Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the Kitchen and a Lesson on Humility

Our time with the girls this past week was indeed enjoyable and fun! A few of the girls arrived fairly early so we had some time to simply sit and visit with them which was a blessing . . . they are quieter girls so this "one on one" time with them was especially nice.

Once everyone had arrived, we started right in on the project for the day. As our previous plans of working in the vegetable garden were not going to be able to happen due to rain, we found ourselves in the kitchen putting together "Au Gratin Potatoes" (unfortunately, not very many of the photos taken during this time turned out! At least there are a few, though. :)

Spraying the Dish

Helping wash the dishes

Writing a Recipe Card

The finished (and very delicious!) product

Our lesson for the day was on humility . . . several months ago, w
e had memorized a verse from Colossians which reads:

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;” Colossians 3:12

Since memorizing this verse, we have discussed the attributes of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience . . . and now we were going to learn about 'humility'. We first looked up the definition of 'humility' in the dictionary and discussed it as well as reading and discussing the definition of 'pride':

Humility: 1. freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth. 2. humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one's own unworthiness in the sight of God, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.

Pride: Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one's own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.

When we look at Scripture and the definitions of the above words, we can see that:

1) We are to have humility before God.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10

2) We are to have humility towards others.

. . . and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5b

We discussed these verses in-depth before reading Ephesians 4:1-3:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Having humility, being humble, is a part of this walking in a manner worthy of one's calling.

In Philippians, we found that we are to:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4

Humility is the opposite of selfishness and conceit. And as always, Christ is our perfect example of humility:

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-9

After discussing the above verses, we concluded our little study by asking the girls "How do you think humility would be expressed in our lives?" The girls shared some ideas which we talked about for a bit before moving on to the next thing . . . cross-stitching!

Before long the potatoes were ready to come out of the oven, and we all enjoyed a sample of them. Mmm . . . were they ever delicious! Next came putting some in containers for the girls to bring home, and then it was time to say goodbye. Now we can all look forward to next week!

Friday, May 29, 2009

If You Give a Dog a Bath . . .

. . . You are bound to get wet!! At least with our dogs. :) Today I did not mind that, though, as the morning was spent in the vegetable garden weeding and cultivating followed by mowing the lawn and by the time those things were finished, I was rather warm!

Leah and I joined forces and together gave both of our dogs a bath (which was much easier than doing it by ourselves!) . . . so while I bathed Lassie (my Collie), Leah held her and then vice-versa when it was Mandy's (Leah's Golden Retriever) turn. You should see their faces when they see us carrying the shampoo and leash and then when we hook up the hose! Their ears go down, their tails go between their legs, and they have the most pitiful expressions on their faces! Once the bath actually starts, though, they pretty much resign themselves to their fate . . .

Mandy's turn!

One thing about Mandy, when she gets a bath, she loves to shake during it!

Lassie after her bath and looking much happier than she was beforehand.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Moving Day" for the Chicks

Our little chicks have been growing by leaps and bounds, and they quickly outgrew the indoor tub that they were in. Leah had prepared a small pen outdoors for them, so they are now enjoying their new home . . .

Shortly after being moved to their new home - they were still a bit wary of it at this point!

One of the Barred Rocks

One of Leah's Buff Orpington's and a Cinnamon Queen

The chicks are all doing really well, and they are so enjoyable to watch! Most of them have their wing and tail feathers in, and they have had fun attempting to fly . . .

So now there are two sets of 'chicken' chores to do . . . though, caring for the laying hens is not quite as fun as taking care of the chicks. :)

The chicken coop (and storage area up above:) with the laying hens free-ranging in the front (well, 'sort-of' free-ranging - they are in a large fenced in area.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Specialness Is . . .

. . . Spending time with my Dad . . .

He and I enjoying time together during a recent evening

Monday, May 25, 2009

Snapshots from the Garden

The garden continues to grow, and it is just about to the point that all it needs is maintenance until harvest time arrives. The first major weeding has been finished (there is just some minor weeding that needs to be done from time to time now), the mulching that we wanted to do is just about all complete (we will not be mulching around the squash and green beans), only a small amount of thinning remains to be done, and there are only a few things left to plant (which we'll be doing mostly with our girls group.) Now is one of the fun parts . . . watching everything grow! This is how it is looking so far (the first photo is taken from the 'tower' of the swing set that our Dad made for us when we were little) . . .

As one of my readers was interested in the layout of the garden, I thought I would share what all is planted and where to give a better idea of what it is like.

--The green beans are in the very back section and the tilled part to the left of them is going to be more green beans
--The furthest left wide row towards the front has Broccoli and Cauliflower followed by a three foot wide planting of beets

--The next row has Green Leaf Lettuce, Red Leaf Lettuce, Spinach, Radishes, Turnips, Carrots, and then newly planted Cilantro, Dill and Basil
--The last row on that side is a partial row that has Onions and Scallions
--The center portion of the garden has hills of yellow squash (2), zucchini (4), pie pumpkins (6), winter squash (2), and then it will have two hills of small gourds also.
--On the far right are two rows of tomato plants (up to the trellis), then there are cucumbers planted in front of the trellis with peppers to the left and back of that.

Another photo of the left side of the garden
(I still need to finish thinning the lettuce.)

The Beets

The cucumbers that I replanted are up! I was glad that our last heavy rain did not hinder their germination and growth.

This year Mama also planted some rhubarb back behind part of the vegetable garden, and it is doing really well . . . we are all looking forward to things such as strawberry-rhubarb jam!

We've also been able to begin harvesting some produce from the garden! (This is one of my favorite parts of gardening. :) Fresh pulled radishes accompanied Saturday evenings' dinner, and some broccoli that was just recently harvested will be enjoyed today . . .

Fresh picked (and washed) radishes

In other 'agricultural' news, our wild plum trees are loaded with fruit this year! Last year there was hardly any fruit on the trees compared to this year, and I think the higher numbers of bees this year played a factor in that. I can hardly wait until it is time to start making plum jelly again!

Wild plums

What a fun and exciting next few months this will be with all of the harvesting, preserving and enjoying of fresh produce from our garden!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

The time of year has come again . . . the days have been warm, the grass has been growing . . . haying season has arrived! This past week was a perfect week for it, too, with 0% to 10% chances of rain every single day. Ryan got the hay cut and raked earlier in the week, and then yesterday, he raked it again and baled it, and we all went out to pick the bales up and stack them.

Compared to last year, this experience was amazing! Last year it rained every few days pretty much all spring and summer making it difficult to hay, and we also had so many equipment problems! This year, however, the weather was near perfect and everything went so smoothly.

Ryan baling the hay
Just for fun, I took a quick video of Ryan baling to give you all an idea of what it looks and sounds like. Though, it is much more enjoyable to hear and see in person!

Haying is one of my favorite things to do with my family . . . there is just something about doing farm work together that is very enjoyable. Plus, we all have so much fun together while doing the work that it can hardly be classified as 'work'!

Dad loading bales

Once we arrived out at Ryan's yesterday, he finished up the baling while Dad, Leah and I loaded up bales and Mom did the driving We had a great time hauling and stacking bales, and Leah and I got a laugh out of watching each other try to get them up onto the third layer on the trailer! Let's just say that we can't buck bales quite as good as the guys can. :)

Our driver.

Dad and I waiting to load bales onto the trailer until Mom drove up to the right spot - there was some light-hearted teasing going on between Dad and I right about now . . . such fun times!

We're still not fully used to the warm days yet so the sun felt rather hot yesterday! But clouds drifted across the sun from time to time which made it more pleasant and there was a slight breeze, too.

Leah resting on the trailer load of hay while we waited for . . . hmm . . . I cannot remember what for now!

Me during the trailer unloading

Loading up the trailer with bales

At one point, we had set our hay hooks on the bales while we took a break and when we went back to unload hay, the handles were so hot! Leah afforded us some entertainment as she attempted to cool off the handles of her hooks . . .

Leah blowing on the hay hooks


Unloading the trailer - well, in this photo, the guys are at least!

Me helping to unload and stack the bales

This year was also more enjoyable to work with the bales as the hay was so much better quality than last year (due to it actually being able to be baled on time as there was not all the rain like last year!), plus the bales were better shaped as we're figuring out more how to overcome the baler's little 'quirks'. Once the stack got some size to it, I had the pleasure of resting against it in the shade while smelling the delicious smell of hay . . . there is nothing quite like it!

The stack is growing taller!

Our time out haying seemed to fly by, and it was filled with many smiles, a bit of teasing, much laughter, some serious conversation, and overall it was a thoroughly delightful time. Before long the one hundred and fifty bales or so were all in a nice stack and covered with a tarp, and it was time to head home.

Dad and Ryan walking across the freshly mowed and baled field

We ladies riding up to the stack on the trailer (we were bringing up the last of the bales.) Dad actually snapped this photo while he was driving by simply picking up the camera, aiming it backwards (without looking!) and pushing the button!

*Just a note . . . as we were unable to have girls group this past week (as I have been sick with a cold), there will not be a girls group post today. Hopefully we'll be able to meet together again next week, and I'm sure there will be lots to share then!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Evening Walk

Last evening, Leah and I took a walk around our property and here is a little glimpse into our wonderful time together . . .

One of Mom's flower gardens

Blooming Daisies

Leah removing the dead Iris flowers

Our neighbor's pasture

Looking out across the pasture

A portion of Leah's flower garden

Little flowers blooming in Leah's garden

Walking along a path through our woods

"O LORD, how many are your works! In wisdom You have made them all . . . Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well . . ." (Psalm 104:24 a and Psalm 139:14b)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Mother, My Friend . . .

Yesterday marked a very special day in our family . . . my dear mother's birthday! I am so very thankful for the mother that the Lord has blessed me with, and I learn so much from her example. She is a cheerful servant, a hard-worker, an encourager, compassionate, and one who always seems to bring fun to whatever we are doing. But most of all, I appreciate and have been blessed by her relationship with the Lord . . . thank you Mom for everything that you are to us!

On her birthday with a special gift from Dad . . . an enlarged and framed print of one of the very few photos that we have of her grandmother.

Yesterday we celebrated Mom's birthday with cake, ice cream, gifts and a delightful time together; but prior to that, on Sunday, we took a family trip (in honor of her birthday :) out
to Eagle Bluffs Conservation area to bird-watch. What a fun time we had! Our favorite parts were walking along the trees while watching and trying to identify the quickly moving warblers. We took a tally of all the different species of birds that we saw during the day (though, not just the ones at the conservation area) and our grand total was near sixty different species of birds . . . from the tiny Northern Parula (a beautiful warbler!) to the large and graceful Great Blue Heron and then many in-between. Below are some photos from our trip (some of which are Ryan's.)

Dad, Mom, and Leah looking at birds . . . there were a lot of warblers right in here!

Me looking at a Solitary Sandpiper

Following the Leader . . . a pair of Canada Geese with their goslings
Leah walking along the road

A Dickcissel singing away . . . they have a beautiful song!
Mom and Leah looking at the Northern Parula in the bird book

The turtles afforded Mom a special delight . . . she loves seeing them, and there were a lot of them basking on logs and branches in the water.

Looking out across a part of Eagle Bluffs

A Great-Blue Heron

After this, we took a quick drive out to Ryan's in order to spray the fruit trees, and we also walked a bit there too . . .

Mom and Leah getting the sprayer ready

Walking over to join the others

Looking out across the food plot

It was so very relaxing to get away and simply spend some time enjoying each other's company while being out in God's creation. These times are truly some of our family's favorites!!