The last couple of months I have been participating in a pantry challenge that a dear friend in Ohio started at the beginning of the year. The goal of the challenge was to spend zero money on groceries until March 1st and began by taking inventory of what we had on hand in our pantries and freezers.
I stuck to the guidelines of the challenge as much as possible for our household and needs. For me it was a great opportunity to take stock of what we have and what we can or cannot live without over a period of time. Saving money was never really my goal, just an added bonus. The personal benefit of the last two months was realizing what and where I can and need to focus my time and energy over the next year.
Time is changing again this coming weekend for our area. Springing forward an hour. It’s funny how much has changed in my life in just one single year since the last time we sprang forward. I used to spend every moment staring at the clock, focusing every second of every day on what time it was. And most of it was spent beating myself up over time frames I never could keep that were unrealistic and outdated anyway. It was a vicious cycle. I was constantly tired, anxious, stressed, and disappointed. I was focused on a million little things all at once. That whole way of living robbed me of a ton of joy for many years.
Exactly a year ago today I wrote a blog post I never shared. But here’s a snippet of it:
The devil is constantly outside, knocking like a cold blistering winter wind.
I’m falling away.
I’m falling behind.
I cannot breathe.
That’s how it starts, then the next thing you know you’re on a fast moving sled careening down a hill towards danger.
Out of control.
Hitting the bottom hurts.
So does this deep freeze.
The best decision I made last year was purging myself from a horrendous environment. Everything was constantly chaos and out of control. It was holding me back from plans and opportunities to serve The Lord. It kept me in a nonstop state of numbness. The decision was long overdue and very needed. I am so thankful the entire journey helped me re-evaluate my perspective on time. That alone has been life changing.
God is not in a hurry. Why do I waste so much of my time trying to be?
Over the next year I’m still focusing on appreciating the little things. I’m shoving my pockets full of sunshine and sonshine. I’m trying to care deeper, be kinder, love bigger. I’m concentrating on the whole Do Not Conform motto even more then in previous years. I’m stopping and breathing. Taking different routes home. Making new plans. Saying yes. I’m building a longer table and inviting people over. I’m serving up encouragement to go along with our farm to table food.
I’m not letting the world or myself influence my time. I don’t want to miss the serving opportunities for His Kingdom by dictating my own days and schedule so I’ve turned that over to him as well. It wasn’t as easy to do as it was to just type out for you to read. I’ve been praying for Him to help me see what I need to purge both short-term and long-term.
There’s still a million little things I want to do daily. But not this year. This year is a revival of myself in every aspect. I’m stepping back from my normal routines in order to reconnect to God, to be able to discern who He wants me to be and His plans for my time left on this earth.
Inhaling my faith and exhaling my fears.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:6-7 English Standard Version (ESV)
Many people have asked me for specifics on what exactly I’m changing up over this next year and what some of my goals and plans are around the homestead and farm so I thought sharing them here would be easier.
~I am asking God to use me. Every single day I am asking Him to use me as He sees fit. I have stepped out of the rat race and into His time table. I’m inhaling and exhaling at home, at work, in my car, on the porch, every morning and every night. It’s actually scary and exhilarating to be so trusting and do this daily.
~I purchased a new composition book that I’ve been writing in. I have notebooks all over the house from years past but I wanted something new and fresh. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve carried one around with me and just jotted down thoughts and feelings as they happen. I had forgotten how therapeutic putting pen or pencil to paper feels to me.
~I am participating in 3 different Bible studies. One I am hosting in my home monthly, one I am doing with a neighbor and one I am going to be discussing with a new friend on Instagram. I am also going to take what I am reading and learning and incorporate that into a monthly newsletter to a group of women who were willing to participate in this new adventure with me. I hope the Lord will use me to spread joy and pockets full of sunshine and sonshine into each of their lives.
~I am reading, reading, and reading some more. What am I reading? A little bit of everything. Actual, physical, hold in your hands books, and also blogs. Current books on my nightstand: NIV Study Bible, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You, A Life Beyond Amazing, Love Does, Encouraging Words for Women, Letters From Heaven, When Christ Comes, This Life I Live, Once Upon a Farm, For One More Day, A Kiss for Cade. The three books I’m reading for Bible Studies are Jesus Always – Following God’s Direction, Awaken, and Ridiculous – Living Like Christ in a Love Starved World.
~I have stopped making daily to-do lists for myself. I haven’t actually accomplished those in years and it was always just a big disappointment staring at them at the end of every day. I’m still a list-maker but I’ve changed them to monthly instead of daily. I’ve found out they are so much easier for me to manage and handle and come with less frustration and tears and kicking myself every night. Some how God is helping me get my lists done in a timely fashion when I’ve just turned my scheduling over to Him.
~I am focusing on my physical health. I quit smoking after all these years and dropped 25 pounds just from relieving myself from the stress of the law firm. I’ve been lifting weights, stretching my body from the cocoon it’s been in for God only knows how long and also thinking about getting back on the treadmill. Notice I said thinking on that last one. Not long ago on the drive home from work I thought about cutting off my hair. It felt so dry and limp and I was honestly just getting sick of it. So when I got home I put it in a pony tail and chopped it off. I didn’t even think about it or hesitate. It felt really good and I haven’t regretted it. I’m also laughing a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. Man does it feel good to just let yourself laugh. Laughter IS really good medicine. I’ve been carrying a lot of weight around mentally, emotionally and physically. I’m attempting to chop at some of those chains that have been a heavy burden for far too long. Just laughing and breathing and forgetting about time has helped tremendously.
~I am doing old-fashioned housewife things. Cooking, baking, cleaning, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming and trying to dust weekly. Serving my husband as much as possible has also risen to the top of my list. I’m singing and dancing in the kitchen. It’s mundane and I’m loving every single minute of it. I want to be a better homemaker this year. There’s nothing in me that says I want to be a scientist, explore space, swim the deepest seas or anything fancy really. Ya’ll I don’t even care about Starbucks. I love simple living. I cherish it to be honest. The closets, basement and even entire rooms need purged. There’s painting, landscaping and general upkeep inside that needs attention. I’m done putting it all off and doing it, Lord willing. I actually hum and whistle all the time. It’s crazy and so not like me at all.
~I’m not going to do all the “homesteading” things this year. I’ve been doing most common homesteader activities long before they became popular on social media. I keep telling myself to slow my roll for a change so I’m scaling the garden back. That whole Go Big or Go Home thing is on break when it comes to gardening, mostly because I just want to go home and by that I mean back to God. The pantry challenge helped me see we have plenty to eat this upcoming year. We literally just finished the last jar of salsa I canned back in 2016. It was fabulous too! At the end of February I still had 169 quarts of various food items in the basement. I also have a half a cow, chickens, turkey, pork, venison and veggies stocked in the freezers. And that doesn’t include everything I have tucked away in the kitchen and cabinets upstairs. There are only two of us eating 75% of it all. There’s no need to go bigger in this area. I am not sketching out a garden plan prior to standing over the dirt and planting my first seeds. I have never done that before in my life. There will be no greenhouse and I will not be filling every square inch of the dirt and then killing myself to harvest it. I’m going to grow a couple fun but useful items I’ve always wanted to try because I’m giving myself the space. I’m trusting God will tend to our needs and if not I have tons of friends and neighbors who are always willing to share when harvest rolls around.
~Except for meat birds I’m hatching our own chicks instead of purchasing them. I want to build a chicken tractor first though so I’m practicing patience and self-control every time I pass a farm store right now. I’m not good at either of those things and I work across from a store that is currently setting up for chicks to arrive shortly. I’m instead trying to focus on flock plans and constructing something from the old greenhouse hoop frame to make life a little easier this spring/summer. If not then maybe I’ll use it to build a winter hut for the ducks if they survive until then. I hope to increase our butchering from two to three phases also this summer because our supply always seems to go quickly.
~The land, buildings and fencing all need our attention. We have been holding off making any changes and updates until we knew if we were going to have to move off the homestead or not. The Lord has blessed us greatly and we will be staying so we can finally start in on projects again. Mother Nature has been wreaking havoc with her 50+mph winds tearing everything apart so the outside honey-do list is long and we need to tackle it as well as tend to our livestock, flocks and herds. We spent some of our hibernation time this winter dreaming and planning together and now it’s time to put some of it in motion. I’m excited to have the time to work as a team on the farm again with my husband.
All the above are just a few things I hope continue or am able to stick to as the year progresses.
There’s a million things that won’t be changing though but just to name a few……..
~It will still take me 3-5 business days to respond to people. Although as I’ve been putting my phone down so much more and enjoying my actual life it’s turning more into 5-7 business days. Please don’t be offended lol.
~I still refuse to give up dark chocolate.
~I have no plans to ever enjoy anything related to laundry.
I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me in the upcoming year. I just know at the beginning and end of every day He is the only one I’m trying to impress and follow.
Inhale the faith, exhale the fears and enjoy the million little joys that come with pockets full of Sonshine. You only get one life to live. Are you willing to ignore the world and serve Him with me?