The Lottery

Written by DeAnna Erdmann

When Josh walked in the door, his face was ashen, and he looked like he was about to pass out. I put the mug I was washing back in the sink and wiped my hands on my shorts as I quickly walked over to him. I grabbed his face and looked into his eyes. “Are you having a low sugar episode? Do you need some apple juice?” Josh just shook his head and started to cry. I wrapped my arms around him and sank to the floor with him as he crumpled into my arms.

“It happened, it happened, and I can’t think, and I don’t know what to feel. Oh, Dee… this is nuts. I don’t even know how to tell you.”

I could feel my stomach start to knot in dread. What could Josh have done that was so horrible that he was crying and didn’t know how to tell me? My brain ran away with images of affairs or thoughts of lost large sums of money. Did he invest in something without telling me? If he met someone, how? When? He must have felt me stiffen because he sat up and pulled me to him in a desperate, loving embrace. With my head held firmly to his chest, I almost missed what he whispered into my ear.

“The lottery ticket I bought last week is the sole winner to $126 million.”

I went numb.  I just knew I had heard him wrong. “What did you say?”

“Dee, I bought a ticket last week just on a whim. It won. We are millionaire’s babe. We won $126 million.”

I laughed a bit; the thought of all that money was shockingly funny. My giggles quickly turned to tears as I saw our car paid off and a new home that fit our family better. I saw the best schools and fantastic opportunities to invest and serve our community. Tears of disbelief and joy spilled down my face and soaked my shirt.

“This is surreal. We were talking about what we would do if we ever won big. This is just too crazy. Are you sure?”

Josh nodded. “The numbers ran last night. After I checked it at the corner store, I called the number on the back. They confirmed that we are the sole winners. We get to help everyone that we had talked about helping. We get to be debt-free. Dee, this is surreal; it is unbelievably amazing.”

The next few weeks were a blur. There was lots of paperwork and lots of media. I got to accompany my husband onto several stages as he answered questions and thanked God. We got in touch with a financial investor who helped us set up a mutual fund that would produce enough interest from which we could live.

We paid off our parents’ houses and bought them reliable cars. We gave each of our siblings $10,000.

We decided that I would homeschool all three girls and that we would buy a home base house on the water in La Jolla, California. It was a modest four-bedroom, three-bath with a small courtyard for the dogs. Our ultimate goal, though, was to travel with the ladies to show them the world. We tithed to our church and gave healthily to several charities.

Much to my delight, life didn’t change much beyond that. I still cooked our meals and bought most of our clothes at secondhand stores or off discount shelves. It has been crucial to Josh and me that our girls never realize that our family has money. We want them to know about hard work and housework. We want them to know that hardship is a pathway to peace and that we have to take this world as Jesus did, not as we would have it be.

Money has made our lives easier, but we had found our happiness long before we ever came into the money. Our joy is in the Lord and family, and they are invaluable to me.

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