet, to the servers, to the food was excellent. We had an amazing time and once again got to say hello and meet our favorite band in person. That’s one of our favorite things about this band, is how much they appreciate their fans and that they take the time to say hello to you after a show and they are very talented! If you ever get a chance to check them out live, you definitely should, and as for the music venue, we will DEFINITELY be heading back there, whether it be for a concert or even just a date night dinner out. Thanks Calin (Cali), Devin and Martin for once again putting on an amazing show! We can’t wait to see you all again in concert soon!

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Out With The Old, In With The New… Goodbye 2017 & Hello 2018!

Good Morning! Happy Sunday! Can you believe that today is the last day of the year?! A whole year gone by! Where did this whole entire year go in the blink of an eye? If your year was anything similar to ours, it may have seemed that the year simply blew by way too quickly. This year was a wonderful yet difficult one, full of many different events and emotions, both good and bad.

With the way last year ended and the beginning of this year started, we weren’t sure what the year was going to bring us, or how we were going to make it through the year.

Our family suffered horrible losses starting in early January, all of them within one week of one another. That also bringing about memorial services and funerals. Even though the loss of family was hard, things started to look up after January. We celebrated new job opportunities, weddings, Easter, birthdays, packing meals with Feed My Starving Children to provide meals all over the world, I rescued 3 baby racoons from a sewer hole at our apartments on my birthday, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary as husband and wife, I got to experience Alive Fest for the first time and sit ON STAGE for Needtobreathe, my husband celebrated another birthday and we had an amazing vacation in Hocking Hills. This year the holidays were pretty low key, and we enjoyed that instead of rushing around to 10 different places and only getting to stay a short amount of time.

In addition to losing family this year, we also had friendships that shifted. Some friendships were lost in our lives, but we also gained new friendships and grew closer to friends that we weren’t as close with last year. As my husband and I reflect back on all this past year has brought us, we are extremely grateful for the people God has placed in our lives and for the relationships that he has helped grow and strengthen this last year.

As we prepare to head into another year, my husband and I think it is extremely important to review your last year and see where you made progress, where you can look back and have gratitude for the things you had this last year and see areas where you drifted this last year. Then you can head into the new year with goals to have health in different areas of your life, you can begin to take initiative for making progress throughout the next year in the different areas of your life, and you can make correction for the places that you have drifted in the last year of life. So below, my husband and I are going to share a resource with you, that if you want to copy it and use it to help reflect on the last year, you can do that. There are also some questions and a reminder to set goals for next year for each area of health. Some of them may not apply to you (singleness doesn’t apply to my husband and I, nor does parenting, at the moment, but parenting will apply one day)

(S/O to Pastor Ryan Rodeman for creating this easy to use template for everyone to use)

A Guide To Refocus for the Year

Take Time To Refocus

Keep these three points in mind as you look back on the past year:

1) Start with prayer. Prayer is key. Ask God to show you what he wants you to see as you look back

2) Reflection: What has happened over the past year? Take time to get above your life. Start by writing down major events in the categories below

3) Set goals for each area. Based on your reflection, you may find some areas need more attention than others.

As you go through this process, two things should happen:

  1. When you begin to see the areas you have made progress, stop to thank God for his work in your life. It is good to celebrate the victories he has given us.
  2. Inevitably areas will emerge where you have drifted. Don’t let this get you down. Ask the Lord to help you pursue health in the coming year.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH

–          Am I interacting with God’s word more or less than the year before?

–          When was the last time I read through the whole bible?

–          Have I been praying more or less than last year?

–          Am I praying daily?

–          Do I have a closer relationship with Christ than a year ago?

–          Are there areas of my life that I have not given Jesus control over?

–          What did God teach me over the last year?

–          Am I more motivated to become like Jesus today than I was a year ago?

–          How is my faithfulness in attending church services?

Set Goals for Spiritual Health

FAMILY LEADERSHIP

–          What’s our culture like as a family?

–          What are our strengths?

–          What are our weaknesses?

–          Are we a thankful family?

–          Is service part of our family?

–          Are we an active family?

–          Have we worked on our family this year?

–          Has entertainment or something else taken too high a priority in our lives?

Set Goals for Family Leadership

MARRIAGE

–          How is our marriage?

–          Did we make any intentional investments in our marriage this year?

–          Do we still date each other?

–          Are we protecting our marriage?

–          Is God at the center of our relationship?

–          How is our sex life?

Set Goals for Marriage

FRIENDSHIPS

–          Who are the key friends that I have?

–          Are they good friends?

–          Do they encourage me in my relationship with Christ?

–          Have I been a good friend?

–          Do I encourage them in their relationship with Christ?

Set Goals for Friendships

PHYSICAL HEALTH

–          How has my health changed over the last year?

–          Was there major change in my health?

–          Did I gain weight?

–          Am I more or less fit?

–          Have I had a physical?

–          Did I consistently exercise?

–          Have I been avoiding getting something checked out by a doctor?

Set Goals for Physical Health

FINANCIAL HEALTH

–          How has my financial landscape changed?

–          Did I incur any more debt this year?

–          How was my giving this year?

–          How was my saving this year?

–          Has my income changed?

–          Have I been faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Financial Health

SINGLENESS

–          How am I doing in my singleness?

–          Am I viewing it as a gift?

–          Am I fully giving myself to building God’s Kindgom?

–          Am I being faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Singleness 

PARENTING

–          How is my relationship with each child?

–          How is our connection?

–          Did I make intentional investments into their lives?

–          What are the passions that I see in their lives?

–          What are their gifts and abilities?

–          What might God have in mind for their lives?

–          Are there areas of their lives that I might need to come alongside them and help them

Set Goals for Parenting

Friendsgiving, the Christmas Season and Blessings in Disguise

Now that Thanksgiving is over we can finally talk about and start to celebrate Christmas! I love Christmas music, but I’m one of those that always appreciates if everyone can wait until after Thanksgiving at least before we start playing it. I prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time. Except in the case of putting up the Christmas tree and decorations, which typically I like to do Thanksgiving evening, or the weekend following Thanksgiving. This year we have yet to put up our Christmas decorations, but we’ll get into that later on.

So the last few years, my husband and I will host an annual Friendsgiving. Basically, it’s a Thanksgiving meal with your friends, aka, the family you GET to choose. So we celebrated with our small group from our Church. This year’s was a little different however. Instead of hosting it at our place, some friends graciously opened their home and agreed to host it at their place. So my husband and I made homemade cranberry-apple sauce, cran-apple punch (yum!) and we got so many compliments on our turkey. (I was worried I hadn’t cooked it enough, so I kept cooking it a little longer, then I worried I had overdone it, but everyone said it was so good!) So everyone pitched in other side dishes and we had a wonderful feast! Seriously, that was some of the best food I’ve had for our Friendsgiving! I found the cutest little gratitude tree where everyone was able to put a little leaf on that said what they were thankful for, so we went around and shared those out loud. After a nice delicious meal, we all had some homemade pies (thanks Amy!) and we got ready to do a white elephant gift exchange. Now if you don’t know what a white elephant gift exchange is, you’re missing out! Let me explain how it works.

Everyone brings a gift (the amount is set in advance, usually $5-$25 depending). Slips of paper with numbers for the number of people who brought gifts is placed into a bowl and everyone takes turns pulling out a number until no numbers remain. Once everyone has a number, the person with #1 goes first. They pick any gift they want from the pile and they open it. Person #2 goes and can choose to steal or open a new gift. If they steal, the person they stole from opens a new gift. Once more people join, the person whose turn it is, can choose to steal from anyone, the person whose gift was stolen can either steal from someone else or open another gift and the rotation continues from the last number drawn. This continues until no gifts remain. Typically we put a cap on stealing a particular gift twice so that way it’s not an endless stealing of the same gift.
This year instead of doing something store-bought, we decided that it would be more fun to have everyone bring something from home. This turned out to be a lot of fun! Not only did everyone get rid of something that was just hanging out in a closet, but it was fun to try out something different for a change. There was one gift in particular that was the highlight of the exchange. It was this old vintage lamp with plastic crystals and a gold base…. So when it comes time for my husband to pick a gift, he chooses this large box and inside was this lamp. Well NO ONE wanted to steal this thing! We tried pawning it off several times. Until the end of the exchange and I somehow managed to convince one of the younger boys that his mom would really like this lamp for her mantel! He totally bought my sales pitch and decided to take the lamp for mom! HAHA Everyone couldn’t believe it and we all just started cracking up laughing! It was probably one of the best white elephants we have ever participated in. Now that Friendsgiving is over, we can focus on Christmas and getting our apartment ready to decorate, which will still be a little while because we are preparing for carpet to be installed… which means moving a ton of furniture around!

In the midst of all the preparation for Friendsgiving my husband and I have continuously been moving furniture for carpet installation and we had to break it down into two separate days since we had to move all our own furniture for the carpet installers. So for the last two weeks we have been shuffling things around and now that the final day of carpet install is done and our apartment can get put back together! I used to watch the show Hoarders and I always wondered how people could live like that, and this last week our apartment has felt like it was a scene from Hoarders with everything from one floor being crammed into our loft space, there seriously isn’t even room to walk! However, this process of moving furniture has actually been a blessing in disguise. Not only were we able to get rid of some of our old furniture to someone who really needed it, but we were able to pray for some gentlemen who really needed some prayers this holiday season. I love seeing how God chooses moments like these to shine his love, mercy and grace on his people. So not only did we meet two people and were able to pray for them, but we found an amazingly good deal on some furniture for the living room through Facebook and we now have the capacity to host more people in the future, which is something my husband and I have wanted to do for a while. Not ONLY that but this has allowed us to downsize the things we have into more of essential things and to really open our eyes to how blessed we are and just to see how fortunate we are.

Now that the carpet is finished we can finally decorate for Christmas! I love Christmas time! Probably one of my favorite parts is putting up our Christmas tree! Every year my husband and I purchase a new ornament while on vacation to put on our tree. This year, we now have 3 new ornaments thanks to two friends of our giving us additional ornaments to add to our tree! You’ll have to keep an eye out on our instagram (www.instagram.com/ourharttoyours) to find out what they are! I can’t wait to finally get everything back in order and to decorate and to finally be able to truly enjoy our apartment as it was meant to be enjoyed for a while now. Looking forward to all the memories we will make while we are still here. In addition to Christmas decorating, I enjoy the wonderful Christmas services our church puts on. They are some of the best services I have ever been to and they get better every year! I know that Christmas is more than just about gifts, family dinners and decorating.

Christmas is when God gave His ONLY Son to be born for us that through him, we might see and believe and we might live. Jesus came not to condemn us for our sins, but he came to be atonement and sacrifice for our sins that we could have a right relationship with God. I love Christmas but when I sit back and think about what God did through his Son Jesus, that is the best Christmas present that I will ever receive. Jesus came to be a living, breathing example of how we should love other people and interact with them and he also became human that he experienced everything we experience in our own human existence so that he could relate to us. Jesus walked in the flesh here on earth. He was put through trials, temptations, hardships, being mocked, cursed, bruised, beaten, tortured and put to death. All for us. He knows what we have been through, he knows what we’re going through and he knows what we will go through in the future, but he is there every step of the way to walk with us and to be our helping hand.

So this Christmas take some time to reflect on the reason for the season and what that looks like in your life and how we can embrace this ultimate expression of love even more so that through us others might see God’s love and be blessed.

Remember you can email us any time with stories to share, prayer requests or to simply reach out by sending inquiries to ourharttoyours@gmail.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A New Thanksgiving

Happy Post Thanksgiving! Sitting here reminiscing thinking about all that I’m thankful for. I’m also thinking about how this year, thanksgiving was different than it has been any other year.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. We get to eat amazing home-cooked food and share special time with friends and family. If you’re family is like mine, you can also realize how quickly it can become a very stressful time of year. When I think back to Thanksgiving, I quickly remember how I typically have to spend my day shuffling from one house to another and trying (unsuccessfully) not to stuff my face at the first house so I would be able to eat a plate of food at any other house I had to make an appearance at. My parents are divorced (have been for years) and therefore, there would typically be an appearance at both places and then also at my in-laws. Typically for Thanksgiving, we would start early in the afternoon around probably 12 or so and not get home until sometimes 8 or 10 at night after traveling around all day. This year things were different however.

This year, we spent thanksgiving at one house, eating one meal that was around 5:00. We didn’t have to get up early and make food. We didn’t have to spend hours in the car traveling from house to house. Instead, wonderful friends of ours opened up their home to my husband and I, and my mother-in-law, and we got to enjoy spending time together without cooking a huge meal and without having to worry about leaving at a certain time to make it to the next house. This year, we were able to celebrate with not only family but friends also. This year was also the first year we were without certain closer family members.
Typically the holidays are a time for celebration and thanks and making memories; but for many people, it is also a reminder of the people that are no longer with them. This year, we also had to experience the holidays without certain family members around to celebrate with us. The holidays can be a tough time of grief for those who have lost loved ones, especially if the loss occurred more recently. This year we lost not only one but two members of our family and the beloved family dog. Dealing with those losses was hard enough on their own, but then having to look forward to a holiday without those family members there, is another hill to climb. We weren’t sure how, or if we would even be able to make it through the holidays. Although we had our moments of sadness and remembering, this year, we were able to laugh, cry and remember the moments with our loved ones that meant the most to each one of us.

The few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my husband and I took a grief class, that not only helped us process through the grief we were experiencing, but also taught me that I was experiencing grief of certain people who were still living but no longer part of my life. Grieving doesn’t always insinuate that a person is passed away; it can also mean people who are still living but no longer a part of our lives, in a way they once were. This can be a family member, or even a friend. Regardless of who it is, it still hurts that they are no longer around. Through our grief class, my husband and I were able to work through our grief in different ways and to enjoy the holidays even with the losses we experienced. This is by no means an end to our grief, it simply means we were able to make it through and as time goes on we will continue to lean on one another for support and to ensure that we are grieving properly and not dealing with complicated grief.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with grief, know that you are not alone. Although each situation is different, the relationships we have with people are different, the losses we experience are different, the facts are still the same. We all deal with grief and we all experience loss. The way in which we experience those things might vary but we can all learn from those experiences. Even though the holidays were hard without our family members here, we are grateful and blessed for the time we got to spend with our family and friends this year and for being able to have such a great support system.

If there is anything we can pray for you about or if we can help you in any way through this holiday season, please reach out to my husband and I at ourharttoyours@gmail.com and we would love to talk with you! Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

Change of plans

Well Good Morning everyone! Hope you’re having a fantastic week so far! It’s been about a month since our last post, and we have been crazy busy between vacation, work and I recently moved to a new salon, so I have been adjusting to the new work schedule and to traveling for work a little further from home. Back in the beginning of the month my husband and I took our once yearly vacation. Last year we had the pleasure and privilege of visiting Hilton Head Island as our vacation/ honeymoon; a gift that was given to us by a friend for our wedding. (Thanks Mike!)
So last year, my husband and I saved our spending money, rented a car and we headed down to Hilton Head. We had an amazing 3/4 days before we unfortunately had to come home due to Hurricane Matthew moving in. We made the smart decision to come home the day before the mandatory evacuation and we are glad we did because traffic was crazy down there and many of the gas stations ended up running out of gas before we even got out of town! So our plan this year was to revisit Hilton Head since we had a credit towards our condo stay for the remainder of the time we missed last year. We had everything set up and ready to go and we were so excited about all the things we had planned that we didn’t get to do last year and then revisiting the things we really enjoyed this year. Around Labor Day, my husband and I were visiting some friends down in Southern Ohio, and a friend of ours who lives in Beaufort, South Carolina was posting updates about the impending hurricane(s) and bad weather that was to be heading towards the coast right about the time of our vacation.
So I advised my husband to call our rental and ask if we could pay the amount we owed for the additional days we would be staying this year, a little closer to our trip date so we could see what the weather was going to do. If we needed to make vacation arrangements elsewhere we wanted to be able to do so, so that way we would still be able to take our vacation. We found out unfortunately that somehow our arrangements got double-booked, by no one’s fault, it just happened. So we started to talk to friends who were to be visiting with us during our vacation, so that we could potentially make other arrangements. After all was said and done with the continuous surge of bad weather making its way towards the coast, we decided that it was in our best interest to go ahead and make other plans. We were fortunately able to get the deposit from our initial rental back and use that towards our vacation elsewhere. So with our Hilton Head vacation cancelled, and the deadline of our time off work getting closer, what are we to do? My husband and I sat down and we discussed the various options and we decided that it was best to stay somewhere a little closer to home but still be able to get away for a week and just spend time relaxing and with one another.
So in just a couple days, we went from heading down to Hilton Head Island, to heading down to Hocking Hills, Ohio. We managed to find an inexpensive cabin down there and in such a short amount of time. Most cabins this time of year book up rather quickly. So with our new vacation plans in place we were set. We only had the cabin rental from Sunday through Friday, so we had some extra time off work to spend doing other things. The first day of our vacation, Friday, we had a relaxing and pampering day. I got my hair done, we got manis and pedis, and we had a fun evening having dinner with my family and then we went out and played pool. Saturday we were able to spend the day down in Mohican for my husband’s family’s annual camping trip, in which one of our cousins got engaged to her wonderful boyriend! (Congratulations guys!) So Sunday came and we finally headed down to our cabin!
The drive was a little long, because as you can imagine we had to travel through Columbus traffic and that being such a large city, there was plenty of traffic to be had. We finally got to our cabin and when we pulled up, it was seriously so cute! It was perfect for the two of us to just get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a few days and just focus on reconnecting with one another, which we feel is so important to do on a continual basis. Our cabin had a fire pit outside and a jacuzzi! Probably one of the best perks of our stay was just relaxing in the evening and listening to the quiteness of nature out in the country. Our whole week was so much fun. We hiked about 6 different trails, all ranging from extremely easy to challenging, with varying elevations and over the course of 3 days we probably hiked about 15 miles! The scenery was AMAZING to say the least. Some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. All in all, the best part of our trip was that it was inexpensive (as the hiking was free), and that it simply allowed us to just spend time together. We didn’t have to follow a schedule, be anywhere at a certain time and we didn’t have to spend money to have fun. We were able to have fun by just going out and hiking and seeing all the wonder there was hidden in such a short drive from where we live.
When we first learned that we wouldn’t be able to go to Hilton Head this year, we were extremely bummed. But the more we sat back and thought about it, we realized we wouldn’t have to spend 12-13 hours driving, we didn’t have to spend the money renting a car and we especially didn’t have to worry about missing out on our stay because of bad weather and hurricanes again this year. After we thought about it more and more, we realized that this was a blessing in disguise. Will we eventually go back to Hilton Head? I would say that’s a definite possibility; just not during hurricane season! All in all we had the most amazing time just investing in our marriage and spending time together.
If anyone would like info on the cabin we stayed at or some of the other things we did during our stay in Hocking Hills (restaurants/ attractions, etc) please feel free to contact us at ourharttoyours@gmail.com.
Have a wonderful week and keep checking back for future blog posts!

NFP – 100% All Natural – Good for the Body, Great for the Soul

Like we talked about in our initial blog post, there were many things my husband and I talked about prior to getting married, but two things that were most important. Last week we talked about the first of the two; Finances and gaining financial peace. This week we are going to cover the topic of intimacy in marriage, the use of birth control and what we decided to use in regards to our own marriage relationship.

First let’s start by talking about how we got to this place of searching for better options. Like we mentioned previously, when my husband and I met, I did not know the Lord and he had fallen away from the Lord. When we met, I was an avid user of hormonal artificial contraceptive prescribed by my doctor and my husband and I were intimate. As our relationship grew and we developed a relationship with God, our hearts changed and we decided we no longer needed to take any sort of birth control because we wanted to abstain from intimacy until we were married. Therefore, I quit taking the birth control and we remained abstinent until our wedding. During our engagement, we thought it was important to discuss birth control options and what we would do once we were married. A married couple who are close friends of ours who were mentoring us discussed with us some things that we should think about regarding marriage, one of which being intimacy in marriage and birth control. They were open and honest with us and shared that they had learned about NFP prior to getting married themselves and had used it, successfully, all 11 (now 12) years of their marriage and three children later. They began using it when they got married and they haven’t looked back since.

What is NFP exactly?
Natural family planning (NFP) is fertility awareness, which is simply knowledge of a couple’s fertility. It is a means of reading the body’s signs of fertility and infertility; applying this knowledge through the Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) is over 99% effective in postponing pregnancy. A married couple’s virtuous application of this knowledge either to try to achieve a pregnancy or to postpone a pregnancy is called responsible parenthood.

Practicing NFP is 100% natural — there are no drugs, chemicals or devices involved, which is one reason many today find it to be a positive and refreshing alternative to contraceptive methods. NFP honors our dignity as persons by respecting the natural rhythms and functions of the body. It is very common to hear couples who use NFP speak of an increased awe and respect for femininity and their mutual fertility, and a greater sense of empowerment through self-knowledge (ccli.org)

We use what is called the “Sympto-Thermal” Method of fertility tracking; not to be confused with the rythym method, as every woman’s cycle is not the same and every woman’s cycle varies even month to month.

“The Sympto-Thermal Method (STM) taught by CCL is based on three key signs of fertility: cervical mucus, basal body temperature and changes in the cervix. By observing and recording these signs you and your spouse will be able to identify Phase I, II and III and therefore know if you’re in a time of fertility or infertility.

These signs are easily noticed by any woman who has learned to watch for them. It takes only a minute or two each day to record them in CCL’s mobile app, CycleProGo, or on a paper chart. The chart provides a daily record that can be used to identify the days of fertility and infertility. Once the fertile and infertile days have been identified, couples apply “rules” that they learn in class (and that are explained in CCL’s Student Guide) to frame the boundaries between the phases of the cycle.” (ccli.org)

What are the three phases of a woman’s cycle?
“The female fertility cycle can be divided into three phases.

Phase I begins on the first day of menstrual bleeding, and normally includes a few infertile days after menstruation.

Phase II begins as soon as a woman’s daily observations detect the onset of signs of fertility. This fertile time lasts up to and a few days after the time of ovulation (when an egg is released from the ovary). In a normal, healthy woman, Phase II will typically last up to 12 days.

Phase III is the post-ovulation time and is a time of infertility. Phase III typically accounts for the last one-third of a healthy woman’s cycle.
The three phases of the female cycle are the result of the interplay of four key hormones – estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. These hormones are also responsible for the fertility signs that a woman can learn to observe.”

So why did we decide to used NFP instead of alternative methods to birth control?
My husband and I decided that we didn’t want the responsibility of responsible birth control to fall just on one person or the other. We also realized that the effects of using birth control long term can have lasting effects that can cause issues with conception when a couple is ready to start having a family. In regards to the health issues alone, we decided that an all natural option was our best bet. So we signed up and took the class, which our friends are certified to teach and they helped us understand it better and how to use it effectively.

Upon beginning the classes and trying to track the necessary information, it was definitely overwhelming and confusing, and it usually is until you get into the swing of things and actually know what you’re doing. Now that we have been charting for a year and a half and actually implementing the use of NFP for the last year of our marriage, we have found it to be easier to track and understand as time goes on. I’m sure there are people out there who doubt if it works, or are skeptical or scared to try it out but I assure you it does work. I am also sure that there are some people who would ask if there are any drawbacks to using NFP over other alternatives, and there definitely pros and cons to every decision you make. One reason we ultimately chose to use NFP was because we wanted to honor God with our marriage relationship and with our family. We feel that using NFP promotes trust in God and using our bodies how He intended them to be.

NFP, although all-natural and 100% cost effective (aka free), it can definitely be taxing, as you have to take certain periods of time and abstain from sexual intimacy if you don’t want to get pregnant. However, that has never caused us to choose anything differently. Is it frustrating, at times, that I cannot be with my spouse whenever I want? Absolutely! Are my health and well-being along with the communication that is built between my husband and I worth it? Yes.

My husband and I have had to learn over the last year of marriage, how to communicate regarding our charting and how to take time to spend together when we aren’t able to be physically intimate. We have found that during times of fertility we simply take care to enhance our marriage through reading marriage books to strengthen our marriage. We love the times of spending intimate time together that doesn’t involve physical intimacy just as much as we enjoy spending time together when we are able to be physically intimate. The biggest challenge that we have faced using NFP is making physically intimacy a priority during times of infertility. We love the freedom that NFP has given us and the way it has strengthened our marriage and we highly encourage married couples and engaged couples to look into this option for themselves.

You can find more information by visiting CCLI.ORG. Feel free to shoot us an email with any questions you may have, and we will do our best to answer them for you. Have a great day and God Bless!

Keep an eye out next week for a special blog post!

Ending the Paycheck to Paycheck Life & Living Financially Free

Alright folks, let’s be honest; if you’re anything like my husband and myself, you have probably had your fair share of weeks just hoping you would make it by until payday and maybe even having to count your lose change just to scrape up some money for gas in your car. If we’re being totally honest and transparent, my husband and I have definitely been at that point at one time or another. After living paycheck to paycheck for a while, we both decided that enough was enough, and we sought out some wise council from some financially savvy friends of ours. They gave us some mind blowing information… It was then we discovered Financial Peace University and the beginning of financial freedom for us. Now FPU is not fool proof and it does take dedication and discipline. You have to live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else – Dave Ramsey.

So August of 2016 we began our journey to financial freedom. We used extra cash we earned towards paying off some smaller debts that we had. Since August 2016 we have paid off about $10,000 in debt. Now mind you, my husband and I aren’t rich and we don’t make a lot of money. In fact, we make combined what most people make on a single income. So how does the journey to financial peace and freedom work? By following the 7 baby steps. If you want to learn all of the baby steps and how to apply them, we highly recommend looking into taking a financial peace class of your own. It’s the best $100 investment we have ever made and will ever make. For now we are simply going to talk about what we have done so far.

As of right now, my husband and I are currently working on baby step 2: Debt Snowball. With the debt snowball, you pay your debts in order from smallest to largest. Start with your smallest and pay it off as fast as you can. Once you have it paid off, you take the monthly payment you were making and apply it to the monthly payment you are making on your next smallest debt.

Ex: medical – $389 – $25/mo
dental – $471 – $25/mo
credit card – $1,864 – $115/mo
car – $8,976 – $275/mo

Once you pay off the medical bill, then you apply $25/mo in addition to the $25 you are paying on the dental, thus paying $50/mo on your dental bill until it is completely gone. So on and so forth. You do this until all your debts are gone. The key to making this successful and work is to also do a monthly budget in addition to using an ‘envelope system’ things that we will only pay cash for such as groceries, gas in our car, tithing, a car repair fund, etc. We make up a budget based on the worst month we have had pay wise. If we create our budget and we have extra money left over at the end of the month, we decide at that point what to do with it, usually putting it towards debt. On payday, I sit down with my husband and I take the amount of each paycheck, add them together, and then look at our budget and see what things need taken care of before our next payday and then start deducting things from the total pay, until the amount reaches zero. In essence, my husband and I “TELL our money where to go instead of wondering where it went”. Using the envelope system is key because once the money is gone, that’s all there is, there is no more, unless we look and see where we can move money from one envelope to another. We don’t use credit cards and we don’t put bills off so we can do other things. We prioritize what is most important, and if we have something coming up like a wedding, birthday, etc., we budget for that as well, setting aside cash in an envelope just for that reason.

Like I said earlier, we have paid off about $10,000 since last August and about $6,500 of that was paid since we started and completed the class in February. By this time next year we will have paid off an additional $15,000 in debt and then we can tackle those pesky student loans, hopefully paying off about $100,000 in three years. Impossible? Not if you really dedicate yourself and work hard at becoming debt free. People have told us it’s impossible, and don’t get me wrong, we have had our set backs and things that we have had to work around, but it all breaks down to being dedicated, disciplined and working through whatever comes your way and always keeping the end goal in mind.

Check out the class for yourself! Visit http://www.daveramsey.com and check out ‘classes’ and then click ‘financial peace university’ and then click get started. There are classes everywhere happening all the time. It’s always a great time to get started!

Stay tuned for our blog post next week when we talk about Natural Family Planning, how we came to the decision to use it and how it has impacted our marriage so far.