18th for Grace

Beautiful Grace turned 18 on November 4th.  Her dear Caleb gave her a lovely piece of jewelry as a gift but she was the most thankful for the gift of time the two of them spent together.  They had the whole day together and then met us at Steve & Joanna’s house for dinner and cake.


“I look like I belong,” she said when she saw this photo.

Joanna’s family has welcomed her into the circle.


They were looking forward to meeting Caleb.  Now he’s in the circle, too.


Dear Birthday Girl;

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

I Corinthians 1:7-9


first day of school 2017

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8


Blessings to the children, first of all, on another new school year.  You have each grown so much over the summer, but still young with lots to learn.  What bright and willing minds you have, eager for education and eager to have fun with your teachers and friends.

Blessings to the teachers, who work hard to make the school year as successful as they can, with patient and mature minds, eager to “go forth and conquer” all the challenges that come about each day.  Blessings to you as you prepare and teach. Your life’s work is importance and we thank you.  You are touching countless young lives.

Blessings to the families who let go and watch their children go forth and experience life, who do everything they can to help.  Blessings to the mothers and fathers who nurture and provide a home for children to come back to at the end of the school day.  May the afternoons be full of welcome and love.  And cookies.


I like to imagine all the good things happening that no one will ever know.

The mom, busily packing school lunches, slipping in an extra package of snacks, “so you have something to share with a friend.”

A music teacher, choosing a special song with a certain student in mind.  “He’ll love this one.”

The office ladies picking up donuts to share with any parent who comes in during the day.  Adding fresh flowers from the garden to a vase to brighten up the space.

Cheerful volunteers who do what they can to help.

Children picking out their favorite outfits and wondering if their best friend will be in their class this year.  Such smiles when they reunite with their classmates.

Janitors keeping things extra clean, who get to know the children by name.

Teachers who purchase extra supplies just in case a student isn’t prepared.  Showing a caring heart.

School nurses who welcome the wounded and show patience to pretenders.

Dads smiling over the texts messages; photos of his dear ones.

Mothers left alone in a quiet house, quietly cleaning and working, preparing for when everyone gets back home again.  Or off to work, glad to have something to do, with thoughts of her babies always there.

And so on.

Secret prayers, deep thought, problem solving, strings pulled behind the scenes, all sorts of people taking an interest and making good things happen for their communities.


. . . .encourage one another and build one another up . . . . .

“We can only see what we have grown an eye to see.” Rachel Remen


This little boy wants to be just like his older brother, so he found Ethan’s old backpack and claimed it for this school year.


Sarah only likes ponytails, so I took a quick picture just before twisting around the hair ties.


Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.



……encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all……


Time again for an early morning “wave” from the next door neighbors as they get their kids off to school, too.  We’re in this together.


……..anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad……


Have a wonderful day!

You are loved.





On my way to let out my flock of hens, I saw a Solitary Sandpiper on the edge of the pond.  This is the first time in 10 years I’ve seen one right here on our property, and according to my bird app, this bird is “rare” for our area.  It bobs up and down when it walks and peeps now and then.  It’s so cute!

I was highly annoyed when my cat ran after it, scaring it away before I was ready to say goodbye.


“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21


There was a scar on yonder mountainside,
Gashed out where the cruel storm had trod;
A barren, desolate chasm, reaching wide
Across the soft green sod.

But years crept by beneath the purple pines,
And veiled the scar with grass and moss once more,
And left it fairer now with flowers and vines
Than it had been before.

There was a wound once in a gentle heart,
From which life’s sweetness seemed to ebb and die;
And love’s confiding changed to bitter smart,
While slow, sad years went by.

Yet as they passed, unseen an angel stole
And laid a balm of healing on the pain,
Till love grew purer in the heart made whole,
And peace came back again.

from Streams, by LB Cowman


I let the chickens out, and as we have two rabbits in the coop, I went down to the edge of the pond to gather fresh clover for them.  I dropped my handful twice in order to take photos.  This spider web was a tiny perfect work of art.  The spider was about the size of a grain of rice.  I was careful not to pull up the clover which surrounded it’s beautiful web.


My cat the bird chaser now started bothering the fish.  It was pretty neat, actually, to see Mr. Fish come close to Mr. Cat….and then get swatted for his efforts to be friendly.  The fish followed him all along the edge of the pond.



I was happy to find a Solitary Sandpiper feather covered in dew.  I brought it home in my pocket, along with two eggs from the chicken coop.


He froze for a photo and then jumped quietly off the rock, and then under it.  I imagined a cozy home for frogs, just right, with lots of dampness.



gossamer upon flowers and grass; more spider art

The bunnies received their salad with joy and I headed back for the house.

It’s been cool this morning.  I did some weeding, and texting with my Mama, family laundry was hung out to dry, I picked smooth tomatoes from the garden, and a pumpkin.  Inside the house, there is a gray cat curled up in a ball on a red velvet cushion next to me.

I’m thinking about my son David, tomorrow is his birthday.  He requested a cheesecake so when the Schwan’s truck came earlier I bought one from them.  Now I just need to make sure we have 14 candles in the house.

Happy Monday!

You are loved.

“God is there to meet you in the center of each trial.  And He will whisper to you His secrets, which will bring you out with a radiant face and such an invincible faith that all the demons of hell will never be able to shake it.” E.A.Kilbourne


a little bit of this a little bit of that


I made my way to the kitchen in order to make that first cup of coffee.  Sarah was on the couch in the living room and the boys were still asleep.

Our nineteen year old son Jacob had left in the wee hours of the morning to go on a road trip and as I poured Sarah’s drink of milk I was touched to see that he had left me a note.  It was on the other side of the counter so I had to reach across to pull it toward me, turning it right-side-up in order to read it.

What was it going to say?  Perhaps; “I’ll miss you, dearest mother”?, or, “Don’t worry, I will drive safely, God is with me.”? how about, “Give my siblings a hug and kiss for me when they wake up, I’ll miss them!” ?  or  “I did the laundry before I left” ?

I was so surprised when I read it that I just had to laugh!

What sort of 19 year old leaves notes of remorse about finishing up FOOD?

And that “I love you” tacked on the end.  Even his name made me smile!  “Jake” not Jacob, but “Jake”.  My little Jake, not so little…..but still as sweet as ever.

Does he not know, has he not heard?  Mothers want the children to eat ALL the ham salad! Mothers eat lots of ham salad only if they have a sneaking suspicion that the children don’t like it and it will go to waste!

His mother would gladly give him ALLLLLLLL the ham salad!!!!!!!!

The note should have said, “I’m sorry I left the empty ham salad container and little bits of it on the counter for YOU to clean up instead of throwing it away myself!”  Am I right?  No, maybe not.  I saw more of his priceless self and heart in his own quickly written, 3 o’clock in the morning, sincere, paper-towel written love letter than anything else he could have written.

(((my heart))) just never knows what God will give it each day…that little unexpected boost to brighten the moments.  So many each day that I lose track.  My heart gives grateful praise.  A ham salad note.  I can’t even……what next?  I can’t wait to see.


A song for Friday:


truths to make your heart sing:

“So, we’re not giving up.  How could we!  Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.  These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.  There’s far more here than meets the eye.  The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.  But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”  2 Corinthians 4:16, The Message translation


Strength for today is mine all the way,
And all I need for tomorrow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, 
All I have to do, is follow.
~Sidney E. Cox, 1950, (from the baptist hymnal)

**Have a very blessed Friday, you are loved!**

on the eve of Christmas day


Ah, sweet Christmas.

I will allow nothing to discourage me about the reality of saving grace in Jesus Christ.  There is no condemnation for those who love Him.   Condemnation happens when we or someone we  hold in high esteem convince us that we are unworthy to be called a child of God because “we don’t dress right”  “we don’t go to church often enough” “we drink a glass of wine now and then” “we listen to the wrong kinds of music”…..things that are NONE OF ANYONE’S BUSINESS…you see, as a lover of Christ I AM FREE.  I am free to be the unique individual He made me to be.  Salvation changes a hard, stone cold heart into a tender heart.  Salvation means that Christ has made my soul properly clean before God, because of Him, I have a secure hope that when the time comes for Heaven, He will stand with me and advocate for my standing as a beloved daughter, a person chosen and precious before God.  I am welcomed into everlasting life.  Therefore I have new life, I have hope as I live my days here as a wife and mother, as a friend and a sister.  By the amazing grace of God.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  Romans 8

I AM NOT FREE TO be habitually judgmental, jealous, bitter, mean, unkind, fake, cold, abusive, unforgiving, prideful, angry or selfish.  People who call themselves christians and still continue year after year in these behaviors are scary. I will run away from them……..I’ve had experience with “christians” who are like this and I myself was somewhat legalistic years ago for a time because of the leaders in a former church’s example and teachings…..(I have a story—I understand if you have one, too) but God is ever faithful and grew me away from those behaviors which caused so many problems in my life.  I still struggle at times because of that experience.  So flee from any legalist people in your life.  Don’t allow yourself to be tainted by their judgmental ways.  Keep yourself childlike, trusting, open, loving, and gracious.  Reading the Bible (God’s love letter to you) is the medicine our soul needs so that our hearts stay open and loving.  “His law is love, and his gospel is peace.”

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.  Romans 13:12

I will still make mistakes.  AND IT’S OKAY BECAUSE I AM HUMAN, a beautiful humanly human.  We all are.  I love myself the way God made me, and the way he made my friends just the way they are, I don’t focus on their “faults”, I understand them and appreciate them.  My friends love me the way I am.  Are we perfect?  No.  But we are perfect for each other.  (Good Will Hunting)


This is what I’m thinking about this Christmas season. …. Jesus Christ came from Heaven to earth to save sinners.  AND HE DID IT, HE DOES IT.  He ushered in an age of Amazing Grace.  He swept away the doctrines of the Pharisee which held to an impossible standard of perfection and looked down on everyone else, and gathered up for his own the outcasts, the lowly, the lost causes, and turned them into children of God.  He loves us so much.  He always has, he always will.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  James 1:17



We made the Christmas cookies.  Every year there are two kinds that we simply must have:  Russian teacakes and gingerbread men.  My children helped me and they were very cute.  (both the cookies and the kids)


Our neighbors came for a quick visit the morning of Christmas Eve and gave David a present (and the rest of us, too).  One of the things I am most thankful for this last year is getting to know them better.  We can visit and share laughs…and later on today we are going to see the new Star Wars movie together.


In the afternoon my sister and her family came.  We had planned on a brunch but then found out that Jason had to work half day and Rich had to coach a wrestling practice.  But we still had breakfast food….which we ate at lunch time.


We had pancakes, cinnamon rolls, hash brown casserole, cherry topping, whipped cream and maple syrup for the pancakes, mimosas, bacon, and sausage.


wonderfully active, silly boys


Michael came for brunch before he had to leave for work.  This young man is like family to us, he is Jacob’s best friend and we all love him.


Naomi is my little niece and one of Sarah’s favorite friends.  These two girls spent the day together playing.


They played with Naomi’s bitty baby, Grace’s old bitty baby, and Sarah’s bitty baby.  🙂

I thought it was so great that Naomi wore her Christmas dress to my house.  She looked like a princess all day long.


Grace’s boyfriend Caleb was able to spend time with us as well.


In large family gatherings you just never know what will happen.  David decided it was a good time to roller blade throughout the house.


We watched a movie (ELF).


And exchanged gifts…..so fun.  I love my family…my one and only sister, her husband who is like a brother to me and Rich, their children.  We are so thankful for each other.



Caleb videoed Grace opening one of her presents so his mom could watch it later on.



Determination and belief that there is room for him.





We played Pictionary.  Amanda and I were a team, Jason and Rich were another team.  At first they were winning……(we had to use make-shift game pieces)



But then we pulled ahead and won.


The losers didn’t want to be seen.  🙂


My beautiful niece Abigail with her cousin Ethan.


Then Jacob’s girlfriend Emily showed up bearing gifts.



She had a gift for everyone, even the chickens.


Jacob gave her a Willowtree figurine which she loved so much that she….


gave him a smooch.

aren’t they so cute???????

Jacob works at the shoe department in Dick’s sporting goods so she also got two pairs of sneakers.


And that was that.  Everyone went home, we put the children to bed, and it was just Rich and I doing what we always do on Christmas Eve.  Finish wrapping presents and arrange them all under the tree.  I was getting sick with a terrible head cold that has lasted for days but we got the job done with a feeling of anticipation for the morning to come.




in the meantime….

Isn’t the news depressing?  It makes me long for Jesus and Home.  I know the end of my story and it’s worth living in this wretched world for…..as a person who determines to look for beauty, it hurts to write “wretched” but what other word is there when you hear of all the terrible things happening in our country and around the world?

In the meantime, I’m determined to live my own ordinary, quiet, blessed life to the FULLEST.  I’m going to say yes as much as possible, go to bed early and SLEEP the glorious sleep, read the books, dress the children, cook the food, laugh the laughs, light the candles, take pictures of the sunrise, help as many people as I can, smile the smiles, say NO to anything or anyone that drains the energy from me that I need for my family, hug the hugs, pet the cats, make the sacrifices……you get the idea.  All the things that I like, that I need to do and want to do.  I’m so thankful that I have the power and determination to live the life I want to live, regardless of outside circumstances.  We all have that freedom to some extent.

I truly think it pleases and glorifies God when we know who we are and live the way He made us to live, according to each unique person’s story and personality.  Praising, dancing, and yes, even mourning and crying in those times, too.  Feeling all the emotions He made us to feel.  Do you like to cook?  Then COOK with abandon.  Do you like nature?  Then get outside!  Do you like people?  Then get out there BE WITH THEM.  Do you like solitude?  Then stay home and LET THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE COME TO YOU.  Everyone is different and everyone has value.  There is no shame.

My mom said this weekend, “I LOVE MY LIFE.”  She read a story about a woman in her 90’s who still walks to work every day.  She wants to be like that woman.  Relishing her life and her work and never wanting it to end……..to keep going.


Ethan, Mitch, and Jacob went to the homecoming football game, and so did Caleb, who wanted to go so very much that the boys took him along.


The dog was at their feet in the photo….Parker the dog loves his boys.  In his eyes, they can do no wrong and totally deserve 115% loyalty and love.



Grace was invited to the homecoming dance….and after I asked the brothers if he was a nice boy I said….”If you want to go, then I want you to go.  Experience High School…all of it…and enjoy it!”  And she was happy to say “yes” and go dress shopping.

We had a hallelujah fit in the mall when we got the text telling us the parade was cancelled that morning…..because we needed more time.  This girl hardly has any free time and we shopped for her dress the morning of the dance!!!!  It had to be purple, too.  Thankfully, we had success at Macy’s.  The dress fit her like it was made for her.  Which is was.  🙂


We went from shopping to lunch with Grandma, Grandpa, and Abbie.




Then we walked to the bookstore.


My dad with Caleb.  And a lego mini figure that I bought for my boy.



My mom who loves life even though it’s very hard at times!


I fixed her hair, painted her nails, bought her dress, shoes, and necklace, let her borrow my earrings and dress coat (not pictured) and I was happy to do it all for my girl.  It was exhausting, in a good way.  That feeling when a plan comes together.


Aren’t they sharp?  They had made a plan to dress alike, and they had success!  Grace told me the next morning that she had a lot more fun than she thought she would.  (She was a little nervous).


I wish I had a better photo of Jacob and Emily but I was so focused on Grace and these two LEFT the house in Jacob’s car before I could even think of getting a picture of them.  Rich and I drove Grace and her date to the school and happened to see Jacob and Emily walking on the sidewalk.  I took the picture out the truck window.  It was freezing cold (in the 40s) so poor Emily was suffering.  Jacob didn’t ask to be taken shopping….he simply raided his Dad’s closet.

Oh and in case you’re wondering…Ethan and his girlfriend didn’t go to the dance.  They stayed at her house with her family and watched four Harry Potter movies.


The purpose of this photo is to show you my morning glories.  They have vigorously produced more vine and leaf than flower.  I’m enjoying each remaining day with them because when we have frost they will die.  I loved watching them grow all summer long, waiting and waiting for the flowers to appear.



Yesterday evening we cleaned the chicken coop and put fresh new wood shavings down.



We found our first white egg ever!!


Rich took a couple pictures with me in them.  And that’s Caleb helping, too.





Wooly Aphids are AMAZING gray bugs that have white wispy stuff (called honeydew) coming out of them.  Blogged about last year.


I was standing on the side of the road on Sunday when I took this picture. ^^  This morning I heard the dog barking and looked outside to see a car parked and running in the same spot.  I put on my boots to run down and see if they were okay.  And GUESS WHAT?  This is so exiting.  It was a lady trying to take pictures (with a Cannon SLR) of an Osprey sitting in our dead tree!!!!!  (the dead tree pictured above).  She and I visited on the side of the road, talking of nature and photography, and became friends this morning at 8am!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s a God-moment for sure!



This morning’s sunrise.  Sarah said, “Mom, come look at the sky!”

Happy is the Mom whose children show her sunrises.



Please please pray that Sarah’s UTI has cleared up.  I have to take her tomorrow at 8:45 for a re-check.  She’s certainly acting better, and had a great time eating chocolate covered strawberries yesterday after church.

Happy Monday, friends!

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him.  Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  Colossians 2:6, 7  (I read this verse this morning and absolutely LOVED it. Amen!)

greeny green dress


When you have Jesus in your life, in your heart, you cannot help being beautiful.

Never underestimate or take for granted the Holy Spirit….what is the Holy Spirit doing inside of us and around us, for surely the Spirit of God is always at work?  Giving life, producing sweet fruit, guiding, helping us to pray, helping us be our real selves.  Without saying a word the people around us can sense His love.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  St. Francis of Assisi

The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.  Job 33:4

So do not struggle in your soul, do not strive, do not burden yourself in change….rest your spirit in Christ, but yes, work your body and mind in living the life He gave you to live, your own personal little spot in the world is a light for God just because you are you, wrapped up in the righteousness of Jesus.

In this way, God gets the glory for everything.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16





It’s not the greeny green dress that Grace wears that makes her beautiful.

It’s not what you wear that makes you beautiful.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness……..  Galatians 5:22  (in salvation by the mighty power of God, these fruits WILL appear, you can’t stop them, praise God!)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38  (a believer WILL refresh others!  You can’t help yourself!  And it will happen when you are not even aware of it.  You will probably never know what a huge BLESSING you are!!)

And now for a word from the boys.


I love you.