Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring is here!

I know it has been a bit since my last update, but it seems like I blink and a month or more has gone by.  Everyone always told me that the older I got, the faster time would go by.  I didn't believe it then, but now I know it to be truth.  My kids were just babies, and I was young, too.  Now, they are half-grown, I am old, and time is running away from me.

Let's start with an update on Frank.  He is thriving!  We still have him on a bottle, but only during the day.  He sleeps through the night, and has moved outside to the barn, which means I am no longer buying diapers FOR A GOAT!  Ha!  As I've mentioned, goats are herd animals and need companionship.  We looked and looked, and finally found a beautiful female to be Frank's special friend.  She is a bit older (about 6 weeks) but neither of them seem to mind.  They love each other already, and spend their days running, playing, butting heads, and snuggling up for naps in the sunshine.  They really are super sweet to watch.  What is her name, you ask?  Well from the beginning, Natalie wanted to name them after my grandparents, whose farm we now call our home.  So, Frank now has his Mable.  It's a beautiful thing, really.  And the next female we get will be called Beans.  We would love for Frank and Beans to have twins, whom we will lovingly call Beanie and Weenie.  Life with goats is so much fun!

Frank loves me!

Sweet Mable

Mable is a tri-color with blue eyes.

Frank getting a bottle, while Mable treats Natalie like a playground!

Teenagers...selfies with goats!

As for the homestead garden, it is coming right along.  Slowly but surely everything will be planted and growing.  The Farmer's Almanac has indicated we may get a late freeze this year, so I have been impatiently holding off on the planting so my work isn't ruined.  I hope the waiting wasn't a bad idea, but nonetheless, I am waiting just a bit longer.  In the mean time, we have uncovered the soil that we had tarped to kill the weeds, and put out some organic fertilizer - meaning manure!  My dad gave everything a good till with the tractor tiller, which saves tons of time and does a beautiful job - remember the garden is over 1500 square feet!  We have been building our mulch supply, and just yesterday Levi and I spent a lot of time spreading it over the entire garden.  We are planning to follow the Back to Eden gardening methods this year, and need 6-8 inches of mulch covering the whole thing.  My muscles are sore today, but it was a great workout and very fulfilling.  I love garden work, and the hope of a great harvest!  In the next week or so I plan to get seeds in the ground, but for the next 4-6 days, we are expecting lots of rain.  I'm going to let the mulch and soil soak up as much as possible in preparation for planting day.  The more rain God sends, the less water I have to pay for.

Mulch for days

Spreading organic material - manure! 

Natalie caught a baby snake while we were working.  She's fearless!

The kids are doing well.  Levi has really been enjoying the moderate temperatures, and has been outside quite a bit.  He is not a fan of hot weather, and knows that it is on the way, so he has been taking full advantage of the tolerable weather.  He reads like a crazy man...several hefty chapter books each week.  It is such joy to see BOTH of my children loving books as much as they do.  I know that even when I fail them as a mom and a teacher, they will be able to learn anything they are interested in because they love to read! As for Natalie, she has been having trouble with her wrists for quite a while, so I made an appointment for her with a specialist.  We saw him this week, and he suspects carpal tunnel in both wrists, but sent her for some testing.  He also gave her an injection in her left wrist, which is the one that is worse.  Between the stress of the doctor visit, the injection, and then the testing which included 45 minutes of electric shocks in both wrists and arms, she has been in quite a bot of pain this week.  We follow-up next week, and we are praying for a diagnosis and easy treatment.  The pain has hindered her ability to play her piano as much as she wants to, and also impacts her art and hand-lettering.  We need answers and for her to no longer be in so much pain.  Please join us in praying for this!

These two have my heart.

Marks for guides during the electric shock testing.

Me and my girl waiting at the doctor's office.  Still smiling...she's one tough girl!

The chickens on the homestead are doing as well as can be expected with a bobcat on the prowl.  We've had to resort to keeping the gun close at hand, so I can accompany Natalie outside each morning when she goes to let out the chickens.  One morning she found the bobcat waiting patiently under a nearby tree, just waiting for her to come out there to open up the egg mobile.  Scary!  So I walk her out in the mornings, armed with my trusty weapon (I am not a violent person, and don't think guns are toys, but this predator is threatening my family!)  The other day I walked out and saw it, and was able to take a shot.  It was too far for a kill shot, but I was close.  The bobcat lept 5 feet straight up in the air before pouncing off into the woods.  Just this morning, it was back - brave or stupid, you decide!  I grabbed the gun, but it was not in a good spot for me to shoot, and it ran off.  I waited quietly, and within 3 minutes it was back.  I wasn't able to get a good shot, but we baited the trap and are hoping for a win later today.  As much as I love animals, this one is prowling around for my animals, and also threatening my kids, which means it has got to go!

Just call me Ma Ingalls.

I spent a few days in Houston for a recording project.  We completed a full-length, 25-song album in four days.  It was exciting and exhausting all rolled into one.  It is always such a joy to spend time with friends, singing and worshiping together.  This album was Christmas music, and should be ready for release in early fall.  I can't wait!  About the same time, I will be traveling to record yet another disc of beautiful worship music.  These projects feed my soul.

Farmer Jones is still enjoying his work in Waco, while also tackling projects on the farm.  There are always projects to complete, and sometimes I think he wishes my lists weren't so long so he could tackle some lists of his own.  Ha!  There are always grasses to mow, fences to mend, barns to patch, washing machine drains to fix, animals to feed, pens to clean, trees to trim, gardens to weed, and the list could go on and on.  Around here, it takes the whole family to accomplish our homestead living goals a little at a time.  We strive to teach the kids that we must all work as a team!  Someday, with lots of hard work and determination, we hope to find ourselves living more and more sustain-ably.  This homestead dream is slowly becoming a reality!

I'll update more from the homestead as time allows.  If you don't hear from me for a bit, you can rest assured that I am up to my elbows in planting season, trying to get seeds in the ground so we can enjoy healthy, organic fruits and veggies from the garden this summer.  And just maybe, if all goes well, we will have some extra to sell and share!

Be blessed, dear readers!  Spring is here!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Homestead Garden Plans

This winter hasn't felt much like a winter so far.  We have had a few cold days, but over-all, we have had lots of wonderful sunshine and plenty of moderate temps.  Of course, because of the beautiful weather, I am already thinking and planning for the garden this year.  As you may remember, last year we did not have a garden, but instead did some tarping in order to kill off some weed problems.  The Johnson Grass was taking over and we had no other choice!  Since it has been two years since I have been able to plot and plan for a beautiful garden, I am especially excited this year!

I found a wonderful heirloom seed company based out of Oklahoma that is a small, family-run business.  I love to support family business whenever I can, and pray others will do the same.  We dream of turning our little farm into a small business someday, and we will depend on the support of you all to make it work!  Anyway, I am making my lists of what seeds I plan to purchase this year, and I am looking forward to placing my order soon so I can get some seeds started!

Here are some of the things on my list:


Burgundy Beans
Harvester Green Beans
Romaine Lettuce
Honey Rock Canteloupe
Clemson Spineless Okra
Poblano Peppers
Jalapeno Peppers
Serrano Peppers
Sweet Banana Peppers
Big Max Pumpkins
Dark Green Zucchini Squash
Summer Squash
Black Cherry Tomatoes
Red Cherry Tomatoes
Moneymaker Tomatoes
Roma Tomatoes

Flower Seed: 

Henry Wilde Sunflower
Red Sun Sunflower
Crimson Queen Sunflower
Tiger Eye Marigolds
Dwarf Marietta Marigolds


Large Leaf Basil
Lemon Balm

Whew, that is a long list.  But truly, I cannot wait!  It is going to be lots of work whipping the garden into shape this year, but I have big dreams, big plans, and willing helpers (well, they will be willing if they want to eat ;). 

What about you?  Any garden plans for this spring/summer?  Will you grow only enough to eat right away, or, like me, will you try to grow enough to store up for the coming fall and winter?  Are there veggies that I am missing on my seed list?  Speak up!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Love is Patient

Lately I have been thinking about 1 Corinthians 13.  Maybe it's the political drama...I'm not seeing very much love there.  Maybe it's the struggles, pain, and grief so many around me are experiencing, and my desire to love them well.  Maybe it's because I want the 'love' passages woven into the fabric of my family so much so that we cannot help but to ooze it to all around us.  Maybe it is a combination of all of those things, as well as prompting from the Holy Spirit that has me pondering this section of scripture, carrying it in my heart.  So here is the section I am talking about...we've probably all heard it a thousand times.

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
 all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can 
move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give 
all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, 
it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor
 others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
 where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge,
 it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child,
 I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. 
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It's known to most of us as the love passage.  There is so much goodness in this short little chapter; so much wisdom.  I want to unpack it a little bit today, and maybe we can walk away with a re-newed passion for loving others.
First, the chapter begins by basically saying we can check-off all the little boxes, and appear to have it all together.  We can have all of the knowledge, and we can tithe, and we can have gifts of tongues and prophecy, BUT if we lack love, it's worth nothing.  I'm a list girl, and checking off boxes makes me feel successful.  It's my jam.  But here, it's pretty clear that it is about more.  Our testimony and witness for Christ is nothing if we do not first love.  It's all about relationship.
Then we are given a way to define love.  It is patient, kind, not envious, etc.  So we know that it isn't just a feeling, it is actions.  Years ago, I had this section of 1 Corinthians 13 made into a sign for my home.  It has always hung in a common room, where we would all see it daily.  We've talked to our kids about this verse, and basically said every single decision or action in your life can be measured by these verses.  We use it as a training tool...a discipleship tool.  So, someone hurts our feelings and we want to yell at them.  Check the is not easily angered.  So no, pick another response.  Struggling to forgive?  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  You get the idea.  Love is the greatest command, and we can use this verse to help us live it out! 
Interesting thought, though.  The very first attribute of love that is listed is patience.  Ugh, that's not a word we like to think about, and we certainly don't like to practice it.  In this time of technology and instant gratification, patience is a dying practice.  But I can't help but wonder if God has it listed first for a reason.  He has SO MUCH patience with me.  I am a hot mess most days, and I make lots of mistakes.  I neglect my relationship with Christ, I say things I shouldn't, I treat people in ways that are not loving, I am lazy, I fail.  But He is filled with patience with me.  He never loses His temper with me, He doesn't turn His back.  He just continues to give me second chances over and over again.  He realizes that all of my failures are not who I am, but are just bad decisions I am making.  He sees ME as His beloved, and not as the sum of my behavior.  His patience is life-giving.  But me?  I don't always have patience.  I am impatient with God when my prayers are not answered the way I want them to be, or in MY time.  Ugh, typing that admission is just yucky.   I am not always willing to be patient with my family, friends, traffic, the waiter at the restaurant, the teller at the bank.  I am impatient, and my actions show it.  And all too often, I define people by their behavior, not loving them as children of God, but rather reducing them to all of their failures.  But patience is love, and I must grow in love as I try to live my life for Christ.  I have no way of knowing if He ordered the attributes of love the way He did for a specific reason, but I do know that since patience made the list, it is very important! And like I tell my kids often, "Love is not waiting, but it is HOW YOU ACT while you are waiting."  Lord, forgive my impatience with you and your children. 

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this chapter comes at the end:

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 One day soon, I will see Jesus face to face.  I am made in His image, and I will one day see exactly what that looks like.  Me and Jesus, face to face.  And I don't think this means physically, but rather my heart and soul.  'Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  I will know Him fully.  What a glorious day that will be.  Amen.

Obviously I am no expert.  I don't have any fancy biblical knowledge.  But I do love Jesus with my whole heart, and I love to read and study to try to see what He has for me in His Word.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1 Corinthians, so leave me some comments.  Let's share here, and learn to love more fully, deeply, and completely. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Few Bits Of News

First things first!  It's a BOY!  This last week, we adopted a 2-day old baby goat who had been rejected my it's mother.  We are now deep in the work of caring for a newborn goat, including round-the-clock bottles, and all of the peeing and pooping that accompanies a small animal.  Frank, the new kid, is thriving, and loves to eat, sleep, poop, and play.  We are having a good time caring for him and bonding with him, even through all of the hard work.


Tired boy


Funny story, when we adopted the baby goat, the owner told us it was a girl.  We brought it home, named her Greta, and tried to find a new routine.  The next morning, we discovered Greta was in fact not a girl.  She was a he.  So we started again, named him Frank, and never looked back.  He's adorable!

Late night feedings provide some time to think while everything around you is still and quiet.  One night, as I was rocking Frank after his bottle (yes, we rock him after his bottle to help him get back to sleep...spoiled much?), I sat there thinking about rejection.  This sweet innocent baby goat was rejected by it's mother.  Heartbreaking.  But he is just a goat.  A loved and beautiful goat, but still, a goat.  The same thing happens to people.  To beautiful (and adults) are rejected by their parents.  Heartbreaking.  And all I could do was pray.  I rocked and I prayed for all of the children in this world who don't feel love from their mamas and dads.  For those who are rejected by the very ones who are to love them no matter what.  I prayed that God would comfort them, and put people in their lives who would show them and tell them constantly how precious and special and loved and wanted they are.  I prayed that deep in their hearts they would know love and acceptance.  Just so much thinking and churning in my heart, all because of a sweet baby goat, Frank.

In other news, this week held two big days for me.  January 23, 2017, I celebrated 15 years cancer free!  So many emotions swirling.  I am filled to the brim with gratitude for the healing I received, and for the joys life has brought me as I have been able to LIVE!  And also, thinking about so many others who are deep in their own battles with cancer.  Those who are losing their hair, feeling sick from side effects of treatment, and who are having to completely change what their life looks like in order to fight the battle.  Then there are those who have lost loved ones to the awful disease.  This very week, some very precious and dear friends have had to say goodbye to their 15-year-old daughter, taken by brain cancer.  Alyssa won, and she is now in Heaven with Jesus, smiling and pain-free.  But her family is deep in grief, planning a memorial for a sweet girl gone too soon.  And their faith inspires me.  I remember times we would go and stay with them, and our babies Alyssa and Natalie would play together.  I can remember lots of giggles with that sweet girl.  And she has her victory now, after three years of hard battles.  Heaven is sweeter because Alyssa is there.  So many emotions.  Ultimately, though, gratitude.  I am thankful for my healing and my life, and I am thankful for the strength the Lord provides when we are in the battle, and also for the precious HOPE we have of Heaven.  We will see Alyssa, and so many more, again someday soon.

Then January 27, Nathaniel and I celebrated 16 years of marriage.  It sounds so cliche, but I truly do love him more today.  He has my heart.  I can't imagine doing this life with anyone else.  As I said on Instagram, "The day marks 16 years that I have been married to my very best friend.  On that rainy January day in 2001, I said, 'I do', and today, I still do.  We've had some better and some worse, some richer and some poorer, some sickness and some health.  We've laughed until our sides hurt, and wept in each others arms.  We've birthed children, grieved the loss of our children, celebrated the lives of our children, and are now parenting teens and tweens together."  My life is better beautiful with Nathaniel by my side.  He is strong, yet tender.  Serious, yet hilarious.  A hard worker, yet fun-loving.  And smokin' hot!!  Praying we have many many more years together!

So that's the news around here.  It's been a big week!  God is good, and He is faithful.  My life on the homestead is beautiful.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Family Photos

I know you all may tire of seeing the latest family photos we had taken, but I love every one of them!  I want to be sure to put a few of them here so I can scroll through and see them whenever I want to, ha!

These are the kids' faces every.single.time we kiss.  And that is often!  I remind them how blessed they are to have parents who love one another so much.

Hen Hollow Homestead Family

These two are my heart...walking around outside my body.

More kissing...can there ever be too much?  This man.  So thankful he is mine!

Friday, January 6, 2017

A New Year

Happy New Year from the homestead!  While 2016 was not a bad year, we are always excited about a new year ahead.  We cannot wait to see what blessings God has for us in 2017.  It is fun for me to look ahead and begin dreaming about the spring, when we will uncover the garden and plant lots of delicious food.  I've been spending some time watching videos and doing research online, figuring out what I want to plant this year.  I am hoping to can lots of yummy food this year, so a large garden is a must!

Before I completely put 2016 to bed, I want to share a few pictures from the last couple of months.  I've wanted to write here, and had several posts mulling around in my mind, but I think the Lord wanted me to just be quiet for a bit because each time I would sit to write, the words would not flow.  After several attempts, I decided to just listen to that little voice and not write for a bit.  I am thankful to be back now, and have some fun (and some not so fun) pictures to share.

Levi has re-discovered the joys of whittling, carving, and woodworking.  He made a few Christmas gifts to give to family, but unfortunately, there was a whittling accident before he could finish all of them.  He was working on a coaster for my brother-in-law when his knife slipped and he cut his finger.  He is very cautious, but accidents just happen sometimes.  We took him to the minor emergency clinic and had him stitched right up!  Now, after a couple of weeks, his stitches are out and everything is healing up well.  He can't wait to get back to work, and already has big plans.  Brave boy!!  The doctor even said he was the toughest boy she'd ever seen.  The LARGE needle full of numbing meds took a while to go in, and was given around two of his knuckles...and he squeezed my hand pretty hard, but was SO brave! The cut took ten stitches!

Levi soaking the wound before the stitches were put in.

After the stitches were removed.  He is a trooper!

Natalie is loving photography as always, and is developing lots of talent!  She enjoys outdoor pictures as well as pictures of people.  She likes to be creative and took these pictures the other day.  She used a small bundle of LED lights, and took the photos in a dark room.  I think they are awesome!

For a little adventure, we took the kids down to the stockyards to walk around, enjoy some lunch, and do the cattle pen maze.  We had a great time together, laughing and talking and enjoying the day.  Natalie took some great photos there as well, but I don't have any of them.  She will have to share some soon.

Lunch!  Our burgers were delicious!
Of course no post would be complete without an update on our hens.  They are not liking the short days, and the lack of sunshine means we aren't getting very many eggs.  But they are still mostly happy, though chilly. 

The girls!

We are so thankful for the two of you who read here ;)  We continue to enjoy life on the homestead, and can't wait to see what God has for us in 2017!