Welcome, 2018!

What would you like to accomplish in 2018?

How did you do on your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember what they were? I only had one this year – to marry the man of my dreams – which I accomplished fifteen days into 2017. That’s not really how those things are supposed to work, though, right?

I don’t know your life story but New Year’s resolutions have never been a fit for me. They’re a little like dieting in that if you tell me I can’t do something, it’s more tempting to do it. And usually the things I’m  attempting to resolve to do are so unachievable, I set myself up for failure.

I’ve attempted in the past to schedule new Bible reading regimes or plan out a year of workouts at the gym and all the planning and preparation goes great! It’s the execution that fails every time.

This, inevitably, turns into feelings of guilt, failure, and disappointment and the things I was so excited to accomplish loom over my head in gloomy clouds of self-doubt. So, yeah, resolutions are not my thing.

BUT goals are!

When I start thinking of goals instead of resolutions, the pressure immediately comes off. Goals can be worked toward. Goals can be accomplished or they can be postponed. Goals can be met half way or you can have stretch goals – things you hope to achieve if you meet your other goals, but if you don’t, they’ll be on next year’s list. Goals, to me, are so much easier to wrap my head around. They are a way to reasonably target your time and energy as opposed to trying to check off an over-eager to-do list.

So this year, I’m thinking about the kind of person I want to be in 2018 and setting goals to help me focus my time and energy to becoming that person. Here are a few things I’ll be working towards becoming in the new year:

  1. A Scripture-Knower. I want to get back into memorizing scripture. Knowing what God says is not only how we get to know Him better but how we fight our sin. Working towards this goal will have me in the Bible and reflecting on God’s word all the time which is something I need more of daily.
  2. A Precious Wife. Now that Jake and I are nearly one year in, I feel like I have more of a handle on who he is and what my role as his wife looks like. I want to be the kind of Proverbs 31 woman that lifts him up, works hard, and shows humility and patience regardless of her circumstances.
  3. An Intentional Consumer. I want to be mindful of the things I put in my body as well as the things I put in my mind. 2017 was a big year for me as far as making healthier food choices on a regular basis and I hope to continue that trend in 2018. But even more, I want to be conscious of the other things I consume – TV, movies, books, social media – and their impact in my life. I don’t want to live my life through a screen and the first step in that is being mindful of what/how/when I’m consuming too much of the things I don’t want in my life.
  4. A More Available Friend. I’ll be honest, I have not done a great job being a friend in 2017 and I need to do better. It’s been very difficult to maintain individual friendships now that I’m married but I don’t want that to be an excuse for letting amazing people fall away from my life. I need the support and community of God-fearing women in my life regardless of my marital status and improving those relationships starts with me.
  5. A Gracious Host. Now that we have the space in our new house, I want to put it to good use. We’ll be renting out rooms on Airbnb during festival weekends here in Austin but more than that, I want our house to be a place of refuge for those that need it. I want our house to be a gathering point for friends and family, brothers and sisters – I want to love people with what God’s given us.

That’s the kind of person I hope to become in 2018. Obviously I know it’s not something that can happen over night, but I believe these goals are in line with what God wants for my life and I’ll be praying that He continues to provide opportunities to become more like Him in these areas.

This year, let’s challenge each other to keep these goals in mind as life inevitably starts distracting us. Let’s hold each other accountable to growing as humans together. Because I know I can’t do it alone.

Are you doing resolutions or goals for 2018? What kind of person would you like to see yourself become in the new year?

Budgeting for That Pretty White Dress

Paying for anything “wedding” is insane. Learn how I saved for my pretty white dress over ten years!

wedding-Ruesink-6783Oh, friends, it is officially winter wedding season! With that and my own wedding anniversary coming up, I’ve been reminiscing about our special day quite a bit lately and thought I’d share the story of how I paid for my wedding dress because it’s a great one.

When I was fourteen, I dated a guy whose parents threw their spare change into a box in their closet at the end of the day. Instead of exchanging the coins for cash, they would use it as a savings system for things they new they would need in the future. I took this idea and ran with it.

I took a large jar that my parents had laying around the house and cut a slot in the lid for coins. I created a label, glued it onto the jar, and put this impromptu piggy bank in my parents’ living room. Whenever my parents would entertain, their friends and family would see “Jackie’s Wedding Dress Fund” and add in their spare change or loose one dollar bills. My parents added as they could and I poured ever spare cent I had into the jar as often as I could. Occasionally, the very generous soul would slip in a $20 bill because they thought the idea was so clever.

At least once a year, my dad and I would total it up and deposit the coins and cash, leaving scraps of paper with the total amount we deposited as an IOU for the future, and watched as our spare change really started to add up!

By the time Jake proposed, I was 24 and had been collecting spare change and loose bills for ten years! As you can imagine, totaling up the jar was one of the first things I did when I went home after getting engaged. From 2006 to 2016, I collected over $1100 in my wedding dress fund and was able to afford the most perfect dress I could imagine for our wedding.

Not wanting to let this brilliant savings idea end, I created a new label for my jar and it has since become Jake and Jackie’s Adventure Jar and will hopefully have much more success than Carl and Ellie’s from Up.

I’m so appreciative to each and every person who contributed to my little jar. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to name each and every person who slipped in a quarter or two but I’m very grateful that they found the idea clever enough to generously donate. I can’t wait to pass on the jar if I ever have a daughter and I hope you’ve found inspiration for your own dreams savings plan!

Did you have an out-of-the-norm payment plan for your wedding? How did you pay for the dress of your dreams?

 

How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the Holidays

You don’t have to totally ditch your diet for the holidays. Here’s how I’ll be enjoying all my favorites this week while still eating responsibly!

How to Adult: Healthy Eating During the HolidaysI have been doing my absolute best to eat healthy over the past couple of months, a challenge made significantly harder by all the holiday goodness. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the year and Christmas has ALL the good desserts. It’s really stinking hard to make wise nutrition choices right now!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about staying mindful of your diet this week, here are some tips to help us both stay on track while still enjoying the Christmas spirit!

#1 – Control Your Portion Sizes

This is my every day go-to tip for my diet and it really does work! My favorite way of doing this is just by grabbing a smaller plate. Big plates make it super tempting to just fill ‘em up but if you have a smaller plate, there’s less room to fill. I also find using paper plates to be a helpful option, especially the cheaper ones, because you can feel the weight of your food a lot more dramatically. Yes, Christmas china is pretty but paper plates are disposable and can help you control your portion sizes…I think I know which one I’d go for.

#2 – Eat Only When You’re Hungry

This one is tricky for me because my body is not great at letting me know when I’m hungry. But one of the real dangers with holiday over-eating comes not so much in the meal itself but all the grazing that happens throughout the day. I know in my family we’ll have breakfast and then snack until the big meal is ready sometime in the afternoon and boy, do those snacks get ya! Reading your body’s natural signs of hunger and only eating when it tells you to is hard but so worth it.

#3 – Drink More Water

This is another one straight off my day-to-day diet but it’s so good, it just had to be included in this list. Water. We need it but there’s a lot of other delicious holiday drinks that like to get in our way of consuming more of it. Opting for water instead of eggnog will not only save you calories but also help out with tip #2. If you think you’re hungry, drink a glass of water. If you’re still hungry when you finish, you can eat. But a lot of the times, our bodies tell us we’re hungry when really we just need more water.

#4 – Eat You’re Veggies First

So much of what we like to eat during holidays is protein and carbs so eating your veggies first may not be your favorite idea but it will help make sure you get all those good vitamins and nutrients before you get too full to get around to them. This is probably a good practice to get into for day-to-day life too, but I just can’t bring myself to make it a normal practice just yet. I’ll hold on to my childish dislike of most veggies for a little longer, thank you very much.

#5 – Only Indulge in What You Love

It’s Christmas, go ahead and treat ‘yo self! But instead of filling an entire plate with every tasty treat on the counter, scout out only the things you’ll really cherish and enjoy those. Ask yourself “what are my three favorites?” or “What’s something I only get to treat myself to during the holidays?” to help narrow down your options.

#6 – Don’t Feel Guilty

It’s Christmas! It’s ok to indulge. Feeling guilty won’t delete calories that you’ve already eaten. Nor will it replace the benefits of a morning run. Basically, feeling guilty doesn’t get you anywhere. Be kind to yourself and remember that each day is a fresh start to take care of your body.

I hope these tips help you enjoy Christmas this week and enjoy yummy, delicious foods that make your heart smile. Eating healthy during the holidays is tough work so do your best and feel good about it. And remember that tomorrow is a new day with a fresh start.

PSA: Christmas Cards Are Still a Thing!

So, I screwed up a piece of our first married Christmas… everything’s fine.

There’s lots I’m still learning in my first year of marriage but one thing that recently came up was that people still send Christmas cards. Like, people my age are still adorable and traditional and get these really cute cards made and send them via snail-mail to their friends and family. Somehow, I (incorrectly) thought that Christmas cards had become digital and were more a thing of the past. Man, how wrong I’ve been these last few weeks!

Jake and I just keep receiving card after card from our beautiful friends and family and I’m over here like, “that’s so cute! I totally dropped the ball this year!” And while it may be too late to start gathering addresses for all our friends and family, I can still continue with my digital Christmas Card plan.

So here’s to all our adorable friends and family who will not be receiving a card this year. I will make it up to you guys next year but for now, please accept this digital Christmas card as a reminder that you are loved and it’s Christmas time again!

Christmas Card 2017

Ruesink Update – House Hacking

Jake and I are doing exciting things!…and no, tiny humans are not involved.

If you follow me on social media, you may have heard already that Jake and I are embarking on our next big adventure! And no, it does not involve a tiny human.

This week, Jake and I closed on our second home, a house just a few minutes South West of our condo in Austin. We absolutely love our condo and are sad to be leaving it but we’re very excited about our new adventure. Now, you may be thinking, “Jackie, didn’t you just get your condo? Haven’t you been married less than a year? How and why are you buying a second home already?” Well, my curious friend, I’m happy to answer all of your questions!

Jake and I bought our condo in November of 2016. It’s small, cute, and in a fantastic location in Austin, within walking distance of a Torchy’s Tacos. It’s in a quiet community, on a bus line, and is no more or less space than we’ve needed for just the two of us and Stella. We really hit the jackpot with this one.

But Jake has spent the last few years studying the real estate philosophy made popular by BiggerPockets called House Hacking. The idea behind house hacking is that instead of buying a single-family home, you buy a multi-family home (duplex, triplex, or 4-plex) and live in one unit while renting out the rest. This allows you to essentially live for free and even make a profit. So using this philosophy, we’ll be renting out our sweet little condo and learning how to be awesome landlords.

“But, Jackie, you bought a single-family home…that doesn’t count, does it?”

Well, no, not exactly. Single-family homes aren’t exactly what BiggerPockets suggests as ideal for house hacking. Jake and I tried to buy a duplex but ran into some tricky financial boundaries that we just couldn’t commit to right now. We tried and learned and now we know some of the restrictions we’ll face if we attempt to buy a multi-family property again in the future.

The current plan for our new adventure is to live in this house for the next few years, fixing it up, and renting out rooms on Airbnb to help fund our home improvement projects. Once we’ve saved enough and are ready to move on, we’ll rent this house out just like we’re renting the condo and move on to Property #3. We’ll continue this process until either managing multiple properties gets to be too much or until we decide we actually hate moving and should really stop.

While Jake and I may not be following the ideal house hacking model, ideally we’ll be setting ourselves up for a secure financial future that will allow us the freedom to spend our lives doing what we feel is most important: loving God and serving others.

“But Jackie, you know nothing about being a landlord. What on earth makes you think you’ll be able to do this?”

You’re absolutely right. As of maybe a month ago, I knew nothing about what it takes to be a great landlord. But I’m learning. BiggerPockets literally wrote the book on managing rental properties and Jake and I have been studying like college students who care. We’re approaching this whole management thing like a business, and as such Jake is putting his degree to work while I’m getting some hands-on experience setting up efficient business processes. We have a lot to learn and I’m sure we’ll find in this process that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do but we are nevertheless positively pumped to fail and learn and succeed.

All of this to say, the Ruesinks really are up to something big and we would love your prayers as we take on this new challenge. Ultimately, we’re hoping that God uses this adventure as an opportunity to minister for His kingdom. However, we’d also appreciate prayers for our marriage as we’re basically going into business together which certainly adds a new dynamic to our relationship.

Finally, we’d like prayers for our hearts to resist the compulsion of greed. Yes, financial security would be great but God does not say that Christian’s lives will be financially secure. We are repeatedly told that as believers, we can expect to encounter hard times. While the financial benefits of our plan are appealing, we want to focus our hearts not on money (which God can take away whenever He so desires) but on the lives we’ll have a chance to impact through the doors this adventure opens.

Jake and I recognize that God has given us more than we need in this life and we want to be good stewards of everything that he’s given us. We want to enter into this adventure with the intentional mindset that what resources we have are God’s first and we’re just taking care of things for Him. We appreciate your prayers as we move into this exciting next phase of life and we cannot wait to see what’s in store for us!

PSA: Christmas Has Changed

If you haven’t noticed yet, Christmas is different as an adult.

PSA: Christmas Has ChangedSo Friends, I have a confession: I hate surprises. Mostly when I know they’re coming. Christmas has always been a fun challenge of my stealth skills as I’ve always done everything within my power to know my gifts ahead of time. My parents were pretty great at being Santa Claus but the magic didn’t last long because they never anticipated my extreme impatience and ninja skills.

I remember as a kid sneaking down the staircase and watching them set up all my gifts and taking bites from cookies. When they’d go back to bed, I’d walk around and check out some of my new toys and leave them right where my parents had left them so that no one would know I’d gotten up in the middle of the night.

When I got older and my family stopped doing Santa gifts, I would go on hunts through the house to find my presents before they were wrapped. This usually happened right around when school started because my mother is famous for doing Christmas shopping WAY too early.

And when I started working at a toy store in high school and college, I became so great at wrapping presents that I could skillfully and stealthily unwrap whatever was under the tree for me and re-wrap it, making Christmas morning much more fun by getting to act shocked and surprised.

I still don’t like surprises but since I’m a grown-up now, I don’t have the opportunity for stealthy Christmas antics. More than that though, I think I’m losing Christmas spirit as I get older. Maybe I need to sing louder for all to hear but I really do feel like Christmas cheer is harder to generate these days. In school, there were always breaks for holidays but my big girl job isn’t quite so generous. And now that Jake and I are married, figuring out the holidays has gotten a lot more complicated.

I think part of the reason Christmas feels less magical though is that my priorities have changed. I care a whole lot less about the presents under the tree these days and a whole lot more about celebrating Baby Jesus with my family. While I am still a firm believer in holiday traditions, I hold on to them as an adult for the time spent with loved ones rather than for the magic of preparing for Santa. So maybe, the magic isn’t harder to come by, maybe Christmas is just a different kind of magic as an adult.

Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling the magic this year, I hope you hold on to the hope that Jesus’ birth brings and make your own brand of Christmas magic with the people you love.

Merry Christmas, Friends!

Jackie

Kids: A Psa

No, I’m not pregnant. Yes, we’re planning to have kids, but when that happens is not your concern.

As Jake and I close in on our first marriage anniversary, it has not escaped my notice that one question seems to permeate so many of my discussions lately: “when are you guys having kids?” While most people are genuinely just trying to make conversation or mean the question to tease, I’m becoming more and more annoyed by it. I expect this question from my parents, in-laws, and grandparents, but if that’s not you, I honestly don’t want to hear it.

Yes, Jake and I would love to have kids. But our timing and intentions are not really anyone’s business but our own. We have ideas and plans for how we would like to spend our limited time together before parenthood and we’d like to accomplish as much on our list as possible.

We know our plans and lives are not our own and if God chooses to bless us with a baby earlier than expected, we’ll welcome him or her with open, loving arms. But we’d also like to enjoy our time together before that happens.

So please, before you ask a friend/coworker/sibling/couple/stranger when they’re planning to have kids, remember that it’s not really your business. If and when they choose to produce offspring, they’ll let you know. Until then, pray that their marriage will be strengthened in this time without children and kindly keep your mouth shut.