God makes provision for my tomorrow’s, today. I have seen this Truth woven into my life, but none so evident as when we lived off the grid near Yosemite National Park.
It was 2006 when Joe decided it was best to move the family back up to the California mountains to live off the grid. We had lived this lifestyle before. Our first experience included five children, a tent, and the high Sierras. This time, we would have ten children, a 1000 square foot miners shack, and Yosemite National Park as our backyard.
What we lacked in housing, we made up for in the fertile landscape. Forty acres of picturesque property, rock waterfalls, natural springs that flowed year round, crystal clear creeks, a pond, pastures, and trees. We found ourselves tucked back into the mountains near Yosemite National Park, surrounded by government land.
For our family, it was a dream come true. Joe wanted our family to know the work and blessings of raising and growing our food.
Bliss meets Reality
However, it wasn’t long before our fairytale experience turned into a nightmare.
What we didn’t know was that our secluded location, as beautiful as it was, also made us a prime spot for squatters (someone who unlawfully occupies an uninhabited building or unused land), drug dealers, and criminals.
Shortly after we sold our home in the city, we moved the family up to the “farm.” Immediately, we tackled the hard work of remodeling and clean up. The children woke with the sunrise and played until the sunset. They would hoot and holler without disturbing a soul in the world. Everything was going just as we had imagined until the unexpected visitors arrived.
An older man and woman who knew of the property from years before just showed up one day with their beat up old trailer and fourteen chihuahuas (no, I’m not exaggerating!). They didn’t just bring the chihuahuas with them; many challenges arrived as well.
We had to go into government offices which were hours away to request that they evict the squatters and list our reasons why. It took six months for them to complete the “eviction” process. As you might imagine, our new neighbors weren’t pleased with us. They used those six months to retaliate against us in countless ways.
- They stayed up all night (and I do mean all night) making loud and obnoxious noise.
- In the middle of the night, they would shine bright lights at our shack so that we couldn’t sleep.
- They would continuously yell at the children as they did their morning chores.
- Intimidating the children with guns, pacing the property, and watching them as they played.
- Stealing fuel and anything else they wanted from us became the “tax” we had to pay unwillingly.
There’s a book worth of details I could share, but for today’s conversation let me say that things got crazy, really crazy!
Life in the midst of squatters
As I continued to unpack the boxes and make our shack feel more like a home, I kept having a thought that I should give away a set of books that I had spent years and a large sum of money collecting. Day after day I would battle my thoughts and reasons why I should dismiss this idea. Finally, I shared with Joe about my internal argument when he wisely said, “Jeanette if God’s leading you to do something just do it.” I shared my concern about being wasteful with all the money and time spent. Again, Joe encouraged me, “Jeanette, obey God.”
That’s when things started to get interesting.
I called the first family that came to mind and asked if they might be interested in this set of books for their children. They were surprised and delighted by my call. As it would turn out this was a set of books they had wanted for years. I packed up the books and made the mountain drive to deliver these treasures to their new home.
I still remember the smiles and gratitude from the children and their parents.
Before I left, the mother asked me if I might be able to use a water purifier. It wasn’t a cheap DIY water purifier; it was the same purifier that I had put on my wishlist.
I was delighted to have this gift; I set it up on the kitchen counter as soon as I arrived back home. A few moments later (yes, moments!) I heard a knock at the front door. I figured it was a child playing and was surprised to a see the sheriff standing on my doorstep.
“Ma’am, it’s been reported that you’re giving your children spring water and don’t have any water purifier.”
I was a bit baffled. I had no idea someone could call the police on you if you didn’t have a water purifier.
“No, sir. I have a water purifier right here.” Pointing to the new gift that I’ had just brought home. He visited for a bit and then left agreeing that all was well.
The false reports continued
A few days later, another sheriff arrived saying they received a report of us living without a working toilet. I took them into the newly remodeled bathroom that my parents had bought for us. Again, we talked for a bit, and he left agreeing all was well.
The days and weeks went on with the squatters behavior becoming more and more unpredictable.
We continued to turn the shack into a home. We had engineers and solar representatives come out to the property to share their ideas on how to optimize our off grid living experience.
The provisional refrigerator
A friend called to let me know of a free propane refrigerator that was available. She knew I had one of these off-grid treasures on my wish list and had heard about this opportunity, instantly thinking about us. Joe and I loaded up the old Suburban and drove to the address given to pick up our new refrigerator. We were excited; everything we needed was coming together.
Our new refrigerator probably sat outside for a week or more. Joe saw no reason to bring it in the house since we were limited on space and didn’t have propane yet.
However, I couldn’t get over how “red neck” I felt with a refrigerator on my front lawn. My persuasion finally won, and the fridge came into the house where I used it for storing all our dishes.
The squatter situation wasn’t pleasant.
It got to the point that I would leave first thing in the morning to visit friends and family and not return until late at night. I didn’t want the children exposed to our uninvited guests any more than they had to be.
Another visit from the Sheriff
One evening, it was pitch black when I arrived back at the shack with the children. I had just got everyone settled inside when I opened the front door to go turn the generator on. There stood the sheriff again.
“Sir, can I help you?”
“Ma’am. I’m sorry. I know you guys aren’t doing anything wrong, but we have to go out on every report.”
With a deep sigh, I replied, “Okay so what did this mysterious person say we’re doing wrong now?”
“Well, Ma’am they say you don’t have a refrigerator, but I can see it sitting right there.”
Without even giving me time to explain he turned and walked away.
I shut the door and sat in the dark with the children processing all the times of God’s provision.
I don’t know if it was uninvited guests calling in the reports or someone else.
It wasn’t important to me who was making the calls. What was important was who was making provision for us and protecting us from harm.
“God makes provision for our tomorrows today.”
God’s provision can be found over and over again as we turn the pages of Scripture yet it’s an entirely different experience when God’s provision shows up vividly in our daily lives.
Throughout that season of trials, I asked the Lord to remove the struggles. Yet, God, in His sovereignty, saw it best for us to live through the trial instead of avoiding the trial.
It’s not for me to argue with God on when He should speak to the storm or when He should speak to me.
I have to be responsive to His plan that focuses on eternity instead of my plan that is easily fixed on what I see, hear, and feel.
I don’t know how our trial would have been different if it had been scattered with disobedience. There have been several times when His mercy met me in my defiance and, there are plenty of times my disobedience caused unnecessary roughness.
Friends, It felt like this six months would never end. I felt like I was wadding with my nose barely above water yet, Joe and I had committed to keeping joy and not doing anything that would reflect poorly on our testimony.
It wasn’t easy.
There were times the momma bear inside me was awakened, but these three steps made all the difference in the world in keeping my soul calm.
Read the Word consistently
Praise God continually
You probably remember that last week we spoke about living a responsive life and not a reactive life. I firmly believe that these three steps are needed if we choose to live responsively.
Over the next several weeks I am going to take a look through the Scriptures at women who made Faith driven responses and when those same women fell into doubt driven reactions.I hope you’ll join me as we learn and grow together.
If you’re in the midst of a trial remember, God makes provision for our tomorrow’s today more often than we even realize.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood