In October, Bret & I will have been married for 13 years. Our marriage has lasted over a decade, even though we are completely different than the two individuals that stood in the church in front of friends and family to say our “I-do’s.”
Bret grew up in the country – as in, 20-30 minutes from the nearest town with a Walmart kind of country. I grew up in a smaller community, but country was not in my upbringing. Sure, there were those near me that lived it, but not me. To be honest, I was uninterested in that. My initial idea of a great future was a studio apartment in some large city with some corporate job. That was my plan – until it wasn’t. My viewpoint on that goal began to change in high school, and my college path reflected that. I still chose business, but I wanted something that I would be free to leave at the office when I left.
Full-time employment in the office came soon enough. I thrived on it as a part-timer while I hopped from work to class to life and back again. Something about being tied to a desk eight hours a day became quickly unsatisfying once full-time employment without the freedom to roam came; I felt chained and stifled, even though administration shows as a strength in every test ever that I’ve taken that evaluates skill sets.
When the Princess made us a party of three, we made the choice that I would stay home with our kids and make whatever life adjustments had to be made to see that happen. **I will add here that I firmly believe that every family has to make the best choice for them, and that every family has different needs, desires, and circumstances. So, I mention our choice merely as a fact, not as a judgment for others.** Our Buddy made us a party of four less than two years later, and we feel complete.
Bret & I recycle homes. That’s just part of what we do. We gravitate to the abandoned or unloved homes and renovate them. As we have begun looking for what we hope to be our permanent place on the homesteading path, we have looked at walk-in ready homes, and I just can’t bring myself to commit. Something about bringing love to a sad place, complete with your own unique stamp of personality just works for us. Each time we purchased a home, Bret moved me further out of town. While I was expecting our Buddy, there were lots of factors that motivated me to study out exactly what was going on with our food chain in America, and it started me on a new course of life habits. While we are in-between homestead properties, I have had to let some of those habits rest for a minute, and we can absolutely tell the difference – both in the mental and physical health of our family.
Until we decided to get chickens and rabbits at our sprawling valley home, I never saw the Farmer Bret side of his personality. The Buddy and I love the animals, too, but we both love the companionship and entertainment power of animals. Bret and the Princess really embrace the whole scene. In fact, my daughter has claimed for 3+ years now that she plans to be a vet one day because of discovering her love of the animals and taking care of them. Our valley home was also where I first started seeing garden successes really. I cherished my 5:00 mornings with just me, my devotion, my coffee, and my rooster. Hearing him sing to the sun as I woke up seemed to set the day on a path of peace as a perfect companion to my morning routine. Immediately after coffee and devotion came the daily cardio and, by summer, morning sauna. After all, those garden beds always need weeding, produce needs harvested, and seeds need to be planted. Animals need to be fed & watered, tractors need to be moved to fresh grass, and other projects always awaited. (This all was not always done by me alone, but I was home while Bret would have to leave for work. Naturally because of that, more of it fell to me during the workweek.) What a fulfilling way to get a daily dose of healthy! It all happened in time to come inside and cook a farm-fresh breakfast for my little family, with minimal help from the grocery store required.
Something magical happened in that very beginner garden and with our very beginner chicken run and rabbit tractors. We, inch by inch, lesson by lesson, day by day, discovered how we wanted to redefine our lives. We discovered ourselves. Our eyes opened to seeing things with so much more clarity – and more than just why our food needs to be healthy. We found the most precious times to be the Saturdays where we would be all together, up bright and early, outside all day, with a grand finale of a poolside bonfire. I found a great way to channel my need for variety and novelty in that lifestyle, and I have learned far more than which essential oils are my favorites and what flowers should be planted by which vegetable plants. I found God in my garden, I found peace in my garden, and I found fulfillment in my garden. Scripture says in Romans 12:2, “And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God’s will is–that will which is good and beautiful and perfect.” (Weymouth New Testament) This is the truth that we found in our valley home, the renewal of our minds. Loving that homestead life has empowered us to apply Scriptures much more literally to even the most simple, practical areas of our lives, and our characters are that much better for it.
We will never pretend to have arrived, even when we find that perfect place. Years after all the developing of the homestead is done (does that happen?), we will still be nothing more than the imperfect Hippie and Farmer just doing our best to live a life that is full, happy, and pleasing to the Lord. A life lived in true effort of bringing our little world more beauty, stability, and security is the best legacy to leave behind. It is our Journey into Freedom.