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November 2010 Issue

The Silent Path to Foreclosure

By Quianna Nicole Stokes

“Don’t tell God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big your God is.”

United Methodist Women member Dianna Woodlon used these words to get through one of the most trying times of her life. When response first spoke to Ms. Woodlon, she was trying to figure out how she would pay her mortgage (See January 2009 response). After taking what turned out to be not so great advice from a trusted source, Ms. Woodlon found herself in a place she had never imagined: facing home foreclosure.

Like many other Americans, Ms. Woodlon was left with a ton of debt and no way to pay after refinancing her home with an adjustable rate mortgage that only adjusted up, as it was packaged with similar loans and sold to investors around the world in a process that enriched the coffers of many banks, mortgage companies and hedge-fund managers before a domino effect in defaults triggered the largest economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression. Even after receiving generous donations and a slew of advice from members of her unit and congregation at Locus United Methodist Church in Columbia, Md., she did not have enough money to keep up with the mortgage payments. Hidden fees, fine print and undisclosed information left the widowed, single mother stuck.

Ms. Woodlon was also faced with the pressures of explaining to her children what was happening. At first, she chose to “internalize” the issues surrounding her financial problems in order to protect her children. “I didn’t want them to worry,” she said. The cover came off when Ms. Woodlon and her children faced the gut-wrenching reality that her daughter’s college plans had to be deferred for lack of funds.

She had only one thing left to rely on: her God.

“I had to trust God would see me through whatever storm I’m going through,” she said.

Through lots of prayer, Ms. Woodlon was able to be honest with herself and realize she couldn’t keep silent about her financial problems. She began therapy sessions, did numerous hours of research and contacted her mortgage lender to find out her options. It was through research and questioning her lender that Ms. Woodlon learned about President Obama’s loan modification program. Throuogh the program, a set amount of federal money goes toward her mortgage each month, which has played a huge role in keeping her afloat.

While not completely out of the woods, Ms. Woodlon has found that through watching her budget and saving as much as possible she is in a much better place now. She tighted her purse strings, tapped her good old-fashioned work ethic and hit the pavement in search of a second job. Now, in addition to working in the school system, she has a part-time job to help cover the bills.

Ms. Woodlon has hard-learned lessons for families going through her experience:

  • Do your homework. Research and contact your lender — no matter how many calls it takes.
  • Watch out for scams. Ms. Woodlon ran into a number of scam artists whose goals at the end of the day were to make money.
  • Trust God and talk. Ms. Woodlon said by letting the Holy Spirit come in and help her be honest with herself, she was able to talk about her situation and find help. Had she continued to keep her financial problems to herself, there is no telling what position she would be in now.

Ms. Woodlon also has a word of advice for young women just beginning their adult life: “Reevaluate your budget, invest, save and have hope.”

Quianna Nicole Stokes is a freelance writer in New York City. 

Last Updated: 03/22/2014
 
 

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