Monday, June 27, 2011

again and again and again and again

Is it crazier that it has been 5 months since I last blogged or that 5 months ago I had just made it through and wrote about an extremely similar trial as what I am going through now? It is so interesting to me how I can have several recurrent themes in my life, and how I seem to repeat the same difficulty/struggle until I have gotten it right at least 3 times or more.

Since i last blogged, my birth services business has boomed. As of early this month I had 15 midwife clients and 6 doula clients. I have already been a part of the birth of 9 babies this year, and am averaging 1-2 births per month. I have backed down the number of shifts I work at the hospital to only 1-2 per 2 weeks on average. In fact, for 1 complete month, I did not work a single shift at the hospital. Which brings to my current trial.

I had a few prolific months in the pay department from my business, that came just before a very difficult, emotional time, in which I decided to take a few days off from hospital work to spend with my family. Although at that time I had already backed down to 2 shifts alternating with 3 shifts every other week, I was getting so busy with my business that I never felt like I had a real day off. So, with only gentle nudging from my husband, I took a hiatus from hospital work. Next thing I know I had chosen not to work at the hospital an entire month.

It was great, I got caught up on sleep. I spent time with my children and my family and had plenty of time to devote to my business, although it still didn't feel like enough time. However, we had not closely examined our finances and I do not believe now that I had prayed enough or put enough forethought into that decision. If I had, I may have avoided the situation I find myself in now.

Over the last month, as we had no hospital income coming in, life happened. We managed to deplete our emergency fund to cover unanticipated expenses. For the last 2 weeks we had less than $1000 to last us for groceries, gas, and any other bills that were due, including two car payments that were past due that together were about 2/3 of that money. Add in the electric bill we just received, the first high summer bill of the year at almost $400, and anyone can understand why I was feeling stressed.

However, I continued to pray and even fasted a couple of times. I started working 1 shift a week at the hospital again. We patiently awaited 2 insurance checks from a previous client's birth. My husband and I were super careful with the little bit of money we had. I even had old friends come visit for the weekend, and although I was quite tempted to borrow money against the checks we knew would be here any day, we resisted.

I felt very strongly that us not receiving those checks prior to my friends' arrival was a blessing in disguise. No doubt, if we had received the checks when we anticipated them, we would have spent more than we should have. Instead, we had to be very prayerful and judicious with every dime. What a great reminder it was of the importance of being prayerful in the use of our finances and resources and in how mindful Heavenly Father is of us at all times. Even though we certainly weren't deserving of his blessings, he generously bestowed them on us, in the appropriate timing so that we could learn important lessons.

The other interesting part, is that I had received no calls for new clients for a couple of weeks, and in the last week have received 4, 2 of which look promising. In the mean time, while I waited, I learned. I prayed. I thought. I pondered. I discussed over and over again a plan of action with my husband. I waited some more. Finally, we made it through that trial and passed. Hopefully, we can keep it up. Not looking forward to repeating this one again, but at least I know where to turn for help.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go Forward with Faith

Towards the beginning of this year I felt inspired to cut back my hours at work. I had been working 4 and 5 shifts per week. As I was studying last conference's talks, the thought came clearly to me, that I should cut down to 3 shifts per week at the hospital.

In January I fasted and prayed about what my goals should be for this year, and one of them was to spend more time with my family and working on my business, and consequently I received the reassurance that cutting back to 3 shifts per week was in deed what the Lord was directing me to do at this time. This was a somewhat scary idea for me, in that I only had 2 midwife clients at the time and no possible ones in sight, and our budget was based solidly on 4 shifts per week. However, I could not deny that this was the Lord's guidance for me, and I knew that He would bless us accordingly.

This should not have been too scary. I have plenty of faith. However, I have always liked to have some control over my finances and like to plan ahead and know exactly how much money we have to pay our bills. So, going in to this last paycheck, my first one on only 3 shifts per week, I must admit, I was worried. As it got closer and closer to pay day, and no new clients, I kept trying to push away those fears and doubts. Then one of my son's glasses broke beyond repair, my daughter started having some teeth problems. We had to make an extra, unexpected trip to San Antonio.

I stepped up my prayers. I asked Heavenly Father to help me have faith and be patient. I think this may have been one of the hardest tests of my faith I had had in awhile. I even questioned a little if the 3 shifts per week thing was just wishful thinking. Again, I prayed harder.

Friday morning, payday, I was awoken to a phone call. Wouldn't you know, it was a woman looking for a midwife. We scheduled an interview for that evening. Then I quickly got ready, and went off to a meeting for midwives. Just afterwards, I returned an unrecognized phone call. The person calling dialed my number accidentally, but just so happened, was looking for a midwife, and didn't know how to find one.

I then went to a prenatal appointment, where a client going through financial difficulties, had an unexpected financial blessing, and paid me double what she originally thought she would. I felt so overwhelmed by the knowledge that Heavenly Father was coming through for me and my family, that I was shaking. He was blessing me well beyond what I had hoped. Finally, I went to the interview, and they hired me.

It reminds me of the scripture about Peter trying to walk on water with Jesus, in Matt 14: 28-31 . Peter starts to walk on the water out to Jesus, but gets scared and then Jesus saves him, and says "o ye of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" I had faith, but as the seas and winds in my life started to get rough, I started to doubt, and cry out to Him, and He did rescue me. I feel overwhelmed with His great blessings at this time.

I guess I didn't totally doubt, in that I didn't succumb to picking up extra shifts. I have also seen other blessings from backing down to 3 shifts. I am spending more time with my family. I have been able to work on things for my business that I had had to put off previously for lack of time. I have now had the great blessing of moving forward with faith, not knowing what lay ahead of me, only what I was to do, and seeing, that the Lord has everything in His hands and is very much aware of me and my family.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Fridge Only Breaks When You're Already Broke

Why is it that good and bad things seem to come in waves together? It's Christmas time, a wonderful, time of year to think of Jesus Christ and celebrate his birth and life; but also a time of year we seem to find it necessary to spend all kinds of money on our loved ones. Whether that practice is right or wrong, with 6 kids, even limiting the amounts we spend, it adds up to quite a sum pretty quickly.

This Christmas I missed a few hospital shifts to work on midwife related things in the valley, and missed a few more thanks to a combination of being sick and low patient census at the hospital, and so our budget was already tight, very tight. As it was we kept trying to figure and re figure how much money we might be able to spend on our children, and how soon we might be able to spend it, hoping that we wouldn't be stuck buying last minute presents on Christmas Eve.

Then, just when we had paired down our budget and figured we could make it work and still pay bills on time, wham! Broken Refrigerator! I could not believe it. A Fridge is a necessity in our house, as in most homes today. Living out of ice chests lasted for all of about 2 days, when we decided that a new gently used fridge would have to be priority.

We had already explained to our kids that Christmas would be lean this year thanks to the purchase of our beautiful new homes. So, they were only a little surprised when we said "Merry Christmas everyone, your present is a new fridge!" The little kids were quite excited, however, the older ones were not so amused. Then, wouldn't you know it, my Mom's car broke down.

Now, just as bad things seem to congregate, so do good things. We kept our chins up, we kept praying and thanking Heavenly Father for the many things we were still blessed with, food to eat, clothes to wear, a job, our running vehicles, our overall good health, a beautiful home, a mom/grandma that now lives walking distance away, and our faith.

Then, just as quickly things started to look up. We found a great gently used fridge for a fair price. My brothers are all pitching in to help fix my mom's car. Yesterday, just at the opportune moment when I could answer my phone at work in a quiet location, it rang. It was a new midwife client who I will be meeting with next week.

Today, Beeville hospital was low census again, and did not need me, but a hospital in Corpus did. I took the opportunity to sleep a little longer, but slept just a little too long, and was running about 5 minutes late for work. As I drove to work, before I could even slow down, each stop light turned green for me. It felt almost magical, and definitely seemed to be a blessing from Heavenly Father as I managed to clock in 1 minute before 7am. I had a wonderful day at work, working on a floor with nurses and aids I feel very comfortable with, and felt as though I was back home again. We have also figured out a way to buy a few gifts for our children, so our home and the fridge are not the only Christmas gifts this year after all.

So, why is it that the Fridge only breaks when we are already broke? I guess part of it is to see how committed we are to Heavenly Father and to believing that he is watching out for us and blessing us in all things, even our afflictions. It is so easy to moan and groan and complain when these things happen, but so important to choose not to murmur, and instead praise God in all things. When I choose to turn more fully to him in my problems, he teaches me so many lessons that stay put deep in my heart, because there is emotion tied to them. I think my attitude needed some fixing, and a broken fridge, along with other financial struggles did just the trick.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is My Part in Being Healed? Spiritual Answers to My Weight Loss Problems

"Having compassion for a man who was blind since birth, the Savior"spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam...He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing' (John 9:6-7)."

I came across this story the other day, and it really struck a chord with me. In this particular account, it talks about a few key factors in being healed by the Savior.
1. We come to the Savior with our problem
2. The Savior, Jesus Christ, has compassion for us
3. He does His part
4. We do our part
5. We are healed

Many times in the scriptures the stories of Christ healing the sick or afflicted in other manner follows this pattern. I can think to problems in my own life that He has helped me in or even healed me of, and they often fit this pattern as well.

The biggest thing that I needing healing of and continue to, over the last couple of years, has been my problem of compulsive overeating. Just over 2 years ago, I weighed my all time high of 305 pounds. I could walk only short distances at work without feeling tired and/or winded. I always wanted to be sitting down. My size 3X uniforms were tight and ripping from time to time. I felt like my spiritual life was lacking to a certain degree.

Then one day, I had had enough. I realized that my problem with food was more than physical, it was spiritual. I turned to the Lord with all of my heart and prayed for His help, prayed for Him to heal me, and to let me know my part. Whatever He asked of me, I was willing to do. He directed me to do several things, which I did, and I began to lose weight. Even more, my desire to compulsively eat began to fade. I have not had a dessert, sugar filled or sugar free in over 2 years. I lost 120 pounds. He truly was healing me.

At the same time, I have been stuck with the last 20-30 pounds I want to lose, hanging around for the last several months. It has been very frustrating. I have often wondered, what am I doing wrong? I realize, or at least I am admitting to myself, that I have forgotten some important parts of this healing process from time to time.

1. I have not consistently been coming to the Savior with my problem, every day, every meal, every problem. If I skip this step, the rest of the process disappears.

2. Jesus has continued to have compassion on me, that has not changed; however, I at times have been unaccepting of his help or compassion, or have simply not asked for it.

3. He always does His part. No matter how many times I fall, He always picks me up, if I simply ask. This one part truly amazes me and humbles me. He has so many other people to worry about, yet, me, the sinner that I am, He will always help, if I will merely turn to Him.

4. I have not been asking what my part is, and when I have asked, I have been inconsistent in doing my part. This is the hardest part, if I will let it be. Yet I know from experience, that He will give me the strength and help to do anything He asks of me. I just need to ask.

So, what is my part in being healed at this point in my life? I think, for starters, I need to turn to Him fully again. He has real solutions for my problems, and especially this one that I am struggling with now. Then, I need to be willing to take whatever His answers are and do them, completely, and consistently, every day, every meal, every bite.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Indirect Answers to Prayers, or This is the Only Way I Can Get You to Look in the Right Place

Twice in the last couple of days, I have experienced this phenomena. Here's how it works. I have a problem. In the two instances I was talking about, I was looking for something, and could not find it. I said a prayer. I asked for help and direction to find the lost items.

The first item, a missing book, that my mom was hoping to borrow, I immediately felt directed to go look in my car, which was where I last remembered seeing it. I went to my car, no book. I told my mom, I'm sorry, I can't find it. Walked back in the side door to my house, and immediately comes into view, the book. Of all places, it was sitting on top of the dryer. The perfect location for a gospel principles book. I would not have noticed it, if I had not been walking back in that particular door.

The next item, my stethescope, which I usually keep in the same spot, in my car, was completely elusive, as I was running late for work this morning. Of course, I had taken it out of my car, so my children wouldn't play with it, when I took them to the park on Saturday. I placed it very carefully, somewhere where they would not see it and play with it, and consequently, I later, could not find.

Again, I said a prayer. This time, my answer was to get my back up stethescope, which I hate. I did not want to do that. So, I resisted that answer, and kept looking, everywhere. I was getting later and later by the minute. Finally, I relented, I listened to the voice saying "get your backup", and returned to my closet to reach up and get the backup, when immediately below it, I saw my stethescope, the one I was looking for. I would never have found it in that spot, if I had not gone looking for my backup.

I need to remember, that when God speaks to me, he uses what I know. Seeing as I speak english, most of the time, he does not speak to me in Spanish. Since my attention span is too short for him to give me a descriptive location of where to find my stethescope, instead was the location of another object, I definitely knew the location of, that was very near by. I love that he does this. That He takes where I am physically, emotionally, intellectually, and goes with it.

If I will listen to His direction, I will find what I am looking for, always, just sometimes in a round about way. It isn't just about books and stethescopes, I need His help in so many other areas of my life, in all areas.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Facebooking at All Costs

As within anything in life, I am learning the importance of moderation in all things. It is amazing how some of these great tools we have can be used for so much good and so much evil, even if it is merely even in our own personal life. After all, isn't the world made of a whole bunch of personal lives.

Let me start with, I LOVE facebook. Really, I do. I have found myself pulling out my phone in conspicuous locations at work, so as not to be seen, to check status updates. I hate to admit it, but I even have spent extra long sitting in the bathroom, to look at facebook (of course while my hands are still somewhat clean). The other day I went onto networked blogs and spent hours working on getting people to follow my blogs. Thankfully, last year I gave up on the games on facebook, it was even worse then.

I realized on my way to work yesterday that I have been out of balance. Facebook can be a fine tool. It is a great way to connect with others, but it can also be a time waster and even something that distances me from God. The more I choose my favorite time waster when I should be choosing more eternally valuable things, the more I am loosing a little bit of that spirit that draws me closer to God and that I need, to direct me in my day to day life. I can feel a difference.

Now for the hard part, to figure out what amount of time on facebook is ok for me personally. When should I put my phone away and avoid looking at it at all costs. I started by spending a large amount of time asking for forgiveness and for help yesterday, and it has helped. Now, I need to start listening to that guidance and following it. The key to everything in this life is balance. Moderation in all things, including Facebook.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Avoiding the Debt Trap, and Trying to Get Out of It

In the process of trying to improve our credit enough to buy a house this last year, we succumbed to the debt trap. Boy is it a trap. I remember all to well now, why we never wanted to go back.

It just doesn't make sense that lenders won't lend to you if you have no credit, i.e. no debt. However, we started our way back in by buying a car last fall, because my car was having serious problems, and we hoped it might improve our credit. It helped some, but not quite enough.

A couple months later, we got a small credit card. That did the trick, within a few months, we had a new house, with a nice new, hefty house payment. Of course, it is a beautiful home! We love it, and it is perfect in many ways. However, shortly after we moved into our large new house payment, our family vehicle, the trusty suburban, (a necessity for a family of 8 and 1 dog), suffered from a terminal transmission.

Enter hefty car payment #2. Within one year, we went from 100% debt free, to an oversized home payment, 2 extra large car payments, and 1 not small enough credit card payment. Wow, have we felt the weight of this. It is amazing how horrible it feels to have debt, and how enslaving.

Now that I am moving forward with my new business, Bay Area Birth, I have been very tempted to get into more debt. In the church I attend, we have many times, and very recently again, been counseled to stay out of and get out of debt. So, with each new, better, and better credit offer, I have had to try harder and harder to push the thoughts out of my head. With a lot of prayer and change in thought patterns it is getting easier.

One experience I want to share about this, is that yesterday, I was told I was going to be sent home early. I was very upset about that, because, especially right now, every hour I work is counted into my budget. I was planning on the extra 2 hours or so I should have worked.

As I was gathering equipment to take to a patient's room, a recent credit card offer crossed my mind. I thought about how I could buy some needed supplies for my business, and pay for more advertising. Just as quickly, I pushed those thoughts aside, and prayed fervently that Heavenly Father would help me have the strength to follow his guidance and avoid debt, and that if I were to follow his guidance, he would help things to work out.

I went into the patient's room, and by the time I left, about 20 minutes later, the charge nurse came up to me and said they would not be sending me home after all. I knew it was an answer to my prayers, and I had passed one more test in the process towards getting out of our debt trap.