Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Necessities Are Optional

This post is not to make anyone feel guilty if you use any of these things.  It's merely to call into question their necessity.  In our society we've say we "need" a lot of things.  In reality, most of the things we think we need are actually just wants based on clever marketing by companies who have a financial stake in making you feel helpless without this stuff or making you doubt your standard of living if you don't use this stuff.  If you want to use things, that's fine, as long as you can afford it.  But, let's be honest--they're luxuries.

As Dr. Sheldon Cooper would say, "We have to take in nourishment, to expel waste, and inhale enough oxygen to keep our cells from dying.  Everything else in optional."

Here are a few random things we've labeled as optional:

We have seven kids and no paper towels.

Never purchased baby food.  Ever.

Baby wipes.
Old receiving blankets cut into wipe sizes and wet with regular water: works just fine.

I think I have one up in the cupboard somewhere.  Can't recall it ever being used.

Breast pump.

Gana has one for work.  I do not.

We have one that is in several pieces in the garage.  "Just in case."

I use them when we are camping sometimes.  Otherwise,  it's cloth.

Cable TV or Satellite.  We have never purchased TV reception.  

We take turns washing and drying the dishes by hand.

Haven't used the dryer in over 2 years.


Stroller.  We have one, but don't consider it a necessity.

Good old fashioned handkerchief anyone?
We eat cold cereal sometimes for when we are camping.

Been making our own laundry soap for two years.  Have spent about $10.

We don't have health insurance.
Then again, we don't usually see doctors.

I think people would be surprised by how much little money we make, yet it is possible only because of how little money we spend.

I've been reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes and it's been rocking my world.  Here's what is inspiring these posts:

"A women's place in the workforce has become the norm in the last fifty years, the American household has changes to accommodate the shift.  Agriculture rapidly industrialized  and generated highly processed foods that supplanted most home cooking; skills were replaced with products, thrift with income, and time with convenience.  As the home became increasingly devoid of enterprise and creativity, few could blame women for fleeing the hearth.  However, during the same fifty years, our health, happiness and well-being have also dramatically declined.  The abandonment of the kitchen, the loss of personal finance skills despite rising household incomes, the relentless increase in busy-ness and the compulsion to replace emptiness and loneliness with consumer products have put us on course for an ecological, social and cultural train wreck....And above all, [Radical Homemakers] were fearless.  They did not let themselves be bullies by the conventional ideals regarding money, status, or material possessions.  These families did not see their homes as a refuge from the world.  Rather, each home was the center for social change, the starting point from which a better life would rippled out for everyone....

"More than simply soccer moms, Radical Homemakers are men and women who have chosen to make family, community, social justice and the health of the planet the governing principles of their lives.  They reject any form of labor or the expenditure of any resource that does not honor these tenets.  For about five thousand years, our culture has been hostage to a form of organization by domination that fails to honor our living systems, where "he who holds the gold makes the rules."  By contrast, Radical Homemakers use life skills and relationships as a replacement for gold, on the premise that he or she who doesn't need the gold can change the rules.  The greater our domestic skills, be they to plant a garden, grow tomatoes on an apartment balcony, mend a shirt, repair an appliance, provide for our own entertainment, cook and preserve a local harvest or care for our children and loved ones, the less dependent we are on the gold."

What things do you consider optional


Karen Joy said...



You are the master, Daja!!

I find it funny, though, because in my circle, I'm the most natural/crunchy/weird mom -- yet we use almost all of these! The only one I never did was baby food. Made all my own. And with baby 4 & 5, the stroller was more to carry stuff, than carry the baby. And I kind of half make my own laundry soap -- I supplement store-bought with baking soda & washing soda to stretch it, and because it cleans better that way.


Some of the outlook of what's posited in "Radical Homemakers" is really not possible without the husband being 100% on board. I could totally -- TOTALLY -- and with absolute JOY -- live off the grid down a five-mile dirt road in a tiny house we built from the dirt up. But my husband couldn't. Wouldn't. At least not at this stage. All of my crunchy "things" he kind of holds at arm's length, and says, "Well, let's see if she sticks with it. Let's see if it is actually beneficial." Know what I mean? He is definitely into low/no debt, and we are moving fast in that direction: The only debt we have is the mortgage, and one of the main reasons we're moving is to get into a less expensive house so we can get a 15 year mortgage ILO a 30 year one, and get out of debt that much faster. Another reason is for me to have more room to garden. And he's even been responding positively to my plans for rainwater harvesting for said garden expansion.

I know this is a long comment, but I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, being a Radical Homemaker is to NOT push my preferences and agendas, even if I'm pretty certain that they are right, and wait, wait, wait patiently for my husband to "catch up" to where I'm at.

I could easily slip into dissatisfaction and impatience and even bitterness about my husband IF I let myself. But, I choose not to.

So, I think it's best for me to NOT pursue some of the more radical branches of homemaking... at least at this time.

I hope that makes sense.

In the meantime, the Valley Permaculture Alliance forum is always a tab on my browser, and I learn as much as I can, and when I have the opportunity to implement something new, I do!!

Gombojav Tribe said...

Have you read Radical Homemakers? If so, I'm so glad! I want to talk about it, but no one has read it! LOL!

I don't think being a Radical Homemaker is so much about living off the grid and being a hippy (although, I'd love that) as it is questioning everything and living intentionally rather that swept away with what our current culture says is the way to live.

I think it is possible to be a Radical Homemaker and still have your husband or wife work a "regular" job, as long as the job fits with your convictions about family, community and sustainability. Shannon Hayes doesn't say to quit your job as to not rely on it for all your needs, but to become as self-sufficient as you can in your situation. Some of the homemakers she interviews live in urban settings. But, even that is intentional.

You know, I think that's what it all comes down to in the end: intentional living. So many people have never taken that mental exercise to say, "Is this what I really want?" "How do I see my life?" "What is necessary for our family?" Rather they get swept up with keeping up with the culture without even realizing it sometimes. So many people aren't living intentionally, but sort of on auto-pilot. They are living their life the way they are simply because everyone else is doing that and have never questioned if they need a second car, a mortgage, a college education, a cell phone, cable TV, etc. Not that any of those things are bad (we have two cars and live in the city), but if those choices were made FOR you be default and not BY you, then it should be evaluated.

I know you. I know you live intentionally and you inspire me with everything you write! All the things I pictured in this post were things that WE have decided are optional. They might be essential for someone else. And that's OK.


(Gracious! I've practically written an entire new blog post in the comments!!!)

Gombojav Tribe said...

Oh and in regards to TMI...I'm a Diva Cup girl.

Diane said...

OK... I need to get myself a copy of that book. It's a necessity!

hehehe.. sometimes I crack myself up;)

Gombojav Tribe said...

You crack me up, too, Diane!! :-)

Lady Dorothy said...

Okay, honestly, if you COULD have a dishwasher and a clothes dryer, wouldn't you? I could do without (and have), but I'd rather not. Even if I just used them occasionally!

So, from YOUR list of optionals, we use about half. No need for some of them. :-) Some of the ones we do aren't my/our decision.

I agree with Sheldon. Everything else is optional. Of course, he's saying that in front of a computer. As are we. :-)

Gombojav Tribe said...

Because we live in Southern California, I think I'll just keep going without a dryer. If we lived in a colder or wetter climate, I might re-evaluate that.

Would be nice to have a dishwasher....however, now that the kids are old enough to wash them, it seems much more "optional" than it used to. Even though, we've never had one. LOL!

Notice I didn't put a computer on my list of optional things. LOL!

Heidi said...

Hah... I was going to ask you about what you use in place of tampons/pads. I've actually been using a keeper (aka diva cup) most of the time since I was about 16 or 17, but I developed a latex allergy in the last couple of years, so I need to get my hands on a silicone one, though that's not going to be necessary for a good long time. :)

I agree that many of these things on the list are definitely not necessities. I do use a dryer in the winter because it's so much easier than using racks in my basement, and I find that my laundry starts to smell a bit icky if it doesn't dry fast enough. But I LOVE drying my clothes on the line when I can. It's so much easier to just take the clothes off the line and fold them as you go. I do use wipes and paper towels and tissues kind of guiltily, but I do like to use them... And maybe for this next baby I should seriously consider using cloth diapers. It just all seems too overwhelming, though I read somewhere yesterday that disposables take something like 500 years to decompose and I felt so guilty.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Hello Heidi!

The Diva Cups come in silicone. Super comfortable.

Cloth diapering is really so easy. I know it seems overwhelming, but consider this: I used the SAME SET of cloth diapers for FOUR KIDS over a span of regular use for 7 years. Think of how much money I've saved! There was an initial investment, but I paid myself back from that after just a few months!

I use a pocket diaper with snaps, so I don't have to fuss with pins and plastic pants. They wash up really well. I do diapers about twice a week.


Heidi said...

You know, I really do think I should seriously consider cloth diapers for real. I would do the pocket diapers too, I think. I need to do some research and thinking about this. Diapers aren't a huge expense in my house (probably only about $15/month, Canadian), but I do feel guilty about the waste. Currently we only have one kids in diapers and by the time the next one comes, hopefully he will be out of diapers too. Hmmmm....

Anonymous said...

How do you make your laundry soap? I have been making mine for a while now.. .Just curious about what you use and how you like it?
And if you are keeping score, LOL, (WHICH I KNOW YOU ARE NOT), I scored pretty well with your list! AND it just seems "natural" to me..Make sense? (Does it count that the four year old sleeps in the crib that usually just sits empty in the room? or that my mom INSISTS on buying me paper napkins/kleenex when she comes to visit? or that we get FREE air channels?) HA HA HA!! ;) I think/know I can come up with a list too! I think all families can! Its fun! :D

Gombojav Tribe said...

I use basically the same recipe as the Duggars. You can find it on their blog. Actually, I've given the job of making laundry soap to Israel. He keeps me stocked. I hate the part where you have to grate the soap, because my food processor doesn't do that. Bummer. So, Israel is my go-to guy!

We watch TV on free air channels as well. If we had more channels we'd just feel compelled to watch it more and I feel like we already watch too much!

Gana insists on buying diapers when we go camping or out of town. I'd tend to be a purist and keep using the cloth, but he tells me not to be too crazy. LOL!

Annie said...

Hi! I work a ministry called Generations of Virtue, which primarily equips parents and their children for purity. I am the warehouse manager for GOV. The staff had asked me if any of the blogs I subscribe to would want to do a book review for our founder's (Julie Hiramine) brand new book- http://generationsofvirtue.org/store/index.php/guardians-of-purity.html. I thought of your blog, it might a be a great fit! Let me know if you are interested, I will get your info and have a copy of the book sent to you soon. Thanks so much- Annie Anderson (www.havingkidsisfun.blogspot.com)

Gombojav Tribe said...

Sure, I'd love to read it!

Anonymous said...

Hello Daja~

Our youngest daughter Bailey (14) had a cerebral hemorrhage on May 26th of this year... as a result from an arteriovenous malformation in her brain that no one knew she had. After going by helicopter to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where she spent a week in their intensive care unit, she was sent home to allow her brain to recuperate from the assault it endured. We are awaiting a phone call from her pediatric neurosurgeon, telling us when we will need to go back to Chicago so that Bailey can have open brain surgery to have the AVM removed.

The life flight helicopter to Chicago cost $30,000 alone. A 23-minute ride!! Before all is said & done we're estimating her medical bills to exceed half a million dollar$.

I can not imagine what we would have done without health insurance. #1... if we hadn't have had health insurance, Bailey would have been denied the tranport to Chicago & would have had to have been treated locally. Our local emergency room was going to send Bailey home with a diagnosis of a migraine headache... until I insisted on a CAT scan of her brain. I am doubtful my request would have been granted without health insurance. Unfortunately & unfairly, people on public assistance (which is what you're automatically assigned if you have no health insurance) get the very minimum of care because the hospitals know they will in no way get reimbursed for even half of the bill that is incurred.

In a matter of 30 seconds Bailey's life & our lives changed. We woke up on a lazy, warm Saturday morning to coffee & leisure... and by Saturday night we were in Chicago, holding an ice pack to our daughter's painful head which contained a burst blood vessel & a 3cm. blood clot.

I think it's very arrogant of you to say that you don't have insurance & then to say "Then again, we don't usually see doctors." In the blink of an eye, you can desperately NEED to see a doctor... in fact to see many many specialized doctors. At that point it's way too late to start thinking about ("optional") health insurance.

God bless~ Andrea

Gombojav Tribe said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you commented! We've missed you 'round these parts!

So sorry to hear about Bailey! Wow, that must have been scary! I hope she is recovering in peace and may her healing be speedy!

As I said in the post, these are things that WE have labeled as optional. They may be essential for others. I make no judgement about that.

I've never really had health insurance my entire life. Not that we've never had emergencies or have had to see doctors or specialists. We have. But, God has always provided one way or another. But, God provides in different ways for different children. He may choose to provide for one through health insurance and another through other means. He's good and always takes care of those who trust in Him. Isn't that wonderful?! We each just do the best we can and follow His leading.

Love you, Andrea! Please tell Bailey that we are praying for her! I'll have all the kids pray for her during their prayer time this morning.

Ellie Rae said...

I guess a dishwasher. I have one and use it when I'm in a hurry, but for me, it is not a necessity.

TSM said...

Hey Daja!

Curious, what brand of cloth diapers have you been using? How/where do you store the dirty ones between wash days? How do you control any smell issue? Do you have a laundry sink you use for the washing?

Strongly considering "going cloth" when it's my turn, for cost and sustainability reasons.


TSM said...

P.S. I have to agree with Andrea above in that the streak with no health insurance and no health disasters is a bit of luck (even though I don't technically believe in "fortune," just roll with me for a second :-) ).

We can pray protection prayers, have substantial knowledge of spiritual warfare, eat the right things, practice good safety, and for whatever reason, strange things and expensive things STILL happen and nobody really knows why. It's a murky theological space, where our responsibilities and God's protection and sovereignty meet.

You don't have car insurance for the years and years you go without having an accident or being hit by someone else...

The Provision Room said...


Glad to hear you're considering cloth diapering! :-) There are soooo many kinds of cloth diapers on the market now. The days of diaper pins, plastic pants and your hands in the toilet are over. Thank the Lord! The ones I really like and have used for years are FuzziBunz. They are a pocket diaper, meaning there is a cloth cover and inserts. For inserts I have used everything from hemp to flannel to microfiber. I think hemp works the best, but it can be a bit pricier. But, I feel it's worth the investment because it lasts so long! They snap closed and are adjustable. I used the SAME SET of about 20 diapers from Luc (who is 8) through Saraa's potty training! That's four kids! A worthy investment! I finally had to get a new set for River. Not too shabby.

As for the diaper pail, I have a trash can with a tight fitting lid. I used to keep it indoors, but now that I have a garage it goes out there. About twice a week I do a load of diapers: soak and rinse in cold water, wash in hot, hang on the line to dry. I don't wash them by hand. I just knock off the poop that will fall off easily and then put the whole dirty thing in the diaper pail.

Hope that helps!


Gombojav Tribe said...

I've written a long and brilliant response to the health care comment, but for some reason Blogger is being a booger. I'll try to post it again later.

The Provision Room said...

As for Health Insurance, I consider myself a sort of Conscientious Objector. :-)

There are many valid reasons why a rational person might forgo purchasing health insurance. There's this great book (written by a feminist) called Radical Homemakers. It's about many aspects of homemaking and there is a section about health insurance. It talks about several reasons why some may choose not to have health insurance. Here are some:

It doesn't make sense to sacrifice quality of life as a hedge against a hypothetical disaster. Currently we are middle class. If we purchased health insurance we would be poor. Quote from the book, "What I know is that if we were to pay for health insurance, then we would be poor. And that's just kind of crazy."

In order to afford to insure our family Gana and I would both have to work outside the home and work more hours, which would negatively affect our health (by adding stress, eating out, commuting, relying on fast or convenience foods, etc.) which would be the opposite of what we would be trying to achieve by purchasing health insurance. From the book: "...it is ethically challenging to support the for-profit health-care system, because it handcuffs so many Americans to jobs that do not honor the four tenets of family, community, social justice and ecological health. Dr. Suzanne Schweikert, an MD practicing obstetrics and gynecology in California sees how this system of ensnaring a labor pool creates a circle of destructive living patterns among her patients: 'when I ask my patients who are obviously suffering from the stress of overwork why they don't cut back their hours, I am not surprised when their reason is "to keep my benefits." Ironically, the one thing they believe is there to protect their health is the same thing that hurts it in the long run. It pays for visits to the doctor, but all we can tell our patients is that to decrease the stress in their lives, they may need to seek another job with shorter hours and no benefits.'"

(to be continued...)

The Provision Room said...

Additionally, I don't feel that allopathic medicine on which health insurance is based is what constitutes good and appropriate health care. Not that there is a not a place for allopathic medicine, but I don't feel it should be the foundation. The foundation of good health is not good insurance or medical doctors. It is good food, good air, a godly lifestyle, freedom from stress, a clear conscience, herbs, animals, exercise, etc. Health insurance won't pay for my organic garden, shopping at the health food store, herbs, chiropractic, homebirth midwives, acupuncture, water filters, etc. I believe my health care dollars are better served in improving the quality of our lives so that the chances of allopathic medicine being needed is less likely.

Quite frankly, I don't trust the health care industry. "Fifty-eight percent of family practitioners in one study reported that the source of information for the last drug they prescribed came from the pharmaceutical sales representative. in the 1950's the U.S.A. was one of the healthiest countries in the world. Today, it ranks below every other industrial country, despite the fact that we have the highest expenditures on health care." Health insurance is a lot less about health CARE as it is a marketing scheme in many cases. Look at all the drug recalls, law suits, etc. Having served in many hospitals with laboring women I've seen first hand how evidence based care is often sacrificed because of medico-legal concerns. So, I just don't trust it as my first line of defense for health.

The health insurance industry only survives by keeping people sick, not by making them well. I don't want to participate in that.

What is wrong with paying for one's own healthcare? For someone like me, who hasn't been to the doctor since before I got married, would it be wise for me to shell out HUNDREDS of dollars a month in order to insure myself OR would it be wiser to save money faithfully. Therefore if I need emergency medicine I could *gasp* pay for it myself?! The reason this doesn't work for the majority of Americans is because we've completely lost sight of personal responsibility. We'd rather spend than save.

For some reason in the current health care reform debate health care and health insurance are used interchangeably. They are not the same thing. We have seven kids. That's seven pregnancies and births. Did I receive prenatal care? YES! The best prenatal care with a focus on wellness, nutritional advice, lab tests, etc. But, guess what? WE PAID FOR IT! And it was done by a midwife. We have seven kids who occasionally hurt themselves. We've had to bandage up children or take them in for stitches, etc. We have had neck injuries, headaches, sciatica, back problems, etc. We paid CASH to see a chiropractor. I think it's sad when free-market believing Americans think the only path to receiving health CARE is to have health INSURANCE.

I'm certainly not saying that everyone should make the choices we have. I am saying that it is a rational and intentional choice for many people. It's not an other-worldly theological decision. It's a conscientious one based on many factors.

Maybe that clears it up, maybe it makes it murkier. LOL!

Well, I'm off to enjoy that quality life. LOL!

Gombojav Tribe said...

Well, I didn't mean to comment as The Provision Room. It was me. :-)

Anonymous said...

An Update:

Thank you for your prayers, Daja, and please thank the children for their prayers too. :-)

Bailey did indeed have her open brain surgery... on August 14th. Her final bill for both stays in Chicago were over $750,000. We could have never paid for that ourselves... and even if we had that kind of money in the bank & could have proved it, Bailey still would have been refused transport to Chicago for her life-saving treatment. The insurance card is the golden ticket... without it, Bailey would not have been transported.

We had a bit of a scare last week in that our pharmacy informed us that our insurance had been cancelled. It was a snafu... a glitch in the system... but it made us very nervous as Bailey will have to have hundreds & hundreds & hundreds of thousands of dollar$ of tests for the next 5 years, to make sure her AVM is not growing back. At the end of 5 years, if all is well, she can forget about ever having had it... but not until then.

During the waiting period between the time the pharmacy told us this news & when the insurance company opened the next morning so that Dan could call them, Dan told me:

"If this is true, Andrea, I will be calling a 'head hunter' & looking for another job immediately... as we HAVE to have insurance!"

We could never pay for private health insurance either... that's why Dan would never work for a company that doesn't provide health insurance for its employees & their families.

All the things you have mentioned, that you pay for yourselves, are relatively speaking low-budget things in comparison to a catastrophic health event that approaches the one million dollar mark to treat. Perhaps you've had the opportunity to save up that kind of money & if you have, I am thrilled for you. <3 But we have not... and quite honestly, I don't think they would have transported & treated Bailey in Chicago regardless of how much our bank statement or financial records stated. That insurance card is the golden ticket... without it the transport would not have happened.

I think the photo album of Bailey's surgery (her 2nd trip to Chicago) is "public" so anyone can view them. I'll give you the link in case you might like to see what your prayers wrought in our lives. :-) Thank you so much for them!!


Love you too~ Andrea

Gombojav Tribe said...

So glad to hear that Bailey is recovering! I'm sure this Christmas season will be extra special, having your family all together and healthy.


Peace and blessings,

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