A Year of Change

Be Brave, have faith, and leap …

There comes a point where you just have to step out in faith or you will be forever stuck. It is scary and exhilarating at the same time. I decided I needed to do just that for 2017; step out of my box of known and face the unknown. I did it in phases which made it slightly easier, but hard nonetheless.

 

If you have been reading for a while or if you know me, then you know 3 years ago my husband lost his job and it put us in a tailspin. This is a vital part of our story. It changed everything in unimaginable ways that will forever impact us. After a year we found stability in a job that kept us firmly and significantly under the poverty level. We were lucky though. We had help. Lots of help. Randomly things we needed would appear; people and organizations would help us in every capacity. The kids knew life was rough, but they also knew we were blessed.

What they didn’t know is I skipped meals so they could have full bellies. Clothes were from clothing banks and I mended the holes so they didn’t know. Every month we had disconnect notices. A broken down car was like a jail sentence. Not being able to fix it meant if I couldn’t walk there then I wasn’t going. But we survived. We worked hard and scraped by.

And then I broke. Sometimes just surviving isn’t enough. I couldn’t handle the cycle of poverty we found ourselves in. It is suffocating and depressing and hopeless. It is almost impossible to escape from it. The terrifying thing is people live like this and do not have the help we had. How the heck do they manage? The cycle is almost 100% impossible to break from and I knew this, but I was determined because I couldn’t keep living the way we were.

So I took a leap of faith.

In January I took money I had been slowly saving and invested in an opportunity. I started to sell Perfectly Posh. 2017 was the business building year. We now have hope in my future income instead of despair at where we are at.

In the spring I stopped going to the food pantry and clothing bank. Both were huge leaps of faith since I had nothing to replace this help with. I just made a decision to stop going and instead have faith the gap would be filled.

I also started donating little bits to charity. By summer I was tithing to my church and by fall I was rounding that up so the difference could go to helping others in poverty while we ourselves still live in it. Isn’t that ironic? We still don’t make enough to be above the poverty line. However, we are more than surviving …

The biggest leap was deciding I would not get help from any organizations for Christmas. I panicked and thought it was a stupid decision, but deep down I knew I had to as part of my break away from the cycle we were in. So I took a deep breath and told God “I trust you with my business because it is all for your glory and not mine.”

That is when things got weird.

Not knowing we had a need, someone generously gave us gifts for our oldest. They just didn’t want the items anymore and so we got them. We were also given Pokemon trading cards … lots of them. My kids love Pokemon and play every Saturday at a local comic book store. This was a big deal and made for very excited children on Christmas.
My girls were blessed with a new-to-them bike to share. It didn’t stop there … It has been overwhelming. I hadn’t confided to many about my fears of no Christmas; only a select few who know our situation anyway. The people who helped have no idea the depth of their actions. They were miraculously placed in our lives at the right time. I believe in Divine Intervention.

My kids had an amazing Christmas. It wasn’t over the top and most of the gifts were second-hand, but they got things they wanted and things they never dreamed to ask for. They were thrilled. My money went further than it should have. So many stores had discounts that were allowed to be stacked, shipping was free, and then I was able to get cash back through ebates or swagbucks.

 

Is there stuff I want and even need that I didn’t get? Definitely. But I am OK with that because what we do have shouldn’t even be! This insane leap of faith paid off.

We still have so far to go. I can’t imagine the day we make a real living wage again. We still can’t afford the car we need (we do not all fit in the car we currently have). At the end of the month I still skip most meals so the food doesn’t run out on the kids. There are holes in socks and no plan on replacing them anytime soon. BUT it is so much better than it was. The circle of poverty that surrounds us is crumbling and there is now hope where there wasn’t. All because I couldn’t handle it anymore and took a chance …

~Andrea

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Huge Change

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This year, quite at the last minute, Marco and I decided to place the girls into public school. This is something we talked about ever since we moved into our current school district. When we first moved here we knew the school was a great school, Dee would be going into kindergarten so it would have been great timing. This is what stopped us:

1) Dee had massive anxiety. It was so extreme I was afraid putting her into school would be more harmful than good and I wanted her to love school.

2) The year prior had been awful. Marco lost his job, we lived in different states, and we were homeless. Mark slept on the couch at a friend’s place here and I hopped from place to place. I stayed at an empty house owned by a church, my parents’ house, and hotels. I dragged the kids and dog along with me. It was stressful. The unstable life we led made me want to create a bubble of stability for my kids. I wanted them home with me.

3) Debilitating fear of what the homeschool community would think of me for sending my kids to public school, the fear of being ostracized by homeschoolers and public school mommas since I wouldn’t really fall into either category exclusively, and the fear of being a failure. I feared I had failed at homeschooling my girls. Yes, I realize now that I hadn’t failed, but my fear was real and legitimate.

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We finally came to a breaking point. I was burnt out. Dee and I would fight every time I tried to teach her reading. Math and art and every other subject as fine, but reading? Oh my word. It was awful. Math came easy to her, but reading was hard and she would rather play than read. I cried a lot. She cried a lot. It was not how homeschooling should be. One would think the kid with learning issues and special needs would be the one I struggled to teach. Nope.

To make all of this all 100% worse we were in a homeschool co-op that was the worst experience ever. I loved the other moms there, but the leaders were terrible. They believe in 100% unbending conformity (when I told my therapist this he shuddered). They were not nice people and I hated the toxic environment I was in. I knew I wasn’t going to go back there, but at the same time I knew I couldn’t be home 7 days a week with all 5 kids because I was burnt out. Working at minimum 2 jobs and at maximum 4 jobs, I needed help.

All summer long I struggled with “The Great Debate.” Public school or homeschool? Then one of the kids had a medical crisis and I had to make a decision. The day before classes started I walked into the school and signed the girls up. That was a Tuesday. School started Wednesday. The girls first day was Friday. The entire time we never said a word to anyone other than a few very close people. We did not put up first day of school pictures or discuss it at all.

We lived life and no one noticed. This is a little sad because this means no one really paid any attention to subtle things I said or did. However, I get it. I can miss subtly at times also. My homeschooling friends had no idea the girls were gone all day. I mentioned school and they simply assumed I meant homeschool.

Why didn’t I say anything? I didn’t want to deal with the unnecessary questions and remarks. Remarks that are usually untrue and only hurtful.

“Why did you put them in public school?”
“You know public is not as good as it used it be right?”
“Aren’t you scared of bullies and your kids learning immoral things and growing up too fast?”
“They never really get free time or socialization in school. They will burn out.”
“You are being selfish because you are working. Maybe you should quit your jobs” (or what ever reason they come up with)
“They are at school all day and come home to do homework all night. Do you really want that?”
“You are at the mercy of the schools.”
“Why are you still homeschooling the boys?”
“Do you favor the boys?”

Oh the list of snarky remarks and questions is endless. I didn’t want to deal with them because it is no one’s business. Period. So we didn’t say anything. Mark respected my wishes to keep it quiet. Then the girls had school pictures and I posted them…

People were shocked, but the girls are firmly established in school so no one said anything. I could tell a few people really wanted to, but they held their tongues and I am glad they did. A few people were super happy for us. They understood the turmoil I must have gone through because they messaged me to tell me they deal with the same debate. I felt less alone, less like a failure, and more empowered.

 

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My gorgeous, thriving girls. They are world changers.

The girls are thriving! Ry’s teacher refers to her as an “asset.” What an amazing word! She isn’t just a good kid or studious or smart. She is an asset. This means she is valuable to the class and they need her and greatly benefit from her! WOW! I am pretty sure no one ever referred to me as an asset. When I told Ry the compliment she was glowing. What an amazing confidence boost for a 10 year old girl who was trying to fit in to an already established class. When we went to Parent/Teacher Conference we could tell her teacher really loves her! What an amazing feeling! The confirmation we made the right decision is just what I needed.

Delaney, not surprising, is known as a sweet heart. Everyone loves her gentle and kind ways. Dee still has lots of anxiety, but she is coming out of her shell and developing her strengths. School was exactly what she needed in order to spread her wings and fly. The teacher works one-pm-one with her and the fact they all have gathered to be a foundation under her makes my heart swell. They want to see her succeed. They could easily not care, but they do. Adding these positive influences into her life has been only a blessing.

We have no regrets. This was exactly what needed to be done. The boys are thriving at home, Charlie is getting more in depth one-on-one with me; something he desperately needed. I am far more calm and far less stressed. I am able to better focus and I accomplish more.

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The days are calmer.

Every family needs to decide what is right for them and their children. Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you are a failure because you didn’t do things they way they think you should. You do what you need to do and own it! Being supportive is always the better option.

~Andrea