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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That Moment Everything Starts Feeling Very Real

I’ve never been the homesick type.  Not to say leaving home is always easy for me but the separation just isn’t that hard.  I mean I do have my moments where I rather be home than anywhere else, birthdays, holidays….

Like the first Christmas I ever spent away from home.  I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  With the time difference between there and the west coast the time when my family was all getting together to celebrate fell at about 6am Thailand time (the day after Christmas). Despite the early hour I resolved the get up and Skype with them, I’d never missed Christmas and this was huge for me.

I remember bawling when the internet at our guesthouse failed, tears continuing to run down my cheeks as I wandered the streets of Chiang Mai in my pajamas trying the find an internet cafe that was open, and I did, thankfully, and only got one funny look.

That was the first time I really truly felt homesick, a horrible ache that fortunately didn’t last long.

So why do I tell you this?

Because I am having a severe case of separation anxiety right now.  Homesickness without having even left home.

Did you know that this is the longest period I’ve spent at home, in Seattle, since graduating college 11 years ago? One year, 7.5 months.  And if I’ve learned nothing else from my time at home it’s that the longer you stay in one place the harder it is to leave it.

And what’s funny is I’ve probably said “I can’t wait to get out of here” (“here” being more specifically my parents house) at least 2 dozen times over the past 6 months alone, but now that I’m faced with the reality of departure in only 3 short days, I’m beginning to mourn what I leave behind.

Possibly it’s because the future is so full of uncertainty.  The present, while not preferable on most accounts is definitely comfortable.  I have a family I can rely on, friends to hang out with, a church family I can serve with….

But in a few short days those all melt away.  As I stand on the deck of the MV Columbia and wave goodbye to Washington I’ll be waving goodbye to all I know and love for an uncertain amount of time.  While there will definitely be visits seeing as how I’ve spent 2 Christmases away from home now and that’s more than enough to last a lifetime, my life will no longer be in Washington, at least for this season.

I know that once I reach Soldotna, start settling in and creating a new life this sadness will fade away, it always has before and God always provides for me, but for now, it aches.

There is a bright side though.  It’s kinda like when you’re physically injured and people try to tell you that the pain is good because at least it means you’re not dead. This pain is good too, because it means I have something really good to come back to one day.

And on a final note can I just say Praise the Lord for things like FaceTime, Skype and even cell phones.  I can’t imagine what this separation would have been like 20 years ago.  Technology is making the world smaller and smaller everyday.


Ok now that I’ve gotten all those emotions out I wanted to just share some pictures from this summer, highlighting some of those things that are so hard to leave behind (get ready, this is about to get photo heavy!).

We’ll kick things off here with the 4th of July.  July 4th has always been a big deal for my family.  I grew up on a dead end street so all the neighbors would get together, BBQ and light off fireworks for hours, it was awesome!  Now, while personal fireworks are illegal most place around us, we live in a little unincorporated sliver, meaning there are no rules governing fireworks, and EVERYONE knows this so they come to our neighborhood and have a good ‘ole time.  This means our fireworks with friends/neighbors tradition gets to continue and we get to enjoy a pretty stinken big fireworks spectacular without ever having to leave our driveway.

Here’s my sweet niece Ellie rocking her Seahawks shirt and a huge sparkler, followed by my little sis Emily, her guy Richard and my soon-to-be nephew Ezekial 🙂

4th of JulyYay for fireworks!

4th of July

4th of July

Then one day in July my Moms family all gathered together at my grandparents house to eat dinner and watch old films from when my grandparents were younger…

But first let me just say that my Grandparents have some of the prettiest hydrangeas in town


My sweet grandma


The whole watching films thing turned into a bit of a debacle, mostly because no one could figure out how to set it up


Eventually we got it rolling, but we had to hand crank the bottom roll and after 5 minutes it started melting!… So we switched to slides instead and that seemed to work better


Next up came the birthday parties.  A lot of times in my family it can take us awhile to get together so we end up rolling multiple b-days into one.  This one included 4 in total: Both my aunts, mine and my cousins daughter Sammy.

Here’s Ellie and Sammy playing in the river


And when they got done playing in the water they decided to pick Huckleberry’s instead, yum!


I played a little next to the river too, with my camera that is.  Selfie time!


And then there’s always cake of course.  My aunt and I shared a cake this year because honestly no one needs 4 cakes… well maybe sometimes you do 🙂


I of course couldn’t leave Washington without getting up to my mountain (aka Mt. Rainier) one last time, so I took a couple of the girls from my youth group up hiking at Sunrise.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

And then came my last day at work.  My co-workers were incredible and blessed my socks off as I left.  I’ve only been gone for a week so far, but I’ll admit, I’m a little sad not getting to work with them everyday.  There are some really cool ladies right here.

Last day

This is Tracey, our lone Chinese agent.  I called her my Chinese mom.  This sweet lady has done some awesome things in her life!

Last day

Yep, I’m definitely going to miss them

Last day

And finally I leave off this post not with something I’m sad about leaving behind, but with something that makes me excited about my future.

At the beginning of July I got a chance to volunteer for Seatac Airports Tri-Annual Drill (TRIACE) and it was incredible!  I played one of 300 victims of a plane crash (they even had a whole backstory).  This was the largest drill of its kind ever done on the west coast and involved close to 200 emergency personal and even helicopters!

I made sure that I got there early enough in the morning to get one of the good (aka worst) injuries.  See, triage essentially has 4 stages, Black= dead or will die, Red= Needs to get to a hospital ASAP, Yellow= Needs to go to a hospital but can wait and Green= Not hurt or minor injuries.  My injury was in the red level and I had burns on my face, arm, neck and chest.  When we got there they gave us costumes and makeup to wear.  Mine involved this prosthetic burned chest piece that was definitely made for a guy as well as a t-shirt with the whole front burned away.  It’s a good thing I wore a tank top that day or I would have been showing a lot more than I cared to!

Here’s a glimpse of what it looked like.  My cellphone is lame and only has a rear facing camera so this is the best I could do.

Seatac DrillOnce the drill started they shuttled us all to the north end of the third runway and we all spread out on the tarmac around a training plane that the port has.  Thankfully it was the morning an not to hot yet otherwise I would have gotten a decent and patchy sunburn!

Once the drill began I felt like everything went really quickly.  Firefighters first got everyone that could walk away then came around  and tagged everyone with their triage level.  According to the description on a little card I got I could only sob in pain and say “I don’t know” to any questions asked (and not walk).  I’m not the best actress but I think I was pretty convincing.

This was my first experience on a backboard and my first experience in an ambulance, and it got me super stoked to become a paramedic.  Seriously guys, it’s going to be an awesome job.  It was also my first experience being interviewed for the news, although I didn’t make it on because of all the wildfire coverage going on at the time.  Oh well.

Here are a couple pictures I snagged from the write up the Seattle PI did about the event.  If you want to see more you can find it here.

I picked out this first one because I’m in it… barely haha.  If you look at the firefighters arm pointing and then work your way up to the first person laying down sideways, ya, that’s me.  I’m pretty famous now 😉


*Photo from the Seattle PI


*From the Seattle PI

You can also find more pictures from a different perspective on the Btown Blog here.  Every airport is required by the FAA to do a drill every three years, so if you get a chance to do one at your local airport I totally recommend it, and let me just say our emergency team were rockstars.  God willing they will never need to come together for an emergency like this, but if they do everyone will be in good hands.



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!