Come, Rejoice with Us!

Last April, Kathy and I performed a comprehensive review of our finances. We discovered that we had allowed our consumer debt to slowly increase, month after month, to the point that we owed nearly $20,000 on various credit cards. Although we own both of our aging vehicles ‘free and clear’, we had made a practice of living above our means on a monthly basis. In just a few years of self-indulgence, we grew our indebtedness into a substantial millstone, hanging around our necks.

our mountain

Our debt seemed mountain high.

“We’ve got to do something,” Kathy implored me.

My wife is the more fiscally-conservative in our marriage. Debt bothers her more than it does me, and (although she can spend some serious money at a Target sale quicker than you can say “50% off”) she inherited many good financial habits from her thrifty parents.

Although I also am blessed with parents who are frugal, money has sometimes come easily to me, and so I can be a little cavalier about it. “Easy come, easy go,” I sometimes think. Blessed with the gift of generosity, I don’t always draw a clear distinction between giving to others and giving to myself.

Over the past ten months, we have seen the hand of the Lord time and time again in the area of finances. In spite of unexpected expenses and repairs, we’ve made steady progress on reducing our indebtedness. Each time that we have faced a hurdle in expenses, God has provided a way to overcome that difficulty without going further into debt.

Finally, the day arrived: our tax refund was deposited into our account, and we were able to pay off the last of the remaining debt.

No more debt!
Our debt is finally gone, after eleven months of God’s goodness!

As soon as I woke up, I fired up my computer to check to see if the promised deposit was there. “Did the money arrive?” Kathy asked, before I had finished logging in.

“I hope so … hold on … YES!” I checked again, just to be sure.

We gathered the kids and I let Kathy push the ‘Continue’ button on the funds transfer. “As of this moment, we don’t owe anyone anything except for mortgage debt,” I announced. Technically, I was wrong, since we still have another kind of debt:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. — Romans 13:8

Kathy and the kids trundled off to co-op, but I found my mind circling back to this startling truth: we don’t have any more debt hanging over us! It felt strange, as it does when you’re in college and your last paper is turned in and your last final is complete, and Summer Break has begun.

My mind turned to consider the parable of the lost coin. In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story about a woman who loses a coin, and then finds it again:

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

We thought about having a party, and inviting all the people we know, to rejoice with us. Not to boast, but simply to celebrate. It wouldn’t be a fancy party (since we’re staying on a budget), but it might be an opportunity to encourage others. “If Tim and Kathy could do it,” people might say to themselves, “then surely anyone can get out of debt.”

a girlie tea party

Not our actual party. A Valentine’s Day tea party.

So we’re having a party.

‘Open House’ format, from 4 pm to 8 pm on Saturday, March 7th. Games, fellowship, food and fun.

If you read this blog and know where we live, consider yourself invited. Come, rejoice with us!

david is 8 years old!

We won’t make you wear the party hat unless it’s your birthday.

Please bring something tasty to share, and also write down (on a 4 x 6 card or something) an idea you have used to help save money (or avoid spending it altogether). We’ll compile the ideas, print ‘em out and make them available to the contributors, sort of like compiling a stewardship cookbook.

A time to celebrate!


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35 thoughts on “Come, Rejoice with Us!”

  1. Thanks so much for the invitation. We can’t be there in person, but we do rejoice with you! Thank God for helping you remain faithful. Now the question screams out — what next? Maybe we can send you an idea via e-mail so we can benefit from all those great ideas folks will share.

  2. Whoo hoo!!!!
    Snoopy Dance, Snoopy Dance!!!!! ( the Peanuts dog of course, NOT the rapper. :) )
    Soooooooo, approximately how long will it take to save up the newly-freed-from debt funds for a visit to your pining-for-a-great-game-night-and meaningful-face-to-face-conversation-with-dear-friends-from-home friends?
    (without incurring more debt of course). hehehe

  3. Can we call and make a phone appearance at your party? Just for a few minutes to say hi and celebrate and praise God with you? You know we would be there in a heartbeat if we we could.

  4. Congratulations indeed!

    You and your family made short work at conquering that mountain! Well done!

    Are you all continuiing on to the remaining baby steps? We are currently on Step 3 of Ramsey’s plan. We started in February of 2008. It has been quite a ride but has offered a measure of peace during these times of financial panic.

    I raise a glass in celebration with you!


  5. CONGRATULATIONS! Doesn’t it feel great?! We, too, now owe only for our house, having paid the last on Tom’s new car last week. Wahoo!!

  6. WHOO! Congrats guys! $20,000 in 11 months is GREAT! I guess I will be hearing you scream “I’M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” this week with Dave Ramsey!

  7. Congrats! and Praise God for His faithfulness to you guys! (love to see that mtn) we are still on our debt reducing plan and you are an inspiration to us. if tim and kathy can do it, so can we!

  8. Great job you guys!! If only we lived in Washington…we would definitely be there! God is glorified in your faithfulness and diligence. Have FUN!

  9. Congratulations!! I am so very proud of you all.

    Wish I could be there for hugs and games. I love you.

    Aunt Kate

  10. Well done, faithful servants. I might try to drop by if it means the potential for some bean action. You do still wager large sums of money on the outcomes of farming, right?

  11. CONGRATULATIONS, the two of you! You have been faithful in paying off your debts and God has been there with you each step of the way. We’re still on that road, but every time we chip away at it, it makes such a difference in our marriage. Have a wonderful time at your open house… truly a reason to celebrate. Are you going to call in to Dave Ramsey’s radio show and shout “I’M DEBT FREE!”???

    And I love that you gathered your kids to witness your final debt payoff… that’s something they will remember for a long time, if not the rest of their lives.

  12. Wow!! Thats awesome! The party sounds like lots of fun! Are you going to play Bohnanza?? If I can get there, I’m coming!!!

  13. Congrats to you all, and please estimate how long it would take for you to raise enough money for some tickets to get here. If its after next June then just use it yourself, if you can save that amount up before June, come on over. But still congrats.

  14. I am giddy with delight for you! Praise the Lord!

    But, alas, although I do live within a range of stopping in, I will not be at your open house. Even if you did want to hand your home address over to this complete stranger, we have our own celebration happening at the same time. Our two year journey of building a new home has come to an end. Move in date: March 7th. Yippee. Yay!

    Many Blessings,

  15. CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you for being so willing to share all of this with everyone. It’s a touchy subject, but you both handled it with honesty and grace. Praise the Lord!

  16. Thank you for all the wonderful cheer and congratulations! It means so much to us to have friends and family and cyber friends join us in our celebration.

    We definitely give all the glory to God! He showered us with blessings and enabled us to work on diligently.

  17. WOW! That is AWESOME! Paying that much off in less than a year is HUGE! We’ve lived debt free for all of our 24 years except about 6 or 8 months total. It is a great feeling! So, will you increase your monthly lifestyle now or keep saving at that payoff debt rate toward the other Ramsey suggestions?

  18. YEAH!!!!!!!!! So, so, so excited for you guys!! I wish we could come and help you celebrate! That is wonderful, and you are an incredible example to the rest of us debt dwellers. Eleven months is amazing. We’re hoping we can get out this year!! I’m dancing for you. :)

  19. Since we can’t make it, I’ll have to share my frugality tip now. This year we’ve made every Monday “bean night”. You can eat at least dinner and the next day’s lunch from a $1 bag of dried beans. My highest praise so far came from a recipe for “sloppy lentils”. As we were eating and enjoying, Phillip told me – “I saw the recipe on the counter and I thought this would be gross. It’s actually pretty good.” That made it an instant “keeper” for me.

  20. How wonderful you guys! Congrats -what an amazing thing! This IS call for celebration. This is crazy birthday celebration weekend for us but if we are able to sneak away after the festivities we will try and make it! I miss your delightful spirit Kathy and all the joy and fun of your family! Soooooo excited for you all! YEA! I hope we are able to connect!

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