Monday, November 3, 2014

OVERCOMER: Jerusalem Greer

Oh Jerusalem.  A gal I'd love to know more than I do.  I used to work with her parents when I was at Ouachita and was so surprised when I jumped into this world of AWBU, to not only meet another Ouachita gal, but one I felt like I knew since I knew those from whom she came.  (Even her grandpa was one pretty cool man).

I love her homemade spirit.  Her appreciation for the creative and to create.  He love of God's word and ability to interject it in her everyday. 

The words she shares below are true, real and honest.  I'm so thankful she chose to be real with you (she usually goes with that option) and keep it raw....

  • What have you OVERCOME? Saying “Never”
  • What was your turning point?
    Before the big economic and housing bust six years ago, I worked from home as an interior designer and craft artist. While I loved the work and the flexibility it gave me to be home with my youngest, I was a terrible money manager, and I ran up a lot of business related debt. When the bust happened people -at the level I worked at- stopped needing designers. I tried to sustain things financially through the craft-artist side of my business but I just couldn’t make it work, and I begin to ignore the mounting bills that were coming from collection agencies. Eventually the letters and the phone calls stopped, and I was served judgments for failure to pay. It was horrible, frightening, and I have never felt so alone. The lowest moment found me on the floor of my closet, in a fetal position, sobbing.
    Eventually I got up off the floor and went to work figuring out how to respond to all the judgments. I summoned every ounce of courage I could find and I called law office after law office to set up payment plans that would keep me out of court. I consolidated some of the debt that had not reached judgment status and set up payment plans for it as well. But I still had not reached the hardest moment. The hardest moment was when I knew that I had to go to work outside the home. In order to meet all these payments I needed a steady job in addition to the craft business. Blessedly I found a wonderful Pre-K program for my youngest son and his teacher was an old friend from college, so that softened the blow. But still it was not what I had wanted for him or me. I was one of those staunch mothers who swore I would “never” work outside the home. And yet, I had lived beyond my means and created a situation where there was no other option. I had to get a job. I had to pay off the debt that I alone had created, and I had to repair my credit. That was six years ago and I still worked outside the home even though all the debt was paid off several years ago, and my credit has been repaired to the extent that we were able to buy our dream farmette recently. For five of those years I was able to work at my boy’s school full-time and see them all through the day, being involved in their lives as much or more than if I was a Stay-at-Home-Mom - this was another unexpected blessing that helped our family adjust to my working and helped me pay the debt down faster. Recently, I changed jobs, and the new job - while not at their school - has a much more flexible schedule and allows me to more present in other ways, ways that my boys now in their adolescence need. I continue to work outside the home because I love what I do, the extra income provides us additional opportunities to give, and quite frankly it relieves a lot of stress that came from being stretched so thin month after month. I do not have any credit cards, and I don’t think I ever will again.  We live within our means - making trade-offs when necessary. A family vacation one month may mean a lot of beans and rice the next.
    Over the past six years I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that it is my responsibility to clean up the messes I make. I have learned that I am strong enough to do so.  And I have learned that is no shame in naming our faults, in saying that we have failed. Our stories help each other be brave. I have also learned that saying “never” is a way that we box God in. It’s a way that we turn down his gifts of grace, mercy, and miracles. When we say “never” we turn down the opportunity God has for us to grow, and what sort of life is that? I never planned on going to work full-time. Looking back I cannot imagine a life without the gifts that I received because I was willing to let go of my “never.” This life is so much better.  
  • 5 word life mantra - Be kind and show up.
  • Quote you live by - Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful - Annette Funicello

Connect with Jerusalem:


Debbie Rhoades said...

Jerusalem, I wanted to let you know that your blog post here today realm blessed me today. My family is going through a rough time, and your post gave me a glimmer of hope that we won't always be in this dark place. Thank you bunches!

Jenny Marrs said...

So beautifully said. Incredible journey!