Quarterly Meeting for our Marriage

We have quarterly meetings for our marriage.

I know, it sounds SUPER romantic to treat our marriage like a business. There’s really nothing sexier than a quarterly meeting, am I right? However, we felt pretty convicted by the fact that both of us spend a large chunk of time planning in our jobs, setting goals, and taking action. When it comes to our marriage though, we were just floating around aimlessly. The busy-ness of life always seemed to overtake our best intentions. How could we stop and take hours of time reading, talking, or working on US when there are things to get done?

We started doing a quarterly meeting when Cody’s company went through a book that taught them how to plan for their business. We’ve adopted many of it’s teachings and tools into our marriage now!

The Plan

Our quarterly meeting is based on the processes in Traction

Over the past year or so, Cody’s small company has been focusing on being plan-full and intentional. The book they’ve used as a baseline is Traction by Gino Wickman, which is part of a larger toolset for business called the Entrepreneurial Operating System. The idea is that a small company (in the case of TrustFunds, 5 people) gets the right people doing the right things. They focus on specific, measurable goals in the short, medium, and long term. Larger goals get broken down and assigned, and more time is devoted to more valuable tasks.

With this team of 5, there are weekly, quarterly, and yearly meetings that each follow their own agenda. Big-picture things like mission, vision, and long-term goals are reviewed and checked at the larger meetings. Many of these also get discussed in every single weekly meeting. This allows the entire company to be on the same page, accountable for the tasks that are theirs to complete, and hyper-focused on the goals we’ve all agreed are most crucial to the business. With this alignment of our work and our goals, we ensure the company is moving, and in the direction we want it to.

Bringing the Business Home

Our workout space in the basement

When Cody started using these principles, he noticed that things that would have never gotten done at work were suddenly getting done. There was less confusion about who was responsible for different projects. They weren’t wasting as much time delegating, because that was all taken care of. Things that may take one employee 10 hours to complete were being moved to a different area and saving 9 of those hours. Most impressively, large seemingly-insurmountable projects were getting completed and making a visible impact on the business’ ability to grow and expand.

It all clicked after a fight we had. Have you and your spouse ever had a task-related fight? You know, the ones about “I thought you said you were going to take out the trash” or “how come we say we’re going to get life insurance but we never actually do it” and everyone leaves frustrated and overwhelmed? Marriage is full of things that need to get done. Not only that, but the “I wish we did [x y z] list could go on and on to. We need some clarity around the things that needed to get done and the things we kept pushing off.

The Quarterly Meeting

Enter our Traction Quarterly Meeting. These meetings are a bigger check-in than our weekly meetings. We reflect honestly on our last quarter (the good and the bad). Next, we talk about what’s been going well and what has not. We set 3-5 “rocks”, or larger projects, for the next quarter. Sometimes these rocks are task-oriented, like clearing the clutter and having a garage sale. Things that just need to get done, but are too big to bite off at one time. So, they keep getting pushed off, forgotten, or ignored.

The Osegards sitting down for our quarterly meeting

Other times, the rocks are more about formations. These formations work to build our marriage, faith, etc. into what we want them to be. Things like getting in the habit of reading each day, working out, or following a bible plan. We end with a list of quick tasks that keep getting put off (call the doctor, print off pictures from a trip) and assign them to one of us with a deadline of the next quarter meeting.

Effects of our Quarterly Meeting

Since starting to follow this structure, we’ve cut down on our arguments and stress a lot. Clarity around responsibilities and actually taking the time to do the things we want to do (and need to do) brings us so much peace. It keeps us focused and intentional about growing our marriage. We no longer let important things keeping passing by because of other things in our life.

So it may not sound romantic to have a formal quarterly meeting for our marriage, but in reality – it is. We don’t need to fight over things on to-do lists or feeling overwhelmed and unsupported. We know what needs to get done, and who is going to do it. Life is a lot more carefree feeling when that conversation really only has to happy a few times a year!! When we feel more carefree, there’s more room to just CELEBRATE our marriage!

Saving 15% of our income – absurd or totally doable?

From day one of following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, something about Baby Step 4 has rubbed me the wrong way. Saving 15% of our income has always felt like too much. I get that we want to be able to retire someday, but couldn’t we do that without waving goodbye to 15% of our income?

The numbers

I sat down to do the math. This plan has been nothing but spectacular for us so far, so I thought that if I really looked at it, it would easier to yes to this next step. At first, it only made things worse. The first (and only) things I wrote down were:

  • Saving 15% of our income in retirement investments
  • Spending 25% of our income on housing and housing related costs
  • Giving 10% of our income because we tithe

I paused there. We were already at 50% of our income, and we hadn’t budgeted for food, clothing, anything related to the car, or anything fun.

Honestly, at this point, I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we would only follow the plan until Step 4, and then it would be time for our own thing. There was no way we would ever be able to have any FUN on this plan. We’d never be able to “live comfortably” I thought.

Reality Check

Not long after this, Cody and I had a nice long chat about our budget and our goals for our quarterly meeting, and we realized that 15% was INCREDIBLY doable for multiple reasons. What had seemed insanely far-fetched, especially buried under over $100K of debt, suddenly felt attainable! I just had to step back and see the bigger picture.

Reason 1 saving 15% of our income is totally doable

We were in a slump and needed some motivation, so we were looking at our budget to see how far we had come.

It turned out, each month we were putting an average of about 50% of our income towards paying off our debt. We were already living on roughly 50% of our income for EVERYTHING including any saving, giving, and spending!

Making the switch to having 50% of our income going towards our current baby step to only 15% percent of our income going towards our saving wasn’t as outrageous as it sounded! In fact, it’ll free up about 35% of our income!

Reason 2 saving 15% of our income is totally doable

We had to look ahead to where we want to be at Baby Step 4. We realized that the other percentages weren’t quite accurate either! Currently, our goal is to pay for our future house in cash up front. It’s a LOFTY goal, but we are working hard to make it happen!

If we pay for cash for our future house, we won’t have a mortgage! That means the expected percentage of 25% for all housing related costs will be much lower for us!

The Final Verdict

While we were still in debt, it felt crazy to be putting 15% or our income to retirement. Today, we have seen what is possible when we truly focus our efforts with money. If we can put 50% of our income for 3.5 years towards debt, 15% into a savings account is no big deal. With debt, that money is gone and our interest goes straight to the banks. With the 15% into a retirement account, that money is still ours and is actually gaining interest for us! We get to be content and happy deciding what to do with the other 35% of our income that we have freed up by getting out of debt for good!

Reasons to be a morning person

Sixteen year old me would have told you there are no good reasons to be a morning person. At 27, it’s a different story. At 5:15 AM every morning, my alarm goes off and I get going for the day! I know, it sounds terrible – and usually at 5:15 AM, I can’t stand it. I’ve learned there are a lot of good reasons to be a morning person, and by the end of the day, most days, I’m grateful for that early wake up call!

It hasn’t always been this way

A freshly made bed can start your day off right too!

Sure, I’ve often had reasons to wake up early – choir rehearsals, volleyball practice, and more have often impeded my desire to sleep! As a teen, I loved to sleep in till 9 or 10 on the weekends when I could, but that was probably because I was getting up early AND staying up late! Nowadays on the occasional Sabbath, I’ve been known to sleep in long past the sun! Somewhere along the way, however, I realized that there are a lot of great reasons to be a morning person!

My top reasons to be a morning person

You can start the day on your own terms

Teaching can be exhausting, so I want to get the most sleep I can. I used to sleep in til the last possible second to soak up those sweet moments with Mr. Sandman. I figured I was doing myself a favor, since adequate sleep is important.

Those mornings always left me well-rested, but feeling frantic and overwhelmed. The school day would wear me out, and when I got home I’d still have a giant to-do list to tackle.

Reasons to be a morning person

Waking up early lets me start the day on my own terms. My mornings look like this:

  • Exercise for 20-30 minutes
  • Get ready for the day
  • Make breakfast while listening to my Bible app
  • Eat and read

Often times, I have time to do a little meal prep or other household chores too! I feel refreshed and full of energy when I get to work. Plus, when I get home, I have time to relax and I don’t feel the nagging voice in my head telling me to workout or spend some time on myself.

You can still get a full night of sleep

Remember when I thought that sleeping til the last second gave me more time to sleep?

It turns out, it’s easier to get a full 8 hours as a morning person than as a night owl. As a night owl, I was tempted to stay up later and later, but my wake up call was still dictated by my start time at work.

As a morning person, my body naturally gets tired by about 9:30, which still gives me a full night of sleep before the alarm goes off!

You learn to manage your time really well

You have to learn how to manage your time really well with the constraints of being a morning person.

I stayed up late until my list was complete as a night owl. If you’re anything like me, the to do list is NEVER actually done, so I’d stay up a lot later than necessary, or I’d find ways to procrastinate until I fell asleep!

As a morning person, you more than likely are on a deadline. You’ll likely have the same to-do list, but an end time of when you have to leave for work or get the kids off to school. Having a deadline forces you to be more productive and to prioritize. Think about it. It felt impossible to get some homework assignments done. That is, until the night before the deadline! I’d guess you’ve had that experience too. Real deadlines have a level of power!

You will feel a sense of freedom in the evenings

My night owl days started stressed out and ended stressed out. My rushed mornings made me feel frantic. Returning home from work with a pile of to-do’s looming over head left me feeling overwhelmed.

When I start my day off with routines that take care of the things I know I should be doing (but can easily get pushed off), it takes the pressure off my evenings.

I spend my evenings with other people, or getting things done that came up during the day, or just relaxing! There is no more pressure to do things. My only nightly obligation takes 30 minutes or less most days, and I can complete right before I go to bed!

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Which do you find makes you a more productive person? I’d love to hear more! Come share your thoughts on our Instagram or Facebook page!

Family Meeting: Our weekly Post-Sabbath routine

Every week, we have a family meeting. We do this to wrap up our Sabbath each week (Check out our Sabbath series starting here). I know what you’re probably thinking right now, “A weekly meeting? How romantic!” It may not sound like the most glamorous thing in our marriage, but a family meeting has transformed our relationship.

The absurdity of a family meeting

In our culture we tend to put such a high priority on work and business relationships. A third of our day is spent on the job where we are given certain tasks, goals and a mission. These keep us employed, and foster bonds with the people around us. They help us maintain a sense of community, because at work, we are all focused on a common goal.

Beyond that, the focus we form at work frequently spills over beyond the 9 to 5. Oftentimes, we will drop everything for a business dinner with a potential new client. Weeks of work will go into the quarterly and yearly planning meetings at our job. To-do lists, goals, and structure tend to dictate how we spend our 9-5 and beyond each day.

However, when it comes to our marriages and families, we tend to just go with the flow.

We recently started to realize that more effort and preparation was going into our jobs than our most important relationship – our marriage.

Putting the focus where it belongs

At the start of the year, we started implementing more strategy and planning into our marriage. Now I know, it sounds super lame and SO not romantic, but it truly has transformed our relationship.

At our weekly meetings, our first task is to make sure our week centers around our priorities. This means sabbath, date night, and other things get on the calendar before other things can take over that time. Next, we discuss the schedule for the week, what needs to get done, we assign responsibilities and look over the budget. We look over our quarterly and yearly meeting agendas as well (more on that later). All in all, we start the week on the same page.

We’ve created a template for our weekly meeting that keeps our meeting efficient, on track, and can help YOU as you implement a family meeting too! You can find it here!

What a family meeting can do in a marriage

We’ve cut down on the arguments about what needs to get done and who is responsible for what. We accomplish so much more while actually having MORE time to dedicate to our relationship.

Yes, our marriage is run more like a business, but is flourishing and our love is stronger than ever because of it! 

We’d love for you to join in the discussion with us over on instagram or our Facebook community!

Baby Step 3 to financial peace

When we talk about the finance class we lead, we often hear from people that they assume that it’s for people that are struggling with debt. In actuality, ditching non-mortgage debt is only 1 out of the 9 steps that is taught. The reason we market so heavily to people in debt is that roughly 80% of Americans are in debt. We are meeting people where they are at.

We do encourage you to get out of debt QUICKLY. As Dave Ramsey says, “Your most powerful wealth building tool is your income.” When your income is going to making payments, it’s not building wealth!

When the payments are gone

However, once your debts are gone, it’s time to fund other things. Baby Step 3 is creating a fully funded emergency fund.

It’s no shock to anyone that emergencies happen. The car breaks down unexpectedly, your spouse gets injured and can’t work for a few weeks or months, the list goes on and on.

Dive into Baby Step 3 on our Youtube channel @theOsegards

The recommended amount for this emergency fund is 3 to 6 months of expenses. To know this number, you’ll have to be budgeting. When you know where your money goes each month and how much you need to get by each month, you can take that number times 3-6. Wondering where in that range to save? Check out our Money Monday segment on just that topic!

Why is three months of expenses the minimum recommended amount? In the event that you or your partner is injured and can’t perform their job, most disability insurance takes three months to kick in. Having 3 months of expenses will keep you going until the disability kicks in.

On the flip side, let’s say you were to lose your job or have another unexpected VERY major emergency expense. 6 months is typically plenty of time to either find a new job or find a way to drastically reduce your expenses.

Where does an emergency fund live?

There are two important things to note about your emergency fund.

  1. It needs to be easily accessible. This is not an investment. We’re not looking to make 12% returns on this money, so it’s really quite boring. It’s a safety net. You’ll need to be able to get to it super easily in case of an emergency, but not TOO easily. The emergency fund should not live in your normal checking account, or anywhere else that it could be easily spent on non-emergencies. Which leads us to number two…
  2. Define what an emergency is. An emergency is probably not the semi-annual sale at your favorite store or needing a new boat. Sit down with your partner and determine together what constitutes an emergency.

Baby Step 3 – boring but important

Of all of the baby steps, this one is arguably the most boring. By this point, we already HAVE an emergency fund (of $1000) and are out of debt. It may be tempting to just skip past this one and get to the “fun stuff”. But this step in the process is crucial for a couple of reasons.

First, it takes commitment to get out of debt and live on a budget. It takes just as much commitment to save up this much in cash and NOT touch it. Ever. Unless it’s an agreed-upon emergency.

Second, think of this like an insurance policy for yourself. This pile of money stands between you and never going into debt again. With the fully-funded emergency fund in place, you are prepared for anything. A job loss, a disability, a flood or fire, or anything else. This is your buffer to ensure that you have the time and resources to keep from relying on other people’s money to save you. Plus, Dave also calls the emergency fund Murphy-repellent. “What can go wrong will go wrong,” seems to find people who are unprepared.

What kinds of emergencies have you run into before? A car breaking down, broken windows on the house, or a water heater going out in the middle of winter? What would it be like to have cash ready to cover these expenses at a moments notice?

What a Year Off from Teaching taught me

Since I was four years old, all I ever wanted in my life was to be a classroom teacher. After a year off from teaching, I’ve got a new opportunity to make that happen.

In high school I started to really struggle with picking a major, because an education degree was all I had ever wanted to pursue, but I was suddenly feeling called to teach music. I ended up going to school for a music education degree. It was terrifying to leave my life-long dream behind.

Alyssa's computer and library classroom, from before taking a year off from teaching.

Even though I “only” had my music education degree, it didn’t limit me. I worked as a classroom teacher’s aide, a music teacher, a school librarian/basically STEAM teacher, and a computer teacher. I loved it, but there was always a part of me that had a tinge of regret for not choosing my life-long dream.

Then things changed even more.

A little over a year ago, I announced that I was leaving my teaching job.

I was scared. I was sure that I was going to teach my whole life, but I also had peace that this was where God was leading me. It was so strange to not be in the classroom, but it was good.

In my time away from teaching, I learned how to better organize my time. I learned how prioritizing things was even more important and effective than scheduling things, but that I do love being able to create my own schedule. It was during this transition that Cody and I learned the importance of getting things done in six days so we could truly rest on the seventh day. That’s something I don’t think we would have realized had I stayed working at school.

I realized (QUICKLY) that I missed having kiddos in my life. Subbing became a really special time for me, because I loved spending time with the students. Being in the classroom without all the stress was really fun, too!

A year off from teaching

Alyssa and boss/friend Amber at Summit 2018.

My boss/friend moved to Florida shortly after I started working for her full time. I learned that there is such a thing as too much alone time, even for an introvert like me. Since I had a lot of extra down time, I also quickly learned what some of my best hobbies were (including reading, writing, and listening to podcasts).

With everything that changed this past year, I’m learning to build community in places outside of work. We are very involved at our church, especially with Financial Peace University this year. Showing up can be draining for me, but it allows me to interact with people outside of the house. Had I still been working at school and needing to recharge from a full day of extroverting, I don’t think I could have even done it!

I’m finding a new baseline of energy for me, and honing in on how to recharge myself more effectively. Working a weekly Sabbath into our schedule has been a huge benefit. I’m focused on what things during the week help clear my mind and prepare me for another day. Some days, that means getting out of the house and walking at the mall. Other days, all I can do is relax on the couch and read or watch a show for an hour. I’m still working on recognizing what my body needs, but I’m getting more used to listening!

Plot Twist

By the end of winter, I was in a really good groove of working, pursuing hobbies, and keeping our house in order. Things were going really well, but I started to feeling a stirring in my soul once again.

I will go into more detail in a future post, but for now here is the short version. This next school year, I will be back in the classroom 3 days a week as a Pre-K classroom teacher. I’m back with the team I worked with before, who I love dearly, and in a classroom role. It is literally my childhood dream come true, and I can’t wait!

Classroom of students from Alyssa's year as a teacher's aide.

As I look back on my year off from teaching, I look forward to continuing the practices I am putting in place now. Our weekly Sabbath will be more important than ever, I’m sure. The balance between extrovert time (like at school) and introvert time will be a main focus. I know it will present a whole new host of challenges, but I’m ready to see what this new chapter looks like. And with the things I’ve been learning and focusing on this past year, I’m hopeful that the transition and experience will be very rewarding!

Recognizing Jesus – Luke 24 Study

Luke 24 was a part of my Bible plan today. To make the Bible feel more REAL, I like to imagine the conversations as they would take place today.

Luke 24 takes place after Jesus has risen from the tomb. He joins some of his friends as they walk to Emmaus. For whatever reason, they aren’t able to recognize him as Jesus.

Jesus asks what they are talking about. When I put myself in Jesus’ shoes, I picture this:

Luke 24 through Jesus’ eyes

I stumbled upon my friends on their way to Emmaus. I could hear them talking about me and speculating about the empty tomb, so I decided to surprise them.

“Hey guys! What are we talking about?”

It was SO funny. They didn’t realize it was me, so they thought I was CRAZY! No one even knew what to say at first.

Cleopas finally said “Seriously? Are you new here?” He went on to tell me about everything that had happened. They thought the women were CRAZY. I tried to remind them what the prophets had said, but they were having none of it.

They invited me to stay with them, and as we sat down to dinner, they all realized who I was! I hope they they continue to see me in all that they do.

(If you haven’t read the story, do it. This is the Alyssa Modernized Version 😉 )

Luke 24

What’s the point?

Every time I read this, I can’t help but giggle. It feels like Jesus is just messing with them a little. After the giggles though, I can’t but judge these men. How on earth did they not see Jesus when He was right in front of them? How did they not recognize Him?

Then conviction hits. How often do I have something in my life that just seems like an inconvenience or a nuisance when really it’s Jesus? How often do we miss the wonderful things in our lives, or the times when God shows up, when they are right in front of our faces?

Luke 24 in Real Life

Living in the Twin Cities, we deal with our fair share of traffic and road construction. It’s all too easy to hit a traffic jam or a detour and just be frustrated at the inconvenience. What a waste of my time! Why can’t people just learn how to drive, and stop slamming on their brakes at the last second?

But as frustrating as traffic and construction are, I have started to see the lessons being taught. While I might have a problem with the time it takes to detour, maybe God is trying to teach me patience. We are always rushing from place to place, and stretching ourselves thin. But what a valuable skill it is to be able to show patience and kindness, even when it seems like nobody else is!

Or what about when things are going really well? When we do something great at work or home, or finally finish some big project we’ve been struggling with for years? I don’t believe that any of these things were completed by my willpower and work alone – God is absolutely necessary. Yet somehow I can miss the glaringly obvious signs of Him showing up, and think I did it “all on my own”.

Luke 24

Recognizing Jesus

This is one thing that I will be working on – seeing Jesus in everyday life. Not just at church, or during my devotions, or on our Sabbath. Not just in the bad or frustrating moments. I want to be able to see and recognize Him no matter what is happening, because I know that He is always there. When I’m stuck in traffic, maybe He is teaching me patience. When Cody and I have a great month of saving for a house, God is a part of that too. We can do all things through Christ, and I want to continue being intentional about seeing and recognizing the impact that has on me every day.

2B Mindset vs. Ultimate Portion Fix

Beachbody has two main nutrition programs 2B Mindset (available here) and Ultimate Portion Fix (available here). I am both a certified 2B Mindset mentor and an Ultimate Portion Fix Master Coach. While both are geared towards healthy eating, they are very different in the way they accomplish that goal.

The Basics

2B Mindset waterbottle

Both 2B Mindset and Ultimate Portion Fix are created by people who really know their stuff! 2B was created by Ilana Muhlstein, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Her success story with the principles taught in this program is amazing. Access to the program also comes with some recipes, a tracker, and a water bottle.

Ultimate Portion Fix was created by Autumn Calabrese, one of Beachbody’s Super Trainers. It is technically set up as a 30 day program, but can be used long term as well. There are MANY more recipes that are a part of this program, including online resources and two physical cookbooks.

How they work

2B Mindset doesn’t have many hard-and-fast restrictions to it. It is a very positive approach to healthy eating and weight loss (or maintenance depending on your goals). There is no calorie counting or specific amounts to eat. Over all, there are general guidelines of what you should eat and why. Basically, you drink water, then fill up on veggies and protein to help you feel full. With that baseline, you can indulge in anything that your body enjoys! The tracker is simply a tool to help you see what you eat and how it makes you feel, but since there are no specific requirements for what you eat, it’s essentially just a journal.

Ultimate Portion Fix workbooks and containers

The Ultimate Portion Fix is a bit more rigid. While there are three different paths you can take, all paths have instructions on what to eat. There are color-coded containers that you track with every meal. For example, the green container is for vegetables, and depending on your weight and your goal, you eat a certain number of green containers each day. There are lots of options within the containers, but it is a more specifically dictated approach.

Results with 2B Mindset and Ultimate Portion Fix

I’ve followed each of these programs with the goal of weight loss over the course of 30 days each. I had more dramatic results physically when following the Portion Fix system. I enjoyed learning what portion sizes generally should look like, and what a good recommended amount of food for my body was. It was good to learn what a healthy amount of food was that would help me feel full, and reminding me why I eat. Am I eating just to eat, or am I fueling my body?

With 2B Mindset, I did not lose as much weight. However, as is in the name, my mindset around food was much healthier. I felt more in control and less restricted, and found myself craving less junk and choosing healthier options.

My Recommendation?

The Osegards love some tacos and a healthy mindset

If you’re looking for a specific recommendation between these programs, I’d love to chat about your goals and help you choose one. I’ve seen people reach their goals of weight loss, maintenance, finding a healthier relationship with food, and more with either program! For me, I am a 2B Mindset girl. While I know I may not see as many physical results, I feel like I am in a better mindset and have a healthier relationship with food when I follow these guidelines. I don’t need to count containers or anything like that, I just have to make the choices that will help me feel good inside and out!

Learning How to Sabbath

Even though we have a pretty good grasp on what things generally are restful and/or worshipful for us, not every Sabbath is a home run. Each week is a process of trial and error, and things that may be restful one week may not be the next.

Why Sabbath?

If you’re interested in learning more of the “Why” behind this for us, check out our breakdown of Sabbath here. Essentially, determining if something “fits” into our Sabbath boils down to two questions.

Is it rest?

Since Sabbath is a day of rest, the point is to NOT do work. If it is not restful, it doesn’t belong in our Sabbath. This is one of the biggest learning curves for us, as the idea of true rest was foreign to us when we started out. Rest doesn’t mean lazy or sleeping (though they can be a part of it!). True rest should recharge us mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally.

Is it worship?

Some things fall easily into this bucket, like going to church or doing a devotional. Other things that could be worshipful though could be going for a walk in nature, spending time with Alyssa in deep conversation, or playing music on the piano and singing. Believe it or not, binge-watching Stranger Things didn’t pass this test for me. Is it a fun show? Absolutely. But is it worship? Not so much, save that for another time!

Getting Ready

One of the most helpful rhythms we have found around Sabbath is what we call our Pre-Sabbath checklist. We have a list of things that we like to accomplish prior to our Sabbath, that will help us to relax and not worry about the “little things”. Take at peak at our checklist over on Etsy, and see if it’s something that would be useful for you and your family as well!

Knocking these things out means that we can truly rest, and our Sabbath doesn’t unwittingly turn into a get-things-done-around-the-house day.

How To Sabbath

How (not) to Sabbath

For Alyssa and I, we have a number of things that we have found to impede our ability to rest and worship. First, screens can get in the way and distract from true rest. At times, watching a show or a church service online can be a great part of our Sabbath. But more often than not, screens lead to shallow conversations and just “vegging out”. While this seems to fit the idea of rest, afterwards we are not any more recharged or rested than we were before.

For our Sabbath, we turn our phones to silent and leave them upstairs and out of sight. If we need to check on something (plans with someone else, the weather, etc), they are there to use and then set back down. Keeping these out of sight leads to better engagement with each other and with the activities we DO decide are restful. This is a great one to try for a night a week, even if you are not “practicing Sabbath”, and you may be surprised how much deeper a conversation can go!

So what DO we do?

Like I mentioned, this can change a fair bit from one week to the next. Some weeks, we can find it hard to get in the right mindset to rest and worship. Maybe it’s just been a crazy week of work. Maybe we are just cranky or getting on each others nerves. Whatever the reason, this is the first challenge we have to overcome each week. Our ideal Sabbath schedule goes from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon. This means that we can start our Sabbath by going to the 4 pm service at Eagle Brook. Taking this time to focus on God and on worship can work wonders to change our negative moods.

How To Sabbath

Our Sabbath almost always involves some kind of special food or drinks. Most weeks, we get something “fun” to go with our normal breakfasts (english muffins, donuts, cinnamon rolls…). Or maybe we grab ice cream Saturday evening and sit outside for a while. Sometimes, it’s a batch of popcorn with M&M’s while we watch a movie. Treating ourselves with something fun like this makes Sabbath something we can look forward to!

Just Try It

One of the quickest ways to prevent true rest though is to overthink or just give up on it. At first, 24 hours seemed like a HUGE sacrifice of time to not work. How are we supposed to keep up with everything that needs to be done? We are already busy working 7 days a week, won’t we be overloaded if we cram that all into 6 days?

As we continue to work on being restful and intentional with our Sabbath time, we have seen over and over again the major flaw in that thinking. Taking a true Sabbath break for a day is NOT a waste of time. It’s not lazy or meant to inhibit what we can do or succeed or complete. Building that true rest into our week means that we are fully recharged and ready to accomplish the things we need to and want to. Our tank is full (or much closer at least), and we are ready to take on the week ahead.

Joyful Noise Family Fest 2019 Review

For Christmas this past year, we got my parents tickets to Joyful Noise Family Fest, a concert put on every year by our local Christian Radio station! The concert begins Friday night and then goes all day Saturday.

Newsboys United perform to close out Joyful Noise 2019 in MN

What is Joyful Noise?

Presented by KTIS, this is a festival focused on family, faith, and lots of fun! It takes place at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN, on the main field. The multiple artists all perform on the main stage at center field, and the audience fills the entire field with chairs, blankets, and umbrellas. The bleachers also fill up with additional guests taking it all in!

In addition, they host a giant field full of free inflatables for most of the day Saturday! I’m sure this is a big reason that families can stay happy and entertained the entire time. Food trucks and other vendor stands are available throughout the complex as well. Inside, there is a gym full of merch and presenting sponsors like Feed My Starving Children, Union Gospel Mission, and lots more.

The Osegard’s favorites

This was only our second year in attendance, and we will definitely be back again. Here are a few of our top picks from this year:

Best food: Nachos from El Burrito Mercado

We ended up getting these nachos both Friday and Saturday, because they just hit the spot! Piled high with toppings, and with just the right amount of heat. Plus, the service was incredibly fast and we didn’t wait more than 2 minutes for our food, even when lines were long everywhere!

Runner up: Kettlecorn. Another one we had to get both days – so good! Both this and the nachos were also priced well. We feel like we got the best bang for our buck.

Best performance: I Am They

Plumb performing at Joyful Noise 2019

Due to some serious medical issues, they are down one of their 3 vocalists, and they were still incredible. The passion and talent they have for writing and performing is so cool to see, and their set was a great hour of true worship. You may be surprised to know a few of their songs if you listen to contemporary christian music, even if you don’t recognize their name!

Runner up: Plumb. We’ve seen her a few times live and she NEVER disappoints!

Best surprise favorite: Land of Color

Prior to Joyful Noise, neither of us had heard of Land of Color. However, we were so happy to see their performance, and will be keeping up with their music! They have a really casual, basement performance feel, while still being incredibly talented performers. Their guitar work was impressive (one was a lefty guitar too!), and their vocal harmonies are super tight. Highly recommend a listen for some good deep worship!

Our Joyful Noise Tips

We think Joyful Noise is a great festival and definitely worth the trip and time! If you decide to join us next year, here are a few things to plan for:


Weather tried to interfere with Joyful Noise, but the rain and storms stayed away!

This year, we really lucked out! It was looking like a stormy, rainy weekend, even throughout the weekend. But as the rain and storms would approach, they managed to fizzle out or move away and we didn’t get even a sprinkle! The sun did get a little toasty (and we burned a bit on Saturday morning), so don’t forget sunscreen. Umbrellas are also great for both rain and intense sun! Just be sure to measure beforehand, as they only allow non-pointy tipped umbrellas that are less than 36 inches in diameter. And yes, they do have hula-hoops they use to measure them at the gates!

We didn’t have many issues with bugs this year, in part because the whole field is now astro-turf. We had some bug spray with, but didn’t end up using it! It wouldn’t hurt to bring it with, and if you spend time over at the inflatables, it may be more of an issue since that field is all grass.

Crowds at Joyful Noise

This is a music festival, so you can expect there will be lots of people. The main times you will notice it though are: entry gates at the beginning, bathrooms, and meal times. If you want to stake a claim on a good spot, we would recommend getting there early, as it does start to fill up on the field pretty quick. You may have to stand in line at the gates for a while, but you’ll have plenty of time to relax, grab a coffee, or play a game once you get inside! For bathrooms and meals, we tried to aim for non-peak times to avoid lines. Bathrooms tend to be less busy during a performance, so take a short break in the middle of a set that you aren’t as invested in. You’ll be able to hear the performance from anywhere you walk, so you won’t even miss out on much!

Food and drinks

They do allow empty water bottles to be brought in (less than 32 ounces), and had great filling stations available! However, you can’t bring in coolers or any food, so be prepared to buy at least a few meals for around $7-$13 or so. Another option is to bring food that can be left in the car, and walk out for a break and a meal. We had some munchy snacks in a cooler (grapes, granola bars, pretzels and hummus), and our parking space was pretty close to the main gates. It felt good to stretch our legs a bit, and it saved a few bucks (you know we LOVE to save some money!)!

Our verdict?

The Osegards at Joyful Noise 2019, presented by KTIS

We would definitely recommend Joyful Noise, and we will be back again for sure! It’s a great experience, and they always bring in some truly talented musicians. Plus, they’ve been around for a while and the festival is very organized and professional. Buy your tickets early too, and you can see 10+ performances for less than the cost of a ticket to a single concert!