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:)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Stars or Dots?

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15 The Message (MSG)

9-11 God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.
13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

I never know when an idea for a post will come to me, but when they do I usually get a tingly feeling. You know that feeling that goes through your body like a small electric shock? Then a nudging to write about whatever the topic is.

This exact feeling transpired last Friday in my classroom while we were reading a book called You Are Special by Max Lucado. This story has a sweet lesson.  I love having the students listen to the story and then recording all the attributes that make them special.

While we were listening to the story (keep in mind I have heard this story many times) a certain part of the story stood out to me on this particular day that made me sit up and pay attention. The Wemmick's maker Eli is telling the main character why he is special, Eli said,  "" Oh, you don't have to defend yourself to me, child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think." "You don't?" "No, and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They are Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn't matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special."

Wow!! We are eager to judge others and others are eager to judge us, but why? In this short paragraph, Max Lucado does a beautiful job of summing up God's thoughts on this matter. He tells us we should not worry about others' thoughts, only His. Yet we find ourselves in situations where we are consumed by the thoughts of others. So much so it cripples our ability to be ourselves. To shine.

That people pleaser thing I talked about a while back feeds on this type of thought process. We tend to strive for stars, but the dots beat us down, so much so we tend to hide or cower in a corner. God doesn't want His children to feel this way. He wants us to put our trust and faith in Him and Him alone. We are all humans. We are sinners. We fall short every day!! When we begin to look to others for validation we are disappointed because one day we can get a star from that person and the next day we get a dot. Our emotions and self-worth are skewed.

On the other end of the spectrum, we much realize our actions and words harms others (our giving of stars and dots). Whether it's a friend, family member, or co-worker we need to remember our job is to build them up, accept them for who they are, love them (even the sandpaper ones), and pray for them. Our job is not to give out stars or dots. We are not worthy enough to earn that title, yet we so gladly take it on. We are to accept others for who they are and love them and pray for them, not judge them or gossip about them or make them feel bad about themselves.

I am challenging myself (maybe you want to do the same)  to listen to God's voice. To put my faith in Him and Him alone and to build up those who are so eager to be the ones to hand out the dots. Let me ask you this in you live only for the stars others give or feel like a complete failure when someone throws dots freely at you or do you lean into God and listen to what He has to say about your worth? My friend God says YOU ARE SPECIAL!!