We just got home from a celebration. A family trip yes, but to us a celebration that was 10 years in the making. Ten years ago we started a journey to become debt free. We were under debt from school loans, car loans, credit cards and the bondage of not knowing how to live within our means. God was gracious to us.
Around the time we started the debt free journey, I was also pregnant with our first son. Looking back, I’m so grateful that it was the moment that set our lives in a different direction. Saying yes to a debt free lifestyle meant saying no to a lot of things we wanted, and thought maybe in some way we were entitled to because we saw others in our age group having them. We had to sacrifice a lot. I think mentally it was more challenging than any physical item we had to give up, or say no to at that time. There were tears. There were arguments. More from me, who held tightly to our old standard of spending what we didn’t have. When we started spending what we did have, well, it wasn’t much.
Right in the thick of our debt free journey we celebrated our 4 year anniversary. We didn’t have children yet, and we didn’t have much to set aside for any kind of trip. But we budgeted a meager portion so we could make a trip to somewhere not too far. We chose Asheville, NC. A quick overnight trip to a little Bed and Breakfast in a very scenic mountain town. We drove the Blue Mountain Parkway, we saw a bear. We took silly photos together. We walked around the city hand in hand sharing a coffee between us. And we chose lunch at a little restaurant we had heard about from Rachel Ray on T.V. called, The Early Girl Eatery. Our lunch probably cost under $10 for the both of us (if that), because we didn’t have much to spend for food. Jonah had a biscuit and jelly (their jelly is a selling a point to their restaurant), and I a salad.
I don’t remember much else from that trip, aside from the pictures we took while we were there, and the few memories I mentioned above. It was the start of something though. I didn't know then, but now I can sit and look back and see what God was doing. What He was about to do. And it wasn’t going to take a week. Or a month. Or even a year. It would be a decade. Ten whole years until I could look behind me and see that our lives were leading here. To this day, to this point.
I get sentimental, emotional, grateful when I stop and think about what God does in our little lives.
This week we took a trip with our three boys back to that mountain town.
We stayed in a cabin that overlooked some Blue Ridge peaks. We visited the Biltmore and explored the grounds and gardens, absolutely in awe of the beauty of spring flowers and everything green. The cool winds and warm sun on our skin, and the time we had to meander at our own pace taking it all in. Watching our boys observe and delight in flowers, because we’ve grown and cultivated a love for beauty and outdoors, nature and God’s creation. We watched the animals on the farm there, and listened to the sheep bellowing out over the pasture. It was serene and beautiful. All those years leading up to now. When we didn’t have much money, but we had riches. In our time together. Our creativity in finding ideas to do things with our family that didn’t cost much. And seeing the fruit of that as we walked the grounds.
We enjoyed ice-cream, and buying treats for the boys too. Finally saying yes when we have said no, for ten years was an experience we will always remember.
And finally we took the boys back to that little restaurant we ate at all those years ago. So poor back then, and now so rich. Not in money, but in so much we’ve learned on this journey. We crossed the milestone this year into hitting our debt free mark. And with that came this celebration but also a new journey. We’ve changed the family tree and pray our boys walk with wisdom as they handle their own money. That they steward what God gives them and always give generously.
I’m grateful tonight for a renewed vision. It was hard this past decade in a lot of places. But it was good. It was so good, because God knows we needed those ten years to learn what we have. And we are still learning. This trip was so memorable. It was so much fun, and so sweet to look back on this journey and ahead to the next. Wherever God leads us, I’m ready and I’m eager. I know another ten years will go too quickly. Our lives will look so different in another decade. But God is faithful and I’m not fearful but expectant. To You Lord be the Glory, great things You have done.
Oh and one more thing, Jonah did get a biscuit this time. But he got two, instead of one. Thats what it’s all about ;)