My Story of Determination

Do you ever encounter that one person that brings light wherever they go? You know what I mean.,they are forever happy and you know it comes from the inside. Won’t you find a cozy spot and stay awhile to hear my story?

Finding strength thru faith and relying on God in the hard times. by Larissa Haynes of Prodigal Pieces |

Okay, so what do I have to share with you today? Well, if you read my recent post about our debt journey, you would have had a snapshot view of what our life has been like. But let me take you back to my college years. Yes, we’re talking about 17 years ago I graduated college. wow…time flies.

It all started when I was in my third year of my second school. If you remember in my debt post, I first began my college career at a state school in my home state. Then later transferred into another small Christian college in another state. It was here JC and I got married in our third year of college, and I took on a job as Secretary of Student Employment, Purchasing, & Shipping/Receiving.


I had never worked during school, so not only was I a new wife with all those responsibilities, but also a full-time student in my junior year. Just a bit busy, eh? The job was I was blessed with was an answer to prayer. It would provide me a learning experience that I could use to further my future job, plus allow me the flexibility to work on campus and come and go to classes. It even paid well compared to most jobs on campus, so I couldn’t be happier. Except, (there’s always one of those) I was bored out of my mind!

Pushing paper across the desk, filing, answering phone calls, checking inventory was all okay for this organizing freak, but I needed more. I felt as though anyone could do this job.

JC and Larissa Haynes in College | Prodigal Pieces |

JC and I in our first year of college as a married couple.

It was in this time I met “her”. I will admit that being a northern girl in a southern world was not all roses. I didn’t find that southern hospitality everyone spoke about. It was more like, you’re a college student from the north and we can’t wait until you’re outta here kinda feeling. Anyhoo, I realized that all that didn’t matter and I worked past that to do my part as best as I could.


One day she walked into the office to get some supplies for her office of Financial Aid (the highly coveted spot to work on campus). She requested the basics like pens, and paper and then it happened. She requested in the thickest southern accent EVER: Jim cleeups. I am not making fun, but that is honestly is what I heard come out of her mouth. I turned around and headed to the cabinet that held all the office supplies while quickly saying a prayer that I could figure out what she wanted! Oh, and this isn’t the first language barrier I had experienced with her.

Oh, my heart was racing because I didn’t want to offend her in the least, but I had no idea what she was requesting. I turned back to her and said, do you mean these? Holding up something useless since I know it wasn’t what she was looking for. She said, “No, Jim cleeups, ya know that little box?” Okay…I can do this. I still had NO IDEA what she was saying and proceeded to hunt some more still praying for a translation to be whispered in my ear.

That’s when my boss walked in and I looked at him like I was about to faint and I asked him, “Could you help me find what she needs?” By this point she was all in a huff at this point and told him about the misunderstanding. Thankfully, my boss is also a transplanted northerner and was able to translate for me. GEM CLIPS! She was talking about a ridiculous box of paper clips!! I melt.

You can imagine how red my face became at that moment. She grabbed her items and huffed out the door. Meanwhile, my boss had a good laugh as I told him what had occurred. That is the summation of my relationship with her. But…the story doesn’t end there.

A few months later, I was taking my lunch break from my job when the head of financial aid and her came in to have lunch. While in line to get our food, he asked if I would like to come work for him. *hold up…did he just say what I think he said?* I was like a deer in the headlights. My future would be brighter if I got a coveted spot at Financial Aid, but what do I do about my current job that I knew was a blessing? I looked over at her.

I was stuck. Do I switch jobs and, oh, how do I tell my boss that did so much for me that I was leaving? I felt it was God opening up a door and I should take it and make best with what I knew to do – be honest and open. It was with much prayer and a bit of regret that I left my Student Employment job, but I was looking forward to getting ahead in the world. That made my old boss mad as he figured out what had happened. Someone came in and took his secretary. Ugh.


My story continues…Enter in my new job at Financial Aid. I was eager to learn all that I could and do what I have always done – my best. In all my life I was always praised for going above and beyond in all of my past work experiences. My co-workers were two other students, the secretary, her, and the head of F.A. (who was the same man I mentioned in my debt story that told me of my $5000 gift). I will skip to the jist of this story. It wasn’t long before I started to feel I wasn’t wanted in the office by one person.

Plus, to make matters worse I found out by working in this office that my Christian school had its own issues that made my little bubble of a world crumble in despair. My question became, “Why does everything always get corrupt?” Remember, I was a baby Christian with 3 years under my belt, so life was supposed to be a bed of roses, especially at a Christian college.

Different things were done by that one particular person to make my life miserable. I went from being a highly praised employee my entire life for going beyond expectations to one of feeling like a groveling slug. I couldn’t do anything right in her eyes. What’s worse is that the harder I tried the more I it seemed I messed up.

Then what was already bad got worse…the head of the department had to leave out of town and she was left as boss. My heart sank when I heard he would be gone. Let me tell you that anyone who causes me to go home in tears day after day is not one worth fussing over, but I did. During that time the head of the department was gone my hopes of the perfect job crumbled. And, what’s worse is that when he got back, he called her and me in for a meeting to which I was bashed for not trying hard enough (all based on her take on things).

With a heavy heart I went home that night, and talked to JC. I told him I was done that I don’t need this on my resume if it meant I had to go through nightmares to get there. The next day I walked right into the department head’s office and told him I quit (the thing I hated most to do – I never quit anything). I told him he took her words against mine without even giving me the chance to defend myself and walked out of the office.

Ya know what’s funny? My other student coworkers followed in after I left to the head of the department’s office and defended me. They too knew that I was being abused. So, I asked God…WHY? Why did I have to be in that position? I am a student working my tail off and I don’t need this stress in my life!!


Even worse was that I needed a job. So…guess where I had to go? Back to student employment to ask for a job. How awful to go back crawling back to talk to the secretary that took your spot and hope that they had anything open. At this point I just wanted something that would keep me out of the offices of this school. That’s how I ended up painting. My story continues with paint crew as my new life. I had every intention to rock that job even though I was getting paid much less and working harder than before.

Larissa Haynes in her Marketing Presentation for Blimpie in College | Prodigal Pieces |

My marketing group presentation for Blimpie.

Much to my amazement, I was delighted. I could go to my job, work on a home, and walk away seeing the good I had done. I could leave my work at work. My coworkers were awesome people who loved and supported one another. I found the best of friends who loved and supported me. Although I was made fun of by other students for wearing my paint clothes on campus, I couldn’t have cared less. They could have their stuffy jobs and turned up noses. I was here to get an education and do what God wanted me to do.

Do you know that I learned much of what I use on a daily basis from that paint crew? Not only that, but the entire maintenance staff of the school renewed my faith in this establishment. That there were people who truly sought the Lord. What a blessing to have gone through that much needed fire in order to be refined. I wholeheartedly believe God showed me that the office life was not for me. I knew sitting at a desk shuffling papers was not my life’s goal. However, I kept thinking it was the only way. Oh, how little I know.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets | Prodigal Pieces |

In case you’re wondering, I did end up graduating as the only one in my field with honors. That’s all that really matters, not what one unhappy person did to me. God saw fit to bless me immensely and let me focus on my schooling. Doing the best I can with what has been laid in front of me is winning the prize.

All things are possible to him who believes Mark 9:23 | Prodigal Pieces |

Still to this day I my feathers get ruffled when I hear that name. However, I have learned to, “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44. It’s like heaping burning coals on their head. (Romans 12:20) Praise be to God for helping me to see what I am not and who I AM.


If you’re still reading my story, I want to hug you. Thank you for being there to support me in what I do. It means more than you will ever know.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.” Phillipians 1:3-4

I invite you to pin and share my story because you don’t know if someone out there is encountering their Debbie Downer in their life. We all could use a few more nuts in our nutty bowl of life to share our woes.

My story of determination and finding God in the hard times by Larissa Haynes of Prodigal Pieces |

Up next, I will be sharing with you a super fun DIY using these basic wooden crates. Any guesses?  See the after HERE.

Wooden Crates at Home Depot | Prodigal Pieces |

Sign up for my newsletter to get the post in your inbox. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

blog signature


More inspirational stories for you, like my story today:

All Work and No Play - A Premature Baby Experience |

How a Family of 8 Paid off over $11,000 in Debt in 18 Months. Debt Free is the way to be. |

Previous Post Next Post


  • ColleenB.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Enjoyed reading it. I do believe that it makes us a stronger person when we go through trials in our lives. Makes us more determined than ever

    September 3, 2017 at 6:29 am Reply
    • Larissa

      My pleasure, Colleen. Thank you for taking the time to read. Onward we go!

      September 3, 2017 at 7:42 am Reply
  • Mary

    Larissa I too went through something like that in college. The woman was so mean to me I actually didn’t pursue what I had majored in after graduation. But I think God has other ideas and we just need to follow where he leads us. I have not regretted it at all and ended up in the textile industry which was perfect for me. KariAnne is such a gem! She is full of life and encouragement to all of us who feel lost or less than amazing. I have read the book and highly encourage everyone to also read it.

    September 3, 2017 at 6:43 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Good for you, Mary! Perseverance is such a blessing to have. You are an amazing person and friend. Thank you!

      September 3, 2017 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Debrashoppeno5

    I went through something similar as an adult. This person managed to drive off so many good people. But we learn and grow from our experience. KariAnne’s book is a fantastic book that should be read and savored. She has the ability to give us life lessons with humor. Plus I love the DIY tutorials!

    September 3, 2017 at 8:53 am Reply
  • Della

    You are truly an amazing person with a heart of gold. God has blessed you immensely. You are a gift to all of us who read your posts. Thank you!

    September 3, 2017 at 9:00 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Della. I try to do my best because it’s all I can do.

      September 3, 2017 at 11:51 am Reply
  • Laura Werley

    Larissa, your story was so familiar to me. I had one job that ended up with someone on my same level being promoted to being my boss and she was the same type of mean spirited soul. The best part was that she fired me, I got 3 months severance pay and then, thank you God, a job that paid $20,000 more a year 3 days later! Best thing that could have happened! Thanks for sharing.

    September 3, 2017 at 9:13 am Reply
  • Sherry Stuifbergen

    Really was with you as I read the story. I hate abuse at any level! You are stronger for it and such a good person! I never miss reading your blog. You inspire me.

    September 3, 2017 at 10:27 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you for the love, Sherry. 🙂

      September 3, 2017 at 11:51 am Reply
  • Liz

    Laughed and know how you felt. Great read, thank you!

    September 3, 2017 at 10:29 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Liz!

      September 3, 2017 at 11:52 am Reply
  • KariAnne Wood

    Sweet friend! THANK YOU SO MUCH! You are such a strong person and your story is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your heart.
    You. Are. A. Rockstar.

    September 3, 2017 at 11:00 am Reply
    • Larissa

      You are most welcome, KariAnne.

      September 3, 2017 at 11:52 am Reply
  • Jan

    Your story should be shared often. It is precious Andy gives hope! Thank you.
    How I pray that doors are opened so I can move from a job where I dig in dark holes looking for the missed change that was not paid in a medical office. I have a desire in my heart to have a creative business, I hope soon that changes.

    September 4, 2017 at 12:20 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Jan. I can’t say enough how blessed I am to get to do what I do. Prayers for you to find the right timing for your dream.

      September 5, 2017 at 5:50 am Reply
  • Jane

    you’re inspiring girl & I thank you for sharing a part of your story. interesting how you started to did not know the “why” and now you have this amazing business.

    thanks for always spreading joy, xo

    September 4, 2017 at 7:39 am Reply
    • Larissa

      It’s funny how we can miss the mark trying to live up to standards. God knew I would be unhappy in the corporate world. Glad He found a better way! Thank you, Jane.

      September 5, 2017 at 5:52 am Reply
  • Darlene

    Wonderful hearing your story Larissa. Sometimes the things we have to go through are the test to make us better and stronger. Obviously you came through with flying colours. Keep up the good work! God is on you and your lovely families side.

    September 4, 2017 at 1:42 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You are so kind to say supportive words, Darlene. Thank you!

      September 5, 2017 at 5:54 am Reply
  • Marie

    You took me right back to my beginnings with your story, Larissa. I’ve been there and ended up leaving a job that I loved with great benefits, SHE won. But it opened doors to explore all kinds of creative ventures to which I’m grateful. I can’t wait for my copy of the book to arrive on my doorstep. Having talked to KariAnne on the phone and experiencing that bubbly personality first hand, I know this book is going to be amazing. My window seat is waiting!

    September 5, 2017 at 11:15 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Oh, Marie, I’m so sorry that you too had to have to deal with something like that. Yes, it is hard to start anew, but it seems we are the better for it! Bless you in all you do.

      September 7, 2017 at 5:16 am Reply
  • Cecilia

    Such a inspirational story! Thank you for sharing your heart. Love KariAnne and her book too. It’s so good to have a stick with God story!

    September 6, 2017 at 9:25 am Reply
    • Larissa

      It sure is, Cecilia. Thank you!

      September 7, 2017 at 5:17 am Reply
  • Debbie

    I was scanning through Pinterest and found your blog. I don’t know if you remember me but I have a knack for remembering names and recognized yours and your picture right away. I was you and JC’s Admissions Counselor at TFC. I remember your struggles of getting to college, with finances and your parents feelings. But it was students like you that stayed on my heart and remind me why I loved that job! I am so blessed to see you and JC doing so well, and to catch up on the rest of your story. I have subscribed to your blog and I look forward to seeing all of your creative projects!

    January 15, 2018 at 7:48 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Of course I remember you, Debbie. Hugs!! Yes, my life is full of struggles and blessings and happy to say God is with me through it all. Thank you for making yourself known!

      January 16, 2018 at 5:52 am Reply

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    You may also like

    This site utilizes cookies to offer you the best experience possible. more information

    The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.