Thursday, November 30, 2006

Deer Hunting

Deer season came and went with not a great deal of excitement here. Ryan went hunting several times, but alas didn't get any deer. No deer, meant no butchering thus our November wasn't as full as it usually is. One evening, Leah and I went with him hunting out at his land. (Just to watch, not to hunt =). Ryan had made a straw bale blind that had room for three people in it. There were three openings to look out of. One large center one which was where he sat and then one small one on each side of the blind. We sat for hours in the chilly weather watching and waiting. Time went by and finally Ryan said, "I see one..." He had caught a glimpse of a deer through the trees, but it disappeared without coming any closer to our blind. Evening was approaching quickly and still no more deer in sight. We finally called it a night, and even though we had no meat to bring home, what fun we had together!

Looking out of the straw blind

Family Time

This past Sunday, before the cold front moved in, we spent a wonderful afternoon and evening out at Ryan's property.

Dad and Mom on the way out to Ryan's property

The weather was simply beautiful and we all had a marvelous time. When we first got to the property we picked up trash in the ditch next to the road. Working together we had an enjoyable time and completed our task quickly. Once that was done, we needed to do a bit of work to get set up for the dog training which included pounding three poles into the ground as markers. Dad and Ryan did this work and it sure was fun listening to them! They both then went squirrel hunting and after quite awhile with no squirrel's in sight, Mom, Leah and I went for a pleasant walk.




Friday, November 3, 2006

The Blessing of Children

Today has been a busy day with bread baking and house-cleaning. As I write, supper is in the oven and it smells so good! A mother recently asked me to sew a dress for her daughter with a pattern that she had found. I was happy to do it and the project promised to be fun as the dress was adorable!

Earlier this week the dress was completed and this afternoon the mother and her three young children came to our house to pick it up. They were also able to stay several hours, and while the mothers visited, Leah and I played with the children which was so enjoyable!

This girl (and she's wearing her new dress :) loved playing with the old wood-burning cook stove. (It had been found in the basement of a house that my grandparents bought many years ago). We also have many other antiques, some of which have been passed down through the family, and the children were so curious about them. Thus I gave a brief 'history lesson' about pioneer life, 'cattle kickers', cream cans, ice hooks, hay hooks, etc. They loved it! As did I. They also enjoyed "sewing" with my treadle sewing machine and kept taking turns for the longest time!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Striving to Serve Him

Saturday, October 21st, we celebrated a special someone's birthday - Ryan turned 24! Due to rain we couldn't go to the shooting range to shoot blue rock as he would have liked, but we had an enjoyable time playing games together indoors. In our family, each person can pick a special meal to have on their birthday. It has become tradition that every October 21st we have turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, dressing, corn casserole and rolls. (It's quite similar to our yearly Thanksgiving dinner as that is Ryan's favorite meal.) So we all enjoyed the treat of a delicious dinner! All in all, we had a wonderful day enjoying each others company, and how thankful I am that God blessed our family with Ryan!

Our girls group has been going very well and we have certainly felt the Lord leading. We have quickly formed relationships with each of the girls we are working with and Thursdays are anticipated by all. Over the past two weeks we have made muffins together, gathered and pressed leaves, made a verse card with a Scripture about being a "keeper at home" (which is the topic that we have been discussing) and worked on the cross-stitches. Earlier this month, Leah and I spent some time with Ellie to do our basic planning for the weeks in November and I'm looking forward to another exciting month.

Group photo (minus one of the girls who was sick this day and the photographer - me=)

Several months ago our family studied the word 'deny' as used in Scripture. Since then, I have been often examining my life as I go through my day. Why am I doing this particular task? What is my heart attitude? Am I doing this as a service to others and to God or simply because I want to do it? Why am I reading the Scriptures? Because I know I need to, or because my heart is eager to learn and grow in my walk with Christ? Trying to develop this "examiner's heart" in my life has been somewhat difficult as every thought pattern, facial expression, spoken word and my actions all need to be examined closely through the light of God's Word to see if I am being obedient to Him. Truly denying oneself begins in the heart and it takes conscious effort. I need to be constantly "Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."(2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB); and to have the mind "which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 KJV).

The past few months has truly been enlightening to me, but also I see how much of my time is spent in satisfying my own selfish and often petty desires. After the examination and discovery of areas of 'self' in my life, comes the surrender of these to Christ. The cry of my heart is that I rest in my Savior. That as I go through my day, it will be less of me and more of Him. What joy to know that His promise is true that if we give our heart and will fully to Him, He will guide us in the path of Truth.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Girls Group

Fall has officially arrived as of September 23rd and the leaves on the trees are changing into brilliant shades of orange, yellow, and red and the farmers are beginning their soybean and corn harvests. However yesterday it felt like summer made a reappearance as the temperature reached 94 degrees! Perfect weather for training our Chesapeakes and Golden on water retrieves (which we were able to do this morning). This afternoon/evening though, the temperature has fallen and it feels more like fall with a steady, somewhat chilly, breeze.

My days have been enjoyably full the past few weeks with cleaning, sewing, animal chores, fiddle practice, helping with the dog training, teaching sewing lessons on Mondays, preparing for and then leading girls group on Thursdays, and many other things.

Girls group has been going very well. We began August 31st and since have met together three times. The girls are all so special and how I've enjoyed our times together! A dear friend of ours, Ellie, is also helping with the group and what a blessing she is. Over the past few weeks, we have taught and discussed the importance of reading and obeying Scripture, and the qualities of love and kindness. Out of the different activities we've done, the girls' favorite so far is cross-stitching. They are always so eager to work on their projects and it brings a smile to my face to see them bent over their work with such focus and determination!

The girls working diligently on their cross-stitches with occasional assistance from Leah, Ellie and I.

Another fun activity that we have done was to make candy. It was a simple recipe and first we made the candy correctly - following the recipe exactly. Then we asked the girls if they thought it would be more fun to make it our own way and not follow the instructions. The girls were a bit hesitant to do this, but Leah and I dived right in to making the most interesting and horrible smelling concoction. It didn't take long for the girls to begin suggesting different ingredients to add. In the end there was applesauce, corn, vinegar, lemon juice, ketchup, mustard, salt, tortilla chips, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, etc in it. After they saw what we had contrived following our own plan, they agreed that following the recipe was much better. We then drew a parallel between making the candy and following God's Word. Each has instructions for us to follow and obey. When we follow the teachings of Scripture, the results are good and pleasing to God. Just like when we followed the recipe for candy, the results were pleasing to our tastes. But when we go our own way, the result is just like our smelly and awful tasting "candy" that we made. Previously we had read and discussed several verses regarding the truth of God's Word, its importance in our lives and why we need to obey it. For God said "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" John 14:15. Through this object lesson the girls began to understand more clearly the importance of obedience to God.

Leah helping the girls as they measured out ingredients.

Laying out the candy to harden on wax paper

Clean-up time!

As tomorrow is another Thursday, much of today Leah and I spent in planning and preparation. Last week the girls made greeting cards and tomorrow we will be learning how to write and compose a letter. They will then write in their cards and learn how to address an envelope. We will also be teaching more in-depth on kindness. And as usual, the girls will be working on their cross-stitches and writing in their journals about what they have learned. In a nutshell, this is some of what we have been doing and we are looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Family Reunion

This past weekend my family and I made our annual trek up to the small town of Spencer, Nebraska for the our Family Reunion. What a blessed time we had!

Before writing about our wonderful trip, let me share what led to some of the events of the weekend: Family and our family history is important to not only us, but also to our extended family. As a result, and as we do a great deal of work with computers, last year several relatives sent family history photos home with us for us to scan, make copies of, and then to save the photos to c.d.'s. Our goal was to give the c.d.'s away at the reunion so others would have access to the photos also. This year, we decided to bring our computer with us in order to scan photos at the reunion, thus making it more convenient for others to share photos as many of our relatives live near Spencer.

(Due to my interest in family history, my Dad had encouraged me to build a website for this purpose, and many of the photos that we scanned I also put on the website.

We planned to leave for the reunion Friday the 15th, and the morning dawned early at our house as we took care of our animals and packed the truck in the dark. Once we were all packed, we headed northwest. First, we drove to Norfolk, Nebraska where my Dad's parents live and visited them and some of his siblings for several hours before heading to O'Neill, Nebraska where we would stay the night. Saturday morning we drove the 30 mile stretch from O'Neill to Spencer. This is some of my favorite country and I always look forward to this beautiful drive. Miles and miles of rolling prairie as far as the eye can see, cattle and horses grazing in the pastures, farms scattered across the countryside. Something about it is so captivating! My Dad grew up on a Nebraska farm and both he and I share a love for the prairie.

I photographed this on our drive from O'Neill to Spencer. The grasses and sky were so beautiful and the picture was complete with the lone windmill on the horizon.

Once arriving in Spencer, it was so wonderful to see our relatives again and to get caught up on what has been going on in everyone's lives the past year. Shortly after we arrived, Ryan set up the computer and scanner. As some relatives had brought photos with them to the reunion, Dad and I began scanning. Once we began, others who live near Spencer went home to get photos which kept us busy throughout most of the day. We scanned about 150 photos at high resolution which is a lengthy, but fun, process! As we worked, others would be looking at the photos and would recall memories and would be sharing stories. How enjoyable it was to hear my great aunts and uncles sharing about going to school in one room schoolhouses, taking care of farm chores together, bringing in the hay, etc.

Leah, our Great-Aunt Irene looking at photos and her daughter Donna helping to identify those in the photos
Me sorting and identifying photos and Dad scanning

Speaking of memories, we also were able to visit my great-great grandparents Joseph and Antonia's homestead which is located only a few miles outside of Spencer. It is not owned by anyone in our family, but the gentleman who owns it is so kind as to let us visit the place. Many of us caravanned out to the farm and going there gave fruit to even more stories and reminiscing. The original farmhouse, hog shed, chicken house and barn are still standing, but weather and not being cared for is taking its toll on the buildings. There are also many items at the farm that would have belonged to my great-great grandparents when they homesteaded, including an old well pump outside.

Here are some photos of the farm:

THEN: My Great-great Grandmother Antonia with three of her daughters in front of the barn.

NOW: My Grandpa and my Dad and his siblings in front of the barn.

The rest of the the weekend was spent in visiting, taking photos, enjoying hearty home-style cooking, and then saying our goodbyes.

Family is very important to us and the Family reunion is one of our highlights of the year. The relationships that are formed, the bonds that are strengthened year after year and the love that we all have for one another is something I will never forget.

Once again, we are looking forward to the reunion next September!

Me, Leah, Grandma, Grandpa, Ryan, Mom and Dad

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Exciting News!

It has been a busy month so far here! From celebrating Leah's 18th birthday (on the 18th!), clearing some of our woods, practicing our music (we've actually gotten so we can play some songs together now!) and trying to keep up with our normal tasks. In the midst of all that, we've also been planning a girl's group at our home.

For the past several months (almost a year in fact), Leah and I have spent much time in counsel with our parents and in prayer, seeking the Lord's guidance in how we should specifically minister. Our hearts desire was to work with children as we love them dearly and it is always such a blessing to spend time with them and to teach them. With the Lord's leading and our parents direction, Leah and I are starting a 'girl's group' that will meet at our home. Every week we will have young girls out to our home in order to teach them homemaking skills (cleaning, cooking/baking, gardening, etc.) and the virtues that God has instructed women and young ladies to have. Our desire is to share with young ladies some of what God has taught us through His Word in order to aid them on their journey towards godly womanhood.

Earlier this month we sent out invitations and letters to families explaining what we will be doing and our first day will be this Thursday, August 31st. It has been so encouraging to see the Lord's hand guiding and directing us through the whole planning and preparation process. My prayer is that all that we teach and do with these girls will be Him working through us and not our own flesh... that the Holy Spirit will be our guide and that our time with these girls will bring glory to our Lord's name.

Monday, August 7, 2006

An Evening with Friends

This past weekend, we were blessed by having dinner, fellowship, and music with dear friends of ours. Whenever our families get together, we always have such a wonderful time. From music, to horse-back riding, to walking, to simply visiting, whatever we do, it is always so enjoyable!

Saturday, after dinner and before music, Ellie, her sisters Anna and Emily, and Leah and I went for a walk together and also visited some of their animals. First came Anna and Emily's kittens Willy-Wonka and Chocolate (cute names, don't you think?) and then we were able to go see the horses: Lady, which is Ellie's horse, Charm is Ellie's mother's older mare, Daisy - a little pony, and Raven - a Tennessee Walker.

And a night together is never complete without... Music!!!

Mom on the hammered dulcimer, Leah and I playing fiddle, and Ryan and James on guitar. And just out of reach of the camera on the left is Bryan also playing fiddle.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Exploring Ryan's Land

My, has it been hot in Missouri the past few weeks! Yesterday our thermometer read 104 degrees. Between our normal 'busyness' and giving fresh cool water to our animals (dogs, waterfowl and pigeons) throughout the day, we've managed to squeeze in some exciting events! We were able to go to the Boone County Fair and enjoy the 'Fiddler's Frolic'. Fiddlers from across Missouri gathered together to play along with many instrumentalists accompanying with guitar, banjo, bass, accordion, and cello. We didn't play ourselves, but some of our friends played fiddle and guitar.

The closing for Ryan's land was postponed until this past week and now 20.6 acres are officially his. We are so excited! Saturday morning Ryan and I went exploring and attempted to find the boundary markers. We didn't find them, but we sure had a fun time walking through the woods that border the field. There is a little creek that runs along one side of his property (it doesn't have water in it now), but it is quite picturesque as it winds through the ravines. All in all we had a great time even amidst the heat and the ticks.

Ryan looking at an aerial map of his property

The creek bed

On a more serious note, our family has been studying the word 'deny' in regard to the Scripture passages that use that word. As a result we realized that two different Greek words are translated into English as the same word 'deny'. One, arneomai, means - to deny, disown, renounce, repudiate; to say no, etc. The other, aparneomai, is a strengthened form of arneomai, meaning 'to deny utterly'. Utterly, as defined by The Random House College Dictionary (printed 1975), means: completely, totally, absolutely, unconditionally.

The majority of the words 'deny' and its various forms (denies, denied, etc.) in our English translations are translated from the Greek word arneomai, but what is interesting is that the stronger word, aparneomai - to deny utterly, is used in Mark 8:24: "And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'"

Realizing this has led to an in-depth study on what does it truly mean to deny ourselves in order to follow Christ. It is to deny ourselves utterly, completely; to not do anything simply for self-pleasure, but only for the purpose of either glorifying our God in heaven, or edifying our brothers and sisters in the Lord. If it is not fulfilling those purposes, it is of self and anything of self and not of the Lord is sin. This is a convicting thought! And one that, for me anyway, needs a lot of examination of my heart to see what areas of my life I am still satisfying my own pleasures and not serving the Lord fully and completely. May we, as "bondslaves" of God, strive to continue growing in our Lord, to continue ridding ourselves of the "encumbrances of the world" so that we may be presented to our Bridegroom, "pure and spotless".

*Some of this information was taken from Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"The Word of our God . . ."

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

This verse came to mind after seeing and photographing this daylily. Something so beautiful lasts for a day and then passes away, but our God and His Word endures forever.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"He Owns the Cattle . . ."

(Photo is of the pasture that is next door to us)

Isn't the care of our Lord amazing?! I love animals and how I enjoy spending time in God's creation... the more I study and learn about the world around me, the more in awe I stand of our Creator. He is all-knowing and all-powerful, He is loving, and He is worthy of all our praise.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Aww . . .

One of my sewing students moved away several months ago... what a surprise to receive this photo in the mail! Thank you, Abbie!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ryan is Going to be a Landowner!

My brother Ryan recently purchased 20 acres of land (in fact the closing date is this Friday!). Presently the land is rented out to a farmer who has soybeans planted in it. It will be a beautiful place to live and next spring we will plant grass on the land and once that grows it will be perfect for dog training. The land is about 25 minutes from us and that is a huge blessing to have Ryan so close! Though, he will continue living at home until he is able to build a house out there. The property is absolutely beautiful - gently rolling with a border of trees on three sides and highway frontage on the front side (a small highway between two small rural towns). We've been out several times 'exploring'. Through this whole experience it has been amazing to see God's provision and leading! Looking back now, we see so many different circumstances that all coincided to Ryan being able to purchase this property.

Our second walk out on the land! Wildlife is abundant here including many bird species, large populations of deer (we even saw some decent size bucks!), fox, raccoon and more. As we all love spending time in God's creation, this is a great place for us!

A view from the land looking toward the front side of the property. Our truck is right in front of the highway. Behind the road is open pasture. Beautiful!

Monday, June 26, 2006

At Grandma's House

We recently took a family trip to Oakland, Nebraska to visit my great-grandmother on my Mom's side. Here are some photos from the trip...

Mom and Grandma Laurel looking at family photos of our ancestors. Grandma had saved many photographs and it was so enjoyable to look at all of them! Many were on their original cardboard mats.

Me and Grandma Laurel

Time for Music! Dad and Ryan played their guitars, Leah played guitar and fiddle, Mom played hammered dulcimer and my Grandma's old pump organ, and I played fiddle and hammered dulcimer. We all began playing our 'folk' instruments about two years ago and we are still in the category of beginners, maybe advanced beginner, but none-the-less we still have a LONG way to go!!! But we had a great time and our Grandma enjoyed the music - and that was the most important thing!

Ryan and Leah