Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Financial Fiasco FINISHED!!!!!!!

 "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:22-22

New Beginnings

(I wrote this in January 2022, but for whatever reason never published it. I read it today and knew others needed to know there is hope when it comes to financial disasters. The journey isn't easy and sometimes you will want to give up, but know God is with you and His plan will work if you trust Him.)

This week I have felt God on several occasions prompt me to write. I have had a lot on my mind these past few months. One was this financial fiasco I had created. 
I had my 6-month check-in with the debt consolidation company in December. I was so excited because I knew my debt payoff was around the corner. As we begin speaking about my goals and how things were going I could tell my agent's tone begin to change. Finally, she said I don't even know how to tell you this but you still have a balance. I was stunned, to say the least. (Two things I want to clarify right here: first I didn't check in on my account monthly. If I am honest I have tried to run from this monster more than take it head-on. Second, the statements show payments being made and the amount negotiated but it is a lot of work to figure out your balance, or so I thought.) The agent talked with me for over an hour showing me the dashboard and the simple way to read the amounts being paid out and balances owed. 

I sat in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant with tears falling down my face and wondering if this nightmare would ever end. She explained I had 5 more months of payments left and I would be finished. I don't know what I had said to her to let her know God was my comfort and strength, but she said if you don't mind I want to read a scripture from the Bible to you. I can't recall the verse because I felt the peace of God surround me and I could feel Him saying trust me. I ended that call that day feeling at peace, but with dread to tell my husband the nightmare wasn't over. 

I had set goals in my mind and I wanted them to take place on my timeline. (Sidenote: I know God loves for us to set goals and work for them, but it is very important to understand He sometimes intervenes for His purpose.) This is where God needed me to allow my husband to take care of me. I have been very independent for some time and when it comes to my finances and the mess I created I was VERY adamant I wanted to take care of this on my own. It was very important I  trusted God. Many times God places people in your life to help, but we have too much pride or are too hard-headed to allow help from others.  (I fall into these categories.)

My husband is an analytical man and immediately started stating the costs of me waiting to pay off the remainder of the debt or allowing him to take it from our savings and be done with it. After many tears and arguments about why I should do this on my own, we agreed to use our savings and end this financial fiasco! 

Can I say this has been an easy process? Absolutely NOT! It has been very difficult, but the many lessons I have learned are invaluable! I don't recommend getting into debt to learn how to be financially secure or how to manage money, but if you are in this mess take control NOW and trust God to lead you out of it. He can and will take our failures and turn them into good if we only allow Him to! 

**Side note here** I don't know if taking the consolidation route is the best way. It was what worked for me at the time. I will say WITHOUT a doubt...DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF THEIR LOAN! The interest rate is CRAZY!! I didn't do it, but I am afraid many who are desperate will take this route. Do your homework and research to find out the best method for you. None of them will be fast or easy, but with hard work (2-3 extra jobs) and major cutbacks in your budget, you can and WILL get out of debt!! I am almost 50 and my goal was to be debt free by 50. I still have my student loan, but it is very manageable and goes into my budget. It also has a very low-interest rate. Set a goal and work for it! YOU CAN DO IT! My life verse is: I can do ALL things with God, who gives me my strength!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Financial Fiasco Continues....

I never enjoy writing these posts (if I am completely honest I get physically sick each time I have to face my financial fiasco), but I know through my experiences others can learn and not make the same mistakes I have made. Some have already made financial mistakes, but need to know more about the process of digging yourself out. Side note here: I am NOT an expert on this matter. I can only testify to how I have walked through this process. I am sure there are others that could have done it better than me and are reading this now shaking their heads. I did what was best for me at the time. Most importantly I want you to see that even in the tough times, God is always there for you. He shows up when you need Him the most.

About a year ago I went to one of our local department stores to pick up some makeup. While I was there I headed to the clearance rack to look for any great deals. If you know me you know I am all about clearance racks and thrift store finds. I found an item I loved and the price was great. I headed to the cashier to check out. In order to receive an additional discount, I needed to use my department store card. I have had this card since I was 18 years old. It was my very first credit card. I kept this card because I have always bought things on my department store cards and then paid them off. (It is the big bank cards that I accumulated a large amount of debt. I guess those are the ones you "do life" on. The department store cards are my splurge and I have always been very disciplined with them.)

Anyway, when I ran the card it said it was declined. I knew something was wrong. I very rarely use the card, so I thought maybe that was the issue. I called the company immediately and inquired about my card's status. The first person couldn't tell me anything, but then I was connected to the main customer service person.  The gentleman asked me a series of questions and then we got to the issue. He asked did I know a card through the bank that managed the department store card had not been paid since July. I told him no I did not. I always pay my bills and pride myself on not being late, even when I was struggling the most I would pay something on every bill. He then asked me if by chance had I enrolled in a debt consolidation program. I told him yes. He then went on to explain exactly how these programs work on their end. This is where God shows up big! He was once employed by a debt consolidation company. He could tell I was very distraught that my bill had not been paid. He paused for a moment and said I know this may be difficult to hear, but you are doing the right thing and it will all work out in the end. ( Side note here... he explained to me that even though my debt wouldn't get paid until negotiations took place and until agreements were made no money would be exchanged. I just stood there for a minute realizing what the person from the debt consolidation company had stated about your credit score possibly declining before it would go back up was happening to me.) I was physically sick. I went back to the cashier and told her I couldn't use my card and I would pay cash. She could see I was upset. She smiled and added the discount to my purchase. Then she handed me my bag and said it will all work out. I almost broke into tears right in the store. I could feel God all around me. He had sent people to reassure me at that very moment.

Fast forward to many months later...I am moving along with my debt payments. I get a call from the debt consolidation company wanting to give me a loan to pay off the remainder of my debt (the sales pitch was I could get my credit score up quicker and I had always paid my payment so this "earned" me a loan). I listened to the pitch. I wanted to know what they thought the final settlement would be. Let me say if you are offered this situation DO NOT TAKE THE LOAN!!! This is where people can get into more problems and deeper debt! I had read customer reviews from different consolidation companies where people had talked about loans and how they had ruined their lives. At the time I didn't know anything about loans and none had been offered to me. Thank goodness for my business management background. (I do have knowledge of how this all works. It is crazy how you can step back years later and see your mistakes.) Anyway, the loan terms were absolutely CRAZY!! Something over 20% interest!!!! Look I know most people who get in these situations are on an emotional roller coaster. I get it. There have been many months where I have prayed to have money left in my account until payday (I get paid monthly). I can tell you though those months are where my faith is strengthened even more. God ALWAYS provides. Yes, I have changed my ways of spending years ago and I try very hard to be a good steward of my money. Is it always easy? NOOOO! Life happens and circumstances happen and knowledge goes out the window:(  But I am a stronger person for it. 

Now you want to hear the miracle here? This is where God shows out! Weeks after this offer was made I was gifted some money and was able to put the money on my debt that was consolidated. If I hadn't had the faith and would have given into that loan I would have been out a lot of money. The loan fees were also high and you couldn't turn right around and pay it off. I saved thousands of dollars by knowing God has provided for me this far and He will provide for the rest of the time. Yes if I had to pay on the debt another year, which was the projected date of final payment, I could have done it. 

I still have some debt that wasn't consolidated. I am not sure how it was overlooked in the consolidation process, but by the time I realized it was overlooked, I couldn't add it. This is ok though I will pay it off along with my student loans over the next year. My goal was to be debt-free by 50! I think I can come close to making that goal!! And if I am not it will be ok because God will provide. In the meantime, I am still learning how to make all my finances work to take care of life, but I realize one thing for sure... I didn't go through this to hide behind my shame and fear of what others think. If I can help one person through this horrible process I am glad for my transparency. I still work 2 jobs and probably will for some time. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work two jobs I love and I know God will use my income to bless others along the way. 

We all make mistakes. I am finding more and more of us turn to credit cards when a crisis happens. It isn't the right choice and the consequences are very difficult. If you are walking through a financial crisis now know you are not alone. You may have been put in a situation that you couldn't control either. Don't lose hope! Find a friend to confide in, get help, but most importantly DON'T GIVE UP! We didn't get in this mess overnight and it won't disappear overnight. If it did what would you learn? 

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sticks and Stones....

Ephesians 4:29 NIV Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Words are a powerful thing and today I was reminded how our words can build someone up or tear them down.

I was at our local grocery store this afternoon when I was checking out and the young lady bagging my groceries was not giving her kindest attitude! I mean my items were taking a beating My first instinct was to say something snippy to her about damaging my items, but then I had to stop and think of what might have caused this much aggression to my items. (You see I have worked retail most of my life and still do sometimes on the weekends and summers.) COVID has given a new meaning to working retail. I mean people can be ugly about all these new rules! I get it, it never gives us reason to not give our best to a customer, but we are all human and our bad day turns someone else's day into a bad day. Anyway, I thought I will just pray for these two girls checking me out and bagging my groceries and try to make their day a little bit better. To my joy and excitement, both of them seemed to relax some as I talked and my groceries took less of a beating:) 

I then decided to celebrate my outing with a coffee. Well, these two ladies were also over their day! Their slumped shoulders, facial expressions, and attitudes were all sure signs they were done. I again said a small prayer and tried not to match their tone or feel defeated that everyone seemed to not be happy to help me today. This time it didn't work. My smile or have a great evening wasn't met with anything other than the announcement of my order and a swift turn to the next customer. I know it sounds crazy but I left feeling defeated that I didn't seem to make these girls' day any better. (This is where a side note is necessary: I shop here almost weekly and buy coffee more often than I should. This is not the normal behavior of these employees.) I said a prayer for them as I loaded my groceries into my car. As I turned on the car Zach Williams and Dolly Parton were singing "There Was Jesus." I sat in the parking lot for a moment taking in the words of the song and realized Jesus was there and working even if I couldn't see Him at that moment. It made me think about things going on around me that I can't see.

You see it is sometimes easier to meet animosity with animosity or kindness with kindness, but it takes grace and prayer to meet animosity with kindness. It is a skill I have to pray about often. I am not one to be ugly, but I am human and when I am paying for a service I want a good experience. I have to be reminded that sometimes the animosity I am receiving has nothing to do with me and I am given a chance to allow God to work through me if I just stop and ask Him to take over. We are human and our natural instinct is to lash out when someone lashes out at us or doesn't meet our kindness with their kindness. Sometimes the hidden picture is not for us to know, but we can always leave a situation better than we found it. I am not saying it is easy in fact I don't think it is possible without God taking over and that takes discipline. We must stop and ask God to intervene.

We are living in a time where many are fearful, in fact, downright terrified. We are facing an unknown and for many people, that is asking them to do what they feel is impossible, Trusting God. Let's face it that is a VERY difficult task no matter your relationship with God. But what if you are in a good place today, a place where you are feeling confident in your life? Can't you share that with others? Because tomorrow you may be the one needing to be reassured. I know my emotions have been a roller coaster for the past 8 months! 

This experience reminded me of a saying: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me! THAT IS A BIG FAT LIE!!! I know because I have spent a good portion of my adult life allowing words to destroy me. My experience has allowed me to be mindful of my words. Do I fail? Yes, too often, but I pray for God's words and His wisdom. Today was a reminder to be kinder. To be more understanding. To give love even if I don't receive it. To leave the place better than I found it. Will I always see the immediate response? No! Sometimes I will never know how my response affected a person, but that is not for me to know. God is working through us if we only allow Him to. Can I hope that my positive words can help a person having a bad day have a better day? You bet! It may even mean the customer behind me gets a smile or cheerful greeting. It is called a ripple effect.

Can I challenge you to look around you today, tomorrow, this week, this month, or anytime you are given a chance to give love and give it abundantly? Ask God to work through you. We can't do it by ourselves, but our words have the power to change lives!

Proverbs 16:24 NIV
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

With Great Love,

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Faith or Fear? Part 2

Psalm 27:14 Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord. (GNT)

I have patiently waited weeks, months, for God to place on my heart a new post. I sat here this evening emotionally drained. Fighting the enemy is a tough business even when God is standing in front of you because as always I tend to try to trade places with Him several times throughout the battle (old habits are hard to breakšŸ˜©).

We heard whispers weeks ago about possible travel delays from the infamous coronavirus. Hannes was instructed to email spring break travel plans to the academy. We talked about it, prayed about it, and thought nothing else of it. The next week the voice wasn't a whisper anymore. We were now hearing loud and clear the possibility that travel may or may not be approved. We began to pray for God's will in the situation, understanding we were placing our trust in His hands and accepting His answer. Then this week the text felt more like a shout, so loud I think I lost my hearing for a moment. UAE was closing down all schools for four weeks and all travel in and out of the country was restricted. We were being forced to act obediently on our promise to God and accept His will.

As much as I had promised myself I would be strong for him if we received this news, I failed miserably. I tried so hard to say something, to respond, but tears were flowing down my face and my throat had closed tight. If I tried to talk I am sure it would have been something between a loud croak and shrill cry. He knows me well, and knew I needed a minute to recover from the news. As we began to talk and problem solve we were reminded of our prayers. Our trust in our Father. Trusting His will and accepting it.

Our conversation turned from self-pity to our blessings. We are blessed to be in the situation we are in.  We could have never met and then we would have never experienced all the happiness we have enjoyed. The blessing of the wonderful job he has in the UAE. Our good health, our faith in God, our love for one another. The list went on and on.

Our conversation then turned to the devastation this virus has already caused so many.  Hannes had read earlier that day of an airline in the UK that folded. Thousands of employees were without a job. We thought of the lives lost from the virus and the ones yet to come. We were reminded of the economic impact this virus will have on millions. As we concluded our conversation we agreed we didn't understand any of this, but we trusted God and had to remain faithful and trust Him.

Well, the enemy does NOT like that kind of talk. The enemy doesn't like it when we choose God over fear. He doesn't like it when we choose God over anger. When the enemy sees us turning to God he immediately begins to plot and plan an attack against us.

I sat here today allowing the enemy to attack me. Allowing the enemy to celebrate his successes. All the while begging God to take it from me and yet trying to do it myself!! I told you I am hard-headed!

Finally, I picked up the book we are reading in our Bible study group, Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. I found the chapter we had finished on fear and began reading my highlighted parts again. God knew I would need this later and placed on my heart when I read it to highlight it. Louie states in his chapter on fear:
               "Once we identify the culprit and admit that our unrest is tied to this person or circumstance,  we can off-load those cares to God. We can figuratively place them in our heavenly Father's hands, and we can trust them to his sovereign care. We don't minimize the situation: we maximize our view of the only One we can totally trust. We don't simply deny the problem we are threatened by; we relocate it to the hands of the only One who can manage it well. And we leave it there as we close our eyes to sleep."

Wow! If I could rewrite that again I would just for effect! Powerful!! I don't have to minimize the situation. I just need to trust the only One who can take care of it. The story only gets better though! I was finishing my chapter on comfort and this jumps out at me: "We remember faith thrives in discomfort." Come again? I thought to myself, I need to read that again. How can this be so? I need to be in discomfort to have faith. I sat for a moment and thought about this statement. It makes sense. When we are content and happy we don't need faith to trust. Then Louie continues by stating in Hebrews chapter 11:1 To have faith is the be sure of the things we hope for, and to be certain of the things we cannot see. (GNT) He says this process is never comfortable. That's true, as humans we want to see the future. We want to know our path. We want to be in control.

I sat here for over an hour in silence just listening to the Lord today. Not really understanding any of this chaos. I can say I haven't watched any news or googled any information. I have no control over the circumstance. I can't make it go away or change the outcome, but I can pray and trust my Heavenly Father. I can know He has not brought me through this desert of my past to leave me deserted. His plans are bigger than I could possibly imagine or hope for. I will trust him and place my faith in Him.

Friend, I don't know what fear you are facing today. Sickness, loss of a job, a marriage, a family member, or a friend, but I do know God has us and He will take care of us. He will comfort us in the chaos. I don't have all the answers and I never will. I just want to trust Him and have faith in the things I cannot see. Our road won't always be easy and smooth, but Hebrews 11:1 is a beautiful reminder of what it looks like to step out in faith and trust our Father. Praying in the uncertain times you will place your faith in Him and not allow the enemy to overpower you with fear.

Friday, January 3, 2020

In Times of Adversity

2 Peter 1:3-8 Good News Translation (GNT)

God's Call and Choice

God's divine power has given us everything we need to live a truly religious life through our knowledge of the one who called us to share in his own[a] glory and goodness. In this way he has given us the very great and precious gifts he promised, so that by means of these gifts you may escape from the destructive lust that is in the world, and may come to share the divine nature. For this very reason do your best to add goodness to your faith; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add endurance; to your endurance add godliness; to your godliness add Christian affection, and to your Christian affection add love. These are the qualities you need, and if you have them in abundance, they will make you active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are going to face adversity. We are going to face hills and valleys. We will face the enemy, usually when we least expect it, but this verse in 2 Peter truly sums up how we should face it; with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, Christian affection, and love. Wow! I don't know about you, but I fail often! (at more than one of these and on some days all of these) If I have goodness and knowledge during adversity, I may lack endurance or love. If I have self-control and Christian affection I may lack knowledge or godliness. I have learned none of these are possible without God. I have also learned from a year of reflection, counseling, and immersing myself in God's word I must be disciplined when it comes to facing adversity. You may be asking am I saying I need to be punished and the answer is no. The other form of discipline (having self-control produced by training; in this case training the mind). In the classroom, we teach using mindset training and it works. In order to be disciplined, we must practice our mindset. For me, that has meant stopping and reflecting on God's word before reacting. James 1:19 says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry." (NIV)

I have practiced just the opposite of this rule most of my life. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to talk. There isn't anything wrong with being social, but I have learned I enjoy listening much more and learning. In my past when faced with adversity I was quick to speak, but not listen. I am not one to get angry, but just like anyone when I do it's never good. I have always been one to wear my feelings on my sleeve, take things personally, be the first to get involved in an altercation to try and mend the situation, over-explain my point of view or a situation. None of these traits make life easy and usually always got me into trouble somehow.

I have faced much adversity in the past 25 years. All of it I can say was allowed or caused by me. I didn't take time to listen to God or truth be known I felt I could "help" God or "fix" the problem myself. UGHHHH!!! What a long journey to learning a very valuable lesson!! Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (in my case get involved or get my feelings hurt). I took a break from my blog because I needed time to reflect and listen to God. The beginning of this post was written in October, but I felt with every fiber of my being that God was telling me to save the draft and walk away. I did just that and now have so much more clarity. At the time the adversity was much too personal for me to write about. I know God knew I would make it personal and that is not the intention of this blog, ever!

Life isn't easy. NO one has the easy road ALL of the time. Oh, our social media posts want us to believe we do, but we all know that we only share our highlights, leaving the lowlights in the closet praying no one opens that door. I have said before those should not be aired out on social media, but find Godly people to walk you through difficult times. I am blessed by my prayer warriors daily. Before trusting God and having others pray for me I stressed until I made myself sick worrying about what others thought of me. Knowing when I decided to share this blog I would run head-on into adversity, knowing when I decided to share my personal life I would run into adversity, knowing when I shared my finances I would run into adversity. I didn't know the outcome of any of these events, but I knew God would be there and He would love me and pick me up when I couldn't go anymore. 2019 was not an easy year, but a learning year and boy did I learn!!

If you are like me and have faced adversity or maybe some of you are facing it now, I want to tell you God will get you through and He will teach you if you will let Him. Rest assured we will face adversity and being equipped will help us to get through it.

My takeaways from 2019:

  1.  Always turn to God, for everything! 
  2. Understand we are human and we make mistakes. Ask for forgiveness and learn from those mistakes.
  3. Realize not everyone is going to like you and that's ok. (Boy that was a biggie for me)
  4. Not my circus, not my monkeys! (One of my favs from a coworker and it took me years to adopt this saying. I apply it to circumstances that aren't any of my business (like gossip or someone complaining about something or someone else). My life has been much simpler not sticking my nose where it doesn't belong. 
  5. Realizing I'm the only one that knows the truth about my life (and God) and that is all that matters. 
  6. Pray harder for those that hurt you because it is true that hurt people, hurt people.
  7. Love like today is your very last day and find the good in life. Even when it seems there isn't any left.
  8. Forgive others, even when they don't ask for forgiveness and pray for them.
  9. Enjoy life to its fullest making memories! Spend as much time with those you love. We don't know when God will choose to bring us home. 
  10. Strive every minute (heck every second) of every day to live with goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, Christian affection, and love. The Bible says, "These are the qualities you need, and if you have them in abundance, they will make you active and effective in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Praying in 2020 I can practice what I have learned. I am sure I will forget some of these lessons and have to be retaught again and again. I am only human. I am challenging myself and you (if you want to take the challenge) to build up those around you, not allowing others to steal your joy, and most importantly spend more time listening to God. He will speak to you through devotionals, Bible studies, pastors, sermons, and, my favorite, through mere strangers when you are least expecting it:) I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what God has in store for me this year! I know with Him ALL things are possible!!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Chemotherapy: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

I have sat idle this month and listened to God. I have heard many sermons on forgiveness and patience and thought that would be my post, but tonight as I was getting ready for bed a taste appeared in my mouth that gave me a memory I would love to forget. Chemo memories, nausea, metallic tastes:(

You are probably asking yourself what is she talking about. I could only make my body swallow certain juices when I was sick and going through chemo. The tastes of many liquids made me so sick I couldn't make myself swallow no matter how hard I tried. This past week I have been fighting my yearly kidney infection (yes I seem to get one a year and they are always heck to get rid of) and I have been drinking lots of cranberry juice. Don't ask me why this particular time and this drink sparked that taste, but it is one you never will forget.

Many have asked me my story so here it is: November 2010 I drank three sips of champagne and had the most horrible pain in my chest and neck. I was positive I was having a heart attack. I was scared to death, but soon the pain subsided and I felt light-headed. (Note: there was no phone service where we were and I didn't want to be left alone to find a phone). The next morning I felt fine but decided to call my sister-in-law, (she is an amazing midwife, but that day she was my angel, the reason I breathe, see my children grow older, and enjoy life today). I told her alcohol tried to kill me and I was never drinking it again. She laughed and said alcohol in that amount won't do that, tell me your symptoms. Well, she is our researcher and she started looking up adverse reactions to alcohol. A crazy thing happened, Hodgkin's Lymphoma popped up.

The few weeks up to my first chemo treatment were a blur. Thanks to my sister-in-law following her gut and advising with doctors who advised a CT, we discovered a mass on my heart. (the reason the pain was so intense on my heart) Now don't go researching my stats because I am not a stat person. If I remember correctly my oncologist said only 2% of patients with Hodgkin's have this reaction and 98% of them are positive for Hodgkin's. We moved like lightening from doctor to doctor, test to test and all I can tell you is our amazing God gave me peace only He could provide.

I had a partial sternotomy (I will talk about this miracle surgery another time), port placed in my chest, and began my six-month journey of 12 rounds of chemotherapy. People asked me, did you have options. Yes, I did...fight like crazy!! That was my option, my only option. I had a Kindergartener and Fourth grader and they needed their Momma.

That amazing sister-in-law I spoke about stayed out of work and drug me from doctor to doctor. Holding my hand, as I almost broke hers, while the oncologist performed a bone marrow biopsy, sat with me during my first chemos, talking me through each step, all the way to the end. I can't tell you what ABVD stands for, but she can. I can't tell you their side effects, but she knew. I didn't know they made numbing cream for my port, but she did.

Every step became a fight, a competition for me. If I am honest I didn't think I could ever recover from the initial surgery, but I did. Did you know you use your sternum when you pee? (just a humorous, or painful, sidenote there) I spent days pacing my hallway repeating, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." I know I said that verse thousands of times over the 6 months. I am just a bit stubborn and hard-headed(ha!ha!) and don't like pain meds. Well, I would sometimes wait until the pain was crazy before I would take meds and that never turned out good. I was so proud when ibuprofen became my friend and nothing stronger was needed. (TAKE YOUR PAIN MEDS AS NEEDED!!)

So to the saved my life for sure, but I am sure the after-effects of it harmed parts of me too. I can only imagine what is in that stuff. My first few chemos were rough. I lost 16 pounds in a little over two weeks (I am not a person that needed to lose that much weight) and truthfully told God this task is going to be impossible and I can't do it! Chemo is calibrated to your weight and they don't like to have to redo it. I was told to eat anything and everything I could keep down. I did too on my good days, but somewhere after my third or fourth chemo I became severely constipated. I BIG no-no with chemo!! I literally could feel the poison burning my insides. The pain was crazy!! (Note to anyone out there reading this and going through chemo now, take the Miralax or whatever they give you). I ended up with my precious second Momma taking me to the chemo lab where they hooked me up to a morphine drip all day and the pain barely subsided. I woke up to see her on her knees praying and crying as I was near screams from the pain. Anyone who knows me knows my pain tolerance is very high. This was a crazy kind of pain, pits of hell kind of pain. (If you are having stomach pains with chemo talk to your doctor. Nexium truly saved my life!!)

I was determined to work during my treatments. I truly think we as humans must have a purpose in life. For me, my purpose was my students. I missed them so much when I wasn't teaching. They gave me joy. The wonder and pure love from them were healing. After chemo number two my hair was falling out in clumps. That is a very emotional time or it was for me. I remember being in the bath and my second Momma coming in to check on me and I was sobbing. There was literally hair floating all in the bathtub and stuck all over me. She knelt and begin scooping up handfuls and taking a washcloth and removing the stuck pieces of hair from my body (by the way modesty goes out the door when you are experiencing the wrath of cancer). She took care of me and reassured me my hair would come back. My hair had always been one of my best assets and the emotional aspect of losing it was more difficult than I imagined. The following day we decided to have a shaving party and shave my head. It was so liberating!! I think I could totally rock being bald! My showers were cut in half, no clogged drains, no nicks from razors, and no 20-minute blow-drying. The greatest gift was the day a student asked me to go bald at school and not wear a scarf. I said I would think about it. I am only human and was nervous about being bald. Do you know the following day those sweet babies went all morning and never even realized I was without a scarf? One student raised his hand and said you look good with no hair. The others were oohing and aaahing over the fact they had just realized I was bald! It was such a beautiful gift from God! I started only wearing scarves out and not at home and sometimes I even went out without one:)

I could literally write a book on my experiences (who knows maybe I will one day), but I can tell you this: whether you are facing cancer, another health issue, lost job, broken marriage, disobedient child, or just a tough life, know the one truth, the one constant is our Lord and Savior. Without Him, we are nothing and can accomplish nothing without Him. Cancer was a season, it was a chapter of my life that I am honored to have walked through. I am the person I am today because of it. Do I want to do it again? Absolutely not!! Would I? Of course, as many others have. Cancer is like anything else we face in life, it allows us to lean into God and trust Him to get us through. Don't give up! Know He loves you and no matter what you are facing, you can and WILL get through it!

"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

**sidenote: There is so much I haven't touched on. If you are going through cancer and I can help in anyway please reach out to me. I am praying for each of you in your fight! You CAN do ALL things through Christ!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Financial Fiasco: Working Toward a Solution

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”—Luke 14:28–30

A plan must be in place to work your way out of a financial fiasco. I have been working on this plan for some time now and praying for God's will. I apologize for not keeping you updated. 

First I feel I must address something many have probably trip this summer to Greece and Italy. Well, I did make a plan for that and continued to not plan on the other finances in my life. I knew I wanted to take my daughter somewhere amazing for her senior trip. I started planning and working extra the April a year before her trip (yes, I saved and paid on this trip over a year to make it happen). It took much planning and hard work (which I will write on very soon) to budget for this trip and make it happen. Yes, I could have used that money to pay down my debt. Remember those memories I talked about in April. I would work three jobs to make the memories we made on this trip. It has literally changed my life too:)

Before the trip in June, I knew I wanted to get a plan in place for myself and set a very firm budget to get my debt paid off as quickly as possible. I talked about several options with my family and none of them seemed to be a good fit. I had contacted several companies about debt consolidation, not liking any of the options presented (thank goodness my first degree is in Business Management because some people will try to talk you into crazy things and I know just enough to know crazy) One day a co-worker shared with me how they consolidated their debt and how it had worked for their family. In the meantime, another friend and I had a very long conversation one night about their debt and the method they were using. 

Then one of the companies I had contacted called me about some options. I listened and told him I would pray on these options and call them back the following day. I loved the fact he was a Christian also and encouraged me to do just that. I told him I would not be pushed into a decision. I also researched the company online for hours. For the first time I had a peace about my options.

The following days set into place my journey to finally getting a plan and paying off my debt. With anything you do in life not pleasing to God, there are consequences to your actions. So before you think this is a utopian way to freedom, it isn't. I chose to pay my debt back, not dissolve it. The method in which I will pay it back means not using my cards (that is a great thing). It also means my credit score won't remain as great as it once was. I was super happy about this one! You are probably asking at this point am I crazy. No, I feel like I don't need to be using a credit card. Therefore not being able to get one is great! I was able to choose one card to keep and a small credit line in case there ever was an emergency while I was away from home and needed to use it. 

Let me tell you something at this point in my story...I am not a financial guru giving out financial advice. I am an everyday person who has made bad financial decisions and am doing what works for me to dissolve it. With that being said I have sought advice from some of the financial gurus and to be honest unless you are making great money and live like you are below poverty level most of the plans won't work for most of us literally drowning in debt from multiple accounts. I am not saying you shouldn't sacrifice, because you should. I did listen to one financial advisor online who seemed completely real to me! He said there isn't a one size fits all way to work your way out of debt. What works for one, may not work for another. He stated he was always very careful not to dismiss certain solutions and never make a person feel like they are at a dead end. I love that!

My humble advice for you if you are drowning in debt is FACE IT!! That is the hardest part!!! If you are married, set down as a couple and figure out everything you can cut out and if you can make headway paying off one card at a time. If you are like me and that wasn't working for you and you have cut expenses as much as possible look into ways that will work for you as a couple. If you are single (parent or not) find an accountability partner. I am not an expert by any means, but I will be happy to hold you accountable. 

Our debt DOES NOT define who we are as people and NO ONE should tell you otherwise. We are ALL sinners and I promise you the one pointing the finger needs to take a LONG look at his/her life and their sins. Digging out of any hole or hold is never easy, but I promise if you make the effort God will open the doors. I would not do anything different in my circumstances. I have learned much I can share with others and I am still learning. The enemy tries to make us believe we are failures, but we are not. We may fall, but we can get back up. 

I am praying for you my friend! Get a plan and stay on the path:)