Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt VI

Echinacea blooms in our herb garden

This series explains our family’s choices in lifestyle, including early impressions shaping our world view, a commitment to live debt-free, building family values, simple living and sustainable life skills, living close to the land, and family ministry. Last, but not least, we share our desires to prepare for the future and provide a safer place for our family.

Preparing for the Future

The first time we prepared for possible calamity was for Y2K. Not knowing if it would happen, we invested in things wise to have anyway, within our budget (which wasn’t much). Thankfully Y2K was uneventful, but the beans and rice, gas and toiletries we stored became huge blessings later in financially tough times. Our little generator was a lifesaver when a tropical storm knocked out power for several days the following year. It saved our frozen foods (including homegrown beef) and our sanity. We thanked the Lord for using a false alarm to prompt preparation for what He knew was coming.  “She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.” Prov. 31:21 KJV

It occurred to us that wisdom prepares for disasters and unexpected twists in life; especially if God gives warnings, which He usually does.  God may send a prophet (Jer. 25:4) or a sign in the heavens (Gen. 1:14; Joel 2:28-30) or otherwise (Gen. 19, Heb. 11:7) to warn His people of judgment or calamity. Those tuned in to Him can hear (Jer. 6:10; John 10:27). He has recorded things in a Book showing patterns for recognizing future events by past happenings.

Redressing and mulching the raised rows for a winter planting.

Believers should be content with God’s daily provision, not fretting about tomorrow (Matt. 6:31; Heb. 13:5). The Lord provides grace and personal needs one day at a time. Anxiety renders us unproductive and powerless to face a crisis (II Tim. 1:7). Trust in God is practically applied in the simple yet profound principle of spending only what He has provided, rather than presuming on the future and making purchases with resources not yet in hand.

So, does the Lord want us unAWARE and unPREPARED for something coming? Jesus repeatedly warned to watch, be alert, and be ready for a variety of things in the FUTURE. Lack of appropriate preparation creates anxiety. Believers live for the future, not just the present. What we do (or don’t do) today has repercussions later in this life and in eternity. The wise and foolish virgins with their lamps are good examples (Matt. 25:1-13).

About half the beds are prepared.

As noted previously, we have various reasons for homesteading off the grid, regardless of the future. We do not regret following this God-given dream, and the adventures it has created. Nevertheless, we are also keenly aware of the times in which we live, and the responsibility to prepare our family.

These words of Jesus in Luke 12:54-56 speak to this: “When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” KJV

What are the signs of this time? With our eyes open wide to current events, history repeating itself, and prophecies in Scripture and by godly men, we ask the Lord if we should do something about signs we see. Learning to live more sustainably and helping others do the same has been one answer He has given our family. Working together, living with less, growing food, learning sustainable skills, acclimating to tighter spaces, independent of modern systems, and thriving on a limited budget are other practical ways we’ve felt led to prepare.

The new brick pitcher pump housing made by Silver Oak and Farmer Boy is the centerpiece of the herb garden...adding beauty, but fully functioning as an alternative water source

Safety

We would like to think our lovely little homestead in the boondocks, surrounded by friendly neighbors, is a perfectly safe haven, far from violence, pandemics, and evils of town or city…a place of peace and tranquility, broken only by exuberant noises of birds, frogs, chickens and goats, and enhanced by brilliant starry skies at night. And it is.

But without God’s protection we are still susceptible to dangers within and without. In a serious crisis we may be farther from the action, which will hopefully buy some time. If it is quickly resolved, we may not even be directly affected. However, we are not immune to crises.

We thankfully don’t face Smart Meter issues with their health problems and dangers, the lack of privacy, and the control given to others. We didn’t even have to opt-out.  🙂

Nevertheless, another danger in our country has been taking shape, slowly creeping in around us. Things have changed and are changing. Friends of ours were raided on their grass-fed dairy for selling raw milk as pet food…no matter that it is legal in Florida. A woman in Cape Coral, FL was fined for disconnecting her home from the city’s utilities.  The pervading attitude toward people with our lifestyle does not seem to be moving in a positive direction. Of all the reasons we’ve ended up living off the grid in a tiny house, the reason of “safety,” though still a good one, could prove to have an interesting twist.

Our home feels inviting and "safe" under the Lord's protection

A quiet place...

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psa 91:1 KJV Divine protection is our only true safety…in the “secret place.” And, if while under God’s protection something “bad” happens, we can trust “that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 KJV

Our greatest safety and preparedness is filling up regularly with God’s Word and walking in tune with His Spirit and responding when He says “jump” or “hold still.” What a daily challenge in this busy society. Our family has taken this more seriously the past year and a half, preparing spiritually and emotionally several hours each day in Bible reading, and also in praising the Lord and praying together. The impact is profound. I hope to share more about this soon.

We pray this series is a blessing and inspiration to you, not so much about living on or off the grid, analyzing house size, or being prepared or sustainable, but in evaluating values and priorities. In short, the goal is to live in the “secret place” of God’s will for us in all of these areas, resting in His protection and care, ready to go where He leads, do as He directs, and serve how He desires. Though it may look different for you than for us, that place, alone, is where we really learn to know Him, and He can make Himself known.

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Blessings,

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt V

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written.  This is his vision (shared by me), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.

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Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt V

Silver Oak and Farmer Boy lay up new brick housing for our pitcher pump

This fifth in a series explains a few more reasons why our lifestyle has been a dream in the making…a dream all eight of us embrace and love. Sometimes we tire of it, like when it is mercilessly hot and muggy and we’re dressing up to go somewhere “civilized,” or there is not enough room in our comfy tiny house for many guests at once. But those whiny thoughts usually don’t last long, especially when we visit town and see the alternatives. And our lifestyle is built on something that goes much deeper than preferences and interests.

Mission and Ministry

Wherever Jesus went, He relieved suffering, healed sickness, and met genuine needs. This drew many people to Him, with ears that were eager to hear. He did not go around trying to convince people, working hard to convert them, or do entertaining shows to attract them, but He compassionately served and cared for them. Many readily opened their hearts and followed Him, hungry to know Him.  He did not ignore their physical and emotional needs, or tell them to think only of their eternal destiny.

Jesus’ example really challenges us. He spoke through words AND deeds. How has He called our family to meet needs that will show Jesus to others? We are still trying to fully grasp that idea, asking the Lord to clarify His calling. We are perhaps a little slow in getting this, but we have had a sense of Him calling to do what we’re doing on our off-grid homestead, not always totally understanding why. Why would He want us to spend so much time on “temporal” things like growing our own food, living more simply, and learning practical skills? What is His eternal plan for us living this off-grid lifestyle?  Is it the same reason He spent so much time on earth meeting physical needs, especially of the poor?

As we sweated to clear the driveway back to our home site three years ago, doing lots of hard work by hand, we wondered if God was preparing us for something else in the unseen future. What did He really have in mind for us as we built this homestead?

Our winding driveway through the woods that we cleared three years ago

We have felt a burden and desire to encourage and challenge Believers, and shine the light of Christ to unbelievers. Those are some of the main purposes for this blog, as well as to record our journey for our children’s sakes. It is an attempt to call others to examine accepted American ways of thinking, to discern what is profitable and what is not.

One of Silver Oak’s portable chicken houses sits in the shadow of our trusty windmill which keeps the tanks on our roof filled with water from our well

Our children are being prepared to serve wherever God calls them. They are not scared at the prospect of not always having hot showers or running water. And although we desire to have our children always around us, we know God may call them elsewhere. We want them to be prepared for the work God has for them, to be His witnesses. The whole point of having and raising children is to glorify God and make Him known.

Meanwhile our family’s desire is to be missionaries wherever we are. How can we meet needs and relieve suffering for the sake of making Christ known? In the US many suffer from ignorance of what commercial “fake” foods are doing to their bodies. In other countries physical suffering may be caused by poverty or other hardships. Here in America, with all our material abundance, the breakdown of the family unit causes much emotional and spiritual suffering. Families in other countries are torn apart by poverty, oppression, sickness and disease. Here and abroad there are physical and emotional needs that can be met in the Name of Jesus to bring glory to Him, although folks in our prosperous country tend to be less open.

The front of our tiny house and red shed, fenced in with young perennial and annual garden beds

ECHO is a Christ-honoring organization with a vision for relieving suffering by providing agricultural and appropriate technology training (using available resources) to Christian development workers in many countries.  We have been very blessed by all we have learned on their global farm in Ft Myers, FL.  In November we look forward to attending their International Agricultural Conference to learn more.

Evensong’s rabbit hutches and greens grown for the rabbits to eat, including spanish needle, garlic chives, cranberry hibiscus, moringa, perennial peanut, papaya, and cassava.

SIFAT (Servants in Faith and Technology) is a mission organization with a similar vision. The founder of ECHO helped them establish a training center in Alabama that prepares Believers to share Jesus through meeting basic needs around the world. We’ve been greatly challenged by the journey of the Corson family, founders of SIFAT, who moved to the jungles of Bolivia years ago, and realized the people in their village needed more than spiritual nourishment.  We’ve read their experiences of sharing Christ through living simply with the people, using appropriate technologies to help alleviate suffering. Their books, Risking Everything and Glimpses of God in the Lives of the Poor, are inspirational reads for the whole family! They can be purchased here.

Intensive food forest gardening and sustainable agriculture can be powerful tools to make Christ known, here in America or elsewhere, if done by the leading of the Holy Spirit. An intact family working together, demonstrating the basic arts of growing and preserving, living abundantly within our means, practicing skills that in a crisis could bless those dependent on “the system”…all can be part of the work of Christ.

A small food forest featuring fig, lemon grass, sweet potato, edible hibiscus, cranberry hibiscus, and roselle

The back of our bioshelter which is being set up for intensive gardening with edible perennials and annuals

Several days ago we were dripping with sweat (yes, it was still hot here) as we all unloaded a few tons of mulch on our fodder beds. It was miserable and we were exhausted when we remembered why we were doing it: not just to nourish our own fodder beds, but to help someone else learn to grow fodder for their livestock to provide needed nutrition…and share the love of Jesus!

A freshly mulched fodder bed with roselle, chaya, and perennial peanut

A newer fodder bed with young katuk plants and some sweet potato

When we see our lifestyle in this light, it gives a much richer meaning to what we are doing. It is our prayer that our focus would be first and foremost on God’s eternal purpose for leading us into this off-grid life…that it will make a difference for eternity.

Join us next time for the final post in this series.  (Click here for previous posts: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.)

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Blessings,

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt IV

Photo credit:  A friend of ours (MW) was visiting and very kindly took many of the pictures on this post to help me out.  Thanks!  🙂

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written.  This is his vision (shared by me), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, From the Farm Blog Hop, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt III

Butterfly and I harvest sweet potato greens

With the decay of the family unit, we have looked for ways to safeguard family relationships. That is partly what led us to work together as a family to build our off-grid homestead. The first parts of this theme speak of our worldview and the decision to live debt-free. Now we will look at how we have chosen some practical ways to build strong family ties by living off the grid in a tiny house.

Family Values

Building a homestead from scratch has its challenges. Building it without connection to grid power increases those challenges, especially after being accustomed to relying on it. This is a perfect setting for a team of workers collaborating to accomplish otherwise daunting tasks. It is adventuresome, exciting, healthy, invigorating, satisfying, educational, and unifying. When friction or bickering raise their ugly heads, collaborators must stop and work out a resolution if progress is expected. We cannot run from conflict long or everything grinds to a halt and everyone suffers till it is resolved.

Before the industrial revolution, it was normal for families to work together daily on their homesteads. The introduction of modern day machinery, appliances, and electricity encouraged many to move to a more convenient city life. Losses to the family structure were huge. Fathers left home every morning for a “real” job to support a more expensive lifestyle, and to provide their family with the “best” of life. One income could not support all the new “needs” so mothers left for work as well, and entrusted their children to the care of others much earlier in life than before.

Working on our homestead…putting down cardboard as a weed barrier in the garden area

Covering the cardboard with mulch (wood chips) from a local tree trimmer

And more mulch

Stay-at-home mothers are in the minority today, but fathers who work at home with their families are rare. Every person in the modern family has a separate social life outside the home that pulls and competes for affections and loyalties. Even church life fragments the family into various age and social groups. Any wonder why peer and social pressures win over family relationships and values?

Finger-knitting scarves together with loops we cut from panty-hose

A crazy bunch, showing off our new “panty-hose” infinity scarves: (L to R) Little Bird, Honey Bun, Blossom, me, Evensong, Farmer Boy, Butterfly

Years ago, it became a dream of ours to work together with our children rather than go different directions every day. Strong family relationships may be possible with “normal” jobs and school, but less likely. Instead of working out, I have been free to save and live with less rather than earning money. It is a privilege to live thriftily, share almost every growing moment with our children, and study things like natural health and diet and intensive growing methods, saving tremendously on medical and food bills.

Blossom and I planting garlics last fall – none lived 😦

It has been much tougher to bring Silver Oak home. The transition from self-employment away from home to a home-based enterprise has been very challenging. We have cut expenses dramatically by our lifestyle choices, enabling him to sell or give up many landscaping accounts we previously depended on. It has been financially difficult, yet every day spent at home developing a more productive homestead and other streams of income, is another day speaking more into the lives of our children. Our children will not be here forever, and we won’t regret time well-spent with them.

Silver Oak and Honey Bun preparing formerly-used tie-downs for the bio shelter

The kiddos helped Silver Oak dig holes for the concrete tie-downs

Lots of holes needed to be dug

Silver Oak and Evensong fill more holes for the posts to frame in the ends

When Silver Oak works at home, Farmer Boy is his right-hand man, learning many valuable skills alongside him. This preparation for manliness beats being stuck with his mom and sisters all the time. Whatever Silver Oak does, Farmer Boy gets excited about. In free time he builds structures, connects plumbing lines with leftover PVC, wires imaginary “electrical” projects, changes tires on his wagon, and plants his own garden patch. One day in town he pointed out the upper control arms and ball joints on the monster truck next to us. How did he ever know what they were? He had helped Silver Oak replace those parts on our pick-up. What confidence-building learning experiences loaded with good memories to carry him into manhood! Oh…if you’re worried, he’s above average in reading skills, and pretty good in math in case you’re thinkin’ he’s missin’ his book-larnin’. ?

Silver Oak apprenticed Farmer Boy in raising his own batch of laying hens

Building lots of fence together

Building our deck a few years ago

Farmer Boy works on a project of his own…steps to a small treehouse

Cutting down dead papaya trees after helping Silver Oak down large pines

While we each have various chore assignments, our favorite way to accomplish things on the homestead is working together. Together we have made a long driveway, built our deck, dug a well, erected a windmill, created raised row gardens, cleaned out barnyard and rabbit manures, spread literally tons of mulch and manures, planted many trees and edible shrubs, put the cover on the bio shelter, cleared lots of palmettos, pulled weeds, planted and processed sugarcane, installed solar panels, cut firewood, made pretty scarves from panty-hose, done laundry by hand, and much more. Our favorite time spent working together is in the morning before the sun gets baking hot, around 6 or 7am till breakfast time. We have made many good memories this way.

Silver Oak and Evensong build our generator hut the night after moving onto our homestead nearly three years ago

Digging our well…a major accomplishment!

Before our well was dug we had to haul in all our water so for six months we did laundry by hand

Blossom helps my dad install a solar panel on our roof

Evensong and I were part of the electrical wiring crew for the solar panels

It took all of us to pull the cover onto our bio shelter (greenhouse)

A tiny house also helps build family ties. When we go somewhere else for the night our children actually prefer to be together in the same room to sleep. They enjoy each other and keep each other straight. No one sneaks around without someone noticing. It is a great safeguard in this age of easily accessed morally damaging materials. We do have designated times and places for privacy and belongings, especially for the older ones, and they are expected to respect each other’s boundaries. In this small space we work around each other, help each other, and keep things picked up for space to do the next thing.

Sometimes things are a disastrous mess, we get in each others’ way, and we grouch at each other! But my favorite thing is hearing the children sing together in harmony going about their various household tasks…which could not happen as easily spread out in a big house.

Evensong, Blossom and Honey Bun play music together at my dad’s birthday celebration

“Chilling out” after some hard work: Honey Bun, Little Bird, and Farmer Boy

This lifestyle does not automatically solve all family problems. It’s a challenge learning to include a child or two in all our work, rather than “efficiently” doing it ourselves. However, being together a lot naturally fosters stronger family ties and identity, encouraging our children’s hearts to be turned to us as parents, and our hearts to be turned to our children (Mal. 4:6; Luke 1:17).

Living off the grid in a tiny house is not for everyone, but we enjoy it! Stick around for part four of this series.

If you would like to receive future posts, be sure to click here.

Blessings,

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt II

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written.  This is his vision (as well as mine), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Barn Hop, From the Farm Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, Little House in the Suburbs, Farmgirl Friday, and Simple Saturdays.

Why We Live Off Grid in a Tiny House, Pt I

Our windmill and bamboo trellis overgrown with cucuzzi edible gourd

Our alternative lifestyle has intrigued many curious folks, encouraged and inspired some, and evoked remarks of disapproval from others. Some of you value the same things we do and tell us we are so privileged and blessed, sharing words of encouragement and visiting when possible. You express envy, hoping to one day do the same. You humble us and remind us of why we are doing what we are doing.

Others have said we are wasting our time, we’re crazy, or we’re trying to earn some sort of special favor with God. That causes us to step back and examine our motives and decisions to make sure we are truly staying on track with the vision and dream God has given us, making changes where needed.

Heading out to the egg-mobile at Full Circle Farm to gather eggs

Butterfly helps gather eggs

Recently we gave a presentation at Full Circle Farm about using windmills to pump water. Sunday morning we shared with their house fellowship our family story, including living debt-free, adoption, a more sustainable lifestyle, and a recent trip to South America. So we examined our journey again, and how and why God has brought us here. Here is the first of a six-part summary sharing numerous reasons for our choice of off-grid, tiny house living.

Early Impressions Shaping our World View

Both Silver Oak and I point to things that shaped our “off the grid” mentality long before we began living free of the electrical grid. Before marriage, my summer in Ecuador with a SWIM team (Summer Witness in Missions) highly influenced my life. It challenged me to follow Jesus’ example in giving my life as His witness. Would Jesus choose first class, or coach? A classy hotel, restaurant, or car, or one like the common people’s? Which “class” did He choose to best identify with the most people?

Washing cleaning rags with a little Quechua girl in the mountains of Ecuador in 1987 in her family’s outdoor sink

Later I went on a choral singing tour, arriving in Romania immediately following the fall of communism. We held a service and proclaimed, “Our God, He is Alive!” in a former city hall where no mention of God’s name had previously been allowed. Their hunger for Truth and Light was extremely moving. The persecuted church leaders fervently admonished us several times to be faithful to Jesus. They pointed out that persecution in Romania had made it very difficult to follow Christ, but in America it is very difficult to live whole-heartedly for Jesus because of materialism.

This was one of many groups of formerly persecuted Believers we sang to in post-communist Romania in 1990

Materialism! What? STUFF? An easy life filled with comforts, pleasures, and material possessions can make it as difficult to follow Jesus as persecution behind the Iron Curtain? Their statements were very thought provoking. If they are right, how do we “escape” the trap that befalls most Americans, rendering its Church lukewarm and ineffective?

As a youth, Silver Oak went on several mission trips to Haiti and other countries, which introduced him to the reality of life in other places. Visiting them affected him deeply. He was a Believer, but not totally dedicated to Jesus, so his heart did not change. However, the seeds were sown, and he really wanted something different. When he was 20 a crisis brought him to his knees, and he rededicated his life to the Lordship of Jesus, greatly changing the direction of his life. Soon after we were married, Silver Oak read a book by KP Yohannan called “The Road to Reality.” It challenged him to think in terms of eternity, rather than with a temporal focus. This also greatly influenced his life.

The “laundromat” in Haiti

When we married, we had a keen desire to be open-minded about the ways of Christ; not automatically accepting the “herd” mentality, the way it’s always been done, or traditions of men, but deliberately trying to see all decisions afresh in light of God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. First-generation Believers have really challenged us by their simple trust in God’s Word and just willingly following what it says without lots of preconceived religious ideas. Many man-made traditions are beneficial, but shouldn’t be the most controlling factor. Fellowship with other Believers is a priority, but we resist following the crowd over the leading of the Lord.

We have made many mistakes, and certainly don’t consider what we’re doing to be the “only way.” Our choices are often not mainstream.  Our passion has been to raise God-fearing children to pass on the faith and ways of God to future generations, hopefully more “radically” than we have. Many in our generation have washed out spiritually, or are wrapped up in the all-American dream. We believe this comfort-driven, pleasure seeking, materialistic lifestyle may be the idol worship of our day, or at best a “high place” of worship that can easily lead us or future generations astray.

Silver Oak and Evensong visited this country church on a recent trip to South America

Our values often put us “outside the box,” not connected to “the system.” It is an “off-the-grid” way of thinking, naturally setting us apart in this culture. The encouragement of like-minded Believers has been invaluable to us, as well as criticism of those who don’t see everything the same. We need both for accountability and for balance. Obviously not everyone sees things the way we do, and we respect that. Each is accountable to God for what we are given.

Can you guess which country this is in? See my answer below.

Since we live in America, but have not adopted the “All-American” way, our values and practices naturally tend to go against the flow. Our priorities and dreams are just different. This is portrayed in other reasons for our off-grid lifestyle, which I will share in upcoming posts.

If you would like to receive future posts, be sure to click here.

Blessings,

How Does Our Homestead Grow? Part II

Note:  Credit must be given to Silver Oak for editing, critiquing, commenting on, and offering Scripture for what is written. This is his vision (as well as mine), and he blesses me for taking time to write it down, freeing him to answer the many projects calling his name “out there.”

Photo:  Taken in FL, in front of our homestead.  Couldn’t resist this rather foreign-looking scene of Silver Oak and Farmer Boy taking Buttercup and her calf to graze at the neighbor’s.

Linked w/Natural Living Mama, Chicken Chick, Barn Hop, Growing Home, Backyard Farming Connection, Down Home Blog Hop, Frugally Sustainable, Homemaking, Wildcrafting Wednesday, HomeAcre Hop, Old Fashioned Friday, Little House in the Suburbs, From the Farm Blog Fest, Farmgirl Friday, and Heritage Homesteading.

Done With Homesteading!

Working at night to install plumbing from our new well to our tiny house.

I’m done.  I’ve had it.  This is not working, and I quit!  If something doesn’t give I’m going to blow up or lose my mind or do something crazy!  Just let me live a normal life again (what’s normal???).

Last week I was really tempted to voice some of those thoughts…and actually I did voice them quite emphatically to the Lord one day.  I felt discouraged and like everything was going wrong.  I KNEW differently, but that is how I FELT.  Graciously, through His Word, He reminded me that He sees the big picture and I am very special and loved by Him.  He reminded me that Eternity is really what I am living for, and that what happens here on this earth is small in comparison.

“I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isa. 43:19b

Of all my worries, the worst was that we would all die, which means going to heaven to be with Jesus!  Whatever difficulties we face here, they are very temporary.  And my Heavenly Father promised to make a way through them.

As I prayed and asked the Lord about my feelings, He helped me to get a more eternal perspective.  I’ve been worried about Silver Oak because he is under extreme pressure trying to juggle his landscaping business with homesteading.  It is not good.  On top of everything else the past month or so he is often awake for hours at night with tingling and burning hands from overdoing himself.  Our bodies can withstand pressure for a time, but there must be relief or things will fall apart.

Evensong’s young Nigerian Dwarf goats. One was tragically killed last week.

One day last week the children and I went to town to help my mom who has helped us so much.  When we returned home a devastating sight met us.  The goats had found the end of the field fencing and crawled through the barbed wire, coming into our living area and eating every living plant we had, except three they don’t like.  Blossom’s newly purchased herbs were destroyed.  Evensong’s rabbitry supplies were knocked down and the feed eaten.

Our new dog Zoe has proven to be a disaster.  She has now killed four of our animals (two chickens, one guinea, and Evensong’s new little Nigerian Dwarf buckling) and injured one (a big rooster in critical condition).  It has been too sad to even mention.  We are finding another family for her.  The day of the goat devastation, Zoe also had a half-eaten chicken lying beside her.

Last week several of Evensong’s baby rabbits were injured by freak accidents.

An injured bunny’s leg bandaged with aloe vera (one of the three remaining plants)

The small diaphram pump that gives us water pressure in our tiny house went out.

It’s raining more and our makeshift deck roof is manifesting its “makeshiftedness.”

The tiny air conditioner in our tiny house quit working, and it is HOT.

The list goes on.  Things like this take time and energy.  In spite of giving nearly all of the daily chores to others in the family, it is just too much for Silver Oak to live with one foot on the homestead and the other in town doing landscaping.  The rest of us are feeling it as well.  I was so overwhelmed one day I took the two and a half gallons of Buttercup’s milk waiting to be processed and poured it all into the chickens’ trough.  What a relief I felt!  If you would have been here I would have given it to you…

So we are praying for a way out.  Silver Oak’s heart is here on the homestead.  He doesn’t want to go to town and plant or trim shrubs for other people.  He wants to be here.

A change must happen and we are asking the Lord for answers.  He knows our limitations and where He wants us.  We simply need to be ready when He opens doors.

On the brighter side, we just received our new solar panels and they are waiting for installation (hmmm, wonder when that can happen??).  Silver Oak has completely installed the plumbing for the new well, pump, and small pressure tank, and no longer has to haul water!  What a huge blessing!  A temporary a/c window unit keeps it around 84° inside when it is in the upper 90’s outside.  We also just restocked our rotating supply of food which had dwindled way down since moving here last fall.  The tax money we recently received made some of these things possible.  God is taking care of us.

Plumbing the “new” well pump (and sediment filter) which we bought used for $50 through Craigslist, saving around $200. It’s working great!

Brown rice, oats, popcorn, and other bulk foods fill our storage buckets

I had to ask myself, “Did God lead us here and provide this homestead for us?  If so, will He give me the grace to face difficulties that may arise?”

Meanwhile we’ve received several messages from fellow Believers of things that are to happen in our country and world soon.  I have never been keen on studying controversial issues in Bible prophecy, or listening to gloom and doom reports, but when people I respect share information or visions about things in our future, and they come from totally different sources and seem to agree with each other and with Scripture, I am ready to sit up and listen.  How many times in history has the Lord mercifully warned His followers so they could prepare?  How many times were warnings ignored by people who didn’t want their comfortable lives rocked?

Maybe I’ve read too many biographies of people living through the takeover of Communism or Hitler’s regime, or other world-changing events.  Some things happening now are similar to what happened before people completely lost their freedoms or their lives.  Think of all the personal information we naïve Americans are encouraged to share via social media, linking ourselves up with each other in “innocent” ways.  What could become of it in the hands of those who decide Bible-believing, homesteading, home educating, and health consious people are “terrorists?”  Why is the Department of Homeland Security purchasing massive amounts of ammunition, and what is the real reason checkpoints are being planned and built on major US highways?  Many other questions could be asked.

In contemplating the growing stress of the past weeks and our future Silver Oak and I have discussed various things:

1)       We must guard against believing it is solely up to us to prepare for emergencies that may happen no matter what else is neglected.  The Lord provides in His timing for things that are His ideas if we are faithful to walk accordingly.  If He doesn’t provide for something we think we need by a certain time, we can trust Him and His Master Plan.  If He allows us to be in a position where we may be hurt or suffer loss, we can trust Him to carry us through whatever happens.  Being in the center of His will is the only safe place to be.

2)      Whatever the Lord shows us about the future or about what we are to be busy doing will always bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ.

3)      As Believers we are called to be servants.  If we are busy preparing for things coming it must include preparations for being the hands and feet of Jesus to others in time of need who may not be prepared.

4)      The ultimate yearning in the heart of Jesus is for all people to come to Him and find Eternal Life.   When there are seekers of Truth we should always be prepared to share.  World Missionary Press makes small Scripture booklets in many different languages for no charge (they are an organization worth supporting!).  We should have a healthy supply of these booklets on hand for use now and in time of emergency when hope is needed.

5)      We must question ourselves whether we are prepared spiritually for what may be coming.  Are we hiding God’s Word in our hearts?  Are we in fellowship with Jesus so we recognize His voice when He gives us specific direction?   Are we ready to die for Him?  Are we communicating Truth and Love to our children so they have a solid foundation in case we are separated?

6)      We must value relationships more than reaching preparedness goals.

7)      Whatever difficulties we face in homesteading or otherwise will possibly make life that much easier when long-term hardships arise.  A life of convenience and ease can leave us ill-prepared, but if we are already toughened up a bit it may be less stressful in the long run.

Our prayer is that the Body of Christ would lead in preparing, for His honor and glory.

Blessings,

Cooking with a Windshield Shade

PS. Our computer difficulties are being resolved, so hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

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What Does the Future Hold?

Our house out in the "boonies," built in the 40's (photo taken before hard freezes the past two winters killed off the hedge along the driveway)

I have not written for a few days because our family is going through some decision-making right now that is taking a bit of concentration.  We recently learned we must move from this wonderful place out in the middle of nowhere.  The quiet and peaceful natural setting we have enjoyed here is something we will greatly miss if we can’t find something similar.  But every time our family has moved, it has been to a place better than the one before, so we must trust that the Lord has something better for us.

We have been caretaking this house and 10+ acres for 6 ½ years for the owner who lives in a neighboring town, but now his daughter and family want to move down from TN and live here.  We knew it would happen someday.  There is no deadline yet, but we are preparing by looking into all the alternatives available.  Moving a family of eight with chickens, goats, a horse, dog and two cats will be no easy feat!

We don’t know what the future holds for us right now; but then, who does?  We can study what HAS happened and what IS happening, and try to predict what WILL happen.  But God alone knows for sure.  It pays to stay close to Him in these uncertain times, and recognize His voice when He gives direction.

Whatever the future holds, God wants us to trust Him and not be afraid.  “Behold, God is my salvation (deliverance); I will trust and not be afraid.”  Isa. 12:2a  When we hear predictions of gloom and doom, it can be tempting to react in fear, or just live in denial.  Facing the uncertain possibilities knowing that the Lord is our Protector and Provider can help us to prepare for what might happen using wisdom and leading from Him.

Surviving Holey Socks

View from our living room window

Playing Survival

The children are huddled around the "campfire" (notice the tent in the background)

Guess what was the children’s game of choice this evening for our weekly family night?  Playing SURVIVAL!  In the living room we set up the toy tent and pretended to live in the woods.  The men got up in the morning to go hunting and the ladies cooked a good stew over the fire… 

Why would our children think it is fun to pretend such things?  Shouldn’t we protect our younguns’ from the possible terrors of the future, so they don’t get anxious and fearful?  I greatly disagree!  We rob our children of confidence in their ability to face a crisis if we don’t prepare them for what could happen!  Children in our society can play every computer game around, but have no clue how to survive without modern conveniences.

When I was in elementary school we had fire drills.  The teacher would inform us ahead of time and remind us of what to do when the fire alarm sounded.  Were we scared?  No way!  It simply became a familiar routine and to us a great diversion.

At our house we’ve practiced our fire escape plan. In the back bedrooms the only escape could be through a window, so we have practiced opening the window and screen and helping little ones out.  Did anyone get scared?  Of course not!  It was done in a relaxed setting and the adults were not scared and tense, so why would the children be?

On the other hand, if you have “protected” your children from fear and one night the smoke alarm goes off for real, the tendency to panic is great, a most dangerous threat to survival.

Our children feel confidence, not fear or anxiety, about what could happen.  We do them a favor to talk about possible scenarios ahead of time and practice appropriate steps with no fear or tension present.  To them it’s another great thing to pretend, and they will be much more prepared emotionally in the event that it does happen.

Bug out Bags

Bug-out Bags

Re-assembling our packs last fall

Are you prepared to leave home at a moment’s notice?  No place in the world is completely immune to natural disasters, and with the current unstable situation, we are also not immune to man-made disasters, including terrorism, civil war, and enemy attack by nuclear or chemical weapons.

There is no use shuddering in fear at the possibilities; neither is it prudent to ignore them.  A prepared person is a confident person (Proverbs 31:21 & 25).

The first step in preparing is maintaining a solid relationship with Jesus Christ and with the people in our lives, and keeping a clear conscience.  Physically, we should have a bag packed for each person in the family with basic supplies to sustain them for at least three days if there is a need to evacuate or “bug out.”  Be prepared for the worst so you won’t be caught by surprise.

We started out with backpacks purchased at thrift stores, and we are gradually replacing them with serious military or hiking packs when we see bargains.  It takes more time doing it this way, so the risks must be weighed.

Here is a list of basic supplies we have made for our three-day packs.  The “littles” obviously cannot carry all their items themselves, so their “big buddies” carry some for them, and some items with an asterisk are found in only one or two of the adult packs.

  • Water bottles with filters such as  Berkey Sport Bottles (alternative:  regular water bottles and purification tablets when clean water is not available)
  • Chlorine or iodine water purification tablets (to purify water for drinking or washing)
  • Energy bars (high calorie)
  • Dried foods
  • MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat): purchased, or homemade
  • Multitool (the Leatherman Wave Multitool is used by survival experts, and is what we use)
  • Rain poncho (avoiding hypothermia is critical)
  • Emergency blanket (extremely light-weight, aluminized, polyester blanket which reflects body heat back to body)
  • *First aid kit (more details another post)
  • *Hand crank radio
  • Heavy duty trash bag (can be used to make a one-man shelter, and other uses)
  • Paracord
  • Mess kit (spoon, fork, plate, cup)
  • Cloth napkin
  • Insect repellent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kleenex, toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Personal hygiene (comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, sanitary supplies)
  • Soap & washcloth
  • Sunscreen, lip balm
  • *Tarp
  • Emergency candles (Dollar Tree has the best price)
  • Whistle
  • Glo sticks (for children in the dark – also cheapest at Dollar Tree)
  • Small Bible or NT
  • Small paper pad & pen, pencil
  • Leather gloves
  • Coffee can with lid (to collect & boil water in)
  • Hard candy or gum
  • Vitamins (& medications, if any)
  • Change of clothes
  • Wool socks (for cold weather)
  • Cash, silver, or other currency
  • *Survival knife (I LOVE my 11″ Full Tang Hunting Knife W/flint! It is one piece stainless steel knife & handle wrapped in paracord for a better grip.)
  • *Folding shovel (entrenching tool)
  • *Sterno Folding Stove & fuel (wonderful for boiling water or heating/cooking food when no fire is possible)
  • Swiss army sleeping bags (very small, compact, and warm)
  • Small toys or activities for the “littles

 Our list continues to be revised, and of course each family will be unique.  This is not intended to be comprehensive, but a guide.
Prep-Utility-Vehicle

Survival Practice, Day One

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Getting Started

When was the first time I thought about being prepared for something that I wasn’t sure was going to happen?  When we first got married 18 years ago I wasn’t even sure I knew how to prepare for things I knew would happen.  I am naturally good at procrastinating, preferring rather to remain engrossed in the more interesting activity of the moment.

 I have learned a lot of hard lessons over the years about the foolishness of not thinking and planning ahead.  Studying the Virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 gives us a picture of the productivity that is possible when we learn to stop what we’re doing and put plans in motion that will allow us to be prepared for whatever may happen.

Eleven years ago we were facing the possibility of our world falling apart, depending on who we listened to.  We prayed about what we should do, if anything, to prepare for Y2K.  We eventually felt we should invest in stores of food and supplies that we would use whether or not there was a crisis.  We learned how to store grains and beans and other non-perishables in Florida’s warm, humid climate.

Getting organized for such a project was a great learning experience all its own.  We purchased our first small generator and accumulated inexpensive items that would make life more bearable in case of a power outage.  Little did we know how these preparations would greatly benefit us, even though Y2K never materialized.  More tomorrow…