Papers taped to the door

This is a story that is near and dear to my heart. It’s raw and authentic. It’s one that has taken a very long time to be spoken out loud. However, the minute my husband and I had the courage to talk openly about it, we began to see hope in the eyes of many in similar circumstances. That’s when I realized, this story was not meant for us to experience only, but it was meant to be shared, to help others, no matter how difficult it would potentially be. If you’re not interested in reading a story about the hardships of life and the hope that can come through them, you are welcome to close the page here. If you need some encouragement and think you may potentially relate through some situation you are dealing with, I strongly recommend you continue reading.

Have you ever gone through a neighborhood and driven past a house with papers on it? You know, that home that looks vacant, with no sign of life passing through it since God knows how long. As you look closely you see a piece of paper taped to the front door, and possibly on the front window. I’m not talking about the homes that have the official papers that say this isn’t a safe home to be in because it was a drug home or anything like that. I’m talking about the home that shows signs of, well, a foreclosure.

I pass by these homes now in a moment of silence as I wonder what could have happened. What was their story? What happened to the family? Where are they now? I wonder if they look at this home with tears in their eyes, knowing that due of a series of unfortunate events that took place in their life, their precious home was taken away from them. I wonder if they fought to save it. I wonder if they knew they could. I wonder why, why does shame come when people live in this turmoil. A shame that causes them to shut up, shut out and not say a word to anyone, before its too late. I wonder if they look at those few or several years with regret, or if they found a way to learn something during the chaos and become stronger in the process. I wonder about the papers taped to the door.

When I met my husband in 2011, he was earning the most money he ever had in his life. He had finally “arrived” at his dream job and even as a single dad, was on top of the world practically. With 5 beautiful children, he got to be full time dad to them through the week, and then when they went to their moms on the weekend he got to take part in his childhood dream as a professional firefighter. With so much extra income, he began a hobby on the side, which entailed purchasing older vehicles, like Mustang’s and Nova’s and many other car names that are not coming to my head right now (clearly I am not car smart like he is). Then he would fix and clean them up and sell them for two or sometimes three times the amount he paid for them. After working hard to improve his credit, a month before he and I began dating, he was finally able to purchase a home for himself and his children. A home that fit them so perfectly. Where each one of the kids actually had their own room, and with a family of 6, that is pretty hard to find in a small town like Umatilla. Life was good, life was comfortable with room to breathe.

January 2012 came, and we both went to Success School for our Advocare business, to further our personal and professional growth and development. Afterwards, Jeff stayed in Texas an extra week for additional firefighter training for his job at the Army Depot back home. While at this training he got a text message and then later a call from a co-worker. In a nutshell, the message and call relayed that the fire department was shutting down in August of 2012. Though the Army Depot was in the process of closing down, the fire department staff had been told for the past 2 years that they were to be part of a transition force during the shutdown continuing with employment until 2014/2015. This was a huge shock to my husband, especially since just months before he was asking for assurance from his supervisors that he would have a couple more years on this job prior to purchasing a home. This was a surprise to the whole staff. For us, after it had time to sink in, we remained positive and looked for the silver lining in the storm clouds looming on the horizon. We recognized that our part-time business with Advocare was growing, we saw it as our “Plan B”, knowing we could just keep pressing forward and not have to worry about the job loss when the time came.

On February 12, 2012, Jeff asked me to marry him. No, he didn’t wait till Valentines Day because, like me, he likes to be different. As the next few months went on and options for the Fire Department staff members began to be revealed, we realized what a slim picking of choices Jeff had if he desired to remain a government employee. Having joint custody of his children, relocating for a job would mean giving up parental/custodial rights with the children. That was immediately out of the question. The next option was another dead end. If you’ve never had a federal job, this might be a little confusing to understand, because it was for me at first. When he began work at the army depot he started out as a GS-5 level worker in security. Gradually throughout the 9 years he was there he gained promotions and got to a GS-9 level job. The levels equate to higher pay. But when he heard about the fire fighting opportunity, his dream job, he knew he had to apply. However, this dream job required some sacrifice as it would result in a reduction from GS-9 to a GS-4. Considering all the positive and negative aspects, along with a significant cut in pay, the positive far outweighed the negative. Fortunately, this position was different from all his previous jobs as he worked 3 days straight at a time for a total of 72hrs per week. As a firefighter, you have to stay on site at all times of the day and night to be ready for any emergency that could happen. So he would work a 72 hour shift vs 40. With the additional hours per pay check, and training hard, Jeff was able to quickly get his pay check back to its previous level within 6 months. Then over the course of the next 3 years and working hard through training and advancement, he was able to significantly surpass his previous jobs income. When the news came out that the depot was closing sooner than expect and everyone had to find a new job, the depot would only look at his highest level from the past 3 years, which was a 7, not a 9. Plus the depot would look for any job at that level, not just a fire fighting job. So not only would he possibly get a job with nearly half the hours on the clock, but also at a lower level of pay than his highest accomplishment. This would have reduced his yearly income by half. I hope that made sense to you so you can understand where we were. Looking at all of our options, we decided to focus on our plan B business to gain income instead of what the depot had to offer, because our option looked much better than theirs.

We got married, and the next day the paperwork went in for the end of his job as a firefighter. A few weeks later we found out I was pregnant. On top of that being newlyweds, we got really distracted with that season of life and simply wanting to spend every moment together. It’s hard to say this, but the dream we had of being at home together and working together, which was our purpose initially in our business, suddenly became our distraction or excuse and we took advantage of enjoying those benefits too soon, not having put in the work first to earn those freedoms. What that meant was, once Jeff’s severance package was gone, our income was a $1,000 a month at best. With a healthy dose of reality quickly setting in, this brought us into a tough decision. Were we going to continue to work our business, (which due to our poor time management, was growing slower than we anticipated) or get another job. We decided to change some habits, push hard and get back to work. We ended up the last half of that year nearly tripling our income making almost 3,000 a month and even earned a trip to Cabo, Mexico, right before our baby was born. Then we made a poor, but common leadership mistake and became more like managers instead of continue to lead and pave the way for our team. The next year in 2013 our team began to dwindle away and our income went back down to 1,500-2,000 a month. Now, with 6 children and two adults in a home, that was not enough income. Our problem with our business, we weren’t consistent and when obstacles arose, I had a hard time weathering the storm. All that to be said, it wasn’t a failure, we just had to grow to gain better leadership skills and understand what it took to tough it out. We needed more personal growth to happen before our paycheck would reflect it consistently. Unfortunately, we had a choice most months; we either pay our mortgage, or pay for the other bills like electricity and water and enough food and gas to make it through each week. We choose making it through the weeks and pay the bills. The other downside, now looking back on this season, was we had no financial education. We weren’t making smart financial choices. I don’t mean that we were blowing money left and right. I actually went into a poverty mindset, I would never spend money, because I felt like we didn’t have anything to spend. But we didn’t save, we didn’t invest, we had a scarce mindset and that hindered us in the long run. Before I knew it, we were getting letters in the mail with threats of foreclosure.

Now I was new to all of this. I had only rented homes before, I never knew what it meant to own a home, much less what the process took to get one, because I wasn’t around at the time when Jeff got the home. I remember when our taxes came in the following year, we tried to give them what we owed, but we were 2,000 dollars short, and they wouldn’t take any of the money because we didn’t have ALL the money. We were stuck, and the sad part about it was, I started losing hope in our vision. I began to struggle when speaking to people about freedom, when I knew we were struggling behind closed doors. I believed the lie that said “how can you speak freedom and hope to people, when you don’t bare that kind of fruit in your life.” I began to feel like I was lying to people, and because shame was building up inside and I wouldn’t dare talk to anyone about the struggle we were dealing with, except my husband. On top of that control raged inside of me, and I kept wanting to put my hands on the steering wheel of life and say I can do this better. The poverty and lack of mindset was filling my every being and I was becoming an emotional mess that dealt with it, mainly internally.

The Summer of 2013 we found out we were in active foreclosure.

And. I. Lost. It.

I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know how long that process was. All I knew was the outcome and that was our house being taken away and our kids and us were going to be out on the streets. I feared that happening, so fear made the decisions we made next. Fear aborted our purpose, fear forced Jeff to look for a different job, fear made me look for another job (I was still teaching Zumba on the side). Fear looked for another home to rent. Fear said, “get me out of this house before they tell us to get out”. Fear grabbed a Realtor and said, “here you go, sell it and get this thing out from under us”. Then fear walked away and lived a mediocre life trying to keep the house out of sight and out of mind. Fear is a horrible guide for your life. Take my advice and punch fear in the face (or read Start by Jon Acuff if you need help with being aggressive with fear).

That fear made my husband shrink, because I took the position of decision making which basically said, “what you’re doing isn’t working for our family, and I can do a better job.” And unfortunately that same fear made me say the same thing to my God. I sat on throne of deciding for our life and I kicked out the people who were supposed to sit in that position as the head and the king, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. But there’s good news to this story, we never stopped growing.

If there was one thing my husband and I have been good at, its being a student of life. I have probably read more book since I have been out of school than when I was in school. The best part about it, is I have chosen the books I want to read, unlike school. Those books have been the financial education we needed and the personal growth we were lacking. In the season of working, my husband and I began putting 10% of our income towards debt, 10% towards tithe, 10% towards savings and 10% towards assets (aka, paying yourself first). If you have not heard of these concepts before, read “Rich dad, Poor dad” and “The Richest Man In Babylon”. At the same time of working, we began small goals that we could do with our Plan B business to gain momentum again while not sacrificing time with our kids. We also never stopped meeting new people and kept people in our inner circle of friends. If you don’t understand this concept and want to, now would be the time to pick up the book, “The Power Of Who”. With having people we could trust, when they gave advice, we began to open up about what we were going through. The great thing about opening up is people will see things that you won’t about your situations because they are outside of the box. But choose wisely, who you open up to. The biggest question we asked, when asking people for advice was, “Do the bear the fruit of the kind of life we want to possess?”.

The first thing that had to go was my control. A friend once said to me, “Ashley, you are not meant to handle the spiritual blows in your household; Your husband is. By you trying to be in his position, it shows that you don’t trust him.”
“But I do”. Was ALWAYS my answer. I trust my husband, OF COURSE I trust my husband. And then one day someone said it in a way that hit me hard. “If you trust your husband, then you would trust that he is hearing from God and being guided to do what is best for your family. And if you trust God, you would trust that He is speaking to you husband.”

Ouch

Neither one of them had been true. I didn’t believe they knew what was best, because I was uncomfortable and in fear. On top of that the decisions I made out of fear was not helping us at all. Jeff was never seeing the kids. He only had one day off with them and that was the day he had to take them back to their moms, he and I both had no days off together, and trying to get even one day off together was like trying to pull teeth for him to get that at his work because he was so new and everyone wanted weekends off. We were paying rent on a house we were locked into for a year, and the house after 6 months of it being up on the market never sold because apparently the price was too high. The next 6 months we decided to try to sell it on our own so we could drop the price and then that made people question why it was so low. We couldn’t win when it came to trying to sell our home.

The long hours and Jeff’s work telling him to sacrifice more to win (for only a months higher pay check) wasn’t worth Kyleigh crying herself to sleep when she was over at her dads, because she never saw him. Not to mention our plan B income began matching his, more than full time job, and my 31 hour a week job was double what he made most months. So he put in his two weeks there and began implementing what he learned there into our business, which really started making a difference. Then another curve of life hit us and we found out I was pregnant with our second child. I continued to work my job but things started to get difficult. I began realizing that working in an office with only one employee was not wise for a family that has young kids. Young kids are so unpredictable when it comes to being sick and things like that, and this job was not so much in support of a call the morning of that said “I can’t come in today.” I began to get anxiety if I had to call out or ask for time off. I would literally repeat over and over in my head “20 seconds of courage, 20 seconds of courage, you can do it” before stepping in the office and asking for the time off. I knew I would get a glare and when I got back to work the following day I would hear how horrible the day went that I wasn’t there. I don’t operate or function well in that environment. The hardest part was I LOVED the job. I loved working by myself and working with customers. I loved learning something new and was being given the opportunity to work in a field that I didn’t have to get a bachelors degree in. The pay was nice and the hours were great. But when my boss said he expected me to be on maternity leave for 2 weeks, I knew it would come to an end. In reality, he said 2 weeks to 2 months depending on if I had a c-section and needed more time to heal, but I knew I was going to have a home birth and a c-section wasn’t going to happen. Long story short, we took a leap (after gaining advice from people) and I put in my two weeks that summer. We were suddenly riding on the statement “Living by faith and not by sight”. Some of you might remember me writing about this piece last summer.

The following week we got a letter in the mail from the property management company on our renewal for the rental. It stated if we wanted to keep living there and signed another lease, they were going to up our rent…. to almost the same price as our mortgage. With the house being on the market for a full year and still no serious buyers, we took another leap of faith and went back home. Yes, after a year of foreclosure and trying to sell the home, we moved back into the home. Stronger, wiser, and ready to fight to save our home.

Now I will say here, Jeff had tried to save it the year before. He tried calling- they would never return our calls. He tried filling out the paperwork and sending it in- they would mail letters back saying we didn’t give all the information and ask us to call back for further understanding. He would call- no one would get back to him. Then the case would be denied with them stating we never got back to them. It was stressful. But a year later, we moved back in and began fighting harder and smartr.

A lot happened between August-October that grew Jeff and my wisdom and direction on what to do with the home and we began praying like it depended on God and working like it depended on us. The beginning of November we were faced with a crazy reality. I was due the following month and we got in the mail a certified piece of mail that said our sale date was December 11th. The week after my due date. By this point, we had been sharing our journey, the good and the bad for almost a year, so when this came we had complete peace about it, we just kept going and kept informing the people around us so they could keep praying with us and make room for the miracle God was about to do. Faith was the only thing that got us through this season.

One day Jeff got on the phone to call Wells Fargo. He asked for our specialist and they said “She’s unavailable right now, do you want me to direct you to her voice mail?”
“Is it going to end the call after that?”
“Yes”
“Then no, I will stay on the phone until I can speak with her.”
An hour and a half later he FINALLY got through to her. You guys, this alone was an answer to pray because in the whole time we were going through this foreclosure process, we had NEVER gotten our specialist on the phone. After this phone call Jeff was encouraged, and overwhelmed at the same time. He realized there was a way, but the way required lots and lots of paperwork. Little tip if you are going through this right now, if the bank has sent you paperwork to fill out and send back, don’t. The specialist while on the phone with him told him that there is an automatic thing the computers does once someone is in active foreclosure, but unless you have talked with your specialist, it might not be the paperwork you need to fill out to complete the loan modification or save your home. In essence, you’re wasting time until you speak to the person who can give you direction. Which is what we found out once the calls with our specialist began coming every week as Jeff worked through the loan modification.

I’ll try to make this part quick; it was a long month, but since our case was finally active they pushed out our sale date to the end of January. During this time too we were asked to join the Chamber staff in our town. That was a dream job to us. Not only did it fit with what we do with our business by networking, but it also enabled us to step into another passion, which is to make an impact on our community. To help unify our community even more than it already is and work towards the vision of making the Umatilla and Morrow County, places people want to be a part of and live in. The communities themselves are already doing incredible jobs of this, our heart, was to just be a part of that vision and make it come to life with others. In turn this has helped fill in some of the gaps we have needed in our finances. Remember, we are trying to get back to the highest paying job Jeff had received. This has been a process, but we are getting closer and closer with each passing day. Because of this, we got a call at the beginning of the year that told us the bank had approved the loan modification. And the foreclosure? Well, they removed it.
No more sale date
No more fears
No more Sheriff stops at our home to hand us papers
No more signing certified envelopes
No more papers taped to our door and windows
No more foreclosure

I cannot express to you the joy of watching a 2 and a half year miracle become a reality. I cannot express to you the strength we have received in our marriage, and in ourselves. Things have been rough, nothing is perfect, but we don’t expect it to be. We are learning new things, growing, becoming better leaders, but more importantly we are making things happen and seeing things becoming a reality. We are also seeing hope come back to people as we have shared our story. I never expected this, but as we shared our story and told people the shame we lived in for a while people started to say “Me too”. A friend told me once something I hadn’t ever thought of.
“In this area Ashley, you have no idea how many people are going through the same thing you guys did, because of the army depot closing. You weren’t the only ones who have struggled financially after the depot closed.”

The magical words; You aren’t the only ones. You are not alone.

How many of you reading this, have felt like you were the only ones. The only one struggling; the only one who felt this way. How many of you have put a smile on your face in the day and cried yourself to sleep at night? How many of you have lived in fear? If there is one thing you get from this story, please let it be this; you are not the only one.

Punch fear in the face; dust yourself off from laying on the ground in shame and speak your story with strength. Make room for the miracle God wants to do in your life, then watch it become a reality. I know its possible,  because if he did it for us, he can do it for you.

***A few hours later***

In reflection on posting this story I also wanted to state something else. My husband and I are always here. There is no judgement with anything you are going through. We understand how hard it is and how even your marriage will be up for question on wether it will stand the storms. We aren’t perfect, we certainly aren’t counselors, but we can provide you with the tools we received to get through. Just know, you truly are not alone.

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You Never Know Who Is Watching

Began writing 9/4/2015- as you can see it took a bit to get it edited and published. **Sorry**

Going outside for a walk has become a daily habit for my little 2 1/2 year old, Jonathan. There is not a day that goes by where he is not running to my husband or my lap with his shoes repeating the words “Outside. Walk. Go outside. Shoes. Outside.” As he has gotten older, the way he has asked has been different but the idea remains the same. All that to be said, I think we’ve created a good habit in him.

Last night was special and much different then the rest of our walks though. It was late, and as we were grabbing jackets for the little boys, Jeff decided to go downstairs and have Ryan come walk with us. We bundled up (as crazy as it sounds it felt more like a November night then a September night) and headed out the door. Jonathan jumps on his yellow car, holds on to the wheel and begins kicking his legs, pushing him forward, as the rest of us trail behind. We get to the end of our road and began turning around when Ryan lays down a challenge.
“Ashley race me?”
“What? Where?” I said.
“Just race me. Not far. Come on.”

After a few more remarks and a final decision we come to the conclusion we’ll start at one end of the block and run down to the light pole at the other end of the block. Ryan starts to prepare himself by taking off his jacket and handing it over to his dad.

“Are you going to get into a position to start?” Ryan says, delaying his desire to do so.
“Yeah I guess.” I say, realizing this is a lot more serious then I initially thought.

By this point Jonathan has gotten ahead of us, driving along on his car. I get into position, while Ryan drops down to the street in a runners stance ready for dad to say go. I begin to question why this kid is no longer wanting to do track and but quickly get to the realization I better actually work hard on this race.

“Ready……Set………GO!” Jeff says as Ryan and I take off. Jonathan ahead looks behind, as he sees his mom and big brother catching up to his vehicle. Next thing I know Jonathan is turning his car around and driving in my line of where I was running. I slow down, sadly, trying to get out of his way, when he gets in my line again. By this point this race is over because Ryan is WAY far ahead of me. Again I wonder why he does not want to do track anymore because he certainly has the speed.
“JONATHAN WATCH OUT!” I yell to him as I finally get past the bulky vehicle he is driving and try to catch up to Ryan. Not a few moments later, Ryan has passed the light pole and the race is over, but I decide to catch up with him and congratulate him, while trying to excuse Jonathan slowing me down as the reason I lost. Truth be told, that kids a sprinter and even if I had my best game face on, I think Ryan would have still won. I smiled as the quote came to mind that our kids will use our ceiling as their platform. Ryan, unintentionally is doing this for sure. We turn to look back at Dad pushing Nathaniel in a stroller and suddenly realize Jonathan is no longer on his car. He abandoned it and got up, running towards us, as if the race wasn’t over yet and he was a part of it the whole time.

“Jonathan!” I yelled with excitement. “Come on! You can do it!” I jump over so I am in front of him as he continues to run towards us. The closer he got, the more Ryan and I cheered him on. He finally makes it over to us, but does something both of us weren’t expecting, he doesn’t stop. As he runs around me, I stand up, never taking my eyes off him, and call his name again now with a questionable tone. Almost as to say ‘what are you doing?’

He keeps going.

Ryan and I were laughing while he was headed towards us before, now we both stood there probably wondering when he planned to stop.

He doesn’t.

He gets far enough ahead of us that I realize, I should probably catch up to him. I ran up beside him and look at him as he is intently focused on whats ahead. So much, that I don’t even think he knew I was running by him. We had two more blocks before we made it back to our house. I began to wonder if he was going to make that his stop. I started to cheer him on again since its only a little further away, got ahead of him to direct him to the house. I make a obvious hit on our vehicle in the drive-way, almost to say “Here is our finish line. Hit it and you’ll be done.” I watch him run up behind me and hit the vehicle too. I praise him and ask for a high five when he does another unexpected, HE KEEPS GOING! In my amazement, I stand back for a second and wonder how we didn’t find this passion sooner, along with realizing how we need to continue to encourage this now. We pass our house, pass our neighbors house and start going up a hill. I look back and realize how far back Ryan, Nathaniel and Jeff are, so I say to Jonathan, “Hey Jonathan, let’s turn around and head back to Daddy.”
“Okay!” He says in-between breaths, and just like that, he turns around and starts heading towards the guys.

As we start running back to them side by side, I look down at his determine face and almost break into tears. Sounds cheesy I’m sure, but work with me.

It’s a moment I’m never going to forget and here’s why. I’ve seen pictures before as I’m scrolling on Facebook that say something like “Thought about quitting, but then I saw who was watching” and it’s a child watching their parent going for a goal they have. I have always been touched by those posts, but this was a whole new level of understanding. I was actually experiencing it. Running beside my son who isn’t even three and not giving it a thought to stop inspired myself. We met up with Ryan, Nathaniel, and Jeff, but only for enough time for everyone to turn around and follow Jonathan because he would not stop.
“Come on!” He yells and suddenly my son is cheering US on. It was a powerful moment to realize, your kids pay attention, and they will not only match your place in life, but exceed it, if you create the atmosphere to do so. My boy knows whatever he does, we will cheer him on and encourage him to go after it. Just like all the other kids, we want them to accomplish their dreams. It is hard work? Of course! It’s even hard for us. But I’m thankful to know that because of us paving the way all our kids can go further than us. It was a parallel moment last night. Just moments before I was racing my 15 year old step son to then running side by side with my 2 year old son. Almost helping me see what it’s going to be like in 13 years. I’m thankful that we are starting with Nathaniel and Jonathan young, so that when they do get older they will always believe that anything is possible.

It’s never too late to begin and its never too early to start. As parents, lets continue to follow after our dreams to give our kids permission to go after theirs.

Don’t Let It Stop You

The last 2 months I feel like I had been steady, juggling everything for a good long time, and then things out of my normal schedule came into my life and before I knew it, I took a habit hiatus for close to 2 months now.

…….yeah…..I’m sure you know what that means.

I have hardly written here, I stopped posting for a while, I inconsistently worked out, didn’t really care what I was grabbing for snacks or meals because I was famished by the time I was grabbing something to eat. Lots of start, stop, start, stop, start, stop, on and on again. Now my heads up and I’m looking around saying “where did summer go?”

Now I’m probably being a lot harder on myself than I need to. After all this summer has been filled with some amazing travels, lots of memories and pictures, events, so who can beat that?! However, my planner/schedule mind is fried with the “no schedule” schedule for so long. I’m learning that I need to have a system in place, so once travels are done we can go right back to it as if nothing has changed.

To be honest, this has to be my greatest weakness right now. How long it takes for me to get back into a routine is stunting my ability to progress and make the kinds of changes I desire too in the time I want to see it in.

I am being vulnerable with all of this because when my husband and I were in Texas at our national school someone challenged us to great real and vulnerable with where we want to go. My husband and I decided that we wanted to expand the team goals we have set out to do before, while I also have a couple of personal goals I want to implement to.

Team Goals:
1) Do an 8K or 10K run in January 2016. Train together with a team
2) Get a group of people together who wants to become debt free and do it together.

Personal Goals:
1) Start a system and stay with the system. So when we travel we go right back to the system.
2) Get down to my leanest self again and then push further.
3) Give and give abundantly. To groups our church is helping with. Especially with Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Personal habits:
1) Reading leadership books daily again
2) Reading the bible daily again
3) Increase prayer and intercession
4) Exercise 75 more times this year
5) Except on Sundays, check each day with things we are doing and make sure I am staying consistent with our projects.
6) Have at least 15 more blog posts this year

I refuse to believe that after 2 babies this is how my body will look and stay. I refuse to believe I will always feel out of shape. I refuse to believe I can’t be as active as I use to be. I refuse to believe this constant double chin is going to remain. I refuse to believe that I can’t succeed, and its time to step it up and prove it.

Our best and blessed days are ahead of us and we are believing that there is still enough time in the year to get back on schedule. Don’t let a few months of being down and off schedule stop you. Believe me, I’m saying that to you and me. Someone out there, though needs to hear that there’s still enough time in this year and there’s still much that will get accomplished.

Now that summer is almost over, lets get back to work.

***2 hours later***

Have you ever said “hey where’s my ____ (fill in the blank) only to find yourself staring right at it? It’s almost like you needed to ask the question out loud to find it. With this entry I almost felt like I was saying “I need a recharge and refocus” and it’s almost like Robbie Page picked that up and said “I got something for you.” After posting this blog I got a periscope notification that said Robbie Page went live. If you have been around my blog for a while you know I have posted and quoted Oneand2 often. Well Robbie was the back bone of that ministry and now she does periscope training’s, which are incredible. She took me back to something I loved doing last year called My75, but she spoke about it with a twist. I missed the first few minutes on the periscope, but she talked about how with her schedule with travels, she doesn’t do goals like “3 workouts in a week” instead she sets a year goal. GENIUS! That way if she is gone for a while she just knows that when she gets back, if she wants to stay on track she has to do it more often. I seriously needed this. We know our life is going to consists of more traveling, more events and more time with friends, therefore we need more like a check list to go off of instead of weekly habits. Because, like what has already happened, when a week isn’t a normal week, I get thrown off. So I already changed my goals above to reflect the amount of days we have left in the year, and I feel more energized and encouraged because I believe we can actually accomplish it. On top of that, I am going to go home today, recheck out our new years resolutions and set up goals to accomplish some of those on the list from this year. Who else is ready for a recharge?!

Old rustic hands

When I was in high school, dance and writing were my escape. By escape, I mean a way to clear my thoughts, get my emotions out on either paper or movement. It was beautiful, and it released many emotions that were bottled up inside. Then I went through a season where much of who I was, was verbally beaten out of me. When I greeted Eastern Oregon for the first time, I was a broken and empty 20 year old. Slowly but surely though, God had a way of bringing those passions back to me in miraculous ways. Giving me the opportunity to express myself again by dance, and picking up a pen and paper and writing in journals again. There was one area however, that I haven’t tap back into, until now; I use to write poems. When the emotional juices were flowing growing up, I would have a poem done in 10 minutes or less. Those were the ones that always turned out so good. In the heat of the moment, my emotions poured out onto paper in very beautifully articulated way. And when words couldn’t express the pain or hurt I was feeling, I would dance till I couldn’t do another move. The other morning I was staring out our living room window when the thought popped into my head. “I wonder if I could still write a poem?” Now at a different place in my life, I don’t let anger, frustration or sadness overwhelm me like it once did. I wondered if I could take the happiness and joy I feel now, with the same intensity as before and create a master piece.

This one you are about to read, I didn’t feel like was anything special. In reality, I actually got frustrated with how some of the lines were because they broke the rhythm the beginning of the poem held. But when I shared it with my husband he beamed and told me I needed to share it. That it was great and definitely worth repeating. I don’t know how many more poems I will write, but for now, I decided to take these rustic hands and jot down in my journal the next few lines that you will see here. I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband did.

The music is moving
The sway of the steps
Where secrets are given
And ultimate rest

My heart racing faster
Its time to look up
To the one who provides
All these blessing and luck

He stands by his throne
His arm extended out
He whispers to me gently
“Please make your way out”

No more hiding in the shadows
No more lost by fear
Understand your position
And take it right here

Hesitant at first
As the music keeps on playing
Then our song comes on
It’s the one I’m always singing

I step out in bravery
Hoping not to offend
Looking up to the one
That I call a dear friend

With each step that’s taken
My clothing transforms
No longer a servant
But a princess for sure

And last but not least
A crown surrounds my head
As I take my position
By the King, who guides the way

What a different perspective
You can see from up here
What a beautiful sight
The Earth radiates up here

All words are lost
All mindsets removed
Now seated by the throne
Of the one who loves me too

This image is precious
Near and dear to my heart
As I take all authority
That’s been handed to a
Princess of God

No longer a selfish life
A world surrounded by me
Rather a life of serving back
An opportunity for them to see
What I see

Know Your Strengths

In the last three years, my husband and I have always approached each season with this question; how do we both work as a team. I know that might sound simplistic. Maybe for some couples they just know, it works and it clicks. For us? I feel like we are constantly trying new way to get better and find a flow.

Post-marriage we made a very important decision. We both purchased our own copy of Strength Finders 2.0 and learned what our strengths were. I know, more book talk, but if you haven’t guessed by now, that’s where I get a lot of my topics to talk about. Strength Finders isn’t necessarily a book you read cover to cover. You can, if you would like, but the main reason for this book is this; a study was conducted years ago on Fortune 500 companies. The author and his team wanted to find the common thread among all of these companies. What was the pattern? What did they have that other companies didn’t? After many interviews and stats taken, they found it wasn’t a specific trait they all had, but rather, they found out what their strengths were, stayed in their strengths and brought other people around them that were stronger in their weaker areas. So the point to a Fortune 500 company is having a team of the right people around you to achieve their overall success. This book has you take a test so that you may find your top 5 strengths, so that you may find people to partner with that will support your strengths. Fortunately, for my husband and I, we found that we both have separate strengths. The only one that was the same was responsibility. Having known this information at the early stages of our marriage, we have done our best to keep each other in our specific strengths. Have we been perfect at it? Absolutely not, in fact, sometimes we made the mistake of trying to work in each others strengths. The one thing I have found for us is, as we evaluate on a regular basis, we are able to see when we are trying to work out of our strengths and we quickly take care of it. There was also a time-frame where we had to give each other permission to not take on certain tasks and pass them over to each other if it was out of our strengths. The more we have improved this, the more effective we have been becoming. So what made me want to talk about this right now? Well, we think we have finally found a good flow for us and there are things coming soon because of it.

Between our business as an independent distributor of Advocare products, Jeff’s paintings increasing, and everything else we’ve been doing, we realized the administrative side needed some more focus and needed to become my responsibility. Why? Because my strength is administration, and I love everything about it. Taking on this role means we plan to merge my blog with Jeff’s painting page. My husband and I are partners, but also one body. We joke when we took positions at the Hermiston Chamber that when you get one, you get the other too. Whether you see both of us at events, meetings or not, we work together on everything.

Be on the look out, if things go the direction we want them to, there will be a new blog website and there will be a place that Jeff will display his paintings and testimonies. We know eventually this is going to grow further and we need to have a new website established with the Wheeler’s products all on one page. As we take this step, we know that more is going to be revealed, but for now just know there are new things coming and we can not wait to see it happen. For now if you look to the left hand side of this page you will see a Facebook page called Inspire for Purpose. That is where my husband has all of his paintings right now along with which ones are for sale. You can like the page and watch more testimonies unfold or be a part of one yourself. If you do not have a Facebook, then keep an eye out for his paintings to come onto this blog page. You are the ones we have been thinking of as we have embarked on merging our pages together. We know not everyone has a Facebook profile.

Looking forward to this new season, as I step into more of the admin position for us and our family.

Topics on the brain

I wish I could spend a whole day just typing and getting things written out. There is something powerful in the written word. CLEARLY, I’ve already written many posts about that. Just know that I have not stopped thinking about this page the last few days and I will be writing up some more encouraging, uplifting posts soon, while sharing my story. The last couple days have been full of creating new memories, and I am excited to share them all with you. For now, enjoy your evening. I will see you soon.

Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn.

Shout out to NikkiPhillippi for recommending this book. It was a great book to listen to, and I am looking forward to re-listening to it again. There were many times while listening to Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn by John Maxwell, that I would stop what I was doing, hit the 30 second back button, grab a piece of paper and closest pen, and write down what he just said. Great reminders in the book as well as things that put me at ease that I am not the only one who goes through stuff. Then there were moments that I thought, “That’s me! Aaaaaah, that’s why we are struggling in this.” Which ultimately is the reason I believe leaders choose to read books. It’s for those moments when we see a flaw and can reshape it into a strength. There will be times that we are struggling in something and we don’t even see it until we read it.

Some of the quotes that stood out to me in this book were:
“If you are not moving forward the world is passing you by.”

“The most important person you will ever talk to you is yourself. So be careful what you say. The most important person you will ever evaluate is yourself, so be careful what you think. The most important person to love is yourself. So be careful what you do.”

“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”

“The real education starts when the diploma is handed to you.”

I really could go on with all of the quotes I got from this book. The application piece for me would have to be my perspective on situations. While this book focuses more on the “Sometimes You Learn” part, I found myself pulling more from the “Sometimes You Win” part. Have you ever struggled with that? How to win that exemplifies a leader? I’m not saying when I win, I point a finger at the loser and go “HAHA!”, but I am saying I fell into the trap of “I have arrived and now I have to help others get to where I am” and I took the focus off myself and stopped growing. John Maxwell only touches on this piece in a small piece of his book, but for me it was the light bulb moment. Just as much as I need to learn how to handle failing as a leader, I need to learn how to succeed to. If that’s you, than I would highly recommend reading this book, or listening to it.

Hope this helps!