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“Trust” in the New Year || and a 2017 recap

I had one of the most interesting years of my life in 2017. The year was full of every kind of craziness—success, excitement, frustration, fear, anxiety, joy, grief, and love. It was a whirlwind of emotions all wrapped tightly into a package, then dropped into my lap at the end of the year so that I can finally unwrap it and, in return, wrap my head around it all.

I expect 2018 to be equally as crazy, but maybe in different ways.
Each and every year I choose a word that I feel God is allowing to stir around inside of me. My 2017 word was “shift”, and my goodness, did my life shift in 2017, in big and major ways.
Here’s how…

Happenings in 2017

There were a lot of things that happened in 2017 that lead to shifts in my life, in our lives. Some of them were minute, some of them were grand, others were a little scary.

I planned and hosted the Homesteaders of America Conference

…and it was a major success. I was very surprised, to be quite honest with you. Leading up to the event I had horrible nightmares that no one would show up, that it would rain profusely, or that something would go wrong. The complete opposite was true. It rained the day before, it was overcast the day of, making it the perfect October day. We had over 1,500 people show up (300+ of which were children), and our speakers had the most success at this conference than any other event they had attended in 2017. For a one day event, I’d say that’s pretty amazing.

From an education standpoint, we were on point. Attendees walked away with words flowing from their mouths such as, “I feel confident in raising meat animals on my homestead now,” and “wow, this was an amazing experience.” We learned right alongside of them. After all, it’s Homesteaders of America…not “Amy” of America. It’s all about learning, growing, and loving the community you’re part of.

At one point a man with a child in his arms came up to me and began crying. He expressed how he and his wife have 10 children, live a simple lifestyle, and have lost numerous family and friends because of the life they live. For the first time, they finally “fit in” somewhere.

That, my friends…that made the entire event worth it.

The Shift: I got to meet so many new people and make so many new contacts. I even got to visit Eustace Conway’s Turtle Island Preserve in April, and shake Joel Salatin’s hand…and listen to him speak his heart out to homesteaders from across the country. The shift happened in time management and business attitude. I became an instant entrepreneur, and was even nominated as a potential candidate for the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year award through our county. I had to sit down and be more organized, but I also touched so many lives throughout the entire year….and those lives touched my life even more. It caused me to shift my focus from frivolous things to more important work. But also, I made some amazing life-long friendships that I could’ve never made on my own.

 

I received my very first book contract….and my second…

In June I received my very first book contract from Lyons Press. In fact, I was approached by two other publishers to write this book as well. I was offered a contract from Quarto Publishing, another homesteading publisher, but decided to pass on it. It just didn’t feel right. I even had Storey Publishing interested in the book, but I just connected with Lyons Press the most out of all the offers.

I’m not the girl to just go with the most popular of opinions and businesses in life. While there’s nothing wrong with those companies, sometimes, you just have to choose the company you click with…who has the same goal as you. Lyons Press was exactly that publishing company.
And so, I successfully signed their contract for my first book, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion. You can click here to pre-order, otherwise, it comes out April 1, 2018!
And then, in December, I successfully signed their contract for my second book, blah blah blah blah blah. Sorry, can’t share that one with you just yet! But it’s due out in Spring 2019! Make sure you check back often for when I announce it.
The Shift: I had to write my first book in 8 weeks—all 75,000 words of it. While planning a conference. While homeschooling. While being a homemaker. It…was…hard. But I did it. And it was one of my greatest accomplishments in my entire life. I learned that a lot can be done with a little time, which has launched me into the mindset that I have all the time I need in each and everyday. It’s how I use it that makes the difference. It has also shifted me into a brand new career, a brand new income for my family, a brand new legacy to leave behind for my son. 

I had a health scare…

Not my most favorite moment of 2017. I had convinced myself that I had breast cancer. I went through every single thought in my head of the outcomes, the treatment options, the things that would have to be done ahead of time and afterwards. But the tests came back perfect, though it’s still something we always have to “watch”. The initial diagnosis is nothing, though, and I’m happier because of that.
The Shift: When you have to wait 2 weeks to see if you have breast cancer, it’s no joke. You think about your family. You think about the possibility of losing your hair…of losing your femininity…of losing your life. You think about leaving a family behind too soon. You think about not being able to see your family if you have to do radiation treatments. And you realize that all those times you said you “wouldn’t” do treatments if you ever got cancer…well, you realize that you would, under certain circumstances. It was a humbling experience. And it made me realize that I need to take more risks in life. I need to do the things that I may never have another chance to do. I need to love on the people around me more often. And I need to take better care of myself.

We had a second health scare…

And because it’s not my health scare to tell, I won’t tell it. But just know that everything is completely ok and amazing and wonderful. And it was just that, “a scare”.
The Shift: This shift was equally as humbling and nerve-wracking as the first health scare, because this shift involved the “what if I’m suddenly a single income in my household” thought. “What if” my husband died? “What if” my husband has to have major surgery and is out of work for months?  “What if” something ever happens to him and I’m suddenly a single homeschooling homemaking mom with a small income? It has caused me to realize that I need to have better systems in place so that I can take care of my family in case I am suddenly faced with a situation like this…for real. 

I began my Master Herbalist certification

For years I’ve wanted to take some of the herbalist courses that I’ve seen, but I always came back to the same set of courses through The Vintage Remedies Learning Center. So in 2017, I started my very first courses through them, and will have completed my Master Herbalist certification in the beginning of 2018. The first half of the Master Herbalist course begins with the Confident Family Herbalist course, and it is absolutely worth it. If you’re wanting to learn more about herbs from a scientific and modern standpoint, this is the course for you!

The Shift: I realized that a lot of the things I believed about healthcare weren’t true, and that some were. Some of the things I’d been saying for years were complete fact, others were only half-truths. However, this course launched me into a thriving mindset of being ‘aware’. Being aware of my surroundings, being aware of preventative medicine, and being aware of using herbs and essential oils properly. I’ve learned so much from these courses, and it has changed my life forever.

 

We planted a bigger garden

I know, seems little, right? But this garden was like no other garden we’ve ever planted. For the first time on this property, I grew a lot of stuff in one small space. We grew vertically and on the ground. I planted 15 tomato plants, 12 cucumber plants on an arbor, 12+ green bean plants on an arbor, lavender, oregano, sage, basil, thyme, peppermint, spearmint, lots of peppers, zinnias, garlic, onions…the list goes on.
The Shift: I fell in love with gardening all over again. Things actually grew this year because I have learned for the last several years what works and what doesn’t work here. I discovered that I need to stop heming-and-hawing over having a small space to work with and instead put that space to good use! And we did exactly that. It gave me the confidence to plant more of what we actually eat so that I can start canning more and more each year. 
 
 

We renovated our kitchen

Whew, what a crazy project that was. We’ve lived in this fixer upper for 10 years in March of 2018. Our kitchen looked like we lived in a shack. Not even kidding you. I didn’t invite people over to our house because my kitchen literally was the biggest eyesore in the history of eye sores. Don’t believe me? Check it out….

BEFORE

 

AFTER

 
Looking at the first picture, I get anxiety just looking at how dark, dreary, and horrible the kitchen looked. This was right before we began pulling stuff out to take out the flooring and cabinets, so it was messy, to say the least. But it didn’t matter what I did…this kitchen NEVER looked clean. EVER.
I am so grateful to my handy-dandy husband. He put a whole lot of sweat and muscle into this project. It required him to create a completely new pantry, and a cubby-hole for the fridge since we moved the fridge from its original position in the kitchen. He tore out all of the cabinets, I took off all of the wallpaper, he ripped up the floors, painted, and then we put everything back into place, with new everything—flooring, cabinets, counter top, sink, faucet, and even extra cabinets and counter space.
The Shift: I learned that a kitchen renovation isn’t as easy as they show you it is on HGTV. I learned that I should be more grateful for the knowledge my husband has in the construction industry. I learned that good things take weeks, and months, to accomplish. They don’t just happen over night. And I learned to appreciate my kitchen sink more, because a month without a kitchen sink during the summer time is no fun at all. This renovation forced me to appreciate the old kitchen I had, and the new kitchen I was being given.
There were so many other things I could’ve pulled from 2017. SO many. But then I’d just be talking about our lives way too much, and sometimes, there’s just no need for that!

Over all, 2017 was a simple year with lots of stuff packed into it. But things just seemed to come so easily. And often times, after an easy year, you get a more complicated year. That’s why this year our word for 2018 is “trust”.

God was faithful in the scary times, the hard times, and even the easy times of 2017. But in 2018, He wants us to remember that and trust that, just as in the past year, He will provide and take care of us in the New Year.

Do you know how hard this is? It is extremely hard. You get to a point where you know things are going to go great, but then they come to a screeching halt, or someone throws a monkey-wrench right into your plans.
You scatter to fix it on your own, and that’s where the issues begin.
We’ve seen this beginning to happen at the end of 2017, and therefore, I knew it would be a struggle for us in 2018. So this is why our word for 2018 is  TRUST. To trust in Him for everything. To trust that HE will do it, not us. To trust that His will will prevail, not our own. And to trust that even in the most difficult times, He is still there, and there is light on the other side.
With that in mind, we still create goals for ourselves in 2018, because there are still happenings that must happen in the new year!

Goals for 2018

I’m keeping this list short, sweet, and to the point. I’m not placing a lot of pressure on myself this year outside of my books and the conference. The rest of the time I want to be a homemaker, mama, friend, and wife!
  • To exercise at least 4 times each week. To lose 30 lbs by October 2018.
  • To only spend 1 hours worth of screen time each week, besides the time when writing my book and working on marketing. In other words, I only want to look at a screen when I’m working. I don’t mind talking to friends, I’m not going “off grid” with my phone ha! But I want to spend less time on social media.
  • To allow the Lord to place blinders on my eyes from the things that could distract me, hinder me, or make me angry and irritated.
  • More time with family, less time being “busy”.
  • To expand our garden.
  • To set up breeding pens for new chicken breeds. (oh, and to buy new chicken breeds)
  • To can and preserve more, especially meat charcuterie.
  • To grow at least 10 new herbs in the garden.

Happenings in 2018

  • We’re taking a long vacation in March, Lord willing, to see friends in Mississippi! We’re excited to drive through a couple of different states.
  • My first book, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion, comes out on April 1, 2018.
  • My second book manuscript is due May 1, 2018.
  • The second annual Homesteader’s of America conference is October 11, 12 and 13 of 2018, which I plan to speak at for at least one day.
  • We may attend a Mother Earth News conference with friends in the spring or fall.
I could probably write a book that would tell you everything about 2017, but who on earth would want to read that? In 2018 my greatest goal is to simplify even more. I want to be focused. I want to live with intent. I only want to focus on my books, the conference, and my family. Homesteading is sprinkled into all of that. From gardening and chickens, to adding new and exciting things onto our property. I hope that one day soon we’ll be able to expand in regard to property itself, but we’ll just have to “trust” God for that…now won’t we?
Wishing you a beautiful new year. May the blessings enrich your heart and soul, and may the joy outweigh the hardships.
xoxo
 
Amy

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