Tuesday, September 8, 2015

If we can fit 6 people and a dog into 550 square feet, why not add another?

Yes, that's right.  The title isn't a gimmick to say "made you look".  We really are going to be adding to our family in the spring.

We are expecting a baby!  Yay!!  Woohoo!!  April 14th!!

Let me first address some common questions, comments, and jaw dropping thoughts some of you might be having...

Yes, we know we already have 4 kids
Yes, we DO know how this happens (quite frankly, that's a bold question to ask and you might get an earful if you ask me on the wrong day.  Ha!)
Yes, we are thrilled!!
Yes, we definitely know that we are running out of room in 550 square feet
No, we aren't trying to form our own sports team (we aren't even sports-y people)
No, we aren't trying to have a bunch of farm hands
No, I'm not addicted to new baby smell (although nestle time with a newborn is heavenly)

We know that children come from the Lord.  He creates them.  He knits them together.  We have been overjoyed 4 times already now with the miracles He has given us to care for.  We have been heartbroken, yet comforted, when His knitting and timing aren't understood.  We have faced both "surprise" babies and those desired beforehand.  I do not pretend to know the ways of He that is higher than I.

I do not believe that it is the purpose of all Christian families to constantly have children.  I think we must be very cautious to draw a black and white conclusion from Scripture that simply isn't there.  The Bible says that we are to be fruitful and multiply (this is addressing married couples yet, we know that the Lord creates many lives outside of those perfect, intended boundaries He created).  The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 that children are a heritage from the Lord.  It says in Psalm 127:5 that blessed is the man whose quiver is full.  The Bible also addresses the cries of barren wombs...there isn't a blanket promise in Scripture that, once married, you shall have 1 boy and 1 girl and then your life is Disneyworld perfect.  Neither is there a promise in Scripture that if you have 15 children you have somehow attained holiness.

Scripture does not say that there should be a college fund available for each child you have or you're being irresponsible.  It also does not say that we should be lazy and not provide for our families (I Timothy 5:8).  Our differences of opinions come when we do not know what that provision should look like.  Well, here's the thing...what matters is our hearts.  Our hearts are always what matters.  My heart is certainly, as the song Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing says, ever wandering and I'm thankful for the patience and persistence of my Jesus.  God wants our hearts to be after Him...not perfect, not worthy...just after Him.  He promises to be found when He is sought.  So, I seek...

I seek Him when I'm confused, frustrated, discouraged, feeling indifferent, angry, devastated, and everything in between.  At least, I hope I do.  I often forget to seek Him first but He always gently reminds me that He wants me to seek Him.  I seek Him for wisdom, encouragement, and direction.  I certainly seek Him as a parent.  This parenting thing is crazy hard  (my 4 year old just thanked me for taking care of her...gotta love the Lord's reminders through His children). I don't have a clue what I'm doing most days and I have moments where I grow weary doing good, thinking my efforts don't make a difference.  But then the Lord reminds me that I am just to be an obedient vessel.  How my children wrestle out their faith is between themselves and God.  I am the initial trainer, teacher and one who points them towards Him.  I am the example, which is scary considering how often I'm the example of what not to do!

I am honored, scared, and humbled that the Lord has chosen Bruce and I to be examples to even another child.  I question whether He really knows what He is doing when He keeps trusting me but, you know what?  He doesn't put His trust in me ever.  He has a master plan that will come to fruition whether I'm obedient or not.  He trusts in His own strength and ability to bring beauty from ashes whether those ashes come from me failing as a mother or from the pain and destruction all throughout this creation that groans for its Creator to return and make it whole.

So, as we prepare to welcome another life into this crazy world, rejoice with us!  At the end of the day we are talking about a life that God has created and given purpose to.  Whether you have children in your home to love and train or you have spiritual children of all ages learning from you, remember to be after the kingdom of God and to seek Him and His righteousness first. And pray for my little one, even in the womb He is Lord.   Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.  Psalm 51:6

Celebrate with us!  It is the year of Jubilee!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

A trip into the unknown

Much of life is unknown.  There are uncertainties and mysteries each day. 

Some mysteries can be fun surprises!  I have one such fun mystery surprise in my near future.

My husband, in keeping with our celebration theme for the year, has taken something I have longed for and made it happen.

All on his own, he has planned a belated anniversary trip for just the two of us.  Really.  He picked the destination.  He arranged childcare for our 4 kiddos with grandparents.  He planned what we're gonna do while we're at this mystery destination.  He made us dinner reservations (we're not eat-at-places-you-need-reservations-for kinda people) at a place where I am wearing a casual dress (I'm not a wear-a-dress kinda gal) and I had to go ahead and pick out my entree....ooooooo, ahhhhhhh...fancy!  He has told me that I'll pick out lunch on the way, what to have ready for lunches, snacks, and breakfasts but that I will cook no dinners while we're gone.  Okay, so I do love cooking from scratch and cooking for my family but I am a totally excited about dinners being planned and not having a baby spoon hanging off my plate.  :)

ALL I know is that we are borrowing a camper from family, staying at a campground, my kids are taken care of (We thank you, grandparents!), and we're gone for 3 nights.  One of the best things is that this isn't expensive and it was budgeted for thanks to a return from Uncle Sam.  :)

Now, I'm a bit of a crazy, obsessed planner.  I plan well and way ahead (because of all the not so fun mysteries and uncertainties that pop up).   Not knowing details would normally bug me to death.  But, after surviving my 3rd pregnancy not knowing boy or girl until birth, I'm a little more relaxed about the fun surprises.  Plus, this trip is a dream come true.  My man has thought of everything and I'm just along for the ride.

I'm excited about the mystery.  I'm excited about the moment we hit the road and I get to see if we're heading west, north, south, or east (I'm not riding blindfolded...that would be crazy).   But, I won't know where we're going until we get there.  And, then I'm gonna relax at a campfire.

I'm most excited about the time to cherish and celebrate my marriage!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


In general, I'm not a word-for-the-year kinda gal.  I think that has become trendy and I'm all about being non-trendy...hence my jeans-and-tshirt-wearing, tractor-trailer-living, didn't-even-know-chevron-was-a-pattern-until-last-year life!  :)

And, yet, here I am with a word for the year.  A theme.  A promise.

Towards the end of 2014 the Lord was pressing on my heart that He wanted to remind me what it feels like to really, really celebrate.  At first, I pushed the thoughts aside.  How silly...God telling me to celebrate...God telling me that a season of celebration was coming.

2012 and 2013 were filled with times of great sorrow, trials, death, and pain.  There were, of course, many wonderful things too and much to be grateful for but the reality is that much of the time was spent in the valley.  A valley where my sweet Jesus met me and held me and was SO. REAL to me.  So real.  So sweet.  So precious!  I don't necessarily want to run into any valleys any time soon but I wouldn't trade my time with Jesus for anything! 

2014 was spent coming out of the fog, grieving, moving on, trying to find my way and relationship with God on the other side of the valley.  And, yes, it did really take me a whole year to work through some things.  Between having a baby and moving, I was a little preoccupied.  :)

So, celebrate.  Celebration.   Many events, sermons, conversations, prayers, and scriptures have been pointing me in this direction.  God always affirms what He is doing in our lives and hearts.

I don't know what this year will bring.  We are only 2 weeks into January and I've already had days where I've wanted to hang my hat up.  This theme of celebrating doesn't guarantee that everything will be easy peasy or that there won't be heart-breaking moments this year.  It means that this year, my heart will sing.  I will dance.  I will pray.  I will rejoice.  I will experience joy in the little things.  My husband is calling this the year of jubilee for our family. 

I just have to get past the guilt.  I have been struggling with accepting this season of celebration from the Lord.   How can I celebrate??  How can I rejoice when there is someone out there in despair?  There is someone caring for a dying family member.  There is someone heartbroken over miscarriage.  There is someone lost, headed to hell.  There are marriages falling apart.  There are friends hurting. 

How can I get over being so wrecked for the past couple years that I can accept this season of celebration wholeheartedly?  I don't know.  I really don't know.  I don't pretend to understand the Lord's timing but He has told me that He knows what He is doing and this is my season to celebrate.  I. feel. so. guilty. just. typing. this.   I don't want to forget the valley.  I don't want to lose my growth and progress with Jesus.  I don't want my year of jubilee to be for naught. 

I don't want to flippantly run around happy-go-lucky.  I want to celebrate what God has done for me.   I want to experience joy in the many things He has given us here on earth that are just glimpses of what will be One Day.  

I would never have been prepared or appreciated the Lord gently ushering in this season of celebration without the previous season He walked me through.   So, if you are in a different season than that of celebration, please know that I know your valleys are real.  Jesus knows.  He is with you.  He will BE your next breath, your next step, the lifter of your head. 

For now, I am trying to embrace this promise.  I am trying to have the faith of a little child.  There is purpose in the valleys.  There is also purpose in the rejoicing.  In the celebrating.  Inside, I am giddy.  I want to smile so much.  I am looking forward to smiling more, to truly laughing more.  I could literally dance watching the sunrise in the mornings and fall on my knees praising the Creator.  He has created all the seasons.  The cold, dark, wet times and the fragrant, sunny, bright times and all the ones in between. 

The Year of Jubilee it is!!  Restoration, rejuvenation, and celebration.  For His glory and in His timing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The month we survived on $75 Part II

Unless you have read Part I, you might be a little lost.  :)

Week 4 - $7: wow!  Just now, as I was typing and looking at the amount for week 4, I realized the significance of the number 7.   God's perfect number.  The number of completion...and, of course, this test of faith had to end in God's perfect timing.  I love Him so much.

Nobody at my house has gone hungry.  Ever!  I don't know what that would be like.  But, there are many people that do...we don't have food and clothes and shelter because we deserve it or God loves us more.  We have those things simply because we do.  Those that don't aren't loved by God less.  Maybe they know God in more awesome ways than I ever will.  Maybe they will be more open to the Gospel because someone meets their spiritual need through meeting their physical need.  God has wowed me many times by meeting my physical need, only to show me that the spiritual and physical aren't really separate.  He meets both! 

What I bought at the store the 4th week has eluded me.  I know that experimenting with making meals from what was in the pantry was interesting and fun!  We learned that we like hummus and falafel.  Never underestimate the power of a can of chickpeas!  :)   I was exhausted and stretched but obedient...what is crazy hard is what happens next...

As some work began to pour in, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I could pay things instead of floating them.  Income came just in time or we would have had to pay INTEREST on the business credit card...this makes me feel physically ill.  For real.  Bruce told me to make the MINIMUM payment...To me, that is crazy talk that sends me into a fetal position.  After I got over myself, I was prepared to do it but, thankfully, I did not have to.  

So, bills have been paid.  The phone is ringing.  Bruce has work!  (Bruce is, technically, always working on something when he's not hanging with his family and sometimes even while he is hanging with his family but I am referring to paid work)

Yay!  Things are easy now, right??

Well, they are different.  Maybe even better but, for me, not easier.  Let me explain.

As hard as stretching $75 for a month's worth of groceries is, figuring out the post-fending spreeze budget is the hardest for me.

I am sure I was driving Bruce crazy!!  I was asking his opinion on every penny I wanted to spend.  We were out of toilet paper, contact solution, diapers, TONS of food items, and at least one kid needed shoes.  Meanwhile, he needed a new winter coat, I didn't have jeans that fit, and gas stations still wanted money when you filled up your tank.  Not to mention that we were feeling like doing a tiny bit of splurging after being so tight.  And, by splurging I mean eating at a restaurant or getting hair cuts or driving to see friends hundreds of miles away.

Thanks to generosity from my hubby's Mom, I was able to visit my KY peeps!  Thanks to a family member and a sweet friend we were able to travel for my Dad's open heart surgery without worrying about the cost.

But, how to budget everything else was weighing on me.  Here is one of my biggest weaknesses.

I don't know how to prioritize without over-analyzing.  After spending a month stretching $75, how can I drop $150 in one trip to the store?  What gets prioritized and when is crazy hard for me.  I don't know if I should spend or save.  Should I stock up on pantry items when things are at their best prices?  I try to buy items on sale (I don't really use coupons much anymore because most coupons are for processed items that we don't usually purchase) and I buy in bulk a lot so having to buy very small amounts as we have the money is mentally maddening.   Should I spend meager amounts at the store and save the money?  Can I spend on x, y, z or are q, r, and s more important?  Not knowing when the next fending spreeze will be, I just don't know.   Do I buy that school book when it's on sale or wait until we have the money but it's full price??

When the wants or needs exceed the ability to buy them all, what should I do??  What does pleasing God with my spending look like?

I am floundering all over the place, I'm sure.   It really doesn't matter what anyone's income is...it all comes down to what you do with what you have.  Decisions must be made.  Sometimes, very difficult or even heart-wrenching decisions.  We really are all in the same boat.  We all have to decide what to do with what we have.  Contentment and wisdom are what I want to guide my decisions.

I do know that somehow it all works out.  God's math, that is.  It always does.  Somehow we have everything we need and so much more. 

I share all this to hopefully encourage you to remember that our minds are fierce battlefields that Christ can be the Victor in...if We really let Him.  Now that you have had a tiny peak into my crazy head, you can run away or, maybe, stick around and pray with and for me.  We all have burdens, way beyond financial decisions to lift up to the Throne of Grace.  Let us go there together with boldness and confidence.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

Friday, December 12, 2014

The month we survived on $75

We have a varied income.  I cannot stress the word varied enough!!  We have our own business.  We never know what we will make or when.  There is no base income expectation.  No benefits package.  No paid days off.  Let me also stress that we choose this life.  We have chosen to live the way that we do.  We have also chosen to stay out of debt and hope to, one day, be free of our mortgage and have NO debt.  Sometimes, when choosing our lifestyle and choosing no debt collide with an empty bank account, I freak out roll with it.  We have to make decisions about our stewardship.  

Recently, we were faced with an empty bank account.  Now, we have faced this before.   We bust out fending spreezes when necessary.  But this time was different.  We couldn't just stop spending or cut back.  There wasn't anything to spend.  We paid for our important things like the mortgage (for the house we don't live in) and the utilities.  You might think that food is important and, we agree.  But we have also agreed not to spend money we don't have...and I was worried slightly concerned about getting behind if we began to borrow from Peter to pay Paul (although we have floated things in certain ways so that we stay caught up without actually being ahead).

Amazingly, the Lord worked it all out.  The Lord provided what He saw fit and I love His timing!  First of all, we didn't know we had the $75 ahead of time.  We were starting with $0 to spend on food or anything else...  What we were to spend per week was revealed to us on a weekly basis.  Secondly, we had a pretty good amount of food in our pantry and freezer already.  We just had to be creative!  The $75 we survived on was for anything beyond our regular bills (mortgage, phone/internet, utility, and car insurance).  So, the $75 had to cover food, gas, and anything else...

Week 1 - A customer had paid us in cash and we had $20 left.  Bruce found $5 in his wallet...provision for the first week!   $25:  I honestly don't remember what I bought.  Probably some produce and a random item or two.  :)

Week 2 - We found a dish of coins and decided to take it to the bank.  I was surprised and excited!  Turned out to be $34  $34:  Being so excited that I had more than Week 1, I'm sure I splurged

By the end of week 2, I had no idea where the next week's provision was coming from or if there is even going to be anything to spend.  The excitement about the previous 2 weeks provision is beginning to wane and I'm slipping in to a bit of a woe-is-me mentality.  Doesn't God know that I am going to eventually run out of meat, veggies, flour, butter, cheese, baking powder, fruits and have nothing to be creative with?  Doesn't God know that I am being super creative with what we have?  Doesn't God know that I am just trying to feed my family fresh, home-cooked healthy foods?  Doesn't God know that I have a child with holes in their tennis shoes?  Doesn't God know that we're going to run out of shampoo and toilet paper?  How can I pick between shoes and food?  Doesn't God know that I have been stretched enough this time...I mean, we were running out of things like mustard, cheese, chocolate (mine and Bruce's indulgence each evening is a piece or 2 of dark chocolate), baking essentials, etc.

**God can totally handle my honesty and me talking like an Israelite.  He knows what is in my heart and longs for me to come to Him with my whole heart.  It is the only way He can show me what should not be there and help me get rid of anything that doesn't look like Him.  When I am complaining and grumbling, He does listen and gently reminds me that He is the Creator and Sovereign Lord and and it does me good to remember that...

Oh, wait.  Yes.  Yes, God does know.  And, yes, God does care.  And sometimes He prompts a friend to give you a bag of chocolate and straws because the little things do matter!!

And, sometimes He says, "Do you trust me?" to which I reply, "of course I trust you, God!"  And then He says again, "Do you trust me?"   (Well, He must not have heard my first response because isn't it obvious that I trust Him? )  Maybe I do need to be stretched and humbled.  Maybe I have some pride that needs to be removed.  Maybe I have so many issues that only a merciful, loving God could stick with me.  So, He brings up the subject of trust again...

God:  "Do you trust me?"
Me:  humbly and honestly, "yes"
God:  "Am I enough for you?"
Me:  "definitely, but let me tell you what we need..."
*this is where I picture God patiently, lovingly shaking his head*
God:  "Elizabeth, am I enough for you?"
Me:  "Oh, you mean just You and nothing else?"
God:  "Yes"
Me: "hmmmmm...I think so.  Please help me overcome my unbelief"

Week 3 - I was looking for something in the diaper bag in the van and came across $7.  Party time!!  Found $2 more in change in the house.  Party and dance time!  $9:  I was so tickled at what I was able to buy to feed my family, I had to take a picture.  :)
The simple fact that I worked in an avocado for myself made me giddy!

We are now running out of gas and I am not going anywhere!!  My husband's work van needed gas and that went on the business credit card.  Let's face it, if he isn't able to drive to people's houses and businesses, he isn't able to work so, his gas will get paid for later.  We also needed some feed for the animals but that worked out as well.  We sell our eggs and put that cash in an envelope that is used to buy chicken feed when we need it.  That envelope had enough in it to buy the goat feed we needed.  It is important to feed the goats, especially since one is a dairy goat.  Milking the goat every day during this time was a blessing because I didn't have to fit $4 per gallon milk into the ever tightening budget.  I figured the $9 week would be our tightest.  The test was surely over.  Time for God to open up the floodgates and fill our pantry...

By the way, I am usually always wrong when I try to figure God out.   :)

Week 4 - Believe it or not, it was less than Week 3!!  Stay tuned for the conclusion in Part II!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Surviving winter in 550 square feet

Well, we have been in our current abode almost 6 months!!  I can hardly believe it.   What is even harder to believe is how well we have been doing here.  Really!

We are working through the difficulties and we are wholeheartedly enjoying the outdoors.

Our horse, Estra Lina de Alexandria

Hide & seek inside is not very fun.  Laundry, especially when it's cold or raining, is certainly not fun.  When we're inside, we are in constant contact with one another, often literally; but it gives us more opportunity to smooth out our rough edges.  And I don't know about you but I have A LOT of rough edges that need smoothing out.

So, the outdoors have been our playground, sanctuary, and place where I can go whine to God under the stars of solitude when necessary. 

Now that the weather is turning cooler and the days are much, much, much shorter, I am not sure what thriving will look like.   Being dark and cold by dinner time means that we have a few hours inside after dark...in 550 square feet...together...we have almost been, dare I say it?  Bored!  Well, as bored as you can be in 550 square feet with 4 kids.  :)

After dinner, we usually have animals to care for, playing to do, chores to accomplish, golf carts to ride, frisbees to throw, projects to start or complete, etc.   Now, most of that is completed around dinner time because we care for the animals around or by dark.  And, who wants to throw a frisbee or ride the golf cart in the cold, dark night?

So, here we are...trying to figure out what to do in the evenings.  We might have to bring out the board games we dared not play before now because we were occupied, soaking up every moment of sunshine.  We might have to have some Wii bowling competitions.  We might become proficient at staring contests.  Who knows? 

I'm a little concerned about our sanity through the winter but, then again, my sanity is always questionable.  LOL   Hence living in house on wheels to begin with.   So, no matter what this winter holds for us, I know we'll make it.  Besides, maybe there's a world record for staring contests we can aspire to break...

Here are some pictures because I haven't shared any in quite a while!

The few first pictures are really to show off that my new family picture canvas that came in today (photo credits to my fabulous friend and photographer, Mandy Daniel) and the Christmas lights my sweet husband hung for me.  We don't have room for a Christmas tree and I absolutely adore lights so...

 Here is the dog house Bruce built for Sugar.  The cats don't mind snuggling in there.

Here is a picture of the back of the cabin, where the addition to the 18-wheeler is

Oh, yeah, that's a license plate underneath my house!!

If you look at the silver color underneath the tractor trailer, that is the insulation Bruce put around all the plumbing that is exposed under the trailer.  Yay for being able to have running water!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Open Heart

There are moments in life where it seems the world stops turning.  The kind of moments that rock your world completely.  Moments that are scary, joyous, heartbreaking, exciting, confusing, or shocking.  But moments that matter so much that it is hard to believe the world around you is continuing as normal.

A diagnosis

A phone call

A birth

A death

Many such moments have come and gone for myself and family.   How can the concerns of the rest of this world matter when I am wrapped up in love holding my newborn?  When I am wrapped up in exhaustion and grief caring for a dying family member?  When my husband needs emergency surgery?  When my children just need to sit in my lap?  When a friend refers to your relationship in the past tense and cuts ties?  When my husband and I spend our first weekend alone in 10 years?  When the knitting together in my womb stops?  When my Daddy has a stroke?

 I vividly remember where I was, what I was wearing, and what was said the last time I sat on my Pop & Granny's couch in Marietta, GA as Granny patted my leg and told me it was okay that they were moving.  It wasn't for me.  My world was rocked.  I certainly remember the look on my Pop's face and his body language that spoke louder than any words I have ever heard the moment the surgeon told him my Granny's open heart surgery was done and successful.  Relief.  His world had stopped until the news on his wife came. 

My world has been slowing this week as we have been waiting for answers and plans concerning my Daddy.  He is having open heart surgery tomorrow.  TOMORROW.  Open heart.  My world is now stopping.  This is my Daddy.  My Daddy.

Yet, the world will continue turning for most this weekend.  There will be shopping, eating, dancing, football, playing, traveling, working, cleaning and the like going on all this weekend.  But, for some, there will be moments for whom the world stops.  There will be a couple getting married.  There will be tremendous loss.  There will be someone who finds out they are being transferred.  There will be a new mommy wrapped up in love with her newborn. 

I wonder what Mary felt as she birthed and held in her new mommy arms, her Savior? THE Savior.  God with us.  Immanuel.  I imagine her world stopped turning.  The rest of this world continued.  For Mary, the world stopped.  Yet, it was for this very world that the Savior came.  God knew that, in the sleepy little town of Bethlehem, life was continuing as normal for most.  He knew that His entrance would barely be noticed.  Barely. noticed!  And He created the world.  He was willing to humble Himself more than we can ever understand.  The Creator, deserving of all praise and glory, barely noticed.  This world-stopping moment for Mary was God's plan to save His lost world.  Saving for those that hear and answer His call on their hearts.  You see, whether our hearts are beating slowly, quickly, or even kept going by a bypass machine during surgery, they are in His hands.

Whether our world is spinning, completely stopped, or seemingly spinning out of control, He is in control.  It is in these moments that our own little worlds stop that we are afforded the perfect opportunity to experience His presence. 

My Daddy (and sweet Momma, whose world is at a complete standstill) is in God's hands.  The same God who authors the moments of our lives and works to bring us closer to Him so He can receive glory, knows my name.

And when I barely notice Him, He is still faithful.  

While I may experience many more world-stopping moments in my life, I am called by the Creator of this world to care about the others in it.  As He does.  Willing to notice these moments in the lives of others and point them to the One who brings them their joy or comforts them in their sorrow.

The One and Only worthy of glory.

Our hearts are deceitful above all else.  God doesn't just bypass our heart's issues.  He changes our hearts if, and only if, we put our hearts in the capable Surgeon's and Savior's hands.

Oh, Father, may I praise you in the ordinary and in the moments when my world stops turning.  You know my heart and You still love me.  Amazing love!

***Update:  My Dad's surgery went well and he is currently going to cardiac rehab 3 times a week and getting stronger every day.***

Friday, September 5, 2014

Adjusting to 550 square feet

Things on the Hewett Farm are coming along quite well!   We have chicks ready to hatch the first of next week, chickens roaming the yard, 2 friendly kittens, 2 goats (one that I milk each day), 2 dogs, 3 dead snakes (one being a rattle snake that our 3 year old found!!!), 1 injured coyote that hopefully won't come back, and we are currently preparing for another animal...a horse!   There is a horse that needs a good home and we are so thankful that we have been given the opportunity to take this horse into our family.  More on the horse later.   How are we doing living life in 550 square feet???

We are doing well.  Working through the challenges that come in tight quarters together.  We spend a lot of time together!   :)  It is hard to believe we have been moved in for over 3 months now!!   In the time since we have moved, my sweet baby boy has gone from "flat baby" (term my older girls use for young infants) to rolling over, scooting, and eating banana and sweet potato.

Moving things around, organizing, and rearranging are pretty constant activities.  If you put school work on the table, then it has to be moved to eat lunch.  If you put the school work on the couch and then you need the couch to feed a baby on, you have to move the school work somewhere else and then you might need that place...you get the picture.   Cooking, especially baking can get interesting.  But, being creative and super patient is what it's all about.

One thing I know.  The joys and triumphs, sorrows and pain are still felt just as deeply.  The only difference might be feeling as if there is no privacy to open myself up to the Lord or work through loss and pain.  But, I felt the same in over 2,000 square feet when my Grandma and Chuck lived with us during our miscarriage.   Privacy to grieve was no where to be found.  So, really, the space isn't always the issue.  I need to make alone time with God a priority! 

Here's some pictures of how life rolls with us!

Sweet Madelynn holding her baby brother, Marcus.

The man who puts up with me!!  and loves me!!

Some of the chickens that roam our yard.  :)   True free range eggs are the best!

Sugar pup keeping cool under the van

 Bruce and his Dad working together to get goat fence ready (love the 2 of them working together!!)

 My men!!

My purdy family!

Here is our mattress that lives in the living room, dining room, and school room!   The girls like to snuggle up with us or kick us out to take up the whole bed!

Madelynn seems to think having a mattress on the floor every morning is a great way to get some trampoline time in...

 Business calls are often taken outside because it's way too noisy in the cabin!!  :)   If you knew what situations some small business owners were in when they took your call, you would often have a good laugh.

 Reading time on the couch while Marcus plays!  The floor can be a dangerous place for babies when there isn't a lot of floor space to be had.

School on the couch (which really is a wonderful homeschooling perk!)

School at the table!

We hunt 'em, turkey feathers!

You CAN still make a tent in a small space!!!

Okay, so here is a picture of what we have to do to use a DVD to watch a math lesson.   The only place for the t.v. is on the wall and the only place for the DVD player and speakers is above the t.v which is directly under the table.  :)   Yes, we know it's a giant t.v. for such a small space but it's our only t.v. and Bruce and I feel like we are in a theater when watching the 3 or 4 channels that come in with the antenna. LOL  

This is just a fabulous picture of Charlotte snuggling a rooster.  Only this chicken-whisperer girl could catch a rooster and keep him calm in her lap!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Real life in 550 square feet!

Well, we're all moved in!  Not all moved.  There is still much to do at our old house, the main thing being to sell it!!! 

We have been in our new home for a whole month now.   It truly feels like home.  My sweet Charlotte said that she is glad we are here and happy.  She just wants us to live here happy and not build a new house.  Sweet, but I don't know if I really want to sleep, eat, and live in the same room forever! 

550 square feet will teach you a lot and quickly.

I have figured out that some of the things I thought would be the hardest aren't really that bad and that some things are harder than I thought they might be.

I miss some things about having more space like a nice, big countertop available for kneading dough or just spreading out.  But, I have made it work and we certainly aren't going hungry.

I miss having room for friends...this one I can get through if my friends are willing to play outside  or in a barn!   But I do miss it.  A lot!

Um, hide & seek isn't nearly as challenging here...

Laundry (my very least favorite chore) has changed dramatically since our laundry room is in the barn.   Carrying the clothes and things back and forth aren't that big a deal...it's that I usually have 1 or 2 small children I am taking with me and the oldest of the youngest 2 cannot be left alone with the younger, so that presents logistical challenges.  I cannot change out a load of laundry in the middle of other tasks...it has to be an event.  But, one great thing is that mine and my hubby's dressers are in the laundry room so it's pretty easy to put it away (the putting away is my very least favorite part of my least favorite chore).

The biggest changes for us have been less about our square feet and more about our new location...

I am now 30 minutes from good stores and church as opposed to walking distance and 1 or 2 miles.

There is a barn 30 feet from our place.  This, I love.  There is something peaceful and calming about being in the barn.

We haven't had internet at home for a month.  This was frustrating because I do our bills and some business-y things online.  I look for recipes online.  I look up random things online.  I communicate online.  And when your online time is squished into a certain amount of time and you have to remember your laptop checkbooks, bills, passwords, to-do lists, and children and lug all that around to accomplish what is necessary, using the internet becomes a chore rather than a convenience.  I like it much better as a convenience!! 

One of the most important things I have learned here is that I can do many things that I never thought I would be doing. 

I can calmly stand by keeping tabs on the snake in our chicken's nesting box so my hubby can go get something to, um, dispose of said snake.

I can live, eat, school, and sleep all in the same room (and the almost murphy bed isn't as bad as I imagined)

I can drive a truck and trailer around a field so my hubby can pick up hay bails all while a toddler is in the truck with me and the 2 oldest girls are on top of the hay bails!

I can potty train a toddler and nurse an infant at the same time.  Literally.  This I already knew but had tried to forget...

I can (well, almost) milk a goat.  And I can help dig post holes for fencing for said goats.  See, I'm not that confident around animals and my sweet friend Katie is patiently and kindly teaching me!

I can (well, almost) ride a horse.  We have neighbors with horses and they let the girls ride and then I actually tried it myself for the first time in 19 years.

I can see stars here.  I mean, really see stars.

I have found quiet time with the Creator of the beautiful stars more challenging than usual so I'm praying about that.

I have much, much deeper things to share eventually but, for now, they're all jumbled up in an emotionally exhausted heart.  One thing I know about moving into 550 square feet.  It doesn't make anything wonderful or horrible.  Our relationship with Christ and with each other determines our level of joy.  And joy can come in the morning for those in 5,000 square feet, 500 square feet, or no square feet at all.   The Son of Man had no place to lay His head, yet He is the source and giver of joy.  

We found this cute lil' thing while we were moving and decided to keep her!!

The living room, dining room, school room, and master bedroom!!  Our mattress lives behind the bookcases during the day.

Marcus's room

The Girls' room

The Last Supper

Happy Feet

Time for hay

Happy girls!!

OH, yeah!

My man...slinging hay bails and taking names.

He loves the toy tractor
Through the struggles my heart is currently in, my family loves me.  And I love being a part of the family I have...even if the house we live in has a license plate and chickens underneath it.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Moving day has arrived!

We are ready to move!!

550 square feet, here we come!

If, 13 years ago, you would have told me that I would move my family of 6 (plus 2 dogs) into an 18-wheeler I would have definitely thought you crazy.  But, wait, maybe that's me...crazy!!

Right now I am feeling overwhelmed, excited, sad, and anxious, and ready.  As ready as I am, I am still sad to leave a home that we have thoroughly enjoyed living in.  A home we brought 2 of our babies home to.  A home where my 2 oldest babies came to know Christ as their Savior.  A home where my family has grown, in more ways than one.

But enough of the sentimental stuff and time for change.  Many changes.  Many adjustments.  Moving is chaotic, especially when you have 4 kids (one of whom is pretty new!), 2 dogs (one of whom is pretty new!), 27 chickens (9 of whom are pretty new!), and you're majorly downsizing!

Check out our humble abode!   (you can check out the before videos and pics on the links above!)

Check out our laundry room/extra storage

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Jesus doesn't fit in a box but He does fit in a closet!

My heart has been confused and hurting and pondering many things recently.

I have felt incapable of putting much of it into words and I still can't.  Some things are between my heart and the heart of my Savior because He understands when I don't have words.  That's why the only thing I have been able to blog about recently has been us getting ready to move.   Even our move has me in some deep thinking...but that's not why I'm sharing today...
I'm not exactly sure what or why I'm sharing today at all...maybe just to see some of what is in my head and heart in black in white...

I realized recently that I didn't truly grieve the death of my Grandma's husband.  I think because of  not really being able to pinpoint what kind of relationship I had with him and the complete, intense fog I was in during the time of caring for him during his last days.

Another relationship of mine painfully shifted from active to something I don't have a word for and still don't understand.  Jesus is preparing my heart to have peace in this.

There is a family situation that breaks. my. heart.

I am still having trouble helping my children try to make sense of someone rejecting Jesus because I don't understand it either.

I don't want my desire to live simply and debt free to become my idol because even good things can become idols...and I think idols that are "good" are the most dangerous and damaging to our relationship with the Lord.

I am struggling in some areas that, as my childhood report cards would say, need improvement.

I am re-learning how to find alone time with Jesus with an infant and a toddler that no longer naps!

My time with Jesus is precious and necessary and looks different during different seasons of life.  2013 was filled with much loss and pain and stretching and major changes.  I thought that what I needed was for the storms to end...for me to have time for uninterrupted mountain-top-with-God time.  I often longed for time to pray longer and more deeply.  What I didn't realize during survival mode was that I was having intense time with Jesus.  Those moments in the middle of the night, those moments alone during short car trips from one hospital or hospice room to another, those moments where all I could do was ask of the Lord, "why" or "how much more can I take",  the moments spent traveling during times of loss, and the moments of surrendering and trusting were actually more precious than I can describe.

In the aftermath of the stormy year, I began to look around and realized that I was in quite a spiritual funk...I missed the Lord of the storm...I felt so far away from Him.   I had been thinking that I wasn't close to Him during the storms because my spiritual connection didn't look a certain way.  I couldn't truly appreciate how close I was to Him during the difficulties because I apparently had a "time with Jesus" box attitude.  Now, I know God doesn't fit in any box I can conjure up but there I found myself, conjuring away.

I was, oh, so close to Him during the storms because He was, oh, so close to me.  He is faithful to me and my ever wandering heart.

Instead of wishing for a different season with Jesus, I'm going to ask Him for growth and grace for the one I'm in.  I'm going to ask Him to help me recognize His presence whether it is palpable because of the pain I am in or it is sweet because I'm holding my newborn son, and every season in between.

So, while I am sorting through some things in my head and my heart, I pray I notice and feel and praise Him and trust Him more.

I praise Him for His willingness to use me, a broken vessel.

While I don't long for more of life's storms I know now how sweet that time was and I do still find myself missing the palpable presence that kept me breathing.

I felt His presence while hiding in a closet today.   Having a wonky day, my sweet husband took me aside to pray over me.  We tried to hide from the kiddos so we could pray together and ended up in Madelynn's closet and then the 3 girls came in there to play.  We continued with our prayer time in the closet, whispering our prayer while trying not to laugh at the girls playing together not knowing we were in there.  A sweet prayer with a man who wants more with God for himself and for me and our family...in a closet...the Lord is sweet.

This afternoon my almost 3 year old invited me out into the yard with her to enjoy some honeysuckle.   She picked honeysuckle and asked me to sit in the grass with her.  It's very hard to refuse her when she's cute and sweet.  :)   So, I sat.   She talked and brought me honeysuckle to share.  She asked to sit in my lap.  After sitting for a moment she said, "I'm okay now because I have my mommy".   How sweet and precious.  How tear-jerking!!!  

How much more does my heavenly Father love when I crawl up in His lap and say, "I'm okay now because I have my Jesus"?

Through the things I don't understand.  Through the things that break my heart.  Through the things that make my heart sing.  Through the things that confuse me.  Through the joy and the sorrow I know I will be okay.  Why? 

Because I have my Jesus.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

our future 550 square foot cabin is almost ready

***I know I haven't blogged in a while and I know this blog isn't about my new baby.  I am too busy being smitten with my lil' man and loving on the rest of my family and living life to blog about our newest arrival.  I'm even typing this blog one-handed!  But, soon, I'll blog about sweet baby Marcus!***

You know that moment when you're sitting at a red light next to an 18-wheeler and you say, "there goes our house"?  

What?  You've never said that?  Well,then, you can just let future 18-wheeler sitings remind you of the Hewett temporary homestead then.

Moving on...

We have made so much progress and everything is close to being ready for move-in day.

And I am excited!!!   I cannot begin to tell you how freeing it is to downsize and consider of everything you have, "hm, would I even have this if I didn't have space to fill up?".   The answer to that has been yes and no multiple times.

Now, don't go thinking I have stars in my eyes.  I know there will be some, ahem, difficulties and challenges living in such a small space but they are merely inconveniences we will have to adjust to.  We are choosing this.  It is the best way for us to get to where we want to be. 

If you could experience the peacefulness and see my backyard and my husband's joy as he works so hard preparing our cabin and the land to grow us delicious, healthy food, you would understand.

Anyway, we have made one major logistical change...we are ALL sleeping in the cabin.  Originally, 3 of us were going to sleep in a camper next to the cabin...now, it's all of us.

So, painting has been done and our super-discounted countertops are in.  Leaks are fixed (we hope) and the new shower is in.

Me,actually participating in a teeny, tiny bit of work

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My parents helped get some stuff packed and some stuff ready for giving away

Our new garden!!!!

The new shower

New shower and view of the flooring, left over from our current house