Even though we only spent a year in Alabama, in my Shaye heart, it may as well have been a decade. The lessons and hard valleys that we discovered there were branded on us for a lifetime. Not only were we poor, so (so!) poor, but Stu was working so hard he was basically absent. I was a new mother of two and in the process of having my second, was damaged internally from tearing and spent the better part of two months laying on the couch. Our house had fleas and the entire thing was covered in diatomaceous earth for months. We didn’t have enough money for much meat or cheese, so my parents sent us goody boxes and envelopes of money for Christmas. I wrote my first cookbook From Scratch on a computer that had been gifted to us, that sat on a desk that had also been gifted to us.
Though the time was hard, it wasn’t bleak. God raised up a village of his people to love and serve us during that time and much like a drowning person thinks highly of the life raft that comes to their rescue, so I see my “Alabama family”. Lisa. Casie. Kate. All of you. You are still a joy in my heart.
But the old Shaye had to learn how to be a fighter. She has to scrimp and save and make her family nutritious meals with a $35/week grocery budget. She had to learn that hair coloring and cutting was a luxury, as was pretty much everything else. Chocolate? No. Wine? No. Fancy face creams? Nope. New clothes? Fu-get-about-it. The bible study I attended on Tuesday mornings was such a joy, not just for my spirit, but also because a kind soul would always bring pastries and it felt so, so good to have someone share a delicious treat with me. A small, satisfying luxury in a time of not very many.
When we moved back to Washington, we had the joy of releasing our first cookbook – and it sold surprisingly well. For the first time in our entire married life, we got to experience the joy of extra income. Dang Dave taught us well (so long as we were willing to listen) and we invested every penny we earned from that book, and from the first year of my doTERRA business, to paying off our student loans. Boring. Unfun. But we did it. I’d often stared at those loans and though we’d be buried still owing on them, so that was certainly cause for celebration.
Our family continued to grow, as did our additional income. The grocery budget grew, I worked feverishly to continue to build my businesses, and we enjoyed a deep breath after years of financial struggle. Have you been there? Ya. Probably.
That was over 3 years ago now and the Lord has seen fit for us to continue to grow this beautiful community here. We’ve since grown by another family member and now own our own small farm, a desire that we never really thought would come to fruition. Oh ye of little faith…
I’ve been counseled through the ups and downs of these years by my dear friend Angela and these past few months, both of our hearts have been meditating on a “mantra” that continues to make itself known: BETTER, NOT MORE.
In the constant growth of the farm and the workload, the details are often lost. Big projects can easily be started and accomplished – the budget allows for that. It’s easy to hop from one thing to the next to the next and hear the culture’s cry of MORE, MORE, MORE!
But that cry must be silenced in this home.
My hope is not to build an empire if that empire cost me the details of a beautiful life. And I’m not talking about perfection. I’m talking about finishing a project well, down to the last detail, with intention. I’m talking about playing with my children intentionally and getting off the damn internet. I’m talking about intentionally reading around the fire with my littles and surprising them with popcorn or hugs or whatever. I’m talking about nature walks and gathering eggs and listening to good music and being organized in my homemaking.
I’m talking about being the old Shaye. The old Shaye that had to be so intentional with the details of her life because everything was so valuable. The old Shaye had to be creative and had nothing but time to pour into her homemaking. She kept bills and payments organized because it was all budgeted down to the last penny. She struggled, but in a lot of ways, the new Shaye has a lot to learn from her.
Traveling at social-media-hyper-speed is no good for this ‘ol soul.
We’ve been blessed with more than any man deserves and I want to care for it well. For me, as a homemaker, that means happy hearts, full bellies, lots of prayers, and lots of forgiveness. It means filling time not with more work, but with more peace. My work is a huge source of joy for me and I am blessed to share my life, and table, with many. That won’t ever change! But working for MORE, MORE, MORE is not the same as working for PEACE, PEACE, PEACE. Lest there was any confusion.
Intentional. Peaceful. Restful. Productive. These are beautiful words for new Shaye to be reminded of.
God’s reminders are good. And Amen.
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