Saturday, March 24, 2012

November 17th to March 23rd

This is a story of a miracle. My God can do anything. I can do anything my God wants done.

Many, many moons ago, before I was even 18 years old, I gained access to a credit card.

And I was an idiot.

I didn't buy diamonds and furs or such, but I used it to buy things that I wanted when my paycheck ran out: eating out, gifts, etc.

Fast forward 5-6  years to an 18 wheeler plowing into the back of my newly purchased Mazda, purchased on credit..... and it was deemed my fault so I was liable for $9,000-ish in damages.

By that time though I had wizened up at least a bit and I used balance transfer checks to get everything onto one credit card and at a fantastic interest rate (3.25%). Which lasted until I received two foster babies and $1,000 in daycare bills in one month made me miss a payment. Missing a payment means you lose the interest rate - mine skyrocketed to 22%

Fast forward to 2011.... roughly 13 years after I began my credit adventure. The credit card hasn't been used in years and is simply a draining nightmare hole that sucks money from my bank account. I'd made payments of at least $300 a month  every single month (except for the month I missed years ago). The MINIMUM amount ever sent in during a month was $300. Do you know what $300 a month is for $13 years? I do. It's $46,800. And at least $13,000 more in payments was expected.

That number makes me sick. I don't think the amount actually spent could have even been $20,000 when you count the car as well.

But there I was in 2011, the card is shut off, and I'm 2 years into a 5 year payment plan at 6% interest and I'm driving home from work when I decided something had to be done. I yelled (because that's just how I show God I'm serious I guess) and I told God that nothing was impossible with Him. I told Him that He was asking me to be a single mom WITH DEBT and that that shouldn't be. I told Him He owned the cattle on a thousand hills and that I'd learned my lesson. I had been fiscally responsible for years now but the weight of paying for an old mistake was too much of a burden for me to continue to bear. I told Him I NEED OUT OF DEBT and that He'd promised I could ask things of Him and He'd listen. Well, this is what I want God. This it is.

Even today, I earn around $100 more than what my bills are. With the extra $100 I hopefully get to buy gas for the car (not allotted in the budget) and food for my body (also not allotted in the budget). So I made the decision that I was going to label my debt as part of Precious' adoption fees (because as a fiscally responsible person I understood that I honestly couldn't afford to adopt her and still pay off my debt every month). I would trust God to let me buy nothing else - even this adoption - without having paid for it first.

Fast forward to November 17th 2011.
The miracle begins.

I ripped the page November 17th, 2011 off my calendar and I wrote on it the full amount of my remaining debt ($11,225) I added in an attorney fee that I expected to have to pay in Jan ($1500) and said "Lord, this is what I need to adopt Precious."

December, I received notice that my renter was moving out - so February I had to pay both my rent, and my mortgage. I also had to make a costly trip North to clean/fix up and hire a manager to show the property for me and place several weeks of ads in the paper. Roughly estimating I'm going to say that event cost $900 - and bear in mind all of my estimates, to make sure I don't over inflate this, will be estimated low.

On two separate occasions I had to go to the store and purchase new clothes for the babies, each of those trips was always at least $200.
Christmas rolled around and while I was more frugal than usual I still spent over $300 in gifts.
I lost 6 days of work due to Precious having RSV in Jan - $500
I finally got a renter for the house only to be told the gas company won't turn on the gas because of a leak and the whole house has to be re-piped $791.
So, not counting my standard bills, which take up all but $100 of my paycheck - the amount of money that I'd need to come up with before her adoption is $15,616.

$15,616.  GOD

I considered trying to get a second job but felt God clearly against it - if this is my ministry how am I fulfilling it by having someone else watch the kids while I go work for more money?

So I didn't.

March 23rd, 2012, Friday, I made my very last payment.

I. made. my. very. last. payment.

EVERYTHING has been paid. Paid on time. Paid in full. I was hemorrhaging thousands of dollars a month and I don't even bring in thousands of dollars a month. Yet payment after payment after payment was made. Quite literally, according to math between my job and the subsidy support for the children, I didn't even make $12,000 since November 17th... yet somehow I paid $15,616 AND also paid all of my bills which previously took all but $100 of my paycheck. I didn't cut corners, I even ate out more than usual the last few months. I generally felt like there was a surplus and didn't even feel pinched or worried that I wouldn't make a bill payment.

I told a friend last November that God wouldn't let me make payments after Precious was adopted because that would mean that I did it on credit. That I couldn't afford her. She can't be mine until she's paid off (of sorts, you know what I mean). Even as I said it I wondered if I was being foolish, if I was saying words I'd have to eat later on.

November 17th to March 23rd is 127 days. 127 days divided by $15,616 is $122.96 a day.
You tell me what God can't do.

As a side note, it looked like I was going to finish in April. I'd been watching all the numbers and I thought April might be the month I finished and I was disappointed. I told God that He'd get more glory if it was March, because March was sooner and April, for some reason just felt less miraculous. March. He'd get more glory if it was in March. But the numbers just weren't there. Then, just a few days after I talked to God about that I happened to dig through a stack of mail and, just before throwing one envelope out, for some reason I decided to open it.

It was from my mortgage company.

They were returning overpaid escrow funds to me.


And I stood there, holding it, and wept - because I knew,,,, God liked March too.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing too big, too hard, too impossible for God. I don't have to understand the miracle, I just am living here as a survivor of the impossible who never once saw anything but ease and comfort during the last 127 days. I can't begin to describe how my faith has grown, how fully I just want to shout His praise. I'm free. After 13 years of a burden of debt, I'm free. And it's all simply because I was willing to do what He wanted.
He made something impossible happen.
I'd have more likely expected to see an amputees leg regrown, than to imagine my debt could be paid off this quickly after November. But He didn't just pay off my debt. He paid the debt, but He made the numbers more astounding, and then He paid it off.
My God, He is a mighty mighty God. And I am passionately thankful to have experienced these past months because every time you go through something like this, words like "My God is a mighty God" change. They become deeper, more rooted, more profoundly true in your mind, and heart, and spirit.

My God, my Father, my Friend, My Provider.
My All.

Monday, March 12, 2012

31 today.

I'm another year older today and I feel it. I can't imagine being 18 again. I can't imagine not rotating the thoughts that go through my head every day now: bottles for the babies, do they have enough diapers? when is the next appt? have I done the paperwork? clean the house, do the laundry, am I doing the right thing with my rental property? who do I need to contact? am I handling things right with Precious? I hope I'm interacting with Buddy enough and stimulating him enough so if he does go home in April he'll have a solid foundation of "connectedness" to fall back on later in life, why won't this claim balance? am I working hard enough at work? is there any way I could do better and get more accomplished? Jesus there's just too much, please make me what You want me to be, I can't do this and yet You've put me here, please do it for me/in me/through me, am I reaching out enough? am I just another person going through their day to people or can anyone see any light coming from me at all? am I a good person or am I a Godly person? I'm tired of being called sweet - seems like that means I'm not Godly enough because Jesus was rarely called "sweet", should I sell the white microwave cabinet? Jesus I don't want to freak the adoption people out with how bare my house looks, what can I do to help these kids grow? why did You have me talk to that lady so long Lord? what was in that? I love You Father, help me love You more and more, You're wonderful, I need to get the oil changed on the car this weekend and the inspection needs to be done too - I'll probably have to buy new windshield wipers first before they'll pass me.... I hope the horn honks.

Those are my 31 yr old thoughts. All rolled up into a slight disbelief that I am where I am, that I'm doing what I'm doing, and wondering with a slight breathlessness if I'll actually end up in Liberia one day. It's life. I don't want it to be normal. I don't want the next 30 years of my life to look anything except insane. I want to move, I want to risk, I want to simply follow God where ever He leads, whether the bank account says I can, whether my health says I can, whether the fact that I'll soon be a single mom says I can... regardless of logic. I want to follow. I've loved looking back on my life and seeing how God has led - but I think He's got bigger things in store if I'll just be willing to grow and risk, and move with Him.

My sister-in-law, Glenda, made me a cake for my birthday. And tonight, I sat in my home alone and slowly ticked 31 candles into the cake. 4 matches later I finally had them all lit - and then I knelt in front of that cake and I made a vow to God. And I meant it. And I believe He's going to do it.

All I have to do is move.