Tough Times

I started this blog with the promise that I would be honest, transparent, and real in hopes that God could use my life and experiences to encourage and lift others up. And yet, over the past couple of months, I've held something back. A big something.

It's no secret that our country is struggling financially. You can't turn on the news without hearing about a rising unemployment rate, foreclosures at a record high, etc., etc. It's everywhere.

I want to tell you that my lack of admission about things in my world is related to not propagating doomsday predictions by those in the world, ignoring the Biblical promises given to the Children called by His name, Christ Jesus. I really want to tell you that and for it to be true.

But it's not.

At least not completely true. It may have started there, but now it has morphed into a much larger beast--a thing that wants to destroy me, my family, my peace, my joy. Withholding this has become an issue of pride. I don't want pity from people. I just want this season to come to an end and to be living in abundance once again. But once pride rears its ugly face, it becomes another battle to fight.

This year has been financially difficult for us. My husband has not lost his job or received a reduction in pay to stay employed, but things around us have gotten more expensive, and we've faced some unexpected expenses along the way. Within a week of each other, our furnace puked and the transmission in our Suburban (we're a family of 6-8 depending on the day) died. We had to make those repairs. And I believe that we did the right thing at the time. We paid cash for those repairs.

But it's had a domino effect on our finances. Since the first domino fell, other surprise expenses have been added to the burden. And although we are in no danger of losing our home, our cars, or paying bills so late that we have to go without the essentials, we've faced giving up cable, internet, and cellphones over and over again.

Add to the pile a new pregnancy (that's going to be expensive) which necessitates finishing the basement renovation now and not later. Insert job concerns when the company my husband has been happily employed by for over 12 years announces a 25% reduction in force.

It's been...overwhelming.

And I've struggled time and time again to remember the promises I have (although at times, I've alternately clung to others):

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33b

The last year of my life has been filled with trouble! It's so easy to see without any effort. We faced cleanup at my mother's house and then moving her across the country. I sat anxiously awaiting the airing of our episode of "Hoarders", not knowing what might come out via editing that wasn't as it should be, and not knowing how people would respond to me after they saw it. I began to provide financial services to my mother, as well as coordinating her medical care all while trying to raise my own six children (almost seven). The words "Mom's Taxi" should be tattooed across my forehead--averaging 8-12 appointments per month for the kids, my mother, and my pregnancy beyond the regular hustle and bustle of family life.

I'm not going to go on and on with the get the idea, I'm sure. We KNOW trouble intimately around here these days.

But we also KNOW the blessings of His promises. The cleanup at my mother's house was nothing short of miraculous! I have to remind myself to go back and remember the walls that we faced, the mountains that seemed insurmountable, the things that SHOULD/COULD have gone wrong. And yet, although I occasionally hit snags in the process, doors were flung open before we even arrived! It was as though each time we had a need, the resource we needed was provided to us as though they were waiting just for us to show up! And in some case, bureaucracy's failure was our blessing!

Because I know the promises and blessings as well as the troubles, I shouldn't be afraid. But I am....err, I have been. The psalmist says it well:

"O LORD, you are my rock of safety. Please help me; don't refuse to answer me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die."-Psalm 28:1

I think that pretty well describes my mood recently. As I stand peering into the fridge, six days before payday and realize that at best, we have four days of groceries left and NO fruits or veggies. Or, as I glance down at the gas gauge, knowing that we have four appointments before payday--some across town--and know that I have enough gas for maybe two appointments.

But the pride part of me doesn't want to admit that it's that bad. It's one thing to push paying "non-essential" bills till the last minute. If the internet goes down, I'll survive. If the cellphones don't work, it'll be okay. But when you start to question if you can feed the kids all week, or if you can drive to all the appointments, things start to get scary.

The pride within me also wants to fix this problem myself. Potential solutions float through the back of my head, "What if I sold this or that? We don't really need them..." or in the case of the job, "If we take the out we have control of what happens..."

But those "solutions" are illusions. I know this. I really do. And still, I am afraid. And then, I flip a couple of pages further in my Bible to Psalm 30 and read:

I will praise you, LORD, for you have rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

O LORD my God, I cried out to you for help, and you restored my health.

You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.

His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.

When I was prosperous I said, "Nothing can stop me now!"

Your favor, O LORD, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to you, O LORD. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,

"What will you gain if I die, if I sink down into the grave? Can my dust praise you from the grave? Can it tell the world of your faithfulness?

Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me. Help me, O LORD."

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Although I have been afraid, I will put on my dancing clothes and prepare to boogie and sing with joy when this season of trouble is over. I will not be silent. I will give thanks to God forever! I can't see how it's all going to work out (I trust that my husband will have a job in a month AND a better schedule although I don't know HOW, and I know that our financial breakthrough is almost here although I can't see it in my bank account yet), but I know that it is going to. It always has.

Perhaps you have been facing similar stuff. If so, I pray that my ability to share encourages you. You are not alone. You are not a failure. And God is ALWAYS faithful! He'll bless you too!


Cheri said…
Are you tithing? I only ask because I know finances for our family always went down hill when we weren't tithing.

Congatulations on the new babe!! It surely will be a new financial hardship but babies are sooo wonderful. At some point you may need to think about not having anymore. If times are hard now they will only get more difficult with more children involved. There are certain things a child needs and if it is hard to provide them than you shouldn't have anymore after this one. Please consider getting your tubes tied. Not trying to sound harsh but sounds like times are and have been difficult for your family financially for some time now.

I will pray for you.

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