Sunday, April 30, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Off on a hike we go

JB captured these two photos of Joia and I taking three of our kids (her Moriah and Caleb and my Hannah) on a hike to the top of the ridge. See that clearing in the trees at the top right? That's where we are headed. If you can't see us, check the photo below. Really gives good perception to our farm.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Family Snaps Courtesy of my Friend Linda

Today has been a WONDERFUL day for me. Emotionally it was one of the best days I have had in the last few weeks. And my friend Linda took these beautiful photos:

Our pups Ritter and Arabelle (right)

The boys of our family: Sidge, Isaac, and Ritter

The girls of our family: Hannah, Abigail and Arabelle

Friday, April 28, 2017

When Panic Attacks

As always, I want my Blog to be "real." I want to share as much of me as I can. I obviously canNOT share all of me. Some is too personal. And if I shared every single thing in my mind, it could be a very scary thing. I'd probably end up hurting someone's feelings too.

But I wanted to take a moment to introduce an article to you about anxiety: When Panic Attacks. I will be touching on this more on my Blog, but I think it is important to understand what anxiety is and how it feels.

JB has a LOT of knowledge about anxiety and panic attacks from working in the ER. He sees this on an almost every night basis. I want to be sharing some of what I have been learning.

But I'll do it in small bites.

So stay tuned!

Friday Funnies

In preparation for the arrival of our friends Shane and Linda, the girls were helping me get the camper ready for them to stay in. Hannah brought me a tiny princess blanket and said it was for Ms. Linda.
Me: "Hannah I think this is too small for Ms. Linda."
Hannah: "No, it's not. Mr. Shane is much bigger than her."


Hannah turned to me while JB was unloading heavy cattle panels from the back of the truck and said: "My Dad is a hunk."


Hannah came in all dressed up. "Are you my princess?" I asked. "No," she replied. "I'm just a wittle kid."

Thursday, April 27, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Our First Essay

The following essay was written by my friend Joia's ten-year-old son, Keenan after their visit to our farm. What a fun present this is!

The Bauernhof Kitsteiner
By:  Keenan
April 24, 2017

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to a place called the Bauernhof Kitsteiner in Tennessee, which is basically a farm hotel.  My mom’s friend, Wendi, and her husband, John, own the farm and she has a camper for people who come to stay in.   When they come, she let’s them participate in farm chores such as gathering eggs from the chickens.  While we were there, I helped set up an electric sheep fence, gathered nearly a hundred eggs, and had an amazing time riding bikes all over the hills on their property.  I also played a lot of games such as Monopoly, Hotels, Scrabble and Chess.   Sadly, after three fascinating days we had to leave, but I will never forget the awesome time I had at the Bauernhof Kitsteiner.

We Bought a Farm: Hike with Sidge

JB has been posting some fun stuff on Facebook. I want to make sure I have a record of them. So here is his little note:
My second son (8-years-old) and I went out into our woods this morning. We found a breeding pair of Scarlet Tanagers (Piranga olivacea) and their nest!
He got to taste Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis violacea) for the first time... a bit too sour for him!
Here is the list of birds he saw today:
1. American Goldfinch
2. Blue Jay
3. Canada Goose
4. Common (European) Starling
5. Eastern Pheobe
6. Field Sparrow
7. Northern Cardinal
8. Northern Mockingbird
9. Pileated Woodpecker (First time spotting!)
10. Red-Winged Blackbird
11. Scarlet Tanager (First time spotting!)
12. Song Sparrow
13. Tufted Titmouse
14. Wild Turkey
15. Wood Thrush (First time spotting!)

Casting Crowns -- Oh My Soul

Thanks Aunt Connie for this reminder ....

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: Planet 316

Planet 316Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316Time for just a plain old FUN review! Daily Bible Jigsaw is from Planet 316 is simply a fun, peaceful, and relaxing way to have a little fun while keeping Christ continually at the forefront.

This product is a FREE app that works on IOS, Google Play, or as a Facebook game for Mac or PC. I actually added it as a Facebook game. There are additional costs if you want to purchase more coins, etc. but you can start it off and play for free without having to purchase anything.

While this game is intended for adults (and specifically I note the fact that your child could accidentally make a purchase if your computer isn't set up correctly), my five-year-old daughter, Abigail, was actually the biggest lover of this game in our family. I snagged a video of her playing the game which you can watch below:

While most of my reviews are for school-related work, this is just a FUN APP that I had the ability to review that you and your whole family can use for just some fun, peaceful, relaxing down time. You can complete daily Bible jigsaw puzzles. You can also use puzzle coins to access archived puzzles. Finish all the puzzles for a month, and you get a fun bonus on the calendar. You can play puzzles over and over to try to beat your own time!

The music is incredibly peaceful, the bonus puzzles provide extra entertainment, and the sound effects were a lot of fun for my daughter. In addition, there is an option to turn off the music which is always nice to have if you want to play without alerting the whole household to what you are doing. 

We both especially liked that we could use some of our coins to help us make the board a bit easier (which was very helpful for a younger player.) You can take a peek at the completed puzzle, rotate the pieces to be facing the correct direction, sweep unconnected pieces to the edges to help with distraction, and you can also just look at the edges if you want to as well. 

While I did not share this to Facebook, you can easily do that if you would like. You can also challenge your online friends to play as well!

Please take a moment to see if this game might be something fun for your family to have some contests and fun around. Check them out on Facebook or Twitter @planet_316.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me via email at if you have any questions or want to know more!

 Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

Color My Conversation {Northern Speech Services Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wee-wind Wednesday

Hard to believe that it was back in 2009 that I went through an anxiety workshop. You can read what I learned in that workshop here. It's a little frustrating to me that eight years later, I find myself at nearly the same spot. I'm a bit frustrated at myself about that -- that nearly a decade later, I haven't grown more than I have.

But I'm using this opportunity right now to grow. I have learned SO MUCH about anxiety from my husband. I am hoping he will help me write a Blog post on this at some point. He sees patients in the ER non-stop for panic attacks and has truly learned how to educate people about what is happening to prevent these events from occurring.

Here is what I know. People who deal with anxiety, have a "trigger." For me, mine is conflict. (Some people are triggered by fear of flying, fear of germs, or fear of death or dying.) In my case, it is conflict. And it doesn't even have to be real conflict. It can be pretend conflict. It can be someone saying something to me that they didn't even realize was an issue at all that sends me into a tailspin.

When I am healthy, I am able to handle these blips without incident. But when I'm floundering a bit, I face see the tiny blip and spiral. I make it all about the "issue" (which is often not an issue at all) instead of realizing it isn't the issue that is the issue. The issue is the anxiety that accompanies the issue.

(Did you get all that?)

But knowing that and convincing your brain of it is two different things.

Either way, I hope to write more about this in upcoming days/weeks/months. For now I have a husband who is logically and physically standing alongside me, and I have many, many of YOU who are praying and encouraging me. I also have a dear family friend who has walked this road that is standing with me in this valley. What a gift that is.

And here is what I know. Like all things in my life, climbing through this valley will make me stronger. It will make me better. It will make me more Christ-like in my love, compassion, and understanding for other people dealing with this.

As always, when you share, people share back. Just yesterday I ran into a casual friend in a random location who as I started sharing, started sharing herself. And suddenly we were both crying as we shared how what people saw on the outside wasn't how we felt on the inside. Here we were, both looking put together and on top of things -- and we'd both had major breakdowns earlier that day in the privacy of our own homes.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jesus Calling Daily Devotionals

April 25, 2017
"make Me your focal point as you move through this day. Just has a spinning ballerina must keep returning her eyes to a given point to maintain her balance, so you must keep it returning your focus to Me. The circumstances are in flux, and the world seems to be rolling around you. The only way to keep your balance is to fix your eyes on Me, the one who never changes. If you gaze too long at your circumstances, you will become dizzy and confused. Look to Me, refreshing yourself in My presence and your steps will Be steady and sure.
"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2
"but you are the same, and your years have no end." -Psalm 102:27
"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything." -1 John 3:19-20

Tribe Life Tuesday: Come to the Table

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Today’s post is a sequel to one I wrote in 2013. We had not really invited others into our story at that point because it was personal and deep and we coveted our privacy. Also, there was something within me that was sure it wasn't safe to share. So, when we were approached by our dear friend, who had been walking the journey with us, we knew it was time to clothe ourselves in bravery and enter the spotlight. 

As I re-read this blog so many things still ring true and I encourage you to read this post before diving into the words below. 

While there are so many truths in that 2013 writing, there are many things that have changed and places that have experienced undeniable growth. In these precious years of change and learning, our perspectives have expanded tremendously and the foundation for our beliefs have shifted. There were five mainstays that I want to revisit from that original posting. 

So here it is: the table is set, the place settings are laid, and the meal is nutritious, so grab your seat at the table; you are invited to partake. 
The Soup (course 1): At the time of the original post we were five years into our journey, we are now at year nine. 
Time has truly flown by. We are almost into a decade of marriage and it has been sweet, salty, and even bland at times, but it has gone by quicker than I ever thought it would. We could not have planned this life out better; it is ravishingly fractured. Fractures are small breaks that eventually heal, it’s in the process of healing that we are challenged to endure. Endure the discomfort and the pain until the brokenness is healed and there is full mobility once again. You see, there is one thing Joe and I have consciously made an effort to embrace, and this is being fully in each day. We look toward the future, we dream, we forge new paths, we breathe in our surroundings, and nine years later our journey seems like it’s only beginning. 

The Appetizer (course 2): "Regardless of infertility's difficult journey, we know that God's intentions for us are good.” 
This statement makes me chuckle a little and I know that, of course God’s intentions for us are good, but at the time I may have been struggling to believe that. So I said it and said it and said it again until I knew deep in my soul. I repeated this until it became the currency in the exchange between my heart and mind. The truth is, owning infertility makes the journey difficult. I’ve come to learn that you choose what you own. 

The Salad (course 3): "We have learned to completely and wholeheartedly trust God through this process.” 
Leaning on your spouse and your tribe in hard times is a must. Trusting God always is as necessary as breathing. Often we did not walk this statement out. We learned and forgot it, then repeated the process about 1,000 times and are still learning it today. As time continues and we continue, we are growing into our best selves. And with each expansion of us, we are presented the opportunity to trust more and in a different way. Trusting in someone bigger, smarter, and MUCH more capable than you eases the difficulties on your journey. It allowed us to take the pressure off, because there is only so much we can do. I, Carrie, am okay with handing that over.

Main Course (course 4): "While we would love to have biological children, and how I would love to conceive and carry our child, we know that we are called to adopt.” 
Funny enough, my feelings have drastically changed on this one. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism or maybe it’s how I’m coping with disappoint, but I don’t feel like it is. I don’t have the desire to conceive or carry our child. There are so many kids out there that deserve a good home and I want to adopt them and make that part of my contribution to culture and society. There is so much more I’d like to say about that but that will have to happen another day.

Dessert (course 5): We are confident that the path we are on is not ours alone. 
We are confident that our present suffering is minute compared a joy that awaits us. This path we have been forging has been dark and dismal but there is something ever so sweet about it. Not the suffering itself but rather what it is producing in us: a grateful heart, steadfast desire for justice, and a solace in relationship.

My friends, barrenness is like living deep within a cavern, it’s easy to slink away to the darkness and hide, but your perspective increases as you have the courage to make your way toward the light. 

Thank you for joining me at the table. I hope you’re leaving full and that you invite others to your table. Your story matters and we desire to partake with you.

Thank you for reading.

See you next Tuesday,
*Please note that content in guest blogs is not necessarily shared by the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Tuesday Truth

This hangs in our living room. I love it!