Our Story

Since many of you have asked about what happened to me or us, I thought I would share our story.
In 2006 we moved to Cane Creek (Pleasantville, TN). Mark had a job transfer to middle Tennessee so since we knew about No Greater Joy ministries we decided to visit that area to see if we would want to move there. We visited the church at Cane Creek and decided that it was a great place to move. We found a tiny rental home about 900 square feet while we worked on selling our beautiful home in Wisconsin. Mark had gutted and remodeled and added on to a farm house. We had a jersey cow up there that we placed in an Amish farm and sold our other livestock. All of our family lived in Wisconsin and they were very upset that we were taking their sweet grandchildren across the country. We felt, at the time we needed a change. The house sold and we started to look for a home to buy on Cane Creek that had a barn to keep a jersey and a horse. We found the place that is featured on our Homesteading for Beginners DVD volume one. It was a very big home and perfectly functional for our new homestead. We had great neighbors and could walk to church. Walking down the lane felt like a dream. We had an orchard of peaches, cherries, pears, and apples. We had this really old barn from 100 years ago. It really started to feel like a dream. We were so happy. We made lots of friends and enjoyed the fellowship. The kids were able to swim in the creek quite a lot. Everything was going great. We were planning our first garden when I said to Mark, “We should really film this whole growing season just to share with beginners like we were” He actually thought, “who would want to watch our family homestead, we are totally not experts”. I looked back and said, “Well, I would have loved a DVD like this one, it would have been an encouragement to see it being done, especially if I didn’t have The Amish to learn from.” That kicked off the first video. While we were filming the very first sequence on planting the seeds on our front porch, Molly started to get very sick. She was loosing weight, you can actually see how thin she was when she touched the seedlings and said how pretty they were. She was peeing a lot and I thought she was having a serious bladder infection. We didn’t have health insurance, so we tried to treat her naturally with cranberry pills. Nothing worked, until finally, I could feel the bones poking out of her back. I remember one evening that I could feel her life slipping away. I held her all night long, praying, and crying out to the Lord for mercy. Her limp body laying in my arms. It happened all of a sudden the night before that she had become so weak and frail that I knew something terrible was wrong. Then, the next morning I brought her to a doctor in the nearby small town. It was just a clinic. The doctor said we needed to get her to a hospital right away. We transferred her to the childrens hospital in Nashville. She was immidiately placed in the ICU for several days. They found that she was in Keto Acidosis, serious and sometimes fatal reaction of a diabetic.

DIABETES!!!!! I thought only unhealthy people got this disease. Oh, how wrong I was. I learned that she had the most serious kind, the juvenile kind. I had a neighbor with it but he had gotten it later in life. I thought, well that is not as bad as I thought. I was worried she was dying from cancer. We do not have any diabetes in our family either. That was what was so strange to me. People started recommending that we should not give her any carbs or sugar. That would be very damaging to a child. You have to understand the difference between Type One and Type Two. The Type Two can be controlled by your diet. Type One can not be controlled by your diet. Especially a child needs those carbs for brain development. So we had to learn all about the diabetes and how to give injections. It was extremely way more difficult than I had anticipated. The learning curve was unbelievable. I spent many hours just bawling like a baby. Thinking that I could not handle this. And then, Mark fainted. He started having seizures. He was bed ridden and could not work anymore. He had been working for Gabe Pearl and Ben Easling building pole sheds. Now he was very sick. He started loosing a lot of weight, and became very foggy. He couldn’t remember things, he couldn’t drive because he would have seizures. It was really scary. We started bringing him to all kinds of doctors trying to find out what his problem was. They did CAT scans and MRIs looking for cancer. I really believed he was dying. And then all the financial burdens fell upon me. I had to find work to make our payments which I was unable to do in that area. I had to take care of a sick child and husband. I thought I was at my breaking point. This was all happening while we filmed our DVD, too! I didn’t give up on the idea, because I thought we had to try to make something that could eventually minister to others. We felt so weak, and so pressed to the limit. Mark was able to do a little bit of farm work in between resting. I had to work and my trade is professional photography. NGJ didn’t have more work for me, but I did photograph for some magazines and some book covers. But not enough to keep us there. Nashville was 2 hours from there, so we would have to find child care for me to work weddings out there. It seemed impossible. The bills were stacked against us, and with no family around to support us, we felt so desperate to move back to our hometown in Wisconsin. The people in Tennessee had lives, they were busy, and I needed serious help. I had to pay people to help me cook or clean which I could not afford. So, Wisconsin was where we had to go. My mother is a nurse, so we ended up moving in with them while we tried to sell our tennessee home. It was hard to move away, I can remember rolling out of our driveway and crying. Thinking about living in town was just not how we wanted to raise our kids.

We lived right in town. No more cow, our cow died a week before we moved which was really heartbreaking. She ended up with mastitis and with the heat and drought, it spread too quickly. We couldn’t save her even with antibiotics and all natural remedies. So, now we had to shop at the grocery store again and I felt like I had to give it all up. I started wearing makeup and fixing myself up to get weddings. I did all these wedding expos while my mother took care of my husband and children. I couldn’t homeschool anymore. I had to send the kids to school. I will never forget Megan, running after me screaming, please don’t leave me. It makes me cry thinking about it. I had meetings in the evenings, weddings on the weekends, so I rarely saw my own children. We finally found out that Mark had a bad case of lymes disease. It had effected his vision and brain. He could not remember anything and he had a violent temper that I never knew existed. Then he would scream at us and he would not even remember what he said. He became very withdrawn. He would get dizzy if he went in a public place. My kids had concerts, and I had to go with my mom and dad instead of with their father. He could not go out. It was very hard. Debi Pearl did some research for Mark, because they felt so horrible for him. Mike and Mark were very good friends. They threw knives together and things. Real bonding! So Debi found a detox that could help flush the microorganisms out and clear up the toxins they leave behind. It was a cats claw tonic. Mark started taking it daily and it brought him out of some of this. Still to this day, he has permenant brain damage. He still can’t function like he used to and he has a hard time remembering things. But he is calmed down now. We made enough money with the photography to buy our present home. Mark felt well enough to start fixing it up for us. We had a busy summer with weddings. I booked 40 weddings that year and I was making a great living. Just when Mark thought he could get a job, then distaster struck again! Because I am so petite, I had some female trouble from having children. I went in
for a routine bladder lift surgery and when I came out of the operating room just screaming my head off. My mother was there trying to tell me to be quiet. but my leg was up and I could not get it to move and the pain was worse than child laybor. I felt like I wanted to be put out of misery. 6 hours of pumping me full of drugs didn’t even touch this pain! Until the doctor came in finally and figured out that something was wrong. He had to open me back up and remove a stitch that was through my sciatic nerve! Talk about pain! There is nothing like it, I assure you!

So, here I was in surgery again. I remember begging the doctors to please, please, knock me out!!!!! knock me out!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have no idea how bad this was. For six hours, I thought I would come out better. The next morning, I couldn’t move my right foot, it had been paralyzed! and then when they tried to help me out of bed, I noticed my foot was purple and big and It felt like it was dipped into hot burning oil and pinched under a boulder. I could not put any weight on the foot at all. I screamed day and night. I had to wear diapers because I lost some functions. They sent me home with drugs and my mother. I ended up in a hospital bed in my mothers living room because I needed around the clock care. I couldn’t go the bathroom or brush my teeth, or wash my self. I could not see my kids. I was not able to even sleep through the pain. My mother brought me to the emergency room several times crying, pushing me in the wheel chair to see if they could stop my pain. Nothing worked. So they had to sedate me. That worked. I took demerol. Then they put me on fentanyl, methadone, carbamazapene, gabapentin, perkaset, vicatin. I was doped up but still felt pain, uncontrollable pain!!!!! My mother had to finally transport me and the hospital bed to my home. I screamed day and night, until I pushed my kids and husband so they could not be around me. It was too hard on them to see me like that. I threw up frequently, could not brush my teeth, so I ended up getting cavities from the acid. I only would bath once a week when Mark could help me. I never walked. Couldn’t. I had a commode toilet right beside the bed that I could use when I needed it. But I stayed in that bed all the time. It was in the dead of winter so the wind would come through the window beside the bed and I would shiver in pain all night long. The nights were So LONG! I felt the morning would never come. I had to pray that the Lord would get me through another minute of pain. I went to physical therapy and they would touch my foot, and it felt like they were scraping my flesh with sharp glass. Then we found out that I had a disease I knew nothing about. RSD. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. It is a malfunction with the signal of the brain. It comes upon you from a trauma, and in my case it started when the sciatic nerve was punctured. There is no cure for this disease. There are 4 stages of it. Stage one you have pain, stage two is when you can see a change in the color of the skin with extreme pain, stage three is when it migrates, stage four is when you go into immune system failure. Each person is unique. Some people can do some things, but most people can’t work or put pressure on the affected limb. I am one of those. I was bed ridden for 9 months and now it has been almost 2 years since the accident. I have still not had very much progress. I can’t work anymore, since the disease has progressed. I have constant pain and I had to quit the photography business. I still try to do as much as I can around the house. I have to take a lot of time to sit. I can’t be up and around for more than 15 minutes. After that, the pounding pain gets to be unbearable. So, when you watch our second and third DVDs, you are watching a very pain ridden lady trying to tough it out to share that information with the world. When I was making applesauce, that was when you can tell I was getting off my drugs. I was very sick. You can see how thin I was. Withdrawing from the meds were as equally terrible. I had every bit of what an addict goes through getting off heroine. Cold sweats, every force of sickness you can imagine, the worst flu like symptoms, nausea, tremors, and heart palpitations.

The withdrawing lasted about 2 months. They put me on a blood pressure medication to curb the affects. But the bad thing was that they gave me double the dose by accident. My mother took me to their cabin for the weekend to monitor me. Eventually, she commented that I was overreacting at my lethargy. She was laughing at how I was slumping until she tested my blood pressure. It was 50 over nothing. Hardly a pulse. She ripped the patch off and then an hour later, after I started to wake up, I started in with terrible heart stuff. It would go from 130 to 60. I felt like I was dying. She took me to the emergency room and they were monitoring me. I was scary. Then she flushed the drugs down the toilet and I had to tough the rest out. Worse then imaginable. Talk about torture! The pain got that much worse, insomnia continued and the anxiety attacks where I couldn’t even breath! I just wanted to curl up in a corner and die. I felt the Lord would be merciful to take me away, so my family could go on. You have no idea how worthless you feel when you husband is serving you instead of you serving him. You feel like a burden on all of them. They would be happier without me, is how I felt. I never knew I would ever get to where I could even walk again. Then the miracle came. A kind family donated the money for me to go to go to Mexico for stem cell treatment. After 4 days, I was able to put more pressure on my foot, and I worked very hard to strengthen my legs again from all the atrophy. I was still paralyzed but the pain did lessen enough to film the next video. I could take breaks in between filming. But then the winter came. The cold set into my foot. With RSD, the hypothermia will set into the bones. Right now, you could feel my two legs and you could feel the one is much colder than the other. I have to wear toe warmers every day just to survive. The pain of hypothermia is very severe. It turns chalky white and grey. It looks like a dead persons foot. I have neuropathy as well, the zapping electrical impulses. I have a very sensitive skin. If the kids rub up against my lower leg and foot, I jump and scream. It is very hard, but I try not to think about it. I just try to do what I can and take my life minute by minute each day. I am so very thankful for what I have. The children, the homestead. Now, because I had to shut my wedding business down, due to my progressing disease. And now we are faced with loosing our homestead. It has been really hard for us, but we remain faithful to the Lord. We look to Him alone for mercy. Mark’s work slowed down and now he will have to try to find another job. He is trying to get our home finished to sell. Then we will be just like all of you, searching for where the Lord wants us. We understand we go through these things to strengthen our faith. We go through these things so we can understand other’s situations. Glory be to God that He can use our wounds to help heal others who are hurt. It has truly changed my attitude about keeping my home and serving others. I am no longer looking out for ME. I just cling to my savior for every minute. I appreciate it when I can homeschool my children, when I can cook and clean with my children. They are very helpful. We really work hard together. They are such a blessing to me. My house is always organized and clean, even though I can’t do it alone, I have them to help. I no longer complain about house work. For when you have that ability taken away, you appreciate being able to sweep the dirt off the floor. I am always grateful for the little things in life! That is our story. Praise God for all that He is able to use us for in His plan. If He can take a worthless, once rebellious woman like me, and mould me into something so different then he can do that for any of you!

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12 thoughts on “Our Story”

  1. Oh Erin…I knew about a lot of your families past struggles but I never realized that it was this bad. You are amazing, sister…a true Proverbs wife and you inspire me.
    I pray that all of your hardships are in the past and that continues to bless you daily!

  2. Hello! I know this post is several years old but I wanted to respond in case you are still struggling with your body. My daughter suffered from RSD after a severe break in her arm that caused nerve damage. After surgical procedures, months of physical therapy and lots of research I found some information on raindrop therapy for RSD. This desperate momma was willing to try it. I was already familiar with the benefits of essential oils and massage technique so I had a good feeling about it. After only a couple applications my daughter was able to move a finger which she hadn’t moved in months. We continued raindroping every 3 days and it didn’t take long before all symptoms were gone! I highly recommend you giving this a try. Again..every 3 days. We administered up the spine then down the arm that was broken and into the hand. We did this while in an attitude of prayer as well which I feel is important. 🙂
    I also highly recommend purchasing young living’s raindrop kit. The purity and medicinal benefits of these oils far surpasses the quality of other brands in my experience. Its worth the price and lasts for a very long time.
    Lord bless you and yours from ours!

  3. That.was.so.great. I can’t believe what you guys have been through!
    Y’all are a pretty amazing family, I tell ya. I’m so uber blessed to even know you guys.
    God is beyond amazing, I love hearing stories like this, and you can just see God working. Ahhhh! Love it, and I love you guys!! <3

  4. I would not feel worthless if my husband had to serve me while I was sick. I would be grateful I had a husband who despite his own sickness was able and willing to get up and help me. May I ask why you felt worthless?
    I think letting your daughter get to the point she did before you took her to the doctor is neglectful. You should have taken her to the ER or the doctor sooner.
    Do you make your diabetic daughter use Mom Bucks to eat”

    1. Erin @ Keeper of the Homestead

      I agree with you, I should have taken her in sooner. I just did not realize it was that bad until that evening. I really truly never experienced diabetes, so I thought it was a bladder infection. I went through a lot of guilt at that time thinking I was that dumb not to recognize it was more than a bladder infection. The doctors at the ER said it is common for a first diagnosed child to come in very ill like Molly did because people did not know what it was. Many people think it is a bladder infection as well because they pee a lot and drink a lot. Now, I always get to the doctor right away if something seems unusual in any way. Another huge lesson learned. Thank you for reminding me how naive I was. It keeps me humble. I sure do not want to ever put myself in a place of being prideful, looking down my nose at others.
      I learn from my mistakes and therefore my kids are doing very well, health wise. Molly goes to routine appointments and things are going very well for her diabetes management. No, she only plays Mom bucks for fun when she feels wants to. I provide her with whatever she needs, when she needs it.
      I do not feel worthless anymore but thankful. My husband is so wonderful to me. You are right I should have not felt like that. I had struggled with depression at the time which is a normal tendency when you are in that amount of pain trauma and taking really strong pain medications. It especially gets worse for some people, like me, when on medications. I did not react very well on meds. I was out of my normal mind:( That is why I had to get off the meds right away. I knew that my mind was not normally depressed and feeling worthless. All of these things happened between 5 and 7 years ago. Seems like forever. I am so thankful for God’s gentle hand of mercy and patience with me.

      1. Thank you for showing me how to respond when people are obviously trying to create controversy. As the old saying goes hindsight is 20/20. People always think they KNOW they would have done better and been a better mother UNTIL they are in your shoes. Thank you for sharing your story and how God has worked in your family life, it is a wonderful testimony!

  5. Kendra at New Life on a Homestead

    My heart absolutely aches for the miseries you and your family have had to endure. Sitting here, reading through your story has filled me with such gratitude for all that I have. I realize that at any moment the life I know can be taken from me. I am so thankful that I am able to be home with my kids, cooking and cleaning… but I am ashamed to say I have taken it for granted. Watching your videos, I would have never guessed the pain and uncertainty behind the scenes. I pray the Father continues to pour out blessings on your family.

  6. You are an amazing family. May God Richly Bless You. You have touched my heart and I will remember you in my prayers.
    Blessings Gail

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