“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2
Being a homesteader there have been more than a few times that I have come across people in my daily living who, when they find out about the kind of life that I lead, often say something along the lines of “Wow, you’re living my dream!” OR “I always wanted to live a life like that but….” and then they proceed to give me any number of excuses as to why it never happened…and the conversation often ends there ’cause I don’t wanna hear excuses…nothing annoys me more than excuses or complaining! 🙄
The real reason that most of the people who express this “dream” of living in the country never make it a reality is because they are not willing to sacrifice what they have right now to receive something that they want more…in other words, they just don’t want it bad enough. And in the process are simply lying to themselves and to me when they say “Wow, you’re living my dream!” …if it really was your dream then it would be your reality, it’s as simple as that 😀
When Nathan and I were dating we came down to West Virginia to visit a friend of his that lived here, that was the first time I had ever been here and I immediately fell in love with the area. Nathan, who had been here numerous times before, already loved the area and had expressed his desire to eventually move here one day. Fast forward 3 months into the future, we were newly married one month and had just found out we were pregnant with our first child which gave us a three year time limit to fulfill our dream of moving to West Virginia…our reasoning being that most children do not remember things that happen from before the age of three and we didn’t want our son to remember Maryland at all 😆
First thing we did was pay off the $5,000 in school debt that Nathan still had, our goal was to have it paid off before our son was born and we exceeded that goal by paying it off a whole month before his birth. And we have not ever had any debt again, even to this very day! After we paid it off I quit work and prepared for my new job, that of being a stay at home mom.
Our society is not one that favors single income households so I have always fully realized the precariousness of my situation, I don’t just STAY at home I work my ASS OFF at home….it was no different when we still lived in Maryland in a tiny apartment paying $600/mo. rent on a $10 an hour income, which was what Nathan made working at McDonald’s at the time. During the time that we were saving money to move to West Virginia we rarely spent money (and that is key!) except for on the absolute necessities…rent, water, electric, food, transportation, laundry (we didn’t have a washer and dryer but our apartment complex had a small laundrymat that you had to pay to use), and internet in that order. (we didn’t have a phone, no need when you’ve got e-mail…we also didn’t have cable TV…)
The first thing we did was sell one of our cars, we each had our own car when we got married but went down to just one to save money….those insurance costs can really eat up the income! The car we kept was used mainly for Nathan to drive to work for the most part…regular errands like grocery shopping were done by me while Nathan was at work…a five minute shortcut through the woods next to our apartment complex put me right at the back lot of our local grocery store, I would strap our son into the baby carrier and we were off! Because we were poor, and not too prideful to admit it, we did seek government assistance in the form of WIC (however we have never had food stamps or been on welfare and got off WIC the moment we moved to West Virginia) which gave LARGE amounts of free food to breastfeeding mothers….eggs, milk, cheese, beans, boxed cereal, peanut butter, tuna etc. PLUS Nathan worked at a restaurant, he was an opener which meant he had to be there at 4:00 a.m. but that worked out well because it also meant that 5 days out of the week he got two free meals a day…breakfast and lunch he always ate at work.
Plus, I was an extreme couponer long before there was a TV show. I only had one child at the time with PLENTY of extra time for things like coupon clipping and matching them with the sales and store coupons to save obscene amounts of money. My best ever was getting $88.00 worth of groceries for about ten bucks…but on average I almost always saved at least 60% and often times much more than that. We obsessively budgeted our money, and I was allotted only $25 a week for groceries but it was always more than enough! ($6 of that $25 was also spent on diapers, we didn’t do cloth diapers till child #2 came along..)
During the time that we were saving money to move to West Virginia we never ate out (except for the free meals Nathan got from work), we never spent money on entertainment…no movie theater, no movie or video game buying/rentals (however we did go to the movies once on our anniversary and we budgeted for it three months in advance lol), no buying books, toys, gadgets or other frivolous things. Entertainment for us was getting books and movies for free from the library and we went fishing a lot, and if we were successful, and we often were, it also meant a free meal!
We didn’t buy new clothes or bunches of stuff for our apartment. We had one sofa that we bought for $50 from the thrift store and a small desk for Nathan’s computer which we paid $20 for from the same thrift store. We were fortunate that my parents had extra furniture which they gave to us and Nathan’s mom also purchased a bunch of home goods for us as a wedding gift when we first got married. Our wedding cost us a total of $80 by the way, you can read about that here. We also did dumpster diving, our apartment complex always had people constantly moving in and out and most of the time they would take a good chunk of their furniture and just dump it right beside the dumpster…we got everything from free lamps, end tables, coffee tables, bookshelves, a free desk, a very nice piano keyboard, fans, dishes, pots and pan, and more…plus we still have most of that stuff! 😆
The apartment complex that we lived at, Forsythia Court Apartments you can even visit their website, had single story apartments with small patios and a postage stamp sized patch of grass. We dug up our patch of grass and turned it into a garden, and we kept the land lady and her secretary well supplied with garden fresh tomatoes so they didn’t mind at all 😉 You can read more about that in my post “Homestead Economics“. So, for part of the year, we didn’t even need to buy fresh vegetables, saving us even more money on the grocery bill!
Eventually we moved from the apartment complex and sacrificed having a garden for cheaper rent and a larger apartment. A very kind older Christian lady rented us a 1,000 sq.ft. 2 bedroom apartment in Havre De Grace for only $585 a month and that included the price of electricity and water, plus it came with a washer and dryer! We only lived there for a year though, 6 months after our second son was born, when our first son was 2 1/2 years old, we found on the internet a 2,000 sq.ft. “fixer upper” on 1/4 acre of land in West Virginia for only $5,000 and we jumped on it. We traveled down to look at it one weekend and the very next weekend we went back and bought it in full with cash, after spending a month cleaning and fixing it up we moved down there and we still own that place as well as our current place with 9 acres of land. No longer having a rent payment meant that we could live off of even less money than before which gave Nathan the freedom to now stay at home and start up our E-Bay business which eventually became quite successful. So successful that in a matter of four years we were able to save up enough money to buy our current place debt free 😀
I tell you ALL of this to show that in order to achieve your “dream” you must be willing to sacrifice. People seldom achieve their “dream” of living in the country because they are not willing to work hard and make sacrifices of what they have in the present in order to possess something greater in the future…this is what Paul means by becoming a living sacrifice. Nothing is off limits, everything is used as a means by which you can achieve your “dream”. Our living sacrifice transformed us into what we are now, nothing is ever achieved for free or by “faith”…faith by it’s very definition requires action.. you may have faith and I have works, show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18). It is not an easy road, that is for sure, but is anything worth having ever easy??