Amanda Dorough | She's Paying It Off

The Story of My Journey to Debt Freedom, One Tiny Step at a Time

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Here’s to 2014, Looking Back At This Last Year

Oh what the difference a year can make.  2013 was not a good year and by the end I was feeling terribly discouraged.  As I looked ahead to 2014 I had hope, hope that good things would happen and determination to make them so.  Now, as I reflect upon this last year I can confidently say it was everything I wanted and so much more.  I would even go so far as to say it was one of the best years of my life.

That’s funny for me to say considering the year contained one of the worst months of my life.  You see, March was not good to me.  It started out with terrible cement burns on my legs that made just moving a horrible chore and ended with a highly publisized controversy in relation to the organization I worked for that caused immense heartbreak for me and my co-workers.  Thankfully, when you hit the bottom there is nowhere you can go but up and give each blessing, big or small, that much more significance, and let me say, the rest of 2014 was full of them.


In May after months of prayer and research I made the decision to apply to go back to school to finally become a paramedic.  It was a scary move for me and one I didn’t fully trust for another 2 months, but it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life.

At the end of June I once again headed to Tijuana, Mexico with my church to build homes for those in need and once I got home I was in full planning mode for the transition from full time employee to full time student.  At the end of July I officially gave my two weeks notice at World Vision and leaving was definitely bittersweet.  While working in a call center is not my calling in life (I actually hate talking on the phone) I couldn’t have worked for a better organization and my co-workers made each day so special.


Mid- August brought the big move.  I loaded up my new car (Praise the Lord!  One of those blessings I was talking about earlier) and began the journey north to Alaska.

I got the incredible chance to spend the first half of the trip on the Alaska ferry traveling from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK.  I saw sights I never imagined I would lay eyes on.  The inside passage is so gorgeous (when it’s sunny) and met so many great people.  The remaining drive to Soldotna was long and lonely but provided perfect time to think and reflect. In case you were wondering, Yukon territory really is as empty as you would imagine, go figure, but as soon as I pulled into the school after 3 days driving I knew I was home.


This last semester I was given best friends, got to go on incredible adventures and laughed more than I had in 28 years.  I couldn’t feel more blessed.


Now, as the year wraps up and I’ve officially got the first step in my pursuance of becoming a paramedic finished (EMT 1, hooray!) I eagerly look forward to what this next year will bring, and I remember that no matter what happens that God is good!

Happy New Year Everyone!  Here’s to 2015!

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Where I Fix My Eyes

In my life right now downtime can be pretty hard to come by, so anytime I have a few hours to kill I try to take full advantage of it, and by taking full advantage I usually mean watching Netflix.  I know, I’m hopeless.  The unfortunate thing about using all your free time to socialize and veg-out (aka be lazy) is that the things that need to be put away don’t get put away and the things that need to be cleaned don’t get cleaned.

This folks is my reality.

This last weekend however a miracle occurred.  I had one of those rare time slots where I was both free of obligation and I had the motivation to get things done.  Hooray!  I mean good gracious, the kitchen was starting to look like a warzone.  I don’t live alone, but I mean someone has to clean eventually.  So I popped in my headphones, set my phone to the Rend Collective (my all-time favorites!) Pandora channel and set to work.

So there I was, hard at work, hand washing my dishes when a song comes on that I’d never heard before.  It was one of those songs that immediately appeals to your taste in every rhythmic way.  Usually I just listen to beats and melodies of music while I let my mind get lost in thought, but this song caught me, so I began to listen to the words…

Hit rewind
Click delete
Stand face to face with the younger me
All of the mistakes
All of the heartbreaks
Here’s what I’d do differently

I’d Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on You
On You….

(find the song here)

That chorus, oh so good, really got to me, and one word began to flash in my mind like a neon sign high above the Vegas Strip,


Looking out for the so-called #1, putting yourself first, always.  It’s so easy to do.  So easy to get trapped by the idea that in your life you’re the most important person in the world.  The feelings of self preservation and making sure that you make the most effort to make yourself come out as close to the top as possible.

But it’s ridiculous.

My most precious memories & experiences, the ones that mean the most and I hold to the tightest aren’t about me.  So why would I think I could have the best life possible by doing the opposite?

So as I stood there, scrubbing away I was convicted.  I’m 29 years old.  God willing I have many years of life left to live and I don’t want to have regrets.  This is the time where I need to love others even when it’s hard, give of myself even when everything wants to turn the other way, take time for strangers and make time for friends…

But out of every way that I could be selfish I’ve been most selfish with my time when it comes to God, and that I am ashamed of.  He’s the real #1.  The one who loves despite our failures, and calls through every ounce of creation for us to love him in return, yet unfortunately we oftentimes show greater love to our pet or our TV than we do to God.

We worship what we focus on.  If you watch 20 hours of TV a week but spend 5 minutes praying, where do your priorities lie?

That’s why I’m choosing today to fix my eyes on the only one who deserves my worship and part of that will be committing to be in the word daily, something I’ve been abysmal at these last few months.

Back in May I discovered a website, or, the more fitting word for it would be a community called SheReadsTruth.  They put together online, free, daily Bible Studies for woman covering books of the Bible or topics ranging from Justice to Hospitality.  These aren’t your “Daily Bread” devotionals many of us grew up with.  They’re so rich and so good.

On Monday they began a short study using Hymns, and next week they start a study focusing on Thanksgiving.  I’m making a commitment today to make God a priority in my life going forward, not just a convenience, and I challenge you to do the same.  If you’re currently looking for a great Bible study I would definitely encourage you to check out SheReadsTruth.  They even have Apple and Android apps if that’s your thing.

Remember, Selfishness is overrated, SELFLESSNESS on the other hand changes lives.

 Be giving.  Love freely, and FIX YOUR EYES on the one who really matters.





Announcement! Announcement!

You guys, I have a big announcement.  At least big in my books.

It’s something I’ve sat on and prayed over for many months.

It was a decision that was simultaneously really exciting and really terrifying.

It still terrifies me…

This has probably been one of my biggest tests of faith thus far.  It’s required a lot of trust and begrudgingly coming to the realization that sometimes things aren’t supposed to be crystal clear, plans aren’t supposed to by crystal clear, because that’s how we exhibit our real trust in God.

So what is this big announcement?  Why is it so terrifying?

Well…. I’m moving! Now I know you’re next question, where?  If you know me you’re probably imagining somewhere foreign and exotic.  South Africa possibly, or Turkey or Thailand?  Nope.

Still wondering?

Here you go, drumroll please…………….





Alaska!That’s right, Alaska! Yay! The land of mountains and moose, bears and long dark winter days (but really sunny summers!).

Now I know the next questions to come to mind, when, where and why?

So, I’ll be living in the town of Soldotna, about 2.5 hours from Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.  Theres no Walgreens, no Target and no malls.  It’s going to be different, but I’m Ok with different.

The why takes a little more to explain.

For years I’ve wanted to be a Paramedic.  I’ve attempted to pursue it on several occasions since graduating from college but other, awesome opportunities have always come up instead.  I’ve always accepted it, trusting in God’s timing.  There’s been a few points where I thought I might do something else, but I kept just coming back to EMT.  My heart skips a beat every time I see a fire truck or ambulance.  I just know it’s right.

Last year, when I started working for World Vision, I thought it would give me the perfect opportunity to do an EMT program at a local community college, but it became apparent pretty quickly that my schedule wouldn’t allow it.  Once again, something got in the way.  In hindsight though I realize just what God was doing, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Last fall I discovered the show Alaska State Troopers on Netflix and I just binge watched 3 seasons while working on various projects.  Because I like to research things I randomly googled EMT programs in Alaska, just to see if they existed or what they were like.  It was at this point I discovered that EMT/Paramedic programs run differently depending on the state.  Each type of program has it’s own merits, but this opened up a box of opportunities I never knew I had, the chance to find a program that really is right for me.  See, I’d always assumed I’d do a program in WA, since it’s home, but in WA EMT programs are certificate based then you have to work for a large amount of hours before even considering applying to a paramedic program.  In other states, like OR and AK, EMT programs are actually degree programs, meaning you’re eligible for financial aid.  They are also consecutive, meaning you can get everything done and be a full Paramedic in just over 2 years.  This was very appealing to me, so in January I started thinking of moving to go to school, then in March I started praying about going back to school, and finally in May I decided to take the plunge and apply to a school.

Oh that was a scary moment.

In the end I decided to apply to Kenai Peninsula College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage.  First of all I chose it because they’ve been developing a pretty great Paramedic program, and the second reason, and this was huge, was that out of state tuition was waived. Yay for cheaper education!

When my acceptance letter and financial aid offer came in at the beginning of June I knew I had a lot to ponder and pray over.  This is where the whole trusting God thing came in because I’ve never been to Alaska and I don’t know anyone in that part of the state.  I’m literally going in blind.  It also meant quitting my job at World Vision and trusting that God would provide some way to earn a stable income once I got there, because folks, Alaska ain’t cheap.

I still need to find a job, but I have no reason to think that God won’t help me find one.  After all, he helped me find a great car for an incredible price.  Did you see it?

New car

I knew my poor little Kia Rio would be eaten alive by Alaska, I mean, it would cringe in the rain around here, I don’t even want to think what would happen in the snow!  So, right around the same time I started considering moving to Alaska I started checking out cars online.  I’d found a few good ones over the months but nothing I was ready to commit to or that completely met my checklist.  Then, last week I found this beautiful 2009 Saturn Vue online.  My Dad headed down to the dealership with me Saturday evening and within a few hours I was signing the papers for my new car!  I couldn’t beleive it.  God had provided it at the right time for the right price.  This car is going to be perfect for Alaska and perfect for the drive up because yes… I’m driving.

It’s going to be a LONG road trip.  I’m super excited for it and super exhausted by the thought of it.  Right now the plan is to leave August 15 (class starts the 25th) and to take 5 days to travel up to Anchorage.  It’s definitely going to be an adventure.

And speaking of adventure, did I mention I’m going to be living in dorms again? Ya, oye.  I feel like I paid my dorm dues the first time around (I lived in the dorms all 4 years).  I loved it, but I’m a lot older now, and the idea of living with a bunch of 18 year olds is kind of exhausting.  At the same time there was something deep down telling me this was the right move to make, at least for now.

See,  I don’t know anyone up there, I don’t know what the good and bad parts of town are, and rent is expensive. These dorms are also a little different than the ones I lived in before.  They’re apartment style.  Each apartment has 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living space and a full kitchen.  Everyone get’s their own bedroom which is really nice.  I don’t think I could have done it if I’d had to share a bedroom with 2 roommates like the first time around.

So there you have it.  Today I officially gave my 2 weeks notice at World Vision, that’s why I felt like I could finally share this with y’all, and trust me, it was REALLY HARD to keep in.  Leaving World Vision is going to be really tough.  While working in a call center isn’t my dream job, the organization is actually really, really great and is by far the best place I’ve ever worked.  I’m going to miss working for a place that is so Christ centered in everything, but, I’m SOOOO excited to finally be following my dream.

Less than 4 weeks to go.  Let the freak out begin!

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My 3 Things Update: Three Weeks In

Hello friends!  How is your summer going?  It’s hard to beleive July is almost over!  Where does time go?

This month has been a busy one for me.  Lot’s of working, not to mention I turned 28 smack dab in the middle of the month.  Only 2 years until 30.  Ewe.  I guess I’ll have to deal with it.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me as I’ve started this journey toward living better and living completely for God.  It hasn’t been easy, and I know it wont always be, but I can already feel a difference, so here we go, and update of sorts.

1.  Being in the Word daily- I won’t lie, at the beginning this was a difficult habit to follow through with.  The first week I tried reading my bible on my break at work but I found the time to restrictive not to mention some days I didn’t even get a break, so that didn’t work.  Then I moved on to reading my Bible before I go to bed at night, and I think that’s the best fit for me.  I’m more of a night owl anyways so that is when my mind is working it’s best.  Currently I’m doing a Proverb a day as well as going through the book of Mark.  Then on top of that I’m also reading from my Jesus Calling devotional and going through the Disrupted devotional I got at the Mexico retreat last March.

I’m slowly getting into the swing of things.  I’m still having a hard time getting it done on Saturday nights (because I’m always hanging out with my new bestie and we get so distracted!), but other than that I’ve been good about setting aside time.  And I must say, I can definitely feel a difference between the days when I do my devo and the days I don’t.  Those days seem to be filled with so much more of the fruits of the spirit, and I like it.

This is my town

2.  I need to be healthy-  This is by far the hardest of the 3 for me.  I like ice cream, like, a lot.  Originally I was doing well in the food department.  One day after work I stopped over at Winco and bought only produce.  It was awesome.  But then the middle of the month came.  My paycheck was teeny because I took a week off for Mexico and then all my bills were due.  No fun.  So I had to resort to what was left in the pantry, aka a lot of carbs.  On the exercise side of things on the other hand I’ve been getting in a least 3-4 walks a week either by myself or with my dog.  My weight has been fluctuating because of my thyroid issues so I don’t think I’ve really lost any weight yet, but I know that will come.

Turning 28

3. I need to stop talking about becoming an EMT and just do it + find a new job-  My original goal was to try my best to get into the EMT program for this fall quarter.  However, I realized that the chances of me getting in considering the late date of application were slim to none (because it’s first come first served and they only accept 28 per quarter). I decided to lower the stressed out yoke I was caring regarding this and put it off instead until winter or spring quarter.  Another deciding factor in putting off EMT school is the fact that I may be getting a new job!  I don’t want to say anything yet because I’m still waiting for my my background check to come through, but it’s for a great Christian company that I’m excited to work for!

So I guess that’s my update.  God is so good.  He’s definitely showing me his provision and his heart through this whole process and I’m so excited to know more of him!

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In It to End It

Let’s take a little break from our typical programing.

I’ve got something I want to talk about.

Slavery.  It’s for the history books right?  Something that was eradicated 150 years ago?

The truth is not only does slavery exist today, it’s thriving.

Back on Superbowl Sunday I saw several people post on Facebook about how that day was the biggest day in America for human trafficking.  It’s not a sad reality, it’s a horrible reality, but the reality stretches far beyond that one sunday.  It stretches into day after day to sweatshops in India, brothels in China and even the streets of South Seattle.

End It

A few years ago Ashton Kutcher got celebrities together to voice against human trafficking.

Slavery is hitting home.  Like really close to home.  Young prostitutes walk the streets of my home town daily.  A mere 2 miles from where I grew up young girls sell their bodies, brainwashed into thinking this is a life they want.

It makes me sick.

My beloved Thailand is widely known as the sex capital of the world.  From Bangkok to Phuket, Chiang Mai and Pattaya the streets ooze bodies for hire.  I lived in Thailand for two years and not once did I truly consider what was going on.  I remember walking down Bangla Road on Phuket and just being grossed out by the scantily clad ladies (and ladyboys) that seemed to be everywhere I turned.  My friends and I rushed through the crowds, cringing and longing to just get beyond it.  At the time I was ignorant.  I thought these woman had made a conscious decision to be there.  I thought they were choosing to sell their bodies because they wanted to make wads of cash.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Three years later I returned to Thailand with a different perspective.  This time my eyes were metaphorically opened.  This time I got the opportunity to spend a month ministering to bar girls.  The first night I headed out onto pub street nervous.  This was an area I had always avoided before, how could I feel comfortable?  Somehow I found myself at at bar near the boxing ring, Cloud Bar*, and there I met Nat*, a beautiful 40 something prostitute.  Over the month I got to know this woman.  I saw her passions and dreams, but she was stuck.  I also saw her pain.  The look that would come across her face when a young girl, no more than 14, was garnering the attention of men in the bar.  This little girl had a long road ahead.

End It

Bar Street, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ironically, I came to Thailand to volunteer in the sex trade side of human trafficking but I was inadvertently introduced to another side of the beast.

Because our bar ministry was at night I chose to teach english to kids in the local slum during the day.  Sweet, vibrant kids so full of life.  Our last day we had a big picnic with Somtam (spicy papaya salad) and as we chowed down some of the kids relayed a story that was horrifying.  The day before a man in a van had appeared in the slum and had taken a young boy.  In Thailand human traffickers often kidnap children from slums, remove their eyes and send them into tourist markets to beg, a story straight out of Slum Dog Millionaire.

When I got home that night I was royally pissed.  How dare they?  How dare he!

In America we often talk of human rights.  Rights that are given to us simply by being born.  Right now we need to take a day where we stop arguing about the right to bear arms or the right to marry who you love and we need to talk about the right to LIFE.  The right to FREEDOM!

The President doesn’t talk about these things, the Supreme Court doesn’t vote.

These men, women and children have been given no voice.  No Hope. No chance.

But right now it’s time.  It’s time for us to rise up and shout THIS IS NOT OK!  No matter how you word it, it will never be OK.

So today I join the End It Movement by marking my hand with a red X.  We are a generation rising up for change.

End It

I’ve already been asked by 2 people why I have an X on my hand. Slavery is real and we are making it known.

So here is my challenge for you.  Spread the word!  Slavery is alive and thriving.  Souls and dreams die everyday.  People are suffering because not enough people care enough to make a difference.  Today use youre resources, your outlets to raise awareness for human trafficking.  Whether it’s a blog, twitter, Facebook, whatever.  Spread the word, pay it forward.  Be In It to End It!

End It

To find out more about the End It Movement visit their website here.


2013: The Year of CHANGE

I’ve officially been home for two weeks now, and I finally feel like I’m starting to get my groove back in my American life. Whew, so glad to finally feel at home again!

And I have to admit, moving back at the end of the year was a pretty great decision.  All drama form my time in Bolivia aside, I love the feeling that comes with the turn of the year.  The hope that new things are possible, and the motivation to make you life what you’ve always wanted it to be.  In this season where new an potentially life-changing decisions are a given in my life’s journey, it’s nice to know that so many others are walking their path to greater lives right along with me.


So, with the start of this new life, I’ve chosen a word that’s going to kind of be my theme word for 2013, and that word is CHANGE.  I guess the word is kind of obvious, I mean my life right now looks nothing like my life did a month ago, but when I sat down to think about what I wanted out of this year the word CHANGE just hung over me.  I feel like there’s going to be a lot of it this year, whether I want it or not, so instead of fighting it I’m choosing to embrace it, and I’m actually kind of excited.

To start with the theme of CHANGE, I’ve made a few changes with the look of my blog, can you tell?  My original theme was centered around my time in Bolivia (I mean, I had llamas on my banner for pete’s sake), but now that I’m back in the states I wanted a new fresh look that I feel like is a lot more “me.”

There’s also going to be some changes in the content of this blog.  While I still intend to write about service experiences when they happen, my blogging will be transitioning from a “missionary blog” to more of a “Life blog.”  For years I’ve admired and been inspired by so many bloggers and at the same time struggled to find my identity in the blogersphere.  I’ve tried to get going so many times, but it’s hard to write blogs about thrifting when you’re living in Bolivia or about traveling when you’re stuck at home.  So, now that I have some stability in my living situation I feel like I can finally blog the way I want to, and in the coming weeks you’re going to see a lot of the new content I hope to introduce here as I attempt to build my readership to a base extending beyond just friends and family (although I love you guys so much!).

Instead of fearing that I need to stay within a “blogger box” this is going to be a place where I write about whatever the heck I want to write about.  There will be some travel, and a lot of just general life stuff, but you’ll be seeing many posts about Project Life, thrifting, cooking and DIYing along the way.

So my dear readers, I’m declaring 2013 as the most epic year of my life yet.  I have to admit, I wasn’t excited about moving back to the US, but I have a feeling great things are in store and I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.