Amber and I got married when we were 21 years old in a church that we never attended by a pastor we never really knew. The first five years of marriage we practically lived separate lives. Amber was at Veterinary school as I traveled with my company. We barely saw each other, rarely had dinner together, definitely didn’t go to church together, and were utterly unprepared for our future.
But despite our busy schedules and the chaos of life, life seemed fine. We went out with friends, dreamt of our future, and went about our days without a second thought of what the future may hold for us. We eagerly waited for the day that Amber graduated Vet school, knowing that after that, our lives would become a bit more stable. But what we hadn’t thought of was the mountain of debt that came along with her diploma.
$110,000. It didn’t seem real. But everyone has student debt, right? So that was par for the course. And since we’re a young married couple, we should buy a house, right? Add that to our tab. And let’s not forget about the $30,000 loan for two cars and the potential of our family growing.
Hindsight is 20/20.
We were blessed by a God we didn’t really know with a healthy pregnancy, but cursed by my own hubris when I lost my job a month before our firstborn son was due. The calm on Amber’s face when I told her scared me more than anything. With a storm cloud of debt hovering above us, I found another job and our first son was born. When our second son was born a short time later, we decided to sell our house and move home to Michigan. But the house wouldn’t sell. Student loans, hospital bills, car loans, and now two house payments. What were we supposed to do? Hide it? Ask for help?
We went with the former. With no money in our bank account, we threw ourselves a little homecoming party. I put all the food and drinks on a credit card, and put on a smile. We walked from room to room greeting our guests and making the usual conversation. But beneath our smiles there was nothing but shame. Was this our rock bottom? Drowning in debt and lying about it? How could we let this happen? All this time we had no control over our own money, and there was just no way we could run away from it anymore.
It was around that time that we were expecting our third son, and I had started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio. It sounded like his class, Financial Peace University, could be our last hope. We looked online for where we could attend, and ended up signing up for the class at Radiant solely because they offered childcare.
The moment we walked into Radiant we knew it was different than any church we had been to before. The atmosphere, the friendly faces, the worship—it was all better than we could have hoped for. That first day we walked in with shame and embarrassment, but we walked out with hope! We realized that we weren’t alone, and that with love, faith, and hard work, we could make it through.
We started attending regularly on Sundays and immediately saw God’s active work in our lives. We responded wholeheartedly to the altar call and prayed with the ministry team. As we opened up about our finances and marriage, we began to realize that the impossible was possible! The support and practical help we so desperately needed was available to us, and it changed our world.
Financial Peace University and the Radiant community helped us turn things around. Our unsold house issue finally got resolved, we paid for our cars in full, and our kids began to form beautiful relationships with Jesus Christ. We completed our debt-free journey in the fall of 2015 and even got to share the news on Dave Ramsey’s radio show!
Amber and I were baptized in 2016, have since coordinated two classes of FPU at Radiant, and have hosted Fearless, Storytellers, and Breakthrough Community Groups in our home. We’ve come to know a relational God who we realize spoke to us for years even when we weren’t able to hear Him. We now know and love a God who is ready to welcome home prodigals. And it’s all thanks to a class that just so happened to fit our schedule and need for childcare.
Once upon a time we would have thought that this was all just a funny coincidence.
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