Sunday, December 20, 2015

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings 2015

Pondering the Miracle of Christmas

I want to start this post by wishing all of you a very blessed Advent, a very Merry Christmas and the best of Happy New Years for 2016.

I sit here trying to write this blog post as my body is trying to pass two kidney stones.  I have now learned my lesson that even if I skip eating because the store is so busy with customers that I still need to make sure I drink water.  People are not being overly dramatic when they say that the pain from a kidney stone is equal to childbirth.  Thank you God for the different chemists who created all the different pain, nausea and relaxation drugs that I have taken over the past two days both orally and via iv at the hospital.  I am so thankful for my staff who covered the store on one of the busiest Saturdays of the year when I was unable to come into work.  One of my best friends dropped everything and spent the last twenty-four hours taking care of me while Debbie helped take care of the littles.  Another single mom sent one of her teenagers to check on me after I had posted a desperate plea trying to find someone to take me to the ER so that I could avoid paying for an ambulance ride.  These are all blessings that I can never repay enough.  A nurse lecturing me to "go home and stop worrying about the store.  It will still be there after you pass these stones.  I love your store."......all blessings I can never repay.  The first kidney stone has passed, but not the second yet.  Pray that it passes in the next day or two so that I can celebrate Christmas with my children and extended family.  I would like to go home for Christmas and not end up stuck in an ER trying to pass a kidney stone.

The next part of this post is what I don't know how to express accurately.  Every time I think we have a financial plan in place to get everything paid off at the store and personally....every time I think that we have emotionally processed everything we need to process I find out I am wrong.  I have been in charge of all our personal bills since March 2014.  I took over the store and the duplex in May 2015, and yet I still just got "found" by creditors this month about unpaid bills (personal and store ones) that I had never received any bills for in the mail.  When I came back to one creditor and asked him what address they had been mailing the bills to he refused to tell me since he had been"working with Jason, not you."  Yet, now of course the unpaid bills have been forwarded for me to pay since I agreed to take on all debt with the now I am facing having to file for bankruptcy.....and it is a matter of figuring out which type we are filing for.  I am hoping that we can do a Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 so that we can restructure and save the store.

Several people have asked me, "Why?"  "Why keep the store open?  Why do this to yourself?"

To answer that is a very complicated answer that I can't accurately express to anyone.  I am the reason why there is a UPS Store in Steubenville in the first place.  It was the first franchise that I desperately missed after moving here from Pensacola.  It drove me crazy to have to buy a box at Wal-Mart or the post office and then go out to the parking lot to pack it.  My copies were not usually completed correctly at my one competitor's store.  I love my customers and I believe that the feeling is reciprocated.  I lost track of how many customers told us what a blessing we were to them this many times I almost cried because they don't know how close we are to having to shut down the store.  I just told them with a smile to come back and see us in February.

My counselor and several friends keep reminding me that there is no shame in filing for bankruptcy or deciding that it is time to put the "For Sale" sign up on the store or even to just close the store up and call it quits.  They remind me that this is not something I did myself, but rather something that was done to me.  That it is just one more way I have been victimized and deceived.  All these things just make me want to fight for it even more.  I have worked so hard and paid off so much debt already.  I put all my employees ahead of myself when it comes to paychecks and taking lunch breaks.  I try to treat my employees the way the Marines work with the whole "officers eat last" mentality.

I love my store.  While I never thought that owning a UPS Store is what I would "grow up and do" for my career, it is a job that I love.  I don't mind getting up each day and going to work.  While some people might see the job as "Different day, same old thing" mentality, I don't.  Every package we ship has a different story attached to it.  Every print job and notary service has its own story.  From shipping a frozen casserole to a niece dying from cancer who requested it as her last meal to people missing their hometown Giannamore's Pizza or Snyder potato chips to a "just because I saw it and thought of you present".....all small things that I get to help be a part of.  Helping people complete the business of their daily life, both at work and personally-all small things that I get to be a part of.  The founder of UPS once said that "the heart of the foundation of UPS is service".....I love to serve others and to be a part of a company that prides itself on giving world class customer service to every person.

I have learned how to complete freight shipments and we have learned how to print blue prints and wide format banners.  Every week I learn more and more about graphic design work, business cards, etc, etc.  Both my employees and myself have stepped up to the plate and haven't turned down a single job.  We have figured out how to get it done so we can stay in business.  We ended the last two weeks of August in the Top 10% of freight services in the country.  We won awards in October and November for being in the top 10% of other services in the network.  Honestly, our store is just starting to hit its stride.  People in Steubenville are still discovering that our tiny store is here and that we offer professional print and business services.  We haven't even reached the potential of what our store can do.  If I can just climb out of this hole my ex created-if I can be given a fighting chance,  know that we will not only stay open, but we will be a model store that others will look to and use as an example.  If anyone is interested in giving a business loan or becoming a partner in our store, please contact me directly.

So, I come here to ask for help......if you can help donate to help me get through the next three to four months.....til we can get through refinancing or filing for bankruptcy (if that is what the accountants and lawyers help me decide is the right plan of action)....if you can help me pay off the heat remodeling job and other past due personal bills since I have still not been paid back by the Ohio Attorney General's office for the thousands of dollars I am suppose to be reimbursed for from counseling that has been received as part of the Ohio Victim's Assistance fund......words cannot express how thankful we would be.  It you can't, I understand.....Please just continue to pray for more miracles because God has given us a miracle every day since May 1st.  Most of all just pray that I will have peace about whatever decision I have to make.  All of these decisions are painful, but something can hurt and you still have the peace from God that this is the right decision for you and your family.  Pray that my pride won't blind me from seeing the path before me as I stand amongst the trees.  Donate here if you can.  If you don't want to use the GoFundMe, then please mail donations to the address at the bottom of this blog post.  If you are new here and don't know what happened, the please read blog posts from May 2015 to the present date.

Earlier this week as I found out about yet more unpaid bills and was trying to figure out how on earth my ex was able to hide all these things from he was able to come home each night at regular times and be there for every event and yet have some alternate life that I knew nothing about, "like what address was all these bills going to?", I wrote the following to one of my best friends:

"I feel like I am drowning. The only time I felt worse was when my kids were gone for those 4 days....I feel as if I am lost at sea and can see the shore but keep getting swept in a rip tide that I can't escape. I keep swimming, but every time I come up to breathe I get hit by a wave and swept back down. The only reason why I am getting up each day is for my kids and because I keep reminding myself that this dark night shall pass just like the darkness did when Chris died.....but this trial is far worse.....far far worse. I always believed that with God I could do anything, but now I don't....why must I be stripped bare when I already had nothing left. I thought I had been through my Calvary before, but now I realize that worse than Calvary is the scourging at the soul is being torn to shreds and just when it begins to heal then it is ripped open again and this time the nails and piercings go deeper. The scourging is far worse because then each day after my soul has been ripped open again I have to carry the cross. This scourging is "my dark night of the soul." The choice to follow Christ, to not give in to immoral ways to make money, to choose honor and integrity and love.....the pain that it takes to become a Saint takes my breath away. As a type A planner I have always had a plan, but now I truly don't know what my day will what way will I be scourged? So I just try to choose moment by moment what action or choice will lead me to as I am drowning in pain I see God's light through the darkness, the light of heaven and I keep reaching towards it even as my breath fails me."

I thank you for continued prayers for a miracle for myself, my children and our business.  If I don't get another blog post made in the next month, please pray that my ex is offered a plea deal and that we can avoid a trial.  Otherwise his trial is suppose to be the week of January 19th.

Thank you for being like the people in "It's a Wonderful Life" who bring the money to George Bailey-that has been all of you to me and the kids since May 1st.....thank you for reminding me that I am loved by God and by so many unknown people who have left anonymous notes and money......that makes me like the General from "White Christmas" whose troops surprise him and where I try to fall asleep "Counting My Blessings"......

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from our home to yours!!!

May you feel the sweetness of God's peace with you as you begin the New Year,


Donations can be mailed directly to:

Stephanie LS Rivers
The UPS Store
117 S. Hollywood Blvd Box 114
Steubenville, OH 43952