Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our Minimalist Adventures & Dealing with Stress

Back in July, I updated you on some of our progress since moving to Missouri to pastor a small church with my husband. As most of you already know, there were some issues in the beginning (being broken into, the buildings needing repair, etc). Progress since has been fairly slow. We've still been unable to move into the parsonage to date. However, we're still being very diligent.

This past month, we discovered a gas leak in the line leading from the church to the parsonage. The gas has been turned off to both buildings pending the fix. Luckily, we haven't been in need of gas considering we're still in the warmer months and haven't moved into the parsonage yet. However, this will need to be fixed soon as fall turns into winter rather quickly in the midwest.

We've continued making progress on the kitchen in the parsonage with the help of my very handy parents. The dry wall and insulation has been replaced, electrical boxes added where wires had once been hanging freely and new GFCI outlets have been installed for safety. The next step is to finish painting the cabinets, tile the backsplash, and replace stove top, sink and counter tops. It seems like a lot, but I feel like things in that particular area of the house are about to move a little faster.

Some of the mess we found...

Took the kitchen down to the studs...

Replaced the insulation...

Current view of kitchen with new outlets installed and dry wall...

To add to all that, D and I were out meeting up with my grandparents for lunch last week and D's finger accidentally got caught in the car door. This wasn't just one of those bruising situations. No...this was lacerations and a break in the tip of the small finger on his left hand (I'll spare you the pictures). After a painful trip to Urgent Care, we followed up with a hand specialist who is keeping a close watch to make sure it heals properly. Needless to say, D hasn't been able to do much physical stuff per the doctor to allow the finger the best chance at healing. A round of antibiotics, finger splint and daily cleaning and changing the dressings is what we're having to do at the current moment.  He's been having to sleep in a recliner to keep from rolling over on that hand in the middle of the night. I hurt for him and have been doing my best to be a caring and supportive wife through the pain and frustration.

As I shared before, we took this church on faith and without a salary. We've been living off of money we can make minimizing things as well as on the kindness and support of others. We've really been in awe at how many wonderful people have supported us in prayer, elbow grease, and financial support. I don't think we could've made it without them. In addition to that, I have been working both businesses KHC Medical Billing Advocates and Dress Up Your Cup. Most days I can deal with having little, but other times I miss the steady paychecks. At any rate and in whatever mindset I'm in, I've learned I need to find ways to better handle my stress.

One of the biggest stress relievers is my crafting. While I do this to make a little money on the side, the actual creating process is good for me. Here is one of my recent creations! You can get them one my Etsy shop: Dress Up Your Cup

Secondly, I decided to tackle an item on my 40 by 40 Bucket List: Learning to enjoy exercising. I've decided to do the 30-Day Yoga Challenge. I found a great series on YouTube and have completed day 1 and 2 on the back deck of my parent's house. You can join in on the fun as well: 30-Day Yoga Challenge: Day 1 I've learned that I need to take a few moments of silence, breathe and stretch. While this did work some of my muscles, I finished feeling a little more relaxed and a little less stressed. It was also nice to be outside in the fresh air while I was doing it. I'm hoping for the next 30 days, I'll start to look forward to this time and get in a habit of doing something physical every day. Yoga seems like a great way to start: super slow and super easy.

Being still for a minute...

August went pretty fast to say the least. Lots of hard work, a little bit of fun, a rained out total eclipse and a finger break. We're still standing and still believing this is exactly where God wants us to be in each ebb and flow of the journey.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Answer to Hate

Over the past week, I've had time to think about the events in Charlottesville and the current status of our society. A lot of fingers get pointed.  We see a lot of posts about love and acceptance and standing up for the marginalized. That's all great, but we sometimes fail to see the answer right in front of our faces. We've failed to understand the true definition of love and fail miserably when we try to label hate. I'm not an innocent party in all of this. I've missed the mark so many times. However, if we all tried a little harder and dug a little deeper, we could make a difference. Let me take a second to share exactly what I'm certain we need to do to combat hate.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

"Love is patient..." Love might be patient, but are you? Slow traffic. Long lines. Just a couple of things that seem to test our patience. The other day I watched a car speed past a slower moving car and cut them off. Both drivers held up "that finger" at the other. Yeah...that pretty much sums up the times we're living in. If you truly want to display love (and inspire others to do the same), be patient. Show grace.

" is kind." Pretty self-explanatory there. Love holds the door for the person following. Love lends a smile. Love responds in kindness even when faced with the opposite. Do you?

"It does not envy..." The grass always seems so much greener on the other side. Stop looking at how the neighbor's grass looks and start watering yours! And for goodness sake, stop throwing sand in your neighbor's yard out of your jealousy! Trying to sabotage someone else's success to make you feel better is hate and things like that are done out of envy.  Start focusing on what YOU have and less on what everyone else does.

"It does not boast, it is not proud." And once you have that nice, green grass, stop rubbing it in the noses of the people around you. It's one thing to be excited about the highs in your life, it's another thing to gloat and showboat. Think about it this way...if you boast, you'll likely make someone envy. And these days, that can get sand thrown your direction. It's like telling a homeowner not to leave the box for their big screen TV at the curb for the're just inviting someone to come in and try to steal your new TV!

"It does not dishonor others..." That's honors the other person ABOVE YOURSELF! Regardless of what a person looks like, believes or gives honor. These days, if we disagree with someone, we would never think to give them the best seat at the table. But love does. You want to stop hate? Start showing some respect to EVERYONE regardless of if you see eye to eye or not.

" is not self-seeking." Love doesn't say, "Because I'm in a hurry, I'm going to disregard everyone else and do what I need to do for my own benefit and comfort." No, love actually cares about the needs and desires of others. Do you? Have you allowed your own agenda to get in the way of truly loving those around you?

"It is not easily angered..." Love doesn't get all twisted up if you look at it wrong. Nope, it just keeps on being love. It keeps on being good. Do you?

" keeps no record of wrongs." Things that happened in the past? doesn't hold that against you. Love forgets all that mess and moves forward as if those wrongs don't exist. It doesn't make you pay. It doesn't leave the wrong-doer in debt. Nope, it writes that debt off and keeps on loving.

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." I think we can all agree that lies are evil. Lies that tells us we're not good enough. Lies that tells us we're less than. Well, love calls those things evil and embraces the truth. And love certainly does not cover up the truth in lies.

"It always protects..." When love sees someone being mistreated, it steps in. Love provides safe arms. Do you?

"...always trusts..." Love doesn't give a side eye to someone who looks different. Love doesn't suddenly get all scared that what looks different will bring harm.  Love chooses to trust and if an outside force breaks that trust, love gets up and dusts itself off. Do you?

"...always hopes..." Chalking all the hate up to "It'll never change! It'll only get worse!" doesn't seem so hopeful. Choose to see the potential we all have together. That's what love does.

"...always perseveres..." Love keeps trying even when it seems like it's not getting the results it hopes for.

"Love never fails." That's why we're failing...because we aren't truly loving. But if we start to truly love, I think we'll find it doesn't fail.

And that leads us to the bottom line of all of this. Our world needs Christ...the ultimate example and embodiment of love. He is all of the above and we should make it our aim and goal to look like a mirror image of Him.

That's the answer. It's not some complicated algorithm. Love doesn't have to say, "I'm not a racist." Love doesn't have to say, "I don't hate that person." In fact, love is pretty evident. So stop defending yourself with words and start living out love. It's a verb. It's an action. And it's also a choice. Today, I choose to be the best example of love I can be to every human I come in contact with. Do you?

Friday, August 4, 2017

40 by 40 Bucket List: Item #23

There's a lot going on here to say the least. I decided to go minimalist to fund a vacation. Then, I decided to fully embrace it to fund and make future adventures possible. One of those adventures has been moving from Tennessee to Missouri to serve at a church with my pastor husband (I'm a pastor too, but he's taking the lead on this one). A parsonage came with this adventure and it happened to need some help. So we're living with my parents while we fix it up so we can move in. In the middle of all that activity was my birthday and my decision to tackle a 40 by 40 bucket list. I have 7 years to complete it. However, if I can complete this in far less time, I could start the process all over again. I'm motivated to make this project far less than 7 years despite some of the very challenging items on the list. To allow you to track my progress, I've also added the list to the sidebar on the right.

So, at the prompting of my husband, I made the decision to check an item off my bucket list for my birthday. My decision was a bit spur-of-the-moment when my husband and I entered a chocolatier (Panache) on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City where we were celebrating. There in a glass case was a beautiful display of French Macaroons. We asked the cashier about them and she almost seemed apologetic when she said, "We did not make them here. They are imported straight from France and then we drizzled our chocolate over them." My husband and I looked at each other as if to say, "Well, this is what we're checking off today!" It was completely unplanned which made the experience that much better.

There were a few to decide on and after asking the cashier which she enjoyed, she said she liked both caramel and vanilla. While I would typically go for chocolate, I decided to be even more adventurous and take the caramel. So my husband documented the whole thing.

I took a bite and died, went to heaven, looked around for a few days and then floated lightly back down again in ultimate bliss. I couldn't utter a word. Not because of the enjoyment, but because it literally stuck to my teeth. I gave a thumbs up not wanting to leave my husband in too much suspense (who can't have them because of food allergies).  I was on cloud nine the rest of the evening because I was able to get a jump start on my list and because I now have a new favorite treat to enjoy when I come to the Plaza.

I can't believe I've lived so long without ever trying one. A treat that takes so many painstaking steps to make deserves all the respect and admiration I gave it that day. In fact, I only ate half and then, later on, enjoyed the second half as slowly as possible. At $2.50 per treat, they aren't really something you wanted to pop in quick succession. These are things you savor...extravagance straight from a place I so want to see...France! I felt one step closer to checking that one off too!

Have you tried a macaroon? What did you think?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Birthdays & Adventures: My 40 by 40 Bucket List

Today is my birthday. I'm celebrating the 4th anniversary of my 29th birthday (you do the math). Most of the things I've accomplished to this point came a little bit later than I had originally intended. I got married just 2 months shy of the 1st anniversary of my 29th birthday.  I graduated with my bachelor's degree just 2 months shy of the 2nd anniversary of my 29th birthday. That's not to say that I didn't accomplish some pretty amazing things. I've traveled my fair share around the United States and tried my hand at quite a few new things. Now, we get down to the nitty gritty. These years fly by so fast and I don't want to wake up for the 11th anniversary of my 29th birthday and realize I haven't done all the big stuff. Thus, my "40 by 40" Bucket List. Or what I should call "40 by the 11th Anniversary of my 29th Birthday". I realize that's too long, so I'll stick with the former.

So here it is in all its glory. Some things are so simple, yet still undone. Some things are so likely near impossible that they just might take quite a lot of effort. Mind you, most of these things are completely selfish. That's just because I'm busy trying to save the world on a daily basis. These will obviously come when I'm not doing all of that.

1. See New York
2. See Seattle
3. See D.C.
4. See London
5. See Paris
6. See Madrid
7. See Rome
8. See Hawaii
9. See Niagra
10. Do something that goes viral.
11. Have a credit score over 700.
12. Write a novel.
13. Have said novel made into a movie.
14. Stay the night in a tiny house.
15. Own a custom tiny house (for guests and travel)
16. Have children.
17. Buy a home (for daily living).
18. Get Master's Degree
19. Earn a passive income to live off of.
20. Renew marriage vows.
21. Meet a celebrity.
22. Live in a loft/industrial style apartment.
23. Try a macaroon.
24. New York at New Years.
25. Be debt-free.
26. Get a nice SUV.
27. Learn to speak French.
28. Raise money for a favorite charity.
29. Give out "blessing bags" to homeless.
30. Revist Richmond, VA with D.
31. Make Beef Wellington.
32. Try Lobster.
34. Take Grandparents on an adventure.
35. Mother/Daughter trip somewhere new.
36. Make a French dish.
37. Go to an award show.
38. Learn and perform a choreographed dance.
39. Be on National TV for something positive.
40. Learn to enjoy exercising.

Now...let's see how many I can cross off this list!! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Our Minimalist Adventure & God's Goodness

If you've been following this minimalist journey, you'll know I started in February of this year. I first started in my email inbox. I had thousands of unread spam just sitting there making me crazy. After that, I tackled my closet and other areas getting rid of a TON of stuff I knew I didn't need. At the time, we were living with my in-laws waiting for the next thing God had for us. I felt that whatever it was, we needed to seriously downsize. I felt a sense of urgency that we needed to be able to load up the important things as quickly as possible with as much ease as possible.

Little did we know, we would find ourselves with an open door that would move us from Tennessee from Missouri to take a church to pastor. We didn't have the money to load up a Uhaul (nor did we want to). So, we knew we could only take what would fit in our car. Thanks to our minimalist journey, we had seriously downsized and knew exactly what we would need to bring. We sold off our bigger furniture and relied on the grace of our in-laws to protect what couldn't fit this first trip. In the meantime, I knew we would be able to better determine if we really needed the things we left behind during this time setting things up in our new town.

Currently, the things we've brought are housed in my parents' basement along with us as we work to bring the parsonage up to par enough to live in. There is no doubt that my desire to become minimalist was inspired of God. But I had absolutely no idea how many more ways God would reveal Himself to us in the next phase of our journey.

Before we left, a few people gave us "seed money" for us to use to pour into our new community to help minister to the people we came in contact with. We were thankful for this and knew we would be good stewards of it. As great as that was, we knew we would need funds to pay our bills, live, and make the repairs and get the items we needed (things like a couch and bed). I had no idea how it would all happen. I decided we'd use the money we made selling the items left behind in the parsonage to fund the work we had to do on the house. So far, we've made $388 doing that.  I have no idea if we'll make enough to make all the repairs, but faith is blind. 

Along with that, over the past couple of weeks, we've had a few people come forward to give to us to help us with the house. Our parents have also helped us in sweat equity and purchased supplies. Recently, we were also gifted the funds to have a fun night out (which I'll tell you about later). I hadn't even thought about having dates. I've always been okay with the free dates I could come up with. But for someone to think, "These two just need a date night." Well, it blew my mind. For the first time since we've been here, we were able to go out just for work or stress about the things we needed to get done.

To date, not one bill has gone unpaid. We have not starved (in fact, a few people have treated us to meals). It all is evidence of one thing...God's goodness. We had the faith to make the walk through the be obedient. And God in all His goodness and mercy is supplying our needs every step of the way. I'm humbled and in awe. He's a good, good Father. Our minimalist adventures weren't just happenstance. It was God's way of showing us that we could let go of the stuff and let Him supply our needs. Not only that, but it was also God's way of showing us just how wonderful His people are. So many wonderful lessons to learn in the journey!

And a little update: I finished painting the bathroom today! I feel like it looks so good! Here's some before and after photos!


Here's to many more updates as we make progress on our current adventure!