Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Old house, old car, DIY everything: Why do we do these things?

I tend to post a lot of progress reports and pictures of things, but I sometimes avoid mentioning the motivations behind why we have chosen to live a DIY lifestyle. Perhaps that is because I find it difficult to properly explain the "why." More likely it has to do with the phenomenon that Dave Ramsey highlights here:

By the way, I'm a HUUUUGE Dave Ramsey fan. I think that a bunch of people don't really understand him, but I find him to be so real and true to the principles that Lauren and I adhere to. However, it's hard to fight the good fight, it's hard to espouse the principles that are like a foreign language to most.

Here I am, though, writing a post about my motivations for buying a "fixer upper," for growing a food garden, for planting an orchard, and for not hiring out like our lives depend on it. Our lives DO depend on it!

One of the biggest turning points in my life was when I canceled cable for a year. It was hard to imagine life without TV, but there I was, 22 and TV-less. After a few weeks of emotional retching, a psychological withdrawal that I imagine was a toe in the water of what coming off a drug habit would feel like, I broke through and realized that TV was nothing but mindless cheap entertainment. As the weeks and months passed, I found an even more powerful truth, one that has affected me deeply to this day, one that I required to be shared by my now wife. When you break free from a life separated by 2 minute intervals of greed-pleading (commercials), you become content with what you have. It was the strangest thing. I could go days and weeks without spending money. I could adhere to the budget more closely. I could focus on what is truly important in life, not money, not stuff, not cars nor houses, but bringing a God-led giver's heart to my relationships, my activities, and my life.

What does this have to do with buying old stuff and doing a bunch of DIY things? EVERYTHING! Lauren and I have found it difficult to let go of the materialism and the temporary comfort of money and stuff, but it has been extraordinarily rewarding so far! When you buy for quality, when you do the work yourself, when you generally connect yourself to your consumption, you appreciate life more. I wrote earlier about how gardening promotes enjoyment of the simple things in life. This is absolutely true, and something that Lauren and I are working hard to leverage. Whether it's just sitting on the porch and having dinner together, making the next day's lunch together, hauling bags of dirt to the raised beds together, or tearing down a wall together, we are drawn to one another when we DIY, when we garden, and when we are frugal. I can't think of any better way to start a marriage off than to focus on what brings us together!

God has brought into focus a few core principles that we work to build into our lives: 1) Focus on Him, not on others; 2) Hard work can be a blessing; 3) Appearances are less important than substance; 4) Give abundantly; and 5) Be content with where you are. Frugal, DIY, natural, and personal living really helps us to hit all five principles on a regular basis.

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