Austin and I found ourselves on a rare date night. We wound up in a bookstore sipping coffee, enjoying each other’s company, and the silence. As we browsed the books several got our attention, but as usual, we were going to leave empty handed. On the way out, a colorful book caught my eye. The book was misplaced in the store but seemed to be calling out to me. I picked the book up, flipped through the pages, and realized that book was misplaced just for us! Long story short, we purchased the book and began to read through it quickly. I’ll share details about the book later….
A few years prior my husband challenged us to pay off our mortgage in five years. We are both ambitious people, and had reached some wonderful goals in the past, but this one was crazy considering we were 33 and 31 years old.
Well, he drew up the plan and we began the process…complete with a sticker chart!
As the year passed, it became hard. We sometimes wanted to stop and go on a spending spree, but for some reason we never came to that conclusion at the same time. If he was ready to quit, I’d be all on board and talk him off the ledge. If I was ready to quit, it was like he had a new found energy for it. It was crazy how the motivation continued.
Fast forward about 2.5 years into the plan and we felt God beginning to change our hearts and intentions regarding this endeavor. What initially began as selfish motivation to get a bigger and better house to keep up with “the Joneses”, slowly began to shift. Little did we know, God was at work!
We were feeling the push to do more, to make an impact. Our heart’s desires were being transformed. We both wanted to become people who made a difference in the world, even if it was just in a small way.
Our pastor was preaching one Sunday about being an ordinary Christian. He basically challenged the congregation to reflect on how we were being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Right then and there that Austin and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was clear; we were not going to be up with the Joneses. God was calling us to do more; we were being asked to impact His Kingdom.
Remember when I said it would get hard and we both wanted to quit? It got really hard!
Around year four and five of the plan, it was like everything that could tempt us to give up, did. The air conditioner went out ($8,000.00). Then, I came home from work one day and the power company had contracted a tree specialist to remove trees around their poles. For us, that meant they were clear cutting our woods…and the list goes on.
Trees!?! I know, for some the trees would be insignificant, but for me, the trees are a big deal. One reason we bought our house was because of the privacy and our personal draw to nature. This happened with nine months left on our mortgage. I was so distraught I cried for days! Anyway, we actually began looking for houses. Once we told our small group leader Ryan about our house search, he immediately recognized the enemy was at work. If not for Ryan being our accountability partner, we might have given up on the plan with only a few months to go. So thankful God led Ryan to intervene.
Now to the bookstore.
Five months to go on the mortgage. Nonprofit stuff is coming together, but I wanted to quit. I start to think people wouldn’t take us seriously. No one will need help, the economy is booming and our launch date would be the time when folks receive their income taxes returns. No one in our social group knows about our plan….can we even do it? This is silly, who does this!? You would not believe the mental battle Austin and I experienced as we rounded the corner on this effort.
Low and behold a pandemic unleashes across the world…and a few tornadoes hit our area. Isn’t God’s timing impeccable friends? I’m not saying those are good things, I am saying God’s plan for us to begin His work was unfolding right before our very eyes. I can’t help but be amazed about how God worked all these events and the timeline together, for His good.
A book by Randy Alcorn called Giving is the Good Life was the piece that sealed the deal. I call it a WISDOM WEAPON. His words were written just for us it seemed; they are also meant for you! Straight from the Word of God Randy laid out what a good life really is…not from a worldly perspective, but from God’s point of view. This text helped us to realize our life had purpose beyond ourselves. We also learned that God actually has ownership of everything in our possession anyway. Material items cannot take us anywhere, so why do we invest so much into them?
We are so thankful for the challenge set forth in Randy’s book to radically give (pg. 121). His words and his challenge moved us to do the Kingdom work we were being called to do.
On April 15, 2020 we paid off our home mortgage at the age of 36 (me) and (38) Austin; we also have two small children and I am working on my Doctorate in education. We began The Paid in Full Project, our giving ministry, on that very day.
By no means are we rich. I actually work in a public school; my husband is a computer engineer. However, by acting on what God led us to do, our Heavenly father is providing resources to complete His work.
We are thankful to our Lord and Savior, but also to Randy as His words that inspired us to hang on and be faithful. We also know that God, in his mighty way, will grow every dollar to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine possible.
Don’t forget to add WISDOM WEAPONS to your bag of tricks. They may come in the form of a book, people like Ryan, or from sheer determination. No matter what motivates you, just know these WISDOM WEAPONS are the key to completing your greatest accomplishments!
Paying It Forward,