Monthly Archives: June 2014

Top 5 Things I Did Before Taking the Leap

As you’ve learned through this blog, it took me a long, long time to follow God’s lead and quit my full time job. By quitting I gave up awesome medical, dental, vision and mental health insurance, my pension that I would have been able to draw in 3 1/2 years and a guaranteed bi-weekly paycheck. Needless to say, I didn’t just run and take that leap of faith without some planning. Here are the top 5 things that I did to prepare:

Top 5 Things to Do

Prayer: I prayed the same prayer over and over for years. Through those prayers I believe that God slowly changed MY attitude and beliefs until I was finally convinced that this was His will and that I could do it. In my opinion, prayer doesn’t have to be perfectly scripted or said in a certain order or way. Prayer for me is just like having a conversation with God, a continual conversation regardless of where I am or what I am doing – driving, cutting the grass, cleaning the house, whatever.

Listen: Of equal importance to prayer is creating a quiet or still time so that you can hear what He has to say. For the greater part of my life, whenever I was in the car, the radio would be blasting the entire time. I had to have it on from the minute I got in the car, until the minute I got out. Not anymore. At least 50% of the time I’m driving, I drive without the radio on. It’s amazing what that quiet time will do for you. Listen to your intuition. Listen to your gut. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to what others say to you. So many times God speaks to us through others. Mostly I listened to the peace within me about the decision to leave.

Save: I saved enough money to pay an entire year’s worth of both my car and house payments. Those are the most important things and those are the things that would affect my credit if they weren’t paid. I realize the importance of impeccable credit and so I do my best to keep my financial affairs in order.

Got my finances in order:  I met with a financial adviser several times. It’s funny, she immediately said I should never leave my job. Five minutes into sharing my story with her of how God had been speaking to me, even she changed her tune. I refinanced my house with a lower interest rate, looked at all of my expenses and “cut the fat” as they say (turned off house phone, changed cable providers in order to drastically cut prices, etc). I made sure all of my debt was paid off other than my car and house.

Be proactive: Not only did I have anything and everything to do with my house and car checked over to be sure nothing was wrong with them, I did the same with me. I refilled as many prescriptions as many times as I could under my great insurance benefits before I left. I had a sleep study done. Had any dental work done that I needed. Went to each of my specialists and my regular doctor to make sure everything was going well with me physically.

By taking care of all of these details so carefully, I think I warded off a lot of problems and was well prepared for whatever or wherever this leap of faith would take me. So far, so good!

Struggles Will Come

While talking to someone recently, she shared that she often struggles with why God lets bad things happen. She admitted that she gets very angry with Him when they do. You know, I have heard this very same sentiment from a lot of people and I’m always surprised. They blame God whenever anything goes wrong. Now I don’t claim to be better than them, or to be judging their perception, but I do struggle with that thought pattern.

Granted I’m a newer Christian and not a Bible scholar so I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but most everything I’ve been taught or read in the Bible are stories of people’s struggles. So I’m not sure why people don’t think struggles will come their way. The only thing that I do know about struggles is that He will be there with you through them. You can’t always see Him or feel Him, but in the end you realize that He was there with you all along and that through that struggle you’re a stronger person. Or you may have even grown closer to Him during that struggle and you’re thankful for that now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like the challenges or struggles that come my way either. They are difficult, trying and seem almost never ending. But because of my struggles, I am more compassionate and a much stronger, determined and driven person than I would have ever been without them. I think although we all feel like we have had more struggles than others and that it’s not fair, the reality is that we have all been through our own fair share of struggles. They look different for each of us, but every struggle is equally difficult.

Struggles make us stronger

Those struggles are there to grow us, To teach us something about ourselves. Whenever bad things have happened in my life, my natural inclination has always been to ask God “how do you want me to use this?” It never once occurred to me to ask him why this was happening to me. Long story short, without all of the gory details – I was sexually abused by several different men at different times growing up. Each time was a horrible, horrible experience. It caused me to carry so much shame. It shattered my confidence and self-esteem. It took a big toll mentally and left me numb and in a state of stressed confusion for many, many years.

It’s funny though, I never once thought to ask Him why He let that happen to me. Each time I simply asked him how He wanted me to use the experience and what it was that He wanted to teach me through it. I eventually felt that he wanted me to understand people’s pain so that I could minister to them. At one point I thought I was supposed to be a counselor. I now minister to my clients who are in pain because of their disorganized, out of control lives. Pain is pain, no matter what the cause is, so through my own personal struggles I am better able to understand how they are feeling and what they need to get over that pain.

I Dare You to Prove it, God!

I’ve made many, many mistakes in my life and so when I began feeling a prompting from God to leave my full time job I wasn’t prepared to just run after that without being 100% sure that was His will. For the better part of my life I’ve been on my own with no one at all to fall back on and so I wasn’t prepared to walk away from every speck of my financial security without being certain this was what He wanted me to do.

There were so, so, so many ways I felt God telling me that this was what He wanted, but I needed something concrete to be sure. Other than the day that I audibly heard God tell me that it didn’t make any earthly sense for Noah to build an arc either (read that story here), this was by far the most obvious, glaring way in which He let me know He meant business and that I better get to work preparing to follow Him.

Now I realize that this story is going to sound like a story out of a story book, or out of a feel-good movie. It’s so far-fetched that it is going to be hard for you to believe this really happened. But I think that’s the entire point I am trying to make with this blog and impending book, that God wants to play an active part in everyone’s lives. I want people that don’t know Him to realize that there really is a God and He’s not just floating out there somewhere. He’s walking through this journey with you and He’s got big, big plans for you if you’ll just let Him in.

Let Him Shine Through You

Okay, enough of that, now on to the story. Once I audibly heard God’s voice reassuring me that although me leaving my job didn’t make any earthly sense, it was what He wanted me to do, I was pretty darn certain that I knew God wanted me to walk away from my job. However, I was scared. I knew I wouldn’t have anyone to fall back on if things blew up in my face and so I needed to know with certainty that He was telling me to do this. I needed something concrete from Him.

I was almost constantly “in conversation” with God about this. On July 1, 2012 my business account only had $56 in it. I remember so clearly saying to God in resignation, “OK God, if this is what you want, I need a very clear sign. Once you give me a clear sign, I’ll do it. If you put $20,000 in my business account before year’s end, I’ll know without a doubt that this is what you want and I will follow.” I remember even laughing out loud as I said this because I knew that if that were to happen, that would be a miracle. I also nervously knew that there was a very great possibility that would happen, and then I would no longer have an excuse not to follow His will for my life.

Can you believe that there was $20,000 in that account by October that year?! (That was exactly one year after He audibly spoke to me!) It was as if God said you gave me until year’s end to get the money in your account but I want to make sure that you understand that this IS my will so I’m putting it in your account earlier! Now let’s get on with this! ~ So I did.

From Hopelessness to Happiness

My motto in life has always been that you do what you have to do. But it still amazes me to think that I spent 27 years of my life in a job that I absolutely hated from day one! If I am being 100% honest though, I’d have to admit that without that job I would have probably never been able to provide for my children by myself as I had to. So I try to be thankful for it anyway.

However, since my job went against everything that I am innately, and everything I believe in, it ate away at my spirit every day without me even realizing that for many, many years. My strongest and deepest desire is to help people, to make their lives simple and easier. To reach out to the hurting, and remind them of their greatness and beauty, and the power within themselves to do amazing things with their lives!

Our Internal Power

Our Internal Power

That’s a pretty hard thing to do when your job is answering the phones for a major utility company and you know that your hands are tied on how much you can truly help the caller. No matter how much a customer begged, yelled or cried, the hard cold fact was that I could only do so much for them. Top that with poor management that only focused negative attention on their employees and helped to continue the toxic environment by gossiping with fellow employees to slander other employees, rather than to build on people’s strengths and equip them to work as a team.

Working as a professional organizer is the extreme opposite of that. I get to do work that changes people’s lives in a positive way. I get to play an active and supportive role in the lives of people that are hurting. I always say that we are our own worst enemies and I see this on an almost daily basis in the work I do now. I have the privilege of helping to pick people back up, get them back on track again and remind them of their own unique greatness and the amazing beauty and power within themselves.

Not only is the physical part of the work fun and rewarding, but the relationships and bonds that are created in our work are AMAZING! It’s not unusual at all to hear from clients about how much our work together has changed their lives in a positive way. But the following snippet from an email I received recently from a client that I have worked with since I opened my business doors 7+ years ago had me in tears! It has been a real blessing to be a part of her journey from hopelessness to happiness.

Before & After

Before & After

“None of this would have happened without YOU! I interviewed 5 other professional organizers before I met you. I wish I could explain just what came over me when I realized that you were the one person who would be able to get me whole again. I can still see the expression on your face when we met, your eyes, your perception, your assuredness. I guess I felt peace. Peace even within all of the chaos of my house. That was because you were looking at ME and seeing ME separated from all of the clutter. You knew the clutter wasn’t me, it was just stuff. You knew I wasn’t the clutter and the clutter wasn’t me. But until then, I thought I was. Until I met you, I felt like I was a hopeless failure. You have taught me to appreciate myself for the most mundane, ordinary parts of my personality. I’m very blessed to be in your Ark. You are a powerful Noah!”

Every Storm Brings A Rainbow

There’s always a rainbow at the end of the storm. Many times we wonder when it will stop storming. We try to rush the storm past us because it seems like it’s never going to end. And then, finally one day, there it is – a rainbow.

12 years ago today, and 2 weeks after his 39th birthday, my younger brother Mike died after a very short battle with leukemia. Mike and I were very, very close. He actually lived with me for the last year or so of his life. Because of the wonderful connection we had, it seemed fitting to me that I was a perfect match to be his bone marrow donor. In non-technical terms, when you’re a bone marrow donor, they draw out your blood, spin “the life” out of it and then put what’s left back in your body. The bone marrow recipient gets the “life blood”.

Mike & I

Mike & I

It’s an all-day process which leaves the donor completely (& literally) drained at the end of the day. Since my veins tend to collapse, roll and do lots of other creative things, the doctors decided it would be best for me to have a catheter put in my chest for the procedure. Unfortunately the bone marrow transplant did not save his life and he died not too long after it. Mike’s death took a tremendous toll on me. While I was driving home from the hospital the day he died, I screamed so loud and for so long in between sobbing that I hyperventilated and had to pull over. Fortunately my other brother wasn’t far behind me and he pulled over and talked me off the ledge.

About a year after Mike died, the scar from the catheter they used for the bone marrow transplant was going away and I didn’t want it to go away. It was all that I had left of him! I was panicky. I couldn’t lose that last piece of him! So, although I am not a tattoo lover, I got a very small tattoo of two connected hearts to permanently mark where the scar is (1 representing Mike, 1 representing me). I had the tattoo placed so that the scar is right in the middle, between where the two hearts meet.

Tattoo

Our Connecting Hearts

Every year, year after year, on June 10th, I am reminded of Mike, his death and how much I miss him. I’m sad for him, I’m sad for his children (one of which has died tragically since Mike’s death) and I’m sad for my children. Every year June 10th was clouded in storms. That is until June 10, 2011. God sent my first little grand baby, Raelyn Grace to us that day. She was the rainbow at the end of my storm. Because of His grace, he had taken a tragic day and turned it into a day of celebration. Raelyn represented hope, a new life and a happy focus for that day. I can’t even begin to articulate the amount of joy this one little soul has brought into my life! So today, we celebrate our little rainbow’s 3rd birthday!

Raelyn Grace

Raelyn Grace