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Nobody goes looking for a financial crisis. As a matter of fact, most people who are on the verge of one may see it coming only to bury their heads in the sand, hoping it will pass. Another thing people do is go into a denial mode, thinking they can continue to spend as they used to because that new job, or great deal is around the corner to bail them out. That is the worse thing anyone can do.

I know firsthand the thoughts and fears people face who are going through a financial crisis because I have been there and done that. My husband and I found ourselves $300,000 in debt. We'd sold our business at a loss and reinvested the money into another business that failed. Other factors contributing to this overwhelming debt had to do with bad advice we'd gotten from an accountant, our own poor decisions and a bad economy in the early 1990s.

Our income dropped 70 percent. Although the money went away, the bills didn't. Bill collectors harassed us. In addition, we owed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) money from a partnership, and we were being sued by a bank as a result of a business loan we had.

To make matters worse, I had let our medical insurance lapse to save money, and 30 days later my youngest daughter, Mindy, had to have emergency brain surgery and almost died. I can't begin to tell you the devastation of not knowing if your daughter is going to live or die, coupled with the apprehension of wondering what would happen when it was discovered that we didn't have medical insurance.

God performed two miracles: First, my daughter survived the surgery without any side effects. Then, several months later the hospital notified us that Mindy qualified for a special program for children who had suffered traumatic illnesses; the medical bills were paid.

A week after Mindy's surgery, the IRS took all of our money out of our account. The funds had been borrowed to pay our housing expenses, and I thought I had an arrangement with them, but it appeared I didn't.

I contacted them right away; I was hysterical from the stress. I explained to the agent what we had just gone through, fearing the worse. God stepped in once again. The agent said that they would return all the money except $100 and set us up on a payment program. Another miracle!

For six weeks, one catastrophe after another happened. During the sixth week, I had had enough. God has promised never to allow more on you than He will put within you to handle. I felt I had handled enough and couldn't survive another day. I went to the backyard crying and pacing, carrying my Bible. OK, I wasn't just crying, I was sobbing, screaming and yelling to God: "Where are you? I can't handle this anymore." As I paced and prayed, I stopped and opened my Bible to Isaiah 58:9: "' Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: "Here am I"'" (NIV).

I was frozen. God had answered me through His Word.

From that day forward, it was as though everything changed. I knew we were going to be fine. It was just a matter of time and our getting the right plan in motion. We contemplated filing for bankruptcy, but decided to try and find a way to deal with the problem before taking such a drastic step. It took us many years to climb out of this pit, but we did it without filing for bankruptcy.

Did we pay back $300,000? No, we ended up negotiating with our creditors including the IRS, and we worked out settlements to clear our name.

It still amazes me all these years later how God not only changed my life by showing me a plan, but He also gave me a ministry and business to help people with credit and money issues through education and counseling. Not only that, Mindy works side by side with me in the business helping others as well. Through my misfortune, I have been able to help others focus on their financial problems and situations in order to rebound.

How to Head Off Disaster One way to dismantle an impending financial crisis or begin the recovery process is to create a budget. A budget will give you a clear picture of your financial situation.

Begin by adding up all of your recurring bills. When calculating your expenses, keep in mind that some of your bills may be paid annually such as property taxes. Take the amount that is owed yearly, divide by 12 and add it to your budget.

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