Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Real Life Inspiration: Simple (yet radical) living

This past Sunday night we got to have dinner with our friends Jarrod and Kendra at their super cute, 1937 home. They challenge and inspire my way of thinking on a regular basis, they are a perfect couple if you ask me, and I love it.

They dream big, aren't afraid to challenge the status quo, protect/defend/promote an individuals God-given freedoms, and their lifestyle is a conscious act to walk out their beliefs. We had so much fun talking to them, there's no way I can adequately portray all the inspiration I took away from them, but I'll sure have fun trying :) We talked about everything from homegrown, organic foods to homeschooling, to vaccinations, to home births, to informed consent in the medical field, to natural family planning, to photography, to owning a farm-ette someday, to un-conventional ways of  earning income, to learning some of the lost "arts" of survival that our grandparents and great grandparents knew as a normal way of life but that our generation is clueless about.

Jarrod is a dreamer, Kendra is super solid on her facts, they are both doers, and together they make an awesome team.

Ok, so I think the first thing I'll touch on is unconventional ways of making an income. Here's me and Shaun's real life example. When we first married and didn't have babies yet Shaun and I both worked. It was a great time for me to pursue a career and to save up our money. But even though we thought we were budgeted and really putting money away, we look back and wonder where all the money that we spent went. Enter Drew into our lives. I cut back my hours to approx 20 a week. However, things like getting take-out, paying full price for something we needed and I didn't have time to shop around for, filling up the gas tank on a weekly basis, calling repair men to fix it if something in the house broke, etc were still very much a part of our lives. When I chose not to go back to work after having Isaiah I was afraid of what it would do to our standard of living to lose my income (and our benefits, which were all through my job). But I knew it was what God was calling me to do and where my heart was. What we have learned since then is AMAZING. Number one, we live on a budget that is fairly (ok, very) rigid. However, it is not a prison, it is a very freeing thing, because we can spend the money we have without the guilt or fear that we should maybe be spending it somewhere else or "what-if-I-buy-this-and-don't-have-the-money-to-pay-my-bills-later" attack. Number two, we learn to do things (repair, furniture re-finishing, artwork, garden growing etc.) ourselves. P.s.- google is a very helpful resource for repairing things you have no clue about. ;)

Something to think about: Would you rather work 40+ hours a week and pay others hundreds of dollars for repair/maintenance work (lawn care, car maintenance, broken appliances, roofing, any home upgrades, etc.) OR, would you rather work 30 hrs a week and take one day to stay home, keep on top of your budget, learn to repair things that are broken yourself, mow your own grass, change your own oil, grow a garden etc. etc.

For some people they might honestly answer they would rather work and pay someone else in order to avoid the headache of trying to learn to do things they don't feel like doing. (Or some crazy, energetic people might work 40 hrs and do all the extra stuff themselves!) But, for some people the answer might be the latter. If it is, I encourage you to think more about this, and don't be afraid to explore the option of cutting back hours if you are willing to make the commitment of making your time as valuable as your income.

Now that I don't have the daily commute to work and the hours and hours away from home anymore, I spend my time helping to keep on top of our budget, telling our money where to go instead of just having it leave and us not really knowing where it went, we don't get take out very often, we fill up the car less often, I have the time to be thrifty, or make things myself, we grew a tiny vegetable garden... you see where this is going. (I'm trying to make my time valuable for us as a family) One huge thing that you can save money on (if you are a newlywed or just setting up a household) is furniture. Going to retail furniture stores can take a huge chunk out of savings (not that this is never appropriate, just if you don't want to spend that kind of money there are other alternatives). We have been learning how to find old furniture that is still in good condition but needs updating and refinish it to make it work for us. There are several recent pieces that we (Shaun) have been working on and I am taking before and after photos of that I'll definitely be posting later.

ALSO! photography has been a huge blessing for us. I enjoy it SO much, and I can totally schedule it to fit in with our life, I only have to be away from home for an hour or so at a time and I can do the editing from home. There are often creative ways you can turn something you love into a source of income for your family.

For Jarrod & Kendra, they have come up with some really great ways that I think are genius to turn their love of gardening into a source of income. I don't want to steal their thunder, so I won't elaborate on those ideas here... But they are really, really good ones! I guess what I most admire about them is that they are taking things they are passionate about and using them to their fullest potential.
Especially when it comes to gardening and eating organically.

Another thing we talked about is how our generation is so dependent on technology and our society as we know it for survival, that if something ever happened to change the way we all live and function, most of the basic skills for surviving are unknown to a lot of people (including myself). Gardening, sewing, hunting, canning/preserving foods, to name a few. Jarrod & Kendra are learning so many of these skills and what I love is that they are using the technology of today to help in the process.

There are so many more topics I didn't even touch on here... But, the bottom line.... these guys are more inspirational than they know, and I woke up the next morning still thinking and processing a lot of what we talked about. Because writing is my outlet... a lot of it came out here. :)

So thank you Jarrod and Kendra for being willing to live lives that might not always be mainstream, but are very true to your convictions and are inspiring to many! You guys are awesome!


  1. Great timing on this one! I recently started writing feature stories for the Cecil Whig, and have been searching for other freelance gigs.

    I also agree strongly on the "time is valuable" thought. Life shouldn't be so focused on how much money you earn, and it's tough not to feel pressure from society, friends and family. But as long as you/you and your spouse are doing what's right for you, and what works for your family, I say go for it! I enjoy trying new things to not only save money, but savor our moments.

    Great post!

    1. Exactly!! Glad this resonated with you, and that's awesome about the freelance writing :)

  2. I love this! I hope to stay home after baby #2, but it's been a huge planning process for us in trying to figure out how we can afford it. I'd love to see more tips- it sounds like you have some great experience in that arena!!

    1. I'm planning on doing more posts on budgeting and how we make it work with some to spare on our income, glad that it's helpful for people!! :)

  3. We couldn't agree more! Adam and I have been chatting a lot recently about how to be more self-sufficient. We are starting a garden this spring and I really would love to learn how to can and preserve. It's amazing to think our society lived without electricity not too long ago... our grandparents used outhouses!. How things have changed! We rely much too heavily on technology and I fear that most wouldn't know how to survive if they couldn't go to the store and pick up a jug of milk. I'm actually thinking about buying some chickens and maybe a goat-- am I crazy? Haha -- oh well I think I'd rather be crazy and prepared than the alternative :)

    1. Not crazy at all! if we had more land we would be doing that too!! It's our dream to someday have a tiny farmette... Besides just the benefits of knowing how to do things yourself, eating organically and without all the processing and preservatives put into food today is SUCH a benefit!! Canning is not my cup of tea if I have to do it alone, but Shaun is really into it too so if we do preserve food it's usually together :) (or sometimes he does it all by himself- I have photos of him canning strawberry jam on the side burner of our grill lol) The couple I was talking about in this post have a blog called permahouse that I follow... they haven't posted in a while but the posts they do have are very helpful for gardening and even using wild foods that grow in our area. :)