Finally!

Hello dear friend!

I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to announce that we have fixed our internet connection problem and will be back this week to bring you up to speed on where we are and what we’ve been up to!

I have so much to share and I’m just itching’ to get back!!

Talk to you later this week ❤️

Much Love,

Brandy

Simple Devotion: Bringing Our Family Back To The Basics

Tonight we decided to watch a movie together, as a family. We had such a great time snuggled up under blankets with some popcorn, everyone glued to every moment on the screen. That wouldn’t be such a big deal but the fact that we haven’t had any electronic interaction all week (except to post on social media our updates)…No scrolling, no channel changing, no flicking, and I can count on one hand the calls and texts that we have responded to. This week has been void of nearly all electronic devices! Whew! It’s been a struggle, I won’t lie, but we’ve seen great changes take place over the last six days.

Every day since we got here at least one child has had an electronic breakdown of sorts. Nothing too alarming, mostly just complaining. The first three days were the worst, but as the week has progressed we’ve seen a notable difference in all of us!

Everyone has commented how well they are sleeping lately. Kris and I both have been able to fall asleep faster and at a decent time. Most of the aggression and arguments between the kids have stopped; it seems like they get along much better without the internet. (I’m sure they wouldn’t admit that though).

Monday we spent most of the day exploring the property, hanging up No Trespassing signs, and fishing, so we all were pretty busy and distracted from any tugging from the grid. Tuesday and Wednesday we went to town to get supplies and groceries. We got our official change of address completed and our new library cards (you nerds out there will totally understand how high up that ranks on the list of priorities) and we wanted to do a little sightseeing….

As long as we were busy everyone was content, but as soon as an empty moment happened we were reminded of the urge to be entertained.

The evenings were full of “we’re bored” and “there’s nothing to do”, but by Thursday we started a new trend; The kids went tromping through trails, they played board games and a really great round of “Go Fish”. Tonight (Friday) we had to interrupt a hot game of tag, as the kids chased each other through the fireflies, just to get them to clean up for dinner. And all of this on their own whim.

It’s weird to think that the kids these days have no idea how to have fun. They don’t know how to entertain themselves.

We didn’t do this overnight, of course. We have spent months preparing for this upheaval. Once we decided to make some drastic changes to our lives (more here about specifics) we knew that intentionally changing how our family consumes entertainment and technology was one of the biggest changes we wanted to make. For us personally, we wanted to stop spending so much time in the internet world and focus more on the here and now, more on what is truly important to us, each other.

We can easily recognize the yearning of others’ children for their parents attention. Have you ever seen that before? You’re sitting in a restaurant, the kid is being crazy wild, and the parent is zoned out on the phone. I know I’ve seen it.

It’s so easy to judge that parent harshly in the moment … but it’s an entire different thing when we start looking for it in ourselves.

Kris and I realized how far away we’ve gotten from how it used to be. When we lived in north Georgia we spent a lot of our time outside, with the kids, and having a great time together. I’m not sure when it all began, but around the time I started having symptoms in 2016 it was a slow fade. It became easier to give the kids technology or television than to deal with them when I already wasn’t feeling well.

Last fall we woke up from the trance that had dazed us all when we caught little Elijah “twerking” in the living room. It’s not everyday you see your six year dirty dancing, but I can say this; It’s not something I ever want to see again. That night we all sat down and discussed how to get this bus back on track.

Today I can finally taste the beginning fruits of all that labor!

The First Week In Virginia

Well guys, we finally made it! The rv got moved, and the younger kids and I made the two day trip to Virginia!

It has been a whirlwind of emotions over the past two weeks, to say the least! Packing and leaving Florida was not only physically draining, but was also emotionally rough as well! We said our goodbyes to our family and friends, loading everything up and began the first leg of the trip, which was from central Florida to Cartersville, Georgia (which is in the Northwestern part of the state).

Our “adopted” family (longtime close family friends) The Langford’s (Bill and Renee) hosted us, as well as “Nana” (Renee’s mom).

We stayed the night there to recharge and reboot for the second half of the trip.

BUT… we couldn’t leave on Sunday before having some of Bill’s famous BBQ at his new restaurant “Fire It Up BBQ and Grill” in Cartersville. If you ever find yourself in this area of the state, you have to visit Bill’s new family-friendly, down-home, southern-cafeteria-style restaurant. It is absolutely the best BBQ in the state! Not to even mention the mouth-watering peach cobbler or the heavenly macaroni and cheese!

I was so happy that my little brother,Mike, was able to drive over to visit with us. The kids and I were so happy to see him!

After lunch and fellowship we began the last half of our trek to Virginia. This second leg was much more exciting than the first since we’ve made the trip through my home state of Georgia many times, but we’ve only visited Virginia once (about five years ago).

Our excitement grew and grew as the roads began to twist and turn and we went higher and higher in elevation.

We finally arrived late in the evening, just as the sun was going down over the horizon. Since the rv was delivered the night before our arrival, Kris and Mike had already set up and unpacked it for us! We don’t have a vehicle able to pull our travel trailer just yet, but our sweet friends at Sonshine RV Rentals (in Deland FL) offered to haul it from central Florida all the way to its new home in Virginia. Speaking of home, it is such a great feeling to move to a whole new state, open the door, and already be “home”. It makes moving such a breeze! As many times as I’ve moved I really wish I would’ve gotten hip to RV life much sooner! It really cuts down on the hassle and stress of relocating multiple times.

This week has been so enjoyable! The first full day of our arrival we visited our property, which will be the land we are clearing and preparing over the next few months.

This place is pure heaven on earth! It is so beautiful and robust with life. The peace felt here is indescribable. And my imagination runs wild and free with everything it could be.

Over the last half of this week we explored one of the nearby town, Farmville. It is so cute and country!

The people are very friendly and polite, a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle city-flow of central Florida. We have enjoyed long slow drives through the rolling hills and beautiful scenery of country homes and farms in place of stop lights and honking traffic. I feel like I can finally breathe again!

Sitting on the front porch, listening to the birds and frogs chirping and croaking, I realized how much I have truly missed this slow life. I spent most of my teen and young adult life running as far from the country life as possible, but I’ve had such a deep desire the past few years to return here and take it slow! In some sort of sixth sense, or Devine revelation, I have felt the call back to the earth- to get close with nature again, and to SLOW DOWN! I honestly feel like there is something healing in this place that my intelligence can’t explain, but I can feel that truth deep inside myself.

On the other hand, there has been one bump in the road: we don’t have any cellular reception. Of course, this has many positive repercussions that we have enjoyed, but when it comes to this blog and our YouTube channel, we are struggling to figure out a work around. Please give us some grace in this area as we come up with a working plan to remain consistent.

Today, we are driving to the nearest town library to use the WiFi to download our photos and videos and uploading some content. God willing, you will be reading this post sometime Thursday evening! – And even more hopefully, we will have our newest video uploaded to YouTube by Sunday.

We are so excited to share this new journey with you! I hope that you will come along with us as we navigate this new life! (to read more about what we are doing, please click here)

Much Love,

Brandy

Transition Update for May and June

Hello sweet friends!
This week has been a long one, with lots of ups and downs, for both the guys in Virginia as well as here in Florida with me and the kids. 
We received an offer (a very low offer) from an investor on our house that is for sale. We decided not to take the offer.

God is so GOOD!

At the very last minute (seriously, the day we took the house off the market and realized we were going to lose it through foreclosure) we received an offer to rent instead of sell.

The amazing part is that the renters were looking for temporary accommodations because of construction happening at their own house, so the insurance paid 3 months UPFRONT including deposits! So we are able to pay the past due balance on the mortgage as well as fund our travel to Virginia and get set up there.

This past week in Virginia…

Kris (my husband ) and Mike (my oldest son) have started placing some important pieces on the puzzle of the property. 

1. They have continued to clean up the cabin and the land and prepare for us to come. They have widened and cut paths, clearing out tall grass and cutting back the encroachment of the forest.
2. They built a small bridge over a very mucky area that was in the path down to the cabin. They dug out a small bed to let the water flow under the bridge. This is just a small step in making the area safer.
3. A contractor came to look at the layout of the land to help Kris understand what is possible for laying a pad for the rv to park. This guy, Mike, was very helpful! He let us know how we can lower the cost by doing some of the work ourselves and what would be necessary for Kris to do before Mike can start the work.
4. They got all the lanterns working properly so they can have light once the sun goes down. This is a huge morale booster for them!
5. They got a temporary shower installed so they can stop bathing in the pond, which they are very grateful for.
6. They have begun planning on where to set up a proper bathroom system and getting the list of supplies necessary to build it this coming week.
7. They scheduled a well company to come out this coming week to search the property for well placement and to test the ground. This is a HUGE step in preparing for us to join them!

Here in Florida

We have continued our life as normal.

1. We went on a field trip to the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences and had a great week at homeschool 
2. We had fun at the park getting out some energy and getting our Physical Education Outing for the week 
3. Trayce and Daelynn visited with their friends to prepare to say goodbye 
4. Elijah spent the night with Gran E., Kris’ mom. They went out to eat and enjoyed the pool!
5. We all went swimming and enjoyed the company of our dear hosts (where we are parked currently)
6. Trayce and Daelynn volunteered with a local theater. They helped run concessions, took tickets and helped with seating, and helped in cleanup afterwards.
7. I started working on sewing a new dress from some extra fabric. The neckline didn’t come out correctly and I have to rework that today
8. Elijah officially learned to swim, culminating in 2 swimming trips without his floaty. He is so overjoyed about this and we are very proud of him!

And last, but not least…

we just uploaded a new VLOG on YouTube! Make sure to check it out! (Link below) I give a  short tour of our travel trailer, discussing how to think differently about organization in a tiny space. And Trayce gives a mini-tutorial on making a sourdough starter. (If you want specific directions on the starter just pop me an email or message and I can get more info for ya). 

I am working to finish my blog post for the week. In continuing my “Simple Devotion Series” I discuss how I simplified parenting. Keep you eyes peeled for that. Hopefully it will be finished this weekend!
We pray that  you have an amazing week this coming week and that you will be blessed!
Much Love,
Kris and Brandy
Here’s a link to the VLOG
You can also access it easily from our website. 

Simple Devotion: How I simplified my faith

I can’t go in depth about my philosophy on living simple, or our choice as a family to transform our life into one of intention, without sharing some of my convictions in faith.

‘Some thing’s dramatic end is another some thing’s dramatic beginning’

In our case, everything was falling apart. Every single aspect of our lives was tossed in the air all at once. Some were completely destroyed while others just needed some rearranging and repair. My health, our income sources, our bills and assets, homeschooling…everything turned upside down.

We were so overwhelmed by everything! But isn’t that where the Lord Jesus gets us to anyway?- the absolute end of yourself!?

I laid in my bed for four months, bedridden for most of the time, in intense pain. I got to a point I had trouble even picking up my phone that all I could do was cry. So I started listening to the Book of Psalms audio through YouVersion.

Over and over, for weeks I heard David and other writers lament, worship, rejoice, repent, cry out for justice, and give glory to God. It was so simple, so pure. It started a flickering inside of something ready to catch fire at any time.

The end of myself was the beginning of Him

Transforming our life wasn’t as simple as binge watching the KonMari method or mass-pinning minimalistic motivational posters on Pinterest. In fact, we’ve talked about this life for many years. The dreams of homesteading, herb gardens at my fingertips, crocheting all my own washcloths and dish towels, getting debt free, and living a simple life… these dreams didn’t come over night. It’s been a slow creeping vine, entangling us and weaving into the very fiber of who we are.

It may have always been on our minds…But it took a mighty big shove to get going!

I guess, in a very deep sense, it first came to us from reading the Word of God. Through that time of great affliction, I had a chance to really hear the Word. Reading what it says, and believing what it says, is quite a completely different thing than actually living and loving what it says.

Family Devotion Time

Having a family devotion time on a regular basis has been transformative in our lives.

We’ve done it a bunch of different ways: Reading the cute little kid Bible stories in it. You know, filled with absolutely adorable cartoon character art work and explained in an easy-to-understand, age appropriate language. I actually love those little books. We’ve done so many of the popular Bible studies available at any Christian book store.

But after hearing the Bible for months in my bed, I had heard some things I’d never heard before. I shared a lot of those things with Kris and we began discussing these things with the kids . You see, a few years before this point we had started a journey to find out the truth about church. What was the first church like? How does God want church to be? What was it meant to be according to the Bible? So now we started intensively digging to find the truth.

We decided to do our devotion time differently. Instead of using Bible studies or apps, or other products that were just man’s opinion… we decided to use the Word.

We took everything we knew about church and what being a disciple is and threw it all out the window. Instead of the pick-a-verse style devotionals that are so popular, we would either read entire books or letters, or look at all the scriptures on one subject with everyone, even Elijah. We would take turns reading each night together. This wasn’t a five minute check-the-box Bible study.

It changed our life!

Just simple. Easy. No special formula. Just read it, discuss what it means and how you can apply it to your own life with your whole family unit.

There is something different about reading the New Testament in such a simple way. Read it as it was meant to be read. The first four books are first hand accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Everything about our faith, from the New Covenant with Christ, is covered in those first four books. The greatest sermons ever preached are there. The outlines for how we should live our lives are there. Then take what Jesus taught and use that to filter everything else after. So just read it together and choose to DO it!

Whatever Jesus says or does, simply choose to live it!

Then we moved on to the letters to the churches. Read these whole, as one thought, just as they were meant to be read. They are letters written to the new church and explain the basic tenets of faith and how the church is supposed to be. Isn’t that you and I? Aren’t we the church? Don’t we want to know how it’s supposed to be? So read it like that-a letter written to answer your questions. You wouldn’t get a letter from someone important and just pick out one sentence to read and study. You would read the whole thing at once! You might even read it more than once if it was really important!

I must warn you now, that if you do this you will never be the same. It’s devotion so simple, but it will change everything.

We didn’t necessarily go in order, we started with some of the smaller letters at first. Reading them, listening to them over and over and then discussing them. Believe me, there’s a whole lot to discuss as you realize that there’s no possible way that your lives can stay the same after truly understanding what it’s supposed to be.

This is what began our great adventure. So to understand how we got here, you’d have to read what we read. You’d have to decide to begin with simplicity: just read the Bible as it was meant to be read, not cherrypicked verses with 5 minute self-help devotions. Whole letters, whole topics.

When someone asks how we got here, it’s not easy to explain. It was a journey. This is how the journey began. Are you ready to dig in deep? Are you ready to dare to radically be the church, no matter what that looks like?

Until next time!

Much Love,

Brandy