Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Heart Dave Ramsey!

I’ve always been a financial nerd. I get excited about reconciling our bank statement each month, writing real checks, making various money related spreadsheets and developing monthly budgets. It’s part of my “Type A” personality I guess – being a perfectionist, wanting things organized and having a system for everything, so I thought I had a pretty good handle on the Ussery finances.

But when I heard about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class being offered through church (Fall 2009), I was eager to sign up and take the course. I had listened to Dave Ramsey before and John had read through his "Total Money Makeover" book early in our marriage, so we knew a few things about his program. However, we never really put into practice his methods. It was time for that to change - we were ready to get on board with the Dave Ramsey plan. Knowing the little that I did about Dave, I was confident the classes would help us make improvements to our way of handling our money and be well worth our time.

Well, I am here to tell you that the 13-week Financial Peace University course did not disappoint. It far exceeded my expectations and completely transformed our finances. In short, we went through FPU in August-October 2009 and we are still going strong with his system. We stick to his plan as much as possible each month and couldn't be happier with the results.

Dave is a very dynamic speaker (you'll discover this through the weekly DVDs in the course) and you will find yourself hanging on his every word and ready to hear what he has to say week after week about ALL aspects of money. He will talk about things that seem so simple and make your ask the question, "Why haven't we been doing this all along?" It just makes sense. His ways of handling your money are very practical. If you truly follow his steps you can and will experience financial peace.

And although I have so many positive things to say about it, I know that it can and will be difficult too. It requires patience and endurance...and sacrifice. It will not be smooth and easy, especially in the beginning, but it's completely worth it and it does get easier with time. Seeing positive changes and successes from month to month will keep you motivated to stick to the plan. Initially, it will take time and dedication to get going on his plan - to transition from what you were going before to a whole new way of thinking. It will require you to dissect various aspects of your life and look at your income verses expenses. It will force you to do a budget at the beginning of each month and make every effort to stick to it. It will take time!! Even though we have made a lot of progress over the past year and a half, this will be our lifelong system of handling our money. His plan isn't just "7 steps to be debt free and have money in savings" - this is a lifestyle change.

We are all in various financial positions – young and old, making good money or making a little, several bills or just a few, money in savings or simply surviving, retirement building up or dreading retirement, kids, no kids or empty nesters – this system will work for you regardless of where you are in life. It’s the same system for everyone, you just make it fit your particular situation.

John and I’ve been married for eight years and have had our share of money “issues” just like everyone else - we've all been there. There's no need share specifics, but we've had ups and downs when it comes to our finances. But thanks be to God because since going through FPU, we've made good progress and are more at peace about the future. We are praising God everyday for these blessings.

Being the financial nerd that I am (which I mentioned at the beginning of this post), this is a passion for me anyway, but the Dave Ramsey system just makes it that much more exciting. I know - I am weird. Dave actually uses the phrases - "Free Spirit" and "Nerd" when he describes couples because there is usually one of each in a relationship. We know what I am and John's definitely the "Free Spirit".


There is no way, I can sum up how much I believe in Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University in a few words. This is an incredible system and I highly recommend it. If you are ever able to sign up for an FPU class (or buy it an do it at home) - please do!! Then put in the time and hard work it takes, faithfully follow the plan and apply it to your finances, you’ll experience awesome results!

Until we meet again...
Riley

Monday, February 14, 2011

happy valentine's day!

Happy Valentine's Day - one and all!

We are celebrating in low-key fashion this evening, but always enjoyable. We really don't go too overboard on Valentine's Day. Chili and cornbread are on the menu for dinner. I did make heart shaped ice cubes for our tea. We'll have "Mystery Mocha" for dessert (wow, is it good!). We decided not to get each other a gift this year, but we are going to exchange Valentine cards. After all of that we are going to watch "Fireproof" - one of our favorite LOVE movies! I'll be cozy in my chair with my "I heart John" t-shirt, pj pants and valentine socks on. Sounds like a great evening to me.

Happy Valentine's Day to my lifelong Valentine. I'd ask you to "Be Mine", but you already are. Lucky Me! I love you with all of my heart! Until we meet again...
Riley

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Birthday Boy!

Happy Birthday, John!! Today, I am celebrating my precious husband John's 34th birthday! Isn't he the cutest?! We enjoy celebrating all of the special days in our life together ~ including birthdays. John, thank you for making me laugh, thank you for making me smile, thank you for loving me dearly and thank you for making our life so much fun.

I wish you a FUNtastic birthday! What a blessing you are...I love you to the moon and back! "Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God" Philippians 1:3

As it was last year, the birthday boy has requested a homemade pizza with his favorite toppings and a peanut butter chocolate pie - YUM! Then we will open cards and gifts and play a few board games - should be a fun evening.
Until we meet again...
Riley

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eight is Great!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO US!

Today, February 8, 2011, is our 8th Anniversary. Eight years on the 8th! I woke up to the sweet whispers of John saying "Happy Anniversary" and "Thanks for marrying me". It was very early this morning, but so sweet and special.

To God be the glory for these past eight years. They have been fantastic and our life together gets richer and stronger every day. We can't say it enough, but we are head over heels in love with each other and adore our life together more than words could ever express. We find pure joy in living this life as one and having the marriage that we do.

We look forward to celebrating our anniversary today and tonight with fun plans and some treasured anniversary traditions.

My John ~ I'm at a loss for words to adequately express my gratitude for these past eight years. I've had the time of my life and I look forward to everday to follow, as long as we both shall live. You have been the best husband a girl could ever ask or hope for. Remember the words of the song hanging in our bedroom, "...when God made you, He must have been thinking about me." I love you, Mr. Ussery!

Until we meet again...
John's Bride ~ Mrs. Ussery

Saturday, February 5, 2011

iTakeover The Blog


Hello everyone!

In an unprecedented turn of events, I (John) am gettin' bloggy with it to wish my beautiful, gorgeous, sweet, thoughtful, caring, loving, devoted, amazing, incredible, godly wife a very Happy Birthday!!!

Riley, thank you so much for being who you are and doing all that you do! It is truly an honor and a privilege to be your husband, and I love you more than you will ever know!!!

"There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!" --Proverbs 31:29

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Editions ~ Living Room

We have a couple of new editions to our living room - two wrought iron pieces over the TV and our "Family Rules".

The picture over the TV we bought last Spring at Mardel. It's hard to get a good look at it, but in person it's a beautiful watercolor painting with the scripture "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1). We've been really happy with the picture and the size, but it has looked blank and open on either side of the picture. We needed something to fill in the empty spaces and have been on the lookout for something here and there over the last few months. We finally found something we both liked at Hobby Lobby earlier this month and they were half-off - even better! They are really pretty circular, swirly wrought iron pieces. John hung them for us and we really like how it turned out.

The second new edition is our "Family Rules". I saw this idea on another blog and fell in love with it. I shared it with John (he loved it too) so we decided to make some for ourselves. We started by developing some "rules" we want to try and live by in our home, whether it's just the two of us or includes a child/children at some point. We used a couple of rules from the blog I got the idea from (rules that we liked and agreed with) and the rest we came up with on our own. We wrote them all down and then it was time for me to get crafty! I did this project last Saturday afternoon while sweet John was taking a nap (his allergies were killing him). Luckily, I had already purchased all of my supplies so I was ready to go.

Without boring you with ALL of the specifics, I painted a blank 16" x 20" canvas a color called "Latte". I painted a couple of coats and let it get good and dry. While it was drying, I cut strips of scrapbook paper. I used 3 different prints of paper and alternated them in a pattern. I wrote one rule on each strip of scrapbook paper with a fine point black paint pen. I tried to change up how I wrote each rule to add a little something extra to it. Once the canvas was dry, I decoupaged all of the strips onto the canvas, again applying a couple of coats. I also put a strip at the bottom that says "Established ~ January 2011" so years down the road, we'll remember when we did this. John hung them up on Sunday. It was such a fun, relaxing craft project, plus I love that we came up with these rules together to live by in our home...as much as possible of course!

Here are the rules if you can't read them...

Love the Lord with your heart, soul, mind and strength
JOY: Jesus first, others second and yourself last
Value family time and traditions
Always be honest
Support & serve our church
Do everything without complaining
Honor Jesus in all you say and do
Love & help each other
Laugh a lot
Speak kindly and be courteous
Be thankful
Have lots of fun
Always Remember: We're on the same team

Thanks for letting us share!
Until we meet again...
Riley

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I Finished A Book!

As sad as it may sound, it has been a LONG TIME since I have read an entire book. I've started many over the last couple of years, but not finished them. I've also thought of, seen and read about many other books I'm interested in, but have yet to read them. My mental list of "books I would like to read" just keeps growing.

I really like to read. I'd say that I'm "too busy" to read, but the truth is I just don't make time to read. I make time for other things instead. We do stay pretty busy and active and I guess "reading a book" just doesn't make it's way into my schedule very often. I can look through a magazine pretty quickly, but a whole book seems like an undertaking at times.

When I get caught up in a book, I really enjoy it, but on the other hand I can think of several other things that I want/need to do be doing besides sitting down to read. I'm the type of person that can't just sit for very long. I'm a busy body around the house. Obviously driving to and from work, work itself, going to church, running errands, grocery shopping and other such activites fill up most of our week outside of the house. With the time we have at home in the evenings and on the weekends it is filled with other "things to do" like paying bills, making a grocery list, laundry, cleaning, cooking/baking, exercising, home projects, crafting, preparing things to mail...you get the idea! We also make time for our marriage to do our devotional and praying together as well as have fun playing games, watching TV and movies and having Date Nights. Oh and we need our sleep too - how important! All of that being said, it doesn't leave a ton of time for reading. But again, I could certainly NOT do one of the things I mentioned and make more time to read.

With the new year, I wanted to try and read more. It's not really a resoultion, but simply something I want to try to do more and make more time for. Reading is relaxing and calming and takes you away from reality - it causes you to stop and focus on something else. I need this. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, but that's something else I'm trying to work onthis year. So far, so good. Being an OCD Perfectionist, I have high expecations of myself and have been known to cause a lot of stress to myself. I want to be Superwoman (do all and be all) and I've come to the conclusion that I'm not. Rats! I can't change who I am completely, but I can make a few changes to help myself.

So I decided that as I embark on new books throughout the year, I don't need to be concerned about how long it takes me to read a book. It may take me 3 weeks or it may take me 3 months and that's okay. I may be able to ready several chapters in a week, but it may take me 2 weeks to get through one chapter and that's okay too.

I know I'm rambing, but I do have a point! (I know what you are thinking - "THEN MAKE IT!") Your wish is my command. My point is, I finished my first book of 2011...and the crowd goes wild. The book I read was by Candace Cameron Bure (D.J. Tanner for all you "Full House" lovers) and it's called Reshaping it All. I actually finished this book in about 3 weeks (but again, no pressure!). This was a very easy read and I just found myself so ready to dive into the next chapter so I MADE time to read. I read while I ate my lunch at work somedays, I read a bit before bed on several nights, I read while stuck in traffic a couple of times, I read waiting in the line at the bank and sometimes I just sat down in the living room and read (GASP!).

This book is all about fitness - physcial, mental and spiritual. It's part biography, which was really neat to read. She's been married for 15 years and has 3 beautiful children. It's also a motivational tool to put you on the right track with your physical, mental and spiritual health. Here's a quote from the back of the book, "In addition to practical advice and fun stories from her family and career, Candace offers a biblical perspective on appetite and self-control that will encourage any woman who longs to reach a new level of freedom. Embracing an overall healthy lifestyle begins by moving faith to the forefront, making some wise fundamental choices, and finding your worth in the eyes of God."

I've always liked her so when I saw that she had a book out, I knew that I wanted to read it. While we were in Odessa over the holidays, my Mom, John and I were in Mardel and John found it for me. I bought it and started reading it on the drive home.

I enjoyed this book so much and would obviously recommend it. Like I mentioned, it was neat to read about her childhood, career and current life. She also gave me a lot to think about when it comes to my relationship with God and taking care of myself physically and mentally.

Perhaps my mental health will be improved as I slow down a bit and read more books! On to the next one...
Until we meet again~
Riley