Have Your Cake and Eat it Too! For Breakfast!

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0001167_banana-chocolate-chip-mojo-muffins_200Now, I’m not really much of a cake person, but I do love me some muffins!  A nice warm muffin, cinnamon roll, or even a stack of pancakes with my coffee in the morning really hits the spot.  But, where’s the all important protein and fiber in those foods?  And, should we really be eating all of those calories if we want to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight?  Those are some good questions!

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition and Women’s Health, a study showed that “those who ate more calories in the first half of the day lost significantly more weight and demonstrated better metabolic activity than those who ate heavily in the evening.”  And, what about protein?  Check out the visual below to learn what protein can do for you and why it’s good to eat it in the morning.

 

Protein, The Building Blocks Of Your BodyFrom Visually.

*Eating most of your protein in the morning can keep you feeling satisfied and help reduce your carb cravings throughout the day.  It will boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite.

Fiber is also important in the morning.  According to many experts, including Chris Powell, fiber is very important and should be included in your morning meal.  The morning is also the best time to consume your carbs for the day.  Getting all of these things in the morning will help curb appetite, flush out toxins, and give you the energy to get through the day.

As a mother of 5, I’m always looking for ways to keep my energy level up.  But, I still love those muffins!  Of course, most muffins don’t have a ton of protein in them.  But, I refused to give up my morning muffin!!  All I had to do was find an alternative to the low nutrient temptations I craved.  So, I scoured my usual food finding places, like Amazon and Peapod.  I also checked my local grocery store and Costco.  Anything high in protein was usually in the form of a bar or bland cereal with nuts.  The only muffins I found with a high protein and fiber content were the FlapJacked muffins that come in individual cups.  Sounds easy enough, just add water and stick it in the microwave.  And, Voila!  You get 20 grams of protein in a cup.  Now, let’s see how much they cost…hmmmm.  $24.99 for 6 cups!!!  Are you kidding me?  Well, that’s just not going to happen.  I guess I’ll just have to make them myself.

*Update 02/01/16:  I did make some pretty awesome protein pancakes recently that turned out amazing… and they’re gluten free!  Check out my Instagram for the recipe.  I don’t always have the time to experiment, but here’s what I came up with.

 

Well, I don’t have a ton of time on my hands, but I suppose if I found a good recipe or something I could whip up some yummy protein muffins.  So, I went searching for recipes.  I found this website that gave me a list of 20 protein muffin recipes.  Some of them had high protein content, but those recipes called for protein powder.  Protein powder isn’t cheep and usually comes in huge tubs.  I still felt like I needed something easier, like a muffin mix.

Ok, well sometimes gourmet and direct sales companies have uncommon foods.  So, maybe I’ll find a company that has high protein baked goods and maybe some other healthy breakfast options.  I started searching online for a company that had what I was looking for.  I went through a few different companies before coming across what looked like a brand new company called “Crave It!”  I guess “Crave It” is the sister company to “Do You Bake?”  They make food mixes with all real ingredients, including a protein banana chocolate chip muffin mix!  They also carry a line of protein smoothies, bars, pancakes, and more!  They even have some gluten free mixes that look really yummy.  I got so excited about the food, I just had to order some.  So, I went through the process of ordering and discovered that I could get 50% off my first order if I became an “ambassador.”  So, yea, I just had to take advantage of that.  I ordered the protein muffin mix, a Goin Green Smoothz, and a freezer meal kit.  I waited in anticipation for my package of yummy goodness to arrive.  It took FOREVER!  I guess it had a lot to do with the new year rush and the fact that they’re a newer company, and hopefully that their products were just that good.  I hoped that it was all worth the wait.  I didn’t want to have to search for another company to feed my obsession with baked goods in the morning.  After all, I had gotten the protein muffin mix from “Crave It” on sale AND got the ambassador discount.  SWEET!

Now for the moment of truth.  I opened my package to find gift bags full of mixes, cool looking noodles, a rice mix, and some kind of sauce.  It all looked so…so…time consuming.  Well, I certainly asked for it.  I mean, I just HAD to get that freezer meal kit, didn’t I?  With 5 kids, it’s always a good idea to stock up.  Ok, back to my protein muffins.  I pulled the box out and looked at what I would need to make the muffins.  Bananas…check, greek yogurt…add to list, and eggs.  Ok, that’s doable.  Now, let’s see how they turn out…

YUMMY!  Not too sweet… just right!  Only 5 grams of sugar and 11 grams of protein per muffin (or 3 mini muffins.)  One box made 3 dozen mini muffins.  Since they are pretty filling, they should last a while.  I decided to freeze a bag of them for next week to keep them from going bad before I could enjoy them.

 

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The protein smoothie I got was also delicious and really convenient.  They come in individually wrapped bags for ease of use when you’re on the go.  So, when I’m at the gym and I don’t want to spend $5 on a protein smoothie from the smoothie bar, I just shake up my own protein smoothie/shake by filling my water bottle with water and the Smoothz powder.  Delicious and nutritious!  Yum!

 

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Just tried half a packet of this #smoothie mix and it was yummy! http://www.getfitwithcraveit.com

A photo posted by Marissa Schmucker (@mschmucker31) on

Since I love the products so far and I love what the company stands for, I’ve decided to promote the “Crave It” line of products on my blog to support the mission of both “Crave It” and FamFinFun.  We are all about promoting a healthy lifestyle and showing others how easy it can be with the right support and convenient, healthy food options.

*Update 02/01/16:  New for February 2016!  Get the “Crave It” breakfast bundle for only $31.95!!

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If you would like to support our mission and give your body what it needs, without sacrificing flavor, please browse our catalog below and order online here.  You can also enter to win a free packet of Smoothz protein powder here or have an online party.  Want to get 50% off your first order, make money, and help others make healthy choices?   Join me!

Join Our Growing Family Stand Up for REAL FOOD Banner

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Thank you for being a part of our mission to promote a healthy lifestyle!

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The Stigma of Direct Marketing

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After having my first child in 2005, I became a stay-at-home Mom.  For the first few months, I was busy with my little girl.  But, after falling into a rather predictable schedule, I became antsy and started looking for a hobby.  That’s when I found candle making.  It was therapeutic and I was actually really good at it.  After perfecting them, I decided to try and sell them.  I even went so far as to rent out a booth at a craft fair to try and sell them.  And, even though I didn’t sell very many the first time around, I was instantly hooked on running a business.

About a year later, I had to accept the fact that candle making and toddlers do not mix.  My little girl was becoming more of a handful and I had less and less time to actually make the candles.  When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I needed to either give up the candle business or find another way to keep it going.

I never thought of joining a direct marketing company.  That is, until that moment I realized it was the perfect alternative to giving up my business.  I had heard all of the usual stigmas surrounding direct marketing/direct sales/multi level marketing companies.  Most of them stemmed from people that had a bad experience with pushy distributors/consultants that only cared about making money.  But, when I went searching for a company I could trust, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  I found women, and men, that actually used the product or service they were selling.  I found passionate people that loved the social part of their business just as much as the product they represented.  I found quality products with great reviews and a fan base.  I found a family!

I finally settled on a candle company I could believe in and hit the ground running.  I did shows, fundraisers, and connected with people online.  I bought candles for myself and my family and friends.  They were great candles and I wanted to share them!  I built a team of my own and trained them to just let the product speak for itself.  And it did!  I was doing well, and my team was doing well.  But, as time went on and family life consumed more of my time, the business took a back seat.  I no longer had the time or energy to put into my business and it slowly started to close shop.  I stopped ordering candles for customers and handed over all of my inventory and leads to one of my team members.

Although my team continued to build their own businesses, after a while I stopped getting candles for myself.  I had lost my passion for the product.  I stepped down as team leader and decided to focus on just being a wife and a mother for a while.

Yes, it’s true that many distributors and consultants for direct marketing companies will quit.  But, I’d like to look at it more like moving on instead of quitting.  I learned a lot during my time as a candle business owner.  I learned how to connect with people, generate leads, build a basic website, and how to run a successful fundraiser (I even ran a successful fundraiser in New York from my home in Wisconsin!)  I learned about marketing and social networking.  But, most importantly, I learned how great it felt to build something that was mine.  I learned that hard work can get you places you’ve never been before.  I learned that direct sales companies are a great way to empower people to share their passion, make friends, and become financially independent if they play their cards right.

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Starting a Web Design and Development Business From Home

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We started our own business!

But, before I start talking about that, I wanted to bring you up to speed on the past couple months.

So, a lot has happened since I last posted.  In February, we found out that we will have our fifth child in October!  This news was a bit unexpected, yet we weren’t really surprised (if that makes sense).  Our world is about to change… again.  With four children already, all under the age of 8, our desire to home school has been replaced by our desire to keep our sanity.  So, we enrolled our oldest in the local public elementary school and our second-oldest will be in Kindergarten next year at the same school.  We hope to return to homeschooling when our youngest is 3 yrs old.  I will probably talk more about this in a future post.

How We Started a Web Design and Development Business From Home

Today, I would like to talk about how we started a Web Design and Development Business from our home.  My husband has been a web designer and developer for about 3 years now after taking just a few classes at the local technical college.  He has an eye for design (see his work at www.MashupMedia.net), a passion for front-end web development, and he has always wanted to start his own business.  Since I’ve already tested the waters with my own candle business a few years ago, I knew that we would make a great team.  Although I didn’t have the time anymore for my candle business, I knew I could handle most of the clerical side of the web design and development business while taking care of the kids.

Stuff to Consider

Before Jesse gave his two weeks notice to the company he was working for at the time, we had to first consider a few things.

Top 5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Home Business

  1. Where would he work?  We would have to get an office set up at home to start things off.  Once the business was making a profit, we would consider other options.*Update:  As of June 20th, he has officially moved into a great office space only a minute away from our home!
  2. How much do we need to invest of our own money?  Office supplies, accounting services, legal services, marketing, insurance, etc.*Update:  We have only invested about $600 from the beginning and have already paid ourselves back!
  3. What connections and resources can we tap into in order to secure an income for the first 6 months?  We have a family to support and can’t afford to lose money in the first year like most businesses.*Update:  Jesse was able to negotiate a contract with the first company he worked for.  The contract states that Jesse will be doing contract work on a regular basis for this company and in return would get paid bi-weekly.  This has given us the security we need.
  4. What will our business entity be?  Will we be a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or something else?*Update:  We started out as a single member LLC and have converted to an S-Corp since hiring our first part-time employee.
  5. Where should we set up our business accounts?  Keeping business transactions separate from personal ones is very important, so we had to set up a business checking and savings account.  We also shopped for a business credit card with a 0% intro rate and cash back on business purchases.*Update:  We’re still working on this, since we couldn’t open the account under the business tax ID number (the business has no credit yet!)  So, although we were able to open business accounts, we were unable to separate them completely.  Now that we are an S-corp and have been in business for almost three months, we should be able to switch the accounts over to the business tax ID  number.

We started the business April 1st and have been going strong since then.  A few small things we’ve done have brought us new clients and even more security for the future.

5 Easy Ways to Get Clients for Your Small Business

  1. Tell Your Friends and Family!  Get some nice looking business cards and hand them out to friends and family just to let them know you’ve started your own business.  You can spread the word on Facebook and Twitter too!
  2. Post an Ad on Craigslist.  You may need to experiment with wording and title choice when posting.  Delete your old post and make a new one every week or every month at the very least.
  3. Join a social networking group.  If you don’t have the time to get out and join a physical business networking group, at least join LinkedIn and start building a network that way.
  4. Make sure your own website is looking good and has a contact form for prospects to contact you.
  5. Make your current clients happy!!!!  Always, always, always, make sure your clients walk away happy with your work.  This will help with getting clients by word of mouth.

Well, I guess that’s it for now.  I’ve been working on this post for weeks now and should probably go ahead and publish it.  Hope y’all enjoyed it!

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Public School or Home School?

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Abigail and Eliza
2nd Gr and K-4

We’ve had a lot going on these past couple weeks.  It all started when my husband and I finally went on a long overdue date, thanks to our wonderfully gracious Mothers who offered to watch the kids for a few hours.  We were able to talk through many things that have been looming over our heads during the summer months.  One topic in particular was the topic of this year’s homeschooling curriculum.  I had been asking him for weeks to help me get things set in stone for our 7 year old to start 3rd Grade Math and 2nd Grade Reading, Writing, Science, and so on.  We had gone through most of her 2nd Grade workbooks last year, but we were interrupted by my husband’s new job and our newborn baby boy, Timmy.

My husband had been able to help with homeschooling up until March of this year when he started his job as a web developer for a new company and was no longer able to work from home twice a week.  I had especially been needing help since our baby boy, Timmy, was born in December of last year.  Plus, I’m not always on top of things when he’s not there cheering us on.  So, needless to say, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  Our heads just weren’t in the game like they should be.

Our conversation began over a couple of mocha shakes around 7pm.  We knew it was going to be a long night, so coffee sounded like a good choice at the time.  We began talking about what our schedules were going to look like for the Fall Season.  My husband talked about his desire to improve his health and activity level and I expressed the same desire.  We talked about the time we would need to focus on that and added that into the schedule.  Then, we began discussing our spiritual health.  We both would be signing up for our separate small groups in addition to our Sunday morning meetings with another couple at our church.  These things were all added to the schedule. Add in the date nights and grocery shopping trips every week and we had a full schedule to say the least.  Plus, my husband decided then and there that he would be signing up for a History course at our area technical college!  Well, that would mean that he would be maxed out for time.

After taking a few good sips of our mocha shakes, we came to the topic of education for our children.  Since being married, we had always thought that homeschooling would be a great adventure and superior to any public school education.

Some things we thought homeschooling would offer:

  • Flexibility with schedule and curriculum
  • A closer relationship with our children
  • A faith-based alternative to public school curriculum
  • The ability to advance our children as we see fit
  • Giving our children one-on-one teaching
  • Allowing our children to take part in daily activities and chores
  • A superior education and learning experience

What we’ve now discovered that homeschooling offers (in addition to those listed above):

  • An often stressful environment for parents with many small children
  • Distractions are everywhere!
  • Organization is a MUST!
  • Learning can take place at any time, not just during the day
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Having Mom in your face every day doesn’t.
  • “… with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  Having more than one teacher is a good thing!
  • A superior education and learning experience may be hindered at home

After discussing our findings from the previous homeschooling year, we trudged on to our options for the upcoming school year.  It was already mid-August!  What could be done?  We reflected on our public school experience and the statistics for the schools in our area.  We knew that our children would be in good hands if we were to enroll them in the public elementary school close to our home.  Our county schools are known for educational excellence.  If we were living in the city, we would not even have considered enrolling them in a public school.  But, we love the county we live in and know many of the people in it.

Our conclusion?  Add “start 2nd grade at the local elementary school” on to the schedule for our 7 yr old and call it a night!

The weeks following our date night were busy to say the least.  My days have been filled with paper work, e-mails, and phone calls to the school.  I was able to get my 7 yr old, Abigail, enrolled in 2nd grade and couldn’t be happier about our decision.  Everyone at the school has been very helpful and Abigail is super duper excited to start school next week!  I will still be homeschooling my soon-to-be 5 yr old (on Sept. 7th) since I couldn’t get her enrolled in Kindergarten for this year.  She is sad, but I know she will work extra hard this year to prepare for Kindergarten next year.  She may even be able to skip right to 1st grade!  Not sure she’ll want to, though.

We’re all excited for Fall and look forward to a year filled with learning and growing!

 

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10 Best Apps for Homeschooling: Early Education (Pre-K, K5, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade)

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The iPad and iPod have been instrumental in educating our young daughters. They use the iPad almost every day to learn and play. Our oldest daughter, who is 7 now, has been using the iPad and iPod for homeschooling since she was 3. Our youngest daughter, now 4 yrs old, also uses the iPad and iPod for homeschooling. I’ve found that my oldest daughter has excelled through this type of interactive learning. She has a very “hands on” personality and enjoys learning more when she can interact with it. On the other hand, my youngest daughter has been doing well with, and enjoying, her workbooks. But, she has also come to love the educational apps we have gotten for her on the iPad and iPod. Every day there are new, fun children’s educational apps introduced for the iPad and the iPod/iPhone.

We believe that the use of tablets, such as the iPad, in schools and for education will increase exponentially as our children get older. We would be doing them a disservice if we did not teach them the latest technology. The iPad and the iPod have ushered in a new form of homeschooling. It’s a form of homeschooling that is more efficient and more fun! As a parent, I’m always looking for the best ways to educate my children. With the iPad, I feel confident I’ve found the best tool for teaching my children at home.

 

Eliza with the iPad

My 4 yr old with the iPad

10 Quality Educational Apps We Use for Home Schooling and for Fun

  1. TeachMe: Toddler, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade
    These educational apps are by far my favorite homeschooling apps for the iPad and iPod!  They’re only $0.99 each and my children love them!  They are fun, educational, and super easy to navigate.  You can also change settings and add/delete users quickly.  I love that I can just hand the iPad or iPod to my girls and they can navigate through each app easily with little to no help from me.  I can not say enough good things about these apps.  They are wonderful!
  2. PBS Kids Video
    This is the best free app for early educational videos on the iPad and the iPod.  I love that my 2 and 4 yr old can watch Curious George, Sesame Street/Elmo, and Cat in the Hat for free without being subjected to advertisements.  We also have Netflix, but I would rather have them watching only educational videos.  PBS Kids Video is easy to navigate and I feel comfortable letting them use the app unsupervised.  My 7 yr old also likes this app.  She watches Arthur, Word Girl, and some of the other educational shows on PBS Kids Video for iPad and iPod.
  3. BrainPop Jr and BrainPop
    The BrainPop Jr and BrainPop Featured Movie are free educational video apps that add just a little extra knowledge to our weekly routine.  These apps offer 1 free video and quiz each week, but you can upgrade at any time in order to view more videos and take the quizzes that go with them.  (WARNING:  The videos available through this app may teach the theory of evolution and may need to be monitored by young earth creationist parents and others apposed to the theory of evolution.)
  4. Kids Reading Comprehension: Level 1 and Level 2
    These reading comprehension apps are a great choice for any child that is ready to read on their own.  My 7 yr old has gone through Level 1 and is now going through Level 2.  I love these apps because they aren’t only teaching reading comprehension.  Each Level is filled with short, educational reads that contain photos and illustrations.
  5. Monkey Preschool Apps
    Monkey Preschool Lunchbox and Monkey Math School Sunshine are great apps for 3 and 4 yr olds.  My 4 yr old daughter has lots of fun just playing with them.  The fact that they are educational is just a bonus.  The 99 cent price tag is great too!
  6. ABC Pocket Phonics
    When it comes to learning how to read and write, this app is a great option.  It is great for that extra practice time that is often needed, but not always wanted by you know who.  My girls never had a problem sitting down with this app and using the “magic pen” with the iPad.  It’s a great addition to our Reading/Writing time and a welcome tool for homeschooling.  The full version of this app is $2.99 and well worth it.  A great find!
  7. Stack the States and Stack the Countries
    If you’re looking to get your youngster started on geography, then these are a great way to get them excited about it.  These geography apps for kids are colorful, cute, and fun.  Stack the States is only $0.99 and you can get Stack the Countries for just a dollar more.
  8. Telling Time
    A wonderfully customizable teaching tool for learning how to tell time.  I can start my youngest homeschooler out with the simple hourly and half past analog recognition.  After those are mastered, I’ll just switch on the quarter past analog recognition and move forward from there.  A very clean and comfortable app.  Love it!  $0.99 for an app you can grow with.  The developer has many other apps I would like to try soon.  If you’d like to check them out, the website is www.grasshopperapps.com.
  9. MindSnacks: Learn French, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and English
    After going through a French immersion week, my 7 yr old was delighted with these free language apps.  Although the first level is the only free part, it’s enough for a beginner to start off with.  We may choose to upgrade once she has the counting down.
  10. Nth Fusion Apps
    The app that my daughter is using right now is the Geometry 4 Kids app.  It teaches geometry basics in a clear and easily understandable manor.  I’m excited to try out all of the other early education apps by this developer.  I will definitely be getting the Book Report app and the Body Organs app.

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Coincidence? I Think God!

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In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:6

Throughout our lives, we have seen God work in miraculous ways.  Some may say that they are coincidences or that we’re just lucky.  But, we know exactly Who is molding and shaping us as individuals, as a couple, and now as a family.  Our lives are a work of art.  They are expressions of God’s love and desire for us to be crafted into His image.  We’re not the type of Christian’s that go around telling people (or, even believe) that God will make your life perfect if you just follow Him.  In fact, we know from God’s Word that we will endure many sorrows and heartache in our lives.  But, as we’ve trusted Christ in all we do, there is an overwhelming sense of peace that follows.  When we’re sick, we are at peace.  When we’re poor, we are at peace.  When we are grieving a loss, we are at peace.  And, when my husband lost his job a few months ago, we were at peace.

I admit, there are times when I do not trust God.  Those are the dark times.  And, boy do I know it!  I can remember exact moments in my life when I was not trusting God.  I can tell you right now that those are the most depressing memories I have as a young adult.  I still go through times like that.  But, they are usually brief, because I know the cure!

 

God Moment #1: How We Met

The moments in our lives that are really God moments are truly amazing to us.  My first “God Moment” came when we were in high school.  I really really really wanted to be a part of the dance team at our school.  They were one of the best in the state, and I loved to dance.  I remember trying out for the team my freshman year and being devastated that I did not make it.  So, instead, I decided to try out for the school musical and the tennis team.  To my surprise, I was able to be a part of both!  This was a “God Moment” for me, because I didn’t have a very good singing voice and I wasn’t very good at tennis either.  I didn’t understand how I could be left out of something I was truly good at, but be welcomed with open arms into these two groups that I didn’t really fit into.  Later, I would meet my husband, Jesse, during rehearsal for the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.”  If I hadn’t been rejected from the dance team and accepted into the musical, I probably never would have really gotten to know Jesse.

 

God Moment #2: Location, Location, Location

6 months after we were married, Jesse and I moved to Nashville, TN, from our home in Wisconsin.  While working for a flooring company, Jesse pursued music in the evenings and on weekends.  6 months after that, we had our first child.  We had moved there to see if other Christian musicians with a passion for the Lord and for contemporary Christian music would surface to form a group with Jesse.  But, something happened after Abigail was born.  We started to experience a string of “bad luck.”  I can look back now and honestly say that the Lord was working during this “bad luck” streak.  Jesse had just found, what we thought was a job as a guitar teacher.  It turns out, it was more like a scam.  The music school “hired” him to teach children guitar in their homes.  What they failed to mention was that they only had a couple of children ready to start lessons.  It ended up being more of a business start-up where the teachers would only be paid hourly.  We found this out AFTER Jesse had quit his job at the flooring company.  It was all down hill from there.  As we prayed for guidance, the Lord slowly answered in unexpected ways.  Jesse couldn’t go back to work for the flooring company and he was having a hard time finding work, so he had to leave Abigail and me for a short time to go back to Wisconsin and work for his father.  We also ended up having to pay for a fender bender.  So, all of this set us back quite a bit.  We started to feel claustrophobic, as if our dreams were about to come crashing down on us.  Then, we started to reach out to family and friends back home.  This was the “God Moment” for me.  Jesse began talking to a few guys back home that expressed an interest in starting a band.  My family offered to take us in until we got back on our feet.  Jesse’s Dad offered him a job working in the family business.  And so, we found ourselves preparing to move back home.  God was calling us home and we just couldn’t ignore His calling.

 

God Moment #3: What Makes a House a Home?

After moving back to Wisconsin, we quickly began searching for a place to live.  We had a little motivation since we ended up having to move in with my parents, grandmother, and sister upon our swift return home.  When moving back from Nashville, we had just enough money to buy gas for the trip home.  So, we needed to find a temporary place to live until we got back on our feet.  My parents were gracious enough to welcome us into their already crowded home.  Needless to say, things weren’t easy, especially since we had our six month old baby girl with us.  It was a house to live in, but it was not our home.  We prayed for the Lord to provide an alternative to our chaotic living situation at that time.  Then, Jesse’s parents told us the news that their tenants living above them in their duplex where going to be moving out.  So, as soon as they moved out, we got to work getting the place ready for us to move in.  It was an answer to prayer!  We ended up living there for two years until we could afford to buy our own house.  Then, it happened!  God Moment #3 showed it’s face at just the right time.  Timing was EVERYTHING when it came to how we acquired our first house.  First, we had just paid off our credit card, so we had a $0 balance on that.  So, what does the credit card company do?  They send us an offer for a NO FEE, 1.99% balance transfer offer for the LIFE OF THE BALANCE.  This was truly a God send.  We still had about $12000 left to pay on our car loan with a minimum payment of $350/month.  With that high of a payment, we could not afford to buy a house.  But, after transferring the balance to the credit card, which lowered the interest rate and payment, we could now qualify for a $120,000 mortgage.  But, where would we find a house at that price in Ozaukee County where the going rate was $250,000?  Within weeks of transferring our car loan balance, I got a rather unexpected phone call.  My sister called to say that the elderly woman living next door to her had just been moved to a nursing home and her son would be putting the house up for sale.  She told me about an estate sale he would be having that weekend.  I knew what my sister and brother-in-law had paid for their house, so I thought there was no way we could afford to buy one right next door to them.  But, we decided to go to the estate sale anyway and talk to the owner’s son.  We walked around the house and realized that we may be able to get a good deal on the place.  It hadn’t been updated in years!  So, we asked him how much he was looking to get.  Without going through a real estate agent, we were able to get the house for $115,000!  Praise the Lord!  And, on top of that, we were GIVEN a down payment from a family member.  We would finally have the house we’d been wanting since moving back to Wisconsin.  Now, if we could just get these updates finished, it may finally look like a home.

 

God Moment #4: Get a Job or Start a Business?

 

We started off February of this year with high hopes.  Jesse was expected to get a raise after his two year mark as a web designer/developer.  Unfortunately, he not only didn’t get a raise, he was let go because of budget cuts.  On the plus side, the company gave him about three weeks to find a new job.  Time to start praying hard for some direction, we thought.  Then, Jesse came to me with an idea. “Why don’t I start my own business?” he asked.  Jesse had developed some business contacts and was confident he could keep the work rolling in.  So, we began to ask the Lord if that was the right thing to do.  After really really praying about it, we still didn’t feel ready to make a decision.  We didn’t know exactly what was holding us back.  We just didn’t feel the Lord leading us to commit to starting a business.  Until we were certain of what the Lord wanted for us, Jesse continued updating his resume and portfolio (http://www.jesseleedesign.com.)  He applied for a couple of jobs and waited for a response.  Then, it happened!  God Moment #4 came in the form of an unexpected conversation on Facebook.  Jesse had just been called in for an interview and he was up late the night before doing some social networking.  One of his friends from college, that he rarely talks to, suddenly popped up to ask him a question.  “Do you know what [this] is?” he asked.  He was referring to some sort of software that I’m not familiar with.  Jesse responded, “No, what is it?”  At that point, his friend continued to explain what it was.  Jesse suddenly remembered from his friend’s description that he had come across that software before and indeed was knowledgable of it.  He just couldn’t remember what it was called until just then.  That was the end of the conversation.  Jesse went to bed that night asking the Lord to be with him during his interview the next day.  During the interview, he was only asked 4 questions.  One of them just happened to be about the very same software Jesse had discussed with his friend the night before.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?  Just think, if he hadn’t had that conversation, he may have sounded like an idiot to the guy interviewing him.  For all we know, that was the question that put him at the top of their list.  He was offered the job within 20 minutes of walking out the door!  After that, we were certain of what direction the Lord was leading us in.  Praise the Lord!

 

Unfortunate Circumstances

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I did not want to be rejected from the dance team.  I did not want to go broke and move back in with my parents.  I did not want to wait to have our own house.  And, I certainly did not want my husband to lose his job.  Those were all unfortunate circumstances that lead to amazing moments that I would like to call “God Moments.”  They are moments that remind you Who is in control.  They are moments that remind you not to be anxious about anything.  They are moments that remind you to give thanks in all circumstances, even the unfortunate ones.  You may just come to realize that they’re not so unfortunate after all.

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Debt Reduction Progress

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We paid off a credit card!!!!!!

The month of March was full of uncertainty.  My husband had just found out that he would be unemployed as of April 1st if he didn’t find a job by then.  So, we were hesitant to take our tax return and apply it to our debt reduction efforts.  We kept the $8000 in a savings account until he was hired by one of the premier marketing companies in Milwaukee.

Once he started his new job, we felt it was a good time to pay off one of the credit cards.  So, we’re excited to announce that we’ve paid off about $5000 more of our debt!!  Plus, we now have an emergency fund of $1500 and another $1500 set aside to do some landscaping this spring.  And, last but not least, our income has increased!!!!  So, we are now planning on applying at least $700 a month toward what is left of our credit card debt.  We should be “debt free” (not including our mortgage) by the end of the year!!!

We have two cards left to pay off.  One is still at a 0% APR until the end of August, so we will pay that one off first.  And, the other one is a fixed 1.99% for the life of the balance.  I will have mixed feelings about paying that 1.99%APR credit card off.  Once we pay off that balance, there will no longer be a 1.99%APR.  That credit card offer was a Godsend!  It came at the perfect time too.  I remember when we were considering buying a house and we couldn’t afford it because of our car payment.  Then, we got a balance transfer offer in the mail from our bank credit card.  The balance on our bank credit card was $0 at the time, so I could tell that they were trying to hold on to us as a customer/consumer.  They offered us 1.99%APR for the life of the balance with a transfer fee of 3%, which would end up making our transferred balance nearly $12,000!  Although our balance increased by about $300, the APR decreased along with our monthly minimum payment.  Our monthly payment decreased so much, actually, that we were able to qualify for a mortgage.  About a month later, my sister called to say that the house next door to her would be up for sale soon.  It was all perfect timing, so we made an offer on the house before it even went on the market.  The seller was eager to close and we got the house at a steal of a price.  So, even when the housing market crashed, we still came out of it with equity.

Through all of our financial ups and downs, I can see the Lord’s grace and guidance that has lead us to this point.  Praise the Lord!  Living debt free is just around the corner!

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