Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Window Dressing

We are stuck.  We would love nothing more than to move, set up our retreat and get busy with the business of living.  But, here we are - living in a shouse in the middle of a prairie with nary a milk cow or orchard in sight.

When we bought our property, we did so with half a thought given to survival.  Our land has a year 'round creek going through one corner, is comprised of half hay ground and half timber.  We are rural, although close enough to the city for Sir Knight to work, however we dream of being really rural.

In our perfect world, we would live in the high mountains.  Our property would be circled on two sides by two different year around creeks that intersect.  We would have a bubbling, gravity fed spring.  We would be surrounded by state and timber company owned land and our nearest neighbor would be a mile away.  We would have a large root cellar, a green house and a spring house to cool the milk.  We would have a well constructed, defensible house on a basement (for food stores and whatever else we might need), a large shop and a beautiful barn compete with Dutch doors on the stalls.  Our garden would be deer fenced, along with our orchard, and our bees would have their own "beehaus" to overwinter.  We would have raspberries and blackberries and even our own patch of elderberries.  Our pasture would be populated with milk cows, beef cows and a few good head of horses.  We would have full fuel tanks, working generators and a complete solar set up.  Oh, and we would have a fully equipped out-house (for just in case) and even and ice house.  Not only would be able to comfortably house our extended family long-term, we would have a large bunk house for any overflow.

Now, I will shake myself and return to reality.  In stark contrast to the romantic notions of my perfect end-of-the-world retreat, our reality is somewhat less appealing.  We live in a small "shouse" (shop/house) in the middle of a hay field (I call it a "prairie" when I want to conjure up images of a pioneer family living off the land and forging a new life).  Our creek is barely within walking distance and neighbors can be seen dotting the landscape.  Our storage is an unsightly 40' container and our fields are void of livestock.  Our bees died during the winter and our garden is nothing more than a few scattered raised beds.  Our solar system works well, however, we are still down one inverter and our batteries are less than desirable.  We have a veritable graveyard of dead generators and our farm fuel tank is currently empty.  And to top it all off, we are very nearly out of wood but not out of winter.

The truth of the matter is that we are in the same situation as countless other survivalist wanna be's.  We see the world falling apart around us and long to prepare, but for one reason or another are stuck where we are.  And therein lies the rub.

And so, what do we do?  Well, it seems to me that we only have a couple of choices.  We can get frustrated, angry and despondent or we can trust that God will move us if that is His will.  We have chosen the latter.  No, our location is not perfect.  No, our set-up is not perfect.  No, our heart is not here.  But, for reasons we may not understand, this is where God has placed this family.

After more than two years of being desperate to move, we have reconciled ourselves to the fact that God's plan is not our plan and God's time is not our time.  After years spent not building fences or buying logging truck loads of wood or planting gardens, hoping to move, we have decided to trust.  We have decided to trust that God knows what the future holds and that He knows where we are and that He knows what is good and right for our family.  As we walk forward following Him, we have planted a garden, we have scraped bee boxes and ordered bees.  We have ordered wood for the stove and fuel for the farm tank.  We have moved forward, trusting that God will take care of us where we are, rather than waiting for Him transplant us to our survivalist dream home.

We have come to realize that God is our ultimate survival plan, all the rest is window dressing.


  1. I think that most of us think about what we would "really" like to have, or where we "really " want to live, or work....My hubby and i started homesteading 22 years ago after retiring from the military service...the work never ends, there is always something we can improve upon and there are times when we wonder why on earth we settled for this when we could have something better and with less work and hardship. what we discovered is we are "at home". in our own ways, we have built, gardened, cut trees, and all that stuff that homesteaders have to do and the place just finally became ours and reflects our hard work and tastes far better than anything we could ever have found over the next hill or mountain. we found contentment...

  2. Your family's perfect home is out there right now under the same sun that's shining on your shouse, it's just not ready yet. God is making it ready! Perhaps there are people living in it or it is unsafe or isn't exactly what you want...yet. But suddenly, one day it will be ready & God will make it known to you. And only then will it make sense why you had to wait so long.
    (I know, I've been there. ;) )

  3. Amen, sister. As He provided for the Israelites in the wilderness - for 40 years - He promises to protect His own in the last days, even through the tribulation - satan's wrath on God's people, before God's wrath upon the wicked and unbeliever's.

    When Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years, they took the looonnngg route around, down and up. If they had obeyed God they could have taken the shorter route! In a matter of days! It took 40 years to shake out the wheat from the tares, not wanting any to perish. Because of their disobedience in their idolarty not all went into the promised land. Still God provided for them His heavenly Manna, clothing, water - everything for all those years. He was their cloud by day leading them. And a fire by night. He took them through the waters of the Red Sea and drowned their chasers, the Egyptians. He showed them His mighty power. Yet many still disobeyed Him.

    One can only imagine how blessed they would have been if they all had not strayed into idolatry, grumbling and griping and obeyed their Creator.

    Even though I've "put by" and prepared as much as my meager allowance allows, I know my God will provide, protect and cover me and my family with His pinions as is His promise in Psalm 91 for His followers and faithful.I'm not worried that I don't have a home in the hinterboonies, but in a city with 5 prisons, some Federal prisons.Nor am I worried that I don't have enough food guns and ammoto last for the nest 20 years at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    We can only do what we can to help our family that can't, and know that He will provide what we will need, especially staying strong and courageous.

    1. Heb. 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

      Sounds like the father of Isreal had a shouse and lived by faith. He was building for a future that holds untold promise rather than a few sticks and stones.

      Keep the faith and live gratefully. It will be worth it all. Your family sounds far ahead of many.

    2. I hear phrase ‘God will provide’ so often that a yellow flag goes up. In many cases perhaps ‘God HAS provided’. He has certainly showered Americans especially with an abundance of blessings including liberty. He may be waiting for us to do something rather than wait for more from Him. How many times have you seen people overcome adversity using blessings (skills, knowledge, ingenuity, perseverance, ability to compose compute rationalize memorize...) that God had ALREADY provided.

      Sitting and waiting for more from God may not be what He wants. And it may put your loved ones in danger. Yes we must keep faith in Him and continue praying. Meanwhile I believe He wants us to always use what He has already given us to provide for and protect our loved ones.
      Montana Guy

    3. Well said, BUT sorry you took my comment in the light it was not meant to be.

      I do not take God's promises lightly or flippantly. But honestly and to heart, in great faith and trust. Some have dealt with very harsh situations in their lives and to know that our majestic heavenly Father DOES provide (even through His people) is a great comfort when faith wanes a bit and times get very hard. Sometimes we simply need to be reminded and encouraged.

      It is not always about being productive, doing something, moving, working in our will - sometimes it is just about waiting to hear HIS will and HIS words and have His incomprehensible peace of what He wants for us.

      Whatever our situation, wherever He has us at any given time, He always has lessons/skills for us to learn or to teach others - and they often include mercy, patience, perseverance, love, kindness, gentleness.

      God does provide great blessings to those who are obedient and faithful to His word. We each have to hear His will for our own lives, whether moving, staying put.

  4. Ahh, I know this story. We moved to this locaction over 23 years ago, I have wanted to move for the last 22! Now, that we are finally free to move, we are staying! LOL Honestly, it took describing out "problem" on a survial type message board for me to see it with new eyes. What I described as difficulties, others thought would be paradise. Is it perfect, nope. But, and in the current economy this really matters, it is paid for.

    And we believe it must be God's will that we stay, because everything has worked out so well.

  5. Thank you for the most inspirational post I have read anywhere in a long time. God bless you.

  6. I have read your blog for over a year and love it! Congratulations on finding that most elusive of things, peace that you are where He would have you to be. Keep on Keeping on. We all love you and your family. I have made many of your recipes and just want you to know that even in the midst of it all you are being an inspiration to those around you and those that you will only meet on the other side. Thanks for all that you do!

    A Sister~

  7. So touching and inspirational. As I relate, I too have learned, am learning, that God is my survival, my dream, my hope. As I labor to continually 'fix my eyes' on Jesus, my Savior and Lord, everything else pales. Thank you for your blog, for your honesty, and for sharing your heart and your family's heart for God. May God bless you each day to see through His Eyes.

  8. Enola,
    I recently found your blog and I went back and read all of your archives. Living where you live is a great place to continue learning the survival/homestead lifestyle. Make the place you have the retreat you want knowing that God will move you in His time. You do this with the knowledge that you are making the retreat you desire while you live there and you and your family will be blessing the buyer that God will bring to your property. All the while the land you will purchase in the hinterboonies is also there waiting and being prepared by God and the current owners, for the time when you move into it.

    My family and I currently live on 1 acre of land, we want desperately to move to a 30 -50 acre piece of property mixed with pasture and wooded area. Eventually in His time I'm sure we will move, until then we continue to improve our garden, raise a couple of goats and learn all the skills we can. Rest in Him and His time....

    PS. I understand your longing for your dream property, I dream too and know that all of my dreams pale to Gods reality.

  9. Thank you for your inspiring blog, and particularly for this post. I too have learned, and am learning that God is my survival, my hope, my dream and my promise! As I labor to 'fix my eyes' on Jesus, I find that everything else pales. May our Lord continue to give you His Vision, which is clear, and to be your All in All. Your blog blesses me so; I am drawn by your honesty and wisdom, and genuine love for God and your family. May God bless you and yours with every good thing! Thank you again.

  10. I was in a similar situation about 4 years ago. God has brought me- a divorced single mom, back "home" quite literally. I was praying for a miracle to move my son and myself out of a city apartment that was less than 800 sq ft. I was afraid to let him play outside. My houseplants that I had placed outside for a good watering and some sun were stolen. It was a sad depressing place. I kept working and praying for a way out. God answered! I now own 3 acres and a house. In the last 2 years I have listened to the words "get your house ready" that God has placed on my soul, We now have raised bed veggie and herb gardens, a strawberry patch, a blueberry patch. I've planted apple pear and banana trees ( we live in the sub tropic south) My next prayer-wish list is rabbits chickens and bee hives (along with rain catchment of some sort and please Lord a water well) :) It is not a perfect retreat. But it is next door to family homes and there is something to be said for support, aid, and shear numbers in any crisis be it a needed babysitter so I can work overtime or TEOTWAWKI. The Lord provides, in His time and His way. Praying for your success!

  11. Enola, I've been reading your blog for over 2 years now, and this is without a doubt the most vulnerable post I've seen here. We are encouraged by your plight regularly, and far more than you could possibly know.

    "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." -- Hebrews 12:1-3

    Eternity with Him IS our home. Let us not settle for less. May He bless and keep you, always.


  12. The richness you have as a family together, in whatever your surroundings, whatever your means, is worth much, much more than anything and everything else that this dying world has to offer. Look up as your - our - redemption is nigh.

    Yes, indeed, eternity is our home. There is joy to be considered when we go through these trials of life. And the blessings that come from that perseverance and endurance as we keep pressing on is incomprehensible. May God richly bless you each day with your needs, as He knows every one. He also knows the big picture and how all of these worldly goings on will play out and ---we, your family, and ours who are obedient to His word and who keep the faith of Jesus Christ - have the victory.

  13. Enola, don't give up heart. I'm practically in the same situation so I understand what you're going through. Keep dreaming about your perfect retreat, after all, everyone has to have dreams! ;) Besides, look at all the practical knowledge you have stored in your head, you are so ahead of the curve girl!
    Oh, you should add a killing shed and smokehouse to the dream, ;)
    Teresa Sue

  14. Thank you, I really needed to hear that. I am in a similar situation, only we live in town and not in the country. (we do have 7 little hens to help us feel a little like farmers:) God let me know the other day that I have forgotten when I pray to pray according to His will. (I have been selfishly praying my own little selfish prayers "according to my will".) We all need to remember that He sees the big picture and we only see one little thread (our own day to day living).

  15. What a timely post. This is exactly what I've been thinking lately. We are no where near set up. I'd love a hoophouse, a chicken coop that will actually keep the chickens in, more supplies, etc. God is the One! He doesn't want me to rely on anything else. I'll still try to be a good steward and prepare enough to get my family through the winter, but ultimately God takes care of us.
    Thank you.

  16. During the Reformation the Anabaptists (Mennonites and Amish) in Switzerland were relegated to the high altitudes to farm and become self-supporting. This was the area that no one else wanted to occupy, the marginal ground. So they worked the land and learned how to become good farmers with what they had until they came to a time when they had develped a reputation as being perhaps the best farmers in the land. Many countries wanted them to come and develop their own farmland. They were responsible for bringing Turkey red wheat to the plains of America, and who could deny the richness of Eastern Pa. or other areas where they have settled and ultimately prospered? While your ground may not be ideal, it is indeed where the Lord has led you. Prosper where you are and God will continue to walk with you in that place.


  17. Maybe you're already there, but something has to happen to show you that you are. It could be that when that event happens, you'll realize it..and be glad you didn't just go. My opinion and 75 cents get you a can of Dr. Pepper from the machine down the road.

  18. You know, my husband and I feel like we are stuck in our current situation too. We do have land, we have a barn, chicken coop, shop, house, milk cows, etc., but we feel like we should move to the Redoubt area. The only reason we do not move is because my mom is elderly, or that is our excuse that we use. Fact of the matter is, if God really wanted us to move to the NW, we would be there, w/ my mom in tow (We are her sole caregivers :), along w/ our milk cows (I couldn't bear to leave them behind.) We are where God sees fit right now, and maybe forever. What we would love and what God knows is best may very well be two diffent things. We have been richly blessed, and I am eternally grateful for His grace!

    Inspiring post Enola!

  19. In 2002 I was going absolutely nuts! Had my home up for sale to move closer to family, be able to retire. This was at a time when homes were selling overnight, even a matter of minutes. Seller's market. The home was priced right for the market. Still I was going crazy seeing all the homes around me selling like hotcakes. It took about 3 months for my home to finally sell BUT when it sold and my realtor daughter and I found my new home to be - it took only looking at 3 homes before we found the home I had pictured in my head.

    You see it is all in His perfect timing. I knew what my future home was to look like, what I wanted -pantry, land for growing things, one big open family room...etc.

    When we walked into the home it had everything on my want list! As I look back - it took that time for God to put all the right pieces together - He provided for me to stay in my home while He knew the seller of my future home was going to sell. Everything about the sale and purchase could have only been by His hand.

    All of the pieces had to be put together. I just didn't have the faith in God to see beyond the "noise" of my wants/needs/etc. to see His "handywork" and His purpose and timing at that time.

  20. Enola,
    It is called contentment. God calls us to be content where ever He sets us. It is a difficult lesson for many of us (myself included). We have learned the hard way that when you try to force your will upon God, your life can end up topsy turvy and seemingly out of control. We too, have put our trust and faith back where it belongs, with God, but of course we still have to deal with the effects of our arrogance that we knew better than God about where we should be, and when. As long as we keep our trust back with God where it should be, things will get better. We were never promised that life would be easy, just that God would provide for our needs, not necessarily our wants.

  21. Having neighbors within sight is a good thing, from a survivalist standpoint at least. Ask the former Rhodesians. When SHTF for them, and their farms were attacked by insurgents, they depended on one another for security. No man (or family for that matter) is an island. You have some _good_ neighbors, and you'll _need_ them. Why would you want to entirely isolate yourself? Do you really think that you'll ever be so independent and so self-sufficient, that you'll want to be at least a mile away from your nearest neighbors? Just a thought. God bless you guys.

    1. Mr. Took;
      No, I don't think we will ever be so independent, and really, I wouldn't want to be without a fellowship of believers! My dream retreat is real - my family is already there. The nearest neighbors are about a mile away, but there are many hands on the homestead. And, the neighbors are well connected. You are quite correct, however, we are very blessed right where we are.

  22. Enola,
    Oh, I have been where you are and really feel your pain. Ten years ago my family was similarly "stuck" in a tiny little bungalow house with small rooms, no closets or other storage, a 1950's kitchen, and windows with glass panes that would fall out whenever a strong wind blew (there's only so much hot glue in the world!) I was getting upset with both my husband and the Lord, because I'd sacrificed my own dreams of being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom so my husband could leave his job to preach the gospel, but for all my hard work and sacrifice, I was getting nothing but this house that was literally falling down around me. I prayed about this often, think I'd finally come to peace about it, then find myself all too miserable again only a short while later. It was truly one of the toughest spiritual battles of my life, partly because to those of us with a deep maternal instinct, our home is important to us, our family's "nest" and sanctuary. I kept fighting my discontent, though, and with the Lord's help, I finally did find peace and laid my wishes down for whatever the Lord would give me. One thing that helped was a mission trip to Mexico, where I saw women rearing their children in homes that weren't as large and well-built as my garden shed. It changed my perspective completely, and I began to see my home as the blessing it truly was -- a more-than-adequate shelter, and paid for!! Two years' later, after I'd truly managed to become content, my husband and I became friends with a godly man who was a contractor. This man felt moved by God to build us a home at his cost only, provided he could work slowly on it when his crew lacked other "paying" jobs -- and we ended up with a beautiful new home much larger and nicer than we would have been able to afford had we not waited on the Lord. So the moral of this story is that the Bible really IS true. Godliness with contentment is great gain, and the Lord doesn't withhold good things from his people. He just uses these "things" to test our hearts and bind us more completely to Him, our dearest treasure and truest home.
    Oddly enough, my children are now in their twenties, but they talk fondly of the "old house". It's the place that feels most like home to them even today. We still own it, since it's on another part of our property, and one of my children says she might fix it up and rear her family in it someday because it has "happy memories".
    And I have to smile. Yes, it does.

  23. I had to smile at your perfect world life. I think we would be neighbors for that is our goals. Minus the mountains for my Husband. we are just doing the best we can and thanking God for the Blessings he has showered on us. Love reading your blog.

  24. Enola,

    I'm sure that your place has much to offer and in wanting to move, maybe you're just not seeing it all. I have been reading your blog for 3-4 years, is that right(?)!!, it doesn't seem possible that it's been that long. About 4 years ago, I woke up and saw everything differently than ever before. I found survivalblog.com and I'm pretty sure that's how I then found your blog, maybe from Naturally Cozy, anyhow, I have always admired your spirit and determination and your great writing skills. I know that you will turn your wants over to Him and He will provide you and your family all of the blessings he has for you! I know that you will end up living and serving in the place that the Lord wants you to be. Plus, don't feel too bad, at least you're in the American Redoubt :), you can't believe how outcast you feel being in the southeast when you frequent prepper sites. Sometimes I feel like the invisible nerd in the school lunchroom that no one will sit with because I'm on the east coast!!! Haha, it's okay though, I love where I am, hate cold weather, can deal with 100 degree, humid summer days (used to it) and will always work to better my place. You're going to be just fine too, just get those gardens, bees, whatever done, you'll be glad you did!!!

  25. Greetings Enola Gay!
    We are in exactly the same position. Where we are isn't where our hearts are, nor where we think it would be best for a TEOTWAWKI situation. For whatever reason, the Lord has us right HERE.

    When I commented about two months ago, The Patriarch was out of work. He has now been hired at another forklift repair company and is in the middle of his second week.

    In one way, his "time off" gave us a needed evaluation of our preparedness supplies. I do realize that no one family can possibly stockpile every single thing they will ever need for a number or years. But I did see areas where I have "plenty" and others that need much more! I also saw a very real need for some things I had been thinking about but hadn't gotten around to yet.

    Your "dream retreat" sounds lovely. I took the liberty of planting two plum trees on our property just a month ago. I am also working on an edible landscaping design... to incorporate some veggies into the "pretties" along the edge of the house. But even the pretties will have herbal/medicinal uses. If we can't eat it, use it for medicine/herbs or it doesn't serve a 'security function'... than I am NOT watering it and will replace it with a useful plant instead!

    Blessings, ~Mrs. R

  26. Thanks for the reminder, Enola. I've been going through this right now (literally this morning), feeling that my life is not the way I would wish it to be yet reminded of God's provision for all our needs. I struggle so very much with my wishes against His will - and I would too often break myself on that will rather than be content in it.

  27. Enola, love your blog. I check in most everyday. I found you a couple of years ago when you just got started. You're site was just what I needed at the time and still is. I have advanced much in the last 2 years with my preps and self sufficient skills with the help of your site and others, but I too find myself where you are, but I decide last month; that I would treat my property as if it is my permanent place. I held off doing some things, but now I'm just forging ahead. I may not be able to take my fruit trees, roses and many other permanent fixtures with me, but what I can take I will and what I leave behind I leave it behind knowing that I left the land better then how I found it. Like you I don't know how long I'll be here, but I'll give it my best effect while I'm here. Enola, I appreciate you very much and greatly appreciate that you share your kindness and wisdom with us.

  28. Precious Heavenly Father - We lift up this dear family and faithful one whose heart is torn for her family home and wanting to hear Your voice in a very special way.

    Oh, how grateful we are to have You to praise, to glorify You in all we do, to lean on You in times of trial and contemplation. We humble ourselves to know You are there. This family is the one You see. You hold them close in the palm of Your right hand as you lead them right where You, their Heavenly Father, want them to be for Your ultimate glory and their good as they love You. [Romans 8:28]

    Guide this precious family Lord in the way they should go. Give them the patience to endure. Your timing is not our timing and Your timing is ALWAYS perfect. Thank you Father for their victory over impatience. Thank you Father for providing for the desires of their hearts that You have given to them. Thank you for the way You will work all of this moving out as it is very stressful. Yet knowing they have Your peace and hand of blessing upon their lives as they rest in You for their needs.
    In the majestic and blessed Name of Yeshua Messiah, Jesus Christ,

    1. YHWH bless you for using his Son's original Hebrew name, Yahshua! It blesses me greatly to see this!

      And many blessings to you as well, Enola, as you continue walking in faith down that straight and narrow path! I'm sure our Creator is greatly pleased with how well you and Sir Knight have listened to that still small voice, and prepared for things yet to come. I believe there is no greater way to bless the Father than to faithfully raise and guard the most precious gift He gives us - HIS ("our") children.

  29. Enola Gay,

    You are such an inspiration to so many of us....readers and bloggers alike! And as I mentioned your post in my blog today, it is amazing how we are all on the same wavelength. The Holy Spirit is working through His people. God Bless You!

  30. In her book "Home Place: Meditations on an Ozark Life," Fayrene Stafford Farmer talks about "blooming where you are planted." I love the book (short novel written by a local), but it was the concept of "blooming where you are planted" that really spoke to me.