Monday, March 28, 2011

Prep Time

There is a lot going over at our new place!  Boxes are starting to make their way over, paint is getting put on walls and cabinets!  It's been very exciting.  We are busy, busy, busy preparing for the big move this week.  Later this week I will have up a little house tour of what our house was like the day we bought it, it has already begun changing from paint and such so be watching for that!  Also, one of the big things we are working on is painting the kitchen -aka the paint guzzler- so I will be putting up some pics from that too!  I am so thankful for all our wonderful friends who have pitched in and helped in so many different ways from painting all day to watching Silas to running errands - we value all of your friendships.  Also I am very thankful for my wonderful mom who has diligently watched Silas all weekend so I could work on the painting and things.  She is the bomb and a great Nana.  Things are moving along and we can't wait to share them with you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reality Check

Just a little glimpse at what we
are working with in our new
home
So our house is bought, we have the keys - now reality sets in.  We have a lot of work to do.  Where do we begin?  Yesterday after closing we had a moment to go over to the house and check everything out again - it's hard to remember everything we saw a month ago!  Wow, we have accumulated a list of to-do's a mile long and that's even before we have moved in.  As we walked through the house together there was a bit of excitement mixed in with a bit of uh-oh.  Did we bite off more than we can chew?  Will our furniture fit in these rooms?  I don't remember the yard looking like that, or the bathroom so old.  We were so in love with the house before, why do we feel so panicked now?  Thankfully, those were just some fleeting thoughts and we remembered how much we love it and how home-like it feels for us and also how much we enjoy working on houses to make them sparkle.  Doubt can creep up on us from time to time.  We can have doubts about a lot of things, even our faith.  I think that doubt has gotten a bad wrap.  We hear someone say that they have questions about God and their faith and we freak out and immediately starting judging them.  Asking questions about God can actually be a very good thing.  You need to know why you believe what you believe.  Searching for answers, when seeking for the truth and seeking after God will only lead you to a more personal and intimate understanding and relationship with Him.  Most of the time our doubt is fleeting, set on by some bad circumstance that we are in.  After going through the tough circumstance we are able to see God's plan more clearly on the other side and our faith is affirmed even more.  The thing we must remember is that our God is big enough for our doubt, he can handle it.  If you have questions about Him, search after His truth and He will lead you to an understanding.  Read His word, pray, talk to other Christians - The Holy Spirit is working in all of these, guiding you to a more personal relationship and stronger faith in Christ.  When we have doubts and questions what better place to go to than the source?  Don't let doubt overtake you, God can work it out, you just have to let Him.


You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Closing Day!

It's closing day for our house woooooohooooo!  We are so giddy with excitement this morning.  The actual process of buying a home has not been that bad, finding a house was the longest and hardest part for us.  If you are thinking of buying a house but are leery about the process, here are a few tips we learned along the way of home ownership.  One - make sure your finances are in order, don't even start to consider it until you are out of debt and have good credit, you can read more about how we turned around our finances here.  Two - set a price point, after putting together our budget we decided on a price point that would give us the ideal monthly payment we felt comfortable with.  We actually qualified for a higher priced home but we just felt a little more comfortable looking at things priced lower.  Three - get a good team.  We were so blessed to have a wonderful friend who is a Mortgage banker who helped us along the way, she set us up with a great realtor who had the patience to deal with us as we looked at one beat up house after the other.  If you don't know anyone then I would suggest asking around, it's amazing the connections out there and having people on our side, wanting the best for us was priceless to us in our quest of owning a home.  And, finally Four - have patience, your perfect home (imperfect house) is out there just waiting for you to call it yours, don't get discouraged.  We have learned a lot through this process, not just about mortgages, loans and such but also about our faith.  God wants and desires to be part of every aspect of your life, to be Lord and Sustainer of each decision that you make, even the ones that wouldn't seem so important.  We truly felt God guiding us through our decision making while looking to buy a house.  God speaks clearly on giving and stewardship and we knew we needed to let Him be in charge of our finances.  He gave us a blessing in people who loved us and guided us through the rigorous process of home buying and gave us patience to wait on the perfect home.  It's amazing that the Creator, God wants and desires a personal relationship with us.  He is with us every step of the way.  What a blessing to think about first thing this morning, God is with us and He desires us.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them,  human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8:3-4

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Something Fun - Etsy Treasury

If you have never heard of Etsy - www.etsy.com, please allow me to introduce you.  Etsy is your place to buy and sell all things handmade and vintage.  Everything listed on Etsy is either a handmade item from a talented crafty artist or is a cool vintage/antique find.   Etsy allows artists and crafters to stake a claim on this crazy world wide web to showcase and sell their fabulous creations.  It's a wonderful place to find something different, something one of a kind or something fun.  There really isn't much that hasn't been made and put on Etsy - it's pretty awesome.  The cool thing about buying from Etsy is that most of the time you're helping to support a talented artist/stay at home mother who is striving to help support her own home and family, so why wouldn't you want to buy from them?  I have a little etsy shop where I sell my handmade jewelry and have met some wonderful people all over the country (and even a few across the world!) that have turned out to be great friends and have helped me in various ways when it came to my etsy shop.  Treasuries are something that etsy has designed to let you showcase and promote other etsy shops and I have to say I'm a little addicted to making/browsing them.  Here is a recent treasury I made on Etsy full of items that I am drooling over for my own home.  So, when you have some time, mosey on over and check out Etsy, you will be glad you did!

'House & Home' by daydreamdesign

Lovely items to make your house your home


Vintage Grey Metal ...
$7.50

3D Wall Butterflies...
$18.00

Smile Pillow in Yel...
$38.00

Vintage Turquoise G...
$18.00

Marquee Letters XO ...
$30.00

Side Ruffles Pillow...
$34.00

Greenish Vintage Ca...
$189.00

13 ORGANIC Bird-E T...
$17.00

vintage english mid...
$12.00

fuzzy felted seafoa...
$17.00

Linen Tea Towel - S...
$16.00

Shades of Gray Roun...
$50.00

Reproduction Art Pr...
$18.00

quote / unquote mag...
$9.50

Upcycled Aqua Carni...
$15.00

Naturalist Cutting ...
$68.00

Monday, March 21, 2011

Paint Inspiration - Exterior

One of the first things we'd like to do in our new home is paint the exterior.  Since we have known that the house was ours I have been collecting paint swatches like a mad woman trying to determine which shade I like the best.  We are leaning towards a sage green - more gray than green, but we will see.  Here are few inspiration homes I have found while searching for the perfect color:






I have been obsessed with having a wooden front door until I saw this, I'm kind of loving this!


I'm loving this gray/green color, look out for more posts on what we choose and how we diy paint our house, should be interesting!

How-To Remodel Your Spending - Coupons

I'm following up from this post about remodeling your finances to talk about spending today - specifically grocery shopping.  Ok, once again I am no guru at couponing, actually I really don't know that much at all but it is something I have recently began to do and I am working on getting better.  This is a very basic and beginner how-to for couponing and grocery bill slashing.  I haven't had any crazy experiences yet where I buy $200 worth of groceries for $.10, but maybe one day with some determination I will.   Just like before, saving money on your grocery bills will take some work, organization and time but I've done some of the beginning leg work for you here, so hopefully you will be on your way to saving big bucks soon!  I'm sharing this post now because this week begins Super Doubles at Harris Teeter - starting 3/23!  If you have never used coupons, are new to this whole thing or have no idea how super-doubles work- here's the scoop at Harris Teeter:


* HT begins super doubling coupons at 7:00 AM on the first day of the sale. 24 hour stores do not super double coupons before 7:00 AM on the first day.
* HT will Super Double coupons worth up to $1.98 face value. A $1.50 coupon will double to $3.00. A $1.00 coupon will double to $2.00. A $2.00 coupon will not double at all and will only be taken at face value ($2.00).
* HT will super double/double up to 20 coupons per day. Spouse's cards registered with the same address are linked because the policy is 20 per household, per day. 
* HT policy is to double up to 3 identical coupons (as long as you buy the product required for each coupon, of course). So, if you have five $1.00 coupons for a product, the policy is to only super double the first three.
So, If you have one coupon - it will count as two as long as it does not exceed $1.98 and that can really add up to a lot of savings!  If you have a coupon for $1.00 off and an item costs $2.25, that item will only cost you $.25  that day!  Pretty sweet.  Also, they will only take 20 coupons per day per person (you have to provide your vic card when purchasing and using super doubles).  I don't know about you, but I have noticed a steady incline in the cost of groceries lately and this super double deal is exactly what I need right now.  Also, Harris Teeter is having some of their awesome Buy One - Get One, Buy One - Get Two and Buy Two - Get Three deals as well! The new weekly ad for Harris Teeter will be out Wednesday, so you can check their website for all of the deals they have going on that day  Now, your next question will be, where do I get coupons?  A great place is the Sunday paper but if you don't receive the Sunday paper then you are out of luck with that.  Fortunately, there are some great websites that offer printable coupons to use!  Here is a list of great places to print coupons, just in time for super doubles:
Coupons.com - www.coupons.com
Redplum - www.redplum.com
Pillsbury - www.pillsbury.com
I have also found a couple of Home Improvement coupon deals this week including 10% off at Lowes Here and 10% off at Home Depot Here.  Pretty cool since we are on are way to remodeling our home.  Also, If you are a new mom don't forget to sign up for coupons, rewards and savings at these sites: Pampers, Huggies, Similac & Enfamil
If you are looking for even more coupon saving tips and tricks check out the Smart shopper at: http://smartspendingresources.com/, she is on top of her game and has a lot of info on her website!   So what about you, know of any great coupon deals going on this week?  Share them here!  Happy Shopping!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wall of Integrity


This is not a how-to on creating a really amazing picture/photo wall as seen here.  No, this is a result of March Madness,  and yes those are NCAA Tournament brackets covering our living room wall (aptly named the "Wall of Integrity" to be exact.  I'm not sure how this started but I believe Justin has been creating this masterpiece in our living room for each tournament for the past four years.  This year we have a total of 55 brackets collected from various people we know, many of them from our students.  After each round of games comes to an end Justin takes to highlighting wins and crossing out losses - it's quite a job but he is dedicated.  So, how are we doing so far?  Terrible, probably the worst year yet.  We do however have a baby (yes our son) that is in the lead.  Somehow Justin devised a way for Silas to choose his own picks (some sort of block choosing method) and he is beating everyone and Justin could not be more proud.  We take our NCAA tournament seriously around here so this is a big deal.  I think he has given up on his own bracket and is purely cheering on Silas'.  Is this something we will continue to do in our next home?  Who knows?  It's actually pretty fun and gives me a way to get in on the basketball action.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Looking Back



Since we have less than a week left in our house we have been reminiscing and looking back over the last four years and remembering the great moments we have spent here.  The last several years of our lives have been crammed full of so many wonderful and special moments.  So without further ado, our top ten list of best times:
 10. Rook Nights: This might be a surprise to some but we love playing Rook.  If you have never heard of it or have never played this magnificent card game then you should get with the program.  Best team of All Time - Megan & BMS, hands down.
 9.  Tacky Christmas Lights: Since we have lived here Justin has been all about decorating our house for Christmas - as tacky as he can possibly make it.  It has really turned into a tradition that grew over the years as more and more tacky lights and decorations have been added to the design.  He even has co-designers (conspirators) in BMS, Yow, Buddy and even MT.  There was even a documentary made about it this past Christmas - intriguing let me tell you.  Will the tackiness continue on to our new house?  We will just have to wait and see.
8.  American Ninja Movie Nights: Michael Dudikoff, Steve James, George S. Clinton, Wild Bill, Crazy Super Human Ninjas that somehow are defeated by one man yelling "Die" at them - need I say more?
7.  Cook Outs:  We have had so many it's hard to say which was the best but we will miss cooking out here in a large backyard (one of the things we really do enjoy here).
6.  Tenting it Up:  There is nothing like sitting under a big tent (by tent I mean a patio tent) in the backyard with some of your best friends on a warm summer night just talking about life and listening to a mad scientists create something in his laboratory, what fun!
5.  Bible Study Nights:  We have had the privilege to be part of so many wonderful and meaningful small groups over the last four years.  It's probably one of the things we enjoy the most about student ministry, watching and listening as students grow in their faith.  What a blessing it is to have been part of that in so many lives.  We will always cherish those moments we have had here; the talking, laughing, praying, sharing, tears and joy.
4.  Stromboli Nights:  Our favorite nights with our friends, the end.
3.  Christmas 2010:  We had the chance to host Christmas family time this year for all of Justin's family and we loved every second of it.  That is definitely one of the most special moments we shared here in this house.  It doesn't happen very often - maybe if we are lucky once a year, but to have each and every one of us here together under one roof was pretty cool (for those of you who don't know Justin has a rather large family, it was 22 in all and that's just parents, siblings and their families).
2.  Just Us:  I know this may seem like a weird one but as we were making this list we came to the conclusion that we rather enjoyed our time together as just us while we were here in this house.  That's not to say that we don't thoroughly enjoy our time together now since having our son, but we will never be just Justin and Megan again and those years we had together like that were special.
1.  That brings us to #1 - bringing home King Silas.  You really can't explain the love and joy a child brings into your life.  He gives us so much laughter and sweetness every day, we are overwhelmed at how much we love him.  I can't wait to watch him grow in our new home.  (This is a picture of him the first night we brought him home, I can't believe how big he has grown!) So, that's it for us, the best moments we have experienced over here in our humble abode.  It was really fun to sit down together and talk about our favorite times over the past four years and we are so thankful to have spent them with so many wonderful people.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hurry up and Wait

Waiting- probably one of the most despised past times of Americans.  We are so used to getting what we want and getting it now.  We crave instant gratification.  So here we sit, about a week out from our closing date, waiting.  We have said things like this around our house this week..."I can't wait to move", "I can't wait to not live like this anymore (comment about the maze of boxes and piles of give away stuff we have all around the house), "I can't wait until we have more room", "I can't wait until we have more closets for storage", "I can't wait until we have a fenced in backyard", "I can't wait until we have two toilets" (yes we have lived in a house for 4 years with one tiny bathroom), "I can't wait to be surrounded by floor to ceiling dark paneling" (just kidding, that's not true but a new reality).   Waiting is a part of life and I tend to think God has purposed it that way.  When we wait for something, however long it may be, we are usually more grateful and thankful once we make it through.  Someone might look at the old little house we just bought and think, what are they so excited about? But, we have been waiting in an even older and smaller house for the last four years, and so our gratefulness and thankfulness increases.  Same is true with God, sometimes we have to wait on Him, wait on His answer.  We pray and talk and want resolution immediately...but God chooses to allow us to wait it out.  Ultimately, He knows what's best for us, knows what we will learn and knows how much more thankful and grateful we will be in the end.  So, we have decided to embrace the wait, and think of what blessings we have been given in the meantime and are joyful about the blessings we will one day receive.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DIY - Remodel Your Finances, Budget Time

It's time for us to tighten up our belts around here and get our budget in order.  Now, we are no financial gurus or anything like that, but this guy is.  A couple of years ago we were floundering financially- not because we weren't making money or not working but because we were spending and collecting debt like nobodies business and seriously needed a kick in the rear - enter Dave Ramsey.  His baby steps and snow balling money roll helped get us into gear to get out of debt and even learn how to start saving money- imagine that!  Now that our financial situation has changed again with adding a baby to the mix and now purchasing a home we need a check up.  Today, if you are finding yourself in trouble with debt and feel like there is no way out - stop! Check yourself before you wreck yourself. There is a way out -you got yourself into this situation and you can get your way out, it just takes some determination, a practice in restraint and hard work.  And really, we found it to be a lot simpler and enjoyable than we thought.  It was actually quite nice to make a budget and watch that debt dwindle.  So in following Dave Ramsey's advice and beginning with his baby steps the first thing we did was to get our savings into shape.  He suggests that you need at least $1000 in savings/emergency funds- and don't touch it.  While you are working on this, don't worry about your debt until you get your savings right.  This first step is crucial and will help you begin the process of learning how to save and budget your money.  The next thing we did was to sit down and determine our budget.  This was a little tricky for us at first - it probably took us about a month to get it exactly right but boy when we got it right it was right.  We knew exactly what we were bringing home and exactly where each penny was going - what a great feeling.   One of the best things we did was to envoke the envelope method.  We allocated several different envelopes for our weekly spending, put the amount of budgeted cash in each one each week and only spent that amount.  We didn't even use our debit cards while we used this method.  Our envelopes were as follows:
1. Groceries
2. Gas
3. Fun
4. Extra
Groceries and Gas are pretty self explanatory but let's discuss fun and extra.  Fun included anything like dinner or movie out, clothes, golf trips, etc.  So anything outside of "needs"and really more of "wants".   Extra was for any unforeseen expenses- like a doctor's appointment, prescriptions a new tire, etc. After each week was over any money that was still left in the envelopes went straight to savings.  This became actually fun for us to see how much we could save and not spend during the week.  We significantly cut back on our "fun" spending right away since that was an easy one to save because it was a "wants" purchase anyway.  For us, the envelope method was the best, we are visual learners I guess - and bonus, I can lay down mad rhymes.  Seriously though, knowing that I was walking into the grocery store with a certain amount of cash and that I could only spend that much was extremely helpful and we wasted not one penny. Now I'll back up for a minute, in our budget we had enough wiggle room to allocate extra payments towards our monthly credit card bill each month.  If you don't, then using the envelope method and putting all of that extra towards your debt would work perfectly.  After making extra payments each month towards our credit card and sticking to our budget we were able to get rid of that debt in just about a year, yippee!  Next, we took the money we put towards our credit card and snow balled it right over to the car payment (this is actually baby step #2) - you can imagine how fast your debt will start disappearing by doing this!  It really is quite the thrill, you just have to start baby stepping and believe me - it goes a lot quicker than you think.   It is also an amazing feeling to be in control of spending and able to do things -like actually give.  Which really was a reality check for us - and a continuing reminder that all this time we could have been doing good for God's kingdom instead of wastefully spending on burgers and french fries.  So what about you? Do you need a financial reality check this month?  Come join us as we tighten up our budget, remodel our finances and enjoy the peace it brings!

Check out this link for Dave Ramsey's Baby Step Plan for getting out of Debt!

"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" 
1 Corinthians 4:2

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Less is More- Goodbye Mount Stuffmore

Purge, Purge and Purge some more. That's pretty much our life motto right now as we have been painstakingly going through the boxes, bags, drawers, cabinets and closets that are now full of random items and junk we have accumulated over the past ten years and are now overflowing (well I should say were full).  How did it get like this?! -We ask each other this over and over as we sift and throw away bag after bag.  It's amazing the things a person will keep, for example:  A box full of old High school spiral notebooks chocked full with - you guessed it - notes from high school classes...hmmm glad we held on to that, but wait! there's more - my bedspread from when I was a teenager, seriously? who keeps that?  Especially when it's old and ripped.  Also on the list, a box full of lighthouse bathroom items - towels, soap dispensers, even a half-used border from about 9 years ago.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that one, how overly "themed" was that bathroom? and, I'm even more embarrassed to say it was so hard letting that box go - Luckily I had my sweet husband and kind sister there by my side lending some encouragement as Justin exclaims (demands), "NO MORE LIGHTHOUSE BATHROOMS!" and my sister laughs and remarks - "Seriously, throw it away".  But, I finally see the ridiculousness of this and let it go and feel good about it later.  And, I hereby make the promise of no more lighthouse or any themed sort of bathroom in our new house or new houses hereafter.  Letting go and starting fresh is such a wonderful feeling.  Sometimes it can be a hard thing to let go of something that we have been holding onto for a while, something that really is just junk.  We tend to do that in our spiritual lives as well - hold onto sin, things that are just junk that are cluttering our hearts and taking up space that should be filled with good things - things that matter.  So as we purge our house of our junk we can't help but look at our spiritual house as well and find what needs to be thrown out and given away to God and replaced with his grace - the good stuff.

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" Ephesians 2:7

Friday, March 11, 2011

Out with the Old, in with the New - Sort Of


We are so pumped to have purchased a house after renting for several years now. A lot has happened to us over the last several years so let me recap - We got married, bought a house, couldn't ignore God's call in our lives, sold our house, Justin goes back to school, we both get new jobs, start renting, fall in love with student ministry and can't get enough, have a baby, Justin graduates, we buy a house again!! That's pretty much the last ten years of our lives in a nutshell - but with so many awesome and amazing details tucked in. We have loved our rental home that we have been in over the last 4 years but it has just felt temporary for us and we have been patiently waiting for the right time and the perfect house to come our way. Funny thing is, we ignored this house and blew it off for months after finally going to look at it...why you ask? It's ugly, probably the ugliest one on the street, but something moved us when we walked in and it just felt right, like home. I think we have been secretly desiring that feeling for a while, a house that feels like home. It has so much potential in our eyes, so many things we can work on and we can't wait to start digging in. As I write this I can't help but notice the overwhelming and obvious comparison this ugly house has to us and our lives before we meet Jesus. We are ugly and empty and in need of someone to love us and fill us with beauty and grace. God sees all the potential inside of us and can't wait to start digging in, making our heart his home and weeding out the ugly and making us beautiful. How awesome is that? So that's our plan with our little ugly house, to make it home and make it beautiful.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17




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