Monday, June 13, 2016

Life at Home

As the last bit of the season of spring slips away, the days continue to be full with many projects being worked on and also times with friends and family. So this post will be kind of a conglomeration of a bunch of things! :)

~ Gardening ~

The vegetable garden has been doing so well this year! Largely due to Mom's dedicated efforts, but there also are fewer pests and diseases this year which is a blessing. We are enjoying many fresh salads from the garden which has been really nice . . . 

Lettuce and Spinach

Potato hilling was an activity one day a few weeks ago, and Mom, Leah and I moved a lot of dirt that day! The end result was this . . . .

The plants have grown a lot since then . . . .

Here's hoping we have a great potato harvest! If the plants produce as well as they did last year, we'll have more than enough potatoes to last us through to next spring and then plenty to give away, too.

Growing beets

One day when Mom was shopping for flower plants for our place, I had noticed the rose bushes were on sale. I have wanted an old-fashioned rose bush for so long and decided now was the time! After getting home, a little spot to the left of the steps up to our barn was transformed into this . . . .

First I hauled in compost, spaded it all, lined the new bed with rocks, planted the rose bush plus some Vincas that Mom had gotten, and then covered the dirt in mulch. The bush has been blooming well for its current small size, and I love it's pink flowers!

Some of Mom's flowers went into this hanging basket . . . .

Hanging baskets seem so homey :) 

Another recent gardening project of mine was completely redoing the shade garden in front of our house. I wasn't exactly planning it to be to that extent, but when I was resetting the rocks around the edge, I realized that the dirt there was nearly rock hard and had so much clay. No wonder the plants in it never did very well!

 A section of the garden before I began

I worked in sections, first digging out 3-6 inches of the very hard clay and rocks, then hauling in about 6 inches of rich compost . . . .

One advantage of livestock . . . such good compost :)

I am not sure how many wheelbarrow loads of each were hauled, but it was a lot! Little by little the garden was transformed and the plants were set back into their new bed.

I just need to get a little more hardwood mulch to spread across the remainder of a small section on the top, and then it's done! The plants are looking better already and should fill out in the next few years.

This little fellow seems to be enjoying the new garden . . . .

~ Friends ~

The last few weeks we have enjoyed some special times with friends, and here is a glimpse . . . .

One Sunday afternoon, we went back to the state park with some friends, and had such a fun time!

Under the natural bridge . . . it was so cool and pleasant under there. We did disturb a bat which added to the excitement . . . we shined a light into one of the holes in the rock, and saw something . . . before long, out swooped a chattering bat right in our faces!  

 The peaceful creek with much less water in it than the last time we were there.

One of our little friends and I down in the cave which was a lot of fun. Here I was helping him step from rock to rock so as not to get his feet wet.

Dad and Mom

An evening this past weekend, we had company over for a hot dog roast which was enjoyable! We had just gotten a new fire-pit and although the temperature was in the 90's, we had to try it out. :) 

The table with the food . . . hotdogs to roast, baked beans, and yes, fresh salad from the garden :) Then we enjoyed smores afterwards.

 So nice to have a firepit now!

~ Sewing ~

Some mending and clothing altering has been happening lately . . . .

A project in progress

~ Niobrara Farms Bath and Body ~

And business work continues as well. The last few weeks I have had a lot of soap to make (plus other products) so that helps keep me busy. This is a new soap that is curing . . . .

Cedarwood . . . and it smells just like its name . . . like fresh cut cedar.

Another day was spent trying to get my website securely protected with SSL (which switches the site to "https" and gives the little 'lock box'.) I am so not a computer person! Google is definitely my friend when it comes to things like this. :) After a lot of searching, trying things, failed attempts, more research and more tries, I finally got it all working!

This week looks to be another full one including things like little friends and their mom coming out to see the baby goats, the therapeutic riding center starting up again for the summer, garden work, a visit to the nursing home, and much more.

And I cannot close a post about some of what is filling my days, without sharing at least a taste of what the Lord is doing in my heart and life . . . day by day, He is continuing to grow me in Him, teaching me more of how He desires me to walk in obedience to Him, opening my eyes to opportunities to share about Him and to prayerfully encourage others, helping me turn my focus outward toward others instead of inward, and also, simply ministering to my own heart.

I know this may sound redundant, but He is so faithful. Sometimes I cannot understand my own heart . . . it can be so weak sometimes . . . yet His strength is always there. A solid rock whom I can always lean on, and there is so very much comfort in knowing I can trust Him fully in everything. The Scripture is very true "for when I am weak, then I am strong" for His strength and power is "perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10.) 

O, to never not lean on that strength! It can sometimes be easy (at least I find it so) to drift away from that strength, sometimes without even realizing it, and then to struggle . . . with doubt, fear, sadness, or whatever else it is that we are dealing with. Yet God is near to us and right there all along wanting us to cast our burdens, our anxieties, whatever it is, upon Him . . . and to trust. 

That's really what our lives in Him come down to isn't it? Trust.

Trust . . . when we may not understand

Trust . . . when we do not know what the future holds

Trust . . . when we experience loss (such as what friends of mine, and relatives of friends, are currently going through) 

Trust . . . when we look at what is happening in the world around us

Trust . . . when physical illness is debilitating (as a brother and sister in the Lord who I recently met are experiencing)

Trust . . . with whatever comes that makes us struggle to trust

There are many Scriptures that have really blessed my heart the last few weeks (and months), and I'd like to share some of them. While not directly related to trust, they speak of our relationship with God and His desires for us and heart towards us. 

With whatever you are going through or are dealing with in your heart and life right now, I hope they will be an encouragement and help to you . . . .

" . . . that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.)

What powerful verses these are! I keep reading through them and meditating on the depths of what these words mean. And these aren't just empty words! They are God's Word to us . . . it is His desire for us.

"It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 2:14.)

Isn't that such an encouraging truth? If we are His children, saved through His gospel, believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we will indeed gain His glory. Sometimes it can be easy to become focused on this earthly life . . . its pains and heartaches, its trials, its unfulfilled dreams, its busyness, even its joys. And we lose sight of something so much more glorious! Eternity. Eternity with God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in glorified bodies and living in heaven where there is no need for the sun as Jesus Himself is the light. No pain, no sorrow, no tears, and no sin.

O to live with eternity on our hearts! Truly having our hearts and minds set "on the things above, not on the things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2.)

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word" (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.)

These verses just thrill and comfort my heart. They are ones that I recently memorized and quote often to myself. God has indeed "loved us" and given us this "eternal comfort" and "good hope" by His amazing grace. And He will indeed strengthen and comfort our hearts. And for what purpose? In "every good work and word." For His service, for sharing His gospel with a needy world, for loving and edifying brothers and sisters in the Lord, for His glory . . . and also, for our good.

"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD. Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD." 

". . . the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3.)

When out for a walk praying to the Lord the other day about so much that was on my heart, a Psalm came to mind that we had learned in song years ago . . .

"I love the LORD, because He hears
 my voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
yes, our God is compassionate.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have rescued my soul from death,
my eyes from tears ,
my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD 
in the land of the living.

What shall I render to the LORD
for all His benefits toward me?
I shall lift up the cup of salvation
and call upon the name of the LORD.

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and call upon the name of the LORD."
Psalm 116:1-2, 5-9, 12-13, 17

"Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!" (2 Thessalonians 3:16.)


  1. thewarmfireplaceJune 13, 2016

    Thank you for your wonderful post, the words are so strengthening, God bless you,

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sue! And you're very welcome. I am glad it could be a blessing to you!

  2. Fun to see your gardens and what you've been working on. Those rows of potato hills are amazing! Thanks also for sharing those encouraging verses and for your example of contentment and love for the Lord!

    1. Glad you enjoyed seeing the garden and some of our projects, Hannah! And you're welcome for sharing the verses. :) Thanks so much for the encouragement!

  3. Your days are certainly full and the gardens look so healthy. God bless you and keep you all.

    1. They have indeed been, Suze! Thank you so much . . . and the same to you!

  4. Amen, Sarah! What an encouraging post! I often think of Colossians 3:2, and remind myself among the struggles and pain going on around me that, I'm just passing through all this mess on my way to a much better place! And, He's carrying me right along, because I know I couldn't get through it all by myself!
    I like your rose bush, and the shade gardens are so pretty. :-)
    God bless you, Sarah. ♥

    1. Thank you so much for all you shared, Anne! It was encouraging to me to read. And I'm glad the post could be an encouragement to you as well!

      Thank you. :) Blessings to you, too!

  5. Sarah--my eyes were drawn to your little barn, as we recently completed our chicken coop and moved the chickens out there. It is painted the same shade of red as yours.:-) What animals do y'all keep in this barn?

    I also love how you planted the rosebush. We planted double knockout roses this spring and they are so pretty!

    So glad to see that you continually hand over your burdens and pain over to the Lord, and trust Him to faithfully strengthen and heal you!


    1. That is exciting that you recently completed your chicken coop, Betsy, and that your chickens are now enjoying their new home! Our barn in the photo doesn't currently house any animals. Back when we had a much larger chicken flock, it was the chicken coop, but when we downsized and stopped selling eggs, we moved the chickens to a smaller building and pen. So right now this barn has been converted to the feed room and where we store a lot of the beekeeping supplies, etc.

      The rosebush I planted is a double knockout rose, too! I love how they look. Hope yours continue to grow well for you!

      Thank you so much for that encouragement. It isn't always easy, yet He is indeed so faithful and has been working (and continues to work) so much in my heart!

  6. Sarah,

    Your posts always bless my day! Your words of encouragement from God's Word truly are an inspiration.

    Your gardens look beautiful! I hope someday to have a vegetable garden as lovely as your garden! : ) We are making small steps in that direction.

    I made your beef and potato recipe last night for dinner. It was delicious! I am adding it to my recipe book so I will be sure to make it again.

    May you have a blessed day!


    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Sarah! I'm glad the posts are a blessing to you. :)

      It does take awhile to get a garden to reach the point you would like it to be! Ours has taken years of work improving the soil, reducing the soil diseases, etc. and we still have a ways to go. Yours will get there! Perseverance pays off!

      Glad to hear that you liked the recipe!

      May you have a blessed day as well. :)

  7. Your garden is looking great! Seems a really good summer for rains lately. Nothing to dry or hot lately, eh?
    That's a very interesting technique you use with your potatoes. I've never seen it before. What's it all about, if you don't mind me asking? :)
    Also, speaking of potatoes, I was wondering if you do anything special to store and cure potatoes? We've planted a lot this year. I've never cured them before. The ones we had last year straight out of the ground only lasted about three months. (Sorry. If I've asked this before, you can just ignore it! My memory is really bad. Sometimes I think I've said something when I haven't, and sometimes I think I haven't said something that I have.)
    Beets! Oh boy. We had such problems with deer eating our beet tops off, that we gave up planting them. Looks like yours are doing wonderful though! I hear beets are very good for you. :)

    Haha, I wonder if there's a little corner of every feminine heart that loves roses? :D They're really a beautiful color! I can't wait to see what it's like full grown. I imagine you must be excited to dry some and bring cut ones inside in the future. I've even heard of people eating rose petals too and making jelly!

    I'm impressed Sarah. Reworking that whole flower garden sounds like a lot of hard work and a big project! You have my applause. My husband does a lot of landscaping; it amazing me the strength God gives people to be able to do things like that! Its hard for me to even imagine.

    Seems like your whole family are photographers. You all have cameras whenever you're bird watching or parks! :D I think that's cool.

    A firepit! That sounds like fun!!! A good excuse to invite people over and cook for them, hehheh! :D

    Oh my, what's you secret to finding time to mend clothes? I never can seem to get to it.I hope they're be pictures of your projects forthcoming.

    Your notes about God's work in your heart reminds me of Prov 3:5-8 I really liked that point about trusting, even when things come to make you struggle with trusting. Sometimes I get so caught up with the state of my trust, that I forget to look to Who my trust ought to be in. I end up trusting my trust, instead of trusting in God.I really appreciate that you share God and His works in you heart so often. Please continue!

    Have a great day!

    1. Thank you for your long comment, Christina! I enjoyed reading all you shared.

      Our summers must be a little different right now . . . we haven't had much rain at all for quite awhile, and it has been so hot! If it weren't for watering the garden regularly, it wouldn't look nearly this nice. I'm glad your summer has had enough rain and hasn't been too hot. Hopefully it stays that way!

      Hilling the potatoes gives larger potato harvests since the plants will produce potatoes as far up the plant as the soil covers. As far as curing and storing . . . no, we don't do anything special except for digging about two weeks after the plants die back and then letting the potatoes set out (covered so they aren't exposed to light) for a couple of days (not in layers) to dry thoroughly. Then we simply put them in a wire cage and store them in a dark place in our shop for as long as they'll last. We grow Kennebecs for storage and so far, they have lasted really well for us. They might get a little soft, but they still work! (And no, I don't think you have asked this before . . . and if you had, I don't mind answering twice. :) Hope your potatoes do well for you this year!

      Regarding roses . . . most likely. :) I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like full grown, too! That's interesting about eating rose petals and making jelly from them. I hadn't heard of that before!

      Thanks for your comment about the flower garden!

      Yes, we do like to photograph! It's a lot of fun, and so many memories are captured that way.

      Mending usually has to wait a long time before I ever get to it. :) I just happened to have some spare time recently and made it through at least some things!

      Thank you for sharing Proverbs 3:5-8. . . those are some of my very favorite verses and such a help with whatever we are going through. Thank you also for all you wrote! It was an encouragement to read.

      I hope that you have a great day as well!

  8. What a blessing this post has been to my heart Sarah...the joys of knowing the truth of God's Words and living with them in your heart, can make a difference every day, if we just learn to trust and leave it all to HIM! What joy to see your garden. Gardening gives us the ability to see our Lord's creation up close :o)

    Blessings to you and your family...


    1. I am so glad that it was a blessing to you, Mari! It is wonderful how the Lord can work in our lives to mutually encourage one another. Thank you for all you shared . . . it was an encouragement to me!

      O yes, gardening does indeed to that. :)

      Blessings to you and your family as well!

  9. Sarah, I hardly get around to commenting but I love your blog so much! Your garden looks good.:) I went out to weed ours yesterday, and I couldn't find the radishes that my little siblings and I planted. I thought that they had died but one of my brothers found them like two feet in the weeds.:/ My basil looks horrible, though not quite as weedy as those radishes were.
    Have a blessed evening!

    1. It was good to hear from you, Salinn! Thank you for your comment. :) Ad I'm glad you enjoy my blog so much!

      Ah yes, the battle with weeds in the garden never ends, does it? :) We've had times before like you describe . . . too bad the vegetables never seem to grow as well and as prolifically as the weeds! We find that mulching really helps with weed control, and now we mulch just about everything.

      I hope that you have a blessed evening as well!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)