We haven't said anything online or to friends or family unless they have seen our for sale sign. So don't worry, you haven't missed the "we are moving announcement." We will do you a favor and just lump it with the "we aren't moving announcement." :)
I am struggling to write this post in a way that is easy to follow without getting into too much detail. I am not sure how to make it more clear (but still stay general enough). I recognize that we all are blessed with different financial stewardships and the ways we manage them are likewise different. It isn't my intention to offer advice or tell others how to manage theirs. Our hope in sharing is to pay it forward as we have been blessed with experiences and others who helped us recognize that there are other ways to consider managing our finical stewardship that don't involve credit cards or debt. We do not intend to "boast," especially after having had such humble financial circumstances and help from many along the way. Our financial plan has to look different than what we have previously been on track for because we have big plans.
My patriarchal blessing promises that in the Lord's time I will have the opportunity to serve Him in the mission field and to do so more than once and that my testimony will be heard in many places. At the time I received my blessing (16), I assumed the "more than once" meant that I would serve as a sister missionary, then my hubby and I would serve later. Most of you know that I found my incredible husband and we were married when I was only 19. You had to be at least 21 to serve a mission as a sister then. As we shared our patriarchal blessings with each other, we just knew it meant that we needed to plan to serve missions once our kids were out of the house and stable. We recognize that it could mean different things...that "the mission field" may not literally mean serving as a missionary. But what if it does? And what if that option would be available to me---and us---according to our having our finances and life in order to do it? This "plan" has grown all the sweeter after having weathered through fiery trials of our faith that grew our testimonies to deep conversion. It has also grown sweeter having tasted of the indescribable joy of bearing with others through fiery trials of their own and pointing them to Christ for relief.
This spring Mark was blessed with a significant raise at work. As we started to work with the numbers, we realized that if we plan carefully, it could be what we needed to re-route our future. Prior to the raise we were focused on short-term. Having this extra income opened up possibilities that we have envisioned for the next 30+ years, but previously been unable to make happen. Our mortgage is our only debt and with his raise we were ready to make a plan to tackle that too. We acknowledge that we did it "wrong" from a financial point of view when we bought this house last year. We did 0 down and went on the higher end of our income. We are confident that this choice brought us to the right place at the right time (to be with the right people at the right time). After wrestling with our options, it seemed our best choice in moving forward was to list our home for sale.
We were planning to rent something smaller for 2-5 years and save like crazy, first to replenish our 6 months emergency fund (6 months worth of money we would spend if we had no income or when the unexpected hits so an "emergency" is simply an "inconvenience") and then a 20% downpayment to buy a house again. Then when we bought again, to do it as a 15 year mortgage that we pay off in 8-10 years. With this small difference, our future would snowball forward, not only creating more and more distance from the financial entanglements of addiction, but also to carve out a bright future for us and our children.
Written here it sounds like it was a cut and dried or sterile process to come to that conclusion, but it truly was a difficult process to work through...more for me than Mark. As we began toying with listing our home for sale, I initially struggled with the thought. I am finally feeling settled here! My house is put together from the previous move. Although I have served in the nursery and primary, I finally feel like I am part of our ward family. I know people. I know my way around. This is such a great house for a young, energetic family. What about the kids? Can they handle another move and another after that? What about how they are feeling settled in our home and with friends and routine?
This came from my journal as we made the choice to sell: "As we have pondered on our options over the past few months, I have considered a lot on what truly, really matters. I am talking in terms of myself and not speaking for anybody else. I have spent so much time, effort, and brain power on things that are fleeting. It really doesn't matter what color the walls or carpet of my home is or if it's updated or stream-lined. I can create a haven of peace and a place of love both for my family and all who enter our home regardless of it's size or how it looks. It doesn't matter what I wear or if I am cooking fancy meals for my family. The ways I use my time, money, and resources truly can have influences for the eternal good of those within my reach. That is such a powerful thought!!! The ways I treat people and my seeking to radiate His love matters, both inside the walls of my own home and outside. Taking time to minister to the one matters. Having our finances in order so we are free to go where God needs us matters. Our choice (to sell and rent) will come with trade-offs, but these things we will be "missing" are short-term when compared with what will be open to us within the next 30 years and certainly menial when compared with eternity. We seek to serve God and be His instruments of salvation. I know this choice will not resonate with everyone, but this decision over the past few months has changed my heart. It has opened it to the possibilities of a bright future of furthering God's purposes not only in my own life, but the lives of those within my every increasing circle of influence."
The kids have been patient with the entire process. I was surprised by how cooperative they were when we organized and cleaned and simplified our belongings in order to list the home. They haven't complained as we have decided together to donate items or box them up in the garage. Although a few hours commitment to prepare the home for a showing, it was greatly simplified by their willingness to live a simpler life.
Over the past nearly 3 months we had 12 showings with 1 offer (that was low and the buyer wasn't willing to go any higher so walked away). I never thought I would "survive" that many showings with 4 kids home all day, every day. That is for a different post. During the past 3 months we have slowly gotten our answer. We still are so human and maybe it could have happened a different way, but listing the house was the quickest way to point us in the right direction. It gave us an intensity that we, unfortunately, wouldn't have had on our own. I am grateful for Mark's closeness to the Spirit because the answer came to him little by little. We were thinking we were listing our home to sell it. We were actually listing our home to begin the process of planning for our long-term financial future and also to be able to look at our current resources differently. Mark was blessed with the inspiration to be able to free up enough income over these months to be saving nearly what we were hoping to save by renting. As we ran the numbers through the mortgage calculator, we will have 20% paid down on our house in the same time-frame we were shooting for by selling, moving, renting, and moving again. We have suspended the listing and will take the next little while to see how our changes feel. We will revisit our options once we have 20% paid off and still plan to either refinance as a 15 year mortgage or sell at that point and buy something less expensive to pay it off quickly.
We are GRATEFUL, RELIEVED, EXCITED...all rolled into one. It is wonderful that we can actually have "it all:" the bright future we were hoping for PLUS the blessing of staying here. We would not have had this shift in this time frame if we hadn't been seeking for it. God is so good!!!
Additionally, our future is bright with Mark at work. The company is growing quickly and is anticipated to continue to grow well. Although bonuses and pay raises are anticipated, I am grateful that we have a plan for a secure future without counting on it. As these may come or any other increases, the only difference now is that it speeds up how quickly we can save for the future. If we hadn't been through the process of these past few months, I am not confident we would see it the same way.
Mark shared THIS clip from Elder Bednar speaking of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River. It best describes what the process of the past few months has been for us. Plus it is a great plug for the new Self-Reliance program The LDS Church has just released in North America. :)