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 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 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'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 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 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, 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

Add caption

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