homesteading

Life As We Know It

It’s been a little over a month since we left Mexico and moved back to Washington. Many things have happened in this time.

I have had to work through and process quite a bit. Some things I expected, others I had no idea I would be experiencing.

Recently the small town we moved from in Mexico was ravaged by fire. When I heard the news I couldn’t believe the damage that was happening. I had received a text from my mom saying that our daughter, Sarah and her husband were safe from the fire and were in the states. My mind started whirling. What was she talking about? Fire? What fire?

You must understand that we don’t get texts at our cabin easily. We have to hike out to a place on the property that we call our “phone booth” which is an old stump about 1/4 of a mile from our house. This particular day we were headed to town and we hadn’t checked any of our phone messages because we knew we would soon have cell service. Once we arrived in town we started receiving more and more texts. Then I received a message saying that one of the homes we lived in, in Mexico was completely gone due to the fire.

I couldn’t believe it. What was going on? I immediately tried to get a hold of our daughter to get more information and to make sure she was, in fact, alright. After several tries we finally got a hold of her. She and her husband were definitely safe and weren’t planning on going back to Mexico for a few days. My mama heart was trying to reign in my emotions and trying not to freak out. I had to give it to God and remind myself that He is in control. There was nothing I could do. I had to pray.

Pretty soon we started seeing photos of the devastation. We saw a photo that showed our daughter, Storm’s little casa was still standing, which is amazing because it was constructed out of wood. We heard reports of homes being burned and others completely unharmed. We continued our prayers for the next several days as the winds picked up and we were getting reports of other fires happening within the area. I thought of all of our friends there, my students, my family.

Then I thought, “God, we were just there. Why now?” I don’t have the answer to this, but I know that God’s timing is perfect and that He uses all things for His glory.

Needless to say, We are loving being back at our cabin and the rest has been very good for us. We have done ministry in some form or another for 20 years – the last 15 have been more intense ministry. Now that we are at the property it’s been great to just take in the fresh air, sunshine, and each other. We have had God divine appointments there and have had several opportunities to minister and pray with those in the area. Ministry doesn’t always look the same, which I believe is a good thing. We are still loving the one in front of us which is what we are all about.

We do travel to my parents home once a month and our church that is close by has hired my husband to do maintenance whenever he is available, which is fantastic.

We were recently blessed with some more solar panels. We are excited to install them especially as winter approaches and our small unit that we have been using doesn’t charge the batteries enough this time of year.

It’s been fairly easy getting back into the groove of living off-grid. I love the simpler lifestyle and the fact that we don’t have access to the internet or technology to waste our time. Things are very intentional on the mountain. Conversations are deep and sometimes silly.

I’m sure I will be processing what we have experienced in Mexico for awhile and I don’t know what that will look like. I have had many moments of tears, but I know that God sees each one and I take comfort in each day that I get to breathe a breath.

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habbakuk 3:19

Photo taken by Love Story Foundation

homesteading

Reliving the Oregon Trail?

Broken down, sifting through boxes that had been packed, making decisions on what to keep and what to donate, headed to an off-grid cabin I begin to think to myself, “Did I just step back in time?”

Years ago, when we first moved to our little cabin in the woods I found myself relating to the pioneers as a result of no electricity, having to haul water, and just the simpler lifestyle. Today, I was having a whole different understanding – one that I didn’t particularly want or ask to understand. We were on a journey to move from Mexico back to our home state of Washington.  After a month of planning and packing, and goodbyes had been said, we were finally on the road.

It was late at night, and we made a stop north of Los Angeles to stretch our legs and use the restroom. We had taken all three of our vehicles and a utility trailer with us. Mark and I were in one car, Storm and her dog, Koda, were in the big truck, and our daughter, Sarah, and her husband were in our little Nissan truck. After our restroom break we were all set. “Head ’em up, move ’em out!” My husband called out. We began to pull forward when we noticed the Nissan not moving. We had walkie talkies in each vehicle as a way of communicating. Suddenly we heard Cole over the speaker say the truck wasn’t starting. No big deal. We have had that happen in the past and even had a few mechanics look at the problem and thought the last mechanic had fixed it. After a few more tries – still nothing. We even tried to push start it as its a manual transmission. Still no luck. We were definitely stuck. After trying to push start the truck it ended up at the far end of the Walmart parking lot where we parked it and we all gathered around going over our options.

We finally decided to go to an auto parts store and buy an inexpensive part that we thought may fix the problem. Mark and I left to search out this store, in an unknown area, at 10:00 at night. What parts store is open that late at night? Thank goodness we found one. (Is this the city that never sleeps?) Our other travelers were left behind to watch over the vehicles and our belongings. When we arrived back at the broken down truck, we were all hopeful that this $18.99 part would fix our problem and we would be on our way north. We all prayed before we put the new part in. My husband easily took out the old relay switch and put the new one in (in the past this had fixed the problem). We all kept our fingers crossed. Cole jumped into the driver’s seat to try and start the little truck…nothing. The engine didn’t turn over. Nada.

With deflated hopes we gathered around again and began to discuss more options. This truck was full of our things. Even if we had the truck towed to a junk yard, what would we do with all of our belongings? We thought maybe getting a U Haul trailer would be the best option, so we sought out the cost of renting one. Whoa, too much money! Another option was getting a motel room, finding a mechanic in the morning, and seeing how much it would cost to fix the Nissan. If they had the part and could fix it that would put us a day or two behind our schedule. More ideas were discussed. When finally my husband said, “I’m going to call our Pastor in Mexico and see if he wants the truck.” We all agreed that was a viable option. We knew it was probably an easy fix and it could be a blessing to anyone if they could just get it started. The phone call was made and things were talked about. It was all set. Some men would be by in the morning to come pick it up.

Now we had a truckload of things deal with. What should we keep and what should be donated? Our other two vehicles and our utility trailer were packed pretty tight, so we didn’t have much room to add more things inside of them. By then it was about midnight and we were sifting through boxes, bags, and vehicles to try to decide what to keep or toss. I was exhausted. Moving is never fun and I just wanted to rest. Rest wasn’t an option right now, so we pressed on. Looking inside boxes I had tea cups, curriculum that I had used to teach not only my own children, but the students in Mexico, shoes, clothes, pots and pans, etc. One by one deciding to get rid of what was not a necessity, I began to think to myself, “Is this a taste of what it was like for those families traveling on the prairie?” We hear stories of how things were left behind – boxes of books, sewing machines, pianos, family heirlooms that had to be tossed to the side because it was too much weight for the rocky hills.

I began to cry silently to myself, thinking its dark, no one will see me. When a moment later my daughter, Sarah, put her arms around me and just stood next to me. No words were spoken. She just rested her arm around me with her hand on my shoulder and everything stopped at that moment. I knew it would be okay. Its just stuff. It can be replaced. How many times have I started over in my life leaving behind everything to start something new? For me, many times. I looked around and saw my family – all willing to help, willing to get rid of their things as well. It wasn’t just my stuff that had to be left behind. Storm left things. Mark left things. They were so willing to make the sacrifice with a joyful heart. God. My family. I love them and they are what’s truly important to me.

Realizing all of these “things” will one day burn made the decision making process much easier. I began willingly getting rid of the things that I thought meant so much to me. Cole and Mark worked hard that night and unpacked and repacked the cars and when it was all finished we were able to fit what we “needed” into the two vehicles and trailer. When it was all said and done, I thought, “Wow. We could have saved ourselves a whole lot of packing if we would have donated this stuff in Mexico.”

My heart has always loved stories about the Oregon Trail. After living in the mountains in a hunter’s cabin I feel even more drawn to the pioneers that settled in the West. Now, more than ever, I have a heart for those men and women who made sacrifices in hopes of making a better life for their family. Many suffered and died along the way. I have no doubt the survivors learned lessons that stuck with them their whole life. My hope is that I will not forget those hard lessons that I have had to learn in life. Today my lesson is not taking for granted each day that I have with my family. I want to keep loving on them, keeping the relationships growing and maturing into something beautiful because soon some of our family members won’t be around. Cole and Sarah will be flying back to Mexico and I don’t know when I will see them again. Our parents are getting older and I need to spend as much time as I can with them. They have wisdom and insight that I want to glean from them. What is truly important? Time. You can’t get one second back. Make it count. Love the one in front of you! 

A verse that kept coming back to me is Matthew 6:19-24 “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 your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

Father, thank you for your goodness. Please forgive me when I doubt and things don’t go the way I had planned. I know that all things work together for good for those that are in you. When things get difficult and trials come, I know that you are working toward something greater than I could ever imagine. I pray that I will always trust and rest in you. Amen. 

Below is a link to a song that I love called Pioneer by Nancy Honeytree. I came across it years ago just before we moved to our cabin. It helped me when loneliness and doubt crept in our first year of living off-grid. I thought it was fitting for this blog post.

Nancy Honeytree song Pioneer

homesteading

Got Salve?

I had the joy of doing something that I enjoy very much! I was able to make some Healing Honey Balm.

We all have passions in life and mine has become making salves, lotions, lip balm, and soap. Before we moved to Mexico, I had a small business selling my creations. However, after we moved it was difficult to get the supplies and my time has been taken up with teaching and planning for school. Now that summer is fast approaching, I hope to set more time aside and continue this hobby.

I love reading scripture that talk about different oils and herbs. Gleaning the knowledge that the Bible has, I have learned much about olive oil, frankincense, myrrh, milk, and many other natural things with healing properties.

My salve consists of unrefined beeswax, olive oil infused with lavender and calendula, almond oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E oil. We use it to moisturize, stop itching from mosquito bites, rashes, and some people use it on psoriasis with great results.

Thank you Lord for giving us an abundance of things in your creation to help our body, mind, and soul.

“After she (Esther) had been purified twelve months, according to the law of the women (for so the days of their anointing were done, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors, and with the perfumes of the women).

christianity, homesteading, Missions

Selfless Love

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” Matthew 7:9

My daughter, Storm, recently moved into the house right next door to us in Mexico. The whole thing is crazy to think about. What are the odds that the house next to us would come up for rent?

God’s timing is amazing. We are currently in a two bedroom home and our girls were having to share a room. This wasn’t a big deal and they have shared a room most of their life. However, we knew that we were either going to build a Casita on our current property or look for something to rent, as we have guests on a regular basis and it would allow for our oldest daughter to have her own place.

We had been praying about what to do. We knew building a Casita would cost some money and it would take a great amount of labor.

We had been getting to know our neighbors next door to us and had given their children some crayons, snacks, and other things that we knew they could use. We were sharing Christ whenever we could and sometimes sang worship songs to them playing the guitar.

One day we noticed their house was pretty quiet, but didn’t think much of it. A few more days passed and we still hadn’t seen anyone coming to or from their home. We began to wonder if they had moved. We were sad at the thought of not seeing them anymore, but wondered if this was the answer to our prayers.

Eventually, we saw a man whom we had never seen before doing some cleaning and taking many things out of the house. We asked a friend of ours if she could translate for us and find out if the house was available to rent. Sure enough, the home was for rent and the owner turned out to be the uncle of our dear friend! Long story short, we were able to rent the house!

When we received the keys and the lease was signed, we began work on it right away. It is a two bedroom, one bath home, which is perfect. Storm gets her room and we have a guest room where people can stay. Our daughter loves the Hispanic colors and wanted everything bright and cheery. The landlord gave us permission to paint it any color she wanted.

Our whole family has been pitching in. I have been helping the most with painting, which is not an easy task. I don’t like heights and getting up on a ladder is not my idea of fun. Especially when you are on it for a few minutes then have to get down, move it, and climb back up, and do this over and over again.

The thing that kept pushing me through was knowing that my daughter would be so happy to see the finished project. I knew she would have a smile that would radiate the whole house. I knew she would be so grateful and appreciative that I took time out of my busy life to spend it with her and to help wherever and whenever I could.

This made me think of Jesus and how He was so willing to come to this earth and die a horrible death so that we could be with Him forever. He is the example of selfless love that I want to be for Him and for all the people in my life.

In the Bible I see how busy Jesus was. He was surrounded by people. Some truly interested in what He was teaching, others just wanted to be fed or experience miracles. Yet, He took time out to be alone with the Father each morning. He had to be filled before He could minister to others. This is a good reminder for me. I need to seek God and spend restful time with Him before I can even hope to love on others.

The house is almost finished! We are doing little odds and ends to finish it up and with the help of some generous friends, Storm has furniture and dishes to go inside her home! God is so good!

Photo of her dining room/kitchen wall. She painted a neat vine to separate the colors.

christianity, homesteading, Uncategorized

Go into all the World…

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

A few months back I wrote a blog post called, “Send Me.” Little did I know just what those wordsTraditional-Mexican-Food-Recipes-2 would mean in the short time to follow. I meant what I said with all my heart, “Lord, send me.”

However, I did not think that it would happen so suddenly. My husband and I met a man recently that God has used to change the course of our lives. This man came to one of our home fellowships and really hit it off with my husband. Over the next few months, we have had several meetings with him, fellow-shipping and breaking bread together. He is in the Navy, but on his down time, he does short mission trips to Mexico.

One evening after spending several hours talking about our life living off-grid and discussing this gentleman’s mission trips, he asked my husband and I if we would pray about moving to Mexico permanently to be caregivers of a mission house. We were stunned. We had been feeling like change was on the horizon, but didn’t know when, and most assuredly didn’t know what we would be doing.

We prayed that evening together and as we were laying in bed I said to my husband, “I feel like if they asked us to go tomorrow, I could.” I had a peace wash over me. Mark replied, “I feel the same way!” So the past few weeks, we have been preparing and letting family members know. God is opening the door wide! (Revelations 3:7 & 8) God is going before us. He has already had funding come in and the house is being prepared as I write this.

Our two daughters will be coming with us and our son will be staying in Washington. He is almost 20 and has a good job. He feels like God is telling him to stay behind. As we prepare, the Lord has shown us more and more what we would be doing in Mexico.

Some of the other missionaries found out that I homeschool and have asked me to teach their kids! I am so excited about this. I thought my years of teaching would be coming to an end soon and here, God has made it clear that this could be just the beginning. My husband will be teaching Bible, doing building projects, marital counseling, and much more. All of us will be helping out at the orphanages, medical clinic, and churches in the area.

Although this has been a shock, we are all very excited. I have moments when worry and fear can consume me, but in the end, I know that God will take care of us. I understand it will not always be easy but I can see how God’s hand is on this journey and I believe our days of living off-grid has prepared us “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)

 

homesteading

Let there be Light

I will never forget the day when we got light switches installed in our little cabin. We had been using kerosene lanterns to light our dark nights with. Which, was romantic for awhile but soon the small light that the lanterns enabled us to see by were not enough. Especially if we had just had a long day in town and came home to a cold, dark house. Having to use a flashlight to find the matches to light up the kerosene lanterns was a chore all in itself and with the glass lamps not giving off much light and moving them from one place to another, we risked them breaking or spilling the oil and causing a bigger problem.

Finally we decided it was time to set up our electricity. My husband had been working all day with the electrical wiring and I couldn’t wait to be able to see if the lights were actually going to work. Our son, Aaron had been watching him intently and my husband was explaining the process with him. Showing him the negative, positive, and neutral wires.

At last the task was done and we fired up the generator. Mark (my husband) called me over and said, “Christine, check out your new lights!” He pointed to the switch and indicated that he wanted me to be the first one to turn the light switch on. I quickly flipped the switch and low and behold we had light! No fumbling for a flashlight. No worrying about batteries being drained. No risk of knocking over a lamp of oil. Just a perfect switch that gave off light immediately.

I spent the next few moments in awe…flicking the switch on and off. Amazed that the light worked properly each time. Appreciative that we had a way to light up our humble home. It was such a small blessing, but it was huge in my eyes.

I imagined God when He created the universe and created light. The Bible says, “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep…Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light! And God saw the light, that it was good. – Genesis 1:2,3

Light is good…very, very good.

To read more about our off-grid living please order my book, Beautiful Dependence at our website.sunlight

 

christianity, homesteading

Threshing Floor

Being refined when you don’t like confrontation.

(Taken from my book, Beautiful Dependence)

…As we drove up the long, winding dirt road to the small cabin, I wondered how our lives would change. I knew this move would provide change in all of us for sure, but what I didn’t know was that I would be threshed like the threshing of wheat and, that our trials would be numerous. However, it would be through those various trials that I would become the clay jar with a great treasure in it shining Christ for all to see (2 Corinthians 4:7).

____________________________

Thinking back to the first time we drove up to our small cabin in the woods I remember being so excited about the adventure ahead of us. The first year was our hardest year physically. We had to completely change our way of life and learn to do things in a much different way than our 21st century lives taught us. However, I learned that life, even though work was harder, was more simple.

I was being squeezed spiritually and emotionally. Now, I am not one that likes confrontation. I try to avoid it at all costs. Sometimes this is a good thing. It helps to diffuse trivial arguments. However, confrontation is sometimes needed. When I look at Jesus’s life, he didn’t go looking for confrontation, but he didn’t shy away from it either. He spoke truth when truth needed to be spoken, knowing the truth would be a blessing to those who would listen.

As we were living in this simple way of life, I was realizing that I had some big issues that I needed to deal with. I was seeing how negative I could be even in the midst of blessing, I was afraid of being hurt, I was pulling away from my husband in hopes that I wouldn’t have to confront my issues.

God loves me too much to leave me where I was. When I thought about the woman caught in adultery, He said to her, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He confronted the sin, but encouraged her to no longer live in sin. God had begun the refining process. With my husband’s help and after finally crying out, the process started. There was nothing left to do but get into the word daily. I had to. It was the only thing that gave me peace. Slowly, I saw changes happening in my attitude toward life.

The threshing floor is a process of beating the wheat to receive a harvest of grain. Without the beating and hammering of the wheat there is no harvest. I am now experiencing the harvest!

Thank you Father, for refining me. I am free of worries and fears because you took the time to thresh me. I can see each day as a gift and every sunrise and sunset put before me is a present that I enjoy you unwrapping for all to see.

(To read exactly how I became free please order the book, Beautiful Dependence.)