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Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Hand of God

Watching the hand of God work is an amazing thing to witness, no matter if he's working in your life or another. There have been several times in my life where I KNEW, without a shadow of doubt, that God was moving and orchestrating big events in our life. I have experienced exactly that kind of movement this past week.

First, thank you so much for those of you who have been praying for our family.

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

The evening of my last post we found out Vaughn was going to keep his job. Halleluiah! Answered prayers? Absolutely.

The past month, the church we have been visiting has been doing a series on finances called "Broke." It's been very fitting and relevant for where we are right now. I have to say, Vaughn and I have both learned so much about what God expects of us through our finances. I think one of the huge realizations for us was that our money is not ours, it's God's. This one really hit Vaughn hard, and as the head of our household, he felt greatly convicted. We have always been "givers" to the church, but have never made an effort of give a monthly/weekly tithe. I was elated that God put this on Vaughn's heart as something we should make a priority.

Vaughn wrote his 10% tithing check and I gave 10% of my side business proceeds on January 29th. We rarely have enough to cover our expenses as it is each month, but this wasn't as scary as it sounds. Actually, it didn't cause us any stress at all.
Trusting God...

We also decided to quit using our credit cards. Every month when things didn't add up, it's the first place we went...automatically. We decided we needed to stand on our own two feet and give God room to work in our finances. This part was a little more stressful for us. Money in does not equal money out. But, we are following God's lead, trusting, and giving him room to glorify himself through us.

Ready for it? Because it's really amazing.

This month my etsy store sales have sky rocketed. I went from 3 orders/month for the past 3 months to 22 ORDERS and COUNTING JUST FOR THIS MONTH. And the month is not over, people! I am booked 4 weeks out, and even have orders coming in for March, April and May.That's a lot of cookies! It is more than the difference between income in and income out.

Oh, but then of course, Murphy' Law step in.

Last week, my car decided it needed a new transmission. A $2100 transmission. This, of course, right after we swore off using our credit cards. How were we going to pay for a $2100 transmission? Credit? It didn't take long to decided, we just weren't going to get it fixed until we had the money (there goes my tooth money, I thought!). We would trust God...that he would allow us a way to get where we needed to get and do what we needed to do.

I rationalized that lots of families are a one car family and they somehow make it work. The biggest hurdle was how we were going to pick up Asher from preschool 3 days a week, but we trusted something would work out, even if we had to ask for help from friends and family.

Just a few hours later, we had a family member offer us a loaner car they weren't using. Wow! I was elated. Look how God works when you let him.

When the loaner car arrived the next day, the title to the car was brought with it and handed over to us. Are you following me here? Someone was GIVING us a keep...and folks, it is definitely an upgrade from what I've been driving. I have never been so shocked in my entire life...there were some major tears of joy. Now, a car if a HUGE gift and we aren't really sure if we can even accept something that major, but the offer is there.

I have more.

We filed our taxes this weekend so we could have the refund money to fix my car. We were praying it would be enough to get the car fixed, even if we had to add in the money I had been saving to get my tooth fixed.

Our return was more than 3.5 times what it was going to cost to fix the car. Enough to fix the car, fix my tooth, pay off Maryclaire (you know, our debt from her birth) and put some away in savings.

This not even the kind of stuff you can make up. This is definitely not the kind of stuff that happens to us. This is not luck. None of this is by our accord, but by the grace and glory of God.

I am reminded of his glory, his power, his provision...especially when you trust and obey Him...when you allow him room to work in your life, even the areas you think are beyond his reach. They're not.

In the words of my 4.5 yr old, "God can do anything, Mommy. Anything He wants."
Amen, and Amen!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bueller? Bueller?

I've been taking an accidentally-on-purpose break from blogging.
I'm busy. Incredibly busy with a business I can't keep up with.
I'm distracted. Oh so distracted.

And I'm about to get very REAL.

Blogging is usually that sunny picture of how grand life is, and while it is very grand, there are some very real life things our family has been going through.

This might become the skeletons out of the closet post. It's about the hardships, the struggles and the blessings that currently consume our life.

It also might be the longest post I've ever written. So, bear with me. Skim if you must.

I'll start with the business that is growing in way I never imagined. Back in November, I opened an Etsy store to sell my cookies. In the past two months, it's become more than I can handle...literally, I turn down a handful of orders each month b/c I am a one woman operation and I just can't do it all. Blessing? Absolutely! I have prayed for a means to help make ends meet in our finances and God is opening doors and windows in a way I NEVER imagined.

But, in this is also a struggle to balance family. I am consumed by work...and working from home while also caring full time for two tots is enough to send even the strongest woman to the loony bin. I find myself obsessing over what I need to get done during naps, after the kids go to bed, and any time in between when I can steal a moment away from them.

I've cried in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot b/c I'm just so overwhelmed.

I DO feel like my mom/wife duties are taking a backseat and that's tough for me. Stressful. Guilty. But, it's keeping us a float.

I've taken maybe 15 pictures of my kids the past month and 150 of cookies of I've made. And that speaks volumes.

Why you may wonder am I taking on so much business if staying home with my kids is my number one priority?

And the answer is simple: Finances.

To say things have been tight is an understatement. And to be even more real, it is a real possibility my husband might not even have a job at the end of this month. It's incredibly scary.

We are trusting God....that he has already walked this for us.

Finances. I know everyone has to deal with this on some level, and maybe someone else reading this can identity with our struggle.

I currently have $1200 worth of dental work that I need to get done and no dental insurance.

Last year after Maryclaire was born, when things really started to get tough, we found ourselves not being about to make the $250/month payment to the hospital for her birth (our insurance sucks....$6,000 deductible b/f anything besides well care is covered). And now, I owe a collection agency over $2,000. We make a joke out of it around our house, but in reality, it makes me want to cry.

I've lost nearly 20 lbs this past year, unintentionally. At my well visit a few weeks ago, my Dr. chalked it up to hormones leveling out after pregnancy. I am usually a "have to work at it" kind of girl to maintain a 130lbs....which is a normal weight for my 5'6 frame. While I not complaining about being so thin, it's a little worrisome. Stress? Thyroid? I'm getting some bloodwork done soon, but I have to wait a bit longer so my Dr. can code it under my well visit and it not come out of my pocket.

Did I mention I got the flu 2 weeks ago. I was flat on my back in bed for two whole days and my hubby had to take two days off of work to care for the kids. While it was a BIG eye opener for him to have complete responsibility of the kids, there couldn't have been worse timing.

$15,000 worth of credit card debt. That's what we've racked up this year buying groceries and gas.

You might think we live too extravagantly. We don't. My kids wear clothes from consignment, Vaughn's last work clothes came from Goodwill, even the kid's Christmas presents were second hand this year. They definitely didn't notice, and I'm so glad they're too little to right now to know the difference.

We actually laughed out loud when we got Vaughn's W-2 in the mail a few weeks ago. His job as a commission only financial advisor is rocky. But, it's one of those jobs where it could change in a heartbeat if he came across the right client (you know, one that had lots of money he was willing to invest-ha!). We always try to think "it will be better next month."

Inhale. Exhale. Deep breaths. Trust the Lord.

If I'm sounding ungrateful, forgive me. It's not how I mean to come off. In fact, I'm incredibly excited about my new business ventures. It's all I can talk about with my husband when he gets home from work.

But, it comes at a great cost and I can't shake the feeling I am stealing time from my family.

So, you see how it might be hard for me to sit down at the computer to blog about how funny and perfect and fabulous our life is, to maintain an image of some "do it all and do it fabulously" mom.

Because lately at the end of the day, I just don't have the energy to even pretend things are all rosy.

And I have a feeling, I might regret this post later. BEING REAL IS HARD. But, I'm a heart on my sleeve kind of girl. And I pray God can use my struggles to glorify HIM and maybe even help others...only if it's just knowing they're not alone in their struggles.