About 365 days of marriage

I started this blog in April of 2011. At the time, Bret and I were wedding photographers and it was a way to share how marriage is more about the day to day and so much more than the wedding day itself. For about 5 years, I blogged about the joys and sorrows of the Christian walk, marriage, work, family and friends. I’ve blogged every day since a few weeks after I started. In May of 2015, we photographed our last wedding. Now, I have become passionate about simplicity, particularly in marriage, Christianity, business, travel and life. For a number of reasons, we have become minimalists. I’ve found that having simplicity makes life so much deeper, refreshing and joyful. I hope that this blog will help others see the benefits of living simply.

Day 3264 – Happy International Picnic Day!!

A very happy international picnic day to you! I hope you have the chance to go on a picnic today! I wanted to share this photo from one of my favorite picnics, which we enjoyed while driving across the country in 2016. It’s a great way to save money on your trips too!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
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Check out our resources page.
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Day 3263 – We Met The Super Carlin Brothers!!!

Heyyyyyyyy Brother!!!! Oh friends, yesterday was SO much fun! The whole day was a really great experience and so so full.

We left a little later than we originally planned, so we went right to the movie theater area. We got lunch at Ted’s Montana Grill. Which was just delightful. I got bison meatloaf. Nom nom nom.

After that, we decided to get in line at the theater. I’m SO glad we did since we ended up near the front of the line and got pretty good seats. A little farther back than we normally sit, but center none the less. What’s cool about events like this is that the people who go are very much our peeps. The girl next to us was very nice and we enjoyed chatting with her.

Once everyone was seated, the brothers came out and everyone clapped and cheered (VERY cool experience). Then they asked us to all say Hey Brother!! (they start every video like this) and to hear a theater full of almost 300 people say it was very fun.

What’s really funny about the time leading up to this experience was that I wasn’t even thinking about my excitement to actually watch The Incredibles 2! Hello, we’ve been waiting 14 years! I will give no spoilers, but I will say that it was worth the wait and very enjoyable. (but sidenote, if you or someone you’re going with has visual sensitivity to flashing lights, don’t go)

After the movie, the meet and greet started. We were in the second group, but decided to wait near the meeting spot. So we got to watch the line move and see folks after they met the brothers. I have to say, it was SO neat to see people AFTER. Just this “holy crap, I just met them!!!” vibe. It was a fast 1 1/2-2 hours wait. When the first group was finishing up, we jumped in the back of the line and we were second for the next group.

We had all kinds of things we wanted to say like “Bret says Heyyyy Wifecakes!” (one of his nicknames for me) or “Your videos give us so much joy” but we just got to ask for our “fun face selfie.” They totally obliged and even took a few photos. They were just like they are in their videos in person.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad it took place so close to home. It’s been a really fun year of meeting people that I look up to and I think it will be a part of my goal setting as time goes forward. I have some big names in my personal list but doing things like this makes it so much more attainable. So here I come Tim Ferris, Oprah, and yoga with Adriene (and Benji), get ready!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
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Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
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Day 3262 – We’re Going On An Adventure!

Today I get to scratch off one of the things on my January letter – Meet The Super Carlin Brothers!

I am beyond words excited about this. It means a day of hanging out with Bret, on his first official day of summer break from teaching. I have watched countless hours of their videos and it will be fun to meet them in person. Here’s hoping they are cool with taking a selfie with us doing the now classic Jen AHHHH face (see below). But just meeting them will be awesome. I love the whole idea of the meetup too. See, their videos focus on theories and various topics about Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pixar, etc. movies. The meetup? Oh yea, we’re watching The Incredibles 2 together!!!

I have no idea what adventures we’ll find ourselves on before getting to the theater, but you can be sure you’ll hear about it soon!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
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Day 3261 – How I Got $621.96 In Free Flights And Am Going to California For $521.96 And How You Can Too

Y’ll know I love Southwest. I’ve blogged about them a lot but I wanted to share about a recent experience I had with Southwest and a new experience with Allegiant free travel as well.

Now first, my biggest piece of advice when using a rewards credit card is to know your limits. We use our credit cards like cash and pay them off about once a week or every other week, depending on our income. The cool thing about both credit cards is I can pay off the card before the transactions post. Previous cards I used did not let me do this, maybe this is a newer feature and those cards now offer it, but this is a big feature to me. On some of my previous bookings, I purchased the tickets, then hopped over to pay them off right away. If you don’t think you can control yourself with a credit card (i.e. buy more than you normally would without a credit card), then use it to autopay some bills and keep it in a place where you won’t use it. We pay our cell phone and car insurance through our cards. I had a friend who put a large one time purchase on the card to get the bonus miles and paid it off right away. We use both cards for everything except rent.

Where we travel to in California is not a Southwest airport. That has caused us to do a few creative things like renting a car and driving from Vegas or sucking it up and paying for an expensive flight from Vegas to Fresno. Seriously guys, for a 45-minute flight, you’re looking at roughly $300+. A few years back, a new airline started flying into Fresno and it has made travel there SO much more affordable. That airline is Allegiant. It’s a very “you get what you pay for” and you do pay for what you want. If you’re traveling with checked bags and large carry-ons, it might be a little less affordable (you pay for each piece), but we’ve learned that our backpack and duffle bag work at personal items (i.e. they fit under the front seat). So we’re looking at a $40-80 (+taxes and fees) flight. You have to pay for drinks too (but you do get a free drink if you have the credit card).

On our last holiday trip to California, I signed up for the Allegiant credit card. I got a statement bonus of $50 after only six weeks of using the card. We then earned the signup bonus of 15,000 miles not long after. The cool thing about Allegiant’s miles is they translate miles to dollars (whereas Southwest’s miles fluctuate by the time of year and location). So 15,000 miles is $150 of travel. We used that card exclusively until we earned enough miles that I thought it would cover our next flight, then we went back to Southwest.

While both cards have a yearly fee, Southwest at least gives you 6,000 bonus miles on your anniversary. So a $99 fee that ain’t bad.

So that brings us to yesterday, where I booked flights from BWI to LAS to FAT (and back again). Here’s what my costs would have been for two people:
BWI -> LAS (roundtrip) via Southwest – $983.92
LAS -> FAT (roundtrip) via Allegiant – $160.00
Total cost – $1,143.92

I had enough points to cover Allegiant completely and I had enough points to cover one way on Southwest for each of us. That left me with paying for one way.
Total cost after points – $521.96
Total savings after points – $621.96

Over HALF of my flights were covered. What’s cool is that $521.96 will get me 3x the miles, which I’ll be able to use for later flights. If we end up staying in a hotel during our trip, if I book through Rocketmiles, I can get as little as 1,000 bonus miles.

I wrote a whole post on the ways you can earn miles, so make sure to check that out.

Also, Southwest is running a promotion right now for new cardholders – if you are approved (full disclosure, you will need decent credit) and spend $1,000 in your first 3 months, you’ll get a bonus of 40,000 miles. Which, to give you an example of how you could use them. If we were traveling to Orlando from Baltimore, instead of Vegas on those dates, the points would be 28,236.

If you’re interested in signing up, you can do so through my referral link. Absolute disclosure, I will get 5,000 miles if you sign up and meet the requirements. But you KNOW I am a big fan and user of the card. I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t believe in.

Do you have a Southwest card? Do you love it?

p.s. This photo is from a trip I took to Florida to visit a friend and flew for free and the whole trip only cost $139.99.

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
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Day 3260 – Guest Post by My Husband or Advice to Grooms – repost

As it’s the middle of wedding season, I thought a post about marriage was a good idea! Here’s an oldie but a goodie written by Bret on 6/27/12.

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Since this is a blog about marriage and wedding photography, and Bret is a BIG part of both our marriage AND our business, I wanted to start a weekly guest post from him! If you have any questions for him, let me know and I’ll make sure he answers them!

What was the highlight of the last week in your marriage?
I had a couple highlights in my marriage this past week.
The first is that Jen worked out with me at a nearby park. On the way back, we carried each other as part of the workout. To have a wife that I can work out with and puts up with and doesn’t mind being carried with her butt up in the air with a car honking at her, is truly a blessing.

Another highlight has been finding out that there is a chance we may lose some of our income at a time when both of our cars need work done. When we were talking about it, neither of us was really upset, we just automatically said that we will trust in God whatever happens. That was different from my usual response in a situation like that, so it was definitely a highlight.

Did you learn something new about marriage and/or your wife?
I learned something about myself and my marriage a few days ago. I have been so blessed with a dad that is an example of a husband that I want to be. Jen and I are coming up on 3 years of marriage, and she mentioned that the first and fifth are supposed to be the hardest. I remembered someone saying that Jen and I have had, to paraphrase, an easy marriage so far. I was thinking about how my dad has always told me, despite the situation he was in, that he is commanded to love and stay with my mom. What I’m saying is, and this is kind of an assumption, that he did not go through the situation and grow in love, and is now able to say that he truly loves her, or now knows they can make it through thick and thin, or that he has enough experience now to say he will not leave her. I believe he has had his mind made since he said “I do”. And that is how I feel. For my part, I meant “till death do us part” unless for reasons of infidelity and Jen and I have discussed this. Some may say, “yeah but you don’t know the future. You or she could change.” I can’t make Jen love me, but I can choose to love her and stay with her, despite the situation. Surely some people really can mean it. I really do believe that love is a choice. I hope I do not sound conceited. On the contrary, I feel our marriage must be harder for Jen, than it is for me. I don’t know how she puts up with me sometimes.

What’s your advice to grooms this week?
Every time someone asks me how long we have been married, and I tell them, they are like, “oh, you’re still newlyweds”, and make some comment like I haven’t hit the real marriage yet, or like I’m still in for some rough waters, or they try to tell me how women are, or make a comment that shows they believe divorce is an option. And I’m like, don’t condemn me. Why would I even want to talk to someone about marriage, who believes divorce is an option? I want to talk to people who will support not me, not my wife, not even our happiness, but our marriage. I want someone like my dad who will tell me, “It doesn’t matter if you are poor, or unhappy, or if you think they got ugly, you made a promise to them and God. You are supposed to stay with and love your wife.” The world always tells us to do what makes us happy. But God’s way is actually the opposite. It tells us we must die to self, love our wives as Christ loves the church, giving himself for her. So what is my advice? Don’t even let divorce be part of your vocabulary.

Bret’s quote of the week:
I heard this somewhere: Marriage is not only intended to make us happy, but to make us holy.

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel