Thursday, May 31, 2018

Tribe Life Tuesday: When Perfect Isn't Enough

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

Happy TribeLife Tuesday! 
Let’s talk perception and perfection: 2 P’s that have a tendency to become runaway freight trains in our lives. But why is that? Let’s break it down. 
Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses; a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
There are two sides to this coin: the way we perceive and the way we are perceived by others and, friends, we can do something about both. 
Our perception of our lives directly affects the amount of joy, love, and happiness we will experience. So it is vital that we keep the lenses of our perception clean. (For more on lenses click here.) The way we view, feel, and know the things around us determines so much. For example, my husband and I have been in a season of transition and the roles we fill have changed significantly. I have always been an equal financial contributor to our household, and recently I have taken a backseat in that regard so that I could focus on building an empire for our future. As you know, at the start of every build there’s not very much there, just the bare bones. So during this time, I have had to face many of myself: perceptions. 
Then there's how others perceive us. This is such an easy adjustment. 
Here it is: 
That’s it! Just be yourself, with all of your flaws and all of your strengths. You don’t need to manage others perceptions of you, you only have to be you! 
I used to find much of my value in what I did, how well I performed, and the results I got, so when all of those things became non-factors it was a game changer in my soul. When results were not instant and growth was slow I became uncomfortable with who I was because my performance was not producing what I expected. So the mental impression I had of myself was sooty. 
Naturally, I was looking for some reason to perform. And I began putting those reasons on my husband. You know all the “shoulds”. 
That I should be further along in empire building.
I should be doing better.
I should be doing more so I can take the pressure off Joe. 
But the reality is that Joe was not thinking that at all. In fact, he was perfectly fine with the pressure. But my perception of me was causing me to be stressed out and frustrated with myself. Friends, if you have soot on the lenses of your perception, please for the sake of all things magnificent, wipe them clean. 
You may be asking how? Well, I’ve got you covered. 
  1. Tribe. Surround yourself with people who will speak the truth in love. These are the ones who encourage you to be the healthiest and best version of you.
  2. The All-Around. Create a space in your home for you. Let this be the one spot that is clean, orderly, & peaceful. Our minds and souls do their best work when the atmosphere is right, so create your space just for you. 

Now onto that other P: Perfectionism! 
I have never considered myself a perfectionist and I still wouldn’t. I will say I value quality so I will put in the extra effort to do things well but I won’t hold myself or my work to an absurd standard of flawlessness. Let’s be honest, there’s only been one human who has ever and will ever be perfect. And not to be cavalier, but even He was slaughtered because of others' perceptions of him.
So what is perfection? It’s the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects. It’s the action or process of improving something until it is faultless or as faultless as possible. 
If you are a perfectionist, hold on tight because I want to free you from the roller coaster of -ISM. The definition of perfection brings me more freedom than confinement because of this right here, as faultless as possible. That says DO YOUR BEST, get help, then release it. Refusal to release what you put your hands to until it is faultless will have you in a constant state of withholding. And we need what you have. 
Make that piece of art, be it a book, a blog, a kid, a marriage, a home, as good as you can and then LET IT GO. Your creativity levels will increase, your motivation will soar, and you will feel better. Plus, the world will get to see you and that is the best gift you can give. 
I believe that perfectionism is nothing more than a scapegoat we use to hide our mess. It’s a way to grasp for control of something on the surface, instead of digging in deep and addressing the ways we feel out of control. It's a way to keep the depth inside us hidden. 
So if you find yourself in this struggle, you’re not alone. Let’s do some damage to this lie that you have to do or be perfect. Take some time this week, grab a notebook (yes, the archaic pen and paper) and answer this: what drives me to refuse to give myself permission to release what I have when it is good? 
Tribe, you are the best! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Urgent Prayer Request

Cali (4th grade) with her grandparents: Toni and John

I am putting out an urgent prayer request this. I wanted to wait until Toni herself posted on Facebook before sharing outside of immediate prayer circle to protect their privacy, but now that she has posted and shared, I feel I can share as well. This is for PRAYER. I want everyone I know to be praying DILIGENTLY for John. I am not posting this to share news about my life. This isn't about me or how I am doing through this. This was definitely a traumatic event that I can process later. But this is for prayer. EVERYONE PRAY!!!

Yesterday around lunchtime, John and Toni and Cali came over to our house. Cali is going to be getting one of our puppies which she is naming "Abigail" after her friend from ballet, my Abigail, who introduced her to the puppies. They have come to the house many times for visits. I knew Toni as a fellow "ballet mom/grama" and we had become friends. When we got the puppies, they decided to get one for their granddaughter Cali, who lives with them.

I was taking the trash to the dump when they first got to the house. Apparently John sat down on a brick podium on our front porch and while Toni had her back turned, passed out. Toni immediately told my Abigail to run and get help. She ran in the house to get Grampa who was doing work at the house and babysitting. Just as Grampa and Toni got to John, I pulled up in my truck.

I won't get into all the details of everything that happened, but I will say that we were all greatly worried for John. I called my husband, JB, who was working at the ER, and he talked us through various things. At this point we thought maybe it was a heart attack or stroke that had caused him to fall over. We called 911 who came, stabilized him, and made the decision to bring a helicopter to the scene. We certainly live in a small town as all of our neighbors were coming to check on us. 911 immediately recognized this as the "Kitsteiner farm" and people thought something had happened to one of us. 

Because our farm is so hilly, the helicopter had to land about one mile away on a flat spot. This decision to fly him out was made so that John would not lose time going to Laughlin (where JB works) and instead go directly to a hospital with more critical care capabilities.

It does appear that the fall actually damaged John's back/neck. They still don't know what caused him to fall so I won't make any assumptions. The latest update from Toni indicates, that his spinal cord was not severed which was the initial diagnosis and instead he has a fractured neck with severe bruising to the spinal cord which is going to require surgery and use of a halo. 

I am including Toni's update below:

Going to try to give an update on John. at least as of now
..FIRST OF ALL, thanks with all my heart for all the prayers, phone calls and messages, sorry I couldnt get to them all. I am currently being told that his spinal cord is not severed rather he has a fractured neck with severe bruising to the spinal cord which is going to require surgery and use of a halo. That can not be done until his blood pressure is stabilized and it is determined why he took the fall from a sitting position today, heart/ vs possible currently doesnt appear to b stroke related. heart is not 100% ruled out yet. How much function he will regain will be determined after surgery. PRAYERS PLEASE, first blood pressure stabilizes, surgeons hands are guided, he regains total use of his limbs and body and that he will once again be breathing on his own. NOW......PRAY for comfort for Cali, she has never spent the night away from us. I am trusting God completely that He will get glory from all that is going on. Please forgive me if I dont get to your calls or messages I will update as I know anything BUT WE DO NEED YOUR CONTINUED PRAYERS.

Cali and her puppy "Abigail"

Monday, May 28, 2018

On Belay: When the Garden Is

I am incredibly excited to add a new Blogger to my rotation. I met Shelby Mathis while our husbands were stationed together in the Azores, and she has also come and worked on our farm! She will be posting every Monday!

I hurried inside as the thunder began to roll from the ominous clouds straight overhead. I tossed the remaining sack of compost and the hoe in the shed and gathered the seed packets up from the picnic table as the first drops fell from the sky. We'd wrapped up planting our vegetables just in the nick of time.

With the storm now raging outside, I tiptoed to the bathroom. I peeled off my dusty socks and side-saddled over the edge to wash my feet. As I watched the dirt and water swirl into patterns down the drain, I thought about the last time I had a successful garden.
On the island, I had vegetables nearly year-round. My Portuguese landlord helped me make a bed and run irrigation, a completely excessive luxury as I remember it raining constantly. The language barrier meant that at times I wanted to plant something in rows, he'd dump a seed packet erratically on the ground, shrug his shoulders and wish me luck (I think.) He'd transplant potatoes and carrots from his garden into mine. We both struggled to pronounce hugelkultur (it's German.) I could talk about gardening in broken Portuguese, but little else. "Cenoura" and "beterraba" were vocabulary words that came to mind before "carrot" or "beet" long after I'd left the island.

On our shared lot in the Azores, we spent the fall stomping grapes for wine, making aguardente (Portuguese moonshine), roasting potatoes alongside bacalhau (codfish), harvesting coffee berries off the bushes rooted deep below rings of warming lava rocks, and plucking figs off high branches and stuffing them straight in our mouths.

The veggies I planted on the island basically grew themselves. I know, what a concept! But when you've really only lived in hot, water-scarce places (South Central Texas, high desert New Mexico, and the Colorado Front Range) that's not the usual experience. We once went on a trip to another island for four days and came back to zucchini larger than most newborns.

Last year, we planted a few pepper plants and zucchini and some herbs, but nothing took. I would've taken hotdog-size zucchini, but we were left with crispy leaves and a super-sized water bill. We didn't know just how poor the soil conditions were. We underestimated the amount of water the garden would require. We didn't plant until late July. We knew it really was too late, but we had just gotten home from a two-month long roadtrip where we began to feel like we'd lost our roots along the way.

This year is different enough. We might be a little late, but we couldn't have planted any sooner. Four weeks ago was last frost. Three weeks ago, my husband and I were both out of town on separate trips. Two weeks ago, we rushed to Missouri after an unexpected death in the family. Last week, we were just keeping our head above water and trying to catch up from all the time away.

We couldn't have planted a garden any earlier, because as usual, we were on the move. Fingers crossed, we didn't miss the short optimal window for planting. But we may have.

My awareness returned to the scrubbing of my heels in the tub. I could hear the thunder rolling and thought about how my mom never let us shower during lightning storms when I was a kid. I don't imagine she'd be too happy with me doing it now.

I dried off my legs and went to the kitchen. I stood at the sink and arranged my newly planted herbs on the window sill. The rain continued to pound and a few bursts of popcorn-size hail fell. As I looked out over our new garden, I hoped this storm wouldn't be too stressful for the transplants or too aggressive for the shallow coverings over the seeds we'd just dropped. Either way, we had a garden. And this time, we'd be sticking around to see it through.

It's been three years since we've lived somewhere long enough to plant a real garden in the proper season. It's been three years since I could expect which trees would bloom in my own yard. It's been three years since we've  felt stable enough to invest time and energy in a garden we knew we'd be around to care for and eat from. It's been three years since I've felt like I was home.

We've moved a lot. I've traveled a lot. I've been to places and back again and sometimes the place is different and I'm the same, but most of the time the place is the same and I'm the one who's changed.

I've thought a lot about home in the last few transient years. What does it mean? What qualifies? What does and doesn't it feel like? Because I'd forgotten. I longed to put down roots in a house, in a community, in a church, in a city, in a garden. You sacrifice those things with every move and seasons of long-term travel, and what it was like to have them were fading memories for me.

Maybe home isn't just people, or a zipcode, or a nation. Maybe home isn't just where others need to know you're from so they can judge if you're "one of them". Maybe home is time. Maybe it's when you know your neighbors. Maybe it's when your IDs and cards and licenses all have the same address that go on your taxes next year. Maybe it's when you have house plants. Maybe it's when you stop feeling like a transplant. Maybe it's when you plant a garden -- plant anything -- you'll be around long enough to harvest.

Maybe home isn't where the heart is. Maybe sometimes home is when the garden is.

Climb on,


My housekeeper, Robin, lovesssss our dog Ritter. When we began to talk of possibly having puppies, she kept telling me that she wanted one and that she wanted it to be one ...


But then, when the puppies were born, Robin had a lot going on in her life and just felt that it wasn't the right time. She passed on getting a puppy, and I found a home for all seven of our little wonders.

But then on Sunday at church, the family that was going to adopt one of those puppies decided it wasn't the right time for them. It just so happened that they were the family who was taking our one male red merle who looked ...


(We had even temporarily named him Ritter Jr.)

Here is a picture of Ritter with his namesake. It's hard to see from the picture, but these two look identical, down to the spots on their pink noses:

So today when Robin came to help us clean, I told her about the fact that Ritter Jr. was now up for adoption again. Robin held him for just one second before deciding that God was making his way perfectly clear. He was supposed to be her puppy.

I emailed the family who had passed to confirm that they indeed did want to pass right now. They told me they were sure. So I grabbed Ritter Jr. and walked into the laundry room and told Robin that it was official. God had decided that Ritter Jr. was destined to be her dog. In fact, she is even going to be calling him that -- Ritter Jr. because he looks ...


Sometimes we pray, and we think God has given us an answer. I prayed and He and I and John decided we weren't going to renovate the house. And then we had a flood, and God said, "No, I think you are." Sometimes I think God wants to see if you are going to listen, and once a decision is made he says: "Okay, and now, here you go. Here is exactly what you thought you were giving up."

My heart is bursting with joy to see this puppy exactly where he was supposed to be all along. He's got an owner who is head over heels in love with him ...


Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Special Gift

About four days ago, I hit a wall. Like a big, thick wall I could not climb over.

I'm an athlete. I've hit many walls in my life. I know that I'll get through them. I knew, deep down, I'd get through this one, but I just felt like I didn't want to try to climb anymore. I wanted to quit.

I think what tipped me over was having our stairs sanded and varnished and painted which meant we couldn't go upstairs for four days. This meant everything back in my bedroom, and a room that I felt was finally getting under control, spiraling out of control again.

It is good to write these things because writing down that it was just "stuff" causing me to hit the wall is good to see. It is good to realize that in truth, it's still a bit shallow.

People call it first-world problems. I don't really buy that. Just because I live in the first-world doesn't make my problem not a problem. If I am always comparing it to people living harder lives than me, then I don't ever have an instance where it is okay for me to complain. Only one person in the world has it the worst.

My husband was a rock star. He talked me down off about four cliffs -- and honestly, I am not sure how he even knew which cliff I was on. He had such patience with me as I considered plopping down in a corner many different times and just having a great big cry fest.

Here's what I learned as I began figuring out a way to climb over the wall.

I thrive on order. I didn't realize how much until the very thing I thrive on was GONE. In the midst of all of our moves and life changes, I managed to maintain ORDER. Every time we PCS'ed (four!) I would make it work by maintaining order. Our things, our paperwork, our lives, while in upheaval, were orderly. When we moved into a new house, it was orderly. I was organized. We never stayed in boxes more than a few days. I am not neurotic about it. I am diligent and determined.

Leave it to God to humble me yet again. How many times in life do I say: I got this only to realize Yeah right.

He yanked that ORDER blanket out right from under me. When I balked at doing renovations because I thought it was overboard, he brought a small flood, and the renovations were forced upon us. He ordered our steps every single step of the way. He lead us to our renovation team, and we've felt his guidance all along the way.

But He has let me know what it feels like to live in state of disarray.

So many times in life you think you know what something feels like until you actually feel it.
  • You can't understand childlessness until you are childless.
  • You can't understand pain until you feel terrible pain.
  • You can't understand living away from family until you do.
  • You can't understand moving every 2-4 years until you are the one who is saying good bye again.
  • You can't understand losing someone you love until you do.
  • You can't understand addiction unless you've been addicted.
  • You can't put yourselves in someone else's shoes unless you've stood in those shoes.
I remember my Grama Huisman, a few months before she died, calling our home on Eglin AFB telling me how much pain she was in. "All those times I prayed for people who were in pain," she said, "I never really understood what it meant to live in pain."

I truly believe that God doesn't cause BAD but He always makes good out of the bad. (Romans 8:28). I believe that God is teaching me, in the midst of this renovation storm, what it feels like to not be able to maintain order. What do you do when order is not possible? How do you function? What does that feel like? John keeps telling me, "Wendi you can't organize this. It's unorganizable. You must embrace the chaos."

How do I do that

And in the midst of that, He gave me a special gift. I got my dressers for my room and the stairs were completed on the same day. The kids returned upstairs, and I was able to start putting my bedroom back together. It is just one room, but it was what I needed to feel some semblance of order amidst the storm. A neighbor, raising money for a mission trip, came over for a few hours. We planned on her doing work out on the farm, but the heat changed those plans. Instead, she helped me unpack books from the garage and start getting things back where they go.

Wherever YOU are today, don't forget that God is in the storm and that He will use this storm for you to stand alongside others. He is growing you. He is teaching you. He is leading. 

Be humbled. 

An Oasis

This is my new bedroom furniture! My mom, Joan, and JB went in together to get this furniture for me. I absolutely LOVE it. I have never had anything other than cheap mismatching furniture in my room, and I am so excited to have this. My room is becoming an oasis in this renovation whirlwind. (If you look out through the bedroom door you can see all the construction right outside of my room.)

So now here is where YOU come in. My good friend, Anni, has volunteered to make a quilt for my room. But I have no idea what color/design to do. Please email me (or post on Facebook) your design options. Check out the rug and wall colors and furniture colors to help me decide :)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Performing in Town

I have been wanting to find a way for the kids to "give back" to the community. But they are little, and there are four of them, and I wanted it to be something that didn't leave me, as the mom, with my head spinning off. 

Through a series of chance meetings, I was connected with a Senior Living Center in Greeneville, and I headed up our Homeschool group going there to perform some piano, guitar, and ballet. (This idea originally came to me when we did it as guests with my friend Michelle's group in North Carolina.) 
I hope we can do this once a month for the residents and that we will get more and more kids who want to share their talents. 

Here are a quick few videos/pics:

Isaac is soooo cool and collected. He actually sat down and just randomly played songs before we got started at 10am. He is never nervous and just simply loves to sit and play.
Hannah provided "emotional support" to her big siblings. :)

Gabriel playing the guitar
Ay-La -- a beautiful ballerina
Isaac on piano
Ay-la on piano
Sidge on piano! P.S. Abigail did two songs too but I forgot to take a picture! Ugh!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

We Bought a Farm: Take a Deep Breath and Look for a Pony

Why does it seem that tough farm days follow bad nights of sleep? Last night, I slept badly. And this morning, at 6:30am, we were up and at 'em attempting to take two of our males pigs to the butcher.

By 7:30, we only had gotten one of the two boys into the trailer. Dad, JB and I debated what to do. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," Dad said, and we took his advice. Man we wanted to get that other pig. We didn't want to have to go back to the butcher another day. But we also didn't want the one who was already in the trailer to get out.

We decided to take just one pig to the butcher. The other will live another day. Or week. Or month. Or whenever we can get it into the trailer.

I had to race around to do other animal chores and then to the house and get our seven puppies ready to go visit the vet. But on the way home, JB and I were taken a back when a pony ran across our path. A pony. No joke. You can't make this stuff up folks. Truly.

(By the way, we do NOT have any animals of the horse variety here on the Bauernhof.)

We knew it was our neighbor's pony. We had seen it at their house and running down our road escaping them a few times before. We had left our front gate open while loading the pig, and it had decided to join our farm. Only thing is, we have 100 acres. That's a lot of space for a pony that doesn't want to come home.

JB hopped on the four-wheeler, told our neighbor, and then we headed to the vet.

But the fun didn't end there. The day just got better. After healthy check-ups, we returned home. One of JB's coworkers who is going to be buying one of our puppies, brought her kiddos by to check in on their newest family member. Only thing was, she also brought a cat in her engine from her house. It was her neighbor's poorly cared for feline.

This poor cat was on death's door -- and not from the engine ride. I took one look at it, called JB, and he came over. We quickly made the decision the cat needed to be put down. I won't get into the gruesome details, but take our word for it. Anyone who saw that cat would agree that it didn't deserve to be faced with pain for one more single second. It was truly the most sick looking animal I have ever seen.

Thus began a little game of cat and humans as JB and his co-worker attempted to get the cat out of the engine and in a place where JB could put it down without getting scratched to death in the process. I had the lucky job of holding her little toddler -- too bad to not have to help catch a cat.

In the end, the cat was put out of its misery.

P.S. Oh and the pony is home. It had actually run back out another one of our gates and was on our neighbor's property. We saw it headed home late this evening.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I am (gulp!) forty-one

I cannot believe I am forty-one years old! I also can't believe that I have had the extreme honor, good-fortune, luck, and blessings to be connected to this awesome guy since I was sixteen years old. I absolutely adore him and he is simply my best friend in the whole wide world. There is nothing I enjoy more than having time with just him. We love our kids, but we also still really, really love each other. 

For my birthday, he and I escaped for twenty-four hours. We actually went to down to Pigeon Forge and stayed at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort. We took our season passes and went to Dollywood. We proudly rode ZERO rides. (We also unloaded from our vehicle and boarded the tram in about 15 seconds instead of 15 minutes when we go with a load of children.) 

Instead of rides, we watched two shows (we saw one group called Vocal Trash and really enjoyed them!) and did some browsing in all the artisan shops. (We never get to do those things with kids.) We also ate at Chipotle and went to Kilwin's for dessert. At the hotel, we laid around and watched a lot of HGTV. Man I'm glad I don't have TV or I'd be hooked on that channel.

I'm amazed at what just one brief day away does for my soul. A huge thank you to my awesome in-laws for letting us have a much needed break!

We Bought a Farm: Puppies are FOUR weeks old.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Home School Navigator

Home School Navigator
For the past few weeks, I have been using Home School Navigator with my four children for their language arts education as part of my review. This program is designed to compile the various aspects of a language arts curriculum into one package. Specifically this program focuses on the following five aspects of language arts:
  • Grammar
  • Reading
  • Writing 
  • Word study
  • Vocabulary
Instead of creating grade levels, Home School Navigator uses color levels -- recognizing that learning very rarely falls into exact grades. The colors for this program are as follows: 
  • Level RED: Child is learning letter recognition and formation. (Approx. Kindergarten reading level)
  • Level ORANGE Child can read simple words and sentences and is beginning to write. (Approx. 1st grade reading level)
  • Level YELLOW Child can read simple stories and write complete sentences. (Approx. 2nd grade reading level)
  • Level GREEN Child is can read short chapter books and is writing in longer passages. (Approx. 3rd grade reading level)
  • Level BLUE Child is reading chapter based books and is writing in paragraph form. (Approx. 4th grade reading level)
  • Level INDIGO Child can read longer chapter books, critique ideas, and write longer pieces of writing. (Approx. 5th grade reading level)
As a parent, you have access to every single level. You can choose which level to start your child on and change levels if it is too easy or too hard. Each level comes complete to guide you through 36 weeks of learning. Here's what included in a "package":
    Home School Navigator
  • A 36 Week Course
  • Daily Reading, Writing, and Word Study Lesson Plan (including flex days for your busy schedule!)
  • 60 Instructional Videos
  • Word Study Program (including word wall headings, cards, and games)
  • Activities That Encourage Multiple Learning Styles
  • Monthly Skills Checklist
  • Portfolio Maintenance 
  • Monthly Goal Sheet/Portfolio Check-In
  • Downloadable Review Games
  • And More!
For $97 (a little over $8 a month) your child and can work through this program on a daily basis.

I set my children in the following levels"
  • Hannah (age 4.5): Level RED
  • Abigail (age 6.5): Level ORANGE
  • Sidge (age 9):Level GREEN
  • Isaac (age 10):Level GREEN
Below is a screen shot I took of what Day 1 of our study looks like using Isaac/Sidge as an example. You can see that each day is clearly defined as to what we need to do:
I did a short "trial" of this program during the six weeks or so that I was reviewing it. This guide above shows you exactly what we did on a given day. Every single day is outlined like this for you making it super easy to follow along. Most things were available to me through the program or online, and if not, I got a few things at the library. 
While I only used this program on a trial basis during the last six weeks, I was nearly immediately sold on it. I want to let everyone know that I am planning on using this as THE language arts of our homeschool curriculum come fall. In fact, we will be homeschooling nine kids together this fall as I will be working in tandem with my cousin Hannah and her five children. Truly I believe that if you add a science and a math to this curriculum, your school year is completely set. It's that complete. It covers sooooo much.
As I mentioned above, each reading level comes complete with most everything you need to teach your child language arts from K-5th grade. There are daily reading, writing, and word study lesson plans. I strongly encourage you to check out Home School Navigator today. It is incredibly well priced and incredibly well done. I do not think you will be dissapointed!
You can check out Home School Navigator on Facebook, Pinterest (under Home School Navigator) or Instagram.

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: Reformed Free Publishing Association

T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
I have the pleasure of sharing a delightful book for 3-6 year olds with you: 
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC from Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Here are a few snapshots inside the cover of this sweet and simple book. You will notice the pages are very peaceful and subtle as illustrated in this excerpt from the letter X and letter B below. There is one page for every letter of our alphabet. The images are very lifelike and beautifully done. 
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC
T is for Tree: A Bible ABC

And here is a picture of my little four-year-old, Hannah, holding the book:

You can see from Hannah holding it about how big the book is and what size it is. It is a hardcover book and rectangular in shape. Even the cover provides a good explanation of what is within the pages. This is a sweet and peaceful book designed to be read by adult to child. I love that I can teach them letters while also continuing to read scripture. 


Each page provides a letter and something in our world that goes with that letter:

A is for ANTS
D is for DAWN
I is for ICE

And with each letter, a short rhyme is included followed by a scripture. 


For example, here is the text of three random pages from the book that I chose to share with you: 

A is for ANTS
Though weak and small in size,
They gather food all summer.
May God make us as wise. 

"There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer" Prov. 30:24-25


D is for DAWN
When morning lights the skies. 
Our Savior is the day star
Who in our hearts will rise. 


"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." II Peter 1:19


I is for ICE
Cast out across the land.
Our God sends forth his bitter cold.
Before it, who can stand? 

"He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?" Ps. 147:17


I think this would make a perfect gift for any parents' library, and I think it is specifically designed fro children who are still being read to. 

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T is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Scrubs and Ritter and Arabelle

Stones I painted for Scrubby's grave when my friend Leeann was here.

The sign on our farm which takes you on a shortcut past Scrubby's grave.

I never thought I would love another dog like I loved Scrubs. And to be honest, I don't think I do. Scrubby occupies a very special corner of my heart and was with me during an era in my life. John once said that Scrubs sort of defined a "season" of our life. He was there to lead us into parenthood and raising young children. He was there during our military years. He got us to where we needed to be and left us when his job was done.

But now I have two new dogs, and I have found they occupy a new part of my heart. Ritter is our "big lug." He truly wants only one thing in life and that is to be pet and loved and scratched and get his belly rubbed. He never barks at anyone. He simply runs up to them and rolls over. I love watching him as people walk by him. He looks at them and starts to roll over. It's as if he is saying, "I'd like to roll over onto my back, but before I do, I'd like you to make it clear you plan to stop what you are doing and pet me."

The other day, when the kids first moved upstairs after sleeping in our room for three months, they were a little scared. I told Abigail not to fear. Arabelle was outside with her pups, but I was going to leave Ritter at the bottom of the stairs to guard everyone. Abigail scrunched up her nose and said, "Mom, that's a terrible idea. He's the worst guard dog in the history of the universe. He wouldn't bark at a bad guy."

Touché little lady.

Ritter is Sidge's dog. Ritter doesn't have a "person" but Sidge has a dog. Ritter brings him so much joy, and is simply a big pile of love. He is not a good farm dog. He listens when he wants to and if you aren't watching, he'd eat any animal I let him eat. He will walk with me around the farm, but I have to watch him like a hawk. He is a house dog through and through. If he is outside, and I don't have time to give him full attention, he has to be on leash because we just don't trust him. Not only could he go after an animal, but he'd jog off with anyone who promised him a lifetime of belly rubs.

And then there is Arabelle. Arabelle is one of those dogs you hear about but don't believe exists. She is Lassie. She is absolutely and utterly sold out to me. She follows me, watches me, and truly believes it is her job to go everywhere with me. She seems to know we are doing the animal chores. She appears to speak English. She will sit and wait for me. She will watch me in the rain until I am done. A rabbit will cross her path, and I'll say "leave it" and she'll stop mid-stride. She can be across the farm, and if I call her name, she will come and sit at my side. She listens without exception and nearly perfectly. Not as good with others as with me, but she is simply breathtaking. I have never even met a dog like her. She has the full run of the farm, and we trust her absolutely and completely. She barks at strangers and keeps her distance but never gets aggressive. I am hoping to train her to run "errands" to Grampa and Grama's house (bringing things we need back and forth wearing a little dog backpack.) I really think she can do it.

And then there is Arabelle as a mom. WOW. Just WOW. We have decided we will do another litter next year as she is so wonderful at this and it has been so fun for us. She's amazing.

Since I have trained all my dogs the same, it is completely apparent that the dog's personality is a huge part of how well they do. They are like kids. You try really hard, but who they are is a huge part of  how they do!

I am so blessed to have had three wonderful dogs in my life. I loved them all in such different and wonderful ways. Every time I walk by Scrubs' grave I tell him, "Good boy Scrubby. You are a good boy." He really wasn't a good boy. He was a piece of work and always giving us a run for our money. But I loved him something huge. And I'm so glad I listened to a lot of good advice and decided to love another dog after him.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Visiting Another Farm

Abigail's good friend, Hailey (who will be getting one of our pups!) held a birthday party at a neighboring farm who does little "farm birthday parties." We had a wonderful day. Linda (and Eli) joined the girls and me while the boys hung out at the house. Here are some pics from the day: 

This pig was just like a dog! Lying down for belly scratches!

The owner had so many delightful and adorable little touches.

This picture CRACKS me up!

Hannah just wasn't feeling it.

Love this! :)

Abigail is doing such a good job holding Eli. Aren't they the sweetest!?