This very personal blog is written to inspire others. I promise . . . if I can do it, you can do it.
I've been blogging for almost 10 years.
I first started blogging because I had a goal. I wanted to someday write THIS blog. I knew if I started writing things down, I'd grow. I'd think more clearly. I'd take personal responsibility for some things where I needed improvement. I'd be accountable to a huge (but very kind) audience. In the process I might become a better writer. But most importantly, I wanted to set a good example for others, specifically my own two children. So, that's why I started blogging.
Today is the day I finally get to share what's been on my mind all these years.
My very first memory of learning about bills and finances was at the kitchen table with my dad. I was probably 8 years old and he got out his pile of monthly bills and the checkbook. He taught me how to look at the bill and write out the check, put it in the envelope, address it, place a stamp on it and mail it. I specifically remember that there weren't many checks he had to write. I do remember that they always wrote out a "church check" for the upcoming Sunday. They faithfully tithed and I saw my Dad drop that check in the "collection plate" every Sunday.
It's a good memory for me.
I don't ever remember my parents using a credit card for anything. Maybe they did, but it wasn't a common practice. And if they did, I'm certain they paid it all off on a timely basis. They didn't take out bank loans.
My Dad started his own paralegal business when I was in high school, and I remember our family being on a very strict budget. We lived very simply. We went out to lunch after church on special days, and oh was that a treat. (Growing up in Reno, there was something amazing about casino food and buffets.)
We always took a little (modest) summer vacation. Typically we'd drive in our station wagon over the hill to San Francisco. We always had presents under the tree at Christmastime . . . of course some years were better than others. But we never felt like we were "doing without." My parents were middle America . . . young, hard-working, PTA members and church-going dreamers. Of course your background always makes up who you are today. Mine certainly did. I absolutely love where I came from.
I've always been ambitious. And I've always had a good job. One thing I know how to do is work hard (both Tim and I are just wired that way). So when the Dayton's part-time job landed for me, I turned my $20/hour ($560 a week) job into the land of opportunity. As many of you know, CDs were recorded and I started publishing my music. We started touring, and before we knew it, Lorie Line Music was a million dollar company.
When you are an entrepreneur, most of the time you "invest in yourself" and you "invest in your business." (How many times have you heard that famous line?) We grew so fast we thought it wise to have a (million dollar) line of credit from the bank. Touring is very expensive. We'd borrow, pay it back, borrow again, pay it back. We continued to grow and thrive. The more we made, the more we could borrow. I was being responsible, right? Banks (plural) loved us.
In 2002, Lorie Line Music was awarded Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year. It's a very coveted prize. We were on cloud nine.
Here's where we went wrong.
We thought it would never end.
The great recession came in 2008 and somehow we survived (but we were miserable). And then, two short years later (2010) the music industry shut down. CDs would no longer be sold to consumers. Music retail stores virtually closed their doors over night. And all of our inventory was returned to us.
Now we were going to now make our money doing something so foreign to us that I didn't quite understand it at first. Streaming. We'd now make 1/1000th of a penny if a song got played digitally. (It would take years to see a healthy check . . . if ever.)
Everything came to a screeching halt. A great recession and the crash of the music business all within two years. (What else could possibly go wrong? Ha. . . you know the story is not over.)
Trust me. We would have been fine . . . had we not owed any money to anyone. But we did. And now we were stuck. And we were going to lose it all.
I was recording the album Serendipity at that time. I remember one early morning I came down the stairs to get a cup of coffee and the sun was pouring into all the windows. It was a spiritual moment for me as reality set in. I was going to have to say goodbye to this beautiful home. I was all by myself and was totally overcome with grief. Right then and there, I stood in that sunlight and prayed for God to hear me. I promised that if He would give me another chance, I would be a good steward of everything He gave me.
I went upstairs and showered. That day I wrote and recorded "Casa Blanca Me Encanto." The white house that I love.
Tim and I decided to change. To make new habits. (I grew up knowing this as repentance.) We had been so proud of all our accomplishments, but now we were ever so humbled. We were going to turn and walk down a new road.
It was so painful. But today as Tim and I look back, we both know all of this was meant to be.
Because . . . in the process of our struggles, we were richly blessed. Here we were, scared and desperate, and yet together we found something ever so priceless. Something more important to us than anything and everything.
Yes, we were reacquainted with an old friend . . . someone who would wipe away all our tears. Someone who paid it all.
What a friend we have in Jesus . . . all our sins and griefs to bear . . .
We mounted up. And put on the armor of God.
So I'd heard about this Dave Ramsey guy and his FINANCIAL FREEDOM program. We picked up his book THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER and started reading out loud in the car when we'd drive. I didn't have to go far into the book to see what we had to do and how to do it. We could do this! OMG. Can we do this? Will I live long enough to make this new financial freedom thing happen? Dave says it takes nine years to get things straighted out when you are in a mess. Nine years? That would be 2019. OK. But we weren't the "typical" client with a little mess. We had a big mess. It would take us longer.
We'd work harder.
And so it began. First, every credit card was paid off. Then we sold everything we didn't need (including three investment properties) and simplified. We had an Ebay site that helped to support us and it profited us six figures the first year. We parted with anything and everything that would produce income. (We hired an Ebay manager because it was such a big project!) We let go of some things I really loved. Esmeralda (my white concert grand piano) was sold and shipped to a buyer in Hong Kong. Who needs two concert grand pianos? I'll keep the one I love.
The last thing we sold was my wedding ring. (You may have noticed it hasn't been on my hand in any photography for several years.) I promised myself I wouldn't be sad when I took it off my finger and shipped it in a small box to someone I didn't even know. In a weird way, I didn't want it anymore. It was too fancy. I was different now.
We woke up one day . . . and it was 2019. Nine years had passed. And here we were, still in our home that we loved.
God heard my prayer. We were going to make it.
That year we came home from the holiday tour feeling pretty good. We could taste it. We were going to be totally debt free. The following week, January 7, 2020 (10 years now) I walked into the bank and made the final payment on our last bank loan. I had Tim take a picture of me with the final check in hand so that I would never forget this day.
All of the Dave Ramsey items were now completely checked off the list. I started thinking about writing this blog. We were debt free.
And then . . . BAM!!! Yep. The story continues. (What else could possibly go wrong?)
The pandemic hit.
We were once again terrified. We'd come so far!
Our business shut down for two years. (Many of you prayed for us. I can't thank you enough.)
I don't know how we did it, but we survived. With no touring income, we reinvented ourselves in many ways to keep our business going. Today I know the only way we made it was having no debt when we came home from that tour. We were able to hang on for two years!
But now that I think about it, it's a pretty simple solution to a problem. No debt equals no bills.
I thank God every day for answering my prayer. I will never forget that vivid morning when I stood in the ray of sunlight . . . which sometimes feels like yesterday and other days feels like a hundred years ago.
Today I reflect back on my childhood at that kitchen table with my dad. I now have a very small pile of bills every month. And oh is it ever so wonderful.
I don't know the future. It is scary writing this because you just never know. We still could lose it all. The world is a mess. Our country is a mess. We could face WWIII, a plague, a great depression, another recession (experts say this is coming end of the year), a nuclear bombing, a cyberattack, sickness, famine, a severe energy crisis, chemical warfare, another pandemic. (I believe we will continue to face hard times for several years now.) Mount up.
One thing is for sure . . . we're all living a different reality these days and we all know that nothing is for sure anymore.
But one thing I do know. . . I will keep my promise to be a good steward of all that He has given me for the rest of my life.
The above photo was taken on January 7, 2020 in front of our local bank. The check in my hand was our final payment on our last bank loan.
Today all Lorie Line Music projects and tours are self-funded.
Ms. Line now wears an OURA ring on her wedding finger which has a small computer chip in it to track exercise and sleep. Her sleep patterns most nights are "optimal."
Through perseverance, hard work, creativity and answered prayers, Lorie Line Music is once again a million dollar company.