Archives for March 2014

A Story of A Curve Ball

My final New Year’s Resolution this year is centered around the topic of finances, and I am excited to share with you some things I have read, learned and a great tool for managing your budget.  But, before I get to the “practical” things, which I will do in my next post, I want to share with your our personal story on this topic.

Jon and I have been through quite a financial journey these last few years, going from a place of comfort and margin to a place of discomfort and a LOT of hard work to make ends meet.  Please don’t misunderstand, we have lived completely comfortably by the world’s standard the entire time, but relative to what we had before Jon’s income changed due to the economic crash in 2009, it has been a long push for us to stay in our home and not incur debt.

Our story started in the fall four years ago, with the stock market crash.   While one of his well-paying jobs disappeared overnight in Sept 2009, and the other took a large-pay cut, we continued on our existing budget and spending.  This continued for about a year while we lived in denial of our financial circumstances.  You see, our generation had never gone “backwards.”  With our parents and ourselves, the forward movement of jobs and income had always been–forward.  We did not know what a serious stock market crash looked like, and how it would affect our grocery budget.  With that mindset, we thought, “Of course things will turn around!”  Surely the airline Jon worked for would recover and he would go back to his previous pay and status.  It didn’t happen, and we realized after a year that we had spent outside the truth of our income–we had not been living in financial reality.

Once we pulled our heads out of the sand, we decided to do the natural next step–pray for provision and work really hard to make ends meet.  That had been our way of life for the first 10 years of our marriage, and we were going to go back to that, which meant Jon finding a second job again, and me going back to work.  I was in the process of applying for jobs as a teacher again when another job literally fell in my lap–working for a friend at an orthopedic office.  This was an incredible blessing because I could continue the tutoring I had started and work part-time at this job, coming home without any papers to grade or stress spilling over into home life (kudos to mom/teachers–you are saints!!!).   We saw this as the clear provision we had begun to pray for.

Jon invested in another company and we set off into the next three years–a time when we would feel in the valley for much of the journey.  This was not the life we had imagined–both of us working two jobs (I started working with another company from home during this time), making our budget but with no margin, less time for our family, for our kids.   We wondered how long this would last?  .

There were many “no’s” during this time.   Jon’s second business struggled, my side-business moved forward slowly, and we tried to re-finance about 6 times with no luck for strange and un-explicable reasons.  Finally, it happened, but not without hours and days of frustration, and so much time Jonathan put into the effort.   Jon ran for President of the union at his airline, hoping to make some positive change there, and provide income for our family–and lost twice after showing great integrity and strength in the process.  It was a difficult season.

We constantly re-evaluated our situation, should we move?  Each year we seriously looked at this option, but we never felt God moving us that direction. We were continuing to keep our home open to hosting  youth group and bible studies, renting out our basement to some wonderful single girls, and then a sweet family who found our home as a place that served a time and a purpose in their lives.   He was using our home, and we hoped God would allow us to stay just another year. God did continue to provide–just enough, for us to remain.

Finally, at the end of 2013, just a few months ago, we made the decision (after months of processing) that it was time for me to leave my job at the orthopedic office for a variety of reasons–mainly that it was best for our family and kids for me to be home with them.  This was a very difficult decision because it meant that we would most likely need to put our home on the market in the spring.  We prayed constantly that God would give us courage and strength to make this decision when the time came to list our home.  I personally asked God to help me let go, loosen my grip on the foundations that had been built in this place–the best friends to my kids that lived right next door, the familiar paths Jon and I took when we walked the dogs, the flowers and trees I had picked out and planted in our yard, the familiar faces that I waved to every day as I drove through our neighborhood.

I knew that wherever God led us, we would be OK…we would re-establish.  But it was hard.  And the hardest part was we weren’t feeling “called” to leave.  It just looked like that on our financial spreadsheet.  Trust me, God said.

In January of 2014, the same month I turned in my resignation at work, something just short of miraculous happened.  Jon held a “line” at work for the first time in 4 years.  Somehow, in the great airline Pythagorean Theorem, Jon’s seniority allowed him to move to a higher pay level.  Just a fluke, we said.  Then it happened again in February, and then this month in March.  And…it looks like this might be the new norm going forward.  The income Jon receives at this new pay level just replaces the income at my orthopedic job.

Really God?  We can stay in our home for now?  But of course, this is how He works. He asks us to let go, trust, take a step of faith.  Then He provides.  He either provides strength for the “move” whatever that may mean in our lives, or he fills the gap where we were striving so hard to fill ourselves.

Here are the lessons the past 4 years have taught me:

1.  Be Grateful In Difficult Times— even when things seemed so frustrating and difficult, there was so much to be thankful for.  Healthy kids, healthy marriage, jobs.

2. Patience— we didn’t know how long our “valley” would last.  It lasted a lot longer than we wanted, that’s for sure.  We had to trust that God was still in control, that he still had a plan, and that if we stayed in tune with Him we would be given direction and comfort even when there was no end in sight.

3.  Provision— God provided the whole way.  Whether through jobs, or people to rent our basement, or just giving us enough faith and fight for a little longer.

4. Perspective— We do not feel like “we are set!” going forward.  If we have learned one thing through this journey, is that life throws us curve balls when we least expect it.  No longer will we ride on the coat-tails of “continued prosperity,” but humbly accept that God is our provider and when life does shift–which it will–He will walk through that with us.

We will continue to keep our palms open to God’s plan for our life, and hold things loosely.

Thanks for reading our story–it has been in the making for a while.



Health Tips From A Relative Couch Potato

Hello!  Wow, I apologize for not blogging more consistently these last couple of months.  It has been a time of transition for me–finishing up at one job (at an office) and transitioning to a business (from my home).  While I was envisioning all this new time as a stay-at-home worker  to tackle a few crammed junk drawers in my office, reconnect with my friends over a steaming cup of coffee, and grocery shop at quaint organic out of the way grocery stores, I have instead been glued to my computer figuring out how to run my business efficiently and effectively, and not wanting to leave the house to grocery shop at all!  (Don’t worry, the pizza places deliver).

Oh, and throw in a family vacation and a weekend trip to MN in there.  And soccer practice starting…need I say more?

But, I am starting to emerge from the transition! And, we are now in March and I am only on my 2nd New Year’s Resolution post (scroll down for #1).  Fortunately, we are still in the first quarter, and it’s never too late to think about self-improvement.

This post/resolution is about “healthy living.”


I admit,  I have never been a health “nut,” and compared to some of my amazing friends who are Gluten-Free, only shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, who consider running 5 miles a warm-up, and do crazy things like bike to/from work (15 miles in the winter—Derek) or rock the Paleo Diet–(Jen), I am a regular chip eating couch potato.

However, I do TRY to be healthy.  80% of the food I buy for our family is “whole food” (except cereal which I guess reduces that number to 50% since a few of us are cereal addicts around here), but I try to buy food that does not have hydrogenated oils, is high in protein, low in fat, and I try to make sure everyone gets their fruits and veggies.  My daily diet consists of Wheat Chex, a protein bar, a turkey and spinach wrap, fruit, 2 York Mints, sunflower seeds and raisins (snack) and a dinner with fish or white meat and a veggie (more York Mints).  Of course that varies, but if I could do the same every day that would be it.  The York Mints are actually my sweet tooth controller–for me–I get my sugar fix with 2 of these small wafers, and I don’t end up eating a quarter bag of Peanut M&M’s in one shot.

Oh, I forgot to mention Diet Pepsi…my main beverage.  Does that totally negate my daily healthy food intake?  Maybe.

I try to exercise 2-3 times per week–Jon would not consider it exercise though because sweat is not usually involved.   Really, I just don’t sweat.

Here are my three health tips–take them or leave them based on my Diet Pepsi confession:

1.  Feed Your Body Well

When I was in college the fad was “low fat” which meant all carbs– I was exhausted all the time and of course craved sugar and carbs endlessly.   A few years later I read the book  Eating for Your Blood Type and realized that being O- meant my body needed protein.  I changed how I ate and now try to mostly eat protein and I let my carbs come from my morning cereal and dessert.

Another idea I’ve found to help with healthy eating is this great APP called “Nutrition Menu”– IPhone.  It’s $1.99, and has nutritional info for restaurants and almost any food you can think of, has an exercise feature with 149 built in exercises, journal feature, weight tracking, and water consumption tracking.

2. Exercise

This is obvious, but one tool I found last year has been wonderful in helping me with my workouts.  It is an APP for your phone (IPhone and Android), and it is called Nike Training Club.  untitledThis is not for sissies.  There are different levels, and ALOT of different work outs, and you can do them in your home.  I actually have been known to sweat a little doing these workouts.

There are so many great exercise APPS–I would recommend loading one or two on your phone or IPAD to squeeze in a quick workout from home as much as possible.


3. Really THINK about your “health future”.

This is not something I have done in my life, especially in my 20’s and 30’s.  I am 42 now, and still feel like disease and aging is a long way off.  However, when a friend and mom of 3 (who is my age) passed away about this time last year from melanoma, I was struck with the reality that disease can strike any of us at any time.  So, I have tried to think more long-term about my health and how I can strengthen my body now.

In this blog I have always been intentional about not mentioning my side-job, because I have never wanted to mix business with the spiritual purpose of Gracefullhome.  But just this once I am going to tell you a little about what I do because I can’t talk about health and not share the amazing health product I have been using for the last year and a half.  I take a product called the Lingzhi (Reishi) mushroom, grown and distributed by  Alphay, is the worlds largest producer of the Lingzhi.  Google it and you will find hundreds of articles on this incredible superfood.

The Lingzhi (Reishi) mushroom, when taken through an extraction process and put in capsule th_5_elements_nutritionform, strengthens our bodies at the cellular level, helping to fight cancer cells, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, not to mention it’s immuno-modulating properties that relieve allergies (mine are gone).  The mushrooms also lower cholesterol, help with sleep issues, lower blood pressure, and help with anxiety and depression–just to mention a few.

If you want to know more, feel free to shoot me an email or watch the video on Lingzhi on my site  Please know I do not share this with you for “profit” purposes, but to share something that myself, my family, and my friends have found to help us be the healthiest people possible from the inside out.

So, now you have a book, a couple  APPS, and a supplement to help you be the healthiest you possible!  God has given us our bodies “as His temple” and we are to care for them in the best way possible.

Stay tuned for my final New Year’s post on a great financial tool and words from God about our money.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...