Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sunbathing on the Sea of Dread

Ever planned a vacation for you, your family or just you and your hubby? I know I have and the reason for planning one usually comes because I am way too stressed out, we haven’t had a vacation in who knows how long, or we just need to get away from life. Sound like your reasons?

When you think about it those reasons, it sounds pretty valid. The real thing is for me, based on those reasons alone, would cause me to take daily vacations if you knew my life and the things that go on in it daily. However let’s really break it down and see just how “relaxing” it is.

We have to decide first of all where we are headed, that could take weeks for some. Once you decide on a location, you have to check the weather, locate a family friendly hotel, book the hotel, book any activities that you may need to, pack for the vacation, get airline tickets, or car rentals or even pack the family truckster up. Then you have to get to the airport, get through security, locate food since airlines stopped serving food except the prepackaged peanuts of approximately 7 inside, and wait in line for your flight. Then you have to deal with any potential delays of your flight, connecting flights, lost luggage, bathroom breaks, and locating a rental car or airport shuttle after picking up your luggage from a never ending pile from baggage claim. Then it’s off to navigate some foreign roads you never have driven; deal with toll roads, and since you never have correct change since most people ATM it lately; check into your hotel, deal with not enough pillows, bad smelling room, uncomfortable beds, and the noisy neighbors just on the other side of your paper thin room. Sounding relaxing yet? Yeah right….

If you’re like me, you need a vacation from your vacation when you get back. Isn’t that what your original design for a vacation was supposed to be? If you are like me, what you were expecting was lots of sleep in a luxury room, with a feather bed, tons of super soft pillows, no noise whatsoever, being waited on hand and foot, all your meals are prepared with just the touch of a few buttons on the phone, no worries right?

We worry about everything and anything! We live in a worry-filled society in a worry-filled world with lots of other worriers like ourselves. The truth is however that worrying changes nothing. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

There are a wealth of opportunities to be anxious about everyday and it’s never ending. Take for example, the stimulus bill, our states budget crisis, layoffs from every company you know, foreclosures at an all time high, late notices of every utility bill and credit card, deaths of loved ones, family members, friends and even perfect strangers, abortions, problems with our cars, divorce, marriage, gay issues, stem cell research, wars and never ending natural disasters. Got a lot on your plate at night??? How about popping a pill for that? Valium, Xanax, sleep aids, you name it, you can be assured you can locate a doctor willing to listen to just a sample of the issues I mentioned above, and you’ve got yourself a personalized autograph prescription. Yet, it doesn’t take the worry away. It only puts it off, it’s right there where you left it once you wake up or the drugs where off.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” Matthew 6:34

The things I have listed that we worry about are the same things our parents and grandparents worried about, but worrying about them did nothing to prevent them from happening. Worry ruins our health, robs us of any joy and changes nothing. Worrying about something does nothing to change the thing we are worrying about. Sometimes worrying about those things makes things worse than they were before.

One simple sentence unveils God’s provision plan: “Live One Day At A Time”. God disclosed this same strategy to Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. He provided manna daily, one day at a time, not monthly or weekly. Even on the day prior to the Sabbath, God knew what He was doing. He told them not to gather it on the Sabbath, but the day before. He provided twice as much for them because He wanted them to keep the Sabbath holy and do no work, including the gathering of food. Did the Israelites worry? Yup, even after witnessing all God’s miracles, they worried constantly up to the point of wishing they were back in Egypt where they had plenty of food, water and a place to sleep at night. They grumbled about it daily and constantly.

But weren’t they complaining during their time in Egypt for God to free them from their bondage as slaves to the Egyptians? God answered their prayers, but He never promised them that everything would be a perfect “stress free vacation” of sorts. But He did answer their prayers, just not the way they had hoped.

What they saw as problems, God saw as provisions. Imagine quail in the desert, so numerous that each family had so much that they complained that they were sick of eating it. More grumbling, more worrying!

Worry splits up our thoughts into today and tomorrow. So why don’t we worry about yesterday? Because we know that nothing we can do today will change what happened yesterday. Worrying about tomorrow’s problems today, takes away the strength God gives us to get through today’s worries. This leaves us with not enough resources to deal with today because we borrowed on it to fix tomorrow’s worries. Now we are in debt with worry. No wonder we feel like we can’t deal with just today. We are too busy tackling tomorrows, next weeks, next months and sometimes even next year’s worries. No wonder we are stressed out, sick physically, tired, run down, and at the end of our rope or even all of the above. God never planned on us dealing with things that way. “One day at a time.” Hear the voice of God?

If you are like me, we worry so much about something that has yet to happen, but most of the time, what we worry about never really happens. Worry gives small problems, big shadows. Corrie Ten Bloom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of it’s sorrows, it empties today of it’s strength.” “God will take care of everything you need.” (Phillippians 4:19)

So what can you do to eliminate this worry and stress from your life?

1. Pray More!!! You can’t worry while your praying and you can’t pray when you are worrying. In my case, this means I need to pray most of my day. I worry a lot. The average person prays about 8 minutes a day when the average pastor only prays about 10 minutes. Shouldn’t that tell us something? Imagine how different our lives might be if we just prayed a little bit more? Couldn’t hurt right? No where in the Bible does it say to pray a little or to put limits on our prayer time right?

2. Want Less! I tell my daughters this daily when it comes to buying things, especially in this economy where the average family is barely making ends meet while paying more for groceries, gas, bills, and everything else while our income goes down or stay the same as it was before. So I have to ask them, “Is this a want or a need?” Sometimes I have to remind them of the definitions of each. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Enough for today is all we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than today’s supply of food and clothing. The surplus gives us the care of storing it and the anxiety that someone may steal it. Enough is all we should expect, but a craving for more is ungratefulness. When our Father does not give you more, be content with your daily allowance.” (The NIV Worship Bible, New International Version, Dana Point, CA: Maranatha 2000, 1302)

3. Live for Today. “Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27. God will take care of things in His time, not in our time. He sends help at the hour we need it. You don’t have the wisdom for tomorrow’s problems, but we will tomorrow. You don’t have the resources for tomorrows needs, but you will tomorrow. You don’t have the courage for tomorrow’s challenges, but you will when tomorrow comes.

God will meet our needs daily. He did then, he still does, and he will continue to do for you always. Trust in Him, and wait! Don’t worry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Plane Crash Survival Mode

I think it's OK to be completely honest with God. I mean He knows what we are thinking anyway right? I believe He is looking at us and wondering when are we going to say something. Let it go, get it off our chest and ultimately lay the burden down. Empty the load we are carrying unnecessarily.

So yesterday I had my moment of self pity and grief. My husband got off the phone with our lender, Nationstar Mortgage (a blog post will be forth coming on this company) and we learned we did not qualify for the HAMP or HAMP 1 loan modification. But if we were willing to send them a wire transfer for $2900.00, they would reconsider some other loan options for us. Sound fishy to you too?

Right away, I told my husband, something isn't right in Denmark on that issue!

 And I began to research the company in detail. What I found there and shared with my husband quite literally rocked my world. We are just one of thousands of people who are dealing with this and no one is stopping the process. So I turned to my husband and asked, "What should we do now?" He responded that we should begin with back up plan B, C, D and every letter necessary to secure a home for us.

It was at this point yesterday and the evening before, I went into melt down mode. My plane had come crashing down, as my brother, reminded me yesterday. I didn't really take that into consideration until later. It made perfect sense! He told me to stop seeing all the collateral damage. See it as a plane crash and you have survived. Now that you have realized you are still alive, process this like you would if you were in an actual plane crash.

First of all, don't panic. I did panic. I felt the air removed from my lungs and couldn't breath. But what he said made sense.

In a plane crash as a survivor if you want to make it out alive, you don't panic. You begin working things out one at a time. We are in survival mode now and we needed to begin to develop what needed to happen next to ensure our survival. In a plane crash, you need to figure out shelter, food and water requirements while waiting for help to arrive. You never leave the crash site, unless danger is imminent.

So in our case, until the notice comes for us to leave the site, we stay put but work on shelter issues first. For us, it's finding a suitable shelter. We are working with a property management company now to find us a rental home nearby that is within our range of monthly payment options. We actually found several ready to move into NOW and they are willing to work with us regarding our less than stellar credit now thanks to this lending nightmare they forced us into .

Once that is settled, then it's simply the process of moving and friends have been amazing as well as neighbors who have volunteered to help out in anyway we need. We simply now need to stop worrying about other what ifs, that the enemy is sending our way because you know what, there is NOTHING God can't do in all this. He could have made the mortgage company approve our loan, but in the end, we've found so many homeowners are being subjected to the whims of monthly payment increases and more hoop jumping and quite frankly, I'm a bit too old and seasoned to keep doing this.

 At some point you wonder just how many times do you need to walk around the plane wreck and believe that the plane can't fly anymore? Unless we accept the wisdom and revelation that comes from answered prayers from God, I will keep walking around that plane looking for possible ways to get it back up in the air, while God simply shakes His head and waits patiently.

At some point, I figured it out last night and realized, "Hey look! I survived!!! Time to find a way out of here, and with God's help it is definitely a possibility!!"

 So when you go through something that feels way over your head and you question God's Hand in all of it, remember Job's wise words when he lost all that he had and what he did in the midst of his own plane crash, Then Job rose and rent his robe and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshiped. And said,"Naked (without possessions) came I (into this world) from my mother's womb, and naked (without possessions) shall I depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed (praised and magnified in worship) be the name of the Lord!" ~ Job 1: 21-22.

 In God's own time, He will rescue us, but we will continue to keep our eyes on Him and remain in our walk with God by our side. The journey isn't over yet and the harvest is coming. Sunday is near and soon it will be time to rejoice in all things.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jumping Through Hoops?

I know most of you that are following my blog or reading this post from Facebook already know the craziness that we have been walking through this last year. While dealing with one failed mortgage company after another, we have almost reached the end of our proverbial rope and I am wondering if I am supposed to hang myself with it. That's an internal thought, not an actual one that I am contemplating. But sometimes in those long walks in the valleys where our character and faith are truly being tested, don't you wonder where the oasis has gone or are they all merely mirages?

Yesterday after our daily battle with Nationstar Mortgage, we reached yet another customer service rep of the day. We actually NEVER talk to the same person twice. If you attempt to reach the same person, you are given their voicemail extension to which NO ONE will EVER call you back. I can't tell you how many messages, emails, letters, you name it we have sent to this mortgage company, only to have NO ANSWER!

We have answered every single request, contacted them on a daily basis seeing as our sale date is set for October 12th at 1pm. The funny thing is that Nationstar has hired a company to push us through the foreclosure proceedings, while they attempt to work with us on loan modification, including the federal OBAMA HAMP program, which I have failed to see work for anyone who has tried. We are told our income to debt ratio is off by 6% but no one will let us speak with a person who is actually processing our loan documents. Despite it all, Nationstar denies that they are proceeding with foreclosure and they have no knowledge of it at all. In fact, we've even gone so far as to fax them all said documents and they still deny it. We called the company who is handling this for Nationstar and we're told by their attorney that they are aware of everything because it's the law to notify the mortgage company of everything. Just what is that smell anyway?

I believe it's called political and government failure. While millions of people continue to jump through the circus hoops in this sick side show, the banks are getting fat off the government to foreclose on these loans and have their own debts wiped clean. This is why this country is failing. It's driving our economy down and those that are living off the meat of those that have worked to put these people in business have failed to understand how quickly they could wind up right where we are. In the meantime, we are looking for rental property while the home we've worked at trying to keep, despite the Foreclosure Specialists that are working "for us" to save our home, will undoubtedly be sold next week. What I have learned in the process, is that scavengers are everywhere waiting to swoop in and steal what they can from you, that everyone who says they are trying to help, are only stalling until the inevitable, and the Foreclosure Specialists are just that, specialists in foreclosing on your home.

I wish they would just be up front and honest and tell people, NOPE, we're not going to help you, too bad so sad, you should probably be looking for somewhere else to live, because you're time is running out. In the long run, I can add professional hoop jumper to my resume! I know I have LOTS of experience wasting my time filling out yet more forms and spending money to mail things that will never be looked at by anyone, expect for the mail room person who places that in the circular file and the trash men that take it to the dump.

For those of you that think, we deserve it, perhaps maybe we do. Maybe we are guilty of believing the lies that good things happen to those that do the right things. I know our home isn't here anyway, and I can only hope God comes quickly. Things are getting rough here for believers anymore and for those that try to stay on the straight and narrow path. There are always thieves lying in wait for you to come across their path. For what it's worth, I had to put this on my blog. It's a part of the life, we've been going through and I believe we're heading for calmer waters soon. This will be a part of my testimony when I can go back later and analyze it all. The stuff we have here on earth is merely on loan anyway. Time to try establishing a new zip code anyway! Home is where you make it.