Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Inner Views of Carole West

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
I Timothy 6:8

I love to read the life stories and testimonies of people who are as passionate about minimalism and simplicity as I am.
So, when I recently "met" the sweet lady online who is being interviewed today and I read a part of her story on her blog, I instantly knew I surely wanted to hear and know more!
I was so thrilled when she agreed to share with us here, and it is with great joy that I introduce her to you today.

Wife, Author, Freelance Writer, Simplified Gardener, and Entrepreneur,
Carole West.

Cheryl:  Please tell us a bit about yourself. 

Carole:  I’m a wife, author, freelance writer, simplified gardener, farmer, and entrepreneur who enjoys life in the country. My husband and I own and operate a small farm in North Texas, and we recently purchased 28 acres where we’ll be moving to establish a tiny house homestead community.  I grew up in Washington State, a small town in Skagit County. My Dad was a fisherman; our lifestyle presented self reliance opportunity. I was the youngest of four children and spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s home where I learned the value of doing more. These lessons were of great value through my life especially while raising our family. I was a stay at home mom for 20 years and discovered early on that everything begins at home. My husband and I are now empty nesters and we’re preparing for a new adventure establishing a Tiny House Community. We’ve already purchased the land and we’re waiting to sell our existing farm before moving full steam ahead. We’re setting up this community for others to experience country living as we have.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your Christian testimony. How long have you been a Christian? What led you to become a follower of Jesus Christ? 

Carole:  I remember as a child sitting in the back row during church services thinking to myself there was a much bigger picture to faith than sitting on a wooden bench and looking pretty. I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. There was never a real defining moment like others share. I’ve always felt God’s presence in my heart and knew the connection was real. I prayed every day and still do and find comfort and understanding in all Scripture. Since moving to the countryside, His connection to my soul has become even stronger. Christ is the greatest gift we can receive, and my faith walk is more of a lifestyle that grows with every breath and step I take.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your blog, "Garden Up Green"? What inspired you to begin blogging? How did you come up with the name? What is your blog's main mission? 

Carole:  Garden Up Green was an answer to prayer. I love to write. I homeschooled the kids, and that time was coming to a close. I knew God had a new journey waiting, I just didn’t know what it was. I had blogged in the past for fun, loved the process and decided it was time for a niche blog that would help others. Through prayer, years at my grandma’s house learning, and my husband’s support, Garden Up Green was born. The name Garden Up – is about everything that grows up including our soul. Through difficult times I remember looking up to find comfort. Green can be applied to many natural ways of living, and I’m amazed at the different shades and how they inspire positive activity. The goal of teaching through inspiration is something I love to share on the blog. I’m a big motivator when it comes to doing more because it’s an amazing way to live.

Cheryl:  Being aspiring minimalists ourselves, we are always so interested in hearing the stories of others who have taken a similar path. When did you and your husband first feel the urge to downsize? What life event(s) sparked an interest in you to begin letting go of things?

Carole:  We’ve moved quite a bit over the years; with each move we were floored with the stuff that followed. After raising our family, my husband and I started making plans for our future; our focus was to downsize and have more time together. We began figuring out what that would take, and from there a plan was established. 

I didn’t want to get rid of everything, but there was a lot that needed to go. To make cleaning out less difficult I decided to create a limit on how many favorite things we would keep. Over time, that limit began to shrink because I found the more we cleaned out the less we really needed or wanted. My time now is treasured through interaction.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your minimizing journey. What have you already accomplished? What do you yet hope to do? 

Carole:  I mentioned we moved a lot, so during the time we raised our family, I was always getting rid of things. Nothing huge, just items here and there. When we decided to seriously clean out, I went through each room removing the small things first, in preparation of not just downsizing, but selling the farm where we finished raising our family. It was emotional and there were some days when I didn’t want to walk in certain rooms. So I didn’t, but over the course of several months I pushed through so we could get our farm up for sale. This was a huge accomplishment, and it felt great. The next push will be when there’s a firm offer and things like unnecessary furniture will be moved on. We will walk away with very few personal belongings, and I can hardly wait. We leave with so much more, souls that have been matured and redefined.

Cheryl:  Describe what "tiny living" means to you. Will you eventually live in what is considered a tiny house? 

Carole:  For me Tiny house living is getting back to basics and living a less complicated lifestyle. Eventually we will live in a 399 sq foot tiny home. Before that, we plan to live in our 23 ft RV Trailer for a year. This decision was set in motion to help us stay focused when we’re living on this new property transforming 28 acres into 14 Tiny House properties. It’s a huge undertaking, and we realized we don’t need the distraction of a home. . I’m thinking when we finally move from the 23 ft trailer into the tiny home it will feel like a mini mansion.

Cheryl:  As you work through the process of downsizing, what are the main lessons you have learned/are learning? What advice would you offer someone who realizes they have way too much excess, but who doesn't know where to begin to minimize?

Carole:  First, watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The happiest people in that show were the ones that had less, why? They had faith, one another, and real life experiences. I realize it’s a TV show but it was based on real life experiences that people continue to read, watch, and be inspired by even today. It shows you that life is full of twists and turns, and stuff doesn’t make you happy.

If you’re bombarded and not sure where to begin downsizing, my best advice would be to begin with your bedroom closet and realize you’ll probably clean it out 2 or 3 times before you’re happy with it. The closet is where we begin our day. I began removing things I hadn’t worn in over a year, this included shoes. Once I had my closet cleaned out, my day began with a clear head which made the rest of the home a breeze to clean out. I went through the house room by room, set a goal and stuck with it even if it was just for an hour or two, 5 days a week. 

If you walk into a room and instantly see things you know you don’t want, then remove them right away. The quicker you can get rid of something, the more room you’ll have to sort other items and see progress. The problem with having so much, is it clouds our thinking. Once we remove as much as we can in the beginning it’s easier to make decisions later on.

The other big thing is to stop bringing stuff back into the home. When I make new purchases I really have to think it over and make sure it’s adding value instead of taking away from our goals. About 80% of the time that new “Thing” never comes home because it’s more of a want than a need. 

Cheryl:  As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I find it so interesting to know that He lived a life that was very unattached to the things of this world and very eternity-focused. How does living minimal align itself with the mission of Jesus on this earth? 

Carole:  It aligns perfectly. It’s also important to understand its okay to have things.  It’s when our stuff becomes excessive and controlling when it becomes a problem. An example...instead of buying a card that says I love you, why not just share that message in person and spend time with each other. In the long run that time together will live on where the card will just get tossed aside.

Cheryl:  What are some of the most creative ways you have found to dispose of excess items?

Carole:  I wish I could say I was creative getting rid of stuff, but what I did was use Craigslist to remove a lot of things. A second hand store where we live also received most of it, and let me add, it felt good to give it away. I also passed things off to friends who I thought may have a need for some of it. I like to give to families who are trying because I understand how difficult it can be to raise a family on one income.

Cheryl:  Through this downsizing process, what has been most fulfilling to you? 

Carole:  Most fulfilling is leaving the farm with a loaded car and unloading it to give away. As I drive on, my heart feels free and good inside. I’m reminded that from this day forward my life will not be controlled by earthly things.

Cheryl:  If you could start over on your minimizing journey, what would you change about it? Are there things you wish you had done differently? 

Carole:  I wouldn’t change anything because our future plans have been the driving force. I really want to live simpler with less so we can have more time enjoying the blessings around us.

Cheryl:  Has there ever been a time that you have regretted letting go of something in particular? If so, what was it? 

Carole:  I think there actually have been a few regrets, but I can’t think of anything specific. I remember one time looking for something only to remember I got rid of it. So I got creative and came up with another idea.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about your farm. What is your favorite part of farm life?

Carole:  I love farm life. It has inspired me in so many ways. We purchased this farm 7 years ago after years of city/suburb living. The goal was to finish raising our family in the countryside, and God made that happen. I have such a greater appreciation for the land and how to care for it than I ever thought possible. We’ve done so much from raising small cattle, sheep, llamas, chickens, emus, and of course, my quail. Out of everything, I believe the quail have been my absolute favorite. Even greater than the quail would be those moments when God’s presence is revealed while I’m in the garden. I never feel alone in that space, and it’s simply the best feeling in the world. Living here has been a life changing experience.

Cheryl:  Can you share with us about your book? How can we order it? 

Carole:  My book "Quail - Getting Started"was written for beginners who want to raise quail in a natural environment. It’s the basics and everything you need to know to establish a healthy flock. It can be purchased on my blog or on Amazon. I have a new book coming out, and I’m super excited about it. "Startle Garden" will also be available in February, 2017 on my blog and Amazon. If you visit my blog just click, “My Books”, on the Tabs bar.

Cheryl:  What are the causes closest to your heart? 

Carole:  I don’t have a specific cause; my focus is to set a positive example and stand up for what’s right. I believe giving should come from the heart and not defined as a percentage mark. I’m one of the most flawed people around. Each day I try to do better because I never know what God may call me to do next.

Cheryl:  We are living in troubled times. What are your favorite Scriptures, songs, books, and other resources to turn to in moments of spiritual discouragement? 

Carole:  We do live in troubled and confusing times. I think we always have, we just seem to notice them more. I try to stay off social media as much as possible because it’s this constant reminder of how disconnected society has become. To rise above, I enjoy the simplicity of all Scripture, I just open the Book and begin reading. I let God speak to my heart, and I find great comfort in His Word. I read all types of books and listen to audio that embraces positive thinking; John C Maxwell is a favorite author. Music is also helpful; I prefer country because it tells a story of someone’s journey. With that being said, I also enjoy listening to soft piano music by David Lanz. Return to the Heart - should really be my theme song.

If video doesn't load, click here.

There are days though when I find extreme comfort in God’s Creations.  Shades of green have always fascinated me, and I find such elegance in the beauty of a simple garden rose. When I watch my quail, I discover how delicate life is, and many times, it’s those long conversations with my husband or special friends that bring me even more joy. My favorite Scripture is Galatians 5:22...The fruit of the spirit...It represents living a full life.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you? 

Carole:  We should pray for God to work in the hearts and minds of all human kind, especially those who don’t know Him yet. Pray that God continues to use me for His work and never my own because this life isn’t about me, it’s all about His love and continued forgiveness -Pray that I never forget to live each day for the kingdom.  Thank you for this opportunity to share my heart. Carole West

A big thank you to you, Carole, for sharing your heart and story with us here!
What a blessing to read of the amazing way God is leading and directing your life!

Let's keep Carole and her prayer requests in our prayers, dear readers, and I hope you will take the time to go by and visit her blog and consider subscribing.

Thank you ever so much for reading and for your support and encouragement.
God bless Carole and each one of you, too!

To read previous
click the links below.


  1. What struck me while reading this interview was Carole and her husband's actions to continue toward life long goals. I think that really gives purpose to our lives, especially when they're in our Father's will. Love that attitude and decisiveness in her words. A lot of wisdom picked up along the way.

    Out here in the Valley of the Sun we have quail a plenty. A family lives in our front yard… I guess because Larry, our dog, lives in the back!

    1. Oh, that is so neat about the quail family living in your front yard! How neat! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Floyd. God bless you and your family!

  2. Such an encouraging interview of someone who has succeeded in this minimalism journey! Less really is more, in everything, I do believe that. We are living in a smaller space now than we ever have, and it is such a joyful thing. Being mindful about shopping and not bringing more home is hard! I find it easiest to just not shop except for groceries, unless I have a specific item in mind that is necessary. Appreciate you sharing these wonderful stories and testimonies of people who are doing all they can to live well and simply! Many hugs to you today dear friend!

    1. I loved reading Carole's words, too, sweet friend. So thankful for your visit and support. Sending you love and hugs!

  3. This is such an interesting post..enjoyed it very much...I've been seeing the idea of tiny houses growing fast...I could never be happy in such a small place but it's wonderful for those that can.
    Oh, and my heart is FAR from being gold...I just wanted to make our daughter's kids stockings because our kids G'mother made was a fun project..xo

    1. So thankful for your visit, dear BJ! You always make me smile...both here and at your beautiful blog. Have a blessed day, my friend!

  4. This interview encouraged me more to clean out and lighten up! Thanks for sharing it. I'll check out her blog.
    Be blessed my friend,
    Happy Christmas!

    1. So happy to see you stopped by and to know Carole's words motivated you to keep lightening up! Thinking of you often and praying for you. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful Christmas season, my friend. :)

  5. It never ceases to amaze me where you get all these people for interviews. Enjoyed this one and praying as requested. Happy Advent to you and all.

    God bless.

    1. Thank you so much, Victor! Happy Advent to you, too, my friend. God bless you!

  6. What a great interview.
    Since my dad passed away in 2008 my mom has moved 4 times, each time she down sizes and gets rid of things. It's made me more aware of all the "stuff" accumulating in my own home. For the passed two years my husband and I have been going through things and donating what we can or having garage sales.
    It's amazing how many things we never use live in our closets!

    Merry Christmas ladies. Thanks for the inspiring interview. Love the name of your blog, Garden Up Green

    1. I am so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing, TC. I know what you dear Mom didn't leave many physical possessions behind when she died (Dad died several years before her), and, after she passed away, I realized how much easier it is for those left behind to not have so much to sort through. You are so right about how we have so much we do not need or use. It is amazing. Thank you for your kind words and sweet visit. God bless you with a Merry Christmas!

  7. So interesting, Carole, to read about your life style choices and your heart for God! Thanks, Cheryl, for introducing us to yet another new friend!

    1. And, thank you, dear Michele, for your kind visit and words! Merry Christmas, my friend. :)

  8. Hi Cheryl and Carole! I think its fascinating that Carole is looking to live an a 'tiny house' community. My husband and I have watched a TV show on people who are interested in downsizing, and have these houses built. Most seem to live in the backyard of someone they know, or in the middle of nowhere. The community idea is a new one to me.

    I know I have a lot of 'stuff' around my house too, and I find myself thinking a lot about the huge job my kids will have when I die. That's good motivation to cut back. I know that Cheryl is very much into simplicity, so you are both peas in a pod!

    1. Thank you so much for your comments and support and encouragement, Ceil! God bless you with a Merry Christmas, sweet friend. ;)

  9. It was very interesting to here about her process of simplifying. That is a continual struggle for me.

    1. I loved reading it, too, Abbi. I am so inspired by those who love simple living. God bless you and your family with a Merry Christmas!