Steve CookThroughout the years many Lifeonaires have visited my home and witnessed the culmination of a beautiful vision: A simple life, a modest home, walking distance to a really cool downtown with coffee shops, cafes, my office, etc. I’d like to share how that story has evolved, and vividly demonstrated the immense power of having a clear, written Vision for your life, including a solid grasp of your why for the ingredients in your Vision—even when those things are seemingly impossible to common sense and reason. A clear, crisp Vision fueled by a compelling why has a tendency to make impossible things become possible.

Impossibility #1—Building Our Home Debt Free

When I made my move to Wisconsin in 2009, some key aspects of my Lifeonaire Vision starting coming together. I was heavily involved with building my home, designing every aspect for simplicity, energy efficiency and family living in mind. Along with this vision of a simple life, I desired to be completely debt free. After all, debt tends to be the kryptonite to simplicity.  I’ve shared the story with many. My goal was to build a home with all that God had provided me. My budget was what I had in the bank. Unfortunately, there were surprises and I went over budget in a few areas. I did everything I could to make up for these shortfalls in other areas, but as the project for our first small-town Wisconsin home was winding down, I was tallying all the numbers it appeared that I was going to be $10,000 short to build this home without debt. When I was living in Baltimore, making a quick $10,000 was simple. But I was now in a small town in Wisconsin, which meant it wasn’t quite that easy. I was truly sorry that I couldn’t get the home built within the budget that I had. I prayed and asked God to help me find a way, then journaled about it that morning. Then at noon that day, I suddenly got an unexpected call from my wife saying her mother had just given her $10,000. It was her inheritance from her grandfather. It was also exactly what we needed to honor my Vision, and finish our home debt free. God has been so good to me. Despite all that, there were a couple of things in my Vision that I just couldn’t get at the time, partly because it wasn’t available to get my hands on, partly because it wasn’t God’s timing, and partly because I wasn’t ready. My Vision is always subject to (i) my being truly ready, and (ii) God’s perfect timing. Understand, I got everything I wanted in a home. It was written and it came together, but there was one thing I wanted but didn’t have at that time, and something else that I desired to have which became clearer later on. Understand, I got almost everything I wanted in a home. It was written, and it came together, even through seemingly impossible circumstances. But there was one thing I wanted but didn’t have at that time, and something else that I desired to have which became clearer later on.

Impossibility #2—The Country, but Downtown

One thing that wasn’t part of our first, small-town Wisconsin home: I wanted our new home to have acreage, but also be close enough to walk to a downtown walking district I really like—a pairing of features practically impossible to find anywhere in the country. I was able to land the downtown aspect. But like most in-town areas, my small town consists of quarter acre lots. Having acreage so you can feel like you’re in the country and have room to actually do things on your property? Nearly impossible. Any such rare parcel would come at an extreme premium on the price, particularly if it is in a town people actually want to be (Baraboo was rated the #4 small town in the US to visit, which obviously that makes it a place people want to be. 🙂 ). Anyway, I’ve enjoyed simply walking to my office for the last 7 years, which is about 8-10 minutes. I walk past the coffee shop where I wrote most of Lifeonaire in. I’m across the street from the court house (which admittedly I don’t go to), I’m across the street from my real estate agent, down the block from my two banks, a block from two title companies, across the street from the theater and within one block of a half a dozen restaurants I frequent. Today (in our new home we just built) I’m 4 blocks further away, which turns out is a little better. It adds 7-10 minutes more to my walk, which is good for me from a health perspective. But now my Vision has grown and our beautiful home, still walking distance to downtown, is on a 3.2-acre lot tucked away at a dead-end road, where the cross streets are all dead ends—meaning, little-to-no traffic. Yes, the “impossible” scenario I mentioned. So you feel like you’re in the country but are actually smack in the middle of town. We already loved our house, so we built the same house we live in, but with few improvements, and we can still walk to just about everything, including schools, parks, church and off course my downtown office.

Impossibility #3—Scott’s Garage

Another ideal I’d written in my Vision that seemed impossible on an in-town lot was having a large garage/shed we could use as a resource for ministry. If you’ve read Lifeonaire, you may remember how Scott ministered to kids while working on cars in his garage—which solidly reflects part of the Vision God has stirred in my heart. I want to have a place of ministry, and while I used the home God blessed me with much, still I had a Vision for doing more. And He blessed me with more. So, it warms my heart and soul to share that one distinct difference with my new house vs. my old one is that we are able to build the garage with exactly this vision in mind. It’s huge—and much of it is for ministry. On top of that, we have a huge field for the kids (mine and others from our neighborhood) to play sports in. We have trails in the woods perfect for riding dune buggies in. In the garage I expect we’ll be doing wood projects, fixing cars and having simple gatherings for prayer and worship. Anyway, it was all done God’s way. Exactly in line with the Vision He put in my heart, while maintaining simplicity and with no debt. It’s not about me, but all about Him. It’s His home and we will use it to further His purposes.

God Will Honor You as You Honor Him.

The Vision He gave me has come all the way around. We are still debt free, and moving forward we are going to be more focused on how much we can give and how much we can be used by Him. I want to teach my kids how to be vessels for Christ. Anyway, I’m super excited about what God has done.  He is AWESOME! It’s my hope that in sharing my story with you, that you’ll be inspired, re-energized and start believing at a higher level that taking the time to craft a clear, compelling Vision for your life really works! Blessings, —Steve
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