Friday, June 24, 2011

Homestead Revelation-Putting The Brakes On Self-Reliance?

We've been trucking right along here at the homestead. The chicken coop is built. Jelly making is underway, and I have a few experiments in process.  My food storage is reaching pre I-thought-we-were-going-to-transfer levels, and we are still debt-free.  You would think we'd be rejoicing and full of peace. But no.  We have been frustrated, short-tempered, angry, and overly vocal with our children. Rather than having a peaceful homestead like I had envisioned, we have become a home of hostility. We were happier before attempting to simplify! What has happened?!

The other day I received the new Duggar book A Love That Multiplies in the mail.  That day was one of the worst I had with my children in a long time! In fact my sister called me from another state and instead of "Hello?" I answered with "How would you like to have 3 children shipped to you overnight?"  I was at my wit's end and about to cry. I felt like I had been yelling all day and the children were not only ignoring my instructions, but at points were completely rebelling against it. I wasn't having them do backbreaking labor, either. It was simple stuff like "Please go put this in the basket....please don't go in the chicken coop....clean up your doll clothes...please bring me your math book, etc."  You know, the mundane stuff. Anyway EVERYHING was a huge, fighting battle. It had been going on for several days but this was the day that I was about to lose my mind!

We made it through bed-time and then I sat down with this book. As I read the first several chapters I saw a theme. Here is a peacefully chaotic family that doesn't yell and scream and has loving, obedient children.  No matter how much character training I'm doing, I cannot seem to emulate this atmosphere in my own home.  Michelle Duggar is a peace-filled, calm mother, even in the midst of extreme pain, anxiety, and hospitality.  As I put the book down and asked the Lord what was wrong with me, I suddenly remembered another calm woman that I had learned about last summer. I had listened to Susan Conroy when she came to our local Catholic church to talk about her time spent working with Mother Theresa in Calcutta. The one thing she expounded on repeatedly was that Mother Theresa was a peaceful, joy-filled woman (even in the midst of death, disease, and other grotesque circumstances) who bathed each day in constant prayer.  As I read the Duggar's new book, I realized that's what was missing in my daily life, too. The Duggar family, and more specifically Jim Bob and Michelle, bathe each day and each decision in prayer.

I realized that in my quest for a simplified life in which we were more self-reliant for home-education and food sources, I had carried that mentality across to all areas of my life.  Suddenly I was only praying lukewarm prayers during an occasional early-morning quiet time, meal blessings, and bed-time prayers with my children.  I definitely was not "Pray[ing] without ceasing" like the Apostle Paul instructs us.  As a result, we were making choices that seemed logical (and even trivial)  at the time but were adding to the overall stress level in the home.  Sure, it seemed logical and trivial to get our kids guinea pigs, so we did. Now, though, we found out one is a male so we may have baby guinea pigs to deal with, not to mention that we need to work out a feeding/cleaning system my young children can deal with because I am barely getting my normal chores done as it is!  One of the pigs has a sore on it's mouth, so I will have to budget a vet appointment into our time and money.  These things sound silly, but I know now that we should have stopped and prayed about this. We had no idea how much more in-depth three guinea pigs would be as compared to the hamster I had growing up!

Another area that needed prayer covering was in how I discipline and talk to my children.  Rather than shoot up the 'arrow' prayers like I used to ("Lord, please tell me how to respond to this right now")  I was just reacting in my flesh. This led to harsh words and overzealous,irrational consequences.  I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit got a hold of me before I damaged any relationships with my children!

Why am I dumping all of my dirty laundry out here in a public blog? Am I done with the homesteading life? Have I suddenly decided that it's not okay to store food?  No.  I will still argue that it is being a wise steward to have food on hand for times of emergency. In fact, I firmly believe it's biblical (Genesis 41) and will allow us to be a blessing to our own families and others.  I just realized that just like anything else in this fleshly world, good pursuits can become dangerous idols. In my case I had traded God-reliance for self-reliance. As my daughter used to say when she was three, "Not good!" Ashamed, I immediately repented and purposed to bathe each day in prayer.  As I did, I felt a dark cloud lift from my soul.  Yesterday, I made a point to stop and pray throughout the day, being sure to do this in front of my children to reset that example in their minds. We all agreed that we noticed a considerable change in the atmosphere of our home.

Now considering I come from a pretty vocal, Irish-Italian family, I may never be the soft-spoken type that resembles Mother Theresa or Michelle Duggar, but I know that living my day in constant communion with my Heavenly Father makes it possible to live by Ephesians 4:29  :
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, 
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, 
that it may benefit those who listen.
-NIV, emphasis mine

Peaceful blessings to you and your homestead,
Hillary At Home


  1. you are such an inspiration and a true blessing to me... thank you for sharing you heart... and reminding me too to pray...

  2. Oh my goodness! You have described our days lately to a tee! I want my children to "rise and call me blessed" and not to think of me as a shrew. But I get lost in the "have to do's" and "need to get done b4. . ." I always wish that I was better at "pondering things in my heart" as Our Lady was- SIGH. Thank you dear lady for being so honest with us and in turn helping me to see the solution- prayers and Our Lord. Many blessings! Jennifer in IA

  3. Sometimes the anxieties of life get the best of us. Some of us have this issue more than others. I can relate to you for sure..We heal by admitting our thoughts to him..Thanks for the humble reminder...From one Irish Catholic to another!God bless!

  4. Actually, I'd better clarify, that although I was raised Catholic, I'm no longer a practicing Catholic. Still, I hold the traditions of the church deeply in my heart. I am so thankful that we are all sisters in Christ, and I greatly appreciate you reading my ramblings and your heartfelt encouragement! It was actually a dear Catholic friend of mine who invited me to come hear Susan speak. Apparently their families are friends, and she had arranged for her to make the trek to our corner of the world. What a blessing she was! Thank you again, and blessings to you and your families :)

  5. I could not have stumbled across this posting at a more opportune time. Today was the official first day of school for our family but I feel like I spent most of it yelling at my three children. I blamed the rainy weather for their lousy attitudes and bickering, but I now know that I did not start my day with God and so my day was one without Him. Thanks for the reminder. And I will have to check out the Duggar book, that family fascinates me.

  6. Hi Shelia! As you can see, you are not alone! I am glad to know my own 'chastisement' can be an encouragement to others. Here's praying that the rest of your week is God-filled, wonderful memory-filled, and fun-filled!