Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Key to Unlocking Job Lock

Job Lock.  Do you feel it? 

There’s lots of talk now of job lock, and what that concept means. 

‘Nuff about that nonsense.

As for us, we are working hard to live a Disciple lifestyle – trusting God for all we need in life.  I’ve mentioned in the past that we live on very little, in terms of actual money.  But indeed, we are rich in the simple pleasures of life, provided by Him.  We live in God’s economy.  {Speaking of simple pleasures…thank you to Blog readers Shelley from Texas and Terry from California, for the treats I received in the mail this past week.  Bless you both.}

I finished our Federal and State taxes last week (by hand, on actual paper) and mailed them in (snail mail, with a stamp).  Upon doing so, I thought…hmmm…I shouldn’t have put “retired” in the box explaining who I am and what I do.  The Bible doesn’t talk about retirement.  And I’m not retired – I just simply stay on our 40 acres instead of heading down our long drive to a hectic office setting one town away.  I “paid my dues”, and was fortunate to fall into an early retirement category within our Mitten State {Michigan}.  I praise God for that circumstance.

There will always be “job lock”.  One must always work.  The Bible warns against idleness.  2 Thessal 3:10  “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  But “work” doesn’t have to mean working for “the man”.  You can work your own farm or homestead, or whatever your living situation should happen to be.  Working might mean baking a cake, or hauling some wood.  It’s whatever makes your life productive.

It is my prayer that folks will learn to trust God over government.  God will never let you down.  Depend on Him.  Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”  If you are currently depending on government, take small steps to back away.  We live very consciously in an effort to not be “beholden” to any agency or program.  Dependency is a concern in today’s world.  The Bible talks about the Mark of the Beast.  We may not know what form it will take, but it could be associated with the use of money.  I figure the best way for folks to “be ready” is by not having any expenses.  Now that doesn’t mean to go out and file bankruptcy – you have to pay your bills.  What it does mean is to pay your bills first, then buy those things you think you need.  And making that “need list” smaller. 

 “Need” is a funny thing.  You hear people say all the time…I need this, or I need that  We are actually “programmed” to need things, usually by TV or media.  Years ago, before I began living a more subsistence lifestyle, I thought I needed things.  Many things.  I bought dryer sheets for the dryer.  I bought paper towels.  I bought deodorant.  I got my hair cut/permed at regular intervals.  I went to the “movies”.  I had a dishwasher.  A microwave.  Internet.  TV.  Cable.  The list is long.  Truth is, we don’t “need” these things.  And not buying them, or using them, saves money and time - time and money spent on better things.  In the next week, try and cut out just one thing – you’ll be amazed at how it makes you feel.

And surprisingly, the Lord will meet you with the blessings.

This past September, I was sighting in my 30-30, in preparation for deer season at our bermed range.  While closing one eye and focusing on a target, I looked twice and lowered my gun.  What is that?” I asked Russ.  Unknown to either of us, there was an apple tree, loaded with red ripe apples on the other side of the berm, on our property, just waiting to be discovered.  We both said “Thank you God!!” and marveled at our find.  Out of our 40 acres, we hadn’t even been on that part of the property to know how blessed we were.  {Some of those apples are still in storage.}

Another thing we do without is a washer and dryer.  I’ve had a wringer washer for a couple years, {thank you Ellen} but it sits idle in the winter.  However, I’m actually giddy today, with the thought of it being at least 30 degrees.  I plan to wash (by hand) some shirts and long underwear and hang them on the line.  Luckily, my clothesline is near our deep snowy footpath to the cabin.  I truly can’t wait to see the clean clothes flapping on the line, albeit frozen.

I’m also giddy about my new sitting stool, as I perch myself at the not-connected-to-the-Internet-computer in our cabin.  Our computer takes up a good portion of our cabin, sitting on an antique table owned by my Grandmother.  My new stool is one made by hubby Russ.  The base is an actual stump, with a padded seat and a straight back, giving me much support.  I love having homemade furniture in our homemade cabin.  Our buildings are made with old/giveaway/throwaway/recycled materials.  I find the beauty in seeing old, worn wood and materials, tossed out recklessly by others literally come to life, in addition to the wood milled on our land by Russ. 

As you begin to live with less, you actually begin to praise God mightily for those little things.  And you’ll realize that you have way too much.  This has happened to us.

Speaking of wood, we had so much snow this winter, we are now mining wood out of snow banks.  Hubby Russ digs out, splits, and gets it to the porch using a child’s plastic sled heaped high.  I grab armfuls from the porch, just outside the cabin door, and get it inside so the snow can be melting before it is needed to feed the woodstove.  This winter the woodstove has been chugging along at a mighty constant heat.  During the 2nd “arctic blast” {or polar vortex…sounds like outerwear…} we actually prayed over the woodstove.  It was a Friday night and the stove was stuffed full, burning and churning along.  However, there was no heat.  The cabin was cooling and the cold was taking on a life of its own.  {The book Wilderness Wife by Kathrene Pinkerton speaks of this phenomenon.}  The cabin gets cold, and then colder, and then you feel like it will never warm up again.  Finally, after sitting and watching the flames within the stove, Russ said “we need to pray about this”…and with a nod of my head, he began praying for God’s protection over us, and for the woodstove to provide heat.  We haven’t had the problem since.  Coincidence?  If you are a believer that God provides your needs, you’ll agree it is more than that.

Although this winter has been a tough one, in terms of arctic air, it has brought some interesting changes for us.  We now have 5 critters in the 15 x 20 cabin.  One sour-puss cat, who resides mostly in the loft, and 4 dogs.  Three of those dogs are sled dogs from the kennel.  Skunk, Boston, and Murdoch/aka/Dawg/aka Mordecai.  Murdoch came to us as a yearling, from our good friend.  At the time, hubby Russ began referring to him as just plain old “dog”.  I decided Doch/Dog/Dawg would work for his name.  Finally, over the last year I have morphed his name into Mordecai.  However, that brings on some confusion, as hubby Russ has confused my intention with our big Siberian boy, Malakai, also a sled dog.  Good thing the dogs enjoy the attention, no matter what they are called. 

I enjoyed the full moon this past week.  Perhaps that is why I found myself waking much too early.   But I suspect the real reason is the cold nipping on my nose, as the rest of me is nice and toasty under my arctic sleeping bag {Slumberjack}.  I arise and check the woodstove to see the bed of coals that remain.  Filling it with the dried wood, I know it will be a few minutes before the heat spreads to the rest of the cabin.

Being the first to awaken on this day, I am ready to begin my day, even though darkness reigns.  After pulling on a jacket and boots, I head out the door with dog in hand.  I haul (or am hauled) by our wolfy-looking dog Mordecai.  I clip him in on his outdoor chain, just outside our cabin door.  Next our powerful, born-to-pull hound, Boston heads out, dragging me along. He too, is clipped to a chain just outside our cabin.  The other 2 dogs, Skunk (Alaskan) and Zip (Blue Heeler), do not need a tether.  Zip’s focus is to get back in the cabin as soon as possible.  Skunk loves to run and see her friends.  She returns to the dog yard from which she came.  She slips through the hole in the gate (made wider by this winter’s snow) and visits the 10 dogs who live in their Alaskan-style dog yard.  Minutes later, I get the dogs back into the cabin.  Zip first.  Skunk flies to me on command.  Boston is released and bounds onto the porch, waiting at the door for entry.  Then Mordecai. 

Once they are back in, I fill our camp coffee pot to perk.  While doing so, I hear a commotion in the dog yard.  Shining a handy light set out just for this purpose, I see 2 dogs in one circle.  It tells me one thing.  Loose dog.  I bundle back up in the below zero chill and head to the dog yard with light in hand.  It’s one of our “teenage” dogs, she’s over 15 years old.  I call her over and walk her to her own circle, which has a hay-filled dog house, and clip her on the chain that was laid within in her house.  She must have scratched and dislodged it from her collar.  Seeing she’s fine, back into the cabin I go.  Upon entering the cabin, I smell the flavorful and familiar aroma of the coffee as it begins its perking process. 

As I sit in my homemade chair across the warming woodstove, I glance outside and marvel at the beauty of moonlight on snow.  The full moon is saying farewell for another month as the day begins to form.  The free-ranging domestic rabbits are hopping about near our cabin and barns, and the wild turkey flies down from her roost and begins to mill about under our cabin bird feeders.  I sit down with fresh coffee in hand, and some homemade bread, toasted, and slathered in salted butter.  Once comfortable, I reach for my #1 Best Seller to read.  The B I B L E.  Before doing so, I look around the cabin.  The four dogs are already near the woodstove, the heat making them drowsy and content and stretched out.  Something catches my eye outside the window.  It is the wild turkey peeking within.  An interesting site for even those of us used to sharing our space with such creatures.  I smile as I hear my husband rustle and rise.  He will be surprised to know I have done so much in such a short period of time.  And thus our day begins.  This is our “work”, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

Luke 14:33 Jesus said…

“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

Until next time, Lord willing, dear friend.  Rejoice!  The King is on His way!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nine-Step Cabin

I won’t kid you.  This past week was rough.  Lots of snow, and lots of cold.  Bitter cold.  It’s not like I didn’t expect it this winter.  Every winter we hit a wall, and go into what we call “survival mode”.  But this year it hit early.  And keeps hitting.  These –25 mornings are getting to be all too common.  

Living the way we do, we have to thank the Lord for the little things:  a roof over your head (no leaks), a working woodstove, wood to put in that woodstove, running water, electricity that rarely goes out, 3 freezers (for both us and the sled dogs) teeming with good meat and vegetables, and a spouse that is easy to live with/communicates and entertains.  Come to think of it, those are big things.  And we should all take a moment to thank the Lord for all those provisions.  For they are His, not ours…  He could take them away in an instant.  Each and every one of them. 

This past week was cold.  There were some days I didn’t venture out – it was enough just watching my hubby, Russ, bundled up from head to toe, tending to the animals with feed, bedding, and water while snow blew about in blizzard form.  Although our small cabin is only 9 steps from end to end (15 x 20), on those cold days I don my big moon-boot type arctic {rated –100} boots and tend to stay within 3 feet of the woodstove.  When a venture a step or two away, it is when I’m cooking or baking, {which is daily for both}.  Or sleeping.  Or traveling out back to the outhouse.  It’s not so bad.  I always have good books at my disposal.  My Bible stays within reach now.  It wasn’t always that way, but each day the desire to know His word increases tenfold. 

I find such joy in the birds who visit their filled feeders.  We have several types of woodpeckers now.  Pileated Woody has made an appearance several times – each time leaving us in awe.  He’s so calm, not even seeming to mind our gawking and talking in whispers as we get as close to him as possible. 

God has done a lot in the last year with us.  We have stripped down more and more, leaving our life exposed for His purpose.  Apostle Paul stated:  “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).  When we take up the Cross and follow Jesus, we better be prepared to lose it all.  As for me, I am honored to live a life that is totally in God’s plan and economy.  If someone had told me 20 years ago that I could live on a small amount of money (which falls into today’s poverty levels) arriving only once monthly, I would have never believed it.  I always had a steady paycheck (or two) and was reckless with my stewardship.  Now, I look forward to seeing God’s blessings.  He has never, ever, EVER, let us down.  We have so much in abundance.  Less is more, folks.  Pray that your heart accepts this concept, for “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple”, says the Lord (Luke 14:33). 

Today (Saturday) was a good one.  I visited my local Library to check in with folks on the Internet.  Then I chatted with the Librarian before heading out to the local Laundromat/Resale spot.  The folks who work the resale always have an abundance of food in their little kitchen, with smells wafting through the resale.  Today they were eating a homemade savory Beef Stew.  The aroma was tantalizing, and I was offered a bowl.  I smiled and declined, thinking to myself, only in a small town.  Later, while my clothes were drying, I joined in a conversation with two Godly men, one who had a Bible in hand, and we worshiped the Lord in front of the tumbling dryer for nearly an hour.  Again, only in a small town

Upon coming home, I quickly changed from my “town skirt” into my thick choring skirt, made by my Amish friend.  After doing chores in the dog yard, I removed one of the residents, Skunk-dog, and headed down our long drive with Zip in tow, running loose, as they do.  Skunk made the mistake of sailing over a 5’ snow bank and getting bogged down with no base in sight.  Just 100” of fluff.  She struggled several times to find an alternative route out of the edge of the woods.  It was a comical sight, and surprised her, and me.  Zip was smart and stayed on the flats. 

Sunday we visited our farm friend, Ellen, and checked out her very pregnant sow.  What a beauty.  I’m giddy in awaiting the winter litter.  We aren’t wintering pigs, so I’m excited for spring, to add new little ones for the summer/fall months. 

We have a new excitement.  Our large smoky black dog with brown feet “Doc” is working on being a farm dog.  {He’s been a sled dog for us the last year, having been raised by our friend Ellen the first half of his 3 years.}  He’s doing stellar so far.  Such a beautiful wolfy looking dog, with a good head.  As he stands regally atop the snowbank outside our cabin, he reminds me of me…always looking.  Ever aware.  He’s watching for Russ moving about our 40 acres.  Me?  I’m watching for His return.  It feels imminent.  Does it to you?

Until next time, Lord willing, dear friend.  Rejoice!  The King is on His way~!


P.S.  Last night our friend Ellen's piglets were born - 13 in all!