Best ways to get out of debt

Debt by it’s very definition means something owed. We wanted to get out of debt so that we wouldn’t owe anyone anything. Our money should be working in our favor and not be sent to other companies/people/collectors. We always want to pay the price for something – not the price plus INTEREST.

While we were in debt, there was always a lingering fear that something terrible would happen, that would stop our income. If we didn’t have any income, we wouldn’t be able to pay our debts. Being completely out of debt takes that fear away!

What would it look like to have no payments?

Let’s take it a step further. If you didn’t owe anything on student loans or personal loans, how much money would that free up for you in a month? What about if you no longer had car payments or owed anything on a credit card? If you want to get especially intense, how much money would you free up each month if you didn’t have a HOUSE payment?

No matter your stance on debt, you have to admit that having that much money freed up month after month could do amazing things for your family! Let’s talk about how you can make that happen!

The best way to get out of debt

The best (and most obvious) way to get out of debt is to bring in more money to throw at the debt. That part is basic math, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do to find that extra cash. Here are some ideas:

“Sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next”

Selling an extra suitcase that never gets used to get us out of debt even faster

Our favorite getting out of debt quote is from Dave Ramsey, “Sell so much stuff the kids think they’re next!”. There’s no doubt that we all have extra things lying around the house that we don’t actually use or need (like the seemingly millions of suitcases and bags we had lying around). It’s time to clean out the house and make some money off of all that stuff!

Post it on Craigslist or Facebook for sale groups! Have a garage sale or yard sale! Bring it to a consignment or pawn shop! If it isn’t being used, take that cash and put it to use right now. What starts as a few dollars here and there can really add up quickly if you stay focused, and keep paring down the things you don’t actually need or use.

Time to Get a Gig

The idea of a “part time gig” or “side hustle” can bring up the spammy notions, at least for me. The social media ‘Hey girl’ messages from that girl you met that one time at that one place.

There are lots of part-time options out there that fall in the Direct Sales or MLM realm, and many are valid opportunities! Just be sure to do your research and learn how to sell and recruit in not spammy ways!

However, if that’s not your cup of tea, taking another more traditional job can increase your income to help give you a bigger shovel to dig yourself out of debt with. There are many options out there from childcare to retail, or up and coming jobs like driving for a food delivery service or grocery shopping for someone else!

As you’re looking for opportunities outside your regular job, don’t forget to look WITHIN your job for things like promotions, raises, and overtime that can help you reach your goal of getting out of debt.

Cut Costs

It’s time to make a budget. And I’m talking a real, plan-where-your-money-will-go budget, not a look-where-it-went method of “tracking expenses”. There are lots of free, easy ways to do this. We have regularly used YouNeedABudget and EveryDollar, both of which do a great job! See where you are overspending and cut costs where you can. Many people find that they are spending a lot on impulse buys (Hello, Target!), groceries, and other miscellaneous things that sneak into the budget unexpectedly. Other times, the issue is simply not planning ahead for things. Either way, take a look at your budget and see where you can clean things up a bit. is a great, zero-based budget tool to help you get out of debt.

If you’re really intense about getting out of debt, see if there are things you can cut all together for a short time while you get out of debt. Some suggestions would be cutting the travel fund for a while, cutting cable, and cancelling all subscriptions to save some money for a short time. And who knows, maybe you’ll learn that you can cut some things for good!

There are other options to help you save money too. One of the best things you can do is use what you have! This might mean eating things that you already have on hand before you grocery shop. It could also mean swapping date nights with a couple where you watch their kids while they go out and they watch yours while you get a night out!

Get yourself out of debt for good!

While it can be discouraging at times, getting out of debt is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your future. Once you feel the freedom of being able to decide what to do with your money, it will change how you interact with money for good. We are so happy to be done with debt and moving forward in freedom! What could you do with all the money you save by ditching your payments completely?

Creating a Shabbat schedule – Sabbath Pt 3

When we first started hearing about Sabbath from Bridgetown Church, Annie F. Downs, and the crew at Family Teams, I was SO looking forward to creating a Shabbat schedule for our family. It didn’t take long for those dreams to be squashed. The first rule about Sabbath is that you do whatever is rest and worship. Frankly, a schedule tends to go against the idea of rest and worship. For this type-A, planner extraordinaire, that was a tough pill to swallow. Instead of my dream, detailed schedule, we worked out a general, flexible schedule that helps us manage our time in a way that optimizes our rest.

Taking time to truly rest together is SO valuable to us!

Creating our Shabbat Schedule

To create our Shabbat schedule, we took our lists of Sabbath activities and figured out what we want to be a regular rhythm in our Shabbat, and what would just be NICE to do. This allowed us to pick our ideal time and day, knowing we could fit our rhythms in. After much trial and error, we’ve found that Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon works best for our family at this stage of life. It doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s our ideal setup.

The First Half of Our Sabbath

We found that our biggest struggle when it came to starting Shabbat in our family was actually getting our minds out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and into rest and worship mode. We found a couple of things to help us switch in to Sabbath mode a little quicker. First, Saturday morning we wake up and are super productive by going through our Pre-Sabbath Checklist. This list takes care of the things that used to nag at us during the weekend. The second thing that helps us get in the right mindset is going to our church’s Saturday afternoon service. The 4pm service is the official kickoff for our Sabbath! We find that this time of worship helps us center our minds on Jesus.

You can get your own, customizable copy of the pre-sabbath checklist here!

We usually get home from our church service around 5:30 or 6, and this is our designated “screen time” for Sabbath. We only do screen time during Sabbath if it is intentional and not just mindless, like it often can be during the week. We usually make homemade pizzas from our favorite recipe and watch a movie together.

One of my personal favorite parts about Sabbath is literal rest – SLEEP. We usually go to bed early and sleep until we naturally wake up the next morning. Sometimes it’s still only 8 hours, but other times it is more like 12. No matter how long we sleep, It’s so nice to give our bodies the rest they need.

The Second Half of Our Sabbath

Sunday morning is the most varied part of Sabbath. By this time, we are almost always mentally in full Sabbath mode. We try to spend some time with God – in the Bible, listening to podcasts, or singing worship songs. Other than that, our Sundays are more go with the flow. Usually we eat some sort of special breakfast, like some food we don’t often eat. If we’re in the mood to cook, we’ll make more involved breakfasts that we don’t have time for during the week. This is a great time to listen to a podcast together or just chat about life. Sunday mornings we also tend to play card games or do a puzzle. We take Sunday mornings slowly and tend to just relax.

The rest of Sunday usually involves reading, taking a walk, or napping! We do whatever feels truly full of rest and worship to us on that day. Once 3:00 pm rolls around, we finish our Sabbath with our weekly Family Meeting and go back to “normal life” as we prepare for the week ahead.

This post is third in a series on Sabbath. You can read the rest of the series here:
Part 1
Part 2

Hidden Secrets of your Local Library

Summer is here! With no school and no snow here in Minnesota, everyone is getting out of the house and enjoying this season! It is so fun to be able to explore and spend more time with people, but summer also tends to be a bit of a budget-buster for some people. It’s not just the evenings with friends that can hurt the budget for us, but the work day as well! One of our secret weapons for staying on budget during the summer, while still getting out of the house, is our local library!

Central Park - connected to our local library and so pretty!

During the Workday

I work from home, but during the summer, it is easy to get antsy and want to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Plus, there are more distractions like the lawn service, the new roof we’re getting this year, and the neighbor kids running around outside. Sometimes I need a change of scenery to buckle down and really get some work done.

My go-to during the year is often a local coffeeshop! It’s a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee and get some work done in a fairly quiet atmosphere. However, as I get more and more antsy during the summer, it would mean more and more coffee. A coffee every day really adds up, so I had to find a new solution.

Our local library here in Woodbury, MN is a GREAT place. Like any library, it has some dedicated work spaces. My favorite place is a table in the back corner that is nice and peaceful (and has an outlet – a rare commodity). However, there are a quite a few work spaces scattered around, including a “Quiet room” for the silent workers!

One thing about our local library that I LOVE is the building it is housed in. Unlike many libraries, ours is not a stand-alone building. It is housed in a community-center-esque building that is called our “Central Park”. The building has a lot of sunlight and plants and is just GORGEOUS. I love to pull up a seat by the waterfall or the fireplace when I want to get some work done!

Local library with the kids

Central park with lots of plants, and a view of the library entrance behind

We don’t have kids, but if we did, we’d be at the library even more! There are great story times, activities, books, and more in the library itself. In the community center, there is an indoor playground AND it’s connect to the YMCA. On the weekends, our town’s Farmers’ Market is in the parking lot! There is no shortage of activities that are family friendly!

Most libraries also have great summer programming for kids and teens that encourage reading and offer fun activities and incentives. At our library, kids can earn tickets to the State Fair, Minnesota Twins game, and kid activities at the Mall of America. We also have an Adult Reading program, so you can make summer reading a family activity!

Saving Money

We save a lot of money on renting things from the library as well. I love to read (and buy books for that matter) so being able to read as many books as I want BEFORE I decide if they are worth spending money on is so helpful. Our library doesn’t have the greatest selection, so I track books that I want to read on and use our library’s great interlibrary loan system. It takes a little longer to get the books that I want , but saving them on a list is super helpful!

Getting work done out in Central Park - the change of scenery from the library to here is nice too!

We often overlook the other rentals available at our library. A great selections of movies, TV shows, magazines, and even video games can give you plenty of options of other FREE things you can do during the summer.

We can also get discounted tickets to many local theaters and museums. Our local Culver’s even hands out free scoops of custard just for showing your library card! There are so many great places in the Twin Cities that partner with local libraries as well.

Don’t underestimate your local library!

If your local library system is anything like ours, you may be shocked at how many options there are. Think outside the box, and ask around to see what other people use the library for. Ask a librarian to talk through some of the partnerships or deals they have, and for recommendations specific for you and your family. This summer, we expect to spend a number of workdays and weekend outings at our local library!

Lessons learned from renting a townhouse

To some people, renting a townhouse means a place to live for a time. But for us, it provided a whole pile of life lessons. As we enjoy our last spring in this home, we’re reflecting on all the lessons we’ve learned from renting our townhouse.

Renting a townhouse was a sneak peak of home ownership

We didn't have to pay to fix our ice maker while renting our townhouse, but we did do the work ourselves!
Did you know the logic board for these darn ice makers go bad over time? We do. Good news – they are usually simple and cheap to replace!

Up until this home, we’ve only lived in apartment buildings where all maintenance was taken care of by management. While it’s a similar situation here, our landlords live across the country, so we’ve had to deal with a few more things on our own. We’ve had to do the work of home ownership (fixing and replacing things), but have been able to pass off the cost to our landlords.

We got to put our own touch on things

Renting our townhouse meant a LOT of work painting, but it turned out so great!
Renting our townhouse meant a LOT of work painting (do you SEE how hard to paint that corner is?!?), but it looks so great now!

This is the first place we knew we would be in for more than a year. So, we decided to put a lot more personal touches on our townhouse than in our previous apartments. We repainted EVERYTHING and hung up lots of pictures. It was fun to work out a style that was uniquely US!

It taught us to be appreciative

We always end up with neighbors that irritate us. ALWAYS. In our first apartment, it was downstairs neighbors whose smoke (in a smoke-free building) wafted in through our windows and vents. It was horrible. It made us count down the seconds until we could move out, even though 95% of our experience there was amazing.

In our second apartment, it was the same. We were in a smoke-free building, but our neighbor had lived there for longer than the policy had been in place, so they essentially grandfathered him in. We didn’t know this when we moved in, so between his smoking and our LOUD downstairs neighbors, we were frustrated and couldn’t wait to move out.

Renting the townhouse hasn’t been perfect, and we still have our fair share of neighbor complaints. They smoke (WHY do all of our neighbors always smoke?) and they are LOUD. Like, wake-us-up-in-the middle-of-the-night with slamming doors and running up and down the stairs loud. The list goes on and on, but since we knew we would be here for a much longer time, we learned to (mostly) let it go and find other things to enjoy, like the location and incredible views.

Renting a townhouse taught us patience

We have been go-go-go our entire relationship. We’re always moving from one thing to another and always looking forward to the next big thing.

With a view like this from the bedroom window, how could we NOT like renting this townhouse?
With a view like this from the bedroom window, how could we NOT like renting this townhouse?

It was hard to find contentment and gratitude when we were constantly moving (every year or more). We knew we needed to put down roots, even if we weren’t sure if we would stay here forever.

Our lease at our townhouse is a 2.5 year lease, unlike our 1 year leases at the previous apartments. It’s forced us to enjoy where we are at. This has spilled over into other areas of our lives as well! We’re still busy people, but we’re more intentional about slowing down and appreciating the little moments.

What’s next for the Osegards?

That’s a great question! We may or may not be able to continue renting our current townhouse, and we’re okay with that. We could see ourselves staying here another year if the owners decide not to sell the place. Or maybe we find a new place to rent, or decide if it’s time to start looking to buy. But whatever happens at the end of the year, we know that we are more prepared for the next place we live. And the experience has given us a great glimpse into how the two of us work together when it comes to owning a home, and what kinds of projects we would enjoy or not enjoy.

Our Big Church Story

When we moved to Minnesota, we knew we wanted to find a church to call home.

I had one stipulation: “I won’t go to a big church”.

Eagle Brook may be a big church, but I still gave it a fair shot!
This place seemed WAY to big for me, but I gave it a shot anyways.

We tried out a few churches that seemed like good fits on paper, but didn’t feel comfortable calling any of them “our church”. The church shopping, for lack of a better term, was getting tiring. Someone told us to try Eagle Brook Church. I laughed because I was SO NOT GOING TO A BIG CHURCH. Cody grew up in a large church though, so I though I’d better go so we could rule it out together.

Our first week at Eagle Brook Church was the last week they were housed in the local high school before they moved to their permanent site. We enjoyed the teaching, but we didn’t feel like we got an accurate feel for the church. September 28, 2014, we attended our first service at the campus.

Ruling out a big church

I went in with an attitude. The building looked so fancy (I later learned that city codes actually played a big role in that). The kids spaces had a rock wall and video games (and can kids really learn about Jesus if they aren’t coloring pictures of bible characters when they get dropped off?). I noticed that there weren’t any adult classes happening on Sunday mornings and frankly, a lot of the message felt a little more surface level than I wanted it to.

Even though my list of complaints was a million miles long, but still, we kept coming back. There was just something about the kindness of the staff and volunteers that made us feel welcome.

Still, I stood firm. I would NOT go to a big church because it’s “impossible” to get to know anyone. PLUS not all the messages go as deep as I want them too, so what’s the point of church if not to meet my needs? (Oy that hurts to write now, but I REALLY believed it).

The ultimatum

I told Cody we had to meet people or I was OUT. We started volunteering, and the people were amazing. Cody and I attended short term small groups and met even more people. We joined small groups and got more involved, and with every interaction, this big church felt a little bit smaller.

Before we knew it, we had been attending for four years. WE were now members of the church, volunteering many times a week, and we ALWAYS see familiar faces. However, I didn’t realize how many of my “megachurch” stereotypes I was still holding on to.

‘Big churches don’t go deep enough’

This was a tough pill to swallow. I grew up in a church that read lots of passages and talked about the Hebrew and Greek roots to things and went DEEP. I didn’t always feel like I got a lot of practical application for my life, but I figured soaking up all this knowledge would help make me a better Christ-follower somehow. Along the way, I took on the belief that a good church always went very deep.

I’ve come to learn that the church isn’t for me. The church isn’t for people who love the deep learning stuff and have been reading the Bible their entire lives. The church exists to reach the people who don’t yet know about Christ. People who don’t know Christ need to learn about His deep love for them and practical ways they can share His love with others in their lives.

Now, going deep IS important (and when you’re not being super cynical like me, you can see the deep points in every message too). However, going deep isn’t always for the masses and the nonbelievers and the new believers. That’s why small groups exist. Our church provides resources for going deeper and building connections with other people. Going deep is also what my personal time with God is for. Sundays are for reaching others and gaining practical application.

‘They don’t have enough programs’

There are not TONS of programs, but the ones that align with the church's mission are given 110%

What kind of church doesn’t have AWANA and Mom’s bible study, and multiple commissioned missionaries? How about Thursday Men’s Group and Adult Sunday school? And Operation Christmas Child? The list goes on and on and on.

Eagle Brook does have partners, missions trips, and opportunities to dive in to small groups on your own, but those things are THE thing. EBC’s mission is “empowered by God to reach other’s for Christ”. When there are too many programs inside the church, the mission gets jumbled up. It becomes self-focused instead of others focused. Eagle Brook is SO intentional about devoting time only to things that are the best use of the resources God has given us that also reach the mission.

‘Kids are just having fun, not learning about faith’

This one I got over pretty quickly when I started serving, but I still hear it a lot from people in the community.

Christmas in KidODeo
Christmas in KidODeo!

Think about your experience in Sunday school. I had amazing teachers and learned a LOT, but I hated the first 20 minutes. You know, the time where you wait for everyone to get dropped off and make some craft that ties in to the lesson, and depending on the teacher, sometimes can talk with your friends and sometimes have to sit in silence?

At Eagle Brook, this drop off time (and the pick up time) is filled with games and activities that allow kids to enjoy time fellowship with other people who love Jesus. They interact with adults who love them, and meet kids from their own school and community that believe the same things as them. PLUS a fun environment like that makes kids want to come back, and when they come back, they learn more about Jesus.

Every lesson is packed with Biblical truth and practical application designed just for the kid’s age level (from toddler through 5th grade). We have SO many kids making first time decisions to follow Christ, which shows me that fun and faith don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

The Truth about big churches

What it comes down to is this – what started as just a small church outside the Twin Cities is growing with such incredible momentum that it can only be because of the Holy Spirit at work. In the last two years, 10,000 people have come to faith in Jesus for the first time. TEN. THOUSAND. That kind of life change doesn’t happen when a church is focused on superficial things like being the “cool” church or the “feel good” church. That change can ONLY come from God blessing our mission to reach others for Christ.

And what a fool I would be to miss out on God at work.

Our lofty plan for buying a house

We want to buy a house in cash. That’s right – no mortgage, no loans, no interest. Just cold, hard cash.

GULP. It feels scary to say that out loud. We aren’t 100% dedicated to this idea yet, but it is SUPER appealing to us. Here’s why:

No mortgage means no debt

The Osegards visit Ramsey Solutions!
Debt Free! Buying a house with no mortgage means we can stay that way!

If you’ve followed our story at all, you know that we had student loan debt that was the size of a small house. We paid thousands in interest, and it was SO frustrating. We want our money to be used for leaving a legacy for our family, our community, and our world. Having no mortgage means we can stop paying interest and start doing better things with our money.

Interest makes us sick

I mean, we love interest that works in our favor, but interest we pay to someone else? This article sums it up pretty well. The average house cost in the US is between $200,000 – $250,000 depending on your source.

On a 15-year $250,000 loan, at current average interest rates, you pay $86,933.32 in interest over the life of the loan. For a 30 year mortgage, that amount skyrockets to $220,023! You practically pay for your house TWICE with the kind of interest.


We want to OWN our home

Alyssa and the GIANT snow pile! No mortgage, and no maintenance!
Alyssa’s smiling because we DIDN’T have to shovel this ourselves!

It’s funny how anyone who pays for a house at all is suddenly a home owner. Sure, you have the responsibilities of home ownership (taking care of repairs, keeping the house and lawn in good working order, snow removal, etc), but do you actually own your home?

Nope. If you are paying a mortgage, then the bank owns your home, not you. If we’re going to be called home owners, we want to own it ourselves.

Why we are still saving

We know that this isn’t a popular way to go about things. We know that many people think we are “wasting money” on rent. It’s going to take a long time to save up enough to buy a house with cash, but here are the things that are keeping us going right now.

Where to buy

We haven’t decided what a good place would be for us to live long-term yet. There’s no point in buying a house in a place we don’t necessarily want to be at long term. If the real estate market changes an we decide to leave, then we could have big problems. In fact, the townhouse we currently rent fits this scenario. The owners bought it, had a job change, but the market shifted and they were upside-down on their mortgage and couldn’t sell it. Not a situation we want to put ourselves in!

Our current rental fits our needs

The place we rent now is the most ideal location for us at this stage in our life. It’s exactly what we wanted in a home. Plus, we got it for a steal of a price. We aren’t in a hurry to get out of here!

Patience pays off

We don’t want to be so anxious to chase after the “Joneses” that we get in over our head. Sure, we could probably afford a pretty nice house right now based on the bank’s standards. However, we feel that if we were to get a really nice house and be stuck paying our mortgage for 15-30 years to keep that lifestyle up, we aren’t being true to US. We would rather wait and be purposeful and intentional with how we spend and what we buy.

No mortgage? Now hear us out.

We don’t think it’s bad if you have a mortgage, nor do we think that we are better than anyone else if we pay cash for a house. It’s just something we feel convicted about and want to pursue for us!

We still aren’t 100% sold on this, but it’s our lofty goal! We do know this though: if we end up with a mortgage we will pay at LEAST 20% down in cash, use a 15-year fixed mortgage, and our monthly payments for our house will be UNDER 25% of our take home pay. And that mortgage would NOT be around for 15 years either – we would ditch that with the same intensity we did our other debt!

Have you ever paid cash for a house? Would you ever consider it?

What is true rest (and what isn’t) Sabbath pt. 2

When we started honoring the Sabbath (or celebrating Shabbat), we knew that it would be easy to slip into old habits. Finding time and space for true rest is so difficult!

In our culture of hustle and BUSY, it’s easy for weekends to become about cleaning, projects, and getting stuff done so that your next week can be just as productive. However, we knew that Sabbath was to be about two things, and two things only – rest and worship.

This is part 2 in our series on rest and Sabbath. You can read part 1 here.

True rest? Worship? Neither?

We decided at our first family meeting that anything we would do during our shabbat had to pass one litmus test: “Is this rest or worship?” If the answer was neither, it was a no-go. From there, and from a few weeks of experience, we realized that there were some things that were definite, constant “no’s” on the litmus test of sabbath, somethings that were always a “yes”, and some that vary depending on the context and the week.

Since these things vary in our own our household from week to week, we know they will vary from household to household. However, we wanted to show you our list of typical things that have come up during our Sabbath to help you set guidelines for your own Sabbath.

True Rest or Worship

Always Yes

Cody's phone on the nightstand - not to be used during our Sabbath!
Our phones are on silent and left up in the bedroom, so we don’t grab it out of habit or start doing mindless things!
  • Putting away your phone
  • Staying off social media
  • Taking a nap
  • Reading
  • Going to church
  • Playing piano/guitar
  • Going for a walk

Sometimes Yes

  • Board games and puzzles
  • Watching a movie
  • Writing
  • Spending time with friends
  • Listening to podcasts

Always No

  • Cleaning
  • Binge watching TV
  • Anything that becomes mindless
  • Checking your phone
  • Social media

If you’ve never tried Sabbath for yourself, what’s stopping you? We know, we know… Life is too busy right now, there isn’t time to stop and not do ANYTHING! And that’s entirely the point – if we aren’t intentional to follow God’s instructions, we will always be too busy. Too busy for true rest, too busy for growth, and too busy for God. This continues to be a learning experience for us, but it is already so fruitful for us! We would love for you to join us, and let us know what works (and doesn’t) for you!

Our Royal Caribbean Cruise Review

Back in March, Alyssa and I were able to go on our first-ever cruise! Our good friends (and Alyssa’s boss) the Kuiper’s brought us along on a Royal Caribbean trip they earned, as well as bringing our favorite kiddos.

We’ve always wanted to try a cruise, but other trips have always taken priority. Not knowing what to expect fully, we did lots of asking around. The opinions on cruises really vary, but most tended to be either “We LOVE cruises” or “Never again”. This made us a bit nervous, but still excited!

The Ship

The cruise we were on was a Royal Caribbean aboard the Harmony of the Seas, the second largest cruise ship in existence! I mean, if we were going to start somewhere, why not the biggest! The ship was truly incredible, and felt more like a luxury hotel with most of the surrounding city as well. Restaurants, stores, a carousel, Central Park, theaters, pretty much anything you can think of.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas in Labadee

There were so many things to do on the ship, and we frankly did a terrible job of taking advantage of them. We didn’t make it to any shows. but we did get to see a tech rehearsal for one show, which was awesome! We took advantage of many of the (included) restaurants and bars, but not so much the activities like mini-golf or the epic slides.

Alyssa underneath The Abyss slides on Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas

As time passed on the ship, we honestly forgot that we were on a boat. Every once in a while, we would feel the waves and remember. But even Alyssa, who tends to be more sensitive to motion, didn’t have any issues with sea sickness. We didn’t even use the Dramamine or Sea Bands we had with!

The Royal Caribbean Experience

I was beyond impressed with the Royal Caribbean crew. The level of service provided was truly great, and we definitely felt more spoiled than we have before on a vacation. Our stateroom attendant (which sounded WAY too fancy for us) Endy was so incredibly helpful and polite. He was accommodating for us as we had kids in our room some nights, and kept the rooms looking amazing. It was extra relaxing to come home in the evening to a bedroom all ready to sleep in!

Room service included? Yes please!

The food and drinks were equally impressive, everywhere we went. There were plenty of options included in the trip price, and we could always find something when we were hungry. Definitely loved the buffet options, because everyone was happy! We had a specific dining time in the dining room, but since it was a three-course meal, it took a lot of time, and it didn’t feel like the best use of our time.

The Final Verdict

Everyone told us that you either are cruise people or not cruise people. Basically after your first cruise you’ll either ONLY go on cruises for the rest of your life or you’ll never even consider a cruise. I don’t think we fell into either camp though.

The Osegards with our favorite kiddos!

Honestly, what made the cruise amazing was the people we spent our time with. When it comes down to it, I think we would enjoy going on a cruise again, but wouldn’t necessarily seek out a cruise as a first option for a trip. Truly, it’s all about WHO you go with rather than what’s available on the cruise. Overall, we didn’t take advantage of all the cool things we could have done, but it was still super special because we spent it with some of our favorite people!

Have you been on a cruise? What cruise lines do you recommend? Share with us below!

Fostering TRUE rest through Sabbath (part 1)

“Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy”

If you grew up in a Christian, church-going household, you’ve probably heard this a million times.

For me, I thought this meant go to church on Sundays and maybe taking a good Sunday afternoon, nap, am I right?

Recently, we’ve started to feel this might not be what God had in mind for the sabbath, and we’ve set out to learn more.

Does God really care if I rest?

  • It’s like tithing. There are arguments on both sides, but it’s a matter of trusting God. Sabbath/Shabbat/Rest is like a tithe with your time.
  • It’s one of the 10 commandments. If we follow the other nine, why not follow this one?
  • God himself took a day of rest after creating the world. If it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for us

One thing that jumped out at us as we started looking into Sabbath was the comparison to a tithe. When we first started giving a true tithe, we had many discussions around this idea of trusting God. At first, we tended to have a selfish perspective on our tithe. “We are trying to get out of debt so we CAN give. Why would we let 10% of our income go somewhere else?”

We have the same feelings about our time. “We have GOALS. If we’re going to get stuff done, why would we give God an entire day!”. As soon as we heard how similar our attitude was towards true rest, we realized that it was probably something we NEEDED to do.

Sabbath is time to spend together in true rest

Tithing our Time

The issue with this perspective isn’t the math, or even our intentions for the money or the time. The issue is that we didn’t want to trust God. OUR plan is the best, so we can ignore what God says and do it our way. When our plan or our own goals become the center of our lives, we leave God at the wayside.

We have started to see the idea of a weekly Sabbath in the same light as we had seen tithing. Is it hard to truly rest for 24 hours, knowing that there are literally hundreds of other things we could be doing? Absolutely! But together, we are working on trusting that God knows better for our lives, relationships, and time than we do.

So, what IS a Sabbath?

When this idea began to take root in our lives, we were less than qualified, to say the least. We have started learning and leaning into people much more experienced to understand what Sabbath is, and why it’s so important.

For starters, we DEFINITELY recommend listening to John Mark Comer’s series on Sabbath, available here. This series from Bridgetown Church really launched our commitment to figuring out what a day of rest looks like for us. John offers lots of great historical and spiritual insights into what Sabbath is and why it is such a lost art. In our world that’s so focused on more, faster, and better, it’s very revolutionary to STOP and focus on God.

Some of our other favorite resources on this topic come from Annie F. Downs, Jeff and Alyssa Bethke, and Jeremy and April Pryor. We will keep working on our own journey with Sabbath/Shabbat because it is important for our relationships with God and each other. Are you craving rest in your life? We’d love to see others step in beside us and commit to a day of true rest every week as well. We hope you will take some time to study and pray on this idea, and see if God puts it on your heart like he has ours!

You can read part two of this series here.

Coming clean about personal care

Beautycounter is having a site-wide sale from now until the 15th! Use this link to get 15% off! I do NOT sell Beautycounter, but I am a big fan!

I inherited the most acne-prone skin on the planet.  I would wash my face religiously and still have the oiliest skin ever with constant breakouts that no amount of mid-2000s caked on foundation could cover. 

This was my profile picture in 2006. ????

I hoped and prayed that I would outgrow it like most every other teenager in the world, but no such luck. I tried every line of product available at Target, bought the expensive lines whose commercials seemed to be there just for me, and even tried prescription cremes and medications.  Dietary changes, sleeping on towels, cutting dairy, and drinking my body weight in water, still nothing.

Desperate for change

My body was littered with chemicals that I slathered on to try and prevent acne or to cover it up.  One day, my dear friend introduced me to her sister-in-law, who claimed to have the answer – Beautycounter.

My skin saw virtually no change, nearly a decade later.

Desperate for anything but my last resort (Acutane), I decided to give it a shot.  They didn’t have an acne line at the time, so I knew it was a long shot, but I vowed to give it six months with a handful of the products Madison recommended. 

It. Worked.  I still have the occasional breakout, of course, but it is a night and day difference.  I’m not embarrassed to be out in public without makeup anymore.  Now that the new acne line has released, I’m near-certain that I have total clear skin in my future.

More than just a clearer face

My favorite products go beyond face-care, however.  The sunscreen is AMAZING. I ALWAYS burn, no matter how much sunscreen I wear, because I am PASTY white.  We went to Florida, Haiti, and the Bahamas during the dead of Minnesota winter (when I’m at my palest), and I didn’t burn once (even when I didn’t apply as frequently as I should have).

My once oily hair is SO HEALTHY now that I use the shampoo and conditioner from Beautycounter.  I used to last no more than 10 hours or so without my hair being caked in oil.  Now I can go a few days in a row without a wash (if needed) and still be fine.

Coming clean on cost

Now, Beautycounter is more expensive than most things in my past.  We’ve had to budget for this.  While I often go the cheapest route for things to save money, I’ve learned that when it comes to personal care, you get what you pay for.  The confidence I have in these products and the results are worth the extra cost.  I’ve stopped buying a million products from other places and save up for a handful of Beautycounter products that I KNOW make a difference. 

Coming clean about Beautycounter

The more I’ve learned about Beautycounter, the more I love to support this business, even at a higher cost than I was used too. I’ve learned that there are almost NO regulations on what goes in to personal care items!  As someone who tries to make wise choices about what I put IN my body, what goes ON my body is equally important. It was terrifying to learn about all the things I was exposing my body to.  The stuff I was lathering on my skin before was definitely not good for my health.

Not only is Beautycounter a business I feel comfortable backing, but so is my consultant! Madison has become a sweet friend.  She is such an encouragement to me in the way that she lives out her faith, runs her business, and parents her sweet kiddos. There is something so wonderful about supporting a friend who really does things the “right” way, and Madison is that girl.  I can’t recommend her or Beautycounter enough.  If you are looking to step away from the junk in personal care products, you need to check out Espresso and Cream Beauty !

ps. Use this link to get 15% off through April 15th!