Friday, June 19, 2009

Two months and two days

Happy two months, Rhyster Beast! We went for his two-month checkup on Wednesday. He now weighs 14 lb. 8 oz., he's 22 1/2 inches long, and his head is 16 inches in circumference. He got three shots and one oral vaccine. He handled the shots themselves OK - he fussed at the needle stick, but was fine once the nurse got Band-Aids put on - but he ran a little low-grade fever for about 24 hours and slept a LOT. He seems to have recovered his usual good nature, though, and it was a good checkup. He's doing everything he should be, according to the doctor. She said he should know who mama is, and I told her we joked that he has a "mama has left the building" radar - the few times I've gone out and left him with Brian, he's started screaming pretty much as soon as I've left and not stopped until I've come back! LOL (I tell Brian not to worry, that one day, Daddy will be way cooler than Mama!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Another bit of inspiration

Internet Cafe Devotions strikes again:

…for your Heavenly Father knows that you are in need of all these things".

Matthew 6:32b

$10,000! Letters and phone calls came to the house demanding that we pay this amount to the hospital where I recently had surgery. I was struggling to make sense of the insurance forms, hospital and doctor bills, while trying to recover from a major surgery. We had fought with the insurance company to pay over $500,000 in bills so far.

Why did we still have to fight them for this amount, seemingly small in comparison?

We started to pray and ask God to intervene in taking care of this situation. A month later, our answer came in the mail. It was a letter from some friends from our college days. They heard that I had surgery and wrote to tell us they were praying and would like to help out with a gift. In the envelope I found a check for $10,000!

I could just hear the Father saying, "O what little faith you have! Did you forget that I know all these things and will care for you?" In my Bible, Matthew 6 is appropriately titled, "The cure for anxiety." God gives us all the hope we need in that one small section of the Bible.

He shows us how small our cares and worries are in comparison to His care and supply for us. Whether it is money or material goods, God can provide these things for us, just as He takes care of all of His Creation.

If you are struggling with anxiety over medical bills, house payments, or future plans, God has given you hope and peace in this short passage of Scripture to calm your hearts and turn your focus toward Him. Look for ways God is showing His care for you in the everyday, small ways and trust Him to take care of all the rest.

"Father, help me to remember your promises of provision, even when the outlook seems bleak. May I remember that how you care for your Creation is how you will care for me."

What monetary, medical, or relationship struggles are you going through?

How has God revealed Himself to you in the midst of these struggles?

Are you looking for ways that He is showing His care for you?
In Him,


Again, this is something I really needed to hear. We aren't facing a $10,000 medical bill, but we are facing the possibility of having to pay an obligation that we simply don't have the money for if we're going by our own resources. I'm screwing up my courage to call about it now, and I am scared. My parents didn't raise me to not pay my own way, I feel like a failure for being in this position, and I'm praying that God will, in His grace, rescue me yet again from my own foolish choices and not bring hardship to my husband and my kids because of my stupidity.

So if you're of a praying mindset, I'd appreciate some today, as I make that call. Pray I'll have the courage to actually pick up the phone and get it done (because it won't go away if I ignore it), pray that the situation isn't as dire as I'm building it up to possibly be, and pray that, if it is that bad, God will make a way clear for us to get through it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Birthday party planning

Thanks to those of you who posted comments on my last post - I'm sorry there are others out there struggling with financial woes, but in some way, it helps knowing we aren't alone. And it helps, too, knowing I'm not the only one who struggles with really letting go and trusting God to work.

Birthday party thoughts: We're trying to think of money-saving ideas for Julian's party this year. It will be after I've gone to work and we've started paying through the nose for summer camp and daycare, so it's not like we'll be flush with cash. We'd thought of getting a five-pack of tickets to a local water park (which costs about $105 and includes food and unlimited drinks) for me, Brian, Julian and two of his friends, and making it something small that he could enjoy, rather than a big to-do at Pump It Up or Chuck E. Cheese or whatever. (As an added bonus, this way we wouldn't get a ton of presents from his friends that often just get overlooked in the mess of toys around here.) I mentioned this to J's dad, and he said he was sure Julian would be glad to have his four stepsiblings there. I wanted to ask him, "Um, are you planning on buying their tickets?" Because I wasn't planning on 1) having J's stepsiblings as the only party guests (if his dad is thinking the five tickets are for five kids total, instead of for the two s and three kids we'd thought of), or 2) shelling out a good bit extra for tickets and food for four more guests (if I'm paying that much, I might as well go to Pump It Up). Not sure how exactly I'll address this with his dad, especially as I know Julian will be invited to the joint party for his three younger stepsiblings (who all have July birthdays).

And along those lines, if we do go with the water park idea, would it be tacky to put a note in the invitation to this effect for parents: "We will be meeting at the front gate at such-and-such time. You are welcome to drop your child off and return at such-and-such time, when we will be at the front gate preparing to leave, or if you would like to attend with your child, you are welcome to purchase your own ticket." I have no problem with parents either dropping off or coming with, but I wouldn't want parents to think we were paying for their tickets. That would REALLY get expensive in a hurry, even if it were only for two or three parents.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Money may not buy happiness, but a little more of it could sure reduce some stress.

I read this post at Her Bad Mother, and it helped me think a bit about our financial situation.

On the surface, you'd think we should be doing OK. Brian and I both work full-time. Sure, a little bit more salary would be nice, and I'd like to see an occasional raise or bonus (but I figure there's probably not a lot of chance, given the industry I work in and the degree of government involvement there these days), but looking at it on paper, it would seem like we'd be all right, like we could make ends meet.

Yet somehow that doesn't seem to happen. It seems like each month we're scraping to make it, to get everything paid, and that's before we've had to add daycare expenses to the mix (diapers and formula and medical bills, yes, but daycare won't kick in for a few weeks yet). And now we're finding ourselves in the position of having to start shopping for a new vehicle. My car is in good shape, but the van isn't so much. It still runs well, but it's got 125,000 miles on it, it's got some electrical quirks, and one of the wheels on one of the side doors broke last week - it vibrated open while Brian was driving, and that just won't do, especially not with kids who ride in the back seats. Where will the money come from for a car payment on top of everything else? Beats me. We're behind on the house note, don't know where funds will come from to catch that up, and it seems like each month it gets a little harder to stay current on things - even with both of us working full-time.

I don't ever feel like God drops the clue brick on my head too often. I can't point to many things and say, "Hey, God really convicted me of this, and I got the message from Him loud and clear." Tithing is one of the things where I did get a message. Before Brian was working, we decided to pick a number to give as our tithe and stick to it, even if it wasn't the full 10%. When he started at his previous job, we decided at first to tithe the full 10% from his paycheck and stick to the same amount from mine, which was a pretty scary number to us given that his paycheck wasn't that much to begin with. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but one day it hit me - either we trusted God all the way or not at all, and if we trusted Him all the way, we needed to tithe the full 10% no matter how much it scared us or how impossible it might seem. Since then, we've been faithful to give that 10%, even though there are plenty of times when I'm tempted to keep it for us to use (never mind that, in the grand scheme of things, it's not like that would accomplish anything big - it wouldn't be enough to pay our house note for one month, much less catch it up, it wouldn't pay for a month of daycare, it wouldn't pay off my car or get us a new one). I know blessings don't always come in the form of money, but right now things are seeming pretty dire on the financial front, and it's certainly nothing I can fix in my own strength. I find myself singing this song in my head a lot:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way,
He works in ways we cannot see,
He will make a way for me,
He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side,
With love and strength
For each new day,
He will make a way,
He will make a way.

God is going to have to make a way on this one, because we simply don't have the resources at our command to fix things (short of a death in the family, and we don't want that - we'd much prefer to keep our loved ones with us, thankyouverymuch). I feel helpless, I'm having a hard time with that trust thing, I'm feeling like somehow I've failed my family by the choices I've made or not made, I'm feeling like I must have failed God and gotten far afield of His plan for things to be going so badly. And sometimes I even feel a little resentful. This afternoon we were driving back from doing some vehicle shopping, and we went through a really nice part of a nearby town, the area by the country club where the houses cost more than I'll ever see in my lifetime and where the subdivisions have a list of "approved builders", so you know they're really pretty hoity-toity. I told Brian that I don't care about living the high life, I'm not interested in a million-dollar home or a new luxury car, I just want to stay in my house, fix it up for my family, drive a nice reliable car, have money to pay the bills without it being down to the wire all the time (or even a few dollars short), be able to do the occasional fun thing like a family vacation, and maybe do some good for others that we don't feel like we have the resources to do now. If I wanted to live high on the hog, I can see God telling me, "no, you're just being greedy now, you can't have that" - but I don't, and I sometimes find myself thinking, "God, are we asking for that much that it's not something You feel like we need, enough to not be constantly stressed over and struggling with money?" I've wondered before if being a person of faith, someone who trusts God to provide and meet your needs, has to be inconsistent with any kind of financial stability or security, if those two are mutually exclusive and you have to be one or the other. I don't know if that's the case, but some days it sure feels like it.

And gosh, it seems like I had a very similar conversation with myself back in September. Things haven't gotten better, really, in almost a year. Bright Blessings hasn't taken off, I haven't found a job that will give me a fat pay raise, we haven't won the lotto. Still, we're being as faithful as we know how to be, and I do know God has a plan. Right now, though, I'm just really, really scared. I want to know how things will work out and when, and I'm having a hard time with the trusting and waiting part.