It was a hot August evening in 2016 and I was praying feverishly.
My house was in foreclosure and my attorney was going to court the next day to ask for a waiver of deficiency.
I had come so far and yet, here I was…another loss.
As I prayed the Lord took me to Deuteronomy:
At the end of every 7 years, you shall grant a release of debts. – Deuteronomy 15:1
What a Difference 7 Years Can Make
I asked God, why me? Why does this scripture apply to me now? The Lord put it on my heart to think about where I was 7 years prior.
So, I calculated it out and immediately fell to my knees sobbing.
It was 7 years to the month when God delivered me from an abusive relationship and drug addiction. Heck, it might have even been 7 years to the date.
When you get out of such wreckages, you don't always note the date.
My attorney went to court the next day and the bank bought the house back. Additionally, they waived the deficiency. I again cried and was overwhelmed at His grace and mercy. Up to this point, I had been making an effort to pay off my debt, but I was completely underwater on this house. I moved out a year prior and pursued a short sale for a couple of reasons:
- Some major things broke
- It was no longer a safe neighborhood for a single woman
Once the foreclosure was completed I knew it was time to turn up the heat and repay the remainder of my debt. God showed me favor and I needed to do my part.
At the time of the foreclosure, I was living in a ministry house and paying rent. I humbled myself and asked my parents if I could move back home for two years. They were gracious and said yes. Little did I know that moving back with them was about a lot more than just paying off my debt.
My father & I had a strained relationship growing up. Most of our interactions were volatile and I grew up a very insecure girl who believed some incorrect things about herself.
In my sobriety, I went to my Dad and made an amends for my side of things. He accepted and also made his first amends to me. However, when I was living in the ministry house I went through an exercise of identificational repentance. In this exercise, I was able to release complete forgiveness to my Dad for all of the pent-up resentments I had stored away for years. It was rather freeing.
My Dad was not even aware of it. Interestingly, a few months after that exercise, my Dad called me up and said how very sorry for not being the Dad I needed. I cried and cried in amazement that after I released forgiveness, I received the apology I craved so deeply.
Living with My Parents in My 40's
By the time I moved back in with my folks, I was 43 on the cusp of 44 and my father & I got along fairly well. The restoration has come in layers and there is no better way to completely knock out your childhood demons than by moving back home. At least that's how it worked for me.
For the most part, we got along but there were times we clashed. My Dad & I even had one emotion-filled altercation which ended in him leaving his own house. I was faced with the opportunity to respond with mercy or as a victim. God gave me the grace to choose the former. After all, I had discovered my identity as the daughter of the King and through that Jesus showed me how to respond in love and show mercy.
My father & I have only gotten closer and cherished those two years we had together. Additionally, I was able to recognize the things they need help with and now I get to revisit them every week and help out.
I recognize God gave me a second chance to submit to their authority under their roof in a healthy way. It was complete redemption as the last time I had lived with them I was 20 and rebellious.
Paying off the Debt
While I was living with my folks, I stayed focused, worked hard, and got raises. Every time I received an increase, I tithed off the top and the rest went towards my debt.
I found it rather easy to say no to most things that cost extra money. There is no better motivation to not spend on frivolous things, than living with your folks in your 40's. It allowed me to stay the course and on December 29, 2017, I made my final payment and became debt free for the first time in 24 years. All in all (not counting the house) I paid off $46,763.
I used the Dave Ramsey debt snowball method for paying off my debt. Additionally, I implemented zero-based budgeting and found freedom in telling my money where to go. These tools allowed me the discipline to change my financial life and the trajectory of my future. Dave was really the first person to tell me (through the airways) that I could do this. I believe him and he turned out to be right.
So on June 4th, 2018, my friend Patricia & I went to Nashville to meet Dave and his team.
I was able to share my testimony live and in person at his studios. It was an amazing experience I'll never forget. Here it is, starting at 14 minutes:
Progress Not Perfection
With the start of 2018, I started maxing out my retirement accounts and investing in my future. Additionally, I started my blog, Ms. Fiology, to chronicle my journey towards financial independence. Writing about personal finance has allowed me to become a better person and continually grow.
It was in my blogging that I was convicted of a lie I told Dave Ramsey. Anyone who knows Dave, knows how he is adamantly opposed to credit cards. On the application to do a debt free scream, he asks if you used credit cards while paying off your debt pay off and/or if you currently have credit cards. I said no. That was a lie.
I did close a lot of my credit cards while in the debt snowball but when it became apparent the house was foreclosing, I was advised to keep some open. I did and barely used them. By the time, I paid off my debt, I developed the discipline to use them differently. This is how I justified that lie.
I was convicted and the lie haunted me. I finally got down on my knees and repented to God. Next, I knew I had to reach out and apologize to Dave. I did so in a letter that you can read here. Third, I needed to apologize to my readers. The response I received from my readers and the Dave Ramsey team was overwhelmingly A M A Z I N G.
I'm not proud of that lie.
I'm overwhelmed at the mercy my Savior continues to show me. How could I not extend anything but to others?
I know I would not be here, had I not gotten down on my knees on that dark day in August of 2009 and asked for help. Taking the leap of faith to get sober and give it all up has been the best decision of my life.
Out of that one decision, I've learned to reconcile with my past, forgive others, receive forgiveness, replace lies with truth, and best of all develop a loving relationship with my heavenly and my earthly Father.
Additionally, I developed the fortitude to pay off my debt. Now I find it an honor and privilege to manage and steward the money that God has entrusted to me. Today I get to be a wise investor.
So, what is your one decision that has changed everything?