Monday, February 02, 2009

Sometimes a Bone is All I Need OR God Usually Deals with More Than Bones

About a week before I went to London, I remember praying:
"Please, God, could you just throw us a bone?"
Taken out of context, it sounds pretty rude, eh? It does.
Last week, I found myself praying:
"Thank you, God, for showing me that the bone was always there. And the steak. And the sauce..."

Here's the story (more or less):
Brandon and I have had our fair-share of financial problems. I think everybody goes through a time (or multiple times) where financial woes head their way. Heck, we've had our share, but luckily/blessedly/hallelujah-ey we have always stayed afloat. The goal is to be secure, though, right? Afloat is okay --it's just not the ideal, capische? But I would take afloat over homelessness any day.
Any. Day.
One time, Brandon lost his job. We had just bought a new car and were about 3 weeks from having our second child. For 6 months we worried and prayed, worked and worked-more, and then Brandon got a great job. Even before he found the great job (which was about two great jobs ago --what is that? Six years?), he worked temp jobs whenever he could in order to continue providing for his small family. And since then, we've always been employed. Brandon is a fabulous provider for our family --I'm pretty blessed, I think! Of course, I could go on and on how my own Bachelor's degree is such a blessing, too, so if anything happened to Brandon (like if he was injured...or...injured...or...died...ahem...) then I could work, blah, blah, blah, blah...
But I won't. For now. Because I'm already off track.
Okay, so Brandon's a fab provider. He works hard. Dang hard. And we've always been financially afloat. But we've made some mistakes in the past (very unintentional), and now we're kind of paying for them. Sort of. Man, this is hard to explain. Because who wants to talk about finances? Who does it? It makes us all uncomfortable, right? It even makes me uncomfortable...
Sigh, sigh.
Basically, here's the gist of it: One of Brandon's former companies (now bankrupt) was paying us as independent contractors. This is while we were living/working in California. This independent contractor work was important, because we were living/working in California (you know, that one expensive Bay Area place of expensive-ness). We knew we would still need to pay taxes on it, but at the end of the year were surprised by how much it was, because it pushed us over some certain tax thresholds. (Hint... if you ever get paid 1099-independent contractor, plan on keeping at least 50% of it in savings for taxes, and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise!) We didn't realize it would be so bad.
Ummm...never think un-taxed income will equal un-bad-ness.
So, we owe the IRS and the state of CA money. Add this to the fact that Brandon is going back to school this May (fingers crossed) --a fairly prestigious school (which always means expensive, gosh darn it). Add to this some credit card debt (very mild), two car payments, two moves within one year, a mortgage, an old house that seems to be falling apart, my therapy sessions, and four children (and now one on the way).
Stuff is expensive, man.

So, when I was praying to God to throw us a bone, I was thinking this:
"Please, could we be blessed with:
*My depression going away miraculously without any rabid side effects. Or affects. I'm never sure.
*An amazing bonus from Brandon's company to pay all of our debt!
*Some fabulous miracle where Brandon's school would be paid for, thereby keeping us out of debt forever!
*Our house would somehow be picked for random acts of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" kindness.
*We would, within a week, become financially stable/secure/freakin' rich!"

Well, that was kind of what I was praying for. It wasn't the bone prayers, I guess. The bone prayers came about when other avenues of hope we were hopin' for fell through/flat. By then, I just wanted a bone. Some help somehow. A way to figure it out.

That's when I realized something, and I told it to a friend yesterday:
Even during my lowest lows and deepest depths of depression, with my entire world crumbling around me, God is just around the bend with blessings beyond my wildest dreams. Why I keep forgetting this is beyond me. I feel like an idiot when I get there and I am so ashamed I didn't realize I would be okay. Because I always end up okay. Always.

So, what happened?
I came home from London and got to work. I contacted the IRS and State of CA and worked out payment plans we could afford. Together (with an ocean separating us), Brandon and I figured out bills, payment plans, cleaned up some lists and bank accounts, and by the end of the week, I saw God's hand in all of it. No, there weren't astounding miracles. No, there wasn't any extra money coming in. And no, it's not going to be a quick-fix. But we are afloat. We are living within our means. We are paying off all the unfair and totally-fair debt whilst-a-livin' within our means.
And we're having a baby.
And I got to see London (work paid for that, btw. I know I don't have to justify it, but I'm sure y'all were thinkin' it!).
And therapy is helping.
And I've never been so happy to be just afloat.
See, Heavenly Father doesn't usually answer our prayers in the way we would want (right? You know this already). But He does give us the ability to figure things out, and He helps us along the way. Sure, it would be great to not have problems, but then that would mean I picked Satan's plan. Who wants to pick Satan's plan? Well I guess a lot of people did...but that's besides the point (although it reminds me of m&m's awesome post here, although hers is more about agency). The point is that I feel gratitude for everything that has happened. It made me get off my butt and figure stuff out. It made me rely on the Lord. It made me work closely with my husband. It made me see that we are truly blessed beyond all comprehension.

So, hopefully the next time I want my Father in Heaven to throw me a bone, I'll remember this experience. Hopefully I'll see that He's waiting to give me more than just a bone. It's probably the whole enchilada. Or steak. Or cow? Perhaps a chicken...

Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day! And Happy Brandon's-finally-comin'-home-today-day!


Tammy said...

I know the feeling. I have strugged with depression in the past and I have made it through insurmountable odds to make it where I a home that we could eventually lose if it doesn't sell. It doesn't sound fair to me...Not at all. I fast I pray, but does He hear? I know He does and I know He cares, but when you face your crumbling point you start to wonder. Congrats on staying afloat. I am looking forward to that same feeling. Floatin' along!!!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

This is why when I start feeling a little bit of future anxiety, I try to remember a line from my favorite hymn, "Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last."

Your story is one more reminder to me that his promise is true. Thanks.

Grandma Rozla said...

I love the way you bring just a little humor into the otherwise very depressing things of life. Oh, if we could only remember every minute of every day that the Lord really does know and understand. Love ya! Oh happy day that the Brandon guy is coming home :)

Cardalls said...

thanks for this post...i needed it today! i am grateful for the "bones" no matter how small. and i'm so glad for you that brandon is coming home! my DH is going out of town this week and I am DREADING it...and it's only for 3 days and you have been doing it for a are amazing!

Cardalls said...

my word verification was "spidebt"...thought it was ironic considering the topic!

Annette Lyon said...

Sometimes a bone can be the miracle. Glad everything is working out!

Rachel and Nathan Fisher said...

Great post, and I hope that Brandon made it out ok - looks like crazy weather in London!

m_and_m said...

Totally fabulous post. Thank you.

Michelle Walker said...

thanks for coming to hang out with your hermit friend who nobody else in the ward knows, because I'm a hermit. Your kiddos are adorable and so are you! Your post was so comforting to read!

Michelle Walker said...

thanks for coming to hang out with your hermit friend who nobody else in the ward knows, because I'm a hermit. Your kiddos are adorable and so are you! Your post was so comforting to read!

Grandma said...

I loved this blog, Cheryl. You've learned so much in such a few years. I love Michael McLean's song and book titled, "Hold On The Light Will Come". So just hold on as the light is beginning to come and it will continue to get brighter. He (Michael) and I both can relate to depression. I've lived with it all my life and am so thankful for medication (I even think that is inspired of the Lord), counseling, a great loving husband, and especially a loving Heavenly Father for giving me such a wonderful and long life.

Never A True Aggie said...

Ok. I realized I hadn't read like 12 of your posts. Sorry.

As for the IRS, you ARE SO RIGHT! We have been independent for 10 years and only had one year where we broke even on taxes. I wish I would have known and I could have given you are tax pay off tips, which is basically, call them and they are actually pretty nice about working it out. We are currently paying CA and MI and are not super thrilled about it, but it has worked out.

We also have debts some we are on top of and some we are behind on. We talked to our Bishop about this and he really helped us. I thought he was going to get all preachy about remaining out of debt, but he didn't. He talked about priesthood blessing and using those to help us through the anxiety of bills and such. Anyway, we are in the same boat, but also feeling like Heavenly Father is there helping. It just gets hard at times. I understand.