The entire year related to 2013 has been tumultuous and challenging. The obstacles really began in October 2012, just a month after I launched my new radio program, Blooming Inspiration Radio. I got sick with what had become a regular spring and/or fall occurrence in my life… A very severe case of Upper Respiratory Infection coupled with Acute Bronchitis.
I literally stayed in bed or on the couch for four weeks. I had absolutely no energy and most of the time I could not talk, laugh or even move around for very long without breaking into horrible fits of coughing that caused my muscles to be sore and my head to throb. Miserable doesn’t seem a sufficient description for how I felt.
I made a couple of shows during those four weeks, but mostly I went into the studio and did the show and returned home to bed. On the weeks I did not do the show… I stayed home in bed and ran an archive. (A less-than-a-month old archive to boot.)
By Thanksgiving I felt better and the Holidays were full of family, fun and rewarding experiences. January came in and I felt like I had found a normal pace again ready to attack the new year with verve and vigor. We sent Brittany off to Oklahoma City for her new life as an Next Generation Intern at Church of the Harvest I continued to do my radio shows and shortly after Valentine’s Day it happened again. My health suffered terribly and I got that “creeping crud” doctors call Upper Respiratory Infection with Acute Bronchitis again.
At this point, defeat had a heavy grip on my heart and mind. I once again paid to air archives of recently aired shows and felt like I had been spinning my wheels a bit. So… I jumped ship, or Fishbowl, and cancelled my show.
We were borrowing money from family to pay unexpected bills, and trying to stay afloat while I tried to make it work as an artist and communicator. Still, nothing would take off… It could not. In March we experienced several financial setbacks with Scott’s income. Which pressed me back into unhealthy patterns of pretense and fearful reactions. I honestly thought telling the truth would be admitting I had failed – and in some ways I had. Telling the truth about our situation would have set us free and opened us up to the help we needed. Instead only a few people very close to us knew the truth and everyone else knew very little of how we were unraveling at our financial seams. On top of all this… My back issue resurfaced and I began treatment with additional expenses attached that sidelined me for several weeks.
By the time the expired payroll tax cuts, loss of dependents and Scott’s new union contract negotiations were over our finances were Overdue and Overcommitted. We filed for bankruptcy at the end of April realizing we were about to lose everything. Our mortgage contract with the owner of our home stipulated a bankruptcy filing would immediately put us in default. So our monthly payment increased $500 a month and we had no budget for that. Through the next three months (Summer) we had to address the fact that we could really no longer afford our house payment. We had been paying more than 50% of our income for our housing costs including utilities and could not continue to sustain that level of spending on this necessity.
We went on a vacation we had committed to (but could not afford) before all the mess started without telling anyone what was happening. And carried on life as usual… Hoping for something, perhaps a miracle in our denial. Through our lawyers and the courts we finally came to terms with the fact that we were going to lose our home. So in September we loaded up all our belongings in storage and at 9:00 pm on a rainy September evening called my parents and I lied about why we needed a place to stay. Yes, you read that right. I lied.
Fear had a hold of my heart and Scott, feeling equally defeated, asked me to call them. In all truth, the last place I wanted to go was home to my family and admit I had failed again.
So we did it. We went to my parents and Scott went along with my lie not wanting to betray me but telling me I had to come clean. I couldn’t do it. I felt all that old stuff come up inside of me – the stuff that said I was less than and if they really knew they’d throw us out and I just held off until the inevitable happened. Someone noticed our house was for sale.
Then we had to come clean and over the next few weeks I had to face those demons I had been wrestling with in the dark regarding my own self worth, failure and my family’s opinion of me. I will not say it has been easy, but it has changed me in big and small ways. My parents did not reject us but required us to come up with a plan and lovingly held us to it.
My family has begun to recover from the painful reality we forced upon them with my choices and our circumstances. Our relationships are healing and normalizing. Life is improving…
We began looking for a place to rent in February, but once again fear rose up and pushed against me. Perhaps I let pride have its way as well. Struggling to call and make appointments to go and look and talk to people about renting property. I started looking very small. One and two bedroom places which would have required us to have additional storage payments for all our stuff.
At one point, I heard God whisper… “You’re thinking too small.”
I had a number in mind of what our rent should be to keep our house and utility payments under 25% of our income. We moved past our deadline of March 31st and my parents made it clear we needed to make our move. They were pushing us out of the nest so to speak. So we set aside one Saturday afternoon and went to Chik-fil-a with my iPad and a local newspaper. We went through the “Houses For Rent” section with a marker circling everything we agreed sounded like it would accommodate our needs and meet our price. After we circled all of them, I handed Scott the paper and we marked out all the ones that we felt we should not contact. We finished our lunch and went out to the truck. Scott called each of the numbers for our remaining selection. We ended up looking at three properties that day.
The first appointment set for 1:00 pm but we drove out collecting phone numbers and looking at other places we’d called about. We arrived at the property at 12:30 pm (a little early). Another family had arrived to look but made the walk through and quickly left saying they would call if they were interested. We stayed and talked to the owner.
We told the truth.
We shared about our bankruptcy and income. I even told him about our desire to have a specific rental payment. He asked us to put up $200 while he checked our references on the application. We did so the next day and a week later had an appointment to sign a year lease on what I now call #theCreativeCottage.
We signed the lease on the following Tuesday and began moving in on Wednesday. We live in a 1500 square foot home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It is larger than the home we lost and will allow enough space for me to continue to work an office in our home, my art room and a spare bedroom.
In the months we’ve been here I’ve spent my time volunteering and connecting at the church my parents attend. It is our church. We joined just after the first of the year when we settled on staying here rather than moving back to the metroplex. Today, in just a few hours I have an interview at the church for a part time position which will provide us with extra income and will also allow me the time I need to continue to pursue my radio show and other interests in creative expression.
It has been a difficult and challenging year since filing bankruptcy last spring. Yet today, in this place and season… I feel so blessed, peaceful and ready to face the next set of challenges more equipped and ready to overcome than I have ever been. My relationship with my husband and my parents is much stronger and we are making a fresh start. In four years we will be completely debt free – that is a good feeling. We ask for agreement in prayer today… That we would remain focused on God’s will and plan and stay the course He has guided us to in these last few months.
It has been months since I first drafted this post. And the story begs to be told. So tonight… as I sit and read through the last year of our journey I feel a little lift in my spirit as I get ready to hit post. The post script to this little tale is I received the position at the church and spend most of my free time dreaming of how to reach the hurting and wounded among us with the life changing message of Jesus and begin the process of helping them get healthy and walk out what it means to be a committed disciple and disciple-maker. Next week, I’m teaching hearing God in a Relationships class at our equipping arm, StoneWater U. This is probably the most fun I’ve had in my life. The work is tiring and filled with spiritual warfare, but God is so faithful and He provides for everything He requires of us. We are indeed blessed. So blessed.
May His peace cover you as His presence meets your every need.