Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Give Thanks to the Lord"

This is what my heart is so full of right now . . . thankfulness to the Lord for 
all of His many blessings including . . .

-- My dear family . . . and especially the newest little blessing, Ava Rose!

(The photos shared below were all taken this past Thursday 
during our day together for Thanksgiving.)

Leah holding Ava . . . and wherever Ava is, Adelyn is often found, too :)

Dad and Ryan discussing either something theological or something about farming (I can't remember which was being talked about at the time!)

Mom rocking Ava shortly after they arrived

Enjoying our Thanksgiving meal together

Gracen is our little adventurous one and is always getting herself into fixes . . . here, she crawled inside the end table, and then got stuck!

Dad and Adelyn having a lot of fun together!

Rocking little Ava for a long time while she slept . . . I love times like these!

Leah is going to crochet Ava a pair of booties and a hat so Ashley was looking at her Etsy shop and picking out what colors they wanted

Helping her Grandma wash dishes (while wearing my apron. :)

Her 'camera smile' :)

Other blessings I am thankful for . . .

-- The special and fun times that we have together as a family (of which the above is a taste :)

-- My health . . . sometimes when I look back at this past summer, it is hard to believe all that happened. Despite how hard it was, I am thankful to the Lord for that season and for all that He taught me through it, and also so thankful for the complete healing that He has given!

-- Friends (including 'blogging friends') . . . who encourage me in the Lord and bless me with their sweet thoughtfulness and friendship.

-- Brothers and sisters in the Lord from whom I can learn and grow from.

-- The Lord's continual guidance, discipline, love, patience, grace, faithfulness and so much more.  What a wonderful Father and Shepherd He is!

-- God's Word which is truly "the lamp for my feet and the light for my path."

 -- Our little farm . . . it has grown and changed so much these past few years!

-- Opportunities . . . for ministry, home businesses, conferences, learning new skills, etc.

-- Music . . . both playing and singing

-- Creation . . . spending time outdoors continues to be one of my favorite things! So restful and peaceful . . . from watching beautiful sunsets, to going bird watching, to walks through our woods, and more.

And all of this is barely a drop in the bucket. :) My cup truly does "runneth over"!

And as I look back over this past year and see how He has worked and blessed in so many ways, how can one not trust such a God and loving Father as He? Fully resting and trusting in Him and giving thanks for each new day, each new trial, each new blessing . . . for through all of them, the Lord can work . . . and He is working.  I love the promise in Romans that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28.) How true this is!

What are some of the things you are thankful for this year?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving . . .

To all of my American readers, may you have a blessed and special Thanksgiving today!

(and to everyone else, may you have a wonderful day as well! :)

"Oh give thanks to the LORD,
Call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
speak of all His wonders,
glory in His holy name;
let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
Seek the LORD and His strength;
seek His face continually."
Psalm 105:1-4

"Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
and His faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter is on Its Way

The calendar says that the official beginning of winter is still about a month away, but it has certainly felt wintry here as of late! Much more like the middle of January, than November . . .

~ We awoke one morning to a temperature outdoors of 12 degrees and a 4 degree wind chill . . . brr! Rather chilly weather to be out breaking ice out of animal waterers, etc. :)

The trees are mostly bare now

~ I was temporarily back to bringing all of the rabbit water bottles inside to thaw twice a day (thankfully day-time highs back in the 30's and sunshine have brought an end to that for the time being!)

Inside the rabbitry

~ Monday morning of this week when Leah and I were headed out to spend the day helping Ashley, we drove through a snow shower . . . the first of the season! It was so pretty to see the first snow falling gently to the ground.

Yes, winter is indeed on its way!

In preparation for this upcoming season, I spent some time a few weeks ago winterizing our beehives. In our location, there isn't a great deal that needs to be done which is nice! All that I needed to do was to remove each of the sugar syrup feeders (which was a little interesting :) - this time of year the bees do not like having their hives disrupted!), replace all of the inner covers (a thin board that goes on the top of the hive boxes and has a narrow opening in the center which helps with ventilation, etc.), put dry sugar on top of the inner covers (which not only provides an emergency food source if the bees should need it, but also helps to absorb excess moisture in the hive), and then finally, reduce all of the entrances. 

Two of the hives

Now the hives are all set until spring! Though come mid-February or so when warm days start occurring again, from time to time, I'll likely start taking quick peeks occasionally to see how things are. It's nice to have a bit of a break from beekeeping now, though I'm already starting to anticipate spring and seeing if we will have been able to successfully overwinter all five hives. This is our third year to overwinter hives and the greatest number of hives we have tried overwintering before, so it will be interesting to see how it goes!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Psalm to Share

The Psalms are full of beautiful imagery, convicting truth, adoration and praise of God that fills one's heart with awe for the Lord, close fellowship that is seen between the psalmist and the Lord God, and so much more . . . I love reading them! And the one that I read last night before bed really spoke to my heart (it's one of my favorites!) . . . I hope that the portion of it shared below will be a blessing to you as well . . . .

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly;
My soul thrists for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to You; 
Your right hand upholds me . . . ."
Psalm 63:1-8 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Photos from Our Week

The days have certainly been full here as of late! My Mom has been making meals for Ryan and Ashley so we've been bringing them over there about every other day, then both Monday and Tuesday Leah and I spent the day at their place as well. Ashley is on lifting restrictions for a couple of weeks which means no lifting of Adelyn or Gracen so that makes things a little more difficult for them. Thankfully Ryan is off work for two weeks which has been a blessing for all of them! As he had some fence building to do this week, though, Leah and I went over there on those days and enjoyed helping where we could, playing with our nieces, and having some 'sister time' with Ashley, Leah, and I. Once the girls went down for their naps in the afternoons, we had opportunity for quiet and uninterrupted times visiting which was really nice! It was hard to leave when it was time to head for home. :)

Adelyn and Gracen are here today again as Ryan and Ashley had some appointments and errands to run, and as I type, they are taking their naps so the house is rather quiet. :) With having so much time with all of us together, I had a lot of opportunity to take photos so here is a conglomeration of special times captured over the past week!

Ryan, Ashley and Ava . . . they have really been enjoying their 'new' life as a family of five!

Sweet little Ava content on her Mommy's shoulder . . . she definitely knows who her Mommy is and recognizes her voice, too.

Me and sweet little Ava . . . this is one of her favorite positions to be in, and she was content to be held this way for a long time which I didn't mind!

Her little fingers wrapped around Mom's

Grinning in her sleep . . . so cute!

Mom rocking sleeping Ava and loving every minute of it :)

Beautiful, little Ava . . . she is so precious!

Dad playing with Gracen

This photo is rather blurry, but it is one of the few we have of Gracen with Ava . . . Gracen was being so loving to her baby sister here! She is slowly but surely learning what it means to be 'gentle'. :)

Gracen helping her Daddy make toast in the morning

One day, Ashley let Adelyn help hold Ava and I wish I would have been able to capture the expression on Adelyn's face when she first helped pick her up! It was priceless! She's giving her kisses here . . . she loves being a big sister!

 Ava looking at her Aunt Leah

And sleeping safely in her Daddy's arms

Yes, we have certainly had some wonderful times here as of late! And with the promise of many more to come. :)

On a rather different note, last Friday evening when Mom and I were coming back from Ryan and Ashley's, we had quite an interesting experience! It was dark, and we were on the highway going about 55-60 mph. We came up over a hill and around a curve and all of a sudden, there was something big lying dead in the middle of our lane! I didn't even have time to fully process what I saw and tell mom (who was driving) 'there's a deer!', before we had hit it and gone right over it. I remember feeling quite a jolt and being thrown forward a bit as the car went over the deer. Thankfully, Mom was able to keep control of the car, and once we got over the initial shock and realized what had happened and that we were safely driving down the road again, we started wondering . . . is the car all right? The brakes still worked, everything sounded fine, and all of the gauges were normal thankfully! We were thanking the Lord again and again for His hand of protection over us as it could have been a lot worse!

The rest of the drive home seemed long, and we were glad to finally pull into our driveway safely. Dad went and looked at the car after we had shared the story with him, and thankfully, there was very little damage (albeit our car was rather . . . a mess underneath, and in need of a good washing!) From the looks of underneath the car, the front passenger tire went right over the deer which would explain why I felt such a jolt and why my back was hurting as much as it was afterwards. Mom was a little sore the next day, too, but thankfully didn't suffer any other ill effects!

So that was a memorable experience that we hope we don't have again. :)

Well, time has been ticking and Adelyn and Gracen will likely be waking up from their naps soon . . . so I'm off to take care of a few things (such as some cleaning) before they do!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Introducing Niobrara Farms Etsy Store

Today was a much enjoyed day for Leah and I as we spent it helping Ryan and Ashley out at their place. We just got home a little while ago and have a brief time before evening chores and making dinner, so I thought I would take a moment and share with you all this post!


After a great deal of planning, working, and preparing, I am excited 
to be able to share that my new Etsy store is now open! (As of last week. :)

When I first began making soap and realized how much I enjoyed it, I hoped that someday, I would be able to venture into selling my goat milk soaps . . . and now that dream is a reality!

There are three varieties offered so far with more that I hope to add over time. I have many ideas swirling around in my mind of scents and additives to try as well as several new varieties that are already in process. It's been fun to experiment and try different combinations!

If you would like, you are welcome to stop by my shop at Niobrara Farms!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Our Week in Pictures

What a wonderful week this has been! My heart is so full with all of the many blessings that the Lord has given during these days and especially the newest little bundle of joy. :) There has been so much happiness packed into so few days! From snuggling and enjoying the sweetness of little Ava while looking into her adorable face marveling at God's handiwork in such a tiny, perfect little treasure; to laughing, snuggling, singing, playing, cooking, and much more with Adelyn and Gracen; to sweet moments sharing about the Lord with them; to watching Ryan and Ashley loving and caring for their newest blessing; to seeing the love and joy expressed by all members of my family (and thanking the Lord yet again for the dear family He has blessed me with!); for the fun times we've all been enjoying together; and everything in between. These have indeed been special days . . . and very memorable ones!

To start at the beginning, we had all been eagerly anticipating 'the' phone call that baby was on the way. But slowly the days passed by after her due date and while a lot of other calls came, that one didn't. Every time the phone would ring, my heart would do a little jump and the excitement would start building . . . was this it? After many false alarms :), finally the call came this past Sunday at four something in the morning . . . baby was on her way!

Ryan and Ashley dropped Adelyn and Gracen off at our house and headed to the hospital, and thus began our wonderful week.

Adelyn snuggling with Leah shortly after they arrived at our house

And Gracen with her "Poppy" (she calls him that now, too! In fact, she calls him 'Poppy Dear' [we think because of the book we read them called 'Baby Dear'] . . . it is so cute!) . . . Gracen didn't seem to realize that it was only 5 in the morning and was rather energetic. :)

All throughout the day, we were all anticipating the next phone call that baby had arrived. Many times throughout the day, we would talk with Adelyn and Gracen about their baby sister, and they were getting so excited . . . especially Adelyn! Whenever she would talk about her baby sister, she'd get a big sweet smile on her face and you could just see how excited she was. Then when we got the call that Ava had arrived, you can well imagine the excitement and joy here! Thankfully the labor went very well and quickly . . . the fastest and easiest of all of the girls which was a blessing!

When it came time for us to go to the hospital to see Ava, Adelyn was beyond excited! She was hurrying to get her and Gracen's shoes, was bringing us our shoes and jackets, kept going to the door and saying "go see baby sister?", asking if we were ready, and all with a sense of urgency. It was really cute! At one point, she happened to see the little onesie that we were bringing for Ava, and Leah told her it was for her baby sister. Adelyn picked it up and looked at it adoringly and said "it's so cute!" and then proceeded to carry it around held tightly in her hands until we were ready to go. :)

We couldn't all fit in one vehicle so Leah and I took the girls in the car and Dad and Mom came in the truck. The whole way there, all of us girls sang together . . . Adelyn and Gracen know quite a few songs and kept requesting different ones for us to sing. It was a fun time!

Then what followed all of this was shared in the last post. :) Such a special time meeting and enjoying the newest little member of the family!

The days that followed were fun ones, and I'll let the photos give a glimpse into some of what filled them (and more photos with little Ava will hopefully be coming soon . . . the last two times that we've seen her, I was either too busy corralling little nieces, holding Ava, or Ava wasn't in a photographic mood to take many pictures!) . . . .

While Leah and I were feeding Adelyn and Gracen their lunch one day, they started holding hands . . . these two girls really love each other!


Visiting at the hospital again . . . Adelyn took it quite seriously when being able to help hold Ava for the first time. Can you see her little hand wrapped underneath of Ava? Ava was sound asleep and Adelyn kept asking, "Baby sister wake up now?" I think she wanted to interact with her a little more!

Gracen loved 'petting' her baby sister! Meanwhile sweet little Ava slept serenely on.

Adelyn was excited to spend some time with her Mommy!

Leah holding Ava

One evening, both Adelyn and Gracen asked Leah " 'eah hold you?" (Their way of asking Leah to hold them. :) They thought that was pretty fun!

Sweet Adelyn . . . we were having fun playing together here

One of Gracen's favorite places to be

Adelyn helping me make a soup that was for dinner . . . once we were all done, she picked up the lid for the crockpot, and I asked her if she was going to put the lid on. She paused, furrowed her brow like she was deep in thought, and then set the lid back on the counter while saying, "no, Annie still cooking" (she can't say Adelyn so calls her self 'Annie'.) She then proceeded to stir the soup some more . . . it was so cute! She's getting to be quite the little helper!

Rocking her baby doll while singing "Jesus Loves Me" to it . . . this was heartwarming to watch!

You can really see Gracen's personality in this photo!

One day poor Gracen woke up from her nap sobbing . . . she must have had a bad dream or something and then wanted to be held for a long time afterwards which is unusual for her. Usually she wants to snuggle for a minute or so and then she's off. :) I loved this extra time with her!

Playing with Aunt Leah

Adelyn after naptime one day and snuggled in her Poppy's arms

 Coloring with her Poppy

Mom made Snickerdoodle cookies the last day the girls were here, and they loved helping! And Mom loved doing this with them. :) It was fun to watch and listen to them working together!

Adelyn wasn't quite sure, though, whether or not she liked the feel 
of the sticky cookie dough on her fingers. :)

We brought Adelyn and Gracen home on Wednesday afternoon, and Ryan and Ashley were very glad to have their little family all together! What a wonderful week this has been . . . so many blessings and so much joy. How good the Lord is!

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good"!