Monday, March 30, 2015

Visiting Friends

After almost a year since our last visit, this past Tuesday found Leah and I on our way to visit our dear friends in Indiana. We had been trying to get together for months, but something always came up (sickness, etc.) to prevent it. Finally our plans worked!

Rainy skies on our way there

Illinois had a lot of flooding!

Entering Indiana! Getting closer!

The tree filled, rolling hills of Indiana are so pretty, even at this time of year.

We knew we were in for a wonderful and encouraging visit, and we were not disappointed! What a blessing our time together was! Late night conversations (or early morning? One night we were up until 1:30!), going for walks, thrifting, praying together, playing some games, going to the movie "Do You Believe?" (which is excellent by the way), and so much more.

Laura and I - so very blessed to call her friend!

Emily and Leah

Laura and Emily are much more than just friends to us, but are like sisters. Our time together was so special, and they were both such an encouragement to us! As was the rest of their family.

Here is a photographic glimpse into our time together . . .

Me enjoying time with little Ezra (their nephew)
(he and his mom, Anna, came over for part of the afternoon - it was so nice to see her again and to meet him!)

Laura and Ezra

Sam and their dog, Shane

Anna (their sister-in-law), Emily, Leah holding Ezra, me and Laura
It was so nice to spend time together with all of these ladies! And Ezra, too. He wasn't too thrilled about the photography part, though! 

Visiting in the kitchen
Anna, Silas, Leah and Ezra and Emily 

Ezra and Leah

Making coleslaw for dinner


Laura, Ezra and Silas

 Ezra was kind of the center of attention for awhile. :)

In the afternoon, Laura, Emily, Leah and I and their brothers Silas and Sam went to a nearby park. The park has a beautiful lake with a walking trail around it. We had so much fun there! Especially as the day was unusually beautiful for this time of year with sunshine and a high around 70.

Laura and I teasing each other about accidentally pushing the other into the lake :)

It was so pleasant sitting out on the dock visiting! Admiring God's beautiful creation and talking about how beautiful heaven must be if this is how beautiful the corrupted creation is.

It was so peaceful there!

They look a little mismatched, don't they?

Walking around the lake and visiting . . . we had wonderful and encouraging conversations! Everything from light-hearted day to day things, to serving our families as adult daughters, to modesty, legalism, faith and trust in the Lord, and just about everything in between.

Silas and Sam playing tennis

Some geese both wild and domestic

We had had such an enjoyable time at the park, that we went back again in the evening after dinner . . .

Laura, Leah and Emily when we started out to walk around the lake again

The sunset was so beautiful over the lake!

Trying to be photographically creative with Laura as a photography subject :)

A lone coot in among the cypress trees

Emily and Leah

And them again :) 

Silas, Sam and Dave were playing frisbee while we went for our walk

And then we sat, visited, laughed and simply had fun together while they played

As darkness fell, we all moved over to the basketball court and the C siblings shot baskets together which was fun (and entertaining!) to watch! 

We made sure to play music together this time! (Last time we had brought our instruments, but ran out of time to play) . . .

Emily, Laura and Leah

We really enjoyed doing this together!

Making lunch together . . . delicious broccoli soup which was perfect for a chilly, drizzly day

Emily playing her guitar and singing . . . the rest of us were in the kitchen at the time and we seriously thought it was a song on a CD. So much so that Mrs. C. asked one of the boys to turn it up so we could hear it better. :) It turned out it was Emily!

Tim, Sam, Silas, Laura, Leah, Emily and I played UNO together . . . and added new rules each round which made it even more fun!

More music. Mrs. C. is a really good pianist! I very much enjoyed hearing her play.

And there is a glimpse into our week! So much more happened and the photos cannot capture the deep conversations, the laughter, and everything that fit in-between. It was really a special time . . . Laura and Emily, and their family, have such sincere and genuine hearts for the Lord and others and what a blessing they were to us! Leah and I left feeling encouraged, refreshed and inspired. Thank you so much for having us!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Planting Trees

Spring is really here! Not only does the calendar say it is spring, but one need only step outdoors and breathe in that fresh, warm spring air, see the buds breaking open on some of the trees, hear the call of Eastern Phoebes (the first spring birds to arrive), see the green grass growing and the first flowers blooming, and you know that spring is here to stay. And I am so enjoying my favorite time of year!

While we have yet to start planting anything in the garden, last evening we did planting of another kind . . . fruit trees! Dad had ordered eight more apple trees and two peach trees (some of which are to replace trees we lost due to the bad hail storm we had a few years ago), so he dug holes for them on Saturday and then we all planted them together . . .

 Dad showing Leah the graft point on an apple tree

Leah holding a tree in place while Dad started filling in the hole

Dad, Mom and Leah planting trees

All the apple trees are planted!

Before long, all ten trees were in the ground, and it was fun to plant them together! Albeit a bit muddy at times. :) Now we can look forward to these trees growing, and hopefully, eventually bearing fruit!

As I typed that last sentence, a word picture used so often in Scripture came to mind . . . us, believers in Christ, bearing fruit for Jesus Christ. One of my favorite passages of Scripture speaks about this very thing:

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser . . . every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit . . . Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:1, 2b, 4-5

Just as the branches of the fruit trees need to abide in their 'vine' in order to produce fruit, so we, too, need to abide in our vine, Jesus Christ, in order to bear fruit. May that be the earnest desire of each of us . . . abiding closely in our Savior, Jesus Christ, letting Him work through us so that we can bear abundant fruit for Him!

 Last year's peaches

"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Birding at a Conservation Area

One day this week, we loaded up the truck with binoculars, bird books, cameras, and the spotting scope and headed out to our favorite conservation area for a refreshing time together out in God's beautiful creation. The sun was shining and the temperature was warm making it perfect weather!

We had such a wonderful time together! It was so restful to just get away for a bit, to spend time together, to enjoy the beautiful day, and to see so many birds. My camera was busy during our time there! Here is some of what was captured (plus a few photos from Dad and Leah, too) . . . and be forewarned, there are a lot of photos! :)

 Dad looking through the spotting scope at Black Ducks

One of the Bald Eagle nests . . . with a pair of Eagles on it building the nest!

We set up the spotting scope, and it was amazing watching these incredible birds up so close! We put the camera attachment on the scope, attached my camera to it, and then took the below photos through the scope . . .

This one is more blurry, but I wanted to include it as it shows them working on the nest 

Seeing them was a definite highlight of the day!

Looking out across one of the pools at the ducks

A pair of Hooded Mergansers in the middle and then two Common Mergansers. I had never seen the latter before so it was really neat to be able to see them! Their colors were so striking in the sunlight.

A blurry Canvasback :) 
(with a Mallard in the back left)

Looking out across one of the pools

An immature Bald Eagle coming in for a landing

The same Bald Eagle after landing on the ice

Dad walking along one of the pools

A Great Blue Heron and its reflection

A bunch of Ring-Billed Gulls on the ice

And a loner :)

It was so peaceful there!

Dad and Mom looking through the scope at hundreds, if not thousands, of ducks and geese way in a back pool

Dad took this photo of them taking the below one :) . . . .

Mom and Leah

Mom and I looking out across the water (photo by Dad)

Dad was scanning the cliffs with the scope and spotted a pair of geese nesting in a hole in the rocks! Leah took this photo with her phone through the spotting scope (hence the black ring around it)

The next few photos are just scenery photos . . . I love capturing a taste of the beauty in God's creation!

It was really neat watching and listening to all of these ducks and geese! They were rather noisy. :)

Leah, Dad and Mom looking at more birds

A flock of Snow Geese flying over

Dad putting things away in preparation for heading home . . . with a flock of Snow Geese in the background.

 Leah looking for sparrows

And thus concluded our much enjoyed time at the conservation area!