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

christianity, Uncategorized

Looking Ahead

Our house is full of boxes once again, things are in disarray, not in their normal places. But one thing is consistent…I have peace.

As I stare out the window facing the ocean, I am reflecting about our time in Mexico. I have shed many tears here. Some happy, some sad, and some full of anger. Anger at the suffering we see, anger that it’s an unjust and unfair world.

I know when Eve offered the fruit to Adam and he ate (Genesis 3:6) that was not the road God had wanted them to travel down. But thanks be to God he is bigger than our mistakes. He had a plan. A plan that would cost His son’s life. But, an awesome plan that would wipe away every spot and blemish, every sinful thought, every tear from our eyes. Yes, it would be thousands of years later, but it would happen just as he promised.

Moving back to Washington was not on the radar three months ago. In fact, we were talking about making Mexico our long-term plan. We have been asked many times over the past two years what our plan was. “How long will you be here?” is a common question. Our response has always been, “As long as God calls us here.” We held Mexico with an open hand.

Our ministry is called Cherith Brook based out of 1 King’s 17, where Elijah went to hide and the crows fed him because there was a famine. As I was staring out our window, I felt like I should revisit this story in scripture, but continue to read further down the chapter.

Eventually the Brook dries up. Cherith Brook, where he would get his thirst quenched no longer produced the nourishment his body needed. So what next? What was he to do?

1 Kings 17:8 says, “Then the LORD said to Elijah, Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

I love this because God continues to direct Elijah. He doesn’t leave him hanging. He gives instructions and tells him exactly where to go. Elijah listens and obeys. He doesn’t know all the details. He just goes.

As the story continues we see some miracles, which is awesome! But, for me, I felt like God saying, “I got this Christine. I am calling you back to Washington. I have a plan. Do you trust me?”

This past month we have seen God open so many doors for us, making it clear that He is definitely calling us to Washington. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know the entire plan. We are taking it one step at a time as He directs us.

Two years ago, as we were pulling away from our cabin (the original Cherith Brook) to move down to Mexico, I had a choice. Do I look back longingly like Lot’s wife did? Or, do I look ahead at the adventure before us. I had a huge choice to make.

Quite a bit happened at that cabin. It was where God met me and I had to face some hard truths about myself that I didn’t want to see. I became FREE there. When we were in the truck pulling away from our beloved place on earth, I decided not to look back. I knew God wanted us in Mexico and I didn’t want to be disobedient in my heart. I had to push forward with the thought that I may never live on the mountain again. I gave it up.

Here we are, returning to a home, that I love. It’s not pretty. It needs a lot of work. But, I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store. I’m sure there will be trials-there always are in life. However, I am excited to experience the next chapter, so I can learn and continue to grow.

Sometimes the future just doesn’t make sense. Many good things are happening in Mexico. Why would God have us move now? I don’t have the answer to this. But, a verse comes to mind and it is this:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

Thank you, Lord for always directing our footsteps. We may not like the direction you are leading us, but it always works out to our benefit. I pray that wherever we are, your light will always shine through us and that you will continue to enable us to love the one in front of us. Amen.

christianity, family, Uncategorized

Abalone Shells and Sand Dollars

When I was a little girl I used to think what if all the glistening sand on the beach was my money? I would be one wealthy little girl! Oh, what I would do with all that cash!

Today my husband and I went on a walk at our local beach, here in Mexico. It was a beautiful warm afternoon. I smiled as I looked down at my sandy toes and saw the gold colored sand twinkling on the path before us. I suddenly remembered my thoughts as a little girl and thinking about the sand being money.I laughed as my thoughts on money have changed quite drastically as an adult.

As we continued on down the beach, we noticed some small sand dollars. They were so unique and each one a little different. We walked farther and came across an abalone shell which was even more glorious as it’s rainbow of color shone in the sun.

After looking at these treasures I, again, thought of things that I used to think as important or precious (house, car, a good hair day, cool jeans, etc.) and what I see as treasures to me now. Quite a different list.

Today my treasure was spending time with my husband, holding his hand on the beach, talking about life. Seeing the sand dollars and the abalone shell and being reminded that God put those along our path for my pleasure. It gave me joy to see such small things that were God created, not man created.

What is your treasure today? What are you thankful for?

“Do not store 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…for where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

homeschooling, marriage, Uncategorized

A Marriage Proposal

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

What a week it has been! Our youngest daughter took her final exit exam for high school, graduated, and got a marriage proposal!

We have prayed for our kids’ futures since the day they were born. We prayed for God’s will to be done in their lives and if marriage was part of that will that they would find the perfect spouse that God had created specifically for them.

I believe Sarah has found the man God intended for her. It is exciting to watch and see how God worked it all out.

Sarah was 16 when we moved to Mexico. Needless to say, she wasn’t very happy with us. She was leaving her friends, grandparents, extended family, and everything familiar to move to a foreign land that may or may not have running water.

She was bitter and had been plotting how she could get back to the states before turning 18. She thought maybe she could go live with my parents and come down to visit us every so often.

After three weeks of being angry, she talks about how she realized that she had two choices; She could stay with us and be resentful the whole time, or she could have an attitude change and look at all the beauty that is in Mexico and learn all she could about living in a foreign country. Thank goodness she chose to do the latter and have a heart change.

Upon doing that, she met the man that would one day be her husband. He is a missionary here, in Mexico and works at the local orphanage. The neat thing is, early on God told my husband that this young man was going to marry our daughter.

We have gotten to know Cole over the last year in a deep way and have come to love him as part of our family. He is a neat young man that loves God, works hard, and has a great sense of humor.

His marriage proposal was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed in a long time. It was full of humility and excitement mixed with peace and love.

My husband and I are all for (Christ-centered) marriage. I have said it before, a healthy marriage shines Christ more than anything else on this planet. When done right, it is a picture of the selfless love that Jesus showed us and I don’t think it’s just coincidence that Jesus’s first miracle was at a wedding.

We are the bride of Christ! When I look at these two young souls in front of me and how much they want to be together and the love they have for each other, I am reminded that Jesus looks at me the same way! He can’t wait to be with us, His bride! We are invited to partake of the marriage supper of the lamb! (Revelation 19:6-9)

How exciting is that?!

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

marriage

Day 30 Prayer: Marriage

We are on our 30th day of praying for our spouse and children. What a journey this has been! What you may not know is that the Lord put this on my heart about six months ago. I didn’t want to obey. My first thought was, that means I have to write every day. I enjoy writing, but with my busy schedule, it can be difficult to find the time to write. My second thought was, could I actually write about marriage for 30 days? Well, I have found plenty to write about and God provided not only the words, but the time.

We have covered a lot of ground this month. We’ve looked at communication, our speech, faithfulness, love, and so much more. My prayer is that we would continue to pray for our families. One of the ministries, here, in Mexico has a motto that says, “Fight for Families.” I love that. We are fighting. We are fighting against the rulers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12). Your spouse is not your enemy. I want to urge you to fight for your marriage because there is nothing that shines the love of Christ brighter in this world than a healthy marriage.

Early on in our marriage, I realized that people don’t wake up after 20 years of marriage and decide to get divorced. It happens over time. Every day you are either drawing closer to your spouse, or drawing farther away. For instance, if you have an argument and you don’t resolve it. The next day you wake up harboring bitterness and that anger or resentment keeps growing until you come back together and can forgive. If you just keep going day after day without resolving the issue, you soon realize you have grown so far apart you don’t even recognize the other person.

You have to keep building that relationship. You have to come together, daily and talk, commune, spend time listening to one another, joking, laughing, and crying; sharing thoughts and emotions.

God created marriage. It’s a good thing. It’s a place where life begins. Is it difficult? Yes. Does it expose our weakness? Yes. But by understanding our weaknesses, we then can go to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to change us into the beautiful vessel He wants to make us into.

I used to believe that I was just a pile of broken glass laying on the floor, waiting to be swept up and tossed into the trash. The Lord showed me one day, that instead of a pile of dirty broken pieces, I was a beautiful glass mosaic candle holder, waiting to shine His light through.

That can be you, too, regardless of the past you have. No matter what your marriage was like yesterday. Today is a new day, my friend! Take hold of it! Tell Satan to back off and rejoice because we know the One who conquered death! When your spouse walks through that door, love on him! Tell him how much you appreciate what he does. Find something to affirm him. You will be blessed when you do.

Day 30 Prayer: Marriage

Lord, thank you so much for creating the unity of husband and wife. Help me to see the beauty of it even when it’s difficult. Please take away my selfish pride, jealousy, and anything else that prevents me from seeing my spouse the way you do. Give me the grace to be able to love regardless of what I get in return. I want to love with a selfless love. Help me to be patient and kind, always forgiving, and never rude. Remind me that when my husband wraps his arms around me, it’s as if you are saying “I love you.” Thank you for creating marriage and giving me someone to love.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

marriage, Missions

Day 19 Prayer: Coming Out of Comfort Zones

When we were in the Philippines, we asked one of the Pastors what his vision was for the ministry. His reply has stuck with me.

He said, “I want to get this church established and raise up a leader, so I can go to other parts of the Philippines and start more churches to spread the gospel.”

I thought, wow! I like his vision. But, what a difficult one. He was willing to start fresh. To give up what he had worked so hard for, to continue reaching people. For him, it wasn’t about how many people came to his church. He just wanted to reach more people. This seemed like such a different concept than what I have seen in American churches.

I struggle with my comfort zone. Some maybe thinking, you?! I know we lived off-grid where we had to haul water everyday and didn’t have conventional electricity and Now we are living in Mexico. But, These things are just giving up some modern comforts.

To volunteer at a rehab home or walking through the red light district inviting drug addicts to church, that’s way out of my comfort zone. However, I have been blessed every time I do it.

It’s baby steps. Like the Pastor in the Philippines, I’m sure when he started his first church, he was anxious and wondering how it was all going to work. Seeing God work out all the details and watching people get excited for Christ, I bet it spurred him on to go a little further and continue God’s work.

Day 19 Prayer: Coming Out of Our Comfort Zone

Thank God that He stretches us beyond what we think we are capable of.

Pray for you and your spouse to step out in faith and do something that is uncharacteristic. For your husband, it may be as simple as leading your family in a Bible study, which can be difficult for a lot of men and way out of their comfort zone.

Pray that your kids will be willing to go beyond what they normally do. Maybe it’s talking to a friend about Christ.

Pray for an opportunity to talk as a family about what God’s vision is for your family as a whole.

“But be doers of the Word, not hearers only.” James 1:22