We had debt when we got married and paid off a huge chunk of it within the first year. We took Dave's Financial Peace University class at church in our 2nd year of marriage. Other than our house and a car payment, we had zero debt as of a little over two years ago. And this is when we thought we didn't have any money.
Then God asked us to live on one income and sent us on a crazy whirlwind of unfortunate financial events over the past two years, and here we are again with debt.
I HATE IT!!! Have I made that clear?
And it's not the kind of debt that is accrued because of a lack of self control over purchasing material things. Remember, I grew up in the household of Mr. and Mrs. Frugal. I can do without new clothes and cute furniture in my house. I'd love to have it, yes, but I am able to go to Target to get a gallon of milk and leave with only that. Thanks Mom and Dad, seriously.
It's the kind of debt accrued when there is no other option to pay for unexpected events. Forget Dave's emergency fund. It gets wiped out pretty quickly when you have to pay for individual health insurance for over a year, three trips to the ER, and two surgeries.
Believe me, it is only by divine intervention that we have never been late on any single bill. It blows my mind, actually. It's all God, because it certainly is not our bank account.
Now that we have steady and sufficient income (thank you JESUS!), we thought of different opportunities to get rid of this debt, all of which provide a surplus of income.
1. Brent gets paid overtime the first year of work.
2. Brent goes on CAT deployment training in March. (sounds fancy)
3. Tax refund (since we have used that every year of marriage to work on debt or make big purchases)
4. Rental home income
It is such a downer, those days where all you get in the mail is bills. That was yesterday. And yesterday was the straw the broke the camel's back. God has literally shut the door on all of those options to pay down debt. In the last 2 weeks, we have learned:
1. The company Brent works for no longer has a budget for overtime.
2. The CAT deployment training has been indefinitely suspended while they revamp the program.
3. We OWE taxes for the first time this year. I know EXACTLY why and it was something not in our control and it makes me ill...working on my attitude.
4. We got a bill in the mail yesterday stating that our mortgage payment on the rental is increasing.
The combination of all this sent Brent and me (and Lily) on a walk yesterday where we complained and questioned God. Lily was busy in her wagon beating metal sticks together and singing songs that she is learning at church, so she was the only one praising God.
Frustrated to the MAX! God knows what a burden this debt is and how badly we want it gone and any attempt we have made to pay above and beyond the minimum God has deliberately declined. What is He thinking?
After the walk, we were a little cooled down and decided to work on our budget for the next two weeks (something we do twice a month). And after all that complaining and questioning and doubting and trying to maneuver money around to get all the bills covered and still eat, we had a SURPLUS of money that didn't have a purpose.
Now, it's not like a thousand dollars fell from Heaven. But there was a little extra that wasn't going to bills and we quickly and humbly realized this:
We can plan and stress and strategize all day long with very wise ways to pay down our debt...ways that Dave himself would applaud...but in the end, if it's not God's way then it's not going to happen. OBVIOUSLY!
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Even establishes his method of paying down debt.
A man's steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24
Our "debt" steps are from the Lord, how can we understand them? Just trust the the One who directs the steps.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. Proverbs 21:5
May we trust and work in the diligent plans the Lord has for us, in all ways.
One of these days we'll be able to say we are debt free. Until then, we will roll with the punches, do things His way, and try not to be discouraged when things don't work out like we hoped. And we'll continue to praise God for all the miraculous ways He provides for us despite what our money looks like on paper.