When to Take the Homesteading Plunge

When I look back at my life, I giggle. In all of my dreams and aspirations, never once did I think, “My goals in life are to work at home with my family, preserve all my food, and grow and sell berries.”

Who am I? How could this happen?

The long story is incredibly complicated, but the short story is incredibly simple: GOD.

All my life, God has prepared me for the mission ahead of me. From a young age, I begged my parents to grow a garden. I remember once my dad helped me plant a strawberry patch, but not long after my mom mowed over it.

That was the end of my gardening adventures at home.

Luckily, my high school jobs directly prepared me for what I aspire to do today. I spent my first couple of working summers cleaning out the bird barns on my dad’s hunting preserve. Later I began conducting agricultural research projects for my soil-scientist uncle. I was in charge of the horticultural studies, growing vegetables in 100 foot rows, much like I do today. While I knew I enjoyed this line of work, I didn’t realize that I would one day try to open my own specialty crop business.

My college years led me to a large city a couple of hours away. I began as a business major. All I really knew is that I wanted to work in a business and make lots of money (ha!) While I did fine in my business classes, I really didn’t know where it was all going to lead.

After a couple of years away from my small-town life, and I realized that a small-town was where I needed to be. A degree in business really didn’t make sense in the small-town world. I found myself enjoying coaching and teaching younger players on my athletic team, and decided that I had the heart of a teacher. So, off I went to change my major from business to teaching.

I loved every minute of my education classes, and just knew that teaching was something I would enjoy for the rest of my life. I never thought I would need all of my experiences taking care of birds, growing and researching vegetables, and learning the in’s and out’s of running a business, but it looks like God has a different plan.

Eventually, I married Berry Man, had a few kids, and had my dream job in my hometown. Life appeared great on the outside…even I thought everything was great. But as time went on, I began to realize that my priorities were way out of order. My job became an idol in my life.

You see, I am quite a perfectionist and thrive on being the very best at everything I do. In order to keep my job during our school’s economic crisis, I decided that it was imperative that I prove that I was the very best teacher in our district in order to keep my job.

This turned into endless hours for researching current best practices, creating differentiated units to meet the needs of each individual students, documenting behaviors and interventions, and when I actually had time…teaching a room full of cherubs.

School came before everything…before God, before my family, before myself. 

During that time in my life, I pretty much was just running on fumes all the time, because in addition to all of this, I also ran our developing berry business in my “spare time.” It wasn’t until Berry Man started working here full-time that I was able to actually slow down enough to realize the work that God was doing in my life.

Working in the berry patch in the summer has been my saving grace. Picking berries alone in the field is my time to connect with God. It seems as though when I am out there, everything is right in my world.  I can see God all around me, and reflect on life and see His guidance through it all.

With Berry Man taking over many of the day-to-day chores around the homestead, I was able to spend more time reading God’s word and listening to his guidance in prayer. The more time I spent with Him, the more I realized how off-track my life had become.

The more I put God first, the more I can see His path unfolding before me, like a deer trail in the woods. I can see the path, but there are so many branches and thorns in the way that it is difficult to travel, and I am not completely sure the best way to reach my destination.

Patience is not my strong suit, but I know I need to to look for and wait for God’s perfect timing. I can see God’s plan weaving through my experiences, and while I am anxious to be able to homestead and work from home full-time, I know I cannot do these things in my own power.

Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

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What Can We Possibly Give to Jesus?

What can we possibly give to Jesus picture (2)

The events the past couple years have really helped my whole family grow closer to Jesus. As we look around at all of our blessings, direct answers to prayer, and daily guidance in our decisions, we realize how we it all to Him.

We have always explained to the kids that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday and tried to work against the societal norm truly focus on the “reason for the season” rather than Santa Claus and presents, but about a year ago the kids suggested taking it a step further.

We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and tried to think of a present to give to Him.

What can we possibly give to Jesus? My husband and I have faithfully modeled good Bible-reading habits as we have grown stronger in our faith, but had not really shared that joy with the kids.

It was time for that to change.

The kids were so excited about the new change to their bedtime routine. Every night we discuss our favorite and least-favorite parts of our day. Then we read a section of the Bible. Usually it is not a whole chapter, but one heading of a chapter at the very least.

At first we started in the Old Testament. I made bookmarks with a reading plan that outlined what we were going to read each evening and we went down the list and looked forward to the next evening’s reading.

We had been watching the History Channel series “The Bible” as a family over Christmas break. This seemed to give the kids a general background knowledge of what was happening, and whenever we read a story that was visualized in the series, the kids would make connections as we discussed the reading.

Listening to them discuss the Bible with each other has been absolutely amazing! Just another blessing to add to the list.

Anything that involved Jesus totally engulfed their attention, so as we progressed, we decided to put away the daily reading bookmarks and focus our studies on the New Testament.

Did we finish the entire Bible in a year? No, but what we gained was so much more.

  • We are redirecting a small amount of time during our day for quality time with each other and with our Lord and Savior.
  • We are remaining in God so He can remain in us like John 15:4 guides us to do.
  • We are creating a lifelong love for God’s word by making connections to things in our everyday lives, from guidance on how to choose friends to praying for bullies.
  • We construct a family basis of knowledge of how to live in a way pleasing to God. This really helps rationalize disciplinary procedures for all of us.

The Bible truly is the living word of God. It answers all of life’s tough questions. 

I thought it would be hard to think of something to give to Jesus. His grace is beyond compare, but He wants our time to draw us nearer to Him.

Time…a gift beyond compare.

Do you read the Bible with your kids? What are your routines? How has it changed your family? Share your comments below.

 

 

A Year of Changes

This year has been a year of changes. As I reflect upon the year, I started counting the things we have changed as a family, and it seems as though there are more than I can count.

I have always made resolutions at the beginning of the new year, and I have noticed small improvements for at least a portion of the year…but this year was different.

Change Quote Picture

Let me start with a list of the things we changed. I will give details to each of these changes in upcoming posts. Stay tuned.

  1. For Christmas last year, we chose to give Jesus our time on a daily basis.
  2. My husband now works for our business full-time.
  3. We cleared an acre of pine trees and woods to increase our crop space.
  4. We sold most of our berries from our home, rather than packing up the truck for market.
  5. We hired our first non-family employees.
  6. We planted most of our strawberries in the spring, before harvest.
  7. We started a new building to expand our business.
  8. We more than doubled our chicken flock and began selling eggs.
  9. We are now amateur beekeepers.
  10. We dramatically reduced our use of conventional medicine boosting our natural systems with healthy foods and essential oils.
  11. We tried to eat non-processed food as much as possible.
  12. I started making homemade breakfast cereal regularly.
  13. I started making a made-from-scratch treat of the week.
  14. We tried an elimination diet again for a few weeks to recheck allergies.
  15. We focused on using traditional cookware (No Plastic!).
  16. We became coffee snobs. We LOVE our new french press!
  17. Three words: Apple…Cider…Vinegar!
  18. We started making and using natural deodorant, lotion, and lip balm.
  19. We quit using all hair products including shampoo, conditioner, mousse, gel, and hairspray.
  20. We got a new dog.
  21. The whole family took a vacation day to deer hunt on opening day.

Why did these changes stick this time?

I believe it was because of change #1: Giving Jesus our time daily. When we put Christ first, He helps us achieve goals that we cannot achieve in our own power.

You may have also noticed that these were WE changes instead of ME changes. Have you ever thought about improving your family, rather than just focusing on yourself? We are on the same page in this journey, and I think our family unit has strengthened throughout the process.

Most of the changes we have made are deemed “strange” and “unnecessary” in our current society. Why make natural deodorant when you can just buy it for cheap? Why grow and make your meals from scratch when you can get it at the store? You used a vacation day for deer hunting?!?

Our world has changed as we have changed our thinking. Our change in thinking has helped our family more forward in our quest for self-sufficient, healthy living.

Have you ever made family resolutions? Share your experience below.

 

 

 

The Best Gift Money Cannot Buy

gift smallWhy would you want to do that? I hear it over and over again as I talk to people. Why would I want to grow my own food, run my own business, make my own medicine, raise my family in such a way that is….well…weird? The answer is easy…Time.

God has shown me gifts the earth He created can provide. I have tasted the wonders of home-grown food, and have suffered the digestive consequences of the processed foreign materials purchased in our grocery stores. I have experienced the love of family, in which time, and not money matters. What can I say, I enjoy my homesteading lifestyle.

Everyone has a story. For me it has been a journey…a journey to help my family be self-sufficient…a journey to put God and my family first…a journey to leave a legacy and a business for my children, so they will always be taken care of.

There is just something about putting a plant in the earth, watching in grow, taking care of it, harvesting it, and eating it that is just so breathtaking. I did that! God did that! My family did that! And we did it working together, growing together, and spending time with each other. Time. Something you cannot buy at a store, and better than anything money buy. Give it a try.