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Adoption, Infertility, Marriage, Mission, Money

New Here? Allow Us To Introduce Ourselves

April 21, 2015

Today Amanda guest posted over  with Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee on the Catholic News Agency blog.

We battled infertility (still do) for the first 3.5 years of our marriage so this topic is close to our hearts. We hope and pray it helps others to love their family and friends carrying the cross of infertility better.

Many of you are probably visiting us here at True Good & Beautiful for the very first time today.


We want to take a minute and share with you who we are and how you can join us more regularly if you like what you see on Jenny’s blog.

Here at True Good & Beautiful, we write about couple different topics:

  • Money

We are Dave Ramsey lovers. Whatever he says goes in this house! In this section you can read the longer version of our journey to financial peace as well as how we used Dave’s principles in the home buying process.

  • Mission

We are also in love with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Church. We are missionaries with FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In this section you can read about our missionary adventures in addition to how we are trying to live as Christian disciples in the modern world.

  • Marriage

What can we say, we love the vocation of Holy Matrimony and are thankful for the gift it is from above. In this section you can read about our love story and the ways in which we intentionally work on growing our relationship as the months and years go by.

  • More

There are a few other topics we write about here at True Good & Beautiful – Infertility, Adoption, Parenting, and Intentional Living.

Despite writing about a variety of subjects, everything we post stems back to truth, goodness, and beauty. We believe that anything that relates to these core transcendentals is worth writing about, since they link our earthly reality with heavenly realty. Our tagline – thrive in what matters most is our ultimate purpose here.

Lastly, we love our readers and want to stay engaged and connected with you! Sign up for our posts to arrive directly in your inbox on the top right of this page. Or connect with us on social media below:




Thanks again for taking the time to check us out and we hope to see you around!

Adoption, Money

Adopting Again…How Soon is too Soon?

April 14, 2015

This is a topic that’s been on my heart lately.

I love being a mom. I really really love it.

Not only am I content and joyful with having Josie, I find myself being hopeful for future siblings for her to be close with while growing up.

But then I come up against the facts – siblings for Josie will likely happen through the means of adoption and not a miraculous pregnancy. Now, I am certainly not God nor do I claim to know his will for our family but by looking at my medical history…adoption will probably be how our family grows.

It’s no longer getting pregnant and watching my belly grow that fills my dreams now.

I dream of the adoption process and getting to do it all over again.

Filling out paper work. Having our lives examined and cross-examined. Connecting with a birth family. Being chosen to raise and love the most precious gift of all. Meeting our newest little one at the hospital. Taking the full milk supply I’ve painstakingly built for Josie and getting to continue breastfeeding both my babies.

And everything else that goes with adoption.

But then one thing stops me in my tracks: Money.

We fundraised a majority of the $25K+ for Josephine’s adoption. It was such a gift, honor, and privilege to have the love and support of so many behind us. I can’t tell you how humbled we were and still are that so many people walked our adoption journey by our sides.

But when is adopting again too soon? And can we actually fundraise again or will we get the stink-eye from people?

I don’t want this to come off wrongly but Josie is almost 6 months old…and if I had healthy fertility and was yet again cycling, Jonathan and I would likely begin trying to have a sibling for her. I really like the idea of having a few kiddos close in age to one another, no matter how crazy life would temporarily be. I would rather condense the wild and sleepless years together into as brief of time period as possible….

I can already hear God laughing at that one, as he prepares a nice curve ball for me. 🙂

With a natural pregnancy, the wait time is typically 9 months from conception through birth. With adoption? The average wait is 2-3 years!!!

I am well aware that our first adoption happened from start to finish in under 6 months. Highly unusual! I can’t say it wouldn’t happen that quickly again, but statistically it won’t.

That means that if we start the process all over again in a couple months time…we *might* have a second adoption by the time Josie is 3 or 4 years old. Still pretty close in age for siblings but it’s about as far a part as I would like.

This is when I start to get nervous though. We couldn’t afford adoption the first time around without significant help. We likely won’t be able to a second time around either. Part of me wonders if those cheerleaders from our first round will still be around for the next one. Did we wear our welcome? How soon is too soon?

If we were talking about natural conception, we wouldn’t have to factor in anyone else’s opinion…but I feel like with adoption we HAVE to weigh others opinions and perceptions…since we will likely rely on their help once again.

Hopefully we can start saving right away for future adoptions and be MUCH more prepared and not have to do as much last-minute fundraising. I also plan to do more adoption grant applications that we didn’t qualify for this first time around since things happened so quickly.

But what if we do need the help of others?

Will people judge us for trying for another adoption so “soon” not knowing we could be waiting around for 2+ years? Will people think we are free loaders who want handouts? Do people think we are not sacrificing enough lifestyle to save for adoption on our own? (Trust me when I say your jaw would drop on how little we spend on lifestyle as it is.) Should we be fundraising a higher annual income than we currently are, to build in the cost of future adoptions and not have to fundarise for adoption specifically at all?

These questions come from a place of prudent planning but also of fearing others. I don’t want to be there but I admit some days I am.

The other part of me remembers how special fundraising for Josephine was. I felt united to a large family…people cheering us on from around the globe. People who knew that by giving to us…they were primarily giving to God and doing his work. People happy to give, knowing it was not only a blessing to us but it was a blessing to them to be part of the story. Those memories are wonderful and make me believe fundraising again is possible.

Only time will reveal God’s will for growing our family and other’s reactions to how soon we choose to move forward on another adoption. We will keep praying about when and if God will call us to move forward on that.

Until then, I’m just going to think out loud with you here at True Good and Beautiful.

Feel free to let me know how this topic makes you feel.

Really. I am curious.

What is your gut reaction to us thinking about adopting (and mostly fundraising to adopt) again? You can always email me using the contact us page if you don’t want to share your thoughts publicly in the comments section. Thanks y’all!


The April Budget Breakdown

March 31, 2015

Well hello again.

It”s yet again time for some good ole budget accountability and fun!

Again, in these posts we will write-up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month. Then we have a photo link up portion where YOU can upload a photo of your budget committee meeting for the month!

So, what expenses might you expect in the month of April?

  • EASTER!!
    • Festive Meal
    • Party
    • Gifts for family/friends/children/people becoming Catholic
    • Easter Egg hunts
    • Travel
    • Fun activities for the octave
  • March Madness
    • Championship game party/outing
  • Spring Cleaning Supplies
    • Mop, Broom, Vacuum
    • Organizational boxes
    • Filing Cabinet
  • Vehicle Maintenance
    • Car Washes or supplies
    • Oil change
    • Windshield Wipers
  • Expenses Related to Taxes
    • Accountant/CPA
    • Turbo Tax, etc.
    • E-Filing Fees
  • Birthday gifts
  • Wedding gifts
  • Summer vacation/wedding flights

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 birthday and wedding gifts. We tend to get slammed with Wedding gift expenses during the summer months and it’s so much easier if we put away a certain amount monthly for that time.

We are excited to have travel to Nebraska in our budget this month to see a friend enter the Catholic faith!! We haven’t spent Easter with family in almost 8 years so it will be really nice to be around them. We also have the last of our adoption expenses this month before Josie’s finalization in May! 🙂

Now it’s time for your part!

[inlinkz_linkup id=511525 mode=1]


How To Buy A Used Vehicle on Craigslist

March 18, 2015

When people hear that we purchased two new-to-us vehicles on Craigslist they think we are crazy.

I get it.

People assume that Craigslist vehicles are posted by scammers, craz-o’s, or bad owners who didn’t maintain it well.

This is often true.

But not always.

And that exceptional situation is the one we want to help you find so you can get some serious deals on your future used vehicle purchases.

To aid in this post, I have solicited the input and advice from a well trusted auto-mechanic…Mr. Joseph Nissen.

AKA my dad.

Not only does he have mechanical expertise, the man is a deal hound.

Come to think of it, I’ve learned all my best wheeling and dealing strategies from him so to say I trust him is an understatement.

Below are a few nuggets of wisdom from him about sniffing out the deals on Craigslist:

The Preparation:

  • Scope out the photos for context clues…What does the neighborhood look like? What items are in the background?
  • Your best deals will be with individual sellers, not dealers.
  • Call about vehicles that interest you and ask lots of initial questions to get a feel for the owner. Are they shady or do they seem normal? Interview them about the vehicle…why are they selling it? Do they seem trustworthy? How do they claim to have maintained the vehicle?
  • Find a trusted mechanic who can answer questions for you and provide an inspection of the vehicle prior to any offer/purchase.

The Hunt:

  • Meet people in public places, such as grocery store parking lots if you can. Don’t wander into dangerous areas alone. Use common sense.
  • You are inspecting the seller just as much as you are the car…how do they carry themselves? Do they appear like a meticulous owner who maintains themselves and their vehicles well? Do they have any maintenance receipts and records?
  • Turn the key to on position and make sure the “check engine light illuminates” as well as “air bag”  light if so equipped. This is worthy of checking to make sure they actually light up..if they don’t, the bulb is burnt out OR the person removed the bulb to hide a defect.
  • Take the car for a test drive and check the transmission fluid afterwards. What color is it? If the fluid is brownish and when you wipe the dip stick off and there are signs of blackish remains that may indicate a transmission that hasn’t been serviced properly…not one I would purchase.
  • Check the oil level…also check the oil filler cap to see if there is a white-ish type sludge under the cap…if so the oil may not have been changed with any regularity.
  • Check tires to see if they are all the same type and make…if people care about the car they usually replace all 4 with they same type.
  • Have that trusted mechanic available to inspect the car, perhaps on your test drive.

The Offer:

  • If things are checking out and your trustworthy mechanic has given the thumbs up, it may be time to make an offer. First things first…what’s the car worth? Check out Kelly Blue Book’s website and enter all the necessary data.
  • In order to snag a good deal, offer a few hundred dollars under asking price.
  • That offer….it better be CASH!!!!!!!!
  • But don’t actually have the cash on you, unless in a very public area…that is a good way to get robbed. If they accept your offer, then you can drop by the bank.

Batta-bing, batta-boom. You my friend, have a new-to-you vehicle! 🙂

Like I said, we recently purchased a 2004 Jeep Liberty and 2007 Crystler Town & Country using Craigslist. We got each vehicle for at least $1K under Kelly Blue Book value. On one of them, we even had the owner split the cost of new tires. The other, the owner threw in an awesome car top carrier for FREE! Way to go dad! 🙂

My handy-dandy father served as our trusty mechanic and did the actual inspecting, offering, and purchasing for us and we simply paid him back. I know, you can’t get much more of an ideal situation than that but we wanted to at least offer SOMETHING for y’all out there who want a good deal on a newer vehicle.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Happy car hunting!


The March Budget Breakdown

February 28, 2015

It’s that time again.

Some good ole budget accountability and fun!

A recap from last time…In these posts we will write-up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month. Then we have a photo link up portion where YOU can upload a photo of your budget committee meeting for the month!

So, what expenses might you expect in the month of March?

  • Vehicle Maintenance
    • Tires
    • Windshield Wipers
    • Oil Change
    • Vehicle Registration and Title Costs
  • St. Patrick’s Day
    • Festive Meal
    • Party
  • Fish Fry
    • Entrance Fees
  • Spring Break expenses
    • Travel
    • Food
    • Activities
  • March Madness
    • Parties
    • Food at Restaurants/Bars
  • Easter
    • Travel
    • Gifts for family/friends becoming Catholic
  • Spring Cleaning Supplies
    • Mop, Broom, Vacuum
    • Organizational boxes
    • Filing Cabinet
  • Expenses Related to Taxes
    • Accountant/CPA
    • Turbo Tax, etc.
    • E-Filing Fees

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.

However, we purchased a van this month (in the budget) and have to pay registration/title fees which we didn’t have a sinking fund set up for. Therefore, we have to shuffle our budget around to accommodate this cost. It will be a tight month but because of budgeting, we have the freedom to make it all balance and have peace that it will all work out.

Now it’s time for your part!

[inlinkz_linkup id=501274 mode=1]


Dave’s Smart Money Tour: A Review

February 26, 2015

Last week Jonathan and I attended Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan’s newest Live Event – The Smart Money Tour.


This is our review of the event.

Overall, I would rate the event a 10/10 and it not only met our expectations, it exceeded them.


1. Foundational and Fresh

We brought a couple of friends with us, each of us at different places in the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps.

Of course, they more or less revolved around those 7 Baby Steps, which could have seemed boring for us since we’ve read the book, coördinated Financial Peace University, etc.

But they repackaged and condensed the timeless principles alongside new stories and partially a new voice – Chris Hogan.

I will get to him in a moment though.

They did an outstanding job of keeping the old and new fans engaged and inspired throughout the entire event. Below are some nuggets from Jonathan’s Tweet fest.


2. Free Budgeting Software

This may have been the MOST exciting news of the night.

Dave’s team has spent the past few years and a couple million dollars creating budgeting software called Everydollar with an app for your smart phone.

Best part?



We’ve been proudly sharing our love of YNAB – You Need a Budget software for over a year now…but this may change our tune.

Free is always better, amirite or amirite?

It launches next month but everyone who attended Smart Money Event received a code to use it EARLY. Boom.

Expect a review on that once it’s up and running. I would love to do a side by side analysis of Dave’s software vs. YNAB.

3. Chris Hogan

This guy is on fire right now.

He’s hilarious, animated, inspiring, and made me cry at least four times with the stories he tells.

Dave was smart to bring this guy on the tour with him. Not that Dave himself isn’t awesome…but it’s great to see him bringing other voices to the Baby Steps and his timeless financial lessons.

Chris also has a new website that I am pumped to use. It’s for retirement forecasting, which can be both motivational and terrifying at the same time.

4. Free Will Kit!

Dave gone and read my mind!

Did you know 78% of people die without a will? That’s CRAZY since 100% of us will die someday.

Now that we have Josie, it’s time to update our life insurance beneficiaries and create a will to navigate those funds in the result of our untimely death. Lord willing it won’t be necessary anytime soon but I will have peace of mind knowing we have a plan for her financially if something, God forbid, should happen to us both.

Below is Josie getting excited about us making a will!


5. Inspiring and Upbeat

The entire event was just a lot of fun!

There were giveaways. A live debt-free scream on stage. And most of all, content that was relevant to all, presented in a way that gave hope.

It wasn’t dry. It wasn’t ordinary. It wasn’t hum drum. It was anything BUT those things. Which isn’t always what you expect when going to a financial seminar.

I love how Dave and his team strive to make learning about money fun and encouraging! Really, it’s what sets him a part in this area.

Overall, I highly recommend this event to others! It’s only happening a few more weeks but keep it in mind if it comes to a city near you in the future!