we had only been married 2 months when we bought the stretch-n-grow frisco franchise. it was a big decision, a big risk, and a big amount of debt. luckily, i married a man who did not have any debt from school because he worked hard and didn’t take out any loans. i was blessed to have parents who paid for my college, so this was our only debt. we prayed a lot, sought wise counsel, and in the end, made the first payment in november. right from the beginning, we saw evidences of Providence. the couple we purchased the franchise from set up a 2 year payment plan between us, no interest. at the end of the 2 years if we paid the minimum set amount each month, we would have had a balance of around $11,000. if business was good and we were able to pay above the minimum, we could get it done in two years. if we had a balance at the end of the 2 years, then interest would begin. they also gave us all of the equipment needed, which was virtually brand new and enough to supply about 5 employees. the big kicker was this: i only inherited 2 schools, and income was only about $500-$600 per month. i had my work cut out for me to grow this thing, but i knew i could do it and i had a supportive husband who believed i could do it too.
those first 6 months were the worst. THE WORST. i had people tell me this, but living it is something different. seeing as though it was on odd time of year to get new schools being in the middle of a semester, i was getting nervous. we were barely making those payments of $500 the first 3 months. in february i got a crazy ear infection and had to go to the ER. ER bill plus medication with crappy insurance was not a good combination. i distinctly remember one morning after that, we were getting ready to go to jupiter house to meet with some people, and jonathan came in to our room and said, “we only have $24 in our account right now.” i slightly freaked out in my mind but kindly asked why, and his response was, “because we’re poor babe.” i just couldn’t help but laugh. this i believe was Providence. we were told that the first year of marriage was hard because most newlyweds argue about finances. i have to say, we obviously struggled, but we never argued about it. finances were a stress, but it didn’t play out as stress between us. and i am so thankful for that, because there are so many people who get divorced for that reason. business payments were supposed to increase to $750 in march, and i wasn’t sure we were going to be able to do it. in one day at the end of february though, i came home so encouraged. i had booked two big accounts for the summer after much persistence. as i was telling jonathan i opened up a card i got in the mail. when i opened it, $200 cash fell out. the card was blank, and we didn’t know anyone from that return address. ANYONE. we were dumbfounded. racking our brains trying to think who would do this, who could we thank because very, very few knew that we were struggling financially. well we never figured it out, so if you are reading this and it was from you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. we made the $750 payment in march.
march-may was better since i had gotten 2 new schools. in may i was worried again, because payments from june on out were $1,000 per month. that is a lot of money. my husband is a social worker, we were new business owners, we weren’t banking. summer thankfully, is the best time of the year (i think everyone knows my love-hate relationship with it at this point). i went from 2 schools, to 4 schools in march, to 8 schools by june, to 10 schools by august. Providence. over the summer we were able to pay a little more than the minimum. all i was doing was being persistent with schools, some it only took me going to them once, others it took 6 times. i got my degree in social work, not business, so this was a learning experience for me too. we were doing ok during this time, but then in the winter my car started to go crazy. that thing became a pit of repair. we were dipping into savings, and in january came a huge blow. after going to 3 different places, our car (let me remind you, we only have one car) needed a major repair. when jonathan told me how much, we were on our way to elder led prayer. a $3,200 repair. i just started crying. how the heck were we going to pay for this plus $1,000 per month business payment?
this was a huge turning point for us. that month was the most stretching, humbling month. what i learned that month was trust. He had been faithful to provide every month so far, why should this be different? i was constantly praying for providence, but at this point i learned to pray for trust in His providence. He’ll provide what you need no matter what. the question is whether or not you trust that He’ll take care of you. that’s what i learned (and am still learning). and of course, He did just that. we told our home group to pray for us, didn’t tell anyone any amounts on anything. we were just concerned because we were basically going to be draining our savings and maxing out 2 credit cards to pay for this. that friday i went to meet with an older friend. when i walked in she handed me a card and just told me to open it later. we sat down and she asked how we were doing, so i was candid and told her everything. my anxiety, amounts and all. at that point she stopped me and told me she really didn’t want to be there for it, but she felt like i needed to go ahead and open the card. i did, and in it was a folded check. i read the message first, saying that they prayed about it and felt like their money is not their own, and this is what the Lord wanted them to do. i opened the check…and it was for $3,000. i just started bawling. she told me that she and her husband knew we needed help, and wanted to give us something, so they started praying and asking for a specific amount. initially, they were going to give $1500, but then felt like they needed to double it. they had no idea, no one had any idea how much we needed. but God knew how much we needed. i can easily say this with confidence: if they had not been so open-handed and generous (completely for His glory and not their own), there is no way we could have paid the business off this year. no way. that moment taught me so much. do you know how humbling it was for us to take $3,000, and they had no intention of us ever paying them back? from that moment alone, i learned what one of my favorite verses in Acts meant: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32) we could never thank them enough for just being the church to us.
God continued to provide with more kids and more schools. by august of this year i had 15 schools. we were able to pay above the minimum most months, and i had been confident we would be able to pay it off in november until the end of september rolled around. though we were ahead of the plan, we were still thousands of dollars off. after our october payment, we still needed $7,300 by november 15th. i was still praying for trust, providence, and satisfaction even if it meant we would have to pay interest for a few months (we just wanted to avoid it). jonathan started talking to our financial advisor and we came up with a plan. we could pay $4,300 between my paycheck and some savings, $2500 out of our ROTH IRA without being taxed, and $500 from the business. really up until the day of, we still weren’t sure it was going to be possible because of all the transferring that needed to move around. but it happened. that day i cried on and off out of pure joy and complete amazement until we took those last checks to them. He had answered a prayer that we had been praying for solidly for 2 years.
so that’s our story. to all my friends and family who faithfully prayed for us, for those of you who bought me lunch, paid for my latte, and those cheerful givers, we are forever grateful to you. thank you for loving us well during this difficult, yet wonderful season. for those of you who are battling your own debt right now, i hope our story was a source of encouragement to you-that we have a Father who takes care of us and whose Providence is perfect.