Many years ago in a far away land. I was a young wife with 3 small children living on NOTHING! We literally lived from paycheck to paycheck. There was no money for extras, sometimes there wasnt even money for food. I had to utilize every ounce of ingenuity I could muster. I sewed clothes from yardage scraps my aunt would send me, I tried to hit garage sales for shoes, coats and other items of clothing. My entire home was furnished with cast off furniture that my parents and grandparents donated to the cause. Just when I thought things would get better, something dreadful would happen again. We had no health insurance, no reliable vehicle and at times no job. There was no such thing as being able to go to the dentist or doctor unless it was a dire emergency. I lived this way for at least 15 years of my married life. Eventually, I learned the life lessons I needed to learn. I always remember my Granny saying "A woman can throw more out the back door than a man can bring in the front door". I knew I wasnt guilty of this, but it did make me take note of those things I could do to save money.
After my divorce, I was once again in pretty desperate times. But I still had those lessons ingrained into my being. I knew I could feed my kids and provide for them. It may not be fun and probably wont be anything exciting. But I took the challenge and tried to make a game out of it. I still had two children at home to raise and they were in grade school. Even in our society of name brands and expensive clothing. I managed through garage sales, clearance racks and thrift stores to dress them decently. I worked at every job I could get. Cleaning houses, babysitting and as a nurse during the week. It paid the bills. I wanted to return to school and advance my degree. I was an LVN and working in an office which was ok if there was another income, but as a single mom it was almost impossible to achieve a decent living. I hatched this plan to go back and get my RN degree. First, I had to sell my home. It didnt take long for it to sell and I used that money to put a down payment on a smaller home. I wanted the kids to be in a safe neighborhood and finally found a little house that fit the bill. I had no bills and my car was paid off, so I started saving all of the money I could get my hands on. I slashed every expense I could. My cleaning supplies were handmade. I didnt buy anything that wasnt absolutley needed. I had to come up with a plan to survive one year of full time school and part time work.
One Saturday I was praying that God would guide me, tell me what to do, how can I accomplish this feat??? I felt in my being that I needed to go through my house and make a list of everything I use on a daily basis. I had pages of items,starting in the kitchen and went through to the laundry room. I also made note of extra things, stamps,envelopes,pens, school supplies for me and the kids. I finally had my list. The next thing I needed to figure out was how long with normal use did those things last? I jotted a date on everything I opened and made note of the results. This took a while to compile. For instance, I knew that one large container of washing powder would last me 3 months using 1/2 scoop. The next step was to buy and store a years worth of items. I allocated $100 a month for this. I would note how much I had bought and what I still needed, watched the sales and stocked up! I had stuff stored under the beds, cabinets,everywhere I could find a storage spot. I even bought that years Christmas and Birthday presents. When I would get some extra money it went toward my stock project.
I had been taking classes part time and it was getting close to the time that I would have to attend Monday - Thursday every week for a year. I took a step of faith and applied for entry. I still didnt have all I needed, but went forward anyway. I took a job at the hospital working Friday-Sunday. This literally meant that I would have no days off for a year. I applied for a new scholarship that I had heard about hoping that I could at least get a partial to help with books and tuition. I got the call one Saturday that I had been accepted into the program and it would begin in July. I scraped together enough money for tuition and borrowed books to get through the transition part of the RN program. Transition lasted 30 days. After that, the LVN nurses would start the fall semester with the other second year students. I still didnt know how I would pay for it, but went forward anyway. I worked all the time, studied and went to class. This in addition to all of my other resposibilities of motherhood, yard work and house work. It was a very hard and stressful time. Two weeks before the fall semester I recieved an email that I had won the scholarship out of over 200 applicants! I was on a cloud. I broke down and cried thanking God for His help in this area. This award paid for the entire year, books and tuition!
I started the fall semester with high hopes that in less than a year I would walk across that stage and get my diploma. It was a long hard road I had to follow that year. I lived on peanut butter and crackers, cheese and any leftovers I could scrape together. I would make large pots of chicken spaghetti that had only one chicken breast in it. It would feed us for days. Yes, it was hard and there were things that we did without. But, we survived. We didnt lose our house, we didnt get sick for a whole year, we learned the true meaning of Christmas that year with little to give but hearts full of love and gratitude. When it was all over this past May, I thought I would just collapse. I was very tired, but extremely happy and pleased with what I had accomplished. I had not lived on credit cards, no debt was made and we had survived one of the toughest times in my life.
I am not telling you this story to bring you down or make you feel sorry for me. I am telling it so that others may know that all things are possible in life with God's help. I didnt share my circumstances with anyone at the time, not even my boyfriend. I would not have taken any outside help, nor would I ask for it. I was going to do this on my own. With hard work, perserverance, lots of prayer and a little ingenuity I made it happen. My hope is that others who need encouragement may read this and know that yes, it can be done. Dont give up on your dreams or plans. Know that anything can be achieved.