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Our Story: We Have Been There

As you have read and heard, Teresa and I were married very young and had three children by the age of nineteen.  I worked and Teresa stayed home to raise the children.  In the early years when Teresa and I struggled financially, we always placed our children’s needs before our own.  We knew that every child that has ever been born on this earth is a true blessing from God, an angel directly from heaven above.  Our children, just as yours are, were and are absolutely beautiful.  I mention early in the Financial Life Book that my parents got a divorce when I was in my early teens, that experience caused me to make up my mind that no matter what, I was going to stay the course if God ever blessed me with children.  I still love my parents dearly and talk to them every day and I thank God for them.  My comments are not directed at them or anyone of you who might be divorced in this class.  I am only talking about my own convictions.

We all have defining moments in our lives and I can remember mine like it just happened.  My first job was with Coca Cola when I was only sixteen years old and I was responsible for a Coke route (back then they were not as strict on the age rules as companies are today).  On this particular day it was cold with the temperature hovering right at 32 degrees and it was raining buckets and sleeting.  One of the stops on my route kept their empty bottles in the yard next to the pavement and they didn’t sort their bottles by putting them together by brand (Coke, Sprite, etc,) so, I would have to sort their bottles before I loaded the crates onto the truck.  I was sick with a cold and felt like death warmed over.  I was in and out of the rain and sleet all day, but at this stop I was in one spot, out in the weather, for ten or fifteen minutes just sorting those bottles.  I was beyond wet.  My back got tired and I fell to my knees in the mud.  All of the sudden I became really frustrated and disgusted and stopped sorting the bottles.  I started daydreaming about high school.  As I was on my knees in the mud I could visibly see the classrooms and my buddies.  I was trying to imagine what they were doing at that particular moment and it was like I was there with them.  I don’t know how long this went on, but all of the sudden I asked myself, why are you thinking about this?  You are never going to be able to go back to that school; you are never going to be able to play baseball or football again, so why are you in the pouring down, freezing cold rain wasting time?  Then it hit me.

I remembered the promise I made to God and to myself about staying with my children until they were eighteen years old.  I remember thinking that they didn’t ask to be brought into this world.  I brought them in and it is my responsibility to take care of them.  All of this started running through my head and BAM…I stood up and looked up at the sky with the freezing rain hitting me in the face and running down my already soaked neck and I said, “God I am sorry for these thoughts and I promise you I will never look back again and I will see this through just as I promised.”  I am sure if someone was looking out a window of that store they probably didn’t know what in the world was going on.  Here is a young guy standing in the freezing rain, soaking wet, looking up at the heavens and talking to someone.  After my little talk with God I finished sorting the bottles and as I promised I never looked back.

In saying all of this, it sounds pretty selfish when I read it.  I really thought I had it rough back then with all of the jobs and working mostly seven days a week.  I didn’t understand what that little girl I married was going through.  A few years ago we were talking about the beginning and she told me that her biggest fear back then, after we had the first, then second, and then the third child (remember by that time we were just nineteen), was that I would leave her.  She had three babies in diapers almost at the same time.  She had the fear of me leaving on her mind; she dealt with the bill collectors on the phone, she stood at the window and watched the gas man turn off our gas or the water man turn off our water.  She would pick up the telephone and hear no dial tone.  The phone being disconnected was probably not that bad, with no phone the bill collectors could not call and be mean to her.  She really had the weight of the world on her little shoulders and I thought it was just on mine alone.

From the first day our children were born we wanted the best for them and we wanted them to have it better than we had ever had it.  We wanted to teach them not to make the same mistakes that we had made.  We wanted our children to accomplish more than we had and we wanted them to understand the importance of making God proud and to make a difference while they are here on this earth.  Our children were our focus then as they still are today.  Back then we made sure they went to the dentist, even if we couldn’t.  We made sure they were always dressed presentably even if we had to make do without.  And we made sure they were polite and respectful to others.  We could take them from an early age into a china shop and they knew not to touch things that didn’t belong to them.  We never mistreated them, they knew right from wrong and they knew we wouldn’t put up with any nonsense.  If they did something they were not supposed to do, they knew there would be consequences.

Even with all of the hardships we endured and all that was taking place in our lives back then, we knew what we needed to do when it came to our children.  We wanted them to be good, God fearing and loving people when they grew up.  We could not go to church back then, so my Grandmother (Granny Barfield) would come by and take our children to Church every Sunday morning.  The reason we couldn’t go to church was that I was always working on the weekends and Teresa didn’t have any clothes good enough to wear to church.  Back then people made a big deal of wearing suits and dresses to church and you almost felt like they were laughing or talking about you if you weren’t dressed up to par.  So, she didn’t go and to be perfectly honest with you, at the time we didn’t understand the full importance of going to church.  But thank goodness that my Grandmother knew how important it was and she made sure that our children went.  Now the entire family attends church, we even have a son-in-law who is a pastor!

When you are having money problems you feel the strain and most of the time have arguments over it.  Teresa and I were no different.  When we would have one of our arguments (which was always over money…or the lack of it), we knew to NEVER argue in front of our children.  I can say to this day we never did.  We would wait until they were asleep or were outside playing.  They never knew how bad we had it and just how poor we were.  In fact, our oldest daughter, Toni, told us later that they always thought we were rich.  I don’t know how we made them think that, but they did for some reason.  Maybe it was because they never saw us argue over money or anything else and we always made sure they didn’t go without.  What ever we did, God only knows, but it worked.

Please keep in mind that money is the number one cause of divorce, child abuse, spousal abuse, and suicide in our country.  When a bankruptcy happens (they are setting new records every year) many times it leads to divorce.  Money also has a direct connection to our attitudes.  If we have money in our pocket and our bills are paid our attitude is usually good, but on the other hand, if we don’t have a penny in our pocket and are not current on our bills, our attitude goes completely south.  You feel like things are hopeless and everything around you gets on your nerves.  Your temper grows short and as each day goes by the more frustrated you become.  Things actually feel hopeless.  As this begins to happen (from day one) your spouse and children see you change right before their eyes.  Then as things worsen financially you act the part.  Your spouse feels the pressure right along with you, but this is no consolation to you.  And the worse part of all of this is that your children are the ones who will ultimately pay the highest price.  The life as they know it today will be lost to them forever.  This must make the sorry old Devil happy when he sees all of the misery that he and the lack of money has caused.  If you find yourself or someone you love in this type of situation please understand, in many cases, with the information you will gain from this class along with your Financial Blueprint, you can create a permanent solution to what was only a temporary problem.  You can get a handle on things and turn them around if that is your focus.

I want to leave you with one last thought; that is to always ask for God’s favor and to never ever give up.  As you have just read and will hear me say in the class sessions, Teresa and I definitely were knocked down many times and almost knocked out in several of the financial situations.  But, we stayed focused on what God had blessed us with…our beautiful family and our dreams.  If you are doing well financially in life or if you are barely getting by, in either case keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When you are hit with one of life’s curves, get up, dust yourself off and keep going.  Keep your focus and refuse to lose. 

He FAILED in business in ’31.
He was DEFEATED for State Legislator in ’32.
He tried another business in ’33, it FAILED.
His fiancée died in ’35.
He had a nervous BREAKDOWN in ’36.
In ’43, he ran for Congress and was DEFEATED.
He tried again in ’48 and was DEFEATED again.
He tried running for Senate in ’55.  He LOST.
The next year he ran for Vice President and LOST.
In ‘59 he ran for Senate again and was DEFEATED.
In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States of America.  

The difference between histories boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often simply the diligent will to persevere.
A. Lincoln

Now I realize that you are not trying to make history or running for President, but you can change the future for your family and future generations with your actions and your perseverance.  Please take all of the information and tools available to you in the Financial Framework Seminar™ and change your financial life!  Good luck and my God bless!