Monday, July 10, 2017

Bold Prayers for the Impossible...

360 sometimes days, and then some...

How much of a difference God can make in one year. A year ago, I found myself struggling, trying to find the ways that I could to make payments to my student loans. I was basically restricting myself, and learning discipline with my finances. 

Last year, I found myself filling out paperwork (once again), to enroll in a new payment plan for my student loans. In 2014, my financial woes started and it was overwhelming, so nerve wrecking that I ended up developing high anxiety, depression and insomnia. Having to scrape  together $800-$700 a month to pay student loans was insane. Daily my constant battle was do I pay a bill or the student loans? Will I have enough for gas or even food?

I'm very thankful for all those ladies that stepped up in my bible studies and opened their homes. Many times, I was invited to their homes for fellowship, and it was always with a warm meal. Thank you to many of God's angels who I met at the church and through fellowship. Without your kindness and open door, there would have been times where I would have probably starved, or not made it to events as they would pick me up and allow me to carpool with them. At times it was embarrassing for me to arrive to a potluck without food, I would arrive with a small pack of cookies, or small bag of mints, however, they never judged me, and I was and continue to be thankful for their acceptance. 


The deepest valley in my financial life...

Many times I wanted to give up, and move back with family. Then there were times where I knew that I needed to restrict myself even more than before. Eventually, I received a notice for my loans stating that they were going to skyrocket back to $900 a month, with the interest rate where there accumulating amount of $17.00 a day. This was the end of my rope. I felt hopeless, lost, and feeling overwhelmed. I was not sure what to do, so I started to pray and asked for prayer from many people. All of this happened on a Monday, and on that same night I went to the prayer ministry in support of another friend for prayer of her relative. But deep down inside, I felt that I would like some prayer as well. Sure enough, my friend came over and prayed over me, she could sense my troubles, and I began to weep like a child. 
As a mustard seed, that is how big my faith was at the time. While God had performed many transformations and miracles, I had some doubt. But deep down I knew that God would not forget about my troubles. During the Monday night prayer, my friend came to pray over me. I felt serenity and peace, as if things had been solved. The following day, I knew I had to take action, part of this was asking God for help, the other part was me being proactive to ensure that I got the necessary resources to move forward.

On Tuesday during my lunch hour, I decided to do some research and start making some calls. Immediately, I was assisted, I explained my situation, and I was told that I could be helped, there was hope and we could bring down my loans to under $200 a month. Additionally, I qualified for student loan forgiveness.

Tears flooded my eyes, my prayers  were answered, and were being unfolded right before my ears and eventually my eyes. I filled out paperwork and paid legal fees to ensure that my loans would come down to reasonable amounts. In the long run, I was to make monthly payments, a certain amount per month for the next 15-20 years and then, the rest will be forgiven.

Bold moves, bold attitude... getting real

All of this happened in January 2017, fast forward to May 2017, and God's plans really unfolded. While I knew that my loans would kick back into payment, part of me felt that this was not the end of it. As times and politics change so do policies. I knew it would be a matter of time, before the loans went back up, or even worse, that I would have to pay $110,000! Yes that was my greatest debt, seeing how a loan of $70,000 went up by $40,000 because of variable interests and poor research.


I was afraid, afraid of not being worthy of God's mercy and glory. But I came to realize that when I went to pursue my degree, I did it out of spite and arrogance. I wanted to be better than others, show how much more I can do, and show that I can get degrees in higher education. My pursuit was not to improve or to grow, it was to be prideful and vengeful. Once I realized this, I knew I had to get real, I needed to humble myself. In my prayers, I told God to help me and that if necessary I was willing to lose my MBA, I did not obtain it to grow, I obtained it out of wrath and envy. I humbled myself and literally, got real, I was young and stupid. I could have gotten this degree through another school, or simply build my experience. But my lack of maturity and lack of self-esteem played a role in my pursuit of higher education. Higher Education does not equal that I am worth more, my worth does not come from my degrees, it comes from God. 

Proactively moving...

Sure enough, within that week, after pondering and praying (and getting on my knees), in the news there was an article about a school being sued, students joining on the lawsuit and loans being dismissed. It was the school I had attended! Part of me was skeptical and my gut feeling said, look into it, and I did. 

Matthew 7:7" Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you" 

I made the call, and of course, was transferred a couple of times. It's part of the process. I talked to someone, who then started looking into my case. Then a scheduled phone interview. Which left me a bit nervous. An e-mailed questionnaire, which left me drained. After almost two hours, I am told that I qualified for student loan dismissal. My prayers were being answered, and God is so good! I got to keep my MBA, and I get a refund for the amount that I paid on the graduate loans for the last two years. 

I look back now at the journey, and it was well worth it. I have learn that while that was one of my prides, to pursuit and obtain my degree, that's all it was, arrogant, ignorant, selfish pride. I felt God telling me that I need his word more than my degree, his word will give me life, hope, faith and a positive outcome. His word is to be lived and in action, my degree to this day collects dust, his word is actively involved in my everyday life. At times I stumble but I catch myself before falling deeper, and his word is full of grace. 

That night, I was able to go to bed, not worry about how I will pay my loans. God became more real in my life. I now share this with the world because I can't make it happen, but GOD CAN. I can't move the mountain of troubles, but GOD CAN.  It's time to be bold and it's time to get real. It's time to believe that impossible can happen, because GOD CAN make it happen. 

And this has been my Aha moment... 








Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Welcome 2017, how much awaited for you...

Getting ready for the final countdown...sorta...

During the last week, people were trying to find the best way to greet the new year, looking at local venues, finding the right attire, trying to fit in with the status quo. I know I fell into this trap myself, looking for a place for my boyfriend and myself to go and celebrate, ordering a dress for a formal event, booking a hair dresser to get my hair done and even contemplating on booking Uber.

" So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom"-Psalm 90:12

A change of plans and a change of attitude...

To my surprise, as I logged into my e-mail to print out my tickets to the event, the first e-mail that popped up was that of a cancelled event. The much awaited celebration had been cancelled. It was only three hours before the event would have taken place and we had no other place to go.  It was frustrating, another hard hit in 2016. We had already seen many issues during this year, a stream of celebrity deaths, much violence in the media, political turmoil and between my boyfriend and myself many challenges in our personal lives. He started the year at the worst way possible beating the odds, and I started the year stumbling to move forward.

Then it hit me, I could pout about it, or think of this as a hidden blessing to go do something else with my boyfriend. Granted, I wanted to make the last day of the year memorable and spectacular since the other 364 days were A-okay, good, fair or could have improved. But God's plans and timing showed that the original plan was not going to go through. As my boyfriend called  me to  explain that he would be running late, I explained what happened and he simply stated "let's just have a nice dinner, look for an available restaurant and lets just enjoy a romantic evening." 


A true Silent night, A true Calm evening...

It was a nice evening we both spent. Maybe that was God's plan all along, to have us go away from the chaos, the pessimism, the pressures of society and to just enjoy the last hours of 2016. We enjoyed Cuban food which was our first time trying it. We then moved on trying to attend a dance at some of the local places, but to our surprise there was a cover charge. We felt that we would prefer seeing a movie, we went to see "Sing," my boyfriend doesn't like animation movies. However, he was the one laughing throughout the whole film. The film ended and with a 1/2 hour left in 2016, we drove up to Mount Hamilton, picked a spot and saw the skyline for San Jose. From a distance we saw fireworks, the excitement of the city as it welcomed a new year. The whole evening felt different.
Carne con papas arroz con tostones. 
San Jose Skyline 


The truth about time...

For the last month all the world was talking about was the much anticipated arrival of 2017.  A year to start anew, new chances, new opportunities, new starts, and the end of a turbulent year.  The media has reported the most atrocious events to have taken place in the last decade, political turmoil, shooting, bombings, viruses, nature attacks, and a wave of celebrity deaths. Throughout 2016, each month we looked forward to the next month for better times and more positivism. Yet, with each passing month instead of focusing on better days and the little blessings, we continued comparing one tragedy to the next, one death to the next, and one scandal to the next.

" In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" - Matthew 5:16 

We  forgot to live one day at a time and to do things in the now instead of waiting for next week, next month or next year.  We kept waiting for things to get better and only when we saw things get worse, kept pushing off the desires of our heart. Bucket lists were unfulfilled, vision boards were inconclusive, goals were broken and resolutions never met. We kept forgetting through the year that we don't need for a new year to start to launch or push forward on goals, dreams, projects or vision boards. We can start as soon as the thought crosses our mind. It had crossed my mind a while back to test out this Cuban restaurant with my boyfriend, it had crossed my mind to see the movie and it had crossed my boyfriends minds to see the skyline of San Jose at night again. This was a perfect opportunity for us to do things instead of talking about it.

We are into the first week of the new year. It is not surprising that the new year started on a weekend and the second day of the year was a Monday. It is all according to God's plan stopping us from putting excuses and falling into the safety net of  "I'll wait until next week to do..." or " I'll wait for Monday to start fresh on..." well the later is now. The time is now and the moment is now. We keep waiting for things to get better for the weather to get warmer to go for a walk, for the beginning of the year to sign up to a gym, for the beginning of the week to clean out a room or for a fresh week to start writing a book. The moment has come to start seizing the days and show more purpose than yesteryear...

We have 363 days now to do more things. We do not need to wait until next year to do what we have desired to do today. A day at a time a moment at a time, step by step, bit by bit. Things get done, with effort, prayer and drive. We don't need to focus on what could have been, let us focus on what will be. We don't need to rush at the end of the year to join the most glamorous party, we can simply have a nice dinner or go see a new  start with a beautiful view. Overall, let us not stop living life but start enjoying each memory we make.

And this has been my aha moment...