Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Things are moving along

Signed some loan documents yesterday.  We still have a few things that need to be done and then we are good to go!  Hopefully we are moving this weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Furnishing and Timelines

Well the day we are going to get our keys is currently being estimated for next Tuesday, which is later than we anticipated, but Tuesday is a good day. It leaves a few weekdays to work on the house before moving in on the weekend, and it's a long weekend too. We should be able to get free labor to move heavy furniture.

Speaking of furniture - the house is quickly filling up, before we even move in!  We are getting my mom's rocking chair which we LOVE, Jeremy's parents are giving us their piano, which I totally don't understand, but I'm very grateful.  We have a bunch of little things that have been stored here, there, and everywhere that will finally all find a happy home together, in our house.

And my porch plants are doing very well.  We have a little sunflower seedling quickly making its way into the world at about a centimeter a day!  And I tossed a little packet of seeds I found floating around for some sort of perennial flowering plant and the seedlings just popped up this morning!  I'm excited to be moving in a week with some healthy, flourishing plant life.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Hate Packing

However, packing week begins today.  We should have the keys and be working on the house next weekend, to move in beginning of the following week.

I'm excited to BE there, not excited to GET there.

Here is a picture of bubbs wreaking havoc on my organizational piles...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Place of Peace, and Cacti

In the Bible, the Gospel is sometimes referred to as the Gospel of Peace.  In the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us, blessed are the peacemakers.  Which speaks volumes to me.

I did not come from a life of peace, from a home of peace.  In fact, I still deal with the effects of a slight anxiety disorder, fits of rage, bouts of depression.  The love and peace of Jesus Christ has entered my life slowly, almost unnoticeable at times, like the dawning of a bright, sunny morning.  I look around at my life and realize how much more light, joy, peace and hope there is and I want more.

I want this peace for my own life and it's a gift I want to give to others.  A home devoid of hostility and secrets.  A home full of love and openness, even when being open is hard.

I see that our home could be a great tool in this goal.  Not only the inside, but the outside as well.  In fact, one of my big deams is a prayer garden, named for the prayers of peace I am already praying over it as well as the intention that it would be a place for all the members of our family and any guests to find an invitation to get away and to seek Jesus.

The grand idea is to have a medium size area, about 20' by 30' with a little fence around it.  Drought resistant (and hopefully native, to encourage birds and butterflies) hedges just inside the fence and then little rock pathways, with cacti and succulents full of breathtaking desert flowers.  Sprinkled throughout will be chairs, benches and a table with an umbrella.  Large landscaping rocks with scripture scrolled on them.  Bird feeders and wild flower seeds in little nooks and crannies.
From: share landscaping 

I plan to create it slowly.  With the refuse of the home improvement projects of other, more wealthy people.  With plant trimmings from family and friends.  From small native offshoots we commission from the local foothills.  And perhaps a Southern California black walnut tree - whose nuts were eaten by local Indians and are quite similar to the walnuts harvested by commercial walnut farmers.

From:  Cal Poly Pomona Black Walnut Grove

I am excited to begin.  It will be my first outdoor project, that I'll work on while the kids play outside every morning.  And all I will need to start is a spade, a shovel and a rake.  Hopefully, we'll have enough money left from outfitting the inside of the house to buy some quality garden tools.

Ambrose - the poster boy for nurture.

Ambrose is a testament to my thumb turning a bit greener.  He was slowly fading as a house plant when I decided some sun would do him good.  He has been a porch plant now for two weeks and is a nice dark green. And the crowning glory to this pale green thumb, is that he has his very first spider shoot just starting to grow it's little legs.

Now that I am coming to understand that plants, like all things, need to be nurtured, not just set in a corner and watered/fed/given a peanut butter sandwich and a movie.  I'm learning to turn from neglect to nurture.  And the lesson has been brought home with my lab experiment: Ambrose the spider plant.

There are hooks in the kitchen in the new house, just calling out for some hanging plants.  When I think about the house as I would love it, I think about clean, tidy spaces, ready for laughter and spreading out blankets with toys - and bird feeders out side our windows and big, healthy house plants.  These images just speak nurtured, cared for, cherished - the happy work of a woman who is not jumping from emergency to emergency.  The work of a woman who clothes herself in strength and dignity; a woman who smiles at the furture (Psalm 31:25).

And so, I finished transplanting some plants to bigger pots and cleaning off our little apartment porch. I realized that if I could find an off-white skein of yarn and a key ring in my house, I could make a plant hanger for Ambrose's new home in our new kitchen.  I commissioned Bug (Luxy) to hold the key ring and maintain tension for me and in just a little bit, we had this:

Ambrose - my poster boy for Nurture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Painting is done

    We cut a deal on Friday that saved the house for us. The seller was very shaky on paying $4,000 to replace the septic tank system. They asked if I would be willing to contribute toward it. I told them I didn't have the cash to do that (and to be perfectly honest, I would not have given them any money up front if I did have it before there were signed documents and legal protections). So I called my loan agent and asked if we could raise the sale price of the house by $1800. This allows us to pay the seller almost half of the cost of the septic replacement, it only raises our mortgage payment by about $10 per month (although I know in the long run it comes out to about double what the $1800 cash would have been now...but we're not planning on the long run; we're working to have this place paid off in 10 - 15 years max, not 30), we don't pay the seller anything if the deal falls through, and we get a brand spanking new septic system out of the deal. So, after an exciting and eventful Friday afternoon, we made last minute arrangements to get up there and paint first thing Saturday morning.

- AND -

After a day of hard work, the painting is done. The homestead at Dusty Acres went from looking like this:

to looking like this:

It may be hard to tell from the "before" picture, but we painted almost the entire front of the house, including the porch coverings. And all of it with that 5-gallon bucket of paint that we got for $25.00. Now that I've paid my stupid tax, the seller should be completing the septic work this week (probably by Wednesday). We may get the keys by the end of next week!

And so, to celebrate, we all went to the beach yesterday. It was our first non-dramatic family beach day ever since we had more than one kid. And Joey, the youngest (9 mos. old), sat up by himself for like an hour and ate Cheez-Its. So proud. God is good.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Big Dreams, Small Cows

Since we've begun thinking about having a little bit of acreage, I've toyed with the thought of having a cow.  I don't like goats milk and I just don't think I could get used to, I'm too picky.  I've accepted that.

But cows wouldn't work.  They are too big.  They require very strong fencing, they produce way, way too much milk (which legally you can't sell unless you go through some super crazy hoops to be a lisenced dairy), they are also very expensive to feed, when one has nothing but dirt and tumble weeds to offer.

Enter the miniature dairy cow.

This guy is only 5'9!  This little lady would look like a dog next to Jeremy!

About 10-15 years ago I saw a tiny little brahma bull and cow at the feed store where my mom bought her feed.  They were so tiny!  It was amazing.

In reflecting on that, I have found that there are little, tiny Jersey cows - that are actually the original size (and like our chickens, vegetables and portion sizes, they too have been super sized over the years).

Here is a link about the history.  They are kind of pricey and will require a SERIOUS amount of research as well as some workshops on simple things like milking a cow, and midwifery.  So, in a few years, we'll start in on that endeavor!  And perhaps sooner, if a little miniature of the bovine variety comes waltzing through the local cattle auction at a low, low price while me and/or my mother are there...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Praying for a Septic Tank!

Just got word:

Septic tank totally failed the inspection.  It'll be quite a chunk of change for the bank to repair the current one or install a new one.  Praying that the bank decides to go ahead and do the necessary repairs/replacement for it to pass inspection.

Holding our breath for another miracle!

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Our Septic Tank Story:

    OK, now for the reason behind the phrase "holding our breath for ANOTHER miracle". This is our second escrow in the last year and a half. We were in the first escrow (on a house in a beautiful little town called Mentone) for almost eleven months. It was a great house, nice sized lot, a lot of potential. We had lots of pipe dreams about that house too, what we could do with it, what we would do with the yard, dreams of digging a basement, dreams of being missionaries to the community of Redlands, which is filled with what some might consider "Christian cults", etc. The house was only about 950 square feet, but it had a big yard (in my estimation having lived all of my life in suburbia). 
    When we got close to our closing date, the Realtor called and told me that the entire septic tank had failed the inspection. There was no way to repair it, it had to be replaced. Since this also was an FHA loan, we could do nothing but wait to see if the seller would agree to do the repairs. The job was quoted at about $3800. I was devastated at first, because the house was cheap, under $100k. Would they really spend all that money just so that we can buy the house? The encouraging thought that came along with this was 'now that they know this is a problem they have to disclose to any future buyer as well, so maybe they will'.
    We prayed a lot during this time. We prayed that if God didn't want us to have this house, if this was a mistake, then we would know if the deal didn't go through, if it crumbled because of this. But we wanted the house so bad. We prayed for a miracle. We were essentially praying, 'If there is any way for us to get this house, please show us. Don't let us make a mistake. But not Your will, but ours be done.' At least that's how it felt some days. And you know what? God came through. The seller finally (after about two weeks) agreed to pay the money to install a new septic tank. We were thrilled, but we had already extended escrow once. 
    After about two more weeks, they started trying to pull permits to do the septic work on the house. Red tape everywhere. I got the call one day. I was shocked, but not appalled. I believed my God to be bigger than all of it. I prayed harder. Since the sewer line was so close to the house (it was put in long after the house was built), the city would not allow a new septic tank to be put in. The only other option was hooking the house up to the city sewer. Estimate: $35,000 (yeah, thousand, $20k of it was a city connection fee). 
    Remember, we were paying less than $100k for the house. The cost of this work was more than 1/3 of our offer. The seller took about a month and a half to respond this time. They were motivated to sell the house, but at what cost? We prayed and called the Realtor just about every day for any news. She cut me down to once a week because there was no news to tell. We were already in about month 5 of our escrow by this point. We prayed that if this was a mistake, let it fall through, but God, PLEASE GIVE US THIS HOUSE! The seller finally came back and agreed to do the work. We were delighted, but not shocked. I even got to witness a little to our Realtor about the power of God and how all things work together for the good of those who love Him. 
    To make an already too long story short, the seller, once they decided they were going to do the work, did not waste much time. They got some bids, hired a contractor, and started pulling permits. We ran into some more red tape with the city. Mentone is technically unincorporated property. It belongs to San Bernardino county but is in the Redlands city water district. Apparently a property cannot be hooked into the city sewer system if it has not first been annexed into the city of Redlands. This process took about 4 months. By this time we were 10-1/2 months into our escrow and took a good long look at the house. Our family had expanded since we started this escrow (we now had 3 kids instead of 2). The house only had 2 bedrooms. It was 950 square feet. We finally told them that we were tired of waiting and the house was too small for us anyway, and cancelled our contract. The seller was already so invested in the deal that they offered to drop the price $10,000 if we would stay in, which was tempting, but didn't change the facts. God didn't make the deal fall through for us because it was a mistake, but He gave us a good long time to think about it.

    Now, about 6 months after that roller coaster ended, we get the phone call on our next dream home. The septic inspection totally failed. I took the news much more lightly this time, and I am praying for another miracle, but this time I am praying for God's will, not mine, because I know He has my best interests at heart. I also know that He won't stop us from making a mistake, but He may give us a good long time to think about it first. 

    We'll keep you posted on developments in this new drama.


I am planning on growing my own wheat.  In a nut shell, here are the pros and cons for us to do that:

This beautiful painting can be found here.


For 6lbs of wheat seeds we should harvest about 50lbs (according to this article in Mother Earth News) to be turned into 50lbs flour.

We'll be eating very, very healthy home made bread year round with those kind of stores.

We get to experience first hand, every year, a wheat harvest to make those biblical parables all the more impactfull.

We can use the chaff/stocks/leftovers as straw bedding for both chickens and rabbits.

We get to use a sickle!  Well, maybe not for such a small amount, but it'd still be pretty awesome.

Stored wheat berries last for a very, very long time.


The wheat berries (pre-ground flour) need to be stored in a dry (no problem in the desert), air tight container that will keep out bugs, vermin and mold.

50lbs of wheat berries, need a bit of space (not just a little left over kitchen cabinet space), so we may need to wait until our Mercantile shed is built to store this stuff.

It is suggested that you grind the amount of flour you will use for one week and store that flour in your fridge.  With that in mind, we'll need a nice grinder as the hand grinders can aparently take FOREVER to yield just a small amount of flour (and, the article states, using a regular blender will leave you with pretty coarsely ground flour, making your breads/bisquits/whatever pretty darn grainy).

I fear that the wheat may take a lot of water to thrive in such a dry climate.  I think I'm going to have to find that out for myself though.

The big con is money - money for the storage space, storage containers and money for the grinder.  Once those are handled, we should be good to go.

By the way - I love that painting.  Anyone want to find me a print ;)


Wind power and living off the grid

    One of my dreams for Dusty Acres is to build at least one windmill, a fancy one overlooking the "town". It obviously won't be as big as the one pictured here, but it will be fully functional, and it will power our home. I really have no idea how much power one windmill will generate, so I may need two or even several for all the power we will need, or even couple the wind power with solar power. If there are two things we have a lot of in the high desert, they are wind and sun.
     I found a website that details how to make a home-made wind turbine out of "common household items" per-se. You can view it here if you are interested. Putting one of these up saves the environment. But honestly, that's the least of my worries. I want to be off the grid because there's really no reason to be on it. You can build your own wind turbine for probably 300 - 400 dollars (the guy in the website above built his for $140, but had some parts on hand already). I heard of a guy today who built one in his yard and it not only powers his house, but the extra is hooked into the grid for the rest of the neighborhood, so he gets no electric bill and Edison pays him $25 a month for the electricity he generates for them. That's a sweet deal.
    Not only do wind turbines look cool, they can also provide all the power you would need for your house and everything you do around it. If the power ever goes out in the neighborhood, yours should stay on (if you've got a good store from the turbine). Storms, which generally knock out power lines, actually produce a lot of wind and thus if your turbine is strong and secure enough, you should get extra energy during storms instead of none. But probably the number two reason I want to build this (just beneath not wanting to pay an electric bill) is for the experience and challenge of creating the turbine, from scratch. The author of the website referenced above states that anyone with a little mechanical bent and some knowledge of electricity should be able to do this easily. I have neither of those attributes at my disposal. So this will not be easy for me.
    I will carefully document the process and you can all laugh along with me at my foibles and terrible mistakes. Hopefully we will come out in the end with a beautiful and functional turbine that powers our house, and makes Dusty Acres look a little more like we want it to be in actuality: a throwback to simpler times gone by.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

God's Coming Through Already

    Well, we are within two weeks of closing escrow on Dusty Acres. Our closing date is technically this coming Monday, but there is still some work the seller has to do on the house before our FHA loan will close. They should be completing that work today. And after they finish their work, I get to pay my stupid tax (Dave Ramsey's term, not mine).
     I daftly volunteered to paint some bare wood on the front of the house in order to "sweeten the pot" a little bit and make our offer seem more appealing to the seller. It was by far the least expensive fix of all of them and I decided that we could handle the cost (meaning the cost of the paint, because we will be doing the painting ourselves, "I'll get by with a little help from my friends").

    They say that two of the most stressful things in (an ordinary suburban American) life are 1. Escrow, and 2. Moving. They just may be right. It is all we can do right now to stay calm and collected, and to tell the truth, things are not exactly peachy-keen in the McCool household at the moment. On my end, I am handling the escrow and watching my savings account dwindle as more and more sudden (and rather unexpected...since I've never done this before I did not know what to expect) costs come up in this process. We have been praying that our funds will prove to be sufficient and that we will have a little leftover for some repairs and improvements. We are making priority lists of how urgent all of the changes we want to make are and then we will see how far we can get on the money we have available.

    Two of our main priorities are:
    1.    painting the front of the house (we cannot close escrow if we don't)
    2.    getting a stove (so that we can eat once we move)

    God has already started answering our prayers. In the last few days both of these needs were met. I work for the company that owns the apartment complex we currently live at. I work with supplies to make ready the apartments as they become vacant and repair occupied units. My boss is the manager of all the supplies for the entire company (58 properties in all). I simply mentioned to him that we are looking for a stove for the house and asked him if in the improbability that his drivers picked up an old beat-up one that still actually worked, would he consider sending it my way? He asked me a very unexpected question. He said, "How old is the stove in your apartment?" I found out it was "original" which actually means about 7 years old. He said he would have no problem replacing it when we move out and passing our stove on to us! Blessings galore. That's at least a $100 appliance that we no longer have to buy.

    Also, my dad told me the other day that my good friend's dad used to be a house painter. I have known this guy since I was born and I never knew he used to be a house painter. I called him for some tips and he had lots of suggestions. I was glad that I had talked to him. I need all the help I can get making this house look nice and covering the naked wood and I have to do it really really quickly. I was planning to spend a few hundred dollars on paint and supplies. He called me today and said that he just happened to be at the hardware store and asked if I wanted him to pick up some paint for us. He found a 5-gallon of greyish paint for $30.00, deeply discounted because it was a tinted color that had been rejected by the buyer. I told him that would make a good undercoat, even though we had planned on painting it white to match the rest of the house. He called back about twenty minutes later to tell me that he had dug into the employee at the paint counter for a while and found that they actually had a 5 gallon of good quality almost totally white paint with the primer mixed in already for $25.00, discounted for the same reason. So if the colors match OK, the $250 - $300 I had planned on spending on paint just dropped to $25.00.

    God is good. He is still on the throne, and prayer most definitely changes things. I dropped about 20 lbs of worry with these two developments. Jesus said (as related in Matthew 6:25-34) that the lilies of the field and the birds of the air do not worry about what they will wear or what they will eat or where the money will come from, but God still feeds and clothes them. He then goes on to say, "Are you not worth much more than they?" He then explains, "[The world] eagerly seek[s] all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Heather read this to me yesterday afternoon when I was in the middle of a stress meltdown. Today, God took care of us. He'll take care of you too if you will only ask.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


One of my homesteading goals, which hasn't been the highest priority and yet still manages to happen every now and again is to rise and set (to start and end) my day with work and reading the word.  It's an act of thankfulness.

The work that I do (or rather, have a goal to do since I'm slacking a bit these days) is to wake myself up each morning with something that encourages thankfulness and appreciation.  This is my version of alone time.  Kneeding bread by hand, pouring steaming hot water into a wash basin to hand wash one small load of laundry and then following it up with my morning reading plan.

This morning it was making bread by hand, and Ps 103 and Mark 2.

It is now hours later, as I was up before the sun and these are the things I have left over:

I keep coming back to these verses of Psalm 103:

 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases; 

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who [c]fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

And the house is filled with the aroma of a home made whole grain bread.

Now the morning has begun, the children are up and fed and we are approaching snack time.  My morning devotions have left me thankful, in deed, both for the aroma in my home and the meditation in my heart.  I'm not entirely sure what it means to bless the Lord in my soul, but I imagine it to look a little like being so thankful for the Lords provisions and His love toward us that your heart is feels like it could burst, and that's about where I'm at.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Dusty Acres Ghost Town

    One of my dreams for the lot is to create a slightly miniaturized replica of an Old West boom town, complete with the "Welcome to Dusty Acres" sign at the entrance (Population 5).
    The buildings would be somewhere between a facade and a real structure. I want to build a small one-room cabin with a wood burning stove inside that would be great for hot chocolate and story telling/reading well into the night. I also want to build a Mercantile that is actually a shed containing stores for the house as well as things that Heather has jarred or canned. I want to build an Inn or Hotel facade that contains the entrance to a stairway that goes down into the cellar that I plan to dig. It will be a large den-like room with a couple of pull-out-bed sofas, a coffee table, maybe a Foosball table or something, ideally a restroom, and maybe a large closet on one side for storage of things like board games and other fun indoor activities. It would be a great place for friends and family to sleep over if they don't want to make the long drive home right away, also a great place to hang out if we're having trouble sweating out the heat of a lazy summer day (underground it's much cooler). Of course this would be complete with an old west looking (and fully functioning) windmill and a rain-harvesting water tower with the words Dusty Acres on it. We want to be as off the grid as possible, so these types of things will probably litter our property. We will also have some fully solar lighting outside that should stay lit for several hours after sundown.

     I also would like to have a small church facade with not much inside but a couple of short pews and a cross at the front, and maybe a small kneeler in front of the cross. It would be awesome to have a little prayer chapel on our property. There would be a couple of other fronts on these rooms too to make it look more like a town. Maybe we could get an old stage to set around somewhere eventually. I think I will make one of the structures into a recording studio as well. They won't be any bigger than little garden sheds, but I want them all to be functional, not just storage. It would be awesome to have a Saloon as well that actually has a wet bar in it. Also at some point I plan to build a small wall (or use one that is already there) to show drive-in movies on at certain times of the year.

    I want our ranch to be kind of a welcoming hospitality oasis where people can feel comfortable and where they can share their lives with us. It will be a place constantly bathed with prayer and where the young, the old, the sick, the confused, the happy, the sad, can all come and enjoy a little respite from their ordinary lives. A retreat of sorts. A place where God shines through the festivities and breaks into people's lives like a thief in the night. A place where love and compassion and forgiveness and conviction can all be felt at the same time. A place where people love to come to because they know that God is in their midst when they are there. That's the kind of house that I want to live in. One day, our humble Dusty Acres will be a hopping boom town where sinners go to die and are then raised again with Christ as their center.



A Shed

Known forever more as 'The Barn' - the existing shed may have a future protecting rabbits from the heat and chickens from the coyotes.  As well as housing our feed and gardening tools.

The barn sits behind the house, facing the currently empty second acre of the property.


The Cats

About 7 weeks ago a little black and white mama cat gave birth to kittens behind the dryer in our apartment washer/dryer garage.
Liberty (the kitten) is always in attack mode.  

As of a week or two ago, we now have taken on ownership of the mama cat (Bell) and one kitten(Liberty).  The kitten lives in a crate on the porch and comes in to play about a total of four hours a day.  The mom lives outside, but really just on our porch and comes in to play as well.  And today, after a visit to the vet, lots of medicine and three times the normal amount of cat food, the mama cat is feisty again and playing pretty rough with her kitten.  In her defense, the kitten is the most ferocious of the four and just attacks and dive bombs the mama cat any time she can.

It's an absolute riot to watch.

Keeping them is contingent on getting this (or a) house.  Once we move they will be indoor cats for a while and then they will progress to outdoor during the day, indoor at night (because of the coyotes) cats.  They will be the first animals on our little homestead.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Heather's First Walk-Through

I walked around the barren little house of brick and rickety windows, planning, searching, seeing it not at all for what it is, but for what it could be.  Refinish this, paint that; add a wall here, and that chair would be perfect here...

Still, I ran into spider webs.  I can't find anything to like about the style of a few things in the house.  The outside is wilderness, from the first inch off the cement slab in any and all directions.  I got bit by an ant outside, a very large black and red one.  I anxiously watched my toe for swelling - none came.  Peabody,  who is robust 2 year old wiz kid, required someone to carry him at all times.  He was afraid of the 'sharp tings' outside (meaning the low lying brambles) and was generally rather anxious, which could have been mostly due to hunger, but it only added to my own general anxiety.

My chest was hurting.  Sometimes I suppress my anxiety so well that the only way I even know that I'm not dealing well is that my chest hurts.  It's a bad sign, I know.  But it passed once I started admitting to myself that I might be scared.

I'm excited still, though.  Buglet was very, VERY into playing with the dirt.  She was dressed in her white 'cupcake' shirt and pink leggings and she was pretty dusty by the time we piled into the van to head out.  We're all pretty stoked about the infinite possibilities of a 2-acre yard.  Turning the existing shed into a rabbit and chicken barn.  Turning the formal dining room into a home school classroom - which, appropriately enough, seems to have not one, but at least three wild bird nests just outside the large eastern facing window.

There is a lot of work to be done.  Some for safety, some for comfort, some for style.  We were reflecting on all the provision God has seen to for us to get this place, and especially about the little bit of money we'll have left over after closing.  We've decided, against all the better judgement the world has to offer, and in an effort to force us to rely more on God's provision, that we are going to give half of that leftover money back to God - wherever He leads us to put it.  We'll surely have enough left for the basics like a stove and capping some random indoor gas valves.  The rest of that meager fund however, will hopefully end up showing someone just a little taste of how much God loves them and wants to take care of them, too.