Friends! Today, I PAID OFF THE REMAINING BALANCE OF $77.61 IN COLLECTIONS from my blood clot!

Today, I was set free of a debt that once felt like it was drowning me.

Today, I was reminded that we can conquer small things that seem DAUNTING and HUGE! Today, we Brenners are free of a debt that was a result of me almost dying!

And the story goes: Monday October 4, 2010, I fell on my walk home from Fred Meyers. I know right? Fell. The muscles on the right side of my body were extremely tight the entire precious week. My muscles were full of knots and my breathing stabbed my lungs. I was fatigued like never before.

As I crawled into bed that evening, somewhat early, I wore a crazy patterned pink GoodWill sweater over a long sleeved shirt. {I am a warm body, so this was rare for me}. I had on red and blue plaid male boxers {they were comfy}. I tell you, because I will never forget the details of this day. I pulled twice the amount of covers over me as I lay there shivering, crying myself to sleep, hoping the pain in my body and breathing would subside. What seemed to be 3 hours, was actually 1 hour, of me attempting to sleep but only sobbing; I decided I should drive myself to the emergency room.

As I slowly crawled out of my top bunk, I walked through the study room in quite a haze. My newest friend and one of my first official roommates in college, Haley, saw me trembling as I grabbed my keys.

This is Haley & it is her birthday today:

She noted my lips & nail beds blue and insisted she drive me to the hospital {neither of us knew where this hospital was in this new college town}. As she frantically called her friend Brett, he somehow guided us in the dark via cell phone.

We parked. We walked to the wrong door, which was actually locked. We stared inside. Out of nowhere a lady with blonde curly hair & a red jacket touched the door, opened it, turned around & left. Obviously, she is now known as my angel. We ran to the check in and after a late night of tests, finally found the nemesis trying to take my life:

A massive blood clot, completely blocking my right lung as well as a many number {maybe 50} of minor blood clots floating around my left lung, ready to lodge at any minute.

[Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms]

I was diagnoised with two different blood clotting disorders. {They don't affect me on an average day, currently - life could be bad. I have a great and blessed life.} Haley stuck with me late into the, the early morning.

I remained in the hospital that week. I was a prideful and angry sun of a gun, "not wanting" visitors. "Not wanting" balloons or get well cards. I was stuck in the mud of pride, confusing it with false humility. A whole different post and learning experience in itself. I barely got sleep that week. I spent a lot of time writing letters to the nurses, thanking them. I cried a lot. It was a week of emotion. Then again, I'm always having emotional weeks. I am a giant emotion.

A miscommunication happened: one of my parents told me they would be sure to pay off the medical bill. Unknown to me, I was being sent bills to their house for months, and no payments were made. The bills were in my name, I was 18+. If anyone has any experience with this, you know that the hospital ends up sending it to collections, when no contact has been responded to.. You also know that no one really let's you know; it just sits & collects a lot of interest.

A year later, September of 2011, I went to apply for a credit card to begin building my credit. To my shock, I was declined with this reason "outstanding medical debt." I remember staring at that statement.

I stared.

Then, my eyes filled with tears.

I called the hospital and they gave me the debt collectors phone number. The medical bill had gone from $1500 to $2400. And the interest rate was high. By this time in life, I was a full time student at OSU and working at least 40 hours a week, night shift, as a caregiver. I was barely making ends meet and was overwhelmed by this shock. It was one of those moments you are sure you can't go on. You only see darkness. You see no hope. You feel alone and lost and empty.

Once I calmed down enough to pray, I found peace. I put on my big girl pants and set up a payment plan. The lowest payment they would take was $50 a month, or they could increase the interest rate 3% and lower my payment to $25. I took the latter option.

Eventually I was able to increase the monthly payment to $50, and in the last 9 months, $100. We wanted to get rid of it as fast as we could because of the high interest rate.

When I called today I was paying my second to last payment of $100. Or so I thought. When she declared that I only had a remaining balance of $77.61, I jumped with complete victory. She unleashed squeals of joy and freedom found in releasing this looming bill that I once saw as impossible and daunting. Everyone at Jiffy Lube heard of this victory. I made sure of it. Although this was not my biggest debt I have paid off {school was!}, it was the biggest victory. This debt came at me with a shock that felt like deep betrayal. It came at a time of already-darkness, with my parents divorce deep in loom. This debt felt like a trap and chains, it was suffocating me with fear the moment I learned of it & its interest rate. School was different  -  I had known it was going to happen. I am in awe at the way Jesus releases us and frees us and glorifies Himself in the ways He provides.

One minor side note: the timing of paying off this bill was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Our income is adjusted slightly, come June. I was slightly nervous about this. But let's just say, Jesus always provides. He always works in mysterious and majestic ways. He never fails. I don't know why I allow myself to worry, ever.

Friend. Keep on going. Keep on making those payments. You will conquer the looming debt! It is quite freeing to let loose those weights that try to hold you down. It is such joy to see how far Jesus has carried us in small things like finances.

And always, always remember: money is not what sustains you. Money is not what gives you life. Money is not what brings hope and joy. Jesus is.

Some ways we personally steward our money with a low income: •We budget, using the envelope & jar system, only paying with cash >> we often make ourselves leave our cards at home, so we don't spend unnecessarily

•We are a one car family and ride our bikes & walk as much as possible. Less gas money, less insurance payment, less maintenance, etc.

•We don't have an internet bill, which also means we don't have a Netflix or Hulu bill

•We eat out no more than 2-3x a month

•We meal plan - and eat left overs for lunch

•We keep a Gifts For Others Jar for birthdays, anniversaries, and random blessings

•We plan for things in advance {as best we can}: we are going to Boise at the end of this month. So for April & May's paychecks, we saved $50 from each paycheck, cut back on our coffee dates, and now have money to go! We also have a Car Tires Jar that we stick $10-20 in each month, so when the time is here, we will at least have something ready!

We don't feel restricted by this. We feel freed and find adventures through it.

I am so passionate about stewarding our money well. I fully believe in Gods power to use it for His glory. Fully and 100%. I want to be available to be used with all of our resources. And what freedom to not be buried in debt! Growing up, there were days without power because the bill couldn't be paid...among other things. I want to fight that life style by blessing Jesus with the way we use His provision.

We have learned time and time again that life isn't predictable. Money doesn't sustain us. We don't depend on money for security; but we do what we can to save for what we know is happening, rather than spend on things before our eyes. Life doesn't always go as planned, but we plan anyways. We have found such freedom in not having internet - we read, we walk, we run, we chat. We don't have to pay for it.

This isn't what a lot of people choose. And that is 100% completely okay with me. If it weren't, I would be out of friends.

How do you manage the money given to you? Do you have any tips or victory stories?

See our Budget Page.

I am willing to talk numbers and would be honored to help you set up your own budget / money system. Email me via the CONTACT ME Page.

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