Tag Archives: change

A Step

I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for nearly 5 years now.  I’ve worked part-time for my church for almost 4 years.  Both of these things hold a dear place in my heart.  Though I’m pretty comfortable with change, the thought of losing either of these things makes me feel a little anxious.  They all feel like my babies, things I need to keep a close watch over and care for daily.

Two good friends of mine decided to plant a new church in Greenville, SC 4 years ago.  Let me tell you – church planting is not for wimps.  Sunday comes every week without fail.  The church started with a relatively small amount of money to get it off of the ground.  Through the grace of God, a lot of hard work from the 3 of us and a good many other staff members that have come and gone, this church has grown to around 160 from 17.

We started out in a local high school auditorium, having children’s classes in the dressing rooms and music rooms just adjacent to where we held service.  There were some challenges that came with this location  – questionable air conditioning/heat temps, locked doors, students who helped themselves to some of our supplies and the arduous task of packing and unpacking EVERYTHING from week to week.  The school district made the decision to no longer rent their spaces to churches, so we had to leave – and fast.

This took us to a local (struggling) church who allowed us to use their building in the evenings.  This was better.  A step in the right direction.  It at least LOOKED like a church, though not at ALL what we would choose had it been our space.  We were still packing and unpacking each week, but it was better.  But, it still wasn’t home.

Finally, we found a space to rent in Greenville that we could afford.  It was small (about 3200 square feet, I believe), but we knew we could make it “Edgy” and we could plant some roots.  We stepped forward again.  What a difference it has made to be able to put our brand on the look and feel of the building.  We’ve been there a year and a half and are already outgrowing all the space we have available to us.  Now we’re looking at our next step.  And it’s a big one.

There’s a church for sale.  It’s huge.  23000 square feet across 3 buildings with a huge parking lot and a good amount of land.  The owners have agreed to lease us the building until we can afford to purchase it at a rate that we can afford, with all the rent going towards the purchase price.  And, they are willing to hold the note for us.  It’s a dream…a miracle…a God thing.  We’re moving forward.  We’re taking this step.  Particularly because I’ve been there nearly every Sunday since the very first one, this is so exciting to me.

But this story isn’t just about a church.  It’s also about me.  And about our home.

For those of you who have read and tolerated my whinings on this blog, you know that my home is in foreclosure. We built it on an acre of land that was a gift from my grandfather.  This past March marked 2 years since we have been able to make a house payment.  We are now over $30,000.00 behind.  Getting to this point was a very slippery slope, that once your feet hit, turning back in the least was nearly impossible.  Missing one payment is reasonably recoverable, but at 3 months behind, we attempted to make a single payment.  This payment was returned to us with a letter that stated their policy (and I’m paraphrasing here): We don’t allow you to be more than one month delinquent on your payments.  You must pay at least the amount to come back to that point.  In other words, they wanted 2 payments.  We couldn’t make it.  The next month, they wanted 3…and on and on it went.

In these 2 years, we’ve applied for 3 types of loan modification and been denied because of insufficient income.  I get it, I really do.  They don’t think we’re worth the modification because we don’t make enough to pay, in their eyes.  My husband is self-employed and he works commission only.  If you are self-employed or know anyone who is, you’ve probably got some idea of the difficulty of proving income.

About a month ago, we called our mortgage company about our current options.  They told us of another new program that would totally forgive all back payments, reset our loan to current and modify to give us a lower monthly payment.  I teared up when I heard this.  THIS is exactly what we need.  So, we’ve applied.  We haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m concerned that we may hear the exact same thing from them: denied for insufficient income.  My prayers are for a miracle, but of course I realize that their decisions are primarily made from data.

A few weeks ago, a friend and former college roommate told me of a job.  She works in IT for a nearby school district.  Her job is expanding to 2 positions.  Reading the description, I KNOW I can do this job.  I briefly fought the battle of whether I could leave my babies, all 3, to do this.  Almost immediately I knew that it was time to go back to full-time work.  Yes, my heart hurts a little at the thought of leaving this job that I love for a new opportunity.  My heart hurts to think that my youngest son will go into daycare for 2 years (until he can enter Montessori school with my older son).  But, my heart also tells me that I can do this…that I need to.  I don’t have an interview or even the promise of one.  I haven’t gotten a phone call from the resume and letter that I mailed in.  I have no assurance that this job could even happen, but if it does I am ready.  I am ready to get this worry of losing my home off of my shoulders.  I am ready to have dental and health insurance again.  I am ready to get up in the morning and go to a job that allows me to earn a good income to help my family.  I am ready to use my college degree in education and my years of experience in technology.  And, selfishly, I think of things I’ve missed being able to do – like get a haircut whenever I want, see a movie with my husband, buy clothes for myself, get out occasionally.

So, it’s not a change yet.  Right now, it’s just a step.  We shall see where it leads.

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Lifestyle Change: More Questions Than Answers

I feel my life and my decisions about what is best for my family shifting in a totally different direction, as I mentioned a few posts ago.  In the past few days, I’ve been watching and reading constantly.  Right now it feels like I’m drinking from a fire hydrant.  More and more information is so far leading to more and more things I want to know about and questions.  Boy, do I have questions.

I’ve been particularly interested in the healing properties of food and the ability that our bodies have to heal themselves…and maintain this health, given the right kinds of fuel.  We (as a culture) spend our money on beautiful clothes, nice cards and huge homes yet balk at the prices of good food.  Yes, it’s true, that our priorities have been off.  Our food is where we want to skimp and save and pay as little as possible.  I can say this because I was there.  I don’t find anything wrong with having a nice house, nice clothes and saving on food – or anything for that matter.  But, I think that as a culture we ultimately need to come to a place where we re-prioritize what we are WILLING to spend our money on.  We need to consider the long-term effects of our priorities.  Will we eat crap fast food all week to be able to afford a cute purse?  I don’t think I personally HAVE to spend a lot on the food I eat, but I think I should be willing to if it means keeping myself at a quality of life that would rarely require medications and that would keep me off  the paths that lead to life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

There are things I want to do, things I want to learn more about.

English: Copley Square Farmer's Market

1. Organic and Local Foods – We’ve made this step and it’s probably the easiest.  Though I read last night that simply making the switch isn’t everything.  Because I’ve been injesting toxins and chemicals through my food, I should consider a detox so that the good stuff can get in.  Just the thought makes me cringe, with images of colon cleansing and fasting.  Thankfully I ran across some information on…

2. Hydration Therapy/Detox – This is basically drinking a BUNCH (think 1 L) of water first thing each day.  It forces the toxins out of your tissues and cleanses your body.  This morning I did about 20 oz. and I could already tell a difference.  Seriously, I think I lost about 5 lbs. just in peeing 7 times in about 2 hours.  I read that a little lemon juice and cayenne pepper can up its effects.  I haven’t tried that.

3.  Raw Foods – There’s a big difference in the way our bodies react to cooked foods and raw foods.  The suggestion is to aim for 50% or more raw foods in my diet.  I don’t know yet how to get there, but it’s something to learn more about.

3.  Superfoods – They don’t call them super for nothing.  The benefits of these foods are plenty, but are they all nasty?  Is there any way to get them into my children?  Can I grow these things?  Is there an inexpensive way to incorporate them into my diet?

4.  Planting a Garden – I’m looking at where, when, what, how, how much – and how the heck can I?!?!

5.  Making As Much as Possible from Scratch – from dressings to soaps to breads.  I’m experimenting with new recipes every week.  This part is fun for me.  My struggles are with preserving them, which of course is why all these companies decided to figure out how to make things last forever after they are prepared.  Once I make something, like a loaf of bread, it is beautiful and delicious on the first day, but them it goes hard and dry quickly.  Once I make dressing, I have about a week to use it.  I’m starting to play around with freezing, but sometimes that changes the texture of these things, too.

It’s funny, I’ve gone years and years with bits of all of this information floating around me and I’ve been so guilty of ignoring most of it most of the time.  I maintained a “healthy enough” lifestyle to not gain weight, but for the most part I just thought “It’s not going to happen to me.”  But, now I’m starting to think “I’m not going to let it happen to me.”  I have a lot to live for, and I’d like to make the most of every minute that I’ve been given.


The End of Couponing

Image via Wikipedia

A year ago, I was totally into the couponing thing.  And I was darn good at it.  I could get out of the grocery store paying around 40% of the total cost of the food I brought home.  You know how some people get a mental high off of spending money?  I got that same kind of high off of saving money.  And the BEST was getting something free!  I tried to never EVER be one of those crazies who would get a bazillion free things just because I could.  I really only got things that I would use in a reasonable amount of time…in product and in quantity.  We were eating cheap.  But, for the most part, we were eating cheap food.

Nutrition and health are two topics that I greatly enjoy reading and learning about.  My education in all things healthy began about 9 years ago when I read You: The Owner’s Manual.  If you’ve never read it, it’s an easy read that walks you through the ways to best care for each system in your body.  And, despite the heavy topics, his writing style is very light, kinda funny and the illustrations are entertaining.

Cheap food very often contains a lot of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and and even more difficult for your body to deal with.  Food was not meant to stay in our cabinets for weeks, months and sometimes more than a year.  We’ve altered foods to the point of convenience, but in the process we’ve strayed from what is good for our bodies.  More and more in my reading, I’ve come across the now-evident dangers and harmful effects of artificial colorings, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and foods that have has their vitamins processed out and then added back in.

Knowing what I knew, I had to decide between saving money and feeding my family quality foods.  Granted, there are still some coupons for natural products, they are just a little more difficult to find.  So I stopped.

Another step in our food and nutrition journey came when Carter and I went to the allergist.  Towards the end of my pregnancy I started having some crazy allergic reactions, which I found out is common with all the changes that happen during pregnancy.  Most of our allergies are inhaled, but we both have some slight food allergies that are likely causing our excema. Two are particularly troublesome – wheat for Carter and soy for me.  It’s awfully difficult to avoid those 2 things in purchased foods.  I knew the best I could do for us would to be to make as many things as I could from scratch with the best quality ingredients I could get my hands on. Thankfully, I enjoy cooking and there’s a Whole Foods close by.

To drive the point home completely, I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc.  It was scary, really, the low standards of quality that our government has for our food production.  After I got over wanting to become a vegetarian, I began to think of ways to make better choices for my family.  I began to “vote” with my food purchases whenever possible.  Stores will stock what consumers buy.  Right now, most consumers have no problem buying a lot of junk and processed-beyond-recognition foods.  But, if the tide begins to shift to local, organic and whole foods – the stores will be forced to respond.

What I discovered shopping in this new way was pretty shocking.  The price difference is not all that different.  It is only marginally higher.  A normal shopping trip allowing the coupons to direct my purchases was $50 – $60 per week.  Now, purchasing mostly organic and local ingredients, I am spending $60 – $75 per week.  I would much rather spend a few extra dollars each week on quality food for my family than on medications or doctor visits.

My ultimate goal is to begin to grow my own vegetables, and have enough to give or sell to others.  I’m fortunate to live on family land, surrounded on 2 sides by acres and acres of open field.  My grandfather’s cows called the fields home until last year, when he sold them all.  I’ll admit that I know right around ZERO about gardening.  My yard is a joke.  My thumb is black.  But, I can learn.  And you have to start somewhere and we are doing something – and doing something is always better than doing nothing.

Other great documentaries:

No Impact Man
Ingredients
Foodmatters
Super Size Me