In January of 2016 I was still reeling over some personal issues and preparing to birth a baby wondering if we would ever sell our house and be able to start building the new one. We lived in 550 square feet and were planning to build our own house. We had been saving and were ready to start construction knowing we could continue once our previous house sold. Our budget took an unexpected blow and we were unable to do that and we were unsure of what we were supposed to be doing and if we were doing the wrong thing. I wasn't sure I could handle much more emotional strain. I had a come to Jesus meeting in a big way and let go and truly began trusting His timing and His plan.
In February, after almost 2 years on the market, our house sold and sold quickly. We were shocked at how everything fell into place. Gone. No more mortgage. Did you hear me? NO MORE mortgage. We were completely debt free. Woohoo!! Now it was time to start spending and building. :)
On March 4th, we broke ground on our house. Then my husband who I adore worked so hard on laying the foundation blocks, doing a 3-man job alone, that he literally worked his fingerprints off! On April 7th we welcomed our Rebekah Claire into the world. Bruce continued construction and I adjusted to a new baby, tiny-house style. Because Bruce was working 14-16 hours a day the kids and myself did all we could to make sure the chores were done so that Bruce's focus could stay on the house.
It was an exhausting and thrilling year. A weary road that brought us to a place where we can now have visitors and fellowship without the use of clown car magic or being a fire hazard. Doing over 95% of the construction ourselves gave us some serious sweat equity! Mentioning I am proud of my husband and thankful for help from friends and family is a must. :)
Our goal was always to build this house with as little debt as possible...maybe none. After waiting almost 2 years to start construction our timetable was different than we had hoped. The reality of living in a small space was not our only motivation to move forward rather than wait on funds. We also had financial and other reasons to borrow money to finish building the house. Our utility bills in the tin can we lived in were crazy high. The floors and walls would sweat in the winter. We had moisture and mold issues to battle. It was time to move forward. I didn't take borrowing lightly and God had to humble my heart because I had pride in being debt-free.
So, here we are. Debt. Other than a mortgage we haven't had debt in over 10 years. That hasn't always been easy but worth it. The blessings, gifts, and provision God has orchestrated amaze me. We made the decision to move forward building our house without the cash on hand. Because of the Lord's grace through unexpected means, we have a 5 year plan to be completely debt free. At first I felt defeated to borrow to finish the house but I am definitely at peace now (most days). I have had many full-circle moments in this season of life. The Lord has shown me more than once that debt-free living can become an idol itself. Debt-free is never bad and I certainly recommend living that way for many reasons but anything, even good things, can come before God in our lives. Doing everything I can to be debt-free is not the same as wholeheartedly seeking after God and His kingdom. Now, if I am seeking God first it's likely that good decisions such as not living beyond my means will come as a result but there is a HUGE difference between doing good things and putting Jesus ahead of everything...the good things happen naturally because of my relationship with Him. Read Matthew chapters 6 and 10 (and anything else in Scripture while you're at it. Be careful, it can come alive!)
He is more important than debt and more important than being debt-free
He is worthy. Worthy of our worship and praise. His namesake is worthy of all our good deeds but if our good deeds do not bring Him glory, they are filthy rags...He enables us. He enables us to do the good deeds and make the good decisions FOR His glory, not ours.
My debt or lack of it is not to boast or brag and if what I do or say doesn't point back to my Savior, then my actions and words are in vain. Jesus. He is everything. I've been in some deep places, but Jesus has met me where I am. And He has helped me do the next thing. How
I love Him. Mess that I am, He loved me first!
With Bruce's workload being quite light this year so far, I am re-learning some lessons about stewardship. I am realizing I still take so many things for granted. I know that my heart is selfish and that I don't really like to adjust the budget when the income is less. I have moments I feel entitled and I have an ungrateful spirit. Chief of sinners, I am. Ultimately I am accountable for my actions, attitudes, and stewardship and I fail all too often. May God do a mighty work in this heart of flesh that wars within my very soul.
Our income may be variable but the deep, deep love of Christ is unchanging.
**Amendment: This post was sort of a confession and snapshot into some of our struggles. I do not intend to justify debt or even say that our decision to have some for our house is "right". I still hate debt. I don't believe a lifestyle of debt is God-honoring. Jesus died to set us free and to have life abundantly, sharing His
love and freedom with others. He doesn't want us to serve money or be a
slave to the lender... I don't have all the answers to living debt-free as everyone has different situations but I know that typical American culture doesn't need to be our blueprint...God's word does.