Sorry for the lengthy post and the absence of updates. It’s been a week since my last post, and to be honest things have been kinda slow around here, which is a good thing. Sara has been at full capacity and we have enjoyed getting to take a small vacation from all of this by staying at home since last Wednesday. We’ve been recovering and taking it easy. I went back to work at Real Life Church this week and we are slowly getting used to our new routine (for me it’s a lot of cooking and cleaning and driving, for her it’s a lot of sleeping and, well, sleeping). We just checked back into the hospital for Round Two of chemo and Sara is in much better condition now than she was 3 weeks ago when we checked in, which means we’re hoping to pass through the next 5 days of chemo with flying colors. It’s amazing that one good thing keeps coming after another. We have no doubt that God’s hand is on this situation and that He is in complete control, which is why I’m going to stop talking about us now, and I’d like to talk about you.
Well, sort of. I’m going to talk about you by talking about us at the same time, I think, that way you don’t feel cheated by reading this, since your primary interest for tuning in to begin with was, “Hey, I want to hear about Sara and Jayme! I mean, that is the name of this web site, isn’t it?” Well don’t you worry, I’ll be talking plenty about us (Type A narcissist, remember).
I’ve been busying my day with taking care of my wife, sleeping when I can, watching Three Stooges episodes on YouTube and returning phone calls to everyone who has called or texted me in the past 3 weeks. Interestingly, I can’t help but to notice a few things about every conversation I’ve had:
1) The conversations are the exact same length. 12, 16 or 28 minutes. Odd, isn’t it?
2) Everyone wants to know how Sara and I are doing (understandable; no surprise there).
3) Everyone is surprised by not only my calm demeanor when I speak to them but also by the fact that I am actually calling them back in the midst of this turmoil (surprising, I know).
4) I keep hearing something similar to this phrase as well, with few variations, “You guys don’t deserve this,” “I can’t believe this is happening to you,” “You two, of all people, didn’t deserve this,” “How did this happen? You take such good care of yourselves…”
I have a working hypothesis that I’d like to share with you (I’m no scientist or anything, so take it for what it is), and I found it while I was reading the book of John this morning. Jesus heals a blind man. Yea, yea, heard that one before. Been there, done that, Jesus can do anything, ok, next.
Well just wait a minute, because this is kinda cool – at the beginning of chapter 9 his disciples ask him, “Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sin?”
Oooo, isn’t this interesting, that even 2,000 years ago people were asking the same questions we are now? Why is this happening? Who’s fault is it? Did he deserve it somehow? Why is it so unfair? Hmm… If you haven’t beat me to the punch yet I’ll share with you Jesus’ response:
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sin,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
We all know what comes next, Jesus spits on the ground rubs it in some dude’s eyes and then he can see. Yay. But that’s not really what impressed me this morning; it was the part where it said that this dude was blind so that the power of God could be seen in him. That’s pretty cool. Obviously Mr. Blind becomes Mr. I Can See Now, which is something that pretty much everyone who ever knew him will come to notice. Then they’ll want to know who, what, where, when and why, and then Ding! Ding! Ding! Glory to God forever and ever, Amen! Ok got it, next.
Hold on – there’s still plenty to chew on here. When I apply this to Sara and I, I can’t help but to think that I’m sure that this whole ugly scenario is happening to us because God is going to use it somehow, that’s a given. Duh. But that’s only the first half of Jesus’ answer. What comes next is my favorite part: “The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
I don’t know what time of day it is where you are right now as you’re reading this. But do you want to know where Sara and I are? Take a guess.
It’s dark as night right now. Yes, the prognosis is good, yes great news keeps coming our way, and yes we’re hopeful. But there’s plenty more to come, and to be honest, this isn’t really the beginning for us. It’s been nighttime for a while for us. Follow me on a journey, like the fat dude who plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, except it’s January and I’m not Charles Dickens (here’s the part where I talk about us, just like I said I would – narcissist).
2012 and 2013 were great; we paid off ALL of our consumer debt (business loans, credit cards and student loans) and saved up a 6 month Emergency Fund (all of our typical expenses for 6 months). I say that as if it was easy. It wasn’t. We clawed our way out of the pit (and if you don’t think debt is a pit then you’re only fooling yourself, wake up). We lived on beans and rice for two years; no vacations, no dates, $80/week for food, no fun. We worked hard and we got to a place called Financial Peace (coincidently also the name of the program by Dave Ramsey). That brings us to last year.
2014 sucked. In March I lost my income, so Sara and I all of a sudden had 50% less money (#$%!). It wasn’t a big deal. At all. You know why? We didn’t owe anyone money (except a mortgage), and anyways, as a cushion we were set for 6 months without any new income. Instead of an emergency (like I’m sure much of America would feel if they lost 50% of their family’s income) it was much more like a bump in the road for us.
Then Sara’s health starts going south in the summer, there’s more doctor visits and medications and specialists, and since we all have Affordable Healthcare now, that seems to mean that I can’t afford my healthcare (go figure). More money out the window.
In October Sara’s car explodes (not really) and we’re out $1,600 to buy another one. Again – Emergency Fund, so not really an emergency, just another bump. In November we’re out an ADDITIONAL $2,700 each month for our mortgage (long story, don’t ask). Somehow we make ends meet, but we’re back to living on beans and rice like we did from 2012-2013. But still no big deal – just a bump in the road.
It’s December and Sara’s health really starts taking a turn for the worse, and of course we end up where we are now. It’s likely that both of us will be out of work for several weeks, if not months (up to 6 or 8 months potentially) with nothing but disability as a guarantee. Like I said, 2014 sucked, and 2015 ain’t starting out so pretty either. But here’s the interesting thing: even without any new income coming in, we’re still set for the next 9 months financially (because our Emergency Fund has grown), we’re still able to tithe (10%) the same as we were when we were both making money, and we’re also still able to put away 15% of our previous income away into retirement. Why? You guessed it – our Emergency Fund. Well, one other thing as well – by the grace of God someone has anonymously picked up our mortgage payment for the next 6 months. God provides.
Even though we’ve been hit as hard as possible in the worst place at the worst time, we’re still able to put away 25% of an income that WE’RE NOT EVEN MAKING ANYMORE while living off savings for the rest of the year, all because we were ready for a rainy day. We don’t have to stop our plan, push pause, borrow from a creditor, worry about where we’re gonna get the money to keep the lights on, put food on the table or anything like that. We’re doing fine (of sorts) because we are ready for it. Which is interesting to me, because everyone keeps saying, “I can’t believe this is happening to you!”
Honestly, I can.
Of all the people that this could happen to (I’m not in the least going to say that I welcome it), it sorta makes sense that it is us. Even this too shall pass, and though it’s more terrifying than anything that I’ve ever encountered in both my life and in my worst nightmares, eventually it will be just another bump in the road (thanks to our insurance company, our mortgage helper, our diligence and strength in each other, and by the grace and power of God almighty). And I have a good feeling that, because we’ve spent the past 3 years working so hard together toward our financial and health goals, we are strong enough as partners in life to make it through this in one piece. We’ve been preparing for this moment; we’ve been training for this moment; pre-season is over, it’s game time. We know how to work together, how to sacrifice, how to compromise, how to delay pleasure today for a reward later on down the road… We’ve been practicing this since 2012 when we clawed our way out of debt, started saving money like crazy, got our diets in control and started taking care of our bodies. We’re disciplined, strong and ready for the fight. I don’t want to say that I’m glad it’s us, but I’m certainly not surprised that it is, and I’d much rather it be us than someone we love who maybe isn’t ready for it.
Although I’m most certainly surprised that Sara is as sick as she is, I’m not surprised at all that God chose us to bear this burden. In Jesus’ own words, “This happened so the power of God could be seen in (us).” God will receive the glory for her miraculous recovery, not us, not our doctors.
And everything else Jesus said seems to be true for us as well: It’s certainly “night,” no doubt it’s pitch-black at the moment, and we certainly aren’t working any time soon. But Jesus is here with us, Immanuel, and He hasn’t given us anything that we can’t handle. Don’t worry about us, but instead pray for us and be amazed as you watch God carry us through this.
I’d also like to back up to something I said a moment ago – that we were ready for a rainy day.
They say that there’s two things you can be sure of in life; death and taxes. Well I’m adding a third one: Rainy Days. Believe me, it’s going to rain. No, it’s going to storm, really. In fact, it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a hurricane. Actually it’s going to be so violent, so massive and so gut-wrenching that it will bring you to your knees; it’ll feel like your beating heart has been torn from your chest and it’ll sweep away everything that you thought you ever “had” in the aftermath of its wake. You won’t know what to do, who to call or where to turn and worst of all it will leave you wishing that you had never been born at all.
You might be thinking, “Woa, woa, Jayme, you gotta be positive right now!” Trust me. I’m positive. It’s. Going. To. Rain. Period. The storm is coming. Are you ready?
Ah! This must be the part where we talk about you. Didn’t I say that’s what this post would be about?
Will you weather the storm that’s heading your way? Are you ready for it? Financially? Emotionally? Spiritually? Physically? Relationally? Don’t believe the lies telling you that you’re safe from it (I only say that because I used to tell them to myself, and yet, here I am battling a monsoon with an umbrella). If you truly believe that you’re safe, that it won’t happen to you or that you’re storm-proof, just do this for me: extend your right arm out in front of your body and place two fingers from your left hand onto your right wrist, just below the thumb.
Do you feel a pulse?
If you answered “yes” to that question then good, you’re alive. It’s gonna rain.
I didn’t think it would happen to me either, but looking back now I can see that it’s been raining since March for Sara and I. We’ve suffered a loss financially, emotionally, physically and now health(ily). Don’t be so arrogant as to think that you won’t ever be in our position, and don’t be so pompous as to believe that your bad situation can’t get worse. Ours got worse. And then worse. Worse, and even worse still. Up until 3 weeks ago it felt like there wasn’t anything left to take from us. But here’s the thing: There’s peace. There’s comfort. There’s hope. Jesus said that He was the light of the world so long as He’s here. I can contest to that claim.
I’d like to invite you to check out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University right now if you’re feeling like you’re not ready for the storm. I couldn’t even imagine experiencing what we’re going through right now alongside with the added insult to injury of multiple maxed out credit cards in the 5 digits, student loans, a car loan, a second mortgage… Woof! I’m losing enough sleep as it is, I don’t need to also worry about Uncle Sam coming to take everything I “own” from me.
I’d also like to invite you to try out three more programs that’ll change your life for the better, as they did ours: two fitness routines called Insanity and P90X, and a diet/lifestyle routine called The Daniel Plan. All of these programs have impacted our lives for the better, and I am positive that they are a huge part of the reason for Sara’s prognosis and my calmness/sanity.
If you feel like I’m being preachy right now, good. Mission accomplished. If you’e feeling like I’m calling you out, even better. That’s exactly what I’m doing. If you’re offended, great. I don’t care. If you’re reading this then you must be someone that I love and I’m telling you what you need to hear. Because believe me – one day you’ll be where I am; it’ll be you or someone that you love dearly who’s in my position or Sara’s, and I want you to be ready for it.
And if you think I’m wrong, then go ahead and continue what you’re doing. You must know something that Sara and I don’t, and maybe you’ll beat the odds (by the way, the deck is stacked against you). But take my word for it – as hard as it is to believe right now, we’re at peace (financially and spiritually speaking), and pretty soon we’ll be there physically speaking. I can see it now just above the horizon, that this will be just another bump in the road. Jesus instructed us to “quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us.” I’m pretty sure that Sara and I are doing exactly that right now, which also explains the majority of our peace.
Could you say the same about yourself if you were in our position? Or better yet, will you say the same when you’re in our position?