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* Michelle Thoughts

When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale

Sale prices. Who doesn’t like to save money and get big shopping discounts? You walk into your favorite store and see a bright sign above some nice T-shirts: “45% off today only!” You may think to yourself: “That sounds like a good deal; I don’t want to miss out.” But I wouldn’t be so sure.

Unfortunately, sometimes those sale prices aren’t actually saving us money.

Intentional Spending

Being aware of how we spend our money is a big part of intentional living. Continue reading “When You’re Not Saving Money at That Sale”

Why We’ve Given Up Vacations | Intentional Travelers

This post was written by Michelle for our travel blog – Intentional Travelers

It talks about the misconception some have about our recent travels, seeing them as vacations. In reality, travel has become part of work and more importantly, part of our day-to-day lives.



For the past two weeks, we’ve been in Honolulu, Hawaii visiting Jedd’s family. A couple times throughout this trip, people have referred to our stay as a “vacation.” The same thing happened on our three-week visit to Jamaica last month.

But, actually, these are not vacations for us!

We can see why people might be confused: Hawaii and Continue reading “Why We’ve Given Up Vacations | Intentional Travelers”

Annual Review Exercise 2014

Happy Holidays!

We can’t believe it’s the end of 2014. Starting last year, we decided to do an exercise called the Annual Review which was inspired by unconventional blogger and author Chris Guillebeau (who founded the World Domination Summit).  It’s an intentional (cough cough) opportunity to take sometime time out to reflect on the past year. If you’ve done one before, it’s also an awesome opportunity to see if you’ve accomplished the goals you had from the previous year. Finally, it’s a chance to start planning and thinking about the next year.

Here’s what we came up with for our annual review, 2014: Continue reading “Annual Review Exercise 2014”

The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

We wanted to share this recipe in honor of being back from our Peace Corps experience in Jamaica. It’s fun to look back on the pictures of us making big batches of these delicious treats for our Jamaican host sister’s wedding.

According to Facebook, many of you actually tried these out at home last year! For my family (Michelle), cinnamon rolls are a traditional part of our holiday celebrations, and I’m looking forward to sharing these rolls with my family in both Oregon and Hawaii this Christmas. I like to make the miniature-sized rolls for this recipe to counteract the generous helpings of cinnamon-sugar and cream cheese frosting it calls for.


Continue reading “The Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls Recipe”

Life After Peace Corps: Returning to Post As RPCVs

Sunrise from a friend's apartment in Kingston
Sunrise from a friend’s apartment in Kingston

What is it like to go back to Jamaica after Peace Corps? Many have asked us this, and we are still trying to figure it out ourselves.

Let me start by saying that going between Jamaica and the U.S. feels like two separate worlds. Continue reading “Life After Peace Corps: Returning to Post As RPCVs”

Back in Jamaica (and How to Save on Travel)

Jamaica

We are back on the rock!

Saturday morning we landed in Jamaica, exactly 7 months after completing our service with Peace Corps. This time around, we’re taking the opportunity to experience Jamaica on our own terms (read: with a car and no longer getting approvals or reporting whereabouts to Peace Corps).  Continue reading “Back in Jamaica (and How to Save on Travel)”

These Photos Brought to You By Uncertainty | Intentional Travelers

We recently took a quick trip up to Jedd’s alma mater where he spoke about Peace Corps on an alumni panel for students interested in volunteer service after graduation. It gave us the opportunity to meet up with a number of people from Jedd’s college days. Over breakfast with one of Jedd’s former mentors at PLU, we had a great discussion about what we’re doing (or not doing) with our lives.

We had found ourselves losing enthusiasm and struggling in the absence of a real focus or direction for our lives. Thankfully, he reminded us why we chose our particular way of life in the first place and that choosing our own path naturally comes with its own set of challenges, including uncertainty. We left very grateful for his insights and re-motivated to carry on.

I reflected on our situation, feeling the need to remind myself what we have to be thankful for, and I shared a series of photos from our recent nomadic life on the travel blog. Here’s a quick excerpt and link to that post: Continue reading “These Photos Brought to You By Uncertainty | Intentional Travelers”

Things We Love – “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess”

A Book Worth Reading

7-mutiny-against-excessSometimes when I read a book, I wish I had the power to make it required reading for a certain population. This is one of those books, and the chosen population is: America.

When my friend shared 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess with me, I could see why she thought I’d be interested. But for some reason, I put off reading it. It sounded like work. Was I ever wrong. Now that I’ve finished the last page, I’m ready to read it again. That never happens.

There is something about the way this Texas-pastor’s-wife writes that is both hilarious and inspirational. Author, Jen Hatmaker, is witty, authentic, and bold as she takes you and her family along on a 7-month “experimental mutiny against excess.”

About the 7 Experiment

For one month each, Jen and her young family of five creatively fasted from: Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Waste, Spending, and Stress. For example, in month one they could only eat 7 foods (spinach, sweet potatoes, wheat bread, eggs, avocados, apples, and chicken). Month two, she kept a rotation of only 7 items of clothing. Month three, they gave away 7 things from their home every day. For Waste, they recycled everything possible and started eating unpackaged goods from their new backyard garden. Spending involved limiting their purchases to only 7 locations for the month; and Stress month led them to take 7 daily pauses for prayer and start practicing Sabbath.

In each chapter, I literally laughed out loud. Then I’d turn the page and become either passionately fired up or emotionally choked up. As she shares her struggles to “walk the walk,” you can’t help but feel a fire under your butt to make some changes of your own.

ThingsWeLove-Simply-IntentionalIf anything, this book is a call for American Christians to wake up and shape up. But it’s also addressing the needs of our society at large, which applies to anyone. Our lives are getting excessive – more busy and more cluttered – but it’s not making us happier, and it’s affecting our ability to be Christ’s hands and feet among the suffering of our world.

This book is not about making you feel guilty. I wish I could explain, but you’ll just have to give it a try for yourself. In the meantime, here’s a quick promo video for a corresponding Bible study where the author gives a brief overview of the 7 Project:

Home and A Different Kind of Homesick

I wrote this post in February 2012, before we left for Peace Corps, and for some reason I left it in the draft queue. My thoughts are still incredibly relevant to our situation today as we move from place to place…


House-Mountain-Switzerland

Have you ever tried to imagine the perfect place to live? When you see yourself in that city or town (or in the middle of nowhere), in that house, is everything as it should be? If you could just live there, would you never need to move or remodel or change the furniture or improve the yard?

Would you be completely satisfied?

I’ve gone through this “exercise” more than once in my head, each time running through many places I’ve thought would be cool to live. A condo in the city with a great view! (Too much traffic, expensive parking, claustrophobic busyness…) Four acres of farmland with big sky and fresh produce! (Too far from the city, neighbors aren’t close enough, endless work to be done…) A colorful hut on a tropical island! (Too far from family, mosquitos, difficult to travel…)

Even if I truly enjoyed the place I was imagining, there were always other things that wouldn’t let me be totally overwhelmed with satisfaction and endless joy. There was still poverty in the world. There was still my own shortcomings and failures. There was still reality.

No matter where, the image of that picture-perfect place was always more enjoyable to imagine than to actually live in or own. There was always something missing.

According to the TV series/documentary “This Emotional Life,” human beings tend to expect that what makes us happy for a day will make us happy for a lifetime. There’s a fancy term called “Hedonic adaptation”- which means that human beings are good at getting accustomed to, or adapting to, positive changes in our lives. On the other hand, people find ways to like things when they’re stuck with them.

The few times I’ve gone through this thought process I’ve described above, I mourn a little. I have the overwhelming feeling that I will never truly feel “at home.” I will never find a place where I can be perfectly at peace. I will never truly rest. I will never arrive somewhere where I won’t need something else, something more. I will always be just a little bit restless. Do you ever feel that, too?

Maybe this is why I’m addicted to travel and I put off settling down. Maybe subconsciously I avoid finding a home because I know it won’t make me feel “at home-” I’ll get my hopes up and then have to mourn that loss of a dream. Instead, being a nomad is closer to my true nature. I do love to travel.

But why do I long to feel at home in the first place? Why do I try to imagine the perfect place, where I can stop searching for something more, if it doesn’t exist? Why do I have this life-long restlessness and the unshakeable urge to keep searching? The answer, I think, is theological.

I believe there actually is a home where I will finally feel at peace- it’s just not of this world. For any fears of dying I might conjure, this consolation is greater and I put my faith in it. I believe I was created for a heavenly home, and all the longing and dissatisfaction I encounter in this life are a result of not yet being there. The dissatisfaction is a reminder that something remains unfinished, something I have to look forward to.

All the same…

I suspect that some day we will settle down somewhere. It likely won’t be a typical set up, since we’ve sort of outgrown our ability to fit into anything cookie cutter. Perhaps we’ll try a tiny house. Perhaps we’ll still travel a few months out of the year. But we do value community highly, and I think that will eventually pull us back out of orbit.

Whenever that happens, it will be interesting to see how much I’ll still feel that existential homesickness. Will I ever be content to stay in one place? I don’t know. I know now that no place can ever be perfect, but I still hope to find somewhere that’s right for us. Whatever that means…

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