Sunday, November 30, 2014

Suffolk, VA Christmas Lightshow: TUXEDO NIGHT LIGHTS by The Oak Ridge Penguins

Home - TUXEDO NIGHT LIGHTS by The Oak Ridge Penguins

If you are local, this is a neat stop for Christmas! Our children love going every year!

Flash Mob: The U.S. Air Force Band at the Smithsonian

"Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring/Joy to the World," led by the band's commander and conductor, Col. Larry H. Lang. 


"Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth."  --Charles Spurgeon Read the whole sermon here
I love this quote because it deals with our own pride and gives an accurate portrayal of who we really are...a desperate sinner who found grace and has been told to show that grace to others-even those who reject and abuse us. When we truly admit the wickedness of our own selves and place that reality in comparison to the holiness of God, we all feel like Paul when he said "I am the worst of all sinners!" 
"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." A little while ago we were heirs of wrath even as others. How could the Lord adopt such poor creatures? I cannot make it out. I, that once loved sin, am now made to hate it. I, that was a stranger to God and his service, am enriched with access to the Throne of God. I, that was without strength, have now Grace to do all things through Christ that strengthens me. Oh greatness, the unspeakable greatness of almighty love! Brothers and Sisters, if this does not humble you, then you are not really Believers. If you have really obtained the mercies of the Covenant, through the Lord's gracious choice of you, the knowledge of this fact will lay you low and keep you there." --Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Please Consider Sending Addie a Christmas Card

Send Addie a Christmas Card
Her story and address are in the link.

Lots of love to you, Addie, from our gang in Virginia! Our card to you will be going out soon!

Beautiful Feet

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I love looking at my children's feet. 
I wonder where they will go and who they will become.
I contemplate the verse below and pray for my children's feet to be made beautiful and for them to walk in righteousness.

Romans 10:15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

46 Years Closer

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evening sky over Contentment Acres

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:4

I turn 46 today. I don't see growing older as something negative. I see aging as growing closer. I am 46 years closer to becoming who the Lord is refining me to be. I am closer to meeting Him face to face. I am closer to worshipping at His feet. I am closer to partaking of the joys of eternity with Him. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

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May God's blessings be abundantly rained down upon you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"I'll Fix It Mom"

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Emily came to me when her sole started to separate from her old shoe while she was working. I didn't want the tree sap ruin her new shoes. Caleb overheard and decisively said, "I have this." He walked away with Emily. Emily came back with orange electrical tape wrapped around her shoe! She LOVED that her big brother "fixed" her shoe for her. Years ago, Clint did the same with one of Caleb's old shoes while we were working outside. 

Your children are watching and will emulate you, parents. Even the adult children are watching and tucking into their hearts lessons which will be pulled out later. We are stewards over them for the Lord. They are learning how to love or hate, forgive or hold grudges, be thankful or resentful, rejoice or grumble, come together or stay apart, work or be lazy, self control or self seeking, live for the Lord or live for themselves, and so much more. Be a parent who glorifies the Lord!

Titus 1:7 For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,

I Peter 5:3 Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Praising God in the Storms

I feel like God is telling me to share this with someone today, so I am going to post it now.

Praising God in the midst of my losses, not for the losses, but for God being all He is, triggered something very profound. I have yet to find words to adequately describe it. It was powerful, sustaining, comforting, securing, strengthening, and more. Not just acknowledging His greatness in those situations, but relishing in it was like being carried away from my troubles and being tucked into the warmth and security of His wing. I obeyed Him in praising Him even when my heart was deeply grieved and every part of me, even my weary spirit, was overburdened with hurt and disappointment...and He blessed me tremendously for it. I didn't "feel" like it, I just did it because that is what Scripture says to do. So whomever you are, wherever you are, and whatever you are going through, I encourage you right now to stop and praise Him. Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.


"We are to praise God in all circumstances. Do you know what the word “all” literally means? It means all. Seriously. No matter what crisis we find ourselves facing, we are to choose to give God praise. No matter how dark or painful the storm may be, we are to choose to give God praise.

Praise is not an emotion. It is a choice.

Thanksgiving is not a feeling. It is a choice.

We are not necessarily praising God for the trial or the crisis or the storm. We are choosing to give God praise and thanks because of who He is … despite the painful circumstance we are facing.

Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Cast up a highway for Him who rides through the deserts; whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him (Psalm 68:4)." ~Choose Praise Girlfriends in God

Evidently a lot of people needed this post. Thank you to all who have written me. My heart goes out to each one of you. My prayers are for you.

Lessons In the Storms

This life has many storms. I am not talking about when your paycheck is a few days late or when your neighbor stops talking to you because your cat used her flowerbed as a litter box. I am talking about anguishing deep within your soul over a situation you are powerless to change or escape. Suffering whips us around until we are so battered we can't stand it any longer. It is right in the midst of our struggle that people start watching and relating to us as they seek a way out of their own suffering. Our powerlessness to prevail against the storms of life reduces us and magnifies His power to a hungry world. That reduction of self (humility) is key to Christian growth because it takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it where it should be. Relying fully on Him, we are able to do the things we should have been doing all along. It is the genuine worship of a God who didn't bow to our desires to change the situation ...that makes the world wonder why He is worthy of such love. It is the strength, peace beyond understanding, hope, thankfulness, and especially the joy which seems so unlikely, that makes others want what you have found. It is when you are exhausted, gasping for the next breath, bleeding out everything that you are that God fills you with Himself and equips you for doing His work.


“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.”  Tim Keller

“While Christianity was able to agree with pagan writers that inordinate attachment to earthly goods can lead to unnecessary pain and grief, it also taught that the answer to this was not to love things less but to love God more than anything else. Only when our greatest love is God, a love that we cannot lose even in death, can we face all things with peace. Grief was not to be eliminated but seasoned and buoyed up with love and hope.” Tim Keller
“Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.”  Tim Keller
“Some suffering is given in order to chastise and correct a person for wrongful patterns of life (as in the case of Jonah imperiled by the storm), some suffering is given not to correct past wrongs but to prevent future ones (as in the case of Joseph sold into slavery), and some suffering has no purpose other than to lead a person to love God more ardently for himself alone and so discover the ultimate peace and freedom.” Tim Keller (emphasis mine)
"There is a love stronger than the chaos, running underneath us, beckoning us to go below the skin-deep externals, beyond the wind, even into the eye of the storm. "Hello Hurricane! You're not enough. You can't silence my love." -Jon Foreman 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed,but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hoop House Greenhouse

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These post was made in October on a day it got to 69F. 
Friends told me to expect a 20F raise, but I checked it frequently throughout the day.
The temp in the greenhouse was 37F higher. I didn't see how much higher it would go after that.
I have rabbits, bantams, and quail in the greenhouse, so I had to open the sides.

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In the back is my fodder and fermenting station made from a recycled pallet and grocery store display rack. I recycle water jugs to carry water to the greenhouse. I will be thankful when Clint gets the plumbing to that area of our place because I need 10 gallons a day just for the greenhouse.

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I added a shade (the fabric part of an old trampoline) to help regulate the temps.

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I enjoy taking 5-10 minutes and watching the animals each day.
It settles and recharges me.
You can see the new chunk of fodder I left for the bunnies to disover.

This was covered with a tarp. We took that off and added 6 mil clear plastic sheeting so we could grwo some salad greens over the winter.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It's What He does!

I saw this quote through Girlfriends in God which I learned about years ago through a sweet friend who is a local pastor's wife:

“Healing…it’s what God does. Telling others about His healing power in our lives…it’s what He longs for us to do.” Sharon Jaynes 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do You Have a Prayer Need?

We receive emails asking us to pray for a person or situation. We take prayer very seriously. If you have a prayer need, please email us at the address at the top of the page to submit your request, and we will bow our heads as a family and pray for you.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Chicken Babies

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With as much as they are carried around, I am truly surprised the chickens haven't forgotten how to walk!

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Hannah was trying to smile with the sun shining in her face.

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Romans 14:19

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interspecies Naptime

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The rabbit (inside the hoop house) and the hens take a nap together like this every day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It Makes My Heart Sing!

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I can not think of any God fearing parent who would not take delight in seeing their children enjoy each other's company.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Fodder Containers

When I made my fodder containers, I used a tiny drill bit. Some of the trays cracked. Clint wanted me to have a nicer system, so he brought home a soldering iron. I told him I could handle doing it myself, but he wanted to do it for me.

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Here are the new containers, and they work very well!

Why fodder?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Stop and Smell the Flowers

We had been hustling for four days straight to do some winter prep on our farm. 
I am thankful for our younger children who remind us to slow down and savor the sweet moments we have as a family!

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Emily: "Sigh! I sure wish I could build like that!"

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So Clint put the drill in her hand!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More on Competition and Comparisons

I was asked how I deal with people who are competitive. I shared that on Nov 10. 

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Here is an article which was shared with me: 

"Paul says something that has a bearing on the matter of competition and comparing people and results.  He wrote, “We are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding” (2 Corinthians 10:12).  As Paul says, we should avoid comparing and measuring ourselves to others.  Pride, arrogance, and boasting are too often the result of winning.  Self-rejection, self-loathing, inferior feelings, envy, jealousy, and anger are too often the result of losing.  We should not want either—regardless of the high value that the world places on competition in all spheres of life.

In competition and in comparing our appearance, our grades, our achievements, and our skills, we seem to be saying, “Look at me. Look at what I’ve done!  Look at what I’ve accomplished!”  This self-focus is the very opposite of the way of God, that is to regard the other as “more important than” ourselves, and looks for the “interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).  Paul asks, “Who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).  We are not to exalt over others because of our assumed “superiority.”  We are to realize that any achievement we have has only been given to us; we are not personally responsible.  We are to walk in humility and not the pride that competition often brings (James 4:6, 10; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

Competition and comparing bring with them many different sins (mentioned in this book), such as envy, jealousy, self-rejection, pride, arrogance, boasting, selfishness, lack of love, seeking first place, lack of compassion, and others.  Let’s run from all of this while pursuing genuine love that seeks the welfare of others."

Read the rest of the article here

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Future Crazy Chicken Lady

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Hannah baby, what are you doing?

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I'm making a chicken house! 
This is a chicken bed, and this is chicken furniture.

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showing our Chicken Jane her handiwork

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Brandon asked Hannah what she was doing and then told her to keep up the good work.
He understands the value of talking and taking an interest in someone's life.
I love her smile here!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Odds n Ends of The Shire

We named our new cozy coop "THE SHIRE." 

It is almost finished except for the paint which will go on next spring. With thick tree branch perches placed 18" apart, it can easily house 60 birds. The ducks and geese will be housed elsewhere since they sleep on the ground. Considering that chickens defecate while perched, I think they will appreciate that.

When I needed nest boxes for my laying hens, I decided to look and see what we had in our scrap pile I could recycle. I love the challenge of putting something that was laid aside back into service in a new way. I made six chicken nest boxes in about 15 minutes with a few screws. I am sharing here to give others ideas on how to save money while raising a flock.

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I used a top of a blue barrel we cut to use as a trash can. We used this top for a feeder for a while. The bottom is a child's toy box I found at a resale shop for $1.98. Joshua put a board in it to separate it into two nesting areas.

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Eventually, I am going to fix the board on the top of the flipped over potato bin.
I think eight long screws is a bit much to hold the board in place when a few staples will do the job better. 
One of my children came up with the idea, and I did not want to discourage their helpful heart.

On top of the far end of the toy box is an onion and potato bin I used for years before putting it in the wood shed to be taken apart and used for something else. We made an additional nest on top by flipping it over and stuffing straw on the top. Between the wall of the coop and onion bin made for another nice nesting area where we added a board to keep the chickens from pulling the straw and eggs out as they jump in and out.

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No sooner than we finished, we had an occupant!

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She left us a present!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Escorted by the Poodle

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Maggie weighs 3 lbs but still keeps a careful watch over all of us.
She is so tired in the evenings!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Find Free Kindle Books

Clint was gifted a Kindle Fire this week. He already has one, so he gave it to me. 

I have a library containing well over 1,000 books for my KF. I have been adding free books to my Amazon Kindle account for years. Whenever I'd see them offered, I'd grab them.

Many Amazon's Kindle books are offered free for a time to get them read and reviewed. After a certain period of time, the price comes back. 

Some books I have in my account are now selling for $30 and $40, but I didn't pay anything for them. I have homeschooling, gardening, mystery novels, science, math, history, foreign language, medical textbooks, recipes, animal husbandry, tourism, children's books, religion, etc. I just kept an eye out for them and would download them while waiting. It literally takes me a few seconds to add them to my account. 

If the title seems like something I can use later, I right click it to open the page, verify it is free, and download it. Click, click, click. I don't worry about it if it is well written or informative, because I can easily remove it from my device later.

1. Go to
2. Using the tab that says All with a down arrow next to it, select: Kindle Store
3. Search for topic of your choice.

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4. Sort results by Low to High

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5. If any free books are available on that topic, they will be at the top.

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6. Click book title to open page. 

7. Verify price before purchasing. This is very important. I have had some books come up in the search as free which had a price on the book's page. 

The book can go from free to charging a price at any time, so verify and grab them while you can. If you put it off, you might miss out on a good title.

Whomever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, may the Lord bless you..right where you are, just as you are in this moment!

Lots of Love

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Clint is taking a rest from cutting trees.

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The girls hear the chainsaw is off and come to spend some time with their favorite guy.

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Hannah is behind them in the picture.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sunday, November 09, 2014

God Says: Love So Deep the Hurt is Buried in It!

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Update: 11/17: I was asked if Clint bought me these flowers. They are my favorite flowers from friends who ministered to me when I lost Isaac in May 2013. I took several pictures of the lovely arrangement and made several predated posts using them. These were my favorite so they were featured more, but I appreciated all of the gifts and efforts made on my behalf. This was my way of showing appreciation and reminding to myself of ALL of my loved ones' kindness, deep love, and concern. I did this also to encourage myself as I healed from the loss. I predated the posts to times I thought I might struggle. When I'd see them pop up, they became markers for times of self-assessment. I can testify with joy that God has brought me much further along than I imagined I'd be at this point. His love is healing! Thank You, Father, for loving me as you do.

lilac roses with white calla lilies

I Peter 4:8 
Above all, love each other deeply, 
because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

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Caleb, on right, after his appendectomy at 68 lbs.

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Caleb, on left, not only kept up with a still growing Joshua but made gains on him! They both put on a lot of muscle this year! PTL!!! 
Don't worry about the lack of a smile on Caleb. He doesn't like to smile for pictures.

For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. I Timothy 4:8

Friday, November 07, 2014

Cooking for Large Families: Skip the Crockpot, This Works Better

One of the best cooking tips I have ever received was to stop using my slow cooker. What?! Stop using that wonderful time saving crock pot that keeps meals on track in the evenings when my energy is lagging?! Yes!

I now use an 18 quart roaster on the slow cook setting. It allows me to double or even TRIPLE recipes without worrying about liquids overflowing. I easily can cook enough for my family and company, or I can cook enough for now and have some to freeze for a quick meal later. 
I love that I can move it to a spare room in summer to keep the heat out of the house. When we camp, I will take it with us since I know I can set it outside on a table to save room in our RV. I still use my slow cookers sometimes, but these days it is usually for side dishes or smaller meals. 

My man Clint says it is a fine way to cook spicy Italian sausage, onions, and bell peppers!

Thursday, November 06, 2014


"Jered rarely fumbled the ball, explaining his success in a way I remember to this day: “Most players who carry the ball either make the mistake of trying to create their own route or end up following the wrong guy. I have blockers assigned to me on every play. Their job is to make a path for me. The minute I get the ball, I put my head down, look for my blockers, watch their feet and follow them – right across the goal line.”
God has already been where He wants us to go. All we have to do is look for Him, watch His steps and follow them – right across the finish line. Discipline your steps, making sure that they match His."

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Good Medicine

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Clint said, "With all of the comedians in this family, our future family reunions are going to be something else!"

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Around Here November 2014

Clint and I are closing in our tractor "drive through" shed section of our old barn. We challenged ourselves to use all free recycled building materials or leftovers from our own building projects. It has turned into a fun and rewarding project for the entire family! To make the outside look like the rest of the shed, we will likely have to purchase a few pieces of T-1-11 siding and paint. Seeing how much and how quickly we can do something as a family is very satisfying. Everyone brings something new and valuable to the table. Team Asbell rocks!

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Nirmal 2, our new mouser

We have enjoyed our trips around but are ready to slow down and enjoy time with our family over the holidays. Clint and I have enjoyed some nights away in our little spot which was nice. We have recently been walking together in our woods, identifying trees, and spotting signs of wildlife together. 

Brandon found himself the car he wanted, and he seems very happy with it. He is building himself a custom desk to help him with his next certification. Brandon is a hands on learner, so he buys equipment and works with it to learn the concepts. As a result, he really knows his stuff and receives compliments on how advanced his skills are for his age. He recently helped a company stop a phishing attack from a competitor. Brandon took ethical hacking classes and taught me a couple of years ago how easy it is to bypass a firewall, and retrieve documents off a business or personal computer. Technology is both amazing and frightening!

Amanda bottomed out in a parking lot and cracked her exhaust. She had to pay $283 for repairs. She has been working more on her art studio by insulating and putting in the ceiling in the loft area. She has insulated the floor too. She has found free furnishings and building materials. She also found some things she could use through work. She is enjoying her college classes and has been helping me with farm sales. We are hoping she can make a run to pick up livestock for us next month to save us the trip. 

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Red, a boer mix buck

Joshua is making great strides in his high school course. He is very bright and learns very easily. He has been doing Biology dissections and has performed his first minor surgeries here on the farm. He has a natural curiosity for how the human body works and has a very strong stomach. He is continually asking me questions about first aid, organs, systems of the body, nutrition, and allopathic and herbal medicines. It is drawing my interest to herbal medicine again, so I am learning more too. I love how homeschooling strengthens the parent-child bond in so many different ways!

Caleb has been a tremendous help with the building we've been doing. He will often look at something we are working on and offer suggestions for improvement. Many times lately, his suggestions have been improvements we could implement. When they aren't, he has a teachable spirit and will listen as to why. Not bad for a 13 year old! The president of our hometown's bluebird society has befriended him, sent him gifts, and is encouraging him in building bird houses and creating habitats for all native species. 
Bethany can plan, purchase, prepare, and serve an entire meal from appetizer to dessert. She is a big help to Clint under a car and on the roof. It is hard to believe she is 11 already! She is a cheerful helper. I enjoy listening to her sing while she works. She is learning how to give me valuable feedback which helps me make better decisions as I manage our household and homeschool. She is starting to learn some of the harder aspects of animal husbandry too. 

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Maggie thinks the goats are a threat to me so she kept herself between them and me. The doeling stood on her back legs and went in for a head butt, but didn't follow through..thank Goodness!

If I tell Emily and Hannah to give the chickens a break from being carried, the chickens just follow them anyway. Emily gets SO excited when she finds an egg! She has enjoyed climbing all over the trees Clint has brought down for our winter heat. 

Hey Rich, I think Rosie, Em's Holland Mini Lop, is going to be a mama! Emily says "Thank you!" again.

Hannah has become the crazy chicken girl. She even asked for chickens for her birthday. She asks first thing every morning if she can go outside and see them! My grandma Ada, who kept many breeds of chickens, would have loved seeing her interact with the hens.

Thank you to Dave for the tickets!

We had a good friend tell us she can't imagine having all of the joy and happiness in her life as we have ours. She said she has never seen any other family take as much delight in each other as we do. She told us we are tremendously blessed and that she wishes she had what we have found. We are grateful for her perspective and are counting our blessings! Thank you, Mary!

If we have not heard from you in a while, please drop us a line (see email address in page header). If you come here to read frequently but rarely write, it's a one sided relationship where we share and you read. Give a little back and tell us how you are doing or what's new in your life. Struggling? We will pray for you! Seeing blessings? We will rejoice with you! Know that if you don't write, we will keep right on loving you and praying for you anyway. We enjoy making new friends, love all of our family close and far, and always respond to email. While we share our victories and struggles freely to shine a light on our great God, we care about what is happening in your life too! 

Thank you to those who have taken the time to write. We were greatly blessed by it! :-) 

Diana, we are praying for you and baby and look forward to the pictures!!

Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.