Friday, February 18, 2011

The "M" Word Again

I decided to delete yesterday's post, perhaps in haste, due to some thoughtless comments from an "anonymous" person.  I nearly deleted the whole blog wondering what the worth would be if I couldn't be real.

Instead, I decided to spend a day praying about it and listening for an answer.

Many of you probably didn't read the post, so I will summarize most of what I can remember with some new details added.

Nearly eight years ago, as our family started heading toward the direction of simplifying our lives and opting out of the consumer society to some degree, I would spend lots of time searching through Countryside Magazine, online, and at bookstores and libraries looking for writings from families that had chosen similar paths. I found and read article after article of "how-tos" (how to grow all your own food on 1 acre, raising chickens, living off grid, etc, etc.) but could find very little specifics about finances. I really wanted to know if a large family could live simply, work toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle and support themselves through meaningful self-employment, preferably a combination of farming and handwork.

I also wanted to know if people that made a move to a homestead way of life had a savings before they did so, or a family inheritance or disability, or......

When I started this blog, I felt God leading me to not only keep it as a journal and a place to organize our family photos, but also to share the ins and outs and ups and downs of our life. Not to make a statement that our way of life is the "right" way. Not to say that this is the way to do it. Not to make anyone feel any less if they have more stuff, or make more money. Simply to share one alternative, our life, and our experiences along the way.

Therefore, I decided it was time to share about our finances. Our handwork business grew 100% last year and we had earnings (after deducting business expenses) of about $19,000. I added the $6,000 we get from the tax "welfare" or tax refund. Truly it is not a refund because we didn't pay $6,000 into the system. Therefore, I don't like the term refund in our case - which made our income about $25,000.

This is the most we have made in our five years upon moving to Vermont and we are grateful that it has helped to make it possible to support our home, and six, soon to be seven children. When we moved here from Massachusetts we had nothing, no savings except enough to get us through a couple of weeks.

Our expenses now include - $600.00/month  for our small homestead on 3.5 acres that we paid $55,000 for one and a half years ago, $100/month for electricity, $75/month for phone (this includes our unlimited dial-up for business), $1,000/year for property taxes, $400/year for car insurance, $600/year for home owner's insurance.

The rest is variable - food, gasoline, car repairs, home repairs, vet bills, etc... I would love to share more of this in future posts.

We also give because giving makes us ever more grateful for what God has provided us.

The only government assistance we accept is health insurance. For a family our size we would still get state covered insurance even if we made up to $75,000. Mike and I will be paying a monthly premium, probably about $75.00 for our coverage soon. We qualify for all kinds of other assistance, but do not need it. We also believe that the more you take from the government, the more likely you are to lose your freedoms because you have to follow the standards the government sets. We take this insurance for our children's benefit. Vermont, for better or worse, (and I don't want to get into a debate about health insurance here) looks like it will be the first state in the nation to have a single payer system. This means that everyone will be under state care when this happens. Currently 2/3 of all children in Vermont have state funded health insurance including many farm families that work very hard.

So I wrote more about the health care issue than the original post because I received some comments from a person who wished to remain anonymous.  The comment was that he or she could not understand how we could be living a family centered life when he or she has to go to work every day to support us. Not kind and not productive.

A brief response is that we did not say one day - "Let's be poor and get free health insurance." Mike lost his  good paying job eight years ago and after trying to get another job in his field for nearly three years he went from earning $75,000 per year to $18,000 because he could only secure employment in the landscape field. This was a blessing from God, however. Our life would never have been so full and so enriched. We just know that this was the first step, the first shove along our journey, to get out off the world's track and follow our hearts.

I will deleting all anonymous comments from now on.  Please let me know who you are if you would like to contribute.

I truly look forward to discussion about this and sharing.

Warm wishes,


  1. Thank you for reposting this. I went back yesterday to re-read your post and couldn't find it. :o) I would love to hear more "how to" posts on finances. We're a family of 9 living on one paycheck and I appreciate hearing how others do it too. Love your blog! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Oh dear friend...I read the annoying responses from the 'anonymous' commenter and it took all of my restraint not to answer her in this space...but instead, I did the same thing you did and prayed that that person will see what you are trying to say in your journal.

    It is not easy for us, families like yours and mine, to explain to others our way of life.

    And that is why, when I do, I am ready for the 'nasty' comments that come my way.

    Living below the poverty level is hard for us. But it is not impossible - it just takes a level of commitment - the one that I see in your way of life.

    Do not allow anyone to make you feel as if you are being maintained by anyone. Don't allow them to take away your joy in sharing this lifestyle. It is the only way to live now...the other way is a life filled with bondage to a system that just sucks you dry.

    I am sorry that you had to be put through this...but do not apologize or feel inadequate. Instead, focus on the fact that you are such an inspiration to others. Such an encourager to others that find this way of life hard and scary even to try it.

    Stay the course my friend!


  3. Yes, there are those nasty people out there who
    think that they have a right to tell you how to live and which way to believe. I too have heard it all - but they don't really count in the long run. Congrats on "almost #7". We too
    raised 7 children without much money, but they never went hungry, never had our utilities shutoff or lost our home - any many people with
    many fewer children cannot say that. And we never needed government help. Our children had experiences that other children did not get to have = and they are grateful for those times. We still struggle as senior citizens,
    but all 7 have college educations (including
    masters) all have good paying jobs and all are
    decent, law abiding citizens. That is what matters in the end. I love to read your blog and see that you are doing what you believe is
    right and honorable. Keep it up - it will be
    great in the end. Veronica

  4. I'm sorry you encountered harsh feedback. I did read your post yesterday and was so appreciative of your openness. I think it is good for people to know what is possible on what is considered "little" income. People consistently come to me complaining about how they could never afford to live the life we live (one income, homeschool). When I reveal how much we live off of they are usually shocked to find out that we live on less than half of what they live on. Revealing this 'forbidden topic' of our salary allows them to see that they can have the life they want if they can sacrifice some of the extras.

  5. What a wonderful post!!!!! I love seeing how God has blessed you!!!!

    I have had my husband read your blog...because I wish we could take the step of faith that you have....I can see how God has blessed you with each post that you write.


  6. Tonya your blog is so wonderful as are the products you and your family make (we have your pencil holders :D) Thank you for sharing about money as it's such a taboo subject in this society. I feel we would all be better off if we shared and were honest with one another. I'm amazed you do so well on so little with so many mouths to feed. Congratulations on succeeding on living your life by your own values, too often we look to others instead of within.

  7. Hi Tonya,
    I'm sorry someone was unkind and thoughtless about such a helpful and informative post. I totally understand your motivation and although I don't think I commented yesterday, I appreciate you sharing the details, because just like you, I have searched for more of that kind of information to help me figure out what's possible for my family. So thanks again, and don't let anonymous trolls get you down!

    I'm Amanda, from Little Vermont Family (I bought beeswax from you!) Didn't want to leave a URL...

  8. I think it's a good thing that you are choosing to use the health care offered to you by the state for your childrens' sakes.

    I also think it's great that you are able to do all that you do, and keep your family well fed, educated and happy with so little without needing other forms of assistance! And I'm thankful you work hard for it - I hope others can learn from your example.

    Maybe that person never went through any hard times and hasn't developed any empathy.

    As far as the money topic, I'm glad you posted it. It seems it has been a taboo topic since the days of the gentry - where it was determined money would only be spoken of by merchants and the poor, and never in elevated circles. For many it also gives way to jealousy issues. (Not for you and not for me, but unfortunately many people have not learned contentment and goodwill.) I think an open dialogue regarding money, stretching it, saving it, etc, is important when you work with very little of the stuff. :)

  9. thank you for sharing. i, too, am interested in the income of those who homestead... how it is possible, etc. God bless!

  10. I did read your post on my reader, and I found it really brave. I also often wonder how different people make their dreams financially possible. I've also been asked the same question. My answer is in two parts. First I've always done my best to live far below my means even when my financial peers are racking up the credit card debit. Second I make careful choices about what where I spend money. We don't have Christmas gifts, cable, or any number of new things. I spend money on quality food and internet. One feeds our bodies, and the other makes it possible for me to make a living. The final part of the equation is making changes when part of the system is not working. Cutting back or adding 'luxuries' like health insurance for the adults in the family are examples of some tough choices conscious families make while following their hearts.

  11. Oh Tonya, I am so glad you decided to post and not delete your blog completely. I know that I don't "really" know you, but I have to tell you that I have been thinking of you since yesterday. I didn't read your original post, but I kept seeing the post in my blogroll after it was no longer there. I had no idea what the "m" word was and I started to worry about you. I almost emailed and I almost left a comment on another post to check, but I didn't want to get too personal and stick my nose in where it doesn't belong. To be honest, I don't have a lot of friends around me,(I'm too different from the norm) so I tend to care about those I meet online.

    Ok, now that I know all is well, other than that cowardly commenter, I will address your post. All I can really say is that I often dream of a life like yours, but we are in over our heads with our house and hubby does have a great job(though the commute is a killer). We often talk of ways to get out of where we are, but we couldn't live with ourselves to just defunk on debt that we have occurred(the house). So, unless hubby loses his job(which would be hard to find another that makes enough to pay this stupid mortgage) we are here and have to make the best of our situation. I'm trying to simplify things, but it is so hard when you are surrounded by suburbia.
    I commend you for not taking more than you need, and if all you need is insurance(which is definitely a need) then I don't see how people could find fault in that. There will always be people who disagree, that's just human nature, so try to just ignore them.

    I know I could say a ton more, but this is just a comment section :)


  12. I didn't get round to reading your post in time, although I did notice the title and wondered what the m word was, while saving the read until later. I have to say that money was not one of my guesses. Thinking about it, it is a huge taboo of a subject. We can talk about all sorts of stuff, but no-one ever talks about money - not even to their children. Strange, really, in this society.
    I am sorry you had such a bad experience with a comment. Hugs xx


  13. I'm sorry that you encountered someone so angry who felt the need to misguidedly show that anger to you and your family. I, too, am struggling to figure out how my family can survive financially if we choose a self-sustainable lifestyle and when we will be able to do so. We hope and pray for this daily. We hope that we will not require assistance from the government, but that may not be possible. Our current system rewards creating excess, buying excess, and selling excess. I hope that the new health care system will grow to help sustain the healthy lives of all, even those of us who cannot afford excess or who simply choose to not be a part of it. I'll think on this subject more and write my own thoughts on my own blog. I will let you know when I do. For now, know that my thoughts are with you and your family. Stay strong especially in the face of blind anger. You did not deserve it. You've done the right thing to protect yourself and I definitely believe that in continuing your blog and the journey of your life you are sharing valuable information and love with the world. Keep your head up.

    - K. Fox

  14. I am so thrilled to see this post. We are in the midst of transitioning my husband to be a sahd right along side this sahm:) We have 9 acres, 2 goats, 6 laying hens, and will be adding to this in the spring. We are Canadians so we don't have to worry about health insurance. We also have some investment rental properties to supplement our income.
    I have a few questions if you don't mind:
    1. What avenues do you pursue in selling your farm produce and handy work?

    2. What expenses have you deemed totally unnecessary and eliminated from your budget?

    Thanks so much!

  15. Tonya,
    Thank you for reposting, I read it the first time and then went back and couldn't find it. It gives me hope when I read your story and how you live. :) I admire your lifestyle and choices.

  16. Oh, my! I can not believe that someone would do this to you! I DID read the post yesterday, and in all honesty, it was a tremendous blessing to me. I don't use that phrase lightly. To be bold enough to state what you earn, what you do, and to share all your experiences in light of God's grace and providence -- well, I think that you are an example of a godly woman, leading a godly family. To be able to have children who do not feel they are "poor" (I read that post, too!) is just one example taht you are living within God's will -- and that trumps anything that mean folks can say.
    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. It has given me much to think about, and I do hope that you will continue to share with us!

  17. Precious Tonya,

    I read your original post and was blessed by your willingness to share your story with all of us. I also read the comment you reference. I am so glad you decided to pray, decided not to delete this lovely blog, and decided to expand the original post. Please keep the prayerful, honest, and practical posts coming... they are a bright spot in my day!

  18. How sad that those who choose to criticize don't have the courage to sign their names. I'm sorry that you had to go experience that. I love your blog and commend you for having the courage to write honestly about your life so that others who seek a similar lifestyle can be inspired and encouraged.

  19. Tonya - again, your honesty and ability to take a deep breath and step back is an inspiration to me. Best wishes!

  20. Oh Tonya, I am so sorry to hear about this. You give such a positive message.

    It is called a safety net for a reason.

    In one way or another we all pay taxes, as self employed folks you know this more than most. Those taxes, FDIC, self employment taxes, property taxes, sales tax all contribute to our common welfare. I would rather make sure that kids have healthcare when they need it than to hear of any child doing with out because the healthcare system does not work to benefit all.

    As for your courage to share your thoughts on the "M" word I am grateful. I think it is a marvel that your are able to do what you do with what you have. you are richer for it.

    Our family may be making the leap for steady employment to self employment as my husbands teaching position may be eliminated due to tax cuts. Our expenses are nearly the same as yours and I feel heartened that following your wise example we will be okay.

  21. I read it on my Google Reader ---- and I just have one thing to say --- don't ever take Anonymous posts seriously.

    If someone has something important to say, they'll have the courage to say it to "your face". Hiding behind anonymous means they don't deserve your time or your worries.

    I'm glad to see that you will be continuing. I wish you well in all that you do.

  22. I'm so sorry someone was ugly to you...there's absolutely no reason for that...

    ...Peace be with you...

  23. Oh, Tonya, I'm so sorry that some nameless "person" (I put that in quotes because I'd like to use another word but will be kinder than I'd like out of respect to you) felt they just HAD to comment that way. Wow. And then to hide behind an anonymous tag.

    I read your post but didn't comment at the time. Now I'm sorry I didn't.

    Honestly, I wish our country had universal health care like other countries do. Not once have I ever felt that I'm paying (or my husband is paying since we get insurance through HIS job) for someone else. But if I were the one paying, I'd be more than happy to do that so that children and the elderly or poor or whoever NEEDED it was able to get it. Gosh, it's about lifting one another up, anon.

  24. I read your deleted post. Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone would feel the need to comment in an unkind manner. I was looking forward to seeing your responses. Some day we hope to live more simply and I find blogs like yours to be truly inspiring.

  25. Oh Tonya, I'm so sad to hear you felt you had to justify your decisions to make sure your children have access to adequate health care. Blessings to you and your family.

  26. I'm sorry someone accused you of such a thing. I think people forget that bloggers are people too, people with families and more importantly, with feelings. If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all. I think you're doing the right thing by a)continuing your blog and b)moderating comments. Try not to let it get you down!!

    Stephanie :)

  27. I didn't read the original post and living in Australia I have very little understanding of how the US health system works, however from reading your blog for a while now I have to say that I am surprised anyone would think that 1. you guys are poor and 2. you are living off the system. If people don't have the courage to put their name to their comment then I agree with you, they shouldn't be put up. Great work to all of you for living the life you choose and sharing it with the rest of us. Vic xx

  28. Tonya, I have followed your blog for a long time now. I have a lot of respect for you and your family. We live, to many standards, a simple life. We plant what we can and make due with what we have until the kids need something bigger. We are also expecting our third, so pairing down has become even more necessary. As for the health insurance thing, you are hard working people. From what I read here, you contribute what you can to the land and do what you can for those around you. It's not as though you were sitting around at home, playing video games, with your fancy clothes and a luxury car while you get gov't assistance. Yes, there are people who take advantage of the system, but I don't think you are one of them. One of these days (prob our next house bc they won't let us have anything here without an acre), we will have chickens and our own little homestead. Until then, I will continue to read blogs like yours and become inspired to do God's will on this good earth. May you continue to be blessed with love and happiness!

  29. I'm sorry you had a difficult blog interaction. I appreciated your post and it provided me with a lot of food for thought as my family is drifting away from the simple life I had envisioned and I am struggling to figure out how to get us back on track. So thank you. The "M" word is a scary, yet brave topic to address.

  30. AW hun..take no always get one that tries to ruin your day..hopefully they might reflect upon what they said and realize it was hurtful and apologize..doubtful but you never know...

  31. I think it is very brave of you to share such personal information and it should prove very helpful to people who are trying to live the same lifestyle you have adopted. I have often wished that there was some kind of seniors network where such information is shared. We can all use tips on how to save money and use what we have more efficiently. Good for you!!

  32. I, fortunately, was able to read your original post, as it was delivered to my Google Reader account. I appreciate both your original post and and this one, because they open a dialogue and offer up examples for something I often wonder about when reading others' blogs: money. I'm not necessarily pursuing a homesteading lifestyle, but wouldn't rule it out it in the future. I appreciate your honesty and forthrightness in broaching a topic that is "off limits". The thing I appreciate about the blog community is the opportunity to learn from others' stories and experiences. There is no one "right" way to live a simpler life, but relish the privilege of gleaning information that suits my life from what others are willing to share. Right now my family faces a decision about remaining a one-income family or becoming a one and a half income family. I'm not sure that the extra money would even compare to the things we would have to give up in terms of lifestyle and family, should I take a part-time job.

    No situation is perfect, and every family is forced to make sacrifices. Learning from each other sometimes brings clarity in what those decisions should be.

    I would highly recommend the book Radical Homemakers (I plan to re-read it soon) for examples of lots of different and creative ways to live a simpler life.

    Thank you, Tonya, for bringing up this subject!

  33. I'm SO glad you didn't leave. I worried after I saw the post gone. I love reading about your details. It helps put things in perspective. If we could ever get rid of our stupid debt then our goal will be to bring hubby home too. Please don't go anywhere. I need to read blogs like yours to stay inspired!! I too can never find articles, blogs, etc... that give the HOW of self sufficiency not just the what. I think we need more of what you share not less!!

  34. I feel sadened that you have had such negative words spoken to you! I feel we all have choices and while we may think they are extreme they are not for us to judge. I know your religious beliefs are more towards the Quaker way. What is wrong with that? Nothing, If I am a christian saved by grace then no matter my religion or title, Should I judge, I to know that my husband works hard and we pay taxes just like the next person. I do not feel like my husband works to take care of others with his taxes he pays. I do feel these are goverment reliefs that are put in place to help those in need. I am thankful you cared enough to use the program. Also I feel it is well deserved. My life is simple I am trying to learn more about living off the land. I am a stay at home mom to one now , but at one time I had three. God did not want us to have more children.God loves us all no matter our choices. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalms 121:1,2. I do hope this encourages you and helps you stay true our savior and your convictions. Many people do not no longer understand when a family desires to serve the our savior in a more strict fashion. They immediatly think that it is neglect or something other. They think you are lazy and just do not want to do! Well I disagree I came from a strict family. I at one time lived so strict,my family was accused of the same. May we live in peace and I do hope you have a great support group helping you, in your area. Today if we are not strict in our thinking imagine what would happen to our children? I love you in christ and I love your blog, so I hope you never delete it. I also hope you are feeling well with your pregnacy.

  35. Bravo Tonya!
    I did catch yesterday's post and anonymous's thoughtless remarks. I don't understand people that feel the need to make nasty comments and then are too chicken to leave their name.
    Anyway, love your blog, love your newsletter and I admire you and your husband for all the hard work you put into your lives every single day. I love your honesty!
    Sending lots of blessings your way:)

  36. Thank you for reposting Tonya. I came to read yesterdays post but it had already been deleted.

    I think there are many of us who follow your blog who find inspiration in your posts. We live a financially poor life following a car accident which left my husband with life long disabilities. We live in a different country where we do not have the right to sue, so we rely on government compensation.

    To your anonymous poster, please do not judge until you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes. Many of us have not chosen this lifestyle but rather have chosen to make the most of it, to embrace the simplicity rather than wishing for what we do not have.

  37. Yesterday's post was refreshingly honest, thank you for posting it. Your family's situation is a testament to the fact that it is possible to live on a lot less than we think we "need." I always look forward to your blog post. Take care.

  38. Tonya, we have been a self-employed family for twenty years. It's hard, I know. But I also know that when you really get down to it, one doesn't need a lot. There have been years when we only made $10,000. Thank goodness for chickens and a garden. But you know what, we survived. My children never went hungry nor were they bored because we couldn't afford all the lasted tech games. I now only have two children at home so things are a little different. Well, at least I have less clothes on the line. I do wish SC had your insurance rates. I feel that God puts us all in different places and he alone is the one that matters. Blessings to you.

  39. Tonya - I'm sorry someone left such a thoughtless comment. I hope it doesn't prevent you from posting honestly in the future. I appreciate your candor.
    It's amazing what hurtful things people will say when they don't have to put their name to it.

  40. there is someone going around on lots of blogs I read posting controversial and upsetting comments, so your not the only one this has happened too. I think these people do it to get attention. Please keep up with your posts, I know I may not comment often but I enjoy reading your blog about your loving family and try not to let silly comments bother you. No one should judge anyone until they have walked in their shoes.

  41. Dear friend Tonya:
    I am glad you shared the post now...I did not get a chance to read the original one but I see no issue with the state would get it regardless in your state. If "anonymous" doesn't like that then maybe he/she should contact their state representative. That would be the 'adult' thing to do.
    The second would be to post his/her name...I mean, really? Hide behind an 'anonymous' moniker while complaining? Grow up!
    Ok. I have had my 'fleshly rant'.
    Prayer was the best thing to do...take it to the Lord, He knows what's going on and is always willing to listen, to give us His's the best place to be found when you find yourself under assualt.
    Unfortunately, there are people in this world who live to antagonize, demand their way or the highway or are just so full of themselves, that they take it out on others....I feel sorry for be so utterly lost and angry...very sad indeed.
    Moderate your comments and no 'Anons' indeed....use the delete button for those who are unkind...this is YOUR blog, your life, YOU decide what comes into it just like you decide what comes into your home.

    I may not have money or jewels but I am loyal to my friends ;)

  42. Tonya, the inspiration you provide to so many people here on your blog is a huge gift- so many people appreciate your openness and honesty when you share how you live this beautiful life of yours- I am so sorry to hear of someone's ignorant and cruel remarks made to you.
    I am very happy you came back with your post- and that you're still here with us.
    love to you~

  43. Tonya,

    I have learned that people wanting to be anonymous rarely have anything productive to say. Why not stand by one's words?!

    Many nations are advanced enough that they offer some sort of health insurance coverage. Health insurance could be much more affordable if you wouldn't be charged $20 for a band-aid in the ER. Health insurance companies & the pharmaceutical industry make billions each year. It's all twisted.

    I support 3 children on about $22k, but my mortgage is much higher. I currently don't have health insurance as I can't afford it. To be able to spend more time with Nuriel, I'm "only" working 80% of a full-time job right now, thus I don't qualify for health insurance. I know that it is good for her that she's not away from me all day. She will be a healthier, more productive person one day.

    I would loose my house if I ever had a major medical need. Just gotta trust in the spiritual world.

    Much love to you!

    (E mail me if you are interested in more hand-me-downs. I have lots of boy stuff since Nuriel turned out to be a girl & I have been blessed with tons of hand-me-downs for her!)

  44. Well, it seems to me that you pay taxes just like the next person. I realize you may get more credits and such with having several children (as do I) which results in a refund, but the argument that someone else is "supporting you" while you do nothing is a weak argument and an ignorant statement. I appreciate your transparency, and find this post quite informative and helpful.

  45. Tonya, I'm just adding my voice to the chorus of voices thanking you for sharing your life here. If what you choose to share affronts a person or two, please know that there are many more of us who are inspired by you and your choices. My guess? "Anonymous" is probably just unsatisfied with their choices, and for some folks it's easier to lash out at others than to examine their own lives. Sadly, I doubt their comments had anything to do with you at just got in the wave of their general bitterness. Not that it makes it any easier to bear their words.
    Best to you and yours,

  46. I read your original post but didn't comment. I'm an American ex-pat living in Quebec, and people here are absolutely appalled at the lack of health care in the States. They can't even comprehend how we could have a system that doesn't provide free insurance for everyone. Also, in Quebec, 100% of families, regardless of income, receive $100 a month per child until their children turn six years old for child care expenses.

    And all families earning under something like $40,000 get monthly payments on a sliding scale (income-based) to assist in raising their children. No one thinks there is anything wrong with it, and people believe it is their government's duty to make sure everyone is taken care of. People are happy to have their taxes go to these programs.

    The mentality about these things in the States is really crazy.

  47. I'm so glad you were able to re - post this.
    I don't need to tell you that you are raising the future of your nation in your children and also that your lifestyle is completely justified. Perhaps the anon. commenter is jealous!
    Keep up the good work. God bless.


  48. Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry that rude people float around the blog-world, leaving rude comments! I have read your blog for a long time (a silent stalker I guess that makes me) but just had to jump in, to send a hug and tell you not to let that rudeness under your skin! It's amazing how many people don't realize that you can work a good job and still qualify for various aid, because of what the gov't determines as needy. My hubby and I work full-time at a children's home, as houseparents. We make plenty of money and yet our kids, thankfully, can qualify for medicaid, saving us over $400 a month. Hang in there :) and keep on deleting those rude comments!

  49. I am so sorry someone posted unkind comments on your blog. I read that post and thought it was wonderful, and could tell you put a lot of thought and care into what assistance you do and do not accept. Children need health insurance. Families with a lower income need that tax return to get by. Jaimie's comments from Quebec are a real eye-opener as to how different our health care system is from other countries. I wholeheartedly believe that you are doing the right thing by striving to build a good life on less.

  50. I have to add my voice to the chorus that says I'm glad you're still here. Chiska

  51. Anonymous posters online can really drive me crazy, too! They can be soooo rude! But you know what, I don't believe for a second that person actually truly felt that way. They are obviously uneducated, mean, grumpy, and jealous of what a sweet, kind, light you are! It was just self absorbed jealousy talking. They don't deserve your time.

  52. I'm so glad you reposted Tonya, I'd been wondering where you were this week! I've been reading your blog for about 7 months now, and am so inspired by what you've done, and what you're doing. We're about to make a different, but similar change, and it's hard to find info on people consciously choosing not to make as much money as you could. peace to you as you continue your journey!!

  53. I am proud to say that I know you. (well, sort of in a very distant way...). I am envious of your chosen lifestyle. You have proven that it is possible to life a simpler life with less. One day, that is my hope.
    Stay strong, as I know you will. Ignore the nay-sayers.

  54. there is no one "right" way to live a life! From what I have read in the past few months I have followed your blog is a family making conscious decisions about what makes their life valuable together as a family. Congrats for following your hearts!
    As for the health care issues I really feel so badly for those of you in the US. I truly value our universal health coverage-what a gift to all work together to make sure no one is left out. I do wish your country the best as you take the first tentative steps towards what most other nations provide .

  55. Oh Tonya I need to give you HUGE hugs here. I am so so sorry for that anon. person. The same thing happened to me after I posted about our financial difficulties. I almost deleted mine, too. I got one anon. post that really, really hurt telling me to 'put my family first' *gasp* What?! That is what we already do!! Anyways, I just wanted to send you my love and support. Thank you for being so real and honest and AMAZING. I too would love to know more about how you do it b/c I think we both know I need the help.

  56. Hi Tonya
    Now I know why the link from my blog to yours didn't work yesterday...and I'm so sorry that someone was so offensive that you deleted your post. I became a follower of your blog last year because I found your posts so interesting, your values about family and home are like mine and I love the crafts that you write about! keep up the good work!

  57. I had an anonymous comment once. It infuriated me! Especially because I knew who said it. It recently happened again! If you have something to say, say it!! You should and will be held accountable for your words. I teach my children this. I also say if you feel you need to remain anonymous, keep your mouth shut.
    I am sorry this happened to you. I believe it is a person of low character who has derogatory a or disparaging remark and wants to remain anonymous.
    I made your little gnomes one last night and one today- my children love them!
    Keep up your hard work!!

  58. Tonya, we were sorry to hear about the negativity. I suppose sooner or later that will happen especially when you're not "going with the flow." Please stay the course, disregard the hate-speech and do what you think He's leading you to do. God bless you!

  59. Oh Tanya! I'm so sorry you had to deal with such an unpleasant response to your original post. I did get a chance to read it and was reflecting on it throughout the day today. I very much appreciated the candor. I grew up in a "poor" family and it never ceases to amaze me how people can make so much money and have so little. It blessed me to learn how your family lives (and made me all the gladder I bought buttons from you once!)

  60. Ugh. I'm so sorry I didn't get to read yesterday's post before you deleted it. It sounds like something right up my alley. You are further down the path my husband and I are beginning to feel called upon to travel, and I would have loved to read more. I was nodding my head through your recitation of what you did remember from yesterday and enjoying it very much.

    State health care is a hot-button topic. I can see both sides of the issue, but as a homeschooler I'm of the same frame of mind as you: more government assitance = more government control. That is most definitely not a good thing in my humble opinion. Freedom has a price, and I think we overindulged Americans have forgotten that as our generation hasn't had to pay the price... yet. I have a family member who is has Cystic Fibrosis and is looking at a double lung-heart transplant in the foreseeable future. He is at the top of the life-expectancy for this disease, and under national health care I fear he would be denied his right to said transplant. To deny that this is a viable path for our country is ridiculous. People from all over the world flock to the United States to receive superior health care - especially those over the border under national health care. Whatever side you fall on, you're sure to tick someone off. Take your stand and simply delete the comments - not your posts. You are standing up for your opinions and beliefs, and others stand with you.

    If you have yesterday's post tucked away somewhere secretly, I'd really like to glean from you... :)

    Have a lovely weekend~

  61. Dear Tonya,
    I missed your post yesterday so thank you for sharing it today. I also live in Vermont and am thankful (and proud of) our little state for making health insurance available for so many, especially our children.

  62. I, along with many others as I can see, am so very very appreciative of your willingness to talk about the dreaded "M" word. I think the biggest disservice is done when no one learns to talk about it or handle it and everyone hides from everyone else what money it really takes to create the lives depicted in these beautiful blogs. In order to trust the inspiration available, it is really helpful to have a financial reality check. I am honored that you felt you could share your personal finances with all of us. I wish I could meet you. Contact me if you ever come down south the the Banana Belt of Brattleboro!! and keep up the good work!


  63. I really appericiate your openess about this and also sorry to hear that people have the gull to come to your space and leave rude comments. i set mine to where you have to type in a code and await my publishing so that if I encounter anything unwanted I can delete it before any of my friends see it. It is down right rude. Just wanted to say I totally understand what you are going through. we too are in need of health care since my husband is in full time Seminary...I homeschool my kids and don't have work except for my Etsy shop which certainly doesn't pay the bills. So we have health care through the state for our children. Right now that is all I can do in case of emergencies. I have enjoyed your blog and reading your posts and want you to know how wonderful i think your family is, I see the Lord has provided and will surely continue to do so. I pray that once y Hubby gets a calling ( Lord willing) that we can live more off our own land too...for now we are renters in a Suburban area and can't keep chickens or goats let alone a nice garden... Blessings to you and yours. I promise i will not lurk all the time, I will stop in to say hey. Mica/The child's Paper

  64. I'm a 28 year old who looks to people like you for encouragement. I do not have children yet, but hopefully soon will have a family, and as I think about the lifestyle I want I am overwhelmed with the possibilities. Reading your blog is inspiring. It helps me see that I can live the simple life I want to live- so please don't delete your blog, or stop writing. I may not comment most of the time, but I read every post you write because what you have to say is important.

  65. Hi Tonya,

    I'm Sara. Followed the link on Frontier Dream's post to your blog. You're not alone and there is no shame in getting health care for your babies.

    We're on Medicaid ourselves. As well as food stamps and WIC. Not that this is anything unusual in Michigan where 1 in 3 persons are on some form of Public Assistance.

    My husband made 24 K last year. We are a much smaller family than yours though---just one little one so far...

    Your post humbled me because sometimes I start to feel sorry for myself when I see the more affluent moms that seem to dominate our college town. Expensive hair cuts. New crossver vehicles. Fancy strollers and toddlers in 40 dollar onesies. A house in walking distance to the charming downtown. The ability to pay for 20K Waldorf curriculum without batting an eyelash.

    Financial security aside, I never actually wanted that lifestyle! Yet, I struggle with jealousy that makes me forget the riches I do have. The wonderful husband with a steady income (when so many are out of work.) The beautiful son. Relatives nearby.

    3 thrift shops that specialize in little one's clothes in my area. Several all purpose thrift stores too! The wonderful online resources for Waldorf, frugality, and natural parenting.

  66. Dear Tonya. I read your post and almost commented on "Anonymous" replies, in defense of you but deleted that part of my comment. It made the mama-bear in me growl! Be encouraged...there's many of us who applaud you for your choices and inspire to be just like you when we grow up :-)

  67. Amen mama, thank you for sharing this despite the nasty comment. I for one really appreciate the honesty of your finances as it is something I wonder about too, and while information on this sort of 'alternative' lifestyle seems to be slowly increasing in availability it is only doing so because of brave souls such as yourself who are willing to share, so thank you!!

  68. Hi Tonya, so glad you decided to carry on your blog, I love reading about what you and your family is up to. I read quite a few simple living/ self sufficiency blogs and when the M issue is raised it can be so helpful to learn how others are thriving on lower incomes as well as getting tips and new ideas. Keep up the good work! xx:)

  69. I really like sharing this sort of info. I find it very constructive and am thankful that you are putting it out there. Seems to me that to find fault is to be struggling with their own issues.

  70. Tonya, I am trying very hard to simplify our life and live more sustainably. I have dreams of living the way you do and am making many small steps in that direction. You are a constant inspiration to me and when there are days that you don't post anything new, I reread old posts to refresh my beliefs. I have bought some of the books you have been reading and have learnt a lot from them too.

    For now, we cannot survive without help from the government (UK) but I am working one step at a time to become more independent from that. If it weren't for that help, all my energy would have to go into providing the next meal and so on and I wouldn't have any energy left to develop money saving skills such as sewing, fixing and baking.

    It seems that many people here are keen to discuss ways we can change out attitudes to money and also ways to use money more sensibly and kidnly.

    Thank you for raising this courageous topic and for all your inspiration.


  71. Hi, i'm a serial lurker, but would really like to comment today.
    I live in England and so health insurance here is mainly for the wealthy, thanks to the NHS. Our benefits system is heavily utilised, especially at this difficult time, and i have noticed that people are very quick to say if they pay taxes they are somehow supporting people that are too "lazy" to earn their own money. I on the other hand feel that it is honourable to support our community, and would hate for anyone to not have the resources they need in life. There are few people who would choose the poverty that our benefits system inflicts on people in need over earning enough, and to be able to survive on this, good luck to them. We all need help (moneywise) at times, and i like to think we all "put back" at times also. We all make choices and prioritise and we all answer to ourselves for these choices. As parents we do our best and provide what we believe is needed. Its not for me to say who is right or wrong, just to say that we should value eachother and recognise that we all contribute to the world in any number of ways, i'd hate to be contributing financially but being poisonous at the same time.
    i admire your honesty,consistency, and your choices, you have my upmost respect.
    good luck to you, lexie, uk.

  72. Thanks for reposting this, Tonya. I'm very sorry that you had some anonymous comments that made you consider leaving our community. I greatly admire your choices and respect the decisions you've made regarding how you raise your family. When you mentioned Soulemama in your previous post, I remember thinking that negativity is exactly why she doesn't reveal any more than she does about their living situation. I've seen first hand a few brutal comments posted to her, Grace (of UncommonGrace) and The Little Travelers blog. It's really sad that people just lurk to be judgmental. :( Lots of love to your family, Tonya! xoxo

  73. I just want to thank you for both of these posts on money. As you said, it's hard to find down to earth, honest information on finances and how others make things work. We're still in the thinking, dreaming and research phase of this journey and information like this is very valuable to us right now.

  74. The thing about saying that working folks suport those who are living off the grid is preposterous. It's a system we are in...a sick one at that, that has set us up to feed corporate America. I'd rather see the gov't helping PEOPLE than bailing out irresponsible corporations. We ALL need to take responsibility for ourselves!!!! Praise God that your family is living so consciously. You are an inspiration and example to us all.

  75. I am so sorry for missing your original post! But I am here to say that I know exactly what you mean. BUT we need to band "new" thinkers. I have been meaning to email you to talk more of money and such and just how it is for your family, because you know we are at a similar figure. Although we are at a breaking point, heading your way, (finally!), it is posts like these that give me hope, that yes we can do it too and it will be okay, that we do not need to sit here and drown under a mortgage and such. Although there are people out that that just dont quite get it, just know that they are at their own place of knowing. It may not be the same as ours, hence the not getting it, however for them, they may be dealing with their own struggles which is where they need to be. I don't like to see anonymous negativity, but I want you to know that the kinds of posts like you wrote help a lot of people. So don't let one commenter get you down. I say put that post back up and delete the negativity = Let your brightness shine, while removing the parts you do not want to see. Blessings to you and your wonderful family!!

    Love, Lisa

  76. I just wanted to comment to add my support. Like many other commenters, I also thought that your original post was both brave and honest.
    Our family is also very interested in the self sustainable, homesteading life.
    One day we dream to pursue a similar path.
    A blog should be a place where we can be authentic and true to ourselves.
    Please don't be put off by the negativity of one or two people. Your blog is one that inspires, it has a lovely gentle atmosphere and I have often enjoyed spending time here.
    Sending Love

  77. Dear Tonya,
    I missed your original post and was so saddened to read that this anonymous person had caused you to doubt the worth of your blog! It would be a terrible loss if you stopped your blog for such a reason.

    I think that person has a very narrow view of economics. Sure, we all have to deal in terms of money. But we give and take in so many other ways! As I see it, you and your husband are contributing to society by raising fine children with strong values. You're setting and example and showing a way forward for other people who want to try to get away from the consumerist-oriented life. You're generously showing us your family life, your beliefs, your beautiful home. You're showing your children that giving (money, but so much else as well) is a bedrock principle of life. All these contributions are beyond a monetary value.

    Money changes value, governments change systems, and we can only operate within the sytem as it exists where we are at a particular moment in time. What you are doing in your life is focusing on those values that are never-changing. Good for you and please don't let anyone cause you to doubt yourself in that respect! Have a happy weekend. x

  78. I really enjoy your blog and hope to continue to be blessed by having an opportunity to read it. I am a mother of three and have read your blog and purchased from your natural earth farm site and esty since my children were toddlers now 8,10 yr old boys and also 16 month daughter that I am raising with my partner (their father) of 11 years. You have been a distant support system since I found your site and started reading your blog. I mention support system because for over a decade now I have been simplifying our lifestyle as much as possible regarding food, income, and using limited energy resources. I don't always get positive feedback from friends and family. Your blog helps me remember I am not alone. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

  79. Hi Tonya,

    I have to admit that this has caused me to stop and really think.
    We too chose to move to a rural area to raise our boys (and it was a very good decision). My husband worked as a carpenter and I did child day care. We planted a huge garden and ate from it and canned or froze it for the winter.

    We did not have health insurance. Our youngest son became very ill and had to be hospitalized and then a few months later I needed emergency surgery... Needless to say we had some real debt. We paid $50.00 a month to the hospitals until the debt was paid.

    My husband asked me to go back to work to help with our finances so I did. I was blessed to find a job at a school that offered health insurance for the nine months of school and then we had to pay the premium out of pocket through the summer, about $300.00 monthly and that was in the late 1980’s so a lot of $$.

    We continued to raise a huge garden and put by our own food and work full time jobs.

    All that said. If our state had offered health insurance would I have taken it and stayed home with my boys? I think I would have. Would someone else have had to pay for that? Yes, in truth someone else would have been paying for my family to have health care.
    Robin from the Roost

  80. what an inspiration you are, tonya! blessings to you all! and thank you for being here.

  81. I appreciate your honesty!

    I, too, was saddened by the lack of financial advice in switching to a simple/rural lifestyle. How do people buy land? How do they get started? I wish that money wasn't such a taboo subject and that when people *did* open up about it that others wouldn't sit there and judge!

  82. Dear Tonya, I commend you for being so honest. We too live with some very minimal state assistance, which we could not do without, but I do not feel guilty for accepting it, despite our choices as we both work very hard, my husband at a manual job and me part time as a home childcarer. We fritter none of the money money and live very frugally. As we home educate our children and do not take up 'free funded nursery places' that all children are entitled to in the UK, regardless of family income, then I don't consider that we merely take. Please give the thoughtless poster no more consideration, you are one of very many whom accept a small amount for the sake of their children. There are people who live on benefits and revel in not-working and 'scrounging' as we call it in the UK, but you are definatley not one of them. I hope that you feel more peaceful now, especially after the lovely messagesw that have been left for you! Hugs, Jenni

  83. Dear Tonya,
    I love your blog. It gives a clear picture of you and your husband as hard-working people who love your family and are seeking to follow God's will for your lives. It is great that you share what goes into your life, rather than just glossy photos as so many do. Issues of modesty, dealing with unwanted gifts, finances, birthday joys, shaping children's values, praying over problems, etc. are all things that so many of us need to hear as they are really the fabric of life, rather than the surface. Your blog is uplifting and such a blessing. Don't let the occasional crank get you down!

  84. P.S. It is very obvious that you work!! You not only are a full time mom but have a business as well. You pay taxes just as the rest of us do. I hope that my previous comment didn't come across as condemning - that was not the intent. I think for me it was more soul searching than anything. Thanks for being so honest and bearing your soul. God knows who you are and He is the only one that you need to please. Not me or an anonymous poster.
    Best Regards,
    Robin from the Roost

  85. People do tend to get so uncomfortable about the "M" word don't they? But it doesn't help bring to light the why and how of life. I appreciated your honesty in that now deleted post. It made me realize that money does not mean better marriages, or parenting. I lost my full time teaching job a year and a half ago. We lost our home in a short sale shortly after that. We now rent, and in many ways so much happier because I can devote more time to our family. My own parents went through some terrible economic times in the nineties when I was in high school. I look back on it now and realize that it helped me focus on meaningful relationships, hard work, conservation, and faith. It shaped me for the better. You are giving your children a priceless gift- one that is far more nourishing than name brand shoes, movies, or other things. You truly cannot buy love.

  86. Dear Tonya,
    I started reading your blog when I discovered it on a link at the Farmama blog. Your thinking and way of life is along the lines of mine presently and what I would like for it to be in the future. People who say such mean and hurtful things are just bitter themselves. They may want a life like yours or long to be able to be home with their kids. We could all do to learn more about our history. Before there was welfare, those who had more were expected, and trusted, to give to those who had less. In the days that we all willingly helped each other, there was no need for welfare. So, instead of being hurtful and indignant, perhaps Mr or Mrs Annonymous should remember that we are all supposed to help each other. It is what the government enforces and what God meant for us all.

    Hugs and many prayers to you and your family. Thank you for sharing your life with us all. I enjoy being able to learn from all of your experiences.

  87. Hi Tonya,
    I'm so very sorry you had an anonymous commenter like that. As other commenters have said before me, your family journey and blog are an inspiration and encourgement to so many others, in so many different ways. You are a blessing.
    God bless you and your family on your plain and joyful living path,

  88. Vermont has amazing health insurance for families! Even those who make a pretty good living. The help is there for you. Our culture is so wrapped up in working more to get more, it's sad. Women find breastfeeding their babies too inconvenient while working full time...I feel very lucky that I never had to. I do have to work and admire anyone who is finding a way to live more on their own away from the consumerism that binds so many down. Hurray for you, and ENJOY the help Vermont has for you. I miss living there a great deal:)

  89. I read the original post in google reader too, and can't imagine why anyone would criticize you. I was just looking forward to learning more about how you stay within your budgets and such. We have lots of debt from college loans, and are trying so hard to pay them off more quickly than the thirty year plan we are on, but find it really hard!

  90. Tonya,
    How brave and wonderful to share your truths here. How devastating to get a rude comment from someone so thoughtless. Here in MA, everyone is required to carry health insurance - our premium is over $700/mo for a family of free - thank God, we get it all paid back through a state program, since we make little income, like yourself. I think the premiums are outrageous, not folks like ourselves who can't afford them. (Not to mention that I imagine you, like us, rarely go to the doctor!).
    On a much happier note, congrats on your new baby coming! We have a new one on the way as well. Yours in fellowship and simplicity,

  91. Our story, while not the same as yours is still like yours all the same.

    My husband didn't lose his job.

    Our dream wasn't of the homesteading variety.

    Instead, we welcomed a medically fragile child with special needs into our family 6 weeks early.

    On Parker's first Life Flight up to Primary Children's Hospital, I remember thinking how grateful I was to have insurance. And the ads that PCMC ran at the time talked about accepting what a family or their insurance could pay.

    Yeah. Right.

    In the first 3 years of Parker's life we blew through our savings, our kids college funds and came within inches of losing our home.

    Because being a middle class family who's husband has a job and insurance was the very WORST position we could be in.

    (I was told that if one of my other kids got pregnant, strung out on drugs, etc. that Parker would qualify for DSPD earlier.)

    It meant the hospital calling up to Parker's room demanding partial payment before they even sent anything into our insurance company.

    Friends rallied and held fundraisers for Parker. But when your CO-PAYS are $2-3,000 a MONTH there simply aren't enough fundraisers a family can have to keep their child alive.

    It wasn't until Parker was trached and placed on a vent that he qualified for any waiver assistance.

    And even with our insurance AND the waiver, we still put out a lot of money to keep Parker going.

    While I could look to the government to cover Parker's very expensive formula as well as his diapers, I instead choose to create a blenderized diet for him as well as cloth diaper him.

    I am well aware of the blessing this waiver is and I try to tread as lightly on it as I can.

    We've been learning how to adapt in place on our little 1/3 of an acre.

    We got really serious about our garden. I can. I dehydrate. I glean unwanted fruits and veggies. I shop yard sales.

    We do without. And it's okay.

    We have credit cards full of medical detbt that we'll be paying on for the rest of our lives.

    I've had people telling me that the Medicaid Waiver Parker is on is nothing less than me robbing them by gunpoint.

    We aren't lazy. My husband works two jobs and I have a small job I work online. My older kids pay their own way for clothes and college, etc. Up until we had Parker we were always the ones doing the giving.

    Social infrastructure was created for those among us that can't do for themselves. Like Parker.

    I refuse to allow my child to die in order to satisfy someone else's idea of a constitutional stance.

    Stand strong.

    Tammy and Parker

  92. I read the original post in my google reader, and was so disappointed when I came here to comment and realized it had been deleted. I'm so glad you re-posted it! I'm working hard on living well with less money, and I wish that more people whose lifestyles I admire were as open about money as you are. The financial stuff is the hardest to simplify, and I would love more guidance! Thank you for your courage and your honesty. You're inspiring.

  93. Mean people stink. Don't let anyone steal your joy!

    Many hugs,


  94. I am so sorry someone was nasty to you :( Please dont ever shut your blog down! You have been such an inspiration to me. I love your handwritten newsletter I get, I have the heart hanging in my bedroom :) and we have several items from your Etsy shop that I treasure dearly. The blogging world would have a great loss if you left :(

  95. Tonya,
    I also saw your original post in my reader and wondered where it had gone when I went onto your site to comment. I appreciate your honesty and openness very much - and my husband and I have both been encouraged to hear of your journey.
    I found your blog about a year ago and have thought of your family often after I read about how you came to be where you are today. My husband and I have homesteading dreams and are praying for the right time to make more of those changes in our family. While we wait it is so good to hear of others' experiences and I'm thankful that you so candidly answer many of those, "How?", questions that we wonder about.

  96. Thank you for posting this again! I really appreciate your honesty (and each of your posts!), especially as my husband and I are trying to figure out how to live life intentionally. I dream of living like you all do, and it is a delight to be able to read about your day to day.

  97. I must say, living in Los Angeles I experience my own frustrations toward many who expect and receive assistance, simply because they had a child in this country. Sorry for the mini rant, apologies to anyone I may offend...however you do not strike me as the kind of people who simply want to be taken care of. You seem to be conscientious, hard working, responsible people who have chosen a simpler path for your family and fallen on some slim times, as a lot of us have. In my opinion we should have health care for everyone. I am forced to pay 2,000.00 a month for minimal and I do mean minimal health coverage and it is killing us financially. In this country we force hard working people into poverty by our systems or lack there of and then criticize and judge them because they need assistance. Kudos to you for handling that judgement in such a dignified, non judgmental way.

  98. what a yucky thing to do - launching that negativity and leaving, without so much as signing a name.

    sorry this happened to you.

    i admire you for being true to yourself and being real. that counts for a whole lot, and your genuine honesty and sharing is a gift to yourself, your family and those who share alongside with you.

    i'm glad you decided to keep going in this venue, and send you many smiles, from my pregnant belly to yours.

  99. Thank you for sharing your story. There is such beauty in living with simplicity. I lift my hat to you.

  100. It's your blog, no one has the right to judge, only the "big guy" is going to do that! It's too bad that people feel the need to make others feel bad. And I'll be frank, the US lack of basic health care for all is something I just don't understand, can you tell I'm from Canada ;)

    The thought of being self sufficient and family focused, that is something that I do understand. I'm married to a military man, and I don't work outside the home. My youngest is in school full time and I'm getting tired of people telling me that I can "now get back to work", I thought I was working....again people putting judgements on others...
    Keep true to YOUR values, and it'll work out in the end.

  101. Hi Tonya,

    I appreciate your honesty in your writing, and am sorry that such a negative person was able to hurt you and get under your skin. They have no right to offer an opinion on your lifestyle, as they are not you. I live in Canada, and reading through the other comments on this has made me very sad and grateful at the same time. In Canada, no one ever complains about paying into a system that supports others who are unable to afford health care on their own. I pay $60 a month, which is determined by my income. If I make less one year, I pay less, and no one ever looks at it as if they are having to suuport me because I can't be bothered to work. Everyone is in it together. When I am ill, I never have to be worried about paying for anything. My boyfriend recently had major surgery (removal of his kidney). We were in the hospital for more than 2 weeks, had several emergency room visits, prescriptions, etc. We did not pay a penny out of pocket. I cannot imagine going through all of the stress of having to go through surgery and the emotional burden and then have to think about how we were going to pay for all of it. No offence to any Americans, but your system is really, truly backwards, and needs a complete overhaul. I hope to be able to read more of your posts, as they are truly refreshing.


  102. Good idea about deleting annonymous comments. If they don't have the balls to speak what they feel and claim it, they shouldn't say it!!! You are claiming what you speak and feel so be proud of that. I'm glad you didn't delete your blog b/c of that person. So many of us would miss out on it just because one person had to be rude, mean, and bitter.

  103. Thank you for being honest with your readers, I know it mustn't be easy.

  104. I have truly enjoyed your blog and follow it on a daily bases, watching and admiring what you and your family are doing. I live in the material world and feel that I am to old to do anything else so I tend to live through others that have achieved what I desire. Stay true to yourself.

  105. I am so glad you reposted. I had a sick feeling someone had said something mean or thoughtless. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. That person's opnions stem from the old "I can decide who deserves what and who does enough for me." This is the same as the idea and politics of selfishness and paucity. We are all in the same boat together. I find myself annoyed that this person wasn't even brave enough to identify his or herself when you are all out there for everyone to see. I try hard not to be judgmental of intolerance, and this one really challenged me. So I will chalk it up to "what an interesting way for someone to behave." Selfishly, I learn so much from you. Thank you for living your life and being such a wonderful and positive part of our society!
    xo Angela

  106. Tonya
    I admire and respect everything you have shared with us here. I applaud you for your honesty, integrity and generally your positive attitude.
    We have gone from being a two waged, high powered, strung out, corporate, commercial family to being one modest waged (from OXFAM a major NGO here in the UK whose mission is to fight poverty) over the last 7 years. What we have gained along the way is a happy home educating, child respecting stable family who knows the value of a pound and shares whatever we have with those around us. We sleep at night, and we laugh and love. What we lost along the way was many narrow minded, money driven people who we believed to be friends. I offer positive healing to them from the source each and everyday. I love the way we live our life, and when it gets to the end of the month and the bank is empty I know we have everything we need right here. ANd when the crunch comes there is always someone or something around the corner that provides just what we need, even if its not what we think we need.

  107. I read the comments above, and agree with Brenna from Canada! I'm Canadian too, and I never take our so-called "socialist" health care system for granted. My baby had open heart surgery at 3 months; we spent two weeks in hospital, visit cardiology yearly till she's 18, and haven't paid a cent out of pocket. When I think of people on government assistance, I just feel that I'm doing what some people can't because of various things: my parents could afford to send me to university so that I have a job that allows me to support our small farm. I feel blessed, and never give a thought to people who aren't "earning their keep"....I know they face worse challenges than mine (ie. getting up and being able to go to a job I love and that pays me)...
    I once had an anonymous comment that was very snarky. It really shook me up to be judged unfairly, and to be attacked in what is a generally a place of encouragement and support. You can set your comments on blogger to not allow anonymous comments...
    I'm sorry you've gone through this and think your response was so poised and classy...not attacking back, but steadfastly restating what you believe in. Good for you! You have chosen to go without a lot of what "working" people choose to have: gadgets, new furniture, etc. I put working in quotes as we all know how much work a farmer/mother/homeschooler actually does!
    Love and blessings to you and your family, from Canada.

  108. My prayers are with the person that made the original comment and those like them that can not see the big picture. I hope that in time they come to understand that hard work, like that of your family and others, is contributing to our society in ways immeasurable by dollars and cents. I wish you and your family all the best and thank you for continuing to share your family's story with us all.

  109. I'm so glad you reposted.
    I'm in Canada...we're so lucky here to have a health care system that's free to all...I don't know how we would manage if we had health insurance payments on top of what we already carry financially.
    When I think of what families in the US have to endure, it really makes me sick, (the health care situation, poor maternity leave, etc...) I LOVE reading about families like yours...people who live with such intention and love. The life you lead with your family is enviable...I hope you help many others to see the "possibilites", to see that they too can live on less, grow their own, think outside the box. I am thankful that you share with us in the way you do...with such honesty and humbleness.
    You lead a blessed life...we all see it, and I hope you will continue to share with an open heart.
    Many blessings to you and your family!
    xo maureen

  110. Dear Tonya,

    I read the first "M" post and wrote a little comment but the server was having some trouble I think and I couldn't post my comment. I came back later to try again and I couldn't find it anymore.
    I figured you recieved some unrespectfull comments about it but I was planning to send you a private mail with my comment.

    Not neccessairy anymore. :-)

    Although we don't live the same goals, I do get a lot of inspiration from you and your family. I have lots of respect for the choice you all made to live a life like this. Your blog is truly a wonderful place to visit. Its a true and honest blog, I appreciate this, you don't cover everything up in a layer of glitter, which I sometimes experience at other blogs.

    Don't let others make you think differently. Be yourself, you are wonderful.


  111. This was very enlightening. I struggle with the thought that we could live on less. My husband has a hard time with it too. I wish he could be home with us but the idea that more money will make things easier, better, nicer is hard to get rid of. But we're trying.

    Thank you for the post. I look forward to hearing more.

  112. Dear Tonya,
    You were dealt a hard blow in these economic times. You have decided to become more self sufficient. It is apparent that you work hard and live on a shoestring. You have made beauty through a tough time. You and your family will be closer because of your decision. Kudos to you.
    With respect,
    Robin from the Roost

  113. Tonya there are literally hundreds of us who enjoy your blog and everyone learns a little more from each other all the time. That person is coming from a place of personal anger and frustration within their own life. By remaining anonymous they are even hiding the true source of their problems from themselves. They will read these comments and bluster and justify to themselves but I really hope they too do some praying and soul searching and take the brave step here and turn around and do what they need to do to take back their life.
    Naturally one cannot post in depth about a subject of finances as it could end up as long as a piece of string. You have delivered a synopsis and a brave one. The bigger picture here is more than your income and your part welfare. The other side of the coin is your production and contribution. Your lifestyle choices also serve to lessen the burdens on society in many ways. My sadness is that the anonymous commentator failed to see the net worth. My guess here too is that you are bringing well rounded and beautiful and clever children into the world to be citizens we can be proud of. That too is the contribution you make and should no less valued.
    Love to you and your family,

  114. Tonya, I am seriously in awe reading this post on how little that you live on. I seriously think you should be commended and giving us all lessons, instead of receiving hateful words. Your blog is always uplifting and I never hear you complaining of how little you live on. I also always see the entire family hard at work, not watching TV & drinking beer while waiting for the govt. paycheck to come. So thank you for your honesty, I'm so impressed with how you cheerfully live on less.

  115. Tonya,
    I would love to know your family's thoughts on retirement and retirement savings. Our own opinions are contrary to "common" wisdom to invest, invest, invest because right now we are heavily investing in family life (our spiritual legacy) and simply can't do both (lack the funds and lack the time to make more money to invest for retirement because we are investing in our children).

    I am very reluctant to discuss this with people because most people, even those who support simple living drill home the importance of retirement savings (investing a large chunk of your earnings).

    What are your thoughts?

  116. Tonya,
    For many years I worked with the poor in inner city areas and one of the worst things I found were those who didn't take benefits from the city/state/feds because they couldn't accept "charity"... well my dear, an old lady I was taking a hot home-bound church meal to told me something that changed how I looked at things - she told me that it isn't charity unless you think it is - look at all the years that they paid into the system, taxes, ss, health benefits, etc. They worked to make other's lives better, for all jobs do just that in one way or another. There comes a time in everyone's life when hard times hit, to be able to take 1 or 2 or 10 years and take back a little bit of what you paid into the system isn't wrong, it isn't charity - its "tit-for-tat"...
    You two paid into all the systems, you paid your dues, now you simply want to live quietly and raise your family properly. I don't see myself working to pay for you, or anyone else in that situation - I see myself working to pay for the wars, the corrupt government, the ripping off of everyone who pays taxes - I see myself gladly helping those families who need it, for just as long as they need it, as I would hope someone would feel if it was me on the other side. I'm 65 and looking at retirment - with no savings to speak of, no pension, just SS... It won't be much but since I will be at the top of the ladder, it will about $2,000 a month - and you are raising 6(almost 7) children on that - so you see, I'm blessed! I will begin downsizing, doing without vacations, cutting coupons, looking at the most inexpensive supplement health insurance when my medicaid begins in about 9 months - then I'll work for another year or two to build up a bit of savings (for an emergency)... I will have worked my entire life, raised a wonderful daughter alone, put her through college and law school, and I am looking forward to "going as much off grid as possible"...
    Bless you ALL my dear, keep up the good work, keep blogging about it - I LOVE reading your blogs and seeing your pictures and wishing I was there to help you...

  117. I too have deleted a post before because I stepped outside my normal blogging and gave a bit of me, it is painful to be slapped in the face by a hurtful comment. I am glad you were brave and wrote it again. I Australia everyone gets free medical care regardless of income - those who earn more do pay a percentage levy in their tax tho - as a result private health insurance is quite expensive because many think it is crazy to pay twice. private insurance is struggling for members and paying most of their benefits to healthy women having interventionist births and older people having knee and hip replacements!

  118. This is my first time reading your blog, I followed a link over from "Frontier Dream." It has literally taken me all day to find the time to read ALL the comments on this post. You sure have touched a lot of folks lives! I agree that you were brave to talk finances. A lot of people don't want to hear that, I think they probably wince at the implication that they ought to feel more grateful for what they have. I immensely respect your honesty and transparency. Our small family of five also gets by on little and relies on a little help to make it. I have found it is the only way for us to focus our lives on building a strong family and healing from things outside our control. I don't believe it's possible to build a healthy life amidst today's rat race, and I REALLY don't think it's possible to heal your life without stepping aside from it all. We have a hard time sharing our financial position with family and friends because of all the reactions you and your readers have mentioned. It gives me all that much more respect for you, for saying it for us. Thank you for this post and good luck on your journey!

  119. Love your newly discovered blog! Thank you so much for sharing your life and enriching others by doing so.
    Granted you may not "work outside the home," in contrast to the "Sour Grapes" Commenter, but, should rest easy knowing that you are able to contribute so much more to God, Society, and Country by the difficult path you have chosen. Your lifestyle gives a whole new meaning to "work," and industry, and the way you choose to raise up children contributes more to Society's well-being than some will readily acknowledge. Whatever gifts you receive by way of tax breaks, or refunds, should be merely considered a miniscule compensation for your handiworks, and contributions to a better future for us all.
    Thank you so much for your ongoing faith and efforts! Do not be discouraged...when casting so many "pearls," one can't help but hitting a few "swine" along the way. Best to you!

  120. being open and honest about your finances is a brave thing. half the people out there who think like anonymous are up to their eyeballs in credit card debt, mortgage, etc, and think nothing of that. you are living honestly, being productive, and giving your children a wonderful life. KUDOS. my husband and i are still paying off school loans, wondering what is next, but this self-dependent life style that you and your family have created with HARD WORK is what we would love some day.
    -Sara (new reader and new fan)

  121. The internet can be such a cruel place at times! I was linked to you via frontier dreams, I'm so sorry you have had such a bad experience.

    I've had to passsword our family blog due to an internet stalker, so can understand in a small way the upset/hurt you've experienced.

    Being honest and sharing God's provision is such a marvellous witness, don't let narrow mindedness get in your way!

    With prayers
    San x

  122. Hello, I am new here, but I just have to tell you how much I love and enjoy your blog. It is a great blessing to me!
    My son and his family are off the grid and they work very hard making goods to sell. They have a beautiful quality of life.
    Thank you for your site. Keep it up, please and God bless you!
    Kindest Regards,

  123. Keep doing what the Lord has instructed you to do. There will be persecution the Bible says. Keep pressing in, He will meet your needs. Congratulations on the success of the business! Many happy blessings. : )

  124. I'm glad you re-posted! We have very similar economics, and it's a big jump this year to look at being only self-employed. While we are signed up for the state insurance plan, we don't tend to need to use it (healthy kids!), and we're blessed to have a local doc for DH and I who is both competent, and affordable without insurance. That, plus a major medical policy through our car/house insurance agent, gives us enough of a net to feel responsible, even though we don't access that net very often. :)

    Even in times where we have needed to accept state or government help, we've tried very hard to maintain a self-sufficient attitude, and to work hard to provide for our needs, just as your family is doing. Keep at it! Random internet cranks cannot squash our goals!

  125. I haven't been able to read all the comments so someone might have said this but I have to say how odd I find the attitude that seems prevalent in the U.S that health care is a burden to society. In a civilised society health care is available to all, look around the world and you will see this principle in evidence.

    You may not be producing money but you are producing people, the back bone of any nation. The nation is saying thank you by making sure that you are all healthy and well and able to sustain it. Quid pro quo. To say that health care should only be available to those who can afford it is barbaric, immoral and a disgrace to the individuals and institutions who perpetuate this idea.

    You and your family are an example to others, it may not be the lifestyle all would choose but to target you harshly is beneath contempt and I hope you are able to shake off the unkindness and see that it was probably motivated by envy or a weakness of character on the part of the writer. If someone has an opinion they should be willing to stand by it and at least share their name. You are open and honest with the world, please don't allow and credence the the thoughts of someone who lacks the same courage.

    Take care, Emma

  126. I have not read all the posts, so I apologize if I am repeating suggestions you have come across. I'm not sure if these books would be useful for you, as they do not focus on sustainability, but good sources for living on less are:
    The Tightwad Gazette
    Your Money or Your Life
    How to Survive Without a Salary (Canadian)

    Like others, I applaud your honesty about money on the blogs, as money is such a taboo subject. You are making wonderful use of your earnings and making wonderful contributions at the same time.

    I live in Canada, where health care is universal, and the system in the U.S. is very foreign and dangerous to me here.

    Best wishes to you and your family,


  127. Do your thing Tonya. People need to mind there own business.

  128. I got here from Fontier Dreams, I'm sorry for this bad experience, I have had ugly anonymous comments some times too.

    Every person should be covered with health insurance, it's a benefit to all the community, not only the one covered, it's a public health issue and normal sense thing.

    I'm glad I discovered your blog.


  129. Hello Tonya,

    You don't have to justify anything. Your blog is lovely and you give far more to society by bringing up a Godly family than you would ever take. You are worth" far above rubies''.

    Blessings Gail

  130. We don't get to choose what our work supports in the community. We only get to choose what kind of work we do.

  131. Anonymous comments are annoying. I live in a different part from the world than you (Singapore) and as a banker, have a different lifestyle. Yet your blog has continue to inspire me to live simply. Thank you and I look forward to learning more from you! :)