Monday, February 28, 2011

The Debt Gone: Part One

I'm on my face with awe to our wonderful God.  I have no words to really express anything I'd like to express to Him right now.   Thank You is a really inadequate phrase.

Here, I'll back up for a second...

For anyone who's read a few posts here and there at this blog,  you'll notice a repeating theme of "we are working to get out of debt"...repeated so many times it became an annoying little mantra.   But as we have made, altered, and amended our goals in the shortterm and the longterm, the first barrier and first consistent thing we needed in order to get our household in order was to be out of debt.

We did not carry a dollar amount of debt that most people would think of as exorbitant, and it was less than the "debt forgiveness" counselors quote as a starting point to negotiate with lenders for friendlier payback terms.

Nevertheless, though it was a smaller mountain, it was still a mountain.  And daily, weekly, we still "climbed" it.  My wonderful husband kept us steady in that regard, working at a somewhat thankless job that's not his lifelong career, simply in order for us not to slide backwards.  And I got creative on the home front budgeting, and contributing with jobs on the side through this last 4  years, too.  It's been a joint project, and a daily prayer, and on the daily prayer request of folks who have loved us enough to pray for us.   "Please help us get out of debt"

Why be out of debt?  There are a lot of reasons, and I won't go into all of them, but the long and short of it is for the sake of independence and being free to make choices based on not having ties to any lenders.

I should stop here and say that we still are paying a house note, a modest one, so we are not truly 100% debt free.  Our goal, however, has been to pay off all other debts and then to sell this house when it's the right time and shoot for being able to come out at least slightly ahead and COMPLETELY at that point no longer owing anyone anything.  

Part One of this is the part I did not know was going to happen.

We made two huge mistakes since I started this blog, and since we focused our efforts on what we term our "homestead journey"...and both mistake involved money.  There were two times we could have utilized two separate windfalls over the past four years, and would likely have been out of debt by now.   It was a learning process and it was also a big test of Jack's and my relationship and whether we could withstand disagreeing on such a vital decision.  I won't belabor it, but for other equally-worthy causes, the money was at the time used in other ways, and then didn't accomplish what we had intended the result to fact, it backfired.   Talk about a huge huge HUGE sense of regret.  And more lessons in loving each other, and cementing the determination to not make the same mistake...again.

That is where the new year this January found us.   Ever try making a fresh Goals list while still having Goal One (debt) be the SAME goal as the year before...and the year before...and be the one thing we STILL were working on?

Part One of the equation is....God.  What we're trying to do is to walk His way, and so many of the changes we've made and would like to continue making all are things He's helped us find and learn and get really excited about as we keep on at day at a time.  We've done well in many ways, but in other ways we had setbacks, made mistakes, and sometimes flopped.  He's helped us in spite of ourselves.  We have made a conscious effort to stay with the determination to not take on any more debts.
We appreciate the correction He's given us to help us realize just how important it is to be free, simplify, say no, and do without non-essentials.

We are BETTER for the lessons!   And grateful.

There are plenty of others on this same road, and yet others who are not quite at the same  perspective.  We had to say No a lot of times that were frustrating for others due to the fact that our budget simply could not stay on track if we took expensive vacations, traveled out of state, bought holiday gifts for a lot of people (including us!) and so on.  At no time did we feel deprived, but a lot of times we have had to settle for being misunderstood by some folks we love who just can't understand why we won't swipe the plastic one more time to be more available to their plans.

I used to apologize for it, but I don't any's the only way we could live sensibly on our budget and our reality is not everyone else's.  Some folks are working with a lot bigger budgets, which is awesome for them...I'm not begrudging :)

We have friends who've prayed and  prayed for us, both folks we know in person and those of you here who we are so very happy to know even though at a greater distance.  We have no idea which, if any, plans we have He'll direct us towards or away from...we remain flexible...but even despite our mistakes, sometimes some grumbling, a little discouragement now and then, and lessons in focusing on making the most of Today....God has kept us kindly, mercifully, graciously...and generously.

One month ago today, we thought we were no closer to being out of debt than we had been the month before.  We still owed thousands.

You hear people throw around the term "miracle" pretty loosely sometimes, but we believe a miracle happened for us.

I'm still in shock and in awe, so this post will scarcely contain the wonder I truly feel at how, one month later, we are now debt-free.  How many times do we wish we would win the lottery, have some kindly great-uncle we never knew bequeath us a legacy, and so on?

All I can say is there was a check in the mail, and it had to do with money that rightfully was ours but had been, without any knowledge on our part, in limbo for years until four weeks ago.  And to think I almost threw it out as junk mail without even opening it!

I can't go more into detail, but it was part of our hard-earned income "error in your favor" re-materialized...and a complete COMPLETE surprise to both of us!

The other neat part is that it was enough to cover all our debt, besides our house note, and a few things we had sidelined due to our tight repairs, dog to the vet, a pair of good work shoes, etc.   For the past 2 or 3 weeks, we've been cautiously paying everything off to see, after the dust settled, where things stand now.   And they do, they DO (!!!) stand Paid In Full !!!!!!!!!!

So Part One of all this is God's timing, God's goodness, God's mercy, God's graciousness.  This post is all about how HE gets the credit (ha, ironic little term there) for this happening, and helping move us FAR FAR FAR forward in ways we had absolutely NO control over.

So we are GRATEFUL to GOD.   We were grateful before this happened, and we are...what's a good word?? words are inadequate...mind-numblingly in shock and humbled and HAPPY about this!

So, thank you, our Great and Loving God, for bringing this about, and may we proceed from here only by Your guidance, with joy and wisdom from You.  Our prayer is that He lead us how and where He specifically wants us...that's truly where both of us want to be. 

And  yes, besides the shock, it feels GREAT (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) to look into the mailbox and have no bills coming in.




Thank you for sharing our happiness and our journey with us!   Part Two, my next post,  is


Michelle said...

Malachi 3:10-12; God's Word is sure!

fullfreezer said...

What a truly remarkable story. You are truly blessed!

Donna said...

Wow! That's all I can say! said...

What an amazing thing to happen, we are SOOOOO happy for you and Jack. I got teary eyed just reading this, God is so good. I totally understand not having the words to thank HIM.

Phelan said...


Lynne said...

Hello, I came across your blog some time ago and read it once in a while for the gardining info. I also have a rescue half assie/half lab who is 13 and still here with me.
I just read your account of God intervening in your lives and eliminating your debt. I had an intervention from God 2 years ago. I was praying that God would make his presence known to me in a way that I would clearly see and be personal to me.
I work in medical sales, and the highest award in my company is sales rep of the year. I have never had any desire to get this award. I am actually not someone who wants to draw attention to herself.
So, yes, it happened. And, the way it happened, a series of events had to occur at just the right time and in just the right way throughout the entire year. It was not in my control, and I could almost feel God setting up one domino after another just to show me he is there and can do anything.
Right now you are in shock. After a while, you will realize this has absolutely nothing to do with money or paying down your debt. This is all about God telling you he is here, and he can do anything. That's the best part.
Lynne in MD

P~ said...

congratulations! Hows it feel? A~ and I hope to hit that mark this year or next, and we look forward to it.
I know you've heard me say it before, when we believe, truly believe, and do our part to get there, anything is possible.
enjoy it...
best you you both!

R said...

Michelle, Judy, Donna, Paulette, Phelan, Lynne, Paul....((((((((((((((((((((((we love you guys SO much!!! THANK YOU for sharing in our happiness :) :) )))))))

Anonymous said...

Just came across your blog for the first time via shared interest in permaculture).

We became debt-free 2 years ago (about 5 months after my husband found work following a 9 month stint of unemployment). We'd paid off the house about 5 years ago "when our ship came in" (we had some company stock, and I had it earmarked from the getgo for debt-free home ownership). And we had been buying used cars for cash almost since the time we got married 20 years ago.

We really did get there step-by-step -- I made a commitment to myself to pay off all my college debt (which was just educational loans) before I got married -- and did. We came into the marriage with two car loans and over time staggered that into driving one car we'd already paid for while paying on the other. We bought one new truck on credit three years into the marriage right after moving into our house (husband's car was totaled on the day he returned to work after taking a week off to move!). Next car was a 2-year-old used for which we paid cash and has been that way since.

All of this is to say, sometimes it takes a "long obedience in the same direction" (to quote the title of a book by Eugene Peterson) to get debt free, but God is merciful. He has given us as much time and as many lessons as we needed.

Y'all must be quicker learners than we were!