Tuesday, January 14, 2020

~ Engaged ~ To God be the Glory Great Things He has Done!

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

(The verse he shared with me the morning before he asked me to marry him - how very fitting it is!) 

Over these past several years, little did I know what God was preparing . . . what He was doing. How He was going to take this 'wilderness' and 'desert' and bring forth springs and rivers. His thoughts are truly higher than our thoughts and His ways greater than our ways! (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Through the years of singleness with such a strong desire to be a wife and mom, I struggled, prayed, doubted, trusted, grew, and yet while I really struggled at times, I sought to all through it, trust the Lord with my future, whether it was singleness or marriage. Saying "not my will but Yours." This past summer, I came to the point when I could truly and completely say with joy, yes, if singleness and foster adoption (which is what I had been working towards) is Your will for me, I am happy and content in that. In fact, I switched gears in my mind planning for this and setting marriage aside, yet still hoping deep in my heart that God would bless in that way.

And now, I am so very thankful and excited to share that God has abundantly and overwhelmingly blessed in ways that I had never dreamed and when I least expected it ... He brought a very special and godly man into my life.

I wasn't the only one on a journey to come to this beautiful and special season . . . I stand in awe when I look back on God's great faithfulness and provision to my now fiance as he walked through the loss of his late wife going home to the Lord when his (and now our!) youngest daughter was born and then raising and loving four precious children on his own and homeschooling them. Looking back, how clearly we both can see how mightily God worked and provided and blessed over the last 2 1/2 years. And how He prepared each of our hearts for the time when He would bring our lives together.

Our courtship was a beautiful journey as we all got to know one another, and of course, he and I especially! . . . it progressed, as we say, so naturally, like a rose slowly unfolding and blooming. We and my parents could so clearly see God's hand all through it. Zach is such a good and godly man, with a deep heart of love for the Lord, for following His word and growing in Him, and for his family. Our beliefs, values, lifestyle and interests are so very alike! (It is almost unreal at times how alike we are!) He also can so easily make me laugh and smile. And slowly but surely, this very special man gently and patiently won my trust and my love.

The first day of this year, my beloved asked for and was given my parent's blessing to marry me. We had already long since asked all the questions we could think of to get to know one another, but then he shared with me that there were five questions left . . . the first, he asked me to be his wife, followed by each of the children asking me to be their mommy. Oh how the tears flowed!

Exploring God's creation together during our courtship (we were looking at fossils in a rock here)

Now I am so incredibly blessed to be betrothed to my beloved and looking forward to a lifetime together with him! As well as the great blessing of being mommy to four precious kiddos who call me 'mommy' already. How very blessed I am!! And how my heart is overflowing with joy and thankfulness!!!

“To God be the glory great things He has done!”

And yes, this is the reason I have been so quiet on the blog! Between life and business, and this glorious journey I have been on, blogging took the back burner!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Eagle Bluffs // Family Times // A Recipe

Way back in August, Dad, Mom and I took a much enjoyed trip out to Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. It was an overcast day and kind of quiet as far as bird life went, but we had a wonderful time! I spent most of it walking along the road, venturing off on a few side trails, and photographing. There was so much to see and appreciate in the beauty and detail! I know I say this all the time :), but I love being out in God's creation like this!

Bright, beautiful flowers blooming a ways off the road 

Dad photographing some shorebirds 

Ah . . . peacefulness! Can't you just hear the stillness, the sound of the gentle breeze in the trees, and the occasional call or song of a bird? 

Mom out looking for birds 

There were quite a few Rose Mallows blooming, and a bee had discovered this one.

Looking at some birds . . . and I think it was the geese in the below photo

 They weren't quite sure about me walking down the road near them!

A Robber Fly 

A frog hunkered down in the grass right by my feet 

A Monarch Butterfly (and an incoming bee) on what is one of the most unique flowers I have seen before!

In other news, my buckling sold! I had advertised him before he was ready to be weaned and so had a buyer all ready for him once he was old enough to leave his mom. So that worked out well!

A new photo to update the 'About Me' page here on the blog, on my website, etc.

Over Ivan and Leah's anniversary at the beginning of this month, Eva came and stayed with us for a couple days so they could have some special time together. We loved having her with us! We played, snuggled, read books, went exploring outside, got lots of slobbery baby kisses :), and more. She is such a little ray of sunshine and was so good the entire time!

So expressive as she 'talked' and played with her Nana! 

"I am going to come get you Aunt Sarah!" And she did. :)

With her Poppy . . . and I was playing peek-a-boo with her - her grins are so precious!

She loves this book and will sit looking at it, opening and closing the flaps for the longest time 

One of her newest and cutest expressions she likes to make!

 I think she was trying to 'feed' me the duck :D

One of her favorite things . . . playing the piano! 

It's more fun, though, when sitting on someone's lap :)  

The rest of the pictures are from various times that we have been together the past month . . . I am so blessed with the family I have and the special/fun times we have!

Abel made a fort around the piano and bench and had fun in it!

Eva had to go join him and I caught this sweet brother/sister moment in a picture. Abel sure loves his little sister! And she does him, too. 

Big brother gave Eva lots of 'horsey rides'

A Lego creation 

Mesmerized while her Daddy played out a simple song, and then she played her own 

Changing topics now . . . the below picture was taken almost a month ago with the intention of sharing the recipe for Italian Chicken Sheet Pan Supper, and I am finally getting around to posting it! This is a quick and simple dish to put together, and one thing I like about it is its versatility. The original recipe called for tomatoes and green beans, but I have also made it with yellow squash and zucchini and in various combinations depending on what we had on hand. This time, it was green beans, yellow squash and tomatoes all from our garden!

Ready to go in the oven

Italian Chicken Sheet Pan Supper

- 4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 6 whole Roma tomatoes, halved
- 1 pound green beans (with stem ends trimmed/snapped off)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1 tsp. dried basil flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag; and the vegetables in another large Ziploc bag.

In a bowl or pitcher, combine the olive oil and vinegar along with the garlic, parsley, basil, salt and pepper. Whisk until it is emulsified.

Pour half into the bag with the chicken. Seal. Pour the remainder into the bag with the vegetables. Seal. Using your hands, move the chicken and vegetables around in their bags until dressing completely coats them.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, arrange the chicken and vegetables on a sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until chicken is done. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Summertime Days

What a busy and good summer this has been so far! Ever since the farmers market moved out to the new pavilion, sales have increased quite a bit (which is a blessing!), and hence, so has the workload, leaving not much 'free time'. (What is that anyway?! ;D) Over the last weeks, I have gotten into a better rhythm, streamlined processes more, etc. which has helped. Plus it is the break now at the therapeutic riding center so I have enjoyed taking the one day a week that is usually spent out there, more for rest and relaxation, doing something fun with family or friends, or catching up on home life.

Throughout this time, pictures have been accumulating and now I have the opportunity to get almost all of them into a post!

The Beauty Outdoors

One of my very favorite things to do in the mornings, and especially in the evenings, is to enjoy the beauty outside. There is always a feast of sights and sounds to experience! I love the quietness and peacefulness and just soaking it all in . . . .

Brown-Eyed Susans growing along the electric fence

An empty bird nest discovered after my goats ate their way through a large patch of Ragweed

When the work is done for the day, I love getting outside and enjoying this! My goats out happily grazing/browsing in the evening sunlight while the cicadas 'sang' away in the treetops and a Barred Owl called nearby. The beauty and peacefulness plus sweet goats to watch and pet makes it hard to ever make myself go back inside! :)

This guy isn't so little anymore! He has been growing quickly and is a nice looking buckling. He is due to be weaned and sold in a few weeks.

A regular evening treat . . . a doe and fawn coming up into the yard to eat corn that my dad puts out for them

Such intricacy and beauty in a spider web! 

A Luna Moth - it is always neat to see one of these. And this time, there were four of them! 

Trip to the Bulk Food Store

Back in July, Mom and I took a morning to make the drive to a bulk food store about an hour from us. We usually go there a couple of times a year, and both she and I were in need of some things. We had a fun time together! And drove through a storm on our way home . . . .

Remnants of Mid-Missouri Flooding

Thankfully nearly all of the flood waters have receded! Yet they have left damage behind. My parents took these photos one day of areas that we often drive by . . .

The waterline on one of the buildings that was flooded

This road isn't going to be open anytime soon!

Little Visitors to See the Goats

Every year after kidding season, we like having our friend Molly and her children out to see the goat kids. This year it took longer than planned as it was hard to find a time that worked for us both. It was so nice when it finally did work out, though, and Leah and Eva were able to come, too! This time we also made some brownies which the children had fun helping with - and of course, they liked eating them!

Molly, holding Eva, and one of her daughters

The children loved Eva

And they really loved spending time with the goats and feeding them branches! I kept busy breaking off a fresh supply of them for eager children. :)

Family Times

While times with family are pretty regular, taking pictures during them isn't! Here are a few, though, that were captured recently . . . .

She likes 'playing' the piano!

Enjoying the play kitchen things that Leah and I had when we were little

She really likes doing this puzzle with her Poppy!

And playing the piano with her Nana. :)

My dinner making helper one night

Storytime with her mommy

Niobrara Naturals

A post about the summer wouldn't be complete without at least a few photos of business related things! There aren't any new photos from the market (I have been staying too busy there to take any), but here are a few of the processes . . .

Natural goat milk soaps curing on the shelves - Grapefruit - Peppermint Tea Tree - Meadow Grove - Rosemary Peppermint - Citrus - Lemongrass - Lavender Oatmeal - Cedarwood

Another soap-making day! First batch of the morning was Meadow Grove . . . I snapped this photo in the middle of mixing in the Rose Kaolin clay (a natural colorant). Once it was finished, it was all a pretty pink and ready to pour into molds.

Time to cut some soap logs into bars . . . Meadow Grove - Lavender Oatmeal - and Rosemary Peppermint

Lavender Oatmeal Goat Milk Soap is a Customer Favorite, more of which is now cut into bars and curing 

Candle making day
- Cedarwood Vanilla - Sea Salt & Orchid - Peppermint Eucalyptus - English Garden
- Rain Water - Honeysuckle Jasmine - Blackberry Sage - Pumpkin Souffle - Lilac - Ocean Breeze

Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center

There aren't really words to describe what it is like volunteering here! I really love it. I am now volunteer instructing regularly, and it is so rewarding. Seeing the joy on faces, smiles, excited participation, skills developing and progressing, bodies strengthening, riders engaging more, words spoken more frequently, and much more.

With a special rider and friend and 'his' horse

Playing a game on horseback involving water on a hot summer day

Leah and Eva came one day to see everyone again! As you can see, Eva was the center of attention with the little girls. :)

Heading out for a trail ride with the Veteran's class (it is always an honor to work with them!)

I wasn't the one instructing this class so had fun sidewalking again with Will! He was one of the first riders I ever sidewalked with when I first started volunteering, and we have since formed quite a friendship and with his mom and sisters, too (they are the ones who came out to see the baby goat)

The State Fair Day that Wasn't

For weeks, Leah and I had been planning a fun sister day out at the State Fair at a time when Mom was free to watch Eva so it could be just us two. We were both really looking forward to it, and were excited once the day came and we were on our way! 

It is about an hour drive and when we were only about 5 miles away, my van started having issues. Significant ones. As in, we had to pull off and call a tow truck. So, as close as we got to the state fair was riding in a "State Fair Towing" tow truck back to my town and a vehicle repair shop! We had to laugh about that and make the best of it all! And we were able to have some good conversations with the driver (he was really nice) and share a booklet by Mark Cahill with him, too.

Dad picked us up at the repair shop, and then came deciding what to do with the rest of the time we had left. We opted to go to a nearby State Park, stopping on the way at Hobby Lobby as Leah needed some things. Our time ended up being so good and special! We had quiet afternoon together out in the peacefulness and beauty of the outdoors to talk deeply, connect, and enjoy the great blessing of being sisters. 

I didn't even think of taking pictures until we were ready to go and snapped this one real quick.

The State Fair Day that *Was* :)

There wasn't another day that would work for Leah to go to the State Fair, and it didn't look like there was for me either . . . and I have to say, I was disappointed. With how very busy it had been the last month, I had been looking forward to a relaxing and fun day away.

When the alarm went off early Saturday morning the last weekend of the fair, though, I was greeted by the sound of thunder and rain on the roof. A rainy, windy morning meant no farmers market for me since my products and rain aren't a good mix. So . . . my dear, spontaneous Mom said, "let's you and I go to the fair"! Which was quickly seconded by my dad.

She and Dad had their planned date morning together, and then she and I headed out for a much enjoyed mother/daughter time at the fair. We walked through nearly all the buildings, most of the horse stables and cattle barns, watched dairy cattle and dairy goat judging, visited the rabbit barn, watched a pony pull, sat and enjoyed a 'fair tradition' for us: a funnel cake and later state fair corn dogs, and the closing highlight was watching the Budweiser Clydesdales parade by right in front of us and then later watch them give us quite a show when they opened up the draft horse hitches. We had a great time together!

Some of the quilts in the Home-Ec building

Restored antique tractors on display - as you can see, the storms moved through and the afternoon was beautiful

We both loved seeing so many draft horses in the stables! Some of them, like this beautiful Belgian, liked being scratched.

A sleepy Brown Swiss. When we were walking through the dairy cow barns, I was admiring a Jersey when its owner asked if I would like to pet it. That cow was just like my goats and loved neck scratches!

The Clydesdales! Such stately and beautiful animals

In the arena showing how they could all maneuver together around to the other side, 180*, without the wagon moving. It was impressive! After this they made a couple more passes and figure eights around the arena at a trot and then cantered out of the arena. So neat to watch!

The start of the draft horse hitches began with the carts and children drivers age 7-12. We had hoped to be able to see the 6-horse draft hitches, but it was getting late so we headed for home after this class finished.

And there is a brief catch-up of some of the happenings the last couple months!

To close, this encouraging quote by Dave Hunt from The Berean Call came across my facebook newsfeed recently, and I hope it will be an encouragement to you as well:

"Yes, we dare not just mouth doctrine, but must live it. Don't forget, however, it is doctrine, God's truth, that we must live. Truth held in the head that is expressed only in words but not in deeds is hypocrisy. On the other hand, love without truth is sentimentality. Parents who fail to discipline their children (a veritable plague these days) do not really love them. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten," Christ says (Rev:3:19). Must we not do the same if His love is in us?

"How thrilling to know that God has a purpose for our lives. Yet many Christians sink into discouragement, discontent, depression and despair, feeling that their lives are too difficult, unhappy and meaningless. That should never be the case for any true believer. But what of the elderly, bedridden, or just ordinary Christians with seemingly little influence upon others?

"A life which is devoted to loving and praising God (no matter how lonely and hidden from men's eyes) may bring a greater reward in heaven than that of someone who is on radio, television, writes books, and is known worldwide. Be true to God first in all purity of heart devotion to Him, in diligent study of His Word and in prayer "without ceasing" (1 Thes:5:17). Trust Him to be your strength, to live His very life through you in the power of His Holy Spirit. Such a life of faith brings joy beyond expression!"