What I’m reading right now.

For the past several years, I have had precious little time to read; between foster babies and normal mom stuff. But lately, I have committed to reading more books – not just magazines and blog posts. It is hard for me to find time to sit down and read a whole book. So much easier to pick up my phone and read a blog, or pick up a how-to book from my coffee table, and flip through it. But I am getting back into writing, and to be good at writing, you need to read, and read lots! So today, I thought I would share with you what books I am reading right now.

I read one of Miller’s other books several years ago and enjoyed it immensely, so when I saw his name on this book, I snagged it used from Amazon. It is even better than the first one I read! I am only halfway through it, but it’s great!

This book is starting out great! I love historical fiction, especially Biblical fiction. But it has to be done right, you know? Not cheesy. The Thoene’s always deliver! They are amazing authors, and I love everything they write. This book has me hooked, and I’m sure I will be buying the rest of the series!

This one I started over a year ago! (gasp) But I was so busy caring for my foster baby, homeschooling, and being a mom, that I never finished it. But I want to finish it soon!

So there is what I am reading! Yes, I have that weird habit of reading several books at once! But I do finish them, eventually. :) It is perfect reading weather right now – snowing and blowing outside, and a cozy fire inside. I am working on some Christmas cinch orders, too. It’s the time of year for indoor projects.

Snowsnowsnow cabin I hope your holiday season is blessed and happy. Try to sneak some reading in! :) And stay warm.

Here’s a little about me…

Hey friends! I have been getting some requests from my followers to share more of my personal life. So I made a couple short videos to help you get to know me better. :)

Here’s a short introductory video:

 

And here is a Q & A video, answering some questions that my Instagram followers asked. Please feel free to shoot me a message and ask any question you like! I love all comments and emails! :)

 

NOTE: The lens I use are the Canon 70-300mm, 50 mm, and 18-55mm.


Also – why did I say ‘post office town‘??!! I can’t talk on camera, apparently. Whatever.

 

 

One simple way to increase your faith.

For in it is revealed God’s righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17

increase-faith

Do you ever struggle to increase in faith? Does it seem that you just can’t get your eyes off the issue at hand, and truly have faith in God? Faith that He loves you, faith that He plans for you in love, faith that he is who he says he is.

There is one simple way to increase your faith.
Reading God’s Word. So simple, right? Yet such a struggle for most of us. My husband recently said: “The fact that it’s such a struggle to take time to read the Bible, shows how important it must be.”
Yes! If it were not important, Satan woudn’t care if we read it all day long! But the fact is; it IS important, so Satan makes sure we are too busy, get sidetracked, or just plain forget. I know, because I have been there myself. But, don’t be discouraged – rather, make it your ambition to begin reading the Bible regularly.

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Reading the Bible reminds me of God’s sovereignty. I see how God protected his children through thousands of years. I see his righteous judgement on evil, and his reward on the righteous.  I see the magnificent plan that began in Creation, and continues to this day. I see my place in the scheme of things, and how much God loves me, to send his Son to die for me. It reminds me of all the ways that God is perfectly loving and perfectly holy. That increases my faith in him!

One way to read more, is to have an easy place to look up verses when you are online. BibleVerses.com is a good resource. You can click on various topics, such as friendship, worry, hope, marriage, forgiveness. They also have short blog posts that are encouraging, if you just want a quick devotional.

Here are some more verses on faith: Faith

Fall Works and Fellowship.

fall-worksThe past few weeks have been busy with shipping calves and preg-testing the cows. We were blessed with warm, lovely weather. November is not normally this beautiful in Wyoming, so we are thankful for every sunny, warm day!

I cooked for the crew when they were working here, then went over to the boss’ place and helped with lunch when the crew was over there. Well, the boss’ wife did most of the cooking – I mostly just talked. 😀 It’s good to get together with other ranch wives, though.

shipping

shipping

shipping

This week we drove to our neighbors’ Bible study on Wednesday evening. Everyone brought a pot of soup or a salad, and we shared God’s Word over home-cooked food.

There is something special about fellowshipping over food. Sharing stories and doing life together. Laughing and eating and praying together. We read of Jesus often sharing stories and teaching around meals. He knew that eating together is a great way to be informal and relaxed.

We don’t sit down to eat with our enemies. We eat with our friends. We relax and start to open up to each other when we are seated around a table. We love Thanksgiving and Easter and Christmas in part because of the warm friendship and family times we have around good food.

shipping

shippingshipping

We drove over to our friends’ house and brought food, but they had to be willing to open their home, so we could all join in. Someone had to send that invite, make the calls, prepare food, sweep the floor, tidy the bathroom, you know — get ready for guests. No, it wasn’t fancy, (thank goodness!) it was a homey and inviting place, there was a stack of paper plates and a table loaded with help-yourself food, but the fellowship was heart-warmng. There was no stiffness or awkwardness, just simple food and warm smiles and genuine hospitality.

shipping

But someone had to open their home. We wait and wait for someone else to invite us, to organize something, to fill that need in our lives. We need to open our homes. To stop waiting for someone else to initiate and just be a friend. Invite someone over for lunch. Don’t worry if you aren’t a ‘hostess type’. Just do it. Everyone needs friends and fellowship, someone to do life with. Someone to listen and understand and say: “me too”.  Just text a few friends and say “hey, want to come over tomorrow night for tacos?” Don’t stress over ‘hostessing’, just invite friends into  your life. Open up your heart and your home, and be real.

What would happen if we all started reaching out on a regular basis? It doesn’t have to be a bible study – it can be supper. Or lunch. Or tea. Whatever you do – do that. Stop waiting on the others, and start being a blessing to those in your area.

shipping

Change – how to start the process.

Change - how to start the process. photo: a path in the woodsDo you ever feel like you can’t change? You have tried so often and still go nowhere? Do you ever wish for a magic button to push that would make you more organized, self-disciplined, or just plain motivated?  I know I have. I recently learned a scientific boost for those of us trying to make a change in our habits.

Here’s the secret: You have to make a long-term commitment. Studies prove that those who make a long-term commitment to a goal or project, are more likely to follow through.

“An Australian music psychologist called Gary McPherson arranged to speak to children who were about to have their first music lesson, and he asked them, “How long do you think you will play your new instrument?
“McPherson categorized the children’s answers as indicating either short-term, medium-term or long-term commitment. Then he checked and recorded how long each child spent practicing each week, and also categorized them as low, medium or high practice.
“Finally, each child took a standardized performance test using the instrument they’d been learning. When McPherson charted his two categories against the performance test results, he was amazed at the clear pattern that emerged…
“…the students who made a long-term commitment right from the start performed better, even if they practiced less! Meanwhile, those who only envisioned a short commitment to their instrument performed less well, even if they practiced plenty.
“So if you’re looking for the secret to success, it isn’t 10,000 hours of practice – it’s one long-term commitment.
“And you can make a long-term commitment to yourself *today* to realise your dreams and ambitions. :-)
“Just imagine the future results that will start to come from make that small decision right now…”    – Danny Iny, Mirasee.com 

I think of New Year’s resolutions — so many fall by the wayside in a matter of days or weeks. So obviously the goals have to be realistic. My personal method is to start with ONE thing. Right now my one thing is to get in the habit of working out. I like how I feel when I workout, and I am pretty sure I will like the results after several months. So I am sticking to that one thing.

Next, I want to set some realistic but long-term goals with my writing business. Then I will move on to organizing/housekeeping. I have many areas in my life that need improvement, but I am focusing on one at a time. All my life so far, has been random big resolutions that fell flat in a few days. This time I am being realistic with my schedule and my time and my weaknesses.

How to get to that place where you are so ready to change that you actually do the work? I can’t do that for you. No one can. But I can tell you something — if you start forcing yourself to be disciplined in one area,  I can assure you that you will start being disciplined in other areas. It just works that way!

I declare – this is about as weird a post as I have ever written! I mean, I am not very disciplined!! Just ask my husband. 😀 But the fact is, I recently started changing. One thing at a time. One baby step towards the things I want.

I hope you can be encouraged to realistically consider what you are wanting to accomplish, and see what steps you can take to get there. Pray. Ask your wise friends. Then make a commitment.

What are you committing to, today?

The Great Battle Against Self.

the great battle against self

Hey mom-friends, I have some real-talk today. I want to say it real slow, so you don’t miss any of it. Lean in and listen, ok? It’s important. It has to do with your perception of me. You might look at my online life and say ‘wow! she takes pictures, has a blog, cooks, home-schools, etc. She must be so talented!‘ I’ve heard that before. And it makes me smile because it’s nice to get compliments. I enjoy cooking, photography, homemaking stuff, and all that.  But inside I cringe. Because I am not perfect. I struggle daily with my old enemy: SELF.

I want to be kind; self wants to lash out.
I want to be hospitable; self wants to lock the door.
I want to be loving; self wants to ignore.
I want to be forgiving; self wants to relive the pain.
I want to be cheerful; self wants to be gloomy.
I want to be a prayer warrior; self wants to hit snooze.

The great battle of this Christian life is not physical, but spiritual. My spirit, warring with my Self. War is not fun. It is ugly and there are casualties. Often, I am left bleeding and wounded after a battle. I lay there minute, gasping for air, getting my breath back, so I can crawl to my feet again and face another round. It’s not easy, this fighting and struggling. It’s hard.

The one thing that makes it easier?
Don’t feed the enemy. Self gets weaker if you never feed her! Don’t allow self to feed on
vengeful thoughts,
gloomy thoughts,
resentful thoughts,
lazy thoughts.

You know that saying: “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair“?

It’s the same way with sinful or self-pleasing thoughts. They may pop into your head, but you – and you alone – can choose to kick them out. Yes, they will pop into your head multiple times per day. Maybe several times an hour. Maybe you have to literally get up and do something else to get your mind re-routed and stop the thoughts. But stop them! Don’t be distressed because you keep having sinful thoughts; be distressed because you keep allowing them to stay. As long as you are fighting, you are alive, spiritually.

Of course, the staying power in the Christian life is the Holy Spirit, living in us. By His power alone can we overcome sin. Ask Him to fill you. Ask Him to empower you. Don’t settle for a common life. Reach for the Overcoming Life where you live in victory over sin. Don’t think that it can’t be done — just because you haven’t done it, and you don’t know anyone who has.

I have never climbed Mt. Everest and I can say with some assurance that I never will. 😉 I don’t even personally know anyone who has climbed it! But I believe it can be done. I believe even I could,  if I had a desire to, and trained myself. It would be foolishness to say that it can’t be done, just because neither I nor my friends have accomplished it.The Great Battle against self, and scaling mountains

The same goes for overcoming sin. Not all at once, not all in one day. But one stronghold after another – just like the Israelites laid waste to the giants and strongholds in the  Promised Land. The power comes from the Holy Spirit. The weapon is the Sword of the Spirit. (The Bible, God’s Word) Your protection is the armor of God: “having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,  and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17

We are weak because we indulge our flesh — we give in to our earthly desires and passions. We need to get serious about overcoming sin, about dying to self – then we will grow. God wants us to grow and overcome, much more than we ourselves want it! Have faith. Believe that He is ready to help, willing to help, and eager to empower us!

Shipping Calves again.

red cow

We have been blessed with great weather for shipping and pregging. This morning I told myself to get with it and get outside, for once! It’s real easy to just say: “Oh, maybe next time”, but today I put on my big girl boots and bundled up to get some photos! :)
It wasn’t even that cold.
Which was nice.

They cowboys met in our yard, (yard being the general term for the parking area in and around the shop & barns) Once they were all there, they gathered around the cowboss to get instructions for the morning. Then they headed out by twos and threes, for various corners of the pasture. They got to the fenceline, then turned around and started pushing (moving) cows and calves together and towards the corrals. Some places call it a ’roundup’, I guess, in this area we call it a ‘gather’. We gather cows and ‘push’ them to the corrals. Obviously, we do not physically push them – it’s a term for herding. shipping 2016shipping 2016 ranchlife-213 ranchlife-223

I took the silhouette photo from my front porch, no joke.

cowboy sillouette

shipping 2016

Here they come – down the hill!shipping 2016

Once they get in the corrals, it’s sorting and weighing. Then loading them onto waiting semi-trucks. Sorting and moving calves down an alley is a great place to get photos – but I’m always afraid I’ll b in the way! :) So I try to stay pretty low profile. I get really nervous if I feel I am going to be a nuisance.

shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016shipping 2016

There’s my man!! :) He’s my favorite. He is currenty soaking his foot in Epsom salts, because he got stepped on so hard today, that he is limping. :( I wonder if that is what people think of, when they get starry-eyed about ranching? :) I doubt it. But still, cowboyin’ is a great life, if you’re tough enough to cowboy up! 😀

Ride The Brand, my friends.

The hurting among us.

fern

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one’s miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.”   ― C.S. Lewis

 

“I had no idea!”
“You never said anything!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”

I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. I can talk, alright. I talk too much, in my opinion. I say exactly what I think and why. I speak too quickly, too harshly, and all at full volume.

But.

When I am hurting, I don’t say much. (when I am hurt – then I often say something, regrettably) But when the pain is heart-wrenching and deep, when I cry myself to sleep from the pain, those hurts are hard to get out. I stuff them. Bury them under a breezy manner and quick smiles.

I bet you do it too. You feel scared. What people will think, or worse, what they will say. That must be where it starts – this fear of showing our hurts. We tried, when we were younger and full of trust. We shared, and they were not gentle with us. So we learned to stuff it. To hide it well.  Much too well. woodland fern

-If you knew that woman sitting next to you in church just experienced a miscarriage, you would stop judging her for missing 3 Sundays in a row. You might even hug her.

-if you knew that man ahead of you in the checkout line was still in shock over his wife leaving him – you would stop despising his unkempt appearance. You might even pray for him.

-If you knew that awkward girl was trying to recover from sexual abuse, you would stop telling people how ‘pathetic’ she is. You might even take her out for a meal.

-If you knew that person in the car ahead of you was crying from the pain of losing his child, you would not yell at him for driving so slowly. You might even cry too.

No, we do not judge and despise people when they are going through deep hurts. We sympathize. We are understanding and patient. The problem comes when we don’t know. We assume they are on the same busy path through life that we are following. We only see the tip of the iceberg, and like the Titanic – we don’t see the gigantic pain just under the surface.

See, most people don’t purposely add hurt to hurt. (some do, I’m not talking of those wretched people) Mostly, we try to sympathize and help each other. But still, we don’t share. It’s too private. The hurt is too raw, and besides, how and when and why do you even share how it feels to cry yourself to sleep over a pain that is 10 years old? 20 years old?  Isn’t there a statute of limitations on how long you’re allowed to grieve? Aren’t you supposed to ‘heal’ from childhood abuse, and get over it? “She wasn’t good enough for you anyways! Better fish in the sea!

No, my friend.

To you who are sad. Hurt. Grieving. It’s OK. Be happy if you can, grieve when you need to, feel the hurt when it comes. If you can find 1 or 2 strong and true friends who can handle your pain – that is ideal. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through some of my deep sorrows in life, were it not for my faithful few friends.  Although, there comes a point when only God can comfort you. Only He knows your heart without words. He understands! Don’t hesitate to run to Him with your pain.

To you who are not in a season of sorrow or loss; be aware. Don’t be too quick to judge someone, especially someone you are not very close to. They likely haven’t told you that their job is unbearable, or their health is poor, or their favorite uncle just died. Be sensitive to everyone. Assume that there is more to their story than they’re telling you. Be merciful.

 

I went back east… a woodsy photo post.

My one sister had a birthday, another is headed to a  foreign mission, so my sisters and I all gathered for a few days together in Pennsylvania. It was good to reconnect in person. Facebook and texting have their place – but there is nothing quite like face to face and heart to heart.
Also – sis has a massage chair.
Nuf said.

Pennsylvania porch

Unlike me – a person who has no decorating sense – sis has a lovely home and tastefully decorated rooms. Check out her porch! I just want her to fix up my home. :)

Pennsylvania porch

I ate fresh tomatoes out of her garden – even a few late raspberries! I am a bit crazy about fresh veggies, after living in the barren West for 10 years. I mean, between the short season and critters around here, it’s pretty hard for me to grow a decent tomato. So I enjoyed her garden, even if it was at the tail-end of the season.

Spider and Zinnia Cosmos

We drove to the Flight 93 crash site, which was sobering. I can’t help but think about the spouses, kids, parents, siblings, friends – all saddened by the passing of loved ones. Leaving politics and theories out of the  picture, it is a heart-breaking memory.
Flight 93

Then we drove to Ohiopyle State park. Yep, that’s a real name, folks. It took me awhile to figure it out, haha! It had two falls, one low and wide, and one high and narrow. Bothe were pretty. It was rainy and misty and cloudy – but I loved it. I wanted to sit by the falls and drink in the mossy, woodsy air for a long time… but then it started raining.

ohiopyle-fallscucumber-falls-ohiopyle-falls-29cucumber-fallsmushroomfernsfour sisters
We took the ATV through the hills and hollers, i walked in the rain-damp woods and picked up acors for my western-raised kids who’ve rarely seen them, we stayed up much too late every night, talking. We ate pumpkin dessert with ice cream, drank gallons of fresh cider, laughed and yawned and discussed potty-training and teenagers. Oh, it was great! I can’t wait till next time.

Snow on the Aspens

We had our first snow last weekend. It started with a few clouds hanging low over the mountain,  and some rain by our house. But when we woke up the next morning, the hills were covered with a white blanket of snow, studded with gold aspens.

Elk Mountain

snow on aspens snow on aspens snow on aspens

aspens in snow aspens in snow aspens in snow

 

It was a lovely drive, and I hope you enjoyed the pictures! :)