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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.