Dear friends and family,

As another year concludes and a new year is upon us, I always like to reflect on what has happened and look forward to what’s to come. While this year has not held as much travel excitement as previous years, it has been a year of transition and resetting for me.

Work

In October 2016 (just over a year ago), I started working for Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (THPRD). I am working at one of their recreation and aquatic center and have grown in my position there. One of the responsibilities I’ve picked up is working with the marketing pieces and promotions for this center. I have loved growing in the marketing element and seeing the impact it has had in the facility and the district.

Working at Tualatin Hills Park & Rec District has been a wonderful place for me and I really enjoy being apart of this organization.

One of the Hardest Years

This year has undoubtedly been one of the hardest years for me and my family.

In late March, we experienced one of our family’s great losses. My grandfather, Dave Eischen, passed away unexpectedly. I had seen him and spoke with him earlier that morning. He was his normal feisty self and mentioned how nice it was for me to come see him. It was just a few hours later he looked up to see the face of Jesus. We know, without a doubt, Grandpa is with the Lord and left a huge impact on many lives.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18, NIV

The absence of Grandpa has left a huge void in our family and on our farm. I miss him a lot. Yet we are thankful for the legacy he left with us – a legacy of hard work, of living a faith-filled life, of loving others and of selfless hospitality.

In losing Grandpa, I’ve been reminded how we (humanity) weren’t intended for death. Death is a result of our sin and separation from God. In moments of darkness and loss, the light, hope and need for Jesus shines brighter.

Blogging Again

One of my main focuses this year has been debt repayment and building a passive-income stream. I am finding debt repayment and budgeting is based more on one’s mindset than on one’s income. Paying off debt on a limited budget is possible… not easy but absolutely possible.

This year, I have paid off around $20,000 of debt and, in the process, I am building in healthier finance habits and practices. Being in a healthier work environment has also contributed to being able to pay down such a significant amount of consumer debt (research shows you spend more money when you’re stressed out!).

Also, in part for accountability, I started writing a blog called Kitchen Table Finance to share my journey and what I’m learning along the way. I chose the name for my blog simply because life happens around the Kitchen Table, and I wanted a place to invite people to “my table” for conversations around money, debt repayment and how to begin to build additional income through side hustles and freelancing. I wanted to create a place where money conversations were not negative nor shameful, but where readers can share their stories, be encourage and find tools/resources to help them in their own personal finance journey.

I am just beginning… so if you click off this page to look around, I am just beginning to build my content. I have a new post scheduled for every Tuesday!

At the end of October, I was able to attend FinCon, a money and media conference, in Dallas, Texas. It was one of the most inspiring conference I’ve been to as I met people from all over the world who have paid off debts, built their own businesses, and live financially independent (FIRE = Financial Independent, Retire Early). I left that conference with more than inspiration… I left with a stronger network and actionable areas of growth to keep building my side hustle and business.

Pies, Oh My

Before I started traveling and as I grew up, I found myself in the kitchen baking, creating and trying out new things. I took several years off as I traveled the world and forgot how much I love to bake (and create)! This year I have found myself in the kitchen, working meticulously over pies and food design. It’s enjoyable and fun for me, and creativity is a way I de-stress.

It’s also been fun for me to bring Grandma into the process and have her help me roll out pie dough.

Broken Wholeness

My time in ministry brought great experience and… deep wounds. This year has been a year of tending to, addressing and healing from the hurts and pain I’ve experienced. My time traveling has brought a change in friendships and relationships that have been challenging to figure out. My exposure to the hardships, poverty and hurts of this world have made “first world problems” a major frustration to me.

As my fast-paced life came to a near halt with a change of jobs and stepping into a new season, my brokenness became more apparent to myself. This year has also been hard as layers of brokenness, hurts or pain have surfaced and I’ve prayed through, worked through and sort through it. Watchman Nee once said that God breaks whatever is given to Him so He can  rebuild it greater than before. Not only has God been rebuilding me, He has also been re-scripting misspoken truths.

I have been reading a book, Wounded by God’s People, by Anne Graham Lotz. It has been timely in my healing from ministry hurts and wounds. The old adage “hurt people hurt people” is seen as  people hurting continue the cycle by of hurt and pain by inflicting it on other people. Anne shares the story of Sarai, Abraham and Hagar and looks at how each one perpetuated hurt and pain on others. The cycle of pain and hurt from this family dispute has spiraled for generations.

In contrast, Anne also shares the story of Hannah, who endured pain and hurt inflicted on her, and turns to the Lord in prayer. Hannah prayed until she felt the Lord answer and then she moved on. She didn’t stay in the place of hurt or injury. Nor did she perpetuate the pain on others.

“I am deeply motivated to know God. I want to know Him as He truly is, not through the distorted reflection of those who called themselves by His name. And I want to make Him known to others as accurately, winsomely, clearly, and compellingly as I can.” – Anne Graham Lotz

It’s far easier to project pain than it is to position it under Christ. My prayer, as I work through the hard moments and hurts in my life, is to be like Hannah. I want to seek the Lord and lean into Him in the pain, and let Him into that place. As God steps into broken places, He brings a wholeness to it. That’s the place I find myself standing today… in a place of broken wholeness.

What’s Next?

As the year ends, it often brings reflection. However, it also brings a time of planning and preparation for the New Year.

  • Travel: I have two trips planned for this next year. I am attending FinCon again this next year. I also have an international trip in the books.
  • Two more nephews are coming!
  • I am going to continue to lean in and build my blog. I’d love for you to follow along and stay connected. Maybe even contribute from your experiences and own personal finance journey?

I am loving the quieter life, and look forward to continuing to build off of all the experiences and things I’ve learned this past year. Regardless of what 2018 brings, I am thankful the Lord is walking with me through it.

I hope this Christmas season is filled with blessings and joy as you remember the grace and love God gave us through His son, Jesus. We have such great hope because of Him!

With love and blessings,

Liz

P.S. I wanted you to know – there are no affiliate links on this page.  If you click off this page, there will  be affiliate links and ads.  Also, this page is not public and only accessible through the link directly. 

Previous years, I posted my Christmas eLetter on my old blog, Aspiring Servant. However, I somehow overlooked my domain renewal for that website and lost it. I hope to retrieve it in the future as that domain carries  a lot of significance and memory for me. Currently, the URL takes you to a page in another language selling discounted shoes. Opps!