Faith

Trust in “The Plan”

Yesterday I was reminded of a job I had for *just a minute* back in early 2009. About 5 months prior, I had been forced to resign from a company I had been with for 5 1/2 years – right at the peak (or valley, rather) of the recession in 2008. Because jobs weren’t plentiful at that time, I went where I knew they would be hiring (for the holiday season) – retail. And after spending a holiday season as a team leader in retail, I was looking for any way out. It came via a man who wined and dined me to join his small company – a local coupon/discount magazine – as his “Director of Operations”. He promised so many things that I yearned for at the time: money, status and a great title, and the ability to create and streamline business systems. Here is a post heading into that first day on the job:

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It’s funny. In looking at this post now, I can almost sense that I somehow knew something was “off” about this job. Sure enough, after just ONE DAY on the job, my post looked like this:

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(Remember back then that Facebook was like “Jenny……(fill in the blank)…” – hence why I posted in 3rd person perspective.)

Sure enough, about 5-6 weeks later, I went running out the door and into the arms of retail management. Mind you, I was thankful to have a job, but the next 2 years were some of the toughest of my life. I HATED the retail schedule. Working a different schedule every week that included some late nights, some early mornings, and days off that were in the middle of the week and didn’t coincide with my friends – was very taxing on me. (Of course, I know NOW that it’s because I’m BLUE – and BLUES like routine. To learn more about that, go here.) BUT, if I wouldn’t have left that awful 6-week job, and if I wouldn’t have taken the retail management job, I wouldn’t have met my husband, and I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter. It means that I wouldn’t have moved to Bristol and made the connections that I needed to get my coaching practice off of the ground. It also means that I probably wouldn’t have this awesome house by the lake, and I wouldn’t yet (or maybe ever) have my own coaching practice.

We’ve all heard cliche statements about “fate” and “karma” or “God’s Plan”. People especially love to throw those phrases at you when you’re down and out and being kicked about by seemingly all aspects of life. It’s supposed to encourage us. And yet, when you are really down and out, it seems to have completely the opposite effect and makes us throw up in our mouths just a little.

Trust me: I get it. I know what it’s like to lose a job and struggle with finances and feel that there is no way out but bankruptcy. I know what it’s like to lose all grandparents before I even reached high school, and both parents before I even reached 40. I know what it’s like to wait for that “special someone” until you are in your mid-30s.¬†And I also know what it’s like to lose a child. I get hardship and the emotions that come with it. And I wanted to throat-punch everyone that said something like, “Everything happens for a reason.”

BUT – I also know what it’s like to come out on the other side – stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever. And when I look back on the experiences I’ve been through, each one equipped me with a skill, knowledge, or strength that I didn’t possess prior to that experience. Or maybe – in the case of that insane job I had for about 6 weeks – we need experiences to get us back on the track that is intended. Think of them as guardrails or those annoying ridges on the sides of the road that make that terrible noise when you veer off too far. These nasty experiences sometimes exist because we have veered off the intended path, and it takes something that loud or jarring to get us going back in the right direction.

Whether or not you believe in God….whether or not you consider yourself religious or spiritual…..you can’t deny that there is a greater force at work here. Civilization has been telling stories of “fate” or “the force” (for you Star Wars fans) or “yin and yang” or some other greater power or being for thousands upon thousands of years. There is a Greater Plan for all of us. We may not know what it is, and we may not know how we are going to get “there”. But we have to trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. It’s hard to trust – REALLY hard. But sometimes to fight against the intended path only creates more obstacles and distractions and loud noise.

Now, I’m not saying that if you go with the flow of the intended path that everyone will end up rich and famous. But I do believe that,when you are on the right path, things just sort of *happen* – in a good way. Proverbial doors open, opportunities present themselves, and life just feels more in balance. But we have to TRUST “The Plan”.

 

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 37

What a roller coaster week this has been!

As you know, we found a remarkable deal on somewhat of a “dream house” last weekend, and on a whim, decided to go for it. Our offer was considerably outbid by a cash offer, and though disappointed, we made peace with the fact that “it just wasn’t meant to be”.

I had moved on so much that I was exploring other options to supplement my career in the meantime. In fact, I just sat in on a webinar today and made a deposit on a training certification program for Color Code – a personality assessment of sorts that teaches ways to interact with others based on their “color” (and the motives behind that color). By getting certified as a trainer, I could go out and teach workshops about the Color Code – a perfect compliment to the coaching career that I’m working towards.

Literally within 30 minutes of wrapping up this seminar and paying my deposit (which – thank God – is refundable), Blaine called with unbelievable news. In fact, it was so unbelievable that it left me speechless and in shock: we got the house! I didn’t believe him at first, as Blaine is notorious for pulling pranks. But alas, he was telling the truth. The cash offer apparently backed out or fell through, and we were the next best viable offer on the list. So if the inspection and all goes well, we will be moving in one month to the lake!

I’m sure that I will have many more gratitude posts around this particular subject, but for today, I am just thankful that the house is even a possibility. With all of the hardship that we have been through the past few years (and usually at this time of year, in fact), it feels like a breath of fresh air to finally receive some good news!

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 30-35

Life happens. While I made a note of my gratitude items each day, I did not get a chance to post them. So here’s the past week:

Day 30:
Today, I saw AMERICAN SNIPER (which was excellent, by the way). I am always amazed by those who have the courage and passion to serve this country, as I don’t think I could stand on the battle lines. So today I am thankful for those who serve our country to protect our freedom.

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Day 31:
Bella just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. While the time is going by so very quickly, I am also thankful for this age. She can finally communicate with words her needs and wants, she understands commands from me, and best of all, we can go “play”! She is at such a fun age where she is curious about everything and has such a great awareness of the world around her. I can now take her to playgrounds and kids’ museums and the zoo – so many fun places!

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Day 32:
This weekend, Blaine and I stumbled upon an amazing deal on a foreclosed house for ourselves. In talking about the possibility of pursuing it, I decided to bring up my credit score. For those who haven’t followed my story, I filed bankruptcy during the peak of the recession (following job loss and all that comes with that). Four years later, I am in a much better place, and have managed to pay off all remaining debt (the car and my hefty student loans were excluded from the bankruptcy). Today, I am thankful for second chances and the ability to rebuild after tragedy, as my credit score is the highest it has ever been!

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Day 33:
My work team has seen A LOT of changes over the past year. Namely, we have gone through an entire culture change, nearly a complete turnover of our HPLT (high performance leadership team), and turnover of a third or so of our team members. It was a tough road, but we are in SUCH a better place now as a result, and 2015 is already off to an amazing start! Today, I am thankful for the new faces at our HPLT table, as I think we have a strong, cohesive team to propel us to the next level!

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Day 34:
Blaine and I put in an offer for the house we found over the weekend, and I became so excited and fixated on it that I was already imagining where we would put things. I could just *see* and *FEEL* us in this house. Alas, it was not in God’s plan, as someone swooped in with a cash offer well above our financed offer. I was heartbroken. And yet, it was a reminder that I need to learn to trust in God’s plan for us. This house or this time just wasn’t right, and there is other business we need to take care of before we settle into our dream home. Today, as hard as it is to swallow, I am thankful for that reminder.

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Day 35:
I was pretty disappointed about not getting that house. Blaine was trying to be encouraging that we would one day have our house, but maybe the timing wasn’t right and we need to get some other business aligned first. This loss gave us an opportunity to discuss many things – our present, our future, and most of all, how fortunate we are to have all that we currently have. I love theses moments when we can really connect with emotional intimacy and have a great chat about life. We don’t get those moments often – mostly because life is so busy and we don’t take (or make) the time to pause and have these discussions. So today, I am thankful for this rare gem that has the power to refuel our marriage and remind us why we have chosen each other.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 26

As I opened my email inbox this morning, this message sat at the top:

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What a great way to start the day! (By the way, the reference to the butterfly was an assignment; he was to find a butterfly that would symbolize strength whenever his inner gremlin would pop up and cause doubt in this fellow coach.)

Today, I am thankful for the awesome reminders that the Lord sends me from time to time to validate that I am on the right path with coaching. It is especially welcomed when the feedback comes from a fellow coach.

Journey to Gratitude: Day 20

Bella is struggling right now as her two-year molars try to pop through. Additionally, she may have some viral bug on top of that. So she is miserable with a painful mouth, runny nose, persistent cough, and fever.

Today, I am thankful for the ability to be able to work from home, so that I can stay home with my poor little Sweet Pea and still get some work done. Here’s hoping she is on the mend soon!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 16

Because of her prematurity, Bella has been part of the Early Intervention program since about a month after we brought her home (i.e. about 3 months old). When she started the program, she was slightly behind in all skills, so our goals were simple things: holding and playing with toys, rolling over, holding her head up and steady, etc. We saw our Early Intervention worker weekly, and Bella made great strides. By a year old, Bella had caught up to her age group on mostly all skills, so we scaled back to bi-weekly visits.

We had a visit yesterday, and in addition to our Early Intervention worker, our state case worker was also present. Both were amazed and astounded with how well Bella is doing. Not only has she caught up to her age group on all skills, but she has even surpassed her age group with several of her cognitive and language skills!

Today, I am so very thankful for the strides Bella has made. Apart from her size, you would never know she was a preemie. Thank you, Lord, for such a blessing!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 15

Growing up, our family always struggled with money. My parents didn’t have the best financial skills, and therefore didn’t teach great habits to us kids either. As an adult, I continued to struggle with money until I was faced with filing bankruptcy. During that process, I had to take some courses on budgeting and such, and only then did I learn what it meant to be smart with money.

When I met Blaine, he was already worlds ahead of me. Two years later, he began realizing his vision for an investment in foreclosures that he could turn into rental properties. In 2012, he bought the first rental house, with the goal of buying one per year for 10 years. Just over 2 years later, we have 6 properties. As of today, he signed contracts on 2 more, bringing our total to 8 (well, 9 properties of you include my condo in Knoxville that has been rented out since I relocated to Bristol). The plan has escalated faster than I think either of us ever imagined, and it has been a lot of hard work renovating the properties and finding good tenants (especially since 7 of the 8 properties have come about in just the past 14 months). But when all is said and done, it has been a tremendous blessing!

Today, I am thankful for my husband’s ambition and foresight to build this side business, which will ultimately secure our family’s future. With all of the other obstacles and tragedies we’ve had to deal with these past couple of years, it’s nice to know that money is not an added pressure amidst the life struggles.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 13

Three years ago, I started down a path to be a “coach”. I wasn’t exactly sure at that time what that meant or how to make it happen, but I had done some research on coaching, and I was convinced that it was what I was destined to do.

Then life happened. I was laid off from my then job, I found out I was pregnant with twins, the twins came early, and I lost one after 9 weeks in the NICU. I tried to get my footing back by blogging about my experience, but then I went and got a “real job” when Bella was 8 months old. Four months later, my mom passed tragically and unexpectedly. A lot of life happened in a short amount of time.

Finally, after several discussions with my boss about what he saw as my strengths, I began researching the coaching path once again. This time, I ended up in a certification program with MentorCoach, and accredited training program by the International Coach Federation (ICF). What a wonderful journey this has been!

Nine months later, I have completed 2 classes, and amidst 2 more, and have 4 classes left to complete my certifications. Outside of my “day job”, I have been diligently working on marketing myself as a Business and Life Coach and have been making some terrific strides towards building my own practice.

Today I am thankful for the journey on which life has taken me, each event adding another piece of the puzzle that brought me to coaching. I am also thankful for how all of the pieces of my life fit together now – a great “day job” that allows me to practice my coaching skills and is flexible enough to allow me to work on coaching on the side, financial stability that allows me to work part time (again giving me flexibility to work on coaching), marketing skills that allow me to build this coaching business – all coming together at *this* moment as though it was perfectly planned this way. What an amazing journey! I’m excited about what 2015 has in store!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 10

Two years ago at 8:00am, I was wheeled into surgery for an unexpectedly early C-section. Pre-eclampsia had ravaged my body, and at 28 weeks, the doctors couldn’t hold off any longer. I was terrified. Not only was my life in danger, but I knew that having my girls at 28 weeks also put their lives in danger.

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Fortunately, I pulled through, and as far as we know, I have no residual effects from the pre-eclampsia. If you have followed my story, however, you know that my baby girl, Bristol, only lived for 9 weeks.

The bright side of this story is that my firecracker, Bella, not only made it, but is a miracle in every sense of the word. Born at 2 lbs and 4 oz, she is still a tiny thing – reaching 20 lbs only recently, just in time for her second birthday. But she has yet to have any major health complications, and is so very observant and smart! Apart from her small size, you would never know that she was born 12 weeks early and spent the first two months of her life in a box in the hospital.

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Today, I am thankful for my little miracle, Bella. I am also thankful that the Lord let me live to see her grow into such a beautiful, smart little girl. And while I am sad that she doesn’t have her twin sister along for the ride, I am so very thankful that we at least had 9 weeks with her, and that we have lots of pictures and video to share her story with Bella as she gets old enough to understand it.

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