Tag Archives: God

Debt Free!

Take a look at that picture.  It’s a screen shot of my last credit card account.  ‘Debt Free’ is now stamped across our personal finance files.  There’s such relief…freedom…elation that comes from that label!

Not only are we not dragged down by owing others, we are freed up to pursue other things!  A full emergency fund of six months expenses.  A full retirement fund of at least $10 million dollars.  Kids’ college tuition paid for.  Next house purchased with cash.  Dream vacations paid for up front – and not eating at McDonald’s only while on vacation!  (hold on, let me pick my jaw up from that realisation!) And not just stuff for us, but for others.  We will shortly be able to give generously to help others adopt, seek medical treatment, send their kids to school, eat, pay the electric company, pay a mortgage, get a root canal.  And on and on and on.  What couldn’t we do financially?  NOTHING!  Without this debt on our backs, we can take our money anywhere.

Financial peace.  That’s what being debt free has brought us.  Financial peace and financial freedom – the freedom to do what is best for us and others.  We will even shape the way our children think about money.  They get the blessing of starting off with financial peace!  Just think what a difference that could’ve made to our generation!

It’s odd to me what a prevalent way of life debt has become to this country.    At least it’s odd to me now.  Before our financial paradigm shift from the Dave Ramsey course, I thought debt totally normal.  I didn’t quite realise the heaviness of my future being accounted for already.  I was always working to pay the past.  Oh, sure, sometimes life would come up and it’d be a kick in the teeth to take out a new loan or put something else in Citibank’s file, but mostly I carried that debt strapped on well – it wasn’t going anywhere!

The paradigm shift happened slowly (well, okay, in a matter of a few weeks, but it wasn’t, like, instantaneous).  But it definitely happened.  I called the credit card company to cancel our last card.  The lady asked why and I told her to pick a reason: we’re debt free, we’re cash only, we’re not working for your company anymore, Dave Ramsey said so.  Instead of a pat response, she squeaked, “Really!?!”

Then, the worker at this credit card company proceeded to ask me how we did it, who’s Dave Ramsey, and how can she get out of debt and have financial peace?  She soaked up everything and emphatically thanked me before we ended our call.  Another life changed.

I am debt-free.  Thank you, Dave.

It’s not unnoticed in our home that this debt status change is happening on Good Friday and Easter weekend – the time we recognize Jesus dying on the cross and then rising from the dead.

It’s the exact same thing:  Paid in full.  Debt free.  Peace.  Freedom.

Just like debt is the dominant mindset in our country, sin is the way of all humanity.  While God created us perfect in His image to have a forever relationship with Him, He also gave us choice.  We all choose the wayward path.  We all choose the selfish way.  We all choose the opposite of what is best for us.  We are marred.  Dirty.  Sinful.   “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one ….” (Rom 3:10)  We all fall short of the glory of God.

And what does sin cost us?  What’s the interest rate?  What’s the principal?  Sin costs everything.  Paul tells us in Romans that “the wages of sin is death.”  (Rom 6:23)  Sin is a debt we can never repay.  We can never be good enough or do enough good works.  Sin demands perfection as payment, and we’ve already tripped the breaker on that.  It dirties us and we cannot then be around a holy, perfect God while carrying that debt.  Which we can never get rid of.  So, what does sin cost?  It costs us an eternity in Heaven with the Lord.  It costs us a life of peace and joy right now.  The debt of sin weighs us down all the way to Hell.  Forever.

But not for me.

The debt of my sin is cleared.  Somebody else paid it.  He is Jesus.

He knew I couldn’t pay it.  He knew that I’d owe it.  He had this plan all along – since before the beginning of time.  He didn’t even ask me – like trying to make an exchange such as He’ll do this if I do that.  He just did it.  He is God.  He is perfect.  That only acceptable payment for sin: perfection.  And He sacrificed Himself to have my slate wiped clean.

I am a sinner.  I incurred a debt I could not pay.  Jesus stepped in and paid it for me – in full.

He paid it for you, too.  All you have to do is know that you personally owe this debt because of your sin and then ask Jesus to apply his debt forgiveness to you.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

That’s debt payment.  And, it’s forever.

That’s soul peace.  That’s soul freedom.  You see, once that debt is lifted, peace floods in.  Hope reigns in the heart.  Freedom arises to pursue pure and righteous things.  Future generations are blessed.

And, just like I shared my elation with the credit card lady, my joy and elation extends to you.  This gift is free.  You can have your debt removed.   Just ask Jesus to stamp you Paid in Full. 

That’s what Easter is: it’s when Jesus paid the bill and made me debt-free.

I am debt-free.  Thank you, Jesus. 

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The King and I

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I’ve found myself quite temperamental lately.  And this isn’t really normal for me; I’m usually pretty laid back.  At first, I thought it was hormones (not that that’s any excuse), but the month has come and gone and I just … Continue reading

Haves vs. Have Nots

Well, the neon sign is on overdrive today.  I hope it shorts out!  My brother’s girlfriend delivered a daughter this morning, and it’s all the news.

And, it should be – that’s exciting for them.  Despite their circumstances, a life is a life.  This is God’s hand shining here – only He can create.

But, what’s my obligation here?  What am I supposed to do?

I already discussed with her last week that we wouldn’t be able to go to the hospital – walking into the building and the same L&D where my sons died is simply not an option.

But watching my family rejoice is cutting to our hearts.  Where were they when our sons lived and died?  My brother came for a moment, though that little boy seems long given over to a hardened heart and that intimacy has been extinguished.  And my mom was there for a time, but that seemed more clinical.

After the boys were gone, we were alone.  Except for church friends, nobody came.  Nobody discusses them.  They don’t call them by name.  They don’t acknowledge them at gatherings or holidays.  There are no ornaments for them on the family Christmas tree like there are for all the other family members.  Except for my mom, they didn’t let my boys in their hearts.  They don’t let my sons in this family.

So watching them celebrate now, my heart is offended at their lack of acknowledging my sons for the past year.  Isaac and Samuel were born.  They are real.  They are eternally alive.

But this isn’t about me.  This isn’t about my sons.  It’s about this new little life.  And in the same way I want my sons acknowledged and celebrated, so shouldn’t this precious girl be.

How can I get my heart there, though?

I can’t.

But, I know the Lord can.

My favorite song right now is Casting Crowns’ “I Will Praise You in the Storm.”  Here are some of the lyrics:

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

Again today, that’s all I’ve got.  It hurts to watch the same people who don’t acknowledge my sons celebrate and accommodate this baby’s life.  Once again, I’m called to be the compassionate and understanding one.  Once again, I have to put aside my hurt and paste on a smile or at least not dare utter anything about my sorrow.

And Jesus did all this for me.  So I know He can do it through me.

C.S. Lewis writes, “They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”  I know this will happen.

So, what will my response be?  Mostly, it will be silence because that’s all I can bear.  It’s the most gracious response I can muster today.  God’s mercies are new every morning, so we will see what tomorrow brings.

In the meantime, how about a nod towards my boys and an utterance of their name?  Can they be part of the family too?

Do you have people in your family with infant loss?  Do you want to let them know their babies are a part of your family and matter to you?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Plant something in your garden to remember them – something beautiful that you have to care for.
  • Frame a picture of the baby or the baby’s name and meaning or maybe a poem about a baby – many are available on the internet.  Display this in your home in a prominent place.
  • Put ornaments on your tree every single year for the baby.
  • Remember – or ASK – important dates like the day the pregnancy was discovered, the baby’s birth day, the day the baby passed.  Send cards and notes to Mom and Dad on this day telling them you are remembering with them.  If there are other children, offer to baby sit so that Mom and Dad can have a “fall apart” day to themselves.
  • Write a letter to the parents explaining how you feel about the baby, about their sorrow, and how you think about the baby throughout the year.
  • Offer compassion and understanding when a celebration or child-centered event comes up.  I assure you, they are all thinking how old their child would be and what they would be doing at the event.  Even things like Arbor Day where elementary kids walk home with construction paper trees in hand are difficult.
  • Do not get in a fit when they have a harder time celebrating with you – they want to, they are working on it.  Express to them that you understand and you’re praying for them…be sure to pray for them!
  • Donate to March of Dimes or another baby organization in the name of their child.
  • If you have a child that would be related to their baby, make a onesie that says something meaningful like “little cousin” or something on there.  All of us with lost babies will put future babies in things like “little brother” – it’s a way of saying there is somebody else that’s important, too.
  • Talk about the babies.  Talk to Mom and Dad.  Talk to your kids, other relatives, and friends.  Talking about them keeps their importance up and says “we love these babes”.  Silence calls out shame, insignificance, and apathy.
  • ASK Mom and Dad how they would like their babies remembered.

If you’re really committed to pursuing intimacy with this couple, then read some books about infant loss.  My number one recommendation is I Will Carry You by Angie Smith.  Try to wrap your mind around what they’re going through and will go through the rest of their lives.  In the end, it’s intimacy in our suffering that eases our hearts.

I texted a dear friend this morning. “Will you pray for us today?  _____ had her baby and watching my family rejoice feels like a knife through our hearts.  Know God is faithful, just hurting a lot.  XX”

“We are praying now.  We love you both so much and hurt with you.  Thank you, Father, that you know. “

And that’s it: they are hurting with us and they invite the Father to be a part of it.  There can be nothing more soothing than that.