Monday, September 27, 2010

Plastic Surgery...I triple dog dare you!

Going under the knife? Several years ago, someone told me I should have plastic surgery. They said to me right in front of a crowd of people I have a "big nose" and I should get a nose job. Now, I'm not going to lie to you... it literally destroyed any bit of self-esteem I might have had and it took me a long time to get over it. I've always been self-conscious about my nose.

According to the world's standards, I might have a less than "perfect" nose. But then again, I've always been a bit of a non-conformist when it comes to the ways of the world. Looking back, I'm actually thankful I had that experience. It just made me all the more stubborn and firmly resolved that I would NEVER change my nose. God gave me my nose for a reason and I truly believe that. It's me. Zeke says I look "exotic" (I love you, babe!) I think I look like I'm from a foreign country or maybe like one of those old Greek statues...
maybe?... anyway...I'm not actually talking about that kind of plastic surgery.
I'm SO not into that!

I'm talking about something infinitely more important, something that can bring lasting happiness, peace of mind, and financial security. I'm talking about the kind of plastic surgery that Elder Holland and so many other Prophets and Apostles have referred to:
Cutting up our credit cards!!

Elder Holland:
"As part of this general financial caution we encourage, if necessary, plastic surgery for both husband and wife. This is a very painless operation: Just cut up your credit cards. Unless you are prepared to use those cards under the strictest of conditions and restraints, you should not use them at all—at least not at high rates of interest. No convenience known to modern man has so jeopardized the financial stability of families, especially young struggling families, like the credit card.
Just as your religion should protect you against immorality and violence and other family tragedies, it will protect you against financial despair as well, if you will let it. Pay your tithes and offerings first. No greater financial protection can be offered you. Then simply budget what is left the rest of that month. Make do with what you have. Do without. Say no. You can hold your head high even if your clothing is not the most stylish nor your home the most regal. You can hold it high for the simple reason that it is not bent or bowed with the relentless burden of debt."

As I was serving in the Young Women organization, I felt very inspired and prompted to complete my Personal Progress. I really wanted to get "My Young Women" excited about Personal Progress. I thought the best way to do that would be by example. Well, it was an awesome life-changing experience to say the least!

One of the requirements was to "live within my means" for 3 months. OUCH! I instantly thought, "yeah right, that's only possible for single people without children, people who aren't in school, people who don't have high-deductible health insurance like we do" and on and on (I was making excuses). I seriously didn't think I'd be able to do it! But I knew if I wanted to receive my YW Recognition Award and show the girls "if I can do it, you can do it" then I would need to follow through and complete every part of the personal progress honestly and to the best of my ability.

So I gave it a try... I talked to Zeke and he was totally on board with it. I have always been the one "in charge" of the money (yeah, no pressure whatsoever, right?) I said a prayer (actually hundreds) and asked Heavenly Father to help us "live within our means" and to have faith. We cut up our credit cards and more importantly for us, we stopped using those stupid convenience checks they send in the mail. Oh, we always needed something. And even now, I have a list a foot long of things we need, but the question is: do we really need them right now? My perspective and the way I do things have completely changed. I have learned a great deal of patience and self-control.

Now I'm going to be honest, this has been one of the most-challenging and stressful years of my life (mostly because I'm suffering the consequences of past choices) but at the same time, this year has been one of THE most strengthening, miracle filled, spiritual, joyful/"peace of mind" kind of years I have ever had. Ever.

Since August 2009, we have not used a credit card for ANYTHING. Not once!
It has brought us the greatest blessings we have ever experienced. The continual peace and confidence we have felt is worth so much more than any fleeting thrill of buying something. We have changed how we do things and gone without some things people think they can't, but we have made our own fun and I think it's brought us closer as a family and made us more grateful for the little things in life. It's been hard, but with Heavenly Father's help, we've done it.
It IS possible!

Now, I know you're thinking of a million "reasons" why you need a credit card. Until last year, I was always making excuses, always justifying our use of credit cards (Zeke's still in school, our insurance premium went up, Zeke got another pay cut at work, the water heater is broken, the dishwasher is broken, doctor bills, Christmas presents, school pictures, or maybe I just don't feel like making dinner, etc, etc, etc.)

What I realized is that all of these excuses are really just a lack of Faith. You may think I'm simple minded, maybe I am, but the Lord has said he would provide for our needs (see 3 Ne. 13:28-34). Do we believe Him? Do we let Him help us? Or do we trust in the "arm of flesh" (see 2 Ne. 4:34) and swipe that little card every time we need an extra $20 for groceries, a tank of gas, or even a new water heater? Zeke and I were laughing about that analogy of trusting in the "arm of flesh"... I'm picturing my flabby "relief society arm" jiggling every time I swipe a credit card through that little machine... it makes me laugh every time!

After getting rid of all of our credit cards and truly living within our means for over a year, I came across a scripture that I don't recall ever reading before (maybe I wasn't ready for it yet): D&C 111:5: "Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them." To me, this was Heavenly Father telling me, okay, you're doing your part and now I can do mine. Good job!
I feel a greater peace than I have ever known in my life! I feel confident when I say my prayers and ask Heavenly Father to bless us and specifically to help us financially. I know we are doing our part and He will do His part. (see D&C 82:10)

I've realized that "living within our means" is a gospel principle we can be perfect at. Just like paying tithing, it is something we can either do or NOT do. There's no gray area (not anymore at least). I feel peace knowing that I am being obedient. I feel so grateful when I recognize the blessings that come pouring in because of my choice to "live within my means". We have been overwhelmed and amazed at the incredible miracles that have taken place in our lives this last year or so. Everything began to fall into place as soon as we took that leap of faith, got out our credit cards and did some serious plastic surgery!

Say a prayer and get out your scissors -- I triple dog dare you!!

"If you opt for any other way of life or try to live only the parts of the gospel that seem convenient, such a choice will cheat you of the full, resplendent joy and happiness for which you were designed by our loving Father in Heaven and His Son." -- Marcus B. Nash of the Quorum of the Seventy

9 comments:

  1. Lacy I can't believe anyone would say something about you like that! How rude. I think you are gorgeous! You keep mentioning about your insurance going up? Is that because of someone in your family being diagnosed with something? Just wondering. So as to the credit card stuff good for you. That is wonderful. Now I need to put my two cents in ha ha.
    I personally think credit cards are wonderful WHEN USED CORRECTLY. We use our card as a debit card. We get cash back through the year as we use it and ta da come Christmas we have Christmas money. We are already up to 250 with our cash back. We use it for stuff we would regularly buy with a check or cash but we use our card and take it out just like it would have been cash or check. We don't ever use those checks they send in the mail, I just rip them up as soon as I get them. I guess what I'm trying to say is Credit cards aren't bad. When used correctly they can pay you back. I would say to do some plastic surgery if you can't pay for the things you buy and don't have the self restraint from buying "wants". I hope that all made sense.

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  2. Lacy, I love this post!! You are amazing. Your story sounds a lot like Jez and I. We have always had a hard time making ends meet and we have often used credit cards as a "fallback." I too have been the one to keep up with the budget and it is a tough job. Over the years we have gotten into a lot of debt over small purchases here and there, and also a few big ones (medical bills, etc). It is so hard once you become a slave to that debt. We would find ourselves using all our cash just to pay debt and we would have nothing left to pay the bills, so it would just deepen the hole we were digging cause we would use the cards to get by. We always thought that as soon as Jez was done with school it would get better, but it was just harder because then we had student loans. We finally decided to do "plastic surgery" about 4 months ago and we haven't had a single transaction for 4 months. It is a huge accomplishment for us! I know that God does bless us as we do our part. He has been more than merciful to our family. I can't wait until the day we are truly debt free... and yes, our "want/need list" keeps growing too, but I have finally realized that we CAN live without some of those things. Keep up the awesome job! I will look forward to our 1 year anniversary of no credit cards. :)

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  3. @ Sandra, I do agree with you it's okay when credit cards are used CORRECTLY, but I think too many other people feel it's okay to "spend spend spend" because of all the incentives they are getting... if they don't pay their balance in full each month then they are NOT truly living within their means. Pure and simple.

    We have a debit card through our bank with very similar incentives that you have and it's been great for us, because our spending limit is our current checking account balance. (We couldn't overspend even if we wanted to):)

    It's all about self-control and I think that is different for each person.

    @ Lisa YOU are my hero!!

    @ Trina, good for you!! It feels great, doesn't it? :)

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  4. Sandra, I missed your other comment about our health insurance... no we're the same as far as our health is concerned, but Zeke's company keeps raising the deductible and lowering the benefits every year... just another effect of the poor economy, I guess.

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  5. Great job! We did it in 2008 but then fell off of the wagon a little bit...you are inspiring me to start over today.

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  6. Lacy you are so amazing & inspiring!!!!

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  7. Hmmm. Something to think about.

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  8. I have ALWAYS thought that you are pretty Lacy! I had someone once tell me that I should laser off all the freckles on my face. I thought about it for a minute and then thought, "Why would I?!? That's what makes me, ME!"

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