Chet Pittman and his sons Paxton and Brody head home after an afternoon building a fence at a farm in Macon, Missouri. Chet occasionally takes jobs building barbed wire fences for farmers around Macon to earn money, and the entire family often works together. Chet was initially wary about taking the job, but explained that—besides the money—he also wants to train his oldest son Paxton, 15, in a skill that Paxton can establish a business with when he gets older.
"It's a little guy," Brody Pittman, 6, center, said about a splinter that was stuck in his foot after spending the morning with his family as they worked together building a fence. "Nothing of this world is worth more than my children and I could see that trying to have both (ranch career and time with his family) was not working out very well," Chet said about his decision to sell his stake in his family's Texas ranch. "I was going to have to sacrifice somewhere,"
From left, Paxton, 15, Eva Jo, 13, Emma, 11, and Chet Pittman flip through their bibles as quickly as possible during a "sword drill" game. During a "sword drill," the players are instructed to "stand at attention" and hold their bibles closed with their backs straight until a leader calls out a chapter and verse. The players must then flip through the book, find the passage and the first person to call out the first word of the verse correctly is allowed to read the entire selection. Christianity permeates every aspect of the Pittmans' lives and each morning the family gathers for "devotions" before breakfast and chores. During their devotions the family sings, reads and discusses passages from the bible.
The Pittman family works together constructing a fence on a nearby farm in Macon, Missouri. Since the children are home-schooled, the whole family often works together.
Toni Pittman instructs her son Brody during school time while her daughters Emma and Eva Jo practice the piano. Although Toni and Chet were educated in public schools, they decided to home school their four children.
Toni Pittman peels potatoes in preparation for a dinner with the Schnetzler family at the Pittmans' home in Bevier, Missouri. Chet Pittman met Nicholas Schnetzler at the Wal-Mart distribution center in Moberly, Mo. where they work together. Chet works 33 hours a week for Wal-Mart so he can pay for health insurance for the family. The decision to take the job was difficult for Chet and he discussed it with his wife for over a year. They eventually decided the risk of expensive medical bills if someone were to have health problems was too great to not have insurance.
The Pittman and Schnetzler children pretend to make food while playing with grass flowers, and other objects they found in the Pittmans' yard.
Emma and Eva Jo Pittman greet their father and brothers on their way down the family's driveway in Bevier, Mo.
Chet Pittman comforts his wife Toni on their front porch before breakfast. Toni was upset because she feels a close family member will not allow God into their life.
Chet and Paxton Pittman slice homemade bread and peel garlic for a dinner with friends at their home. The Pittmans are able to provide some, but not all, of their own food from their farm. They make homemade food whenever possible but still live a modern lifestyle with the modern conveniences of an average American household. Toni Pittman churns her own butter, from the cream of the family's cow, but in an electric blender.
Chet Pittman holds up a fish that he and his son Paxton helped Abigail Schnetzler catch in a pond on the Pittmans' farm. Abigail's father, Nicholas Schnetzler, works with Chet at the Wal-Mart distribution center in Moberly, Mo., and the families regularly get together to spend days enjoying the Pittmans' farm. Although Nicholas and his wife Rebecca are much younger than Chet and Toni, the two couples bonded and became friends through their shared Christian faith.
Chet Pittman and his wife Toni take a minute before packing up their truck after a full day of working together with their children. "I can give ultimately all to my children but I deprive my wife of what she needs and you can't do that," Chet said. "You have to give God your first and I have to make Toni my first. Because the way that I love her is the way that I will love my children. And when I give her love and respect, I'll actually earn more love and respect from my children."
Chet Pittman leads his children, from left, Paxton, Emma and Eva Jo in a prayer before going to bed.
After the family's morning devotions and before the men begin their chores outside, Chet Pittman takes a moment to look at a spider web backlit by the morning sun on the fence beside his home. During their morning devotions, Chet told his children that if they wanted to see God's presence on the Earth that they could find it in the beauty of the natural world.