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!

How to love your music teacher during MIOSM

March is Music in Our Schools month (MIOSM), so as a former music teacher I have an insider’s perspective for all the classroom teachers out there. MIOSM can be truly wonderful, but is often equally busy. Music teachers can sometimes feel undervalued when people react out of stress in all the hustle and bustle.

It’s not a problem isolated to March, though. In my experience, music teachers, like many “specials teachers” are often treated differently from the typical classroom teacher. There are two main opinions: 1) We’re just babysitters who give the classroom teacher a break, and 2) We aren’t “real teachers”, so we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Now I know that most teachers and administrators don’t mean to think of other teachers this way. I think many times people simply don’t understand the amount of training music teachers have. A music education degree (BME) is essentially a complete education degree AND a music degree, combined.

So teachers, if you want show your music teacher some extra love during Music in Our Schools Month, or even all year round, here are my top tips:

Tip 1

Tip 1 for appreciating your music teacher: Watch the Clock

During these especially busy periods of the year, music teachers tend to be shuffled from rehearsal to class and back again a million times. Their schedules are overloaded. Dropping your class off five minutes early prevents them from prepping for the next class (or peeing). Five minutes late means they can’t fully prepare your students for their performances, and have to improvise lesson plans that are already tight. Now, I’ve been on the side of the classroom teacher too. I KNOW how desperately you want an extra five minutes free from your cherubs, especially right before breaks. But that five minutes might be the only break your music teacher sees that day!

Tip 2

Tip Two for appreciating your music teacher: Stay Positive

We know that rehearsals interfere with your schedule and aren’t always convenient. I promise you that music teachers do their best to accommodate everyone’s schedule, but it often just isn’t possible. The more positive you can be, the more positive your students will be, and the better experience everyone can have!

Tip 3

Tip Three for appreciating your music teacher: Recognize the work it takes

Music teachers have an entire grade level work together all at once to show every parent, grandparent, and community member what they’ve learned in class.  It’s a lot of things to think about at once! Imagine if you had to gather the entire first grade together on stage at once to present everything they learned in your math class! Intimidating, right? Recognize that pressure, and give them grace when things aren’t perfect.

It’s not just your music teacher

Many of your specialist teachers have seasons that are more difficult, much like Music teachers in March. Your flexibility and positive attitude make all of our lives (including yours), and our time teaching your kiddos, go so much smoother all year round!

ps. If all else fails, grace and coffee will be surefire ways to show your appreciation.

Faith and Food

Faith and Food have always gone hand in hand.  Food is everywhere in faith traditions like Christmas and Easter, not to mention potlucks, funerals, baby showers, bible studies.  Everywhere we go in faith it feels as though food is there too.

There is nothing inherently wrong with food, but I found that the way I learned to love food didn’t align with what I knew God was calling me to do. I knew that God wanted me to treat my body better.  I was treating it like a dumpster – filling it to the brim with all kinds of junk.  Delicious junk, sure, but junk all the same.  God kept nudging me to do better with how I fueled my body, but something just wasn’t clicking in me. 

Christian Objections

There were a few objections I kept hearing in the Christian community that made me question what I knew God wanted me to do.

Faith and Food
  • God has better ways for us to use our time other than meal planning or exercising.  He doesn’t care what we eat! 
  • “Getting healthy” promotes vanity. 
  • God gave us food so we might as well enjoy it! 

Still, I kept reading things like:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31


12 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 13 You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. 14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead. 15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?

1 Corinthians 6:12-15 

So what? It’s just food.

As I watched the my weight climb and my energy levels decrease, I knew that this couldn’t be what God had intended. These verses I had sparked something in me, and I was determined to find what God truly desires for us. Here are 3 of my realizations so far:

  1. Food can become an idol. I needed something that would fuel my body well, but be EASY to follow so that it wouldn’t become all-consuming.
  2. I needed to do this not just for me and my health, but for God’s glory. Nothing we do means anything without Christ.
  3. When I let myself indulge in anything and everything, I’m not actually “enjoying what God gave me.” I’m really giving into the temptation to be lazy or gluttonous.

So I’m tackling this from both angles. I’m learning how to eat healthier in a simple and sustainable way.  But I’m not going on a diet. No rules or restrictions. For me, this creates a balance between enjoying God’s gifts, but treating food as fuel and not as an idol. 

I also am doing this to better myself for GOD.  When I get busy, I tend to eat poorly.  My body responds to this by being sluggish and even getting sick. When I’m sick and sluggish, I’m not performing at a level that is allowing me to serve to the best of my ability. 

The Plan

I’m NOT doing this to be “better” than anyone else.  I want to be better than I was, but I refuse to compare myself to others.  I do however want to be an encouragement, because gluttony and food issues tend to be so overlooked in the church.

Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.

Romans 14:3

I recently found a program that has no rules or restrictions. It simply is a mindset shift that teaches how food is fuel for our bodies to perform at their best. I’m always a little leery of mindset things, because I find that they become very “Me” centered.  I found this approach to be really healthy though, and am bolstering that with learning from the spiritual side of things too.

I hope you will join Cody and I as we run our first ever “Faith and Food Bootcamp”.  When you sign up you will receive:

Sound like a good fit for you? Let us know here!

Transform your life in nine weeks!

Nine weeks was all it took to change the trajectory of our finances.  Our finances were a mess – we were in debt and had no consistency. When the opportunity arose, we made a small investment into a kit and added some accountability.  Nine weeks later we had new habits, had paid off $8000 in debt, and were set on a path to financial peace!

The key was diving ALL IN for the nine weeks. We committed to the program’s guidelines and did our absolute best. It wasn’t perfect, but we were committed and consistent.

We haven’t regretted that decision once. In fact, we realized that the same ideas could be applied to our health, so here we go.

FOR NINE WEEKS we are committing to filling our cups even when our plates are full.  We know that taking care of ourselves allows us to be better spouses, coworkers, and friends, who are more able to pour into others!

Our nine week all-in guidelines include:

-Four 40 minutes workouts a week that are pre-set and easy to do at home or at the gym
-Prepping meals for each week to keep us on track, using a menu emailed out each week by a Registered Dietitian
-Weekly work-free dates (or outings with friends, if single)
-Creating a schedule each week that sets us up for success, no matter what we have going on
-Checking in with our friends who partner with us for the nine weeks

When it came to our finances, nine weeks was all it took to change the entire trajectory of our future, and we are confident that nine weeks is all it will take for us to change our health and schedule. Life is better in community, though, so we want YOU to partner with us!

Let’s do it. Let’s commit to our OWN health on a daily basis, and focus on the relationships that matter most to us. It won’t be easy, but we know it will be worth it, and we are so excited for others to join us on this 9-week journey!  Comment “I’M IN” if you want more information on how to join us for this nine week transformation! 


Choose Your Hard

Choose your hard.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that saying.  While it’s become a bit of an overused saying, it is something I come back to frequently in my life when I’m feeling particularly unmotivated.  Slowly but surely “choose your hard” is helping me become more disciplined.

Choose your hard – Lifestyle

I first heard the phrase being used in relation to choosing a healthier lifestyle. It was used something like this:

Getting up to do a workout is hard.
Turning down take-out for a cleaner meal is hard.
But you know what else is hard?
Knowing you aren’t at your best and feeling uncomfortable in your skin. Feeling sluggish all the time because you haven’t fueled your body well.

The saying really got into my head.  I truly dislike working out.  I know that it will be better for me in the long run, but it’s so hard to fit that into my day.  However, you know what else I don’t like?  I don’t like knowing that I’m not doing my best. Having low energy all the time is uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling uncomfortable in my skin when I know it’s something that I can change.  When push comes to shove, I know I would rather choose uncomfortable for 40 minutes a day instead of tired and uncomfortable.

And when I am actively making those healthy choices, hard as they may be, they get easier as they become habit. Eating out all the time and sitting on the couch all day can become second nature.  Working out and eating is becoming second nature for me.

I’d only really heard “choose your hard” in the context of a healthy lifestyle versus a sedentary lifestyle, but it dawned on me that the same is also true of our financial journey.

Choose your hard – Finances

You know what’s hard right now?  Being four years into marriage and still renting places we like but aren’t OURS.  Driving a car that sounds like it could fall a part at any second stinks.  Having to turn down trips with friends because we can’t afford to travel as much as we would like is really hard. Saving a significant amount of our income instead of spending it on supposed “lifestyle upgrades” is hard!

Of course, the first few years of marriage were HARD financially too. You know what was hard about our journey? Living paycheck to paycheck was HARD.  Owing people (specifically loan providers) money plus interest every month was HARD.

The thing is, paycheck to paycheck living, surviving off of credit cards,  and not having enough money saved for retirement has become NORMAL. As a society, we’ve made this hard our normal. It’s become second nature to live paycheck to paycheck and to buy all the nice new stuff all the time because it’s “what everyone does”. 

For us, we chose our hard.  We fought to get out of debt and start saving and to live on less than we make. Why? Because we knew that when you choose your hard often enough, it gets easier.  Now, we live in peace with a hope for our future because we chose the “weird” path  as our hard, and we’ve let these habits become second nature to us.  We let ourselves become disciplined now.

What’s hard now is setting us up for success later on.

Choose your hard.

Four Lessons In Four Years

Four lessons from four years

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since our wedding. Which means it’s been almost half a decade since we got engaged… Crazy! While there have been definite ups and downs over the years, Alyssa and I have set out to condense our knowledge gained to four main points, one for each year of our marriage so far. Without further ado, here are the four most important lessons from our four years of being married!

Be Best Friends

While it may sound cliche, this has been so important for us. Especially being married fresh out of college, we have been (happily) forced to lean into each other. Our friends from growing up and from college are now spread out around the country. To me, being best friends means always being there for each other. When things are bad, I need to be there as a friend not a handyman. When things are good, I get to celebrate with Alyssa! And when things are just middle-of-the-road, we get to work together to make life fun and interesting!

Be Honest

I know, earth-shattering right? But there is some deep wisdom in this. As Alyssa and I have learned how to deal with conflict, this has been huge for us. For us, step one in working through any conflicts we have is to just be honest. If it’s not out in the open, there’s a good chance that it’s being bottled up. There’s definitely a line of what is “worth” fighting about and what is just something small. Without honesty and openness though, we definitely would not be able to find this line! This will always be a work in progress for us, but striving towards this openness is very important. And on the other side of this honesty is the ability to listen and accept what is being said.

Be Present

Especially in our modern technology-filled world, this is SO important. I truly believe that being purposeful about time together makes a huge impact. Even something as “boring” as watching a TV show or playing a card game together can be valuable time. When we put phones away and focus on each other instead, I feel connected to Alyssa. It doesn’t take much to distract and get in the way of this time though – a simple ding from an email or text, or the casual pull to social media. Be intentional about ignoring these prompts and truly spend time together!

Be Goofy

Marriage is not easy, and it takes a ton of work! When things are hard, it can be tough to see the fun in things. Being able to cut loose and just be goofy together is a powerful thing for Alyssa and me! We are definitely not the most serious people, and our connection to each other through sarcasm and humor is one of the things I remember most about our dating years. I think the ability to continue that helps us stay close and stay true to ourselves.


What are your best marriage lessons?  Share them with us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram to see some of our top memories from our marriage so far!

A new chapter in my career (why I’m retiring from teaching at age 25)

Growing up, I always had two main ambitions: I wanted to teach and I wanted to have an amazing family.  Those were my goals. Now, here I am at 25 – leaving my teaching job and with no immediate plans to start a family.  Yet, I’m perfectly content.

Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning these lifelong goals, it’s just that they have grown and changed over the years! When I started college, my world changed, along with my goals. I especially wanted to travel. When Cody and I met, I realized that one of my new goals was to prioritize time together as much as possible. On top of all of that, I’ve always found joy in volunteering and helping, so I’ve wanted to make time for that.

Born to teach

All in all, teaching was a perfect fit for me and for my goals.  It was something I clearly had a gift for.   I had summers “off” where I could travel.  I was done working by 4 (often by 1 as a part time employee) , so I had more time with my husband.  Helping and teaching are practically synonymous in a preschool classroom.  Teaching checked all the boxes.  Or so I thought.

The toll of teaching

As an introvert, teaching is exhausting. August through May, I finish up at school and feel too tired to do anything but recharge.  I don’t explore my hobbies, I don’t spend quality time with my husband, and I’m always bordering on physical and mental exhaustion.  Starting in my first year teaching I explored other career options, even though I KNEW I was born to teach.

God has been showing me that there are other situations outside of the classroom that truly allow me to pursue my goals and dreams, and use the gifts He’s given me.  Once I began to understand that, I knew what I needed to do.  I announced that I would not be returning to teaching in the fall.

Well, what’s the plan?

I will be taking on my current side gig as an Executive Assistant for an incredible health and fitness coach/blogger/all around amazing friend  as my main gig.  This job has been a perfect fit for me since day one.  I get to help people and teach people in new ways.  It is something that I could potentially do when we have kids someday (and still have energy for them and for my husband).   It already allows me to travel and explore. I get to go to conferences in the area, will be going to Indianapolis in the summer, and have other trips on the horizon as well!  Beyond that, Cody and I get to go to Phoenix for a training, and we will have the flexibility to go on an anniversary getaway as well!

My new chapter

The most important part is that I already feel like a new person.  Throughout March and April of this year I was EXHAUSTED.  I was sleeping 8-10 hours every night and still feeling too tired to do anything (including workout, which did not help my anxious, overwhelmed self). I would work 12 hours most days and fill the rest of my time with de-stressing baths and Netflix.

Since I finished my lesson plans and big obligations for the year, I am sleeping only 6-8 hours a night, but wake up feeling recharged.  I’ve had time to start thinking about my hobbies again.  Cody and I get to spend actual quality time together that isn’t me just trying to survive.  My new job isn’t necessarily always within the “normal” business hours, but I don’t feel the stress of work following me home the same way I did with teaching.

I still believe God is calling me to teach, and I will continue to do so at church and hopefully in some aspects of my new job as well.  This is a direction I never saw my life going, but I am SO thankful that I’m right here, right now!

Grief and Growing Up

I (Alyssa) have a dead brother.

It’s a fact about me – but not really an icebreaker, “get to know you” type of fact, so not a lot of people in my life now know this. It’s been a weird change for me.  In December, we passed what would have been Grady’s 21st birthday. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and how much my life has changed since he left this earth 16 years ago, even just in the way I handle missing my lil’ bro. 

Grady passed away on April 23, 2002 from cancer (a brain tumor).  He was five years old.  I was a quiet, little, nine-year-old in fourth grade. My world was completely rocked, and everyone around me was affected too. The school guidance counselor talked to my class (and if I remember correctly, possibly the whole fourth grade. . .), the funeral was at my church, and obviously my family knew.  Everyone around me was aware.  I loved it and hated it.  It was nice because people just KNEW; I didn’t have to tell them.  On the other hand, it was overwhelming hearing cliches like “sorry for your loss” 2348579382 times (which led to a handful of emotional suppression issues, but that’s a talk for another time).

Over the next few years, almost a decade even, it was nice.  All I had to say was “April 23rd is this week” and the people around me knew that was the anniversary of my brother’s death, so if I was a little crabby or just a little off – that’s why! It was nice to have the ability to not have to talk about it if I didn’t want to.  My family always stayed home that day and ate Grady’s favorite foods (a seriously disgusting meal, but it became tradition).  It was nice that everyone in my life had some sort of connection to or knowledge of Grady still.

As the years went on, my other brother, Logan, and I grew up, and it became harder to miss school and a little easier to manage life on the 23rd.  I still had friends in my life who would support me through the day, and people who remembered the date without me mentioning itgpl2.  It was freeing for me to go back to school on the 23rd.  I needed to know that life could go back to “normal” on that day.  We still ate that gross meal of Grady’s favorites together as a family and remembered Grady.

College wasn’t much different as I was either home on break or on tour with a choir basically every year.  I didn’t much like being on a plane for 8 hours on the 23rd my senior year, but it was doable, and I was always with family or with really close friends.

It’s strange now though.  No one around me really knows about Grady.  If I mention April 23rd, it has no meaning to anyone around me.  In a way, it’s nice because some people are awkward around me on that day, and I don’t have to deal with that aspect anymore.  But on the other hand, it’s weird not having someone in my life who will be with me all day who knows what I’m going through and can give me encouraging smiles and pep talks throughout the day.  I have Cody, but even he doesn’t have a connection to Grady.  He asked me what I want to do Thursday, and I didn’t have an answer for him.  I think I want to start my own tradition in his memory, but I don’t know what, because everything is so different now.

Now that I’m off in the adult world, I’ve passed a lot of the milestones I dreaded growing up.  Learning to drive without my brother.  Graduating high school. Having another brother to pick on my boyfriends. Graduating college. Getting married.  At every milestone my heart has ached to have Grady there, but I’ve made it through, and I know that I will find a way to celebrate his life even when I don’t have my childhood friends and family here with me!  In a way, I’m excited to see what traditions I can begin with Cody and which ones I can carry on from the past 16 years!

A letter to my students

Dear Students,

I remember the first time I met you.  You came in to meet your teachers and get your pictures taken.  I tried my best to greet you by name and meet you at your level.  You hid behind your parents (and some of you even cried).

We’re halfway through the school year now, and everything is different.  I get to hear all about your family and your friends.  You show me your owies and tell me about the fun things you do with your family.  No longer are you “scared-to-even-look-at-me”. Instead, you know how to make me laugh and even how to push my buttons.

You think that I live at school.  I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels that way. I leave school and I worry about you.  I spend my free time planning the best ways to teach you and help you. My job is not a “leave it at work” sort of job.

The work of a teacher often feels never ending, but I know our time together is short – only a few years at most!  I have so much I want to impart on you in that short time.

I want you to know that:

-School is a safe place.  The staff and faculty will always put your safety first.  There are people out there who make bad choices, but we will ALWAYS do our best to keep you safe.

-Learning is fun.  There will be tough days and things that don’t click for you as well, but as long as you enjoy learning, you will continue to grow as a person.

-You are more than labels. I don’t care that you have a reputation at this age for being quiet, or sweet, or stubborn, or naughty. . . you are just who God made you to be – unique and wonderful. And I know that.

-Your worth is not measured by your accomplishments or by your reputation.  Your worth comes from God, and that kind of worth is beyond measure. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

-People will be mean.  It’s a part of life.  Learn to forgive people who are mean to you, and to both ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself when you hurt others.

-You made an impact on me. We may have only spent an hour a week together, but I thought about you and prayed for you a lot.  I spent most of my free time thinking about how to help you enjoy school and to find ways to make the most of our short time together.

Finally, I want you to know that Jesus loves you.

I have had the opportunity to teach you in a Christian school, but many of you will not have a place to learn about or express your faith after Pre-K.  I hope that I can show you God’s love, and that you can take that love and let it grow into a love and kindness for everyone you meet.

You are wonderful and you matter. Don’t ever forget it.

-Mrs. Osegard

Take Action – James 2:17 “Faith Without Action is Dead”

Right now, nothing I have been working on for the blog feels right to post.  My heart is shattered as I hear YET AGAIN of another school shooting.  I want to take action, and I want my country to take action. Not only that, but I know that I am obligated to take action, because as the Bible says in James 2:17, faith without action is dead.

As someone who has been to far too many children’s funerals because of cancer, I am angry that we aren’t doing more to stop the actual MURDER of children.

As a preschool teacher, I am terrified.  We’ve had lockdowns, but will my three year olds actually be able to hide and be quiet enough to not draw attention to our room if this happens here?   I feel sick every time we have a lockdown drill.

As a someday parent, it makes me research homeschooling every time it happens.  I love schools, I loved school as a student and as a teacher, but can I really stomach the idea of sending my own children out the door each day?

Then it hits me that this could happen ANYWHERE. Yes, schools seem to be the biggest target, but it could happen anywhere.  Do I just stay in my house and never leave?

As an employee of a school, it is so frustrating to see blame being placed on us for this because we are either OVER protecting students or UNDER protecting students.  We would literally die to protect your child, and that’s something we are forced to think about EVERY SINGLE time this happens and EVERY SINGLE drill.

What now?

Do I have opinions on how to cut down on these horrible tragedies? You bet.  Do I claim to know all the answers? Absolutely not. But SOMETHING must be done.  I’m not sure yet what the best way for me to take action is.  With my thoughts and prayers, absolutely, but also with my vote.  I need to be better informed so that I can take action.  But how do we as individuals take action?  All I know is something must be done.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:17