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Ugh. What a year. Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies. I might even just borrow one from the Queen and call it our annus horribilis. Seriously though, it was bad. It felt like we were cursed. I’m not going to sit here and type out every single little thing that went wrong (that would take the rest of 2017). Just a little back story about I got from there to here.
There were two major things that year: financial problems and health problems.
I’m going to do an actual post about my health struggles at some point in the near future. Because as bad as that was, I honestly didn’t care about it as much as I cared about my family and our future. It’s difficult for me to try and explain just how hard it really was (without sounding whiny). We thought we were going to lose everything. I remember looking at other people and thinking, “How are they all just going around living their lives all non cursed like that? How in the world do they do it? What am I doing wrong?” Yep, I was comparing. Which only added to my gloom. Note to self – don’t do that!
Unfortunately, we’d had financial problems before. I guess we just sort of accepted it as a natural ebb and flow of life, especially when the family’s main income relies on the oil and gas industry. But God had always brought us through it eventually, so when things started to look bad at the beginning of 2016, we didn’t panic at first. We trusted God to bring us through again.
Except he didn’t. Not for a long time.
The panic started in late spring. We’d used up all of our resources and we were starting to have to use credit cards just to make bills (one of the worst feelings. Ever.) Collecting E.I. was sadly not an option (long story). I had been a stay at home mom for a while, and I talked to my husband multiple times about finding a job for myself. The problem with that was, he needed to be available for the unpredictable times there was work for him, especially since he was finishing an apprenticeship. And to try and find/pay for a baby sitter just wasn’t worth it for a couple extra hundred a month. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, I was not at all in good health.
Thankfully we had no vehicle payments. Simply selling our house would have hurt us more financially in the long run. But we didn’t want to lose the home either, and we were quickly heading in that direction. In our 12 years of marriage, we had already moved over 15 times. 3 years is the longest we’d lived anywhere. We were finally establishing some roots. I was terrified of losing it. Again. And our kids were anxious about having to go to a new school and make new friends again. It was stress city!
The one other thing I want to mention is that we were still tithing. Or at least trying to. Sometimes the checks would bounce because of some crazy unforeseen circumstance. That hurt. It hurts when you feel God calling you to do something, so you obey and trust that everything will work out, only to fall even deeper into the abysmal hole because of it. I found myself seriously questioning my faith and struggling against depression at this point.
So it was about this time we decided to reach out to our church and families. Both offered prayer. Both gave practical help. Honestly though, as much as we needed the help, we didn’t want people to give us money. We just wanted to be able to make our own money. That’s all. But it seemed to much to ask.
Then one day in August (in the midst of frantically painting the baseboards because I was convinced we would be forced to move out soon) everything changed. Actually, to be completely accurate, nothing changed right away. Rather the seed of change was planted, when my oldest brother said to me “We want you to know we are here for you. Let us bear with one another the burdens of life. Christ came that we might have life more abundantly.” And he didn’t just say that casually. He actually called me regularly to encourage me and listen to me cry over the phone and pray for me and reassure me that things would get better.
At first I didn’t believe him. Life was kind of sucking at the moment. But he
recommended insisted that I read/listen to something encouraging and motivational every day. I thought I was already doing this. After all I read my bible and did devotions and prayed daily. Nevertheless I decided to download the Zig Ziglar audio book he suggested. Something to keep my mind occupied while tediously repainting all those baseboards, right?
Little did I know that you literally change your life when you change what goes into your mind.
The first thing I noticed was that listening to it made me feel good. As soon as I hit play, my vibes would become sunny and buoyant. Then I started to feel inspired to be better and do better. To do everything with honesty and integrity and sincerity (you should have seen those crisp and shiny white baseboards). After a while my attitude changed. I started to feel thankful. Sure I’d been thankful before. My kids don’t have cancer, our marriage is still intact, my family cares, God loves me… lots to be thankful for. But I was also fuming over all the piles of crap I was buried under. The shift happened when I intentionally didn’t focus on the negativity anymore.
Now here’s the real kicker: I started to actually believe in a better life. A life where there was no curse. Maybe we could even have life more abundantly, like my brother said.
I absorbed anything positive and motivational I could get my hands on. Encouraging blogs, uplifting music and many more Ziglar books. Philippians 4:8 says “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” For some reason my brain’s default mode is to go strait back to pessimism right away (and I know I’m not the only one). That’s why I need to actively be choosing good things for my brain to consume. All the time. Mr. Ziglar often said that motivation doesn’t last. And neither does bathing. That’s why it’s recommended to do it regularly.
The bible mentions many times that we reap what we sow. What you give is what you receive. What you put out is what you will experience. Some people call this the law of attraction or karma or the golden rule. However you look at it, it’s also true for your thoughts (or else we wouldn’t be commanded to think about what is true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy). “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind.” (Ziglar again). It’s divine design and it’s quantum physics. It just is. Being in control of oneself also includes being in control of one’s thoughts. So if you’re going to have a thought, make sure it’s a good one. This is how life is meant to be lived.
I’m not sure why it took me so long to finally accept this and fully embrace it. Do yourself a favor and don’t be stubbornly dejected like me. Believe in your life now. Believe in your story and your purpose. And believe in yourself. God doesn’t make anything unexceptional.
If you’re not in a good place right now, I feel you. Reach out to someone. Here’s my contact page. Let us bear with one another the burdens of life. Taking the first step is always the hardest part. Seriously, get a hoopla account if you can and download some audio books (it’s free!). Read encouraging blogs and listen to uplifting music like I did. If you catch yourself thinking those pesky little negative thoughts, find something positive to replace it. And I can’t say it enough, read or listen to something motivational every single day. In the car, while you’re getting ready, cleaning or working on a project, it’s so easy. I need it like I need food (btw I love food).
Here’s an easy list to get started:
- The bible is hands down the best place to go for encouragement. These are a few of my favorite uplifting verses: ♥ “For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed.” Proverbs 23:17 ♥ “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 ♥ “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” 1 Peter 3:7 ♥ “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
- Pretty much anything by Zig Ziglar. There’s something for everyone. “Born To Win”, “How To Get What You Want”, and “Raising Positive Kids In A Negative World” (if you’re a parent) are just some of my favorites.
- “Captivating” By John and Stasi Eldredge. This is by far the most empowering book for women I’ve ever read.
- Endless Encouragement This is a seriously fun, life and truth speaking blog.
- The Beautiful Purpose Lianna Pena is an adorable and young but very wise blogger.
- Uplifting Mayhem Go visit this blog for relatable and inspiring posts (especially if you have boys)!
- This Blessed Mom Katarina is a Canadian gal (like myself). Her lovely blog is full of insight and encouragement.
- Alison Tiemeyer I go to this site whenever I feel like I need a calm (but fabulous) friend.
- Arabah Joy The name alone is reason enough to check our this blog! She clearly loves God and has a huge heart for people.
My Uplifting Playlist
- “Flawless” – MercyMe
- “Priceless” – For King And Country
- “You Are Loved” – Stars Go Dim
- “In The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World
- “Try Everything” – Shakira
- “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten
- “I Lived” – OneRepublic
- “Keep Your Eyes Open” – NeedToBreath
- “Anyway” – Martina McBride
- “Humble And Kind” – Tim McGraw
- “Diamonds” – Hawk Nelson
- “Man In The Mirror” – Michael Jackson
I used to hate it when people told me this, but I’m going to say it anyway – consider the fact that what you’re going through may just be preparing you for something awesome. God really does have a plan and he really can bring good out of every singe situation. Personally I’m still struggling with trust issues, so I know this is much easier said than done. That annus horribilis left gaping wounds and I’m still healing. BUT I wouldn’t be where I am to day without it. It took some hard work, determination, dedication, and heaps of hope and faith, but today we are financially stable (plus I’ve been much healthier) and we are looking forward to our future (not looking back). I’m so much more confidant and excited about all the amazing things I can/will be and do. The possibilities are endless!
Here’s the most profound thing I learned: be and feel grateful for everything. There is always something, no many things to be grateful for. Life will get infinitely more magnificent when you make this a habit. You might just find yourself totally winning at life.