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Prayer, patience never waver as troubles mount

Laura Poirier, 39, meditates on the back porch of her 2,800-square-foot home in Clearwater. A divorce and a failed business have depleted her savings. The home is facing foreclosure, and her car is close to being repossessed. She copes by praying and taking time to meditate with candles at least once a day to keep her spirit strong.

Laura Poirier, 39, meditates on the back porch of her 2,800-square-foot home in Clearwater. A divorce and a failed business have depleted her savings. The home is facing foreclosure, and her car is close to being repossessed. She copes by praying and taking time to meditate with candles at least once a day to keep her spirit strong.

Laura Poirier, 39, doesn't pester God. In times of trouble she prays once, maybe twice, for God to fix things. Then she prays for inner strength. "In faith there has to be a level of trust, which I have. When I don't feel like I have a prayer answered, I know its not time. I need to go through a little more," she explains.

Poirier prays often. Quick prayers as she goes about her day; running late in traffic, folding laundry or before checking the mailbox for overdue bills. And every day there is a long prayer, stretched through a timeless, dark, candle-lit meditation, sealed off from everything else in the world.

She prayed for her marriage, before her divorce, and for the success of her Dunedin coffeehouse, before it took her savings and went out of business. Now she prays that the bank will restructure her mortgage, that her creditors will negotiate and that she'll find a buyer for her 2,800-square-foot Clearwater home before the foreclosure goes through. She asks to sell a few more pieces of her home's furnishings to get her through the month, and that when the needle sits on E in her car, God will help it make a round trip to pick up her kids at school.

On days when she is strong, her faith doesn't waver. "If God puts you on a path and doesn't change it, there's a gift at the end. Sometimes you just don't see it until much later," she says.

She accepts that she made a mistake by putting all her savings into the coffeehouse. When the business failed, her financial world came crumbling down. "I've gone from immaculate credit nine months ago to well under 500 and dropping. It's just a night-and-day change in our way of living in a short period of time."

She prays for divine intervention sparingly, when she is at the end of her rope.

"By losing everything, you realize what touches you most, what your passion is and what you want for your life. Material things become less and less important. I have to let those things go because they don't matter as much anymore."

For the pressures that won't go away, meditation is the only way she knows to cope. She dedicates as much time as she needs to calm her mind and rekindle her spirit. It can be a long struggle.

"I feel like this is a pruning, like I'm being stripped of a lot of things. I'm grateful for the lessons, as hard as they may be. But some days are harder than others. Some days things are just toppling one after the next and I need to meditate even more, to rejuvenate and stay positive. I need to be. It just isn't an option to go backward."

About this feature

Two out of three U.S. families say they live paycheck to paycheck. The crisis gripping financial markets makes it tougher to take out loans. American savings are in the negative. In the Tampa Bay area, the financial pressure is acute, with unemployment rising higher than the state and national averages. Add a related surge in property taxes and insurance bills (not to mention higher gas prices) and the challenge to make ends meet is spreading. It's not a fringe problem. It's your neighbor; it's us. Times photographer John Pendygraft seeks stories that put a face on the phenomenon.

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Share your story at jpendygraft@sptimes.com.

To see more of this series and to watch a video about Laura Poirier, go to our special report.

Prayer, patience never waver as troubles mount 10/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 19, 2008 6:05pm]
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