As we've rounded this last bend towards the finish line, we've committed to push hard all the way to that final step.
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it?
God blew our timeline out of the water. I had counted the cost and then set what I thought was an ambitious goal: to pay our house off in 36 months. We had $79k left to pay off, so that would have been over $2,000 EXTRA toward the mortgage every month.
I wanted to be debt free by my 30th birthday. It's 2018, not 2020. I'm 28 years old for a couple more months. Every month, and with every payment, God whispered, "YOU can't do this. I can."
Last December, I expected to have our biggest month. I was going to push hard selling things online, we were going to get Christmas money, and we were going to end up way ahead, putting massive amounts towards the mortgage. That month was one of our lowest. When I get proud, thinking I'll make progress on my own, God makes me small.
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
How fitting, that He's going to pay off our mortgage in December, 22 months after we started.
This is our first time paying off a house, and it wasn't as straight forward as I'd imagined. You can't just pay off your house. You have to send the mortgage lender a payoff quote request. Essentially, there's a $50 fee for them to send you the paperwork saying that you now own your home. We sent the request, and they sent us back the exact amount that we owed, a date that the request expires (if we don't pay it off by December 21st, we'd have to re-request the payoff quote), and the requirement that the payoff can't be paid online (it must be wire transferred or sent by certified check).
We aren't quite ready to pay it off yet, but we've asked God to pay it off this month, and we have every expectation that, as we work, He'll hand us the money to pay off our mortgage this month.
Our mortgage. That final debt. This final payment. Hello, finish line.
Portia Liberty at eight months:
- Claps. Specifically if you say, "Yay!!!"
- Says, Mamama, Dada, Beth(Aunt), and possibly Garnet(necklace)?
- Doesn't turn down food. Green beans, bananas, graham crackers, apples, and ice cream are some favorites.
- Crawls everywhere, so fast.
- Has at least three smile dimples.
- Sleeps through the night often.
- Loves to cover and uncover her face to the rousing chorus of, "Peekaboo!"
- Can make the transition from tummy time to sitting.
- Loves to nap in the car.
- Stands up and walks along furniture.
- Has four teeth.
- Cries when I leave her in church nursery (this is new and hard!).
- Laughs hardest at Charlotte and neck nuzzles.
To explain the weight of the love in my chest when I look at this lady, is impossible. In our busy home life, she's the content, happy, quiet one, always ready with a full smile as she shyly turns her face away.
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. And let them sacrifice the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing!"
This year, more than normal, I'm thankful for our health. I'm thankful for Matt's faithfulness to get up every day, regardless of the weather, and take care of his family. I'm thankful that we're pulling in the same direction as a couple. I'm thankful for those two girls and the joy they bring to our lives. I'm thankful for two cars that run, a home with heat, and the ability to read. I'm thankful for local family and the way God has directed my life, every step. I'm thankful for the love and grace found in Jesus Christ, a gift that we could never deserve. What are you thankful for this year?
Can we stop and be thankful for family snapshots? If you ever see a family that seems to have their act partially together one day, like the mom put on makeup, and the kids are only 75% sweaty, be the hero: Offer to take that family's picture. Matt's cousin was walking by as Charlotte was throwing pinecones into the river, and even though he was on a mission as the host at his daughter's birthday party, he said, "Want me to take a picture of your family?"
Charlotte smiled, pinecone still poised, and Portia waved. I could almost feel the clouds part and the angels sing.
Recently, one of my husband's best friends passed away. He was freshly 30 years old, healthy, fit, a husband, and the father of two babies. My heart aches for the Amos family. All they have now are those precious memories and pictures. Years before he passed, he wrote a song (after a fellow police officer had died) for his wife, and they played a recording of him singing it at the funeral, "I am ready. So if today's the day, when I say goodbye and I see His face, I want you to know, I love you. I am ready, so if the time is now, when He takes me home and says, 'Welcome, child.' I want you to know, I love you." Oh, how thankful I am for the promise of heaven and the gift of Jesus Christ.
It was also a reminder for us to make time for the humans in our lives. The friends we never get together with, or the family members we don't make time to talk to... Make what is important important. Prioritize the people you love. Take the picture.
He was seeing a little bit of weight loss, just from being occasionally on plan, but he was watching my consistent weight loss, and after I had been on plan for three months (and lost twenty-seven pounds), he decided to join me on this journey to weight loss and improved health. It's funny, looking at the pictures, because if you have asked me if Matt needed to lose weight, I hadn't thought about it. But seeing the pictures, he was overweight. It was a needed change for both of us!
After nine months on plan, he was twenty-eight and a half pounds down! He's hovering less than two pounds above his goal weight and looks fantastic. I'm so proud of his faithfulness to this way of eating!
Some of Matt's favorite on plan foods are:
Lately we've been doing a lot of cast-iron meals or mixing bowl meals. These meals are meals you wouldn't necessarily serve to guests, because the presentation isn't exciting, but they're on plan and easy, which we are all about.
S Meal- Fat Meal
Cast Iron. Dice the veggies and cook in butter with meat. Add the spices to taste. I could never be a food blogger because we just eyeball measurements to make sense for our little family, but this one is good. We make it for breakfast sometimes or dinner!
- Shredded Turkey (leftover from a whole turkey)
- Sea Salt
E Meal- Carb Meal
Eaten cold. This is similar to an on plan salsa, and could be eaten with on plan blue corn chips. We make a huge mixing bowl of this stuff after dicing the tomatoes, peppers, and onions. You could also throw cilantro and lemon juice in here, but we were keeping it super easy. If you're making this for dinner, you'l need a couple of bowls full to fill you up (breastfeeding mamas are hungry!), but it also makes a great snack at the three hour mark between meals.
- Kidney Beans (can)
- Sweet corn (can)
When I'm hungry, and ready to eat, these meals are easy to throw together. Before I begin dicing, if I need something to hold me over, I'll grab an on-plan bite. Typically, I grab a handful of nuts or a chunk of cheese for an S (fat) meal, and a clementine or other small piece of fruit for an E meal. This certainly isn't every day, but if I'm needing something to hold me over while dinner is cooking (or being chopped) those are my go-tos.
We are paying off our mortgage with full-hustle, and none of the communities we are a part of advocate for that.... So, why are we doing it?
Group Number One: Financial Independence Retire Early
This group is all about budgeting, saving, and investing. I love having a space where I can gain advice and learn about tax laws and life optimization. These people are purely logical. Mmm. My kind of humans.
People in the Financial Independence Retire Early crowd would not recommend paying off your mortgage aggressively because you make more money in the stock market than you save in mortgage interest.
Group Number Two: Dave Ramsey
You thought we had camaraderie here? Nope. Yes, Dave Ramsey recommends paying off your mortgage, but he recommends slowing down after you get your other debts paid off. His advice would encourage us to allow vacations etc. and put "left-over" money towards the mortgage. "Take your foot off the gas."
The Dave Ramsey crowd would not recommend that you pay off your mortgage aggressively, so you can "Start to live" or "Lighten up a bit" instead, while you continue to put some money towards your mortgage.
Group Number Three: Friends and Family
We are loved by hundreds and hundreds of people, but the general response we get from people about our passion to pay off our mortgage debt is: "Why?" "What's the hurry?" "Are you making this an idol?" "You're working too much." "I wish I made as much money as y'all do." "I'll never get my house paid off."
So, why are we paying off our mortgage like our hair is on fire? Why are we working extra jobs, making more money than we've ever made, and throwing every penny of it at our mortgage at the end of each month? Why are we ignoring the logic of paying it off at regular speed while investing the difference? Why?
Matt and I believe that the Bible is God's Word, given to us to light our path. Some of the Bible is easy, direct commands. Do this. Don't do this.
Here is what God says to us at the beginning of Proverbs 6.
The word "surety" in verse one is an old English word, and it simple means "One who enters into a bond for payment of debt." Easy enough. So, if you've received money from someone and agreed to pay it back (this is the difference between debt and bills), this applies to you.
In verse one it mentions friends and strangers. No matter who you owe the money to, this applies.
Verse two just says, "You promised." When they gave you money you gave them your word.
Verses four and five are the ones we can't ignore. Those two verses fuel this journey. Don't sleep. Don't rest. Run, like you are being hunted.
If I told you there was a man hunting you with a gun, how fast would you run?
That's all that happened. We read these verses and couldn't pretend we hadn't seen them.
The fact that passionately paying off the mortgage isn't popular, doesn't change what those verses say. The fact that some people think mortgage debt is "different," doesn't change what those verses say. So, we're hustling out of mortgage debt with all the speed we can muster, because we believe that God's Word is a lamp for our feet.