Monday, October 16, 2017

What's happening with us?

Our family has been in a transition of sorts for the last several months. 

We've been enlisted to help neighbors who fell on hard times claim back their independence and quality of life. There are changes to this situation coming this week, and we will see how things develop.

Three of our children have graduated or will soon! Yes, three! Joshua graduated, but Caleb (16) and Bethany (14) are not far behind him. 

Our farm has changed too. We have stopped keeping some animals and are increasing others because of our time limits and ease of care.

I am not working in the more commonly understood sense, but I have something I am doing a few hours a day that involves writing and is very well compensated. Initially, it was just something I was offered and would try, but I rose through the ranks quickly. I am now offered so much to do that I have to turn quite a bit down. It is blessing my family and a few other people which keeps me motivated. God dropped this in my lap, and I am very thankful!

Brandon still has the house he bought and works for the same company, but he was given a series of raises and has earned some big bonuses.

Amanda is living in her own space on our place and has moved up in her job with another opportunity to move forward this week. She works nights so I try to plan family events around her schedule. 

Joshua has graduated, purchased a car, and is looking forward to his college classes starting. 

Caleb is learning to drive, but that has been held up by time constraints. He will graduate this week or next depending on how hard he pushes himself to finish the last few tests. (He finished his work the day after I wrote this post and is waiting on his diploma.)

Bethany reminds me so much of her paternal grandmother with some of the things she says and does. Clint and I wish she had had the chance to know her. She is half way through with her high school course and has a goal to finish by Christmas. (Her course had some changes that will take her around another year to finish.)

Emily and Hannah are doing well in their homeschool course work. Hannah is thriving in language arts while Emily enjoys math and science. 

Clint stays busy between family, work, and home. He just got a car he plans to fix and resell for profit when he gets time to do it. 

We're planning another camping trip before the holidays. Our last one was nice  but had to be cut short by two days due to the weather. 

That's us! If you're reading, send us an update about you and yours. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

This is not how the story ends...

Sarah, Rebecca, Josiah, Angel Noel, Abigail, Benjamin, Mary, Isaac, and Jonathan

Faith is not a magic pill that removes our pain. Faith is what helps us bear it. Today, I choose to be thankful for the babies God made known to me and my family but took away before we got to know them better. I choose to rejoice as a person who truly believes God's promises will come to fruition. Choosing to honor God with my attitude, thoughts, and words does not mean I have stopped loving my miscarried and stillborn babies or that I love them less. It means I've taken God at His Word. I believe He has a plan and what He allows is for my good and His glory. I believe there is life and a future for my babies. It means He has given me, and I have readily grasped a hold of, some of His strength so I can keep doing the job He has called me to do in being a wife to a wonderful man and a mother to my other seven. 

Today, in recognition of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, is the day I remember my precious nine, celebrate their short lives, and thank my Father that this is not how the story ends.

Psalm 30:11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Coal Road 4x4 Jeep Road

I have added some pictures to the 4x4 Jeep Trail off of Coal Road album for those who plan to make the trip. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What time do you wake up and start your homeschool?

My wake up and homeschool start times have varied a lot over the years depending on my husband's shift, his work week, our activities, difficult pregnancies with bed rest, new babies, etc.

Sometimes I was up very early (before 6). Other times, I woke up after 8. I did what worked best for us in our current circumstances and never cared what anyone else was doing. It doesn't matter what "they" are doing. What matters is if I am doing my very best at keeping priorities in check, at staying on top of my responsibilities, and at seeing progress in my children's academics.

I've been homeschooling since 1995 (22 years) and have three graduated children who are doing better than their peers in college and the workplace. My 16 yo will graduate high school in a month. My 14 yo will graduate high school before January. My oldest son is the sys admin over two industrial plants (since he was 21 years old) and bought his own home when he was 23 without any help from us other than opinions on the structure. My seven living children range in age from 25 to 9 yo. I am happy to say that all of them are also serving the Lord.

Homeschooling has built us a strong marriage, parent-child, and sibling relationships. There are SO many ways God has blessed us through homeschooling. I am very, very thankful He led us to this way of living.

Looking back over the years, I do not see where an earlier start time was of any benefit. It was the consistent and mindful effort that gave the results.

Interestingly enough, a friend of mine took a poll on wake up and homeschool start times a couple of weeks ago. Most of them woke up after 9 and started in the late morning hours. Most of them reported they did not make their beds because there were things of more lasting value to spend their time on.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Need Help with Your Flat Stanley Project

Flat Stanley Visits

I love where I live and love sharing our history with others. Feel free to use these images for *your own child's* school or homeschool project. 

I retain the copyright to these images, and if you desire to use them in any other way, please contact me for permission.

If you have not purchased your Flat Stanley book yet, please consider using this link: Flat Stanley Books on Amazon The very small proceeds will benefit my family's homeschooling and sends me a "thank you" for keeping the photo album available to families.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Nausea and vomiting in the first trimester

Help! I am having nausea and vomiting in my first trimester and can't keep anything down!!! I am trying to eat healthy, but I keep throwing it all up!

I had severe hyperemesis gravidarum from 5 to 40 weeks with all of my pregnancies. I was on medication and IVs. is a hyperemesis support group has a support board with a list of foods that are easier on the stomach. It is called Foodments. There are also volunteers who may be in your area. I was sent books and a list of HG knowledgeable doctors. As a volunteer, I have helped women in my local area. 

I also took Unisom and B6. The sleep center and vomit center of the brain are in the same area. Unisom and Benadryl are safe to take while pregnant, and it does help slow down the vomiting, but you will be sleepy. 

I was told by my doctor that the nutritional stores in my body would carry me through for a good long while. Your baby will get what he/she needs but it will come at your expense. However, if you have been taking care of yourself, my doctor said, it will be a while before you see any of the effects. I was told to do the best I could, eat what stayed down, and not to worry because my body would provide what my babies needed for the short duration.

If you would like prayer support, please drop me a message at the email in the header. Our family will be happy to pray for you and your baby.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Prayers for Friends in Irma's Path

Update 9/9: My friends are in the Dominican Republic. Both of them were put on a plane this morning. I believe US military intervened. They are waiting for a flight to get to the US and plan to fly to their home in GA. They were told Monday would be the earliest. The DR is also hurricane damaged but not as extensively. They are in a hotel and eager to get home. The situation in St. Maarten was deteriorating rapidly. The hotel had to have blockades and armed guards around the clock. Please continue to pray for my friends and the people who have been affected by Irma.


Update 9/8/2017: Michelle is flying off St. Maarten tomorrow morning thanks to the military. They are taking the elderly, women, and children off first. I was told she does not know where she will land. She will have to arrange a flight from wherever to her daughter's house in TN. She can't fly into GA with Irma in the way. Scott will have to shelter in the concrete bunker of the hotel. I read from a reliable source that food and water supplies were getting low. There is some news reports that there is looting and men with machetes in the street robbing people. Thankfully, a plane with rations of food and water for 40,000 people for five days landed today. Other supplies were said to have been brought in today. Please pray for Scott and the rest of the people of St. Maarten. Thank you to everyone who has been praying.


Update 9/8: If anyone reading this has experience on how to help evacuate Americans from a Caribbean Island, please let me know so I can pass that information on to my friends' family. They have asked me to help. They are in danger. There are men with machetes in the street robbing people. The shop owners have just opened the doors rather than have mobs break in and destroy things. This situation is deteriorating.


Update 9/8: This is from Michelle's mother: "I just got off the phone with Michelle, they have no wifi so she can not post updates, here is the latest.
They were able to get into their room and get their luggage, the glass door was blown in and the hall door also but luggage was all ok. They are staying in one big public room with all the others, they are no longer "guest" but are refugees, they are receiving rations of food and water.
They have set up a Medical Center where they are both working, along with other "refugees" that are Drs and nurses. They were able to round up enough medical supplies, but luckly there is not a lot of injured people, mostly scratches and blisters.
The damage is great, there is NO control tower at the airport and no building, only planes that can land are military as they know how to land without a control tower. She has heard it could be up to 4 weeks before they might get out.

They are safe and she sounded very good (to this mothers ears). Please pass this on to anyone that might not read it on here, and please continue to pray for them and all that are living in this disaster."


Update: My friends were able to call a family member of theirs and let them know they are OK. Conditions are bad, but everyone is safe!


5 a.m UPDATE: If you are awake, my friends need immediate prayers for safety. They were sheltering in a room of the hotel, but a roof near that area came off. They had to relocated in another room. My friends are asking prayers that all lives will be spared.

Clint and I have friends trapped on an island in Irma's path. They were told is was OK to go and that they would be evacuated if needed. They tried very hard to leave, but the service they went through refused to reschedule another flight, then Delta, their airline, did not send extra planes to facilitate the evacuation, then the government closed the airport. It didn't help that their taxi driver scared them with images of extreme damage from a previous hurricane or that the hotel forced them to sign a waiver for responsibility for their life/property or leave their room. Please keep them in your prayers.

Monday, August 28, 2017

NC Tire Change Large or Small


I am friends with the Vance family through Facebook. 
RATC is located in Caldwell County.
They are hardworking people of integrity.
If you need tires changed on heavy equipment, tractors, semis, etc, please consider calling.

What age range is best for siblings to play and interact with one another?

I was asked "What age range is best for siblings to play and interact with one another?"

Playing is simply engaging in an activity for enjoyment. 

My seven children range in age from 26 to 8. Even though he has his own house, my 26 year old will sit and play Legos, play in the pool, throw water balloons with, race Matchbox cars, etc for hours now and then with my 8 and 10 year olds. He often invites all six of his siblings to his house for pizza, movies, games, and sleep overs. They laugh and have a blast together. 

When I have the time for it, I am out there with them playing just as hard. I am 48, almost 49. When I play with a baby's feet and make him laugh, I am not counting the age difference. I am counting the smiles we both get out of the shared fun experience.

It's not the age, but the love in the relationship that keeps people of all ages interacting and relating to one another. It's up to the parents to teach their children to value and preserve relationships.

I told my older children it was up to them to reach out and build those relationships with their youngest siblings. They have taken that advice and run with it. 

My oldest daughter is 22, and she plans "Girl Days" where the four girls go shopping, go out to eat (her treat), do a craft, or do hair and make up while watching a movie. She and my two youngest went paint-balling with her co-workers recently.

Like my 96 year old grandfather who kept a collection of modern toys that he showed off simply because they delighted him, I intend to keep engaging in fun (playing) until I die.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What do you say to those who are against homeschooling?

I had this happen to me over 20 years ago. They were Christians. I asked them what Biblical basis they had against homeschooling. They had nothing which told me it was just opinions I was dealing with. I thanked them for their concern and told them we felt homeschooling was the way the Lord was leading us. I explained that even though it was different than what they preferred for us, we were going to follow as the Lord led. If they sincerely felt we were in error on this, then to please pray for us and trust God to do that work in our lives.

That worked!

It took the focus off of coming to us with their worries and sent them straight to the Lord.

I made up my mind to obey God and not let the voices of others distract/hinder me even for a moment from where He was leading. God blessed that.

My oldest graduated at the top of his college classes. At 22, he was the youngest person working where he works as the sysadmin over two industrial plants. He makes VERY good money, just got back from a two week trip in Europe, owns two cars, has paid off most of his college loans, has a good start on his retirement fund, and at 23 years old purchased his own home.

When she was 19, my now 22 year old was given a raise and made assistant manager over the store where she worked after being cashier for two months because of her work ethic and accuracy. She has a new job that she has been working three months and has already been moved up with raises twice. She is on her way to buying her own home.

I have a 13 year old who is almost done with high school through a regionally accredited online course.

There's nothing like success to quiet the dissenters.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Article: Trusting God in the Next Phase of Your Child’s Life

"She had no idea what would happen to her baby, but she trusted the plan of the Father.  " read more:  Putting the Basket in the Water: Trusting God in the Next Phase of Your Child's Life

At a time where many children are leaving the next to attend college, this article is very timely. 

While I do agree with her that we need to put our children in God's care and trust Him to work in their lives, I disagree with her on a couple of things like where she says "Jesus wasn't human any more."* However, that does not take away her points about the phases of life, and our need to place our trust in the Father. 

*Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sneaky Grief

I don't know why. I have nothing I can pinpoint as triggering it, but grief has sneaked up on me again today. My arms ache for my nine babies that left this earth far too soon. I am drawing attention to draw attention to a simple fact: 

Grief has no timeline. It doesn't expire. It can be unpredictable. 

I get through these days by reminding myself of what I know is true. Each day takes me one step closer to meeting my Savior face to face and seeing all the promises of my Father fulfilled. 

I will see my children again. 

I am going now to go play with my girls in the pool. Enjoying the children I have been blessed to share this life with is one of the ways I can honor my God and the children I am missing...and it helps the heart. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Warning: Our Kmart Online Experience

If you haven't heard it from others, take it from us: Do NOT shop Kmart online.

Please note we didn't even post about this until the 17th. The order was placed the 6th and canceled, from what we were told, on the 8th. We have tried every other avenue.

We don't normally shop KMART locally or online so we had no idea of the issues people are having with them until it happened to us.

It just happened that they had the best deal on a higher priced item we wanted to purchase. We really wish we had looked at other people's experiences first so we could have avoided the trouble we've encountered.

I know there are inconsistencies, but this is what exactly we have been told:

Our money (almost $500) is still tied up after they cancelled our July 6th order because their website let us order something they did not have in stock.

Kmart didn't inform us our order was cancelled, UPS did indirectly when they sent a shipping update via text telling us it was damaged in transit.

Now, if there was nothing to ship, why was a shipper's service used and why did UPS report to us that it was damaged?

Kmart said they didn't reorder it because there weren't any to send. We had already checked online, and it showed there were some available, and the price had been dropped almost $50 since we ordered.

When we asked why the website said some were available, we were told it was because the website had not been updated since we ordered. So, we are left to assume the website was updated enough to change the price but not to update the quantity.

That means some other person/family might be about to go through the same hassles we are. Hence this post.

We have had issues getting a person who could speak and understand English.

On our third time calling, we asked to speak to a supervisor. The person kept delaying until Clint repeated twice more that he wanted to speak to one. They replied with, "You want to speak to a supervisor?" Either the person couldn't understand the request, or they were deliberately ignoring the request.

We have been told FOUR different dates our money will be returned. What started out as 3-5 days has gradually lengthened to 10 days. Every time we interact with them, we are given a new date.

Our money is not in the account again today, so we complained again..and received a FIFTH deadline.

Now we wait until after Wednesday, the 19th.

NOT ONCE have they apologized for the issues we've encountered. It's like we and our order gone wrong are the inconvenience. They do not care that our experience has been horrible, that we are confused by what has happened, or that our money is still tied up. They have done nothing to encourage us to shop with them again.

Unlike other companies we've shopped with recently, no one at Kmart has reached out to us. We've had to initiate every contact every step of the way. We understand now why their company is doing so poorly.

Our experience with Kmart has been nothing but a huge hassle, with many inconsistencies, and a lot of aggravation.

Meanwhile, had an item of ours damaged in transit. They initiated the refund before we even knew about it. We've received our refund in 2-3 days and are very pleased with that turnaround. Then they sent us a customer satisfaction survey to make sure they made us happy through the cancellation and refund. #thankyouWalmart #Walmartrocks

We have received refunds on the same day in the past from Amazon and Walmart. Why can't Kmart do the same?

...and, we still wait on Kmart to return our money for an order gone horribly wrong from the start. We'll update this post with how it turns out.

Update 7/19/2017: The fifth deadline for our almost $500 has come..and the money is not there. Clint called them this morning. They told him they would call back in one hour. He waited two.

When he called back, after being put on hold, he asked to speak to a supervisor. The man fussed at him and said he was suppose to be waiting on a call from a supervisor. Clint told him he had waited twice as long as was promised. He finally was transferred to Carol.

Carol told us she would try to expedite the refund for tomorrow, but it would most likely take another 3-5 business days. Carol told him a refund had never been issued. She says our account was never charged because the order was canceled. We can prove it was charged. Someone with common sense in the company should be able to research that and see that payment was received on their end. Because of that, our refund was never issued. At least that is the story we are getting today. We have filed with the BBB and our Attorney General and other agencies.

July 20: As expected, the expedited refund did not come though. Per a tip from a friend, we called our bank. Even though this was purchased with a debit card, the bank will still pursue it to get our money back. 

July 21: Our money is back in our account! Thank you SUNTRUST!! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

This Is A MUST Read: Take A Gander At This Amazing, But Little Known, 9-11 Story

This Is A MUST Read: Take A Gander At This Amazing, But Little Known, 9-11 Story

THIS is worth the read! 

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward. Let’s not forget THIS fact.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

He's Home!

(photo taken by Amanda)

Brandon is home safely from a two week trip to Poland.
He stayed with friends, experienced the culture, saw 68 places!!, and enjoyed his time there.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Priorities and Legitimate Christianity

The most important side of my life is the one where I bear my most cherished titles – husband and father. There is nothing in this world that means more to me than the fact that I am Bridget’s husband and Asher, Jasmine, Trey, and Elijah’s father. Whenever I say that, I can almost hear people thinking, “Shouldn’t your relationship with Christ mean more to you than your family life?” I guess in an ultimate sense that is the case. However, my family is the primary place where my walk with Christ takes on flesh. It is one thing for me to have a personal relationship with Jesus. However, if I spend hours reading the Bible and praying and invest the lion’ share of my time ministering to others while neglecting my role as husband and father, my relationship with Christ is out of balance or, worse, inauthentic. It is my relationship with my wife and children that gives my walk with Christ legitimacy. -Voddie Baucham

Friday, June 30, 2017

What happened to your images?

Photobucket changed their terms and is trying to coerce people into paying $400 a year for image hosting. I don't like their tactics and will not be using them any longer. I will be moving to an account with another imaging service soon. 

For now, if you want to see what I have posted, please click the Photobucket ad to see them. However, I was informed that will eventually be shut down also.

Sadly, I do not have time to go through the blog and change every link. So, the posts will continue to feature the ugly ad. I will make changes to my most frequently visited pages as I have time.

You can read a better explanation of what has happened with images on Photobucket here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cooling the Hive

 photo coolingwings_zpsn0zdd8mc.jpg
See how the bee has its wings straight out? They buzz their wings in that position to cool the hive. Brandon took and sent me these pictures of his bees to show me. I am eagerly looking forward to acquiring my own hives next spring!

In cold climates like Poland, bee hives are painted dark colors to help keep the hive warmer. Here in the southern US, we paint our hives a light color to reflect summer's heat.

Friday, June 16, 2017

George Washington National Forest Shooting Range Brandywine, WVA

You should be able to access my Facebook Album with photos and information here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Camp Run Campground, WVA

We scouted this area to see if it was something we wanted to do with our children. You should be able to access my Facebook Album which has pictures and informaiton here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy Birthday Clint!

 photo clintbirthdayr2d2_2017_zpszlqs1jrm.jpg
This is an old smoker that I painted to look like R2D2 with our children's help.
Clint loved it! He put it in his office at work.

To my love, Clint, on his birthday! I want to sit on that mountain and listen to the sweet whippoorwill sing us "goodnight" again.
My love is deeper than the holler, stronger than the rivers
Higher than the pine trees growin' tall upon the hill
My love is purer than the snowflakes that fall in late December
And honest as a robin on a springtime window sill
And longer than the song of the whippoorwill

Happy Birthday to my one and only forever date! Thank you for all you do for the glory of the Lord and the good of our family! CONGRATULATIONS also on finishing your degree while married, raising seven children, working two jobs, maintaining our home and cars, ministering to others, and much more. I know it was not easy balancing so very much, but you stuck with it and finished it. I am so thankful God gave us to each other. Your friends know you as "C-Dawg" and "Mr. Stud," but I know you as the very best part of me. I will always love you, Clint!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Smoker Turned into R2D2

 photo clintbirthdayr2d2_2017_zpsawaiaebb.jpg 

Clint LOVES his birthday present which we gave him a little early. This was a smoker the children and I painted to look like R2D2. It has motion activated droid sounds. Our initials are hidden in the paint. Caleb helped me figure out how to lay it out and put the legs on it. Amanda, Joshua, Bethany, Emily, and Hannah helped me paint it. Brandon bought the motion activated speaker. 

We had the smoker just sitting around and the paint was leftover from other stuff. Brandon didn't have time to paint, so he bought the motion activated sound. Whatever he paid for that is all we have in it. Clint's looking to see how to make it remote controlled. He wants it to move!

I thought he'd want to put it outside on the forest path like we did the minion Bethany and I painted. When I mentioned it, he put his arm around it and said, "You can't put R2 outside, Wendy."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Motts for Tots Organic Apple Juice #freesample

 photo IMG_6686_zpskc7hjwpo.jpg 

Our family is often given free samples and products to try from vendors. We try several new products a week. 

Recently, we were given a generous free sample of Motts for Tots Apple Juice. It was more than enough for everyone in our family of nine to have a glass with some left to share. Mott's for Tots Organic Apple Juice is made with organic apples and starts with 100% juice. Then they add purified water to cut the sugar by 40%. Then essential vitamins are added. This results in a good, clean beverage that tastes great but contains much less sugar. 

I thought our youngest children, Emily and Hannah, would enjoy it the most. While they did love it, Joshua, our 17 year old, is absolutely crazy about it. Since cutting sugar consumption is a good thing for braces, Joshua's orthodontist is happy with Joshua choosing Motts for Tots as his new apple juice too. #freesample

Thursday, May 25, 2017

4x4 Jeep Trail off of Coal Road/ Cold Spring Bald Mountain Trail (FR 162)

The Cold Spring Bald Mountain Trail (FR 162) also known as the Coal Road 4x4 Jeep Trail has access points from the Blue Ridge Parkway Bald Mountain Overlook MP 22.1 and Coal Road. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the top of the trail, and Coal Road is the bottom. 

Here's a link to the trail on Google Maps to help you find it.

I have a lot of young drivers new to 4WDing asking me about this road. Please be patient as I add info for them. My goal is to share something we enjoy and also keep the newbies as safe as possible. 

This trail can be done in a stock Jeep. If you have that clearance and 4WD, you should not have a problem. We did it in a 1999 4WD Suburban which we also use on our farm. 

Conditions change from day to day, year to year. Keep that in mind. The trail is closed in the winter months. The trail is rocky with some muddy and some sandy areas. We have been when the boulders that make up parts of the width of the road were slick with algae. 

When you talk about difficulty, that seems subjective based on experience. We did not find this trail difficult or even moderate. Our trip was after a rain, and there was one mud puddle about as long as our suburban. It was deep enough to cause a few seconds of concern, but Clint got us through it. 

You do get jostled around because it is rocky and uneven. You do need to know about off camber turns, clearance, center of gravity, how 4WD traction works, differentials, etc. 

We took the main trail and did not have any major issues with clearance or with the width of the road. 

 photo IMG_6393_zpsduuajbao.jpg
The license plate is a victim of a forest 4WD adventure and 
is on the dashboard in the window.

This link should take you to my album of pictures of the trail. We did not take the alternate trails. We also did not get to stop at the clearing with Green Pond on this trip. We were trying to get through before a thunderstorm and get back to camp before dark. So, I was not able to get pictures of those places. 

There are pit vipers when the weather is warm. Be aware of that if you decide to go behind bushes to use nature as a restroom. I do not like snakes, spiders, or ticks. We simply waited until we had the trail to ourselves and took turns in a clearing right next to the trail with the Suburban blocking the view, just in case. You can hear the trucks coming most of the time.

If you do not stop and stick to the main trail, you can get through the trail in under two and a half hours. We stopped briefly for overlooks, pictures, and to use the restroom. We got through it in just under three. We had been told the minimum time to get through it was six hours. They may have taken alternate trails and/or longer breaks. You need to go as slow as possible and as fast as necessary. Off-roading is hard on a vehicle.

I recommend going up the trail for the first visit for inexperienced drivers. There are a series of switchbacks and some off camber turns. 

The standard recommendation is to go with another person or a group. This is helpful if you break down or get stuck. If you can't go with someone else, go earlier in the day. That ensures someone will come across you before nightfall.

There is really only one place you could benefit from having a spotter to get over a particular set of boulders, but there is an easy drive around for this spot. 

Take vehicle repair tools, a spare tire, snacks, water, and anything else you might pack for a day trip. On this trip, we saw lots of fathers with children, but no other women driving or riding in 4x4s besides me and my daughter. There are local firemen who frequent the trail in their own personal vehicles. They've been on the trail every time we've gone. We've found them to be a jovial, friendly, and helpful bunch.

There are loose rocks, stream fed puddles, hikers, bikers, and other vehicles. There may be tent campers in some of the camping areas.

There are blind curves, and the trail is fairly narrow in spots. You might have to back up a ways to find a place to make room for someone to pass. You might have to patiently crawl along as hikers make their way to a place wide enough you can pass them. We've even seen a couple walking their hyper dogs. Brush is thick and leaves light "pin-striping," but it buffs out. I've been told the alternate trails can leave permanent pin-striping from the rocks.

It CAN be dangerous. We have seen an accident that had the road shut down for a few hours. However, I feel like we are in more danger in heavy 70 mph traffic on the interstate than on this trail. 

I hope this helps someone enjoy the trail! Have fun, and please share a picture of your experience!

When we go again, I hope to have more pictures to add to the album.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coal Road Bald Mountain 4x4 Jeep Trail

We love traveling in this area and get a lot of questions from the previous posts and images we've shared on social media.  We've also made some pretty good adventure loving friends!

Before we ever tried, we searched the internet quite a while but never found anyone who had even tried this trail in a Suburban. We knew a stock Jeep could do it, so we figured our suburban could too. 

We did it in our '99 Suburban with no issues. I should note here that our driver, my husband, has quite a bit of 4WD experience. That matters.

Our trip was spur of the moment, so we did not go in a group. I can see where a group would be helpful in case of a breakdown. Cell coverage for me was spotty. If you must go alone, do it earlier in the day. That way if you have an issue, someone should come along and be able to offer help. Expect other drivers, mountain bikers, and hikers on this trail. There are spots to camp along the trail. Look for rock campfire rings.

If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing adventure, you probably should go to an off road beach. This road is a lot of rugged fun in a beautiful environment. If you've never driven up a rocky mountain trail before, it can be quite a thrill.

I will be making a post with some tips soon. For now, those interested in driving the trail can view images of parts of the road in my Facebook album

Coal Road Bald Mountain 4x4 Jeep Trail 4WD 4 wheel four wheel off road Shenandoah Blue Ridge Sherando Bald Mountain

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Prayers for Family Friend Needed

Our long time friend, Angie, has Ehlers Danos. She is use to a certain pain level, but she has been hit with a new problem that is taking her to her limit. Angie is hospitalized, but the doctors can't get her pain under control. Will you please pray for her with us? Thank you so much!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Motherhood Can Sometimes Feel Like This Scene

Sometimes I've felt like enacting this scene.
"Help me help you!"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mindlessly Mothering

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Hannah and Emily came running in the house and breathlessly announced that Hannah had seen a "baby snake" at their bike ramp.

"How long was it?"

She spreads her fingers about 4 inches. Kind of small for a snake, but children aren't always the best judge of measurements. 

"What color was it?"

"Brown with black markings" was her reply.

In my state, that could possibly mean a copperhead or water moccasin, but I've never seen one at our place. These are not reptiles I want near where my children play. However, I've learned to be patient and gather as many facts as I can before responding in my decades of parenting.

"Will you please draw me a picture?"

Hannah drew the picture above, and I knew right away it was a Little Brown Skink which is a harmless creature. They can move so quickly; you can miss seeing their tiny legs and mistake them for a baby snake. 

Skinks are very beneficial to humans. They eat the bugs that destroy our crops and pests that invade our homes. I used this opportunity to teach my youngest two about the role of the skink and the God given responsibility of having dominion and stewardship over the earth. 

Now, I am not fond of slithery things, and I certainly do not not want them touching me. If they surprise me, I'll scream so loud you will hear it from where you sit. I'd be quite happy if I never came across another slithery thing. However, I was not given this job as a mother to teach my children about my preferences or aversions. I am to teach them God's unadulterated truth. So, I can't mindlessly mother. Mothering requires thoughtfulness and careful consideration of what God's Word says.

The truth is that we have been given dominion and stewardship over the earth and the creatures on it. We need to take the job as seriously as we do the other jobs He has given us like parenting, ministry, marriage, career, etc. 

If we react with fear or revulsion to every little creature we see, it can lead us to foolishly destroying the gifts God has given us in creation. Then, we lose the benefits God has in place. 

God says His thoughts and ways are much higher than mine, so I believe the benefits of letting creatures, like the Little Brown Skink, alone extend much further than I can imagine. 

I also believe God will bless us for slowing down in the course of our day to consider Him as we go along and also for choosing kindness over cruelty. 

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Jungle in the Explorer

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This is how you ride when you stuff two large peach trees in a Ford Explorer that already has a large tool box in the back. Amanda took me shopping and bought me the trees for Mother's Day. Brandon bought me two large apple trees and a peach tree. I ask for fruit trees for my Mother's Day every year with the hope the trees will produce fruit that will bless my children's future families. 

My grandmother grew a large garden and always sent home food, a hug, and a request to visit again with anyone who visited. I look back and see how she had a wonderful, practical ministry to others right in her own home. She started with her own family and worked her way to be a blessing to both friends and strangers. This is what I hope to do from the little spot of earth God has bestowed to us.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone with a loving mother's heart no matter if you have many children or none. This includes those who conceived and lost, those whose child grew and left for Heaven, teachers and social workers who see the hurting child and respond, and fathers who step up to fill both roles. I hope you know your love and concern matters in a child's life, and you are worth your weight in gold!

Friday, May 12, 2017


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This opportunistic female cardinal got into Caleb's quail pen which is a large, walk in hoop house covered in one inch chicken wire. She couldn't remember how to get back out. She was eating the quail food when he saw her! Caleb, who also takes advantage of opportunities, brought her inside for a quick minute so everyone could enjoy the chance to see our state bird up close. Because being afraid isn't fun and our rule is that if we aren't all having fun, it isn't fun, we let her go quickly.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Other Nine

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Per our tradition, we gathered as a family on May 7th and remembered our other nine family members. We are thankful the Lord made them known to us even for a short time. We wait patiently with joyful anticipation of the day we will be together.

Texts from our neighbors telling us how much they enjoyed seeing the sky lanterns was a welcomed extra blessing.

I was asked if I was concerned about them being a fire hazard. Here's my reply:

"No. We researched them and chose these for that reason. The ones we buy cost more than others, but they are worth it. These are made in such a way to not start fires. They rise rapidly, go very high up into the sky, have a very limited burn time, and burn completely out while in the air before the biodegradable parts fall harmlessly back to earth. We've been using them for years with no issues. We watch every one until it is finished. They go completely out while they are still very high in the air every single time." 

We also live near a river and the wind takes them to open water. If you are still concerned about fires, you can use them after a rain. 

The ones we purchase are completely biodegradable. 

There were manufacturers using wire for the frames which fell into fields causing concerns for cattle farmers. If those are still being made, I'd avoid them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Congratulations, Amanda!

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Amanda worked very hard in the job she found about six months ago. She impressed her bosses and earned herself a new position with better pay and benefits! She did this while taking college classes and maintaining an A average, working 12 hour long night shifts, and working overtime when she could pick it up. She is saving for a house which she hopes she can buy within the next year or two. Way to go, Amanda!!