***Nine years since the first time the Loves attended Financial Peace University, Jen Love recounts the part FPU took in getting her family to AC3, and why she is going to attend FPU again starting April 30.***
“If they offer Financial Peace University, I’ll agree to go to church.” Those were my demands for our first visit to Allen Creek Community Church, nine years ago.
Along with the rest of the country, we fell on financial hard times during 2008. My husband was selling cars in an economy that wasn’t buying. I had just finished up and received a Bachelor’s degree along with significant debt while juggling childcare and kindergarten for my two young daughters; my prospects of finding a job weren’t offering any viable leads either. We were staring at a high monthly mortgage, bills, bills and more bills, late notices, phone calls all starting with 1-800, and credit cards we could barely keep up on. Deepening was the pit of depression, devoid of hope’s light.
While visiting a friend one day, I noticed a yellow and blue box with a photo of a smiling man staring up at me. “What’s Financial Peace University?” I asked her. It was a Biblical way of looking at money, she told me, and how to balance paying off debt and effective budgeting. Her church was offering the class and she had just signed up. My friend was looking for hope to manage her household along with her three-year-old after the devastating loss of her husband to cancer. She explained how she felt unprepared and a bit vulnerable when it came to finances. Looking for a financial foundation to help manage her money, she was looking forward to the class. “Here,” she handed me a promotional DVD that came with the kit.
A few weeks later I came across the DVD amongst the mountain of mail, bills and other notices. As I watched it, I caught sight of a faint glimmer of the hope I had been desperate to find. Maybe…maybe there was a crack of light peeking from under the apparently locked door.
Going to the library, I checked out every book written by Dave Ramsey, the author and leader of FPU. This was the same point in time when the bank told us they would no longer accept partial payments for our mortgage. We would soon be foreclosed upon.
I remember walking out onto our front lawn one night; with earnest prayer, I said, “God, if you want this house, take it. I’m done holding on. Please help us to get financially right.”
Soon after, we received our answer. My husband was offered a job as a marketing manager. I accepted a job with a school district. After looking for work for almost a year, these jobs BOTH came within the same week of each other. Nope, there are no coincidences when letting God be in the lead.
My husband’s job was populated with many AC3ers who all pointed him towards the church in downtown Marysville. There were neighbors who pointed us toward AC3 and then another AC3 friend from my husband’s marketing group joined the fray. The path was being lit with a neon hum.
We had attended few other church services in the past together as a married couple. But each service talked about money: Giving money, tithe, donate. Being a person who was not a regular attender of any church, nor a Christian, I thought religion was all about money. In naivety, I thought Jesus was about peace and kindness but wasn’t too interested in my money. The Sunday we decided to attend AC3, we walked into the “money” sermon once again. Only this time, we heard with different ears.
I recently discussed with a friend the difference between ‘conviction’ and ‘condemnation’. This was the most significant example I could give her of the power of conviction. The takeaway from that pivotal sermon was how God doesn’t want us to hold onto money so tightly that we don’t let Him do amazing things with what we let go of. At that moment, I realized money never worked for me because I never gave over control to God. The condemnation I always felt was that we didn’t make enough money and we just needed more income. God’s clarification versus Satan’s taunting; that’s the difference between conviction and condemnation.
Pastor Rick closed with, “We will be offering FPU for the first time at AC3.” We signed up that morning.
By reordering the way we looked at money, we were able to reorder the way we spent, the way we planned, the way we survived and became stronger, not only as a couple but now as Christians. We were able to restore our financial health by stepping onto path lit with God’s promises and hope.
It has been nine years since we attended Financial Peace University. I’d like to say, “We’re Debt Freeeeee!!!” but we’re not. We have significantly changed our habits and we have firm pavement to return to if (and when) we briefly step off the path. FPU is being offered again at AC3 and I am planning to take the class again starting April 30.
And by the way; we were not foreclosed on. But that is another story God wrote and I look forward to retelling.