I’m pleased to introduce our guest contributor, Leslie, a beautiful friend and mama of 3 (one’s cooking) little ones. Please join us as she shares about her homesteading adventure.
I was asked to share my “homesteading” experiences, and unsure of where to start, I looked up the word “homesteading” to learn the definition “Life as a settler on a homeland”. The first two things that flashed through my mind were “Settlers of Catan” and “The Waltons”. The first being a much loved board game (my husband and I are crazy about it!) and the second being an awesome show about a family with 100’s of kids (exaggerated for effect) who live together with their grandparents on Walton’s Mountain during the Great Depression. I secretly aspire to be Olivia Walton, and Joe is my John Walton. Something in me came alive to imagine that we are “settling on a homeland” Yep. We have certainly felt like it at times as we’re out there slinging dirt and hauling lumber.
The story of our homestead actually beings a few years ago when we were definitely at our poorest. Our first child, Liam, had just been born. Joe was working a commission job selling windows and doors– a job in which he would sometimes make a $20 commission after driving hither and yon and spending double that in gas for the car. It was rough. Through this, though, the Lord trained us to take our eyes off our situation. When someone is struggling financially, a common Christian response is to quote a comfort verse like “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26) Which is certainly true. But there is a very important caveat that often gets left out: For He has said, “But SEEK YOU FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) This challenged us to stop looking at our circumstances and instead really invest in helping others and advancing His Kingdom.
We are happy to give glory to God, because 3 years later we went from being below the poverty line and “saddled with debt” to becoming home owners! None of this is to draw attention to ourselves at all but to point clearly to the hand of God in our lives. We often look at one another with stupid, giddy smiles and shake our heads. How blessed we feel. How thankful. Always thankful.
And I’m learning that thankfulness is much cheaper than dropping 100’s on Pinterest projects and renovations. (Let’s be honest, they often start out as well-intentioned money saving ideas but morph quickly into money eating monsters!) Sometimes when I sit down to use the toilet, I think to myself “This is my toilet. I actually OWN a toilet.” It’s an incredible thought that washes me with a feeling of thankfulness, as silly as it may be. (I’m being transparent here!) If you rent, you can still be thankful for your toilet! Be thankful that you aren’t using an outhouse (like the Waltons)! The thankfulness helps me to really enjoy things as they are, and we feel less pressure and stress about rushing through a flippantly assempled “wish list”. When the pressure to “keep up with the Jones’” is off, we can then take time to mull over what we really want to improve vs. our impulse desires. The goal to cost effective homesteading is picking projects that are the least amount of work/money but produce the largest impact.
One little tip we employ is to write it down, and then move on. Once in a while in the evening after the kids are in bed, Joe and I will sit down with a piece of paper and decide what it is we really want to do around the house. We have a “needs to be done” category and a “this would be nice” category. We also ask WHY. It’s a question that God whispers into our hearts again and again. The why is important, and without the why, our actions can easily become empty and superficial. “Why” helps to weed out unnecessary home improvements. Since we moved in a year ago, we have seen 2 full wish lists finished, and I can honestly say that as we committed our plans to God and then set our desires aside to attend to Kingdom business, the resources to accomplish what we wanted to do were provided in the most incredible ways.
If you’re wondering, our “whys” are as follows:
- We want to accomplish projects that will teach us new skills and provide learning experiences for the kids.
- We want to accomplish projects that will improve the health and quality of life for our family.
- We want to accomplish projects that will lead to more efficient use of our resources (finances, time, etc)
- We want to accomplish projects that will foster an environment that is peaceful. We have dedicated our home to the Lord as being a welcoming place where people can come and “have a soft place to land”.
If the projects don’t line up with these “why’s” then we push them to the very bottom of the list and likely end up taking them off altogether.
So, thankfulness, an outward focus and assembling your wish list, all the while asking why…we have found this to be a successful formula for stripping away the unnecessary projects that keep us busy and wasting resources.
I have been blessed by being asked to write for you, because in writing it out, I’ve had an opportunity to really evaluate and nail down our process. I’m excited to share a second installment where I can really dive into some projects that have grown us as a family, and that have had ample benefit for reasonable investment. Some of these projects include backyard landscaping and building our chicken coop. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and I hope you feel inspired to start dreaming and identifying some of your meaningful projects.