Thursday, April 01, 2010

The good kind of testing:

"Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions." Exodus 16:4 (If you don't know the story, read the verses around this particular verse to see how God was asking them to trust him for daily bread- and not to store it up for a later date...)

This is my life lately, encapsulated in a single Bible verse. :)

Aimee posted about how much it sucks to live during the process of doing Dave Ramsey's plan and Laura posted about God's provision in her adoption process and I have to agree with both. But through both, it has been amazing and miraculous to see what God has done. Steve and I had a great conversation earlier in the week about it- and I keep reflecting on it all week, so I'm going to write a VERY LONG blog post about it. :)

We have been truly put to the test through this process in the area of our finances. We started out, before starting the adoption, feeling convicted about getting our finances in order, during the spring of 2008- and started on Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps . We had been doing it half-heartedly before then, but as Dave says, we got 'gazelle intense' (visualize a gazelle being chased by a cheetah!).

When Andy was diagnosed in Feb of '08 with Type 1 Diabetes, it not only rocked every part of our 'emotional world' and daily life, it wrecked our finances. We had health insurance but not 'good insurance.' I drove (in tears) to a reputable coin dealer in town, and sold 3/4 of the coins my grandfather saved and left to me when he died. We had previously talked about how we would be content to sell them to pay for adoption expenses- and how special that would be that the inheritance would be used to grow our family- but here we were, selling it to pay for medical bills.

We sold one of our two cars, sold a bunch of stuff on craigslist, stopped eating out (unless it was a secret shop), and lived (and live) on a paired down budget. We've muttered Dave's name under our breath at times, but we knew it was best to get out from the debt we were in: Credit cards (about $5K, $3K of which was the medical bills), Car loan $12K, and the last of the Student Loan from Steve's Master's degree (I don't remember how much... maybe 1 or 2K?)... So, we dug in our heels and did it- intentionally keeping our tithing/giving going strong through the whole process.

We used anniversary, birthday, and Christmas $ to pay down debt. We used tax refunds to pay down debt. We live on a VERY paired down budget and continued to pay things off/save. And girls, I'm talking about how I honestly don't remember the last pair of shoes I bought for myself... Nope- upon reflection, I bought a pair in November of 2008 but threw them out this winter because they were cheap and made my feet stink. :) Anyway- I digress.

All the while, we still felt like we were being led toward starting the adoption process - but wanted to do it without debt. So, we prayed. And, in August of 2008, sent in the adoption application with only a little over $1000 in our savings acct. And God responded. The reason we were able to start the adoption when we did, was because of a family gift to get us rolling.

Then, 7 months later, it began to look like Steve was going to lose his job. His boss came to him and suggested he look around, just in case... so we did. And, man did God provide. Not only did he get offered a job, they moved us and reimbursed EVERY expense except for things relating to the sale of our house... and now we have AWESOME health insurance coverage- for a while at least ;). We realized though that with Andy starting school, we would be unable to live on 1 car here- so we used our adoption fund to buy a $2800 car. :( But amazingly through it all, we only went a week without a paycheck.

I will admit, through all of these things, I would trust God but get discouraged in the in between times- looking at the circumstance and wondering HOW IN THE WORLD it was going to all work out??? I kept wondering why everything we would save up, would get sucked right back out of the bank account for something else! But amazingly, God came through EVERY time. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Random friends came out of the woodwork and gave us $ for the adoption, donated toward our garage sale, etc.

And- in September of 2009 the debts were ALL paid. We paid off everything but the house, and we have NO debt on the adoption process. And we got an adoption grant for more money than we had even asked for in our application!? WHAT? :)

So, when I start to worry about the next steps in the adoption, or in life for that matter, and our bank account seems like a pocket with a hole in it, I'm reminded that God has done amazing things to provide for us. He has blessed our diligence to remain out of debt and honored our desire to still be a giving family. So, it breeds a sense of expectancy in me because everything we try to 'save for tomorrow' ends up going toward something else- yet all of the adoption fees keep getting paid some other way. Its like God is being VERY intentional in showing us that WE are not doing this. HE is doing this.

I'll admit though, I'd REALLY enjoy not being in this 'manna' season where there is only enough for the day... :) Be encouraged, blog friend! God is on your side and He's moving on your behalf! Even if certain areas of your life feel like pockets with holes in them... :)

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."
-Malachi 3:10

7 comments:

Fantastic Family of 5 said...

What a powerful testimony!! Thanks for sharing and being honest,this really lifts my spirit and reminds me to trust in the Lord each day and his hand will be there to catch you.:) Gidget

jasonliberty said...

Wow, thats all I can say! You have a wonderful testimony. I know I put God in a box so many times and am actually surprised when he comes through. God is showing me my faith is weak when it comes to myself, but I can have strong faith for someone else? God wants to give us blessings!!!!

Aimee said...

VERY well said, my friend! (And I haven't forgotten about calling you... this week has been crazy!).

During the hard times, which are almost all the time, I am reminded of Psalm 37:25: "Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread."

We have a roof over our head and we have never gone hungry. We are so much more fortunate than so many.

I *completely* hear you on the medical debt! I was just telling someone today that people assume that if you have health insurance, you're ok. Well, many plans have 80/20 coverage and it doesn't take long to accumulate medical bills.

But! Look at what God has done in and through our kiddos! And look what He has taught us through our journeys! It's easy to trust Him when we don't *have* to lean on Him for our daily bread.

Terra said...

What a great lesson you are learning and yeah! on being debt free.

I remember what that was like once. We have so much debt right now and no way to get out yet. We actually went to a Christian credit counselor and laid out our finances. Their advice.... "You need to make more money!!!!" Really? You don't say? :) They couldn't find one thing to pare down in our budget, we just need the income to meet our budget. Sorry to rant, but I just feel SO guilty when others talk about the "Dave Ramsey plan" etc and right now I can't do anything like that.

But I digress... God is faithful and despite making less then half of what we need we have a house and food on the table. More importantly we have good friends... "he who has friends is never poor".

windyday said...

Love this!!!

Tanya said...

Hi Sarah!
Tanya Huerter Pruitt here! My mom directed me to your blog and commented that we are following similar paths. Yes, indeed, we are....very cool that you are in the adoption process! We just brought our son home from Ethiopia this past Aug. God is doing amazing things around the world and in our own backyards--esp. where orphans are concerned. Would love to follow along in your journey and will be praying for you as you lean on Him regarding your finances. It's funny, we have one more session to finish up the 13-week Dave Ramsey class. Good stuff!

Come "see" me at www.sixpruitts.blogspot.com

Andrea said...

Sarah- Thank you SO much for sharing this! we are in a "daily bread" season, and I was reminded of this today...thank you so much for sharing your journey...I was convicted and challenged by it!