Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hard Things and Beautiful Things

As much as I'd love for you all to believe that our summer has been nothing short of blissfully perfect, I've got to be completely honest with you. The summer has also had it's intermittent periods of complete fear. I've been able to put this fear on the back burner most of the summer, but now that vacation is over and we've flipped the calendar to August, it's kind of come back to the front of my thought list.

Now before I start this, I'm fully FULLY aware that what I'm about to confess is a very trivial issue in the eyes of many. I get this. I've prayed for a few friends too many this week who have unexpectedly lost one of their parents. My issue is manageable. My family is healthy and happy. With that being said, I try very hard to see other people's lives/problems with a non judgmental lense. I've only walked in our shoes and know nobody else's story completely, even if the little (lot) they share on social media seems to make me an "expert" on their lives. I'm not perfect at this. I'm really not, but I do try. So with that disclaimer out of the way, please bear with me.

A little history: I went to college with nothing in the bank. I was blessed enough to get some scholarships, but being that I was going to be heading to Northwestern College, I was still very short on funds. I had a 9 month old daughter and needed a place to live. Long story short...I racked up $70,000 in student loans in four short years. Some of it was very necessary to live. I needed money for groceries and books and rent, and I only had time to work about 8-10 hours a week if I was going to be a present parent and a good student. I was also young and stupid. Instead of living within our means, we lived like we didn't have limits. Our motto was (and still kind of is) "Live like there isn't tomorrow". And while we still try to make the most of every day, we are a lot more grown up about it. We had no business spending money we didn't actually have to do the things we were doing. And now we are paying for it.

From there, it's been a domino effect. We've never really caught up. We continued to have babies when we weren't financially ready, and while I don't regret that for a second, it came with more debt. The debt continued to pile on. Dan's job got less stable, and we decided that the best thing for him would be to go back to school and get a degree in case he ever needed it. It turned out to be the best thing he could have done as he is happily working in the field he's always dreamed of  and being challenged daily with new things, but with that decision came another hefty $55,000 bill. It's a hard pill to swallow. We celebrated last November when Dan received his diploma for his bachelor's degree, but the grace period is over and we are staring down the barrel of a $1200 a month student loan payment...double our house payment.

As I sat down last week and wrote our budget for September, I realized that we have less than $185 per month to work with after our bills. I panic as I stare at that number because I don't know how to make that work. It makes me sweat and want to curl up in a ball and sit in a dark room and just cry. I'm praying that nothing big happens to our family, that nothing will need replacing and we will all stay healthy. I'm really praying for a miracle that nothing out of the ordinary happens, and even I chuckle a little bit knowing that God's plans are always so different from mine. And also, are always so much better than mine.

As I was sitting in church today, I was breathing it all in. We've been gone a lot this summer, and summeritis has unfortunately hit our house. We haven't been to church nearly as much as we should have. And while I know that it doesn't make me less of a Christian, coming back to His house is always exactly the fuel I need to get me through the week. So as I was closing my eyes and getting lost in worship, one of my favorite songs started playing.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

And I got goosebumps. I opened my eyes and I looked at my daughter on one side whose long, tangled brown hair was resting on my shoulder, and I looked to my left and kissed my son's nose, counting the freckles that matched mine. I looked a few chairs over and caught the handsome blue eyes of my baby and watched as his daddy cradled his body in his arms, rocking back and forth. God seemed to be saying in that moment, "It's all going to be okay. Have faith. Lean on me. Look at the beautiful things I've blessed you with. I will not forsake you." And for the first time I felt a calm. He is going to pull us through this and grow us and stretch us in the process. It's not going to be painless, but it's going to be worth it.

I'm still scared. I know it's going to be a tough road. We're going to have to be a lot more type A and a lot less type B. Dan's going to have to work some over time and we're going to have to cut corners. But we've both learned a lot since we got married 8 short years ago. We aren't perfect with our money, but we've learned a lot about managing our money, and we are leaps and bounds from where we were when we were in college just starting out. And even though we don't have a lot left over every month, we've already budgeted out money each month for Christmas and Vacation funds so that they are already built in. I'm confident we can follow our budget and make Dave Ramsey proud. :)

 I pray that we can teach our kids valuable life lessons about money that they will remember when they get older and have to start saving for their own college. I want my mistakes to be their reminders to do things differently. I feel badly that we can't provide our children with a college education that many parents will be able to for their kids, but I promise to try my darndest to make sure that I compensate for that by teaching them good money habits so they are successful.

So wherever you are at right now, big problems or small problems and anything in between, I pray that you will be able to find the good. Welcome the lessons that come with the hardships. Sometimes those are the surprise little nuggets in life that become some of the biggest teachable moments. Find the beautiful things in the hard things.


  1. What a lovely post and you have such a beautiful family :)
    Vintage Inspired Girls