The Great Return To A Simple Life Part 1

So let me catch you up!

Kris and I have been married since 2012. We have four beautiful children. Mike is the oldest. Daelynn is our only girl. Trayce is the second to the youngest. And Elijah is our “baby” of the family.

 

Copy-of-Brandy-4-of-8

In 2012 we decided to start a homestead.  Kris and I were both living in Fort Sam Houston Texas while serving active duty in the military. We were both going through the separation process and making plans for our civilian life together.

I thought, “It is a huge responsibility and lots of work……but we want to teach our children the importance of handwork and family.” After both having the craziest life circumstances in a short amount of time, laden with tragedies and high levels of stress we decided to make our life simple and get back to the basics! Kris had just returned from combat deployment and I had just lost my husband, parents and grandmother, all very tragically. I realized that we are so busy with junk in our life that we miss the little pleasures in life. After returning from funerals I started getting aggravated by how much my own family didn’t interact with each other. The kids would fight over which shows they wanted to watch….who gets to play the playstation….who got more cheerios.

I was depressed and we both were trying to deal with our past and our present. I realized that I would come home from work, eat dinner and go straight to the couch to watch tv only getting up to go to bed. Each kid had their own devices and tvs. They had major amounts of toys that they never even played with.

I got so frustrated thinking “This isn’t how to live a life!” I’ve been shown how precious life really is, and how precious our families really are. Once I met Kris we both agreed that we needed a huge change in our life. I had gained over 60 lbs, Kris gained some too, and the kids were lazy couch potatoes. I grew up in the country, always being outside doing something! As much as I ran away into big cities as adult, I realized I had to return to the country! Go back to my roots and make some very big lifestyle changes.

The second step was moving back to my home state of Georgia on large enough land to start becoming self-sufficient with livestock and cultivation. We moved to a small little town named Euharlee. We started out by turning off the cable. (Whew was that hard!) Instead of laying on the couch zoning out we were busy doing the things we should be doing instead…..housework, working in the garden, helping the kids study and spending some much needed time together! Here’s a journal entry I found from that time:

“This lifestyle change has been so good for all of us. I can’t keep the kids inside now. They are always going out to play! Our energy has increased as well as our overall happiness!… we slowly put in place new ways of homesteading and living in an eco-friendly way that also makes us self-sufficient on our own land.”

Many things, and most of them unintentional (“The pathway to Hell is laden with good intentions” that’s what they tell me anyway) have gotten us to where we are now. From sickness, to moving, to job changes, to financial hardships…we are now smack-dab in the middle of suburbia in Florida.

We have decided to go for it again. Return back to the simple things in life. Back to relationships and actually communicating by more than a “Like” or a “Share”. Back to Homeschooling and teaching our kids valuable life lessons. Back to sitting with the Lord in the cool of the day, walking through his splendor and beauty revealed in the garden and cooking delicious and healthy foods straight from that land. It’s been a wild journey so far but we feel the whisper of old dirt roads calling to us, beckoning us once again.

After Kris and I got out of the military (2012), within six months I got very sick and had to have brain surgery. Our plans and dreams at the time of having a homestead fell apart after living in Georgia for only two and a half years.We ended up having to move and decided to relocate to Florida to be closer with Kris’s mom. We have lived in Florida since 2014, surrounded by the concrete jungle in the dead center of suburbia. My health struggles have only gotten worse since then, eventually being diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders and fibromyalgia. Managing all of that was definitely a major change in our lives. So we decided to send the boys back to public school. At that point it seemed that all of our hard work, all of our dreams were being ripped from us. I held on to the knowledge that God had a bigger plan for our lives that we just couldn’t see.

Over the past 7 year…

Even though we have continued to grow a garden, keep chickens, learned more about natural medicine and going green as well as canning and preserving our harvests from the garden. It has remained a passion of mine to do things as close to natural and homemade as possible, even replacing store-bought laundry soap and body care products to ones made from scratch with natural products and ingredients. (I say all that to say that even if you are in suburbia you can still live a homestead life! Just get started right where you are!) I have found these activities to be a sort of therapy for me. It keeps me active and gives me purpose. Dealing with chronic illness can really get you down. I have enjoyed the times in my garden and kitchen watching the plants grow, marveling in God’s creation, and feeding my family nutritious God-given food!

Over the past year…

… we have slowly began coming into a new normal for us, especially with my health. Learning how to not be “super-mom”, learning how to say no, and how to pace myself has been a huge event. It’s not easy because my personality is so “GO! GO! GO!”, but the Lord has really helped me learn how to give “The Best Yes” and to stop being a “yes man”. My daily life is much slower than it was before. Waking up in the mornings is usually a two-hour process instead of the up-and-dressed-in-five-minutes lifestyle I was so used to when I got out of the military. Instead of trying to get the kids to every event possible in the homeschooling world we are much more selective of what we choose to get involved in and weigh the costs of obligations against the reality of our life.

“So,” you may be asking, “what is going on now?”

Well, over the past few months Kris and I have found ourselves once again pulled into the rat-race of American Life. Ughhh! How does it sneak in so seamlessly?? Drowning in bills and debt, multiple car loans, a mortgage in a city we hate, and endless work just to live, we have finally had enough! Poor Kris works so much to pay for all this STUFF that by the weekend he’s so exhausted that he can’t even enjoy time with us. The kids are back to being lazy couch potatoes, mostly because in the concrete jungle it isn’t safe for them to run around and explore. 😦

When I first got sick with what we later found out was fibromyalgia (2016), I was on a work trial through Social Security. Since it had been a three years since had the shunt put in my brain surgically (2012) and shortly after was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases (2013)  I had been quite well. I decided to try to get off of Social Security disability. I was hired as a Children’s Pastor for our local church (I had previously served as such in another church in Georgia). The work program was supposed to last for ten months in order to see if you can physically deal with the stresses and responsibility of a normal job. I was ALL-IN!

Sadly, before I completed the program I got sicker and sicker, until I had to step down from the position. After being hospitalized several times, I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This was a very difficult time in all of our lives. Kris was single-handedly taking care of everything at home with the kids, their home school, dinner, grocery shopping, laundry and all of this while trying to go to work everyday. Soon after this is when we decided to put the kids back into Public School.

At the time I was unable to even get to the bathroom without help of a walker, wheelchair, or someone physically helping me to get there. Within this time we bought our house instead of travelling like we had planned to do so that I could stay close to my doctors and the hospital.

So, as you can see, our life changed drastically in a very short time span. It was a very difficult trial to walk through, and honestly I don’t think I would have made it…. BUT GOD!

Fast forward a couple of years and I was improving, or at least getting to understand my body, my illnesses and how to venture through life in a more intentional way. My day had to have more structure and planning. Understanding that I feel worse in the evening, and therefore realizing that I can’t make big plans for anything around or after dinner time was a huge realization that took a lot of adjusting to get used to!

I don’t want to paint a false picture for you. Everything IS NOT all rainbows and roses even now. During that time a lot happened to us financially that is greatly tilting our plan into the direction it is going (More on that in just a minute). Social Security completely dropped me. Kris lost a few accounts from his technology business, as well as missed lots of work while taking care of me. We got further and further in debt as bills piled up and debts couldn’t be paid. Our financial disaster wasn’t from mismanagement or irresponsible spending: we lost over $3000 every month from our income but still had the same bills!!

 

Which is how we got here.

But we have a plan!

Click here to see our plan so far.

 

6 thoughts on “The Great Return To A Simple Life Part 1

  1. I look forward to each new post. I have always been interested in “the simple life” and I love reading about what that looks like for you and your family: Thank you for sharing.

    Like

    • Jacki, thank you so much for your comment! Let me know what kind of posts you would like to see and we’ll make sure to get that put out for ya!

      Like

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