Yearly Archives

2015

Marriage, Mission, Money

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2015

December 31, 2015

It’s been an awesome year around True Good and Beautiful.

2015 brought exciting and new opportunities our way, such as guest posting for Dave Ramsey (!!!!) and Mama Needs Coffee among a few others. We also branched into some new content since we were parent newbies (still are, who am I kidding!?) at the start of the year. All in all I am happy to say we continued to blog after Josie’s arrival and I know 2016 will be an even more exciting year around these parts…more to come so stay tuned 😉

Without further ado, here are your favorite blog posts from the past year:

10. The Adoption Puzzle is Here

I cannot tell you how many times we’ve received emails from couples wanting to make an adoption puzzle like ours to help offset adoption costs. Jonathan is in the process of setting up an Etsy shop for this very reason so our puzzle can be ordered in a much easier way! We never thought it would bless so many people! 🙂

9. 3 Ways to Cut Your Grocery Bill in 2015

Groceries continue to be the one category in our budget that we bump up against monthly. Following these three tips helps our family stay on track and not bust the budget.

8. How Motherhood Changed My Infertility

Praise you Jesus that I got to write a blog post like this…I thought I would never get to while we were battling infertility for years on end.

7. New Here? Allow Us to Introduce Ourselves

Our Dave Ramsey blog post brought nearly 25,000 people to the True Good and Beautiful blog in only a few short days! It was exciting and such an honor.

6. Teixeira Debt-Free Scream!

And oldie but a goodie! Here you can follow our debt-free journey on The Dave Ramsey Show and hear about how broke we were when we got married! Hahaha. Even on a low income we were able to obliterate debt…sometimes I look back and am shocked since I don’t think we could do that now.

5. My Favorite Catholic Infertility Blogs

I am always glad to see this one in the top blog posts for the year. We write about a LOT of topics here on the blog but really infertility is probably the closest to my heart. I am thankful to provide a resource for couples to find quality infertility bloggers to help them in their journey. It’s how I stayed afloat in our battle and I’ll do anything to throw a lifesaver overboard to others in the same fight.

4. The Husband’s Guide to Breastfeeding

God. Bless. Jonathan. Seriously this past year I had some serious breastfeeding anxieties and he stepped up the plate in a big way. He truly had the heart of a servant and supported me every step of the way. I don’t think Josie and I would still be nursing at nearly 14 months if it wasn’t for him.

3. How and Why I Induced Lactation

Another one I have gotten LOTS of inquiries about from fellow adoptive Mommas. I am so glad that my breastfeeding journey has inspired others and given them confidence to try!

2. God Spoke to Me and I Didn’t Believe Him

Hands down my favorite blog post from this past year. We have a father who keeps his promises and I only wished I trusted him far more.

1. I Was About to Leave The Church and Then THIS Happened

Jonathan’s conversion story from his time in college. He was apathetic in his faith and God put a new fire in his heart through some quality friendships.

Happy New Year True Good and Beautiful family!

Tex112

Much Love from Jonathan, Amanda, Josephine, and Wrigley 🙂

Adoption, Infertility, Marriage

How We Plan to Be Open to Life in 2016

December 22, 2015

Some of you may find this post odd.

You would never even think of telling others when you and your spouse are thinking about trying for a baby or your openness to life at whatever phase you’re in.

But we’re open books here at True Good and Beautiful and for better or worse it seems like God keeps calling us to high levels of transparency with the world.

Our infertility battles and adoption journey have been available for you to follow along with since early in our marriage, so in keeping with the theme, we want to describe how we are hoping to be open to life in the New Year:

The Bio Way

Gotta leave room for a miracle, right? 🙂

My one known BIG KAHUNA infertility issue is Luetenized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS). No doctors can tell me what causes it or how to resolve it. Some guesses are that the pre-ovulatory hormones are wonky or adhesions are getting in the way of ovulation, since post-ovulatory hormones look normal.

So I am going to make some SERIOUS lifestyle changes in hopes of improving hormones and overall fertility:

  1. I plan to go on the Autoimmune Paleo Elimination Diet to find any hidden allergies that could be causing inflammation in my body. After a couple months on this protocol I will get a hormone blood panel and thyroid workup to see if the diet led to improvements.
  2. I also plan to do acupuncture.
  3. And begin seeing a Chiropractor.
  4. The big treatment we are deciding on is either Clear Passage Therapy or Naprotechnology Surgery. Clear Passage Therapy is essentially abdominal Physical Therapy to break up adhesions and scar tissue getting in the way of my fertility. It’s 20 hours spread out over a five day window and I’ve heard it hurts. A LOT! The cost is $5,500 out of pocket and insurance does not cover it. Surgery (my 4th and 5th) would be to remove adhesions (while likely creating some new ones in the process), endometriosis, and any other abnormalities like uterine polyps. They would place Gortex on my organs during the first surgery then remove it 10 days later to reduce adhesion formation. Insurance would cover a portion of that but it’s also got about a $5,000 out-of-pocket price tag for uncovered techniques PLUS recovery time of six weeks.

The Adoption Route

I know miracles happen, but I have more or less accepted we won’t be conceiving any babies and I have made complete peace with that likelihood. We’re totally fine building our family through the gift of adoption. We LOVE adoption and are honored we’ve been blessed with the desire for it. It’s changed our lives and made us better people and will continue to over the years.

So how do we plan to pursue adoption again in the New Year?

  1. Renewing our Home Study with our adoption agency. Now we’ve been through it, I am sure we won’t be so overwhelmed but this is the low point in any adoption. Paperwork just sucks. Having our lives probed and analyzed  and obtaining fingerprints and background checks is also annoying but we’ve got nothing to hide so we’ll pass with flying colors again. Trying to get it all done with a baby turning into a toddler will surely have its challenges.
  2. Traditional Adoption with hopes of making a private connection again would be our hopes due to financial reasons. Meeting a birth family in Colorado specifically would make things much more cost-friendly but we’d be open to out-of-state again and paying double the fees. Significant fundraising efforts would be needed again, as we’ve had a LOT of vehicle related issues this Fall that wiped our savings ear-marked for adoption. Ugh.
  3. Embryo Adoption is also something we are looking into and if I am being honest, it’s currently where we are feeling drawn. Now, many of you likely haven’t heard about this option since it’s relatively new. Some of you also might be confusing it with IVF therapy but I assure you it’s very different. The Catholic Church hasn’t made any statements one way or the other, and as such, for the time being it’s something couples are free to discern and pursue if they feel called to it. To sum it up, we would adopt our children 9 months earlier than typical and I would have the opportunity to carry and give birth to them. Amazing!!! 🙂 If we go down this route, you will hear a whole lot more about our research and discernment.

There you have it.

The New Year holds a LOT of diet and lifestyle changes for me. I go back and forth between being excited and terrified about going Autoimmune Paleo but I need to figure my whole digestive and immune system issues out; I know there is something wacky and it’s just time to get to the bottom of it all.

No matter what route we choose, it’s going to cost significant amounts of money and I admit, sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. I am thankful we have financial freedom through being debt-free that we have the ability to cash flow and save for some of the treatments. We said “no” to a lot in 2015 so we could say “yes” to these treatments in 2016. I am also super thankful that others are crazy wicked generous towards us by supporting our work with FOCUS and in our adoptive journey to Miss Josephine Rose…and would likely stand beside us in fundraising for a second adoption.

At the end of the day God will provide. When I remember that truth, all my bitterness fades away. He’s taking us on a wild journey, and I just simply need to sit back and let him act. The more I try and control the worse off we are. God will grow our family however he sees fit and that is all there is to it. I just need to repeat that like a mantra all. day. long. until it sticks!

Money

The December Budget Breakdown

December 9, 2015

Epic fail.

Yup, this budget post is coming to you a solid week-ish into December because my brain.

Of course this is THE month we didn’t blog on time.

It’s the one month of the year that people blow their budgets out of the water and leave the month with a nasty financial hangover. Hopefully if you were headed for destruction, this post will draw you back to safety!

With that, let’s dive into December’s budget post.

In these posts we will write-up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month.

So, what expenses might you expect in the month of November:

  • Immaculate Conception/Our Lady of Guadalupe
    • Party or gathering supplies
    • Special menu to celebrate the feast days
  • Holidays Travel (get ready to seriously break the bank if you are booking flights this late)
    • Christmas
    • New Year’s
  • Advent
    • Decorations
    • Spiritual reading or retreat fees
  • Christmas (Yes, it’s really December already)
    • Gifts
    • Decorations
    • Special Outfits
    • Food
    • Party supplies
    • More gifts (that random gift exchange you forgot about…)
    • Christmas cards (Jonathan designed and ordered ours this year, savings us hundreds for the amount we send out! Woot!)
  • Winter Clothing
    • Jackets/Coats
    • Ski or Snow boarding gear
    • Boots
    • Gloves
    • Other accessories
  • Winter Fun!
    • Ice Skating
    • Skiing
    • Snow Boarding
    • Sledding
    • Cross-country skiing
  • Birthdays
  • Car Maintenance
  • End of year donations
  • Life Insurance premiums

Again, these are some expenses we’ve found ourselves budgeting for this month, so they might be applicable to you or not. Some of these expenses are best budgeted for as a sinking fund...like car maintenance or life insurance premiums.

Happy budgeting y’all!

Catholicism

We’re Still Figuring Out How to Do Advent And That’s OK

December 2, 2015

Advent.

A beautiful season the Catholic Church has given her people to direct their hearts and minds to the ultimate gift – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It’s designed to be a season filled with prayer, repentance, and most of all a JOYFUL anticipation of Jesus’ arrival.

I think it can be a hard season to fully embrace as a Catholic today.

Why do I think that?

Well, as soon as Thanksgiving is done (who am I kidding, its when Halloween is done) Americans get busy. They start decorating, shopping, feasting, partying, music-ing, etc. to celebrate the Christmas season. The problem is that Christmas hasn’t happened yet. Liturgically, we are supposed to be waiting, reflecting, anticipating, and slowing down to make room in our hearts for the arrival of Christ.

The Christmas season is coming…and all those things should happen.

Just not yetright? Or can we do them while still waiting?

This is where my husband and I butted heads in a MAJOR way as newlyweds…and if I am being honest we revisit this topic Every. Single. Year.

You see, I want to just go along with what the culture is doing. I want to buy and decorate with ALL THE THINGS, listen to cheery Christmas jingles, host and attend parties, go caroling, bake until my oven breaks, and be so saturated with Christmas that by the time it arrives, I am really really really ready for it. Of course I want to do these things in addition to Advent devotions as well.

I blame it on my melancholic nature…I don’t shift gears quickly or easily so it’s actually hard for me to flip a switch and suddenly become excited about something. I need a buffer time to get excited before the thing actually happens. So in some ways, I NEED to begin the Christmas activities early so that I am actually ready when it arrives, right? 😉

But my better half wants to approach the season a bit differently and if I am being honest, he wants to approach it in a way that is liturgically correct. He wants to wait on Christmas music, decorations, baking, parties…you name it, he wants to wait on it until it’s officially the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Instead he wants to protect and preserve Christmas because it’s sacred and holy. He wants to give our family the gift of well prepared and quiet hearts to embrace Jesus at Christmas. He wants to make sure we haven’t Christmas-ed ourselves out before it even arrives and like the general culture, be done with celebrating December 26th when there are liturgically twelve full days to celebrate.

So this year we’re trying some new things. We’re two adults who respect one another’s opinions and are willing to experiment with how we ought to celebrate as a family. No one is a dictator around our neck of the woods and one person isn’t going to decide our traditions. We will mutually explore options and decide together.

What are we doing this year then?

We are decorating the house in pink and purple for Advent. We’ve got a Jesse Tree devotion we’re doing each evening around the Advent Wreath. We’re spending more time in prayer and plan to go to confession as a family. We’re keeping things simple so we can make room for Jesus at the “Inn” of our hearts. We will switch gears and bust out all the Christmas music, turn on the oven, and change the decorations…but we don’t know exactly when because we will be traveling on Christmas Eve and Day.

I want to clarify and say that I don’t believe this to be a moral issue. If you listen to Christmas music, you are not in sin. Please, nobody run off and take this post that far out of context. We’re just exploring this topic out-loud here on the blog as we process it ourselves. Yes, I continue to Google “How to be a good Catholic and be a?ble to listen to Christmas music” and Jonathan continues to interview families who’ve held off on celebrating.

We’re researching as a family and are trying to figure out what helps us enter more fully into Advent. That’s what this is about – being ready to receive our King into our hearts on Christmas. Whatever facilitates that best is what we will do in the Teixeira home.

I know this is a highly debated topic and I would love to hear from other perspectives in the comments. What have you chosen to do? What helps you get ready for Christmas? How do you embrace Advent?

Intentional Living

How I Choose Gratitude When I Really Don’t Feel Like It

November 24, 2015

I will be the first to admit that gratitude does not come easily to me. Blame it on my melancholic temperament, my fallen human nature, or some combination of both.

It’s just not where my mind goes, dagnabbit.

I’ve had to learn to choose gratitude just like making any other adult choice in life…like choosing to budget, do the dishes, or pray. I had to learn to choose it because gratitude is good for me just like those other things.

Why is gratitude good for us?

If you dig into the secular research, gratitude can seriously change your life. From boosting your energy and happiness levels to being less depressed and envious, it packs a positive punch when part of your daily rhythm. Being a grateful person will spill over its irrefutable effects into almost every area of your life.

From a spiritual standpoint, God encourages gratitude.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Col 3:16

He wants us to be grateful because it’s the only place from which we can truly comprehend and realize all the lavish gifts he’s given to us. It’s a necessary platform for receiving his grace and not taking anything for granted. In other words, it allows us to grow in deep spiritual maturity.

But why is it so freaking hard to choose?

Because brokenness.

Being grateful requires virtue, which our human nature likes to rebel against. It’s a whole lot easier to be envious, negative, jealous, bitter, fearful, untrusting, angry, and entitled than it is to be grateful.

Especially in times of trial! One act of gratitude while suffering is worth far more than numerous shouts of praise in a season of blessing.

Even if you aren’t suffering, reflecting on things to be grateful for is typically forgotten in the business of life. It’s easy to take things for granted, especially in our American culture that runs a million miles a minute. Being grateful takes intentionality and that requires discipline and sacrifice…again, something pretty tough for most people.

So how do I become grateful?

Just be strong and do it.

OK that’s great if we all had wills of iron but for us average folk, that just ain’t gonna cut it. What practical things do I do to grow in gratitude?

Start a gratitude journal. For a few minutes each day, write down the things, people, relationships, situations, etc. that you find yourself thankful for. Just this simple act of recalling ALL THE THINGS you have to be grateful for in your life will change your attitude and perspective.

Verbally express gratitude with others. Whether it’s with a friend, spouse, relative, or stranger, specifically verbalize your gratitude out loud for something they did.

Stop complaining!!!! Ugh. We all hate complainers and have to fight hard to not become one ourselves as easy as it can be. Airing your gripes every now and again is alright but the more it becomes a habit, the more it decreases your levels of gratitude.

Pray for it. Beg God to transform your heath to one that is grateful for all that he gives you. Ask him to help you notice the people, places, and things in which you can be grateful for.

Write thank you notes. Sometimes you don’t get the opportunity to verbally express your gratitude for a person, so why not write a thank you note to them?! It’s a good habit to get into and who doesn’t LOVE receiving a letter of thanks?

Become a student of gratitude. You can read about growing in gratitude in scripture, books, from the saints, or everyday mentors. For example, check out a video on gratitude by Zig Ziglar:

Doing just these simple and small things have had a huge impact on me (especially when we were going through the darkest phases of infertility and I didn’t think I had anything to be grateful for). It was easy to be upset and angry but I learned that through CHOOSING gratitude, despite my circumstances, I am much happier and joyful. 

This week is Thanksgiving…no better a time to begin making steps to growing gratitude and its effects in your life!

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” St. Ambrose

Happy Thanksgiving!

Marriage, Parenting

4 Lessons From My First Year as a Dad

November 13, 2015
One year ago, our lives changed when Josie was born and joined our family. Josie may have tripled her weight in the last year, but I’ve grown a lot too. Here are a few things I learned this year:

1. Love’s New Dimension

It’s a simple idea, but one that I’ve really come to understand: we love different people differently. The love I have for my Mom is different from that for my wife which again is different from that for my brother.
I don’t love any of those people more than another, I love them each differently.
The love a father has for his daughter is a whole different type of love. It’s deep, rich, and like nothing else. It’s like a new color was added to the crayon box of my life.

2. Sleep is Overrated

Some babies sleep really well at night from early on. Others get there a little later. And then there’s Josie, who only recently started sleeping until 5:30am. Before that she was up (read we were all up) 2-4 times every night.
My sleep hasn’t been this poor (in amount and/or quality) in years, and it takes a greater toll than it used to. But it’s okay.
I’ve been functioning just fine, and even if I’m upset/angry/super tired when that kid starts screaming 20 minutes after I fall asleep (and again a few hours later), it all melts away when I go in there to try and calm her down. I love that booger so dang much.

3. My Life is Not My Own. And I Love It.

We used be more spontaneous. Going to the movies on a whim. Taking weekend day trips without much advanced planning. Running errands when they needed to be done. Taking free time to pursue new hobbies.
All that’s gone.
Babysitters, nap times, and spending time with Josie have taken over all that. And forget about flying somewhere with just a carry-on.
I don’t have as much free time. And things that used to be quick and easy take time and planning now. I haven’t touched my hobby electronics in months. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My days are made up less of chasing my own wants and needs and more of doing my best to provide for Josie’s wants and needs. I am living less for myself and more for my family. And that’s making me a better man.

4. A Better Understanding of God the FATHER

Because I now understand the love a father has for their child (see above), I have been able to gain a better understanding on how God sees me.
One of my greatest joys is watching Josie interact with her world: exploring a room, playing with her toys, ransacking a bookshelf or the diaper bag. I love interacting with her: picking her up, listening to her babble at me, playing peek-a-boo.
I translate the joy I find in my daughter to what God must feel for me, his son. He loves watching me interact with my world: exploring new places, enjoying his creation. He loves interacting with me: when I come to him in prayer.
His heart overflows with love for me as mine does for Josie. Except even more, because I’m a broken man, and when it comes down to it, I stink at loving. He’s God. His love is perfect. He loves me so much more than I can ever love Josie, and that blows me away.
I’ve learned many things, but those are the big ones I want to share with you today.
And to the mom’s out there, check out Amanda’s post on what she’s learned as a mom.