When Jeremy and I first got married, he was laid off for about a week after not being paid for almost two months by his employer. We were engaged, he had paid for my engagement ring with a credit card and took out a $10,000 loan to cover any costs that may come up at the beginning of our new life together. We have questioned many times if that line of credit was a good decision but at the time we wanted to make sure we could cover our bills. I came into the marriage with about $10,000 of debt from a vehicle loan and Jeremy had $4,000 for his truck. We quickly became pregnant and needed items for our new baby and I hit Target. We used a bunch of the Credit Card on that and made minimum payments (we didn’t know much about paying off debt at the time). Soon after Emilia’s birth, our marriage was in major trouble and Jeremy rented a room for 8 months as we healed. We both went to individual counseling as well as marriage counseling once a week (3 appointments per week) for a year. All of these things were financially costly to our family. We were expecting our third child and traded in the truck (worth $3000) for a family minivan (worth $10,000) adding a $7,000 loan to the pot. Then in the fall of 2012, Jeremy’s company lost some contracts and right after receiving our call to missions, he was laid off. As of April 2013, we had over $40,000 of debt. Jeremy was hired and laid off numerous times after that due to contracts coming and going… I did the math and in 4 years he was only working for 23 months due to lay-offs. We decided to pay off our debt and worked hard during those times to pay off our loans. We had times where we only ate rice and beans donated through the local food banks (Maine Life Gate Church Limerick, ME and Calvary Assembly Frederick, MD) so we could pay bills and get rid of debt. We lived with friends for months, in their basement, so we could get back on our feet and pay off more debt (thanks Jen and Rob!) We had other friends offer us a space on their property for months for free so we could prepare to launch into missions (they wish to remain anonymous but, they know we are grateful). Our parents have helped us when we needed to pay rent, when we needed gas money, when we needed a place to stay (almost 2 years with my in-laws and numerous stays with my parents). Thanks Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad. Our church family has prayed for us and given generously to us. There is one man, I will call him “R” who would press $20 into our hand every Sunday for months last year. Words can’t describe what this meant to us. You see, our hearts would break on Sunday because we had no money to give in the offering. We had no income and would pray in the parking lot with the kids that God would allow us to somehow give to our church. We scoured the van thinking that there might be a few coins we would find hidden and after the first two times, we wouldn’t find anything. Then “R” would press that 20 dollar bill into our hand and we would have something to give. At first, it was hard because we only had enough gas in the car to make it TO church and not enough to make it home. That $20 could get us back home but we knew God wanted us to be cheerful givers even in our poverty. In the end, we were never stranded at church, He always provided for our every need. We were so grateful to give our small gift to God through our church offering, by week four we were dancing to the offering baskets! We had friends, Sheila and Darryl that bought us groceries for a few weeks. And other friends who would drop food off at our front door (thanks Tonya and Doug). Other friends brought gallons of milk to church for us (“S and A”). Our friends from Baltimore, students in college, Gabby and Joelle supported us through financial gifts and also would drive all of the way to us for fellowship when we couldn’t afford the gas. Our landlords were so patient and kind to our family. Our pastor who prayed for us as we went through such a difficult and humbling season. All of our friends who prayed for us and gave us the small but important things like underwear and PJs (Mary, Larry, Tina, Brian, Mimi, Amy, Brian, Monica, Ever, Venessa, Doria, George, Kerry, Ed, Jen, Rob, Joy, Jen, Stacia, John, John, Pam, Teri, Deborah, Steve, Stef, Richard, Lissa, Tommy, Jessie, Todd, Kevin, Missy, Ann, Jerry, Kristin, Devon and everyone else that I am missing who has loved our family).
So, in 4 years, only working 23 months and getting a few decent tax returns, we have officially paid off all of our bank loans, credit cards and car loans. We didn’t do this on our own, obviously. God did a miracle. He used you to do it. He is making missions possible and being debt-free is one of our biggest obstacles. He did it. We are going to Tanzania with no debt and we are thankful.