Tuesday, November 22, 2011

...I"m not surprised, just amazed...

In living the balancing act that my life has become, I'm no longer surprised when God provides, but I am always amazed at His timing and the agents He uses.

It's been quite a while since I posted, mainly due to a problem with sitting at the church long enough to compose anything worth reading. Needless to say, since Sept.15, my last post, a number of challenges have presented themselves.

I knew in the summer that having the money to pay my property taxes in early December would be a challenge, since I seemed to never have any money left for savings each month. I also knew that my DMV car registration renewal was also due in early December and that it would be around $160. I got a notice from the county that the value of my house was half what it had been and was hopeful that that might mean a reduction in the taxes due from the $700+, twice a year that it has been. My car registration renewal bill was only $129, which was cause for celebration until I saw that it had to be "smog tested", which cost $50 the last time I had to have it done. Fortunately, I found a coupon online which lowered the smog test to $30, but that didn't solve the other problems.

Coming on the heels of my cousin rescuing me by paying for a new transmission for my car, you might think that I had no worries that God would provide my financial needs. But... whenever God provides, the enemy always shows up to sow fear and doubt for the future... and it really set in when I had a month-long bout of flu-like symptoms, right after getting a flu shot, which my insurance covered...[a nice surprise...] My arthritis has also flared-up and for about a month, I was in a lot of pain.

My cell phone died. I had no choice, if I wanted to keep the only number all my contacts have for me, but to get a new one from Sprint. They set me up with the least expensive "Android"[Samsung Replenish] phone & data plan, assuring me that the $222 bill that would include the phone cost, fees etc. could be "spread out over a couple of months. When I tried to do this after the bill was due, they wouldn't allow any spreading of payments over more than 2 weeks, which helped me, not at all.

I had fashioned a budget from late October, through November & December. I had added up all my income and debts, putting them on a dated ledger page. Before Sprint became nasty, it had barely worked. I didn't have money for groceries, gas or pet supplies, but the property taxes, car reg. renewal and all my utilities were covered.

After I had to pay Sprint $222 all at once, I was screwed.

I knew that God had a plan to provide me with the money I needed, but I often become afraid that I've done something to mess up His plans.For example, on my birthday in late October, the choir gave me a nice card with an unexpected and generous gift of cash. I had used that cash to stock up on non-perishable groceries and dry cat food. Then the Sprint squeeze hit and what I would be "short" was really close to what I had spent. I kept delaying paying the DMV fee[due 12/08/11], hoping for something to happen. It did. I received a message to attend a meeting in Fresno on Dec. with our newly installed Bishop and the current President of DOK for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. I'm the President-elect, starting in April, 2012.I have to go. I need about $35 for gas, that I don't have, not yet anyway...

I also needed, around Dec. 1, to buy more canned cat food, litter & dog food. Probably about $75 which I didn't have either.

Then at church on Sunday, one of our singers who is an animal lover told me that she wanted to "take over" the cost for food & supplies for my kitties and the dog. I told her what I needed and she promised to bring it next Sunday. Another singer who loves animals had brought me some cat/kitten dry food that she'd gotten for a former tenant's cat. When I brought that food inside the house, MJ greeted me at the door, as did Lucyfur & Sneaky Pie.
They meowed & pestered until I poured the kitten crunchies into their empty bowl.
Feasting lasted for quite some time, followed by face & paw washing, purring and napping. I had bought 3 large bags of their fave crunchies and the bowl hadn't been empty long, but kitten crunchies are like cake, candy & ice cream, all rolled into one for kitties...and they loved it as it was such a special treat.

I had received a notice that my health insurance provider[the school district pays the least expensive HMO cost until I'm 65...2 more years...],had changed the costs of the various plans. The PPO which I'd had for the last 2 years,[no extra cost to me...]was still no extra cost, but the Blue Shield HMO[a much better plan for me as it doesn't have the $3500 p/yr deductibles] was now only a $1.15 p/mo cost to me where it had been $300 cost to me p/mo before. So I waited to be notified of the open enrollment period so I could change my plan.

And waited...

Yesterday, I got a notice from the school district, which mentioned the now closed enrollment period. I called them, then CALPers[health insurance provider], waited only an hour for a call-back and discovered that the enrollment period was over. The person I spoke with was very helpful and gave me the fax number for the enrollment unit, so that I could request a change of program due to not being notified of the open enrollment period. I haven't heard back yet. I must say that the school district always notified us and in the past year, have turned over everything to CALPers that has to do with retirees. The info packet I received said NOTHING about the dates for the open enrollment period and when I read through all the pages, for the third time, a mail-in card for plan booklets fell out. There was one line, in smaller print than this, saying,"...remember the open enrollment period is...

I suppose if I was a CALPers member, I might have memorized their open enrollment dates, but I'm a CALStrs member who merely has their health insurance, THROUGH a school district that micro-managed every aspect of retirees' health coverage, changing the open enrollment dates each year. In other words, what we have here is a failure to communicate and it's not CALPers fault.

So after I tried to sell some jewelery,[$50 for a pair of diamond studs they'd sell for $400... they didn't want my watch at all...] I contacted the music store that has my instruments on consignment. They said they owed me for some bells last year and still haven't paid me. And... as I told someone, I didn't want to leave any stone unturned looking for the cash I needed.

I sat down and crunched the numbers again... for the umpteenth time...

Even with the kitty and dog,"angels" taking up that burden and postponing the purchase of gas until December 1, the day of the trip, I was going to be short on my property taxes[$712.46, due Dec.10] and unable to pay my PGE on time[12/15] because my water/garbage/refuse bill of $101.61 was due Dec.7. and the Social Security payday is on Dec.28[late], leaving me with a short fall of over $120. It goes without saying that there will be no turkey either for Thanksgiving or Christmas at my house this year...

Deciding not to allow fear, despair & depression to take over... to continue to believe even when all hope seemed lost, I went online to pay the car registration renewal bill. There was a surprise. The web site had changed, so I had to register, which I did, confirming e-mail address, etc., etc... Then I checked the menu, clicked on the registration renewal listing and found a "notice"...
All registrations due from June through December 31, 2011 would have a 30 day "grace period" from the due date, without penalty... This was due to a law change that affected mailed notices and a rate change.

My due date was 12/08/11... I could wait until 12/28/11 when my SS check came to pay the renewal, without incurring any late fees at all.

I quickly recalculated my budget without the $129 DMV fee until after the 12/28 SS pension check.

Praise the Lord! The total, after this revised payment schedule showed as $1.30 instead of the -$127.70 amount I had been struggling to deal with.

Who would have ever thought that the Lord could use the State of California, much less the DMV, as an agent of His provision?

I can't wait to see how my gas for the trip is provided...

I may not have any turkey this year, but I sure am thankful !!!

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