Saturday, January 17, 2015

Even Though I'm Not a Millionaire...

I have wished I was a millionaire many times during my life. As a child, I remember watching a scene from Little House on the Prairie's episode "At the End of the Rainbow" when Laura fantasizes that the Ingalls family becomes very wealthy. I related to that episode because I, too, had daydreamed that my family would one day be rich. :) (By the way, I think this episode has a lot to do with my love of white dresses! Well, that, and staring at my mom's gorgeous bridal photo nearly every day during my childhood!)

I took this photo of the Little House on the Prairie DVD case. I could copyright it, but since it's not my original photo, I won't. I just wanted to clarify that I indeed took this photo...of a photo. ;)
In fact, when I was 11 years old, my dad thought about purchasing the very grand house on 335 E. 5th Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Back in the late 1980s, the house was in not-great shape which is why it was such a great deal. It would have required a lot of labor and money! Still, my dad drove our family to 335 E. a couple of times and asked what we thought about possibly moving there?? My head instantly filled with thoughts of living in my very own princess tower room! Oh, it was a grand daydream for a couple of weeks...until my dad wisely decided against it. As an adult, I'm glad he didn't purchase the house for I believe the financial burden would have been too great for our family, but as a child, that decision was a very sad one for me. No, I wouldn't get to be a white-dress-wearing Princess Adrie after all. Boo. :'(

Side note: from the research I've done through various real estate websites and the county assessor's office, 335 E. 5th Avenue was renovated in 1988, and remodeled in 1996 and 2000. It was converted into three separate apartments, which makes sense, but I would have loved to have that impressive mansion remain combined for one blessed family! :)

Throughout my childhood, and until I left my parents' nest, my family was never rich in the worldly sense. Thankfully we were never poor, either. We always had enough, which is a great blessing! Thus, it wasn't a hard adjustment for me to be so amazingly broke when Greg and I married (young). We truly lived on love, prayers, and tithing blessings—but we had our plans! :)

As many of you know, when we first married, I worked and put Greg through college so I could eventually become a stay-at-home mom. Greg received two bachelor's degrees in three years (economics and Japanese), while I worked full-time (until our oldest son was born) and he worked part-time.

After Greg had worked for a couple of years in a full-time and steady grown-up job, he began his first master's degree program. I made him take the slow route so he could still be an active and involved husband and father.

Over the next several years, things did not turn out the way we expected or planned, so he was never able to complete his first master's degree. Shortly after we realized he wouldn't be able to finish his master's degree in time—before his classes started "falling off" and he would have had to retake them—Greg decided to get his MBA. Happily for all of us, he graduated in a year-and-a-half! :) Greg's graduation day was one of the happiest days of my life!!!

In terms of education, I think Greg and I prepared very well! I was certain that because of Greg's amazing and dedicated diligence in working and gaining an education (three awesome degrees!), he would be greatly compensated. Don't get me wrong, we have been greatly blessed over the years by the companies Greg has worked for, but our efforts have not yielded the financial results we expected.

I used to think our financial struggles were due to the fact that the companies Greg worked for simply didn't appreciate him enough, but I was wrong. Then I blamed our misfortune with layoffs on the terrible economy—which is partially true. But after gaining the proper perspective over many years, I've determined that Greg's and my path is not supposed to be one that's paved with gold. I've come to believe that we are to live a modest life.

Like my childhood family, my little family has always been blessed to have enough. Whenever Greg and I have anything extra, we now completely understand that it's for a reason: we are to save it for the next financial burden that's just around the corner. This way of thinking/behaving is most definitely not sad, it's actually served us very well and has helped us stay financially afloat during times when we shouldn't have made it!

All of that said, there are times when I wish my little family had unlimited funds:
  • When I see others in true need. I would love to give money wherever I go!
  • When I receive requests for me to donate to "Go Fund Me" websites. I feel badly that I can't contribute.
  • When people I love are gravely hurts my heart to see them suffering physically and financially. I literally wish I could afford to pay all of their medical bills.
  • When I want my little family to go on an amazing vacation (Or I want to learn how to snowboard!), and I don't want us to go into debt for it! :)
  • When our house and/or cars have expensive problems to repair.
  • When my husband longingly looks at Cadillac Escalades on Auto Trader for years. How I wish I could just go pick one up, put a humongous red bow on the hood, blindfold My Gregor and grandly reveal his present!
  • When my children ask for various iDevices because they want to fit-in with their friends. Hey, I'd love to buy iDevices for all of my children's friends, and my friends too! Ha ha.
  • When I want to buy everyone I love (That's a lot of people!) grand presents for their birthdays and Christmas.
  • When I want to bleach my teeth with the special supplies from a dentist. I know, first-world problems!
I'm guessing there might be some critics that look at my silly woes and say, "If they'd just quit being members of that darn church of theirs, they'd get a pay raise post haste!" Well, readers, I assure you, quitting our church is not ever going to happen. :)

I love my church with my whole heart. I love what it represents. I love that my family history is inextricably linked with Church History! I love what it gives to me and my family. I love the service my family and I are able to render because we're members of it. I love how our tithing funds and fast offerings benefit others. I would love to be able to contribute financially to more of The Church's charitable causes one day! I love being instantly connected to endless amazing people across the entire world—and into eternity! I love feeling the Spirit each and every Sunday while participating in sacred ordinances. And the temple? Well, there is nothing that compares to the temple!

So. Even though I'm not a millionaire—and probably never will be—I'm truly, honestly, and sincerely okay with that. And even though I probably won't ever be able to endlessly give money like I desire, there is one thing I can do for myself and others: I can pray. I know that sounds like an oversimplified response, but it's true and prayer works!

For as we learn in Alma 34:17-27,
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren [and sisters!], that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
26 But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.
27 Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.
Yes, I pray for myself and everyone I care about. My prayers are pretty lengthy! :)

In addition to praying, I can also fast. And you'd better believe I fast! I usually fast on Fast Sundays, but when someone I know is suffering, or otherwise in great need, I will do a full fast for them any day of the week. I've seen miracles come from fasting and praying!

This past Fast Sunday, January 4th, 2015, Greg and I fasted for our children's well-being, and for our family's finances. Again, we're technically totally fine financially speaking, but we're still digging-out from our move in 2013 (read: credit card debt); our mortgage is increasing this year due to rising property taxes and homeowners' insurance costs; we're starting our two oldest children in braces next month; we have two 17-year-old minivans with needed repairs; and our garage door is broken. The great news is, we finally paid back the loan Greg's wonderful dad provided for us when we sold our Colorado house at a loss in 2008. Yay us!! Yes, it's always fun to pay off a loan on a house you haven't owned in six years! (Not really. I don't recommend it.)

Anyway, I felt the need for inspiration on how to make all of our endless ends meet—without me re-entering the workforce or Greg getting a new job (because we're settled and we don't want to have to move again!). So, we fasted for help. :)

That lovely Fast Sunday, I "broke" (completed) my fast with my children. (Greg was still at church serving in his calling for our bishop.) I prayed while we held hands around the foot of my bed. It was a sweet, warm and marvelous moment. The Spirit was very strong. I can still envision that lovely experience in my mind! I was so pleased my children willingly participated and listened to my l.o.n.g. prayer, even though they were tired from church and wanted to relax!

I felt such peace that following week. My children were very happy and doing so well in school and their other social activities. And even though our money will be stretched even farther this year, somehow I just knew that everything would work out all right! That said, my husband and I were totally amazed at the email he received Wednesday, January 7th.

I won't go into too much detail, but suffice it to say, my husband was contacted by a recruiter for a position that's a step above his current position. It would have easily covered our financial burdens and then some. The only problem was, the job is located in another state. Still, Greg and I saw this opportunity as a direct answer to our fasting and prayers, so we discussed our options. Not only would Greg have received a nice raise, wonderful recognition and a job title he loved, but the overall cost of living would have been less than what we're currently experiencing. It was quite the amazing prospect!

In the end, we decided to have Greg stay put in his current position because we love our family's stability, adorable city, great friends, and fantastic schools. Plus, his current position allows him to work from home, which is such a priceless blessing to our family. Basically, my family's overall happiness is worth more than money!

What blew me away is the fact that Greg received this email a mere three days after we completed our fast and prayers. It's like Heavenly Father was saying, "Yes, Adrie, I absolutely hear you. I know you're concerned, and I love you! Does this job opportunity help make you feel better?" I just can't get over the fact that Greg and I were given a legitimate option of a way to change our financial circumstances if we so desired. And in the end, we decided we are okay with our lives the just the way they are! We are truly so happy living in our 1970s house—even though it needs umpteen repairs and updates! :)

But that's not the end of our story! Read on!

This past week, Greg was working in Texas. I missed him terribly! I was such a busy mama, which is why I haven't blogged in a while. During the long hours of Greg's absence, I've had a lot of time to think of ways I can cut our budget. I was feeling so positive because as we all know, it's not how much money you make, it's how much money you spend! Thus, I've made many plans I know will help our family make it financially through these next few tight years. :)

And any time I begin to feel picked on because of our tight finances, all I have to do is remember that amazing email Greg received from the recruiter that gave us the legitimate opportunity to change our circumstances, and how we absolutely chose to stay put and live our lives simply! :)

Thus, you can imagine my total, complete, and utter surprise when, yesterday, Greg received some really wonderful news during his year-end review at work. I love that his review was filled with praise, for I fill him with praise every day! Ha ha. What I love even more is that he was given a small raise—for the first time in six years(!)—and a bonus that will help us finally recover from our move from Texas to Utah!

Anyone can say this experience was all just a coincidence, but I firmly and pleasantly disagree. For I know my family's fasting efforts were absolutely recognized. Our prayers were heard and spectacularly answered!

All of that said, just because Greg and I have been given a little financial respite, that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon the inspiration I received in regard to the ways I can cut back my family's spending and save money. Like I said before, anytime we get a little break, I know that means something else is coming around the corner. I'll make sure we're prepared—I won't get sidetracked! :)

Yes, friends, even though I'm not a millionaire, I am so very rich in all of the ways that truly matter: love, family, health, faith, knowledge and friends. And to top off my delicious sundae of life, I positively know that our Heavenly Father knows me, hears me, and answers my prayers!

P.S. I know He hears and answers your prayers, too, I just got caught up in my moment of happiness. :)

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