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

The Huge News

I'm on my way to work, but I can't wait any longer to share the big news...

WE'RE OUT OF DEBT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's a MIRACLE!!!!!!!!

The details, a celebration, LOTS of gratefulness spelled out in my posts throughout this week.   But I could not wait ONE MORE SECOND to share!

Juicy details to come, and a giveaway :)


Giving thanks to God, our praying friends, and sharing our joy :)

More to come...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

More Alternative Edible Leaves

Sorry, but I couldn't resist when I went to this webpage at the Plants for a Future site.   What a wonderful resource!  Check out even more alternative edible leaves...

Funny how things turn out, but if you'd have asked me four years ago if Jack and I would be SO excited every time we found another unusual-to-us edible leaf, I may have laughed...but  not so now.  In fact, they are at the heart of our plans for the present and future.

As I mentioned in the last post, I have some specific things I'll be writing about here this week.

But I couldn't pass up mentioning this great link...enjoy :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Still here!

The past little while has been BUSY, but it's been a good sort of busy!  

Thank you to all who left your information about your own home businesses.  I have a reason for asking :)

Jack and I will be making an announcement in the  next few days, and that will be paired with a giveaway.

There will be a few more posts focusing on debt and frugality and lessons learned (and some we still have to learn).  I'll include an update on my new job, an entirely new career shift (though I hardly think of any of my jobs as a "career").

And lastly, but certainly not least,  I also have some great information to post about another edible leafy green we'll be trying this spring (well, throughout the year), the purple leaf tree collard.  I'm delighted to welcome a guest post-er from the west coast for that post, or series of posts, so he can share his firsthand knowledge of this plant, since the information we were able to find about it on the internet was scant but fascinating.

It's almost shabbat now, so there'll probably be no action here at the blog till next week.   But we're still here and will shoot some posts here forthwith, after the weekend.

Have a great and restful few days!

Robbyn and Jack :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Question for Readers: Do You Have Your Own Etsy Site or Homemade/Homegrown Products for Sale?

Hey, everyone out here...I'd really love to know if you have your own home business, homemade items, homegrown things you sell on the side or as a part your cottage industry.  I don't put advertising on my sidebar or in my text mainly because I didn't create this as an income-generating blog, plus advertising usually gets on my last nerve.

HOWEVER, I'd LOVE to know what YOU make yourself, sell as a legitimate service, etc etc...I'd love to put them in a post here.

If you make  homemade soaps, design websites, bottle honey from your own honeybees, have raw or spun wool, knitted/crocheted/sewn items,  make quilts, etc...and a hundred other things that could go on the list here...I'd love to have a link to your site or email address with a list of what you have available.

I love my internet friends and want to encourage exchanges and purchases among our mutual cottage businesses and personal handmade/etc items.

Just list your info in comments and after a few days I'll include them all in a post...I have my reasons for asking :)

Thanks!  Can't wait to see what everyone has for sale!

Monday, February 7, 2011

O'er The Ramparts We Watched

...were so gallantly streaming.

I'm just sayin'...

How neat would it be if we let some young kids give us our Superbowl anthem.   The words would be remembered and for what they'd be paid, it would put them all the way through college.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Using Leftovers: Homemade Dog Treats!

Got some leftover veggies on hand that aren't going to make it into a soup, fritter, casserole, etc?  Many veggies and leftovers can be incorporated into making dog treats.  Pumpkin, squashes, green peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, are all things that can be used, and dog treats are easy to approximate.

Essentially, they're biscuits, and they don't have to come out pretty to be appreciated by our Kaleb.   Avoid any ingredients your pet might be allergic to, and all ingredients on the DON'T list for dogs...grapes/raisins, onions, and so on.

I was cleaning out my fridge and had some items that weren't spoiled but were too sparse to make it into another meal soon...a bit of fish, a little cooked carrot, dab of oatmeal.   There are a lot of good dog treat recipes online...I just mixed some old pancake mix (don't need to keep it on hand and there was not much left) with the leftovers, mixed in some powdered milk, flour, dry oats, oil, and an egg.  Stir, roll out, and bake!

These were kind of homely and the white stuff isn't powdered sugar but flour.   But they actually smelled good cooking and I cooked them long enough for them to be hard enough to keep well stored in a sack in the freezer, and for a few to be kept in the treat jar.

Got any tried and true recipes you use for your own pet treats?  I'd love to know!

From Kaleb's kitchen, bon appetit!