Early impressions shaping our worldview (see last post) opened the door for us to consider decisions affecting our lifestyle choices and dreams, leading us to eventually live off the grid. Here is one decision that did that.
One “radical” decision monumentally affecting our lives was not to live with debt. One Biblical perspective admonishes that debt is bondage God intended as a curse, not for His Beloved (Deut. 15:6; 28:12, 44; Prov. 22:7). Because credit and debt is the mainspring of our modern economy, Silver Oak’s uncle challenged that without a firm commitment (vow) to live only within the means God provides, we WILL eventually borrow. After weeks of prayer, we felt God’s confirmation to make that commitment, taking us on many sometimes scary but rewarding adventures! Our faith has greatly increased by repeatedly witnessing God’s provision for His leading, often at the last minute.
Three years ago, the 20 acres that became our homestead was the only available local property fitting our needs, desires, and dreams that our cash could buy. That made God’s leading clear. An option to borrow would probably have resulted in something less than God’s best.
We didn’t have the $15k needed to bring electric lines back to the home site, and an $8k simple solar power system made more long-term sense anyway. We had hoped to “some day” live independent of the grid, so with this little “push” the Lord helped it happen. The longer we live off the grid system, the more value we see in it.
Since it took nearly all available cash to purchase the property, none remained for a house…normally a bad idea, but the only option for realizing our dream. We scoured the internet for alternative housing ideas. Some made sense; others were quite costly. At that time Silver Oak’s cousin just “happened” to be selling his old Great Dane semi trailer converted first into an office, then into living quarters. He offered a very affordable price, but we still did not have enough. A tax refund came just in time to buy our tiny house, an old storage shed, and a few other things to set up our home. While waiting we lived for several weeks in my parents’ camper.
First, we had enough funds to buy two 6-volt deep-cycle batteries for lights and a few other basics. We soon added an 18cu ft energy star fridge purchased through Craigslist, and more batteries, gradually adding more until we had ten, and a 2 kw inverter. Later the Lord graciously provided through a large adoption tax credit that enabled us to purchase solar panels and a new generator to replace our worn out one.
As time went on, we added a large deck and roof, using many repurposed or free materials. We installed our windmill for pumping water from the well we dug, added rainwater storage tanks, lots of fences, fruit and olive trees, edible landscaping, and Buttercup, our Jersey cow. We purchased a window a/c unit and ceiling fans, and a greenhouse cover and a shade cloth for our large bio-shelter.
The first year we rented a skid loader and root rake for two weekends to help clear our driveway winding back through the woods to our home site, and prepare a home site area and another place for a future cabin or small pasture. The following year as finances allowed we rented it again for a week to clear fencerows and enlarge pasture space. In between, we did lots of work by hand (and sweat), but it was satisfying.
Waiting for funds instead of instant gratification encourages gratefulness for each need met. It often saves money and energy in the end, allowing time to find better deals or solutions, or for God’s provision another way. It often eliminates or changes the need. With tight finances, we enjoy having no mortgage payment, and no risk of foreclosure in economic collapse or income loss. Free to serve the Lord whenever or wherever He calls, we are not slaves to a bank. We gladly give up “stuff” and conveniences for that. Jesus said, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15b
By NOT borrowing God provided for our four international adoptions. Adoption fees and expenses cost over three years of income for us, not including income and business losses being overseas many months. Funding came mostly from selling a small property that was worth little when we purchased it, but sold for much more a few years after rezoning battles and growth of the real estate bubble in 2005.
With an option to borrow, we would have purchased the adjoining property and house earlier, accepting debt “slavery” and probably unable to consider adoption for years. Alternatively, after rezoning made it buildable, we would have borrowed to build our dream home on that property. Instead, out of debt, but facing hopelessly large adoption costs, we put up a “For Sale” sign. Naïve, we were clueless that the property value had increased so drastically, until a realtor friend “happened” to see our sign. He got us a contract and large down payment just weeks before we needed to fly overseas for our first adoption. We would have missed that huge faith-builder with a loan.
Sometimes poor management or errors have forced a few months of credit card debt (card designated for online purchases only with cash to cover it immediately). Or we can’t pay immediately for services. Although not fun, we appreciate these reproofs and the built-in safeguards when carefully living within our means.
Living debt-free is not the only reason we homestead off the grid. I will share more soon!
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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.”
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.