Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gathered Gems . . . from Andrew Murray

Several months ago, I found at a thrift store a reprint of the book Daily Experience with God by Andrew Murray and have since read it. There was so much in it that encouraged and convicted my heart! The central theme of the book is our time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer . . . being devoted to reading the Scriptures . . . truly fellowshiping with the Lord . . . after reading, obeying His Word . . . keeping Christ's commandments, and so much more. I underlined the portions in the book that especially spoke to my heart (of which there are many :), and these are a few of them . . .

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"Personal devotion to Jesus means that we allow nothing to separate us from Him for a moment. To abide in Him and His love, to be kept by Him and His grace, to be doing His will and pleasing Him - this cannot possibly be an irregular practice if we are truly devoted to Him . . . personal devotion to Him refuses to be content with anything less than to abide always in His love and His will." (pg. 8-9)

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"True Christianity aims at having the character of Christ so formed in us, that in our most ordinary activities His temperament and attitudes reveal themselves. The Spirit and the will of Christ should so possess us that in our relationships with people, in our leisure time, and in our daily business it will be second nature for us to act like Him. All this is possible because Christ Himself, as the Living One, lives in us." (pg. 9-10)

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"The only proof of a true, living, saving knowledge of God; the only proof of not being self-deceived in our religion; the only proof of God's love not being an imagination, but a possession, is keeping His Word." (emphasis in the original; pg. 52)

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"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15


*As a little disclaimer, while I was greatly blessed by this book, there are things in it that I disagree with . . . which seems to be pretty typical with most books I read. :) It is one that I would recommend, though! But please use discernment while reading, and as we should with all things, examine what is shared in the light of Scripture.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's Snowing!

The snow started falling this morning just about the time I finished up with my morning animal chores, and it has continued to fall heavily all day. It is so beautiful out! And I have very much enjoyed watching it fall . . . I love snow! Right now we have around eight to nine inches on the ground, and it is still falling, though, not as heavily as it had been, the flakes have gotten larger, and there has started to be some sleet mixed in it, too. As anxious as I am for spring, I was hoping for one big snow before it arrived, and we got it! :)


There has been thundersnow throughout the day, too, and a couple of times when we were outside, it rumbled across the sky right above us. It was kind of an eerie sound, but neat at the same time!

This photo was taken this morning an hour or two after the snow began

 And this one was taken about thirty minutes ago . . . the snow has gotten deep! Especially where the wind has caused it to drift.

A short while ago, Leah and I went out and gave the rabbits their unthawed water bottles, and I also scooped the snow away from the beehive entrances and put up boards to block more snow from building up there. Then in the dairy pen, scooped a path from one goat shelter to the other. Dixie and Larkspur had gotten 'stranded' in one of them (their least favorite of the two), and they were so glad to get back to the one that they normally bed down in. The dairy girls aren't especially fond of snow, but Aurora didn't seem to mind it as she walked right out into it when she saw me (and it came about up to her belly!) 

I am looking forward to going out and photographing once it stops snowing, but until then, these few taken from our windows will have to suffice. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Making a Garden Map

During the cold winter days (or many times, evenings), I have pored over various gardening books, gleaning inspiration from the beautiful photographs therein. Garden layouts, companion plantings, creative ways to trellis climbing plants, beds of vegetables, herbs and flowers intermixed, and more. These two vegetable gardening books are currently my favorites, and both of them were library book sale finds . . .


I have really enjoyed reading them and studying the photos for inspiration!

After getting a basic idea in my mind for a garden layout, I did a rough draft out on paper . . . a really rough and hurried draft - scribbles, messy handwriting, and all! . . .


Then after getting accurate measurements of the actual garden, I drew out a miniature of the garden as accurately as I could with each 1/4" equaling one foot, and then transferred my above rough draft into it, adjusting things as needed . . .


 It was a bit time consuming, but it was fun to do, and I was pleased with the results! Now if what's on paper will just translate out into the garden well. :)

And while garden planning has been underway, the seedlings have been growing . . .


 The onions started growing well, but since the above photo was taken, they are all falling over . . . does anyone have any idea as to why? They look healthy besides that! The broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are all up, too, and the celery is planted. Tomorrow I am hoping to start eggplant and peppers.

While it is still too early to do much in the garden, I enjoyed working in the orchard on some of the warmer days last week. 

 
Our well used compost bins which are on the corner of the orchard . . . the contents are in need of a turning right now.

All but two of the fruit trees are now weeded and mulched around and six stumps were dug around and sawed out (which was tiring! but so satisfying to have them gone . . . it will be much easier to mow and keep it looking nice in the orchard without them there.) Once the stumps were out, I mowed the orchard, and it looks much better after the work was finished!

Part of the orchard

It is blustery and cold here now, though, so it is inside work today!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Sunday Hymn ~ Before the Throne of God Above

I do not believe this song is 'technically' a hymn, but it is reminiscent of the hymns of old and is one of Leah's and my favorites to play and sing. I wish you could hear the melody as it conveys such emotion and fits perfectly with the words! But even the words by themselves are so powerful . . . and encouraging. I pray that they will be a blessing to you!



Before the Throne of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea;
A great High Priest whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands;
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in heav'n He stands,
no tongue can bid me thence depart,
no tongue can bid me thence depart.


When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look and see Him there,
who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free. 
For God the Just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me,
to look on Him and pardon me.


Behold Him there, the risen Lamb,
my perfect spotless righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of Glory and of grace.

One with Himself I cannot die;
My soul is purchased by His blood.
My life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ my Savior and my God,
with Christ my Savior and my God.

 Words by Charitie L. Bancroft

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"But Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." Hebrews 7:24-27

". . . we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil." Hebrews 6:18b-19

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

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Friday, February 15, 2013

A Much Enjoyed Photo Shoot

Back in December, Ryan and Ashley had asked if I could take photos of Adelyn and Gracen and take their family photo as well . . . we planned for this fun photo shoot several times, but then things like sickness kept preventing it. Finally one afternoon in December, Dad needed to go out to their place for something, and it worked out for me to go come along to take the photos. Ashley had already figured out where and how she wanted the photos taken, and then after Dad and I arrived, Ashley and I started in with photographing the girls. We didn't have a great deal of time so we hurried and laughed and tried different poses and angles and had so much fun through it all!

I came away with so many images on my camera and here are a few of my favorites as well as a few that add a little character :) . . .  

Gracen wasn't so sure about this photo business at first and gave me this look for the first several photos . . . still very cute :), but we wanted her smiles! 

 
There, that's a little better! Her Mommy is the best smile inducer :)

 After getting one of her favorite toys in her hands, then her smiles really started showing! Ashley was talking with her, and I was snapping away as Gracen grinned and grinned. She has such happy little smiles!

One of my favorites! She is such a precious little girl . . . she brings so much joy with her sweet, content and cheerful little self!

  Adelyn was next to photograph and with it nearing lunchtime, she wasn't entirely thrilled 
about this 'sit on the couch away from Mommy while I'm hungry and have to smile and have my photo taken'. :)

Not so sure about this!

A graham cracker makes all the difference. :) (You can see it in her right hand.) Now the smiles abounded, and we got some great photos! This one was my favorite.

Aww . . . she's such a sweetheart!

Next we tried some with her standing up and let's just say those were a little interesting as this photo attests to! We did get one photo that we really liked of her overall, but . . . she had graham cracker in her mouth. :)

Next was a family photo! Of some of the dearest people to me . . .


I am so blessed to have the brother, sister-in-law, and nieces that I do! Thank you Ryan and Ashley for the blessing that you are and for the very enjoyable afternoon photo shoot!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February Days

Sewing . . . baking . . . deep cleaning our home . . . more sewing . . . working on a big project (that I hope to have finished soon and post about it!) . . . tilling the vegetable garden on a warmer Saturday afternoon . . . planning the layout of the garden . . . starting more seeds indoors (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and celery) . . . more sewing . . . enjoying a shopping day with Leah, Ashley and the girls (which was so much fun!) . . . cooking . . . weeding and mulching with pine needles around the blueberry bushes . . . crocheting . . . cross-stitching . . . playing music . . . more sewing . . . singing with Leah . . . and thoroughly enjoying these winter days while the much anticipated spring keeps inching closer and closer.


The early Iris's are coming up! Usually they bloom mid- to late February, and I am looking forward to seeing their cheery flowers again! I keep checking for buds, but so far, they have yet to make their appearance.


The daffodils have been peeking their slender leaves above the soil since January! They usually don't bloom until March, though, so we have a while to wait before seeing their sunny flowers.


Freshly mulched blueberry bushes on a frosty and sunny morning


Buds on one of the blueberry bushes

 Not only is spring getting closer, but the kidding dates for our goats are, too! We are rather excited about that. :) Dixie is our first one due, and she has a little over a month to go. This is the best photo I have been able to capture of her lately . . . 



She is our most difficult goat to photograph as she wants to be right up close to me, and stay close to me, whenever I go in their pen and try to take photos! She's such a sweet goat and loves attention.

Another of our pregnant girls . . . Aurora is due towards the beginning of April! 
Poor thing hurt herself somehow about a month ago and was really struggling to walk. As we observed her and examined her, it looked like it was her back that was injured. And as her symptoms were bilateral and she had weakness in her back legs, we're wondering if the injury was to her spine. Time is about the only cure for something like this, and day by day since then, she has made steady (albeit slow) improvements. Now as of this week, she is starting to run again and even climbed up on the gate last night and again this morning! That is a great relief with one reason being that she really needed to heal before late pregnancy when she'll have all of the added baby weight. It is so good to see her back to her more energetic self!

Chase enjoying her grain - she, too, is due towards the beginning of April

Dad feeding the dairy does one of their favorite things . . . alfalfa pellets! (He's putting them in the tray of the hay feeder.) They get so excited when they see one of us coming with them!

We dried both Chase and Dixie up about two months before their expected kidding dates (which was mid-January) which means . . . no milk. We've resorted back to store-bought milk during the interim and are really missing our fresh goat milk and cheese!

 
Chase enjoying the early morning sunlight 

While Leah and I haven't exactly missed bundling up and going out in the dark and cold evenings to get Chase and Dixie to milk them :), I am missing the actual milking process and also enjoying the beautiful starlit winter skies . . . pausing with Leah in the dark to gaze at the stars and moon and pick out the constellations we recognize . . . and praising the Lord for the incredible beauty and design that He placed in His creation which is but a tiny reflection of the wisdom, power, and beauty of the Lord Himself. How true it is that "the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1)

With how quickly the month of February is flying by, though, we'll be milking again before we know it! But in warmer temperatures and with lighter skies, then. :)