Thursday, October 18, 2012

Debt, Sow, Reap, Repay!

I'm not sure if Solomon is actually referring to debt and repayment, but in Ecclesiastes 11:4, he is definitely referring to reaping what you sow when it comes to putting all your faith in God and taking a risk. Actually the first 6 verses of Chapter 11 refer to risks and rewards, but it was verse 4 that really jumped off the page at me tonight: "He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap." 

 Tonight while I was looking through commentaries on this verse, I stumbled upon a sermon by a Pastor and fellow homeschooler, Keith Krell who described the meaning of this verse as:
This proverb criticizes those who are overly cautious. The farmer who waits for the most opportune moment to plant, when there is no wind to blow away the seed, and to reap, when there is no rain to ruin a ripe harvest, will never do anything but sit around waiting for the right moment. And so, the seed stays in the barn. Solomon exhorts us not to be like this farmer. Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect, because that will never happen. It is true that the wind and rain might come and destroy the harvest. Today’s work might be ruined and you might have to do it over again tomorrow. But that’s okay. Today’s work might succeed as well as tomorrow’s. And if so, then you will be able to reap the rewards for both. Don’t play it safe—take risks. There is no time better than the present to step out in faith.
And that is exactly where David and I stood 6 weeks ago when I walked away from my full time career where I worked for 10 years and 9 months, with a little over 14 years left of service before I could retire and draw a nice little government pension at the ripe old age of 46. But we were forced with a decision: put the kids back in government-run public institutions and continue to work or give up the job for the opportunity to invest in the lives of my children. Obviously, we chose the latter with the confidence that God would provide. He has provided so many times for us before it would have been foolish not to rely on His provisions in this matter as well. It would have been counter to our testimony of His goodness.

One week ago today, I posted on facebook: "It's time to sink or swim! This is our first week without a paycheck. ::takes in slow, deep breath:: This is truly gonna be a test of faith! :)" That was on a Thursday (Oct. 11). To which, many responded with very encouraging comments of support. We knew we would be getting a small severance check, basically a refund of what I had put into my pension account, taxed and fined for early withdrawal. We knew that without that money not only would paying monthly bills be impossible, but with all that debt still piled on top of us I would be forced to go back to work most likely at a job paying a fraction of the pay at hours that were no where near as flexible. And we also knew that the time it took to process that refund was 6-8 weeks. We had braced ourselves to rough out the storm for a few paychecks. We had a little savings in place and we had planned to make some phone calls to debtors to ask for some grace periods while we waited for that check. We discussed our plans Saturday morning since David was off and we were pretty sure of our next courses of action so we decided to take a break to eat lunch. We had corndogs. Did I mention that we were braced for the storm? lol! 

After lunch I asked David to check the mail because I was really hoping that some curriculum that I had ordered would arrive so that we could start using it on Monday which was to be our first day back to school since fall break. David came back in but no books. I was bummed, but he was thrilled. There in the stack of mail was an envelope from the "Department of Finance" of my former employer. It was one of those envelopes that you can just tell contains a check. He opened it, I winced at what I thought was going to be painful. And then he announced the amount of the check and immediately I started running the numbers in my head. Then talking with David, who had a pencil and was writing numbers on the back of the envelope it came in. We had not planned for what was about to happen. We had planned for ordinary but what God provided was nothing less than extraordinary! We received more than expected, sooner than expected and as a result, we now get to sit down and re-write our entire monthly budget all over again because we weren't planning for this!

This is where that check left us:
Bank of America: Paid in full. Gone. Forever.
Toyota Sienna: 100% ours.
Loan to Credit Union: Nothing but a memory.
Student Loan 3: History.
Student Loan 2: Total of $2,275 remaining

We also tucked aside just enough into a savings account to pay off that loan, but we didn't want to stretch ourselves that thin, and because we think we may be smacked with having to pay more taxes at the end of the year as a result of having received such a HUGE blessing right here at the end of the year. But we're resting in God's sovereignty in that area as well. 

We've been Dave Ramsey-ing our way through this mess since December 2008, when I got so fed up with working 40 hours a week to earn a check that belonged to someone else that I asked for Financial Peace University for Christmas. It has taken us FOUR years just to make our way through the first and second baby step, but we can see the finish line now and it feels AMAZING!

Scripture tells us "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender."  (Proverbs 22:7) and as a slave to these lenders I can not emphasize how true this is! But tonight, I felt like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. God is Good. He alone is worthy to be praised. He's the one that orchestrated all the minor details that brings things like this together! He has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

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