Shortly after Bryan officially got accepted into the University of Iowa we received more Financial Aid information from the University. We filled out and sent in what they needed right away.

It only took a few days for them to get back to us with their offer of financial aid. We, of course, qualified for a million dollars of student loans and such, but that’s not really the exciting part…

Estimated cost of Tuition and Fees for the 2010-2011 School year:

UI Transfer Scholarship:


ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!??! Yep, God did that. I couldn’t believe it myself so I told Bryan to call the Office of Student Financial Aid to make sure it was actually free money that we just got for being awesome. They verified that it would just be credited to out U-Bill and we were all set!

Is it just me, or does God want us in Iowa City or what?!?!?

To Him be the glory! Can’t wait to see how he uses us!

Ten Twelfs! Five Sixths!


I do not have any fun pictures of us this month (not that I usually do or anything, just that I had a picture last month and maybe you have expectations or something…but what am I saying?! I haven’t blogged in over A MONTH and I’m so ashamed that I’m even backdating all of the these posts so that I can appear to have it all together and be organized…anyway, just so you know it’s actually 4/14/10 and I’m admitting that I’m NOT perfect at this whole blogging thing!)

So, anyway, as I was saying, I do not have any fun pictures to go along with this marriage update. Would you like to know why my dear friends? Because Bryan and I actually only saw each other 15 out of the last 28 days. For real! It was a long month, and it was mostly Bryan’s fault. : )

He was, in fact, extremely busy with, you guessed it, the Anthem Band. February 26th & 27th he went up to Minnesota to lay down a few tracks in order to test out a recording company for their upcoming CD. From what I heard, it went well! I personally can’t wait to hear the new CD-some of the new songs are amazing! (I had my own fun this weekend, too!)

The next weekend, March 5th, 6th and 7th, was the Salt Company retreat. Although I don’t know from personal experience, it was amazing. Paul Sabino spoke powerfully, God moved in the students and in innocent bystanders. Matt the Security guard is pretty much famous among Salt Company students now. He got pulled in by the Spirit and many students were right their to pray for him and invite him into their lives. To God be the glory!

Then Bryan played at yet another retreat on March 12th and 13th, stopped home for a moment and loaded up on a bus to Tyler, Texas to serve Pine Cove camp for a week until Friday, March 19th.

Whew. I’m exhausted just recounting it! I’m so so so so glad to have Bryan back and have things back to *normal.*

Speaking of normal, nothing has been lately.

Marriage confession: when Bryan is gone, I have NO motivation to take care of my home or myself. It’s pretty sad, I guess. Or freaking adorable because I love my super fine husband so much and I’m just not the same without him. Whichever way you want to look at it.

I got SO out of whack due to the THIRTEEN days Bryan was gone. I’m still trying to catch up!

We decided to make month eleven a month where we actually get to see each other. And maybe we’ll get some pictures, too!

In other news, we started our Iowa City connection group at the beginning of March and it has been SUCH a blessing! We’re so falling in love with all of the members of our new church family. Can’t wait until IC!

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People


I’m really glad I read this book, well, half of it. Yep, I only read half of it. But STILL, it was a good read. I read through the first 3 habits and though I could have kept going, I made the call to stop and actually work these habits into my life. I’ll probably read the next four habits next year sometime.

Though it’s not a “christian” book, I gotta say, I was convicted. Covey challenged the reader to think about their future, even pressing them to write out their eulogy. He posed the question, “What would you have others say about you when you die?” Pretty serious stuff. It caused me to think about my life and all the things that I have lived for. I want to die living my whole life for God, but I don’t think people would say that about me now.

More importantly, I thought about what God would say about my life. I know He loves me as His daughter, but is my life really living up to that of a daughter of God?

So I’m slowly working on my personal mission statement for my life, another recommendation from the book. Hopefully, I’ll be able to blog about it soon, when I get time to quiet my mind and life.

Minneapolis, Minnesota!


Well, I was going to go on a ski trip in Wisconsin with my mom, 3 of my brothers, my sister, and my brother’s girlfriend. But due to all the snow melting completely away, that didn’t work out so well. But, were we, the DUVICK’s going to bail on perfectly good time off? Hecks no!

So we went north and landed in Minneapolis, MN for a long weekend, Sunday through Tuesday. It was amazing fun! Valerie (the aforementioned and awesome girlfriend of my brother Mark, and also the good-lookin’ gal next to me in the picture) even grabbed my camera for most of the weekend so you all have some pictures to enjoy because you know I’m SO bad at taking pictures! Just click on the picture above!

While I was in Minnesota, Bryan was in Tyler, TX for the entire week of Spring Break. Yeah, he’s awesome. He also had plans of his own to take a sweet “Man Trip” with a few of his good buddies. He had work off and and everything but his plans fell through. So guess what he did? He decided to spend his entire week off serving Pine Cove camp! He went with around 50 other students from The Salt Company cleaning and blessing the camp. He got some MAJOR male bonding time with an awesome Michael Lecy and Nathan Kaloupek and enjoyed 70 degree weather and a view of a gorgeous lake.

We missed each other like crazy but we made it through a lot of time away from each other. More on than in the next blog! : )

The Screwtape Letters


While I was planning on reading Lies Women Believe after I finished Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, I took a detour from my reading plan for this month. I still want to read Lies Women Believe-does anyone have a copy I could borrow? But as it was checked out at the Library, I decided to pick up another book off of our bookshelf. It’s a little funny, because my unplanned replacement for Lies Women Believe was pretty much a book about lies people believe.

The book is made up of a series of one-way letters written by “Uncle” Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. Wormwood is a “Tempter in Training” so to speak. He is assigned to a human who becomes a Christian early on in the book.
C.S. Lewis interprets the “other side” of the Spiritual Realm and reveals what I think to be a probable account of the way the Devil schemes against us, trying to “infiltrate our ranks” in any way possible.
There were many things that stuck out to me this book, and unfortunately I didn’t do such a great job at marking my favorite passages and learning points. C.S. Lewis’s after-word to his book is a must-read though.
And I do have one favorite quote for you:

And the truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth.” (pg. 155)
Let me know if you want to borrow this book!

Grocery Shopping: My History


Photo by KitAy

As you may have already gathered, I’m not a shopper. It’s exhausting! I can’t always decide what exhausts me in particular, certainly the walking around gets tiring after a while, but I don’t think that’s it.

I think it’s because when I’m financially exhausted (as in, no more money in my wallet!), it strikes a cord with me physically and emotionally, as I am more inclined to be a saver.

I feel this way about all shopping, including grocery shopping. I’ve seriously tried something new almost every month with our grocery shopping to try to make it more manageable for me. I think it might be helpful (and hopefully encouraging!) to give you a little history of my “adventures.”

When we got married last May, we had already figured out a budget and we had some goals. I had asked a friend of mine what she and her husband budgeted for groceries and started with that. As it turned out, that was just about the perfect amount for us. I was following Money Saving Mom (still am!), and trying my hand at couponing and creating a stockpile.

I would cut out coupons every week, organize them in envelopes according to their nature, menu plan every week, and grocery shop every week. I would go to 4-6 different stores to get the best deals.

I enjoyed it through the summer, but as soon as life became “normal” again, I found myself spending so much time on my groceries and neglecting everything else (from people to cleanliness). I did not enjoy weekends so much, because I had to do all the grocery stuff on the weekend.

I was reading one day on Simple Mom, and Tsh explained that she menu planned once a month. That sounded heavenly. She made it even easier for herself by only menu planning for two weeks and repeating the two weeks to finish out the month. Um, yes please! She saved money by using simple, inexpensive meals that her family liked. Maybe she wasn’t maximizing every single sale, but she was saving incredible amounts of time. And, working 40 hours a week away from my home management tasks, I was in desperate need of just that.

So I menu-planned simple meals for the entire month and went shopping for everything that wouldn’t spoil. I used a few coupons if I could, and I still went to 3-5 different stores to get the best deals on everything. It was AWESOME!

I did run into a little problem with it though. It was actually too planned for me. Weird, I know. I would get home from work every day and feel like switching things up. While I thrive on organization and a plan for 95% of my life, I think I’m more of a spontaneous cook.

While I veered from the plan, the once a month thing was actually kind-of perfect for my sudden spontaneity. I had a basic plan, lots of groceries to choose from and could get creative if I wanted.

That brings us to this month of March, where I have again changed my mind-who knew I didn’t have it all together?!

I’ll go more in depth next week, but here are my basic grocery shopping to-do’s:
  • Menu Plan (dinners only) for the entire month using my list of go-to meals that we like and can afford
  • Shop when I need to
  • Buy only what is on sale at Fareway, veer from the menu plan if there are great sales
  • Use coupons for things I need and to keep my stockpile going
  • Buy everything else at ALDI, where everything is always “on sale” : )
  • Have a Prep Day

Next week, I’ll have specifics for the things I mentioned today and tips for saving money! In the meantime, Money Saving Mom is doing a pretty great series on lowering your grocery budget. Just click on the picture below!

rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity


As someone who was looking for a helpful read about how we, as 21st century Christians should regard the Sabbath command, I would most definitely recommend this book. The book as a whole is really written toward women, but there was a lot of straight-forward text that could relate to anyone.

I liked this book because it answered several questions/thoughts I had about the Sabbath; One being the seventh-day vs. first-day Sabbath issue. Kent historically referenced how days and weeks have changed over time (pg. 82).

It also inspired me not only to begin practicing Sabbath but also to practice many of the historical and biblical Jewish celebrations such as Advent and Lent. (pg. 150)

I did feel the author had a sometimes harsh view of the Church’s need for servants during the weekend services or the Sabbath but later noted that she herself was serving in the Nursery at her church.

I’m still going back and forth myself on my view of serving the Church on the Sabbath. While I do think that I needn’t fill up my entire day with Church-related activities (as I wouldn’t exactly consider those things restful) I know I need to serve my Church, whether I really want to or not…hmmm…still wrestling! : )

Here are some golden nuggets:

“’We are every day becoming aware of the costs of a life without rest. Increasingly, social workers, courts, and probation officers are raising our children, rescuing them from the unintentional wasteland of our hyperactivity.’”
–Wayne Miller (pg. 27)

“Sabbath invites us to stop and to rest. To leave the ‘unintentional wasteland of our hyperactivity,’ if only a while. To be content, even if things are not exactly as we’d hoped they’d be. There is power is stopping…” (pg. 28)

“Just as you would prepare to have guest in your home by doing errands and chores before they arrive, you have to do some work ahead of time to simply enjoy God in Sabbath.” (pg. 52)

“In our culture, we tend to be too hurried, too busy, because we are deeply committed to a belief in our own importance…But the children of Israel may have had the opposite problem. They didn’t know how valued they were. They didn’t think they were allowed the luxury of a day off, because for years in captivity, they had not been allowed that.” (pg. 59)

“But just because we are no longer bound by the law doesn’t mean Jewish practices or other historic interpretations of Sabbath are inherently wrong. The practices of God’s people expressed, or at least were meant to express, the people’s love for God through their obedience to God.”
(pg. 78)

“‘The rest of God—the rest God gladly gives so that we might discover that part of God we’re missing—is not a reward for finishing. It’s not a bonus for work well done. It’s sheer gift. It is a stop-work order in the midst of work that’s never complete, never polished. Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than that God told us we could.’”

–Mark Buchanan (pg. 80)

“God loves you the same when you work hard and when you do nothing. But if you never do nothing, if you’re always doing something, how will you really know, experientially, that God loves you when you’re not working and when you’re not busy?”
(pg. 149)

“This is what prayer is—enjoying the attention of God. God watches and listens—what an amazing privilege…But also, prayer is giving our attention to God. It is a conversation of mutuality, of paying attention to God and reveling in the attention God gives to us.” (pg. 182)

“[Prayer is] noticing where God is at work and then–and this is a critical part—joining in that work through service, through giving, through loving.” (pg. 182)

“Sabbath prayer is a prayer of presence, rather than intercession or supplication. Sabbath prayer brings us into simply resting in the presence of God.” (pg. 186)

“Therein lies the difference between Shabbat and mere leisure. Sabbath is not a day just to chill out and relax, although that may be part of it. It’s a day to cultivate gratitude, which should lead us to generosity.” (pg. 197)

If you are interested in learning how you can practically apply the Sabbath to your life, let me know if you want to borrow this book!

You can check out the author’s blog at Deep Breathing for the Soul

The Nuts & Bolts of our Budget: Part 2

Photo Credit: Shuttershock

[Note to my readers: I am sorry about being a little late on this weeks post! Hopefully you’ll forgive me and enjoy this post anyway. By the way, thanks for even being here and reading. I love writing and I’ve been so encouraged to receive comments and notes from all of you about all the stuff I’m writing! So THANKS!]

Part 2

If you feel at all overwhelmed by any of what I’ve written so far, or if you’re discouraged because your God-given disposition is not to be “boxed in” by a budget, or if you simply don’t know if you can keep a budget that you’ve perhaps already started…than I think you’re going to like this post!

Why? Because while there are some things every month that we have to pay for, there are a lot of things in our budget that are completely and totally…


So breathe a breath of fresh air!

Let’s just take a look at our sample budget from last week:

I’m going to cross off everything that’s not-so-flexible and we’ll take a look at all the line-items that don’t have to be “boxed in.”

Taxes: -$750.00
Tithe: -$350.00
Rent: -$700.00
Utilities: -$125.00
Car Repair: -$100.00*
Car Insurance: -$250.00
Fuel: -$200.00Phone: -$75.00
Groceries: -$200.00
Medical Expenses: -$50.00*
Clothing: -$100.00
Dates: -$50.00
Fluff: -$100.00
Christmas: -$50.00
Vacation: -$50.00
Goals: -$350.00

*As far as car repair and medical expenses go, I put these as non-negotiable items. Trust me, your car is going to break down (or you’ll need new tires, or windshield wipers, etc) and you are going to need to go the doctor. It’s gonna happen, so save now.

Now let’s simplify our list:

Groceries: -$200.00
Clothing: -$100.00
Dates: -$50.00
Fluff: -$100.00
Christmas: -$50.00
Vacation: -$50.00
Goals: -$350.00

All of the above is totally at your discretion and command!

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to discuss each of these so you can hear my advice on manipulating these categories. Here’s the line-up:

The Nuts & Bolts of our Budget: The Grocery Budget
The Nuts & Bolts of our Budget: Necessary AND Fun
The Nuts & Bolts of our Budget: Spending Money, short and long term

Until next week!

A little delay…


Sorry kids, I’ve had little time to write this week and I’m just not going to be able to write Friday’s post until tomorrow evening!

But Bryan wrote me a poem this week, so you can read the following for temporary entertainment:

How are you doing, I hope the answers great
I’ve been missing you from about the time I was 8
I once saw a crawdad and that it looked weird
Then I looked at you and my mind was cleared.
Now we’re together from now until the end
And I’m so happy I’ll always be with my best friend

He’s the best.

Finance fun tomorrow night!