Forced Into Minimalism


Lately I’ve read numerous articles about prioritizing, organizing, simplifying and minimizing.  I suppose these ideas go well with the whole “spring cleaning” theme.  However helpful these themes are meant to be, they remind me of April two years ago and the hardest time our family has ever had.

On April 26th, 2011 we had to evacuate our home because of river and creek flooding.  We only took enough clothes for three days. We packed up our current homeschool books, supplies, and records.  The kids brought along one toy apiece.  We put a lot of things upstairs and put our furniture and appliances on concrete blocks, placed sand bags all around, grabbed mama cat and her kittens, and left.

The seven of us invaded the home of my husband’s sister.  Also, his parents, niece, her husband, and daughter were flooded out and were staying there, too (13 total).  It was crowded and tough getting along.   Everyone was stressed out, sad, frightened and worried.

It wasn’t until 2 weeks later before we could return to our home.  It was a nightmare!  The water line in the kitchen measured 42 inches.  Our furniture had floated off the blocks and tipped over.  A tornado had sucked out the kitchen window which in turn was an open invitation to every woodland and stray animal to take refuge in our house (upstairs included).  The septic system backed up into both bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room.    Oh, the smell was sickening and so much mold was growing on everything.  We were not going to be able to live there ever again.  Our belongings, including fifteen years of homeschooling books, projects, and records were completely ruined.

floodThe white foamy stuff in this photo is the mold that covered every inch of our home and belongings.  We had started our family twenty years prior to this event, so as you can imagine, we had a LOT of stuff.

The local news did a report from our driveway and yard about the dangers of poisonous snakes in flood zones.  And we found 2 snakes skins, one on the porch and one in the dining room.

After meeting with the insurance company, the Red Cross, and FEMA, we had the grand total of $8000 to start over with.

We stayed with my sister-in-law for three months, because there was not any rental property available in the area with so many being relocated.  Finally we were able to move into a tiny rental trailer.   We were greatly blessed by the charities of local churches, the Salvation Army and other ministries, who prayed with us, helped us with clothing , furniture, and brought us meals (they knew we were in too much shock to grocery shop, or prepare healthy meals).  We also, found out who our best friends really were.

By the following October, after living three months in that rental trailer, six months since the evacuation, we were approved for an emergency recovery loan for $50,000.  With more prayers, a very creative realtor, a caring loan officer, and sympathetic sellers, we had a HOME.

Today our home and furnishings fit into the categories of prioritized, organized, simplified, and minimized.  Though all these lifestyle and attitude changes did not happen to us by choice, I can look back and know without any doubt that these changes have been exactly what we needed.  We have learned about what is truly important. We understand the value of lending a helping hand to others.  We have much greater appreciation of the material things we have replaced.  We know that God doesn’t leave us or forsake us.  We are convinced that He provides us with what we need.  We are thankful.

betty jo

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10 thoughts on “Forced Into Minimalism

    1. Betty Jo Post author

      I’m not so sure about the beautiful testimony part, Trisha, but very sure about the God is ever faithful part. Thanks, my friend for visiting my blog again! betty jo

    1. Betty Jo Post author

      Thank you. This was a bit hard to write. I hadn’t put the experience as a whole into words before. It was harder than I thought it would be. betty jo

  1. Sylvia

    Oh, Betty Jo, that had to have been a horrible experience! I’m so sorry you guys went through such a traumatic event! Thanks for sharing this at Friendship Friday! Please come again every Friday!

  2. Debbie S.

    B.J., I was with you through this & heard about it in bits & pieces. While I knew it was really, really bad, as I read it all in its entirety here…well, my friend, I just cried. You are such a strong l& courageous ady & I admire you & your family so much for your resilience.


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