Thursday, February 16, 2012

He's Good!

Four years ago I posted this sign on my prayer alter.

"Jesus, if you want me, I cost $108,208.53."*

I knew in my heart that Jesus wanted me to be a stay at home mother. I knew he wanted me to be prepared to home-school a future nun (my oldest daughter) up to the 12th grade. I knew he wanted me to be a hidden Carmelite devoted to prayer. And I knew, that as an adult convert, Jesus wanted my full attention to be on  reestablishing a strong family culture of Catholicism in my home.


I had these massive, massive student loans. The vast majority ($104,000) of my loans were from a Federal Program called Sallie Mae. These were my "nice loans." There are a lot of deferments and protections available in this program. Then I had my private loans. They were horrible! I'd already used up my "forebarance time". If I was sixty seconds late in a payment, they would call my house twice a day until I caught up. (Once they went so far as to scare me with "default" over a mistaken underpayment of $10!)

There were so many times as a young stay-at-home mother that I truly thought I was going to have to get a part time job at Target just to come up with the extra $250 a month to pay off my private student loans.

God bless my husband who kept trying to reason with me that taking a late night or weekend shift at Target while being pregnant and/or breastfeeding 3 new babies in four years was not a good idea.

Being of stubborn heart, I didn't listen to him!

I had to pay these loans back, right? It was my duty!

So then my husband tried another tactic. (My love is filled with wisdom of the Holy Spirit!) He kept telling me "We're okay this month. We might run into trouble next month and you might have to get a part-time job in the future. But as for right now, we're okay! We can pay your loan." And I'd reluctantly agree to drop the "help wanted" section of newspaper and go back to cooking meatloaf.

I wasn't sure how in heaven we were going to keep being okay with my lovely contribution of "giant debt/zero income". So I turned it over to prayer. Every time I got scared of our poor financial outlook, I'd kneel by my homemade sign and say "If you want me Jesus, you're going to have to pay it off. I cost  $108,208.53!"

It's so amazing. I never, ever saw a "grand plan", but step-by-step Jesus handed me the financial ability to pay off my student loans. Thanks to a new government plan the reduces your student loan payment based on income and family size, my gigantic $104,000 Sallie Mae loan will cost my family $40 a month for the next 20 years.  Afterwards, all the remaining debt is forgiven. What a blessing!

Today, without any tricks or special favors, I paid American Education Services $213.08. With that payment, I'm finished paying off the last of my "nasty" private student loans forever!

He's good that Jesus! He's good!

Loving Jesus, you want our hearts to rest in you. Help us smooth out whatever wrinkles keep us from embracing our vocation, including those evil student loans.Please give special peace to those future nuns, monks, and priests who worry about paying off their student loan debt before entering into your service.

* I wanted to add that the whole time I was in "panic debt mode" I wanted Jesus to just hand me $108,000 in ready cash so that I could pay off my student loans before committing to being a full-time, unpaid, stay-at-home mother. He didn't do that. Now I see some of that wisdom. I had to depend on my husband to come up with the money out of his, I mean, our paycheck. That inter-dependence was so healing for my marriage.
The extra burden that we had from our student loans (my hubby's is almost as awful as mine) forced us to be Carmelites that are poor in fact, as well as poor in spirit. If you haven't tried voluntary poverty for the Lord--it is super cool! There are so many countless spiritual benefits.
Finally, it's good to through the whole Suze Ormond over-planning thing out the window if you want to go on this Catholic adventure with our Lord. We're called to be prudent. Yet we're also called to step out in faith. I found that this balance often means, "I'm in the black for this month, but I have no idea how we're going to stay there one, three, or six months from now." But the Lord always provides! Either some unexpected money comes in or some threatened bill goes away.


  1. "Thanks to a new government plan the reduces your student loan payment based on income and family size, my gigantic $104,000 Sallie Mae loan will cost my family $40 a month for the next 20 years. Afterwards, all the remaining debt is forgiven. What a blessing!

    Today, without any tricks or special favors, I paid American Education Services $213.08. With that payment, I'm finished paying off the last of my "nasty" private student loans forever!"

    You have my undivided attention. I have no student loans, but my husband does. With four kids in 7 years ... what program is this? Please share!

  2. Oh happy to share this one with you Katherine!

    It's called "income-sensitive repayment". It only applies to certain types of federal stafford loans, like Sallie Mae. Here is the link to Sallie Mae

    If you went to school and took out "Stafford Loans" either subsidized or unsubsidized, those will be covered. For me, those loans covered my tuition.

    If you took out "private loans", usually used to cover living expenses while in grad school--those will not be covered by this program.

    Hope you get to do the "happy dance" today!!!

    As a special blessing, unborn babies count as your family size in this program. Hurrah! Unborn Baby Clare has been helping us lower our loan payments since September! :-)

  3. If you qualify, the program application is very easy. You can get an estimate of your new loan payment over the phone. Then you fill out a short form and send Sallie Mae a copy of your tax return.

    You need to reapply each and every year. (We missed this important detail at first).

    Make sure to count any unborn babies that will be born in the coming year as part of your "family size."

  4. Yep, I have student loans and no job, no spouse. One bill collector screamed at me saying that I signed an agreement. Well, at the time I actually had a full-time job with benefits.

    I'm thrilled there is a program that acknowledges that an unborn child is a child.

  5. Thank you for writing this!! My husband and I have a ton of debt as well. It has been a painful thing to deal with at times, but we know that we are very blessed in other ways. I am always working on embracing it as our particular suffering, but it can be so hard. So, thank you for sharing about it.

  6. Awesome, thanks! I don't know if it will apply to us or not yet. We are in deferment until my husband graduates, but we are hoping that will be this May as he is working on the last chapter of his dissertation. Definitely bookmarking it though!

  7. Our expenses after adopting Henry have been
    so far beyond what we expected...

    But every. Single. Month.

    Something happens to allow us to meet them.

    I get a call to draft a will or 2.

    The bank holding our mortgage says we qualify
    to refinance at a lower rate.

    A co-worker of my husband's who retired 4 years
    ago hears about Henry and sends us a check
    for $500.

    He is always faithful.

    Carla -

  8. That's great news!! Ours were previously consolidated and aren't owned by the gov't any longer. I'm guessing that makes us ineligible.

    I LOVE your perspective and prayer. I need to do that more often.

  9. WOW...this is Beyond Amazing.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread Under His Arm, indeed!

    Or something like that. It is a Spanish Saying!

  10. what an inspiration for those of us who are in debt. We embrace our poverty and somehow, the Lord comes through for us every month.

  11. I was going to mention this to my son-in-law who's got a bunch of school debt. Then today I found out that people who work for the Church are excluded. Since he is superintendent of a Church cemetery, I guess that means him.

  12. So today I get a phone call on my case against
    the homeowner who did not tie up their dog so
    it came running from behind the house into
    the street and chased me and bit my hand
    and thigh last May...

    The week after Henry's 5 day hospitalization,
    his first in 2012, with all the necessary deductibles
    and co-pays...

    I am getting $3000 for my injury.

    The world would say co-incidence...

    I BELIEVE Divine Providence!!!

    Carla - Henry's mom

  13. Thank you! Yes, God does provide. Soon I will need to begin paying my loans. It is daunting to think of all the bills I will be paying on my own, but Jesus does provide in so many ways! We need only ask!