Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hand Lettered Love

Natalie, who is now 13 years old, has worked diligently to become quite skilled at hand lettering.  She loves to doodle and read.  When you put those things together, you get a love for beautifully written words.  She enjoys lettering meaningful scripture and also great quotes.

With the holiday season upon us, Natalie has decided to turn her hobby into a small business.  She is offering her hand-lettering services for a small fee, and I will also be posting some of her work for sale here.  If you are interested in having her letter something special for you, or for a gift, please let us know.  We will mail the completed project to you in time for holiday gift-giving! 

Here is an example of her work...she does some simple black and white lettering, but also uses quality watercolors to enhance some of her work as well.  I know I am partial, but I think she does an amazing job! 

My Soul Finds Rest In God Alone

Have a quote or scripture you would like to see? Contact us by commenting here, or send and email to:


Sunday, November 6, 2016


With it being election year, we are constantly bombarded with political opinions.  Everyone feels bold and thinks that spewing hatred on social media will somehow win over or convince their 'friends' so that their candidate will win.  I am not on Facebook, but sometimes troll on Nathaniel's account in order to see what's going on out there in the world.  Honestly, I am so thankful that I don't have Facebook.  What a way to be continually frustrated, jealous, and discontent with life!  Seriously!  Between this, and all of the people re-connecting with old flames and then leaving their spouses, I think I am better off without it.  I've always said that I should have been born as Ma Ingalls, and she didn't worry with Facebook, so why should I!  Ha!

Anyway, this post isn't really about Facebook.  It's about my citizenship.  I'm a registered voter.  In fact, I turned 18 my senior year of high school and I remember how excited I was that I could register and cast my very first vote in an official election.  I thought I had arrived!  I continue to try to make solid, educated choices when I cast my ballot in an election, whether it be a local race or a vote for a presidential candidate.  I've long said, though, that sometimes choosing who to vote for is like picking your favorite mosquito out of the swarm.  There aren't any good choices. 

I've been shocked at all of the hatred and mud being slung in the current presidential race.  Sadly, I'm not talking about the hatred that the candidates are throwing at each other.  That is what I have come to expect from any candidate.  But the shock has been to watch and read as Christians, those who wear the name of Christ, say terrible and awful things with great gusto, justification, and confidence. 

Here's the truth for me.  Folks, I don't ever want to ruin my testimony for Christ because I feel the need to speak harshly in order to support or oppose a candidate in an election.  I love America, but the bottom line is, my citizenship lies elsewhere.  I am a child of the King, and my citizenship is in Heaven.  I am only passing through here, and while I love this country and all that it was founded upon many years ago, my freedom is in Christ alone.  I believe with all of my heart that God will fulfill His plan for me no matter who wins the election. I've said to others in recent weeks that it isn't about a donkey (Democrats) or an elephant (Republicans).  For me, it is all about a lamb.  THE Lamb.  Jesus Christ.  Maybe I should have a t-shirt made!  Who wants to hook me up?  Ha!

So there it is.  The National Anthem brings me to tears often, but even more-so do songs like Amazing Grace and It Is Well With My Soul.  Because it is.  My life is filled with amazing grace, and it truly is well with my soul.

So what about you?  Are you more concerned with a donkey, and elephant, or The Lamb?  Choose wisely, your life really does depend on it.

But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
--Philippians 3:20-21 (MSG)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Favorite Book Characters

Recently, the kids enjoyed dressing up as some of their favorite book characters.  They both love to read, and enjoy the adventures they take with the characters in the books.  Natalie has recently been re-reading the Little House on the Prairie series.  She read them years ago, but has especially enjoyed reading them again, and viewing them through a different lens as a teen.  Levi has finally embraced reading, and is enjoying the Harry Potter series, along with other quality books I have helped him to choose. :)

Levi as Harry

Natalie as Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When Life Seems Ever-Changing

---I know.  It has been too long.  And how dare I leave the last post as the one with all of the *ahem* awkward potty humor?  Seriously, I should be punished.  Someone please send me to my room for some quiet time and a nap.  PLEASE?!---

But back to the post.

Isn't it true that things often don't end up the way we expect them to?  How often do you think you know how things are going to go, only to discover that there are changes, kinks in the plan, surprises?  Sometimes it even feels as though nothing goes as you expected it to.  We've all been there at some point in our lives, yes? And if you haven't, well...just give it time.

Such has been life here on the homestead.  We've had plenty of normal, and also, plenty of not-what-we-expected.  It's just life, I suppose, but it does keep me from writing here.  Time runs away from me, and since I am now forty *cough-cough*, it is running faster than I can keep up.  Who am I kidding, I've never been a runner.

We are well into our sixth year of homeschooling, and every year there are changes.  Just when I think we have things down, and know what our rhythm is, there are twists and turns.  Along with the new, and harder curriculum (Natalie is now an 8th grader!) comes other things.  This school year (since September) has been peppered with many doctor appointments and tests for me.  I have some damage to my throat/voice that we have now decided is from a rare type of reflux that I was having no symptoms for until June.  I have had scopes and tests and studies, accompanied by the bills that go with them, ugh.  I have what I hope will be a final appointment next week, and then we will have a definitive plan to move forward and solve the problem.  I just want relief from the near-constant discomfort, and I NEED to be able to sing again.  I've been very limited, and even when I do sing, it is pretty uncomfortable for several days afterwards.  As a vocalist, this must be fixed.  I'm trusting that it will be, and I'm hoping it will be sooner rather than later.  Pray with us for this?

So needless to say, with all of the unexpected's, we are a little behind where I would like to be for school.  BUT, that is the beauty of home education, right?  We can be a bit behind, and then we can catch up or even get ahead if we want to.  We can follow the ebb and flow of life, and accomplish what needs to get done, all the while learning to work together, care for one another, and laugh along the way.  The most important things I can teach my children are life skills, and how to love others.  How to reach out to the broken and the lonely, how to root for the underdog, how to trust Jesus in ALL THINGS, and how to share Jesus with those around us.  To me, this is much more important than math or science or spelling.  Don't get me wrong, we see great value in those things and study them here in our homeschool, but FIRST comes our Christian walk.  Heaven is more important than college or career.  Truth.

Fall is supposedly here on the Homestead.  We have yet to feel it, but the calendar declares that is is fall, and so we trust it is coming...eventually.  We anxiously await the turning leaves, brisk mornings, and wearing our scarves and boots.  Even the seasons change in their own time, and are not forced to follow rules and calendars.  They, too, can be unexpected and ever-changing, just like this life we live.

There are lots of projects going around here, between our farm and my parents' farm across the way.  Working some more on my dad's new barn, planning a new entry for our place because of crazy road construction, keeping the grasses mowed and the bushes trimmed, and always trying to catch the elusive bobcat that likes to feast on our chickens.  (We have seen him, but have yet to be able to catch him.)  Winter is the quiet time on the farm, without gardens to tend and other outdoor things to maintain.  It is a time for reflection and then a time to renew our energies and plans for the next year of growth and work on the farm.  We look forward to time indoors, complete with yummy smelling oils diffusing, cozy blankets, and curling up on the couches with good books.

More change has come our way, as we have begun attending a new church gathering.  Truth be told, as with many changes in life, it has not been an easy one.  Being welcomed is one thing, but being included and accepted is a whole different thing.  Maneuvering that as an adult can be a challenge, but walking teens and tweens through it can be downright painful  The pain is real, the tears they fall. We are growing as a family through the challenges.  We are learning life lessons.  And we are learning that things aren't always what you expect them to be.  For me personally, I am seeing that there are some beliefs that I hold dear to my heart.  I believe that God put them there, and they are precious to me.  But because they are non-salvation issues, and we were not finding them at any of the congregations we attended, I thought I had to let them go a bit.  The truth is, through the struggles at our new church home, I am seeing more and more that God blessed me immensely with those beliefs, and that I should not let go of them.  I know it seems vague, but I just don't want to call out things, or stir up debates here.  I need this to continue to be a place where I can share my heart sometimes, and so I am choosing not to go into specifics.  If you really want to know, email me! ;)  Sometimes things just don't go the way you expect, but we trust God.  Our hope is found not in earthly things, or people, or even congregations.  Our hope is Jesus Christ.  He is the ONE that matters.

Just as life is always changing, so are my sweet kids.  Natalie is a teen, and is growing into a beautiful, smart, funny young lady.  We share lots of laughter, which I treasure in my heart.  Just a few weeks ago, she chose to be baptized.  It was a day of JOY for us!  Knowing she has chosen to follow Christ all the days of her life, well, there is nothing better.

Natalie's Baptism September 22, 2016

These two share a special bond.

The JOY of new life!


Levi is a tween and is maturing before our very eyes.  His dedication to daily scripture reading both morning and evening make my mommy heart smile.  He is smart, and so very witty, just like Nathaniel.  He loves to build and create, and continues to have an amazing imagination.  He is a delight.

These two are my heart!

Nathaniel still loves his work, which is a blessing, and of course I am happy to be juggling all things related to our home.  Spending my days with the kids is fun (most of the time), and I wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world.  It takes great sacrifice, especially financially, for me to be at home with them.  I don't take that for granted, not for one second.  And when I have crazy ideas and schemes, everyone usually follows along.  Ha!

He loves me!

Yes, life is ever-changing.  The weather, the schedule, church homes, attitudes, and even your underwear will all change, some more often than others.  Ha!  Sometimes we feel in control of those changes, and other times, it seems as though everything just swirls around us.  Either way, we can always rest easy.  There is One who never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Nothing surprises Him.  He knows what the day holds for us before we even get out of bed.  And thankfully He holds the day.  He holds us.  Jesus Christ, the solid rock on which we stand.  Trust Him.  Be still...  

The Jones Family 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Lesson Learned

WARNING:  This story does include some bathroom humor, but the story must be told.  It is much too funny to keep to myself!  Be prepared to laugh until your sides hurt, and you'll have tears streaming down your cheeks.  Trust me on this.

Not long ago we were in the health food store in our neighboring town.  We love to do some of our shopping there, and we were out of a few things so we stopped in.  I needed to run to the restroom when we first arrived, so Nathaniel and the kids went their own way, perusing the aisles for something new to try.  I headed to the back of the store to the restroom, and then went to gather the things on my list.  A little while into my shopping, Natalie comes to me in a bit of a panic, hides behind me, and attempts to tell me a story while laughing/crying all at the same time.  Here is the story that unfolded:

Natalie had tired of shopping with Nathaniel so she had gone back to the restroom thinking she would find me.  She was standing in the restroom, and heard some...noises from the next stall.  She, as teenagers tend to do, thought the worst and assumed that it was ME making the ummmm....noises.  Yes, can you believe it?!  So she decides to spray the bathroom liberally with peppermint essential oil air freshener that is on the counter.  After spritzing the room well, waving it all around dramatically, she decided it wasn't enough.  Sweet Natalie decided to say something in an attempt to be funny to her mother, whom she thought was the one in there making those loud, un-graceful bathroom noises that come after you've eaten something that didn't agree with you.  So she says in a most sassy tone, "Good Luck!!" and giggles.  ***crickets***  There was silence (except for the noises).  No quick and witty response from mom.  Then she noticed an eye, perring at her through the crack of the stall door.  And IT WASN'T MOM'S EYE!!  ***Cue terror***  She realized it wasn't me, and apologized before darting from the restroom mortified of her mistake.  That is when she came to me, hiding behind me and the cart, red as a cherry! 

I could not stop laughing.  Truth be told, I still laugh every time I think about it.  It was mortifying for her, but I find it hysterical.  Nothing better to keep a teen humble that a bad bathroom humor experience.  Seriously, still laughing!  HAHAHAHAHA!

**Note:  This story was retold with permission from Natalie.  I would not embarrass her intentionally (okay, maybe I would, but not like this!).  Next time you see her, simply utter the words "Good Luck" and she will know what you mean! HAHA!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Thought I had better hop on and post something here before it had been a whole month since my last post!  I'm working up a fun update, complete with pictures, of course.  I love to read posts that include much more fun!

Until then, I will leave you with this sweet picture.  Check back soon :)

This girl turns 13 in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It Must be the Weather

Here in the great state of Texas, we have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures.  We are smack dab in the middle of February and yesterday it was 80 degrees.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Eighty.  Eight-oh.  It has been beautiful, and the warmth and sunshine have me pining away with plans for our vegetable garden, and also some new rosebushes for the back yard.  I'm wise enough to know that despite the beautiful weather, it is not yet time to begin planting.  But oh how my heart longs to be out there in the dirt, sowing seeds that will grow into delicious and healthy food for my family.  Since I cannot actually do it yet, I just dream about it and work on my famous lists.  Soon enough, spring will come and I can plant our garden!

I guess it is the beautiful warm weather that has encouraged the wildlife to be out and about more-so than usual.  I've already shared about the possum in the henhouse, and also, the deer that wanted to wrestle with Nathaniel in the car.  (We are still in the rental car, but cannot wait to have our beloved Honda back from the shop!)  As crazy as it sounds, the funny wildlife stories don't stop there!  It is only Wednesday, and we have already had two more crazy experiences here on the homestead.

On Monday afternoon, Natalie was out taking photos when she heard lots of squawking from the side of the barn.  She went out the gate and around the corner, and what does she see but a bobcat clutching one of our hens in its jaws!!  She had grabbed a pool noodle and began to chase it away, hoping to save the hen.  When it saw her, it dropped the chicken and went towards the back fence, but as it got to the treeline, it stopped and turned to stare at her for a while before finally heading back into the woods. Did I seriously just type that my 12 year old daughter chased a bobcat with a pool noodle?!  We can laugh about it now, but when I first realized what had happened, I wasn't too happy.  When Nathaniel got home from work, because of course the bobcat had come when he was not home, he took the gun out back and located its path.  Unfortunately, the path was littered with feathers, and we now know that it was the predator who enjoyed devouring our large rooster, Uno, just a few days before.  Despite the serene homestead that we all picture, with chickens pecking the grass, cattle grazing in the field, and mama's shelling peas on the back porch while the children play tag in the yard, the homestead can, in fact, be a dangerous place!

And just this morning, Levi came bounding in the door after feeding the dogs to tell me that there were two raccoon fighting on the banks of our tank. They had come out of the tree line squabbling, and had fought their way over to the tank where they both fell in.  The cool water did not dissipate the fight, and they fought their way out of the water and back over into the trees.  A funny sight for sure!

So I guess it is just the warmer weather that has all of the wildlife out and about, and feeling frisky.  I love these warm days, but I could do without some of the crazy that we have been experiencing, ha!

"The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."  Isaiah 43:20-21


Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Just wanted to hop on and share from my scripture reading today. 

"Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

I'm meditating on these words today. 

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

Romans 12:9-18

Love others today.  Love them well.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's a Jungle Out There...

...though around here, it's not the jungle you imagine.  Last week held a couple of encounters with wildlife that we were not expecting!  It all started on Wednesday evening as the sun was setting and it was time to lock the hens up for the night.  The dogs were barking like crazy, which was an indicator that something was up.  I went to the back door to see what the fuss was about, and the dogs were both barking at the back gate.  I opened the door and called for the dogs to come in for the night.  They weren't interested which is very unusual for them.  They are always more than ready to come inside and snuggle up on the couch or on the floor with one of the kids.  This night, they were too focused on something back in the chicken pen to even listen to me.  I sent Nathaniel and Natalie out to investigate...I am not a fan of varmints.  Natalie thought it was nothing, and pranced right into the chicken house to gather eggs for the night, but it was only a second before her flashlight was bouncing and I knew she was QUICKLY headed back towards the house.  I yelled from the back door, asking what it was and she let me know "It's a possum!!"

I, of course, suggested the gun as a great solution, but my husband, in all his wisdom, knew that would not be the best idea.  Instead, he used a rake to literally scoot the possum out of the hen house!  He expected the animal to "play possum", which would have made the scooting easier.  Instead, the possum decided he would try to escape Nathaniel's raking attempts.  All of this is happening in the dark, with the kids each trying to use their flashlights as spotlights on the action.

Once the possum was out of the hen house, he ran underneath the barn.  Crazy animal!  He had also successfully scared half of the hens off of the roosting poles and out into the chicken yard, which meant Nathaniel and Natalie had to round them up.  You see, chickens cannot see in the dark.  This is why they head to the roost at dusk and stay there until sunrise.  Thankfully I was able to step outside with my flashlight and watch the two of them wrangling and chasing the chickens back into the hen house.  One of them was terrified, and when Natalie grabbed her, she screamed like a girl.  The chicken, not Natalie!  I truly thought it was someone else screaming out there, but it was just the hen screaming for her life.  I guess she thought she had been gotten by the possum!  Haha!

Fast forward a mere twelve hours, and there was another encounter.  No, it's not the possum as one might think.  We wondered if it would return the next morning, but it didn't.  The second encounter was with a deer...and in the car!  Nathaniel left for work in the dark of night as usual, but called me once he arrived about 7:30AM.  It is unusual for him to call me that early, so I knew something was up.  He went on to tell me that as he was leaving for work, not even 100 yards from our driveway, several deer had run across the road in front of him.  He had seen them, and was able to slow down and allow them to cross.  There had been three hop the fence of my parents' farm, cross the road in front of Nathaniel, and then hop the fence onto our property to head on into the woods.  This is not altogether unusual...we live in the country and both properties have tanks which the deer love for drinking.  Anyway, after the three had passed, it seemed there were no more, so Nathaniel went on only to be blasted on the side of the car by a fourth deer!  It decided to ram right into the car hitting the passenger front panel, then banging down the passenger side of the car, leaving hair and hide in the cracks, as well as quite a few nasty dents.  Nathaniel had checked the car, deemed it drive-able, and had gone on in to work. He was just calling to let me know.  Typical man!!! 

Most importantly, Nathaniel was safe.  The only damage was to the car, and now Nathaniel is driving a loaner car while ours is in the shop for a fix.  The deer bent the panel so much that the passenger door wouldn't even open.  Seriously, paying the insurance deductible is not my idea of a good time.  I would much rather enjoy dinner out, or a manicure, or some other fun.  But I am so very very thankful that my man is safe! 

So yes, lots of experiences with difference wildlife this last week.  It really is a jungle out there!

Monday, February 8, 2016


You know how I said this world was a mess?  Well, I meant it.  It still is.  Since I wrote that post just last week, a young boy of 11 has gone to be with Jesus, ending his earthly battle with cancer.  A mother lost a son, sisters lost a brother, brother lost a brother.  My precious friend Alyssa is facing her third major brain surgery today, at the young age of 13.  She is a fighter, and a lover of people.  She is nothing short of amazing.  I have a family member in the hospital with an infection.  He's improving greatly, but will still spend several days battling to rid his body of the infection that had moved in.  He's strong and he is blessed by a loving family. So much pain and struggle.

I find myself uttering lots of little prayers to God lately.  Not longer prayers surrounded by quiet, but small, silent prayers lifted throughout my days.  God hears them just the same.  And the pain and struggle around me send me straight to the Father.  He is the one who comforts and provides hope through all of these situations.  Our family prays together also.  I am hopeful that my children understand that when things seem to be spiraling out of control, and when the mess keeps getting messier, that they will always.always.always turn to Jesus.  I want prayer to be their first response in good or bad.  Every.single.time.

What about you?  Is there suffering and pain in your life or in the lives of those you love?  I hope you know where hope and comfort are found, and that you are talking with the Father, the Great Healer, the Comforter each and every day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


This world is a mess.  There, I said it.  It is a big.fat.mess.  So much so, that there are days that I simply want to curl up in a ball and weep over the ugliness of it all.  The pain, the struggle, the sickness, the heartache.  It's overwhelming to say the least.  The darkness looms all around, and often it seems there are no easy answers, no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel.  A mess, I say.

My heart has been heavy lately over the many troubles swirling around me.  Friends with a child facing a third brain surgery for cancer.  So young and absolutely precious, yet having to face such big questions, big surgeries, big pain.  I cry out to God for her healing, and for peace and strength as they maneuver more hospitals, more surgery, and more medication.  Another young boy, who had completed his treatment and is now facing new medical challenges.  A scary time for the whole family, as well as those who love them.  Our earthly bodies struggle. 

We don't even have to watch the news to know there is trouble all around.  Murders, fires, car accidents, explosions, tornadoes, blizzards, droughts, politics, campaigns, disease outbreaks, and on and on the list could go.  It is a jungle out there.

Add onto that the burdens and challenges of everyday life that many of us face at different woes, job loss, anxiety, parenting challenges, busy-ness, health, dental woes, etc. It can feel absolutely overwhelming.  At least that is how it makes me feel.  Overwhelmed.

But it only takes a minute to find a perspective shift.  One that helps put my heart and mind in a better place.  The peace we can find, even through the yuckiness of this world, is that we are not alone.  There is one who is always with us, always walking beside us, always loving us.  And though the waves come crashing down around us, though the flames seem to be growing wild, God is with us.  So for today, I am clinging to this verse from Isaiah 43:  "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;  I have summoned you by name;  you are mine...I will be with you."  

Lord, we need you now.  We trust You to always be with us, through good and bad.  You never leave us.  You love us...we are yours.  Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Piles, Piles, Everywhere!

I am typically a person who tries to keep my home picked up and organized.  I am not necessarily a clean freak, though I could easily fall into that if I let myself.  I love a tidy environment, and truly enjoy the process of organizing and creating systems.  The reality, though, is that my home is a shared place where life happens.  If I was the only person living here, it would be much easier to keep it just the way I like it.  But I am not.  I am so thankful to have my people here with me, and I try not to make big battles out of keeping the house perfect.  Sometimes, as life is happening at a fast pace, the piles begin to appear.  I'll have several projects going on at once, and without any extra space, it all happens in the common areas.  My living room and dining room become the office/warehouse/workroom.  That has happened this week.  AHHHHHH!  The truth is, the piles make me twitch.  I find it hard to relax when the mess surrounds me.  But I am working on what I can do each day, and trying to remind myself that it's not the most important thing ever to keep a perfectly clean home.  Messes happen, piles appear, and life goes on!  Just take a look at some of the piles around my home:

I cleaned out my closet and these hand-me-downs are going to a friend.

Items for one part of our business.

More business supplies.

Shipping supplies...boxes are everywhere!

Egg cartons from a co-worker, ready to be filled with eggs from our hens.

Only PART of my Dittos for Kiddos consignment inventory, needing to be entered and tagged and sorted and packed away for transport.

Sadly, these aren't even all of the piles!  Ha!  Yes, there is a lot going on here, but it is mostly good stuff.  Working together with my family on these projects is invaluable...we are learning great lessons by working together.  Hopefully, several of these projects will also yield a paycheck!  Ha!

Okay, I'm off to homeschool coop, then back to tackle some more piles!  I have a feeling the piles will get worse before they get better, but that's okay.  Work is good for us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


January 27, 2001 was the day I became a Mrs. to my very favorite Mr.  Nathaniel and I made a commitment to God and to each other that day.  Every single day since then, we have gotten up in the morning and made the decision to keep that commitment.  This morning he texted me that he would choose me all over again, and I told him that he already does.  Every single day he chooses me, and I am so, so thankful!

We've packed lots of things in these last 15 years.  Some good, some not-so-good.  Some sickness and some health.  Some really, really HARD things, and some really, really GREAT things.  We've had two beautiful children, and also had to release two beautiful babies to Heaven.  We are living our dream homeschooling and homesteading on our little farm.  We have laughed 'til our sides hurt, and cried 'til there were no more tears.  We have driven a granny car, a mini-van, and a farm truck.  We've rented apartments, condos, and houses, and we've owned a couple of houses, too.  We've made every single one into a HOME.  We have chased kids, dogs, and chickens.  We been angry, happy, sad, frustrated, elated, and ecstatic.  We have apologized, asked for forgiveness, and forgiven.  We love.  Yes, we love.

Happy 15th Anniversary to my Mr.  I love you!

The BIG Day!  January 27, 2001.

My Mr. Holding Natalie and Levi on the day Levi was born.

Mr. and Mrs. in December 2015.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Hello friends!  Another week of January has come and gone.  It happens so quickly.  I tell my children often that the days are long, but the years are short.  They like to complain that the days are way too long, especially when they are having to work, or when they are bored and I won't let them rot their brains in front of the TV.  Don't think we never watch TV, but I do try to keep it limited.  That box would draw my kids like a magnet all.the.time. if I would let them.  Sigh.

In an effort to continue the habit of posting here frequently, I thought I would hop on for a little update, complete with a few pictures (which are my favorite).

The last week was spent working on homeschool, procuring inventory for our business, chores, and some fun!  We sent well-wishes to my cousin for her birthday, and also celebrated my step-grandma Kathryn's 89th birthday with some yummy Mexican food.  El Fenix is her favorite, so El Fenix it was! I also reached my 14-year-cancer-free day!  WooHoo!  I'm so thankful for the early detection of that ovarian cancer, and for the team of God-selected doctors who cared for me through diagnosis and surgery, as well as afterwards.  I truly could NOT have had a better team on my side, and I have no doubts that it was the hand of God at work in my life.

Here are a few photos from the week!

I love this...except for the grammar mistake!  Ha!

This is me 14 years cancer free!

Nathaniel took Natalie and Levi to see the new Star Wars movie.  They LOVED it!

Precious Grandma Kathryn...looking good at 89 years young!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cleaning Out, Cleaning Up

It's that time of year!  The time when everyone takes an interest in cleaning out their homes, de-cluttering and organizing for the year ahead.  As someone who used to be a professional organizer, I think about these things often throughout the year.  As the Christmas decor is packed away, the more open and clean feel definitely sparks me on to more and more cleaning, though.  So, that's what I have been working on around here.  Some of the projects have been large, and some of them small.  Some of them are complete and marked off the to-do list, while others will be on-going.  Here's a look at some of the cleaning out and cleaning up that has been happening around the homestead.

Cleaning up our eating habits!  Hello green smoothies :)

Cleaning up and organizing work areas...making space for the new business stuff.

Cleaning out old teaching supplies.  I'm not teaching Pre-K anymore, so these are outta here.

Cleaning out closets, mine and the kid's. 

After cleaning up in the garden, my sweet helper looked like this!  Her partner-in-grime was just as bad.  Lots of cleaning up laundry for me!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Encouragement

I recently read a fantastic book by Nancy Ortberg titled Seeing in the Dark:  Finding God's Light in the Most Unexpected Places.  It is a fantastic read, and one that I highly recommend.  If ever you've felt distant from the Lord, you'll find great encouragement in the pages Nancy writes.  As a bonus, it is a fairly short book, which makes it a quick read, though you will find yourself thinking about it long after you've turned the last page.  If you are like me, you will read through, highlighter in hand, and re-visit the book often.  Yes, I liked it.

In the book, Nancy writes this:  "Perhaps this is where the spiritual life is so at odds with the rest of life:  in the pace.  Eternity has already begun. yet we race around as though our time is limited.  God acts slowly over time, in exquisite mystery.  We are restless, anxious, driven, and consumed...often by all the wrong things."

This passage struck me. I often find myself trying desperately to keep up.  I'm often bound by a crazy schedule, running from place to place, tending to a hundred things all of the time. My heart is anxious and consumed...but with what?  Seeing the world flying by, and feeling the pull of all.the.things that the world has to offer me and my family is difficult.  Wanting to fit in, look normal, and be a part of all the great things out there is a struggle we all face.  We are constantly bombarded with messages like "Today is the day!"  and "Act NOW!"  It is a constant unsettled feeling.  It is as though if we don't hurry up and (insert anything here) then we will miss out.  If we don't hurry up, we will be sorry.

I am a worrier. I have extreme anxiety and spend much wasted time worrying about things I cannot control.  It's not my finest quality.  I'm ashamed of it.  I am fully aware that my sin of worry does not add one day to my life.  (The truth is, the worrying just may take away days from my life!)  But her words, "We are restless, anxious, driven, and consumed...often by all the wrong things."  Yes, this.  I worry about all of the wrong things.  I waste energy and time being restless, anxious.  Though my heart craves the calm, the worry wins out.  I am a mess.

The perspective change came when she said, "Eternity has already begin."  Let that sink in.  We are promised forever with Jesus Christ.  AND IT HAS ALREADY STARTED.  I do not have to wait in order to rest in the peace of Jesus.  I can slow the frantic pace of life, and rest in Him.  The debt has been paid.  I don't have to wait until Heaven to walk with Jesus...I walk with Him now.

The God of Heaven, with whom I will spend eternity, is the VERY SAME God of my life today.  He is Lord of these days, hours, minutes, and moments, just as He is Lord of the Heavens.  And I trust Him.  I can slow down, savor Him, and watch Him unfold each day as an exquisite mystery.  In His time, not mine.  No hurry, just trust.

No hurry, just trust.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Snapshots from our days

WOWZERS!  Look at me, posting twice in one week.  I'd say we are off to a good start around these parts.  I don't know about you, but I love pictures, and since my last post was all words and no photos, I thought I would put a few up today.  I'll comment here and there, but I'll try to let the pictures do most of the talking.

Natalie - 12   Levi - 9

Levi's 'Back-to-homeschool' picture.  My vintage boy.

Natalie is self-teaching the guitar, and she sounds awesome!

Pa and Ma from Hen Hollow Homestead

A beautiful sunset over our by Natalie

Nathaniel and Levi working on his shave horse.

After building the shave horse from scratch, Levi enjoys his new tool.

A little chicken coop clean-out.

New Year's Eve fun with my parents and Aunt Kellye!

Digging trenches to cover the garden.  My favorite work-mates!

Covers on the garden, trying to permanently kill off the weeds.

Another gorgeous sunset picture by Natalie.

Apple Puff...think egg custard with apples.  Lower carb and delicious!

Egg shells drying...useful for composting and fertilizing in the garden.

Hope these pictures bring a smile.  They are a teeny-tiny representation of all the fun and hard work we have here on the homestead.  Life isn't perfect, but we are extremely blessed, and so grateful.

**Quiz:  How many photos have someone wearing overalls?  Hint:  It is a different person in each picture!
You might be a homesteader if...overalls!  HAHA!

Friday, January 15, 2016

A New Year

Happy New Year from the homestead!

How can it be that so many months have passed since I last updated this blog?  I suppose the time has passed by quickly since it really seems only days since I last wrote here.  Can I even begin to update you all on the happenings since last April?  I am not sure my memory is that good, but I can certainly try to get us all caught up, in hopes that 2016 will be the year I do a better job of managing this little corner of the internet.

 We finished off April with lots of planting in our garden.  We had over 2000 square feet of fruits and vegetables planted, and were happy with the layout and the many many seeds we had sown together!  We were looking forward to a bountiful harvest, with plenty for now, and some to can and preserve for later.

May brought rain.  Lot, and lots of rain.  I learned long ago, as the daughter of a farmer, that you NEVER complain about rain.  So we didn't.  But boy oh boy did we see lots of rain.  It rained practically the entire month of May.  When it was all said and done, though, our garden was a total loss...well except for the tomato plants.  The hundreds of onions that we had planted were nowhere to be found, and all of the beets, carrots, okra, green beans, zucchini squash, yellow squash, and cucumbers had been washed away as well.  I looked and looked, dug and dug, but could not find a single beet, and I had planted hundreds of them.  It was all gone, with not a trace of vegetation left...only mud puddles.  The rain that was usually such a blessing, had washed away everything.  We were able to salvage the tomato plants, and they ended up producing well, thanks to our bees.  Yes, there are still thousands of bees working and living under the floor of our barn.  We have plans to get them to move out and into a honey cow, but so far we haven't been able to do that.

June, July and August brought the summertime.  The kids were thrilled to be off of school for a bit, and we spent our days doing chores, keeping up with the grass, and trying to stay cool wherever there was some air conditioning.

September came quickly, and it was back to school time.  We broke out the new curriculum for the year, and tried to find a new routine for our days.  As the kids get older, their workload increases.  Finding a new schedule that worked well was not easy, but we figured it out!  Natalie is now in seventh grade, and Levi is in fourth grade.  We have also finally found a COOP in a neighboring town, so once per week we all enjoy some fun classes with fellow home educators!  Natalie has classes like Cupcake Decorating and Drama, while Levi prefers Zoology and a Knights and Castles Class to go along with his Bible With Legos class.   It is always hard to be the new kid, but the kids adjusted and made a few friends, which was nice.  We are blessed that this COOP keeps Christ at the center of everything!

October brought the fall, though not necessarily fall like weather.  We continued to work away on our education and tried to get along as best we could.  I don't know about other families, but around here, things aren't always as peaceful as I would like them to be.  We are learning and growing together, though.  I just keep praying for Natalie and Levi to be best day at a time, right?

In November, we finished up COOP for the semester.  There was an Expo on the last day, where all of the children's work was on display, and Natalie's drama class performed a cute play.  Natalie was Dr. D. Little, and of course, she was awesome!  Levi's work was fun to see, and they were both proud to wrap up the semester.  No more being the new kids, as next semester, they will be veterans. 

We enjoyed a family Thanksgiving and were able to host this year.  It is always fun to get together with family and talk and laugh together.  We truly have so very much to be thankful for.  We also enjoyed the annual Thanksmas celebration with Nathaniel's family...the one day of the year that everyone is together.

December finally brought some cooler temperatures, though it never really felt like winter.  Natalie had her piano recital, and played WONDERFULLY!  She really is amazing and is picking up the instrument so quickly.  She is also self-teaching the guitar, and rocks that instrument as well.  I think she has quite a bit of musical talent, which makes this singer-mama very very happy!  We sang Christmas carols, sat under the lights of the tree, drank hot cocoa, and watched plenty of Christmas movies on Netflix.  We love the Christmas Season, and the opportunity to slow down and focus a bit more on the birth of Jesus, when the rest of the world is actually thinking about the same things.  We once again enjoyed time with family, and the days off from school.  It was super warm on Christmas Day, but soon began to turn cool.  Hello winter!

Here we are, halfway through January 2016!  Nathaniel is still enjoying his job at Baylor.  The kids and I have eased back into homeschool, and Nathaniel and I are beginning a new sideline business to try to bring in a little more income to help us out around here.  We are praying God will bless our efforts and our new little business.  We are working hard to get things started and are hoping it will be a successful venture for us  .I am enjoying the chance to get organized and I am trying to do a better job of meal planning each week.  New file folders, pens, and my label maker mean this girl is one happy lady!  Crazy, I know, but I love it!

I'm hoping I will do a better job of updating here this year.  It's gonna be a big year around here including Natalie's 13th birthday, Levi leaving single digits as he turns 10, Nathaniel and I both hit the big 4-0, I celebrate 14 years cancer-free, and we celebrate 15 years of marriage.  Like I said, big year for us, and that doesn't even include all of the blessings we don't even know about yet.  We trust Jesus, and we know that there are blessings for us in the year ahead.  We are already thankful for the ways God will guide and provide for our little family.  He is a good, good Father.

Blessings on you and yours in 2016!