Grief in the Time of Pandemic – learning to hold joy and sadness at once

Did you see our big announcements?  We are over the moon excited, but that feeling has been paired with a lot of disappointment and grief as well over the last two months. This time has been REALLY hard. 

Now, I’m not saying I am any worse off than anyone else. I know so many people are going through things that are so much harder, but I think all of us have experienced grief and disappointment on some level in all of this. It’s okay to acknowledge those feelings, even if they don’t feel as “big” as what other people are going through. 

One thing I am trying to get better at is being okay with opposing emotions. My default would be to not acknowledge the sadness this time has held because I should be HAPPY about these changes. Or alternatively, I would only feel the “woe is me” from the sadness and forget to celebrate the joy of this season. I have some great role models in my life teaching me that it’s okay to feel both. That Jesus can handle both. That both are valid, even at the same time.

The time we are living in is so unique. I want to remember both and document both sides of life in this time. Today, I want to document the harder parts.

Baby Announcement – but make it virtual

Our birth announcements didn’t get to be WITH our people. While we were never the type of couple that would have had a big, flashy announcement, it was still hard to not get to tell people in person (or at all for many people). I’d always imagined having time with my wonderful friends and coworkers soaking up the same joy that I’d seen showered on other people in my circle in the past.  No one gets excited about a baby like my coworkers. They are just the best. Instead, I had to tell them on Zoom from quarantine, and some I never got to tell. 

That alone wouldn’t have been too painful. After all – I’ll be pregnant for many more months.  However, we had the added news of moving to a new state!  This was the only true chance I would have to celebrate with my people.  

I will say, the bright side of pregnancy in this season has been not going to work. I’ve been SO nauseated 24/7, and being able to lay in bed more than I would have was a bonus!

Grief in the Goodbyes

Moving in a pandemic, during a time of staying-at-home, also meant we didn’t get to visit with our dearest friends and family before leaving.  We didn’t get to visit our favorite places one last time. There was no final weekend with our church family. One of the hardest parts is that I never got to say goodbye to my kiddos or the community that I’ve built at NLA over the last 6 years. 

It feels as though we have simply disappeared – that we’re ghosting everyone from our life in Minnesota. It’s hard. Thanks to the need for learning packets, I did get to say goodbye to a handful of coworkers. But without the hugs or the time to really get to say goodbye, it all felt so surreal.

On the other side

The grief didn’t stop when we crossed state lines.  Even though we live in the place we’ve wanted to for a long time and we are SO thrilled to be here, it’s hard. One of the things we promised each other long before we moved is that we would immediately join a church and meet the people in our community. Relationships take time, and we wanted to start working on that right away. Now, even though our new state is slowly starting to lift restrictions, we have to be extra cautious because of my pregnancy. Church isn’t open. Our neighborhood events have all been cancelled, and the common areas are closed. While on many days, it doesn’t feel any different than being safe-at-home in Minnesota, some days it feels lonelier.

I’m not writing any of this for pity, but simply because I want to remember what this season was like.  It’s such a strange thing to move, announce a pregnancy, and just live during a pandemic!

COVID and Moving and Baby, Oh My!

The last two months have been a whirlwind, and not just because of all the things going on in the world right now.  It’s an exciting time in the Osegard household. 


First of all, Baby Osegard is coming this fall! We are so excited to meet this little one *hopefully* in October. More on that another time, because that is not the only big news from our family . . .


We live in Franklin, TN now! 

I know, we didn’t get to tell everyone before we left.  It was the worst of goodbyes, but we’re living in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC and that really messed with our plan.

We’d known for a while that we would move, likely this summer, but we decided to wait to announce it until things were solidified in mid-March. 

Remember Mid-March 2020? That is about when things all started to go a little crazy in our part of the world.  Our governor announced that we would stay home for two weeks.  No big deal, right?  It wasn’t ideal timing, but we thought we would be in MN til the end of May, so we would wait til the start of April when we could see our people again to let them know. 

Our governor (wisely) kept extending our stay-at-home deadline. At the same time, we had some interesting scenarios with our landlord and buyer that meant we now had to be out of our house before the end of April.  It created a whirlwind of figuring out how we would move in under 30 days, say goodbye to our people, and how I would finish off the school year.  Not only that, but the time had come to start telling our people about Baby Osegard! It was a lot to process. 

As the pandemic situation kept changing world-wide, we found ourselves on an even tighter deadline to not only say our goodbyes, but to do all of the big things that are involved with a move to a new state, and start planning for the new addition to our family! 


If we didn’t get to tell you in person, please know we are truly sorry.  We hadn’t been to work in person since the start of March. We also hadn’t gone to church since February! That made us miss out on seeing a lot of our people which made it hard to spread the news! We wish we could have told each and everyone of you in person and celebrate and said goodbye!

  ps. There are so many more updates to come with more details! 

Rearranging Our House to Match Our Priorities

“We’re going to spend less time on screens”, “No more wasting time on binge-watching”, “Let’s read more this year!” And so on and so forth. But then we come home from work tired or bored and ‘Voila’! The Good Place is magically on and we’ve already watched five episodes. Wouldn’t it be great if these priorities could actually impact how we organize our lives?

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “Show me your calendar and I’ll show you where your priorities are.” But Cody and I are totally good there, aren’t we? I mean, we make time for date night every week, volunteer at church, go to our small group, and so on. My guess is that whoever first said that quote meant more than the big events on our calendar, and more how we spend our time in general. I guess that’s pretty obvious, but as I let that sink in I realized that maybe I’m not living into the priorities I claim to have.

What ARE our priorities?

If you ask us our priorities, they are our faith, our marriage, and growth. But do our daily habits make these priorities obvious? I would say the “big events” on our calendar reflected those priorities. But the things we were doing on a daily basis showed our priorities to be work, television, and social media.

When we started our weekly sabbath – a time away from work – we started to take an honest look at how much time we were spending on things that we didn’t claim to be priorities. To start, we decided to realign our priorities by doing a complete tech detox on our sabbath each week. That means zero screen time. It wasn’t until we completely detoxed that we realized how much time we were spending on it ordinarily.

We made the same empty promises again, but kept slipping up almost immediately. Our house and life was set up to be conducive to our screen time, and was even preventing us from pursuing the priorities we wanted to have.

We truly loved how our home was setup and arranged. It was cozy and comfortable. All of our main living activities happened on the main level, which made things easy. However, having our television in our main living space meant that our TV was just always ON. While we cooked, while we ate, while we played games, any time we had a minute of downtime. It was right there, so it was easy.

We made the decision to rearrange our house. Not knowing where to start, we looked at the list of things we always said we “should” do more of.

Out with the old priorities. . .

The first step was to get rid of the things that we were turning to too often. Our basement had mostly become our gym and our dumping grounds for extra stuff. We de-cluttered (BIG TIME) and made the decision to move the television to the basement. It means giving up some fun traditions, like watching Christmas movies while baking cookies. But it also means we don’t just turn on the TV during dinner or anytime we walked into our main living area.

. . .and in with the new

The next step was to fill our newly empty living room with the things we wanted to do more often. We moved our piano down from our office. Our devotional items and many of our books moved out to a more accessible place too. It’s made it a lot easier to get into the habit of daily time in the Word and reading for fun!

The final move was to bring our games out of our office closet down to our living room. To be honest, I’m not a big game person. However, we’ve found a few that I don’t mind playing over and over. It has been great to build a new hobby and have time to talk instead of sitting side by side binge-watching shows.

What’s changed

Now, to be totally honest, it hasn’t solved our fixation with screens. We still are on our phones far too much. Neither of us practice piano as much as we envisioned. Cody and I first bonded over movies and tv shows, so we don’t want to cut them completely. So, we are working on finding a healthier balance for our relationship. The goal is that screen time can be intentional – only watching shows when it’s for a reason and on purpose. It’s all too easy to just turn on a show and veg out, and that isn’t helping us focus on our priorities.

Some things ARE getting better. We now eat together at the table more often than we eat in front of the television. Our open living room gives us easy access to our books, and a comfortable place to spend time with God. Before, we were so exhausted from the constant hustle of life. All we could do when we had free time was become zombies in front of the television! Plus, the fact that our basement gets REALLY cold in the winter means that we opt for card games upstairs. While there is still a LONG way to go, we’ve come a long way, too, and that’s something worth celebrating!

Baby Step Update: Where we are five years after FPU

It’s been a year an a half since we become debt free! Progress at this point feels a lot slower, so we haven’t been great about keeping you updated! You can read about our financial journey up to this point here.

In January of 2015, we first took Financial Peace University. We were so stressed about our finances and insurance and debt and investing. We were in over our head, and it was time to get help.

During the 9 week class, we learned SO much. We also decided that the only way we would stay on track is if we had some benchmarks to get us through the next ten years. We set five financial goals that felt like absolute BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). In fact, I remember being nearly in tears, because it seemed impossible that we could be at that point in ten years.

We want to share where we are at 5 years after completing the class. We don’t share to brag about how we are doing, but to encourage you that these Baby Steps TRULY work. If you’re willing to put in the work and make the sacrifices that need to be made, you WILL see results.

Goal 1: Paying off loans in 8 years – by Christmas 2022

If you haven’t been following our journey, here’s a brief history. We had $111,424 in student loans with interest rates ranging from 3.5% to 12.5%. Cody was working in IT, and I was a part time preschool teacher’s aide at the time. We both took on extra jobs, cut back our spending, learned to budget, and threw as much money as possible at the loans.

3.5 year after getting started, we paid off our final loan in April of 2018! We were able to go to Nashville to celebrate that following August. We even were a part of the Dave Ramsey show by doing a debt free scream! It was SO special to be able to celebrate our hard work that way!

So doing the math here, we accomplished this goal 4.5 years early!

Goal 2: Be able to set aside travel money for one vacation a year

Travel is important to us, but it can also be expensive. We wanted to be able to take at least one bigger trip each year. We’ve set up a sinking fund (setting aside money each month) for travel and have made that dream a reality. We still have to budget wisely for our travels, and have made sacrifices in other areas to make it happen, but it has been worth it! Being able to travel even while getting out of debt has been such a blessing for us.

Goal 3: Have an Emergency Fund of 3 months of expenses saved up

This is SO important to have! Emergencies happen. Sicknesses, illnesses, and disabilities can happen too. The theory behind having 3-6 months of expenses saved up in a nutshell is:

  1. Long Term Disability insurance often doesn’t kick in for 30-90 days. If you are out of work because of an injury, you may still need to cover your expenses until this kicks in.
  2. If you lose your job, having 3-6 months of expenses gives you time to find a new job. And if by terrible luck it takes longer to get a new job, you can often get a part-time job delivering pizzas or something. This little bit of extra income can supplement your emergency fund until you can get a full-time job again.

When we got out of debt, we were both working a lot of extra side jobs, so we were living on under 50% of our income. That meant we were able to finish our 6 month emergency fund in just 5 months!

Goal 4: Increase retirement to 15%

This is baby step 4! There is something unofficially called “Baby Step 3b” which is saving for a down payment for a house. We spent a few months on this, while saving enough into Cody’s 401k to max out the employer match. However, since we are still debating the 100% down plan, we have now moved forward to Baby Step 4. It’s a big step to start saving a full 15% of your income, but we know that future us will thank us for doing this.

Goal 5: Start saving for a car and a house

We actually bought our second car for a steal of a deal (in cash, of course) during our time getting out of debt. Since then, our first car became more of a burden than a blessing. Since we started a sinking fund for a car way back in our first FPU class, we don’t have to worry! We’ve sold the “extra” car since Alyssa walks to work right now, and threw the cash into that sinking fund account. We have the money to get a new-to-us car when we need one!

As I mentioned, we also started saving for a house between baby steps 3 and 4. Our BHAG is to pay 100% in cash, but we also know that will take a LONG time to save for. At the VERY minimum, we will pay 20% down to avoid PMI. We will also buy a house that we can afford the 15-year-mortgage (to reduce interest and time in debt). Our house expenses will also be less than 25% of our monthly income, so that our house stays a blessing and not a financial burden!

Moving on to new things

I honestly can’t believe it. We’ve already accomplished all of these financial goals that we wanted to complete by 2025. It was NOT easy. It took a lot of sacrifice, learning, and budgeting to get to this point.

The craziest part is that we’re not done! We’ve got more to do. We’re planning on saving for another year and a half before we re-evaluate our house plan. We’ve recently switched to 15% of our income going to retirement, so we’re setting goals about where we want our net worth to be in the next few years as well. We’re still working on setting some more firm numbers on our goals, but knowing that we are more than 5 years ahead of where we thought we would be is absolutely incredible!

If you want to learn more about taking a financial peace class, reach out to us at [email protected] or search for a class here!

A new relationship with food

When we got married I could cook Mac ’n cheese and anything that went in a microwave.

That’s it. Unless you count the fact that I can follow a good cookie recipe after a couple of years working in the Wartburg Bakery!

To cook or not to cook

Cody, however, had worked as a cook in a restaurant for a number of years. Honestly, I was a bit terrified of cooking for him (you know, for fear of poisoning him). I avoided cooking as much as possible and went with super fool-proof recipes, eating out, or letting Cody cook. Once I realized that the odds of me unintentionally poisoning my new husband were pretty slim, I decided to learn how to cook.

I would make fun meals from our favorite restaurants like this 3 Cheese Chicken Penne from Applebees. I loved learning to get creative with leftovers to reduce food waste. My cookbooks were out four hours at a time as I searched for recipes that would be fun to make. I was learning slowly, but it was fun and I gained confidence with every meal I made.

Tacos always encourage love of cooking and eating!

The meals we made we delicious, but often very heavy in processed things that were not great for us. It was weighing me down physically and mentally, but I didn’t mind too much because I was finally having fun!

Food for the body AND mind

A couple of years later, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Both were just on the verge of needing medication, but I wanted to avoid that at all costs. TRULY, no shame to those who medicate. It was a personal decision, because I’m very sensitive to medication, so I wanted to avoid it if possible. To avoid taking medication, I had to double down on anything that I could control in my lifestyle to help manage my symptoms. I exercised, spent more time growing in my faith, went to therapy, committed to 8 hours of sleep nightly, etc. It was all helping some, but I could tell there was still something messing with me mentally. No matter how I avoided it, the time had come that I needed to adjust my eating habits.

A balanced intake of food

I started focusing more on portion sizes and getting a good balance of protein, veggies, fruits, carbs, healthy fats, etc. Even though I didn’t want to admit it, it was making a huge difference in my darkest days with mental health struggles.

However, it also hurt my enjoyment of cooking. I became too focused on eating what was “right” that I would only eat what I thought I was allowed that day. Alternatively, I would give myself too much grace and binge on every “junk” food I could think of for a few days because I “deserved it”. Cooking became more of a battle and less of a joy.

Since I didn’t enjoy my time in the kitchen anymore, I got frustrated and started losing the results I had been feeling physically and mentally.

I found myself frequently ordering pizza because making a perfectly balanced, portioned meal feels like too much work. I wouldn’t allow myself some of my favorite meals because they were too carb-heavy. Maybe they had too many processed ingredients, or didn’t have enough (or any) veggies or proteins.

However, some of the recipes I was avoiding truly would be beneficial in some ways. They were made of 100% whole food and 0 processed junk. They were healthy, even if they weren’t “PERFECT” to my meal plans.

Learning to love cooking aaing

Finding a balance

This year, I’m committing to making more food at home, even if it isn’t balanced perfectly. Instead, I’m balancing my enjoyment in the kitchen with my need to eat whole, nutritious foods. I want to love being in the kitchen AND be healthy physically and emotionally. It’s possible. I still use many of the guidelines I learned in the food programs I followed to help me stay on track, but I don’t fret about being perfect anymore. It’s still a work in progress, but 2020 will be the year I find my love for cooking once again.

The Bible in a Year: What I learned and why I’m NOT doing it this year

Bible in the Year: the first time

I grew up in church. I was there multiple times a week, went through 8+ years of AWANA, and basically my schedule revolved around all youth group activities. Add that fact to my Type A personality and my yearly goal-setting for a decade, and you’d think I’d have read the whole Bible in a year.

I hadn’t.

In 2019, I set a goal to go through the whole Bible in a year, a goal I had set for many years. Finally, in 2019, I followed through!

It wasn’t perfect. That’s for sure. I’ve always struggled with letting my mind wander while I read my Bible, which is why I had never succeeded in my goal before. I decided I needed a new method, and went with an audio Bible. Since I already use my podcast app almost daily, I went with the Daily Audio Bible Podcast.

Biggest lessons learned reading the Bible in a year

Done is Better Than Perfect

I learned to live the idea that done is better than perfect. Many days, I listened to the day’s readings with 100% focus and attention. Other days, it ended up being background noise. Most days fell somewhere in the middle. Did I get the most out of every single day? No. I learned a lot more in 365 days of varied attentiveness than I would have gotten without trying. If I read the Bible in a year, I can try to learn more than I did this last time! Progress really is better than perfection.

Discipline can be built

I learned to build my discipline muscle! Actually sticking with a formation for a full year taught me that I could do it with something else that I’ve struggled with. (Spoiler alert: This year I’m trying to apply that discipline to exercise – which I’ve also struggled with).

The Bible is a complete work

One thing that was really neat about this little experiment of listening to the whole Bible was seeing the Bible as a complete work for the first time. It was so cool to see God’s faithfulness to His people time and time again, no matter how ridiculous they were being!

It’s a big commitment, but not impossible

I also learned that going through the whole Bible is a big commitment. I was surprised that it only ended up being 20-30 minutes a day, but to TRULY give it the attention and study the Bible deserves would have taken much longer and without multi-tasking.

This year

This year, I’m not going through the Bible in a year. I think it would have to be more of an every other year commitment for me to get a lot of of it. By the end of year, I found my attentive days becoming less and less common. I don’t want it to be a mindless routine that I follow, but something that is actually helping me grow. By keeping it fresh each year, I’m hoping to keep my interest and therefore keep my faith growing. This year, I’m experimenting with some other ideas, that I’ll share as the year goes on!

Traveling and Wildlife

Alyssa and I love to travel to more remote locations, especially when we can combine traveling and wildlife. Our favorites are places where we can truly connect with the local culture and experience the nature and wildlife in an authentic way.

Our Favorite Vacation (so far)

We have had some great opportunities to travel throughout our college and married years so far. Some of our favorite (and not-so-favorite, but still memorable) wildlife encounters happened on our honeymoon trip to Costa Rica back in 2014.

At our first location, we stayed in a remote villa on a hillside near the ocean. Each morning, we would wake up, make coffee (of course) and sit outside on the patio to just watch and listen. The sounds of the ocean, birds and lizards all around, and even a family of monkeys swinging around in the trees right outside! Being surrounded by nature can be so restful and relaxing.

But, it can also be a bit more, how do I put this, unnerving?

At our second location, we stayed in a cabin in the rainforest, almost completely off the grid. At dusk each night, the staff would light candles and torches around the property and cabin, as there was limited electricity. They even had hot tubs that were drained and filled every day from the river, and heated by completely by wood fire. Our cabin was great, the food and service was phenomenal, and we were so relaxed. And then we went to bed.

That’s when traveling and wildlife collided.

Alyssa was concerned with the mosquito net that was covering our bed, because the opening hadn’t closed completely when I climbed in after her. I assured her nothing would get in, but hopped over and tucked the net under the mattress to ease her mind. And then, we heard a noise. “It’s just something out in the rainforest, nothing to be worried about!” I said, like I’m an expert on the noises in a tropical rainforest or something.

Then another noise. “Okay that was inside, but I’m sure it’s just one of the lizards we’ve been seeing all over the place, they’re harmless!”

And then it happened. Something jumped off the ground at the foot of the bed, climbed all the way up the net, and ran over our heads. It jumped off the net and into the rafters overhead.

I (Cody) knew that until we knew what it was, and that it was gone, Alyssa would NEVER sleep again. I climbed out of the bed, QUICKLY tucking the net in all the way around the bed behind me. Grabbing a flashlight, I starting looking and tracked the critter to the bathroom. Sitting overhead on the rafter beams, staring back with big bulging eyes was a mouse. Not like a common midwest mouse either, but a furry brown mouse that was more like a large hamster.

Needless to say, we slept the rest of our stay with the bug net tucked in all around the mattress. But even so, we plan to return to the exact same lodge and stay again. Why would we do that to ourselves?

Totally worth it.

First off, the food. I’m pretty sure we would fly back to Costa Rica JUST for a home-cooked meal at that lodge. All of the food is cooked over wood-fired stoves and ovens, using ingredients grown or raised right on the property

Secondly, the people. We met so many people from Costa Rica (and around the world) there. Every person we met was so kind to us. We felt so loved and cared for, even by complete strangers.

More impressive than the food (and at least as impressive as the people) was how connected to nature we felt. We hiked around the property and enjoyed the acres of farmland, natural rain forest, wildlife, and gardens. We took a guided rain forest hike on the side of the volcano, up the road in a national park. Everywhere we looked, there was more natural beauty to see an experience. It was really like a step back in time, into a partially untamed wilderness.

There is just something about being IN nature that feels so right. Something so truly restful about enjoying and appreciating all that God has created. All the way down to that darn mouse running around in your cabin like he owns the place. How can we not be in awe with the amazing wildlife and habitats that exist? We are just so grateful that we have the chance to experience it, even when things don’t go according to OUR plan.

To Hell with the Hustle

Anyone who knows Cody and I can attest – we’ve been busy and we’ve loved it. One of the things that initially attracted us was this constant hustle. We were always going. Until recently, when we’ve together decided to say To Hell with the Hustle.

That’s the title of a book I recently read that got me thinking about the relationship between Cody and I. Don’t let the title turn you away. It’s in your face, but the author, Jeff Bethke, intends it two ways:

To hell with it, meaning I’m done. . . and two, I also truly me to hell with it. Jesus was never in a hurry. . . Hustle isn’t him.

Jefferson Bethke, “To Hell with the Hustle”

We loved the hustle

In college, both of us were in multiple music groups, led various groups on campus, had overly-packed class loads, and worked 3+ jobs at any given time. And honestly, we loved it.

Cody and Alyssa pose together after a choir concert.

We believed we were pursuing MORE in life by constantly doing more and saying YES to everything we could.  We saw other people wasting time partying each weekend, while we were growing and doing. 

That attitude continued until about four years into our marriage.  We would hustle and push and ACHIEVE until one of us stressed ourselves out to the point of sickness or tears.  Then we’d regroup, pick a day to work a ton, and get back to hustling until the next wave of overwhelm rolled in.

Even though it was destroying us, we thought we were doing what was best. We would make the most of this life in order to be who God created us to be.

Our dreams were about BEING but our actions were about DOING.  

It's time to stop doing and start becoming

That’s when it all started to change, one step at a time.   

The first step was having an open, honest conversation together. We started talking more about who wanted to be. Who are the Osegards?  The first things that came to mind revolved around working and hustling, but that wasn’t what we wanted.

After a LOT of discussion and back and forth, we created our Family Mission.

“We exist to Glorify God.  The Osegards fulfill this by being intentional and generous with our time, talents, and treasures, and by being authentic to ourselves and others.”

When this came together, we felt a sense of peace that was pretty quickly followed by a gut punch.

Is working three jobs a piece – that are helping our financial hopes, but are not necessary – being intentional with our time?  Does it allow us to be generous with our time in ways like serving others, hosting people, or meeting in community with others?  


We loved saying yes.  If we said no, what might we miss out on?  But constantly saying yes wasn’t being intentional with our time, talent or treasure.

The burned out versions of ourselves we were seeing on a regular basis were anything but authentic.

Nothing in this seemed to Glorify God.

Next, we learned to say no. 

This was HARD.  Saying yes was something we took pride in, but it was taking over our lives.  We started saying no to basically EVERYTHING.

It was like a detox for the soul.  We stopped saying yes altogether for a time, and were able to figure out what things were still important, and what things we were simply doing because we felt that we should.

I don’t recommend saying no to everything forever, but like Jefferson Bethke says, “If you’re not saying no to dang good things, you’re probably not saying no enough.”  Every yes seems to lead to more yeses.  Saying no helps you have margin in your life.

Finding that margin began to change how we relate with time, with Jesus, and with each other.

We started to rest. 

We immediately started 24 hour rest periods where we, “cease from what is necessary and embrace that which gives life.” (Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God).

It was hard.  It invited a lot of silence and discomfort for a while. The hustle was so engrained in us that we didn’t know any other speed beyond HUSTLE.

We still have those moments, but this time of rest has become a weekly rhythm in our life. 

You can read more about our Sabbath Journey here.

Living In God’s Gift 

Part of me wishes that I had understood my whole life about the gift of rest that God has given us.  But I’d guess that without hitting these breaking points, we wouldn’t have realized the gift it truly is. We had to experience hustle culture in order to “resist the noise and speed of the air and instead embrace the slowness of Jesus.” (Jefferson Bethke, To Hell with the Hustle).

To Hell With the Hustle

I think our work ethic was one of the things that drew Cody and I together. It was part of our identity. Slowing down and learning that we are loved for more than what we do has been a growing process and has changed our relationship.

We’ve had to learn who we are outside of what we DO. It’s a hard journey, but has been so worth it.

The more we embrace God’s rest – and we are FAR from perfect in this area – the more we say “To Hell with the Hustle”.

The Purpose of Church

For the first 20+ years of my life, I thought that the church was there for me. To enhance MY spiritual development, build MY spiritual life. and apply to ME. All I had to do was show up, “Fill my cup,” and if I was feeling especially ambitious, actually implement what I learned during the sermon.

It’s not just me

Frankly, I think a lot of us feel that way about church, at least at times. I see it reflect in the way we talk about how “that message really spoke to me,” and “I feel great after going to church.” Or sometimes, “I didn’t like that sermon. It didn’t apply to me.”

Now, these aren’t necessarily bad things to think. The problem is that it becomes a slippery slope to becoming more self-focused and less other-focused. When the church is full of self-focused people, a new issue arises. Suddenly, church-people begin alienating others from the church because they don’t fit into your mold of what a church-goer ought to be. And when that happens – when we start excluding people from our time at church – we’ve missed the purpose of church altogether.

The Purpose of Church

As it turns out, the purpose of the church is to love others and introduce them to Jesus.

The church isn’t here for me. I already know Jesus. It’s now my responsibility to turn around and love others. Jesus left us these instructions after He was raised from the dead,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

-Matthew 28: 19-20

If church is an exclusive club for Christians only, how do we fulfill the great commission Jesus gives us in Matthew 28?

Church can be a little bit for you

YES – God wants me to grow deeper in my relationship with Him and learn, grow, and change to be more like Jesus. But that is not why the church exists. The church is a place where I can invite people to step into a relationship with God. Going to church should be less of an inward reflection of my faith and more of an outward expression of my faith.

In a sermon from Bridgetown Church recently, I heard the quote “Church is not a spectator sport”. Church is where we put our faith into action by showing people God’s love!

If the church isn’t there for our personal fulfillment, how do we develop a deeper relationship with God and grow in our faith? It all starts with the right next step.

Next Steps

Volunteering at Church

Volunteering at church is a great way to honor God and to help the church fulfill it’s purpose. When you serve at church, you are filling a need the church has. From keeping things clean, to making people feel welcome, or leading Christ-followers and guests in teachings that help them take the next step in their faith journey.

It’s no surprise that volunteering makes you feel good, too. On a personal level, it can give you opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have that may strengthen your relationship with God. I know my faith has been strengthened through the conversations I have had with families in my role as a Children’s Teacher.


Maybe the next step you need to take to go deeper in your faith is inviting someone to church. If the purpose of the church is to love people and reach others for Christ, an invitation from a loving neighbor may be the only thing standing in the way of your neighbor’s next step in their faith.

Inviting someone to church can be scary. The risk of rejection is ever-present. Not only could it make a difference for the person you invite, but the experience will stretch you out of your comfort zone and help you grow as well!

Joining a Small Group

When I get self-centered about church, I find myself saying things like “The message just wasn’t deep enough for me” or “I just need MORE from church.”

(News flash, Lyss. It ain’t about you.)

That’s the purpose of a small group. Speaking from experience, finding a small group that is a good fit can be TOUGH. Building relationships with strangers takes vulnerability, honesty, and straight-up BRAVERY. It’s tough stuff, but these groups are meant to take things to the next level!

Don’t be afraid to “shop around” for the right group for a while. If you aren’t finding the right group for you, maybe it’s even time to look at starting your own group and inviting others to join you!


If you’ve been around our blog for any amount of time, you probably know that we are firm believers in tithing.

Giving up 1/10 of your income isn’t always easy, but it symbolizes our TRUST that God’s got this. It is a tangible way to take something that matters so much to our society, and loosen our grip. Tithing forces us to put HIM first and our own desires (including our desire to be fully in control) last. This kind of giving can be a great next step in trusting God.

Studying Your Bible

Sometimes I get caught up reading devotional books and still not feeling super fulfilled spiritually. It frustrates me to no end, but then it hits me. If I want to grow spiritually, I need to study my Bible. Studying books with a faith theme is GREAT (in fact, it’s one of my favorite types of books to read). However, no devotional-type book can ever replace the real-deal.

When you truly dig into the Bible and spend time with God, your relationship with God WILL deepen.

What is your Next Step?

Is it:

  • Volunteering?
  • Inviting your neighbor or coworker to a service?
  • Joining or starting a small group?
  • Tithing?
  • Truly studying your bible?

For us, we’ve done a good job of getting involved at church. Church isn’t a spectator sport to us. However we do sometimes fall into the trap of not “getting enough” out of church. It feels like we sometimes don’t manage to “fill our cups”. We will be working on diving in more outside of church. You can keep us accountable. . .We’re joining a small group this fall AND plan on spending more time actually reading the Bible, especially on our Sabbath days.

What will you do to take the next step? Now’s the time!

Why we love Compassion International

In 2015, we went to a Hillsong concert. As with many Christian concerts, there was the plug for sponsoring a child through an organization called Compassion International. We’d heard the spiel a hundred times, and while it sounded great, we never felt like it was something we wanted or could afford to do.

Why We Love Compassion International

This time was different. On one hand, we were probably more worried about finances then at any other point in our marriage. We had TONS of student debt we wanted to get rid of (and fast), so the idea of spending an extra $38 or $45 a month was pretty absurd.

Sponsor a child?

I (Alyssa) sat through the whole talk, mostly just waiting for intermission to be over. But as I sat, I felt my heart actually aching for these children. I started to feel a responsibility to take care of “the least of these”. My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty and I KNEW that I wanted to sponsor a child.

Some day.

I knew there was no way that I’d be able to talk Cody into it. It would feel irresponsible with our money. Sure, helping other people is great, but we can’t handle our money as is. I decided not to say anything.

Little did I know, Cody was feeling the same way. There was something at work inside both of us. God was clearly trying to tell us something this time.

We looked at each other and, without saying a word, knew it was something we both felt was important.

“Are you sure?”


“Can we make it work?”

“For $45, it does so much. It’s a stretch, but . . . “

“It’s worth it.”

Why We Love Compassion International

Why Compassion International?

We LOVE sponsoring Aklesso. We’ve seen him grow so much. One thing Compassion International does that is really neat is that they send reports to us that assess where our sponsored child is at physically, cognitively, spiritually, and socio-emotionally. Not only does it measure his progress so we can see that our gifts make a difference, but they offer practical ways for us to encourage growth in each of the areas.

Why We Love Compassion International

We have not always been great about writing letters. However, now that we can write letters online (and attach pictures), it has become an easier thing to do. He is still young, and I’m sure doesn’t understand why he “has” to write letters back to us. We try to maintain a good relationship without overwhelming him. I hope that as he grows, we can develop a true relationship through these letters and that he would know how loved he is.

Is it really helping?

Absolutely. There are a lot of great, responsible non-profits out there, but we are so happy to support Compassion International and the work they do. More than 80% of all the donations received is spent directly in support of the children. By keeping their overhead low, we know that they are committed to truly making a difference. And, as of last count we’ve heard, there are more than 1.8 million children worldwide that are currently receiving support!

It’s $45 dollars a month to us, but it’s an entire life change for him. A change that (statistically) will help him change his family for generations to come!