Thursday, August 31, 2017

My Soul is Full

Upon our return from vacation, I'm usually asked, "How was the cabin?"

I normally respond with something like, "Divine!"  

I can't help it.  The silence, the peace, the escape from connectivity, the heightened family connectivity and the spiritual refreshing is a savored gift from Heaven for all of us.  

This year, Blossom4 hiked six miles without being carried.  For the first time ever.  Since the Rugged Mountain Man and I love hiking, we're excited that now our family hiking goals can grow.  

I was also super excited to see elk tracks all around our cabin and on our hikes.  Experiencing the expansion of the elk herd has enhanced the mystique of the surrounding natural areas.

Being at the cabin also brings out the naturalist photographer in me.  I squealed with glee when I captured this inchworm "mid-inch!"

We kept noticing so many caterpillars and creepy-crawlers that I started photographing them.  

When we returned home, our school assignment for the day was identifying and studying these caterpillars.

Talk about fascinating!

I try to say yes to the girls as much as possible at the cabin and then soak up the peace wherever I can snatch it.  It's really a good plan.  I enjoyed so many little moments of peace and beauty that I could've missed.

Whatever part of the creek they were exploring, I'd plop down and just gaze around at the loveliness.  My soul ate it up!  

In those quiet moments, I felt the Lord ministering to my soul.  

Sometimes I swam too and sometimes I just carried stuff, like a good mom does.  

Hands down, this is my favorite shot of the whole week.  Blossom4 is definitely a critter lover!  She doesn't even care if things are slimy or scaly!

She looks thrilled.  The toads, not so much.

A little "talamander" that she adored...

And a frog!  We were all so excited because we saw several frogs during this trip.  Normally the toads are very visible and catchable.  

We never get to actually see frogs!  Imagine our excitement to have seen three frogs and caught two! 

Thankfully, Blossom4 didn't try to catch this hairy beast!  She was about 5-6 inches across and had an enormous egg sac attached to her.  Thankfully she scampered off when I decided to cross on the log where she was resting.  

In addition to all my caterpillar pics, from which I've spared you, I also am particularly fascinated with the vast world of mushrooms and fungi.  We photographed many mushrooms and when we returned home to identify them, discovered how magnificently vast that world is!  

It's much harder to identify mushrooms conclusively, than it is to identify caterpillars.  However, the girls and I are only more intrigued!

Though I don't recommend eating mushrooms from the wild without a mycologist on hand, we did discover that puffballs are one of the easiest edible mushrooms to identify.  According to the information we found about giant puffballs, if it has gills, don't eat it.  If it's purple, black or gray inside, don't eat it.  Apparently, the giant puffballs should be white and creamy inside to be enjoyed.  I don't plan on testing this out, as none of us are big 'shroom fans.  

So many treasures are buried deep in the woods.  From lush flora,

to mysterious and picturesque outbuildings.  My understanding is that this little building housed dynamite for the CCC camps, circa the 1930s.  

We've occasionally found other paraphenalia left over from the CCC days, sparking interest from our resident "geologist."  Mostly, I'm just thankful for all the trails and roads they put in during that time period.  

The Rugged Mountain Man and I were abundantly grateful for the quantity and quality of family time we were able to have this week.  

It's exciting to see the seasons of family life change.  There is more conversation.  

There are more ideas.  There is a wider scope of all-family activities.  

I think we're reveling in our little tiny girlies becoming people, interesting people.  

Passionate people.  

Beautiful people.  

Sweet people.

Family time moves into something more like fellowship.  

You feel "full" when everyone is climbing into bed at night.  

It must be the fleshing out of one of my favorite verses,

"Children are a blessing..."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Front Porch Sittin'

It was a busy weekend.  I realize that we experience very few that aren't.  I mean, four children, two dogs and a plethora of animals live here on our "micro farm."  When will it not be busy with good, honest work?!

I'm looking back on the weekend and all I can think of is how blessed I am by being able to bless people.

There were the friends who dropped in Friday afternoon.  Two different friends for two different reasons.  The Blossoms and I were left thankful for those little interactions.  Just some conversation and some laughter that may have brightened their days and yet, we walked away blessed.

Saturday dawned bright and beautiful with another opportunity to bless a fellow mama in the trenches.  I'm purposely not sharing details here.  I mean, remember that passage about not letting your right hand know what your left hand is doing?  It's one of the pitfalls of social media.  It's all too easy to share all the good you're doing and in blabbing that, totally forfeit the blessing God had for you.  There's so much out there that really oughta stay just between me and God.  It's not about all the accolades and "atta-girls."

I like the simplicity that I remember from my childhood ~ learning to do the right thing, with a happy heart, just because deep in your heart, you want to.

Sunday afternoon found us doing some serious "front porch sittin'," both blessing folks and being blessed.  More laughter and more conversation.

I always muse over the week and weekend come Sunday evening.  I like to soak in what's going on in my life, the themes and the message God is trying to get across to me.

We are vessels, filled up to overflowing with the Spirit, meant to be poured out and into the lives of others.  Ultimately, we find that in serving others, so much blessing actually comes our way.

I'd been filled up, because I'd reached out.

I reveled in this sweet blessing, remembering that blessing someone else isn't about the praises that reach our ears, it is truly experiencing joy in service.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fifteen Years

Today, fifteen years ago, I married the Rugged Mountain Man.

I have never regretted that decision.

Many marriages posts are so gushy, that they seem to get all up in your face.  The older I get, the more I shy away from that.  I can get gushy on my man, but no need to blab it to everyone, right?  Likely, the Rugged Mountain Man's preference for privacy has rubbed off on me over the years.  Hopefully I've also become more sensitive to whether or not something classifies as boasting.  Boasting benefits no one.

The Lord led us together.  There's no other explanation for a Wisconsin born girl who lived in Texas for seven years to eventually cross paths with a man who was born and schooled in Pennsylvania. 

Together we marvel at His beautiful orchestration of our lives.

The Lord shaped the Rugged Mountain Man's character into the rugged, dogged and faithful person I admire today.  Surely the prayers of his grandmothers and mother and the presence of his father were instrumental in this.  

I don't mention "rugged" only in reference to his physicality.  The Rugged Mountain Man's faith is strong, tough and capable of enduring hardship.  

I marvel at his Godliness, his patience and his wisdom.  
I reflect on his love and I whisper in wonder, "What hath God wrought?!"

Look at this man God has made.

Surely this is the fruit of years of God's own mighty handiwork.

And I'm humbly grateful.


Pictures from our vacation at the cabin and another local state park.  Believe it or not, the above photo was not staged or arranged in any way.  

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Story of the Porch

We've lived in this peaceful little Hollow since July of 2003.  We'd only been married one year when we bought a house we knew we would grow into.  We really have grown into it.  Every square inch of space is now seeing heavy use.

Now we're starting to take up outdoor space too!

We've long wanted a back porch and discussed numerous options over the years; 
always deciding that it wasn't a priority and wasn't in the budget.  

Last September, construction on a roof over the back deck finally began.  

The Rugged Mountain Man and I dug the holes.  Together. It was tough work, but so good for me to realize why I really don't have a "honey-do" list.  It's easy to dole out what all you want done 'round the place.  When you do the work together, you realize what it entails and how much time it takes.  I came out of that with a new respect for the dirty work the Rugged Mountain Man does around here.  If we want something done, it's much more respectful to pull weight in that request.

I also came away from this experience very thankful for my two neighbors and father-in-law who wielded hammers and other tools on Labor Day to get this thing up.

Don't you just love the turkey in the pic?  He sure did taste good!

With the roof up, the "porch," as I now call it, stayed that way for the next year while the pressure-treated wood cured.  It was wonderfully serviceable and we LOVED it.  It just wasn't pretty yet.

Next up: 
All hands on deck to stain and paint!

The Rugged Mountain Man, Blossom1, Blossom2 and I all painted and stained all day.  

It was very hard work, but we all worked the ENTIRE time, just like champs.

We even used their favorite boring work tip:
We downloaded audio books and listened while we worked.  It makes the time go faster!

The Blossoms have a greater respect of what goes into a project now.

We truly could not have done it without them!

We're enjoying this new space for good family time.  Just the other night, we had family game night out on the porch.  The laughter and banter were the highlight of my week!