Beauty Out Of Ashes

Thankfulness /

Last photos before surgery… Jan 2015

There is nothing more thrilling than taking one of the sunniest and most relaxing times of the year and saddling up to read a book on suffering. Yet, this is where I find myself. I am enjoying it so much that I have found multitudes of excuses not to sit down and read so I am several days behind the rest of the group. I use a daily app from Proverbs 31 Ministries called 1st 5. Right now we are reading the book of Job. For those of you who might not know, Job is a book in the Bible. Job pronounced J – O – B, is a man who lived a decent life, suffered greatly and then returned to a decent life.

At this point in the narrative Job has in a few days time lost all his children, (he had 10) and all his livestock (all his wealth). They perished in a series of raids from neighboring tribes and natural disasters which also consumed his land and dwellings. Shortly thereafter Job was physically struck with boils all over his body. The only thing that was spared was his life and his wife. She’s not the most helpful soul and I suppose she was spared to cause Job even more grief.

Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:3

He spends the whole of chapter 3 cursing the day he was born. Job wondered aloud why if God knew he was going to suffer this much, why had he allowed him to be born at all?

A little over a year ago I was gearing up for my 2nd mastectomy surgery. I had recently finished chemo and radiation. During chemo, our business had taken a huge hit as a result of circumstances out of our control. These circumstances had forced us to contact a lawyer as the situation rendered us in a position to not be able to make the monthly note payments (note to future self … don’t go into debt for any reason!) and keep the doors open at the same time.

The day before surgery my besties had gathered at our favorite sandwich shop to hang with me and offer their love and support for the upcoming weeks of recovery. Just as I was headed out the door to meet them, Mr. Wonderful called and said we were being counter sued. I had no time for lunch. I showed up at the restaurant and for the 5 minutes I had to spare, I sat there and cried. Breast removal, lawyers, chemo, radiation, medical bills… it was just too much. I told my friends I wish I knew what I was doing wrong so that I could fix it and the suffering would end. There were more than a few times during that season when I asked God if he would just take me home. I didn’t curse my birth but I was so ready to be done living.

The Art of Thankfulness /


God was fulfilling a promise in my life clearly stated in the book of John…

…. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

He promised there would be trouble/suffering/pain. No one is spared, not even his one and only son. What I tried to do and what Job did do is to trust God in the midst of the pain. There is grief and tears and a lot of times no horizon of relief to look towards but whether we can see it or not God is always in control. I wasn’t real thrilled at the prospect of reading this particular book of the Bible. Focusing on suffering makes me feel anxious about what our next round will look like. I still have a hard time approaching suffering with an attitude of joy. In my head, I know God creates beauty out of ashes but I have to keep reminding my heart.

Have A Fabulous Day My Friends!

One Day At A Time

So I had a realization the other day while I was driving to work. I was feeling discouraged about some goals we set for ourselves several years ago which have not come to fruition. 2015 was supposed to have been the year that would launch us into a new era financially. In 2014 we made some big changes at the office and put ourselves in a position to hunker down, get the last of our debt paid off and to begin saving and making our financial dreams come true. We hired a business coach, created a vision for our business and set up a strategic plan to move things forward to make the vision a reality. We completed phase one of an office remodel just before Christmas and were ready to face all the greatness that 2015 had to offer.

Christmas Eve 2014 /

Christmas Eve 2014

See, we’re on this plan, a Dave Ramsey plan. I know I have mentioned him several times before but if this is your 1st time reading my blog, in short he is a guy who helps people through a seven step process get out of debt and begin to save and eventually give money away. We discovered him several years ago when our lifestyle of outspending our income became so overwhelming that we sought out a way to make changes in how we were handling money. It sucks to see how much money you have on paper and yet have no clue as to why none of it is actually in the bank. Dave’s plan teaches you how to be in control of your money and to know where every dollar is spent.

We are all in. The prospect of being debt free is so exciting that it helps us stick to the plan. The problem? Well, life is the problem. See if you listen to Dave’s radio program, (or podcast or youtube channel… he’s everywhere) you start to see a pattern where most of the people are out of debt (except the mortgage) in 18 to 24 months. The big caveat is to listen to the debt free screams of those who have paid everything off including their mortgages. I am still waiting for our moment and we have been at this way longer than 24 months. There are a few things I have come to realize along the way. First of all a lot of those debt free screamers are under the age of 35, have very small children or no children at all and they live in the midwest where a really nice house is $150,000.00. This realization does not make me want to give up nor does it make me think that people that are older and have a lot more hurdles to jump through can’t themselves become debt free. What it does is make me realize that I cannot compare myself to them because our life, your life, is different.

In 2012, just after we had made the decision that we would no longer go into debt for anything no matter what, our daughter, then 8, got pneumonia. The fluid from her lungs seeped into her blood stream and we won a 3 day hospital stay in our home town and then a 4 hour ambulance ride to a children’s hospital in Portland where they inserted a tube into her chest and invited us to stay in the hospital for another 7 days. Thankfully she fully recovered and has had no lasting consequences from that adventure.

To mention that this was a budget strain is a huge understatement. (This all happened 6 months after Aimee died, so you can imagine how well I was handling this emotionally.) Fortunately the debt we incurred was medical and had no interest attached but all of our other debts took a back seat while we took care of this. Fast forward to 2015 where I said we were going to “git r done?” Well, as most of you know I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer on December 31, 2014. What is even more awesome than that is that while I was taking my turn in, The Chair the previous owners of our business decided to open up shop down the road. Because we didn’t know about Dave when we purchased the business we purchased it with debt and we owed them quite a bit of money. The hit was great enough that legal counsel was sought and the lawsuits began. I decided that my new goal for 2015 was to not die and I asked Mr. Wonderful to handle the legal stuff without me. As with most lawsuits the real winners were the lawyers as they were paid handsomely while neither suing party fared very well in the end.

I say all of this not to infer that my life is harder than other peoples but to shed light on the fact that if your progress isn’t what you hoped it would be then make sure you are taking a look around and discovering why instead of giving up because it’s too hard. I am proud to say that through all of this we have not occurred any more consumer debt. We cash flowed both cancer and lawyer fees. We did borrow a bit from a family member but paid him back two months later.

So here we are in 2017 once again ready to finish off the last of our debt. The ride hasn’t been pretty or easy or fun but we still have the will and determination to follow the baby steps and finally be in a place where we are no longer a slave to what we owe.

A friend of ours said the other day, “Living in debt is like being and indentured servant, as long as it’s there you have no control over your life.”

Living your life without payments… just how great would that feel?

Have a fabulous day my friends!





Food … The Easy Way

I have a secret. Ok, it’s not really a secret because lots of people know about it. But just in case you haven’t heard about it  I am about to revolutionize dinner at your house. It’s called emeals. I discovered it years ago when we first began following Dave Ramsey. He is a promoter as is another organization called Focus On The Family.

I share my love of emeals to all my friends and family. I share it so much that I looked them up to see if  I could become an affiliate for them so that if you click the link in my blog then I will receive a small commission. Every little bit helps right? Honestly though whether you click a link here or just go to their website, you really need to check this out.

Emeals is life changing. Here’s how it works: you sign up and then choose what kind of food  your family likes to eat, high protein, low carb, paleo, clean eating, crockpot comfort food, crockpot clean eating, regular comfort food… the list is really quite long and spans almost every type of menu you can come up with. So, you choose your food style and then emeals, emails you a menu every Wednesday along with a shopping list to purchase all that you need to prepare all the meals. Pretty awesome right?

When we first began using this service I was working with Mr. Wonderful a lot at the office, I was tired at night and healthy eating was getting non existent. It was more important to get food, any food on the table. I chose the crockpot clean eating menu and all of my dinner problems disappeared. I had all the ingredients I needed for every meal for a week and honestly I stretched the food out to a week and a half most of the time with all the leftovers. We have a gluten free eater in our household and the clean eating menu pretty much solved the guess work in trying to decide how to accommodate everyone.

When I got cancer, food prep was so easy for everyone that came to help out. Mr. Wonderful purchased what was on the list and then whoever was here that week didn’t have to think about how to feed everyone. There was a recipe for each day and it made life so much less stressful as removing the food decisions out of the equation made it easier to focus on everything else that was going on. I’m not gonna lie and say that as a chemo patient that the smell of the crockpot going all the time was pleasant but I knew that the food being prepared was healthy and that my family was being taken care of.

As I have gotten healthier I have switched us over to the paleo plan as I am trying to eat grain and sugar free. The cool thing about emeals is that you can switch around the plans whenever you want. They also have breakfast and lunch options but we just use the dinner. I have really loved it and it has saved us a lot of money. I improvise when I need to and there are weeks when I like to come up with my own plans but overall emeals has been a true bacon saver.

Go check it out. Treat yourself to the whole notion of worry free, hassle free dinners.

Beginning Again… (Part 1)

Family 2005 /


We all have different phases or seasons of our lives. Some of these seasons are brought on by choices that we make and others are brought on by circumstances beyond our control. When our kids were little they were my thing. I didn’t enter into motherhood until I was 33. (Hence the high level of estrogen in my system and the subsequent bout with cancer, but I digress) I was so ready to be a mom and I jumped in with both feet. I had worked for our church for several years in the youth department and knew with all my heart that upon the arrival of our daughter that I wanted to stay home and be with her. So I did. Two years later our son came along and our family felt complete. Oh we had our issues, don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of life being lived in those years including a couple of miscarriages and the sudden passing of my brother in law, Tony. But overall I felt comfortable in my role as mommy and tender of our home.

When we moved to Coos Bay my world got a little bigger as we got involved in a new church and made new friends. This is when I met Aimee. We were just beginning to get to know each other when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I had never known anyone with cancer so I wasn’t real sure how to proceed but we just hit it off. In the end our families kind of adopted each other. For two and a half years we did everything together. Friday nite pizza nites, birthdays, holidays, fishing, boating … you name it, we did it. But again there was reality mixed in as there were surgeries, treatments, and a gazillion trips to Portland for various tests and checkups. In the end God chose to heal Aimee by bringing her home to him. That was a huge blow as my desire was for earthly healing and for us to raise our kids together and hit the road proclaiming God’s grace and mercy and provision to anyone and everyone that would listen. It also marked the end of another season for me.

At this point in our lives the kids were now in school and Mr. Wonderful needed more help in getting our business off the ground so I entered the world of business owner and set myself to the task of relieving some of the pressure from his shoulders as well as educating myself in ways to become a successful entrepreneur. This was also the season when we discovered Dave Ramsey and his principles on debt free living as well as a book he wrote called Entreleadership. Mr Wonderful describes our little world as a ship. Our ship had been sailing in the wrong direction and was in danger of running aground. In the proccess of learning how to more effectively run our business and to immediately cut off going into more debt, our ship began to get further away from the shoreline and in fact began the slow process of turning around and heading in the right direction.

Recital 2012 /

With new vision there is hope of what can be. I had a role in our business but it was one that kept me behind a desk all day and working with forms and documents. Well, I am not much of a forms and documents kind of girl and I was so on fire with the improvements that we were making that I just wanted to share it with others and see if what we were learning could benefit them as much as it was benefiting us. It was about that time that I read a book by Jon Acuff called Start. It was all about stepping out and doing something, anything that gave you momentum. The idea is that once you are moving in a direction, the way you should go becomes more clear. I wanted to make a bigger impact. I wanted to affect change in peoples lives and the most obvious thing at the time was to join my husband at the helm and get certified to be a financial advisor. So I began with life and health insurance licensing and went on to study for and pass the series 7 exam. I was flying high at this point because the series 7  was the biggest challenge I had ever taken on and I won.

Family 2013 /

I began devouring everything that I could get my hands on as far as becoming a successful entrepreneur was concerned. Good To Great by Jim Collins, podcasts by Chris Locurto (which eventually led to a coaching session with him), Michael Hyatt Andy Stanley and of course the Entreleadership podcast. I was a sponge and I wanted to be the best we could be so that we could effect the most change in peoples lives and help them to become the best they could be. We hired a business coach and created a strategic plan to move the business to the next level. We implemented the plan, remodeled the office and then got diagnosed with breast cancer.



To Be Continued….



What is your legacy?

Legacy is a term I have been mulling over these last several months. It has so many connotations. Since I deal in the world of money I think a lot about the financial legacy we are leaving for our children. Not only in physically leaving them money but leaving them with a very healthy, very real view of money and how to save it, spend it and give it.

It helps that a book like Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze  has come out. But it also seems that when you begin down a path doors begin to open up everywhere to reinforce the things you are learning. This weekend I attended a women’s retreat and it to was about your legacy. The speaker said that there are two kinds of legacy. Observed and Intended.

Observed is how people see you, how they feel when they have left your presence. Think about this for a second, how do people feel when they walk away from you or when they think about you? Do they think you are a complainer? overly critical? sad? frustrated? depressed? or do they think you are kind? compassionate? encouraging? engaging? It’s less about how you are in one circumstance and more about how you are in general. So overall what kind of impression do you leave behind?

Intended is what you are desiring for others to either learn or gain from you by having known you. If you have children they are your greatest legacy and the gifts that you impart to them will have the the greatest impact of all.  If you are intending to leave a lasting legacy to your children and to those who come in contact with you, what are you filling your life with that is going to spill over into the lives  of others? What do you spend most of your time doing? Watching TV? Video Games? Facebook? None of those things are either right or wrong the question isn’t if you do any of those things but how much time are you spending doing them. TV and video games are not issues for me. Facebook on the other hand I have to admit that I have to monitor. What about reading? What are you reading? I love to read and the types of things that I have enjoyed reading has evolved over the years. As I look back at some of the things I used to find interesting or that I just read to pass the time, I cringe a little bit. What goes in definately comes out. So what are you letting in?

Legacy. What kind of legacy are you going to leave behind?

Telling Your Money Where to Go.

For those of you who are familiar with Dave Ramsey, telling your money where to go is a very familiar phrase. Dave Ramsey is an author, talk show host and personal finance expert. His Financial Peace University classes have helped millions of people get out of debt and move on to other things… like living.

The whole idea of telling your money where to go sounds hard at first because if you think about it most of us have lived our lives the other way around. We are always wondering where our money went. More days left in the month than money in our pockets.

So what if you sat down each and every month and decided BEFORE the month began where you were going to spend your money. Its not about not spending it’s about knowing what you are going to purchase before you purchase it. Mortgage, food.. ie the basics and then the not so basics, taking the family to the movies, new shoes, kids sports fees etc.

The idea is that you are still spending money its just you now know where its going. Once you know where it is going you can see patterns in your spending, you can change some of those patterns and begin to use that extra money to pay down your debt.

I don’t think there is a weight loss plan out there that doesn’t tell you to write down every single thing you put into your mouth. This way when you jump up 5 lbs you can look back and realize that the “few” cookies you thought you ate was actually the entire batch! Its the same with money. To know where its going you have to write it down.

I’d love to hear your thoughts… Where does your money go?

A lot or a little

Money needs a plan.

Whether you have a lot or a little, it all needs a plan. There is a mentality out there that if we just had more money everything would be ok. But without a plan more is never going to be enough.

What does a plan provide? Freedom. Freedom from worry about where your money went. Freedom to save, freedom to invest, freedom to give.

Do you have a plan?

What’s in a Word?

MONEY!!! It’s quite a word. Six little letters. Those six letters have the power to reduce people to tears and cause others to shout for joy. The use of those six letters can save a life or destroy one.

Take a minute and think about it. What comes to your mind when you think of the word Money? We all have some sort of an emotional reaction to it, whether positive, negative or indifferent. When it comes to personal finances we all have a choice to make. Either we can let our money (or lack of it) control us or we can control it.

Sounds simple huh? And the decision to take control is truly a simple decision to make. But as with everything else in life it’s the actions that you take to backup the decision that will make the difference. Losing weight, eating right, growing your business, becoming a better person. All decisions. All useless without a diligent, consistent plan to make the decision a reality.

And guess what? It’s kind of hard. Just like losing weight, it’s a whole new way of life. It’s taking responsibility for every single dime you spend. Whether you have lots of dimes or only 1. But oh the joy on the other side! The freedom you will feel by being in control of where your money goes is indescribable!

What do you think? What comes to your mind when you think of the word Money? Comment below and let’s start the conversation!