Let me tell you a little bit about my best friend Courtney.
She and I have known each other since elementary school, but only became best friends in high school. We had an amazing group of friends, and got into more than our fair share of mischief. I could go on and on for days.
Courtney rode in the car with me in high school (I was voted worst driver my senior year) – that in itself is a testament to how good a friend she is. We “egged” our friend’s house by drawing faces on eggs and sneakily scattering them through his yard one night, cracking up imagining what his reaction would be finding all these eggs in his yard the next day. We got our first tattoos together. We got “shushed” by a five year old in the movie theater because we were laughing too loud at the Hannah Montana movie. When we were like, 18.
And I’m just going to warn you in advance – the photo quality of this post is going to be LOW. Many of our pictures together were long before the days of the iPhone quality camera. So bear with me and just try to feel the spirit of the photos.
One night at a sleepover with friends, we took the above photo at a house that had these ridiculous-looking stone dogs “guarding” the end of the driveway. We were terrified of getting caught and laughed way too hard, fueled solely by pizza and teenage adrenaline.
Here are more pictures of us being mischievous:
Courtney is the kind of friend who writes you a beautiful poem for graduation that makes you cry all night. She may have spelled a few words wrong, but it wouldn’t really be from Court if she hadn’t😜 She is also the kind of friend you can make fun of because she dishes it right back.
My best friend Courtney moved to Maine after high school graduation for college and to be close to her family. She came back to Ohio as a complete surprise for me to celebrate my 21st birthday together.
This is a personal finance blog, so of course I’m going to talk about how financially savvy she is. I’m telling this story as accurately as I can, but I might have some of the details wrong (so Court, if you ever read this, please forgive me). Courtney grew up in a big family, who also welcomed many foster children into their home. She has been incredibly financially conscious and responsible as long as I’ve known her. She paid for college herself; she earned scholarship money and also took out student loans. She drove this car in college because it was what she could afford (and, let’s face it, this car is pretty incredible):
While she was in college, Courtney took a short mission trip to Guatemala. She fell in love with the country and the people. So much so that when she graduated, she decided to go on a longer mission trip. Six months.
She met Jacob. She fell in love with more than just the country and the people. She fell in love with her person.
But Courtney still had student loans. After her mission trip was over, she moved back to Maine, leaving her love, with a new motivation and fire to pay off her student loans. She worked HARD. She had several jobs, working day and night, to pay them off. I don’t know the exact numbers, but she paid off a huge amount of money in about a year. Maybe later I’ll convince her to write a guest post for me with more of the details… 🙂
Courtney is the kind of friend you travel to Guatemala for to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. What an incredible experience that was! The love she had for the people and the country, and the love that they had for her, was overflowing. It was crystal clear that this was exactly where she was meant to be. So I watched Courtney move to Maine after high school, and I watched her move to Guatemala after college, and the story doesn’t end there.
Here are some photos of Courtney in her element – serving others:
(Isn’t she absolutely gorgeous, by the way??)
Courtney and her husband Jacob married in April 2015. Jacob is just as amazing as Courtney. He is the kind of person who can make you feel completely welcome and comfortable in a country you’ve never been to, where you don’t speak the language, within a few minutes of meeting him. They have been missionaries in Guatemala ever since, serving in the villages, facilitating a feeding program for children, doing anything that needed done, and much more than I have the time to describe here. They had their first child, a perfect baby boy named Micah, in November 2016. This is her beautiful family now:
They recently followed their calling to start a new mission in Bogota, Colombia. This is about as entrepreneurial as you can get in the world of missions, and they were really stepping out on faith to obey this call. They left their family, friends, and jobs they loved. In Colombia, Courtney will be teaching bible-based English classes and Jacob will be giving music lessons. They will also be providing food and medical aid to villagers in remote areas, and providing aid to individuals who have been displaced because of paramilitary, gang, and drug trafficking violence.
Jacob, Courtney, and Micah have followed God’s calling for them. They have hearts of service, and have dedicated their lives to helping others.
But I’m not just giving up my birthday for Courtney and her family because she is my best friend. Or even just because she is a good person. So here’s why I AM giving up my birthday.
The work Courtney and Jacob do is funded and supported by donors. For the past few years, I have so desired to support them, but with six-figure student debt, it really hasn’t been possible. This year, I am asking friends, family, and complete strangers on the internet for donations to Santos Missions for my birthday. This isn’t just some big corporate charity where you won’t know if your money will actually make a difference. This is a three person family following God’s plan who will be responsible stewards of 100 percent of this money. THEY DON’T KNOW I’M DOING THIS, and I’m trying my hardest not to let them find out until my birthday. The greatest gift for me will be the ability to give to them.
The timing of this post aligned perfectly with an email I received from Rockstar Finance (a collective site of basically all the personal finance blogs on the interwebs); they have a Community Fund that they use to do good in the world, and sent out an offer to give $100 to 20 bloggers to do something good with and write about it. I really wanted to use this as my first donation, but alas I was too late (I was told that the email got over 100 responses back within MINUTES. Lots of personal finance bloggers out here trying to change the world!). Check out the good that Rockstar Finance is doing and has done to date here. It’s super cool to see the work that the personal finance community is doing to make a difference in the world.
My birthday is January 4th. I am going to donate $70, the amount that my husband and I would probably spend on a birthday dinner. I will also be giving any birthday money I receive as a gift from others. I am foregoing dinner, drinks, and celebration in order to give to something much bigger than myself.
If you can’t give monetarily, please pray for the Santos family and their new mission, and PLEASE SHARE THIS POST! Yes, that is a shameless ask for shares, and I have #NoRagrets because it’s for a good cause. If you can give financially, please click the link or preview below to my GoFundMe page. And if you know the family, DON’T TELL THEM!!!
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