Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Call to Simpler Living? Or is it Expected of Us All?

When Montana Man and I first started out together we expected to be "poor". And we also expected to be miserable about it! Ugh, talk about making lemons rot. Over the last few years I began to appreciate just having "enough". I still hated the months we fell short and sacrificed or went without, but I am now beginning to appreciate those days too. The Lord has never let us go hungry, naked or homeless. No, we have not always had all we want but we have been provided for, and well at that. To Him, I give great thanks! Here is what I have felt called to carefully examine as we prepare to build our house in the next few months: What is enough? Truly? This a question few people will answer honestly, I believe. I know I haven't always and will not always. The Lord has nothing against "happiness" but He does say it is fleeting and to find joy in Him. I have recently been reading a book of my mom's written in the 70's called Living on Less & Liking it More by Maxine Hancock. She uses her families own experience of hardship and also Biblical reference to show what kind of life style is pleasing to God. I have enjoyed it greatly. Lets explore this a bit shall we?

First a verse:

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21

Who/ what has your heart? Does it change daily or even hourly? It does for me! But He is a jealous God and wants our hearts! And He constantly steers me back to Him and shows me that He is what I need most. Yes, most. And He wants me to serve Him through being a good steward of the life, land and love he has given to me. And money.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Simple of it is... money buys stuff! Stuff. The only thing you are going to care about (hopefully!) on your death bed is where your soul is going, not your stuff. Your kids will squabble over that! Well hopefully they won't if they heed to the Lord first ;-)

In the book, Maxine goes through every aspect of living and how to apply principles that are of good stewardship. At the root of taking on this lifestyle is a strong, Jesus centered marriage where the husband and wife are united in oneness. Money, in my mind is not worth fighting about. But Montana Man and I do. We just see differently, I am a saver, he a spender. We are working on it! But we both know we don't want debt, big bills or financial insecurity. It is a goal, not an overnight fix to all problems with money to declare the Lord our focus. But He will and does bless us for our diligence and attitude.

So, then what do you spend and on what??

Food. Bit obvious but it deems further explaining. Food is first and foremost for nutrition and Maxine explains this at length. I will briefly. Don't buy expensive CRAP. Buy whole food and cook. Can't cook? LEARN! Buying ready made dinners and takeout is not being a good steward of money or your body. There are some exceptions to this, like if you are traveling or you just had a baby and need a faster dinner solution. But even then there are creative ways to get around spending a bunch of money and also for others to bless you!

Clothing. I'm going to get in trouble for this one... Clothes are for covering your nakedness and warmth. Yes, they also can be pretty and "fashionable" but at the end of the day they end up in a heap in the hamper or on the floor. If you personally know me you will already know I HATE clothes shopping. It might be because I have body image issues (which is a whole 'nother can o' worms), but I also hate how much they cost! It's ridiculous, $20 for a shirt? $75 or more for jeans? No thanks. The majority of clothing I have worn in my life time have been hand-me-down, thrift or a gift. And I wear them until they are unwearable (sometimes longer hahaha!) Then there is the question of modesty. Told you this was going to get me in trouble. Ladies I'm going to be harsh. COVER UP. Not even joking. Not just Sunday, everyday. Boobs? Cover. Butt? Cover. Belly? Cover. Thighs where they connect to your crotch? COVER. Personally, I don't go above my knees much. Now, I am not saying be matronly. You can still be pretty but "sexy" should not be your focus (I sense another blog post on this one). Besides, beauty should be form within, and yes that really does show. Save sexy for your husband and a locked door ;-)

Housing. This is where being financially conservative people fail big time. No matter how you slice it, bigger here is not better. I will post more on this soon as there is a lot I have to say as we build, so don't start hating me yet. By the way, our new (and final) house plan is a log cabin with a comfy total of 665 square feet with options to grow. Keep your pants on! I know you must be so excited to hear how we will make that work with kids!

Giving. I will not go crazy here. Maxine outlines tithing, giving within a budget and giving with the right motives. Everyone who is a Christian is required to give. We tend to give our time and food because we don't have a ton of money but that will be re-evaluated soon and changed. Then I will feel more comfortable writing about it.

Transportation. The last area I will address today. This can be so broad and hard to manage perfectly. Most of us need a loan to buy a car. Personally we just traded my car for an SUV but I bought a used one with over 100K on it. It is not my ideal color or model, it does not get super gas mileage, but it fits our needs. I don't drive a lot so the greater gas mileage is not a huge problem for us. Our other vehicle is a 1996 truck. It has been fixed a zillion times but it still runs great and my husband loves it. We are grateful... most of the time! When they need fixing we could push them off a cliff. My basic point is, you don't need an SUV if you are single and live in the city, unless you own a bunch of dogs ;-) Buy only what you need!

I would encourage you to track down a copy of the book. Maxine says it so much better than me! But I feel strongly that the homesteading lifestyle demands these principles and felt inclined to share a little. Obviously this is a faith based concept and therefore not all will catch my drift but I would pray they be curious!

Want to share your thoughts? Go for it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Waiting for Warmer Weather

This time of year is almost harder than winter to be patient. Spring has been colder this year and it has been a bit frustrating for me! But, today made me feel better. We finally got our greenhouse up. It has been sitting waiting for the snow to melt and now we finally had a spot to put it. Now it just needs to be warm enough to keep a night temperature of about 50 degrees for us to be able to put the seedlings out... maybe only 35 degrees for the cabbages. I am praying for warmer weather soon!

Also, we got ducklings and chicks today!!! Hallelujah! I have waited my whole life to have chickens. We had a duck before but he was a pet (and a weasel got him a couple years ago). We now have 6 Pekin ducks (that are 3 weeks old) and 12 Golden Comet pullets that we bought from Tractor Supply. They have all adjusted well their new home and seem happy.

I plan to keep records of the cost to keep all the birds to see if we save any money and see how free ranging in a chicken tractor will help. The ducks will hopefully take to the pond when their feathers come in and enjoy the vegetation in it. The ducks will only be with us until fall, they are for meat... unless a female steps up and wants to make eggs!

Because we are not able to make a permanent coop for the chickens yet we will be making a tractor style coop to allow the chickens to "free range" yet be safe from dogs, cat and hawks. I will post about it when Montana Man builds it.

This will be a great learning experience for Puzzle Boy! He is fascinated by the little birds.

Even our Morgan horse Bub had to check out his new barn mates!

I had to share another picture of our beautiful stallion. He is quite plump right now from all his free choice hay ;-)

Today felt like such a leap toward our goals. The prospect on of our garden and now eggs and meat are such a triumph after years of inability. Now we are getting somewhere! Anyone want to share their spring adventures?