Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Country roads & the top of the wish list

Country roads,
take me home,
to the place I belong...

A farm.
Just the thought of it makes me smile.
You see, out in the country, where there's lots of open space...
where there are rolling hills and split-rail fences,
trees and lakes and critters untold...
where the sun rises and falls on grass-- not cement...
THAT'S where I belong.

And I JUST KNOW, deep down in my heart (wink. wink. grin.),
that the LORD has called me to that sort of life :)

Of course, so far He hasn't shown me how He's gonna get me there.
But surely one day... one day??

We'll see.

In the meantime,
I'll keep on plugging away where He has placed me...
I'll keep on walking the road He has paved for me,
and I'll keep on trusting Him for His perfect plan... for His perfect timing...
for His perfect provision... always.

that's what I'm working on these days;
that's what I need a bit more of.
I'd like to say I've got a handle on it-- that I've mastered it...
that I've conquered and defeated and WON!
But alas... no. The play continues... and I've still got lots of lessons to learn.

But play I must... and by His good grace, I'll walk... victoriously!

It's funny. My boys are teaching me that very lesson right now
(though they likely don't even realize it)--
that His grace is all I need...
that HE is all I need...
that His mercies are new every morning.
You see, not too long ago, as we strolled down one of my very favorite winding country roads...
as we admired the beauty of His creation around us...
as we explored the bounty of His earth,
the LORD provided a timely lesson... a lovely illustration... a wonderful case-in-point.
Because my boys, all three of them, well, they discovered something wonderful...
something fabulous...
something they wanted for their very own...
yes, something that rocketed to the top of this year's Christmas list--


And not just one.

One for each of us.

Now THAT would be awesome, they cried!

Big Man would name his charge Batman.
Bub would name his Nick. Noh-man... Archie.
Lolli... Belle. Me... Polly. And daddy... Gunner.
A horse for each of us. A stable for six. What could be better than that, they wondered??

Yes, I agreed... it was a lovely plan, a beautiful dream, an awesome "what-if" kind of situation.
So naturally I hesitated (& regretted) to tell them that our current home
(nestled in the heart of Old Town on a mere 1/3 acre plot)
will never house a horse (much less six).

"Well, why can't we just move then?" they asked.
(You know-- to one of those ginormous gazillion dollar horse farms??)

Good question.


Unfortunately, said breadwinner
(though he works very hard and has a very good job)
does not quite make the salary necessary to pay that sort of mortage... :)

"So why can't dad just get a new job?" they queried.

{Because evidently, in the minds of little ones,
gazillion dollar paying jobs are a dime a dozen--
all you have to do is get one.
They simply could not understand the hold-up.}


There's that word again. And this time we had to apply it to horses.

"Can we at least feed them, Mom?" Big Man questioned.
Oh, babe, they'll eat grass and hay on their own.
But perhaps next time we can grab some carrots and some apples--
they'd certainly love those!

Next time...

Yes, next time.

Because we'll be back.
And hopefully, we'll be claiming Paul's words as our very own,

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every sitation..."
Philippians 4:12

And we'll continue to walk our country roads...
we'll continue to admire the beauty around us...
and we'll continue to rejoice in the splendor that surrounds.
And as we enjoy the four-legged beasts from the other side of the fence,
we'll praise our LORD for all we do have...
for all He has given...
for all the blessings we unwrap,
each and every day.

Like apples and carrots.

Surely next time, we'll bring a few to share.

Monday, April 26, 2010

1000 Gifts: April showers

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;
and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

~G.K. Chesterton

Amazed by His grace, I give thanks...

April showers

spring green

an empty dishwasher... my cupboards full once again-- my son's gift to me... a "morning surprise"

Mom, thanks for all you do for us.

a new bell on a bike and the delight it brings

Daddy's help

wise counsel and the encouraging words of another

baseball in the backyard

two-year old mischief and a partner in crime

my Mom's selfless sacrifice-- so that I might gain

and her godly example, time and time and time again

a workday with Pops... a rootbeer float... new tools as a gift (he loves them, Dad-- thank you!)... priceless love

camping trip survival, my men safely home... adventures extraordinaire... and stories to last for days

a best friend reunion... a time to rejoice... praises together... sisterhood (love you, G!)

Bruster's ice cream

Beth Moore and her ministry... living proof of God's grace

security in Christ and the strength to walk in truth


"The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:17

holy experience

and the list continues...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

America: The Story of Us

The History Channel has done it again! This go round, it's releasing a new 12-hour series, America: The Story of Us (the first installment airs this Sunday, April 25 at 9 pm)... "a six week event that provides a fascinating look at the stories of the people, events, and innovations that forged our nation. It will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to bring our nation’s history to life for your students."

And even better... is offering a free copy of the dvd to any accredited public, private, or home school in the United States (to be mailed out later this summer). I filled out the application form; hopefully that'll be enough. If it's not, however, there is an option to buy~

Anyhoo, check it out. There's a trailer for your viewing pleasure at the link above-- and from the looks of it, this series will surely make a lovely addition to any American history program. Just thought I'd pass it along~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On the farm

In our quest for simpler & healthier living, Mom and I have been all over the place.
We've visited farms, we've read books, we've made phone calls, we've scoured some websites.
And at the end of the day, we've walked away with these firm conclusions:

buy fresh,

buy local,

and whenever possible,

go straight to the source.

Enter Farmer Bill, owner of a small-time outfit not too far from home.
120+ acres, a herd of grass-fed cattle (LOVE that concept), 50 or so free-range chickens,
grass-fed lambs and a handful of milking goats.
And for one afternoon, our host.

It really is neat-- the things you can learn on a farm. I'll spare you all the deatils here.
Let's just suffice it to say that our afternoon was enlightening AND educational...
and without a doubt... inspirational to boot.

The boys collected eggs right out the chicken coop, and thankfully they kept all of their fingers!
(those brooding hens can be awfully moody)

They scrubbed a few clean, and then they hand-picked the ones they wanted to take home
(a rainbow of warm colors... what a treat!).
And THEN they tried their very, very,very best to convince me...
to allow them... to raise a few chickens... back home in suburbia.
Unfortunately, I didn't think local zoning laws allow such an undertaking.

But who knows??
Perhaps... one day... (hopefully)... we'll have our own farm,
with cows and sheep and chickens and all.
And then they'll be free to raise their babies (chicks, I mean... chicks!),
right in their own backyard.

Some day :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vegetable gardening... our way

So here's what I've discovered: there are a gazillion books out there-- volumes upon volumes upon volumes... all about vegetable gardening and how-to-do-it. Lots of details, color photos, tips of every shape and size... step by step by itty bitty step... so that you, too, can plant your own veggie garden and hopefully, help it thrive. Now for those of us who have a gazillion hours on hand to read through them all... fantastic! (All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew is a great place to start... should you fall in to this category). For the rest of us, however... we just need to get straight to the point.

Vegetable gardening, from what I've gathered thus far, is-- without a shadow of a doubt-- a trial and error sort of process. There are lots of conditions to consider (soil, placement, sun, shade, water, fertilizers, and so on), and what works splendidly in my neck of the woods may not fare so well in yours. Since I ended up getting a later start than I originally anticipated (translate: LIFE happened), and since time was of the essence (we *are* well into April now), I decided to skip the books altogether (remember that TIME limitation I mentioned earlier) and instead, ask questions. I visited plant nurseries and talked to the staff while my little people contented themselves on the red radio flyer wagons. I chatted with others who have been there, done that. I read a few online articles (the short and sweet ones), and I scanned a few websites. And then, after that, I jumped in with both feet.

Now earlier this spring I had planned to build a raised bed garden. But due to time constraints (remember: LIFE happened), that specific plan fell by the wayside. Thankfully, plan B came together beautifully in no time at all. You see... my mom, our master gardener extraordinaire, is building a raise bed garden herself so all those giant plastic pots she's used in years past... no longer necessary. Over Easter weekend, therefore, I snagged a few (thanks again, Mom!) for our use at home. Container gardening... here we come.

So the pots, the pots... they're now resting comfortably in the back quadrant of our yard-- a very sunny patch near the shed where only weeds have previously survived. The boys and I cleared a large space and then covered it with several layers of newspaper (useful in killing those nasty weeds underneath... because I don't want an unsightly, weedy garden, after all... even if it is made up of plastic pots :), and then we arranged our containers accordingly. From the woodpile we grabbed several large logs to border our garden (consider them the puppy tinkle barrier), and voila-- a prime patch, ready for planting.

Our current compost pot... filled with all sorts of lovely compostable items...
baking in the sun... doing its thing... ready for use... *sometime* down the road :)

In preparing our pots, we mixed a little slightly-used dirt with the compost we had been saving all winter, and then we added a product new to us, Leafgro Organic Soil Conditioner (the folks at my favorite plant nursery swear by it). It made a lovely addition and will surely help provide a near perfect home for our now-growing summer bounty.

Pot #1... done! Pot #2... get ready!

As a very quick aside, let me put in a tiny plug here for compost. It is quality, and it saves so much money as you seek to fill your pots-- whether for veggies or flowers. AND-- as an added bonus, it provides a super-easy method for getting the littles involved, too. All my boys know that banana peels, egg shells, tea bags, and coffee grounds go straight to the compost bin... along with all sorts of other useful kitchen cast-offs. It works, it makes kitchen clean-up easy, and the whole family can participate. Awfully worthwhile, in my humble opinion :)

So... back to the garden. The following day we hopped on over to Whole Foods Market and bought some organically grown broccoli, cauliflower and potato plants (shown below),

and as soon as we got home, we plopped them in the soil... watered them a bit... and then watered them some more. And now we're just waiting and seeing... anxious for the very first pick of the season. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, we'll have a healthy supply of home-grown goodies! Of course then we'll have to plant our summer veggies... but first things first... I'm still hoping these guys will make it :)

Happy gardening!

Monday, April 12, 2010

1000 Gifts: Spring... outdoors

"This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Psalm 118:24

Rejoicing today... because He has made all things new...
because He has brought beauty from the ashes...
because He has put a new song in my heart...
because in Him, all things are possible... my Rock & my Redeemer.

red tulips

garden helpers

the scent of freshly mowed grass... my eldest son-- now pushing the mower

flowering trees... all the colors of the rainbow

this friend... this companion... now well and medication-free

hubby home after a week of travel

childhood delights

open windows & lovely fresh breezes

the pitter-patter of raindrops on the patio

bare legs and flip-flops

hubby's college roommate, in town for some schooling-- our dinner guest on Saturday night...
and stories upon stories, laughter upon laughter... memories of days gone by

"Mom, will you ride bikes with us?"

children's voices... joy & happiness-filled... thankful to be outside once again

the opportunity to savor it all


"You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
you are my God, and I will exalt you."

Psalm 118:28

Join the Gratitude Community--

holy experience

and the list continues....

Monday, April 5, 2010

1000 Gifts: A new season

"O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimiately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me..."

Psalm 139: 1-6

Overwhelmed by His grace,
astounded by His glory,
amazed by His splendor,
I give thanks once again for including me in it all.


God's creative hand... His artistry... His pallet of colors... the beauty of His creation

this timely promise:
"And the One sitting on the throne said,
'Look, I am making everything new!'
And then He said to me,
'Write this down,
for what I tell you is trustworthy and true."

Revelation 21:5

warmer temperatures and time to play outside

piggy back rides

and big brothers who care, play, laugh, and love

helping hands in the kitchen-- "This is so fun, Mom!!"

book club fun and the camaraderie of (co-op) classmates

tire swings and the generosity of neighbors

the three musketeers

freshly baked bread


bear hugs

green grass and this overgrown monkey

burdens lifted, fears relieved, excellent doctors, and God's healing hand

my daddy... home


the leading of the Spirit, His gentle answer amidst the storm, His peace-- so graciously offered, and the folks who prayed me through

an unexpected visit from favorite friends and a lovely afternoon visit

Grandmom & Pops

an Easter celebration, a weekend in the woods, egg hunts and treasures... together

yet even moreso...
the cross of Calvary and the death of our Lord-- His matchless gift... His never-ending love

"He is not here; He is risen, just as He said" (Matthew 28:6). Hallelujah!

holy experience

and the list goes on...