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I bet you might be wondering on what basis I consider myself capable of advising anyone on how to make wiser financial/emotional/spiritual choices, and I’d be wondering the same thing too. I can’t tell you if what I have to say will benefit you, but before you make that decision for yourself,  let me tell you where I came from. And then I’ll tell you who I am.

My beloved hometown is Gary, Indiana, which was once, long before my time, Northwest Indiana’s epicenter of famed entertainment, shopping, expansive opportunity and sprawling beach fronts. The city suffered a huge economic blow as the Steel Industry came to a screeching halt in the United States in the early 1980s, and this change brought about a looming depressed economy throughout the city. I was born later in that decade, into a single parent home as the third of five children. We accepted every form of public and private assistance available. Going to the laundromat on a regular basis was by far a luxury—more often than not, I would wash my school clothes in the in the tub, and when the plumbing rendered the tub unusable, the bathroom sink.  Cable TV was a luxury I did not enjoy until I was on campus at a state college. We shared our great grandmother’s home with the three R’s—rats, roaches and raccoons.

In school, kids did what kids do, and found ways to magnify what I tried so desperately to mask. We were flat out broke.

Then one day in middle school, I read a poster that dramatically changed the course of my life. Hanging on the wall of my class, this poster read:

"30 years from now, it won’t matter what shoes you wore, how you wore your hair, or what jeans you bought. What will matter is what you learned and how you used it."

I understood from that point on, that the value of education could unlock many doors if I applied it well. And so I did. I went on to do well in middle school and high school, and along the way, I developed a keen desire to educate folks with little to no money about making wiser choices. Sure I didn’t have the technical expertise, or the credentials, but I had the desire. It is this desire that guided my professional career and it is what partially fuels the fire of my passion to share my journey. I went to college and declared as a Finance and Accounting major (not knowing what either of those things were at the time of declaration.) I went on to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Technology Management.

Fast forward 10 years. I had a decent-paying job as an Accountant, a nice home, amazing kid, wonderful and loving blood family and church family, but something was absolutely missing, and I could not shake that feeling. Slumped in a chair in the counsel of a trusted man, my minister, I was convicted to make a confession. I admitted that regardless of how successful I appeared, something was still off. I just did not feel passionate about the work I was doing. My minister asked me if I wanted to go back to school to advance in my career. (I previously attempted to sit for the CPA exam—borrowed against my 401k to get the $2,500 course material, and at the time of this writing, the pile of books is still sitting on my office floor.) I answered with an emphatic “no” because the thought of going into more debt was terrifying, and to be quite frank, even though I was capable of performing the role, doing more, or doing more at a higher level would not fill the void in my life. He asked me what I liked to do.  I told him I liked to write, and, as an offhand comment I said, I also like to help people manage their money. He said enchanted words that yet again changed the trajectory of my life: Why don’t you teach “Financial Peace” to our church?

Immediately I straightened up in my seat! Here I was, looking for some purpose and there God goes, casually giving me exactly what I needed, but not exactly how I thought He would. I did not have a clue of what Financial Peace was, so my pastor said, “Do some research on it. It is a program by Dave Ramsey.”

Dave Ramsey. That name was in my not so distant memory. My nephew called me late in the previous year, emphatic about this book called Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Plenty of things in my life had been out of control, but not money. See money was the one thing I did control.  Neither Dave nor anyone else could tell me a thing about my finances. I bought the book and the workbook anyway, and like so many other things I had purchased, I cursorily read through it and then I tossed it next to the pile of CPA course material in my office on the floor.

But now, here is my great spiritual advisor, who I believe is challenging me with the opportunity that would meet the need-that would fill the void. After that meeting I read the book to see if I believed the words that it spoke, since I would now be responsible for teaching them. 

And then I, along with another financial professional, taught the class. And I yielded my way of thinking to try something new. And it is working. I wanted to tell everyone I knew to jump on the Financial Peace bandwagon. But the long and narrow bridge from not thinking any of this would work, to being 100% sold on the idea has not been an easy journey. I think there’s something inherently missing that keeps people on the near end of that long and narrow bridge. It’s what kept me over there until I sought the wise counsel of a few good men. 

I began documenting this journey because I got so tired of reading and hearing everyone else’s already completed success stories. I have listened to countless podcasts and read so many articles about people who had overcome major obstacles along the path to their personal financial peace, their personal and professional successes. Their stories were inspiring, I’ll admit, but I was more so interested in the live callers on Dave’s radio show. Most of their stories remained unfinished, and they were willing to broadcast what decisions lead them to financial crisis. To be specific, I wanted to venture into the ugly parts of their journey, because I have ugly parts in my journey. I wanted them to share their cringe worthy moments because I have cringe worthy moments. I wanted them to be real, and relatable.  I wanted them to be me, but the not the healed me. The right where I am now, all broken, busted and beat up me.

And so maybe there’s another all broken, busted and beat up soul who is curious about emotional and financial peace, but is unable to see the developing stories of people like themselves.  I hope that’s you. I hope that’s why you are here.

There’s so much to learn about the world of financial planning, and I am learning as much as I can so that I can use it in my own life and pass it along to you.

I am a student to the lesson as much as I am instructor—for every great financial choice I’ve made, I’ve made at least two ill-informed decisions I wish I could take back. I want you to learn from my mistakes, I want you to own the information I wish I had grasped when I first became an income earner. I want you to pass along the information that you learn to the people you truly care about. I really want you to make well-informed decisions, even if what you choose stands contrary to what I believe. Above all else, I want you to know your value.

I am striding towards a path of spiritual, financial and emotional renewal, and I’m taking anyone willing to come along for the ride.

I am discovering, through salutary counsel, my own value.  I am quashing the damaging thoughts and behaviors that led me to misplace it. I am learning to cherish the God-given value in others, and I am realizing that much of my healing comes through speaking about my challenges and sharing information with others.  This blog has been an organic by-product of what I have uncovered as a result of such wise counsel.

I am one voice among many, addressing the needs of on-lookers often over-looked.

I believe in you, because I believe the God I serve dwells within you.

I am rooting for you to give Him the reigns to control your paths.

I love you, because I am you.

I am A Watered Garden.

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