Sunday, August 14, 2011

Living off-grid... and on-God

If you've followed this blog long enough or know me, you know that I am from the Bronx, in NYC. I grew up a city girl -- I (still!) lock my doors every time (even when getting gas at the station), I am weary of streets that don't have lampposts and I have a huge "shriek, eek and yuck" response potential at things like spiders, worms and anything other creepy-crawly things that might fall into this category.

YET -- I want to be a country girl.

Part of it may be the nesting factor for when I was pregnant with my first, I had definite desire to bake apple pies from scratch (and get the apples from the apple tree that I envisioned), to learn to knit and purl, to can, to use only natural and homemade materials for cleaning and grooming and so on.

Thing is, these desires didn't LEAVE after Eliel was born. If anything, they increased and over the last 2.5 years, have developed into a full-blown desire to live off the land. The other day, my husband asked me what was my "life desire" -- kind of similar to the "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question.
My answer: "to homeschool and to homestead".

So as I quickly told him later -- "sorry honey, you married Anne of Green Gables meets Little House on the Prairie. I didn't know I had that in me. I didn't see it coming at all!"

I think he is recovering nicely. :)

But I should have seen it coming --- there was always a fascination with mason jars, handmade quilts, rockers on a Southern porch and so on. Now I know living in the country is beyond these highly commercialized "country-items", but you get my point. I think it's always been in me and that's where we are headed.

This decision, this lifestyle is driven financially, biblically and preferentially (which has relations to time, family values and personal satisfaction). Where did it start? Or, at least, where did I start sensing it?

Somewhat at all the same time, I was taking a harder look at the food we purchase at the grocery store (and realizing how much extra and unnecessary "stuff" is in there, even with supposed organic food), assessing our budget and financial picture (including our house), hearing myself tell my son that we will play together with his cars after I finish cleaning our 3rd bathroom, having a blast making my own pasta completely by hand (no pasta maker for me! 2 ingredients and some hand rolling and cutting), enjoying a delicious 4-ingredient (all natural foods) homemade pasta sauce, hating the "chemical" smell of household cleaners lingering in the air hours later, and the cheap thrill of smelling basil still on my hands after plucking fresh from the plant for dinner...

And taking this further, to a biblical context, Scripture says:

2 Thes 3:10, 12

Whoever does not work should not eat...Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.

Romans 13:8
Let no debt remain outstanding.

Proverbs 22:7(b)

...the borrower is slave to the lender.

Matthew 6:24

You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Proverbs 28:19

Those who work their land will have abundant food.

Proverbs 10:5

He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

The math was just adding up.

With this, I see homesteading as a natural way of life, as God intended. To be self-reliant and self-sufficient. Not in the "selfish" way of "look at me, I can rely on myself, I don't even need God for food" and go popping your shirt Superman-style to revel an undershirt with a big capital "S"...that's not the mindset I am talking about. (Even if I, yeah me, grew some corn, God's made that miracle happen, the process occur....) But I am talking about being a good steward of what God's given us -- the land, the food that I can grow, the hands that I can work with, my mind that can work out the details.

The other concept is about our money (or the use of it) and what we are indebted or bound to. Again, maybe it's the pregnancy, but I definitely question the need, the long-term benefit, the importance of today's current houses and our lifestyles. Do we really need three bathrooms? A family room, a living room AND a rec room? His and her cars or sinks? At what point are we just now working for the acquiring (and then sometimes maintenance or storage) of these things or lifestyle, that it takes us from the real important things? Again, my example, is that I am cleaning our 3rd bathroom instead of playing with my son. And that's not my only example!

So with the - what I believe is inherent to God's people - desire to live off and work the land, to not be indebted to others, to be good stewards of what's been given to us (our time, our giftings, our families and children), we are looking to turn towards what I mentioned to my husband, the "homesteading and homeschooling lifestyle".

It's a running "joke" but the new American national anthem is "I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go." And I don't see that as, in any way beneficial, or really, funny -- I don't want to be enslaved or bounded to a mortgage, to credit cards, to "things".

In the Book of Ezra, it says, "eat the good things of the land and leave it to your children as an everlasting inheritance" and in Proverbs 13:22, it says "A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous". Would it make you or your children happier to be left the 64in plasma tv that still has 20 payments, an expired warranty and no place in heaven? What about all the time one worked for that tv as opposed to being with the children? I've heard more than a fair share of stories where after a parent dies, the children either fight over the belongings and wound each other in the process or sever relations (seriously??!!) or are left with serious debts that affect their immediate families.

This is NOT the inheritance I want to leave my children nor the lesson I want to teach them during our lifetime. So we are making the bold step in changing our lifestyle drastically. With that, our house is currently on the market and I've been reading books and blogs on homesteading and living off the grid.

I realize this is a journey, with this being the very smallest of first steps. But I am definitely excited and feel at peace with this decision.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations! There will be blood sweat and tears but it is rewarding. We made the move to 9 acres 30 minutes from town in December. We have butchered our own meat chickens, we have laying hens that we collect eggs from, there are 5 fat turkeys outside waiting for Thanksgiving (or perhaps I am the one waiting for Thanksgiving:)) and we have 3 dairy goats that we milk and make cheese and yogurt from the milk (as well as drink the milk). I hope to have a garden next year. I just have to be better prepared with fences so the goats don't eat all of my plants. We also hope to raise our own pigs next year as well. Be blessed in your endeavor. Oh and a couple of books I recommend are Family Friendly Farming my Joel Saladin and The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball.


Thank you so much for sharing your heart!