Our Prayers Are Answered – But Are We Ready to Receive?

Last week we visited “The Lost Sea” in Sweetwater, TN (http://thelostsea.com/).  The tour guide told us some of the history and said it was actually discovered by a boy many years before it was made into a tourist attraction.  The story goes like this:

“The Lost Sea itself was discovered in 1905 by Ben Sands, a thirteen year old boy who wiggled through a small muddy opening 300 feet underground and found himself in a room that contained a huge lake. He threw mudballs far into the darkness to try to determine its size, but only heard splashes in response.” (https://whitestoneinn.com/things-didnt-know-lost-sea-sweetwater-tn/)

What is interesting to me, is that the town was in the middle of a drought when the boy discovered the water.  The guide said that nobody, not even his family, believed the boy at the time.  This underground water wasn’t discovered again until many years later.  I thought, “Wow.  The people were in a drought and didn’t even know that a massive amount of clean water was there at their fingertips!” That reminded me of the importance to not only pray for answers, but to be in tune enough to receive those answers.  I am sure the people in the town were praying for water.  Unfortunately, they were probably expecting the water to come from the only place they could mentally conceive it to come from– rain.  God has a way of showing up in ways that we can’t even imagine.  Our only responsibility is to have faith (believe) enough to receive our answers.

Matthew 7:7-8 

7 Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  

Our answers may not come in the form we expect.  The answers may even take some time to show up.  Don’t lose faith.  It’s important that we don’t try to “rush” the answers either.  We just get in the way of the perfect answer.  God is working on your requests.  Stay in tune with His Spirit, and you will know when to listen, even if you have to go into a small muddy opening to find it.

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Journey of a Second Chance – Becoming More Of Who “I Am”- (Final Chapter)

Moving away from my hometown (for over 40 years) was like leaving behind my old self.  Everything I was familiar with was no longer in view.  The businesses we spent years building were still in existence, but it was like hitting the “reset” button on a computer.  They needed rebuilding. It was strange not knowing how to get anywhere or knowing where anything was.  We had to adjust to simple things like driving to the grocery store or finding the entrance to my daughters’ new school.  Although it was uncomfortable, losing the familiarity of circumstances helped me to reconnect to who I really am.

When we are asked the question, “Who are you?”  One might answer, “I am an entrepreneur, nurse, doctor, contractor, banker, hair stylist, grocery clerk, secretary; or even a mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, etc.”  We tend to identify with what we “do” and with our circumstances, rather than with who we really are as children of God.  It is liberating when we learn who we are past our flesh, and learn more about who we are in Spirit.

For about a year before moving to a new town, I had been hiding from people by only doing what I needed to do, then returning home to “safety.” I felt that if I didn’t talk to many people, or talk very much, I decreased the odds of saying anything that could offend anyone.   That way I wouldn’t disappoint anyone, and what I said couldn’t be used against me.  When I moved into our new place I didn’t know anyone other than my family, and to be honest, I liked it that way.  I wanted to help people, but my intention was not to let anyone (outside of my immediate family) get too close to me. “But God” had other plans.

I was healing, but I was walking by faith.  My trust in God had increased dramatically, because I KNEW that there was absolutely no way we could have done what we just did on our own.  People, circumstances, and opportunities had to be aligned by a higher power for everything to unfold the way it did and to end up where we landed.  We searched to purchase another business, one that could easily be operated by other people.  That search led to a lot of dead ends.  We kept being led back to the heating and air conditioning business.

We had a great business relationship with several commercial accounts in Memphis, and a few of those accounts happened to also be located in our new area. We started doing heating and air conditioning for those accounts.  It didn’t take long before Kevin suggested we go to a business network meeting to grow our business.  I wasn’t comfortable with that idea at first, because that meant two things:  1) I had to talk to people and 2) I was going to stay in the heating and air conditioning business.  I knew that Kevin was inspired to do this, and I’m thankful that I was willing to push a little further past my comfort zone.  Joining that group proved to be a blessing in many ways.  We were introduced to new friends and several new customers, including a large warranty company.  We grew our heating and air conditioning business and absolutely loved it. We still love it.  When we do things with God for the right reasons, it’s amazing how much better things are put together. We don’t say we are in the heating and air conditioning business anymore.  We say we are in the “people” business.  Heating and air problems is just what happens to connect us to the people.

At one of the business network meetings, a sweet gal with a bubbly personality walked up to us and introduced herself.  She was a breath of fresh air to talk to, and she was full of life.  She told us that her husband was thinking of doing his own heating and air conditioning business, and if he had decided to do that, we would not have been able to join that particular group.  She said that God had other plans.  An instant connection was made between us.  We went to dinner with them, and later discovered that we both had been praying for good friends.  This was definitely the beginning of an awesome friendship.

Looking back on all of this, I realize what I’ve been learning is absolutely true.  First, it is critical that we allow ourselves to be a little uncomfortable to be able to grow.  It’s not about being uncomfortable for the sake of being uncomfortable.  It’s about being uncomfortable for the sake of growth.  Second, we should listen to our intuition to guide us through life.  When we follow inspired action (like joining the business network group), things begin to unfold in small ways at first, but they increase to bigger things.  When it’s “inspired” many good things come from it.  Through this experience I was able to connect to people again, and I found out they weren’t as scary or bad as I led myself to believe that previous year.  I also learned that when I allowed myself to be a little vulnerable with people and made connections, I felt more joy.  We weren’t meant to be alone.  We are meant to build each other up and learn from one another.  Finally, when we go after serving and helping others (rather than going after success or money), we are setting ourselves up for success in larger, more peaceful ways.  True success is gained by loving our neighbors.

I’m truly grateful for this Journey of a 2nd Chance.  The journey continues, but this is where I stop for now.  Life is a journey full of ups and downs.  If you are down now, don’t worry, there is a Gate of New Beginnings waiting to be entered.  Just believe that it will get better. Feel gratitude for what you have now, where you are now, and pray (ask) for what you’d love.

There is a process to getting what we want and being who we really want to be in life.   This is what I’m learning now, and I will share that with you when I am inspired to do so. You can begin learning these things with me, simply by asking and seeking.  May your journey lead you in the direction you would love to go.

(Please go back to the first part of “Journey Of a Second Chance – Gate of New Beginnings” for the rest of the journey. Thank you for reading and supporting this blog.)

Journey of a Second Chance- Gate of New Beginnings- Answered Prayers-(Part 13)

We returned home and there was an invisible protective force that continued to guide us. Within a couple of months we sold several rental properties and even sold the assets of our business. Our personal home sold shortly after we moved. Within three months of discovering Maryville, TN, we were living in our new home in this wonderful new place.

It was as if all of the things I admired, acknowledged and desired was all here in this community. Every single thing. One of the things I loved about Arlington was driving down Highway 70 in the fall.  I admired the beautiful trees and vibrant colors.  Here, there are countless trees and the beauty is breathtaking.  I love my Jeep, and we now live in “Jeep Country.” One of my biggest desires was to find a way to help others and give back.  I even tried to start a non-profit business called “A Little Good News.”  That idea didn’t get far off the ground, because we didn’t have enough time or enough funds to really make it go.  We were led to a church (that happened to be close to our home), which provides an amazing platform for giving back in the community.   (Serving others is a great place to lose yourself and to heal.)  God is so great and omnipotent.  When He puts it together, it is amazing and incredible!

We could not have accomplished this on our own.  No matter what anyone chooses to believe, I know it was an answered prayer.  Just like the painting over my bed (Footprints in the Sand), God carried me.  I am truly blessed and incredibly thankful.  Sometimes we all go through things we don’t want to go through.  Just remember we are not alone.  Trust God.  Trust that He knows what we are going through.  Trust that “this too shall pass,” and allow the process to strengthen you and draw you nearer to Him.  He will never fail you or forsake you.

The Footprints In the Sand

One night I had a dream…

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Supernatural Alignment(Part 12)

I don’t understand it fully to this day, but as soon as I discovered the town of Maryville, things began to happen.  It was like a supernatural (Godly) power took over our lives.  We didn’t know a soul there.  We didn’t have a job lined up either.  All we knew was that it was near Knoxville and that there were “people” there.  We made plans to go the next weekend to look for a house.  Kevin was out working and I was at home sitting on the couch thinking.  I had an inspired thought to call my realtor in Memphis to ask him if he knew of a realtor in Maryville. He said he would ask around and get back with me.  He asked a guy, who asked a guy, who gave us the name of a realtor in the area. We called her and she informed us that she regretted she had plans that weekend, but assured us that we would be in good hands with her co-worker.  I was walking in total faith and trust at this time, and I agreed to work with him.  He called us and said he was going to be at Vienna Coffee Shop for a meeting on the morning we were to arrive.  He invited us to meet him there.  We arrived at that meeting and were introduced to someone who turned out to be instrumental in our ability to move to Maryville.

All weekend the realtor took us around to several homes that he pulled from his MLS search. On the last day, Kevin and I were supposed to meet him at one of the final few selected houses.  As we drove through the neighborhood, I told Kevin, “This is it!”  I didn’t know what the house looked like, but the neighborhood felt perfect!  As we drove up to the house, we were disappointed.  It was not the house we wanted.  While we were waiting on our agent (we were early), we drove around the neighborhood.  I just knew it was the right area.  We found a house we really liked that was for sale by owner.  The homeowners were home, and they let us in to see it.  We could have called our agent and told him that our search was over, but decided not to do that because he’d worked so hard for us that weekend.  We only had a couple of more houses to look at anyway, and I wanted to finish that process with him. We met and told him the house he was showing us wasn’t the right house for us.  We told him we loved the neighborhood and had found a house that we really liked, but it was for sale by owner.  An idea appeared to instantly pop in his head.  He said, “Hang on just a second.”  He made a phone call to his realty company, and asked them about a house he thought they had in that area.  When he hung up with them, he asked if we wanted to look at one more house. We pulled into the driveway, and I had an instant connection to the home.  It was recently built by his realty company.  I didn’t say much, but I was very excited.  Kevin and I didn’t even walk into the home.  We walked into the backyard and sat on the hill for a few minutes.  Our agent walked through the house, then he walked back to us and said, “Can you deal with this backyard?” (The yard needed some work, but it had a beautiful mountain view.) We said, “Absolutely!”   He said, “Then this is YOUR house!”  We walked through the house, and he was right.  This was definitely our home!

Being referred to this realtor was instrumental in finding the perfect home in the perfect location.  Later, we discovered that this house did not show up on the MLS search (coincidence?).  If it had been on the MLS search it might’ve been sold before we had a chance to find it.  This realtor (who was referred to us) was also instrumental in our being introduced to someone (at Vienna Coffee Shop) who referred us to a banker that was willing to give us a chance and offer us financing on a home.  You can’t tell me any of that was coincidental.  It was all falling into place so perfectly.  There was definitely a higher power with us throughout this entire process.

It was all happening so fast.  On our way home we realized what a huge move this was.  We looked at each other and said, “What are we doing?” “Is this the right decision?”  We didn’t say much.  We were mostly just taking it all in.  To break the silence I pulled out the book, “Break Out” by Joel Osteen.  I read aloud to Kevin while he was driving.  I don’t remember what chapter it was, or what it said exactly, but what it said blew our minds.  It was as if God was speaking directly to us, saying walk in faith and move forward.  We laughed at how reassuring it was.  After reading for a while (it was a 6 hour drive), I turned the radio on.  The song, “Home” by Phillip Phillips came on (https://youtu.be/HoRkntoHkIE).  We listened to the words of that song and huge smiles ran across both our faces.  We said, “Okay, okay.  We got it!  We are taking the leap. Maryville, here we come!”

Words to the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
‘Cause I’m going to make this place your home  

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Healing & Strength (Part 11) day

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I prayed a lot.  Answers came from many places. I started listening to songs like, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten (https://youtu.be/xo1VInw-SKc ) and “You Haven’t Heard the Last From Me” by Cher (https://youtu.be/LD7UtPtyuV8). I stumbled upon a book called, “BreakOut” by Joel Osteen (https://youtu.be/tehjQ4lE8GY).  It may sound silly, but that music and that book were tools that helped change my negative, destructive thoughts into positive, creative thoughts. We never know when an encouraging word is needed by someone.  I will always be grateful to a girl I went to high school with.  We casually commented on Facebook one day about our Jeeps.  We ended up talking on the phone, and I poured my heart out to her.  She said some comforting things, and she started calling me, Sis.  Her friendship was exactly what I needed.  Thank you, Tammy.

It took about a year to get over the hurt.  I not only survived, I learned A LOT.  I learned who I really am.  I learned that I’m not just this physical body.  I learned we are spiritual beings have a human experience.  Our Spirit is strong and is what gets us through our most difficult challenges and what connects us to God.  I learned that even when we feel alone, we are not alone.

I’ll never forget New Year’s Eve.  We were at the bowling alley with our children in Bartlett, TN.  When the clock counted down, and the New Year (2014) rang in, it was like a million tons lifted from my shoulders.  I have never been so happy to see an old year (2013) go into the past!  I knew that 2014 was going to be a year of grace and healing.  I knew it was going to be an incredible Gate of New Beginnings, and it was!

Kevin and I decided to start looking again for a place to move.  We found a business online that was for sale in Roan Mountain, TN.  As soon as we saw it online, we had a very strong pull to go look at it.  We drove there the next morning.  It was about a 16 hour round trip, I think.  That didn’t stop us.  Because of the pull, we seriously considered buying this store and small mini-storage.  We told the seller that we would look at the numbers, and get back with him.  The numbers weren’t strong at all, but we wanted to go look at it again.  We drove back to Roan Mountain and thought we would go ahead and sign the contract and would somehow make it work.  (After all, neither of us were afraid of working hard.)  We stayed in a hotel near there, and were set to sign the contract the next morning.  I got a phone call that my grandmother passed away.  I didn’t want to rush it, so we postponed the meeting to sign the contract and returned home to be with family.  When we ran the numbers again, reality set in.  We knew that we would work ourselves to death (and still go broke) if we bought this business.  We were disappointed, but we knew this was not our answer.  I went to my dad, as I usually do when I need wisdom.  I told him how discouraged we were.  I told him that we had been looking to move for three years, and we just couldn’t find where we needed to be.  He said, “You need to stay where the people are.”  He told me that in order to operate a business or make money, we needed to be in a populated area.  Memphis has LOTS of people.  It was easy to operate a business there.  I thought, “I guess we are staying in Memphis.”  I reluctantly decided that must be where we need to be, and I let it go.

The very next morning I woke up and sat straight up and thought, “There’s PEOPLE in Knoxville!”  I knew this, because we drove through Knoxville FOUR times while driving back and forth to Roan Mountain.  I started researching the surrounding areas of Knoxville.  I found one particular area that got my full attention.  I called Kevin.  I asked him, “Have you ever heard of a town called, MARYville?”  That’s when the magic began to happen.  This next Gate PULLED us.  It was incredible what happened over the next three months…

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Rejection & Failure (part 10)p

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So, yeah, Kevin started out 2013 in the hospital.  After the doctor scared us into thinking they were going to have to remove his spleen, they ended up finding a bunch of ulcers in his colon and stomach.  Once they figured it out, he began the physical healing process.  They say disease is DIS-ease.  At least for this, I’d have to agree, because we both still had emotional healing to do.    Both of us were extremely unsettled.    Kevin is always trying to please me, which I love about him, but not when it is at the cost of his own happiness.  I was desperately trying to get away from the stress of the heating and air business, but he didn’t want to give it up.  Thinking I knew what was best for both of us (my first mistake), I convinced him to let other people operate our business, so we could focus on real estate investing.  Let’s just say it didn’t turn out the way I had planned, and things began to implode.  Ultimately, feelings were significantly hurt.  I didn’t know what I know now, and I promise you,  I was all about my feelings.  Close relationships were damaged and some of us stopped speaking.  I felt like a failure in every since of the word “failure” and I fell into a deep depression.  I allowed those feelings to completely take over me, to the point I didn’t think I wanted to live anymore.  I had a lot of learning and growing to do.  It was painful.  I couldn’t stand being a victim, because I understood to some degree that it was only 10% what happens, and 90% how we react.  It still hurt.  It hurt bad.  Fortunately, I held onto a very small piece of hope that things would get better.  I had the Thomas Kinkade painting called Footprints in the Sand, hanging over my bed.  I prayed that God would carry me.

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Success (Part 9)

Robert Kiyosaki and meMoving to Arlington, TN was an important “gate” of new beginnings.  I felt like the Jeffersons theme song (from the old TV Sitcom), “…and we’re moving on up…!”  This home was so perfect for our family.  Over the years we really made it “ours”.  We built a shed right away, and eventually installed a swimming pool.  We had a very special deck around the pool.  It was special because my dad came over several days to build it, especially for me.  When we sat on the deck, we overlooked the fence to see the lake behind our home.  We had a fish pond with our Koi and Goldfish in it.  It was peaceful sitting by the pond being mesmerized by the sound of the waterfall and beauty of the fish.  It had an open floor plan, huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, vaulted ceilings, plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms, a dining room and a hearth room.  We felt so blessed to live there in that house in such a wonderful community.  Even though it was perfect and we were thankful, it was still just “stuff”.  That’s not why it was an important gate of new beginnings.  What we learned and who we became was the important part.

While out running errands, my son, Chris, called my cell phone.  The year was sometime between 2005 and 2006.  He asked us to get him a book for a book report that was due.  He said he needed it right then.  There was no time to wait.  I remember that I didn’t want to stop anywhere else, but I am thankful that I cared enough to do it for my son.  I walked into Barnes and Noble and there was a table full of books in the center area. Among them was a purple book that caught my eye.  It was a book that literally changed my life called, “Rich Dad Poor Dad”.  You may think it sounds ridiculous that one book could have that much influence, but I’m telling you, it changed my life.  It opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking.  It expanded my mind, and it rang true to my spirit.  I realized that I had a limited way of thinking that was contractive and not expansive.  This book gave me an expansive way of thinking.  I was excited to know more.  I purchased many more books written by the author, Robert Kiyosaki.  I purchased his game CashFlow and we played it every chance we got.  I bought DVD’s and watched them over and over again while cooking or cleaning the house.  I continuously listened to CD’s while driving.  I totally engrossed myself in this new found knowledge.  I knew I had to do that to really change my limited way of thinking.  Over the next couple of years, I attended his seminars, and went through all of his real estate training classes.  We opened a real estate investing business, Keli Investments, LLC,  in 2008.  “Ke” is for Kevin and “Li” is for Lisa (Keli).  One of the most valuable things we learned was to put our attention on what we truly desire.  We learned to set goals and to take action when prompted.  This new knowledge gave us the steering wheel to our lives.  We were still learning, and new to this idea that we had some control over our lives, but it was empowering and it felt good.  We began reading other books on success and self-improvement.  We set goals that couldn’t have been reached without this new knowledge.  We learned that we could reach any goal we desired if we simply asked and followed prompted action.  We actually thrived through the crash in 2008/2009.  We learned that the circumstances around us did not have influence over our lives, unless we resisted it or focused on what we did not want.  We learned to focus on what we wanted, and at that time it was mostly financial success.   That’s what we did.

We had a lot of financial success, however, through all the growth, we got lost.  By 2011-2012 I was burned out.  I had wanted a Jeep for 7 years.  On my birthday in 2011, Kevin bought that Jeep for me.  It was a pivotal moment. Although I loved my Jeep (and still do), somehow that goal smacked me right in the face.  I got a little depressed and thought, “Is this all there is?”  I thought, “I never cared about material things, so why am I working so hard to acquire stuff?”  “Is this what life is all about?”  I was just tired.  I felt like the little girl in “The Grinch” when she said it was all so “superfluous”.  I wanted to get completely out of the heating and air business, so I turned it over to other people.  That was when, I believe, I was being “pushed” by God, to do something different.  I started looking to move out of Memphis in 2011.  I didn’t know where I wanted to move.  I just knew I had the desire to move.  I looked around the surrounding areas of Memphis, and I looked in Pickwick and those surrounding areas (since my parents live in Pickwick).  I looked in Arkansas.  Nothing worked out.  We tried putting contracts on homes, and never had so much trouble making a deal.  We even offered MORE money than they were asking on a couple of them.  It was as if God was saying, “No, not there.”  On New Years Day, January, 2013, Kevin was put in the hospital.  He was severely dehydrated and had lost a lot of blood.  It was a scary time.  From there things only got worse.  This was not a gate we wanted to go through, but it was a gate we had to go through.  That year (2013) was actually the inspiration of this blog.  I’ll write about that next Gate of New Beginnings in the next blog.  I need to take a deep breath before I write that one.

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Part 8

We became close friends with Heather and Jason, the couple we met at church. Their daughter became like one of our own. Our kids became their kids too. Heather came over most days while our husbands were out working. I answered the calls for our heating and air-conditioning business while all the kids were screaming in the background. I’d be flapping my arm trying to shush them and giving them “the look,” but most of the time I either had to step outside or run upstairs to our home office. Heather would laugh at me, but she helped me out a lot! She helped me keep the kids occupied and helped me clean or paint or shop or whatever we decided to get into on any given day. We all went to church together and on Sundays we cooked out on the grill. Kevin couldn’t grill at first. He made hamburgers one night for some other friends, and one of them broke a tooth! When I say he couldn’t grill, I mean he couldn’t grill! Jason, on the other hand, is the best cook I’ve ever known! His food melts in your mouth. Kevin started taking grilling lessons from Jason on Sundays. I must say that he became the second best cook (on the grill) I’ve ever known. He hasn’t broken any more teeth at least! No. Really. His grilling also melts in your mouth now.

The kids were together all the time. If they didn’t play at my house, they played at theirs. It was nice to have friends with the same values and the same ideas on how to have a good time. One 4th of July, Kevin and Jason decided it would be cool to put fireworks in a watermelon and watch it explode! They thought it was so cool that they made it a tradition for several years.

We decided we wanted to move. The only reason I didn’t want to move was because they lived one street over from us. We were never content with that house. It was meant to be a temporary place to live until we had enough money to move where we wanted. We drove around within a 30 mile radius looking for the right place to live. There was one particular area where we searched the most, Arlington, TN. We just couldn’t find a house in our price range. We just about gave up looking. One night Heather called me and said she had signed up to take a lady at our church some dinner. The lady had just had a baby. She asked if I would go with her. I wasn’t really feeling up to it, but I did want to support Heather. We stopped by Bahama Breeze to get the dinner, and we drove to the lady’s house in Arlington. When we arrived at her house I fell in love with the neighborhood. I hadn’t seen that neighborhood before. Somehow we had missed it in our search. While visiting, I asked her the price range of the neighborhood. It was in our price range!! I couldn’t believe it! I am telling you, if you want an expedited answered prayer, serve others! So many times my answers have come while serving! I drove Kevin back through the neighborhood the following day. We found a house that we just had to have, but it was already sold. We spoke to the builder and he showed us the available lots where we could have that same house built. It was an even better spot on the lake! It was perfect!! We went back home and put our house on the market. Funny thing is we had it up for sale a couple of months before, but it hadn’t sold, so we took it off the market. When we put it on the market this time, I got a call that someone wanted to see the house right away. I told them that I was throwing a baby shower (for Heather) but they could come in before the guests arrived. I had chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and the house was decorated with baby things, streamers and balloons. The buyer fell in love with the house (it had to be the chocolate chip cookies). It would be months before our new home would be built when we sold the house.

We found a rental house to live in for a few months, then we moved to our new home in Arlington, TN. We entered another gate of new beginnings…

Journey of a Second Chance- Gates of New Beginnings – Entrepreneurship (Part 7)

Rougeau Inc

My Economics teacher in high school gave us an assignment to write about whatever career we wanted to have when we graduated. I wrote a paper about wanting to be an entrepreneur, and she wanted me to elaborate on what kind of business I wanted to own. I was thinking any kind of business, but I wrote about a clothing store. I knew I wasn’t interested in clothing that much, but I didn’t know what else to write about. We simply don’t know what we don’t know. All I knew was that I had the desire to own my own business. That teacher told me that she wouldn’t be interested in ever owning her own business. I asked her why. She answered, “Because of all the red tape.” I didn’t understand that, but I did find out what she meant.

Turns out there was no way I could’ve figured out that one day I would own a heating and air conditioning business. Since we could no longer count on the paychecks from his job, we decided to go out on our own. My dad always taught me that all you need is ONE good account to own your own business. Flash Market (stores/gas stations) was our first good account. Kevin already had his Mechanical Contractor’s License in Tennessee. I made some phone calls, filled out some paperwork, paid the fees (red tape), and Arkansas grandfathered in his Tennessee license for our Arkansas Contractor’s License. He kept all the refrigeration, ice machines, heating and air conditioning equipment going in several Flash Market stores in Arkansas and a few in Tennessee. He worked all the time, but at least he was home every night. I became his salesman and landed a few more good accounts in Memphis. We didn’t want to have all our eggs in one basket. We had all the work we wanted, and probably a little more.

They say that 9 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 5 years, and 96% fail within 10 years. I call them “Negative Nancys,” even though they are telling the truth. I got to thinking about it, and we had already quit a few of our own businesses: babysitting, selling Tupperware, teaching piano lessons, mowing and landscaping, custom planting, and cleaning houses. I also started a “mail-out” business when I got my first computer. I offered doing mail-outs for car salesmen, but that one never got off the ground. I made samples and even had an official looking briefcase! After all the hard work and planning, I was ready to go talk to some salesmen and get my own customers! I found out they already did automatic mail-outs at the car dealerships for pennies on the dollar. I couldn’t compete. That was another business that failed!

I learned that failing wasn’t so bad, so I didn’t see any reason not to try again. Robert Kiyosaki says, “If 9 out of 10 businesses fail, start 10 businesses!” I agree with him. Kevin was working at one of the Flash Markets and started talking to a guy that was dressed in hunting gear. They hit it off, and that guy hired our company to do restoration work. This was not a coincidence, but another “God Incidence”. Soon after we began working for them, a huge storm hit Memphis. They called it “Hurricane Elvis.” There were straight-line winds greater than 100 miles per hour. It was horrific. People were killed and damage was everywhere! That storm created massive amounts of work for restoration companies. We made a lot of money that year and decided to incorporate our business in 2003. We hired a guy to help Kevin, and they made a great team. I called them the “Dynamic Duo!”

Our marriage at this time was strengthened. We worked in-sync with one another. He worked hard and brought in the money, while I kept us legal with business licenses, sales tax permits, insurances, etc. I did the accounts payables and receivables and kept records for our CPA and income taxes. I learned the basics of Quickbooks to help me keep up with all of it. And, of course, I sent our awesome customers mail outs saying thank you and Merry Christmas, etc. I was living my dream of owning my own business! Life was good!

One day we were at church and Kevin was talking to a couple in the hallway. He was much more sociable than I was. I usually tried to duck and hide and make a straight line out the door after church services were over. Kevin, on the other hand, was the opposite. He was going to talk to as many people as possible on the way out. (He’s helped me become a little better at socializing over the years.). I walked up, probably to pull him away from this couple, but Kevin introduced us and I instantly liked both of them. Kevin offered to watch their little girl while the dad had jury duty. I didn’t mind. I liked having other children over to play with my children. This little girl was two years old and my little ones were one and two years old at the time. They became our very best friends. This new friendship was our next Gate of New Beginnings…