Thank you Melissa for making a button for Remember When Wednesdays! Isn't it cute??? I'm embarrassed to admit I still have no idea how to put the code on here so you can put it on your site but Melissa is patient and loving and will help me along. Right? Please?!
And thank you for your interest in our adventure to debt freedom! I honestly thought no one really wanted to hear it and all the comments I received asking me to finish it have been really encouraging. As requested, here is the next chapter in the saga. Oh, and you can click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.)
I stared at the paystub in disbelief. $200 over our budgeted amount. I burst into tears; I was so relieved I didn't know how else to respond. Mike wrapped me up in a hug. "Honey, God is taking care of us!"
We were going to be able to pay all the bills. We were going to more than be able to pay the bills. We were going to have a little extra. Anything over one hour of overtime would give us more than we needed; not only would we be able to pay all our bills but we would have money to be able to put into our savings account. The weight that had been holding me down seemed to be loosening; I was afraid to be too hopeful and optimistic, but so far, Mike was right. We were being taken care of.
"I'll be working Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving, which is double time and a half, then I get paid for the day after. We'll have more than enough money for Christmas." He smiled down at me. I love that smile.
Thanksgiving came and went and just like he had said, Mike made enough money to pay for our Christmas. I was thankful, beyond thankful, that we were able to give our children any sort of Christmas. I looked back over the last year, remembering the stress Mike had endured with the small City and how the opportunity to transfer departments seemed to drop into his lap. I remembered how quickly he had been hired; it had only taken weeks instead of months. I remembered how he had received a pay raise that finally gave us some breathing room and how instead of using the raise to dig us out of our hole we had used it to dig the hole deeper. And I remembered how clearly God had spoken to both of us; how He had grabbed our attention and finally we had listened and how every pay period since He had given Mike opportunity for overtime. I remembered how good it felt to see the minmum payment on our credit card go down every month, even if only by two or three dollars. Despite our stubborness and stupidity God was blessing us and providing for us in ways I hadn't expected. I still struggled with my "wants" though. I missed having cable and since cancelling our gym membership I had gained some weight. I knew I could blame a few pounds on the holidays but my pants were getting tight and that frustrated me. I sometimes felt frustrated that I had to make dinner at home every night; that we weren't going on many dates. I tried to focus on the good that had happened regardless. My heart was very full and I found myself growing emotional every time I thought of where we had been and where we were heading. It seemed my emotions were getting the best of me quite a bit.
On Januray first I woke up and looked at Mike sleeping next to me. I gently shook him. "Honey," I whispered. "Honey!"
He opened one eye and smiled at me.
"You get the cost of living raise today!"
"I had hoped you had something else on your mind," he teased.
"I'm all about the money," I teased back.
We giggled together, happy to start our year off on such a sweet note.
As the weeks to the first full paycheck in January approached I could feel the tension easing out of my shoulders. Thinking about money still made me emotional (come to think of it just about everything was making me emotional) but I knew the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer every day.
I needed to go grocery shopping and called my mom to see if she wanted to go with me. The kids and I picked her up and we headed out to WinCo, the cheapest grocery store around. I only had $40 to buy groceries for the week and I was feeling stressed, the responsibilty of feeding my family of five staring me down. My mom always made me feel better. She empathized appropriately agreeing that my budget didn't afford for much but reminded me of our end goal and how mac 'n cheese had been good enough for me; it would be good enough for my kids. She took the older boys around the store with her while I took B with me and browsed the aisles looking for the cheapest cereals, meats and soy milk I could find. At the end when I was ready to check out I stared at my calculator. I was over budget by $3. I looked at my cart comparing what I saw to what was on my list; there was nothing I could put back. I had an extra $5 in my wallet that I had planned on using for a Starbucks later. I exhaled as the frustration once again welled up inside me and I moved the $5 out of my wallet. I choked down tears of disappointment as I began loading groceries onto the conveyor belt. My mom rubbed my back. "Honey, I can give you five bucks," she tried to reassure me. I didn't want her to. I wanted to do this on my own regardless of how painful it was. I felt like I had to pay pennance for our financial mistakes. But I really wanted Starbucks. I felt like a toddler, ready to throw a tantrum because I didn't get my way. I felt foolish, being upset over something so trivial. I tried reminding myself of all the starving children, of the homeless people, of all those in need and all I wanted was a stinking Starbucks. I could part with $5 to feed my own family, couldn't I? I hoped I could guilt myself into feeling better about my "sacrifice" but I had become bitter that I couldn't get what I wanted.
"$38," the cashier said from behind her register. I stared at her, dumbfounded. I didn't think I heard her correctly. Only $38? How had I mis-calculated so much? I checked my cart and then the belt to make sure I hadn't missed something. Everything was there. I slowly handed her my two 20's and my cheeks burned with embarrassment as I put the $5 back in my wallet, thankful no one could read my thoughts. As she handed me my change I began to sob. I couldn't stop crying. It was the dirty kind of crying, the blubbering, can't talk, can't breathe kind. The cashier looked at me, a little alarmed, and then at my mom.
My mom stared at me briefly before exclaiming a loud and awkward "Thank you!" to the cashier as she pushed me forward, grabbed the boys hands and moved us toward the exit. I could barely walk I was crying so hard. It was a mixture of relief and disbelief, and disappointment that for a moment I genuinly believed I was making a huge sacrifice; that I was giving up so much because God hadn't given us enough. Why was I so fickle? Wasn't it just this morning that I was excited about what God had been providing? Why couldn't I just trust Him all the time? Why couldn't I even trust Him to get me a stupid Starbucks?
When the groceries were unloaded and the kids were buckled in my mom and I sat silently in the front of the car. I had finally settled down a bit. My mom put her hand on my knee and looked at me with love.
"Honey," she said, "I think you and Mike should talk about taking a pregnancy test."
To be continued...